Georges d'Amboise

Georges d'Amboise

 AMBOISE, GEORGES D’, (1460-1510), French cardinal and minister of state, belonged to a noble family possessed of considerable influence.  His father, Pierre d’Amboise, seigneur de Chaumont, was chamberlain to Charles VII. and Louis XI. and ambassador at Rome.  His eldest brother, Charles d’Amboise, was governor of the Isle of France, Champagne and Burgundy, and councilor of Louis XI. Georges d’Amboise 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 the duke of Orleans, in whose cause he suffered imprisonment, and on whose return to the royal favor he was elevated to the archbishopric of Narbonne, which after some time he changed for that of Rouen (1493).  On the appointment of the duke of Orleans as governor of Normandy, d’Amboise became his lieutenant-general.  In 1498 the duke of Orleans mounted the throne as Louis XII., and d’Amboise was suddenly raised to the high position of cardinal and prime minister.  His administration 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.  He regularly spent a large income in charity, and he labored strenuously to stay the progress of the plague and famine which broke out in 1504.  His foreign policy, less happy and less wise, was animated by two aims -- to increase the French power in Italy and to seat himself on the papal throne; and these aims be sought to achieve by diplomacy, not by force.  He, however, sympathized with, and took part in, the campaign which was begun in 1499 for the Conquest of Milan.  In 1500 he was named lieutenant- general in Italy and charged with the organization of the conquest. 

On the death of Alexander VI. he aspired to the papacy. 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.; and again, on the death of Pius within the month, another Italian, Julius II., was chosen (1503).  D’Amboise received in compensation the title of legate for life in France and in the Comtat Venaissin.  He was one of the negotiators of the disastrous treaties 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 Lyons 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 chateau of Gaillon near Rouen was built.

See Lettres du roi Louis XII. et du cardinal d’Amboise (Brussels, 1712); L. Legendre, Vie du cardinal d’Amboise (Rouen, 1726); E. Lavisse, Histoire de France (vol. v. by H. Lemonnier, Paris, 19O3); J. A. Deville, Tombeaux de la cathedrale de Rouen (3rd ed., 1881). For a bibliography of the printed sources see, H. Hauser, Les Sources de l’histoire de France, KM‘siecle, vol. i. (1906).




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