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Short biography
Charlotte de Mornay, née Charlotte Arbaleste de la Borde, was born in Paris to an aristocratic French family. Her father Guy Arbaleste, vicomte de Melun, seigneur de la Borde, converted to Protestantism, while her mother Madeleine remained a devout Catholic. Charlotte herself left the Catholic Church and became a Protestant (Huguenot). At age 17, she married Jean de Feuquères, who died shortly afterwards while she was pregnant with their daughter. In 1572, Charlotte fled to Sedan, then an independent Huguenot principality, to escape the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacres. She wrote a memoir of these events, which garnered her some fame. In Sedan, she met Philippe de Mornay, seigneur du Plessis-Marly, a prominent French Huguenot diplomat, soldier, and writer who had also narrowly survived the massacre. She had no intention of remarrying, but they spent much time together talking and became good friends; when he proposed, she accepted. They married in 1576 and went on to have 9 children. Her husband became one of the most trusted advisors of the Huguenot Henri of Navarre (later King Henri IV of France). She accompanied her husband on his embassies to London, Flanders, Gascony, and other places. During her travels, she befriended many prominent Protestants such as Francis Walsingham, Mary Sidney, and Sir Philip Sidney, and entertained for her husband. After Henri IV won the French throne and converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 1593, they were forced to retire to Saumur, where her husband served as governor. Charlotte kept a record of all of her husband's writings, statements, and political activities, and began writing his memoirs in 1584. Her aim was to produce an account of his life for their oldest son, Philippe. In 1595, she gave the writing that she had done thus far to Philippe as he was leaving home, but continued to work on the memoir for another 10 years. In 1605, after she learned that her son had been killed fighting with the army of Prince Maurice of Nassau, she gave up writing and died not long after. The manuscript of her book, Memoires de Messire Philippe de Mornay, was preserved in the Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne and finally published in 1824. It has since appeared until the title A Huguenot Family in the XVI Century: the Memoirs of Philippe de Mornay.
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