First Advisor

Thomas Luckett

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History




Constitutional law -- France, Church and state -- France -- History, France -- Politics and government -- 16th century



Physical Description

1 online resource (73 p.)


Humanist legal scholarship was the catalyst to historical revolution that took place in sixteenth-century France. French philologists succeeded in demonstrating the cultural distinctiveness of France from a heretofore assumed classical heritage shared with ancient Rome. As a result, scholars sought to retrace the historical origins of France in the non-Roman Gauls and Franks. Their intensive study of the laws, customs and institutions that developed in France, as distinct from ancient Rome, transformed the understanding of the national past. Following the introduction of the principles of historical anachronism and cultural relativism, the sixteenth century witnessed a transformation of traditional perceptions of historical time. It was during this period when the historical myths, legends and traditions that comprised the cultural fabric of French society were called into question, were transformed, and emerged as new myths that spoke more directly to the crises of the French Religious Wars. The purpose of this study is to attach greater significance to the Tumult of Amboise of 1560 than has previously been afforded in the scholarship of this period. The Tumult of Amboise provide not only the impetus for the civil wars that were waged in France for nearly half a century, but also served as the catalyst for an first expression of Protestant resistance theory that was to change the face of political discourse in this period. The debate centered around the Tumult of Amboise set the stage for constitutional theories regarding the laws of succession and the role of the Estates-General that were dominate political discourse in the latter half of the sixteenth century. As political polemicists increasingly sought to reconstruct an image of the mythical French past, in order to demonstrate the ancientness of the French constitution, the historical fiction that developed around these efforts became a functioning political ideology that should be viewed as one of the first concerted expressions of French nationalism. In this regard, the recreation of the national past took on a patriotic dimension heretofore absent from traditional, chroniclesty led medieval histories and, in time, developed into a uniquely Gallican mythology that stood defiantly as a rival to the cultural heterodoxy of Rome. Further, the purpose of this study is to demonstrate the developmental nature of political discourse in this period. As the civil wars progressed, doctrines of constitutionalism and limited monarchy began to be laced with more abstract theories regarding the nature of political obligation and the responsibility of the ruler to his subjects. Employing a comparative analysis of discourse from the 1560's to the succession of Henri IV, it will be shown that the transformation of political propaganda was direct! y dependent on the historical memory of the participants, who engaged in an effort to frame the political and religious crises within the context of their perceptions of the past.


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL

Persistent Identifier

Included in

History Commons