Charles de Lorraine was the second Cardinal de Guise, he was the younger brother of Francois de Lorraine and second son of Claude de Lorraine and Antoinette de Bourbon. He was the first Cardinal de Guise, and was the second Cardinal de Lorraine. Charles de Lorraine was born on February 17, 1524 at Joinville, he died on December 26, 1574 in Avignon. He became the second Cardinal de Lorraine after the death of his uncle Jean de Lorraine, the first Cardinal de Lorraine. In 1538, Charles was appointed as the archbishop of Reims, and became the Cardinal de Reims in 1547. The day after his appointment to Cardinal de Reims the coronation of Henry II took place, in which he officated.

Although known for his protection of Rabelais, Pierre de Ronsard and his generous foundation of the University of Reims from 1547 - 1549 earned him a place in the history of contemporary letters. Charles was chiefly known for his importance in political and religious history.

The Cardinal's efforts to enfore his family's claims to the Countship of Provence, and his temporary assumption of the title of Cardinal d'Anjou were without success. He also failed in 1551 when he tried to dissuade Henry II from uniting the Duchy of Lorraine to France. He did succeed however in creating political alliances that occasionally conflicted with each other. On one hand he was on par with the Lutheran princes of Germany, and on the other, with his interview in 1558 with the Cardinal de Granvelle at Peronne, he initiated friendly relations between the Guises and the royal house of Spain.

Thus, the Archbishop of Reims who crowned Henry II, Francis II, and Charles IX successfully had a personal policy that was not often in line with that of the French Court. This often confused his contemporaries.

The chronicler L'Estoile accused him of great duplicity; Brantôme spoke of his "deeply stained soul, churchman though he was", accused him of skepticism, and claimed to have heard him occasionally speak half approvingly of the Confession of Augsburg.
~ Catholic Encyclopedia
Charles de Guise was often held responsible for the outbreak of the Huguenot wars, and now and then attempted to establish the Inquisition in France. Many damaging pamphlets that were against him, aroused strong religious and political passions within him. Beginning from 1560 at least twenty-two of these pamphlets were in circulation and they fell into his hands. These pamphlets damaged his reputation as well as his standing among his peers. One of the pamphlets in 1565, "La Guerre Cardinale", accused him of trying to restore the three bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun to the Empire that were conquered by Henry II, the titles of the bishoprics were also formerly owned by the Guises.

In 1566 a discourse attributed to Théodore de Bèze denounced the pluralism of the cardinal in the matter of benefices.

Under the rule of Charles IX, the Cardinal of Guise was constantly either in disgrace or favour. In 1562, he attended the Council of Trent, having the full confidence of his royal master, the king. From May 26, 1562 to the end of the year, Louis de Saint-Gélais, Sieur de Lansac, Arnaud du Ferrier (president of the Parliament of Paris), and Guy de Faur de Pibrac (royal counsellor), who represented Charles IX at the Council, were all joined by the Cardinal de Lorraine.

Charles was also instructed come to an understanding with the Germans. In the reform articles on January 2, 1563, even if he was silent on the last point, it proposed to reform the church in leader and members, and to authorize Communion under both religions, prayers to be performed in the vernacular, and the marriage of the clergy. Pius IV was indignant, and Charles declared Rome as the source of all abuses. In questions of precedence which arose between him and the Spanish ambassador, Count de Luna, Pius IV decided for the latter. In September 1563 however, while on a visit to Rome, Charles who was intent on securing the pope's assistances for the realization of the political ambitions of the Guises, professed opinions less Gallican. Also when he learned that the French ambassadors, who left the council because they were dissatisfied of the legates obtained from the council of an approval to a project called the "reformation of the princes", which the ambassadors found contrary to the beliefs of the Gallican church. Charles endeavoured without success, to bring about the return of the ambassadors. He worked on the legates to withdraw the objectionable articles, and strove to secure the immediate publication in France of the decrees of the council, however this was refused by Catherine de Medici.

In 1566, François de Montmorency, governor of Paris and Charles' personal enemy, attempted to prevent Charles from entering the capital with an armed escort, the ensuing conflict and the precipitate flight of the cardinal gave rise to an outcry of derision which obliged him to retire to his diocese for two years. In 1570 he angered Charles IX by inducing Duc Henri, the eldest of his nephews, to solicit the hand of Margaret de Valois, the king's youngest sister. In 1574 he vexed the king more when, through spite, he prevented the marriage of Margaret de Valois with the King of Portugal. His share in the negotiations for the marriage between Charles IX and Elizabeth of Austria, and also that of Margaret de Valois with the Henry de Navarre, won him some favor, however it was brief because Catherine de Medici knew too well what a constant menace the personal policy of the Guises constituted for that of the King. Shortly after the death of Charles IX, the cardinal appeared before his successor, Henry III, but died soon afterwards.

Sources: Catholic Encyclopedia, The French Religious Wars.

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