The Cardinal of Lorraine and the Colloque of Poissy, 1561: A Reassessment

The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 06/1977; 28(03):265 - 289. DOI: 10.1017/S0022046900041452

ABSTRACT The colloque of Poissy, September–October 1561, was an important incident in the history of the Reformation, and a dramatic incident in the career of the cardinal of Lorraine. This subject was first studied in detail by H. O. Evennett in his book The Cardinal of Lorraine and the Council of Trent, published in 1930. More recently, Evennett provided the inspiration for Donald Nugent in his study Ecumenism in the Age of the Reformation: The Colloque of Poissy. It is upon these two important works that any reassessment must necessarily be based. In a concluding chapter on ‘the case of the cardinal of Lorraine’, Nugent wrote: ‘while the sources would seem to argue for a better view of Lorraine and his conduct at Poissy, an element of ambiguity remains’. This cautious comment refers to the introduction by Lorraine of the confession of Augsburg and a Lutheran formula on the eucharist. For Nugent, the ‘critical role of the enigmatic cardinal of Lorraine has never been resolved’. In order to concentrate on his subject, the colloque itself, Nugent skipped briefly over its historical background. This he believed to have been fully treated by others—doubtless Evennett in particular. It is, however, still necessary to study this historical background more precisely in order to clarify how and why the colloque arose. Only then does it become possible to interpret the all-important role of Lorraine.