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The Sacrifice of the Mass and the Redefinition of Catholic Orthodoxy during the French Wars of Religion

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Luc Racaut


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Before the outbreak of the French Wars of Religion, there was internal disagreement over whether the Church should concede points of theology to Protestantism for the sake of concord. Charles de Guise, cardinal de Lorraine, sought a compromise with Lutherans in the Holy Roman Empire and was prepared to forgo the sacrificial aspect of the Mass shortly before attending the Council of Trent. This coincided with the crown's policy of conciliation, but also drew on contemporary understanding of the sacrifice of the Mass among French Catholics. The cardinal de Lorraine eventually rallied to the Council of Trent's pronouncements, relinquishing former hopes of reaching a compromise with Protestant theologians. This required, in turn, an adjustment on the part of those whose theology had been compatible with a Lutheran understanding of the Eucharist. Ironically, those who had been in dialogue with Protestants were better placed to refute their propositions than intransigents who had refused all contact with heresy. The former participated in the redefinition of Catholic orthodoxy and drew confessional battle lines just as the French Wars of Religion were beginning.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Racaut L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: French History

Year: 2010

Volume: 24

Issue: 1

Pages: 20-39

ISSN (print): 0269-1191

ISSN (electronic): 1477-4542

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/fh/crp074

Notes: The research for this article was conducted thanks to a British Academy Small Research Grant awarded in 2003 and an AHRC matching leave scheme awarded in 2006 that provided the breathing space necessary to write this article.


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