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- For his nephew, also a cardinal, see Georges II d'Amboise (1488–1550).
Georges d'Amboise (1460 – May 25, 1510) was a French Roman Catholic cardinal and minister of state. He belonged to the house of Amboise, a noble family possessed of considerable influence: of his nine brothers, four were bishops. His father, Pierre d'Amboise, seigneur de Chaumont, was chamberlain to Charles VII and Louis XI and ambassador at Rome. Georges' eldest brother, Charles, was governor of the Île-de-France, Champagne and Burgundy, and councillor of Louis XI.
He was only fourteen when his father procured for him the bishopric of Montauban, and Louis XI appointed him one of his almoners. On arriving at manhood d'Amboise attached himself to the party of Louis, duc d'Orléans, in whose cause he suffered imprisonment at Corbeil, and on whose return to the royal favor he was elevated to the archbishopric of Narbonne, (June 18, 1482) in which the pope refused to confirm him; after some time he changed his see for that of Rouen (1493). On the appointment of Orléans as governor of Normandy, d'Amboise became his lieutenant-general.
In 1498 the duc d'Orléans mounted the throne as Louis XII, and d'Amboise was suddenly raised to the high position of cardinal (September 17, 1498) and prime minister. In December 1498, he obtained, for reasons of state, the annulment of the marriage of the king to Jeanne de Valois; the king married Anne de Bretagne, widow of the king, in January 1499.
His foreign policy was animated by the aim of increasing French power in Italy by the conquest of the Milanese territories, in which he can be seen as the continuator of the policies of Étienne de Vesc. On 9 February 1499, he signed a treaty with Venice to which Pope Alexander VI adhered. He accompanied Louis and entered with him into Milan 6 October 1499; he was charged with organizing that province under French control, then returned to France in November. After the revolt of March 1500 in favor of Ludovico Sforza, the cardinal was appointed lieutenant general; he retook the duchy of Milan and sent Sforza to France as a prisoner. He made a triumphal entrance into Lyon on 23 June and received from Louis XII the countship of Lomello. The Cardinal returned to Italy at the beginning of 1501 for the attempted conquest of Naples; he went to Trent as ambassador in October 1501.
His administration in France was, in many respects, well-intentioned and useful. Having the good fortune to serve a king who was both economical and just, he was able to diminish the imposts, to introduce order among the soldiery, and above all, by the ordinances of 1499, to improve the organization of justice. He was also zealous for the reform of the church, and particularly for the reform of the monasteries; and it is greatly to his credit that he did not avail himself of the extremely favorable opportunities he possessed of becoming a pluralist.
Construction of the Butter Tower
The Butter Tower of Rouen Cathedral was erected in the early 16th century. d'Amboise had authorised the burning of butter instead of oil, which was scarce, in lamps during Lent, collecting monies of six deniers Tournois from each diocesan for this permission.
Aspirations for the Papacy
On the death of Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503) he aspired to the papacy during the papal conclave, September 1503. He had French troops at the gates of Rome, by means of which he could easily have frightened the conclave and induced them to elect him; but he was persuaded to trust to his influence; the troops were dismissed, and an Italian was appointed as Pius III (1503); and again, on the death of Pius within the month, another Italian, Julius II (1503–13), was chosen.
Cardinal d'Amboise received as compensation the title of papal legate for life in France and in the Comtat Venaissin.
League of Cambrai
He was one of the negotiators of the disastrous Treaty of Blois (1504), and in 1508 of the League of Cambrai against Venice. In 1509 he again accompanied Louis XII into Italy, but on his return he was seized at the city of Lyon with a fatal attack of gout in the stomach. He died there on the 25th of May 1510. His body was removed to Rouen; and a magnificent tomb, on which he is represented kneeling in the attitude of prayer, was erected to his memory in the cathedral of that town. Throughout his life he was an enlightened patron of letters and art, and it was at his orders that the Château de Gaillon near Rouen was built.
His nephews Louis d'Amboise, Georges II d'Amboise and François Guillaume de Castelanu de Clermont-Ludéve were also made cardinals.
His capacity as an administrator was such that he is believed to be the original "George" of the catchphrase "Let George do it". The proverb apparently first appears in French in the mid-17th century.
Notes and references
- Soyer, Alexis (1977) . The Pantropheon or a History of Food and its Preparation in Ancient Times. Wisbech, Cambs.: Paddington Press. p. 172. ISBN 0-448-22976-5.
- Wolfgang Mieder (2013), «Laissez faire á Georges» and «Let George do it». A Case of Paremiological Polygenesis; retrieved: 2017-11-17.
- Bellesrives, Léonce de (1853). Le Cardinal Georges d'Amboise: ministre de Louis XII (in French). Limoges: Barbou frères.
- Bottineau-Fuchs, Yves (2005). Georges 1er d'Amboise 1460-1510: Un prélat normand de la Renaissance (in French). Rouen: Editions PTC. ISBN 978-2-906258-90-7.
- Doucet, R. (1957). "France under Charles VIII and Louis XII". In G. R. Potter (ed.). The New Cambridge Modern History: I. The Renaissance 1493–1520. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 293–4, 302–3, 307.
- Le Gendre, Louis (1724). Vie du Cardinal d'Amboise, premier ministre de Louis XII, avec un parallèle des cardinaux célèbres qui ont gouverné des Estats par Louis Le Gendre (in French). Rouen: Machuel.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Amboise, Georges d'". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 796–797.
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