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The career of Charles d’Albert, duc de Luynes (1578–1621)

Historians relying upon hostile contemporary sources have dismissed Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes, as an inept mediocrity. Luynes took the oath of office as constable on Friday 2 April 1621 in the long gallery of the Louvre overlooking the Seine. Cardinal Richelieu considered Luynes to be the implacable enemy of the Queen Mother, and blamed him for her quarrel with her son. Cardinal Richelieu, a client of the Queen Mother, despised Luynes whom he savaged in his memoirs in a devastating character assassination that significantly influenced later historiography. This book presents a more positive assessment of his career as a favorite, and long-overdue recognition of his contributions to Louis XIII's government. It provides another look at Luynes untainted by the malice of Richelieu. The occupation of falconer reveals something about Luynes's character; it is said to be like the falconer-patient, goodtempered, shrewd, and inventive with keen eyesight, sharp hearing, a strong voice, and a habit of sleeping lightly. The book discusses the nature of the king's relationship with Luynes as demonstrated by their staging of royal ballets. The book discusses Concini's murder and the Order of Saint Esprit, which became the most prestigious military order in France, as well as the dilemma faced by the court nobility. The siege of Montauban, executed by Luynes is also discussed. The pamphlet attack on Luynes began with the Queen Mother's revolt in 1620. The anti-Luynes attack accelerated with the southwestern campaign against the Protestants, and continued for a year after his death.

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Luynes and the historians
Sharon Kettering

Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes, a favorite of Louis XIII, died of scarlet fever at about three o'clock on the afternoon of 15 December 1621 at the château of Longuetille near Condom in southwestern France. Luynes was a shrewd politician who controlled the distribution of royal patronage at court. François Du Val, marquis de Fontenay-Mareuil, thought Luynes had little intelligence or ability. A stony-faced Louis XIII saddled up and rode out upon hearing of his favorite's death because he did not wish to show grief in public. Luynes's political enemies, particularly Cardinal Richelieu and his successor Mazarin, were the patrons of contemporary historians, and gave royal pensions to those who portrayed them and their policies in a favorable light. The portrayal of Luynes as a timid, inept bungler originated in the anti-Luynes pamphlets commissioned by the Queen Mother that Richelieu incorporated into his memoirs.

in Power and reputation at the court of Louis XIII
Sharon Kettering

The traditional date of Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes's birth is 5 August 1578, and most historians agree he was born sometime during that year. Some sources give his birthplace as Mornas in the Comtat Venaissin, making him Comtadin by birth and a papal subject. Other sources give Pont-Saint-Esprit as his birthplace, making him Languedocian and French by birth. Honoré d'Albert de Luynes had challenged an officer in the Scots royal guards for making insulting remarks about his role as a conspirator and then killed him. This thereby earned him the court's respect for his courage and prowess, except the king's favor or trust. Contemporaries joked that a hare could quickly jump across the Albert family lands, an exaggeration, but Honoré's difficulties in paying the Pont-Saint- Esprit garrison indicate that he was not a wealthy man.

in Power and reputation at the court of Louis XIII
Sharon Kettering

This chapter discusses the nature of the king's relationship with Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes as demonstrated by their staging of royal ballets. Luynes was first mentioned in the journal of the king's doctor in November 1611 as the royal falconer in charge of the king's favorite hunting birds. Luynes was an important innovator and an enthusiastic patron of the dramatic court ballet. Dramatic court ballets had a unified, coherent plot recounting a heroic story taken from classical mythology or medieval romances. Luynes was ambitious, and his relationship with the king was based on self-interest. He wanted the brilliant court career that had eluded his father, and the key to such a career was royal favor. The nature of their relationship was revealed in a conversation that François de Bassompierre had with Luynes in November 1621.

in Power and reputation at the court of Louis XIII
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Sharon Kettering

The Mercure françois reported that Concini was killed while resisting arrest for treason. The memoirs of twelve contemporaries provide the most detailed accounts of the murder, and contain significant differences. Seven memoirs were first-hand accounts by individuals with a personal knowledge of events including Montpouillan, Chaulnes, Cardinal Richelieu, Guichard Déagent, Pontchartrain, Arnauld d'Andilly, and Lomenie de Brienne. Montpouillan, Chaulnes, and Déagent were actual conspirators but not eyewitnesses to the murder. There are a considerable number of discrepancies and inconsistencies in the twelve accounts of the murder. Contemporary accounts, including those by actual conspirators, stated that Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes was apprehensive about killing Concini. Richelieu in his memoirs declared that Luynes had persuaded a reluctant king to agree to Concini's murder, and then had convinced him to exile his mother and execute Léonora Galigai, Concini's wife.

in Power and reputation at the court of Louis XIII
Sharon Kettering

Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes was honored with a royal wedding attended by the king and his family, and the celebrations afterward included the whole court. A classic criticism of royal favorites was that they were greedy. The anti-Luynes pamphleteers declared that Luynes had accumulated a huge fortune often to twelve million livres by adding to Concini's already enormous fortune, which the king had given him. The imprisoned prince de Condé resigned his government of Guyenne at the king's request. Luynes wanted a provincial government, but he did not want Guyenne because Bordeaux was too far away from Paris, and his favor depended upon seeing the king often. There are several widely accepted myths about Luynes's greed and ambition. Contemporaries described Luynes as courteous, kind, and affable, someone who was charming and deferential.

in Power and reputation at the court of Louis XIII
Sharon Kettering

Court ceremonies created, expressed, and maintained a hierarchy of dominance and deference, providing a detailed demarcation of the rank and power of court nobles and their relationship to the king. Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes and the king used the distribution of knighthoods to reward faithful servants of the crown, especially those who had helped them to get rid of Concini. They withheld knighthoods to punish those who continued to support the Queen Mother. The pamphleteers accused Luynes of naming new knights from obscure families by the dozens, describing them as 'low-born poltroons.' The pamphleteers accused Luynes of filling the royal council and high government offices with so many clients that a 'cabal of luynistes' surrounded the king, giving him bad advice, driving everyone else away, and corrupting the government.

in Power and reputation at the court of Louis XIII
Sharon Kettering

Cardinal Richelieu considered Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes to be the implacable enemy of the Queen Mother, and blamed him for her quarrel with her son. This chapter argues that Luynes and the king tried hard to convince the Queen Mother to return to court so they could keep an eye on her. During 1619 and 1620, Luynes successfully recruited thirty-seven court nobles sympathetic to the new regime to form a party opposing that of the Queen Mother. Luynes's supporters were rewarded generously with royal patronage including household, provincial, and military offices, titles, court privileges, cash gifts, and ambassadorial appointments. Luynes and the king had to control the conflict among court factions in order to govern successfully, and did so by using the classic strategy of divide-and-rule.

in Power and reputation at the court of Louis XIII
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Sharon Kettering

Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes became a minister with portfolio because as constable he was first among the crown's great officials, and he thus became a minister favorite. Luynes's reception as constable, attended by the royal council, highlights the questions such as how important decisions were made, what role did Luynes play in decision-making, and what role have historians said that he played. Luynes influenced the king's decision-making privately in one-on-one conversations, demonstrated by the famous quarrel between Cardinal Guise and the duc de Nevers, who were engaged in a lawsuit before the Grand Conseil over control of the priory of La Charité. The historiography on Luynes's role in decision-making is divided into two opposing views. First, a strong dominant king made decisions with the help of Guichard Déagent and Puysieux, while Luynes was an ineffectual favorite. Second, a strong dominant favorite made decisions for an inexperienced young king.

in Power and reputation at the court of Louis XIII
Sharon Kettering

On 26 September, François de Bassompierre was summoned by the king to siege headquarters at Piquecos, a red-brick château on a hill overlooking a valley north of Montauban. The 1621 campaign against the Huguenots lasted from 5 April, when the king and Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes left Paris for Fontainebleau, until 15 December when Luynes died. Louis XIII's desire to go on campaign in the southwest motivated his handling of the Valteline affair. During March and April 1621, Bassompierre successfully negotiated the Treaty of Madrid, which stipulated that the Spanish would withdraw their troops from the Valteline, turn over control of the valley to the Grisons, and declare a general amnesty. The king and Luynes used military intimidation to increase the likelihood of Bassompierre's success in negotiating a treaty.

in Power and reputation at the court of Louis XIII