Brian Sandberg is an Associate Professor of History at Northern Illinois University who is interested in the intersections of religion, violence, and political culture during the European Wars of Religion. His monograph entitled, Warrior Pursuits: Noble Culture and Civil Conflict in Early Modern France (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), examines provincial nobles’ orchestration of civil violence in southern France in the early seventeenth century. Sandberg has served as a Solmsen Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Medici Archive Project, and a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute. He is currently revising a book manuscript on War and Conflict in the Early Modern World and researching a book project on A Virile Courage: Gender and Violence in the French Wars of Religion, 1562-1629.
In 1620, a noblewoman from Auvergne, described as “valiant” and “courageous”, left her province leading one hundred knights to join Marie de’ Medici during the ongoing civil war. This example of transgressing the boundaries of gender highlights a “woman warrior” directly engaged in the violence of the Wars of Religion that devastated France between 1562 and 1629.
In modern France, religious divisions separated the Calvinist and Catholic communities, building religious (or sectarian) boundaries while at the same time establishing new gender distinctions in French society. Despite these social barriers, women were major historical players in the Wars of Religion, promoting religious reforms and political programmes in a context of intense sectarian violence.
My objective is to carry out intensive research in French archives for a book project entitled Un Courage viril. Le genre et la violence en France pendant les Guerres de religion, 1562-1629 [Virile Courage. Gender and Violence in France during the Wars of Religion, 1562-1629], examining the gendered nature of violence and political culture during the Wars of Religion. This will be a comprehensive study of the role of gender in religious violence in France in the modern era, drawing up new perspectives on the dynamics of religious activism and sectarian violence.