Philippe de Commines

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Philippe de Commines

Philippe de Commines (otherwise de Commynes or de Comines) (c. 1447 – c. 1511) was a diplomat and historian from the Burgundian Netherlands whose career was mainly conducted at the French court. His Mémoires record with unique authority the history of his own times.

Sourced[edit]

Mémoires[edit]

English quotations are taken from Philippe de Commynes (trans. Michael Jones) Memoirs: The Reign of Louis XI, 1461-83 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972). [1]

  • Deux grands princes qui se voudroient bien entr'aymer, ne se devroient jamais voir, mais envoyer bonnes gens et sages les uns vers les autres, et ceux là les entretiendroient ou amenderoient les fautes.
    • Two princes who wish to remain on friendly terms should never see each other but send good and wise men to one another, and these should maintain their friendship and amend any faults.
    • Bk. I, ch. 14.
  • Ces deux ducs dessusdits estoient sages après le coup (comme l'on dit des Bretons).
    • The two dukes were wise after the event (as the Bretons say).
    • Bk. I, ch. 16.
  • Car on ne doit point tenir pour conseil ce qui se fait après disner.
    • Nor should anything said after dinner be taken for counsel.
    • Bk. II, ch. 2.
  • Qui a le profit de la guerre, il en a l'honneur.
    • He who has the profits of war has the honour.
    • Bk. IV, ch. 4.
  • Les roys et princes en sont trop plus forts, quand ils l'entreprennent du consentement de leurs subjets, et en sont plus craints de leurs ennemis.
    • Kings and princes have much more power when they undertake some enterprise on the advice of their subjects. They are then more feared by their enemies.
    • Bk. V, ch. 19.
  • Or, selon mon advis, entre toutes les seigneuries du monde, dont j'ay connoissance, où la chose publique est mieux traictée, et où règne moins de violence sur le peuple, et où il n'y a nuls édifices abatus, ni démolis pour guerre, c'est Angleterre; et tombe le sort et le malheur sur ceux qui font la guerre.
    • Now in my opinion, out of all the countries I have personally known, England is the one where public affairs are best conducted and regulated with least violence to the people. There no buildings are knocked down or demolished through war, and disaster and misfortune befall those who make war.
    • Bk. V, ch. 19.

Criticism[edit]

  • Vous y trouverez le langage doux et aggreable, d'une naïfve simplicité, la narration pure, et en laquelle la bonne foy de l'autheur reluit evidemment, exempte de vanité parlant de soy, et d'affection et d'envie parlant d'autruy : ses discours et enhortemens, accompaignez, plus de bon zele et de verité, que d'aucune exquise suffisance, et tout par tout de l'authorité et gravité, representant son homme de bon lieu, et élevé aux grans affaires.
    • Here you will find a pleasant and agreeable style, of a natural simplicity. The narrative is pure and the good faith of the author shines from it, exempt from the vanity of talking about oneself, and from partiality or envy when speaking of others. His ideas and exhortations are accompanied more by good zeal and truth than by any fine ability; and all throughout there is an authoritative tone and gravity proper to a man of good background, brought up in great affairs.
    • Michel de Montaigne Essais Bk. II, ch. 10: "Des Livres"; translation from Serge Hughes (trans.) The Essential Montaigne (New York: New American Library, 1970) p. 293.

External links[edit]

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