Jean-Jacques de Mesmes

Jean-Jacques de Mesmes, comte d'Avaux, vicomte de Neufchâtel (1630–1688) was a French magistrate, intendant of Soissons, and Président à mortier of the Parlement of Paris. He developed the town of Avaux-la-Ville, which is now called Asfeld. He was a member of the Académie française. He was brother of Jean-Antoine de Mesmes, the diplomat, and father of Jean-Antoine de Mesmes, the premier president of the Parlement of Paris.

Jean-Jacques de Mesmes
Comte d'Avaux
Portrait by Antoine Masson
PredecessorJean-Antoine de Mesmes
SuccessorJean-Antoine de Mesmes
Bornc. 1630
Died9 January 1688
Spouse(s)Marguerite Bertrand de la Bazinière
Jean-Antoine, Henri, and others
OccupationPrésident à mortier

Birth and originsEdit

Jean-Jacques was born in 1630, or there about,[1] probably in Paris. He was the eldest of the four sons of Jean-Antoine de Mesmes and his wife Anne Courtin. His birth year is sometimes given as 1640,[a] which cannot be as it is well established that his youngest brother was born that year.

His father was comte d'Avaux and a president at the Parlement of Paris. His mother was a daughter of Francois Courtin, seigneur de Brusselles and baron de Givry.[3]

Family tree
Jean-Jacques de Mesmes with wife, parents, and other selected relatives.[b]




B de la
d. 1658
d. 1671
Knt. of



b. 1668

Knt. of


m. 1720

m. 1715
XXXSubject of
the article

Jean-Jacques also had a sister, Antoinette, who became a Carmelite nun[7]

Jean-Jacques de Mesmes, the president, the subject of this article, may easily be confused with other members of his family who share the same name, notably his grandfather Jean-Jacques de Mesmes, sieur de Roissy (died 1642) and his youngest son Jean-Jacques de Mesmes, knight of Malta (died 1741).

His coat of arms[8][d]

Noble titlesEdit

On 23 February 1673 Jean-Jacques de Mesmes became the fourth comte d'Avaux at his father's death.[9][e] The Latin inscription on the portrait by Antoine Masson in 1683 calls him 'Comes d'Avaux.[f] This is important because his youngest brother, Jean-Antoine, the diplomat, also claimed to be comte d'Avaux. Using a regnal number in the Parisian branch of the de Mesmes family, he is called Jean-Jacques III de Mesmes.[10][g]

He was also vicomte de Neufchâtel, and seigneur de Cramayel [fr]. The title of vicomte de Neufchâtel was used as a courtesy title by his eldest son, Jean-Antoine, while Jean-Jacques was still alive.


In 1671 Jean-Jacques de Mesmes enlarged his estate at Avaux en Champagne by buying the neighbouring fief of Écry. He then developed the village of Écry to a small town and renamed it Avaux-la-Ville, while Avaux became Avaux-le-Château. This new town is today known as Asfeld after Claude Francois Bidal d'Asfeld, who bought the county of Avaux in 1728.

With the village came the old castle of Écry or Escry, which he extended and transformed. In 1683 Jean-Jacques de Mesmes asked the architect François Romain to build a new church in Avaux-la-Ville. An Italian baroque style and an unusual design were adopted. The church's footprint is said to have the form of a viola da gamba. It has a pentagonal dome. The church is dedicated to Saint-Didier. Due to the change of name from Avaux-la-Ville to Asfeld, it is now known as Saint Didier's Church, Asfeld [fr].


Jean-Jacques de Mesmes pursued a judicial and administrative career. He became conseiller au parlement, maître des requêtes, et conseiller d'état. In 1672 he was given his father's place as président à mortier at the parlement of Paris. He also became intendant of Soissons. It is often said that he participated in the signing of the Treaties of Nijmegen but this seems to be due to a confusion with his brother Jean-Antoine, the diplomat.[citation needed]

Order of the Holy SpiritEdit

On 20 September 1671 Jean-Jacques de Mesmes became Provost and Master of Ceremonies of the Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint-Esprit.[13] He obtained this office from Macé de Bertrand de la Bazinière (1632-1688), his father-in-law.[14]

His portrait, painted and engraved by Antoine Masson in 1683, shows Jean-Jacques de Mesmes in the robes of a président à mortier with the cross of the Order of the Holy Spirit on its cordon bleu around his neck.[f] On 17 February 1684 he resigned from this office and sold it to his younger brother Jean-Antoine, the diplomat.[15]

Académie françaiseEdit

He was a learned man and had travelled to Italy. He owned a large library, for which he engaged Lucas Holstenius as librarian. In 1676 he was elected to the Académie française, becoming the second occupant of Seat 4. He was elected due to his reputation and the influence of his family. He was no famous writer of French literature. His inauguration speech was his only work ever to be printed.[16] His son Jean-Antoine would also be an academician (elected in 1710).

Marriage and childrenEdit

On 8 March 1660 Jean-Jacques married Marguerite Bertrand de la Bazinière, daughter of Macé Bertrand de la Bazinière (1632–1688), trésorier de l'Épargne.[17]

Jean-Jacques and Marguerite had five children: three sons and two daughters:[18]

  1. Jean-Antoine (1661–1723), succeeded him as comte d'Avaux and became first president of the Parlement of Paris
  2. Henri (1666–1721), became commendatory abbot of the abbeys of Valroy [fr] and Hambye[h]
  3. Jean-Jacques (1675–1741), became a Knight of St John
  4. Marie-Thérèse (born 1668), married François de la Roche, marquis de Fontenille
  5. Judith-Amasie, became a nun

Death, succession, and timelineEdit

Jean-Jacques died in Paris on 9 January 1688[20] and was buried at the Grands Augustins [fr].[21]

At his death his heirs made a plan how to keep his office as président à mortier in the family. This particular post at the parlement de Paris had been in the de Mesmes family since his paternal uncle Henri had obtained it and had passed from Henri to his youngest paternal uncle Jean-Antoine and then to him. It would be best if it could be passed to his son Jean-Antoine, but this son had just been named conseiller au parlement and still needed to become maître de requêtes before he could become président à mortier. They then wondered whether his youngest brother Jean-Antoine, the diplomat, could hold this office until his son was ready for it.[22] His son Jean-Antoine was nevertheless promoted to président à mortier without ever having been a maître de recherches.

At his death the heirs sold the townhouse built by Claude de Mesmes's in the Marais Quarter of Paris to Paul de Beauvilliers, Duke of Saint-Aignan. It thus became known as the Hôtel Beauvilliers and later the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan.

Notes, citations, and sourcesEdit


  1. ^ This error is notably found in Dezobry & Bachelet[2]
  2. ^ Also see the lists of siblings and children in the text.
  3. ^ Henri was the 36th abbot of Hambye[5]
  4. ^ The arms precede the corresponding text.
  5. ^ As his eldest son was the fifth count[23] and followed him directly, Jean-Jacques was the fourth.
  6. ^ a b The Latin inscription on the oval frame reads: JOHANNES JACOBUS DE MESMES COMES D'AVAUX IN SVPREMO GALLIARUM SENATU PRÆSES ET REGIORUM ORDINUM COMMENDATOR (Jean Jacques de Mesmes, comte d'Avaux, president in the parlement, and commander in the kings' order). On the inner oval frame we can read Offerebat F. Alipius Vachieres Aug Brignoniensis. On the outer rim of the oval frame at the bottom we can read Ant. Masson ad verum pingebat et sculpebat Parisis 1683 CPR (cum privilegio regis).
  7. ^ Jean-Jacques II de Mesmes (1560–1642) was his paternal grand father.[11] Jean-Jacques I de Mesmes (1490–1569) served King Francis I of France.[12]
  8. ^ Henri was the 38th abbot of Hambye[19]


  1. ^ a b "maison de Mesmes". Encyclopédie Larousse en ligne (in French). Retrieved 17 February 2019. Jean-Jacques (1630–1688)
  2. ^ Dezobry & Bachelet 1869, p. 1783: "Mesmes, (Jean-Jacques de), neveu de Claude, né à Paris vers 1640 ..."
  3. ^ Moréri 1759, p. 496: "Il avoit épousé Anne Courtin fille de François Courtin, chevalier, seigneur de Brusselles, baron de Givri &c, maître de requêtes ..."
  4. ^ Moréri 1759, p. 496, left column, line 57: "... Henri de Mesmes, abbé de la Valroi, mort l'an 1658, ..."
  5. ^ a b Le Conte 1891, p. 219: "XXXVI. Henri Ier DE MESMES. - On sait qu'il est fils de Jean-Antoine de Mesmes et d'Anne Courtin ..."
  6. ^ Moréri 1759, p. 496, left column, line 58: "... Claude de Mesmes, chevalier de Malte, abbé de la Valroi & de Hambye, mort l'an 1671; ..."
  7. ^ Moréri 1759, p. 496, left column, line 56: "... dont il eut JEAN-JACQUES de Mesmes, comte d'Avaux qui suit; Henri de Mesmes, abbé de la Valroi, mort l'an 1658, Claude de Mesmes, chevalier de Malte, abbé de la Valroi & de Hambye, mort l'an 1671; Jean-Antoine de Mesmes, comte d'Avaux dont il sera parlé ci-après; & Antoinette de Mesmes, religieuse Carmélite."
  8. ^ Anselme 1733, p. 316, line 8: "Écartelé, au 1. d'or au croissant montant de sable, au 2 & 3. d'argent, à deux lions passant gueules, au 4. d'or à une étoile de sable au chef de gueules et la pointe de l'écu ondée azur. XI. JEAN-JACQUES de Mesmes, chevalier, comte d'Avaux, ..."
  9. ^ a b Moréri 1759, p. 496, left column: "... il mourut le 23 fevrier 1673, âgé de 75 ans.."
  10. ^ Moréri 1759, p. 496, left column, line 63: "JEAN-JACQUES de Mesmes, III du nom, comte d'Avaux, vicomte de Neufchâtel, & seigneur de Cramayel, ..."
  11. ^ Moréri 1759, p. 495, right column, middle: "JEAN-JACQUES de Mesmes, II du nom, chevalier, seigneur de Roissy, fils unique de HENRI de Mesmes, & de Jeanne Hennequin, fur élevé dans les belles lettres ..."
  12. ^ Moréri 1759, p. 494, right column, line 7: "JEAN-JACQUES de Mesmes, I du nom, chevalier, seigneur de Roissy, & de Cantiers en France, de Gengor, Brocas, Lusson en Béarn, né au septième mois de la grossesse de sa mère le 11 mai 1490, est le premier de sa famille qui vint s'établir à Paris ..."
  13. ^ Anselme 1733, p. 316, line 14: "JEAN-JACQUES de Mesmes, chevalier, comte d'Avaux, vicomte de Neufchastel, seigneur de Cramayel, president à Mortier au Parlement de Paris, Prevôt & Maître des Ceremonies des Ordres du Roi, par lettre du 20 septembre 1671."
  14. ^ a b Saint-Simon 1895, p. 169: "... du président de Mesmes son frère, qui lui-même avait obtenu la même permission de continuer à porter l'ordre, et ce président de Mesmes l'avait eue en 1671 lors de la déroute de la Bazinière, son beau-père ..."
  15. ^ Anselme 1733, p. 316, line 33: "JEAN-ANTOINE de Mesmes, chevalier, seigneur d'Irval, depuis qualifié comte d'Avaux, conseiller au Parlement en 1661. maître de requêtes en 1667, ambassadeur à Venise, en Suede et en Hollande, gouverneur de Fismes, conseiller d'état, Prevôt & Maître des Ceremonies des Ordres du Roi sur la démission du Président de Mesmes son frère le 17 fevrier 1684."
  16. ^ a b Olivet 1730, p. 250: "JEAN-JACQUES DE MESMES, COMTE D'AVAUX, Président à Mortier au Parlement de Paris, Prévôt et Maître de Cérémonies des Ordres du Roi, reçu à l'Académie le 23 Décembre 1676, mort le 9 Janvier 1688."
  17. ^ a b Moréri 1759, p. 496, left column, line 73 (almost at the bottom): "Il avoit épousé le 8 mars 1660 Marguerite Bertrand de la Bazinière, fille de Macé Bertrand de la Bazinière ..."
  18. ^ Moréri 1759, p. 496, right column, line 4: "De son mariage avec cette dame sont sorti Jean-Antoine de Mesmes qui suit; Henri de Mesmes né l'an 1666, licencié de Sorbonne, abbé de la Valroi, de Hambye, prieur de Saint-Denys de l'Estrée & de S. Pierre d'Abbeville, mort le 6 mai 1721; Marie-Thérèse de Mesmes, née l'an 1668, mariée l'an 1683 à François de la Roche, marquis de Fontenille; Judith-Amasie de Mesmes, née l'an 1672, religieuse ursuline à Sainte Avoye l'an 1693; & Jean-Jacques de Mesmes, né 23 avril 1675, reçu chevalier de S. Jean de Jérusalem le 12 avril 1676, capitaine de la patrone de Malte l'an 1706, commandeur de Sommereu, grand-croix de grace de cet ordre en France en 1715, mort à Paris le 2 fevrier 1741 dans la 66 année de son âge."
  19. ^ Le Conte 1891, p. 220: "XXXVIII. Henri II DE MESMES. - Fils de Jean-Jacques de Mesmes, président à mortier au parlement de Paris, et de Marguerite Bertrand de la Basinière, il était le neveu du précédent. Ce fut au moins d'avril 1681 qu'il devint abbé de Hambye."
  20. ^ a b "De Paris le 10 Ianvier 1688". Gazette de France (in French). 10 January 1688. p. 24. Le 9, Messire Jean Jacques de Mesmes, Président à mortier, Prévost et Maistre des cérémonies des Ordres du Roy, vn des quarante de l'Académie Françoise mourut icy d'apoplexie.
  21. ^ Anselme 1733, p. 316, lower: "... mourut le 9 janvier 1688. & est enterré aux grands Augustins à Paris."
  22. ^ Dangeau 1854, p. 92: "Vendredi 9 à Versailles [Janvier 1688] - Le matin au lever du roi, m. de la Feuillade amena M. de Neufchâtel, fils aîné du président de Mesmes, qui appris à Sa Majesté que son père étoit mort cette nuit d'apoplexie. On espère que le roi voudra bien que la charge de président à mortier ne sorte pas de leur maison ; mais, comme M. de Neufchâtel n'est conseiller que depuis trois mois, on croit qu'elle soit donnée à M. d'Avaux son ambassadeur en Hollande, qui n'est pas marié, et qui pourra la rendre à son neveu quand il seroit en âge de la faire."
  23. ^ Boulliot 1830, p. 258: "... le premier président de Mesmes, cinquième comte d'Avaux ..."


External linksEdit