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  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
  • Online publication date: September 2012
  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online ISBN: 9781580466301

Book description

A history of the role played by the Franciscans during the contentious Wars of Religion [1562-1594]. 'The Politics of Piety' situates the Franciscan order at the heart of the religious and political conflicts of the late sixteenth century to show how a medieval charismatic religious tradition became an engine of political change. The friars used their redoubtable skills as preachers, intellectual training at the University of Paris, and personal and professional connections with other Catholic reformers and patrons to successfully galvanize popular opposition to the spread of Protestantism throughout the sixteenth century. By 1588, the friars used these same strategies on behalf of the Catholic League to prevent the succession of the Protestant heir presumptive, Henry of Navarre, to the French throne. This book contributes to our understanding of religion as a formative political impulse throughout the sixteenth century by linking the long-term political activism of the friars to the emergence of the French monarchy of the seventeenth century. Megan C. Armstrong is associate professor of history at McMaster University.


This is an extremely readable account, written in a lively and fluent style, establishing an effective balance between quotation, anecdote and analysis. The main themes are clearly enunciated and followed through, and it presents a convincing case for the importance of the Franciscans' political and spiritual role and their contribution to the triumph of Catholicism.'

Source: H-France

For the first time, this book brings into focus the substantial Franciscan role in the French religious wars and as such makes a welcome contribution to our understanding of the period. One of the real strengths of this text is the careful contextualization of the Observant Franciscans in the wider political and religious struggles of the period.'

Eric Nelson Source: English Historical Review

Engagingly written ... it is solidly based on manuscript and primary printed sources ... what she has done in this book is to put in place an important piece of the puzzle of explaining why France remained Catholic.'

Source: Catholic Historical Review

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