Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Local Politics in the French Wars of Religion: The Towns of Champagne, the Duc De Guise, and the Catholic League, 1560-95

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Local Politics in the French Wars of Religion: The Towns of Champagne, the Duc De Guise, and the Catholic League, 1560-95

Article excerpt

Local Politics in the French Wars of Religion: The Towns of Champagne, the Duc de Guise, and the Catholic League, 1560-95. By Mark W Konnert. (Burlington,Vermont:Ashgate Publishing Co. 2006. Pp. ix, 300. $109.95.)

This book is an extension of the author's previous study of the town of Chalons-sur-Marne during the French Wars of Religion. In that work, published in 1997, Konnert focused on the political choices made by the urban elites in Chalons to try to understand how and why they ultimately chose in the 1590's not to side with the Catholic League Guise family, who had numerous holdings and strong ties in the region, unlike every other major town in Champagne. In the work under review here, Konnert offers a comparative study, comparing and contrasting the fortunes of Chalons with the two other largest towns of the region, Troyes and Reims, as well as several much smaller towns in the province.This might seem an odd choice, given that his own monograph on Chalons and the recent monograph on Troyes during the religious wars by Penny Roberts would seem to have already covered much of this ground. Nevertheless, despite some overlap with those two books, Konnert's comparative work still has something worthwhile to offer.

Konnert's argument is that the success and failure of the League in Champagne depended much less on the patronage network of the Guise family than on the local political choices made by the municipal elites in the region. He goes on to add that the Guises' neglect of urban elites "irreparably damaged their cause in urban Champagne ... [and] played a large part in the failure of the Catholic League and of the Guises' ambitions in the towns of Champagne" (p. 265). The author is right to stress that politics were indeed localized and each town dealt with national issues such as the rise of the League in its own way. Indeed, the strength of the book lies in the archival research that has uncovered the local dynamics of political power as negotiated by the urban elites in the towns under discussion. …

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