Georges Darboy

Georges Darboy (16 January 1813 – 24 May 1871) was a French Catholic priest, later bishop of Nancy then archbishop of Paris. He was among a group of prominent hostages executed as the Paris Commune of 1871 was about to be overthrown.

The Most Reverend

Georges Darboy
Archbishop of Paris
Mgr Georges Darboy Photographie ca1860 BNF Gallica.jpg
Georges Darboy in 1865.
InstalledJanuary 1863
Term endedMay 1871
PredecessorFrançois-Nicholas-Madeleine Morlot
SuccessorJoseph Hippolyte Guibert
Ordination17 December 1836
Consecration30 November 1859
Personal details
Born(1813-01-16)16 January 1813
Fayl-Billot, Haute-Marne, France
Died24 May 1871(1871-05-24) (aged 58)
Paris, France
Cause of deathExecution by shooting
Coat of armsGeorges Darboy's coat of arms


Darboy was born in Fayl-Billot, Haute-Marne in north-east France. He studied with distinction at the seminary at Langres, and was ordained priest in 1836. Transferred to Paris as almoner of the college of Henry IV, and honorary canon of Notre Dame, he became the close friend of Archbishop Affre and of his successor Archbishop Sibour. He was appointed bishop of Nancy in 1859, and in January 1863 was raised to the archbishopric of Paris.

Darboy was a strenuous upholder of episcopal independence in the Gallican sense, and involved himself in a controversy with Rome by his endeavours to suppress the jurisdiction of the Jesuits and other religious orders within his diocese. Pope Pius IX refused him the cardinal's hat, and rebuked him for his liberalism in a letter which was probably not intended for publication.[1] He is also known for his opposition in 1868 to Jacques-Paul Migne, forbidding him to continue his low-cost books business after the burning of his printing establishment, and suspending him from his priestly functions.[citation needed] At the First Vatican Council he vigorously maintained the rights of the bishops, and strongly opposed the dogma of papal infallibility, against which he voted as inopportune. When the dogma had been finally adopted, however, he was one of the first to set the example of submission.[1]

Immediately after his return to Paris the war with Prussia broke out, and his conduct during the disastrous year that followed was marked by a devoted heroism which has secured for him an enduring fame. He was active in organizing relief for the wounded at the commencement of the war, remained bravely at his post during the siege, and refused to seek safety by flight during the brief triumph of the Paris Commune.[1] On 4 April 1871, he was arrested by the Communards as a hostage and confined in Mazas Prison. The Communards offered to exchange him and several priests for Louis Auguste Blanqui, who was being held by the Versailles government.[2][3] He was transferred to La Roquette Prisons on the advance of the Versailles army, and on 24 May he was shot within the prison along with several other prominent hostages.[1] The execution was ordered by Théophile Ferré, who later was executed by firing squad by the French government after the fall of the Commune.[4]

Darboy died in the attitude of blessing and uttering words of forgiveness. His body was recovered with difficulty, and, having been embalmed, was buried with imposing ceremony at public expense on 7 June. He was the third archbishop of Paris to die violently between 1848 and 1871.[1]


  • Œuvres de Saint Denys l'Aréopagite (1845).
  • Les Femmes de la Bible (1846–1849).
  • Les Saintes Femmes (1850).
  • Lettres à Combalot (1851).
  • Jérusalem et la Terre Sainte (1852).
  • L'Imitation de Jésus-Christ (1852).
  • Statistique Religieuse du Diocèse de Paris (1856).
  • Saint Thomas Becket (1858).
  • Du Gouvernement de Soi-même (1867).

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Darboy, Georges". Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 828. Endnote: See
  2. ^ Marx, Karl The Civil War in France Chapter 6
  3. ^ Fernbach, David (ed.) Marx: The First International and After, p. 230
  4. ^ "The Recent Executions". The Times (27234). London. 30 November 1871. p. 12.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
François-Nicholas-Madeleine Morlot
Archbishop of Paris
Succeeded by
Joseph Hippolyte Guibert