There are few sources of information about Madame de Gondi’s life, and the prevailing view has held that she was selfish, insecure, and neurotic. This sketch of her many virtues comes from a 1630 collection of women’s lives written by Brother Hilarion de Coste and appears to have been unknown to Pierre Coste and other scholars of Vincent de Paul’s relationship with Madame de Gondi. Brother Hilarion’s information came from oral and published sources, and he also knew Vincent, quoting him regarding one incident. This portrait of Madame de Gondi has particular authenticity. In accordance with contemporary expectations of women, Brother Hilarion praises her obedience to and dependence on her spiritual directors. He also cites her intelligence, which suggests that her submissiveness was, as Barbara Diefendorf says, “a deliberate conformity to an expected social role—and not an innate character trait.” Her care for her vassals and her management of her estates do not conform to her image as “clinging and demanding.” Reasons for the prevalence of this image are discussed in Diefendorf’s introduction.
Rybolt, John E. C.M., Ph.D. and Diefendorf, Barbara B.
"Madame de Gondi: A Contemporary Seventeenth-Century Life,"
Vincentian Heritage Journal: Vol. 21
, Article 1.
Available at: http://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol21/iss1/1