Pierre de Bourdeille

[Seigneur de Brantôme]

Biography of Pierre de Bourdeille

Pierre de Bourdeille, seigneur de Brantôme (c. 1540 – 15 July 1614) was a French historian, soldier and biographer.

Brantôme was born in Périgord, Aquitaine, the third son of the baron de Bourdeille. His mother and maternal grandmother were both attached to the court of Marguerite of Navarre, on whose death in 1549 he went to Paris, and later (1555) to Poitiers, to finish his education.

He was given several benefices, the most important of which was the abbey of Brantôme, but had no inclination for an ecclesiastical career.

He became a soldier and came into contact with many of the great leaders of the continental wars. He travelled in Italy; in Scotland, where he accompanied Mary, Queen of Scots (then the widow of Francis II of France); in England, where he saw Elizabeth I (1561, 1579); in Morocco (1564); and in Spain and Portugal.

He fought on the galleys of the Order of Malta, and accompanied his great friend, the French commander Filippo di Piero Strozzi (grandson of Filippo Strozzi the Younger), in his expedition against Terceira, in which Strozzi was killed (1582).

During the French Wars of Religion under Charles IX of France, he fought for the Catholics (including at the Siege of La Rochelle (1572-1573), but he allowed himself to be won over temporarily by the ideas of the Huguenot reformers, and though he publicly separated himself from Protestantism, it had a marked effect on his mind.

A fall from his horse compelled him to retire into private life about 1589, and he spent his last years in writing his Memoirs of the illustrious men and women whom he had known.

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