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Memories of State: the treaty of Cambrai (1529)

Mémoires d’État : la Paix des Dames (1529)

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Published on Monday, March 22, 2021


Suite à l'acquisition de la minute originale de la Paix des Dames de 1529, scellant une paix fragile entre François Ier et Charles Quint, les archives diplomatiques souhaitent étudier les apports de ce traité à la connaissance de l'histoire des relations internationales, de la gestion documentaire et mémorielle et du rôle des femmes dans les jeux de pouvoir de la Renaissance.



In 2019, with the support of the Friends of the Diplomatic Archives association, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs acquired a major collection of archives of the L’Aubespine family, allied to the Sully-Béthunes, former owners of the Château de Villebon where these archives were conserved. This collection of around 250 pieces is made up of largely unpublished diplomatic correspondance from the 16th century, including 44 letters from Sébastien de L’Aubespine, Ambassador to Spain, to Henri II, Catherine de’ Medici, the Lorraines or Montmorency, 31 letters from Raymond de Fourquevaux, Ambassador to Spain, to Catherine de’ Medici, 24 letters from the Ambassador to Switzerland, Guillaume du Plessis, to Henri II, Montmenency and Sébastien de l’Aubespine, and letters from Nicolas de Neufville, seigneur of Villeroy, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

In addition to this correspondence, there is a most exceptional piece: a copy of the Treaty of Cambrai of 3 August 1529, bearing the signatures of Louise de Savoie, mother of François I, and Margaret of Austria, Governor of the Netherlands and aunt of Charles V. The owners have agreed to hand it free of charge to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to supplement the Treaty Collection. This gesture fills a major hole for France’s institutions, as the original treaty could not be found in public collections. The Diplomatic Archives hitherto held only the powers granted by François I, and some of the ratifications, while the National Archives and National Library had only copies of the text of of the final ratification by the King of France.

This major acquisition offers a remarkable source for historians, and formal study could help renew the understanding of this historic episode in the conflict between France and the Holy Roman Empire: a conflict marked by François I’s captivity at the hands of Charles V following the Battle of Pavia.

This seminar, planned for November 2021 at the initiative of the Archives Directorate of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will follow on from the international seminars in Liège and Bourg-en-Bresse in 2017-2018 on the Paix des Dames (1529) (eds. Jonathan Dumont, Laure Fagnart, Pierre-Gilles Girault and Nicolas Le Roux, to be published by Presses Universitaires François Rabelais of Tours). It sets itself apart, however, by focusing on these archives, now incorporated into public collections open to researchers, and particularly the rediscovered treaty.

This call for papers is open to all researchers, curators and historians specialized in the countries concerned by the treaty, which cemented Charles V’s domination of Europe in the 1520s and 1530s.

Main themes

Two main focuses are proposed:

1 -– Archives

Based on a survey of the “archipelago of collections” where the documents marking the different stages of the treaty’s history, from negotiation through to later exploitation by lawyers (as precedent) and scholars (as sources), papers will seek to reconstruct the history of the treaty’s “archiving”, with a particular focus on this archaeology of private archive collections, conserved intact or, on the contrary, spread far and wide through donation and sale. The paths taken by the documents, considered here more as historical artefacts than as sources, whether they reached private collections or were incorporated, by sequestration, claims, purchases or donations, into nascent public archives (Trésor des Chartes, Diplomatic Archives), is revelatory of the stages of stratification of a “memory of State”.

2 – Diplomatics and history

Following the path laid by the seminar the École des Chartes dedicated to “Diplomacy and Diplomatics in Modern Times: Treaties” (ed. Olivier Poncet, École des Chartes, 2015), papers will build on analysis of the formulation and extrinsic characteristics of the treaty, so as to clarify the procedures from its drafting to its entry into force, referring to previous texts such as the Treaty of Madrid of 1526, terminated by François I as soon as it was concluded.

This perspective will help address the production of a treaty, its authors and the phases of its conception, in the specific case of this astonishing “Paix des Dames” where two women were called upon to act as regents in exceptional circumstances, at least for France which faced the captivity of its King and then of his sons.

The subject of this study is the treaty’s diplomatics, a “reflection of the power relations and cultures of the societies in which it developed and evolved” (O. Poncet).

Submission guidelines

Proposals should be submitted by 30 April, and the programme will be published by 30 May.

Discussions may be held remotely, given the current context. Publication of the texts is planned after the seminar, including an annotated edition of the treaty and of additional documents.

For any questions concerning proposals, please contact Ms Isabelle Nathan, Head of the Public Access Department (isabelle.nathan@diplomatie.gouv.fr) and Mr Guillaume Frantzwa, Head of the Treaties Unit (guillaume.frantzwa@diplomatie.gouv.fr).

Scientific committee

  • Olivier Poncet, professeur à l’école des Chartes
  • Jean-Marie Le Gall, professeur à l’université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • Amable Sablon du Corail, conservateur en chef, chef du département Moyen-Âge et Ancien Régime aux Archives nationales
  • Cédric Michon, professeur à l’université Rennes II
  • Aubrée David-Chapy, docteure en histoire, Sorbonne Université / Paris IV
  • Isabelle de Conihout, experte livre ancien, mandataire de la famille pour la vente des archives de Villebon


  • 3 rue Suzanne Masson
    La Courneuve, France (93)


  • Friday, April 30, 2021


  • France, Empire, Espagne, Pays-Bas, Cambrai, guerres d'Italie, François ier, Louise de Savoie, Charles Quint, Marguerite d'Autriche, traité, paix, mariage


  • Guillaume Frantzwa
    courriel : guillaume [dot] frantzwa [at] diplomatie [dot] gouv [dot] fr

Information source

  • Guillaume Frantzwa
    courriel : guillaume [dot] frantzwa [at] diplomatie [dot] gouv [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Memories of State: the treaty of Cambrai (1529) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, March 22, 2021, https://doi.org/10.58079/169a

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