The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Paul III (1534-1549)
Consistory of January 9, 1548 (XI)

(67) 1. BOURBON-VENDÔME, Charles II de (1523-1590)

Birth. September 22, 1523 (1) , Ferté-sous-Jouare, France. Fifth child of Charles IV de Bourbon, duke de Vendôme, and Françoise d'Alençon, duchesse of Beaumont. Younger brother of Antoine de Bourbon, king of Navarre, father of future King Henri IV of France. Grand-nephew of Cardinal Charles I de Bourbon (1476). Nephew of Cardinal Louis II de Bourbon de Vendôme (1517). Uncle of Cardinal Charles III de Bourbon de Vendôme (1583). Another cardinal of the family was Louis de Vendôme (1667).

Education. (No information found).

Early life. Cleric of Meaux. He had an illegitimate son, Nicolas Poulain. Abbot commendatario of more than twenty abbeys; this accumulation of benifices made him one of the richest princes of Europe.

Sacred orders. Received the subdiaconate.

Episcopate. Elected bishop of Nevers, July 5, 1540; resigned the government of the see, May 5, 1546. Consecrated (no information found). Transferred to the see of Saintes, retaining the see of Nevers, January 23, 1544; resigned the government of the see of Saintes, March 19, 1550.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon in the consistory of January 9, 1548; received the red hat and the deaconry of S. Sisto, title declared deaconry pro illa vice, February 25, 1549. Participated in the conclave of 1549-1550, which elected Pope Julius III. Abbot commendatario of Saint-Ouen de Rouen. Administrator of the see of Carcassonne, March 9, 1550 to December 15, 1553; and again, October 4, 1565 until 1567. Promoted to the metropolitan see of Rouen, October 3, 1550. Named lieutenant-general of the government of Paris and Ile-de-France in 1551. Participated in the first conclave of 1555, which elected Pope Marcellus II. Participated inthe second conclave of 1555, which elected Pope Paul IV. Abbot commendatario of Corbie from 1557. Did not participate in the conclave of 1559, which elected Pope Pius IV. Opted for the title of S. Crisogono, January 15, 1561. Attended the colloquy of Poissy, 1561. Abbot commendatario of Saint-Germain des Prés from 1562. Participated in the États généraux in Orléans and Rouen. Accompanied King Charles IX in a trip to Bayonne in 1565. Legate in Avignon, 1565; attended its provincial council, 1569. Did not participate in the conclave of 1565-1566, which elected Pope Pius V. Administrator of the see of Beauvais, August 26, 1569; the see carried the titles of count and peer of the Kingdom of France; resigned the administration, August 24, 1575. Did not participate in the conclave of 1572, which elected Pope Gregory XIII. Abbot commendatario of Saint-Pierre de Jumièges from 1574. Presided the Assemblée Générale du Clergé de France in Melun, 1580. Did not participate in the conclave of 1585, which elected Pope Sixtus V. In 1588, at the second assembly of the État Générale in Blois, King Henri III, having learned that the cardinal was involved with the party of the League, and fearing that he was useful against him, placed the cardinal in captivity initially in Tours, and then in Fontenay-le-Comte in Poitou. King Henri III was assassinated in 1589. At once the duke of Mayenne proclaimed the Cardinal of Bourbon king of France, under the name of Charles X (2). It was the best choice which the house of Lorraine could make to save time and to prepare, in the shade of this phantom of royalty, to place one of its members on the French throne, since the king de Navarre, the elder of the branch of the Bourbons and heir to the branch of Valois, was excluded by his Protestantism. In the natural order of succession, the cardinal came after his nephew, who did not have children; this middle term could thus gain with the League those Catholics who, while fearing the advent to the throne of a Protestant prince, did not want a king who was not legitimate. The Lorraines, with the favor of the name of Charles X, could thus continue to undermine the power of Béarnais, and to prepare the advent of their house. On March 5, 1590, the Parliament handed down a judgment, in which it recognized Charles X as true and legitimate king of France. The League consequently engraved a seal and currencies with the effigy of the alleged King Charles X; someone even spoke of obtaining a papal exemption to allow this prelate of sixty-six years to marry the widow of the duke of Guise. During this time, the cardinal suffered from the gravel in his prison of Fontenay, which the duke of Mayenne did not think for a moment of opening to him. He feared too this project of marriage, which would have benefited only the children of his brother that he wanted to make the old cardinal adopt, so that the elder one became the successor. It appears that the cardinal, far from approving all that was being done on his behalf, addressed a letter to Henri IV recognizing him as his legitimate king. In the middle of this struggle of ambitions, the king of the League died in his prison. The heads of the League, not wanting to recognize Henri IV, and not daring to declare themselves between the king of Spain and the Guises, continued to register the name of the cardinal on the currencies after his death. In 1594, the year of the entry of King Henri IV, the same Parliament which had proclaimed Charles X handed down another solemn judgment against the royalty of this prince. It was ordered to strip his name from all the registers and public acts where it had been registered.

Death. May 9, 1590 (3), in prison in Fontenay le Comte. Buried in the Carthusian monastery in Gaillon that he had founded. In 1764, a fire destroyed the monastery and although his ashes were again interred in Gaillon, once the monastery was rebuilt, it was again destroyed during the French Revolution. His marble sepulchral slab is now at the church of Saint-Georges de Aubevoye.

Bibliography. Berton, Charles. Dictionnaire des cardinaux, contenant des notions générales sur le cardinalat, la nomenclature complète ..., des cardinaux de tous less temps et de tous les pays ... les détails biographiques essentiels sur tous les cardinaux ... de longues études sur les cardinaux célèbre ... Paris : J.-P. Migne, 1857 ; Facsimile edition. Farnborough ; Gregg, 1969, cols. 585-586; Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1793, IV, 289-291; Chacón, Alfonso. Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificvm Romanorum et S. R. E. Cardinalivm ab initio nascentis Ecclesiæ vsque ad Vrbanvm VIII. Pont. Max. 2 volumes. Romae : Typis Vaticanis, 1630, II, cols. 1561-1562; Eubel, Conradus and Gulik, Guglielmus van. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi. Münich : Sumptibus et Typis Librariae Regensbergianae, 1935; reprint, Padua : Il Messagero di S. Antonio, 1960, III, 30, 62, 70, 131, 152, 260, 287 and 338.

Links. Portrait, arms, medal, palace and biography, in French, Wikipedia; portrait, coins and biography, in French, La France pittoresque; coin and biography, in English, Archontology; his arms on a medal and biographical data, in French,; his arms on a medal and biographical data, in French,; his arms on a medal and biographical data, in French,; his arms on a medal and biographical data, in French,; his arms on a medal and biographical data, in French,; his arms on a medal and biographical data, in French,; his arms on a medal and biographical data, in French,; his portrait, cathedral of Saint-Louis, La Rochelle, Culture et Communication, Guovernment Française; his effigy on a medal, The Australian National University; his genealogy, A2 B2 E1 F5, Genealogy EU.

(1) This is according to his first biography, linked above; Berton, Dictionnaire des cardinaux, col. 585, says that he was born on December 22, 1523.
(2) In 1824, this was not recognized as legitimate, because the count d'Artois took the same name (Charles X) when he then ascended the French throne.
(3) This is according to Eubel, Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi, III, 30 and 62; and Berton, Dictionnaire des cardinaux, col. 586; his first biography in French, linked above, says that he died on May 5, 1590.

Top Consistories Catalogs Home

©1998-2023 Salvador Miranda.