Agrippa d’Aubigné

Agrippa d'Aubigné bigraphy, stories - French poet

Agrippa d’Aubigné : biography

February 8, 1552 – April 29, 1630

Théodore-Agrippa d’Aubigné (February 8, 1552 – April 29, 1630) was a French poet, soldier, propagandist and chronicler. His epic poem Les Tragiques (1616) is widely regarded as his masterpiece.A colloquy featuring Aubigné and the poets of his generation, Une volée de poètes : D’Aubigné et la génération poétique des années 1570-1610 organised by Association des Amis d’Agrippa d’Aubigné is scheduled for October 2008 at Laboratoire Forell (Université de Poitiers) ().


Born at the Aubigné château of Saint-Maury near Pons in the present day Charente-Maritime, the son of Jean d’Aubigné, who was implicated in the Huguenot Amboise conspiracy to kidnap the King (1560). Aubigné studied in Paris, Orléans, Geneva and Lyon before joining the Huguenot cause of Henry of Navarre (Henry IV) as both soldier and counsellor. Henry’s accession to the throne of France entailed an, at least nominal, conversion to the Roman Catholic Church and Aubigné left his service to tend to his own Poitou estates, even though his Huguenot confederates welcomed Henry’s religious tolerance. When Marie de’ Medici became regent following Henry’s assassination in 1610, she embraced the Counter-Reformation and Aubigné’s isolation made him an easy target. He was proscribed in 1620 and fled to Geneva where he lived for the rest of his life.

His daughter Louise Arthemise d’Aubigné, Madame de Villette, was born in 1584 at Mursay to Suzanne de Lusignan de Lezay; at an early age on the 22 of October 1610 she married Benjamin Valois de Vilette in Maillezais.

His son Constant d’Aubigné led a scandalous life of adventure. Constant was twice married. His first wife, Anne Marchant, left a son Theodore. His second wife, Jeanne de Cardilhac, was the mother of Mme. de Maintenon (who, by many interesting turn of life events, married the King of France, Louis XIV) and Chevalier D’Aubigné. The d’Aubigné line was continued through Ann Marchant’s son, Theodore (1613–1670).

His great grand daughter Françoise Charlotte d’Aubigné married into the House of Noailles. From Françoise Charlotte and her husband, Adrien Maurice de Noailles, Agrippa is an ancestor of include the present duc de Noailles, who has three children. Others include Adrienne de Noailles, wife of the famous marquis de Lafayette; the Duke of Brabant, Princess Astrid of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este and Prince Laurent of Belgium.

Literary and historical works

  • Histoire universelle (1616–1618)
  • Les Tragiques (1616)
  • Avantures du Baron de Faeneste
  • Confession catholique du sieur de Sancy
  • Sa vie à ses enfants

Les Tragiques

Written over some three decades, the alexandrine verse of this epic poem relies on multiple genres as well as stylistic familiarity with the work of the opposing, Catholic poets of the Pléïade, headed by Pierre de Ronsard. Divided into seven books, a number symbolic of the author’s ultimate, apocalyptic intent, the Tragiques incorporates literary influence from classical sources, such as tragedy and satire, palpable in the first three books ("Les Misères," "Les Princes" and "La Chambre Dorée" respectively), before resorting to influence from genres like ecclesiastical history, martyrology and apocalypse in the creation of the remaining books ("," "" "" and "").

In the first of two liminal paratexts, the introduction "Aux Lecteurs," Aubigné endorses the account (also found in his autobiographical ‘), that the inception of the Tragiques came to him as an ecstatic vision during a near-death experience. In the second, "L’Auteur À Son Livre," Aubigné adopts the metaphor of father as author to name the text that follows (Les Tragiques) as a more pious son than the less religious works of his youth (c.f.: Le Printemps). The intent of the epic is subsequently spelled out as an attack against the falsely beautiful, verisimilar works written by the Catholic poets of the Pléïade for their patrons in the midst of the religious wars.