Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

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Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (September 27, 1627 – April 12, 1704) was a French bishop and theologian, renowned for his sermons and other addresses. He has been considered by many to be one of the most brilliant orators of all time and a masterly French stylist.

Court preacher to Louis XIV of France, Bossuet was a strong advocate of political absolutism and the divine right of kings. He argued that government was divine and that kings received their power from God. He was also an important courtier and politician.

The works best known to English speakers are three great orations delivered at the funerals of Queen Henrietta Maria, widow of Charles I of England (1669), her daughter, Henriette, Duchess of Orléans (1670), and the outstanding soldier le Grand Condé (1687).



Early life and education, 1627-48

Bossuet was born at Dijon. He came from a family of prosperous Burgundian lawyers - on both his paternal and maternal side, his ancestors had held legal posts for at least a century. He was the fifth son born to Beneigne Bossuet, a judge of the parlement (a provincial high court) at Dijon, and Marguerite Mouchet. His parents decided on a career in the church for their fifth son, so he was tonsured at age 10.

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