6 Annotations

First Reading

TerryF  •  Link

Gaston Jean Baptiste Comte de Cominges (1613 1670), governor of Saumur, French ambassador to England,1661-1664 (lived in Exeter House, Strand).

See "A French ambassador at the court of Charles the Second: le comte de Cominges" by J J Jusserand
London, T.F. Unwin; New York, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1892.

Pedro  •  Link


Cominges was sent, by the scheming Cardinal Mazarin, as special envoy to Potugal in May of 1657, to present condolences to the Queen Regent on the death of Catherine’s father. Another objective was to encourage the Portuguese to provide funding for French troops to continue their campaign against the Spanish.

He also continued to play Mararin’s game of keeping the Portuguese on a piece of string concerning the proposed marriage of Catherine to Louis XIV. Writing back to the Cardinal he said that the Infanta was the delight and love of all the Kingdom. She was prettier than her picture (by Nocret), well groomed and well dressed in the French fashion, and she would not be behind in the beauties of the French Court.

He was recalled to Paris in February of 1659.

Pedro  •  Link


Cominges was a gallant Gascon soldier accompanied by a charming wife, but he was brusque, punctilious and ignorant of English. He was often ill, but well or ill the English could make nothing of him...

Clarendon charitably assumed that Cominges was drugged with opium, while Charles said that he was "good for nothing, but to give malicious and wrong intelligence."

(British Foreign Policy 1660-1672 by Feiling)

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The Comte de Cominges was a good soldier by profession: this accounts for his roughness and pride. For the same reason, when he bowed, he bowed very low, and according to rule; when he stood, he stood very stiff: men of this sort were numerous; they wore ribbons on their cuirasses.

Several of Ambassador Cominges’ judgments are rather bitter. Some excuse for this is to be found in the fact that England was unsettled; maladministration was breeding discontent, and if the English people chose means different from those Cominges would recommend, they agreed with him on the inconveniencies of the Stuart regime.

When a touch of ill-humor appears here and there, remember Ambassadors have good reason now and again to be ill-humored. Besides the fogs, the French Ambassador could not ignore that he was very unpopular. Contrary to custom, he was not bowed to in the streets, and he keenly felt the want of bows. He was twice besieged in his house by the mob, and had his windows broken. His predecessor, Ambassador d'Estrades, had been shot at, and received a bullet in his hat. Such were the unpleasantnesses of ambassadorial life.

Although Cominges is usually speaking first about Charles II to Louis XIV, and of courtly affairs and intrigues, he felt England was a nation with qualities of its own, fickle in religion, stubborn in foreign policy, endowed with an indomitable courage, and with an irrepressible fondness for liberty -- at which he crossed himself. If he sometimes misinterpreted their meaning and misunderstood their manners, he never misjudged England's strength. He admired their navy, and their Parliament, which he does not hesitate to call "auguste."

Despite the fogs, and unpopular for being a subject of the Sun-king, Cominges was wise enough to disprove the insulting rumors current in both countries on the character of the other.


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

50-year-old Ambassador Cominges reached London on 23 December, 1662 (O.S.), after having had a very bad crossing "in the yacht of Monsieur le duc d'York."

In his first letter to Louis XIV, Cominges describes his journey in his Court style:
"Sire, I would not mention to your Majesty the inconveniences I suffered in my journey on account of the floods, if I were not bound to do so to explain the length of the time I spent on the way. Not that I failed to constrain, so to say, the very elements to submit to your Majesty's wishes; but all I could do, after having avoided two or three land-wrecks and escaped a tempest by sea, was to reach this place on December 23, English style." 1
1 To Louis XIV. January 4, 1663.

From then on a double, and frequently treble, correspondence begins: an official letter to Louis XIV, a familiar one to Secretary Hugues de Lionne, and often a third one, containing only Court news, sent to the King, but not in his kingly capacity.

Young Louis appreciated those separate sheets of worldly information, and Lionne several times begs Cominges not to forget them. No wonder this was so with a prince of 24; the real wonder is the personal attention with which the official correspondence was attended to by Louis, to the extent of his being jealous of the private letters sent to Lionne by Cominges:
"Though I always show to the King," Lionne writes, "the private letters with which you honor me, and that it might appear that it comes to the same, as his Majesty is equally well-informed, be the letter for him or for me, you must always, if you please, write direct to his Majesty, even when you have nothing else to say than that you have nothing to say. ... I clearly saw the advantage of this plan when I read to his Majesty the last letter with which you favored me; for he then inquired why you did not write rather to himself. I answered that the cause was probably the want of any matter of sufficient importance. ... But I think his Majesty did not hold this reason a sufficient one, and that he prefers you to do otherwise. You will also please him very much in continuing what you so handsomely began, and forwarding in a separate sheet the most curious of the Court news."

Notes from https://books.google.com/books?id…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

From the same site:

The Count de Cominges survived only until 1670.

In number 38 of the Gazette of that year the following notice was printed: "[March 25, 1670] Messire Gaston Jean Baptiste de Cominges, Knight of the Orders of the King, Lieutenant-General in his Majesty's armies, Governor and Lieutenant-General of the town, castle, and Senechaussee of Saumur, died here, in his hostel, aged 57, after having received the last sacraments with all the signs of the most sincere piety. He is deeply regretted in this Court, as well for the many qualities for which he was noticeable as for the great services rendered by him to the Crown, not only in the above-named functions, but also as an Ambassador extraordinary to England and to Portugal."

Cominges now sleeps in St. Roch's Church, Rue St. Honore, beside Crequi, Le Notre, Mignard, and several other illustrious servants of the Grand Roi.

As for "Cesonie," she survived her husband for many years, and she had long ceased to be "la belle Cominges" when she died in 1709.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.