(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Women And Men Of The French Renaissance"

3 

3 

i 
jt 



320.04 



y 
^ 

^ 





is Volume is for 
1RENCE USE ONLY 



nTg^it^irfli^Qigw^fig^^ 




MARGUERITE DE VAI.OIS, RKIN'K I)K NAVAUHK, StKUK IU-! FKAN* 

D'AFH^S COKNKTI.KK in>: I.YON 



Esiimpes d& la Bibtfolheqitt Neitfot 



VOMEN AND MEN OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 



WOMEN AND MEN 

OF THE FRENCH 

RENAISSANCE 



BY EDITH SICHEL 



WITH NUMEBOUS ILLUSTRATIONS 



Mais les bons et louables esprits sout ceux.., 
qui osent avoir une passion, une admiration haute* 
ment placee et qui la suivent. 



WESTMINSTER 
ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE & Co. f Lm 

PHILADELPHIA 

J. R LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 

1901. 



CONTENTS 

LIST OF WORKS CONSULTED ............. XIII 

HISTORICAL SUMMARY .............. XVII 

BOOK I 

THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

CIIAX'TKB PAGJS 

I THE RENAISSANCE IN FRANCE ......... 3 

II THE WOMEN OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE ..... 15 

III THE SCHOLARS OF THE RENAISSANCE. ...... 35 

IV THE ARTISTS OF THE RENAISSANCE ....... 59 

BOOK II 

MARGARET OK ANGOITLJSMK AND THE RENAISSANCE 

V THE COURT OF LOUISE DE SAVOIE ....... 77 

VI MAROARF/r OF ANGOULftME , ........ 97 

VII THE KING'S LOVE AFFAIRS .......... 109 

VIII THE MYSTICS OF MEAUX ...... * .... 127 

IX CHARLES DE MONTP&NBIER, THE CONSTABLE OF FRANCE. 135 

X THE SPANISH CAPTIVITY ........... 14*9 

XI THE QUEEN OF NAVARRE .......... l65 

xn JEANNE D'ALBRBT. , . . . ........ 197 

BOOK III 

KABFXAIK AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES 



XIII CL&MENT MAROT * 
BONAVENTURE 0ES P^RIBRS 

XIV LYONS AND LOUISE LABfi . 



VIII 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER PAGE 

XV ETIENNE DOLET 245 

XVI RABELAIS 259 

XVII GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUEL 284 

THE FAITH OF RABELAIS 2)7 

BOOK IV 

END OF THE REIGN 

XVIII THE LATER YEARS OF FRANCIS I 309 

XIX THE FRENCH ARTISTS 323 

XX THE RISE OF THE PLF'i'ADE 333 

XXI THE LAST DAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE .... 3/53 

INDEX 37<) 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Marguerite de Valois, Scour de Francois I . , . Frontispiece 
Device of Queen Claude (from the Palace of Blois) Face page 62 

The Tomb in the Church of Brou " 66 

Figure from the same Tomb 68 

Louise de Savoie, Madame la Regente (d'apres 

Jean Clouet) , 9 76 

Le Seigneur de Fleuranges (from Portraits des 

personnages francais les plus illustres: NIEL) . 86 

La Comtesse de Chateaubriand (from Portraits des 

personnages francais les plus illustres: NIEL) . 112 

Charles de Montpensier^ Connetable de Bourbon 

(d'apres un dessin du Mus6e d*Aix) .... }3 136 
Rleanore d'Autiiche^ Reine de Francois I (from 
Portraits des personnages francais les plus il- 
lustres : NIEL) yy l6S 

Francois Rabelais (d'apres un dessin de Gaignieres) S58 

Diane de Poitiers,, la grande Sdn^chale (d*apres 

Jean Clouet) 312 

Marguerite de Valois, Reine de Navarre (d'apres 

Jean Clouet) 352 



P li K F A C E 

IT has been difficult to find a title modest enough for a 
book which in no way claims to be a chronicle of events, 
political or military. It is merely a personal history an 
effort to recall a few of the less- known figures that moved 
and had their being in France, in the first half of the six- 
teenth century. 

My best thanks are due to Mr. J. G-. Ritchie for the 
help he has given me in making my 6tf Historical Sum- 
mary"; and also to Mr. Henry Newbolt, editor of the 
" Monthly Review ", for his kindness in allowing me to re- 
print part of Chapter XVII from an article (" The Religion 
of Rabelais *") which appeared in the number of that periodical 
for December, 1900. 

M. de Maulde's new book, " Les Femmes de la Renaissance,'"' 
which (though written from a very different point of view) 
covers much the same period as my own, unfortunately ap- 
peared some time after I had written my volume too late 
for me to profit by its store of information. 

London, February 28th, 1901. 



LIST OF WORKS CONSULTED 



CONTEMPORARY 

Lettres de Marguerite d'Angouleme. 

Nouvelle Lettres de Marguerite d'Angouleme. 

Les Marguerites de la Marguerite des Princesses: Poemes de 

Marguerite d'Augoulerae: FRANCK. 
Nouvelles Poesies de Marguerite d'Angoulme: GKNIN. 
Poesies du Roi Francois I, de Louise de Savoie, Duchesse 

d'Angouleme;, de Marguerite Reiue de Navarre et Correspon- 

danee intime du Roi avee Diane de Poitiers et plusieurs 

autres dames de la Cour. 
Lettres de Diane de Poitiers: GUIFFRY. 
Lettres de Catherine de Medicis, 
Oraison Furiebre sur Marguerite d'Angoul&ne : CHARLES DIS 

SAINTB-MARTHE. 

Le Tombeau de la Heine de Navarre. 
Recit d*un Bourgeois de Paris du Seizieme Siecle: edited by 

LALANNE. 

tfoumal de Louise de Savoie. 
Histoire de Louis XII; JEAN DE SAINT-GKLAIS. 
Histoire den Choses Memorables: FLEURANGE. 
Memoires de Guillaume du Bel lay. 
Lettres de Jean du Bellay contained in VEntrevuc de Francois I 

et Henry VIII a Boulogne-sur-Mer : P&RB HAMY* 
Memoirs of Benvenuto Cellini. 
Vie de Ronsard: BINKT, 
Histoire de Lyon: PARADIN, 
Histoire de Notre Temps: PARADIN, 
Histoire de Beam et de Foix: OLHAOARAY. 
Histoire Catholique: HILARION DE LA COSTE. 
Dames Illustres: HILAEION DE LA COSTS. 



xiv LIST OF WORKS CONSULTED 

Dames Illustres: BRANTOME. 

(Euvres de Brantome: Vol. vn. 

Gargantua et Pantagruel: RABELAIS. 

Epitres de Francois Rabelais & Monseigneur I'Eveque de Mail- 

lezais. Ecrites pendant son voyage d'ltalie : RABELAIS. 
L'Heptameron: MARGUERITE D'ANGOULMB. 
Les Soupirs : OLIVIER DE MAGNY. 
(Euvres poetiques de Louise Labe. 
Le Debat de Folie et d* Amour: LOUISE LABU. 
(Euvres poetiques de Clement Marot, de Pierre Ronsardj de 

Joachim du Bellay. 

(Euvres Choisies de Ronsard: SAINTE-BEUVE. 
CEuvres Choisies de Joachim du Bellay: BECQ DE FouQUifciiEs. 
Defense de la Poesie: JOACHIM DU BELLAY, 
Cymbalum Mundi: BONA VENTURE DES P&RIERS. 
Le Second Enfer etc.: ETIENNE DOLET (Lyons, 1544). 
Deux Dialogues de Platon, Philosophe divin et surnaturel, nou- 

vellement traduite en langue fran^aise: ETIENNE DOLET. 
U Architecture : PHI LIBERT DE L'ORME. 
Poetes Francais depuis le Douzieme Siecle jusqut\ Maleshcrbc. 

BIOGRAPHICAL 

Marguerite de Valois: LA COMTESSE D'HAUSSONVILLE, 

Conferences sur Marguerite d'Angoul^me: LURO, 

Le Livre d'Etat de Marguerite d'AngouI&me: LK COMTK DE LA 

FERRI&RE. 

Les Femmes des Valois: SAINT-AMAND. 
Biographical Preface to "Lettres de Marguerite D'Angoulcme: 

GKNIN. 
Biographical Preface to Les Marguerites de la Marguerite den 

Princesses: FRANCE 

Trente Ans de Jeunesse; DE MAULDE LA CLAYifeni;. 
Life of Margaret of Angouleme: MARY ROBINSON. 
Jeanne d'Albret: Miss FREER. 
Le Chateau de Pau: LAGI^ZE. 
Etudes sur Francois I: PAUMN PARIS. 
Vie de Kabelais: FLEURY, 



LIST OF WORKS CONSULTED xv 

Vie de Rabelais: RENE MILLET. 

Vie cie Clement Marot (Biographical Preface to his works) : 

H KRICAULT. 

Biographical Preface to the selected works of Joachim du Bellay * 

BECQ DE FoUQUIjfcRES. 

Vie de Louise Labe (Preface to Works) : BLANCHEMAIN. 
Dictionnaires de Bayle ; ChaufFepie ; La Croix du Maine ; and 

Colletet. 

Causeries de Lundi; SAINTB-BEUVE. 
Collection Litte>aire: KERALIO. 
Vie de Clouet: BOUCHOT. 
Vie de Philibert de FOrme: VACHOKT. 
Life of Etienne Dolet: CHRISTIE. 
Caracteres et Portraits: 



LITERARY AND CRITICAL 



Tableau du Seizieme Siecle; 

Etude.s Littck-aires, ; BRUNETIRE. 

Histoire do la Litterature^francaise: RENE DouM'ic. 4 ..... 

La Morale des Femmesi L'ttoouvft. 

Les Femmes de Brantdxneb -BoucnoT, 

HISTORICAL 

Histoire de France (Vol. vn): HENRI MARTIN". 

La Renaissance: MICHELET. 

La Reformer MICIIICUCT. 

The French Renaissance: MRS, PATTISON. 

Pictures of the old French Court: CATHERINE BKARNT. 

Old Touraine: ANDREA COOK. 

For Contemporary historical authorities see under " Contemporary "" 



AUTHOR'S NOTE. 

With regard to the portrait described on p. 98, the 
author learns, too late to correct the text, that it is 
ascribed to Corueillc de Lyoii, instead of to Clouct. 



HISTORICAL SUMMARY 
OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS 

LOUIS XIII 
(1498 1515) 

He married Anne de Bretagne after divorcing his first wife,, 
the daughter of Louis XI. His Minister and right-hand man 
was Georges, Cardinal d*Amboise, a great financial reformer. 
The King had claims not only on Naples, but on Milan, in 
right of his grandmother, Valentine, heiress of the Visconti. 

CONTEMPORARY SOVEREIGNS 

LEO X, HENRY VII of England, FERDINAND THE CATH- 
OLIC of Spain, the Emperor MAXIMILIAN. 

14991500 The French took possession of Milan and, at the 
battle of Novara, made a prisoner of the Duke 
Ludovico Sforza, who was imprisoned for ten years 
in France and died at Loches. In concert with 
Ferdinand the Catholic of Spain, France then took 

1503 Naples, but lost it again through Spanish treachery; 

the battle of Cerignola completed the French disasters. 
Louis retaliated by a fresh invasion both of Naples 
and of Spain. In Italy Bayard made his intrepid 
defence of the Bridge of Garigliano, but in vain : 
the French were defeated in both countries. 

1506 Louis treated with Ferdinand. Meanwhile Venice, 

profiting by the troubles of the other States, acquired 
territory ail round. By the exertions of Julius II 

1508 (Raphael's Patron) the League of Cambrai was formed 

between Julius, Maximilian, Spain, and France. The 



xvni HISTORICAL SUMMARY 

French, led by Louis,, took the initiative in attaek- 

1 509 ing the Venetians ; and defeated them at the battle of 

Agnadel. The Allies divided the Venetian domains. 

1511 Having gained his ends against Venice, Julius II 
conspired with Ferdinand to drive France out of 
Italy, and made the Holy League between them- 
selves, England, the Swiss and the Venetians. Gas- 
ton de Foix, the courageous young French general, 
was the spirit of the campaign ; but he was killed at 

1512 Ravenna, where the French were victorious. They 
were, notwithstanding, gradually expelled from Italy. 
Louis made another descent on the Milanese terri- 

1513 tories and was defeated at the second battle of 
Novara. The complicated politics of this year 
resulted in his making peace with Henry VIII, 
Maximilian and Ferdinand, after the Battle of the 
Spurs, near Guinegate. 

1514 Anne de Bretagne died on January f)th, and on 
August 7th, Loxiis made a second marriage with 
Mary Tudor, Henry VIIFs sister. 

1515 The King died, 

FRANCIS I 
(15151547) 

Married (1) to Claude of France: (2) to Eleanor of Portugal. 

CONTEMPORARY SOVEREIGNS 

POPES LEO X; CLEMENT VII; and PAUL III. 
HENRY VIII who came to the English throne in 1509. 
CHARLES V of Austria and Spain, who was elected as Em- 
peror in 1519. 

1515 The King, discontented with Louis XH's treaties 

with Italy, resolved on a policy of aggression. He 
crossed the Alps at the head of his army, descended 
on Milan and won the battle of Marignan, routing 
the Swiss mercenaries, The fight resulted in the 



HISTORICAL SUMMARY xix 

Treaty of Fribourg with the Swiss, and a Concordat 
1516 with the Pope, Leo X. 

1519 Imperial Election. Candidates : Charles V, Francis I, 
Henry VIII. Charles V was elected. 

1520 Field of the Cloth of Gold. Francis failed to win over 
Henry VI II, who formed an alliance with the Emperor. 

1521 1525 Charles V made war against the French. Francis 
was beaten on his three frontiers those of Spain,, 
Flanders and Italy. He was defeated at Pampluna 
and ended by losing Navarre. Also Milan, which 
revolted against the Governor, Lautrec, who was 
finally defeated at Bicocca (1522). The Constable 

1523 of France deserted to the side of the Emperor and 
made a secret treaty with Charles and with Henry 
of England. 

1524 Disasters for the French in Italy. Bayard was 
killed at Gattinara. The Constable invaded France 
and besieged Marseilles unsuccessfully. He was 
followed across the Alps by Francis, who engaged 
in the siege of Pavia, and was defeated and taken 

1525 prisoner at the battle of that name, 

1525 1526 The captivity of Francis in Spain. He made the 
Treaty of Madrid with Charles V, but never intended 
to keep it, and returned to France only to repudiate it. 

1527 The Constable marched to Rome with an army of 

German adventurers and was killed as he scaled its 
walls. Rome was sacked and the Pope imprisoned. 

1529 The Peace of Cambrai, or La Paix des Dames, was 

concluded: a Peace negotiated between the Em- 
peror's aunt, Margaret of Austria, and Louise de Savoie, 
% Francis* mother. There was no war for six years. 

1529 The College de France was founded. 

1531 Death of Louise de Savoie. 

1533 Marriage of the Dauphin with Catherine de M^dicis, 

niece of Clement VII. 

1533 1535 Terrible persecution of the Protestants. It had 
begun before this, during the Regency of Louise 



xx HISTORICAL SUMMARY 

de Savoie, and there had been fresh outbursts after 
the King's return,, notably in 1528. 
Francis was tolerant, or not, as expediency demanded. 
Much depended on the Protestant German Princes,, 
who allied themselves to him whenever they needed 
his protection against the Catholic Charles. But 
when Charles* policy inclined him to leniency 
towards them, the position was reversed. 

1536 Hostilities resumed with the Emperor. Francis 

occupied Savoy and Piedmont. Charles invaded and 
ravaged Provence. 

1538 He had to retreat and a truce was made at Nice. 

1539 He visited Francis at Paris, but would not be won 
over. 

154*1 1544< New war between him and France. Francis cast 
about for allies and formed a league with Solimaii 
the Magnificent, Sultan of Turkey a pact which 
offended the other Powers. The Turks invaded 
Hungary, marched to the walls of Vienna and 
diverted the imperial forces. Francis won a great 

1544 but fruitless victory at Cerisole, in Piedmont. 

154*4 1,546 Henry VIII and Charles V invaded France, but 
they did not work well together and Charles made 
peace with France at Crepy. 
Henry followed suit in 1546*. 

1547 Death of Francis I. Henry VIII died the same year ; 

Charles V in 1556. 



BOOK ! 
THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER I 

Histoire des Choses Meinorables : FUCURANGE:. 

R<6cit d'uft Bourgeois cie Paris : edited by LALANNK. 
Memoires de Guillaume du Bellay. 
1'Heptaraeron : MARGUERITE B'ANoouLftME, 
GGuvres de Rabelais. 

Etudes sur Frangois I : PAULIN PARIS. 
X*es Femmes de Brantdme : BOUCHOT. 

Tableau du Seixdeme Siecle : SAINTJS-BKUVK. 
JLa Renaissance (Histoire de France) ; MICIIKLKT. 
Histoire de France : HKNHI MARTIN. 
Life of Eti&nne Dolet : CHRISTIE. 

La Morale des Femmes : 



CHAPTER I 

THE RENAISSANCE IN FRANCE 

WHEN all is said and written the French Renaissance 
with its impulse towards beauty and learning remains a 
mystery as inexplicable as youth: with its sudden craving 
for poetry and knowledge, its religious doubts, its emotion. 
The Renaissance is the youth of Western Nations, when 
the impassioned mind beholds the world for the first time 
in all its significance, when the senses are intensified and 
the relations of things are changed. 

The French Renaissance began with Charles VIIFs return 
from the wars in Italy at the end of the fifteenth century, 
a hundred years later than the Italian Renaissance. Unlike 
the latter, it was a movement springing rather from the 
head than the imagination, and required the inspiring influ- 
ence of some other country to arouse and to shape it./" In 
this, as in much else, France was not originative ; and when 
we examine the French Renaissance it is the essential French 
qualities that we find there the qualities which make and 
mar the France of to-day. There is the gay philosophy 
of common sense and daily life; the good humour and the 
scepticism which come of living in the present ; the graceful 
imagination, never too great to be useful, which built the 
delicious Chateaux of the Loire, planned their gardens and 
adorned them with fantastic sculptures; which painted toe 



4 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

the portfolios of Court portraits, subtle interpretations of 
character and the main contribution of France to contem- 
porary painting. Its national faculties arc rather critical 
than creative, and so is its Renaissance* 

But when We speak of the Renaissance we speak of an 
oceanic movement of movement within movement. To 
handle It as a whole is a work too vast for limited space 
and powers; to describe one little corner of it is a task 
sufficiently difficult. Such is our restricted aim. The reign 
of Francis I covers the best period of the earlier Renais- 
sance; and it is this reign and the years that immediately 
preceded it which fix our choice. Between 1490 and 1550 
the modern world was born. Never was art, never was 
social life more significant than then* 

Art and social life are* in a great measure, dependent 
upon women s who in a time like this are bound to play a 
prominent part. There was one woman of the day whose* 
name has become identified with the French Renaissance 
whose life is like a symbol of it. This was Margaret of 
Angouleme, sister of Francis I, his counsellor and closest; 
friend. Her figure makes the natural centre of a record such 
as ours. Events and persons group themselves round her; 
she harmonizes while she dominates them, 

To picture her generation it is needful to try and eater 
Into its atmosphere and to watch the shifting scenes of the 
times. The OMteaux of the Loire, more aught 

conjure before tm the France of the day the France that 
stood at the parting of the ways between the old and 
the new. Sometimes exuberant fancy breaks in flower and 
hobgoblin over the sternness of the feudal towers; 



RENAISSANCE IN 5 

times In a new building the slenderest battlements crown 
an enchanted palace, like a delicate apology to the past; 
sometimes a sixteenth-century wing, richly carved. Is added 
to an old fortress; or the past is altogether extinguished 
in the sumptuous grace of the present. 

Every one of them evokes visions. From the gates of 
Blois and Chaumont there wind cavalcades, riding forth to 
the hunt in the forest: the ladies on their jewelled horses, 
some of them astride, dressed in green and scarlet and 
little caps with plumes the men in the slashes and diamonds 
and golden taffeta of their day ; or when Chivalry was 
revived for a Court game in the suits of ancient knights, 
well versed in Provencal ceremonies of the Courts of Love. 
They are probably singing Marofs fashionable Psalms set 
to popular tunes, as they amble along after the King, fol- 
lowed by a city of silken tents, 

Or it is the moonlight wedding of the Duke of Urbino 
at Amboise, " qui fut merveilleusoment triomphante .... et 
fut danse et balle le possible. Seventy-two damsels, dis- 
guised like Germans and Italians, accompany the minstrels 
with tambourines; torches make a light as bright as day; 
princes and peers are the dancers. The Pavane is the 
measure they are treading, and they hold the hands 
of laughing ladies whose dresses are stiff with gems : whose 
manners are the strangest mixture of royal etiquette 
and reckless easiness. They dance till morning they 
are never tired. All day they amuse themselves by watch- 
ing from their marble balcony the siege of the mock city 
that was built for the occasion; or by commenting on the 
skill and prowess with which the Jeunesse dor^e (Francois, Due 



6 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

d'Angouleme amongst them) outvie each other in their 
serious sport. 

Or the Court is moving from one Chateau to another, 
with all the unimaginable difficulties then implied by a 
journey. There were never less than three thoasand people 
in motion on the rough roads. In front go the " fourriers," 
to prepare lodgings for the King and his retinue in what- 
ever town or village can be reached before nightfall; next 
come cooksj patissiers, rotissiers, to set up the banquet- 
tables. Then follows the retinue itself: the glittering hedge 
of horsemen, at once escort and distraction to the pale 
beauties in mule-drawn litters. Their eyes are red from 
fatigue; they jolt along behind silken curtains, too much 
exhausted to listen to the bons-mots of their cavaliers. In 
the centre of all comes the royal litter 111 which the King, 
in white satin doublet, reposes on a white satin cushion. 
Behind this train files an endless series of officials, fore- 
stallers of every royal caprice. As they approach the village, 
bells ring, the Cure runs out, followed by the ragged vil- 
lagers, and hastens to greet the languid monarch. The 
Court alights and disposes itself chiefly in the peasants 1 
cottages. The State Chaperone, or Gouvernante, supervises 
the Ladies' Hut and performs the duties of the roll-call 
When she goes over the names she generally finds tlmt 
two or three of her charges have escaped, in their still* 
brocades, to pursue fresh amourettes beyond her ken. Not 
infrequently some of the ladies are left behind in the hut, 
ill from the effects of their journey, and they only join 
their companions at their leisure an easy matter when 
expeditions sometimes lasted for several weeks. 



THE RENAISSANCE IN FRANCE 7 

Or it is the Army setting forth for Italy, the King 
again conspicuous, as gay in armour as in satin ? with no 
more than a camp-bed for his needs, 

War was, indeed, the only cure for the vices of peace. 
The noblemen's houses in those days were Aladdin's palaces 
full of childish ingenuity of magnificence. The meals were 
a medley of artifice and barbarism. Ladies and gentle- 
men ate off one plate; tables* were set out to look like 
green lawns, with live birds and flowers upon them. Scores 
of Vaiiets acted as standing candlesticks, and the trumpets 
alone put an end to the toasts. The great Gaston Phebus, 
Duke of Beam and Foix, in Louis XIFs reign, was kept in 
good temper between the courses by a machines a surprise "" 
- a kind of show with a surprise in them. These "surprises* 
must have cost a fortune. One of them was a hollow moun- 
tain from which emerged babies dressed as savages, who 
danced an elaborate ballet. This may be puerile, but it is 
jovial Inventive luxury belongs to early days: it has a 
lavish freshness about it as different as possible from the 
tired luxury of decadence. 

These are Court scenes. The peasants and the middle- 
class had a life of their own. We may, if we please, witness 
a fantastic skirmish in the ample green valleys of the Loire, 
between the "Cake-bakers" and the "Vignerons." They 
have upset the Bakers 1 trays of "fouaces" as they carry them 
through the vineyards, up the hill to Chinon perhaps to 
the Patissier Innocent who lives hard by Rabelais'' home. 
Through the High Street clatters the Post s bringing news 
of the Italian wars to the Court at Blois. He has passed 
through many towns already, spreading his tidings in the 



8 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

larger ones by the "Letters'" that he carries: letters which 
axe printed and sold. Sometimes the news is brought North 
by companies of perambulating merchants who are returning 
from the fair at Lyons, the metropolis of the frontier. 

Each town is a world in itself with its own character 
unaffected by the rest. Paris ranks no higher than the 
others in civilization, and is only distinguished as one of 
the Court towns and the abode of the Parlement and the 
Sorbonne. Lyons stands higher as a centre of literature, art, 
trade, even of society ; Bourges boasts the better University* 
But there is life enough in the streets of Paris and of other 
towns too, for the matter of that -life that presents the 
same strange union of old and new, of violence and polish. 
Outside the Scholar-printer's shop a brawl rages and ends 
in murder; inside, two authors in furred cloaks are discuss- 
ing the nature of the soul From the shadow of the Tour 
de Nesle an assassin darts out at dusk to stab a rival or 
an over-opulent colleague : he escapes promiscuously ; next 
day a petty thief is hanged in the Place de la Greve Iti 
the Place des Halles, the "Enfants Sans Soiled 1 " (a troop of 
strolling-players) are acting a skit against the monks, loudly 
applauded by students, loungers, and market- women ; or else 
they are joking and sparring with the rival company of 
"les Basoches," in the winding alleys of the Marais* 

Francis I spends a fortune every year OB his pocket- 
handkerchiefs, and one of his tailor's bills amounts to 1 5,600. 
Upstart merchants follow suit, and brave it in costly silks. 
At the same moment the King issues a Sumptuary Edict 
forbidding the mercers to sell silk at all, except to tte 
Princes of the blood. But he does not disapprove of spend- 



THE RENAISSANCE IN FRANCE 9 

ing thousands on shows. Royal Birthdays, Royal Marriages, 
Royal Funerals must have lightened the Treasury consider- 
ably with their fancy dresses and processions, wax candles 
and draperies, black or scarlet. Every event is the signal 
for a pageant. In those days fairy cities, planned by the 
best artists and inhabited by Cupids, rose in a week to greet 
the King's return from his victories. Another time the 
monarch, torch in hand, heads a procession of copes and 
mitres to see a heretic burn; or a hooting crowd pursues 
another, who, wrapped in a sheet, is doing penance through 
the streets, until he at last prostrates himself on the " Parvis " 
of Paris the great stone slab before Notre Dame. 

Amidst all this changing and growing life, women are not 
the least noteworthy or the least puzzling figures. The whole 
Renaissance movement gave them great opportunities. The 
enthusiasm for beauty brought them into prominence. Art 
reproduced them in painting and sculpture* More than this, 
it furnished them with a field where their judgment was 
efficient and important, and gave them new topics of con- 
versation. It may safely be said that their position in a 
country is one of the distinctest signs by which the state 
of its society can be judged. In France' where the Arts 
became a social adornment, and the social art was fore- 
most, they had peculiar advantages; and here, where social 
habits had been ripening long before the Renaissance, there 
is ample opportunity for watching the growth of their 
power. 

Their relation to men is the chief index of their progress, 
and to trace the history of that relation is a fruitful theme 
for the philosopher. The Church helped their cause by its 



10 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

worship of the Virgin, and invented Abbesses as well as 
Saints political women and philanthropists. Chivalry made 
them prominent and surrounded them with a halo. With 
the Courts of Love there gradually grew up a metaphysical 
view of the passions, and every respectable lady had a 
Platonic u Serviteur," as well as an ordinary husband. The 
idea was often abused, but its primal beauty and sincerity 
had their effect on daily life. Women began to be re- 
spected as a sex, not only in exceptional cases. At the 
Court of the poet, Charles of Orleans, where nobody ever 
ceased rhyming, the women rhymed with the best of them, 
or honoured poetry by wearing their favourite ballades in 
their girdles. This was in the middle of the fifteenth 
century. The increased commercial intercourse with Italy, 
followed by Charles VIITs conquests in that country, brought 
new ideas into France ; and the poetic conceptions of Dante's 
Beatrice and PetrarcPs Laura had their share in affecting 
the current opinions about women. Chivalry and Feudalism 
were dying before the unknown forces of modern civilization* 
The change can be traced even in literary details* The 
romantic term ^Serviteur" is altered; it becomes **$(lr et 
parfaict Amy." A dispute began between the Court singern 
of Sacred and of profane Love. It grew into a fashionable 
feud immortalized by Titian's picture. Soon after 1500, 
the poetaster, Heroet, wrote a Platonic poem, u La parfaictc 
Amye." It was answered by Marot's friend, La Borderie* 
who, in his "Ange de Coeur," pleaded for profane Love; 
while the more domestic Fontaine put in a word for the 
legitimate joys of the hearth and published his of 

"Contr 1 Amyc." Love was regarded 110 an intellectual 



THE RENAISSANCE IN FRANCE 11 

exercise. It became a matter of breeding for every young 
gentleman to have a Platonic mistress who formed his man- 
ners. She was chosen for him by his parents or guardians 
without the faintest reference to his own wishes, or to any 
warmer motive than that of education and parental interests 
at Court. "Cette coutume avait telle force que ceux qui 
ne la suivaient etaient regardes comme mal-appris et n'ayant 
Fesprit capable dTionnete conversation," says a sixteenth- 
century writer. His own mistress, he tells us, took care 
to reprove him for all his mistakes. ** Nulle autre personne 
ne nfa tant aide de nfintroduire dans le monde." The 
French alone understand how to combine convenience with 
romance. This strange arrangement was probably part of 
the conscious revival of chivalry under Francis when chiv- 
alry was already a matter of history. Chivalric tales, chiv- 
alric dress, chivalric language, became the rage at Court. 
The King often came down in the morning accoutred like 
a knight & of old. He even issued a royal decree that any- 
one who spoke a word in dishonour of a woman should be 
hanged. The old terms of sentiment reappeared and min- 
gled with the now Platonic phrases : the phrases so soon 
assimilated by people of good tone from the rediscovered works 
of Plato, Much of this, of course, was superficial ; immorali- 
ties abounded and morality was still regarded as heroic 
never as a matter of course. But though purisms of Love 
are not virtue, they mean the existence of ideas more ab- 
stract than before. Even in the " Heptameron," which is 
a tissue of gallantries, they come more than once to the 
fore. The company of story-tellers is fond of reverting to 
the subject. "By my faith," quoth the impatient Sir 



IS THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Simontault; 3 " if you had felt love's fire as others have done, 
you would not thus turn it Into a Platonic theory -good 

for pen and paper, but not for use or practice " ** I 

dare not even think my thought," answers the idealist, 
Dagoucin, "for fear that my eyes may reveal it; for the more 
closely I keep the flame covered, the greater groweth my 
joy in knowing that I love perfectly." Precept and practice 
too often live apart, and the morals of Dagoucin's contem- 
poraries are one more proof of the platitude. It is difficult 
to reconcile the refinement and the coarseness of Francis Fs 
generation. The current notions of Platonic friendship, 
the fantastic conceits of intellect, came at the hour of emanci- 
pation, together with the bold throwing off of asceticism, 
with the unbridled spirits of holiday-making. Perhaps 
this concurrence of strange influences may count for some- 
thing in the curious state of morals that the age represents. 
It is one thing to enter into its atmosphere, and another 
to account for it. Yet without attempting the impossible* 
it will not be unhelpful to continue our study of its women ; 
and, before proceeding to its history, to look a little more 
closely at the ladies of the sixteenth century. 



THE WOMEN OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER II 

PART I 

Nouvelles Poesies : MARGUERITE D' ANGOULEME. 

Histoire de Notre Temps : PARADIN. 

CEuvres de Brantome (Vol. vn). 

Dames Illustres : BRANTOME. 

Dames Illustres : HILARION DE LA COSTK. 

FHeptameroii : MARGUERITE D'ANGOULEME. 

CEuvres de Rabelais. 

Le Chateau de Pau : LAOI&ZE. 

Marguerite de Valois: LA COMTESSE D*HAUSONVILLK. 

Les Femmes de Brantome: BOUCHOT. 

Collection Litteraire : KERALIO. 

La Morale des Fenixnes: LEGOUV&. 

La Vie de Philibert de FOrme : VACHON, 

Trente Ans de Jeunesse : DJS MAULOE LA 

PART II 

Histoire de Louis XII : JEAN DE ST.~GEL.UK. 

Appendix to FHeptameron. 
Histoire des Choses Memorables; FLEUEANGK. 
Trente Ans de Jeunesse: DB MAULDE LA 
Pictures of the old French Court; CATHBRIWR 
Les Femmes de BrantOme: BOUCWOT* 
Marguerite de Valois: LA COMTESSK 



CHAPTER II 



THE WOMEN OF THE FKENCH RENAISSANCE 



THESE women of the Renaissance are, indeed, a bewilder- 
ing psychological problem. The confusion of contrasts 
presented by them becomes overpowering, and so does their 
manifold energy. In the same person, often almost at the 
same moment, we find the noblest conduct and the lowest 
morals, the Stoic and the Epicurean, the Bacchante and the 
Student, learning and puerility, side by side. The King's 
sister Margaret, scholar, poet, and sage, builds up the pillars 
of the Temple in her Allegory from the tomes of Plato as 
well as from those of the New Testament. She promulgates 
an advanced naturalism and discusses metaphysics with the 
Reformers. Yet when her maid-in-waiting lies dying, she 
stands at her bedside in a mood more enquiring than sorrow- 
ful, and watches for the passing of the soul. It comes up 
(she has heard) by the throat and so out at the lips; and 
It is generally speedy, except in the case of the swan whose 
long neck causes some delay. The union of matter-of-fact- 
ness and imagination reminds us of what we see in children. 
Curiosity was the dominant appetite of the day and begot 
infinite credulity: and this at a time when good sense was 
shaking the foundations of the Church, as well amongst 



16 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

women as amongst men. Like children, too, the ladies loved 
adventure. They indulged in all manner of delicious esca- 
pades graceful, fantastic, reckless, such as turn the world 
into a Shakspeare comedy. If we want to enjoy their his- 
tories we must approach them as fairy tales as the chron- 
icles of an enchanted palace that knows nothing of moral 
responsibility. Then, perhaps, for a moment we too shall be 
infected and shall, like them, "partir d'un bon eclat dc 
rire" at their jolly casuistry, successful lying, and Shrove 
Tuesday amenities. 

The sudden Pagan enthusiasm for the forces of Nature, 
resulting from newly quickened senses and newly studied 
classics, had far-reaching effects on morals. Every age 
chooses a special virtue to admire and a special vice to 
abhor, and hypocrisy was the bugbear of the sixteenth 
century. Frankness and spontaniety were its idols. Nature 
was to them the secret school-master who, says Margaret, 
"teaches other lessons than those of the school-master at 
school." Brantome follows suit : a Nature, 1 ' he writes, a in 
very _ perfect, and if we follow such a good captain, we can 
never stray from the safe road." Unfortunately, neither he 
nor his contemporaries hesitated to " follow. 11 He applied 
his theories and severely censured any censure of 
Our Edward III came off very badly in his opinion for M 
imprisonment of his mother, Isabella, on account of her 
relations with Mortimer. "Such a little crime 11 he 
fully exclaims "little I call it, because it k natural** It 
requires a delicate and steady discrimination to the 

line between Nature and Licence, and delicacy was not tic* 
strong point of the sixteenth century. 



WOMEN OP FRENCH RENAISSANCE 17 

Contemporary literature gives us the lowest idea of the 
Mid-Renaissance women, from Francis Ps accession onwards. 
If we believe Brantome and the " Heptameron," our two great 
sources of information, we shall conclude that they had but 
one occupation, that of gallantry. In both these authorities 
the monotony of such a subject becomes nauseous. But they 
cannot be regarded as altogether veracious. The "Hepta- 
meron" is a Court record of Court scandals, and Brantome 
is also a Court biographer, with a love of impropriety. They 
must not be read without many side-glances at history. 
Great immorality there was, but it was sometimes exaggerated, 
and we must remember that the incredibly gross language 
and topics of the day did not always mean what they im- 
plied. Elaborate Platonic loves adopted the phrases and 
images of profaner passions and, however innocent or pedan- 
tic, created false impressions. Polite society encouraged the 
discussion of every subject between men and women. Modesty 
of speech was an insult to Nature, and if a thing existed 
it was worthy to be talked about. Perhaps it followed that 
the only prevailing idea of fun was associated with gallantry 
a tradition natural to the France of all times. No story 
was considered amusing in which someone did not deceive 
someone else about a love-affair. 

Contemporary records, then, are not libellous. They are 
only untrue in making gallantry the exclusive occupation of 
their heroines, instead of one amongst many. It has often 
been urged that the revolt from asceticism the slackening 
of spiritual authority was the reason of their moral laxity. 
It arose quite as much, perhaps more, from their prodigal 
vitality : the vitality of women whose heyday was also the 



18 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

heyday of the world. Everything is fresh to them. Here 
again they are like children on a fine day who leap be- 
cause they cannot keep still: their emotions are no more 
than an outlet for their superfluous energy. It found many 
others in which they indulged as keenly riding, shooting, 
practical jokes, or hunting, nothing came amiss to them. 
If we are to believe Brantome, a poor nobleman died of a 
broken heart because, whenever he tried to speak of his 
passion, his lady-love would only talk of the chase. She 
never thought of anything but stags and hounds; and at 
last, after many futile wishes to turn into a dog, as his only 
chance of happiness, he gave up the game and expired. 

Soldiering was another vent for their forces. Among the 
poorer classes it was followed as a lucrative profession. In 
the wars against the Emperor Maximilian, in Guienne, a 
certain Captain Dunois, pressed for time and money, formed 
a brigade of 850 girls to construct fortifications; he paid 
them at the rate of 1 franc 80 centimes a day- hardly more 
than half the wages of the cheapest workman. At another 
place he used .the same means to get the towers pierced 
with cannon-holes, and the walls and drawbridges repaired, 
all in one short month. If the lowly pursued arms for gain, 
the rich pursued them for glory, A contemporary writer 
tells us that ladies had been made both Captains and Gen- 
erals ; and in his wars in Picardy Francis thanked the women 
for the military service they had given them. One day, 
during the siege of La Rochelle, in his sotfs reign, the 
couraged enemy lifted their eyes to the, fort so 
held against them, and saw emerging OB the a 

regiment of white-robed ladies. TMs wm the 



WOMEN OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 10 

rison that had conducted the defence. Their white uniforms 
are a feminine touch. They said they were for clean ness: 
who shall say that they were not for coquetry also? Per- 
haps they wished to form a contrast to their sisters of Italy 
the troop of Signoras who "looked like a moving opaP 
when their captains drilled them in the Piazza of Siena. But 
neither in France nor in Italy did manoeuvres ever degenerate 
into ballets, and wherever women were soldiers real work 
was accomplished. 

There were, in fact, very few things which the women of 
those days did not attempt. There was a feminine architect, 
employed on the Tuileries (she bore the appropriate name of 
Mademoiselle du Perron); and Catherine de Medicis herself 
imposed her own plans on the builders of her palace. But 
the typical Renaissance lady did not devote herself to one 
art: she achieved a good deal of everything. Universality 
was her badge, and all she touched she did creditably 
generally with brilliance. Admirable Crichtons in the fe- 
minine gender abounded. Madame de Retz, for instance, 
in the latter half of the century, remains a monument of 
activity. She had ten children; she educated them herself; 
she became a great scholar; she gave herself up to the arts; 
she amused herself with many lovers ; she cheered the Court 
by her jokes; she led forth her troops in the King's name 
against her own son, who had joined the Ligue against the 
throne ; she routed him completely : and all this with a face 
that was not even beautiful No doubt she also ministered 
to starring dependents. Great ladies then acknowledged 
responsibilities towards the poor as a matter of course, and 
charity is by BO means the invention of our own 



20 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

times. The bad and the good King's mistresses and high- 
hearted spinsters seem to have divided its duties. The 
great Diane de Poitiers was the Dorcas of her almshouses 
at Anet. Old maids formed convent schools, often in the 
teeth of opposition. l In the sixteenth century there was 
but one Ursuline school ; in the middle of the seventeenth 
there were three hundred and ten. 

Letters even more than philanthropy were the general 
resource of able women. The pursuit of the classics was no 
longer exceptional, but an ordinary element of feminine 
education; and Brantome complains that the customary 
schoolroom reading of Virgil and Ovid frequently corrupted 
the imagination of young girls. There were many erudite 
rhymers there were many agreeable Minervas. More than 
one princess figured among their ranks and helped to make 
literature fashionable. Anne de Bretagne, though she could 
not read Latin, liked nothing better than to talk about 
Livy and to have learned works dedicated to her. Margaret 

1 There was Mademoiselle Sainte~Beuve 5 who took a lodging 
opposite the school she had built,, from which she could watch 
her "bees/* as she called them. The children were so fond of 
her that for a year after her death,, they laid her plate at 
their table and begged that a picture of her at her window 
might be painted. 

There was also Mademoiselle Saintonge, who was opposed by 
her father and stoned by the children of the town for her 
intention of founding a school Undaunted she left her home 
and, followed by five little girls, she moved into a 
though she had no money either for food or firing* Tea 
afterwards she was leading a procession through the 
to honour the opening of her big new Convent-school, 



WOMEN OF THE FRENCH BENAISSANCE 1 

of Angouleme had the real love of the Muses and was 
capable of sacrifice for their sake. So was her niece, Margaret 
of Savoy, the gracious friend of poets. There was also their 
cousin, Renee of Ferrara, daughter of Louis XII a sumpt- 
uous young scholar with Protestant leanings, divided hetween 
Olympus and Geneva. They wrote, they learned, they listen- 
ed. Literature and art were de bon ton. Every grandee 
had a crowd of poetasters dependent on his purse-strings, 
and the most modest government official felt himself bound 
to become a patron or an author. The Poetry of those days 
was no strain upon feeling or imagination. Metrical ex- 
pression of fictitious sentiments was all that was required, 
and elegance covered a multitude of sins. 

The swarm of contemporary minor poetesses is only to be 
outdone by the swarm of minor poets in our own day, 
Louise Labe whose lyre had a human chord Margaret of 
Angouleme who could be both tender and graceful axe the 
only ones that detach themselves from the rest. An amiable 
host has been drowned in the kindly waves of oblivion. 
Now and then an expert tries to revive one or two of them, 
but the task is hardly worth the pains, and next to nothing 
can be known about them. There was a mystic sonneteer, 
Madame d^Entragues, in Louis XIFs reign: there was a 
Viscountess who wrote plays (she seems to have existed at 
all times), and translated the Precepts of Socrates. There 
were sometimes whole families of mothers and daughters 
Catherines, Antoinettes, Dianes and Lucr&ces who pursued 
an indefatigable course of high-minded verse. l 

1 The famous Mademoiselle de Gournai, Montaigne's friend^ is 
outside the period we are considering. His Essays were not 



%*2 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

There exists a curious letter from one lady of Lyons l to 
another, exhorting women to study. It shows us that their 
Cause was well known in 1555. "I can,," she writes, "do 
no more than implore virtuous ladies to raise their minds a 
little ahove their distaffs and their spindles. It is for them 
to rouse themselves and to show the world that, even if we 
were not born to command, we should not be despised as 
companions (whether in public or in private) of those who 
are born to rule : to rule and to be obeyed." The hour has 
now struck, continues this votary of her rights, when man 
can no longer shackle the ** honest liberty which her sex 
has so long yearned for . . . .", when women are to prove how 
deeply men have hitherto wronged them. They must equal 
if not surpass them in intellectual achievement; they must 
make for real possessions rather than for rings and chains 
rather than for self-tormenting passions which, unlike 
knowledge, leave nothing behind them but a "cheating of 
the Past" the shadows of pain and delusion, 

Had we a magician's wand, it would be a pleasant feat to 
conjure the writer of this letter into the middle of the* 
English life of to-day. St<r woulcf probably lose no time in 
surprise* but agitate at once for the Suffrage. As it fa* we 
can but hope that she has found congenial company in the 
Elysian Fields of Blue-stockings: that even now hct in 
conversing with Mrs. Carter and Miss Seward, or perhaps 
with Hannah More herself. 

'published till 1595. Her friendship with Mm is more of a 
classic than her long-winded mythological novel, or any of her 
literary achievements, 

1 I^ouisc Lab& 



WOMEN OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 28 

Whether women are creative or not is a question often 
debated. The sixteenth century, like other centuries, seems 
to point to an answer in the negative. It is surely curious 
that a time which produced so many poetesses should have 
left us so little that counts. Not one of them reached the 
front rank: nearly all were the priestesses of coteries. But 
they had begun to discover where their strength lay. Con- 
versation most interpretative of arts had already claimed 
Frenchwomen for its own, and as soon as Society existed 
their quick sympathies found a field there. A Princess of 
Naples, whom Brantome knew, apologized to a great French 
nobleman for the dull entertainment she was giving him. 
Her ladies, said she, had not the Frenchwomen's gift for 
"causerie." And it-is this "gift for causerie" which has 
always distinguished them ; which belonged then, as it belongs 
now, to every Frenchwoman of whatever class to the 
average as well as to the gifted. 

The Hotel Rambouillet in the next century was not 
evolved from nothing. We can trace its ancestry in Renais- 
sance days, and the Courts of literary princesses were, per- 
haps, the first Salons. Poetesses followed their example. 
The ladies of the " Heptameron " fence adroitly over abstruse 
topics a parlant autant par passion que par raison"; the 
men reply to them as equals. The ordinary ladies of those 
days had, indeed, enough practice in conversation. They 
received visits from their beaux while they were dressing 
and undressing* Their nightgowns were jewelled, their bed- 
rooms hung with silk. Their morning began in bed with 
their maid^s arrival and the choice of their dress for the day 
or the hour* Then came the ceremony of the bath in 



24 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

an oval silver basin, and the ceremony of putting on the little 
fairy slippers, and the ceremony of dressing the hair 
elaborately intertwined with pearls. When they went out they 
wore diminutive masks to shield their complexions from the 
sun. Like ladies of times less remote their great object was 
not to be bored : for " Dulness is an incurable malady," 
says the young widow in the " Heptameron." They had 
many distractions every day, and the first and the last were 
the services of the Church. They do not seem to have been 
very strict about them, for the goodly company of story- 
tellers in Margaret's book got so much interested in their 
story-telling that they kept the Monks waiting for more 
than an hour for Vespers. The next evening when they 
tried to be punctual they found the church empty; the 
festive brothers had hidden behind a hedge to listen to the 
stories that could so pervert their congregation. 

It was the fashion to tell this kind of "Nouvelle" not 
only in the pleasant meadows, but also in the drawing-rooms 
of the Chateaux. Sometimes the pretty narrators varied 
them by making acrostics an&jeuac de mot&. Now it wan 
with their tongues, now with their needles. They stitched 
devices for their friends and lovers. A big u S * embroidered 
on a scarf stood for rt Largesse 11 an "S" barred by an 
arrow for " Fermesse." When they were tired of their 
tambour-frames they took to their viols and their luten; or 
they had singing lessons from the fashionable master, Albert 
de Ripp ; or they gossiped about the Court Chapel master* 
Josquin des Pr&, and his musical theory of the ** Verbe Colon* * 
and the stories he told them of the Vatican Choir. What 
they were tired of all other occupation they uent for 



WOMEN OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE SS 

Fool, or their Folle, (there was a Folk who was as famous 
as Triboulet, 1 ) and laughed at the crudest of sallies. They 
believed all that was told them with an undiscriminating 
curiosity and everything seemed equally true the account 
of a wizard who could recreate Venice Beauties, or facts 
about the fauna of the Indies, Any man who chose to spin 
yarns was an authority, and even a grave historian accepted 
a traveller's tale of magic on the rather vague word of a 
gentleman who (he heard) had been appointed "Captain of 
a place called Peru." 

We should not probably have understood their speech. 
If you did not wish to be vulgar, you must use "s w for 
r," aad "e" for " a 1 ' saying "Pasis" for Paris, "men" 
for mari and the like. And they had euphuisms of deport- 
ment as well as of tongue. In the lame Anne de Bretagne's 
day every self-respecting woman had a limp ; in that of her 
successor, Mary Tudor, all the ladies of rank were cold in 
manner, a TAnglaise. Strangest of all was their religion: 
a curious medley of orthodox piety and of Paganism, which 
made them careful in observance and very careless in appli- 
cation. Conviction of sin goes counter to the French tradi- 
tion of common-sense and of gaiety. These ladies held many 
weapons ready against it : Penance and Absolution, or the 
new-fangled doctrine of Predestination and Grace. Many of 
them leaned towards the Reformation, when Reformation 
still raeant nothing more schismatic than the reform of the 
Roman Church. They read the Bible for the first time and 
found It a surprising new literature. They drew from it 

1 Jeamie Sevin. 



26 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

illustrations for every circumstance in life- even for their 
jokes without any sense of irreverence. From their birth 
to their death they were surprising. Queens and Princesses 
were bound to die conventionally and to say an effective 
last word, but their inferiors were seldom edifying on their 
deathbeds. Sometimes they remained philosophical. Brau- 
tome^s niece was a scientific Precieuse who understood her 
own pulse and left her body to be dissected. Madame do 
la Rochefoucauld was nobler. Her Confessor tried to console 
her by preaching the worthlessness of life: "I am still in 
the verdure of life," she replied, "and I love living. Never- 
theless I will welcome death as if I were ugly and abject. 11 
But the majority were like the merry Mademoiselle do 
Limeuil who died at Court. During her illness, "jamah le 
bee ne lui cessa .... cai* elle ctait fort grande parleuHe." 
" < Julien, 1 she said to her favourite Varlet, a sweet player of 
instruments, ^Julien, take your violin, and until you see 
that I am dead, (for I am passing away,) go on playing 
"The Defeat of the Swiss" to me an well as you can, and 
when you come to the words "All is lost% play the phraw 
four or five times over, as piteously as possible. 1 He did 
so and when he came to 'All is lost\ she Haiti the words 
twice and turning to the other side of the bed : * All w 
lost, with that chord, 1 quoth she, and thus she died. . , * Voflii,* 
ends her chronicler, "one mort joyeune et plai&mte.* l 

Joyousness and pleasantness were essential qualities in the 1 
eyes of King Francis. Sadness he regarded as a capital 
offence. No lady without happy spirits and happy looks 

1 Branttane, Vol. ix. 



WOMEN OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 27 

was admitted into his Petite Bande 3 the inner circle of 
goddesses who had to accompany him wherever he went. 
They hunted with him in the forest; their table was next 
his at dinner ; they had the same dishes as he did,, and after 
the banquet they amused him by their sallies. Their dresses 
toned with the hangings of the rooms they sat in, and their 
outdoor clothes were dyed to match the ever changing 
colours of the royal regiment. Francis chose their gowns 
himself and it was he who paid for them indeed, he did the 
same for all the ladies of his court. We get entertaining 
impressions about their figures from the royal memoranda 
of the yards of stuff that were purchased. Ten ells was 
the average quantity eleven ells for a stout nymph but 
a certain Madame de Canaples needed as much as sixteen. 
The King's favourite dresses were of gooseberry-coloured 
satin, or of reddish-purple velvet with white lining and 
silver sleeves. The Petite Bande was always more sump- 
tuous than the rest. Beauty was not so much a condition 
of membership as what we should now call style, and wit 
was indispensable. One of its leading women, Catherine de 
Medicis, the dowerless biide of the Dauphin, was to our 
modern ideas decidedly plain ; but her figure was distin- 
guished, so was her mind ; and Francis, quick to detect 
power in others, had the skill to take her under his wing 
and to use her brain. 

The Petite Bande, consisting of women and a King, was 
bound to become more or less of a political agency. CatM- 
rine was made for such a circle. In the next reign she had 
her own Battalion "The Flying Squadron," as she called 
it and herself supervised her ladies 1 lovers. But by that 



m THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

time intrigue was a science, and to govern a Kingdom by 
intrigue was part of a Queen's education. Catherine was 
no exception. She was only one of a dynasty : the dynasty 
of Renaissance Stateswomen. 



II 



Political women were, in fact, becoming daily more pro- 
minent. They were by no means an 'unmitigated blessing, 
and the sharp-tongued amongst them were known as "les 
Marquises de Malebouche."" One of these went so far as to 
try and interfere at the Etats de Blois (the parliamentary 
council) and was reproved for her daring by King Louis XII, 
But she was at no loss for a retort. "In the times,'*' ahe 
said, "when lords and princes went to the Crusades and 
achieved great feats, there was nothing for us poor women 
to do but to pray and watch, and fast and make vows, HO 
that God might give them a prosperous voyage and a safe 
return. But now-a-days, when we see that they accomplish 
no more than we do, it is quite right for us to talk about 
every thing. For why on earth should we pray God for them, 
considering they are no better than ourselves?" 

The first eminent political woman, in the modem 
of the word, was Anne de Beaujeu, a person of masterful 
vitality, the favourite daughter and confidant of LoAi* XI 
and the guardian of her brother, Charles VIII. She 
her ward's state busineas, married him to da 

restrained his extravagant desires for Italian Empire 
by her R-eBch policy of good sense, prosperity fit 

his kingdom. Had he in later years yielded to her 



WOMEN OF THE RENAISSANCE S9 

tion, he would never have set forth on his fantastic cam- 
paign in Italy, and things would have been better for him- 
self and for France. She was a strong masculine woman 
of the same kind as her contemporary, Margaret of Austria, 
but a less important personality; the latter, as Charles V's 
aunt and Regent of the Netherlands, had a wider field for 
her energies. Anne de Beaujeu was never tired of scheming. 
When she was no longer her brother's guardian, she held 
a court of her own where she plotted and intrigued to her 
brain's content; and perhaps her greatest triumph was the 
marriage of her only daughter to the Constable Montpensier, 
the greatest nobleman in France. 

Anne de Bretagne, the wife successively of Charles VIII 
and Louis XII, was of a different type. She was essentially 
the provincial Frenchwoman, and might, for all the differ- 
ence of century, have stepped straight out of one of Bal- 
zac's novels. She was also a schemer and a woman of affairs, 
but both affairs and schemes were confined in a narrow 
circle. Plain of countenance, sincerely pious, bigoted, char- 
itable, prudish and rather pedantic, with a mild taste for 
learning, she liked luxury in her dress and surroundings and 
spent largely on works of art: more from a middle-class 
belief in a palatial establishment than from any real love 
of beauty. She was full of a fussy kindliness, readiest to 
show itself to the people of Brittany ; indeed, she was always 
a Bretonne first and a Frenchwoman afterwards. Had she 
lived to-day, she would have belonged to countless commit- 
tees, and Associations for befriending young girls. As it was, 
she must have had enough to do with the philanthropy then 
in favour; endowing schools and convents, providing poor 



30 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

girls wltli a dot and a trousseau, or needy scholars with a 
place at Court. 

All these ends were actively promoted by her second hus- 
band, Louis XII, who was a singular mixture of parsimony 
and charity. He was stingy about household expenses and 
amusements; but he spent large sums in relieving distress 
and often denied himself personal comforts in order to lessen 
the taxes. His life he fashioned upon Marcus Aurelius: 
he was always reading him, and his reforming government 
was the outcome of his studies. But though he deserved 
to be called the Father of his people, he allowed him- 
self the luxury of hobbies. He had his garden and his 
library. 

"Ptolemee Philadelphe,"" as men called him after another 
princely book-lover, filled his shelves with choice volumes, l 
He patronized poets and painters and showed his preference 
for such as were characteristic Frenchmen. But ho loved 
haggling more than what he haggled for, and nothing put 
him into a better temper than driving a bargain over a 
work of art. 

With Anne^s wishes he never interfered. He had tx&u 
in love with her during her first marriage, and Inn faith- 
ful affection for her, as well as hew for him* w n 
refreshing little oasis of respectability amid increasing gcau- 
dais. Her dominant passion was marriage*making* She 
pursued it with such religious ardour that the Pope pre- 
sented her with an "Autel portatif" a travelling ttlter 
at which she was licensed to bless marriages at 

1 They afterwards went to Pans and formed the of 

the Bibliothdque Natioiiale. 



WOMEN OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 51 

moment. The union of her daughter Claude with Charles 
V became the fixed idea of her existence. She preferred 
any prince to Francis, whose mother she cordially detes- 
ted. This affair was the only subject on which she 
sparred with her husband. He shilly-shallied between his 
love for his wife, and his own wish for Francis his Heir- 
Apparent whom Claude eventually married after the death 
of her mother. 

Short of matrimony, Anne acknowledged no tender rela- 
tions, even in play. Her Court was very strict over-severe, 
thought some and amongst them Anne Boleyn, whose French 
mother had secured her a place there. Petulant at the 
Queen's restrictions, she left her in a fit of temper and took 
refuge with the King's sister, Margaret of Angoulerae. 1 Less 
spoiled ladies were obliged to subject themselves to the 
Queen's code of etiquette. It was customary for those of 
high rank to have, each of them, a private duenna, a 
" Maitresse," also of high birth ; but the ordinary maids-of- 
honour were under the direction of a Gouvernante who appears 
never to have left them. Under Anne de Bretagne's rule, 
no man, except their Confessor, was ever allowed to approach 
them unless it was in her royal presence. Otherwise they 
saw no one but old ladies and each other, and had few 
resources beside pious books and tambour-frames. Caution 
cut its own throat. Confessors made love and had to be 
expelled. One of them lost his head and preached on the 

1 Anne Boleyn remained in this position for some time after 
the Field of the Cloth of Gold, when Henry VIII first saw her 
amidst Margaret's ladies, and perhaps, even then, marked her for 

his own, 



82 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

tender passion, much to the scandal of the Queen and the 
congregation. 

There was, in the next age, a reaction against all this 

severity. A distaste for a quiet life seems a generic quality, 
common to the half of womankind and no more peculiar to 
the nineteenth than the sixteenth century. The Hearth^ for 
which their sex is made, seldom contents them, and they 
carry their nervous energies elsewhere. State busybodies, as 
we said, were on the increase, and the meddlesome lady of 
Blois had her rivals. By Catherine de Hedicis' day, they 
seem to have become a public nuisance. u Political women," 
she said, "behaved as if they possessed the lion's share of 

the world, and were going to inherit it It was not 

as if, like men, they gave the sweat of their brows to the 
work of life not they. They allowed themselves a good 
time, gossiping in the chimney corner, very comfortable in 

their easy-chairs or else on their cushions and couches 

And so they go on chattering at their ease about the world 
and the condition of France, as if it were they who did 
everything." 1 

Among the buzzing swarm of dilettantes, however, there 
rises up here and there a more impressive figure especially 
earlier in the century, before State-affairs became the fashion, 
Like painters, like poets, political ladies had their ** School w : 
Margaret of Austria and Anne de Beaujeu their pupils. 
Such was Louise de Savoie, mother of King Francis and of 
his sister, Margaret. She was a real stateswomau, who played 
a dominant part and took things seriously. Her politic* 
were always personal, often passionate, and sometimes 
but they were not frivolous. She re-adjusted the 



WOMEN OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 8Q 

by her morals, in which frivolity formed a conspicuous ele- 
ment. It is the first years of her Court and of her 
children's lives that we shall presently proceed to chronicle. 
But we can hardly understand them without at least knowing 
something of the intellectual atmosphere that surrounded 
them. And before going farther, it may be well to cast a 
glance in that direction. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER III 

Histoire de France (Vol. vm): MARTIN. 

La Renaissance: MICHELET. 

La R6forme : MICHELET. 

Recit d'un Bourgeois de Paris: edited by LALANNE. 

Dictionnaire Historique: BAYLE. 

Life of Etienne Dolet: CHRISTIE. 

Caracteres et Portraits: FEUGRE. 

Etudes sur Francois I : PAULIN PAEIS. 

Etudes Litt^raires: BRUNETIICRE. 

Les Marguerites de la Princesse des Marguerites: 

D^ANGOULCIME (with Biographical Preface by FEANCK). 
Conferences sur Marguerite d'Angoul^me: LURO. 



CHAPTER III 
I 

THE SCHOLARS OF THE RENAISSANCE 

THE Scholars of the Renaissance fill a unique position. 
Never before or since has scholarship occupied the place it 
did at that time. It was a newly-found country in which 
each man was discovering and exploring for himself, un- 
trammelled by the etiquette of the Schools working by the 
light of morning, after long groping amid the shadows of 
scholasticism. Clearness had not stiffened into pedantry, 
discussion had not crystallized into rules ; it was still a keen 
quest after truth, undertaken by no dust-stained wayfarers, 
but by strong hopeful men in the fulness of their youth. 
They did not seek a goddess of cold pure marble, but a living 
mistress an intense romance : the romance lay uppermost 
for them. Erasmus could never get through the chapters 
on old Age and Friendship in his Cicero without pausing 
to kiss the page. "Many truly are to be ranked among 
the Saints," he writes, "who do not find a place in our 
lists of them." Classical style was then as it still is in a few 
individuals a sixth sense, an aesthetic appetite. There was 
a poet of the time who every year burned a copy of Mar- 
tial as a sacrifice to Catullus the object of his worship. 
Another man of letters a great Scholar stretched on a 



86 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

bed of suffering, said that his one consolation in his misery 
had been the style of a letter that a friend wrote to him 
in Latin. His contemporary, Cardinal Bembo, went farther 
still, and in spite of his red hat, implored young men not 
to read St. Paul for fear it should injure their style. 

Enthusiasm was not the only quality which set this genera- 
tion apart in the annals of scholarship. The Scholars of the 
sixteenth century throughout Europe were a race a nation 
with their own language, their own unwritten laws. They 
corresponded with each other all over the world, though 
comparatively few of them ever met in person. They shared 
in spirit each other's labours, imparting every fresh result of 
research. Such energy involved endless penmanship. Erasmus 
generally wrote twenty, and received forty letters a day. 
Sometimes the desire to see a great Scholar (the commen- 
tator of some obscure Latin passage- -the interpreter of 
some subtle inflexion of gender) would inflame the breast of 
his correspondent, and he crossed the seas to visit him* 
The houses of Bude in Paris, and of Julius Camr Scaliger 
in Verona, were always full of such guests. It was thus that 
Erasmus went to see Sir Thomas More, drawn to him 
by the magnetism of kindred ideas; thus that a Paduan 
writer describes only, sad to say, in imagination the visit 
of More to Villovanus, and their long midbummcr <lay of 
dialectic in the meadows round Padua. 
I Great movements, whether or not the result of law, always 
seem like miracle, If the moment is ripe, the right and 
the right events spring up at it* call When time ami 
chance meet there is an electric tthock, and design and ac- 
cident pky into one another's hands. It i# n if had 



THE SCHOLARS OF THE RENAISSANCE 37 

written, a drama and compelled actors and scenery to fall in 
with her purposes. Such an epoch was the Renaissance. Writ- 
ers have sought for its antecedents ; they have accounted for it 
in a dozen ways. Yet when they have done their best, the 
enigma is unanswered : the mystery of birth remains impreg- 
nable. All that they can achieve is to throw light, not on the 
origin of the Renaissance, but on the conditions which made its 
existence possible. Those conditions are by now too well- 
known and have been too often discussed to need re-stating in 
these pages,, The subject is too vast, the task too big for us. 
But apart from general causes there are secondary ones, 
different in each country according to its individual history. 
France was no exception. The wars of three successive 
monarchs- Charles VIII, Louis XII, and Francis I with 
Italy had done an immense amount in spreading Italian 
art, Italian literature, Italian standards of beauty. If the 
royal busybodies worked sad mischief by always meddling, 
whether called for or not, with the politics of Milan, of 
Venice, or of Florence, they also did a great deal of good. 
The constant relations between the two peoples had widened 
the field of commerce ; and Italian merchants as well as 
Italian artists settled in French towns. Besides this, the 
influence of Italian churchmen many of them patrons of 
learning the cosmopolitan nature of the Medicis Popes, the 
universal correspondence of Scholars in all lands : all these 
facts had their share in bringing about the great result. So 
IMU! such Court marriages as that of the Princess Renee with 
the Duke of Ferrara, or that of the Dauphin with Catherine 
de Medicis. Side facts too have their importance. The general 
appointment of resident Ambassadors instead of special Envoys, 



38 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

was not without significance. It spoke of a Europe bound 
together, instead of isolated nations ; of intercourse in times 
of peace, no less than in times of war. 

The analysis of these elements belongs, we repeat, to more 

solid pens ; it is the work of philosophic historians. And the 
same may be said of the first distinguished spirits concerned 
therein. The Abelards, the Roger Bacons cannot be dis- 
missed in a few pages. We must be content to accept the 
state of things as we find it in France at the end of the 
fifteenth, the beginning of the sixteenth century. Still all- 
prevailing stood out the great Conservative forces: the Sor- 
bonne or Faculty of Theologians a coui't of judgment for 
learning, for creed, and for discussion ; its foster-child, the 
University ; and the equally narrow Parlement- -the assembly 
which registered the royal decrees. If it refused to do HO, 
the King was impotent, unless he chose to act arbitrarily; 
a power which made it an important political factor, though 
it very seldom dared to exercise it. The influence both of 
Parlement and of Sorbonne is astounding to read of. The 
fear inspired by the Sorbonne, even occasionally in the King, 
was almost like a superstition. It had acquired a divine 
right, a papacy of its own, which no one had contested ; it, 
could summon a Princess to appear at its bar ; it was prac- 
tically the omnipotent censor of all the thought and literature* 
of the Kingdom. 

Against these troops of bigotry, there mustered an ever- 
growing band of rebels. The more spiritual among thorn 
took refuge in Mysticism, which afterwards no 

small influence on the Reformation; the more intellectual 
became men of science rational philosopher and made 



THE SCHOLARS OF THE RENAISSANCE 39 

the centre of the Renaissance. Between the hostile camps 
stood the Court generously inclining to the new order, but 
in credulous fear of the old one. 

To grasp the extent of the Sorbonne's power we must 
remember its hold over the University. It had in its hands 
the education of youth. This education was of the most 
pedantic. Methods were regarded as all-important, and for- 
mulae were more thought of than the matter formulated. 
The ordinary scholastic training given at the Universities 
consisted in learning the seven "Liberal Arts", after master- 
ing which a student took his " oath of scholarship", received 
his Scholar's Diploma and was allowed to hold public philo- 
sophical disputations with the Schoolmen. We need only 
turn to Rabelais'* "Gargantua" if we wish to realise the 
absurd hair-splittings which constituted these debates, and 
the endless ingenuity and waste of mental force which went 
to them. They were a kind of intellectual gymnastics which 
induced activity of brain at the expense of thought, and all 
the secondary qualities were given a first place. Nothing 
was true but that which could be proved and proved by 
the Schoolmen's methods an opinion fatal to the interests 
of Truth. Skill in proof became the one thing needful, and 
the Sorbonne a Citadel of the densest casuistry. There 
were various groups among the disputers. Some, however 
fallacious, were at least grave in intention ; others degenerated 
into absurdity. There were the Nominalists and Realists 
or Aristotelians and Platonists; or the set that spent their 
time discussing how many negations go to make an affirma- 
tive; or the " Cornifucians" the "makers of horned argu- 
ments" who sat and cavilled as to whether, if a donkey 



40 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

were led in a leash to market, it was the cord, or the 
holder of the cord that actually led him : a question over 
which there was a feud which divided men into camps. 
Such burlesque instances of pedantry were probably rare, 
but the stories of these hair-splitting pundits remain as a 
measure of man's power to take himself seriously* They 
did not then appear preposterous, except to the few ; the 
average person accepted them with the rest of his normal life. 
It was, as usual, in Italy that these fallacious processes 
were most effectively superseded. That strange race, the 
Cardinals of the Renaissance, gave the final blow to the 
Italian Schoolmen and new life to the Scholars. Academic 
ideals were not upheld by men such as Cardinal Bembo, 
who only took to the study of the Scriptures after he 
became a Cardinal, and favoured the book of Pomponagsri 
against the immortality of the soul : a work condemned by 
the Inquisition and burned at Venice. This typical prelate 
spent his time between his garden and library, his medals 
and antiquities, his Roman palace and his Paduan Villa; 
and busied himself with the fresh developments of philosophy. 
Aristotle, disfigured by the Schoolmen, had hitherto been 
their prophet and their bulwark. Men now began to read 
him for themselves, and in Italy the Aristotelians divided 
into two parties, centering in the school of Aristotle at Padua. 
On the one hand was the Pantheistic party* counting among 
them the Christian Cardinal Sadoleto; on the other* W| ^ 
the band of the Materialists, to which the Pagan 
belonged. Casuistry gave way to real debate ; half -splitting 
to dialectics; and not in Italy alone. She gave impetus to 
the movement, but other nations vied with her* 



THE SCHOLARS OF THE RENAISSANCE 41 

before Berabo's day there had been a handful of men a 
scanty advance-guard in France. 

Tho first of its members had been students of the dead 
languages. Greek and Hebrew were considered the tongues 
of heresy ; they were hated and forbidden by the Sorbonne, 
which practically permitted nothing but ecclesiastical Latin. 
The knowledge of Greek meant a knowledge of the New 
Testament, and led to an undesirable study of the Scriptures. 
Preachers declaimed against it in their sermons. "A new 
language has been discovered" so said a monk from the 
pulpit "It is called Greek. Beware of it with caution. 
It is a language which gives birth to every heresy." 5 " 5 As 
for an acquaintance with Hebrew, it implied a possible 
return to Judaism and must be fought tooth and nail The 
mal-treatraent of the Jews in those days was persistent, 
especially in Germany, where the Dominicans of Cologne 
persecuted them. The courageous German Scholar, Reuchlin, 
happily a friend of Maximilian's, made himself their Apolo- 
gist and saved many from the flames. He had long been 
a deeply versed reader of the Kabala and the Tahnud. 
Hebrew philosophy, he said, was higher than the Greek 
and anterior to it. One of his disciples l went beyond him 
and maintained that he found both St. Paul and Plato 
in them. Reuchlin was practically the founder of the 
rising school of Hebraists which had such a following in 
France, and figured not unfrequently in the records of 
religious tolerance as well as in those of learning. Postel, 
Vatable, Paul Paradis, were its first French pupik of 

1 Pico del la Mirandola. 



42 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

importance: lesser lights than Renchlin, but none the less 
noble learners. 

Vatable became a student, a bold critic of the Psalms 
and Proverbs; Paradis, the teacher of Margaret of Angouleme. 
Postel was more interesting. He was a traveller in the 
East, an Orientalist; a visionary who dreamed of beholding 
"TAntique Orient"- "of seeing re-established the unity of 
the primitive world." He nearly lost his reason in the 
contemplation of his vast ideal. Yet he was not unaided. 
The King honoured him, and received him wayworn from 
his travels; Margaret delighted in helping him. But, like 
other dreamers, he left little behind him. Perhaps his best 
epitaph is his favourite saying in the Kabala a Death is 
the kiss of God" a poet's summary of a poofs ambitions. 

There is something pathetic in the idea of these men, 
all mature and some of them old; grave and stately in 
their furred robes, yet as little children where knowledge 
was concerned; humble, reverent, aglow with curiosity. All 
were alike banded together in opposition to ignorance and 
the Schoolmen. Most of them followed the classics for the 
pure love of learning; a few pursued them m a literary 
channel for their own ideas, or as a medium of satire against 
the Monks. Such men formed the germ of a national liter* 
ature and, by their neat sarcasms, helped on the work of 
Reform in ways that they did not realise. If the Reform- 
ation sprang from a conviction of gin, the Reimiwanw re* 
suited from a conviction of folly; and satire offered n field 
in which both movements could be blended. 
/ But the most important tribe of the great Scholar race 
nvas the growing tribe of the Printer*, who then wielded it 



THE SCHOLARS OF THE RENAISSANCE 4*8 

power never since possessed by them. They constituted a 
kind of tribunal of scholarship, criticising, discriminating, 
pronouncing. Not only the "Correctors," drawn from all 
nations, but every man employed in the printing business 
had to be a scholar of refinement. It was not then as now, 
when editors of the classics are innumerable; all these men 
were editors for the first time, revising newly-discovered 
manuscripts which formed their main stock-in-trade. The 
word "trade" confronts us as with a lie and should be re- 
placed by Art, We of to-day can hardly imagine the 
tender and reverent care with which these sixteenth-century 
publishers handled the pages they were printing, chose their 
paper and their type, measured their margins, spelled out 
their readings. Each volume was a work of love and beauty, 
brooded over, dreamed of, as if it were an artist's creation ; 
and half the secret of their exquisite productions was the 
number of studious men employed upon them. 

The Free Press at Bale, one of the most famous of its kind, 
could soon- count a considerable number of rivals foremost 
among them the great Paris firm of the Estieime family. 
Their house boasted three printers, Scholars of distinction, 
each representing a separate generation : Henri, the founder 
and the friend of Bude, doing his best work in 1500; 
Robert, his son, with whom we have most to do ; and Henri 
the second, grandson of the first, whose masterpieces belong 
to a later period. Henri the elder had published Latin 
classics; Robert Estienne was practically the first man in 
France to print both Greek and Hebrew, and besides this 
he was an eminent Latin grammarian. The Estiennes had 
plenty of material In the last thirty years of the fifteenth 



44 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

century the accurate knowledge of the Latin tongue had 
rapidly progressed, and Greek was beginning to make more 
way. A translation of Virgil into French appeared in 
1470, and one of Homer in 1488. They were followed by 
a volume of Plato, in 1512, a birthday in the history of 
the world. It was published by the House of Kstienne 
almost at the same time as Lefebrc's translation of St. Paul. 
Twelve years earlier they had brought out Erasmus" "Adagia," 
which had created a sensation throughout France ; and this, 
together with their later publications, was enough to mark 
them as pillars of the Renaissance. Their shop in the Hue 
St. Jean de Beauvais like many other printers'' shops- 
made a kind of club for Scholars, who met there to discuss 
doubtful passages or new discoveries. Here came Budaeus 
and Doletus to gossip about Cicero or to talk scandal 
about critics' emendations. Here the poetasters resorted 
to ask about the sale of their works. Nor were more dis- 
tinguished guests wanting. The grandees of the Court were* 
to be found there, spurred by idle curiosity; or Margaret 
of Angouleme, moved by her xeal for knowledge; or the* 
King himself, who was kept waiting in the shop while 
Robert Estienne finished the correction of a precious proof 
which he would leave to none but himself. 

,. Robert Estienne married a Scholar's daughter, and the 
household, children and all, spoke nothing but I^atin. Thin 
arrangement was no pedantic affectation* but n needful 
^raeans of intercourse, as the polyglot assembly of the **Cor- 
fectors" lived with the family and I^atin wm the only 
common tongue possible to everyone. One wonders if they 
forgot their French and whether the dAughtero* miitor* 



THE SCHOLARS OF THE RENAISSANCE 45 

(were they the ten Correctors?) were obliged to make love 
to them in Latin. Years afterwards the son, Henri, wrote 
a letter to his boy, describing the grandfather's household. 
"Your grandfather," he said, " understood everything that 
was said in Latin, as well as if it had been French ; and 
your Aunt Catherine, far from needing an interpreter to 
help her, expressed herself so well in the same tongue, that 
her meaning was clear to everyone. The very servants grew 
accustomed to Latin and ended by using it. But what, 
above all, contributed to make this practice general was that 
my brothers and myself, from the moment that we first 
began to lisp, would never have dared to use any other 
language in the presence of my father and his Correctors." 
The Estiennes were for years a very prosperous family. 
Stimulated by the King^s protection and the growing op- 
portunities for knowledge, the father, Robert, worked hard 
at philology ; wrote his " Tresor de la langue Latine, l an 
erudite dictionary which still holds good; published succes- 
sive editions of the Scriptures with comments in Greek, 
Latin and Hebrew ; and set up in a pattern Greek type 
"les Grecs du roi w ordered by the King, and still the 
delight of Connoisseurs in the Imprimerie Royale. 
{ The classics were the most popular and acknowledged of 
all studies, but the New Learning by no means confined it- 
self to them. Bent on enlightenment, it propagated every 
kind of knowledge, renovating and transforming, and founded 
new schools of thought in all directions. The general 
tendency was to substitute a national for a scholastic ideal ; 

* . 
1 Stephaui Thesaurus* 



46 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

to replace hypothesis by science. In Medicine, the old un- 
scientific physicians were superseded by the rising generation : 
students who based their conclusions upon fact and experi- 
ment, instead of forcing them to fit a preconceived theory. l 
The doctors of that day were also philosophers ; the anato- 
mists, the surgical lecturers, abounded in shi*ewd observa- 
tion of the mind as well as the modern notions of hygiene. 
In history, too, there was an effort to find a sequence, to form- 
ulate the laws that govern its revolutions, to trace the influ- 
ence of climate upon its course. s Even the Law had its dream- 
ers of dreams legal dreams of revised codes. Nothing was 
dull to these fervent learners, and then, when all things 
were possible, there was no soil so dry that it did not bring 
forth flowers. 8 Astronomy, geography, mathematics, travel, 
were illumined by the names of daring votaries- Progressives 
as we should call them famous for a moment and forgotten 
for centuries: men who would have been content to serve 
their mistress, Knowledge, for no better wages than an occa- 
sional smile, 

There was, however, one typical scholar about whom there 
clung none of this pathos. He was famous, he was prosper- 
ous, in his own day. Fate contrived that he should present 
that rare contrast- an interesting life and a smooth career, 
This was Guillaume Bude -known as Budaeus Greek scholar, 
King's librarian, "Maltre des RequeteC "PnJvcH dea Mar- 



1 Ambroise Pare, the King's physician ; Vesale of 
Cop, Charles V's doctor; Rabelais, Dubois Servet mid other*** 

s Bodin was the chief historian of this school. 

8 The great lawyers of the day were Araoult du Pettier, 
Cujas and Dumouliu. 



THE SCHOLARS OF THE RENAISSANCE 47 

chands," the friend of Margaret : her friend and her colleague 
in their great educational scheme, the College de France, 
from, which their two names are inseparable. 



II 



"It is Philology," once wrote Bude, "that has so long 
been my companion, my associate, my mistress, bound to 
me by every tie of close affection .... But I have been 
forced to loosen the bonds of a love so devouring .... 
that I found it destructive to my health." This passage 
might stand for his motto. Impassioned intellect, absorbing 
heart and soul, made the sum of the man. It kept him 
alive, it consumed him. He sacrificed all lie had to it 
But he showed no signs of it in boyhood; his force was 
reserved for maturity. Bude was born at Paris in 1467. 
His family was good and he had the education of a gentle- 
man. He was sent to study Jurisprudence at the University 
of Orleans, but he was insufficiently prepared for his train- 
ing there and, after three years, he returned knowing 
nothing. He went home to his father's Chateau and devoted 
himself to sport and the distractions of a country-life. He 
was in no wise remarkable, unless it were for his keenness. 
A few years passed in this way. Then with no ostensible 
cause for it -he underwent a conversion: an intellectual 
conversion, no less enduring than it was sudden. He hunted 
BO more, gave up all pleasure, and shut himself up to study 
with an almost violent concentration. His only^regret was 
the need for eating and sleeping which robbed him of so 
much time. He found leisure to marry, however, with his 



48 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

library safely in the background. Even on his wedding-day 
he disappeared for three hours, and escaped to his deserted 
books. Happily his wife was no sporting lady, never content 
without hawk or hounds, but a sensible, helpmate who looked 
out his books and found the passages he wanted. She would 
have had a bad time otherwise, and warnings about health, 
or worldly exhortations fell upon deaf ears. 

He had had no real master ; he was not any man's disciple. 
A few stray lessons here and there were all the help he got. 
Yet his solitary labours had raised him to such a point that 
there was nobody in France who could compete with him in 
knowledge of all kinds. Greek was already the chief object 
of his pursuit. He had once had twenty lessons from the 
Greek, Lasearis. He had also, at great cost, bribed a 
Lacedemonian, "Hieronymus", a new comer to Paris, 1 to 
read Homer aloud to him; but as "Hieronymus*" did not 
himself understand what he was reading, he was not of 
much use to his pupil. Bude's own continuous studies were 
more than enough. He began his career in print by a 
translation of Plutarch, and succeeded from the outset in 
steering clear of the Sorbonne. 

All through his life Bude was that ram if, a prudent 
enthusiast. He kept well with orthodox and heterodox 
and though this was not his most lovable attainment, it 
was not the least of the services he rendered to the cause 
of learning. And however cautious he was, he did not fail 
in sincerity. Meanwhile his reputation was growing in high 
places. Charles VIII invited him to Court, but died 
he could advance him. Louis XII, however, did not 
him, but twice sent him on State errands to Italy, and 



THE SCHOLARS OF THE RENAISSANCE 49 

made him one of his Secretaries. When Francis I succeeded 
to the throne, he followed the example of his predecessor 
and despatched him on an embassy to Rome. But Bude 
still resisted all temptation: he did not wish for a Court 
life, and he had no important meeting with the King until 
1520. Francis was at Ardres, for the Field of the Cloth 
of Gold, when he summoned Bude, then fifty-three years 
old, to come to him. Whether he was prompted by pleasure 
in his talk (he loved to hear him debate), or a wish for his 
presence as the representative of learning, it is difficult to 
say, but this occasion was a fresh starting-point in Bude's 
fortunes. Honours flowed in upon him. He was made royal 
Librarian and Maitre des Requetes ; the Hotel de Ville 
elected him Provost of the Merchants of Paris. The only 
hitches in his course were his quarrels with the corrupt 
Chancellor, Duprat, bigot and money-maker, the fact of 
whose presence still kept him from the Court unless his 
office compelled him to attend there. He only came thither 
of his own free will when his friend, Poyer, became Chan- 
cellor in his turn and often demanded his companionship. 
After that he became a constant guest at the King^s palaces, 
though nothing made him" relax the austerity of his toils. 
Intellectual asceticism is almost as ingrained as intellectual 
aestheticism. Though Bude might have staked his virtue to 
possess a choice edition of Plato, it cost him nothing to 
abstain from easy living. As he always refused to be painted, 
we can picture him as we like probably a pale, hawk-eyed, 
thin-lipped man, in a furred cap and mantle a fit subject 
for a Holbein. His reputation as a Greek Scholar was ever 
on the increase. He translated Greek authors; he edited; 

4 



50 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

he emended. Who they were, and what he did to them, 
is of little moment now save to experts ; but it was enough 
then to make his name ring through Europe. His corre- 
spondence with other Scholars was bewildering in its bulk. 
As age crept upon him,, he found he could not write so 
many letters: "for they are,"" he said pathetically, a by 
way of being an amusement ; they ought to be written with 
a young sprightliness, and with vitality of style." Many of 
his correspondents addressed him without knowing him; 
Rabelais was one of them ; Dolet was another. His inter- 
course with Erasmus was not so agreeable. They had begun 
by being very good friends and Bude had asked the King 
to invite Erasmus to Court. But something that the latter 
had said or done had offended the French scholar. He 
would never quote him after that, and he often criticised, 
without naming him. Their feud at last broke out in a 
storm of vituperative letters. Bud<^ it must be owned, wan 
less polite than Erasmus. This was in character* Whatever 
he was as a Scholar, Budd was not popular as a man. He 
bore a general character for haughtiness. /"This great per- 
son," says Bayle, "was more feared than loved in the Republic 
of Letters. It seems to me that this is no perfection, but 
rather a sign that he was proud and impatient, and armed 
himself at all points against such as criticized him** He 
might have added against such as differed from him, 1 " 
There was a certain Venetian scholar who long lived in 
1 terror, because he was generally considered to disagree with 
Bude and dreaded the possible consequences. There 
mystery about a mortal who was clothed in all the panoply of 
success, and yet had not lifted a finger to get it for hi 



THE SCHOLARS OF THE RENAISSANCE 51 

He had all this time been faithful to his "Mistress 
Philology." He had two wives so he wrote after twelve 
years of marriage the one bore him girls and boys, and 
the other. Philology, bore him books. His only grief seems 
to have been that the books were not as numerous as the 
children, eleven of whom filled his house. But he consoled 
himself by reflecting that he would be able to make up the 
deficiency. At home as abroad, he was an instance of a 
perfectly happy, if perfectly selfish person. 

It was when he was over sixty that he, with Margaret 
of Angouleme and the King, organized the College de Prance. 
But before we look further at their scheme, it is well to 
forestall events and finish the sketch of a career that was 
rapidly drawing to its close. In 1540, he had accompanied 
Francis for change of air to Normandy. Taken, suddenly 
ill with fever, Bude made haste to return to his home, and it 
was here that, surrounded by his family, he died at seventy- 
three. He left the chilliest and most lucid directions about 
his funeral. He was to be buried by night, because other- 
wise there would be "too much weeping and too many 
screams from little children 1 " 5 his numerous grandsons and 
granddaughters. "I wish to be carried to earth by night," 
he had written, "without any sort of ceremony, or more 

than one or two torches For I can never approve of 

the practice of gloomy rites and of funeral pomps, and I 
forbid their celebration in my honour " 

This deviation from custom was in itself enough to rouse 
suspicion of heresy. The impression was confirmed by the 
action of his widow, who returned to Geneva and there 
made open profession of Protestantism swayed, as all thought. 



52 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

by his wishes. Some of her children followed her example, 
and one of his sons became Professor of Hebrew in the 
town, and translated the Psalms into Latin, The man who 
had escaped the stigma in his life was looked at askance 
after death. The. Schoolmen buzzed round his memory, but 
they had not solid evidence for their charges. His writings 
show no more innovating tendency than a wish for the re- 
form of Rome. In his "Transitu Hellenism! ad Christian- 
ismum," which, in 1535, he dedicated to the King, he frankly 
recommends the old religion; he even praises Francis for 
leading the expiatory procession which followed on the affair 
of the Placards and the Reformers' insults to the Mass. 
That he did so is a blot on his name, but the rudeness 
and violence of the Protestants had irritated his fastidious 
temper. We must, in justice, remember that it was not 
always intolerance which caused opposition to the new reli- 
gion. The crudeness, the bad manners of its votaries were 
offensive to good taste, and exaspex*ated intellectual men 
who cared little about doctrine. In this, as in all else, 
Bude was entirely the recluse the Scholar who dreaded all 
commotion. 

The Colle'ge de France remained as his best monument- 
al. 1 memorial of his intercourse with the King. An account 
of its institution must necessarily take us far into the reign 
of Francis, and yet such a sketch belongs to any general 
survey of the French Renaissance and finds its right plaeu 
in connection with the name of Bude, 



THE SCHOLAES OF THE RENAISSANCE 53 

III 

Classics, philosophy, science, could have found no happier 
patron than Francis I the Sorbonne no more unpromising 
monarch. He was full of meteoric gifts and coruscating 
energies. His life in Paris was a restless one. He went 
"quasi tous les jours faire des mommons en masque, et 
habits dissimules et inconnus " returning from his escapades 
to discuss Plautus and Virgil, or to scheme for the bold 
dissemination of' the study of Greek in his Kingdom. As 
to other votaries of the Renaissance, Greek was a magic 
word to him. But there was no form of knowledge that 
did not appeal to him, and he helped and was helped by 
the burst of learning that followed his accession. The question 
of education interested him, and anyone with something to 
say on the matter found at least a hearing from him. 
Discrimination was not the gift of his day, and he had not 
the power of distinguishing real talent from the plausible 
brilliance of charlatans. Sincere charlatans belong to enthu- 
siastic times, and "faddists 11 are not confined to the nine- 
teenth, or the twentieth century. We hear of a certain 
Camillo da Forti, philosopher-poet, who came from Italy 
to Paris with a scheme to set before the King. He would 
teach him Greek and Latin in three months. It was the 
easiest thing in the world. He had made a great amphi- 
theatre it had taken him forty years to perfect it. It had 
tier upon tier of drawers, and they represented memory. 
Each tier was divided and sub-divided into various branches 
of knowledge; each drawer was labelled with a different 
intellectual quality. How any man was to learn by it, it 



54 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

is difficult to understand; but his victims believed in this 
solemn toy quite as earnestly as he did. The King listened 
and approved: indeed his acceptance of the scheme seems 
sufficient proof of his simplicity. 

Fortunately, he indulged in graver and more practical 
plans and, spurred on by his youth and his love of chivalry, 
he made himself the Crusader of the Renaissance. As early 
as 1517, or '18, he had begun to dream of a new College, 
and when he was wounded in the wars of 1521, he vowed 
on his sick-bed to build one. It was to hold six thousand 
scholars and to stand in the place now occupied by the 
Institut. Bude resolved that this first idea should be the 
germ, not of a mere College, but of another and a real 
University : no stronghold of dogma, no servile shadow of 
the Sorbonne, but the beating heart of intellectual life 
from which knowledge should circulate throughout the King- 
dom of France. This was not an easy undertaking. It 
was not that enlightenment had as yet become synonymoutt 
with heresy, political or religious; but to raise such an 
institution meant the opposition of the Sorboune and the 
Parlement of all the Conservative powers which hedged iu 
royal authority : to make, as it were, a family quarrel, with 
disagreeable results. Bude, however, had a strong ally in the 
fascinating man of letters, the Cardinal Jean du Bellay, and 
both found a willing instrument in the King's sister, Mar- 
garet. This was work to the liking of a princess who spent 
a large proportion of her income in endowing poor students 
and keeping them at College. She waited for eight yearn 
before her hopes were fulfilled, but she never relaxed her 
efforts. At last the moment seemed ripe* 



THE SCHOLARS OF THE RENAISSANCE 55 

In the year 1529, the Treaty of Cambrai was ratified and 
brought peace in the wars between Francis and Charles V. 
Security reigned, and the French King was glad to seize 
the opportunity to indulge his favourite passion for building. 
At this particular time he also had cause for private irrita- 
tion with the Sorbonne and, always the creature of impulse, 
was by no means unwilling to play it a bad turn. So when 
Bude diplomatically suggested the erection, not of a formid- 
able University, but of a modest little "College universa- 
taire, w to consist of two Chairs for Greek and Hebrew and 
when Margaret added her persuasions he gave an easy 
consent. Even after this, it was to her that the College 
and the choice of the Professors was really due. The im- 
pressionable King loved the beginning of a scheme rather 
than its completion. He cared much more to talk with 
experts upon all subjects, whether art, war or wisdom, than 
to master any one of them. Amateur that he was, he 
enjoyed visiting houses of learning, or artists in their studios 
with his "Mignonne" so he called his sister; but when it 
came to choosing the right person for the righl place, it 
was she who took the lead without letting him suspect it. 

She never performed this office better than for the College 
de France, helped as she was by the counsel of such men 
as Bud<, Erasmus, Pierre Duchatel, the King's Reader, and 
Guillaume -Petit, the enlightened Bishop of Senlis, her own 
and her brother's Confessor. In 1530, the Professorships 
had increased from two to five. The Greek Chairs were 
occupied by Toussaint, the friend of Erasmus, and by Dan&, 
a nobleman of Paris; the Hebrew ones by Vatable, Paul 
Paradis, and one of Margaret's Italian proteges. Gradually 



56 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

the scheme grew larger. Postel, the Eastern dreamer, rested 
from his travels in a Chair for Arabic and Chaldaic, which 
Royalty had created for him. Philosophy, Medicine, Mathe- 
matics, Letters, were all nobly represented. By the year 1545, 
the five Professorships had become eleven. 

The College had now assumed important proportions- 
had taken its place as the first intellectual influence in the 
Kingdom. The King had affiliated to it the Estiennes' 
Printing business henceforward known as the Imprimcrie 
Royale: a faithful colleague in the work of sowing know- 
ledge. The Sorbonne was not likely to forget that the 
Estiennes had published Lefebre d'Etaples' translation of the 
New Testament, besides other heretical works. They looked 
upon the Firm with suspicion and their fears proved only 
too well founded. At this glorious moment, when Refor- 
mers, Scholars, Poets, Wits, and Men of Science still made 
common cause, with the King as their leader; when Refor- 
mers meant nothing more startling than a Broad Church 
of Rome, it naturally followed that the College became a 
nucleus for Liberals in religion as well as for scholarly in- 
novators. Lefebre d'Etaples was the centre of this Broad 
Church party. He, Farel, and Berquin who was destined 
to such fierce persecution were its most radical members; 
but Bude, Toussaint, Julius Caesar Scaliger, Petit, Marot, 
and the Estienne family, were no less of the group : fore- 
shadowing the Gallicans of later days and untiringly opposed 
to the spirit of scholasticism. 

The Sorbonne, meanwhile, had not been idle*. It bad 
rushed to arms under the command of its pitilcns leader, 
Noel Beda, a fanatic Schoolman of great reputation among 



THE SCHOLARS OF THE RENAISSANCE 57 

his contemporaries. Fortune seemed to favour the theolo- 
gians. They were backed by the sympathy of University 
and Parlement, and warmly supported by the foremost 
statesman of the day, the Chancellor Duprat, who hated 
learning and Reform. In spite of all, the Sorbonne was for 
once impotent. In vain it re-iterated that Greek was the 
language of heresy, Hebrew of Judaism; in vain it con- 
demned the proposition that Scripture could not be properly 
understood without the study of both languages; and in 
vain it pronounced St. Jerome's Latin version infallible. 
On this occasion the Parlement itself dared not actively 
espouse such verdicts against the College of the King. In 
a last effort to vie with its rival, the ancient University 
even tried to decant a little new wine into its old bottles ; 
but it lost any possible chance of popularity by closing the 
public University Lectures, its chief link with the outside 
world. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER IV 

The French Renaissance : Mrs. PATTISON. 

Vie de Clouet : BOUCHOT. 

La Renaissance: MICHELKT. 

Etudes sur Francois I : PAULIN PARIS. 

Etudes Litteraires : BRUNETI&RR. 



C H A F T E R I V 

THE ARTISTS OF THE RENAISSANCE 

IF we turn from the progress of Knowledge to that of 
the Arts, there is much to arrest us. Architecture is the 
one which flourished most vigorously in France, and is per- 
haps most characteristic of the French genius. A practical 
rather than an ideal art, it exists to make beauty available 
and, as it were, to domesticate it. The French lienaissance, 
as we have already said, was not creative and it is worthy 
of remark that imaginative painting, the Art which lives on 
Ideas, hardly existed in the France of that period. The 
School of St. Martin at Tours furnished names now remem- 
bered by none but Scholars ; and Jean Perreal (de Paris), the 
exquisite Fouquet, and the less exquisite Cousin, are the only 
well-known creators of subject -pictures in the fifteenth and 
sixteenth centuries. Painting was practically represented by 
portraits the galleries of lords and ladies left us by the 
Clouets, by Corneille de Lyons, later on by Dumoustier. 
It is the same with the beautiful sculpture of the time. 
The names of famous sculptors are, we shall see, more fre- 
quent than those of the painters, but it is portrait-sculpture 
in which they excel : noble busts and full-length figures, on 
tombs and elsewhere. Or else it is in decorative carvings 
delicious reliefs of nymphs and fauns, interwoven with birds 
and beasts and flowers dainty devices epigrams in stone, 



60 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

as sparkling in their wit as the bons-mots of the eighteenth 
century. Even the more poetic statues, like Jean Goujon's 
famous Diana, are, if not modelled from reigning beauties, 
at least a compliment in their honour. 

In Literature we come across much the same tendencies. 
The French poetry of the sixteenth century, whether from the 
airy Marot, or the light-footed haunters of classic groves, 
llonsard and Du Bellay, seldom, if ever, goes deep. It seems 
to be cut in marble, and moves us by beauty of form rather 
than of thought; by the singer's exquisite sense of fitness, 
not by his feeling. His poems have little to do with the 
soul As often as not they are nothing more than an 
arrested kiss, blown on a poet's finger-tips to a lady who 
passes in a moment or a sigh of sentiment breathed near 
a forest-fountain. As for prose, even Rabelais, the bold 
thinker, was essentially a critic of life, interpreting rather 
than inventing ideas : a Master of Satire, in itself a social 
art and then, as ever, an outlet for French writers. 

This grace and wit, these powers of portraiture and of 
criticism met with in every art of the French Renaissance 
are typical French qualities. They are often surprisingly 
like those of ancient Rome. A sixteenth-century bust of a 
Frenchwoman might pass for the head of a Faustina, or a 
Livia. A Horace and a Juvenal would have easily naturalized 
themselves as Frenchmen. Intellectual tastes, raatter-of- 
factness, sparkling precision and a delicate senses of form, 
are alike the characteristics of ancient Rome and of the 
Paris of all times. They show a social rather than an 
originative genius; the critical gift of the interpreter, and 
not the shaping fancy of the poet. And this, it* we may my 



THE ARTISTS OF THE RENAISSANCE 61 

so, is what makes the Renaissance in France a smaller move- 
ment than the Renaissance in other countries. 

Nations, like persons, remain themselves. They go through 
the same phases as each other and are all alike modified 
by them; yet every one keeps its own particular character. 
Certain qualities are common to all : in each romance reigns, 
and thought is an emotion instead of a process. But beyond 
this, the Renaissance of different countries varies as much 
as the youth of different individuals. 

In Italy passion and imagination made it into a superb 
banquet of art and knowledge, a triumphal procession of 
beauty. In Germany, the philosophical element was stronger 
than' the beautiful. Albrecht Diirer is an intellectual painter, 
so is Lucas Kranach ; and they interest the mind when they 
do not charm the eye. Writers of profound erudition like 
Reuchlin, intellectual fencers like Ulrich von Hutten, get 
their strength from ideas ; and the Reformation itself, though 
mainly a moral movement, was closely bound up with the 
conception of mental liberty. In England, our painting and 
sculpture were done for us by other countries, and our 
aesthetic qualities were, as usual, behindhand ; l but our will 
and purpose found scope in the one great art that gives 
expression to them the Drama that singular meeting- 
ground of beauty and moral force. They found vent too 
in poetry : not the crystalline songs of the French poets, but 
the lyrics and sonnets of deep feeling, impossible to divorce 
from the spiritual side of life. The France of the Renais- 
sance followed its social genius, and delighted in building 

1 Tudor architecture was really a development of Gothic art 
and cannot be reckoned as belonging to the Renaissance. 



6S THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

dwelling-places : no overpowering palaces, but palace homes 
suited to the needs of every-day intercourse. 

Francis I was the typical Frenchman, both in his strong 
points and his weak ones. He was an amateur in the 
literal sense of the word. ' He loved all the arts, but build- 
ing was his grand passion, satisfying his restless energies as 
well as his sumptuous tastes. He wandered over the land 
like a magic Sower, and Chateaux sprang up in his steps, 
embosomed in green lawns and river gardens. Here he 
raised a fairy palace -there he altered, or added leaving 
behind him a new wing, or an airy tower; some web of 
stonework or spiral staircase, which the Prince and builder, 
in their outburst of fancy, delighted to fashion in the shape 
of shell and flower-cup. Such were the fantastic Chateau 
of Chenonceaux, and the smaller and dreamier Azay-le- 
Rideau, which hangs Naiad-like over the waters of the 
Vienne; such the new buildings at Blois (added to those 
already there), a triumph of Renaissance splendour, breaking 
into midsummer wealth of marble fruit and blossom ; or the 
huge incoherent mass of Chambord, more magnificent than 
beautiful, in which the king^s boastfulness seems almost to 
have overreached itself. Loveliest of all must have been 
the CMteau de Madrid, or Longchamps, covered with the 
work of Girolamo de la Robbia: the enchanted castle buried 
in the Bois de Boulogne, and destroyed in the days of the 
JFYench Revolution, 

The interior of these Chateaux matched the rat of them* 
They are rich in prodigal fancy and no two designs on wall 
or ceiling repeat each other. The display of dancing Cupids, 
each with a different instrument of music the curling mer- 




Device of Queen Claude. 

(Wife of Francis I.) 
From the Palace of Blois. 



F. p. 62. 



THE AHTISTS OF THE RENAISSANCE' S3 

maidens and swaying lotus-flowers fill us with, surprise at 
so much joy in living. It is as if the world were keeping 
holiday at Nature's return to her rights. Carven witticisms 
ahound; the devices of court and nobles make a history in 
epigram. There is the princely salamander of Francis, sur- 
rounded by flames; its motto is "Nutrisco et extinguo" I 
feed on it and I extinguish it and it means, we are sur- 
prised to hear, that the King nourished good by destroying 
evil. Posterity may comment *as it pleases* Or there axe 
the bristling porcupine of Louis XII and the ermine of 
Anne de Bretagne. Here is Queen Claude's sweet swan, 
with a sword thrust through its heart; there Louise de 
Savoie's four wings in the shape of Time's sickle, tied by a 
cord to show that she could not fly: a Pagan emblem of 
Destiny. There are plenty of quips for us to choose from. 
They are quite indifferently placed, whether in the private 
Chapel, or in my Lady's Chamber, The face of the little 
jester with the padlock on his lips, looking out from the 
fireplace in the rich merchant's house at Bourges, tells us 
that Wit means Silence; the dainty Love chasing a sala- 
mander, in a niche of the Chambord staircase, is a Courtier's 
summary of the King's existence. 

The walls are hung with tapestries, paintings, embroideries, 
Cynical subjects are fashionable : cavalcades of Fools Love's 
Fools, Time's Fools, Money's Fools or Pageants of Love 
woven in subtle colours, such as we still see in the Beauvais 
tapestries at Chaumont. Here are Boccaccian gallantries 
lovers with lutes, and ladies robed in blue and green and 
rose-colour, seated on fresh banks of flowers; near them a 
jester and a viol player, with death's-heads peering from 



64 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

their pockets ; or a lovely youth beating old age with a 
crutch; here an iris, there a snail or a bird: and presiding 
over all, the Angel of Love, .with wings of flame and feet 
lightly poised on air. 

The ornamentation of the Chateaux was the last stage 
in their creation. The buildings themselves, though they 
seemed to spring up by magic, had, like all good art, a 
long and worthy pedigree. There were two periods in 
Renaissance architecture in France each influencing the 
other; the first lasted from about 1450 to 1515, mid 
centered in Touraine; the second centered in Paris and 
lasted from 1515 to 1589, the date of Henri IW accession. 
The second of these does not yet concern us. The first 
began with the work of the Franc- masons, the noble army 
of nameless men who built for building's sake and left no 
histories behind them. The school of Touraine arose as its 
mother school, that of Burgundy, decayed. The Ilurgtm- 
dian school was, in its turn, the child of Handera, and 
almost entirely Flemish in its nature. It was left to the 1 
young school of Touraine to create a French art which, 
from the first, announced a distinct character. It wns 
directly influenced by the Italians, lying as it did on a road 
much used by travellers from Italy to Paris, or to England. 
It sent its artists to Italy and they enriched it by their 
experience. But although it was never transformed by tlu 
Italians, it was modified, and assimilated such qualities m 
suited it. Transmuting late Gothic, it replaced redundant 
ornament by Renaissance traceries; it laid its hand on 
feudal castles and turned them into courtly home*. Th 
energy and fancy that had built and beautified the* 



THE ARTISTS OF THE RENAISSANCE 65 

now found scope in decorating the Hotels of ambitious 
merchants and citizens. Fortified towers lost their warlike 
look, battlements turned into cornices, moats were changed 
to fish-ponds and terraces, rooms grew larger and more 
numerous, and servants no longer slept in cellars. Archi- 
tecture might be taken as the epitome of social history. 
With Francis I appear secret chambers and secret stair- 
cases : redolent of intrigue and social complications. In the 
Chateau de Madrid such rooms were even made between 
the two ceilings over the great Hall, that the King might 
watch in person all that went on there. In his time also 
the garde-robe began to encroach upon space small wonder 
in the court of a monarch who required all his courtiers to 
have thirty suits of clothes, so that he might never suffer 
from monotony. 

As time progressed, names of individual artists began to 
stand forth and to be remembered, but they were still few 
and far between. There is Pierre Nepveu, called le Trin- 
queau, who worked at Blois and completed Chambord; or 
Bastien Francois, who is supposed to have built Azay-le- 
Rideau; or his great-uncle, Michel Colombe, who belonged 
in spirit to the second period, but lived in the first. 

Colombe is perhaps best known as a sculptor. Beginning 
his artist-life at Dijon, he was trained by the old Flemish 
masters, but his work very early showed a French character 
of its own, Later on he is supposed to have gone to Italy. 
At all events he had Italians working under him, and a 
Tuscan grace breathes from his marble creations, fusing 
harmoniously with the grace of France. He began his career 
under Louis XI, working through the reigns of Charles VIII, 

S 



66 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

and of Louis XII, who gave him a commission at Tours. Here 

he was settled by 1473, and here he worked at the Cathe- 
dral. His nephews, Bastien and Martin le Francois, 
helped him. Fountains for rich citizens, sculpture for Cha- 
teaux, tombs for nobles and their ladies, came from his un- 
wearied hand. He had a good many pupils. He was, in- 
deed, the only French sculptor to found a School of his 
own the School of Tours. 

Under his chisel there grew up, in the forest of Bourg-en- 
Bresse, the marble Church of Brou the shrine of married 
love, built to perpetuate the grief of the Duchess Margaret 
for the beautiful Duke Philibert de Savoie. He was killed 
one day out hunting, and she, Margaret of Austria, gave 
herself up to his memory and ordered Michel Colombo to 
raise a chapel for his tomb. It was to be a chapel with 
room for his mother's resting-place, and her own when her 
time should come. On one side he made her an Oratory, 
where, while the tomb was being built, she often prayed 
using it as her living-room,' that she might still hold daily 
converse with the dead. It remains there with stone fire- 
place and jewelled window, its silent Altar keeping watch 
over the great tombs. In the centre lies the warrior Philibert 
at full length, his hair cut square over his forehead. At 
his head and feet, and at either side* stand stately marble 
children, tender sentinels of his sleep ; one holds his helmet, 
one his gauntlet, another, at his head, is weeping. HIH 
face is turned to the figure of his wife on the left, hi# 
praying hands to the right towards the tranquil form of his 
mother on her couch of stone. Below, surrounded by bircfo 
and flowers, is stretched 9 according to the fashion of the 




pq 

U|_| 

o 



O) 
a> 



o 

CD 



THE ARTISTS OF THE RENAISSANCE 67 

times, his "gisanf, or naked figure, to show him in death 
as the upper figure shows him in life. Margaret's tomb is 
smaller, but no less regal Above, she lies with queenly 
robe and diadem; below, with the face of a statesman, 
masculine, almost rugged her figure covered from head to 
foot by the glory of her hair; and her resting-place is 
crowned by a canopy of richly wrought niches, each of 
them filled by courtly saints or long-haired Virgins, 
who seem, like maids of honour, to wait for her last 
waking. 

The work was finished in 1471, when Michel Colombe 
must have been near eighty; it was his last creation the 
last creation also of the earlier and purer Renaissance. Rich 
yet austere, simple yet fantastic, it stands as an epitome 
of contemporary sculpture, and as such it is fitting to be 
dwelt upon. 

There were other big sculptors at Tours beside Michel 
Colombe and his School. Jean Juste and his son were 
famous enough in their day. Jean made the poetic tomb 
of Charles VIII "s boy and girl in the Cathedral of Tours; 
and that of Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne, which were 
carried to Saint Denis : works more naif, perhaps more 
touching, than those of Michel Colombe, but not so typical 
of the full splendour of the Renaissance. 

Of the painters of this period we know little more than 
of the sculptors. Tours, the town of spires, the city of 
Si Martin and the Painters, " the heart of the garden of 
France" (as Rabelais called Touraine), was in these earlier 
clays the centre of art- It was also the place of royal 
residence, and its glory only waned when, kter in his reign, 



68 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Francis I moved the Court to Paris. The two rival Schools 
of painting, those of Tours and Paris, were then united. 
The School of Tours was the older, beginning as early as 
the ninth century; it was probably instituted on the foun- 
dation of St. Martin of Tours, to whose Collegiate Chapter 
so many illuminations belong. Its nameless pupils, like the 
Franc-masons, served to found a robust national school. 
Like them they were affected by Italy, like them they 
subdued its qualities to the needs of France. Italian in- 
fluence was shown in colour and detail, never in spirit. 
Poetry disappeared, prose, rich and dainty, took its place. 
The School of Paris, on the other hand, corresponded to 
the sculptors 1 School at Dijon and was under the power of 
Burgundian traditions. But here again French character 
holds its own, and French gaiety modifies Flemish severity. 
A good many names of painters are mentioned in French 
records of the fifteenth, even of the sixteenth,, century. Their 
work has completely disappeared, devoured by the wars of 
religion, or the Puritan Reformers. Of the names that 
remain, the greatest belong to Tours, In this city was 
born, between 1415 and 1420, Jean Fouquet, the friend 
and executor of Agnes Sorel, possibly also the maker of 
her lovely tomb at Loches. He went from Tours to Rome, 
where we find him about 1440, painting (by the order 
of his master Filarete) a portrait of Pope Eugenius IV. 
He returned to his native town and, after that, his career 
is only to be traced through State account-books* If men 
had but realized how much of history how very much of 
artists' biography is founded on accounts perhaps they 
would have kept them more fully, The name of Fouquet 




Figure from the Tomb of Margaret of Austria 
in the Church of Brou. 



F. p. 68. 



THE ARTISTS OF THE RENAISSANCE 69 

is mentioned in the statement of Charles VIIFs funeral 
expenses, when a messenger is paid "40 sols" for carrying 
the cast of the dead King's face to "Foulquet le peintre^ 
It occurs again in connection with pageants canopy-paintings 
for the King of Portugal's entry into Tours a Livy for 
Pierre de Beaujeu a Book of Hours for Charles of Or- 
leans'* widow, who paid his travelling expenses when he came 
to visit her at Blois. He was Court painter for the last 
ten years of his life, and he died about 1480. His reputa- 
tion was great enough to inspire the poetasters of the day, 
though perhaps they were easily inspired. One of Charles 
VIIFs officers, writing from Italy, describes a palace so 
glorious that "even Foulquet could not paint it." A few 
of his portraits remain, besides the fine picture of Charles 
VIFs Secretary in the Louvre, but his best works were his 
illustrations each a gem of light and colour. Livy, Jose- 
phus, Virgil, Boccaccio, Froissart, and Books of Hours, came 
from his master-hand; loveliest of all the Book of Hours 
which he did for Etienne Chevalier: scenes from the Life 
of Christ and the Saints, now to be seen in part at Chantilly. 
His successor in fame proceeded from the School of Paris 
" Jean Perreal dit de Paris," artist, decorator, glass painter. 
"Jean de Paris, nous nous fions en vous et tout notre hon- 
neur git en vous ; nous vous le remettons et promettons que 
nous vous contenterons bien" so spake the Corporation of 
Lyons, when they entrusted him with the decorations of the 
city for the Entry of Charles VIIL He must have been in 
good odour, for the next year his property was exempted 
from taxes by the King's orders, and he was afterwards made 
Painter Laureate and Court Surgeon, though happily he 



70 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

never practised his surgery. In 1504, lie was taken into 
the pay of Margaret of Austria, but he still belonged to 
the French Court and was made "Garde de la Vaisselle" to 
Anne de Bretagne. He led a charming, vagabond existence. 
Louis XII took him with him on his Italian campaign, and 
sent him to London to supervise the trousseau of his Tudor 
bride, "pour aider a dresser ledict appareil a la mode de 
France."" 5 Millinery then was an art, and the dresses that 
shine in the old pictures were often planned by the artists 
who painted them. The last mention of Perrcal occurs 
about 1527, when he must have been an old man. His 
busy brush has left very little behind it: the Madonna in 
the Louvre, neat and brilliant, and the wonderful a Bible 
Historiee," now at Corpus Christi College, Oxford the home- 
lier, less fantastic pendant of Fouquefs work at Chantilly. 

The career of Jean de Paris brings us to the Clouete, 
one of whom was the greatest artist of the French Renais- 
sance; the most delicate portrait painter France has ever 
possessed. There were four of them, and the youngest, 
Francois, was the most illustrious. The first, Jean, mention- 
ed by Marot, did decorative work at Brussels for Charles 
the Bold ; the second, also Jean, the friend of Marofn father, 
was Court painter to Francis I, and was known by the 
nickname of Janet, or Jehannot. So was his SOH, the great 
Francois. Hence the fourth Clouet, in the service of Mar- 
garet of Angouleme and alluded to m a le frere de Janet," 
may have been either his uncle, or his brother. Him w 
can dismiss. It was only Jean the second and his HOD who 
achieved distinction. 

Jean lived his eaiiv life at Tours, where he manioc! ft 



ARTISTS OF RENAISSANCE 71 

goldsmith's daughter and where his son Francois was born. 
He left it in 15S3,* to take up his office at Court, and lived 
between Paris and Fontainebleau on a salary of five pounds 
a year, besides %vhat he made by his separate works. This 
was considered a good income. Painters at that time ranked 
higher and received more than men of letters ; their travel- 
ling expenses were paid as well as their wages, and Francois 
Clouet, also painter-in-general to the Valois, even had a suit 
of mourning thrown in. 

This youngest Clouet climbed high on the Court ladder. 
He was the friend of the lordly Ronsard, and the Poet 
wrote sonnets to the Painter. Clouet must have been be- 
loved by the throng of ladies whom his hand so exquisitely 
immortalized. "He surpassed all his fellows in his lovely 
portraying of Nature," says one of his contemporaries, and 
the galaxy of his drawings and paintings does not contradict 
the saying. Who that has seen them has not felt the spell 
of his scintillating pencil? Who has not marvelled at his 
power of lucidity? there is no other word for it. Now it 
is a portfolio of drawings, strong of line, faint in colour, 
living in charm. Now again a painting in oils : the little 
head of a princess, keen, delicate, simple though bejewelled ; 
or the full-length figure of a Duke in black velvet either 
of them springing in bold relief from a deep blue, or a 
fresh green background. 

The work of the father, Jean Clouet, comes, at its best* 
very near to that of the son, and critics have often failed 
to identify the elder man's pictures. The portrait in the 
Louvre, of Erancis I in white satin against red damask, is 
supposed to be his, and so is that of the same King in the 



1% THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Uffisd. Francois Clouef s Elizabeth of Austria and Henri II 
in the Louvre, his boy at Hampton Court, his Dauphin at 
Antwerp, his Castle Howard drawings, now at Chantilly, 
are all too much known to need comment. The man was 
unceasingly active, and lived into the reign of the last Valois. 
He did anything that came to his hand. He decorated 
coffers, he painted pageants, he struck coins, he made 
effigies of each monarch as he died. His own death must 
have been about 1584 a date which carries us beyond our 
scope and into the second half of the French Renaissance, 

To this period of time, when the Italian painters migrated 
to France, when the architects Lescot and de FOrme fought 
with their Italian rivals, much of Francois Clouefs work 
belongs. But only as far as date is concerned. In spirit 
he was wholly unaffected by them, and the most French of 
French artists. The same may be said of his follower, Cor- 
neille de Lyon (celebrated by Bruntome), who painted 
Catherine de Medicis and her ladies* 

The minor arts, too, had been increasing. Famous in 
those days the earlier days of Clouet were the names of 
the glass-painters, Cousin and Pinaigrier. The work of both 
men is nearly all destroyed, and of Pinaigrier little is known 
save that he laboured at the windows of Chartre* Cathedral, 
But Jean Cousin was great in his generation : serious yet 
versatile, a painter, an engraver, and a writer on perspec- 
tive. He painted the windows in the Cathedral of Sens 
and was famed for his pictures in oils, though none but a 
few connoisseurs now turn their eyes to his last Judgment 
on the walls of the Louvre the composition of one who 
knew the work of Michael Angclo. Suwpeetecl of being a 



THE ARTISTS OF THE RENAISSANCE 78 

Huguenot, he was none the less a disciple of the Mid- 
Renaissance; his Sibyl, still existing on a window at Sens, 
and the name of his picture in that city, "Eve, the first 
Pandora," seem to express his complex aim. But, like so 
many others, he has passed into that twilight country between 
oblivion and remembrance, where none but experts enter, 
and his life is investigated by few except the satellites of 
Museums. 

Below men such as these came the crowd of artistic ar- 
tificers goldsmiths, gem-cutters, enamellers and potters, who 
reached their apotheosis in the next reign, with the advent 
of Bernard Palissy and Leonard Limousin. The perfection 
of secondary arts, the extravagance of detail, were the signs 
of decadence. The French Renaissance carried in itself the 
germ of its own destruction. Its worship of nature turned 
into an immoral materialism ; its exaltation of humanity 
into individualism and the destruction of society; while the 
love of beauty, which had illumined its golden age, ended 
by separating form from idea and hastening its downward 
course. l We need some reason to account for the ill effects 
of such noble inclinations, and it is not far to seek. Nature- 
worship, beauty-worship, knowledge of man each of these 
forces was isolated and impotent, for lack of the quality 
which binds them all together. The sense of reverence was 
wanting in France. It was its absence in the heart of the 
people which ruined the French Reformation; its absence 
which devastated Freedom and spoiled the French Revolu- 
tion; its absence which weakens the life of the France of 

1 Bruneti&re : Histoire Litt^raire. 



74 THE PJEUENCH RENAISSANCE 

to-day. Had the French, of tHe sixteenth century added 
reverence to their other powers, their art would have struck 
a deeper and more moving note, their wisdom have had a 
wider and more enduring effect. With this one thing 
necessary they might have become the Chosen Nation the 
Nation elected to achieve the union of old and new; of 
truth and criticism ; of faith and reason. 



BOOK II 

MARGARET OF ANGOULfiME AND THE 

RENAISSANCE 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER V 

Journal de Louise de Savoie. 

Poesies de Francois I, et de Louise de Savoie : 

CHAMPOLLION-FIGEAC. 

Histoire de Louis XI 1 : JEAN DE SAINT-GELAIS. 

** 

Histoire des Choses Memorables : FLEURANGE. 

Lettres de Marguerite d'Angoul&me (Biographical Preface) : 

Gl-ININ. 

rHeptam&ron: MARGUERITE D'ANOOUL^ME. 
Oraison Fun^bre sur Marguerite d*An.goul6me ; 

SAINTE* MARTI IK. 

Bayle's Dictionnaire Historique. 
Histoire de France : HENHI MARTIN. 
Trente Ans de Jeunesse: DE MAULDE LA CLAVI^RK. 
Marguerite de Valois: LA COMTESSE D'HAUSAONVILLR. 
Pictures of the old French Court: CATHEEJNK BKAHN. 





Louise cle Savoie, Madame la Regente. 

Cabinet cles Estampes cle la Bibliotheque Nationale ; 

d'apres Jean Clouet. 



F. p. ?6. 



CHAPTER V 
(14921515) 

THE COURT OF LOUISE DE SAVOIE 

ART and Learning found no impotent ally in Louise de 
Savoie, Countess of Angouleme, and in her son and daughter ; 
and Scholars and Artists found a pleasant home in the Court 
of her young days : the Court that she governed so gaily, 
Louise de Savoie began her career early in life. Born in 
1^76, she was the child of the Sieur de Bresse and Marguerite 
de Bourbon, who both died in her early childhood. She 
was left in the care of her aunt, the powerful Anne de 
Beaujeu, who led her the hard life of a poor relation at 
Court, and allowed her scant indulgence beyond eighty 
francs at the New Year, with which to buy herself a crimson 
satin dress for state occasions. Her birth, however, ensured 
a brilliant marriage. Louise had, at two years old, been 
affianced to the Comte d' Angouleme, her senior by many 
years and a peer of royal blood. Anne de Beaujeu, deter- 
mined not to lose such a match, re- opened negotiations 
with him eight years later. The Count was at that moment 
deeply in love with a certain Jeanne de Polignac, and it 
took two years to persuade him to marry Louise; but he 
did so at last, on condition that he might bring his mistress 
to live at Court. 



78 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

This was not the best training for a girl of twelve, strong 
of mind, none too soft by nature, very pleasure-loving, very 
ambitious. Ambition was, indeed, the most serious trait in 
her character, and, in the absence of worthier passions, often 
served to dignify it. 

In 1492, her daughter Margaret was born. Various rela- 
tions objected to her name as out of the family tradition, 
and suggested that Louise or Charlotte would be more suit- 
able ; but Margaret she remained" La Marguerite des Mar- 
guerites" "la perle des Valois." Her birth was followed 
by that of Francis in 1494, and, not long after this, the 
husband of Louise died. Much against her will, it was 
decided that her cousin Louis d'Orlcans (afterwards Louis XI!) 
should have a share in the guardianship of her children, but 
though he might have claimed some authority in her house- 
hold, at first he allowed her to do much an she liked. The 
real potentates in her palace were Octavien de St.-Gelais and 
his brother, Jean, her Valet, who had a strange ascendency over 
her and entirely regulated her home life. Closer relations 
were suspected between them. Valets in that clay filled n, 
unique position. They were a combination of attendant, 
secretary and "anmser," raised socially from menial associa- 
tions to a kind of convenient equality. It gave them every 
opportunity for a free and easy friendship, and it clicl not 
prevent their being thrown away at pleanure. The condi- 
tions of the post, with its generous salary, made it an ex- 
cellent sinecure for Poets and Scholars. Swift in Sir William 
Temple's house the seventeenth-century Chaplain is the 
nearest approach to the Valet of the Renaissance. Jean de 
Sk-Gdais however, was not famous for his learning. Where? 



THE COURT OF LOUISE DE SAVOIE 79 

intellect was concerned, Louise was more swayed by his 
brother, Octavien, afterwards Bishop of Angouleme: u a 
Boccaccian poet," a cleric who translated Ovid, an author 
whose works were as heavy as his life was light. 

This man was the embodiment of his day. He represented 
one party in the strange literary movement that enlivened 
the last years of the fifteenth century the rivalry between 
the old Classical and the new Boccaccian influences. The 
French, with their strange mixture of levity, romance and 
materialism, speedily took to Boccaccio. l He ruled the 
world of fashion, and with it Louise de Savoie and her 
Court at Cognac and at Amboise. Poems, pageants, man- 
ners, morals, were all alike Boccaccian. The Church followed 
suit and produced Boccaccian prelates. Octavien de St.~Gelais 
was the first among them, and his works are an index of 
his character. Fed on Ovid, he wrote viciously till pro- 
motion came in sight, when mythological Romance gave 
way to stilted Allegory. He is with Virgil in Hades. Sensu- 
ality beckons him to follow her to heaven; he ends by 
listening to Prudence, in the shape of a Bishopric. Later, 
when he was still more respectable, he made a translation 
of Virgil and presented it to Louis, who liked to be thought 
a judge of the classics. With such a man at her right hand, 
with poets and patrons of this kind all round her, it would 

1 There was, it is true, an ante-Italian poet called Botichet, 
who aimed at founding a national literature. But he was easily 
overcome by the fashionable Boccaccian poet, Jean Lemaire, 
whom Louise de Savoie protected. Lemaire was the author of 
" L'amant vert," a heavy poem in praise of Margaret of Austria, 
into whose service he eventually passed. 



80 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

have been surprising had Louise de Savoie, their disciple 
and their mistress, been other than she was. Herself an 
accomplished verse- writer of their dull school, she composed 
"Epistles" like the rest of them, 

The last ten years of the fifteenth century represent a 
period of decadence : a time when there was a universal taste 
for the unwholesome and abnormal ; when the old order had 
practically ended, the new not yet begun. Any kind of 
decadence is harmful, but perhaps none is so objectionable 
as that which borrows the form, the license, the detail, of 
classical scholarship, without its chiselled beauty and sense of 
the exquisite. There is no more arid art then the endless 
elaborate verses, the pedantic improprieties and futile erudi- 
tion, that existed just before the Benaissance. The deca- 
dence of every age is perhaps interesting, or at least intelli- 
gible, to itself; and to us, who are also going through a 
decadent period, the shapes that it takes seem, not less silly, 
but less tedious than those of the Past. In our case French 
influence takes the place that Italian did then; and, if we 
cany the analogy farther, we may find some hope in it. 
Boccaccio suggested modern ideas as well as a lax morality. 
Amidst the corruption there lived the germ of the new life : 
the Renaissance, in short, came from Italy, This last decade 
of the fifteenth century was like the Autumn. Decay met 
the eye on every side; but the dead leaves went to enrich 
the soil and to foster the growth of the young seeds hidden 
in the earth. 

The decadence did not confine itself to literature. Reli- 
gion was degenerate and, likt x the poetry of the day, 
more form than substance, The professors of a dry or H 



THE COURT OF LOUISE BE SAVOIE 81 

false creed always mistake credulity for belief, and supersti- 
tion is the piety of the materialist a stop-gap for faith. 
Louise was a Pedant in observance, as well as a Boccaccian 
in morals : as sincerely distraught at missing a Mass as she was 
at giving up a gallant. Her Astrologer something of a 
Scholar was the only person who dared to point out her 
discrepancies. One day she had reproved him for speaking 
against the priests, " Ah ! " he broke out, " while people 
scold me for telling the truth, they are recommending women 

and girls to read the novels of Boccaccio a school of 

depravity. They do not attempt, these severe critics, to 
read such works in secret. They gloat over them, translate 
them, popularize them. They seeni to think they are ful- 
filling an Apostolic Mission even when they are Princes of 
the Church, like the Bishop of Angouleme." 

The same Astrologer complained that she asked him for 
too many horoscopes. Superstitious she was to any extent. 
Sorcery and prophecy were important realities to her and 
to all her contemporaries. There lived at Tours a holy 
man, patronized by royality. Anne de Beaujeu and Anne 
de Bretagne repaired to him that his prayers might obtain 
a child for them, and attributed their daughters to his 
services. Louise, in a fit of envy, went also to consult him. 
This lucky prophet promised her a son who should be King, 
and, when he died, she rewarded him by getting him 
canonized. It seems rather an empty honour that his body 
was exhumed in her presence and that she held his hand 
through the ceremony, although she had a horror of death. 
She could never bear the mention of the word. When she 
heard it, " Mais am she would say, " nous savons bien que 

6 



82 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

nous devons mourn 1 ," and the subject was at once dismissed. 
The material side of life was all that she wanted. 

It was in vain that Louis XII tried to re-marry her 
first to the Duke Hercules of Este, then to Ferdinand, the 
brother of Charles V, last to Henry VII of England, who 
originally applied for the hand of her eight-year-old daughter. 
Louise was obdurate; a husband would have complicated 
(he would not have prevented) her gallantries; and she 
wanted to be everything to her children. Her maternal 
feeling was the one real feeling about her a fierce instinct 
too often suggesting the tigress. There were few virtues 
and no vices that she would not have dared in its name, 
and the fact that her son was heir to the crown was not 
without its glamour. From the first she always had her 
children about her ; they slept in her room and she watched 
their every moment. This was not done without difficulty. 
Louis d^Qrltkns, as was said, acted with her as their guar- 
dian. He began by being very friendly to her. When he 
came to the throne he was still unmarried and he treated 
her children as his own. He begged them to come to him at 
Chinon and at Blois ; he gave his best rooms to their mother ; lie 
spent hours in romping with the boy to all appearances Ins 
heir. He wanted family life, and to them he turned for it. 
But in a few days his mood suddenly changed, he became suspi- 
cious of Louise cold, tyrannical. He charged hi trusty 
soldier, the Marechal de Gie, with the supervision of her and 
her family. He would have robbed her of her right of 
guardianship, had not the Marechal prevented it. The 
scandal with her Valet, St-Gdaift, was probably the 
The next event was his dismissal--" at Gi<? instigation^* and 



THE COURT OF LOUISE DE SAVOIE 83 

the lady's departure for Amboise. Here she was ordered to 
remain under the eye of the man she chose to regard as her foe. 
In reality he was more her friend than most people, though 
his friendship often coincided with his interests and he ex- 
pressed his kindness roughly. As for the King, she never 
forgave him, and her feelings were not softened by his 
marriage with Anne de Bretagne, the provincial bourgeoise, 
born to disagree with the light and courtly Countess of 
Angouleme. Matters grew worse after the birth of Anne's 
daughter, Claude. The King and Gie destined her for 
Francis, as a solution of the vexed question of succession. 
This enraged Louise, who had other views about his 
marriage. 

A set battle began between her and Gie. She lived in 
constant fear of her children being taken from her, and even 
arranged that their levee should take place alone with her in 
her room. The customary maids of honour would surely be 
the King's accomplices. When Gie's representative waited 
outside her bedroom door to take the young Count to Mass, 
she refused to let the child go and complained to Louis. 
She had no opportunity to avenge her wrongs at the moment, 
but she .made herself disagreeable whenever she could. She 
rejected Gi^'s son as a playmate for her own, in return for 
which Gie forbade Francis to sleep in her room. This was 
short-sighted on his part, for, as he was to learn to his cost, 
she forgot nothing and practised endless patience in waiting 
for her revenge. Meanwhile she came off victorious and kept 
the children with her. 

Her boy's smallest doings are chronicled in her journal. 
"This day of the Conversion of St. Paul, January 25th, 



84 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

1501, about two hours after noon," she writes, "my King, 
my Lord, my Csesar and my son, was run away with, close 
by Amboise, on a palfrey given him by the Marechal de Gie, 
and so great was the danger that those who were present 
thought it irremediable. But God, the Protector of widows, 
foreseeing the future, would not forsake me, knowing that if 
an accident had so suddenly robbed me of my love, 1 should 
have been too miserable to endure it." 

Her idea of moral training was to win her children's 
hearts for herself; but within these limits she was as educa- 
tional as Miss Edgeworth. On her own hearth a Renais- 
sance hearth she was a model of the domestic virtues. At 
first she taught her boy and girl herself (she made a great 
point of verse-writing), but later she employed tutors. They 
were all very careful to invoke her as Wisdom and Prudence 
and Beauty, There is a characteristic picture of her at 
about this date as the Fountain of all Good with minor 
streams of Justice and Knowledge flowing from her son and 
her daughter. If this was what she expected from her peda- 
gogues, no wonder that they were dull The only remark- 
able man among them was Christophc Longuetiil, a Parisian 
lawyer, Vho boldly preferred France to Italy and taught 
Francis French history instead of Roman. He had to meet 
a tempest from his colleagues, not to be wondered at if we 
glance at the Prince's earlier lessons. His history copy-book, 
when he was just ten, is still to be seen : full of badly 
scrawled jumbles of stray facts about miscellaneous people- 
Adam, Semiramis, Sardanapalus, Alexander, and Comtantine 
with a list of the French kings. This was not much of 
an improvement on his mother's library, and if morals are 



THE COUBT OF LOUISE DE SAVOIE 85 

affected by literature, his own, in after days, were by no 
means inconsistent. 

He first went to Court when he was eight, and at this 
tender age he begins to be mentioned in the ambassadors' 
despatches. "My son," Louise writes in her diary, "went 
away from Amboise to become a courtier and left me all 
alone." At home he practised every sort of manly exercise. 
He was brought up with other little Messieurs : Montpensier, 
Montmorency and Chabot, the great soldiers, the greatest 
sailor, of later times. But his chief playmate was Fleu- 
range "le Jeune Aventureux" who has recorded the 
outset of his own journey in the world and the boyish 
life of his century. His words still breathe a vigorous 
quaintness. 

"Now History saith that when le Jeune Aventureux 
was eight or nine years old and dwelling in the house of 
Monsieur his father at Sedan this young man, seeing that 
he was of an age to ride a little horse and having read in 
his time divers books concerning adventurous knights of a 
past day, and also having heard tell of their exploits, took 
counsel with himself that he would go see the world, and 
repair to the Court of the French King, Louis XII, who 
was then the greatest Prince in Christendom. (His father, 
persuaded by his mother, gave him three gentlemen as com- 
panions and he set forth). ... Le Jeune Aventureux, being 
come to Blois, sent forward one Tourneville to announce 
his arrival to the King who was well pleased and bade 
him rest and refresh himself till the morrow, after which he 
called him to his presence. *My son,' quoth he, c you are 
very welcome ; you are too young to serve me, and therefore 



86 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

do I send you to Monsieur d* Angouleme at Amboise, since 
he is of your age, and I think that you will get on well 
together.' To which le Jeune Aventureux made answer: 
*I will go whithersoever you shall command me; yet am I 
old enough to serve you and to go to the wars if you desire 
it.* 9 Then spake his liege: My friend, your courage is 
good, but I should be afraid that your legs would fail you 
on the road ; all the same I promise that you shall go, and 
when I start I will send you tidings. 1 And the King sent 
him thence to the Queen and her ladies, who made marvel- 
lous good cheer for him." 

The next day he reached Amboise, where Louise of Savoy 
(or Angouleme) held her court, and where "he found a 
lodging between the two bridges, at the sign of Saint 
Barbara." Mother and son gave him a royal welcome, and 
"ledit Sieur d* Angouleme and le Jeune Aventureux, being 
almost of the same age and height, were speedily good 
comrades one with another, and whoever lacked good counsel 
would soon, have found it betwixt these two gentlemen?' 

It is refreshing to find these minute dignitaries having 
their childish quarrels. When the King came to visit them, 
sailing down the Loire in his barge, they went to meet him 
in their litter. But as it had only one "Trou" as exit, it 
quarrel arose as to who should have precedence : a for that 
le Jeune Aventureux, who had arrived but two clays before, 
thought himself as great a Lord as my Lord of Angoul6mc." 
We can fancy them on the green lawns that hang over the 
river, leaping, running, tilting, bombarding mimic castles, or 
playing with little arrows at "tuer A la serpentine." "I 
think/ 1 says Eieuraage, when he sums up his young 




Le Seigneur cle Sedan et cle Fleurange. 
(Portraits des Personnages frangais les plus illustres 
du XVIieme siecle, avec Notices par P. G. J. Niel). 



F. p. 86. 



THE COURT OF LOUISE BE SAVOIE 87 

childhood, " that never was a Prince who had more various 
pastimes than my Lord; nor was any fed with better 
doctrines than those which his mother gave him." 

In all his doings and most of his studies Francis had one 
sure and admiring participator his sister Margaret. He 
was a signal instance of a man too much surrounded by 
affectionate women. To his mother he always represented 
the drama of existence ; and to Margaret its romance. Hers 
was a complicated being subtly compounded of emotion 
and intellect; but the first impression that she made on 
those who saw her was that of a loving human creature. 
She was born smiling, says an old chronicler, and held out 
her little hand to each comer "a sure and certain sign of 
a generous disposition.''* "The Spirit of God," he adds, 
"soon began to manifest itself in her. It showed in her 
eyes and her countenance, her gait and her speech, indeed 
in all her actions." Her nature was rather intense than 
passionate: to concentrate lavish affection on a few people 
was all that she demanded. In these early days she poured 
it forth on her brother and mother "Notre Trinite," as 
she liked to call the group. "A perfect Triangle," she 
says, "of which I pray that I may become the smallest 
angle of an angle." 

The idea of Three, so popular among the Schoolmen, had 
a fascination for her mind, which was always addicted to 
mysticism. A kind of metaphysical theology was, from her 
girlhood onwards, her favourite study. At first she shared 
her brother's tutor ; later she had one to herself. She soon 
outstripped Francis in scholarship, learned Spanish, Italian, 
Greek and Latin at an early age, and studied Hebrew with 



88 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

the great teacher, Paul Paradis. Her mother loved her 
daughter with less enchantment, but almost as much as she 
loved her son. She prized the girl's gifts and made the 
most of them. She surrounded her with long-robed Scholars 
and gave her philosophers for servants. Does this mean 
that they read out Aristotle to her instead of bringing in 
the dinner? Perhaps it was the best way to teach their 
mistress to practise their precepts. At twelve Margaret 
visited the Court, where she graduated in the art of con- 
versation and watched over her little brother: somewhat 
anxiously, perhaps, for his resplendent tastes already showed 
themselves. "Ce gar^on la me gatera tout,"" the King said 
one day after seeing him. The good economical Father of 
his People knew that his heir-apparent had no taste for 
civic virtues. 

In 1505, the great Cardinal d'Amboise, the King's right 
hand in reform and in finance, was appointed the prince's 
u governor." He exercised an influence over him the reverse 
of that of his mother. Had the Cardinal stayed longer 
with him, it is possible that his chameleon character might 
have been set in another mould. It seems prophetic that 
the rival influence to Amboise was Triboulet, the King's 
favourite fool, a creature of infinite wit, who always dined 
with Louis at his table. To be between Minister and Fool 
was a characteristic position for Francis 1 We can see the 
boy in his cloth of golu, with his sunny Hmilc, bandying 
quips with the Court Jester, or playing wild jokes upon the 
Court Beauties. 

Louise of Savoy must have hated and probably respect- 
ed Amboise ; but the drama of her life at thin period was 



THE COURT OF LOUISE DE SAVOIK 89 

a domestic one, and consisted in her relations with Anne 
de Bretagne. The two women were, we repeat, the opposite 
of one another : the Queen provincial, plain and respectable ; 
the Countess urban, exquisite and immoral. The recurrent 
question of the heirship caused constant jealousy between 
them. The birth of Claude was harmless the Salic law 
had settled that but Louise lived in perpetual dread that 
a royal son would be born. Their quarrels were public 
property. "The Queen," says an old chronicler, "thwarted 
her in all her affairs," "et ne fut jamais heure que ces 
deux maisons ne fussent toujours en pique." There were 
forever false hopes about the Queen ill-concealed spite on 
the part of Louise hopes ending in smoke at Blois open 
rejoicings at Amboise. When at last the Countess' fears 
were realized, there is an almost savage joy in the entry 
she makes in her journal. "His birth" (she writes on 
October 24th, 1502) "will not hinder the exaltation of my 
Caesar; for the infant was born dead." 

As the years went on and the Queen's expectations 
diminished, a fresh irritation was created by the idea of the 
two children's marriage. The King planned it while both 
were still babies, as an obvious way of settling the succession 
and satisfying his affections. Anne de Bretagne, the great 
matchmaker, was against it, having decided to marry her 
daughter to Charles V. Louise was also strongly opposed 
to the marriage with Claude, and on this point the two 
women were in unison like all foes, agreeing only in opposi- 
tion. Meanwhile the good-natured King played fast and 
loose with both sides. The astute Anne left him no peace 
and made him sign a document ratifying Claude's marriage 



90 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

with Charles V. At the same moment, behind her back, 
he was making arrangements for the match with Francis. 
He slily assured her that he knew the plottings of Louise, 
but that "he was resolved not to marry his mice, except 
to the rats of his barn." "Really," replied the Queen with 
some sourness, "to hear you, one would think that all the 
mothers were conspiring for the unhappiness of their daugh- 
ters." Louis was annoyed at her persistence, and "told 
her that, at the Creation, God had given horns to hinds 
as well as to stags, but finding they wanted to govern 
everybody, he took them away as a punishment." 

It was not till Anne's death that the marriage of Francis 
with Claude actually took place* For his own ends, the 
Marechal de Gie was the King's right hand in the matter, 
and the fact did not endear him the more to the Countess 
of Angouleme. 

But her moment for revenge had come a revenge which 
was typical of her character and of her century. The 
Proces de Gie, so famous in its time, was a tissue of scan- 
dals* The Marshal was accused of treason and corruption 
on a number of false charges. These charges were trumped 
up by Louise. She was helped by three of GkFs creatures 
whom she had suborned and they, in their turn, gheltered 
themselves behind the Queen, Unfortunately Gie had made 
an enemy of Anne* He thought her a provincial, whose 
object was to aggrandize Brittany, and she was not unwilling 
to pay him out She backed Louise who, like the engineer 
she was, mined and undermined, fabricated lies, and got 
false witnesses for the asking. In the course of GitTs defence 
he mid he had ever been the friend of Louise; tier 



THE COURT OF LOUISE DE SAVOIE 91 

hatred- of him, he declared, was due to his dismissal of 
3t.-Gelais. No wonder that, after months of appealing and 
quarrelling, he was found guilty. The King all this time 
was lying dangerously ill, and could not defend his old 
comrade. The Marshal was deprived of his honours and 
banished for five years. Louise was avenged and freed from 
his supervision. 

As Francis grew older, he lorded it over his family. They 
called him their Caesar and only loved him the better for 
it. Caesar was precocious, and at fifteen he began to be 
sentimental. His first flame was the pensive Anne de 
Graville, who dreamed over her lute and her Petrarch at 
Angouleme. The young Prince, butterfly-like, poised for a 
moment on this flower and then flitted on. All the world was 
his garden where to choose. He went to Paris. He had boon- 
companions. Together, masked and disguised, they roamed every 
night through the streets of the city " faire des moramons." 
They entered promiscuous houses they attended balls at 
their discretion. At one such a dance, Francis (he was then 
about twenty) met Madame Dishomme, the sparkling young 
wife of a rich and elderly lawyer. He consulted the lawyer 
professionally ; he got access to the lady. The flirtation was 
longer than his first one. We can still see the old advocate, 
standing somewhat pompously in his black robe lined with 
marten, a wax taper in each hand, bowing the Prince 
upstairs and bidding his wife do her best to entertain him. 
It is all like a brilliant, objectionable little comedy, with no 
sounder moral than "he who laughs the last, laughs the 
longest." Contemporaries merely regarded it as one of the 
thousand luxuries then considered needful for the golden 



m THE FKENCH RENAISSANCE 

youth of Princes like the ^17,500 that Francis spent 
yearly on jewels. 

In 1514, Anne de Bretagne died suddenly at Blois. 
Louise and her son held open rejoicings at the event, after 
which the Heir-apparent bought a handsome suit of black 
satin mourning. The King alone grieved for his wife and 
begged that the grave might be made large enough for two: 
"Car devant que soit Tan passe, je serai avec elle." In 
spite of all this, he rallied to make a fresh effort and to 
push his favourite plan. That same year Francis and Claude, 
both in black, were married at St. Germain: he unwilling, 
and she submissive. His only wedding gifts to her were a 
four-post bed and a counterpane. There were no trumpets 
or feastings, "pas un ombre de drap d^or, ou de soie." 
Louise was not present, and after dinner the bridegroom 
went a-hunting in the park as usual a wedding-day which 
seemed an epitome of the poor little bride^s existence. She 
was sweet-looking, but unimpressive, and rather lame like 
her mother; and she made no demur about retiring to 
Blois directly after her marriage. Her lord remained in 
Paris to finish the Dishomme episode, and was only per- 
suaded by his urgent friends to return to her for a short 
time in July. 

His lax morals like those of his parents did not affect 
his filial relations, and he was almost as romantic a son as 
Louise was a mother. The year before his wedding, with 
great difficulty he posted home to Cognac for the joy of 
spending New Year's Day with her; later still she mentions 
in her journal that she has been very ill with gout and 
"my son sat up with me all the night.''' 1 Her feeling for 



THE COURT OF LOUISE DE SAfOIE 03 

him derived a new splendour from the proximity of his 
crown. For some years past it had almost become a certainty 
and she had allowed her fantastic ambition to travel beyond 
it. She dreamed of nothing less for him than the Empire 
of the East; she already saw him a second Alexander the 
Great. To the Western world, India and the East were 
still a fairy-land an Aladdin's cave where everything was 
possible. The commerce with India, hitherto monopolized 
by the Venetians, opened up dreamy vistas of boundless 
speculation. Travellers had it all their own way; their 
fabulous tales of molten gold, millionaire Mermen, and solvent 
Sirens, were believed by Kings as well as by peasants, and 
show how credulous these refined sceptics could be, A 
monk called Thenaud came to live at Louise's Court and, 
in 1509, wrote a "History of Marguerite de France."" He 
established the descent of French Royalty in direct line 
from a son of Japheths', and proved it to be the only survival 
of the great Dynasties of Assyria, Persia, Greece and Rome. 
Francis, he said, was " born for great things to govern the 
world, and not to see after a little province.'" 1 Two years 
afterwards, in 1511, Louis accepted the Sultan's offer of the 
monopoly of safe-conducts to Palestine, and sent an embassy 
to Cairo, which Thenaud was permitted to join. This was 
at the instigation of Louise. He was to go by Jerusalem 
to Persia, and to interview the Sophi on Francis 1 behalf. 
Then he was to travel to India to study "the Indian route" 
(as popular a theme as the North- West Passage), and so to 
perfect the scheme of the French Prince's Eastern Empire, 
Accompanied by Margaret's Secretary, he reached Cairo, 
Sinai, Jerusalem, and even contrived to enter the service of 



!W THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

a Persian Princess; but he could not get into Persia, and 
failed in his final purpose. 

From all these visions Louise was suddenly awakened by 
a rude shock. At the end of 1514, Louis XII, far from 
filling the second place in the tomb that he had ordered 
for his wife, announced his intention of marrying again. 
His choice had fallen on the eighteen-year-old Mary Tudor, 
sister of Henry VIII. Louis sent his first painter, Jean de 
Paris, to London, to paint her portrait and to plan her 
trousseau. He prepared gorgeous pageants to greet her and 
himself went in state to receive her at Calais. Francis, 
Margaret, and a superb retinue accompanied him : no expense, 
no emotion was spared. Louise of Savoy was checkmated, 
and by no means agreeable on the occasion. a Le 22 Sep- 
tembre, 1514," is her spiteful entry in her journal, "le roi 
Louis XII, fort antique et debile, (the King was no more 
than fifty-two) sortit de Paris, pour aller au devant de sa 
jeune ferame, la reine Marie.*" 

"Le 9 Octobre, 1514, furent les amouremes UOCOH de 
Louis XII, roi de France, et de Marie d'Angleterre ; et furent 
Spouses a dix heures du matin. 1 "* 

Henry VIII, who had, as we know, a high standard of 
wifely conduct, sent the King a letter with his sinter, ex- 
pressing his hopes that her capricious character would not 
harm conjugal peace. "Et ainsi," he added, in painstaking 
French, "lui donnames avisement et conaeil avant won de- 
partement et ne faisons aucun doute, Fun jour plus quo 
Pautre, ne la trouvez telle qu'elle ne doit etre ewvets YOUS." 
Hie "Avisement" had no further result than the complete 
bewitching of the poor old King. He now dined at noon 



THE COURT OF LOUISE DE SAVOIE 95 

instead of eight in the morning, went to bed at midnight 
instead of six, "fit gentil compagnon avec sa female" and 
was rewarded by falling ill. His wife consoled him by 
romances, which she sang while he lay in his bed. 

She was a good-natured woman, light of heart, light of head, 
light of morals, and this was a defect which stood Louise 
and her son in good stead. Mary Tudor had brought over in 
her train an English noble, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, 
with whom she was suspected to have more than friendly rela- 
tions a fact which, once proved, would deprive her of queenly 
rights and prevent any child of hers from being acknowledged 
as heir. Mother and son set spies upon her at every turn ; 
Francis (who found a flirtation with Mary a necessary part of 
the manoeuvres) commanded his wife never to leave the Queen's 
side by day; another trustworthy lady slept in her room at 
night. The King's death, on January 1st, 1515, not three 
months after his marriage, put a sudden end to their plottings. 
Mary Tudor went through the ordeal then prescribed by royal 
etiquette for royal widows to lie in bed for six weeks in a 
dark room only lit by candles after which she arose, 
married the Duke of Suffolk, and returned to England. 

There was now no obstacle between Francis and the 
throne ; his mother's joy reached its zenith ; and, at twenty- 
one years of age, he became King of France. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER VI 

Recit <fun Bourgeois de Paris: edited by LALANNE. 
Dames Illustres : BRANTOME. 
Dames Illustres : HILARION DE LA COSTE. 
rHeptam6ron : MARGUERITE D*ANGOULI<;MK. 
Histolre de Beam et de Foix ; OLHAGARAV. 
Oraison Funebre sur M aguerite d* Angouleme : 

SAINTE-MAUTHK* 

Biographical Preface to ( Euvrcs CJhoisics de Marot : 

H ftaiCAUi/r. 

Etudes sur Fran^oivS I : PAULIN PARIS. 
Femmes des Valois: ST. AMAND. 

Lettres de Marguerite d'Angoul^me (Biographical 

Preface): GKNIN. 

Marguerite de Valois: LA COMTESSE D'HAUSSONVILLE. 
Conferences sur Marguerite d'Angoul^me : JLuao. 
Trente Ans de Jeuiiesse : DE MAULDE LA 



CHAPTER VI 
(15001515) 

MARGARET OF ANGOUL^ME 

"LA Marguerite des Marguerites 11 had meanwhile been 
growing into womanhood. Her title was no mere compliment 
inspired by courtiers' flattery. When we have allowed for 
the due proportion of sycophancy, we are still surprised by 
the unanimity of the old chroniclers about her and by the 
sense of originality that their portraits of her leave with 
us. Early in life she chose as her crest a big daisy, with the 
motto, " Non inferiora secutus, 1 * l " en signe " (says Brantome) 
"qu'elle dirigeait et tendait toutes ses actions, pensees, 
volontes, et affections a ce grand soleil d'en haut, qui etait 
Dieu " ; and her " great sun," as we know, was a light of the 
mind as well as of virtue, its rays falling on the pages both 
of Plato and the Bible. She was well called "1'elixir des 
Valois. 11 She possessed their intellect without its coldness; 
their love of beauty without its voluptuousness; their 
urbanity without its treacherous lightness; their kindness 
without its instability. She was ever hospitable to ideas, 
whatever camp they came from, and the smiling baby 
holding out her hand to each comer was the fitting symbol 
of all her thoughts. This hospitality of mind, this maternal 
charity, made her, as time went on, the refuge of the 
1 "Not following the lower." 

7 



98 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Reformers. She claimed the wounded and distressed as her 
own, protecting them at her private peril with a steadfast 
chivalry. " Your royal Margaret 1 says one of the pedagogue 
poets, who had no expectations from her to bias his words 
"has always been the road and the path of those who 
have lost their way: the door at which they may knock. 
She does not wait for them to approach, but calls them 
to her by the kindness of her countenance, and runs to 
meet them like the father of the Prodigal Son." 

Margarets sweetness was tempered by her humour a quality 
rare among the women of four hundred years ago. Humour, 
which is supposed to foster a critical spirit, can afford to 
laugh where the many would condemn, and is quite as 
conducive to leniency as to satire. No really indulgent spirit 
judges, indeed, without it. It is expressed in Margarets 
countenance. Beautiful she was not, in spite of aE that 
courtiers wrote about her ; but her face was original and 
characteristic. There seems to be no picture of her as a 
girl ; nothing authentic of earlier date than Clouets portrait^ l 
taken when she was about forty. This is the less to be 
regretted, because the woman painted there must always 
have been much the same of a type that is probably better* 
looking in middle-age than in youth. She is essentially a 
Valois ; she has the long nose of her royal brother, his small 
eyes and heavy half-shut lids, with their mysterious look; 
but the brow is straighter and wider, the jaw square and 
strong, and the mouth an index of character firm, calm, 
benign, yet gently satirical: the lower lip rather full and 
sensitive, restrained as it were by the upper, which is cri- 
1 In the Gallery at Chantilly. 



MARGARET OF ANGOULEME 99 

tical and austere. The hair, hidden beneath a close-fitting 
black hood, is of a lightish brown; the head is well set 
on a long neck; and the fine right hand caresses a little 
spaniel. The whole leaves an impression of mingled gentleness 
and power of mysticism and common-sense of suffering 
sensitiveness and wise serenity the impression of a woman 
born for many experiences* 

They began early. We know that at eight years old she 
was wooed by Henry VIL Rather later Louis offered her, 
with a splendid dowry, to Arthur Prince of Wales ; but for 
the moment England was cold to France and preferred 
Catherine of Aragon. That Princess was fated to stand in 
the way of Margaret's marriage. Prince Henry was next 
proposed for her, then Ferdinand of Calabria. Both were 
Catherine's suitors ; both rejected Margaret. Catherine, worse 
luck for her, was forced to marry her brother-in-law. Margaret 
was well delivered from him. Not long after this, when she 
was twelve, Henry VII resumed his courtship, unabashed by 
the fact that his son had preceded him. This is the first occa- 
sion on which Margaret begins to reveal herself. She flatly 
refused to accept him. What, she cried, they wanted to carry 
her off to a distant country where a foreign tongue was 
talked, and to marry her to a King ? and what a King ! old, 
decrepit ! Francis was to be a king one day ; could she not find 
a husband young, rich and noble, without crossing the seas ? 

Her heart, half child's, half woman's, had already had 
its bird-like flutterings had for the last three years been 
innocently occupied by two of her playmates the little 
Due d'Alen<joa and Gaston de Foix, son of the superb 
Gaston Ph^bus, Duke of Bam. Destined to fall at Ravenna 



.100 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

in the flower of youth, Gaston died, as he lived, in the 
odour of romance. Fiery, gentle, chivalric, even in boy- 
hood he inspired a serious feeling in Margaret's breast. 
Her mother encouraged it and asked him a great deal to 
Amboise. While their loves were still but at the spring, 
there entered upon the scene Guillaume Gouffier de Bonni- 
vet, who had been one of Charles VIIFs pages. He first 
met Margaret on the green terraces and in the long low 
chambers of the Chfiteau of Chaumont; then at Tours, 
where he seems to have told her of his new-born love. He 
followed up these meetings by making endless stratagems 
to see her. One of these was his marriage with an ugly 
friend, an old playmate, of hers, Bonaventura du Puy du 
Fou, who was constantly at the Amboise Court, Margaret 
seems to have confided to him her attachment to Gaston, 
and, not long after, he was obliged to go off to the wars. 
During his two years' absence his feeling grew in intensity. 
He kept up a busy correspondence with his wife, who made 
constant mention of her mistress, and Margaret herself often 
sent him a line in her own writing. He returnedmelan- 
choly, preoccupied : so much so, that one of the Court ladies 
guessed his secret. Perhaps this determined him ; at any rate 
he took the bold step of confessing his passion to Margaret, 
one day when they were alone together, leaning out of the 
palace window. She reproved him gently ; she said that she wa$ 
not angry, that she trusted to his honour. But she could not 
prevent a certain embarrassment in her manner towards 
him, and it ended by driving him into voluntary exile. 

She wrote and begged him to return. He came, Louise 
favoured his strange suit, and even seems to have talked of 



MARGARET OF ANGOULEME 101 

a "mariage a Petranger." All smiled on his fortunes when 
the wars again claimed him, and he was taken prisoner. 
During his confinement, Margaret, then seventeen, was married 
to the Due d'Alen^on, She had wept many tears, she had 
wasted away, all for love of the faithless Gaston, who had 
gone out into the world. She left Amboise for the Chateau 
of Alen^on: her heart more solitary and susceptible, more 
thankful for a constant devotion, than ever before. When 
Bonnivet returned, she steeled herself to meet him by watch- 
ing his arrival, unseen, from an upper window which over- 
looked the courtyard, so that she might, as she said, "find 
him again" without meeting him in person. When that 
meeting did take place it was in the presence of others, 
and she embraced him calmly; but, privately, she promised 
herself all the consolations of friendship. Unfortunately his 
wife, who had accompanied Margaret to Alenon, died at 
this moment and his only pretext for remaining at Court 
was gone. He fell ill and Margaret nursed him herself. 
This was, perhaps, unwise, for her pity so far overcame her 
that once, while tending him, she clasped him in her arms 
and broke down all his resolutions. He again made advan- 
ces and she again repelled them, quietly but firmly. He 
told her that her fickle Gaston had not deserved her that 
her husband was unworthy of her; and she replied with 
frankness that she did not like her bridegroom, that Gaston 
loved another but that from him, Bonnivet, she had ex- 
pected friendship, and where was it ? He begged her forgive- 
ness, but she remained sceptical and they separated. No 
sooner had he gone than her fortitude vanished ; she yielded 
to her feelings and cried all day. Louise discovered her 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

secret, pressed him to her heart, and promised she would 
make Margaret write to him. A few letters reached him, 
so cold that they caused him to despair. There was nothing 
for it but for him to go away, and he succeeded in getting 
an appointment about the Kiiig^s person. 

One day Louise had a sudden letter to announce his 
coming and ask her to receive him late that night. Know- 
ing his real wishes and bent on furthering them without 
for a moment imagining that Margaret could object she 
sent her to her room to prepare for his arrival. Her daugh- 
ter pretended to obey ; but instead of doing so, she went 
to her private chapel, prostrated herself in prayer, and 
taking up a large stone, belaboured her face with it till it 
bled. Her mother, finding her in this condition, wasted 110 
time in comment, but carefully bandaged her wound and 
sent her to her lover. In spite of her protests, in spite of 
all her disfigurements, he pressed his suit fervently, till at 
last she called for Louise not, we may hope, without a 
touch of malicious pleasure. Louise, in her stage character 
of mother, was obliged to appear, and embarrassed excuses 
ensued. But when he had once gone, she scolded her child 
severely for "hating all that she loved." She took the high 
tone of the injured elder and refused to speak to her for 
days : the only estrangement they had. l 

The whole of this strange story, and the sequel of Bonni- 
vet's brazen adventures (as told, hardly veiled, in the Hep- 
tameron") are so topsy-turvy that, at the end of them, we 

1 The identification of the personages in this story told in 
the "Heptameron" is due to the researches of M. De Maulde 
la Clavi&re as given in "Trente Ans de Jeunesse." 



MABGARET OP AN6OUIJME 108 

ourselves feel astray and seem to be walking head-downwards 
in a kind of moral Antipodes. We have no map, no clue 
to this outlandish country, the inhabitants of which do such 
unimaginable things. Yet Margaret could still weep for 
Bonnivet when he fell on the field of Pavia. 

Her marriage with the Due d^Alen^on was a marriage of 
convenience Francis"* convenience. The Duke and he were 
both heirs of Marie d'Armagnac, and the wedding settled 
their rival claims. It took place in 1509. The bridegroom, 
somewhat insignificant in looks and in character, was at first 
distasteful, then a subject of indifference to Margaret. But 
he gave her a Court of her own and the position she needed. 
Before we go farther, it is well to pause and look at 
her now : already a woman in the plenitude of her ex- 
perience ; conscious of her tastes and half conscious of her 
aims. 

She was not yet the stateswoinan that she afterwards 
became more from circumstances than predilection. But 
a liberal thinker, a mystic theologian, and a guardian of 
the arts, she was from the beginning. Nature had given 
her these tastes, and she needed no experience to develop 
them. As a woman of letters her position at that moment 
was unique, for she cared for ideas more than for verbiage 
or for scholarship. Ideas alone satisfied her, whether they 
came from Plato or from Calvin, from Marot or Erasmus. 
And the idea on which she based all the others was tolerance : 
a warm tolerance, a large charity, bom both of heart and of 
head. This quality inclined her from the first towards the 
Reformers ; it made her the refuge of such different men as 
the fanatic Calvin and the free-thinking Dolet; the object 



104 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

of Erasmus" admiration; the patient listener to the truth, 
however unpalatable; until Reformation no longer meant 
reformed Rome, but -assumed the garb of heresy and fright- 
ened her sensitive conscience. In Margaret, till that hap- 
pened, the supposed enemies. Renaissance and Reformation, 
were made one. If the persecuted Calvin was harboured at 
her Court, Rabelais also dedicated to her the third book of 
his "Gargantua et Pantagruel." n Artist and early Christian 
met in her: the artist whom we know from the "Heptame- 
ron," with her love of rich brocades and flowery meadows 
and the golden idleness of summer ; the eaiiy Christian, who, 
after first youth, wore plain black garments, shared her goods 
with the poor, and taught them the love of God. 

A distinguished French critic l says that " she was less 
remarkable in her actions than her intentions, 1 ' and that in 
the two great objects of her life she failed. She wanted to 
establish a reformed Church free from persecution- and she 
wished to see her brother the Prince of enlightenment ; to 
place him "at the head of Civilization, of Reform and of 
Learning, of Mercy and of Freedom. 11 IE both aims she 
missed her mark. Her failure was chiefly due to the fact 
that, womanlike, her purposes were bound up with the 
thought of other people. Moderate as she was, she would 
never have gone the whole length of the Reformers; but 
even had she followed them farther than she did, it would 
have opened an impassable gulf between her and those she 
loved. As to her plans for Francis, it was only for his 
sake that she desired their fulfilment, and she could not 

1 St. AnaaBcl : Fexames des Valois, 



MARGARET OF ANGOULEME 105 

reckon on him as she could do on herself. She schemed 
for the man as she imagined him as he might have been 
not for the man as he was. Altruism such as this, which 
sweetens private life, contains the germ of weakness when 
it is used in public matters ; and the qualities that made 
her a good woman marred her as a worker for the world. 
The strong person cares for himself on the road he has 
marked out as his own ; and had she done so, had she put 
Causes before persons, she might have had more effect and 
have left a clearer mark upon history. 

In the early years of his reign, while Francis was under 
her influence, he became something of what she took him 
to be. He resembled her greatly on the intellectual side: 
in his love of letters and of art, his perception of what 
was true in thought, and his fine amenity of temper. 
When he was with her and stimulated by her faith in 
him, it was these qualities that came foremost, and it was 
no wonder that she believed in the realization of her dreams. 
Inspired by her, he established the College de France with its 
band of advanced Scholars; he favoured Reform and those 
who wished to purify the Church; he helped needy talent, 
encouraged all that was beautiful, and gathered round him 
men of parts from every civilized country. Unfortunately 
he was impressionable in other directions; he could well 
have said with Shakespeare 

"Two loves I have of comfort and despair 
Which, like two spirits^ do suggest me still." 

In his case "the worser spirit" was his mother. If in some 
ways he resembled his sister, in others he was like Louise. 



106 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

He had inherited her light temperament, to which good 
faith meant little or nothing ; her narrowness of vision ; her 
bigotry, when bigotry suited self-interest. He had also 
latent in him her power of cruelty, though his youth and 
his spirits long concealed it. One can imagine the vivid 
charm of so many conflicting elements; the fascination of 
one who at this moment was a lotos-eating Prince of the 
East; at that a soldier on a hard camp-bed. He must, 
too, have possessed a large share of magnetism the inexplic- 
able quality which explains the inexplicable. It alone ac- 
counts for the real enthusiastic love that he got from all 
sorts and conditions of men, apart from hyperbolic expres- 
sion or courtly servility. He had, we gather, a large 
Shakespearian sweetness a lavish courage which appealed to 
the crowd the sunny splendour and careless profusion of 
a June day. These were the gifts that made him the idol 
of his army, and the boon-companion of scholars as of 
soldiers; of little children as of ambitious beauties. 

His Court opened with a slight but characteristic episode 
which shows him to us in all the sumptuous pride of his 
youth. A wild boar had been let loose for sport in the 
courtyard of the palace where he was staying. Angered in 
some unforeseen way, it rushed at the barricaded gallery, 
crowded with guests, broke down the defences and, passing 
all the other people by, made straight for Francis, He 
might have fled into the Queen's room at his back, but 
he stood coolly facing the beast "comme s'il cut vu venir 
a lui tine demoiselle. ' Bidding everyone else stand behind 
him, he took his sword and stabbed the animal so that it 
stumbled back to the courtyard and died. There is a kind 



MARGARET OF ANGOUL&ME 107 

of superb boastful ness about the deed that brings him before 
us more vividly than many weightier events. 

More important, and more significant of his best qualities, 
was the part he played at Marignan the battle which 
opened the campaign against the Pope with which he began 
his reign. There, on the Lombard plain, he stands a man 
among his men, generous and jovial sharing their hardships 
eating his scant meal astride a cannon weary and stained 
with the blood of his foes cheering the flagging humble 
in the face of his great victory, as he kneels to his blameless 
Bayard and begs him to knight his Monarch. Seeing him 
thus at work, away from banquets and from women, it is 
easier to understand the loud acclaims of his contemporaries ; 
and we ourselves, for a moment, are almost dazzled by the 
glamour. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER VII 

Poesies du Roi Frai^ois I, etc v etc. 

Correspondance in time du Roi avec Diane de Poitiers et plusieurs 

autres Dames de la Cour, edited by CHAMPOLLION-FIORAC-. 
Preface to the above work: CHAMPOLLION-FIGKAC, 
Recit d'un Bourgeois de Paris. 
Etudes sur Francois I : PAULIN PARIS. 
Conferences sur Marguerite d'Angoul^me : LURO. 
Marguerite de Valois: LA COMTESSE D'HAUSSONVILLK. 
Lettres de Diane de Poitiers with critical introduction : GUIFFRV. 
Margaret of Angoulme : MARY ROBINSON. 
La Reforme; MICHELET. 
Histoire de France: MARTIN. 



CHAPTER VII 
(15151525) 

THE KING'S LOVE AFFAIRS 

the first ten years that followed the young King^s 
accession, he divided his time between love and war. Italy, 
indeed, for which he fought so hard and so fantastically, 
was to him as a mistress ever pursued and never won. At 
home, amidst his circle of charmers, he was doing more 
than he knew; he was founding French society. This was 
one of the unexpected results of his gallantries. The presence 
of witty ladies at Court drew many other women thither 
no mere maids of honour ruled by a Gouvernante and 
bound by etiquette but women of mind and beauty, who 
mixed themselves up with affairs and quickly obtained an 
equal footing with men. Without this sort of equality, 
women cannot make themselves felt and there can be no 
real society. " Society without women " (says an old chron- 
icler) "is like a parterre without flowers" and he might 
have added without bees. Margaret of Angouleme and her 
mother contributed much to these new traditions of good 
company they helped, if we may say so, to found them. 
But their sotiety, had there been none other, would have 
been something of a coterie a choice group of intellectual 



110 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

people; and it would have lacked the lavish luxury and 
gaiety which Francis brought with him. 

The feminine element was richly represented at the Field 
of the Cloth of Gold (1520). The interview had long been 
talked of. It came off as the direct result of the Imperial 
Election (1519): before the three young monarchs, who 
divided the attention of Europe, had yet had the leisure 
to decide their relations to one another. Francis hoped 
that he might lure Henry into an alliance with France. 
The whole affair seemed like a Comedy of Diplomacy 
invented for the pleasure of ladies. Those of Francis 1 Court 
were present in full force, including Anne Boleyn, Margaret's 
maid of honour, whom Henry saw there for the first time. 
The gorgeous show was arranged with an eye to woman's 
taste and a wish for woman's approval. The French had 
golden trees with green silk leaves the English a pavilion 
made of glass. There were combats of generosity, carefully 
planned to make an impression on Beauty. Francis and his 
Brother of England vied with each other in courtesy. The 
French King forced his way, ostentatiously unattended, at 
daybreak to Henry's tent, and offered to act as his valet 
and warm his royal chemise for him. Henry, deeply moved, 
hung a rich chain round his neck, and Francis retorted with 
a still richer bracelet. There were trials of skill : Francis 
shone as a rider and a swordsman ; Henry was great at the 
bow, but heavy on horseback. He killed a man by mistake 
and, in a single tourney between the two Kings, was unfortun- 
ately overthrown in the presence of all the Graces. The 
good of the gifts and visits was undone, the conciliatory 
purpose of the meeting injured, and the two monarchs parted 



THE KING'S LOVE AFFAIRS 111 

amid a good deal of personal irritation. Margaret of 
Angouleme, the wife that might have been, and Anne 
Boleyn, the wife that was to be, retired with the rest into 
private life. 

If this had been the end, the consequences would not have 
been of importance. But before King Francis reached home, 
he had already had the news that Henry had met Charles V 
at Wael, near Gravelines. There were no silken tents 
and no ladies, but a great deal of business was done. The 
results were not long in appearing. Charles, who did not 
waste time, at once declared war against France on the 
vexed questions of Milan and Navarre. It was not a fortu- 
nate campaign for Francis. He lost both possessions with 
disastrous rapidity (1521 2), and the calamity was aggra- 
vated by his fears that Henry would descend upon Calais. 
Amid all these doings Queen Claude was forgotten. She 
counted for little, and nothing was asked of her except to 
efface herself. She gave her fickle husband three sons and 
two daughters, but the chief event in her blameless life was 
her death, in 1524, during his absence in Italy. Her funeral 
was as magnificent as if she had been the most courted and 
dominant of sovereigns; and the neglected little Queen was 
borne in state through Paris, its streets and squares hung 
with crape and a wax taper before each house. Six bare- 
headed " children of honour,"" dressed in black velvet, rode 
the horses that drew her hearse. Margaret and Louise 
followed her on mares with black trappings; twenty-four 
"criers'" in mourning cried her name; and before her, in 
scarlet robes, went the whole Court and the Parlement, 
heralded by the First Usher in his hat of gold. These 



112 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

grandiose shows would have given her scant consolation. 
Even now, while her body was being paraded through the 
city, Francis was dreaming of a certain Clarissa of Milan 
who had been described to him ; contemporaries went so far 
as to say that it was mainly to win her that he undertook 
that year's. Italian campaign. 

Long before her death, Queen -Claude had found herself 
permanently supplanted by more- important rivals. The 
woman who ruled the first years of the King's reign was 
Franchise de Foix 3 Duchesse de Chateaubriand a true child 
of the South, black-haired, olive-skinned, and passionately 
in love with the light-hearted King. She must have been 
a person of great charm. Her husband, Jean de Brosse, 
who knew all about her royal attachment, was under her 
spell to the end; and honoured her gifts and virtues by an 
epitaph ordered from Marot which would be touching if 
it were not absurd. She, meanwhile, wrote bitter complaints 
to the King of her occasional visits to her home in the 
country. "Everything seems difficult when I consider my 
present circumstances, and reflect that all my life I shall 
probably be nothing better than a woman bound to house- 
keeping; a yoke which is the dreariest of all yokes." The 
King's answers are light; he was not capable of love, but 
he hid its absence by amorous conceits. " Ah ! my friend,'" 1 
he exclaims, " let me bear the burden, since I alone am the 
cause of it ; it is not reasonable that innocence should suffer 
the penalty of guilt. ... I would far rather have the ruins 
of love in my memory, than my memory without such 
ruins. . . . The misery of parting lies in the longing to 
return." 




DE 



La Comtesse cle Chateaubriand. 

(Portraits des Personnages fran^ais les plus illustres clu 
XVIieme siecle, avec Notices par P. G. J. Niel). 

F. p. 112. 



THE KING'S LOVE AFFAIRS 118 

It is all very fine to talk about the bearing of penalties, 
but It is not easy to discover the burden that the King 
carried for himself or, anybody else; and his memory was 
strewn with so many ruins that they only served to make 
it picturesque. The Queen was not alone in her experience 
of him. Sooner or later he tired of wife and mistress alike. 
Even before Claude died, Madame de Chateaubriand began 
to see symptoms of a change in him and recognised the 
advent of a rival She writes a letter in vehement dispraise 
of fair complexions, which shows the way the wind blew. 

" Blanche couleur," she says, " est bientot effacee Blanche 

couleur n'est pas longtemps nette" (clear). She reproaches 
him in rhyme but she is none the less bitter for that, 
She knew too well that her only chance was to amuse him 
("Celle qui est noire'"* she calls herself); and when that 
fails, she breaks down and becomes pathetic. She writes 
her own epitaph and begs him, if he ever loved her, to 
look at it as he passes by. It must have been a deep 
sorrow which made a King's mistress natural, and there is 
the tragic force of sincerity in her cry : 

Une femme gisant en cette fosse obscure 
Mourat par trap aimer d'amour grande et nai've. 

Francis ran no risk of such a death, and he found little 
difficulty in parting with his old love. The new one was 
ready the golden-haired Mademoiselle d'Heilly de Pisseleu 
(afterwards Duchesse d'Etampes), deliberately chosen for him 
by his mother. The King relieved what feelings he had 
by writing a poem on the complication of caring for too 
many people at once. "I am constrained to love three 

8 



114 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

women," he sighs . . . " one of them Is too much mine for 
me not to love her. 1 ' This rather dubious complaint refers 
to his wife, and he proceeds to describe the other two. He 
carried on this dual game till the Italian wars called him 
away again. Madame de Chateaubriand, treated with every 
indignity by the Regent Louise, retired with a broken heart 
to a comfortable country-house. The rest of her life does 
not belong to history. 

Mademoiselle d'Heilly was quickly domesticated by Louise, 
who refers to her as one of their "united trio." "La plus 
belles des savantes et la plus savante des belles," Marot 
called her. She was a young woman of sense and parts, 
with a good deal of learning besides; and was afterwards 
made governess to the King's little daughters, as if she were 
a Maintenon or a Genlis. She was not altogether generous, 
for she begged the King to get back the jewels he had 
given to her predecessor, not because of their value (jewels 
were then unfashionable), "but for love of the devices 
engraved thereon and designed by his sister, who was a great 
mistress of this craft." Madame de Chateaubriand responded 
by returning the King's gifts turned into golden lingots. 
"She has shown," said the King, "more courage and generosity 
than I had thought possible in a woman." 

Margaret's part in all this Is difficult to realize. She 
was a friend of Madame de Chateaubriand, but she was 
intimate with Mademoiselle d'Heilly. Mademoiselle's Pro- 
testant leanings (which made her, as Duchesse d'Etampes, 
the Patroness of the Reformers) must have been a bond of 
union, but there was, besides, a real affection between them. 
The truth was that Margaret always loved the people the 



KING'S LOVE AFFAIRS 115 

King loved. She saw him in everything and everybody. 
"I was yours before you were born," she wrote "you are 
more to me than father, mother, and husband. Compared 
to you, husband and children count as nothing.'"* This is 
the mysticism of love, and a mystic Margaret was, in heart 
as well as belief. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER VIII 

Journal de Louise de Savoie. 

Les Marguerites de la Princesse des Marguerites : MARGUERITE 

D*ANGOULME (with Biographical Preface by FRANCE). 
Nouvelles Poesies: MARGUERITE D*ANGOULME. 
Lettresde Marguerite d'Angoule'me (Biographical Preface) : G&NIN. 
Nouvelle Lettres (Biographical Preface): G^NIN. 
Life of Margaret of Angoulme: MARY ROBINSON. 
Les Femmes des Valois: ST.-AMAND. 
Conferences sur Marguerite d' Angouleme : LURO. 
Marguerite de Valois: LA COMTESSE D'HAUSSONVILLE. 
Vie de Rabelais : RENE MILLET. 
Histoire de France (Vol. VIH): HENRI MARTIN. 
La Renaissance: MICHELET. 
La Reforme: MICHELET. 
Dictionnaire Historique: BAYLE. 



CHAPTER VIII 
1515 



THE MYSTICS OF MEAUX 

RELIGION at this moment was occupying Margaret's mind. 
It is said that people become Catholics for very different 
reasons ; emotional, aesthetic, theological In those unsettled 
times men and women were Protestants from motives quite 
as varied. These were the palmy days of Reform, before 
divergences of doctrine were defined. In France, the home 
of culture, alone of all countries, for the first twenty years 
or thereabouts, the Renaissance and the Reformation went 
hand in hand. Scholars, Reformers, Poets, Philosophers, 
Wits and Mystics, all made common cause against the rule 
of ignorance and convention, and the imprisonment of the 
imagination. Margaret of Angouleme adopted the new faith 
in great measure because she was a mystic, and rebelled 
against the gross shackles of dogma ; because, too, her large- 
minded charity made tolerance a necessity in her eyes. Any 
thought that helped men to live more nobly she included 
within the pale of religion, and Socrates was no less a Saint 
to her than Augustine. 

Of her actual dogmas we know little, except that she 
dwelled much on Redemption and little on the Fall. She 
thought a great deal about Immortality, but did not like many 



118 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

words' about it. Impatient at a preacher who constantly 
harped upon death, she said that such talk was the last 
refuge of clergymen when they were at an end of their 
resources and did not know how to make any effect on 
their audience. And when men of mind discussed Eternal 
Life in her presence, she would shake her head sadly: "All 
that may be true,*" she would say, "but we have to remain 
a long time underground before we reach it." The love of 
speculation was strong in her, but her love of good actions, 
her reverent humility, were stronger. The creed that used 
fewest forms and dwelled most upon practical Christianity 
was the one that appealed to her. "The least word in the 
Scriptures is too good for me," she said, "and the clearest 
is full of obscurity. Alas, what choice can I make between 
them, seeing that I cannot even understand why they differ ? " 
This is the saying of a modest and moderate person one 
who would not easily sever old ties. The heart is conserv- 
ative, and the heart was Margaret's weakness as well as her 
strength. She was bom to purify an old order rather than 
to found a new one. 

She was bent on the conversion of her brother and her 
mother hitherto latitudinarians, but not pious as she was. 
Louise seems, for a short while, to have inclined towards the 
New Ideas, but her beliefs were beliefs of the brain ; feelings 
had nothing to do with them. Scorn of the Monks and a 
taste for satire played a much larger part in her creed, 
"My son and I," she wrote in her Journal, "begin by the 
grace of God to know the hypocrites, black, white and 
grey, and the hypocrites of all colours The Ix>rd pre- 
serve us from them, for in all human nature there is no 



THE MYSTICS OF MEAUX 119 

more dangerous race." A religion such as this, founded on 
antipathy and common sense, was hardly of stuff that would 
endure. Policy was her real conscience; and when the new 
doctrines interfered with that, and endangered State as well 
as Church, then they became heresy and she persecuted more 
bitterly than anyone. Both she and Margaret were absorbed 
by the novel study of the Scriptures. To Margaret, who 
did not analyze the people she was fond of, her mother, 
whom she began by converting, afterwards figured as the 
perfect interpreter of the Bible. In the " Heptameron " Louise 
is probably portrayed as u Oisille " the wise and calm lady 
who directs the conduct and devotions of her companions, 
and expounds the Bible to them daily with such charm and 
understanding that they are loth to leave her, even for 
Boccaccian pleasures. 

The attitude of the King resembled both that of his 
sister and his mother. He was warm in intellect and eager 
to please all parties. But there was another side to his 
character. Selfish statecraft, pride of position, and relent- 
less cruelty to opponents lay beneath the dazzling surface. 
When Reform seemed to threaten his prerogatives, he followed 
his mother's example and punished barbarously. In these 
early years of his manhood, however, all was serene, and 
Margaret had her way with him. Such love as hers was 
rather blind. She constantly gave thanks for his spiritual 
progress when he was really acting on the dictates of a 
shrewd mind. Happily it suited his views to play the 
Patron of the Reformers, whom he called "Mes fils and 
"Homines d^exceUent savoir." Calvin dedicated his book 
to him. So did Zwinglius, Pastor of Einsiedeln and Vicar 



ISO THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

yf Zurich, who promised him a place in heaven in the 
company of Hercules and Cato. The King graciously accepted 
their homage. "I have no wish/' he said, "to persecute; 
I should only be preventing clever men from coming into the 
country. 1 ' This was to his credit, at a time when German 
princes were killing the monks of Antwerp when even in 
England parents were burned for teaching their children the 
Pater and the Credo in English (1511). Like Margaret, 
Francis was fond of inviting the Reformers to his table, 
and discussing their subjects with them during dinner; and 
what he thoroughly enjoyed was getting a laugh at the 
Pope : the sly laugh of the schoolboy at the expense of a 
tyrant pedagogue. 

Margaret was bent on the further conversion of both 
Francis and Louise. She introduced into the family circle 
a certain Michel d'Arande, a scholar of the new faith, whom 
she made her special "Reader." Unlike their brethren at 
Geneva, who read the whole of the Bible, the French Reformers 
devoted themselves to the New Testament. Michel d'Arande 
read portions of it daily to his three royal friends in their 
private apartment, and held debates as he went on. Louise 
and Francis became more heterodox, and Margaret rejoiced 
in her success. "The King and Madame," she wrote to a 
friend, 1 "are more than ever inclined to aid the Reform of 
the Church, and resolved to let the world know that God's 
truth is not heresy." Another of her converts was the 
sister of Louise, Philiberte de Savoie, widow of Leo X's 
brother. Philiberte returned from Italy to France and " fell 

1 Bonnet 1521. 



THE MYSTICS OF MEAUX 121 

in love " (so she tells us) with her niece, Margaret, who plied 
her with tracts and pious conversation. When the aunt 
was inconsolable at the thought of departing for Savoy, the 
niece begged Michel d'Arande to go and calm her with 
spiritual ministrations. She remained, like many others, 
under Margaret's spell, and a kind of Protestant mysticism 
became the fashion at Court. 

It was greatly helped by the rise of a little group of 
men, eager for Reform, to whom Michel d'Arande belonged. 
These were the Mystics of Meaux, earnest thinkers and 
students, dwelling chiefly in that city and centering round 
its fashionable Archbishop, Bri^onnet, Margaret's Director 
and correspondent. She was only second to him in import- 
ance amidst this band of Reformers, and all the best and 
least fanatical spirits gathered round them. Here was Lefebre 
d'Etaples, translator of the New Testament and tutor to 
the King's son; Roussel, "the Red-haired," Margaret's 
preacher, who travelled in Germany, heard Luther, and 
shaped a creed of his own neither that of Luther nor of 
Calvin; Berquin, a noble by birth, a soul of fire, doomed 
to perish for his faith ; Farel, also an aristocrat, very small 
and fierce; Leclerc, a democrat and a weaver of Meaux, 
who supplied the popular image-breaking element and was 
born to be a martyr; Mazurier, who, with Lefebre, defended 
Reuchlin against the Cologne Dominicans ; and a few others 
no less fervent, if not as effectual as their fellows. They 
had, too, one or two outside associates: Duchatel, the 
King's Reader, and Guillaume Petit, his Confessor. But 
these men, now their admirers, afterwards took fright and 
turned against them. 



188 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

In spite of occasional opposition, they continued to work 
and strive. They got hold of the weavers of Meaux, 
Leclere's fellow-artisans, a handful of starving men, fit 
subjects for religious revival. So matters went on till 15SS. 
That year the fanatic, Noel Beda, began a systematic 
persecution and obliged them to scatter and to flee. Farel 
went to the Dauphine and sowed the seeds of Reform; 
Roussel followed him there, but not for long. The indefatig- 
able Margaret gave him the Abbey of Clerac. When things 
were quieter she even got him a Bishopric, and the title 
of Royal Almoner and Confessor to herself and the King. 

It is remarkable that so many men of distinction, bound 
to each other by kindred aims, should have left so little 
mark behind them. The fact is that not one of them was 
a real leader. They were all thinkers and theorists rather 
than doers. Berquin, who was fervent, had no wisdom ; 
Farel, a man of action, lacked magnetism and did not 
possess the requisite largeness of vision ; and Roussel, with 
his separate creed, left the high-road for a by-path. The 
two most promising members were Bri^onnet and his Grand 
Vicar, Lefebre dTEtaples; but they too failed, for reasons 
peculiar to their characters. 

Bri^onnefs nature is summed up in Robert Browning's 
Bishop Blougram the man of good aspirations who com- 
promised with the world. The son of a priest whom 
Julius II excommunicated, he was first made Conite de 
Montbrun, then took orders and obtained the confidence of 
Louis XII 5 later of Francis L Twice Extraordinary Ambas- 
sador to Rome and Representative of France at Papal 
Councils, he followed up his honours by gaining the rich 



THE MYSTICS OF MEA1TX 

Abbey of St. Germain-des-Pres, reforming its abuses and 
increasing its library. He was a true lover and protector 
of Letters, and this was probably his first link with Margaret. 
"Madame," he writes to her, "if at the farthest end of 
the Kingdom there existed a Doctor, who by one single 
condensed verb could teach the whole of Grammar; and if 
he could also teach Rhetoric, Philosophy, and all the seven 
Liberal Arts, each by a like condensed verb, I vow that you 
would rush to him as a shivering man would to the fire.** 
Later and it is a matter for regret their correspondence 
resolved itself into unintelligible mysticism. Its bulk is 
astounding, its contents more so. A stranger farrago of 
exalted dulness cannot be imagined, and its incoherence 
increases till it reads like a correspondence in a dream. 
Repentance and ecstasy are expressed in the extravagant 
language of love a kind of spiritual euphuism, complicated 
by allegory. She dwells vaguely on a crushing sense of sin ; 
Brionnet absolves her in phrases that sound like gibberish. 
She was twenty-four years younger than he, but he signs 
himself "your useless son"; she varies between "your 
useless mother"", and "your frozen, thirsty and ravenous 
daughter ". . . . "Madame," he answers (unconsciously paro- 
dying himself), "what am I saying? I do not know what 
I am saying." No more perhaps did Margaret, for even 
she, on one occasion, asked him to "demetaphoriser" himself. 
Sentimental though he was, this Court Bishop was no 
charlatan. He sincerely wished for Reform in the Church, 
and all through the Meaux period he was working for his 
cause. But when that cause became a dangerous affair, his 
opinions changed and he gradually cried off. To avoid 



184 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

persecution, he belied himself in the pulpit and made all 
the retractations required ; yet, to his credit be it added, he 
never consented to persecute. 

Lefebre d^Etaples was of a nobler strain. He hated the 
abuses of Rome, and wished to revive the primitive Church. 
It was with this view that he translated the New Testament 
and made a Commentary on St. Paul. Professor of Letters 
and Philosophy in Paris, he had a good deal of interest in 
the world of cultivated people, and it was he who first 
communicated the new doctrines to Bri^onnet. Appointed 
as his Grand Vicar, he went to live near him at Meaux 
and was among the first of his comrades to encounter the 
anger of the Sorbonne. His opinions do not sound very 
dangerous : they concerned nothing more vital than the lives 
of St. Anne and Mary Magdalene. Nevertheless, they were 
pronounced to be heretical, and he was forced to flee to 
Strasburg. Thanks to the efforts of Margaret, the Court 
intervened and rescued him. He was made Tutor to the 
Singes youngest son and, later, when danger again threatened 
him, his Lady's Librarian at Blois. But the Sorbonne 
refused to leave him in peace, and Margaret, then Queen 
of Navarre, removed him thither, to her palace at Nerac. 

Although we are forestalling the date, this seems the right 
place to complete the picture of the apostolic Lefebre. In 
holy calm he lived on at Pau until he was a hundred and 
one, filling his days with charity and with wise conversation. 
He read to the Princess daily from the Gospels, or from 
pious books, and it was with him that she liked best to 
talk. He fulfilled, she said, her ideal of goodness and 
simplicity. He was at dinner with her a few hours before 



THE MYSTICS OF MEAUX 125 

he died. "Madame," he said, "I have reached the age of 
a hundred and one, and I do not remember committing 
any fault with which to burden my conscience now that I 
am leaving this world unless it be one only, which I feel 
it is impossible to expiate. How can I exist before the 
Tribunal of God I who have taught the Gospel of His 
Son, in all its pristine purity, to so many who have suf- 
fered death for Him, whilst I have always managed to 
escape it ? And this, too, in an age when, far from fearing 
it, I ought to have desired it." Margaret tried to comfort 
him, and she reasoned so well that at last he said, "There 
is nothing left for me to do but to go to my God Whom 
I hear calling me." Then, turning his eyes on her, he beg- 
ged her to be his executrix; he left his books to Roussel, 
his clothes to the poor, and recommended the rest to the 
care of God. "And what of all your fortune comes to 
me?" she asked. "The trouble of distributing my posses- 
sions among the poor," he replied. "Gladly will I do it, 1 " 
said she; "and I swear that this gives me more pleasure 
than if my brother, the King, had made me his heiress."" 
Thereupon he said farewell to those at table, and went 
straightway to his bed, where he died so gently that every- 
one thought he was asleep. 

Perhaps Lefebre d'Etaples was right about himself and 
he had, by his retirement, committed an unconscious crime 
against the French Reformation. But in England Protest- 
antism established itself without the existence of great 
leaders. Had Francis I been a strong-willed and clear- 
sighted man of action, like Henry VIII or had he even 
remained faithful to his trust as the Patron of Reason and 



126 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Reform the Reformation might have taken root in France. 
But as it was, the typical Frenchman could not impose 
Protestant thought upon his nation a sign, maybe, that 
such beliefs were not made for it and could not have 
flourished in its midst. It never took hold of the French 
people, but remained, from first to last, the concern of the 
cultivated aristocrats an intellectual conception lacking 
democratic sinew. Excepting for a brave little band of 
weavers and cloth-workers at Meaux, and a few stray 
artisans of later days in Paris, the poor had nothing to 
do with this period of the French Reformation : the only 
period when it might have had big issues. Luther was the 
son of a miner and he needed the help of the German 
people to spread abroad his religion. It was a faith which 
depended on confident deed rather than on beauty-loving 
form. And thus it was that he succeeded where a thinker 
like Erasmus must have failed. 

In 1525, there occurred an event which proved of signi- 
ficance to the Reformers the fatal battle of Pavia. The 
war with the Emperor, which for the last ten years had 
been continued almost incessantly in Italy and the Nether- 
lands, was now approaching a fresh crisis. Francis had, off 
and on, himself conducted his campaigns and had had his 
share of hard fighting. In 154, he once again crossed the 
Alps and led his army in person against the forces of 
Charles V. He undertook the long siege of Pavia, which 
culminated in the great battle at which he was defeated 
and taken prisoner. It was a catastrophe for France, and, 
had they known it, for the Reformers: marking, as it 
did, the close of their best days the days of tolerance and 



THE OF MEAUX 127 

reason. l When the King returned from his captivity, perse- 
cution was already in the air. His mother, who looked upon 
Pavia as a judgment for heresy, had not been slow to fan 
the flames; and though he had occasional returns to his 
generous mood, he too joined the cry against Reform. 
Margaret alone remained staunch to her old friends. 

The news of the disaster, which reached her at Lyons, over- 
whelmed her. She heard that a blunder on the part of her hus- 
band the Commander of the Vanguard had been a main 
cause of the defeat. It was difficult to get tidings. Rumours 
reached her that her brother was crushed by the blow; that 
he was leading the life of a monk. Adversity had, indeed^ 
plunged him into a penitential mood, though it never shook 
his conviction that he was under exceptional protection from 
above. He received, as he thought, a special intimation of 
the fact. When, under a strong guard, he attended Mass 
in the Chartreuse at Pavia, with heavy heart and head 
bowed on his breast, his eyes fell on these words, engraved 
on the pavement at his feet: "It is good for me that 
I have been in trouble: that I may learn Thy statutes."*' 
Impressionable as usual, he took to fasting. Margaret heard 
of it and wrote off in agitation to say that it would ruin 
his health. He had much better read St. Paul's Epistles, 
which she sent him with her letter. She need not have 
been alarmed. Asceticism was not his strong point. He 
cheered his sackcloth and ashes by more mundane diver- 

1 There had. already been some victims before this: Louise 
de Savoie was the chief instigator of their tortures. But their 
number was comparatively few and the real times of persecution 
came later. 



128 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

sions: letters in rhyme to Mademoiselle d'Heilly, and her 
poetic replies,, full of compliment and sympathy. Then 
there was his family correspondence. "Madame," he wrote 
to his mother, "pour vous faire savoir comment se porte 
le reste de mon infortune, de toutes choses ne m'est demeure 
que Fhonneur, et la vie qui est sauve." Tradition has the 
knack of epigram. This, it is interesting to find, is the 
real version of the famous, "Tout est perdu fors Phonneur." 

Time wore on. There were incessant negotiations between 
him and Spain, whence Charles V watched his opportunity. 
He ended by outwitting his most Christian Brother, Francis, 
and persuaded him that the only means of settlement be- 
tween them lay in a personal interview. Francis, believing 
him, was taken to Spain. He found the interview deferred, 
and his own person indefinitely consigned to a State im- 
prisonment in a castle near Madrid. 

This was a misfortune. But misfortune only spurred 
Margaret on to fresh efforts for her faith. She began a 
second mystic correspondence. This time it was with her 
cousin, Sigismund of Hohenlohe, a warrior-prelate, Luther 's 
follower and Dean of the Chapter of Strasburg. He was 
ambitious, and dreamed of the conversion of France to 
Lutheranism. Having sounded Margaret, he found her a 
ready means to his end and he made the King's captivity 
a pretext for writing to her. The correspondence served 
as a congenial distraction to her grief. The idea of the 
Crusade appealed to her imagination. It was certainly a 
venture which her brother's presence would have prevented, 
and her action against his known views is difficult to un- 
derstand. No doubt she thought she was helping his eternal 



THE MYSTICS OF MEAUX 1S9 

salvation, and this conviction destroyed any scruples she may 
have had. " God is God,"" she wrote to Hohenlohe, " no less 
invisible than incomprehensible; and His victories are so 
spiritual that He is a conqueror when the world fancies He 
is conquered." The victories dreamed of by the Dean of 
Strasburg were not so abstract. He required three thousand 
foot-soldiers to achieve his purpose. Some two years later, 
on the King^s return, Margaret went so far as to beg this 
force for her cousin, on the pretence that he needed it to 
repel Charles V. But the whole affair eventually fell through 
and ended by Hohenlohe^s withdrawal; because, as he po- 
litely put it, he felt that the King would not make him 
welcome in France. 

The defeat at Pa via and its consequences provided another 
Reformer with an occasion to write to Margaret. This was 
no less a person than Erasmus. She was made to suit 
his delicate mind whether as a refined scholar, or a 
typical representative of that Reformation which best em- 
bodied his tastes. When she was at Lyons, he wrote to her 
from Bale. They had never met or corresponded, but her 
admirers had urged him to address her now, amidst this 
tempest of troubles. He had been reluctant scrupulous 
but not for long. 

"Fear and shame 11 (he wrote) "have yielded to the strange 
affection that I bear you. For I have admired and loved 
you this long while because of the many and goodly gifts 
that God has bestowed upon you : the prudence of a philo- 
sopher, purity, moderation, piety, an invincible force of soul 
and a marvellous contempt of all the vanities of the world. 
Who would not admire in a great King^s sister the qualities 

9 



130 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

which are rare in priests and monks? And I would not 
speak of them now, were I not sure of your knowing that 
the merit lies in no way with you, but wholly with God, 
the Dispenser of all good. So with the wish to congratu- 
late rather than . console you, I make this venture. The 
calamity is great, I own it; but nothing in human affairs 
is so terrible that it need cast down a courage truly founded 
on the rock the immovable rock Jesus Christ. If you 
ask me whence I know you, I who have never seen you, 
there are many who know your Highness by your portraits 
without ever having had the happiness of seeing you face to 
face. As for me, many men of excellent parts have painted 
your mind in their letters to me, more faithfully than any 
painter could portray your person with his illusive colours. 
You must not misdoubt my good faith. I praise you because 
I know you, and I do not flatter your power, for I want 
nothing from you except a return of affection. Long have 
I loved the Most Christian King ; or, to speak more truly, I 
have returned his friendship since he it was who first sought 
for mine in divers ways. And a woman, a heroine such as 
you are, I cannot keep from loving in the Lord. I owe to 
the Emperor not only fair deeds, but piety and that for 
more than one reason. First, I am born his subject then 
I have long been his councillor and he has my oath of 
allegiance. Would to God it were the Turks over whom 

he had gained this victory 1 That would have been an 

answer to our most fervent prayers .... Now, however 
magnificent his triumph, I have not been able to congratu- 
late him from the depths of my heart w There follows 

a noble exhortation to trust in God, "the great Workman 



THE MYSTICS OF MEAUX 131 

of secret counsel. Who brings good out of evil." The 
Emperor's genius, the King's skill, will effect much, . . . 
u Best of all," he continues, " I feel certain that they have 
formed between them a bond of friendship, strong as a 
chain of adamant. My hopes are grounded on the letter 
which, just as the King was leaving for Spain, your Highness 
wrote to the illustrious Polish Baron, Jean de Lascar. He 
lives with me and love has made all things common between 
us. In truth, your letter showed, not only a firm courage 
to bear the heavy burden of destiny, but refreshed our 
affectionate anxiety by words of good omen. If this hope 
be fulfilled, we shall wish joy to the Emperor and not 
alone to him, but to all Christendom. 

"I must before I end, ask a twofold pardon from you 
first, for having dared, at my own prompting, to write to 
so powerful a lady; next for having done so impromptu: a 
liberty which even a plebeian hardly permits himself towards 
a friend. But my scruples were chased away by the con- 
fidence that I conceived when I heard the rumours of your 
surpassing kindness. The Lord Jesus keep you in health 
and safety fresh in the full flower of prosperity in Him. 
At Bale; Saint Michael's Eve, 1525." 

The letter from Erasmus and the plottings with Hohenlohe 
came at a time when Margaret was preoccupied with domestic 
tragedy. Her husband, the Due d'Ale^on, had died of a 
broken heart. A keen soldier and the leader of the Vanguard, 
a post of the greatest importance, he had commanded the 
left wing of the army at Pavia; and his unaccountable 
defection there was one of the dire calamities to which the 
loss of the day was ascribed. The right wing, separated 



132 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

from him by the Swiss, took fright. He caught the panic 
and retreated with his men, infecting the Swiss with his 
example and leaving the King unsupported. When his 
master was taken he returned, safe though desperate to 
France, to be hooted in each village he passed through. 
The country folk were all singing "Chansons de Pavie," 
and he must have been pursued, as he rode, by songs such 
as this one: 

Qui vit jamais an monde 
Ung roy si courageux 
De se mettre en bataille; 
Et delaissd de ceulx, 
En qui toute fiance 
Et qui tenait asseur, 
L'ont laisse en souffirance ! 
Wez la le malheur ! l 

To such music he probably entered Lyons. Here his wife 
and mother-in-law met him, and Louise lost no time in 
overwhelming him with reproaches. In this act of the drama, 
she appears in the part of the original mother-in-law of 
French farce. Crushed by shame, the poor creature took to 
his bed whence he never rose again. His sense of guilt 
and humiliation was too much for him. Margaret tended 
him, body and soul, with conscientious devotion ; it was the 
first time that he received much attention from her. When 
the last hour came, two months after his misfortune, she 
was kneeling by his bedside receiving the Sacrament with him. 
Her feeling did not go deep; and it probably jarred 
little upon her when the breath scarcely out of her husband's 

1 Life of Margaret of Angoul&me by Mary Robinson. 



THE MYSTICS OF MEAUX 133 

body Louise offered her in marriage to Charles V. It 
seemed the easiest means of delivering Francis from captivity. 
The Emperor did not even answer the proposal, and Louise, 
now appointed Regent, had recourse to other expedients. 
The crafty Francis sent his ring from prison to Soli man; 
he hoped to free himself by an alliance with the Turks. 
It sounds as if he were enacting one of his favourite Romances 
of Chivalry. No plan seemed too difficult to put into 
execution. He resorted to treachery, and agreed to a settle- 
ment which betrayed Italy and Burgundy into the hands of 
the Emperor. The time before his departure for Spain was 
full of ingenious machinations. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER IX 

Histoire des Choses M^morables : FLEURANGE. 

Lettres de Diane de Poitiers (Introduction): GUIFFRY. 

Histoire de France (Vol. vm) : MARTIIST. 

Histoire de France: DURUY. 

Etudes sur Franois I : PAUHN PARIS. 

La Renaissance: MICHELET. 

Life of Margaret of Angouleme: MARY ROBINSON. 



CHAPTER IX 
( 15041525 ) 

CHARLES DE HONTPEHSIER, THE CONSTABLE OF FRANCE 

THE battle of Pavia was a turning-point in the personal 
life of the King and of Margaret. It proved to be no less 
so to Louise, the third person of the trio. Francis was, 
we have said, the centre of his mother's existence; but 
during one short act of the drama another figure played 
the hero. This was Charles de Montpensier, Duke of Bour- 
bon and Constable of France, whom she loved for a space 
with all the passion of an exclusive nature. It was the 
only love-story of her life; a tissue of hope and hatred, 
which interwound itself strangely with the history of the 
nation. 

The Constable was one of those superb figures of the 
sixteenth century who seem to have been Invented by Shaks- 
peare. He and his kind were a proof that the times the 
poet lived in actually possessed the glorious peers and 
princes, magnificent in their crimes as in their virtues, who 
haunted his vast imagination. When Henry VIII saw the 
Constable on the Field of the Cloth of Gold " If that man 
were lord of mine," he said, "his head should not remain 
two days on his shoulders." He outdid the King in splen- 
dour, and the palace which he made for himself was the most 



186 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

beautiful in Erance. By 1504, he was almost as rich as 
Francis* He had, in that year, married the sickly Suzanne 
only child of Anne de Beaujeu and Pierre II, Duke of 
Bourbon and his territory amounted to a kingdom. 

It was probably about ten years later that he became 
the lover of Louise de Savoie. There is no doubt about 
her feeling; how far his was sincere and how far it was 
assumed, is a matter for speculation ; but they seem to have 
gone as far as the exchange of rings, and actual promises 
of marriage when Suzanne should be no more. It was 
through the influence of Louise that Bourbon was made 
Constable; and ambition, rather than love, was probably 
the ruling power which guided the course of this Renaissance 
Lucifer. He had a right to his restless pride* His mother 
was a Gonzaga, and the blood of generations of Condottieri 
was in his veins. Somewhat later, soon after the King's 
first campaign in Italy, Bourbon was appointed Governor of 
the Milanese district and took up his abode there, Louise, 
desperate at his absence, resolved he should come back and 
intrigued for this end with Madame de Chateaubriand, who 
also desired his return because she wanted his post for her 
brother, Lautrec. They gained their point, bi}t Bourbon, 
furious at his recall, swore he would never forgive Louise. 
In an outburst of rage, he told her that he had never loved 
her that her daughter Margaret was the woman he really 
cared for and wished to marry. On the instant Madame^s 
passion turned to hatred ; she vowed revenge, and each bent 
an inhuman force on the task of destroying the other. 

The King had always regarded the Constable with anxious 
jealousy. He was eager to propitiate him, but there was 




Portrait du Connetable cle Bourbon. 

Cabinet cles Estampes Bibliotheque Nationale ; cl'apres 

un dessin du Musee d'Aix. 



CHARLES DE MONTPENSIER 137 

no love lost between them : little wonder, considering the 
rumour that Bourbon had preceded him in the heart of 
Madame de Chateaubriand. "Plus gris que vieux" "grey 
with experience not with age" so the King wrote on the 
portrait of the Constable in Madame de Boisy^s Album. The 
sympathy between these two Kings, the crowned and the 
uncrowned, was not increased by the campaign of 1521 : 
the campaign which culminated in the secret League of the 
Emperor, the Pope, and Henry VIII against France; and 
in the conduct of which Bourbon showed towards his sov- 
ereign a proud and impatient temper. Francis knew how 
to retaliate. During his expedition to Hainault, he gave 
to the Duke of Alencon the command of the Vanguard 
a post which by rights belonged to the Constable of France 
and contrived to dishonour him in minor ways, not one of 
which was lost upon Bourbon. 

In the same year of '21, Suzanne de Bourbon died. The 
Constable wasted little time in beginning fruitless negotia- 
tions for the hand of Princess Renee, Queen Claude's sister, 
a match which would have served his ambition. At this 
moment, Louise de Savoie asked the King to give her the 
Constable in marriage. Francis sent a Lord to apprise Bour- 
bon of his will. An old Chronicler describes the scene. 
"When the Duke heard these tidings, for a long time he 
spake no word, but stood looking at the noble messenger, 
his brother-in-arms, and at length he said to him: <Is it 
an act worthy of our friendship to bring me the offer of 
such a woman . . . the dread of all nations ? . , . I would not 
dp this thing no, not for all the riches of Christendom.'' * 
When the King told Louise of his answer, "she, like a 



188 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

woman bereft of her senses, began to tear her hair, saying 
that she had been a madwoman thus to abandon herself in 
order to receive such an answer. 4 The matter shall not 
rest here/ quoth she in her rage; *for by the Creator of 
souls, his words shall cost him dear. My son, I will not 
own you, I will condemn you as a coward King, if you do 
not avenge me." " 

The King, with his usual good sense, replied that the 
hour had not yet come that the Emperor was going to 
Rome for Easter that he meant to cut short Charles' 
imperial journey and, for this end, the Constable^ help 
was necessary. "Bear with me, mother," he concluded. 
"When the time is ripe I shall know how to reckon 
with him." 

Louise could not now have withdrawn, even, had she 
wished it. The game between her and Bourbon became 
more acute and events helped their designs. The King and 
his unscrupulous Minister, Duprat at the end of their re- 
sources were busy concocting illegitimate schemes of taxa- 
tion for getting enough money to carry on the war in Italy. 
At this moment (15S2) Lautrec lost the Milanese possessions 
and returned to France. When the King reproached him, 
he coolly replied that Francis alone was at fault for not 
sending him Lautrec the sums he had demanded for 
paying the discontented army. The King, amazed, declared 
that he had instantly despatched a sum through the Trea- 
surer, Jacques de Semblan^ay. 

Semblan^ay was summoned; he remembered the incident, 
but said that Louise de Savoie had told him to give her 
the sum for her own use. Bourbon allied himself with 



CHARLES DE MONTPENSIER 189 

I^autrec in trying to expose her. Francis, infuriated, sent 
for her and asked her to account for what had happened. 
It was not so much from avarice that Louise had taken the 
money as from a spiteful desire to injure Lautrec, who had 
had the indiscretion to denounce her way of life ; and now, 
when she was accused, she lied brilliantly. She asserted that 
Semblaneay had slandered her and that the money he had 
given her was not the King's, but a fund of her own 
which she had entrusted to his care. Suspicion enveloped 
Semblaneay; he was ordered to bring his accounts and a 
special Commission was appointed to look into the matter. 
Duprat and Louise were active in their plots against him ; 
but the disasters of 1525 intervened and diverted their 
attention from the affair. Louise, however, never forgot. 

In I57, after the King^s return from captivity, the case 
was reopened. Semblaneay was again summoned ; underwent 
a mock trial ; was condemned for corruption, and was executed 
one of the few honest men whom the King could boast 
as his servants. 

Meanwhile the first part of the episode was remembered 
as a fresh score against the Constable. The Queen-Mother 
now gave vent to her long-smouldering schemes of revenge. 
When Suzanne de Bourbon died, she had bequeathed all 
her lands a large portion of the Kingdom to her husband. 
Louis XI had left them to her mother, Anne de Beaujen, 
under condition that if she died without a male heir they 
should go to the Crown. But Louis XII had annulled 
this edict by another which enabled Suzanne to dispose of 
her property as she willed. Louise worked indefatigably till 
this second Act was also annulled, and then she entered the 



140 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

lists as heir to the Bourbon dominions. She based her claim on 
the fact that she was Suzanne's first cousin, whereas the Con- 
stabled kinship was more distant. The lawsuit ended in a ver- 
dict which gave the lands to the Crown. The King presented 
them to his mother thus ruining Bourbon, who soon after lost 
other territories left him by Anne de Bretagne. He appealed 
against the decision of the Judges, and a Commission was 
instituted to go down to the disputed province of the 
Bourbonnais and enquire into the business. The Commissioners, 
refusing to be responsible, referred the matter to the Parlement. 
But the Constable was prudent as well as impetuous. He 
knew how to make friends with the children of unrighteous- 
ness. As early as 1521 he began his plottings with the 
Emperor; in "22, they took more definite form; and in "28, 
at Bourg-en-Bresse, he made a formal pact with Charles V. 
Bourbon swore to serve him against all his enemies, in return 
for a large sum of money, a leading position in the army, 
and one of the Emperor's sisters, Eleonora or Catherine, in 
marriage. Charles V was to invade France with his ally, 
Henry VIII, and Bourbon was to have a free hand with 
the English troops. At first he refused the condition imposed 
by Henry, that, when the war ended in the Allies* partition 
of the French Kingdom, the Constable should acknowledge 
the English monarch as King both of England and France ; 
but he acceded later, on the promise of the whole of Provence. 
He was also to regain the Bourbonnais. With overweening, 
pride, he refused the Emperor's offer of the Order of the 
Golden Fleece. It is difficult to detect the goal for which 
his giant daring was making. It was probably nothing less 
than the throne of France. 



CHARLES DE MONTPENSIER 141 

He made use of his present opportunities by going to 
England (where Henry VIII received him well) and after- 
wards to Spain to arrange the marriage, which never came 
off, with Eleonora of Portugal. Sir Thomas Boleyn, Anne 
Boleynk father, then Ambassador at Madrid, writes in praise 
of him to Wolsey. u The Constable" (he says) "has, according 
to his own showing, the noblest motives for his desertion 
of his country, which is purely owing to the badness of the 
King, the current abuses, and Bourbon's earnest desire to 
relieve and reform the people." From Spain he proceeded 
to Paris to look after the lawsuit, now in the hands of the 
Parlement. Whilst there he visited Queen Claude. The 
King came in and said, "It is true, I suppose, that you 
are going* to be married?"" "No, Sire," replied Bourbon. 
"But I know that you are I am sure of it. I know all 
your traffic with the Emperor. You had best remember 
what I am saying." "Sire, you threaten me; I have not 
deserved to be treated in this manner." Whereupon he 
(the Duke) left the room, followed by all the nobles in 
attendance on the Queen. Perhaps nothing can give a truer 
measure of his power in the land than this behaviour^ at a 
moment when his fortunes seemed sinking. Nothing, either, 
can convey a better notion of Francis 1 density when his 
vanity and his prestige were concerned. Once these were 
affected, he became both merciless and blind, however great 
the danger that stared him in the face. 

The invasion was now fully organised the position of 
each army defined. Francis, at last discomfited by the 
rumours abroad, tried at the eleventh hour to propitiate 
the Constable by offering him the Lieutenant-Generalship 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

of the Kingdom, under the Regency of Louise, while he 
himself was with the troops in Italy. Growing uneasier, 
he resolved to interview him and try what he should have 
tried at first generosity and forgiveness. He saw him at 
Moulins and told him that all should be forgotten, although 
he was fully aware of his deeds of disloyalty. Bourbon 
denied them; he said that Charles V had made him offers 
which he had refused; that he had only waited to inform 
the King until he should see him in person. He agreed to 
accompany Francis to Lyons, en route for Italy; but when 
the hour of departure came, he feigned illness and said that 
he would join him later. When at last he pretended to 
start, he branched off on the road and took refuge in his 
Castle of Chantelles, on the confines of the Bourbonnais. 
The King had, in the interim, learned all the details of the 
conspiracy and the names of the numerous nobles implicated 
in it. The discovery was made through a priest, to whom 
it had been confided under seal of confession by two of 
those who were involved. An order went out for the arrest 
of the Constable, who fled, disguised as a valet, to the 
mountains of Auvergne. The plans for the Allies' invasion 
were, for the moment, at an end. 

We have now to glance at the events which led up to 
the battle of Pavia. Francis had no easy position, with 
England, Germany and Spain all arrayed against him. In 
1523, Bonnivet conducted the war in Italy, where the 
fortunes of France were waning; and, early In the next 
year, the Constable appeared there with the Imperial forces. 
Not long after, the veteran Bayard first saved the French 
army at Gattinara, and then mortally wounded kissing 



CHARLES DE MONTPENSIEH 148 

the cross of his sword-hilt, he lay down under a tree to 
die. Bourbon came to look on him and offered his tribute 
of praise sternly rejected by Bayard, whose last words 
were a rebuke to the traitor. There followed to the spot 
all the greatest nobles of the Imperial host, who stood 
with tears running down their cheeks and watched the 
death of their foe : the Chevalier " sans peur et sans reproche." 

The conquest of Provence, in 1524, under Bourbon and 
his colleagues, had been the sequel of the Imperialists" 1 suc- 
cesses in Italy; after which, against the Constable's advice, 
they proceeded to besiege Marseilles. The defence was gal- 
lant and much helped by "Le Rempart des Dames/"' made 
by the ladies of Marseilles. The King sent efficient rein- 
forcements and the town was saved : to the great discom- 
fiture of Bourbon and his troops. That autumn the King 
and his soldiers left France for Italy, and the four-months" 
siege of Pavia was begun. They were four months of 
degeneration ; for Francis, as usual, mingled love with war 
and caprice with reality. The result was the battle of 
Pavia and his imprisonment, in 1525. 

The news of the calamity spread dismay through France. 
In Paris, schoolmasters were ordered to forbid their school 
children to play at being King, or to sing " Vive la France 
ne son Alliance," in the streets. Disaffection was in the 
air. A band of men, on mules in green cloth hoods, rode 
through the city "and in their hands they held a scroll 
from which they recited divers joyous words," as if they 
were about to hold some sport ; but it was merely a device 
to spread abroad a false report of the King's death. The 
Regent tried in vain to prosecute them they escaped her 



144 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

vigilance. She, meanwhile, was laid low with pleurisy, " which 
(a contemporary notes) "came upon her from rage because 
of the war and all the troubles the King had suffered in 
his Kingdom." The battle was a terrible blow to the good 
fame of the nation and a rude shock to the King^s fantastic 
dream of Italian conquest. From the days of Charles VIII, 
it had been a voluptuous vision a ruinous mirage for France. 
But Francis' infatuation was not to end with his defeat. 
He had thrown away untold gold upon the Siren: he was 
fated to throw away still more. The lives that perished on 
the field of Pavia were not the last that were given to the 
aerial cause of Italy. And yet they should have sufficed. 
La Palisse, La Tremouille, Bonnivet, all lay dead there. 
It is said that when Bourbon found the corpse of Bonnivet 
his rival in love for Margaret as well as in magnificence 
of state he was filled with triumphant joy. Mercy was 
not his strong point. 

There were songs enough to commemorate the dead heroes ; 
they were sung on the roads and in the streets. They 
remain like the echo of a dirge. 



La Palice est 
II est mortj devant Pavie; 
HelaSj s'il n'etait pas raort 
II serait encore en vie. 

Quand le roi partit de France 
A la malheur il partit^ 
II en partit le dimanche 
Et le Lundi il fat pris. l 

1 Life of Margaret of AngQulme by Mary Robinson. 



CHARLES DE MONTPENSIER 145 

On the evening after the fight, the Constable went to 
pay the King his respects. Francis was sitting downcast in 
his tent when Bourbon entered. An eye-witness has told us 
that, when King and Duke stood face to face, both practised 
remarkable self-restraint. Francis showed no wounded pride, 
the Constable no galling commiseration. Bourbon's desire 
for revenge did not go the length of conniving at the King^s 
removal to Spain. Neither he nor his fellow-general, Pesehiera, 
knew anything about it. The journey was managed secretly, 
in the summer, by Lannoy, the Emperor's right-hand man. 
Louise, as we know, had all this time been busy with negoti- 
ations for his release, but manifold difficulties arose about 
an agreement. The main stumbling-blocks were the Emperor's 
desire for Burgundy and the final apportionment of Italy. 
So impeding was distance and so slippery the character of 
Charles V, that no arrangement seemed possible without 
the presence of a trusty delegate in Spain. Who so trusty, 
who so faithful and clear-headed as the King^s sister? As 
usual she played a sacrificial part. Her mother decided she 
should go, and she went with a courageous spirit. 

There were countless difficulties; protracted dallyings. 
The Emperor had no great wish for her. He promised her 
a safe-conduct, and waited for weeks before he sent it. 
Every hour was important to her. When the document 
arrived in September, she set out at once. Two Bishops 
accompanied her, so did the President of the Parlementu 
The hardships she endured in the burning heat would have 
been severe for a man, but her love for her brother carried 
her gaily through the ordeal. She wrote to him while her 
mules were resting rather over-long verses, full of ornate 



146 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

encouragement full of anything but herself. She hardly 
halted for food or sleep. Her long journey through Castile, 
in a litter, took her little more than a fortnight. When at 
last she reached her goal she was half dead with fatigue. 
But her hopes were high when she entered Madrid, and she 
lost no time in beginning her campaign of diplomacy. 



THE SPANISH CAPTIVITY 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER X 

Lettres de Marguerite d'Angoule'me. 

Nouvelle Lettres de Marguerite d'Angouleme. 

Dames Illustres: BRANTOME. 

Dames Illustres: HILARION DE LA COSTE. 

Marguerite de Valois: La COMTESSE D'HAUSSONVILLE. 

Biographical Preface to Lettres de Marguerite d'Angoul6me: 



Conferences sur Marguerite d' Angouleme : LURO. 

Margaret of Angouleme: MARY ROBINSON. 

Biographical Preface to Les Marguerites de la Princesse des 

Marguerites ; FRANCK. 
Les Femmes des Valois: ST. AMAND. 
Histoire de France (Vol. vm) : HENRI MARTIN. 
La Renaissance: MICHELET. 
Histoire de France: DURUY. 



CHAPTER X 
( 15251531 ) 

THE SPANISH CAPTIVITY 

FRANCIS I was lodged by the Emperor in the high tower 
of the Castle of Madrid. On his arrival in Spain, his good 
looks had created a sensation. When the Donna Ximena, 
one of the greatest Spanish ladies, saw him, she swore to 
many none other; and when he left her country, she dis- 
consolately retired to a convent. This kind of devotion was 
of no use to the captive. He tried more effective measures, 
and rumour went so far as to say that he offered his sisters 
hand as a bribe to the Constable. Rumour was probably 
untrue, but the Duke's attachment to Margaret seems to 
have been well known. When Charles V asked for her in 
marriage as a main article of his treaty with France, he 
casually remarked that Bourbon could find a wife elsewhere 
and promised him Milan in compensation. l The King 
accomplished nothing by his manoeuvres; he remained 
languishing in his tower, spending his time in reading 
his favourite romance, "Amadis of Gaul", in turn with 
St. PauTs Epistles. Charles V had resolved to reduce him 
to terms by a course of slow asphyxiation. The result was 

1 Wives and provinces were alike staple commodities of State 
traffic. 



150 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

dangerous. The dulness, the want of air and exercise, told 
on his constitution, and he sank into a lethargy which soon 
became alarming. The doctors said he would die unless 
some hope were given him. So great was the impression he 
had produced on the people, that the churches were full to 
overflowing, and they prayed for his recovery as if he were 
an Infant or Infanta. The Emperor dared not take the 
responsibility of his death ; he visited him in prison and tried 
the effect of a few cheering falsehoods about the future. 
But it was rather like the meeting of the fox and the crane, 
and the French King^s condition remained the same. 

This was the day before Margaret's arrival at Madrid. 
Charles V went to meet her at the Gate Alcazar. She 
was dressed in "black velvet without jewel or ornament, 
and a long white veil flowed over her shoulders." She 
curtseyed with dignity and grace; he kissed her on the 
brow. The accounts of her brother frightened her and she 
hastened to his bedside. He was unconscious at the last ; 
extremity. The Bishop d'Embrun prepared to celebrate 
the Mass at his bedside. An altar was erected in his room, 
and all his French comrades, together with his sister and 
the servants, knelt side by side before it. At the Elevation, 
the Bishop exhorted the King to lift his eyes upon the Host. 
Francis awoke from his torpor and obeyed, raising his folded 
hands towards it. At his own request, the Sacrament was 
administered to him. "This is my God; He will cure me, 
body and soul," he exclaimed. Somebody objected that he 
would not be able to swallow the sacred bread. "Oh, but 
I shall," he said; and from that hour he began steadily to 
recover. 



THE SPANISH CAPTIVITY 151 

His sister's coming had given him fresh life, but it was 
to be expected that she and her orthodox suite should look 
upon his cure as a miracle wrought by the Host. Until 
his health was assured* she let business stand aside and de- 
voted herself to his service, writing for hours at his dicta- 
tion state letters, business letters, love letters, probably, also. 
She "helped very much to make him well, 1 "* says Brantome, 
"for she knew his constitution and his temperament better 
than the doctors who were attending him." His convales- 
cence was a gay one; all the grand ladies of Spain paid 
him visits : and, foremost amongst them, the Emperor's sister, 
Eleanor, widow of the King of Portugal Her marriage 
with the French monarch had, from the first, been one of 
the main articles of the treaty with Charles, much to the 
disgust of the Constable, who had till then been sure of his 
bride. The business-like Emperor took his sister of Portugal 
"the merriest lady ever seen*" to dance a Sarabande 
before Francis in his tower, by way of showing off her charms 
to the languid connoisseur. Margaret resolved to win her 
friendship no very difficult task. We soon hear of them 
together, practising all the good old feminine fashions. 
"Elles se mirent a brasser^ and Margaret went to stay 
with her. She achieved more by her visit than by twelve 
months of public diplomacy. 

As soon as the King was well enough she left him to set 
about her mission. She plied him with letters and details 
which time has by now made tedious. He was wise to leave 
all to her finesse. When he and the Emperor were left to 
each other, they could not get on. Margaret once told the 
Venetian Ambassador, Giustiniani, that her brother and 



152 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Charles " would never agree unless God re-created one of 
them in the mould of the other."" Perhaps it required a 
woman to gauge the Reynard Emperor, and she certainly proved 
a better match for him than Francis. How far she would 
have been a stateswoman if she had not had personal 
motives, is an interesting theme for speculation; her love 
for her brother was always there to shape her policy. He 
had leaned upon her judgment from the first. At home 
she had taken part in all the Councils of the kingdom. 
Ambassadors l lost themselves in admiration of her parts 
and even enlarged upon them in their despatches. 

There began between her and Charles a duel, which looked 
like a Court game and was really a mortal combat. His 
courtesy was impenetrable his propriety immaculate. He 
met her by appointment at Toledo, led her by the hand to 
the palace prepared for her, and "me tint (so she writes) 
fort bons et honnetes propos." They talked for three hours 
daily in their marble boudoirs, and the discussion always 
ended with compliments and promises. She knew very well 
that, if she trusted to his words, their conversations might 
go on for ever: if she was to win, it must be by strategy. 
With impetuous courage, she set about planning the King's 
escape. There was a stage plot in which Francis was to 
escape as a negro page. Like all stage plots it was dis- 
covered, and Charles, who had nearly been outwitted, loved 
Margaret none the better for it. "She is," he sourly said, 
"more of a prodigy than a woman." Her gentleness of 
manner in their interviews had thoroughly deceived him. 

1 Dandolo and Giustiniani 



SPANISH CAPTIVITY ' 158 

He resolved, in revenge, to cheat her about her safe-conduct 
home, and to keep her as a hostage till he should have 
forced Burgundy from Louise. With this end, he added a 
clause to the passport : a She may pass (it ran) provided she 
has done nothing against the Emperor, or against the safety 
of the nation." At the end of her patience with his pre- 
varications, she at last broke out on him with such elo- 
quence that he for some time mended his policy. The next 
step she took an unwonted one was to appear before the 
great Council presided over by the Viceroy. She treated 
them with regal candour and informed them " that they had 
little honour and a great deal of bad will amongst them." 
The President says (she writes) u that he thinks I should go 
of my own accord to the Emperor, but I let him know that 
I had never yet stirred from my lodgings without being 
summoned; and when it pleases the Emperor to send for 
me again, he will find me," Soon after this she produced 
her scheme for a Treaty. She gave the Emperor the Duchies 
of Genoa and Milan ; and offered him Burgundy for a stated 
time only. He rejected each clause in turn and continued 
his game of shilly-shally. Margaret posted to and fro 
between Toledo and Madrid, and went to Alcala and Guada- 
laxara, seeking to make many friends. She won love on all 
sides; the Spaniards were at her feet. They tried to keep 
her amongst them by constant parties in her honour. The 
ladies took to imitating her dress, her manners, even her 
way of speaking. She found her chief allies in the family 
of the Duke of Infantado, who was friendly to the King 
and the father of the exalted lady who became a nun for 
his sake. But the Duke was summarily informed that if he 



154 THE RENAISSANCE 

wished to keep the Emperor's favour, neither he nor his 
must speak another word with Margaret of Angouleme. 
"At all events," writes the Princess, "women are not 
forbidden me and I shall make up by talking double 
to them." 

Convinced that she could effect nothing more by her 
presence, she resolved to leave her business still unsettled 
and to reach Bayonne by Christmas. But before she started, 
she and her brother made one more effort in their cause and 
tried a little further strategy. Francis resolved to abdicate 
the throne in favour of the Dauphin under the Regency 
of Louise, He would then be no royal captive, but an 
ordinary prisoner, bound by none of his former promises; 
and the French might make war upon Charles if they liked. 
The word of a prisoner, he said^ tied him to nothing. So 
he laughed in his sleeve and pretended to accept the Em- 
peror's conditions. He even went through a private mar- 
riage with Eleanor in his tower, although they were separated 
directly the ceremony was over. It was all-important that 
Charles should not see the Act of Abdication before Margaret 
had arrived in France. She was to have carried it with her, 
but there was some delay and she started without it. While 
she was on her journey, she received a sudden warning that 
a copy of the document had come into the hands of Charles V 
and that he intended to detain her. Legend says that the 
news reached her through the newly arrived Constable, as a 
last proof of his devotion ; but however that may be, she lost 
no time in her use of the information. Her safe-conduct 
expired at the end of a given period, but she never dreamed 
the Emperor would cavil about times and seasons, and she 



CAPTIVITY 155 

had meant to travel at her leisure. This was no longer safe. 
If Charles V wanted to seize her, he had a right to do so 
were she found in his Empire a moment after the allotted 
date. She was still a fortnight's journey from the frontier, 
and her passport lasted for only half that time. If her 
strength held out, it was just possible for her to reach 
France before it was too late. Her spirit was up. She set 
off on the instant ; accomplished in a single day the journey 
of four; and reached the frontier in one week instead of 
two, an hour before the expiration of her term. The 
Emperor was successfully checkmated; he had not taken 
his Queen, and the Queen did not easily forgive Ms 
behaviour. Years afterwards, when he was passing through 
Paris to the Low Countries and making a stay with Francis, 
Margaret, finding herself one evening seated at table between 
them, maliciously reminded Charles of his famous safe-conduct 
and was able to enjoy his embarrassment. 

His cunning, and his bad faith to his prisoner made him 
so universally unpopular that, after Margaret's return, he 
found it advisable to change his course. All the Powers of 
Europe took up the question; the great Scholars agitated 
for the King's release; and Erasmus was not the only man 
of letters who wrote to the Emperor demanding it. The 
abdication had come to nothing, but at last Francis' cousin, 
Montmorency, was able to conclude negotiations, Francis 
was set free, on condition that he ratified the inglorious 
Treaty at the first French town he reached. It gave up 
Burgundy besides the King's Italian territories, and pro- 
mised the two little princes as hostages to Spain not to 
speak of numerous minor concessions. Lannoy conducted 



156 THE RENAISSANCE 

the King to the frontier, and there he put him Into the 
returning boat which had just brought his hostage sons, 
with Lautrec as their guardian. The exchange of himself 
for his boys does not seem to have affected his easy-going 
heart. As he leaped from the boat and his foot again 
touched French soil "In one moment I have become a 
King," he shouted, and mounting the horse that was ready 
for him, he galloped to Bayonne. Here he was expected 
by Louise and her Court, with Mademoiselle d'Heilly in 
attendance; and he gave himself up to festivity. L^nnoy, 
his Spanish escort, dared to remind him of the Treaty, but 
Francis put him off by feasting him, and said that he was only 
waiting for a deputation from Burgundy, When the deput- 
ation arrived, it would not allow the Duchy to be given up 
to Spain. Francis did not stick at trifles. He altered the 
Imperial Treaty and sent Lannoy back with a refusal to 
yield Burgundy, The Emperor, angry at being cheated, 
accused the most Christian Monarch of cowardice; but the 
French King was backed by a new alliance with the English, 
made through the influence of Wolsey. The Cardinal had 
had a difference with the Emperor and was at that moment 
well disposed to the French. 

It was not long after this that Henry VIII began think- 
ing of the divorce from Catherine of Aragon a project 
which made him hostile to her nephew, Charles V, and 
anxious for alliance with France. Serious plans were set 
on foot for his marriage with Margaret of Angouleme. The 
Bishop of Tarbes went to England about it, and Wolsey 
desired its completion. " There is a woman in France who 
Is above all other women, 1 ' he said to Henry, "none other 



THE CAPTIVITY 157 

is so worthy of your hand"" and he added her portrait to 
his persuasions. Margaret was a long time unconscious of 
the scheme, but when she heard of it she rejected it with 
pride. "Never speak to me again of a marriage which 
would take away the life and happiness of Catherine of 
Aragon," she said, and, for the second time, the match with 
the English King was dropped. 

Charles V was taking his own course and, ii we are to 
follow the fortunes of Francis and his sister, some slight 
outline of the war becomes necessary. The Emperor had 
lost no time in asserting himself in Italy, and had sent his 
generals and his army to crush Milan with their cruelty. 
The groaning people under their weak leader, the Duke of 
Urbino, had not the heart for an organised resistance till 
Bourbon appeared upon the scene. He had been chafing at 
his enforced inactivity, and now (1526) he arrived on his 
own account with his private troops: nominally on behalf 
of Charles. Secretly, however, he had vowed to desert him 
as soon as he had wrested to himself the promised Duchy 
of Milan. The Milanese saw in him a welcome deliverer 
and prayed him to save them from their oppressors. He 
swore he would do it, or die; obtained a large sum of 
money ; attempted to fulfil his promise and failed signally. 
The impoverished Milanese were obliged to give in, while 
the Constable pursued his usual policy of avoiding Nemesis. 
He left them for Germany, where he saw fresh chances for 
himself. 

State-craft embodied in the First Diet of Worms had 
at this moment obliged Charles to pursue the line of 
religious tolerance; and the Lutheran Princes had, in con- 



158 RENAISSANCE 

sequence, grown friendly to him. Bourbon had not much 
trouble in persuading some of them to join him, as Charles" 
representative, in a raid upon Italy and Catholicism ; though 
the Emperor afterwards declared that he knew nothing of 
the plan. Bourbon promised the Germans untold wealth if 
they came with him. He himself, he said, "was but a 
penniless horseman, no richer than they were, not by one 
farthing." He created enthusiasm by distributing all his 
plate and jewels amongst them, and only kept for himself 
his clothes and a coat of cloth of silver. 

In 1527, he started for Rome. He was soon the leader 
of a motley army, consisting indifferently of French lords, 
polyglot outlaws, Italian bandits, and German soldiers. His 
principal colleague was the Lutheran Baron, Freundsberg, 
who carried a gold chain in his pocket with which he meant 
himself to hang the Pope. Clement VII, when he heard 
of their approach, fled into his fortified castle of St. Angelo, 
and they reached the .Roman ramparts in safety. It was 
Bourbon who planted the first ladder against the walls and 
scaled it in front of all the rest. "Silence k vous, Cesar, 
Annibal et Scipion vive la gloire de Bourbon !" cried his 
soldiers, as he mounted. But even as he did so, a bullet 
hit him and he fell back into the trench, mortally wounded. 
Benvenuto Cellini, the great braggart of autobiography, tells 
us that it was he who took aim and fired the fatal shot; 
but considering the multitude of his lies, there is no reason 
to believe him. Whoever dealt the blow, it killed the 
Constable and put an end to the vital force which gave 
impetus to his army. He might have been able to restrain 
his men from the hideous cruelty which disfigured the famous 



SPANISH CAPTIVITY 139 

sack of Rome ; and might, perhaps, have opposed the policy 
which kept the Pope for six months a captive in his castle. 
Francis I and Henry VIII declared themselves Clement^ 
allies and condemned his imprisonment; Francis even went 
HO far as to challenge Charles to a single-handed duel on 
account of it. But the Pope's freedom was finally gained 
"by his own ignoble bargain with the Emperor, who laid all 
the blame of the affair on Bourbon. He himself, he declared, 
had had nothing to do with it. 

After the sack of Rome., and all through 1528, Lautrec 
and his army performed wonders and regained the lost 
territories of France. They crowned their victories in the 
North by taking Naples. Francis might have established 
his dominion in Italy, had it not been for his density. He 
had no faculty for the measurement of issues and never knew 
where to yield. This defect was emphasized by the puerile 
impetuosity which often made him begin an enterprise with 
fire and throw it over when he tired of it. It was these 
faults which detracted from his political importance and 
prevented him from being a real force in history. They 
found a strong foil in the Emperor's dogged persistence 
which lent weight to his despotism and left its stamp upon 
his age. 

With petty tyranny, Francis refused the passionate entreaty 
of the Genoese for self-government and took measures to 
rain the commerce of Genoa. Stung by these affronts, the 
great Admiral, Andrea Doria who, with his fleet, had 
hitherto fought for the French avenged himself by going 
over to the Emperor, and thus turned the scale of naval 
power in his favour. Disaster for France ensued and, little 



160 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

by little, she once more lost all her Italian territories. 
The last blow came when Francis' pseudo-ally, the Pope, 
made a solemn "Pact of peace and eternal alliance" 1 ' with 
the Emperor a move which decided the game. 

Francis** one wish was now for peace, but Charles was 
not ready. It was the Turks who finally forced him into 
it. They had invaded Hungary and deposed its monarch, 
who was his brother-in-law. The Archduke Ferdinand 
lost no time in urging his claim to the throne. But 
they set up an opposition King, a Hungarian, and marched 
to the walls of Vienna to support their claimant against 
Austria 

Not the Emperor, but the women on either side, saw 
that a trace between France and Spain was the only 
safeguard for Europe. Margaret of Austria and Louise de 
Savoie met, in 15S9, in full splendour at Cambrai, where 
Wolsey also arrived to hold counsel with them. The result 
was the Ladies' Peace, the famous Treaty of Cambrai, It 
was to be ratified by a public marriage between the French 
King and Eleanor of Portugal. Charles gained all his 
desires save Burgundy; Francis ceded every right, present 
and future, in Italy. The rapacious Charles also got a good 
many prizes in the Netherlands, and a huge sum for the 
ransom of the royal hostages. 

The only excuse for Francis' baseness to his country was 
his anxiety for his sons. It had been slow to wake, but 
now he was really alarmed. Charles had separated them 
from their French attendants and was cruelly neglecting 
them. The children were sent back with Eleanor of Por- 
tugal and welcomed in state at Bayonne. There was any 



CAPTIVITY 181 

amount of speech-making. Marot, Margaret, and Louise 
wrote stilted verses on the event ; princes, poets, and states- 
men thronged to greet them. Francis celebrated his marriage 
with Eleanor, and national disgrace was eclipsed by family 
rejoicing. But, for all that, Francis kept an abiding sense 
of his humiliation and could never bear to look at anything 
that recalled his captivity. " He hates the sight of a Spanish 
dress as if it were the Devil ... I entreat yon to remove 
every single Imperialist from the Court" so wrote his 
Ambassador six years later to Montmorency. Perhaps his 
merry wife reminded him too strongly of Madrid. They 
had, it seems, pleasant relations, but she was not of much 
importance to him, and he spent his time with Mademoiselle 
d'Heilly. He had married her, for appearance" sake, to a 
respectable French noble. She was soon to become the 
Duchesse d'Etampes, the real Queen of France.. 

The reception of the hostages was the last festival at 
which Louise was present. She had carried through her 
task as Regent, if not nobly, at least with a strong hand 
and an astute eye. She felt that she had re-purchased the 
Deity's interest in hei; son by lighting the fires of persecution. 
Her plots and counterplots had, in minor ways, established 
his prosperity, and she never saw its decline. She lived, 
too, to see her widowed daughter married to the King of 
Navarre and to feel that she was suitably provided for. 
That was in 1527. The end came in 1581. A comet had 
appeared, much to the excitement of the Court, who looked 
upon celestial phenomena as connected with royal destinies. 
Louise de Savoie had always been a lover of astrology. 
She lingered late one evening to watch the meteor, and 

ii 



162 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

caught a chill which proved fatal. She died on September 
nd> with her son's name on her lips; and left behind in 
her coffers the astonishing sum of 1,500,000 gold coins 
enough to account for all the Seniblancay affair. Her children 
were probably the only mourners who really sorrowed for 
her loss. 




Eleanore d'Autriche, Reine cle Francois I. 

(Portraits des Personnage.s fran^ais les plus illustres du 

XVIieme siecle, avec Notices par P. G. J. Niel). 



F,ip. 162. 



QUEEN OF NAVARRE 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER XI 

Lettres de Marguerite d'Angoulme. 

Nouvelle Lettres de Marguerite d'Angouleme. 

L'Heptameron: MARGUERITE D'ANGOULEME. 

Les Marguerites de !a Princesse des Marguerites : MARGUERITE 

D'ANGOULEME. 
Oraison Funebre sur Marguerite d'Angoul^me: CHARLES DE 

SAINTE-MARTHE. 

Recit d'un Bourgeois de Paris ; edited by LALANNE. 
Histoire de Beam et de Foix: OLHAGARAY. 
CEuvres de Brant6me, Vol. VIL 
Dames Illustres: BRANTOME. 
Dames Illustres: HILARION DE LA COSTE. 
Livre d'Etat de Marguerite d'Angouleme: LE COMTE DE LA 

FERRI^RE. 

Marguerite de Valois: LA COMTESSE D'HAUSSONVILLE. 
Conferences sur Marguerite d'AngouMme: Lutto. 
Les Femmes des Valois: SAINT- AMAND. 
Biographical Preface to Lettres de Marguerite d J AngouMme : 

GENIN. 
Biographical Preface to Les Marguerites de la Princesse, etc. : 

FRANCK. 

Life of Margaret of Angouleme : MARY ROBINSON. 
Jeanne d'Albret: Miss FREER. 
Le Chateau de Pau: LAGIEZE. 
Dictionnaire Historique: BAYLE. 
Caracteres et Portraits: FEUGRE. 
Histoire de France (Vol. vm): MARTIN. 
La Renaissance: J 

T T>A* ( MlCHELET. 

La Reforme: 1 



CHAPTER XI 
( 15271540 ) 

THE QFEEN OF NAVARRE 



MARGARET of Angouleme and Alencon now changed her 
title and became the Queen of Navarre. It was a position 
of finer sound than substance 5 for Navarre had become a 
tributary kingdom^ dependent on Spain. In the preceding 
generation it had stood by itself, but Henrfs father, Jean* 
or Juan, d'Albret, had lost the freedom of his realm. 
" Don Juan," said his strong-minded wife, Catherine de Foix, 
"if we had been bom, you Catherine, I Don Juan, we 
should never have lost the kingdom of Navarre. 7 * Margaret 
brought her husband the Duchy of Alenc;on and the province 
of Bern, which the King had given her on her first marriage ; 
and, soon after her second, he bestowed upon Henri the 
governorship of Giaienne. But the dowry she most valued 
was her brother's sacred promise to win back Navarre and 
restore its independence a promise he never meant to fulfil, 
and which proved the cause of Margaret's first disenchant- 
ment about him. Happily she never knew the worst: his 
secret despatch to the Emperor, begging him not to help 
Henri to re-conquer his kingdom, "even though he hath 
taken to wife my dearly beloved and only sister. 1 "" It did 
not suit his interests to have another King for a neighbour. 



166 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

She first met her second husband at Queen Claude's funeral 
and straightway fell in love with him. It was perhaps a 
superficial love and her passion for her brother was still 
paramount in her heart, but she was dazzled by Henri 
d'Albret. "I have only seen one man in France, and that 
man is the King of Navarre," said Charles V, who was not 
easily impressed. -Such a hero was bound to be taken 
prisoner at Pavia, and he only escaped a worse fate by 
pretending to be ill and getting away in his servant's clothes. 
Margaret easily succumbed to this young Olympian. It was, 
to all appearances, a risky match. She was his elder by 
eleven years, he being twenty-four and she thirty-five at 
their marriage, in 1527. She had more than the philosophy 
of her age, he more than the impressionableness of his. 
His veins were full of Southern blood, and yet, with all 
the fire of a Spaniard, he possessed the airy lightness of a 
Frenchman. He was born to make a woman unhappy; 
for his mind was finer than his character : fine enough to 
encourage hopes of his reformation. He shared Margaret's 
love of learning, even to the extent of demanding it in 
women; but the strongest bond between them was his 
sympathy for the Reformers, though he was more of a 
Trimmer than she was. 

Secular reforms were more to his taste. While Francis I 
was still growing richer by the labour-tax, Henri was the 
first ruler to remit it; and his kingdon* a model of legisla- 
tion had its own system of agriculture, its national Library 
and Printing-press; its special industries and code of Laws, 
all invented or re-organised by him. He chose the right 
wife to help him. His attitude towards her was one of 



THE QUEEN OF NAVARRE 167 



perfect confidence; and "he always reverenced her 
for (as an old historian quaintly observes) lie was not one 
of those <c who keep their wives in such a state of slavery 
that they do not dare to cough in their lord's presence. 11 
But he regarded her more as a mother than a wife, and 
often behaved roughly as well as faithlessly towards her, 
Even Francis was roused by his rudeness and summoned 
him to receive a royal scolding, at least so says the princely 
gossip, Brantome. "Henri d'AlbreV he writes, ** treated the 
Queen, his wife, very badly and would have treated her 
worse, had it not been for her brother Francis who rated 
him soundly, and ended by threatening him, because he had 
been disrespectful to his sister, in spite of her high rank.*" 
Margaret showed a queenly reserve about her troubles, and 
only alluded to them with the lightest of pens, " You are 
better as a relation than the King of Navarre is as a hus- 
band," she wrote to a cousin ; but she liked best to disguise 
herself in fiction ; and in one of her plays she figures pathetic- 
ally as " Mal-Mariee/' She was always subtle even in her 
confidences. 

These facts belong to her later history. The earlier days 
were happier among the happiest of her life. They were 
full of work and pleasure. Her husband took her to visit 
his kingdom, but they lived a great deal in France. Alenfon 
was a good field for her benevolence; it owed its large 
Hospital to her. The King, too, in a tender mood, gave 
her a grant for a Foundlings' School in Paris: la liaison 
des Enfants Rouges, it was called, because of the scarlet 
dresses of the children. w Our very dear, deeply-beloved and 
only sister, the Queen of Navarre," runs the Deed of Gift, 



168 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

a has heretofore instructed us In the great poverty and 
misery . . . endured by little children deserted by their 
Fathers and Mothers ... in the Hotel Dieu of Paris ; 
because the aforesaid little children after the death of 
their parents stay on in the Hotel Dieu, where the air is 
so foul that straightway they fall ill and die. Therefore 
our sister, from the compassion she bears to little children, 
entreated us to succour them, and help towards their main- 
tenance"" .... 

The picture we have of her at this time is a radiant one. 
She generally wore a bodice of blue velvet, and a jewelled 
girdle which fell to the hem of her white satin gown. The 
slashes of her puffed sleeves, fastened by diamond clasps, 
showed her white arms, and bands of chesnut hair lay beneath 
a hood of pearls encircled by a golden crown. Her smile, we 
may believe, apart from courtiers 1 euphuisms, was the finest 
adornment of all. Experience had matured her sweetness and 
made her an adept in the arts of graciousness. "We are 
very different from each other" she writes of a friend "she 
is from Normandy and she smells of the sea ; I from Angou- 
leme and I smell of the gentle waters of the Charente." 

And the portrait of herself comes home to all who have 
seen the bright tranquil stream, sheltered by alders and elder 
boughs, flowing like a silver ribbon below the town that is 
hung on the hill the sweet green city of Angouleme. She 
was full of charming acts of kindness. She would send the 
tit-bits from her table to the old friends she wished to 
honour, a to eat for the love of her: because," said she, 
"these little graces are better than ceremony, they touch 
the hearts of the receivers." Obvious emotions she disliked 



THE OF 169 

and she had fantastic ways of showing it. Brantonie*s 

brother. Captain Bourdeille, fallen in love with Made- 

moiselle de la Roehe 9 against the wishes of his father; 
he brought her, at her own entreaty, to live at Margaret's 
Court while he was at the wars. The Princess espoused her 
cause and gave her a trousseau. On this the Captain depart- 
ed with an easy conscience. Three months later he returned, 
but the girl had died in his absence. It was Margaret who 
had to break the news to him, but she waited till they were 
in the open. When they came into the churchyard of Pau ? 

"Cousin," she said, "do not you feel something stirring 
beneath your feet? 11 

"No, Madame, 1 "' he replied. 

"But ponder well, my cousin." 

"Madame, I have pondered well, but I feel nothing stir, 
for I walk on a hard stone." 

" Nay, but I warn you," she resumed, " that you are upon 
the tomb and the body of poor Mademoiselle de la Roche, 
who lies buried here beneath you; the tomb and the body 
of her whom you loved so dearly. And since our souls still 
feel after death, we must not doubt that this constant woman, 
who died of care, was moved as soon as she felt your step 
above her. Though you did not feel it, because of the thick- 
ness of the tomb, you must not doubt that she thrilled at 
your presence; and because it is a pious office to remember 
the dead whom one has loved, I pray you give her a Pater 
Noster, an Ave Maria, and a De Profundis, and sprinkle her 
with Holy Water. You will win the name of a faithful lover 
and of a good Christian." 

Does Margaret believe in him or no? or does she think 



170 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

that, soldier-like, he has forgotten ? It is hard to say. There 
is a smile behind the tears a hint of elusive irony but 
it vanishes as we question it, and the scene remains painted 
in half-tints, Margaret's favourite colours. 

She liked society as long as society was intimate; but 
she hated crowds and public places and only frequented 
them, says Brantome, so that she might know all things 
and, above all, the secrets of the King. Her best happiness 
was at home, for these early days had brought her the 
fulfilment of her wishes. She had become a mother. In 
158, a daughter was born to her, and the birth of a son 
at Alen^onj two years afterwards, seemed all that was wanting. 
But he did not stay with her long. Having known a 
mother's joy, she was to know a mother's agony, and when 
he was a few months old, he died. "She went into her 
room and without the aid of any womanish action, she 
kneeled down and very humbly thanked the Lord for all 
the good it had pleased Him to do her." Then she gave 
orders that the Te Deum, the popular hymn of rejoicing, 
should be sung, instead of the funeral hymn, throughout 
the city of Alen^on ; and that on its walls should be posted 
placards, bearing the words : " The Lord hath given, the 
Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord."" 
The only sign of mourning that she showed was in her 
dress; and from the day of her baby's death, she wore 
nothing but black. Later it became her taste and her 
ladies were not allowed to wear anything else. 

Francis showed his best side in sorrow, and his letter of 
sympathy about her sorrow has an elaborate sweetness which 
reminds us of his early years. He had himself lost two 



THE OF 171 

children and, however capricious lie might be s lie wat a 
tender father and knew the nature of grief. " My darling,"" 
he wrote, "if Fortune had not tried our resolute patience 
through all these years, I should say she was right to make 
fresh proof of her power. But having learned by sure 
experience that what is mine is yours, she should also have 
considered that what is yours is mine. And so, since you bore 

the pains of Death when my your first children died it 

is for me now to bear your pains as if they were my own. 
You must not, in troth, like a rebel, forsake the fight with 
the Common Foe, but remember that this makes the third 
of yours, and the last of mine, , whom God has called unto 
His blessed company. They have gained with little labour 
what we desire with infinite travail. Forget your sad tears 
in obedience to God .... and accept from yourself the clear 
and pure counsel which, in like case, you once gave to me." 
She was destined to perform that office again for him six 
years later, when the young Dauphin died of a sudden and 
mysterious illness : poisoned, it was credulously said, by ' the 
orders of the Emperor. Amboise* the scene of their own 
childhood, had been the Dauphin's birth-place. "1 can no 
longer believe that Amboise is Amboise" writes the sister 
to the brother "It is now only the source of infinite 
memory and pain," 

Soon after her loss, the King and Queen left Erance and 
went to live in the province of Beam, in their kingdom of 
Navarre. They took up their abode in the Chateaux of 
Nerac and of Pau, where the most important part of Mar- 
garet's life was spent. Here passed the first two years of 
little Jeanne's childhood. All was going smoothly and happi- 



TO THE RENAISSANCE 

ness seemed certain, when the King came down on the 
peaceful little group and carried off Jeanne to Tours. He 
had suspicions, not unfounded, that her parents wanted to 
betroth her to the Heir of Spain. This did not suit his 
purposes at all. He put her in his Castle of Plessis-le-Tours, 
Louis XI's grim, iron-barred fortress, and here he had her 
educated. He had determined to bring her up in orthodox 
Catholicism, and this may have confirmed him in his course : 
however that may be, he succeeded in breaking his Mignonne's 
heart by the separation, and though she treated him as a 
deity, her spirit was sore within her. 

It is easy to imagine her terror when, Jeanne being eight 
years old, she suddenly heard that the child was mortally 
ill at Tours. The distance from that town to Paris, where 
Margaret was staying, was no slight matter in those days; 
and, when the news came, her servants were not at hand 
and none of her vehicles were obtainable. She borrowed 
her niece's litter and reached Bourg that evening, going 
straight to the Church to escape the crowd of Courtiers 
that awaited her at the door. She would take no one with 
her but her favourite duenna, the Senechale de Poitou ; and 
as she entered, she said that all hope had left her. Weeping 
and praying, she prostrated herself before the Crucifix and 
accused her own sins as the cause of her child's illness. 
When she rose again, she was calm : " The Holy Spirit has 
promised me my daughter's recovery,"" she said. Once in her 
lodging, she sat down with her suite to supper, and all 
through the meal she talked of God's pity and mercy and 
"the miseries and tribulations of men, with a great gravity 
of language." After this, she sent her company away, 



THE OF ITS 

returned to her devotions and opened the Bible on the 
of Hezekiah, which she took as a good omen. At this very 
moment a postilion's horn sounded in the street with a 
note that seemed to mean haste. " What news ? " she cried, 
rushing to the window but no answer came : the postilion* 
whom none dared question* had gone to the Bishop^s Palace, 
and she resumed her prayers. It was thus, kneeling almost 
prone against a stone bench, that the Bishop of Seez found 
her when, a few minutes later, he entered the room. There 
was a pause before she rose ; at last- " Ah, Monsieur de 
S&z," she said, "have you come to tell a suffering mother 
the death of her only child? I know full well she is now 
with God. 71 Such was her state that he had to break Ms 
good news to her and make her gradually understand that 
the danger was past, She showed no exuberant joy, but 
lifted her hands to heaven, thanking and glorifying God. 

Sad though she was in her solitude, she never seems to 
have blamed her brother, either for separating her from her 
child, or for his behaviour about Navarre. A letter to her 
cousin, Montmorency, begging him to try and persuade the 
King to keep faith about her kingdom, is her only mention 
of her wrongs ; but she must have been thinking of Francis 
when she wrote in after years that " she had learned to live 
on paper more than on anything else." Her letters to him 
are loving and effusive as ever ; as for his to her, she never 
tires of saying that they are a cure for all her wretchedness, 
even for her colds and indigestions; and she kisses them 
"at least once a day" and wears them as relics. She went 
so far as to make her poor husband do the same. There 
is no length she will not run. In order to be with Francis 



174 THE RENAISSANCE 

vshe will gladly renounce her royal blood to be " the serving- 
maid of his washerwoman. 1 ' 1 "And I give you my word. 
Sire," (she ends) "that without regretting my cloth of gold, 
I much desire to put on a disguise and to try being your 
servant." 5 " There was one occasion when he sent her a New 
Year's present of a Crucifix, accompanied by some rather 
trite verses he had composed "When" (she writes) "I 
behold an object so divine, so well made, so rich and excel- 
lent, ... I can do nothing but embrace the finely-carven 
figure, for the honour and the reverence that I bear my 
two Christs." 

She wrote these rhapsodies in all sorts of uncomfortable 
places often while travelling about on one of the rather 
un-christian missions of the most Christian King. Now she 
is posting hither and thither as escort to one of his lady- 
loves; now awaiting her arrival and catching a chill in a 
draughty inn by the roadside. And when the war breaks 
out in Provence and in Picardy, she becomes, as she says 
herself, " Penthilisea, Queen of the Amazons"; reviews his 
armies, first in one province then in another; and examines 
the fortifications in the North. " Would to God," she writes, 
after watching a battle in Provence, "that the Emperor 
would try to cross the Rhone whilst I am here ! I would 
wager on niy life that, woman though I be, I could prevent 
him from doing so." 



II 



The other personage who at this time played a part in 
the life of Margaret was Anne de Montmorency, the 



OP NAVARRE 175 

successor of Bourbon as Constable of France. Their relations 
were complicated. He was her cousin, the playmate of 
Francis at Amboise, the friend of her early days, and the 
correspondent to whom all her first letters were addressed, 

They were on the most intimate terms ; she confides in him, 
scolds him., rallies him about his flirtations, as the mood 
takes her. It is charming to catch her in her lighter moods. 

"I showed your letter (she writes) to Mistress Margaret 
of Lorraine, who, in spite of her grey nun's habit, has never 
ceased to remember old days; she assures you that she 
acquits herself so well in praying for you., that if all the 
ladies who have sported with you did as much, you would 
have no cause to regret the past; for their prayers would 
carry you to Paradise, where (after a long and a pleasant 
life) wishes to see you, 

"Your kindly cousin and friend, 

" MARGARET.** 

There are graver and more political letters written to 
him after Pavia and during the Spanish journey. Her trust 
in his judgment seems unbounded. He was clever, but 
reckless in his arrogance. He was like the Constable Bour- 
bon in his superbness. His Palace of Ecouen, built by 
Philibert de TOrme, outrivalled the Chateau de Madrid. 
Chantilly was also his, besides a third estate ; and his hunting 
array of Arab horses, Turkish hounds, and falcons from 
Tunis sent him by Soliman were the talk of France. 
He filled eleven different offices, and his income was nearlj 
double Margaret's own. A keen soldier and a potent all) 



176 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

of the King's, insolent, rough, splendid, and uncultivated, 
he was universally disliked. Literature and refinement he 
despised^ and he could not bear the fact that Greek and 
Latin Scholars took precedence of gentlemen at Court. He 
boasted that, in spite of his great fortune, he had never 
given a crown-piece to a man of letters ; and the Reformers 
he hated even more than the learned. 

It was this aversion for the New Ideas which caused his 
gradual separation from Margaret. From being her comrade 
he became her worst enemy? and ? after he was made a Con- 
stable, he was constantly seeking to injure her in the King's 
opinion. He may have been actuated by ambition, but he 
was an incorrigible mischief-maker. According to Brantome, 
he fanned quarrels between her and her husband : but, how- 
ever that may be, he was sincere in his wish to suppress 
her Protestant tendencies. He tried to persuade the King 
of her heresy, but Francis remained loyal. "Oh, 11 he an- 
swered Montmorency's accusations, " as for her, don't let us 
mention her she loves me too much. She will never believe 
anything except what I want her to believe, and will never 
accept a religion which does the slightest injury to my State." 

The King's mind still leaned towards Reform, though his 
policy often pulled him the other way. Margaret tried her 
best to soften his spirit towards Protestantism, and now 
and then succeeded. "Oftentimes," says an old historian, 
"she talked to him about it, and tried by light blows to 
hammer some pity of Luther into his heart." Public events 
had hitherto helped her. In the course of Henri VIIFs 
proceedings with regard to his divorce, he had applied to 
Francis to get the opinion of the Sorbonne, On its express- 



QUEEN OK NAVARRE 177 

ing disapproval of the divorce, the King of France, nothing 
daunted, called an irregular Council, which justified Henry^s 
course and then registered its decree as that of the Sor- 
bonne. l This did not make that Faculty more friendly to 
either monarch ; and when Henry married Anne in the same 
year (1531), it was equivalent to an anti-papal proclamation. 
The destinies of Europe at that moment depended on the 
attitude towards the Pope of the three great sovereigns- 
Henry, Charles and Francis. Charles V had no choice in 
the matter. For the sake of his aunt, Catherine of Aragon, 
he was forced to represent the Catholic cause. His enemy* 
Francis, was swayed by other influences; as the ally of 
England lie found himself personally obliged to assume a 
certain amount of tolerance. But he could not keep it up. 
The Sorbonne, the Parlement and his mother until her 
death proved too strong for him ; while the Reformers 
themselves became their own worst enemies and harmed 
their cause by their rashness. 

The history of persecution makes ugly reading, and a 
mere list of tortures is futile; but some slight account of 
the progress of the New Ideas since the battle of Pavia is 
necessary, if we are to follow the dealings of Margaret with 
their advocates. 

When the Pope wrote to ask Louise de Savoie what curt 

"she prescribed for heresy, she answered, "The Inquisition,* 

and lit its fires throughout France. The "Citizen of Paris' 1 

who kept a diary, notes one hideous spectacle after another, 

A hermit is burned in the pig-market, because he said 

1 Martin: Histoire de France,, Voi VOL 

12 



178 THE RENAISSANCE 

Christ was born like other men, "et neanmoins il n'etait 
point clerc et ne savait A ni B; w or Pierre Piefort is killed 
for stealing Ste. Genevieve's cup, though the King took, 
without demur, "three or four golden statues of Apostles "^ 
from the great Church at Laon to help him in his wars. 
There were martyrs of sis: and seven years old ; there were 
decrees of the utmost rigour against printers who published 
Luther's books, and writers who translated St. Paul's Epistles 
into French. 

In spite of all this, Margaret had been able to protect 
her friends. The Faculty condemned Erasmus ; she took up 
his cause. It persecuted Calvin; she received him at her 
Court. She was not so successful with Berquin Berquin, 
famous at Meaux and the chief martyr of Protestantism ; 
Berquin, "le plus savant de la noblesse," whose spirit knew 
no turning. Twice was he imprisoned and in danger of his 
life, and twice she saved him by her influence over Francis. 
In vain his friend Erasmus tried to modify him. "The 
time has come," replied Berquin, "to humiliate the School- 
men."'' 1 Erasmus retorted that he was wrong that the time 
had come to temporize with everyone. "Do not trust to 
the King's protection; do not commit yourself with the 
Faculty of Theology! 11 he exclaimed. But the gospel of 
compromise was not for Berquin. "Do you know what I 
have gained? 17 asked Erasmus in despair "I have only 
given him fresh courage. 11 

It was not so much his own daring as the King's puerile 
superstition that finally brought about Berquin's fate. In 
I58, occurred the famous affair of the broken statue. A 
figure of the Virgin with the Child in her arms stood "against 



QUEEN OF NAVARRE 170 

the wall of the house of Maltre Lovs de Harlay," the 

Church of Little Saint Antoine. One day it was found 
mutilated ; the heads of both figures had been knocked off, 
and no trace of the destroyer was discoverable. "Where- 
upon the King, who was in Paris, being told thereof, was 
so much angered and so far undone that, saith report, he 
wept bitterly. 1 " The deed was trumpeted for two days 
through Paris, and a reward offered to the finder of the 
desecrator; but in vain. Then came a season of processions 
to the Parish where the sacrilege took place. First the 
University and the Schools of Paris, then the King and the 
prelates, inarched to the scene of the crime, " with instruments 
of music and hautboys, and many bugles and trumpets, beauti- 
ful to see and sweet to hear. 1 * Next the King, and a Bishop 
in full dress, bore to the spot a new figure in silver beneath 
a red silk canopy, with a statue of the King to stand below 
it; they set it up to the sound of music, with ** three deep 
curtseyings before it," and carried off the broken Virgin as 
a relic. Unfortunately, at this moment, Berquin was for 
the third time in prison on charge of heresy. He sent a 
letter to his servant, bidding him burn his books in a 
certain place which he indicated. The servant, in carrying 
them there, had to pass the new silver statue and, as ill 
luck would have it, just as he reached it he turned faint 
and fell down. Some bystanders, running to his help, found 
inculpating letters upon him. They took them to a priest 
hard by, who conveyed them to Beda, the persecuting 
leader of the Sorbonne. Berquin underwent a mock trial, 
the scholar Bude in vain urging him to make some form of 
submission. He refused, and was condemned to death. 



180 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Margaret was away from Paris, so was the King; and the 
Sorbonne took advantage of their absence to have him burned 
at once (1529). "You would have said," wrote Erasmus, 
" when he was led forth to be tortured, that he was at home 
in his library, pursuing his studies, or in a temple, thinking 
of holy things." The diary of the Paris Citizen also com- 
memorates him. a Le dit Berquin," he says, "etait moult 
grand clerc, expert en science et subtil; 1 ' and he wore, he 
adds, " a velvet gown .... and golden stockings .... for he 
was of noble birth," 

There is no record of Margaret's feelings when she got 
the news, but Berquin was only the chief of a long array 
of martyrs. The King was panic-struck and encouraged 
every ingenuity of cruelty. Margaret must have needed an 
uncommon strength of mind to hold as she did to her 
opinions. In 1533, she produced "Le miroir de Tame 
Pecheresse," a long high-souled poem mystical, almost Evan- 
gelical. The Sorbonne, headed by Beda, seized their long- 
desired opportunity and fell upon it. It made, they said, 
no mention of the Saints or of Purgatory, and they summoned 
her to appear before them for heresy. They had a second 
string to their bow : a Book of Hours, which Bri9onnet had 
arranged for her, leaving out certain prayers to the Saints. 
Nothing perhaps so clearly shows the influence either of 
Margaret or the Sorbonne as the power of the latter to 
command a Queen to attend its court, or her power to pay 
no attention to its orders. Guillaume Petit, Bishop of Sens, 
managed her affairs for her and silenced the Sorbonne. The 
matter might have blown over, had it not been for the 
prieste and students. A monk chose to make her the subject 



OF NAVARRE 18! 

of a sermon, and told his congregation that she deserved to 
be put into a sack and thrown- into the Seine. The 
audacious students at the University went farther and got 
up a farce all about her. It began with her desertion of 
the distaff for the company of a Fury who presented her 
with a Bible ; and* when the play ended, she was left upon 
the stage transformed into a Fury herself, 

This was more than Francis could endure. He sent his 
Archers to seize the guilty students and would have had 
them executed, had it not been for Margaret's entreaties, 
His royal affections were ruffled; his royal prerogative was 
outraged. He had to rest content with milder punishment 
and a retractation of his censure of the Sorbonne. But he 
soon found occasion to arrest the bigot, Beda, and afterwards 
to imprison him in Mont St. Michel., where he died. As 
for the compromising book, it gained a great reputation: 
which only proves that what one century admires makes the 
tedium of another. The poem was translated by Queen 
Elizabeth when she was eleven years old, and presented by 
her to her step-mother, Catherine Parr. Evidently the 
French volume had come into her hands through her mother, 
Margaret's former maid-of-honour ; and the English Princess' 
manuscript, "The Mirrour of a guilty Sowle," lies in the 
Bodleian Library, bound in faded blue and gold the half- 
forgotten memorial of two literary queens. 

There seemed again a chance that Reform might flourish 
unmolested, but Clement VIFs arrival at Marseilles with 
his niece, Cathe'rine de M&licis, as a bride for the Dauphin, 
gave fresh impetus to persecutions. This time the Reformers 
themselves helped them on by their folly. In the autumn 



188 THE PEENCH RENAISSANCE 

of 1534, the King, then at Blois, rose one morning to find 
a placard against the Mass fastened on his palace wall; 
similar posters were found throughout Paris and the pro- 
vincial towns, and no one could discover their authors. 
The King, equally outraged in his dignity and his faith, 
decided on extreme measures. In January 1535, bare-headed, 
with a taper in his hands, he led an expiatory procession. 
It started from St. Germain FAuxerrois, and carried with it 
the relics of all the shrines in Paris. On the night following, 
after dining with the Bishop of Paris, Francis got up into 
the pulpit before Court, Parlement and Ambassadors, and 
pledged himself to stamp out heresy : he would slaughter 
his own children, he said, if they showed any signs of Pro- 
testantism, Margaret in alarm chose an orthodox Confessor 
and took the Communion in public. 

Auto-da-fs raged, and such were the excesses of the 
King's ** execrable justice," as the "Citizen of Paris " calls it, 
that Paul III himself was obliged to interfere. He wrote 
a letter to Francis in June, begging him to stay his hand. 
"No doubt,' 1 said the Pope, <le Hoi tres Chretien' was 
only doing his best to justify his title. And yet God, the 
Creator, when He was in this world dealt more in mercy 
than in justice, nor is it the duty of man to use severity. 
It is double cruelty to burn a man alive, for otherwise he 
might return to faith and law. And therefore" ends the 
mandate "the Pope requires the King to appease his fury . . . 
and to pardon." 

When Popes begin to plead for tolerance, kings have no 
choice but to obey. For three years there was a truce, of 
which Margaret took advantage. She persuaded Francis to 



THE OF 18$ 

invite Melancthon to Paris to dispute with the Sorbonne, 
and the King went so far as to ask for the permission of 
Melancthon^s master, the Elector PalatinCg to let him come. 
The Elector refused, and the plan came to nothing. Bat 
Francis"" unstable conduct continued to bewilder his friends 
and his foes, and to vary exactly as his interests required. 
When he was irritated by Clement VII, the Emperor's ally, 
he behaved like a schoolboy and vowed to the Nuncio that 
he would turn Lutheran. "Frankly, Sire, you will be the 
first man to be ruined by it," said the diplomat; "you will 
lose more than the Pope, for a new religion spread amongst 
the people soon demands a change of Prince." 1 " 

This was unfortunately the view to which Francis return- 
ed. He ultimately became too much frightened about his 
temporal safety and his eternal salvation to run any risk 
of endangering either, and Margarets little court in Beam 
became the only haven for the Beformers. 

To that court it is pleasant to turn. Under the Pyrenees 
stood the feudal castle of Pau, the southern capital of her 
kingdom. She had also the Castle of Nerac, her capital in 
the north. These were to be her principal homes for the 
remainder of her days. She at once saw their possibilities. 
Bands of Italian workmen came with her and helped her to 
realise all her dreams of beauty. Surrounded on all sides 
by the bleak Landes, or overshadowed by grim mountains, 
there arose these palaces of delight, embosomed in groves 
and gardens, with terraces and fountains like those of 
Touraine. They abounded in books and sculptures and 
their rooms were marvels of art. 

Into this Epicurean setting stepped Calvin m all his 



184 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

sternness. Stepped is, perhaps, too leisurely a word, 
Margaret had been keeping him for some time in hiding 
at Nantes and at Angouleme, and now he fled to her, 
disguised as a vineyard-labourer. He found a troop of 
penniless Protestant Scholars as incongruous as himself in 
her palace. Chief among the new names were two of whom 
there will be more to learn hereafter : the restless, revolution- 
ary poet, Bonaventure des Periers; and the free- thinking 
philosopher and pamphleteer, Etienne Dolet, both of them 
constantly in mischief. And there was the sweet old Maitre 
des Requetes, Margaret's future biographer, Charles de Sainte- 
Marthe broad of mind, but too gentle of spirit to be danger- 
ous and the peaceful librarian, Lefebre, whom Calvin set to 
work to censure for his " cowardly" want of initiative. 

A court was certainly not Calvin^s element ; he was a born 
controversialist, urged alike by an unflinching courage and an 
unresting brain. Although he was little over twenty, his 
character and creed were already set. He was a born despot, 
and countenanced no method of belief but his own. Of 
Margaret^ tolerance, which he praised when directed towards 
the Calvinists, he severely disapproved when it was given to 
others. Her readiness to help all the persecuted, whether 
Romans or Genevans, seemed a weakness to him ; eclecticism 
ofiended him like a crime, and all the race of broad-thinkers 
"libertins" he called them were outcasts in his eyes. 
After he had left Beam, l he shot forth a terrible pamphlet, 
"Ex Libertinis", in which he bitterly reproached the Queen 
of Navarre for harbouring two fugitives belonging to no 

1 1545. 



OF 185 

Church and both tending to free- thought. " It is impossible," 

he wrote to her soon after, a not to wish that your house should 
prove worthier of being the true family of Jesus Christ ; 
instead of which certain of its members deserve to be called 
the slaves of the devil : his slaves, I repeat, and his colleagues* . . 
I was told that a servant such as I am, was neither 
nor agreeable to you. And, indeed, when I do myself justice, 
I recognize that I cannot be of much use. It as if, 

among your servants, you had no need of a man of my sort."'"' 
Margaret, who did not care a jot for the condemnation of 
the Sorbonne, was deeply hurt by Calvin and reproached 
him with maltreating her friends with his pen. 

" And yet (he replied) it is not affection fory ou which I 
lack. Even if you regretted and scorned my devotion, 1 
should none the less keep for you the same faithful attachment. 
Those who know me, know how far I am from seeking the 
favour of princes. It is quite enough for me to have been 
admitted to the service of a greater Master. . . . Thy most 
devoted, thy ready servant, even to obsequiousness, 

"JOHN CALVIN." 

He probably said the same things in the sermons which, 
while at Nerac, he constantly preached in her presence. 
Roussel, her other special Preacher, had a temperament the 
opposite of Calvin's and, pious though he was, he took 
pleasure in the Court Society. It must be owned that her 
life in Navarre was not such as to please a rigid Puritan. 
It was a strange jumble of brilliance and gravity, and even 
its religious practices showed the same contrast. It is a 



186 

mistake to think that the New Ideas meant universal austerity, 
or that Margaret, Saint of Charity as she was, was only 
given up to good works. Gaiety was almost as needful to 
her as self-discipline, and her high spirits often led her into 
a kind of intellectual exuberance which bordered on irrever- 
ence. Devotions alternated with sacred farces and pastorals, 
many of them written by herself. Clerks who joked about 
the Virgin and Saints, churchgoers who spent their fortunes 
on dogs and mistresses, were encouraged to act the Scriptures 
on her stage. She herself made a a tragi-comic translation" 
of nearly all the New Testament, and got a troupe of the 
best comedians "qui fussent lors en Italic" to act it before 
her husband. The actors interspersed their drama with 
"rondeaux" about the Clergy, and directly it was over the 
King and Queen went on to " Preches ", a kind of sermon- 
service held in the King's room by Roussel and another 
fugitive priest. One of RoussePs duties as Chaplain was to 
contrive plays for edification; but edification was a wide 
term including satire against Rome, and was indifferent 
to the means by which it arrived at its moral. 

Another strange rite of the Reformation was in vogue at 
the Chateau of Nerac. This was the heterodox "Messe k 
sept points,"" or a Messe a deux especes," held in the cellars 
of the palace. No elevation of the Host, or adoration of 
Species was allowed, no commemoration of the Virgin and 
Saints ; the officiating priest was not obliged to be celibate. 
He wore lay dress, took a common loaf, ate of it and gave 
it to the congregation, who all together communicated in 
both Species at once. There was psalm-singing, too, in the 
midst of which any priest inclined to be a wag would 



THE OF 181 

into jokes and against the "Gent Papiste ""Margaret 

laughing with the best of them. Her husband's 
towards these ceremonies was changeable. At first lie 
part in them. But as he grew older, he became more timid 
and more orthodox. He made all sorts of petty restric- 
tions, and scolded if the Reformers at his Court did not 
appear in the monies dress that caution had inspired him 
to prescribe. His wife's freedom began to disturb him. The 
story runs that on one occasion he went to her room, making 
sure he would find her with a certain Lutheran who was 
trying to convert her. He meant to thrash him for his 
pains, but when he reached her apartment the bird had 
flown and he found Margaret in solitude. He was not a 
man of words. "You want to know too many things, 
Madame," he said, and boxed her soundly on the ears. 

In this matter he could count on the sympathy of his 
brother-in-law. Alarmed at the reports of Margaret's heret- 
ical festivities, Francis summoned her to come to Mm and 
administered a lecture. He told her that women who followed 
new doctrines were hateful and that she must alter her ways. 
Roussel he also cautioned and hinted, with rather ominous 
wit, that his "Messe a sept points smelled of faggots. 71 
Margaret exonerated him and herself. a The King will find 
that Roussel is worth something better than the flames," 
she wrote* . . w Believe me, had I ever seen the faintest shade 
of unfaith in him I could never have borne the contaminating 
poison for so long, or have allowed my friends to pollute 
themselves." Both she and Roussel evidently took the royal 
hint, for Francis eventually made him Bishop of Ol&on. 
The appointment was a bold one. One day, when he was 



188 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

preaching, a fanatic against Reform cut the supports of the 
pulpit and he fell He was badly hurt, and died some time 
after from the effects of the accident. 

Calvin, no doubt, considered it a judgment. In his eyes 
prosperity was worse than tolerance, and to be a Bishop 
meant to be a villain. The letter that he wrote to Roussel 
on his getting the Bishopric can hardly have flattered the 
new prelate's feelings. "Everybody," it ran, "goes about 
saying that you are very happy the darling of Fortune, 
so to speak. I pity your disaster from my soul. . . . As 
long as you remain of the troop whom Christ called the 
robbers . . . and murderers of His Church, you may think of 
yourself as you like. / shall never consider you a Christian, 
or a good man. Adieu." 

Calvin was an awful correspondent. His pen was a rod 
and his eye a search-light. His bad digestion may have 
had something to do with his acrid conscience. It must 
have been a relief when he ended his long stay in Navarre 
and betook himself to B&le. Here he published his " Insti- 
tutions. 7 ' It is interesting that he was still allowed to 
dedicate Ms work to Francis and that he continued to look 
upon the King as his Patron. " You can afford to tolerate 
us in all conscience we are not heretics," he had once 
ventured to write to him. The times had changed. Now 
he sent him his book with "Non pacem sed gladium" for 
its motto hardly the device for Church and State. 

He did not return to Margaret's Court. She had, how- 
ever, other and more insidious opponents. Her heterodoxy 
brought her more than once into danger, and there was a 
strong party against her who did not stop at words. There 



THE OF NAVAHRK 1H0 

were actual plots against her life. At she was 

obliged to celebrate Mass in her room, she 

that the incense burned before her in the church had 
poisoned for her destruction. Apart from such disturbances, 
she pursued her way in peace. She enjoyed the classics 
with Paul Paradis, history and poetry with other friends. 
They read out to her and, while she listened, she embroider- 
ed classical fables, or the rites of the Church, in tapestry- 
stitch. Her work was said to be like painting, but she 
never worked for work's sake. If she were not being read 
to as she sewed, she dictated her meditations to her Secre- 
tary. " She was used," says Sainte-Marthe, a to hold a book 
with greater ease than a distaff, a pen rather than a spindle, 
and her ivory tablets in place of a needle.*" She had one 
Secretary to write her letters and another to copy her verses. 
Sometimes she made them for her dearly loved lute : songs, 
thin and sweet, still precious to the collector. What she 
liked best was to ride about the country on her mule and 
make the peasants sing her their country-songs, which she 
jotted down at their dictation. It was her way of getting 
to know her people and their language, which she picked 
up quickly and they soon grew to love her with devotion. 
In the evening she and her ladies made music, or told 
realistic romances ("Nouvelles" they called them) in the 
drawing-room: stories that ranged from coarse fables about 
drunken monks to idyls of purest love. 

Or they made conversation. Even if we allow the usual 
deductions for flattery, Margaret's talk must have been 
remarkable. There remains a record of an impressionable 
Spanish gentleman who came to visit her. He found her 



190 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

in the midst of a discussion with Gerard Roussel. " Except 
ye be as little children " was their theme, and Maitre Gerard 
was quoting St. Augustine ; another Scholar, St. Jerome ; while 
Sainte-Marthe broke in with St. Chrysostom and St. Hilary. 
Then the princess took up the tale and the appreciative 
Spaniard "was as one who saw a vision and remained in 
speechless ecstasy at her eloquence." Another of her guests, 
not so sweet of temper, went away mightily offended because 
she had not spoken a word to him, but continued her abstract 
dialectics with " Je ne sais quels bonnets rends." She came 
in for a fair share of ridicule from people outside her circle. 
The world accused her of affectation, because she preferred 
the conversation of "gens de robbe" (the learned professions) 
to that of noblemen and courtiers; but the world did not 
affect her. At dinner she chose, her talkers, and her topic 
for the day. Strangers were sometimes admitted to hear 
her. She conversed about all her usual subjects, bookish 
and ethical; or discussed medicine and hygiene with her 
Doctors. They took their meals with her and carefully 
watched her diet. Her eloquence converted her financier 
to Woman's Rights. "It is blindness a very ditch of 
error,"*" he exclaims, u to object to the study of philosophy 
for women. Why on earth should we forbid them to read 
the same books as men ?" But he hastens to remind ua 
that, with all her brilliance, "she remembered the advice 
of Plutarch and of St. Paul to women . . . She could easily 
have chattered with the best of them before her husband-*- 
she could easily have interrupted him when he talked*" 1 
But she never did so, or allowed any debating in his 
presence; far from the case of those women (says her 



OF NAVARRE 191 

chronicler) " the cackle of whose inanities you would take 
for the clattering of saucepans, tambourines and bells." 

Margaret's Court was perhaps the most literary on record 
le Parnasse Bearnals it was called. Her society drew to 
Fau and Nerac a large company of poets and artists, besides 
those who lived on her bounty. She was, says another 
emotional contemporary, "the precious carnation In the 
flower-garden of the palace; her fragrance had drawn to 
Beam, as thyme draws the honey-bees, the noblest minds 
in Europe." Of her old friends at Paris and Blois many 
came to her; Postel and Melin St.-Gelais were amongst 
them. The second Clouet painted for her, l and a charming 
illuminator, Adam Martel, took up his abode at Court to 
illustrate her " Heptameron." Frugal though she was, she ate 
her sparse meals off gorgeous plate, ordered from Benvenuto 
Cellini and his rivals. There is an order in her account-book 
for a salt-cellar in the shape of Susannah rising from her 
bath no trifle as far as expense went. She had enamels 
from Leonard Limousin, first of enamellers ; she had finely- 
wrought jewels from struggling artificers. The sums spent 
in ornaments for art's sake even for the maintenance of 
tailors and embroiderers are surprising. 

She allowed the men and women of her suite twenty-five 
crowns a year for their dress; but she gave more to the 
slovenly and ungainly, because they needed more clothes to 
make them look nice, and "she liked to see comely people 
about her person. 1 ' She kept up the princely tradition of 
providing her "Demoiselles" with trousseaux. Eight ells of 

1 The fourth Clouet was at one time also employed by her. 



192 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

black velvet at seven francs an ell ; eight of black satin at 
four francs ten sols an ell; a cloak lined with lamb's fur 
and trimmed with Spanish cat ; with a supplement of thirty 
francs for a mule such is the entry in her ledger of the 
bridal provision that she made for one of her ladies. Her 
own dress was of plain black velvet: from the skirt, half 
hidden by the long cloak cut away under the arms to the 
cornette, or square hood, coming down low on the forehead. 
She wore no jewels or trimming; but her high collar was 
lined with marten's fur and fastened by pins in the front; 
and it left room for a little white chemisette, which was 
drawn up in folds to her throat. 

Her whole personality, at this mid-day of her life, seems 
to have been stamped with royal dignity. "If she turned 
her eyes upon you," says Sainte-Marthe, "there was in her 
countenance I know not what of divinity, which would so 
have amazed you that you would have been powerless, not 
only to advance a step, but even to move your foot to get 
nearer to her." Like all true sovereignty, hers had an 
element of severity and she inspired awe when she wished 
to do so. She made a code of rales for her Court, condemn- 
ing all things that made against a Christian life. She 
included cowards and u criminals by the tongue " in her list 
of immoral persons. Disobedience to these laws meant exile, 
even, as it afterwards fell out, when the offender was her 
favourite poet, Bonaventure des P&iers. For a first offence 
she was content to admonish, and her words were not easily 
forgotten. Towards any real delinquent "she used great 
gravity, but with such a manly majesty that he who had 
erred wished himself at once a hundred feet below the 



THE QUEEN OF NAVARSE 193 

earth. . . . She never uttered an insult, but she lashed him 
hard with her tongue .... and when she thought she had 
gone far enough, she was careful to mix honey with the 
aloes." To the poor, the humble and the timid, she was 
gentle as ever, and her charities were as constant in Navarre 
as in Alencon. She liked walking almost alone in the streets 
of Pau, that they might approach the more easily and talk 
frankly to her. "To see her you would never have thought 
she was a Queen, for she went about like a simple demoiselle" 
" No one," she said, " ought to go away sad or disappointed 
from the presence of a prince ; for Kings were the ministers 
of the poor, not their masters : and the poor were the 
members of God." She would like (and she said it with 
tears in her eyes) to be the servant of all who served the 
lowly; and the Prime Minister of the Poor was the title 
that she gave to herself. She visited them in their homes 
and sent them her own Doctors. All her officers of relief 
(Mademoiselle St. Father was her "Chief Almoner") had 
orders to act without delay. Her capricious husband, as 
we know, was not capricious in works of public spirit. He 
had begun them without her and they continued them 
together. They imported labour from the Berri and Sologne, 
and planted vineyards all over the kingdom. Margaret went 
a step farther and urged civic reform. She devoted her energies 
to her town of Pau, giving it a Parliament and an Exchequer, 
and maintaining order by means of her private purse. 

Her purse might have belonged to Fortunatus ; it subsisted 
on miracle the miracle of the heart. For Margaret and her 
husband presented the anomaly of a really poor King and 
Queen, and their circumstances were not improved by having 

13 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

a poet for Minister of Finance. Their poverty alone would 
make them interesting. At one time Margaret had to 
borrow from one of her ladies-in-waiting to pay up her 
charities. The King allowed her a pension of 1000 a year, 
but their whole income was only about 1630, on which 
they had to provide for all their liabilities as Royalties and 
art-patrons, philanthropists and entertainers. Her treasury 
never kept its contents for long. Fines which might have 
gone to swell it were remitted by her quixotic generosity. 
As sister of the King of France she was obliged to keep 
up a certain state. The number of retainers considered 
indispensable was out of all proportion to the ske of Navarre. 
She had ten Maitres d'HAtel, twenty Valets de Chambre, 
seventeen Secretaries, four Doctors, two Chamberlains, a 
Chancellor, and twenty-eight Ladies besides Lawyers, Coun- 
cillors and Financiers. It was etiquette to allow a fund of 
d?800 a year for lawsuits; and dowries and pensions must 
be added to this. Besides the endowment of convents, there 
was the education of destitute students a legion of them. 
The most distinguished was the Greek Scholar, Arnyot, 
whom her ready hand saved from penury. Not did she 
only give to the poor. In npite of Francis" treacherous 
conduct, he had the audacity to borrow largely from her and 
she lent him a fortune in plate. She was doomed to be 
exploited : and always by the people she loved best Later 
it was her daughter who remorselessly mined her; and her 
needy sister4n4aw, Isabeau d'Albret, lived upon her gifts. l 

1 Amyot came to Puns as boy, determined to get into 
College; starved m a garret on one loaf a week, sent Mm from 



THE QUEEN OF NAVARRE 195 

Wherever she turned there was someone ready to spend her 
money for her. 

"Plus vous que moi>" was one of her devices. It could 
not be more apt. Who more amply fulfilled her own saying 
that "To love God one must first love a human creature 
perfectly "? She might perhaps have added that to love 
human creatures perfectly you must consent to be dis- 
appointed in them. That was certainly her case. It had 
happened with her brother, it was to happen again with 
her child. 

the country by his mother; succeeded in entering the College 
of Cardinal Lemoine, and afterwards taught for a living. He 
became teacher in the family of one of the King's Secretaries 
and came under Margaret's notice. She sent him to Bourges 
as Professor of Latin and Greek, after which his fortune was 
made. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER XII 

Papiers d'Etat du Cardinal de Granvelle: quoted in the Ap- 
pendix to Lettres de Marguerite d'Angouleme. 
Nouvelles Poesies de Marguerite d'AngouMme. 
Epitres de Jeanne d'Albret a sa M&re. 

Oraison Fun^bre sur Marguerite d'Angouleme : SAINTE-MARTHE. 
Jeanne d'Albret: Miss FREER. 
Livre d'Etat de Marguerite d'Angouleme: 

LE COMTE DE LA FERRl}RE 

Chateau de Pau: LAGIEZE. 

Marguerite d'Angoul&ne : LURO. 

Marguerite de Valois: LA COMTESSE D'HAUSSONVILLE. 

Marguerite of Angoul^me: MARY ROBINSON. 



CHAPTER XII 
(15371545) 

JEANNE D^ALBEET 

ALL Margaret's affection centered upon Jeanne, who re- 
mained an only child. There is a record of twins who 
were born about 1540, but they died directly after birth. 
Jeanne, like many daughters, had a character the opposite 
of her mother's. A person of convictions rather than of 
sympathies, she saw one thing at a time and did not want 
to see more. Cold and strong, she despised those who gave 
themselves away for anything but ambition; and stoicism 
was a virtue she understood better than charity. There is 
a characteristic story that just before the birth of her son, 
her father had had a gold chain made for one of his mis- 
tresses. It went thirty times round the neck, and the 
mistress would have duly received it had it not been for 
Jeanne, who sang so merrily while she gave birth to Henry IV 
that her father was moved to present her with the jewel. 
The incident shows her as she was. Hard and gay she 
remained, with a Gaulois gift for satire great, if pedantic, 
intellectual powers and a faculty for absorbing knowledge : 
the faults and the virtues of an espr%t-fort. 

As she grew older her mother was often with her at 
Tours, but she still lived there under the eye of her royal 



198 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

uncle. The King and Queen of Navarre took great pains 
to find her a tutor and chose a man of parts, Nicholas 
Bourbon, who had taught an English nobleman's family in 
England. She had a duenna also, to instil the social graces 
Margaret's great friend, Madame de Silly, born Aimee 
Lafayette, who held the purse and kept Jeanne's accounts. 
A good deal of money went in theatricals. Jeanne's 
taste for them was even stronger than her mother's and she 
had her own private performances. An entry in Madame's 
ledger for the scaffolding of a Passion play, to be acted 
before the little girl, then eleven, still bears witness to the 
cost. She lived to see the development of a real drama 
classic tragedies and social comedies- but in early years the 
plays of B^arn contented her. 

She had, too, a natural bent for elegant pedantry, and 
the fashionable knack of rhyming. She and her mother 
kept up a learned correspondence in verse. Anything colder 
than Jeanne's letters than their stilted compliment and 
hyperbole cannot be imagined. It is a comfort to find that 
she had a child's sense of fun, even though it was not a 
delicate one. She delighted in jokes against the monks. 
One day she found her mother's embroidery the Celebra- 
tion of the Mass was its subject and she took the trouble 
to work in foxes' heads to cover the heads of the priests. 
Freaks such as these were premonitory of her views. In 
after years, when she definitely espoused Protestantism* it 
was from hatred of the Catholics and a sense of the ab- 
surdity of asceticism, rather than from any enthusiasm for 
the Cause, 

Childhood in those days, especially royal childhood, was 



JEANNE D'ALBBET 199 

early overshadowed by matrimonial complications. There is 
something half droll, half tragic, in the thought of these 
infants playing the part of the heroines of drama. Once 
in the hands of royal matchmakers, even Jeanne becomes 
pathetic. The history of her first marriage with the Due 
de Cleves is one of the strangest upon record in a strange 
period : a period when, we must remember, Kings still had 
divine rights ; when authority meant tyranny ; and coercion 
must not be regarded with the humane eyes of nine- 
teenth-century parents. 

Her father and mother had plans for marrying her to 
Philip, the son of Charles V; but this did not suit the 
interests of Francis I. To prevent any schemes but his own, 
he continued to keep her in confinement at his Castle of 
Plessis-le-Tours. She was not an agreeable little prisoner. 
" Her sojourn," says a quaint old Chronicler, " was very griev- 
ous and very wearisome to .her. She filled her chamber 
with wails and the air with sighs. . . . The dark red of her 
cheeks grew discoloured by the abundance of her .tears ; her 
hair remained dishevelled and undressed, her lips without 
the ghost of a smile. 11 When she was eleven, Francis sug- 
gested her union with an ally of his own, the Due de Cleves, 
who had a remote claim on the Spanish throne. He had 
reckoned without his host. Jeanne flatly refused. The 
Duke was a heavy German; she could not understand his 
language. She did not love him, she said, and she would 
not have him. A mere Duke, she protested, was no fit 
match for a Princess. In vain did her uncle pay her a state 
visit. He coaxed, he threatened, he declared he would never 
speak to her again. "I would rather throw myself into a 



200 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

well," she replied: A Marshal and a Cardinal (the famous 
Cardinal of Toumon) were sent to lecture her; but they left 
her unmo vcd, and Francis, in despair, sent her home to her 
parents. 

It is disastrous to find Margaret supporting her brother. 
Disobedience to the King was treason in her eyes a sin 
endangering salvation ; rebellion against parental fiats was a 
vice without precedent ; she herself had made no complaint 
when she married the Due d'Alen^on. All the same, the 
mother who felt so tenderly for her child's illness might 
have had some compunction at causing that child so much 
misery. Her servile love for the King seems sometimes to 
have acted as a poison, perverting her nature and deadening 
her affections. She wrote him almost abject letters, and 
ordered the State-Governess to thrash Jeanne daily till she 
consented to the match. 

We do not know how many beatings were administered. 
Finding her plaints of no avail, the brave little girl took 
more practical steps. She assembled the chief officers of her 
household and read them a solemn Protestation though 
how she contrived to get them together, or even to escape 
from her governess, History does not relate, 

" I, Jeanne de Navarre," ran her speech, " continuing the 
Protestations I have heretofore made (in the which I persist) 
say and declare . . . that the marriage my family wishes for 
me with the Due de Cleves, is against my will ; that I have 
never consented and never will consent to it, and that all 
that I do or say hereafter which they can construe into my 
consent, will be wrung from me by farce, in 3pite of me 



JEANNE D'ALBRBT 201 

and my desires, through fear of the King of France, and 
of the King my father, and the Queen my mother. I 
further declare that they have threatened me and had me 
beaten by the Baillive de Caen, my governess. It was by 
my mother's orders, and she has many times pressed me to 
yield, saying that if I did not do all that the King wanted 

with regard to this marriage I should be so severely 

thrashed and ill-treated that it would bring about my death ; 
and that I should be the cause of the ruin of my afore- 
mentioned parents and their House, the fear of which fills 
me with terror. I know not to whom to turn, unless It be 
to God, now that I see that my father and mother have 
forsaken me they who know well what I told them: that 
I shall never love the Due de Cleves and that I will not 
have anything to do with him. And therefore I declare at 
once that if it falls out that I am married, or still considered 
as the betrothed of the Duke, in whatever way it happens, 
it will be ... against my heart and inclination : that he will 
never be my husband, that I shall never consider him as 
such, that the said marriage shall be null, and that I call 
God and you to witness thereof so that you may sign my 
Protestation with me, and remember the violence and com- 
pulsion used towards me in the matter of this marriage. 

"Thus signed 

JjEHANNE DE NAVAREE. 

J. D^ARBAS. 
FRANCIS NAVAERO, 
AENAULD DITQOESSK." 



302 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

This was pretty strong for a girl of barely twelve. She 
made a last desperate effort and, the very day before her 
wedding, read another Protestation, as vehement as the first. 
But it did not help her to escape the ceremony of marriage. 
It took place at Chatellerault. The fatal hour arrived. Her 
mother led forth the miserable little bride to the room a 
ball-room where the Altar was set up. On her childish 
head was a royal ci*own, and she was crushed by the weight 
of her gold and silver dress, thick with jewels, and by the 
long violet satin cloak, bordered with ermine, which fell 
round her shoulders. The King stepped forward to take her 
to the church where the public service was to be celebrated ; 
but the rebel Jeanne, determined to hold out to the last, 
fell back in her chair and said she felt too ill to walk. 
Her uncle, more than her match, gave orders that she should 
be carried. The Constable Montmorency had initated him 
by his pride : this seemed the moment to humiliate him, 
and Francis commanded him to lift the bride in his arms. 
This was looked on as a menial office and equivalent to 
disgrace. "Cest fait desomiais de ma faveur. Adieu lui 
dis!" he exclaimed, but he had to obey and bear the 
reluctant Jeanne to the church-door* Margaret was not 
displeased at the discomfiture of her new enemy and old 
friend, " Voili," she said, ** celui qui me voulait miner autour 
du roi mon fr&re, qui maintenant sert & porter ma fille a 
Teglise." The Constable could not bear the ignominy and, 
after the a diner des noces," he took his departure. He 
retired to Ecouea, nor did he re-appear at Court till the 
reign of Henri II. 

In the end Jeanne got her way; for after the wedding 



JEANNE D'ALBRET 

festivities she instantly parted from her bridegroom and 
returned home to live with her parents. About three years 
later the Emperor descended on the Duchy of Cleves (the 
war had been resumed in 1541) and took one place after 
another. The dismayed Duke thought discretion was the 
better part of valour, met Charles at Venloo, capitulated 
to him, and went over to his side. It had been decreed 
that Jeanne should join him, but when his treachery was 
known, Francis annulled the marriage. Even then there 
was some delay in getting the Pope^s dispensation. But the 
indefatigable Jeanne was not to be done out of her freedom. 
She resumed her policy of Protestation. This time she 
assembled the Chapter of Tours, the Cardinal, and a crowd 
of ecclesiastics, in the Chapel of the Castle at Plessis. After 
receiving the Sacrament, she read them a solemn Remon- 
strance. It is a surprising picture that of the slender 
figure standing in the centre of the long shadowy aisle, 
surrounded by the tall forms and gorgeous copes of the 
prelates. The Princess was equal to the moment. 

" My Lords Cardinal, Archbishop and Bishop here assem- 
bled" she said, "I declare to you again that I desire and 
intend to persevere in my aforesaid protestations. I persist 
in them and shall never do anything else. And since .... 
I cannot express my meaning as well as I understand it, I 
have had it here drawn up in writing and have signed it 
with my hand. I will read it to you, and I swear by the 
Godhead I have just received that what is here wiitten 
contains the truth. 1 " 

The resolute little lady got her deserts : she was freed. 
She continued her life at Pau, where her extravagance soon 



204 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

became a serious incubus. It devoured her mother's pension 
from the King, besides a large allowance for " menus plaisirs " 
and almsgiving 3%5Q in ten months, as Margaret's account- 
book shows us. The girl's retinue was enormous, and separate 
from that of her parents. " The King of Navarre and myself 
find it insupportable," wrote her mother, " and we have not 
the means to maintain it." None the less, she gave without 
ceasing. 

Jeanne's need for money from her was perhaps their 
closest tie. The girl seems, if anything, to have disliked 
her mother. She was probably scornful of Margaret's outgoing 
nature. They found, we may hope, common ground in their 
taste for learning and Reform, and they liked the same sort 
of people. The audacious Jeanne developed with surprising 
quickness, even for those days of early development; and 
when she entered her teens she was already an accomplished 
woman a brilliant new element in the literary Court. She 
was lucky enough to live at a moment when books were 
the fashion when those who wrote them occupied an honour- 
able position. 

There had been many changes in the world of literature : 
new forms were becoming visible ; new ideas were coming to 
the front. They were the result of a gradual Movement 
that had begun long before : a Movement to the growth of 
which it is now time to turn. 



BOOK III 
RABELAIS AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER XIII 

QEuvres de Clement Marot. 

(Euvres Choisies de C16ment Marot (Biographical Preface): 

H&RICAULT. 

Cymbalum Mundi: BONA VENTURE DES PERIERS. 
R6cit d'un Bourgeois de Paris (edited by LALANNE). 
Dictionnaire Historique : BAYLE. 
Tableau du Sememe Siecle: SAINTE-BEUVE. 
La Litt&ature franchise: REN& DOUMIC. 
Trente Ans de Jeunesse: DE MAULDE LA CLAVIKEE. 
Marguerite d'Angoul^me : (Biographical Preface to ef Lettres ") : 

GKNIN. 
Le Livre d'Etat de Marguerite d'AngouMme: LE COMTE BE LA 



Marguerite de Valois: LA COMTESSE D'HAUSSONVILLE. 

Conferences sur Marguerite d'AngouMme: LURO. 

Les Marguerites de la Marguerite des Princesse (Biographical 

Preface): FRANCE. 



CHAPTER XIII 

( 1495 154*4 \ 
I 

CLEMENT MABOT 

FOR the last fifteen years and more, from the battle of 
Pavia onwards, there had been a marked progress In the 
literature of France. The National movement was beginning 
to assert itself, though here its development was slower than 
in the sister arts. Since the days of its first great progenitor, 
Franyois Villon, and of Charles d'Qrleans, the ballade-singer, 
it had been chiefly represented by the Drama. The " Fraterni- 
ties " were the first actors, and " Mysteries," as in other 
countries, the first plays. These dramatized versions of the 
Scriptures were acted in the Hopital de la Trinite and the 
Hotel de Flandre, of which the "Fraternities'" obtained the 
monopoly ; and the people flocked to them without interfer- 
ence until the time of King Francis. The rise of the 
Reformers was the death-blow of the Mysteries. In 154&, 
the Provost of Paris objected to the performance of the Acts 
of the Apostles and protested against Mysteries in general. 
They kept their audience from Mass, he said, lasting as they 
did, from ten o'clock until five; and they made the Priests 
hurry over the service, or even abandon it in their eagerness 
to reach the play in time. And then there was the political 



208 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

danger. The Mysteries and their jokes were an important 
tool in the hands of the Reformers: just as in England 
they were supposed to promote Catholicism and were for- 
bidden by Henry VIII. In 1543, Francis I ordered the 
Hotel de Flandre to be demolished, but the actors, unabashed, 
got possession of part of the Hotel de Bourgogne and built 
a theatre there. They could not procure a license till the 
next reign; and even then they found themselves hedged 
in with restrictions and only allowed such plays as were 
"profanes et honnetes" in their subjects. Mysteries went on 
&ub rom, under the name of Pastorals and Eclogues, till the 
growth of the classical Drama gradually extinguished them. 
Meanwhile Comedy was developing apace. It is charac- 
teristic of France that the mirror of society the art which 
is synonymous with social development should have already 
been so much more polished than it was in contemporary 
England. While we had nothing less primitive than " Ralph 
Royster Doyster" and " Gammer Gurton's Needle, 1 ' the French 
were playing satires which have something to amuse us even now. 
The two great companies were the Enfants sans $ouci 
consisting of young noblemen who performed " Sotties," the 
most extravagant form of skit imaginable and the Company 
of the Lawyers, or Basochiens^ who acted simple farces. 
There was, however, no stickling for property, and the two 
troupes interchanged their plays and acted them all over 
Paris strolling players at best, yet of no small importance. 
If the Mysteries were of use to the Reformers, the Sotties 
were still more so. Their subjects show us why. In one of 
them Louis XII, as the "Vieux Monde," is discovered asleep, 
surrounded by trees in which the "Sots' 1 are imprisoned. 



CLEMENT MAROT 09 

There they vegetate. Enter " Abus," the spirit of corruption. 
He releases them gives them fresh life; they emerge and 
run riot: the "Sot dissolu" in the garb of a cleric, the 
"Sot trompeur" as a lawyer. "Abus" looks at the drowsy 
Vieux Monde and thinks that his appearance needs altering, 
He shaves him, but the change is for the worse and he only 
seems uglier than before. Then he resolves to make a New 
World. He begins to build it, but his blunders bring down 
the scaffolding. The noise awakens the Vieux Monde. He 
sits up in his chair and moralizes on events. And when 
he has said his say to the younger generation, he resumes 
his "train de Gros-Jean." 

Les Halles preferred "La Mere-Sotte," which was given 
on Shrove Tuesday, 1511. The Church, disguised as the 
Pope, was unmasked by her prelates and discovered to be 
the Mother of all Fools. The authorities got wind of the 
Mere-Sotte and the actors found themselves in prison. No 
Lord Chamberlain would have passed the plays of that time, 
and their audacity is astounding. At the "Saore" of 
Francis I, his last flirtation was enacted under his nose. 
He appeared on the stage as a Salamander: the reigning 
beauty as a barn-door fowl. This entertainment came under 
the category of "Sottye, Sermon, Moralite et Farce, avec 
autres choses morales et bonnes remonstrations." The author 
was a priest and his tonsure alone saved him, after this, 
from being thrown into the Seine. 

When we turn from the Drama and look for the national 
movement in literature, the progress was slower. Many 
parties were still in the field : the Boccaccian and the French, 
the learned and the colloquial* or, as Sainte-Beuve puts it, 



210 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

the Court and the Country. The Country seemed in 
abeyance. For a hundred years or so after Villon and 
Charles of Orleans, there was hardly a poet of the National 
School "The call to create was not yet distinct from the 
desire for knowledge. . . . Men professed verse-making, as 
they professed medicine or law, theology or history; and 
any literate man of that day could, at a pinch, rank among 
the Poets." 1 

The name of such mediocrities was legion. Jean Marot 
(the greater poet's father), Bude, Heroet, Bouchet, Dorat, 
and de Beze were recognized lights amongst them: the rest 
can safely remain in the oblivion which they have deserved. 
These Savants, whose aim was to write rhymed chronicles 
and metrical eulogies, looked down on the more natural 
verse-writers as the frivolous creatures of a drawing-room. 
Had they not been blind, they might have read the signs 
of the times. French was becoming the official language: 
the Law Courts were ordered to use it. There was growing 
up a new group of writers men of the town, not of the 
study who appealed to a larger audience than the bookmen had 
done : who spoke in a tongue which was stronger than that 
of their elders. They needed a voice to proclaim their ideas ; 
and the voice was there it was that of Clement Marot. 

His are the only poems that have come down to UK of 
the hundreds composed by his contemporaries. 2 They were 
amply rewarded by the fame they had in their own age, 

1 Sainte-Beuve: Tableau du XVIi&me Siicle." 
2 The best among these contemporaries were Melin Saint- 
Gelais, Brodeau (whom Marot called his son), Charles Fontai&e, 
Bonaventure des Purlers and Maurice Sc&ve. 



CLEMENT MAROT 811 

Melin Saint-Gelais, l the nephew of the Bishop Octavien, was, 
in his lifetime, almost as famous as Marot. Now lie is 
covered by kindly dust. 

The "gentil Maitre Clement", as Marot was called, made 
a great deal of noise in his time, some echo of which has 
sounded down through posterity. His career was that of a 
typical French poet in the sixteenth century. (t It combined 
all that was piquant in his generation the valour of a 
soldier, the manners of a courtier, brilliant gallantries, literary 
feuds, quarrels with the Sorbonne, and visits to the Prison 
of the Chatelet." Born about 1495, his life began in the 
purlieus of the Court. He was the son of Jean, or Jehannot 
Marot, poetaster in the retinue of Anne de Bretagne: first 
her Secretary, then her Valet de Garde-Robe, together with 
Jean Clouet (also the father of a famous son) and Jean 
Perreal, the Painter. A grander friend than these was the 
attendant of the Princess Renee, Madame de Soubise, who 
faithfully protected Jean's interests at Court. No wonder 
that his son said that he wished for no better fate than to 
step into his father's shoes. But Jean Marots favourite 
crony was his fellow-poet, Jean Lemaire, who had so say$ 
tradition a good deal of influence on the boy, Clement. 
We can imagine the two men discussing metre in the 
Marots" 1 parlour. Or we see him "rather late at evening " 
as he himself describes the lamp on the table, le 
bon veillard, his father, "working beside him, watching 
over him as carefully as shepherdesses, crouching near their 

1 He had a still grander connection. He was supposed to 
be descended from "La F6e M61usine/' a strange lineage for 
one who was originally brought up for the Church. 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

cottage fires, watch over their starlings or their magpies." 
Clements education was not elaborate; probably Nature 
and that same "bon veittard"wexe responsible for his accom- 
plishments. He himself has recorded them : 

J'appris les noms des quatre parts du monde, 
J'appris les noms des vents qui de U sortent, 
Leur qualites, et quel temps ils apportent, 
Dont les oiseaux, sages devins des shamps, 
M'avertissaient par leurs vols et leurs chants. l 

While still very young, he was sent to the University in 
the Rue Fouarre at Paris a strange, jolly villainous Paris, 
hardly the safest place for a boy not yet in his teens. He 
saw more of it when he had done with College and become 
a Basochien, a student of the Law, able to wander at his 
will. It was a paradoxical city : an inconceivable mixture of 
polish and barbarism, integrity and felony, free-thought and 
superstition. A Countess indites Latin love-letters to her 
Lord. The public executioner is burned to death in his 
house for refusing to behead some unpopular victim of the 
pillory. A procession carries the " CMsse** of Madame Sainte 
Genevieve through the town, in the hope of arresting a 
drought, a dont depuis ne cessa de pl&wvoir par Tespace de 
trois mois" Three rich Bakers, who have been for months 

1 ee I learned the four quarters of the globe, I learned the 
names of the winds which issue thence, their qualities and 
what weather they bring, of which the birds, sage soothsayers 
of the fields, were wont to warn me by their flight and their 
song/ 1 



CLEMENT MAHOT 

in prison for selling bread of insufficient weight , have to 
march disgraced through the streets. And yet money thefts 
are winked at in high places and Cardinals may sell what 
they like. 

The Basochiens were among the wildest spirits in Paris, 
and Clement Marot was the wildest of the Basochiens. They 
had convivial relations with other companies who vied with 
them in adventure: the Enfants Sans Souci, the Clerks of 
the Chatelet, and the Clerks of the Empire of Galilee. 
Together with these boon-companions, Cle'ment hobnobbed 
with all the ragamuffins of the city, lived with the water- 
men on the river-bank, fought the Watch, and scandalized 
the Law-court and University by the strange friends he 
brought there. The public Squares the Halles, the Greve, 
the Place Maubert, the Pierre-au-lait were his favourite 
haunts. He would loiter too by the Cloitre des Innocents, 
near St. Thomas du Louvre, "where singers and players of 
instruments made music ; r he would stop, as he strolled, at 
the church-doors, before which bands of alchemists in rags, 
crucible in hand, sought the philosopher's stone, or pursued 
the more profitable business of writing love-letters for 
chambermaids. The favourite taverns, crowded with royster- 
ing students, each with his bumper of red wine, were the 
Pomme de Pin au Castel, the Magdaleine & la Mule, or the 
famous Trois Poissons in the Faubourg St. Marcel. By the 
time he was fifteen, Marot was the Prince of Swashbucklers. 
At about that age he became, like all young gentlemen, 
the page of a Parisian nobleman Monsieur de Villeroi. 
The life of a page in the provinces was a discipline of pious 
courtesy and soldierly exercise ; but the same service in Paris 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

meant nothing better than an elaborate training for Ras- 
caldom. The next year, mercurial and precocious, Marot 
left his place, indulged in a love-affair and was made, like 
his father before him, a royal valet-de-chambre. 

His master was the Heir- Apparent, Francis, to whom, on 
his accession in 1515, Mercury presented his first poem, 
a fe Temple de Cupidon."" The King took a fancy to him 
and, after this, was constantly seeking his company " mon 
bwn alme varlet-de-chambre" as he called him. Clement 
had a reckless tongue and a lively store of anecdote, and 
his sovereign, who dreaded dulness more than death, always 
took him as his travelling companion. He was a person- 
able man : his eyes were brown and vivid, his skin bronzed, 
his forehead broad and round, his look flashing yet shifty. 
The Prince of Swashbucklers was bound also to be the 
Prince of Quarrellers, and the rest of his Court life was a 
tangle of loves and quarrels. His friends and enemies among 
the Court beauties were innumerable. At one time he has 
a quarrel with "all the ladies of Paris " and pursues it in 
embittered verse; at another he conceives a passion for one 
of them, an unknown Diane, who fixes him for rather longer 
than her rivals ; and all the time he is flirting with a score 
of charmers and writing sonnets to their eyes, their girdles 
and their spaniels. He fought with the King at Pavia and 
it is said saved his life by covering him on the battle- 
field. Made a prisoner with his master, he was, like many 
others, speedily liberated in consideration of all the booty 
that was taken. On his return to France, finding that Diane 
had grown cold, he abjured his love and turned his active 
imagination into new fields. It was about this time that 



CLEMENT MAROT 215 

he joined the Reformers, more from a love of adventure and 
of skirmishing with the police than from any real convic- 
tion. He was, if the truth he told, incapable of deep feel- 
ing, either in love or religion; hut he needed to use his 
energies and, it must in justice be added, that his keen 
mind took naturally to enlightened ideas. 

This phase of his life brings us to an interesting episode 
one which, perhaps, drew out the best that was in Mm. 
He was made valet-de-chambre to Margaret of Angoulerae. 
Poets, as we know, became Secretaries and Valets, even 
Bishops and Canons, at the shortest notice in reward for 
their works. Servant both of brother and sister, Marot 
gossiped with the one and was inspired in his art by the 
other. Some of his most appealing verses are due to Mar- 
garet. He wrote to his patroness in the language of love, 
and spoke of her charms in terms that were vivid, if some- 
times rather coarse. On this fact has been based the story 
of his love for her, and (which is far more incredible) of 
hers for him. It has even been asserted that she was his 
mistress. But Lavaux, another of her dependants, Jean 
Lemaire and many others, wrote with the same extrava- 
gance to the ladies who protected them. It is only Morot's 
superior fame which gave him singularity and thus stigma- 
tized his addresses to his princess. Besides, it is impossible 
to accept as true an incident so wholly out of keeping with 
Margaret's life and character. She was a bountiful provider 
of all his needs and his constant refuge in times of perse- 
cution. For henceforward Marat's scrapes are nearly always 
religious. 

There is a vein of pathos in this gay creature with his 



216 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

slight dilettante taste for Reformed doctrines, yet fated for 
many years to lead the life of the victim of belief. One is 
inclined to think that so much privation for a Cause must 
have gradually turned him into an enthusiast. His taste 
for guerilla warfare was at all events convenient, and the 
Reformers often used him as a ready tool Close upon his 
return from the war and during the absence of Margaret, 
he was cast into the Prison of the Chatelet for bragging 
with some impudence about the New Ideas; and was severely 
summoned before the Bishop of Chartres. He must have 
had something childish and disarming about him, for the 
prelate only condemned him to confinement in a comfortable 
house close to the Episcopal Palace. There is a story that 
the townsfolk of Chartres used to stand below his window 
and sing his own songs to cheer him, but his durance was 
very short. It was well for this quarreller this harlequin 
of the Reformation that he had powerful friends at Court 
besides Margaret and her brother. The Constable Montmo- 
rency ; Chancellor Duprat; Treasurer Robertet; the Cardinal de 
Tournon; Guillaume du Bellay ; the King's Mistress, Madame 
de Chateaubriand; Madame d'Albret, and the Ix>rraine 
family, were allies not to be despised. And, strange to say, 
he had quite as many in his own profession. Brodeau and 
Melin Saint-Gelais were his best-loved comrades, and men like 
Rabelais, Dolet, Bonaventure men of scholarship and science 
were also of his circle. 

No effort of friendship, however, could keep Marot out 
of prison. He was there again in 1537, this time for 
fighting the police and helping their prisoners to escape. 
He was set free again by a special order from the King* 



CLEMENT MAROT 

In 1530, Francis took him with him to Bayonne, when he 
went there to receive his second wife, Eleanor of Portugal 
"la plus joyeuse dame gifoncques 1 on mt as Marot wrote 
of her. In this year he married; but though he had a 
family, this was a fact that hardly counted in the life of a 
man who could not bear the slightest tie, and proclaimed 
his dislike of staying in a place for more than two weeks 
together. 

The following years were filled by vicissitudes. He was 
robbed; he was ill; he was again imprisoned for eating 
bacon in Lent; he petitioned the King in prose and verse, 
and finally landed himself in comparative prosperity at 
Lyons. This town, the Academe of France, grew into a 
favourite haunt of his; and he soon became a member of 
its choice literary circle the friend of all its scholars, of its 
poets and poetesses. To one of these blue-stocking Muses, 
"Jeanne Gaillard de Lyon, Femme de bon scavoir," he 
dedicated some of his airiest verses; another, and the most 
famous of them, Louise Labe*, can have been no more than 
an infant prodigy at the time of his visits; but he evi- 
dently knew her, for a local rhymer, anxious to please her, 
sends some inflated lines to promise her the praises of Marot. 
He accompanied Margaret and her retinue to his native 
town of Cahors, that he might do the honours to his lady ; 
but on the top of this, in 1583, came the terrible persecu- 
tion of the Protestants. Marot was denounced as the "Leader 
of a party ," and a domiciliary visit to his house in Paris 
resulted in the discovery of various books of magic and of 

1 Ever. 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

scandal, besides suspicious papers. He had been staying 
with one of his grand friends at Blois, and had just returned, 
when a hasty messenger warned him of his danger and he 
fled to Margarets court in Beam. Even that was not safe, 
and, leaving her his son as a page, he escaped to Italy and 
made for Ferrara. 

Here he was not without allies, for the Princess Renee, 
Louis XIFs second daughter, who had married Hercules 
d^Este, Duke of Ferrara, had taken with her to her new 
Court Madame de Soubise, Marot's first patroness in the 
days of Anne de Bretagne. Renee herself was a centre of 
the Renaissance, with strong Protestant leanings. She was 
plain and lame, like her sister Claude, but learned, subtle 
and a great talker, given to astrology and speculation. The 
Italians she disliked and she surrounded herself with French 
courtiers, though she tolerated a few Ferrarese poets who 
wrote verses in her honour. She was fondest of the women- 
scholars of France, to whom she and her friend, Mademoi- 
selle de Pons, gave the tone ; and she loved to gather round 
her the French Reformers impelled at once by her friendship 
for Calvin and her distaste for Papal cavillings. This wa$ 
in spite of her husband, a fervent Italian and a strong ally 
of the Pope and the Emperor. She received Marot like 
Ovid: so he tells us in his "Coq a Fane," which was 
written at Ferrara. But the Duke, hampered by her pedants 
and in nervous dread of the Reformers, sent them all 
packing, Marot amongst them, and hedged in his wife with 
Italians. 

Marot went to Venice, whence he implored the Dauphin 
to help his return. At last, greatly owing to Paul IIF 



CLEMENT MAROT 219 

plea for tolerance, the Protestant fugitives were pardoned 
on condition that they abjured their heresy. In 1536, 
Marot travelled with a crowd of them to Lyons, and though 
his retractation has never been proved, it is probable that 
he made it. At any rate, three years later, the King again 
received him. He found an unexpected enemy at Court in 
the poet Sagon, the Voice of the Sorbonne, who looked upon 
Marot as a pernicious innovator, and organized against him 
a formidable party of busybodies versifiers and ladies 
Madame de Chateaubriand, Marofs former friend, with the 
rest. His rhymes, his invention of words, his person, his 
character, his religious views, were sharply attacked. He met 
the assault well supported by his allies, Bonaventure and 
Fontaine, and, in the end, seems more or less to have 
triumphed. The faithful King gave him a house and garden, 
but, even so, he could not settle down. He mixed him- 
self up in Court intrigues and then proceeded to Paris, 
where he plotted for the Reformers once more. He en- 
dangered his luck by a friendship with Vatable, the heretical 
commentator on the Psalms and Proverbs. 

It may have been this friendship which inspired Marot 
with his idea of writing a rhymed version of the Psalms 
a task which he accomplished so successfully that Calvin 
had them set to music. They became the rage, both at 
Court and in the market-place. Francis presented thirty 
of them to the Emperor Charles V when he passed through 
Paris, and Charles paid for them handsomely with imperial 
gold. Every royal personage, King, Dauphin, Dauphine and 
Margaret, had a special favourite which they knew by heart, 
and sang even while out hunting. They were an excellent 



220 THE FBENCH RENAISSANCE 

refuge too for temper. When the Dauphine, Catherine de 
Medicis, was too much aggrieved with her faithless husband, 
she took refuge in chanting: 

Vers FEterael, des opprimes le Pere, 
Je m'en iiai lui montrant Fimpropere 
Que Ton me fait. 

It is difficult to recognize the Psalm, but easy to imagine 
the relief the words must have given. Humming Marof s 
Psalms quickly grew into a fashion ; it was a sign of good 
tone which largely increased their circulation. They were 
set to other airs beside those which Calvin had circulated: 
to Vaudeville and to dance-tunes : le Bransle de Poitou and 
the like. They did much for the Reformation more than 
many weightier works. The gay diffusion of propaganda 
seemed a fitting mission for this butterfly of the Protestant 
Cause and this, at least, he achieved without disaster. 

His prosperity, as usual, did not last long. The Sorbonne 
grew venomous about the Psalms; the King at last turned 
against him and he was once more forced to flee, this time 
to Geneva. He was now surrounded by displeasure, neither 
party approving of him. The Conservatives thought him a 
heretic ; the Reformers, aggravated by his mundane popular- 
ity, condemned him as lukewarm, They would not let him 
stay in Geneva and he went to Piedmont, his last place 
of exile. Here he wrote his poem to celebrate the King's 
victory at Cerisole, and he may have enjoyed its success, 
for soon after its despatch he was allowed to return to 
Court. His triumph was a short one, lasting only for a 
few months. He went to Turin and died there, in 1544. 



CLEMENT MAROT 

He was not yet fifty, but he was worn by his motley for- 
tunes; and he left few legacies behind him unless it were 
an illegitimate daughter whom he bequeathed to the care 
of Margaret. "Tel fut Fexistence passablement agitee du 
gentil Maitre Clement." So we may end with the old 
Chronicler and find there is little more to say. 

Sur le printemps de ma jeunesse folle 
Je ressemblais a Fhirondelle qui vole 
Puls <&, puis la; Fage me conduisait 
Sans peur ni soin oil le coeur me disait, 1 

Thus he wrote in one of his serene moods. Poets can. 
believe anything of themselves, and at such times he also 
imagined that he loved a quiet literary life at least he 
said so to a friend. 

Tous deux aimons la musique chanter., 
Tous deux aimons les livres frequenter 
Tous deux aimons & d'aucuii ne medire, 
Tous deux aimons un meilleur propos dire, 
Tous deux aimons gens pleins d'honnetete. s 

It is a sunny good-natured picture of himself true enough 
as far as his character went, and a good specimen of his 

1 In the spring-time of my wild youth^ I was like a swallow 
flying now here, now there. Age led me^ fearless and careless 
there where my heart bade me wander. 

2 Both of us love to sing music; both of us love to seek 
the company of books; both of us love to speak evil of no 
man; both of us love to tell a good story; both of us love the 
folk that are full of goodness. 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

easy-going poetry. It is hard at this distance of time to 
estimate him rightly- His verses were the bedside book of 
Turenne. La Fontaine reminds the great soldier, in a letter, 
how once when he was journeying to take command of the 
Army and La Fontaine was his travelling companion, Tu- 
renne beguiled the way by quoting one after another of 
Marofs poems. But Turenne belonged to an age more 
artificial than Marot's, one to which he might well seem 
the embodiment of candour* There are delightful bits of 
autobiography in his "Adolescence Clementine," which he 
wrote in the midst of his troubles; there are lines which 
have the charm which arrests. But if at his best he is 
charming "le poete du sourire," as he has been called 
at his worst he is very dull, and whoever has the courage 
to search for his smiles must make up his mind to wade 
through pages of tedium. His true vocation was being 
natural. He described the flight of a bird, or a peasants 
cottage, with a simple pen dipped in colours so fresh that 
they seem of yesterday. But much of his time went in a 
laureate^ duties. Compliments, hyperboles, conceits, flowed 
with mechanical plenty from his hand. His native grace 
does not desert him even here, and some of these state 
lyrics are fascinating. There is a delicious little Ballade, 
pretending to come from the Baby Jeanne de Navarre, and 
inspired by joy at re-union with her mother. It is all about 
nothing : her journey home down the Loire, with her squirrel 
and her parrot, "vetu de vert comme un bouquet de mar- 
jolaine" her resolution to learn the "Danse du Compaignon " ; 
but it is tossed off so airily that the verse itself seems a 
sylph-like dance something that charms us by its movement. 



BONA VENTURE DBS PERIERS 

As to his intellectual claims, he was quite aware of his 
purpose. He tried to revive Villon and re-edited him him- 
self. He was, it has been said, an amateur belonging to 
the New Ideas by his taste more than by force of mind. 
But belong to them he did. and very consciously. u You 
will find," he wrote to the still unborn child of the Duchess 
Rene'e, "a century in which you can quickly learn all that 
a child can understand. Come then boldly, and when you 
grow older, you will find something better still : you will 
find a war already begun the war against ignorance and 
its insensate troops. "* l 

To know how to snap your fingers gracefully in the face 
of "the insensate troops" is an art in itself: to be on the 
right side, a yet greater one. Perhaps these are not the 
least among Marofs titles to fame. 

II 

BONAVENTURE DES PERIERS 

The life of Clement Marot was practically over before Jeanne 
d'Albret became prominent at her mother's Court. Other 
names were attracting attention, and by the time she had 
grown up, two men had become conspicuous there, too im- 
portant in their own time and in their relations to the 
Queen of Navarre to be passed over slightly, though they 
are little known to posterity. These were the free-thinking 
Scholar-poets, Bonaventure des PeYiers and Etienne Dolet. 
The first really belongs to the days before Jeanne's return 

(( Avant-Naissance. " 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

to her parents, but his short story is so tragic that it finds 
no place in a general picture of the Court. Bonaventure 
was one of the group of men who had, in 153, translated 
the whole Bible into French. Calvin and Lefebre were his 
colleagues. He soon proclaimed himself a champion of the 
New Ideas. An adventurer in thought., he belonged to no 
sect. He had a daring tongue which often brought him 
into danger. His constant refuge and the object of his 
chief affection was Margaret. She made him her valet and 
her secretary early in his career, but she could not ensure 
his safety. After the affair of the Placards he had to 
flee to Lyons, the metropolis of tolerance, and here he saw 
the best literary company to be had in France. When 
matters had smoothed down again he returned to Margaret, 
who kept him on in spite of his frequent turbulence and 
the censure she received for supporting a heretic. 

He was safest when he was in harness editing Marot's 
works or writing his own. His versatile pen followed his 
changeful moods. It varied between careless mirth and reckless 
sarcasm: between his "Nouvelles recreations et joyeux devis," 
and his great book, "Cymbalum Mundi" a Pantagruelian 
satire, which was burnt soon after it appeared, by the common 
hangman. It was the publication of this volume which put 
an end to his sojourn at the Court of N&rac. It drew 
down condemnation from Calvin and Robert Estienne, besides 
the wrath of the Sorbonne. It was also an offence against 
Margaret's code of Rules for a Christian life, and Bonaven- 
ture had to take the consequences. He was exiled from 
B^arn and his name was erased from the list of her Staff, 
But her heart was tender towards him ; the court discipline 



BONA VENTURE DBS PERIERS 225 

forced her to severity, but none the less she understood Ms 
wild and bitter sincerity. She kept sight of him at Lyons, 
whither he returned, and put him under a friend^s care; 
she helped him with money from afar, through her gracious 
almoner, Mademoiselle St. Father. 

He presently repented with as much force as he had 
sinned, and Margaret, moved by his distress and the prayers 
of his friend, Diane de Poitiers, consented to take him back 
into her service. The experiment could hardly have been a 
success, for, a short time after, he was once more in Lyons 
where deep despair overtook him. His courage deserted 
him; his brain was full of gloomy imaginings. In a fit of 
black melancholy he threw himself on his sword and died, 
leaving his writings to Margaret "the prop and safeguard 
of all goodness", as he called her in his last testament. l 
His death was a great shock to her he was one of the 
people she loved. 

He was also one of her many links with the city of 
Lyons. Etienne Dolet, whose record was longer and no 
less tragic, is another. A third, and a greater, was the 
immortal Rabelais who lived there for so long. To under- 
stand these men it is necessary to understand the intellectual 
atmosphere of their favourite town, and the people that 
they found in it. Both spent their best days there and 
were for some time fellow-citizens : but Rabelais was the first 
to arrive and had published his "Gargantua" in 1533 a 
year before Dolet became his neighbour. If we look at 
Dolet first, it is only to dear space for the Titan Rabelais : 
for the figure that made an epoch in the history of the world. 

1 1548. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER XIV 

Histoire de Lyon : PARADIN. 

Histoire de Notre Temps: PARADIN. 

QEuvres poetiques de Louise Labe. 

Le Debat de F Amour: LOUISE LAB&. 

Les Soupirs : OLIVIER DE MAG-NY. 

CEuvres de Clement Marot. 

Poetes fran9ais depuis le ISieme siecle jusqua Malesherbe. 

Vie de Louise Labe: BLANCHEMAIN (preface to her works). 

Collection Litteraire : KERALIO. 

Dictionnaire Historique: BAYLE. 

Dictionnaire de Colletet. 

Dictionnaire de la Croix du Maine. 

Causeries de Lundi: SAINTE-BEUVE. 

Vie de Clement Marot: H&RICAULT (Biographical Preface to 

CEuvres). 
Vie de Rabelais: MILLET. 



CHAPTER XIV 

LYONS AND LOUISE LABE 

J'ai trouve plus d'hcmn6tete 
Et de noblesse en ce Lyon, 
Que n'ai, pour avoir fr6quente 
D'autres btes un Million: 

CLEMENT MAROT. 

THE town of Lyons had a fateful association with Mar- 
garet's fortunes. Here she heard the news of the disaster 
at Pa via ; here her first husband died and all her friends, 
one after another, took up their abode; here, in 1541, she 
lingered with her brother, and here she arrived seven years 
later to learn the suicide of Bonaventure des Periers. She 
was lodging in the Convent of the Celestins, and she wrote 
a song to the rose-tree in its garden to commemorate her 
sorrow and associate it with her favourite city. 

Lyons was at that time the Athens of France. It was 
on the frontier of Italy, a position which made it a centre 
alike of wealth and of beauty. Italian merchants kept up 
a ceaseless traffic of stuffs and jewels; Florentine architects 
settled there and, before the reign of Charles VIII, had 
already enriched it with exquisite buildings and given it a 
reputation for taste. Its pageants on state occasions were 
the prettiest in France, and the booth of the Florentine 
Confectioners at one of these functions was a nine days'* 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

wonder in the kingdom. All the artists and scholars, 
travelling to and from Italy, stopped there, often for months, 
on their way. Others were attracted by the famous Lyonese 
printing-presses to which they brought their works for 
publication, and nearly every writer of repute came there 
at some time in his career. Besides this, the incessant 
Italian wars made it a frequent pied-^-terre for King and 
Court a fact as good for society as for trade. 

All these intellectual influences created an atmosphere of 
free-thought and tolerance which soon turned it into a refuge 
for every sort of spiritual outlaw, though more of these 
were thinkers than active Reformers ; created, too, an atmos- 
phere of poetry and letters which added charm to solid 
scholarship. At first these philosophers and students of 
Lyons, in their zest for enlightenment, practically made 
one party with the Mystics of Meaux. But later, when 
sects grew more defined, they divided; and Reform and 
Renaissance were the watchwords of separate, if friendly 
circles. It is the distinction of Margaret that she always 
belonged to both, and the writers of Lyons owed much 
to her. 

Athens of old was practical as well as literary, and Lyons 
followed its example. Its civic and philanthropic arrange- 
ments could teach more than one sound lesson to us of 
1901. Its Corporation had apparently discovered the art 
of combining Christianity with economics. Their excellent 
organization began in the days of famine, early in the 
fifteenth century, when they did wonders with their public 
kitchens and their impromptu shelters for the outlying poor 
and for foreigners. When the dearth was over, tibe eight 



LYONS AND LOUISE LABE 

famine-officers who had superintended the affair remained, 
and became permanent "Recteurs de TAumone" and volun- 
tary servants of their town. A Marchand des Ble's was 
added, and under them worked eleven paid officers, includ- 
ing four Beadles, "pour tenir les pauvres en crainte," and 
two " Pedagogues " of Homes for the destitute. There was 
one for orphan boys, who were tenderly educated, "selonla 
capacite des petits enfants"; and a Priory disgraced for its 
abuses was given by the city for this purpose. And there 
was a corresponding Home for girls under a woman, where 
they learned to sew and to spin and even to read. Every 
year there was a procession of the schools and their " Peda- 
gogues" men and women followed by the monks and Cor- 
poration and the poor of the town : the little boys singing 
"Fill Dei, miserere nobis"; the little girls, ignorant of 
Latin, "Mere de J&us, priez pour nous." Sunday was the 
day which these wise people of Lyons devoted to their 
Committees and visits of inspection. Every Sabbath the 
Rectors visited the schools, and chose the children best 
suited to the "gens de bien" who required them for service 
and trade, or sometimes "jf or adoption. They were always 
taken on two weeks'* trial and then, if all was well, the City 
gave them their clothes. On Sundays, too, out-door relief 
was administered, and the Rectors met in the Cloister of 
St. Bonaventure's Convent to hear the complaints of the 
poor and give or refuse assistance. "Since the needy take 
advantage of Truth," says the chronicler of Lyons, the 
Corporation gave one of the city-towers for the confinement 
of such as disobeyed the Rectors; but then, as he adds, 
"le$ gens d^honneur* have no wish to be severe, and the 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

punishment was not very rigorous. Lyons seems, indeed, 
to have been the home of organized indulgence. The citi- 
zens did not wait for noblesse to oblige them; they found 
richesse enough incentive and gave with open-handed 
generosity. There was a Moulin de TAumone on the Rhone, 
which ground grain for the destitute and for all the chari- 
table institutions ; a public granary that stored it for them ; 
and a free bakery that baked their bread. There was a 
great hospital, a model of its kind, managed by women; 
and another one for the pest a disease which consequently 
disappeared from the place. Vice, says the old historian, 
became almost as scarce; and if we cannot quite accept this 
statement, we need not wholly reject it Philanthropy is 
seldom picturesque because it is seldom personal; but the 
order and kindness of the Lyonese citizens affect us like a 
fine Flemish picture, full of light and warmth, and their 
civic arrangements read like the ideal community of a 
Thomas More or a Rabelais. Their town might well 
have been the capital of Utopia independent of nationality, 
untrammelled by prejudices, open to all the friends of 
Truth. 

In spite of their lavish gifts to the poor, the beauty- 
loving people of Lyons showed no economy in personal 
adornment, " Les accoutrements etranges dont les Seigneurs 
et Dames de Lyon usaient en ce temps," is the title of a 
contemporary's description of their fashions. "ChangefulneBS 
and caprice in dress," he says, "have always been natural 
to the French more than to any other nation "" ; and Lyons 
seems to have been distinguished for taste in its caprices. 

Yet its people were not frivolous in daily life. Its society 



LYONS AND LOUISE LABE 2S1 

was as different as its charity from that of other places. 
It was a city of poets particularly poetesses and men and 
women compared their poems with each other. They and 
their fellows in the world of letters formed a charming 
little circle, "la Societe Angelique", which met at la Mon- 
tagne Fourviere, the house of a certain Sieur de Langes. 
Marot belonged to it when he came to Lyons, and so did 
most of the visitors of distinction. Of the resident " Ange- 
lics"" most are only known *in the historical heaven to which 
they have long since departed, but they were prophets in 
their own day. There was the interesting family of the 
Sceves, all poets : two sisters, Claudine and Sybille, and a 
brother Maurice the most gifted of the three architect, 
painter and musician, as well as sonneteer. And there were, 
besides, the usual Scholar-rhymers, a charming Pleiade of 
women whose names have survived their songs. A list of 
women's names women of a past century is like a list of 
flowers, which does not burden the memory, but conjures 
up certain sweet scents by the mere virtue of sound. There 
was Jacquelin Stuart, the most beautiful amongst them ; and 
Clmence de Bourges, an academic siren who played upon 
sweet instruments ; and Jeanne Gaillard of the golden pen, 
to whom Marot wrote verses ; and Louise Labs', the leader of 
them all, with Pernette de Guillet, second to her in reputation, 
Louise Lab(2 cannot be dismissed with the rest. Both as 
woman and as poet she was a personage, and created romance 
wherever she moved. Pemette also deserves more than a 
word. Contemporary Lyons was almost equally proud of 
both ladies. Criticism was not the strong point of the six- 
teenth century ; it could hardly have existed together with 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

its generous, undiscriminating enthusiasm for all talent and 
learning. Genius was a word unused ; or, if used, it applied 
alike to scholar and to creator, "De deux dames Lyon- 
naises, en ce temps excellentes en scavoir et poesies," is 
the heading given by the old chronicler of Lyons to his 
chapter on these two Muses. "In this reign and in this 
century," he begins, "there flourished at Lyons two ladies, 
like two radiant stars; and two noble virtuous spirits or, 
rather, we should say two Sirens. Both overflowed with 
a great plenty and mixture of 'all happy influences and 
precious understandings more than any other persons of 
their sex in our time. The one was called Louise Labe, 
the which had a countenance more angelic than human, but 
it was nothing in comparison with her mind .... created 

by God to be marvelled at as a prodigy by mankind 

The other lady was called Pernette de Guillet, very witty, 
very gentle and most chaste, the which has lived in great 
renown, because of her widespread knowledge. 1 ' l 

It is quite refreshing to find this chapter of heated hyper- 
bole followed by another, " Concerning a wondrous Drought 
in the Lyonnais," and to escape from such overpowering 
intellect and beauty. But the chronicler might have found 
more to say about his goddesses. Pernette, who died in 
1545, was an expert in tongues, dead and living, and also 
a graceful musician "so well-skiUed in all instruments of 
music, whether lute, spinet, or others, that she astounded 
the most experienced." In spite of her gifts she was modest, 
and could sometimes be natural in her verse. 

1 Paradin: Histoire de Lyon. 



LYONS AND LOUISE LABE 

Sans eonnaissance aucune en mon printemps j'etais; 

Libre sans liberte, car rien ne regrettais 

En ma vague pensee, 

De mots et vains desirs follement dispenses. l 

So she wrote and her song is not without melody. She 
published a volume of her poems : u Rimes de gentille et 
vertueuse Dame Pernette de Guillet " about love and friend- 
ship which ends by her giving the palm to " honnte amour " : 
a very proper conclusion for an accomplished spinster who 
had the good and bad fortune to live in the days of the 
Renaissance. 

Louise Labe had a different sort of fame and was a good 
deal more -than an illustrious blue-stocking. In her intense 
feeling she is a modern. Though her lyre has but one or 
two strings, they are such as continue to vibrate and make 
us respond to them. She could touch the chord of suffer- 
ing the suffering of a woman^s heart with an impulsive 
force that astonished in those heartless days of stilted grief. 
Her lyric eloquence and her story have no parallel, unless we 
turn to Georges Sand ; and although the term is relative, she 
may not unjustly be called the Georges Sand of the Renais- 
sance. Her father was a rope-maker and she was born at Lyons 
in 15&5 or ^6. ' At sixteen, "la belle Cordiere," as she was 
called, was already a prodigy of learning and a very pretty 
poetess, as well as a notable rider and unerring shot. In 
spite of the old chronicler, her "angelic countenance * was 

1 I lived without any sort of knowledge in my spring-time ; 
free, yet innocent ; for among all the words and vain desires 
that I squandered so gaily, my vague thoughts never found one 
to regret. 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

really a very plain one, if the only existing portrait of her 
is to be trusted; and her motto, "Belle a soi" (the anagram 
of her name), may be a piece of subtle irony on her part. 
But she must have had the gift of fascination which sets 
beauty at nought. It was at this time about 1542 that 
the French army rode through Lyons on their way to 
besiege Perpignan, then occupied by the Imperial troops. 
Louise, tired of her sedentary life and excited by the tramp 
and stir of the troops, resolved to turn soldier and share 
their fortunes. So she joined them in full armour on her 
horse, and rode away from Lyons to the wars. A rumour 
obtained afterwards that the Dauphin, who was with his 
regiment, had seen her and admired her in the town and 
that this was the occasion of her departure. Or perhaps it 
was she who fell in love with him. At all events the 
"Capitaine Loyse," as she was called, for all her soldierly 
shooting and endurance of hardships, lost her girl's heart 
before the walls of Perpignan and it was said at the time 
that the Dauphin was the cause. 

When the French won the day and the siege came to an 
end, Louise returned to Lyons. She found suitors there in 
plenty. The well-known Italian poet, Luigi Almanni, pro- 
posed to her; but she rejected him and married a certain 
Ennemond Perrin, a rope-maker like her father. He worked 
hard at his trade and allowed his young wife as much 
latitude for her heart as for her head. They lived in a 
house at the corner of the Rue Notre Dame de Comfort, 
close by the meeting of the Rhone and the Saone, and she 
made herself a large library, the shelves of which were 
gradually filled by choice books and manuscripts. In this 



LYONS AND LOUISE LABE 235 

room she collected round her all the artists and persons of 
interest within reach, to discuss fact and fancy ^ or to hold 
fencing-bouts of wit with her. The talk was varied by 
music, for she, like Pernette and Clemence, was a charming 
musician. Sometimes the company assembled in the garden 
a delicious place watered by fountains and divided into 
" copse, flower-garden and greensward; sometimes she re- 
galed them with a "collation d'exquises confitures." The 
meetings became an institution. Poets from distant places 
attended them old friends like St.-Gelais and Charles 
Fontaine amongst them. It grew into a regular salon: 
the first of its kind in France, the land of salons. Louise 
was fitted to found the dynasty of hostesses ; she understood 
the social art of uniting an interest in subjects with an 
interest in their votaries. 

But she was a woman and a poetess and, apart from her 
salon, the personal was bound to prevail. She had lovers 
in succession. While she held her brilliant parties down- 
stairs, her husband, who did not care for intellect, sat up- 
stairs coiling his ropes. He seems to have behaved like a 
second father to her, and Louise gave him nothing more 
than a rather supercilious affection. At first she was satis- 
fied by the friendship of her admirers. Maurice Sceve was 
for long her favourite crony, her help and her teacher in 
poetry. Like our English Drayton, and so many of his 
contemporaries in all nations, he was a Platonist with a 
belief in the Idea, and tried to work out his theory in his 
verse* Often he worked in Louise^s company in the cool 
library most likely, where they could put out their hands 
and take their " Phaedo " from the shelves. But as far as report 



236 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

went, there was no thought of love between them. Friendship 
with women meant quite as much to her as friendship with 
men. She had the most romantic relations with Clemence 
de Bourges and at one time she was inseparable from her. 
This lady, half poet, half pedant, whose gift for the 
spinet made the Dauphin and Catherine de Medicis wish to 
know her, was one of the many "pearls of Lyons,*" and 
almost on a level with her friend. She repaid the love of 
Louise and dedicated her verses to her; and Louise, for her 
part, wrote her the already-quoted letter exhorting women to 
assert their minds and become the companions of men. But 
Clemence lost her heart to a lover who returned her feeling. 
Louise was her confidante and Clemence, in despair at her 
own rhymes, implored her comrade to make some love- 
poems for her. Louise complied and determined that her 
poetry should take the young man by storm. She succeeded 
so well that he fell in love, first with the verses and after- 
wards with herself. Clemence was deserted, and it is small 
wonder that she broke with her friend and never spoke to 
her again. She endfd by dying of a broken heart, on the 
death of the man she was engaged to. He was killed in 
the war of 1562; de Peyrat was his name, but whether he 
was the same as the hero of the quarrel has not been 
ascertained. 

The Capitaine Loyse had affairs with other men, generally 
poets, but nothing had hitherto gone deep and the real 
drama of her life was to coma In 1550, there passed 
through the town of Lyons a certain grand gentleman, the 
Seigneur de Saint-Marcel, who was on his way to Rome 
on an embassy to the Pope. In his train he had a young 



LYONS AND LOUISE LABE 

secretary, anxious for travel and adventure, Olivier de 
Magny, himself a poet and a friend of the great Hansard, 
the new star just rising over France. During his stay he 
was, as a matter of course, presented to Louisa He was 
"vif, ardent, bien pris de sa petite taille," and four or five 
years younger than she was. Louise, then twenty-five, was 
tall, with full lips, golden hair, and black eyebrows. In her 
eyes he seemed illumined by all the glory of Parnassus. 
The name of Ronsard had a powerful attraction for her 
and lent a glamour to the man who was his friend. His 
own gifts did more. They fell in love at first sight driven, 
as he tells her, by destiny and he lost no time in pouring 
out sonnets to her. 

"Car des lors que fatalement 
J'en approchai premierement" 

so he begins one of them. 

"Le voyant aimer fatalement 
Pitie je pris de sa triste aventure" 

Such was her answer, hardly truthful, for she seems to 
have loved as instinctively as he. In spite of Maurice 
Sceve and Plato, she had hitherto achieved nothing better 
than songs for the lute; but now, under Magnus inspira- 
tion, her lyrics acquired a deeper significance and rose from 
verse to poetry. Her sonnets to him still vibrate with 
emotion and are as simple as his to her and his "Soupirs* 
express the quick experience of his heart. They met in 
"the little gardens " of the city, and wrote their poems in 
the brief hours of their separation. The husband behaved 
as conveniently as ever. He came into the room, says 



238 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Magny, dressed in a greasy apron ; and when he found him 
with his wife, out he went again with the greatest com- 
plaisance. This went on for a while ; but ambassadors have 
to depart and their secretaries must follow them. The lovers 
tore themselves asunder. Olivier de Magny started for Rome 
and, while he was crossing the Alps, Louise spent her time 
in writing Elegies. Though inconsolable, she allowed her 
friends to read them. Like others of the poetic race, in 
time she let them persuade her to publish, and one of the 
great printers of Lyons brought out two volumes in one year. 
Gratified vanity and constant ennui helped to cool her 
passion ; she could not live without immediate excitement and 
Olivier's absence began to pall upon her. Louise was nothing 
if not literary, and this time her choice fell on a young 
lawyer of course desperately in love with her who was writ- 
ing a history of Lyons. But all the while she was conscious 
that she was merely using him as a distraction and that her 
heart belonged to Olivier. She felt she was degrading her- 
self and resolved to give up the lawyer. She was in pro- 
cess of separating from him when Magny suddenly returned. 
He had been consoling himself in much the same way in 
Italy, but his real feeling was for her and, impelled 
by it, he broke away from Rome to catch one sight of 
her face. He was greeted in Lyons by the story of her 
faithlessness and found the rumours but too true. Her 
renunciation of his rival was of no use. Magny, infuriated, 
had but one wish : to avenge his love. His means of ful- 
filling his aim were not very creditable. He, wrote her a 
sonnet so insulting that it broke her capricious heart. She 
was in sorry plight. The lawyer was as bitter against her 



LYONS AND LOUISE LABE 39 

as Magny, and she had not only lost two lovers, but made 
two enemies. The sonnet did a great deal of mischief. 
The ladies of Lyons had long been feeling jealous of her 
social success and always talked of her with scorn as a 
Plebeian. Now they shunned her, and her salon (for she 
bravely maintained her literary traditions) was only attended 
by men. Her easy-going husband was faithful to her, but 
he did not live long after her parting with Magny. When 
he died he left her his fortune, and she retired to her 
country-house at Parcieu, a little way out of the town. 
Here she remained, and only appeared on rare occasions at 
Lyons. On one of these, when staying with an old friend, 
a Florentine merchant, Tommaso Fortini, she was seized 
with a violent illness. It broke her health and she died at 
Parcieu, that year or the next 1565 or '66 leaving large 
sums to the poor. Her death was a test of the love that 
her town bore her. "Her funeral was a sort of triumph," 
says a chronicler; "she was carried through the city with 
her face uncovered, and her head crowned with flowers .... 
Death could do [nothing to disfigure her, and the people 
of Lyons covered her grave with tears and with blos- 
soms." 

" Enfin elle savait tout et rneme beaucoup plus qu'elle n'eut 
du savoir .... Courtisane commode, mais courtisane commode 
pour les gens d'esprit." Such is the summary of an old 
critic who lived long enough after her to give an impartial 
judgment. We cannot be surprised that Calvin condemned 
her; so did many others who were less rigorous than he. 
To recognize her powers we have only to turn to her book 
of poems and listen to its music to the cries that came 



340 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

from the depths of a heart truly human, however it was 
misgoverned. Here is one of them : 

"Je vis, je meurs: je me brule et me noye; 
J'ai chaud extreme en endurant froidure; 
La vie m'est et trop molle et trop dure, 
J'ai grands ennuis entremeles de joie, 



Men bien s'en va et a jamais il dure: 
Tout en un coup je s&che et je verdoye. 
Ainsi Amour inconstammement me mene. 
Et quand je pense avoir plus de douleur 
Sans y penser je me trouve hors de peine." 

She says that "le temps met fin aux hautes Pyramides," 
but that her love, far from waning, grows stronger as it 
grows older. Sometimes her verse becomes more impassioned : 

"Si de mes bras te tenant acolle, 
Comme du lierre est Farbre encercele, 
La Mort venait de mon aise envieuse 
Bien je mourrais, plus que vivante heureuse." 

Or there is this sonnet: 

"Tout aussitdt que je commence a prendre 
Dans le mol lit le repos d6sir6, 
Mon triste esprit, hors de moi retir&, 
S*en va vers toi incontinent se rendre. 
Lors m'est avis que dedans mon sein tendre 
Je tiens le bien oil j'ai tant aspir6, 
Et pour lequel j*ai si haut soupir^ 
Que de sanglots j'ai souvent cuid6 fendre, l 

1 I have often thought I should burst. 



LYONS AND LOUISE LABE 841 

Oh doux sommeilj oil imit a nioi heureuse ! 

Plaisant repos plein de tranquillite 

Continuez toutes les nuits mon songe ! 

Et si jamais ma pauvre l &me 

Ne doit avoir de Men en verite, 

Faites au moiiis qu'elle en ait en mensonge/' 

She had her playful as well as her intense moods. Her 
longest work is a poem interpersed by prose, "Le dbat 
de la Folie et de F Amour," dedicated to Clemence before 
their quarrel. Folly and Love contend for mastery, in lang- 
uage that is full of delicious affectation and dainty conceits. 
It gives us much the same pleasure as some trim grove of 
clipped trees, where artifice is charming for its own sake 
and makes no pretence to seem natural. The characters of 
the piece discuss, amongst other themes, the metaphysics of 
elegance. 

" He," says one, " who makes no effort to please anybody, 
whatever perfections he possesses, gets no more pleasure from 
them than he who wears a flower inside his sleeve .... But 
he who wishes to please broods on his aim without ceasing ; 
mirrors and remirrors the creature he loves; pursues the 
virtues he knows will please her, and dedicates himself to 
such tastes as are the contraries of himself. . . . even as he 
who carries a nosegay in his hand can tell for certain from 
which flower cometh the perfume which is most pleasant to 
his senses .... And what shall we say of women whose 
dress and ornaments are made, if anything is made, to 
please? Is it possible to adorn a head more excellently 

1 "Poure" in the original text. 

16 



THE FRENCH EENAISSANCE 

than women do and will go on doing to eternity? Is it 
possible to have the hair better gilded, waved, or curled? 
Head-gear more becoming than when they are dressed a 
TEspagnole .... a la Fran^aise ... a la Grecque ? And 
with all this splendour, their garments are clean as clean 
as the leaves round summer fruit." 

The words of Louise Labe leave us with a portrait of 
herself the sumptuous woman of the Renaissance, ready for 
all sides of life the poet dreaming over her lyre the 
scholar intent on her Greek, and yet not too proud or too 
busy to look in her mirror. 



ETIENNE DOLET 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER XV 

Life of Etienne Dolet: CHRISTIE 
Dictionnaire Historique: BAYLE. 
Le Second Enfer etc.: ETIENNE DOLET. 

Deux Dialogues de Platon, Philosophe divin et surnaturel,, 
nouvellement traduites en langue fran^aise par Etienne Dolet : 

LYON, 



CHAPTER XV 
(15201546) 

KTIENNK DO LET 

IF Lyons was a town of poets, it was also a town of 
printers. Bale and Geneva had hitherto been the centres 
of printing and it was not far from either. There were 
two hundred presses in Lyons and all the most famous 
printers lived there: Jean de la Tourne, Juste, Gryphlus, 
Nourry, and eventually Dolet. The Rue la Merciere, near 
the river, was given up to them ; it gleamed with the great 
gilt signs hung out before each house : a griffin for Gryphfus* 
an axe for Dolet, and so on for the rest. Inside, Correctors 
stooped over their desks and authors came in and out to 
superintend the publication of their books. Gryphius was 
the publisher of learned works he brought out Rabelais'* 
pamphlets, and Rabelais and Dolet were his Readers; 
Nourry was the man for popular writers, and he printed 
" PantagraeL" Erasmus, Bude, everyone of note, sent their 
manuscripts to Lyons, and even the Estiennes' firm in Paris 
was eclipsed by its younger rivals. This was the world 
to which Etienne Dolet was to belong. His figure stands 
out in his generation as boldly as that of Louise Labe*. 
"C'est assez vecu en tenebresP he once cried, and that 
cry was the epitome of his history. He did not flee 



246 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

from the shadows; he fought them, sword in hand, to 
the end. 

Fierce and fastidious, half cynic, half enthusiast, his path 
in life was bound to be a chequered one. His pugnacious 
instinct was even stronger than his love of study, and his 
bitter tongue cost him many friends. Perhaps this loss 
meant the less to him because his friendships were rather 
of the mind than the heart; but his turbulence marred his 
fortunes. The one thing that soothed his troubled spirit 
was music. "I care nothing,' 1 he wrote, "for the pleasures 
of food and gaming and love .... music, alone of all plea- 
sures, takes me prisoner, holds me fast and dissolves me in 
ecstasy. To music, in truth, I owe my life itself 1 Such 
was Etienne Dolet. Every man of importance has his par- 
ticular painter. Dolet is a born Rembrandt : pale, struggling, 
driven by wild energies full of deep shadows and intense 
light a creature who knew nothing of prosperity. 

He was born at Orleans in the early years of the sixteenth 
century, but his real life his intellectual life began in his 
boyhood at Paris. When he was at school there (he was 
about sixteen) he came across a volume of Cicero and found 
in him the master of his choice. For the rest of his days 
Cicero was his Bible and he read him morning and evening. 
After five years at Paris, he went to the University of 
Padua. Padua was at that time the centre of classical 
criticism : the home of a group that might be described as 
the group of classical aesthetes. Chief of these was Cardinal 
Bembo, the sumptuous scholar, who had retired to collect 
books and coins at his famous villa. Under the shadow of 
Bembo's trees there gathered an Italian Academe, where 



ETIENNE DOLET 47 

Cicero and Plato, life and death according to the philo- 
sophers were discussed with untiring eloquence. Eminent 
among the disputers, when Dolet came to Padua, was the 
Latin professor, Simon Villovanus, a broad and beautiful 
spirit, enamoured of Cicero, With him Dolet formed a 
friendship so romantic that it satisfied even his stormy and 
questioning soul, and the early death of Villovanus, in these 
opening days of Dolet's manhood, was an enduring grief 
overshadowing the rest of his life. It confirmed his natural 
inclination and made him retire more and more into the 
pleasures of the mind. 

As an undergraduate he quickly distinguished himself 
and plunged, with an almost savage courage, into the 
scholarly disputes that disturbed the town. These corre- 
sponded more or less to the differences which had already 
appeared in the literature of France the feud between 
Ancients and Moderns the Classical and the Natural. Later 
in the century it re-appeared in England and stirred up 
the English stage, where Ben Jonson as a Classic and Shake- 
speare as a Modern fought out the issue between them. 

In Italy the Ciceronians were the counterpart of the 
Ancients. Cardinal Bembo and Villovanus, who had a 
large and metaphysical mind and a grasp of Cicero's ideas, 
represented the best side of them, and Dolet became their 
partisan. "Let others choose other masters," he said^ "I 
approve only of Christ and Tally; Christ and Tdly are 
enough for me." He and his friends confined themselves 
to admiration of Cicero's thought and to fervent imitation 
of his style. Unfortunately they were not typical of their 
party. The Ciceronians, as a rule, were narrow and pedan- 



248 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

tically conservative, like the Aristotelian Schoolmen. They 
declared that no word should be used, no idea broached 
that was not to be found in Cicero. They performed feats 
of ingenuity. The Virgin was known as " Virgo Lauretana " ; 
the Trinity as "Dii Majores." Erasmus launched his irony 
against them in a Socratic Dialogue which appeared in 
1531, and was answered by an indignant treatise from the 
pen of the braggart Ciceronian, Julius Csesar Scaliger. 
Dolet also took up the cudgels and gave the public another 
imaginary dialogue between Sir Thomas More and Villo- 
vanus. l His only reward was the enmity of Scaliger, who 
accused him of plagiarising from his pamphlet and heaped 
unclassical invective on his head. 

Dolefs language to Erasmus was cleverer, but it was 
almost as scurrilous. His attitude towards him is unintelli- 
gible. There was something in Erasmus' wit that offended 
Dolefs grim mind; he called him irreverent and, later, had 
no words contemptuous enough for the "Praise of Folly." 
No doubt the quarrel about Cicero had something to do 
with his dislike. The constant difficulty with Dolet is to 
disentangle the personal from the impersonal, and the com- 
plications this caused in his lifetime seriously impaired the 
value of his judgments. His fortunes were founded by the 
Bishop of Limoges. He was a literary Bishop with a hobby 
for architecture, for which he found an outlet in his epis- 
copal city. Just then he was bound on a special embassy 
to Venice. On his way there he saw Dolet at Padua, dis- 
covered his talents, and took him as his secretary for three 

1 This was written when he had left Padua the quarrel 
prolonging itself until after his arrival at Lyons. 



ETIENNE DOLET 

years. The young man had ample opportunities for study- 
ing men besides books, and he found a staunch friend in 
his patron. It was by his advice that Dolet, his secretary- 
ship at an end, went to Toulouse and took up the 
study of the law at the University of the town. The choice 
was not a wise one and he soon dropped it. Toulouse, the 
place where St. Dominic founded his Order and still the 
stronghold of bigotry, was the worst place for him. It 
forced him into rebellion, and into the brilliant but violent 
paradox already too natural to him. a There is the same 
hatred of letters and the same love of stupidity that there 
always has been," he writes. " Not to be tedious, the fools 
are as numerous and of the same species as ever." He be- 
came reckless, and his gift for epigram gave permanence to 
his recklessness. His epigrams seem to have had so much 
reputation that one of his numerous friends begged him to make 
one on him, that so his name might go down to posterity. 
Dolet created a great stir in Toulouse by acting as re- 
presentative of the Students and making a free-thinking 
Oration on their behalf. The town authorities looked upon 
him with suspicion and with reason. Most of his friends 
were heretical and so was he, but not in the sense which 
they usually gave to the word. Latitudinarian though he 
was, he detested the Lutherans: "that foolish sect," he calls 
them, "led away by a pernicious passion for notoriety 
putting their lives in danger by their ridiculous self-will 
and unbearable obstinacy." The attitude that he took up 
was not one to ingratiate him either with Papists or with 
Protestants, and he quickly found himself out of favour 
with both parties. His antipathy for the Lutherans sprang 



250 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

more from a fastidious taste and a scholar's dislike for too 
much zeal than from any religious conviction. He admired 
Lefebre and Sainte-Marthe without sharing their doctrines. 
A free-lance in all directions, an inveterate foe of supersti- 
tion, he still considered himself within the pale of the Church ; 
a religious-minded Pagan he was he would have called him- 
self a Christian. 

Yet he seems to have shown scant signs of holding any 
Christian beliefs. "I saw nothing of Christ in his hands 
or in his books, " wrote a German scholar who had met 
him in Lyons, a God knows whether he had anything in 
his heart. This, however, I know from his own mouth, 
that when he fled into France he brought with him, as a 
consolation in the wretchedness of his journey, neither the 
Old nor the New Testament, but only the Familiar Epistles 
of Cicero.*" He was a Theist in theory, but it was an in- 
tellectual theory a formula of intellectual pride asserting 
the supremacy of mind over matter. His conception of 
soul is much the same: "a certain celestial force," as he 
calls it, "by which we live and move and are partakers of 
reason." Perhaps the strongest article of his creed was his 
faith in immortality; but the nature of his faith varied 
with his mood. Sometimes he believed in the endurance 
of personal consciousness; more often he did not, but 
dreamed that the individual would be absorbed in universal 
spirit. After the death of his friend Villovanus, he uttered 
a cry of despair at the thought that he would not meet 
him again ; yet when his own time came, he seemed to have 
a more supporting hope. 

However this may be, he was hardly the man to suit 



ETIENNE DOLET ' 51 

the authorities of Toulouse. When he had been there more 
than two years, they lost patience with him and banished 
him for contempt of their Parlement. Lyons was evidently 
the home for him, and there he settled in 1534. We have 
a picture of him at this period, drawn by the pen of Eras- 
mus' Secretary. He was tall and stooping, with fierce eyes 
and leaden complexion; his hair was dark, his expression 
harrowed, and his general appearance gave an impression of 
poverty. He found Bonaventure des Periers at Lyons and began 
life there by working with him at a Latin Commentary : no 
mere verbal dictionary, but a classification of words accord- 
ing to ideas a whole encyclopedia of biography and philo- 
sophy. It was printed in the town, Paris having refused 
to publish it ; and was followed by other and more creative 
works, poetic and scholarly, from his hand. He wrote both 
in French and Latin, and his name began to be more 
widely known. But the scholar's peaceful existence did not 
keep him quiet for long. A short while after the appear- 
ance of his Commentary, the law-students of Lyons stirred 
up a riot which ended in the closing of the Law Schools. 
The King and the Court happened at that moment to be 
passing through the city: and Dolet, angry with the civic 
authorities, appealed to Francis in the matter. This was 
the occasion of his introduction to Margaret who was with 
her brother ; but as she departed with the Court, Dolet did 
not then have any prolonged intercourse with her. They 
most likely corresponded, and it must have been between 
1535 and '38 that he stayed with her in Navarre. 

It was a breathing time in his history. Margaret was 
calculated to draw out his better and more ideal side, to 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

modify the exaggerations of his character ; and while he was 
with her, he got into no trouble. She helped him, doubtless, 
with her purse, as she helped all her struggling guests ; and 
as, soon after his visit to her, he married, she probably went 
on aiding him. His marriage does not seem to have had 
much effect on his career; but his love for his little son 
played a strange part in his fortunes. This is, however, to 
anticipate events. 

Soon after the Court left Lyons, Dolet had the ill luck 
to kill a painter who had attacked him in a brawl, and he 
was forced to flee to Paris to get a pardon from Francis. 
Through the influence of Margaret and the help of his 
friends, he obtained it ; but it is a blot upon his fame that 
in the childish vainglory which belonged to his nature he 
afterwards denied the fact of their assistance. 

He had by this time attained to a recognised position 
in literature. While he was in Paris he strayed into the 
shop of the Estiennes, and taking up the book of a fashion- 
able poetaster, he chanced upon an ode in which he figured 
as one of the fifty-one great poets of France. Parisian 
society, and especially the literary circles, hailed him. They 
gave a dinner in his honour, and he found himself at table 
with Rabelais, Marot and Bude, discussing Bembo and Eras- 
mus. Dolet seems to have had a special gift for inspiring 
warm friendships in the first men of his day and for quarrel- 
ling with them afterwards. 

Rousseau alone could have rivalled him in the number of the 
ruptures that he had with his acquaintance. It seems as if there 
must have been a vein of madness in him to account for all his 
misadventures. With Budd, the hero of scholars, still un- 



ETIENNE DOLET 53 

known to him, lie began in youth a hero- worshipper^ 
correspondence which ended in an intellectual intimacy 
and that was a relation abstract enough to remain tranquil. 
Nicholas Bourbon, the scholar and the tutor of Jeanne 
d n Albret, was also one of the adoring friends from whom he 
separated. Clement Marot was another. In 1588, Dolet be- 
came a printer and, not long after, he published the poet's 
works; but the two great quarrellers of the day had an 
irreparable breach and Marot wrote verses against him. It 
was much the same with Rabelais. He and Dolet began 
with a charming comradeship. Rabelais probably attended 
him as a doctor when he fell sick of fever, just after arriv- 
ing at Lyons. Dolet wrote a poem to Rabelais, after his 
famous dissection of a body before the students of Lyons; 
and Rabelais sent Dolet from Rome what Tie would certainly 
have esteemed more highly than any production of his pen 
a recipe for "Garum," a celebrated sauce, long lost to the 
world. In spite of this suave exchange, a feud ensued. In 
1542, Rabelais published an edition of " Pantagruel," an 
expurgated edition to escape the censure of the Sorbonne. 
From Deletes press, in the same year, came forth an un- 
authenticated edition of the work in its original form, accord- 
ing to the unexpurgated editions of '37 and ^S8, and 
pretending to appear with the author's permission and 
corrections. Rabelais was indignant, and well he might be, 
in an age when the Sorbonne's disapproval might mean 
death. Even with a Dolet in the case the affair needs 
some explanation, and it is just possible that Dolet never 
saw the title-page; for when the book actually appeared, he 
himself was IB prison. 



254 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

He became a printer, as we said, in 1538 and for the 
first four years was fairly prudent. But in 1542, his 
invincible impetuosity broke down his caution and he publish- 
ed no less than thirty heretical books among them the 
Treatises of Erasmus, the works of Berquin, and Lefebre's 
Commentary on the Bible not to speak of selling Melanc- 
thon's Commentaries and Calvin's "Institutions." This list 
alone proves that his contempt for the Lutherans did not 
extend to other Reformers. Erasmus' death, too, had softened 
him, and he had composed elaborate compliments in his 
honour. His last publications were his ruin. He was arrested 
and brought to trial in the Ecclesiastical Court. It was 
the custom for the Inquisition to act as the Bishop's Asses- 
sor, and the Inquisitor-General presided on this occasion. 
Dolet was condemned, and appealed to the Parlement of 
Paris. The King's Reader, Duchatel, got the ear of Francis, 
who was willing to send a pardon, but in vain : the Parle- 
ment refused to register it. However, after fifteen months 
of trials and imprisonments and the burning of the books 
he had printed, Dolet was liberated and returned to his 
family at Lyons. His enemies were not contented, and 
resolved to re-capture him at all costs. They collected some 
contraband copies of the condemned books, put them in a 
parcel and wrote his name, as the sender, on the cover. 
Their stratagem succeeded. He was again condemned and 
imprisoned, but he was not daunted. He met ruse with 
ruse. His eloquent tongue so fortunate and so fatal won 
the gaoler to allow him to visit his wife and child in his 
house by the river. He bribed him by a vivid description 
of the Muscat wine in his cellar, and one morning, before 



ETIENNE DOLET 255 

dawn, they walked to Dolet's home. The inmates contrived 
to admit him alone, and quickly shut the door upon the 
other. He lost no time in escaping by a passage to the 
Saone, took boat and got away in safety. But the longing 
to see his boy again was too strong for him. After some 
time he returned to visit him, and was seen, taken and 
tried, this time in Paris. 

His persecutors had a fresh charge against him. Just 
before his re-capture, he had brought out a new volume 
and dedicated it to the King of France. " Being at Lyons," 
he wrote in the dedication, "in the contentment of my 
spirit, I did not forget to examine my treasures ... I 
chanced to light upon two Dialogues of Plato which I had 
sometime since translated . . . One is not unsuited to my 
condition, being upon the miseries of human life; and the 
other is to show you that I have made good progress in 
the translation of the whole of the works of Plato. So 
that either in your Kingdom or elsewhere (since without 
cause I have been driven from France), I promise you that 
with the help of God, I will give you within a year the 
whole of Plato, translated into your own language." His 
"Second Enfer" an account of his second imprisonment 
and a "Defence" of his opinions, appeared with these two 
Dialogues. They were called " Axiochus," and "Hippar- 
chus, 7 ' and were supposed to be Plato's until after the 
days of Dolet. It is the more pathetic that, apocryphal as 
they were, they should have been the practical cause of his 
death. In "Axiochus" there occurs the following passage: 

"Pour ce qu'il est certain que la mort tfest point aux 
vivants; et quant aux d^funts ils ne sentent plus; done la 



256 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

mort les attaque encore moins. Parquoi elle ne peut rien 
sur toi, car tu ifes pas encore pret a deceder; et quand 
tu seras decede, elle n'y pourra rien aussi, attendu que tu 
ne seras plus rien dii tout" l 

Dolet had added the words, "rien du tout," to elucidate 
the meaning of the original The literal translation of the 
Greek phrase is " For thou wilt not be " : a sentence which 
a taken by itself seems . . . even to be opposed to the doc- 
trine of the immortality of the soul, though this is by no 
means the case when taken in opposition with the context.*" 2 
But Dolet's judges chose to declare that he had changed 
the sense of the passage and deliberately turned it into a 
proclamation of materialism. The case was left undecided, 
and the verdict was not given till two years later, during 
which he was kept in close imprisonment. 

In his " Commentaries " he had written a prayer which 
almost proved a presentiment. " Ye Gods," it ran, " the omni- 
potent rulers of all things, grant me this one, only this one, 
piece of good fortune. The material goods of fortune are 
fleeting and vain things which I deem unworthy of your 
care ; nor do I for the sake of them seek to weary you 
by my prayers. But grant this to me : that my reputation, 
my safety, my life, may never depend on a judge. Grant 
this, I implore you with the same ardour with which I 
reverence your divine will and contemplate . . . your power." 
The gods had not answered his petition, but he did not lose 
courage. He knew well what his sentence would be. Yet, 



1 The italics are not in the original translation. 

2 Life of Etienne Dolet: CHRISTIE. 



ETIENNE DOLET 257 

while he lay in the Conciergerie, he found consolation in 
his high and intellectual philosophy. 

Si sur la chair les mondains ont pouvoir, 
Sur vouSj esprit, rien lie peuvent avoir; 
L'ceil, Foeil au ciel, faites votre devoir 
De 1 entendre. 

So he wrote in his prison. He was never tired of in- 
voking Margaret with deep affection and admiration; and 
though hope had deserted him, he remained unshaken in 
his faith that "she protected men of learning as much as 
in her lay." But in his case, she was powerless. In 1546, 
the First President of the Court of Justice "pronounced 
him guilty of blasphemy and sedition, 11 and condemned him 
to be hanged and burned. 

He was fearless in death as in life. He had long been 
tired of the "tenebres" which obscure the truth; tired of 
stupidity and ignorance ; tired of peril and pursuit. " I 
now come to the subject of death, the extreme boundary 
of life, terrible to those who are about to die"" so he had 
written under the word "Mors", in his "Commentaries. 1 ' 
The end brought him serenity. He had a proud claim upon 
eternity and, when he died, he was able to realize his own 
saying : a The power of death is nought against men who are 
fenced about with such strong barriers of immortality." 



17 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTERS XVI 
AND XVII 

Gargantua et Pantagrael: RABELAIS (edition de Ratheiy et 

Desmarets). 
Epitres de Francois Rabelais a Monseigneur l'Evque de Maillezais. 

Ecrites pendant son voyage en Italie. 
Lettres du Cardinal Jean du Bellay contained in 1'Entrevue, 

de Francois I et Henri VII I, papiers inedits : LE PKRE HAMY. 
(Euvres de Marot, Ronsard, Joachim du Bellay. 
CEuvres Choisies de Ronsard: SAINTE-BEUVE. 
CEuvres Choisies de Joachim du Bellay: BECQ DE FOUQUI&RES. 
Vie de Rabelais : FJLEURY. 
Vie de Rabelais : REN MILLET. 
Dictionnaire Historique de Bayle. 
Dictionnaire de Chauffpie. 
Tableau du Seizieme Siecle: SAINTE-BEUVE. 
Causeries de Lundi: SAINTE-BEUVE. 
Histoire de la Litterature Fra^aise: REN DOUMIC. 




Portrait cle Rabelais. 

Cabinet cles Estampes de la Bibliotheque Rationale ; 
cl'apres un clessin cle Gaigneres. 

F. p. 238. 



CHAPTER'XVI 

(14451553) 

I 

RABELAIS 

S'on nous laissait nos jours en paix user, 
Du temps present a plaisir disposer, 
Et librement vivre comme il faut vivre, 
Palais et cours ne nous faudrait plus suivre. . . . 

Las ! maintenant a nous point ne vivons 
Et le bon temps perir pour nous savons^ 
Et s'envoler sans remede quelconque: 
Puisqu* on le sait ; que ne vit on bien onques? 
MAROT (A F. RABELAIS). 

THE name of Rabelais is the greatest in the roll of 
Lyons. He did not comje there till the middle of his life, 
or publish the first part of his book till he was near forty. 
The exact date of his birth is uncertain, but it was pro- 
bably about 1495. l He was thus the exact contemporary 
of Francis I and Margaret of Angouleme. He wa$ not 

1 The date of Rabelais' birth is much disputed. An old 
tradition relegates it to 1483. But there are many reasons that 
make this improbable; and the later authorities are agreed in 
thinking he was born in the last decade of the century, probably 
in 1495. 



260 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

among her dependants, nor does he appear to have had 
intercourse with her. But their intellectual relations were 
close ones, and she seems to have been the one woman 
whose mind he respected, whose personality he admired. 
He dedicated to her the third book of his great work. 
There was none of the courtier's hyperbole about him, and 
he meant what he said when, by way of dedication, he wrote : 

Esprit abstrait; ravi et extatique, 
Qui frequentant les cieux,, ton origine,, 
As delaisse ton hote et domestique: 
Voudrais tu point faire quelque sortie 
De ton manoir devin, perpetuel, 
Et ci-bas voir une tierce partie 
Des faits joyeux du bon Pantagruel? 



It is impossible to approach the figure of Rabelais without 
a thrill of awe and excitement: the sense that we are in 
the presence of a primeval force : a Titan whose mirth 
shook the old world and gave birth to the new. He is 
the Michael Angelo of laughter sinewy, purposeful, Olym- 
pian; huge always, chaotic often; one in whom dignity of 
outline served instead of grace. His laugh has a nobleness, 
even a solemnity of its own ; for laughter partakes of the 
nature of what is laughed at. "Le rire c'est le propre de 
rhomme," he said it was his great discovery and at this 
mighty trumpet-sound, the cloister walls trembled and fell, 
the fresh air of heaven blew in, and monk and schoolman, 
hidden vice and religious terror, fled before the daylight. 

Rabelais may be said to be the apostle of modem humour ; 



RABELAIS 61 

the humour which means deep insight into the incongruities 
of life, and a compassionate knowledge of human foibles. 
He who has it has found the key to "le profond cabinet 
de nos cceurs," to borrow the words of PantagrueL It is 
the humour of a fellow-traveller, who is laughing at his 
own discomforts by the road when he laughs at those of 
other people. This kind of fun cannot belong to primitive 
times; it is not possible till society has grown complicated 
enough to deal in contrasts contrasts of something subtler 
than those of mere sensation. The laughter of Heroes, 
including the Homeric, though very wholesome to hear, 
was always about something that would not move a muscle 
of our sympathies; and the jokes of the first comedies, 
French and English, would not now amuse the smallest 
schoolboy. There is plenty of this archaic mirth, besides 
the newer sort, in Rabelais; he is Jan Steen as well as 
Michael Angelo; but his antics were for the crowd his 
laughing philosophy for all time, 

If it is rare for a prophet to be recognized in his own 
country, it is rarer still that the recognition should come 
while he is still prophesying. Yet when Rabelais 1 book ap- 
peared, the Court of Francis I immediately hailed it as 
"The new Gospel."" The work itself and its reception are 
a conscious welcome to the New Ideas. The birth of the 
Giant, Prince Gargantua, who is born in the open air, in 
the midst of a jolly festival, and wakes to life parched with 
thirst and calling loudly for drink, seems like a gorgeous, 
intended symbol of the Renaissance : a description of the 
birth of the young world, a world courting the sunshine, thirsty 
for knowledge, drinking its fill. Gargantua was not tied up 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

in swaddling clothes, but kicked and danced as he liked, 
intoxicated by his first sensation of movement. How far 
motion would cany the giant, Rabelais did not foresee; he 
realized that a new order had begun, but he did not know 
all that it meant. Omniscience alone could have gauged 
the force that was let loose. 

Whatever the opinion his contemporaries had of him, 
Rabelais himself had no notion of playing the oracle. " It 
is not vouchsafed to every man to inhabit Corinth," he said, 
and he squared his practice with his precept. There was 
nobody so little self-conscious. He would have laughed at the 
theory of art for art's sake, and he thought that his chance of 
fame lay in his medical treatises. A great creator, he was 
seldom a great artist, unless it was by chance ; and Jie had 
no idea of selection. He composed his book while he was 
eating his dinner, probably for no graver reason than that 
amusement was good for the digestion. Human before all 
things, he despised any kind of affected superiority, whether 
of rank or intellect. He prided himself on being a provin- 
cial, and Paris meant no more to him than other places. 
When Pantagruel met a Limousin who talked to him in 
the French and Latin jargon of the Schoolmen, the Prince 
thrashed him into honest French again ; and when Gargantua 
wrote to his son at Paris, he bade him frequent men of 
letters, who, he said, were there as much as in any other town. 

Francois Rabelais was born in Touraine, in the steep 
grey town of Chinon: "Chinon, ville insigne, ville noble, 
ville antique, voire premiere du monde" so he called it in 
the fulness of his heart. He saw the broad river Vienne 
as we see it, and the castle cliff rising out of it. He saw 



RABELAIS 

the castle itself as we no longer see it : one of the 
chief feudal palaces of France. Now pink valerian fills 
every crumbling crevice, and massive ivy throws a mantle 
over the fragments of the once huge building. The boy, 
Rabelais, played in the flagged and tortuous streets which 
climb arduously up to it; the streets through which Joan 
of Arc, travel-stained and weary, had ridden, near a hun- 
dred years before, to her first interview with the King : 
streets of crooked silver slate houses, leaning here and there 
and almost meeting across the black shadows of the footway. 
He may have turned, as we do, when he had toiled to the 
top of the hill, and paused awhile to look down on the 
wavy sea of close-packed roofs, cut by the piercing spires 
of church and convent. And, perhaps, could his ghost return 
there, he would laugh to see his own modern statue, standing 
surrounded by the old world opposite the river below. 
It was in one of these hill-side streets that Rabelais first 
saw the day-light that he loved. All that we can tell is 
that his father was probably a vintner ; that he possessed a 
vineyard and a farm, "La Deviniere," just out of Chinon 
and kept a tavern in the town, hard by a pastry-cook's 
shop. " Plut & la digne vertue de Dieu," wrote his son, 
"qu'a Fheure presente je fusse .... chez Innocent le Patissier, 
devant la cave peinte, a Chinon, sus peine de me mettre en 
pourpoint pour cuire les petits pates." The Painted Cellar 
was ^most likely his home, and the jolly vision that he 
conjures up of himself baking little cakes in a white "pour- 
point," doubtless explains his succulent lists of pastries and 
sweetmeats, which tempt our appetites as we read them 
in his book. He went to school at the neighbouring village of 



264 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Seuille, then at Les Baumettes, where he found playmates in the 
rich du Bellays and in Geoffroi dTltissac, afterwards Bishop 
of Haillezais, all of them destined to be his faithful friends 
through life. They were better-born than he, but in those robust 
days, once away from their homes, little boys of fortune 
and little boys of no fortune learned their declensions together. 
When he had left school, he went to the Monastery of 
Fontenay, in the Vendee, and, in 1511, took up his abode 
there. The only chance then for a book-loving lad of scant 
means was to become a monk and use the library of his 
Order. This was what Rabelais did, and the step decided 
his destiny. He had not known what a cloister really meant ; 
the grossness and ignorance of his fellow-monks shocked and 
disgusted him. There was only one of them, Pierre Lamy, 
in whom he found a fellow-spirit. Together they read all 
the theological works in the Library shelves and their Order 
did not benefit by the reading. Rabelais enlivened the 
dulness by his pen. Like all enterprising scholars, he began 
a correspondence and pursued an abstract friendship with 
the great Bude. Lamy, we may hope, shared in the learned 
results. As time went on, the two rebels became more daring 
and mastered the art of smuggling. They got books from 
the outside. Geoffroi d'Etissac sent them to Rabelais, so 
did his new friend, "le bon, le'docte, le sage, le tout humain, 
tout d^bonnaire et equitable Andre Tiraqueau"" a lawyer, 
famous in his own day for his brilliant talk and humour 
almost as famous in society as Rabelais was soon to become. 
These presents of mundane literature wiled away the tedium of 
many monastic hours. But Rabelais was not destined to re- 
main within four walls. The Abbot at last discovered his 



RABELAIS 265 

books and seized them Rabelais demanded them back the 
Abbot refused his demand and Rabelais took French leave 
of the Abbot. Still in his monk's dress, which he wore for 
the rest of his days, he grasped his scrip and staff and 
wandered forth into the open Nature's pilgrim, bound for 
the shrine of Truth. This was in 1524. He had spent 
thirteen years in the cloister. Along the highways of France 
he pursued his unshackled course. At first he did not go 
far afield. Etissac, now a Bishop, lived close by in Poitou, 
and he went to stay with him in his palace at Liguge. 
Here he had his first experience of freedom. We seem to 
savour his enjoyment of every day as it passed, in a rhymed 
letter (or rather its ending), which he wrote thence to a 
friend : 

"A Liguge ce matin de Septembre, 
Sixi&me jour, en ma petite chambre,, 
Que de mon lit je me renouvellais^ 
Ton serviteur et amy, Rabelais." 

The Bishop would have liked to keep his guest longer, 
but Rabelais did not remain. He wanted to quench his 
thirst for travel, and "the world was all before him where 
to choose." He took the road to Poitiers where he made 
a long halt, drinking full draughts of life : the life of roads 
and streets, birds and beasts, hostels and taverns. Thence 
he wandered all over France to La Rochelle, to Normandy, 
wherever the spirit took him. He stayed at some time 
with his other school-friends, the great du Bellays, Guillaume 
and his younger brother, Jean, in the family Castle at Lan- 
geais. They were keen patrons of letters besides being good 



266 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

comrades. Guillaume, Sieur de Langeais, gave Rabelais a 
cottage opposite the Chateau. He must have dined often 
at their table and kept the best society ; he must have heard 
free discussion of every theme that interested his busy 
brain. But his hunger for experience remained still un- 
satisfied. Living in other men's houses meant a certain 
amount of restraint. The desire to wander again possessed 
him; he bade farewell to his hosts and resumed his journey. l 
The ffrst sensation of liberty over, he began to shape 
his plans. The Universities centres of good company as 
well as of learning attracted him. His first experiences 
were not particularly edifying. At the College of Bordeaux, 
with which he began, " ne trouva grand exercise," either for 
his mind or his body ; and he carried away little more than 
a jovial memory of the boatmen playing at dice on the 
shore. At Toulouse "he learned dancing thoroughly and 
became well-skilled in sword-play with both hands : such as 
is ever the fashion among, the Students of that University." 
It was wise of him to try nothing more heretical than danc- 
ing, in the town of bigots. But like the less prudent Dolet, 
he found he could not abide in a place which, as he said, 
burned its thinkers "like salted herrings." He was not 
anxious for the stake. " I am thirsty enough by nature," he 
remarked, " without heating myself any more," and he lost no 
time in departing. A leisurely journey to Bourges was his 
next move. At Nimes he saw the Pont du Gard and the 

1 There is a story that the du Bellays made him a Cur6 of 
a neighbouring village, Sonday^, where lie first practised medicine 
and where he remained a long time. But there is no credible 
evidence to give stability to so improbable a legend. 



RABELAIS 

Amphitheatre, " oeuvre plus divin qu* humain." At Angers 
"il se trouva fort bien." At Bourges he studied law, to 
good purpose, as the poor lawyers found out when "Pan- 
tagruel" covered them with ridicule. His next University 
was that of Orleans the object of his good-humoured con- 
tempt. Nothing did he learn there, he said, excepting the 
game of tennis; and as for the examinations, they were 
mere child's play, invented for great lords. He found a 
longer resting-place at the University of Paris. He came 
just about the time that Ignatius Loyola was leaving it. 
Middle-aged though he was, the founder of the Jesuits had, 
after his conversion, humbly put himself to college to fit 
himself at all points for his great task of proselytising. Ra- 
belais declared himself not too much edified by the scholar- 
ship that he found within the academic walls ; but he pursued 
the study of medicine and definitely adopted a doctor-^ 
profession. 

When he left Paris for Montpellier, the fame of his 
medical "knowledge had preceded him. He arrived there In 
1530, after six years of pilgrimage, and became physician 
to the Hospital of the city. There is a story that directly 
he had entered the town, he gave a public lecture with a 
dissertation on Botany at which all the Faculty was 
present : a lecture so learned and eloquent that he took 
his audience by storm and earned the title of "Doctor 1 '. 
It is more probable that he was only said to deserve it. 
At all events, Montpellier thronged to his lectures and he 
gave a course upon the Aphorisms of Hippocrates. Perhaps 
it is more important that while he was there he made essen- 
tial progress in his science, and exchanged the unscientific 



268 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

theories of Galen and his fellows for more modern ideas. 
They took a more tangible form after he had left Mont- 
pellier for Lyons. 

In that favoured city he took up his abode in 153S. 
He made his home in the Grand Hopital and lectured to 
the medical students. l The enlightenment of his fellow- 
citizens emboldened him, and he did not let time stand still 
He surprised and delighted his pupils by an exploit even 
more daring than his dissertations at Montpellier : the dis- 
section of a man's corpse, for the first time in France. An 
action so destructive was supposed to interfere with the 
Resurrection of the body at the Last Day; and before 
venturing upon it, it had hitherto been necessary to get 
the Pope's permission the only means of avoiding the evil 
consequences. Rabelais, however, did without a Papal pass- 
port, and Lyons, the freethinking, only applauded his courage. 
Dolet wrote him a sonnet : u On the bocly of a hanged man" 
(Rabelais used the body of a criminal), and other local 
poets were doubtless not wanting in a store of weighty 
Latin compliments. 

Rabelais' lavish good humour added to his popularity. 
There was a sweet reasonableness, a magnetic quality about 
the man, which won all sorts and conditions to him. He 
must have been like morning sunshine in the Hospital wards 
and at the bedsides of his richer patients. " A sad or surly- 
faced Physician is bad for an invalid, 1 ' he wrote; "but one 



1 He remained physician of the Hospital for two years, but 
was then dismissed from his post, because he too often absented 
himself. 



RABELAIS 69 

of a glad countenance, open and serene, maketh a sick man 
happy. ... As for the speech of a Doctor, it should have 
but one end: without offence to God, to rejoice the heart 
of the sufferer." * He said he should like to cure men's souls 
as well as their bodies, and he often succeeded in doing 
something like it. "I am not well," his friend, Sussanneau, 
writes to him from a sick-bed "drugs do me no good; 
I do not know what is the matter with me .... An 
fonds" (he concludes) " je me languis de toi ; viens done 
me reconforter avec ta bonne figure et cette langueur sou- 
dame disparaitra." 

Meanwhile Rabelais, physician and philosopher, had been 
using his odd moments for writing his book. He had already 
published a learned edition of Galen and Hippocrates, and 
a few of the " Almanachs " then popular: promiscuous col- 
lections of grotesque prophecies and fables, eagerly read by 
the public. Claude Nourry, the printer, was the man chosen 
to bring out his new work the first part of "Pantagruel."" 
" Gargantua," which now precedes it, was really written later. 
"Pantagruel" appeared in 1533 and made a sensation at once. 
Rabelais and Shakspeare were alike in meeting with imme- 
diate appreciation, though not with so empyrean a fame as 
afterwards awaited them. The Court hailed the "New 
Gospel " ; Francis read it with avidity and turned a deaf ear 
to the Sorbonne. Pantagrudism became a recognized term 
for laughing philosophy. More copies were sold in two 
months than copies of the Bible in nine years. Rabelais'* 
fame rose and brought about a change in his fortunes. 

In 1534, Jean du Bellay, afterwards a Cardinal and the 
Bishop of Paris, came to Lyons, on his way to Rome. He 



70 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

was bound thither on business connected with Henry VIII's 
divorce that capacious State-pie, in which every potentate 
in Europe had a finger. He knew Rabelais. He wanted a 
secretary ; Rabelais wanted a change. There was little difficulty 
in striking the bargain, and, before long, the doctor had 
changed into the diplomat and Rabelais was on his way to 
Rome one in the retinue of the cleverest prelate in France. 



II 



THE BU BELLAYS AND RABELAIS 

The du Bellays were among the remarkable families of 
the Renaissance. We become almost bewildered by the 
number of striking figures that crowd every corner of the 
sixteenth century. It seems as if we stood before a great 
fresco, thronged with figures, each -one new, each one so 
interesting that we wish to know it separately from the 
rest. And yet as we look at the many heads in the picture, 
we almost turn away in despair of accomplishing our wish. 

There were three du Bellays, brothers : Guillaume, Jean, 
and Martin, all men of repute. The most renowned was 
Guillaume, Sieur de Langeais, "soldier, diplomat, writer. 
An indifferent courtier, he was the person in Europe best- 
informed as to the Court intrigues, and the most absent- 
minded at the * lever du roi' Charged with all the most 
delicate missions .... considered better than an army by 
the Emperor, never an advocate of unreasoned conquest, he 
was, in short, the best politician of this reign." Rabelais, 
whose first visit to him must have been often repeated, 



THE DU BELLA YS AND RABELAIS 

was enthusiastic for his host. At Langeais he learned, so 
he said, "le culte des annes heroiqes," and the Lord of 
Langeais was his ideal of a gentleman. Habelais must have 
been in the house when its master died, and it was he who 
penned the noblest panegyric on him; "Le preux etdocte 
chevalier," as he calls him, "in whose lifetime France en- 
joyed such great felicity that all the world envied and re- 
spected her. But of a sudden, on his death, the world 
began to despise her and has done so this long while. . , . 
And after that he had died, his friends, his servants and 
his servitors .... (among whom I count myself) looked at 
one another in silence, all affrighted, without saying a word 
with their lips. But each man thought the more in his 
heart, knowing full well that France was bereft of an excel- 
lent and very needful knight, whom the gods had recalled 
to themselves as their right and natural property. 1 " 

The writings of this great man-of-all-work were chiefly 
historical, but here he had a rival. His youngest brother 
Martin, otherwise the least significant of the three, was the 
historian of the family, and he has left us a chronicle of 
his age, quaint, shrewd and lucid. About the second brother, 
Jean, the patron of Rabelais, there is more to be said. 
"Less universal than Guillaume, but quite as full of per- 
spicacity," he also played a leading part on the diplomatic 
stage. He was a person of distinct political aims. His 
main object was to counterbalance the power of the Emperor 
and, for this end, to ensure the alliance of France and 
England, under the aegis of the Pope. He showed infinite 
resource in maintaining a hold on Henry VIII and keeping 
him in good humour bestirring himself about the divorce 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

with an energy that left no stone unturned: "For that he 
knew full well that the true office of friends sometimes lieth 
in bearing each the other's anxieties, without looking at 
them too closely." This rather elastic creed was calculated 
to ingratiate him with monarchs. He was, in truth, a fav- 
ourite with Henry and had long been concerned in his 
domestic affairs. In 153, a year before the death of 
Catherine of Aragon, the King had been anxious to bring 
Anne Boleyn to meet the French Court at Calais. Anne 
was not yet recognized as his wife and the scheme offered 
obvious difficulties. Jean du Bellay was sent to England 
to arrange matters. Diplomacy is a pleasant profession, and 
enjoyment a dutiful means of pursuing its purposes. Du 
Bellay sent the Constable Montmorency a buoyant account 
of his doings pending the conclusion of his business. The 
letter gives us an idea of his familiar relations with 
Henry. 

" Monseigneur,^ it runs, "Meseemeth that I should not 
be acting like a gentleman if I hid from you the good 
cheer which the King and all the company are making for 
me; or the intimacy with which he honoureth me. The 
livelong day I am quite alone with him. We go a-hunt- 
ing and he telleth me all his private affairs, taking as much 
pains to give me pleasure in the Chase as if I were a very 
great personage. Sometimes he placeth us, Madame Anne 
and myself, each with our bow and arrows, to await the 
first passing of the deer a fashion in hunting that you 
will understand. At other times she and I are left t&te- 
&-tete, to watch the flight of the deer. When the hunt is 
over and we arrive at one of the King^s royal houses, he is 



THE DU BELLA YS AND RABELAIS 

no sooner dismounted than he desireth to show me every- 
thing he has on the estate, and everything he meaneth to 
do. The Lady Anne hath made me a present of a hunting 
suit, a hat, a horn and a hound. This that I write, Mon- 
seigneur, is not to try and persuade you that I am so likely 
a man as to make all ladies love me ; but to let you know 
how quickly groweth the friendship of this King and our 
King; for all that the Lady Anne doth, she doth it by 
commandment of her liege Lord, his Majesty of England." 

No junketings, however, caused him to lose sight of the 
work he had in hand : a I know as a fact and on good 
authority," he wrote, "that the greatest pleasure the King 
can give to the King, his brother, and to Madam Anne, 
is to write bidding me invite him to bring her with him 
to Calais, to be seen and feasted by everyone. But they 
must not come without the company of ladies, since good 
cheer is ever the better for their presence." This was wily 
of him, as he knew the ladies of France had refused to meet 
Anne Boleyn. He added a more daring suggestion ; the 
presence of the French King^s sister would, he said, be held 
a sine qud non> although he was sworn not to reveal the 
source of his knowledge. Margaret solved the problem by 
feigning illness; Anne Boleyn by never stirring from the 
town of Calais, where she duly arrived. The fetes planned 
for the fields round the town thus became impossible ; the 
Kings met ; and Henry and Arine returned home with their 
train. 

Jean du Bellay only went on working the harder at 
cementing the English alliance. He found it no easy task 
to make two such slippery monarchs keep their word- the 

18 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

one political duty, or shall we say moral convenience? 
recognized by the easy-going Envoy. "The first rule of 
friendship," he said, " even among great princes, is to keep 
faith with honour. Where that is wanting, the holy name 
of friendship must not be spoken." "Holy," has a great 
many meanings in the diplomatic code. His interpretation 
involved renewed efforts to procure Henry's divorce. To 
gain his end he travelled in midwinter from Paris to 
Tendon, and from London to Rome. He went to Rome 
twice between 1533 and '37, and thought that the Pope 
would be swayed by him. Clement VII admired his elo- 
quence, but that was all. He was a weak creature and the 
Emperor's threats and promises went farther with him. 
Charles V won the race, and the Pope lost England for ever. 
It was on the earlier of du Bellay's two embassies to 
Rome the occasion of his being made a Cardinal 
that Rabelais first went with him as his secretary. The 
nobleman was charmed with the "docte et r^jouissante com- 
pagnie" of his fellow-traveller: "1'homme toujours pret," as 
he called him. He valued Rabelais' equable humour, his 
supple mind and just views. No less did du Bellay suit 
Rabelais. Machiavellism implies shrewd powers of observa- 
tion, and du Bellay was a generous Machiavelli, free from 
malice. Their tastes were in agreement. Rabelais, when he 
crossed the Alps, said that he had three wishes : to see the 
Italian Scholars, to collect plants, and to excavate ancient 
busts. In the first and last of these his patron could doubt- 
less furnish him with ample information. It is a pleasant 
picture, the Ecclesiastic and the Doctor, side by side on Italian 
high-roads, or taking their ease at their inn, talking of life 



THE DU BELLA YS AND RABELAIS 75 

and science, discussing the last Venus dug up on the Palatine, 
laughing at life and its follies perhaps a little at its wisdom. 

Rabelais'* main business at Rome was neither botany nor 
excavations, though the Cardinal gave him a vineyard to dig 
in. His work was, as usual, the observation of men. He could 
not have been in Rome at a more interesting time, and du 
Bellay's confidence in him provided him with rare opportunities, 
both on this and on his second visit, for his patron brought 
him there again in 1535. He was allowed to be present at the 
most intimate conferences. He heard the Cardinal of Trent 
discuss the famous Council which was to bring concord to 
Christendom. "I was there," he wrote to the Bishop of 
Maillezais, " when he said to M. le Cardinal du Bellay : * The 
Holy Father, the Cardinals, Bishops and prelates of the Church 
recoil from the Council and will not have it mentioned. But 
I see the time coming and close upon us when the prelates 
of the Church will be forced to ask for it, and the laymen 
will refuse to hear them."" 

Rabelais also witnessed the humiliation of Florence and of 
its sad Duke, Alexander de 1 Medici. And he saw the Rome 
which the Emperor had sacked in 1527 making ready nine 
years later for his triumphal entry as a visitor to the 
Pope. Two hundred and four buildings were demolished in 
his honour. " It is piteous," writes Rabelais, " to see the 
rains of the houses, churches and palaces which the Pope 
has had pulled down and destroyed to prepare the way for 
the Emperor .... and no compensation at all has been 
offered to the owners." He must have laughed in his sleeve 
when he beheld Charles prostrating himself in public at the 
feet of the Pontiff whom he had made into his vassal. 



76 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

All round him Rabelais found intrigue, time-serving, petty 
quarrels and false reconciliations food enough for his stringent 
irony. Little did the scarlet-hatted plotters know whom 
they had among them; not, at all events, till they had 
read their " Pantagruel." The Island of the Papo-manes, 
the parrot prelates in cages, the sacred and wordy Decre- 
tals which meant nothing, must have given them surprises 
not altogether agreeable. For the Pope himself, whether 
Clement VII or Paul III, Rabelais maintained a respect half 
cautious, half decorous. He took the trouble to get Absolu- 
tion from Paul III l for his old offence of leaving the 
monastery without permission. It is difficult to believe that 
the sin weighed upon his conscience. Very likely the Car- 
dinal urged the step as good for his career. However this 
may be, Rabelais" 1 compliance does not show his character 
in its noblest aspect. He was not born to be either a 
lighter or a martyr. He despised forms and did not despise 
expediency. Perhaps it was this creed which made him 
dedicate to the Pope the second Book of his work. The 
farcical allegory disguising the meaning of his words pro- 
tected him from dangerous consequences. 

Meanwhile he writes the most varied letters from Rome. 
He gossips about the doings of the Sophi and the Sultan 
with as much easy familiarity as if he were talking of his 
next-door neighbour. Or leaving public events, he rambles 
on to his friend, the Bishop, about garden matters sow- 
ings and seasons a new-found herb to sweeten Madame 

1 Clement VII died, and Paul III succeeded him, between 
Eabelais' first and second visits to Rome. 



THE DU BELLAYS AND RABELAIS 77 

d'Etissac's bedroom or seeds for salads. Pimpernel, which 
he looks for everywhere, is not to be had, but he sends 
every other sort : even some of that which the Holy Father 
has sown in his secret garden of Belvedere. 

He describes the Venetian Ambassadors as " four good old 
men, all grey-headed,"" and dwells on the magnificence of 
the Cardinal of Trent's suite : robed in red, and bearing on 
their right shoulders an embroidered - wheat-sheaf, closely- 
bound, with " Unitas " written round it. Home is expensive. 
He writes Monseigneur dTEtissac the most light-hearted of 
begging letters. His pocket-money has vanished " and yet," 
says he, " I have spent nothing on naughtiness, or even on 
tit-bits for my palate .... But all my coins go on these 
scrawls of letters; and on hiring my furniture and getting 
decent clothes, even though I try to manage as thriftily a& 
I can. 1 ' 

On his second visit he sends a book of prophecies, picked 
up in Rome, to the Bishop. The place, he says, is abandoned 
to such follies. He has not the slightest faith in them* 
"but/' he adds, "I have never before seen Rome so much 
given up to vanities and divinations. The cause, I think, 
must be: * mobile mutatur semper, cum Principe vulgus. 1 " 

Had Rabelais but written more letters, we might have 
had his portrait of the people whom he met. It is interest- 
ing to think of the men he may have talked with. He 
must have seen, if not spoken to, Galileo and Giordano 
Bruno; and perhaps Michael Angelo also, who was living 
between Rome and Florence. 

Rabelais made a third stay in Rome, when Jean du Bel- 
lay retired there after the death of King Fraftcis. Ht was 



278 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

there when the Dauphin was born, and helped at the Fete 
given by the French Cardinals in honour of the event. The 
triumph of the evening was of his design : a firework panorama 
of Rome, crowned by the Pope on the top of the Vatican 
an olive-branch in one hand, a thunderbolt in the other, 

But that was towards the end of his life. The interval 
was full of experience. Much happened, much also was 
supposed to happen, to him. A whole Apocrypha has 
gathered round his name. It is to the time which followed 
his second stay in Rome that the famous legend of Rabe- 
lais^ "Quart dlieure" belongs. Improbable though it is, it 
is worth the telling. There is no smoke without fire, and 
traditions prove character when they do not prove fact, 
Rabelais, so runs the story, left Rome in 1587, and arrived, 
travel-stained and penniless, at the gate of Lyons. He was 
anxious to reach Paris, but had not the means to do so. 
The ancestor of Scapin, of Figaro, was not to be daunted. 
He got some motley rags, put them in a small trunk and 
made for an inn in the town. His looks were those of a 
tramp, but his manner was such that mine Host believed 
in his promises of payment and gave him the " very private 
room" he asked for. He also demanded bread and wine 
and a little boy who could read and write. While he was 
waiting he took some cinders,, sealed them up in several 
packets and, when the child came, bade him write as he 
dictated. On one was inscribed "Poison for the King of 
France," on another "Poison for the Queen," and so on 
through all the royal family. This done, he dismissed his 
scribe, bidding him on no account reveal what he had been 
doing. The boy went straight home and told his mother, 



THE DU BELLA YS AND RABELAIS 79 

who dutifully hurried to the Mayor. The Mayor arrived 
at the inn and verified the report. Rabelais' appearance, 
his luggage, his answers to the Mayor's questions, confirmed 
his worst suspicions. The Poisoner only said he must get 
to Paris: he had things of the highest importance to tell 
the King. No time was lost; a good horse was brought; 
he was mounted upon it and, under a stout guard, was 
taken to the capital. He entered Paris as he intended, 
without spending a farthing. Once in the presence of the 
King, Francis recognized him and asked him in some sur- 
prise why he arrived in such a plight. Rabelais" 5 answer 
his straits his strategy more than satisfied his sovereign; 
and the jolly King and the jolly philosopher closed the 
episode with laughter. The whole tale is so improbable 
that it needs little comment. It is inconceivable that the 
Cardinal should not have given his secretary money to re- 
turn with; still more inconceivable that the well-known 
physician should not have been recognized at Lyons. But 
the exploit was in character and, as likely as not, Rabelais 
invented it to amuse his cronies at dinner. 

At all events he went that year to Paris, and we hear 
of his being present at the dinner that was given in Dolets 
honour. Thence he returned for two more years to Mont- 
pellier, to delight the town with fresh lectures and take 
his final medical degree. Soon after, his faithful friend, 
th Cardinal, made him Secular Canon of St. Maur, where 
du Bellay himself had a palace. Here Rabelais lived, off 
and on working at his Third Book, till 1545, when it 
appeared. After that, he led a strange vagabond existence 
about which we know few details. He lectured at Angers, 



80 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

he bought a property at Chinon. When his faithful admi- 
rer, Francis, died, in 1547, and the new reign opened with 
religious persecution, the author of " Pantagruel " was obliged 
to flee to Metz. He earned his living as a doctor there, 
but was so poor that he had to appeal to the Cardinal du 
Bellay for money. It was from Metz that he went for the 
third time to Rome. Later on, he was allowed to return 
to France ; was, indeed, discharged from the ranks of the 
heretics and made into a parish-priest. In 1550, the Car- 
dinal du Bellay presented him with the living of Meudon. 

His capacity for compromise came again into play. Heroics 
and rashness offended his good sense. Ease he must have 
for the pursuit of knowledge, and he held that the end 
justified the means. The friends at his back went for much, 
but his caution was his best friend at court. 

There are a good many uncanonical stories about his 
pious fulfilment of his parish duties. Thrashing the child- 
ren was one of them ; teaching them to read was another. 
He gave lessons in plain-song to the young clerks. He re- 
ceived visits from prelates who came long distances for his 
counsel. They asked his advice about very odd matters, 
and it is hard to discover whether they consulted him as 
a clergyman or a Pantagruelist. The Bishop of Narbonne, 
so says legend, came from afar to Meudon, on purpose to 
get his opinion about the legitimacy of an infant, born in his 
diocese. It is like one of the knotty points Rabelais invented 
for his Pedants in "Gargantua", and is probably quite SB 
fabulous. The truth is that his priestly avocations did not 
take up too much of his time. Nature had made him a 
better traveller than a Cur, and he went on rather fre- 



THE DU BELLA YS AND RABELAIS 281 

quent trips during the period of his ministry. For all that, 
he seems as usual to have gained the love of the country- 
side. "Allons a Meudon," runs a saying of a hundred 
years later, "nous y verrons le Chateau, la Terrasse, les 
Grottes et M. le Cure : homme du monde le plus revenant 
en figure, de la plus belle humeur, qui report le mieux 
ses amis et tous les honnetes gens, et du meilleur en- 
tretien." 

The Castle of Meudon belonged to the Catholic Guises. 
During the time of Rabelais'* ministry, their protege Ronsard 
lodged in one of its towers, known as the Tour de Ronsard. 
There Joachim du Bellay sometimes joined him, and the 
two poets met the Cure. It is strange that the men who 
transformed French poetry should have lived side by side 
with the man who transformed French prose. Stranger 
still, that writers who were making for the same end the 
suppression of pedantry the creation of a real French lit- 
erature should have felt such antipathy for one another. 
For Ronsard's dislike to Rabelais was hardly to be equalled, 
even by du Bellay's. Aesthetes and Realists are not made 
to get on with one another. The fastidious and patrician art 
which chiselled verse to the minutest perfection did not 
suit Rabelais' exuberant genius. Both poets wrote epitaphs 
upon him which do not redound to their credit Ronsard's 
is too cruel to be remembered : du Bellay's is bad enough. 
"In this tomb, lies a tomb" it ran "I am Paraphagus, 
4pnihilated here by the crushing mass of my body .... I 
exercised the art of healing; but the art of rousing laughter 
was toy only care. Therefore, traveller, shed no tears, but 
laugh, if you wish to give pleasure to my shade." 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Jealousy had something to say to this, but natural hostil- 
ity had more. 

Their intercourse, however, was not long. In 1552, Ra- 
belais resigned his living. Soon after, in the same year, 
his Fourth Book came out. The two incidents were pre- 
sumably connected. His writings, loved by the Court and 
the public, were not loved by any theologian. Though 
caution had enabled him to escape persecution, Catholic and 
Protestant were equally strong against him. Calvin condemn- 
ed him from the pulpit; and the Huguenot, Estienne, no 
less than the Sorbonne, would have liked Rabelais to be 
burned. He probably heard from high places that he must 
choose between his parsonage and his book, and true to his 
flag, he chose his book. He had,^it is true, applied to the 
new King for permission to print his work. The permission 
was retarded, and only arrived after his resignation. It 
was the last permission that he asked for. His last and 
Fifth Book, parts of which are generally accepted as spurious, 
did not appear till 1562, nine years after his death. 

Rabelais did not dare the stake he courted no pain or 
peril. But his final action had been one of moral courage. 
It was a fitting close to life. He turned his steps towards 
Paris and there, in the Rue Des Jardins, the end came. 
He died in 1558, 1 at fifty-eight years of age twelve years 
before the birth of Shakspeare, five years after the birth of 
Cervantes, nineteen after that of Montaigne. "Je vais 
cherchez le grand Peut-6tre" : these, says tradition, were his 

1 The exact date of his death is uncertain ; it may have been 
a few months earlier, in 155$. But various facts point to 155$ 
as the most probable date. 



THE DU BELLAYS AND RABELAIS 288 

parting words to the world. They may well have been so : 
he believed in the immortality, in the endless vitality of 
the soul His warrant for belief was in his own breast. It 
is fitting to imagine that great spirit, full of insatiable 
curiosity, ranging, free from its bonds, through vast new 
worlds: enjoying the fulfilment of its possibilities as gaily 
and courageously as it had done upon the earth. He had 
loved the body, but never to the detriment of the soul 
" Tame intellective 11 , as he himself named it. " Uame intellec- 
tive " gave him his reward. 

While he was alive, the pageant of his century absorbed 
him. Nothing of experience came amiss : it was his natural 
element. We may not make assertions about the unknown ; 
and yet there is one thing we feel sure of wherever his 
spirit may now be, it is taking an immense interest in life. 



CHAPTER XVII 

(1533 155) 

I 

GARGANT0A AND PANTAGRUEL 

THERE are many aspects under which we can regard the 
New Gospel of the Renaissance Rabelais 1 great book full 
of "the caprices of his strength," full of "huge fantasies 
of the debonnair giants, whom he served in all humility." 
He wrote at a time when men and women still delighted 
in fairy-tales; and he used them with childish enjoyment, 
as a means of conveying realities. His fiction pleased him 
almost as much as his irony. His first book tells the ex- 
periences of the Giant Gargantua, son of the Giant Grand- 
gousier ; the other four recount the education and adventures 
of Gargantua^s son, Prince Pantagruel also a giant who, 
in his manhood, sets forth in his ship to seek "the Temple 
of the divine Bacbuc" the well-head of the Fountain of 
magic wine the distant shrine of knowledge. Gargantua 
is less primitive than Grandgousier. Pantagruel is more 
intellectual than Gargantua; his outlook is larger, his aims 
are more spiritual Grandgousier was said to be the like- 
ness of Louis XII Gargantua and Pantagruel together are 
supposed to give a picture of Francis, The portraits are 
rather indefinite, but the whole book is full of undercurrents 



GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUEL 285 

and fables. Sometimes Rabelais is conscious of his allegory, 
sometimes he is not. Often, like all great creators, he writes 
truths the full significance of which he does not know. 
Truth has an organic power of growth which time alone 
develops ; and every seer of Truth lets loose a force which 
has a life apart from him : which acquires new meanings 
with new centuries. 

In approaching such a mass, an almost inchoate mass 
of literature as these five "Books" represent, it is well to 
decide at the outset what we are going to seek there, or 
at least what we are going to discard. There is, to begin 
with, the expert's point of view. Learned disputes have 
raged over the fifth Book, the greater part of which is 
evidently not by Rabelais. It is written by an author of 
Protestant convictions, and Rabelais had no more taste for 
definite Protestantism than he had for hierarchical Catholic- 
ism. The satire is cruder, the style heavier, and it is only 
in the last chapters which describe the Temple of Bacbuc, that 
we again recognize the master-hand. He had evidently left 
Part V unfinished at his death, excepting for the last few 
chapters the climax of the whole which he had written 
with all the force and all the fancy of his genius. The 
rest he had probably sketched out ; and some admiring 
disciple, in possession of the fragments, filled in the outlines 
and, twelve years after he died, published the result. 

But the province of the expert is a world in itself, which 
it is not our task to enter. 

There is also the historical aspect of the work. It is 
both easy and repaying to regard it as the mirror of the 
times, the epitome of Rabelais 7 existence. It is full of 



286 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

colour and movement; it will yield us every scene of that 
rich and stirring generation. 

"As one who dreams waking, he saw before him the 
motley pictures of his life. First the narrow horizon of the 
valley where he was born; its * prentices 1 gossip its peas- 
ant's brawls. Next his profound reading in the Cloister, 
with its one little window open on the outer world .... 
Then the lawyers of Poitiers and the easy-going days of a 
vagabond-student .... Or the country gentleman thrashing 
the police ; or the old towns on the Loire, in all their pic- 
turesque disorder .... At last the studious peace of Mont- 
pellier and the comparative security of a science which the 
Church allowed." l All this and a great deal more besides, 
till the number of impressions grows bewildering. 

But vivid though they are, and amply repaying, there 
are still better things to be found in the overflowing pages. 
Rabelais the man, Rabelais the thinker, stands revealed to 
us, erect, there. As we turn the leaves, we get to know his 
dealings both with men and with ideas. His attitude to- 
wards Nature, towards man, towards God, becomes clear to 
us. And it is to discover his thoughts as far as we are 
able, that we now approach his writings. 

"Every genius," says a French writer, "has one face 
turned towards time and another towards eternity." " Rabe- 
lais," he adds, "in his own day was first and foremost a 
physician." It told in his dealings with people. He had 
the doctor's merciful view of poor broken humanity. He 
knew that bodily misery had a great deal to do with sin. 
He had the most modern notions about nerves and tempero- 
1 Vie de Rabelais : Ren6 Millet 



GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUEL 

ment. He believed in sympathies and antipathies. Ill-health, 
he said, was "une farce a trois personnages: le malade, le 
medecin, la maladie." He saw that the mind reacted on 
the body and the body on the mind. A doctor must not 
only be gay of speech; he must be smart and beautifully 
dressed. Fasting he condemns, "since it is a hard matter 
to keep the spirit kind and serene when the body suffereth 
from inanition." Too much food is bad, " for to him that 
surfeiteth it is hard to conceive things spiritual."" Such say- 
ings' may not seem of great weight, but they sound the humane 
note of compassion, and that was the note of Rabelais. 

His humour, however caustic, was full of this quality. 
Much of this humour is, unfortunately, outside the pale of 
discussion. Rabelais' chaotic coarseness cannot be denied. 
It is inconceivable that so noble a mind could so debase 
itself : that the philosopher, the star-lover, should, in a mo- 
ment, turn into a pot-house boor. There is no explanation, 
saving that his prodigal vitality carried him he knew not 
whither. But his indecence never injured his kindness. His 
humour was always that of a man who loved his fellow- 
men. He did not know what the word " cynicism " meant. 
His formless grossness was at least less harmful than the 
cruel grossness of Dean Swift, whose laugh was not "le 
propre de rhomme." The dregs of the wine might be 
sickening, but the vintage was good. 

Rabelais'* Muscadel came fresh and bubbling from the 
spring : " la fontaine de mes esprits animaux," as he called 
it. Panurge, the prince of rascals, is the mouthpiece of 
much of his humour : Panurge, the Falstaff of France, whom 
Pantagruel picks up in rags and makes into his boon- 



288 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

companion. If much that Pan urge uttered does not bear 
quotation, Rabelais has put into his lips many of his wisest 
and merriest sayings. He was a thief, a coward and a 
braggart; he could also babble o' green fields. And, like 
Sir John, he was at no time without the human touch 
the love of good fellowship. Rabelais" mirth is never directed 
at what is really sacred. His irony is content with the 
things that are held so, and his laugh succeeds where ser- 
mons and legislation are impotent. He runs full tilt against 
the abuses in the world. Hypocrite priests, fashionable 
doctors, grabbing attorneys, unjust judges in fur-lined coats, 
all have to take their share of his satire. " The law^s delays," 
" the insolence of office, 1 ' come in for their turn. The futile 
pedantries and puerilities of the law-courts roused him even 
more than its shams, and he is always at his best when he is 
making game of legal language. Fools he divided into " the 
metaphysical, the predestined, the fools elect and the fools 
imperial." He believed that folly had done more harm on 
the earth than sin and he plied its endless etiquettes with 
ridicule. Like all true humourists, he revelled in incongrui- 
ties; and his Hades, where Cleopatra sells onions, adjusts 
most of the world's inequalities. Other pens have been subtler, 
none more generous than his. And he is not only com- 
passionate : he asserts the dignity of mankind. He causes 
it to emerge fresh and strong from its nigs and its dust- 
heaps. He knows it was made to be happy. Wherever he 
turns, he holds a brief for humanity in the immemorial law- 
suit against humbug and corruption. 

Rabelais stands out finely as a humourist, Yet, for poster- 
ity, there are wider and nobler sides of him. The c< 



GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUEL 89 

which he turns to eternity is one of ever-ranging expression. 
His attitude towards Nature gives the key to his whole 
character. In one of his fables the sumptuous fables of 
Rabelais he makes her the mother of Harmony and Beauty, 
and "Contre-Nature" of Hatred and Discord, the harsh 
children of a deformed parent. He worshipped Nature, and 
to learn her secrets was his panacea for the stricken world. 
"Give thyself up with all thy soul to the search after 
Nature^s secrets 7 ' so wrote Gargantua in his famous letter 
of advice to his son Pantagruel " Let there be no sea, no 
river, no fountain, the fish of the which thon dost not know ; 
and make thyself acquainted with all the birds of the air, 
the trees, the bushes, the fruits of the forest, every sort of 
grass on the earth every metal hidden in the bowels there- 
of. ... Thou shouldst, in faith, read the books of the scholars, 
but, above all, have constant recourse to experience. And 
by patient study get thyself a perfect knowledge of that 
other world which is man What an abyss of know- 
ledge there lieth under my feet!" 

Rabelais had the courage to descend into the abyss. Yet 
he had measured its depth; he was no cocksure explorer. 
He was one of those rare men of science who combine 
minute observation with rich imagination. Goethe was an- 
other, but he lived in the dawn of a scientific age. What 
was remarkable about Rabelais was his enjoyment of the 
universe. He loved and watched Nature at a time when 
men had no eyes for her when rivers still meant elaborate 
river-gods, and groves were the only acknowledged sort of 
woodland. In the past, the poet, Charles d^Orleans, had 
shown a faithful feeling for the earth and her seasons ; but 

19 



290 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

he was alone of his kind. In Rabelais' own day Ronsard 
and du Bellay, for a few years his contemporaries, were 
creating a new world of poetry in which Nature had a place. 
But it was, with few exceptions, still a classic nature, and 
Ronsard's delicious forest fountains are usually mere adjuncts 
of light love. 

Rabelais was a bom naturalist. His experiments only 
made him more reverent. He tried them in almost every 
direction. Botany was his best-loved study: a garden 
his unfailing resource. He was always practical. Tradition 
says that he brought melons, and violets of Alexandria from 
Italy into France. He knew intimately all the insects that 
are hostile to the various crops. He gave fascinating 
instructions about the growth of hemp. In his part of the 
world it was called Pantagruelion and one wonders whether 
this was the humble source of the great name of his Prince. 
"This same Pantagruelion," he says, "should be sown at the 
coming of the swallows, and taken up when the grass- 
hoppers begin to grow hoarse." Knowledge of herbs and 
flowers was in his eyes an essential part of education. 
Ponocrates and his pupil have delightful days "herborisant," 
and return home at evening time with their hands chock- 
full of plants. 

If they had the eyes of their creator, they could tell 
every bird by its flight. His shrewd mind had made many 
modern observations. Song and movement among beasts 
and birds were, he discovered, often the result of natural 
appetites. Hunger was a potent magician. *<It teacheth 
the brutes arts of which Nature knows nothing. It maketh 
poets of ravens and jays, parrots and starlings .... and 



GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUEL 291 

teacheth them to speak and to sing Other birds it 

subjugateth in such manner that even when they mount 
up in the full liberty of heaven, now fluttering, now flying 
away, now making love to one another, it causeth them 
suddenly to descend to the earth. And this same hunger 
niaketh the elephant to dance, the lion and rhinoceros to 
twirl and to leap, according to its commandment." Perhaps 
Nature alone can provide a parallel for his own promiscu- 
ous prodigality which seemed to pour out good and evil 
indifferently. Wherever he turned he found fresh food for 
admiration. "The industry of Nature," he says, "appeareth 
marvellously in the frolic she seemeth to have held in form- 
ing her sea-shells. So rich are they in variety, so countless 
in colour and design, so fanciful in their shapes and 
markings, that art can never imitate them."" 

When he looks at the stars he speaks in a higher strain. 
Every evening, when the Prince Pantagruel has done his 
lessons, his tutor takes him to the place in the house which 
is most open to the sky and shows him the face of the 
heavens and makes him watch the aspects of the stars. 
Then, "full of adoration, they pray to God, the Creator, 
ratifying their faith towards him and glorifying Him for 
His immense goodness. 1 ' 

The God revealed by Nature was the God whom Rabelais 
worshipped. The new discovery of natural law filled him 
with a sort of ecstasy. He hated asceticism. He hated it 
worse than death far worse than the sins it was meant 
to suppress. To him it meant falsehood and immorality. 
He never tired of waging war against it with all the weapons 
in his armoury his deepest thought, his barbed irony, his 



292 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

irresistible laughter. None had had better opportunities of 
judging it. His years in the cloister had shown him not 
only its gross evils, but the stubborn ignorance that it 
fostered. He pursued it with equal vigour in all its forms 
intellectual as well as moral. The Schoolmen he detested 
as cordially as the monks, and their system was the object 
of his mirth. "Why should you not believe this?" he says 
of an incredible fact "Because, you say, it is absolutely 
improbable. 1 tell you that just for this reason you ought to 
believe it with perfect faith. For the Sorbonnists say that 
Faith is an argument about things of no sort of probability," 

Upon the monks he poured his contempt. At best they 
were gluttons and drunkards, like his own Friar Jean 
FEntommeur. They worked havoc, they made mischief, they 
heaped humbug upon the world. 

" They mutter," he wrote, " a vast number of psalms and 
Aves which they do not understand in the least. The 
which I call a *moque-Dieu" > and not a prayer to the 
Almighty. . . . Every Christian, of any class, in any place 
and at any time, can pray to God; and His Spirit prays 
and intercedes for men and God receives them into Grace." 

As for pontiffs and prelates, they get no better treatment 
than their humbler brethren at his hands. In his picture 
of Hades, Pope Julius II is a pieman who charges too 
highly for his pies and is soundly thrashed for his fraudu- 
lence. And if we want thorough-going satire, we need only 
travel with Pantagruel- to the Island of the Papomanes, 
where Cardinals are kept in gilt cages, like parrots, and 
the mythology of mediaeval Papacy is scattered by a blast 
of ridicule. 



GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUEL 293 

But Rabelais was no mere destroyer; he had something 
to build up in the place of what he pulled down. He was 
that rare creature a critic with an ideal. He embodied 
his ideal in the Abbey of Thelema the Utopian Cloister 
which is the fulfilment of all his dreams for the world. 

Over its carven portal stood written, "Fais ce que 
voudras." Renaissance and Evangel were side by side, for a 
second motto was emblazoned there. "Enter here, 1 * it ran, 
"all ye who in your lives proclaim the Gospel, fearless of 
men's hatred. Here shall ye find a refuge and a fortress 
against hostile error .... which poisons the world. Enter, 
I say, and found a deeper faith." There were many who 
responded to the call. Men and women alike retired there 
to study in one another's company. They were men and 
women fresh from the brush of Titian. Their raiment was 
of silver and rose-coloured tissue, and in their golden hair 
the ladies wore "papillettes" of gold and precious stones. 
Their staircases were of porphyry; they had galleries and 
libraries; gardens and courts with fountains. Their guar- 
dian angels were the three Graces, with water flowing from 
their breasts. All the sculptures, all the beauty, of the 
Chateaux of Touraine encompassed them. Rabelais enjoyed 
endowing them with the splendour that he loved. With 
intellectual splendour also; they read together devoutly 
philosophy and science were their daily bread. None of 
their faculties rusted for want of use. They lived fully and 
nobly, because, says Rabelais: 

"Free people, well-born and gently nurtured, talking to- 
gether in goodly companies, have a natural instinct, a spur, 
which pricketh them on to virtuous deeds and withdraweth 



294 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

them from vice; and this spur is named Honour. These 
same people, when by vile subjection and constraint they 
are deformed and enslaved, divert from its true course 
the noble affection by the which they are willingly impelled 
unto goodness, and use it to remove and circumvent this 
yoke of servitude. For we always set forth on forbidden 
enterprises and covet that which is denied us. 1 " 

And as the Thelemites "proved all things," they also 
made experiments in marriage. The monks of the happy 
Abbey were often claimed by the world's affairs. Each one, 
when he left, singled out his lady and took her with him 
as his bride. And "the husbands and wives who chose each 
other freely at Thelema loved each other at the end of 
their lives as dearly as on the first day of their marriage." 

Goethe would have delighted in Thelema. His attitude 
towards science is not his only point of resemblance to 
PantagrueL Both believed in self-development. But Rabe- 
lais'* creed, if less lofty, is warmer and more human than 
Goethe's. It certainly leaves little room for sacrifice or for 
heroism, but he thought that people found ample discipline 
in the humble charities of daily life. "Men," he said, " were 
born for the aid and succour of men." Nature herself sets 
the example. The stars lend us their light; the earth her 
sweetness, and they ask for nothing in return. " We establish 
sovereign good, not by grasping and taking, but by opening 
our hands and scattering bounty. And we deem ourselves 
happy, not if we receive much from others, as the sects of 
your world prescribe, but if we give largely unto them." 

He paid little heed to the rivers of Parpha and he loved 
to bathe in Jordan. The one thing that he condemned waa 



GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUEL S95 

scorn of the obvious a refusal to walk in the ordinary 
ways of life. " Nothing," he wrote, " displeaseth me except- 
ing a search after novelty and a contempt for common 
usage." Family-life, he believed, with its plain duties, offered 
a field wide enough for most people. 

** Depart, poor folk, in the name of God, the Creator, 1 * 5 
so says Grandgousier to the pilgrims, " and may He be your 
constant guide. But henceforth take care how ye under 
take these idle and useless journeys. Maintain your fami- 
lies; work, each man, at his own business; teach your 
children; and live as the Apostle, St, Paul, teacheth you. 
If you do this, God and the Angels will have you in their 
keeping, and the Saints will be with you.' 1 

The cqnsecration of humdrum is, after all, no unnecessary 
creed. It has not been hackneyed, nor has it been beautified, 
because it is so needful that men forget to preach it. Rabe- 
lais set his feet firmly in the Via Media. There is always 
the element of caution in such a choice and he was not the 
man to despise it. "Oh," cries the coward, Panurge, "how 
small is the number of those whom Jupiter hath so much 
favoured as to predestine them to cabbage-planting! For 
they always have one foot on the earth and the other is 
not far from it. Let who will talk high about happiness 
and sovereign good. / decree that whoever planteth cabbages 
hath attained to happiness at once." 

This is one point of view; but Habelais had another 
and a finer. However keenly we demand the absolute, we 
have to discover that we are mortal. Asceticism seemed to 
him not only false, but presumptuous. The Middle Way, 
resignation to matter-of-fact, besides prudence needs humility 



S96 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

and a profound patience. "I have this hope in God," he 
wrote, " that He will hear our prayers, seeing, the firm faith 
in which we proffer them; that He will fulfil our wishes, 
provided they are lowly. The Mean, say the ancient sages, 

is golden and you will find that the prayers of such 

as have asked for what is moderate have never gone astray. 
Wish then for what is moderate. It will surely come to 
you, and with all the better cheer, if you toil and work 
while you are waiting. C A11 very well, 1 you will say, 'but 
God might just as well have given me sixty or eighty thou- 
sand as the thirteenth part of a fraction. For He is omni- 
potent. A million from Him is as little as a farthing.' 
Ah, but who has taught you, poor people, thus to discourse 
and to prate of the power and predestination of God? 
Peace! Humble yourselves before His Holy Face and re- 
cognize your imperfections. This is the Truth on which I 
found my hope." 

Rabelais was confident in his creed, and his creed went 
farther than his definition of it. " Pantagruelism," he says, 
" consists in a certain quality of mind gracious and robust 
conceived in scorn of accident and fortune. Do ye ask 
me why, good people? I will give you an unanswerable 
answer : such is the Will of the all-good, the almighty 
God, in the which I acquiesce. And I reverence that holiest 
Word of good tidings, the Gospel, as first it ntood written." 

The last phrase is suggestive. Rabelais believed in the 
Gospel He took no care to hide the nature of that faith, 
or his views concerning the mystery of Spirit. They stand 
revealed in his book, bold and clear in the full light 
of day. 



THE FAITH OF RABELAIS ' 

II 

THE FAITH OF RABELAIS 

Pantagruel's sunny acceptance of common life, his sancti- 
fication of the Via Media, mean, it may be urged, nothing 
more than the religion of the Frenchman on an Olympian 
scale the religion of good sense and good humour: the 
cheerful scepticism, which sees and accepts things just as 
they are and does not aim too high for success. 

Had Rabelais stopped here, he would have remained a 
philosopher and made no more exalted flight than Montaigne. 
His deep insight into human nature led him farther and 
he believed in the permanence of soul. The interdependence 
of body and soul was one of his dogmas, and Descartes'* 
theory that soul was an essence apart, complete in itself, 
would never have appealed to him. Thank the good God, 
he says, when you eat and drink, "for by this sweet bread 
and wine He cures you of all your perturbations, whether 
of body or of soul." But, for all his naturalism, he declared 
the supremacy of spirit. When Gargantua writes to his 
son, he tells him how he should mourn if the boy were 
only to resemble him in "the lesser part of me, the body, 
if the better part, the soul, which makes men bless your 
name, were to prove degenerate and debased." In the 
infinite powers of that "better part" he had a strong faith. 
The soul brings forth good and evil, he said, and they 
have no existence apart from it. Things are bad, or the 
contrary, "because they proceed from the heart and the 
thought of man. The spirit is the workshop where good 
and ill are created." 



298 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Tradition has it that Rabelais died saying, "Je vais 
chercher le grand Peut-etre."" Another story (which was 
known soon after his death) tells how the Bishop of Evreux 
possessed a Galen, annotated by Rabelais. By the side of 
a passage in which the elder doctor denied the immortality 
of the soul, the younger and greater had written, "Hie 
vero se Galenus plumbeum ostendit." The Bishop, accord- 
ing to report, made use of the note to undeceive Henri IV, 
who had always looked upon Rabelais as an atheist. But 
quite apart from these tales, true or apocryphal, we have, 
in his great book, his own testimony as to his creed. 

"I believe," says Pantagruel, "that all thinking souls 
(toutes ames Mellectives) are beyond the power of Fate^s 
scissors. All are alike immortal; whether they belong to 
angels, demons, or human beings." And elsewhere he bids 
them await death, like the good poet, Rominagrobis, "with 
joyful bearing, frank countenance, and radiant looks," that 
we may here have a foretaste of ""the sweet felicity that 
the good God hath prepared for His faithful, his chosen 
servants, in the life beyond the Life of Immortality. 1 ' 
What the nature of a future life might be Rabelais did 
not try to define; the hair-splittings of theology were the 
object of his greatest scorn, and he had no wish to belittle 
infinity by formulae. When his company of pilgrims, led 
by Prince Pantagruel, enter the great Temple of Bacbuc, 
the priestess gives to every man wine from the same cup 
and the same fountain; but in each one^s mouth it tastes 
differently and becomes another wine, lliis allegory repre- 
sents Rabelais'* whole attitude towards Truth ; to him it was 
an absolute reality, taking a million forms in a million 



THE FAITH OF RABELAIS 

minds. Yet no one could find such words as he with which 
to blazon forth the Infinite; they seem the very emblems 
of Truth. 

"Go, my friends," says the priestess, when she has given 
the wine, "go, in the keeping of that Intellectual Sphere 
whose centre is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere, 
and whom we call God. The Egyptians hail their sove- 
reign Deity as the Abstruse the Hidden One. And be- 
cause they invoked Him by this name, entreating Him to 
reveal Himself to them, He widened their knowledge of 
Himself and His creatures, guiding them by His bright 
lantern." 

Christianity, expressed in action, seemed to him the 
clearest ray which the lantern had hitherto vouchsafed. For 
him Christ was "the Saviour King, in whom all oracles, 
all prophecies found an end : just as the skulking shadows 
vanish at the light of the clear sun." And later he em- 
broiders his thought with that strange mixture of noble 
religion and Renaissance adornment, so often seen in the 
Church sculpture of his day. 

"Pan is dead!" cries a voice only heard by PantagrueTs 
pilot, as he steers the ship amid the Grecian isles. "All 
the same," says Pantagruel, "I interpret this to mean that 
great Saviour of the faithful, who was slain shamefully in 
Judea through the envy of the Pontiffs, the Doctors, and 
the Monks. And the interpretation seemeth to me in no 
wise repellent; for He can well be called Pan according to 
the Greek tongue, seeing that He is our all. And all that 
we are, all that we live, all that we have, all that we hope, 
is Him, in Him, from Him, by Him. He is the good Pan, 



300 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

the great Shepherd, who, as the passionate Corydon attesteth, 
loveth not only His sheep but His shepherds." 

Rabelais was a Modern. He was a great Reconciler. He 
tried to make peace between faith and science, imagination 
and reason, the natural and the supernatural. "If," he says, 
"we would achieve a sure and satisfying knowledge of the 
divine, two things are necessary God's guidance and man's 
company. 1 ' With us of to-day any reconciliation of the 
spiritual and the material has been a conscious struggle, a 
gradual adjustment of facts; but with Rabelais it was a 
spontaneous expression of views which he never took to be 
conflicting. Our creeds may be the more experienced; but 
his are the more vivifying rich as they are in the splen- 
dour and robustness of youth. 

His colossal genius sets him apart in his age, but he was 
not alone in his ideas. Many of them, as we know, were 
shared by other thinkers a handful of men scattered over 
Europe, who formed the Broad Church party of the day. 
Erasmus, Sir Thomas More and their school, were the best 
known among them, and much that they wrote would have 
pleased Prince Pantagruel. Zwinglius, the Swiss Reformer, 
although a confessed Protestant divided from them in creed, 
belonged to them by his thought. He loved Socrates and 
gave him a place between David and St. Paul. "Religion," 
he wrote, " was not confined within the boundaries of Pales- 
tine; for God, the Spirit, did not only create Palestine, 
but the whole Universe. He feeds the souls of all His 
chosen, wherever they be and His choice is hidden from 
us. Hath He, indeed, called us into His secret counsels?'" 1 

Or there was Conrad Mutian, a disciple of Erasmus. " There 



THE FAITH OF RABELAIS 301 

is only one God" he said "it is the names we give Him 
that differ. But let us not name Him ; these are myste- 
ries which should be wrapped in silence, like the mysteries 
of Eleusis. Scorn inferior gods and hold thy peace." " Reli- 
gion," he writes elsewhere, "should be the doctrine of pure 
humanity." The works of Erasmus supply a harvest of 
such sayings. " If," he says in one place, " you would gain 
the peace which is the ideal of your religion, you must 
speak as little as possible of dogmatic definitions, and on a 
great many points allow everybody a free and personal 
judgment." Christian myths, he tells us, would hardly be 
better than Pagan, if they were not taken allegorically. It 
is the business of the sage to liberate the meaning from 
the symbol; he must leave the dogma to the mob. 

Sir Thomas More was haunted by the same ideas. He 
pursues them among his Utopians who " define virtue to be 
life ordered according to nature. . . . Their churches be very 
gorgeous, not only of fine and curious workmanship, but 
also .... very wide and large, and able to receive a great 
company of people .... Religion is not there of one sort 
among all men, and yet all the kinds and fashions of it, 
though they be sundry and manifold, agree together in the 
honour of the Divine Nature, as going divers ways to one 
end : therefore nothing is seen or heard in the churches 
but that seemeth to agree indifferently with them all If 
there be a distinct kind of sacrifice peculiar to any several 
sect, that they execute at home in their own houses . 
They call on no peculiar name of God, but only Mythra; 
in which word they all agree together in one nature of the 
divine Majesty whatsoever it be." 



fl02 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

These men, in spite of their liberalism, were not con- 
scious innovators. They were deeply attached to the old 
bottles and did not see that their new wine was likely to 
burst them. Rabelais, in the prologue to his fourth book, 
addressed to the Cardinal de Chatillon, says that he would 
certainly light his own funeral-pyre " a Pexemple du phenix," 
if one word of heresy were found in his pages. He dis- 
liked Luther as much as did Erasmus, and Sir Thomas 
More went to the scaffold in the cause of Papal supremacy. 

Rabelais stands apart from his comrades for more reasons 
than one ; and it is not only his mighty genius which carries 
him past them. The warmth of his beliefs distinguished 
him from the rest. Erasmus and his intellectual followers 
were cold towards humanity, except as an idea; they loved 
learning and refinement, despised fools, and hated ignorance 
and the mob. Sir Thomas More was, it is true, full of 
benevolence; but the masses, for him, were still the lower 
classes, and it was more as a thinker that he benefited them 
in his distant Utopia than by any active intercourse. Rabe- 
lais alone loved them, not as objects of philanthropy, but 
because he loved his kind, and because good nature and 
honesty, the virtues he most cared for, were oftenest found 
among the people. His best fables are about peasants, and 
cabbage-planters were his heroes. Probably his very faults, 
his natural coarseness and unbridled jollity, had a good 
deal to do with his sympathies ; but for all that, they were 
grounded upon a generous lov^. There was no scorn in 
Rabelais 1 large and sunny nature. He did not even despise 
fools; the worst he did was to laugh at them and put 
them into particular pigeon-holes. There are, he says, several 



THE FAITH OF RABELAIS SOS 

sorts of fool, "the metaphysical fool, the predestined fool, 
the fool elect, and the fool Imperial. 1 " Shakespeare himself 
could not show a greater amenity." 

The thought of Rabelais bore blossom in his own times 
and in those immediately after him, but it did not bear 
fruit till a much later day. It is difficult, perhaps impos- 
sible, to gauge his work or determine who are his spiritual 
descendants, and yet it is hard to refrain from casting a 
glance in that direction. He belonged, as we have said, to 
the Reconcilers: to those who wished to combine the old 
with the new, and knowledge with religion. But it is 
not too much to say that the modern school of science 
the lovers of Nature and Reason, the students of their 
laws are descended in direct line from Rabelais, though 
king and dynasty are alike unconscious of one another. 
Newton and Locke, Darwin and Huxley, Herschel and 
Pasteur, would all have delighted him. When we come to 
the unscientific, we do not trace his lineage so clearly. In 
France, as M. Brunetiere has pointed out, Gargantua's 
naturalism too easily turned into other isms materialism, 
individualism, and what not, leading men far enough from 
Rabelais'* noble beliefs. Even his philosophy of cabbage- 
planting and the value of the obvious turned to cynicism 
in the mouth of Voltaire, who was his fellow in irony as 
well as in his hatred of shams. Perhaps it needed the heart 
of the giant, Gargantua, to ennoble the creed of common 
sense. He and his ^esprit Gaulois" grew, as it were, 
to be part of the French soil and, while they enriched it, 
became undistinguishable from it. 

Far different is it with Rousseau. He and Rabelais the 



304 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

first apostles of Nature may be said to represent the two 
great natural schools of thought; those who with Rabelais 
look at Nature from the outside; those who with Rousseau 
look at her through the medium of their own souls. Rous- 
seau formed a larger number of writers by his direct influ- 
ence : the Romantic school and its followers Chateaubriand, 
George Sand, De Musset, Victor Hugo but Rabelais will 
probably have more effect on thought in the long run. 

So much for France. It is curious that it should be in 
England that his most recognisable descendants can be found. 
Charles Kingsley, his eager admirer, is one of them : Kingsley 
with his "consecration of things secular" and his reverence 
for every form of life. Robert Browning is another he 
who loved the light and fought asceticism as the Devil; 
he who reverenced the "poor coarse hand"'' and said that 
"All good things are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, 
than flesh helps soul." Browning's orthodoxy heightens the 
resemblance; like Rabelais, he was content to let things 
alone and accept the old forms, provided he might fill them 
with a new meaning. Among earlier authors there are none 
so closely related as these two to the Prince Pantagruel. 
Sir Thomas Browne, it is true, also doctor and philosopher, 
bears some resemblance to the Renaissance thinker ; but the 
"Religio Medici" is made for the by-ways of wisdom -for 
the intimate firelight of the study and has little to do 
with the great high-roads of thought. 

Love extended to our fellows is to Rabelais, as to 
Browning and Kingsley, the only solution of human ilk 
If men would help one another there would be "peace 
among mortals, love and delight, good faith, repose and 



THE FAITH OF RABELAIS 305 

feasting. No lawsuit, no war, no disputing." And without 
this large charity, intellect, which he so much valued, seemed 
to him worthless. " Wisdom, 1 " he says, " cannot enter an 
unkind spirit, and knowledge without conscience is the ruin 
of the soul." No better words could be found with which 
to close a chapter on Rabelais : words, like himself, strong, 
generous, serene. 



20 



BOOK IV 
THE END OF THE REIGN 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER XVIII. 

Lettres de Catherine de M6dicis. 
Lettres de Diane de Poitiers: edited by GUIFFRY. 
Lettres de Marguerite d'Angoulme. 

Etudes sur Fran9ois I : PAULIN PARIS (" Relations des Ambassadeurs 
Ve"netiens sur les affaires de France/' as quoted in this work), 
FHeptam&ron: MARGUERITE D'ANGOUL^ME. 
Re"dt d'un Bourgeois de Paris. 
Mdjmoires de Benvenuto Cellini. 
Works of Brant6me: Vol. vn. 
Margaret of Angoulme : MARY ROBINSON. 
Livre d'Etat de Marguerite d'Angoul&me : 

LK COMTE DE LA FERRlfiRE. 

Histoire de France (Vol. vin): MARTIN. 
La Renaissance 1 MlCHKLET . 
La R6forme ' 



CHAPTER XVIII 
(15401546) 

THE LATER YEARS OF FRANCIS I 

THE King of France was no longer young ; he had reached 
the period of middle-age a period ill-suited to his nature. 
But he never ceased to make the same splendid impression 
on all who beheld him. The Venetian Ambassadors at the 
French Court, contemporaries of Tintoret and Titian, painted 
vivid portraits with their pens. In one of his despatches 
Giustiniani gave us Margarets picture ; another man, Cavalli, 
presents us with that of Francis, when he was about fifty years 
old. "He is," runs the account, "of a presence so royal, 
that without knowing him or ever having seen his portrait, 
there is not one stranger who would not say when he saw 
him : * That is the King.' There is in all his movements 
a gravity and a grandeur which, to my thinking, no 
prince can hope to emulate. He has a fresh colour. . . . 
eats and drinks well, and no one could sleep better. What 
is more important is that he insists on living gaily, without 
too many cares. He loves distinction in apparel. His 
clothes are braided and slashed and sprinkled with precious 
stones. His waistcoats are of most excellent workmanship 
and his pleated chemise shows through the opening, in true 
French fashion. His body enjoys the endurance of every 



310 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

sort of fatigue, but he does not like to fatigue his mind by 
more thought than is needful. . . ." Secondary decisions, 
the narrative continues, he left to his ministers; big issues, 
such as war and peace, he settled himself but in no matter 
would he brook any resistance. He was an excellent talker 
when the talk demanded wide rather than profound know- 
ledge. . . . "And, to come to another order of ideas, he 
speaks passing well on the chase and on all bodily exercise ; 
of painting also, and of letters, and of languages, dead or 
living. Perhaps the world has the right to ask a greater 
activity of him : an attention better sustained in the enter- 
prises he begins; but it cannot ask for more knowledge or 
for a finer perspicacity." 

His fresh colour was deceptive ; his vigour fictitious. He 
suffered from a painful illness which told upon his temper. 
Society always revived him for the moment, but depression 
returned with solitude. He was growing tired of the Du- 
chesse d'Etampes another way of saying that she was 
growing old. He was more than tired, he was mistrustful 
of her. He believed that she was plotting with the Pro- 
testants and had sold her faith to Charles V. The suspicion, 
which probably had grounds, was sadly embittering to their 
relations. "Souvent femme varie, fol qui s'y fie, w he wrote 
with his diamond ring upon the window-pane at Chambord, 
one day when he was alone with his sister ; and the couplet 
is thought to allude to Madame dTEtampes. Margaret, his 
faithful confidante, shared his feelings. The poor Duches 
was not so willing to leave him as he was to leave hen 
The sister, as usual, thought that everything should bow 
to her brother's will and Madame d'Etarapes 1 obstinacy 



THE LATER YEARS OF FRANCIS I 311 

irritated her. She wrote of it with temper, in verses that 
are better turned to prose. "To still care at forty ,"" they 
ran, "to feign a malady which age should restrain, and 
then to rush to religion in a pet this is a consummation 
more to be dreaded than desired." 

Matters were not improved by the state of things at the 
Court. There was a new world there. The theatre had 
changed its drama; there were fresh combinations and a 
shifting of old parts. Two women had appeared on the 
stage, each as important as the other. The one was the 
Dauphine, Catherine de Medicis, a mere girl when she mar- 
ried ; by now a force in the kingdom. She was at her best 
in her early days, before her position as Queen gave her 
room to develop her vices. She never committed an action, 
even a sin, to no purpose. She was excellent company and 
the King took to her at once. She became his favourite 
companion out hunting (when she rode astride like a man) ; 
and he soon found himself consulting her about public 
affairs. Nor did he find any cause to repent of his 
confidence. 

The second star on the horizon was Diane de Poitiers, 
Henri the Dauphin^ mistress, and the widow of the Sen- 
chal de Breze. The domestic life of those days defies ex- 
planation. Its politeness was at all events in advance of 
its delicacy. If the King was hand and glove with his son's 
wife, he was equally intimate with his son's mistress. It 
was he who arranged this liaison with a view to the prince's 
education. Diane was a widow of thirty-seven, Henri but 
a boy, gloomy, awkward, and inarticulate. His father had 
never cared for him. " Je jfaime pas^" 1 he said, "les enfants 



312 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

songeards, sourdauds et endormis." Diane was to form him 
make a man of him. 

No one has been more misrepresented than she. Of the 
popular legends about her, hardly one is true: unless it be 
that of the ice-cold bath which, Diana-like, she took daily 
to preserve her beautiful complexion. Primaticcio's famous 
portrait of her as Artemis was a purely fancy affair and 
he had probably never set eyes upon her. She has enjoyed 
a reputation for beauty: she was, as the one authentic 
portrait shows her, a plain woman with a face full of 
intelligence. She evidently aged early, "for," says de Meze- 
ray quaintly, " it was a grievous thing to see a young prince 
adore a faded face, covered with wrinkles, and a head fast 
turning grey, and eyes which had grown dim and were 
sometimes red." She must have had something better than 
beauty to hold the Dauphin as she did ; but it was not the 
charm that history has supposed. The part of the heroine of 
romance has always been allotted to her ; in reality she was a 
downright practical woman of affairs, with a capacity for large 
views and a talent for education. If it is not paradoxical to say 
so, she was full of convention and propriety: an improper 
propriety, starting from an unsound basis. She had no 
other love-affair besides this with her pupil l She was 

1 A story has Jong obtained that Diane de Poitiers was the 
mistress of Francis as well as of his son. M. Guiffry, in his preface 
to her letters, has shown how improbable it is. It rests mainly on 
a tradition. Her father, M. de la Valli&re, was implicated in the 
Constable Bourbon's plot against the King, and consequently arrest- 
ed. It is said that his daughter pleaded for his life,, that Francis 
demanded her love as the price of a pardon, and that she gave it 
La Valli&re's sentence was in fact commutedat the eleventh hoar 



Kf^ 3' ; V,i ^ > 4 - :? ; :*'T''^'&??I> 




Diane de Poitiers, la Grande Senechale. 

Cabinet des Estampes de la Bibliotheque Nationale ; 

d'apres Jean Clouet. 



F. p. 312. 



THE LATER YEARS OF FRANCIS I 813 

no coquette. She always dressed as a widow in black and 
white and the Dauphin and his Court wore the same 
colours, out of compliment to her husband. She never in- 
dulged in petty vanities. Her letters show her just as she 
was, hearty, heartless, beneficent. One is written in thanks 
for some Mayence hams "ies tres bien-venus, pour etre 
une viande que j^aime fort. 11 Another begs a u bonne amie* 
to come and be "regaillardee" by her; a third condoles 
with a friend for the loss of his child, and frankly bids 
him " not to vex himself as he is sure to have many more.* 
For the death of Lady Jane Grey, whom she had met, she 
feels some slight regret ; " the sweetest and cleverest princess 
ever seen, 1 ' she calls her, and this is, perhaps, her nearest 
approach to sentiment. 

She did very well by her charge, the prince, who re- 
mained in love with her all his life. What powers there 
were in him he owed to her. The Dauphine naturally 
hated her, and bored holes in the ceiling of her room that 
she might watch her doings with Henri below. But she 
was far too clever and unprincipled not to see that if she 
wanted power herself she must keep good friends with her 
rival. So she made a Mentor of her ; and when, ten years 
after her marriage, she at last had a child, it was Diane 
who presided at its birth and gave advice about its health 
and bringing up. 

from death to lifelong imprisonment, but there is no valid basis 
for the rest of the legend. And the love-letters, evidently to 
the King, which have always been supposed to be hers, are 
now practically proved by M. Champollion Figeac to have come 
from Madame de Chtteaubriand. 



. THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Catherine found means, however, to show her dislike of 
her councillor. She opposed her in minor ways. The Court 
had split up into two camps, constantly at war. Diane, 
the Dauphin and their party, growing in power as the 
King grew weaker ; the Duchesse d'Etampes and her follow- 
ers, who were generally worsted in the fight. Diane's group, 
including the two Guises, Duke and Cardinal, represented 
strict Catholicism; the Duchess, whose convictions formed 
a ready channel for her jealousy, espoused the cause of the 
Protestants. Catherine, in her fear of popular revolution, 
was a bigot at heart, yet she openly made friends with 
Madame d'Etampes by virtue of their common enmity. 
The King's sympathies were with Diane. Resolved on sal- 
vation, he tried to obtain it in his last years by his perse- 
cution of the new faith. The terrible massacre of the 
Vaudois a blot that nothing could efface took place in 
1545 ; and the following year the poor weavers of Meaux 
suffered for their faith. Francis had much to answer for. 

At home he did his best to drown disagreeable memories 
and to forget advancing years in distraction. He consoled 
himself with his Petite Bande, a troop of ladies chosen for 
their wit and beauty, who accompanied him wherever he 
went. They talked, they hunted, they dined with him; 
they were dressed in his colours. Catherine led them; the 
two little princesses, Madeleine and Marguerite,, were of them. 
This is perhaps a sufficient proof that the "Bande" was 
not so black as it was painted. Even Kings have scruples, 
and Francis would hardly have allowed his little girls to 
consort with improper women. But their gaiety was rather 
artificial, and the whole affair was operatic a feat of elderly 



THE LATER YEARS OF FRANCIS I 315 

flirtation. Sorrow broke in on his frivolities, and over- 
shadowed the last seven years of his existence. In 1545, 
his son, Charles, Duke of Orleans, died of the Plague, and 
soon after, he lost his daughter, Madeleine, married to the 
King of Scotland. Francis, who loved his children, was hit 
very hard. 

His public life too had been troublous. There had been 
eight years of almost continuous fighting, for the war had 
hardly ceased since 1536, when the Emperor had resumed 
hostilities. Francis had occupied Savoy and Piedmont; 
Charles V had ravaged Provence. At last he was compelled 
to retreat and, in 1538, a truce was patched up at Nice. 
The next year he visited the French King at Paris. There 
were pageants; there were feasts and junketings; but they 
had no effect on Charles, A new war broke out in 1541. 
Francis, at the end of his tether and with all the world 
against him, cast about for allies. He degraded France by 
accepting the help of Soliman the Magnificent, Sultan of 
Turkey an alliance which excited indignation in the Em- 
peror and in England. Soliman, however, helped Francis 
by diverting the Imperial troops, and in 1544 the French 
gained a brilliant victory over the Allied forces at Cerisole, 
in Piedmont. The same year Charles and Henry, who had 
planned a joint invasion, descended upon France. Charles 
went to Champagne ; Henry lay before Boulogne. But they 
did not work well together; the scheme was unsuccessful 
and the Emperor made peace with Francis at Crepy, in the 
autumn of 1544. The war with England went on smoulder- 
ing until 1546 the year before Henry's death. 

Through all his anxieties the King found his best support 



316 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

in his sister. He used to send her to church to pray for 
his success against the Emperor. a Ma Mignonne," he said, 
" allez vous en a PEglise, a Complies, et la pour moi faites 
priere a Dieu." He summoned her to his bedside when he 
was ill, and it was most likely to amuse him that she wrote 
her book of Stories, the half-merry, half-poetic "Hepta- 
meron." She jotted them down while she was travelling 
about the country in her litter, probably on her journeys 
to and from her brother. The Scnechale de Poitou, her 
duenna and Brantome's grandmother, was with her to hold 
the silken inkstand steady for her pen, as they jolted along 
the roads. We can imagine Francis laughing at the strange 
adventures of the Friars, as he lay on his sick couch. When 
he was convalescent, he wandered in her company from chateau 
to chateau and showed her his latest improvements. For 
his great resource besides Margaret was still his passion for 
building. He was completing Chambord and Fontainebleau ; 
he was ornamenting his CMteau of Madrid, built directly 
after his captivity ; he was still re-constructing the Louvre 
(the work was begun in 1528), and turning it from a 
prison-fortress into a "logis de plaisance pour soi y loger." 
Margaret admired them all because they were his handi- 
work. "I should have started sooner," she writes in 1542, 
"had it not been for the great wish I felt to see Chambord. 
I found it of so great beauty that none but its creator is 
worthy to sing its praises." The King was at Paris. She 
humbly thanked him for promising to show her Fontaine- 
bleau. "To see your buildings without you," she says, "is 
to see a lifeless body; and looking at the work without 
hearing your intentions concerning it, is like reading in 



THE LATER YEARS OF FRANCIS I 317 

Hebrew." Three years later she was again at Chambord 
this time with her brother; and to cheer his ailing spirits 
they went on together to Fontainebleau. They sauntered 
in the stately gardens, they talked of old days. Margaret 
wrote poems on their conversations ; Francis, no doubt, 
responded. It was one of their happiest times together and 
almost the last. 

On Fontainebleau most of his energies were centered. It 
had been a mere hunting-box, "une apre solitude,"" and in 
past times he used to date his letters from "My Desert of 
Fontainebleau.'" Now he had turned it into a fairy palace, 
with gardens cut out of the surrounding forest. It was the 
home of his heart and he was bent on making it a master- 
piece of magnificence. Francis was the patron of both 
schools, French and Italian, but for the moment he was 
possessed by Italy. He summoned Italian workmen to Fon- 
tainebleau an Italian was master of the works there. Pain- 
ters, Venetian and Tuscan, came over at his bidding. Dramas 
and poems have been written about them. We know how 
Leonardo died in his arms; how Titian worked for him; 
how Andrea del Sarto lived at his court for French gold. 
Primaticcio, taught by Romanino, and II Rosso, the pupil 
of Michael Angelo, both of them prodigies rather in their 
time than ours, decorated Fontainebleau with big frescoes 
in the decadent style. II Rosso had a suite of apartments 
there ; but he usually painted in the rooms of " Madame 
Temp" his rendering of Madame d'Etampes or he worked 
in Paris where Francis had given him an Hotel. 

But the Italian who enjoyed the most intimate relations 
with the King was Benvenuto Cellini; his memoirs, at all 



818 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

events, lead us to think so. Whatever their exaggerations, it 
was true that Francis delighted in him : " a man after his own 
heart 11 , he called him. Benvenuto was just the short of showy, 
resourceful person to take his fancy ; and the ingenious caprices 
of the Italian sculptor^ art, sometimes delicate, always effective, 
appealed to his kingly taste. The first time that he saw his 
W0 rk a silver jug and basin he declared it was finer than 
any antique. According to Benvenuto, they were on the most 
familiar terms. " * My friend, 1 (so he writes) * said the King 
to me one day, smiling the while in his beard and slapping me 
on the shoulder, * I don't know which is the greater pleasure : 
that of a King who finds an artist to his mind, or that of 
an artist who finds a King to understand him." ^Sire, 1 I 
replied, * if I am the man you speak of, my happiness is doubt- 
less the greatest that any man can feel' * Let us say," the King 
answered laughing, 'that both our pleasures are equal. 1 " He 
gave him a lodging in the Petite Tour de Nesle in Paris, and 
constantly visited his studio. Sometimes he came unaccom- 
panied sometimes he brought a whole party. The Dauphine, 
the King and Queen of Navarre, all appeared with him one 
day to look at the great silver Jupiter the first of an Olym- 
pian series, never completed, which he was making for the 
gallery at Fontainebleau, Now and then Margaret came alone, 
when she happened to be staying at the Court, and her ad- 
miration for him was unbounded. 

Benvenuto would have invented quarrels, had he not found 
them ready to his hand. But he had no difficulty in falling 
out with Madame d'Btampes. She ordered a silver salt-cellar 
from him she kept him waiting tocher ante-room he went 
off in a huff and let someone else have it. Then she sent one 



THE LATER YEARS OF FRANCIS I 319 

of her household to lodge in Bevenuto's Tour de Nesle. He 
turned the intruder out and was only saved from the con- 
sequences by the intercession of Margaret and the Dauphin. 
Not content to rest there, he repeated the offence with another 
of the Duchess 1 proteges. This time she complained more 
loudly. " Sire," she said to Francis, " I verily believe that this 
lunatic will sack the whole of your Paris."' 1 u Eh ! Madame f 
replied her Sovereign, "ought he not by rights to get the 
best of these scoundrels who come and disturb him in the 
excellent work he is doing for me?" Madame had gained 
nothing by her anger ; her reign was indeed at an end. She 
took up the cause of Primaticcio, and Diane adopted Ben- 
venuto. The Duchess meditated vengeance. There was to be 
a show at Fontainebleau. The long gold and brown gallery, 
its gilt wood panels and golden ceiling, were completed. Pri- 
maticcio was to display some antiquities he had brought from 
Italy : Benvenuto his masterpiece the silver Jupiter. He 
never doubted its surpassing any ancient statue, nor, to do 
him justice, did any of his friends or his enemies. It is 
almost a comfort to find that bad taste is not confined to 
modern days, that it even pervaded a century famed for 
the beauty it produced. Madame d'Etampes was so sure of 
Cellini's superiority that she tried to persuade the King not 
to come. When this failed, she arranged the exhibition for 
the evening, when the Jupiter would not be well seen. 
She had met with her match. The dexterous Benvenuto 
fixed a torch in the hand of his statue, and when it was 
lighted, it showed his Jove to perfection. The King was 
enchanted the antiques were nowhere the Duchess and 
Primaticcio were discomfited. 



320 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

The only hitch in Cellini's intercourse with Francis was 
due to money. The King had offered him too mean a 
salary and had ignominiously to yield to the sculptor's 
demand for more. 

The fact was that Francis was growing stingy another 
sign of advancing years. Curiously enough, lavish though 
he was in personal display, he had always been close- 
handed about giving presents, excepting to the ladies 
of his Court. On them he spent a fortune they counted 
among his private vanities. So did his Fool, Triboulet, 
on whom he showered suits of motley, Pierrots"* caps, and 
the like. But as for other people, entries of gifts are of 
rare occurrence in his ledger. One such there is which 
moves us : the entry of " some red dolls, a cradle, a toy 
tournament, a tiny ivory box, and a doll's kitchen in silver 11 
all for a child of unknown name. To charm his heart 
thus she must often have sat upon his jewelled knee and 
prattled in his royal ear. It is the most winning picture 
that we have of him. There is another mention generous 
enough in sound of a present to Bayard : a white satin 
garment lined with marten; but the glamour rather wanes 
when we find that it was made from the remnants of an 
outworn suit of his own. Parsimony never decreases. HIK 
building grew more extensive, his charities less HO. But it 
must in justice be said that Cellini was the only artist who 
complained of him. He probably exaggerated bin grievance 
to make a good story of it whether in France or in Italy, 
whither he finally returned. 

There were shows of wit as well as art in the long gallery 
at Fontainebleau. Every man of note was entertained there : 



THE LATER YEARS OF FRANCIS I 

weighty poets, Greek scholars, Hebrew pundits the whole 
College de France, including Postel on his return from the 
Holy Land. It is a fantastic picture 5 that of the King and 
the traveller: Postel, bronzed by the sun, telling his tale 
with dignity; Francis, with that lively curiosity, that naif 
belief in all that he heard, which belonged to the listeners 
of his day ; a map stretched out between them, one of those 
vague old maps, mixtures of fact and fancy, which still hang 
for our confusion in the desolate corridors of palaces. To 
see the King thus is to see him at his best. The worthiest 
moments of his later days were spent within the frescoed 
walls of Fontainebleau. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER XIX 

U Architecture : PHIUBERT DE I/ORME. 
Vie de Philibert de FOrme: VACHON. 
The French Renaissance: MRS. PATTISON. 



CHAPTER XIX 
(15401550) 

THE FRENCH ARTISTS 

IN spite of his love for Italy, Francis was true to French 
art. At Blois, at Chambord, at Azay, he employed French- 
men. And the art of France in his reign had made an 
immense stride. It had assimilated foi*eign influence had 
come to itself. It was conscious of its forms and its pur- 
poses. The old artist, Michel Colombo, brought up in half 
Flemish traditions, open to suggestions from Italy, fusing the 
two elements in a new mould, had stood at the parting of 
the ways. Philibert de FOrme and Pierre Lescot completed 
his task and crystallized his tendencies. Their work was 
colder and less poetic, for crystallizing is a cooling process; 
but the result was a national art, independent and self- 
possessed. The name of Philibert de POrme is inseparable 
from the Tuileriea, built in the next reign but one; that 
of Pierre Lescot is identified with the Louvre, begun under 
the a&gis of Francis. Do POrme, the aristocrat, full of a 
polished elegance, seems the counterpart of llonsard ; Lescot, 
refined and subtle, the pendant of du Bellay. 

Philibert de I'Orme WEB born of noble parents, in 1518. 
His genius, always constructive, showed itself from his earliest 
yearn At twelve or thirteen he was sent to Rome; at 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

fifteen lie already had two hundred workmen under him. 
In his " Architecture " he describes how one day he was 
measuring and excavating 5 with all the ardour of youth, 

near the Arch of Santa Maria Novella. A Roman Bishop 
came by with a friend; the two men stopped to question 
the boy and were so struck by him that they invited him 
to the palace where they lodged. It was the beginning of 
his success. Cardinals took him up ; Paul III made much of 
him and commissioned him to build in Calabria. In 1586, 
Jean du Bellay persuaded him to return to France and 
enter his service at Lyons. The Cardinal was the focussing 
point of very divers rays. Probably de POrme knew Rabe- 
lais besides the poets of the Plezade. He left little in 
Lyons except the unfinished church of St. Nizier. Later he 
went to Paris, and it was not long before he entered the 
King's service. In 1545, he was made Architect of the 
Fortifications an honourable post, more military than artistic. 
Like contemporary poets, de POrme over- valued conceits; 
he revelled in ingenuity. He tells us with pride how he 
routed the besiegers of Brest by painting wooden cannons 
which they took for real ones; and by posting men without 
pikes to look like serried rows. Henri II made him Court 
Architect and Superintendent of the Works at Fontainebleau. 
It was not till then until Catherine de Mt'diein adopted 
him that his real career began. It reached its climax when 
she gave him the commission to build the Tuileries, but that 
was only in 1564. This carries us far beyond our period, 
and it is not for us to write his record more of it, at leant, 
than affects the reign of Francis* 
From first to last de POrnie showed the game qualities 



THE FRENCH ARTISTS 325 

He belonged to the intellectual school; perhaps he was the 
first architect who did so. He liked to make form express 
definite thoughts : thoughts that were elaborate, and some- 
times artificial. He chose the Ionic style for Catherine's 
palace, because the Ancients had used it for the temples of 
their goddesses. It was,, he said, " invented to suit the pro- 
portions of ladies " an elegant compliment in masonry. But 
he was no mere maker of compliments. His real value lay 
in the fact that he was typically French. France, from his 
day to that of Racine, and beyond it, has demanded the confining 
limits of the classical ; has asked for a classical vessel to hold 
her native ideas. Philibert, engineer, writer, draughtsman, 
architect, was, above ail things, the artist of his nation 
lucid, conscientious, a firm opponent of the Italian camp. 
" The French,"" he said, " are so constituted that they 
think nothing good that doth not come from a foreign land 
and cost a high price. There you have the French tempera- 
ment .... mobile-minded and mercurial . . . . For, in sooth, 
the architect who hath true knowledge of his art .... can 
by his good wits and godlike understanding discover an 
infinity of noble conceptions, in whatever kingdom he may 
be. And the best inspiration cometh from the things that 
are natural to the country where they live : by imitating and 
interpreting the nature which God hath created : whether 
His trees, His birds, or His beasts .... and thereto must 
they add the knowledge of the properties and differences 
of all thingH. I will show you the French column that I 
have designed .... the which can be carved and enriched as 
I have told you by the reproduction of all things natural 
to French soil mid to the inclination of Frenchmen." 



326 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Rabelais and de FOrme would have been happy walking 
in the fields together. To him that hath, more shall be 
given; creation is for the creator this is the burden of 
Philibert's teaching. He has left us a delicious woodcut 
of "Le bon et le mauvais Architeete." The bad one has 
nothing but a mouth for babbling, and the cap and cloak 
of a philosopher, " pour contrefaire un grand docteur et faire 
bonne mine." The good architect stands, " un homme sage 
en son jardin," in front of the Temple of Prayer. Before 
him lie the skulls of some oxen, "the which signify the 
coarse and heavy minds that impede him. 11 His secrets he 
shows to all comers, and he does not hide his a beautiful treas- 
ure of virtue, his cornucopias of sweet fruit .... his brooks 
and fountains of knowledge." He has wings on his feet for 
diligence ; four hands " to handle many things ; " four ears, 
" since he heareth more than he speaketh." " Three eyes 
hath he : one to adore the holy divinity of God, to contem- 
plate the beauty of His works and to consider the Past. 
The second to observe and measure the Present- to order 
and to direct whatsoever the moment offers. The third to 
foresee the future, that so he may guard against the assault* 
of fortune and the great miseries of this miserable life." 
As Philibert continues, his own feet get wings and he 
mounts to higher regions. His conclusions arc strangely 
modern. Self-knowledge, he says, is the true secret of art : 
his words seem the conclusion of the whole matter, 

"Let the architect,"* 1 he writes, "learn to know himself 
and find out his gifts and capacities ; and if lie is conscious 
that aught in him is wanting, I counsel him to be diligent 
in asking it of God. But when he has net in order all that 



THE FRENCH ARTISTS 327 

is needful for the accomplishment of the task committed to 
him, then let him withdraw into himself and remain alone 
in his study .... or his garden .... For there is neither 
art nor science, whatsoever it be, in which there is not 
always more to learn than has been learned ; and only the 
Lord God is perfect in all wisdom*. ... to Whom nothing 
can be added from Whom nothing can be taken away. 
We .... being mortal, can only know by fragments .... and 
our knowledge will always be apprenticeship without end." 
Jn later life, after her plans for the Tuileries, Catherine., 
as became a Medicis, gave herself up to Italian influence and 
led the Italian faction. Diane had ever been the patroness of 
the French School and she was not sorry to steal de POrme 
from Catherine on the strength of it. The Art feud was 
only one of many that went on between the crowned, and 
the uncrowned Queen. De TOrrae built Anet for Diane, and 
took as his crest the moon shining on an elm. The lumi- 
nary he had chosen had brought him luck. He must, indeed, 
have had a good horoscope. His rewards were almost equal 
to his merits and his fortunes knew few variations. 

Pierre Lescot, the creator of the Louvre, was eight years 
older than Philibert He also went to Rome in his youth, 
though he did not make nearly so brilliant an impression as de 
FOrme. Like him, too, he entered the King's service. Francis, 
always good at appreciating, recognised his gift and made much 
of him. He seems to liave relished Lencofs company, for he 
allowed him to stand by him at dinner and watch him appease 
fafe kingly appetite* It may $eem a questionable privilege, but 
he backed it by more solid benefits. One of these was an 
order to rebuild the Louvre and to turn it from a fortress 



THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

into a palace. It was to be the rival of Ecouen ; for Mont- 
naorency's boastful magnificence was vexing to the King's 
eyes. But the project was only begun ; the volatile monarch 
forgot it in dreams of Chambord and Pontainebleaii, and 
only took it up again just before his death. Lescot con- 
tinued it in the next reign. He was always a prosperous 
artist; money came to him and abbeys were bestowed on 
him. Ronsard who quarrelled with Philibert wrote a poem 
to him. Little, however,, is known of him, and his fame ? 
whether then or now, is in no wise equal to that of de FOrme. 

Under him there worked a genius greater than himself. 
This was Jean Goujon, sculptor and decorator. Decorators 
in those days were counted as mere subordinates to archi- 
tects, and Goujon was Lescofs servitor, ornamenting where 
his Chief built. Lescot was not slow to find out that he 
had a past-master as craftsman, and the public soon made 
the same discovery. 

Some writer has said that Goujon had a "fluid gcniun." 
He seemed to possess a subtle sympathy with water -to 
know its delicious secrets of coolness and undulation. He 
watched the waves till they became dancing Naiads; he 
watched the figures of maidens till they turned into rip- 
pling waves. And his chisel, recreating them with an inde- 
finable magic, conveyed a salutation both to wave and to 
maiden. Those who have stood before the Fontaine den 
Innocents the public fountain which he sculptured for 
Paris have felt the watery enchantment. They have een 
his rhythmic figures bending here, curving there, haunting 
but elusive, floating on aerial draperies. He worked, too, 
under Leseot, on the Louvre, His "Glory" still hold** IMV 



THE FRENCH ARTISTS 329 

palm on its walls; his Fame an elegant Fame still blows 
her trumpet She was busy, he said, in proclaiming the triumph 
of RonsarcTs verse. l Later it was Diane who employed him 
at Ahet. He presented her with the necessary trope : his 
famous statue of Diana, long and erroneously supposed 
to be her portrait. Perhaps he should never have ventured 
on so definite a subject. Exquisite and reposeful as the 
figure is, she is not a goddess : she remains a light woman 
whom he adorned as Diana. 

De FOrme and Lescot, we have said, were the counter- 
parts of the Pleiade. The Muse of Ronsard whispered also 
to Jean Goujon. His work was Ronsard translated into 
marble, and he alone could have conjured the Nymph of 
the Poet's Fontaine de Heller ie the spring that was buried 
in the forest. 

It was strange that thin Pagan in imagination should 
have had Protestant beliefs: should have died in the cause 
of his faith as well as of his art. Legend says that he was 
killed on St. Bartholomew's Eve, while he was working on 
the Louvre, or else on the Fountain of the Innocents. But 
legend, as usual, stops short at the point where we most 
wish to hear more, and this is all that we know either of 
his death or his religion. 

A colleague he had who was a fervent Huguenot. Goujon 
was working at Ecouen while one, Bernard Palissy, was also 
embellishing it : Palissy, the indomitable artist and Calvinist, 
who spent eighteen years of his life in a search for the 

1 He has also left us his Seasons., serene and victorious, on 
the front of the Hotel Carnavalet, afterwards Madame de 
Sevign^'s, then a new building. 



330 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

secret of making white enamel. His search was crowned by 
his finding what he sought; but the discovery only came 
in the reign of Henri II, and it does not fall to us to 
describe it. A history so concentrated as his will not bear 
abbreviation; and so, though his struggles belong to the 
reign of Francis, they cannot be told apart from his success. 
How single-handed he fought with adversity ; how he built 
his furnaces with bleeding hands ; how he toiled and starved 
and froze and suffered; how he sacrificed his family to his 
quest ; how victory came at last and fame also for a space ; 
and how he finally perished for his Protestant faith, in 
a dungeon of the Bastille all this] is material for other 
biographers. 

The same may be said of lesser artists whose youth, but 
not their maturity, belongs to our period. There is Germain 
Pilon with his sculptured Graces; or Barthelmy Prieur, 
maker of busts. They, with a throng of smaller men, rank 
as Henri IPs subjects. Their work is no longer fresh : it 
shows the first signs of decadence, Artificialne&s can have 
a naivete of its own. A people like the French, whoHC 
nature it is to be unnatural, make the paradox possible. 
In the second half of the century the naivete disappeared, 
the artificialness remained. Elegance began to pone and 
simper; sentiment grew sickly; compliment turned into 
hyperbole. The earlier art of France, if it had not a soul, 
was at least inspired by mind and quickened by intellectual 
grace. Now it became materialized and the HenseH came 
into play. Architecture kept its promise longest, but after 
de rOrme's generation, it also exchangee! its wimple dignity 
for ornate pomp its eloquence for grandiloquence, The 



THE FRENCH ARTISTS SSI 

morning was over ; the sweet coolness, the limpid light, were 
gone, never to return. The afternoon that was coming was 
not a time of progress. It mistook heaviness for sincerity, 
masked vice for virtue, scrolls and flourishes for the truth. 
It worked without an ideal, or rather for a false one. 
When that ideal was realised, it assumed the form and 
features of Louis XIV of France. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER XX 

Vie de Rousard: CLAUDE BINET. 

(Euvres de Ronsard, 

CEuvres Choisies de Ronsard: SAINTE-BEUVE. 

Vie de Joachim du Bellay (preface to (Euvres Choisies): 

BECQ DE 

CEuvres poetiques de Joachim du Bellay. 
Defense de la Poe'sie : JOACHIM DU BELLA Y. 
Tableau du Seizieme Siecle: SAINTE-BEUVE. 
Causeries de Lundi; SAINTE-BEUVE, 
Histoire de la Litt6rature francaisc: REN ft 
Dames Illustres: BRANT^ME. 
Dames Illustres: HIL/VRIOK DR LA COSTR. 
Vie de Clouet: BOU<*HOT. 



CHAPTER XX 
(15481550) 

THE RISE OF THE PLE1ADE 

IN the year of grace, 154*8, a young man with golden 
hair stopped his horse before an inn, on the road from 
Poitiers to Paris. He paused at the vine- wreathed door and 
called for refreshment. In the tavern guest-room he found 
another traveller, a nobleman to judge by his appearance, 
handsome, richly dressed, of about the same age as himself. 
They greeted they spoke they drank together. They 
found they had both come from Poitiers, It may have 
been some traveller's remark about sky or road that first 
drew them together; that made each aware of the note of 
distinction in the other. Before the meal was over, they 
had struck on the theme of Poetry; of its past and the 
classics; on the golden theme of its future. On and on 
they sat, talking and glowing, striking out sparks from 
each other. The new arrival listened intently as his com- 
panion poured forth his eloquence; showed him a vision of 
what poetry might be of what he himself meant to make 
it. When they rone they had resolved not to separate. 

The men of those, days had impulses worth having ; they 
trusted the flash of insight leaped, not in the dark, but 
in the daylight* The youth with the golden hair was poor; 



334 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

he had come from studying law at Poitiers ; yet he had not 
a moment's hesitation in throwing up his career then and 
there and sharing his new friend's fortune. That friend 
was a poet. He lived in a College for Poetry an experi- 
ment of yesterday where he and a few choice spirits were 
brooding over Greek tragedians and dreaming poetic dreams. 
His tongue was potent to persuade ; his name was Ronsard. 

Thus did PieiTe de Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay meet 
with one another and lay the foundations of a new poetry 
in France: a poetry that was to kill the versifying of 
mediaeval schoolmen and abolish the ancient conventions; 
to do away with treatises in rhyme and establish a fresh 
and living lyric. Before or since there has been no such 
coming together of two poets, except perhaps the greater 
and more gradual one of Wordsworth and Coleridge, who 
destroyed the neat couplets of the eighteenth century and 
brought the world back to Nature. It was not Nature 
which the Pleiade re- vindicated : the time had not come for 
that. They were not a spontaneous school ; but they aimed 
at purity at classic simplicity ; they were decoroiiH, not 
pedantic. Before tuming to the personal history of their 
leaders it may be well to enquire what their aims were 
even though the result of those aims does not come within 
our period. 

The idea of the School originated with Ronoard, but he 
could hardly have carried it out without the collaboration 
of du Bellay. Both men wens spiritually Hpeakmg* * the 
children of the Pedagogues, Ronsard was educated by one ; 
but* like other children, they turned out ?eiy different from 
their parents. And yet it was to those faithful if stubborn 



THE RISE OF THE PLEIADE 335 

guardians that they owed their knowledge of Greek and 
Latin authors, their reverent acceptance of the classics as 
their model and their standard. Ronsard studied Roman 
and Athenian studied and adored. He saw that their 
strength lay in their being the voice of their country and 
their age. He saw that his own country should seek such 
expression of its personality, but he wished to keep the 
classical form. Then, by a flash of genius, the central truth, 
the secret of all progress, was borne in upon him. He com- 
prehended that the old was capable of development the 
classical of fresh adaptation; that the new should not be 
in opposition to the old, but a re-adjustment of its quali- 
ties. Affectation is a sign of decay ; French literature had 
grown affected, had imported euphuistic words, was divorced 
from the language of the people. The French tongue had 
become poor : it sadly needed enriching. It was, after all, 
a Latin tongue and could without effort assimilate many 
Latin elements. The Fleiade borrowed a store of words 
both from Latin and from Greek and boldly naturalized 
them m France; it banished a number of others which 
should not have found their way there. Ronsard, we know, 
was an impassioned gardener. He carried the art into 
letters, and spent long days in grafting fresh buds upon 
ancient stems. 

He was born in 1524, in the Vendfimois, His blood was 
noble ? even remotely royal He was seventeenth cousin to 
Queen Elimbeth, and IB later years, she sent him a diamond 
ring as a symbol of his poetry a fit symbol of enduring 
brilliance. When lie was nine years old he was sent to 
school, but he did not like it and only stayed for a year. 



836 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

At the ripe age of ten he became page to the Duke of 
Orleans and, at twelve, he transferred his services to James 
Stuart of Scotland. With him he went for three years to 
Great Britain, two and a half of which he spent in Scotland, 
the remainder in England. He was too young to be talked 
to by people of interest; but he must have seen the great 
Catholic nobles must have loved the beauty of Westminster 
and the golden barges on the Thames. At fifteen, he re- 
turned to France and the household of the Duke of Orleans. 
It was not long after this that occurred one of the decisive 
events of his life. He met with Virgil. A groom of the 
Duke's, impassioned for the Mantuan, first revealed his 
beauties to Ronsard. Thenceforward he was hardly seen 
without a Virgil in his hand. He knew the more modern 
poets too, and had Marot at his finger-ends. The world of 
books allured him more and more, but it was not for want 
of experience. He returned to Scotland a year after he left 
it, and was nearly shipwrecked before he came home again. 
He was sent by France on diplomatic jobs to Flanders; he 
accompanied Barf to the Diet of Speier and Guillaume du 
Bellay to Piedmont. But no amount of adventure com- 
pensated for the charms of literature. In his own mind he 
had resolved to retire from Court and to make a profession 
of Letters. 

At first his father would not hear of it, but the boy was 
not to be daunted. His spirit, says his old historian, " WEB 
one which from its birth had received that infusion, tlutt 
fatal impression of poetry, which none can injure; nor could 
he bind himself by other laws than his own, 11 So manfully 
did he persist that his parent at last gave in, on condition 



THE RISE OF THE PLEIADE 337 

that he should never become a poet, or hold a French book 
in his hand. Happily, schoolman though he was, he did 
not make Pierre promise not to write one. Perhaps It was 
the sad fact of his son's growing deafness a bar to aristo- 
cratic professions which helped him to yield to his wishes. 
The poet of seventeen withdrew to solitude at Blois, where 
he dreamed and read, and read and dreamed again. He 
also fell in love with " Cassandre " the first of a varied 
dynasty; and he sent her sweet songs, light sighs in verse, 
all the pretty wares that a Cassandre could ask for. It was 
but a passing sentiment. His real emotions were his long 
hours with Virgil and Plato in the Forest of Gastine 
where he wandered " par les taillis : verte maison des 
cerfs" . . . . "often alone, but always in the company of the 
Muses." He lingered whole days in grassy places, or sat by 
the mossy rim of his favourite Fontaine de Bellerie. Later, 
when he had another love, he found another fountain la 
Fontaine d'Helene, which had power to quench the thirst of 
poets. But there is no need to use any words except his 
instinct with the freshness of the woods. 



w Car je vis; et e'est grand Men 
De vivre^ et de vivre bien .... 
Ayant toujours en maim pour me servir de guide, 
Aristotej QU Platon, ou le docte Euripide: 
Les bon h6tes muets qui ne ftchent jaraais. 

. . . . O douce compagnie, douce et honngte, 
Un autre en caquetant m'&ourdiratt la t$te. 
Puis du livre ennuy6, je regardais les fleurs . , . . 

, . t Et rentrecoupement de leurs formes diverges 
Peinteu de cent fa90ES, jaunes^ rouges et perses^ 

22 



338 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Ne me pouvant saouler, ainsi qu'en un tableau,, 
D'admirer la Nature, et ce qu'elle a de beau^ 
Et de dire, en parlant aux fleurettes ^closes, 
r Celui est presque Dieu qui connait toutes choses.'" 

When he was rather older and more famous he had a 
lackey of his own who used to spread picnics for him. He 
was very particular in his orders and has left them behind 
him in verse. 

A SON LAQUAIS 

Achete des abricots^ 
Des pompons, l des artichauds, 
Des fraises, et de la crme. 
(Test en e^e* ce que j'aime: 
Quand sur le bord d'un ruisseau, 
Je la mange au bruit de Feau, 
Etendu sur le rivage. 

Strawberries and cream still exist at Blois, an inviolate 
link with the Past ; and the stranger who eats them beneath 
the beech-trees by the Loire may feel himself the nearer to 
Ronsard. 

When he left Blois it was for Paris, but here he changed 
his abode. He crossed the water from Les Tournelles to 
the house of Lamre Baif, Maitre des Requete% and a faith- 
ful scholar of the old school : a long- tried family friend, and 
his Chief when he went to Speier. Bai'f had great expecta- 
tions of Ronsard. He had interesting theories about the 
education of youth, which he was trying on hm son, Jean 
Antoine. He now invited Ronsard* Jean's elder by four 

1 Water-melons* 



THE RISE OF THE PLEIADE 389 

years to live with them. Another and an older poet al- 
ready lodged beneath their roof and helped them with their 
work. This was Jean Dorat also of the Schools, but fired 
with enthusiasm for classical poetry. Ba'if poured forth his 
learning upon Ronsard. The young men heard lectures in 
Paris on philosophy and on science, but it was Dorat who 
charmed him " du phyltre des bonnes lettres." After a little 
while he (Dorat) resolved to set up a College of his own 
the famous College de Coqtieret. He carried off Ronsard, 
and young BaYf was not long before he followed them. 
Other rising men, eager for study and seclusion, gradually 
joined the group and formed, little as they knew it, the 
kernel of a new movement. 

Ronsard was ignorant of Greek. Not so young Ba'if who 
had learned it for years with his father. He was only too 
proud to serve as a master, and Ronsard picked it up easily, 
with "Taimable conference^' of Jean Antoine, who, at all 
hours of the day or night, unravelled for him the grievous 
beginnings of the Greek language. Ronsard taught him his 
metrical science in exchange. Meanwhile he learned Latin 
with Dorat by a new method; he plunged into the deeps 
of philosophy; his tutor initiated him in the classic art of 
Anagrams. Ronsard began imitations of Pindar and Horace. 
He wan overtaken by an insatiable thirst for knowledge. 
"He who had been trained at the Court and accustomed 
to sit up late now continued his studies till two or three 
in the morning; and when he went to bed he woke up 
Bai'f, who got up and took the candle unwilling to let 
Ronsard^ place at the study-desk grow cold." There is 
something infinitely touching about these penniless young 



840 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

poets, who could not afford two candles, hearing the chimes 
at midnight and sowing their wild oats over books. 

With Ronsard the creative work soon produced fruit. 
"He began to brood on great designs for the bringing of 
our language forth from childhood." He tried to enrich it 
in every way. He even went" to work with the various 
artisans so that he might learn the terms of their trades : 
" prenant garde aux moindres choses .... faisant son profit 
de toutes." When he first wrote some small poems, they 
showed, says the old biographer, " je ne s&is quoi du rnagna- 
nime caractere de son Virgile." Dorat, with rash hyperbole, 
prophesied he would be the Homer of France, and spent his 
time pondering what books he should choose to nourish the 
genius under his care. 

Virgil had made one epoch in Ronsard's life. Now there 
came another. Dorat read aloud to him Aeschylus 1 "Pro- 
metheus." At first he was struck dumb. " When he had tasted 
the flavour of it * Why, 1 he exclaimed, * oh why, my master, 
have you hidden these riches all this time from me ? ' " This 
new inspiration kindled his energies; he translated the 
"Plutus" of Aristophanes into French and, with Baif to 
help him, had it acted in the theatre of the College. His 
schemes for French poetry grew maturer, the company at 
Coqueret was increasing, and a fresh arrival, llemy Belleau, 
proved a sympathetic comrade in his plans. 

It was at this point that he and du Bellay met in the 
tavern by the roadside. "Fine minds/ 1 soyn his historian, 
"can hide themselves no more than the light of Phoebus, 
their guide." It is well when they find one another. 

Du Bellaj n s life had not been as happy an Ilotwtmt'k A 



THE RISE OF THE PLEIABE 341 

year younger than the latter, he was born at Lire, in AJIJOU, 
in 1525. His parents were of gentle blood relations of 
the great du Bellays. They died early and Joachim was 
brought up by his brother, a stem man who spoiled the 
boy^s youth by his severity. When he too died, he left 
his son in the tutelage of Joachim. The post involved 
endless worries. There was not enough money; want was 
at the door. The guardian, little more than a lad, broke 
down under the strain. His strength gave way and he was 
laid by for two " years. What Ronsard's deafness did for 
Ronsard, du Bellay^s illness did for du Bellay. It turned 
him to the study of the classics. He had always had a 
longing for learning and no opportunity of satisfying it. 
His brother had not given him any real education, and 
since he became his own master, means and leisure had both 
failed him. Unlike Ronsard, he was alone and unaided; 
but, like him, he was a poet. In his solitude he, too, developed 
the conception of the New Poetry; of adopting the classic 
forms and filling them with modern ideas. Exact imitation 
of the Ancients he thought a false and foolish standard ; he 
saw, like his unknown colleague, that the feeling of French 
poets must be their own. 

He was by way of being under the protection of Guillamne 
du Bellay, and was vaguely destined for the military profession. 
But when, in 1543, the Sieur de Langeais died, his plans 
changed. Perhaps he was not sorry to renounce the glory 
of arms : the Cardinal could get him preferment in other 
directions. But the short way to the Cardinal was through 
the Church, and the short way to the Church was through 
the Law, So Joachim became a law-student at Poitiers, 



342 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

and it was on his return thence that he fell in with Ronsard. 
The two men were made to collaborate. Their very in- 
firmities bound them together. Strange to say, du Bellay 
too was deaf. He wrote Ronsard a "Hymn to Deafness", 
and Ronsard wrote him a sonnet on the same theme. Their 
talents suited admirably. Ronsard, the more illustrious, was 
also the more exquisite in form; du Bellay, not so perfect 
in shape, had a subtler and a deeper note. Readers of 
Beaumont and Fletcher may observe the same difference in 
their qualities. Ronsard, who was born to sing, needed a 
man who could speak : du Bellay had the gift of eloquence 
in prose as well as in verse. They retired together to work 
out their schemes at leisure in the College of Coqueret 

Under the spell of Ronsard, Joachim's writing changed its 
character. He had composed verses at Lire which, in spite 
of his theories, kept something of the old-fashioned stiff- 
ness. But now his hand became freer, his fancy richer. His 
fellow-poet applauded him. They both rhymed about sparkl- 
ing wines about quaffing them with their heads crowned 
with roses; but, in reality, their fare was of the plainest 
They wrote like Epicures and lived like Anchorites* However 
light their songs, their idea of their art was a solemn one 
and, in their eyes, fame was a sacred charge. a Whoso 
desireth to fly over the world w wrote du Bellay " through 
the lips and the hands of men, should long dwell apart in 
his chamber ; and he who wisheth to live in the memory of 
posterity should, like one dead in himself, oftentiiucH sweat 
and tremble. While our courtier-poets eat, drink, andaleep 
at their ease, he should endure hunger and thirst and Imtd 
vigils. Those are the wings 00 which the writings of men 



THE RISE OF THE PLEIADE 843 

fly to heaven. . . . Glory is the only ladder by the steps of 
the which mortals mount with light feet to the sky, and 
make themselves companions of the gods." 

And Ronsard sounds the same strain. "Prose," he says, 
" is the language of men ; but poetry is the tongue of the 
gods. No man should be its interpreter, if he be not anointed 
thereunto from his birth and dedicated to its ministry. 1 " 1 
Art was the only religion of either poet. Ronsard was a 
Pagan through and through, though he lived and died 
a Catholic : a Pagan of the most graceful and orthodox 
refinement, who liked courtly manners, even in a wood. 

Je n'ai souci que d'aimer 
Moi-m^me, et me parfumer 
D'odeurs, et qu'une couronne 
De fleurs le chef m'environne. 
Je suiSj mon Belleau, celui 
Qui veux vivre ce jour'd'hui: 
L'homme ne saurait eonnaitre 
Si un lendemain doit 6tre. 

These are hardly Christian sentiments, and Ronsard's attend- 
ance at Mass does not alter their nature. 

Du Bellay was also a Pagan, but he was not so light- 
hearted as Ronsard; his views of life were sadder and 
profounder, Ronsard is like a swift and gleaming swallow 
who skims the waters without cleaving them; du Bellay is 
like a sea-bird, grey and white, who loves the deeps and 
hovers over them, though he does no more than touch them 
with MB wings* 

A School was by now gathering round them* a galaxy of 
small stars ; and they gave it the name of the Pleiade, after 



344 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

a circle of Greek poets. Their disciples are little remembered : 
Dorat and Baif and Belleau; Amadis Jamyn, Ronsard's page; 
Estienne Jodelle, the playwright. There were others who 
joined the group, but their names were of little significance. 
The two leaders were meantime busy at Coqueret, preparing 
their verses for the press. Du Bellay was perfecting the 
Sonnet, which might be called his gift to his country. Melin 
Saint-Gelais, it is true, had already written poems in that 
form ; but they had not been many or beautiful and it was 
Joachim who established them in France. Great ladies, in 
later days, paid him back in his own coin. Margaret of 
Savoy, his Duchess, sent him her gracious attempts. Even 
the stern Jeanne d'Albret unbent and tried her Protestant 
hand at them. But before he reached these honours there 
were bad times to be gone through. In 1549, he brought 
out his first book of poems, a Olive " not among his best 
and dedicated it to the Duchess Margaret. Ronsard's " Cos- 
sandre" followed in 1550. In the same year the poets blew 
their trumpet-blast and threw down the gauntlet to the 
public. Du Bellay's * Defense de Poesie " appeared in print. 
It was a full statement of their views, expressed with an 
orator's eloquence and in prose that seems embroidered with 
words: and yet each one is essential and the effect of the 
whole is simple. The best parts reach the level of poetry 
they recall Sir Philip Sidney's "Apology". But the French 
work is greater is a challenge: there is something heroic 
about it. 

The challenge was not allowed to pass unheeded. No 
sooner was it read than it brought a swarm of hornett* 
round the ears of the Pleiade. It was natural that the 



THE RISE OF THE PLEIADE 345 

Pedants should detest them; they had taken the Academic 
vessels and used them for their own purpose. But the 
followers of Marot, who had hitherto represented the National 
School, disliked them even more bitterly. Their distaste is 
hai'der to account for. They were jealous for their Maitre 
Clement's fame: they were also sincerely outraged by the 
new words that the Pleiade imported. Marot himself would 
have thought the words absurd, but he would have done 
justice to the poets 1 imagination. He would have enjoyed 
their grace and relished the choiceness of their metres. 
His disciples were obtuser. Led by Melin Saint-Gelais and 
Fontaine, they poured contempt on Ronsard and his com- 
rade. They spouted their lines in ranting tones ; they mis- 
pronounced the hated terms; they cut out whole passages 
at will, to cover the authors with ridicule; they made fun 
of them to the King. No wonder that Ronsard longed for 
the reign of Francis L 

It needed all the skill of the Duchess Margaret Ron- 
Sard's friend as well as du Bellay^s to change public opi- 
nion concerning them. She did much to smooth matters 
over and the disputants themselves grew tired of quarrels. 
Melin Saint-Gelais made the first overtures. He wrote a 
complimentary poem to Ronsard* Ronsard put it in the 
front of his next volume and sent a tu guoqm to Saint-Gelais. 
Du Bellay followed his example and the feud, for the 
moment, was made up. 

It is difficult for us of to-day to understand why it arose. 
The IrritatioBB of yesterday are as bewildering as its jokes- 
they belong to the atmosphere that created them. The 
words once gibed at are no longer novelties: they have 



346 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

become embodied in the language. The poems seem to us 
little gems intaglios of fantastic workmanship. They are 
not of a great order, but Apollo might have worn them in 
his signet-ring and each is lovely of its kind. What can be 
more musical, for instance, than Ronsard^s farewell to his 
love who died young? 

En ton ge le plus gaillard,, 
Tu as seul laiss ton Ronsard, 
Dans le Ciel trop t6t retoura6e, 
Perdant beaute, grace et couleur, 
Tout ainsi qu'une belle fleur 
Qui ne vit qu'une matinee. . . . 



.... Soit que tu vives pr&s de^Dieu, 
Ou aux Champs Elys6es^ Adieu^ 
Adieu cent fois, adieu, Marie; 
Jamais mon coeur ne t'oublira, 
Jamais la Mart ne d^lira 
Le noeud dont ta beaut^ me lie. 

Or take these lines from his salute to the lark. 

Sitot que tu es arros^e 
Au point du jour^ de la ros6e, 
Tu fais en Fair xnille discourse 
En Fair des alles tu fr6tilles 
Et pendues au Ciel tu babilles 
Et contes aux: vents tes amours, 

Puis du Ciel tu te laisses fondre 

Dans un sillon vert, soit pour pondre> 

Soit pour 6clore ou pour couver, 

Soit pour apporter la 

A tes petits, ou d*une 

Ou d'une chenille, ou cTun ver. 

* Lobworm, 



THE RISE OF THE PLEIADE 347 

Or take his benediction on the Spring. 

Dieu vous gard, messagers fiddles 
Du printemps, vites Hirondelles, 
Huppes, 1 Cocusj Rossignolets, 
Tourtres, et vous oiseaux sauvages, 
Qui de cent sortes de ramage 
Aimez les bois verdelets. 

Dieu vous gard, belles P^querettes, 
Belles RoseSj belles fleurettes, 
Et vouSj boutons jadis connus, 
Du sang d'Ajax et de Narcisse: 
Et vous Thym,, Anis, et M&isse, 
Vous soyez les bien revemis. 

Dieu vous gai f d^ troupe di&pree 
De papillons, qui par la pr6 
Les douces herbes su9otez: 
Et vous nouvel essaim d'Abeilles, 
Qui les fleurs jaunes et vermeilles, 
De votre bouche baisotess. 

Cent mille fois je resalue 
Votre belle et douce venue. 
O ! que j'aime cette saison 
Et ce doux caquet des rivages, 

Au prix des vents et des orages 
Qui m'enfermaient en la maison. 

And while we seek for a last quotation, we light upon 

his Sonnet to Hel&ne, which falls from his lyre as if it 

were already an echo the ghost of a song: a harmony 
dying slowly, like the flickering candle-flame he sings of. 

! Lapwings. 



348 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Quand vous serez bien vieille^ au soir, a la chandelle 

Assise aupres du feu, devisant et filant, 

Direz chantant mes vers^ en vous 6merveillant : 

Ronsard me celebrait du temps que j'6tais belle. 

Lors vous n'aurez servante ayant telle nouvelle, 

Desia l sous le labeur & demi sommeillant, 

Qui au bruit de son nom ne s'aille reveillant, 

Benissant votre nom de louange immortelle. 

Je serai sous la terre et, fantdme sans os, 

Par les ombres myrteux je prendrai mon repos : 

Vous serez au foyer une vieille accroupic, 

Regrettant mon amour et votre fier d6dahi. 

Vivez, si m'en croyez, n'attendez A demain; 

Cueillez, des aujourd'hui les roses de la vie. 

Ronsard knew where to find the roses and he gathered 
them with both hands. 

When we turn to du Bellay's works we find nothing 
more perfect than the lines called " A Sower of Com, to the 
winds'" and we follow Mr. Pater's example in citing it in 
the poet's honour. 

A vous troupe legere 
Qui d'aile passagere 
Par le monde volez, 
Et d'un sifflant murmure 
L'ombrageuse verdure 
Doucement ^braalez 
J'offre les violettes^ 
Les lys, et ces fleurettes^ 
Et ces roses ici: 

Ces vermeil lettes roses 
Tout fraichement ^closes, 



THE EISE OF THE PLEIADE 349 

Et ces oeillets aussi 
De votre douce haleine 
Eventez cette plaine, 
Eventez ce sejour ! 
Cependant que j'ahanne l 
A mon Me que je vanne 
A la ehaleur du jour. 

Du Bellay has an aroma of his own: delicate, discreet, 
compact of rare essences. Like Ronsard, he is delicious in 
April and loves to describe u la grande naive beaute" of 
Spring-time. He was not made to be popular : no one 
more despised the public. 

Mais raoi que les Graces ch&issent, 

Je hais les biens que Ton adore, 

Je hais les honneurs qui perissent, 

Et le soin qui les coeurs devore. 

Rien ne me plait, fors ce qui peut d6plaire 

Au jugement du rude populaire. . . . 

De mourir ne suis en &naoi s 
Selon la loi du sort humain, 
Car la meilleure part de moi 
Ne craint point la fatale main. 

Craigne la mort, la fortune, et Fetivie, 
A qui les dieux n'ont doim6 qu'une vie. 

And he sounds the same note in the " Discours au Hoi " : 

Ce g^n&reux d6sir de Fimmortalit6 

Tous Tapportent ici d<^s leur nativit6 . . , 

Ce qui nous montre Men que tout on ue meurt pas, 

Mais qu'il reste de nous apr^s notre tr^pas, 

Je ne sais quo! plus grand et plus divin encore 
Que ce que noun voyons et que la raort devore. 

1 Que je m'esBoufHe. a Panic. *" De Firnmortalit6 des poctes," 



350 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Why, he asks passionately, should the imprisoned soul 
remain here and not jcnake its own escape to heaven ? 

L& est le bien que tout esprit desire, 
L le repos oil tout le monde aspire . . . 
Ll, oh mon ime, au plus haut ciel guide e, 
Tu y pourras reconnattre Fidee 
De la beaute qu'en ce monde j 'adore. 

His comfort in life was friendship, and there seems no 
better expression of it than one of his many sonnets to 
Ronsard. 

A PIERRE DE RONSARD. 

Si quelquefois de Petrarque et d' Horace 

J'ai contrefait les sons m^lodieux, 

Oh saint troupeau ! Oh mignonnes des dieux ! 

Cette faveur me vient de votre gr&ce, 

Mais ce grand bien un plus grand bien efface^ 

M'ayant acquis un ami que les cieux 

Guident si haut au sentier des plus vieux 

Que son savoir le v6tre m&me passe, 

DonCj Ronsard^ un vulgaire Hen 

N'enchaine pas ton coeur avec le mien ; 

Des GrJtces fut telle amour commence: 

Amour vraiement ouvrage de Pallas, 

Et du h^raut, facond neveu d* Atlas, 

Qui tient mon Jtme en Ja tierme enlac^c. 

It was verses such as these l that caused so much disturb 
auoe among the poets. But the disturbance did no lasting 

1 The verses chosen are taken jfirom later volumes than tho$te 
of 1549 and 1550. But the earlier work is no more eccentric 

than these poems and gives no better pretext for enemies to 
lay hold of. 



THE RISE OF THE PLEIADE 

harm, and the Pleiade was strong enough to withstand it. 
They had quick sap in their veins and real life cannot be 
destroyed. For good or bad, the Movement was launched; 
it could safely be left to itself. And here, at the outset 
of its journey, we must stop. Its history, and the further 
history of its chiefs, goes beyond our limits. Of Ronsard's 
friendship with Mary Queen of Scots; of Catherine de 
Medicis 1 favours ; of his brilliant existence at Court, far from 
the greenswards of Gastine; of his death in the midst of 
prosperity it is not our place to speak. Nor is it for us 
to dwell on the end of Joachim du BeUay, who could never 
have lived at Court, and died in poverty and suffering, at 
thirty-five years of age. The record of their maturer days 
belongs, like those of de FOrme and Lescot, to the times 
of the later Valois monarchs. We must leave them on the 
threshold of fame in the early dawn of their prime. But 
the birds sing most sweetly in the dawn, and these had 
but just awakened. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED FOR CHAPTER XXI 

Lettres de Marguerite d'Angoul&me. 

Nouvelle lettres de Marguerite d'Angoul&ne, 

Nouvelles Poesies de Marguerite d'AngouI^me. 

La Coche. 

Le Miroir de 1'Ame P&cheresse: MARGUERITE D'ANGOULftME. 

Les Marguerites de la Marguerite des Princesses: MARGUERITE 

D'ANGOUL&ME. 

Le Tombeau de la Reine de Navarre. 

Oraison Fun^bre sur Marguerite d'Angoul&me: SAJNTE-MARTHE. 
Histoire de B6am et de Foix: OLHAGARAY, 
Histoire Catholique: HILARION BE LA COSTE. 
Daxnes Illustres: BRANTME. 
Dames Illustres: HILARION DE LA COSTE. 
Poesies de Ronsard. 

Livre d'Etat de Marguerite d'Angoulfime : LE COMTE DK LA FEiuufaiE. 
Le Chateau de Pau : LAGII":ZE. 

Vie de Marguerite de Valois : LA COMTESSB D'HAUHSONVIUX 
Conferences sur Marguerite d'Angoul^mc : Limo. 
Biographical Preface to Les Marguerites etc. : FKANCK. 

M 3} Lettres de Marguerite d'Angoul&ue : 

GfcNIN. 

Preface to Nouvelle Lettres : G^;NIN. 

Les Famines des Valois: SAINT-AHANR 

Dictionnaire Historique de Bayle. 

Life of Margaret of Angoul&ne : MAEY EOIIIMSON, 

Causeries de Lundi : SAXNTK-BEUVKL 

Histoire de France (VoL via) : Hmm MAHTIN. 

La Renaissance : MICH*UBT. 




' ' 

,as 

' '" ' ^ '""-' 








Marguerite tie Yale us, Heine cle Navarre, 
Cabinet ties Kstampcs cle la Bibliotheque Nationale ; 

cFapres Jean Clouet. 

& P- -?5 



CHAPTER XXI 
(15471549) 

THE LAST BAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE 

IN the last year of the King^s life there was peace In his 
kingdom. After the battle of Cerisole, Charles V and Henri VIII 
had invaded France,, but, as might have been expected, they 
could not hold together and, in 1546, each separately made 
peace with Francis. At home also there was quiet. The 
Duchesse d'Etampes had retired from Court to the house of 
her husband. There is a tradition that he shut her up 
and starved her to death for her sins, but there is small 
likelihood of its truth. Obscurity was punishment enough for 
her domestic life an adequate purgatory. - We can, without 
reluctance, leave her to a natural death. 

It is to be hoped that Francis had pangs of remorse, but 
the hope is rather sanguine. He was now a prey to a depres- 
sion which sprang from bodily causes. The attacks of his 
painful illness recurred ; his sufferings grew greater, his power 
of resistance less. 

In March, 1547, he was staying at Rambouillet, Margaret 
at the Convent of Tusson, in the Angoumois. It was one 
of her favourite retreats she loved the simple nuns there. 
One night while she was with them, she had a dream which 
filled her with terror. The King appeared, pale as death, 
before her; he called out: a Ma scaur, m'a soeur!^ and his 
voice failed him as he spoke. 



354 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Margaret, when she woke, could not shake off the im- 
pression. She knew no more than that her brother was ailing, 
and she sent at once to Paris for news. The worst seemed 
a certainty. "If someone came to my gate to tell me the 
King had recovered, I would run,'" she said impetuously, 
a to kiss him, whoever he might be. Were he dirty, mud- 
stained, haggard, or weary, I would embrace him as if he 
were the properest gentleman in France. And if he lacked 
a bed and could not find one to rest upon, I would give 
him my own, while I myself lay upon the hard ground, to 
reward him for the tidings he had brought me." 1 Some time 
after, she had the same dream again, and on the morrow 
she despatched a second messenger to Paris. He returned 
with the news that Francis had died two weeks before, on 
the day of her first dream ; but not daring to tell her, he 
said that her brother was well. She was standing in the 
Cloisters speaking to her secretary about getting a fresh 
bulletin, when a sound of sobbing at the other end of the 
building arrested her. She found that it proceeded from a 
poor mad nun who lived in the Convent. " Why are you 
weeping, my sister? 1 ' asked the Queen. "Alas, Madam! 11 
said the nun, " it is your fate that I am bewailing." 1 Mar- 
garet turned sharply to her attendants. " You are hiding 
the King's death from me," she cried, "but by the mouth 
of a fool God has revealed it to me, 11 

Francis had died as she would have winhed. He heard 
Mass; he blessed his son; he advised him to dimmish title 
taxes and to suppress the ambition of the House of Guise ; 
he told Im servants "not to be scandalised if, in the vehe- 
mence of suffering, his heart should neem disturbed . . . All 



LAST DAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE 355 

that night he travailed, repeating unto himself passages of 
Scripture." Then he heard Mass again and listened to a 
homily of Origen's strange matter for the dying ears of a 
light King. "When he was very near unto death, he 
kissed the Cross and held it for a long while in his arms. At 
last he gave up the ghost ; whispering the name of Jesus with 
a great effort, long after he had lost both sight and speech." 

It his hard to know how much of this was sincere, how 
much a death-bed repentance. The monarchs of those days 
extended the divine right of kings beyond the grave, and 
demanded as their right a State-entry into Heaven. The 
ceremonies and pieties of dying sovereigns were part of the 
proper preparation for the celestial pageants, and Francis, 
in this respect, was every inch a King. 

Margaret, at all events, was ready to canonize him. Her 
sorrow was so great that at first it exalted her spirit. For 
forty days after his death she remained at Tusson, "where 
all might see her performing the duties of Abbess, singing 
daily with the Nuns, both at Matins and at Evensong." 
The heavier days came later, when the excitement of grief 
was over and the dreary hours had to be lived through 
without the person who had been the centre of her life. 
Sometimes her pain found an outlet in verse, and the lyrics 
she wrote at this time the cries of a broken heart are 
far the most moving of her poems. 

"Qui pleurera Francois que Marguerite, 

Qui fut li^e par enfance en SOB bers ? 1 

. , . . Depuis les pieds j usque BUS le sommet 

En moi nc sens que desolation. n 

1 Bereeau. 



856 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

So she sings and the tears choke her voice. Memory 
stabs her; she seeks relief in her Dante. 

"Doulenr (il) n'y a qu'au temps de la misere 
Se recorder de 1'heureux et prosp&re : l 
Comme autrefois en Dante j'ai trouve; 
Mais le sais mieux pour avoir eprouve 
Felicit6 et infortune austere. 
Prosperity m'a fait trop bonne ch&re. 
H61as, mon Dieu ! que m'est il arriv6?" 

The days of the Heptameron were over, and though she 
still wrote Pastorals and Interludes and enjoyed seeing them 
acted, they were all grave and allegorical. Spiritual songs, 
as she called them, suited best with her mood, and to these 
she devoted her Muse. Not so long ago an iron casket 
was discovered hidden away in the great Paris Library. 
When it was opened it was found to contain the manu- 
script of the religious poems which Margaret wrote in her 
closing years. Her daughter Jeanne had stored them there 
and they had never seen the light. They show her as nhe 
was after she lost her brother -as she remained to the last 
sweet, steadfast, unutterably sad. 

The King's death was the end of her own life. Marofs 

verses to her had been prophetic, 

\ 

ee O fleur que j'ai la premiere nerae .... 
Tout donne peine, Mlas ! non disservie, a 
Bieii je le sais. J> 

1 There is no pain like that of remembering past 
and past properity when one in in misery. 

s .Deserved, 



LAST DAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE 357 

So he had written in days that were happy by com- 
parison. Thenceforth cares and griefs seemed to multiply 
around her and her good fortune to desert her. Her hus- 
band was unfaithful and went more and more away from 
her, with the one good result that he left the affairs of his 
kingdom entirely in her hands. It was as much a mark 
of confidence as of neglect, but not the one she would have 
chosen. " He does not even care to give the pleasure of a 
single line of his handwriting to a poor ailing woman,'*' she 
once wrote. Her daughter was as cold as ever. The new 
king, Francis"* son, disliked his aunt and made difficulties 
about her pension. She had even to debase herself by 
writing almost servile letters to beg for a continuance of 
royal favour, or by asking Diane de Poitiers to intercede 
in her behalf. "You know," she wrote to a friend, "that 
without it, it would be impossible for me to keep up my 
house- that I have only just enough to get through the 
year and it may surely be believed that without necessity 
it is not my habit to be a beggar. 11 She implored Mont- 
morency, who had been recalled to Court, not to work 
against her, and it was largely due to him that at last she 
got her pension. 

"1 see that time has not conquered your memory," she 
wrote to him, "and has not made you forget the love I 
have borne you, from your childhood onwards.^ This was all 
very well, but hin memory could have evoked other impressions 
besides those of her love, and after the pleasure she showed 
at his disgrace on Jeanne's wedding-day one cannot but 
regret that she stooped to become his debtor. 

The pension, paltry enough, did not come a moment too 



358 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

soon. All through the time of her uncertainty about it 
she had been obliged to live very austerely retrenching in 
everything except charity. She had rather, she said, sell 
all the furniture in her Chateau than diminish her gifts to 
the poor. And when the money came, the two first quarters 
had to go in paying her daughter's preposterous bills and 
the wages of Jeanne's endless retinue. Economy as well as 
sensitiveness made Margaret now shrink from society. She 
said she was ill and allowed her husband and her daughter 
to go to the King's " Sacre " without her ; and when she was 
asked to be godmother to the new little princess, Claude, 
she begged Henri II to accept Jeanne as a proxy. The end 
of her letter is piteous: a humble petition to the King 
to keep for her the post of Governess to his children. 
"Vous suppliant de m'en garder la place, 1 ' do not seem 
the words for a Queen to utter, or for an aunt to write to 
her nephew, but sorrow had brought her very low. 

She was, however, forced to be present at Henri IPs 
entry into Lyons one of the most gorgeous pageants on 
record. The Saone was a fairy-land of ships, tented with 
red velvet and manned by sailors in satin scarlet, or 
black and white the colours of the King. They followed 
the Royal Boat as it sailed up the river. There were 
allegories of the Rhone and the Saclnc; there were rocks 
and satyrs; Greek temples and centaurs; there were obelisks 
and fountains of wine. There was, to crown all, a 
vast improvised forest^ from which, when Henri appeared, 
there emerged to the sound of trumpets Diana and her 
nymphs, She was an elegant Court Diana, younger than 
her living namesake, with a Turkish bow ami crimHom 



LAST DAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE 359 

boots. Her dress was of " toile cfor noire, semee cFetoiles 
d'argent," and her hair was " interlaced with ropes of pearls 
and jewels." She wore a silver crescent on her brow and, 
while her Nymphs led hounds in silken leashes, she was 
followed by a lion, which she brought to the feet of the 
King. " Cette Diane et ses compagnes," comments Brant6me, 
"c'etaient les plus belles femmes, les plus belle filles de la 
ville de Lyon folatrement accoutres et retroussees." They 
must have been a rather trying spectacle for Catherine de 
Medicis, who watched the show with Margaret from a 
window in the Rue St. Jean. The next day the two Queens 
figured in the grand procession through the town : Catherine 
and her daughter in the first litter, Margaret and Jeanne 
in the second. 

In this same year, 1S48, began negotiations for Jeanne's 
second, marriage the marriage which disturbed the rest of 
Margaret's existence. Henri II proposed two suitors for 
the hand of her daughter : Antoine de Bourbon, and Fran- 
^ois de Lorraine, son of the Due de Guise, whose brother 
had married the daughter of Diane de Poitiers. Henri 
wished for the Lorraine match and said so, but he con- 
descended to ask Jeanne which man she preferred. The 
Jeanne of twenty was still the Jeanne of eleven. 

"Do you wish, Sire," she replied, "that the woman who 
ought to be my train-bearer should be my sister-in-law, 
and that I should hobnob with the daughter of Madame 
de Valentinofe?" 

She was not, however, proof againnt Antoine de Bourbon, 
and even expressed a wish to become his wife much to 
her uncle** natiftfaction and to the discomfort of her parents. 



360 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

They, especially Margaret, hated the marriage from the first. 
She probably still wanted the Heir of Spain as a son-in- 
law, and this new plan was the last drop in her cup. 
Montmorency had returned to his old ways with her and 
was acting no friendly part. Reinstated in power, he was 
in the King's counsels, and he persecuted Margaret to make 
her yield to HenrPs wishes. She got no quarter from the 
King, who did not conceal his distaste for her, " The farther 
I see ? " he wrote to Montmorency, "the less goodwill I 
expect from my aunt and my uncle. " Their opposition 
enraged him, and so suspicious did he grow that he went 
the length of intercepting all their letters, to make sure 
they were concocting no scheme that interfered with his 
own. He summoned the King of Navarre to court, but the 
wily prince pretended to be ill and did not appear* He 
was not so firm, though, as Margaret, and after a thne, 
he consented to yield to Jeanne's will. In the end Margaret 
herself was forced to give in to Montmorency^ importun- 
ities, but she did so unwillingly and never chang- 
ed her mind about the marriage. After its celebration 
her royal nephew* Henri, wrote a description to Mont- 
morency. 

**I have never," he said, "seen so joyous a bride. She 
did nothing but laugh .... This wedding is the be^t pledge 
I can have from her parents. Her father pretend*; to be 
the happiest creature in the world you know the man ; but 
from what I can gather about him and several others, lie 
cares for nothing, now that his daughter in married, ex- 
cepting to live well and to get heaps of money. 19 

And again in another letter 



LAST DAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVAERE 361 

"The Queen of Navarre is on the worst terms possible 
with her husband and all because of her love for her 
daughter who takes no notice of her mother. You never 
saw such tears as my aunt shed when they parted, and had 
it not been for me, she would never have gone home with 
her husband." 

Henri II was certainly not a pleasant relation, though 
Margaret, who had to keep well with him, pathetically 
describes his society as a une compagnie tant aisee tt vivre." 
From Catherine, she says, she has "never yet heard a word 
that one sister should not say to another," which may have 
been some consolation for the King's indulging in so many. 
As for Jeanne, except for a triumphal return to Pau, she 
practically passed out of her mother's life. Her literary 
respect for Margaret seems to have been her strongest feeling 
for her ? as the storing of her manuscripts implies. But this 
was cold comfort for a heart like Margaret's, and she did 
not live to have the warmer one of holding a grandson in 
her arms. Her chief friends were her faithful maids-of- 
honour who lived with her and loved her. Their very 
names Madame <T Avangour, a qui ne fait qu^couter ; 1 
Mademoiselle St. Father, who made jam ; Mademoiselle d'Or- 
soBvillera, sung by Marot have the fascination of an echo : 
the echo of a refined splendour, half stately, half intimate. 

AB time went on, broken though she was, Margarets in- 
terests began to re-assert their claims. Her spirit could not 
bear confinement to one chamber, even when it was that of 

1 Margaret** saying about her. 



36S THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

sorrow. Poets and scholars still visited her court and de- 
dicated their works to their " Maecenas ", as they called her, 
and she still read what they wrote. Books always kept their 
hold on her and she spent many hours among her own, 
ranged in the shelves of her library, in the binding she had 
chosen for them rich brown leather sprinkled with golden 
daisies. All her belongings were decked with devices, many 
and various, grave and fantastic, with her Marguerite turning 
to the sun and her "Non inferiora secutus"; with her "Phis 
vous que moi"; or her lily between two daisies with the 
words "Mirandum naturae opus", and a crown above the 
flowers. 

There was one marked change in her after her loss. Though 
her charity and tolerance remained unshaken, though Re- 
formers still presented her with their tomes, she returned 
more and more to the faith of her childhood. With her 
we may be sure that it was no fear of death that made her 
do so. She had always stopped shoit at the daring of 
Luther. Bruised as she now was by life, the unconsoling 
gloom of Calvinism repelled her, while the beauty and emo- 
tion of the Catholic ritual drew her irresistibly back to it. 
The masses for the dead, the prayers to Virgin and Saints, 
suited well with her mood. She was living in the Pant 
more than in the Present, and the Church of Home WRH the 
Church of her mother and her brother, the Church of her 
own early days. She founded convents she became Ktrict 
about orthodox ceremonial On her death-bed nhe told her 
Confessor that she had protected the Reformers from pure 
compassion and had never separated herself from Catholicitiin* 
This was half true~she had at no time renounced the central 



LAST BAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE 363 

beliefs of the old creed; but it was a reformed Catholicism 
that she made for, and she certainly protected the Reformers 
from taste as much as from pity. Those who love her cannot 
but feel sorry that this should have been her last expression 
of faith. Her heart ruled her reason in death, as it had 
done in life, and she was a sweeter, if not a wiser woman for 
it. She was wide rather than strong, "seeking", as a French 
critic has it, "to find a footpath in all directions,''* One 
must not malign admirable spirits through one^s admiration, 
or ask for more than they can give us. Bayle is cleverer 
in his surprise that a princess, born a Catholic and im- 
passioned for a brother who persecuted, should have been 
able to accomplish what she did. 

a l cannot conceive,'' 1 he says, "how this Queen of Navarre 
raised herself to such a high point of equity and reason. It 
was from no indifference to religion, since it is certain that 
she was very pious and studied the Scriptures with singular 
concentration. The beauty of her genius and the greatness 
of her soul must have shown her a by-way which very few 
people knew of," 

Ilayle does not exaggerate* If she did not establish a new 
ideal, or rather an old one reformed, she never sullied either 
old or new by thought, word, or deed. Unkindness and stu- 
pidity kept far from her Christ was more than the Pope 
to her* She was always true to charity and held it high 
above dogma. 

But La Marguerite ties Marguerites was closing her petals. 
**Cette mere aimable dc la Renaissance " was soon to desert 
children. A short while before the end she had another 
It was of a white-robed figure who held a wreath 



3645 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

towards her and said "Bientot". She took the apparition 
as an incontestable sign of her death and began to prepare 
for it. She withdrew from public affairs, restored the man- 
agement of the kingdom to her husband, wound up all 
her business, and retired to the Chateau of Odos, in Bigorre. 
We cannot but hope that he and she had, in these closing 
days, some sort of return to the comradeship of early times. 
The last sum entered in her account-book was for her New 
Year's present to him. We wish it had been his to hei\ 
The manner of her death was strangely like that of her 
mother. In December, 1544, a comet had appeared, sup- 
posed to be the presage of Paul IIPs end. Margaret took 
it also as an augur of her own. She was anxious to see it, 
and, in the contemplation of it, she caught the chill that 
was fatal to her. 

" Le vrai dormir, le tr&s-doux sommeiller, 1 ' she had written 
of death when it was not near her. When it came, when 
she was told that it must be soon, she did not wish to 
die. She found, said Brantome, "ce mot fort amer, disant 
quelle ifetait point tellcment &gee ? qu'elle no put vivrc encore 
quelques annees." But it was not to be* She received Ex- 
treme Unction from a simple Franciscan monk, without any 
pomp or state. Soon after, her speech failed her and the 
lay unconscious for three days. At the supreme moment, 
she rallied. Some memory of her brother must have haunt- 
ed her; like him, she called out "Jesus" three times 
and fervently kissed the Cross which had lain all the 
time in her arms. The struggle was overher heart was 
at peace* Her own prayer, made in past yearo, was at ltu%fe 
fulfilled. 



LAST DAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE 365 

Seigneur^ quand viendra le jour 

Tant desire 
Que je serai par amour 

A vous tire ? . . . 
Essuyez des tristes yeux 

Le long gemir, 
Et me donnez pour le mieux 

Un doux dormir. 

Whatever her husband^s relations to her in her lifetime, 
there is no doubt about the sincerity of his sorrow. He 
was a weak creature and directly he had lost her he became 
a prey to remorse, perhaps also to the luxury of expressing 
it. He knew, too, how sorely he needed her at every turn 
and how ill he should get on without her. There is some- 
thing touching, even dignified, in the description of his grief, 

u What* 11 says the old chronicler, " shall we say of the 
King, bereft of his Margaret? No longer did he run a 
strong course. He seemed as one swaying from side to side, 
wretched and ill at ease, like those, who unaccustomed to 
the sea, cross from one vessel to another, trying to avoid 
falling into the water. So this poor prince strayed hither 
and thither. In vain his people attempted to comfort him. 
<Ha! my good subjects, 1 he cried, *I know that one must 
leave off* complaining and mend one's ills as one can. I 
know that this is the lesson which Reason teaches us that, 
con&idering my rank, it is a dishonour to me to shed these 
womanish tears," 1 (Philosophers* he says, may be allowed to 
weep, nince moderation always keeps a dignity of its own.) 
** But 1 have come to a resolution, even though I wept as 
I made it. I am certain that we must all bow to the will 



366 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

of God Who has wisely ordained this law for Man, only 
making him mortal to deliver him from mortality by the 
everlasting life of the soul. And he who does not pay this 
debt to God gaily is most miserable, both in life and in 
death. For that man is a bad soldier who follows his Cap- 
tain reluctantly. My mourning is deeper for you than for 
myself. She loved you with such a love that she would 
have spared nothing for your good .... but as all must 
suffer death .... (which we dread too much as a perilous 
cliff in our voyage), I shall obey the great Pilot, even though 
I am swallowed up in the hell of my anguish; and I shall 
let myself drift with the wind which it pleaseth Him to 
send me from heaven."" 5 1 

Henry of Navarre had an eloquent tongue and eloquent 
thoughts. He probably in time persuaded himself that he 
had been a good husband. He had had his tender moments, 
and it was easy to dwell upon them. There is still a book 
in the Library of the Arsenal in Paris, a book of Christian 
instruction for children, which contains a miniature of them 
both. Henry is in a garden holding a flower towards Margaret, 
who is seen behind a grating, robed in cloth of gold, with a 
black head-dress and a veil. Below the Navarre arum stands 
written " I have found a precious Marguerite and gathered 
it into my inmost heart. 11 The portrait JH not quite un- 
truthful the grating k between them. It is thug, at all 
events, that we like to remember them ; thus that,, alter her 
death, he did remember her. * 
1 Olhagaray: Histoire de IM&ra et de Folx. 

s His own was not till 1555, when his daughter Jeanne 

succeeded him. 



LAST DAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE 367 

Margaret had the funeral that all Queens have. Her wax 
effigy was laid in the Church at Lescar and watched by 
three lords, holding the three Royal trophies : the crown, the 
sceptre, and the "Main de Justice," which was carried with 
her up to her tomb. All the great nobles of France were 
present at her funeral all except Montmorency, who kept 
a grudge against her even at her death, and made himself 
conspicuous by his absence. 

"The Sister and wife of Kings; the Queen of the Muses; 
the tenth of their band and their dearest care; the fourth 
Charity ; the Queen of knowledge lies beneath this marble. 1 " 1 
Such was the epitaph which a poetess wrote for her. Showers 
of funeral tropes followed in due season. Nor were they 
from France alone. In 1550, there appeared in Paris a 
volume of a hundred Latin distiches in her honour, composed 
by the three Seymour sisters, worth y| nieces of Lady Jane 
Grey and pupils of a French tutor, Nicholas Denisot, He 
himself, with a crowd of others, Bai'f, Dorat and the like, 
translated these rhapsodies into Greek, French and Italian, 
and they added poems of their own. Ronsard and du 
Bellay, who can hardly have known her, followed suit with 
polished praise. 

Ici ia Heine sommeille^ 
Bes Reines la nonpareille, 
Qui si doucemeat chanta; 
Cent la. Reine Marguerite, 
La plus belle fleur d' elite 
Qu*oncques FAurore enfanta. 

So wrote Romanl, most exquisite of laureates. All the 
harvest of panegyrics was ultimately gathered into a book s 



368 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

"Le tombeau de la Relne de Navarre," to which Sainte- 
Marthe contributed his "Oraison funebre" a piece of living 
prose worth all the verses put together. 

The best monument to the Queers memory was perhaps 
the life of her niece her favourite niece and her namesake, 
Margaret of Bern, Duchess of Savoy, who humbly modelled 
her life on that of her aunt. "For as the Easter Daisy, 
or Marguerite, hath the healing virtue and standeth as the 
symbol of consolation so did this princess bring com- 
fort to many." She took the children of the countryside 
and brought them up. She was tender to the weak ; she 
protected men of letters. Joachim du Bellay was her Marot : 
he burst into tears when he knew she was. leaving France 
for her new duchy. She wrote passable poems she cared 
for all that was beautiful she refused (so Honsard told her 
chronicler) many great suitors for the sake of Duke Emmanuel 
Philibert of Savoy, the man she loved ; and, unlike the first 
Margaret, she married him in her youth. It was no fault 
of her aspirations if she did not accomplish c> much in 
Savoy as her aunt had done in Navarre, but the fault of a 
mind less brilliant, less vigorous, less comprehenmvc, tlmti 
that of Margaret of Angoulfime. 

For Margaret belongs not only to her time and her circle, 
or to the circumstance of her position, As a woman of 
letters she belongs to posterity and the world. Her gift, 
though not of the first order, was enough to entitle her to 
rank among the creators of literature; and if her personal 
life was over, her public life lasted on. The ** Ileptatnerori w 
will always be her chief title to fame* It in a collection 
of Boccaccian stories told by a goodly company of men and 



LAST DAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE 369 

women, full of life and laughter, whom her subtle pen has 
painted in vivid colours. Some of them were portraits 
many of their narratives were true. Margaret took little 
pains to mask either people or events, even where her own 
love-affairs were concerned. And the book holds the memory 
of her Pyrenean country. Every description breathes with 
personal experience, whether she writes of the storm and 
the mountain-torrent which prevented the progress of the 
company, or the hillside monastery which sheltered them, 
and the green Alpine meadows where they sat to tell their 
tales. 

She wrote these Nouvelks between 1544 and "48. l One of 
her favourite writers, Antoine Le Mayon, had come back some 
time before from Florence, and had, by her orders, published a 
volume of Boccaccian romances which he brought with him. 
Their success was unheard of. She tells us that the King, 
the Dauphin, the Dauphme " made so great a stir about 
them, that, could Boccaccio have heard their illustrious 
praise, it would have raised him from the dead." Margaret, 
Catherine de Medicis, and the great Sen&hale of Poitou agreed 
to write a rival book together and took to their pens with 
enthusiasm. But events of importance intervening, they had 
to let the scheme drop, and Margaret was the only one who 
resumed it, just about the time of Francis 1 illness. The 
work was not published till 1558, nineteen years after her 
death, by one, Pierre Boaisteau, who altered the whole book, 
even to its name, and called it a Histoire des araants 



1 See tf Life of Margaret of Angoul&me " by Miss Mary Robin- 

son^ whose argument for the adoption of these dates seems 
conclusive. 

24 



370 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Jeanne complained of the wrong thus done to her mother, and 
another publisher brought out a new edition, fairly faithful to 
the original text 1 and dedicated to the author's daughter. 
Thus, with many emendations, have the tales come down 
to us; and as fresh critics have arisen, fresh light has been 
thrown, thin disguises have been removed, personages identi- 
fied. As a picture of the morals of the day of its queer 
mixture of vices and virtues of court comedy and court 
tragedy it stands alone of its kind. The art that wove the 
rich tapestry is no small one ; an art which, at this moment, 
startles us by its freedom : at that, charms us by a sweetness 
and sublety all its own. The hand is the hand of a Princess, 
but the voice is the voice of a human being; we feel 
that each word is written by an unworldly woman of the 
world. 

When we come to the poems, praise flown more slowly, 
The tradition of her day was a dull one at best a tradition 
of naive philosophy and she was more intellectual than 
poetic. Her thoughts ate often interesting. If she repeats 
them till we are tired, we must remember that they were 
fresh discoveries to her. She was full of the new sense of 
natural law, of harmony in all things. 

"En 1'homme et bfite; animaux efc en planter, 
Un seul en tons est toe et mouvetnent, 

Vie, penser, raison et sentiment/* 

1 He was a cautious editor and left out {wssagcs, even stmiew, 
which he thought too heretical for ; but he 

the order in which the Queen of Navarre hmelf told the 
tales. 



LAST DAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE 371 

" Le Miroir de Tame pecheresse,' 11 we have already glanced 
at. It is a long evangelical hymn of conversion and its 
main interest lies in the risks that she ran for it. Prob- 
ably the Sorbonne found other reasons for condemning it 
beside those that it alleged. There are one or two phrases 
referring to her past life which, however great her repent- 
ance, might well cause alarm in the hearts of suspicious 
old divines. She confesses her former doubts to God; she 
tells Him she thought Him an immoral Being; she cites 
the language she once used. 

Vous nous faites de mal-faire defense,, 

Et pareil mal faites sans conscience. 

Vous dfendz de tuer, a chacun, 

Mais vous tuez sans epargner aucun 

De vingt trots mille que vous faites defaire. 

Of the Scriptures she says : 

Las ! tons ces mots ne voulais &outer. 
Mais encore je vcnais a douter 
Si c'tait vous,, ou si, par aventure, 
Cc n'&ait rien qu'une simple Venture. 

These are strong words for any generation Voltaire 
would not have disowned them. But the charm of Margaret 
was unconsciousness,, and when she uttered what was daring, 
it came SB much from her heart as did the romantic mystic- 
ism of her later days. 

We feel no reluctance in quitting her reflective poems. 
Yet amid her vast tracts of rhyme, there spring tip here 
and there little floweiw of thought and fancy which we 
should like to gather up in a posy. There are her lines 



372 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

on Joan of Arc the flawless crystal lamp "toute deifiee," 
through which Go<Ts light shone clearly. Or her sonnets 
on sacred and profane passion, in which the greater Love, 
finding the smaller, tears the bandage from its eyes, the light 
wings "du corps trop tendre et beau," and then takes the 
wounded Cupid in his arms and makes of it a bigger Love 
than it has been. Or here, to continue, is her description 
of the work of poets : 

De toutes fleurs cbacun livre est couvert., 
Faites d'&nail sur un, fonds de velours vert . . . 
L'entendement n'en est i\ nul donne 7 
Fors a celui qui est poete ne. 

The last two lines are very like an aphorism. So is her : 
"Faits passes sent maltres des pr&sents." 

a foretaste of modern ideas. 

Margaret's pen had its sprightly moods and was charm- 
ing in them in her recipe for Life, for instance: 

Trois onces faut prendre de patience; 

Puis de repos et paix de conscience 
II en faut Men la livre entiere . . . 

. . , Pomme d j amour faut prendre, mais bien pen 

, . . De moquerie une oace, voire deux . . . 

A grain of the ** moquerie* 1 Bometimes into her 

Pastorals and Interludes, The most important among them 
is perhaps <4 La Coche"- the old word for Coach-^detlicatecl, 
in the days of their friendship, tci the Duchawe d^Etampe^. 
There in in it a picture which shows Margaret an her knee*, 
presenting her book to the Duchcm Thfa in the ab* 



LAST DAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE 378 

stract part of the work; the rest is feminine metaphysics. 
Three weeping ladies dispute with academic fantasy as to 
which of them should bear the palm for sorrow, Margaret 
listens to them in a grove and cheers their occasional swoons. 
The first loves and is no longer loved ; the second has been 
deserted for another; the third, who is the most highly- 
strung, has renounced a paragon lover for the sake of her 
two mournful friends. Nothing short of a storm can check 
their elegiac prolixities. It breaks; a large, unessential 
Coach rolls vaguely on to the scene and they are carried 
off in it by Margaret, who resolves to write down their 
sad case and bring it before an umpire the Duchesse 
d'Etampes. She is a magnificent umpire in cloth of gold 
and ermine and "force pierreries; 1 " and she is sure to out- 
Solomon Solomon. So all are content, and the "Coche" 
bears the lachrymose company into the land of oblivion. 

The whole poem is not wanting in a kind of stiff fascina- 
tion, but it touches no human chord. It was reserved for 
sorrow to draw real poetry out of Margaret. Her verses 
about Francis are many, but perhaps the tenderest and 
most musical of her poems is one that she wrote to a Baby 
Princess, a child of her brother's who died young. It is 
an exception among the earlier poems, usually colder and 
more elaborate: but, again, the inspiration which warms it 
is drawn from the depths of grief. It takes the form of a 
dialogue between herself and the little spirit, 



(MA0AME CHARLOTTE FARLANT A SON 

Sailleag &efaor% mon Imc, je vous prfe, 
Du corps tout plein de fascherie 



374 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

Oil vous etiez en obscure prison 
Pour parvenir a la belle maison^ 
Avec les saints et leur confrerie; 
Laissez-le 1& puisqull en est saisoxi; 
Saillez detiors. 

(MADAME LA DUCHESSE PARLANT A L'AME DE MADAME CHARLOTTE) 

Repondez-moLj 6 douce aine vivante^ 
Qui par la mort, qui les fous 6pouvante, 
Avez &t6 d'un petit corps delivre", 
Lequelj huit ans acoomplis, n*a su vivre ; 
Bites comment en la cour triomphante 
De votre Roi et Pere 6tes contente^ 
En declarant comme amour vous enivre, 



Las ! mon enfant, parleys a votre tante 
Que tant laissez apres vous lauguissante. 

Pour soulager ma douleur v6h6mente, 
R6ponde&-moi ! 

(R&PONSE DE L'AMK) 

Con tenter- vous, tante trop ignorant**, 

Puisqu'ainsi plait u- la Bont6 

D'avoir voulu la separation 

Du petit corps 9 duquel Vaffectiou 

Vous en rendait la vue trop 

Je mis ici belle, elaire et 

Pleine de Oieu et de lui 

Wen ayess deuil ni 

\l 



Her own poem is a fitting clone to the Hlory of Margaret 
of Angouleme la perle de Valoi ; of of Navumt, 



LAST DAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE 375 

the sister, the wife, the friend, the poet. Other words of 
hers there are words that she wrote about herself which 
seem to us still more fitting: a truer epitaph than those 
which poetasters composed for her, and yet too simple and 
unconscious for any sepulchral marble. "Celle," they run, 
"qui a plus porte que son faix de Fenmii commun a toute 
creature bien-nee." 

Queen that she was ? she had borne the burden and she 
j>lept in her turn. 

Her name is inseparable from her age; inseparable from 
the brother whom she loved. In some ways they were the 
complement, in others, the opposite of one another. The 
contrast they presented in their early days held good at the 
end of their lives. Both may be said to have fallen short 
in achievement, if their deeds are compared with the aims 
with which they set out. Francis failed from too little 
feeling; Margaret from too much. He lacked the serious- 
ness, the weight and concentration, which are needful to 
carry out big purposes. Had he boasted these qualities, 
the fate of Italy would have been different. He would either 
have never tried to win her, or else he would not have lost 
her. He would not have betrayed Reform; he would have 
enlarged the field of the Renaissance. Had he simply been 
bad, or had he posnessed less sensibility, he might have 
ptumied the magic-minded policy of a cool nature. But this 
lie could not do, even in matters of detail. Cold and im- 
prawionablc, choked by his impulses, blown hither aad 
thither by the Bentse**, he did not know what he was making 
for, and he ruined his own heart as well m the hearts of 
other**. 



376 THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

He caused enough suffering to Margaret. He could not 
injure a character so rich and so noble as hers. Her person- 
ality must have left its trace on everybody who knew her, 
and, in this way, she accomplished more than she dreamed of. 
But had it not been for him, she would, we must repeat it, 
have fulfilled the ideal of Erasmus; she would have created 
a Broad Church in France. Whether or no it could have 
taken root in a nation which likes all or nothing scepticism 
or Rome is a very different question. But she would in 
any case have founded a tradition of enlightenment; she 
might have softened and widened Catholicism, and curbed 
its cruelty and intolerance. The period that followed hers 
was one of the ugliest in history. It was a period of cynical 
bigotry and coarse persecution; of effeminate corruption, of 
exhaustion caused by surfeit The best days of the Pleiade 
ended with its leaders ; those of the Renaissance artists, with 
Lescot and de FOrme with Goujon and with Palissy. Art 
became impure and decadent, busy with luxury and detail 
As for Romance, it was buried beneath Materialism. 

This had not been the case in the reign of Francis. 
Whatever the grossness of his age, it was grossncss capable 
of heroism. It sought no dark corners; it was frank to 
excess. Whatever the immorality, there wan about it a 
certain naivete an effervescence belonging to a clay when 
men had the force to enjoy themselves. The gronnneBH and 
the vice were alike deplorable, but they were the seamy 
side of a wholesome-minded time, ignorant of the subter- 
fuges of satiety. It was a time of belief* and conviction** 
strong enough to make a Rabelais~to create u and 

generous art* And Francis I and his sinter, apart ftom their 



LAST DAYS OF MARGARET OF NAVARRE 377 

faults or their virtues, were at least faithful to one charge : 
they were ever the protectors of the Beautiful. Margaret 
of Angouleme went further she held out her hand to the 
thinkers of her generation. Though all else about her be 
forgotten, this should be remembered : she was, from begin- 
ning to end, the loyal servant of knowledge; the friend of 
the Graces; the guardian-spirit of the French Renaissance. 



INDEX 



INDEX 



Alencon (Due d*), 100, 101, 10$, 13132, 137. 

Alexander de' Medici, 275. 

Almanni (Luigi), 234. 

Amboise (Cardinal of), 88. 

Amyot, 194. 

Andrea del Sarto, 317. 

Angelo (Michael), 277, 

Angoul^me (see Margaret of). 

Angoul&me (Comte de), 77. 

Anne de Beaujcu, 28, 29, 32, 77, 81, 136, 139. 

Anne de Bretagne, 20, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, 67, 70, 81, 88, 89, 90, 

92, 140, 211, 218. 

Anne Boleyn, 31, 110, 111, HI, 177. 
Antoine de Bourbon, 359. 
Arande (Michel d'), ISO -21. 
Armagnac (Marie d'), 103. 
Arthur Prince of Wales, 99- 
Avangour (Mme. d'), 36 1. 



B 



Half (the elder), 336, 338, 339- 

Bait (the younger), 338, 339, $40, 34% 367. 

Bayavd, 107, 1423, 320. 

Bayle, 50, $6& 



382 



N E X 



Beaujeu (Pierre de), 69 y 136, 

Beaumont, 342. 

Beda, 56, 122, 179, 180, 181. 

Belleau (Remy), 340., 344. 

Bembo, 36, 40, 41, 246, 247, 252. 

Benvenuto Cellini, 158, 191, 317 20. 

Berquin, 56, 12122, 178, 180, 254. 

Beze (de), 210. 

Boaisteau, 369- 

Bodin, 46. 

Boisy (Mme. de), 137. 

Boleyn (Sir Thomas), 141. 

Bonaventura Dupuy, 100, 251. 

Bonaventure des Purlers, 184, 192, 210, 216, 219,223; life and 

death, 227. 

Bonnivet, 100, 103, 142, 144. 
Bouchet, 79, 210. 

Bourbon (Constable de), see Montpensier. 
Bourbon (Susanne de), 136, 137, 139, 140. 
Bourbon (Nicholas), 198, 253. 
Bourdeille, 169- 

Brandon (Duke of Suffolk), 95. 
Branttone, 16, 17, 18, 20, 23, 26, 7*i, 137, 167,, 169-70, i7<>, 

359, 364. 

Bi%onnet, 121, 122, 124, 180. 
Brosse (Jean de), 112* 
Bruno (Giardano), 277. 
Budi, 36, 43, 44, 46, 4752, 55, 56', 17<), tJIO, &W, <45*J, f264. 



Calvin, 104, 119, ll, 183 85, 218, *i<), ^ 

Canaples, (Mme. de), S7. 

Catherine of Aragon, 99, 15657, 177, 

Catherine de Foix, 165, 



INDEX 383 

Catherine de Medicis, 19, 278, 32, 37, 72, 181, 21920, 236, 

311, 31314, 318, 324, 327, 351, 359, 36l 
Catherine Parr, 181. 
Catullus, 35, 
Cavalli, 309. 
Cervantes, 283. 
Chabot, 85. 

Champollion-Figeac, 313. 
Charles of Orleans, 10, 207, 210, 289- 
Charles Due <T Orleans (son of Francis), 315, 336. 
Charles V (Emperor), 29, 31, 55, 89, 90, 111, 126, 12829, 133, 

137, 138, 140, 14245, 14956, 15760, 16671, 177, 203, 

219, 275, 276, 310, 31516, 353. 
Charles VIII of France., 3, 10, 28, 29, 37, 48, 66, 67, 69, 

144, 227. 

Charlotte (Mme.), 373. 
Chartres (Bishop of), 216. 

CMteaubriand (Mme. de), 112, 11314, 1367, 216, 219, 313. 
Chatillon (Cardinal de), 302. 
Chevalier (Eticnne), 69. 
Cicero, 35, 246, 248. 
Clarissa of Milan, 112. 
Claude (Queen), 83, 89, flO, })#, 113, 137, 141, 166, 218; marriage, 

31; death, 111 -IS. 
Claude (Princess), 350. 

CWmcnce de Bourgtw, 281, 234, 2356, 41. 
Clement VII, 158, 159, 160, 18183, 276, 
Q6v<s* (Due de), 199, 200, 203* 
Ctouete (Family), 5J), 70. 
Clouet (Franco!**), 702, 98. 
Clone t (Jew), 701, i})l, ail. 
Coleridge, 334* 
Colombo (Michel), 657. 
ComeiHe de Lyons, 5}), 72. 
Gtnuin, 59, 7*2 
CuJ&s, 40. 



584? INDEX 

D 

Dandolo, 152. 

Dan6s, 55. 

Dante, 354. 

Denisot (Nicholas), 367. 

Diane de Poitiers, 20, 25, 31114, 3 If), 327, 329, 357, 359- 

Dishomme (Mme.), 91. 

Dolet, 44, 184, 216, 223, 225, 245, 268, 279 5 character, 2456; 

birth and education, 24647 ; attitude to Cicero and Erasmus, 

24748 ; in Italy and Toulouse, 24849 ; his religion, 24950 ; 

at Lyons, 251 52; friendships, 2523; printing-business., 

imprisonments and trial, 25456; death, 257. 
Dorat, 210, 339, 344, 367, 
Doria (Andrea), 159- 
Drayton, (Michael), 235. 
Du Bellay (Joachim), 60, 281, 36768 ; meeting with Ronnard, 

334 ; birth and training, 34041 ; comparison with Ronsard, 

342, 343 ; Ronsard's influence upon him, 342 ; their ideas and 

religion, 34243 ; Defense de Poesie and consequence^ 344- - 

45; poems, 34850; death, 35 L 
Du Bellay (Family), 264, 265, 266, 270, 34 L 
Du Bellay (Guillaume), 216, 266, 27071, 33(5, 341. 
Du Bellay (Jean), 56, 269, 270, 2717% 278, 275), 280, &J4, .141 ; 

relations with Henry VIII, 27174; with Pope, *J74; letter* 

27273; embassies to Rome, 27476, 
Dubois, 46. 

Duchatel (Pierre), 55, 121, 254 
Dumoulins, 46. 
Dumoustier, 59- 
Dunois (Capt), IS. 
Durer, 61. 

E 

Edward III, 16. 

Eleanor of Portugal, 140, 141, 151, 15% l60-~6*i, til 7, 
Elizabeth (Queen), 181, 



i K E x 385 

Embrun (Bishop of), 150. 
Emmanuel PMlibert of Savoy, 368. 
Bntragues (Mine, de), 21. 

Erasmus, 35, 36, 44, 50, 55, 126", 129131, 155,, 178 80, 245, 

48, 252, 254, 300, 301, 302, 376. 
Este (Hercules of), 82, 218. 

Estienne (Family), 43, 44, 45, 56, 245, 252. 

Estienne (Robert), 44, 45, 224, 82. 

Estienne (Henri), 44. 

Etissac (Bishop of Maillessais), ^64, 265, 275, ^77. 

Etissac (Mme. d'), 277. 



Fare!, 56, I 12. 

Ferdinand of Austria, 82, Kio. 

Ferdinand of Calabria, j)9. 

Ferrier (du), 46. 

Filareti, 68. 

Fletcher, 3-12. 

FieurangeK, 85 7. 

Fontaine, U, 210, 2 If), SW5, 345. 

Forti, 53. 

Forttni (Tomittiigo), mil 

Fouquet, r>f) f 68, % 

Francis I: 

His character, 105 7, 159; extravagance, 9&i 194; parsimony, 
:<>; attitude to rellgioii, IIJI si<), 125-6, 177; to scholarship, 
-H> (friendship with Bucle); 51, 5H, &'* -6 (College dc France); 
attitude to art and architecture^ fisStt, *11,6 17; his device^ 6*1 
Birth, 7H ; ehlklhuw! and r<lweat!0 83- 7, H8 ; waniage with 
Claude, :*l, {K> -^; f*rly Icive-ffii!ra f i, llii 14, 1256; 
and Mary Tudor, f|5 ; tu&ewion to throne f JW ; relation 
to if % AngPttlane, 105-7; at Marignan, 107; attitude 

to Itely, HW 11^; Field of the <*Ioth of Gold and rektfemjj 
with V, 1 10- - ! I ; lit Pavte, Ifr-lS7, 142 1; 



386 



T N i) K X 



imprisonment in Italy, 127 8 ; machinations for deliverance,, 
133 ; Francis and Constable de Bourbon, 136 38 ; captivity in 
Madrid, 149 52; 154 55; return to France, 156; war in 
Italy, 159 60; treaty of Cambrai and marriage to Eleanor of 
Portugal, 16*0 61 ; promises and treachery to Margaret, 165; 
letter of sympathy to her, 1.7071; removes Jeanne, 172; 
matrimonial plans for her, 199200; at her wedding, 202; 
Francis betrayed by Due de Cl&ves, 203 ; Francis and Marot, 
14, 217, 219, 220; Francis and Reform (in the affair of the 
broken statue and of Berquin), 178 80; persecutions, 180183; 
affair of placards, 182; relations to Margaret (about Reform), 
188; to Calvin, 188; portrait in middle-age,, 30.910; quarrels 
with Madame d'Etampes, 310 ; relations to Catherine and Diane, 
310 13; persecution of Vaudois etc., 3H; Petite Bande, 314; 
new wars and Peace of Cr6py, 315 ; intercourse with Bexwenuto 
Cellini, 31720; at Fontainebleau, 321; Francis and Leocot, 
827; last years and cessation of wars, 353; death, ;I53 55; 
Francis and the Heptameron, 369 ; final summary of character 
and reign, 37577. 

Francois de Lorraine, 359. 

Francois (Bastien), 65, 66 

Francois (Martin), 66. 

Freundsberg, 158. 



Gaillard (Jeanne), 217, 231. 

Galen, 268, 269, 2<>8. 

Galileo, 277. 

Gaston Phlbun, 7, 100. 

Gaston de Foix^ 100, 10L 

Gi4 823, 90; procta de^ f)0 L 

Giustimani, 152, SOf}. 

CMethe, ^94, 

(}oujon (Jean), (>C) t ^880, ffltl 

Gotmmi, (Mdlle* de), 21. 



INDEX 887 

Graville (Anne de), 91. 

Grey (Lady Jane), 313, 367. 

Gryphius, 245. 

Guiffry, 312. 

Guillet (Pernette), 231, 232, 233, 234 

Guises, 314, 354, 359. 

H 

Harlay (Loys de), 179. 

Hcilly (Mdlle. de, Duchesse d'Etampes), 11314, 128, 156, I6"l, 

310, 314, 317, 318, 353, 37273. 
Henri de Navarre, 162, 165, 16667, 187, 31819, 357, 358, 

360, 36*, 36566. 
Henri II, (as Dauphin, 31113); as King, 324, 330, 357, 358, 

359, 36061. 
Henri IV, 194. 
Henry VII, 82, {)- 
Henry VIH, 31, ,% $), 110, 111, 125, 135, 137, 140, 156, 157, 

I5<), 176, 177, 5i08, 315, 353. 
H^roet, 10, 210. 
Hieronymus, 48. 

Ilohcnlohe (Sigismund), 128 -i2<) 
Homer, 44, 
Hutten (Von), 61. 



d'Albret, tf)4. 



James Stiutrt of Scotlnnd^ 3*1fi 

(Aiiittdis)i 344 
Ji'ftn Ill'fi. 

<f Allwi, **IS, JIH SMI, ri7, M8 t 38, 36f->; birth, 170; 
ftnci 1717.1; !{)1 ; gidhood 



388 



INDEX 



tastes, 198 ; plans for marriage with Due cle Cloves and 

protestations, 199202 ; marriage, 02 ; marriage annulled, 203 ; 

her life at Pan, %Q3 4; friendship for Marot, 216; second 

marriage, 359 6l. 
Jodelle (Etienne), 344. 
Jonson (Ben), 247. 
Juste, 245. 

K 

Kranach, 6l. 



La Borderie, 10. 
La Fontaine, 2L 
La Palisse, 144. 
La Tr^mouille, 144, 
La Valliere, SI 2, 
Lamy (Pierre), S64. 
Langes (Sieur de), 23 1. 
Lannoy, 145, 156. 
Lascaris, 48, IS L 
Lautree, 136, 138, 139, 156, 15fl. 
Lavaux, 15. 
Leclerc, 1212. 
Lef&bre, 44, 56, 1212. 
Lemaire, 79, 211, 215, 
Lemoine, 195, 
Leonardo da Vinci, 317. 
Lescot, 72, 323, 3278, 32,9, 351, 376, 
Limeuil, (Mdlle. de), 26. 
Limousin (L&mard), 7l, IfU. 
Longeuil (Chri8tophe) 9 84. 
Lorraine (Family), 21 6. 
Louis XI, 06, 139, 

Louis XII, 28, 2J), :*0, 37, 48, 66, 67, 70, 7% 7j) 8v% 83, 
90, 02, 93, 94, 95, &&* 122, l$9, 218, 84k 



INDEX 389 

Louis XIV, SSI, 

Louise de Savoie, S2, 101 ; 102, 106, 111, 114, 118, ISO, 127, 
ISgjj^ 143, 144, 145, 147; birth and marriage, 77; widow- 
hood and friendship with the Saint-Gelais, 789 ; superstition, 
81; quarrel with Gid, 823; education, 8488: entries from 
Journal, $5 ; court at Amboise, 86* ; relations with Anne de 
Bretagne, 89; plots for Francis' marriage, 89 -<)0; vengeance 
on Gi&, 90-4)1; her son's marriage, 02; their relations to 
each other, 923; plots defeated, .945; relations with 
Constable, 13540; Treaty of Cambrai, 160; death, 16162. 

Louise Lube, 21, 22, 21 7, 231; position as poet, 231 33; life 
and love-affairs, 23ft 3f); death, 39; her works, 24*042, 

Loyola, 267. 

Luther, 121, 126, 176, 178, 302, 36& 



M 



on (Le), 36{). 

Madeleine (de Frnnce), 314, 315. 

Magiiy (Olivier etc), &'K>'-- <K 

Margaret of Austria, ^f), :W 6V{ 7, 70, 7<J> ifio. 

Margaret of Bourbon, 77. 

Margaret of Ix>rmine, 1 75. 

Margaret of Savoy, 21, ^5*2, 2^3, 3-14, 

Margaret of Angoulfimc; 

Birth, IB; c*hildhoo<l and education, 87- -8; nmrrlagc k n proposed 
and arly love aBaiw, !l!) - 1C)*!; marriage with Alen^oii, 1013; 
relation l Fmncis, HK>, 17*1 4; relation to MyticK of Meaux> 
Ivfct- *JS4; /w/, to Brt^onnct, l*il; iWrf. to Lefttwe, l'J-l5; 
and i*avia f 1 1 27; cont3pondence with Hohenloiuv 
I*J" f|; iliM with Isi<) :H : Alent;on f s death f 13 1- *tti; 

tier tIe|rttiiT fiw S|miit, U;> fi; arrival and viit to captive 
brother,* I5c' 51 ; for bin relen%s 1514; journey 

homes t*S5; ftir with llcnry VI If, 1 56- -7; 

with it aid tic Navams 1(5 1 ; ciiiiry^ ilffn relations to 



890 I N B E X 

husband and early married days ; philanthropy ; dress, sentiments, 
1 66 70 ; birth of daughter, Jeanne and death of second child, 
170 i ; removal to Navarre, separation from daughter and 
Jeanne's illness, 171 73; Margaret and Montmoreney, 1746; 
her relations with Berquin and the Sorbonne, 1802; she urges 
the king to invite Melanethon, 1823; her relations with 
Calvin, l3 5, 188. Her heterodoxy at her Court in Navarre, 
and the consequences, 1857, 189; her Palaces in Navarre., 
and her life there, 183, 18992; personality and philanthropy 
in later days and financial position, 192 -5 ; education of Jeanne, 
197 g; matrimonial plans, 200; Jeanne's wedding, SOS; later 
relations between them, 204 ; Margaret and Marot, 215, 217 -1 H, 
219, 221 ; Margaret and Bona venture, 2232/5 ; Margaret and 
Dolet, 251 2, 257; Margaret and Rabelais, 260; conduct to 
Madame d'Etampes, 310 ; writing of "THeptam^ron ", 31 (i ; vMtn 
to the King's Chateaux, 31617; with Benvenuto Cellini, 818, 
319 ; death of the King and her grief for him, 353--6; religious 
poems, 353; solitude and poverty, ,1578; Lyons, 35H- {); 
daughter's second marriage, 35961 ; relations to Royal Family, 
36l ; her friends, interests and religious attitude in Inter dayx, 
3613; death, 3635; portrait with husband, #665 funeral 
epitaphs, 367- 8 ; influence on her niece* 368 ; position an 
author, 3689 ; * ( T Heptainiron '*, 369 70 ; poemi, 37<V - -4 \ final 
summary, 3747. 

Marat (Jean), 70, 112, 310, ail, 

Marot^ 4, 10, 56, 60. 210, 231, 336, 3*5, 356, 36*1, :>8; youth 
and education, Sill 12; life in Paris and service with FwnciH, 
; service with Margaret SI 5; attitude towards n fc f0nw, 
18, 319; vicissitude^ SI6, 217; at Lyon*, Fvnnm 
and Venice, 217 18; return to France uncl quarrel with Sngon, 
219; psalms, 21920; flight to Geneva mid Piedmont! return 
to court and death, 380; character of Ms work and inltitt, 
%%1~2$. 

Mattel (Adam), 19 L 

Martial, 35. 

Mary Tudor, 35, 94, 95. 



J N 1> K X 391 

Mary Queen of Scots,, 351, 

Maximilian, 41. 

Mazurier, 121. 

Melancthon, 183,, 254. 

Mirandola (Pico delta),, 41. 

Montaigne, 28,% 2j)7. A 

Montmorency, 85, 155, Hi I, 173, 1746, 202, 216, 357,360, 367. 

Montpensier (Constable cle Bourbon), 2J), 85, 135 -45, 349, 154,, 

15759, 175, 31& 
More, 3(>, 236, 'MB, 300, 301, 302. 
Mutian, 300. 

N 

Ncpveu (called le Trinquoau), 6*5. 
Nouny, S"k*5, ^6K 

f 

O 

Onne (Wiilibcrt cle I 1 ), 7 4 i, 1 7.% 3*43, 376; birth, education, life 
lit Route, appoint uwnUt; 3*^3- 4; qualiticn and diameter, 325; 

t-kiiis from Ills work, *)*35 U7 ; relations with Diane de 
M, *1*27 ; etn|recl with Loscot, *l^8 ; with Pletode, 389, 357* 
(Mme* do), 1(JL 



iViriiilk (Fan!), M,, W, ,Vi, IHfl. 
PHW'% -Wf. 
I'M IT, .'UK, 

l f iiiil III, i'j t *2t *47(>, 'J4- :K 
(Jian^ .*{) lff>--70, f)i f 
*J:li, 

fir) t 111, 



392 i N D E 

Petit, 55, 56, 121, 180. 

Peyrat (de), 36. 

Philibert de Savoie^ 66. 

Philiberte de Savoie, 12021. 

Philip (son of diaries V), 199. 

Ptefort, 178. 

Pilon (Germain), 330. 

Pinaigrier, 72. 

Plato, 44, 37, 247, 255. 

Polignac (Jeanne de), 77, 

Pomponazzi, 40. 

Pons (Mdllc. de), 218. 

Pastel, 41, 42, 56, 191, 321. 

Poyer, 49. 

Pr&s (Josquin des), 24. 

Prieur (Barthelmy), $SQ. 

Priraaticcio, 312, 317, 319- 



Eabelais, 39, 46, 50, 60, 67, 104, 21,6, 225, 245, 252, &W, tf!l, 
326; birth, 259; position as writer and artist, *#><) (&; home* 
and education, 262 -6*4; as monk, 26 i" 6a; leaves tttonnstory 
and visits friends, 26566; at the UnivctHitics, *Ml3 --67; fit 
Montpellier and Lyons, 6768 ; iicccnpanic k H clu Bctlny to 
Borne, 270; relations to G* du Bdky, ^7071; to J. d 
Bellay, 27475; experiences in Rome, si7V--7H; *'*QtmH 
d'heure", 27879; at Paris,, Montpellier, Ht Mimr, 
MetK, 27980; Cur* of Meudon, *280 tW; nsbithms wiili 
Ronsard and du Bella j, 281; Third Book, y?{); Fourth ami 
Fifth Books, 282; death, 28283; character am! nf IIIH 

book^ 284 86; humour, attitude to men mid Nfitur<v<Kfi -"JH ; 
to asceticism and the Church, 2<)l"-,W; Abbey of Tliileiii 
2f).'J 94; philosophy, $<H-~ )6; religicm, })? -?lcif> ; 
with Goethe, 2f) i> ; relation to modem eic^iicc* ? *IO;| in !toussc k nu 



INDEX 393 

aud the romantic school, 30*; to Kingsley, Browning and Sir 

T. Browne, $M, 876. 
Racine, $%5. 
Ren6e of Ferrara, 21, 37, 137, 211, 218, 223. 

Retz (Mine, de), 19. 
Ileuchlin, 41, 48, 6l, 121. 

Rippe (Albert de), 24. 
Kobbia (Girokmo delta), <>2. 
Robcrtet, a 1 6. 
Roche (Mme. de la), 1,69. 

Rochefoucauld (Mine, de la), 21. 

Romauino, 31 7, 

ll<mHird, (>0, 71, U:K), ^^7, 28 1, 32H, ii<), 367 68; meeting with 

du Eellay and aunn of Plei'ade, 33435 ; birth., education, life 
at Bloin and Para, ;w/>3<); C'oll^ge de Ckxjueret, 33940; 
comparison with du Be Hay, &\& -43 ; rise of Pletade and the 

eoiiHequeueeSj 34^45; poems, 34648; later days and progress 
of Movement, 357. 
Rosso (II), 317* 



Roussel, I'-H- 4 W, 125, 185, 186, 187, 188, 190* 

S 

Sadoleti, 40, 

Sagnu, iilj), 

Saint*(*elais (Jean), 78, K*2, <H, iii$5. 

Mai* (Ck*tiivirn) ? 1 8 -j| 



(Mtllln clr), *Jil 
i*Cl|l, tfia 
% 18*, IH{I, IfW, 



(Mtllk*. clt*), ^ci, 

^*:ii t tf3, 



394 i ;NT r> JE x 

Scaliger (Julius Caesar), 36, 56, 24*3. 
Sc6ve (Maurice), 21Q, 231, 23 5 , S37. 
Sc&ve (Claudine and Sybille), 231. 
Sees; (Bishop of), 173. 

Semblan^ay, 138 B9 y 162. 

Senechale de Poitou, l7, 31 6, 369- 



Sevigne (JMrme. de)^ 

Sevin (Jeanne de)^ 25. 

Seymours^ 367. 

Shakespeare., 47^ ^69., S 

Sidney (Sir P.)^ 34*45. 

Silly (Mrae. de)^ 198. 

Soliraan., 133., 315. 

Sorel (Agues), 68. 

Soubise (Mme. deX 211, 2 18. 

Stuart (Jacqizelm),, ^ 



Swift, 78. 



Xarbes (Bishop of), 156. 

Thenaud, 93. 

Xiraq[iieau, 264*. 

Titian, 317. 

Toume (Jean, de la), 4*5. 

Xoui-neville, 85. 

Xournon (Cardinal of), ^OO, 

Toussaint, 55, 56. 

Trent, (Cardinal of), 5275, 5277 

Triboulet, 25, 88, 32O. 

Tully, 

Turenne, 



IT 
Urfoino (JDuke of),, 5^ 157. 



i N n E x 895 

V 



Vatable, 41, 42, 55, 219. 
Vesale of Brussels, 46. 
Villeroi (M. de), 213, 
Villon, 207, 210, 222. 
Villovanus, 36, 247, 248. 
Virgil, 44, 336. 
Voltaire, 303. 



Wolsey, 141, 156, 360. 

Wordsworth, 334. 



Zwinglius, 120, 300. 



W 



Mnted by tto Motley JPre**, W, Mldm St., M.G. 





12431