The Politics of Piety: Franciscan Preachers During the Wars of Religion, 1560-1600

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In this paperback reissue of The Politics of Piety, author Megan Armstrong 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.