“Happiness and misery depend as much on temperament as on fortune.” – François de La Rochefoucauld

“François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac (15 September 1613 – 17 March 1680) was a noted French author of maxims and memoirs. His is a clear-eyed, worldly view of human conduct that indulges in neither condemnation nor sentimentality. Born in Paris on the Rue des Petits Champs, at a time when the royal court was oscillating between aiding the nobility and threatening it, he was considered an exemplar of the accomplished 17th-century nobleman. Until 1650, he bore the title of Prince de Marcillac.

La Rochefoucauld received the education of a nobleman of his era, concentrating on military exercises, hunting, court etiquette, elegance of expression and comportment, and a knowledge of the world. He was married at the age of fifteen to Andrée de Vivonne, a cousin of Catherine de Vivonne, the future marquise de Rambouillet. He joined the army the following year and almost immediately established himself as a public figure. He fought bravely in the annual campaigns, though his actions were never formally recognised.

Under the patronage of Madame de Chevreuse, whom he met at this time, the first of the three celebrated women who influenced his life, he joined the service of Queen Anne of Austria. In one of Madame de Chevreuse’s quarrels with Cardinal Richelieu and her husband, a scheme apparently was conceived by which Marcillac was to carry her off to Brussels on horseback. Other cabals against Richelieu resulted once in Marcillac being sentenced to eight days in the Bastille, and he was occasionally required leave the Court, exiled to his father’s estates. In the power vacuum following Richelieu’s death in 1642, Marcillac took an active role, among others, in urging the queen and Condé to act together against Gaston, Duke of Orléans. However, the growing reputation of Mazarin impeded the ambition of the plotters, and Marcillac’s 1645 liaison with Duchess of Longueville made him irrevocably a frondeur (member of an uprising). He was a conspicuous figure in the siege of Paris, fought in many of the frequent military engagements, and was seriously wounded at the siege of Mardyke.

In the second Fronde, Marcillac allied himself with Condé. He used the occasion of his father’s funeral in 1650 to urge the attending provincial nobility to help him attack the royalist garrison of Saumur. In the battle of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, in 1652, he was shot through the head. It was feared that he would lose his sight, but he recovered after a year’s convalescence.

For some years thereafter, he retired to his country estate of Verteuil. Although his fortune had been reduced markedly, in time he was able to restore it to some extent thanks chiefly to the fidelity of Gourville, who had been in his service and who, passing into the service of Mazarin and of Condé, had acquired both wealth and influence. La Rochefoucauld did not return to court life until just before Mazarin’s death, when Louis XIV was about to assume absolute power, and the aristocratic anarchy of the Fronde was over. He wrote his memoirs during this time, as did many of his prominent contemporaries.” (Wikipedia)