Marca, Peter De

, one of the greatest ornaments of the Gallican church, but a man of great inconsistency of character, was born in 1594, at Gant, in Bearn, of a very ancient family in that principality. He went through his course of philosophy among the Jesuits, and then studied the law for three years; after which he was received a counsellor in 1615, in the supreme council at Pau. In 1621 he was made president of the parliament of Bearn; and going to Paris in 1639, about the affairs of his province, was made a counsellor of state. In 1640 he published “The History of Bearn,” which confirmed the good opinion that was conceived of his knowledge and parts. He was thought, therefore, a very proper person to undertake a delicate and important subject, which offered itself about that time. The court of France was then at variance with the court of Rome, and the book which Peter de Puy published, concerning the liberties of the Gallican church, greatly alarmed the partisans of the court of Rome; some of whom endeavoured to persuade the world that they were the preliminaries of a schism contrived by cardinal Richelieu; as if his eminency had it in his head to erect a patriarchate in that kingdom, in order to render the Gallican church independent of the pope. A French divine, M. Hersent (see Hersent), who took the name of Optatus Gallus, addressed a book to the clergy upon the subject; and insinuated that the cardinal had brought over to his party a great personage, who was ready to defend this conduct of the cardinal; and this great personage was Peter de Marca. But an insinuation of this nature tending to make the cardinal odious, as it occasioned a rumour that he aspired to the patriarchate, the king laid his commands on de Marca to refute Hersent’s work, and at the same time to preserve the liberties of the Gallican church on the one hand, and to make it appear on the other that those liberties did not in the least diminish the reverence due to the holy see. He accepted of this commission, and executed it by his book “De Concordia sacerdotii & imperii, | sive, de libertatibus ecclesisæ Gallicæ,” which he published in 1641. He declared in his preface, that he did not enter upon the discussion of right, but confined himself to the settling of facts: that is, he only attempted to shew what deference the Western churches had always paid to the bishop of Rome on the one side; and on the other, what rights and privileges the Gallican churclh had always possessed. But though he had collected an infinite number of testimonies in favour of the pope’s power, the work was of too liberal a cast not to give offence: perhaps even the very attempt to throw the subject open to discussion was not very agreeable and accordingly, the court of Rome made a great many difficulties in dispatching the bulls which were demanded in favour of de Marca, who had, in the end of 1641, been presented to the bishopric of Conserans. That court gave him to understand that it was necessary he should soften some things he had advanced; and caused his book to pass a very strict examination. After the death of Urban VIII. cardinal Bichi warmly solicited Innocent X. to grant the bulls in favour of the bishop of Conserans; but the assessor of the holy office recalled the remembrance of the complaints which had been made against his book “De Concordia,” which occasioned this pope to order the examination of it anew. De Marca, despairing of success unless he gave satisfaction to the court of Rome, published a book in 1646, in which he explained the design of his “De Coocordia,” &c. submitted himself to the censure of the apostolic see, and shewed that kings were not the authors, but the guardians of the canon laws. “I own,” says he, “that I favoured the side of my prince too much, and acted the part of a president rather than that of a bishop. I renounce my errors, and promise for the future to be a strenuous advocate for the authority of the holy see.” Accordingly, in 1647, he wrote a book entitled “De singulari primatu Petri,” in which he proved that St. Peter was the only head of the church; and this he sent to the pope, who was so pleased with it, that he immediately granted his bulls, and he was made bishop of Conserans in 1648. This conduct of de Marca has been noticed by lord Bolingbroke, in his posthumous works, with becoming indignation. He calls him “a time-­serving priest, interested, and a great flatterer, if ever there was one;” and adds, that, “when he could not get his bulls dispatched, be made no scruple to explain away | all that he had said in favour of the state, and to limit the papal power.”

In 1644, de Marca was sent into Catalonia, to perform the office of visitor-general, and counsellor of the viceroy, which he executed to the year 1651, and so gained the affections of the Catalonians, that in 1647, when he was dangerously ill, they put up public prayers, and vows for his recovery. The city of Barcelona, in particular, made a vow to our lady of Montserrat, and sent thither in their name twelve capuchins and twelve nuns, who performed their journey with their hair hanging loose, and bare-footed. De Marca was persuaded, or rather seemed to be persuaded, that his recovery was entirely owing to so many vows and prayers; and would not leave Catalonia without going to pay his devotions at Montserrat, in the beginning of 1651, and there wrote a small treatise, “De origine & progressu cultûs beatæ Mariæ Virginis in Monteserato,” which he left in the archives of the monastery; so little did he really possess of that liberality and firmness of mind which is above vulgar prejudice and superstition. In August of the same year, he went to take possession of his bishopric; and the year after was nominated to the archbishopric of Toulouse, but did not take possession till 1655. In 1656 he assisted at the general assembly of the French clergy, and appeared in opposition to the Jansenists, that he might wipe off all suspicion of his not being an adherent of the court of Rome, for he knew that his being suspected of Jansenism had for a long time retarded the bull which was necessary to establish him in the archbishopric of Toulouse. He was made a minister of state in 1658, and went to Toulouse in 1659. In the following year he went to Roussillon, there to determine the marches with the commissaries of the king of Spain. In these conferences he had occasion to display his learning, as they involved points of criticism respecting the language of Pomponius Mela and Strabo. It was said in the Pyrenean treaty, that the limits of France and Spain were the same with those which anciently separated the Gauls from Spain. This obliged them to examine whereabouts, according to the ancient geographers, the Gauls terminated here; and de Marca’s knowledge was of great use at this juncture. He took a journey to Paris the same year, and obtained the appoiutment of archbishop of Paris; but died there June 29, 1662, the very day that the bulls for his | promotion arrived. His sudden death, at this time, occasioned the following jocular epitaph:

"Ci git monseigneur de Murca,

Que le Roi sagement marqua,

Pour le prelat de son eglise;

Mais la mort qui le remarqua,

Et qui se plait à la surprise,

Tout aussitôt le demarqua."

He left the care of his manuscripts to Mr. Baluze, who had lived with him ever since June, 1656, and who has written his life, whence this account is taken. Baluze also published an edition of his work “De Concordia,” in 1704, as originally written. The only other works he wrote of any note are his “Histoire de Bearn,Paris, 1640, fol. and his “Marca Hispanica, sive Limes Hispanicus,Paris, 1688, fol. edited by Baluze. Le Clerc very justly thinks Baluze’s account of De Marca, a panegyric or an apology rather than a life. The most favourable trait in De Marca’s character was his ambition to rise by learning, which certainly first brought him into notice. He is said to have renounced all the pleasures of youth, while he was at school, for the love of books; and to have foretold to his school-fellows, who spent their time in vain amusements, the difference which would one day appear between their glory and his. It was at Toulouse that he laid the groundwork of his great learning; and he did not neglect to make himself a complete master of the Greek tongue, which greatly distinguished him from other learned men. He was early married to a young lady of the ancient family of the viscounts of Lavedan, who bore him several children; but she dying in 1632, he went into orders. 1


Dupin.—Gen. Dict.—Niceron, vol. XII.—Perrault’s Les Hommes Illustres.