House of Guise
Coat of arms of House of Guise
General Information



House of Stuart

The House of Guise was a French ducal family, partly responsible for the French Wars of Religion.

Background Edit

The House of Guise was founded as a cadet branch of the House of Lorraine by Claude of Lorraine, first Duke of Guise (1496–1550), who entered French service and was made a duke by King Francis I. The family's high rank was due not to possession of the Guise dukedom but to their membership in a sovereign dynasty, which procured for them the rank of prince étranger at the royal court of France. Claude's daughter, Mary of Guise (1515–1560), married King James V of Scotlandand was mother of Mary, Queen of Scots. Claude's eldest son, Francis, became a military hero thanks to his capture of Calais from the English in 1558, while another son, Charles became Archbishop of Reims and a Cardinal in the Catholic Church.

In 1558, the Dauphin Francis married Mary, Queen of Scots. When the sickly young man became king after his father's death in 1559, the queen's uncles, the Duke of Guise and his brother the Cardinal of Lorraine, controlled French politics during his short reign. This prompted the Amboise conspiracy in which the Huguenotsand the House of Bourbon plotted to usurp the power of the House of Guise. The Cardinal of Lorraine was also leader of the French representatives at the final sittings of the Council of Trent, and, ironically given his family's role in French politics, had fought for a greater willingness to compromise with Protestantism than the Italian and Spanish delegates.

Championing Catholicism against the Huguenots, in 1560, the Guise family brutally put down the Conspiracy of Amboise. After King Francis' death they opposed the more tolerant policy of the Regent,Catherine de' Medici, and their doings provoked the French Wars of Religion.

The Duke Francis helped to defeat the Huguenots at the Battle of Dreux, but he was assassinated shortly afterward, in 1563. His son, Henry of Guise, became the third Duke of Guise (1550–1588). He helped plan the infamous St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre and was responsible for the formation of the Catholic League. The death of the royal heir-presumptive, the Duc d'Anjou, in 1584, which made the Protestant King Henry of Navarre heir to the French throne, led to a new civil war, the War of the Three Henries, with King Henry III of France, Henry of Navarre, and Henry of Guise all fighting for control of France. Guise began the war by declaring the unacceptability of Navarre as King of France, and his control of the powerful Catholic League soon forced the French king to follow in his wake. Immensely ambitious, in 1588 Guise, with Spanish support, instigated a revolt against the king, taking control of the city of Paris and becoming the de facto ruler.

Members Edit

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