Tag Archives: Royals & Nobles (King of France) – Louis XIII (1601-1643)

Quotations: ST. FRANCIS DE SALES, BISHOP OF GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (1567-1622). (42 Quotes).

FEATURE Image: Saint Francis de Sales sitting in front of a copy of his work, “Introduction to the Devout Life,” oil on canvas, c.1790s, 77 cm x 99.5 cm, unknown artist. Hovering above the 17th century French Catholic bishop, saint, and Doctor of the Church are two cherubs who regard him with kindness. Public Domain. Francis de Sales became one of the most respected theologians in Christianity. A great preacher and writer, Francis de Sales ascended the seat of Bishop of Geneva, Switzerland, and, with widowed Baroness Jeanne de Chantal (1571-1641), founded the religious order of the Visitation. As a diplomat and man of prayer, Francis de Sales exerted a significant influence within the Catholic Church and among the temporal powers of the day.  https://www.antiques-delaval.com/en/paintings/7068-hst-large-portrait-saint-francois-dirty-life-devote-cherubs-xviiieme.html -retrieved January 24, 2023. Public Domain.

INTRODUCTION.

By all accounts, St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) was a gracious and holy man. His writings were, similar to the Jesuits of whom Francis was a student, admirer and close friend, directed to society’s well-to-do and concerned with how they, as society’s current elites can practice, most basically, Christian “noblesse oblige” within their privileged social station.

Also like the Jesuits at that time, St. Francis de Sales’ writing defended and explained Catholic doctrine to a Europe which, in an age of Renaissance and Reformation, was very much in revolt against it. To preserve and endorse a social order as well as to perfect belief in doctrine, St. Francis de Sales communicated in everything he did and said that both were attainable.

Like the sons of St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis de Sales was also active in the direction of souls. In one of the bishop’s most famous writings, the Introduction to the Devout Life, it was a Jesuit father (Jean Fourier, S.J.), who strongly encouraged a noble lady around 1607 to prevail upon the local bishop to have his personal writings of spiritual direction to her and others printed to reach a wider audience of contacts and friends at court and others among the ruling class. St. Francis de Sales was equally eager to have his personal instructions for the advancement and perfection of individual souls printed as soon as due diligence allowed. The decision to publish the book in 1608 was auspicious – Introduction to the Devout Life became an instant international bestseller and, over four centuries, remains a spiritual classic. As John K. Ryan observed, “Its greatness lies in many things: in its originality, its completeness, its sincerity, its balance, its penetration and its style…(and) as such it is beyond adverse criticism in any important way.”1

Born Francis Bonaventure in August 1567 at the Sales castle in Savoy, France, Francis de Sales, like Ignatius of Loyola in Spain 75 years earlier, was born to nobility. His father was a lord of multiple localities and Francis was destined to inherit his life of wealth and power. As a boy and young man, Francis was naturally spiritual and as he pretended to be just another one of the fellows, class-mates in Annecy recognized Francis was devout. Despite his attraction to being a priest there were tremendous social pressures to marry a beautiful woman and inherit his father’s lordly mantle.

His family sent Francis to Paris to round out these social expectations as well as continue his education. They wanted Francis to attend the select, prestigious, and venerable (founded in 1305) College of Navarre with its renowned library, but Francis chose to attend the new (founded 1562) Jesuit College of Clermont, which was known for its academic rigor and religious and moral vision.2 At the Jesuit school St. Francis de Sales came into contact with the post-Tridentine humanism taught by its dedicated Jesuit directors and faculty such as Father Possevin, S.J. 3 In Paris St. Francis de Sales was exposed to the classical learning of the modern renaissance and which was applied in the service of the Christian mind and spirit. Francis took to humanism better than any of his class-mates and knowingly expressed its intellectual tenets the rest of his life.

Although away from the distractions of the fine hôtel de Navarre in rue Saint André des Arts which housed the College of Navarre, St. Francis de Sales could be seen working out his spiritual life often in prayer in Saint-Étienne-des-Grès in the Latin Quarter. The church (now demolished) on Rue Saint-Jacques was at the time a center for Christianity among the students. A later saintly Frenchman who often frequented Saint-Étienne-des-Grès was St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660). The young college-age layman finding he had serious religious scruples and temptations to lust4, it was in Saint-Étienne-des-Grès that St. Francis de Sales ultimately took a personal vow of chastity before a statue of the Virgin Mary which allowed him to pursue his spiritual desires.

After studying for another 5 years at the University of Padua in Italy, the young nobleman, St. Francis de Sales, emerged in 1591 with the equivalent of today’s J.D.- Ph.D. In those years the young nobleman was surrounded by the Renaissance writings of philosophers and poets such as Marsiglio Ficino (1433-1499), Giovanni della Casa (1503-1556) and contemporary French theologian Pierre Charron (1541-1603).5 Francis was not yet a priest but set on its course – and continued onwards to ordination after he told his family of his decision. In May 1593, at 25 years old, now-Dr. Francis de Sales, Esquire, was ordained a Catholic priest and joined the staff at the chapter of Geneva. Then-bishop of Geneva, Switzerland, Claude Grenier (1548-1602), gave the young, freshly well-educated St. Francis de Sales the virtually impossible task to reconvert to Catholicism the citizens of Geneva, the seat of John Calvin (1509-1564), French Protestant and author of the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Despite his charitable and positive efforts at persuasion, the die was mostly cast for Geneva and the young priest’s efforts were unsuccessful, including the disappointment of having to deal solely on the promises of princes whether temporal or ecclesial. 6

The Protestant Reformation and the Wars of Religion  (1562-1598)  made for impassioned attitudes and complicating factors in European and Church politics and the individual practice of one’s faith in the larger, fragmented, society at the start of the 17th century.

In 1602 St. Francis de Sales was sent to Paris to negotiate the condition of Catholics in reconverted territories in France. He met and discussed these matters, particularly exploring its approach for the reintegration of the Catholic faithful at each stratum of society that was peaceful, positive, charitable and temperate. At meetings taking place at the worldly façade of the court of Henry IV ( (1553-1610), St. Francis de Sales met some of the great figures of the religious and mystical revival taking place in France in that time, including Henri, Duc de Joyeuse (1563–1608), a General commander in the Wars of Religion and member of the Catholic League who became a Capuchin Franciscan after the death of his wife, Catherine de La Valette; Pierre de Bérulle (1575-1629), one of the most important mystics of the 17th century in France and, later, a Catholic cardinal; and Madame Acarie (1566-1618), mother of seven children, and foundress and lay sister of the Discalced Carmelites in France. Born Barbara Avrillot (and called “Barbe”), Madame Acarie was widely respected in Paris as the person to whom the wealthy, whenever they desired to help the poor, made sure their alms went through her hands. St. Francis de Sales, a respected theologian, also influenced the temporal powers – the dukes of Savoy, Charles Emmanuel I (1562-1630) and Victor Amadeus I (1587-1637), the regent of Savoy Christine de France and kings Henry IV and Louis XIII of France.

Charles Emmanuel I. Duke of Savoy (1562-1630) by Jan Kraeck. Public Domain.
Victor Amadeus I (1587-1637), artist unknown. Public Domain.

In July 1602 following the death of Bishop Grenier, St. Francis de Sales became Bishop of Geneva. Francis de Sales traveled ceaselessly around the diocese and beyond, preaching and hearing confessions, and the people quickly realized they had a holy bishop. It was by way of one of his penitents, St. Jeanne-Françoise de Chantal (1572-1641), that St. Francis de Sales worked his vision of the foundation of a new order, the Visitation, whose charism was to serve the sick and the poor with “the charity and gentleness of Jesus Christ.”7

St. Francis de Sales with Sisters of the Visitation, Francisco Bayeu y Subias (1734-1795), c. 1760, oil on canvas, , 56 x 34 cm, Prado, Madrid, Spain. https://www.museodelprado.es/coleccion/obra-de-arte/san-francisco-de-sales/540cb0b9-ca15-4c43-b011-d2d71f7c5820?searchMeta=san%20francis The 18th century painting, once in the Royal Collection, is today housed in a regional art museum in Salamanca. Public Domain.

It was in this first decade of the 17th century amidst this flurry of evangelizing and other activity that the 40-something bishop wrote the Introduction to the Devout Life (1608). The book, written in short chapters with titles on topical challenges, problems, and opportunities in the Christian life in the world, provides its responses based on practical counsels. The Introduction to the Devout Life much as his later work, On Love of God, are very reliant on the Bible for its teaching and sprang directly from the bishops’ care of souls that he was doing actively and sacramentally from his diocese in southeastern France. Francis’s generous range of literary sources reflected his education in Renaissance humanism and included classical authors, Montaigne, contemporary poets as well as medieval saints and spiritual writers such as Sts. Anselm, Bonaventure and Bernard. Francis was also familiar with the writings and religious vision of the 16th century Spanish mystics and saints such as Teresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola.8

The exceedingly practical St. Vincent de Paul observed about St. Francis de Sales’ On the Love of God: “A truly admirable book, which has as many admirers of the sweetness of its author as it has readers. I have carefully arranged that it shall be read throughout our Society [the Vincentians], as the universal remedy for all feeble ones, the good of slothful ones, the stimulus of love, and the ladder of those who are tending to perfection. Oh! that all would study it as it deserves! There should be no one to escape its heat.”9

St. Francis de Sales by J. J. Owens. c. 1905, based on the Turin portrait. Public Domain.

St. Francis de Sales, now in his early 50s, visited Paris in 1618 where he preached sometimes twice each day. His great work was to show how ordinary daily life, particularly a busy and successful life, could be a path of holiness. No issue was too large or small for the saint to address – from parties, clothes, flirtations, daily life among marrieds – but all directed to the purpose of imitation of Christ and the love of God. St. Francis takes for granted one’s daily life in French society and proposes no maxim which involves any violent upheavals from it. Part of the saint’s genius is to see that there can be no dispute between the social order and the Christian life. At the same time, St. Francis is no easy teacher or grader – he asks that the Christian virtues be upheld and practiced. That insistence on Christian virtue informing one’s daily life is also the genius of his doctrine. While highly educated and imbued with the grace of mind of the Renaissance, St. Francis carried naturally within himself and conveyed the wisdom of the French soil of Savoy, its terroir. As Francis took one’s daily life in French society for granted, he took Catholic doctrine as if for granted. He then explained it with a highly cultivated mind and gracious spirit that expressed itself with a sweetness and gentleness of style that expounded it as “the universal remedy…the stimulus of love…the ladder …to perfection” as St. Vincent de Paul recognized to those with faith or not, or in trouble in day-to-day life.

St. Francis de Sales perhaps speaks to the 21st century most clearly by way of his theology that is presented without sentimentality or melodrama and is clearly explained and lived to be particularly possible and desirable. Francis said: “He who lives for God, frequently thinks of Him during all the occupations of life.”12

January 24 is the memorial feast day of St. Francis de Sales on the General Roman Calendar of 1969. St. Francis de Sales is the patron of writers, journalists, the Catholic press, confessors, the deaf and educators. He was proclaimed a saint and doctor of the Catholic Church. The following quotes are taken from his many published works of spiritual edification, counsel, exhortation, and solace.

NOTES:

  1. Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales, trans. and edited by John K. Ryan, Image books (Doubleday) Garden City New York, 1955, p.11.
  2. Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal: Letters of Spiritual Direction, trans. by Péronne Marie Thibert, V.H.M. and selected and introduced by Wendy M. Wright and Joseph F. Power, O.S.F.S. Paulist Press New York, 1988 p.19.
  3. CF. Elisabeth Stopp, “St. Francis de Sales at Clermont College,” in Salesian Studies, 6 (Winter 1969). pp. 42-43.
  4. Wright & Power, p. 20.
  5. Wright & Power, p. 22.
  6. The Saints: A Concise Biographical Dictionary, edited by John Coulson, Guild Press, New York, 1957, p. 305.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Wright & Power, p. 28.
  9. https://www.ccel.org/ccel/desales/love.all.html – retrieved January 23, 2023.
  10. The Saints: A Concise Biographical Dictionary, edited by John Coulson, Guild Press, New York, 1957, p. 305.
  11. On the Love of Godhttps://www.ccel.org/ccel/desales/love.all.html – retrieved January 23, 2023.
  12. Maxims and counsels of St. Francis de Sales for every day in the year, Ella McMahon, M.H. Gill & Son, Dublin, 1884, p. 12.

QUOTATIONS.

Keep yourself faithfully in the presence of God. Avoid hurry and anxiety, for there are no greater obstacles to our progress in perfection.
Cast your heart gently, not violently, into the wounds of our Savior and have an unlimited confidence in his mercy and goodness.
To make good progress we must devote ourselves to getting over that portion of the path which lies close before us, and not amuse ourselves with the desire to attain the last step before we have accomplished the first.
We must make our imperfections die with us from day to day. Dear imperfections, which cause us to recognize our misery, which exercise us in contempt of self, and the practice of virtue, and notwithstanding which God accepts the preparation of our hearts which is perfect.
I recommend simplicity to you; look before you, and not at the dangers which you behold in the distance. Keep your will firmly bent upon serving God with your whole heart. While you are thus occupied in forecasting the future you expose yourself to some false step.
Have no care for tomorrow. Think only of doing well today. And when tomorrow shall have become today, then we shall think about it.
We must make a provision of manna for each day only. Let us not be afraid that God will fail to send down more upon us tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, and every day of our pilgrimage.
Since the Heart of our Lord has no more loving law than meekness, humility, and charity, we must firmly maintain these dear virtues in us.
True sanctity lies in love of God, and not in foolish imaginings, raptures, &c. Let us devote ourselves to the practice of true meekness and submission, to renouncement of self, to docility of heart, to love of abjection, to consideration for the wishes of others : this is true sanctity and the most amiable ecstasy of the children of God.
May you belong to God forever in this mortal life, serving Him faithfully through its trials, bearing the cross after Him, and may you be His forever in life eternal with the whole celestial court!

https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/20221228-totum-amoris-est.html – APOSTOLIC LETTER TOTUM AMORIS EST (it’s all about love)
OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON THE FOURTH CENTENARY OF THE DEATH
OF SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES
, dated December 28, 2022 – retrieved January 28, 2023.

The great good of our souls is to live for God, and the greatest good to live for God alone. He who lives but for God is never sad, save at having offended God.
He who lives for God, frequently thinks of Him during all the occupations of life.
Saint Francis gives the rule to Saint Jeanne de Chantal (Study for the Chapel of the Visitation at Nantes), 19th century, Elie Delaunay (1828-1891), Louvre. Public Domain.
The reason persons are in the world is to receive and carry the gentle Jesus: on our tongue by proclaiming him and in our arms by doing good works.
I am as human as anyone could possibly be.
See the divine lover at the gate. He does not simply knock once. He continues to knock. He calls the soul: come, arise my beloved, hurry!…In short, this divine Savior forgets nothing to show that his mercies are above all his works, are greater than his judgment.
Solitude has its assaults, the world its busyness – in either place we must be courageous since in either place divine help is available to those who trust God and humbly and gently ask for his fatherly assistance.
Since this congregation does not have as many austerities or indissoluble bonds as formal orders, the fervor of charity and force of a deep personal resolution must supply for all that…so that might be realized the saying of the Apostle which affirms that charity is the perfect bond.
Saint François de Sales blesses Saint Jeanne de Chantal, Chapelle de la Visitation at Nantes n° 61
XIXe siècle. Elie Delaunay (1828-1891), Musée d’Arts de Nantes. Public Domain.
It is the height of holy disinterestedness to be content with naked, dry, and insensible acts carried out by the superior will alone….In the end, the savior wants us to be His so perfectly that nothing else remains for us, and to abandon ourselves to His providence without reservation.
Since the heart is the source of all our actions, as the heart is, so are they.
For myself, I cannot approve the methods of those who try to reform a person by beginning with external things, such as bearings, dress or hair. On the contrary, it seems to me that we should begin inside.
I beg you, my dear Sister, govern your community with a great expansiveness of heart…The more solicitous, open, and supportive you are with them, the more you will win their hearts.
I had the courage to my give [my own dying mother] the last blessing, to close her eyes and mouth and to give her the last kiss of peace at the moment she passed away; after which my heart swelled and I wept….
Saint Francis de Sales healing a lame man, Chapelle de la Visitation at Nantes n° 61
XIXe siècle. Elie Delaunay (1828-1891), Musée d’Arts de Nantes. Public Domain.
Then let us belong wholly to Him, and live but for Him, desiring only to please Him, and for his creatures in Him, through Him, and for Him. Make your little efforts sweetly, peacefully, and amiably to please this Sovereign Goodness, and do not be astonished at difficulties.
We must be constant in aspiring to the perfection of holy love, in order that love may be perfect. For the love which seeks anything less than perfection cannot fail to be imperfect.
Never permit your soul to be sad and live in bitterness of spirit or scrupulous fear, since He who loved it and died to give it life is so good, so sweet, so amiable.
God, who calls us to Him, sees how we are approaching, and will never permit anything to happen but what is for our greater good. God knows what we are, and will hold out his paternal hand to us in a difficult step, in order that nothing may stop us.
God has preserved you so far. Only keep yourself faithful to the law of his providence and He will assist you at all times. And where you cannot walk, He will carry you.
Saint Francis de Sales healing a lame man, Chapelle de la Visitation at Nantes n° 61
XIXe siècle. Elie Delaunay (1828-1891), Musée d’Arts de Nantes. Public Domain.
An over-sensitive mind can neither receive nor endure anything without telling of it, and it is always a little astonished at the lowly places which humility and simplicity choose.
I see you with your vigorous heart which loves and wills powerfully. I like it, for what are those half -dead hearts good for? We must make a particular exercise once every week of willing to love the will of God more tenderly, more affectionately than anything in the world, and that, too, not only in bearable but in the most unbearable events.
Plant in your heart Jesus Christ Crucified, and all the crosses of this world will seem to you like roses.
Lord Jesus, without reserve, without an if, or a but, without exception or limitation, may you holy will be done in all things and at all times.
Regard not the appearance of the things you are to do, but Him who commands them, and who, when He pleases, can accomplish his glory and our perfection through the most imperfect and trifling things.
 
Painting of St. Francis de Sales in Don Bosco’s rooms at the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales in Turin.
Behold this great Artisan of mercy. He converts our miseries into graces and our iniquities into salutary remedies for our souls. Tell me, I pray, what will He not do with the afflictions, the labors, the persecutions which assail us?
Never think you have attained the purity of heart which you owe to God until your will is freely and joyfully resigned to his holy will in all things, even in the most repugnant.
Daily strengthen yourself more and more in the resolution, which you formed with so much affection, of serving God according to his good pleasure. Regard Him who commands them and, when He pleases, can accomplish his glory and our perfection through the most imperfect and trifling things.
A true servant of God has no care for tomorrow, but performs faithfully what is required today, and tomorrow will do what is required without a word.
The meek Savior would have us meek, so that, though surrounded by the world and the flesh, we may live by the Spirit that, amidst the vanities of earth, we may live in heaven; that, living among men, we may praise Him with the angels.
St. Francis de Sales, 18th c, Besançon, 96 x 131 cm.
Here is the great lesson – we must discover God’s will, and, recognizing it, endeavor to do it joyfully, or at least courageously.
The sight alone of our dear Jesus crucified can speedily soften all sorrows, which are but flowers compared with his thorns.
Our great rendezvous is an eternal heaven and compared with the price of eternity, what are the things which end with time?
Continue to unite yourself more and more with our Lord. Plunge your heart into the charity of His, and say always with your whole soul: May I die and may Jesus live !” Our death will be a happy one if we have died daily.
Lord Jesus, what true happiness for a soul consecrated to God to be strongly exercised in tribulation before leaving this life!

MONTFORT L’AMAURY, France. Thirty miles west of Paris, the 1000-year-old fortified royal town showcases its 11th century crusaders’ castle, 16th century flamboyant Gothic church with 37 intact Renaissance stained-glass windows and the homes of 20th century playwright Jean Anouilh and music composer Maurice Ravel.

FEATURED image: Manuscript 16th century (detail): Queen consort Anne of Brittany (1477-1514) receiving a Book of Hours from her Dominican confessor, Antoine Dufour (d.1509). Montfort L’Amaury returned to the crown of France after Anne of Brittany married Charles VIII “the Affable” (1470-1498) in 1491.

Started in the 11th century, L’Église St. Pierre anchors part of the centre ville of Montfort L’Amaury, a town in France about 30 miles west of Paris. The photograph is taken from the ruins of the chateau on the town’s heights. The late 10th century Frankish king Robert II built a castle in the hills of Montfort. From the start of the 11th century, Montfort-l’Amaury was the stronghold of the Montfort family. Author’s photograph.

At the north edge of the Rambouillet forest the city of Montfort L’Amaury spreads along the restored ruins of its ancient fortified castle. Founded under the Capetian kings, the city owes its fame to Simon de Montfort (1208-1265), Anne de Bretagne (1477-1514), the Valois royal dynasty, and Henry IV (1553-1610). Its monuments begin in the 11th century, stretch towards exceptional Renaissance stained-glass windows and half-timbered houses as its civilization has attracted writers, artists, and musicians to live there. This would include the house of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) called Le Belvédère where he lived from 1921 until his death and where we were invited to sit at, and play, the piano where Ravel composed Boléro. It was in March 2002 during a visit to Paris and the Île-de France that we ventured through Yvelines by train to Montfort-L’Amaury for a day trip which included a memorable déjeuner in a restaurant that has since disappeared.

Interior, L’Église Saint-Pierre (Church of St. Peter), late 15th century, Montfort L’Amaury, France. Author’s photograph.

The interior of Saint Pierre church is bright and intimate. Like other French monuments, today’s Saint-Pierre was completed over many centuries. Its origin is in the 11th century. A notable reconstruction of the edifice began in the late 15th century by initiative of Queen Consort, Anne of Bretagne. There is a vast ambulatory around both sides of the nave. Since 1840, the church has been an historic monument because of its unique ensemble of 37 stained glass windows. The oldest date from the 1540s and 1570s. The others were installed in the late16th century. That ecclesial project was started by Catherine de Medicis (1519-1589) in 1562. The windows were installed during the time of the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and some of the glass commemorates that event. As none of the glasswork is signed, it is not known whether its painters are from Montfort L’Amaury or elsewhere.

St. Peter Window. L’Église Saint-Pierre, Montfort L’Amaury, France. Throughout France starting in the 1540s there was a growing taste and demand for stained glass windows in their local churches. The experimentation in glasswork and painting by the middle of the 16th century allowed for the iconography in these stained glass windows to express numerous details and refined techniques. Fair use. Public Domain.
Detail. St. Peter Window. Fair use. Public Domain.
Detail. Nativity Window. Fair use. Public Domain.
The south exterior of L’Église Saint-Pierre along Rue de Dion in Montfort L’Amaury. The exterior wall shows flying buttresses designed in the French Renaissance style as well as gargoyles that were sculpted in the late 15th century. The building is constructed of calcified stone that came from towns to the north, precisely, Maule, and a more distant Vernon on the Seine. The interior ambulatory that surrounds the nave on both sides and ends at the chevet expresses the building’s gothic aspect. Street lamps and a narrow street with tight parking has room for a small tree next to the church. Author’s photograph.
Montfort L’Amaury has half-timbered houses dating to the 16th century. This is no. 16, Place de la Libération, just steps from the front entrance of Église St. Pierre. At the beginning of October 1825 young Victor Hugo (1802-1885) lived in Montfort L’Amaury for a few days. He wrote a letter to his father in Paris and described it as “a charming little town ten leagues from Paris, where there are ruins, woods, and one of my friends…” Author’s photograph.
Portrait de Victor Hugo sur fond de Notre-Dame de Reims, Jean Alaux, 1825, Maison de Victor Hugo – Hauteville House, oil on cardboard. Public Domain.
https://www.parismuseescollections.paris.fr/fr/maison-de-victor-hugo/oeuvres/portrait-de-victor-hugo-sur-fond-de-notre-dame-de-reims
View of the church from the east. The church of Saint Pierre is of late gothic origin. It was rebuilt and decorated in the 15th, 16th, and early 17th centuries. Following the French Revolution and its aftermath, the church building received an extensive restoration in the mid19th century, including a new steeple. Except for one stained glass window that was restored in situ, all the 16th-century stained glass windows were taken out, restored, and reinstalled by a master painter in Metz between 1851 and 1857.
Chevet. L’Église Saint-Pierre. Public Domain.
On Saint Pierre’s front stoop is busy Place de la Libération and with Rue de la Libération just beyond. At the end of the street is the rounded 16th century La Porte Bardoul, one of gateways to the chateau. It was named in the 16th century for the Captain who built the ramparts of Montfort L’Amaury in the 11th century (Hugues Bardoul). Author’s photograph.
Charles Aznavour – Disque D’Or” by Piano Piano! is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Charles Aznavour (1924-2018), dubbed France’s Frank Sinatra, never lived in Montfort L’Amaury. For 60 years, the singer lived in Galluis, a neighboring town just 5 minutes by car up the road. Yet, in those many years, Aznavour frequently came to Montfort L’Amaury, sometimes to go shopping or visit friends or eat at one of its excellent restaurants. In 2018 Aznavour was buried in the cemetery in Montfort L’Amaury and has become a pilgrimage site for his many fans.
The cemetery at Montfort L’Amaury dates from the sixteenth century and is an interesting site to visit for its history, architecture, and people buried within. As dead bodies were originally buried in the ground as they are today, over the many centuries the bones were later exhumed and deposited in ossuaries. This was essential during epidemics that occurred regularly when ground-space for burials was at a premium for the bodies of the newly dead. Built to give the appearance of a cloister, these galleries are actually a mass grave. Its architecture is charming and conveys the aspect of a Romantic bone-yard. Fair Use.  
Ruins of the castle of Montfort-l’Amaury. In the foreground is Le Belvédère, the house of Maurice Ravel. Montfort-l’Amaury Donjon by ℍenry Salomé (Jaser !) 08:12, 21 November 2006 (UTC) – Cliché personnel, own work is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The role of Montfort l’Amaury as a town began to develop in the High Middle Ages when Capetian king, Robert II (976-1031), built a castle there in the forest of Yvelines which was then a royal prerogative. William of Hainaut built the castle whose walls were finished around  1050. Hugues Bardoule was captain of the castle and thus a later 16th century gateway is named after him. It is in the 11th century that L’Église Saint-Pierre and L’Église Saint Laurent begin to be built. Robert II was married three times, and excommunicated by the Catholic Church – one of the early examples of French royals who married as they wished.

In the twelfth century, Bertrade de Montfort (1070-1117), after giving birth to a boy who would become King of Jerusalem, left her husband, the Duke of Anjou, Fulk IV (1043-1109) in 1092. She married the king of France, Philip I “the Amorous” whose spouse, Bertha of Holland, was also still living.

Philip was so in love with Bertrade that he refused to leave her even when threatened and finally excommunicated by Pope Urban II (1035-1099) in 1095. Because of his excommunication Philip was prevented from taking part in the First Crusade (1096-1099).

Bertrade de Montfort and King Philip I “the Amorous.” Chroniques de Saint-Denis (ou de France), British Library, Royal 16 G VI f. 271. 14th Century (1332-1350). https://www.bl.uk/IllImages/Kslides%5Cbig/K137/K137596.jpg
The ramparts and castle. Author’s photograph.

The ramparts and castle were destroyed by the English during the Hundred Years’ War in the 15th century. After the battle of Agincourt in 1419, the English occupied the French domain and it was during this time that the castle at Montfort was destroyed. The two rebuilt towers were named for Anne of Brittany after she assisted in the castle’s restoration. From this height, the fort overlooked the old Roman road from Beauvais to Chartres.

Also from this place, troops assembled at Montfort L’Amaury in the 12th century as Amaury III raised lords and knights to fight alongside Louis VI (1081-1137) against the Emperor of Germany. Simon IV fought alongside Philippe II Auguste (1165-1223) against the English as well as to the Crusades in the Middle East and the Albigensian Crusade in southern France. The Montforts distinguished themselves especially in this crusade against the Cathars.

At the beginning of the Third Crusade (1189-1192), not wanted by King Philippe Auguste (1165-1223), the future Louis VIII “the Lion” (1187-1226) was looking for companions. Simon IV, Lord of Montfort (1175-1218), embarked on the crusade where victory was equalled by its terror.

Stained glass (detail) Chartres cathedral: Simon de Montfort V (1208-1265). Simon was born in the chateau in 1208. Whereas his brother Amaury V (1191-1241) inherited his father’s French properties, including in the south of France owing to his father’s Cathar crusade, Simon V is known to history as having a major role in the constitutional development of England where he successfully led the barons’ opposition to the absolute rule of King Henry III (1207-1272) of England. During his rule of England Simon de Montfort V called two famous parliaments, one of which recognized the voices of ordinary town citizens in the affairs of government making him one of the progenitors of modern parliamentary democracy. Public Domain.

In January 1238, Montfort married  Eleanor of England, daughter of King John and Isabella of Angoulême and sister of English King Henry III. While this marriage took place with the king’s approval, the act itself was performed secretly and without consulting the great barons. Eleanor had previously been married and swore a vow of perpetual widowhood after her husband died. This vow was broken when she married Montfort and, for that reason, the Archbishop of Canterbury condemned it. The English nobles protested the marriage of the king’s sister to a foreigner who was only of modest rank. Most notably, Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwell, the king’s and Eleanor’s brother, rose up in revolt over the marriage. King Henry III eventually bought off his brother and peace was restored. The marriage brought property to Montfort and when a child was born of the union in late 1238, he was baptized Henry, in honor of his uncle, the king. In February 1239, Montfort was finally invested as Earl of Leicester where he acted as the king’s advisor and became godfather to Henry’s eldest son, Edward, who became King Edward I (“Longshanks”).

Eleanor of England who married Simon de Montfort V in 1238 in an early-fourteenth-century Genealogical Roll of the Kings of England. Public Domain.
The author at the ramparts. These fortifications were originally built over 1000 years ago in the early 11th century by Amaury I. The walls run from east to west creating a superficial size of Montfort at about 4 to 5 hectares (one hectare equals about two and a half acres). Portions of the wall were dismantled during the 100 Years War but rebuilt during the Wars of Religion (1562-1598) as well as Montfort’s reception of a royal charter by Charles IX in the mid16th century. The rebuilt wall had to expand to meet the development of Montfort under Anne de Bretagne a half a century before, though substantial portions of the original 11th century wall were incorporated into the construction. Author’s collection.
Manuscript 16th century (detail): Queen consort Anne of Brittany (1477-1514) receiving a Book of Hours from her Dominican confessor, Antoine Dufour (d.1509). Montfort L’Amaury returned to the crown of France after Anne of Brittany married Charles VIII “the Affable” (1470-1498) in 1491.

From Montfort L’Amaury, the lords continued to assist the French kings in the crusades. After John I, only a daughter allowed the continuity of the Montfort family. Beatrice d’Albidon married Robert, Count of Dreux. The Comté de Montfort was related to the Duchy of Brittany following the marriage of Yolande de Dreux-Montfort (1263-1330) with Arthur II of Brittany (1261-1312) in 1294. It was in the late 13th century that Monfort established a public school in 1298.

Montfort returned to the crown of France after Anne of Brittany married Charles VIII “the Affable” (1470-1498) in 1491. The marriage contract stipulated a union of France and Brittany. If the queen were to die first and childless, the king would inherit all her property. Also in their pre-nuptial agreement, if Charles VIII died first Anne was to marry his successor. This was his cousin, the handsome and seductive Louis XII (1462-1515). By 1550, Brittany and the French Crown finally united under a single sovereign, Henry II (1519-1559).

This union of Brittany and France was beneficial to Montfort as the union with Brittany only was not particularly. In this period the castle ruins were restored and there was construction of a notable staircase to be seen today. The cemetery was relocated outside the city walls. Churches were rebuilt. Meanwhile, Montfort maintained a semi-autonomy from the crown of France.

Under the Valois the Yvelines region of which Montfort is a central part received royal favor. Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) was named the Lady of Montfort in 1561. When the Wars of Religion broke out (1562-1598), the king, Charles IX (1550-1574), offered to the city home-rule in exchange for the reconstruction of its medieval ramparts at his expense. At the end of these wars, the passage of the future king, Henry IV (1553-1610) on the road that led him to Paris to take power, allowed Montfort L’Amaury to prove its loyalty to the new king. Montfort provided Henry Navarre with weapons and later obtained special rights in exchange. During the reigns of the first two Bourbon kings of France, Henry IV and Louis XIII (1601-1643), there are frequent royal visits to Montfort L’Amaury.

A canonized Catholic saint among the Valois- Joan of Valois (1464 – 1505), sister of Charles VIII, and betrothed of Louis XII.

Portrait of Joan of Valois as abbess by Jean Perréal (1455-1530).

The second daughter of Louis XI (1423-1483) and Charlotte of Savoy (1411-1483), Joan of Valois was a fleeting Queen of France as the wife of King Louis XII following the death of her brother, King Charles VIII. Her marriage was soon annulled so that Louis could, as pre-arranged by contract, marry Charles VIII’s widow, Anne of Brittany.

Joan’s demeanor was characterized by an accepting and placid countenance. When she retired from court politics to become Duchess of Berry, the former Queen of France remarked: “If so it is to be, praised be the Lord.”

In Bourges, Joan of Valois founded a monastic order of sisters and served them as their abbess. In terms of her personality, Joan could be autocratic as an administrator of her nuns, which may have been a vestige of her former high-born role. Joan was canonized in May 1950, almost 450 years after her death.

Workshop of François Clouet. Catherine de’ Medici wears the black cap and veil of widow, after 1559. Upon seeing Catherine in the flesh, an Italian diplomat noted that “her mouth is too large and her eyes too prominent and colorless for beauty. But she is very distinguished-looking, has beautiful skin, a shapely figure, and exquisitely made hands.”
Portrait de Henri IV, roi de France et de Navarre (1553-1610) 1600 / 1700 (XVIIe siècle), Atelelier de Frans Pourbus II Louvre. Hung in Versailles chateau. https://collections.louvre.fr/en/ark:/53355/cl010057776
Marie de’ Medici, 1616, Frans Pourbus the Younger (Flemish, 1569-1622), oil on canvas, The Art Institute of Chicago. Marie de Medici (1575-1642) married Henry IV of France in 1600. After the king was assassinated in Paris in 1610, Marie de Medici served as the regent for their young son, Louis XIII. Marie de Medici brought Frans Pourbus to the French court to make regal portraits of the royal family.
Louis XIII between the figures of two young women symbolizing France and Navarre. 1636/38, School of Simon Vouet (1590-1649). Louvre, Paris. https://collections.louvre.fr/en/ark:/53355/cl010062003

Le Belvédère: the House of Maurice Ravel from 1921 to his death in 1937 at Montfort L’Amaury.

The author in front of Le Belvédère, the house of Maurice Ravel, and ready to go inside for a visit. Author’s collection.
Pianist Jacques Février with Maurice Ravel in 1925 in Le Belvédère, the house of the composer in Montfort-l’Amaury. Public Domain.
The salon of the Ravel house. Author’s photograph.
Ravel’s house sits on an ascent from the centre ville where Ravel could look out his garden-side window  to back towards town and south and east to the green countryside between Montfort and Paris. Author’s photograph.
George Maas” by Crossett Library Bennington College is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Jean Anouilh (1910-1987) was a French dramatist who lived in Montfort-L’Amaury in France. Anouilh’s 1944 play, Antigone, was an adaptation play of Sophocles’ play of the same name. The 34-year-old Anouilh’s work was seen as an attack on the Vichy government of Marshal Pétain (1856-1951) in World War II.

Anouiih also wrote Becket. The original French play is titled Becket ou l‘Honneur de Dieu. It was staged in Paris at the Théâtre Montparnasse-Gaston Baty in October 1959 and directed by Anouilh. The play dramatizes historical martyr and Catholic saint Thomas Becket (1120-1170), the Archbishop of Canterbury In England, whose feast day is December 29.

Becket was the best friend to younger King Henry II of England. Cunning and proud, vulnerable and lonely, pent-up King Henry is interested in hunting and women, and not necessarily in that order. Henry is bored with political affairs and as king has his one friend, Thomas Becket, who is his companion in vice and debauchery.

Becket serves his king loyally, without compromise. Wanting to strengthen his power over the Church in England and believing his idea to be an excellent one, Henry appoints Becket as chancellor of England and he later becomes Archbishop of Canterbury. But nothing goes as planned. Becket, on his path to sainthood, finds he cannot serve both king and God.

For Henry the arrangement is one of disillusionment, resentment, hatred, and torn friendship – and, later, repentance. For Becket it is a tale of courage, renunciation, and honor as the archbishop  seeks to defend church freedom in England against an ambitious secular power. Such conflict provokes Becket’s murder by the king’s knights in the archbishop’s own cathedral.

Anouilh’s Becket became an international sensation. Successive productions in English translation were mounted in London (starring Christopher Plummer and Eric Porter) and in New York City (starring Laurence Olivier and Anthony Quinn). In 1964 Becket became a major motion picture starring Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole which won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay.

SOURCES:

Montfort L’Amaury de l’an mil à nos jours, Marie-Huguette Hadrot, Paris: Somogy Editions d’Art, 2002.

Montfort-L’Amaury, Le Syndicat d’Initiative des Fêtes et des Arts de Montfort-L’Amaury et ses Environs, 1972.

Montfort-L’Amaury Les Verrières de L’Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre(Yvelines), Laurence de Finance and Marie-Huguette Hadrot, Paris: Centre de Documentation du Patrimoine, 1994.

https://montjoye.net/chateau-de-montfort-lamaury

https://www.francebleu.fr/infos/medias-people/du-monde-a-montfort-l-amaury-pour-se-recueillir-sur-la-tombe-de-charles-aznavour-1541236036

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_de_Bretagne

http://www.montfortlamaury.free.fr/fr/index.php/Montfort-l-amaury-un-millenaire-d-histoire

The Saints: A Concise Biographical Dictionary, edited by John Coulson, Guild Press, New York, 1957.

Through the ramparts, Montfort L’Amaury. Author’s photograph,