Remembering the Holy League: Material Memories in Early Modern France

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One of the most traumatic episodes in the French Wars of Religion was the rise of the Holy League in the 1580s. This alliance of devout Catholic noblemen, clergy, and laymen had taken up arms to eradicate Protestantism and remove King Henry IV from the French throne. Because the king ultimately defeated the League and pardoned his opponents, scholars have argued that the troubles of the League were quickly forgotten. This essay demonstrates, however, that the League was actively remembered in post-war France, especially in material form. It explores a range of purpose-made objects that memorialised the conflict, including triumphal arches, monuments, statues, gifts, and paintings, which reveal two competing narratives of the Leaguer conflict. Royalists and turncoat Leaguers presented the movement as an abhorrent example of the dangers of rebellion, praising the monarchy as the restorer of order after decades of civil war. Committed Leaguers, in contrast, developed a proud counter-memory of resistance. As this essay argues, the monarchy did not seek to extinguish painful memories of the League, but instead sought to reshape and control public memory, while Leaguer counter-memories were relegated to the private sphere.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRemembering the Reformation
EditorsAlexandra Walsham, Brian Cummings, Ceri Law, Karis Riley
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780429054846
ISBN (Print)9780367150761
Publication statusPublished - 4-Jun-2020
Externally publishedYes

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