1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sancy, Nicolas de Harlay, Seigneur de
SANCY, NICOLAS DE HARLAY Seigneur de (1546–1629), French soldier and diplomatist, belonged to the Protestant branch of the family of Harlay but adopted the Catholic religion in 1572 during the massacres of the Huguenots. In 1589 he obtained in Geneva and Berne sums sufficient to raise an army of mercenaries for Henry III., partly by the sale of jewels, among them the "Sancy" diamond which in 1835 found its way to the Russian imperial treasure, and partly by leading the Swiss to suppose that the troops were intended for serious war against Savoy. Henry IV. made him superintendent of his finances in 1594, but in 1599 he was replaced by Sully. Meanwhile he had been a second time converted to Catholicism, but his influence at court waned, and he retired from public life in 1605. He survived until the 13th of October 1629, leaving a Discours sur l’occurrence des affaires.
His son, Achille Harlay de Sancy, bishop of Saint Malo (1581–1646), was educated for the church but resigned his vocation for the career of arms on the death of his elder brother in 1601. For seven years, from 1611 to 1618, he was ambassador at the Turkish court, where he amassed a fortune of some £16,000 sterling by doubtful means, and was bastinadoed by order of the sultan for his frauds. Harlay de Sancy was a learned man and a good linguist, who used his opportunities to acquire a valuable collection of oriental MSS., many of which are now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. On his return to France he joined the Oratorian Fathers, and when Marshal Bassompierre was sent to England in 1627 to regulate the differences between Henrietta Maria and her husband, Harlay de Sancy was attached to the queen's ecclesiastical household, but Charles I. secured his dismissal. He became bishop of St Malo in 1632, and died on the 20th of November 1646.