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The Memoirs of Cardinal de Retz   By: (1613-1679)

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MEMOIRS OF JEAN FRANCOIS PAUL de GONDI, CARDINAL DE RETZ

Written by Himself

Being Historic Court Memoirs of the Great Events during the Minority of Louis XIV. and the Administration of Cardinal Mazarin.

CONTENTS

BOOK I.

BOOK II.

BOOK III.

BOOK IV.

BOOK V.

ILLUSTRATIONS Cardinal de Retz Photogravure from an Old Painting

Turenne Photogravure from an Old Painting

Richelieu Engraving by Lubin

Anne of Austria Original Etching by Mercier

Louis XIII Painting in the Louvre

Conde' Painting in Versailles Gallery

ORIGINAL PREFACE.

Our Author, John Francis Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de Retz, Sovereign of Commercy, Prince of Euville, second Archbishop of Paris, Abbot of Saint Denis in France, was born at Montmirail, in Brie, in October, 1614.

His father was Philippe Emanuel de Gondi, Comte, de Joigni, General of the Galleys of France and Knight of the King's Orders; and his mother was Frances Marguerite, daughter of the Comte de Rochepot, Knight of the King's Orders, and of Marie de Lannoy, sovereign of Commercy and Euville.

Pierre de Gondi, Duc de Retz, was his brother, whose daughter was the Duchesse de Lesdiguieres.

His grandfather was Albert de Gondi, Duc de Retz, Marquis de Belle Isle, a Peer of France, Marshal and General of the Galleys, Colonel of the French Horse, First Gentleman of the Bedchamber, and Great Chamberlain to the Kings Charles IX. and Henri III.

This history was first printed in Paris in 1705, at the expense of the Duchesse de Lesdiguieres, the last of this noble family, whose estate fell after her decease to that of Villeroy.

His preceptor was the famous Vincent de Paul, Almoner to Queen Anne of Austria.

In 1627 he was made a Canon of the Cathedral of Paris by his uncle, Jean Francois de Gondi, first archbishop of that city, and was not long after created a Doctor of the Sorbonne.

In 1643 he was appointed Coadjutor of the archbishopric of Paris, with the title of Archbishop of Corinth, during which, such was his pastoral vigilance that the most important affairs of the Church were committed to his care.

As to his general character, if we take it from his own Memoirs, he had such presence of mind, and so dexterously improved all opportunities which fortune presented to him, that it seemed as if he had foreseen or desired them. He knew how to put a good gloss upon his failings, and oftentimes verily believed he was really the man which he affected to be only in appearance. He was a man of bright parts, but no conduct, being violent and inconstant in his intrigues of love as well as those of politics, and so indiscreet as to boast of his successful amours with certain ladies whom he ought not to have named. He affected pomp and splendour, though his profession demanded simplicity and humility. He was continually shifting parties, being a loyal subject one day and the next a rebel, one time a sworn enemy to the Prime Minister, and by and by his zealous friend; always aiming to make himself formidable or necessary. As a pastor he had engrossed the love and confidence of the people, and as a statesman he artfully played them off against their sovereign. He studied characters thoroughly, and no man painted them in truer colours more to his own purpose. Sometimes he confesses his weaknesses, and at other times betrays his self flattery.

It being his fate to be imprisoned by Mazarin, first at Vincennes and then at Nantes, he made his escape to Rome, and in 1656 retired to Franche Comte, where Cardinal Mazarin gave orders for his being arrested; upon which he posted to Switzerland, and thence to Constance, Strasburg, Ulm, Augsburg, Frankfort, and Cologne, to which latter place Mazarin sent men to take him dead or alive; whereupon he retired to Holland, and made a trip from one town to another till 1661, when, Cardinal Mazarin dying, our Cardinal went as far as Valenciennes on his way to Paris, but was not suffered to come further; for the King and Queen mother would not be satisfied without his resignation of the archbishopric of Paris, to which he at last submitted upon advantageous terms for himself and an amnesty for all his adherents... Continue reading book >>


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