Mary Queen of Scots in the polemical literature of the French Wars of Religion
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The French Wars of Religion were more than a battle for outright military victory. They were also a battle for the hearts and minds of the population of France. In this struggle to win over public opinion, often apparently peripheral or collateral issues could be engaged to make partisan points. Such was the case with the polemical literature surrounding Mary Queen of Scots. Mary was a very French figure. But Mary's complex career- her brief marriage to the dauphin Francois, her adoption of a tolerant religious policy in Scotland, her implication in the murder of her husband, and her imprisonment and execution at the hands of a Protestant monarch - inevitably made her an ambiguous subject for polemicists, Catholic and Huguenot alike. Based on a bibliographic survey of over four hundred and twenty sixteenth century editions in French relative to the Queen, and extensive reading of these works, this study explores both the general contours and finer detail of French public interest in the Queen of Scots. Chapter one discusses the shifting historical relationship between Mary and France, while chapters two and three deal with the steady stream of Catholic and Huguenot publications relating to Mary that appeared in the public domain between 1548 and 1586. The heart of this study, however, can be found in its final two chapters, which deal with the polemical literature that poured off the presses in response to the execution or martyrdom of Mary. These chapters investigate the interface between the printed word and other media in the Catholic response to the 'tragedy' of Fotheringhay, and examine the many facets of the image of the martyred Queen. The martyrdom of the Queen of Scots and dowager Queen of France became one of the most prominent themes in the propaganda of the Catholic League. Over one fifth of Catholic polemic in the period 1587-1588 touched on the event, contributing to the radicalisation of popular opinion against the king of France, Henri III.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy