Slaughter, Mayhem, & Providence
Traveling through Amboise on their way to Paris in 1560, Jean d'Aubigné and his 8-year-old son, Agrippa, came upon a horrible spectacle: the hanging bodies of decapitated Protestant conspirators who had attempted to steal the young King Francis II away from the Catholic dukes of Guise. The father made his son swear to defend the faith for which the men had died, and Agrippa d'Aubigné did indeed spend his life fighting for what become known as La Cause.
D'Aubigné waged his battle for the Huguenot faith on two fronts: the battlefield and paper. He first took up arms at age 12, when he climbed out of his bedroom window and ran off to join the Protestant troops defending the beseiged city of Orléans. He eventually became a key player in the Wars of Religion that devastated France in the second half of the sixteenth century.
Starting in 1573, he served as equerry, adviser, and friend to Henri of Navarre (the future Henri IV) until the latter finally rejected the Reformed faith in 1593. Eventually exiled from France, d'Aubigné spent the last decade of his life in Geneva, where he served on the city's war council.
While brave and forceful as a military man, d'Aubigné is mainly known because of his second weapon, his pen. With the exception of his first collection of poems, Printemps (Springtime), which he later rejected because it deals with worldly rather than divine love, d'Aubigné's works all revolve around his faith and the parti protestant.
Although d'Aubigné has never ranked as highly as the sixteenth-century literary giants François Rabelais, Pierre de Ronsard, and Michel de Montaigne, he is nonetheless considered one of France's greatest authors, due almost solely to his work Les Tragiques. He began the work in the trenches ...