Philippe de Mornay

1549-1623. French Huguenot* leader. Born at Buhy in Normandy and originally intended for the priesthood, he adopted Protestantism upon his father's death (1559), largely through his mother's influence. He excelled in classical studies at the University of Paris (1560-67), then was a traveling scholar at the universities of Geneva, Basle, Heidelberg, Padua et al. (1567- 72). This wide experience may explain his characteristic tolerant and broad-minded spirit. Returning to France convinced that the nation's foreign policy must be anti-Hapsburg, he associated with Coligny* and narrowly escaped the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.* He fled to England, but returned in 1573 counseling moderation. In 1576 he married the remarkable Charlotte Arbaleste, shortly thereafter entering the serving of Henry IV* (of Navarre) as soldier, diplomat, and adviser. He served Henry so brilliantly he became known as the “Huguenot Pope.” In 1589 he was appointed governor of the Huguenot stronghold of Saumur where he founded the greatest of the Huguenot Academies (1603). Bitterly disappointed by Henry IV's conversion (1593), he served him faithfully till callously disgraced in 1600. He was instrumental in the drafting of the Edict of Nantes* (1598). In 1600 he retired to Saumur, but continued to exert a powerful, moderating voice in the turbulent Huguenot affairs till he died at his castle of La Forest-sur-Sèvre.

Mémoires et Correspondance... (4 vols., 1624-25); J. Ambert, Duplessis-Mornay, études historiques et politiques... (2nd ed., 1848); N. Weiss, Du Plessis-Mornay comme théologien et comme caractère politique (1867); H.M. Baird, The Huguenots and Henry of Navarre (2 vols., 1886); R. Patry, Philippe du Plessis-Mornay: Un Huguenot homme d'état (1549-1623) (1933): good bibliography.