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David G. W. Nicoll

My Research

Faith, warfare and power: noble identity during the French Wars of Religion

My thesis explores the identity of the French nobility in the period leading up to and during the early Religious Wars in France (1557-1573). Identity for the nobility was comprised of several important elements, including religion, honour, and loyalty to the monarchy. Identity, underlined here in terms of social affiliation, is defined as the social markers that a figure adhered to or was part of, family being one example. I consider the identity of the nobles who joined the Protestant movement, investigating their decision, character, actions and thought processes. I examine what this adherence meant in practice and highlight the consequences of this decision.

In order to examine this identity, I am studying the figure of Antoine de Crussol, the duc d’Uzès, a noble in southern France, along three lines of inquiry: religious convictions, noble power networks, and relationship to the monarchy. As the arrival of Protestantism had a considerable effect on noble religious life, troubling noble consciences, religious convictions are integral to this study. Noble networks are defined as the different types of social relationships that existed between nobles, such as between provincial governors and the lesser nobility. Loyalty to the monarchy was a key element of noble language during this period, and studying this rhetoric and also the actions of the nobles allows us to consider the importance of loyalty to the Protestant nobles. The French Wars of Religion act as a backdrop to these themes, and examining how noble affinities or groups acted in wartime is particularly noteworthy. The theatre of war shows nobles acting out thought processes and beliefs, and enables study of noble engagement in the Protestant war machine. While there are numerous studies of French nobles, my thesis advances our knowledge by analysing Crussol along these three themes, and consider in detail the consequences of joining the Protestant cause.

Using sources including correspondence, family papers, muster rolls, and Protestant political assemblies, several questions are asked: how did nobles view their own identity or role? What did adherence to and engagement in the Protestant party mean in practice? What effect did their Protestant adherence have after they returned to Catholicism? The hypothesis is that adherence to the Protestant cause had a significant effect on the nobles in general, as shown through these three themes, affecting their status even after their return to Catholicism. Through a thematic study of one noble, I provide an increased understanding of the motivations that led nobles to join the Protestants, and shed further light on their character and the consequences of this decision, both during and after their adherence to the Protestant cause.


Research Interests

Sixteenth-century France and Ireland, European Protestantism, French Wars of Religion, noble culture.


Academic Profile

2016 - 2020 Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick (ongoing)

2014 - 2015 Master of Philosophy (M. Phil) in Early Modern History at Trinity College, College Green, Dublin 2.

  • Dissertation title: ‘So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up’: the relationship of the Reformed clergy with the Reformed nobility in France. Supervised by Dr. Graeme Murdock.

2010 - 2014 International Bachelor of Arts in Single Subject History in University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4.

  • Undergraduate dissertation title: John Troy and the Romanisation of the Irish Roman Catholic Church, 1776-1786. Supervised by Dr. Eamonn O’Flaherty.
  • Completed ERASMUS year studying History through French in Lyon, France (2012-13).

Conference Papers

2018 (November) - Delivered paper entitled 'Orality through the medium of noble correspondence: the letters of Antoine de Crussol during the French Wars of Religion, 1562-1563', at the workshop 'Orality in France c.1550-1800', at the University of Warwick.

2018 (July) - Delivered paper entitled 'The Protestant war machine during the French Religious Wars: the role of Antoine de Crussol' at the annual conference of the Society for the Study of French History, at the University of Warwick.

2018 (June) - Delivered paper entitled 'Protestant noble identity during the French Wars of Religion: the case of Antoine de Crussol' (incorporating my new research) at the University of Warwick Postgraduate History Conference (co-organised with Christian Velasco).

2017 (June) - Delivered paper entitled 'Protestant noble identity: the case of Antoine de Crussol' at the annual conference of the Society for the Study of French History, in Glasgow, Scotland.

2016 (September) - Delivered paper entitled ‘Relationship of the Reformed Protestant clergy and nobility in sixteenth-century France’ at the European Reformation Research Group (ERRG) conference in Newcastle, England.

Awards and Scholarships

2018 (February) Awarded a research grant from the Royal Historical Society.

2017 (March) Awarded a research grant from the Society for the Study of French History.

2017 (March) Awarded a Cluff Memorial Studentship from Trinity College Dublin.

2017 (February) Awarded a Callum MacDonald Memorial Bursary from the University of Warwick.

2016-2020 Departmental Doctoral Scholarship, The University of Warwick.

Conferences and Workshops

2018 (November) Workshop entitled 'Orality in France c.1550-1800', at the University of Warwick.

2018 (July) Annual conference of the Society for the Study of French History, at the University of Warwick.

2017 (June) Annual conference of the Society for the Study of French History, in Glasgow, Scotland.

2016 (September) 'Religion and Violence in France: From the Religious Wars to the Revolution' at the University of Warwick.

2016 (September) Reformation Studies Colloquium at Newcastle University, England.

2016 (September) European Reformation Research Group (ERRG) conference at Newcastle University, England

2015 (March) Unconventional Warfare: Guerrillas and Counter-Insurgency from Iraq to Antiquity at Trinity College, Dublin.

Other Training

Languages

English (native), French (advanced - C1 level), Latin (intermediate), German (basic), Irish (basic).

Paleography

Taken classes studying early modern British and Irish texts at Trinity College (2014), also early modern southern French texts at the Archives départementales de la Haute-Garonne, Toulouse (2015-2016).

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David G. W. Nicoll

d dot nicoll at warwick dot ac dot uk