One of the most striking features of French government in the second half of the sixteenth century was the influence of Italians. Notwithstanding widespread French admiration for Italian culture, Italian influence at the heart of French government aroused xenophobic antagonism amongst many in French society. This study throws light on this complex relationship by offering the first detailed examination of the Gondi, one of the most influential of the Italian families active during this period. The Gondi family played a leading part in the finance, government, church and military affairs of the nation, and were indispensable counsellors to the Queen Mother, Catherine De' Medici. They were also the targets of anti-Italian hostility, much of it deliberately stirred by rivals in the French aristocracy who felt threatened by these powerful foreigners occupying positions they believed were rightfully theirs. The book examines perceptions of the Gondi through examination of contemporary pamphlets, diaries, and ambassadors' dispatches. It investigates, among other issues, their notorious role in the plotting of the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572. Making use of many previously overlooked archival sources from France and Italy, this book charts the Gondi's rise to power and demonstrates how their deft use of patronage and financial expertise allowed them to weave the intricate web of power and obligation that protected them against native hostility. In so doing the book reveals much about government and society in late sixteenth-century France.
Table of Contents
Contents: Foreword; Introduction; The Gondi in France: perceptions and realities; Money for royal endeavours; Power, prowess and prestige: the Gondi in politics; Pierre de Gondi: churchman and king’s man; Gondi women; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
Joanna Milstein received her BA from Columbia University in 2004. She completed her MLitt in 2007 and PhD in History in 2011 at the University of St Andrews. Dr Milstein has taught at the University of St Andrews and Dundee University. She currently serves as director of a research program at the Medici Archive Project focused on French relations with the Medici in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
"In this illuminating study, Joanna Milstein plots in meticulous detail the spectacular social and political ascent of the Gondi, a Florentine merchant banking family, in sixteenth-century France. (...) The author, herself, has manoeuvred subtly through eclectic themes to construct a nuanced and stimulating study."
- Lisa Di Crescenzo, Monash University in Parergon: Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, volume 33.1 (2016).