Jules Mazarin

Biography of Jules Mazarin

Jules Mazarin (1602–1661), born Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino or Mazarini, was an Italian and French cardinal, diplomat, and politician, who served as the chief minister of France from 1642 until his death. Mazarin succeeded his mentor, Cardinal Richelieu. He was a noted collector of art and jewels, particularly diamonds, and he bequeathed the "Mazarin diamonds" to Louis XIV in 1661, some of which remain in the collection of the Louvre museum in Paris. His personal library was the origin of the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris.

Giulio Mazzarino was born in Pescina, then part of the Kingdom of Naples, where his parents were travelling, but was raised in Rome. Contemporary John Bargrave suggested, instead, that his father Pietro Mazzarini had lost a significant amount of money during a business transaction and was forced to flee to Rome. Regardless, Pietro was a notary who made use of his connections to the Colonna once he arrived in Rome and became chamberlain to the Constable Filippo I Colonna. Mazarin never forgot that the basis of his fortune in life was the patronage of the Colonna, who had provided his father with a wife, Ortensia Buffalini, of a noble family of Città di Castello in Umbria with an ample dowry. He had a younger sister, Laura Margherita Mazzarini.

Mazarin studied at the Jesuit College in Rome, though he declined to join their order. At seventeen he accompanied Girolamo Colonna, one of the sons of Filippo I Colonna, to the university of Alcalá de Henares in Spain, to serve as his chamberlain. His stay was brief; a notary who had advanced some cash to cover gaming debts urged the charming and personable young Mazarino to take his daughter as bride, with a substantial dowry. Later Mazarin frequented the University of Rome La Sapienza, gaining the title of Doctor in jurisprudence but gaining loose habits of serious gambling in the meantime.

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