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Anne, First Duke of Montmorency

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Born at Chantilly, 15 March, 1492; died at Paris, 12 November, 1567. He belonged to that family of Montmorency whose members from 1327 held the title of first Barons of France. Educated with the future Francis I, appointed marshal in 1522 as a reward for his services in the capture of Novara, his successful efforts to obtain the freedom of Francis I, taken prisoner at Pavia (1525), assured him of his favour. He immediately became grand master of the royal house and Governor of Languedoc. To his cleverness was due the treaty of Cambrai (1529), by which the two sons of Francis I, retained as hostages by Charles V since 1526, were released; in 1530 his power became unlimited. He inaugurated a new policy; his foremost aim was that France should regain her strength and live at peace with the emperor and the pope. He arranged the interview at Marseilles (1533) between Francis I and Clement VII in which the marriage of Catherine de Médicis with Prince Henry, the second son of the king, was arranged. The continued friendship of Francis I with certain German princes and his ambitions in Italy which were opposed to those of the emperor, made an understanding with Charles V very difficult. With the outbreak of war in 1536, Montmorency adopted the tactics of never giving battle; he laid waste Provence so that when the imperial forces invaded that province they were obliged by famine to retreat. The articles of agreement which Charles V and Francis I signed (July, 1538), were the work of Montmorency, who declared afterwards that "the interests of both might be considered identical". The journey of Charles V to France (January, 1540) led Francis I to believe that the emperor was about to cede Milan to him; but he was soon undeceived. Montmorency, constable since 1538, was disgraced (June, 1541) through the influence of the favourite, Mme. d'Etampes. In 1547 Henry II, hardly become king, recalled Montmorency and made him really his favourite: Charles V made advances to the constable who in 1551 became a duke anda peer. He soon found himself opposed to the Guises. In spite of the military glory of occupying Metz (April, 1552) his one desire was to secure peace between France and the Empire, and in 1555 he made a vain effort to bring this about through the mediation of Mary Tudor. The war was prolonged: at Saint-Quentin (August, 1557) Montmorency, defeated, was taken prisoner; it was in prison that he commenced the negotiations which terminated in the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (April, 1559) by which France obtained Metz, Toul, Verdun, and Calais but renounced any claim to Italy, Savoy, Brescia, and Bugey. Montmorency, in retirement during the reign of Francis II, under the regency of Catherine de Médicis found his position very complicated. The uncle of Coligny and an enemy of the Guises, it seemed as if he ought to have sustained that policy of toleration towards the Protestants at first inaugurated by the queen-regent; but his Catholic convictions led him with the Duke of Guise and the Ambrose Maréchal de Saint-André to form a triumvirate (6 August 1561) to save Catholicism. Wounded and captured by the Huguenots at the battle of Dreux (19 December, 1562) after the peace, he joined with the Protestant Condé in the effort to take Havre from the English (30 July, 1563). In the second war of religion he again opposed Condé; and it was a follower of Condé who mortally wounded him at the battle of Saint-Denis (10 November, 1567).

Of indomitable courage, his cruelty towards conquered soldiers was shocking. He preferred defensive to offensive warfare. Although definitively the first of the great French lords, he worked towards the development of royal absolutism; under Francis I and Henry II he showed himself a faithful defender of the royal authority and suspected the Guises of being its enemies. A conservative in religion, he could not understand the intrigues of Catherine de Médicis and throughout the religious wars he fought vigorously for Catholicism under the same banner as the Guises whom he detested. An enlightened and generous protector of the writers and artists of the Renaissance, in his castle at Chantilly finished in 1530, he gathered together a numismatic collection which later, after the condemnation of the Duke of Montmorency, the descendant of Anne, Louis XIII gave to his brother, Gaston d'Orléans, and which was the beginning of the Cabinet des Médailles of the national library of Paris. The library of Chantilly as formed by Anne contained wonderful copies, luxuriously edited, of the first French translations of Latin authors. The Institut de France in 1900 bought Les Heures du connétable" to add them again to this library from which they had been taken; they form one of the most admirable illuminated manuscripts of the sixteenth century, and we find in them a very beautiful prayer to Saint Christopher, composed by Anne himself during his years of disgrace; this manuscript was completed in 1549. During his disgrace Anne built the chateau of Ecouen where Jean Goujon, Rosso, and Bernard Palissy worked, and where were to be found two slaves in marble of Michael Angelo.


JEAN DE LUXEMBOURG, Le triomphe et les gestes de Mgr Anne de Montmorency, ed. DELISLE (Paris, 1904); DELISLE, Les heures du connétable Anne de Montmorency au Musée Condé (Chantilly, 1900); DE LASTEYRIE, Un grand seigneur du XVIe siècle: le connétable de Montmorency (Paris, 1879); DECRUE, Anne de Montmorency, grand maître et connétable de France à la cour, aux armées, et au conseil du roi François Ier (Paris, 1885); IDEM, Anne, duc de Montmorency, connétable et pair de France sous les rois Henri II, François II et Charles IX (Paris, 1889). See also bibliography under GUISE and CATHERINE DE MÉDICIS.

About this page

APA citation. Goyau, G. (1911). Anne, First Duke of Montmorency. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Goyau, Georges. "Anne, First Duke of Montmorency." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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