Philippe de Mornay, seigneur du Plessis-Marly

Mornay, Philippe de, seigneur du Plessis-Marly (fēlēpˈ də môrnāˈ sānyörˈ dü plĕsēˈ-märlēˈ) [key], 1549–1623, diplomat and publicist for the French Protestants, or Huguenots, during the French Wars of Religion (1562–98; see Religion, Wars of); also known as Philippe Du Plessis-Mornay. After narrowly escaping the massacre of French Protestants in 1572 (see St. Bartholomew's Day, Massacre of), Mornay became the chief diplomatic agent for the Huguenot leader Henry of Navarre, retaining that position after Henry was made (1589) king of France (see Henry IV, king of France). For his service he was made governor of the Huguenot stronghold Saumur, where he built the greatest of the Huguenot academies. His power waned after Henry's conversion to Catholicism (1593), but Mornay continued to exert a moderating influence on turbulent Huguenot affairs. Mornay was instrumental in the drafting of the Edict of Nantes (1598; see Nantes, Edict of), which established political rights and some religious freedom for the Huguenots. Louis XIII ousted Mornay from Saumur (1621). Mornay wrote many religious and political works, and is credited with writing the Vindiciae contra tyrannos (1579), an early tract advocating the people's right to resist an evil king.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French History: Biographies