Michel de l’Hospital (1505-1573)

Michel de l’Hospital was a Catholic lawyer, who was called on by Catherine de Médicis to try to establish the peaceful coexistence of Catholics and Protestants. However he failed in his attempt.

He aimed at a policy of reconciliation

  • Michel de l'Hospital, chancellor of France (1503-1573)
  • The Bible © Collection privée

He was the son of a doctor and studied law at the university of Padua, where he came under the influence of humanism and became professor of civil law. When he returned to France, he became President of treasury in Paris in 1554. Catherine de Médicis named him chancellor in 1560 – his task was to conduct a policy of reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants. He tried to curb the repression of the Protestants after the failure of their conspiracy at Amboise, and refused to sign Condé’s death sentence.

The failure of the Poissy colloquium

He was a supporter of a national council and promoted of the Poissy colloquium (1561). This failed because both parties were uncompromising in their attitudes : the Protestants were represented by Théodore de Bèze and the Catholics by the cardinal of Lorraine.

Nonetheless, the wars of religion began in 1562. Catherine de Médicis held Michel de l’Hospital responsible for the fact that his policy of moderation had failed : he resigned from his post as chancellor in 1568.

A writer and patron of the arts

  • Postage stamp depicting Michel de L'Hospital © Collection privée

As a writer, Michel de l’Hospital was well-known for his Epistles – he also protected the Pleiade poets and drew up ordinances for the reform of the law and the administration of the country.


  • Books
    • AMPHOUX Michel, Michel de l’Hospital et la liberté de conscience au XVIe siècle, Fischbacher, Paris, 1900
    • BUISSON Albert, Michel de l’Hospital, Hachette, Paris, 1950
    • CROUZET Denis, Michel de l’Hospital, Champ Vallon, Seyssel, 1998

Associated notes