Claude de Seyssel

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Portrait of Claude de Seyssel presenting to King Louis XII of France the French translation of the book by Thucydides.
Image from La Grande Monarchie de France, Paris, 1519

Claude de Seyssel (died 1520) was a Savoyard jurist and humanist, now known for his political writings. He wrote La Grande Monarchie de France as a supporter of the French crown, in the person of Louis XII. Written around 1515, in French, it was published 1519; it supports hereditary monarchy.[1] A Latin translation De Republica Galliae was printed in 1548 in Strasbourg.


Seyssel was born in Aix-les-Bains as the bastard son of Claude de Seyssell, marshall of Savoy. He studied law and theology in Chambéry, Turin and Pavia. He graduated in 1485 and started teaching at the university of Turin. In 1499, he became a counsellor to King Louis XII of France, and was charged with various embassies to Italy and England.[2] He praised the French king in Histoire singuliere de Louis XII (A Biography of Louis XII) (1508) and in Les louanges de Louis XII (In Praise of the King)(1509). To extricate himself from the dispute opposing Louis XII to Pope Julius II, he withdrew for a while from politics; in 1512, however, he went back to Rome to present his credentials to the new pope, Leo X.[2] This was the apex of his diplomatic career. After the death of Louis XII in 1515, he gave up politics. The same year he was made bishop of Marseille.

His best-known work, written at the instigation of King Francis I of France, was Le grant monarchie de France (1518). He is considered as one of the best examples of French political thinking in the early 16th century. Seyssel had a high regard toward the French monarchy and constitution. He thought the power wielded by the monarch was both controlled and balanced, being limited by religion, existing laws and justice. His ideas were very influential in the 16th century. Later French thinkers adopted a different stance and distanced themselves from his beliefs.

He was made Archbishop of Turin, in 1517, through the king's influence.[3]

He also wrote on the Salic law, composed propaganda after the French victory over the Venetians, and worked as a translator of ancient historians, including Appianus of Alexandria.


Further reading[edit]

  • Rebecca Ard Boone, War, Domination, and the Monarchy of France: Claude de Seyssel and the Language of Politics in the Renaissance (Leiden, Brill, 2007) (Brill's Studies in Intellectual History, 156).

External links[edit]