Renée Burlamacchi

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Renée Burlamacchi
Spouses César Balbani
Agrippa d'Aubigné
Birth date 1568
Death 1641
Biographical entries in old dictionaries

Entry by Gilbert Schrenck, 2005

Renée Burlamacchi was born on March 25, 1568 in Montargis where her mother and father, (Michele Burlamacchi, a banker) had found refuge after fleeing their hometown of Lucca where they had been persecuted for their Protestant beliefs. She was named after her godmother, Renée de France, Duchess of Ferrara, who provided shelter for fugitives in her chateau. In 1572 the family was forced into exile once again, barely escaping the St. Bartholomew massacres in Paris, and was then taken in by the Duke of Bouillon in Sedan. Renée married the banker César Balbani in Geneva on May 29, 1586. Between 1587 and 1606 she gave birth to ten children (seven sons and three daughters). Her husband died on April 26, 1621, and two years later, on April 24, 1623, at the age of fifty-five, she remarried. Her second husband, Agrippa d'Aubigné, also a refugee, was in his seventies and had been in Geneva since 1620. Writing about his marriage to the French exile, he said that "it was begun by the people's voice" (meaning that it was greeted by general acclaim), and that he could not have hoped for anything better than "this recent widow", "loved as much for her integrity, charity and good deeds towards all, as for her noble breeding, wealth and abundant possessions". (Sa vie à ses enfants, ed. Gilbert Schrenck, Paris, STFM, 1986, p.214). The couple divided their time between the chateau of Crest and their Geneva residence, situated in what is now the rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville.

Renée Burlamacchi, a woman of character and firm beliefs, assisted and supported her husband in his activities as a political refugee. When he died in Geneva on May 9, 1630, she handed his manuscripts over to Pastor Theodore Tronchin, a friend who had been named executor of the estate. Burlamacchi continued to live in Geneva until the end of her life and died there on September 11, 1641. At her request, she was buried next to her first husband in Plain-Palais.

A writer in her own right, she left not only an account of her husband's last moments but also private letters to close relations, Memoirs focussing on family and especially her father, and an Album poétique containing poems by A.d'Aubigné. This woman of strong convictions seems to be known only to the specialists of Agrippa d'Aubigné, who have edited all of her works.

(translated by Michelle Sommers)


- 1623 : Descrittione della vita e morte del signor Michele Burlamacchi gentilhuomo lucchese, missa in luce della signore Renea Burlamacchi, sua figlia, nel mese di gennaro del 1623 in Geneva, publié sous le titreMémoires, in G. Schotel, Jean Diodati, S'Gravenhage, 1844 -- Éd. Simonetta Adorni-Braccesi, in Vincenzo Burlamacchi, Libro di ricordi dignissimi delle nostre famiglie, Rome, Instituto Storico italiano per l'eta moderrna e contemporanea, 1993.
- 1630 : Lettres sur la mort d'Agrippa d'Aubigné, in Th. Heyer, Théodore-Agrippa d'Aubigné. Notice biographique avec lettres inédites, Mémoires d'Histoire et d'Archéologie de Genève, 17, 1872, p.187, 205.
- vers 1630 : Album poétique, éd. Eugénie Droz, Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance, 9, 1947, p.173-189.

Selected bibliography

- Eynard, Charles, «Notice sur la vie de Renée Burlamacchi », Revue Suisse, 5, 1842, p.745-763.
- Monnier, M., «Les deux Renée. Étude sur la Réforme en Italie», Bibliothèque universelle et revue suisse, 60, 1877, p.337-359 et p.626-657.

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