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Saint Vincent's Reading List XL: Cardinal de Retz

by Rev Edward R Udovic CM 4/29/2013 9:46:00 AM

La Veritable Harangue Faite au Roy, par Monseignevr le Cardinal de Retz, pour lvy Demander la Paix, & Son Retour à Paris, au Nom du Clergé, & Accompagné de Tous Ses Deputez…, by Jean-Françis Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de Retz. Paris: Veuve I. Guilletmot, 1652.

Call Number: SpC. 944.033 R441v1652

Jean-François-Paul de Gondi, by Pierre DaretJean-François-Paul de Gondi (1614-1679) the second Cardinal de Retz, and archbishop of Paris (1654-1662) was the third son of Vincent de Paul’s great patrons Phlippe-Emmanuel de Gondi, and Marguerite de Silly. He succeeded his uncle, Jean-François de Gondi. An inveterate plotter and bitter enemy of Cardinal Mazarin during the Fronde, de Retz paid for his opposition by being imprisoned. He escaped to Rome where at the order of Pope Innocent X he was housed by the Lazarists. This provoked the anger of Mazarin, and Louis XIV ordered the French missionaries to leave Rome and return to France.1

During the Fronde, on 9 September 1652 the Cardinal had led a delegation of the Paris clergy to see Louis XIV who was residing at Compiègne because of the revolt in the capital. This work is the published text of the cardinal’s appeal to the King. The fourteen year old monarch replied (as scripted by Cardinal Mazarin) that he would not return until the revolt was ended and peace was restored.

On 11 September 1652, Vincent de Paul took the unusual step of intervening in political matters by writing privately to Cardinal Mazarin and adding his voice to those urging the king and the queen-mother to return to Paris immediately. His argument was that their return would in fact restore peace to the capital.  Vincent noted: "I venture to write to Your Eminence to entreat you to allow me to tell you that I now see the city of Paris returned to its former state and clamoring for the King and Queen."2  

Vincent was unflinching in his analysis and bold in his advice to the Cardinal that if the king and queen did not return to Paris immediately "the hatred of the people (for the Cardinal) may turn to rage." A few days later, Mazarin dismissed Vincent from his post as a member of the Council of Conscience. The Fronde continued and eventually Mazarin emerged victorious.

After Mazarin’s death the Cardinal de Retz returned to Paris, made peace with the king, and resigned the archbishopric of Paris.  He wrote his famous memoirs and lived quietly until his death in 1679.


1Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, Vol. 5. (Brooklyn, NY: New City, 1994), 334.

2Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, Vol. 4. (Brooklyn, NY: New City, 1993), 459-464.


St. Vincent’s Reading List is a recurring blog series exploring texts known to have been read and recommended by Saint Vincent de Paul, those which can be presumed to have been read by him, and works published during his lifetime (1581-1660) illustrating his world. All materials discussed are held by DePaul University’s Richardson Library. The entire series may be viewed here.


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