Amboise, George D'

a French cardinal and statesman of the illustrious house of Amboise in France, so called | from their possessing the seignory of that name, was born in 1460. Being destined at a very early age for the church, he was elected bishop of Montauban when only fourteen. He was afterwards made one of the almoners to Lewis XI. to whom he behaved with great prudence. After the death of this prince in 1480, he entered into some of the intrigues of the court with a design to favour the duke of Orleans, with whom he was closely connected; but those intrigues being discovered, d‘Aniboise and his protector were both imprisoned. The duke of Orleans was at last restored to his liberty; and this prince having negotiated the marriage of the king with the princess Anne of Britanny, acquired great reputation and credit at court. Of this his favourite d’Amboise felt the happy effect as, soon after, the archbishopric of Narbonne was bestowed on him; but being at too great a distance from the court, he changed it for that of Rouen, to which the chapter elected him in 1493. As soon as he had taken possession of his new see, the duke of Orleans, who was governor of Normandy, made him lieutenant-general, with the same power as if he had been governor in cbief. This province was at that time in great disorder: the noblesse oppressed the people, the judges were all corrupted or intimidated; the soldiers, who had been licentious since the late wars, infested the high-ways, plundering and assassinating all travellers they met; but in less-than a year, d‘Amboise by his care and prudence established public tranquillity. The king dying in 1498, the duke of Orleans ascended the throne, by the name of Lewis XII. and d’Amboise became his prime minister. By his first operation in that office, he conciliated the affection of the whole nation. It had been a custom when a new monarch ascended the throne, to lay an extraordinary tax on the people, to defray the expences of the coronation, but by the counsel of d‘Amboise this tax was not levied, and the imposts were soon reduced one tenth. His virtues coinciding with his knowledge, he made the French nation happy, and endeavoured to preserve the glory they had acquired. By his advice Lewis XII. undertook the conquest of the Milanese in 1499. Lewis the Moor, uncle and vassal of Maximilian, was then in possession of that province. It revolted soon after the conquest, but d’Amboise brought it back to its duty. Some time after he was received at Paris with great magnificence, in quality of legate from the pope. During his | legation, he laboured to reform many of the religious orders, as the jacobins, the cordeliers, and those of St. Germain des Pres. His disinterestedness was equal to his zeal. He never possessed more than one benefice, two thirds of which he employed for the relief of the poor and the support of the churches. Contenting himself with his archbishopric of Rouen and his cardinal’s hat, he was not, like his contemporaries, desirous to add abbeys to it. A gentleman of Normandy having offered to sell him an estate at a very low price, in order to portion his daughter, he made him a present of a sum sufficient for that purpose, and left him the estate. He obtained the purple after the dissolution of the marriage between Lewis XII. and Joan of France, to which he greatly contributed: and, on having procured for Caesar Borgia, son of pope Alexander VI. the duchy of Valentinois, with a considerable pension, his ambition was to be pope, with a view to the reform of abuses, and the correction of manners. After the death of Pius III. he might have succeeded in his wishes, and took measures to procure the tiara, but cardinal Julian de Rovera (afterwards Julius II.) found means to circumvent him; and the Venetians having contributed to his exclusion, he took the first opportunity to excite Lewis XII. to make war on them, a circumstance which seems not a little to detract from his character. This celebrated cardinal died in 15 10, in the convent of the Celestines at Lyons, of the gout in his stomach, aged 50 years. It is reported that he often repeated to the friar who attended him in his illness, “Brother John, why have I not during my whole life been brother John?” This minister has been greatly praised for having laboured for the happiness of France; but he has been equally censured for having advised his master to sign the treaty of Blois in 1504, by which France ran the risk of being dismembered. He governed both the king and the state; laborious, kind, honest, he possessed good sense, firmness, and experience, but he was not a great genius, nor were his views extensive. The desire he had to ease the people in their taxes, procured him during his life, but much more after his death, the title of father of the people. He merited this title still more, by the care he took to reform the administration of justice. Most of the judges were venal, and the poor, and those who had no support, could never obtain justice, when their opposers were either powerful or rich. Another | evil not less enormous troubled the kingdom; law-suits were spun out to such a length, were so expensive, and accompanied by so much trick and chicanery, that most people rather chose to abandon their rights than engage in the recovery of them by suits which had no prospect of coming to an end. D‘Amboise resolved to remedy this abuse. He called to his assistance many lawyers and civilians, the most learned and of the greatest integrity; and charged them to form a plan, by which justice might be administered without partiality, the duration of lawsuits abridged and rendered less ruinous, and the corruption of the judges prevented. When these commissioners had made their report, d’Amboise undertook the laborious task of examining into the changes they had proposed in the old laws, and the new regulations they designed to establish; and after having made some changes, these new regulations were published throughout the kingdom. As he was governor of Normandy, he made a progress through that province for the express purpose of seeing his new code properly established. 1

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Gen. Dict. —Moreri. Life, by the Abbe Le Gendre, 1721, 4to, and 2 vols. 12mo. His Letters to Lewis XII. were printed at Brussels, 1712, 4 vols, 12mo.