Michel de l'Hôpital

Michel de l'Hôpital

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Michel de l'Hôpital (1507 – 13 March 1573) was a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 statesman.

Biography


De l'Hôpital was born near Aigueperse
Aigueperse, Puy-de-Dôme
Aigueperse is a commune in the Puy-de-Dôme department in Auvergne in central France.-Notable people:Aigueperse was the birthplace of:* Michel de l'Hôpital Aigueperse is a commune in the Puy-de-Dôme department in Auvergne in central France.-Notable people:Aigueperse was the birthplace of:* Michel de...

 in Auvergne
Auvergne (province)
Auvergne was a historic province in south central France. It was originally the feudal domain of the Counts of Auvergne. It is now the geographical and cultural area that corresponds to the former province....

 (now Puy-de-Dôme
Puy-de-Dôme
Puy-de-Dôme is a department in the centre of France named after the famous dormant volcano, the Puy-de-Dôme.Inhabitants were called Puydedomois until December 2005...

).

His father, who was physician to the Constable de Bourbon
Charles III, Duke of Bourbon
Charles III, Duke of Bourbon was a French military leader, the Count of Montpensier and Dauphin of Auvergne. He commanded the Imperial troops of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in what became known as the Sack of Rome in 1527, where he was killed.-Biography:Charles was born at Montpensier...

, sent him to study at Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

. At the age of eighteen he was driven to leave Toulouse for Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

 by the poor fortunes of the family patron. He studied law and letters for about six years in Padua, after which he joined his father at Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

. He also studied law in Bologna. When Charles of Bourbon died, he went to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 in the suite of Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

. For some time he held a position in the papal court at Rome, but about 1534 he returned to France, and became an advocate. His marriage, in 1537, procured for him the post of counsellor to the parlement
Parlement
Parlements were regional legislative bodies in Ancien Régime France.The political institutions of the Parlement in Ancien Régime France developed out of the previous council of the king, the Conseil du roi or curia regis, and consequently had ancient and customary rights of consultation and...

 of Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

.

He held this office until 1547, when he was sent by Henry II
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

 on a mission to Bologna, where the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 was sitting; after sixteen months of wearisome inactivity there, he chose to be recalled at the end of 1548. L'Hôpital then held the position of chancellor to the king's sister, Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry
Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry
Margaret of Valois, Duchess of Berry was the daughter of King Francis I of France and Claude, Duchess of Brittany.-Early life:Margaret was born at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye...

. In 1553, on the recommendation of the Cardinal of Lorraine (Charles de Guise, brother of Mary of Guise
Mary of Guise
Mary of Guise was a queen consort of Scotland as the second spouse of King James V. She was the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, and served as regent of Scotland in her daughter's name from 1554 to 1560...

, regent of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

), he was named master of the requests, and afterwards president of the chambre des comptes
Chambre des comptes
Under the French monarchy, the Courts of Accounts were sovereign courts specialising in financial affairs. The Court of Accounts in Paris was the oldest and the forerunner of today's French Court of Audit...

(treasury).

In 1559, sickly fifteen-year-old Francis II of France
Francis II of France
Francis II was aged 15 when he succeeded to the throne of France after the accidental death of his father, King Henry II, in 1559. He reigned for 18 months before he died in December 1560...

 (married to the young Mary, Queen of Scots) succeeded to the throne; Mary's uncles François, Duc de Guise
Francis, Duke of Guise
Francis de Lorraine II, Prince of Joinville, Duke of Guise, Duke of Aumale , called Balafré , was a French soldier and politician.-Early life:...

, and Charles de Guise may have held much of the true power in this period, and did much to persecute the French Protestants and reduce the power of the Bourbon and Condé
Condé
-Places in France:*Condé, Indre, in the Indre département*Condé-en-Brie, in the Aisne département*Condé-Folie, in the Somme département*Condé-lès-Autry, in the Ardennes département*Condé-lès-Herpy, in the Ardennes département...

 princes. In an attempt to balance their power, the queen-mother Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who was Queen consort of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II of France....

 sent word to the more even-handed l'Hôpital in Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

 (where he had accompanied the princess Margaret, now duchess of Savoy) that he had been chosen to succeed François Olivier in the chancellorship of France.

One of l'Hôpital's first acts after assuming the duties of chancellor
Chancellor
Chancellor is the title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the Cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the...

 on 1 April 1560 was to cause the parlement of Paris to register the Edict of Romorantin, of which he is sometimes erroneously said to have been the author. Designed to protect heretics from the secret and summary methods of the Inquisition
Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

, it certainly had his sympathy and approval. In accordance with the consistent policy of inclusion and toleration by which the whole of his official life was characterized, he suspended all proceedings against heretics
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 pending the reformation of the church by a general or national council.

He then induced the council to call the assembly of notables, which met at Chateau Fontainebleau in August 1560 and agreed that the States-General
French States-General
In France under the Old Regime, the States-General or Estates-General , was a legislative assembly of the different classes of French subjects. It had a separate assembly for each of the three estates, which were called and dismissed by the king...

 (a council of clergy, nobles and commons) should be summoned. The States-General met in December, shortly after the death of Francis II
Francis II of France
Francis II was aged 15 when he succeeded to the throne of France after the accidental death of his father, King Henry II, in 1559. He reigned for 18 months before he died in December 1560...

 and the succession of his younger brother Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

. The Edict of Orleans (January 1561) soon followed, and finally, after the Colloquy of Poissy, the famous Edict of St. Germain was issued in January of 1562. It was the most liberal ever obtained by the Protestants of France other than the Edict of Nantes
Edict of Nantes
The Edict of Nantes, issued on 13 April 1598, by Henry IV of France, granted the Calvinist Protestants of France substantial rights in a nation still considered essentially Catholic. In the Edict, Henry aimed primarily to promote civil unity...

.

Its terms, however, were not carried out. l'Hôpital's dismissal had been urged for some time by the papal legate Ippolito d'Este
Ippolito II d'Este
Ippolito d'Este was an Italian cardinal and statesman. He was a member of the House of Este, and nephew of the other Ippolito d'Este, also a cardinal.-Biography:...

, and during the beginning of the French Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

 which were the inevitable result of the massacre of Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

s in Wassy
Wassy
Wassy , formerly known as Wassy-sur-Blaise, is a commune in the Haute-Marne department in north-eastern France.Population : 3,294.-History:...

 (on 1 March 1562), he found it necessary to retire to his estate at Vignay (near Étampes
Étampes
Étampes is a commune in the metropolitan area of Paris, France. It is located south-southwest from the center of Paris . Étampes is a sub-prefecture of the Essonne department....

), from which he did not return until after the pacification of Amboise (19 March 1563).

It was by his advice that thirteen-year-old Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

 was declared of age at Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

 in August 1563, a measure which in actuality increased the power of the queen-mother Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who was Queen consort of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II of France....

 as she battled the machinations of the Guise family.

It was also under l'Hôpital's influence that the royal council in 1564 refused to authorize the publication of the anti-Protestant acts of the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

, on account of their inconsistency with the Gallican liberties. In 1564–1566 he accompanied the young king on an extended tour through France; and in 1566 he was instrumental in the promulgation of an important edict for the reform of abuses in the administration of justice.

In the meantime, Catherine, ever more independent of counsel, continued to pursue her ambitions for her children. However, her use of the religious strains of the times to play one faction against another gradually got out of her control. The renewal of the religious war in September 1567 was at once a symptom and a cause of diminished influence of l'Hôpital, and in February 1568 he obtained from Catherine his letters of discharge, which were registered by the parlement on 11 May. His titles, honors and emoluments were retained by him for the remainder of his life.

Afterward, he lived a life of unbroken seclusion at Vignay. His only subsequent public appearance was on the occasion of a mémoire which he addressed to the king in 1570 under the title Le but de la guerre et de la paix, ou discours pour exhorter Charles IX à donner la paix à ses sujets ("The goal of war and peace, or a speech exhorting Charles IX to give peace to his subjects"). Though not exempt from considerable danger, he survived the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots , during the French Wars of Religion...

 (a wave of mob violence against the Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

s starting on 24 August 1572). His death took place either at Vignay or at Bellébat on 13 March 1573.