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Michel de l'Hospital by Caunois 1817

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One of the 'Galerie Metallique Des Grands Hommes Francais'

Michel de l'Hospital by Caunois, bronze 41mm, original strike.


Michel de l'Hospital(1507-1573) A great French statesman. He rose to be the Chancellor of France at the behest of Catherine de Medici, the queen-mother of the young Francis II(soon succeeded by his younger brother Charles IX). l'Hospital tried to prevent the persecution of the Huguenots, he resisted papal domination & the inquisition & supported an independent Gallic catholic church which would tolerate the Protestants.


He had seen, first hand, the horrors of the inquisition & catholic intolerance as a young student at Toulouse university. Some of the teachers & lecturers, even the sincere catholics, were forced to flee for fear of their lives because of their enlightened teachings. One Cadurce, a law lecturer, was burnt alive, presumably his death was what caused the others to flee. Some were forced to renounce their beliefs & teachings and were then just publicly humiliated. l'Hospital went to Padua university, where many of the European free-thinkers gathered under the protection of the Venetian republic, to continue his education. He became a 'Professor of Civil Law' at the university. Later when he returned to France he married a huguenot & their children were raised in her faith, so though in public life he was a catholic I suspect he was a closet huguenot, hence his policy of religious toleration.


I hope I have not done him a disservice in appearing to ascribing his toleration to self-interest alone. He was without doubt a most pious, upright & honest man, of great intellect & was a hard-working servant of France. He worked tireless for justice for all the French people, without seeking bribes & rewards.


To give but one example of his character & beliefs here is part of a speech given to the Rouen parliament on the occassion of the announcement of the king's(Charles IX) majority:


"I see every day men influenced by their feelings, enemies or friends of this or that person, of this or that sect, give their decisions for or against, without a thought of equity or the truth in the case. You are judges of the field & meadow, but not of life, of morals, nor of religion. You think you have done an excellent thing in giving gain of cause to the man whom you consider good, or whom you deem the better christian: as if that was the thing being tried at law, or as if the fact of one man being a better artist, poet, orator, workman: and questions of art, doctrine, strength, bravery, or any other qualities, were to be considerd in place of the thing to be judged. If you are not strong enough, or just enough to control your passions and to love your enemies, as God commands you, abstain from the office of judge."


He tried but failed in his valiant attempts to encourage his countrymen to see catholics, huguenots, lutherans, calvinists as just being christians.

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Nice research as always! Although your medals have their own history, you always manage to bring that history to life through your accompanying text. Always a delight to read your posts and view your finds.


There are some real beauts in that particular series / collection.

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