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Open Access Devoted Politics: Jesuits and Elite Catholic Women at the Later Sixteenth-century Valois Court

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Devoted Politics: Jesuits and Elite Catholic Women at the Later Sixteenth-century Valois Court

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This essay analyses how elite women at the sixteenth-century French court interacted with the Jesuits, in the context of the spiritual and political ambitions of all participants. Focusing particularly on the dynamic relationship between Catherine de Medici and the Jesuits, contextualized by the experiences of other elite women and men, it explores the period from the 1560s to the end of the 1580s during which Catherine occupied a powerful role and when individual members of the Society of Jesus rose to prominence at the court. To date, the scholarship of elite Catholic politics in which the Jesuits were involved has prioritized the activities of France’s monarchs, Charles IX and Henri III, and its leading men in dynasties such as the Gonzaga-Nevers and Guise. Re-reading many of the same sources with an eye to the contribution and activities of women offers the potential for a broader narrative.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Western Australia, susan.broomhall@uwa.edu.au

This essay analyses how elite women at the sixteenth-century French court interacted with the Jesuits, in the context of the spiritual and political ambitions of all participants. Focusing particularly on the dynamic relationship between Catherine de Medici and the Jesuits, contextualized by the experiences of other elite women and men, it explores the period from the 1560s to the end of the 1580s during which Catherine occupied a powerful role and when individual members of the Society of Jesus rose to prominence at the court. To date, the scholarship of elite Catholic politics in which the Jesuits were involved has prioritized the activities of France’s monarchs, Charles IX and Henri III, and its leading men in dynasties such as the Gonzaga-Nevers and Guise. Re-reading many of the same sources with an eye to the contribution and activities of women offers the potential for a broader narrative.

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2015-09-30
2017-11-24

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