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Family of Harlay

An important family of parliamentarians and bishops, who deserve a place in religious history

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Harlay, FAMILY OF, an important family of parliamentarians and bishops, who deserve a place in religious history.

ACHILLE DE HARLAY, b. at Paris, March 7, 1536; d. at Paris, October 21, 1619. Councillor of the Parlement of Paris in 1558, president to the Parlement in 1572, “first president” (premier president) in 1582, he was the typical Christian and Gallican parliamentarian of the old regime. De la Vallee, his panegyrist, calls him the Christian Cato. He opposed the League when its action in Paris became revolutionary (see House of Guise); he incited the protest of the Parlement against the Bull of 1585, which declared Henry of Bourbon, the future Henry IV, stripped of his rights to the throne. Throughout the Jour des Barricades, and after the assassination of the Guises by order of Henry III, Harlay displayed great courage before the excited members of the League; he was imprisoned by them in the Bastille till after the death of Henry III. Under Henry IV his memories of the League led him to take the initiative in the condemnation of certain theologians (e.g. Mariana, Bellarmine) whom he considered an obstacle to royal absolutism. These opinions of Harlay explain his attempt after the assassination of Henry IV, to implicate the Society of Jesus as responsible for that deed.

ACHILLE DE HARLAY, Baron de Sancy, b. in 1581; d. November 20, 1646. He belonged to a younger branch of the house of Harlay. Bishop-elect of Lavaur, he gave up the ecclesiastical state in 1601, on the death of his elder brother, to follow a military career. Marie de’ Medici, the queen regent, sent him in 1611 as ambassador to Constantinople, his mission being to protect the Jesuit establishments from Mussulman fanaticism. His secretary and dragoman, Denys, has left a journal in which de Sancy is represented as prodigal, debauched, and negligent of his duties, but an attentive study of his embassy gives quite another idea of him. At the end of 1617 he was the victim of a very annoying incident. The Turks, exasperated by the escape of the Polish prisoner Koreski, accused Sancy of having been his accomplice, put several of his secretaries to the torture, and held him prisoner for five days. In consequence of these events Sancy was recalled to France and the Turkish Government apologized to Louis XIII. At Constantinople, nevertheless, Sancy had been useful to the Jesuits, whom he defended against the vexatious proceedings of the Porte. He had also been helpful to science. Himself a polyglot, he applied himself to the discovery of rare manuscripts, and for this purpose sent to Egypt M. d’Orgeville, a doctor of the Sorbonne. Sancy was thus enabled to bring home, among other manuscripts, a Pentateuch in four languages—Hebrew, Chaldean, Arabian, and Persian—and several works of St. Cyril of Alexandria. Having fallen ill in 1619, Sancy, who had known Berulle at Constantinople, resolved to enter the Oratory. He later supported with his own money the houses of the Oratory at Dieppe, Troyes, Nantes, Clermont, and Paris, and figures among the twelve priests of the Oratory whom Henrietta of France, when she had become Queen of England, brought to London with her in 1625. It was to him that Berulle, on leaving London, committed the spiritual direction of the queen. Sancy, who was certainly back in France at the end of 1628, seconded the policy of Cardinal Richelieu, and when in 1629 Richelieu thought of issuing his “Memoires”, he entrusted that charge to Sancy. The Italian historian, Vittorio Siri, quoting in his unedited “Memorie” passages found in exactly the same form in the “Memoires” of Richelieu, says that he borrowed them from the “Historia manoscritta del vescovo di San Malo” (manuscript history of the Bishop of St-Malo). Robert Lavollee compared the manuscripts of the “Memoires” of Richelieu and the autograph letters of Sancy, and found that the handwriting in both was the same. Sancy, who in fact became Bishop of St-Malo in 1631, was therefore the editor of the “Memoires” of the celebrated cardinal. This discovery, made in 1904, has greatly increased his renown.

CHARLOTTE HARLAY DE SANCY (1579-1652), sister of the foregoing, widow of the Marquis de Bleaute, assisted Madame Acarie to establish the Carmelites in France and was in 1604, under the name of Marie de Jesus, one of the first religious of the convent of Paris, of which she became prioress.

FRANCOIS DE HARLAY, b. at Paris in 1585; d. March 22, 1653. He belonged to the branch of the Harlays which, by its union with the family of Marck-Bouillon, was allied with the princely houses of Europe. Abbot of St-Victor, he became in 1616 Archbishop of Rouen, and so remained until 1651, when he resigned in favor of his nephew. His episcopate was notable for the establishment in his archdiocese of a large number of religious houses, which aided the reform of the clergy, and also for the reform of the Benedictines, for which he manifested great zeal, and which he inaugurated in 1617 in the monastery of Jumieges. The Chateau de Gaillon, which Cardinal Georges d’Amboise had bequeathed to the Church of Rouen, became under the episcopate of Harlay a sort of center for the study of the Scriptures and religious questions. It was the seat of an academy whose members were to consecrate themselves as apologists of St. Paul. It possessed also a printing-press which published some of Harlay’s writings. Under Harlay, also, the library of the chapter of Rouen was opened to the public. Harlay took a successful part in certain polemics against the Protestants. In 1625 he published the “Apologia Evangelii pro catholicis ad Jacobum Magnum Britanniae regem”, and in 1633 “Le mystere de l’Eucharistie explique par Saint Augustin avec un avis aux ministres de ne plus entreprendre d’alleguer Saint Augustin pour eux”. His zeal against the Reformation extended beyond his archdiocese. He joined with Pierre de Marca in the reestablishment of Catholic worship in Bearn, where the Calvinists had made great progress. Even his most ill-disposed contemporaries—like Mme des Loges, who said that Harlay’s brain was a library upside-down, and Vigneul Marville, who spoke of his “well of knowledge so deep that it was impossible to see a drop “—were compelled to recognize at least the prodigious erudition of this prelate.

(5) FRANCIS DE HARLAY-CHANVALLON, the nephew of the foregoing; b. August 14, 1625; d. at Conflans, August 6, 1695. From Abbot of Jumieges, he became Archbishop of Rouen in 1651. St. Vincent de Paul was unfavorable to this appointment, concerning which Anne of Austria had consulted him, but one day, when the saint was absent from the council, Hardouin de Perefixe, tutor of Louis XIV, put through the nomination. Desiring to play a political role, Harlay labored to further the policy of Mazarin, and obtained from King Louis XIV Mazarin’s recall from exile. In 1671 he became Archbishop of Paris, and each week Louis XIV discussed with Harlay and Pere La Chaise the interests of the Church in Paris. In honor of Harlay the Archdiocese of Paris was made a ducal peerage for him and his successor. He possessed real talent as an orator, and played an important part in the assemblies of the clergy (see Assemblies of the French Clergy), notably in the Assembly of 1682, at which his influence was supreme. It was at his instigation that Le Tellier, Archbishop of Reims, was entrusted with the report on the conflict between the king and the pope concerning the monastery of Charonne, and decided that the pope should have secured information from the Archbishop of Paris. It was probably he who, early in 1685, blessed at Versailles the marriage of Louis XIV and Madame de Maintenon. During his episcopate, in 1683, the foundation-stone was laid of the Seminaire des Missions Etrangeres. Under him appeared the “Synodicon Parisiense”, a collection of all the synods held by his predecessors, and it was at his command that the oratorian, Gerard Dubois, undertook to write the “Historia Ecclesiae Parisiensis”. The character of this prelate gave rise to much discussion, and unpleasant rumors were current concerning his death. “There are but two little trifles”, wrote Mme de Sevigne, “which render praise of him difficult: his life and his death.” Harlay’s opposition to Jansenism and his active share in the religious policy of Louis XIV against the Protestants may have excited the ill-will of his enemies. Nevertheless, despite the eulogy of the “Gallia Christiana“, Pere Armand Jean, S.J., declares that “he administered his diocese with more show and cleverness than edification, that his attitude in the Assembly of 1682 was reprehensible, and that he was not less blameworthy in his private life”.

GEORGES GOYAU


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