Family tree of François DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD



French author of maxims and memoirs

Born on September 15, 1613 in Paris, France , France

Died on March 17, 1680 in Paris, France

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De La Rochefoucauld was born in Paris in the Rue des Petits Champs, at a time when the royal court oscillated between aiding the nobility and threatening it. Until 1650, he bore the title of Prince de Marcillac.

La Rochefoucauld received a scanty formal education. He was married at 15 to Andrée de Vivonne, but joined the army the following year and almost immediately established himself as a public figure. He took part in the annual campaigns and displayed the utmost bravery, though this was never formally recognised. Then he met Madame de Chevreuse, the first of three celebrated women who influenced his life.


Through Madame de Chevreuse he joined the service of the Queen, Anne of Austria, and in one of her quarrels with Richelieu and her husband a wild scheme was apparently conceived by which Marcillac was to carry her off to Brussels on a pillion. Such cabals against Richelieu once got Marcillac sentenced to eight days in the Bastille, and he was occasionally "exiled"; that is, ordered to retire to his father's estates. After Richelieu's death in 1642, much ambition arose among the French nobles to fill the power vacuum. Marcillac became one of the so-called important ones, and took an active role in pairing the queen and Condé in league together against Gaston, Duke of Orleans. But the growing reputation of Mazarin impeded his ambition, and his 1645 liaison with the beautiful duchess of Longueville made him irrevocably a Frondeur. He was a conspicuous figure in the siege of Paris, fought desperately in many of the engagements which were constantly taking place, and was severely wounded at the siege of Mardyke.

In the second Fronde, Marcillac allied himself with Condé. At his own father's funeral in 1650 he attempted to recruit the attending nobility of the province in an attack on the royalist garrison of Saumur. The attempt was not successful. The cabals and negotiations of the later Fronde were tortuous; it is said that Marcillac was always brave and generally unlucky. In the battle of the Faubourg Saint Antoine in 1652 he was shot through the head, and it was thought that he would lose the sight of both eyes. It took him nearly a year to recover. For some years thereafter he retired to his country seat of Verteuil, with no result for his twenty years' of fighting and intriguing except impaired health, a seriously reduced fortune and cause for bearing a grudge against almost every party and man of importance in the state. He was fortunate enough (thanks chiefly to the fidelity of Gourville, who had been in his service, and who, passing into the service of Mazarin and of Condé, had acquired both wealth and influence) to be able to repair in some measure the breaches in his fortune. He did not, however, return to court life until just before Mazarin's death, when Louis XIV was on the eve of assuming absolute power and the turbulent aristocratic anarchy of the Fronde was over. He wrote his memoirs during this time, as did almost all of his prominent contemporaries.

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Geographical origins

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