MAYENNE, CHARLES OF LORRAINE, DUKE OF , second son of Francis of Lorraine, second duke of Guise, was born on March 26, 1554. He was absent from France at the time of the massacre of Saint Bartholomew, but took part in the siege of La Rochelle in the following year, when he was created duke and peer of France. He went with Henry of Valois, duke of Anjou (afterwards Henry III.), on his election as king of Poland. On his return to France he fought under his brother, the 3rd duke of Guise, against the Huguenots. As governor of Burgundy he raised his province in the cause of the League in 1585. The assassination of his brothers at Blois on Dec. 23 and 24, 1588 left him at the head of the Catholic party. The Venetian ambassador, Mocenigo, states that Mayenne had warned Henry III. that there was a plot afoot to seize his person and to send him by force to Paris. At the time of the murder he was at Lyons, where he received a letter from the king saying that he had acted on his warning, and ordering him to retire to his government.
Mayenne professed obedience, but immediately made prepara tions for marching on Paris. After a vain attempt to release his relatives who had been arrested at Blois, he recruited troops in his government of Burgundy and in Champagne. When Mayenne entered Paris (Feb. 1589) he formed a council general to direct the affairs of the city and to maintain relations with the other towns faithful to the League. To this council each quarter sent four representatives, and Mayenne added representatives of the various trades and professions of Paris in order to counterbalance this revolutionary element. He constituted himself "lieutenant general of the State and crown of France," taking his oath before the parlement of Paris. In April he advanced on Tours. Henry III. in his extremity sought an alliance with Henry of Navarre, and the allied forces drove the leaguers back, and had laid siege to Paris, when the murder of Henry III. by a Dominican fanatic changed the face of affairs and gave new strength to the Catholic party.
Mayenne was urged to claim the crown for himself, but he proclaimed Charles, cardinal of Bourbon, at that time a prisoner in the hands of Henry IV., as Charles X. Henry IV. retired to Dieppe, followed by Mayenne, who joined his forces with those of his cousin Charles, duke of Aumale, and Charles de Cosse, comte de Brissac, and engaged the royal forces in a succession of fights in the neighbourhood of Arques (September 1589). He was defeated and out-marched by Henry IV., who moved on Paris, but retreated before Mayenne's forces. In 1590 Mayenne received
additions to his army from the Spanish Netherlands, and took the field again, only to suffer complete defeat at Ivry (March 1590). He then escaped to Mantes, and in September collected a fresh army at Meaux, and with the assistance of Alexander Farnese, prince of Parma, sent by Philip II., raised the siege of Paris, which was about to surrender to Henry IV. Mayenne feared with reason the designs of Philip II., and his difficulties were in creased by the death of Charles X., the "king of the league." The extreme section of the party, represented by the Sixteen, urged him to proceed to the election of a Catholic king and to accept the help and the claims of their Spanish allies.
But Mayenne, who had not the popular gifts of his brother, the duke of Guise, had no sympathy with the demagogues, and himself inclined to the moderate side of his party, which began to urge reconciliation with Henry IV. He maintained the ancient forms of the constitution against the revolutionary policy of the Sixteen, who during his absence from Paris took the law into their own hands and in November 1591 executed one of the leaders of the more moderate party, Barnabe Brisson, president of the parle ment. He returned to Paris and executed f our of the chief mal contents. The power of the Sixteen diminished from that time, but with it the strength of the League.
Mayenne entered into negotiations with Henry IV. while he was still appearing to consider with Philip II. the succession to the French crown of the Infanta Elizabeth, granddaughter, through her mother Elizabeth of Valois, of Henry II. He demanded that Henry IV. should accomplish his conversion to Catholicism before he was recognized by the leaguers. He also desired the continua tion to himself of the high offices which had accumulated in his family and the reservation of their provinces to his relatives among the leaguers. In 1593 he summoned the States General to Paris and placed before them the claims of the Infanta, but they protested against foreign intervention. Mayenne signed a truce at La Villette on July 31, 1593. The internal dissensions of the league continued to increase, and the principal chiefs submitted. Mayenne finally made his peace only in Oct. 1595• Henry IV. allowed him the possession of Chalon-sur-Saone, of Seurre and Soissons for three years, made him governor of the Isle of France and paid a large indemnity. Mayenne died at Soissons on Oct. 3, 1611.