The topics of this blog are Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Duke of Richelieu, and the IDEAL CITY built on his command next to his magnificent CHÂTEAU on the borders of Touraine, Anjou and Poitou, in France.

Monday 10 September 2007

The Duchesse d'Aiguillon, the Cardinal's favourite niece.

Marie-Madeleine de Vignerod, du Pont de Courlay, Madame de Combalet, duchesse d’Aiguillon (1604-1675) was the neice of Cardinal Richelieu. Daughter of René de Vignerod, Seigneur of Pont de Courlay, the second husband of Françoise du Plessis(1578-1616), elder sister of the Cardinal, Marie-Madelaine was woman of culture and letters, speaking four languages; she was the first to defend the play ‘Le Cid’, written by Corneille. Gustavus the III of Sweden considered her the ‘living newspaper’ of the new Academie Française. Marie de Medici (Louis XIII’s mother) and Anne of Austria (Louis XIII’s Queen) counted her amoungst their friends.

Madame d’Aiguillon lived in Paris with her uncle in the Petit Luxembourg, at 17 rue Vaugirard. All the supplicants who hoped to meet Cardinal Richelieu in person came and crowded into her salon. The niece of the 'Great Man' showed a degree of simplicity which held her to be highly esteemed.

Amoung those invited to her salon were Jean-Jacques Olier, financier of the colonisation of ‘Nouvelle-France’ (in today’s Nova Scotia), Saint Vincent de Paul, of whom she was a treasured companion, Paul Scarron, Madame de Souvré. the Marquise de Sablé, Marie-Marthe d’Alléon, Lady Dupré de Saint Maure, wife of the Intendant de Bordeaux, Adelaide Labille, painter, Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, comtesse de La Fayette, Anne Doni, demoiselle d'Attichy, comtesse de Maure; Pierre Corneille, Anne de Neufbourg, baroness de Vigean; Blaise Pascal, Marie de Gonzague.

Don’t forget her protegés; men of letters Jean Ogier de Gamaud, Vincent Voiture, Guillaume Colletet, Georges de Scudéry (the brother of Madeleine) and Julie-Lucine d'Angenne Montausier as well as Mademoiselle de Gournay, spiritual daughter of Montaigne.

From her French ‘salon’, the Duchess d’Aiguillon was a caretaker of the new American colony, and provided subsidies for it which supplied the establishment of the Hôtel-Dieu and the Convent of the Ursulines in Québec, as well as the Hôtel-Dieu and the Convent of the Congrégation de Nôtre-Dame in Montréal. In addition the benefactress paid the travelling costs to Québec of the three first nurses of the Order of nursing Augustines Hospitaliéres of the Miseriecorde of Jesus who took responsibiliy for the hospital in 1639.

In 1620 she married a nephew of the Constable de Luynes, Antoine de Beauvoir du Roure, Sieur de Combalet, who died in 1622 after only two years. In 1625, through her uncle's influence, she was made a lady-in-waiting (dame d'atour) to the Queen Mother Marie de Medici, and in 1638 was created the duchess of Aiguillon. Childless, she did not marry a second time, although Richelieu wished to marry her to a Prince - either to the Comte de Soissons or to the King's brother, Gaston d'Orleans. After the death of the Cardinal in 1642 she retained her honours and titles, but withdrew from the court, and devoted herself entirely to works of charity. She entered into relations with Saint Vincent de Paul and helped him to establish the Hospital for Foundlings. She also took part in organizing the General Hospital and several others in the provinces. She died on the 17th of April 1675 at the age of 71. She was the patroness of Corneille, who in 1636 dedicated to her his famous tragedy of 'Le Cid'.

She was appointed the executor of Richelieu’s estate on his death in 1642. He left his newly-completed Château and Town in her stewardship.

*****************************************************************************************************************In the CITÉ IDÉALE of today the nameDuchess d’Aiguillon’ is that of a Patissier/Chocolatier and organic baker who makes very fine breads and pâtissserie, and is located on the south-west side of the place des Religieuses. The chocolates are, well, .............soon gone!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

president de l'association "SUR LES PAS DE RICHELIEU" je recherche des personnes ayant fait recemment des etudes sur la duchesse d'aiguillon
votre site est tres bien .Félicitations

jean ANDRE

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