DRMA Winter Quarter Lecture 2015, The Gondi: Family Strategy And Survival In Early Modern France

This lecture was presented at DePaul University on March 11, 2015 in the Richardson Library.

Notwithstanding widespread French admiration for Italian culture in the sixteenth century, Italian influence at the heart of French government aroused xenophobic antagonism amongst many in French society. The Gondi: Family Strategy and Survival in Early Modern France throws light on this complex relationship by offering the first detailed examination of the Gondi, one of the most powerful of the Italian families active during this period. The Gondi family played a leading part in the finance, government, church and military affairs of the nation, and were indispensable counselors to the French monarchy. Based on my new archival findings, this lecture will detail the family’s use of patronage, financial acumen, and other strengths and tactical strategies which allowed them to maintain control and influence in France during the turbulent Wars of Religion. In 1612, St. Vincent de Paul entered the services of the Gondi family as tutor to the children of Philippe-Emmanuel de Gondi and his wife, Françoise Marguerite de Silly. He also served as Françoise Marguerite’s spiritual guide and confessor and was active as a missionary on the Gondi estates. One of the children tutored by St. Vincent, Jean-François Paul de Gondi, grew up to be the historically notable Cardinal de Retz, author of Mémoires du Cardinal de Retz, published posthumously in 1717.