Simon Arnauld, Marquis de Pomponne
Simon Arnauld was born in Paris in 1618. He was son of Robert Arnauld d'Andilly, governor of Monsieur and "intendant d'armée" under Richelieu, and of Catherine Le Fevre de la Boderie. Member of the famous jansenist family Arnauld (his siblings were Antoine Arnauld and Angélique de Saint-Jean Arnauld d'Andilly), he was named Simon Arnauld de Briottes till 1643, then Simon Arnauld d'Andilly from 1643 to 1660, and eventually Simon Arnauld de Pomponne, after the estate of Pomponne, which was led to him by his mother, when he got married in 1660.
After having been taught by Martin Barcos, he entered the world of the "précieuses", attending the salon of Mme de Rambouillet, with several members of his family. He wrote a number of poems for the "Guirlande de Julie", and was a friend of important writers, such as Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné, Marie-Madeleine Pioche de la Vergne, comtesse de la Fayette, and the duke François de La Rochefoucauld.
He began his career as an "intendant" of the French garrison in Casale, where he staid from 1642 to 1647. Then, supported by Mazarin and Michel Le Tellier, he was appointed "intendant d'armée" in Italy, in Paris during the Fronde, and in Catalonia.
He first acted as a diplomat in 1655, having to negotiate and sign a treaty with the Duke of Mantua, a mission he was to achieve outstandingly. But, as Jansenism began to widespread, his uncle Antoine Arnauld became one of its leaders, while his own father decided to retire in Port-Royal. It explains why, in 1658, Mazarin refused to let him become chancellor of Monsieur, Louis XIV's own brother. Worst of it, Pomponne turned to be both a client and a friend of Nicolas Fouquet, and married one of his cousins. Hence his exiles in Verdun in the East of France (1662-1664), then in his estate of Pomponne (1664-1665).
Though he was allowed back in Paris by the King only in 1665, his friendships with Michel Le Tellier, Le Pelletier and Hugues de Lionne enabled him to be promoted as ambassador to Sweden. His part was to prevent this State from entering the Triple Alliance (1665-1668). Even if Sweden strengthened its links with the United Provinces, Pomponne gave the King complete satisfaction, and was thus entrusted a new mission, this time in the United-Provinces (1668-1671). In 1671, however, he was recalled to Sweden for the delicate mission of forging a new alliance between Sweden and France. Therefore, the United Provinces were isolated on the diplomatic scale, and could be attacked by Louis XIV.
After Hugues de Lionne, Secretary of State for Foreign affairs, died in September 1671, Simon Arnauld de Pomponne was brought to this board, of which he remained in charge until 1679. His style is one of a real diplomat, trying to find agreements with other countries, during war times, while Louvois, Secretary of State for War, was more aggressive and keen to fight. In 1673-5, when the ardently Catholic English courtier Edward Colman asked the French Government for large sums of money to persuade King Charles II of England to pursue a pro-French policy, Pomponne showed his strong common sense, telling his own King firmly that Charles' support was not worth bidding for. While Pomponne managed to obtain the peace treaty of Nijmegen (1678), he was eventually dismissed at a time when the King wanted to conduct a more brutal Foreign policy (18 November 1679).
However, the King remained favourable to him: his estate of Pomponne became a marquisate in 1682, and his sons were offered a regiment and an important abbey. Louis XIV called him back in 1691 (as member of the Conseil d'en haut, but without the charge of a specific board), right after Louvois' death, and fostered the marriage of the son of the Secretary of State for Foreign affairs, the marquis de Torcy, with Pomponne's daughter. Pomponne still played an important role in French policy in the 1690s.
He died in Fontainebleau in 1699.
- Simon Arnauld de Pomponne, Mémoires, Paris, 1860, 2 vol.
- Simon Arnauld de Pomponne, Relation de mon ambassade en Hollande, ed. Herbert H. Rowen, Utrecht, 1955.
- Herbert H. Rowen, The Ambassador prepares for war, The Hague, 1957.
- Rémi Mathis, "De la négociation à la relation d'ambassade. La seconde ambassade de Suède de Simon Arnauld de Pomponne (1671)" in Revue d'Histoire diplomatique, n°3, 2005.