Jacques Davy Duperron

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Jacques Davy Duperron

Jacques Davy Duperron (15 November 1556 – 6 December 1618) was a French politician and Roman Catholic cardinal.

Family and Education[edit]

Jacques Davy du Perron was born in Saint-Lô in Normandy,[1] into the Davy family, of the Norman minor nobility, in the branch "Davy du Perron" after a property near St. Lô (in French his name is spelled Jacques Davy du Perron). He is never referred to as "Davy", and he usually signs his documents "Du Perron". The spelling "Duperron" is almost certainly wrong.

His father Julien was a physician, who, on embracing the doctrines of the Reformation, became a Protestant minister;[2] his mother was Ursine Le Cointe, daughter of Guillaume Le Cointe, sieur de Tot et d' Héranville en Cotentin.[3] During the siege of Rouen in 1562 by the troops of King Charles IX, Julien his father was arrested and imprisoned in Old Palais in Rouen.[4] Ursine and her two children escaped through the royal lines and eventually was reunited with her husband in Bas Normandie. To escape persecution the family settled at Bern, in Switzerland. There Jacques received his education, being taught Latin and mathematics by his father, and learning Greek and Hebrew[5] and the philosophy then in vogue, Aristotelianism, as well as that of Thomas Aquinas and that of the Calvinist favorite, St. Augustine of Hippo.[6]

During the disorders following the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (August 23–24, 1572, in Paris, and a month later in Normandy), the family fled to the Island of Jersey, which was under Protestant English control.[7]

Career under Henry III[edit]

Returning to Normandy, du Perron's existence and his talents were drawn to the attention of a courtier who was visiting General Jacques of Matignon, the Governor of Normandy. This courtier, named Lancosme, took du Perron along with him when he returned to Blois,[8] where the new King, Henry III of France, was residing.[9] He was presented to the King one evening during dinner, where he acquitted himself well both in speaking and in answering questions posed by the King's attendants.

After he had abjured Protestantism, by 1578 probably, he was again presented by Philippe Desportes, abbot of Tiron, as a young man without equal for knowledge and talent. He was appointed Reader to the King by Henry III [Lecteur de la chambre du Roy].[10] In 1578 he is also mentioned as Professeur du Roy aux langues, aux mathematiques, et en la philosophie.[11] He was commanded to preach before the king at the convent of Vincennes (1585), when the success of his sermon on the love of God,[12] and of a funeral oration on the poet Ronsard (on February 24, 1586, after dinner),[13] induced him to take orders. On the death of Mary, Queen of Scots (February 8, 1587), he was chosen by the King to compose a poem in her honor and about her fate.[14]

Career under Henry IV[edit]

On the death of Henry III (August 2, 1589), after having supported for some time the cardinal de Bourbon, the head of the league against the king, Du Perron eventually became a faithful servant of Henry IV. On February 13, 1590, however, he found himself compelled to write directly to the King, begging him not to believe the many calumnies being spread about by his enemies.[15] On December 11, 1591, du Perron was appointed by the King bishop of Évreux.[16] The Pope finally approved of the appointment at a Consistory on Monday, December 11, 1595.[17] He was finally consecrated in Rome on December 27, 1595, by Cardinal François de Joyeuse; the co-consecrators were Archbishop Guillaume d'Avançon of Embrun and Anne d'Escars de Givry, bishop of Lisieux.[18] On November 4, 1596, he was one of those who attended the Assemblée des Notables at Rouen.[19] He and Marechal de Matignon represented Normandy in the Third Chamber.

He instructed Henry in the Catholic religion; and in 1594 was sent to Rome with secretary Denis-Simon de Marquemont, where with the help of Abbé Arnaud d'Ossat (1536–1604), later Cardinal d'Ossat (1599-1604), they obtained Henry's absolution from the status of relapsed heretic.[20] Du Perron and d'Ossat performed the act of abjuration of Henri's heresy on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica on September 17, 1595,[21] thereby ending six years of controversy over the status of France and its King in the eyes of the Papacy. He departed Rome on March 28, 1596. On his return to his diocese, Du Perron's zeal and eloquence were largely instrumental in withstanding the progress of Calvinism, and among others he converted and the Swiss general Sancy and Henry Sponde, who became bishop of Pamiers. At the conference at Fontainebleau in 1600 he argued with much eloquence and ingenuity against Du Plessis Mornay (1549–1623).

Cardinal du Perron[edit]

On June 9, 1604, the Bishop of Évreux was created a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII, at the request of King Henri IV. In a letter of June 17, 1604, King Henry IV was able to inform the Bishop that the Pope had indeed named him a cardinal.[22] His red had was bestowed personally by the King in a public assembly at Fontainebleau. His speech of thanks to the King on that occasion survives.[23] He then set out for Rome to partake in the ceremonies of his elevation; he was sent to Rome, departing Fontainebleau on October 29, 1604, as chargé d'affaires de France.[24] His instructions from Henri IV required him to hold conversations with the Duke of Savoy and the Duke of Tuscany along the way.[25] He and the Grand Duke discussed, among other things, possible candidates for the Papacy in the next Conclave, most especially the Great-grand nephew of Leo X, Cardinal Alessandro de' Medici, Archbishop of Florence and Bishop of Palestrina.[26] Cardinal de'Medici was well known in the French Court, since he had been Legatus a latere in France (1596-1598). Henry also sent along general instructions for the French Cardinals in Rome, anticipating a vacancy in the Papal throne.[27] Cardinal du Perron made his solemn entry into Rome on December 18.[28] In the Consistory of January 7, 1605, he was named Cardinal Priest of S. Agnese in Agone, in Piazza Navona (where the current baroque church was not begun until 1652).

Immediately upon his appointment, Clement VIII found important work for du Perron in Rome. The Pope had formed a special commission, the Congregation de auxiliis, the chairmanship of which he retained for himself. But he appointed Cardinal du Perron to the Congregation. The purpose of this commission was to investigate and decide upon the work of the Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina, which had raised the acute question of God's Providence and human free will. Du Perron attended his first session on January 21.[29]

When Clement VIII died on Thursday, March 3, 1605, the Congregation was suspended, and du Perron found himself involved in his first Conclave. Although he was not the leader of the French faction, he contributed loyally, after the failure of the candidacies of Cardinals Baronius and Seraphin, to the election of the French King's candidate, Cardinal de' Medici, Leo XI, to the papal throne.[30] Du Perron sent off a long letter to Henry IV, reporting the day-to-day movements inside the Conclave in great detail.[31] On the death of Leo XI only twenty-four days later, du Perron participated in the election of Cardinal Camillo Borghese[32] as Paul V. At the conclusion of the Coronation festivities, Cardinal du Perron wrote a report of the Conclave for Henry IV.[33]

After his election, Paul V decided to continue the Congregation de auxiliis, and therefore du Perron was one of the Judges who began meeting again on September 14, 1605. He complained in a letter to Henry IV that he was constrained to read everything that had been published on the question during the previous eight or nine years. Although he appeared to work well with the Jesuit Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, in presenting the positions of Molinism fairly, du Perron's repeated counsel was not to take any decisions on the basic issues of the matter. Du Perron, after all, had strong Augustinian tendencies, which tended to make Molina's positions uncongenial. Even when he had returned to France in 1607, the Jesuits kept attempting to draw him into their circle, but without success.[34]

But, while du Perron was still in Rome, Pope Paul V decided to pick a quarrel with the Republic of Venice, over its conduct in exercising its sovereign rights. The Venetian government had passed a law against alienation of property in favor of the Church, and another requiring governmental approval for the building of new churches. In addition, there was the very old argument over the exemption of the clergy from civil court jurisdiction. On April 17, 1606, Pope Paul launched a bull against Venice, imposing an interdict on all the territories belonging to the Serenissima. This was certain to lead to war, and would very likely excite the greed of Spain for additional territory in Lombardy.[35] Henry IV, wishing to prevent this, proposed mediation between the Pope and Venice, and offered Cardinal de Joyeuse and Cardinal du Perron as mediators. The status of the Jesuits, who supported the papal interdict, became the main sticking point; the Venetians wanted them gone. Finally, due to the forceful persuasion of Cardinal de Joyeuse (du Perron claimed to be ill), the Pope gave way, the edict was withdrawn, and the crisis averted. Nonetheless, for the work that he had done, the Republic offered du Perron its thanks.[36]

In 1606, while still in Rome, du Perron was appointed archbishop of Sens by the King, an act approved by Pope Paul V in Consistory on October 9, 1606.[37] Like his predecessor at Sens, he became Primate of the Gauls and Germany, and Grand Almoner of the King of France (which also made him President of the Bibliothèque du Roi, which at that time was located at Fontainebleau). He was also ex officio the director of the College Royal. The King also appointed him Commander of the Order of the Holy Spirit.[38] Du Perron began his return to France in the Autumn of 1607. He was received by the Grand Duke of Tuscany in Florence, who wrote to King Henry in praise of du Perron on September 21. He visited Cardinal Giustiniani in Bologna, and then went to Venice, from which he wrote to the King on October 5. He then passed on toward France by way of Milan. After his return from Rome, he was present continually at the Royal Court for more than a year. He did not take possession of his throne in the Cathedral of Sens until October 26, 1608.[39] After the death of Henry IV in 1610, he took an active part in the states-general of 1614, when he vigorously upheld the ultramontane doctrines against the Third Estate.

He died on Wednesday, September 5, 1618, at the age of 63. His viscera were entombed in the Jesuit church of Saint-Louis in Paris, while his body was buried in the Choir of his cathedral in Sens.


  1. ^ Feret, p. 2 and n. 2. Some older authors, however, place his birth at Berne in Switzerland, to which his father Julien had retreated due to religious persecution. See e.g. André Pralard, Bibliothèque des auteurs ecclesiastiques du dix-septième siècle I (Paris 1708), p. 75; and Jean-Lévesque de Burigny, Vie du Cardinal du Perron (Paris 1768, p. 5.
  2. ^ De Burginy, p. 6, calls attention to a letter from the Sorbonne to Pope Clement VIII on September 2, 1594, which calles Julien du Perron a minister.
  3. ^ C. Hippeau, Les écrivains normands au XVIIe siècle (Caen 1858), p. 2.
  4. ^ "La vie de l' illusstrisime Cardinal du Perron", in Les divers Oeuvres de l' illustrissime Cardinal du Perron seconde edition (Paris 1629), p. 14.
  5. ^ Feret, p. 3.
  6. ^ La vie de l' illusstrisime Cardinal du Perron", in Les divers Oeuvres de l' illustrissime Cardinal du Perron seconde edition (Paris 1629), p. 17-18.
  7. ^ Feret, p. 4.
  8. ^ This is the version followed by Pralard, Bibliothèque des auteurs ecclesiastiques, p. 76. A different scenario is given by Burigny (pp. 12-13), who states that du Perron was taken to Blois by the Marechal de Matignon, who was going there to attend the Estates General. The Estates General met from December 2, 1576 to March 1, 1577, at the palace at Blois.
  9. ^ "La vie de l' illustrissime Cardinal du Perron", in Les divers Oeuvres, pp. 15-16. Feret, p. 5.
  10. ^ Les Divers Oeuvres de l' illustrissime Cardinal du Perron (Paris 1629) p. 581, and elsewhere.
  11. ^ Feret, p. 7.
  12. ^ Les Diverses Oeuvres de l'illustrissime cardinal Du Perron seconde edition (Paris, 1629), pp. 533-580.
  13. ^ Les Diverses Oeuvres de l'illustrissime cardinal Du Perron seconde edition (Paris, 1629), pp. 649-676.
  14. ^ "La vie de l' illusstrisime Cardinal du Perron", in Les divers Oeuvres de l' illustrissime Cardinal du Perron seconde edition (Paris 1629), p. 20. Feret, pp. 14-15, points out that the solemn memorial service took place at Notre Dame on March 13, 1587, and that the Archbishop of Bourges, Renaud de Beaune, preached the funeral oration. De Thou, Histoires Book 86, chapter 16, confirms that du Perron was commissioned to write a poem.
  15. ^ César de Ligny, Les ambassades et negotiations de L' Illustrissime et Reverendissime Cardinal du Perron (Paris: Pierre Lamy 1633), pp. 1-3.
  16. ^ G. van Gulik and C. Eubel, Hierarchia catholica edition altera (Monasterii 1923), p. 190. Gallia christiana XI (Paris 1759), pp. 613-616.
  17. ^ A. N. Amelot de la Houssaie (ed.), Letres du Cardinal d'Ossat, Lettre XLII a Monsieur de Villeroy (December 18, 1585), pp. 188-192, at p. 190.
  18. ^ Gallia christiana XI (Paris 1759), p. 615.
  19. ^ Theodore Godefroy and Denys Godefroy, Le Ceremonial françois II (Paris 1649), p. 383 and 385. Jacques-Auguste de Thou, Histoire de son temps, Liber CXVII
  20. ^ Du Perron's letters to Henri IV, announcing successful completion of negotiations, September 2, 1595, and absolution from excommunication, September 17, 1595, in Les Diverses Oeuvres de l'illustrissime cardinal Du Perron seconde edition (Paris, 1629), pp. 858-860. D'Ossat, distinctly the second figure, is mentioned in a letter to the King at p. 861.
  21. ^ Lorenzo Cardella, Memorie de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa VI (Roma 1793), p. 102.
  22. ^ Feret, pp. 293-294. Du Perron is called "Mon cousin" for the first time.
  23. ^ Les Diverses Oeuvres de l'illustrissime cardinal Du Perron seconde edition (Paris, 1629), pp. 869-870.
  24. ^ Pierre La Croix, Mémoire historique sur les institutions de la France à Rome (2nd edition par Jean Arnaud) (Rome 1892) p. 155.
  25. ^ Recueil des lettres missives de Henri IV IV, p. 328.
  26. ^ De Ligny, Les ambassades et negotiations de l' Illustrissime et Reverendissime Cardinal du Perron, p. 540.
  27. ^ Instructions for Cardinal de Joyeuse, de Givry, de Sourdis, Seraphin, and du Perron. The King had his own distinct opinions as to whom he favored: "Ceux au contraire que je desire favoriser et promouvoir sont les cardinaux de Florence [Medici], de Veronne [Valier], Sauli, Cossenze, Camerino [Pierbenedetti], Baronio et Séraphin [Olivier]."
  28. ^ Burigny, Vie du Cardinal du Perron, p. 220-221.
  29. ^ Burigny, pp. 228-233. Clement was hostile to Molinism, and it was said that he was preparing a bull against it.
  30. ^ The Sede Vacante and Conclave of March 3-April 1, 1605
  31. ^ De Ligny, Les ambassades et negotiations de L' Illustrisime et Reverendissime Cardinal du Perron (Paris 1633), pp. 578-638.
  32. ^ The Sede Vacante and Conclave of April 27-May 16, 1605
  33. ^ De Ligny, Les ambassades et negotiations de L' Illustrisime et Reverendissime Cardinal du Perron (Paris 1633), pp. 673-679.
  34. ^ Burigny, pp. 233-239.
  35. ^ In his letter to King Henry of April 18, du Perron remarks that the Papal Court was in an uproar. The Cardinals who were at the Consistory were all in favor of the Pope's bull but two. The courtiers, however, were of a different opinion ... que jamais chose ne leur vint si mal à propos, qui feroit maintenant un trouble en Italie, où leur reputation est si abaissé, leur credit si decheu, leurs moyens si épuisez, leur domination si odieuse qu' il n' est presques pas croyable. César de Ligny, Les ambassades et negotiations de L' Illustrissime et Reverendissime Cardinal du Perron (Paris: Pierre Lamy 1633), pp. 863-867.
  36. ^ Burigny, pp. 243-248.
  37. ^ P. Gauchat, Hierarchia catholica IV (Monasterii 1935), p. 313.
  38. ^ Burginy, p. 254.
  39. ^ Feret, p. 295. Gallia christiana XII (Paris 1770), 96-99.


Les ambassades et negotiations de L' Illustrisime et Reverendissime Cardinal du Perron - Skoklosters slott
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Duperron, Jacques Davy". Encyclopædia Britannica. 8 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 686.
  • Les Diverses Œuvres de l'illustrissime cardinal Du Perron (Paris, 1622) (second edition, augmented, Paris: Antoine Estiene, 1629).
  • César de Ligny, Les ambassades et negotiations de L' Illustrisime et Reverendissime Cardinal du Perron (Paris: Pierre Lamy 1633).
  • Jean-Lévesque de Burigny, Vie du Cardinal du Perron, Archevêque de Sens et Grand-Aumônier de France (Paris: De Bure 1768).
  • Pierre Feret, Le Cardinal Du Perron (Paris, 1876).
  • newadvent.org The article was written by Charles Dubray.