chapter  5
16 Pages

Pomp and Circumstances: State Prelates under Francis I and Henry VIII

WithHenry VIII Cédric Michon

In 1544, Cardinal Jean du Bellay was appointed Archbishop of Bordeaux thanks to the patronage of Anne de Pisselieu, Duchess of Etampes and mistress of Francis I. This promotion was accepted by the Admiral d’Annebault provided Du Bellay paid a pension of 2,000 écus on the revenues of the seat. When Du Bellay learned that the pension had been doubled to 4,000 écus, he went to the court and had an altercation with the admiral, which was reported by the Italian ambassador of Ferrara:

Thus, without fighting Du Bellay replied with the arrogance of a gentleman. Two years later, at a session of Henry VIII’s Privy Council, an altercation also

took place between Bishop Stephen Gardiner and John Dudley, the Admiral of England. This altercation concluded, it seems, with Dudley slapping Gardiner in the face.2 The narrative we have of this episode does not relate any reaction from the bishop: he is a victim, not an actor. This slap symbolises his situation as an upstart technician. It is hard to imagine Du Bellay, or his fellow prelates, Tournon or Lorraine, being slapped in the face by another councillor. These two stories represent the differences in the integration at court of French and English prelates respectively. Isolated both socially and culturally, the English prelates had to substitute for the family and courtier connections enjoyed by their French counterparts, an alternative connection: namely university solidarity.