Michelle d'Aubigné

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Entry by Gilbert Schrenck, 2005

Like her sisters Andrée and Anne, whose dates of birth and death remain unknown, Michèle d'Aubigné (or Aubigné, without the particle) was related to (was perhaps a cousin or an aunt of) Jean d'Aubigné, Agrippa's father. Contrary to the genealogy that Agrippa d'Aubigné's granddaughter Mme de Maintenon invented in order to claim noble origins, Jean d'Aubigné's family were in fact commoners, craftsmen from the group of shoemakers and tanners in Loudun. A close relative of Jean's, perhaps a sister, married Daniel Bécasse, sergeant of Archiac near Pons en Saintonge, where Agrippa d'Aubigné was born. Around 1520, another relative, Jeanne d'Aubigné, married François Joly, a tanner and currier in Loudun, and subsequently gave birth to five children, including Michèle and her two sisters.

Michèle was the eldest child. A convert to Protestantism, she became a lady's maid to Jacquette de Montbron, lady of Archiac, wife of André de Bourdeille, the seneschal of Perigord, and the older brother of the famous Brantôme. She married Aubin d'Abeville, a judge in Archiac and Matha in the same area, who became Agrippa's guardian after his father died in 1563. Michèle probably died around 1577 without an heir. Her sister, Anne Joly, then entered the service of Jeanne de Montpezat, dowager of Archiac, and married Martial Bernard, an officer of the same town, who was also the king's counsellor and secretary and an usher in the chancellery of Bordeaux. This man of means left his numerous possessions, lands and properties to his wife, who died in 1621, after an exceptionally long life.

Michèle and Andrée Joly, well connected to the powerful families of Archiac, thus played a decisive role in the social rise of their relative Jean d'Aubigné. Thanks to them he was placed first as a steward and secretary to Jacquette de Montbron, around 1540, and then with Jeanne de Montpezat. He rose to the position of judge of Pons and counsellor to Antoinette de Pons, where he no doubt met his future wife, Catherine de L'Estang. At present, research has yielded no further information about these three women.

(translated by Michelle Sommers)

Selected bibliography

- Schrenck, Gilbert, «Les origines d'Agrippa d'Aubigné», Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français, 1983, p.489-518.

Michelle d'Aubigné
Spouses Aubin d'Abeville
Also known as Michèle Aubigné
Birth date After 1500
Death around 1577
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