Saturday, March 25, 2017

John Calvin and the Princess

Renée of Ferrara sheltered Protestant refugees, wrote bold letters to Calvin and other reformers, and courted the wrath of her own family. But restrictions on women's roles prevented her from having a wider influence.

A little girl's dreams: With her friends in frilly dresses, she becomes a beaming princess at her birthday party. She shops with her mother for a princess costume on Halloween. But the real story of a princess rarely fits the fantasy. So it was with Princess Renée of France.

"Had I had a beard I would have been the king of France," she fumed. "I have been defrauded by that confounded Salic Law." Renée was convinced that she was as fully qualified to succeed her father as a male heir.

The Salic laws of the Franks had been codified some 1,000 years earlier. Most often cited was the law excluding females from ascending the throne. Renée would become an important figure in the political and religious wrangling of the 16th century, but not as Queen of France. In fact, she would be the Protestant Reformer John Calvin's leading lady—a strategically positioned woman with influence in both France and Italy. Read More

Photo Credit: PD-US

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