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Huguenot Memoirs in A Companion to the Huguenots. Author: Carolyn Chappell Lougee. Add to Cart.
Books by Jean François Paul de Gondi
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Manual Le val de la morte embrassée: Tome 1 (GRANDS FORMATS) (French Edition)
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A Companion to the Huguenots. Authors: Raymond A. Mentzer and Bertrand Van Ruymbeke. The Huguenots are among the best known of early modern European religious minorities. Their suffering in 16th and 17th-century France is a familiar story. The flight of many Huguenots from the kingdom after conferred upon them a preeminent place in the accounts of forced religious migrations.
Their history has become synonymous with repression and intolerance. No one had more to do than Retz with the outbreak of the Fronde in October , and his history for the next four years is the history of that confused and, as a rule, much misunderstood movement. Of the two parties who joined in it Retz could only depend on the bourgeoisie of Paris.
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One stroke of luck, however, fell to him before his downfall. He was made cardinal almost by accident, and under a misapprehension on the pope's part. Then, in , he was arrested and imprisoned, first at Vincennes, then at Nantes; he escaped, however, after two years' captivity, and for some time wandered about in various countries. He made his appearance at Rome more than once, and had no small influence in the election of Alexander VII.
He was at last, in , received back again into favour by Louis XIV and on more than one occasion formally served as envoy to Rome.
Retz, however, was glad in making his peace to resign his claims to the archbishopric of Paris. The terms were, among other things, his appointment to the rich abbacy of St Denis and his restoration to his other benefices with the payment of arrears. The last seventeen years of Retz's life were passed partly in his diplomatic duties he was again in Rome at the papal election of , partly at Paris, partly at his estate of Commercy, but latterly at St Mihiel in Lorraine.
His debts were enormous, and in he resolved to make over to his creditors all his income except twenty thousand livres, and, as he said, to "live for" them. This plan he carried out, though he did not succeed in living very long, for he died at Paris on the 24th August One of the chief authorities for the last years of Retz is Madame de Sevigne, whose connexion he was by marriage.
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Retz and La Rochefoucauld, the greatest of the Frondeurs in literary genius, were personal and political enemies, and each has left a portrait of the other. La Rochefoucauld's character of the cardinal is on the whole harsh but scarcely unjust, and one of its sentences formulates, though in a manner which has a certain recoil upon the writer, the great defect of Retz's conduct: "Ila suscite les plus grands desordres dans l'etat sans avoir un dessein forme de s'en prevaloir.
They were certainly not written till the last ten years of his life, and they do not go further than the year They are addressed in the form of narrative to a lady who is not known, though guesses have been made at her identity, some even suggesting Madame de Sevigne herself.
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In the beginning there are some gaps. They display, in a rather irregular style and with some oddities of dialect and phrase, extraordinary narrative skill and a high degree of ability in that special art of the 17th century-the drawing of verbal portraits or characters. Few things of the kind are superior to the sketch of the early barricade of the Fronde in which the writer had so great a share, the hesitations of the court, the bold adventure of the coadjutor himself into the palace and the final triumph of the insurgents. Dumas, who has drawn from this passage one of his very best scenes in Vingt ans apres, has done little but throw Retz into dialogue and amplify his language and incidents.
Besides these memoirs and the very striking youthful essay of the Conjuration de Fiesque, Retz has left diplomatic papers, sermons, Mazarinades and correspondence in some considerable quantity.
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He was one of the leaders of the aristocratic rebellion known as the Fronde —53 , whose memoirs remain a classic of 17th-century French literature. He had some speculative tendencies in favour of popular liberties, and even perhaps of republicanism, he represented no real political principle, inevitably weakened his position, and when the break up of the Fronde came he was left in the lurch, having more than once in the meanwhile been in no small danger from his own party. By unanimous consent his physical appearance was not that of a soldier. He was short, near-sighted, ugly and exceptionally awkward.
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