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David G. W. Nicoll

My Research

Noble identity during the French Wars of Religion: Antoine de Crussol, the duc d’Uzès

My recently completed thesis considered the identity of the French nobility in the period leading up to and during the Wars of Religion in France. Identity for the nobility was comprised of several important elements, including religion, honour, and loyalty to the monarchy.

I explored identity chiefly through the life of Antoine de Crussol, the duc d’Uzès. Crussol was a loyal servant to the queen mother, Catherine de Medici, but took up arms against the monarchy in the First War of Religion, become leader of the Protestants in Languedoc and Dauphiné. Although he had strong Protestant sympathies, Crussol never again fought for the Protestants in the later wars. In my thesis, I focused particularly on Crussol’s relationship with the monarchy; before, during, and after his adherence to the Protestant movement, and explore how the relationship developed or changed as a result of this adherence. I examined this theme in three distinct parts; rise in favour, rebellion, and return to the monarchy, through the years 1559-1573.

Part of this study concerns the motives that lead Crussol to join the Protestant movement, and the consequences of this decision. Crussol’s own religious convictions are evidently a major role in this analysis and exploring the interplay between Crussol’s service to the monarchy and his religious convictions certainly relates to current studies on the Wars of Religion. Several research questions are asked: how did Crussol view his own identity? What did adherence to and engagement in the Protestant party mean in practice for him? How did Crussol’s loyalty to the king fit with his religious convictions? How did joining the Protestant movement influence his traditional roles as a French noble? Drawing together disparate sources including correspondence, family papers, muster rolls, and Protestant political assemblies, a study of Crussol’s relationship with the monarchy provides further understanding of the noble-monarch relationship, and of the motivations that led nobles to join the Protestant movement.


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

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 and Publications

2020/2021 (upcoming) - Chapter entitled ‘Reforming France: The Protestant Political Assemblies during the First War of Religion’ in edited collection Reading the Reformations: Theologies, Cultures and Beliefs in an Age of Change, ed. Dr. Anna French.

2020 (January) - Delivered paper entitled ‘Noble zeal and the Reformed church: the pastor / noble relationship in sixteenth-century France’, at the Ecclesiastical History Society Winter Meeting, Carrs Lane Chapel, Birmingham.

2019 (August) - Delivered paper entitled ‘Bringing the Reformation into France: The Protestant political assemblies during the First War of Religion’, at the European Reformation Research Group (ERRG) conference in Newman University, Birmingham.

2019 (July) - Delivered paper entitled ‘Religious troubles and the French monarchy: the mission of Antoine de Crussol, 1561-1562’, at 'Holy Wars and Sacred States: Religious Conflict, the State, and Sacred Power in Early Modern Europe', at Queen’s University Belfast.

2019 (May) - Delivered paper entitled ‘La foi, la guerre, et le pouvoir : l’identité de la noblesse pendant les guerres de religion’, at la journée doctorale du Groupe de Recherche en Histoire des Protestantismes (GRHP), at l’Institut Protestant de Théologie in Paris, France.

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.

Other Training


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

Digital Humanities

Attended a workshop entitled ‘Getting the most out of primary source collections’ (2020), which explored using digital humanities tools (particularly the ‘Gale Digital Scholar Lab’), and resources such as text mining, text cleaning and topic modelling).


Completed collections digitisation, scanning (imaging and scanning software included), and handling training.


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