Historical Notes Covering Plate Eight

These notes are taken from the Genealogy and History of the Guadagni family by Luigi Passerini, and translated from Italian by Francesco Carloni. Revised and updated by Antonio, Isabella, and Vieri Guadagni. This plate however is mostly from La Saga Lyonnaise des Gadagne, by Edouard Lejeune, and from the Vendetta des Gadagne by Father Louis Vignon.

The number before the name refers to the number on the family tree

Please click here to view plate eight.


Thomas II is one of the three sons of Ulivieri Guadagni, who remain in France, after the rest of the family return to Florence. The other two brothers are Paolantonio and Piero, whose lives are written in Plate III. The latter two have no surviving descendants. All the French Guadagni, or “Gadagne” as they are now called in France, of the next four centuries, descend from Thomas II.

Historian Edouard Lejeune, in his famous book: “La Saga Lyonnaise des Gadagne”, states that Thomas II is the real master craftsman of the success of the Gadagne in Lyon, of his generation. His position of authority in the city, his immense wealth, his generosity, his charming personality and the wisdom of his decisions make him the worthy successor of his uncle Tommaso I, whom he even seems to outshine at times.


Thomas II is born in Florence on October 18, 1495. He spends his childhood and his adolescence in Florence. In those years Florence is at the height of its Renaissance period, with famous sculptors, painters and architects competing with each other and the spirit of the Humanism breathing over it. Thomas II cannot but be attracted by the Arts and Literature reigning in his native city. However, in 1513, his father chooses to move to Lyon, with his family. Thomas II then sacrifices his artistic ambitions to the family traditional endeavors and learns the trade of merchant-banker. From now on, we will call him and his descendants by their French names and surname (“Gadagne”), because this is how they are historically known, even though they always consider themselves “Florentine citizens”. You might wonder why not “Italian citizens”? Because Italy does not exist as a country until mid 19th century, with great-grandfather Guadagno, King Victor-Emmnanuel II of Piedmont, etc (check Carlo III and Emma), before then “Italy” is only a “geographical expression like “Asia”, “North America”, “Middle-East”, etc, divided in many little countries. Florence is one of these little countries.


Tommaso I has no children. So he is very pleased to see his nephew Thomas II arrive from Florence and join him in his business with his father Ulivieri. When Ulivieri goes back to Florence, Tommaso I appoints Thomas II partner of his business in Lyon. In 1525, after ten years of living and working in Lyon, Thomas II feels his position secure and confortable enough to apply for French citizenship. He can do so without losing his quality of “Florentine citizen”. He asks and obtains the “certificate of naturalization” from Queen of France Louise of Savoy, who is regent, while her son Francois 1st is prisoner of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. By obtaining French naturalization, Thomas II can avoid the “droit d’aubaine (Right of bargain)”, a law allowing the King of France to inherit automatically all the French properties and goods of a foreigner dying in France (Yver G., above mentioned book, p.59, Nat. Arch. JJ 239, f.4, n.17, Sept 22, 1525).

Until 1528, when Tommaso I retires to Avignon, it is hard to single out the business activities of uncle and nephew. However, it seems that it is Thomas II who lends King Francois 1st 50,000 pounds to finance the ransom of the King’s sons, who are held hostages by Emperor Charles V.

During the following eight years we do not find any evidence of Gadagne loans to the French government. The peace between the King of France and the Holy Roman Emperor during those years can explain it. King Francois 1st does not need any more money from the Florentine bankers to finance his military campaigns.

However, in the fall of 1536, the war between France and the Holy Roman Empire starts again. The King of France does not have enough money to pay the Swiss mercenaries he hired to defend Southen France. So the angry mercenaries are now marching towards Lyon to sack it and plunder it. Francois 1st also hired German mercenaries to fight against the Emperor and he has no money to pay them either. So the angry German mercenaries are marching towards Lyon from the North, burning and plundering the countryside on the way. The Florentine bankers of Lyon, including the Gadagne, refuse to lend the King any money, because in the past the King has been too slow to give it back to them and still owes them huge amounts. The situation in Lyon is desperate and the population is in panic, while the threatening foreign mercenaries are approaching on both sides.

On October 10, the King appoints Cardinal Francois de Tournon as new governor of the city. Tournon immediately offers the bankers interest rates of 3% from Trade Fair to Trade fair. As there are 4 trade fairs a year in Lyon, that makes an interest rate of 12% a year, which is very good. Tournon also guarantees himself personally the restitution of these loans from the King and of older unpaid loans also. Thomas II trusts the Cardinal. He immediately lends Tournon 10,000 pounds in October and 10,000 more pounds in November. He also lends the Consulate of Lyon 6.000 pounds so the Consulate can give its own contribution to the Governor. The Strozzi, another powerful Florentine family of bankers, join Thomas II in advancing money to the Cardinal. The mercenaries are thus paid quickly and return happily to their countries of origin.

However the French army of Piedmont has to be paid now. Again, the King has no money and needs 40,000 pounds to pay them. Thomas II, with his friend Bonguillaume, lends Tournon 10,000 pounds. Then, the following year, Thomas II gives the Governor 5,000 pounds in April and 30,000 pounds in June and 6,000 more pounds to the Consulate, so the Consulate can pay a new tax the King has imposed on the city.
Tournon and Thomas II are now friends. Tournon writes Anne de Montmorency, Grand Master of France, to remind the King about Thomas II’s recent great financial aid and about all the old debts the King still owes the Gadagne, from the time of Tommaso I, like the one for the marriage of Lorenzo de’ Medici with Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne, and the one for the sumptuous meeting of the King of France with King Henry VIII of England at the Field of Cloth of Gold on June 7, 1520 and others. Altogether King Francois 1st owes Thomas II over 83,000 pounds of old debts, including the ones not paid to Tommaso I. The King is ready to give back some of the money he owes Thomas II and the Gadagne Company, in exchange for new loans.

At this point, Cardinal Tournon and the French Chancery on one side, and Albisse del Bene, general manager of the Gadagne Company on the other, try to agree on the modalities of the Gadagne getting back their money without having to lend new large sums as a prerequisite. In June 1537, an agreement is made between the Gadagne and the French Chancery. The total debt of the King of France versus the Gadagne is settled for 40,000 pounds (instead of the original 83,000 pounds). It will be paid in two years, 20,000 pounds a year, by giving the Gadagne the revenus of the”tax on the salt” for the regions of Dauphine’ and of Lyon, which amounts to 20,000 pounds a year. To avoid further complications on the King’s restitution of borrowed money to the Gadagne, a new system is invented. The King of France personally owns large parts of France, including castles, farms, forests, etc. When he needs money from the Gadagne, instead of borrowing it from them, he will sell them part of his French domains. So, the Gadagne will become owners of new castles, properties, forests, farms and so on, and the King will have the needed cash, without anybody owing anything to anybody else.

This system will have lasting important consequences on the characteristics of the French Gadagne fortune. The Gadagne will change from merchant-bankers to landed gentry. This will facilitate, as we will see in the future, their entry in the French nobility. Dealing with money, and working for it, was not considered “very noble”. Living on the revenues of your land, without working for it, and spending your time serving the King in war and peace, was considered “much more aristocratic”.


Thomas II’s list of properties, which is already long, becomes much longer. In Tuscany, Italy, in the parish of San Bartolomeo, close to the monastery of Fiesole, he owns the important domain of “La Luna”, whose revenues he gives his father. In 1514 and 1516, he buys two more rural properties next to Pagnolle. Two of the better known and most beautiful Guadagni villas close to Florence are “Villa della Luna” in La Luna, and “Villa delle Falle”, close to Pagnolle. Villa della Luna is now a convent, Villa delle Falle is still, I think, owned by the Dufour Berte branch of the Guadagni Family.

In Lyon, from his uncle Tommaso I, he inherits the houses of Porte de Confort (Confort Door), Slope of Gourguillon and Tramassac Street. In Saint-Genis-Laval, he inherits a house and farming lands from his uncle and the large property of Beauregard from his brother Piero.

Two years later, in Avignon, Thomas II buys the old de Sade Palace, in Rue Doree’ (“Golden Street”). It seems that in the late Middle-Ages, Francesco Petrarca, the second most famous Italian poet (after Dante) used to slowly stroll in front of the palace, hoping to see the lady he loved, Laure de Noves, who was the wife of Hughes II de Sade, at one of its windows,. The magnificent palace, transformed by Thomas II in a sumptuous Renaissance residence, in the years 1536-1537, can still be admired in all of its splendor. Its very wide façade with its transomed large windows, its inside courtyard with the beautiful polygonal tower with a circular mounting staircase inside, remind us, even though on smaller scale, of the Gadagne Palace in Gadagne Street in old Lyon. The street where the palace is located, used to be called de Sade Street, then Gadagne Street, now it is called Golden Street. Some people think the street owes its new name to the great wealth of the Gadagne. It seems however there used to be a golden statue in the street, which gave the actual name to it.

In 1533, through the intermediary of Albisse del Bene, Tommaso is paid back a debt of 50,000 pounds in large forests of the King’s domain, and one of 25,000 pounds in the “seigneury” of Roquemaure. A “seigneury” usually included a castle, with large forests and farmlands, with peasants working them. Sometimes it included also the title of Baron or Count with it, it depends how large and important it was (Baudouin-Matuszek M.N. and Pavel Ouvarov “Le surintendant des finances Albisse del Bene, banque et pouvoir au XVI siècle” (“Finances superintendant Albisse del Bene, bank and power in the 16th century”) Bibl. Ecole de Chartes, T; 149, 1991.)

In 1537, he gets paid back with the lordship (similar to seigneury) of Saint-Heand and Saint-Galmier in the region of Forez, and the lordship of Amberieu-en-Dombes and the seigneury of Gallargues and the “barony” of Lunel in the region of Languedoc. So now Thomas II is “Baron of Lunel” and “Lord” of all the above.

In 1541, Thomas II buys a very large park in Avignon. He builds a long stone wall around it. The Gadagne park consists of all the land between what are now the streets Saint Charles, Joseph-Vernet, Annanelle, Velouterie, du Rempart, de l’Observance, and the boulevard Raspail (Roure Ch., Petite Histoire de Chateauneuf de Gadagne, 1991, pag.78). Part of this wide property was later on sold in parcels. In 1614, the Gallean de Gadagne sell the Gadagne palace in Golden Street to the Marchionness of Lesdiguieres, and build themselves a house in what was left of the Gadagne Park. In 1751, the Gallean de Gadagne build a large palace, called “Gadagne of Montfaucon Palace” in the same Gadagne Park. It includes four buildings, a large courtyard and a garden. Not far from there, Thomas II also owns another house in Cavaillon, as we read in his will. However we ignore the value of it and the date of its acquisition.

What was left of the Gadagne Park, where the Gallean de Gadagne first built a house, and then a palace, was still pretty large. It went from Violette Street, the Rempart, the old convent of St. Louis, to Saint-Charles Street. The City of Avignon bought it in 1976 to put part of the Humanities University in it. The garden of it was however eliminated by the building of Raspail Boulevard through it.

Thomas II is always mindful of increasing his properties. In the last two years of his life, on October 30, 1541, he purchases the important seigneury of Saint-Victor-la-Coste, located thirteen miles North-West of Avignon, for 5,000 pounds from Aimar de Nicolai. The seigneury includes farmlands and vineyards. It also includes a powerful Medieval XII century fortified castle, facing the region of Provence. It had been one of the last strongholds of the Counts of Toulouse. The profile of the castle still proudly dominates the village and the surrounding plains. A church of the same period is located in the center of the three surrounding walls of the fortified castle. Nowadays we can only visit its ruins, climbing a steep path to the top of the hill. I have been there with Edouard Lejeune. It was a fun climb. It was probably inhabited until the XII Century, and certain details of the ruins show us how it was partly restructured during the Renaissance.

Thomas II decides he prefers to build himself a confortable sumptuous Renaissance palace in the neighboring town, in the area of “Velle”. Thomas II’s son, Guillaume de Gadagne, inherits the palace from his father and entertains in it his friend King Henry II of France, son of King Francois 1st. Thomas II instead magnificently hosts Henry II, while still a prince, on his return from his wedding with Catherine de Medici, in his palace in Golden Street, Avignon.


During Thomas II’s life, the great recurring scourges are famines and plague. Mostly poor people suffer and die from both. Rich people always have food on the table and if there is an epidemy of plague in their city they can take refuge in one of their confortable country estates.

Thomas II is one of the greatest and most generous helpers of the poor in both calamities. That is one of the reasons he is called, both in Lyon and Avignon, Thomas “the Magnificent”.

In 1531, the harvest is very poor and thousands of hungry peasants invade Lyon. Thomas II supplies food for thousands of them for a long time.

In 1542, a terrible epidemy of plague hits Avignon. Thomas II feeds many sick people and rebuilds the hospital for plague-stricken people of Champfleury, which has been destroyed during the war. He also enlarges the Saint-Bernard Hospital in Avignon and builds a monastery for “convert women” (from a life of sin, I presume).

Also in Lyon he builds a sumptuous hospital for plague-stricken people. Plague epidemies often attack the overpopulated narrow unhealthy central areas of the big cities, causing dreadful havoc. The ideal solution is to build the hospitals, full of contagious patients, out of the city walls, that you can reach by rivers, to avoid carrying the sick people in crowded narrow streets, with the risk of spreading the pestilence.

In 1474, two citizens of Lyon, Huguette Balarin and her husband Jean Caille, buy a large piece of land, outside the Saint-Georges door of Lyon, on the right bank of the Saone River to build the needed hospital. Unfortunately, they soon run out of money. They sell their project to the Consulate of Lyon. However, after half a century, in spite of donations, only a few small buildings constitute the Saint Laurent Hospital, dramatically insufficient to shelter and cure the sick people during the great pestilences.

At this point, touched by the suffering and the insufficient care given to the plague-stricken sick, and realizing the dangers that epidemies of plague create for Lyon, Thomas II intervenes. In 1533, he hires a famous Florentine architect, Salvator Salvatori, to start building a new hospital, called “Hospital Saint-Thomas”, in honor of Thomas II Gadagne. The Guadagni crest (The golden Cross with thorns) is engraved on the front of the hospital and on a neighboring fountain. The new hospital extends the Saint-Laurent Hospital downstream. It is an elegant large two-story building with its double gallery reflecting in the nearby Saone River, to wich it is connected by a grand staircase. It immediately arouses the admiration of all the inhabitants of Lyon for the beauty of its architecture and for its huge size.

The consuls of Lyon are ecstatic of this fantastic present of Thomas II to their city. They hear that one of the initiators of this new hospital project is a Dominican friar from Lucca, close to Florence, Brother Sancte Pagnini. Brother Pagnini is a friend of Thomas II and inspires him to help the poor plague-stricken. So the consuls give the Friar a present of 80 gallons of Burgundy wine! Francois Rabelais, a famous caustic Renaissance author of the time, hears about it and chuckles. “That is the best present you can give a monk!” he writes. And then the consuls give Architect Salvatori five coins of pure gold and the surveyor of the works, Humbert Paris, 50 pounds!

In the seventh book of his “Nugae”, the poet Nicolas Bourbon cannot stop praising Thomas II for his generosity and for the advisability of the construction of the hospital. In 1573, in his “Memoires de l’Histoire de Lyon”, Paradin describes the hospital as a” beautiful and spacious building, with several lovely rooms having, in front, nice looking stone galleries; altogether it is a pleasant, magnificent, befitting dwelling for the treatment of poor sick people.” On the other hand, when Thomas II asks Nicolas Santarelli what he thought of the hospital, the mischievous friend remarks:” I find it too small: if you want to shelter into it all the people you ruined with your banking, you could only fit half of them into it!” Luckily, this remark does not discourage Thomas II. In 1541, in his will, he leaves 1,000 pounds to the “Florentine Nation of Lyon” and to the Consulate for the upkeeping of the hospital.

Thomas II’s special personal interest in Arts and Literature, which he has developed as a young man in Florence, induce him to associate with artists and writers. That is why he becomes a great friend of abovementioned Brother Sancte Pagnini, who is living at Notre-Dame-de-Confort, the Florentine church of Lyon. Brother Sancte is one of the most cultured people of his time. He has just finished translating the Bible from Hebrew to Latin. Thomas II publishes Sancte’s work “Isagogae ad sacras litteras”at his own expense. He also protects artists and poets, who are happy to dedicate him their works in return. The dedications full of praises of many of them give evidence to their admiration and appreciation, not to say their desire to obtain also his precious protection.

Claude Rousselet describes Thomas as “Mercator opulentissimus” (Latin for “very wealthy merchant”). In 1538, in his “Nugae”, Nicolas Bourbon compares Thomas II Gadagne with Croesus, the legendary immensely rich King of Lydia, from whom we still use the expression “as rich as Croesus”, “richer than Croesus”, etc. He also praises Thomas II for building the hospital for plague patients in Lyon, and begs him to finish its construction in spite of the critics of the envious. One of the most famous poets of the King’s entourage, Luigi Alamanni, dedicates him his 9th satyre.

Italian architects G. Iacono and S.E.Furone suggest that Thomas II might have taken advantage of the great talent of Architect Salvator Salvatori also to give the finishing touches to the Gadagne Chapel in Notre-Dame de Confort Church, which has a typical Italian Renaissance character.


Tommaso I had been perfectly able to integrate himself in the society of Lyon and to reach first position in it. Also Thomas II will be called to play the leading roles during the thirty years he lives in the city. His influence in the important decisions of the city can be already seen in 1534-1535, in the role he plays in the choice of Rabelais’ successor at Hotel-Dieu (General Hospital of Lyon). Even though, among the candidates for the position there is Jean Canappe, a very well known doctor, who, it seems, was the first to teach Surgery in French, and has been Regent of the Trinity College from 1528 to 1530, a certain Jean Castel, recommended by Thomas II, is chosen instead.

The esteem that everybody has for Thomas II appears even more on January 14, 1536, when he is elected Consul of the City. The consuls are twelve and half of them get reelected every year. The following year Thomas II is elected again. So he is now among those who, under the controle of the King, preside over the welfare of the city. Furthermore, Thomas II and his descendants can now become nobles, if they stop all their commercial activities. We will see the importance of this privilege, given by the King of France Charles VIII to the families of the consuls, in the next generation of the Gadagne.

During his consulate, Thomas II is only present at five meetings. This is, perhaps, because during that period, he is often in Avignon, where he is remodeling his new palace of Golden Street. However, in 1536, he makes an intervention which will be very important for the future of Lyon. King Francois 1st has just authorized the establishment of silk weaving looms in Lyon. As Thomas II is an importer, also of Italian silk, you would think he would not care much for the establishment of silk weaving in Lyon. Instead, he introduces to the Consuls two Italians, from Cherasco, Piedmont, Bartolomeo Nariz and Guillaume Turquet. The two Italians obtain the authorization to assemble the first silk weaving loom in Lyon and also the granting of an amount of money to facilitate their new activity. We do not know for sure if Thomas II also helps the two Italians with his own finances but he might have. Anyway, the decision taken by the Consulate of Lyon, following Thomas II’s introduction of the two silk-weaving Italians, is really a God-send for the industrial and commercial future of Lyon.

The French artist Pierre Bonirote (1811-1891) paints a painting about it called:”The introduction of silk weaving in Lyon in 1536”. In it you can see Thomas II, dressed in the same fashion as he is sculpted in a statue of Verot (Gadagne History Museum of Lyon), and in a portrait of his in the Guadagni villa of Masseto, Florence, introducing Nariz and Turquet to the Consuls of Lyon. This painting is now in the Art Museum of Lyon. There is also a lithograph of it, made by artist Duplomb, which is now part of a private art collection. You can see its reproduction in the book of M.Regnier:”Jardins et Maisons des Champs en Lyonnais”(“Gardens and Country-Homes in the Region of Lyon”)Saint-Juste-la-Pendue, 1999, p, 18 and 19.


During his whole lifetime, Thomas II shows a deep attachment to his family.While his uncle and his brother Piero marry girls from Lyon, Thomas II marries a girl from Avignon, Peronette, daughter of Antonius Berti, a rich Florentine merchant of Avignon. However, Peronette is already somewhat part of the family, by being god-daughter of his aunt Peronette Buatier, wife of Tommaso I. We ignore the dowry amount Peronette brings to her marriage. The contract, signed on September 25, 1531, by royal notary in Avignon Honorat de Serres, was lost and has not been recovered yet. We know however the fabulous presents Thomas II gives his wife: first, 400 pounds of golden rings and sets of jewels, then, on November 18, 1,700 gold pounds, and finally, his uncle Tommaso I gives her a gold set of jewels and an amount of cash for a total of over 2,500 pounds on December 14.

In their marriage Thomas II and Peronette have five children. Thomas II also had an illegitimate son, named Jean-Baptiste, in his youth, before meeting Peronette. All six children are mentioned in his last will.


After 1535, Thomas II starts going more and more often to Avignon. He entrusts his faithful collaborators and friends Albisse del Bene and Antonio Arquebosi with the management of his company. However, for a while, he still resides part of the time in Lyon and, in 1538, moves to Boisset Street, where he rents a house from Amedee’ de Pierrevive. This house will eventually be enlarged later on by Thomas II’s descendants and become the Gadagne Palace. Boisset Street will change its name in Gadagne Street,

In 1540 he inherits properties in Avignon from his brother Piero and moves there permanently. In 1541, in official documents, he is referred to as “citizen of Avignon”. As we have seen before, he purchases the important “seigneury of Saint-Victor-la-Coste”. Even though he is not yet fifty, his health declines fast. On October 6, 1541, at the hospital of the Celestins, notary Gilles Robert records his will. A document of February 1542 testifies Thomas II “is sick” in his house of Avignon. Count V. de Charpin-Feugerolles, direct descendant of Thomas II, and Italian historian Passerini, declare Thomas II died around 1550. However, French historian E. Lejeune thinks he died quite a few years earlier. In December of 1543, Thomas Saltin and Albisse del Bene give 300 pounds for the poor and the sick of the General Hospital to the Consulate of Lyon. They act as testament executors of Thomas II. M. Meras (“Profils de banquiers florentins de la Renaissance. Autour de deux medailles” (“Profiles of Renaissance Florentine bankers. Concerning two medals” ) Museums and Monuments of Lyon bulletins, 1992 n.2. pp 44-51, n.17) points out that an official document kept in the archives of Avignon states that Thomas II is already deceased by June 21, 1543.

In his will, Thomas II says he wants to be buried either in Saint-Agricol, where his uncle Tommaso I’s body was deposed after his death, or at Notre-Dame de Confort. It depends on where he dies, wether in Avignon or Lyon. The problem is: where did he die? According to Passerini, Thomas II dies in his palace of Saint-Victor-la-Coste (close to Avignon). If this is the case, he should have been buried in the church of Saint-Agricol, according to his request. However, while a stone pillar was erected next to the altar of the church, to honor the memory of Thomas’ brother, Paolantonio, who died a few years later, no monument or tombstone was built to remember the one who for his generosity and immense wealth was known by everybody as “Thomas the Magnificent”. We can therefore presume his children had him buried in the Gadagne Chapel in Lyon. Was his tomb the white marble monument, located in the crypt under the altar, mentioned by Father Ramette?

On October 1541, Thomas II dictates his will (“Testament of Thomas of Olivier (Thomas II) Gadagne, Avignon, Archives Dept. of Vaucluse. Minutes of notary Gilles Robert, 3 E 12/1653.) This will cancels and replaces Thomas II’s will of 1537.

First of all, he declares he “wants to live and die as a good Christian in the Holy Catholic Faith”. On top of his will he lists very important sums of money to give to churches and convents of Lyon, Avignon and Florence, in order to have very numerous Masses and prayers said for the repose of his soul. He also recommends the executors of his will and his heirs to do the same for each one of his descendants at their death.

Second, he addresses himself to “his very dear friends” Thomas Saltin and Albisse del Bene and appoints them tutors of his five children, of whom the oldest, Guillaume, is barely nine years old. He advises them to give priority to the culture of his children and to their Christian education, mostly “literary knowledge and moral qualities”. He also entrusts them the responsibility to administer the goods of his heirs in the way they will deem best without having to be answerable to them in any respect for it. To increase their zeal in such endeavors he destines part of the profits of the management to them. However, Thomas II includes certain important recommendations for his two friends.

The real estate must remain undivided and administered in the name of the company “Society of the heirs of Thomas Gadaigne” until all children are of age,

The tutors must remain cautious in the administration of the Gadagne fortune so as “not to incur in heavy losses trying to acquire large gains, as it often happens.” However they must try to increase the Gadagne fortune, mostly in real estate, so as to provide each child with at least half of his fortune in real estate, possibly even two thirds. In case one of the tutors becomes unable to accomplish his task, a list of substitutes is provided, in the following order: Francois Nasi, Laurent Pagnelli, Baptiste Carnesecchi, Laurent Capponi and Raphael Amerighi

Thomas II leaves most of his fortune to his family and tries not to disperse the real estate but to keep it united in geographical areas for each heir. He favours his sons, as it is common in his time. The oldest son, Guillaume, gets the lion’s share of the inheritance. He gets all the profits and incomes from the properties in Avignon and Comtat Venaissin (the Comtat Venaissin is a large region around Avignon.Both Comtat Venaissin and Avignon belong to the Pope, but are juridically independent from each other) and from Languedoc. He also gets the barony of Lunel, the seigneury of Gallargues, the houses and the palaces of Avignon and Cavaillon and all the other Gadagne properties of the area. He also inherits the seigneury of Saint-Victor-la-Coste, which his father buys after writing the will.

Thomas II’s second son, Jean, inherits the profits and the properties of the region of Lyon: from the estate of Beauregard, in Saint-Genis-Laval, to the houses in Lyon and the baronies of Saint-Heand and Saint-Galmier. Eventually Jean dies young and his inheritance is redistributed between Guillaume and Thomas III, the latter getting most of it.

Finally, the third son, Thomas III, inherits some houses and the seigneury of Amberieu-en-Dombes. Part of the fortune is left for possible future sons (Thomas II is only 49 when he dictates his will). Jean-Baptiste, Thomas II’s illegitimate son of his youth, dies before his father, but leaves a son. So something is left to help Jean-Baptiste’s son, in case he needs it.

Thomas II’s “dear wife” Peronette receives the right to continue enjoying the usufruct of the donations she has received during her husband’s lifetime. She is ensured the possibility to live an honest and peaceful life with all the amenities she is used to. Her children and servants are requested to continue honoring her as when Thomas II was alive.

Thomas II’s daughters, Jeanne and Helene, receive a sum of 2,000 pounds for their wedding dress.

Thomas II leaves his father, Ulivieri, who is still alive in Florence, the usufruct of his property of “La Luna”, near Fiesole.

Finally, he leaves his brother Paolantonio, who is also still alive, the sum of 150 pounds a year, and he leaves 400 pounds to the two sons of Johannes Popoleschi, who was his uncle Tommaso I’s business associate.

Thomas II does not forget his faithful servants. He leaves money for them in his will and also for the poor, the sick, and the outcasts of all kinds of Lyon, Avignon and Florence. His acts of generosity are countless: among them, large sums of money to assist the miserables of the three cities, to endow the poorest young women of Florence and of the town where he will die with a dowry, to provide the hospitals of the three cities, Saint-Thomas in Lyon, Champfleury in Avignon and Santa Maria Novella in Florence, with the means for their upkeep and to allow them to take the best care possible of their patients.


ok “The Saga Lyonnaise of the Gadagne”, historian Edouard Lejeune introduces the third generation of the French Gadagne before studying the individual lives of their components. We are going to follow his guideline. First of all, the third generation of French Gadagne are not a mixture or cousins more or less closely related, they are four siblings, Helene, Guillaume, Jeanne and Thomas III, children of Thomas II, the only French Gadagne of his generation with surviving children. An interesting fact of the first three generations of the Gadagne in France is that they are always composed of siblings, never cousins, so they are always very closely related. The first generation was three brothers, Francesco, Ulivieri and Tommaso I, who moved to Lyon because of financial problems in Florence. The second generation was three of Ulivieri’s sons, Paolantonio, Piero and Thomas II, who remained in Lyon, while the rest of the family returned to Florence, where they had regained their financial, social and political status. Paolantonio and Piero had no surviving male children so the third generation is composed of four of Thomas II’s children, two sons and two daughters. Lejeune also relates the lives of the female components of the family, even though in less detail, and we are going to follow his example.
The third generation of the French Gadagne opens a new page of the family history. After several generations of wealthy merchant-bankers, we are now seeing a list of great land-owners, belonging to the French nobility, who have important roles in the army of the King of France and in the administration of his kingdom.
Thomas II had realized the problems that Trade and Banking were starting to have in France. The French Government was taxing merchandises and merchants more and more heavily, with the risk of causing the closing of the Trade Fairs. The Treasury of the King was slower and slower in paying backs its debts, putting some important bankers out of business. Thomas II did not want his children to lose all the hard earned family fortune, so he advised the tutors to invest in large rural properties, which offered a secure and stable income, with no risks. Furthermore his Consular dignity opened to his children the doors of the nobility and of the service of the King.

On November 1545, the tutors buy the palace which Thomas II was renting from Amedee’ de Pierrevive since 1538. It was built by the Pierrevive Family at the end of the 15th century and was already one of the largest and most beautiful palaces of Lyon. The Gadagne enlarge it by connecting the four separate buildings which form the palace with a three-floor wing behind them, which had a double open gallery, and a façade closing the common courtyard in front. An elegant octagonal tower with their family crest is built on a corner of the façade, containing the main entrance door of the palace. The four young Gadagne siblings are raised in the palace, with their mother, until Jeanne and Helene get married, and Guillaume moves to the house of Confort Door, on top of the neighboring St.Barthelemy slope.


Thomas II made a very good choice by picking his friends Thomas Saltin and Albisse del Bene as tutors of his children, who were all less than ten years old when he died. Thomas Saltin was one of Lyon’s most important bankers, and Albisse del Bene, who was the Gadagne Company’s administrator, was soon appointed by King Henri II as “Superintendant of the Finances of the Kingdom of France used abroad”. He was thus made responsible also for the financing of the wars in Italy.

Both were wholeheartedly devoted to the Gadagne Family. Albisse even declared that he owed his important promotion to Superintendant of the Finances of the Kingdom of France used abroad to the prestige he acquired as representative of the Gadagne Bank.

Thomas II appointed Laurent Capponi as manager of the Gadagne Bank. Capponi’s ancestors had moved from Florence to Lyon a century and a half earlier, and he was now one of the most important merchant-bankers of Lyon. The name of his company was “Laurent and Pierre Capponi, Thomas Rinuccini and company”. It was very successful both in the trade of merchandises and art objects, and in financial activities.

So, while the childhood and the adolescence of the Gadagne siblings is going on, under the surveillance of their mother and their tutors, in the golden confort of their sumptuous palace, their business is thriving as usual. Since 1545, the “Society of the Heirs of Thomas Gadaigne” insures the privately-owned warships lent to the King of France to reinforce his fleet.(Hamon Ph. “L’argent du Roi. Les finances sous Francois 1er”{“The King’s money. Finances under Francois 1st”}Paris, 1994, pag. 142). Most of all, the “Society of the Heirs of Thomas Gadaigne” continues giving the French King loans for the financing of wars. In 1555, through the intermediary of Albisse del Bene and the Capponi, the Society lends the King 69,264 pounds at 16% interest, payable by the tax on salt.

However, in 1556, Guillaume and Thomas III, occupied both in French military and administrative endeavors decide to enter the French nobility by the right of being children of a Consul of Lyon. The condition is that they cease all commercial activities. The “Society of the Heirs of Thomas Gadaigne” is thus absorbed by the Capponi Bank (Doucet R., The Capponi Bank in Lyon in 1556, Lyon, 1939, pages 21-23). The Gadagne brothers are still able to continue lending money to the King of France however, but through the intervention of the Capponi. On the other hand, they keep a subsidiary Gadagne Bank in Venice, Italy, managed by Albisse del Bene and by the Nasi Family. One of the Nasi, Francois, becomes the “cashier” (with the Gadagne money) of King of France Henri II’s foreign politics in the region of Venice. When, later on, in 1574, the new King of France, Henri III, coming back from Poland, stops in Venice to have a good time, his mother, Queen of France Catherine de Medici, asks the Gadagne Bank to supply money for his expenses. Finally, in 1591, when King of France Henri IV, tries to reconquer his Kingdom, during a civil war, he counts on the Venitian Gadagne Bank to supply the necessary funds.


Thomas II’s second son, Jean, dies young. So, the four remaining Gadagne siblings, Helene, Guillaume, Jeanne and Thomas III are raised in the Gadagne Palace by their mother and their tutors. Peronette takes care of her children’s upbringing until their adulthood. In 1556, when Guillaume is already 22, and Thomas III, the youngest, is 17, she is still living in the palace, taking care of her kids and the household. Then, eventually she remarries with a certain “Mr. Sabran”, master inspector of the harbors, in Valence, 65 miles South of Lyon, and has a son from him. The Gadagne children will always have a very good relationship with their younger half-brother.

The tutors do their best to satisfy Thonmas II’s recommendations in the education of his children. They will be instructed by famous teachers like Mathieu Michel and Herman von Rayen de Westphal, as well as Claude Fage, cleric of the city of Embrun in Dauphine’.

Historian Lejeune thinks the young Gadagne brothers were also sent to Florence to complete their education. Painter Francesco Salviati, the one who painted the famous painting “Doubting Thomas” for the Gadagne Chapel in Lyon, painted another very famous artwork called “Young man with the doe”. This painting used to belong to the art collection of the Torrigiani Family, who used to be called Guadagni until the end of the 18th century. So this painting of Salviati belonged probably to the Guadagni collection, before they changed their name. In his book “Francesco Salviati or la Bella Maniera”, Paris 1998, pag.236, historian P. Costamagna suggests that the young man in the above mentioned painting is “Guillaume de Gadagne”, who would have been a teen-ager at the time. Salviati worked in Florence between 1543 and 1548, the period in which Guillaume, born in 1534, would have been a teenager. From this detail, both Costamagna and Lejeune think that Guillaume and his brother were sent to Florence to complete their education, probably living in Masseto or another of their Florentine Guadagni cousins’ villa or palace. Their stay in Florence, certainly contributed to make of the young Gadagne heirs “excellent Christians faithful to Catholicism, and minds open to Arts and Literature as well as perfect gentlemen ”, according to their late father’s desire.

In the following years, the young Gadagne receive important people in their palace, participate in friendly jousts with other young nobles or wealthy upper-class young people of Lyon and organise sumptuous “momeries” across the city. A “momerie” is a mythological inspired mounted masquerade. The Gadagne dazzle the citizens of Lyon by having richly decorated floats with luxuriously dressed characters parade across town at the sound of music. At the same time Albisse del Bene introduces them to the King’s Court. In 1559, both brothers are enrolled in the list of the “Gentlemen of King Francois II’s House.” (Boucher J. “Italian presence in Lyon during the Renaissance”. Editions Lyonnaises d’Art et d’Histoire, Lyon 1994, pages 103 and 104).


However, the tutors do not forget that in his will, Thomas II ordered that, in case he could not have it done during his lifetime, in the two years following his death, a painting representing his and his uncle Tommaso I’s patron saint, should be added to the Family Chapel, for a cost of up to 500 gold coins. So Saltin and del Bene contact Francesco Rossi, the favorite artist of the Medici in Florence and of the Farnese in Rome. Eventually Francesco Rossi adopted the surname of his protector Cardinal Salviati and became known as Francesco Salviati. He is a “mannerist” and one of the most famous artists of his time. He signs the contract with Albisse del Bene on Novemner 6, 1554. The following year, on December 9, he gives the tutors his masterpiece and gets paid 200 gold coins.

In this painting, called “Doubting Saint Thomas”, the apostle is kneeling in front of Christ, touching Jesus’ wounds with his finger to make sure they are real. There are two older men with a long beard standing at his right. Lejeune thinks they might be Tommaso I and Thomas II Guadagni. The painting was placed above the main altar and was considered the most beautiful ornament of the Gadagne Chapel at Notre-Dame de Confort Church. It was also considered the most beautiful painting in all the city of Lyon. Queen Ann of Austria saw it, during a visit to Lyon. She said she was ready to pay for it as many gold coins it took to cover it all. The size of the painting is over 18 square feet. Queen Ann’s offer shows the admiration it could arise in viewers. Nowadays, only the entrance arch of the Gadagne chapel is left in Lyon, but the painting, a masterpiece of Florentine Mannerism, and its preparatory sketch can both be admired at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Under the painting you can still read the indication of origin: “From the Gadagne Chapel in Lyon”.

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Thomas II orders that his children remain under their tutors’ control until they are twenty years old. For his daughters the guardianship ends with their marriage. So Thomas Saltin and Albisse del Bene exercise their tutelage for a bit more than a decade. Between 1550 and 1555, Thomas II’s sons and daughters are freed of their tutors’ guardianship, which kept them cozily assembled together with their mother in the Gadagne Palace, and each one goes his or her own way.

Some family historians are only interested in the male members of the family because they continue the family name. They often give us very scarce information on the life of the family daughters. Passerini, for example, only tells us that in 1550, Jeanne Gadagne marries Lorenzo Antinori, son of rich Florentine merchants living in Lyon, who are already related to the Guadagni. One of Jeanne’s first cousins, Lucrece Gadagne, daughter of Pierre Guadagni and Claude Grollier, marries Pierre Antinori. Passerini does not give us Jeanne’s birth date. Unless she marries very young, we can presume she is born in 1532 or 1533.

We can also presume her dowry is pretty confortable and consistent with the Gadagne’s great wealth. We get this idea from the following fact. When Queen of France Catherine de Medici tries to obtain the hand of Jeanne’s sister, Helene Gadagne, for one of her “darlings”, she asks Helene’s dowry to be as abundant as Jeanne’s…

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Helene Gadagne is both very wealthy, as a Gadagne, and beautiful, as we can see from a portrait of her. So much so that the Queen of France, Catherine de Medici, notices her and decides to give her in marriage to one of the young men of her entourage, Nicolas Alamanni. Nicolas is the son of poet Luigi Alamanni, who, exiled from Florence, finds refuge in Lyon, where he becomes Thomas II Gadagne’s friend. At the Court of the King of France, Luigi Alamanni also becomes the Queen’s friend. Queen Catherine appoints him her “master of ceremonies”.

Queen Catherine is so determined to have Helene Gadagne marry Nicolas Alamanni that, on January 29, 1551, she writes her cousin, Cosimo I de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, so that he can intervene personally with Helene’s uncle, Paolantonio Guadagni and her two tutors, Saltin and del Bene to convince her (Count H. de la Ferriere, “Catherine de Medici’s letters”, Paris, 1880, pag.37).

However, in spite of all of the Queen’s pressure, Helene falls in love with Laurent Capponi, the manager of the Gadagne Bank, even though, at 52, he is much older than her. Lejeune thinks that, now that they are in the French Nobility, the two Gadagne brothers, Guillaume I and Thomas III, probably agree with their sister’s choice, so as to keep family ties with the banking and trade world, to which they owe their fortune. By the way, the Capponi are also one of the oldest and most famous families in Florence. In the Middle Ages Florence is torn by the civil war between the “old rich”, called “the Black” and the “new rich”, called “the White”. To reward the Capponi Family for having greatly contributed to end the long and bloody civil feud, the City of Florence allows the Capponi to have a shield divided in two areas, half black and half white, as a family crest (Countess of Charpin-Feugerolles. “Historical Notice on the castle of Feugerolles”, Lyon, 1878, pages 75-76).

Laurent Capponi is born in Florence in 1502. He moves to Lyon around 1530. The Capponi Family already own a bank in the city, since the middle of the 15th century (Picot, E. “The Italians in France in the 16th century”, Bordeaux 1901, pages 106-108). In 1543, the Gadagne entrust the management of the “Society of the Heirs of Thomas Gadaigne” to Laurent and his brother Pierre Capponi and Thomas Rinuccini. The activity of this company, through the very important loans to the Kings of France, places Laurent in first place among the city bankers, without hindering his trade from Italy, mostly of artistic objects. Laurent also imports marble from Italy and some of the statues Thomas III Gadagne orders for his castle of Beauregard, are made from it.

In 1553, Laurent obtains the French citizenship, without having to cancel his Florentine citizenship. He buys the Barony of Crevecoeur. The following year, Helene brings him the Seigneury of Amberieu-en-Dombes as a dowry. On April 22, 1554, Helene and Laurent get married. The grandiose festivities following their wedding remain unsurpassed in the history of Lyon. The celebrations include a “momerie” (a mythological inspired mounted masquerade) on the “Three parts of the world” (The three parts of the world are Europe, Asia and Africa. North and South America, Australia and Antartica are either partially or totally unknown in 1554) with sumptuous chariots and costumes all along the route, jammed with onlookers on both sides. In the evening there is a grandiose reception and a banquet at the Gadagne Palace. Among the guests are Count of Roussy and Cardinal d’Armagnac.

From their marriage, Laurent and Helene have two daughters and two sons, Charles and Alexandre. One of the daughters, Lucrece, marries Philippe de Gondi, another Florentine immigrant, from an old and powerful family. Charles becomes Baron of Crevecoeur. Alexandre becomes Lord of Amberieu-en-Dombes, Feugerolles and Roche-la-Molliere. Like his Uncle Guillaume I Gadagne, Alexandre remains steadfastly faithful to the King of France, when the Region of Lyon is taken over by the League, during the Religion Wars.

In 1556, Laurent becomes more and more important in Lyon, because of the huge sums of money he lends to the King of France through the “Great Party”, an important financial organization guaranteeing the Bankers’ loans to the King. When the Cardinal of Lorraine, Charles de Guise, the third most important person in the Kingdom of France, stops in Lyon, on his return from Rome, he is Laurent’s guest. That same year, Laurent and Helene decide to break with the tradition of the merchant-bankers living close to the Exchange Rate Square and cross the old “stone bridge” and move into the “Croix Rousse (Red Cross) Hill”. There Laurent buys seventeen properties, bordering one another, covering a total of eight acres, and assembles them together in a great property called “La Mandoliere”. In the center of it he builds the house of the “Croix Verte (Green Cross)”, where Helene, him and their children go and live. La Mandoliere is located between the slopes of Saint-Sebastien and Grande Cote on one side and the actual streets of Imbert-Colomes and Rene’-Leynaud on the other. Eventually it is sold to the Oratorians who build the Church of Saint-Polycarpe in it. However, nowadays, we can still find a Capponi Street in the area, between Tables-Claudiennes Street and Imbert-Colomes Street. (Barre J.,”The Croix Rousse Hill”, pages 37-39, Editions Lyonnaises d’Art et d’Histoire, Lyon, 2001).

Unfortunately, in 1573, Lyon is devastated by famine and plague. Every day, Laurent, who is 71, heedless of the risk of contagion, distributes food bags to 3,000 or 4,000 needy, at Terreaux, in front of the Church of the Carmelites. However, he gets infected and dies. On June 13, 1573, he is buried at Notre-Dame de Confort. Faithful to Laurent’s wish, Helene continues to feed the poorest of the poor from Christmas 1573 to June 1574, helped by one of her sons-in-law, while finishing the education and upbringing of her two youngest children, who are still minor.


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Guillaume I de Gadagne (to distinguish him from his nephew Guillaume II and his grand-nephew Guillaume III) is born in Lyon on January 16, 1534. He deserves special attention. He is the eldest of the first generation of the Gadagne to leave Trade and Banking for employement in the Army and the Administration of the King of France. Because of this, he is especially involved in the serious crises which devastate the Kingdom of France in the second half of the 16th century. Finally, by his marriage and the choice of his residence, he becomes the first Gadagne to live in the Forez region of France.

The German Campaign

Guillaume I begins his military career at 18. He participates in the military campaign in Germany, in 1552, under the command of Jacques d’Albon, the famous Marshall de Saint Andre’. The German Protestant Princes rebel against Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, while the latter is busy in the Italian Wars. The Protestant Princes offer King of F rance Henri II the acquisition of part of the German territory (the three cities of Metz, Toul and Verdun) and the crown of Holy Roman Emperor if he helps them against Charles V and is victorious.

[Why is Germany called the Holy Roman Empire? In the 5th century A.D. the Roman Empire is invaded by the German barbarians and ceases to exist. The last Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus abdicates in 476 to the German King Odoacre. For 324 years Western Europe has no more political central authority and lives in a state of chaos. Everybody longs for a new Roman Empire, with law and order. So, in the year 800, the Pope crowns Barbarian German King Charlemagne as first Emperor of the new Roman Empire, which includes all Western Europe. It is called the Holy Roman Empire, because it is Catholic and not Pagan like the old one. The Religious capital of the Empire is Rome, under the Pope, but the political capital is often in Germany, from where most Emperors come. As time goes by, the distant provinces of the Holy Roman Empire, like France and the small countries in Italy become independent and the Holy Roman Empire is restricted to Germany, from where it started.

It lasts until 1806, when the last Holy Roman Emperor, Francis II, is defeated by French Emperor Napoleon and abdicates. So it lasts for over 1,000 years, keeping all of Central Europe united, during most of European history. It was organized as a confederation of semi-independent German Princes under the Emperor’s central authority.]

The French army easily occupies the three German cities. However, suddenly, the Protestant German Princes make peace with their Emperor Charles V, and the French army has to stop their invasion and try to consolidate what they conquered. Charles V launches a powerful counter-attack trying to regain the city of Metz. For 45 days the German Army besieges and attacks the French-occupied city. The French garnison resist heroically and Guillaume is noticed for his bravery. Eventually the German Army has to retreat and thus ends the first campaign against Charles V.

The Belgian Campaign

Two years later, on March 3, 1554, Guillaume, his brother Thomas III and their friends stand out among the best, in the “race of the ring”, in Juiverie Street, Lyon. The Race of the Ring is a Medieval French tradition, where a ring is attached to a pole, in a quarry, and horsemen, armed with a long lance, have to try and catch the ring with the point of their lance, while galloping full speed. After the race, they participate in a beautiful feast, called “The twelve months of the year”.

Soon after the feast, Guillaume participates in a second campaign against Charles V, under the command of Connetable de Montmorency. This time, the French Army, tries to get to Brussels, Belgium, where Emperor Charles V has his Court. In the 16th century Belgium and Holland also belong to the Holy Roman Empire. The French try and cross the Ardennes Mountains on the way, but they soon find out it is too hard. So they retreat fighting.

On June 23, 1554, Guillaume participates in the capture of the city of Mariembourg. However, it is in the battle fought under the walls of Renti, August 13, 1554, that Guillaume’s courage and determination become legendary. King Henri II of France rewards him by nominating him one of the twenty-four noblemen who are allowed to enter his room at any time. He also appoints him Seneschal of the Region of Lyon. The seneschal is a royal officer in charge of justice and control of the administration in the Senechaussee’ (administrative district) in France’s Southern provinces, including Lyon.Furthermore, during the absence of Marshall de Saint Andre’, he is nominated Lieutenant General of the province of Lyon, and of the provinces of Forez and Beaujolais. And he is barely twenty years old!

Accession to Royal Offices

So, on December 4, 1554, Guillaume I takes the oath in front of the Parliament of Paris, and the following day, in front of the Court of Auditors. On December 17, Guillaume makes his official entry in Lyon. The situation is not easy. A scant harvest and the ongoing war make the price of the bread rise conspicuously. The people in Lyon grumble. Immediately Guillaume acquires great quantities of wheat in Italy, where the situation is different, and thus prevents rioting.

The following two years, even though Guillaume dedicates himself thouroughly to his new office, he also finds time to get back to the brilliant social life and carefree entertainements of his youth, with his brother Thomas III, the Count of Roussy and his friends Cremieux, la Bessee’, Barthelemy Alexandron and Pierre Capponi. On
January 6, 1555, dressed in satin and crimson velvet, gold and silver embroidered cloth, disguised as a king, he participates in the “momerie of the Three Kings”. The people of Lyon love it. On January 19, he participates in a great dinner in honor of Jean Tignat, who is appointed Lieutenant General at the Senechaussee’. A week later he is at an important dinner at la Grenette. And on February 16, at the Juiverie Street, he is back at participating in the “Race of the Ring”.

Unfortunately, a tragic unforeseeable accident saddens the happy atmosphere of these jousts in which he excels. On January 31, 1555, Guillaume I and other horsemounted friends are having fun pelting one another with oranges. Suddenly, a group of small poor children run in the field to pick up the oranges lying on the ground. A few horses, surprised and scared by the unexpected arrival of the kids, start rearing. Some kids are hurt by the hooves of the horses, and one of them dies…!

On June 9, Guillaume attends a great dinner at the Saint-Georges Commandery. The occasion is a double-marriage celebrated on the same day. On October 13, he hosts in his palace Charles de Guise, Cardinal of Lorraine, on his way to Rome. On December 22, 1555, he yields his charge of Lieutenant General of the King to Neri de Tourveon, while keeping his charge of Sesnechal. Finally, on May 23 of the following year, the last year of this truce, he hosts Jean d’Albon, Marshall of Saint-Andre’, in his house on the slope of Saint-Barthelemy. (Gueraud, J. “Chronicles of Lyon 1536-1562”, published by J. Tricou, Lyon, 1929. Pages 77 and 78, 89, 90-93, and 98.)

The defeat of Saint-Quentin

Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, for many decades France’s worst enemy, abdicates in 1556 and dies in 1558. He was at the same time Holy Roman Emperor, through his father Emperor Maximilian, and King of Spain, through his mother “Jane the Mad” of Castille. During his reign, Spain conquers all of Central America, most of South America and the Philippines. He used to say:”Over my Empire, the sun never sets”. However he thinks it is too hard to govern so many countries. So he leaves Spain and its colonial empire, plus Belgium and Holland, to his son Philip II, and the Holy Roman Empire (Germany and Austria) to his brother Ferdinand.

His son Philip II attacks Picardie, in Northern France, in the spring of 1557. The French and the Spaniards fight at Saint-Quentin. Guillaume is present and participates in the battle. The French, led by the Connetable of Montmorency, outnumber the Spaniards, 24,500 troops against 10,000. However the Spaniards, led by the great Italian general Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy, completely rout the French. The French lose 14,000 soldiers, dead or wounded, the Spaniards only 200. Both the Connetable of Montmorency and the Marshall of Saint-Andre’ are captured by the Spaniards, as many other French knights and officers. The defeat is compared to that of Pavia, where French King Francois 1st was captured by Emperor Charles V, and Tommaso I Guadagni had to supply the needed money to pay the French King’s ransom.

The campaign of the Duke of Guise

In 1558, the French King Henri II calls back the Duke of Guise, who is fighting in Italy, and appoints him Lieutenant General of all the French armies. Under his command, the French counterattack. Guillaume I participates in all the battles of the campaign. First, the French troops storm and conquer the cities of Calais on January 9, 1558, and Guines twelve days later, the last two English strongholds in French Territory.[ The English are allied with the Spaniards because Philip II King of Spain is married with “Mary the Bloody”, Queen of England.] Then, Guillaume I leads his soldiers against Thionville in the spring. Thionville is a powerful fortress but Guillaume conquers it on June 22. Unhappily the campaign ends with another disaster for the French. 14,000 French troops are attacked by 18,000 Spaniards at Gravelines on July 13, 1558, near the sea. The British fleet bombards the back of the French army from the sea. Again, the French are routed. Only 1,500 manage to escape, while 12,500 of them are killed or captured.


After the defeats of Saint-Quentin and Gravelines, the King of France is forced to make peace with the King of Spain. King Henri II of France and King Philip II of Spain sign the treaty of peace on April 1559, at Cateau-Cambresis, in France. Even though France can keep Calais and Guines, and the three German cities of Metz, Toul and Verdun, it loses all its Italian strongholds. For 150 years Italy will now be under Spanish rule, with a few exceptions: Rome under the Popes, Florence under the Medici, Venice and a few other minuscule states remain independent. All the decades of French fighting in Italy, financed by the Gadagne and other Florentine bankers of Lyon, have proven inconclusive. However peace provokes happiness in all the Kingdom of France. In Lyon, the Florentine bankers ring the bells of Notre-Dame de Confort Church full blast and give out food, beer and wine in abundance to everybody (VignonL Annals of a village in France, Charly-Vernaison, Saint-Juste-la-Pendue, 1978, pages 305-307). The peace will last only three years before the beginning of the disastrous Religion Wars, but nobody knows it and everybody is merry.

Those three years of peace are one of the happiest and more productive periods of Guillaume I’s life. While actively performing his duties of Sesnechal of Lyon, he is able to buy the castle of Boutheon and settle in it, get married and become the protector of several writers and artists.


On April 14, 1561, Guillaume I buys the castle of Boutheon and all its surrounding domains, from Francois de Montmorin, seigneur of Saint-Priest (Acquisition of the Castle of Boutheon, Archives of the Rhone Department, volume 40, file 600 and following) for 46,000 pounds [A French pound of the Renaissance is worth $100.00 of today. So 46,000 pounds equal $4,600,000.00.] Montmorin had originally inherited it from the Connetable de Bourbon. The Bourbons will become the Royal Family of France, during Guillaume’s lifetime, as we will see later in his life. They will also become de Royal family of Spain, which they are still nowadays with King Juan Carlos of Bourbon y Bourbon, of Southern Italy and Dukes of Parma (check Carlo III of Borbone-Parma and Emma Guadagni).

However, historian Lejeune reminds us that Guillaume already owns an important domain in Provence (Southern France) inherited from his father, Thomas II. He has also recently bought the seigneury of Verdun-sur-Doubs in Burgundy, where he has a beautiful mansion; furthermore, he is Lord of Belmont and owns a confortable home in the house of Porte de Confort in Lyon. Even though his brother Thomas III now lives in the Gadagne Palace in Lyon, did he really need to buy the imposing castle of Boutheon?

Lejeune asks himself a few questions as to why Guillaume might want to buy Boutheon.

Does he want to follow his father’s advice about investing a large part of his fortune in real estate?
Does he want to own a large country property, like his brother does with the castle of Beauregard at Saint-Genis-Laval, to shelter his family in case of famine or plague in Lyon, which happen often, or to host an important public figure in a setting worthy of his/her rank?
Is Guillaume also attracted by the beautiful Forez region, where Boutheon is located, where his father already owned the seigneurys of Saint-Heand and Saint-Galmier and from where his spouse comes from?

Probably Guillaume is influenced in his decision by all of the above reasons. Furthermore, Lejeune adds how could he not be seduced by the striking beauty of the “proud profile of the castle, dominating the large valley of the Loire River from the top of the hill, in spite of the severity of its military architecture?”

It is true that the preceding owner, Mathieu de Bourbon, aka “The Great Bastard”, had transformed the fortified house of the Counts of Forez, dating from the 13th century, in a 15th century fortified castle or impregnable fortress (Broutin A., “The castle of Boutheon” in “Historical castles of Forez”, Roanne, 1894, pages 43 and 44).

Mathieu de Bourbon added a new wing to the old building. He connected the two by a closed gallery on the Eastern side and by a double opened gallery on the Western side. So now the castle had a wide central courtyard connected with the outside by a drawbridge attached to the older building. He also added four robust towers, one at each corner of the castle and an imposing dungeon dominating the Southern wing. He dug a moat all around the castle except on the Western side of the hill, where a natural steep slope made it unnecessary.

The transformations of the castle

The fortified architecture designed by Mathieu de Bourbon does not meet the new criteria of the 16th century. Guillaume follows the example of Claude d’Urfe’, who, upon his return from Italy, changes completely his castle of La Bastie. During the second half of the 16th century, Guillaume tries to change the fortified fortress of Boutheon in a welcoming homelike residence of the Renaissance. According to the above mentioned historian Broutin (“The castle of Boutheon”, page 60), some of the important changes of the castle architecture are completed by Guillaume only in the last years of his life.

The four story dungeon dominating the ancient wing, with its 90 foot high arrowhead steeple, looses its military look thanks to a new row of bells, a clock with a chime and a large blue-tiled roof decorating it. Similarly, the towers, except the biggest one at the North-West corner, have their battlements replaced by elegant pointed roofs.

The draw-bridge is eliminated. The entrance in the castle is now on the Eastern side. A great entry, with a building in the shape of a half-moon with a flat tiled roof, on each side, leads to a large barn-yard with service quarters through which you arrive to the inner courtyard [This entry has disappeared nowadays; however you can still find relics of it in place de la Cara (“Cara Square”): one of the half-moon constructions has been incorporated in the building of one of the houses surrounding the square. It allows you to see the unusual aspect of façade]. The closed gallery is replaced by a gate flanked by an elegant railing. The aspect of the court of honor has been deeply modified. Even though the fire pots and the tree branches twisted in the shape of an “M” remain on the North side of the building to witness the time of the “Great Bastard” and his military exploits, architectural ornaments of the early Florentine Renaissance embellish it and make it more welcoming.Henceforth, the triangular pediments cresting the doors, the gate, the central well, flanked by Greek caryatids, as much as the finely worked consoles, perfectly evoke the facades of the richest palaces of Florence.

A railing replaces the battlement on top of the big North-Western tower. A large sculpture recalling in miniature the dome of the Cathedral of Florence is used as the covering of the exit on the terrace from the inner staircase. In several spots the Gadagne Family crest, proudly adorned of the Royal orders insignia, recalls the identity and the merits of the new owner.[The Gadagne Crests, with the collar of the Order of Saint Michael wrapped around them can still be seen nowadays on the two towers and the façade in the courtyard of the North wing. On the other hand, they have almost disappeared from the pediment of the well, where they have been hammered out, as well as the Cross of the Holy Spirit which Guillaume had engraved on the great door of the court of honor.]

North of the castle, superb Italian ornamental gardens sprawl over a large surface. All the visitors, from Anne d’Urfe’ to the intendant d’Herbigny, sing its praises (Herbigny, intendant of, “Memoirs on the Government of Lyon”1697, page 44). These Italian gardens of Boutheon are considered, together with those of la Bastie d’Urfe’, with which they have many points in common, the most beautiful of all the Forez Region of France. An inventory of these gardens, made in 1751, allows us to reconstruct its layout in its main designs (Statement of 1751. Archives of the Bruyas Family, Bonson, Loire, communicated to Historian Lejeune by Monsieur Yves Bruyas, honorary President of the general Council of the Rhone River). Three small lakes enliven the bed of the Italian garden. On the East side it is lined with a wood of chestnut trees, on the West with a tree-shaded terrace, dominating the Loire River. It is divided in several clumps of vegetation lined with yew and boxwood trees. In the North-West corner, there is a homely bungalow you can reach through a path lined with artistically carved trees or by boldly embarking in crossing the vegetation maze of the North side.

Finally, the Italian gardens of the Castle of Boutheon are surrounded by several acres of vegetable garden, orchard, vineyards, lawns, and woods. Guillaume is now known as “Lord of Boutheon”(“Monsieur de Boutheon”). Two inventories are done, one a few years before Guillaume’s death (Broutin, mentioned work, page 11), and the second in 1641 (Inventory of Boutheon, 1641, Arch. Dep. Loire, 1 E. DEM.4264). They reveal a genuine abundance of precious furniture, rich tapestries, draperies and carpets as well as magnificent silverware, several paintings and statues, sumptuous jewels, and luxuriously ornate saddles and harnesses.

Guillaume’s domains

The seigneury of Boutheon includes 378 acres of land (of which 164 are “plowing land”), income in cash and mostly in farming products, i.e. 9,800 lbs of wheat, 40,000 lbs of rye and 36,000 lbs of oat (Gascon R. “Grand commerce et vie urbaine au XVIe siècle, Lyon et ses marchands” [“Important trade and city life in the 16th century, Lyons and its merchants”], Paris, 1971, T.2. page 829), plus feudal rights of administering justice on his land, of being the owner of the local harbor on the Loire river, and of the section of the Loire river itself which goes through his domain, including a) ownership of a mill where the local farmers are obliged by law to grind their grain, b) fishing rights on the river, c) ownership of the only ferry in the area, which the inhabitants are forced to pay if they, or their animals, need to cross the river. An interesting detail in the original contract of dues to cross the Loire river on the ferry: a person payes a certain price, a horse pays a higher price because it occupies more room, a horseman payes less than the aforementioned two together, because a person mounted on a horse occupies less space than a person and a horse next to each other.

From his father, Guillaume I inherits the seigneurys of Lunel and Gaillargues, in Languedoc, the old castle and the new residence in town of Saint-Victor-la-Coste, the nice palace of Avignon, a house in Cavaillon and another in Lyon at the Confort Door. In Burgundy, where he is Viscount of Aussone, he also owns a palace in the seigneury he bought on April 28, 1555, in Verdun-sur Doubs, where the two rivers, Doubs and Saone, meet. Even though he refuses to buy the seigneury of Oriol from Marc Pierre de la Roue, he continues to increase his properties in ther Forez region.

In 1563, he buys the seigneurys of Perigneux, du Fay (in Saint-Jean-Bonnefond), Saint-Heand, and Saint-Galmier. He is only 29. He bought the castle of Boutheon, two years before, when he was 27. He bought the above-mentioned palace in Verdun-sur-Doubs, when he was 21. Of course his father, Thomas II, died when he was only 9. But as soon as he was 18, free from his tutors’ guardianship, he immediately started quickly increasing his fortune by continuously buying new properties, several of which in his early twenties.

In 1564, he decides to buy the castle of the King of France himself, Charles IX, son of late King Henry II, who was killed by mistake in a tournament. He offers to exchange his seigneurys of Verdun-sur-Doubs and Saint Heand and other domains like the fortress of La Fouillouse for the seigneury of Saint-Victor-sur-Loire, owned by the King of France. But, unfortunately, the King refuses to trade.

In 1572, he buys the important “Noble Income” (i.e. a large domain, reaching the Loire River, and a castle) of the Merlee’, in Saint-Just-sur-Loire, from Antoine Le Mastin de la Merlee’. In 1574, he buys the domain of the Church of La Tour-en-Jarez, and in 1581, the domain and castle of Miribel, in the parish of Perigneux, from the d’Urfe’. In 1582, he buys the property of Serre.

In 1575, he sells his house of Confort Door, in Lyon, to a merchant from Milano, Pompee’ Porro. The first French Convent of Capuchin Friars will be built on that property (Vingtrinier, E. “The Lyon of our fathers”,Lyon, 1901, page 274). In the meantime, Guillaume becomes also Baron of Belmont, in Val d’Azergues. The castle of Belmont d’Azergues has a beautiful octagonal tower, Renaissance style, dominating the town.


On November 23, 1561, the same year he buys Boutheon, Guillaume I marries Jeanne de Sugny. Jeanne descends from a noble family of the area. By marrying her, Guillaume integrates even more with the Forez region. Jeanne’s sister, Francoise, marries Claude Raybe d’Urfe’, and then Claude d’Albon. According to the Consulate of Lyon, Jeanne has a very strong personality. When the city of Lyon is captured by the League, the consulate criticizes Guillaume by saying that in his household Jeanne “wears the pants”. She is however a very good wife and an excellent mother. She gives Guillaume three sons and five daughters.


The three years of peace give Guillaume also the chance to assemble around him in Boutheon a brilliant entourage of gentlemen, mostly of Italian origin, like the Capponi, the Landi, the Sinisbaldi, the Pallavicino, of whom many are military (Longeon, Cl., “A French province during the Renaissance. The intellectual life in the Forez region in the XII century”,Centre d’Etudes Foreziennes, 1975, page 365). However, he also welcomes writers and artists. To thank him or to ask for his protection, several of them dedicate him their works. Hermann von Rayen de Wesdal dedicates him his “Panegyricum”, the Parisian poet Charles Fontaine his “Ruisseaux”(“Streams”), Guillaume Gueroult his “Ode de l’Antiquite’”with translation of “Narrations fabuleuses”(“Mythical Stories”) and even Michel de Notre Dame, Nostradamus himself, dedicates him his “Pronostication nouvelle pour l’an 1558” (“New prognostication (forecast) for the year 1558”) to thank Guillaume for his cordial welcome in Lyon
[Baudrier J.,”Bibliographie lyonnaise, recherches sur les imprimeurs, libraires, relieurs et fondeurs de lettres a’ Lyon au XVIe siècle”(“List of Lyon, research on the printers, booksellers and binders, in Lyon in the 16th century”)],
[Chomarat M.,”B.M.O.”, Lyon, January 12, 1997].

In 1563, Antoine du Verdier, a 19 years old gentleman of Forez, enlists in Guillaume’s army, not so much to obtain fame in military exploits, but rather to find in him a protector for his literary ambitions. At only 29, Guillaume I is already a famous patron of the arts. Verdier writes so himself and remains very attached to him all his life. He dedicates his “Mysopoleme” and his “Antitheses de la Paix et de la Guerre”(“Antitheses of Peace and War”) to Guillaume, before becoming famous by publishing his “Bibliotheque”(“Library”), the precious catalogue of the French books of his time.[Longeon Cl., aforementioned work, page 196]

Finally, Guillaume welcomes in Boutheon the famous French musician Francois Roussel. Roussel was in France between 1550 and 1572, but he spent most of his life in Rome, where he is known as Francesco Rosselli. He is the predecessor of Palestrina in the Giulia Chapel, and then, in 1572, chapel director at San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome. He dedicates several of his works to Guillaume.


The three year peace period allows Guillaume to perform his duties of Sesnechal of Lyon and also to replace Antoine d’Albon as Governor of the City and the Region of Lyon during over three weeks, until the arrival of the new Governor, Count de Sault. [Antoine d’Albon had to resign from his post of Governor of Lyon, on September 21, by order of Queen of France, Catherine de’ Medici, because of his outspoken opposition to the Protestant Reform].

The post of Sesnechal had to be bought and was very expensive. Guillaume’s large fortune entitled him to it, more than others. However, Lejeune wonders why they would pick such an inexperienced young man of 20 years old, like Guillaume de Gadagne, who was often far away from the city because of his military duties as an officer in the King’s Army, for such important and heavy responsibilities as were the Sesnechal’s?

Author M. Paillasse in his work “La Senechaussee’ et le siege presidial de Lyon pendant les guerres de Religion” (“The jurisdiction of the Sesnechal of Lyon and the Presidial seat during the Religion wars”) Lyon, 1943”, lists the very important duties of the Sesnechal of Lyon, during Guillaume’s lifetime! The Sesnechal receives the orders directly from the King and is responsible for the diffusion and enforcements of the King’s edicts. He is in charge of appointing the junior officers, like notaries, sergeants….He also starts the proceedings to bring together the three orders (Nobility, Clergy, and Third Order i.e. everybody else) to elect their delegates for the assembly of the three orders and the drafting of their notebook of grievances. He is charged to keep an eye on the delivery of the mail and on the exchange rate. If the Governor is absent or his office is vacant, he is supposed to replace him for all the period of absence or vacancy.

Luckily, Guillaume has an excellent assistant, his lieutenant general, a competent jurist. The latter is perfectly able to replace Guillaume, in case of absence of the same, and to perform many of his duties, without
taking away anything from his reputation. That is why the King’s letters are always addressed to “Mr. Sesnechal or his Lieutenant”.

Early warning signs

In 1562, the civil war between Catholics and Protestants begins in France.The Protestant Reformation comes mostly from Germany (Lutheranism) and Switzerland (Calvinism; Calvinists in France are called Huguenots). Lyon is very close to the Swiss border and to Geneva, one of the Protestant strongholds of Europe. Many Swiss and Germans come to Lyon for the Trade Fairs. Great freedom is given to the burgeoning new printing industry of Lyon, with the consequence of Reformation ideas being printed and allowed to freely circulate in the city.

In September 1560, 500 Protestants, under the command of Edme de Maligny, who entered Lyon during the August Trade Fairs, plan to capture the city by surprise. However, Substitute Governor Antoine d’Albon hears about it and is able to stop them.

The King of France wants to avoid troubles between Catholics and Protestants in Lyon, the richest city of France. He writes Sesnechal Guillaume to be very careful and protect the Catholic Procession of the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi on June 5, 1561. In spite of the precautions taken by Guillaume, some Protestants are able to infiltrate in the procession and snatch the ciborium (chalice where the consecrated host is kept) from the hands of the priest who is carrying it with solemnity. They desecrate it.

A violent riot erupts. During the street fighting between Catholics and Protestants, Barthelemy Aneau, the famous director of the Trinity College, who the Gadagne and most Lyonnais esteem and respect, but who is suspected of having a certain liking for the Protestant Reformation, is savagely murdered.

Governor Count of Sault wants to minimize the events. A few months later, in October, he writes the King that “there is some unrest in the city”. “However, he adds, thanks to the watchfulness of Sesnechal de Gadagne, we have not had any serious trouble yet…!” Unfortunately, six months later, during the night of April 30, 1562, the Protestant troops of Baron des Adrets occupy Lyon and devastate it.

The first three wars

Under the Protestant Government the activities of the Trade fairs are interrupted in Lyon. Soon the new Protestant City Consulate lacks funds. They decide to impose a new “heavy” tax on the “rich” citizens of Lyon. The Gadagne are among the first to be hit by it. Then, the Senechaussee’s traditional role is eliminated and it becomes a seat for the administration of Justice. Nothing is left for Guillaume to do in the city of Lyon. So he leaves Lyon and enlists in the army of the King, under whose orders he will fight eight years in a row, during the first three wars of Religion. Both Protestant and Catholic forces try to capture and hold on to as many cities as they can in France, so as to enlarge and consolidate their area of influence. The Kings of France try to keep the country together, sometimes having to compromise between the two factions. The Gadagne always remain faithful to the Kings of France, whatever they choose to do.

In July 1562, Guillaume participates in the recapture of the cities of Tours and Blois, Amboise, Poitiers, Bourges and other towns. Cruel vengeances are inflicted on the Protestant defenders. In the fall he besieges Rouen. The city surrenders on October 26. In the Catholic victory of Dreux, on December 19, he is so outstandingly brave, that King of France Charles IX orders the Duke of Nemours to personally put the collar of the Order of Saint Michael’s around Guillaume’s neck. Unfortunately, during the battle, Jacques d’Albon, Marshall of Saint-Andre’, Guillaume’s commander, during his first campaign in Germany in 1552, is killed. Under the command of the Duke of Nemours, Guillaume prepares to attack and recapture his beloved Lyon. However, on March 19, 1563, the Peace Edict of Amboise concludes the First War of Religion.

However, during the war, the French Prince of Conde’, head of the Protestant faction, gives the port of Le Havre to the British, in exchange of their support. Catholic Queen Mary of England, wife of King Philip II of Spain has died, and her sister Queen Elizabeth I is Protestant. So now the British are not allied to the Catholics any more. Jacques de Nemour and Guillaume de Gadagne join Marshall de Brissac to free Le Havre from the British. They succeed on July 21, 1563.

Guillaume can now happily return to Lyon, no more under Protestant control. The field of action of the Senechaussee’ has been enlarged again by the King’s acquisition of the Ordinary Justice of the Archbishop of Lyon. Queen Mother Catherine de Medici and her son King Charles IX make a Grand Tour of the Kingdom between 1564 and 1566, to reinstate crown authority. Twice the Queen, the King and all their entourage stop and visit the Gadagne at their castle of Beauregard, inherited by Guillaume’s younger brother, Thomas III. Queen of France Catherine de’ Medici never stops repeating with pride and happiness that she is a cousin of the Guadagnis. How is she a cousin of Guillaume? Simone Tornabuoni, of an old and noble family of Florence, living in the 14th century, had two children, Francesca and Francesco. Francesca married Vieri Guadagni, great-great-grandfather of Guillaume, and Francesco’s daughter, Lucrezia, married Piero de’Medici, great-great-grandfather of Queen Catherine de’ Medici. So Guillaume and Queen Catherine de’ Medici are not “first cousins”, but if we go backward, Simone Guadagni was Piero de’Medici’s first cousin, and both families descend directly from Simone Tornabuoni and have the same blood in common.

In September 1567, worried that the Peace Edict of Amboise is interpreted more and more restrictively towards them, the Protestants attack the Catholics in the city of Nimes and the Second War of Religion starts. The King orders Guillaume to recruit and train 250 cavalrymen. With a letter patent, mentioning how well the young Gadagne has served his country, King Charles IX makes Guillaume Commander of 50 men of his personal Royal Guard. At the head of the Royal Guard, Guillaume victoriously fights in the battle of Saint Denis, on November 10, 1567, and in all the other battles of the civil war. The conflict is brief and ends in another truce, the Peace of Longjumeau (March 1568), by which the crown grants significant religious freedoms and privileges to Protestants.

In reaction to this Peace, throughout the summer of 1568, Catholic confraternities and leagues spring up across France in defiance of the law. Protestant leader Prince of Conde’ leaves Paris quickly for fear of losing his life. Many of his followers are murdered. In September the Edict of Saint-Maur allowing Protestants freedom of worship, is revoked. Conde’ assembles a formidable Protestant army, including Protestant militias from Germany and 14,000 Protestant mercenaries, mostly financed by Queen Elizabeth I of England, and besieges several Catholic held French cities in Western France. Guillaume joins the King’s army, under the command of the duke of Anjou (King Charles IX’s younger brother and future King of France Henri III) for the Third War of Religion.

On March 13, 1569, Guillaume participates in the Royal victory of Jarnac. The Protestant Prince of Conde’ is killed in the battle, and is replaced by Protestant Admiral de Coligny. On October 3rd of the same year, Guillaume fights in the battle of Montcontour, where the King’s Army again soundly defeats the Protestant forces. However the King is out of money and has a staggering debt and seeks a peaceful solution (as we mentioned above the King tries to keep France united, instead of divided in two hostile Religion-governed halfs). So on August 8, 1570, the Peace of Saint-Germain is signed, once more allowing some concessions to the French Protestants. Guillaume is only 36, but his body is suffering from many glorious wounds, received in his intense military fighting life. So he resigns from active military service (Passerini, abovementioned work, page 84).

Back to civilian life

Guillaume returns happily to Lyon and Boutheon, even though in 1570 the castle of Boutheon has been occupied for some time by Protestant forces and, later on, hit by lightning. The fourth War of Religion starts in October 1572, after close to 10,000 Protestants are massacred in Paris and in more than a dozen cities across France in surprise attacks by Catholic mobs on August 24 and several weeks after. Many Protestants flee abroad, other reconvert to Catholicism to save their life, the remainder concentrate in a small number of cities where they form a majority. One of the cities is La Rochelle. The Duke of Anjou besieges it with his troops. Guillaume however has left the service and for the next 18 years he devotes himself to his family, to the management of his large fortune and to the duties of his job as Sesnechal of Lyon.

Florentine merchant/banker Cosimo Martinelli has always had excellent relations with the Gadagne. In his will, as a mark of gratitude, he bequeaths large amounts of money to Guillaume’s children and to his brother Thomas III’s children. He also nominates Thomas III Gadagne and his brother in law Laurent Capponi as transitional managers of his bank at his death [Boucher J., “Italian presence in Lyon, during the Renaissance”,Editions lyonnaises d’Art et d’Histoire, Lyon, 1992. Page 108]. In 1577, Guillaume and Thomas Gadagne inherit from their uncle Paolantonio Guadagni. The following years, three of Guillaume’s daughters get married: Lucrece in 1579, Diane in May 1584, and Anne in August 1587.

Guillaume is a faithful friend and associate. He always makes sure that his friends’ and associates’ merits are acknowledged. If he believes that their rights are infringed, he does not hesitate to defend them relentlessly. From June 1575 to June 1577, he writes at least five letters to the Consulate of Lyon to support the candidacy of a certain Dechez for the office of Finances inspector, and then other letters to make sure that, once he gets the job, he is allowed to perform it as he sees fit.
[Municipal Archives in Lyon, AA 31, f.44, 48, 53, 56 and 58].

As we mentioned above, Guillaume leaves active military service on July 27, 1576 [Prevost M., Roman D’amat, Tribut de Morembert, H.French Biography Dictionnary”, Paris, 1980, instalm.LXXXV, pages 12 & 13]. However, he does not seem to dissolve his company of soldiers. On May 30, 1574, King of France Charles IX dies of bloody coughing and hemorrhages, at the castle of Vincennes. He is only 23. His younger brother, Henri, Duke of Anjou, who is only 22, and has recently been elected King of Poland, quickly returns to France and is crowned King Henri III of France. The new King immediately confirms Guillaume in all of his offices. He adds that at the death of Mandelot, the new Governor of Lyon, Guillaume would inherit the governance and the General Lieutenancy of the provinces of Lyon, Forez and Beaujolais. On July 3, 1577, King Henri writes Governor of Lyon Francois Mandelot to contact Guillaume de Gadagne to assemble his company of soldiers [Montfalcon, G.B.,”Letter of Henri III to Mandelot on July 3, 1577”Monumental History of the City of Lyon, 1868]. On March 11, 1588, eleven years later, the Consulate of Lyon informs its citizens of Beaujolais its desire to keep “the Lord of Boutheon’s (Guillaume’s) Company of soldiers” stationed in Belleville, with the latter’s agreement.

As Seneschal of the richest city in France (Lyon) Guillaume is a very important person in the Kingdom and is an active participant in the local and regional political life. He is in perfect harmony with the new Governor of Lyon, Francois Mandelot, appointed on February 17, 1571. Guillaume’s unwavering loyalty to the King can only bring him close to Mandelot, the confidence man of the whole French Royal family [Montfalcon, G.B.,”Letters of the Kings of France Charles IX and Henri III, and of the Queen mother Catherine de’Medici to Francois Mandelot, Governor of Lyon and its Region”].

A tragic event happens at the beginning of their friendship. During the weeks of massacre of the Protestants by the Catholics in Paris and other French cities, in October 1572, in order to protect the Protestants of Lyon, Mandelots hides many of them in the city jail. However, the anti-Protestant mobs, impatient of avenging themselves of the bad treatment received from the Protestants when the latter were in power in 1562, find out their hiding place and break in the jail. They slaughter over 700 of them and throw their corpses in the two rivers of Lyon.

By the way, this large massacre of Protestants is called the Saint Bartholomew in France, because August 24, when the massacres started is the feast of Saint Bartholomew in the Catholic Religious Feastdays Calendar. It is considered the most tragic and shameful day in French history. “When I was in 2nd grade in a French elementary school of nuns, in Tunis, Africa, which was a French colony then, our French History Book had only twenty pages, each one with a colorful illustration. Saint Bartholomew was one of the 20 pages, the first one being Julius Caesar conquering Gaule, and the last one the U.S. Army freeing Paris from the Nazi forces. I still remember the illustration with Protestants being murdered in the night in their houses and their corpses being thrown out of the windows in the streets of Paris, while young King Charles IX is full of regret and sadness in his room [Carloni de Querqui, F., Memoirs”, 1994]”.

The years following Saint Bartholomew, in Lyon, are calmer, except for several epidemies of plague. As the Sesnechal, Guillaume often goes to the Roanne Palace, which is the Tribunal of the City. Upon the King’s order, in 1587, he convenes the city assembly to prepare against the threat of a foreign invasion. In 1576 and 1588, he assembles the three Orders (Nobility, Clergy and Third Order) to appoint their representatives for the General States. The consuls and the governor of Lyon often ask for his help. In 1585, Mandelot asks Guillaume’s help to obtain the support of the nobility of Lyon. In December 1587, Guillaume is asked to help with the sanitary problem of Lyon being invaded by masses of destitute poor people and prostitutes.

In 1584, King of France Henri III’s younger brother, Francois, dies. As the King has no sons yet, according to the “salic law” (only male children can reign), the heir to the throne is now Henry of Bourbon, a Protestant prince, King of Navarre, a small independent Kingdom between Spain and France, who is a distant cousin of the King of France. The French Catholic Faction is against a Protestant prince becoming King of France. In front of King Henri III’s failure to defeat the Protestants, on May 12 1588, the “Day of the Barricades”, the solidly Catholic people of Paris raise barricades in the streets of Paris, and King Henri III flees. Guillaume reassures the King that Lyon, second largest city in the Kingdom, remains faithful to him. He also takes necessary measures and precautions to avoid Lyon following Paris’ example. He is also able to convince the King to have the Catholic Army attacking the Protestant province of Dauphine’, just South of Lyon, avoid crossing the City of Lyon and its region.

In 1574, Guillaume is sent to Paris to present his condoleances and those of the whole city of Lyon to the new King Henri III for the death of his older brother King Charles IX. In September 1588, he is sent to Paris again, to obtain the exemption from the large financial contribution requested from the city of Lyon for the war against the Protestants. As a mark of gratitude the Consulate of Lyon gives Guillaume several pots of exquisite jam and 8 large hams of Mayence. However, shortly after, in a letter from Meaux, dated November 18, 1588, Guillaume regretfully informs the Consulate that he was only able to obtain a carrying forward of the payment.

When Governor Mandelot leaves Lyon in March 1586 and May 1588 to go and fight the Protestants in Forez (the Province where the Gadagne Castle of Boutheon is located), Guillaume replaces him in the office of governor of Lyon. In 1588, he also represents the nobility of Forez at the General States of Blois.

He has the honor of being personally chosen by the King for several diplomatic missions. On October 3, 1574, on his return from Poland, to be crowned King of France, young King Henri III writes the Republic of Venice that he is sending Sesnechal Guillaume de Gadagne to thank them for the splendid welcome they gave him, while he was traveling through their country. A short while later, the King sends Guillaume to the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian, to settle the dower of the Emperor’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth, widow of Henri III’s older brother, late King Charles IX. On May 28, 1588, he is made Counselor of the King in the King’s State Council to recognise his “good and appreciated services both in war operations and negotiating talks”.

On November 23, 1588, Francois Mandelot dies. The day before, he was still able to have a long talk with the Duke of Mayenne, commander of the Catholic Army, in Lyon. Six days after Mandelot’s death, the King appoints the young Duke of Nemours, Charles Emmanuel of Savoy, as new governor of Lyon, but he also appoints “the Lord of Boutheon (Guillaume)” as Lieutenant General for the Provinces of Lyon, Forez and Beaujolais, with the office of performing the new Governor’s job when needed.

Lieutenant General

The new governor of Lyon, Charles Emmanuel of Savoy, is unable to start performing his duties for a while, so Guillaume de Gadagne replaces him as Governor of Lyon and its province, according to his nomination by the King. However, the situation of the city is very delicate and troublesome. Three other Wars of Religion have come and gone between 1576 and 1585, while Guillaume had left active service in the King’army. Now, in 1588, the “Eigth War of Religion” is going on. A third antagonist, the Catholic League, reproaches King Henri III and his Catholic Government of being too lenient towards the Protestants. This third faction is under the command of Henri de Guise, ultra-Catholic cousin of the King. To appease them the King appoints as Governor of Lyon Charles Emmanuel of Savoy, half-brother of Guise. However he appoints Guillaume as Lieutenant General, because he knows his fidelity to the Crown and wants to have a man he can trust in charge of Lyon and its important and wealthy province.

As soon as Governor Mandelot dies, encouraged by the news of rebellion in other French cities and by the presence of Mayenne’s Catholic Army inside its walls, the Catholic League of Lyon raises its head threatingly. Guillaume de Gadagne immediately summons the General Assembly of Lyon. He makes them swear fidelity to the Catholic Religion and to King Henri III. Everything seems appeased. However on Christmas Eve, 1588, unexpected, tragic information arrives: worried by the increasing power and prestige of Guise, the King invites Guise and his brother, the Cardinal of Lorraine, in his private apartment and has them murdered by his guards.

In Lyon, the powerful Duke of Mayenne, who happens to be a younger brother of Guise and the Cardinal, invites Guillaume and the other important personalities of Lyon to his palace immediately to find out their position versus the murder of the commander of the Catholic League by the King. Mayenne asks Guillaume: “What would you do if the King asked you to do something harmful against my person?” “I would not hesitate one second to do my duty”, answers Gadagne. Mayenne understands the message and immediately leaves Lyon at full speed.

News gets complicated. The King has also emprisonned the legitimate Governor of Lyon, Guise’s half-brother, Charles Emmanuel of Savoy, Duke of Nemours, and the Archbishop ol Lyon, d’Epinac, who is in favor of the League. Guillaume summons Lyon’s General Assembly once again. On December 31, only one week after the murder of Guise and his brother, the Assembly renews its oath of fidelity to the Catholic Religion and the King.

A week later, there is an insurrection in Paris. On January 12, 1589, Guillaume summons the General Assembly of Lyon again and asks them to promise to “remain faithful to the Catholic Religion, to King Henri III and his legitimate successors, not to join any political party, or follow any Prince without Guillaume’s permission, and to immediately denounce any one who is not faithful to this oath to the Governor (Guillaume)”. However, more than half of the three columns of the register where the members of the Assembly are supposed to sign their consent to the proposed oath remain empty, and most of the remaining existing signatures are illegible.
Guillaume understands that his policiy of complete fidelity to King of France Henri III is not shared by the majority of the inhabitants of Lyon. On January 24, 1589, he complains with the Consulate of Lyon of being accused of having members of his family and personal followers enter the city secretely. His only goal, he insists, is to keep Lyon obedient to the King. He adds that he is ready to resign from his post if he is the object of so much mistrust. The Consuls answer that” no citizen of the city is as zealous as Guillaume in the service of the King and the good of the city” and that the inhabitants of Lyon can only “be grateful to God and give thanks to the King for having Guillaume de Gadagne as a Governor!”

On February 1, 1589, in his palace, Guillaume assembles a council to decide about new police measures. On February 11, he summons a new General Assembly. However, on February 23, the citizens of Lyon erect barricades in the streets of the city and attack the houses of certain opponents of the Catholic League. Some are driven out of the city, others temporarily emprisonned in the castle of Pierre Scize. A general meeting in the City Hall justifies the barricades by saying that the King of France does not respect the Union Edict of July 15, 1588. On that day, the King, forced to flee Paris, controlled by the League, under pressure of Guise (5 months before the King had him murdered), was obliged to sign the Union Edict which stated: a) Unceasing war to the Protestants;b)never accept a Protestant Prince as an heir to the Kingdom of France;c)union of the King with the Catholic League and forgiveness granted to all the participants in the Paris barricades;d) mandatory for all Catholics to accept this edict, or else they are declared rebels.

According to the citizens of Lyon, the King disregards the Union Edict by keeping the Duke of Nemours and d’Epinac prisoners, and by forbidding public prayers and processions on their behalf in Lyon. Finally the whole Assembly decides that no more obedience is due to the King by Lyon, and that the city is now a free independent republic governed by the Catholic League.

Twelve excited citizens, led by a priest, go to Guillaume’s house and try to force him to sign his adherence to the League. For over fifteen minutes they hold a knife to his throat, but to no avail. Guillaume proclaims his loyalty to the King, stating he does not know of any other legitimate authority, and for it he is “ready to live and to die.” Finally they lead Guillaume out of the city, and promise they would not spare him if they ever catcht him again. Guillaume takes refuge in the nearby castle of Beauregard, owned by his brother Thomas. Now, the Catholic League of Lyon considers Guillaume de Gadagne their enemy.

On April 5, Guillaume writes a letter to the Counselors of Lyon, excusing himself for having left the city without taking his leave from them. He affirms he remains their affectionate friend, always ready to serve the good of the city.

Fighting the League

• In the meantime, the Duke of Nemours escapes from Blois and arrives in Lyon on March 22, 1589. He creates a “State Council” to govern the city. He says he allows Guillaume to live in his estates outside Lyon, as long as he does not plan anything against the League. Guillaume now lives in his castle of Boutheon, with his nephew Alexandre Capponi and other friends faithful to the King. He tries to be conciliatory. As all over France, cities are rebelling against the King, in favor of the Catholic League, why would not Lyon instead, suggests Guillaume, choose to be a safe haven for King Henri III, in exchange of special favors, like for example, becoming the Capital of France for a while?

The Duke of M ayenne, Guise’s younger brother, has become the head of the Catholic League. The League states that it is not wrong to try and kill King Henri III, because the latter was guilty of murdering Guise and his brother the Cardinal of Lorraine. So, a few months later, in July 1589, a Dominican monk, named Jacques Clement, gains an audience with the King and drives a long knife into his spleen. The King’s guards kill Clement on the spot, making it impossible to find out who, if anyone, has hired him. The King dies of the wound a few hours later. On his deathbed, he calls for his cousin, Protestant Prince Henry of Bourbon, and names him his heir, in keeping with Salic law. Before dying, he begs him to become Catholic to avoid bloodshed with the League.

Thus Prince Henry of Bourbon becomes King Henry IV of France. However, he does not convert to Catholicism. Because of it, the League does not recognize him as King of France. They consider Henry IV’s older cousin, Cardinal of Bourbon, Catholic and also related to late King Henri III, as the legitimate candidate to the French throne. Guillaume instead, following the desire of late King Henri III, recognizes Henry IV of Bourbon as legitimate King of France. However, he must act in secret, because the League has organized a powerful army in Lyon, and could strike at him easily if they knew about it. At the end of 1589, Guillaume sends his head butler, La Pierre, to King Henry IV, assuring him of his loyalty. Guillaume also promises the King he will try to reconquer Lyon from the League. King Henry IV confirms Guillaume in his charge of Lieutenant General of Lyon and its province and promises the help of his army if he attacks Lyon.

Immediately, together with his brother Thomas, his half-brother Sabran, his wife’s nephew, Lord of Saint-Marcel d’Urfe’, and other gentlemen, he prepares an elaborate plan to recapture the city of Lyon. To implement his plan, Guillaume appeals to the most loyal of his servants, and to friendly employees of the Senechaussee’, like Claude Perdrigeon, and members of the Presidium, like du Pomey, who have the advantage of residing in Lyon. The latter will have to buy the complicity of city captains, who, on the day of the attack, will have to capture specific neighborhoods of Lyon and override the garrison of the Saint-Just door of Lyon and open it to the assailants.

The Gadagne’s project also include asking neighboring friendly nobles to attack small towns close to Lyon, like Thoissey, Thizy or Charlieu, so as to disperse the defending forces of the League, on the days preceding the attack of Lyon. During the attack of the city itself, these nobles will pretend to attack many other doors of the city, to distract and confuse the defenders. Finally, a few days before the attack, a short paper, called “The anti-Spaniards”, will be distributed among the citizens of Lyon. In it, the alliance of the League with the King of Spain will be denounced and so will the responsibility of the former in the continuation of this horrible civil war.

Meanwhile, in January 1590, trying to dupe the suspicions of the League, Guillaume throws a big party in his castle of Boutheon, for all the nobles of the region, and invites also members of the Consulate of Lyon. The nobles commit themselves to remain peacefully in their castles and not to undertake anything against the well-being of the city of Lyon. They also promise to take arms against any of their members who disobey this resolution.
Guillaume sends his friend, Chalmazel de Saint Marcel, to see Marshal of Montmorency, commander of King Henry IV’s troops, to find out when they will be able to help him conquer Lyon. Montmorency answers that the Royal troops, under the command of Captain L’Hospital, will be ready whenever needed. March 6, 1590, is the date arranged for the attack (“Speech on the real treason and horrible plot of the Lord of Boutheon and his accomplices against the City of Lyon,”Municipal Library of Lyon, Coste Foundation, 354061).

Unfortunately for the Gadagne, from the beginning of the plot, Guillaume’s friend du Pomey, confides in a Presidium colleague of his. The colleague immediately warns the Consulate. The Consulate of Lyon keeps secretely abreast of the development of the project, and, on March 2nd, four days before the date of the attack, the police of Lyon arrest all the conspirators they can put their hands on.

The following days, seven of the conspirators are hung in Confort Square or shot to death on the bridge over the Rhone River. The ones who are able to escape are put to death “in image”. The Gadagne and the Lord of Saint Marcel cannot be captured and tried on the spot because they are “nobles”. So the Consulate summons them with the blowing of the trumpet to appear before them in the next three days. At the end of a quick trial, Guillaume is accused of breaking his oath, by attacking a city “which enabled his family to become rich and which he promised to protect as a Sesnechal”. He is proven guilty of “divine and human lese-majeste’”.


Guillaume is now considered the number one enemy of Lyon. To make things worse, before calling Captain L’Hospital and his troops to attack Lyon, he sends them to attack the castle of one of his worst enemies, member of the Catholic League of Lyon, Jacques Mitte de Chevrieres, Baron of Saint-Chamond. Not only is Chevrieres able to repel the attack to his castle, but, during the battle, Guillaume’s ally, Captain L’Hospital, is killed.

The League is so angry at Gadagne that they cannot find enough negative expressions to describe him. They call him: “motley politician”, “profiteer of his homeland”, “renegade”, “traitor to his own Religion” and so forth. Public Prosecutor Claude de Rubys states the Gadagne have a genetic propensity to betray. He recalls how one of Guillaume’s ancestors, Gonfalonier Bernardo Guadagni, a century and a half earlier, according to Macchiavelli, betrays the City of Florence by letting Cosimo de’Medici escape in exchange of a large sum of money. Not only does the Consulate of Lyon take all of Guillaume’s properties, they also think about dynamiting the castle of Boutheon and having it blow up and of capturing his wife and daughters to keep him at their mercy. Fortunately these last two projects are not carried out.

Guillaume is forced to leave the region of Forez, and find refuge among the troops of Lesdiguieres and d’Ornano in the region of Dauphine’ and the Rhone Valley. King Henry IV allows him take refuge in the fortress of Condrieu. Guillaume sends his son Gaspard, and his two nephews, Balthazard and Guillaume, sons of his brother Thomas III, to Florence, Italy, at the Court of Grand Duke Ferdinando de’Medici, to complete their education and to learn military fighting techniques. He also wants to put his son out of reach of the League.

Far away from his family, and deprived of his normal revenus, he will go through tough times during four years. To survive, he has to sell a ruby worth 1,000 gold crowns, then, he spends 60,000 crowns for the service of King Henry IV. At times he is commander of a company of soldiers, and participates in the skirmish warfare between Royalist troops and soldiers of the Catholic League. In 1591, he destroys the most Southern fortified position of the League, Givors.

He plays an important role in the truces between the enemy forces. The battles between Royalists and League compromise the harvests of the region, and endanger the foods supplies of the two armies. So, in July 1590, in Saint-Genis-Laval, where the Gadagne own the Castle of Beauregard, Guillaume is able to obtain a cease-fire from the envoys of the Duke of Nemours. Unhappily the truce lasts only one month. The same, in March 1592, in the Castle of La Tour, also in Saint-Genis-Laval, he negotiates another cease-fire. He puts a condition on it, however: Nemours must stop insisting on obtaining the fortress of Condrieu, given to Guillaume as a place of refuge by the King.

At the same time, Guillaume tries to win over Lyon to King Henry IV. In 1590, from the nearby city of Vienne, he smuggles in Lyon manifestos which denounce the dangers of the collusion of the League with the Spaniards, who threaten to help themselves with anything they can in France, and insists on the warranties offered by a rally between the two enemy armies, which would put an end to the civil war [City Library of Lyon, Coste Fund 3,755]. In September 1593 from Moras, where he joined the army of d’Ornano, or in November of the same year from Romans, he calls directly on the Consuls of Lyon, to convince them to rally to the King [City Library of Lyon, AA 31, 64].

While Guillaume continues tenaciously in his efforts to convince the inhabitants of Lyon to join the
King’s forces, the French situation is slowly changing for the better. As the years go by, town by town, fortress by fortress, King Henry IV is reconquering his Kingdom from the League. However, on one point, he realizes his predecessor, King Henri III was right: strongly Catholic Paris would never open its doors to a Protestant King. So he says the famous sentence:”Paris is well worth a Mass (i.e. becoming Catholic)”, and on July 25, 1593 he converts to Catholicism. A few days later, he is able to sign a general truce with the Catholic League.

In the meantime, Lyon is still in the hands of the Duke of Nemours. However, his popularity with the inhabitants of Lyon is decreasing fast. He levies huge taxes on the population of the city while he favors his friends outrageously. He is very authoritarian with everybody and his ambition knows no limits. First he tries to be crowned King of France. After Mayenne, head of the Catholic League, makes him understand the nonsense of such a dream, he decides to create a little private independent state in the area of Lyon for himself. As the ruler of Lyon, he adds the Regions of Dauphine’, Auvergne, Beaujolais, Forez and, obviously Lyonnais to his private possessions of Genevois, Faucigny and Beaufort. He surrounds his “state” with a ring of fortified towns like Thizy, Belleville, Thoissey, Chatillon, Vienne, Montbrison and Charlie, which he fills with troops!

However, as he threatens to bring his personal army inside Lyon, the Consulate, with the approval of Mayenne, arrests him and puts him in the Pierre-Scize Prison. But he quickly escapes from it and joins his troops outside the city. He starts devastating all the area around Lyon and gets ready to attack the city itself. At this point, the Consulate asks for the help of Royalist commander d’Ornano, who is in the neighborhood, with his troops, including Guillaume. Thus, on February 8, 1594, five years after having been taken by the League, and three weeks before the official coronation of Henry IV as King of all of France, Lyon is the first major city of France to officially recognize the King. At 2 P.M. with the white scarf of loyalty to the Bourbon King attached to his arm, Guillaume rides triumphally in Lyon, next to Colonel d’Ornano, and his old enemy Chevrieres, whose castle he had unsuccessfully attacked and who has rallied to King Henry IV a few months earlier, and Antoine de la Baume d’Hostun, his future son-in-law. After long years of struggling, his courageous faithfulness to the Kings of France has proven successful.


Guillaume is immediately given back his offices of lieutenant general and Seneschal. He is also paid back five and a half years of Seneschal fees, which total 1,732.5 pounds, corresponding to 315 pounds a year. This shows that even if the office of Seneschal is desired by many, it does not pay very well. His first year of lieutenant general and Seneschal keeps him very busy. Life in Lyon is still very troubled. Even though the King has converted to Catholicism, he remains excommunicated by the Pope. Capuchins, Jesuites and Oratorians threaten to refuse to give Comunion to the partisans of the King at the fast approaching Easter Mass.

In the province of Lyon, the situation is not any better. With his soldiers, Saint-Sorlin, Nemours’ younger brother, continues to devastate the farmland around Lyon, blocking its food supplies. That is why, after having sworn fidelity to the King, together with the Consuls and the notables of the City, and participated a few days later to the Thanksgiving Procession for Lyon’s rallying to Henry IV, Guillaume joins d’Ornano’s troops. Together they fight against Saint-Sorlin and Nemours until March 20, 1594, when they are able to obtain a cease-fire.

After having fought successfully for the King, during many years, Colonel d’Ornano hopes to be offered the charge of Governor of Lyon and its region. When he does not get it, he is very disappointed and decides to leave Lyon and go with his troops to the Region of Dauphine’. However, the anti-Royalist forces are still powerful around Lyon, and Guillaume knows that the city desperately needs the Colonel’s troops for its safety. So he uses all his convincing powers to postpone d’Ornano’s departure. Luckily, the King agrees to grant d’Ornano the title of “General in chief of all the troops of Lyon and its Region, while waiting for the appointmqent of a Governor.” The King will also appoint Chancelor Pomponne Bellievre to help d’Ornano in what relates to Finances, Justice, and negotiations with the League. Another problem Guillaume has to solve is the elimination of the cumbersome garrison of Swiss Mercenaries. He and d’Ornano throw a party for its officers, on April 12, during which they are able to settle the amount of the dues owed the mercenaries by the city, and send them away happy.

More good news: the town of Macon rallies to the King; in October, the supreme commander of the French armies, Henry de Montmorency, Count of Damville, arrives in Lyon, sent by the King to complete the pacification of Lyon and surrounding region; he will be, for a while, guest of the Gadagne in their castle of Beauregard, in Saint-Genis-Laval. Finally, on December 23, 1594, in his vibrant “speech to the Consuls and the People of Lyon”, poet Pierre Mathieu publicly recognizes the role played by Guillaume de Gadagne in the rallying of Lyon to the King and in the reestablishment of order, and praises at length his qualities of rectitude, loyalty, courage and generosity.

Four days later, on December 27, 1594, Jean Chatel, a young man of 19 years old, manages to gain entry to the King’s chamber. When the King stoops to help two officials, who have knelt before him, rise, Chatel attacks him with a knife, trying to stab Henry IV in the heart. However, the King has bent himself so low to help the officials rise, that the knife hits him on the lip. The blow is so strong that it breaks one of his teeth. Chatel is arrested at once and condemned for the crime of lease-majesty. As the law prescribes, first Chatel’s hand, with which he has struck the King, is burned with molten sulfur, lead and wax. He is then executed by dismemberment.

Under questioning, Chatel reveals he has been educated by the Jesuits. In the atmosphere of the day, with the wars of Religion still in progress, the Jesuits are accused of inspiring Chatel’s attack. Two of Chatel’s Jesuit teachers are exiled, the third, Father Guignard, is hanged and burned at the stake for his presumed part in the affair. The Jesuit Order is banned from France. Guillaume has the sad duty of expelling the Jesuits from Lyon, where they have done so much good in educating the youth of the city. However, thanks to Chancellor Bellievre’s help, he is able to pay them the pension which the Consulate still owes them, and have them leave for nearby Avignon (which still belongs to the Pope) adding an extra amount of money to their pension for the expenses of the trip. [Eventually, the ban against the Jesuits is quickly lifted].

The year 1595 will bring several satisfactions to Guillaume. On April 26, he obtains the surrender of the city of Vienne to the King. Thanks to his vigilance, in July, he is able to discover another plot to kill the King. This time it is planned by the Capuchin friars. [HOURS H.,”The adventures of a Royalist Capuchin after the
League: Etienne le Maigre de Boussicaud”, Literary Society of Lyon Bulletin, 1945-1951, T. XVII-XVIII, pages 55-78] He happens to hear about a letter written by the Provincial Father of Burgundy to the responsible of the Order of Lyon. The letter orders the Responsible of Lyon not to have anybody talk to a certain Father Cherubin, residing in the convent. The convent is located next to Confort Door, in a property that used to belong to Guillaume a few years earlier. Guillaume is able to talk to Father Cherubin and obtain the confession of a detailed plan to kill the King. King Henry IV is warned. Not only does the King forgive Father Cherubin, because of his avowal of the plot, but, a few years later, in 1604, the King appoints him Bishop of the city of Grasse, where Bishop Cherubin will live happily the rest of his life.

On September 4, Guillaume is happy to assist at the entrance of the King in Lyon. Eleven days later, Guillaume is invited to the appointment of the new Governor of Lyon, Cesar de Vendome, the two year old son of Henry IV and his mistress Gabrielle d’Estrees. Guillaume de Gadagne is confirmed in his functions of Lieutenant General, under Philibert de la Guiche, who is presently busy helping little Cesar de Vendome governing Lyon.

In October he goes to Paris, to take care of Lyon’s business there. From August 16 to November 10, in Paris, they have the manifestation of “The great days of Lyon”. While Guillaume is there, he has the satisfaction to hear the Court of Exceptions déclare null and void all the accusations formulated against his friends during the aborted attempt to free Lyon from the League. Then, back in Lyon, on November 15, at the opening of the Court, he files the King’s Letters Patent.These letters establish the reduction of the Municipal Magistrates to four, according to the Chauny Edit.

Finally, on January 5, 1597, in the Abbey of Saint-Ouen in the city of Rouen, King Henry IV gives Guillaume de Gadagne, the highest knightly order of the Kingdom of France, the Cross of the Holy Spirit, as an award for all his precious services to the Country and to the King. The Order includes only 100 knights in all of France. Nowadays it is only conferred to the members of the Royal Families of France and Spain. To become a knight of the Order of the Holy Spirit you have to be: a) Catholic
b) At least 35 years old
c) Noble for at least 3 generations.
The King asks the Senate of Florence for proof of the nobility of the Guadagni Family. He receives this proof on October of the same year. This precious document, with many other papers on the Guadagni Family, is presently kept in Count Hyppolite de Charpin de Feugerolles’s archives. Count Hyppolite is a direct descendant of Guillaume’s daughter, Anne, and her husband Bertran d’Albon, Lord of Saint Fourgeux, Knight of Saint Michel and Ordinary Gentleman of the King’s Chamber. Historian Passerini states he owes much information on the French branch of the Guadagni to Count Hyppolite’s kindness.

On April 13, 1598, the King signs the Edict of Nantes, which allows Protestants freedom of worship and puts an end to the French Wars of Religion. A month later, the King asks Guillaume to witness the signature of the Peace Treaty of Vervins, between the Kings of France and of Spain, and the Duke of Savoy. Two months later, he sends Guillaume to the Duke of Savoy, in Chambery, for the ratification of the treaty. The Duke of Savoy gives a beautiful present to each member of Guillaume’s private escort of 73 nobles. To Guillaume he gives two beautiful horses. Honore’d’Urfe’ brings the horses to Guillaume. In exchange, Guillaume gives Honore’ a diamond buckle to wear on his hat. Afterwards, Guillaume gives one of his horses as a present to King Henry IV.


Guillaume is not insensitive to the marks of gratitude and to the honors King Henry IV bestows on him. He has the Cross of the Holy Spirit sculpted in stone above the main door of the Castle of Boutheon. An artist paints a portrait of Guillaume for the occasion of his being awarded the Cross of the Knightly Order of the Holy Spirit.
However, in it, we see that he looks old, sad, and disillusioned.
Guillaume is now 64 and has had a very adventurous and troublesome life, at the service of three Kings of France. Now he sees King Henry IV give expensive presents and privileges to his enemies of a short while ago, Mayenne, Chevrieres, d’Urfe’ and several others. When the King’s chief minister, Duke of Sully, reproaches his Majesty for ruining the French Treasury with his expensive gifts to his former foes, the Kings answers jokingly:
“The continuation of the war would be much more expensive…!”

Two persons Guillaume loves dearly have recently died, both in 1594. One is Thomas III, the “Lord of Beauregard” his younger brother. Thomas was Guillaume’s faithful companion, both in good and in hard times.
The other, on December 12, is Gaspard, the “Count of Verdun”, his last male child. Guillaume had three sons from his wife, but two of them, Claude and Nicolas died in childhood. The last one was Gaspard, whom he had sent to Florence, Italy, to keep him safe from the League. On his return to France, Gaspard has become a brilliant officer in the King’s army. The King gives him the command of the important fortified city of Verdun-sur-Doubs and gives him the title of Count of Verdun. When the war of Religion is practically over in all of France, in a last attack again the forces of the League, Gaspard is ambushed by overwhelming enemies and dies as a hero. (COURTEPEE M.,”General and detailed description of the Duchy of Burgundy”2nd edition, Dijon, 1848, page 286).

The loss of Gaspard leaves Guillaume unbelievably sad. Nothing seems able to comfort him any more. An annoying financial trial adds to his grief. Before Gaspard, the governor of Verdun was Heliodore de Thyard. To defend Verdun better, Heliodore had bought at his own expense 6,500 crowns of cannons and ammunitions for them. When he dies gloriously in battle, his uncle, Pontus de Thyard, famous French poet of the Renaissance and tutor of his children, decides to sell the cannons so the children can inherit their father’s money. However, Guillaume de Saulx-Tavannes, a friend of the King, tells Pontus to keep the cannons on the city walls and he would guarantee payment for them. Shortly after, Gaspard becomes Governor of Verdun, and countersigns for it. Nevertheless, Gaspard is killed in combat before he is able to pay for the cannons. So the Thyard family brings a suit against the Gadagne, in this case, Guillaume, to have the cannon money back. On March 3, 1599, a ruling of the court sentences Guillaume to give the Thyard Family the money for the cost of the cannons and ammunitions and to pay for all the expenses of the trial. With regret, Guillaume has to sell also the horses which Gaspard loved so much.


Guillaume has no more male descendants. At first, he decides to leave everything to the oldest son of his oldest daughter, Lucrece. The heir shall add the Gadagne surname and coat of arms to his. However, Lucrece’s husband, Charles d’Apchon, sues Guillaume on his wife’s dowry. So Guillaume changes his mind. On April 25, 1600, in Paris, in front of Chatelet notaries Dupeyrac and Trousson, he appoints Balthazard de la Baume d’Hostun, eldest son of his daughter Diane, as his heir, under the same conditions.

• Like his predecessors, in his will, Guillaume is very generous towards the poor and the Catholic Church. In Lyon, he leaves 100 golden coins to the Florentine Church, Notre-Dame de Confort, with the condition for the Church to sing the “Rest in peace” for him and his wife every Friday. He leaves the same amount for the poor of the General Alms [Archives of the Rhone Department, Senechaussee, Insinuations, T. 118, 281].

• In Montbrison, he bequeaths a capital of 133 crowns to the Convent of Sainte-Claire, asking that a marble plate remembering the gift be put in the Sugny Chapel [The convent, however, chapel included, is destroyed during the French Revolution].

• In Boutheon, he orders a chapel to be built on the right side of the church, where his name and his noblilty titles will be engraved, together with his father’s and Gaspard’s [As we will see, later on, eventually Balthazard will not build the chapel for his grandfather in Boutheon, but in Notre Dame de Graces]. He also bequeaths 16 golden coins each to 20 young girls chosen by his wife among the most deserving in his seigneuries of Boutheon, Meys and Miribel, as a marriage dowry.

Finally, even though he wants the entirety of his properties and his goods to remain under the name of Gadagne, i.e.Balthazard, he does not forget the rest of the family. He leaves his half-brother, Guillaume Sabran, 500 crowns and a necklace of gems worth 200 crowns for his wife, and 100 crowns for him. His daughter Lucrece will get 8,000 crowns added to the 13,000 crowns he lent her earlier to buy back her castle fallen in the hands of the League. He leaves 8,000 crowns to his daughter Hilaire, married to Charles de Monteynard, and 20,000 crowns to Gabrielle, his youngest daughter who is not yet married. Finally, his wife Jeanne will get the usufruct of several jewels, furniture and precious items, who are bequeathed to his grandson.


On September 25, 1600, Antoine de Verdier dies. He was Guillaume’s faithful companion during the Wars of Religion and had become a famous author. He dedicated many of his works to Guillaume.

On November 16, 1600, King Henry IV asks Guillaume a big favor. After the end of the war with the Duke of Savoy, Lyon is secure from attacks by close enemy armies and the King decides to celebrate his marriage with Marie de’Medici in Lyon. He asks Guillaume to organize the preparations for the arrival of the future Queen in Lyon. By the way Marie de’ Medici is a distant cousin of former Queen of France Catherine de’Medici, and she is also related to the Guadagni through their common ancestor Simone Tornabuoni.

However, Guillaume’s health is declining fast. The King hears about it and tells the Consuls of Lyon not to overburden Gadagne too much with the preparations. “He will do everything he will be able to,” specifies the King. The King and his bride arrive respectively in Lyon the 3rd and the 9th of December and the wedding is celebrated in the Cathedral of Saint Jean on December 19, 1600.

On January 19, 1601, at 9 in the morning, Guillaume’s beloved wife, Jeanne de Sugny, dies. She has been sick for a while. Guillaume is so weak, that his household prefers not to tell him about it, and Jeanne’s body is quickly taken to the family chapel in Notre Dame de Confort. It is laid there waiting to organize the funeral ceremony. Guillaume does not survive her long. The King leaves Lyon on January 21, the Queen on January 24, Guillaume dies on January 26, at the end of an exemplary life, spent in the service of his King and his Country.
[VIALE, E.”Peoples and matters of Lyon. Notes on Guillaume de Gadagne”, page 63. Brun edition, Lyon 1909, City Archives of Lyon).

When he dies, Guillaume does not own his Confort Street house any more. He sold it in 1575. The Gadagne Family sold their palace in 1580. So, on his return to Lyon, in 1594, the City of Lyon provides for his accommodation, as Lieutenant of the King. Two letters seem to prove it. In one of them, dated March 10, 1594 [City Archives of Lyon, AA, 31, # 52] Guillaume gives thanks to the Consulate, for the house they provide for him. In the other, dated February 28, 1597, Governor La Guiche asks the Municipal Magistrates to lodge the
“ Lord of Boutheon” (Guillaume) well, because the latter is annoyed to have to leave the lodging where he has been living until then [City Archives of Lyon, AA, 32, #177].

On February 5, 1601, the city of Lyon organise solemn funerals for Guillaume de Gadagne and his spouse, expressing by them their admiration and their gratitude. A long cortege accompanies Guillaume’s body from the house where he died to the Church of Notre-Dame de Confort, where Jeanne’s body waits for him. All the representatives of the King are there, plus the local authorities and clergy, family and friends, except the women, who, in those days, did not accompany funeral processions. The Franciscan Friars and the Dominicans come first, then, in order, the torch-bearers of the friends, the clergy of the Cathedral of Saint Jean and of the three collegiate churches, finally the torch-bearers of the relatives, of the new Seneschal and of the Governor. Behind them come the bearers of the ensign of Guillaume’s military company, of his sword, of his combat armor and of the two orders of the King (Order of Saint Michael and Order of the Holy Spirit). Then, comes Guillaume’s body, surrounded by two representatives of the Judicial System, two nobles holding the cords of the Pall, and twelve priests who are taking turns in carrying the coffin. Two more priests in mourning clothes follow, and then come the heir himself, Balthazard de Gadagne d’Hostun, preceded by the representative of the King, State Secretary, His Lordship de Villeroy. Finally, walking on two parallel columns, the family, the Consulate and the Justice close the procession.

The Church of Notre-Dame de Confort is decorated with the Gadagne and the Sugny family crests. The walls are covered to the height of a spear with black velvet for Guillaume and white satin for Jeanne. Innumerable yellow candles for the husband and white candles for the wife light the interior of the church. Monsignor Jean Fabre, pastor of the Church of Vienne, celebrates the Mass. Then the deceased are buried in the Gadagne family chapel, next to the tomb of their son Gaspard, and the cortege returns, in the same order, to the domicile where they started from, to receive the thank you from the Gadagne Family.

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Thomas III, younger brother of Guillaume I, is born around 1539. He follows in the footsteps of his older brother, in the military and administrative fields.


He is too young to participate in the wars against Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and King Philip II. His military career is in the Religion Wars. As his brother, he is always faithful to the Kings of France.

From April 1563, to May 1565, he is Logistic Marshal in Meru’s Company. From June 8, 1567, to May 11, 1569, he is military flag bearer in the company of Duke Jacques de Nemours. From July 1569 to May 22 1570, he is lieutenant in the Company of Jean de Marconnay, Lord of Montarey. During this period, like his brother, he is made Knight of the Order of Saint Michael [PREVOST M., ROMAN d’AMAT, TRIBUT de MOREMBERT H.,”Dictionnary of French Biographies”, Paris 1980, Fasc. LXXXV, page 15]. The Order of Saint Michael, which, as we remember, Guillaume received from King Charles IX on December 19, 1562, was created by King Louis XI in 1469, and was the most prestigious knightly order in France for over a century and a half. However, it was supposed to include only 36 knights in all of France. When it increased in number during the Religion Wars, it lost some of its prestige. So, on Dec. 31, 1578, in the midst of the Religion Wars, King Henri III created the new Order of the Cross of the Holy Spirit, which was and still is, the most prestigious knightly order in France, and which Guillaume was made a member of.

We have some documents which allow us to follow Thomas III’s career until 1570. The National Library of France has the receipts of Thomas III’s pay of December 10, 1568, April 28, 1569, and of May 8 and 20, 1569, during which he is first in the Company of the Duke of Nemours and then of the Lord of Montarey [National Library, Ms. Fr., 27,746, P.O. t. 1262, Gadagne Dossier, numbers 7, 10, 11, 12 and 27. 905, P.O. t. 1421, dossier 32,150]. However we have no other documents informing us of the following years of his military life, except that he was in command of a company of 50 knights on February 17, 1589.

It is however certain that in the following five years, his loyalty to King Henry IV makes him the enemy of the Catholic League. Guillaume is the main responsible for the organization of the reconquest of Lyon from the League. However, Thomas III is very active in it also, and brings many of his friends in the preparation of it. One of them is his notary Dailly, another is his head butler Claude Guigo. Guigo remains faithful to the Gadagne Fanily even in the difficult period following the aborted attack on Lyon. The Gadagne brothers are grateful to him for it and reward him later on.

After the aborted attack, we know that Guillaume takes refuge with the troops of d’Ornano and Lesdiguieres. We do not know what happens to Thomas III, except that he sends his sons, Balthazard and Guillaume II to Florence, Italy, with their cousin Gaspard, to be out of reach of the League’s retaliation. I am sure the two brothers and their first cousin bonded very much during their stay in Florence. They probably spoke Italian perfectly, like all the cultured Europeans of the time, as Italian was the international language spoken in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. However, they must have felt “different” from the other Florentines, because, after all, they were born and raised in France. They were the “French cousins” of the Guadagni Family of Florence, and that probably made them “stick together”. Unhappily we do not have the date of birth of all three but we know that Guillaume I married in 1561, while Thomas III married in 1579, 18 years later. So we can easily presume that Gaspard was at least a few years older than Balthazard and Guillaume II. And probably, at least it happened in my own personal life with my older male cousins, admiration, love and veneration were felt by the two brothers for Gaspard. Gaspard, on the other hand, had lost his two brothers when they were very young, so he must have cherished his two young cousins like the younger brothers he did not have.

Why am I going into such details on this topic? We know that the generation of the three young cousins we are talking about wrote a critical page in the French Gadagne History. As we read in the “Vengeance of the Gadagne” by Father Vignon, in 1611, Balthazard and Guillaume II de Gadagne, together with their brother Claude and their cousins, in-laws and other relatives, servants and hired killers, attacked and murdered their neighbor Count of Charlus, his 15 year old son, Francois, and a little page of 10 years old. After the Count is dead or dying on the ground, it seems that some members of the Gadagne Family thrust their sword to the hilt in his bleeding body. Why such savagery and ferocity against their neighbor? The Count had said some ironic remarks on how the Gadagne were of Italian origin and very recent nobility, as they had stopped being bankers only two generations before. He had also taken Balthazard to court for civil lawsuits, related to “feudal rights” the Count professed to still have on the Gadagne properties. Did he deserve to be massacred for it, together with his teen-age son and a young innocent page? By the way the young page was not killed on purpose, he just happened to be in the wrong spot on the wrong moment.

I think there is a detail which can explain such rage from our French ancestors. The masterminds of Charlus’ killing are Balthazard and Guillaume II, the two brothers who were sent to Florence to escape the League, with their cousin Gaspard. Now, in 1594, their beloved older cousin, Gaspard, is killed in an ambush by the League, when the Religion War is almost over. The enemies are overwhelmingly numerous and Gaspard defends himself like a lion but, when his horse is killed under him, he is overtaken and dies as a hero. A few feet from him, young 19 year old Guillaume II, who is fighting in the same company, is unable to save him and sees him die in a puddle of blood. Later on, Guillaume II becomes a Knight of the Order of Malta. He does not marry but has an illegitimate son. He names him Gaspard in the honor of his beloved cousin, murdered before his eyes. Now, their neighbor, the Count of Charlus, used to belong to the League during the Religion Wars and proudly reminded people of it. Was he part of the group that killed Gaspard? We do not know. However, the fact that their beloved cousin was killed by the League, and that their haughty troublesome neighbor was part of the League and was even accused of making dishonest money from it, can better explain a murder that a few disdainful words seem unable to justify, even though, among nobles, the “Family Honor” was very important, and many people killed or died for it.


Let us now go back to Balthazard and Guillaume II’s father, Thomas III de Gadagne. In 1556, when he is only 27, he is already Chamber Gentleman of the “Dauphin” (French term to indicate the heir to the Kingdom of France), the future King Francois II. Francois II is the older brother of Kings of France Charles IX and Henri III, whom we have already met in the Religion Wars. They are all sons of King Henry II and his wife Catherine de’Medici, cousin of the Guadagni, through their common ancestor Simone Tornabuoni.

In 1556, Thomas III de Gadagne is also appointed Bailiff of Beaujolais. On May 23, 1570, he succeeds Jean de Marconnay, as Lieutenant General of the Bourbonnais. In 1576, he has the honor of being chosen as the representative of the local Nobility, to represent them at the General Estates of Blois [PALLASSE M., abovementioned work, page 306, n.3 Historical Archives and Stat. of the Rhone Department, T.8, 1828].


The two years Thomas III served under the command of Jean de Marconnay were important for his political career. They are even more important for his family life. In 1579, he marries Marconnay’s daughter, Helene. She will be an excellent wife and will give him five daughters (Jeanne, Alphonsine, Louise, Jacqueline and Charlotte) and four sons (Balthazard, Claude, Godefroy and Guillaume II).


Even though Thomas III is very busy serving the King and taking care of his large family, he remains faithful to his father’s teachings on investing in real estate. Throughout all his life he continues buying more and more properties and seigneuries in the region of Lyon and in the Bourbonnais, region where his wife is from.

Beauregard and the domains in the Lyonnais

In 1581, Thomas III sells his palace of Lyon to the Florentine merchant Guillaume Ricci. He is going to progressively increase his domain in Saint-Genis-Laval, a small town a few miles from Lyon, where he has inherited the castle of Beauregard from his uncle. Beauregard becomes his main residence. He transforms the fortified castle, acquired by his uncle in 1526, in a luxurious Renaissance country mansion, following the example of what Guillaume did with Boutheon [MATHIAN N.”Beauregard: the metamorphosis of a fortified castle in a Renaissance villa.” Above-mentioned work, Lyon, 1995.]

Nowadays, only the central part of the villa is left. In their book “Sites and Monuments”, 2000, #168, DEMARQ G and PELLET Y ask themselves if “the monumental complex of Beauregard contains the ruins of an Italian Renaissance villa?” The walls made of baked clay were the most beautiful example of Florentine villa of all the region of Lyon. Unfortunately, little less than a century ago, the roof caved in. The incoming rain and snow slowly destroyed the Renaissance walls.

The Gadagne villa kept the shape of a “U” of the original fortified castle. The North and East wings were the living quarters. The West wing was for the kitchen and the servants. In the inner courtyard a winding staircase lead into a little tower and a gallery communicating with the upper floor. It is probably Thomas III who ornates the façade of the villa with the elegant portal and the beautiful 15th century Florentine Renaissance palace decorated windows. These Florentine Renaissance style architectural changes remind us of the ones made by Guillaume I in the castle of Boutheon.

Thomas also creates the beautiful “Italian gardens” surrounding the villa of Beauregard. We can still admire them nowadays in all of their splendor. Historian N. MATHIAN, ibid., page 9, Lyon and Rhone Arch. Department, 3 E 8722A, Gotail, 1571, reports the purchase of 250 iron pickets by Thomas III in February 1571. He suggests their use could have been to support the large different levels land terraces composing the Italian gardens. With their orangery, ornamental lakes, statues (only a sculpted stone group of three naked fat women is visible nowadays and is kept in a “nymph room” in the gardens), clumps of flowers, artistically carved shrubs, delineating vegetable planted parcels, they were made to be a harmonious link with the surrounding nature. Like in Boutheon, all around the gardens there were orchards, vineyards, cultivated farmland, rabbit warrens and woods. In case of food shortage in the area, the property of Beauregard provided its owners with a perfectly self-sufficient food supply.

Until Thomas III, the clergy of Lyon kept the right of Justice on the domain of Beauregard. By a judicial act of August 12, 1561 Thomas obtains the emancipation of the domains of Beauregard from it from the Counts Canons of the Church of Lyon, in exchange of his incomes from the properties of Cuchernois and Merie, located between Saint-Genis and Irigny.

During three decades, the most important people of the time are going to honor Beauregard of their visit. On June 29, 1564, during her trip around France to introduce her young son King Charles IX to his subjects, Queen Mother Catherine de’Medici stops for lunch and dinner at Beauregard, with her son the King of France, her son-in-law Henry of Bourbon, who will become the future King Henry IV of France and all of her Court. At Beauregard she happens to meet another son of hers, the Duke of Anjou, future King of France Henri III. So, in the same day, the Queen Mother and three present and future Kings of France, lunch and dine in the Gadagne castle of Beauregard, with all the Gentlemen and Dames of their Court.

The Queen and her large retinue move to Lyon for the night. However, a week later, another plague epidemy hits Lyon and one of the Queen’s dames dies of it. Immediately, Queen Catherine and all her cortege return to safe Beauregard, where they spend a pleasant day with their Gadagne cousins. In the evening, they go and dine at the nearby Perron Castle, guests of Albisse del Bene, who used to be one of the tutors appointed by Thomas II Gadagne for his children.

Queen Catherine de’Medici, Florentine, was considered the most powerful woman in sixteenth-century Europe, by her biographer Mark Strage [STRAGE MARK, “Women of Power: The life and Times of Catherine de’ Medici”.London and New York: Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich. Prologue, 1976]. She was personally related to six consecutives Kings of France. King Francois 1st was her father-in-law, King Henry II her husband, Kings Francois II, Charles IX and Henri III her sons, and King Henry IV her son-in-law. When Queen Catherine had her daughter Margaret marry Henry IV, Henry was still only Prince Henry of Bourbon, King of Navarre. However, before the marriage, Catherine found out her 19 year old daughter was secretly involved with Henry of Guise, 18 years old, son of the late Duke of Guise. (Henry of Guise will later become head of the Catholic League and will be murdered by Margaret’s older brother, King Henri III’s personal guards). When Catherine found out about her daughter’s involvement with young Guise, she had her brought fom her bed. Then, Catherine and her son, King Charles IX (Margaret’s older brother), beat her, ripping her nightclothes and pulling out handfuls of her hair.

At that time, Henry of Bourbon was only 15 and lived with his mother, Jeanne d’Albret in the fortified Protestant town of La Rochelle, as he and his mother were Protestant and feared Catholic retaliation with the ongoing Religion Wars. Queen Catherine invited Jeanne and her son Henry to court in Paris, promising not to harm them. When Jeanne came, Catherine pressured her hard to have her son Henry marry Margaret. Finally Jeanne agreed, as long as Henry could remain a Huguenot (Protestant). When Jeanne started buying clothes for the wedding, she was suddenly taken ill and died. Huguenot writers accused Queen Catherine of murdering her with poisoned gloves.

Finally the “happy wedding” was celebrated on August 18, 1572, at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. All the important Protestant personalities of France came to Paris from their fortified strongholds, to assist at what looked like the happy ending of the Religion Wars, the marriage of Catholic Royal Princess Margaret with Protestant distant cousin of the King of France, Henry of Bourbon. However, what did young Henry de Guise think about the forced marriage of his ex-girlfriend Margaret with a Protestant Prince?
Three days after the wedding, Admiral Coligny, military and political leader of the French Protestants, was returning home from the Royal Palace of the Louvre. Suddenly a shot rang out from a house and he was wounded at the arm. A smoking arquebus was discovered in a window, but the culprit had made his escape from the rear of the building on a waiting horse. The admiral was taken to his lodgings, where a surgeon removed a bullet from his elbow and amputated a damaged finger with a pair of scissors. Queen Catherine did not show any emotions at the news of the attack but later paid Coligny a tearful visit promising to punish the attacker. However, the Catholics were expecting a Protestant uprising to revenge the attack on Coligny and decided to strike first.

The Queen had made a list of all the important Protestant personalities she thought wise to eliminate to avoid dangers to the Crown. It contained about twenty names. Young King Charles XI, 21 years old, with the list in his hand, told the captain of the guards:”Kill them all! Kill them all!”, referring to the people whose names were on the list. The captain mistakingly thought:”KILL ALL THE PROTESTANTS OF FRANCE, OR AT LEAST OF PARIS!” and started the infamous Saint Bartholomew massacre, which lasted almost a week in Paris, and spread in many parts of France, where it persisted into the autumn. Some historians state young Guise was the one who organized the musket shooting on Coligny, which was the starting cause of the tragic slaughter. We do not have enough proofs to prove it or to deny it. There are also other theories. One thing is certain though Guise and some of his men went to Coligny’s house the following day, and killed him in his lodgings with several of his followers. Then Coligny’s body was thrown from the window into the street, and was subsequently mutilated, castrated, dragged through the mud, thrown in the Seine River, suspended on a gallows and burned by the Parisian crowd. Prince Henry of Bourbon converted temporarily to Catholicism to save his life. When she saw him kneeling before the altar, Queen Catherine turned towards the ambassadors and started laughing. From this time dates the legend of Catherine as” the wicked Italian queen”.

Eventually Henry of Bourbon’s marriage with Margaret was not a happy one and the couple remained childless. Henry and Margaret separated and Margaret lived for many years in the castle of Ausson in Auvergne.
When Prince Henry of Bourbon became King Henry IVof France in August 1589, after the murder of Queen Catherine’s son, King Henri III, it was important to have an heir, to avoid complicated problems of succession. Henry IV wanted the Catholic Church to annul his marriage with Margaret and let him marry his mistress Gabrielle d’Estrees, who had already given him three children. One of these, as we remember, was two year old Cesar de Vendome, who had been made Governor of Lyon, while Guillaume de Gadagne was Lieutenant General. However the King’s councilors were against it because Gabrielle was not of Royal blood. Eventually Gabrielle gave life to a stillborn baby and died shortly after on April 10, 1599.

Henry IV’s marriage with Margaret was annulled in 1599, and he married Marie de Medici in Lyon in 1600. That was the marriage Guillaume I de Gadagne was asked to help organize, while he was old and ailing. Marie was Queen Catherine de Medici’s cousin. And she was also a cousin of the Gadagne, as are all the members of the Medici Family. From King Henry IV and Marie de’ Medici’s marriage came six children, Louis XIII, King of France, Elizabeth, Queen of Spain, Christine Marie, Duchess of Savoy, Nicolas Henri (died at 4 years old), Gaston, Duke of Orleans, and Henrietta Maria, Queen of England, Queen of Scots and Queen of Ireland. All the Bourbons of France, Spain, Naples and Parma, including Carlo III (Emma Guadagni’s lover) and little Filippo Borbone Parma-Guadagni descend from King Henry IV and Marie de’Medici.

Let’s go back to Beauregard. On March 17, 1589, another important Royal personality is greeted by Thomas III in Beauregard. It is Princess Christine of Lorraine, grand-daughter of Queen Catherine, on her way to Florence, Italy, to marry Grand Duke Ferdinando de’Medici. The Consulate of Lyon invites her to come and spend the night in Lyon, but she prefers to do it in Beauregard, before boarding the ship on the Rhone River the following day, which will take her to Marseilles, where the Galley of the Grand Duke of Tuscany is waiting for her.

Other reasons might have influenced Princess Christine in her decision of spending the night at Beauregard rather than at Lyon. At that time Lyon was in the hands of the League, in open war against King Henry III. The governor of the city was the Duke of Nemours, half-brother of Guise. Queen Catherine had first promised Nemours would marry Princess Christine of Lorraine. Later, she changed her mind and promised her to Grand Duke Ferdinando de’Medici. Probably Christine did not want to be the guest of her ex-fiance’?

Another reason was her secretary, Abbot Giovambattista Guadagni. In Historical Notes Plate VI, # 2, we see that Abbot Guadagni was Queen Catherine’s favorite counselor. He often helped her in dealing with Protestants. He also organized the marriage between Princess Christine and Grand Duke Ferdinando. For sure, Abbott Guadagni, son of Filippo, preferred to spend the night in his cousins Gadagne’s villa.

A few years later, in October 1594, Beauregard has the privilege of hosting Henry de Montmorency Damville, supreme commander of the French armies, sent by King Henry IV to complete bringing peace to the region of Lyon. The Consulate of Lyon accepts the task of embellishing Beauregard for such an important guest. They hire the artist and glassblower Jherosme Durand and other craftsmen. Eventually Montmorency resides in Beauregard from October 3, 1594 to November 7, 1594, before moving to Lyon [MATHIAN, abovementioned work, page 10, GUIGE G. “The drawings of students and accounting reports of J. Durand, artist and glassblower from Lyon (1555-1605) Lyon, 1924, page 146].

On April 22, 1557, three miles from Saint-Genis-Laval, Thomas buys the seigneury of Pravieux and its castle, built on the rocky top of Chaponost Hill, dominating the surrounding plain.

On April 6, 1559, for 19,000 pounds , Francois Thurin sells Thomas III the seigneury of Charly with its powerful castle, its seigneurial justice, high, middle and low, and important seigneurial rights on the town of Charly itself and neighboring villages [VIGNON L., “Annals of French village:Charly-Vernaison in the Lyonnais region” t. I, Saint-Just-la-Pendue, 1978-1993]. (By the way, the above mentioned book “The vengeance of the Gadagne” was written by Father Vignon, pastor of Charly.)

The seigneurial rights were symbolic, financial and judiciary:

Symbolic: the lord has the right to own a “dovecote”, a “pew with armrest” in the village church, his family crest painted or sculpted on the windows or the door of the church, his tomb in it, the peasants must take their hat off to salute him/her as a sign of respect.

Financial: a small tax on each member of the peasant families; an extra small tax on the same (to increase the Lord’s income); a percentage of the crop, usually between 1/6 and 1/12 (being added to 1/10 owed to the Church). Mandatory paid use of the Lord’s mill.

Judicial: The seigneurial justice is a delegation of the royal power to the Lords. It is less slow and therefore less expensive than the Royal, geographically closer to the litigants. It also includes a role of administrative police on the weights and measures, roads, prices, markets, rent control, rights of passage. It referees conflicts between farmers, and between the farmers and the Lord. Possession of justice constituted an important element of prestige, the Lords did not hesitate to plant “justice poles” to mark the boundaries of their lordship.

It includes three levels of justice: high, middle and low.
High justice: the Lord can judge all cases and rule all penalties, including capital punishment. This last one however needs to be confirmed by a Royal judge to be executed. High justice includes fullness of jurisdiction, civil and criminal.

Middle justice: Lord may judge brawls, insults and fights. Offences cannot be punished by death. It plays an important role in civil cases, including legal protection of the interests of minors, affixing of seals, inventory of the property of minors, appointment of guardians, etc.

Low justice: The Lord deals with rights due to him, census tax, annuities, inheritance on his domain, exhibition of contracts. It also deals with offences and low value fines, like damage of beasts and name-calling.

The Lord must have a sergeant and a prison in his estate to hold any offender until the judgement is completed.
The prison must be maintained in good condition.

On January 28, 1571, Thomas III obtains from the inhabitants of Charly that they repair the towers and the walls of the castle and promise to defend it in case of war or immediate danger. Twenty-seven years later, on August 14, 1598, the inhabitants of Charly renew their promise to Thomas III’s widow. In Charly, Thomas owns also the church and has the right to appoint the pastor, previous approval of the Bishop [NICOLAY N, “General Description of the city of Lyon and of the ancient provinces of the Lyonnais and the Beaujolais, 1573”, mentioned by Vignon is his above mentioned book, page 330.]

In Charly, close to the church, there is still a beautifully kept octagonal Renaissance “watchtower”, called “the Tower of the Gadagne”. The name makes us think it was built by them but we have no document to confirm it or deny it. Father Vignon thinks the name might come from the striking resemblance of the Charly tower with the tower of the Gadagne Palace in Lyon.

On August 27, 1560, Francois de Chalvet, Lord of Frelus, sells Thomas III a mill for wheat, houses, a hemp beater, a dovecote, and barns with vineyards and willow tree woods, in a place called Nouet, in the jurisdictions of Saint-Genis and Oullins [CARTELLIER J,”Historical Essay on Saint-Genis-Laval before the (French) Revolution”,Lyon, 1927, page 258].

In 1561, the same year Guillaume I buys Boutheon, Thomas III increases his Saint-Genis-Laval properties. The canon-counts of Saint-Jean (Saint-Jean in French means Saint-John in English and it is pronounced the same way; it is the name of the Cathedral of Lyon) are not able to come up with the money to pay the 8,000 pounds tax imposed on the clergy for “the fight against Heresy”. So they mortgage their domain of Laye with Thomas III for that amount for four years. In 1565, they are still unable to come up with the money so they renew the mortgage with Thomas. Eventually, on July 29, 1569, they still do not have the money so they sell the domain to Thomas for 15,500 pounds. The Chapter of Saint-Jean ratifies it on September 7 [VIGNON L., ibidem, page 322, Department Rhone Arch. 10 G 2829 and 2837]

At that moment, the domain of Laye was in a pitiful state. Its castle and the chapel of Saint Catherine are practically ruined and its woods have been devastated by the troops stationed at Saint-Genis-Laval. However, the acquisition of this large property adjacent to Beauregard and to most of his domain of Saint-Genis, gives Thomas III ownership of a large area, corresponding nowadays to the zone between Gadagne Avenue and the road going from Lyon to Brignais. To it we must add his territories of Montouze and Moron in the Justice of Irigny and his “noble incomes” of Cuchernois and Merie, which the canons retroceded to him, together with the income the canons originally got from the Lord of Montany.

In 1566, the Chapter of Saint-Jean does not have the money to repair the house of a local priest so they sell Thomas III the lawn in front of the priest’s house, between Saint-Genis and Champonost, for 2,000 pounds.

On July 3, 1577, Thomas III buys the “noble income” of the Grand and Petit Privas, located in the Parish of Charly and surroundings, for 500 pounds from Julien Regret, merchant of Lyon. On September 26 of the same year, during an auction sale of clergy properties by the Registry of the Senechaussee’, for 6,500 pounds he buys the seigneury of Oullins, previously owned by the Archbishop, with its castle, its seigneurial rights and its High, Middle and Low Justice.

However, on July 12, 1582, the year in which the Gregorian Kalendar is adopted by the Kingdom of France, he must retrocede 1/10 of his new property to Antoine Camus, treasurer of France. Camus has just bought the Seigneury of Perron from Albisse del Bene, and is trying to increase his domain.

On July 13, 1583, Thomas buys several properties from the heirs of Claude de Montagny, including those of Frontigny and Sourzy, close to Saint-Genis-Laval.

The domain n in the Bourbonnais

The high office Thomas III holds in the Bourbonnais region and his wife from Bourbonnais have Thomas extend his domains also in said area. In 1570 he is appointed Lieutenant General of the Bourbonnais. The following year he purchases the barony of Champroux [VIGNON L., above mentioned work, T.1, page 327] in the parish of Couleuvres. The barony includes farmland and a powerful XIII century castle, surrounded by a large pond, with a drawbridge, interior courtyard, strong towers and dungeon. He also acquires the seigneury of Aureil and the closeby property and castle of Montverin.

From his wife he gets the seigneury of La Fin, which his father-in-law, Jean de Marconnay, has given her.
La Fin is located close to the village of Thiel-sur-Ancolin, a few miles from the town of Moulins. He buys many properties around Moulins. He evokes them in his will, without giving details about them.

Around the town of Saint-Pourcain, where his wife inherits the castles of Bompre’ and Charbonnieres from her father, he buys the seigneurys of Briailles, La Brosse and La Prugne. On April 23, 1586, he purchases the property of Bonnefont from Archambaud Racquin des Gouttes.

Finally, in his will, after his domains located in Champroux, Saint-Pourcain or Moulins, Thomas III lists properties and seigneurys at “Brigadet”, “Batieres”, “Loriges” and “Apineul”.


During the last years of his life, Thomas III spends most of his time in the castle of Champroux, in the Bourbonnais, or at Boisy, close to Roanne. The contract of the sale of the land of Bonnefont, in 1586, states that “Thomas de Gadagne is actually living in Champroux.” According to Historian Lejeune, he might be trying to avoid the unrest caused by the League in Lyon, and keep his family out of reach of the troops of the League. When calm returns in Lyon, on February 8, 1594, after Lyon rallies around King Henry IV, Thomas III is already old and feeble. He prefers to live the last months of his life in his castle of Boisy. On August 30, 1594, in Boisy he dictates his will [VIGNON L., “above mentioned book”T.1 pages 390-391, Rhone Department Arch., April 22, 1595]

Thomas III appoints his half-brother Guillaume Sabran executor of his will. He establishes all his children as heirs and beseechs them to “always fear God and follow His commandments.” He leaves Balthazard, the eldest son, the seigneurys of Champroux, Montverin, Saint-Heand, Saint-Galmier, la Prugne and Apineul and all his properties in the city of Moulins and around the seigneurys of la Fin and Souvigny. He leaves Claude, his younger son, the seugnerys in the area of Lyon: Beauregard, Laye, Charly, Oullins, Pravieux and the mill of Nouvet. He leaves his son Godefroy the seigneurys of Briailles, Loriges, Brigadet, Bonnefont and Batieres, and the properties he owns next to La Brosse and Charbonniere. His youngest son, Guillaume II, is Knight of Saint John in Jerusalem. As long as he is not in command of an army, he will receive 200 crowns every year from his brother Balthazard.

Thomas III leaves his daughter Alphonsine half of the property and the seigneury of Amberieu-en-Dombes. He leaves Louise the properties in the region of Forez in the seigneurys of Saint-Galmier and Saint-Heand. He wants his daughter Jacqueline to become a nun in the Convent of Saint-Menoux. She will be paid an appropriate allowance. Charlotte, who is already a nun in the abbey of Saint-Laurent de Bourges will be given an allowance of 16 crowns plus 50 pounds on the revenues of half of the property of Amberieu every year by her brother Balthazard. Jeanne had married Marc de Grivel, Lord of Grossouvre, 15 ears earlier. She is not listed in Thomas III’s will, probably because she had already received her share at the time of her wedding.

Finally, Thomas III states that he wants to be buried close to the place where he is going to die, either in the church of Couleuvre, where the previous owners of Champroux are buried, or in the Chapel of Notre-Dame de Confort, in Lyon, where his ancestors and his father are buried. However, he seems to show a preference for the area of Lyon, because he signs his will “Lord of Beauregard, Charly and Pravieux”.

He dies a short while after dictating his will and he is buried in Lyon in the Gadagne family chapel.


The fourth generation of the Gadagne in France includes the children of two brothers, Guillaume I and Thomas III de Gadagne. For the first time in the history of the Gadagne Family in France, we have cousins instead of siblings. As Historian Lejeune states in his above-mentioned book “The Saga of the Gadagne in Lyon”, the fourth generation of the Gadagne continues its settlement in the regions of Lyon, Forez and Bourbonnais, and its marriages with the nobility of Dauphine’. They also continue to distinguish themselves in the King of France’s armies. However, an unfortunate “Family honor” issue has severe consequences on the lives of several family members.


As Lejeune writes the lives of the Gadagne’s daughters, we are doing the same. From his marriage with Jeanne de Sugny, Guillaume I has five daughters, Lucrece, Anne, Diane, Gabrielle and Hilaire, and three sons, Claude, Nicolas and Gaspard. Claude and Nicolas however die as children.


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The oldest of Guillaume I’s daughters, Lucrece, marries Charles d’Apchon, in 1579. Charles is from an old family of Auvergne and Forez. His father, Arthaud d’Apchon, owns the powerful castle of Montrond. During the Religion Wars, the castle is the scene of many battles. Taken by the Huguenots (Protestants) during the 16th century, it is later captured by the Catholic League. Eventually it is finally conquered by the troops of King of France Henry IV. Arthaud marries Marguerite d’Albon, Marshall of Saint-Andre’s sister. If we remember Marshall of Saint Andre’ was Guillaume I’s commander during his German Campaign. However Saint Andre’ was sometimes a bit obnoxious. He loved to stay in the castle of Montrond, which he had transformed in a sumptuous residence, because he liked to impress his friends with his wealth. One day, he tried to imitate the Prince of Conde’ and the King of Navarre. He organized a make-belief attack to the most beautiful tower of the castle. He hired a large number of improvised extras in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, carried away by their enthusiasm in the attack of the tower, the make-belief assailants ended up by really destroying the tower. Arthaud sadly walked in the ruins of his tower at the end of the day, hoping Saint Andre’ would never come up with a similar idea again.

Saint Andre’ dies without children so Charles and Lucrece inherit all his fortune, mostly the castles of Miremont and Tournoel in Auvergne. Thus Lucrece becomes Baroness of Tournoel and Viscountess of Miremont. Lucrece and Charles decide to live in Tournoel, an old Middle Age castle. As he had done with the castle of Montrond, Saint Andre’ had transformed Tournoel in a plush residence, with an elegant gallery, beautiful gardens and caves full of statues of nymphs. However, the Religion Wars affect Tournoel also. Like his father-in-law Guillaume I, Charles d’Apchon remains faithful to the King. So the League kills him and conquers his castle. The following year, the Royal troops, led by Chateauneuf d’Urfe’ reconquer the castle and give it back to Lucrece. However, Lucrece has to borrow 13,000 crowns from her father to repair it. And that is not all. Her late husband had annoyed Guillaume I about the dowry he had given Lucrece. After Gaspard’s death, Guillaume had decided to make Lucrece and Charles’ oldest son his universal heir. After Charles’ critics on the dowry he had disinherited Lucrece’s oldest son and left everything, including the “Gadagne surname”, to the eldest son of his daughter Diane, Balthazard de la Baume d’Hostun, who will become Balthazard “Gadagne” d’Hostun.

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On August 19, 1597, Guillaume’s second daughter, Anne, marries a gentleman from an old Lyonnais family, Pierre d’Albon. Pierre’s father is Bertrand d’Albon, lord of Saint-Forgeux, close to Tarare, knight of Saint Michael and Counselor of the King. On January 31, 1601, the couple buys the property and seigneury of l’Aubepin from the Sainte-Colombe family. In 1630, their daughter Hilaire marries Gaspard de Vichy, count of Champrond, of the famous Vichy Family.

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On May 22, 1584, Guillaume’s third daughter, Diane, marries Antoine de la Baume d’Hostun, in Boutheon. Antoine comes from an old and noble family. His fiefs, la Baume d’Hostun and Hostun, where the old family castle with the crest sculpted in the courtyard, dominates the Ysere plain, are situated thirteen miles from Romans. On January 20, 1601, Antoine succeeds Guillaume I as Seneschal of Lyon. In 1606, after Jacques Mittes de Chevrieres’ death, he becomes Lieutenant General for the provinces of Lyon, Forez and Beaujolais. In 1614, he is appointed Field Marshall and he will eventually die Counselor of the King and Knight of the two Orders (Saint Michael and Holy Spirit). Diane and Antoine have eight children. In his will of 1600, Guillaume I appoints their oldest son, Balthazard, as universal heir under condition of adding the surname “Gadagne” and the Gadagne crest to his name. By lucky chance the d’Hostun and Gadagne crests are almost identical, both having the “golden cross with thorns”. And so the Gadagne d’Hostun branch of the family is born. It will continue for two centuries.


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The fourth daughter is Gabrielle. She receives an excellent education at the Convent of Jourcey-en-Forez, close to Boutheon. She is very devout and she dedicates herself to the care of her ailing parents. She runs the castle and takes care of everything for them. The most important nobles of the region want to marry her. However, on February 26, 1601, in Lyon, she marries a person nobody would imagine her to: Jacques Mitte de Chevrieres Miolans, one of her father’s worst enemies, member of the Catholic League of Lyon. He is however a very wealthy and important noble of the Lyonnais. He is “the First Baron of the Lyonnais”. Thanks to his family inheritance and that of his late first wife, Gabrielle de Saint-Priest, he owns several large seigneurys in the region and beyond, among which are Chevrieres, Miolans and Saint-Chamond. King Henri III appoints him Field-Marshall. Chevrieres leads his troops in the victories of Jarnac and Montcontour in 1569, and the siege of La Rochelle, against the Protestants in 1573.

However, he becomes head of the Catholic League of Lyon and thus enemy of Guillaume I de Gadagne. We remember that Guillaume sent Captain L’Hospital with the King’s troops in the unfortunate attack against Chevrieres’ castle of Saint-Chamond in 1590. Chevrieres fought back the assailants and L’Hospital died in the battle. At a certain point, however, Chevrieres understands that the future of France is with King Henry IV and changes sides. Thus, on February 8, 1594, when Guillaume I and d’Ornano enter Lyon triumphantly, after the city asked their help against Nemours, Chevrieres is riding at their side, with the white scarf of rallying to King Henry IV tied to his arm, like everybody else. That same year, he is appointed Counselor of the King. In 1595 he is appointed Lieutenant of Velay. A year later, he receives the Order of Knight of the Holy Spirit. In 1599, eleven days before his wedding with Gabrielle de Gadagne, he is appointed Lieutenant General of Lyonnais, Forez and Beaujolais, following Guillaume I’s footsteps.

Less than two months after Guillaume I’s death, on February 26, 1601, Gabrielle and Chevrieres meet in the house of Antoine de la Baume d’Hostun and sign the wedding contract while waiting to go to the Church of Sainte-Croix and have their marriage blessed by the priest. Their marriage is really happy. Gabrielle helps Jacques take care of his business and even represents him in his trials. She gives him four children in five years. However, after only five years of marriage, Jacques Mitte de Chevrieres dies in his seigneury of Septeme in the Dauphinois. His body is brought back to his castle of Saint-Chamond and is buried in the chapel of the convent he had built for the Capuchin Friars [CONDAMIN J.,”History of Saint-Chamond and of the seigneury of Jarez”,Picard Edit.,Paris, 1890, repr. Reboul, Saint-Etienne, 1996, page 292].

At this point, as three of her children died very young, Gabrielle dedicates herself to the upbringing of Gasparde and Melchior, the two children Chevrieres had from his first wife, and Jean Francois, her child with Chevrieres. Melchior becomes Lieutenant General of the King’s armies and Head Minister under King Louis XIII, and Extraordinary Ambassador in Rome under King Louis XIV. Jean-Francois becomes a very brilliant officer of the King’s army. King of France Louis XIII (King Henry IV and Marie de Medicis’ son) appoints him commander of a regiment of 1,000 foot soldiers, when he is barely twenty years old. Unfortunately, during the unsuccessful siege of the Protestant stronghold of Montauban, in 1621, Jean-Francois is killed by the explosion of a landmine. Gabrielle never recovers from such a cruel loss. She retires in Macon, to devote the rest of her life and her fortune to works of charity.

From 1622 to 1624, with Melchior’s help, she founds a convent of Minor Nuns in Saint-Chamond. In the chapel of the convent, she erects the tombs of her spouse, her son Jean-Francois and her three other children.

The Convent of the Minor Nuns is now the City Hall of Saint-Chamond. The convent underwent many changes during the centuries. The cloister, with its beautiful archways, and the elegant front of the chapel have practically kept their initial appearance. Only two consoles, adorned with the crests of the two spouses, remain of Jacques de Chevriere’s tomb. A marble plate is all that remains of Jean-Francois’ tomb. On the plate is inscribed the epitaph written by Gabrielle. It expresses in a touching way the admiration and love that the mother felt for a son who disappeared too soon.

Historian Lejeune expresses all his gratefulness to Monsieur Philibert, vice-president of the Association of the Friends of old Saint-Chamond, for his kind reception and for the precious documentation he was able to present Lejeune on the topic [LEJEUNE E.,”:The Lyonnaise Saga of the Gadagne”, page 108] .

In 1623, in Lyon, Gabrielle has a convent built for the Sisters of the Annunciation, called the “Sky-Blue” because of the color of their habit, on the slope of the “Croix Rousse” (French for “Red Cross”, an important hill in Lyon, next to the river Saone, and facing Old Lyon). The following year, seven “Sky-Blue” nuns, coming from Pontarlier, move into the convent.

The convent and its church were located at the bottom of the actual slope of the Carmelites and of the street of the Annunciation. Later the Sisters of Saint-Charles replace the “Sky Blue”. The Saint Charles Clinic is built on part of the property where the convent of the Sisters of the Annunciation used to be.

Finally, on November 15, 1628, to avoid for little children, living on the right side of the Saone, to have to cross the whole city of Lyon, including the stone bridge, often full of traffic, to go to Trinity College, Gabrielle gives the Jesuits 24,000 crowns to build three elementary classes on the side of Fourvieres (right side of the Saone). Two years later, with the approval of the Consulate, who thinks three classes are not enough for Old Lyon (right side of the Saone), Gabrielle grants 6,000 pounds a year for the enlargement of the establishment. The “Petit College” (‘Little College” in English) is eventually completed close to the Gadagne Palace, in the building bought by Gabrielle from Treasurer Carles Loubat for that purpose.

The square where Gabrielle built the “Petit College” gets its name from it and is called to this day “Petit College” Square. Nowadays part of the City Hall of the 5th Urban District of Lyon, occupies the building of the “Petit College”. In the year 1668, the rector of the “Petit College” was the famous Father La Chaize. The building had many transformations since then. In 1731, architect Von Riesemburg remodeled it. We can still admire his magnificent staircase.
Even though now Gabrielle leads a secluded life, almost as a nun, she is attracted by pious books and papers. She assembles an important collection of books. The few which we were able to find recently are richly bound and with her family crest on them [POIDEBARD W., BASDRIER, J., GALLE L. “Family crests of booklovers from Lyonnais”, Lyon, 1907, pages 411-413].

At the end of 1635, Gabrielle feels sick. She leaves Macon and goes to Lyon. There, on November 7, 1635, she dies of a stroke. The next day, she is buried in the chapel of the “Petit College”. A year later, to commemorate the first anniversary of her death, in her funeral oration, Jesuit Father Balthazard Flotte commends the piety, the dedication and the generosity of this “exemplary woman”. Two very rare books, both written by Father B. Flotte, remain, which were published on that occasion. The first was published in Lyon, in 1636, with the title: “Elogium funebre illustrissimae dominae Gabriellae de Gadagne comitissae de Chevrieres” (“Funeral Eulogy of the very famous Lady Gabrielle de Gadagne Countess of Chevrieres”). The second, “Discours funebre a’ l’immortelle memoire de feue Madame la comtesse de Chevrieres, recite’ a’ Lyon le jour de son anniversaire par le Pere Balthazard Flotte de la Compagnie de Jesus le 10eme jour de Novembre 1636” (“Funeral Lecture on the immortal memory of the deceased Countess of Chevrieres, given in Lyon on the day of her anniversary by Father Balthazard Flotte of the Company of Jesus on November the 10th 1636”) was published by Claude Rigaud’s widow and Philippe Borde in Lyon in 1637. [PASSERINI L.,”History of the Guadagni”, pages 88 and 89].

Hilaire, Guillaume I’s fifth daughter, marries Charles de Monteynard. His seigneury is in the Drac Valley, two miles South of Grenoble.


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As two of his three sons die at a young age, Guillaume I concentrates all his hopes for the continuation of the Family name and glory on Gaspard, his last surviving son.

In 1594, after his return from Florence, where, in 1592, his father sent him, with his cousins Balthazard and Guillaume II, to accomplish his education in military warfare at the Court of the Grand-Duke, Gaspard helps his father and d’Ornano pacify the region of Lyon, where the Catholic League is still opposing King of France Henry IV.

Guillaume I gives Gaspard the seigneury of Verdun-sur-Doubs. In 1593, King Henry IV raises the Seigneury of Verdun-sur-Doubs to a County, to manifest his gratitude to Guillaume I. Thus Gaspard, who now owns it, becomes “Count of Verdun”.

In 1593, the Count of Tavannes, Lieutenant General of the King in Burgundy, appoints Gaspard Governor of Verdun, in spite of his young age. Gaspard has returned from Florence only a few months before, but his brilliant military qualities, in fighting the troops of the League in the Region of Lyon have already gained him such an important charge. He has also been awarded the command of 700 infantry soldiers, 100 men-at-arms, and 100 cavalrymen armed with rifles.

It is a very important and difficult task. Verdun is located on the borders of the Region of the Spanish Franche Comte’ (Spain supports the Catholic League), of the Bresse Region owned by the Duke of Savoy, enemy of the King of France, and of Burgundy, ruled mostly by the League forces of the Duke of Mayenne. For the King of France Verdun is a strategic important stronghold, in the heart of the enemy forces. Both opponents fight strenuously to have it. In 1590, Verdun is conquered by the League troops of Guionville, succeeded by Captain Real. Real imposes heavy taxes on the city of Verdun and commits atrocities and acts of violence against its inhabitants. Real qualifies Gaspard as betrayor and “Huguenot” and vandalizes Gaspard’s beautiful house in Verdun.

Soon the city is reconquered by the King’s army, led by Heliodore de Thiard de Bissy. The Viscount of Tavannes furiously attacks it twice with his League troops, but Heliodore is able to resist. However Heliodore dies in 1593, fighting courageously [CARLOT M.,”The Gadagne and the Region of Verdun-sur-Saone-et-Doubs”Historical Studies on Verdun-sur-le-Doubs, #19, pages 20-25]. Gaspard is appointed successor of Heliodore as commander in chief of Verdun. Heliodore has strengthened the fortifications and the armaments of the city. However Verdun is now completely surrounded by armies of the Catholic League, who control the neighboring towns of Chalons, Macon, Seurre and Saint-Jean de Losne.

In their letters, Gaspard’s parents, Guillaume I and Jeanne, advise him to be cautious and vigilant. Jeanne begs him not to imperil himself. Guillaume advises him to make sure he is always well endowed with “food and ammunitions”. He also recommends Gaspard to have his soldiers wait until the last minute to draw lots for the posts they will have to guard to avoid any traitor being able to warn the enemy ahead of time. Guillaume emphasizes the insecurity of the communications and writes Gaspard:”In these miserable times, if you write me, give your letters to Claude Prez, boatman, who will bring them to me in Avignon.”

However, Gaspard is young, fiery and enthusiastic. He never stops harassing the League troops, attacking them on all sides by surprise, with audacious outings from Verdun. Exasperated, the magistrates of Chalon, who is controlled by the League, offer him 500 crowns cash, 250 crowns the following week, and 600 pounds every month, if he stops his raids against them. However, skirmishes continue between the two armies. In the meantime, Guillaume II de Gadagne, 19 years old, already Knight of St. John of the Military Order of Malta, joins him in Verdun. Two years earlier, they were together in Florence. Now the two cousins are together in Verdun, fighting side by side against the League. “We will give them their due!” Guillaume says with a mischievious wink in his eye. Gaspard smiles back and thinks:”Guillaume is always the same! He faces even the most difficult situations in a jovial and joking way…!”

On December 12, 1594, soldiers of the League seize merchandises belonging to inhabitants of Verdun and run away with them. Alerted, followed by Guillaume II and a small escort, Gaspard gallops after them. Next to the town of Seurre, he enters a forest, and he sees the fugitives only a few yards away. Suddenly, from behind every tree, appear soldiers of the League. Captain La Fortune, of the Catholic League, has prepared an ambush for him! It is too late to escape and Gaspard has no intention of surrendering. He fires his guns on the “Ligueurs” (soldiers of the League), killing one at every shot. Then he grabs his sword and defends himself valiantly. Guillaume II covers his back. League soldiers are falling all around them, and they seem invincible. Suddenly, however, Gaspard’s horse is wounded, and crumbles under him. For a few moments, Gaspard is busy freeing one of his feet from the stirrup, under the body of the horse, and cannot defend himself. The Ligueurs quickly take advantage of it and thrust their spears in him from every side. When Gaspard is free to fight again, he is on foot against mounted opponents and is bleeding heavily. He is soon overpowered and killed by his enemies. Desperately sad, Guillaume realizes he cannot do anything else to save his cousin. Striking his enemies right and left, he is barely able to get out of the forest and gallop back to Verdun.

Guillaume I’s half brother, Guillaume Sabran, is appointed next governor of Verdun. Guillaume I will never recover from the tragic death of his beloved son Gaspard. To honor and preserve his memory, he orders for Gaspard’s titles and heroic behavior to be engraved in the marble of his own funerary monument in Notre Dame de Confort and in the chapel he plans to build in the church of Boutheon.


Thomas’ descendants are even more numerous than Guillaume’s. Helene de Marconnay gives him five sons (Marc, Balthazard, Claude, Guillaume II and Godefroy) and five daughters (Jeanne, Alphonsine, Louise, Charlotte and Jacqueline). Following the family tradition the daughters marry gentlemen of their region or neighboring provinces or become nuns. The eldest, Jeanne, marries Marc de Grivel, lord of Grossouvre, near the Gadagne castle of Champroux. Marc’s parents are Philippe de Grivel and Madeleine de Gaucourt. Marc is gentleman of the King’s Chamber. Marc and Jeanne have a son, Louis, Lord of Saint-Aubin. We will find him again later on, in the “Vengeance of the Gadagne”.

Alphonsine marries Philippe Prevost, Lord of La Roche and Beaulieu in Poitou. When his brother-in-law Godefroy de Gadagne dies, he inherits the seigneury of Briailles, a mile from Saint-Pourcain.

Accepting her role of daughter of the Lord of Berauregard, Louise is happy to become the God-mother of babies from Saint-Genis-Laval. On June 21, 1588, she is the God-mother of Jean Dupuis, whose God-father is Jean Garnier, known as “Vachy” (in English “the cow-man”), head-butcher of the town. A few days later, she becomes the God-mother of Romolo Guillot, whose God-father is Romolo Romoli, “procurator and tax collector” of Thomas III [VIGNON L., above-mentioned work, 1st Volume, page 355]. Like her sisters, she leaves the Lyonnais when she gets married. On January 19, 1598, she marries Georges de Gallean, Squire, Lord of Vedenes in the Venaissin County. Louise and Georges have ten children. From one of them, Charles-Felix, another Gadagne branch will start, the “Gallean Dukes of Gadagne”, whose descendants still exist nowadays and live in a Gadagne castle, close to Avignon. One of them Guy de Galard, came to our house in Denver, Colorado [CARLONI de QUERQUI F., Memoirs, 1994].

Jacqueline becomes a nun at Saint-Menoux, twenty miles from Champroux.

Charlotte will do the same, in the Abbey of Saint-Laurent in Bourges.

Two of their five sons, Godefroy and Marc, die very young. From his father, Godefroy inherits the seigneury of Briailles and the properties of Longes, Brigadet, Bonnafont and Batieres, as well as the acquisitions around Saint-Pourcain-sur-Sioule. However, he will not survive him, because he is already dead when his sister Louise gets married in 1598. It seems that Marc, instead, dies as a child. In his book “Genealogy and History of the Guadagni Family”, Passerini mentions him as “Baron of Briailles”, deceased shortly after his father. However, when Thomas III dictates his will, we do not find him anymore among the heirs. So we (Historian Edouard Lejeune) think Passerini might have mixed up Godefroy and Marc.

The three remaining brothers choose a military career, like their cousin Gaspard.


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 Balthazard, the eldest of the three, inherits from his father the “Barony of Champroux” with its powerful castle and large farmlands, together with the neighboring Seigneury of Montverin, other properties in the Bourbonnais, and the Seigneurys of Saint-Heand and Saint-Galmier in Forez. He is chamber gentleman of King Henry IV and Knight of the Order of Saint Michael. In the Royal Army he is Field-Marshall. He marries Renee’ de Clausse, daughter of Pierre de Clausse, Lord of Marchaumont, Courances and Dannemois. Balthazard and Renee’ have eight children.

In 1592, his father sends him to Florence with his brother Guillaume II and his older cousin Gaspard, to learn the military Arts at the Court of Grand-Duke Ferdinando de’Medici. In 1600, when France is preparing to fight against the Duke of Savoy, Balthazard is given the command of 100 soldiers to march against the Duke’s troops. However, he does not have to fight, because an agreement between the two countries eliminates the causes of conflict.

Balthazar has a neighbor, Sir Jean de Levy, Count of Charlus, Baron of Granges, Maumont, Poligny and le Breuil, Lord of Margeride, la Motte des Cros, Charnat, Saint-Sauve, Miremont and other domains. The story about the tragic relationship between Balthazard, his brothers, Claude and Guillaume, and their neighbor, the Count of Charlus, is not mentioned by historian Passerini [“Genealogy and History of the Guadagni Family”Florence, 1873]. Probably Passerini did not know about it.

A French priest, Abbe’ Louis Vignon, reads about it in 1974, over a century after Passerini wrote his book. Louis Vignon was the pastor of Charly, the seigneury bought by Thomas III on April 6, 1559, and inherited by his son Claude, at Thomas’ death. In his spare time, Father Vignon writes a book on the history of his little town. While he is studying the history of Charly from 1611 to 1622, he realizes that the name of Claude de Gadagne, Lord of Charly, is missing on all official papers during that period. He can find only the signatures of Claude’s wife, Eleonore de Coligny. Where is Claude?

One day, in the Department of the Rhone archives, Vignon found the answer to his question. He found mention of “the fight Sir Claude de Gadagne had with the Lord of Charlus in the year 1611…Aforementioned Claude de Gadagne was sentenced to death by default by the Parliament of Paris in the month of July 1612…”). Vignon did more research, in the National Archives of Paris, and discovered what happened in full detail. He wrote the book “La Vendetta des Gadagne” (“The Vengeance of the Gadagne”) [L’ imprimerie Chirat, 42540 Saint-Just-la-Pendue, France, June 1975]. Father Vignon’s book’s complete and accurate translation can be found in this website, in the History files under “The Vengeance of the Guadagni”.

We will summarize it here. Balthazard de Gadagne started it, this is why we relate this important episode in the life of the three brothers in Balthazard’s biography.

. The Count of Charlus was quick-tempered and haughty. Many people feared him.Since 1595, the Count of Charlus had had problems with the neighboring Gadagne over property rights. Balthazard had the castle and property of Champroux, touching Charlus’ domain of Poligny. Marc de Grivel, husband of Jeanne de Gadagne, owned the castle pf Grossouvre, 4 miles from Poligny. Claude de Gadagne had the castle of Charly, not far from there.

In 1611, the Count of Charlus takes Balthazard and Marc de Grivel to court, in a well publicized trial. The Count claims that he has the right to be paid feudal property revenues on both Champroux and Grossouvre. Balthazard and Marc reply that their properties are exempt from such duties. Charles of Gonzague, Duke of Nevers, Governor of the Region, orders the Gadagne to pay the contested property duties to the Judge of Sancoins.

The Gadagne are angry. During the trial, the Count said with contempt:”How can the Gadage consider themselves nobles? They descend from the loins of an Italian banker!” (It should be recalled that for a feudal noble, every commercial or working activity was considered unworthy and despicable. Only the middle and lower classes had to work. Hunting and serving one’s sovereign in diplomacy and war were the only activities worthy of the nobility).

The Duke of Nevers tries to reconcile Balthazard and Jean de Levy, Count of Charlus. He invites them both to his palace, and has them embrace each other in front of witnesses. The Count smiles happily. He thinks he has won. Balthazard, instead, decides to avenge the family honor. He determines to kill Charlus.

A few weeks later, in July 1611, Balthazard is going to see his mother, Dame Helene de Marconnay Gadagne, in her nearby castle of Charbonnieres. He is alone in his carriage, with an Italian servant, “Signor Clemente”. Count of Charlus happens to ride by, with some fifteen horsemen. The Count does not even greet his neighbor. He is not aware Balthazard is going to see his mother and ignores where he is going. However, he says haughtily and loudly, while le is galloping by:”There goes the Lord of Champroux, on his way to sleep with some prostitute!” At that moment, Charlus has fifteen people with him, Balthazard only one. So the Baron of Champroux can only bite his fingers angrily and mutter: “One day, you will pay for this, Charlus…!”

Whether hunting or traveling, Jean de Levy normally goes around with at least five to ten horsemen. So to make sure he can easily beat him and kill him, Balthazard decides to gather up a group of twenty people. He writes to all his relatives. They all come. The Gadagne and their relatives assemble in Grivel’s castle of Grossouvre. There are Balthazard and Claude de Gadagne, their brother Guillaume, who came directly from Italy, where he is Chief Commander off the fleet of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and many other relatives and friends.

Present are Pierre Clausse, Knight of Marchaumont, brother of Balthazard’s wife’s; Louis de Grivel, Lord of Saint-Aubin, son of Marc de Grivel and Jeanne de Gadagne; Marc’s nephew, the Lord of Pouzy; the Count of Verdun, one of the two sons of Guillaume I de Gadagne; Jacques and Marc d’Anlezy, Lords of Menetou-Couture, cousins of Louis de Grivel; the Lord de la Mothe, known as the “Bastard of Grossouvre”, illegitimate son of Marc’s father; and two friends, Gilbert de Mongibert, Lord of Nouettes, and the Lord of Naviere.

Philippe Prevost, Lord of Beaulieu, la Roche and Briailles, husband of Alphonsine de Gadagne and brother-in-law of the three Gadagne brothers has also been invited. However, he does not come to the rendez-vous. He thinks that this family “vengeance” is too risky. Each of the conspirators is ready to loose his properties, his castles and even his life. How would they escape the King’s justice? By living in exile abroad? That is paying too much for the death of Charlus…However, after the crime, Philippe helps his relatives in their escape.

Marc de Grivel himself, who lends his castle of Grossouvre for the conspirators’ meeting, and is one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the plot, does not participate in the actual attack. He is 67 years old, and a few days earlier, he has fallen from his horse, breaking his right arm in two spots. Thus he is not able to handle his sword. When the conspirators leave for the attack, Marc, riding his short black horse, waves at them: ”May the first blow kill him!...The rooster must be silenced! Otherwise do not return to Grossouvre!”

There are fourteen nobles in all. In addition, there are servants and hired swordsmen, for a total of 25 combatants. On the night before the crime, they all ate and drank merrily at the castle of Grossouvre.

If the reader goes back to Plate III, he will see that Gaspard, son of Guillaume de Gadagne, Count of Verdun, dies in 1594. His only two brothers died in childhood. Passerini does not report the existence of another Count of Verdun who might have participated in the crime. However, as we mentioned earlier, Father Vignon got his information from official sources. We can only suppose that the family archives consulted by Passerini did not care to remember a family member who was a murderer.

On the following day, Thursday October 20, Jean de Levy decides to go hunting with a few friends. His eldest son, Francois de Levy, Baron of Charlus, asked if he can come too. At first, the Count tells him he’d better stay home. Then, not wanting to hurt his feelings, he says Francois can come too. A young page, Joseph Danglars de Bassignac, who is only ten, also joins the hunting party.

The Gadagne send two of their servants to spy and relate the activities of the Count. When Charlus is far enough from his castle, the Gadagne attack him with all their men in an ambush. “Kill them all!” shouts Balthazard, who is galloping ahead of the group, with his two brothers. The young Francois de Levy runs next to his father. So does the little page. A loyal old servant, Isaac Laroze, puts himself in front of the count to protect him with his body. The other friends of Charlus start firing at the assailants, but are soon wounded by them and flee.

“You are going to die!” yells Balthazard charging the count. “Coward of a Gadagne…”, answers Charlus, seeing the great number of attackers. Then, he tells the two children, “Be brave, boys!”

The battle lasts only a few moments. Jean de Levy is a brave and gallant warrior, but he is badly outnumbered and surrounded on all sides. His enemies’ swords and bullets pierce him from all over. He falls in a pool of blood, while the Gadagne and their relatives continue to thrust their blades through his dying body. Francois is still an unexperienced fighter. He manages to block a few blows, but then a sword pierces his stomach and blood begins to flow profusely. He tries to gallop away but falls from his horse. The Gadagne party catches up with him and strike him on the head with their swords till his brains scatter on the grass. Little Joseph carries no weapon. However he is killed too, no one knows by whom. Faithful Isaac is wounded many times and beaten on the head with rifle-stocks, but manages to survive.

When the killing is over, the Gadagne band retreats into the woods. The three brothers have all been wounded in the battle. Balthazard has three wounds and is bleeding heavily. Therefore they decide to stop and rest for a couple of days in the nearby Gadagne castle of Champroux. Champroux is a real fortress, with two draw-bridges, many towers, loop-holes for cannons, and is surrounded by a large lake.

In the meantime, Charlus’s friends inform the police. The bodies of the Count, of Francois, and of the page are carried into the Chapel of the Castle of Poligny, home of the late Count. The priest celebrates the Funeral Mass. The Countess weeps bitterly and almost passes out.. The Chapel Register lays open next to the altar. In it you can read the name of Francois de Levy’s younger brother, Marc de Levy, and of his godparents: Marc de Grivel, and Dame Renee’ de Clausse, wife of Balthazard de Gadagne. Their signatures appear neatly at the bottom of the page. So the Gadagne have killed the man who, less than ten years before, has honored them by asking them to be the godparents of his child. They have also murdered Francois, the older brother of their godson.

It can be said that neither Marc de Grivel nor Renee’ de Clausse are Gadagne. However, they had both long been married to the Gadagne when they were chosen as godparents of Marc de Levy. What Father Vignon, however, does not seem surprised about, is that it seems at least strange and illogical that Jean de Levy considers the Gadagne Klan good enough to be the godparents of his child and then insults them in public as “descendants of an Italian banker”, during the trial over the payment of the tithes!

There is other information that maybe Father Vignon did not know or did not deem important to point out. I myself (Francesco Carloni de Querqui) have discovered it only a few days ago, consulting Roglo. The Gadagne brothers and Jean de Levy have many French ancestors in common, thanks to the several generations of Gadagne who married French wives after their moving to Lyon. So they were many times cousins, even if only 6th or 8th or 10th degree cousin. Before insulting the Gadagne for their “Italian ancestors” Charlus should have remembered that the Gadagne shared with him many of the same French ancestors he had, from some of the most ancient and noble families in France. This might have restrained him from “insulting his cousins” and consequently being murdered together with his son Francois and the young page.

The following morning, the French police surround the castle of Champroux. They ask the Gadagne to surrender, but nobody answers. The drawbridge remains closed and the armed soldiers of the Gadagne can be seen behind the battlements. Therefore Billard, chief of the local police, writes down that the Gadagne are rebels to the King.

Guillaume de Gadagne, Balthazard’s brother, did not want to fight the French police, nor had he ever intended to rebel against the King of France, who was his king and whom he and his brothers had always faithfully served. He only wanted to avenge his family’s honor. So he decided to outsmart the besiegers. From the top of the main tower, he saw a group of policemen checking the entrance to the main draw-bridge, in front of the castle, and a group of mounted nobles, friends of the late Charlus, a bit further back, keeping an eye on the whole lake,

Guillaume kept his men and his relatives put, hiding behind the powerful walls of the castle. Balthazard was slowly recovering. Around three in the afternoon, Guillaume let a servant out with some food and wine for the police. The police had been there since dawn and were hungry and thirsty. They were thankful for the provisions, and ate and drank heartily. When they saw that nothing was happening and that the police were eating, Charlus’s friends decided to go and grab a bite at a nearby village. So they all left.

The evening before, Guillaume had his men dig a large opening in the wall of the castle, on the opposite side of the main entrance. Now he had his servants mount on big, expensive horses, exit from the opening, and ride across the lake, which was shallow in that spot. In those times, servants and poor people rode small, cheap horses. Only nobles and upper-class had big, elegant stallions. So, when a policeman finally caught sight of the horsemen getting out of the lake and galloping into the woods, he was sure it was the Gadagne and their relatives escaping. Therefore he alerted Billard. The head of the police, seeing that the fugitives were riding fast, and were already well ahead of them, told all his men to mount and chase them as fast as they could. He was afraid his superiors would be very angry at him if he let all the murderers flee without reacting. So the castle was completely unguarded.

Then Guillaume had his wounded brothers mounted calm and strong horses, and slowly and peacefully he and the other assassins left Champroux from the main entrance and disappeared in the opposite direction. Friends and relatives helped them get out of France, and they went to Florence, Italy, hometown of their ancestors.

On July 21, 1612, the Great Council of the Court of the Parliament of Paris sentenced Balthazard, Guillaume and Claude Guadagni to death for the murder of Jean de Levy, Count of Charlus, of his son Francois, and of the young Page Joseph Danglard de Bassignac. They were sentenced to have both the upper and the lower part of their arms and legs and their backbone broken on the scaffold prepared on the main square of Paris. Then they would have to remain there, their head forcefully turned towards the Crucifix, “till God decides to take their lives…” They were sentenced in contumacy because they were in Italy. Therefore their portraits were hung and symbolically executed in Place de Greve, in Paris, and in the public squares of Saint-Pierre-le-Moustier, Moulins, and Nevers.

The Gadagne properties were confiscated and sold. Money was given to the families of the victims. A chapel was built on the spot where Charlus and his son were killed. A daily mass for the repose of their souls was ordered to be celebrated perpetually. The castle of Champroux was completely destroyed by order of the Court, and the lake was filled. Fourteen accomplices of the Guadagni brothers were also sentenced to death. However, they were all safe in Florence.

Guillaume resumed his service with the Grand Duke of Tuscany. He eventually died, four years later, of a disease due to the weariness caused by his many military campaigns. Balthazard and Claude lived in exile for nine years. Then, in 1621, the two surviving brothers, their nephew Louis de Grivel, and their accomplices Gilbert de Montgibert, and Jacques d’Anlezy, turned themselves in to the French police in the city of Rouen. Francois de Lesdiguieres, Duke and Marshall of France, advised them to do so.

From the jail of Rouen, Claude wrote the King of France and reminded him of how the Guadagni and their friends had always served him faithfully. He asked the King to pardon them according to the “Privilege de la Fierte” (Privilege of Fierte). Lesdiguieres himself wrote to the King recalling the courage and gallantry of Claude in his service.

The Privilege of Fierte was an old tradition, which allowed the pardon of criminals sentenced to death on the feast of the Ascension. It all started in the year 630, when Archbishop Saint Romain, of Rouen, had to fight a horrible dragon that devoured people and animals. Saint Romain could not find anyone willing to go with him except a criminal, sentenced to death, who obviously was not afraid of losing his life. The two entered the dragon’s cave. With the Sign of the Cross, the Archbishop subdued the monster. He then tied his stole around its neck. Pulling the dragon by the stole, the criminal helped the Archbishop bring the animal back to Rouen. There the dragon was burnt, and its ashes were thrown in the river. Everyone was very happy, and the criminal was pardoned of all his crimes and set free. The King of France, Dagobert, heard about the miracle. It happened on the day of the Feast of the Ascension. The King declared that from then on, in perpetuity, every Feast of the Ascension a murderer could be set free from the prison of Rouen.

Thus in 1621, Balthazard and Claude Guadagni and their three accomplices were granted this privilege. They were sentenced to pay a fine of 72,000 pounds, after which all their properties and domains were returned to them.

At the end of his book “La Vendetta des Gadagne” Father Vignon says, “These exalted Guadagni were extraordinary people…! Originally, they were Italian. They were wealthy patrons of art and literature, brave and noteworthy gentlemen, generous and charitable towards the poor and the downtrodden. However, they risked their life, their reputation, and their fortune to carry out a horrible “vendetta” and to save their honor…”

Even though he was forgiven, it seems that Balthazard preferred to spend his later years at the service of the Duke of Parma, in Italy. He had the command of 1,000 infantry troops divided in 10 companies. They formed the ruler’s special guard. At the head of his troops, Balthazard participated in the war against Spain. Duke Odoardo of Parma was allied with Louis XIII of France (Henry IV’s son). Balthazard did not see the end of the war. In January 1636, he died, of the consequences of his wounds, at Casale del Monferrato.


Before passing to the life of next Gadagne, Francesco Carloni de Querqui wants to add some material on the castle of Champroux sent by its actual owner, Daniel Thuret, a French cousin of the Guadagni. Daniel has introduced us to Roglo, a genealogical database of which he is a collaborator. This has been very useful to adjust and clarify family trees and connections through the centuries, including the ones with Daniel Thuret. Daniel contacted us a few years ago to complete the Guadagni Family tree in Roglo. One of his interests in the Guadagni Family was caused by having inherited the castle of Champroux from his parents. Thanks to the book of Father Vignon and other historical documents found by his ancestors when they bought the castle, he was obviously interested in the bloody drama that happened next to it and in it. I will now copy, with Daniel’s permission, the documents he sent me. As we remember, the castle of Champroux, owned by Balthazard de Gadagne, was located close to where the Count of Charlus was murdered by the Gadagne brothers and relatives in 1611. After the murder, the Gadagne party, some of whom were wounded, sought refuge in Champroux, with its powerful towers and large pond around it. The French police surrounded them there, but Guillaume de Gadagne was able to outsmart them and escape. By order of the King of France, the Gadagne Castle of Champroux was razed “at water level” and the pond was filled with dirt. Daniel Thuret’s ancestor bought the “ruins of the castle” and the large surrounding estate. Daniel is telling us about it.

“While searching a document for my personal researches, I found an article edited by the “Archeological and Historical Researches and Restoration in Pays de Troncais” (quite little and local organization which had mainly been created to make researches in the ruins of the old castle of Champroux, for the account of the present mayor of Lurcy-Levis who recently bought the farm of “Pigsty” that our family sold a few years ago, and which included those ruins of the old chateau of Champroux.

I will try to make a translation, including errors that you will easily correct.

The story of Champroux is connected with that of Lurcy-Levis.

“Ruins of the ancient castle of Champroux:

Nowadays this place is more commonly called “the old castle of Pigsty” because of its proximity with the farm of Pigsty. It is located in the commune of Couleuvre, but all the Lords who succeeded on this stronghold have always born the name of Champroux. This estate used to belong to the Bourbon Family. The Bourbons were the Royal Family of France. Two Kings of France, Henri II of Valois and Henri IV of Bourbon, married Medici Princesses, Caterina de’Medici and Maria de’Medici. As the Medicis are related to the Guadagni, the Royal Family of France became related to the Guadagni thanks to the Medici Queens and their offspring.

Let’s return to the castle of Champroux, which used to belong to Balthazard de Gadagne, who was Baron of Champroux. Proudly situated in the bottom hole of a big landscape, these ruins are worth being visited by archeological amateurs.

The Eastern part is very well preserved, and shows many vaults with keystones, and even machicolations which end at the surface level. We may suppose those were more sewers than fortifications.

This very important and stocky masonry basis is typical of Middle-Ages castles. The internal room distribution is quite visible in both Northern and Eastern sides, although in the open air for many centuries. However, it is impossible to be examined in the Northern part which ends by an earth promontory, sustained by remains of a defense wall where vegetation has kept growing for the only benefit of our white Charollaise cows. Inside staircases still exist, and in such good shape that they seem to have been recently restored.

On the Northern side, the drawbridge faced an elevated landscape. Its former place is easily found owing to the wall of access, as a platform preceding the guards-room. At this place, walls are nine foot thick.

The overall ruins of the castle dominate the meadow surface by a height of 36 feet and width and length of 150 feet North-South and 240 feet East-West.

The situation was very well chosen for the defense: a wide raised plateau on the Northern side was the only access to the castle. In addition to a wide surface of water surrounding it, a natural defense was insured by the small Civrais River, which had been dug for greater depth on the Southern side, and the small Gaise River flowing on the Northern side of the raised path to the drawbridge. The water was held by a long dyke 60 feet wide. Actually the 24 feet wide road from Lurcy-Levis to Saint-Plaisir runs on top of the dyke. The water in the moat between the castle and the dyke was about 18 feet deep. Well supplied by the two aforementioned rivers, it covered a constant surface of 12 acres.

The castle was however “razed at water level” by decision of Parliament as a consequence of the assassination of Jean de Levis, known also by his title of Count of Charlus, by the Gadagne in 1611.

Adele Thuret, Countess of Waldner, (ancestor of our cousin Daniel Thuret and new owner of the castle of Champroux) undertook important research at the beginning of the 19th century in order to find a treasure. Many ancient objects have thus been found: potteries, medals, pieces of armor, and so on. But the “Golden Gander” had vanished during the search…(another tradition said the treasure was a “golden hen with her eggs”, situated between the oak tree and the elm tree).

The most ancient writing about this place is dated March the 12th, 1212:”H…chaplain of Champroux (Campo Petroso was the old Latin name), gave life annuity to Hugues, son of Ermenjart Chardon, based on the tithes of the parishes of Couleuvre, Pouzy and Saint-Plaisir, subject to return to a charity founded at Champroux at the donor’s death.”

In the year 1312, Jean de Baserne is Lord of Champroux: first he married Guicharde de Chouvigny, then Jeanne de Gentes (alias Jantes). Regnaud de Tocy-Baserne, Lord of Chatillons-sur-Marne, was Knight of the Order of the Golden Ecu, as well as Lord of Champroux, from the same family. This order had a Crest similar to that of the Bourbon, as it included the words “Allen and Esperance” on a golden embroidered belt with thistle leaves.

In the year 1438, the de La Porte Family succeeds to the Baserne Family. By a letter dated “from Chastellerault the 20th of April after Easter 1438” and sent only the 5th of December 1438, the Duke of Bourbon gives “faculty and licence to his beloved and faithful squire Jehan de La Porte, named Champeroux, to raise a hostel-fort in an hotel he has in the castelny of Aynay and based at Champeroux.”

In the year 1528, Jacques de Gragay is Lord of Champroux.

In the year 1539, it is Guillaume Poyet, who is “Chancellor of France, Lord of Berne and Champroux, depending from the big burg and village called Couleuvre, and on the way between our towns of Bourges and Moulins, one of the busiest roads of our kingdom”.

In the year 1570, his son Elie Poyet succeeds to his father as Lord of Champoux.

In the year 1571, Charles de Gadaigne, descending from Florentine merchants, also Lord of Beauregard, buys Champroux and its castle. He was one of the murderers of Jean de Levis. [However, according to Edouard Lejeune “La Saga Lyonnaise des Gadagne” Editions Lyonnaises d’Art et d’Histoire, Mars 2004, and Louis Vignon [VIGNON L., above mentioned work, T.1, page 327] it is Thomas III de Gadagne who purchases the barony of Champroux, in the parish of Couleuvres, in 1571. The barony includes farmland and a powerful XIII century castle, surrounded by a large pond, with a drawbridge, interior courtyard, strong towers and dungeon. He also acquires the seigneury of Aureil and the closeby property and castle of Montverin.

Thomas III did not participate in the murder of Jean de Levis (1611) because he died in 1594. We have no trace of the aforementioned Charles de Gadaigne, as owner of Champroux or of Beauregard, or of belonging to the French Gadagne Family. Beauregard was inherited by Thomas III de Gadagne from his uncle.]

In the year 1610, Balthazard, son of Charles Gadaigne, becomes Lord of Champroux. He was one of the murderers of Jean de Levis. [According to Edouard Lejeune, Vignon, Passerini and other family historians, including Family Archives, Balthazard was instead the son of Thomas III de Gadagne. However, it is correct that he participated in the murder of Jean de Levis, aka Count of Charlus.]

In the year 1618, Diane de Daillon du Lude, Jean de Levis’s widow, buys the estate of Champroux, on which the castle had been razed after confiscation of all the Gadagne estates in France. Part of the chain of the drawbridge was preserved and still exists in the Levis collections.

From then on begins the creation of the very big estate attached to that of Levy. Diane buys Avreuil estate, from which most parts are still there from the Middle-Ages on.”

Here is another shorter document of Daniel Thuret on the castle of Champroux and on the Count of Levis (or Levy as I spell it).

“The chateau of Champroux was also defended by two feudal wooden castles, which dominated the main Champroux castle, situated quite beneath their level. Those two castles are now of course destroyed, but their former emplacements are still visible today. One is at Buchepot, in our forest of Champroux, where I had cut off timber this year, and where lumberjacks got stuck in the deep ditches, which still form a very large circle in the forest; and the other on the opposite hill, still in a forest that belongs to my cousin, the Count Philippe du Vivier de Fay Solignac, presenting the same ditch in a large circle, where we used to attack wild boars which love this place…Those two castles had an important strategic role during the Middle Ages for preserving people and cattle from pillage when Saracen enemies (aka Arabs) came to invade the place.

As to Count Jean de Levis, he was a rather obnoxious person, rather proud of himself, and quite haughty towards the Gadagne who were treated as “new rich”. [In Florence instead, where the Guadagni Family started 5 centuries earlier, the Guadagni were officially listed among the “nobles” i.e. “old rich” by the Government of Florence since the 1400s] Such discredit towards the “new rich”was rather commonplace in France (and also in other Catholic countries) where money was considered as evil or capital sin. Kings and princes used to borrow money for their wars and even common expenses, and most of the time did not pay it back, preferring the help of religion to murder or exile their creditors and so to justify their dishonesty. Most Jewish bankers and other big merchants like the Medici have suffered from such behavior. Nobility was mainly a question of arms: France made a big difference between the so-called nobility of sword, of military origin, as opposed to nobility of robe, formed by bourgeois who were ennobled thanks to the functions they exercised or offices they bought most of the times.

Jean Louis de Levis, who was murdered by the “vendetta des Gadagne” descended from Guy the 1st de Levis, Marshal for Faith, who participated in the Crusade against the Albigeois, and from Guy the 3rd de Levis, Marshal for Faith, who participated in the 8th Crusade…How can it be compared?..!...

Things do not change much nowadays all over the world, and most reactions of ostracism find their roots in quite mean envy or jealousy reactions.”

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Claude de Gadagne is born in 1573. He is lord of Beauregard, Laye, Oullins, Charly, Pravieux, and all the properties around St-Genis-Laval inherited from his father. He marries Eleonore de Coligny on July 15, 1604, at Saligny-en-Bourbonnais. Eleonore is the daughter of the Lieutenant General of the King for the province and Francoise de Saint-Geran. Francoise belongs to an old family of the region. They will have four daughters: Anne, Jeanne, Gabrielle and Claudine.

He is called “the Cadet (younger brother) of Beauregard”. In 1605, he invites the Recollect Fathers to settle in his domain of Laye. He gives them the Saint Catherine Chapel and all the land around it. He sells the rest of the property to Laurent and Barthelemy Scandalaire for 1,500 pounds on August 24, 1606. On October 1, 1608, he sells his Seigneury of Oullins to Nicolas de Regnauld, Counselor of the King to the presidial seat of Lyon. Historian Edouard Lejeune, from whom we get this information, thanks Marquis de Regnauld de Bellescize for having warmly greeted him and allowed to consult his Family Archives on the relations between his ancestors and the Gadagne [LEJEUNE E.,”La Saga Lyonnaise des Gadagne”,page 113].

Claude enlists in the armies of the King of France like Balthazard [PREVOST M., ROMAN d’AMAT, TRIBUT de MOREMBERT H., “Dictionnaire de biographie francaise”, Paris 1980, Fascicule XXXV, pages 15 and 16]. In 1607, he is ensign of the Duke of Nemours. In 1610, under the command of Marshall de Crequi, he is fighting against the troops of the “Queen Mother”, in the Region of Maine. The “Queen Mother” is Marie de’Medici, widow of King Henry IV, and cousin of the Gadagne, as all the Medici are. Now, why is Claude fighting against the Queen Mother and who is he fighting for? The answer to this question is not so important in Claude’s life. If you are not interested in the answer, skip the following eleven paragraphs. I (Francesco Carloni de Querqui) was interested in it and I think that some of the details of the answer, on which I dwell mostly, are fascinating. They were unknown to me before my research.

If we remember, King Henry IV of France was first married to Princess Margaret, daughter of King of France Henry II and his wife Catherine de’Medici, cousin of the Gadagne. The unhappy, childless marriage was annulled in 1599. A year later, King Henry IV married Marie de’Medici, also cousin of the Gadagne. He asked Guillaume I de Gadagne, already aged and sick, to do his best and organize the wedding with Marie in Lyon. King Henry IV and Queen Marie had 6 children. The eldest, Louis, born in 1601, became King of France, as Louis XIII, when his father, King Henry IV, was assassinated in Paris, on May 14, 1610, by a Catholic fanatic, Francois Ravaillac. Ravaillac stabbed King Henry IV to death, while the King’s coach’s progress was stopped by traffic congestion.

King Henry IV was beloved by everybody. One of the reasons was that he guaranteed religious liberties to the Protestants, thus ending the long and bloody French Religion Wars. Another reason was he undertook projects to improve the lives of all his subjects, even the poorest ones. “If God keeps me, he would often say, I will make sure that there is no working man in my kingdom who does not have the means to have a chicken in the pot every Sunday!” Why did Ravaillac kill him? Ravaillac was the son of a violent father, whose many misdeeds were a public scandal and a pious Catholic mother. He was obsessed by religion. In 1606, his application to be admitted in the Jesuit Order was unsuccessful. In 1609, he claimed to have experienced a vision instructing him to convince King Henry IV to convert the French Protestants (also called Huguenots) to Catholicism. Between Pentecost of 1609 and May 1610, he made three separate trips to Paris to tell his vision to the King but was unable to meet him. In Paris, he always lodged with Charlotte du Tillet, mistress of the Duke of Epernon. In the meantime, the King was preparing to invade the (Catholic) Spanish Netherlands. Ravaillac interpreted it as the start of a war against the Pope. Determined to stop him, he decided to kill the King.

On May 14, 1610, Ravaillac lay in wait in Rue de la Ferronnerie, in Paris. When the king passed by, his carriage was suddenly blocked on one side by a cart filled with wine and on the other by a cart filled with hay. Ravaillac climbed on the wheel of the King’s carriage and with a knife trenchant on both sides stabbed him between the second and the third ribs.

Ravaillac was immediately seized by the police to avoid a mob lynching. During interrogation, Ravaillac was frequently tortured to make him identify accomplices. The fact that he was waiting on the spot where the King’s carriage was blocked by two carts seemed suspicious. Was he the executioner of a plot to kill the king? However Ravaillac always insisted that he acted alone. At the start of the interrogation, he said, “I know very well he is dead; I saw the blood on my knife and the place where I hit him. But I have no regrets at all about dying, because I’ve done what I came to do.”

On May 27, he was taken to the Place de Greve in Paris and tortured one last time before being pulled apart by four horses, a method of execution reserved for regicides. Alistair Hornes describes the torture Ravaillac suffered:”Before being drawn and quartered…he was scalded with burning sulphur, molten lead and boiling oil and resin, his flesh then being torn by pincers.” Following his execution, Ravaillac parents were forced into exile, and the rest of the family was ordered never to use the name “Ravaillac” again.

In January 1611, Mrs Jacqueline d’Escoman, who had known Ravaillac, denounced the Duke of Epernon as the one responsible for the death of Henry IV; she was jailed for the rest of her life. In 1957, French author Philippe Erlanger reveals the Duke of Epernon’s association with Ravaillac through his mistress Charlotte du Tillet. He concludes that Epernon, his mistress Charlotte, and King Henry IV’s mistress Catherine Henriette de Balzac d’Entragues planned the assassination. On the other hand, in 1964, historian Roland Mousnier writes that Ravaillac had no accomplices but his confessors:”Almost up to the time of the assassination he continued to consult with clerics, a risky and ambivalent behavior which invited discovery and prevention, and at the same time precluded both.”

King Henry IV was buried in the Basilica of St. Denis, in Paris. During the French Revolution, in 1793, the revolutionaries desecrated his grave and his head was lost. For 217 years, an embalmed head, reputed to be that of King Henry IV, was passed among private collectors. In January 2010, only two years ago, French journalist Stephane Gabet followed leads to track down the head in the attic of a retired tax collector, Jacques Bellanger. According to Gabet, a couple purchased the head at a Paris auction in the early 1900s. Bellanger bought it from the wife in 1955. In 2010, a multidisciplinary team led by Philippe Charlier, a forensic medical examiner, confirmed it was the lost head of King Henry IV, using a combination of anthropological, paleopathological, radiological and forensic techniques. The head had a light brown color and excellent preservation.

A lesion just above the nostril, a hole in the right earlobe indicating a long-term use of an earring, and a healed facial wound, which Henry IV would have received from a previous assassination attempt by Jean Chatel, in 1594, were among the identifying factors. Radiocarbon dating gave a date of between 1450 and 1650, which fits the year of Henry IV’s death, 1610. Bellanger donated the King’s head to Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou, who was the oldest living descendant of the King. France has been a Republic since 1870, so the descendants of the Kings are now only private citizens like everybody else. However they are still a very important family in France (and they are cousins of the Guadagni through Marie de’Medici, from whom they all descend). Anjou decided to put his ancestor’s head in the tomb where the rest of the body was buried in St Denis Basilica. So after a national Mass and funerals in 2011 the complete body of King Henry IV was buried again, 401 years after Ravaillac killed him.

Let’s go back to the Queen Mother, Marie de’Medici, and why was Claude de Gadagne fighting against her?

The marriage between Marie de’Medici and Henry IV was not a successful one. The Queen feuded with Henry’s mistresses in a language that shocked French courtiers. She quarreled mostly with her husband’s leading mistress, Catherine Henriette de Balzac d’Entragues. King Henry IV had promised he would marry Catherine after the death of his former “official mistress”, Gabrielle d’Estrees. When he failed to do so, and instead married Marie de’Medici, who brought him a huge dowry, the result was constant bickering and political intrigues behind the scenes. Although the King could have easily banished his mistress, supporting his queen, he never did so. The Queen, in turn, showed great sympathy and support to her husband’s banished ex-wife Princess Margaret (daughter of Catherine de’Medici), prompting Henry to allow her back into the realm.

Marie de’Medici was crowned Queen of France on May 13, 1610, a day before her husband’s death. Hours after Henry IV’s assassination, she was confirmerd as regent by the Parliament of Paris, as her oldest son, future King Louis XIII, was only nine years old. She immediately banished Henry’s mistress, Catherine Henriette de Balzac d’Entragues from the court.

“During her husband’s lifetime Marie de’Medici showed little sign of political acumen, and her abilities scarcely improved after she assumed the regency. She was extremely stubborn and of limited intelligence “, states Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. She was soon entirely under the influence of her maid Leonora Galigai Dori. Dori conspired with her unscrupulous Italian husband, Concino Concini. The Queen made Concini Marshal of France, even though he had never fought a battle.

The Concinis had Henry IV’s able minister, the Duke of Sully, dismissed. Italian representatives of the Roman Catholic Church hoped to force the suppression of Protestantism in France through the influence of the Concinis. Queen Marie also abandoned the traditional anti-Spain and Holy Roman Empire French policy, by arranging the marriage of her daughter Elizabeth to the future King Philip IV of Spain. She also undertook the construction and furnishing of the grandiose Luxembourg Palace, which she referred to as her “Medici Palace”.

Under the regent’s lax and capricious rule, the relatives of late King Henry IV and the high nobility of France revolted. Claude de Gadagne sided with them. He was wounded during the military campaign against the army of the “Queen Mother” (Marie de’Medici). Then, in 1611, the Count of Charlus was murdered and Claude, his brothers and cousins, went to Florence in exile.

Claude’s wife, Eleonore de Coligny, remained in France during her husband’s exile. She was able to obtain separate maintenance of their assets, from the tribunal or Moulins, on November 7, 1611. However, she was still very much in love with him. Daringly, now and then, Claude would come back to Charly and during that period, Eleonore bore him two daughters, Jeanne in 1614, and Claudine in 1615. In the last three years of his exile, Claude often reappeared publicly in France. On January 20, 1618, he appeared at the Baptism of his godson Claude Bergier in the church of Saint-Genis-Laval. He signed his name at the parish register. He would often sign simply as “Beauregard” instead of “Claude de Gadagne, cadet of Beauregard”. Beauregard has always been the favorite French castle of the Gadagne. He returned for the Baptism of Claude Camet, on April 25 of the same year. He was there again on August 11, 1619, and on November 11, 1619, for the Baptisms of Claudine de Laforet and of Claude Pignard, all of whom were his godchildren. He signed the register every time. The villagers did not denounce him and the police did not bother him.

When in 1622, Claude is granted the Privilege of the Ferte” and is able to return to France as a free man, like his brother Balthazard, he finds his patrimony greatly reduced. His income from the “noble allowances” of the large and small Privas was granted to the Canons of Saint-Just on August 22, 1617. His seigneury of Charly was allotted to Luc de Seve, for 30,000 pounds, on February 5, 1619. So, not considering Pravieux, which he will sell to Jacques de Pures in 1627, he is only left with the seigneurys of Laye and Beauregard in Saint-Genis-Laval.

However, his largely reduced income does not diminish in any way his courage and gallantry. As soon as he is a “free man”, he immediately distinguishes himself in the service of the King of France. As “ensign and military flag bearer of his company”, he fights in Italy, until 1626, under the command of marshal de Lesdiguieres, who had helped him obtain the “Privilege of the Reliquary”. When he returns to Lyon, to be a witness to the wedding of his cousin Anne de Gadagne with Godefroy de la Guiche, on August 15, 1626, he is appointed captain of a company of light cavalry, soon numbering 600 horsemen.

In 1628 Claude participates in the siege of the Protestant stronghold of La Rochelle. After King Henry IV’s murder, his son, King Louis XIII, tried to reintroduce Catholicism in mainly Protestant Southwestern France. This prompted a Huguenot (French Protestant) revolt. By the peace of Montpellier in 1622, the fortified Protestant towns in France were reduced to two: La Rochelle and Montauban. Another war followed, which concluded with the Siege of La Rochelle, a harbor on the French Atlantic Coast, in which royal forces, among whom was Claude de Gadagne, blockaded the city for fourteen months. On March 9, 1628, Claude distinguishes himself in an exceptionally daring undertaking aiming at blowing up the gate which allowed the access to the Ocean from the Maubec door [PREVOST M., ROMAN d’AMAT, TRIBUT de MOREMBERT H. above mentioned work, booklet LXXXV, pages 15-16] As a reward for his toil, Claude received the Collar of the Order of Saint Michael, and he was made Captain of a Company of Cavalrymen, later head of 600 horsemen, and finally Field Marshall.
I (Francesco Carloni de Querqui) will introduce a personal detail in the story of the Siege of La Rochelle. My maternal grandparents were Bernardo Guadagni, Catholic Florentine, and Madeleine Querqui, French Huguenot. My direct ancestor, Andre’ Querqui, lord of Chadeau,1589-1662, married Catherine Huillard, born in 1600, on November 7, 1620, in La Rochelle, 8 years before the beginning of the siege. His sister, Jeanne Querqui,
married Jehan (John) Regreny, doctor in medicine, of La Rochelle, by “contract” (I presume a “Protestant form of marriage”?), on May 24, 1618, in La Rochelle, 10 years before the siege. Andre’ was a lawyer in Paris, where he was born and eventually died. Did he leave La Rochelle before the King’s army started the siege? I do not know. However, his brother-in-law, Jehan Regreny, a Huguenot, from La Rochelle, problaby stayed and defended his native town. Did Jeanne remain there too?

Anyhow, it is interesting for me to think that one of my grandfather’s family, Claude de Gadagne, attacked the town where probably more than one of my grandmother’s family lived and fought on the city walls to repel the assaults of the King’s troops, during fourteen months. Did Claude ever face a Querqui or Jehan Regreny in a personal combat during the long siege? Did they ever guess that their families would one day be united in matrimony?

On July 24, 1632, Claude is promoted “aide-de-camp” of Marshal de Schomberg. In the meantime, King’s Louis XIII’s younger brother, Gaston, Duke of Orleans, rebels against the King’s chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu, and tries to start a nation wide revolt. Gaston’s friend, Marshal Duke Henry de Montmorency, Governor of Languedoc and Viceroy of New France (Quebec), raises an army of 6,000 soldiers and marches against Richelieu. Negotiations fail between the two forces. Schomberg with Claude and his troops, faithful to the King, marches against Montmorency. The two armies face one another at Castelnaudary on September 1, 1632. Schomberg has between 2,000 and 2,500 well trained troops. Many of Montmorency’s soldiers have deserted him. He is left with a little over 1,000 nobles, not well organized. The battle lasts only half an hour. Montmorency leads a surprise charge into the royal camp at the head of a few horsemen. He cuts his way through six ranks of infantry amidst a continued shower of shots and fights against overwhelming numbers. Claude gallops towards him and tries to stop him. Claude is wounded, but does not give up. Eventually Montmorency’s horse drops dead and Claude and his soldiers are able to capture him.

For his participation in the capture of Montmorency, King Louis XIII gives Claude a pension of 3,000 pounds. On May 1634, from his castle of Fontainebleau, the Kings sends Claude an official declaration of forgiveness which goes into effect on July 14 of the same year. This declaration completely rehabilitates Claude de Gadagne, allows him to get back the part of his goods not yet auctioned or allotted to somebody else, definitely fixes the amount of money Claude must pay to the victims’ families to 32,000 pounds, which he is able to pay quickly, and allows him to publicly appear at the King’s Court again. This could be the reason why the story of the murder of the Count of Charlus by the Gadagne in 1611 disappeared from France’s official history and was only casually discovered by Father Vignon in 1974, 363 years later.

Back in Saint-Genis-Laval, Claude generously gives the Recollects Fathers subsidies for the construction of a new Saint Catherine Chapel. The first stone is laid down on June 9, 1634. After that, Claude leaves with Marshal de Breze’ and Gaspard de Chatillon for a military campaign against the Spanish Netherlands. In the battle of Avein, on May 20, 1635, between the French and the Spaniards, the Spanish army, inferior in numbers, is surrounded and completely defeated in just a few hours. Some 5,000 Spanish are killed or wounded, 1,500 captured and the rest scattered. Claude is wounded in the battle.

While he is still recovering, French Prime Minister Cardinal Richelieu sends him to Germany to recruit an important Protestant cavalry force to fight the Spaniards. In 1637, Claude is promoted lieutenant-colonel in the regiment of Rebe’. On April 2, 1637, under the command of the Duke of Longueville, he distinguishes himself in the victorious attack and destruction of the Castle of Chevreaux, in Spanish Franche-Comte’. In 1638, he is able to capture an important quantity of Spanish supplies, during the Lorraine campaign. In 1639, in the army of Count d’Harcourt, he is noticed for his courage and efficiency in the battle of la Rouge of Santena, in Piedmont.

On April 5, 1640, Claude is seen for the last time in Lyon, for the Baptism of Alexandre Carret, son of a merchant of the city. In 1641, he is promoted Field-Marshal. A shortwhile later, on March 15, 1641, he dies at Juvisy-sur-Orge, near Paris. Claude’s body is placed in a lead coffin, enclosed in a second coffin made of oak. However, beforehand, his heart is removed by a surgeon and put in a lead box shaped as a heart. This box is seven inches wide. No inscription is put on it. The box is placed between the two coffins. His body is transported to Saint-Genis-Laval and buried in the chapel of Saint-Catherine, according to his will. On February 14, 1792, his body is solemnly taken to the crypt of the Parish church of Saint-Genis-Laval. On his coffin, there is a plate with the following inscription:”Here lies the body of the high-ranking and powerful lord sire Claude de Gadagne, knight and lord of Beauregard and other sites, counsellor of the King in his Councils, field commander of a cavalry regiment personally financed by him for His Majesty’s service, who passed away in the town of Juvisy, near Paris, on March 15, 1641. Pray God for him.”

In “The lost tomb of Claude de Gadagne”, L’Araire, #130, pages 33-36, historian Yves Pellet writes how nowadays no trace of Claude’s coffin can be found in the church of Saint-Genis-Laval. The church itself was subject to many changes since 1792. Pellet thinks that the coffin could still be located in an inaccessible part of the crypt.

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Guillaume II de Gadagne, son of Thomas, is born in 1575. As the youngest son, his parents want him to become a priest, so they send him to be educated in the seminary of Tournon. However, Guillaume prefers a military career. He runs away from the seminary in 1587, when he is twelve. He wants to participate in the war in Burgundy. He sells the few personal objects he has taken with him in his flight in order to have a bit of money to survive. He goes and tries to enlist in the French camp. However, he is so young that the soldiers refuse to accept his request. Instead they beat him up and steal his money. At this point, Guillaume reluctantly asks to see the Lord of Grossouvre, who is his brother-in-law and one of the officers of the camp. Grossouvre takes care of him and tells his parents about it. At this point his parents resign themselves to his becoming a military like his brothers and his cousin Gaspard. They prefer him to learn the military arts in a calmer area, and they have him sent to a garrison station at the borders of the Duchy of Savoy. Later on, he becomes a cornet-player in the brigade of the Marquis of Saint Geran, Governor of the Bourbonnais. The Marquis is a relative of his, through his brother Claude’s mother-in-law, who is a de la Guiche-de Saint Geran.

When Guillaume is seventeen, his father sends him with his brother, Balthazard, and his cousin Gaspard to the court of the Grand-Duke of Florence to perfectionate his knowledge of military arts. Florence’s Grand-Duke Ferdinando I’s wife is French Princess Christine de Lorraine, whom the Gadagne hosted three years before at Beauregard on her way to Florence to marry Ferdinando. The marriage itself between Christine and Ferdinando was organized by their cousin Abbot Giovambattista Guadagni.

Balthazard and Gaspard stop in Florence as planned. Guillaume instead goes on to Malta (a small island between Southern Italy and Africa), where he becomes Knight of Saint John. For a whole year, he stays in Malta to complete his novitiate as a knight. Afterwards, he returns to Florence, where he joins Baltazard and Gaspard. Together the three young Gadagne return to France.

He is almost killed on December 12, 1594, while he is fighting bravely side-by-side with his cousin Gaspard, agains the “Ligueurs”. When Gaspard is killed in the battle, Guillaume, who has been at his sides until the end, barely manages to escape. We find him again participating in the Burgundy campaign, under Marshal de Biron, where he is noticed for his courage in battle.

Nevertheless it is abroad that Guillaume II’s military career is going to bloom. It soon looks very brilliant indeed. In 1598, he returns to Malta. He is immediately appointed head of the cavalry of the whole island. When the Turks attack the island, in great numbers, he is the one who saves it. The Turkish Captain Pasha has already disembarked with 2,000 troops. Relentlessly, Guillaume leads his cavalrymen against the Turks, even though they outnumber him many times. Finally, the Pasha gives the order to re-embark on the galleys, leaving many of his men dead or injured on the island.
At the end of 1599, Guillaume is appointed Captain of the man-of-war San Giorgio. In July of the following year, his galley and others of the Order of the Knights of St. John join the fleets of Naples and Sicily to attempt and conquer Tripoli, an important city on the coast of Africa. In that period war is raging between the Turks and the Western European countries. The Turks conquered Constantinople one and a half century earlier and put an end to the Eastern Roman Empire. Constantinople was later renamed Istanbul. Afterwards, the Turks conquered North Africa and a good part of Eastern Europe. They now threaten to subdue all of Europe, starting with the small Italian states that are on the borders of their empire. Sometimes the Western Europeans counterattack and this is what they are doing now.

Guillaume is asked to start the attack on Tripoli by destroying the gate of the fortress with his cannons. The historian of the Order of the Knights of St. John quotes Guillaume as being an expert in this sort of things. However, it is of no use, because the inhabitants of Tripoli are well prepared and organized to defend themselves. The allied fleet breaks up and scatters and Brother Guillaume returns to Malta with his galley. (The author refers to Guillaume as “brother” Guillaume because Guillaume is a Knight of the Order of St. John, which is a religious order).

From Malta, Guillaume is immediately sent to Tuscany, where he has the honor to escort Maria de’Medici to Marseilles, on her way to Lyon to marry King Henry IV of France.

Later he participates with his galley in the expedition of 1601. He is the main factor in the conquest of Neocastro also known as Castelnuovo. His cannons destroy the city gate, thus allowing his troops to storm the town.

In 1602, Guillaume is sent to Naples, and then to Genoa, to assist the King of Spain. The King has requested the help of the fleet of Malta, because he fears some enemy attack. When his fears prove unfounded, the fleet returns to Malta. At that time the island of Malta belonged to the Order of the Knights of St. John, also known as the Knights of Malta. Gadagne was just back in the harbor when on August 4, he is asked to lead the artillery in the surprise attack on a Muslim town (not specified by the author) on the coast of Algeria. He is able to destroy two gates. Through these openings, the Knights of Malta gallop into the city. Guillaume, however, is wounded in the battle. Furthermore, he loses many of his men, due to the desperate defense of the inhabitants of the African town. Irritated by their losses, the knights plunder the city and punish its inhabitants with extreme cruelty. In the end, they burn the city and destroy it completely.

After this event, Guillaume leaves the religious order and goes and serves the Grand Duke of Tuscany (a Medici), who has requested his service. He is appointed Commander of four galleys of the Order of Santo Stefano and of the artillery of the fleet. In the campaign of 1604, he attacks the Turkish city of Aklibia, in the Gulf of Kharaman. Directing his artillery fire with good aim, he is able to prepare the conquest of the town by his men. He captures eleven enemy men-of-war and 35 bronze cannons. For eight days he rules Aklibia, then he boards his ships and leaves. However, those eight days in Aklibia almost cost him his life. The Turks put poison in the town’s water and many of his soldiers die. Guillaume himself is very sick, and a counter-poison barely saves his life. He is ill for a long time as a consequence of that incident.

After having finally recovered, two years later, he sets sail in the service of Admiral Inghirami. Inghirami attacks the Turkish town of Namur. On the night of May 31, the Admiral himself leads the attack. However, the town is well armed and protected by strong bastions and the Turks put up a desperate defense. Gadagne then bombards the enemy relentlessly, until they are forced to surrender. Inghirami allows his troops to plunder the unfortunate city. Eight big cannons are taken and over 400 inhabitants are taken away in shackles as slaves.

A few days later, on June 4, Inghirami’s troops attack the fortress of Fineca, in the province of Satalieh. Again, Guillaume destroys the gates with well aimed artillery shots. Thus, the soldiers enter the fortress easily. However, once inside the enemy walls, they find the Turks bravely defending themselves to the last man. They all have to be killed, because they prefer death to surrender. The knights can capture only women and children. After the bloody conquest, the knights set the town ablaze and board their ships. They return immediately to Leghorn (Livorno).

Much more noteworthy is the expedition of the following year against the town of Bona, once called Hippo (town of which Saint Augustine was Bishop in Roman times), in North Africa. The fleet of the Knights of Santo Stefano set sail from Leghorn on August 31, 1607. On September 15 they arrive in front of Bona. Guillaume is in command of 5 galleys, loaded with 2,000 men and all the cannons. When they arrive on the beach, Guillaume is asked to lead the first attack on the enemy fortress, which is located outside the town itself. The Turks are well prepared to defend themselves and are well armed. Their defense is very obstinate. Their captain refuses to surrender. Finally Guillaume’s troops have to kill the Turkish officer so that the remaining enemies will stop fighting. In the meantime, the other troops of the knights conquer the city. It is a complete victory. They capture 2,000 slaves and 16 flags.

Father Louis Vignon, author of “La Vendetta des Gadagne” (“The vengeance of the Guadagni”), provides a detailed report of the capture of Bona in his book Annales d’un village de France CHARLY-VERNAISON EN LYONNAIS, Volume I, 1150-1610”, (CHARLY, 69390 VERNAISON) History of a village in France CHARLY-VERNAISON near, Lyon, 1st Volume, 1150-1610.
“Guillaume de Gadagne (in France the Guadagni surname soon became de Guadagne and finally Gadagne or de Gadagne) was the brother of Claude de Gadagne, Lord of Charly. Guillaume was known as the Knight of Beauregard, because he was the youngest of the Guadagni brothers, and was raised in the castle of Beauregard, in Saint-Genis-Laval. Guillaume enlisted to serve the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando I de’ Medici, in the sea warfare against the Moors or the Turks.

At that time, the fleet of the Grand Duke of Tuscany was the most experienced in sea warfare and the fiercest opponent of the Turks. The Tuscans had ten galleys and also a squadron of round ships, called “bertoni,” used for transporting troops as well as for attacking other ships. The galleys had the flag of the Grand Duke and of the Order of Santo Stefano. The bertoni flew the flag of the Grand Duchess. The French and the English commanders of the Tuscan ships aroused a desire for glory in the Italian sailors far superior to the satisfaction of beating the Moorish pirates.

In 1607, Grand Duke Ferdinando decided to attempt a naval expedition and storm the city of Bona, on the Barbary Coast (Algeria), by surprise. Bona was a stronghold of the pirates who used to attack the Italian coasts.

To organize the expedition, the Grand Duke called one of the most famous generals of his time, Silvio Piccolomini of Siena. Piccolomini assembled two thousand soldiers and a large number of mercenaries looking for glory.

One of the commanders of the fleet was the brave Admiral Iacopo Inghirami, who commanded nine galleys. The French Knight Guillaume Guadagni of Beauregard was the commander of five well armed bertoni. Reverend Father Giovanni del Bosco, of the Order of the Celestins, joined them. He was a learned man and very devout, ready to assist the dying soldiers in the moment of need.

They embarked on their fourteen ships and sailed from Leghorn, on August 30, 1607. Even though the goal of the expedition was secret, the inhabitants of Bona heard about it and prepared for the defense.

The Tuscans disembarked on the Barbary Coast and marched towards Bona. Knight Guadagni of Beauregard marched ahead of the whole army, followed by his faithful soldiers. His Most Serene Highness the Grand Duke of Tuscany himself had given Guillaume the order to lead the attack on the fortress which barred the road to the City of Bona. Guillaume had five hundred men with him.

The Guadagni soldiers were able to storm the walls of the fortress, thus allowing the other troops to penetrate inside the city.

While the Tuscans were easily conquering the whole city, Knight Guadagni was fighting with his customary valor in the fortress. He and his men had to fight for every square inch of the fortress till they finally subdued it. Then Guillaume had all the enemy cannons thrown over the walls and destroyed the ammunitions. He was ordered to save five Moorish cannons, so he loaded them on his ships as a trophy. He also embarked fifteen hundred prisoners as slaves. Upon hearing that Moorish reinforcements were on their way, the men of the small Guadagni army got back on board of their ships, orderly, flying their flags and playing on their drums, as though they were marching in Florence. In the meantime, the enemy cavalry arrived but did not attack, impressed by the calm countenance and valor of Guillaume’s soldiers. The Knight of Beauregard was the last to go back, proudly, on his vessel.

Having thus happily ended their conquest and plunder of the enemy city, the Tuscans sailed back to Leghorn, where they arrived on September 27, flying their flags and shooting their cannons and muskets in sign of victory. In the Cathedral of Florence, a “Te Deum” was sung to thank God for the victory. A grandiose fresco, representing the conquest of Bona, was painted in one of the halls of Palazzo Vecchio, in Florence, by the famous Renaissance artist Vasari. You can still admire it in its splendor, nowadays.

(“Diario of Francesco Settimani,” (“Journal of Francesco Settimani”) manuscript, State Archives, Florence; “Lettre de Silvio Piccolomini au Grand Duc de Toscane,” (“Letter of Silvio Piccolomini to the Grand-Duke of Tuscany”) dated September 26, 1607; Riguccio Galluzzi, Istoria di Toscana (“History of Tuscany”), Book V, Chapter XI, page 88; Gino Guarnieri, Origine e Sviluppo del Porto di Livorno (“Origin and development of the harbor of Leghorn”) page 82.)

In 1608, Guillaume was commanding 6 galleys and 11 men-of-war, when he encountered the whole Turkish fleet, consisting of 45 galleys. In spite of being heavily outnumbered, he was able to maneuver his ships and shoot his artillery so well that in a short time he routed the enemy.

In his book Annales d’un village de France CHARLY-VERNAISON EN LYONNAIS, Volume I, 1150-1610, Father Vignon gives us a more detailed report of Guillaume’s victory against the Turks.

“Following his victorious expedition against the City of Bona [in August 1607], the Knight of Beauregard, Guillaume de Gadagne [brother of Claude de Gadagne, Lord of Charly], was promoted “General of the Galleys of the Grand Duke of Tuscany”, because of his merits and skill as a commander.

In 1608, Grand Duke Ferdinando had in mind to help the rebellion of Emir Faccardino (the great Emir of the Druses) against the Turks. He also wanted to encourage the Syrian rebels by sending an important expedition of troops to help them. For some time, Ferdinando had already provided the rebels with artillery and ammunition, and his fleet was protecting the Coast of Syria against the Turks. However, such operations required large amounts of weaponry and ammunition and considerable expenses [It should be recalled that the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was the size of five or six counties of Colorado, while the Turkish Empire included all of Northern Africa, all of the Middle East, and all of South Eastern Europe]. So the Grand Duke decided that the best way to find the money to pay back his expenses was to loot gold and booty from the enemy.

For this new expedition, Grand Duke Ferdinando gave the command of the Tuscan troops to Knight Leoncini, and of the fleet to General Guillaume de Gadagne, Knight of Beauregard.

The Tuscan fleet, flying the flag of the Grand Duchess [French Princess Christine of Lorraine, who, a few years before, on her way to Florence, had spent the night in the castle of Beauregard, guest of Thomas de Gadagne, Guillaume’s father] was composed of two “bertoni” and six galleys. One of the galleys was the famous San Giovanni Battista, others were called Santa Cristina, Livorno, Capitana…

The ships left Livorno on February 6, 1608. While they were navigating in the eastern Mediterranean, sometime in October, close to the island of Tarsus, they sighted the Armata (large fleet) of Rais Amurat, composed of seventeen galleys. However, as soon as the Turks saw the Tuscan ships, the Armata fled.

Close to the Island of Rhodes, Guillame’s fleet captured many small enemy ships which were sailing in the area,

Questioning his prisoners, Guillaume learned that a large Turkish fleet, carrying gold and other worthy merchandise, was sailing nearby, going from Alexandria, in Egypt, to Constantinople. This fleet, he heard, was composed of forty ships, three of which were large galleys. Wanting to intercept the enemy fleet, the Knight of Beauregard sailed quickly towards them. On October 20, at night, between Cape Chelidonius and the Island of Rhodes, Guillaume sighted the enemy. Taking advantage of the darkness, he quickly attacked the ships that were sailing far from the main body of the fleet, and was even able to separate the Turkish forces from one another.

After having captured the smaller boats that were trailing behind, he attacked the three large galleys. One of the galleys was able to take refuge at the island of Rhodes, the other two tried to escape. When the Tuscans caught up with them, they defended themselves bravely and for many hours, but they had to surrender at last. At this point, the other smaller ships panicked and fled in disorder. It was easy for Guillaume’s men to capture many of them.

Thus, in the naval battle, the Tuscans took nine Turkish ships. They also captured seven hundred slaves, without including the much higher number of Turks who were killed in the combat.

The booty was immense, in jewels, silver, and precious commodities from India. Grand Duke Ferdinando wrote King Henry IV of France (who had married his niece Maria de’ Medici, escorted by Guillaume de Gadagne when she went to France by sea) that the loot was worth more than two million ducats, a huge amount for the time. Public opinion even increased this amount, also because there were many important captives among the prisoners who had to pay large amounts of money to be freed. The Tuscan fleet had never won such a victory. It was the first time in forty years that the Turkish treasure fleet had been attacked by Christian forces…

General de Gadagne returned to Livorno with his men, his 700 slaves and his fabulous loot. Triumphally, he offered the best of his booty to Grand Duke Ferdinando, who was very pleased and happy about it (also because the French and Spanish were jealous of it).”

(Istoria di Toscana, Riguccio Galluzzi, book V, chapter XI, pages 102-104; Istoria di Faccardino, Giovanni Mariti, (Leghorn, 1787) page 73; “Diario di Francesco Settimani,” State Archive of Firenze-Settimani, October 21, 1608.)

Later on, Guillaume tried to attack the fortress of Laia. However, he found the fortress so well fortified, that he preferred to set sail back home.

In the meantime the Grand Duke Ferdinando dei Medici had died and Inghirami had lost his position as admiral. So, Guillaume took leave to go back home, in France, and take care of his properties. However, he promised he would return and serve in the Tuscan fleet. That is why he would not accept the generous offer of King Henry IV of France who wanted him to serve in the French navy.

In August 1610, at the head of his galleys, Guillaume was sailing eastward. Suddenly, he encountered 23 Turkish galleys. He was greatly outnumbered, but he attacked immediately. The battle lasted many hours. At the end, the enemy was totally defeated. Guillaume even captured the Turkish admiral ship, which was loaded with gold and silver, destined to Constantinople. However, during the trip back, the ship was burnt by treachery, as it seems, by some slaves.

That year, Guillaume fought the Turks in other battles. He did not always win; however, the Tuscan fleet never had many losses. An encounter, which remained famous, was the one close to Capo Bianco, in the island of Cyprus. In it, Guillaume defeated a large Turkish fleet.

Guillaume continued sailing until April 1611, and then sailed back toward the Tuscan shores. On his way there, he stopped at the island of Malta, where the knights greeted him with great honor. In October 1611, Guillaume returned to France. Together with his brothers, Balthazar and Claude, and other relatives, he did something perhaps not as glorious as his other exploits. He murdered the Count of Charlus, an unpleasant French neighbor, who had insulted the Guadagni family. The Court of the Parliament of Paris sentenced him to death for it. However, he escaped to Italy and continued his military career there. In 1613, he was military field adviser of Prince Don Francesco de’ Medici. The Prince was helping the Duke of Mantua in his war against the Duke of Savoy for the succession of Monferrato. That war did not register great battles for the Tuscans.

The following year, Guillaume ran to defend Malta, attacked once more by the Turks. The Turks disembarked but were driven back. Guillaume showed such bravery in the battle that he was promoted Marshal for the region of Provence and was assigned the Great Cross. Grand Duke Cosimo II had already appointed him General of the Cavalry of the Grand Duchy when, worn out by an illness due to his tiring military life, Guillaume died on October 1, 1615. He was barely 40 years old.

Guillaume never married, maybe because he was a Knight of St. John. However, he had an illegitimate son, whom he named “Gaspard” after his beloved cousin, killed by the “Ligueurs” at his side.


Guillaume had only an illegitimate son and Gaspard was killed before getting married and having any children. So the fifth generation of the French Gadagne will be represented by the children of Balthazard and Claude, again two siblings, like in the third generation. This generation will avoid the horrors and the insecurity of the French Religion Wars. However, they will have to pay the consequences of the murder of the Count of Charlus.


During the eleven years of Claude de Gadagne’s forced exile from France (1611-1622), due to the murder of the Count of Charlus, and after his death in 1641, his wife, Eleonore de Coligny, never gives up fighting to preserve as much as she can of the family patrimony. In 1612, after obtaining the matrimonial division of properties from her husband’s, whose assets were all impounded by the tribunal because of his participation in the killing of Charlus, she does not hesitate to fiercely oppose the intention of the canon-counts of the Chapter of Saint Jean to buy back the domain of Laye, which they had to sell in 1569 to Thomas III de Gadagne for 15,500 pounds because they were unable to pay the mortgage they owed him. Years later, the Chapter will be able to rebuy it anyway, thanks to the intervention of the Parliament. However, Eleonore does not admit defeat. She unexpectedly inherits farmlands and buildings in Sainte-Foy, Oullins. Francheville and Ecully, from a certain Antoine Dausserre, Lord of Planel. She immediately trades them back for Laye from the canon-counts.

She looks very carefully after the revenues and the maintenance of Beauregard. She entrusts the management of it and of Laye to notary Jean Camet. However, in spite of all her efforts, her financial situation gets progressively worse. In 1615, she is taken to court by several creditors, among which are the canon-counts of Lyon, the nuns of the Visitation, and important noble families like the d’Albon, the Camus, the Mascrani or the Saint-Priest. She fears she might be forced to sell even Beauregard but she is able to keep it at least temporarily. All this while Claude is in Italy, and she is alone with two small daughters, Anne who is born sometime between 1605 and 1608, and Jeanne born in 1609. Plus, Claude comes sometimes to see her in France secretely and she gives birth to two more daughters from him, Gabrielle in 1614 and Claudine in 1615.

Thanks to the “Privilege de la Ferte’”, Claude comes back from his exile as a free man in 1622. After a glorious military career at the service of the King of France, he dies in 1641. In 1656, in spite of her obstinacy and her repeated efforts, she cannot stop the canon-counts from getting back the domain of Laye. They had sold it to her in exchange of her inheritance from Dausserre in a sale called in French “a’ remere’, i.e. where the seller has the right to buy it back after a specified deadline for the same price he sold it plus eventual expenses of the buyer. And she will not be able to stop them from putting their crest on the chapel where she buried Claude. Finally, five years later, in 1661, overburneded by debts, she is forced to sell also Beauregard, for 50,000 pounds, to Michel de Fisicat, Chamber gentleman of the King and military with a brilliant career.

With the sale of the castle of Beauregard, the last trace of the benevolent domination of the Gadagne on Saint-Genis-Laval and surrounding area disappears. They have to leave the beautiful ancestral home, which has hosted so many royal and important personalities, and where the children of Claude and Eleonore have grown up. And as their children, Anne, Jeanne, Gabrielle and Claudine are all girls, the Gadagne surname disappears from the region.

Anne de Gadagne will inherit from her father, but with the benefit of the doubt, which shows how the financial situation of the family is already not very brilliant, in 1641, year of Claude’s death. She helps her mother manage the family assets. She will have to go through long and troublesome legal investigations, mostly with the Chapter of Saint Jean. Of Claude and Eleonore’s four daughters, she is the only one to get married. On June 12, 1639, she marries a gentleman from Auvergne, Guillaume de la Queuille, Count of Chateaugay, near Tournoel.

Built in the 14th century, over the ruins of an 11th century fortress, with its high dungeon, the castle of Chateaugay still proudly dominates the neighboring village. At the end of the 15th century, the de La Queuille family enlarges it and adds Renaissance style embellishments mostly to the inside courtyard, transforming it in a Renaissance villa. From the hill on which it is built, you can enjoy the view of the Limagne plain, the mountain range of Puys and the Volvic region with the castle of Tournoel.

Jeanne and Claudine de Gadagne become nuns in the convent of Saint-Pierre –les-Nonnais, in Lyon [Rhone Departm. Archives, 12 G 842, VIGNON L., above mentioned work, t II, page 115].

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Gabrielle, daughter of Claude, was born in 1609. While she was very young, her parents put her in the convent of the “sky-blue” sisters, in Lyon, founded by her father’s cousin, Gabrielle de Gadagne, Countess of Chevriere.

In his book Annales d’un village de France CHARLY-VERNAISON EN LYONNAIS, Volume II, 1610-1715, Louis VIGNON, CHARLY, 69390 VERNAISON, Father Vignon gives us a detailed report on Gabrielle de Gadagne taking Holy Orders at the Convent of Saint-Ursula.

“Dame Gabrielle de Gadagne, daughter of the powerful Knight Claude de Gadagne, Lord of Beauregard, and of Dame Eleonore de Colligny, “after remaining some time as a boarder at the Convent of Saint Ursula of the City of Lyon (in rue Vieille Monnaye), asked her parents to be allowed to satisfy her vow of piety and devotion and take Holy Orders at this convent.” Gabrielle obtained her parents’ permission and became a novice on the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lady, on March 25, 1623. Seven months later, having finished her period of novitiate, according to the rule of Saint Augustine, Gabrielle de Gadagne asked her mother (as her father, Claude de Gadagne, was absent, fighting in the King’s army in Italy under the command of Constable de Lesdiguieres) to allow her to take Holy Orders and to give her whatever dowry she would want. For two years Gabrielle repeated her request to her mother. Finally, seeing how her daughter persevered in her desire, and after having consulted with her husband, Eleonore gave her consent.

This is why, on August 27, 1625, Dame Eleonore de Colligny asked the Mother Superior of the convent, Reverend Dame Sister Renee’ Thomas of All Saints, to allow Gabrielle de Gadagne to take Holy Orders, with the conditions and under the constitution mentioned hereafter. The Reverend Dame Superior gave her consent, in the presence of Master Laurens, Royal Notary in Lyons, assisted by Sister Loyse of the Mother of God, and Sister Suzanne of the Assumption, both nuns at the Convent of Saint Ursula. Thus on this day Gabrielle de Gadagne was accepted as a nun. She promised to spend the rest of her life in humility and obedience, by the grace of God, under the constitution of the order of Saint Augustine (A.D. Rhone, 3 E 6050).

From now on, Gabrielle de Gadagne adopted the religious name of Sister Gabrielle de Jesus (“of Jesus”). Her mother, Eleonore de Colligny, gave her a dowry of 3,000 pounds, which she promised to pay to the Reverend Dame Superior of the convent on Christmas Day of 1628…In the meantime, to guarantee the payment of this sum, Eleonore de Colligny will give the convent the income in land-rental and sharecropping revenues which are due to her from the property of Beauregard [bought by Thomas III de Gadagne], up to the amount of 197 pounds, 13 cents, and 5 tens of cent. Said rights of rent and sharecropping revenues are listed in a parchment, containing 36 pages and ten contracts, which Dame Eleonore de Colligny gave to the Dame Superior of the convent…To help collect the income from these property rights, Master Jehan Camet [Royal Notary and Lieutenant of Saint-Genis-Laval] promises to pay 150 pounds of it per year, for a total of 450 pounds in three years, to the Dame Superior…If by Christmas Day of 1628, Dame of Colligny has not paid the convent the amount of 3,000 pounds, she consents that the abovementioned property rights on the property of Beauregard be transferred forever to the Convent of Saint Ursula…If the abovespecified clause is fulfilled, Sister Gabrielle de Gadagne renounces in favor of her mother to any rights to inherit from her parents, even from the fortune of late Noble Anthoyne D’Auxerre, who left everything to Dame de Colligny…The said contract was written and signed in Lyon, in the parlour of said convent, on August 27, 1625, in the presence of Master Laurens, Notary in Lyon, Master Jehan Camet, Notary and Lieutenant at Saint-Genis-Laval, Sir George Laurens, Priest, Ancelme Carraud, Clerk, Sir Jehan Morant and Sir Claude Leurat, vase maker, required witnesses who signed for the contracting parties. (A.D. Rhone, 3 E 6050).”

Gabrielle de Gadagne became a model of perfection, and an example for all the other nuns to follow. The other nuns forced her to agree to be the Mother Superior of the convent in 1695. On February 25, 1697, she died as a saint. Her life was immediately recounted and published in Lyon in 1699, under the title: Histoire de l’etablissement et du progres du premier monastere des religieuses Annonciades celestes de la ville de Lion, fonde’ par madame Gabrielle de Gadagne comtesse de Chevriere (History of the establishment and of the progress made by the first monastery of sisters of the Annunciation of the city of Lyons. Founded by Madame Gabrielle de Gadagne, Countess of Chevriere).

(Note of Francesco Carloni de Querqui: Historian Edouard Lejeune spells Eleonore’s last name “Coligny” and not “Colligny”like Historian Father Louis Vignon, and “Antoine Dausserre” instead of “Anthoyne D’Auxerre”. Vignon uses an older document, and often names were spelled differently many centuries ago).

Now Francesco Carloni de Querqui will add a personal thought on Claude de Gadagne’s family, followed by a short personal historical research on their descendants.

“While doing my research on Claude de Gadagne and his family, I became attached to them. I was impressed by Claude’s military bravery in battle, by his romantic love for his wife Eleonore, daringly coming to see her in France, in spite of his condemnation to death by torture by the French Parliament, his indifference to his patrimonial losses, and by Eleonore’s obstinacy and sense of duty in fighting single-handed to keep her family assets, in spite of creditors attacking her like hungry vultures, mostly when her husband was either in exile or dead. Let us remember that it was unacceptable for a noble to work, so the only way Eleonore could bring food on the table for her four little girls, was to keep ownership of peasant-worked farmlands and properties.

I wondered if Anne de Gadagne, the only daughter of Claude and Eleonore’s who got married, and her husband Guillaume de la Queuille had any children, feeling sad at the possibility that such a fantastic couple like Claude and Eleonore had no descendants after their daughter Anne. No Guadagni historian that I knew listed the descendants of Anne and Guillaume de la Queuille. So I looked in the Roglo Website. Well, in the 14 generations going from 1639, the year in which Anne and Guillaume got married, to nowadays, counting also all the descendants listed in each generation, we have a total of 855 descendants! So, Claude and Eleonore, through their daughter Anne and their son-in-law Guillaume, have already 855 direct descendants, all with Gadagne blood (and Coligny blood) in their veins, all of them are our cousins, and problaby many more to come in the future. I have all their names, dates of birth, wedding and death listed, in case you are interested. This opens huge new possibilities to family history, in case, as some people desire, we list also the descendants of the Guadagni girls.

An old saying states that girls often marry their father. Out of curiosity, I compared Anne de Gadagne’s father and husband, Claude de Gadagne and Guillaume de la Queuille, on whom I made historical research on Roglo.
Well, Claude was captain of a company of light-horses, and so was Guillaume.
By killing the Count of Charlus and by joining the high nobles in their rebellion against the Queen Mother, Claude had rebelled against the legal authority of the Kingdom. For the Charlus incident, Claude was sentenced to death, even so eventually he was able to escape. However, he was wounded in the war against the Queen Mother.
In 1651, French nobles rebelled against the King’s prime minister, because the latter had raised the taxes too much to pay for war expenses. This movement of rebellion of the nobles was called “the Fronde of the Princes” and Guillaume joined it, fighting the legal authority. He was killed in battle by the soldiers of the King of France on September 22, 1651.
While he was in exile in Italy, Claude left Eleonore alone in France with four very young children
When he died in 1651, Guillaume left Anne alone with five very young children: Claude, Francoise born in 1644, Jehan b. 1645, Elizabeth b. 1646 and Jeanne born in 1650.

What touches me also is that Anne named their first child like her father, who had died one or two years before his birth, Claude. Guillaume’s father was called Jean, the name the couple gave their second son.

Claude de la Queuille, Anne de Gadagne’s son, had two sons, one named Claude-Francois, the other Claude-Gilbert. The de La Queuille family did not seem to want to forget their glorious Gadagne ancestor.


Balthazard de Gadagne and his wife Renee’ de Clos have nine children, three sons, Francois, Guillaume III and Thomas IV, and six daughters, Diane, Anne, Jeanne, Hilaire, Isabelle and Marie. Two children, Francois and Jeanne die very young. Their three oldest daughters marry wealthy gentlemen. In 1624, Diane marries Bandino Panciatichi, son of Niccolo’ Panciatichi, then, after her husband dies, she marries Senator Antonio di Muso della Rena, Marquis of Giovagallo. Anne marries Stephane Rousseau, Lord of Verneuil. After his death, she marries marquis Nicolas Buffalini. In 1623, Hilaire marries Alexandre Orlandini, Lord of Mazerat and Montplantier. Aexandre is from a noble Tuscan family and very wealthy. He lives in Irigny. He lends 45,000 pounds to King of France Henri IV [PERNETTI L., mentioned work, volume 1, page 177, VIGNON L, above mentioned work, volume 1, page 422].

Out of curiosity I want to compare the number of descendants Claude and Balthazard had through their married daughters. The results are baffling.

Anne de Gadagne, daughter of Claude, and her husband Guillaume de La Queuille had 855 descendants (I have just noticed that they are now 856, a new baby was born in the last three days) in the 14 generations from 1639, the year she married Guillaume, until nowadays.

Diane de Gadagne, daughter of Balthazard, had only one descendant, from her first husband, Bandino Panciatichi, also named Bandino, who became a Cardinal of the Catholic Church and died in 1718 at 88 years old. She had no children from her second husband, Antonio di Muso della Rena.

Anne de Gadagne, daughter of Balthazard, had no descendants from either husband, in spite of having married twice.

Hilaire de Gadagne, daughter of Balthazard, and her husband Alexandre Orlandini, in 13 generations had 2,471 descendants!

The two youngest daughters, Isabelle and Marie, become nuns in the convent of Saint-Menoux, a few miles from Champroux. As Guillaume II de Gadagne only has an illegitimate son, Gaspard, and Claude has only daughters, it will be Balthazard de Gadagne’s sons, Guillaume III and Thomas IV who will illustrate the Gadagne surname in the Fifth Generation of the Gadagne in France.


Thomas IV de Gadagne is born in 1602. According to historian Passerini, he is baron of Champroux (even though the castle of Champroux will be destroyed by order of the King after the murder of Charlus in 1611. Passerini does not mention the murder of the Count of Charlus or the destruction of the castle which he probably ignored as he wrote his book on the “Genealogy and History of the Guadagni Family” in 1873, over a century before Father Vignon published his book on the “Vendetta (“Vengeance”) of the Gadagne” in 1975). Like his father and his uncles, Thomas IV distinguishes himself as a military. He becomes Colonel and then Battle Sergeant General.

He is wounded in the battle of Philipsburg and taken prisoner. When he is freed he is appointed Governor of Brisach. In 1642, when he is barely forty years old, he dies in Catalonia, Spain, without leaving any male descendant.


Little information is available also on Guillaume III. Guillaume becomes a military likes his brother and participates mostly in the war against Spain, as Cavalry Commander. He seems to have been the last Gadagne owner of the Seigneury of Saint-Victor-la-Coste, which he sells to Imbert du Roy, viguier d’Uzes, on April 9, 1639 [Gard Archives, Nimes].

Passerini mentions Guillaume III as Count of Avreuil [PASSERINI L., mentioned work, page 97]. Under such name we find him mentioned in the statistics of 1683, as owner of a house with servant quarters “in view of Sablet, joining the Saone River of the morning and the Street of the Priests in the evening” (funny ancient way of saying, which corresponds to “on the actual Fulchiron Quai”). At Guillaume III’s death, said house will be inherited by his nephew Alexandre de Villeneuve [City Archives of Lyon, Pointet Fund. Alexandre de Villeneuve-Orlandini is the grandson of Hillaire de Gadagne, sister of Guillaume III and wife of Alexandre Orlandini, one of the 2,471 descendants of the couple).

At this point, Historian Lejeune mentions what he thinks is a mistake of Historian Passerini. The latter states that with Thomas IV’s death, the last representative of the French branch of the Gadagne dies, including that Guillaume dies before Thomas. However, in the book of CORMIER M., “The old convent of the Dominicans of Lyon”, Lyon, 1848, page 309, mentioning the studies of Father Ramette on Notre-Dame de Confort Church, Lejeune finds that, in the list of the deceased of 1693, it is stated that, on December 8, the noble Guillaume de Gadagne, Count of Evreux, was buried in the Gadagne Chapel.
(Carloni de Querqui thinks that Evreux is probably an old spelling of Avreuil,)


As neither Thomas IV nor Guillaume III have any male descendants, the history of the Gadagne in France ends with their Fifth Generation. During over two centuries the Gadagne have played a very important role in the history of the Kingdom of France, faithfully serving eleven French Kings in a row, always being extremely generous towards the poor and downtrodden of the regions where they lived, bringing wealth and prosperity through their banking and merchant activities and helping introduce the Florentine Renaissance spirit and civilization in France.

The Gadagne surname is however going to survive in France for several more generations thanks to two branches, issued from Gadagne girls, the Gadagne d’Hostun and the Dukes of Gadagne. We will study them in the following chapters.

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