Precipiano, Humbert William, Count of

Precipiano, Humbert William, Count Of a Spanish prelate of French birth, was a native of Besançon, where he was born in 1626. He came from an ancient family, originally from Genoa. He was canon at Besançon, counselor-clerk at the Parliament of Dole, and abbé of Bellevaux in 1649. In 1661 he was elected high-dean of the chapter, but the validity of his election was contested by the Holy See. He found a compensation in the confidence of king Philip IV of Spain. In 1667 he was delegated by the states of Burgundy, with his brother Prosper- Ambroise, to the Diet of Ratisbon. The talents which he displayed on that occasion were rewarded five years later by his nomination to the dignity of supreme counselor of Charles II for the affairs of Burgundy and the Netherlands. His nomination to the episcopal see of Bruges in 1682, whence he passed in 1689 to the archiepiscopal see of Mechlin, was the reward of his devotion to Don Juan of Austria. His zeal for the consolidation of the ultramontane doctrines was so great that he imagined a formulary more exacting than that of Alexander VII. Two decrees of the Inquisition (Jan. 28 and Feb. 6. 1694) condemned the new formulary. The prelate refused to submit to the decrees. Innocent XII enjoined all bishops of Belgium to abandon those quarrels, which had already lasted too long, and which the fanaticism of Precipiano endeavored to revive. In 1696 he recommended, somewhat harshly, a little more moderation to the archbishop of Mechlin. The great blot in Precipiano's life is his consent to the Jesuits for the arrest of Quesnel (q.v.), May 30,1703, at Malines. The cities of Bruges, Besanon. Brussels, Mechlin, and the abbey of Bellevaux are in possession of monuments of the magnificence and piety of this prelate. He died at Brussels June 9, 1711. See Hist. eccls. du 18me Sikcle, vol. 1; Calundrier ecclus. ann. 1757; Fuller, Dict. Hist. s.v. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Géneralé, s.v.

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