A name given to several European alliances formed during the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. The League of 1511–13 was directed against French ascendancy in Italy. The coalition was organized by Pope Pius II, and included England, Spain, Venice, the Holy Roman Empire, and Switzerland. It succeeded in its initial aims, but then there was squabbling over strategy and the hard-pressed French were able to conclude separate peace treaties with each member. The Holy League of 1526 was formed against emperor Charles V by France, the papacy, England, Venice, and Milan. It achieved little in the subsequent war, and Francis I of France made peace with Charles at Cambrai in 1529.
The French Holy League of 1576, also known as the Catholic League, was led by the Guise faction during the French Wars of Religion. Henry III ordered its dissolution in 1577, but it was revived in 1584 to play a major part in the War of the Three Henrys (1585–89). Its power waned after Henry IV accepted Catholicism in 1593.
The Holy (or Catholic) League of 1609 was a military alliance of the German Catholic princes, formed at the start of the War of the Jülich Succession (1606–14). During most of the Thirty Years War its forces served the imperial cause, with Tilly as its principal commander.
Subjects: World History — Early Modern History (1500 to 1700).