The Gondi family : strategy and survival in late sixteenth-century France
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This thesis details the rise to power of one of the great families of late sixteenth-century France, the Gondi. Antoine de Gondi, the last of fifteen children, left his native Florence to settle permanently in France in the first decade of the sixteenth century. Like many other Italian immigrants of his time, he established himself in Lyon as a merchant and banker. He later bought the Seigneurie du Perron, and married a woman of Piedmontese origin, Marie-Catherine de Pierrevive. Catherine de’ Medici met the couple and soon after invited them to court, giving them positions in the royal households. Antoine’s children, most notably Albert and Pierre, distinguished themselves at court, and not long afterwards were awarded the highest offices of state and church. Albert became Marshal of France in 1573, and Pierre became Bishop of Paris in 1570. At the same time, they proved themselves indispensable servants to the monarchy, and served the crown diplomatically, politically and financially, both in France and on foreign missions. Both brothers had large Parisian real estate holdings, both inside and outside the city centre. The essential role of the Gondi women in family strategy is also analysed. Albert and Pierre’s sister, Jeanne, became Prioress at the royal Priory of Saint-Louis de Poissy. The cousins of Albert and Pierre, Jean-Baptiste and Jérôme Gondi, stayed closely connected to the world of international banking and, together with other bankers, facilitated loans to the increasingly insolvent crown. The Gondi were often targets of anti-Italian hostility from various segments of French society, and contemporary perceptions of the Gondi family are examined. This study shows the family’s deployment of and reliance on close kin to expand their web of influence throughout France and abroad. This dissertation details the many mechanisms employed by the Gondi family to consolidate and expand their influence during the tumultuous French wars of religion.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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