Renee Deste

Renee d'Este duchess of Ferrara and princess of France, whose career was closely interwoven with the history of the Reformation, was the second daughter of king Louis XII and Anne of Brittany, and was born at Blois, Oct. 29, 1510 (according to some authorities, Oct. 10 or 25; we follow Bonnet [J.], Lettres de J. Calvin, i, 43). She was married July 30, 1527, to duke Hercules of Ferrara, and became the mother of five children; and in the exercise of her tastes for literature and art she made the court of Ferrara a centre of culture which emulated that of Florence and the Medici. Her sympathies, directed no less by personal conviction than by the traditions of her family and her early education, were with the Reformation. She encouraged Bruccioli to prepare an Italian version of the Bible, and allowed him to dedicate to her the first edition (1541), and she afforded a refuge to fugitive Protestants. Calvin availed himself of this asylum in 1535, and thus began a relation which was of great value to the duchess while he lived. He was allowed to pray and expound the Scriptures in a chapel which is still shown, until remonstrances from Rome induced the duke to banish him, and with him all the Protestant friends of his consort, down to the servants brought with her from France. The same influence led to the persecution of Renee in person. The relations of Ferrara with France had been broken off, and political added to religious prejudices aggravated the situation; but beyond restraints and disrespect she suffered little, until in 1545 the Inquisition was established in Ferrara and the reconquest of the land to Romanism began. The co-operation of Henry II of France was secured; Renee was compelled to listen to sermons in denunciation of her principles; her husband caused her to be imprisoned with two of her women, and placed her daughters Leonora and Lucretia in a convent. These measures broke her spirit and brought her to confession and attendance on the mass. She was restored to liberty Dec. 1,1554, after an imprisonment of two and a half months. She had enjoyed the counsel of Protestant friends during much of her period of trial: Calvin had written frequent letters, and had sent Francis Morel (of Collanges) to act as her spiritual adviser; and her former secretary, Leon Jamez, had also sustained her faithfully; but, in the heat of a persecution in which but few stood firm, her resolution gave way. The unfaltering fidelity of the whole of her subsequent life atoned for that single and temporary lapse. The experience of Renee was sufficiently trying in other respects as well. Her daughter Anna was married, against the earnest protest of her mother, to the chief opponent of the Protestant cause, duke Francis of Guise (Sept. 29, 1548). Her eldest son, Alphonso, quarrelled with his father and fled the country in 1552. Her husband died Oct. 3, 1559, after exacting from her an oath that she would no longer correspond with Calvin, from which she was, however, absolved by Calvin. Alphonso succeeded his father, and, influenced by pope Pius IV, at once compelled his mother to renounce his country or her faith. She chose the former alternative, and returned to France in September, 1560, leaving her children in Ferrara. France was at this period troubled with the disputes of Navarre and Conde with the Guises, and Conde lay in prison awaiting death. Renee did not hesitate to censure the disloyal cruelty of the Guises; and when their power was broken, on the death of Francis II, she became the open promoter of the Reformation. She invited Protestant clergymen into the country and caused Protestant worship to be held at her seat of Montargis and wherever she might make a temporary home in other places; but she was none the less earnestly engaged in promoting peace between the contending parties. At Montargis she so compromised their disputes that they were definitively laid aside. Her charities and her counsels were expended upon applicants of every class. When her son-in-law, the duke of Guise, began the war which during thirty years drenched France with blood, she determined that Montargis should be a refuge to all Protestant fugitives. Francis of Guise died Feb. 24, 1563, and the peace of Amboise was declared in March of the same year; and. as she was thereafter forbidden to celebrate the worship of her Church in Paris, even in her own house, she retired permanently to Montargis, though she subsequently accompanied Charles IX on his tour through the kingdom. She founded a school, enlarged and beautified the town, and took a lively interest in the translation of the New Test. into Spanish. At this time she received a last letter from Calvin, written (April 4, 1564) while he was on his death-bed, by the hand of his brother. From this period the records of her life become rare. The second religious war (Sept., 1567, to March, 1568) did not disturb her. She was at the H/tel de Laon in Paris during St. Bartholomew's Night, but was exempted from the general massacre, and succeeded in rescuing several of her coreligionists, whom she carried to Montargis and aided to effect their ultimate escape. She ended her noble life June 12,1575. An eloquent testimony to her faith was included in her will. Her remains were interred in the church at Montargis. See Munch [Ernst], Renata von Este und ihre Tochter (1831-33,2 vols.), not important and not always trustworthy; Catteau-Calleville, Vie de Renee de France (Berl. 1781-83). Brief biographies are given in M'Crie, Hist. of the Ref. in Italy; and Gerdes, Specimen Italioe Reformatoe; and a more detailed life in Young, Life and Times of Aonio Paleario (Lond. 1860, 2 vols.); Bayle, La France Protestante, viii; Bonnet [Jules], La Vie d'Olympe Morate; and Lettres de Jean Calvin. — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.