The article presents the settlements and household accounts following the death of Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti, as well as testamentary and pre-mortem bequests the prince made to provide for his servants. Surviving documents show the decision taken by the executors of the last will, while the books reveal ambiguous, sometimes astonishing variation of amounts designated as wages and lifetime stipends for the prince’s domestics, as well as attest to the concern of the testator himself and his wife for the fates of people engaged in the household.
The article discusses the testamentary bequests and the attached instructions which Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti, cousin of Louis XIV younger brother of the Great Condé, made in view of the approaching death for the benefit of people of his household. In his young years, he rebelled against his father, who had intended him for the clergy, and then against the king, becoming one of the most active leaders of the Fronde. Ultimately, he became reconciled with the monarch, which he achieved through marriage with the niece of Cardinal Mazarin, Anna Maria Martinozzi. Having associated himself with the Jansenists, he adopted the principles of moral rigour. In his last will, the prince apologized to the people around him for the grievous example he had set as a rebel, and provided for a part of his servants in separate bequests. The documents in question are concerned chiefly with those domestics of the prince who upon his death had to leave his household, as well as with the various settlements made by the widow during the months following her husband’s departure. The accounts reveal how Armand de Bourbon remunerated his servants and how he, as well as his wife, sought to ensure further welfare of people once employed at their court and had to be dismissed upon the prince’s death. This involved paying outstanding compensation for their service and settlements of potential debts. This may be inferred to have been due to changes in the organization of the household, but also interpreted as an act for the peace of prince’s soul and due execution of his last will, in which he called for all his liabilities to be settled.