François de Harlay de Champvallon

François de Harlay de Champvallon (1625-1695)

François de Harlay de Champvallon (François III de Harlay; 14 August 1625 6 August 1695) was the fifth archbishop of Paris.

Life and church

Early years

Harlay de Champvallon was born in Paris, the nephew of François de Harlay, archbishop of Rouen, he was presented to the abbey of Jumièges immediately on leaving the Collège de Navarre, and he was only twenty-six when he succeeded his uncle in the archiepiscopal see. He was transferred to the see of Paris in 1671, he was nominated by the king for the cardinalate in 1690, and the domain of Saint-Cloud was erected into a duchy in his favour. He was commander of the order of the Saint Esprit and a member of the Académie française.


During the early part of his political career he was a firm adherent of Mazarin, and is said to have helped to procure his return from exile. His private life gave rise to much scandal, but he had a great capacity for business, considerable learning, and was an eloquent and persuasive speaker. He definitely secured the favour of Louis XIV by his support of the claims of the Gallican Church formulated by the declaration made by the clergy in assembly on 19 March 1682, when Bossuet accused him of truckling to the court like a valet.

One of the three witnesses of the king's marriage with Madame de Maintenon, he was hated by her for using his influence with the king to keep the matter secret. He had a weekly audience of Louis XIV in company with Père la Chaise on the affairs of the Church in Paris, but his influence gradually declined, and Saint-Simon, who bore him no good will for his harsh attitude to the Jansenists, says that his friends deserted him as the royal favour waned, until at last most of his time was spent at Conflans in company with the duchess of Lesdiguieres, who alone was faithful to him. Saint-Simon records that they were fond of walking through the magnificent gardens there, while a servant followed at a respectful distance to rake the gravel disturbed by their feet. He urged the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and showed great severity to the Huguenots at Dieppe, of which he was temporal and spiritual lord.

Personal life

Harlay de Champvallon died suddenly, without having received the sacraments, on 6 August 1695. His funeral discourse was delivered by the Père Gaillard, and Mme de Sévigné made on the occasion the severe comment that there were only two trifles to make this a difficult matter—his life and his death.


Media related to François de Harlay de Champvallon at Wikimedia Commons

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Hardouin de Péréfixe de Beaumont
Archbishop of Paris
Succeeded by
Louis Antoine de Noailles
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