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Political Thought in the French Wars of Religion

Sophie Nicholls

NICHOLLS Sophie, Political Thought in the French Wars of Religion, Cambridge University Press, 2021.
ISBN : 9781108840781

Through its close, critical reading of the political treatises and polemical literature produced in France in the sixteenth century, this book offers a valuable new contribution to the intellectual history of the Early Modern era. Sophie Nicholls analyses the political thought of the theologians and jurists in the Holy League as they pursued their crusade against heresy in the French kingdom, during the wars of religion (1562-1629). Contemporaries portrayed the Leaguers as rebellious anarchists, who harboured dangerously democratic ideas. In contrast, Nicholls demonstrates that the intellectuals in the movement were devoted royalists, who had more in common with their moderate counterparts, the ’politiques’. In paying close attention to the conceptual language of politics in this era, this book shows how jurists and theologians in the League presented visions of sovereignty that subtly replenished medieval ideas of kingship and priesthood, and endeavoured to replace them with a new synthesis of intellectual tradition and political power. In a period when ’the state’ was still emerging as an idea, analysing League thought in the context of Jesuit and Second Scholastic sources positions the Leaguers in relation to innovative attempts in European Catholic circles to re-think the nature of belonging to a political community.

 Situates the political thought of the Holy League within the broader intellectual and political history of the Wars of Religion
 Challenges existing perspectives on early modern French political thought, by demonstrating the intellectual connections between the League and European, scholastic ideas regarding sovereignty, law and the church
 Shows how League political thought did not ’end’ with the demise of the movement, but metamorphosed in the seventeenth century, as debates about the relationship between church and state continued

Table des matières

List of Abbreviations
1. Contextualising the League
2. The politique Leaguer
3. Frank and Free
4. The Church ’in’ the Commonwealth
5. ’Brutish Thunderbolts’ : Papal Power and the League
6. Scholasticism in League Political Thought
7. Jean Bodin and the League
8. Amor Patriae

Sophie Nicholls is a College Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Oxford. She specialises in the French wars of religion and her interests range from the intersection between theological and juridical conceptions of politics, to developing conceptions of citizenship and rights in the Early Modern era.