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Full text of "Renaissance and Reformation, 1990"






New Series, Vol. XIV, No. 1 Nouvelle S��rie, Vol. XIV, No. 1

Old Series, Vol. XXVI, No. 1 Ancienne S��rie, Vol. XXVI, No. 1

��i Winter 1990 hiver

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Victoria University Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS). 1987.


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Winter 1990 (date of issue: July 1990)

Second class mail registration number 5448 ISSN 0034-429X

Arty Literature and History
in the Renaissance

L'Art, Literature et Histoire

Selected proceedings of the Colloque de

Pacific Northwest

Renaissance Conference

March 1989 Mars 1989

University of Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia


Colombie Britannique

Edited by

Patrick Grant

and A, S, G. Edwards

Actes reunis par
Patrick Grant
etAS.G. Edwards

Renaissance Renaissance

and et

Reformation R��forme

New Series, Vol. XIV, No. 1 Nouvelle S��rie, Vol. XIV, No. 1

Old Series, Vol. XXVI, No. 1 1990 Ancienne S��rie, Vol. XXVI, No. 1

Contents /sommaire





Hearing Ophelia: Gender and Tragic Discourse in Hamlet

by Sandra K. Fischer


Women and the Market in The Roaring Girl

by Jo E. Miller


The Body Natural of a Queen: Mary, James, Horestes

by Karen Robertson


Shakespeare's Last Humanist

by Alan Fisher


'Now Shall I See the Fall of Babylon:

The Spanish Tragedy as a Reformation Play of Daniel

by Frank R. Ardolino


The Influence of Theatre in Rosso's Deposition

by Marie Paulette Kaskinen


Historical Topography and British History in Camden's Britannia

by William Rockett



1 his issue of Renaissance and Reformation comprises selected papers from
the Pacific Northwest Renaissance Conference held at the University of
Victoria 16-18 March, 1989. The range of subjects addressed reflects the
many-sidedness of contemporary Renaissance scholarship, and also the
diversity of the conference, at which over thirty papers were delivered.

Several essays deal with the implications of gender. Sandra Fischer
explores the discourse of "passive Ophelia," whose tragedy is reflected in a
distinctively female utterance that exposes the inadequacy of Hamlet's
masculine rhetoric. Jo Miller is concerned with Middleton and Dekker's
Roaring Girl, and argues that the androgyny of Moll Cutpurse is a vehicle
for protest against various contemporary views of woman as commodity.
Karen Robertson explores the abdication crisis of Mary, Queen of Scots,
and uses Pikeryng's play Horestes to provide a gloss on Mary's history.
Horestes deals with the conflicting claims of motherhood and politics, and
the hero's predicament parallels that of Mary's son James.

Other papers deal with further aspects of the drama. Alan Fisher links
Shakespeare's Polonius to traditions of humanist education that stress the
art of memory in the deployment of maxims. In this context Polonius is a
more complex and significant figure than is acknowledged by standard
interpretations. Frank Ardolino uses Reformation commentaries on the
Book of Daniel to interpret Kyd's Spanish Tragedy as a historical allegory
reflecting the triumph of Protestant England over Catholic Spain. Marie
Kaskinen argues for the influence of cinquecento theatrical concepts on
Rosso Fiorentino's Deposition.

Finally, William Rockett offers a reassessment of Camden's Britannia. He
sees it in the context of late sixteenth-century English nationalism, and suggests
that antiquarian study was one means of defining national identity.

In preparing this selection of papers for publication we gratefully
acknowledge the assistance of the Department of English, University of
Victoria and the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council of Canada.

University of Victoria

Hearing Ophelia: Gender and Tragic
Discourse in Hamlet


In a play filled with alien presences from the outset - a ghost from
purgatory, a usurper king, an oedipal mother, a Norwegian political rival,
treacherous friends, and the protean Hamletian essence of "man" - it is
nonetheless Ophelia, passive Ophelia, who constitutes the "other" in
Hamlet. Even though contemporary feminist criticism is pluralistic and
often contradictory, about Ophelia and her sisters there is consensus:
Catherine Belsey notes that "woman" is defined only vis-��-vis "man";^
Linda Bamber describes the "feminine as a principle of Otherness . . .
unlike and external to the Self, who is male";^ Annie Leclerc protests that
"Woman is valuable in so far as she permits man to fulfill his being as
man";^ and John Holloway assesses the function of Ophelia as reinforcing
the centrality of Hamlet."* Her critical history, much like her treatment in
the play, has been from the beginning a paradoxical one of possession
and objectification: for Voltaire she is "Hamlet's mistress" and for Samuel
Johnson "the young, the beautiful, the harmless, and the pious. "^ Despite
Ophelia's own sketch of the Prince in Ill.i as courtier, soldier, scholar,^
we would be shocked to find Hamlet described by critics in terms parallel
to those shadowy abstractions often applied to Ophelia - as "the mature,
the handsome, the powerless, and the well-intentioned," for example -
primarily because Shakespeare allows the language of Hamlet to partic-
ularize and individuate him indelibly. The world of Hamlet is to a great
extent the self of Hamlet, and the self of Hamlet is to a great extent the
language of Hamlet.

Critics have often adopted Hamlef s own line of reasoning in generalizing
about the nature and behavior of the "frail" gender and explained Ophelia
only by linking her to Gertrude. Ophelia is actually a muted structural pivot,
a Braille rendition of the hero's own progress. For Jacques Lacan, Ophelia
is essential only because "she is linked forever, for centuries, to the figure

Renaisance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 1 (1990) 1

2 / Renaissance and Reformation

of Hamlet' V for Elaine Showalter "Ophelia's story . . . [is] the repressed story
of Hamlet"^ Both are given edicts by their fathers that rankle and invite
suspicion; both fail to understand fully how they are being worked upon
by court forces; both go mad, one for antic purposes, the other for real;
both become isolated and feel betrayed, confused; both lose a father via
strange and inbred circumstances, with devastating results. As Cherrell
Guilfoyle remarks, Ophelia "opposes truth to Hamlet's feigning and
feinting; ... he meditates on death, she dies."^ Looking at Ophelia, then,
offers a feminine counterpoint to Hamlet's tragedy at least; at most, it
manifests a devastating commentary on the non-particularity of his tragic
circumstances. Despite such structural centrality, Ophelia remains shad-
owy, even when one becomes, in Judith Fetteriey's term, a "resisting

The most basic steps toward a feminist approach to this play follow those
outlined by Carol Neely as compensatory and justificatory:^^ (1) to notice
that much of what transpires in the world of Hamlet is based on a
stereotyped judgment of women as others, and (2) to read female characters
in as real and serious a fashion as the males - as grappling with their
identities, needing outlets for their conflicts, and trying to articulate their
truths of "man" when denied full voice, the voice of soliloquy especially,
but also the voice of communication. As Tom Stoppard has wittily revealed,
the play of Hamlet can be reduced to the paradigm of Hamlet - talking -
to himself'^ Articulation, communication, and self-presentation are funda-
mental to the world of Renaissance drama, yet Hamlet's deafening vocal
posturing desensitizes us to quieter and less powerful voices: the sound and
sense of Ophelia's speech dim in comparison, like the Cheshire cat, leaving
only the trace of an impression. Typically, she echoes a statement put to
her by rephrasing it into a question (but without lago's manipulative
subtext); she expresses acquiescence, uncertainty, and obeisance; she utters
half-lines; she mirrors her male interlocutors by naming their qualities
("You are as good as a chorus, my lord"); and she degenerates finally to
the mad speeches of Act IV, "things in doubt / That carry but half sense.
Her speech is nothing ..." (v.6-7).

Luce Irigaray has catalogued the different terms by which feminine
subjectivity can be expressed, and these describe the modes of Ophelia's
speech especially in her final scenes: "double or multiple voices, broken
syntax, repetitive or cumulative rather than linear structure, open end-
ings."^-' In Lacanian terms, Ophelia is denied the "fiction of selfhood built

into the first-person singular and the rules of syntax In a psycholinguis-

tic world structured by father-son resemblance and rivalry and by the

Renaissance et R��forme / 3

primacy of masculine logic, woman is a gap or a silence, the invisible and
unheard sex."^^ The most productive next step for a feminist reading of
Ophelia would seem to be a recognition of textual politics. One must listen
for the repression of Ophelia's voice as juxtaposed against Hamlet's noisy
soul-wrenching soliloquies. Hearing Ophelia requires a new set of critical
ears. As Sherry Branch has noted, "the unsaid in a literary text is established
. . . through a hermeneutic reading of a censored style ... [to find] the clearly
stated unsaid."^^

Even those who have listened for silences in Hamlet have missed its most
profound effects. Zvi Jagendorf, for instance, notices that "copiousness of
speech [Hamlet's and Polonius's] in the play suggests that it is tied in a
vital dialectical relationship to the negation of speech in dumbness and
silence"^^ and finds two primary forms of silence: art and death. To apply
such a paradigm is simply to fix Hamlet's centrality more strongly: he is
allowed communication by both speaking and keeping still (for example,
in puns and innuendo, in The Mousetrap and elsewhere). Indeed, the silences
in Hamlet "provoke and test speech. They challenge words to do justice to
them," ^^ but the silences of the hero are alternative modes of choice.
Ophelia's utterances are never allowed free, natural flow; her truncated
responses, her uncertain assertions, her conflicting loyalties irrevocably tied
to a self-image that tries to accommodate her closest males' expectations -
all are determined by external pressures. Hearing Ophelia, one senses
continual psycholinguistic frustration: she knows not what to think, nor
how to allow language either a cognitive or a therapeutic function. The
silences of the hero's female counterpart add a telling layer of commentary
to the dialectic of speakable/unspeakable determined by the textual politics
of Renaissance society. "What is unsaid, or what can not be said continues
to influence us as we hear what is said,"^^ yet the gender-linked stifling of
voice is a different matter altogether. According to Adrienne Rich, "listening
and watching in art . . . for the silences, the absences, the unspoken, the
encoded [are essential] - for there we will find the true knowledge of

Until the production of The Mousetrap, the presentation of Hamlet and
Ophelia, and the discourses allowed them to formulate and articulate a self,
alternate with structural regularity and invite contrast. Presumably Ophelia
is present in the first court scene (Q2 includes her in the s.d.), yet there she
is completely silent, most probably as a result of the politics of decorum.
Hamlet, however, is able initially to diffuse the propriety of public spectacle
with his private concerns by articulating the complexity of his self as a thing
that cannot be denoted truly. In both direct and veiled linguistic fashion

4 / Renaissance and Reformation

he is given polyvalent modes of self-expression, yet he feels profoundly his
otherness and a thwarted sense of candor - a prohibition against speaking
what he believes he knows. Indeed, his first soliloquy ends with the moving
but self-mdulgent, "But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue"
(I.ii.l59). From there Hamlet moves into intimate and satisfying dialogue
with Horatio, whom he admires for his intellect and steadiness as well as
for his ability to validate Hamlet's self-image, manifest in his aloof
intellectuality, moral superiority, and "prophetic soul."

Ophelia's debut is with Laertes, who bids her farewell by solidifying her
role as object and by squelching any effort on her part for mutual
perspective and adult interchange. Polonius and Laertes, father and son,
both treat her like a child who lacks self-knowledge and apprehension about
the ways of the world. As Polonius speaks his truisms to Laertes, so Laertes
gives his platitudinous wisdom to Ophelia, establishing a chain of cultural
dissemination and control. Remarkably missing in this scene is an outside
audience or any sense of commentary on the action. In contradistinction,
Hamlet's entrance reveals "the privileges of the Self... attributed to the
masculine hero. The hero is to begin with concerned with himself; the first
privilege of the Self is to have an extra Self who comments on or is simply
aware of the original one. The tragic hero explains and justifies himself, he
finds fault with himself, he insists on himself, he struggles to be true to
himself "^^ In Ophelia's discourse, these functions are completely external-
ized: she finds herself explained, faulted, and struggled over by rival
authorities outside herself

Ophelia's language is an index to her enforced silence and circumscribed
self With Laertes, her familiar, she is allowed mostly half-lines and
questions that are codes of acquiescence without the gesture of assent. They
actually invite further commands: "Do you doubt that? . . . No more but so?"
(I.iii.4, 9). Her allowed discourse with Polonius is even more frightening.
First, in the course of thirteen lines she breaks her promise of secrecy to
Laertes by relating to her father the gist of their conversation. Moreover,
her speeches here are marked by phrases of self-effacing obeisance: "So

please you my lord I do not know, my lord, what I should think. . . .

I shall obey, my lord" (89-135 passim).

In his intervening scene, I.iv, Hamlet again is afforded the medium of
intimate and leisurely dialogue that establishes and cements his sense of
self Here is the camaraderie of the watch and the comforting mirror of
Horatio; here as well is discourse with the ghost, which is remarkably
similar to soliloquy. Ophelia's link with Hamlet's mission from the ghost
is to be the recipient of his first attempt at an antic disposition. The prologue

Renaissance et R��forme / 5

to her description of his madness is in her usual tentative form - "O my

lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted My lord, I do not know, / But

truly I do fear it" (II.i.75, 85-86). As she describes to Polonius what she has
witnessed, she depicts herself throughout as the passive object of Hamlet's
actions: he holds her wrist; stares at her face; shakes her arm; nods, sighs;
leaves while staring at her still. To obedience, acquiescence, and obeisance
is now added negative objectification. The cause of this treatment has not
been Ophelia's self, but rather her absence: "No, my good lord, but as you
did command, / I did repel his letters and denied / His access to me"
(II.i.108-10). Ophelia's closet scene is remarkable for acting as a discursive
pivot. Here the characters embarked on parallel tragic courses are alone
together, yet the chance for dialogue is missed, and each begins a path
toward a stunning isolation. Ophelia loses all interlocutors as Polonius
objectifies her further, "loosing" her (in the sense of unlocking or offering
for mating) to probe the depths of Hamlet's self Hamlet, meanwhile,
complains of his isolation, yet he is constantly allowed confrontations that
permit him to shape his changing sense of identity: with Polonius, with
Rosencrantz and Guildenstem, and with the Players. As Belsey notes, "since
meaning is plural, to be able to speak is to be able to take part in the contest
for meaning which issues in the production of new subject-positions, new
determinations of what it is possible to be."^^ These exchanges result in
Hamlet's second soliloquy, beginning "Now I am alone" (II.ii.543). Yet it is
Ophelia whose linguistic isolation is the most profound, and she is offered
no means to vent her confusion. Her confrontation with Hamlet in Ill.i,
with Polonius and Claudius as silent observers, is a mistimed parody of
what might have ensued in the closet scene. Both are aware of their
audience. Ophelia tries her usual speech forms, half-lines and questions,
in addition to cautious and polite assertions of a changed reality, but Hamlet
refuses to communicate, judging her the bait in the trap of his selfhood.

According to Bamber, soliloquies and "umbrella speeches" are the means
by which drama reveals and expresses the inner life: "No such umbrella
speeches shelter the consciousness of the women characters in the tragedies.

Nor do they soliloquize What is missing is the sense of an identity

discovering itself, judging and shaping itself "^^ The closest Ophelia comes
to soliloquy is her comment after the nunnery scene on the changed nature
of Hamlet's mind, as manifested in his language. Two ironies subtract from
the effect of this opportunity: that Claudius and Polonius are still observing
her, and that she bemoans a false loss, voicing an opinion based on
Hamlet's feigned madness. Her lone "soliloquy" in effect becomes an
umbrella speech about Hamlet:

6 / Renaissance and Reformation

O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown! . . .

And I, of ladies most deject and wretched.

That suck'd the honey of his music vows.

Now see that noble and most sovereign reason . . .

Blasted with ecstasy. O woe is me

Thave seen what I have seen, see what I see. (Ill.i. 152-63)

Marianne Novy finds in these lines an "audience-like passivity" and a
tone "of sympathy for Hamlet . . . [rather] than of concern for herself "^^
Rhetorically, her speech follows the pattern of Hamlet's early soliloquies,
beginning with an impassioned exclamation, cataloguing a changed reality
through observation, and ending with a feeling of powerless holding back
("But break, my heart"; "O woe is me"). Hamlef s soliloquies, however,
perhaps because there are so many of them, allow him hermeneutic progress
(however self-deluded it might be). One wonders if Ophelia would ask the
same questions and reach the same conclusions given the opportunity for
private and public articulation of self Annie Leclerc, in speaking generically
about the male hero, implies not: "Listen fo him for once with a sound ear.
He says that life is absurd. Life absurd! And all because his reason cannot
manage to account for it. And he submits life to examination and to the

judgement of his imbecile reason Hence the question: 'Is life worth

living or not worth living?' is not the most basic of human questions; it is

the most profoundly stupid expression "^"^ Ophelia is continually

thwarted both in expression of self and in consequent establishing of

Her verbal parrying with Hamlet before The Mousetrap shows not a little
intellect, yet there remains a persistent undertone of unanswered questions
and other-directed observations. When examined in a vacuum, Ophelia's
lines are stunningly empty and rhetorically reflective: "I think nothing, my
lord — What is, my lord? . . . YoU are merry, my lord — What means this,
my lord? . . . Will a tell us what this show meant? . . . You are naught, you
are naught — You are as good as a chorus, my lord — You are keen, my
lord, you are keen" (IILii. 116-243 passim).

Immediately following Hamlet's crucial "How all occasions do inform
against me" soliloquy is Ophelia's parallel scene. Not having been able to
reconcile her losses philosophically, she now becomes a text to be
deciphered in new ways: she yields her words with unseemly "winks and
nods and gestures" that mystify her audience. All of Act IV presents an
Ophelia who desperately wants to be heard, yet who has not been able to
locate or to forge a communicable mode. Her hearers (the court and the
audience) are moved, motivated to interpret, and sure of her unhappiness.

Renaissance et R��forme / 7

yet all they find in her speech is "in doubt . . . half sense . . . nothing . . .
unshaped . . . there might be thought, / Though nothing sure" (IV.v.4-13

Ophelia's madness is all the more disconcerting and pathetic in its
juxtaposition to Hamlet's macabre, playful madness in the early scenes of
Act rv. He objectifies the murder of Polonius as a lesson in mortality to be
applied to everyone (in addition to the center, himself); Ophelia profoundly
particularizes both the loss of her father in death and the sexual abuse
implied in Polonius' and Laertes' warnings as well as in Hamlet's treatment
of her in the nunnery and play scenes. It is not surprising that her refrain
in her madness is "Pray you mark." She is listened to but still not heard.
Her sole rhetorical remedy is elliptical, a hermeneutics based on silence,
absence, and ambiguity: "let's have no words of this, but when they ask you
what it means, say you this'' (IV.v.46-47; emphases mine). Then she lapses
into her final rhetorical mode, the ballad.

Critical opinion about the function of Ophelia's mad rhetoric differs
widely. Placing Ophelia in a dramatic context of madwomen and their talk,
the Chameys find that "Madness enables her to assert her being: she is no
longer enforced to keep silent" and that through madness she can "suddenly
make a forceful assertion of... being. The lyric form and broken syntax
and unbridled imagination all show ways of breaking through unbearable
social restraints."^^ Certainly Ophelia's mad speeches rivet the attention,
but they seem to point to a loss rather than an assertion of self: a theme of
the songs is the inability to choose among a socially-circumscribed series
of insufficient options. The voice of madness is indeed louder than her
earlier rhetoric, yet it fails to break through or change the constraints. It
manages to articulate them only indirectly, and her meaning remains
unheard. R. S. White makes her allusiveness more mystical than insane:
"By a kind of sympathetic magic, the conditions which face Ophelia find
their way into her songs, in oblique and confused fashion."^^ David
Leverenz, in applying gender theory to both Hamlet and Ophelia and their
language, offers a perceptive summary of the pastiche of meanings embed-
ded in Ophelia's final appearance:

. . . contemporary work with schizophrenics reveals the tragic variety of
people whose voices are only amalgams of other people's voices, with
caustic self-observation or a still more terrifying vacuum as their
incessant inward reality. This is Hamlet to a degree, as it is Ophelia
completely — fr]here are many voices in Ophelia's madness speaking
through her, all making sense, and none of them her own. She becomes
the mirror for a madness-inducing world Through her impossible

8 / Renaissance and Reformation

attempt to obey contradictory voices, Ophelia mirrors in her madness
the tensions that Hamlet perceives — Her history is another instance of
how someone can be driven mad by having her inner feelings misrep-
resented, not responded to, or acknowledged only through chastisement
and repression.^^

The ambiguity of the voices in Ophelia's songs and mad commentary is
complex and fascinating. Nearly every reference has multiple signification,
as if she attempts to squeeze and condense all the censored feelings and
observations of the play into a compact logic of expression - hence, her
admonitions to "mark," that is, to hear and understand. For example, "He
is dead and gone" is actually the center of the play, referring to Hamlet,
Sr., Polonius, and, if Claudius's order were carried out, to Hamlet himself.
As Hamlet must try to connect past, present, and future, so Ophelia becomes
a repository of memory, of events unconnected but through destiny linked
in fatal concatenation.

The description of the death of Ophelia at the end of Act IV underscores
her isolation, and it is telling that Gertrude is given the lines, as perhaps
the one who can most nearly empathize with the conflicts of authority that
compose her character. Hamlet is sorry for her death but still engaged in
a battle of proprietary authority emanating from self: "/ loved Ophelia.
Forty thousand brothers / Could not with all their quantity of love / Make
up my sum" (V.i.264-66; emphases mine). Her madness and death offer a
true counterpoint of physical and rhetorical alienation that Hamlet, in his
parallel progress, has overcome. Although some romanticize a Hamlet
ready to fulfill his destiny in Act V as in a "distinguished isolation" similar
to the lonely star, the moon,^^ he is actually far more integrated in self,
society, and language here than ever before. His sea journey has rebaptized
him, while Ophelia's watery element has ensured her solitary destruction.

Contrast the private drowning of Ophelia, singing snatches of her lays to
the deaf ears of nature, with the public end of Hamlet, who is allowed to
give breath to his "dying voice," to speak again even though "I am dead,
Horatio." The horrible implicit paradox lies in the voice of Ophelia that
was never heard, and the resounding voice of Hamlet, which outlives even
the body that housed it. As Peter Erickson remarks about Act V and the

death of Hamlet, "Hamlet is freed from his verbal isolation Having in

Horatio a personal audience he can count on to carry on his linguistic
future . . . allows Hamlet to feel that language is no longer automatically
inadequate."^^ Hamlet has also been significantly freed from soliloquy in
Act V. Through its medium he has, as Bclsey notes, made "audible the

Renaissance et R��forme / 9

personal voice,"-'^ which now develops into oracular public proclamation.
The public and the private selves have merged and become rhetorically
integrated. Ophelia's linguistic sequence, in contrast, describes a line of
progressive interiorization. The self that cannot be asserted, the words that
cannot be uttered, turn inward in a gesture of self-annihilating hopelessness:

"Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be I hope all

will be well. We must be patient. But I cannot choose but weep..."
(IV.v.43-44, 68-69). Turning from one authority to another ("My brother
shall know of it"), ironically damning the conflicting claims to authority
that dominated her ("And so I thank you for your good counsel"), Ophelia
fittingly leaves with a blessing for the others who might at last hear her in
her madness: "Good night, ladies, good night. Sweet ladies, good night,
good night" (73-74). The tragedy of Ophelia develops its own, specifically
female, mode of discourse, which is remarkable in the extent to which the
loudness of Hamlet's vocal posturing overwhelms even the thwarted tongue
she eventually finds. Hearing Ophelia, however, greatly enriches one's
appreciation of the structural aesthetic of the play. The textual politics of
Ophelia's rhetoric offer a feminine counterpoint to Hamlet's tragedy as well
as a devastating commentary on it.

State University of New York, Albany


I would like to thank the Center for the Humanities at Oregon State University for its
provision of resources to assist in the completion of this article.

1 Catherine Belsey, The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama
(London: Methuen, 1985), p. ix.

2 Linda Bamber, Comic Women, Tragic Men: A Study of Gender and Genre in Shakespeare
(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1982), p. 4.

3 Annie Leclerc, "From Parole de Femme,'' in New French Feminisms, ed. Elaine Marks and
Isabelle de Courtivron (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1980), p. 79.

4 In Shakespeare: Hamlet, A Casebook, ed. John Jump (London: Macmillan, 1968), p. 159.

5 In Jump, pp. 23, 24, 43.

6 All subsequent parenthetical line numbers to Hamlet refer to the Arden Edition, ed.
Harold Jenkins (London: Methuen, 1982).

7 Quoted in Elaine Showalter, "Representing Ophelia: Woman, Madness, and the Respon-
sibilities of Feminist Criticism," in Shakespeare and the Question of Theory, ed. Patricia
Parker and Geoffrey Hartman (London: Methuen, 1985), p. 77.

8 Showalter, p. 79.

9 " 'Ower Swete Sokor': The Role of Ophelia in Hamlet," Comparative Drama, 14 (1980): 5.

10 Judith Fetterley, 77»^ Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction (Blooming-
ton: Indiana University Press, 1978).

10 / Renaissance and Reformation

11 Carol Thomas Neely, "Feminist Modes of Shakespearean Criticism: Compensatory,
Justificatory, Transformational," Women's Studies, 9 (1981): 6-8.

12 In Rosencrantz & Guildenstem Are Dead (New York: Grove, 1967), p. 94.

13 In Ann Rosalind Jones, "Inscribing Femininity: French Theories of the Feminine," in
Making a Difference: Feminist Literary Criticism, ed. Gayle Greene and Copp��lia Kahn
(London: Methuen, 1980), p. 88.

14 In Jones, p. 83.

15 "Reading Through the Veiled Text: Colette's 77»^ Pure and the Impure^ Contemporary
Literature, 24 (\9S3): 177.

16 Zvi Jagendorf, " 'Fingers on your lips, I pray': On Silence in Hamlet,"' English, 27 (1978):

17 Jagendorf, p. 122.

18 Jagendorf, p. 123.

19 On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose J 966- J 978 (New York: Norton, 1979), p. 245.

20 Bamber, p. 6.

21 Belsey, p. 6.

22 Bamber, pp. 7-8.

23 Love's Argument: Gender Relations in Shakespeare (Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1984), p. 84.

24 Leclerc, p. 85.

25 Maurice Charney and Hanna Charney, "The Language of Madwomen in Shakespeare
and His Fellow Dramatists," Signs, 3 (1977): 456, 459.

26 "The Tragedy of Ophelia," /4nW, 9, 2 (1978): 49.

27 David Leverenz, "The Woman in Hamlet: An Interpersonal View," in Representing
Shakespeare: New Psychoanalytic Essays, ed. Murray M. Schwartz and Copp��lia Kahn
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980), pp. 112, 117.

28 John Holloway in Jump, p. 161.

29 Patriarchal Structures in Shakespeare's Drama (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1985), p. 70.

30 Belsey, p. 42.

Women and the Market in
The Roaring Girl


When T. S. Eliot remarked, in 1927, that Moll Cutpurse was "the sort
of woman who has renounced all happiness for herself and who lives
only for a principle," his words could probably still have been understood
as praise. In calling her a figure of "free and noble womanhood,"^ Eliot
in effect is making Moll an example for all women, encouraging them to
pursue the martyr's course of renunciation in exchange for a distinctly
feminine brand of freedom - a negation of their own desires which would
leave women free to fulfill the needs and wishes of others. Today this
description of Middleton and Dekker's Roaring Girl not only seems
untrue to our experience of the play, but it also sounds like anything but
praise. Indeed, more recent critics admire Moll Cutpurse for not being a
figure of renunciation, for serving as an example of a woman who refuses
to renounce her own desires and chooses instead to exert her presence,
her own subjectivity, in a world that too often threatens to make objects
of women. Paul MulhoUand, in his introduction to the play, objects to
some of these modem interpretations of The Roaring Girl, because, he
says, they detract from the artistry and the impact of the play as a whole
by reading it in too focused and too modem a light, often distorting Moll's
"feminism" to accord with their own.^ More specifically, he worries that
modem critics forget her Jacobean context and make Moll a spokes-
woman for twentieth-century feminism by ignoring or eliding her more
traditional sentiments, as when she says, in excising herself from Sebas-
tian's proposal, "a wife, you know, ought to be obedient, but I fear me I
am too headstrong to obey" (II.ii.37), or again, in rejecting Laxton's
advances, "Base is that mind that kneels unto her body / As if a husband
stood in awe on's wife" (Ill.i. 137-38).-'

Based on Eliot's overenthusiastic reaction to what he considers womanly
nobility, MulhoUand's caution about our own enthusiasm for Moll's

Renaisance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 1 (1990) 11

12 / Renaissance and Reformation

example of womanhood is well taken. After all, insofar as she is set apart
from her society in ways that we might admire, Moll is also isolated, a figure
excluded from the comic revival at the play's end. As the two quotes
MulhoUand points to suggest, one of the most troubling things about this
play is that Moll does not at first glance seem overtly to reject her society's
vision of marriage as a male-dominated hierarchy, but rather opts out of it
only for herself. Indeed, far from denigrating her society's patriarchal
conventions, Moll willingly lends her hand to forward the marriage plot
between Sebastian and Mary, while at the same time she openly acknowl-
edges her kinship with Mary when she agrees to help them, saying, "I pitied
her for name's sake, that a Moll / Should be so crossed in love. . . / My tailor
fitted her: how like you his work?" (TV.i.66-69). In some sense, then, Moll
can be seen as an instrument that the play uses to undermine exactly the
subversive qualities she seems to embody. But I want to argue that even
without being aware of it, Moll might also manage to disrupt even the play's
containment of her. By making us self-conscious about our own participa-
tion in the play's economy of exploitation, Moll Cutpurse invites us to
reevaluate our responses to her and to understand better the freedom and
nobility of the tomboy figure on the Renaissance stage who ignores and
disrupts her society's rigid constraint of women's subjectivity.

Perhaps the most obvious place to begin grappling with Moll's position
in her society's patriarchal structure is the highly charged moment at the
exact center of The Roaring Girl, in which she offers up what Linda
Woodbridge has called one of Renaissance drama's most clear-sighted
comments on the economic pressures exerted upon the women of early
modem England.'* If Moll does manage to offer any effective alternative or
resistance to her culture's exploitation of women, it will not be in her
outright rejection of heterosexual marriage, since she does help to bring
about that traditional comic ending, and she does seem, if not comfortable,
at least reconciled to the notion that a wife should be obedient to her
husband. Instead, Moll's most subversive sentiments are precisely those
which Woodbridge locates at the moment in Act III where Moll, dressed
as a man, physically assaults the gallant who thinks he can seduce her, and,
in a roaring speech, defies all men who prey upon women as easily and as
casually as they angle for fish. In Laxton's advances toward Moll, we see
the assumption that women who participate in public conversation, who
choose to "jest" and "be merry," are necessarily promiscuous, easy prey.
And Moll's attack on him here in Act III, in effect denies her culture's
obsessive equation between women's speech and their bodies, between free

Renaissance et R��forme / 13

speaking and loose sexuality. Speaking as if on behalf of all women's access
to the public realm, then, Moll rails against Laxton, proclaiming:

In thee I defy all men, their worst hates
And their best flatteries, all their golden witchcrafts
With which they entangle the poor spirits of fools:
Distressed needle-women and tradefallen wives -
Fish that must needs bite, or themselves be bitten -
Such hungry things as these may soon be took
With a worm fastened on a golden hook:
Those are the lecher's food, his prey. He watches
For quarrelling wedlocks and poor shifting sisters:
Tis the best fish he takes. (III.i.92-101)

As Woodbridge rightly points out, Moll's comments suggest an awareness,
unusual in her time, that prostitution is more often the result of hunger,
poverty, or need, than of greed or lustfulness in women. Several of Moll's
words in these lines - "golden," "poor," "distressed," "tradefallen," "hungry"
- point to the economic concerns that will continue to inform her crusade
throughout the play. And her mention of "needle-women" and "tradefallen
wives" includes the citizens' wives who "man" their shops on the London
street and are the main prey for the gallants in the play. There is something
almost desperately aggressive in Moll's loud assertions here that these "fish"
must bite first to avoid being eaten by those who can afford to dangle a
"golden hook." Because she sees the inevitable teeth behind the material
promises society holds out to women, Moll herself has no trouble resisting
the gold and silver hooks that Sir Alexander and Trapdoor hang for her in
Act IV. In fact, Moll's recognition of the economic deprivation of women,
their total financial subjugation under the laws of patriarchy is what makes
her such a dangerous character in her world. Furthermore, Moll's inspired
tirade against Laxton apparently involves more than just the issue of simple
prostitution, although clearly, since he has "hired" her for this meeting with
gold coins, the context includes the buying and selling of women for illicit

A larger context for her words is implied by the play as a whole, in which
the size of a woman's dowry is the force that drives the main plot, and the
shopkeeper's wife luring male customers in by calling to them from the
street is a major image of the sub-plot While the citizens' wives strive to
attract the attention of male gallants passing by their shops, continually
hoping to sell them a sexual product as well as retail merchandise, Moll
refuses commodification, very simply, by making herself "worthless" as a

14 / Renaissance and Reformation

feminine object - she makes herself look like a man. Moll's clothes seem,
at least in part, a defense against sexual attention, her way of diverting
masculine advances away from herself But because cross-dressing actually
gets figured as a stimulus to sexuality in the play, Moll's refusal to
participate in the marketplace of sexual exchange must be more precisely
located in her canting tongue, in the flexibility of her speech. Her willing-
ness and ability to speak without constraint, to join in many different types
of discourse (from speaking with nobles to canting with cutpurses), make
Moll not only the most delightful character in the play, but obviously the
most subversive and treacherous figure confronting the men in her world,
who are very conscious of the class and gender boundaries which Moll
continually violates.

On still another level, the play itself is a consumable product which offers
an audience a roaring girl for its pleasure; the Prologue makes this explicit
when it declares: "I see Attention sets wide ope her gates / Of hearing, and
with covetous listening waits, / To know what girl this roaring girl should
be" (13-15). Even the bawdy double-entendres in this language reveal the
Prologue as a kind of "come-on," like Laxton's, that invites lustful desires
and mixes them with economic motives. Just as Moll Cutpurse must be
"roaring girl" enough to attract an audience to her play, Mary Fitzallard in
the main plot, whose dowry is at first too small, must become valuable
enough to deserve Sebastian for her husband, and the Citizens' wives in
the subplot must be alluring enough to attract male customers into their
shops to buy things. In these economic configurations of gender relations,
arousing a male consumer's desire for a (presumably female) product seems
both figuratively and literally the goal of the text. And with these parallel
situations, the play reveals a broader definition of "prostitution" at work in
the world it creates, a definition that reveals the exchange of women as
commodities operating at all levels of social "intercourse," including the
level at which wc as an audience come to the play with certain expectations
and desires.

Of course, an odd twist is added when we think of Moll being represented
on the stage by a boy actor dressed as a woman who dresses like a man,
yet is still very obviously a woman (nobody in the play fails to recognize
Moll's gender). While nobody would disagree that the play does grant Moll
a certain amount of subjectivity, it seems important to ask, as Stephen
Greenblatt does of Viola in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, whether that
subjectivity has to be "passed through" the masculine in order to come into
being.^ In a recent essay about boys taking the role of women on the English
stage, Stephen Orgel goes beyond the traditional reason for the exclusion

Renaissance et R��forme / 15

of women actors, which is that acting would encourage promiscuity, and
suggests: "Behind the outrage of public ^nodesty is a real fear of women's
sexuality, and more specifically its power to evoke men's sexuality."^ Orgel
sees in the anxiety over men's sexuality the belief that arousal makes a man
effeminate, that in excitement a man loses his rational control becoming,
in effect, no better than a woman, a slave to passion and a creature
dependent on another for completion. If Orgel is even partially right, then
the spectacle of the transvestite heroine played by a boy may just be
disruptive enough, as a dramatic experience, to allow us to claim for Moll
a powerful disruption of the social order that transcends or at least justifies
her concession to masculine clothes. What Moll does, after all, by dressing
like a man, is attract the male gaze; Laxton tells her, just after she has
collared and beaten an unfortunate man in the Openworks' shop,
"Gallantly performed, i'faith, Moll, and manfully! I love thee forever for't"
(II.i.261-62). By being "manful," Moll makes men dependent on her, and
thus makes herself independent of them, in a sense transcending the live
boy who plays her as well as the masculine demeanor she adopts.

In an essay in The Poetics of Gender, Ann Rosalind Jones tells us that the
ideal Renaissance wife or daughter "vanishes under the name and authority
of her father and her husband; as daughter and wife, she is enclosed in the
private household. She is silent and invisible: she does not speak and she
is not spoken about "^ As Moll humiliates Laxton and "dcf[ies] all men,"
she seems to be also denouncing this social injunction that women stay
silent and indoors, locked inside a private realm, venturing forth only at
great risk into the public eye, and only to offer themselves as a sexual
commodity on the market of exchange between male consumers. Jones'
description of the ideal woman underscores the assumption, part of the
contemporary public/private dichotomy, that even a woman whose name
or character became well-known could be considered sullied just as if she
herself were to engage in public discourse. But Moll, unwilling to become
an object of exchange, makes herself both a subject in and of the public
discourse that names her. If this is Moll's way of defying the patriarchy,
then it makes sense that her fame is the very thing which Sebastian's father.
Sir Alexander Wengrave, finds most odious in his son's supposed choice
of Moll for a mate. Even more than her masculine deportment, Wengrave
despises the fact that such a daughter-in-law as Moll would allow herself
to be "handled" by other people's staring eyes and gossiping mouths. In
his first reaction to Sebastian's feigned love for Moll, Sir Wengrave laments:

16 / Renaissance and Reformation

... It is a thing

One knows not how to name: her birth began

Ere she was all made. Tis woman more than man,

Man more than woman, and - which to none can hap -

The sun gives her two shadows to one shape;

Nay, more, let this strange thing walk, stand, or sit.

No blazing star draws more eyes after it (I.ii. 130-36, emphasis added)

So although he complains both about Moll's lack of a proper name, and
her dubious gender, those accusations take a back seat to her scandalous
visibility, her willingness to be seen and heard in public - like an actor on
a stage. And later on, when Sir Wengrave confronts Sebastian, he tries to
show him the folly of his choice by describing what to him would be the
most frightening consequence of marrying a woman like Moll:

Why, wouldst thou fain marry to be pointed at?
Alas the number's great, do not o erburden't
Why, as good marry a beacon on a hill.
Which all the country fix their eyes upon.
As her thy folly dotes on. (Il.ii. 136-40)

In these lines, Sebastian's father makes explicit his society's obsessive link
between a talked-about woman and a promiscuous one, assuming that a
cuckolding wife is the same as a well-known one, and that both will
necessarily be "pointed at." By letting herself be known, Moll has decreased
her value as an exchange object; by becoming a subject who speaks for
herself in the masculine realm, she has made herself ineligible as a marriage

In her essay "Women on the Market," Luce Irigaray speaks of two specific
standards against which the worth of a woman can be measured in a
patriarchal system of exchange - gold and the phallus.^ This idea helps to
expose the dynamic of exchange in this world where the feminine is
commodified and valued as an object according to a kind of "market price."
In Laxton's eyes, as we've seen, Moll's masculine demeanor actually seems
to increase her sexual value. And later in the play, when Mary Fitzallard
is disguised as a male page, Sebasdan exclaims in kissing her, "Methinks
a woman's lip tastes well in a doublet" (rv.i.47). At both of these moments
the play borders on becoming something like a parody of itself A masculine
woman should be "worthless" in a patriarchal marketplace because she
refuses to conform to the model woman - chaste, silent, and obedient. But
somehow, these two Molls, by cross-dressing, actually attract the male gaze

Renaissance et R��forme / 17

and enhance their value, and so as the scandal of being a roaring girl gets
diminished, the play seems to be laughing at its own capacity to attract
attention. Are we, along with Laxton, becoming the butt of the play's most
complex joke? The name Laxton puns on"Lackstone" after all, and he is
poor in both of the measures Irigaray posits for a woman's worth, gold and
the phallus, so it is fitting that he would so violently desire to usurp Moll's
"treasure" and make it his own. As audience, we may see ourselves
implicated in the same kind of transaction: does scoffing at Moll's
cross-dressing help us to feel more secure in our own gendered identities,
or does it rather expose our own repressed desires for the freedoms of
androgyny? In any case, as we enjoy Moll's banter, her "outrageous"
costume and mannerisms, we are being asked to remember the theatrical
situation and the possibility that by attending the performance, or by
purchasing a copy of the text we participate in the system of exchange that
informs this play's politics.

Even as we may claim that Moll escapes dependency and commodifica-
tion at the level of representation, we need to ask if she then becomes a
commodity for us to consume. What kind of pleasure, after all, do we pay
for at a production of The RoaringGirl? In their Prologue, the authors
humbly disclaim any attempt at "tragic passion, / And such grave stuff,"
as "out of fashion" (11-12). On the other hand, the Prologue, by defining
Moll in negative terms ("None of these roaring girls is ours" [25]) leads us
to expect, paradoxically, a Moll beyond our expectations - and in this we
are not disappointed. Moll is unique in the world of this play in many
respects, but more crucial even than her transvestite status, and in spite of
the fact that she helps Sebastian and Mary with their marriage plans, she
stands out as the one character who disrupts society's "prostitution," or
exchange of women. In doing so she asks us to question our own use of
her for our entertainment, to question, perhaps, our own ability to enjoy
her antics as "freakish," and thus not to be too much affected by them.^

In addition to her entertaining costume and her witty, often bawdy
dialogue, is the unsettling fact that Moll does not have in this play any
given surname. She possesses neither the stamp of the father, as Mary
Fitzallard does, nor the mark of a husband as do the Mistresses Gallipot,
Openwork, and Tiltyard. Instead, she comes to us unmediated, without a
social filter, one moment full of military valor (as when she confronts
Laxton with her sword [III.i.38-1 12]), the next moment displaying an almost
maternal sympathy (as when she wants to help the men disguised as
homeless soldiers [V.i.79-81]). And even though the suggestiveness of the
shopwives' names is fairly obvious, it is only Moll who, lacking a proper

18 / Renaissance and Reformation

name, is called after her supposed professions: "Moll" - a common name
for whores - and "Cutpurse" - the name of a thief - assign Moll both an
occupation and lower-class status. Here again we realize that to have a
name that describes her, however erroneously, Moll must be well-known
and very much talked about.

Even on a formal level, though, Moll's rather late entrance into a play
that bears her name is a clue that we should expect her to rise above and
even expose the limits of the terms in which other characters describe and
point at her. When we first hear of Moll, in the play's opening scene,
Sebastian is painting a picture of her to another woman whom he also calls
"Moll," his real love, Mary. While relating to Mary his plot to feign love
for Moll so that his father will eventually accept Mary as a preferable
daughter-in-law, Sebastian describes Moll as "a creature / So strange in
quality, a whole city takes / Note of her name and person" (I.i.100-02), thus
putting his Mary's mind at ease - Sebastian could never be fool enough to
love a woman the whole city notices. However, this catalogue of Moll's
strangeness does not have the same calming effect on an audience aware
of its dramatic context. As he speaks, Sebastian's beloved Mary stands
before him disguised as a sempster, a person of lower class than himself,
and he calls her too, a "strange shape," and complains to Mary that her
"so strange disguise / Holds me with fear and wonder" (I.i.5-6). Not only
are Moll and Mary being deliberately and deeply confused in this scene,
but Sebastian, whose words create the confusion, seems completely unaware
of the possibility that the two women inhabit the same moral universe. In
his blindness to the overlap in Moll and Mary's characters, but also in his
rather callous response to Mary's disguise, Sebastian makes us aware of his
world's inability to get past superficial appearances; he teaches us to
mistrust what we hear of Moll Cutpurse, to be suspicious of the conventional
equation between women's voice or fame and women's chastity, an equation
which seems to structure the perceptions of Moll throughout.

Furthermore, as Mulholland suggests, the withholding of Moll's en-
trance, while we continue to hear her described, kindles our expectations,
makes us anxious, as the Prologue says, "to know what this roaring girl
should be"'" (15). In some sense, then, we are positioned, as audience, in
the role of male consumer, and with our "gates of attention set wide open,"
it may be that we too arc being cast as effeminate men, as if the play is
enacting its own masculine anxieties, unable to believe that the Roaring
Giri can be completely contained as a harmless, conventional instrument
who will, in the end, contribute to the patriarchal system of marriage and
exchange. This seems especially plausible because, far from arousing our

Renaissance et R��forme / 19

disgust, by the time Moll enters, the talk of her has made her seem already
somehow familiar to us and thus not so "strange and fearful" as Sebastian
would have it. Just as the Prologue advises the audience to abandon our
preconceived notions of what a roaring girl will be - "None of these roaring
girls is ours: she flies / With wings more lofty" (25-6) - it seems that we
will have to learn to reject the limited perspectives from within the play as
somehow inadequate, and be prepared to respond to the Roaring Girl
without the usual kinds of mediations and filters we may be comfortable
with. Read this way, after the first one and one half acts where we meet a
host of characters obsessed with fmancial concerns (Wengrave, Trapdoor,
the gallants, even Sebastian, who will not marry without his inheritance),
it is natural for us to be relieved when Moll enters with a kind of freshness
about her, speaking a language not drenched in economic terms, and going
about her business unconcerned with the financial gains and losses that
rule the other characters' lives.

When we first see Moll, then, she is strolling casually through the streets,
not yet in men's clothes, nor exactly in conventional women's dress, but
comfortably androgynous in a man's "frieze jerkin" and a woman's
"safeguard." As she walks onto the stage, Moll immediately claims all of
the gallants' attention as well as our own, and it is as if some new life is
being breathed into the play at this point: "Life, yonder's Moll!" / "Moll!
which Moll?" / "Honest Moll." / "Prithee, let's call her. - Moll!" / "Moll,
Moll, pist, Moll" (II.i.175-179). Stopping at the Gallipots' apothecary just
long enough for a brief chat and a puff of tobacco, Moll engages the gallants
in friendly conversation, neither coy nor belligerent, but speaking rather
off-handedly as among equals: "How now? What's the matter?" "I cannot
stay." "Well, what is't?" "Yes, faith, 'tis very good tobacco." (ILL 180- 199).
Chatting in this way, and calling out an unanswered greeting to Mistress
Gallipot, Moll moves on. As she walks away unaware of him, Moll becomes
the object of Laxton's lustful gaze as he, in looking after her departing figure
confesses, "Heart, I would give but too much money to be nibbling with
that wench" (IL i. 193- 194). Because she slips as he says, "from one company
to another," Laxton assumes that Moll must be a loose woman, for sale,
and he makes his ill-fated pledge to buy her in rather frightening images:
"I'll lay hard siege to her; money is that aqua fortis that eats into many a
maidenhead; where the walls are flesh and blood, I'll ever pierce through
with a golden auger" (II.i.202-205).

When Moll's stroll finally takes her to her destination, the sempster's
shop. Mistress Openwork turns her away, yelling,"Get you from my shop!"
because Mister Openwork's fond familiar greeting has made her jealous of

20 / Renaissance and Reformation

Moll. In some sense, Mistress Openwork's treatment of Moll is more painful
even, for Moll and for an audience, than Laxton's remarkably crude and
condescending decision to "buy" her. As angry as she is at the Shopkeeper's
rebuff, however, Moll manages to hold back her wrath just until, in an
original stage direction, a fellow enters, "with a long rapier by his side"
(II.i.243).^^ As if acknowledging that long rapier's offensive symbolic
potency, Moll immediately turns from the woman saying, "Ha! be thankful;
/ Now I forgive thee" (243-44), and begins to assault the unsuspecting fellow
with all the venomous energy she had been keeping in check, crying "You
goodman swine's face!" (246), and beating him severely before her rage is
spent. Almost as if she realizes that Mistress Openwork's scorn is not her
own, but the result of the competition which a patriarchal society perpetu-
ates between women on the market, Moll refuses to vent her anger on the
woman, and turns instead to the first man she sees.

In another essay, "Commodities Among Themselves," Irigaray speculates
that commodities of exchange must compete with each other for value
which, in any capitalist society, will always be a relative thing and will
always be determined by those with buying power - in this case, men.^^
Thus a woman's worth in the world of this play is calculated in comparison
to another woman's value, and value itself must be measured against an
external standard - the third term in the exchange. In this case, the third
term could be the length of a man's "rapier" - who deserves the greatest
share of it, or the amount of gold he will spend in a woman's shop - who
can command the highest price. Interestingly, in the entire play, only Moll
is offered money for her services; the other women, Mary and Mistress
Gallipot in particular, end up actually paying out money for male attention.
But as in the scene where she flings Laxton's coins back at him, Moll at
this moment, after being insulted by Mistress Openwork, does not join in
the individual competition that the insult might provoke, but rather lashes
out against a social structure and an economic system which put her in
competition with other women and make all women prey for men.

If we can assume that there is probably more at stake in this very funny
scene than just Moll's dislike of long rapiers, perhaps what the play is saying
is something quite serious about Moll's disruption of the "intercourse" into
which she has unknowingly stepped as she entered the play. The scene that
Moll interrupts is a city street with three shops open in a rank, and three
shopwives vying for the business of the three gallants passing along the
street. As the men pass. Mistress Openwork steps out and calls to them:
"Gentlemen, what is't you lack? What is't you buy?" (II.i.1-2). The bawdy
double-entendre latent in this image would not have been wasted on


Renaissance et R��forme / 21

Middleton and Dekker's audience, any more than it is wasted on the
gallants themselves, who gossip, as they walk along, about the quality of
the shopwomen's "goods" and at what price they might be had. To describe
Moll's entrance as a breath of fresh air is more than a metaphor at this
point, for it seems fairly obvious, by her androgynous dress, and her straight,
uncompromising dialogue, that Moll has taken herself off of the kind of
market that gets figured in the exchange between the shopwomen and the
gallants. An audience must feel relieved, then, as well as amused, to see
that Moll neither solicits the male gaze, nor as Laxton soon discovers, can
she be bought with gold coins. Even the gallant's chivalry seems unaccept-
able to Moll - perhaps because it would cost too much of her own
self-respect to purchase it. Thus, when Laxton offers to protect Moll from
the fellow with the long rapier (after she has already trounced him, of
course), she responds innocently: "You prepared for him? why should you
be prepared for him, was he any more than a man?" (II.i.265-66).

Farther along on her walk, after she has been accosted by Laxton and
has arranged the ill-fated rendezvous at Grey's Inn Fields where our
discussion started, Moll is again stopped by a man who would court her -
this time it is Sebastian. Coming as it does so soon after Laxton's crude
courting, Sebastian's fairly naive, polite advances to Moll may seem a vivid
contrast, but Moll exposes them as actually quite similar when she responds,
"Sir, I am so poor to requite you, you must look for nothing but thanks of
me — I love you so well, sir, for your good will I'd be loath you should
repent your bargain after" (II.ii.35-41). The level of Sebastian's appeal that
Moll is responding to is of course the economic one; she cautions him
against the bargain he proposes - her femininity for his hand (and fortune)
in marriage. The sincerity in Moll's reply that he would not get a fair
bargain, for she cannot make herself a feminine commodity, is especially
touching in light of the fact that Sebastian's proposal is a sham. Although
Moll does not know it at this point, ironically, the deal Sebastian has in
mind is much more financial and less romantic than that of marriage: he
wants Moll to pretend to love him so that Mary and her small dower will
look more attractive to his father in comparison - and of course Sebastian
is willing to pay Moll for her efforts. The last part of Moll's answer to
Sebastian sets up a significant structural and substantive echo with her
response to Laxton's lewd request: "I have the hend now of myself," she
says, "and am man enough for a woman; marriage is but a chopping and
changing, where a maiden loses one head and has a worse i'th'place"
(II.ii.42-4). In her tirade against Laxton in Act III, Moll concludes with
another set of lines that work with balance and parallel structure to express

22 / Renaissance and Reformation

a kind of disgust with the kind of woman she would have to be in order to
please a man: *Tell them 'twere base to yield, where I have conquered. / 1
scorn to prostitute myself to a man, / I that can prostitute a man to me"

In a recent article concerned with cross-dressing, social stability, and The
Roaring Girl, Mary Beth Rose suggests that the exclusion of Moll from the
traditional, comic celebration at the end of the play, may be a result of the
playwrights' never entirely separating Moll from the "outlaw status" of her
real-life counterpart, Mary Frith. ^^ More simply, it seems to me that Moll's
repeated insistence on her unwillingness to become a man's woman, her
defensive claim that she can be both woman and man herself, is a
compelling enough reason for her to be excluded from the comic revival
of the society at the play's end. In placing herself so definitely and defiantly
into an androgynous role, Moll celebrates her independence from men and
from women, as those roles are defined in her world. Her unwillingness to
enter the market of exchange must effectively exclude her from the
celebration of exchange that constitutes marriage as her society knows it
By being thus excluded, the figure of the Roaring Girl reveals both the
triumphs and the limitations of her stance, and in one of her last, most
poignant lines, Moll seems both to acknowledge and choose exclusion
when, having been forgiven by Sebastian's father, and no longer condemned
for trying to seduce his son, she remarks: "He was in fear his son would
marry me, / But never dreamt that I would ne'er agree" (V.ii.213-14).

University of Utah


1 T.S. Eliot, "Thomas Middleton," Times Literary Supplement, 30 June, 1927: 445-6; the essay
is reprinted (among other places) in his Elizabethan Essays (1934; repr. Faber & Faber,
1%3), pp. 83-93 (quotation at pp. 90, 93).

2 Paul MulhoUand, introduction. The Roaring Girl, by Thomas Middleton and Thomas
Dekker (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987), pp. 20-21. MulhoUand refers
specifically to Simon Shepherd, /4mazow5 and Warrior Women (Brighton: Harvester Press,
1981), and Patrick Cheney, "Moll Cutpurse as Hermaphrodite in Dekker and Middleton's
The Roaring Giri,"^ Renaissance and Reformation ns 7 (1983): 120-134.

3 All citations are from Mulholland's edition (fn. 2 above) with subsequent references given
parenthetically within the text.

4 Linda Woodbndge, Women and the English Renaissance: Literature and the Nature of
Womankind, 1540-1620 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), p. 255.

5 Stephen Grcenblatt, "Fiction and Friction," Shakespearean Negotiations (Berkeley: Uni-
versity of California Press, 1988), p. 92.

6 Stephen Orgel, "Nobody's Perfect: Or Why Did the English Stage Take Boys for
Women?," South Atlantic Quarterly, 85 (Winter, 1989), p.26.

Renaissance et R��forme / 23

7 Ann Rosalind Jones, "Surprising Fame: Renaissance Gender Ideologies and Women's
Lyric," The Poetics of Gender, ed. Nancy IC Miller (New York: Columbia University Press,
1986), p. 74.

8 Luce Irigaray, "Women on the Market," This Sex Which Is Not One (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell
University Press, 1985), p. 174.

9 In her fascinating discussion of the cross-dressing dynamics in The Roaring Girl, "Women
in Men's Clothing: Apparel and Social Stability in The Roaring Girl," Renaissance
Historicisnt, eds. Arthur F. Kinney and Dan S. Collins (Amherst: University of Massa-
chusetts Press, 1987), Maiy Beth Rose confronts this same problem when she says in her
conclusion: "In the play [Moll] remains pleasantly isolated from society, a loveable
outlaw whose eccentricity insures that she will not constitute a social threat" (p. 246).
That simple negation of Moll's power to incite change seems to me one of the crucial
problems in our experience of the play, and I wonder if it does not have something to
do with our biases about its male authorship; do we take The Roaring Girl less seriously
because we know it was written by two men in a patriarchal culture? And perhaps more
importantly, should we?

10 Mulholland, The Roaring Girl, p. 15.

11 Mulholland, The Roaring Girl, p. Ill, glosses this stage direction by referring to a Tudor
proclamation against the wearing of long swords and rapiers, and to a quip in Wycherley's
Country Wife, I.i.285-86 (Revels ��d.), "Most men are the contraries to that they would
seem: your bully, you see, is a coward with a long sword," In any case, it seems that long
rapiers were making enough of a stir in Tudor England so that the prop Middleton and
Dekker give to this fellow would not be seen as purely incidental.

12 Irigaray, "Commodities Among Themselves," This Sex Which Is Not One, pp. 192-96.

13 Mary Beth Rose, "Women in Men's Clothing," p. 246.

The Body Natural of a Queen: Mary,
James, Horestes


Ocotland is a quagmire," William Cecil commented to his correspondent,
Sir Henry Sidney, on April 23, 1567, two months after the murder of Henry
Stuart, Lord Damley, and eleven days after Bothwell's acquittal for that
murder. Cecil continues, "Nobody seems to stand still, the most honest
desire to go away, the worst tremble with the shaking of their conscience.'
His words fittingly describe the confusing chronology and obscure motiva-
tions in the tribal and religious conflicts which led to the murder of a king
and the deposition of Mary Queen of Scots. Perspectives on Mary have
been further distorted by the activities of Catholic and Protestant propa-
gandists eager to further or block her as appropriate heir to Elizabeth I of
England, making the figure of the woman difficult to discern behind the
mythologizing which represents her as Catholic martyr or Protestant
Jezebel. This paper considers the particular problems provoked by the
reproducing body natural of a queen regnant, that aspect of her sovereignty
in which she is most markedly different from a king. Mary Queen of Scots
was a woman who attempted, unsuccessfully, to integrate sovereignty with
biological maternity.^

In 1567-1568, the body of Mary Queen of Scots marked the intersection
of a number of ideological systems - courtly love, Roman Catholicism,
sovereignty, marriage, and maternity. The first four years of Mary's personal
rule in Scotland attest to her successful negotiation of several of these
systems. It was the marriage and subsequent pregnancy of the sovereign
which precipitated the crisis which cost her her crown. Constance Jordan's
careful analysis of Tudor political tracts suggests a positive development in
the political analysis of sovereignty which criticized notions of "natural"
sovereignty as exclusively masculine.^ Despite such positive developments
in theory, it was Mary's participation as a queen regnant in the institutions
of marriage and motherhood which precipitated her disastrous fall. Her

Renaisance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 1 (1990) 25

26 / Renaissance and Reformation

pregnant body makes prominent the peculiarities of her situation as a
female prince, for the female ruler who produces an heir makes clear that
the Tudor notion of the king's two bodies - one, the body natural, subject
to infirmity and death, the other, the body politic, infallible and immortal

- is a legal metaphor. The sovereign queen's body, a sufficiently complex
figure at the head of the ruling hierarchy in the Renaissance, during
gestation and birth literally encloses the continuity of her rule. As repro-
ducing female monarch, Mary tested in practice the advantages of marriage
and production of an heir proposed to Elizabeth I by any number of her
counselors. For Mary the experiment was unfortunate.

This paper focuses on the body natural of a sovereign mother, by
considering the events in Scotland surrounding the birth of James VI and
I, the oblique commentary on those events made in the play Horestes by
John Pikeryng, and the play's odd prescience about the dilemma faced by
the adult James, nearly twenty years later, as shown in his letters written in
the months following his mother's condemnation for treason and before
her execution at Fotheringhay. In all three instances - event, interlude, letter

- the body natural of the mother and the obligations owed to that body
figure prominently.

The political crisis in Scotland that led to Mary's abdication is signifi-
cantly bracketed between two pregnancies - the successful pregnancy which
produced her heir, James VI, and the miscarriage in 1568 which preceded
Mary's resignation in favor of her son.^ When Mary chose as her husband
her second cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Damley, she united two claimants
to the English throne, a seemingly strategic maneuver that proved disas-
trous. The marriage did succeed in one area, since Mary quickly became
pregnant Within five weeks of the pregnancy, Randolph, the English
ambassador to Scotland, had reported it back to London.^ The pregnancy
exacerbated Damley's discontent. Although he had been named as king
consort and proclaimed as King Henry, the name by which he was known

- despite no permission from the Scottish Parliament - he desired the crown
matrimonial which would guarantee his continuing rule in the event of
Mary's death without an heir.^ A successful birth would preclude his
chances for sole rule.

Mary was six months pregnant when her advisor, David Riccio, was torn
from her skirts and within her earshot was stabbed to death by her husband
and other lords. Riccio had 56 stab wounds in his body.^ The murder was
reported in England as the action of the dishonored husband against his
adulterous wife. Cecil believed that the murder of Riccio was provoked by
Maiy's adultery with her servant, or so he claimed in a letter to M. de Foix,

Renaissance et R��forme / 27

who was shocked by the news.^ The suspicions of adultery between the
Queen and her secretary were sufficiently persistent that decades later
Henry IV could impugn with a witticism the legitimacy of James. He called
James "the modem Solomon, since he was the son of David who played
on the harp," a reference to Riccio's musical skill.^ Mary believed "the
murder had been deliberately staged to produce the maximum amount of
shock and horror in the hope that she would miscarry and die."^^ Mary's
belief, held to the end of her life, makes clear the extreme vulnerability she
felt during the murder and the anxiety she felt about the pregnancy. That
belief is given further support by Damley's subsequent indifference to her
health. When Mary persuaded Damley to rescue her from the rebel lords
and they were riding furiously from Edinburgh, fearing a miscarriage, she
"entreated him to have some regard to her condition." " *Come on!' said
he, 'in God's name, come on! If this baby dies, we can have more.' "^^ His
callous indifference to her anxiety may have had a more sinister motivation
since, in the sixteenth century, late miscarriage often led to the mother's
death.^^ Mary successfully defeated the rebel lords and three months later,
on June 19, 1566, bore a son, James. Although Damley failed to attend the
Roman Catholic christening in December, Mary had exacted acknowledge-
ment of legitimacy from him.^^ When Mary pardoned one of the conspir-
ators in Riccio's murder, Damley retreated to Glasgow, where he fell ill.
Mary persuaded him to retum to Edinburgh, and there, in the house at
Kirk o' Fields early in the moming of Febmary 10, he died. There was a
massive explosion at the house; Damley was found without a mark on his
body, dead, perhaps strangled, in the garden. The official Scottish response
to the murder was the claim that the lives of both Queen and King had
been aimed at in the explosion. "And those that are the authors of this evil,

only just failed in destroying the Queen by the same means "^"^ Mary's

failure to pursue the murderers of the king with any vigor gave support to
suspicions that she was implicated in the plot. Placards and ballads
appeared in Edinburgh accusing Bothwell, Mary's supporter, of the murder.
The murderers were not prosecuted by the Queen and Parliament, in sharp
contrast to the treason trial three years earlier in which the dead body of
Huntly was arraigned before both houses of Pari lament and the throne of
the queen. ^^ Lennox, Damley's father, was allowed to bring a private
prosecution for the death. Bothwell, the accused, was allowed to bring 200
retainers to the trial. Lennox, allowed six, pmdently declined to attend and
Bothwell was acquitted. In the following weeks, Bothwell "kidnapped" the
Queen, a plot she seems to have condoned, received a divorce from his wife,
as well as an annulment, which freed him to marry again. He and Mary

28 / Renaissance and Reformation

were married on May 15, in a Protestant ceremony. A month later on June
15, at Carberry Hill, Bothwell was forced to flee, and Mary was taken back
to the Provost's House in Edinburgh where the crowd howled all night
outside her window, "Bum the whore," the standard epithet which controls
and limits the exercise of power by women. ^^

Mary's willingness to condone her abduction by Bothwell and the haste
of their marriage, explained by some as her thralldom to Bothwell, becomes
more explicable if seen as necessitated by an inopportune pregnancy.
During her ensuing imprisonment at Lochleven, Mary refused to repudiate
Bothwell, insisting that such an act would illegitimize the child she was
carrying. She claimed to be only seven weeks pregnant, carefully dating
conception to two weeks after her wedding to Bothwell. ^^ A lengthier
pregnancy would explain the desperate speed of the marriage. Guzman de
Silva, the Spanish ambassador in London had reported in June that Mary
was five months pregnant.^^ While the Queen's ability to disguise a
pregnancy from the time of Damley's murder until her imprisonment at
Lochleven seems unlikely - Randolph accurately reported her first preg-
nancy at five weeks - the turmoil after Damley's murder, and particularly
after Mary's abduction, might have interfered with the normal spy network.
Even Antonia Fraser, Mary's modem apologist, admits that the pregnancy
might have preceded the wedding to Bothwell. Mary miscarried at
Lochleven between July 18 and 24, of twins, she claimed later to her
physician Nau. While Mary might have inserted the detail - "deux enfants"
- into Nau's text as a direct challenge to the childlessness of Elizabeth I
and a boast of her own fecundity, such an interpretation seems improbable.
While twin fetuses could be identified after eight weeks, they would be even
more readily identifiable after a longer gestation, suggesting a conception
that preceded the wedding. ^^ The miscarriage at Lochleven modified Mary's
resistance to the rebel lords and she resigned her crown in favor of her son.

This story tums on the reproductive capacity of a woman. Mary's success
in childbirth produced an altemate ruler, one much more available as a
puppet and one unable to produce rival claimants to rule for at least twelve
years. Mary's marriage to Bothwell, while binding an instrument of
vengeance to her, provided legitimacy for her second pregnancy. The union
of the sovereign with the suspected murderer of the king consort was
repugnant to her subjects. The unruly body of the woman mler had to be
constrained. Within a year of her abdication, Mary had escaped to the
protection of her cousin Elizabeth in England where she was imprisoned
for seventeen years and finally executed for treason. The rebel lords who
forced Mary's abdication justified their actions of rebellion against their

Renaissance et R��forme / 29

sovereign by claiming her sexual indiscretion. Once her sexual guilt was
affirmed, any action on their part was legitimated, for the adulterous woman
violates the community of male sovereignty.

The process of legitimizing rebellion against a sovereign queen is evident
in one early literary response to Damley's murder, namely, the play,
Horestes, which was written and performed in London after the murder and
before Mary's flight to England. The play echoes comparisons between
Mary and Clytemnestra made in ballads published in Scotland immediately
after the murder. Those ballads elide the actual unattractive facts of
Damley's behavior and transform him into a paragon, ruthlessly slaugh-
tered by a cruel wife.^^ Such assumptions also inform John Pikeryng's
Horestes, printed in London by William Griffith.^^ This may be the same
as the play Orestes, performed at court at "the Christmas or Shrovetide
festivities of 1567-8."^^ Both J. E. Phillips, who has done extensive work on
the propaganda surrounding the figure of Mary, and F. P. Wilson believe
that the Revels account refers to Pikeryng's play.^^ The Revels account
makes clear the prevalence of the analogy between Mary and Clytemnestra,
for it calls Orestes the "Scottish Kings play."^"* The Revels account records
the presentation at the English court of a work condemning Mary as an
adulteress, an entertainment coincidental with the Scottish Parliament's
promulgation of an act condemning Mary for conspiracy in the murder of
Damley.^^ It seems likely that the Orestes performed at court is the Horestes
published in 1567, and forms part of the English propaganda effort to justify
the deposition of a neighboring queen.

Horestes is a very cheerful, hybrid morality, recounting in thirteen scenes
the story of Horestes' vengeance on his mother. It has a Vice who disguises
himself as Revenge, a number of comic characters, and culminates in a
happy ending - the coronation of Horestes by Truth and Duty and his
wedding to Hermione. It is based on the material of the Oresteia, via Caxton's
Receuil of the Historye of Troye, and is filled with songs - a sort of early
musical comedy version of a revenge play.

This play makes explicit the problems posed to the son by the body natural
of an adulterous and murderess mother. The play asks whether the tyranny
of the mother erases the obligations to the body of the mother that the son has
incurred in the natural processes of gestation, childbirth, and lactation. These
questions form the core of four scenes: two colloquies with advisors, and then
in two debates with female figures, culminating in Clytcmnestra's plea for
herself In these four scenes, the claims of natural law are separated from and
subordinated to the claims of what is held to be justice.

30 / Renaissance and Reformation

From his first words, Horestes is presented as a character in conflict over
the demands of justice and the obligations of pity. Pity becomes a quality
projected onto a female figure, Dame Nature, who then instructs him in
appropriate feeling.

To caull to minde the crabyd rage of mothers yll attempt
Provokes me now all pyttie quight, from me to be exempt:
Yet lo dame nature teles me that, I must with willing mind
Forgive the faute and to pytie, some what to be inclynd. (A-iv.^

Against that pity, he sets the "terrible mother" the adulterous whore who has
killed his father and threatened his life. There is no mention of Iphigenia;
Clytemnestra's vengeance for her daughter is erased from the text The triangle
of father-mother-son simplifies the analogy between Damley-Mary-James and
also allows a simple opposition between natural law and paternal law to be
developed in the play. (Clytemnestra's vengeance for the sacrifice of her
daughter provides some justification for the wife's rebellion and taints
Agamemnon with a violation of natural law himself.) The implication that
Clytemnestra's activities were solely motivated by adulterous lust - in
Pikeiyng's play she is frequently called the "adulltres dame" - is part of the
wider Protestant propaganda effort condemning Maiy for her association with
Bothwell and implying her responsibility for the murder of Damley.

Significantly, in his first appearance, Horestes seeks advice from the gods
of war. While some distress over his mother is acknowledged, his partici-
pation in the masculine pursuits of war is predicated on her execution. The
implication that manliness is defined by the destruction of the mother is
given some ambiguity by the dubious veracity of the Vice, who claims to
be sent by the gods and who defines courage as the eradication of childish
pity for the mother: "Put of that childish love" (B.i.^. Despite the ambiguity
over the status of the advice given to Horestes, the happy ending of the play
confirms the correctness of the Vice's message. Horestes does demonstrate
his chivalric potential by banishing pity for his mother and ordering her
execution. He is rewarded with a crown and a bride.

Horestes does not rely solely on the message from the gods, but seeks
instruction from King Idumeus, ruler of Crete. Idumeus provides an
exemplary model of kingship by immediately seeking advice from his
council. The character named Councell considers vengeance appropriate:

As I do thinke my soferayne lord, it should be nothing ill,
A Prynce for to revenged be, on those which so dyd kyll.
His fathers: grace. (B.ii ��)

Renaissance et R��forme / 31

Not only is vengeance appropriate, but it is also a necessary preventative
against further murders by regicides. Intriguingly, CouncelFs advice both
emphasizes the link between father and son - Prince and father's grace -
and erases the prince's connection with the murderess. In fine bureaucratic
fashion, the clause "on those which so dyd kyll" conveniently blurs the
maternal status of the murderess and evades the question of natural law.
Idumeus immediately accepts this advice, encourages Horestes' vengeance
and offers an army to assist. In a subsequent colloquy between Councell
and King, they discuss Horestes' manly potential and his paternal heritage.
Idumeus sees him as following in "his fathers steppes" (B.ii.^) and Councell
concurs only to elevate him to the imitator of Achilles himself, the greatest
Greek hero. Councell not only hides the body of the mother from
consideration but also elevates matricide to the highest level of chivalry.

This careful development of the prince's manliness and chivalric poten-
tial shifts attention away from any natural bond between mother and son
and replaces that blood link with the patriarchal bond of father and son
and the chivalric bond between young aspirant and great hero. The notion
of entrance into manhood, a ritual initiation through war, is the burden of
the subsequent comic scene between two squires of the court who resolve
to follow Horestes in battle, and then quarrel over their relative strength.

The struggle between natural law and paternal justice is given full
expression in the ensuing scene when Dame Nature herself intercedes for
the mother. Horestes' prayer at the head of his army again presents him as
the executor of paternal law against the "adultress dame." Nature enters to
protest. Her argument is rooted in the principle that the obligations incurred
by the child to the mother's body through the processes of pregnancy, birth,
and lactation prohibit the exercise of violence against the mother. Nature
supports her argument with examples from the behavior of animals; even
tigers do not harm their own:

The cruel beasts that raung in feldes whose iause to blod ar whet
Do not consent their mothers paunch, in cruell wise to eate. (B.iv.^

Her final reason, more threat than argument, warns of the harm to his
reputation that will ensue. Against the debts of nature and the pain of
childbirth, Horestes offers abstract arguments of law. A mother who has
offended the laws of god and man must be punished. The prince as the executor
of public law - human and divine - cannot be called tyrant even when he
sheds his mother's blood. Even Nature's final threat - the danger of a reputation
as sullied as that of Oedipus, parricide - does not deter Horestes:

32 / Renaissance and Reformation

For this is true that bloud for bloud, for my fathers deth doth crave
And lawe of godes, and lawe of man, doth eke request the same. (B.iv.^

The laws of god and man override the claims of nature.

Dame Nature's grave piety contrasts strongly with the reckless abandon
of Clytemnestra, first presented singing a love song with her lover Egistus.
(One hardly thinks of Bothwell as engaged in song, but inevitably one is
reminded of David Riccio, who was a fine musician.) In their song, the
lovers establish an analogy between their love and that of Helen and Paris.
The mother is thus presented as one inappropriately consumed by the fires
of passion and recklessly indifferent to the arrival of her son: "and for his
forse, I sure set not a pyn." (C.iii.^). Clytemnestra's dangerous indifference
extends to the citizens of her city, for her resistance provokes Horestes to
command the sack of the city and the death of all, save his mother.
Clytemnestra is demonstrating the attributes of a tyrant - reckless lust and
indifference to the welfare of her subjects.

Clytemnestra, when brought before her son, attempts to play on the pity
of her child. Her pleas attempt to assert the blood link between mother and
son: "Yf aney sparke of mothers bloud, remaynd within thy breste / Oh
gratious child let now thine eares, unto my words be prest" (D.i.^. The play
presents the transition of the son from childhood into manhood, and in
the process the suppression of all acknowledgment of maternal blood. The
mother's plea fails, and the father's vengeance prevails. Although the son
does feel some pity, it is provoked by his recognition of an emblem of de
casibus tragedy, and not by the claims of natural law:

By all the godes my hart dyd fayle, my mother for to se
From hye estate for to be brought, to so great myserey. (D.i.^

His own participation in the operations which have removed his mother
from high estate is entirely elided.

Horestes demonstrates his full entrance into manhood and his potential
capacity as ruler by his ability to condemn his mother to execution and by
his secure confidence in his reputation. To Clytemnestra's warning that he
will acquire the fame of Edyppus and Nero, he demonstrates a capacity to
quote authorities - Juvenal and Socrates - who support his determination
to punish those who live licentiously. Execution of the mother has been
successfully transmuted from an argument based on natural law to one
involving patriarchal law. Execution of the mother becomes a necessary
support of good government. Paternal law supersedes natural pity.

Renaissance et R��forme / 33

The difficulties in the containment of blood feuds - the resurgence of the
claims of kin links - is exposed by the immediate arrival of Menalaus to
execute revenge for his sister (actually his wife's sister). Menalaus reopens
the conflict of paternal law and nature, but is persuaded by Idumeus and
Nestor to create peace in the feud by offering, in marriage, the body of
another woman, Menalaus' daughter, Hermione. The play ends with the
wedding of the young lovers, Hermione a far more docile and benevolent
queen than Clytemnestra.

The play offers several pointed instructions to its regal audience, Eliza-
beth. It explores justifications for interference in the affairs of another state
and condones deposition of a queen without undermining sovereign power
entirely by defining Clytemnestra as an adulterous woman and tyrant, thus
one who has forgone all respect as a ruler. It also offers a pointed model
for a ruler's adherence to the advice of council. At the same time, it offers
a submerged warning that contradicts that overt policy of Elizabeth's
council. At a time when her council and subjects were zealously urging on
Elizabeth the advantages of marriage and reproduction, this play exposes
the difficulties at the intersection of monarchy and maternity. Female rule
is presented in this play as dangerous and in need of subordination to male
authority. Hermione, the ideal queen consort, speaks six lines in which she
submits herself "with humble harte" to her husband. A queen consort fits
far more readily into Tudor depictions of female rule than a queen regnant.

In addition to the contradictions of the play's appeal for its regal audience,
Horestes has an oddly prophetic aspect, for the dilemma adumbrated - the
problem of Horestes before his adulteress mother - was the problem that
revived nearly twenty years later when Mary Queen of Scots was tried for
treason and faced execution. James, unwilling to forgo his English pension,
and unwilling to anger the woman he hoped to succeed, was a reluctant
correspondent in the diplomatic flurry which followed the judgment against
Mary. James was in a quandary. Although he had not seen Mary since
babyhood, he was bound to her by the institution of natural law which
named her his mother and he feared the opprobrium of Europe if he failed
to protest against her execution. His own awareness of the maneuvering he
was forced into is betrayed when, in a letter to Elizabeth, he begs her "not
to take me to be a chameleon."^^

In a letter to Leicester, he protests "the pretended condemnation of the
Queen my mother."^^ Yet this open avowal of the relationship between
himself and the mother is quickly followed by his expression of concern
over the infringement of his honor. "As for my own part, it is far by my
expectation or deserts that your countrymen, in so using the mother, should

34 / Renaissance and Reformation

have borne so small respect to the offspring "^^ Execution of the mother

is reconstructed as an insult to the son.

The link between his mother and his honor recurs in a second letter to
Leicester, as James, fearful that the provisions of the Bond of Association,
which barred inheritance of the throne by anyone who intended to benefit
from an assassination of Elizabeth, and that person's heirs, attempted to
clear himself of blame. James denies any communication with his mother
and separates himself from her claim to the English throne. "But, specially,
how fond and inconstant I were if I should prefer my mother to the title
let all men judge. My religion ever moved me to hate her course, although
my honour constrains me to insist for her life."^^

In his final plea to Elizabeth for his mother's life, he presses the claims of
sovereignty and blood, yet in the process defines Mary as more nearly allied
to Elizabeth than to himself: "What thing, madame, can greatlier touch me in
honour that [am] a king and a son than that my nearest neighbour, being in
straitest [friend] ship with me, shall rigorously put to death a free sovereign
prince and my natural mother, alike in estate and sex to her that so uses her,
albeit subject I grant to a harder fortune, and touching her nearly in proximity
of blood."^^ The phrase, "my natural mother," tucked so neatly before the
extended comparison between Mary and Elizabeth suggests that the kinship
of queens is far greater than any natural link between mother and son. We
catch James here in the process of constructing an alternate system of royal
kinship-links that transcend the merely natural bonds between mother and
son. That process continues in the salutation that closes the letter accepting
Elizabeth's denial that she intended Mary's death. He requests that his cousin
provide an honorable way out for both of them: "And as for my part I look
that ye will give me at this time such a full satisfaction in all respects as shall
be a mean to strengthen and unite this isle, establish and maintain the true
religion, and oblige me to be, as before I was, your most loving and dearest
brother."^ ^ It is far better to be the brother and heir of the living queen than
to insist on responsibilities owed to the body of the natural mother, though,
after his coronation, James did subdue any residual filial guilt by removing
his mother's corpse from the tomb at Peterborough and reinterring it in
Westminster Abbey near the tomb of the woman who signed her warrant
of execution.

The play Horestes urges and condones a split between the laws of men
and the laws of nature when an act of vengeance taken directly by the son
on the body of the mother is condoned. Yet in James's letters surrounding
the execution of his mother, the claims of natural law and the potential
dishonor for a son who condones the death of his mother worryingly fail

Renaissance et R��forme / 35

to be subdued. In the play, the claims of natural law and the ambiguity
implicit in the approval of the gods are made explicit in the arrival of
Menalaus when he comes to avenge his sister. While the laws of gods and
men may condone execution of the mother, the claims of blood are not
quieted; the potential for social chaos implicit in the blood feud continues.
The feud is ended only by the exchange of the body of another woman, the
daughter given in marriage. Hermione - the potential mother - is substituted
for the body of the dead mother and the play ends in harmony.

Constance Jordan rightly sees as positive the developments in Renais-
sance political theory which enabled men to conceptualize woman's rule.
She describes those developments as part of the defenses of women which
"argue for the creation of societies in which what is deemed natural is
recognized as an expression of historically contingent cultural norms."^^
Yet that positive development is connected to a disturbing suppression of
natural law. Natural law grants to the bodies of women in their reproductive
capacity certain privileges which are gender specific. Theoretical develop-
ments which eliminate those aspects of the body which inhere only in
reproducing female bodies produce an appearance of gender neutrality, but
actually maintain the androcentric definitions of law and sovereignty. The
teasing claims of natural law which fail to be fully subdued either in the
play, Horestes, or in the mind of the son of Mary Queen of Scots must be
accommodated in a fully inclusive definition of law and justice.

Vassar College


I would like to acknowledge the helpful comments of Carole Levin, James Lewton-Brain,
Elizabeth Robertson, and Paul Russell.

1 Conyers Read, Mr. Secretary Cecil and Queen Elizabeth (London: Cape, 1955), p. 378.

2 See Ernst Kantorowitz, The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957) for extensive exploration of this concept in
medieval church ritual and canon laws. See also Marie Axton, The Queen 's Two Bodies
(London: Royal Historical Society, 1977).

3 Constance Jordan, "Woman's Rule in Sixteenth-Century British Political ThoughC
Renaissance Quarterly 40 (1987), 421-451. Jordan considers the problems facing the Tudor
queens regnant, but does not extend her analysis to Mary Queen of Scots.

4 This narrative of events follows that in Alison Plowden, Elizabeth Tudor and Mary Stuart:
Two Queens in One Isle (Totowa, NJ.: Barnes, 1984) and Antonia Fraser, Mary Queen of
Scots (New York: Delacorte, 1%9), with additions as indicated.

5 Fraser, p. 240.

6 Fraser, pp. 230, 232.

7 William Drury to Cecil, March 27, 1567, CSP Foreign Elizabeth 1566-1568. ed. Allan
Crosby (London: Longman, 1871), p. 39.

36 / Renaissance and Reformation

8 M. De Foix to Cecil, March 23, 1567, summarized in CSP Foreign Elizabeth 1566-1568:
"Was horrified by the contents of his letter, as nothing could be more dreadful than that
a deformed and base menial should be caught in the act of adultery with the Queen and
slain by her husband, who then should have secretly deserted his friends," p. 37.

9 Read, p. 346.

10 Plowden, p. 105. See also Fraser, p. 253.

11 Claude Nau, Memorials of Mary Stewart, ed. J. Stevenson (Edinburgh, 1883), cited in M.
H. Armstrong Davison, 77»^ Casket Letters (Washington, D.C.: University Press of
Washington D.C., 1965), p. 27.

12 For a discussion of the perils of childbirth in Scotland in the Renaissance, see Rosalind
K. Marshall, Virgins and Viragos: A History of Women in Scotland from 1080-1980 (Chicago:
Academy, 1983), pp. 105-122.

13 Fraser, p. 268.

14 Letter from Mary's Council to Catherine de Medici on February 10, 1567, immediately
after the murder, quoted in Davison, p. 274.

15 Fraser, p. 201.

16 Allison Jaggar, "Prostitution," in Women and Values: Readings in Recent Feminist Philos-
ophy, ed. Marilyn Pearsall (Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 1986), pp. 108-121.

17 Throckmorton to Queen Elizabeth, July 18, 1567, CSP Foreign Elizabeth 1566-68, p. 288.

18 Fraser, p. 343.

19 Fraser, p. 343.

20 See J. E. Phillips, Images of a Queen (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964), pp.

21 All quotations from Horestes are taken from the facsimile edition by Daniel Seltzer, The
Interlude of Vice (Horestes) (Oxford: Malone Society Reprints, 1962). My edition with J.
Anne George (Galway: National University Press of Ireland) is forthcoming.

22 F. P. Wilson, The English Drama 1485-1585 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1969), p. 144.

23 Wilson, p. 144 and Phillips, p. 46. See also J. E. Phillips, "A Revaluation of Horestes
(1567)," Huntington Library Quarterly 18 (1955): 227-244. One problem with assuming
identity between the two is that the Revels records list payments for a number of sets,
houses actually, which do not appear in the printed text we have, though that text has
extensive stage directions.

24 Wilson, p. 144.

25 Davison, pp. 78-79, Fraser, p. 352.

26 Letter from James to Elizabeth, G. P. V. Akrigg, ed. Letters of King James P7a/j^/(Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1984), p. 83.

27 Akrigg, p. 76.

28 Akrigg, p. 76.

29 Akrigg, p. 78.

30 Akrigg, p. 82.

31 Akrigg, pp. 84-85.

32 Jordan, p. 451.

Shakespeare's Last Humanist


1 he personage I refer to in my title is Polonius, the long-winded chief
counsellor at the Danish court in Elsinore. It is somewhat odd that
criticism does not place him in the humanist role more often, since, as I
hope to show, he fits it disconcertingly well. But if the fit is disconcerting,
that would explain its not being commonly asserted. In the long debate
over just what to make of Polonius, no one has proposed that he is a truly
respectable character, and critics are not to be blamed if they do not wish
to see him as a precursor of themselves. This paper does not propose that
he is respectable, either, and if I make him something like a humanist
shoe, modem-day humanists are not obliged to wear it. But to the bundle
of things that Polonius does for this play - as foil for Hamlet, as comic
relief, as atmospheric figure to help set the tone of Hamlet's world, as a
sadly ordinary person caught up in events too large for his mediocrity -
I want to add one thing more. He is also representative of a whole manner
of thinking of which the play is aware and which it examines critically.
Polonius is a courtier, a father, a counsellor, an intriguer, a literary critic,
and a fool; he is also a humanist - or to be more precise, he is a
recognizable version of the kind of man that a humanist training was
supposed to produce.

The moment at which this connection is most evident is Act I, scene iii,
when he sends Laertes off to France with some "precepts" that Laertes is
to "character" in his memory:

Give thy thoughts no tongue.
Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried.
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel.
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd courage. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee.

Renaisance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 1 (1990) 37

38 / Renaissance and Reformation

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.

Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy.

But not express'd in fancy, rich not gaudy.

For the apparel oft proclaims the man.

And they in France of the best rank and station

Are of a most select and generous chief in that.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

For loan oft loses both itself and friend.

And borrowing dulleth th' edge of husbandry.

This above all: to thine own self be true.

And it must follow, as the night the day.

Thou canst not then be false to any man. (1.3.59-80)^

The modem tendency is to find these precepts unimpressive. Harry Levin
laughs at them as "etiquette rather than ethics" - and productions of the
play will often help us laugh by making Laertes fidget while his father
recites them. One production, earlier this century, had Polonius pull a little
book out of his pocket and read the precepts from it, demonstrating by
stage business that they are not to be "charactered" in memory, since even
the man who preaches them does not have them charactered in his. But
this matter of "charactering" in the memory is a good bit more serious than
that The metaphor is from the standard schoolboy enterprise of keeping
commonplace books. The pupil made up a quire of blank pages and
apportioned them among a number of predetermined general headings.
Whenever he encountered a passage in his daily reading that could be lifted
from its context and placed under one of these general headings, he wrote
it down in this little book. Eventually, the book would fill with these
passages, or "places," and he would have produced his own manual of
useful and elegant quotations. His primary use for these was to spice up
his own writing, but theory held that he was also storing his memory with
them. And since they were common precepts, good on a wide variety of
occasions, the pupil would naturally combine them with experience from
his own life; they would give that experience shape, and the combination
of precept and experience would make him wise, fit to give counsel and
regulate affairs. Laertes's mind, therefore, is a commonplace book, and
Polonius is offering a few choice precepts to write down in it Represented
in this moment is one of the fundamental transactions of humanist
education: the transfer of sage generality from an authoritative source to
oneself, and the storing of the memory therewith.

Renaissance et R��forme / 39

Two scenes later, this same idea shows up in a radically different context,
and prepared for it as we are by Polonius and Laertes, we are able to catch
its resonance. Hamlet's suspicions of foul play and infidelity have been
confirmed by the ghost, whose parting words to Hamlet are "Remember
me." "Remember thee!" cries Hamlet to no one in particular,

Yea, from the table of ray raeraory

111 wipe away all trivial fond records,

All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past

That youth and observation copied there,

And thy commandement all alone shall live

Within the book and volume of my brain,

Unmix'd with baser matter. (1.5.97-104)

All the commonplaces of his former instruction, reading, and experience
are now to be cancelled, sponged out, placed under erasure; in their place,
one precept only: "one may smile, and smile, and be a villain" (1.5.108).
This shall be the master commonplace - indeed, the only commonplace for
any context Hamlet now occupies, for he is sure, "at least" that his precept
"may be so in Denmark," and Denmark, as he later says, is now his "prison."
The stage direction which most modem editions interpolate here, which
has Hamlet actually write this precept down, is unnecessary and even
misleading. His memory is "book" enough, and having exchanged his old
memory for this new one, he is literally re-educated - and no longer in the
humanist mode.

The maxims of Polonius, on the other hand, are typically humanist. This
cannot reflect much credit on humanism for those who are unimpressed
with the maxims or with thinking in maxims. The "language of Polonius,"
as one critic has recently declared, is the language of "aphorism - the
popular sententiae of generalizations divorced from particular significance,
the verbal platitudes of phrase thinking.""^ I shall return to the matter of
"phrase thinking" presently, because humanism did a lot of it and it is
central to my argument It is enough to note now, however, that the modem
prejudice against such thinking tends to keep us from looking at how it
works. As for the actual content of the phrases, that, too, has met a mixed
reception. The majority view is disapproval. Edwajd Dowden, in the l^t
century, declared sadly that they were "not the outflow of a rich or deep
nature"; Derek Traversi finds in them a "spirit of courtly dissembling which
the speaker, in his position of tmsted, experienced authority, so weightily
upholds"; and Lynda Boose, quite recently, sums them up as a kind of
sinister mediocrity: "distmst everyone, be shrewd, be pmdential, always

40 / Renaissance and Reformation

stack the odds in your favour, and always cloak your real intentions."^ Levin
Schcking, on the other hand, describes them as "flashes of reason" that
actually "break the unity" of a character whose primary job in the play is
to be a self-assured fool. One could save the unity by treating the precepts
with irony, Schcking concedes, but that is a "most questionable exegetical
trick," especially in view of what he calls "the beauty of the thoughts." He
prefers to regard them as quasi-authorial gnomic outbursts, Shakespeare
himself speaking through his character in this one place, thus satisfying
"the demand of the time that a tragedy should be sententious."^ This may
seem an exegetical trick even more questionable than invoking irony, but
Josephine Waters Bennett has shown that these precepts would certainly
have been recognized as gnomic wisdom. They seem to have been taken
from a letter of Isocrates, a Latin translation of which was used as a standard
text and source of commonplace gathering by the first and second forms
of Elizabethan schools. They would not only have been recognized, she
argues, but would have been recognized as kids' stuff Elizabethans, she
thinks, would have laughed at the grave old counsellor reciting saws for
seven-year-olds.^ G. K. Hunter points out, however, that maxims just like
these were appearing in several printed works coming out around this time,
and in those contexts, there could be no question that they were meant
seriously. We might think that the Elizabethans should have laughed at
them, but he sees no reason to suppose that they did.^ And recently, Mytili
Kaul has shown that they do not differ much from what Bacon thought
worth setting down in his essay "Of Simulation and Dissimulation." It is
not the maxims themselves that make Polonius a fool, she argues, but "the
obvious incongruity or disproportion" between his utterance and what he
is applying it to.^ I find these latter views convincing. Whether or not we
find the maxims impressive, they are an accurate enough portrayal of
humanist teachings to make Polonius, fool or no fool, a representative of
the standard schooling.

When Polonius begins to query his daughter, we get an idea of how this
standard schooling worked in practice. One examines a situation and then
fits it to whatever maxims seem best to correspond to it. Polonius knows
from common hearsay that princes of the blood do not always tell truth
when they speak of love, but he knows more than that. He has a neat,
metaphorical grasp on the whole general principle of such behavior

I do know.
When the blood bums, how prodigal the soul
Lends the tongue vows. These blazes, daughter.

Renaissance et R��forme / 41

Giving more light than heat, extinct in both
Even in their promise, as it is a-making,
You must not take for fire. (1.3.115-120)

And because he grasps the principle, he can configure the present situation
within another metaphor:

Do not believe his vows, for they are brokers.
Not of that dye which their investments show.
But mere implorators of unholy suits.
Breathing like sanctified and pious bonds.
The better to beguile. (1.3.127-131)

The mind thus works from the specific situation to the maxim that covers
it, and then back to the specific situation, which it now confidently grasps
in metaphor, thus rendering it fully understood.

As a process, this does not differ markedly from what we call scientific
thinking, for a situation is made an instance of a general law, and the law,
once invoked, explains the situation. The thing that is different, and
enormously so, is the quality of the covering maxims. The difference is huge
between an evaluative metaphor and a scientific law. Both are instruments
of understanding, but the metaphor - or the flat maxim which a metaphor
may express and vivify - has a different relation to a competing metaphor
than does a scientific law to a competing scientific law. Two competing
scientific laws cannot both be true; if one is verified, it is set down alone
in the book of wisdom, and the other one is discarded and forgotten. If one
can find a law which does apply to a situation, one can be sure that no
other law will displace it. With metaphors and maxims, on the other hand,
this is not the case. The same page of the same book of wisdom can say
both that "haste is waste" and that "a stitch in time saves nine," yet each
of these propositions seems absolute when invoked, and each seems to have
the force of law. The great problem with "phrase thinking" is that when
one finds a phrase which seems plausible to think, it may not be the right
one. It may turn out, in fact, that a totally contradictory phrase was the right
one, and nothing in one's phrase training, per se, could have chosen between
the two. This was a matter which humanist educatign did not handle weM.
It supplied maxims, but it could not regulate their use.

Polonius himself gives a splendid instance of what this problem entailed.
By Act II, Hamlet is behaving strangely, providing new phenomena for
evaluative maxims to cover. So long as Hamlet was behaving like an
ordinary seducing prince, Polonius is confident that love is not involved.

42 / Renaissance and Reformation

But new behavior demands new maxims, and when he hears that Hamlet
appeared before Ophelia

with his doublet all unbrac'd.
No hat upon his head, his stockins fouled,
Ungart'red, and down-gyved to his ankle,
Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other.
And with a look so piteous in purport
As if he had been loosed out of hell
To speak of horrors (2.1.75-81)

his conclusion is instant. "Mad for thy love?" - it seems the only hypothesis,
in view of the fact that Ophelia had denied Hamlet access to her.

I am sorry that with better heed and judgment

I had not coted him. I fear'd he did but trifle

And meant to wrack thee, but beshrow my jealousy!

By heaven, it is as proper to our age

To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions.

As it is common for the younger sort

To lack discretion. (2.1.108-1 14)

First, we should note that he has changed his maxim:

This is the very ecstasy of love.
Whose violent property fordoes itself.
And leads the will to desperate undertakings
As oft as any passions under heaven
That does afflict our natures. (2.1.99-103)

Second, he is aware that he has changed his maxim, and he finds that
troubling. But third - and this makes everything all right again - he has
another maxim to explain his wrong choice of maxim. It is a known
property, after all, of men his age to "cast beyond" themselves in their
opinion - just as, and in the same way, it is a property of youth to lack
discretion. Tidiness has now returned to his thoughts, and all the phenom-
ena, including his own mistake, are now covered; things are understood. It
is a neat example of humanist thinking - not at its very best, to be sure,
but representative of how it works and what its pitfalls are. Polonius is now
certain, and though we know more than he, and may therefore regard his
certainty with ironic amusement, we might note that given the state of his

Renaissance et R��forme / 43

knowledge, nothing in his method is really wrong. He is doing what he was
trained to do, and, alas for him, circumstances will not bear him out.

At this point, certainty in hand, Polonius is ready to present his findings
to the king and queen. The focus now shifts from methods of discovering
the truth to methods of presenting it. This, as we remember from the play,
requires an oration. If the maxims of Act I have met a mixed reception,
among the critics, the oration by Polonius in Act II has not. By general
agreement it is folly; disagreement is only over what the folly points to.
Here, it is useful to follow what the older commentators made of it.
Warburton saw the oration scene as a neat expos�� of elaborate presenta-
tions: "a fine satire," he calls it, "on the impertinent oratory then in vogue,
which placed reason in formality of method, and wit in the gingle and play
of words."^^ Samuel Johnson, however, did not think that Warburton went
far enough. The "part of his character" which satirized the social practice
of oratory "is accidental," Johnson says, "the rest is natural."

Such a man is positive and confident, because he knows that his mind
was once strong, and knows not that it has become weak Such a man
excels in general principles, but fails in the particular application. He is
knowing in retrospect, and ignorant in foresight While he depends upon
his memory, and can draw from his repositories of knowledge, he utters
weighty sentences, and gives useful counsel; but as the mind in its
enfeebled state cannot be kept long busy and intent, the old man is
subject to sudden dereliction of his faculties, he loses the order of his
ideas, and entangles himself in his own thoughts, till he recovers the
leading principle, and falls again into his former train. The idea of dotage
encroaching upon wisdom, will solve all the phaenomena of the char-
acter of Polonius.^ ^

Johnson saw a deep and general human sadness in Polonius and gave full
credit to Shakespeare for seeing it, too. He transfers our attention from the
social practice of presentation oratory to a personal struggle which Polonius
is having, and which, though personal, is something all humanity must
share. Caldecott, in 1810, sees the personal struggle, but is not convinced
of its general sadness. He is not sure there ever was an intellect or
competency in Polonius to be extinguished: "the very quality relied upon
by Dr. Johnson," he says, "appears to us that which most strongly indicates
imbecility of mind, viz. having the memory stored with sage rules and
maxims, fit for every turn and occasion, without the faculty of making
effective use of them upon any.'' We may note that the problem of maxims,
which I think was originally meant as a reflection on humanist training

44 / Renaissance and Reformation

generally, has become for Caldecott simply an index of personal debility.
A half century later, the Rev. C. E. Moberly added the modest reminder
that "the use of language like that of Polonius" did not "argue the complete
folly that it would at the present time." "The present time" had forgotten
what humanism was all about and had foreshortened Polonius into a
particular imbecile, rather than a representative one, discarding whatever
general or social moral his folly might have meant.

Moberly is right; but in just what way does Polonius's oratory reflect on
the training that promoted it? Let it first be said that Polonius has reason
to be proud of himself for solving the Hamlet mystery. Of course his solution
is inadequate, but we know a lot of things he does not know, and we cannot
assume that if he had our knowledge he would have maintained the opinion
he now has. The problem, here, is not his lack of knowledge but the standard
practice of separating the discovery of knowledge from its exposition. The
strategies of these two mental processes were very different. Once one
"knew" something, one's job was to cast all doubt aside and to give it the
airtight exposition of absolute truth. Exposition was as much for presenting
certainty itself as for presenting matter for which certainty was claimed.
One sorted out one's matter into its elements, ironed out all possible
contradictions, and reassembled the whole into a synthetic concord. If
maxim-based security is inadequate, argued and arranged maxim-based
security is inadequacy compounded.

The elements of the Polonian solution are simple: remove the object of
a man's affection, and the vital spirits within, having no channels of release,
will overflow and create insanity. Ophelia, in this case, is the object; her
removal from Hamlet caused his madness. Two more things about the
situation need explaining: first, that Ophelia really was the object of
Hamlet's affections - and for this Polonius produces Hamlet's letter to her
and reads it with a flourish; second, that removing her was an appropriate
thing to do, given that it led to such a disastrous outcome - and for this
Polonius defends himself as one well versed in the importance of keeping
distinction between princes and subjects. Upon this armature, Polonius
composes a small oration complete with proem, narratio, refutatio, and

The oration is not delivered in a polished or even competent fashion,
and that, rather than the oration itself, is the source of Polonius's silliness.
His attention wanders from the point on several occasions, and there is
major ironic discrepancy between his grand gestures of certainty and what
we know about the situation he claims so well to understand. Wandering
attention makes Polonius a fool, but the discrepancy can be laid upon the

Renaissance et R��forme / 45

limitations of what he has been trained to do. Thinking of this kind is the
going thing, after all, and if it does not work, that problem seems to be a
general theme of this play. Hamlet is the tragedy of the going thing that
does not work.

I should mention two other aspects of Polonius which place him as a
representative of humanist training: his claim to be a shrewd judge of
literature and style, and his interest in being a clever intriguer. It might
seem odd to put those two together, since the one is associated with
schoolmasters and the other with ambitious, would-be Machiavels, but in
the careers at least of Gabriel Harvey and Francis Bacon the two interests
were found together. The parallels are not perfect, for Bacon was not the
kind of man to stand behind arrases and Harvey never got the chance. Both
men were stylists; however, both believed that the well-trained speaker could
master the affairs of men, and both were proved wrong by events.^"* Bacon,
at least, believed in the cunning art of "indirections fmd[ing] directions out"
(2.1.63), a version of which, translated out of politics and into natural
history, became Bacon's contribution to the history of science.^ ^ It should
be noted, as an aside, that when the play comes to the matter of literature
and style, it takes an interesting twist: Polonius is now the modem and
Hamlet the old-fashioned humanist. Hamlet responds to the Player King's
words with tears in his eyes, like humanism's perfect pupil, the words having
touched him as humanist doctrine always promised words would do.
Polonius responds to the words as grammatical entities and bits of a lexicon;
if Hamlet is the old-fashioned pupil (for the moment), Polonius is the
typical teacherly sort of humanism's latter days: expertise in language, for
him, has become its own reward.

Polonius, then, is Shakespeare's last humanist. He is as silly as
Holofemes, the schoolmaster oî Love's Labors Lost, but vastly more impor-
tant. He is snapped up in events too big for him, like Cinna the Poet in
Julius Caesar}^ And, in a way more grimly funny than tragic, he is as futile
as Brutus, that hero of so many humanist diatribes, whose attempt to make
the world an image of his speech so signally fails. But if Polonius is a
representative of humanist training, so what? How would that make a
difference in reading the play?

First, and most obviously, we would not read Polonius as an absolute
fool, though that, by itself, cannot matter much. But if we see in his folly
the built-in limitations of the way in which Renaissance intellectuals were
trained, we have some interesting things to think about. For if there is one
salient characteristic of humanist training, it is its confidence. Humanists
were confident that the authorities from which they had their maxims were

46 / Renaissance and Reformation

both relevant and wise. It bred confidence to have a situation and a maxim
come clicking together in the mind, and if that maxim had metaphorical
vividness, the confidence was compounded, because the transforming
power of metaphor tends to totalize: once a metaphor is set going, all nearby
phenomena are drawn into its force-field. Then there were the modes of
exposition, which transmitted confidence at least as much as they transmit-
ted actual information. All this worked very well, so long as situations were
not strange. But Hamlet, of course, sets up a strange situation, and under
the stress of this strangeness, the limitations of this confidence become
glaringly clear.

What happens in Hamlet is that the confident minds are mediocre and
that their mediocrity is a function of their confidence. This insight, however,
is given several additional twists. First, the play presents no positive systems
or procedures that we can think are better than humanism; the better minds
are marked only by their negative capabilities. "O day and night," cries
Horatio, "but this is wondrous strange!" "And therefore," replies Hamlet,
"as a stranger give it welcome" (1.5.164-5). Second, though confidence and
mediocrity are severely punished in this play, cunning and negative insight
do not fare that much better. The price for refusing to be confidently wise
is to wind up accepting a world of no distinctions whatever, where the guts
of Julius Caesar - or Polohius - are all the same to the worm that eats them.
And third, at the end of the play Hamlet enjoins Horatio to stay alive in
this meaningless world so as to tell Hamlefs story properly. The world
means nothing at all, perhaps, but Horatio is to take on a humanist's role
anyway, the task of rightly charactering the memories of those who come
after. Hamlet seems here to think that it makes a difference to have this
done and that Horatio will do it properly. Humanism, so rudely ushered
out the front door of this play, has crept in at the side window. To see
Polonius simply as a fool, then, is to relax one's focus on this tangled web
of humanist enterprises and the assumptions and practices they are based
on. Why relax one's focus on something so interesting as this? To my mind,
at least, there is more payoff from seeing Polonius as a representative
humanist than from making him mere geriatric comic relief.

University of Washington


1 All citations from The Riverside Shakespeare, ed G. Blakemore Evans, et al. (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1974).

2 The Question of Hamlet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959), p. 25.

Renaissance et R��forme / 47

3 Mentioned by Levin L. Schcking, Character Problems in Shakespeare's Plays (New York:
Henry Holt, 1922), p. 105.

4 Lynda Boose, "The Fashionable Poloniuses," Hamlet Studies 1 (1979), 76.

5 Dowden is quoted by Josephine Waters Bennett, "Characterization in Polonius's Advice
to Laertes," Shakespeare Quarterly 4 (1953): 3, n.l; Derek Traversi, An Approach to
Shakespeare, 2nd ed. (New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1956), p. 86; Boose, p. 73.

6 Character Problems, pp. 103-09, passim.

7 Bennett, "Characterization," as cited note 5.

8 Hunter, "Isocrates' Precepts and Polonius' Character," Shakespeare Quarterly 8 (1957):

9 Kaul, "Hamlet and Polonius," Hamlet Studies 2 (1980), 15-16.

10 Quoted by Arthur Sherbo, ��d., Johnson on Shakespeare, The Yale Edition of Samuel
Johnson, vol VIII (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1968), p. 973.

11 Ed. Sherbo, p. 974.

12 Quoted by Horace Howard Fumess, ��d., Hamlet, 2 vols (1877), A New Variorum Edition
of Shakespeare, vols 3 and 4 (repr. New York: American Scholar Publications, 1965), I,

13 Quoted Fumess, I, 136.

14 Harvey, sometime Cambridge professor of Rhetoric and would be "politique," never rose
to the eminence for which he thought himself qualified. For Bacon see the brilliant article
by F. J. Levy, "Francis Bacon and the Style of Politics," English Literary Renaissance, 16
(1986): 101-122, which not only tells the story of the moment when Bacon, in Parliament,
actually tried to play the role of decisive humanist orator (only to fail and nearly derail
his career), but argues that the style of his 1597 Essays may be seen as a deliberate attempt,
in the realm of prose style, to reject the ideals of humanism as naive.

15 Bacon's idea of inductive method, in The New Organon, was to approach the explanation
of phenomena not directly, with received ideas in mind, but indirectly, by observation
only, waiting for the ideas that genuinely control them to suggest themselves.

16 Cinna the poet's little episode does not amount to much in the play, but it is an ironic
reflection on the high-toned humanist notion that poets speak to nations, shape their
destinies, and define the virtues of their people.

'Now Shall I See the Fall of Babylon':
The Spanish Tragedy as a Reformation
Play of Daniel


Uuring the sixteenth century, the Book of Revelation served as the primary
theological source for Reformation attacks on the Pope as Antichrist and
the Roman Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon, the tyrannical
enslaver of the beleaguered Protestants, who were compared to the Israelites
during the Babylonian captivity imposed by King Nebuchadnezzar. Al-
though not as popular a subject for interpretation as Revelation, which
received eighteen commentaries,^ the Book of Daniel was given an impor-
tant supporting role by Protestant reformers such as Joye, Calvin,
Broughton, and Brightman in the creation of a body of apocalyptic exegesis
"calling for . . . divine judgment on the present powers of the world and their
overthrow by the heavenly armies that will install on earth the true city of
God."^ Throughout the Reformation, the prophecies contained in Daniel
2 and 5 and in Revelation 14:8, 17:5, 18:2, 10, 21 were invoked to predict
the fall of Babylon, the city ruled by the Antichrist and most frequently
identified as Rome and Spain.

In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream which he has forgotten,
and so he orders his soothsayers to reconstruct and interpret it. When they
fail, Daniel, with the help of God who reveals "this secret . . . mystery in a
vision,"^ describes and interprets the King's dream of a composite beast -
with a golden head, silver breast and arms, brazen belly and thighs, and
iron legs - which is smashed by a stone. The four metals represent four
empires (Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome) which will rule the world and
be overturned successively until the last and worst, Rome, will be defeated
by Christ's kingdom "which shal never be destroyed.'"*

Chapter five presents the most dramatic scene in the Book of Daniel
when Belshazzar, the last of the Babylonian monarchs, holds a drunken
feast during which the fingers of a man's hand appear and write on the

Renaisance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 1 (1990) 49

50 / Renaissance and Reformation

wall four words which no one can understand. Again, Daniel interprets the
mystery, explicating each of the four words which predict that Babylon will
fall to the Persians (5:25-28). That night Daniel's interpretation is fulfilled
when Belshazzar is slain and Babylon conquered by Darius - acts which
prefigure the overthrow of the evil empire of Rome: "In the destruccion of
the first Monarchye leme the figure of the destruccion of the . . . last
Monarchye ... for right just causes" (Joye 64v).

In the final chapter of Daniel after the angel reveals the vision of the
Last Judgment when "[some] people shal awake ... to everlasting life, and
some to shame and perpetual contempt" (12:1-2, 365v), he tells Daniel to
"shut up the wordes, and scale the boke til the end of . . . time" (12:4). When
Daniel asks for more information, the angel replies that "the wordes are . . .
sealed [and] . . . none of the wicked shal have understanding: but the wise
shal understand" (12:10).

For Protestant reformers the sealing of the prophetic truths in a book
after they already have been declared serves as a metaphor for religious
mysteries which are revealed to the initiated audience, namely, the Protes-
tant faithful, and at the same time concealed from the uninitiated or profane
audience of Catholics. George Joye is emphatic about the differences in
understanding between the two audiences: "To shut up the wordis and seal
... the boke is to hyde . . . wordis and secrets from the ungodly filthy swine
and dogges that thei understand them not — To you [the elect] is geven to
know but not to them" (238r). Thomas Brightman concludes that the
command to seal the truths is actually an incentive to the faithful to strive
to understand these mysteries because "seeing by their goodly labour and
diligence, God doth make over to the godly all his mysteries and secrets."^
Thus for the initiated, those who can interpret the mysteries, the pose of
secrecy at the conclusion of Daniel can be seen as a literary fiction; however,
these same truths remain concealed from the unbelievers, as Calvin
declares, "because they seying would not see: and it is as if one should
reach unto them a booke that were ... in a straunge . . . toung."^

In their praise of the consolation afforded the faithful by the Book of
Daniel, the commentators place the work within a dramatic context.
Brightman says reading Daniel is like seeing a play in which "the lovelie
face of... truth... [is] brought upon the stage in open view" (10), while
Calvin praises "the goodnes of God that shyneth forth in the end of the
tragedy" (A4r). Joye applies the theatrical metaphor to the Book of Daniel
in a manner similar to the context created by Hieronimo's revenge
play-within-the-play when the intended victims are killed for real while they
imagine they are acting in a marriage playlet: "cryst is even now preparinge

Renaissance et R��forme / 51

these judgement seatis ... to destroy these wicked Anticrysten homes ... for
this is . . . the ende of this tragedye — thus go they [the wicked] out of their
playe even when thei thinke to be but in middis of their matter" (llOv).

In their comparisons of Daniel to a play, the commentators draw upon
the tradition of dramatizing scenes from the Book of Daniel, which
originated in the liturgical celebration of the Ordo Prophetarum and
continued in the twelfth century with Hilarius' Historia de Daniel
Repraesentanda and the Beauvais Danielis Ludus. Throughout the Reforma-
tion, dramatizations of episodes from Daniel and apocryphal stories of
Daniel's rescuing Susanna from the calumny of the elders and outwitting
the priests of Bel were given political import. Robert Gamier, whose Roman
tragedy Comelie Kyd translated, wrote Les Juijves, trag��die (Paris, 1583), in
which he compares the turmoil resulting from Nebuchadnezzar's pride to
the horrors of the French civil wars caused by the replacement of God with
intestine sects.^ In The Comody Of the most vertuous and Godlye Susanna
(1578), Thomas Garter equates Daniel's vindication of Susanna with the
divine preservation of Queen Elizabeth and England:

D��fende her [Elizabeth]

Lorde in all affayres, . . .
And to her noble counsayle . . .

give wisedome and . . .
Graunt that they . . . may . . .

mende the common welth.^

Thus when Kyd wrote The Spanish Tragedy, there existed dual traditions
of dramatic representation and Protestant exegesis of the Book of Daniel
with which at least some segments of his audience would have been familiar.
It is my contention that Kyd conceived of The Spanish Tragedy as a
sixteenth-century play of Daniel intended to represent to English audiences
the fall of Babylon-Spain. The Spanish Tragedy parallels the Book of Daniel
in Kyd's presentation of three plays-within-the-play that are identified as
mysteries with covert political and eschatological meanings understood
only by the initiated (I.i.90; Liv.139; III.xv.29); and in Hieronimo's achieve-
ment of revenge in a climactic playlet which is analogous to Belshazzar's
feats in Daniel 5. In short. The Spanish Tragedy is a mystery play in which
Hieronimo, the Danielle figure, the judge, the bearer of the sacred name
Qiieros nym\ Anglophile representative of God's will at the court of
Babylon-Spain, author, actor, and revenger, creates the Spanish tragedy and
the English comedy.

52 / Renaissance and Reformation

The most illustrative example of a play-within-a-play being defined as a
mystery occurs at I.iv.l39 when Hieronimo presents the historical masque
to the assembled Iberian dignitaries. After its completion, the Spanish King
says "Hieronimo this masque contents mine eye, / Although I sound not
well the mystery."^ Hieronimo responds that the playlet has shown three
historical events when England defeated Portugal (twice) and Spain (once),
whereupon the Spanish King and Portuguese ambassador apply these
events to the current context of Spain's defeat of Portugal. The King says
that the sting of Portugal's recent defeat should be somewhat lessened by
its awareness of its past defeats by England, but the Portuguese represen-
tative ironically reminds Spain that it too has lost to England in the past

Hieronimo's historical masque raises an important question concerning
the interpretation of symbolic dramatic productions. Ostensibly, he has
presented the masque to celebrate the Spanish victory, but each historical
incident shows England conquering the Iberian countries. As Eugene Hill
has explained, the Elizabethan theater audiences were expected to recognize
that the Iberian interpretations of the masque are inadequate, because they
apply past events to their current reality and ignore the celebration of
England's triumphs:

For the Spanish King "little England" ... is peripheral to the meaning of
the dumb show; but to the English audience it is the central agent of the

dumb show - and of The Spanish Tragedy Hieronimo with his playlet

. . . hints at . . . English dominance. ^^

The real mystery of the masque - its hidden political meaning - escapes
the blinded onstage audience but not Kyd's theater audiences who would
interpret the mystery from the English perspective.

The historical masque serves as proleptic to Hieronimo's revenge playlet
ostensibly intended to celebrate the marriage of Bel-imperia and Balthazar,
the dynastic union of Spain and Portugal, but actually directed toward the
accomplishment of his revenge. The ill-fated marriage feast at which the
murderous "Soliman-Perseda" playlet is enacted parallels Belshazzar's feats
during which the fall of Babylon is prophesied by the mysterious handwrit-
ing on the wall. Just as Daniel prophesied the fall of Babylon in his
interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the metallic beast and the
enigmatic writing at Belshazzar's feast, so too Hieronimo proclaims, before
the performance of the revenge playlet, the destined fall of England's
Catholic rival Spain: "Now shall I see the fall of Babylon, / Wrought by

Renaissance et R��forme / 53

the heavens in this confusion" (IV.i. 195-96). However, unlike Daniel,
Hieronimo effects the fall when he creates the revenge playlet in which the
heirs to the Iberian thrones are killed.

When Hieronimo stipulates that the playlet shall be acted in four tongues
- Greek, Italian, Latin, and French - Balthazar rightly objects that "this
will be a mere confusion" (IV.i.180), ironically echoing Hieronimo's predic-
tion of Babylon-Spain's fall "wrought by the heavens in this confusion." S.
F. Johnson has demonstrated that Kyd conflates the Babylon reference into
a dual image of the fall of the Babylonian empire and the toppling of the
Tower of Babel, which resulted in the confusion (Babel-babble) of
tongues. ^^ As Peter Goodstein has noted. Prince Balthazar becomes an
analogue to King Belshazzar "who saw the incomprehensible handwriting
on the wall. Prince Balthazar calling the play-within-a-play 'a mere
confusion' that will hardly be understood is analogous to the Babylonian's
reaction to the words 'Men��, Men��, Tekel Upharsin.'"^^ But Hieronimo, the
Danielle Vmdicta Dei, is the decipherer of the confusion, the interpreter of
the mystery playlet with the hidden meanings. The contrast between
Danielic prophetic awareness and Babylonian confusion recalls Sheltco ��
Geveren's declaration that "Babylon received a fit name . . . because in her

there was made a confusion of tongues . . . and meere confusion in deede. .

The sundry tongues motif also establishes a sense of the passage of the
four doomed empires described in Daniel 2 and 7 as the Babylonian,
Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman. In The Spanish Tragedy Spain and
Portugal are considered collectively as the contemporary Babylon and are
represented by Lorenzo, Balthazar, and Castile, who are killed during and
immediately after the playlet. Within the playlet, Hieronimo speaks Greek,
and the Roman Empire and Catholic Church are represented by Lorenzo,
who speaks Latin, and Balthazar, who performs double duty, so to speak,
by speaking Italian and by playing the role of Soliman, the perfidious ruler
of Turkey, whom Kyd substitutes for the Danielic Persian empire. In
addition, Bel-imperia speaks French, the language of the Catholic country
that carried out the infamous massacre in Paris on St. Bartholomew's day
in 1572. Ironically, the attack on the French Huguenots was initiated during
the celebration of the marriage of the Protestant Henry of Navarre to
Marguerite de Valois, the daughter of Catherine de Medici, Queen mother
of France. Hieronimo hints that he will be turning the tables in his wedding
playlet after Lorenzo says that he has seen tragic plays enacted "In Paris,
'mongst the French tragedians" (IV.i. 168). Hieronimo ominously responds:
"In Paris? mass, and well remembered!" (169). The French tragedians, that

54 / Renaissance and Reformation

is, the Catholics, produced tragic consequences for the Huguenots, but now
Hieronimo, the Anglophile justice-figure, will produce tragic results for the
empires represented in the playlet.

Kyd indicates that England is the divinely-favored nation that will
succeed the fallen empires through the note directly before the enactment
of the playlet that "this play of Hieronimo in sundry languages, was thought
good to be set down in English . . . , for the easier understanding to every
public reader." The translation of the foreign languages into English
signifies the passage from Babylonian confusion to the clarity of English,
a process effected by God, "the most just translatour and changer of
realmes" (Joye 64r). As Eugene Hill has remarked: "The playlet is an
enacted pun on translation in different senses and different media. The real
'passing' involved in the translatio imperii - to England, to English" (163).
In Kyd's recreation of Pentecostal inspiration, Hieronimo, the namesake of
St. Hieronymus or Jerome, translates the foreign Catholic languages into
"our vulgar tongue" (IV.iv.75) of English.

After his explanation of his reasons for the vengeance exacted in the
playlet, Hieronimo bites out his tongue in allegiance to his vow of secrecy:
"But never shalt thou force me to reveal / The thing which I have vow'd
inviolate:" (187-88). In their insistence that Hieronimo reveal more about
the playlet even after he has explained its meanings to them, the Iberian
audience members serve as graphic examples of the uninitiated who

were so blinded, that in seeing they should not see If any man say,

read thys, he will say the booke is sealed, I cannot: or let the booke be
opened and all . . . shalbe as it were blynde — there is a covering cast
over their eyes . . . that they should be blinde in the most cleare light —
(Calvin 79v)

However, to the initiated theater audience, Hieronimo's "closing of the
book" is a signal to go beyond the ignorant onstage audience to an
understanding of the play's Danielle context

As the related subtexts reveal. The Spanish Tragedy is much more than a
blood revenge tragedy intended to attract Elizabethan audiences through
its gory and sensational actions. Rather it is a learned, apocalyptic, and
syncretistic mystery play, containing motifs which are concerned with the
simultaneous revelation and concealment of hidden political and eschato-
logical meanings. Moreover, these meanings are directly related to Kyd's
conception of The Spanish Tragedy as a Reformation play of Daniel in which
the sacred judge Hieronimo predicts and brings about the "fall of Babylon"

Renaissance et R��forme / 55

at a wedding celebration analogous to Belshazzar's feast and thus effects
the destiny announced by Revenge at the outset of the play.

University of Hawaii


1 Richard Bauckham, Tudor Apocalypse: Sixteenth-Century Apocalypticism, Millennarianism
and the English Reformation from John Bale to John Foxe and Thomas Brightman (Appleford,
England: Sutton Courtenay Press, 1978), p. 137.

2 Florence Sandler, "The Faerie Queene: An Elizabethan Apocalypse," 7%^ Apocalypse in
English Renaissance Thought and Literature: Patterns, Antecedents and Repercussions, eds. C.
A Patrides and Joseph Wittreich (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1984), p. 158.

3 George Joye, 77»^ exposicion of Daniel the Proph��te. . . (Geneva, 1545), f. 25r.

4 77»^ Geneva Bible: A Facsimile of the 1560 Edition, ed. Lloyd E. Berry (Madison, Wisconsin:
University of Wisconsin Press, 1%9), 2:44, f. 357r. All quotations of the Bible are from
this edition.

5 Thomas Brightman, A Most Comfortable Exposition . . . of Daniel. . . (Amsterdam, 1635), p.

6 John Calvin, Commentaries of that divine John Calvine, upon the Prophet Daniell, tr. Arthur
Golding (London, 1570), L 8r.

7 J. S. Street, French Sacred Drama From B��ze to Corneille: Dramatic Forms and Their Purposes
in the Early Modem Theatre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 80-84.

8 Thomas Garter, The Comody of the most vertuous and Godlye Susanna (Oxford: Malone
Society Reprint, 1936), 1434-36, sig. F3r.

9 Thomas Kyd, 77»^ Spanish Tragedy, ed. Philip Edwards (London: Methuen, 1959),
Liv.138-39; the play is cited parenthetically from this edition.

10 Eugene Hill, "Senecan and Vergilian Perspectives in The Spanish Tragedy, "" English Literary
Renaissance 15 (1985): 160.

11 S. F. Johnson, "The Spanish Tragedy, or Babylon Revisited," Essays on Shakespeare and
Elizabethan Drama in Honor of Hardin Craig, ed. Richard Hosley (Columbia, Missouri:
University of Missouri Press, 1962), p. 29.

12 Peter Goodstein, "Hieronimo's Destruction of Babylon," English Language Notes 3 (1966):

13 Sheltco �� Geveren, Of the End of this Worlde, and second comming of Christ . . . , tr. Thomas
Rogers (London, 1589), f. 36r.

The Influence of Theatre in
Rosso's Deposition


1 he artistic phenomenon known as Italian mannerism is commonly
divided into two stages: an early anti-classical style represented by the works
of Rosso Fiorentino, Pontormo and possibly Parmigianino, and a mature
or elegant phase represented by the paintings of Bronzino, Salviati and
Vasari. The anti-classical phase is often associated with a neurotic state of
mind, and the artists of the early cinquecento are seen as an "alienated

The charge of psychological disturbance has been directed particularly
at Rosso, beginning with Vasari's account of his life and continuing up to
the present This charge seems to have some validity, but it has also led to
the problem of bias: we are predisposed to think of his work as "neurotic."
Rosso's Vol terra Deposition of 1521 (Fig. 1) has received the most attention
of any of his works, and many scholars have focused on the painting's
"disturbed" aspects. Rather than emphasize this one element of Rosso's
work, I would like to entertain the notion that there were a variety of other
influences on Rosso which go further toward explaining the Deposition, and
that when seen in the light of these influences the painting is neither as
shocking nor as rebellious as we might think.

First, a point should be made regarding the original placement of the
Deposition. The painting was commissioned for the altar of a Franciscan
chapel of the True Cross, where it complemented the fresco cycles executed
there in the fifteenth century.^ One explanation for the fact that the figures
in the painting seem to cluster along the edges, as if trying to escape, is that
this is a mannerist device related to a sense of claustrophobia and the odd
juxtaposition of empty and crowded spaces. Another explanation is that
the cross itself is the subject of the painting, in keeping with the intended
setting. In this sense, as Hamburgh points out, Rosso's composition is
completely appropriate to the setting.^

Renaisance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 1 (1990) 57

58 / Renaissance and Reformation

Figure 1: Rosso Fiorentino. Descent from the Cross (Deposition). 1521
Panel, irx6V. Pinacoteca, Volterra. Credit: Alinari/
Art Resource.

Renaissance et R��forme / 59

More importantly, the quality of light has been cited to demonstrate
Rosso's radical and disturbed rejection of High Renaissance ideals. A harsh,
unnatural glare strikes the figures from the right and gives the scene a
certain dreamlike quality. In its original location, however, the painting was
lit by a window above and to the right, so that the Deposition actually
reflected and responded to the light of the chapel."^ In other words, the
setting itself had a strong influence on the artist in terms of both composi-
tion and lighting.

Another possible influence has been mentioned by Eugene Carroll, who
points out that in Rosso's The Marriage of the Virgin, painted two years later
than the Deposition, the costumes, the setting, the theatrical lighting and the
huge crowd of spectators are extremely stagey in comparison to earlier
treatments of the subject.^ My own research suggests that this theatricality
may have its roots in actual religious plays of the cinquecento and can also
be seen in some of Rosso's other paintings.

In Renaissance Italy, various types of theatre flourished under the
patronage of the nobility.^ Performances continued to take place in the
streets on many occasions, but the permanent stage was also developing
into its modem form. Early in the cinquecento, the stage space was quite
shallow despite growing interest in realistic effects of perspective.^ Stage
designer Sebastiano Serlio described a common practice of locating the
front of the stage platform at eye level to the audience; the upstage floor
was then constructed with a standard degree of upward slope, so that the
actors and scenery were given maximum visibility.^

Great attention was paid to the quality and direction of light and to
special atmospheric effects. In his seventeenth-century manual for stage
design, Nicola Sabbattini advocated a method of lighting scenes
predominantly from one side or the other in order to throw dramatic
shadows.^ To heighten this effect, the scenery itself was painted as if lit
from the same side as the actual lighting. ^^

It was also the fashion, since the late quattrocento, to stage exceedingly
elaborate religious productions and to concentrate on scenes with compli-
cated engineering problems.^ ^ Stage machinery allowed angels to fly across
the stage, men to bum in hell, and lightning and thunder to rage quite

While theatre of the cinquecento often had a mythological content,
religious productions also continued throughout Europe. Various types of
"tableaux vivants" portrayed biblical scenes in a way that is, in a sense,
halfway between painting and theatre. These "show pictures" incorporated
living actors into three dimensional scenes within religious street festivals. ^^

60 / Renaissance and Reformation

Each city had its own important festivals: in Florence, the story of the three
Magi was acted out each year in the feast of the Epiphany,^-' and
performances are said to have influenced contemporary paintings of the

Productions such as the Florentine Epiphany also fall into the category
of "sacre rappresentazioni," religious plays which were characterized by
intense naturalism and immediacy. The annual Roman Passion Play was
particularly known for its realistic effects: a fifteenth-century eyewitness
recorded his impressions of the spectacle and described how even the
scourging and the crucifixion were portrayed on stage.^^ Since artists of the
time were attempting to portray on canvas the same scenes played out on
stage, it seems likely that these performances often inspired the artists.^^

A definite link between painting and theatre can be established in the
area of sets and costumes. Mantegna, for instance, is said to have been
involved in theatrical design, theatre being the favorite entertainment of his
patrons, the Gonzagas.^^ Raphael is known to have designed scenery for a
comedy production for Leo X,^^ while Vasari, Primaticchio, and Filippino
Lippi designed theatrical costumes,^^ as did Rosso himself, although not
until the 1530's when he was at Fontainebleau.^^

Clearly there was a flow of artistic work from painting to theatre; there
was no doubt a corresponding flow from theatre to painting. Weisz
repeatedly points out the theatrical quality of the sixteenth-century frescoes
at the oratory of S. Giovanni DecoUato in Rome,^^ and ties between the
arts may have been particularly strong in Florence where artists and writers
from various professions seem to have known one another.^^ Costume
historians have noted instances of dress in paintings being derived from
theatrical costumes,^^ and in at least two cases entire paintings are thought
to depict theatrical performances. In a miniature painting, Jean Fouquet
recorded a performance oï the Martyrdom of St. Apollonia (Fig. 2); the four
figures in the foreground hold a cartouche which advertises the mysteiy
play about to be performed, while in the background the placement of seats
for the audience is further evidence that the painting portrays an actual
theatrical event.^"^ In fact, this painting has been an important source of
information in studies of medieval theatre.

The angel choir in Botticelli's Mystical Nativity (Fig. 3), dated 1501, has
been traced to the machinery created by Brunelleschi to stage the miracle
of the Annunciation at a Florentine church.^^ This motif of the angels
holding hands beneath the dome of heaven corresponds to Vasari's
description of Brunelleschi's invention. In northern Europe a similar
exchange of ideas seems to have taken place, as demonstrated by the

Renaissance et R��forme / 61

Figure 2: Jean Fouquet. Martyrdom of St. Apollonia.
From The Hours of Etienne Chevalier
1452-56. Mus��e Cond��, Chantilly.
Credit: Giraudon/Art Resource.

62 / Renaissance and Reformation

Figure 3: Sandro Botticelli. Mystic Nativity. 1500. Canvas,

43 3/4" X 29 1/2". National Gallery, London. Reproduced
by courtesy of the Trustees, The National Gallery, London.

Renaissance et R��forme / 63

Annunciation scene in Grunewald's Isenheim Altarpiece (Fig. 4); the cur-
tains behind the Virgin are thought to refer to medieval dramatizations of
the event.^^

Jacopo Pontormo, with whom Rosso was associated in the second decade
of the cinquecento, may also have been strongly influenced by the theatre.
Cooper has argued that the fresco identified by Vasari as Vertumnus and
Pomona, at Poggio a Caiano, "was inspired by The Two Friendly Rivals of
Jacopo Nardi and is in fact a memorial to Leo's brother, Giuliano (de'
Medici). "^^ There is also solid evidence that both Pontormo and Rosso were
directly involved in theatre during the early period when the Deposition was
painted. In 1515, the city of Florence was decorated for the visit of Pope
Leo X; wooden triumphal arches were stuccoed and painted all along the
procession route, and Rosso and Pontormo were among the artists who
helped decorate these outdoor props.^^

At any rate, direct involvement would not have been necessary for Rosso
to have been influenced by theatre. Even if he did not actively seek out and
attend performances, he could hardly have failed to notice the theatrical
events in the streets of Florence. The main evidence for a theatrical
influence is in Rosso's paintings themselves, beginning with The Assumption
of the Virgin (Fig. 5) of about 1517.

We have seen that Botticelli used the theatrical motif of the angel choir
in his Mystical Nativity, and Rosso picked up the same motif in his painting:
the ring of angels holding hands does not seem to have any other precedent
in painting.^^ Rosso also introduced another motif which lacks an exact
precedent and which could easily have been derived from theatre: he made
the "bold" move of letting the drapery of one of the apostles extend over
the frame.^^ This has been seen as one of Rosso's attempts at rebellion,
because such a device would not ordinarily have occurred in a High
Renaissance painting,^^ but the idea of a theatrical origin seems just as
likely. The effect is not of drapery falling over a frame; the center apostle
is standing further forward than the other figures, and the extension of his
robe suggests the existence of an edge at the picture plane, just as the lip
of the stage runs along the "picture plane" of the proscenium.

Rosso repeats this motif in the Deposition, but here the reference to theatre
seems much more emphatic. A "lip" is clearly visible running along the
bottom of the painting, and not only the robe of the St. John figure extends
past the picture plane: the toes of the Virgin are actually bent down over
this edge, establishing the edge as having solidity and flatness in a scene
which supposedly takes place on a hill outside the city.

64 / Renaissance and Reformation

Figure 4: Matthias Grtlnewald. Annunciation.
From the Isenheim Altar. 1513-15.
Unterlinden Museum, Colmar. Credit: Marburg/Art Resource.

Renaissance et R��forme / 65

Figure 5: Rosso Fiorentino. Assumption of the Virgin. 1517.
Fresco. Atrium, SS. Annunziata, Florence.
Credit: Alinari/Art Resource.

66 / Renaissance and Reformation

Besides this solid horizontal edge, there is a solid vertical at the left side.
The St. John figure at the right is cropped and the implied space extends
beyond the picture frame, while at the left, this extension of space is blocked:
the figure on the ladder rests his foot on a physical edge, giving the effect
of action taking place within a physical frame such as the space on a stage.

The space in the painting is shallow, and the background landscape,
containing only a few tiny figures at the right, appears almost as a backdrop.
The figures are set very close together in the foreground, and the ground
itself seems to be tilted up toward the back: the ladder at the right, for
instance, is very close behind the figure of St. John, yet it rests at a higher
level, suggesting a raked platform not unlike that described by Serlio.

Rosso's use of light has been discussed perhaps more than any other
element of the painting, and its harshness has been described as suggesting
lightning;-^^ further, the lighting is often used as evidence of Rosso's radical
rejection of High Renaissance ideals. Yet we have seen that in its original
location the painting would have been lit primarily from the right, as is the
scene within the painting. In other words, the combination of light within
the painting and in the physical setting would have exactly corresponded
to Sabbattini's description of ideal stage lighting.

Iconographically, too, the Deposition suggests a theatrical influence. St.
John figures depicted with red hair are generally significant in Rosso's work
and are often thought of as self-portraits. Here, St. John the Evangelist is
shown with red hair and much larger than any of the other figures, and his
position in the painting is dominant despite his bent-over posture. All of
the other figures face in toward each other, but St. John turns away from
the group and partially toward the viewer, bringing to mind theatrical
figures such as narrators, which act as intermediaries between the audience
and the action on stage. This is entirely in keeping with the subject matter,
since it is only in the Gospel of St. John that the Virgin is actually present
at the cross. It was to John that Christ entrusted the care of Mary, and Rosso
further emphasizes the importance of John and the Virgin with the unusual
motif of the leftward thrust of the Magdalen, whose brightly lit form visually
connects the grief-stricken pair bending toward the right. In Franciscan
theology, "the sacrifice on Calvary is the moment of the emergence of the
Church,"-'^ and thus Rosso appropriately devotes the foreground of the
painting to Mary, identified with the Church, the Magdalen, to whom Christ
would first appear after the Resurrection, and St. John, the teller of the

The general idea of a theatrical influence on Rosso's paintings should
not be any more difficult to accept than the idea that the artist was

Renaissance et R��forme / 67

emotionally unstable and deliberately included these odd and unprece-
dented elements to confound his patrons. While there is some evidence that
his Madonna and Child with Saints was rejected by the patron who
commissioned it,^"^ there is no indication that there was any such problem
with the Deposition, and he evidently did not lack for commissions at any
point in his career. His work must have been more comprehensible to his
patrons than it has been to us; to examine this further, we need to look at
the theoretical appropriateness of a theatrical influence on mannerist

To avoid conflicts as to the meaning of "mannerism," I have used the
concise d��finition offered by James MiroUo in his discussion of Renaissance
literature: "Mannerist theory is perhaps best explained as the product of a
ripe Renaissance culture turning in on and exhaustively exploiting itself."^^

The appeal of such painters as Bronzino and Parmigianino, as well as
Pontormo and Rosso, has been explained as a rarefied taste which was
confined to the intellectual upper classes who were the main patrons of
mannerism. The inclusion of obscure literary, mythological and artistic
references, particularly notable in the work of Bronzino, suggests a taste for
convolution, for complexity for its own sake. Artists seemed to be comment-
ing on art while they were producing art; the references to poetry, other
paintings, and sculpture are well documented throughout the mannerist
period. Referring to yet another form of art, the theatre, is precisely the type
of intellectual game which would have appealed to the intelligentsia. The
mannerist painters deliberately avoided turning to nature for inspiration,
but to turn to the theatre was the height of their cleverness: the figures on
stage were human, yet the mannerist painter could use them for inspiration
since they were real only in the context of the illusion of theatre. Artists
could turn to the visual impressions of theatrical performances in much
the same way that they turned to the visual impressions of sculpture.

A theatrical model would have been particularly appropriate in the case
of Rosso's Deposition. A display of intense emotion was called for, and
despite the rather frozen quality of the figures this show of emotion was
certainly achieved. The violence of this emotional expressiveness has been
seen as Rosso's attempt to evoke in the viewer the same grief which was
felt by those who actually witnessed the scene.^^ If this was Rosso's intent,
then he could not have chosen a better model than a live performance of
the scene from a passion play.

This paper was intended as a suggestion for further research in the area
of theatrical influences in mannerist art. The clothing in certain paintings
could, for instance, be traced to see whether it was derived from theatre or

68 / Renaissance and Reformation

simply from conventions of dress in painting. More detailed information
about theatrical practices of the time and about the relationships between
artists would also be helpful. It is certain that the theatre influenced
mannerist painting at least indirectly, in the sense that an artist's complete
environment influences his work.

University of Virginia


The author wishes to thank Dr. Eugene Carroll, Dr. Asher Wilson, Mr. Louis Maxfield, and
especially Dr. Jane Kristof for their advice and encouragement in the development of this

1 Peter Burke, The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1986), p. 236.

2 Graham Smith, "On the Original Location of Rosso Fiorentino's Descent from the Cross"
Zeitschrift fur Kunstgeschichte 39 (1976): 70.

3 Harvey E. Hamburgh, "Rosso Fiorentino's Descent from the Cross in a Franciscan
Context," Sixteenth Century Journal 19 (1988): 580.

4 Smith, p. 70.

5 Eugene Carroll, letter to the author, February 22, 1989.

6 E. R. Chamberlin, The World of the Italian Renaissance (London: George Allen and Unwin
Ltd., 1982), p. 276.

7 Barnard Hewitt, ��d.. The Renaissance Stage: Documents ofSerlio, Sabbattini and Furttenbach
(Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1958), p. 9.

8 Hewitt , p. 25.

9 Hewitt, p. 16.

10 Hewitt, p. 61.

11 Stella Mary Newton, Renaissance Theatre Costume and the Sense of the Historic Past
(London: Rapp and Whiting Ltd., 1975), pp. 50-51.

12 George R. Kernodle, From Art to Theatre (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944), p.

13 Burke, p. 207.

14 Roberta J. M. Olson, "Brunelleschi'S Machines of Paradise and Botticelli's Mystical
Nativity" Gazette des Beaux-Arts 92 (1981): 183.

15 Burke, p. 207.

16 Olson, p. 183.

17 Newton, p. 31.

18 Newton, p. 60.

19 Martin Wackernagel, The World of the Florentine Renaissance Artist (1938; Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1981), pp. 196-197. See also Newton, p. 207.

20 Eugene Carroll, Rosso Fiorentino: Drawings, Prints, Decorative Arts (Washington D.C.:
National Gallery of Art, 1987), p. 212.

21 Jean S. Weisz, Pittura e Misericordia: The Oratory of S. Giovanni Decollato in Rome (Ann
Arbor UMI Research Press, 1984), pp. 26-29, 48-49.

22 Burke, p. 218.

23 Newton, p. 33.

Renaissance et R��forme / 69

24 James Snyder, Northern Renaissance Art (New York: Abrams, 1985), p. 246.

25 Oison, p. 183.

26 Georg Scheja, The Isenheim Altarpiece (New York: Abrams, 1969), p. 34.

27 Frederick A. Cooper, "Jacopo Pontormo and Influences from the Renaissance Theater,"
The Art Bulletin 55 (1973): 391.

28 Wackernagel, p. 198.

29 Olson, p. 188.

30 Walter Friedlaender, Mannerism and Anti-Mannerism in Italian Painting (New York:
Schocken Books, 1957), p. 29.

31 For a rare quattrocento example of a related motif, see Melozzo da Forli, Sixtus /F
Appointing Platina. 1474-77. Fresco, transferred to canvas. Pinacoteca, Vatican, Rome.

32 Linda Murray, The Late Renaissance and Mannerism (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1967)
p. 54.

33 Hamburgh, p. 586.

34 Giorgio Vasari, 77»^ Lives of Seventy of the Most Eminent Painters. Sculptors, and Architects,
ed. E. H. and E. W. Blashfield and A. A. Hopkins (New York: Scribner's, 1923), p. 1097.

35 James V. Mirollo, Mannerism and Renaissance Poetry: Concept. Mode. Inner Design (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), p. 25.

36 Murray, p. 54.

Historical Topography and British
History in Camden's Britannia


Oritain acquired a national history only after its coherence as a territorial
entity had been established, and these two components of the national
identity - territorial and historical definition - were products of the Tudor
era. Cromwell reordered England's constitution by cutting off Rome's
entitlement to English taxes and then building a program of reform on the
related concepts of national sovereignty and the imperial status of the
Crown. ^ These were enacted by means of statute. Statute was also a device
for achieving territorial unification. There was first an act for abolishing
the franchisai rights of local landlords and enforcing the royal authority in
all parts of the realm. This legislation was known as the Act for Recontinu-
ing certain Liberties and Franchises heretofore taken from the Crown. It
was composed by Cromwell, and it legally terminated the feudal era in
Britain by placing jurisdictional uniformity over the prerogatives of strong
men in the provinces. It set out the territorial extension of the Crown's
powers. An act for anglicizing the principality and marches of Wales came
next. This was the so-called Act of Union of 1536. It annexed the marcher
lordships to existing counties and created five new ones (Monmouth,
Brecknock, Radnor, Montgomery, and Denbigh), and it enforced English
legal and tenurial customs in these newborn members of the king's

For three months beginning on the first of October in 1536 the rebellion
known as the Pilgrimage of Grace threatened to reverse the movement of
reform. Its leaders, who were demanding an end to the dissolution of the
monasteries, were persuaded by the duke of Norfolk to disband on the sixth
of December.^ However, when rioting continued into January and February
of the new year, Norfolk resorted to martial law and executions to teach the
lesson of Henry's supremacy in the north. On the sixthwof June, 1537, Cromwell
wrote that the whole realm was at peace, and the Council in the North was
set up to govern Cumberland, Westmorland, and Northumberland.^

Renaisance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 1 (1990) 71

72 / Renaissance and Reformation

The conciliar and jurisdictional ties uniting the realm and linking it to
Westminster formed a new territorial coherence, and the immense and
intricately heterogeneous topography of the British countryside became a
geopolitical unity. The customary social spheres formed in the era of the
Heptarchy, including those of the Welsh and northern borders, became one
polity, if not in every respect one society, through the territorial consolida-
tion carried out in the name of national sovereignty.

National sovereignty, then, altered the shape of British history. An entire
new enterprise of scholarship was required to defme the historical param-
eters of the new order, and the provinces as well as Britain's topographical
character were discovered in the endeavor of seeking and explaining the
ancient origins of the nation's institutions.^ John Leland was the first to
imagine a national history written from the point of view of provincial
localities. He received a commission in 1533 to tour the monasteries and
inventory their library holdings and in 1536 embarked upon a national
perambulation in the hope of composing a comprehensive historical and
topographical portrait.^ He was prevented by illness from completing it, but
in 1546 he sketched a draft of his design in a New Year's letter to the king.
What he proposed was a comprehensive national profile. Its separate parts
were to include histories of the aristocracy and the kings of England,
biographies of English authors, descriptions of the adjacent islands, and a
work of historical topography in as many books as there were counties in
England and Wales. In this last part of his projected work Leland intended
to describe the origins and history of the chief towns and castles of the
realm. If it had been completed it would have resembled Biondo's Italia
illustrata as well as Camden's Britannia. It would have been a book of local
histories organized on some sort of topographical plan, perhaps an
itinerary, illustrating the geographical dimensions of the newly consolidated
realm. Leland was trying to write a kind of history that would be national
in a territorial as well as a political sense. In six years of touring he had
found, in his words, "a hole worlde of thinges very memorable" and was
seeking to compose a work of British history by forming a narrative that
would correspond in some way to the course of his itineraries and mirror
the provincial dimensions of the national idea. The design of this part of
his project would have been cartographic (that is, its form would have
been topographical rather than chronological), and its substance would
have been a compendium of local chronicle materials. Leland was endeav-
oring to embrace the whole conception of the Tudor polity, mirroring in
maps and narrative description its shape and dimension as well as its

Renaissance et R��forme / 73

history, and he meant to offer it to the king to honor the recovery of his
nation's sovereignty from Roman usurpation.

In the historiography to which he was adhering, the scope of national
sovereignty and the jurisdictional sweep of the Crown determined the
nation's territorial dimensions. These, in turn, shaped Leland's conception
of the national past in the sense that his understanding of Britain's history
was formed and imbued by the perception of territorial integrity to which
he was awakened in his journeys. By conducting a national perambulation
Leland found a way of recreating British history, endowing the customary
social orders of the provinces with a kind of historical enfranchisement by
bringing them within the sphere of nationhood. He inspired a generation
of journeying scholars who then sought to illuminate the provincial origins
of the nation's institutions, most notably the Kentish and Cheshire histori-
ans William Lambarde and William Smith, in addition to William Camden,
John Norden, and John Speed. The comprehensive surveys which they
composed - an unfinished topographical dictionary by Lambarde which
was not published until 1730, Camden's Britannia, Smith's Particular
Description of England, Norden's unfinished Speculum Britanniae, and
Speed's Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain - are collections of local
histories employing topographical modes of organization. They mirror the
nationalist spirit of the Renaissance and the new humanist scholarship as
well - particularly diplomatics - and the words speculum and theatre in the
titles of works by Norden and Speed mark their indebtedness to Renais-
sance geography, particularly to the works of de Jode and Ortelius. It was
Ortelius who visited England in 1577 and proposed to Camden the idea of
restoring Britain's antiquity.^

Camden toured the British provinces for four years beginning in 1571
and after that whenever his duties at Westminster School would permit. His
journeys were exploratory and archaeological. He recorded observations of
natural and geographical interest, and he had a good eye for Plinyesque
curiosities. However, his principal aim was to make a topographical survey
and identify the contours of Britain's political geography because in framing
the narrative of Britannia he sought to devise a way of mirroring Britain's
national origins. In the first edition of 1586 he recreated his perambulation
into a sequence of tours of all the counties, beginning in the West with
Cornwall and Devonshire and then moving north, and by doing so4ie
found a way of imposing shape and symmetry upon his immense collection
of documentary and archaeological materials as well as describing the
coherent form of the national past. He composed a topography rather than
a calendar or chronicle of British society, reconstructing from local

74 / Renaissance and Reformation

materials the decisive events in the nation's past and the evolutionary
formation of a national identity.

Exactly where Camden's journeys led in the four years after he left Oxford
it will never be possible to say, nor is it certain that during these years a
plan for a comprehensive description was taking shape. It is certain,
however, that his projected work, when he was able to form a design for it,
would be a chorographical study having to do with the places of British
antiquity, and he no doubt decided early that one of his first tasks would
be to delineate the shape of the Roman hegemony in Britain. He decidedly
would not follow the linear, replicative mode of chronicle narrative but
would fashion a topographical framework so that he would be able to
compose a national history by forming a collection of local historical and
descriptive profiles.

He added to his store of documentary materials by examining the
physical remains of the Saxon, Danish, and Norman as well as the Roman
era and recording his observations of coins, inscriptions, and works of
monumental art in church and countryside. By examining the relics of the
remote past he hoped to make a coherent narrative of the incomplete and
often cryptic remarks concerning Britain which he found in the works of
Caesar, Tacitus, Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, and Polybius.^ This part of
Camden's research was archaeological. Another of its dimensions was
toponymical. He understood that there could be no way of describing
Britain's origins without recovering the ancient Celtic and Roman
equivalents of the English names with which they had been replaced and
which, then, were obscuring the early history of important provincial sites. ^^
He cited Plato's discussion, in the Cratylus, of primitive names used by
barbarous peoples in order to illustrate the importance of recovering the
names used by the Britons in the era of the Roman occupation. Their
place-names had the status of antiquity, and so in Camden's humanistic
view they possessed a unique sort of importance: they represented the
earliest traces of British civilization. Camden therefore taught himself
sixteenth century Welsh as well as Old English in order to enable himself
to unlock the information stored in the earliest British place-names. His
toponymical texts were the Feutinger Tables, Ptolemy's Geography, the
Notifia occidentalis imperii, and the British section of the Antonine Itinerary,
which was not a painted itinerary like the Peutingcr Tables but a list of
important stations throughout the Empire at the time of the Antonine
emperors.^ ^ This last seems to have been of greater use than the others.
Camden cites it more often than he does the others and seems to have
regarded it as a comprehensive and coherent topographical guide.

Renaissance et R��forme / 75

The Antonine Itinerary had two parts, one for land and one for water
routes, and thus two names: Itinerarium provinciamm Antonini Augusti and
Imperatoris Antonini Augusti itinerarium maritimum. It supposedly was
planned for the emperor Caracalla, who made a journey from Rome to
Egypt early in the third century, and it then underwent a number of revisions
before reaching its final state in 290 B.C.^^ Caracalla attended Severus
during a British campaign early in the third century and later presided over
the abandonment of the Roman garrisons in Scotland in order to strengthen
the Hadrianic frontier. ^^

In the British section of the Antonine Itinerary there were one hundred
forty-five stations divided among fifteen separate tours.^^ Only one of these,
the second, ran the length of Roman Britain from a point fourteen miles
north of Hadrian's Wall to Richborough in Kent. There were others running
from London to northern points and to points in Kent and in East Anglia.
There was a northern tour following a course from Hadrian's Wall to
Patrington on the Yorkshire side of Humber, and five tours in Wales and
the Marches. Exeter was the westernmost point, and Hadrian's Wall was
the northern limit because the Romans had withdrawn from the Antonine
Wall more than half a century before the Antonine Itinerary was completed.

Camden used the Antonine Itinerary to correlate ancient and contem-
porary sites and to identify ruins whose names had been obliterated. He
composed etymologies of Celtic place names in his discussion of Maldon,
Brettenham, New Sarum, Gormonchester, Carlisle, and Manchester, and
he identified the Celtic equivalents of Tadcaster, Werminster, Brancaster,
Leiton (a place Camden identifies as a village five miles distant from
London), and a village in Cumberland whose inhabitants called it Old
Carlisle. He identified the remotest northern point of the Empire where the
Antonine Itinerary commenced (Blatobulgium on the Hadrianic wall, near
present Burgh by Sands, Cumberland), and he fixed the site of Clausentum
northeast of Southampton between Regnum on one side and Venta on the
other. He identified Agelocum (Littleborough, Nottinghamshire) and
Etocetum (Uttoxeter, Staffordshire) by estimating distances from their ruins
to other places in the Antonine Itinerary, and he identified the village of
Broughton on the River Test in Hampshire as Brage, which was sited \v
the Antonine Itinerary at a point nine miles from Sorbiodunum (Old
Sarum). He identified the chief cities of the Attrebatii, the Regni, the Iceni,
and the Comavii. He includes a digression on Roman municipia in his
discussion of Verolamium and remarks on coloniae in his discussions of
Eboracum (York) and Camolodunum (Maldon). He believed that
Uriconium (Wroxeter) and Brannogenium (Worcester) were used by the

76 / Renaissance and Reformation

Romans to curb the Britons who lived beyond the Severn and that Deva
(Chester), where the twentieth legion under Agricola was seated, was a
barrier against the Ordovices.

The Roman forces in the north were garrisoned at Virosidum (present
Warwick, Cumberland), where the sixth cohort of the Nervii were stationed,
at Olenacum (present Linstock, Cumberland), and at Aesica (Netherby
upon Esk in Cumberland). The first cohort of the Tungri were garrisoned
at Bremeturacum (Ribchester in Lancashire), and the first wing of the
Astures at Condercum (Chester le Street in the Bishopric of Durham).
Gabrosentum (Gateshead in the Bishopric of Durham) was defended by
the second cohort of the Thracians.

What this illustrates is that Camden was seeking to restore Britain's
antiquity but not exactly in the sense historians ordinarily have supposed.
He was seeking to explain the origins of the British polity to a cultivated
European audience with a serious scholarly interest in antiquity. In
attempting to explain how his nation was formed, he quite naturally began
by establishing the contours of Britain's Roman era. In this preliminary
part of his design the Antonine Itinerary was one of several evidentiary
sources. Unlike the others, however, it had both completeness and unity. It
was geographically more comprehensive than the others, including the
British section of Ptolemy's Geography, and so Camden used it more
methodically and more consistently than the others. It served as a
topographical guide to ancient provincial sites and contained the
shadowiest intimations having to do with Britain's ancient peoples, the
Celtic tribes inhabiting the island when the Romans arrived.

Britannia has three parts. It opens with a chronological survey of Britain's
main historical divisions - British, Roman, Saxon, Danish, and Norman -
and closes with descriptive surveys of Scotland and Ireland. The opening
section contains essays on the courts and the aristocracy, and the closing
section is a guide to the principal cities of the Scottish and Irish provinces.
The well-known county tours make up the central section. In these Camden
journeys from town to town following courses determined by the
topographical contours of the counties, seeking out the remains of antiquity,
and recreating from chronicles and other documents and artifacts the
descent of hamlets, towns, walls, gates, bridges, manors, churches, castles,
parishes, and bishops' sees. He organizes these into a sequence of county
itineraries and succeeds, as Leland had been prevented from doing, in
illuminating the provincial and territorial constituents of the national idea.
He projected a conception of Britain's past onto the narrative equivalent

Renaissance et R��forme / 77

of a plane surface and made one national fabric of many provincial

The principal feature of its organizational plan is a structure of seventeen
parts corresponding to the seventeen territorial divisions of the ancient
Britons. Within these divisions Camden arranged his fifty-two county
itineraries. The structural framework of Britannia therefore conforms to the
political geography of ancient Britain and mirrors the earliest British polity.
In itself, the narrative framework of Britannia is a part of Camden's cultural
statement The classical authors (principally Tacitus, Ptolemy, and Strabo)
were Camden's sources for the ancient Britons - for etymologies of their
tribal names, their continental migrations, and the parts of Britain they
inhabited - and from their works Camden devised the headings of each of
his provincial divisions. The territories of the people known in his sources
as the Danmonii form the opening section, the tours of Cornwall and
Devonshire, and from here he proceeds to the parts inhabited by the
Durotriges (Dorsetshire), the Belgae (Somersetshire, Wiltshire, and
Hampshire), the Attrebatii (Berkshire), the Regni (Surrey and Sussex), the
Dobuni (Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire), the Trinobantes (Middlesex
and Essex), and so through the regions of East Anglia, the Midlands, and
the North. The twelve Welsh counties are arranged within the tribal
divisions of the Silures, the Dimetae, and the Ordovices, and Britannia
closes, then, with tours of the regions inhabited by the Brigantes and the
Ottadini (Yorkshire, Richmondshire, Lancashire, the Bishopric of Durham,
Westmorland, Cumberland, and Northumberland).

In fashioning a framework of ancient territorial divisions for his county
profiles Camden was following the procedure of Biondo's Italia illustrata,
which is also a national itinerary organized along topographical lines and
divided into ancient provinces.^ ^ Biondo planned his other descriptive
work, Roma ristaurata of about 1446, as a survey of Rome's architectural
monuments, taking up in order gates, baths, temples, theaters, and fora.
However, in Italia illustrata (c. 1453), the first national chorography of the
Renaissance, he began in the north and followed a course leading to the
south, visiting the monuments and ruins of the Venetian and Istrian regions
and those of Lombardy, Umbria, and Picenum before arriving at last in
Campania and Apulia. Italia illustrata, like Britannia, contains place-name
etymologies and notes on important authors and scholars as well as
histories of the fountains, gates, and bridges in the cities and towns of the
eighteen regions of pre-Augustan Italy. It was Biondo's aim to portray the
national integrity of the peoples inhabiting the peninsula first by composing
in the Decades, which was completed in about 1460, a unified conception

78 / Renaissance and Reformation

of Italian history from the fall of Rome to the middle of the fifteenth century
and then in Italia illustrata to represent Italy's territorial wholeness by
conducting a survey in the form of a national itinerary. Camden's provincial
tours, taken altogether, represent the national integrity of the British peoples
by portraying the continuity of their history, and his itinerary format
illuminates the territorial aspect of this British solidarity by tracing the
dimensions of the regions they inhabited. Biondo and Camden both were
of the scientific rather than the rhetorical school of authorship, and by
composing their national topographies on frameworks of ancient territorial
divisions they illustrated the potential for national definition which lay in
the humanist concept of antiquity. ^^

With the exception of Sir Thomas Kendrick, who viewed Britannia as a
work of antiquarian scholarship, and Richard Helgerson, who viewed it as
subversive, no student of Camden of whom I know has failed to argue that
its central and principal focus is Roman Britain. ^^ Sir Maurice Powicke
believed it to be a commentary on the Antonine Itinerary, and R. J. Dunn
viewed it as a study of British antiquity.^^ F. J. Levy felt that its purpose
was to elucidate Roman names in Britain, and Stuart Piggott remarked that
its initial purpose was to elucidate the ancient British topography in order
to enable Britain "to take her rightful place at once within the world of
antiquity and that of international scholarship."^^ Graham Parry recently
has written that Camden relegated primitive Britain to "barbarian status"
and that his purpose in Britannia was to portray Britain as "formed and
stamped by Roman greatness."^^

I would like to broaden the scope of this discussion by proposing that
the chorographical works of the English Renaissance were a product of the
nation-forming movement of the 1530's and that they were the discursive
equivalent of the mapping enterprise. The creation of national sovereignty
as well as constitutional and territorial unity in the era of Henry's quarrel
with Rome altered the complexion of British scholarship, as the endeavors
of Lcland, Bale, and Talbot illustrate, as well as those of the scholars
assembled in Cromwell's household (Starkey, Morison, Tavcrner, and
Marshall), whose purposes were more narrowly polemical. The nationalist
element already present in British historiography was heightened, and a
new interest in the conjunction of history and cartography was engendered,
causing Saxton and the other Elizabethan surveyors and cartographers, as
well as Camden, to embark upon national itineraries. As a humanist who
was inspired by the idea of his nation's historical continuity, Camden
followed a strategy which others had employed: he fashioned from classical
historical and geographical materials a concept of antiquity and with this

Renaissance et R��forme / 79

he identified his nation's origins, endowing Britain with historical inevita-
bility by identifying the chronological point of its birth or inception.

University of Oregon


1 For the formation of the Tudor polity in the Cromy/ellian era, see G. R. Elton, England
under the Tudors, 2nd ed. (London: Methuen, 1974), 130-7, and Reform and Reformation:
England, 1509-1558 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1977), pp. 174-229.

2 G. R. Elton, ��d., 77»^ Tudor Constitution: Documents and Commentary (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1960), pp. 37-9.

3 C. H. Williams, ��d., English Historical Documents. 1485-1558 (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1967), pp. 554-62.

4 For a concise discussion of Norfolk's role in the suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace
see Mervyn James, Society. Politics, and Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1986), pp. 352-3. See also Elton, Reform, pp. 260-71, and Scott Michael Harrison, The
Pilgrimage of Grace in the Lake Counties, 1536-7 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1981),
pp. 87-137.

5 Calendar of Letters and Papers Foreign and Domestic, pp. 12, 14.

6 For the impact of the Cromwellian revolution upon Tudor scholarship, see Elton, Reform
and Renewal: Thomas Cromwell and the Common Weal (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1973), pp. 3-65, David S. Berkowitz, Humanist Scholarship and Public Order: Two
Tracts against the Pilgrimage of Grace by Sir Richard Morison (Washington: Folger Books,
1984), pp. 19-69, and May McKisack, Medieval History in the Tudor Age (Oxford:
Clarendon, 1971), pp. 1-25.

7 See L. Toulmin Smith, The Itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543, 5 vols.
(London: Centaur Press, 1964), I: viii-xiv.

8 Sir Maurice Powicke discusses Camden's visit with Ortelius in "William Camden," Essays
and Studies, n.s., 1 (1948), 74.

9 The point concerning Camden's use of classical sources was first made by Thomas Smith
in his Latin life of Camden, which was translated into English by Bishop Gibson in his
1695 edition of Britannia. See also Stuart Piggott, "William Camden and the Britannia,"
Proceedings of the British Academy 37 (1951), pp. 206-7.

10 See "The Life of Mr. Camden" in Britannia, tr. Bishop Edmund Gibson (London, 1695),

11 For discussions of ancient topographical guides, including those used by Camden, see
O. A. W. Dilke, "Itineraries and Geographical Maps in the early and late Roman Empire,"
in Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean, ed.
Hariey, J.B., and David Woodward (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), pp.

12 Dilke, p. 235.

13 Peter Salway, Roman Britain (Oxford: Clarendon, 1981), pp. 228 and 242-4.

14 For a list of the British stations and a discussion of the British section of the Antonine
Itinerary, see O. A. W. Dilke, Greek and Roman Maps (Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
1985), pp. 126-7.

80 / Renaissance and Reformation

15 For an illuminating recent discussion of Biondo's Italia illustrata see Eric Cochrane,
Historians and Historiography in the Italian Rennaissance (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1981), pp. 34-40.

16 For the rhetorical-scientific division as applied to authors of historical works, including
Biondo, see Denys Hay, "Flavio Biondo and the Middle Ages," Proceedings of the British
Academy 45 (1959), 99. The point is taken up again by D. R. Woolf in "Erudition and the
Idea of History in Renaissance England," Renaissance Quarterly 40 (1987): 11-48, and by
Joseph M. Levine, Humanism and History (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1987),
pp. 73-106.

17 Sir Thomas Kcndrick, British Antiquity (London: Methuen, 1950), pp. 134-67, and Richard
Helgerson, "The Land Speaks: Cartography, Chorography, and Subversion in Renais-
sance England," in Stephen Greenblatt, ��d.. Representing the English Renaissance (Berke-
ley: University of California Press, 1988), pp. 327-61.

18 Powicke, 71, and R. J. Dunn, ��d., William Camden: Remains Concerning Britain (Toronto:
University of Toronto Press, 1984), xvi.

19 F. J. Levy, "The Making of Camden's Britannia" Biblioth��que DHumanisme et Retiaissance,
26 (1964): 71, and Piggott, 207-8.

20 Graham Parry, Hie Seventeenth Century: The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English
Literature. 1603-1700 (London: Longman, 1989), p. 167.

^ 11






New Series, Vol. XIV, No. 2 Nouvelle S��rie, Vol. XIV, No. 2

Old Series, Vol. XXVI, No. 2 Ancienne S��rie, Vol. XXVI, No. 2

Spring 1990 printemps

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme is published quarterly (February, May,
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Victoria University Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS), 1990.


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Renaissance Renaissance

and et

Reformation R��forme

New Series, Vol. XIV, No. 2 Nouvelle S��rie, Vol. XIV, No. 2

Old Series, Vol. XXVI, No. 2 1990 Ancienne S��rie, Vol. XXVI, No. 2

Contents /sommaire



Pompeo Caccini and Euridice: New Biographical Notes,

by Timothy J. McGee


Disjunctive Images in Renaissance Books,

by Marian Rothstein


La Galliade ou le mariage du ciel et de la terre

par Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie,

par Simone Maser


"Derived Honesty and Achieved Goodness":

Doctrines of Grace in All's Well That Ends Well,

by Cynthia Lewis



Jerzy Limon, Dangerous Matter: English Drama and Politics in 1623/24,

reviewed by Graham Roebuck


William Beik, Absolutism and Society in Seventeenth Century France:

State Power and Provincial Aristocracy in Languedoc,

reviewed by Julian Dent


Marie-Madeleine de la Gamndene, Mercure �� la Renaissance.,

reviewed by Stanley G. MuUins


Pompeo Caccîni and Euridice.
New Biographical Notes


In 1964 Claude Palisca published an infonnative article about the details
surrounding the performance of the first opera, Jacopo Peri's Euridice in
Florence on October 6, 1600, for the wedding of Maria de' Medici and Heniy
rv of France. He included a list of singers known to have performed the
various roles at the premier and at the second production which probably
took place shortly afterwards.^ Not all of the performers were known,
however, and one that Palisca could not name was La Tragedia, the singer
of the Prologue. He speculated that the part may have been sung by the
same man who sang in the second production, a singer known only as
"Giovannino del Sigfnor] Emilio [dei Cavalieri]," but as we shall see, that
is not correct Recently discovered documents reveal not only the name of
the first singer of the Prologue, but they tell us of Pompeo Caccini's
involvement in the first opera and a bit about vocal teaching methods in
the early Baroque. Further, while giving us new information about the
biography of Giulio Caccini's oldest child, they also provide a very clear
impression of the social status of courtly musicians at the end of the
sixteenth century.

My story is a curious one, dealing with the mores of both the ruling class
and their servants. Some of it begins at the level of gossip and it does not
show off the characters in the best possible light. On the other hand, it does
add important information on a number of subjects, and so I beg the
readers' indulgence for unearthing a bit of historical dirt to tell my tale of
music, love, marriage, and power.

Pompeo Caccini, the only son of Giulio Romano, enjoyed a rather diverse
career in the arts as singer, teacher, artist, and set designer. His accomplish-
ments are overshadowed now in music history, as they were during his own
lifetime, by the extraordinary singing talent first of his father and then of
his sister Francesca, but what little is known suggests that he was a
competent as well as a versatile artist and perhaps even a minor luminary

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 2 (1990) 81

82 / Renaissance and Reformation

during the early decades of the seventeenth century. The newly-discovered
documents reported here now connect him intimately with Euridice and
lead to a revision of some of the previously believed ideas about his life. I
will begin my story where I first encountered it — in the records of petitions
to the Florence civic magistrates, the "Otto di Guardia." On the 27th of
February 1601 the following petition was filed (Document I):

Most Serene Grand Duke

Camilla of Piero Mazziere, relative of Don Stefano Buonsignori, most
humble servant of Your Serene Highness, a poor woman with six
daughters, humbly turning to your mercy desiring that he render justice
regarding the great wrong and dishonour done to her by Pompeo, bastard
son of Giulio Romano. This came about because he had frequented her
house for a long time in order to teach her daughter Ginevra, called
"I'Azzurina," to sing the prologue of the play, and she permitted such
frequenting of her house in order to please masters Giacopo Corsi and
Ottavio Rinuccini, who had requested the assignment of this young man
to teach her, with the hope of enabling her to acquire a dowry in order
to many her off, and primarily in order to serve the Most Christian
Queen of France and Your Highness as was her duty. He IPompeo] had
the impudence one day, lurking until the abovementioned young girl
was home alone, to open the door with a false key, or other tool, and
violently raped and impregnated her. The said supplicant [Camilla] kept
this quiet because Pompeo gave his word to the gentleman, and had it
put in writing and promised to take her [Ginevra] as his wife when the
play was over. Later, however, when he was detained by his father and
sent away so that the marriage would not take place, she [Camilla] had
recourse to the Magistrate of the Otto [di Guardia], who issued a sentence
that was too easy and pleasant for the young man and was not a
condemnation equal to the offense, having condemned him to pay 75
scudi only and without adding any other penalty that was applicable
according to the statutes of the commune of Florence and the common
laws. Therefore she appeals to Your Highness that you deign to render
justice to her (as is your wont), and that you not permit that Ginevra
and the other poor girls [her sisters] to miserably lose their honour,— nor
[that] her brother and brother-in-law, who are not used to giving or
receiving any wrong, even if by resorting to some illegal remedy, [lose
their honour]— nor that she the supplicant [lose her honour]. [The
supplicant], being of most honourable parents who have always faithfully
served and continue to serve the most honourable house of Medici, seeing
them wrongfully dishonoured, appeals to the sumtuous tribunal ... 27
February 1601.

Francesco Buoninsegni [Clerk of Court]

Renaissance et R��forme / 83

On the reverse side of the accusation Buoninsegni has written the verdict
along with a summary of the evidence which gives the same information
but with a slightly different emphasis (Doc. II):

The supplicant Cammilla brought action against Porapeo, natural son
of Giulio Romano, [alleging] that Pompeo, who frequented her house
for the purpose of teaching her daughter Ginevra to sing for the prologue
of the play, and, full of desire for her and pretending to want her for his
wife, one day entered the house when her mother was not present, and
with flattery and promises and partly by force, used her carnally and left
her pregnant And in his [Pompeo's] absence the magistrate condemned
him the 12th day of February, 1601, for rape, with a fine of 100 lire, and
a dowry to Ginevra of 75 scudi, with the condition that should he take
her for his wife, he is to consider himself free of this payment Now,
appearing to the mother that this sentence is not sufficient to recover the
honour taken from her, and desiring that the marriage take place, asks
that such punishment be given him that will force him to observe what
he promised if he wishes to be pardoned and that a deadline be fixed
[for the wedding]. At the chancery, 15 March 1600.

Other depositions in the same file substantiate the points made above
and shed a bit more light on young Pompeo, his activities and his
involvement with Ginevra. On the 12th of March, a few weeks after the
document above was written, the following testimony was given (Doc.

I, Gian Jacopo Cini, swear that a few months ago, having been
continually in the house of Mona Cammilla of Piero Mazziere on
account of the silk [trade], I became acquainted with her and her most
honourable daughters, and because of this I frequently saw Pompeo
Caccini there, and I asked why. Mona Cammilla replied that he came
because Signor Jocomo Corsi and Signor Ottavio Rinuccini had ordered
him [comissioned him?] to come to teach her daughter Ginevra to sing
the prologue of the play and also because he had promised and had put
in writing to marry her after the performance. And at the time of the
marriage of the most Christian Queen of France, I saw on the finger of
the abovementioned Ginevra a ring with three pearls, and I asked her
if she had not kept some wedding candy for me,^ imagining that she had
become betrothed, and she told me that Pompeo had given it [the ring]
to her, but would not have the wedding until the play was finished. I
swear also how at the same time I heard from the mouth of Pompeo,
who one day, while talking with me during a 'Carda' game in Campaccio,
said that for fear of his father, who was annoyed at them because she
was reciting the prologue against his wishes, and also in order to set

84 / Renaissance and Reformation

himself up more comfortably, he was not able to marry her after the play
was finished.

The problem Pompeo was having with his father and the meaning of the
statement "to set himself up more comfortably" becomes clearer in yet
another deposition given by a cleric of the church of Santa Maria del Fiore
(Doc. TV). This document also suggests that Pompeo probably did have
honourable intentions but could not convince his father:

I, Mich��le di Jacopo Date, cleric of Florence, swear that a few months
ago I went to the shop of Cigoli where Pompeo Caccini, son of Giulio
Romano, worked, in order to ask from him two paintings of towns which
he had agreed to do for me. He begged me to intercede with Madame
Camilla, wife of Piero Mazziere, to have her agree to wait a year to 18
months more before revealing the marriage contract that he had made
with her daughter, and this delay was in order for him to earn enough
to acquire a room, which he would not be able to do if he were thrown
out of his home by his father, which would happen if his father knew
that he had taken a wife without consent And so I went to Madonna
Cammilla, who provided many reasons for which she could not wait this
much time. I swear this to be the truth written by my hand this day in

Finally, on the 26 of June, three months after the above testamony, a
letter from Giulio Caccini to the court concludes the affair. He acknowldges
his son's blame in the matter but attempts to avoid the fine. The Caccinis
do agree to pay the dowry while at the same time implying that there was
little hope that Pompeo was going to many Ginevra (Doc. V)-

Serene Grand Duke

Giulio Caccini, most humble servant and vassal of your Highness, with
all due respect, points out how in the past months his son Pompeo was
condemned in absentia by the Magistrate of the Otto [di Guardia], and
fined 100 lire to be paid to the Fisco [treasury] and 75 scudi to be
deposited and paid as a dowry for Ginevra, known as I'Azzurina. Now,
desiring of the repatriation of this son, begs Your Highness to excuse
him, notwithstanding the condemnation in absentia, from the fine of 100
lire to be submitted to the treasury, since he is prepared to pay the 75
scudi to Ginevra, called '1' Azzurina,' when she will marry in accordance
with the abovementioned magistrate. Concerning all this he will be held
perpetually obliged to your Serene Highness and will ever after pray God
to keep you most happy.^

Renaissance et R��forme / 85

I was not able to ascertain with certainty what did happened to Ginevra,
but other documents provide at least circumstantial evidence that in spite
of what is stated and implied in the above documents, Pompeo did
eventually marry her. In a letter of December 1604 from Ottavio Rinuccini
in Paris to the Grand Duchess in Florence there is reference to a Ginevra
who received a gift from the Queen of France (Maria de' Medici), (Doc.
VI). The letter does not say what Ginevra did to merit the gift, but the
statement appears in conjunction with a comment about Giulio Caccini's
concert of women's voices during the well-known visit of Giulio and his
family to the French court, and the implication is that Ginevra was also a
singer, perhaps even a member of Giulio's group:"*

Serene Grand Duchess

. . . Signora Ginevra has been recieved by her majesty the Queen with a
show of happiness and of extraordinary satisfaction, and just today [the
Queen] has given her a beautiful pair of diamond earrings, caressing and
favoring her without cease. The concert of Giulio [Caccini] has pleased the
King so much that the music lasted until an hour past midnight, and for
this reason I bow humbly and pray to God for your every happiness.

And in a letter to the Grand Duchess from Camillo Rinuccini in February
of 1608 there is a reference to the "wife of Pompeo" being sent to Mantua
to help in a performance (Doc. VII):

When your Serene Highness left Florence you asked me to write to
Mantova to Signor Ottavio Rinuccini, to make excuses again to those
princes about Your Highness' inability to agree for the women of Giulio
Romano [i.e. the concerto delle donne] partly because they are already
involved in celebrations here, and partly because of their delicate health,
that to travel in unfavourable weather would threaten that they would
not be able to serve either here or there, and to say that, if Their
Highnesses wished to supplement the number of their singers. Your
Highness would send them Livia and Pompeo's wife, who were not yet
involved [in the Florence celebration] and would better tolerate the trip.
I wrote immediately as I was obliged to and received a reply on 19
January in these words: he offered the mentioned singers together with
the excuse for the impossibility of sending the other [singers]. Tell your
Lady that she may know that Their Highnesses are satisfied and that I
have performed my duty as I was obliged . . .

The Mantuan performance referred to above would undoubtedly be
Arianna, Claudio Monteverdi's second opera, on the text by Ottavio
Rinnucini, and Tim Carter has concluded that "Pompeo's wife" probably

86 / Renaissance and Reformation

performed the role of Venus.^ The letter suggests that Pompeo's wife was
of such calibre as a singer that she would be acceptable for performance
at a court known for its high musical quality. My suspicion that this
unnamed wife was probably Ginevra is supported by the fact that once
again the negotiations involved Ottavio Rinuccini, and he has shown
obvious interest in Ginevra in the past both in his request for her to sing
in the 1600 production and in his 1604 letter which singles her out alone
for comment of all the singers with the Caccini entourage in Paris. But
although the two letters hint that Pompeo had eventually married Ginevra,
no documents were found that state clearly that this was so.

As to the importance of the above information to music history, the
"Comedia" mentioned in documents I-IV is surely Euridice with text by Ottavio
Rinuccini and music by Jacopo Peri, produced by Jacopo Corsi.^ And thus
we can conclude that the singer of the Prologue at the first performance was
one Ginevra Mazziere, known by the professional name of "I'Azzurina." The
cast list provided by Palisca can now be amended by the addition of her name
(see Table I). She did not, however, sing the second production whereas
Pompeo sang in the second production but is not listed in the first

Table I:



October 6, 1600

Later Performance

La Tragedia

Ginevra Mazziere

Giovannino del Sig. Emilio


[Caccini dependent]

Caccini's sister-in-law


Jacopo Peri



Antonio Brandi


Tirsi Pastori


Francesco Rasi

Pompeo Caccini


Jacopo Giusti



Castrato del Emilio

Choro di Ninfe

[Caccini dependents]

e pastori


Melchior Palandrotti



[same as Venus]


Piero Mon


[Priest from the

church of the Annunciation]

Renaissance et R��forme / 87

In two of the documents from the Magistrates' court the names of Jacopo
Corsi and Ottavio Rinuccini are given in connection with Euridice, but
neither one mentions the composer of the music — Jacopo Peri. This is not
an unusual occurrence in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century documents
where the authors of texts of various musical productions are mentioned
while the name of the composer is often omitted. We know from several
sources that Corsi and Rinuccini had collaborated as early as 1594 on the
dramatic pastoral Dafne, for which Peri was also invited to contribute
music.^ They must have considered Peri's work to have been quite satisfac-
tory, and the omission of his name by various chroniclers of the time is
probably not to be construed as a judgement of the value of his music. The
reason is most likely a reflection of the different social levels to which the
men belonged; Corsi and Rinuccini were both respected Florentine noble-
men, whereas Peri was not. On an artistic level his contribution was
probably considered to be as important as that of the others, but in the
above-quoted documents and in several other accounts of the first opera,
it was the names of the noblemen that showed the relative importance of
the undertaking.^ Additional evidence of Peri's lack of status and power,
and perhaps an additional reason he was not cited as composer, is reflected
in the actual first performance, at which not all of the music performed was
by him.

In his foreword to the printed version of Euridice, Peri admits that,
although he composed all of the music in that published copy, that was not
what was sung for the first performance.^^ On that occasion Giulio Caccini
wrote his own music for all parts sung by his dependents— that is, the parts
of Euridice, some of the shepherds, the nymphs, and several of the choruses.
To recreate what was actually sung on that occasion, therefore, we must
also look at the printed version of Caccini's setting of the opera for the parts
sung by people under his direction.^ ^ Palisca points out that Peri appears
to have written the lion's share, setting 658 lines of the poetry to only 132
by Caccini. After realizing now that Caccini's son taught the part of La
Tragedia to Ginevra for the first performance, we might suspect that she
sang the version written by Caccini, and that Peri overlooked this item when
making up his list Should this be true, there would actually be very little
change in the proportions of the music written by the two composers,
subtracting 28 lines from Peri's total and adding them to Caccini's.

The Prologue is actually quite simple as written, no matter which version
is considered— either 13 or 14 measures of music (both versions have been
provided in Example I for comparison). What Pompeo was to teach
Ginevra, therefore, must have been his father's particular style of expression

/ Renaissance and Reformation



O ched'alti folpir vagacdi pjanti Spao'hordi

-— ♦—- ♦



p^ gs^g^^ ^ii^^

dogliahordiminaccicilvoIcoFcinegliampi te atrial popol folto fcolo rir di pict�� vol



�� c fcmbianti . Ritomello

f- j ������Hc"

Ricomincia l'Aria medcHma fu le parole i��guentt.



t ^ -l- H ii'

Non (ânguerparfod'jnnocenti vene.
Non ciglia fpcntc di Tiranno infano,
Spettacolo infelice al guardo vmano
Canto fu mcAe , e lagrimofe (c��ne.

^ .. .

Lungi via lungi pur da regij tetti

Simolacri funefli ombre d'aifannt
£ coime{Hcotumi ,eiro(chipanni'
Cangio e dcilo ne i cor ptu dolci aHetti

Hor s*auuerra , che le cangiate forme
Non {��nz'aJto jl^por la terra am min

VoftroReginaffa counto alloro

Quai forfeanco nôcolfc Atene,oRonil,
Fregionon vil fulonorata chioma
Fronda Febea fraduecoronedoro

Tal per roi tomo, e con (��reno afpetto
NeRealilmenei m'adomoancK'io,
£ fu corde plu liete il canto mio
Tempro al nobile cor dolce dileito .

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— ^_ v^t'w. .. »^.. ....w.„. Alto diadema ond'il bel crin (i fregr,

Tal ch'ogni aima gentil ch'ApoJIoinlpiri £ i manti , e feggi degliantichiRegi
Pel mio nouo camiiun calpe Ai l'orme. Del Tr acio Orfco date 1 orecchia al cancOb

Example la. Prologue by Peri

Renaissance et R��forme / 89

rir^ri PROLOGO



1* Oched'alti fbfpir vaga,e di pian trSpan'ordidoglia

fl^- "|ffl-tc




hordi minaccicilvoItoFeincgrampito airi alpopol folto Scoldrir dipic�� volti,e fcmbian-






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d. RitornclJo.


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Non ciglia fptnte di Tiranno infano
Spettacolo infcUce al guardo humano
Onto fil mcftc ,e lacrimofe (ccne.

L>ingi via lungipur da rtgi; tcm
Simulacri funefti , ombre d'affanni
Ecco i mefti coturni , c i fofchi panni
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Hor l'auuerr�� , chc le cangiate forme
Non fcnza alto ftupor la terra ammiri
Talch'ognialmagcntilch'Apollo infpiri
Del mio nouo camœin calpelH l'orme

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£ fu corde pi�� liete il canto mio
Tempro al nobile cor dolce diletto

Mentre Senna Real pr��para intanto
Alto diadema, onde U bel crin fi fre^
E i mauti , e feggi de grandcbi R egi
Del Tracio Orieo date l'orecchie al cita

Example Ib. Prologue by Caccini

90 / Renaissance and Reformation

and ornamentation as discussed and illustrated in Le Nuove Musiche of
1602.^^ According to the tenets of Giulio's new dramatic style, affects were
to be added in order to demonstrate the words, and thus the amount of
notes printed in the score and their apparent simplicity is quite misleading.
The quasi-recitative appearance of the music was little more than a skeleton
upon which the performer was to add the expressive dramatic garments,
varying the embellishments to suit the words of each of the seven verses.
This must have been a fairly difficult technique even at that time. One can
assume that Ginevra had some performance background in order for her
to have been specifically requested by Corsi and Rinuccini, and in fact she
already had the professional name of "L'Azzurina." And yet to learn seven
short verses of music she needed a private vocal coach who spent a sizable
amount of time visiting her.

Facts in the testimony above cause us to review a popularly held
evaluation of Giulio Caccini's personality vis-a-vis Euridice. That the singers
Caccini trained sang his music has always been taken as evidence of his
petulant personality; it was assumed that he forced this on Peri as a condition
for allowing his singers to perform in the opera. And the publication of
Caccini's version of the entire opera soon after the wedding— and prior to that
of Peri - has been considered additional evidence of this irascibility.^^ There
is no doubt that Caccini had a strong and often abrasive personality, and that
an intense rivalry existed between Caccini and Peri, but perhaps we have
presumed too much control to have been in the hands of the musicians. Corsi
and Rinuccini decided on Ginevra as the performer of the prologue, and even
became involved to the point of choosing her vocal coach, indicating the level
of decision-making they reserved to themselves. It is therefore entirely possible
that the choice of the remainder of the cast was also theirs, and that the use
of Caccini's settings for certain portions of the first performance was also at
their request This would not completely change our impression of Giulio
Caccini's character, but in this case we are probably not justified in judging
him so harshly.

The references to Pompeo as Giulio's "bastard son" in Camilla's letter (Doc.
I), and as his "natural son" by the clerk of court (Doc. II), add a bit of
confusion while at the same time contradicting currently held ideas about
Pompeo's parentage. In biographies of Giulio Caccini four children are
identified. There is now sufficient documentary evidence for the birth dates
of the three females, Francesca, (known professionally as "La Cecchina"),
bom on 18 September 1587, Setfimia ("La Flora"), bom on 27 September

Renaissance et R��forme / 91

1591, both children of Giulio and his first wife Lucia, and Dianora, bom
27 November 1599 to Giulio and his second wife, Margherita Benevoli della
Scala.^^ The birthdate of the only son, Pompeo, is less certain, but is usually
given as between 1588 and 1590.^^

Nowhere is a source provided for the supposed birthdate of Pompeo, but
we may strongly suspect that he was not bom in 1588 or 1590 since he
would have been only ten or twelve years old at the time he was found
guilty in the patemity suit. Further, if he was the son of Giulio and Lucia,
how could he be called illegitimate?

Documentation of Giulio and Lucia's wedding is found in an archival
record that provides the information that on the 30th of June, 1584
Francesco de' Medici, Grand Duke of Florence, ordered Napoleone Cambi,
the depositor general, to pay Giulio Caccini 1,000 scudi as a dowry for Lucia
Garglialanti.^^ This, or a date slightly before it, would appear to be the date
of Caccini's wedding.^^ To put the dowry amount in the proper perspective,
according to the pay records of 1588, Giulio was the highest paid member
of the musical group in Florence, receiving 16 scudi per month, as compared
to the more usual wage of 6 scudi paid to Jacopo Peri.^^ Seen in this light,
the dowry from the Grand Duke was extremely generous, worth more than
five years of Giulio's salary. To answer the question of why the Grand Duke
would pay a large dowry— not a wedding gift— on the occasion of the
marriage of one of his singers, we must look into courtly politics and some
rather curious business in Mantua.

In 1581 Vincenzo Gonzaga, Prince of Mantua, married Margherita
Famese, daughter of the govemor of the low countries.^^ But by 1583 there
had been no children and the marriage was annulled on the grounds of
nonconsumation, with each party accusing the other of a physical disability.
Soon after the annullment negotiations were begun between the Mantuan
and Florentine courts for a marriage between Vincenzo and Leonora de'
Medici, but there was hanging over the young prince the suspicion that he
was impotent and the Medici family hesitated. After some negotiations it
was agreed that Vincenzo was to prove himself, and once it was obvious
that he was capable of consumating a marriage he could marry Leonora.
The question itself and the Medici insistence on proof became one of the
most celebrated scandals of the time, and greatly embarrassed the Gonzaga
family.^^ Negotiations went on throughout the winter months of 1583-84,
and it was finally agreed that the Medici family, through the Grand Duke's
secretary Belisario Vinta, would select a young virgin as the means of that
proof. The actual meeting between the Mantuan Prince and the Florentine
virgin took place in Venice (neutral territory) in March, and was deemed a

92 / Renaissance and Reformation

success. At the end of April that year Vincenzo married Leonora and two
months later the Grand Duke offered 1,000 scudi to Giulio Caccini to marry
the expectant Lucia.^^

The evidence is not quite conclusive, but it would make some sense to
believe that Pompeo was the child of Vincenzo Gonzaga and Lucia. A
birthdate in 1584 would have made him sixteen at the time of the paternity
suit — a bit young for marriage in our culture, but quite in keeping with his
own times. That sixteen is not very old would also explain his fear of his
father's displeasure. If my conclusion is correct, the references in the
depositions to the magistrates' court are both technically wrong in their
references to Pompeo's relationship to Giulio. He would certainly have been
illegitimate, having been conceived out of wedlock by Lucia, but neither
"figlio bastardo" nor "figlio naturale" is correct in reference to Giulio. But
then perhaps there was no way to describe that rather peculiar relation-
ship—as there is not at present.^^

In any case, Pompeo must have been quite a talented young man both
in music and in art At the age of sixteen, in addition to singing in the
second production of Peri's Euridice, he was already demonstrating suffi-
cient teaching ability that the seasoned dramatists Corsi and Rinuccini
would recommend him as a tutor for one of the roles in their presentation
on a most important occasion. In addition, the testimony of the cleric
Mich��le Dati indicates that at that age he was already producing paintings
on commission, and the will of Jacopo Corsi indicates that a set of stools
and a picture painted by Pompeo existed in that household before 1602.^^
Pompeo therefore practised not only his father's profession but that of his
then-famous uncle, Giovanni Caccini, who was a noted sculptor and
architect at the Medici court at the end of the sixteenth century.

Although his later career is little known to us, Pompeo apparently
continued to distinguish himself in both music and art. A document from
1609 records that he sang a Christmas lauda written by Ottavio Rinuccini;^"*
an art work of his can be found in the Capella Strozzi in S. Trinita in
Florence, along with two statues by his uncle; and a bust of Gabriello
Chiabrera reported to have been in Genoa is signed by Pompeo and dated
1624.^^ In 1620 he both designed the scenery for the opera L'Aretusa, favola
in musica by Filippo Vitali and sang the role of Alfeo.^^ On his versatility
and musical competence we have his father's letter of 1611 to Piero Strozzi,
recommending Pompeo for service in the Medici household and claiming
that he is competent in music theory, plays chitarrone and is proficient at
accompanying voices.^^ Along with his half-sisters Francesca and Settimia,
Pompeo obviously inherited a good measure of artistic talent from his

Renaissance et R��forme / 93

mother Lucia Garglialanti. Encouraged and coached by his father and
uncle, he developed into one of the more versatile members of the Caccini

If we should now cast our gaze somewhat wider, the story of Pompeo and
his mother tells us a bit more about the social position of musicians. That
musicians were of the servant class on into the twentieth century is a
well-known fact. They had little money, usually less education, and were
considered to be on a distinctly lower social plane than the wealthy
throughout most of recorded history. But to reflect on the fate of Lucia
Garglialanti in relation to what could be demanded of her by her royal
masters gives a much harder focus to the concept of servant. There is no
reason to suspect that this was an isolated event— Anthony Newcomb has
documented a similar case in relation to Girolamo Frescobaldi from only
a few years later.^^ Gifted as some of the musicians of the court may have
been, they were still subject to their noble employers in every way. As
depressing as that realization may be, to realize that many of them rose to
great artistic heights in spite of it is an encouraging monument to the
resiliance and independence of the artistic spirit


Document I

Sereniss[i]mo Gran Duca

Cammilla di Piero mazziere, nipote di Don Stefano Buonsignori,
hurailissiraa serva di V.S A povera con sei fanciuUe, supplichevolmente
recorrendo all�� sue grazie gli espone qualmente disiderosa se li facessi
giustizia del gran torto e disonore fattoli da Pompeo figliolo bastardo di
Giulio Romano, perche' avendo bazzicato lungo tempo in sua casa, per
insegnare cantare il prologo d��lia comedia alla Ginevra delta l'Azzurrina
sua figliola permettendoli tale bazzica detta supplicante per compiacere
alli signori Giacopo Corsi et Ottavio Rinuccini, quali di cio' 1' aveano
richiesta a consignato detto giovane per insegnarla, con esperanza di
acquistare la dote per maritarla e principalmente per servire la Cristian-
issima Reina i Francia e VAS. come era suo obligo, ebbe ardire un
giorno appostando che la detta fanciuUa fussi sola in casa, aprir l'uscio
con chiave falsa Itro ferro, et facendoli violenza stuprarla et ingravidarla,
il che tacque la detta supplicante perche' il giovane diede parola a'
gentiluomini, fece scritta e promesse di torla per sua moglie, fînita la
comedia. Essendo poi stato ritenuto et sviato fuora da suo padre, acci 1
matrimonio non seguisse, fece ricorso al Magistrato degli Otto da' quali

94 / Renaissance and Reformation

�� stata data sentenza troppo piacevole e facile al giovane et non condegna
di si' grave delitto avendolo condannato a scudi 75 solaraente senza altra
pena afflittiva essendo meritevole seconde li statuti di Firenze a legge
comuni della galera. Pertanto ricorre ora a VA-S. si degni farli giustizia,
come suole a tutti, et non permetta che cosi' miseramente perda I'onore
lei et le altre povere fanciulle ne che il suo fratello e cognato, non solita
�� far, ne �� sopportar dishonore orto alcuno, se no consorecto per vie
illecite rimediarvi, ne che essa supplicante, essendo di parenti honora-
tissimi quali han servito sempre fedeliss[iraamen]te e al pr��sente servono
la sereniss[im]a casa de' Medici vedendoli �� torto perdere di honore, ne
appelli al suntuo tribunale ... 27 feb. 1600 [1601].29

Francesco Buoninsegni

Florence Archivio di Stato (hereafter ASF), Otto di Guardia, Suppliche
2300, # 52

Document II

La Cammilla supplicante fece querela a Pompeo figliolo di Giulio
Romano naturale, che praticando esso Pompeo in casa sua, con occa-
sione che cantando la Ginevra sua figliola ancora di Musica andovi ad
insegnarli il prologo della Comedia, et invaghitasi di detta Ginevra sotto
pretesto di volerla per moglie un giorno entrasse in casa, non sendovi la
madr��, et con lusinghe e promesse e parte forza usasse con lei car-
nalmente che ne resto gravida; e in contumacia il magistrate lo condann
1 di' 12 di febbraio 1600 [1601] per lo stupro in lire cento ed a dotare la
Ginevra in scudi 75, con condizione che pigliandola per moglie si
intenda libero dalla detta dotazione; Hora parrendo alla madr�� che
questa sente [nz] a non basta a recuperar l'honore toltoli, et aile promesse
fatta, et desiderando che venghi e effettuato il parentado, domanda che
se li dia tal castigo, che l'induca �� osservare quanto ha promesso, se ne
vorr�� liberarse, et metterli tempo prefiss, in cancellaria il di 15 di Marzo
1600 [1601].

Buoninsegni primo d'aprile 1601

ASF. Otto di Guardia, Suppliche 2300, # 52.

Document III

A di 12 di marzo 1600 [1601] in Firenze

lo Gian Jacopo Cini fo fede come questi mesi a dreto avendo bazzicato
continuamente per conto della seta in casa di Mona Cammilla di Piero
mazziere ho conosciuto lei e sue fanciulle onoratissime, e perche' vi ho veduto
bazzicare del continue Pompeo Caccini, per accertarmi della cagione la
dimandai. La detta Mona Cammilla mi respose che venia perch dal Signer
Jocome Corsi e Signer Ottavie Rinuccini gli era stato ordinate che venisse
per insegnar cantare il prolego della Cemedia alla Ginevra sua figliela e

Renaissance et R��forme / 95

ancora perch avea proraesso e fatto in scritto di torla per moglie, finita
la Comedia. E nel tempo d��lie nozze d��lia Cristianissima reina di
Francia avendo veduto nel dito d��lia sopra detta Ginevra un anello con
tre perle, dicendoli che non aveva serbatorai li confeti imraaginandomi
che l'avessi impalmata, rai rispose che glielo aveva fatto Porapeio, ma
non che finita la Coraedia avrei avuto le confezioni. Fo fede ancora come
il medesimo ho inteso da bocca di esso Pompeo, il quale un giorno
ragionando insieme nel gioco d��lia Carda in Campaccio mi disse che
per timor�� di suo padre, allora sdegnato contro esso Pompeo e la detta
Ginevra perche' contro sua voglia recitava il prologo, e ancora per
parecchiarsi pi�� comodaraente non potea sposarla, se non finita la
comedia e per essere questa la verita arichiesta di detta mona Camilla
ho fatto la pr��sente di mia propria mano e volonta . . .

Gia[n] iacomo Francescho Cini di Firenze
ASF. Otto di Guardia, Suppliche 2300, # 52

Document IV

lo Mich��le di Jacopo Date canonico fiorentino fo fede come pi�� mesi
sono Pompeo Caccini figliolo di Giulio Romano, con occasione che io
andai a bottega del Cigoli, dove lavorava detto Pompeo, per soUecitarli
due quadri di paesi che avea presi a farmi, mi preg he io volessi essere
mezzano con madonna Camilla moglie di Piero mazziere che si
contentassi di andare avanti ancora un anno o diciotto mesi senza
scoprire il parentado che egli aveva fatto con lei d��lia figliola, e questo
per potere intanto avanzare de' suoi guadagni da potere fomirsi una
camera, il che non gli potria riuscire ogni volta che da suo padre fussi
mandato fuori di casa come gli awerrebbe come sapessi che egli avessi
tolto moglie senza suo consenso; il che io feci con detta Madona
Camrailla, la quale mi alleg olte ragioni per le quali non doveva ne'
poteva aspettare queste tempo. Di che io so esser cosi' la verit, fo fede
con questa di mia propria mano questo di' sopra in Firenze.

Mich��le Dati Con[oni]co dello Catted [raie] Fior[en]za sottoscritto

13 Marzo 1600 [1601]

ASF. Otto di Guardia, Suppliche 2300, # 52.

Document V
26 Giu[gno] 1601
Ser[enissi]mo Gran Duca

Giulio Caccini humiliss[i]mo servit[o]re et Vassallo di V[ostra] A[ltezza]
Ser[enissi]ma con ogni d��bita riverenza li espone come �� i mesi passati
fu condannato in contumacia del Magistrate de gli otto Pompeo suo
fîglio in pena di lire cento de gli otto applicate al Fisco et in Scudi
settantacinque per depositarsi e pagarsi per Dote alla G[in]ev[r]a detta
l'Azzurrina. Hora desiderando ripatriare detto suo figlio supplica �� VA.

96 / Renaissance and Reformation

che gli voglia far gratia non ostante la contumacia, delle cento lire
applicate al fisco essendo pronto nel resto di pagare li scudi settanta-
cinque �� detta Azzurrina ogni volta, che si mariter�� conforme all' ordine
del suddetto magistrato, che di tutto ne terra perpetuo obbligo a VA
ser.ma per la quale pregher�� sempre il N[ostro] Siglnojre Dio che
preservi felicissima

�� messr Fr[ancis]co Boninsegni non ostand.
ASF. Otto di Guardia Suppliche 2300, # 276

Document VI

...La Sig.ra Ginevra �� stata ricevuta dala Maesta della Regina con
dimostratione d'allegrenza, e di contento straordinario, e pur hoggi le
ha' donato un bel para d'orecchini di diaraanti ne cessa d' accarezzarla
e favorirla. Il concerto di Giulio �� piaciuto al Re talmente che la musica
dur n' hora dopo mezza note e per cui inchinandomele umilm.te le prego
dal Sig[no]re ogni f��licita di Parigi li 13 di dicembre 1604.

Devotis[simament]e e humiliss[imament]e Vass[allo]

Ottavio Rinucc[ini]

ASF. Mediceo del Principato, Filza 5987, fol. 402

Document VII
Serenissima Gran Duchessa

Quando VA.S. parti di Fiorenze ella mi impose che io scrivessi a
Mantova al signor Ottavio Rinuccini che facesse nuove scuse co quel
principi sopra il non gli compiacere VA.S. delle donne di Giulio
Romano, parte per essere di gi�� impiegate in queste feste di qui, parte
per la poca robustezza di tutte, che viaggiando in tempo strano avian
potuto patire e non servire ne l�� ne qu; e che se quelle Altezze volean
accrescere il num��ro dei loro cantati che VA gli avrebbe mandato la
Livia e la moglie di Pompeo, che non erano ancora impiegate e
reggerebbano meglio al viaggio. Io scrissi subito come dovevo e ne ebbe
risposta de' 19 di gen[naio] con queste parole a'punto: Offersi le
cantatrice a offerta, e la scusa insieme della impossibilit�� di mandare le
altre, dicalo a Madama, a ci appia che queste Altezze restano sodisfatte
e che io ho fatto l'uffizio che io dovevo ... 5 febfraio] 1607 [1608]

Camillo Rinuccini

ASF. Mediceo del Principato, Filza 5994

University of Toronto

Renaissance et R��forme / 97


Note: I am grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for
support of this research, and to Tim Carter, Dennis McAuliffe, Claude Palisca, Domenico
Pietropaolo, and Barbara Sella for assistance.

1 Claude V. Palisca, *The First Performance of 'Euridice,' " Queens College Department of
Music Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Festschrift (1937-1962), ed. Albert Mell (New York: Queens
College 1964), pp.1-23.

2 This seems to be a pun stemming from the colloquial use of "far mangiare i confetti"
meaning "to celebrate a wedding." Cini was probably jokingly asking Ginevra why she
had not saved herself for him.

3 Upon Jacopo Corsi's death in 1602, Giulio Caccini paid the estate a debt totalling just
under 75 scudi (74.3.10 ducats). It is tempting to see a connection between this sum and
the 75 scudi fee required of the Caccinis to be placed on deposit for the dowery. See Tim
Carter, "Music and Patronage in Late Sixteenth-Centuiy Florence: The Case of Jacopo
Corsi (1561- 1602),"/ Tam' Studies, Essays in the Renaissance 1 (Florence: I Tatti, 1985), n.
88. Knowledge of the details of Pompeo's paternity suit and of the possible fate of young
sopranos may have weighed heavily in the 1603 decision of Vincenzo Gonzaga not to
allow the young soprano Caterina Martinelli to stay in Florence at the house of Giulio
Caccini in order to study voice. See Edmond Strainchamps, "The Life and Death of
Caterina Martinelli: New Light on Monteverdi's *Arianna,' " Early Music History 5, ed.
Iain Fenlon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 155-86.

4 On the tradition of the Concerto delle donne in Ferrara, Mantua, Florence, and Rome, see
Anthony Newcomb, The Madrigal at Ferrara, 1579-1597, 2 vols. (Princeton: Princeton
Univ. Press, 1980).

5 Tim Carter, "A Florentine Wedding of 160S," Acta Musicologica, 55 (1983) 100. Carter also
points out that there was another Pompeo at the Florence court, the lutenist Pompeo di
Girolamo da Modena. Remo Giazotto, Le due patrie di Giulio Caccini (Florence: Leo S.
Olschki, 1984), p.30, suggests that the part of Venus may have been played by Settimia
Caccini, but there is no record of her having been in Mantua at that time while her name
does appear on the list of performers for the performance scheduled to take place in
Florence at the same time (see Carter, "Rorentine Wedding," pp. 105-07).

6 For details of the wedding and the performances, see Palisca, "First Performance."

7 After Palisca, "First Performance," pp.1 1-12, with additions.

8 For details see Palisca, Baroque Music (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice- Hall, Inc.,
1%8), p.30. For details of Peri's life see Tim Carter, "Jacopo Peri," Music and Letters 61
(1980), 121-35.

9 In two diary accounts of the performance only Emilio dei Cavalieri (a nobleman and
Florentine ambassador) is mentioned in conjunction with the opera, and in one of them
he is given credit as composer. See Antonio Solerti, Musica, ballo e drammatica alia Corte
Medicea dal 1600 al 1637 (Florence: Benporad e Figlio, 1905), p.25.

10 Jacopo Peri, Euridice (Florence: Giorgio Marescotti, 1601). Facsimile (Rome: Reale
Accademia d'ltalia, 1934), and (Bologna: Libreria Editrice Fomi, 1969). Modem edition,
Howard Mayer Brown ed.. Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era, vols. 36,
37 (Madison, Wisconsin: A-R Editions, 1981). Translation of the Forward in Oliver
Strunk, Source Readings in Music History: The Baroque Era (New York: W.W. Norton 1965),

11 Giulio Caccini, Euridice (Florence: Giorgio Marescotti, 1600). Translation of the
"Dedication" in Strunk, Source Readings, p. 10.

98 / Renaissance and Reformation

12 Giulio Cdiccini, Le Nuove Musiche (Florence: Marescotti, 1601 [1602]). Modern edition, H.
Wiley Hitchcock, ��d.. Recent Researches in the Baroque Era (Madison, Wisconsin: A-R
Editions, 1970). Translation of "Forward" in Strunk, Source Readings, pp.17-32.

13 See Howard M. Brown, "Music - How Opera Began: An Introduction to Jacopo Peri's
Euridice (1600)," The Late Italian Renaissance, ed. Eric Cochrane (New York: Harper &
Row, 1970), pp.401-43. Brown refers to Caccini's setting as "the only 'spite opera' in the
history of music" (p.421).

14 Documents for baptism of Settemia and Dianora discussed and published Maria Adelaide

Bacherini Bartoli, "Giulio Caccini. Nuove fonti biografiche e lettere in��dite," Studi
Musicali 9 (1980) 62-3, 65.

15 It is given as "prima del 1588" in Enciclopedia dello spettacolo (Rome: Le Maschere, 1954),
II, col. 1447-53; and Giazotto {Le due Patrie, p.29, n. 1) provides the date of 1578 without
source. This of course would contradict the information below. I have not been able to
trace any source for Giazotto's date.

16 ASF Depositeria g��n��rale Recasuti di Cassa no. 995.

17 Newcomb {The Madrigal, p.91) believes that the Concerto delle donne in Florence from
as early as 1584 consisted of Vittoria Archilei, Laura Bovia, and Lucia Caccini. With the
date of Lucia's marriage now established, her membership in this group from after June
1584 is probable.

18 Carter, "Jacopo Peri," p.l24. These sums may not indicate their exact incomes. It is
possible that Peri received other fees, and that Caccini's fee included that for his 'concerto
delle donne.' I am indebted to Tim Carter for this caution.

19 Iain Fenlon, Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-century Mantua, 2 vols. (Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1980), p.82.

20 Letters, documents, and memos relating the entire episode including the actual proof in
clinical detail are preserved in ASF Mediceo, Filza 6354, and published in II parentado
fra la principessa Eleonora de' Medici e il principe Don Vicenzo Gonzaga e i Cimenti a cuifu
costretto il detto Principe per attestare come egli fosse abile alia generazione (Firenze, 1886;
rpt Bologna: Fomi, 1967).

21 In the published document cited in footnote 20, secretary Vinta gives the name of the
virgin only once, calling her Giulia: "Questo d\ 22 verso la sera in cocchio ho fatto venir
la fanciulla in casa. Il nome �� Giulia, �� in 21 anno, �� grande ... 22 febbraio 1584 [1584]."
(p. 121). But in the introduction to the published documents the nineteenth-century editor
(unnamed) states that in a diary by Susier there exists reference to the young girl, that
she was taken to Florence and after giving birth became the wife of "un Giuliano, musico
romano, con dote di tre mila scudi" (p. 6). With the rest of the facts provided here, it
would seem probable that Vinta made a small mistake and that "Giulia" was "Lucia."

22 In the cast list for the second production of Peri's Euridice the singer of the part of
Euridice is listed only as Caccini's sister-in-law. It is now possible to suggest a name for
this role, Margherita Garglialanti, sister of Lucia. In his discussion of the cast for the
1589 Florentine intermedio, Iain Fenlon states that "Lucia Caccini performed ... in the
terzetti of Cavalieri's ballo together with her sister Margherita," {Music and Patronage,
p.82). Although Lucia had died earlier and Giulio had remarried (to a woman also named
Margherita), in 1600 Lucia's sister would still be his sister-in-law, and we do know that
eleven years earlier she had sung in a public performance.

23 See Carter, "Music and Patronage," n. 55, 65.

24 "Con musica ecelente e doppo lo ufitio Ponpeo Caccini cant n musica una lauda della
nativit�� bellis[si]ma conposta dal Sig.re Ottavio Rinucini." ASF Compagnie religiose

Renaissance et R��forme / 99

soppresse 162, no. 21, quoted in Edmond Strainchamps, "Marco da Gagliano and the
Compagnia Dell'Arcangelo Raffaello in Florence: An Unknown Episode in the Composer's
Life," Essays Presented to Myron P. Gilmore 2 Vols., ed. Sergio Bertelli and Gloria Ramakus
(Florence: La Nuova Italia Editrice, 1978), II, 476, 486).

25 Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, vol. 16 (Rome: Enciclopedia Italiana, 1973), pp.34-5.

26 Enciclopedia dello spettacolo, col. 1452, and Bartoli, "Giulio Caccini," p.64.

27 Published in Bartoli "Giulio Caccini," pp.70- 1.

28 "Girolamo Frescobaldi (1608-1615). A Documentary Study," Annales musicologiques 7
(1964-77), Soci��t�� de Musique d'autrefois, pp. 122-34.

29 The documents are dated according to the old calendar in which the year began on
March 25. 1 have provided the modem date in square brackets.

Disjunctive Images in Renaissance Books


V olumes that contain both pictures and words are normally referred to as
illustrated books, and we are usually justified in assuming that the two
modes provide complementary visual and verbal representation of the same
material. But in the first century or so of printing, editions of histories,
romances, vernacular versions of the classics, in fact, the kinds of books
most likely to contain pictures, often appear with text and image sharing
the page just as travellers in the period might have shared a bed at an inn:
proximity, even contact, implies neither contamination nor intimate con-
nections. To call such pictures illustrations would be to participate in
etymological paradox since they cannot be said to shed light on the text
they accompany. They will be referred to here as "disjunctive pictures." The
discussion that follows examines some of the questions raised by the
presence of disjunctive pictures in early printed books. ^

Scholars have noted— generally in passing— the phenomenon of the
disjunctive picture. It tends to be treated either with benign neglect or
malicious interference. Some scholars note as a neutral fact that picture
and text appear unrelated; more generally a generic link— battle scene for
joust in text— is considered satisfactory explanation for the choice and
placement of a woodcut Eisenstein, noting the "notoriously inappropriate
uses to which many woodcuts and engravings were put," does not perceive
this as defining a problem, and categorizes them simply as errors.^ Ong has
urged that the picture be understood as relief from the labors of the text, a
point of view that might easily require that one consider a disjunctive picture
functionally superior to an illustration.^ One immediate difficulty with this
assumption is that, rather than decorating the pages of philosophical or
legal treatises, disjunctive pictures tend to accompany texts that themselves
were considered to have an element of recreation.'* It has been suggested
that a major function of pictures may have been to help the reader find his
place on a page crowded with print, in volumes that admittedly are rarely
properly paginated.^ This would be more convincing if a given woodcut did
not so often appear three, five or more times in the same volume.^ Others

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 2 (1990) 101

102 / Renaissance and Reformation

have attempted to forge links between image and text by alleging allegory
or typology when the text itself shows no sign of such thought.^ These
diverse responses all share the same disadvantage: by dismissing questions
implicitly posed by the use of disjunctive pictures, they block broader
consideration of the issue. It is time to turn to some of these questions.

Any investigation in the history of the book is complicated by the fact
that books are at once material, intellectual, and aesthetic objects. The forces
contributing to the presence of disjunctive pictures may come from any of
these aspects of the book. What kinds of economic factors might have
shaped a publisher's decision to include pictures in a given volume? Did
books with pictures have inherently greater prestige or a larger potential
audience? Were pictures used to accommodate illiterates or sub-literates
sharing the households of readers? What expectations did the book-user
bring to pictures found within a volume? How were narrative pictures, which
frequently contain a diachronic series of scenes, "read"?^ Are there other
contemporary manifestations that are similarly disjunctive or fragmenting,
and that might shed light on the problem? These are some of the questions
implied in an investigation of disjunctive pictures in early printed books.

Woodcuts are the most usual source of images in early printed books.^
Some understanding of the production and modes of use of woodblocks is
relevant to our subject. With notable exceptions, they tend to be anonymous,
corporate productions. A printed image is the end result of the work of a
designer who drew a picture and a cutter who incised the block. In the
history of book decoration, we seldom have any way of knowing who they
were.^^ Making any kind of visual census is greatly complicated by the fact
that woodcut blocks could readily be copied, so that a given image might
theoretically be reproduced almost indefinitely. Details were easy to remove
by cutting away any unwanted raised (printing) areas of the block; they
could be added with slightly more effort and skill by carefully removing a
plug of carved wood from any part of a block and replacing it with another,
differently carved. Blocks could also be changed by sawing off sections,
leaving the bulk of the block to go on to another career, or, less often,
producing two useable blocks from one. In short, the woodcut offered
considerable and often realized flexibility. Moreover, woodblocks were
durable objects. The world of the early printed book generally showed a
strong reluctance to discard functional physical objects. Adult clothing was
passed on to servants or, avoiding the more severely worn portions, cut
down to fit children. Eventually it was used as rags, and the cotton or linen
scraps finally sold to the ragman, thence to the papermaker, and next to
the printer where the rags became books whose pages may still be fresh

Renaissance et R��forme / 103

today, or which may have passed on to strengthen the spines of other books
or wrap small objects or serve in the privy before finally disappearing.
Publishers may well have applied the same mentality to woodcuts. They
certainly did sometimes use woodcut blocks until they were too worn to
produce a recognizable image. ^^ This is an impulse to be reckoned with,
but alone it is not enough to account for disjunctive pictures.

Sometimes woodcut blocks' careers seem to have been arbitrarily deter-
mined by the printers or more often publishers who owned them. La Mer
des Histoires, a popular history, contains a description of the baptism of
Clovis. There is an accompanying woodcut (Fig. 1) showing on the left the
actual baptism, and on the right the events leading to it: the battle of Tolbiac,
the miraculous dove bringing Saint R��my the holy chrism, the Christian
faith of Clovis' wife Clothilde. This block was used several times in Le
Rouge's 1489 edition. One might expect its appearance at moments that are
in some way analogous to the baptism of Clovis; instead it reappears, for
example, at the account of the death of Charles le bel, which deals neither
with conversions nor battles won.

Another large block in the same edition oïLa Merdes histoires reappears
three years later in Antoine Verard's edition of Josephus' De la Guerre
Judaïque (1492), and then annually for the next three years in new editions
of the Chroniques de France (1493), Lancelot du Lac (1494), and Le Mirouer
historial (1495) (Fig. 2), all published by the same Verard, who was very
likely the greatest publisher of books with woodcuts in France as the
fifteenth century gave way to the sixteenth. The woodcut in question was
used by Verard at least twice more, in 1509 in a translation of the Aeneid,
as well as in an undated jB/We histori��e. The repeated use of a single complex
and striking composition in at least seven books, all folio, and therefore all
making a certain implicit claim to luxury, is curious enough, but what we
have here is not a case of simple reuse. Although the picture is not
necessarily used in an illustrative relation to the texts, the central figure in
the foreground undergoes adaptive alterations. The man who is portrayed
as a bishop in Josephus has become a king in the Chroniques and a knight
in the Lancelot, suggesting that a deliberate effort was being made to
coordinate verbal and visual themes (Fig. 3).

On careful consideration, the plot thickens. The king who appeared first
1493, reappears in 1495 and 1509.^^ Between these dates, in 1494, he had been
changed to a knight Two suppositions are possible. There may have been
two blocks, one a copy of the original block varying only in the headgear.
Or there might be only one block, a section of which was carefully sawn
out. This hole could then be filled with the original plug or with another

104 / Renaissance and Reformation


f��aa 6dt0 Se Smaaint0,/bmrmxpf

9€nurtfdcoettf aui i f u tn fuf(9mt0
«|Hnîf ^r par omj^ foirtr 1(11 (Scffiw
9u Vo]f P$tfÉppr Uvtteif modir Sr


Figure 1

La Mer des Hystoires (Paris: Le Rouge, 1489) reproduced from

Ponomarenko & Roussel, op. cit fig. 405.

Renaissance et R��forme / 105

Figure 2

Le Miroir Hystorial (Paris 1495) reprcxiuced from Ponomarenko and

Roussel, op. oit, fîg. 367.

106 / Renaissance and Reformation

État primitif : 7 d��cembre 1402.

(Jos��phe, Bataille judaïque, fnc. 8

[sign, a viiij v<»).


!«' ��tat moJî5��:9 juillel-io srepîcm- 2* ��tat modifie : i*' juillet 1494
brc 1493 {.Chroniques de France^ [Lancelot du Lac, tome I, fol. 86

tome I, fol. 60, sign, h un, y*). [sii»"- ^n v], v«).

Figure 3

Reproduced from Andr�� Martin, "Sur une gravure d'Antoine Verard,"

Jievue des Livres anciens I 0914) o. 19.

Renaissance et R��forme / 107

exactly cut to fît the opening and carved with the variant. For our purposes
it makes little difference which method produced the variant; in either case
there was a deliberate decision to use an existing composition in the works
mentioned above rather than seeking a new picture to accompany a new
book. At the same time that there seems to be a very low priority attributed
here to the concordance of text and image, paradoxically, efforts have been
made — in creating three "hats" — to assure a kind of minimal shared domain
for the two media housed between the covers of a single volume.

This example is not unique. A 1498 Gnininger edition of the works of
Horace includes several woodcuts that had appeared the year before in the
same publisher's edition of Sebastian Brant's Narrenschiff. Here too the
blocks reappear with slight but significant alterations: a woman emptying
a chamber-pot from a window on the admirer who is serenading her below
(in the Narrenschiff) reappears as merely a woman leaning out of the window
(in the Horace), the chamber-pot having been excised from the block and
replaced by a newly carved plug that continues the brick pattern of the
house (Fig. 4).^^ Again one must wonder how the Narrenschiff block was
chosen from among Gruninger's collection, and even more why, if an effort
is being made to ally picture and text, a real illustration was not provided.

In 1494 Verard published La Bible des Po��tes, a French paraphrase of
Ovid's Metamorphoses. The story of Arachne can easily be followed in the
accompanying illustration (Fig. 5), containing two scenes: in the left
background Arachne is visited by Athena in disguise; in the right fore-
ground the loom lies overturned, Arachne, turned into a spider as punish-
ment for her pride, contrasts sharply with the triumphant figure of Athena.
It is surprising to find a woodcut so clearly tied to such a familiar story
reappearing at the start of Book Seven of the Aeneid published by Verard
in 1509. Book Seven, which recounts Aeneas' arrival at Latium, has no
apparent connections to the themes of Arachne's tale.

In 1532 we find another paraphrase of Ovid's Metamorphoses, Le Grand
Olympe des histoires po��tiques (Lyon: Morin), whose pictures were brought
together from several sources. Some of them were obviously cut to illustrate
an Aeneid. I say obviously because the figures originally depicted were
labeled with their names on the block and no one troubled to carve them
flat when the block was reused. Thus, one little picture captioned "le conseil
des dieux pour destruire le monde" might pass for a small divine council
since it shows a figure on a throne flanked by a man on each side, were it
not that the figures are still marked as being Latius, Tumus and Drantus
(sic). Other blocks from the same Aeneid are scattered through the volume,
sometimes as here, plausibly, sometimes completely disjunctively. In the

108 / Renaissance and Reformation

Figure 4a

Sebastian Brant, Das Narrenschiff Strassburg: Griininger, 1494)

reproduced from Lock Geeraedts, op. cit. p. 316.

Figure 4b

Horace Opera (Strassburg: Griininger, 1498) reproduced from Lock

Geeraedts, op. cit, p. 316.

Note that the original block has been cut into two sections with one

of the figures from Grilninger's Terence placed between them.

Renaissance et R��forme / 109

uni J/^ m/'

Figure 5

Arachne from The Bible des Po��tes (Paris, 1494), reproduced in

Ponomarenko and Roussel, op. cit, flg. 170.

no / Renaissance and Reformation

same spirit, a 1548 edition of Rabelais' Quart Livre uses blocks from some
work containing the life of Achilles, for the characters are labelled Thetis,
Achilles, Chyron, etc, and repeated several times (e.g. chaps. 4 and 1 1).

All these examples— the case of the changing hat, the disappearing
chamber-pot, the tenacious Virgilian labels— attest to the degree to which
the simple fact of physical existence granted special status to a block. There
is some temptation to attribute this to economic forces— the desire to avoid
having to pay to have a new block designed— but this is a slight savings,
particularly when, as in the two cases we have just examinined, some costs
of recutting had in any event to be paid. The pric^ of producing a block
was clearly subject to a number of considerations: its size (larger crack-free
planks were more difficult to obtain), the complexity of its design and detail,
and in a few cases, the reputation of the craftsmen involved in its
production. Evidence of cutting costs is spotty and requires interpretation,
but overall it suggests that the cost of cutting a new block— especially a
small and simple one, as most were— was not great enough to allow us to
describe the use of disjunctive pictures as primarily economically driven.
Wilson (op. cit. p. 244) gives figures for the production of the heavily
illustrated Archetypus Triumphantis Romae, where, in the Germany of the
1490's, woodplanks for 217 blocks cost nine florins, four pounds, ten denars,
while drawing the same number of pictures on paper cost about the same.
The next step, transferring the pictures to the wood, cost thirty-seven florins,
although we are now, inexplicably, speaking of a total of 361 blocks, the
cutting of which cost a further 148 florins. What emerges from these figures
is the sense that cutting, not designing, was the most expensive part of the
process. But we must not forget another important financial consideration
in the eariy days of printing, the cost of paper itself ^"^ In the case of the
book in question, the paper would appear to have cost between one and
two florins a ream, that is, in an edition of 500 copies, the cost of the sheet
of paper it was printed on would have been equal to the total cost of
preparing the woodblock. ^^ The evidence does not suggest that any great
savings accrued from reusing an existing design, or even from relatively
complex modifications to an existing block (as must have been the case
with the changing hats cited above). The simplest economy measure would
have been to save paper costs by leaving out an image that had no particular
tie to the text, and yet

Another impulse with minimal economic implictions that can be seen at
work over and over again in early printed books' pictures is the tendency
to respect a composition. Once it has been created, an existing design is
treated as authoritative, that is, taken as the definition of how that subject

Renaissance et R��forme / 1 1 1

should be displayed. When a publisher prepared to issue an edition of a
work already published elsewhere, he might rent, borrow, or pirate the
existing designs, or he might have them copied freely so that the new block,
while it differs in style, repeats most of the elements of its predecessor,
presenting them in roughly the same form and spatial arrangement.^^ This
respect for existing compositions echos the respect for physical objects
discussed earlier, and suggests a recurrent mechanism of the habits of mind
of the world we are looking at, and one that also contributed— polyvalently
perhaps— to the production of disjunctive pictures. In just this way the
illustrations for the first edition of Sebastian Brant's Narrenschiff (Basle:
Bergman von Olpe, 1494) laid out the basic composition of illustrations
found in later editions printed elsewhere in Germany, in the Low-Countries,
and in England. These may appear with new woodcuts but they are closely
based on the composition of those in the editio princeps, rendering the design
within the limits of local craftsmanship, sometimes in mirror-image. It is
as though, in a process analogous to the translation of the text into say,
English, in which one must cleave to the content of the original, the pictures
are being "Englished" as well (Fig. 6).^^ This continues even when the ties
binding text and image are broken by translation. The motto of Brant's
chapter on Envy (=Neid, in German) refers to Herr Neidhdixa. (=Mr.
Envious) and the picture shows an episode in the adventures oiNeidhdiv��
the Fox. While stories concerning the fox may have been familiar in other
linguistic settings, the pun connecting the fox to envy, and the motto itself,
ceased to exist in translation, rendering the picture disjunctive. It was
nonetheless reçut in England and elsewhere.

Authority of this kind preserved the title image of the Adventures of Til
Eulenspiegel (depicting an owl sitting before a mirror) from edition to
edition, from country to country. The image originated in Germany where
it is a rebus for the name, Eulenspiegel: Eule meaning owl: Spiegel, mirror.
In English, that hero was known as Howleglasse, so the image remained
appropriate to the text The image appears just as regularly in French
editions although in French translations the name was Til l'Espi��gle, (Til
the Mischievous) capitalizing on the resemblance of sounds, reflecting Til's
character, but obliterating the rebus.

Another example of continuity starts with the series of blocks created by
the Strassburg publisher Griininger for his 1496 edition of Terence. Since
the plays tend to repeat a series of stock characters, old father, young lover,
servant, and so forth, Griininger had pictures representing each of these
types cut on separate blocks which could then be reassembled like a
pictorial alphabet to suit any given scene. In Paris Verard would seem to

112 / Renaissance and Reformation

Figure 6a Facsimile of original ed. Das Narrenschijf

(Basle: Bergman von Olpe, 1494

Figure 6b London: Pynson, 1509

Figure 6c Lx)ndon: Wynkyn de Worde, 1509

Figure 6d Rostock, 1519.

Renaissance et R��forme / 113

have copied Grûninger*s clever idea, just as the Narrenschiff images had
been copied: keeping the composition but producing new blocks in the
local style. He also introduced an improvement: each block was morticed
so that moveable type could be inserted into a carved banderole, announc-
ing the character's name in that particular use, that is, so the picture might
seem to be an illustration. Here again we have a paradox: surely the function
of an illustration is to enhance, concretize, or individuate ideas presented
in the text These pictures, although created for the words they accompany,
individuate only so long as the reader limits himself to one play. When the
same image of a young man appears again and again, with only the letters
in its banderole altered, far from particularizing, the technique would seem
at best to urge the viewer to reflect on what else Terence's young lovers have
in common. It is just possible that this is their purpose here, and that these
pictures, by taking on an abstract quality, support the didactic value of the
text for which Terence, widely used as a schoolbook, was valued.

Knowing Verard's habits, it should not surprise us that he found another
use for these same pictures in the Jardin de plaisance et fleur de rh��torique
(1501). Again a few minor modifications have been made to the blocks, for
example, a woman's crown is changed into an elaborate hairnet. And now
their banderoles identify them as allegorical personifications: Envie, Soup-
çon, Dangler. One is tempted to argue that such figures counterbalance the
abstraction of allegory, and convey moral lessons more powerfully by
attaching the allegorical personifications to physical representations. On
examination, however, it is clear that no such one-to-one equivalence of
woodcut to allegory exists. We find Dangler reappearing labeled Hault Vou,
Envie now as a man, now a woman. Soupçon undergoes the same change
(Fig. 7). The text itself adds to the disjunction. For example, on the very
page bearing the block of Envie as a rather cheerful young knight. Envie
is described in the text as being:

Envie la vieille enrag��e

Vaudoise enfumee/forcenee

Qui estoit plus laide; plus encharbonee

Quonc on ne paignist lucifer

Toutefois elle cestoit fard��e

De quelque suif a chemin��e

Aincoys quelle partist denfer.

("A mad old woman, damned, out of her senses, smoke covered,
disfigured, uglier and blacker than Lucifer, and, what is more, bedaubed
with chimney grease as she fled from hell.")^^

114 / Renaissance and Reformation

Figure 7

Le Jardin de Plaisance et Fleur de rethorique

(facsimile of Verard's 1501 ��d.) sig h2v h6\.

Renaissance et R��forme / 115

Verard made further use of some of these little figures (e.g., in his 1503
edition of Boccaccio's Cent Nouvelles) which reappear with what seems
almost willful disjunctive effect in Galiot du Pr��'s 1529 edition of Virgil's
Eclogues. Here too the reader is prevented from treating the pictures as
representations of Virgil's shepherds: Menalaus of Eclogue II becomes
Mopsus in Eclogue IV, while the former Dametus is now labelled Menalaus.
Unfortunately in this instance it seems harder to find an intention, didactic
or otherwise to attribute to these vagaries. It is apparent that pictures were
used in a variety of ways in eariy printed books, most of which were of
course not disjunctive at all. Some were illustrative, adding to or echoing
the text; some emblematic, interacting symbiotically with the text; some
allegorizing. This variety suggests once again that disjunctive pictures had
multiple causes and multiple purposes.

It seems reasonable to assume these were modulated in part by the varied
needs of book users in an age of low literacy. The general level of literacy
for sixteenth-century Europe is not known with any reasonable accuracy.
There are figures for specific groups, such as journeymen printers in Lyon
in the 1580's, two thirds of whom could sign their names.^^ Professionally
exposed to the written word, printers likely represent a rosy view of literacy
in the period. The kind of book in which disjunctive pictures are found is
also the kind of book most likely to have been read aloud, communally in
bourgeois or artisanal settings, or by those specially charged with reading
aloud to great nobles. In this context the disjunction between text and
picture may be taken as a historically specific chapter in the study of reader
response. Books with pictures may have functioned as dual-purpose arti-
facts; the reader of the text and the viewer of the picture may not have been
the same person at the same moment. "Readers" may in fact have enjoyed
separately the pleasures of the text they heard from those of the pictures.

Such a model of the dual function of books is supported by the evidence
of Sebastian Brant, in the preface to his Narrenschiff:

Vil narren kumen dryn
Der Bilniss ich hap har gemacht
Wer yeman der die gschrifft veracht
Oder villicht die nit kund lesen
Der siecht jm molen vol syn wesen
Und synded dar jnn wer er ist
Wem er glich sy was jm gebrist

(**There are many fools in it [=my book] whose portrait I have drawn.
Either he who pays attention to the writing or he who cannot read and sees

116 / Renaissance and Reformation

his nature in the picture can see who he is, whom he resembles, and what
he is lacking/*)^^

A literalist interpretation of this passage, although by no means the only
possible one, is encouraged by the large number of the book's pictures
which do seem able to stand alone or convey their message with the aid of
no more than the short accompanying motto. And the non-reader whom
Brant proclaims part of his intended audience may well have been included
among the users of other books as well.^^^ The Latin translation of the
Narrenschiff, clearly aimed at a more highly literate audience, omits this
passage. But the French translation, although based on the Latin text (not
Brant's original German), reintroduces a similar idea in the translator's
Prologue: "Pource que les lecteurs et auditeurs de laage present sont
ennuyez de veoir et ouyr longues et superflues narrations, sont aussi
plaisans a lire et escouter choses sommairement en bref r��cit��es." [Since
readers and listeners of the present age are bored by seeing and hearing
long and superfluous accounts, they are pleased to read and hear things
summarily and briefly recited.] ^^

No single interpretive system, not even one suggested by Brant's own
preface can be taken as a guide to the Narrenschiff as a whole. More
generally, it is important to recognize that rigorous and rigid systems
systematically applied, arrangements that accord priority to unity and
coherence, are not obligatory aesthetic or intellectual values in the world
that produced the artifacts we are examining. In fact, the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries produced many works, some of them masterpieces, of
which the unit of construction appears to be the fragment I mean fragment
here in a quite specific sense which does not question that the works are
completed. Fragmentary works treat proximity as a substitute for logical
connection. They are episodic. Their parts are not subordinate to the whole,
nor does it seem that they are generated by an aesthetic which might treat
as axiomatic our notion that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The gothic cathedral (work on a number of these continued through the
period concerning us here) is a wonderful example of the fragmentary mode.
For all its grandeur and complexity, we accept that such a building has the
option of treating each architectural element as a separate problem; it is
conceived in fragments. In the French literary tradition, the coq �� lane
thrives on fragments. One may wonder if Rabelais' Quart Livre would be
much aflected by having the order of its central episodes rearranged. The
amount of scholarly ink spent to explain the rationale of the arrangements
of the Essais of Montaigne suggests the fragmentary forces at work there.^^
Speaking of a time roughly contemporary with the Essais, Ann Moss,

Renaissance et R��forme / 117

treating material which in genre and milieu was quite different from
Montaigne's, returns us to the realm of the fragment, remarking on the
"discontinuous and centrifugal tendencies of Ronsard's later manner."^^
The commentary, a common and often overlooked Renaissance genre, also
displays a quite willful lack of cohesion, as Jean C��ard has pointed out.^'*
From Servius to Bayle the commentary tradition presented readers with
developments that take on a life of their own, separate from the ideas in
the text that provoked (or served as the excuse for) their generation. Text
and picture might, by this line of reasoning be considered proximate
fragments, expanding the aesthetics of the fragment to the relation between
the verbal and visual representation.

The issues raised by the use of disjunctive pictures are too multifarious
to admit of simple answers. The adage that 'one picture is worth a thousand
words' surely means to praise the concreteness, precision, and realism that
can be added to a verbal discussion by a visual representation.^^ Yet in
early printed books, as we have seen, disjunctive images may seem to have
just the opposite effect Repetition may direct the user to consider the
abstract rather than the particular, the idea of battle beyond the battle in
the text, the idea of a young lover, rather than the particular travails of any
given one. The persistence of an often-recopied design attests to the force
of authority, or perhaps equally to the appeal of imitation as a tactic in the
Renaissance. In this brief initial attempt to grant them full existence as
objects worthy of study, disjunctive pictures have led us to reflect on
Renaissance perceptions, aesthetics, and value systems. By observing the
modes of their use, others may be prompted to go further, finding new
answers and new questions.

Grinnell College


1 The expression "disjunctive pictures" is intended to signal, among other things, that the
discussion following is limited to visual material with narrative pretentions, excluding
elaborate initials or decorative vignettes.

2 Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (Cambridge, England:
Cambridge UP, 1979), p.258. One must admit that the level of accuracy in eariy printing
lends immediate verisimilitude to this notion. Eisenstein does in fact seem to be troubled
by the practice, since she returns to it several times, remarking that the "frugal custom"
of reusing blocks "helped set pictures and words at odds with each other." I examine
such frugality below.

3 The Presence of the Word (New Haven: Yale, 1967). The remark refers to manuscripts
rather than printed books; although some of the technical and economic forces must
differ, manuscripts do present the same disjunctive phenomena.

118 / Renaissance and Reformation

4 Glending Olson presents a theoretical basis for this in Literature as Recreation in the Later
Middle Ages (Ithaca N.Y.: Cornell, 1982). French romances frequently express the idea in
their titles, e. g. L'Hystoire tr��s recreative des faictz et gestes du noble et vaillant Theseus de
Coulogne (Paris: Longis & Sertenas, 1534).

5 Among them Eisenstein, op. cit. p. 85., and Gerald Strauss: both comments are prompted
by the pages of the Nuremburg Chronicle (Weltchronik) where, in the early editions, fewer
than 650 blocks have been used repetitively to make some 1800 pictures in the text.

6 A Merlin, published by Verard in 1498 (rpt. London: Scolar, 1975) appeared with five
blocks in Volume One, one used five times, three others twice; Volume Two is decorated
by only a single block of a rather bloody battle scene repeated every few pages throughout
the volume. These are little, perhaps trival, blocks. But two or three repetitions of a block
are found even in such texts as Sebastian Brant's Narrenschiff, which clearly had blocks
specially prepared for it with some care and with authorial supervision, or the 1509
translation of the Aeneid, published by Verard in which Books VIII and IX start with the
same full page picture.

7 The most egregious of these, also perhaps the scholar with the greatest provocation, is
the bibliographer John MacFarlane in his biography Antoine Verard (London: Biblio-
graphical Society, 1900).

8 Also implicit in this question is the assumption that not everyone handling a book would
in fact be literate, to which we shall return. Sandra Hindman touches on the same
question from a different perspective in considering how illuminators, whom we have
no reason to suspect were literate in the fifteenth century, managed to produced detailed
illustrations of a text they themselves likely could not read. "The Roles of Author and
Artist in the Procedure of Illustrating Late Medieval Texts," Text and Image, ed. David
Burchmore, Acta vol. X (Binghamton, N.Y.: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance
Studies, 1986).

9 Among major works on images in early printed books are: Robert Brun, Le Livre français
illustr�� de la renaissance (Paris: Picard, 1969); Arthur Hind, An Introduction to the History
of the Woodcut (New York: Dover, 1963; rpt. of 1935 ��d.); Sandra Hindman ��d.. Early
Illustrated Books (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1982); William Ivins, Prints and
Visual Communication (Cambridge, Ma.: MIT Press, 1953); Andr�� Martin, Le livre illustr��
en France au XV^ si��cle (Paris: Alcan, 1931); Michel Pastoureau, "L'Illustration du livre:
comprendre ou r��ver?" L'Histoire de l'��dition française, vol. I, ed. Rogier Chartier and
Henri- Jean Martin (Paris: Promodis, 1982); Alfred W. Pollard, Early illustrated Books
(London: Dutton, 1917); Lisa Ponomarenko and Andr�� Roussel, La Gravure sur bois ��
travers 69 incunables et 434 gravures (Paris: Les Yeux Ouverts, 1970).

10 Robert Brun (op. cit. p. 12) goes so far as to suggest that many of the marks interpreted
as makers marks are in fact the "brands" of owners or publishers.

1 1 An example of a block used in more and more worn condition can be found in Adrian
Wilson, The Making of the Nuremberg Chronicle (Amsterdam: Nico Israel, 1976), p. 187.
Many sixteenth-century blocks found their way into the possession of publishers of
popular imprints, the Gamiers or Oudots of Troyes, where they were used until they no
longer produced a recognizable pattern on the page, well into the eighteenth century.

12 The variant of this block was first noted by Andr�� Martin, "Sur une Gravure d'Antoine
Verard," Revue des Livres anciens, 1(1 9 14), 15-20. Martin interpreted the alterations as
following in simple chronological sequence and used them to date the undated Bible
histori��e. As is clear from the foregoing discussion, cases of the block's use not known to
Martin vitiate its use for dating.

Renaissance et R��forme / 119

13 My attention was drawn to this reuse by Lock Geeraedts, "Die Strassburger Augaben
und ihre Holzschnitte," Philobiblion, 24 (1980) 299-327. The woodcut in question
accompanies Ode Ten of Book Three, "Ad Lycen," as well as the Second Satire.

14 See Paul Mellott��e, Histoire ��conomique de l'imprimerie, (Paris: Hachette, 1905), and Lucien
Febvre and Henri- Jean Martin, L'Apparition du Livre (Paris: Albin Michel, 1958), pp.

15 Leon Voet, The Golden Compasses (Amsterdam: Van Gendt, 1972), pp.223-225, gives data
for the production of woodcuts for the Plantin press in the 1560's and 1570's when, for
example, the 72 cuts in an octavo Reynard the Fox cost 30 florins to design and 54 to cut.
Marianne Grivel, "La r��glementation du travail des graveurs en France," Le Livre et
l'image en France au XVI^ si��cle (Paris: Presses de l'Ecole normale sup��rieure, 1989), p.
14-15, gives similar figures for France in the 1540's and 1550's.

16 See Fig. 6. See also Laurence Harf-Lancner, "L'Illustration du roman deMelusine de Jean
d'Arras dans les ��ditions du XV^ et du XVF si��cle," Le Livre et l'image en France au XVT^
si��cle (Paris: Presses de l'Ecole normale sup��rieure, 1989), pp. 10-29. Alfred Pollard, Early
Illustrated Books (London: Dutton, 1917), p. 145, remarks on the reuse of woodcuts from
Du Pr��'s 1483 edition of Boccaccio's De la Ruine des nobles hommes et femmes, in its
translation into English by Lydgate published by Pynson in 1494. Fr. Bourdillon, "Some
Notes on Two Early Romances, Huon de Bordeaux and M��lusine," The Library, 4th series,
I (1920) 21-40, traces woodcuts originally appearing in Millet's Destruction de Troye to Le
Noir's 1513 Huon, and again in Janot's edition (after 1532) where they appear as mirror
images; the same composition is used again in the Huon of Jean Bonfons (1547-68) in
its original orientation— either because Bonfons too had had the blocks copied directly
or because he had access to Le Noir's material. Another such series mentioned by Rudolf
Hirsch (Printing Selling. Reading [Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz, 1967], p. 49), which I have not
seen, involves the reuse and recopying of the illustrations of Zainer's 1473 edition of
Boccaccio's De Claris Mulieribus in later editions appearing in Augsburg, Louvain, and
Saragossa. Two German translations of the Celestina were published (1520, 1534) with
different endings; both use the same woodblocks, although they no longer coincide with
events recounted in the second version of the story: see Die Celestina Vbersetzungen von
Christof Wirsung, ed. Kathleen Kish and Ursula Ritzenhof (Hildesheim, 1984). For other
examples, see below.

17 The Strassburg woodcut in figure 4a is yet another in this series. ©NOTES = 18 Le Jardin
de plaisance et fleur de rh��torique (Paris: Soci��t�� des Anciens Textes Français, 1910),
(facsimile of Verard's 1501 edition) h2 v.

19 For further commentary on sixteenth-century readers and communal reading, see Natalie
Z. Davis, "Printing and the People," Society and Culture in Early Modem France (Stanford:
Stanford UP, 1975).

20 Ed. Franz Schulz (Strassburg: Jahresgaben der Gesellschaft fur Elsâsische Literatur,
1913), p.4. A facsimile reprint of the first edition.

20aAnnabel Patterson Pastoral and Ideology: Virgil to Val��ry (Berkeley: University of Califor-
nia Press, 1987) Giles Brant's introduction to Griininger's 1502 Virgil: "Hie l��g��re historias
commentaque plurimus doctus:/N minus indoctus parleger ilia potest." "While the
commentary is designed for the learned, the volume is equally, through the illustrations,
accessible to the unlearned." Patterson goes on to represent the illustrations as a "running
gloss on the text of Virgil by providing a visual equivalent, in either narrative or symbolic
form, for as many of the elements of the text as the artist could manage to incorporate
into any single design" pp. 92-93.

21 La Grand Nefdesfolz du monde (Lyon: Fr. Juste, 1530) a 3 r.

120 / Renaissance and Reformation

22 Examples of this critial approach among modem scholars can be seen inter alia in
Lawrence Kritzman, Destruction/Descouverte: Le fonctionnement de la rh��torique dans les
ESSAIS de Montaigne (Lexington Kentucky: French Forum, 1980), esp. pp. 11-12; John
Holyoake, Contextual and Thematic Interference in Montaigne's ESSAIS (Sheffield: Sheffield
Academic Press, 1986).

By the end of the sixteenth century, the era of the fragment was over. Thus Estienne
Pasquier, a great admirer of Montaigne's, calls the Essais a masterpiece and yet points
out: "Vous touverez en luy plusieurs chapitres dont le chef ne se rapport aucunement ��
tout le demourant du corps, fors aux pieds. Et sur tous, celuy Des Vers de Virgil, qu'il
pouvoit �� meilleur compte intituler Cocq �� l'Asne; pour s'estre donn�� pleine libert�� de
sauter d'un propos �� autres." Choix de Lettres, ��d. D. Thickett (Geneva: Droz, 1956), p.53.

23 Poetry and Fable (Cambridge England: Cambridge UP, 1984), p. 148.

24 "Transformations du commentaire," LAutomne de la Renaissance, XXII*' Colloque
international d'��tudes humanistes (Tours, 1979), ��d. Jean C��ard, (Paris: Vrin, 1981).

25 This idea is expressed in Renaissance terms by Erasmus in Adagia I, i, 100: "Oculis magis
habenda fides, quam auribus."

La Galliade ou le mariage du ciel et de
la terre par Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie


Lorsque Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie r��dige son long po��me de la Galliade,
il n'a point Tintention de rivaliser avec Ronsard, Fauteur de la Franciade
ou Virgile, ou encore Hom��re. Ce n'est point par modestie mais, au
contraire, parce qu'il a des vis��es plus hautes. Lisons son "advertissement":
"or l'ai nomm�� Galliade non pour imiter Iliades, Eneides ni aultres tels
po��mes et inventions emprunt��es des fables moisies de Grecs ou des vieux

Romans " Ces po��mes-l��, en effet, sont ��crits pour "la d��lectation et la

vray-semblance," lui ne veut pas faire de litt��rature, de fiction, mais oeuvre
de v��rit��. Chercher la v��rit��, voil�� ce qui fait la dignit�� de l'homme:

C'est la gloire de Dieu la parole cacher.
C'est la gloire des Rois la parole chercher.

(Ces deux vers, traduits des Proverbes XXV-2, sont plac��s juste avant le
premier cercle.) Comme lui est un des heureux ��lus qui poss��dent la v��rit��,
il se fait un devoir de partager son savoir avec son prochain.

Le sujet de son long po��me h��roïque est la r��volution des arts et des
sciences. Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie veut d��montrer que les arts et les
sciences ont pris naissance en Gaule et qu'apr��s un long d��tour ils y sont
enfin revenus. La Galliade va donc devenir un long po��me ��crit �� la gloire
de la Gaule (cisalpine et transalpine) et, par suite, �� la gloire de la France.
On sait qu'un fort courant nationaliste r��gnait �� cette ��poque, non seule-
ment d'ailleurs en France^ mais dans toute l'Europe. Pour nos ��crivains il
s'agit bien plus que d'exalter la France. Le vers de Du Bellay: France, m��re
des arts des armes et des lois est plus qu'un cri d'amour pour la patrie, c'est
l'expression d'une croyance commune �� maints penseurs français selon
laquelle leur pays est bien le berceau des arts et des sciences, ��clipsant donc
la Gr��ce. La Galliade s'inscrit parfaitement dans ce courant de celtomanie.
Postel, dont Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie fut le disciple d'��lection, a bien
vu que la Galliade c��l��brait "la primaut�� de la gent gallique":

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 2 (1990) 121

122 / Renaissance and Reformation

Ce que j'appelle de nouveau vocable Sextessence j'esp��re avec le temps
que je le ferai advouer par la grammairiens latins et gaulois, car ��
nouvelles ou nouvellement connues choses il faut vocables neufs, et nous
ou Celtes ou Galathes ou Gaulois jadis premier que les Hiberes
surnommes, et que principalement avant que les Grecs, plus de 2000 ans
eusmes et charact��res et langue et escripture propre, comme tr��s v��ri-
tablement en la Galliade de Faber se prouve combien qu'en vers �� mode
po��tique �� discussion,^

Le mythe "gaulois" de Postel et de son disciple s'int��gre dans tout un
syst��me th��ologique. A l'origine des temps, r��gnait l'harmonie du ciel et de
la terre, c'est-��-dire entre Dieu, l'homme et l'univers. Cette unit�� sera
"restitu��e" �� la fin des temps. L'auteur de la Galliade veut d��montrer que
ce temps de la r��int��gration �� l'unit�� est arriv��. Le mot ^R��volution est en
fait la clef de ce long po��me et le concept de Retour est inscrit dans le titre
Galliade que l'auteur fait d��river de l'h��breu galal qui signifie retourner,
reployer comme il nous le signale dans la marge. Cette id��e de r��volution
est encore illustr��e par l'image de l'Orouboros:

De la mesme façon que l'on voit se retordre
En soy-mesme un serpent, et repli�� se mordre
Par le bout de la queue, au pourtait ancien
Qu'�� la rondeur de l'an donnoit l'Égyptien, (v. 5-8)

A.-M. Schmidt, dans La Po��sie scientifique en France au XVJ��me si��cle (p. 239)
sugg��re que La Boderie pense �� "une variation cyclique de la civilisation
humaine," �� un retour ��temel apparent�� �� la notion de grande ann��e. Pour
notre part nous rejetons l'id��e de variation cyclique, m��me si nous
reconnaissons l'importance du cercle dans l'oeuvre de Le F��vre de La
Boderie, car nous sommes convaincue que l'auteur de La Galliade croit en
un retour d��finitif: les arts et les sciences reviennent en Gaule pour y rester.
Les deux vers tir��s des Proverbes que nous avons d��j�� cit��s renvoient
effectivement �� deux passages de Guillaume Postel:

Ces lieux et autorit��s de VEscntaxQjusques �� nostre temps de la Restitution
de toutes choses, ont est�� cach��es avec infinies autres . . . Car c'est la gloire
de Dieu de cacher sa parole, et c'est la gloire des rois et hommes de soi
victorieux, et par cons��quent rois de toute le monde, d'exposer la parole
cach��e �� jamais. {Interpr��tation du Cand��labre. . . , p. 412)

Postel est encore plus explicite dans son Thr��sor:

Renaissance et R��forme / 123

. . . Les P��res eurent toujours double loi naturelle ... et une loi orale ou
de tradition paternelle, qui n'��tait r��v��l��e qu'�� ceux qui s'��taient mortifi��s
et avaient ��t�� form��s dans les peines et le silence. Ce fut toujours jusques
ici, ou il faut que toutes choses soient restaur��es, la gloire de Dieu de cacher
sa parole, pour qu'en chacun des temps il y eut toujours progr��s, et la
gloire des rois, c'est-��-dire de ceux qui se sont vaincus eux-m��mes
d'expliquer la parole de T>içM, jusqu'�� ce que, au quatri��me et ultime âge
de l'Église, sous l'esprit de la Maternit��, soient comprises toutes les saintes
intelligences. . . (Thr��sor fol. 106) (C'est nous qui soulignons.)

LTieure de la restitution est arriv��e, et c'est pour cela que Guy Le F��vre de
La Boderie r��v��le les secrets divins, parce que le retour du Messie est
imminent Pour comprendre cette attente du deuxi��me av��nement du
Messie, il faut se reporter �� l'ann��e 1572, ann��e o�� est apparue une nouvelle
��toile dans la constellation de Cassiop��e . . . Cette apparition avait frapp��
les esprits d'autant plus qu'elle contredisait l'affirmation d'Aristote qui avait
dit que rien de nouveau ne pouvait se produire dans le ciel. Pour Postel
mais aussi pour l'astronome Cornelius Gemma, cette nouvelle ��toile
annonce le second av��nement du Christ: ce sera le r��gne du Christ EN
NOUS. Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie se range �� cet avis comme on peut le
voir dans les Hymnes (fol. 250 v.):

Et maintenant �� nos princes tous trois
D'un royal cueur, fils et fr��res de roys.
Se monstre au ciel un astre qui doit estre
Signe certain que J��sus-Christ veut naistre
Dedans nos cueurs, et comme nostre chef
Son tabernacle y planter derechef.
Logeant en nous sa lumi��re f��conde
L'astre nouveau qui redore le monde.

Avec la Galliade, Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie veut faire oeuvre "d'utilit��
et de v��rit��," c'est en quelque sorte une oeuvre initiatique qui doit pr��parer
ses contemporains �� recevoir dans leur coeur le Messie; on assistera alors
au remariage du ciel avec la terre, alors r��gnera l'harmonie sur le monde.
L'auteur est bien un nouvel Orph��e comme il aimait se faire appeler,
c'est-��-dire selon l'��mithologie, "bouche de lumi��re."

Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie peut ��clairer ses compatriotes parce qu'il
poss��de la clef de la langue, cette clef c'est l'��mithologie. On devine l�� encore
l'influence de Postel, son maître, �� qui d'ailleurs on doit ce mot. Le mot
usuel etymologic ne serait que la m��tath��se que les Grecs, avec leur "malice
habituelle," aurait faite sur le mot primitif ��mithologie qui veut dire

124 / Renaissance and Reformation

connaissance de la v��rit�� (emeth en h��breu = v��rit��). L'��mithologie repose
sur deux croyances: Tune est que Th��breu est la langue sacr��e qui ��tait
parl��e par tous les peuples avant la dispersion des langues au moment de
l'��pisode de la tour de Babel, l'autre que chaque vocable r��v��le le sens
profond et essentiel de l'objet qu'il d��signe. Ce dernier axiome s'applique
en particulier aux noms propres qu'ils soient de personnes ou de lieux. Le
destin de Rome est d��voil�� par son nom que Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie
fait d��river de l'h��breu rama qui signifie ��lev��, superbe. Faire d��river le
nom de Rome de l'h��breu, c'est aussi effacer le souvenir de Romulus, en
effet dans la perspective postellienne et par cons��quent boderienne, le vrai
fondateur de Rome est Janus alias No��. Comme toutes les langues
remontent �� l'h��breu, on peut �� l'int��rieur d'un mot m��langer les racines.
Voici comment l'auteur explique le mot Hercule au vers 454: Celui-ci est
form�� de la racine germanique [her], qui veut dire poil, et de la racine
h��braïque [col] qui signifie tout; Hercule veut donc dire tout poilu!
R��primons notre sourire, Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie ne plaisante pas;
l'enjeu est trop important; il veut simplement aider le lecteur �� p��n��trer les
arcanes de l'univers grâce �� sa vaste connaissance de l'h��breu.

L'auteur de la Galîiade n'est pas seulement un linguiste, il a ��t�� initi�� ��
la Cabbale. Il a en effet annot�� le Zohar et le tiqquney Zohar ainsi que le
Commentaire sur le Pentateuque de Bahya ben Asher^. On sait ��galement
qu'il connaissait l'ouvrage de Guillaume Postel le Cand��labre publi�� en
h��breu et en latin �� Venise et dans lequel Postel se livre �� ses ��lucubrations
mystiques. On peut y lire en particulier: "c'est le temps du lys mis pour
armoierie du r��gne treschrestien �� la gent duquel, par la primogeniture du
monde, est donn��e ceste pr��rogative de gouverner le monde avec la loy
��temelle donn��e �� la primogeniture de Gomer Gallus fils de Japetus Gallus

fils de Noachus Gallus ou d��livr�� des eaux '"* C'est le sujet m��me de la

Galîiade. Si de la Boderie ne rend hommage �� son maître qu'en passant:

Postel, qui as le rond du monde environn��

Et des arts la rondeur, qui as vescu deux âges.

Et des peuples divers sceu les divers langages; (v. 1850-1852)

Il en a ��t�� profond��ment inspir��: l'oeuvre post��lienne est en filigrane sous
ce long po��me. Derri��re Postel, on devine la pens��e de Paulus Ricius, celle
de Galatin. Il faut encore citer François Georges de Venise, ou Georgio
avec son Harmonia mundi qui a inspir�� l'Encyclie et que Le F��vre de La
Boderie traduira.Celui-ci a donc puis�� aux sources m��mes de la cabbale
chr��tienne. Pour Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie, comme pour tout cabbaliste.

Renaissance et R��forme / 125

tout est signe et tout est correspondance; le monde est un monde clos dont
toutes les parties se tiennent

Il ne faut point point s'��tonner donc que l'auteur de la Galliade ait recours
aussi �� l'astrologie. Trente-cinq ans apr��s la publication du De revolutionibus
orbium caelesîium de Copernic, l'ouvrage de r��f��rence de l'auteur de la
Galliade demeure celui de Ptol��m��e. Il mentionne ��galement VAstronomicon
libri quinque de Marcus Manilius, un Syrien venu �� Rome sous le r��gne
d'Auguste. C'est un livre de iatromath��matique o�� sont d��crites les corre-
spondances entre le microcosme et le macrocosme. Ce n'est point que Le
F��vre de La Boderie refuse d'��tre moderne, on le voit au courant des
inventions ou des d��couvertes qui ont eu lieu �� son ��poque, mais il ne faut
pas qu'elles bouleversent son univers. Il n'est pas le seul �� s'accrocher aux
th��ories antiques, en fait les esprits "modernes" sont rares et l'on peut dire
que le seizi��me si��cle est encore un âge pr��-scientifique. Dans l'icono-
graphie de cette ��poque, on voit encore l'homme entour�� de douze
repr��sentations zodiacales raccord��es aux diff��rentes parties du corps. Cette
science des corespondances devait permettre de bien connaître le corps
humain avec ses points forts et ses points faibles et par cons��quent de vivre
en parfaite harmonie avec l'univers. Les hommes ne sont pas seuls sous
l'influence des astres, les nations le sont ��galement Grâce aux r��v��lations
de Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie, chaque nation connaîtra sa v��ritable
vocation et alors pourra se r��aliser le mariage du ciel et de la terre,
c'est-��-dire l'harmonie universelle.

En fait ce sera un re-mariage, car la deuxi��me venue du Christ
restituera l'ordre originel, et pour nous d��crire la situation de l'univers
�� l'aube des temps historiques, Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie a ��vide-
mment recours �� la Bible, en particulier au chapitre X de la Gen��se et ��
des auteurs de l'antiquit��. Comme il ne veut pas faire "sonner une
gaillarde," c'est-��-dire "conter des bourdes et plaisanteries," il appuie ses
dires sur les auteurs qu'il cite dans son "advertissement" et dans ses
notes marginales. Ce sont "B��rose, chald��, Josephe hebrieu, Manethon
��gyptien, Metasthene ou Megasthene persien . . . "^ En r��alit��, il puise,
apr��s son maître Postel, dans l'oeuvre d'Annius de Viterbe. Ce moine
franciscain avait fait paraître en 1498 son Commentarii fratris Joannis
Annii Viterbiensis super opera diversorum auctorum de anîiquitatibus loquen-
tium. Il avait pr��tendu avoir d��couvert des fragments de l'oeuvre de
B��rose et autres auteurs anciens comme Manethon, Myrsilus, Caton.
Grâce �� ces documents apocryphes, Annius de Viterbe, inspir�� de la
Gen��se, avait "reconstitu��" les d��buts de l'humaint��. Il suffit de voir le
nombre de r��-impressions que connut l'ouvrage pour se faire une id��e

126 / Renaissance and Reformation

de l'engouement qu'il suscita; c'est qu'il r��pondait au besoin de cette ��poque
de "restituer" les origines. M��me si au milieu du XVI��me si��cle certains
��crivains �� l'esprit critique ��lev��rent des objections s��rieuses quant ��
l'authenticit�� de B��rose, on n'en n'arr��ta pas la publication: �� Lyon,
l'ouvrage fut r��-imprim�� en 1554, 1591 et 1598. Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie
fait allusion �� ces objections pour les balayer:

Que si les fragments de B��rose et autres autheurs ensemble recueillis et
mis en lumi��re par Annius de Viterbe, ne sont assez ample foy de mon
dire, pour n'estre reconnus ny approuvez par aucuns des doctes de nostre
temps pour enfans l��gitimes des p��res dont ils portent le nom et les
marques sur le front, si est-ce qu'il nous restera encor assez d'autres
tesmoins estrangers tressuffîsans et non reprochables au reconnaissant
de nostre cause

Il est d'une part trop influenc�� par son maître Postel, qui a d��fendu B��rose,
et trop hant�� d'autre part par les questions de gen��se ethnique pour renoncer
aux apocryphes d'Annius. Il lui est important de retrouver la constitution
originelle des nations car le Christ en revenant pour la deuxi��me fois (et
cette fois sera la bonne), ram��nera le monde en son ��tat premier. L'auteur
de la Galliade partage avec son maître une vue finaliste de l'histoire qui
permet le retour au pass��. L'histoire suit donc une voie circulaire d'o��
l'importance, nous l'avons vu, de l'image du cercle (l'Orouboros). Ce
concept m��me du mouvement circulaire sous-tend tout le po��me comme
le titre le sugg��re Galliade de l'h��breu galal qui veut dire tourner, rouler.

L'id��e du cercle est centrale dans l'oeuvre de Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie.
Rappelons qu'il a fait paraître en 1571 VEncyclie des secrets de l'��ternit��. Chez
les n��o-platoniciens, le cercle est la repr��sentation de Dieu:

C'est le rond infini que nous appelons Dieu

Dont le centre est par tout et la circonf��rence

N'est comprise de nul, fors de sa propre essence, (v. 12-14)

Ces vers font penser �� Nicolas de Cuse: "Il (Dieu) est circonf��rence et centre,
lui qui est par tout et nulle part" et surtout Herm��s Trism��giste: "Dieu est
une sph��re dont le centre est partout et la circonf��rence nulle part." Il n'est
point besoin de faire appel aux cercles dantesques, comme le fait A.-M.
Schmidt pour comprendre les raisons qui ont d��termin�� Guy Le F��vre de
La Boderie �� diviser ses oeuvres en cercles. VEncyclie se compose de huit
cercles, tandis que la Galliade en comprend cinq. Il faut aussi s'arr��ter un
moment sur les nombres car ils ont une valeur symbolique. Le nombre huit

Renaissance et R��forme / 127

repr��sente les temps messianiques, c'est bien dans le projet de Tauteur de
VEncyclie d'acc��l��rer la venue du Christ:

Accoraply ta promesse, et par ton Christ donn��
Assemble tes troupeaux sous un pasteur unique . . .
Adonc ton veuil en terre et au ciel sera fait
Lors tu sera seul Dieu, seul ton nom v��n��rable:
Adonques on verra le si��cle parfait {Encyclie fol. 230)

Nous voyons deux raisons pour lesquelles Le F��vre de La Boderie a ��difi��
sa Galliade sur le nombre cinq. D'une part cinq est, selon l'enseignement
pythagoricien, le nombre nuptial', il symbolise le mariage du principe c��leste
(3) et du principe terrestre (2)^. Le nombre cinq, d'autre part, fait songer au
Pentagrammaton YHSVH* c'est-��-dire les consonnes qui constituent le
nom de J��sus comme Jean Reuchlin l'a "r��v��l��" dans son De Verbo Mirifico
et plus tard le De arte cabalistica qui fut la Bible des cabbalistes chr��tiens.
Or c'est justement la venue du Messie que Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie
pr��pare avec son po��me.

Maintenant que nous avons expos�� le but que Guy Le F��vre de La
Boderie se proposait en ��crivant la Galliade ainsi que son approche
(��mithologique, cabbalistique, astrologique et "historique"), nous allons
donner un bref r��sum�� des diff��rentes parties de ce po��me gnostique.

Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie ouvre son premier cercle avec l'image du
serpent qui se mord la queue (l'Orouboros) afin de persuader le lecteur que
le monde retourne �� son ��tat premier. Il se met donc en demeure d'expliquer
les d��buts de l'humanit��. Son point de d��part n'est point Adam puisque,
selon la Bible, l'humanit�� corrompue a ��t�� balay��e de la surface de la terre.
Son point de d��part est No��, le deuxi��me p��re de l'humanit�� dont les
descendants vont peupler "les diverses provinces de la terre habitable."
Dans la g��n��alogie fantaisiste d'Annius, No�� est souvent confondu avec
Janus le fondateur de Rome. Pour Le F��vre de La Boderie cela ne fait aucun
doute puisque No�� est celui qui inventa le vin. En jouant (pour notre auteur
ce n'est pas un jeu) sur les lettres du mot h��breu Yain (vin) et les lettres de
Janus, on se convainc que No�� et Janus sont un seul et m��me personnage.
No�� d'ailleurs, selon les m��mes sources, s'installera en Italie. Avant son
d��part, il a envoy�� essaimer ses enfants au quatre coins de l'univers.

Chaque continent est sous la tutelle des enfants de No��: l'Asie appartient
�� Shem, l'Afrique �� Cham, l'Europe �� Japhet. Mais nous sommes au

128 / Renaissance and Reformation

seizi��me si��cle et Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie ne peut passer sous silence
l'Am��rique; Platon, avec son Atlantide (cf. Le Tim����) lui souffle en quelque
sorte le nom Atlant On voit ici �� l'oeuvre la typologie mystique �� laquelle
adh��re l'auteur de la Gaîliade: chaque continent, chaque pays a son destin
pr��figur�� par son fondateur et par le nom de celui-ci. Ainsi l'Europe, fond��e
par Japhet, a reçu en don la beaut�� comme le nom de Japhet l'indique (de
l'h��breu qui veut dire beau):

Nature m��re veut par ��temelle loy
Que le fief noble soit �� l'aisn��, comme roy;
Pource l'aisn�� Japhet h��rita la parcelle
La plus noble du monde, Europe la tresbelle. (v. 63-66)

No�� est non seulement le p��re de l'humanit��, il est aussi le fondateur de
toutes les sciences et de tous les arts. Par "arts" il ne faut pas tant entendre
les beaux-arts que les techniques. No�� ��tait, nous dit Le F��vre de La Boderie,
math��maticien, astrologue, devin; il

Sçavoit le cours du ciel, et de chaque contr��e
L'aspect et l'influence heureuse et d��sastr��e (v. 89-90)

Il transmet sa science �� son aîn��, Japhet qui, �� son tour la transmettra ��
son premier-n��, Gomer. Si l'on en croit Annius de Viterbe, et l'on sait quelle
cr��ance donnait l'auteur de la Gaîliade au pseudo-B��rose, Gomer fut le
fondateur de la Gaule. Ainsi d��s l'origine des temps, la Gaule ��tait
pr��destin��e �� jouer un rôle de tout premier plan dans l'histoire de l'univers.

L�� fut le fondement des lettres et des arts

Qu'encor veit florissante le premier des c��sars, (v. 245-246)

Samoth��s, qui fut le premier roi gaulois (il se serait install�� cent quarante
quatre ans apr��s le D��luge en Gaule), est capable d'expliquer les lunaisons,
les ��clipses lunaires et solaires, les mar��es ainsi que le mouvement des
plan��tes (v. 251-306), le Zodiaque.^ Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie accuse les
Grecs d'avoir falsifi�� les noms des signes zodiacaux afin de s'approprier la
gloire de la d��couverte. Dans sa volont�� de c��l��brer les Gaulois, il s'acharne
�� accuser les Grecs de mauvaise foi. Cette attitude peut paraître curieuse ��
qui se souvient avec quel respect quasi religieux les humanistes consi-
d��raient les anciens et principalement les Grecs et les Romains, mais
d'autres ��crivains, comme Jean Picard de Toutry (De Prisca Celtopaedia) qui
voulaient ��tablir la sup��riorit�� des Gaulois se voyaient dans l'obligation de

Renaissance et R��forme / 129

discr��diter les Grecs. Pour Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie, l'enjeu ��tait de
taille puisque, nous Tavons vu, les origines pr��figurent la fin des temps; or
il ��tait persuad�� que cette fin ��tait proche, la Gaule, autrement dit la France,
��tait appel��e maintenant m��me �� jouer un rôle de tout premier ordre sur
le plan culturel:

En la Gaule un grand roy feist ces arts habiter.
Et en Gaule un grand roy les feist resusciter,
C'est ce grand roy François, dont la sainte poitrine
Fut un sacraire vray de science et de doctrine (v. 1721-1724)

Il profite de la pr��tendue connaissance du pr��tendu Samoth��s pour donner
un expos�� d'astronomie/astrologie. Lui sait quelle influence les corps
c��lestes peuvent exercer sur le monde:

Mais avecq' le vray nom je sçaurais les effects

Des lampes de la nuict et de tous leurs aspects, (v. 377-378)

Toutefois, il prend le temps auparavant de mentionner la d��couverte du
nouveau monde, connu dans l'Antiquit�� sous le nom Atlantis, et de c��l��brer
les explorateurs ainsi que les nouvelles inventions, comme la boussole, qui
ont permis ces navigations lointaines. Il reconnaît au passage que la terre
est ronde. Il est int��ressant de noter que pour l'auteur de la Galliade, tout
a une finalit��: le nouveau monde a ��t�� d��couvert afin "que ceste terre/Adore
J��sus-Christ sous l'arche de Sainct-Pierre" (427-428). C'est l'annonce des
temps messianiques, de cette deuxi��me venue du Christ, de cette ��poque
o�� toute la terre adressera ses louanges au vray Dieu.

Il reprend son expos�� astrologique en d��crivant les constellations. Suivant
Ptol��m��e, il en compte quarante huit (442-532) Ce qui retient vraiment
l'attention de Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie c'est l'influence qu'exercent les
astres sur le corps de l'homme,

car la raison plus grande

Commande aux ��l��ments et aux astres commande . . . (v. 539-540)

et sur les nations.

Dans son "advertissement au lecteur," Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie dit
qu'il a "mis peine de remarier le ciel avec la terre" et il explique que cela
veut dire "attribuer a chaque r��gion terrestre le propre et p��culier signe
c��leste qui luy commande; et par l'��tymologie et vertu du nom de chacun
des fondateurs susdits, donner quelque atteinte au destin et entresuite des

130 / Renaissance and Reformation

peuples et nations qu'ils ont fondez et restaurez aux 72 premi��res colonies
sous les 12 signes du Zodiac." A partir du vers 555, il revient donc aux
origines m��mes des nations. Au tout d��but, apr��s le D��luge, No��, alias
Janus, a divis�� la terre en quatre parties puisque la terre appartient �� Dieu.
Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie en effet fait allusion au T��tragramme:

La voulut diviser par quatre en premier lieu

A l'honneur du grand nom quatre-lettr�� de Dieu. (v. 562-563)

On connaît l'importance de la quatemit�� dans la pens��e symboliste, jud��o-
chr��tienne ou platonicienne. Sous ce quaternaire il faut, selon l'auteur de la
Galliade retrouver la Trinit�� �� laquelle s'ajoute le Christ comme on peut le voir
dans les notes marginales: "Les secrets h��brieux nomment les trois personnes
de la Trinit��, Abraham, Isaac et Jacob, ou Maskil, Muscal, Sechel. La derni��re
lettre du grand nom d��signe le Messie ou l'humanit�� du fils." Cela rappelle
Postel qui essayait de convaincre les Arabes de la Trinit�� en ��voquant
Ariphum, Murariphum et Mariphtum , et surtout Giorgio de Venise dont Guy
Le F��vre de La Boderie a traduit le Harmonia Mundi. On peut y lire en effet:
"Et de l�� prouve l'auteur du livre intitul�� Sepher Temunoth, c'est-��-dire le livre
de ce qu'on doist croire, que, par la derni��re He du nom quatre-lettr��, la divinit��
devoit estre unie avecques l'humanit�� et en estre faict le Messie, dans lequel
seroit la vertu de ce grand nom." Les noms Maskil et Sechel sont tous form��s
sur la m��me racine qui signifie entendement: il traduit ces termes respective-
ment par "l'entendant ��temel," "l'��temel entendu," et "l'entendement" et leur
fait correspondre l'Asie, l'Europe et l'Afrique. Pour parfaire la quatemit��, il
faut ajouter l'Am��rique, qu'il appelle ici "l'Atlantide" et qui heureusement a
��t�� d��couverte, signe ��vident pour le mill��nariste qu'est Guy Le F��vre de La
Boderie que l'on entre dans les temps messianiques. Il attribue l'Atlantide, "le
demier ��l��ment de la grand Tetractyde" (v. 568) au moteur mobile. Nous
sommes donc en pr��sence d'une pens��e syncr��tiste qui a amalgam�� la Bible,
la Gnose, le n��o-platonisme et le christianisme.

Ensuite, No�� a divis�� la terre en douze colonies qui correspondent aux
douze signes du Zodiaque. Le nombre douze repr��sente la perfection
comme l'affirme l'auteur de la Galliade:

Car douze est nombre entier, beau et bien comparty
Comme celuy qui est justement departy
Par six, nombre parfaict . . . (v. 573-574)

Renaissance et R��forme / 131

Voici les douze colonies ou royaumes: Cathay ou la Chine, Samarcham
(probablement Samarcande); J��rusalem occupe le troisi��me rang, "toutefois
le plus digne"; suit le royaume de Moscovie, puis Rome qui tr��s vite a ��t��
supplant�� par Venise; quant �� la sixi��me place — et nous avons vu que
six est un nombre parfait— seule la ville de Paris en est digne!; la septi��me
colonie est sous la domination du Pr��tre Jean, il s'agit donc de l'Ethiopie;
nous trouvons ensuite le Maroc et le Benomotapa, r��gion qu'il situe, non
pas comme Postel dans la partie occidentale du royaume du Pr��tre Jean,
mais dans la partie sud de l'Afrique, pr��s du cap de Bonne Esp��rance; la
dixi��me colonie est le Temictitlan; la onzi��me colonie se trouve en
l'Atlantide, plus pr��cis��ment �� Cusco et le p��riple s'ach��ve en Chasdie,
terme utilis�� par Postel pour d��signer une île quelque part dans l'Oc��an
Indien ou Pacifique vers le pôle austral. On devine d'apr��s cette nomen-
clature l'influence de Guillaume Postel. Elle nous paraît ��vidente quand
l'auteur de la Galliade emploie le mot "patriarchat" (v. 646) au lieu de
royaume (penserait-il comme son maître, �� la venue du Pape Ang��lique
qui allait r��gner sur les douze patriarcats?).

Apr��s avoir ainsi divis�� la terre d'abord en quatre, puis en douze, No��
continue le morcellement et partage la terre entre soixante-douze princes
qu'il place sous les douze signes du Zodiaque, c'est ce que Guy Le F��vre
de La Boderie appelle "marier le ciel avec la terre":

Ce fut pourquoi Janus voulut apparier

Le ciel avec la terre et les remarier, (v. 649-650)

(Il faut se rappeler que No�� et Janus sont un m��me et seul personnage).
Ces soixante-douze princes sont les descendants de No��. L'auteur de la
Galliade nous renvoie au chapitre X de la Gen��se: or si l'on ne tient pas
compte de Nimrod, seuls soixante-dix noms sont ��num��r��s. D'ailleurs dans
la tradition juive qui est aussi celle des P��res de l'Église on parle des
soixante-dix peuples originels dirig��s par soixante-dix anges; toutefois on
peut aussi trouver le nombre soixante-douze qui est un nombre magique:
il y aurait soixante-douze noms de Dieu. Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie
commence maintenant �� associer les peuples avec les signes du Zodiaque
et les plan��tes, en voici un exemple:

Et commençant au chef de la terre et des cieux.
Sous le Mouton et Mars, meints peuples spacieux
Pr��voit �� l'advenir: �� l'angle de la terre
Du cost�� d'Aquilon, vers l'isle d'Angleterre

132 / Renaissance and Reformation

Et au peuple gaulois par puissance immortels

Il consacre pour roi son nepveu Samothes. (v. 665-670)

Ce "mariage" est chang�� sur quelque mille vers:
Ainsi fut repeupl�� tout le monde univers
D'habitateurs nouveaux en langue et meurs divers,
Par les douze maisons du Zodiac visible
(comme par des canaux) du monde intelligible
Recevants l'influence; ainsi remariez
Furent la terre et ciel ensemble appariez, (v. 1561-1566)

Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie termine son premier cercle en c��l��brant la
Gaule, le berceau de la civilisation. Les arts et les sciences, �� partir de la
Gaule sont pass��s de peuple en peuple (les M��des, les Perses, les Grecs etc.)
mais sont revenus, apr��s cette longue "r��volution," �� leur source. Alors il
fait mention "d'aucuns hommes de marque, qui du r��gne de feu de bonne
et loubable memoir le grand roy François premier de ce nom commenc��rent
de restaurer les bonnes lettres en Gaule" (advertissement). Remarquons ici
que, dans son po��me, il pense bien plus aux hommes qui se sont illustr��s
par leurs connaissance scientifiques (math��matiques, astronomiques/astro-
logiques etc.) qu'aux hommes de lettres.

En c��l��brant la Gaule, il revient �� son point de d��part, �� l'image du
Serpent Orouboros.

Le deuxi��me cercle de La Galliade est consacr�� �� l'architecture. Il ne faut
point s'en ��tonner car l'architecte ne fait qu'imiter le Grand Architecte et
ce qu'il construit n'est que la projection dans l'espace de la structure id��ale.
Toutefois, Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie ne semble pas particuli��rement ��
l'aise dans ce sujet, c'est pourquoi il "traite de l'architecture brevement et
autant qu'il [lui] a sembl�� que l'argument et le sujet le regneroit"^^ Le côt��
"technique" et "concret" de cet art qui traite, selon Vitruve, de l'ordre {taxis\
disposition {diathesis), beaut�� {eurythmia), mesures d'unit�� {symmetrica) et
distribution {oeconomia) ne l'int��resse gu��re. Il semble que par endroit il
veuille impressioner le lecteur avec une accumulation de mots techniques:

... le plomb et l'esquierre,
La ligne, le compas, le martel et la pierre
La hache, la doleore et le robot ent��
Le ciseau, la tani��re et le siot dent��
Et tout autre instrument que pour ouvrer achet��
Charpentier, ou maçon et expert architecte, (v. 83-88)

Renaissance et R��forme / 133

De telles enumerations, qui n'ont aucun pouvoir suggestif, aucune beaut��,
aucune musicalit��, lassent le lecteur d'aujourd'hui. Albert-Marie Schmidt
dans La Po��sie scientifique en France au XVI^ si��cle reproche �� Guy Le
F��vre de La Boderie ce catalogue qu'aucun sentiment humain ne vient
animer et il lui est facile de d��montrer la sup��riorit�� po��tique de Le
Microcosme de Sc��ve. Mais l'auteur de La Galliade ne veut pas faire oeuvre
po��tique, il ne veut pas nous ��mouvoir et nous faire participer aux travaux
du premier homme!

Malgr�� l'affirmation de A.-M. Schmidt, le deuxi��me cercle ne suit pas
"Sc��ve pas �� pas."^^ Si Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie traite de l'architecture
c'est que cette science nous montre:

Comment il faut bastir magnifiques et amples

Sur le patron du ciel la rondeur des beaux temples, (v. 103-104)

L'architecte met donc sous les yeux de l'homme une reproduction du vray

Afin que l'assembl��e en silence contemple

En ce temple, l'ouvrage et l'ouvrier du Grand Temple, (v. 115-116)

Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie n'oublie pas son premier projet qui est de
d��montrer la "r��volution" des arts. Il commence donc le deuxi��me cercle
en affirmant que la Gaule est le berceau de l'architecture. En effet, dit-il,
Magus ou Magog, descendants de Samoth��s, le premier roi des Gaulois,
fut le premier architecte. Son nom, d'ailleurs, le pr��destinait puisque Magog,
selon l'��mithologie post��lienne, signifie du toit (de l'h��breu min gag).
Magus/Magog aurait donc ��t�� le premier couvreur ou bâtisseur de maisons.
Auparavant les hommes ne connaissaient que les cabanes. Savant en
"g��om��trie perspective ou peinture" (c'est le sc��nographia de Vitruve),
connaissant la "symmetrie," c'est-��-dire les mesures, et les "r��gles de bastir,"
Magus enseigna son art. Il montra comment construire un palais, une
maison de pri��res, toute une ville avec ses portes, ses ponts, ses carrefours,
ses places publiques, ses fortifications.

L'auteur de La Galliade rappelle les temps b��nis o�� l'homme n'avait point
besoin de s'abriter derri��re des murailles, car le droit ��tait respect��. Tandis
que la loi du plus fort r��gne dans le monde animal, l'homme, de par sa
nature, n'est point fait pour dominer d'autres hommes. La division entre
gentilhomme ou paysan, esclave ou homme libre n'est pas inscrite dans la
nature, c'est la valeur qui diff��rencie: "la seule vertu faict diff��rent calibre"
(v. 160).

134 / Renaissance and Reformation

Non seulement les Gaulois ont appris �� ��difier des bourgs mais ils ont
appris �� les mettre sous la protection d'anges-gardiens. Ceux-ci ��tendent
leurs ailes tut��laires tant que les habitants sont respectueux des lois,
autrement la destruction les guette comme en a t��moign�� No��.

Le personnage de No�� permet �� Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie de revenir
sur un terrain qui lui est plus familier, et qui a d��j�� ��t�� en partie trait��, celui
de la symbolique des nombres. L'auteur de La Galliade nous rappelle que
No�� a divis�� le monde selon les nombres 4, 5, 6, 7, 12 et 72. En divisant le
monde par 4, No�� l'a plac�� sous la protection du t��tragramme dont il
rappelle les quatre attributs �� savoir la grandeur, la puissance, la sagesse
et la bont��. Sont encore au nombre de 4 les diff��rentes fonctions de l'âme:
��tre, vivre, sentir, entendre. Il cite entre autres les quatre animaux saints du
chariot d'Ezechiel, les quatre fleuves du paradis, la t��tractide et les quatre
parties (alors connues) du monde: l'Asie, l'Afrique, l'Europe et l'Atlantide.

Le nombre 5 est riche en r��sonances symboliques. Le globe terrestre se
divise en cinq zones: deux zones polaires, deux zones temp��r��es et une
��quatoriale. L'univers est compos�� de quatre ��l��ments auxquels s'ajoute
l'essence ��th��r��e et il se refl��te dans l'homme qui est le microcosme. On
peut ainsi associer le toucher �� la terre, le goût �� l'eau, l'odorat �� l'air, l'ouïe
au feu et enfin le sens noble de la vue �� l'��ther. Cette division se retrouve
dans les math��matiques. Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie cite la science des
nombres (nombres entiers ou fractions), la g��om��trie (euclidienne ou dans
l'espace), la musique, l'astrologie et la cosmographie.

Avec le nombre 7, No�� a plac�� la terre sous la protection des sept esprits
qui, selon VApocalypse, gardent le trône de Dieu. Aux sept plan��tes, l'auteur
de La Galliade associe les sept ��chelons qui permettent aux mystiques de
s'��lever en passant par les sept cieux jusqu'�� l'Empyr��e.

Le nombre 12 est un autre nombre signifiant. Il rappelle les douze anges
de l'Apocalypse qui veillent aux douze portes et de la cit�� Sainte, J��rusalem.

Enfin No�� a divis�� la terre en 72 parties en attribuant �� chacune un ange
tut��laire. Cet ��clatement en soixante-douze parcelles ram��ne en fait le
lecteur �� l'unit�� puisque soixante-douze est, dans la Cabbale, le nom
d��velopp�� du t��tragramme. C'est ainsi que Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie
explique que cette division n'a d'autre but que de

. . . ramener enfin toute diversit��
Des langues et des gents au poinct de l'Unit��
Dessous un mesme Dieu, et une langue raesme
Un roi, et une loy, une foy, un baptesme

(y. 269-272)

soit de faire venir le royaume de Dieu sur la terre.

Renaissance et R��forme / 135

Chacune des soixante-douze nations a son g��nie, son agent-gardien
particulier. Celui de la Gaule est Zarfatiel, mot h��breu form�� sur Zarfat ou
Tsarfat qui veut dire France ou Gaule et el, ange ou puissance. Zarfatiel
commande �� une cohorte de g��nies dont la fonction est de prot��ger qui sa
ville, qui son bourg, chacun ayant son embl��me propre. Paris, jusqu'au
r��gne malheureux de Fr��d��gonde ��tait gard�� par son serpent et un loir
d'airain. A.-M. Schmidt a raison de parler ici de tot��misme inconscient,14
pour Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie, la divinit�� est partout pr��sente.

L'auteur de La Galliade aurait-il oubli�� son trait�� d'architecture? Non. Il
va exposer maintenant comment cet art est pass�� de la Gaule, en Babylonie
puis en Perse, en Gr��ce, �� Rome. Ce th��me de la "translation" du savoir
lui tient �� coeur puisqu'il y revient. Les Assyriens ont cr���� des cit��s et des
tours "jusques dedans les nues" (allusions �� la tour de Babel), les Égyptiens
des ob��lisques; les Ph��niciens et les H��breux ont construit le Temple de
J��rusalem; les Grecs ont perfectionn�� cet art et ont su, en copiant la Nature,
inventer les ornements doriques, ioniques et corinthiens. Enfm, grâce aux
outils qu'ils ont invent��s, les Romains sont pass��s maîtres dans l'art de bâtir
des thermes, ponts, moulins, th��âtres, catacombes, temples, colis��es, gym-
nases. Aucun sentiment de nostalgie sur les ruines grecques ou romaines,
aucun regret sur les beaut��s disparues. Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie se
soumet �� l'ordre des choses. La supr��matie en arts, ici en architecture, doit
passer de nation en nation pour revenir �� son point de d��part, la Gaule:

. . . l'architecture
Vient d'or icy boucler le rond de la ceinture, (v. 447-448)

Afin de prouver que la "r��volution" est accomplie, il cite le nom d'archi-
tectes français contemporains dont, ��videmment, Philippe Delorme. Il les

Pour avoir la science en Gaule ramen��e
Qui sous Magus Gaulois estoit en Gaule n��e.

(y. 507-508)

Ainsi se termine le "second cercle traitant de l'architecture."

Le troisi��me cycle est r��serv�� au "sçavoir admirable" des druides "en la
connoissance de toutes disciplines, jusques au sommet et supr��me degr�� de
la magie naturelle et facult�� de pr��dire les choses �� venir.' Que l'auteur
de La Galliade ait consacr�� le cercle trois �� la magie n'est point pour nous

136 / Renaissance and Reformation

��tonner; trois apparaît souvent dans les rites magico-religieux. Il y a donc,
�� ses yeux, un accord parfait entre la structure de son oeuvre et son contenu.
Il insiste d'ailleurs sur l'importance du nombre trois et de son carr��, soit
neuf {trois fois trois):

Toute neuvaine en soy de trois fois trois est faicte:
Du nombre impair de trois Dieu mesme se d��lecte.
Les neuf ordres savez des anges vont mouvant
Sous l'Étemel tout-bon, tout-sage, et tout-pouvant
Dans le monde Id��al, (v. 754-758)

Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie cite encore les neuf Muses auxquelles sont
associ��es les neuf sph��res c��lestes. Celui qui a maîtris�� tous les arts
repr��sent��s par les Muses et, ce faisant, a pu passer de la sph��re la plus
basse �� la plus haute "pourra commander jusqu'�� la providence" (v. 831),
il sera:

De Nature interpr��te, entre-deux et moyen

D'Éternit�� et temps, du monde le lien.

Le neud, l'accouplement, ou plus tost l'hymen��e

Dont en terme est le ciel, la terre au ciel men��e, (v. 844-847)

Grâce �� ce mariage du ciel et de la terre, l'homme "qui en soy l'abr��g�� de
trois mondes comprend" (v. 837) pourra exercer un pouvoir sur le monde
naturel. Il s'agit de magie blanche, ou naturelle comme l'auteur de La
Gaîliade l'appelle, et non de magie noire pour laquelle l'homme "se fait le
serf du diable." Il n'a pas de mots trop durs pour condamner les sorciers
et sorci��res qui sont, comme on peut le lire dans l'avertissement des "vrais
membres de Sathan et avant-coureurs de l'Ant��christ."

De la m��me façon, il faut distinguer entre la divination des païens et la
vraie proph��tie. Le F��vre de La Boderie nous apprend qu'il y a sept degr��s
de proph��tie ou sept façons de recevoir "la lumi��re secr��te." Le premier
degr�� est le songe

Qui du temple premier ouvrant l'estroicte porte.

Des hautes d��itig les sentences apporte, (v. 1069-1070)

Le deuxi��me degr�� est quand l'âme se d��tache du corps. Au troisi��me degr��.
Dieu parle �� l'oreille du m��lancolique. Des hommes comme Pythagore,
Plotin ont acc��s au quatri��me degr��. Le suivant est r��serv�� �� celui qui se
consacre �� l'��tude:

Renaissance et R��forme / 137

Son esprit eslev�� est quelquefois abstrait

Du corps son compagnon, si que l'âme eslancee

S'allie et se conjoint la supreme Pens��e, (v. 1205-1207)

Grâce �� la m��ditation, l'âme se met hors du temps et du lieu et peut voir
ainsi "les secrets et merveilles de Dieu." Au sixi��me degr��, c'est Tenthou-
siasme au sens ��tymologique du mot: Thomme est habit�� par un d��mon et
est saisi d'une divine fureur. Le degr�� le plus ��lev�� n'appartient qu'�� celui
qui s'est d��pouill�� de toute envie, de rancoeur, de mauvaise pens��e et s'est
fait le "temple divin des divines charit��s." Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie
d��crit alors le mystique, s'inspirant du Cantique des Cantiques. Seuls les
proph��tes bibliques ont eu acc��s �� ce degr�� supr��me: Enoch, No��, Moïse,
Samuel, David, Salomon, Élie, son ministre Elis��e, le proph��te Esaïe,
Ezechiel, Daniel, saint Pierre, saint Paul, l'apôtre des Gentils, et enfin saint

De tous les Gentils, les druides ont ��t�� les premiers. Premiers par leur
savoir et aussi premiers �� approfondir et �� enseigner les sciences occultes.
D'ailleurs, selon l'��mithologie ch��re �� l'auteur de La Galliade, le mot druide
viendrait de l'h��breu darash qui veut dire rechercher; le druide est celui qui
recherche la v��rit��; qui ose sonder

Les secrets de Nature, et du ciel esplucher

Les myst��res profonds, et leur th��ologie

En nature fond��e avecques la magie, (v. 31-33)

Certes, Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie doit ��tre prudent, les Gaulois ��taient
des païens et ils se sont laiss��s aller �� des pratiques condamnables comme
les sacrifices humains. Ils n'avaient pas eu acc��s �� toute la v��rit�� et ne
savaient pas que "l'homme archetype ayant pris un vray corps" (le Christ)
avait par son sacrifice rachet�� l'homme banni du paradis. Pourtant ils
avaient pressenti le myst��re de l'incarnation puisqu'ils rendaient un culte
�� la Vierge et lui avaient consacr�� un temple �� Chartres. Ce sont encore les
druides qui ont proclam�� l'immortalit�� de l'homme sans tomber dans
l'erreur des Grecs qui croyaient en la m��tempsychose.

Les druides ont ��t�� aussi de grands maîtres. Il ne faut point s'��tonner
qu'ils n'aient pas laiss�� d'��crits: les myst��res ne doivent pas ��tre r��v��l��s au
"peuple tout grossier" mais sont pass��s de maître �� disciple. Toutefois ils
ont ��t�� les premiers �� fonder des ��coles, des coll��ges et des universit��s
comme l'auteur nous le dit au commencement de son troisi��me cercle.
Puisqu'il veut d��montrer la r��volution des arts et des sciences, il consacre
la derni��re partie de ce cercle �� prouver que la science est retourn��e dans

138 / Renaissance and Reformation

la nouvelle Gaule. Il c��l��bre en particulier les juristes comme Tiraqueau,
Dumoulin, des savants comme G��n��brard, des orateurs comme Du Faur,
des m��decins dont il cite quelques noms: Femel, Ambroise Par��. Ces
hommes illustres ont ressuscit�� la science des druides.

Pour en Gaule fermer la rondeur de la course

Du grand fleuve des arts qui en Gaule eut sa source.

La r��volution a ��t�� accomplie.

Dans le troisi��me cercle, Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie avait trait�� de "magie"
(naturelle, et non pas "satanique," c'est-��-dire qu'il s'��tait int��ress�� �� la
"physique," �� l'��tude des ph��nom��nes naturels. La musique dans le
quatri��me cercle va lui permettre d'acc��der �� la "m��taphysique," de passer
du monde terrestre au Cosmos.

En effet, l'auteur de la Galliade ne pose pas �� l'artiste. Ne cherchons
point des r��flexions sur la ligne m��lodique ou le rythme. Il traite de la
musique en philosophe. Il ne faut pas oublier que la musique faisait partie
du "quadrivium," elle ��tait une des "quatre voies" �� côt�� de l'arithm��tique,
la g��om��trie et l'astrologie qui m��nent �� la philosophie selon Platon ou qui
constituent une des branches de la philosophie selon Aristote. Les huma-
nistes, red��couvrant les textes anciens (Platon, Plutarque, Ptol��m��e) sont
heureux de voir confirmer ce qu'ils avaient appris chez Bo��ce {De Institutione
Musicae), saint Augustin (De Music��), Macrobe {Commentarium in Somnium
Scipionis). C'est pourquoi le 16^ si��cle voit une floraison de trait��s musicaux,
signalons en particulier le Solitaire second ou Prose de la Musique (1552) de
Pontus de Tyard, un n��o-platoniste comme Le F��vre de La Boderie. Le
trait�� musical de ce dernier, contenu dans le quatri��me cercle, se divise en
trois parties comme cela est annonc�� dans "l'advertissement":

Au quatri��me cercle, j'ai trait�� de la musique, et harmonie, tant du monde
arch��type, c��leste et ��l��mentaire que de celle de l'homme ou du petit-
monde, et des merveilleux effets qu'elle produit

Dans la premi��re partie de son expos��, apr��s avoir dûment rendu hommage
aux Gaulois pour avoir ��t�� les premiers �� d��couvrir les lois de l'harmonie, Guy
Le F��vre de La Boderie traite donc de la musique. Il s'agit essentiellement
d'��tudier les rapports des sons entre eux pour d��terminer "scientifiquement"
quels intervalles sont harmonieux ou discordants. Lorsqu'on parie de rapports,
l'on parle ��videmment de nombres. Le nombre est la cl�� du syst��me

Renaissance et R��forme / 139

platonicien, h��rit�� du syst��me pythagoricien. L'âme de l'univers est tiss��e
des sept nombres "divins," les uns mâles, les autres femelles:

Car l'Ame, disoit-il, qui comble l'univers
Se lie et s'entretient de sept nombres divers
De non pair et de pair comme masle et femelle
Ensemble mariez d'alliance gemelle. (v. 129-130)

Ces sept nombres forment une pyramide ayant au sommet "la saincte
C'est la "grande tetraktys" ch��re aux pythagoriciens. Car ces nombres se

combinent pour donner six genres d'accords: octave (2/1), quinte (3/2),
quarte (4/3), octave + quinte (3/1), deux octaves (4/1), 1 ton (9/8).

Une fois le ton d��termin��, les th��oriciens peuvent ��tudier d'une façon
math��matique les intervalles; c'est ce que fait consciencieusement Guy
Le F��vre de La Boderie en une cinquantaine de vers. Il est attir�� bien
davantage par les analogies que les "harmoniciens" de l'antiquit�� avaient
d��couvertes entre la musique humaine et la musique des sph��res. Ceux-ci
avaient attribu�� aux plan��tes des sons bien pr��cis. Voici les corre-
spondances: Saturne: ut; ciel d'apr��s ou Jupiter: r��; Mars: mi; soleil: fa;
V��nus et Mercure: sol et enfin la lune: la. Outre la hauteur du son, ils
avaient caract��ris�� la qualit�� de la "voix" plan��taire. Celle-ci d��pend des
qualit��s physiques et morales des "errantes"; ainsi Mars, Plan��te s��che,
chaude et belliqueuse produit des sons stridents et aigus avec beaucoup
de dissonances.

L'analogie entre la musica humana et la musica mundana ne s'arr��te pas
l��. L'auteur de la Galliade, �� la suite des anciens, ��tablit des correspondances
entre les intervalles de la gamme et les distances relatives des plan��tes entre

140 / Renaissance and Reformation

Terre Lune Mercure V��nus Soleil Mars Jupiter Saturne Zodiaque

/ / / III I /

1 ton 1/2 1/2 1 1/2 ton / \ 1 ton 1/2 1/2 1/2 /

quinte quarte

La musique est donc la r��v��lation d'un monde sup��rieur. Seuls des ��tres
divinement inspir��s ��taient capables de mettre au point des instruments de
musique permettant des correspondances entre la musique terrestre et la
musique c��leste. Ainsi David fit r��sumer sous ses doigts habiles le d��ca-
chorde ou psalt��rion accord�� sur le mod��le des dix sephiroth; le harpeur
de Thrace, Orph��e, monta l'heptachorde, mod��le miniature de la lyre c��leste
compos��e des sept plan��tes.

n ne suffit pas que la muska humana ouvre une fen��tre sur le monde c��leste,
elle doit faciliter lliym��n��e du ciel et de la terre, car c'est l�� le but ultime de
la Gaîliade. Pour Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie, ce n'est pas une utopie car
l'Univers est un immense syst��me compos�� de syst��mes identiques et solidaires.
Comprendre un syst��me est comprendre tout le Cosmos; mais cette compr��-
hension ne doit pas ��tre uniquement source de satisfaction intellectuelle; car
elle peut devenir un formidable outil pour l'homme "connaissant" qui, par la
musique, sera �� m��me d'agir sur l'univers tout entier. La deuxi��me partie est
donc consacr��e �� l'harmonie (mot grec qui veut justement dire assemblage)
"tant du monde arch��type, c��leste et ��l��mentaire que de celle de l'homme ou
du petit-monde." Nous noterons que l'auteur mentionne quatre syst��mes
auxquels faisaient justement allusion le quatri��me cercle. Le quatri��me cercle
(il n'y a pas de hasard dans le monde clos et intelligible de Guy Le F��vre de
La Boderie) est le cercle de la quatemit�� symbolis��e par le t��trachorde. La
quatemit�� est au centre du syst��me de correspondances comme elle est au
centre de la cosmologie de Postel:^^

Omon des deux sans plus, mais des quatre elements
Nos bardes empruntaient les quatre fondements
De la musique humaine (v. 393-395)

Les quatre ��l��ments sont figur��s par les quatre cordes de l'instrument
musical de base, le /��rrachorde. Les cordes sont la basse-contre, la teneur,
la haute-contre et le dessus ou corde du temps. Comme l'on passe d'une
corde �� l'autre, l'on peut passer d'un ��l��ment �� l'autre grâce aux qualit��s

Renaissance et R��forme / 141
physiques qu'ils partagent entre eux:
terre froid + sec

eau froid + humide

air chaud


Ces qualit��s se retrouvent dans les saisons, les âges de la vie, les moments
de la journ��e, les humeurs, les parties de l'âme. Voici r��sum��es en un tableau
les principales correspondances:

chorde du temps feu ��t�� bile entendement ou claire pens��e

contre haut air printemps sang raison ou esprit

teneur eau automne flegme vitale ou imagination

basse contre terre hiver m��lancolie âme naturelle — les sens

L'âme humaine est une petit t��trachorde o�� l'on compte quatre degr��s:
le plus bas est l'âme vitale, la Raison ou Esprit et enfm l'Entendement ou
la Claire Pens��e. Si le degr�� sup��rieur donne le ton, l'homme connaît un
��quilibre harmonieux mais, qui plus est, cette harmonie engendrera l'har-
monie dans les quatre syst��mes que l'auteur avait mentionn��s dans son

A donq sont accordez entr'eux les quatre mondes
L'humain, l'��l��mentaire et les sph��res profondes
Avecques l'arch��type et sonne l'Univers
Une mesme harmonie en quatre luths divers, (v. 575-578)

Voici que nous trouvons encore le nombre quatre. Si dans la musique
l'instrument de base est le t��trachorde, le syst��me musical est fond�� sur
quatre t��trachordes, �� l'image de ces quatre mondes dont il vient d'��tre
question. Ces t��trachordes sont, dans le syst��me musical grec, en commen-
çant par le plus grave: VHypaton, IcM��son, le Diezeugm��non et VHyperbol��on.
Le nombre quatre se conjugue donc sur deux axes, l'un vertical, l'autre
horizontal de la façon suivante:

142 / Renaissance and Reformation

I syst��me de david out syst��me humain ou
1 de l'arch��type 1 de microcosme

syst��me des Bardes ( syst��me d'Orf��e
( ou de l'univers

t��tra hyperbol��on

t��tra diezeugm��non

t��tra m��son

t��tra hypaton

Comme VHypaton et le M��son ont une corde en commun ainsi que le
M��son et le Diezeugm��non, nous obtenons une ��chelle de 14 sons auxquels
on ajoute la note proslambanom��ne au-dessous de l'Hypaton, ce qui donne
le syst��me parfait de 15 sons ou deux octaves. Le nombre quinze est aussi
celui des marches qu'il avait, selon la tradition juive, au Temple de
J��rusalem, correspondant aux 15 Psaumes de mont��e (psaumes 120 �� 134
inclus). Il n'y a pas de rencontre fortuite. Comme l'on peut monter les
marches du Temple, l'on peut monter les degr��s de l'��chelle musicale ou
les degr��s des autres syst��mes selon le tableau suivant.

Syst��me des Bardes*

Syst��me d'Orf��e ou
de runivers

Syst��me de David
ou de rarch��type

Syst��me humain
ou du microcosme

1) proslamvanom��n��e

centre du globe

chorde de l'Estre

sens du touchcmcnt

2) hypat�� hypaton


note du vivre

sens du Goût ni
aqueux ni terrestre

3) parhypat�� hypaton


note du sentir

sens du flairer

4) lichanos hypaton


discours et raisonnement


5) hypat�� m��son


chorde d'entendre


6) parhypat�� m��son


ordre des Saints Anges porte
d'Adonaï pour entrer en Sion

crainte de Dieu

7) lichanos m��son


ordre des Archanges El-Shadaï
semond les Esprits �� monter en
Sion le double mont


8) M��s��


Principaut��s, sous le nom de
Elohim Zcvaoth


9) Param��se


Ordre des Puissances mues par
lehovah Zevaoth

Force courage

10) Trit�� de




Mars mai joint et

Vertus Elohim


1 1) Param��te de


Dominations lehovah


12) Net�� de



Ordre Saint des thrones soutenu
par EL Dieu de mis��ricorde

haute Sapience

13) Trit�� de


Ciel esteU�� du
monde Firmament

monde des Id��es l'ordre des
ch��rubins oracle saint du Sacr��
lehovah— la Trinit�� se fond en

Excellente Foy

14) Paramet��


9^' Sph��re

S��raphins lah


15) Net��


10*"" ciel ciel

l'homme-Dieu-J��sus Cercle
infini de la divinit��. Ehieh Keter


• remarquons les noms


Renaissance et R��forme / 143

Dans le syst��me d'Orf��e ou de l'Univers, l'on peut partir plus bas que
l'��l��ment terre pour monter jusqu'au dixi��me ciel (dix ��tait le nombre de
la perfection); dans le syst��me de David l'homme peut passer du degr�� le
plus bas, �� savoir la corde de l'essence (qui pr��c��de l'existence) �� l'homme —
Dieu ou encore �� Keter qui est la dixi��me sephirah; dans le syst��me du
microcosme l'ascension se fait �� partir du sens le plus grossier, le toucher,
�� la vertu th��ologale la plus ��lev��e, la Charit��.

Grâce aux correspondances que l'auteur a ��tablies d'un syst��me �� l'autre,
ce qui se produit dans l'un a des r��sonances dans les autres. L'homme peut
mettre en branle tous les syst��mes �� la fois; les actes qu'il fait sur terre se
r��percutent dans les Sph��res sup��rieures et un acte de charit�� est le moyen
le plus sûr pour faire venir sur terre le Christ, l'homme-Dieu. Les musiciens,
en cr��ant des harmonies, peuvent engendrer des harmonies dans le ciel qui
�� son tour fera descendre sur la terre la paix universelle; merveilleuse union
de la terre et du ciel!

Pour encourager les musiciens "empiristes" �� cr��er ces harmonies, Guy
Le F��vre de La Boderie, dans un troisi��me temps d��crit les effets merveilleux
de la musique. Il s'attarde un moment sur les harmonies que l'on peut
percevoir dans la nature. De la plus petite �� la plus grosse, aucune cr��ature
n'est insensible �� la musique; les b��tes m��mes, si l'on en croit la l��gende
d'Orph��e— et qui la mettrait en doute?— r��pondaient aux chants. La musi-
que apaise ou excite les hommes. C'est pourquoi l'auteur exhorte les
musiciens du Roi �� tendre la corde de Raison et de ne jouer sur la corde
de l'ire que pour d��noncer les crimes, les forfaits "de qui va violant la
Musique de la Paix." Qu'ils apprennent aussi les divers modes musicaux
qui leur permettront d'atteindre les effets qu'ils recherchent!

Dans une belle envol��e, il encourage les musiciens �� c��l��brer la gloire
de Dieu en reproduisant l'harmonie universelle:

Chantres, chantres, chantez du grand Dieu les louanges.
Accordez vos beaux chants aux saincts hymnes des Anges,

Faites-moy tournoyer par nombreuses parolles
Et les esprits mouvants, et du ciel les caroles . . .

Entonnez es tuyaux des orgues longs et ronds
Des cieux organisez la musique et les tons;
Faites sur le clavier d'une douce espinete
Marcher d'ordre et de rang plan��te apr��s plan��te
Sous le bal du grand ciel. ... (v. 1406-1416)

144 / Renaissance and Refonnation

Grâce �� la musique et au processus de concat��nation universelle, Tharmonie
r��gnera sur terre et am��nera les temps messianiques: ce sera vraiment le
mariage du ciel et de la terre.

Il ne faudrait pas penser que Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie ait oubli�� de
glorifier la France. Au d��but et �� la fin du quatri��me cercle, il rend hommage
aux bardes gaulois pour avoir invent�� et transmis les secrets de l'harmonie

Le cinqui��me cercle, qui devrait ��tre l'apog��e du po��me et qui devrait nous
mener �� l'��tape ultime de la connaissance, va-t-il traiter de la "fureur" po��tique,
capable de r��v��ler "toutes les plus abstraites et sacr��es choses auxquelles
l'humain Entendement puisse aspirer ..." comme le Solitaire r��v��le �� Pasith��e
(Solitaire Premier, Pontus de Tyard)? ou bien, plus prosaïquement, va-t-il traiter
des relations entre les formes po��tiques et le texte? On pourrait s'y attendre,
alors qu'au seizi��me si��cle, nourris des th��ories n��o-platoniciennes de Ficin,
les po��tes se consid��rent comme des vates et que se fait une v��ritable r��flexion
sur la versification �� la fois antique et moderne. C'est �� cette ��poque (1570)
que Baïf et le musicien CourvUle, avec la fondation de l'Acad��mie de po��sie
et de musique, essaient de faire revivre cette union m��me des "deux soeurs"
(po��sie et musique). Baïf ��crit m��me des vers mesur��s �� l'antique; or Guy Le
F��vre de La Boderie ne mentionne m��me pas cette tentative. Il est ��vident qu'il
ne traite de la po��sie, en po��te ou en versificateur. Il ne cherche pas ��
comprendre les rapports entre la longueur des syllabes et le sens des mots, les
effets des rythmes trochaïques ou iambiques, par exemple, le choix des m��tres
ou le choix des strophes.

Le cinqui��me cercle est un long catalogue (1106 vers) dans lequel l'auteur
de la Galliade cite les noms de po��tes grecs, latins dans un ordre plus moins
chronologique. Il ne serait pas un homme de son ��poque s'il n'avait pas le
sentiment que les lettres, assassin��es par l'invasion des Barbares, viennent de
re-naître. Il passe donc sous silence des si��cles de po��sie. Il ne semble connaître
ni Rutebeuf, ni Villon. Le Roman de la Rose, qui pourtant avait connu plusieurs
��ditions au 16^ si��cle n'a pas l'honneur d'��tre mentionn��. C'est Dante qui a
fait revivre la po��sie. On trouve �� sa suite quelques noms de po��tes italiens
avant de commencer l'��num��ration des po��tes français. Il distingue ceux qui
se sont illustr��s sous François 1^^ de ceux qui ont connu la gloire sous Henri
II ou Henri III. Grâce �� eux, la po��sie est, apr��s un long p��riple, retourn��e ��
son berceau, la Gaule, l�� o�� les Bardes l'avaient invent��e copiant la Nature.
Comme nombre d'humanistes, Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie place la Nature

Renaissance et R��forme / 145

tr��s au-dessus de l'Art. En revenant �� leur terroir, les deux soeurs (Po��sie
et Musique) qui s'��taient an��mi��es �� cause des artifices que les Grecs en
particulier leur avaient inflig��s, reprennent de la vigueur et prosp��rent.

L'on peut se demander pourquoi l'auteur de la Galliade s'est cru oblig��
de composer ce catalogue qui, malgr�� quelques beaux vers, se r��v��le
fastidieux. Serait-ce pour concurrencer Maurice Sc��ve et son Microcosme,
Pontus de Tyard et ses discours philosophiques, deux auteurs qu'il tient en
particuli��re estime? L'on sait que la deuxi��me moiti�� du seizi��me sci��cle a
vu beaucoup d'ouvrages "encyclop��diques" qui devaient contenir le r��sum��
de la Connaissance. L'on ne peut rejeter cette hypoth��se, mais il nous
semble que plus important aux yeux de Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie est
l'imp��ratif de conpl��ter son oeuvre en cinq cercles �� cause de la symbolique
du nombre cinq qui— comme nous l'avons indiqu��— repr��sente l'union du
ciel et de la terre. Celle-ci se fera, selon notre auteur, quand le Christ viendra
du ciel visiter la terre pour la deuxi��me fois, c'est-��-dire quand il se fera
encore Homme (5 est encore le symbole de l'homme). Ce temps ne saurait
tarder. Tous les signes sont l��. Comme il l'a d��montr��, les sciences et les
arts sont retourn��s, dans leur patrie, la Gaule, qui a ��t�� leur premier s��jour
et qui est aussi leur embl��me. ^^ L'��poque du grand retour de la cr��ation
originelle est imminente et Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie est sûr d'en hâter
la venue par son po��me. D'une part il y r��v��le les secrets de l'Univers
permettant au lecteur de comprendre l'harmonie universelle et de la r��aliser
sur terre; d'autre part il a compos�� un po��me qui est la repr��sentation m��me
de ce retour. Non seulement l'ouvrage est form�� de cercles referm��s sur
eux-m��mes qui d��montrent le retour des arts �� leur lieu de d��part, mais le
po��me lui-m��me est un immense cercle: il commence et se termine en effet
par ces mots: "L�� Galliade ou de la r��volution des Arts et des Sciences." Il
est structur�� �� l'image m��me de l'Orouboros, de ce serpent qui se mord la
queue, et est la confirmation que le cycle de l'histoire est achev��, que le
cercle est bien referm�� sur lui-m��me. N'oublions pas non plus que le cercle
depuis les pythagoriciens, renvoient au Cr��ateur. Nous retenons volontiers
ce que disait M. Poulet dans les Les M��tamorphoses du cercle (p. 5-6): "de
tous les po��tes qui, �� la fin du XVI^ si��cle, ont ��t�� hant��s par l'embl��me du
Dieu point et du Dieu cercle, il n'est est pas de plus riche en d��veloppements
de ce genre que le catholique Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie ..." On peut
donc consid��rer La Galliade comme une oeuvre initiatique qui doit hâter
la venue du Christ, de l'Homme-Dieu" comme il l'appelle, celui-l�� m��me
qui r��alisera, de par sa double nature, l'hym��n��e du ciel et de la terre.^^

Universit�� d'Ottawa

146 / Renaissance and Refonnation


1 Citons, par exemple, le Maire de Belges, Guillaume de Bellay, Robert C��rau, Jean Picard
de Toutiy, Guillaume Postel etc.

2 François Secret, Notes sur Postel, B.4.R., XXI (1959), p. 456.

3 François Secret, Les Kabbalistes chr��tiens de la renaissance (Dunod: Paris, 1964), p. 193.

4 Idem., p. 181.

5 Advertissement au lecteur.

6 Jean Chevalier, Alain Gheerbrant, Dictionnaire des symboles, p. 254.

7 Samothes, appel�� quelquefois Dis ou Pluton, fils de Japhet.

8 François Secret, L'Esot��risme de Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie (Paris: Droz, 1969), p. 66.

9 François Secret, Les Kabbalistes, p. 136.

10 Ici Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie suit son maître Postel. Dans De ce qui est premier, on
peut en effet lire: "J��rusalem Seconde ou Venize, substitu��e �� Rome ..." (cf. Dubois,
Celtes et Gaulois au XVI^ si��cle [Paris, 1972], p. 166).

11 II faut noter que dans la deuxi��me ��dition de la Galliade, l'auteur a consid��rablement
augment�� ce deuxi��me cercle puisque celui-ci passe de 508 �� 1516 vers. On aurait pu
esp��rer des additions sur les proportions et l'harmonie du monde. Il n'en est rien. Comme
le dit Wilson Dudley dans son article La Seconde Édition de la "Galliade" (dans M��langes
�� la m��moire de France Simone), "ce second cercle ne serait "qu'une marqueterie ma
jointe." Guy Le F��vre de La Boderie a voulu grossir ce cercle sur l'architecture par souci
d'��quilibre, les autres cercles contenant plus de mille vers.

12 p. 249.

13 Idem., p. 246.

14 Op. cit., p. 251.

15 Advertissement.

16 Claude Gilbert Dubois, Celtes et Gaulois au XVI^ si��cle., p. 60.

17 Puisqu'ils ont d��j�� s��journ�� dans 4 empires:
Monsieur, ja quatre fois la monarchie errante

En Babylone, en Perse, aux Grecs et aux Romains,
A tir�� quant et soy l'honneur des arts humains.
Et mise �� son sommet leur langue bien-disante.
Sonnet 1 (v.1-4)

18 La Galliade n'est donc pas un autre po��me n��o-platonisant comme le seizi��me si��cle en
a tant vus.

"Derived Honesty and Achieved Goodness
Doctrines of Grace in AlPs Well That
Ends Well


All's Well That Ends Well deeply concerns faith — in particular, how one
may come by it. When Helena persuades the King of France that, despite
his doubts, she can cure him, she attributes her healing power to "[t]he
greatest grace lending grace."^ She thus establishes a theological dimension
to the play borne out by the entirety of ILL The King's fistula merely
represents superficially his inner canker: despair. His loss of hope is brought
to our attention within the first thirteen lines of the play, and from the
beginning to the end of Il.i, the dialogue between Helena and her spiritual
patient is that between a believer and a skeptic gradually turned proselyte.
When the process of conversion begins in II.i.99, the King has already
expressed his defeatism: he has wished himself dead, has virtually denied
his usefulness to the living, and has surrendered his social "place" to more
productive youths (I.ii.64-69). Then, like a pouting child who takes his
disappointment out on anyone who tries to cheer him, the King flatly rejects
Lafew's invitation to be healed:


Will you be cur'd

Of your infirmity?

King. No.


Hence, Lafew must cajole the King as though he were a churlish boy to be

O, will you eat
No grapes, my royal fox? Yes, but you will
My noble grapes, and if my royal fox
Could reach them. (11. 69-72)

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 2 (1990) 147

148 / Renaissance and Reformation

When Helena takes over from Lafew as the King's verbal seducer to health,
she must convince the King that his situation is not "inaidible"; she must
make him "credulous" toward her "laboring art" (ILL 119, 115, 118). In his
"despair," the King recalls Doctor Faustus (II.i.l44). But the Helen in All's
Well, far from securing Faustus' damnation with a kiss, dispels the
misgivings of her "patient" with "[i]nspired merit," "certainty," and "confi-
dence" (ILi.204, 148, 169). By the end of Il.i, she has moved the King from
conviction of his "peril" (1. 133) to "trust" in her powers and therefore to
hope of recovering from his disease (1- 206). Helena's willingness to stake
her life on her faith has instilled faith in another (11. 187-189).

Few critics have denied the allusions in Il.i to religious faith. Some have
also connected Helena's healing of the King to her cure of Bertram's
faithlessness through exposing his deceit. And occasionally a scholar has
seen religious allusions in other features oï All's Well. Robert Y. Turner, for
example, believes Bertram's story to be a variation on that of the prodigal
son, popular during the years 1601-1604. R. G. Hunter more specifically
associates Bertram's utter inability to behave well with the common
Protestant view of a humanity who cannot help but work in every way
toward their own destruction and who can be saved only by God.^

What critics have not noticed to date, however, is a more precise and
revealing relationship between theology and All's Well. That relationship
entails the Reformation controversy concerning the nature of grace. Is grace
given exclusively at birth through God's election, as Reformed doctrine
maintains? Or can faith be acquired in part through good works, as
Catholics were teaching before the Reformation and continued to assert
after the Council of Trent (1545-1563)? Put another way, is our salvation
thoroughly out of our hands, dependent solely upon a predestined gift of
grace? Or do we have some free will to pursue, to accept, or to reject grace?
Can people cooperate at all with God, or is He all-powerful, and humanity
completely impotent?^

This debate was by no means outmoded at the turn of the seventeenth
century. Indeed, much of the dramatic tension in All's Well (1602-1603)
reflects it— for instance, in Il.iii, where Helena is rewarded for her "heavenly
effect" on the King with her choice of husbands (11. 23-24). The King's
language, as he instructs Helena's decision, re-emphasizes the symbolism
of divine grace that, as in Il.i, forms part of her rich characterization:

Thy frank election make;
Thou hast power to choose, and they none to forsake. 01- 55-56)

Renaissance et R��forme / 149

Helena's "election" mimics the Calvinist God's determination of who will
be saved; this instance is but one of many in the play where human love
points beyond itself to imply divine love, as well. Moreover, in the King's
eyes, "election" by Helena is as irresistible to a man as is God's grace in
Calvin's view."^ And no wonder: the King himself has thoroughly abandoned
his despair under Helena's spell. But in the spirit of a reformed sinner who,
once having witnessed the truth, cannot understand how others remain
blinded, the King overestimates Helena's attractiveness to Bertram, who
fmds her quite resistible: "I cannot love her, nor will strive to do 't" (1- 145).
More significantly, Bertram's rejection of Helena's devoted love subtly but
sharply mocks the basis of Reformed theology: in refusing the "election"
freely offered him, Bertram exercises free will. Contrary to Protestant
teaching, he plays a role in determining the course of his own salvation,
much as Helena has partaken in guiding the King's favor toward her.

In Il.iii Shakespeare thus undercuts the very Calvinist idea of irresistible
grace that he seems wholeheartedly to advance in Il.i, where the King
succumbs to Helena's magic. In "Giletta of Narbona," the source of All's
Well, Painter offers nothing comparable to Shakespeare's Il.iii, an addition
that seems pointedly allusive to the theology of grace. Expanding his satire
on Calvinist irresistible grace in Il.iii, Shakespeare also creates sympathy
for Bertram's disobedience to the King and for his distaste toward Helena's
"election." Bertram's understandable shock at having thrust upon him a
wife he has not even considered wooing is accompanied at first by a
perfectly reasonable plea:

My wife, my liege? I shall beseech your Highness,
In such a business, give me leave to use
The help of mine own eyes. (11. 106-108)

So argues Hermia to Egeus in Li of^ Midsummer Night's Dream, and so
dictates comic convention: the young must claim their autonomy from the
old. We glimpse this comic truth earlier in All's Well, when Helena rebuffs
the Countess' every attempt to call herself Helena's "mother," until those
attempts become funny in their futility (I.iii.l37 ff.). Later in the play,
Bertram restates his need to choose freely when he explains why he has
spumed Helena and now woos Diana: "I was compell'd to her [Helena],
but I love thee [Diana] / By love's own sweet constraint, and will for ever
/ Do thee all rights of service" (IV.ii.15-17). Of course, Bertram proves
insincere here, since he eventually deserts Diana. But his search for freedom
and his rebellion against the King's coercion are not, in themselves, either

150 / Renaissance and Reformation

wicked or alien to comedy. Bertram, we somehow feel, is entitled to resist
the King and to elect his own spouse.^

Nevertheless, Bertram's peculiar struggle for independence cannot be
fully understood in the context of comic convention alone— if for no other
reason than that, unlike most of his comic counterparts, he soon loses our
sympathy as he proceeds not to earn responsibility for himself, but to lie,
cheat, and evade responsibility. In fact, Bertram's profligacy and his
resistance toward the love that Helena ceaselessly offers him continue to
elaborate on the play's complicated, ever-shifting attitude toward the same
question: where does grace come from? In Il.iii the answer might appear
to be not from divine "election" (1. 55), as represented by Helena's choice
of Bertram, but from the decisions one makes on one's own. Yet that answer
baldly contradicts another running throughout All's Well— that grace, like
a gift, rains freely and irrespective of human merit, as it seems to do on the
King (Il.i) and finally on Bertram in V.iii. Many critics, along with Arthur
Kirsch, have observed that the Bertram of V.iii "seems at his most
unattractive precisely at the moment he is being redeemed." This apparent
inconsistency between what Bertram deserves and what he receives has
been almost universally identified by scholars, from Johnson onward, as
the play's central problem.^ Yet Bertram's lack of merit presents no problem
whatsoever in a Calvinist scheme: there, the forgiveness that descends on
the undeserving demonstrates God's bounteous mercy, and God, according
to His good and secret pleasure, elects as recipients of His grace some people
who may not, from our limited and human perspective, appear worthy. But
there is yet another, true problem at the play's conclusion: the Calvinism
that can clearly account for Bertram's so-called "redemption" is continually
undermined by another clear viewpoint in the play — that grace and love
are earned rewards for goodness.

Although understanding Bertram's redemption may involve a tangle of
theological, as well as dramatic, complications,^// 5 Well is not a "Christian"
play. Nor is it merely a comedy. It is, rather, a "problem play" that
incorporates comedy and in which different Christian beliefs are explored
in light of and in conflict with each other. By the term problem play I refer
to a precise definition, probably best expressed by Ernest Schanzer

A play in which we find a concern with a moral problem which is central
to it, presented in such a manner that we are unsure of our moral
bearings, so that uncertain and divided responses to it in the minds of
the audience are possible or even probable.^

Renaissance et R��forme / 151

In Schanzer's view, then, a "problem play" is known by two criteria: it
studies a moral problem itself, and it presents a moral problem to us. Although
this definition does not rule out the possibility of resolution to either problem,
it still implies that a "problem play'' is more devoted to moral inquiry than to
moral conclusions. All's Well is no exception in this regard.

The problem of grace— of how we come by divine or even human love— is
but one avenue to exposing the identity of All's Well as that of a "problem
play." Yet this problem is a striking means of illustrating how the play
continually defies the very judgments it constantly invites us to make: All's
Well alternates its own apparent judgments about election and free will.
The play first promotes one seeming truth and then substitutes its antithesis.
Never does the work satisfyingly arbitrate between the two "truths." Instead,
All's Well constantly revises its own judgments and ever teases ours.

When Bertram has finally seen through ParoUes' false exterior, he speaks
a line that raises a complex of ironies. "All's one to him," says Bertram of
the scoundrel. "What a past-saving slave is this!" (IV.iii.138-139). The
question of whether ParoUes or any other character in All's Well can be
called "past-saving" involves far more consideration than Bertram gives it
and, ultimately, a web of self-contradictoiy responses. But perhaps the
sharpest sting in Bertram's judgment of ParoUes is that it will all too soon
appear to fit Bertram himself: having witnessed the shame that deception
has brought on ParoUes, Bertram nevertheless re-enacts the parasite's
mistake when, for instance, he lies repeatedly to the King about his abuse
of Diana (V.iu). Evidently, Bertram cannot imagine that his own treachery
makes Diana suffer as ParoUes' betrayal has hurt him. The education
afforded Bertram by ParoUes' unmasking seems wasted; it is as though
Bertram were "past-saving."

How are we, then, to understand the forgiveness finally showered on
Bertram by the one most injured at his hands? Over and again, All's Well
instructs our interpretation of such cleansing grace with conflicting signs,
many of them involving human love as a metaphor for divine love. From
one perspective, the play frequently tempts us to think of grace as a state
to be earned, as a condition over which one can exercise some control.
Helena clearly voices this attitude, in connection with human love, when
she says of Bertram: "Nor would I have him till I do deserve him" (I.iii.l99).
Much as Helena bases love on merit, so does the King demand that Bertram

152 / Renaissance and Reformation

"prove" his "honor" (V.iii.l83). Similarly, Helena refers to her high regard
for and payment to Diana as compensation for the maiden's labor:

. . . since you have made the days and nights as one.
To wear your gentle limbs in my affairs.
Be bold you do so grow in my requital
As nothing can unroot you. (V.i.3-6)

Though each of these details is small in itself, they all add up to plant in
the audience's mind the idea that love, reputation, and financial security
are rewards for good behavior. By extension, God's love, too, would be such

At the same time, however, the play asserts another position on grace,
again through scattered details that gradually cohere. It is the Reformed
view that divine grace is not earned, that it is gratuitous and thus out of
one's control. The Countess, for example, alludes to Helena as an "angel"
to "[b]less" her "unworthy husband"; here again, the spiritual language
applied to human love suggests that divine grace is given unconditionally
(III.iv.25-26). In addition, the King speaks of good looks and good charac-
ter—and the Countess, of youth's passion— all as inherited, not acquired
(I.ii.19-22, Liii.128-135). Likewise, at one point Helena makes herself and
Diana out to be the mere pawns of divine design:

Doubt not but heaven
Hath brought me up to be your daughter's dower.
As it hath fated her to be my motive
And helper to a husband. (IV.iv.18-21)

Helena also seems to relinquish control when she refrains from imposing
herself on Bertram: "In everything I wait upon his will" (II.iv.54). She
surrenders herself to "waiting" in the two senses of "serving" Bertram and
of "awaiting" his acceptance.

Although there is little of the specifically doctrinal in the preceding
examples, once we become conscious of how these subtleties covertly
manipulate and confuse our opinions about free will and predestination, a
link comes into focus between these details and the play's larger, more
obvious vacillations: permeating ^47/5 Well, hints that human beings enjoy
free choice compete for our approval with signs that humanity is predes-
tined. In turn, this dramatic tension mirrors an actual historical controversy
over the source of grace in Shakespeare's England.

Renaissance et R��forme / 153

Historical research suggests that English Renaissance society as a whole
never fully embraced the Reformed doctrine of election. Such may be less
the case during the period of high Renaissance drama— from the 1580s
through the eariy 16(X)s— than both before and after those years. Yet given
the disagreements over predestination that are known to have arisen during
the era that spawned All's Well, the influence of such controversy on the
play is probable. Although the Church of England officially adopted the
essential Reformed doctrine of election in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the
wording of the Articles, as well as the spirit of their contents, often generated
vigorous argument^

Debate centered particularly on the issue that persists in All's Well— that
is, on the degree to which one could be said to affect one's own salvation
or damnation. The same question might emerge in various forms— for
example, in arguments over whether the elect persevered or could fall from
grace because of ceasing to merit salvation. But always the question was
fundamentally the same, and frequently the answers conflicted. Charles
and Catherine George cite the English "tendency to retreat from the
extremes of predestinarian ideology" as the single exception to the "remark-
able consistency" of English Reformed thought Dewey Wallace goes
farther he insists that, throughout the Reformation era, conflict "shift[ed]
focus" from one aspect of the whole theology of grace to another, but that
"more and more the doctrine of predestination came to the fore as the
touchstone of how grace was regarded." Nicholas Tyacke goes so far as to
argue that the origins of the English Civil War can be traced to the Arminian
controversy about grace that grew steadily from about 1605 on.^^

A glance at the debate about election and free will in Shakespeare's time
can place All's Well in historical context Over the years the controversy
repeatedly involved the facing off of humanists. Some would, like Luther
and then Calvin, remain humanist scholars while calling into serious doubt
the humanist glorification of a humanity empowered to make righteous
choices.*^ Others, like Erasmus, More, and generations of Christian
humanists to follow, would attempt to preserve some of the dignity that
earlier Italian humanists like Pico had claimed for Adam's descendants.^^
Freedom to choose rightly confers that dignity. As England gradually
adopted Reformed theology during the reigns of Edward and Elizabeth, the
Christian humanism that shared its ancestry with Protestantism did not die
out It instead survived until Milton (1608-1674), and without fail its most
distinguished inheritors, even if they profess Protestantism, posit some
degree of human free will to choose rightly. In the disagreements about
faith that ensued in England from the 1540s, one of the two participants

154 / Renaissance and Reformation

almost always had obvious Christian humanist leanings. ^^ Richard Hooker
fought several battles over predestination— first with his colleague Walter
Travers, and later with the anonymous author(s) of A Christian Letter (1599),
the first printed response to Hooker's Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity}^

But what about the lay inhabitants of London who would have peopled
the original audience oi All's WelP. Were they aware of the bickering among
their learned authorities? In fact, the public relished episodes of clerical
incompatibility. Alan Fager Heir explains that, despite Queen Elizabeth's
measures to quell controversial sermons, "a great many . . . were preached,
and not only preached but printed as well." Yet the more exciting arena for
the general public was contests between churchmen, for these went uncen-
sored by state officials, who thought them harmless. Herr elaborates:

People flocked to hear men who did more exciting things than point out
the way to heaven, and they read the works of these same men, thus
encouraging presses to print the controversial sermons and the treatises
which depended from them. Controversies rarely remained the property
of the original contestants only, but were taken up by others until we
find such titles as this: A Disproofe ofD. Abbots Counterproofe against D.
Bishops Reproqfe of the defence ofM. Perkins Reformed Catholic. If readers
could and would follow a theological controversy as intricate as this, it
is plain that the age liked controversy, and that it was bound to flourish
in spite of any prohibitions and inhibitions there might be.^^

No doubt scenes between Richard Hooker and Walter Travers were of such
moment as Herr describes: these two preachers alternately espoused
differing views of grace and free will from the same pulpit Indeed, W. Speed
Hill writes: '*The conflict between Hooker and Travers was especially
intense, threatening the peace of the Inns of Court and thus also of the
nation." It would be resolved only by the removal of one man from
office— in this case. Travers.

Martha Tuck Rozett relates the popularity of preaching that Hen-
describes to the rise of Elizabethan drama:

The growing popularity of preaching, like that of playing, accounted for
a dramatic increase in the number of publications during the 1570s and

1580s Through pulpit and press, the attitudes of the preachers and

the language that attached to those attitudes passed into the culture and
became the common possession of playwrights and audiences alike.
Whether or not these attitudes were consciously endorsed by the people
exposed to them is unimportant; what matters is that their widespread
influence gradually began to affect the way the plays were written and

Renaissance et R��forme / 155

Rozett shows that the same Londoners who attended the sermons were in
general those who went to the theater, such that divines came to compete
with playwrights for their audiences. A sizable portion of Shakespeare's
audience in 1600, then, could be expected to have possessed no little
familiarity with theological complexities of the day.

English Renaissance drama thus came honestly by any doctrinal debate
it incorporated. The specific preoccupation with free will and predestination
that one finds in All's Well perhaps reaches its clearest and most provocative
handling in the revenge play type: the issue of revenge, after all, is that of
control, of where the power and will to act originate and of how they are
licensed. Before such plays as The Spanish Tragedy, Antonio's Revenge, and
Hamlet were dreamt of, however, the story of Jacob and Esau became the
standard for illustrating the mechanics of election. One encounters the
brothers, epitomizing the gulf between elect and reprobate, throughout
sermons and religious treatises, as well as in the anonymous play of about
1568.^^ The Calvinist double predestination in Jacob and Esau is eerily
straightforward. God's intents are so fixed that no amount of sneaky
deception can lower Jacob in His esteem. Neither can all manner of
instruction raise Esau in God's sight As the character Hanan says:

Esau hath ben nought euer since he was borne.
And wherof commeth this, of Education?
Nay it is of his owne yll inclination.^^

Damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, Esau remains trapped in
divine disfavor.

The explanation of salvation and damnation in All's Well, however, is far
less clear-cut. A moralistic work like Jacob and Esau, in fact, teaches much
about what Shakespeare avoided in addressing doctrines of grace in his
own play. Jacob and Esau confirms the sterility of Reformed didacticism.
It is medieval morality drama minus the protagonist's choice. But compare
with that flat work the dialectical, experimental, and provocative "play" of
More's Utopia and Erasmus' Praise of Folly. These and other works by the
most gifted of Christian humanists were compulsory reading in late
sixteenth- and seventeenth-century universities, where their readership
more than likely did not end.^^ In them students would find models of
education that promote, rather than constrain, free thought — paradigms
that themselves allow for the free will that they always somehow champion.

Such is the intellectual tradition Shakespeare appropriates in structuring
All's Well. He uses the tools of the Christian humanists to create exploratory

156 / Renaissance and Reformation

"problem comedy." Ironically, however, so pure a specimen of that form is
All's Well that it finally does not favor Christian humanist views of free will
and predestination over their Protestant counterparts. Instead, the play
holds in consistent tension two possibilities: either the strict Reformed
concept of predestination or the Christian humanists' belief in the partial
efficacy of free will may be correct. Borrowing his dramatic method from
the Christian humanists, Shakespeare also puts their opinions about grace
and free will to the test

The doctrines of election and of free will, as Shakespeare manipulates them
in All's Well, are finally no more reconciled than they were in the actual
world that his fiction represents. At one early point, for example, the
Countess observes of Helena that "she derives her honesty, and achieves
her goodness"; what Helena "inherits" beyond her control and what she
acquires on her own through "education" will cooperate, the Countess
implies, toward developing her "virtues" (I.i.39-45). But no such cooperation
can finally be discerned, one could argue, in the case of Bertram: his
education has led him to produce no good works, and yet he is given
"pardon" (V.iii.308).

In essence, >4//5 Well insistently winds back upon itself when identifying
whether human goodness and grace come from within humanity or from
the divine alone. The title of the ballad that touts Helena's curing of the
King beautifully conveys this ambiguity: "The showing of a heavenly effect
in an earthly actor," reads Lafew (II.iii.23-24). An "actor" can be one who
pretends to do or one who in fact does. Has Helena been an "actor" in the
theatrical sense of the term and therefore only a human agent of "heavenly"
grace? Or is Helena an "actor" in that she is a self-motivated doer of deeds,
in that her "heavenly effect" originates with her own moral choice? Is she
being controlled, or is she in control?

As these questions imply, the ambiguity in All's Well toward whether or
not grace is earned cannot be separated from the problem of Helena's own
faith. For indeed, Helena's characterization epitomizes the entire play's
oscillation; she is herself a shuttle whose incessant movements between
self-doubt and self-confidence produce much of the play's tension. If the
whole 0Ï All's Well swings between visions of a humanity that here appears
predestined and there seems free to choose, Helena recapitulates that
ambivalence through a cycle of her own, first lacking and then rediscovering
faith in herself Often, her despair goes hand in hand with her belief that

Renaissance et R��forme / 157

she is fated by external forces; conversely, her general faith in the future is
usually restored when she recovers assurance in her own power to act. The
first scene of the play lucidly maps out this pattern. Helena initially mourns
her social position as though it predestines her exclusion from Bertram's
love: "Twere all one / That I should love a bright particular star / And
think to wed it, he is so above me" (I.i.85-87). Yet by the scene's end, it is
not Helena's destiny that is "fix'd," but her "mtents" (1. 229). She is
exhilarated by trust in her own ability: "Who ever strove / To show her
merit, that did miss her love?" (11. 226-227). In one scene she thus transforms
from an apparently chosen reprobate in affairs of the heart to a woman
responsible for "meriting" her own amorous success.

Throughout the play Helena continues to embody this tension between
election and free will. In I.iii the audience detects the same inner conflict
between her lack of and her possession of self-confidence that her solilo-
quies in Li make evident. Act I.iii is a contest for control: the Countess
interrogates Helena for information that Helena refuses to release. Here, as
elsewhere, we suspect that Helena operates according to a secret agenda.
So senses the Countess, who, when Helena hedges, grills her all the more
assiduously. The dynamics of I.iii suggest that Helena remains cryptic
because she hesitates to presume too much in loving Bertram. She has little
self-esteem. Paradoxically, however, the more she hides her feelings and
expresses her inadequacy, the more willful and forceful she appears. Her
very evasion seems almost to yield her the Countess' undivided attention,
and her tentativeness, to invite the Countess' respect where her self-respect
is missing. In fact, the exchange between Helena and the Countess blurs
the lines of manipulation: does the Countess get her way when Helena
finally confesses to loving Bertram (1. 191 ff)? Or has Helena finessed the
Countess into hearing her admission sympathetically? Has the Countess
won the contest? Or has Helena allowed the Countess to think herself the
victor, all the while plotting how best to win Bertram, as well as his mother's
"leave and love, / Means and attendants" (11. 251-252)? Both interpretations
of I.iii are possible because Helena conveys both helplessness and power.
From one angle, she resembles the Reformed concept of humanity— weak
and thoroughly dependent for her future upon a higher authority. From
another, she brings to life the Christian humanist trust in wit and will.

Similar confusion about whether Helena is taking the initiative or being
manipulated surrounds her continual riddling and scheming. Even her
opening quibble— "I do affect a sorrow indeed, but I have it too" (I.i.54)—
can make her appear either masterfully in charge of her public appearance
or pathetically defensive toward the aristocrats who could ruin her. As the

158 / Renaissance and Reformation

plot progresses, Helena increasingly weaves back and forth between the
extremes of melancholy defeatism and of sheer self-possession — for
instance, first exiling herself for causing Bertram's flight to war (III.ii.99-
129), then retrieving the "confidence" she has formerly displayed to the
King by styling herself as Bertram's fit companion (II.i.l59, 169; e.g., Ill.vii).
This constant vacillation on Helena's part between passivity and activity
defines the problem of her character as one of acquiring and keeping faith.
When she lacks faith in herself, she appears a pawn; when she recovers
confidence, she seems to be mistress of her own fortunes.^^

Inevitably, the audience comes to share Helena's problem of belief. Her
revolving opinion of herself and of her world ensures that our reactions to
her and to the whole play will be highly mixed. To extend the language of
theology, Helena shakes our faith in her and in the fiction oï All's Well.
Finally, the conjunction of Helena's ambivalence and our own is part of
Shakespeare's method: it fosters our confusion over the claims of both free
will and predestination because we cannot trust for long in any of Helena's
views toward the same issues. Shakespeare deliberately makes this
woman's every attitude just enough exaggerated, just enough excessive, to
create some unpleasantness and, hence, to induce some revulsion. Clifford
Leech has been treated by his fellow critics as a heretic for first suspecting
Helena of unseemly.^^ Still, I would not only espouse Leech's view, but add
to it a dislike for Helena's frequent self-deprecations. Whether she is
convinced of her worth or of her worthlessness, whether she seizes or
abandons all control, Helena's speeches and behavior often approach the
offensively extreme. The wording of her guilt-ridden speech about Bertram's
disappearance, for example, smacks of needless anxiety and overprotective-
ness toward her husband:

Poor lord, is't I
That chase thee from thy country, and expose
Those tender limbs of thine to the event
Of the none-sparing wai? (III.ii.102-105)

Surely Helena patronizes Bertram, whose "limbs" hardly prove "tender"
and whose battles "spare" at least a few like himself In addition, her
subsequent decision to withdraw from Rossillion for Bertram's sake rings
of false martyrdom (11. 120-129). There is often something as forced and
troublesome about Helena's retiring moments as there is about her com-
plementary periods of tenacity and self-assertion. She can be equally
unattractive when she gives up control, as in Ill.ii, and when she exercises

Renaissance et R��forme / 159

it to a fault— as in the ironical case of her limiting Bertram's freedom in
the very act of choosing him freely.

Nor is our judgment of Helena confined to these unappealing options,
for she can also appear admirable when either active or passive. I believe,
for instance, that we relish her skill at manipulating ParoUes in the play's
first scene (11. 99-215); she deftly borrows his military language, reflecting
his belligerence, yet holds out against his verbal assaults and psychological
barbs (he even greets her with an insult: "queen," 1. 106). By the same token,
she reveals a moral sensitivity when she asks Bertram for the blessing of
his kiss, but meekly permits him to bestow or withhold it freely (II.v.78-88).
In these two cases — and in many others — Shakespeare evokes sympathy for
Helena, in her assertiveness, as well as in her humility. As the play
progresses, these shades of Helena's "loveliness" that caught Coleridge's
eye contrast ever more sharply with those of her distastefulness. The
multiple ambivalences we feel toward Helena are not a purely Shakespear-
ean invention: Painter disapproves of Giletta for loving Beltramo "more
then was meete for a maiden of her age," but then reveres her for loving
Beltramo "better then her owne selfe."^^ Shakespeare has expanded this
faintest of contradictions into an entire method of characterization, so that
the most minute of details concerning Helena seems designed to elicit

Such tonal mingling in Helena's characterization conditions the way we
think about salvation. Helena, that is, prevents us from thoroughly attaching
ourselves to any single understanding of faith or grace. Because Helena can
either engage or disengage our sympathy, whether she appears to be
controlled or to be in control, she presents us with a spectrum of ways in
which we may view the doctrines of election and of free will. As Helena's
faith in herself, strength of conviction, and willingness to act recede or show
forth, so does her character alternately suggest the validity of predestination
or of free choice. Furthermore, no sooner are we enticed to affirm one of
these two doctrines, as it is suggested through Helena's character, than the
play makes us doubt the same doctrine by indirectly undercutting her
character. Thus Helena in charge can be delightful or overbearing. So, too,
can Helena the underling seem appropriately modest or cloyingly self-effac-
ing. In which of these Helenas can we finally trust? Which would we hope
to be like— Helena the director or Helena the directed? Concrete matters
like these resonate with questions that arise about other characters, most
notably ParoUes and Bertram. As the careers of these two figures begin to
climax in the later acts, the play's focus on grace enlarges steadily. But
Shakespeare's reliance on his central characters to sustain ambiguity toward

160 / Renaissance and Reformation

free will and predestination never varies. The closing scene, V.iii, attests to
this fact; Bertram's enforced confrontation with his transgressions is open
to various readings, each involving a different perspective on the nature of
grace. In addition, we are prepared for these final multiple perspectives by
Shakespeare's puzzling treatment of Parolles. The episodes concerning
Parolles' exposure and its aftermath foreshadow Bertram's following story
with remarkable similarity.

The key question about both Parolles and Bertram is whether either
changes— or at the least shows potentiality for change— as a result of his
embarrassment If yes, then the forgiveness that each receives could readily
be construed as a reward for actual or promised merit. If no, then grace
given either of them must be considered a free gift To discern whether these
characters convert, then, would be to reach a clearer notion about whether
All's Well depicts grace as earned through free will or as bestowed by God's
election. In pursuing this question, we should first examine Parolles' history
because it is more complete than Bertram's. Shakespeare permits us to judge
whether Parolles acts differently after having been exposed, whereas
Bertram's similar ordeal in V.iii is not followed through. Thus,
Shakespeare's self-conscious paralleling of the two characters continues, in
a sense, after the play's end: what we know about Parolles may enable us
to speculate on Bertram's undisclosed future.

Even before Parolles is tricked, his characterization combines despicable
traits with potentially redeeming qualities. Parolles is an egoist and a moral
minimalist who will eventually sacrifice anything and anyone if his captors
will only "let" him "live" (IV.iii.241-245). In this he is every bit as repugnant
as Helena estimates (I.i.100-105). But are Parolles' "evils" so "fix'd" in him,
as Helena describes them (1. 102), that Parolles can never be but wicked?
Parolles' uncanny perceptiveness would suggest otherwise. A consistent
irony of Parolles' character is that he somehow speaks truly, even as he lies
or puts on airs. His remarks on the benefits of losing virginity, albeit crudely
stated, ultimately coincide with Helena's decision to forfeit her own (I.i).
The letter he writes to warn Diana about Bertram may be intended to
promote his own cause, but Parolles sizes up Bertram accurately, calling
him a "boy" and foreseeing Bertram's capacity for betrayal, like his own
(IV.iii.223-232). The astuteness Parolles achieves in spite of himself— his
misguided but promising vision— suggests that he could, perhaps, change
for the better.

Renaissance et R��forme / 161

Yet the fact is that Parolles never unequivocally demonstrates such
change, a point underscored by divergent critical views of his character.
Commentary about the precise process that Parolles undergoes centers on
his speech at the close of IV.iii:

Yet I am thankful. If my heart were great,

Twould burst at this. Captain 111 be no more,

But I will eat and drink, and sleep as soft

As captain shall. Simply the thing I am

Shall make me live. Who knows himself a braggart.

Let him fear this; for it will come to pass

That every braggart shall be found an ass.

Rust sword, cool blushes, and, Parolles, live

Safest in shame! Being fool'd, by fool'ry thrive!

There's place and means for every man alive. (11. 330-339)

Here, Parolles himself gives two opposing impressions about whether he
will go on to behave differently. Declaring "simply the thing I am shall
make me live" implies that he will remain a coward and a cheat, but will
own up to his real nature. On the basis of this statement, Parolles is often
said to have "reformed." But Parolles also says that he will "thrive" by
"fool'ry"; insofar as "fool'ry" connotes "trickery," as it seems to here, it
hardly signals a turnaround for this deceiver or an assurance that he is
ready to admit publicly what he actually is. If he continued to mask his
baseness with courtly and military pretensions, the only possible difference
between his past and future would lie in his and everyone else's awareness
of his pretense; and since nearly everyone but Bertram has already
recognized it, such a difference would constitute at most a barely perceptible
change. Indeed, perhaps these lines actually represent Parolles' minimalist
attitude at its most extreme yet, since he expresses the contentment of a less
than "great" "heart" with mere "place and means," such as belong to "every

This central speech on what Parolles' exposure has meant to him is thus
fraught with an ambiguity that his subsequent characterization sustains.
Shakespeare proceeds to keep us guessing about whether Parolles converts,
perhaps most notably by playing Parolles off of Lavatch— that is, by
comparing and contrasting two "fools." From IV.iii on, while Parolles
suffers degradation from all quarters, he comes more and more to sound
and behave like Lavatch. He is being conspicuously reduced to the genuine
"fool" he is, and is called, in the last two acts (e.g., IV.iii.254, V.ii.53). When
in rv.iii he ejaculates an "O Lord, sir. . .!" in response to his captors (11.

162 / Renaissance and Reformation

309-310), he surely recalls the entire scene in which Lavatch has ridiculed
courtiers with the identical phrase (Il.ii). Similarly, when referring to himself
before the King as a "poor man" in V.iii (1. 251), he echoes Lavatch's
introductory self-description, in Liii, as "a poor fellow" (11. 12-13). The gist
of this implicit coupling of characters may be that, as a result of being made
a laughingstock, Parolles is transforming from a base fool into a better kind
of fool: a lowly servant of others, like Lavatch. He may, in effect, be learning
a lesson. Unwilling earlier to grant Lafew that Bertram is his "master"
(II.iii.l86 ff.), he may be humiliated into becoming more submissive, as he
later bears himself toward Lafew: "It lies in you, my lord, to bring me in
some grace, for you did bring me out ... I praise God for you" (V.ii.46-47,
55). These lines offend Lafew (11. 48-50), but even so, Parolles' tone here
possesses little of his former haughtiness. Possibly, therefore, Parolles grows
morally, from loving only himself to caring for others. The theory that
Parolles has changed in this way gains credence from his last gesture: he
"lend[s]" his "handkercher" to the weeping Lafew (V.iii.32 1-322).

If Parolles has learned from his mistakes, then he merits, at least in part,
Lafew's newfound "grace" (V.ii.47). His will has played a part in his
receiving that mercy. Of course, nothing about Parolles' conduct in V.ii
would prompt Lafew to forgive him; Lafew says, in fact, that Parolles "shall
eat," ''though" he is undeserving (11. 53-54; emphasis added). In addition,
Lafew finally invites Parolles "home," in spite of the latter's "scurvy"
"curtsies" (V.iii.322-324). Lafew's forgiveness is thus at least partially
unconditional. But the issue here is whether Lafew's "grace" is totally
unearned by Parolles and is hence a model of unconditional divine election.
Although the play affords persuasive evidence that Parolles is growing
morally and therefore warrants Lafew's compassion, many passages indi-
cate the contrary. In this connection, too, Parolles' interplay with Lavatch
is telling, since the contrast between the two characters often suggests that
Parolles has not changed. Lavatch finds him, for example, affecting every
bit the courtier in V.ii that he has been before his fall in IV.iii; His foppish
diction is now made the more absurd because, as the ever-deflating Lavatch
points out, it is so very incongruous with his present physical condition:

Par. I am now, sir, muddied in Fortune's mood, and smell somewhat
strong of her strong displeasure.

Clo. Truly, Fortune's displeasure is but sluttish if it smell so strongly as
thou speak'st of . . . Prithee allow the wind. (V.ii.4-9)

Renaissance et R��forme / 163

Lavatch's honesty points out the euphemistic language in which ParoUes still
wraps the plain truth. This ParoUes appears no less given to self-delusion and
pretentiousness than before. In this light, therefore, the mercy eventually
bestowed on him is unconditional: ParoUes numbers among the elect

Evidently, Shakespeare is going to have the issue of ParoUes' conversion
both ways. We cannot, after all, study the treatment of this character to
surmise whether Bertram may change or to detect a resolution of the play's
tension between predestined and merited grace. Rather, close attention to
ParoUes' characterization untU the end repays the audience with more

As in the case of ParoUes, critics have long based their readings of
Bertram — and often, therefore, of the whole play — on incomplete evidence.
Either they judge Bertram worthy of Helena's faith in him, or they discount,
as insincere or as unimportant, Bertram's last plea for "pardon!" (V.iii.308).
Those who adopt the latter stance, unless they dismiss All's Well as
unbearably flawed, locate the play's essence in Bertram receiving
uneamed.^^ Whether one argues that Bertram logically merits forgiveness
through changing or, conversely, that the splendor of Helena's faith in her
husband is its very Ulogic, both of these opposing interpretations derive
from textual evidence. That substantiation, however, is exceedingly self-con-
tradictory — though there is enough of it on either side to validate two entire
and contradictory visions of the play.

The reading that Bertram converts and so earns forgiveness is supported,
for example, by the constant sense that his character is changing in various
ways. Bertram, in other words, does not appear to have been predestined,
like the brothers in Jacob and Esau, to practise either good or evil
consistently. Rather, his tendencies to behave both well and badly charac-
terize him as perpetually in flux. On the one hand, Shakespeare creates the
impression that Bertram is degenerating morally over the play's course: in
I.i and for some time following, no one suspects his integrity, but in IV.iii,
the First and Second Lords document at length his decline over time (U.
1-74). On the other hand, at the same time that Bertram's enormity is
swelling, his moral perception also seems to be improving. It may be that,
initially unable to see Helena's worth, he inadvertantly allows his wife to
cure his infected sight, as she heals the King's despair in Il.i; Helena's very
prescriptions, called "notes" (e.g., I.iii.226), imply by their name that she is
in particular a physician to the spiritually blind. Bertram, after all, is forced
to see both ParoUes' perfidy and Helena's virtue. His lines about her in
V.iii.315-316 suggest that the scales have finally faUen from his eyes: Helena
has made Bertram "know" her goodness "clearly." In short, Bertram often

164 / Renaissance and Reformation

seems capable of freely choosing to behave for the better and also for the
worse; if he can decide to change for the better, then he can also earn mercy.

But while the play urges us to think Bertram has changed or can change,
it also repeatedly warns that his self-proclaimed conversion is specious.
And if it is, then the "pardon" granted him is unconditional, like Calvinist
grace. A most obvious example of Bertram's unreliability is his habit of
promising to reform and then reneging, for instance, when he tells the King
he is reconciled to Helena (Il.iii. 167-176), when he swears to love Diana
always (IV.ii.36-37), and when, back in court, he professes to feel shamed
(V.iii.44-55). Bertram's last cry for forgiveness is not his first; he is forever
seeking "pardon" (e.g., II.iii.l67). The cyclical nature of his suits for mercy,
followed by moral relapses until the very end, casts no little doubt on his
final vow to love Helena "ever dearly" (V.iii.316). Even that oath is sworn
conditionally, as critics have often noticed: Bertram may actually be leaving
himself another exit from marriage "if' Helena cannot "make" him "know"
that she has fulfilled her tasks (V.iii.315). Nor is Bertram's checkered career
as a lover the sole means by which Shakespeare subverts his apparent
conversion. In fact, much of the play's closing scene calls into question the
lasting effects of anyone's spiritual renewal. The King, especially, is shown
to stray from keeping his own word in V.iii, and our shaken trust in him
is implicitly linked with our skepticism toward Bertram's similar vow to

In V.iii the King becomes "reconcil'd" to Bertram (1. 21). That is, he
recovers faith in one he has presumed lost, and he promulgates his

Let him [Bertram] not ask our pardon.
The nature of his great offense is dead.
And deeper than oblivion we do bury
Th' incensing relics of it (11. 22-25)

This statement of the King's mercy toward Bertram is perfectly unequivocal.
Yet as the scene unfolds, the King appears more and more to have protested
his benevolence too much. In line 38, for example, he discourages further
mention of Bertram's former crimes, since all is forgotten: "Not one word
more of the consumed time"; almost immediately thereafter, however, the
King conceives of Bertram's compunction over Helena's death as "striking]
some scores away / From the great compt" (11. 56-57). Contrary to his earlier
command in line 38, then, the King indeed mentions "one word more"
about Bertram's past, and he subtly reveals that, although he has publicly

Renaissance et R��forme / 165

pardoned Bertram, he nonetheless holds the young man accountable. Why
else would the King still be keeping "score" of Bertram's sins and acts of
penance? At this point, the King again breaks his own vow to ignore
Bertram's wrongs by moralizing on them extensively (11. 57-66). Next, the
King reissues his dictum to "forget" Helena and to turn to present affairs
(1. 67). But this time, too, only an instant passes before the King's suspicion
of Bertram belies his magnanimity: on seeing Helena's ring in Bertram's
possession, the King quickly jumps to the conclusion that Bertram has
engaged in foul play:

[Thou] raak'st conjectural fears to come into me.

Which I would fain shut out. If it should prove

That thou art so inhuman— 'twill not prove so;

And yet I know not thou didst hate her deadly (11. 1 14-1 17)

Here again, the King dredges up Bertram's former shortcomings, like his
"hate" for Helena. Because Helena once attached great symbolic value to
this gift from the King (11. 108-112), he perhaps has some reason to fear
Bertram's entanglement with her. He also tries not to blame Bertram
immediately: "Twill not prove so." Yet the King finally goes too far— iron-
ically far— in doubting Bertram. Quite simply, the King is wrong in his
judgment that Bertram has physically harmed Helena, and significantly,
he bases his wrong opinion on the knowledge of Bertram's past that he has
opened the scene by promising to "buiy" (1. 24). The parallel between
Bertram and the King as seeming converts is unmistakable. The latter's
wavering, his failure to keep his promises, underscores Bertram's similar
behavior. Each character seems unable to help himself; both appear
involuntarily to repeat their mistakes. Neither, therefore, would seem to
merit grace.

On the whole, then, the play does not seem hopeful in its outlook toward
spiritual growth, whereby grace might be earned. Yet this attitude does not
guarantee that grace is envisioned as a gift bestowed on Bertram, or on
anyone, through election. As do so many of the play's aspects, its final
assessment of Bertram both upholds and denies the idea that, no matter
what wrong he commits, he is predestined to be forgiven. From one
viewpoint on V.iii, as we have seen, he undoubtedly appears elected to grace
by Helena's agency. For all the appeal of this interpretation, however, it is
repeatedly disproved, as we have also observed. Even if we are to understand
that Bertram represents the elect, the fact still remains that Helena goes

166 / Renaissance and Reformation

about earning Bertram's love: she accomplishes the tasks through exercising
her innate wit

How does one come by grace? If Shakespeare has an opinion, he is not
prepared to divulge it in Alls Well That Ends Well. The play— to the benefit
of its vitality, if not the audience's peace of mind — relentlessly undermines
its own pat answers. In order to maintain controversy, Shakespeare taps
two opposing desires to be found in any audience: one, the wish to see
justice served and, two, the longing for a miracle that transcends the
rationale of justice. Such a miracle is love. We want Bertram punished, but
we would also like to see Helena win the husband of her choice. We want
more, that is, than the play or life can give us. All's Well comes brilliantly
and painfully close to home by figuring forth the recognizable tension
between our conflicting needs for justice and for unqualified love.

We can aspire and even pretend to know whether God rewards us
according to justice as we understand it or whether He chooses whom to
save on grounds that to us appear haphazard. But we do not know. Or so
the English theologians of the sixteenth century all somehow strive to
remind us. For no matter which controversial stand on election and free
will any of these thinkers may defend, all of them finally agree that
impenetrable mystery veils God's ways from our sight It is their awe of the
inscrutable that ultimately unites these churchmen, regardless of their
intellectual differences.

How fitting that All's Well, in the last analysis, should also invoke that
mystery, leaving its dilemmas open-ended and its audience bewildered. A
small change that Shakespeare made from his source says much about the
uncertainty with which he closes All's Well. Giletta seeks Beltramo's favor
after she has given birth to twins; her ample, visible proof of having fulfilled
the tasks is especially convincing because the boys are "very like their
father."^^ Where Painter removes doubt, however, Shakespeare sustains it
Helena's child, unborn when wife encounters husband, can and yet cannot
be seen; the mother's swollen womb implies, but does not absolutely verify,
her claims to having consummated her marriage. Hence, perhaps, Bertram's
"if (1. 315) and the King's equally disconcerting line, "All yet seems well"
(1. 333; emphasis added). Act V, then, brings the characters as close to
resolution as it truthfully can— to a kind of understanding and to the edge
of joy— even as it leaves them with insoluable problems.

Those problems belong to us, too, as they did to Shakespeare's first
audience. So the King announces, metaphorically, in his Epilogue: "Ours
be your patience then, and yours our parts" (1. 5). The play here begins to
break through the conventional barriers between art and audience. Some

Renaissance et R��forme / 167

Elizabethans, we can be sure, were imaginative enough to assume the
"parts" of Shakespeare's characters, and with this sympathy they would
have sensed a theological component of Alls Well that today may appear
obscure, if not trivial. How these people were going to be saved, though,
was the central issue in their lives. All's Well mirrored back to them their
questions, fears, and hopes about grace. They may have voiced these
concerns aloud, kept them private, or mulled them over unawares. Yet some
form of controversy over election and free will would have reached them
all. If we, in turn, assume the actors' "parts," we learn that All's Well is far
less a religious work with a specific vision to propound than a play
encompassing a theological tension. That distinction is crucial to make-
not only for accepting the play on its own cultural terms, but also for
understanding why the work unsettles audiences to this day. It seems an
enigma by design.

Davidson College


1 G. Blakemore Evans, gen. ��d., TTie Riverside Shakespeare (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974),
All's Well That Ends Well, ILL 160. All subsequent references will be to this edition.

2 Robert Y. Turner, "Dramatic Conventions in All's Well That Ends Well" PMLA, 75 (1960),
497. R. G. Hunter, Shakespeare and the Comedy of Forgiveness (New York: Columbia UP,
1965), ch. 5.

Critics who have observed Helena's association with divine grace include G. K. Hunter,
��d.. All's Well That Ends Well, New Arden ed. (London: Methuen, 1959), p. xlii and
annotation to Il.i; Clifford Leech, "The Theme of Ambition in All's Well That Ends Well,"
ELH, 21 (1954), 17-29; Kenneth Muir, Shakespeare's Comic Sequence (Liverpool: Liverpool
UP, 1979), p. 128; A. P. Riemer,^w//c Fables: Patterns of Evasion in Shakespeare's Comedies
(Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press, 1980), pp. 117 ff. The same association is also to
be found in the play's source, "Giletta of Narbona," the thirty-eighth novel of William
Painter's Palace of Pleasure (in G. K. Hunter, td.. All's Well That Ends Well, p. 146).

Cf. to R. G. Hunter, Arthur C. Kirsch, Shakespeare and the Experience of Love (Cambridge:
Cambridge Univ. Press, 1981), ch. 5, and Cari Dennis, ''All's Well That Ends Well and the
Meaning oî Agape," PQ, 50 (1971), 75-84. Kirsch and Dennis each examines, in his own
way, the power of human goodness and mercy like Helena's to redeem a sinful, fallen
nature like Bertram's.

A word on terminology seems crucial at the start. Throughout my essay I shall use three
terms in discussing post-Marian theology: Protestant, Reformed, and Calvinist. These three
adjectives represent an increasing degree of specificity, Calvinist pertaining strictly to the
teaching of John Calvin and the theological tradition to which it gave rise. I shall usually
refer to the doctrine of the Elizabethan Church as "Reformed"; Dewey D. Wallace, Jr.,
Puritans and Predestination: Grace in English Protestant Theology. 1525-1695 (Chapel Hill:
Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1982), recommends this term because Calvinism ultimately
blended with teachings of other reformers to produce a Reformed tradition (pp. x-xi). I
have also usually avoided the exceedingly troublesome terms Puritan and Anglican, which
have generated far more commentary than I can address here. For more discussion of

168 / Renaissance and Reformation

this problematic terminology, see Wallace, Introd. and ch. 2; Charles H. and Catherine
George, The Protestant Mind of the English Reformation (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1961),
pp. 65-66; Richard L. Greaves, Society and Religion in Elizabethan England (Minneapolis:
Univ. of Minneapolis Press, 1979), pp. 3-29; and especially Patrick Collinson, Godly
People: Essays on English Protestantism and Puritanism (London: Hambledon, 1983), and
"A Comment: Concerning the Name Puritan," /owma/ of Ecclesiastical History, 31 (1980),

3 This theological question mirrors the play's concern with whether nobility is inherited
at birth or acquired through education and deeds. Many students of Painter's story have
noticed that Shakespeare has deprived Helena of Giletta's money and relatives so as "to
emphasize the conflict of [earned] virtue and [inherited] nobility in the persons of Helena
and Bertram" (G. K. Hunter, All's Well, p. xxvii). The theme of nobility in the play is
addressed especially by M. C. Bradbrook, "Virtue Is the True Nobility," Review of English
Studies, NS I (1950), 289-301. See also Kenneth Muir, Comic Sequence, p. 127, and
Shakespeare's Sources (London: Methuen, 1957), pp. 99-100, where he suggests that the
handling of nobility in All's Well may derive from Giovanni Battista Nenna's Nennio, or
A Treatise of Nobility. Alice Shalvi, who introduces the Renaissance Facsimile edition of
Nennio, suggests that literature on true nobility proliferated during the late sixteenth
century because the rising English gentry hoped to legitimate their new power by appeal
to meritocracy (trans. William Jones, [London, 1595; rpt. Jerusalem: Israel UP], p. vii).
But another reason that the topic may have been so popular is that it resonates with the
doctrinal issue of election versus free will.

4 The tenet of irresistible grace is crucial in Calvinist dogma:

The operations of God on his elect are twofold— internally, by his spirit, externally, by
his word. By his Spirit illuminating their minds and forming their hearts to the love and
cultivation of righteousness, he makes them new creatures. By his word he excites themto
desire, seek, and obtain the same renovation.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. John Allen, 2 vols. (Philadelphia:
Presbyterian Board of Education, 1844), II.v.5. (My numbers refer to book, chapter, and
section numbers of Calvin's 1559 edition of the Institutes)

5 I think that Bertram's motive for rebellion has been long overlooked. R. G. Hunter denies
that Bertram has any reason at all for rejecting Helena (p. 122). Richard P. Wheeler,
Shakespeare's Development and the Problem Comedies: Turn and Counter-Turn (Berkeley:
Univ. of California Press, 1981), sees Bertram's motive as his subconscious fear of incest:
Helena's resemblance to the Countess overwhelms him (pp. 42-45). Kirsch agrees with
Wheeler (p. 141), but I find Wheeler's textual evidence extremely tentative, especially
since Bertram tells us twice (in the passages I have quoted in my text) that he rejects
Helena because he has not been permitted to choose her freely.

6 Kirsch, p. 108. Johnson's lines on Bertram are well-known:

I cannot reconcile my heart to Bertram; a man noble withoutgenerosity, and young
without truth; who marries Helena as a coward, and leaves her as a profligate: when she
is dead by his unkindness, sneaks home to a second marriage, is accused by a woman
he has wronged, defends himself by falsehood, and is dismissed to happiness.

Arthur Sherbo, ��d., Johnson on Shakespeare, The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel
Johnson (New Haven: Yale UP, 1%8), VII, 404.

7 Ernest Schanzer, The Problem Plays of Shakespeare (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
1963), p. 6.

8 Although every recent critic of the play tackles at least one of its several inconsistencies,
most commentators ultimately point out resolutions where, I believe, they simply do not

Renaissance et R��forme / 169

exist. For instance, both Anthony Brennan, "Helena versus Time's Winged Chariot in
All's Well That Ends Well" Midwest Quarterly, 21:4 (Summer, 1980), 391-411, and John
Edward Price, "Anti-moralistic Moralism in All's Well That Ends Well" Shakespeare
Studies, 12 (1979), 95-111, center on the play's tension between youth and age, and in
general both desist from reducing the tension to a simplistic reading. At the same time,
though, Brennan argues that Shakespeare favors the values of his older characters as
models for his wayward youths (passim), whereas Price argues the reverse, finding the
"moralism" of Lafew, the Countess, and the King rife with "useless platitude" (p. 95).
Such discrepancy runs throughout scholarly commentary on the play, including opinions
about its characters, its tone, its genre, and its moral vision. A sampling of criticism
relevant here would comprise the following: Riemer, and Anne Barton, Introd. to All's
Well That Ends Well, in The Riverside Shakespeare, G. Blakemore Evans, gen. ed. (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1974), pp. 499-503, on genre; Bradbrook, and Robert Gnxdin, Mighty
Opposites: Shakespeare and Renaissance Contrariety (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press,
1979), ch. 4, on tone; Leech, and Nicholas Brooke, "All's Well That Ends Well," in Kenneth
Muir and Stanley Wells, eds.. Aspects of Shakespeare's I*roblem Plays (Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1982), on moral vision. I shall be mentioning below many critical
opinions of the play's characters.
9 For a helpful overview of the theology of grace in the Church of England, see H. C.
Porter, Reformation and Reaction in Tudor Cambridge (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press,
1958), pp. 323-343. For elaboration, see the Georges, prt. I, ch. 1.

10 The Georges, p. 70. Wallace, pp. viii-ix. Nicholas Tyacke, "Puritans, Arminianism, and
Counter-Revolution," in Conrad Russell, ��d.. The Origins of the English Civil War (New
York: Macmillan, 1973), and An ti-Calvinists: The Rise of English Arminianism. c. 1590-1640
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1987).

1 1 E.g., Martin Luther, De servo arbitrio, in E. Gordon Rupp, trans., Luther and Erasmus: Free
Will and Salvation (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1%9), and Calvin, II.iii.1-5.

12 E.g., Erasmus, De libero arbitrio, in Rupp.

Cf. to my point, John C. Olin, ��d.. Christian Humanism and the Reformation: Desiderius
Erasmus (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1965), who observes of Erasmus and Luther
that, though they shared a humanist approach to scholarship, their "understanding of
scripture" was entirely different (p. 17). Erasmus believes that salvation entails a certain,
though small, cooperation between God and a human being. Luther rejects the notion
of any such cooperation. Indeed, Luther and Calvin posit some degree of free will, but
for both, because the will is corrupted by sin, it tends only toward wickedness — it cannot
love the good (see, e.g., Calvin II.iii.1-12). On the contrast between Erasmus and Luther,
see Rupp, Introd. See also Perry Miller and Thomas H. Johnson, The Puritans (New York:
American Book, 1938), pp. 13 ft. Porter explicitly associates those Cambridge divines who
asserted some degree of free will with "Christian humanism" (p. 281). For a more recent
discussion than Porter's of the controversies over predestination at Cambridge during
the 1590s, see Peter Lake, Moderate Puritans and the Elizabethan Church (Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1982), ch. 9.

13 According to Porter, "Disputes about election began in England in the second part of
the reign of Edward VI" (p. 338). For a catalogue of these disputes, see Peter Milward,
Religious Controversies of the Elizabethan Age: A Survey of Printed Sources (London: Scolar,
1977), ch. 7 (a).

14 See Walter Travers, "A Supplication Made to the Council," and Richard Hooker, "Mr.
Hooker's Answer . . .," in John Keble, ��d.. The Works of. . . Richard Hooker, 3 vols. (Oxford:
Clarendon, 1888), III, 548-596. For background on^ Christian Letter, see W. Speed Hill,
gen. ��d., 77»^ Works of Richard Hooker, 4 vols, to date (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 1982),

170 / Renaissance and Reformation

IV, xiii-xxviii, and for background on Hooker's Christian humanist thought, see, e.g., pp.
xxxix-xl. Michael T. Malone, "The Doctrine of Predestination in the Thought of William
Perkins and Richard Hooker," Anglican Theological Review, 52 (1970), 103-117, offers a
superb analysis of exactly how Hooker differed from the strict Calvinist doctrine of
predestination. Cf. to Hooker, John Milton, Paradise Lost, in Merritt Y. Hughes, ��d., John
Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose (New York: Odyssey, 1957), III.173-175, 183-186;
nn. to 11. 174, 183-193, and On Christian Doctrine, I.iv.

15 Alan Fager Heir, The Elizabethan Sermon (Philadelphia: n.p., 1940), pp. 56, 64-65.

16 Hill, IV,xxvii.

17 Martha Tuck Rozett, The Doctrine of Election and the Emergence of Elizabethan Tragedy
(Princeton: Princeton UP, 1984), pp. 20, 21.

Porter (pp. 285-286) and Collinson (Godly People, p. 275) both supply historical examples
to support the views that even the nuances of the predestinarian question held fascination
for the laity; that congregations worried about the implications of the doctrine to their
own lives and themselves became enmeshed in the controversy; and that such quarrels,
even if contained between only two divines, could, in Hill's words, "[threaten] the peace
of . . . the nation" (IV,xxvii).

18 The only extant early edition oî Jacob and Esau is that of 1568, but the date of composition
may be as early as the reign of Edward VI.

19 Anon., Jacob and Esau, ed. John Crow, Malone Society Reprints (Oxford: Oxford UP,
1956), 11.163-165.

20 Margo Todd, "Humanists, Puritans, and the Spiritualized Household," Church History,
49 (1980), p. 19. Joel B. Altman, 77»^ Tudor Play of Mind: Rhetorical Inquiry and the
Development of Elizabethan Drama (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1978), provides
extensive, rich cultural background to the development of exploratory Renaissance
drama, background relevant to my point here.

21 G. K Hunter observes that "Helena active" characterizes the first half of the play, and
"Helena passive," the second half (e.g., p. xxxii). I disagree. Both Helenas seem to vie
for dominance throughout the play.

22 Leech, 'The Theme of Ambition in All's Well That Ends Well." In reaction to Leech, see,
e.g., Geoffrey Bullough, ��d.. Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare, 8 vols. (New
York: Columbia UP, 1958), who sees Helena as "entirely good" and as a "ministering
angel" (11,382-383).

23 Painter, pp. 145, 148.

24 Among critics her very name conjures associations with figures as disparate as Helen of
Troy and Helena, mother of Constantine the Great and healer of the sick. For much
elaboration on Helena's name, see, e.g., R. G. Hunter, p. 114; Leech, pp. 23-25; and
Reimer, pp. 50-51.

25 Gnidin, p. 92. See also the similar but less sanguine readings of, e.g., R. G. Hunter, p.
127, and Kirsch, pp. 131-132.

26 A cross-section of criticism here would comprise Muir, who sees Bertram as finally
"converted" {Shakespeare's Sources, pp. 100-101); Dennis, who finds Bertram's last apology
"sincere" (p. 80); Bradbrook, who agrees that Bertram converts, but feels the play is deeply
flawed (e.g., p. 301); and R. G. Hunter, who believes that the point of Helena's grace is
that Bertram does not merit it through any sort of moral growth (pp. 130-131).

27 Painter, p. 151.

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus

Jerzy Limon. Dangerous Matter: English Drama and Politics in 1623/24.
Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Pp. vii, 174.

Much recent scholarship has felt a need to deck itself out in the disfiguring
weeds of "theory" as much, it might be conjectured, from a fear of appearing
too nakedly present on the job of examining the text as from elation at dressing
in the (late) critical nouveau chic. Fashions are fashions— unavoidable maybe,
beneficial possibly. But those who ponder this case may also brood over whether
too close adherence to the now rather musty teguments of "theory" is safe from
risk of infecting the scholarly body proper. Or, to put the matter differently,
when scholarship and "theory" come attached is it as body and parasite, like
salmon and lamprey? The fish swims on, but not as soundly. So Renaissance
studies continue but not always the better for the attentions of "theory," which
is apt to seem callow or contrived. This is not to say that Renaissance studies
should eschew speculation— quite the contrary.

Dr. Limon has speculated interestingly and, as his title suggests, he does so
in the ambience of political intrigue. He has a story to tell which does not
disappoint that expectation. The book is handsomely presented in a jacket
reproducing the title page of an edition of Middleton's A Game at Chaess. His
story leads eventually to this play, in order to uncover its political significance
and to elucidate a world in which dramatic events and texts from 1623-4, read
in ignorance of what Limon calls their "extratextual reality," seem almost
devoid of coherence or meaning, but which, when placed in context, are full of

It is a story rendered somewhat tedious, however, by the frequency of piously
intoned theoretical-type matter, some of it resembling semiotics, some reader-
response, most of it informed with an almost atavistic dread of texts "con-
taining" "meanings," and of authorial "intentions." This concern diverts the
author into expending some energy on production of diagrammatic models of
communication "applicable to both literature and propaganda" (pp.17- 18),
which thereafter are simply forgotten or ignored. Limon summarizes: "it may
be said that a literary text is capable of functioning as a political piece only in

172 / Renaissance and Reformation

a communicative process during a particular historical period, within a given
society and within the social and political context that a given period creates"
(p.l9). This lamentable stuff is fortunately forgotten by the author when he is
really concerned with his story, and may be dispensed with by the reader.
Nevertheless, it is a pity that it occurs, and the more so because, in order to
emphasize these and the like banalities, the author finds it necessary to produce
gross simplifications of several points of interpretation, and then label them as
the "traditional view." It is to be observed that other flaccid expressions
("on-going cold war," "time frame," and the like) are to be found elsewhere in
the text, and one fears that Dr. Limon, who acknowledges help given to polish
his English, may not have been well-served. In any event, CUP editorial work
should have caught these and other infelicities, along with many other errors
that have passed the proof-reading.

Is Dr. Limon's work marred a little by theoretist trappings, and the like, or
worse? What follows from this stage of the book is the first of the four parts
that comprise the body of the book proper. It concerns the masque Neptune's
Triumph, text by Ben Jonson, interpreted as a commentary on Prince Charles'
return from Madrid in 1623 and inspired by the anti-Spanish faction wishing
to criticize obliquely and acceptably James I's policies. What Limon especially
wants us to see is the significance of James as audience and, in some sense, as
subject of the masque. Limon provides an account of the political circum-
stances—the "extra-textual reality"— through which alone the masque's "mean-
ing" can be grasped. While he is ever so wary about attributing "meaning" to
a text, he is curiously untroubled by, even credulous of received political history.

Here, and in the other three sections— which deal respectively with, Thomas
Drue's L//^ of the Duchess of Suffolk as a commentary on the Princess Elizabeth's
and the Elector Frederick's loss of both the Rhine Palatinate and Bohemia,
with Massenger's The Bondman as propaganda for Buckingham's war party,
and, finally, with Middleton's A Game at Chesse—himon is sedulous to impose
a screen of theoretical quibbles about the relationships of reader, audience and
text in order, it seems, to pursue a pure form of critical enquiry. He warns
against reading "into the text," and other shadowy interpretive solecisms. We
are in the presence, he warns, of "a highly controversial issue in criticism" (p.
65). But this fails to emerge, despite repetition. The question seems rather to be
by what species of indirection these several dramatic texts make their point.
Indeed, in places Dr. Limon's dread of reading into the text seems to encourage
him to "read into" the audience political attitudes that are asserted with little
critical examination.

Since so much of Dr. Limon's interpretive method depends upon the politics
of 1623-24, it is a little disconcerting to note that there is no attempt to
distinguish between the attitudes of the historians he relies upon for his account
of events. In short, what is missing is any sense that the history is itself an
argument, an interpretation, a "controversial issue."

Renaissance et R��forme / 173

Although anyone might justifiably use the phrase "basic historical facts" at
a certain level of exposition. Dr. Limon's account frequently remains at that
pitch. It is curious that one of his favourite phrases, "in fact" (so frequent that
I ceased to count instances), which may be no more than a quirk of expression,
achieves the unwelcome effect of alerting the reader to the presence of
unsupported assertions and matters of opinion. These objections made, it must
be acknowledges that the author is also capable of telling his story well, as in
the lucid account of the Bohemian affair, and in such a way as to illuminate
the text he discusses. One could wish for more of it.

Where the interplay of historical reconstruction, dramatic text, and tradi-
tional Quellenforschung work, the project is vindicated. This is largely the case
in the fourth part, "The Matter of Spain," which deals with A Game at
Chesse—ih.Q finale of Limon's argument. This play is the most interesting and
complex of the extant propaganda in behalf of Buckingham's policies, for
reasons which Limon amply explains. Here his taking issue with other scholarly
critics is at its most effective, and here he finds real grist for his mill in the
divergent views concerning a poem prefacing one of the early editions of the
play— a poem that seems to describe "moves" impossible in the actual game of
chess. One critic pronounces that "whoever wrote the poem knew nothing of
chess" (p. 103). Limon detects here and in the play itself not a Middleton who
is simply ignorant of chess, but rather a knowing propagandist who violates
"rules" to create an auxiliary level of meaning, one perceptible to those who
are clued-in to the political contest between James and Buckingham concerning
Spain. Here "autonomous text" and "extra-textual reality" are played to some
effect. What Limon goes on to show is that the whole exercise in propaganda
contributed to a disaster because it coalesced what were essentially disparate
views among Protestant Englishmen concerning England's role in a Providen-
tial scheme of history and immediate political strategies. How much this drama
brought about political results that would not have otherwise happened is, of
course, another question. Limon is able to show the predicament of the censor.
Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels, who on James' orders moved to
suppress it, and from this we may infer that whatever influence the play may
or may not have been able to wield, the authorities certainly feared it could. If
they had possessed theoretical models of interactional communication, could
they have solved the problem any better?

GRAHAM ROEBUCK, McMaster University

174 / Renaissance and Reformation

William Beik. Absolutism and Society in Seventeenth Century France: State
Power and Provincial Aristocracy in Languedoc. Cambridge Studies in Early
Modem History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Pp. xix, 375.

This is a most interesting book, on a topic highly important to seventeenth-cen-
tury French historians, and, indeed, to anyone interested in the history of
Absolutism. It is particulariy significant because it represents a brave and on
the whole successful attempt to get beyond the simplistic idea that most of us
retain despite ourselves that the success of French Absolutism was largely the
result of the application of the indomitable will of a very small number of
clear-headed persons — Louis XIV and Colbert in particular. In 1661, Louis XIV
is supposed to have decided that the hegemony of ministers and oligarchies
(par excellence the Parlements) should end, the personal rule of Absolute Roi
Soleil begin. But this can be at best only part of the truth. How, for example,
did the frondeur magnates — typified by the prince de Cond��, and institutions,
typified by the Parlements, particularly those of Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Bor-
deaux, and Toulouse, and by provincial Estates, of Burgundy, Brittany, and, of
course, Languedoc— transform themselves, or find themselves transformed into
the pliant instruments of their erstwhile enemy, the modern royal absolutist

The answer to this question is complex. In part it was indeed the royal will;
in part, too, indubitably, the effect of Colbert— to read his correspondence is
to be astounded by the energy, competence, thoroughness, savage brilliance
and many other qualities of that prodigious if hardly likeable person. But, as
Professor Beik points out. King and minister could not have had the effect they
had without the active compliance of the ruling social and political ��lite. What
people composed this ��lite, and how they acted, are now being revealed by
study of particular groups (see R.R. Harding, The Anatomy of a Power Elite (1978))
and provinces, in this case Languedoc, which stretched from the Garonne and
Toulouse in the west to the Rhône and Viviers, Beaucaire and Aigues-Mortes
in the east; from Auvergne and Le Puy in the north to the foothills of the
Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea, Narbonne, Agde and Montpellier in the

Professor Beik tells us he has worked for a long time on this book. It is clear
that his labours have been profitable. From all sorts of archives— national,
departmental, municipal — he has mined a great richness of material, the focus
of which is the complex interplay of central with provincial power, specifically
the role of the royal Intendant (Claude Bazin de Bezons, 1653-73; Henri
d'Aguesseau, 1673-85; Nicolas Lamoignon de Basville, 1685-1719) vis-��-vis the
Parlement of Toulouse, the Cour des Comptes in Montpellier, the provincial
Estates and the episcopate, together with the relationship of national and
provincial authorities with lower jurisdictions— local Estates (e.g., those of
G��vaudan), s��n��chaus��es (local royal law courts) and so forth, with the govern-

Renaissance et R��forme / 175

ment of towns. It is quite clear that the provincial and local institutions in a
convoluted, often halting and uncertain, way came to cooperate with Versailles.
It was not the royal coup de main of legend, but a process of mutual
accommodation in which, to be sure, the province as a whole conceded more
than the Crown did, but far less than legend has it; and not from fear but for
solid reasons of the multiform elite's institutional and social advantage. Crown
and provincial ��lite needed each other, each to maintain the other's dominance.
What emerges is a far more credible version of Absolutism, based on what
really happened rather than on what Louis XIV wanted people to believe.

I have but one criticism. The first chapter, on "Absolutism and Class," lays
out a series of fundamental questions about governmental power and local
��lites. The rest of the book is much more expository of detail, and does not test
the hard-thought-out theoretical structure of the first chapter with brute fact
anything like as closely as one would have hoped. Where there is analysis it
tends to be impressionist; sometimes it is even naïve, as where Professor Beik
trusts seventeenth-century official figures on taxation (e.g., pp. 258-9), which
are, as any serious student of French public finance knows, an elegant filigree
of obfuscation designed by officials largely to delude accounting agencies. The
book would have benefited from a reinforcing structure of careful analysis of
social groups, town by town and institution by institution. Of course the
numbers and complexity involved in such an operation would have made the
book much more difficult to write. Yet the brilliant first chapter leads one to
expect that a more high-powered approach would be followed in the rest of the

Nevertheless, en fin de compte^ Professor Beik has written an original and
important book.

JULIAN DENT, University of Toronto

Marie-Madeleine de la Garanderie, (r��dactrice). Mercure �� la Renaissance.
Lille : Soci��t�� française des seizi��mistes, 1988.

Cet ouvrage, pr��par�� par la Soci��t�� française des seizi��mistes, pr��sente, pour la
premi��re fois sous une m��me couverture, les activit��s de la Soci��t�� qui ont eu
lieu les 4 et 5 octobre 1984 lors de son Colloque sur le mythe Mercure/Herm��s.
Le livre, en ce qui a trait �� sa longueur, peut ��tre divis�� en trois parties in��gales.
La premi��re partie pr��sente trois ��tudes pr��liminaires commissionn��es par la
Soci��t�� afin de d��terminer si une ��tude de ce mythe particulier en valait l'effort.
La deuxi��me— et la plus importante section du livre— r��imprime neuf ��crits
pr��sent��s sur les divers aspects du mythe. La troisi��me partie pr��sente un
sommaire des discussions soulev��es par ces ��crits.

Chacune des ��tudes pr��liminaires traite tr��s bri��vement, mais avec force d'un
aspect g��n��ral des r��cits de Mercure/Herm��s. Guy Demerson fait le point des

176 / Renaissance and Reformation

donn��es mythographiques; Jean-François Maillard d��crit le flux et le reflux de
l'herm��tisme entre le XV^ et le XVII^ si��cle; M.-M. de la Garanderie—
l'excellente r��dactrice de cet ouvrage— montre comment le nom de Mercure
fonctionne dans le discours humaniste.

La deuxi��me partie de Mercure �� la Renaissance d��bute avec une discussion
plutôt technique par Gilbert Durand. En r��alit��, son ��crit est une explication
��tendue d'une section de son texte d��finitif de 1979 Figures mythiques et visages
de l'oeuvre. Le titre complet de cet article, "A propos de Mercure : R��flexions
m��thodologiques sur la mythanalyse," sous-entend la port��e limit��e mais
importante de sa contribution. En effet, il en vient aux prises avec un probl��me
central : "ce qui se conserve ou au contraire change dans la r��p��tition historique
d'un r��cit "mythique" (p. 19). A l'int��rieur de son sujet, l'auteur utilise comme
tremplin l'��temelle querelle entre ces hommes d'��tude qui approchent un mythe
comme un arch��type et ceux qui voient le mythe comme fournissant une base
de d��veloppement philosophique.

C��sare Vasoli, d'une part, prend une approche tr��s diff��rente dans son
"Mercure dans la tradition ficinienne," limitant sa discussion au mythe
Mercure/Herm��s comme il apparaît dans les ��crits de Ficin. Sa traduction latine
de l'ancien Hermetica et ses ��crits subs��quents (comme r��pandu par ses disciples
pendant le XVI*^ si��cle) ont rendu le mythe bien connu et m��me tr��s populaire.
Cependant, comme le note Vasoli, le succ��s de Ficin peut tr��s bien provenir de
son habilit�� "d'exclure de sa 'reprise' des doctrines herm��tiques les aspects les
plus inqui��tants et les plus dangereux et de les pr��senter sous la forme la plus
acceptable pour l'orthodoxie th��ologique en ��vitant les textes les plus compro-
mettants" (p. 35).

Dans "Diversit�� des fonctions de Mercure : l'exemple de Pontanus," Ludwig
Schrader traite de deux descriptions de Mercure qui apparaissent dans Urania
de Pontanus (1426-1503). Apr��s avoir discut�� de l'identification de Mercure
avec la figure du Christ (sermo) pendant la Renaissance, Schrader passe �� une
analyse plus d��taill��e d'Urania. Il en vient �� la conclusion que Mercure se
transforme d'un simple messager au patron des Humanistes en passant par les
divers rôles qui font de Mercure/Herm��s le plus riche des mythes paiens : h��raut
des dieux, guide des morts, voleur, gardien des bateaux pendant la nuit, savant
scientifique, l��gislateur pour la paix.

Dans "L'Embl��misation de Mercure �� la Renaissance," Claudie Belavoine
d��montre avec conviction que l'embl��misation va beaucoup plus loin que la
repr��sentation figurative en image et en statue. L'embl��misation va jusqu'�� une
repr��sentation textuelle en mots factuels et symboliques. Les exemples de
Belavoine d��montrent le mythe �� l'oeuvre pendant l'��re chr��tienne, surtout au
d��but du XVI*^ si��cle o�� il apparaît dans des ouvrages aussi disparates que
Boccace, Gyraldi, Conti, et Cartari. De plus, Belavoine d��montre comment les
auteurs du XVI^ si��cle commencent "par op��rer une synth��se forte et parfois
troublante entre le Mercure Orateur et le Mercure Marchand ou Voleur." (p. 63).
Son ��crit, lui aussi, d��crit comment Mercure le Marchand est pouss�� �� devenir

Renaissance et R��forme / 177

la marque d'imprimeurs qui t��moignent d'une r��conciliation symbolique �� la
Renaissance entre le savoir et le gain.

Martine Vasselin reprend un aspect de ce mythe dans son "Mercure
bellifontain et les traditions figuratives de Mercure �� la Renaissance." Elle limite
son analyse aux artistes actifs en France au XVI^ si��cle ainsi qu'�� leurs mod��les
et �� leurs sources provenant de l'Italie pendant le XV^ si��cle et au d��but du
XVI*^ si��cle. En fait, elle trace clairement l'origine italienne des fondateurs de
l'��cole de Fontainebleau. Sa conclusion, n��anmoins, est justifi��e : "H��raut,
ambassadeur, amant rus��, patron de ces alchimistes qui veulent ruser avec la
mati��re, il est trop polyvalent et inqui��tant dans l'art bellifontain pour ��tre le
patron attitr�� des lettres" (p. 83).

Les deux prochains articles traitent de sujets encore plus restreints. Claude-
Gilbert Dubois, dans "La Parole est pennig��re," pr��sente une interpr��tation du
rôle de Mercure dans la fable d'Io, telle que trouv��e dans un texte de Geoffroy
Tory. Son analyse trace le rôle d'Herm��s comme dieu espi��gle sp��cialis�� dans
les farces, esp��ce de "fou" du roi. De son côt��, Wolfgang Boerner contribue une
discussion plus g��n��rale de mythes dans "La Mythologie antique dans l'oeuvre
de Bonaventure des P��riers." Son article est en grande part ax�� sur le Cymbalum
Mundi et, m��me dans les limites de ce domaine circonscrit, ne donne que les
trois ou quatre derni��res pages �� l'examen du mythe de Mercure/Herm��s. Les
quatre aspects que Boerner examine bri��vement sont Mercure comme messager
des dieux, dieu exploit��, psychopompe, et dieu voleur.

Les deux articles suivants traitent �� leur tour de caract��ristiques particuli��res
aux dieux. Jean-François Maillard examine le rôle occulte de Mercure dans
"Mercure alchimiste dans la tradition mytho-herm��tique." Ce faisant, lui aussi
��tablit �� nouveau le lien philosophique et religieux qui attribue �� Merc-
ure/Herm��s le rôle d'un dieu qui a pour but de ramener l'ordre et l'accord dans
le monde. Dans "Mercure et les astronomes," Isabelle Pantin d��montre par des
mots et par d'excellents diagrammes les changements de fortune de Mercure
qui sont survenus par suite de l'univers h��liocentrique de Copernicus. La
question des "plan��tes inf��rieures" (Mercure et V��nus) a troubl�� plusieurs
esprits pendant la Renaissance. Ces deux plan��tes ne tournaient plus autour
de la Terre; c'est la Terre qui tournait autour d'elles. En brisant l'univers de
Ptol��m��e par sa nouvelle allusion aux positions relatives de Mars, Jupiter et de
Saturne d'une part (desquelles les orbites demeurent toujours les m��mes), et,
d'une autre part, de Mercure et de V��nus, Copernicus a provoqu�� un choc
��pouvantable chez la pens��e des gens ordinaires.

En dernier lieu, "Un Mercure baroque?" par Daniel M��nager examine le rôle
de Mercure comme distributeur de justice. L'auteur analyse adroitement le
Mercure de justice de Louis Dorl��ans, un ouvrage ��crit et prononc�� le
23 d��cembre 1592 �� l'ouverture du Parlement. Dans cet ouvrage ��loquent,
l'auteur emprunte toutes les ruses qu'utilisent les avocats lorsqu'ils plaident en
cour. Il exalte le concept et le rôle de la justice dans le gouvernement comme
il convient �� quelqu'un qui est un ennemi av��r�� des politiciens. Dorl��ans parle

178 / Renaissance and Reformation

du rôle que divers genres d'avocats peuvent jouer dans le syst��me judiciaire en
utilisant Mercure comme son mod��le de dieu de la justice. Pour ce faire,
Dorl��ans attribue �� Mercure un temp��rament agressif capable de d��fendre la

Mercure �� la Renaissance, �� travers la diversit�� et le savoir de ses articles,
apporte une contribution consid��rable �� notre connaissance du mythe de
Mercure/Herm��s. La Renaissance a restitu�� la popularit�� des anciens dieux
païens, mais �� Mercure/Herm��s, elle a tr��s ��videmment donn�� une place

STANLEY G. MULLINS, Universit�� Laurentienne

News / Nouvelles

Un colloque international

L'Universit�� d'Angers (Centres de Recherches sur: l'Anjou et les Bocages de
l'Ouest, sur le Moyen Age et la Renaissance, sur le T��moignage) organisera
les 22-23 mai 1992, un colloque international de litt��rature française et
compar��e sur le th��me: "Voix d'Europe en Ouest souffles d'ouest vers
L'Europe." Ce colloque se propose d'��tudier la configuration litt��raire de
l'Ouest de la France et l'existence d'un espace spirituel de l'Ouest �� l'��coute,
imm��diate ou diff��r��e, de voix venues d'Europe ou �� l'origine d'espaces
anologues en Europe. Toutes propositions de communications seront
envoy��es, avec un bref r��sum��, avant le 30 septembre 1991, au: Comit��
d'organisation du colloque "L'Europe a l'Ouest," Secr��taire des Centres de
Recherches, Facult�� des Lettres, Langues et Sciences Humaines, 11, Nd
Lavoisier-49045-ANGERS CEDEX 01.


Confratemitas is the biannual newsletter of the Society for Confraternity
Studies. Scholars interested in receiving the newsletter should write to the
editor. Prof. W.R. Bowen, (address below), and include a cheque for $6
(payable to the Society) to cover 1991 membership.

Confratemitas, le bulletin bi-annuel de la Soci��t�� d'Etudes sur le Confr��ries,
vient d'apparaître. Les chercheurs que s'int��ressent aux confr��ries sont pri��s
d'envoyer seur commande avec un ch��que de $6 (abonnement de 1991)
libell�� a l'ordre de la Soci��t�� au professeur W.R. Bowen, CRRS, Victoria
College, Univ. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada M5S 17K7.

Elizabethan Theatre Conference

The 14th International Conference on Elizabethan Theatre will be held at
the University of Waterloo, July 22-26, 1991. One special topic of many will
be "Women and the Elizabethan Theatre." For more information, please

180 / Renaissance and Reformation

write Lynn Magnusson or Ted McGee, Department of English, Univ. of
Waterioo, Waterioo, Ontario N2L 3G1.

Two Newberry Conferences

The 1991 Renaissance Conference, "Women and Gender in the Middle Ages
and the Renaissance: A Workshop on Pedagogy and Research," will take
place at the Newberry Library on May 3-4. Four interdisciplinary panels
will focus on disseminating the results of new research on women and gender
and on defining future directions for the field.

Three universities have shared in organizing a conference at the Library
on "Music and Narrative in Medieval Romance: The Poetics of Lyric
Insertions," October 4-5, 1991. Performances by the Newberry Consort and
the Folger Consort will help focus discussion on the aesthetic of the lyric
insertion and on the role of music in narrative design.

For more information on either conference, contact The Center for
Renaissance Studies, The Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St, Chicago, IL

Conference on Renaissance Sexuality

An interdisciplinary conference on "Sex and Sexuality in the Late Middle
Ages and the Renaissance" will be held at the Univ. of Toronto, 22-23
November 1991. Featured will be papers on sexual transgressions, sexual
orientation, sexual dysfunction, adultery, as well as medical, religious and
legal ideas about sexuality. For more information, contact Jacqueline
Murray, Dept. of History, Univ. of Windsor, Windsor Canada N9B 3P4.

CRRS Senior Fellowships

The Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies at Victoria College of
the University of Toronto offers each year a limited number of non-stipen-
diary, post-doctoral Senior Fellowships. The Fellowships are intended
primarily for scholars from outside the Toronto area who are interested in
using the Centre's collection for research, and who would be interested in
sharing their knowledge informally with the Centre's community. Members
are provided with work space in the Centre and also have access to the Univ.
of Toronto's library resources. Applications should be sent by June 15 to
CRRS, Victoria College, Toronto, Canada M5S 1K7.

Renaissance et R��forme / 181

New Vîco Studies

The seventh issue oiNew Vico Studies, the annual publication of the Institute
for Vico Studies, has recently appeared. Edited by Georgio Tagliacozzo and
Donald Phillip Verene, the journal publishes articles, reviews, abstracts and
notes reflecting the current state of study of the thought of Giambattista Vico
(1668-1744), as well as those on its contemporary implications and influence.
Subscriptions orders may be placed with Humanities Press International
Inc., Atlantic Highlands, NJ 07716 or by calling toll free 1-800-221-3845.

R&R Goes to the Third World

The editoral team of the journal has sent 21 sets of R<^R to CODE (the
Canadian Organization for Development through Education), who will
make them available to interested libraries in the Third World.

,ilQ^ �� i^liUiUi «��






New Series, Vol. XIV, No. 3 Nouvelle S��rie, Vol. XIV, No. 3

Old Series, Vol. XXVI, No. 3 Ancienne S��rie, Vol. XXVI, No. 3

Summer 1990 ��t��

Renaissanœ and Reformation /Rena��saïue et R��formeis published quarterly (February, May,
August, and November); paraît quatre fois l'an (f��vrier, mai, août, et novembre).

© Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies / Soci��t�� Canadienne d'Études de la
Renaissance (CSRS / SCER)

North Central Conference of the Renaissance Society of America (NCC)

Pacific Northwest Renaissance Conference (PNWRC)

Toronto Renaissance and Reformation Colloquium (TRRC)

Victoria University Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS), 1990.

Directeur / Editor
François Par��

Directrice Adjointe

Simone Maser (Universit�� d'Ottawa)

Associate Editor

Glenn Loney (University of Toronto)

Book Review Editor

Daniel W. Doerksen (University of New Brunswick)

Responsable de la rubrique des livres

Pierre-Louis Vaillancourt (Universit�� d'Ottawa)

Business Manager / Gestion et abonnements
Konrad Eisenbichler

Editorial Board / Conseil de r��daction

Rosemarie Bergmann (McGill) A. Kent Hieatt (Western Ontario)

Andr�� Berthiaume (Laval) R. Gerald Hobbs (Vancouver School of Theology)

Peter G. Bietenholz (Saskatchewan) F.D. Hoeniger (Toronto)

Paul Chavy (Dalhousie) Elaine Limbrick (Victoria)

Jean Delumeau (Coll��ge de France) Leah Marcus (Texas)

S.K- Heninger (North Carolina) Robert Omstein (Case Western Reserve)

Judith S. Herz (Concordia) Claude Sutto (Montr��al)

Charles Trinkaus (Michigan)

Subscription price is $20.00 peryear for individuals; $1 3.00 for students, retired persons;

$33.00 tor institutions.

Abonnements d'un an: 20$ individuel; 13$ ��tudiants et personnes �� la retraite; 33$


Manuscripts should be addressed to the Editor; subscriptions and notices of change of
address to the Business Office /

Les manuscrits doivent ��tre envoy��s au directeur de la revue; les abonnements et avis
de changement d'adresse au bureau de gestion.

R��daction / Editorial Office Business Office / Gestion

Renaissance et R��forme / Renaissance and Reformation

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme

Department of French Studies Victoria College

University of Guelph University of Toronto

Guelph, Ontario NIG 2W1 Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7

Canada Canada

Tel.:(519) 824-4120, ext. 3884 Tel.: (416) 585-4486

Publication of Renaissance and Reformation is made possible by a grant from the Social
Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Le Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada a accord�� une subvention
pour la pubhcation de Renaissance et R��forme.

Summer / Ét�� 1990 (date of issue: October 1991)

Second class mail registration number 5448 ISSN 0034-429X

Renaissance Renaissance

and et

Reformation R��forme

New Series, Vol. XIV, No. 3 Nouvelle S��rie, Vol. XIV, No. 3

Old Series, Vol. XXVI, No. 3 1990 Ancienne S��rie, Vol. XXVI, No. 3




Of Horse Fish and Frozen Words

by Kim Campbell


Women in the Brotherhood: Gender, Class and Politics in

Renaissance Bolognese Confraternities

by Nicholas Terpstra


Marsile Ficin et Herm��s Trism��giste

par liana Klutstein


"Sparkes of Holy Things":

Neostoicism and the English Protestant Conscience

by Geoffrey Aggeler



Giovanni Delia Casa. Galateo.

Translated by K. Eisenbichler and K. Bartlett

reviewed by Douglas Radcliff-Umstead


Figliola Fragnito. Saggi sul Rinascimento perduto

reviewed by Dennis J. McAuliffe


Th��odore de B��ze. Cours sur les Épitres aux Romains et aux H��breux

recens�� par Guy Bedouelle


Peter Donaldson. Machiavelli and Mystery of State

reviewed by Salvatore Di Maria


Dix conf��rences sur Érasme, sous la direction de Jean-Claude Margolin

recens�� par Benoît Beaulieu


Carole Levin. Propaganda and the English Reformation

reviewed by G. L. Owens


Bernard Rivet. Une ville au XV f si��cle. Le Puy-en-Velay

reviewed by B. Chevalier


David Lee Miller. The Poem 's Two Bodies. The Poetics of

the 1590 Faerie Queene

reviewed by Joanne Craig


Albert N. Mancini. / "Capitoli" letterari de Francesco Bolognetti

reviewed by Paul Colilli

Of Horse Fish And Frozen Words



n recent decades, the functioning of language both as an independent
structure and as the structuring vehicle for other systems, as for example
literature, has riveted critical attention, to such an extent that we tend to
forget at times that the question of how language signifies did not originate
with Saussure, although his formulation remains one of the most articulate
in this century. It is nonetheless evident — and even a clich�� — that in every
era there are those who wrestle with the relationship of signifier to signified,
feeling perhaps that some essential key to the working of the human spirit
must be contained in the symbolic system structuring not only articulation
but thought itself.

François Rabelais is one of those who wrestle. The problem of language
weaves its way in and out of his works as Rabelais recombines and juxtaposes
words and even syllables, pushing language to the limits of expression, of
meaning, of signification. While on one hand therefore, Rabelais' personal
bout with language places him squarely within the current of linguistic inquiry
as old as human thought, it is at the same time intensely reflective of specific
Renaissance preoccupations, as in the latter part of the fifteenth and during
the sixteenth century, Europe underwent what might in modern day usage be
termed an "identity crisis," or re-evaluation of the sense of self and non-self,
of the real and the imaginary, of meaning and its representation. This re-eval-
uation was greatly influenced by the acquisition of new topographical knowl-
edge, to wit, the "discovery," from the European point of view, of the
Americas and the ocean routes to the Orient. Certainly, the profound socio-
cultural changes of the Renaissance were not generated solely by geograph-
ical discoveries. Nevertheless, these discoveries were of prime importance in
the development of new thought patterns and their articulation. The attempts,
in travel journals, to describe and name the unknown, to integrate and
reconcile it with prior phenomenological systems, revealed the fragility of the
bond between signifier and signified: The application, by the travel journalist,
of existing linguistic systems to unknown objects, concepts or rituals often

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 3 (1990) 183

184 / Renaissance and Reformation

tended to block rather than facilitate the communication of information as the
relationship of signifier to signified was displaced by the use of existing
signifiers in new representational contexts.

The ambiguity of this topographical discourse was not lost on Rabelais: His
Quart Livre^ explores, among other subjects, the question of the linguistic
disruption inherent in Renaissance topographical journals in general, and, as
Abel Lefranc has noted^, most probably in the travel journals of Jacques
Cartier^ in particular. Indeed, Lefranc' s research reveals that in all probability
Rabelais met and talked with Cartier, and perhaps even visited the area around
Saint-Malo, the point of departure for Cartier' s voyages. "Jamet Brayer," the
navigator of Pantagruel's ship, is commonly held to be Cartier."^ Rabelais
reacts, then, to the linguistic disruption he perceives in Cartier' s discourse;
our first question therefore concerns the parameters of this disruption as
expressed in Jacques Cartier' s travel journals.

Cartier' s travel journals represent a functional topographical discourse; that
is, they are designed to provide necessary information both to subsequent
explorers and to those who would commercially exploit the newly discovered
territories. As a result, Cartier' s topographical discourse devoted considerable
space to navigational records: water depth, contours of landmarks, distances
and hazards. For example, he comments on the approach to Grand-Kirpon

Y a deux entrees l'une vers I'eist et I'aultre vers le su de Fisle mais il se
fault donner garde de la bande et pointe de l'eist car se sont bastures et
pays somme et fault renger Fisle de l'ouaist �� la longueur de demy cable
ou plus pr��s qu'il veult et puis s'en aller surs le su, vers le [Karpont], Et
aussi se fault donner garde de trois basses qui sont soubz l'eau au chenal
devers l'isle de l'est. Il y a de fontz par le chenal troys ou quatre brasses
et beau fons. L'autre entree gist est nordest et su vers l'ouaist �� saultez ��

Such precise records of previous voyages were necessary to the efficient
and successful completion of subsequent voyages, given the practical limita-
tions of the science of navigation during the Renaissance: Although latitude
could be established, longitude could not be fixed with any degree of accuracy
before the development of a marine chronometer, in the eighteenth century.
Moreover, in northern latitudes, approaching magnetic north, the compass is
subject to extreme variation, a natural phenomenon which immeasurably
increased the difficulty of accurately determining location.^ In short, the
necessity of navigating using the records of prior voyages engendered a

Renaissance et R��forme / 185

pragmatic, functional discourse motivated first by the desire to survive and
second by the wish to profit, in a commercial sense, from the voyage.

This functional topographical discourse is based upon and accords primary
importance to the function of the observer, the concept of truth-of-sight. The
eyewitness provides an acceptable transmission of information; his account
of what he saw is deemed to communicate with adequate accuracy the verity
of the situation witnessed. The eyewitness is the authority. As François Hartog
notes, "11 s'agit en effet de l'oeil comme marque d'��nonciation; d'un 'j'ai vu'
comme intervention du narrateur dans son r��cit, pour faire preuve."^ Thus,
the verb "to see" confers credibility and hence reality upon the object seen.
Paradoxically, though, through the effort to assimilate the object seen into
existing epistemic and lexical systems, by virtue of giving it a name, or readily
decodible signifier, the seer may impart a quality of unreality, of fantasy, to
the object seen and described in terms of the existing lexicon and attendant
linguistic framework. For example, Cartier describes a walrus seen during his
second voyage: "II y a dedans ladicte ripviere plusieurs poissons qui ont forme
de chevaulx lesquelz vont �� la terre de nuyct et de jours �� la mer ainsi qu'il
nous fut diet par nos deulx hommes et de sesdits poissons vismes grand
nombre dedans ladite ripviere."^ The reader accepts the truth of the sighting;
it is an eyewitnessing account. Yet Cartier' s very efforts to describe the
unknown in terms of the known — a fish in the form of a horse^ — serve to
distance the reader from the object seen. As Cartier interposes his discourse
between the object seen and his reader, between the sign he invents and the
object he interprets, he creates a discursive space which represents neither the
real nor the unreal, but rather the point at which the two converge and become
indistinguishable . ^ ^

The creation of an ambiguous discursive space, in which the communica-
tive function of language is, to say the least, displaced, goes a long way toward
explaining the persistance of Western European legends concerning little
known lands. Jacques Cartier, for instance, speaks in his journals of the
"golden lands" of North America. This legend is based on "hearsay," that is,
what the explorer has been told rather than what he has seen; but just as his
readers are willing to accept the explorer's eyewitness account, so he is
willing to accept in good faith the eyewitness account of others. The narrator
(in this case, Cartier) validates what he has heard by his own acceptance of
it: Already established in the position of authority as the eyewitness, the
narrator can extend his personal authority to what he has heard rather than
seen. As Hartog explains it:

186 / Renaissance and Reformation

Le j'ai entendu prend le relais eu j'ai vu, quand ce dernier n'est pas possi-
ble ou n'est plus possible. En vertu du principe que l'oreille y aille quand
l'oeil, n'y peut aller, le 7 'a/ entendu peut valoir autant que Xtj'ai vu, non
pas en valeur absolue, mais relativement, c'est-��-dire, relativement �� moi.
En effet, vous n'avez pas lieu de me croire moins quand je dis j'ai en-
tendu que lorsque je dis j 'ai vu. ^ ^

For example, Cartier quotes an Indian chief who says that in the land of the
"Saguenay," "il y a infiny or rubiz et aultres richesses et y sont les hommes
blancs comme en France et acoustrez de draps de laine. Plus diet avoir veu
auhre pays o�� les gens ne mangent poinct et n'ont poinct de fondement et ne
dig��rent poinct ains font seullement eaue par le verge."^^ Thus, the observa-
tions of the Indian chief, reported to Cartier, constitute, as does Cartier' s own
eyewitness account, an acceptable source of information, and indeed, in a
discursive space where language cannot function as the arbiter of the real and
the fantastic, the idea of a land where men never eat nor digest is no more
inconceivable than a fish in the form of a horse.

We see then that Cartier, through his very attempts to communicate his
discoveries, looses the signifier from its moorings and sets it adrift in a
veritable sea of referential possibilities. Rabelais, in his Quart Livre, explores
these possibilities, using this topographical text as a pretext, adding an
allegorical dimension, muhiplying the levels of meaning within the discursive
space created (albeit unwittingly) by the journalist. In the opening paragraphs
of the Quart Livre, Rabelais evokes this topographical pretext employing the
discursive patterns of the travel journals as di forme fixe in order to locate his
own writing with respect to that of the topographer:

On moys de juin au jour des festes Vestales, celluy propre on quel Brutus
conquesta Hespaigne et subjugua les Hespaignolz; on quel aussi Crassus
l'avaricieux feut vaincu et deffaict par des Parthes, Pantagruel, prenant
cong�� du bon Gargantua son p��re, icelluy bien priant (comme en l'Elise
primitive estoit louable coustume entre les saincts Christians) pour le pro-
sp��re naviguaige de son filz et toute sa compaigne, monta sus mer au port
de Thalasse, accompaign�� de Panurge, fr��re Jan des Entomeures,
Epistemon, Gymnaste, Eusthennes, Phizotome, Carpalim et aultres siens
servituers et domestiques anciens; ensemble de Xenomanes le grand voya-
geur et traverseur des voyes p��rilleuses lequel, certains jours paravant, es-
toit arriv�� au mandement de Panurge. ^^

The formai evocation of the topographer's discourse becomes evident if
the above is compared with Cartier' s record of his own departure:


Renaissance et R��forme / 187

Apr��s que missire Charles de Mouy chevallier seigneur de la Milleraye et
visamiral de France eut prins les sermens et faict jurez les cappitaine
maistres et conpaignons desditz navires de bien et loyaulment soy porter
au service du Roy soubz la charge dudit Cartier partimes du havre et port
de Sainct Malo avecques lesdits deux navires du port e 'environ soixante
tonneaulz chaincun les deux de soixante ung homme le vigntiesme jour
d'apvril oudit an mil cinq cens trante quatre.'"*

Cartier notes the data and place of departure, type of equipment and
personnel abord, leader of the expedition, as well as the commendation
proferred at the moment of departure. Rabelais follows the same format,
including a rather lenghty description of the equipment (in subsequent para-

Examples of intertextuality of this kind are numerous in the Quart Livre,
but to return to the more specific question of the linguistic disruption often
occasioned by the topographer's descriptions of his experiences, we find
Rabelais' thoughts on the subject most clearly and poetically expressed in the
chapters concerning the "paroiles gel��es," an episode detailing the encounter
between Pantagruel' s ship and the word-icebergs. Now Rabelais' Renais-
sance source of inspiration, Jacques Cartier, describes various encounters
with icebergs during the course of his voyages in the North Atlantic. For
example Cartier notes the approach to one island blocked by ice: "Et Le XXIe
jour dudit moys de may partismes dudit hable avecques ung vent de ouaist et
fumes portez au nort ung quart de nordeist de Cap de Bonne Viste jucques ��
risle des Ouaiseaulx laquelle isle estoit toute avironnee et circuitte d'un
bancq de glasses rompues et d��parties par pieces."^^ Indeed, navigation is
rendered impossible at times by an excess of ice: "Et pour la grant nombre de
glasses qui estoint le long d'icelle terre nous convint entrer en ung havre
nonm�� Saincte Katherine."^^ Rabelais situates his own narrative within the
context provided by Cartier's discourse, yet breaks free of this framework by
ahering the message. The blocks of ice are, in fact, the frozen remains of the
sound of last winter's battle:

Icy est le confin de la mer glaciale, sus laquelle feut, au commencement
de l'hyver dernier pass��, grosse et f��lonne bataille entre les Arismapiens
et les Nephelibates. Lors gel��rent en l'air les parolles et crys des homes et
femmes, les chaplis des masses, les hurtys des harnois, des bardes, les
hannissemens des chevaulx et tout aultre effroy de combat.'^

The myth of the frozen words does not, of course, originate with Rabelais.
Plutarch, in the Moralia^^, sketches the outline of such a myth; the idea is

188 / Renaissance and Reformation

reworked by Balthazar Castiglione as well as by the Renaissance humanist
Caelis Calcagninus, although, in Jean Plattard' s opinion, Rabelais' immediate
source was the Moralia^^. In any case Rabelais, sensitive to the ambiguities
of the existing discursive system, makes use of the myth of the frozen words
to question the communicative function of language. ^^

I have noted with respect to Cartier's travel journals that the transmission
and especially the verification of information relies on the eyewitness, the
observer, as intermediary or interpreter between the object/event and the
destinataire. Rabelais begins by undermining this basic tenet of the discursive
system. Pantagruel and his group do not at first see anything, and are quite
disturbed by the breakdown of the normal sequence of perception:

En pleine mer nous banquetans, gringnotans, divisans et faisans beaulx et
cours discours, Pantagruel se leva et tint en pieds pour discouvrer ��
l'environ. Puys nous dist: 'Compaignons, oyez vous rien? Me semble que
je oy quelques gens parlans en l'air, je n'y voy toutesfoys personne. Es-
coutez.' A son commandement nous feusmes attentifz, et �� pleines au-
reilles humions l'air, comme belles huytres en escalle, pour entendre si
voix ou son aulcun y seroit espart; et pour rien n'en perdre �� l'exemple de
Antonin l'Empereur, aulcuns oppousions nos mains en paulme darriere
les aureilles. Ce neantmoins protestions voix quelconques n'entendre.

Pantagruel continuoit affermant ouyr voix diverses en l'air, tant de homes
comme de femmes, quand nous feut advis, ou que nous les oyons pareille-
ment, ou que les aureilles nous cornoient. Plus pers��v��rions escoutans,
plus discernions les voix, jusques �� entendre motz entiers. Ce que nous
effraya grandement, et non sans cause, personne ne voyans et entendens
voix et sons tant divers, d'homes, de femmes, d'enfans, de chevaulx.^^

When at last the travellers do "see" the words, their description defies
categorization, for in Rabelais' version of the myth, the crystallization of
sound is represented by that most supremely visual of all effects. The sounds
are colored: "Lors nous jecta sus le tillac pleines mains de parolles gel��es, et
sembloient drag��e perl��e de diverses couleurs. Nous y vismes des motz de
gueule, des motz de sinople, des motz d'azur, des mots de sable, des motz
dorez."^^ Thus in his own time, Rabelais returns to the principle of sight-as-
verification, only to reintroduce the problem already posed by Cartier's
journal: That of the horse-fish, or disruption of the link between signifier and
signified. By evoking the synesthetic qualities of language — the colors of
sound — Rabelais questions the existing linguistic system not only on the level

Renaissance et R��forme / 189

of expression or representation, but on that of perception as well. If ail things
are possible just beyond the known horizon of conceptualization, in the "New
World" discovered by Renaissance explorers, then sounds may indeed have
colors; perhaps it is only the limitations imposed on us by our senses that
prevent us from perceiving those colors. The difficuhy of naming the un-
known of saying what is, may then be a function of perception, yet perception
itself, the way we see, is structured by language. That is to say, as twentieth
century linguists and critics have noted, that there is no pure perception; the
conceptualizaion of 'what is' is indissolubly linked to and influenced by its
articulation; the signifier shapes our perception of the signified. And the
signifier is arbitrary: Sounds do not have colors because the existing linguistic
system does not describe "sound" in that way.^^ A different system, as
Rabelais hints in his version of the myth of the frozen words, may pair sound
with colors creating a different series of symbolic correspondences between
signifier and signified.

Indeed, for Rabelais, the world would seem to be, as Baudelaire puts it
several centuries later, a "for��t de symboles" where "les parfums, les couleurs
et les sons se r��pondent."^^ At the edge of the unknown, one code may evoke
another, as we are made to understand through Rabelais' very choice of
colors. The frozen words are not 'red' and 'blue' and 'green' and 'black;' not
'rouge et bleu,' 'vert et noir,' even though these color-words were part of the
common French lexicon in Rabelais' time.^^ Instead, Rabelais chooses — and
certainly not be accident — to evoke a symbolic system in which the signifiers
are normally colors rather than words, in which communication is effected
by means of a code of shade and shape, rather than through patterns of sound
and silence. In short, Rabelais evokes well-known patterns of heraldic signi-
fiers through his use of the color-words "gueule" and "azur," "sinople" and
"sable." The linguistic signifiers — the words — are then represented in heral-
dic terms — with colors — fusing the two symbolic systems. Thus it is that in
Rabelais' imaginary world, just as in the 'real' world Jacques Cartier depicts
in his journals, systems of signs clash and intermingle, forming new codes,
perhaps, but disrupting existing communicative networks, for the frozen
words, when thawed, are indecipherable, at least by Pantagruel and his crew:
"les quelz, estre quelque peu eschauffez entre nos mains, fondoient comme
neiges, et les oyons realement, mais ne les entendions, car c'estoit languaige

Although Rabelais does not linger long upon the thought, he succeeds, in
the few pages constituting Pantagruel 's encounter with the frozen words, in
articulating, if not in resolving, even to his own satisfaction, the difficulties

190 / Renaissance and Reformation

inherent in the establishment of any system of communicative signs, espe-
cially at a time when new knowledge was being acquired at a pace which
made its assimilation into the existing epistemological system problematic:
The Renaissance was certainly a period of tremendous excitement, but also
an era of deep-seated malaise, for the process of naming the unknown, thereby
mastering it and tranforming it into the known, implied not only the definition
of this unknown — the other, the non-self — but redefinition of the self. Dis-
coveries and innovations called into question the Western European concept
of itself and the world. And, in the double process of naming the unknown
and renaming the self, as the signified was redefined and displaced, the link
with the signifier was disrupted, creating an open, uncharted discursive space
as vast and deep and troublesome as the Renaissance "ocean sea" itself. It is
evident that the end result of this process would be a new expanded system
of being and meaning; as Normand Doiron puts it, "Quand les voyageurs
auront ��t�� partout, et qu'ils auront enfin nomm�� tous les lieux, le monde sera
�� nouveau universel. "-^^ But, in the meanwhile, in the early years of the
Renaissance, as the old system of conceptualization, representation and
communication was crumbling before the massive onslaught of new informa-
tion, the horizon literally and figuratively opened up to limitless — and no
doubt in the eyes of many, frightening — possibilities. Rabelais, sensitized to
this phenomenon by the writing of Jacques Cartier and other travel journalists,
confronts the question on its own ground: Rather than retreating to a scholar's
vantage point, from which he could, with a certain intellectual sang-froid,
analyse the problem, Rabelais recreates it, turning the linguistic system upside
down in the process, but all the while hinting at undreamed-of realms of
signification, reaching to capture those ephemeral possibilities of meaning
drifting just beyond the horizon. In fact, for Rabelais, the phenomenon of
linguistic disruption — the horse-fish — is not a barrier to expression, but a
catalyst generating novel patterns of literary mimesis, impelling the writer to
recast and reformulate the discursive and linguistic structures of his era.

New York University


1 François Rabelais, Le Quart Livre, in Oeuvres compl��tes, ��d. Pierra Jourda (Paris,
Gamier, 1962), II. All quotes refer to this edition.

2 Abel Lefranc, Les navigations de Pantagruel. Etude sur la g��ographie rabelaisienne
(Paris, Leclerc, 1905), p. 57; 63.

3 Jacques Cartier, Relations, ��d. Michel Bideaux (Montr��al, Presses de l'Universit�� de
Montr��al, 1986). Ail quotes refer to this edition.

Renaissance et R��forme / 191

4 In this Jean Plattard agrees with Lefranc. See François Rabelais, Le Quart Livre, in
Oeuvres compl��tes, ��d. Jean Plattard (Paris, Belles Lettres, 1955-61), IV, p. 266, note

5 Cartier, Premi��re relation (1534), p. 98; Unes 79-87.

6 For a detailed discussion of the difficulties of Renaissance navigation, see J.R. Hale,
Renaissance Exploration (New York: Norton, 1968).

7 François Hartog, Le miroir d'H��rodote: Essai sur la repr��sentation de Vautre (Paris,
Gallimard, 1980), p. 272. Michel Jeanneret, in his article "L��ry et Thevet: comment
parler d'un monde nouveau?" in M��langes �� la m��moire de Franco Simone (Geneva:
Slatkine, 1983), IV, p. 234, also notes this reliance on the eyewitness account:
"L'activit�� fondamentale ... est celle du regard."

8 Cartier, Deuxi��me relation (1535-36), p. 133-34; Unes 276-80.

9 The etymology of the name of this animal reflects similar modes of perception through-
out Europe. The English "walrus" is a "whale-horse" or "horshwael" in Old English; I
note as well the German "walross" and the Danish "hvalros." (See the Random House
Dictionary of the English Language).

10 A. Cioranescu, in his article "La d��couverte de l'Am��rique et l'art de la description,'
RSH 106 (1962), p. 162, comments that, in the Middle Ages, "il ne semble pas que la
fronti��re entre le croyable et l'incroyable lui [au lecteur] ait jamais caus�� des
pr��occupations,' an observation which would seem to hold true for the sixteenth century
as well. Jean-Claude Morisot speaks of the Renaissance as "une ��poque de d��couvertes,
o�� ne cessent de se d��placer les fronti��res entre possible et impossible, incroyable et
r��el," in "'L'Histoire d'un voyage fait en la terre du Br��sil' de Jean de L��ry," CAIEF
27(1975), p. 39.

11 Hartog, p. 297; 282.

12 Cartier, Deuxi��me relation (1535-36), p. 176-77; lines 1589-93.

13 Rabelais, p. 31.

14 Cartier, Premi��re relation (1534), p. 96; lines 1-11.

15 Of course Rabelais plays with the topographical discourse from the opening lines of the
Quart Livre, presupposing a certain literary competence on the part of his readers, if
they are to fully enter into the spirit of the game.

16 Cartier, Premi��re relation (1534), p. 96; lines 21-25.

17 Cartier, Premi��re relation (1534), p. 96; lines 15-17.

18 Rabelais, p. 206.

19 Plutarch, Moralia, trans, Frank Cole Babbitt (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press, 1969), I, p. 421: "Antiphanes said humorously that in a certain city words
congealed with the cold the moment they were spoken, and later, as they thawed out,
people heard in the summer what they had said to one another in the winter."

20 Jean Plattard, L 'oeuvre de Rabelais (sources, invention et composition) (Paris, Cham-
pion, 1910), p. 240: "Mais il est plus probable que sa source imm��diate est ici Plutarque

21 The episode of the "parolles gel��es" has been interpreted in various ways over the years.
Two major currents of thought predominate. The episode has been interpreted as the

192 / Renaissance and Reformation

expression of the poetic experience: Jean Guiton, in "Le mythe des paroles gel��es",
Romanic Review, 31 (1940), p. 13, observes that "le mythe des 'paroles gel��es' nous
conduit d'abord aux limites du langage des ces ��tranges r��gions que r��ve d'explorer le
po��te." More recently, Lawrence Kritzman, in "La Qu��te de la parole dan le Quart livre
de Rabelais," French Forum, 2 (1977), p. 203, notes that "l'��crivain-Rabelais . . . vise
�� lib��rer son ��criture du monde connu en allant au-devant de l'aventure po��tique." On
the other hand, a number of critics see the "parolles gel��es" as a reflection of Rabelais'
preoccupation with contemporaneous religious debate: V.L. Saulnier, in Rabelais II
(Paris, S.E.D.E.S./C.D.U., 1982), reads the episode as a message of hope in the face of
the enforced silence of the evangelists: "Les Paroles 'gel��es' repr��sentent donc un
silence. Taisons-nous, en pr��sence de l'infortune des temps. Mais gardons confiance:
le grain ne meurt pas. La v��rit�� que l'on cache et qui se cache, un jour verra bien paraître.
Laissons passer le temps des contraintes et des incompr��hensions: il vient un temps o��
toute parole, conserv��e dans les glaces, reprend voix et se fait entendre (p. 120)" M. A.
Screech, in Rabelais (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1979), while noting that "in
both books [Tiers Livre, Quart Livre] he [Rabelais] is concerned to show how language
can also be a barrier to understanding or reaching the truth (p. 416)," feels, like Saulnier,
the linguistic argument in the episode of the frozen words to be secondary to the
expression of Rabelais' thought on Christianity "It is no longer an ancient myth of time
and eternity; it is a myth of celestial words and ideas lasting to the end of the Christian
epoch . . . Rabelais places the myth within the context of Christian eschatology
(p.423)." These interpretations, while interesting, tend to downplay the importance of
the travel journal to the genesis of Rabelais' version of the myth of the frozen words.
In an era in which the idea of religious reformation, as well as that of aesthetic reform,
was of major consequence it is sometimes tempting to read all hermetic passages in light
of these preoccupations, forgetting that the discovery of America had an equally great
impact on the European community of the sixteenth century.

22 Rabelais, p. 203.

23 Rabelais, p. 206.

24 Although oddly enough, words may have; language is often described as being "color-

25 Charles Baudelaire, "Correspondances" in Les Fleurs du mal et autres po��mes (Paris,
Garnier-Flammarion, 1964), p. 39

26 See A.J. Greimas, Dictionnaire de l'ancien français (Paris, Larousse, 1969) and Grand
Larousse de la langue française (Paris, Larousse, 1977) for the history of the various
color words in French.

27 Rabelais, p. 206.

28 Normand Doiron, "Les rituels du d��part de quelques voyageurs renaissants," Etudes
françaises, 22 (l9S6),pA5.

Women in the Brotherhood: Gender,
Class, and Politics in Renaissance
Bolognese Confraternities



.ona Lucia Bolza and her spiritual sisters had a bone to pick with the
men of Bologna. For decades women had been progressively shut out of
worshipping in lay confraternities. Now, in 1547, they made a stand. A group
of perhaps thirty gathered at the shrine of S. Maria della Piet�� on the eastern
wall of the city before the men of the shrine's confraternity met for evening
prayers. With Mona Lucia doing the talking, they demanded, first of God
and then of the confraternity officials and men, permission to join in the
gatherings under the mantle of the Virgin Mary. The women wanted to
congregate in the shrine to the service, honour, and glory of God, and they
wanted to be subject to all that the confraternal statutes and oath required of
the men. The men received all of this in their hearts and, in a secret vote,
unanimously approved the women's demands. The women then asked the
men to give them a head and guide — so long as it was not one of their
husbands. In prayer, and by the will of God, they elected and confirmed
Mona Lucia as Prioress for the coming year.

This Authorized Version of the sisters' successful assault on a bastion of
male privilege occurs in the prologue to the statutes drawn up for the women
of S. Maria della Piet�� in the following year.^ The triumphal tone does not
quite obscure the signs of advanced planning evident in the ritualized assault,
nor can it obscure the result that becomes clearer in the statutes themselves.
The women did not join the men under the mantle of Mary, under the statutes
and oath, or, for that matter, in the shrine.-^ Their consorority was separated
from, but administered by, the men's confraternity; their devotional exercises
excluded the offices and flagellation characteristic of the men's devotion; and
they were not given any reason to meet in the shrine's oratory. Even their
statutes appear to have been written in part by the men.^ Why then was the
ritual confrontation staged, and why was the women's defeat portrayed as a

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 3 (1990) 193

194 / Renaissance and Reformation

victory? Why were the women not granted what they wished? Gender, class,
and politics mixed in a confrontation which brought to a head developments
originating a century earlier. Two views of women's religious role interacted
in the confrontation: The first was the goal of an active apostolate of charity
and public worship which had been common among artisan confraternities
until devotional reforms of the mid-Quattrocento. The second was the ideal
of a contemplative discipleship of private prayer and devotion that was
common among high-born confraternities. Women's removal from Bologn-
ese confraternities had come as a result of devotional reforms pursued through
the later Quattrocento by men who were largely of their own artisan class.
Their re-entry in the next century was a calculated move by patricians
concerned less with religious expression than social control. Only a public
ritual would achieve the political purpose, but fixed patrician notions of the
religious expression appropriate for women would ensure that their aggres-
sive demands could not be granted.

The study of organized lay piety is the study of confraternities. Italian lay
men and women began gathering in confraternities in the thirteenth century,
often after having experienced the intense and exciting public worship of
periodic devotional movements.'* In Bologna as elsewhere in Italy, a peniten-
tial movement of 1260, marked by processions and public flagellation, was
perpetuated by lay worshippers meeting regularly for prayers and singing.^
Drawing on the models of mendicant orders and artisanal guilds, they devised
statutes that regulated individual and collective devotions and established
administrations empowered to acquire material and spiritual goods. Within a
few decades, more groups were following the example of the penitents of
1260, building oratories and buying indulgences while meeting in regular
worship. The number of Bolognese confraternities grew in waves, with peaks
in the first decades of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. Two
great reform movements in the mid-fifteenth and early-sixteenth centuries
stirred up existing groups gone stale, but reforms almost never entailed
schismatic break-ups. Reformers were accommodated in a sub-group of the
confraternity, named the stretta company, with the term doing double duty to
indicate narrow membership and strict devotional activities similar to the
northern Devotio Moderna and mendicant Observant movements.^ The re-
maining brothers who had not joined the reformers were called the larga
company. By the mid-sixteenth century, over eighty confraternities and
stretta sub-groups were or had been active in the city of 50,000.^ Of these,
twelve definitely enrolled women. ^

Renaissance et R��forme / 195

Women's early involvement in organized lay piety in Bologna was deter-
mined by the circumstances and models shaping confraternal development.
Born of public devotional movements, confraternities could not exclude from
their worship the women who had sung and prayed in procession. Yet
governed on the model of artisanal guilds, they would not include in their
councils a sex that played no administrative part in the guilds. The mendicant
model was ambivalent. On one hand it advocated a life of piety expressed
through public charity. On the other, it gave the example, from St. Clare
onwards, that women in Second Order mendicant houses could only practise
their piety and charity within the boundaries of strict enclosure. As two types
of confraternities emerged through the Trecento, women's participation fell
into two tracks that were commonly, if not exclusively, distinguished by
social class. Laudesi, or praising confraternities, picked up on the celebratory
and communal side of devotional movements. These were large, neighbor-
hood-based groups gathering men and women of the artisan class. They
usually met monthly in a mendicant church to sing and pray in public worship.
Beginning in the early fourteenth century, the laudesi confraternities estab-
lished ospedali, or hostels, which served the thousands of pilgrims who passed
through Bologna each year. While laudesi groups perpetuated the public and
celebratory side of devotional movements, battuti or flagellant confraternities
carried on the penitential and individualized element. Based more self-con-
sciously on the mendicant model, they were smaller and more socially
exclusive in choosing members. In place of the public worship of the laudesi,
they gathered weekly in private oratories to recite the Divine Office. On feast
days and during Lent and Advent, they flagellated in the darkened oratories.
Bolognese battuti did not establish charitable works like the laudesi hostels
until later in the fourteenth century, when they began treating the sick and
dying of the city itself.

Women initially joined laudesi confraternities and played an important part
in the charitable work of their hostels, but were normally excluded from the
flagellant battuti groups. Their exclusion was ostensibly to avoid exacerbat-
ing the public scandal that already attended a nocturnal activity carried out in
darkened oratories by semi-naked participants. Peter Damian had first advo-
cated flagellation as a penitential exercise for laity of all social conditions in
the eleventh century, and Franciscan preachers further popularized the prac-
tice from the thirteenth century. Italian women certainly flagellated from at
least the eleventh century, but did so in private and risked incurring disap-
proval.^ The sticking point was not flagellation per se, but its collective
practice in processions or confraternities. None of the chronicles documenting

196 / Renaissance and Reformation

the 1260 movement of Disciplinati mention women flagellating in streets or
churches, and only one refers to women performing the exercise "m cubiculis
suis . . . cum omni honestate."^^ While the women of Ravenna were the first
to win entry into a flagellant confraternity in 1265, it is doubtful that they
gained anything more than the spiritual benefits of auxiliary association. This
was certainly the case with women admitted into flagellant confraternities in
contemporary Vicenza, Bergamo, Pisa, Udine, Modena, Cividale, and San
Sepolcro.^^ As the wives and daughters of male members, they were of higher
social standing than the women joining laudesi confraternities.

Women's exclusion from the collective flagellation characteristic of battuti
groups was based on more than just the shame of exposing their bodies or
mixing male and female flagellants, since it continued through the period
when those bearing the cords wore robes and hoods which obliterated their
individual identity. More importantly, even the few "flagellant" consororities
in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Italy may not have practised the exer-
cise. Contemporaries referred to the women of the late-Trecento Company of
S. Maria di Giosafat in the Sicilian town of Catania as ''domne disciplinantes,''
but this appears to have been little more than a convention following the model
of male confraternities from which women were excluded. ^^ The consistency
and completeness of the exclusion suggests that collective flagellation was
seen as a distinctly male ritual, the characteristic expression of the generally
more patriarchal mores of the battuti groups. ^^ Given these values, it is
doubtful that women played any more than an auxiliary role in any flagellant
confraternities anywhere in Italy during this period. ^"^ Just as the flagellant
confratello's collective devotions and charity were lay reflections of the
mendicant rules, so the consorella's private devotions and limited activities
reflected the strict enclosure of female religious.

Members of both laudesi and battuti confraternities oriented their worship
to death, dying, and salvation. As Brian Pullan noted of the Venetian con-
fraternities or scuole,

Ithey] existed to prepare for death and to maintain a bond with the dead:
to commemorate them and, through the celebration of Mass for the souls
of the living and of the dead, to speed their passage through Purgatory.
The founders of the Scuole set themselves to do, as a congregation or a
fraternity, things which contributed to the salvation of the soul, to correct
sin, to make peace, and to accumulate a fund of merit on which all could

Renaissance et R��forme / 197

Women contributed equally to this fund of merit with their prayers, wor-
ship, regular dues, and charitable works. Their charity was particularly
evident in laudesi confraternities operating hostels; fifteenth-century female
members of S. Bartolomeo di Reno frequently clothed the poor clerics served
by their hostel.'^ Moreover, through the fourteenth and early fifteenth-century
Bolognese women of artisan rank often outdid men in joining laudesi con-
fraternities. Yet their involvement sharply declined from the latter half of the
fifteenth century. To take one example: the Company of S. Maria dei Guarini,
an artisanal laudesi group centred in the south-eastern quarter of Porta Piera,
registered seventy men and seventy women in a matriculation list begun in
1356. By 1382 the female complement had risen to 181 and the male to 172.
A 1428 revision showed at least 120 women and 128 men.^^ At this point the
rough equality disappeared. The 1428 matriculation list extended to 1526,
registering a total of 627 men and 239 women; women's recruitment had
dropped to less than twenty-five percent, and was being gradually eliminated
altogether; neither the larga nor the stretta matriculations commencing in
1526 listed women as members. A similar process was underway in the
laudesi Company of S. Maria della Carit�� centred on the south-western
quarter of Porta Stiera. This group had been winding down in the latter
fourteenth century, but revived itself in the aftermath of the 1399 Bianchi
devotional movement. The 1399 matriculation list showed fifty-two women
and thirty-one men; over the life of the list into the 1530s, the proportions
were reversed, with a total of 300 men to 219 women. The figures are
deceptive. Most of the men went over to the stretta group formed in 1518,
and by the 1530s the larga group was on the verge of collapse. Appendix A
charts male and female recruitment for a number of Renaissance Bolognese
confraternities, and shows how with one exception the proportion of women
declined through this period.

Recruitment was seriously dropping, but this was still only half the issue.
How many of the women joining a confraternity drew on its fund of merit?
Only those who were active members at the time of death could, so to speak,
draw on the fund. Their bodies were dressed in the confraternity's robes and
buried in its sepulchre, while their souls were propelled quickly through
Purgatory by the prayers, requiems, and plenary indulgences of their spiritual
community. In the event, few women lasted this far. Most confraternities had
greater difficulty retaining female than male members. Of the 248 members
participating in the Company of S. Maria dei Guarini in 1428, ninety percent
of males remained active until death, but only eight percent of females. Over
the remainder of the matriculation list male participation till death dropped

198 / Renaissance and Reformation

to twenty-six percent, while women's rose to fourteen percent. ^^ The female
dominated S. Maria della Carit�� group of 1399 retained ninety-six percent of
women until death, but in subsequent generations this dropped to fifty-five
percent. And while retention rates varied widely among confraternities.
Appendix B shows that those for women were usually about half of those for

Declining recruitment and retention rates for women were the consequence
both of their exclusion from the administrative responsibilities of male
membership, and of the growing predominance of the flagellant model in
confraternal devotional reform. Ronald Weissman has shown that adminis-
trative responsibility was a condition for men continuing their membership
in contemporary Florentine confraternities; without powers to exercise and
duties to perform, members simply lost interest and dropped away.^^ If
women were accustomed to this kind of discrimination in artisanal society,
they were less prepared for a redefinition of confraternal worship which
would exclude them as a matter of principle. This is precisely what was
happening from the mid-fifteenth century, when the Observant reforms
dividing the major mendicant orders spilled over to influence lay confraternit-
ies. Male reformers who established stretta sub-groups in laudesi con-
fraternities emphasized the danger or pericolosit�� of Woman, an evil sex that
led men away from devotion and into temptation. There was nothing partic-
ularly new in this revival of misogynistic and patriarchal themes in popular
piety. Yet by making flagellation the characteristic mark of stretta renewal,
reformers excluded women from the most dynamic and fastest-growing
segment of the confraternity.

In its confraternal context, flagellation was less an act of individual purifi-
cation or expiation, than a demonstration of love and solidarity with Christ.
Confratelli frequently adopted conventions or rituals of imitative piety that
cast them as the disciples and their lay head [the Ordinario] as Christ.
Companies ascribed their origin to the actions of twelve men, or assigned
revision of their statutes to a committee of twelve members. The Holy
Thursday festival, which was one of the most solemn collective feasts,
included a ritual in which the Ordinario washed the feet of all members or of
a group of twelve; we also find flagellation limited to groups of twelve. While
these numerical conventions were no doubt welcomed by squeamish or
high-born members who wished to avoid potentially painful or demeaning
exercises, they originated in the effort to underline the group's collective
identity as friends, disciples, and imitators of the Signore?^ The flagellants
shared in the suffering of the Head and Groom of the Church, giving collective

Renaissance et R��forme / 199

discipline its strongly male meaning.^^ Bolognese hattuti began abandonning
the exercise by the late Trecento, but its link to confraternal renewal was
re-affirmed by Bishop Nicolo Albergati [1375-1443], a Carthusian Obser-
vant from a prominent local family. As part of a broad-ranging program to
revive the spiritual life of the city, Albergati reformed some of the city's
patrician confraternities in the first half of the fifteenth century, creating
flagellant stretta cells to restore their inner life and giving them larger roles
in public religious ceremonies.^^ Artisanal laudesi groups that reformed
themselves according to the Observant model over the next seventy-five
years began picking up the cords of discipline as well. In the process, these
laudesi stretta groups also adopted the secrecy and membership restrictions
of the patrician battuti; all strangers, and particularly women, were excluded
from the confraternal oratory.

Once a stretta sub-group was erected within a laudesi confraternity, the
larga parent usually lost its devotional purpose and members. The larga of
S. Maria della Carit��, which lost forty-two of its members to the stretta in
1518, was extinct by 1542; the stretta specifically prohibited creating another
in its 1577 statutes. -^^ S. Bartolomeo di Reno's larga company waned so
quickly after the stretta emerged in 1502 that members joining a few decades
later were unaware it had ever existed.^'* In S. Maria dei Guarini, the larga
group was reduced to a Board of Governors for the hostel. In none of these
cases was any provision made for continuing the public worship once char-
acteristic of the laudesi. As a result. Observant reforms shut lay women out
of participating in either the devotional or the charitable activities of the
confraternity.^^ Two groups continued admitting women. The patrician fla-
gellants of S. Maria del Baraccano added small numbers of female relatives
as auxilliary members. The laudesi of S. Bernardino, who met in the Conven-
tual church of S. Francesco and never split into stretta and larga groups, also
recruited women; this was the only major laudesi confraternity to resist the
Observant reforms, and the only one to see its proportion of female members
rise through the sixteenth century.

The Observant model, with its emphasis on a life of private contemplative
devotions for women, dominated late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century
Bologna. Women's enthusiasm for the strict Observant life can be seen in the
number of recruits garnered by reformed convents, and in the enormous
popularity of two female spiritual leaders. In 1425, Bishop Albergati put the
Augustinian nuns of S. Maria delle Virgin! under a strict rule, and in seven
years their numbers quadrupled from six to twenty-four, doubling again over
the next four decades. Other mendicant orders imposed Observant rules on

200 / Renaissance and Reformation

their Bolognese Second Order houses as well, notably the Cistercians [1429],
the Camaldolese [1433] and the Franciscans [1436].^^ In 1432 the Franciscan
tertiary Caterina di Vigri [1413-1463] established a convent of Poor Clares
in Ferrara in order to follow a strictly-enclosed life. After relocating the
convent to her birthplace of Bologna in 1456, she gained the patronage of the
Bentivoglio and won such a reputation for sanctity that local followers
founded a popular cult and pushed successfully for her beatification in 1524.^^
All of the reformed convents won steadily increasing numbers of recruits.
Some of this growth was undoubtedly a parental response to demographic
and dowry pressures, but women's own participation in Observant values is
confirmed by the wide lay following won in the early Cinquecento by Elena
Duglio dairOlio [1472-1520]. Though married to a Bolognese notary, Elena
followed and championed a life of chastity and contemplative devotion, and
became a cult figure even before her death. Her followers emphasized her
similarity to the Madonna, while Raphael was commissioned to depict her as
an otherworldly St. Cecilia in the altarpiece for her chapel in the Lateran
Canons' church of S. Giovanni in Monte. ^^

In most cases lay artisanal women of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth
century were being shut out of laudesi confraternities by the desire of male
reformers to follow the Observant mendicant model. Yet ironically, these
artisanal men were themselves soon marginalized in their brotherhoods. In
this case, the political changes affecting Bologna in the latter years of the
Bentivoglio signory and the early years of papal governorship provided the
motive force. Bequests left to the older confraternities, particularly those
operating hostels, had grown to the point where some were quite wealthy.
Through the fifteenth century, laudesi ospedali had become more specialized
and localized in their work, gradually turning themselves from hostels for
pilgrims passing through Bologna, into orphanages and infirmaries for the
worthy poor of the city itself. Civil and ecclesiastical authorities had encour-
aged unions among these institutions in order to improve co-ordination and
control of social relief. New companies arose, such as S. Maria degli Angeli
which ran a foundling home modelled after Florence's Ospedale degli In-
nocenti. The final fall of the ruling Bentivoglio family in 1512 set the stage
for the creation of a broader Bolognese oligarchy intent on preserving a high
degree of magnate latitude under the newly-confirmed papal rule. As one step
in the consolidation of their power, the leading families moved systematically
to take firmer control of the confraternities and their ospedali?^ The Company
of S. Maria dei Guarini provides the clearest example, with its creation in
1525 of a self-perpetuating board of ten sindics appointed to life terms to

Renaissance et R��forme / 201

administer its infirmary for syphilitics. Beginning with a bare majority, the
patrician group progressively increased its numbers on the board, adding even
those who were not members of the confraternity. Most artisan members had
joined the confraternity's newly-formed stretta group in 1518 and soon they
complained that they were being excluded from the infirmary's board while
high-born strangers were being admitted. Their protests fell on deaf ears. The
patricians argued that they had been appointed by the larga and not the stretta,
and so had no obligations towards the latter. Since the former was defunct
within a decade, this gave them a free hand. Angry at the theft of a charitable
institution that their ancestors had founded two hundred years earlier, the
stretta artisans tried various avenues of protest before successfully bringing
a suit to the episcopal court. The patricians initially refused to acknowledge
the judgement, but finally tired of the artisans' relentless pursuit of their cause.
In 1602 they offered the olive branch of an ex officio seat on the infirmary
board, thereby winning peace without sacrificing control.-^^

The Bentivoglio themselves had demonstrated the techniques and effec-
tiveness of winning control over confraternal social agencies at the foundling
home of S. Maria degli Angeli in the late-fifteenth century. Their successors
followed the example at the orphanage of S. Bartolomeo di Reno and other
ospedali through the next decades. In the process they gained valuable
expertise for a local welfare system adopted in the 1540s and 1550s, and based
loosely on Juan Luis Vives De subventione pauperum [1526].^^ Artisan
confratelli seldom resisted the patrician takeover as tenaciously as the men
of S. Maria dei Guarini; indeed, many initially welcomed high-born members
whose deeper pockets would fund faltering ospedali. Few anticipated their
own inevitable disenfranchisement. Yet all confraternal matriculation lists
from the early sixteenth century onward show a growing number of prominent
families, and decreasing artisanal membership in the Bolognese spiritual
companies; a similar process was underway in Grand Ducal Florence.^^
Hence, while women were pushed out of artisanal confraternities as a result
of patriarchal devotional reforms adopted in the fifteenth century, artisanal
men were themselves marginalized within their confraternities by political
developments of the following century that re-inforced a hierarchical social

Given these developments, what was at work in Mona Lucia's 1547 appeal
to the men of S. Maria della Piet��? The confraternity was impeccably upper
class; all the legitimate males of the Bentivoglio family had joined it soon
after it began in 1503.^^ The Bentivoglio's fall did little to hinder its ability
to gather such leading families as the Gozzadini, the Bianchi, the Dolfi, and

202 / Renaissance and Reformation

others. Mona Lucia's husband, Guaspar, was also a member. The prologue
to the consorority's 1548 statutes implies that Bolognese women strongly
resented their marginalization in the confraternities, to the point perhaps
where the oligarchy felt it advisable to contain the dissent. Yet while the
dissenting women sought an active apostolate and full involvement in con-
fraternal life, the only response Bologna's patricians seemed capable of
offering was the contemplative devotional life of the Observants. The ritual
assault by the stalking horse Mona Lucia symbolically put "women on top,"
while the statutes that followed firmly put women in place as the 'enclosed'
spiritual auxiliaries of the confraternity.^^ Apart from monthly confession and
quarterly communion, the repeated Paters and Aves that made up their
devotions were to be said at home. The statutes allowed for monthly meetings,
but specifically prohibited the women from saying Divine Office, and are
silent on what other duties they might perform or business they might
transact.^^ Unlike their sisters in Roman confraternities, the women did not
join in confraternal processions, anniversary requiems, or feasts.-^^ In admin-
istration, the relative autonomy modelled by stretta groups was not granted
to the women, even though S. Maria della Piet�� had itself operated with a
stretta group since at least 1537.^^ The men's Ordinario and Prior supervised
the women's annual election of a Prioress, and this woman was then put under
the headship of a male Governor elected by the women but confirmed by a
capitular vote of the men's company. ^^ The Prioress was to be an honest and
reputable married woman over twenty-five years old; she was assisted by two
female counsellors who had no specific duties. All financial affairs and
relations with the men's confraternity were handled by the Governor, who
presented annual audits to his companions; after 1600 he was appointed
directly by the men's company .-^^ The recurring theme in the women's statutes
was obedience: in the company, in the church, and in the body politic.
Obedience to the Prioress and Governor was likened to the obedience due
from Lords to the Emperor, from the French to their King, from ecclesiastics
to the Pope. "Without obedience, our republic of Bologna would be full of
atrocities and assassinations."^^ As, indeed, it usually was.

Obedience to husbands and fathers is conspicuously lacking from the 1548
statutes: the models are all politically hierarchical rather than familially
patriarchal. The women themselves underlined this distinction by requesting
that their consorority's Governor not be the husband of one of the members.
A second curious point about this mid-sixteenth-century group is the low
incidence of traceable kinship ties between the women's and men's groups.
All women are identified by a male relation, but only fourteen percent of these

Renaissance et R��forme / 203

men belong to the Company of S. Maria deila Piet��; of seventy-one women
joining the consorority, only twelve are clearly related to a member of the
confraternity."^* This was a significant drop from the percentages found in
mixed confraternities of the previous century and from the strong family
connections normally found in confraternities. Forty percent of women en-
tering S. Bernardino in 1454 had been related to a male member, as were thirty
percent of women joining S. Bartolomeo di Reno in lAll^^ In most contem-
porary Italian high-born confraternities, only female relatives of members
could join the brotherhood. The women of S. Maria della Piet�� suffered no
such limitation; perhaps their greatest freedom lay in accepting whomever
they wished, with applicants subject to an examination and vote through
which the sisters separated the spiritual wheat from the blaspheming, gossip-
ing, and dishonest chaff. ^^ The gap between men's and women's groups of
S. Maria della Piet�� is too great to be accounted for by either oblique lines of
kinship or documentary lapses. It appears instead that the Bolognese patri-
cians who had established the consorority and written its statutes were moving
deliberately to broaden and reinforce obedience to the post-Bentivoglio
hierarchy by casting the net of confraternal clientage over a broader social

The patriciate's actions were consistent with contemporary measures to
extend control over artisanal men's confraternities. They can also be seen as
an effort to control women whose religious zeal might lead them either to the
numerous protestant conventicles operating in Bologna, or to other indepen-
dent action. It was a contemporary commonplace that women's weakness
made them vulnerable to Protestant contagion, and as an international univer-
sity centre, Bologna had more than its share of 'Huteranir Under Cardinal
Giovanni Morone, Papal Governor since 1544, the city had avoided the worst
of the decade's intensified prosecution of Protestantism."^^ Yet this tacit
toleration could not be sustained past Morone' s departure in 1547. From
March to September of that year, delegates to the Council of Trent had fled
to Bologna in order to avoid the plague and Protestants threatening Trent.
They immediately stopped the activities of two popular evangelical preachers,
and stepped up investigations against local heretics."^^ Over the next two years
more friars and laymen were prosecuted, a local abbot was accused of
distributing summaries of the Beneficio di Cristo, and eight prominent citi-
zens were sent to the inquisitorial prison in Rome."^^ Establishment of an
Inquisitorial tribunal for the city alone in 1550 demonstrated both Rome's
displeasure with Bologna's earlier mild approach, and its determination to

204 / Renaissance and Reformation

institutionalize the new hard-line approach."^^ The turning point had been
1547, and Mona Lucia's protest occurred in November of that year.

Excessive devotion and independent action was as much a concern as
heresy, particularly if it threatened conventional gender roles. Elsewhere in
Italy, activist Catholic laywomen like the Franciscan tertiary Angela Merici
[1474-1540] had raised suspicions among clerical conservatives and reser-
vations among lay peers. Like the b��guines of northern Europe, Merici' s
Ursulines had initially taken private or simple vows, worn simple clothing,
and lived in non-cloistered informal communities, so as to avoid the limita-
tions of female monasticism and dedicate themselves more fully to charitable
works. In 1546, Paul III put them into a separate habit and under the rule of
St. Augustine ."^^ The Barnabites had established a similar loosely structured
group for laywomen in 1535, but were pressured into enclosing it by 1557.^^
In its last sessions, the Council of Trent confirmed that all female religious
had to be strictly enclosed, including those women who had previously taken
only simple or private vows.^^ The Bolognese Senate sympathized with the
conservatives on this score. It had already appealed to Rome in the early 1540s
for help in expanding existing nunneries, and in creating new ones to handle
the increasing number of women taking vows.^^ Creating new consororities
was a natural extension of this concern from clerical to lay life, and the
emphasis on political obedience in statutes of S. Maria della Piet�� bears out
the continuity. Bologna's patricians drew their power from Rome, and so
could not stray far from the conservative Roman model. Since inability to
control women's religious dissent or independence would have discredited
the patricians in the eyes of their papal masters, there was far more at stake
in the Mona Lucia Bolza episode than met the eye.^^

The oligarchs' strategy of containing dissent to confirm authority was
effective. The Piet�� consorority grew quickly, numbering seventy-one in
twenty-three months. Of these sixty-one, or eighty-six percent, remained
members until death, a degree of adherence not seen since the female majority
among the 1399 reformers of S. Maria della Carit��. Other patrician con-
fraternities soon followed the Piet�� example. A 1549 episcopal licence
allowing the Company of the SSmo. Crocifisso del Cestello to add a women's
section noted that the practice was being carried out by other confraternities.^"^
In 1552 the Company of S. Croce followed suit, and by 1569 the high-born
of Buon Ges�� had also established a consorority.^^ The move to sexual
segregation was confirmed by the episcopal visits of the late-sixteenth cen-
tury; visitors sanctioned separate women's groups, while expressly forbid-

Renaissance et R��forme / 205

ding the confraternity of S. Bernardino from continuing to admit women on
equal terms with men.^^

Over the long term, the new consororities saw a slackening of adherents
and the erosion of their 'enclosure.' Among the two or three generations
following the founders of S. Maria della Piet��, only thirty-eight percent of
members remained active until death. With only the titular office of prioress
open to them, women did not have significantly increased opportunities for
administrative or liturgical responsibility and so eventually returned to the
membership pattern characteristic before the mid-Quattrocento, dropping
away as fast or faster than their male counterparts. Nevertheless, greater
numbers of women gathered in consororities and parish confraternities, and
greater numbers of nuns entered convents; the latter made up 5.4% of the
urban population by 1570, and 7.4% by 1631.^^ These increases can be
credited to the demographic and economic pressures of the later sixteenth
century, which had the additional effect of easing the new consororities'
devotional enclosure and re-introducing the public charitable work charac-
teristic of the earlier era. This charitable emphasis was strongest in the new
parish confraternities and consororities dominated by those of artisanal rank,
but it also affected the high-born, whose take-over of laudesi ospedali had
left them with greatly enlarged social responsibilities. At one end of the social
scale, the artisan women of S. Maria della Carit�� distributed bread to widows
and poor confratelli; at the other, the patrician women of S. Maria del
Baraccano served as Governesses overseeing the confraternal girls' home.^^
In both cases, this ostensibly public role was limited to work compatible with
women's private identity as caretakers of domestic material welfare, and
guardians of religious and moral values.^^

Obedience and order were paramount concerns by the late 1540s. One
historian has noted that, while fifteenth-century confraternities emphasized
devotional community, their sixteenth-century successors emphasized obedi-
ence.^^ Bolognese artisanal women of the Quattrocento, who were accus-
tomed to public worship and charity, were disenfranchised when the men of
their confraternities created new devotional communities around exclusive
patriarchal religious exercises. Yet they could be accommodated under the
rule of obedience that spread in the Cinquecento. This is the opportunity that
Mona Lucia Bolza's demonstration opened up. The origins, composition, and
statutes of the S. Maria della Piet�� confraternity and consorority demonstrate
a subtle but consistent distinction between family patriarchy and social
hierarchy, with the emphasis in obedience on the latter rather than the former.
This adds a new dimension to Joan Kelly's argument that women's segrega-

206 / Renaissance and Reformation

tion into a private, domestic sphere must be seen as men's reaction to the
erosion of their own political power.^^ The papal reconquest of Bologna had
reduced the oligarchy from real to merely deputed power, and led it to base
this power at least in part on its ability to control the women of the city. Thanks
to the oligarchs' preoccupation with consolidating their authority, mid-six-
teenth-century artisan women regained some of the latitude for confraternal
participation that they had earlier lost; yet this participation was limited to the
private and domestic spheres that patrician men found familiar. A lay equiv-
alent of strict enclosure initially limited women's prayers, praise, and service
to their private homes. When the consorelle were finally let out of doors and
allowed to exercise a more active charitable apostolate, it was on the terms
that defined their domestic role and re-inforced the oligarchy's own expand-
ing control over social services.

University ofRegina


Note: Earlier versions of this paper were presented to the Twenty-Second International Confer-
ence on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo: May, 1987) and the Canadian Society for Renaissance
Studies (Windsor: June, 1988).


ASB = Archivio di Stato di Bologna

- Dem = Fondo Demaniale

- Osp = Fondo Ospedale

- PIE = Fondo Pii Istituti Educativi

BBA= Biblioteca Communale dell' Archiginnasio (Bologna)

- Gozz = Fondo Gozzadini

- Osp = Fondo Ospedale

1 Compagnia di S. Maria della Piet��, ASB Dem 10/7696 #3.

2 The women's request to gather under the mantle of Mary reflects the continuing
popularity in Bologna of images of S. Maria della Misericordia. The image of Mary
with outstretched arms sheltering worshippers under her cloak first appeared after the
Bianchi processions of 1399 and reflected a peasant's vision of Mary diverting Christ's
wrath from the world. The images frequently adorned confraternal oratories and statute
books, and reveal how mixed or exclusive their institutional patrons were. Some had
only robed confratelli or men under the Virgin's sheltering robes, but that of the
fifteenth-century Bolognese ospedale of S. Francesco included both men and women,
lay and clerical (BBA Osp 72, c3r).

3 The statutes are written in two voices, with some provisions given as dictates from an
unnamed higher authority to the sisters, and others as resolutions agreed upon by the
sisters themselves. The consorority of SSmo. Crocifisso del Cestello received its 1549
statutes from its male sponsors, while the women of S. Maria della Carit�� had no statutes
at all, in spite of the men's undertaking to write a set for them. Compagnia del SSmo.

Renaissance et R��forme / 207

Crocifisso del Cestello, ASB Dem 1/6378 #10. M. Fanti, 5. Maria d��lia Carit�� in
Bologna (Bologna: 1981), p. 71, n. 39.

4 J. Henderson, "The Flagellant Movement and Flagellant Confraternities in Central Italy,
1260 - 1400," Studies in Church History, 15 (1978), 151. N. Terpstra, "Renaissance
Congregationalism: Organizing Lay Worship in Renaissance Italy," Fides et Historia,
20/3(1988), 31-40.

5 M. Fanti, "Gli inizi del movimento dei disciplinati a Bologna e la confraternita di S.
Maria de 11a Vita," Bolletino della deputazione di storia patria per I'Umbria, 46 (1969),

6 L. Scaramucci, "Considerazioni su statuti e matricole di confraternit�� di disciplinati,"
in Risultate e prospettive della ricerca sul movimento dei disciplinati (Perugia: 1972),
pp. 148-149. G. Alberigo, "Contributi alia storia delle confraternit�� dei disciplinati e
della spiritualit�� laicale nel secc. XV e XVI," in // movimento dei disciplinati nel settimo
centenario dal suo inizio (Spoleto: 1962), p. 193.

7 A provisional census is given in N. Terpstra, "Belief and Worship: Lay Confraternities
in Renaissance Bologna" (Ph.D dissertation: University of Toronto, 1989), pp. 89-91.

8 These were: S. Bartolomeo di Reno; S. Bernardino; Buon Ges��; S. Croce; SSmo.
Crocifisso del Cestello; S. Francesco; S. Maria degli Angeli del Truffailmondo; S. Maria
del Baraccano; S. Maria della Carit��; S. Maria dei Guarini; S. Maria della Piet��;
Compagnia dei Poveri.

9 In a letter to a female correspondent, Damian noted that both men and noble women
eagerly embraced the practice of flagellation as a means of purgation and satisfaction
for sins. Cited in Scaramucci, "Considerazioni su statuti e matricole," p. 178 n. 65.
Damian alluded to contemporary disapproval when mentioning a specific woman by
carefully noting that she was the widow of an upstanding builder and was herself of
some significant standing.

10 G.G. Meersseman, Ordo fraternitatis: confraternit�� e piet�� dei laid nel mondo
medioevo (Rome: 1977), p. 498. Scaramucci, "Considerazioni su statuti e matricole,"
p. 141. An anonymous chronicler of events in the Florentine interdict of 1377 noted that
women beat themselves in the confraternal processions, but this may refer to something
distinctly less dramatic than public flagellation with knotted cords. R. Trexler, The
Spiritual Power: Republican Florence under Interdict (Leiden: 1974), pp. 131 n. 96,

11 Meersseman, Ordo fraternitatis, pp. 500-01. Scaramucci, "Considerazione su statuti
e matricole," p. 141. J.R. Banker, Death in the Community: Memorialization and
Confraternities in an Italian Commune in the Late Middle Ages (Athens, Georgia:
1988), pp. 146-149.

12 None of the Sicilian flagellant confraternities followed the northern practice of admit-
ting women to non-practising membership. S. Maria di Giosafat sponsored a private
oratory, as did two other female groups annexed to it in 1405 and 1436; administering
these private chapels may have been the chief function of the consorority (Meersseman,
Ordo fraternitatis, p. 502).

13 James Banker argues that flagellation was reserved for males as a means of expiating
the guilt arising from their participation in the "morally ambiguous" activities of
commerce, politics, and justice. "Women, sheltered from the new questionable social

208 / Renaissance and Reformation

practices, could not help directly in the expiation through public acts." (Banker, Death
in the Community, p. 149).

14 In Italy generally, women received benefits by virtue of the principle of "one flesh,"
that is, as wives participating in the membership of their husbands. They had no role in
statute composition or revision, no voice in chapter meetings, and no administrative
duties. G. Angelozzi, Le confraternit�� laicali: un esperienza cristiana tra medioevo e
et�� moderna (Brescia: 1978), p. 53. Sixteenth-century Spanish flagellant brotherhoods
also enrolled small numbers of women, but allowed only men to flagellate publicly.
W.A. Ch.nsX\dir\, Local Religion in Sixteenth-Century Spain (Princeton: 1981), p. 189.

15 B. Pullan, Rich and Poor in Renaissance Venice: The Social Institutions of a Catholic
State to 1620, (Cambridge: 1971), p. 42.

16 Female members made sheets for the hostel, and shirts and capes for its needy inmates.
S. Bartolomeo di Reno, ASB PIE 1, cap. 8.

17 The list is incomplete, with the men's list lacking the letters H, R, and Z, and the
women's list lacking T, U/V, and Z. Compagnia di S. Maria dei Guarini, ASB Dem
6/6477. Fanti estimates 1428 membership at 150 men and 140 women: M. Fanti, "La
confraternita di Santa Maria dei Guarini e I'ospedale di San Giobbe in Bologna," in G.
Maioli and G. Roversi (��d.), // Credito Romagnolo fra storia, arte, e tradizione
(Bologna: 1985), pp. 367-369.

18 Of the original 128 men, 116 (90.6%) are noted with a ' + ' in the matriculation list; of
the 120 women, 10 (8.3%) are noted. Of the subsequent 499 men, 132 (26.45%) are
noted; of the 119 women, 17 (14.28%) are noted. Compagnia di S. Maria dei Guarini,
ASB Dem 6/6477.

19 R.F.E. Weissman, Ritual Brotherhood in Renaissance Florence (New York: 1980), pp.

20 From the late fifteenth century, high-born confratelli in both Florence and Venice
avoided flagellation and foot-washing as injurious to their dignity: Weissman, Ritual
Brotherhood, p. 206; Pullan, Rich and Poor, p. 51.

21 Alberigo, "Storia delle confraternit�� dei disciplinati," p. 181. Angelozzi, Le confrater-
nit�� laicali, p 62,

22 On Albergati, P. De Tôth, // Beato Nicola Albergati e i suoi tempi (1375-1444)
(Aquapendente: 1022, 1934).

23 M. Fanti, 5. Maria della Carit��, pp. 32; 39; 71.

24 The late sixteenth-century company historian Alessandro Stiatici, who had joined the
stretta in the 1520's, was unaware of the prior existence of a larga company. A. Stiatici,
Narratione, overo cronicha del principio e fundatione dell'Hospitale di Santo
Bartolomeo di Reno . . . (Bologna: 1590), pp. 20-22.

25 Suppression of confraternities in northern Reformation cities similarly narrowed
women's participation in civic religious, philanthropic, and administrative life, since
the brotherhoods had participated in church and school administration. S.C. Karant-
Nunn, "Continuity and Change: Some Effects of the Reformation on the Women of
Zwickau," Sixteenth Century Journal, 13 (1982), 35-36.

Renaissance et R��forme / 209

26 G. Zarri, "I monasteri femminili a Bologna tra il XII e il XVII secolo,'Mm e memorie
d��lia deputazione di storia patria per le province di Romagna, 24 (1973), 138, 143,

27 For a recent translation of her devotional work for novices, "The Seven Spiritual Arms,"
see J.R. Berrigan, "Saint Catherine of Bologna: Franciscan Mystic," in K.M. Wilson
(ed). Women Writers of the Renaissance and Reformation (Athens, Georgia: 1987), pp.

28 G. Zarri, "L'altra Cecilia: Elena Duglio Dall'Olio (1472-1520)" in S.B. Gajano and L.
Sebastiani (��d.), Culto dei santi, istituzioni, e classi notevoli in eta pre-industriale
(L'Aquila: 1984), pp. 575-613.

29 ". . . the growth of state-organized societies involved a largely successful attempt to
shape kin relations and transfer resources from kin to class-based control." M. Clawson,
"Early Modern Fraternalism and the Patriarchal Family," Feminist Studies, 6 (1982),

30 Fanti, "Santa Maria dei Guarini," pp. 400-404.

31 This process and its development into the Compagnia dei Mendicanti is described in
Terpstra, "Belief and Worship," pp. 293-345.

32 ^eissman. Ritual Brotherhood, pp. 197-201.

33 Some children's discovery of a miracle-working leaden bas reViefpiet�� in 1502 stimu-
lated a popular cult which Bolognese patricians soon controlled by establishing a
confraternity. Twelve laymen were deputed to draw up statutes and construct a suitable
church, whose main altarpiece was painted by the Bentivoglio court painter, Francesco
Francia. Giovanni II, Annibale, Marcantonio, Galeazzo, Alessandro, and Ermes
Bentivoglio were all among the first members. Compagnia di S. Maria della Piet��, ASB
Dem 7/7693 #4: 1, la. G. Guidicini, Cose notabili della citt�� di Bologna, III (Bologna:
1868), p. 313.

34 N.Z. Davis, "Women on Top," in Society and Culture in Early Modern France
(Stanford: 1975), p. 142.

35 Frequent repetitions of the Pater and Ave made up most of the devotions, together with
mental confession at bedtime and frequent attendance at Mass. Compagnia di S. Maria
della Piet��, ASB Dem 10/7696 #3, cap. 6. Sick members were visited by the Prioress,
and the dead were dressed in flagellant's robes to signify their connection with the men's
company before being accompanied to the sepulchre by their sisters. Ibid., cap. 8. On
monthly meetings, cap. 3.

36 For the relevant section from the 1495 statutes of the Roman Confraternity del
Gonfalone, see A. Esposito, "Le 'confraternit��' del Gonfalone (secoli XIV-XV),"
Ricerche per la storia religiosa di Roma, 5 (1984), 130. For the 1539 statutes of SS.
Sacramento di S. Maria sopra Minerva, see G. Barbiero, Le confraternit�� del SSmo.
Sacramento prima del 1539 (Treviso: 1944), p. 283.

37 The original statutes make no mention of discipline, but a revised set issued in 1534 or
1537 includes the exercise. BBA Gozz 206 #8, cap. 9.

38 Confraternal election procedures were always contentious and frequently gave rise to
charges of corruption. The women of S. Maria della Piet�� elected their prioress by
written ballot submitted to male scrutineers. This may have limited the electorate to

210 / Renaissance and Reformation

literate members, and made male manipulation of the vote far easier. Compagnia di S.
Maria della Piet��, ASB Dem 10/7696 #3, cap. 2.

39 This is one of the few substantial changes in the 1600 revision of the women's statutes:
Compagnia di S. Maria della Piet��, ASB Dem 10/7696 #4. The Company of SSmo.
Crocifisso del Cestello followed the Roman model more closely by appointing the
women's Governor from the start. Compagnia di SSmo. Crocifisso del Cestello, ASB
Dem 1/6378 #10/3.

40 Compagnia di S. Maria della Piet��, ASB Dem 10/7696 #3, Cap. 1.

41 Twelve of the seventy-one women joining from 1547 to 1550 were related to ten men
of the male group. Of the ten men, six do not remain active in S. Maria della Piet�� until
death; the two men who have both a wife and a daughter in the women 's group do remain
until death. Ibid.; BBA Gozz 206 #8.

42 The exact percentages are 38.23% of S. Bernardino women and 30.76% of S.
Bartolomeo di Reno women. Reversing the question, 15.85% of S. Bernardino men and
2.03% of S. Bartolomeo men were related to female members. Compagnia di S.
Bernardino, ASB Dem 8/7639 #1. Compagnia di S. Bartolomeo di Reno, ASB PIE #1.

43 Their sisters in the Roman Confraternity del Gonfalone had to submit all applicants to
the men's company for investigation and approval. Esposito, "Le 'confraternit��' del
Gonfalone," p. 129.

44 A remarkably similar case of men opening their confraternity to women during a time
when authority was under threat occurred in Florence in 1377. With the city under an
interdict, the only organized religious service open to the laity was through the con-
fraternities, and the men of S. Zanobio were besieged with appeals from women seeking
entry to the company and its spiritual benefits; they and many others complied with the
request. Trexler, Spiritual Power, p. 131.

45 Morone was an early advocate of the spiritualist work, // B��n��ficia di Crista; among
the charges in his 1557 prosecution for heresy was the claim that while Governor in
Bologna he had guaranteed Protestants immunity from prosecution and allowed German
Lutheran students to profess their faith publicly. G. Brown, Italy and the Reformatian
to 1550 (Oxford: 1933), pp. 269-273. Massimo Firpo and Dario Marcatto are currently
producing a five-volume critical edition of records relating to Morone's prosecution
under the title, // pracessa inquisitor iale del Cardinal Giovanni Morone. Edizione
critica (Rome: 1981-).

46 A. Battistella, US. Ufficio e la riforma religiosa a Bologna (Bologna: 1905), pp. 26-28.

47 The eight were freed after a year because of the death of Paul III (November, 1549).
Battistella, IIS. Ufficio, p. 27.

48 Dominican friar Leandro Alberti headed the new tribunal. G. Brown, Italy and the
Reformation to 1550 (Oxford: 1933), p. 199.

49 In 1572, Carlo Borromeo "won" them monastic status and strict enclosure. Catholic
Encyclopedia I (New York: 1907), pp. 481-482. R.P. Liebowitz, "Virgins in the Service
of Christ: The Dispute over an Active Apostolate for Women during the Catholic
Reformation," in R. Ruether and E. McLaughlin (��d.). Women of Spirit: Female
Leadership in the Jewish and Christian Traditions (New York: 1979), p. 135-138.

Renaissance et R��forme / 211

50 H.O. Evennett, "The New Orders," in G.R. Elton (��d.), The New Cambridge Modem
History, Vol. II: The Reformation, 1520-1559 (Cambridge: 1958), pp. 288-290.

51 The Fifth Decree on Regulars in Session XXV imposed strict enclosure on all female
religious; it was reinforced by Pius V's 1566 Edict Circa Pastoralis. Liebowitz,
"Virgins in the Service of Christ," p. 140.

52 Gabriella Zarri sees this as a politically-motivated appeal by an oligarchy in the process
of consolidating its authority. Zarri, "Monasteri femminili," pp. 143-144.

53 The Protestant city council of Zwickau also saw independent religious expression by
women as a social threat, and in 1529 used exile to break up a local evangelical women's
group whose members met for preaching and prayer. Karant-Nunn, "Women of
Zwickau," pp. 39-40.

54 Compagnia di SSmo. Crocifisso del Cestello, ASB Dem 20/6397 c.33 (20/10/1549).

55 Compagnia di Buon Ges��, BBA Gozz 203 #8. Compagnia della S. Croce, ASB Dem
3/6669, ii, iii.

56 In the Episcopal Visit of 1593, the Company of S. Bernardino was expressly forbidden
from continuing to include female members. ASB 8/7639 #2.

57 The actual numbers in 1570 were 2,198 nuns in an urban population of 61,742. G. Zarri,
"Monasteri femminili," p. 144.

58 Three governesses were drawn monthly from the body of Baraccano consorelle to
supervise the entry and deportment of orphaned and 'vulnerable' girls. They were
assisted by three confratelli and their own chaplain: Compagnia di S. Maria del
Baraccano, ASB PIE 561, c.93; ASB PIE 563, c.7. Fanti, 5. Maria della Carit��, p. 50;
71 n.39.

59 J.C. Brown, "A Women's Place was in the Home: Women's Work in Renaissance
Tuscany," in M.W. Ferguson et al (ed). Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourses of
Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe (Chicago: 1986), pp. 215-216. D. Willen,
"Women in the Public Sphere in Early Modern England: The Case of the Urban Working
Foot," Sixteenth Century Journal, 19 (1988), 565-573. M. Wiesner, "Women's Defense
of their Public Role," in M.B. Rose (ed). Women in the Middle Ages and the Renais-
sance: Literary and Historical Perspectives (Syracuse: 1986), pp. 5-6.

60 Weissman, Ritual Brotherhood, p. 219.

61 J. Kelly, "Did Women Have a Renaissance?," Women, History, and Theory (Chicago:
1984), pp. 41-47. In a recent article, Diane Willen argues that women's participation
in poor relief "questions or, at the least, severely qualifies the very existence of separate
private/public spheres in the early modern period," but this is only on the narrowest
interpretation of the spheres; her study confirms that women involved in poor relief
were little more than the deputed mothers of social paternalism. Willen, "Women in the
Public Sphere," p. 559.

212 / Renaissance and Reformation

Appendix A


The Table below gives the absolute numbers and relative percentages of male and female
membership in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century confraternities. Statistics are taken from con-
fraternal matriculation lists. "Original Members" are. those inscribed when the list was begun,
and "Added Members" are those who joined the confraternity through the life of the matriculation


Bartolomeo di Reno






[1471-ca. 1510]



[ 6.2%]


[ 7.33%]







[1454-ca. 1570]






Maria del Baraccano






[1518-mid XVI]






Maria della Carit��






[1399-ca. 1530]






Maria dei Guarini






[1428-ca. 1530]






SOURCES: S. Bartolomeo di Reno, ASB PIE #1; S. Bernardino, ASB Dem 8/7639 #1; S. Maria
del Baraccano, ASB Osp #3b; S. Maria della Carit��, ASB Dem 4/7673 #1; S. Maria dei Guarini,
ASB Dem 6/6477.

Appendix B


The Table below gives the percentage of males and females who remained members in good
standing at the time of death. Statistics are drawn from those confraternal matriculation lists that
doubled as Books of the Dead. As with Appendix A, "Original Members" are those inscribed
when the list was begun, and "Added Members" are those who joined the confraternity through
the life of the matriculation list.


S. Bartolomeo di Reno




[1471-ca. 1510]




S. Bernardino




[1454-ca. 1570]




S. Maria del Baraccano








S. Maria della Carit��




[1399-ca. 1530]




S. Maria dei Guarini




[1428-ca. 1530]




SOURCES: See Appendix A

Marsile Ficin et Herm��s Trism��giste
Quelques notes sur la traduction du
Pimandre dans la Vulgata de Ficin.


J^orsqu'on ��voque Marsile Ficin traducteur, c'est principalement aux oeu-
vres de Platon que l'on pense. Bien qu'il ait bâti un syst��me philosophique
reposant sur la synth��se du n��oplatonisme et de la foi chr��tienne, son vrai
titre de gloire est celui qui fait de lui un messager: grâce �� ses traductions,
le monde savant red��couvrira une philosophie grecque qui pendant des
si��cles s'��tait effac��e devant celle d'Aristote. Elle prendra d��sormais une
part de plus en plus importante dans l'histoire de la pens��e.

Mais Ficin n'a pas traduit que Platon. Nous poss��dons de lui des traductions
de Plotin, Proclus, Porphyre, lamblique et autres n��oplatoniciens, et
��galement des textes qui pour lui sont des r��v��lations d'anciens sages,
pr��curseurs de l'enseignement platonicien. Il n'est besoin de citer que quel-
ques phrases de son introduction au Pimandre, pour se convaincre de sa foi
en l'existence d'une transmission de la vraie sagesse.

"[Mercurius Trismegistus] Primus igitur Theologiae appellatus est autor.
eum secutus Orpheus, secundas antiquae Theologiae partes obtinuit. Orphei
sacris initiatus est Aglaophemus. Aglaophemo successit in Theologia Pytha-
goras, quem Philolaus sectatus est, divi Platonis nostri praeceptor."^

Ces sages-philosophes n'ont pas tous la m��me importance aux yeux de
Ficin. Certains sont souvent cit��s, textuellement ou non; d'autres ont droit ��
une traduction int��grale. C'est ainsi que nous pouvons lire tout le texte latin
du Corpus Hermeticum, que Ficin nomme "Pimander" d'apr��s le nom du
premier trait��.

Dans une pr��c��dente ��tude,^ nous avons minutieusement examin�� les
diverses citations d'Orph��e et de Zoroastre contenues dans la Th��ologie
platonicienne. Travaillant dans le cadre d'une comparaison avec d'autres
traductions du m��me texte grec, nous avons pu arriver �� des conclusions
significatives sur la m��thode de Ficin dans sa traduction: d'une façon suivie,

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 3 (1990) 213

214 / Renaissance and Reformation

il tronque souvent les phrases ou en choisit les fragments qui l'int��ressent
particuli��rement dans le cours de son argumentation. D'autre part, le sens
original des mots grecs est souvent chang��, intentionnellement ou non, ou
bien encore le concept latin utilis�� dans le nouveau contexte entraîne des
connotations diff��rentes de celles de l'original grec.

L'objet de cet article est d'��tudier la traduction de Ficin dans le Corpus
Hermeticum. Ici, nous avons affaire �� une situation diff��rente: Ficin ne
rapporte plus de citations isol��es, c'est une traduction int��grale, �� partir d'un
manuscrit grec que nous savons avoir ��t�� entre ses mains: mieux, c'est une
traduction ex��cut��e �� la demande de Cosme de Medicis, int��ress�� par ce
nouveau manuscrit. La m��thode de Ficin sera-t-elle affect��e par le fait d'une
traduction int��grale? C'est ce que nous voulons tenter de mettre en lumi��re.

Les faits entourant l'ex��cution de ce travail nous sont connus^ Ce manuscrit
��tant parvenu de Mac��doine aux mains de Cosme, il demanda �� Ficin de
retarder sa traduction de Platon, pour entreprendre celle beaucoup plus courte
d'Herm��s. Ficin s'attela au travail avec l'enthousiasme d'un n��ophyte. Cette
traduction ��tait la premi��re qu'il effectuait, et comme nous le verrons par la
suite, ce point se r��v��lera ��tre important.'*

Nous savons que le manuscrit grec sur lequel il basait sa traduction, (Cod.
Laur. 71,33) appartenait au type A d��crit par Reitzenstein,^ mais tous les
manuscrits suivent plus ou moins le m��me arch��type. Nous nous proposons
toutefois de collationner dans un proche avenir le manuscrit grec, pour relever
les diff��rences qui pourraient ��tre signficatives.

En ce qui concerne le texte latin lui-m��me, nous suivons l'��dition des Opera
Omnia faite �� Bale, en 1576. Cette ��dition est relativement tardive et comporte
beaucoup d'erreurs dues aux copistes ou aux imprimeurs. Pour avoir une id��e
de l'infid��lit�� de cette version par rapport �� la traduction originale de Ficin,
il faut se reporter �� la note de M. Purnell,^ o�� celui-ci montre de façon
convaincante que le texte de Ficin a ��t�� modifi��, probablement mal recopi�� ��
certains endroits.*^ La traduction italienne de Tommaso Benci fid��le repro-
duction du latin, reconstitue, quand il y a doute, les termes originaux de Ficin.
Suivant ces directives, nous avons effectivement retrouv�� des erreurs dues
aux copistes, mais qui peuvent avoir parfois une influence tout �� fait in-
nattendue sur la r��ception du texte.^ Une ��tude de cette traduction ne peut
donc ��tre compl��te si elle ne se base sur les manuscrits et sur les premi��res
��ditions de Tr��vise et Ferrare, plus exactes que celle de Bale, que l'on peut
consid��rer comme un "Vulgata". Ceci n'est donc qu'un premier travail que
nous comptons approfondir dans un stade ult��rieur.

Renaissance et R��forme / 215

Les remarques qui vont suivre ne concernent que le premier trait�� du
Pimandre — un des plus longs et des plus importants — o�� figure toute une
cosmogonie et encore bien d'autres ��l��ments philosophiques. Ce ne sont que
des notes pr��liminaires, mais il semble bien que nous retrouvions une ten-
dance ficinienne connue, analogue �� celle que nous avons d��couverte dans
les textes pr��c��demment ��tudi��s.

Il nous faut cependant garder �� l'esprit ce que d��crit si bien F. Yates^
lorsqu'elle analyse le Pimandre de Ficin. Nous savons, nous, modernes, que
ces textes païens sont apocryphes, mais pour comprendre l'impact r��el qu'ils
ont eu sur les ��rudits de la Renaissance et sur Ficin en particulier, n'oublions
pas que ces derniers croyaient en leur authenticit��, ce qui influençait la
compr��hension qu'ils en avaient. Dans certains passages du Pimandre, le
rapprochement avec des th��mes bibliques et chr��tiens est parfois si saisissant
que l'on peut imaginer sans effort l'enthousiasme de Ficin �� les traduire.
Pouvait-il r��ver meilleure preuve de l'��vidence de sa foi?

Avant d'aborder l'��tude de la traduction elle-m��me, il nous faut d'abord
��liminer les erreurs dues au copiste. Le paragraphe dix-sept nous offre un bon
exemple de ce que peut provoquer l'inattention d'un copiste: Le mythe
raconte ici que 'l'Homme de vie et lumi��re qu'il ��tait, se changea en âme et
en intellect, la vie se changeant en âme, la lumi��re en intellect. '^^

G ô�� AvOtcojio/ek ^(jofi/KaL ((xoTÔf eYevexo et/ij^i^x^v kql voîjv ��k pi��v
^a)f[/ \j^DXr|v, EK ÔE (|)a)T��/ VOÎJV.

et le latin nous dit: "Non autem ex vita et luce in animam, mortemque
processit, vita quippe animam largita est, lux denique mortem." Il n'y a pas
ici de raison ��vidente pour laquelle Ficin introduirait la notion de mort qui ne
peut se rattacher au contexte. Si nous consultons la traduction italienne de T.
Benci �� cet endroit, l'on trouve: "Ma l'huomo da la vita e da la luce, procedette
in anima e in mente. Certo da la vita ricevette l'anima, e da la luce la mente".
Voila la traduction fid��le d'apr��s laquelle nous pouvons remonter �� l'original.
Ficin avait bien compris et avait certainement ��crit "mentem". Mais cette
erreur a ��t�� reprise par les ��ditions successives, sans m��me y pr��ter attention.
Il y a plusieurs autres cas de ce genre. Pour ne citer que le premier trait�� du
Corpus Hermeticum, nous lisons au paragraphe cinq: "ex hac luminis voce
verbum factum prodiit". Il est bien ��vident ici que nous avons une erreur en
ce qui concerne le mot ayio/; Benci traduit: "Si manifesto il Verbo Santo".
C'est donc 'sanctum' la traduction originale de Ficin.

216 / Renaissance and Reformation

Au paragraphe vingt-trois, nous lisons 'peccatum examinât', qui ne va pas
avec le contexte. C'est bien entendu 'exanimat' qui est la vraie leçon. Benci
traduit: 'esanima'.

Au paragraphe vingt-six, Trjv OYÔoaxLKrjV (j)i)aLV est traduit par 'ad
optatam naturam.' La vraie leçon est sûrement 'octavam', car Benci traduit:
"salendo ritorna a la ottava natura", ce qui correspond au grec. Il est �� supposer
que l'��tude des autres trait��s multipliera la d��couverte de ce genre d'erreurs.

Il semble que l'on puisse d��terminer distinctement deux types d'erreurs de
traduction assez caract��ristiques de Ficin dans ce texte. D'une part, certaines
de ces erreurs d��coulent d'un manque de compr��hension; le texte est obscur
en grec, mal compris de Ficin, et par l��-m��me mal traduit. D'autre part, sa foi
chr��tienne l'influence ��galement. Dans certains cas, il comprend de façon
chr��tienne ce qui ne l'est pas; dans d'autres, il omet tout simplement ce qui
lui semble ne pas convenir �� un texte chr��tien.

D��s les premiers paragraphes, l'on aperçoit que Ficin tend �� raccourcir les
phrases, �� oublier certains termes. Est ici d��crite la r��v��lation d'un maître ��
son disciple: souvent Ficin ne saura pas d��partager les r��pliques qui
appartiennent �� Herm��s de celles qui doivent ��tre attribu��es �� Pimandre. Il
peut changer la personne du verbe, m��me le temps. Ainsi il traduira

oTÔa ô pÔD>^eL, Kai at^vEi^iL aoi jravxaxoîj

par "ac tu vide quid velis, ipse vero tibi ubique adero."^^ Pour rendre le
terme oTôa, il se sert de la racine opaco, et donc traduira par 'videre'^^. Peu
apr��s, Pimandre recommande �� Herm��s de bien pr��parer ses questions:

EX£ vc5 ac5 ooa GeXeiJ ^aÔElv Kayw oe ôiô��Çco^-^

"Garde bien dans ton intellect tout ce que tu veux apprendre, et moi, je
t'instruirai." Ficin traduit: "Tua me mente complectere et ego te in cunctis
quae optaris erudiam". Il a transform�� l'unique proposition du texte grec en
deux propositions juxtapos��es et surtout il a rajout�� un ��l��ment de traduction,
qui �� notre sens, n'y ��tait pas. Le pronom 'me' n'est pas dans le texte grec.
De plus, le sens de 'complectere' peut ��galement ��tre "embrasser par amour".
Ne pourrait-il s'agir ici d'une image philosophique, d'un embrassement
mystique, le dieu s'unissant d'amour au fid��le, et l'initiant aux myst��res?

Nous ��tions d��j�� habitu��s dans nos travaux pr��c��dents �� rencontrer des
exemples de cette libert�� de Ficin par rapport �� l'original. Il s'agissait alors
en g��n��ral d'un changement d��lib��r��. Mais ici, nous nous posons la question:
de savoir quelle ��tait l'exp��rience de Ficin comme traducteur �� l'��poque o��

Renaissance et R��forme / 217

nous nous trouvons, c'est-��-dire en 1463? Il en est encore �� ses d��buts comme
hell��niste. Poss��dant de solides bases de grec, il ne s'y est remis s��rieusement
que relativement tard, �� la demande de son m��c��ne, Cosme de Medicis.^^ En
1463, lorsqu'il traduit Herm��s, il est encore loin de la maîtrise souhait��e. Nous
devrons attendre encore vingt ans pour d��couvrir ses traductions de Platon,
pour lesquelles nous savons d'ailleurs qu'il fut aid�� par certains de ses
coll��gues. ^^ Dans ces derniers textes, sa traduction est certainement plus
ais��e; �� l'inverse, pour notre part, nous croyons que la traduction ôuPimandre
est l'oeuvre d'un d��butant, et que c'est au moins une des raisons qui lui font
commettre tant d'erreurs.

Le paragraphe quatre en est truff��: il est vrai que le texte grec est difficile,
obscur �� la fois sur le plan du vocabulaire et sur celui du contenu. Nous lisons
ici une description du chaos originel et de la s��paration entre la lumi��re et
l'obscurit��. La syntaxe n'est absolument pas respect��e; les expressions sont
mal traduites ou incomprises. Par exemple, il rend ^l��xpixoij Jtupô/par
"mediam reginem inter ignem", ce qui est assez loin du grec. L'impression
est ici que Ficin, ayant peine �� comprendre les d��tails du texte, s'efforce de
donner au moins un sens g��n��ral au paragraphe.

Au paragraphe huit, Ficin s'engage de nouveau dans un faux sens:
Pimandre explique �� Herm��s: "Tu as vu dans le Nous la forme arch��type, le
pr��principe ant��rieur au commencement sans fin."^^

eTôe/ ��v xô) vô) TO apxÉTUJiov eTôoJ, to Jipoapxov Tr\f ��pxûf Tf[f

Ficin traduit: "Vidisti in mente primam speciem infinito imperio
praevalentem". Tout d'abord, Ficin transforme une phrase affirmative en
interrogative sans raison apparente. Ensuite, il comprend le mot apxr) dans
son sens de 'imperium'.^^ De m��me pour jipôapxoj: "praevalens", dans le
sens de sup��riorit�� et non d'ant��riorit��. Or le texte grec est ici tr��s clair. Il y
est question de la gen��se du monde, de l'arch��type de l'univers qui n'est pas
encore cr����. Le mot apxil dans le sens de commencement est ��galement le
premier mot de la Bible, et certainement connu de Ficin. ^^ Comment a-t-il pu
ne pas voir cette signification ��vidente? Il est difficile de l'expliquer, sinon
en invoquant son inexp��rience, et peut-��tre aussi le manque de temps; il a
traduit Herm��s en quelques mois seulement: rude d��but pour un traducteur.

Au paragraphe quinze, �� la suite du mythe de la cr��ation de l'homme, la
double nature humaine est ��tablie: l'homme est mortel de par son corps et

218 / Renaissance and Reformation

immortel de par son âme. Suit une phrase explicative, ��quilibr��e de la m��me
façon que la pr��c��dente.

aB��vaxo/ycip (bv Kai jiavxwv tt^v e|ouaiav ��xwv, x�� Qvryz�� n��cr/J^i
DjioK��i^evo/xrf einap^��vTi

"Bien qu'il soit immortel en effet, et qu'il ait pouvoir sur toutes choses, il
subit la condition des mortels, soumis, comme il l'est �� la Destin��e. "^^

Mais curieusement, Ficin ne voit pas la similarit�� des ces deux phrases
successives. Ce n'est pas l'homme qui est soumis �� la Destin��e et mortel,
ce sont les autres cr��atures vivantes: "Immortalis enim est, cunctorumque
arbitrium obtinet; caetera vero viventia quae mortalia sunt, fato subjecta
patiuntur." Ficin ne veut-il voir que l'immortalit�� de l'âme, ou bien n'a-t-il
pas compris le texte? Sur le plan grammatical, sa traduction ne se tient en
aucune façon. Le manuscrit qu'il poss��dait contenait le mot ujioKeL^ieva.
Mais m��me ainsi, le sens qu'il donne est impossible: si r�� 6vr)T�� est le
sujet, quel est l'objet? C'est d'ailleurs ainsi qu'il transcrit sa phrase latine;
nous avons 'patiuntur' sans objet. De plus, il juge utile de rajouter le terme
'viventia' qui n'existe pas dans le grec. Tout ceci donnerait plutôt �� penser
que le texte est mal compris et ainsi, mal traduit. La phrase suivante ne
change pas cette impression: elle commence par un 'non igitur' qui n'y a
que faire, et ne correspond pas au grec.

Le paragraphe vingt est, nous semble-t-il, le plus d��concertant du point de
vue de la traduction, non pas tant �� cause du contenu plus ou moins bien rendu,
mais surtout �� cause de la r��partition des r��pliques.

"Trismeg. Quot tamen delinquunt, ignorantes, inquam, ut ob eam causam
immortalitate priventur? Pimand. Videris o Mercuri non satis intelligere quae
audieris. Trism. Etsi nondum intelligere sim professus, intelligo tamen ac
memini. Pimand. Gratular si quae dicta sunt, tenes. Trism. Responde mihi
quaeso. Pimander, cur digni morte sint ii, qui in morte jacent? Pim. Quia
praecessit proprio corpori tristis umbra, ex hac quidem natura humida, ex hac
vero corpus in mundo sensibili constitit, ex hoc denique mors ipsa scaturiit.
Num hoc tenes Mercuri?"

Ficin coupe, enl��ve, rajoute, et change la logique des phrases telle qu'elle
existait dans le texte grec. Par exemple, otjk ��(^r\v ooi voiÈiv^^ est la suite
de rjKouoa/, mais Ficin attribue cette r��plique �� Herm��s. Il traduit odk par
'etsi' qui introduit donc une subordonn��e concessive avec une nouvelle
principale. Ainsi de suite. Il continue �� r��partir les diff��rentes phrases, jusqu'��

Renaissance et R��forme / 219

arriver �� faire poser une question �� Pimandre par Herm��s, alors que c'est en
fait le contraire: nous assistons ici �� un dialogue entre le maître et l'��l��ve, et
le premier fait r��p��ter la leçon apprise au second. Il doit reprendre les termes
d��j�� ��nonc��s: EiJi�� [iol dit-il, reprends ta leçon. Attribuer cette r��plique ��
Herm��s est d'autant moins logique qu'il « d��j�� pos�� cette question au d��but
du paragraphe. D'ailleurs, d��s les lignes suivantes, le maître approuve la
bonne r��ponse." 8vôr|aa/op6co/ ^^

Le paragraphe six est part importante de la doctrine herm��tique et donc d'un
int��r��t primordial pour Ficin. Le maître enseigne �� son disciple: La lumi��re est
Dieu, Nous, et le Verbe issu de la lumi��re, est le fils de Dieu: "Sic inquit: cogita,
quod in te videt, et audit Verbum Domini, mens autem pater Deus."

Cette derni��re id��e est assez r��pandue dans le monde hell��nistique. Mais
la suite est plus confuse: Par analogie, l'on peut comprendre "Ce qui en toi
voit et entend, est le Verbe du Seigneur, et le Nous est le Dieu P��re."^^

Dans une discussion passionnante, dont nous ne donnons pas ici les d��tails,
C.H. Dodd^^ analyse tous les ��l��ments philosophiques de ce texte et en arrive ��
la conclusion que les termes Kupiôv et 9eo/ sont des interpolations
chr��tiennes. Nous aurions donc ici le logos de l'homme qui est rejeton de son
esprit (mens) de m��me que le Verbe cr��ateur est le fils du Nous ��temel. Mais
pour Ficin, il n'y avait pas de doute sur l'authenticit�� du texte. Avec ferveur, il
apporte ici un t��moignage chr��tien et traduira "verbum Domini" et "Pater Deus".

Plus loin, nous voyons de nouveau Ficin pris au pi��ge de son enthousiasme:
l'Homme et la Nature, unis d'amour, cr��ent sept hommes correspondant aux
natures des sept gouverneurs (sph��res du syst��me solaire) Pimandre explique
�� Herm��s "l'homme avait en lui la nature de l'assemblage des sept, compos��s
je t'ai dit, de feu et de souffle. "^"^ Le texte du manscrit de Ficin comporte
EK jtaxpô/Kal jivEiJ^iaTo/ corrig�� d��j�� par Patruzzi en nvpof, ce qui est
bien plus logique, la nature des gouverneurs nous ��tant d��j�� d��crite
pr��c��demment au paragraphe neuf, comme ��tant de feu et de souffle. Mais
Ficin n'a pas vraiment r��fl��chi au sens: pouvait-ir r��sister �� la tentation de
traduire: "...nam cum septem illorum harmonia ipse jam fuisset imbutus ab
eo, quem tibi paulo ante nsinavi, pâtre videlicet atque spiritu, natura ipsa non
restitit."? Nous voyons encore l�� le signe d'un manque de r��flexion.

Pour finir cette d��monstration, nous nous contenterons d'indiquer deux
derniers points int��ressants:

Au paragraphe vingt-six, lorsque Pimandre d��crit l'ascension de l'homme
vers le P��re, il parle longuement des Puissances qui accueillent l'âme de
l'homme parmi elles et qui ensemble "entrent en Dieu". Nulle part dans le
texte de Ficin, il n'est fait mention de ces Puissances ôuva^Eif. Ficin

220 / Renaissance and Reformation

supprime cette partie, probablement un peu trop païenne �� son goût. Supprimer
les phrases embarrassantes est donc une solution au probl��me. Nous retrouvons
cette m��me attitude au paragraphe vingt-neuf: les nouveaux fid��les c��l��brent
Dieu et "ils furent nourris de l'eau d'ambroisie".^^ Ficin traduit: "Sapientiae
sermones illorum auribus infundebam, quo factum est, ut illi ex imbrium procellis
emerserint." C'est une image po��tique, mais d'ambroisie, point. Il faut supposer
que Ficin ne peut introduire une image si typiquement mythologique dans sa
traduction. Ceci nous montre de nouveau �� quel point il ne peut ��tre un traducteur
r��ellement ind��pendant de son ��ducation chr��tienne.

Nous n'avons donn�� dans les pr��c��dentes pages que les exemples les plus
frappants de ce trait��. On pourrait ais��ment les multiplier, mais leur relation
en deviendrait fastidieuse. Il semble que, m��me dans un texte relativement
court, l'on puisse d��j�� avoir une notion de ce que nous pourrons d��couvrir en
��tudiant de façon analogue les trait��s suivants de Corpus Hermeticum.

Ficin n'est pas un traducteur litt��ral. Sur le plan de la syntaxe et de l'ordre
des mots, il est loin de respecter l'original grec. Il ne tente m��me pas de rendre
le rythme de la phrase grecque. Cela en soi ne serait pas une erreur, si ce
n'��tait ��galement aux d��pens du sens. C'est justement ce qu'il nous faut
comprendre. Ficin est un philosophe qui ne voit d'autre possibilit�� d'��largir
ses propres connaissances et celles des autres qu'en traduisant. Sa
compr��hension est guid��e par une foi chr��tienne, qui, malgr�� son intelligence
et son ouverture d'esprit, lui fait �� l'occasion manquer �� sa tâche et trahir le
texte original. Parfois, comme nous l'avons vu dans le cas de citations
traduites, c'est dans l'intention d'introduire son propre argument
philosophique et d'y ajouter le poids d'une autorit�� reconnue, mais m��me
dans le cas d'un texte suivi, il n'��chappe pas �� cette tendance personnelle.

Il nous semble qu'�� propos du Pimandre, d'autres ��l��ments entrent enjeu:
travaillant �� sa premi��re traduction importante, il a peu de temps �� sa
disposition et peu d'exp��rience. Tout ceci se combine pour donner une
traduction inexacte, mais une traduction tout de m��me. Vers la fin du discours,
lorsque Ficin traduit l'eulogie en latin, l'on pourrait presque croire �� une
pri��re chr��tienne. Son enthousiasme fut certainement ressenti par ses lecteurs:
ainsi qu'il le sera plus tard pour Platon, il fut r��ellement le propagateur de ces
textes herm��tiques parmi les savants de la Renaissance. Peut-��tre son ��poque,
qui vivait le renouveau mais aussi une synth��se originale des valeurs
culturelles de l'antiquit��, ��tait-elle la plus apte �� recevoir le message mys-
tique, symbole d'un syncr��tisme religieux, qu'apportait Herm��s Trism��giste.

Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Renaissance et R��forme / 221


1 M. Ficino, Opera Omnia, Bale, 1576. Reproduction photographique: Turin, 1959, II,
p. 1836. "Argumentum Marsilii Ficini Florentini in librum Mercurii Trismegisti.

2 I. Klutstein, Marsile Ficin et la th��ologie ancienne, Oracles chaldaïques-Hymnes
orphiques-Hymnes de Proclus, Florence, L.S. Olschki, 1987.

3 cf. P.O. Kristeller, Supplementum Ficinianum, I, CXXIX, et ��galement K.H. Dannenfeldt,
dans Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum, ��d. P.O. Kristeller, I, pp. 138-139.

4 cfp.7.

5 R. Reitzenstein, Poimandres, Leipzig, 1904, et voir discussion sur l'histoire du texte
ôâns Herm��s Trism��giste, tome I, Paris, les Belles-lettres, ��d. Nock et Festugi��re, 1972,
pp. XI-LIII. Nous nous r��f��rons �� cette ��dition ainsi qu'�� l'excellente traduction du
texte grec tout au long de cette ��tude.

6 F. Purnell Jr, "Hermes and the Sybil: a note on Ficino's Pimander," Renaissance
Quarterly, 30 (1977), pp. 305-310.

7 voir les arguments critiques contre Ficin se basant sur une fausse tradition du texte, F.
Purnell, op.cit.

8 T. Benci, il Pimandro di Mercurio Trismegisto, Firenze, 1549.

9 F. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic tradition, Londres, 1964. ch. II, pp. 20-43.
Dans son analyse, Mme Yates prend en consid��ration les "Commentaires" qui suivent
la traduction apr��s chaque trait��. Suivant ici la th��se tr��s convaincante de P.O. Kristeller,
nous consid��rerons que ceux-ci ne sont pas de Ficin. cf. Suppl. Fie, I, CXXX, et Studies
in Renaissance Thought and Letters, Rome, 1984, pp. 221-248.

10 ��d. Festugi��re, I. 17, 1. 20-21.

11 ��d. Festugi��re, 1,2,1.10.

12 La m��me traduction se retrouve dans les Hymnes Orphiques (59) Ficin traduit oTôe par
"inspicit". Mais �� cet endroit, la vue et la conscience sont prises dans le m��me sens,
dans le cadre d'un chapitre o�� les mots "videt" et "intuetur" reviennent souvent, cf. I.
Klutstein, op. cit. p. 30.

13 ��d. Festugi��re, 1,3,1.14

14 A propos des connaissances de Ficin en grec, on peut avoir un aperçu du sujet dans R.
Marcel, Marsile Ficin, Paris, les Belles-Lettres, 1958, pp.' 243-250.

15 cf. J. Hankins: "Some remarks on the history and character of Ficino's translation of
Plato" dans G.C. Garfagnini ed. Marsilio Ficino e il ritorno di Platone, Studi e
Documenti, Florence, L.S. Olschki, 1986, 1, pp. 288-297.

16 ��d. Festugi��re, 1,8,1.10-11.

17 Dans le lexique grec-latin, ��dit�� par R. Pintaudi, Rome, 1977, nous trouvons ��galement
pour apxn les termes latins suivants: "Magistratus, Principatus, Principium" mais
aucun autre sens.

18 cf. CH. Dodd, The Bible and the Greeks, Londres, 1934, pp. 108-112.

19 ��d. Festugi��re, 1,15,1. 20-22.

20 ��d. Festugi��re, 1,20.1.20

21 ��d. Festugi��re, 1,21,1.26.

222 / Renaissance and Reformation

22 ��d. Festugi��re, 1,6,1.18-20.

23 C.H. Dodd, op. cit. pp. 118-119. Plusieurs solutions diff��rentes ont ��t�� propos��es par
les divers chercheurs, pour ��claircir le passage, mais celle sugg��r��e par Dodd semble
la plus logique.

24 ��d. Festugi��re, 1,16.1.8.

25 ��d. Festugi��re, 1,29,1.8-10.

"Sparkes Of Holy Things": Neostoicism
And The English Protestant Conscience



arious commentators have noticed a linkage of the Stoic revival in
England with the rise of Protestantism. In the words of Philip A. Smith, "The
great web of English Protestantism had been woven partly of Stoic threads.
Hooker and Taylor, Milton, the Cambridge Platonists, Barrow, Tillotson,
and many other Christian humanists adopted and exploited fully the basic
Stoic concept of 'right reason,' the recta ratio which had long since been
incorporated into Christian thought by early Fathers of the Church like
Lactantius, Jerome and Tertullian."^ And Rudolph Kirk has pointed out how
the translation of Stoic works "seemed to accompany and follow the Refor-
mation." Most of the English translators of the classical Stoic and continental
Neostoic texts were Protestants, and virtually all translations of these texts
were made either before or after the reign of Mary. "Apparently," Kirk
suggests, "the mind of the Reformation found Stoic thought more congenial
than did the Catholic mind of Mary's reign. "^

While there have been some stimulating conjectures regarding the reasons
why the mind of the Reformation found Stoicism congenial, the questions
needs to be discussed more fully with reference to the works of English writers
who have not received much attention in this connection, as well as some
works by continental Neostoics that were well known in England. In the
process of discussing these works, I hope to illuminate some of the less
commonly recognized ideological bases of the linkage of the Stoic revival
with the progress of the Reformation in England. A clearer grasp of this
connection may, I believe, contribute significantly to our understanding of
not only the intellectual and religious movements themselves but the ways in
which they influenced English political history.

It is a curious fact that in England, as on the continent, Stoicism seems to
have been most attractive to Protestants with strong Calvinist leanings, to the
extent that some later commentators have even seen Calvinism itself as

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 3 (1990) 223

224 / Renaissance and Reformation

"baptized Stoicism."^. This is curious because Stoicism is commonly associ-
ated with an ideal of self-sufficiency, while Calvinist Christianity, in harmony
with the Pauline-Augustinian tradition, stresses man's insufficiency without
grace. At first glance, there would seem to be little common ground other than
a shared faith in a rationally ordered universe. Additional shared concerns
and beliefs emerge as we examine such Calvinistic Neostoic works as La
Primaudaye's The French Acad��mie, the works of Philippe de Mornay, and
Joseph Hall's Heaven Upon Earth. These common concerns emerged much
earlier, however, in the works of Calvin himself.

Calvin's first published book was his commentary on Seneca's De
dementia, a treatise addressed to the Emperor Nero which attempts to
persuade him that mercy is the most becoming virtue a ruler can manifest in
his dealings with his subjects. In it Nero is also made to see that his role ideally
is that of a servant of humanity. A ruler who understands this is not resentful
when he must restrain himself: "'That,' you say, 'is servitude, not sover-
eignty.' What? are you not aware that the sovereignty is ours, the servitude
yours?'"^ Since man is "a social creature, begotten for the common good," no
virtue is more becoming than mercy. The necessity of practicing it is all the
more manifest when one considers the corrupt and depraved condition of most
of humanity and the sinfulness of even those who appear to be saintly:

We have all sinned — some in serious, some in trivial things; some from
deliberate intention, some by chance impulse, or because we were led
away by the wickedness of others; some of us have not stood strongly
enough by good resolutions, and have lost our innocence against our will
and though still clinging to it; and not only have we done wrong, but we
shall go on doing wrong to the very end of life. Even if there is any one
who has so thoroughly cleansed his mind that nothing can any more con-
found him and betray him, yet it is by sinning that he has reached the sin-
less state.^

One who has "cleansed his mind" and "reached the sinless state" is one
who has attained the level of the sapiens, or sage, the ideal wise man of the
Stoics. Such individuals are extremely rare, and even they have experienced
the corruption that affects all mankind. Commenting on this passage, Calvin
calls attention to a related passage in De Ira in which Seneca enjoins us to
"be more gentle one to another: we live as bad men, among bad men: there
is only one thing which can afford us peace, and that is to agree to forgive
one another."^ Such passages enable us to see readily why it was believed
during the middle ages that Seneca had carried on a correspondence with St.

Renaissance et R��forme / 225

Paul7 While the term "fallen" is not used to describe the human condition,
the myth of Eden being unknown to Seneca except perhaps in its Hesiodic
analogue, his Stoic view of man is essentially the same as that of Paul. And
while there is nothing resembling grace in the Stoic scheme of things, man's
corrupted state is presented as, in the words of a recent translator, "the basis
of a plea for mercy and kindness."^ Calvin's citation of the passage from De
Ira is perfectly relevant, emphasizing the necessity of forgiveness among
men. All that is needed to baptize both passages as Christian utterances are
some references to God's forgiveness through the Redemption.

Calvin did not, of course, agree with everything in De Clementia. Seneca's
condemnation of pity (misericordia), which was attacked by many Christian
divines, was not acceptable to him. He explains the reasons why Seneca
regards pity as a vice or sickness of the mind: "Although it conforms, in
appearance, to clemency, yet because it carries with it perturbation of mind,
it fails to qualify as a virtue (according to the Stoics)."^ In Calvin's own view,
"Obviously we ought to be persuaded of the fact that pity is a virtue, and that
he who feels no pity cannot be a good man — whatever these idle sages may
discuss in their shady nooks. To use Pliny's words: / know not whether they
are sages, but they certainly are not men. For it is man 's nature to be affected
by sorrow, to feel, yet to resist, and to accept comforting, not to go without

Whether or not this particular work had much influence on Calvin's
followers in England is difficult to say. Certainly his frequent references to
Seneca and other pagan writers were noticed. One of his English followers,
Thomas James, in the introduction to his translation of Guillaume du Vair's
Trait�� de la philosophie morale des Stoiques, defends the use of "words and
sentences of the Heathen" with an appeal to his unimpeachable authority:
"This libertie Master Calvin in his Commentarie vpon those places liberally
granteth vs, and I suppose it cannot lawfully bee denyed: for gold and siluer
and pretious iewels were ever used as ornaments in the old law to decke and
garnish the Temple withall."^^

Most of the English translators of the continental Neostoics were, like
James, Calvinist Protestants.^^ The importance of the works they translated
in influencing English thought has not been widely recognized, perhaps
because they have not been available in modern editions. One can only hope
that an editor or editors will undertake the completion of the very worthwhile
scholarly task begun by Rudolph Kirk with his editions of Neostoic texts and
make these works available to students of the English Renaissance and

226 / Renaissance and Reformation

An editor might well begin with some of the works of Philippe de Mornay,
Seigneur du Plessis (1549-1623), a very prolific French Neostoic moralist,
theologian, poHtical leader, and diplomat. Mornay was a friend of Sir Philip
Sidney, who shared his zeal for the Protestant cause. Sidney stood godfather
to Mornay' s infant daughter, born during a visit to England in June 1578. He
also translated into English part of Mornay' s De la v��rit�� de la religion
chrestienne (Antwerp, 1581) and at his request the translation was completed
by Arthur Golding and was published in 1587.^^ Most of his other moral and
theological writings were also translated into English within a few years of
their original publication in French or Latin. ^^ The works that are most clearly
informed by a Neostoic viewpoint are the Discourse of Life and Death, The
True Knowledge of a Mans owne Selfe, The Trewnesse of the Christian
Religion and Lord of Plessis his Teares. For the Death of his Sonne.

The Trewnesse of the Christian Religion consists largely of arguments from
scriptural and classical authorities for the immortality of the soul. Among the
latter, Mornay finds Plato, Socrates and the Stoics to be the most helpful in
supporting Christian belief. Aristotle's observations on the soul he sees as
contradicting each other. He approves of most of Epictetus's "goodly say-
ings" concerning man as the "offspring" or "braunch of the Godhead," though
he considers the description of man as "a diuine ympe or a spark of God" to
be "somewhat unproper) (for what wordes can a man finde to fit the matter:)"
(TCR, p. 2). But his principal Stoic authority is Seneca, whom he clearly
regards as the wisest of the Stoics. He finds the ring of truth concerning the
soul's immortality "in almost all of Seneca's writings" and quotes approv-
ingly Seneca's statements that our souls "are a part of God's Spirit, and
sparkes of holy things shining vpon the earth." In his view Seneca's beliefs
concerning the soul were nearly Christian: "This may suffice to giue us
knowledge of the opinion of that great personage, in whom wee see that the
more he grewe in age, the nerer he came still to the true birth. For in his latest
bookes he treateth alwaies both more assuredly and more evidently thereof
{TCR, p.268).

After the works of Mornay and the early pro-Stoic essays of Montaigne,
perhaps the most influential continental Neostoic work translated into English
was The French Acad��mie of Pierre La Primaudaye. Like Mornay, La
Primaudaye was a Huguenot, and there is in his great book the same curious
fusion of Augustinian Protestant and Senecan sensibility. At times it is not a
fusion but a division, a conflict in which Calvinist Christianity is pitted against
Stoicism, but as with Mornay, the Calvinist element is always victorious. The
"presumptuous" Stoic opinion that man can master all passion and achieve

Renaissance et R��forme / 227

an understanding of God and nature through an exercise of natural virtue is
vigorously attacked, even as Mornay attacks the "heathen" view of Fortune
in his Discourse of Life and Death.

In a number of ways, however, The French Acad��mie reveals why, with
these reservations. Stoic philosophy was especially attractive to Protestants
during the Reformation. Of particular interest in this connection is La
Primaudaye's discussion of "what conscience is properly." In his discussion
of conscience. La Primaudaye introduces the term Synteresis, and T. B.'s
translation of 1594 contains the first occurrence of the word in English. ^^

He tells us that although the mind is troubled and darkened by error and
ignorance, the effects of sin, "yet it coulde not so wholly blind it, but still
there remayned in it some sparkes of that light of the knowledge of God, and
of good and evil, which is naturally in men, and which is borne with them."^^
This "remnant" of light is called Synteresis is a Greek word signifying that
which preserves the "remnant of the light and law of nature that remaineth in
vs." It is innate and indestructible, "yea in the most wicked that can bee, an
aduertisement or instruction which telleth him what is right and iust, and that
there is a judgement of God." While some distinguish Synteresis from the
conscience itself, others identify it with conscience. Philosophers who spoke
of "Anticipations" had a sense of this faculty, to the extent that they were
distinguishing the means whereby we apprehend rules not through instruction
or experience but "haue drawen and received them from nature, whom God
hath appoynted in this respect to be our mistres" (FA, pt.II, p.576).^^

La Primaudaye's description of it as being "some sparkes of that light"
which is innate in men indicates that he, like Mornay, Pierre Charron and
other Renaissance Neostoics, accepts the doctrine of the divine spark, a
doctrine which has a classical Stoic basis. For the ancient Stoics generally,
God is identified with seminal reason, the Logos spermatikos out of which all
things emanate and by which all things are formed. Sparks of divinity, logoi
spermatikoi, continue to function within men as divine reason, and at death
they will be reunited with the divine seminal reason or fire.^^ A closely
analogous concept of a divine spark evolved in the writings of the Christian
mystics during the middle ages. They used Jerome's term synteresis for the
divine spark, which they described as the "apex of the soul," the "natural will
toward God," or "the remnant of the sinless state before the fall."^^

During the Reformation, the concept of synteresis appears prominently in
the writings of the Protestant casuists, and their use of it suggests that they
incorporated the Stoic concept of the divine spark along with the similar
concept they inherited from the Christian mystics. William Ames, among

228 / Renaissance and Reformation

many others, discusses it at length in his Conscience with the Power and Cases
Thereof. According to Ames and other casuists, Synteresis in effect dictates
the major premise or proposition of the "practical syllogism." It is a natural
habit "Whereby the understanding of man is fitted to giue assent unto Naturall
principles." The minor premise, or assumption, is called ''Syneidesis'\ and
the conclusion is the ''Kris is,'' or ''ludgement."^^

Like La Primaudaye, Ames asserts that Synteresis is innate and indestruc-
tible: "This Synteresis may for a time be hindered from acting, but canot be
utterly extinguished or lost. Hence it is that no man is so desperately wicked
as to be void of all Conscience." Through God's goodness, Synteresis con-
tinued to preserve or conserve, as its name indicates, an awareness of the
principles of moral actions in the mind of man "even after his fall."^^

The appeal to the Protestant mind of the Stoic concept of the divine spark
is readily understandable, and not surprisingly there was a tendency among
Protestant Neostoics to identify Synteresis with the divine spark. John Mar-
ston, a Neostoic satirist and dramatist who eventually became an Anglican
divine, does this in his early satires. In one satire, he 'mwokts Synteresis, which
he spells in the Scholastic fashion, as a force which can raise man from the
disgusting, sinful state into which he has fallen:

Returne, returne, sacred Synderesis,
Inspire our truncks, let not such mud as this
Pollute vs still. Awake our l��thargie,
Raise vs from out our brain-sicke foolerie.

(The Scourge of Villainy, VIII, IL 211-214)22

Marston's satires generally are notorious for their bitterness and cynicism,
and his implication that Synteresis has departed suggests that human behavior
provides no evidence to the observer that there is such a thing within man.
When we consider that the indestructibility of Synteresis was a commonplace
notion, the suggestion is bitter indeed, as is another reference to Synteresis
elsewhere in The Scourge of Villainy:

The poore soules better part so feeble is,

So cold and dead is his Synderesis,

That shadowes by odde chaunce sometimes are got,

But o the substance is respected not.

{The Scourge of Villainy, XI, II. 235-238)2^

In his plays, especially Antonio and Mellida I & II, Sophonisba, and The
Malcontent, Marston juxtaposes classical Stoic, Neostoic, and Machiavellian

Renaissance et R��forme / 229

views of the world. Significantly, conscience plays a major role in all of these
plays, especially The Malcontent wherein the activity of conscience turns an
impending revenge tragedy into a comedy of forgiveness.^'^ In contrast to his
bitter satires, these plays in effect assert the indestructibility of conscience. It
is perhaps interesting to reflect that Marston's development from a "sharp-
fanged satirist" into a playwright and finally an Anglican preacher has several
elements in common with the career of his great rival satirist and fellow
Neostoic, Joseph Hall.

The importance of the role of conscience in the thinking of Protestants in
the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries can hardly be overstressed.
Prior to this time, works of casuistry belonging to the encyclopaedic genre
Summa confessorum or Summa de casibus conscientiae were written mainly
for the use of Roman Catholic confessors, providing ready answers to
virtually every conceivable problem of conscience.^^ Having discarded the
institution of sacramental confession, along with the authoritarian, con-
science-keeping role of the Roman Church, the Protestant reformers of the
sixteenth century did not initially acknowledge a need for such encyclopaedic
reference guides with their copious references to non-scriptural authorities.
By the end of the century, however, there seems to have been a growing
recognition of the need for guides other than the Bible itself to assist in the
informing of the conscience.

In Protestant England, casuistry begins with William Perkins (1560-1603).
Perkins asserted that Christians must have faith in the ability of the individual
conscience to guide men aright, and he insisted that it must be heeded before
any other authority. His teachings were grounded on St. Paul, especially the
Epistle to the Romans. According to Paul, conscience operates in all men,
even the Gentiles, for whom it will bear witness either for or against them
(Rom. 2:13-16). It must be obeyed even if it is in error. The Whole Treatise
of the Cases of Conscience by Perkins is prefaced with a verse from Romans
that virtually contains the whole Protestant concept of duty to conscience:
'"WhatsoeuerisnotofFaith, is sinne'\Rom. 14:23). Discussing this particular
verse in The Whole Treatise, Perkins glosses it as follows: "Whatsoeuer man
doth, whereof he is not certainely perswaded in iudgement and conscience
out of God words, that the thing may be done, it is sin?^ In A Discourse of
Conscience, Perkins emphasizes the role of conscience as God's representa-
tive within man:". . . because conscience is of a diuine nature, and is a thing
placed by God in the midst betweene him and man, as an arbitratour to give
sentence & to pronounce either with man or against man vnto God."-^ In a

230 / Renaissance and Reformation

later edition of the Discourse, he goes even further in emphasizing the divine
nature of conscience, which

... is (as it were) a Htle God setting in the middle of mens hearts, arraign-
ing them in this Hfe as they shall be arraigned for their offences at the Tri-
bunal seat of the euerliuing God in the day of iudgement. Wherefore the
temporarie iudgement that is given by the conscience is nothing els but a
beginning, or a fore-runner of the last iudgement,^^

The implications of this teaching were destined to have a profound effect
on the whole course of English political history in the seventeenth century.
Among the many issues over which the Puritans and the Stuart monarchs
confronted each other was this very matter of the sovereignty of the individual
conscience. It is now generally recognized that the conflicts which led to the
outbreak of civil war in 1642 had their origins in movements and events of
the late sixteenth century. Reading A Discourse of Consciencewhen it first
appeared in 1596, one might have prophesied an eventual confrontation
between those who shared the beliefs of the writer and supporters of absolut-
ism. Because conscience is God's representative within man, a little God
within men's hearts, "God is the onely Lord of conscience."^^ Only his laws
"binde conscience properly." With regard to any conflict between a com-
mandment issued by a magistrate and the word of God speaking through the
conscience, there is nothing to ponder: "God comandes one thing, & the
magistrate commaunds the flat contrarie: in this case which of these two
commaundements must be obeyed. Honour God, or Honour the Magistrate?
the answer is, that the latter must giue place to the former, & the former alone
in this case must be obeied."^^ While it is true that St. Paul tells us that
obedience is due to a magistrate for conscience sake (Rom. 13:15) "that
subiection is indeede to be performed to ciuill authoritie ordained by God,
and obedience also to the Lawes of the Magistrate for fear of wrath, and for
auoiding of punishment, but not for conscience of the saide authoritie or lawes
properly or directly, but for conscience of Gods commandment, which
appointeth both Magistracie, and the authoritie thereof."^^ This Pauline
insistence on the sovereignty of conscience, coupled with a Pauline emphasis
on the equality of men in their sinfulness before God, was to have no small
influence on those responsible for the rise of democracy in the seventeenth
century, -^2

Especially relevant to the present discussion is the fact that Paul's emphasis
on the sovereignty of the individual conscience encouraged as well the
growing emphasis upon introspection that characterizes sixteenth- and sev-

Renaissance et R��forme / 231

enteenth-century Protestantism/^-^ While ^there may be room for disagreement
about whether or not Paul himself provides a model of the introspective
conscience in his epistles, there is no denying that he encouraged the turning
inward of the Christian conscience. ^"^ One of the ways in which he did this
was by adapting, with some qualification, the classical Stoic ideal of self-suf-
ficiency. He speaks of an inmost self (Rom. 7:22), an inner man strengthened
by the Spirit (Eph. 3:16) that is capable of "contentment" (Phil. 4:11, 1 Tim.
6:6).'^^ He was obviously familiar with the commonplace Stoic conception of
a self apart from and impervious to external direction, but he seems to
question, especially in Rom. 7:22, the Stoic belief that this self can remain
unmoved by a lower self, i.e. passions and appetites. There is endless strife
between the law of sin dwelling in his members and the law of his mind which
delights in the law of God.

Protestant introspection was also strongly encouraged by contemporary
Neostoic writings in which there is the recurrent classical Stoic theme that
self-knowledge is an avenue to knowledge of the divine. Mornay's The True
Knowledge of a Mans owne Selfe was written, as the translator explains, "for
the reformation of a mightie Atheist," and La Primaudaye announces at the
beginning of The French Acad��mie that one of its informing themes is "that
the perfect knowledge of ones selfe, which consisteth in the soule, is in such
sort ioined with the knowledge of God, that the one without the other cannot
be sincere and perfect." (FA, Pt.I, p.ll) This is inseparable from the other
main theme, "that the dutie of a wise man is to seeke out the reasons of things,
that in the ende he may find that diuine reason whereby they were made and
having found it, may worship and serue it." These were the teachings of
Socrates, and "Plato his disciple" added to these the concept of duty to one's
fellow men as derivative from the other two imperatives: "That the perfect
dutie of man is, first to knowe his owne nature: then to contemplate the diuine
nature: and last of all to bestow his labour in those things, which may be most
beneficiall to all men." (FA, Pt.I, P.ll)

La Primaudaye 's linkage of self-knowledge, knowledge of the divine, and
duty to one's fellows is typical of Protestant Neostoic writings.^^ Obviously
one of the attractions of Stoicism for Protestants was its emphasis on active
commitment on the part of the individual to the moral betterment of the
community. The concept of moral stewardship, generally regarded as a
Calvinist notion with Scriptural roots, could find a great deal of support in
the writings of the ancient Stoics, who generally shared the belief that while
one should be primarily concerned with preserving one's own moral purpose
through self-discipline, one should also strive to restore one's less disciplined

232 / Renaissance and Reformation

fellows to a correct moral purpose as well and thus bring about an improve-
ment of the community as a whole. The emphasis on discipline and a sense
of responsibility for the moral welfare of the community that gave Stoicism
virtually the status of a state religion in ancient Rome also recommended it
to Calvin and his followers, and we can see this clearly in Joseph Hall's
discussion of that most responsible of individuals in a community, the

"Of the Good Magistrate" is one of the pieces in Hall's Characters of
Vertues and Vices, a work which, as Kirk points out, delineates the four
cardinal virtues of the ancient Stoics — Prudence, Fortitude, Justice, and
Temperance — along with various Christian virtues, such as humility and
fidelity, and their opposites. The essay is concerned mainly with the role of
the good judge, but its injunctions may be readily extended to include the
functions of a good prince as well. In delineating the character of this "faithfull
Deputy of his Maker," Hall imparts concrete vital form to the abstract Stoic
virtue of justice. We are made to visualize the good magistrate in action,
hearing case after case, resting seldom, eating in haste, "all which he beares
well, because he knowes himselfe made for a publike servant of Peace and

Like Seneca, and unlike Calvin, Hall regards pity as a weakness, but only
in a magistrate. Calvin, it should be pointed out, recognized that Seneca was
talking about pity as it manifested itself in an excess of clemency, but his
indignation at Seneca's description of it as a vice per se seems to have
provoked him to refute what he regarded as an instance of simplistic Stoic
moral psychology. Hall, who was certainly familiar with De Clementia and
probably with Calvin's commentary on it, does not follow Seneca in asserting
that pity itself is a weakness of the mind or "mental defect" (vitium animi).
Rather he is saying that what is a virtue in private individuals is a vice in a
magistrate, who should dispense justice as dispassionately as a god: "He is
the Guard of good laws, the Refuge of innocency, the Comet of the guilty,
the Pay-master of good deserts, the Champion of justice, the Patron of peace,
the Tutor of the Church, the Father of his Country, &, as it were, another God
vpon earth. "-^^

Little wonder that Hall was drawn to Seneca, whose De Tranquillitate he,
in a sense, completes in Heaven Upon Earth by providing the vital compo-
nents known only to Christians. Chief among these is grace, which would
have made Seneca unrivalled as a moral philosopher had he been capable of
receiving it: ''\i Seneca could have had grace to his wit, what wonders would
he have done in this kinde? what Divine might not have yeelded him the chaire

Renaissance et R��forme / 233

for precepts of Tranquillity without any disparagement?" As it was, he "wrote
more divinely" on the subject than any other heathen philosopher, and if
"Nature" were sufficient to guide men to tranquillity, Seneca would be his
master. But in fact neither Seneca nor any other heathen, for all their wisdom
and their efforts, actually attained tranquillity, and no wonder for "'Not Athens
must teach this lesson, but lerusalem^^^

Thus in typical Christian Neostoic fashion. Hall makes his orthodox posi-
tion clear at the outset. But for all his orthodox insistence on the necessity of
grace, one perceives, as in Charron' s De la sagesse, a nearly existentialist
Stoic emphasis on the necessity of human striving against natural human
weakness.'*^ Sartre himself might have approved of some of Hall's injunctions
against what he was to call la mauvaise foi, in spite of what he would also
have regarded as a fatally contaminating admixture of Calvinist orthodoxy:

The power of nature is a good plea for those that acknowledge nothing
above nature. But for a Christian to excuse his intemperatenesse, by his
natural! inclination, and to say, I am borne cholericke, sullen amorous, is
an Apologie worse than the fault. Wherefore serves Religion, but to sub-
due or governe nature: We are so much Christians, as wee can rule our
selves, the rest is but forme and speculation.'*'

Indeed, tranquility itself is not, like grace, a free gift, but something that
must be striven for. Hall emphasizes this in the concluding section oi Heaven
Upon Earth, a passage which reveals that dynamic fusion of Stoic activism,
Calvinist piety and tough-minded worldliness that went into the shaping of
the English Puritan sensibility:

Saiest thou then, this peace is good to have, but hard to get? It were a
shameful neglect that hath no pretence. Is difficulty sufficient excuse to
hinder thee from the pursuit of riches, of preferment, of learning, of bod-
ily pleasures? Art thou content to sit shrugging in a base cottage, ragged,
famished, because house, clothes, and food will neither bee had without
money, nor money without labour, nor labour without trouble and
painfulnesse? Who is so mercifull, as not to say that a whip is the best
almes for so lazy and wiifull need? Peace should not be good if it were
not hard: Goe, and by this excuse shut thy selfe out of heaven at thy
death, and live miserably till thy death, because the good of both worlds is
hard to compass��. There is nothing but misery on earth and hell below,
that thou canst come to without labour . . . J^^

The works of Hall, like those of Mornay and La Primaudaye, reveal how
much common ground a Calvinist Protestant could find with an ancient Stoic

234 / Renaissance and Reformation

and why some commentators have seen Calvinism as "baptized Stoicism."
The Stoic tradition shared with the Pauline- Augustinian that issued in Cal-
vinism a belief in the universal corruption of man, a view of the moral faculty
as a divine agency within man, and a belief in self-knowledge as one of the
essential avenues to knowledge of the divine. These common beliefs concern-
ing the nature of man and, with some qualification, the human potential
inform Renaissance Neostoic writings and a closely related, largely Protestant
body of moral literature devoted to faculty psychology .^^ In addition, there
were concerns and beliefs shared by the two traditions regarding the role of
man in society, his duties as citizen, ruler, or magistrate. To a large extent,
this latter body of beliefs is informed by the former.

As I suggested earlier, the Protestant view of conscience as God within
man, which found classical support in the Stoic doctrine of the spark, was an
important doctrinal basis for resistance to absolutism and indeed tyranny in
any form. One of the reasons why Renaissance Neostoic writers consistently
favored Plato and Socrates over Aristotle is that the latter, largely because of
his dogmatic followers, was perceived as representing intellectual tyranny
and resistance to the free inquiry after truth. Charron' s attitude in this regard
is typical. He characterizes as "barbarous" those "of the schoole and jurisdic-
tion of Aristotle, affirmers, positive men, dogmatists, who respect more
vtilitie than veritie, according to the vse and custome of the world, than that
which is good and true in it selfe." These he contrasts with those rare
individuals of "quick and cleare spirit, a strong, firme, and solid judgement,"
who will not be contented with commonly received notions and opinions.
Such men are acutely aware of the deceptiveness of appearances and are
willing to seek dispassionately the true causes of things, louing better to doubt,
and to hold in suspence their beleefe, than by a loose and idle facilitie or
lightnesse, or precipitation of judgement to feede themselves with lies, and
affirme or secure themselues of that thing whereof they can haue no certaine
reason. "Among these very rare individuals are those "of the Schoole of
Socrates and Plato, modest, sober, staled, considering more the veritie and
realitie of things than the vtilitie. "^^

In this passage. Charron is defending his application of the sceptical or
pyrrhonist approach to the problem of self-knowledge that he had learned
from Montaigne. But one can see in it as well the idea that submission to the
tyranny of received notions and opinions is associated with idleness, a vice
abhorred by Stoics and Protestants alike and one which the Reformers tended
to associate with Roman Catholicism, especially as it appeared to be sane-

Renaissance et R��forme / 235

tioned by the monastic ideal, as well as by an over-reliance on Aristotle and
the Schoolmen.

The necessity of resisting tyranny in all forms is a ubiquitous theme in
seventeenth-century English Protestant writings, as it is in the works of the
classical Stoics. In the latter works, the resistance most frequently enjoined
is the cultivation of apatheia, a willed extinguishing of destructive passion
that enables one to maintain indifference to any supposed injury a tyrant can
manage to inflict.^^ The Stoic paradox "Tyrants can kill but never hurt a man"
expresses the sage's belief that the only true injury a man can suffer is the
willful abandonment of his moral purpose. But beyond the injunctions to
resist passively through indifference, there are implicit and explicit injunc-
tions to take action against tyrants. One of the most celebrated of Stoic heroes
is Cato the Younger who chose suicide rather than the endurance of tyranny.
The Stoic idealization of Hercules implies action, and, as Epictetus argues,
one who follows his example may be assured that any necessary action, such
as the slaying of a monster or a tyrant, can be reconciled with a correct moral
purpose.^^ This same idealized Hercules is the hero of Seneca's Hercules
Fur ens, a play which includes a tyrannicide. As Hercules emerges onstage
after slaying Lycus, he utters these lines:

- — There can be slaine

No sacrifice to God more acceptable

Then an unjust and wicked King ^^

Milton quotes these lines in his ringing defense of tyrannicide. The Tenure
of Kings and Magistrates (1649). This passage is one of the very few
references to pagan authority in The Tenure. Among the others is a reference
to Aristotle's definition of a king as "him who governs to the good and profit
of his People, and not for his own ends," which is also a central theme oiDe
dementia. As Milton explains, he cites no more ancient authorities, "lest it
bee objected they were Heathen." But he quotes this speech, put in the mouth
oV Hercules the grand suppressor of Tyrants," as an expression of an attitude
generally held by the "prime Authors" Greek and Roman."^^

"No man who knows ought, can be so stupid to deny that all men naturally
were borne free, being the image and resemblance of God himself ..." Thus
begins the main argument of The Tenure. Milton had made the same statement
eight years earlier in Of Prelatical Episcopacy (lôAl)."^^ His hatred of tyranny
in any form, whether it be censorship or "the censorious and supercilious
lording over conscience" of meddling divines, called forth his most eloquent

236 / Renaissance and Reformation

prose polemics and is abundantly reflected in his poetry as well. In The Tenure
he is primarily concerned with establishing the point that the trial and execution
of Charles I were in agreement with the principles of Protestantism. In addition
to Scripture, his authorities include Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Bucer and the
English divines who sought refuge in Geneva during the reign of Mary, and he
demonstrates that the Scottish Presbyterians, who had hoped to gain power
through the secret treaty of Newport, are betrayers of these principles.

That these principles are wholly in harmony with classical Stoic views
concerning the nature of the relationship between ruler and subjects can be
readily seen if one compares The Tenure with De dementia. For Milton, as
for Seneca, rulers are the servants of the people. Since Seneca was addressing
his treatise to Nero, one would hardly expect him to develop a corollary
justifying regicide, but the argument that sovereignty belongs to the people
and servitude to the ruler is obviously a basis for such a corollary. Milton's
arguments were grounded primarily on the ideas of sixteenth century Calvin-
ists, but his reference to Seneca suggests that he was probably fully aware of
Stoic analogues.

By 1649, the anti-Stoic reaction was well underway, but the Stoic revival
had made an indelible impression upon English Protestant thought. The
classical Stoic ideas that were most objectionable to the anti-Stoics, such as
their view of passions, had already been refuted by Christian Neostoics, who
demonstrated in the process that rejecting a few ideas did not prevent the
incorporation of the main body of Stoic beliefs regarding the duty of a wise
man to seek out the reason of things and the divinity informing them, to
acquire the knowledge of self that is joined with the knowledge of God, and
having acquired this knowledge, to labor actively for the welfare of his fellow

University of Utah


1 Philip A. Smith, "Bishop Hall, 'Our English Seneca'," PMLA dLXIII (1948) pp.1 191-

2 Justus Lipsius, Two Bookes of Constancie, Englished by Sir John Stradling, edited by
Rudolph Kirk (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1939) p. 21.

3 According to Ford Lewis Battles and Andre Malan Hugo {Calvin's Commentary on
Seneca's De dementia, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1969, p.41) this expression was first used by
Dr. Fairbairn in his The Place of Christianity in Modern Theology (1893). There is the
contrary view of E. Doumergue, among others, that Calvin shows himself to be
"anti-Stoicien philosophiquement et moralement."

4 Seneca, Moral Essays, trans. John W. Basore (London, Heinemann, 1963) I, p. 377.

Renaissance et R��forme / 237

5 Ibid. 375.

6 Battles and Hugo, Calvin's Commentary, 129.

7 See L. D. Reynolds, The Medieval Tradition of Seneca's Letters (Oxford, 1965) Chapt.

8 Basore, A/ora/£'55a>'5 I, 374, note.

9 Battles and Hugo, Calvin 's Commentary, 359.

10 Ibid.,361.

1 1 Guillaume du Vair, The Moral Philosophie of the Stoicks, trans. Thomas James, ��d.
Rudolph Kirk (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1951) 45.

12 Anthony Munday (1553-1633), translator of Mornay's The True Knowledge of a Mans
owneSelfe, began his literary career with "The English Romayne Life," an expose based
on his experience spying on the English seminary in Rome. After Edmund Campion
and his associates were captured in 1581, he wrote five tracts exposing "the horrible
and unnatural treasons of the catholics," and his savage indictment "A Discoverie of
Edmund Campion and his Confederates" was read aloud on the scaffold to the martyred
victims on May 30, 1582. He was also employed by Richard Topcliffe, Elizabeth's
leading priest-hunter, to whom he dedicated his A Banquet ofDaintie Conceits (1588).
(See Celeste Turner, Anthony Munday, An Elizabethan Man of Letters, Berkeley: U.C.
Press, 1928, and D.N.B.)

Sir Philip Sidney's ardent Calvinist Protestantism is generally recognized. Arthur
Golding (15367-1605?), who completed Sidney's translation of Mornay's The
Trewnesse of the Christian Religion, was known for his strong puritan predilections. In
addition to translating Ovid's Metamorphoses and Seneca's De Beneficiis, he also
translated works by Calvin and Beza. (D.N.B.)

Samson Lennard (d.l633) accompanied Sidney to the Netherlands and was with him
when he received his fatal wound at the battle of Zutphen in 1586. In addition to
Mornay's Mystery oflniquitie and Charron's OfWisdome, Lennard translated Perrin's
Luther's Fore-runners, or a Cloud of Witnesses deposing for the Protestant Faith.

Another English translator of Mornay was John Healey (d.l610). In addition to Lord of
Plessis, his Teares, Healey translated Joseph Hall's satire on the Roman Church,
Mundus Alter et Idem (1609) and Epictetus his Manuall (1610) as well as the first
translation into English of St. Augustines The Citie of God (1610). He dedicated the
translation of Epictetus to John Florio (15537-1625), translator of Montaigne and son
of a Florentine Protestant whose family fled to England shortly before Edward VI's
reign to avoid religious persecution. The older Florio was a preacher to a congregation
of Italian Protestants in London until he fell into disgrace. (D.N.B.)

A significant exception to the rule that translating the Stoics and Neostoics went hand
in hand with Protestantism in England was Thomas Lodge (15587-1625), translator of
Seneca's Workes both Morrall and Naturall (1614). In middle life, well before he
completed this great translation, he became a Catholic. (D.N.B.)
And Lodge is certainly not the only Catholic who found Stoicism congenial, either in
England or on the continent. On the continent, in fact, most of the Neostoic writers were
Catholics, but it is interesting to consider that the works of two of the most influential.

238 / Renaissance and Reformation

Pierre Charron and Montaigne, were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. One
gathers that this was because of the element of scepticism that is so prominent in their

13 A Woorke Concerning the trewnesse of the Christian Religion, written in French:
Against Atheists, Epicures, Paynims, lewes, Mahumetists, and other Infidels by Philip
of Mornay Lord of Plessis Marlie. Begunne to be translated into English by Sir Philip
Sidney Knight, and at his request finished by Arthur Golding. (London: Thomas
Cadman, 1587) BM. C. 122. d. 17. All quotations are from this edition and references
will be given in the text in parentheses.

14 Sidney's sister, the Countess of Pembroke, translated Mornay's Discourse of Life and
Death, along with Robert Garnier's tragedy Antonious, and the two translations ap-
peared in a single volume in 1592. An earlier translation. The Defence of Death.
Containing a moste excellent discourse of life and death by "E.A." (Edward Aggas) had
been published in 1577, only a year after it appeared in France (Lausanne, 1576). The
Countess of Pembroke's translation was reprinted in 1600, 1606, and 1607. A translation
into Latin by A. Freitagius (1585) was translated into English in 1699. In 1602, Anthony
Munday's translation The True Knowledge of Mans owne Selfe was published. Another
work very much in the Stoic vein, P. Mornai Lachrimae Paris, 1606) was translated by
John Healey as Lord of Plessis his Teares (1609). Among his various theological works
translated rapidly into English is a 700 page volume entitled The Mystery of Iniquity,
that is to say, the history of the Papacy (1611) which was rendered into English by
Samson Lennard just a year after it appeared in French.

15 O.E.D.

16 The French Academic by Peter de la Primaudaye The third Edition and newly translated
into English by T.B. (London:Geor. Bishop, 1594) Part I, p.ll. British Museum 8406
ccc 17. All quotations are from this edition and references will be given in the text in

17 The term Synteresis first occurs, according to W. R. Inge, in Jerome's commentary on
Ezechiel. After that it occurs in Aquinas and in the Christian mystics. (Christian
Mysticism, London, 1899, pp. 359-60).Among the Schoolmen generally, it was spelt
""Synderesis. "These writers present various views of its nature and functions as a moral
agency within man. Cf. Bonaventure, Commentary on the Sentences, 2, dist.39, art.l,
q.l; Albert the Great, Summa de Creaturis q.71, art. 1.2; Thomas Aquinas, Commentary
on the Sentences, dist.24, q.2, art. 3. For discussion of these passages, see Eric D'Arcy,
Conscience and its Right to Freedom (London: Sheed & Ward, 1961) pp.20-71.

18 Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers VII, pp. 148-49.

19 See note 17. Also Anthony Caputi, John Marston, Satirist (Ithaca: Cornell University
Press) pp.59-60.

20 William Ames, Of Conscience and the Cases Thereof (London, 1643) Bk.l, pp. 3-4.

21 Ames, Of Conscience Bk.l, p.5.

22 John Marston, The Scourge of Villanie, in The Poems of John Marston, ed. Arnold
Davenport (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press) pp.208-320.

23 Ibid.

Renaissance et R��forme / 239

24 See my article "Stoicism and Revenge in Marston," English Studies, LI (1970), pp. SOT-

25 For discussion of this genre, see Thomas N. Tentler, Sin and Confession on the Eve of
the Reformation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977) Chapt. II.

26 William Perkins, The Whole Treatise of the Cases of Conscience (London, 1614), p. 27.
British Museum copy.

27 Perkins, Discourse, p. 27.

28 Perkins, A Discourse of Conscience (London, 1632) p. 517.

29 Discourse, p. 27.

30 Discourse, p. 12.

31 Whole Treatise, p. 27.

32 See G. Gooch, English Democratic Ideas in the 17th Century (New York: Harper &
Row, 1959).

33 This turning inward is also a tendency of contemporary Catholicism, as evidenced in
Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises. See Jeffrey Burton Russell, Mephistopheles
(Ithaca: Cornell, 1986) Chapt. 2.

34 See Krister Stendahl, "The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the
West,"//flrvflr��/ Theological Review LVI (1963) 199-215; Rudolf Bultmann, "Paul's
Demythologizing and Ours," The Writings of St. Paul, ed. Wayne A. Meeks (New York:
Norton, 1972) 409-422.

35 "Autapkela" in these verses means literally "sufficiency in oneself or "independence,"
but Paul clearly intends to convey Stoic overtones and the ideal of contentment based
upon a complete detachment from the world which enables one to achieve true freedom.
See Gordon Braden, Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1985) p. 70.

36 This linkage is not of course exclusively Protestant. See St. Teresa of Avila, Moradas
del Castillo interior and Camino de perfeccion.

37 Rudolph Kirk, ed. Heaven vpon Earth and Characters of Vertves and Vices (New
Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1948) p. 160.

38 Ibid.

39 Ibid, p. 60.

40 According to Charron, the nature of the soul itself is determined by its choices between
the injunctions of the divine spark and those of the flesh, "for according vnto that part
towards which it applieth it selfe, it is either spirituall and good, or carnall and euill."
Of Wisdome three bookes . . . trans. Samson Lennard (London: Blount, 1608) p. 11.
British Museum copy.

41 Hall, Heaven vpon Earth, p. 85.

42 Ibid., pp.38-9.

43 E.g. such works as Edward Reynolds. A Treatise of the Passions and Faculties of the
Soul; Fulke Greville, A Treatie of Humane Learning; John Davies of Hereford,

240 / Renaissance and Reformation

44 Charron, OfWisdome, p. 168. Such attacks on the Scholastic tradition probably did little
to present De la sagesse from being placed on the Index but probably increased its
popularity in Protestant England, where Samson Lennard's translation went through
many editions: 1608, 1612, 1630, 1640, 1656, 1658, 1670.

45 Epictetus, Discourses I. xix.

46 Ibid. IV. X. 10-13.

47 Seneca, Hercules Furens II. 922-24 trans. John Milton, Tenure of Kings and Magis-

48 John Milton, Works. Vol. V (New York: Columbia University Press, 1932) 19.

49 Noted by Christopher Hill, Milton and the English Revolution (New York: Viking,
1977), 168.

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus

Giovanni Delia Casa. Galateo, translated by Konrad Eisenbichler and Kenneth R.
Bartlett. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, University of
Toronto Press, 1986, 2nd ed. 1990. Pp. xxvi, 81.

If Vittorio Alfieri had opened this version of the Galateo, ovvero de' costumi
(Galateo, of manners, 1558), he might not have tossed the book aside in disgust
over the pomposity of its initial lines. For the translators Konrad Eisenbichler and
Kenneth R. Bartlett have achieved a reworking distinguished by its pleasant ele-
gance of style that never appears pretentious. This translation in a contemporary
English than avoids excessive colloquialisms makes readily accessible to everyone
interested in Renaissance culture a text that is not only a major book of etiquette
but an illuminating study of the ideals of sixteenth-century Italian society. For along
with // Cortegiano (The Courtier, 1528) of Baldesar Castiglione, the Galateo is both
a courtesy book and an exposition of the goals and aspirations of the Renaissance
in Italy.

In their introduction, the translators survey the life of Giovanni Delia Casa
(1503-56), the political and religious context in Italy for the Galateo, the humanistic
nature of this courtesy book, the role of the text's narrator as an uneducated older
gentleman (an 'idiota') discoursing in a self-consciously erudite language to a
young man, and earlier attempts from 1573 to 1950 to provide translations in
English of the work. Delia Casa's life appears as divided between a rather carefree
youth, with education in Florence, Bologna, and Padua, and then a turning point in
1537 with a decision to follow an ecclesiastical and diplomatic career. From being
a writer of salacious poems expressing his hedonistic life in sophisticated Roman
society, Delia Casa moved on to organize the Inquisition in Venice and to prepare
the Index of Prohibited Books while composing Latin treatises and political ora-
tions. What the introduction does not mention is that as a lyric poet in the
Petrarchistic tradition Delia Casa infused his verses with a rhetorical vitality that
later won the admiration of Torquato Tasso. This author's life reflected the spiritual
inquietude of the period that the translators call the "Counter Reformation", but that
should properly be designated as the Catholic Reformation with its ardent longing
to correct clerical abuse and safeguard the faithful from heresy. Amidst the turmoil

242 / Renaissance and Reformation

of the besieged Italian city-states during the years of religious contention where the
author played an active role in Vatican affairs, Delia Casa would seek in the Galateo
to establish guidelines for cultivated persons to maintain a zone of order, reason,
and decorum.

With the numerous and carefully detailed notes to the translated text, readers can
easily appreciate Delia Casa's immense pride in his family's Florentine heritage and
republican traditions. What might appear in the Seventh Chapter as a vain appeal
to social conformity by advising men to grow beards is explained in a note as the
author's resentment as a Florentine toward the Spanish fashions that were becoming
predominant in an Italy made servile by the conquering armies of Charles V.
Interestingly, this proud Tuscan writer cites most frequently Dante from the Divine
Comedy and Boccaccio from the Decameron (and also from the Corbaccio in shared
misogynistic sentiment) to reprimand the former poet for the vulgarity of his
language and to draw literary examples for moral situations from the latter author.
Through the text and its notes, one gains an extensive view of elitist social customs
in Florence, Rome, Venice, Padua, and Naples at the very moment of political
disintegration under foreign invasion. Eisenbichler and Bartlett anticipate the needs
of readers for historical and mythological information to understand Delia Casa's
anguished efforts to preserve a sense of Italian identity and defend the manners of
a civilized, refined way of life in a rapidly collapsing world. Recommendations
about dress, table manners, forms of address, and appropriate gestures do not seem
to be affectations in the sociopolitical context that the translators reconstruct in their

From Chapter Twenty-six through Twenty-eight, Delia Casa sets forth the loftiest
ideals of the Italian Renaissance with its enthusiastic cult of aesthetic creativity to
be the love of beauty, measure, and proportion. This etiquette book aims at teaching
readers to achieve the inner harmony of a well-balanced existence that becomes a
work of art enlightened by an active striving to conduct all actions gracefully.

Excepting a few minor printing errors, this translation always succeeds in its
scholarly task of clarifying the text and never obscures the significance of the
original Italian. In the bibliography attached to the introduction the translators could
have added references to historical studies on the Farnese reform and the Council
of Trent since Delia Casa pursued his clerical career under the patronage of the
Farnese. But with this complete translation, Eisenbichler and Bartlett have rendered
an invaluable service to all students of the Italian Renaissance.


Renaissance et R��forme / 243

Figliola Fragnito. In museo e in villa. Saggi sul rinascimento perduto. Venezia:
Arsenale Editrice, 1988. pp. 223.

In her introduction, "Ritornare al cuor suo," to this collection of four essays, two
of them previously unpublished, Figliola Fragnito describes the process of
marginalization that humanist clerics experienced as the cultural climate of Italy
changed from one of enthusiastic, if cautious, participation in spiritual reform
during the pontificates from Leo X to Paul III to one of bewilderment, reserve and
repression starting with the pontificate of the Theatine Caraffa, Paul IV. The subtitle
of the collection, "Saggi sul rinascimento perduto," indicates the sense of loss felt
by the last humanists such as Ludovico Beccadelli, the protagonist of Fragnito 's
essays, as they attempted to deal with the anti-humanist attitudes culminating in the
death-knolling proclamations of the Council of Trent, the indices of forbidden books
and the legal proceedings of the Inquisition. If a unifying theme can be identified
in this collection it is the effects of the process of marginalization on Beccadelli as
he turns from a career centered in the otium of humanae litterae to one immersed
in the negotium of pre-tridentine Rome, and just as he neared the pinnacle of success
he was ostracised to Ragusa ending his years at Prato in dejected retirement under
the protection of the Florentine Medicis. Despite a certain amount of repetition and
despite her associative style of organization, Fragnito fills these essays, especially
the two unpublished, with so much fascinating Beccadelliana and, in general, Italian
reformiana, that they make informative and stimulating reading.

The first essay, "L'ultima visione: il congedo di Pietro Bembo," deals with
Beccadelli 's perception of himself as one of the heirs and epigones of the pietas
Christiana et litterae that marked the lives and works of his models Petrarca, Bembo
and Contarini. It is in the writing of the biographies of his three mentors from the
solitude of his Slavonic exile and in their revisions conducted in silence during and
after Trent while continuing to withhold their publication, that Beccadelli articulates
his sense of spiritual alienation from the Catholic Counter-Reformation that re-
placed the earlier reform of the Italian spirituali of which Bembo and Contarini
were among the chief protagonists. The kernel of Bembo's "vision" is his adherence,
according to Beccadelli, to the strongly contended tenet oiex sola fide. Beccadelli 's
fear of censure for his biographies is amply justified by the actions during and after
Trent of the congregations of the Inquisition (witness Morone's trial) and the Index.

The second essay, "II ritorno in villa: la parabola di Ludovico Beccadelli," deals
with Beccadelli's desire to use his success in Rome to reestablish the preeminence
of his Bolognese branch of the Beccadelli family. In the midst of the details
concerning the repurchase and restoration of the ancestral house and chapel in
Piazza Santo Stefano and the attention devoted throughout his life to Pradalbino
(the "villa" in Fragnito 's title), is to be found a penetrating and cogent account of
Beccadelli's spiritual crisis. It is true that Beccadelli shared many of the elements
of this crisis with better-known members of papal circles, among whom are

244 / Renaissance and Reformation

Michelangelo, Pole, Contarini, Bembo, and Vittoria Colonna, but the advantage
enjoyed by focussing on Beccadelli is that the parable/parabola of his experiences
reaches from the flowering of humanist Christian spirituality to its demise in the
wake of the Council of Trent.

The remaining two essays in the collection deal with two little-known member
of Beccadelli 's household, Pellegrino Brocardo and Antonio Giganti; the former,
chaplain and painter, remembered for his account of his voyage from Ragusa to
Cairo, sponsored by Beccadelli in 1556; the latter, Beccadelli's factotum, remem-
bered for his collection of artificialia and naturalia. The Brocardo essay serves as
introduction to the detailed account of his voyage that he sent to Giganti and which,
according to Fragnito's examination of the manuscripts, was improved and ex-
panded both by Giganti and by Beccadelli. This account, illustrated by Brocardo 's
designs of here in their original form. Part of Giganti's collection was made under
Beccadelli and left to him in Beccadelli's will. Giganti continued to expand his
collection after he passed into the household of Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti. This
eclectic collection of natural and artificial artefacts is interesting, according to
Fragnito, for its inspiration from the Wunderkammern whose manifest intention was
to seek to gain "intellectual possession of every experience in man's past."

The present collection of essays, like her previous Memoria individuale e cos-
truzione biografica Beccadelli, Delia Casa, Vettori all�� origini di un mito (Urbino:
Argalia editore, 1978), reviewed in this Journal (Vol. V, 1981, pp. 106-8, by
Kenneth R. Bartlett), deserves the highest praise for the wealth of biographical
information contained in its copious end-notes. Even if readers were not interested
in Beccadelli and his circle for their own sake, a diligent reading of these essays
would gain for specialists and non-specialists alike a great deal of insight into the
cultural and spiritual climate of Italy at one of its most significant turning points.

DENNIS J. McAULIFFE, Scarborough College, University of Toronto

Th��odore de B��ze, Cours sur lesEpîtres aux Romains et aux H��breux, 1564-1566,
��dit��s par Pierre Fraenkel et Luc Perrotet, Travaux d'Humanisme et Renaissance
CCXXVI, Gen��ve, Droz, 1988, 448 p.

Pr��sent��e par l'ancien directeur de l'Institut d'histoire de la R��formation de
l'Universit�� de Gen��ve, le professeur Pierre Fraenkel, et son collaborateur Luc
Perrotet, voici une ��dition tr��s savante d'un texte rare et int��ressant par plus d'un

Il s'agit de deux cours profess��s en 1564-1566 �� l'Acad��mie de Gen��ve par celui
qui en fut le premier recteur, Th��odore de B��ze, �� un moment important de sa
carri��re puisque Calvin venait de mourir au printemps 1564. Ils portent sur deux
des textes les plus fondamentaux pour la th��ologie protestante en g��n��ral et

Renaissance et R��forme / 245

r��form��e en particulier: les Romains et la Lettre aux H��breux. Pour l'Epître aux
Romains, c'est ��vident si on se rappelle la pr��dilection de Luther pour ce texte sur
lequel s'est op��r��e la d��couverte r��formatrice, et dont il estime qu'on y trouve "tout
ce qu'un chr��tien a besoin de savoir". Mais Kenneth Hagen a bien montr��
l'importance des cours de Luther en 15 17-15 18 sur la Lettre aux H��breux et a m��me
dress�� un panorama de l'ex��g��se de ce texte au seizi��me si��cle (Tubingen, 1981).
Calvin, quant �� lui, a comment�� aussi ces livres bibliques et on en trouve une trace
abondante dans l'annotation critique de ces cours de B��ze. Ces lieux parall��les
tiendront compte ��galement des Annotationes de B��ze lui-m��me dont la d��dicace
date de d��cembre 1564, et qui, pr��cis��ment pour l'Epître aux Romains, ont ��t��
��tudi��es par Jean-Biaise Fellay, dans une th��se in��dite de la facult�� de th��ologie de
Gen��ve. Mais il y a ��galement Pierre Martyr Vermigli dont la premi��re ��dition du
commentaire des Romains date de 1558, et enfin S��bastien Castellion dont les
annotations publi��es apr��s sa mort devaient circuler en manuscrits. C'est dire que
la pens��e de B��ze se situe en rapport avec toutes ces interpr��tations et que nous
sommes �� un noeud de l'histoire de l'ex��g��se au seizi��me si��cle. Notons que B��ze
ne penche pas pour l'authenticit�� paulinienne de la lettre aux H��breux, dont le style
et le "caract��re" lui paraissent tr��s diff��rents des ��pîtres authentiques. Mais, ajoute-
t-il, puisque l'auteur en est le Saint-Esprit, celui qui l'a r��dig�� n'ayant pas donn��
son nom, ne cherchons pas plus avant (p. 200).

Les textes in��dits de B��ze qui sont "les plus anciens de ses cours de th��ologie
retrouv��s jusqu'�� pr��sent" (p.7), ont ��t�� conserv��s �� la Biblioth��que centrale de
Zurich, sous la forme des notes d'un ��tudiant zurichois, Marcus Widler (+1613),
qui fit pr��cis��ment ses ��tudes �� Gen��ve entre 1564 et 1566. Consacr�� pasteur
l'ann��e suivante, il n'eut pas une carri��re sans faille puisqu'il faillit ��tre d��pos��
pour adult��re. A l'��poque de ses ��tudes, il est assez s��rieux mais lorsqu'il part au
pays de Gex pour une raison inconnue, il manque deux leçons, peut-��tre plus sur
l'ensemble du cours, et le texte est lacunaire. Certes il s'agit bien de notes d'un
��tudiant moyen avec les fautes de latin et les manifestes incompr��hensions, mais il
n'est pas d'ailleurs sans int��r��t d'avoir le t��moignage de ce qu'un apprenti pasteur
du seizi��me si��cle pouvait retenir d'un expos�� libre et abondant. En effet B��ze ne
faisait que dicter quelques donn��es d'introduction au d��but de son cours. Nous
pouvons sentir sur le vif aussi la mani��re d'enseigner de B��ze qui selon une division
des Epîtres {distributio) qui lui est propre, suit pas �� pas le texte biblique. Marcus
Widler a, en tout cas, sauvegard�� les r��f��rences parall��les donn��es par B��ze et le
sens g��n��ral de ses explications.

Enfin le volume est compl��t�� par la publication d'un manuscrit conserv�� ��
Gen��ve et contenant les th��ses pour les disputes. Leur contenu et leurs dates
permettent d'��tablir le lien avec les cours profess��s par B��ze. Il faut renvoyer ici
au court et dense Cahier 1 de la Revue de th��ologie et de philosophie, publi�� par
Pierre Fraenkel: De l'Ecriture �� la dispute. Le cas de V Acad��mie de Gen��ve sous
Th��odore de B��ze, Lausanne, 1977. Ces disputes, dans la ligne scolastique

246 / Renaissance and Reformation

m��di��vale, mais avec d'autres m��thodes, avaient lieu, semble-t-il. une fois par
semaine, sans doute �� l'auditoire de la cath��drale illustr�� par la pr��dication
calvinienne. Elles suivaient, mais apr��s des semaine ou m��me des mois,
l'enseignement reçu dont on se servait, tant le commentaire biblique que les cours
particuliers dispens��s sur les "lieux communs'': la pr��destination, la justification,
etc. . . A cet effet les ��tudiants dressaient certaines positions, les communiquaient
�� leur professeur, c'est-��-dire �� B��ze lui-m��me, �� Colladon, le biographe de Calvin,
et �� Perrot, et devaient les soutenir contradictoirement, sous la pr��sidence d'un des

Ce volume est donc une publication de textes. Si les ��diteurs sugg��rent qu'on y
trouve "une th��ologie o�� la question du vrai sacerdoce et celle des trois offices du
Christ prennent une place importante �� côt�� de celle de la justification" (p. 11) et si
on voit bien au fil des annotations une intelligence minutieuse des enjeux
th��ologiques en cause �� l'int��rieur m��me de l'apparat critique, on ne trouvera pas
dans l'introduction ni ailleurs de pr��sentation g��n��rale des positions d��fendues par
B��ze dans ses cours. Le travail reste �� faire et peut s'appuyer sur un texte parfaite-
ment rendu, compris, annot�� et muni d'un pr��cieux index des th��mes th��ologiques.
On ne peut que souhaiter que soit adjoint bientôt une ��tude compl��mentaire
d'analyse th��ologique et scripturaire qui tire parti de ce mat��riau de premier choix
pour la connaissance de la th��ologie et de la Bible �� cet endroit strat��gique que fut
Gen��ve au milieu du seizi��me si��cle sur des textes bibliques essentiels. B��ze ne
consid��re-t-il pas lui-m��me au d��but de son cours que l'Epître aux Romains
"comme celle aux H��breux" est comme un "��pitom�� de toute l'Ecriture" et, m��me
si l'une est adress��e aux Gentils et l'autre aux Juifs, elles sont toutes deux "des
epitomes de toute la religion chr��tienne" (p. 19)?

GUYBEDOUELLE, Universit�� de Fribourg

Peter S. Donaldson. Machiavelli and Mystery of State. New York: Cambridge
University Press, 1988. Pp. xiv, 224.

This study deals with aspects of Machiavellian ideology that informed political
discourse in Renaissance Europe, with particular emphasis on the sacredness of
kingship and on the secret knowledge of statecraft, or simply arcana imperii. Most
appropriately, the discussion proceeds from the notion that for Machiavelli political
precepts were "secrets" to be imparted by the adviser to the prince, as Chiron taught
young Achilles in "secret" ("copertamente"). Machiavelli 's reputation as a purveyor
of secret political counsel was enhanced by the cautious and surreptitious manner
in which his ideas and his texts were propagated. The Prince, in particular, was
thought to be so secretive that Machiavelli perhaps did not want it to be known
publically. Donaldson follows the development of these two major themes both in

Renaissance et R��forme / 247

their historical and theoretical manifestations, starting with Cardinal Reginald
Pole's conviction that the appearance of the Prince was the manifestation of the
mysterium iniquitatis, which signalled the approach of the Antichrist. For Pole, the
treatise was also a satanic work, a source of evil advice which Cromwell secretly
communicated to Henry VIII. He firmly believed that the Prince, of which he had
limited knowledge, was the basis for Henry's moral relativism, contempt for the
law, and usurpation of papal prerogatives.

Unlike Pole, Bishop Stephen Gardiner did not view Machiavelli's works as
satanic, although he too considered Machiavellism as secret political doctrine. In
fact, he intended his Ragionamento, which rests on some of Machiavelli's most
"amoral" precepts, as a breviarum of secret advice to King Philip II of Spain. The
idea of secrecy is underscored by the suspicion that the manual was perhaps not
meant for publication, since it supported the terms of the marriage treaty in accord
with Habsburg dynastic interests, and proposed to show Philip how to secure his
hold over England (48). Gardiner, however, moves away from the Machiavellian
notion that political life is under the rule of fortuna, arguing for the sacredness of
kings, the "viceregents of God" (74). This major departure notwithstanding, Gardi-
ner considers Machiavelli a potent source of advice to rulers, best handled in a
secretive manner.

The shroud of secrecy enveloping Machiavelli's thought contributed to the
restating and the manipulation of his ideas, eventually allowing for mutually
exclusive interpretations: some saw him as the Chiron of kings, other as the
unmasker of tyrants. This last view first promoted by Gentili in the seventeenth
century and later sung by Foscolo in I Sepolcri (1806), finds its historical expression
in the wheeling and dealing of John Wolfe, a cunning, and unscrupulous printer.
Wolfe's fight against the English patent system is taken to exemplify a stance against
the tyrant, whose ruthless, secret methods Machiavelli had laid bare. Here,
Donaldson's argument connecting Wolfe with the notion of republican arcana is
rather weak, since the evidence linking this ambitious printer to Machiavelli rests
mostly on his surreptitious print of Machiavellian texts, and on the invitation by his
rival printers to "leave your Machiavellian devices" (98).

Moving from historical context to plain theory, Donaldson surveys major repre-
sentatives of the ragion di stato upon which rests Clapmar's distinction between
arcana (good reason of state) and Machiavellian flagitia (bad reason of state) or
simply consilia Machiavellistica (133). Clapmar based his distinction of various
types of arcana on his elaboration of ancient terminology, which, in turn, reinforced
the notions of secrecy and sacredness of kingship, already proposed by the ragion
di stato tradition. These views were shared by Gabriel Naud��, who, although
embracing the idea of sacral monarchy, insisted that Machiavellian precepts ought
to be reserved for a select company or communicated only to the prince.

Donaldson concludes his study with an analysis of Louis Machon's attempt to
connect divine raison d'��tat with Machiavelli. Focusing on several Machiavellian

248 / Renaissance and Reformation

"amoral" precepts, such as the necessity of violence, cruelty, and dissimulation,
Machon justified their righteousness by showing that similar political tenets are
found not only in ancient history, but also in the Bible. Convinced of the sacredness
of kingship, he combined, like Naud�� before him, Machiavellian ideology with the
principle of imitatio dei, suggesting that the so-called Machiavellian //ogmo were
necessary means employed by kings who, as rulers, enjoyed divine exemption from
ordinary laws.

Donaldson expertly guides the reader through a series of Renaissance percep-
tions, interpretations and misinterpretations of Machiavellian ideology. Although
the book consists primarily of essays published separately thematic coherence and
clarity of style guarantee a most profitable reading. However, in the first few pages
the reader may be somewhat distracted by the author's penchant for repetition:
"mysteries of state or arcana imperii (viii). . . political mysteries or arcana imperii
(xi). . . arcana imperii or mystery of state (xii). . . arcana imperii or secrete of rule
(9). . . arcana imperii or mysteries of state" (86), or ". . . Kantorowicz, from whom
I draw my title" (x). . . Kantorowicz's article from which I draw my title" (xiii), or
"Pole claimed that this speech was the result of the satanic influence of Machiavelli
on Cromwell (18). . . "Pole believed, then, that this speech was the result of the
Satanic influence of Machiavelli or Cromwell" (19). While there are relatively few
and minor errors in the body of the work, more than half of the Index has been
omitted, ending abruptly with the letter 1. 1 should hope that the oversight occurred
only in a few samples, for it would be difficult to understand how a reputable
university press can allow such a lapse to go undetected.

SALVATORE DI MARIA, University of Tennessee

Dix conf��rences sur Érasme, Études r��unies par Claude Blum. Paris-Gen��ve,
Champion-Slatkine, 1988, 178 p.

Ces Dix conf��rences ont ��t�� prononc��es lors des journ��es organis��es par
l'Universit�� de Bale et le Centre Culturel Suisse, les 11 et 12 avril 1986, �� Paris,
pour c��l��brer le quatre-cent-cinquanti��me anniversaire de la mort d'Érasme. Les
organisateurs des journ��es Érasme avaient retenu, dans l'oeuvre immense du Prince
des humanistes, les deux sujets suivants: / 'Éloge de la Folie et les Colloques. Certes,
ces deux livres sont parmi les plus repr��sentatifs du g��nie d'Érasme, et en tout cas
parmi les mieux connus.

Dans sa pr��face, L��on-E. Halkin souligne que la renomm��e des Colloques et de
y Éloge repose sur un ��trange malentendu. Les lecteurs, le plus souvent, ont appr��ci��
la veine satirique de V Éloge et le talent du conteur des Colloques; ils ont ainsi

Renaissance et R��forme / 249

privil��gi�� l'artiste aux d��pens du t��moin. Or, aujourd'hui, il apparaît clairement que
V Éloge est un pamphlet religieux et que les Colloques sont des sc��nes de la vie
catholique au d��but du seizi��me si��cle. Apr��s avoir donn�� un bref historique de la
longue gestation des Colloques qui va de 1518 �� 1533, Halkin en r��sume l'esprit
qui consiste �� peindre les hommes �� la fois comme ils sont et comme ils devraient
��tre. Quant �� V Éloge de la Folie, il se r��v��le comme un texte difficile, non pas tant
dirig�� contre la religion, mais visant plutôt �� d��masquer tous ceux qui prennent leur
propre gloire pour celle de Dieu.

La communication de Marc Fumaroli esquisse ce que pourrait ��tre une ��tude sur
"la r��ception europ��enne de V Éloge de la Folie'\ Au plan de l'��loquence th��âtrale,
VÉloge contient en germe tout le mythe rabelaisien de la Dive Bouteille, il est
g��n��rateur du personnage type d��velopp�� par l'Ar��tin, g��n��rateur aussi de la
conception du Don Quichotte; VÉloge est encore clef de d��chiffrement des Essais
de Montaigne et de la dramaturgie de Shakespeare; lui doivent beaucoup encore la
technique pol��mique de Pascal dans les Provinciales, et son argumentation
apolog��tique dans les Pens��es; enfin, cette critique de la Folie humaine tisse
l'oeuvre d'un Moli��re, celle encore de la cohorte des moralistes comme La Fon-
taine, La Rochefoucauld, La Bruy��re et autres. Sur le plan de l'��criture en Je,
Fumaroli d��montre admirablement comment Érasme lance pour sa longue aventure
le Je moderne, celui notamment de Descartes dans le Discours. C'est le Je laïc et
litt��raire de la Folie, de la m��lancolie, du doute qui se connaissent pour tels; ce Je
pourvu d'une ombre, et en voyage, (par opposition �� la parole institutionnelle,
impersonnelle, sans ombre, immobile de l'autorit�� dogmatique), ne peut parler que
sur le mode de l'essai, dans le risque qui ��branle les certitudes ordinaires.

Pour Marcel Tetel, deux parties de VEloge, correspondant �� une c��sure situ��e aux
deux tiers du texte, opposeraient une rh��torique humaine �� une rh��torique divine.
La premi��re partie constituerait un ��norme dulce bas�� sur la copia (verborum ac
rerum) et sur la d��formation voulue des objets et des personnages; ici Dame Folie
s'adonne �� une logorrh��e, car pour gu��rir les fous, il faut une d��mence verbale. Le
lecteur aime le mensonge, le faux, le monde �� l'envers, au moyen duquel il pourra
plus tard mieux percevoir le vrai; il se plaît m��me davantage dans le faux que dans
le vrai, car celui-l�� fait partie de la "praxis" quotidienne et repr��sente la norme
humaine. La seconde partie, d��bouchant directement sur "l'utile", substituerait au
verbe humain, le Verbe originel, fondateur, divin, celui d'une rh��torique "pr��cise"
et non plus invers��e.

Sp��cialiste de l'��tude du dialogue, Eva Kushner voit dans les Co //cx^we^ d'Érasme
un mod��le moderne mais composite, nourri de trois formes antiques. Érasme
s'inspire du dialogue platonicien, o�� la voix de Socrate, personnage principal,
domine le discours, lequel vise avant tout la v��rit�� universelle. L'humaniste
s'inspire encore du dialogue cic��ronien, o�� deux, sinon plusieurs personnages se
partagent la parole pour exposer les points de vue diff��rents, portant sur la situation
concr��te du pr��sent. Enfin, bien entendu, la touche fortement ironique et satirique

250 / Renaissance and Reformation

de Lucien est exploit��e par Érasme avec toute l'aisance qu'on lui reconnaît dans
cette veine. Ainsi les interlocuteurs des Colloques vivent la qu��te d'une v��rit�� ��
d��couvrir, en confrontant leur exp��rience personnelle, sous l'oeil amus�� d'Érasme
qui se permet de les faire passer du rôle de questionneur �� celui de questionn�� et
vice-versa, alors que le discours de l'autre interpelle l'autre du discours.

Jean-Claude Margolin s'attarde �� un seul colloque assez peu connu, intitul��
"Écho", sorte de dialogue po��tique entre un jeune homme et l'Écho. Petit chef-
d'oeuvre de rh��torique, ce texte s'inscrit dans une longue tradition culturelle,
comme fiction litt��raire et prouesse formelle en jeu(x) de langage, entrecroisement
ou d��calage(s) de sens. La grande originalit�� d'Érasme c'est d'avoir jet�� par-dessus
bord la l��gende de Narcisse et d'Écho, venue d'Ovide; son invention, c'est d'avoir
mis en sc��ne deux personnages dont la situation respective apparaît fort diff��rente.
Dans la cadence s��che et saccad��e des questions et r��ponses, Margolin d��c��le une
critique souriante des m��thodes p��dagogiques scolastiques, fort ��loign��es des
m��thodes humanistes o�� se pratiquent le sens des nuances et la "copia verborum".
Le colloque "Écho" pose notamment le probl��me de l' initiation ou du Ciceronianus;
il constitue en somme un raccourci panoramique des questions d'actualit�� soulev��es
��galement avec d��rision dans les reste des Colloques.

Deux expos��s — ceux de Franz Bierlaire et de Ren�� Hoven — ont port��, si l'on
peut dire, sur une critique externe des Colloques. Bierlaire s'est attach�� �� l'��tude
de la premi��re ��dition falsif��e, celle de Lambert Campester, dont l'un des proc��d��s
consiste �� transformer les personnages des Colloques en luth��riens avou��s pour
mieux les ramener ensuite dans le giron de l'Église romaine; impossible ici de
reonnaître le v��ritable Érasme. Ren�� Hoven s'est risqu��, avec succ��s, �� trancher la
question depuis longtemps d��battue, �� savoir si le dialogue intitul�� "Conflit de
Thalie et de Barbarie" ��tait bien une oeuvre d'Érasme, d'abord, et ensuite si ce
dialogue faisait partie des Colloques; la r��ponse est positive dans le premier cas,
n��gative dans le second, et avec de solides arguments �� l'appui.

La conf��rence de Charles B��n�� porte sur le colloque d'Érasme sans doute le plus
controvers��; le "Naufrage" permet �� Érasme de d��crire les r��actions affol��es des
matelots, et du coup d'en faire une v��ritable tribune dirig��e contre les perversions
de la pi��t�� traditionnelle. Un autre point fort chez B��n��, c'est d'avoir analys�� en
d��tail l'une des nombreuses ��ditions expurg��es de ce colloque, et d'avoir marqu��
le statut ambigu d'Érasme, ult��rieurement: on continue �� l'aimer et �� l'admirer, et
c'est pour cette raison qu'on le censure, en des ��ditions expurg��es.

A propos du long colloque intitul�� "P��lerinage pour cause de religion", la
communication d'Andr�� Godin fait ressortir la volont�� d'Érasme de d��valoriser, ��
tout le moins de critiquer deux institutions probl��matiques de la Chr��tient��: le
p��lerinage, le monachisme. Ces th��mes sont trait��s avec ampleur par Érasme qui
les applique �� quatre p��lerinages c��l��bres, dont ceux de Saint-Jacques de Com-
postelle et de Saint-Thomas de Cantorb��ry. Godin y voit �� l'oeuvre un processus de
d��sacralisation qui, ant��rieur �� Érasme, va s'acc��l��rer dans les si��cles suivants.

Renaissance et R��forme / 251

Alors qu'il avait ��t�� un lien universel entre les chr��tiens au Moyen Age, le
p��lerinage a ��t�� confisqu�� de façon sectaire par chacun des ordres religieux au temps
d'Érasme, d'o�� m��lange aigu de survivances et de d��crochages dans l'imaginaire
collectif. La d��mystification prôn��e par Érasme ne se limite pas �� une port��e
n��gative, mais s'accompagne d'une mise en lumi��re des valeurs sp��cifiques d'un
christianisme nouveau, ��pur��, spiritualise, int��rioris��. En ce sens, Rome n'est plus
dans Rome, mais �� r��aliser dans une asc��se "domestique" telle que propos��e d��j��
avec r Enchiridion.

Traitant de l'amour dans V Eloge de la Folie et les Colloques, Jacques Chomarat
distingue deux positions nettement divergentes d'Érasme vis-��-vis de la sexualit��.
Avant les Colloques, les relations sexuelles se pr��sentent soit comme des moments
de folie donnant lieu �� des actes fonci��rement ridicules, soit comme un pis-aller
n��cessaire �� la procr��ation des enfants, notamment dans les relations conjugales.
Chomarat souligne que cette position se place dans le droit fil de la tradition
chr��tienne, et qu'Érasme, qui fut moine, a ��t�� form�� dans cette tradition. En
revanche, �� l'��poque de ses travaux bibliques et patristiques, et particuli��rement
dans les Colloques, l'��valuation a chang��: si Érasme continue �� d��pr��cier la
pr��tendue virginit�� monastique et �� vilipender la luxure, par contre, entre ces deux
extr��mes, il exalte la vie conjugale y compris la sexualit�� qui passe ainsi du côt�� du
bien. Avec V Enchiridion en 1503, le rapprochement entre sexualit�� humaine et
sexualit�� animale signifiait le caract��re bestial et d��gradant de l'acte sexuel; avec
les Colloques en 1521, il manifeste sa nature innocente et pour ainsi dire

Dans sa communication intitul��e "l'ennemi de la magnificence", Andr�� Chastel
s'attache �� d��montrer comment Érasme est rest�� ��tranger, ou plutôt hostile �� tout
un aspect de son ��poque. Les grands papes visent �� la restitution de la Rome antique,
la Rome imp��riale, pour servir �� l'exaltation de la Rome chr��tienne. Érasme
condamne toute cette religion "spectaculaire" qu'il affuble du nom de Paganisme.
La position d'Érasme tient ici en deux termes compl��mentaires: d'une part, horreur
de la vertu de pauvret�� au sens des moines mendiants, car il n'y a l�� que pure
hypocrisie; d'autre part, horreur du faste et de la magnificence des gens d'Église,
aussi bien que des d��cors pompeux, car sous l'apparence d'une telle d��votion se
cachent ostentation, lucre et orgueil. La pens��e intime d'Érasme favorise un mys-
ticisme de l'union personnelle avec Dieu, engendrant une vision ironique et loin-
taine d'un certain monde humain.

Le volume se clôt sur une s��rie de conclusions pr��sent��es par Jean-Claude
Margolin. L'auteur se demande d'ailleurs comment il peut conclure, alors que l'une
des caract��ristiques de cette rencontre fut l'ouverture, l'interrogation, la mise en
perspective, et encore la discussion prolongeant les communications. En bref, tout
l'ensemble constitue une solide publication, aussi riche que vari��e.

BENOÎT BEAULIEU, Universit�� Laval

252 / Renaissance and Reformation

Carole Levin. Propaganda and the English Reformation: Heroic and Villainous
Images of King John. Studies in British History, Volume 1 1 . Lewiston/Queenston:
Edwin Mellen Press, 1988. Pp. xi, 303.

This book is an exhaustive investigation of the ways Tudor and early Stuart writers
depicted King John and how their views of him changed over time. As Carole Levin
shows, there was surprising and often dramatic variation in their portrayal of the
monarch. Thirteenth century chroniclers drew the initial character sketch: John the
glutton, the lecher, the betrayer of his father and brother, the murderer of his nephew,
and — above all — John the wicked enemy of the Church. This image remained
essentially unaltered until the early sixteenth century when, suddenly, John under-
went a Soviet-like rehabilitation.

The reason for the change was obvious: Henry VIII's matrimonial difficulties and
his subsequent jurisdictional quarrel with Rome created a desperate need for
anti-papal, and preferably royal, heroes from England's past who could be used as
propaganda weapons on the King's behalf. In the hands of polemicists such as
William Tyndale and Simon Fish in the late 1520s, John the erstwhile villain was
transformed into John the tragic hero. The transformation became complete in the
1530s, thanks mainly to the influence of Thomas Cromwell. Under his patronage,
writers such as Robert Barnes, Miles Coverdale and the dramatist John Bale
skilfully fashioned a new John who stood forth as the defender of the English
Church in the face of papal pretensions. His chief misfortune was to fall victim to
the machination of Pope Innocent and his clerical henchmen.

But the new image did not survive the political exigencies that brought it forth.
Alterations in the religious and political climate after 1540 caused alterations in the
way John was presented. The next generation of writers depicted a more complex
King John: a monarch who deserved praise for standing up to Innocent III and the
King of France, but who also deserved censure for submitting his realm to the
papacy in 1 21 3. As well, the story of John's troublesome reign provided a cautionary
tale for Elizabethan on the evils of rebellion against a lawful monarch. The late
sixteenth century also saw Catholic propagandists such as John Leslie, William
Allen and Robert Parsons use John in their efforts to discredit Elizabeth.

With the early seventeenth century, the image of John began to blur around the
edges. Relations with international Catholicism changed and so did the need to see
John as a religious hero. Instead, writers shifted their focus more to the political
aspects of John's reign. Then, with the struggle between Charles I and the Long
Parliament, political writers discovered and put to effective use Magna Carta — a
document hitherto barely regarded in the histories of the preceding century.

Levin's book rests upon an impressive amount of research. There cannot be many
references to John in the published records of the period that she overlooked.
Besides a thorough treatment of the standard histories, she analyses dozens of

Renaissance et R��forme / 253

shorter treatises, pamphlets, broadsides and poems. She devotes a separate chapter
to the major dramatic works on John, focusing particularly on the anonymous The
Troublesome Reign of King John and Shakespeare's King John.

It is unfortunate that, having plowed up so much evidence on John, Levin did not
resist the temptation to tell all. Raphael Holinshed's confession in the introduction
to his Chronicle, "I was loth to omit anie thing that might increase the readers
knowledge," could apply equally to this book. Scholars will find this a useful index
to the citations of John in Tudor and Stuart writings, but there is a lot of detail in
the text that might have been relegated to footnotes or omitted altogether. A case in
point is the presentation of mini-biographies of almost every writer Levin takes up.
This might be necessary for the more obscure commentators, but it becomes an
awkward and annoying device when applied to such well-known figures as Tyndale,
Coverdale, Matthew Parker and John Foxe. Is it really necessary for a book with
such a narrow focus that is aimed primarily at Tudor-Stuart specialists to note that
Foxe remained poor because he devoted so much time to helping victims of the
plague, a disease "which was endemic in England in the sixteenth century?"

There is, at the same time, a degree of carelessness with certain details. Levin is
incorrect to imply (pp.74-5) that Cromwell was at the centre of power and directing
a propaganda campaign as early as 153 L Also, he was vice-gerent in spirituals, not
vice-regent; Francis Godwin was Bishop of Llandaff, not Llandalf; "Grey's Inn"
should be Gray's Inn; and to claim that popes mistreated "secular kings" is to imply
that there were other kinds. Minor typographical errors are sprinkled throughout the

Students who are drawn to this book by its title will be disappointed to find that
it contains little on how, if at all, the English people responded to the changing
interpretations of King John. Levin assumes, for example, that because Cromwell's
men devised a new image of John, the reading public accepted it. She also concludes
that this revised version of John did not become accepted dogma after the 1530s
because of the changing nature of English Protestantism and because it somehow
failed to be taken up at the popular level. Why this was so is not explored in enough
detail. Levin is right to conclude that efforts to rehabilitate John failed because "lies
are ephemeral and vanish in the natural course of things." But, of course, only some
lies vanished; others became orthodoxy. It remains for another study of propaganda
in the English Reformation to show precisely how and why this occurred.

G.L. OWENS, Huron College, University of Western Ontario

254 / Renaissance and Reformation

Bernard Rivet. Une ville auXVf si��cle. LePuy-en-Velay. Pr��f. E. Le Roy Ladurie.
Le Puy, Cahiers de la Haute-Loire, 1988, 463 p., 15 p.j., glossaire, 31 cartes et

Les monographies consacr��es �� une ville au seizi��me si��cle sont rares. Il faut donc
appr��cier comme il se doit celle que nous apporte B. Rivet en publiant sa th��se de
troisi��me cycle soutenue en 1987. Il faut aussi souligner le m��rite des Cahiers de
la Haute-Loire qui ont permis l'��dition d'un bon travail universitaire; l'��v��nement
devient rare en France.

En abordant son sujet, l'auteur n'a pas craint de surmonter une ��norme difficult��:
l'absence quasi totale d'archives communales au Puy pour le seizi��me si��cle. Il a
palli�� cette carence par l'��tude compl��te de deux compoix, ou registres cadastraux,
l'un de 1408, l'autre de 1455; par le d��pouillement int��gral de 9580 actes notari��s
et enfin par la relecture des deux c��l��bres chroniques locales d'Etienne de M��dicis
et de Jean Burel.

L'��rudition mise en oeuvre est impressionnante; elle se mesure �� la qualit�� des
tableaux et graphiques et surtout de la remarquable cartographie tir��e des compoix
et des minutes. Mais le risque que fait courir ce genre d'entreprise, c'est d'aboutir
�� une description minutieuse des choses sortant de fiches r��parties selon un plan ��
tiroir. Il n'est pas sûr que B. Rivet l'ait totalement ��vit��; de ci de l��, l'oeuvre s'en
ressent. Toutefois la question pos��e, car il y en a une et d'importance, est une vraie,
une grande question d'histoire. Tout au long de la p��riode, Le Puy offre l'image
exemplaire de la banalit��; une ville moyenne d'environ 10 000 habitants, une bonne
ville bien conforme au mod��le dont j'ai eu l'occasion de donner les traits, paisible,
sans histoire, si l'on peut dire, qui se distingue brutalement au temps de la Ligue.
Le Puy se jette dans la r��bellion avec une passion croissante qui atteint son
paroxysme en 1594, ann��e dramatique marqu��e par l'ex��cution aveugle et
sommaire de notables poursuivis par la vindicte des masses. Or ce faisant, la ville
se trouve compl��tement isol��e, en butte �� l'incompr��hension de tout le pays dont
elle ��tait jusque l�� l'unique et incontest��e repr��sentante.

Voil�� donc le probl��me pos��; il met en cause non seulement l'histoire des guerres
de religion, mais plus g��n��ralement celle de l'instinct de violence collective qui se
love au sein de tant de soci��t��s, m��me les plus paisibles en apparence. B. Rivet
donne-t-il au probl��me une r��ponse unique et simple? Loin de l��; avec prudence,
avec une incontestable ouverture d'esprit aussi, il ��vite les jugements abrupts et les
formules �� l'emporte pi��ce. De l�� son souci de proc��der pas �� pas; de l�� aussi un
plan original qui l'am��ne �� mettre en place d'abord les fuctuations subies de la
conjoncture et le r��cit des ��v��nements v��cus, puis les fonctions de la ville et enfin
le substrat culturel et social dont d��pend en d��finitive la r��ponse. L'inconv��nient
de cette d��marche, quelque peu d��routante, c'est que le probl��me religieux.

Renaissance et R��forme / 255

��videmment essentiel, se trouve obscurci par le morcellement de son examen
disloqu�� entre les trois parties.

De l'��tude ainsi conduite, il ressort que Le Puy est au seizi��me si��cle l'unique
bonne ville du Velay, centre politique, religieux et judiciaire, son seul repr��sentant
aux ��tats locaux et �� ceux du Languedoc et qui profite de cette situation dominante
pour rejeter sur le plat pays la charge fiscale (il en supporte 89,3% en 1572!). Une
ville conduite sans d��bats par une oligarchie consulaire, en place depuis deux
si��cles, captatrice d'honneurs, de b��n��fices et de seigneuries, et qui veille �� sa
coh��sion en utilisant toutes les ressources du droit familial. Une ville dont la zone
d'influence, mesur��e par celle du recrutement des apprentis, des migrants et de la
client��le des notaires, ne d��passe pas l'horizon habituel des 30 kilom��tres �� la ronde.

Cet horizon limit�� laisse place �� deux ouvertures: celles que cr��ent d'une part le
p��lerinage toujours tr��s fr��quent��, de l'autre l'activit�� de Lyon et de ses foires grâce
�� laquelle hôteliers, muletiers et quelques repr��sentants de m��tiers bien plac��s (les
tanneurs par exemple) se portent tr��s bien.

Est-ce par l�� qu'arrivent avec les capitaux ext��rieurs les bouleversantes id��es
nouvelles? B. Rivet le sugg��re pour une part, non sans d��montrer tr��s clairement
aussi qu'aucun des grands mouvements du si��cle ne transforme les esprits, ni
l'humanisme inconnu avant la fondation du coll��ge municipal en 1571, ni la
"Renaissance", ni m��me la R��forme presque insaisissable avant que n'��clatent les
guerres de religion.

Alors pourquoi le drame dans une soci��t�� o�� la propension �� la violence n'est ni
plus ni moins marqu��e qu'ailleurs? Probablement par l'effet de cette coh��sion
tranquille, sociale et culturelle, qu'alimente aussi un tr��s fort patriotisme municipal
pouss�� jusqu'au rejet de l'��tranger. Le protestantisme, suspect�� sans plus, avant la
vaine attaque arm��e de 1562, est alors senti comme une agression ext��rieure
appuy��e par la trahison. Sentiment qui s'exacerbe jusqu'au d��lire meurtrier,
lorsqu'apr��s l'assassinat du duc de Guise, le roi lui-m��me semble avoir pris la t��te
de la trahison. La ville, sûre d'avoir raison, fût-ce contre tout ce pays qu'elle a trop
longtemps domin�� pour ne pas le m��priser, fût-ce contre une partie de sa propre
��lite, d��fend sa coh��sion, son unit�� et sa culture en m��me temps que la bonne
religion, celle qui inspire la d��votion �� la Vierge du Puy.

^ Mais la rupture est telle avec tout ce qui constituait les bases de l'ordre ��tabli,
que, la tourmente pass��e, l'on veut tout oublier pour tenter, en vain, de vivre comme

Voil�� tout ce que l'on peut retirer d'un livre solidement men��, ��crit avec ��l��gance,
qui a le double m��rite de ramener �� la petite mesure de tant de villes moyennes la
fameuse "modernit��" du seizi��me si��cle et d'��clairer fortement les motifs profonds
de cette ultime d��fense de l'autonomie et de la vieille culture urbaine qu'a ��t�� la

B. CHEVALIER, Universit�� de Tours

256 / Renaissance and Reformation

David Lee Miller. The Poem 's Two Bodies. The Poetics of the 1590 Faerie Queene.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988. Pp. xiii, 297. $29.50 U.S.

Reading Miller's book is like trying to negotiate one's way through a mirrored
labyrinth. While progress is difficult and disorienting, the book succeeds in reveal-
ing previously invisible or unnoticed aspects of its subject: the figure of the human
body in the first three books of Spenser 'sT^aene Queene. The title, The Poem 's Two
Bodies: The Poetics of the 1590 Faerie Queene, refers, primarily but by no means
exclusively, to the text we have and read in its relation to the ideal closure that it
endlessly and teasingly promises.

Miller's sense of Spenser's dual poetics is based, again primarily but not exclu-
sively, on two models. One, invoked obviously in the title of the book, is Ernst
Kantorowicz's exposition of the medieval theory that the monarch is simultaneously
a natural person, with all the weaknesses of the natural condition, and the flawless
epitome of the state, which miraculously dissolves those weaknesses {The King's
Two Bodies: A Study of Medieval Political Theology, Princeton: Princeton Univer-
sity Press, 1957). The other model is the psychoanalytic paradigm propounded in
Jacques Lacan 's famous essay on the formation of the infantile ego ("The Mirror
Stage as Formative of the Function of the I," Ecrits: A Selection, trans. Alan
Sheridan, New York: Norton, 1977, 1-7). Lacan proposes that the infant's sense of
identity originates with the sight either of its own reflection in a mirror or of another
body, typically the mother's. (Thus the ego is always already alienated because the
sense of the self is inseparable from the sense of the other.) The association of the
self with the image of (any)body begins a lifelong struggle between an ideal of
wholeness and the weakness and dependence first and most conspicuously of the
infant in particular and then of the human being in general.

The psychoanalytic model lends itself to Miller's work because psychoanalysis
is a uniquely physical mode of thought: it attaches to the body and its parts symbolic
values prior to the acquisitions of language. As well it enables Miller to assimilate
parental and political authority to one another. Thus it converges with
Kantorowicz's model and with Miller's own historical and political interests.

According to Miller, the resulting map figures the experience of the text of The
Faerie Queene, of its readers, and of its protagonists. All find recompense for their
respective senses of inadequacy, frustration, and loss in a dream of fulfilment that
advances relentlessly into a future beyond the text, where temporal and transcen-
dental rewards coalesce. Miller argues that Spenser's "aesthetic theology" depends
on an economy of the "negative moment": repudiation becomes the condition of a
higher mode of being. The process resembles the experience of the Neoplatonic
lover who rises by contemplation of the physical beauty of the beloved to knowledge
of the soul, only eventually to lose interest in the physical beauty with which he
started. Analogously the second two of Spenser's Fowre Hymnes retract, by extend-
ing them, the first two, in which they obviously originate. Spenser's self-effacement

Renaissance et R��forme / 257

as poet of The Faerie Queene is the price he pays for his public role as prophetic
laureate; Arthur's erotic wound is the price of his vision of Gloriana; the Red Cross
Knight's sufferings in the House of Holiness are the price of the vision he experi-
ences on the Mount of Contemplation. All alike are "'precipitated from insuffi-
ciency to anticipation' through an open-ended series of displacements, a series that
repeatedly abandons what is literal or bodily in quest of a higher unity whose closure
is terminally deferred" (144: the interior quotation is from Lacan).

In The Faerie Queene, Miller writes, the human figure "naturalizes an authori-
tarian image of restraint, fulfilling one of the classic functions of ideology: to derive
political structures from nature or God" (155). Thus Spenser's male protagonists
are emasculated; and in the allegory of the human body in Alma's house the genitals
are displaced first to the heart (the parlor where Guyon and Arthur meet
Shamefastnesse and Prays-desire) and then to the head, where the repressed femi-
nine begins its return in anxiety about the royal succession expressed in the two
chronicle. The feminine emerges again, duly subordinated to the masculine Logos,
in the Garden of Adonis, with its allegory of fertility in nature and the imagination.

The Faerie Queene, Miller proposes "reflects a poetics of incorporation that
could have been formulated only after the Reformation in England had hastened
the long-term process through which the national state assumed the role of preem-
inent corporate entity in political life, and before the idea of the state had detached
itself from the person of the monarch" (17). He argues that the allegory of The
Faerie Queene is continuous with the social, political, and economic organization
of its environment: the form of the poem is shaped by the historical forces acting
on it and in turn shapes them. If the Queen and her courtiers can make or break the
career of an aspiring laureate, he empowers them as well by contributing to the
mythology that situates them in their respective relationships of authority.

While I have tried here to emphasize the large contours of Miller's complex
argument, I must also stress that that argument is based on a close and remarkably
perceptive reading of The Shepheardes Calender and Fowre Hymnes, as well as of
The Faerie Queene, not to mention an encyclopedic array of historical, political,
philosophical, and physiological works. Miller writes that: "In turning this book
over to such readers as it may find, I hope it complicates their work in ways that
prove fruitful" (28). In the opinion of this reader, his book repays the considerable
effort it requires.

JOANNE CRAIG, Bishop's University

258 / Renaissance and Reformation

Albert N. Mancini. / "Capitoli" letterari de Francesco Bolognetti. Naples:
Federico & Ardia, 1989. Pp. 213.

If there were ever a period characterized by the all-pervasive and heated debate
about literary criticism so typical of the late twentieth-century, it was precisely the
second half of the Cinquecento. Just as the present theoretical battles concern issues
such as time, being, language and, generally speaking, the post-structural critique"
of knowledge, theorists of the latter part of the sixteenth-century were preoccupied
with, among other things, the aesthetics of epic poetry. The issues were many; for
example: the type of literary model to be employed, the sort of language which best
suited epic poetry, and questions dealing with the appropriate depiction of charac-
ters. While the discourse of post-structuralism has become, according to Susan A.
Handelman, a variety of "substitute theology" which is essentially oblivious to the
structure of genres and to the formal constructions that define the art of literature,
the problems discussed in the late Cinquecento were related instead to what the term
"aesthetics" originally meant; in Peter Demetz's words: "the secular attention to an
inalienable element of sensuality and its jouissance''. In other terms, the critical
interests focused on the formal texture and thematic domain of a literary work.

In his book, Mancini, a critically acclaimed scholar of the Seicento novel, aims
to offer a fresh perspective on the theoretical debates concerning epic poetry in the
Renaissance. In a more specific sense the study centers upon the relatively unknown
figure of Francesco Bolognetti, author of, among other works, the epic poem
Costante. Mancini's study consists of six chapters plus an Appendix. Chapters two
to six each contain an introduction to and a commentary on an apologetic verse
composition or "capitolo letterario" addressed to a number of literary figures of
Renaissance Italy.

In the opening chapter we are offered essential biographical data concerning
Bolognetti whom we find to have been very active in the cultural life of Cinquecento
Bologna. Mancini provides a succinct critical overview of Bolognetti 's poetic
works; the Christiana vittoria marittima. La vita di san Tommaso d' Aquino, the
Antenore and // piacere. But the writing which is of particular interest to the
understanding of Bolognetti 's poetics are the "capitoli" which deal with the Cos-
tante and with the nature of epic poetry in general. Chapter two contains a "capitolo"
addressed to Annibal Caro where Bolognetti speaks about civil and family obliga-
tions that interfere with his own literary career. The third chapter reproduces an
edition of a "capitolo" directed to Sperone Speroni who had entertained some
reservations about the Costante and it deals with Bolognetti 's answers to the
criticism. In chapter four we find a version of a "capitolo" addressed to Alberico
Longo, while in chapters five and six we are provided with "capitolo" respectively
concerning Giraldi Cinzio and Giovanni Battista Pigna. In the Appendix Mancini
includes versions of epistles by Bolognetti, Girolamo Muzio along with pages of

Renaissance et R��forme / 259

criticism by Speroni, M. Antonio Tritonio, and Giraldi Cinzio's answer to
Bolognetti's "capitolo".

These texts are hardly marginal, however, as they are essential to the articulation
of the complex debates that involved Bolognetti and the art of epic poetry.

/ capitoli letterari is of interest and importance for at least two reasons: firstly,
we are offered the relatively inaccessible texts of a figure who was involved in
debates with major critics such as Speroni and Giraldi Cinzio; secondly, Mancini's
detailed critical exposition to each "capitolo" offers some first-rate critical formu-
lations. The author manoeuvers through primary and secondary sources with ease
and confidence. In essence, the reader is given the fullest spectrum of the theoretical
and historical concerns that underpin each "capitolo". At the same time Mancini
heeds much attention to the aesthetic sensibility of Bolognetti and his contempo-

PAUL COLILLI, Laurentian University






New Series, Vol. XIV, No. 4 Nouvelle S��rie, Vol. XIV, No. 4

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New Series, Vol. XIV, No. 4 Nouvelle S��rie, Vol. XIV, No. 4

Old Series, Vol. XXVI, No. 4 1990 Ancienne S��rie, Vol. XXVI, No. 4




The Alexandrian Fracastoro: Form and Meaning in the Myth of Syphilus,

by Gilbert L. Gigliotti


Scioppius' Pen against the English King's Sword: The Political Function of

Ambiguity and Anonymity in Early Seventeenth Century Literature,

by Winfried Schleiner


Writing the Self / Writing about the Self: "Auteur" and "Autruy"

in Tabourot Des Accords' Les bigarrures,

by Catharine Randall Coats

Writing in the Heavenly Language: A Guide to the Works of David Joris,

by Gary K. Waite



Daniel Carpi, Between Renaissance and Ghetto. Essays on the

History of the Jews in Italy in the 14th and 17th Centuries,

compte rendu par Joseph Shatzmiller


Paolo Prodi, The Papal Prince,

reviewed by Rita Belladonna


William Baldwin. Beware the Cat: The First English Novel

reviewed by William W. Barker


G��rard Defaux, Marot, Rabelais, Montaigne: l'��criture comme pr��sence,

compte rendu par Diane Desrosiers-Bonin


Rosemary O'Day, The Debate on the English Reformation,

reviewed by Thomas F. Mayer


Paul R. Sellin, So Doth, So is Religion. John Donne and Diplomatic .

Contexts in the Reformed Netherlands, 1619-1620

reviewed by Jeanne Shami


Christopher R. Armitage, Sir Walter Raleigh, an Annotated Bibliography,

and John R. Roberts, George Herbert, an Annotated Bibliography

of Modern Criticism

reviewed by E. J. Devereux


Sara Heller Mendelson, The Mental World of Stuart Women. Three Studies.

reviewed by Lorelei Cederstrom

The Alexandrian Fracastoro: Form and
Meaning in the Myth of Syphilus



iromalo Fracastoro, at the conclusion of his poem Syphilis, shows a keen
awareness of the complexities of Alexandrian narrative technique.^ As Virgil
had done before him, Fracastoro ends his didactic poem with a lengthy and
involved aition. Based upon the Aristaeus/Orpheus epyllion on the genesis
of bougonia in Book IV of the Georgics, the Renaissance poet's narrative
details the origin of the guaiacum, a tree from which comes a cure for
syphilis. Fracastoro, however, utilizes the interplay between the frame -
Columbus' discovery of the New World - and the imbedded myth - the curse
inflicted upon the shepherd Syphilus — not only to illustrate the beginnings
of the disease and the origins of that "Holy Wood," but also to comment
upon the seemingly inescapable contradictions of human experience.^

Fracastoro wrote Syphilis between 1510 and 1526 and published it in 1530.
The work is a Latin hexameter poem in three books on the symptoms,
treatment and origins of the "French Disease," which only later became
synonymous with the title of the poem (Castiglioni 454; Eatough 12). Julius
Caesar Scaliger hailed the work as a "divine poem" (315), and according to
the historian Jacobus Augustus Thuanus, even Fracastoro' s rivals acclaimed
him second only to Virgil (Eatough 214-215). Fracastoro was also an es-
teemed physician, astronomer and friend of the era's most influential men.
He held the position of Physician to the Council of Trent (Castiglioni 467)
and dedicated Syphilis to Pietro Cardinal Bembo (1.5) and Pope Leo X (11.47).
Medical historians have referred to him as the "father of modern pathology"
for the insight he displays in such works as his 1546 prose treatise De
Contagione et Contagionis Morbis (Singer 1). He was indeed a Renaissance

Geoffrey Eatough has recently published an excellent critical text, transla-
tion, and commentary on Syphilis. The time is now ripe for a literary study.
For upon close examination, Fracastoro appears as a poet, not merely well-

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 4 (1990) 261

262 / Renaissance and Reformation

versed in the Virgilian canon and hexameter (as so many medieval centoists
had been). He also displays a complete knowledge of the narrative and poetic
techniques that Virgil and other Roman poets in the Alexandrian tradition

The scholar-poet Callimachus originated the Alexandrian tradition in the
third century B.C. to combat the simple perpetuation of Homeric mannerisms
in contemporary poetry (Newman 5). In reaction to such early third century
poets as Antimachus of Colophon and Choerilus of Samos, Callimachus
developed a new poetics inspired not by the comprehensive objectivity of
Homer but by the personal qualities of the Greek lyric. This Alexandrian
poetic emphasized the brevity and allusive quality of carefully chosen details,
the musicality of the individual verses, an highly pathetic style and the very
active role of the poet in the narrative (Newman 20-21). And it was this
definition of poetry and the various techniques practiced by Callimachus
which the Roman Alexandrian poets, such as Catullus and Virgil, adopted
(Newman 104).

An important Alexandrian technique is the framed narrative. This story-
within-a-story, in Latin exemplified by Catullus 64 and Virgil's Aristaeus
epyllion, presents a detailed and objective Homeric narrative as a frame to an
allusive, highly pathetic tale which depicts only the most emotional moments
(Otis 190 ff.). The poet thus achieves his poetic and thematic effects in the
contrasts and parallels drawn from the styles, situations and outcomes of the
two stories. In Catullus 64 and Georgics IV, for instance, this narrative
technique underscores the vast difference between the Golden Age and
contemporary times. Contemporary man is represented in the allusive pathos
and unhappy ending of the inset tales, while the Golden Age, that lost age of
easy intercourse between gods and men, is manifest in the stately epic style
and happy endings of the frames.

Fracastoro, in the final book of Syphilis, seems aware of the grand com-
plexities with which the framed narrative could deal, even if his tale-within-
a-tale is not, in the most complete sense, Callimachean. For the imbedded
aition of Syphilus is no more allusive or pathetic than the frame. Nor does the
Columbus frame possess an epic objectivity lacking in the inner tale. The
dichotomy holds on the surface (Columbus is a hero and Syphilus but âpastor
who is nearly sacrificed), but Fracastoro does not exploit the stylistic variation
of the tradition. Instead, he focuses completely upon the narrative structure
he learned from his Latin Alexandrian models.

In doing so the Renaissance poet creates a tension arising from a different
sort of juxtaposition. His pair of stories comment upon one another more

Renaissance et R��forme / 263

directly. A word or situation, for instance, used in a seemingly neutral manner
in one part will reverberate with new connotations in a different context.
Likewise, a theme will surface and resurface demanding a new analysis and
reintegration by the reader. The stories, in short, continually reinterpret each
other even as the involved narrative unfolds.

Fracastoro's aim is not far to seek. For the poet the "French Disease" is not
merely a medical problem. It is a symptom of much larger problems on a
much larger scale than the individuals or even cities that the disease attacks.
The age and its morality are at the root of it. And because of its pervasive,
albeit subtle, nature, the disease demands a comprehensive and subtle study
not possible in a straightforward didactic poem. The doctor, as it were, has
already listed the symptoms and effects of the disease (1.319 ff.) and the
various ways to combat it once contracted (11.66-282). At the conclusion of
the poem, it was time for the poet to put the disease into a more metaphysical

For this he looked to "Holy Virgil" as his guide and found the Aristaeus
myth a suitable and noble model. He openly reveals his debt by echoing the
Quis deus at the beginning of that tale in his own poem: "What god revealed
these practices to these people?" (III.90) recalls Virgil's "What god, Muses,
invented this art for us?" (IV.315).^ Indeed, Virgil's entire aition performs a
function very similar to Fracastoro's. Virgil in the epyllion raises onto a
mythical plane the ideas he discusses throughout the first three-and-one-half
books concerning the nature of work, the relationship between humanity and
nature, as well as the nature of humanity and the nature of the gods.^
Fracastoro's aition operates in precisely this way: poetically and mythically
not diagnostically.

The basic outline of the epyllion is simple. The frame is the journey of
Columbus. It begins with his ships at sea, his prayer for direction, and his
landing on Ophyre (90-150).^ In response to the Europeans' slaughter of the
island's sacred birds, one of the birds prophesies hardship, disaster, and
disease, which the Europeans will have to suffer (150-192). The natives of
Ophyre then approach the white men, make a treaty and celebrate with
feasting, drinking and games (182-231). While viewing a religious ritual of
the natives, in which the priests treat diseased people with an indigenous plant,
Columbus recognizes the disease as the very one foretold by the prophetic
bird (232-252). He asks the king of the natives the origin of the rites, and in
reply, the king tells the two inset tales. The first is about the gods' destruction
of Atlantia, the home of the natives' ancestors (265-281). The second
concerns the punishment of another ancestor, the shepherd Syphilus (282-

264 / Renaissance and Reformation

379). The frame concludes with the shocking discovery by Columbus and his
crew, on their arrival home, of the spread of the disease throughout the Old
World. They fortunately hold the cure (380-400).

Within the basic framework, Fracastoro has intricately interwoven the
parts. He begins with Columbus, "the great-hearted hero" (III. 104), entreating
the moon, Phoebe, to help him and his crew to find the "long-hoped-for port"
(1 10). They need her aid because they do not know the way and are wandering
aimlessly (97). The moon, in the guise of a nymph, tells them that their
journey's end is near. She directs them through many islands and streams to
Ophyre which, she says, is theirs. Ophyre, this promised land, will be the
"head of an empire" (imperii ... caput) and is "owed" (d��bita) them as a
reward (120-121).

The reader soon discovers that Columbus' success, his discovery, is not an
unmixed blessing however. Fracastoro hints at the daring nature of
Columbus' quest with an allusion to Catullus 64.^ Like the Argonauts in that
poem (15), Columbus is seeing things (e.g. monstra ... Nereides) which no
man has seen before (98-100). And, perhaps, just as in Catullus 64, this may
be the first step in the path toward man's challenge of the gods, his disrespect
towards them, and thus the beginning of the end of the Golden Age. For the
allusion invites the reader to reinterpret the curses on the modern world which
Fracastoro lists in Book II - war, disease, crime, poverty and famine (16-23)
— in light of the conclusion of Catullus 64. There (397-406) Catullus
describes a time when man has turned completely away from the gods and
lists the results. All these ills result from man overstepping his bounds.

In fact, Fracastoro presents the greatest glory of the age as almost synony-
mous with hubris. The recent discoveries are great achievements. Fracastoro
proudly states that his age "is able to plow the seas with ships, an act denied
even to the ancients" (11.25-26).^ This is truly a remarkable feat but somewhat
mitigated by the allusion to Catullus and the later exemplum of Atlantia
(Atlantis). As "queen of the land and sea" (III.277), Atlantia "often plowed
[the sea] with a thousand ships" (276-277).^ It is, however, impossible to
express in words the inhabitants' contempt for the gods (273). The implication
is obvious and unavoidable. The boldness of seafaring is incontrovertibly
linked with contempt for the gods. For despite a sailor's due, despite his clear
heroic stature (III. 104; 258), Columbus may be attempting too much. Fracas-
toro does not in the end decide. But the tension remains.

The poet even complicates things further. The Europeans were destined for
great things. They were supposed "to subdue new lands and people long at
peace and free, and to build cities and initiate new practices and rituals"

Renaissance et R��forme / 265

(111.179-181).^^ But they committed another act of hubris: killing the sacred
birds of the Sun on Ophyre. The sailors, on their landing, marvelled at them
(III. 15 1-154), and immediately picked up Vulcan's "creation" (159), their
guns, "the hollow bronze which shakes with frightening blasts and bullets
which imitate the flaming thunderbolt" (156-157.)^^

Imitating Zeus' thunderbolt clearly constitutes an act of hubris. But it is as
sinful when Vulcan himself, the thunderbolt's inventor, has given "the
weapons of Jove" to mortals? The gods' gifts themselves contribute to the
downfall of men. Vulcan gave humanity the thunderbolt but man's use of it
is inherently hubristic. Similarly Ophyre is "due" Columbus but the very act
of reaching it verges on sin.

And the Europeans are punished for their sins. In place of governing and
converting their new lands and peoples, they must endure "unspeakable . . .
suffering on land and sea, many wars, death in foreign lands" (III. 182-184)
and, of course, the "unknown disease" (190).^^

It is this disease that, in fact, reverses the course the fates had intended.
Whereas Columbus and his men were to convert the New World, it is actually
the natives, the "race with black faces and hair" (III.200), who introduce
guaiacum to the white men. The plant is part of an ancient ritual to Sun the
Avenger (III. 232-233). Ammerice, the nymph, had revealed it long ago to
the people afflicted with the "eternal" disease (343). She explained the reason
for the plague: "it is not right for mortals to equate themselves with gods"
(340-341),^^ and outlined the rite of appeasement (347-357), which in turn
led to the "Holy Tree," their salvation. Hearing this history from the natives'
king, Columbus and his men witness the strange ritual (248-249) and finally
take it back to the Old World. The Europeans thus import, not export, ritual.
And instead of saving the souls of others, they merely cure their own bodies.

The importance of guaiacum is immeasurable for two reasons. First,
Columbus and his men discover syphilis already ravaging Europe upon their
return (385).^"^ The sailors, even though they may have carried the disease
back with them on the ships, could not have introduced it to Europe; it is
already there. A general contempt for the gods must exist in Europe, but they
have as yet no cure for the natural result of that contempt. Guaiacum only
comes from the New World.

The tree is doubly important because syphilis is eternal; despite its cure,
the gods will never recall it (III.343-344). In fact, whoever is born "on that
soil" (344), and now Europe as well, must experience it. History has already
proven that. The disease began long ago when the shepherd Syphilus, in anger
against what he considered the indifference of the gods, decided to give

266 / Renaissance and Reformation

sacrifices instead to his visible King Alcithous (III.296-309). Other towns-
people followed his example and the king was "overjoyed with the worship
usually given to gods" (317).^^ The gods then sent the disease on man.

But even this was not the first case of such crimes and punishment. As the
native king tells Columbus in the first inset tale, the ancestors of Alcithous
and Syphilus in Atlantia were swallowed up by the Ocean for their evil
(III. 276). From that time on, in that part of the world, cattle and other great
four-footed creatures disappeared (III.278-280). Nevertheless, Syphilus and
his countrymen, in the second tale, seem completely oblivious to the highly
tenuous nature of their large flocks (301-302). It escapes him that his flock
and herd are not indigenous and not necessarily permanent. Ironically it is
one of these "foreign victims" (280), the replacements for the animals the
gods had destroyed once before, which replaces Syphilus, who was to die for
all" (363),^^ in the sacrifice to Juno for the punishment for his crime.

Nor is Syphilus the only one who seems unable to escape the effects of
crimes already committed. The natives, in the frame, the very ones whom the
"Holy Tree" has blessed, whose ancestors the ocean covered, and whom the
gods punished terribly for treating a king like a god, treat Columbus similarly.
They greet him "in the manner of adoration and with prayers" (111.207)^^ The
reader must not overlook either Fracastoro's use of rex, "king," in describing
Columbus (III.208; 218) or that the hero and his men enjoy the attention of
the natives as Alcithous had before them (317). "They spent the days joyfully
drinking and playing" (231).^^ The web of recurrent sin seems to grow ever

The gods destroyed Atlantia not only for its hubris but its luxury as well
(271). In light of this, it becomes necessary to reassess Columbus, the
hero/king, with his wool inlaid with gold, his glowing armor, his bronze
helmet, golden collar and Spanish sword (224-228). Granting that Fracastoro
uses the description to reveal the vast differences between the New and Old
Worlds as well as to highlight the power of the hero, we note that, despite the
differences, both worlds are trapped in the same cycle of sin.

Most damning of all is Fracastoro's description of the relationship between
the Europeans and the natives in a simile reminiscent of the Golden Age.
Drinking wine, the natives seemed:

like some mortal admitted to the tables and feasts of the gods with promise
of a happy future draining celestial cups of eternal nectar
(111.213-215).'^ (Eatough's translation)

Renaissance et R��forme / 267

Here is the perfect union of past sins: the hubris inherent in treating men
like gods, and in accepting divine honors willingly. This generation imitates
the sins of their ancestors; their descendants will follow suit.

Everyone will suffer this pestilence. One recalls the noble youth from
Cremona who was stricken with syphilis in Book I (382-412). He had
everything: horses, the love of maidens, even of goddesses. He was, however,
"too confident" (397). Fracastoro is not simply discussing the disease. It is,
as the aition reveals, human weakness, short-sightedness, arrogance, and the
cause of history repeating itself.

Yet these very traits are the source of our successes. In Fracastoro' s time,
man has managed what even the ancients could not: the discovery of a new
world. While that may have been a proud act, it was still an heroic one. And
the hero is essentially good. While he displays a lack of foresight in shooting
the sacred birds of the Sun, he is far from evil. Columbus, throughout the
frame, devoutly and meticulously gives due honors to each of the appropriate
divinities (III.106-111; 128; 144-146; 196-199). He, like all humanity, is
simply weak.

Despite human weakness, humanity still survives and succeeds according
to Fracastoro, because the gods are always supportive, even when it does not
seem so (11.14-15). In the epyllion, no mortal suffers undeserved punishment,
or, in the end, is denied salvation, except the inhabitants of unspeakable
Atlantia. The gods still allow cattle to survive in the New World, and Juno,
in the inset tale, ordered Apollo to replace Syphilus with the "more ap-
propriate" bull at the sacrificial altar (III.367). She also painted the "Holy
Tree" which, despite its character as indomita, "untamed or unmanageable"
(III.40), is, with the proper instruction, the cure for an eternal disease. God
the Avenger inevitably becomes merciful to the utmost benefit of man.

The frame and imbedded tales reveal a number of unresolved tensions and
contradictions. Heroes are devout yet severely flawed. The gods are swift in
their vengeance but equally generous in their mercy. The mistakes made by
one generation appear consistently in the next. The very reason for human
accomplishment is the cause of its defeat. Fracastoro unites all of these
tensions into one complex whole. Manifestly an aition of a medicine, the
epyllion becomes a rumination on human nature, a study of man's place in
the universe.

Fracastoro admits that the disease is not a worthy subject for a poem (1.23).
Beneath the surface, however, is hidden a work "of nature, fate and ... a grand
origin" (1.23).^^ One only has to search. Not that one will find the answers or
the cure to the world's ills. The pestilence is not that simple. In fact, medicine

268 / Renaissance and Reformation

cannot cure it or even describe it. Poetry, for Fracastoro, at least offers an
opportunity to examine and challenge. And his use, in the poem's denoue-
ment, of the Alexandrian framed narrative reveals the problematic and eternal
nature of the questions.

The Catholic University of America ,,, i.


1 I have used the following texts in preparing this paper: Geoffrey Eatough. Fracastoro 's
Syphilis. ARCA Classical and Medieval Texts, Papers and Monographs 12 (Liverpool:
Francis Cairns, 1984). E. T. Merrill, Catullus. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
1951). R.A.B. Mynors. Georgics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969). Translations are my
own except where noted.

2 Eatough, in his introduction to the poem, briefly offers a possible interpretation of the
myth as a commentary on the religious struggles of the time (25-26). While not
discounting that interpretation, this paper will only focus upon Fracastoro's use of
Alexandrian narrative technique.

3 The doctor had already tried his hand at mythmaking in the poem. At the end of Book
II, Fracastoro presents the myth of Ilceus and the so-called mercury cure (283-423).
Despite its also being a framed narrative, it possesses a very simplistic diagnosis/-
prescription/cure structure. Ilceus sins. The gods inflict him with the disease. He seeks
the aid of his nymph-mother. He follows her instructions precisely and, consequently,
is healed. Bembo had wanted Fracastoro to remove this myth since too many of its
details were taken from Virgil and because it was not a worthy subject (Eatough 21).
Dr. Fracastoro would later feel the need to greatly expand upon the medical facts in De
Contagione (Eatough 16).

4 Quis deus hos illis populis monstraverit usus?
Quis deus hanc, Musae, quis nobis extudit artem?

5 For recent studies see: G.B. Miles. Vergil's Georgics: A New Interpretation (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1980, 252ff.); Michael Putnam. Vergil's Poem of the
Earth (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979, 276ff); Charles Segal. "Orpheus
and the Fourth G��orgie: Vergil, Nature and CiwiUz��tion." American Journal of Philol-
ogy, 87 (\966): 307-328.

6 Ophyre is the Ophir from which Solomon's navy sought gold in I Kings IX. 26-28. See
Eatough's note on III. 120.

7 Catullus 64 begins with the Argonauts setting sail towards Colchis. The Nereids,
curious about the ship, appear. While the human crew and the divine nymphs marvel
at each other, Thetis and Peleus fall in love (1-30). The next 350 lines detail their
wedding day, gifts and epithalamion, all surrounding and extensive ecphrasis describ-
ing the coverlet of Thetis' wedding couch, on which is embroidered the sad story of
Ariadne. The poem ends with a passage (384-408) contrasting the Golden Age when
gods mixed freely with men and the evil contemporary times when such intercourse no
longer happens. In Catullus 64, the journey of the Argo is the beginning of the end of
that Golden Age. By striving beyond their limits, Jason and other heroes open the way
toward the hubris which will cause the gods to cease mingling with men.

Renaissance et R��forme / 269

8 ... haec aetas (quod facta negarunt
antiquis) totum potuit sulcare carinis
id pelagi

9 ... oceano, quem mille carinis/sulcavit toties

10 ... novas ... summittere terras

et longa populos in libertate quietos
molirique urbes, ritusque ac sacra novare

11 continuo cava terrifie horrentia bombis

a��ra, et flammiferum tormenta imitantia fulmen

12 infandos ... pelagi terraeque labores
... diversa ... praelia ...

mortua in externa ... corpora terra

13 nulli fas est se aequare Deorum/mortalem

14 For a summary of the medical and historical articles for and against the American origin
of syphilis, see Eatough 11-15.

15 divum exhibito gavisus honore

16 Fracastoro's use of Christian allusion, such as this one or the "Holy Wood," is best
understood in light of the satirical dimension of the epyllion directed at contemporary
religious figures (Eatough 24-26).

17 adorantum ritu, precibus salutant.

18 Laetitia ludisque dies per pocula ducunt.

19 Non aliter, quam si mensis, dapibusque Deorum
mortalis quisquam adscitus, foelixque futurus,
hauriat aeternum, coelestia pocula, nectar.

20 Naturae, fatique ... et grandis origo.

Works Cited

Castiglioni, Arturo. A History of Medicine. Trans. E.B. Krumbhaar. New York: A.A. Knopf,

Eatough, Geoffrey. Fracastoro's Syphilis. Liverpool: Francis Cairns, 1984.

Mynors, R.A.B. P. Vergilis Maronis Opera. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.

Newman, John Kevin. The Classical Epic Tradition. Madison: University of Wisconsin
Press, 1986.

Otis, B. Virgil: A Study in Civilized Poetry. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963.

Scaliger, Julius Caesar. Poetices Libri Septem (1561 Faksimile). Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt:
Friedrich Fromm, 1964.

Singer, C. and D. "The Scientific Position of Giromalo Fracastoro." Annals of Medical
History \.\ (1917): 1-34.

Scioppius' Pen against the English King's
Sword: The Political Function of
Ambiguity and Anonymity in Early
Seventeenth-Century Literature



.amlet engages a Clown (the Gravedigger) in skirmish of wit with
word-play on "lie," "quick," "man," "woman," etc. until the young prince
retreats from the fray by saying to his noble companion (Horatio): "How
absolute the knave is! we must speak by the card [i.e., punctiliously], or
equivocation will undo us" (V.i. 137-38). "Us" here designates princes or
at least nobles, as the subsequent reference to courtier versus peasant
make clear. Although Shakespeare usually has noblemen win duels of
word-play with the lower classes, there is in Hamlet's remark at least a touch
of unease about the potential function of ambiguity and double meaning in
destabilizing society. In the present essay, while I use the expression 'word-
play' or play on words, I am not focusing on playfulness or innocent fun in
twisting words around, what one might consider the activity of homo ludens
loquens (to adapt Huizinga's famous term). Rather, encouraged by what has
been called 'new historicism' (such as the work of Jonathan Goldberg, Louis
Montrose, and Stephen Greenblatt, focusing on the relationship of literature
to power and disregarding a presumed division between literary and non-
literary texts), I would like to study the political implications of ambiguity
and double meaning, primarily through the work of the person who in the
early seventeenth century was feared and hated as the most biting controver-
sialist and satirist of all, Kaspar Schoppe (or Scioppius), one of whose main
targets was King James I. But while, as James Holstun has said, most recent
North American studies in this field have not been concerned with open
resistance to power not with violence and struggle but with subtle forms of
subversion that ultimately fail to subvert,^ my subject does lead at times to
violence: for ambiguity and double meaning as practiced by one of the

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 4 (1990) 271

272 / Renaissance and Reformation

English king's most formidable opponents with the pen led him to violence
in murky back alleys and to the kind of unsavory suggestive innuendo that
dominate the front pages of tabloids today as much as it did some of the Latin
writings of such humanists as Joseph Scaliger, Daniel Heinsius, Isaac
Casaubon, and Kaspar Scioppius.

Although Scioppius (1576-1649) was not a subject of King James — he
was born in Germany, but after converting to Roman Catholicism, travelled
much in Europe, Italianized his name, and died in Padua - he experienced
James's power even physically, when the English ambassador to Spain had
him whipped in a Madrid street. Without privileging any particular dimension
(for at issue is also the interplay of religious, social, and national forces), it
will be convenient to divide our subject of ambiguity and double meaning
into at least two parts: the subject as seen from the viewpoint of the authorities
or persons in power, and as seen from the viewpoint of a person reckoning
with that power. Therefore let us observe decorum and begin with King

James I was probably the most literate king England had ever had: even
before he came to the English throne, English writers were aware of his poetic
and intellectual interests. The poems and passages that play on his ability to
handle both stilum (obliq., the stylus) and pilum (the javelin) are legion. I
contend that James would have been interested in my subject in at least three
broad senses, of which I borrow the first from Goldberg's James land the
Politics of Literature, chapter II on "State Secrets": Goldberg reminds us that
one of the two mottos King James adopted was Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit
regnare. This phrase had been associated with the Emperor Tiberius, reputed-
ly a great dissembler, with whom King James was compared. Goldberg cites
such an instance from a letter (1615) of Francis Bacon to the King (in the
letter Bacon excuses himself for disturbing the king in his country pleasures).^
Then Goldberg adds: "This imperial motto of dissemble rule had poetic
consequences; it serves as a paradigm for courtly representation, as Putten-
ham's discussion of 'the Courtly figure Allegoria' makes clear: in that
context, he mentions 'the great Emperour who had it usually in his mouth to
say. Qui nescit dissimulare nescit regnare'' (Goldberg, p. 69).

Ambiguity and double meaning are politically relevant in predictions and
prophecies. In Polimanteia (1606), William Clarke warns against prophecies
because they lead people astray by their ambiguity and thus harm the com-
monwealth. Rolf Soellner has said that at the time of Shakespeare's last plays,
England was turning into a nation of prophets. How someone is led along to
murder and rebellion by ambiguous promises is dramatized in Macbeth', Sir

Renaissance et R��forme / 273

Philip Sidney's Arcadia shows the disastrous consequences for government
of listening to a necessarily duplicitous oracle (Arcadia, i.e., the Golden
World, is destroyed by it). In fact, almost every English monarch passed laws
forbidding political prophecies, laws that were usually repealed by the suc-
ceeding ruler, only to be reinstated a few years later.^

Double meaning became a highly sensitive political matter in the charged
atmosphere after the Gunpowder Plot (1605). At the trial the accused, espe-
cially Father Garnet, when shown a contradiction with previous testimony,
allegedly defended themselves by saying that they had equivocated. In order
not to incriminate themselves, the Jesuit-trained defendants turned equivoca-
tion into a rhetorical technique in which they would make a statement or
would seem to, but if they framed it carefully enough would — by mental
reservation or evasion -withhold assent to its apparent meaning.'* In Macbeth
the tipsy porter, imagining himself the porter of Hell Gate, says: "Knock,
knock! Who's there, in th'other devil's name? Faith, here's an equivocator,
that could swear in both scales against either scale, who committed treason
enough for God's sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in
equivocator" (Macbeth, II. iii. 7-11). A little later he adds: "Therefore much
drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery, it makes him, and it mars
him . . ." (II.iii.30-32). The Gunpowder Plot scared civic and church leaders
into something like hysteria, and they did everything in their power to
perpetuate that alarm (from then on, sermons on the anniversary of the Plot
had to be preached on that subject).

From then on King James also had his subjects swear, along with the Oath
of Allegiance, a denial that they were equivocating: "And all these things I
doe plainely and sincerely acknowledge and sweare, according to these
expresse words by me spoken, and according to the plaine and common sense
and understanding of the same words, without any Aequivocation, or mental
evasion, or secret reservation whatsoever."^ Reacting to Roman Catholic
polemics, which had compared James to Julian the Apostate and had called
the means by which James wanted to enforce uniformity "the devil's craft,"
James defended the addition in the following way:

For no temperatnesse, nor modification in wordes therein, can justly be
called the devils craft: when the thing it selfe is so plaine, and so plainely
interpreted to all of them that take it: as the onely troublesome thing in it all,
be the wordes used in the «nd thereof, for eschewing aequivocation and
mental reservation. Which new Catholique doctrine, may far iustlier be
called the devils craft, than any plaine and temperate words, in so plaine and
cleare a matter. But what shall we say of these strange contrey clownes.

274 / Renaissance and Reformation

whom of with the Satyre we may iustley complaine, that they blow both hote
and cold out of one mouth (Triplici nodo, pp. 61-62)

Thus "equivocation" became a notion so heavily charged that (using a term
developed by Frederic Jameson) we may call it an "ideologeme," the smallest
unit of an ideology.^ The attitude towards equivocation of writers aligning
themselves with authority is always negative or derogatory, and it is not
surprising that in his well-known essay "Of Simulation and Dissimulation,"
in which he even approved of the use of ordinarily culpable simulation "in
great and rare matters,"^ Francis Bacon rejects equivocation.

The subject of equivocation forms a convenient link with the other half of
my subject, namely the use of ambiguity and double meaning by those not in
power, by those up against authority of whatever sort. The very purpose of
equivocation, as it became the focus of attention at this historical moment in
the seventeenth century, is of course defense against authorities whose
legitimacy was questioned. So far I have outlined only official reaction to this
rhetorical and moral strategy.

One of those who for many years opposed the authority of King James was
Kaspar Scioppius, who in 1611 published a book of 566 pages entitled
Ecclesiasticus auctoritati Serinissimi D. lacobi Magnae Britanniae Regis
oppositus. As the place of publication, the title page give "Hartberga," which
would be modern Harburg near Hamburg. However, there was no press in
Harburg at that time, and we may trust the detective work of an enemy of
Scioppius 's, writing under a pseudonym, who identifies the place of publica-
tion as Meitingen near Augsburg.^ That Scioppius is eminently conscious of
a difference of rank between himself and his royal opponent - and somewhat
cautious - is also dedicated by his revelation that he has been admonished to
deal with the king without hardness of words (acerbitas verborum); but he
admits that "it is difficult to deal with the enemy of one's religion without
reviling him (maledicere, p. 68, margin). He perceives that his religious
antagonism may have got the better of his civil and civic decorum.

Of all the arguments in this big book I am interested at present in only one
that Scioppius was to use again and again in his publications against King
James. Adopting a pose that I think is more than mere tierischer Ernst (gross,
humorless seriousness) of a German grammaticaster and indecorous polemi-
cist, being rather that of the satiric revolutionary, Scioppius sets himself up
in the manner of King James himself as an authority that will brook no word
play. Of course he knows and refers to King James's distrust of the Jesuits
for their alleged tendency to equivocate {Ecclesiasticus, p. 99).^

Renaissance et R��forme / 275

To appreciate the argument now to be summarized, we must remember that
ever since his accession to the throne James had been attracted to the notion of
becoming the unifier and head of all protestant factions that were opposed to
Rome. Over the years, various political/diplomatic enterprises were undertaken
to that end. One of James's best-known diplomats was Sir Henry Wotton, who
in 1604 travelled through Europe to become the English ambassador in Venice.
While stopping in Augsburg, Wotton committed an indiscretion that Scioppius
would never let him forget. In the album of a friend, in which according to
German habit (ad consuetudinem Germanorum) one entered one's name and
some memorable phrase, he wrote a witty definition of an ambassador, signed
it, and with great pomp added his official title: Henricus Wotonius, Serenissimi
Angliae, Scotiae, Franciae & Hibemiae Regis Orator primus ad Venetos (then
follows place and date). Wotton 's definition was, "An ambassador is an honest
man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country." One meaning of 'to lie abroad'
in Wotton' s sentence is of course 'to dwell abroad'. Unfortunately it seems that
Wotton was thinking in English and writing in Latin. As Isaac Walton, Henry
Wotton 's contemporary and first biographer, puts it: "The word for lye (being
the hinge upon which the Conceit was to tum) was not so exprest in Latine, as
would admit (in the hands of an Enemy especially) so fair a construction as Sir
Henry thought in English." ^^ According to Scioppius, Wotton wrote: "'Legatus
est Vir bonus, peregre missus ad mentiendumReipub. causa.''^^ Scioppius claims
that the Augsburg citizens regarded the diplomat's self-revelation with astonish-
ment. Here was a king who sends out diplomats to cities to have them spread
lies. By his revelation Wotton added stupidity to malice, Scioppius comments,
citing Proverbs 10:23: "Quasi per risum, stultus aperatur scelus" (It is a sport to
a fool to do mischief).

If Wotton wrote the definition in Latin, we cannot determine for certain
whether Scioppius could see the English pun that no doubt was on Wotton 's
mind. That he adduces the Proverb (with the phrase "quasi per risum") would
suggest that he perceived something jocular, playful, or pointedly clever in
the definition — although the submerged English homonymie pun on 'lie' is
not the only possibility.

In continuing his polemics against the king who detested equivocation,
Scioppius would harp on this incident, the presumed self-revelation of the
English legatus. He does so the same year in a polemical piece directed
primarily against the great humanist scholar Joseph Scaliger.^^ In the course
of describing what he alleges is the nefarious technique of the Calvinists, of
forging letters in order to harm their supposed authors, Scioppius again refers
to the moral turpitude of the "Calvinist" ambassador (i.e., Wotton) who took

276 / Renaissance and Reformation

pride in the fact that he was sent to lie reipublicae causa, i.e., for Calvinism.
The definition is quoted again: Legatus est vir bonus, peregre missus ad
mentiendum reipublicae causa (p. 294). Apparendy Wotton's gaffe became
well known in Europe. Isaac Walton reports that "in Venice [the definition]
was presently after written in the several Glass-windows, and spitefully
declared to be Six Henry Wottons'" (p.l21).

When King James read Scioppius' account of his ambassador's comport-
ment, he was not pleased. According to Logan P. Smith, Wotton's modern
biographer, James was so angry that he brought the matter up at dinner and
demanded an explanation from Wotton in front of the entire court (Smith,
Vol. I, p. 127). We do not know whether Wotton talked about ambiguity and
double meaning (which would not have sat well with a king whose views on
equivocation were well known), except that he tried to pass the matter off as
a joke. King James could have quoted to him Hamlet's words about speaking
"by the card, or equivocation will undo us." But it was no laughing matter to
the king, who demanded that Wotton clear himself (Smith, I, p. 127). As a
result Wotton wrote two apologies, a letter to the king (which has disappeared)
and another to his friend Marc Welser, an Augsburg patrician.

Smith is imprecise on the dating of this letter, assuming that it was
published in 1612 and 1613; apparently he had not seen the original publica-
tion (he says, "as far as I know, no copy of the original publication has been
preserved," Vol. II, 9n.). Wotton in fact dated it Dec. 17, 1612, and it was
published in 1613 at Grafenhainichen (Haga Comes), where King James's
Apologia had also been printed. ^^

I am less interested here in Wotton's attack on Scioppius, whom he calls a
semidoctus grammaticaster, than in his explanation of the definition. He says,
"I do not know how I came upon that 'unserious definition" (definitio iocosa),
but then he calls it "to a point perhaps universal" (adeo fortasse catholica)
since legatus can be understood as a latere (i.e., from the side, sideways),
another quite meaningful pun, or one may call it false etymology. He com-
plains that in his malice Scioppius applies only the most elementary reading
{elementissima interpretatio) to something that he, Wotton, had written not
only unseriously but lightly (iactanter). He also talks about the genre of album
amicorum, in which true and false are equally and safely at home. Most
interestingly, he tries to distance his use of double meaning from that of the
equivocators so detested by the king. For he wonders why so much political
hay is being made out of a short joke at a time when "we see that even the
earnestness of sacrosanct theology has been so foully besmirched by certain
master of aequivocations, mental reservations, and pious frauds."

Renaissance et R��forme / 277

Scioppius' reply appeared in 1614 in a work that squeezes more meaning
out of the word legatus, entitled Legatus latro, Hoc est: Definitio legati
Calviniani (Ingolstadt, 1614). Scioppius reports the Augsburg incident again
in full detail and then replies to the published letter. Here, he scoffs, is a
legatus who in a letter, apparently published with royal authority, claims that
he has not lied in his definition of the legatus as lying. And he quotes Wotton's
defense that the definition is to some extent universal (catholica) since legatus
can be understood a latere. For good measure he adds another anecdote
revolving around a pun or jingle. When Sir Henry Wotton was ambassador
in Venice, he supposedly came upon another diplomat who said : lo vado a
complire (I am going to succeed - i.e., accomplish something). According to
Scioppius, Wotton then "openly and simply revealed himself by saying: Et io
vado a mentire, i.e., I am going to lie because of my office " (p.2). Although
Sir Henry Wotton's Italian was so good that he easily could have made this
retort (in fact his knowledge of Italian was so good that in his first secret
mission he was able to pass for an Italian), I cannot tell whether this report is
true or invented. Of course this anecdote follows the pattern of the first and
historical one: the emissary of the hated authority is shown to reveal his
duplicity by a witty jingle. Whether invented or dredged up by concerted
muckraking (for which Scioppius had a reputation), the pun here and else-
where is effective ammunition for the controversialist, for whom the stilus or
pen was the only weapon since he did not have the use of the pilum or javelin,
the symbol of royal power. ^"^

In the rest of the work Scioppius tells a rather exciting tale of how he
became a victim of that power. He reports how the sycophants and literary
mercenaries (latro originally meant mercenary) of supposedly "the best,
wisest, and most learned king" (p. 12) have tried to ruin his reputation by
slandering his parents, i.e., questioning his descent. (Incidentally, Scioppius
himself may deserve the dubious honor of being the absolute master of that
technique.) He quotes a long list of the most reprehensible names that he has
been called: "infamis nebulo; pestis; canis impurus; filius Belial; homo non
suae spontis, sed certissime insanus; scelestus; genimen viperarum; foetor
orbis; Styx et mendaciorum cloaca; vilis homuncio; bibedum postremissimus;
maledicentissimus homo, cuius iuventus per flagitia transacta; Thersites;
prostituti pudoris nebulo; sycophanta".

If the catalog were an invention of Scioppius the rhetorician, one would
say ben trovato; however, such appellations can actually be found in the
acerbic comments of Scioppius' enemies, notably Isaac Casaubon, Joseph
Scaliger, and Daniel Heinsius. Scioppius skillfully arranges the catalog to

278 / Renaissance and Reformation

form a climax, for the final berating words cited are: "spurcus nebulo, qui
medicina opus habet, sed violenta, cuius morbus non verbis aut incantatione,
sed ferro aut sectione curari debet" (Legatus latro, pp. 14-15).

He tells of emissaries sent to the Augsburg authorities to put pressure on
him and prevent his words' publication (p. 16), and of an attempt in Rome to
shoot him through a window as he was reading a book (p. 18). Since he
suspects that English authorities are behind these attempts, he now and again
cites a variation of Sir Henry Wotton's notorious definition of legatus, which
becomes a polemically effective refrain:

Legatus Calvinianus sit vir bonus peregre missus ad mentiendum &
latrocinandum suae Reipub. causa.

As he does in the title Legatus latro, Scioppius is here playing not only on
Wotton's definition but also on his explanation legatus a latere. Latro,
originally the "hired servant " or "mercenary," usually means "bandit" or
"gangster", and latrocinare is to act like one. Shaped by his sharp pen, legatus
for an English or "Calvinist" ambassador is passed off as a would-be or
pseudo-ideologeme denoting the emissary of a duplicitous nefarious power.

As a final kicker and proof for the emended definition, he reports an
incident that happened to him at Madrid. In the middle of the night he was
warned of impending danger because of the "deadly hat of the English
ambassador" {de capitali odio Legati Anglicani, p. 28), and shordy after-
wards, March 21, 1614, was indeed waylaid by a couple of men hired by the
English ambassador. Sir George Digby. They beat him and, as Scioppius put
it, he escaped with no worse than a minor wound in his side, only because a
pad of paper warded off the knife. "Because of the work of this ambassador,
no one can have any doubt that the Wottonian definition of the legatus can
now be rightly completed:

Legatus Calvinianus, maxime Anglicanus, est vir bonus, peregre missus ad
mentiendum et latrocinandum Reipub. suae causa (p. 44).

Like many of Scioppius' works Legatus latro was published under a
pseudonym although it is quite clear from the many reference to Scioppius'
life that he or someone very close to him is the author. With the publication,
he took the risk not only of angering English authorities further but also of
publicizing his beating. One should not underestimate the tendency of most
citizens, including the literati, in those authoritarian times to identify with
royal authority, even a foreign one. The sub-text in most older encyclopedias

Renaissance et R��forme / 279

I checked on the subject is essentially that for challenging the English king
Scioppius deserved what he got. One view from the middle of the eighteenth
century and another from the middle of the nineteenth may stand for others.

Es ist kein Zweifel, dass Scioppius ... die Erzahlung dieser Sache, die sich
den 21sten Marz 1614 zutrug, nicht solte vergrossert haben. Die ganze Sache
endigte sich vermuthlich mit einigen Streichen, die das geringste waren, daB
[sic] er verdiente; denn es scheint, daB er sich nicht viel daran gekehret

Or by another account:

II se mit aussi �� bafouer Jacques P^ roi d'Angleterre, dans plusieurs libelles,
qui sont peut-��tre les plus satiriques et les plus venimeux qui existent dans
aucune langue; aussi ne se plaignit-on pas trop, lorsque, se trouvant en 1614
�� Madrid, il fut bâtonn�� par les gens de lord Digby, ambassadeur d'-

We note, incidentally, that this French writer develops his point with rhetori-
cal skill: for bafouer the English king, Scioppius was bâtonn��; the jingle
expresses the point that the beating was a mere tit-for-tat.

How then could a literatus challenging royal authority avoid the kind of
treatment Scioppius suffered and for which there was apparently no redress?
By increasing both ambiguity and double meaning. He could raise the level
of ambiguity by not inscribing his name into the work; he could craft it in
such a way that every part, introductory frame, and main discourse was parody
and thus had double meaning. Scioppius did this in Isaaci Casauboni Corona
Regia. Here he left out his name entirely. The title page proclaims this to be
the work of the great classicist and Protestant theologian Isaac Casaubon
(whom King James had called to England to defend the Anglican Church).
The tide page also says (falsely) that this work was published in London by
the royal printer John Bill (1615). The book pretends to be Casaubon's praise
for King James, i.e., it is mock panegyric or satiric praise. Scioppius fathered
it upon Casaubon because he (whom Scioppius called one of James's mer-
cenaries) had written elaborate praises of the wise and devout King James,
e.g., to Philippe Mornay Du Plessis - such letters were then usually published
to promote James' pretensions to becoming the unifier of all European
Protestants. Now Isaac Casaubon had just died in 1614; so Scioppius added
another fiction: that the work consisted of fragments of an unfinished work
by Casaubon and that these fragments were put together by someone calling
himself Euphormio. This had the additional benefit of explaining why the

280 / Renaissance and Reformation

piece was perhaps a little ragged. Indeed, Scioppius now and then inserts
ellipses to indicate that some fragments are missing. The mock praise was so
stinging that a reward was offered for the discovery of the author, which was
claimed (as Mark Pattison reports) as late as 1639 by a Brussels bookseller. ^^

The work appears to have three prongs of attack. 1. With the name
"Euphormio" Scioppius possibly wanted to lampoon the writer John Barclay,
who in a religious satire tniiued Euphormionis Lusinini Satyricon, a satire of
which the first part was much liked by King James since it praised him, had
represented himself by that name. Like Casaubon, Barclay (who was later to
write his famous roman �� cl�� "Argenis") had come to London to attend upon
the king. Phormio, incidentally, appears in comedies by Terence as a gar-
rulous parasite, but £wphormio would represent a good parasite. ^^ 2. Corona
Regia was supposed to show the alleged hollowness of Casaubon' s character,
since for the king's gold he praised what was not only non-praiseworthy but
reprehensible. 3. It was intended to assail the character of King James. In fact,
in the mid-eighteenth century it was still (as we have seen) called the most
stinging satire ever directed against a prince. ^^

To cite some examples of this damning praise, Scioppius has Casaubon
congratulate James for clandestine nights of voluptuousness with members
of both sexes: "for what in these cold climes is wonderful and rare, in you is
manly and royal" (p. 68). He talks at length about the young male favourites
that James sought out and showered with the highest honors, such as the
handsome Robert Carr: "I would praise the fortune of the young man, if your
humanity (humanitas) has not outdone me" (p. 92). Then Scioppius recounts
how the young man was made Viscount of Rochester, then Earl of Somerset,
then ''Magnus Cubicularius tuns'' (your Knight of the Bedchamber - in this
context an ambiguous title). Finally, when the favourite had matured, the king
added to these gifts a wife, "obtained by an extraordinary divorce" (this refers
of course to the notorious divorce of the Earl of Essex from Lady Frances
Howard, in which indeed James personally argued for the divorce, because
of, as he put it, maleficium versus hanc, i.e., a selective impotence caused by
the devil). Next was a youth of incomparabilis forma, Georges Villiers,
"introduced by the queen herself into your chamber, where he was the same
day made both knight and a Cuhiculo and soon received from the royal
treasury a pension of 1 0,000 florins per year" (p. 92). Scioppius has Casaubon,
the world-renowned classicist turned theologian, say unctuously to the king:
"Christ's word was 'Sinite parvulos venire ad me.' You call the boys,
particularly handsome ones, to you and appreciate in them the gifts and
wonders of nature" (p. 105). Referring of course to James' published works

Renaissance et R��forme / 281

as a poet, scholar, and theologian, he acknowledges with damning praise:
"You demonstrate with admirable wisdom and a sanctity unheard of until now
that Venus can be mixed with Minerva, lust with religion" (104-05). Like a
true parasitical court poet, he is at a loss for comparisons and asks whether
he should associate James' famous name with Heliogabalus (p. 100), who (as
Scioppius' readers would know) delighted so much in tabooed sexual pleas-
ures that his name was post factum scratched from the list of Roman emperors.
"If you were handsome and had a similarity to the peacock," Scioppius
continues, "I would refer to your tail" (p. 102) - in the context of sexual
innuendo of course so ambiguous as to become almost unambiguous.

In this satiric parody, in many ways the non plus ultra of satire directed
against authority, we see double meaning worked out with a skill that is
admirable and occasionally still pleasurable, but also with a relentlessness
that approaches the pathological. The adopted form of speaking through
someone else (Casaubon) is intimately linked with the underdog's need to
remain anonymous. This ambiguity remains defensive, as was the recusants'
equivocation. But then this defensive ambiguity of anonymity here becomes
the condition and vehicle for the most stinging aggression a literatus can be
capable of. At the same time, this pretended letter written be Casaubon to the
king is of course not a fraud of the kind which Scioppius himself singled out
as nefarious because it is not forged: almost immediately, through unmistak-
able signals of irony, it is recognizable as fiction, as literary parody, a work
of art. The relentlessness of the underdog is more understandable if we
remember that this underdog, whom contemporaries called canis gram-
maticus (the watchdog of Latin grammar) had been beaten. This reading
would go a long way toward explaining the paradox observed by a Frenchman
at the end of the seventeenth century that in the "famous Scioppius" we have
the unusual example of someone not "humanized by the humanities" but made
more "farouche". ^^

Much has been written about the rhetorical and necessarily classical
schooling of the age, and it would be foolish to belittle the importance of
educational systems in which even schoolboys were made to classify and
imitate rhetorical modes. Yet such explanations leave us with the apparent
contradiction that according to such a large and reliable survey as E. R.
Curtius's European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, the demise of
school rhetoric (in belles lettres, politics and pulpit oratory) does not occur
until the Romantic period while word-play is already decried by Samuel
Johnson and his contemporaries as a manifestations of "false wit". Of course
there are other threads, such as the emergence of what came to be perceived

282 / Renaissance and Reformation

as a new philosophical and scientific style, that would have to be woven into
a more complex representation of the history of literary taste. The case of
Scioppius, a man as well known then as he is forgotten now (because he wrote
in the "universal language"), may show in cameo the influence of power on
one individual's use of language. That this poligrafo finally died amidst
unpublished manuscripts in a small room where he had lived in poverty and
fear of persecution may mean that he suffered what we now call paranoia.
But being paranoid does not prove that one is not being followed. His
changing attitude towards ambiguity may have paradigmatic importance.

While in his early work Ecclesiasticus Scioppius had assumed as it were
an authoritarian pose in attacking a king through his legate's word-play (a
pose that for his contemporaries apparently smacked of hubris), but by
contrast after his cudgelling he increasingly adopted the pose of the "knave"
(to take Hamlet's word for the punning gravedigger) in his uses of ambiguity
and double meaning. In Legatus latro he not only outdoes Sir Henry Wotton
(who in an aristocratic fashion had merely toyed with double meaning,
showing his wit and sometimes his lack of it), but makes word-play into
something entirely different from a pleasing and inconsequential game: a
weapon of the weak against the powerful. In Corona Regia he has finally
sharpened his tools into moral weapons, although parodie subversion of
literary forms of public praise (of which the break with prevailing decorum
forbidding mention of the king's homoeroticism is but one element) is
accomplished at considerable cost. Thirteen years earlier, in one of his earliest
controversies (against Aegidius Hunius, 1601), he had proudly proclaimed in
his epistola dedicatoria: "I am German, that is, of that nation which among
almost all nations has made the praise of candor, truth, and free speech
something like its own: this I will remain as long as I have spirit."^^ In Corona
Regia any sense of self-esteem, whether national or social, has been jet-
tisoned. Effective concealment of his authorship demonstrates his stance to
be that of the knave, quite different from the one adopted earlier when he
expressed his daring by trading arguments with a king. While this subversion
thus is self-destructive, eroding the foundations of public discourse, it of
course does not lead to acceptance: it succeeds in questioning the opposing
power's officially promoted image and legitimation. From this perspective
the words of the Danish prince seem prophetic of the Jacobean stance on
ambiguity: "How absolute the knave is! we must speak by the card, or
equivocation will undo us."

University of California, Davis

Renaissance et R��forme / 283


1 See James Holstun's paper on the Ranters, "Ranting at new Historicism," Conference
for Seventeenth-Century Studies, Durham, July 1987.

2 Jonathan Golâberg, James I and the Politics of Literature (BâiiimorQ and London: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1983), p. 68.

3 Rolf Soellner, Timon of Athens: Shakespeare's Pessimistic Tragedy (Columbus: Ohio
State University Press, 1979), p. 80. On prophecies, see also Henry Howard, Z)e/e«5flf/Ve
Against the Poyson of Supposed Prophecies (London, 1584); Keith Thomas, Religion
and the Decline of Magic (New York: Scribner, 1971), especially chapters 11 & 13;
and Rupert Taylor, The Political Prophecy in England (New York: Columbia Univer-
sity Press, 1911), pp. 104-05.

4 On equivocation and related topics, see Frank L. Huntley, "'Macbeth and the Back-
ground of Jesuitical Equivocation," PMLA, 97 (1964), 390-400; Steven Mullaney,
"Lying like Truth: Riddle, Representation and Treason in Renaissance England," £1//,
47 (1980), 32-47; Robert Weimann's chapter "Das narrisch-realistische Wortspiel," in
his Shakespeare unddie Tradition des Volkstheaters (Berlin: Henschel, 1975), 215-46;
and ch. 6 ("Internal Debate - 'Casuistry'") in Elliot Rose, Cases of Conscience:
Alternatives Open to Recusants and Puritans Under Elizabeth I and James I
(Cambridge University Press, 1975).

5 James I, Triplici nodo, triplex cuneus, or Apologie for the Oath of Allegiance (London,

6 Frederic Jameson defined this term (conceived in analogy to a morpheme) in The
Political Unconscious (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1981). See particularly
p. 115 and pp. 220-222.

7 Bacon, Works, ed. J. Spedding et al. (London, 1861), vol. 6, p. 389.

8 See Eugenius Lavanda (i.e., Melchior Inchofer), Grammticus palaephatius sive nuvi-
gendus Hoc est, In tr��s Consultationes Gasparis Scioppii De ratione studiorum scholia
et notationes (n.p., 1639), p. 38.

9 Although Scioppius is in this case squarely on the side of the English recusants, we
know from some of his other publications that he was not a friend of the Jesuits (under
the pseudonym Alphonso de Vargas he published what may be the most biting diatribe
ever written against that order). See Alphonso de Vargas (i.e., Schoppe), Relatio ad
Reges et Principes Christianos de Stratagematis et Sophismatis Politicis Societatis lesu
(n.p., 1636); and a German edition, Erzdhlung derRancke, Betriigereien und politischen
Griffe derJesuiten (Giistrow, 1675).

10 Izaak Walton, The Lives of John Donne, Sir Henry Wotton, Richard Hooker, George
Herbert and Robert Sanderson (Oxford University Press, 1927), p. 121.

11 Scioppius, Ecclesiasticus, p. 13. The incident is discussed by Logan Pearsall Smith in
The Life and Letter of Sir Henry Wotton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907), I, p. 49 & p.

12 [K. Schoppe], Operini Grubinii Amphotides Scioppiniae. Hoc est responsio adSatyram
Menippaeam Josephi Burdonis Pseudo Scaligeri (Paris, 1611).

13 The Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfe nbiittel, has a copy.

284 / Renaissance and Reformation

14 On stilum: pilum and sceptrum: plectrum, see Scioppius, Sciorpiacum (Mainz, 1612),
p. 14.

15 Johan Peter Niceron, Nachrichten von den Begebenheiten und Schriften beriimter
Gelehrten (Halle, 1759), 19. Teil, p. 308.

16 Nouvelle biographie g��n��rale (Paris, 1864), "Schopp" entry.

17 See Mark Pattison, Isaac Casaubon (2nd ��d.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1892), p. 482;
and Calendar of Clar. State Papers, I, 195.

18 See John Barclay , Euphormionis Lusinini Satyricon, ed. David A. Fleming, Bibliotheca
Humanistica & Reformatorica, VI (Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1973). On Euphormio, see
pp. 336-37.

19 Niceron, Nachrichten, 19. Teil, p. 309.

20 Adrien Baillet, Des enfans devenus c��l��bres par leurs ��tudes ou par leurs ��crits (Paris,
1688), p. 245: "Une belle description que l'on feroit de la Vie du fameux Caspar
Scioppius, seroit peut-��tre la peinture la plus bizarre que l'on pust faire d'un scavant
Barbare que la Science auroit rendu plus fier et plus farouche que la Nature ne l'auroit
produit en naissant. Il faut avouer que les Humanitez et Belles Lettres qui ont coutume
de former et de polir les Esprits bien nez avoient eu peu de vertu pour civiliser ou
seulement humaniser le sien." At this chronological distance terms like humanit��s,
belles lettres, and polir bespeak their ideological charge particularly clearly. It is also
worth noting that Baillet includes Scioppius as one of only two German savants in his
book. The other one is Caspar Barthius who gained his reputation by writing a book of
epigrams against Scioppius.

21 Scioppius, Apologeticus adversus Aegidium Hunium (Munich, 1601), Sig. 2^: "Ego
Cermanus sum, hoc est, ex ea natione, quae candoris, sinceritatis et in loquendo
libertatis apud pleraque omnes nationes quasi propriam fecit: et is manebo, quamdiu
mihi spiritus."

Writing the Self / Writing About the Self:
"Auteur" and "Autruy" in Tabourot Des
Accords' Les Bigarrures


L-zstienne Tabourot Des Accords' Les Bigarrures (1588) is a compendium
of games and word-plays. But it is also much more than that. For within the
cataloguing format can be discerned instances in which Tabourot as author,
rather than as mere compiler, appears. These irruptions can be elucidated
through an examination of the four documents that introduce the text proper
("Th��odecte T. au Seigneur Des Accords"; "Avant-propos de l'autheur";
"Andre Pasquet au lecteur", and the "Pr��face du Seigneur Des Accords").
Most fruitful in this regard, however, is an examination of a technique
labelled by Des Accords the "adionctions". These latter appear to be com-
mentaries, or glosses, upon the main texts. We shall demonstrate that these
"adionctions" function, not to faithfully explicate a text, but rather to
undermine the purported encyclopedic project of the Bigarrures, reorienting
our perception of the text toward an awareness of Tabourot' s singular

It would appear, from the intensity with which he discusses the presence
of others' material (hereafter often referred to as "the other") in his own text,
that Tabourot does not want the other, despite the fact that others are his main
source. He experiences tension between his desire to compile a book, and his
desire to write one and thereby divulge something oi himself. His 'editor' in
'Au lecteur' expresses part of the problem: Et ne se devoit pas, �� mon advis,
l'autheur cacher, sous ombre qu'il estime le sujet si l��ger" (LB, vol. 1 16).
Clearly, the editor feels more is going on in the text than mere frivolity and
amusement. Francis Goyet, the editor of this edition oi{\it Bigarrures, asserts
that the 'editor' Tabourot posits is Tabourot's own mouthpiece: "[l'��diteur]
Andr�� Pasquet [est] inconnu. Tout donne �� penser qu'il s'agit de T[abourot]
lui-m��me".^ We know from other sixteenth-century writers that the ruse of a
supposed editor was often employed to express concepts that the author

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 4 (1990) 285

286 / Renaissance and Reformation

himself did not feel at liberty to articulate.^ By induing a letter from an
acknowledged (although possibly fictional) editor, Pasquet, as well as writing a
second sort of introdution to the text (that written, at least nominally, by
Th��odecte T.), Des Accords appears to create a situation of redundancy that, by
the differences interior to the superficially similar pieces, suggests that, indeed,
a program of writing (and of 5e//-expression) distinct from the apparent motive
of Les Bigarrures is being pursued. Tabourot makes further proof of his artistic
duplicity when in the "Pr��face" he confesses, "Mais j'ay grand peur que
cependant ... je parle des autres". (LB, vol. 1 23) The ruse of a fictional editor
complicates our examination by also indicating that a certain amount of am-
bivalence exists towards admitting the desire to disclose the self.

The concern with the role of the 'other' is strongly represented in Les
Bigarrures by two factors. The first is a long sequence of demurrals that
occurs in the "Pr��face". By usurping a significant chunk of Tabourot's
prologue, these disclaimers mimetically enact the tension between self and
other that will underlie the entire text. For, instead of fulfilling the customary
purpose of stating the author's plan of operation in the text, or acting as an
introduction to the author himself, the first five pages of this eight-page
preface are taken up with what others, rather than Tabourot himself, have to
say. Tabourot begins by listing, at great length, all those things that others
usually say in a preface, constantly deferring any revelation of what he
himself intends to do. Indeed, he never does make such a statement, but by
the time the reader unfurls the interminable recital of what Tabourot will not
do, the reader forgets that Tabourot should have any program of his own. It
is also significant that the solid block of subordinate clauses precludes any
narrative grasp of the preface. In such a way will our reading of the Bigarrures
be limited, at least the first time around, to skimming catalogued entries that
possess no apparent narrative link. There are thematic groupings, but these
suggest merely a potpourri of possibilities within each group, and do not lend
themselves to the telling of a tale. These are not materials easily manipulated
to achieve an author's purpose. For instance, Tabourot begins,

Encor que ce soit une façon ordinaire presque �� tous ceux qui exposent
quelque oeuvre en lumi��re, de choisir un certain personnage, afin de luy
d��dier ... Ou d'adresser quelque advertissement au Lecteur ... Ou bien se
bastissent par imagination, de vaines raisons, qu'on leur peut, ce leur semble,
obiecter ... (LB, vol. 1 19-20)

It is as though the prologue is designed specifically to block any reading
of it. Any firm purchase on the paradigms it contains is denied, for the

Renaissance et R��forme / 287

possibilities it begins to elaborate are never portrayed conclusively; the clauses
never end, but rather sputter out without resolution, never achieving full sentence
structure. Tabourot states that he intends never to imitate the substance or style
of an other ("Je n'ay voulu toutesfois estre imitateur de telles façons de faire" -
LB, vol. 1 20), yet that is exactly what he does: he abdicates his voice, in the time
and space of the text, to the other, or at least to a parody of the other. His statement
of purpose is indefinitely postponed (and, unless we read between the lines,
playing hide-and-seek with this coy author, is never revealed). Tabourot acts as
though he has absolutely no self-investment in his text. He appears to leave his
work open-ended, leaving the reader free rein to read, add to or subtract from,
the book as he may so choose: "Mais je conseille �� chacun de choisir seulement
ce qu'il luy viendra �� gr��, et laisser le surplus" (LB, vol. 1 24).

Yet, the "adionctions" strewn throughout the text provide indications that
Tabourot is not being quite straightforward in this matter of textual self-
effacement. Tabourot suddenly becomes extrememly anxious as to what
material the "adionctions" comment on, and where they are placed. Most
worrisome to him is the question of who has written them (for there now seem
to be two commentators, neither of whom is clearly identifiable as Tabourot
himself: "Auteur" and "Autruy". It is "auteur" whom we would normally
expect to represent Tabourot, and upon whom, because of his designation,
we would ordinarily rely for clarification of the text. However, "auteur"
is occasionally pre-empted by "autruy", causing a good deal of confusion
on the reader's part between the two speakers and between text and gloss.
"Autruy" has somehow finagled his way into the text, no longer as an
outside authority or influence. He now seems rather to be an integral
component of the work; indeed, he speaks for it. Tabourot's concern over
the potential misrepresentation that may arise from the pretender's pres-
ence is evident in the "Avant-propos de I'autheur sur les impressions de
ce livre". Here, Tabourot uncharacteristically acknowledges his role in
composing the text. He makes the equation of textual and personal identity:

Le relisant ... je recognu incontinent et mon g��nie, et mon style du temps
que je l'avois basty, pour me chatouiller moy-mesme, afin de me faire rire,
le premier et puis apr��s les autres. (LB, vol. 1 7)

Here, his motivation in writing is to please himself, not others. Hence his
choice of material is not indiscriminately encyclopedic; it is personally-in-
flected. The manner in which he presents it ("mon style") is subjective and
unique. The Bigarrures is not just some heteroclitic composition, but some-

288 / Renaissance and Reformation

thing he has carefully structured ("basty"). Because of the personal claim he
makes on his text, Tabourot has two concerns. In this retrospective reading
("le relisant"), he finds that elements he stipulated to be incorporated into his
text have been excised:

Mais le malheur a voulu que l'Imprimeur, auquel je F [le surplus des
Adjonctions] avois envoy�� par les petits paperats, ne les a pas tous receu:
ou, comme ie croy, les mit entre les mains de quelqu'un, que i'eusse bien
voulu ne m'estre pas si familier en cest endroit, lequel les a retranch��. (LB,
vol. 1 8)

Who is the thief, the "quelqu'un" or "autruy" of whom Tabourot speaks?
We have no way of knowing definitely. Yet, two factors are suggestive of a
psychological phenomenon. The progressive rapprochement of "autruy" 's
style and content with that of the "auteur" so that they become virtually
indistinguishable, and the ploy of pseudo-editor, point to the possibility that
Tabourot is describing a schism within himself. He is fragmented into two
personae, each of whom, initially, has a different conception of, and motive
for, writing. The issue of point-of-view or perspective arises as early as the
liminary piece to Les Bagarrures, "Th��odecte T. au Seigneur Des Accords",
in which a judiciously placed enjambement might be construed to mean that
Des Accords portrays himself in his work:

Des Accords tes Bigarrures
Ressemblent les pourtraictures ... ^

In addition, the writer of this letter speaks of the significance of the manner
in which the material of the Bigarrures is arranged, and then viewed, as being
a question of optics:

Le tout . . .

Bien r��duit selon l'Optique,

Au subiect d'un petit poinct,

qui les fait paroistre loing;

Se monstrant �� nostre veue ... ^

The writer hints that a disparity may exist between what the reader perceives
and the true intention of the author. The reader's reaction, he suggests is that

... de vari��t�� plaisante, •

En chasque endroit [le lecteur] retreuv[e]
Tousiours du contentement.^

Renaissance et R��forme / 289

The author, however, has a less frivolous, although unavowed and unex-
plicated, agenda. The letter addresses Des Accords, saluting him because he
has composed Les Bigarrures

. . . sans toutesfois [se] distraire
Des actes plus s��rieux . . . ^

The exact nature of these acts is not specified. But this letter, placed at the
head of the text, may function to posit a paradigm of how the text should be
read: by looking beyond its artful naivete to discern a larger authorial program
implicit in it. We shall explore this possibility in more detail shortly.

The second concern Tabourot manifests is that not only has his text been
manipulated without his permission, it has also been mutilated; further
material - alien to his own composition or choice in compiling - has been
inserted. Another voice speaks within his text:

au lieu [de mes adionctions], y a sabrog�� des Adionctions de son stile, si peu
correspondantes au mien, et esloign��es de ma conception; qu'il est ais�� ��
voir, �� quiconque aura tant soit peu de jugement que cela n'est pas du mesme
autheur ... Et autres infinis [exemples] montrent assez la diversit�� de mon
stile au sien; et toutesfois je ne nieray pas qu'ils ne soient, peut estre, au goust
de quelques uns, aussi bons que les miens. (LB, vol. 1 9)

An actual competitor is posited to Tabourot within Tabourot' s own work.
We note that there are four "adionctions" by the "auteur" to seven by "autruy".
Because "autruy" exists as a rival to "auteur", Tabourot fears that the
commentaries of "auteur" may be more appealing to the reader, who is now
given a choice between two modes of expression in the text. Tabourot here
seems to suggest a schism of self such we have already postulated; how else
could he view "autruy" as possessing an existence separate from his own
(which he dubs "auteur")? "Auteur" and "autruy" may epitomize respectively
the pedantic and the salacious aspects of the personality of Tabourot himself.
This possibility is substantiated by the fact that Tabourot' s ambivalence
towards this other person, or other manifestation of himself, is at times
manifested in hostility and resentment, while elsewhere the ambivalence is
mollified by conciliation. He states,

... et comme aussi j 'ay sceu que c'est quelque docte personnage, qui ne m'a
point fait de malice ces Adionctions, ie ne les ay pas voulu oster ny
m'estonner �� iencontre de luy. (LB, vol. 1 10)

290 / Renaissance and Reformation

Emphasizing differences in style, Tabouret attempts to separate out that
which he intended to say from that which an 'other' has said ("j'ay voulu estre
plus courtois envers mon faiseur d' Adionctions qu'il n'a est�� envers moy, car
j'ay s��par�� ses Adionctions ... et les mises �� la fin des miens" (LB, vol. 1 12),
but he does not have great success in this endeavour. For, we note that the
"adionctions" gradually blur in style, so that those coming a/rer - supposedly
those of the other- take on the author's idiom, and those of the author assume
the tenor of the other. This progressive confounding of identities is heightened
by the clear, distinct, even opposing personalities of "auteur" and "autruy" as
originally formulated.

The Bigarrures thus becomes, for its own author, an unusual and threaten-
ing construction. Tabourot's books cannot represent his self-concept or, at
least, not in any conventional, unified and univalent fashion, since two voices
- one of them presented as illegitimate - are at war in the text. Composition
proc��des by disjunction and conflict rather than through the smooth accrue-
ment of portrayal and self-commentary. In order to determine the identity of
the author, we must examine both voices whose dissonance is inscribed within
the text. It is perhaps within the space of a dialectic relationship between the
two speakers that authorial presence will be discerned.

The discernment of the oscillation between "autruy" and "auteur" becomes
a sort of metatext, a continuous commentary on the construction of the text
that becomes itself of more importance than the text's contents. The "adionc-
tions" are nearly always placed near the end of the chapters; however, it is
not clear why they close some chapters but are omitted in others. Initially,
"auteur" makes a straightforward commentary on the preceding text. At the
end of a chapter entitled "Des Rebus de Picardie", for example, the "adionc-
tion" is identified as "de I'autheur". We must first ask why this identification
of authorship is required. Since "autruy" has not yet made his appearance in
the text, who else but the author could have written the "adionction"? At any
rate, the "adionction" observes

L' Aretin en certaine Com��die introduit un Zazin, qui se moquant des devises
Rebussi��s de son temps, disoit qu'il porteroit pour la sienne, un hain, un
dauphin, et un coeur, pour signifier, "Hamo, delfino, cuore:/Amo del fino

The tone is didactic, neutral and informative. Rather than interpreting
preceding material, these early "adionctions" seem designed simply to con-
vey, with the authorial imprimatur, additional examples appropriate to each

Renaissance et R��forme / 291

chapter heading. The "adionctions" at this stage obscure, rather than unveil,
any authorial personality. He becomes but one compiler among many.
"Auteur" 's observations are characterized by scholarly qualification. Yet,
early on, "Auteur" 's reliability can be called into question; his commentaries
are often farcical or even misleading. As regards the example just cited, editor
Goyet notes that

je n'ai vu com��die de l'Aretin qui ait un "zani" pour personnage

"Auteur" also becomes increasingly less serious. My parenthetical remarks
begin to sketch out the margins within which "auteur" will begin to exhibit
some of the attributes of "autruy". For example, in the chapter entitled "Des
Equivoques Latins-Français", the "auteur" offers this explanation of ter-
minology: "Et les parisiens pour dire en Latin un vieux pot, l'appellent
potentiam, tout en un mot, quasi pot ancian ou ancien". (LB, vol. 151)

The personality of "autruy" differs from the early manifestations of
"auteur". "Autruy" is initially typified by crude pleasantries or obscenities.
In "Des Equivoques Français", he jokes, "Car compromis, qu'est-ce autre
chose qu'une fille qui est fianc��e", while in the next chapter he speaks of
prostitution and fornication:

... une bonne Drôlesse, qui couroit galamment I'esquillette. (LB, vol. 1 51)

Midway through the work "autruy" becomes more literary in his preoc-
cupations "Bien ��l��gant et industrieusement enchesn�� est I'Epigramme pas-
toral ... du gentil Du Bellay" (LB, vol. 1 147) at about the same time that
"auteur" adopts a more salacious style of speech, formerly typical of "autruy".
By the time of the section, "Des Epitaphes", however, we find "autruy"
talking in a learned vein about the poetry of Thomas More:

Celuy m'a bien pieu autrefois, que j 'ay leu les Poëmes de Thomas Morus,
Chancelier d'Angleterre, qu'il fit ... sur la mort d'un chantre ... (LB, vol. 1

while "auteur" tells dirty jokes:

divine vieille P��teuse, qui mourut en p��tant ... (LB, vol. 1 224-5)

As "auteur" abandons his literary role in favor of a joking, bawdy persona,
he becomes less defined and less assertive. For instance, he confesses to
uncertainty as to the appropriate attribution of games or quotes used in the

292 / Renaissance and Reformation

text: "l'Auteur est incertain du suivant ..." (LB, vol. 1 144), undermining
thereby the notion that a specific authorial selection has been guiding to the
construction of the text. He further distances himself from any recognition or
acknowledgement of his role as author by citing himself in the third person,
as an occasional source for some of the witty sayings:

Entre les oeuvres de Virgile, je void sur l'Epitaphe d'un incertain autheur,
aussi docte et naïf, qu'on sçauroit souhaiter ... Monsieur Tabourot, Officiai
�� Langres, l'a ainsi miraculeusement traduit, en ces deux alexandrins. (LB,
vol. 1 146)

Such unavowed self-citations act in two contemporary ways which mirror
the dialectic we are positing between "auteur" and "autruy". First, quoting
oneself in one text as though one did not know oneself is a way of disavowing
the role of the self. Yet, the strategy of self-citation has been effectively
employed elsewhere in the sixteenth-century^ to strengthen the multivocal
resources of the author and to multiply the occasions in which it is possible
for him to be present. We must search further to determine how Tabourot
intends this strategy to work here. Further, the third person attribution is
confusing for the reader, for if Tabourot is spoken of in the third person, who
is the 'je' who speaks in, organizes and presents the text? A dialectic is
inaugurated in that at the very moment that authorship is denied, the author's
persona surreptitiously creeps into the text.

At the same time that the author may be said to be seen working to subvert
the other's project and reclaim his text, the appearances of "autruy" become
increasingly lengthy and frequent. "Autruy" begins to appear twice as often
as the "auteur". Indeed, in some chapters there is no "adionction" by "auteur",
but then two in a row by "autruy", each labelled as his (LB, vol. 1 170). This
phenomenon produces an even more cut-and-paste appearance in the already
mosaic-like structure oiXht Bigarrures, as though two statements by "autruy"
have been taken from different places and juxtaposed without thought for
redundancy or complementarity. Such predominance of "autruy" also creates
a physical, textual mass that begins to usurp "auteur"' s space.

Coherent authorship is menaced thereby; Des Accords fears that his self-
expression will always be pre-empted by the other. Yet this prevalence of the
other, paradoxically, is made possible through Tabourot' s own agency, for
the strategy of the composition of the Bigarrures has been, throughout, to
borrow others' materials. Speaking of the ultimate in Renaissance poetry that

Renaissance et R��forme / 293

Imitation raises a man above himself, leads him to self-forgetfulness and
prevents his return to basic self-hood, discolors his native purity by an
osmosis of otherness.^

Tabourot similarly expresses a fear of personal amorphousness that is
translated by an inability at any given moment to say who he is: "a pr��sent,
... si je suis dissemblable �� celuy que j 'estois alors". (LB, vol. 1 1 1 ) He would
prefer that "I'autheur soit toujours semblable �� soy", but by playing off
"auteur" and "autruy", with "autruy" progressively assuming the authorial
role, Tabourot mimes his concern that such integrity is impossible.

Given the multi-faceted interaction between "auteur" and "autruy", how
is the reader to ascertain the identity of the 'je' speaker who concludes the
book? This 'je' follows upon an "adionction de l'auteur" and an "adionc-
tion d'autruy", in that order. The "adionction d'autruy" appears closed: it
is labelled "fin de 1' adionction". But then 'je' begins to speak. Significant
for our thesis that "autruy" and "auteur" may be Janus-like aspects of one
personality is that "je" is a composite of attributes both of the "auteur" and
of "autruy". He speaks authoritatively about his literary technique:

Je te prie. Lecteur, prendre cependant de bonne part, ce que je t'ay icy
ramass��, et pense que si je voulois, j'ay assez de mati��re, de faire un gros
livre." (LB, vol. 1 235)

But he also follows these remarks with facetious comments more typical
of what initially had been "autruy"'s style:

Or apr��s icelles, j'esp��re bien �� la suite de ces Discours faire paroistre de
quelles viandes je sçay traiter mes hostes. Cependant, comme pour entr��e de
table, ie te donne ces petites fricass��es, ces pastez de chair hach��e, et ces
potages de marmite de College ... tu auras apr��s des viandes plus solides
(LB, vol. 1 236).

The abundant and sufficient 'mati��re' he has just exalted is now become
bits and oddments of a banquet feast. The comparison of Les Bigarrures to
assorted hors-d'oeuvres before a main course in some measure devalues the
work, rendering it a mere appetizer to the substantial meal to come ("des
viandes plus solides"). Contrarily, the hors d'oeuvres motif plays an essential
role, that of delectable invitation, spreading an ample board to hosts eager to
dip into the feast (and text). "Je" is not an absolute authority, but rather
encourages a co-production of his next text between writer and reader; this
work is intentionally left open (it is called the "premier livre") and he speaks

294 / Renaissance and Reformation

of a projected "suite de ces Discours" (LB, vol. 1 236). Earlier in Les
Bigarrures Tabourot invited the reader to make of this text what he will, to
tailor it as suits him:

Car chacun adioustera ceux qu'il luy plaira �� ce papier blanc (LB, vol. 1 1 10).
Si le lecteur en trouve quelqu'un en ces oeuvres, il pourra icy faire adiouster.
(LB, vol. 1 172)

Ironically, however, there is no white page or blank space available; the
book is jammed full. We consequently wonder to what extent Tabourot truly
desires the involvement of the reader in his text. Typically, Tabourot is
ambivalent here, too. He seems to be calling for a more organic conception
of a text one that evolves dialectically in the interaction between "auteur" and
"autruy", who themselves may be taken as figures of the writer and the reader.
Rather than fearing autruy/reader and worrying lest there be no space for
himself in the text, Tabourot now graciously makes room for the other.
"Autruy" is made to play an accessory, albeit supplementarily creative, role
in "auteur" 's grander scheme. "Auteur" can use "autruy" to take his book in
entirely new directions, thereby legitimizing a plurality of authorial projects.
"Auteur"' s role originally demonstrated more imitatio than composito:

Ce qui s'ensuit est extrait d'un epistre, envoy��e �� l'Auteur par un sien amy".
(LB,vol. 1 110)

Now, however, the voice of "autruy" is licensed within the text "auteur"
appropriates it, bringing to his idiom a more unbridled - and hence, potentially
more original - form of expression. In that sense, the concluding remarks to
Les Bigarrures are emblematic of Tabourot's desire to transcend the techni-
que of imitatio in favor of a more independent text. He first rehearses his
former imitative acts, citing possible authorities for his text: ("pour entre-col-
liger un livre gros comme un Calepin ... tu as ... Marule, Jean Second,
Politian, le V��z��leien ... — LB, vol. 1 235), but he then surpasses such
reliance on others' saying in favor of his own textual autonomy, demonstrat-
ing that the materials he has selected to form his text have been transformed
into his own unique sense through his act of appropriation:

Parquoy ne vas point te vanter et dire, O j'en sçay de meilleurs, il n'a pas
tout mis, il a oubli�� cestuy-ci, cestuy-l��. Car, l'ay-je fait sciemment. (LB,
vol. 1 235-6; my italics)

Renaissance et R��forme / 295

This apparently imitative text is actually one that acts out the steps leading
to its assumption of autonomy: "it acts out its own coming into being."^
Camouflaging itself as a compendium of games to be played, the text itself
plays a game with its reader. The reader must seek the presence behind and
within the interplay of "auteur" and "autruy". That is, rather than being
composed of games, the text is composed through a game. This is a game of
interpretation and discernment of authorial identity. Tabourot, his own first
reader, is himself the first to play this game when, as he alerts us, he stumbles
upon his manuscript and must reread it before sending it to a printer before
Tabourot can recall exactly what he intended when he composed the Bigar-

Occasion dequoy j'ai releu ce folastre livre de bout �� autre, ce que jamais
auparavant je n'avois fait, afin de le remetrre en lumi��re, selon ma vraye
conception. (LB, vol. 1 11; my italics)

So does "auteur", hidden within the text and sought by the reader, constitute
himself within the games in, and the games of, the text.

Ultimately, the final product of this role switching between "auteur" and
"autruy", the reliance on games others have previously played, and the furtive
entrance of 'je' into Les Bigarrures is a highly sophisticated parody of the
humanist technique of imitatio. The parody points to a desire to move beyond
the traditional compositional technique. Thomas Greene observes that

It would be surprising if there had been no hostility toward the pressure to
imitate. Fortunately for the health of ... [the] national culture, there was a
good deal . . . Was there a humanist will not to absorb, a sophisticated, refined
fear or antagonism toward the buried, gigantic remains? Undoubtedly there
was . . . The process called imitation was not only a technique or a habit; it
was also a field of ambivalence, drawing together manifold, tangled, some-
times antithetical attitudes.^

Despite its apparently derivative character, the Bigarrures makes a state-
ment for authorial presence and original expression. The inclusion of enor-
mous blocks of borrowed material results in a parody^ of the manner in which
humanist writers rely too extensively on the utterances of revered predeces-
sors^^. The zones in Les Bigarrures in which shifts in voice and reliability
transpire between "auteur" and "autruy" ultimately attest to the progressive
liberation of authorial consciousness from the shadow of the 'other' - the
other writer, the freer speaker, the competitor for authority. The "auteur" is

296 / Renaissance and Reformation

eventually emboldened to speak in a style as witty and as bawdy as that of
the citations upon which he had formerly relied for a vicarious mouthpiece.
In this sense, the games of which Les Bagarrures is composed exact a
larger, more comprehensive games-playing from the reader. Not only are all
the games in the text played through the reading act, which in seeking to
comprehend them must play by their rules, but also the text itself is constituted
as a game in which the construction of a new text - from, and beyond existing
components - is mimed and played. Les Bigarrures, the compendium, be-
comes secondary to Les Bigarrures, a testimony to the multifaceted, yet
individual and authorial intervention of Des Accords.

Columbia University


For the purposes of this study, the following text was used throughout: Estienne Tabourot Des
Accords, Les Bigarrures du Seigneur Des Accords, ��d. Francis Goyet. TLF (Geneva: Droz,
1986). All further references in the text are to this edition.

1 Goyet, vol. 2 & 3.

2 D'Aubign�� uses such a strategy in Les Tragiques, stating in "Aux Lecteurs" that an
editor has snatched d'Aubign��'s writings from the fire in which the author intended to
destroy them: "Voicy le larron Promoth��e qui, au lieu de grace, demande gr�� de son
crime ... comme ayant desrob�� pour vous ce que son maistre desroboit".^

3 Goyet, vol. 2, VAR F, p. 18.

4 A similar interplay occurs between d'Aubign��'s Histoire universelle and Sa vie �� ses

5 Thomas Greene, The Light in Troy: Imitation and Discovery in Renaissance Poetry
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), 277.

6 Greene, 41.

7 Greene, 43-5.

8 Such parodies can be found elsewhere in the French Renaissance. Le moyen de parvenir,
in which B��roalde creates an intentionally confusing text in order to parody a dangerous
tendency in humanism — the hierarchization of knowledge - is one example. Cf.
Catharine Randall (Coats), "Two Suggestions for A New Reading of the Moyen de
parvenir, Neophilologus, 72 (1988), 10-16.

9 Montaigne confesses that his work is thoroughly dependent on the writings of Plutarch
and Seneca. Cf. Greene, 45.

Writing In The Heavenly Language: A
Guide To The Works Of David Joris^



although a prolific author by Anabaptist standards, David Joris (c.l501-
1556), one of the most notorious religious dissenters in the sixteenth century,
left behind a manageable corpus of writings when compared to that of the
German Reformer Martin Luther or the Silesian Spiritualist Caspar von
Schwenckfeld.^ That very few scholars have been willing to analyze Joris'
works has therefore less to do with the quantity and more to do with the
quality of the writing. From the conclusions of many earlier studies, one
would assume that Joris' compositions were uniformly obscure and spiri-
tualistic.^ Anyone who has read Joris closely will attest to the difficulty
inherent in his writing. Closer examination of these works in their historical
context, however, reveals ideological and thematic clarity unique to Joris.
This essay, although far from being a comprehensive bibliographic study,
will present some clues to discerning which of his works reflect predomi-
nantly Anabaptist concerns and which are dominated by a more thorough-
going Spiritualism. The intention here is to provide a methodology which
may prove useful in the organization and classification of the copious Joris
material, with the ultimate aim of making the evaluation of his writings less

Working with existing bibliographic aids, such as A. van der Linde and
Hans J. Hillerbrand, as well as the Joris collections housed in the libraries of
the Universities of Amsterdam and Basel, it is possible to arrive at an
approximation of the number of works Joris authored.^ The raw total, how-
ever, tells us little except that Joris was a prolific writer. What is essential is
an understanding of the changes in Joris' reform thought which were part and
parcel of alterations in his life. In other words, the variations in his reform
career provide important clues to the meaning of his thought, which in turn
can be useful in broad categorization of his output. For purposes of clarity
Joris' works can be divided, admittedly broadly but to some degree ap-

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et R��forme, XXVI, 4 (1990) 297

298 / Renaissance and Reformation

propriately,^ into three periods: The first includes the years between 1529 and
1539 when Joris was an active and enthusiastic Sacramentarian and then
Anabaptist. Although frequently on the run, during this time Joris was based
in his home city of Delft, Holland. The second falls in the time period
1540-1544 during which Joris lived in Antwerp. This was a transitional phase
in the prophet's life, when he began to seriously spiritualize his Anabaptist
tenets. His ideology in this middle period is best reflected in the first edition
of the Wonder Book which probably came off the press in 1543.^ The final
stage includes the years from 1544 to his death while Joris lived in Basel. In
this tolerant South German city Joris moved towards a complete form of
Spiritualism, as seen in the significantly revised second edition of the Wonder
Book, completed in 1551. Before providing a summary total of Joris' literary
achievements, the subtle but important distinctions in his ideology as they
appear in these three phases will first be explored.

Already well before the advent of Anabaptism in the Netherlands, Joris had
achieved a degree of fame for a published collection of religious songs^ and
notoriety as a result of a scandalous anticlerical pamphlet for which he was
arrested and punished in 1528.^ Unfortunately, neither of these is known to
be extant. A few of Joris' pre -Anabaptist songs do exist, however, in a later
collection of compositions (see below). After he became an Anabaptist leader
in the winter of 1534/35, his literary output grew enormously - particularly
so after he found the leisure time to write more regularly once he had moved
to Basel in 1544. The historian, therefore, has no lack of source material with
which to clarify Joris' historical image.

Considering that between 1536 and 1539, Joris was "the most important
Anabaptist leader in the Netherlands,"^ it is particularly important to identify
the works which came from his quill in those years. They reveal a different
spirit from both his Basel works and his Antwerp writings (perhaps best
understood as works of a transitional phase). Joris' tracts of 1535-1539 mirror
his nearly frantic attempts to keep alive the apocalyptic excitement that had
characterized Dutch Anabaptism before the fall of Munster in the summer of
1535. Dulled somewhat by the failure of apocalyptic predictions, the sword
of the vengeance of the Lord still threatened the enemies of the Lord's
anointed in writings of this period. After 1539, however, eschatological
expectations begin to be spiritualized even further and by the 1550s Joris
appears to have been ashamed of his earlier naivete. ^��

Undated works falling into what can be termed his Anabaptist period are
therefore not difficult to discover, if one has the patience to wade through

Renaissance et R��forme / 299

them. While van der Linde managed to catalogue ten writings from this
period, ^^ a more complete listing can now be made.

The only extant works written by Joris before the fall of Miinster are his
songswhich exist in a collection entitled A Spiritual Song Book}^ Joris was
not above revising his songtexts in line with later concerns; there is at least
one known instance where he toned down radical vocabulary in a songtext.^^
By and large, however, the songsin this collection remain accurate reflectors
of the early period of the Dutch radical reformation. Many of them are
intensely apocalyptical and as such, are among the few windows into the
mentality of Anabaptists living in the Netherlands during the high point of
the Miinsterite kingdom. ^"^

The rest of Joris' surviving compositions reflect post-Munster concerns.
First among these is the tract Of the Wonderful Working of God, written in
1535 in an attempt to account for the failure of Miinster and to present a
reformulation of Bernhard Rothmann's and Melchior Hoffman's teachings
suitable to the new situation. ^^ A further distinguishing mark of this tract is
its fairly lucid style and identifiable historical context; even if no date was
provided, it would still be apparent that the work belongs to the period shortly
after July 1535. It will presently become clear that such lucidity in Joris'
writings is rare indeed.

In December of 1536, Joris experienced two major visions which dramati-
cally altered his sense of mission and in turn his writing style. This change is
evident in a long and repetitive tract written immediately and in haste after
the revelations, presumably under the direction of the Holy Spirit. More of
an oral announcement than a well thought-out literary composition, the 1536
tract was recognized by Joris himself as a decisive document. ^^ While of
course there is much continuity between his pre- and post-vision works, in a
later work Joris remarked that Hear, Hear, Hear, Great Wonder, Great
Wonder, Great Wonder, was his first. ^^ He perhaps meant by this that it was
the first tract to delineate his self-conception as the third David, as the
apocalyptical servant of God who would complete the victory of the second
David, Jesus Christ, over the final enemy, death. ^^

Shortly after this calling, Joris received another divine mandate to proclaim
the message to the remaining Melchiorites (followers of Melchior Hoffman),
particularly those in England, Frisia and Germany (Strasbourg). ^^ The un-
published Hydeckel contains many letters from 1537 on which indicate that
he took this mission seriously.^^ Included in this volume are letters to the
Strasbourg Melchiorites in 1537. Also present is Joris' correspondence to his
supporters in Frisia and Westphalia. Of interest is his recommendation to

300 / Renaissance and Reformation

followers near Oldenburg, that they heed the advice of Heinrich Krechting, the
leader of the Munsterite refugees in northern Westphaha, before selecting pastors
and deacons for their fellowship.-^^ Furthermore, Joris penned several tracts
relating to this mission (again under the direction of the Spirit). These include
the 1537 An Admonition, in order to Bridle the Tongue, a work intended both to
announce his mission and to wam his readers from speaking presumptuously
about the things of the Lord.^^ The contents of this tract lead one to suspect that
it was among the works sent by Joris to the Strasbourg Melchiorite leadership,
the "elders of Israel" in 1537 and 1538.^^ Although no dated tracts are known to
have been written by Joris in 1538, this year is notable for the manuscript record
of the disputation between Joris and the "elders of Israel" held in June of 1538.
Not extant in a published form, whether or not this record actually went to press
or was even intended for publication is not known.^^ It is nevertheless an
extremely important source not only for its depiction of how Joris publicly
defended his teaching and calling, but for its rare insight into the frame of mind
of the followers of Hoffman in Strasbourg.^^

Several works appear from 1539. Those which have been dated include: A
very beautiful tract or examination of the enemies ofman;^^A very beautiful
tract on the beauty of the beloved;^^ An Announcement of the coming of the
Bridegroom;^^ "Behold, and wake up my Children", in The third Handbook;^^
"Behold, a vision, [seen] openly in the daylight, of one who loves the truth
and justice of God";^^ A very good examination ofwisdom;^^ and The Eight
Blessings?^ This last work is Joris' written attempt to encourage his followers
in the face of the horrendous persecution which they were experiencing, for
court records indicate that at least one hundred Davidites were put to death
in this year, including Joris' own mother.^^ The fifth work listed, "Behold, a
vision," provides an uncommon glimpse into how Joris was viewed by his
associates. He was explicitly regarded as a human-divine being and it is
necessary to comprehend this attitude on the part of his followers and readers
in order to understand both the popularity of Joris' writings and his develop-
ment of a new, "spiritual language". After all, a person of such exalted status
could not be expected to communicate in a common or earthly vernacular.^"^

While this summary includes all the known extant works composed by the
Dutch prophet before the decade of the 1540s, there are several undated tracts
that can be safely assigned to this early period. The criteria for this selection
have been mentioned above - evidence of intense apocalypticism (still to be
fulfilled on earth) and references to specific events and severe persecution. It
is therefore possible to suggest that at least the following works belong to
Joris' "Anabaptist phase": Of the Principle or Wedding of the Heavenly

Renaissance et R��forme / 301

Marriage;^^ The End Cornes, the End Cornes over all the four Corners of the
Earth;^^A Blessed Instruction for the Hungering, Anxious Souls;^^ and How
the Believer, who takes to himself a Sister or Wife, should Support her?^

These last two cited works appear to be related to Joris' experience at the
Strasbourg disputation. A Blessed Instruction is an exceptional work, hitherto
unstudied, which contrasts the true, elect Bride of Christ, forced to drink of the
cup of bitterness and suffering, with the proud scribes who trust merely in the
letter, but not the spirit of the Scriptures.-^^ All religious persons or groups are
here criticized for their ignorance of the true message of God: the Monks and
Priests have the Word of God, "but look at their righteousness and faith"; the
"Martinians" claim to have the gospel and faith, but "look at their fruit"; and even
the "Covenanters" (another name for Melchiorites), who "should be the most
pious" do not live up to their reputation.^^ What has caused this disillusionment
with the Melchiorites in particular? A clue is found in a very interesting comment
that Joris makes regarding Melchior Hoffman:

Think about what kind of people and teachers they are [i.e., those who rely on
the literal text] ... they are still children in their understanding. They held
Melchior Hofman above everyone, as a servant of the Lord, filled with the Holy
Spirit and with all riches of the truth and knowledge of God. Namely, as the true
Elijah, Michael, the promised David, the mighty angel of Heaven, whom one
must hear and follow. Indeed, the one who was joined with him, namely Enoch,
stood far behind him, and will not come nearly as far into the glory as he. But
they nevertheless presumed and pretended that they administered the letter to
him (Melchior Hofman) but he ministered the Spirit to them. Is that not an
abomination and shame? Yes, a terrible defamation by the Saints in Israel . . .
And although I have said, written and pointed out to them their foolishness more
than enough, yet they still will not believe me."^^

When these remarks are compared to his comments about Hoffman and the
Strasbourg Melchiorites made during the Strasbourg disputation, there is little
doubt that Joris is here referring to the less than enthusiastic reception which
he experienced among the followers of Hoffman in the summer of ISSS.'*^
This tract was therefore probably composed shortly after that event.

A similar case can be made for How the Believer. This appears to be the
work on marriage that Joris promised to send to the Strasbourg Melchiorite
leadership after the disputation.^^ Furthermore, in 1537 he had sent to them
a "long letter on marriage" as well as his response to Johannes Eisenburg's
tract on the subject. These two works may have formed the basis ioxHow the
Believer. Furthermore, the argument contained herein is an expansion of

302 / Renaissance and Reformation

Joris' points found in the Eisenburg letter. If this is indeed the case, then we
may have another early pre-1540 tract.'*'^ While several others may be dis-
covered/^ the aforementioned works help to fill in our knowledge concerning
Joris' teaching while an active Anabaptist leader.

Perhaps the most valuable work for our knowledge of Joris' life and even
state of mind during his time as a reformer and Anabaptist, is an anonymous
biography composed by a close associate of the leader, sometime after Joris'
move to Basel. The account is so richly detailed that it is quite likely that Joris
himself penned it. At the very least he was personally involved in its produc-
tion.^^ In any event, it carries the stamp of autobiography, and its extraordi-
nary insight into Joris' mental and emotional condition during periods of
severe persecution makes it one of the most remarkable documents in the field
of the radical reformation.^^

As suggested above, all of these works prior to the Antwerp and Basel periods
are relatively straightforward and, compared to his spiritualist writings, easy to
comprehend. Furthermore, Joris believed that while the Word of God was
formerly spread in the Hebrew, Greek and Latin tongues, the Holy Spirit now
preached in Dutch .^^ Hence the message of God was most easily understood by
Dutchmen. Unfortunately for later readers, he also developed his concept of a
"spiritual language", of a holy vernacular, which was understood only by a
spiritually -enlightened elite. He spelled out this idea in his Clear Report on how
Man has fallen from God, which was completed in 1543:

Because many read so quickly that the meaning passes them by, I will, dear
reader, warn you not to hold to such a practice or idea, especially in divine
matters, in things brought forth by the Spirit with true godly understanding,
in a spiritual or heavenly language. For only the spiritual ones will under-
stand the new heavenly language by means of the heavenly birth of God.'*^

His writings, always difficuU to understand, became even more turgid,
inspiring one well-educated contemporary to remark: "It was difficult for me
to understand the meaning of the thoughts because of the terribly obscure and
confused style of the writing. "^^ Works originating from Antwerp and from
the first years in Basel are therefore notable by the continuing Anabaptist
motifs and vocabulary, but increasingly spiritualized and shrouded by his use
of an elitist "spiritual" language. The most important work of this period is
of course the first edition of the Wonder Book. The progression away from
his earlier fixation on the nearness of the return of Christ and the final
judgement is obvious; Christ would still return, Joris affirms, but his coming
would be one noticed only by those spiritually prepared. In other words, even

Renaissance et R��forme / 303

the apocalyptical return of Christ had been internalized and its earthly
ramifications, so important for Munster, had been defused.^ ^

One way to come to terms with the changes in Joris' thought during his
Basel residence would be to compare the second edition of the Wonder Book
with the first. While such a massive project is beyond the scope of this essay,
a starting point might be the examination of Joris' narcissistic attitude
concerning the third David. The first edition brought to a climax his self-con-
ception as the apocalyptic agent of God. If by the time of the second edition
in 1551 Joris had toned down this belief, then it would be possible to argue
that his acquaintanceship with the Basel Spiritualist Sebastian Castellio had
been a formative one.^^

At first glance, the chapters concerned with the subject of the third David
appear remarkably similar. On closer examination, however, it becomes clear
that Joris had made some quite subtle revisions by 1551. For example, when in
the first edition he announced: "This is the promised, elect David, the authorita-
tive prince"; in the second edition he proclaimed: "This is the principal spirit of
power, the promised, elect David."^^ The difference was enough to bring into
question whether the promised David was to be identified with a person (i.e.,
Joris) or with the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, Joris in the later version added a
section explaining his current view of the promised David and the kingdom. Here
the third David was closely identified with the Spirit, and the kingdom of the
promised David was spiritualized to mean little more than the community of
those who had experienced the rebirth of Christ. He wrote

concerning this promised Spirit of truth, or David. This one was not
proclaimed in this name [i.e., David], but in the true, zealous Spirit, which
should begin and end in the truth. For it is certain that the eternally enduring
kingdom was not established in the birth of our Lord Jesus, seeing that (as
one speaks of a kingdom) it was disturbed by the Antichrist, the scarlet whore
. . . And the eternally enduring kingdom must remain rigid [and] undisturbed,
completely crushing and bringing to nought all previous kingdoms. We
clearly see that this has still not happened in our time. For this reason my
profession here is that when the true Christ in the eternity is bom in us
according to the Spirit and truth, this shall be another David according to the
Spirit and truth (as was professed and as Peter has testified). Then this
eternally enduring kingdom (of which Daniel has spoken) will be established
and remain standing firm and undisturbed, as the Scriptures affirm.^^

While Joris in his later career maintained a doctrine of the third David, he
had lessened the implication that he and the third David were the same and

304 / Renaissance and Reformation

had instead strengthened the connection between that apocalyptical figure and
the Holy Spirit.

We can therefore ascertain subtle differences among the works of Joris'
literary corpus which allow us to discern the historical context in which they
were composed. While this study is merely an initial investigation, it is now
possible to give an approximation of works written in the three identified
periods of Joris' career.

There are, therefore, around 241 published works, from short tracts of only
a few pages to massive volumes such as the Wonder BookP Of the undated
works, seven are large volumes of collected works, either brief tracts, as in







2 songs






2 songs





3 songs






2 songs






1 song






1 song






1, 6 songs




1 (unpub),



3 songs








1 (unpub)












6 songs






14 tracts

Total: 51

Total: 120

Undated: 56

TOTAL: 241

Renaissance et R��forme / 305

the case of the four Handbooks, or letters, as in the three volumes of
correspondence.^^ Those tracts in the Handbooks which are dated, fall into
the following periods: 1539-44 - 9; 1545-1549 - 4; and 1550-56 - 13.^7
Most of the correspondence in the three published volumes was composed
after 1546. These volumes together contain 1134 letters.^^ The Hydeckel
contains a further 127 of Joris' missives from the years 1537 to 1543. For
most of these letters, Joris indicated in code the recipient, date and location
of composition (see Appendix 1).

Clearly, then, Joris was a prolific writer to match the popularity of his
teaching. His following was widespread and numerous; extant are letters to
devotees from Emden in the North to Paris in the South, although most
adherents were located in the Netherlands.^^ Moreover, it is known that some
of Joris' works were translated into French.^^ What is remarkable about Joris'
group is the relatively high number of the nobility and upper class who
associated with the self-acclaimed third David. The Wonder Book in par-
ticular circulated freely among members of the social elite and appears to
have been published as a result of their sponsorship.^^ Although we do not
possess copies of all first editions, it is not unreasonable to assume that most
of Joris' tracts and books were printed during his lifetime. Postulating a
conservative figure of 300 copies per print,^^ there might have been more than
70,000 copies of David Joris' compositions circulating in the Netherlands
through the course of the sixteenth century, again not including letters and
unpublished works. There is little doubt, then, that even limiting our perspec-
tive to literary works alone, Joris was a well-known and influential figure in
the sixteenth century. It is possible to conclude that either there were quite a
number of Netherlanders who could understand the "heavenly language", or
the incomprehensible nature of some of his teaching was sufficient proof to
many that Joris was indeed a prophet who, in the words of one of his followers,
was "suspended between heaven and earth."^^ In the minds of his supporters,
that most of their contemporaries could not fully understand Joris' words was
due, therefore, not to poor style on the master's part, but to the lack of spiritual
discernment on the part of unenlightened readers. On the other hand, those
who could profitably read his tracts were able to regard themselves as
members of an intellectual-spiritual elite, as spiritual supermen. Reasons for
his appeal are therefore not hard to find.

306 / Renaissance and Reformation







Mariken Geerits





Rhaniar Ceindr.




"Hoort den Geest getuigen"


T^prhArpn Pranc' hr»iicf>




1-/CIUCIC11 Flalls llUUsC

"Neemt waer. Lieve"


Ofrhfrpn '«; hf>iiçp in




Griete S.




Mar. 1543



Maritgen (young widow)




Heinrich van Vreeden?

Mar. 1543



Margriete the Deaconess





Jan Roemen





Jan Roemen





Claes van Schiedam




Grietgen Peeters




Agnes van Limburg, Abbess





Jan Doels





"To the Church in"

Emden & Groningen




The Goldsmith in





Jan Ruin, Fiman &






A widow at





Sinken at





Anna at





Goosen at





Doede at





Geerit boutemaker





To those of





Jacob & Griete at


Apr. 1543



Lucam Schilder





Simon Dorsschen





Mariken Jacobs

Dec. 1542



Hillegont at










Renaissance et R��forme / 307

Salomon (Willeten) Schilde

Grietken Peeters

Grietken Peeters

Jan de Vou

"Exegesis of Romans 7"

To those of Giethoorn

Christoffel & Hans

Christoffel, Hans & Refel

Christoffel & Andries


Christoffel, Anthonium,

Herman & Hermanum


Jacob van Wien


Geerit Rogge


Heinrick Twerner

"To Praise of the Lord"

Jan van Leeuwarden

Herman Dlidorp

"Eeen scalck man verbercht"

Hans Eisenberg

"Eeen ellenden Roep"

"Uprechting der Gemeinte'

"Saluit mein beminde"

"Den onreinen is niet met"

"Inden Name Jesu"

"Emanuel. Neemt waer"

"Dit roept u den Geest"

"Neemt waer. Hoe lange"

Agnes, Abbess of Freckenhorst

"Spreect dit dat zyt all��"

Anthonium & Herman

To those of Leeuwarden

To beloved brothers

"Behold Brothers"

"Siettoe mein Broederen"

Jacob inde Kelder Groningen





Jan. 1543


1543 ?


























Apr. 1540


Mar. 1540




Dec. 1539

















308 / Renaissance and Reformation

Emanuel. Ick wensche"



Griete Jacobs inde Kelder




Geerit Roggins



Jacob of Groningen's wife




Jacob inde Kelder





The Gemeinte



Emanuel Die H. is met ons"


Apr. 1543







Mariken Herman Diericks

near Caerle




Grietken Gasuelt Jacobsdr.




Fiken Goutsteens




Griete van Heeskering




Janneken & Swaenken

Hacfort's maid

Aug. 1543



Dierckin Modders in the


Aug. 1543



Heinrick Moddersdr.

Aug. 1543



Maerte van Modder


Aug. 1543



Christoffel & Andries

Aug. 1543



Joest Wever


Aug. 1543





Aug. 1543



Meincheut, a teacher




Aeltkin Antonis


Apr. 1543



Huigen's wife in the


Apr. 1543



Hillegont at


Apr. 1543



Meinard Claesson




"Maect V rekenninge"



"Neemt waer, mercter wel"






"of iemant vry huywen"

Apr. 1543


Jan Jacobs' house


Apr. 1543



Grietken Peters




Siken at


May 1543



Jan van Liewoort




Jorien Ketel


Winter 1542



Jorien Ketel





Hans van Leeuwarden


Aug. 1543



Sibrandum, a Preacher

Oct. 1543


45 Ir

Aernout Gisbrechtes


Oct. 1543



Dr. Hieronimus


Oct. 1543



Renaissance et R��forme / 309

To Modder's House


Oct. 1543



Jacob Hacfort &

Heinrick Goutsteens

Oct. 1543



To the Gemeinte

Oct. 1543



Frans van Wesel

Oct. 1543



Hans van Leeuwarden

Oct. 1543



Griete Jacobs




Anna in





Cornelis Claesson


Sep. 1543



To his house


Nov. 1543



To his house


Nov. 1543



To his house





Mr. Jan de scrivere


Aug. 1543



Mariken Jacobsdr.




Marioen's house in





"Een vrage vnde Leeringe"

Summer 1538



"Wten monde stemmelyc"




"Gebet tot G. dagelycks"



"All�� wat wysheit begrypt"





A vision of one (named Leon[ard] von Dam)
who loves the truth and justice of God,

which he has seen in the daytime

during the course of the month of May

or beginning of June 1539.

Sitting up in the attic in a house it happened that the Spirit of God came suddenly
upon a man named David and he began to speak of the power and word of his God,
just as the Lord placed into his mouth. When I heard these words they were inserted
into my innermost being, so that the heart and mind of my soul were opened up like
a rose. I then could not contain the life and joy of my innermost spirit. I cannot
describe this [joy] in words, but it remains with me as unspeakable. And behold I
was compelled to stop my work. But I was troubled about this and continued to work
in order to overcome my laziness and weakness, although I was pressured to stop.
Finally there was a inspiration given to me by the voice of the Spirit, without my
advance knowledge or advice, namely in this fashion: "Truly you have heard today
(through the living conversations which have proceeded from David's mouth) [and]

310 / Renaissance and Reformation

you have listened to, seen, tasted and felt Jesus in his living, spiritual,^^ true nature,
standing at the right hand of God in heaven. Even more truly than had Stephen, Acts
7[: 18]. Or like Isaiah, who said in Isaiah 6[: 1-3], when he saw the glory of God sitting
on his seat and throne: "I am a man of unclean lips". Read and speak freely, without
timidity also in this way, that you too are a man of unclean lips, and after this you
will see in a living fashion [and] in the innermost parts of your heart the majesty of
God. After this it was shown to me from the Spirit, that I should read Isa. 6 and Acts
7. I did not know what I would find written there, but I thought, what can it be? At
the same time I was full of a living fire and burning in my innermost being, so that
I did not know how or what was happening in me. For I was young and did not know
the Spirit and in my weakness I could not express what was happening to me. I saw
myself as too small and unworthy to speak like a man of God about the exalted word
of the Spirit. The Spirit, however, allowed me no rest, but spoke as loudly to me as
if it had occurred through a human's mouth, that I should go downstairs. I could
neither sleep nor rest, neither in the evening nor night, until one summer afternoon,
around three or four o'clock, when I answered and said: "Lord, you know what the
situation is here and the reason why I cannot go downstairs. "^^

This had happened five or six times when the woman of the house (knowing of it)
came up to us in the morning, and said, is anyone up here who wants to come down?
You can do so, for the people have departed. About this I was full of amazement and
decided to go into the hall or room. When I now had gone in and out of the room five
or six more times, I finally stopped and stood there in the middle, and a voice said
distinctly to me: "Stand and behold". Then I stood with my face towards the wall and
away from the light and I saw a naked man, standing before me, also facing away
from the light towards the wall, for I saw him only from behind. He stood with his
feet upon the surface of the earth, which was amazing to me. Then the Spirit spoke
again to me: "Behold". Trembling, I looked and watched as the man quietly sank
down, with his feet gradually descending until his head had also gone under and
disappeared. I then saw the earth neither opened nor closed. The voice of the Spirit
spoke again: "Behold". I then saw the same naked man under the earth just as clearly
as I had seen him above the earth. I therefore became dismayed and frightened, and
asked in my heart, what does this man rest on; does he stand on his feet or on his
head? I observed that he was suspended between heaven and earth, as I have told
you, and he moved as a bird does in the sky. But so that you will understand me, he
was in the earth, as I have said to you. Then the Spirit or the voice answered me: "His
feet stand upon nothing, and rest upon no outer thing, but he is suspended, for where
he is, there is an eternal abyss." Thereupon he called me to look again. Then I saw
the same naked man growing or rising out of the earth just like a flower or plant does.
But then I saw all of this from behind him. The head came up first, then afterwards
the neck, then the shoulders, arms, hips, legs, and gradually the feet, all slowly or
little by little.

Renaissance et R��forme / 311

Take note. The head came up first, then afterwards the neclc, so that he once again
stood up completely as before upon the earth. I then wanted to touch him, to see if
he was living or dead. But such was not permitted to me, for the Spirit answered me:
"He is still dead and not yet living." Then I looked at his feet and I became aware
that they touched the earth and became impure from it. But from the feet up the body
was so pure, beautiful and shining, that one had never heard of nor seen of such a
clean and majestic image of a man. Furthermore, my eyes fell once more upon the
feet and I saw that they were now also pure and beautiful from the earth, for the earth
or impurity had disappeared completely from them. And behold, I saw the life enter
him; first his hips were pulled to and fro from behind, just like a man or beast that
has first been killed and yet lays and wriggles, so that his veins and sinews^^ were
pulled to and fro, as is easy to comprehend. A little later he lifted up his arms and let
them down again; then he shifted or moved his whole body, so that he now was
thoroughly alive. Finally he lifted a leg up from the earth, or stretched it forward,
then the other, and set them down again. See, after this he turned completely around
with his face towards mine and against the light, and his face shone like the sun. So
bright [was it], in fact, that one cannot describe it. He also had a beautiful red beard
and he came walking towards me, as if he would go right through me.^^ Whether he
went through or around my body, I do not know. But when he came up to walk to
me, I was so amazed and frightened in the appearance of his movement, it was as if
I had been outside of my body, standing however upon my feet. I cannot write nor
describe this [adequately] with the quill. He was also so large and wonderful, so
mighty and frightening, that he feared no one. He furthermore saw perfectly, that all
great rulers, lords, princes, dukes, indeed, the kings and emperors of this world were
in his eyes as worms upon the earth are commonly regarded by men. As worms,
which have only a little movement, not even as the beasts, fish or birds, I say, of
which no one fears to tread upon or near them, killing them or letting them live. Yet
even more insignificant than these were all men, both small and great, strong or sick,
noble or common; all swept away by a wind.

When I now wanted to look at him, he was gone and I saw him no more. Then
the Spirit spoke to me: "That is God, the Messiah, the new Creature, the first true
man of God from heaven." The name of the person, which was pleasant to me at
that time, I will still keep secret, it was very well known to me. He will, according
to the word, be even more heard, known and loved at the right time. I did not
relate any of this for seven or eight days afterwards, until it finally broke out of
my heart. I am also certain that this vision came right from God. Moreover, I
desired to reveal or bring it to them, for even as I had seen it outwardly, so I saw
it also according to the Spirit. ^^

University of New Brunswick

312 / Renaissance and Reformation


1 The author wishes to thank Dr. Piet Visser, Curator of the Mennonite Archives, the
University of Amsterdam (hereafter Amsterdam), as well as the staffs of the manuscript
departments at the University of Amsterdam (1988 and 1989) and the University of
Basel (1986) for their friendly and efficient service. Thanks are also due Prof. C.J. Dyck
(Associated Mennonite Seminaries) who suggested that I undertake this study and Ms.
Colleen A. Johnston (Waterloo) for her helpful editorial suggestions.

2 Schwenckfeld wrote over 1200 tracts and treatises; see E.J. Furcha, "Of Songs and
Chants and Religious Rants. Late Sixteenth Century Hymns and Spiritual Songs,"
Renaissance and Reformation! Renaissance et R��forme, XI (1987), 90. Luther's works
are collected in 63 volumes in the Weimar edition (100 including letters, Bible
translation and Table Talk) and 61 in the American edition. For Joris' life and work,
see Gary K. Waite, David Joris and Dutch Anabaptism, 1524-1543 (Waterloo: Wilfrid
Laurier University Press, 1991).

3 James M. Stayer has confirmed the turgid nature of Joris' writing style, "Davidite vs.
Mennonite," Mennonite Quarterly Review, LVIII (1984), 462. Roland Sainton's study
of Joris, while still the classic in the field, had a tendency to blur the distinctions in his
thought. See Bainton, David Joris. Wiedertaufer und Kampfer fUr Toleranz im 16.
J ahrhundert (Leipzig, 1937).

4 Van der Linde, David Joris. Bibliografie (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1867),
hereafter vdL. Available in The Radical Reformation Microfiche Project, Section I,
Mennonite and Related Sources up to 1600. (Inter Documentation Company, AG, Zug,
Switzerland), no. 400, (Hereafter MF); Hillerbrand, A Bibliography of Anabaptism,
1520-1630 (Elkhart: Institute of Mennonite Studies, 1962). See also A.M. Cramer,
Bijvoegselen tot de Levensbeschrijving van David Joris (Leiden, 1844); H.C. Rogge,
"Een Band met tractaten van David Joris," originally in Bibliographische Adversaria,
new series, I, in MF 424; Bainton, David Joris; Wouter Nijhoff & M.E. Kronenberg,
eds., Nederlandsche Bibliographie van 1500 tot 1540 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff,
1923). Several published works were unknown to van der Linde as was the Jorislade,
a fifteen volume collection of manuscripts and published works in the University of
Basel. There is need for a more complete and up to date critical bibliography.

5 Joris, like Melchior Hoffman and Bernhard Rothmann, divided history into three
periods: the age of the Father (the Old Testament period) as the first; the age of the Son
(the rise and fall of the Church) as the second; and the new age of the Spirit (beginning
with their own day) as the final stage. For Joris, see Van die Heerlijcke ende Godlijcke
Ordeninge der Wonderlijker werckinghen Godes/ die na sijn eygen Bee Id all�� dinghen
in Dryen wel geschapen ende gemaeckt heeft (n.p., 1535, reprinted 1614), vdL no. 99,
MF 400. The tradition of this perspective can be traced to the twelfth century Calabrian
monk, Joachim of Fiore. See Bernard McGinn,ed.,Apocalyptic Spirituality (^qv^^otW.
Paulist Press, 1979).

6 See S. Zijlstra, Nicolaas Meyndertsz van Blesdijk. Een bijdrage tot de Geschiedenis van
het Davidjorisme (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1983), 62.

7 The collection must have appeared before his arrest in 1528. See Nicolaas Meyndertsz
van Blesdijk, Historia vitae doctrinae ac rerum gestarum Davidis Georgii haeresiar-
c/iae(Deventer, 1642), 15.

Renaissance et R��forme / 313

8 Paul Fredericq, ��d., Corpus documentorum Inquisitionis Haereticae Pravitatis Neer-
landicae, IV (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1889-1900), 349f. Unfortunately, only
brief excerpts from the pamphlet survive in the court records. The punishment involved
both torture and banishment.

9 Zijlstra, "David Joris en de Doperse Stromingen (1536-1539)," in M.G. Buist, et al,
Historisch Bewogen (Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff, 1984), 125-38.

10 It is probable that his failure to win to his side the Strasbourg Melchiorites during his
meeting with them in 1538 was a crucial factor in his disillusionment. On their part, the
Strasbourg leaders were also disillusioned by Joris' intransigence and narcissistic
claims. See Werner O. PackuU, "Peter Tasch: From Melchiorite to Bankrupt Wine
Merchant," Mennonite Quartery Review, LXII (1988), 276-95.

11 For three of these van der Linde relied on Cramer's list.

12 Een Geestelijck Liedt Boecxken, reprinted as Mennonite Songbooks, Dutch Series, I
(Amsterdam: B. de Graaf, n.d.). An attempt to provide modern harmonies for the songsis
made by G.C. Hoogewerff, Liederen van Groot-Nederland. Een Geestelijck Liedt-
Boecxken (Utrecht: Koninklijke Vereniging, Het Nederlandsche Lied, 1930). Those that
are dated fall between 1529 and 1536.

13 This case involved the songof Anna Jans, a wealthy and zealous supporter of Joris who
wrote her songin 1536 probably with Joris' help. Werner O. Packull, "Anna Jans of
Rotterdam, a Historical Investigation of an Early Anabaptist Heroine," Archiv fiir
Reformationsgeschichte, LXXVIII (1987), 147-73.

14 The main source for Munster Anabaptism is the collection of the Miinster propagandist
Bernhard Rothmann's tracts. These are in the critical edition edited by Robert Stup-
perich, Die Schriften Bernhard Rothmanns (Miinster: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuch-
handlung, 1970). Unfortunately, few works written by Dutch Anabaptists during this
critical time survive. For one example, see Gary K. Waite and Samme Zijlstra, eds.,
"Antiochus Revisited: An Anonymous Anabaptist Letter to the Court at the Hague," to
be published in the Mennonite Quarterly Review.

15 Van die Heerlijcke. The microfilm copy is missing fols. l%v-19x. For an analysis of this
tract, see Waite, David Joris, 89-106.

16 Hoert hoert hoert, Groot wunderl groot wunder/ groot wunder (n.p., n.d.), MF400, vdL
no. 163. The version consulted by van der Linde was a reprint from 1610; the microfilm
version is clearly an earlier edition from either Albert Pafraet's or Dirck von Borne's
press, Joris' major printers in Deventer. The original edition is in Amsterdam, II 1976a.
Although undated, the tract must have been completed by late December 1536 or
January 1537. Joris' anonymous biographer explained that "when he awoke or came to
himself, he was exhausted, as if he had run for 2 miles, he was breathing so heavily
from exhaustion. He seized immediately feather and ink with both hands, and wrote
while still standing ..." and continues to quote verbatim the first few pages from Hoert,
hoert, hoert. "David Joris sonderbare Lebensbeschreibung," Unpartheiische Kirchen-
und Ketzer Histori�� (Frankfurt: 1729. Reprinted by Hildesheim: Georg 01ms, 1967),
713. The 1610 edition has at the end "uitgegheven 1539," which is incorrect as a date
of composition. It may, however, be the date of a reissue, for the seventeenth century
version has a different title page, beginning "Hoort die stemme des Heeren/ die voor
dat aenghesicht des Heeren wtgaet". In Amsterdam, 2494, B18.

314 / Renaissance and Reformation

17 See vdL, 44. Joris reiterated this in another work, Neemt waer. Dat boeck des levensl
is mi gheopenbaert (n.p., n.d.), fols. 2v-3r, vdL no. 177. Interestingly, Joris' use of the
phrase "hoert, hoert, hoert" here and in other works may take its cue from city heralds
who appear to have used the imperative expression to call attention to their an-
nouncements. An example of this is found in a Chamber of Rhetoric play from the first
half of the sixteenth century, wherein a herald enters the stage, sounds his trumpet and
exclaims "Hoort, hoort, hoort, nu luijstert nae mijn ghescal". W.M.H. Hummelen and
C. Schmidt, Naaman, Prinche van Syrien (Zutphen: B. V.W.J. Thieme & Cie, n.d.), 62.
Rhetoricians drew much of their material from daily life.

18 See especially fols. 30r-33v.

19 "David Joris sonderbare Lebensbeschreibung," 715.

20 It is found in the Jorislade, vol.9. Unfortunately, fols. 6-130 are missing from the
manuscript at Basel. For a list of recipients of Joris' letters, see Appendix 1.

21 The letters to Strasbourg included: "Den wisen zi dit gescreuen: den onwetenden en
Lates niet al weten: Wilt dat Heilichdom niet den honden geven: noch u Peerlen, unde
Rosen vor die verckins stroyen. Och letter up. Antwoort up Hans Eysenburchs Vor-
reden," fols. 305-21 and possibly "Been ellenden Roep," which immediately follows
the response to Eisenburg and is dated 1537. The letter to his supporters near Oldenburg
is entitled "Vprechtinge der Gemeinten," begins on fol.331r and is also from 1537. It
was intended to prepare the way for his visit to northern Westphalia in the spring of
1538, where he temporarily gained the allegiance of the Miinsterites there. See Waite,
David J oris, 120-22.

22 Eene onderwysinge ofte raetl omme die gedachten in den toem tho brengen, MF 400,
vdL no.l, but mistakenly listed as no. 167 in the microfiche collection.

23 Joris remarked to the Strasbourg Melchiorites that he had "sent two letters here to
Strasbourg in the beginning of 1537 where they were a little corrected and improved
... After this they received two or three printed booklets, also a long letter on marriage,
and a booklet written on marriage against a booklet of Hans Eysenburch, made by
Mel[chior] H[offman]." Marc Lienhard, Stephen F. Nelson and Hans Georg Rott, eds.,
Quellen zur Geschichte der Taufer, Vol.15, Elsass III, Stadt StraBburg 1536-1542
(Gutersloh: Gerd Mohn, 1986), 163.

24 Called the "Twistreden" (Disputation), the critical edition of which is in ibid., 156-231.

25 For an analysis from the perspective of the Strasbourg Melchiorites, see Klaus Depper-
mann, Melchior Hoffman, Social Unrest and Apocalyptic Visions in the Age of Refor-
mation, trans, by Malcolm Wren and ed. by Benjamin Drewery (Edinburgh: T. & T.
Clark, 1987), 366ff. For studies of Joris' role in the debate, see Zijlstra, "David Joris,"
and Waite, David Joris, 132-40.

26 Een seer schone tractaet off onderwijs van mennigerley aert der menschen vianden
(Deventer, Albert Pafraet, 1539), vdL no. 3. Not in the MF collection, but available in
Amsterdam, 2494 B18.

27 Een zeer zuuerlyck tractaet van de lyeffde schoenheyt (Deventer: Pafraet, 1539), vdL
no. 166, but listed as no.l in the microfiche collection, MF 400.

28 Eyn wtroepinge van der brudegoms kompst (n.p., 1539), vdL no. 2, not in MF, but
available in a 1616 edition, in Amsterdam, 2497, B19.

Renaissance et R��forme / 315

29 "Neemt waer/ ende waeckt op myne Kinderen," vdL no. 222, 1.

30 "Neemt waer een Gesicht, van eenen die de Waerheyt ende dat recht Godts lieft,
openbaer by dage" (n.p., 1539), vdL no.4. While this work was evidently published, it
exists only in a German translation as part of the "David Joris sonderbare
Lebensbeschreibung," 730-31. The vision was actually experienced by one of Joris'
closest associates, Lenard van Dam, but was probably written or at least edited by Joris.
For a translation, see Appendix 2.

31 Seer goet onderwysinge der wijsheit ... Beyde vor Ouden ende Jongen (De venter:
Pafraet, 1539), vdL no.l67, MF 400.

32 Die Acht Salicheden (n.p., Sept. 1539). Not catalogued by van der Linde nor by
Hillerbrand, but listed by Cramer as #3. Available in Amsterdam, 2497 B19.

33 His wife was also arrested at Utrecht, but while thirteen of her compatriots were
executed, she was released. See Waite, "The Methods of Survival as practiced by an
Anabaptist Fugitive, David Joris," Mennonite Quarterly Review, LXI (1987), 46-57.
Karel Vos earlier edited a letter written by Joris in 1539 to encourage "a brother in his
fear" during the intense persecution. "Brief van David Joris, 1539," Doopsgezinde
Bijdragen, LIV (1917), 163-65.

34 See Appendix 2.

35 Des Hemelschen Ehestands beginsel of trowinghel die Belofte of vereeniginge des
herten (n.p., n.d.), again part of Amsterdam, 2497 B19 and not in van den Linde nor
Hillerbrand. It can be set to the early period by Joris' instruction to his readers, the
"oppressed, poor, abandoned people" (fol.24v) to come to the "glorious freedom of the
children of God" (fol.24r); the first phrase referring to a period of intense persecution
and the second is a nearly verbatim citation from Rothmann, "Verborgenheit", in
Stupperich, Rothmanns Schriften, 296-7.

36 Dat eynde coemtl dat eynde coemt ouer all�� die vier hoecken der aerden (n.p., n.d.),
vdL no. 165, listed as vdL no. 166 in MF 400. Again, the nature of the apocalyptical
message here confirms an early date.

37 Een salighe Leeringe voor die hongherighe bekommerde Helen (n.p., n.d.). Not listed
in either van der Linde nor Hillerbrand. In Amsterdam, 2497 B19.

38 Hoe sich die gelouighe, die een suster ofte vrouwe tot hem neempt, draghen ofsy beyde
haer tegen den ander hebben sullen. Wat houwen ende trouwen te seggen: ende waer
toe die Echt nut goet ende orber van G. ingheset is (n.p., n.d.). First discovered by
Rogge, "Een Band," 10. This work is neither catalogued by van der Linde nor included
in MF, but is listed in Hillerbrand as 2926a, and available in Amsterdam, 2494 B18.

39 He writes that the "Bruyt Christi . . . oock van den selven Wijn die Bitterheyt des Kelcks
drincken/ ende mit sulcken ghedranghe/ door dat lyden ende banghicheyt in die
bitterheyt des Doots/ onder dat Doopsel duypelen of duycken moet/ daer haren Heere
ende Meyster (dat Hooft) in voorgetreden heeft" (fol.lllv).

40 The whole passage is noteworthy: "Desghelycks die Monicken ende Papen/ hebben
oock die Heylige Schrift/ aensiet hare rechtvaerdicheyt ende Geloof: Die Martinianen
ende all�� die haer dat Euangelium beroemen/ ende dat Gheloove seggen te hebben/
aensiet eens hare Vruchten: Die Bondgenooten/ die de alder-vroomste solden sijn/ ende
haer sonderlinghe holden mit Christo verghadert te wisen/ die mach men oock aen hare
Woorden ende besneden herte wel kennen" (fol. 120v).

316 / Renaissance and Reformation

41 The original reads: "Ghedenckt/ wat dat voor Luyden ende Leeraers waren/ die haer
belyden ende bekennen moesten ... noch kinderen in't verstant te wesen: Die Melchior
Hofman boven een yeghelijck hielden een knecht des Heeren/ verSvult mitten Heyligen
Geest ende mit aile Rijckdommen der Waarheyt ende der kennissen Godes/ als
Namelijck/ voor den rechten Elias/ den Michael/ den beloofden David/ den stercken
Engel van den Hemel/ die men hooren ende volgen moeste/ Ja dat die gene die hem
toegevoeght was/ Namelijck Enoch/ al verde achter hem stonde/ ende niet so verre in
die Heerlijckheyt sal komen als hy/ ende haer nochtans vermeten ende voorghegeven
hebben/ dat sy hem (Melchior Hofman) die Letter/ maer hy haer den Gheest aendiende.
Is dat niet een grouwel ende schande/ Ja een groote lasteringe by den Heyligen in Israel/
... Ende alhoewel ick haer genoegh gheseght/ geschreven/ ende hen hare dolinge
aengewesen hebbe/ so en hebben sy my nochtans niet willen ghelooven" (fols. 123v-

42 See in particular, "Twistreden," fols. 34r-36v; 48vff; 95rff; 97ff.

43 "Twistreden," fol. 107r.

44 Furthermore, Hillerbrand suggests it was printed in Deventer c. 1540 and the print type
belongs to a number of tracts printed by Deventer presses between 1539 and 1547. That
the dated works in the volume of which Hoe sich die gelouighe is a part (Amsterdam,
Ned. Inc. 302) run from 1537 to 1543, may also imply an early printing.

45 Another tract from Amsterdam, 2497 B19 could be a candidate: Van den Geest ende
Gave der Ootmoedicheyt (n.p., n.d.), with its reference to proclaim the message before
"den Dach des Oordeels", appears early, but it is not possible at the present state of
research to discern whether it came sometime before or after 1540.

46 While not extant in the original Dutch, it was discovered by Gottfried Arnold in the
eighteenth century and included, in German translation, in his Unpartheiische Kirchen-
und Ketzer Histori��. A likely scenario is that Joris' secretary, Heinrich von Schor wrote
down the stories as Joris narrated them and filled in the details with sections from his
tracts and with personal commentary. I am in the process of preparing a volume of
translations of Joris' early writings which will include this biography.

47 The other major contemporary account of Joris' life is by his son-in-law, Nicolaas
Meyndertsz van Blesdijk. This biography, the Historia vitae, written well after Joris'
death and Blesdijk's defection from the movement, is discussed by Zijlstra, Blesdijk,
165-71 and Stayer, "David Joris: A Prolegomenon to Future Research," Mennonite
Quarterly Review, LVI (1985), 358. The critical Historia vitae provides a necessary
corrective to the often uncritical anonymous account.

48 For more on Joris' concept of Dutch as the language of the Holy Spirit, see Gary K.
Waite, "The Holy Spirit Speaks Dutch: David Joris and the Promotion of the Dutch
Language, 1539-1545," forthcoming in Church History.

49 Clare Berichtinge, Hoe die Mensch van Godt ghevallen ende jn wat manieren hy weder
tot Godt gebrocht wert een claere ende leuendige opsluytinge (n.p., 1543), fol. 97v,
vdL no. 17, not in MF. In Amsterdam, MA 376, reprinted in 1614. The original reads:
"diewijl daar veele sijn, die so haast sy wat lesen, dat verstant daer af al meenen
wech-te-hebben, heb Ick v (Beminde Leser) derhalven willen waerschouwen, dat
niemant sich vergrypende sulcks beroeme of duncken late, by sonder in Godlijkcke
saecken, in een Gheestelijcke tonghe ende Hemel-lantsche spraacke, door den Geest

Renaissance et R��forme / 317

mit waren verstande godlijck voortgebracht. Diewyle dan die Gheestelijcken alleen, die
Hemelsche nieuwe tonge vanden Hemelschen Geborenen Godes verstaen ... " He
continues "mit sijn eyghen ooge, geest ende verstant moet ghesien ende ghevattet
werden, Godt in sijnder Waarheyt beyde te soecken ende te vinden is, derhalven moet
het te meer benaerstigher, ja mit sijns selfs ghesicht (dat is, hem ghelijck sijnde)
aenghesien, mit vlijt ghelesen, innerlijck, ghestlijck verstaen, krachtich mitter daat
bewesen sijn. Want men moet dat licht in't licht, God in God, Geestlijcke dinghen in
den Gheest sien, soeken ende vinden ..." (fols. 97v-98r).

50 The Evangelical Rentmeester of Groningen, Hieronymus Wilhelmi, writing to Junker
Karel van Guelders after the latter had sent him a copy of Joris' Twonder Boeck. The
letter is found in Blesdijk, Billijcke Verantwoordinge ende eenvoldighe wederlegginghe
Nicolaes Meynertsz van Blesdijck op eenen scheltlasterighen brief door doctorem
Hieronimum Wilhelmi ... int jaer 1544 (n.p., 1610), fol. 102v.

51 He stated: "I say to you, inside, in your innermost heart will it [the day of the Lord]
come upon you. Your conscience will be examined, your words, works and thoughts
be weighed and measured, where you are accused by yourself ... For in this way exists
his coming" (Twonder Boeck, fol.vii[v]).

52 Most Spiritualists rejected any notions which might lead to further sectarianism.
Sebastian Franck, for example, remarked that "at the present time not a single true and
natural word of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is acknowledged on earth, yea,
that no one has begun to recognise the righteousness of faith." "Letter to John Cam-
panus" in George H. Williams and Angel M. Mergal, eds.. Spiritual and Anabaptist
Writers (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1957), 158. For more on the relationship
between Joris and Castellio, see Waite, David Joris, 181-82.

53 Twonder Boeck (Deventer, Dirk von Borne, 1542/3), part I, fol. 51v: "Dit is den
beloofden wtuercoren Dauidt/ die gheweldige Vorst"; (n.p., 1551), part I, fol.57r: "Dit
is den principaelsten Geest der kraft/ den beloofden wtverkoren David die geweldige

54 Ibid (1551), part I, fol.58r. The full citation reads: "Dan siet/ hier mach Ick metten kop
niet doorvaren/ mijn verstandt wie der Haen ouer die kolen/ niet verbyloopen/
Namelijck/ of dat woort des Rijcks sich niet wyder wtstreckt van desen beloofden Geest
der Waerheyt oder Dauid/ dat het oock niet in desen Name/ sonder inden rechten
yuerighen Gheest/ die daer door wtgesproocken werdt/ solde na der Waerheydt
eewelijck beghinnen vnde voleynden. Want t'is kenlijck/ dat het eewich werende Rijck/
niet in der geboorten ons Heeren Jesu opghericht en is: Nadien dat (als ment voor een
Rijck wolde wtspreecken) door den Antichrist/ die Scharlaken Hoer verstoort/ ghen
verby Babylonien wech gevuert is: Vnde dit eewich werende Rijck/ most onuerstoort
stijf blyuen/ all�� vorighe Koninckrijcken vermalen vnd gantsch te niet doen/ welck wy
opentlijc sien/ dat in dier tijt/ vnd noch niet gheschiet is. Derhaluen is mijn voirgeuen
heir/ dat wanneer die gerechte Christus inder eewichz na den Geest vnd Waerheyt in
ons gheboren wert/ dattet een anderen Dauid na den Geest vnde Waerheyt (wie
voorsecht is/ vnd Petrus betuycht heeft) sijn sal. Inden welcken dit eewich werende
Koninckrijck (daer van Daniel ghesecht heeft) opgericht solde werden: vnde
onuerstoort vast staende blyuen: na luydt der Schrift." This passage is not found in the
earlier edition.

318 / Renaissance and Reformation

55 This total does not included the still uncatalogued unpublished manuscript works. MF
401, for example, contains 110 handwritten tracts, treatises and letters, many of which
never appeared in print. There is quite a large manuscript collection in Basel.

56 These are: Christlijcke SendtbrieuenI Inholdende seer veele vnde verscheydene schoone
Godtlijcke Vermaninghen vnde Onderrichtinghen ... (n.p, n.d.), vdL no. 225 and con-
taining letters from 1546 to 1556; Het tweede Boeck DER Christlijcker Sende-brieuenI
Inholdende veele verscheyden schoone Godtlijcke Leeringhen ... (n.p., 1611), vdL
no.226 and containing letters from 1549 to 1556; and Het derde Boeck der Christelycker
Sendbrieven: Inholdende veele verscheyden schoone Godlijcke Leeringhen ende Ver-
maningen ... (n.p., 1611), vdL no. 227 and containing letters from 1551-1556, with one
from 1539 and another from 1543.

57 Three of the Handbooks are known to have gone through at least two editions:
Handt-Boecxken: Inholdende veele Godtlycke trouhertighe Vaderlijcke vermaningen
vnde leeringen ... (n.p., n.d.), vdL no. 218, revised and reprinted in 1616, vdL no. 219;
Dat tweede Handt-Boecxken. Den Innerlijcken Wttreck of Geestelijcke Pelgrimagie
cortelyck wtghesproken (n.p., n.d.), vdL no. 220, revised and reprinted 1616, vdL
no. 221; Dat Derde Hand-Boecxken: Inholdende verscheyden leerende Tractaten ...
(n.p., 1614), vdL no. 222; another edition of 1614 is vdL no. 223. The fourth volume,
Dat vierde Hand-Boecxken. Daer in veele Ghebeden ende Vermaningen tot bidden ...
(n.p., 1626)isvdLno.224.

58 This total is based on van der Linde's count of letters in each volume.

59 See Appendix 1 and Waite, Z)ay/J7om, 145-57.

60 The work was done by Joris' secretary, Heinrich van Schor. See Eug��nie Droz, "Sur
Quelques Traductions Françaises D'Écrits de David Joris," in Het Boek, derde reeks,
XXXVII, 154-162, MF 392.

61 See Waite, "The Dutch Nobility and Anabaptism, 1535-1545," forthcoming in the
Sixteenth Century Journal.

62 In 1544 Albert Pafraet was interrogated about his printing of Joris' works. He confessed
to having printed four books, 200-400 copies each. J.G. de Hullu, ��d., Bescheiden
Betreffende de Hervorming in Overijsel (Deventer, 1897), 321-24.

63 Leonard van Dam, "Neemt waer een Gesicht," 730. See Appendix 2.

64 From the Hy deckel. Fols. 7r-126r are missing from the manuscript. I am indebted to S,
Zijlstra (Groningen) for his kind assistance in providing the key to the breaking of Joris'
code. The folio pages refer to the location of the code and hence the end of each letter.

65 Probably published, but available only in "David Joris sonderbare Lebensbeschrei-
bung," 730-1.

66 unbetrieglichen.

67 Van Dam is obviously referring to the danger of detection if he went down from the
attic into the main part of the house, where he might be seen by strangers or city

68 Literally adern and sennen.

69 Although Joris' name is not mentioned, his identity as the man in the vision is
indisputable; one of Joris' physical characteristics was a long, red beard.

Renaissance et R��forme / 319

70 It is difficult to ascertain exactly where the tract ends and the anonymous biography
continues, but at this point it appears that Leonard van Dam is no longer the narrator
and Anonymous has taken up his story again. The account continues: "When this
happened, the man was so amazed he knew not where to go, for he thought, what is the
meaning of this? It was also during this time that he kept it concealed, that he did not
reveal it to David. Then it happened that David was also inspired that he should go into
the room (where one went to and fro, whence the first came). When he now came before
the light, and another brother turned around to come towards him, a voice spoke
instantly that he should kneel down, but immediately David did not allow him to do it
out of concern for the others. And then a strong and loud voice spoke to him that he
should be obedient. And see, he did it, regardless of whether the others might think of
it as strange as he did, it had to be so." According to Anonymous, Joris also had a vision
in the same room: "For in the same evening that the wonderful vision of the naked man
was revealed to him [i.e., van Dam], David had a divine, glorious incident. God (it
seemed to him) pulled him totally away and took David (it appeared) out of his own
vision and perception, as if he were no longer the same man; indeed, he no longer
recognized himself. In this vision he saw himself in Aaron's priestly nature, as a pure
bride, [and] a spiritual head of the church."

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus

Daniel Carpi. Between Renaissance and Ghetto. Essays on the History of the Jews
in Italy in the 14th and 17th Centuries. Tel-Aviv: University Publishing Project,
1989, 303 Pp.

Daniel Carpi, professeur �� l'Universit�� de Tel-Aviv oii il assure les responsabilit��s
de la chaire d'histoire de l'holocauste, est connu depuis des ann��es d��j�� pour ses
travaux sur les juifs de la Renaissance en Italie. En 1974-1980, l'Acad��mie des
sciences de J��rusalem a publi�� en deux volumes son Minutes Bock of the Council
of the Jewish Community of Padua, publication monumentale du registre des
d��lib��rations communales (Pinkas) de la ville, en h��breu, ��tay��e par plusieurs
documents d'archives d��couverts �� Padoue et ailleurs. En tant qu'animateur du
projet "Italia judaica" de son universit��, Carpi a publi�� aussi, chez Carucci �� Rome,
une bibliographie, la Biblioteca Italo-Ebraica, qui met �� jour l'ancienne bibliogra-
phie d'Attilio Milano, toujours aussi pr��cieuse, ceci sans mentionner des dizaines
d'articles et ��ditions de textes dont notre coll��gue est l'auteur. Dans Between
Renaissance and Ghetto, Carpi rassemble dix de ses ��tudes, d��j�� publi��es, il est
vrai, mais en les mettant �� jour et en les remaniant parfois profond��ment. Ainsi les
chercheurs ont-ils �� leur disposition dans un seul recueil le fruit d'ann��es de travail
acharn�� et pers��v��rant.

Le goût de Daniel Carpi pour la d��couverte d'archives et sa volont�� d'ins��rer les
nouvelles informations dans le contexte d��j�� connu, se manifestent de mani��re
patente dans chacun de ces dix articles. Certains des documents qu'il a d��couverts
sont en latin (ou en italien) et bien d'autres en h��breu. Parfois, comme dans le
premier article sur les banquiers juifs de Montepulciano, des textes d'origine interne
sont confront��s �� des documents d'origine externe. Pour Venise, o�� le Pinkas a ��t��
perdu, Carpi arrive (p. 168-208) �� reconstituer certaines de ses ordonnances
communautaires �� partir des textes latins. El��ve en cela d'Israël Heilperin, le
regrett�� professeur d'histoire moderne de J��rusalem dans les ann��es 1950 et 1960,
notre auteur s'attache toujours aux aspects majeurs de l'existence juive de la
pr��modernit��, tels les rapports de ces communaut��s italiennes avec celles de la Terre
Sainte, examinant �� cette fin les informations provenant de Padoue (p. 131-147) et
de Venise (p. 217-281). Venise ��tait alors aussi tr��s active pour la rançon des captifs
juifs, comme cela est bien connu �� partir du registre de la soci��t�� Pidyon shevuyim.

322 / Renaissance and Reformation

soci��t�� fond��e d��j�� au commencement du dix-septi��me si��cle comme le d��montre
l'auteur (p. 209-216).

Les quatre ��tudes qui contituent la premi��re partie du livre sont d'un int��r��t
particulier. Trois d'entre elles traitent des aspects de la m��decine juive, alors que la
premi��re (p. 9-56) d��crit les activit��s des pr��teurs d'argent juifs dans la petite ville
de Montepulciano en Toscane. Pour cette ville, Carpi a eu la chance extraordinaire
de d��couvrir des fragments en h��breu du livre de raison tenu en 1409 et 1410. Il ne
nous reste aujourd'hui pas plus de 29 feuilles, ��ventail infime si on le compare au
registre florentin de 1473-1475 conserv�� �� l'Archivio d��lia Rep��bblica de Florence
et qui attend toujours d'��tre publi��. Mais �� Montepulciano nous avons le plus ancien
de ces registres et, de plus, l'un des rares documents de ce genre trouv��s �� ce jour
pour l'Occident m��di��val tout entier. En outre. Carpi a trouv�� deux autres docu-
ments en h��breu, provenant eux aussi de ce qui devait ��tre les archives de cette
hottega di presto ad usura Qianut est le terme en h��breu du temps), dont un, datant
de la fin de 1394, n'est autre qu'un contrat d'association entre deux partenaires juifs.

Traitant de l'histoire de la profession m��dicale. Carpi est tout d'abord int��ress��
par la carri��re extraordinaire du savant de la deuxi��me moiti�� du quinzi��me si��cle,
Judah messer Leon (p. 57-84). Trois textes latins d��couverts �� l'Archivio di Stato
de Padoue le d��signent non seulement comme titulaire du doctorat et portant un titre
chevaleresque ("miles et artium ac medicine doctor"), mais aussi et surtout, investi
par l'empereur Fr��d��ric III, le 21 f��vrier 1469, du pouvoir d'accorder le titre de
docteur en m��decine et es arts aux candidats juifs. En effet, on voit messer Leon
investir de cette dignit�� le m��decin Johanan Alemano, ami et tuteur de Pic de La
Mirandole, en f��vrier de l'ann��e suivante. Messer Leon ��tait-il v��ritablement
professeur d'universit��, comme le laisse entendre dans une phrase ambiguë son fils
David? A quel titre a-t-il m��rit�� de tels honneurs? Il est bien possible que la r��ponse
�� ces questions soit cach��e dans les archives italiennes: Carpi a tout �� fait raison de
r��clamer que des ��tudes prosopographiques soient d'ores et d��j�� men��es par nos
chercheurs. Il nous en donne un exemple en suivant la biographie de Jacob ben Samuel
Mantino (Giacobbe Giudeo) pendant deux ans �� Padoue (1531-1533, p. 85-95), et
surtout les carri��res de 29 m��decins juifs qui ont obtenu leur titre de l'Universit�� de
Padoue au seizi��me et dix-septi��me si��cle (p. 96-130). Il est cependant navrant que
l'on ne soit pas sûr de tout savoir sur ces 29 m��decins, ni s'ils furent les seuls �� avoir
��tudi�� �� Padoue durant ces si��cles. Pour en ��tre certain, il nous faudrait parcourir pas
moins de vingt mille registres conserv��s, rien que pour les ann��es 1470 �� 1616 (p. 99)!
Carpi nous montre toutefois de façon exemplaire comment traiter de telles trouvailles,
comment les mettre en valeur en tenant compte de tout, absolument tout ce qui a ��t��
d��j�� ��crit. Il nous montre aussi quelles immenses possibilit��s de recherche sont toujours
cach��es dans les archives italiennes.

JOSEPH SHATZMILLER, Universit�� de Toronto

Renaissance et R��forme / 323

Paolo Prodi. The Papal Prince. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Pp. X, 287.

This book is an illuminating study that provides the reader with new insights into the
formation of the modem European state. The reader should be forewarned, however,
that Prof, Prodi's work is not among the easiest to read. The author favours long
sentences, sometimes interrupted by parentheses or statements between dashes, that
aim to convey subde interpretative nuances. The stylistic complexity corresponds to
the complexity of the author's original views on the Renaissance papacy.

Two basic ideas underlie this study. First of all, the secularisation and politicisa-
tion of the papacy in the period between 1450 and 1650 were not a symptom or the
result of individual corruption. Instead, secularisation was a by-product of the
evolution of the papacy into a modern state, under the pressure of the fight against
conciliarism and the need to survive in the middle of emerging national states. This
evolution thus places the papacy on a course that runs parallel to that of the other
European states and even antecedes it. By adopting this viewpoint. Prof. Prodi
avoids the pitfall of one-sidedly labelling the Renaissance papacy as corrupt. While
it was no doubt regrettable that the Church of Rome should increasingly concern
itself with temporal matters, as Erasmus, the representatives of Catholic reform and
the Protestant Reformers were agreed, yet centralisation and secularisation were
dictated by the logic of events and not by the moral corruption of any given pope.
Thus, moral corruption is exploded as a historical category. Likewise, the old-
fashioned polarisation between a static, still in many ways medieval, papacy on the
one hand, to which is opposed the dynamic Reformation linked to the creation of
modern states is also destroyed. On the contrary, the papacy turns out to have been
deeply involved in the construction of the modern state. The failure to bring it to
completion was due to the fusion of spiritual and temporal power, which lay at the
core of the Papal State. This created a perennial contradiction, which ultimately
caused political decay.

The double nature and role of the papacy in modern times is the other central idea
underlying this study. In the West, as remarked by Weber, the alliance between
political and hierocratic power observable in other civilizations appears only
sporadically. The papacy of the Renaissance played an essential role in "the process
of absorption of the religious sphere into society within the power of the new State"
(p. 6). The model of the Papal State, with its fusion of spiritualia and temporalia,
led the new territorial states towards a similar blend, not only jurisdictionally, but
also as a religious and cultural integration. Prof. Prodi quotes Kantorowicz to clarify
that "... the hierarchical apparatus of the Roman Church tended to become the
perfect prototype of an absolute and rational monarchy on a mystical basis, while
at the same time the State increasingly showed a tendency to become a quasi-Church
or a mystical corporation on a rational basis ..." (p. 2). This osmosis leads right up
to the cujus regio eius et religio principle, and beyond.

324 / Renaissance and Reformation

Having established the angle from which he proposes to examine the evolution
of the Papal State, Prof. Prodi analyzes the impact of this twofold centralised power
in some important areas. The first chapter deals with the process by which the
patrimony of St. Peter became the Papal State. The author destroys the myth that
centralisation, and the accompanying phenomenon of politicisation, were an alter-
native to the papacy's universal role. On the contrary, they were "an attempt to make
this [universalism] survive in the new historical circumstances of the era of prin-
cipalities and monarchies" (p. 9). The second chapter traces the evolution by which
the figure of the pope became "a double-headed Janus in which the new political
'monster' is embodied" (p. 20). By the early seventeenth century Giovan Battista
De Luca, an acute jurist, described the pope's fourfold personality in the following
terms: "... unam scilicet jam enunciatam Christi vicarii generalis, et episcopi
Ecclesiae universalis; alteram patriarchae Occidentis; tertiam episcopi particularis
Romanae civitatis ... et quartam demum imperatoris, vel principis temporalis urbis
..." (p. 33). Chapter three is of particular interest because of its rapid analysis of
the link between art and the image of themselves that the popes wished to project.
Raphael's Expulsion of Heliodorus, to quote an example, celebrates the expulsion
of the Bentivoglio from Bologna. The legal system, dealt with in chapter four,
provides further evidence of the centralisation of power as it was reflected in the
homogenisation of legislation in the Papal State. One milestone was Sixtus IV's
application, in 1478, of the Constitutiones Aegidianae to the whole of the papal
territories. The machinery of the papal government is examined in chapter five. The
leading themes are the decline of the college of cardinals from a senatorial to an
electoral body; the corresponding rise of the cardinal-nephew, whose functions were
similar to those of the modern Secretary of State; and the detachment of the datary
from the camera and its increasing dependence on the pope, so that a Venetian
ambassador could describe it as "the pope's private purse" (p. 97). Civil service and
the papal bureaucracy are outlined in chapter six. This chapter contains many
valuable insights into the use of spiritual weapons, that is, excommunication and
interdict, in support of political power.

The specific case of Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti and his conflicts with the papal
governors in the diocese of Bologna are the subject of chapter seven, in which Prof.
Prodi incorporates materials from his well-known study of this historical character.
This chapter shows the negative effect of the centralisation of the Papal State on the
local authority exercised by a prelate in his own diocese, with the constant inter-
ference of a governor directly dependent on Rome. Chapter eight sketches the
repercussions of the development of the Papal State on foreign policy. Dealing with
the phenomena of concordats and nunciatures. Prof. Prodi suggests (pp. 167-168)
a more sophisticated periodisation than the old division into Reformation and
Counter-Reformation. From 1450 to the opening of the Council of Trent, papal
foreign policy was concentrated on the alliance with princes who had remained
faithful to Rome; between 1545 and 1560, the Papal State became the defender of

Renaissance et R��forme / 325

Italian freedom; finally, from 1564 to the seventeenth century, the papacy was
impelled by the Council of Trent to try to implement Tridentine reforms and to
reassert the universalism of the Church. Prof. Prodi describes the process by which
the pope gradually became the assertor of an ideology of neutrality and a mediator
on the European political scene, a role that the papacy still has.

Some of the views expressed in this book had already fleetingly and sporadically
appeared in von Ranke, Kantorowicz, Gregorovius and others, as the author is
careful to point out. It is Prof. Prodi's merit to have gathered such views and
approaches in a coherent and highly interesting historiographical statement. This
work is not only illuminating per se, but also provides a rich source of research
themes that have, so far, been mostly ignored.

RITA BELLADONNA, York University

William Baldwin. Beware the Cat: The First English Novel. Ed. William A.
Ringler, Jr., and Michael Flachmann. San Marino. California: Huntington Library,
1988. Pp. XXX, 126.

Beware the Cat is largely the three-part oration of a man named Gregory Streamer,
who argues forensically that animals communicate with one another. Streamer's
proof is based on his own rather dubious experiences - after having followed a
recipe in the celebrated Book of Secrets he listened to cats talking outside his
window. The work is a masterfully layered narrative, a brilliant oral performance,
in which the different voices of the speaker, friends, servants, the author, and, of
course, the cats all tell stories, most of which seem to be outright lies. The
well-ordered jumble - of learned nonsense, jests, shrewd anti-papal satire, folk
tales, even a patch of lively Skeltonics suddenly appearing in the midst of the prose
narrative — proves that one must "beware the cat," for cats not only listen to our
privy secrets, they relate them to other cats.

This edition by the late Sidney scholar William A. Ringler Jr. and his former pupil
Michael Flachmann is certainly most welcome. The surprising thing is that the book
has not received more attention before. To anyone slogging through the mass of
Elizabethan fiction in both prose and verse. Beware the Cat stands out as a very
high point indeed. An earlier and very lightly annotated but nonetheless useful
old-spelling edition by William P. Holden appeared in an obscure series published
in 1963 by Connecticut College. Yet anyone who has known of the book seems to
have come across it, appropriately enough, by word of mouth (I first heard of it from
a former pupil of Ringler 's at Chicago). Beware the Cat deserves attention from
critics; moreover it is one of the few sixteenth-century English fictional narratives
that one can recommend to non-specialists.

326 / Renaissance and Reformation

Pace Ringler and Flachmann or the publisher, this is not the "first English novel,"
because it is not a novel. The novel did not exist in sixteenth-century England,
though many works that may termed novelistic certainly did - both prose and verse
contain the narrative strategies of fiction. In the huge output of drama, heroic verse,
romance, chronicle histories, biography and autobiography, satire, - all ways of
telling stories — lie the roots of our modern "novel." Yet no matter how hard we
look, we shall never find the first one.

Other than its sub-title and a very questionable pair of appendixes outlining and
summarizing prose narratives before 1558 to prove the novelistic primacy of this
text, the edition is satisfactory. The documentary background in the introduction is
most helpful. Yet there are a few surprising statements. For instance we read that
Sidney's Arcadia is "by any measure the best piece of sixteenth-century prose
fiction produced in any language." More? Rabelais? The comments on Baldwin and
his narrative method are helpful enough, though not grounded in recent theory of
narrative; any notion of the parodie text, for instance, would have had a happy time
with Beware the Cat.

The text has been modernized. It is based principally on two witnesses, an 1847
transcript (BL Ms Add 24,628) of a now lost printed text (Lx)ndon, 1570, John AUde
for John Arnold) and a later edition (1584, Edward Allde, son of the preceding).
Ringler (for it was Ringler who prepared the edition, and Flachmann who saw it
through the press) has chosen as his copy-text the transcript, claiming it to be an
accurate representation of the 1570 text, in turn our best guide to the work perhaps
written circa 1553. I am willing to accept the judgment of such an outstanding
scholar, yet I cannot see how the argument for this copy-text can be proved. There
is a 4-leaf fragment of another edition (1570, William Gryffith); Ringler claims that
the transcript is closer than 1584 to this 1570 fragment; yet there is no evidence that
the 1570 fragment has any special authority either. I would have preferred the 1584
text, emended following the authority of the transcript. Certainly an old-spelling
edition would have to go this route. Nonetheless, close comparison with 1584 shows
that Ringler has made few radical emendations against the only existing witness of
the period. My one principal objection in detail is to the reading of the name of a
cat; Ringler has "Pol-noir," which he explains in his notes as "black-head"; yet 1584
reads "Poilnoer" which should be rendered in modern spelling as "Poil-noir" or
"black-fur." Because the edition lacks an editorial apparatus we cannot tell if the
transcript gives Ringler the authority to make the change.

The notes are in places very well done, especially the excellent source analysis
for some of the tales. There are very few problems. A number of proverbs are missed
in the last section. At 16.28 "a cat hath nine lives" is not Tilley W 6520 (there is no
such number) but C 154, where this passage is cited. At 29.34 "chine bone" is not
a "jaw bone" but the "spine." And I believe a whole set of notes is missing from
19.8 to 23.7-8, including, I would hope, the answer to a most interesting question:
who is that Bishop of Alexandria who could communicate with sparrows?

Renaissance et R��forme / 327

Instead of the appendixes, which never should have been allowed, the editors
would have done better to have included the remarkable broadsheet poem "A Short
Answere to the Boke Called: Beware the Cat" (STC 664.5/reel 1861; reprinted in
Holden's edition), with some commentary. This scatological piece is an outright
attack on Baldwin for having made fun of Gregory Streamer. Yet as Streamer is not
known to have even existed, such an attack is quite mysterious. It is possibly a clever
ruse, a false attack on Baldwin and his "bagagical boke" to lend legitimacy and an
aura of truth to the untrue narrative. Perhaps William Ringler might have solved
this interesting puzzle.

espite one's rejection of the essential premise of this edition - that Beware the
Cat is another "first English novel" — one can be extremely grateful to the late
William Ringler and to Michael Flachmann for having prepared this text and to the
Huntington Library for having published it. It is a minor masterpiece now deser-
vedly available to a wide audience of readers.

WILLIAM W. BARKER, Memorial University of Newfoundland

G��rard Defaux. Marot, Rabelais, Montaigne: V ��criture comme pr��sence. "Etudes
montaignistes, II, Paris-Gen��ve, Champion-Slatkine, 1987, 227 p.

Plus que le titre, les deux ��pigraphes sur lesquelles s'ouvre le recueil - l'une de B.
Castiglione, l'autre de Maurice Blanchot — mettent en lumi��re la distance ��pist��-
mologique qui s��pare la conception que le si��cle humaniste se faisait du rapport de
l'homme �� son langage et celle ��labor��e par la Modernit��. Dans le texte jusque l��
in��dit de l'introduction, l'auteur fait voir que, pour le seizi��me si��cle, "(•••) le
langage n'a pour seule fonction l��gitime que de communiquer imm��diatement la
v��rit�� de l'��tre et sa pr��sence" (p.81). Dans cette conception, la pens��e est absolu-
ment ant��rieure au langage, elle le pr��c��de comme la parole, elle-m��me miroir de
l'âme, pr��c��de l'��criture; et, inversement, la lettre, image de la voix, s'efface pour
laisser place �� l'esprit dont l'��criture n'est que le v��hicule, la n��cessaire bien
qu'imparfaite m��diation. Prenant comme point d'appui le commentaire d'Erasme
sur l'Évangile de Jean, G. Defaux montre que ce logocentrisme se d��finit en regard
du paradigme th��ologique analogiquement transpos�� sur le plan humain. Cette
croyance en la force de repr��sentation du discours jouit �� l'��poque d'un tel statut
d'��vidence qu'elle informe �� son tour le mod��le du Dieu fait Verbe.

Or, notre Modernit�� a bien vu qu'il y a entre les mots et les choses, la voix et
l'��tre, un hiatus incontournable, une irr��ductible diff��rence, et qu'il faut, exposant
le travail du signifi�� �� l'oeuvre, faire ��clater cette illusion de la parole comme
pr��sence, ce leurre dans lequel la pens��e occidentale s'est emp��tr��e depuis Platon.
Le m��rite de G. Defaux consiste justement �� faire voir que, loin d'annoncer cet
��clatement, le seizi��me si��cle confirme plus que jamais la croyance au logo-

328 / Renaissance and Reformation

centrisme. Le si��cle humaniste croit �� l'enracinement du sujet dans son discours, au
Verbe comme Pr��sence, �� ce que, nous Modernes, nous avone d��masqu�� comm illusion:
illusion que le verbe est pr��sence et qui repose sur l'assertion implicite d'une conna-
turalit�� de l'��tre et du dire. L'auteur ne reproche pas �� la Modernit�� la suspicion et le
doute dans lesquels elle tient le langage; il en a plutôt contre la tendance �� projeter
r��troactivement sur le seizi��me si��cle une herm��neutique qui, n��e dans notre Modernit��,
se r��v��le peut-��tre adapt��e aux productions textuelles qui lui sont contemporaines mais
apparaît inad��quate pour les oeuvres produites dans une cadre conceptuel ant��rieur ��
son ��mergence. Ce que G. Defaux reproche surtout �� la Modernit��, c'est de faire
abstraction des enjeux qu'un tel logocentrisme suppose pour la pratique humaniste de
l'��criture, de la lecture et de l'interpr��tation. Les quatre ��tudes qui suivent l'introduction
illustrent l'importance et la port��e de ces enjeux.

Dans le premier chapitre "Entre parole et silence: l'espace po��tique de Cl��ment
Marot", G.Defaux analyse avec brio deux po��mes de Marot dont les caract��ristiques
stylistiques participent de ce logocentrisme chr��tien. Dans ce texte minutieusement
r����crit, auquel s'ajoute une nouvelle introduction (pp. 57-61), l'auteur explique com-
ment deux niveaux de signification se superposent dans VEpîtreX, "A son amy Lyon",
��crite, selon lui, plusieurs ann��es apr��s l'emprisonnement de Marot au Châtelet. A un
premier niveau, litt��ral et r��f��rentiel, Marot fait, par le biais d'une fable d'Esope,
comprendre �� son ami Lyon Jamet qu'il a besoin d'aide. Aun second niveau, all��gorique
et r��flexif, l'emprisonnement et le d��sir de libert�� t��moignent, selon G. Defaux, de la
volont�� du po��te de rompre avec la tradition des Grands Rh��toriqueurs, de s'affranchir
des th��mes et des formes sur la rime et le dit sur l'��crit.

Sous cet ��clairage, Defaux se propose ��galement de relire deux des morceaux les
plus controvers��s de la pentalogie rabelaisienne: le fameux prologue du Gargantua
et l'��pisode des "paroles gel��es" du Quart Livre. A la suite d'Edwin Duval, il
soutient que l'apparente contradiction que l'on a cru d��couvrir dans le prologue
r��sulte en fait d'un contresens qui, une fois r��solu, dissipe la pr��tendue pluralit�� de
cette pi��ce liminaire. Il sugg��re en outre que Rabelais se pr��occupe plus dans ce
prologue de la r��ception de son livre, c'est-��-dire de l'accueil qui sera r��serv�� �� la
nouveaut�� de son oeuvre hybride, que de la probl��matique interpr��tative g��n��-
ralement retenue par les commentateurs. Dans la second partie de cette ��tude
intitul��e "Rabelais herm��neute: de la lettre �� l'esprit", G. Defaux expose la th��se
suivant laquelle l'��pisode des paroles gel��es se d��veloppe en fonction d'une
"r��duction progressive des possibilit��s de sens". Bien qu'il arrive �� des conclusions
diam��tralment oppos��es �� celles de Michel Jeanneret, Defaux partage le point de
d��part de sa lecture: il int��gre cet ��pisode dans le triptyque que forment l'escale ��
l'île des Papimanes, la visite au manoir de Messere Gaster et l'��pisode des paroles
gel��es. Il rattache les chapitres consacr��s aux Papimanes �� une th��matique d'inspi-
ration paulinienne qui d��nonce l'occultation et la r��ification des plans spirituel et
langagier, "les m��faits du litt��ralisme", comme l'��crit M. Jeanneret. L'escale au
manoir de Messere Gaster accentue la critique de ce litt��ralisme que, selon M.

Renaissance et R��forme / 329

Jeanneret, Pantagruel condamnerait chez ses compagnons. De ce point de vue, le
d��gel des paroles surviendrait apr��s que le g��ant eut livr�� une interpr��tation plurielle
des paroles. Or, G. Defaux montre que cet ��pisode ne pose pas le probl��me de
l'interpr��tation des paroles mais soul��ve plutôt celui de l'origine des bruits et des
sons que les voyageurs entendent.

Maniant finement l'ironie, l'auteur rappelle aux partisans de la pluralit�� et aux
tenants de r"ind��cidable" derridien que la multiplicit�� des interpr��tations ne permet
pas pour autant de conclure �� la pluralit�� des significations et que pr��tendre qu'un
texte se d��robe �� toute imposition de sens ou qu'il s'y soustrait d��lib��r��ment, c'est
d��j�� lui reconnaître ou, du moins, lui assigner un sens! Affirmation g��nante pour
les critiques qui diff��rent le vouloir-dire du texte et pour qui tenter de rep��rer le
message que l'auteur a voulu livrer �� ses lecteurs demeure un st��rile proc��s
d'intention. Par ailleurs, si l'on consid��re les oeuvres de Rabelais et de Marot dans
leur ensemble, quelques r��serves s'imposent quant �� l'extr��me suscipion, voire le
m��pris pour le savoir, que dans le prolongement d'un certain "augustinisme", G.
Defaux pr��te �� ces ��crivains.

Si, dans les deux derni��res ��tudes consacr��es �� Montaigne, l'on peut avoir
l'impression que G. Defaux flirte avec la Modernit��, c'est peut-��tre que l'auteur
des Essais se trouve lui-m��me �� l'aube de certaines pr��occupations modernes
concernant la possibilit��, ou plus g��n��ralement l'impossibilit��, de saisir l'alt��rit��.
G. Defaux aborde sous un angle nouveau le chapitre "Des Cannibales", il expose
d'abord la th��se que la post��rit�� a habituellement retenue, en prenant au pied de la
lettre les d��clarations de l'essayiste (pp. 145-158). Montaigne servirait �� ses
lecteurs une triple leçon de m��thode, de lecture et d'��thique. Il mettrait de l'avant
une compr��hension objective et impartiale de l'Autre, accueilli dans sa diff��rence
grâce �� la mise entre parenth��ses des pr��jug��s. Il d��noncerait alors l'intol��rance et
la barbarie de sa propre soci��t��. G. Defaux prend le contrepied de cette
interpr��tation. Par le jeu de l'intertextualit��, il montre que non seulement Montaigne
emprunte des ��l��ments aux Cosmographes (bien qu'il se d��fende de les avoir lus
ou utilis��s) mais encore qu'il choisit pour peindre les Cannibales des traits qui
rel��vent du M��me.

Dans le chapitre IV, "La pr��sence recouvr��e: Montaigne et la peinture du moi",
G. Defaux approfondit la probl��matique de l'alt��rit�� et ��tend les conclusions qu'il
tire de son analyse des Cannibales �� 1' "autoportrait" de Montaigne. Les tr��s belles
pages sur lesquelles s'ach��ve l'ouvrage font apparaître les rapports existant entre
l'��criture des Essais et la mort d'Etienne de La Bo��tie.

A l'exemple de Montaigne, G. Defaux ajoute plus qu'il ne retranche. Outre les
modifications stylistiques, les nombreuses additions que comporte son recueil
mettent en valeur les particularities du logocentrisme chr��tien rayonnant d'Erasme

330 / Renaissance and Reformation

�� Montaigne. Le lecteur d��couvrira ou relira donc avec plaisir et profit ce livre, qui
devrait int��resser autant l'historien des id��es, le philosophe que le critique litt��raire.

DIANE DESROSIERS-BONIN, Universit�� Concordia

Rosemary O'Day. The Debate on the English Reformation. London and New
York: Methuen, 1986. Pp. x, 224.

Rosemary O'Day describes this book as a student's companion to the historiography
of the English Reformation. It is more and less. O'Day transcends the limits of the
genre by introducing original work and fresh interpretations, but she also argues a
covert case for social history and underpins much of her judgment of writing on the
Reformation with positivist epistemology. These two weaknesses mean that this
book will have to be used with great caution, lest it leave students with the strong
impression that certain dimensions of the Reformation either never had any impor-
tance or no longer deserve study. If one subscribes to O' Day's notion of histoire
totale this may not pose a problem, but it distorts the nature of the Reformation and
leaves her reader without much understanding of the nature of history. Although
O'Day properly emphasizes how assumptions influence historians' writing, she
does little to trace how they work themselves out in practice through the medium
of rhetorical strategies. Like too much work on historiography, O'Day ignores the
approach of Hayden White and others, which promises to tell us a great deal about
what historians actually do. Likewise, while O'Day makes no claim to complete-
ness, she still leaves out important areas, beginning with sixteenth century Catholic

Part of the problem lies in the book's misleading title, which the publisher
doubtless assigned. In fact, O'Day focuses on the history of the Church of England
as an institution. The first five chapters trace historiography from 1525 to the work
of G. R. Elton, and largely concern themselves, as they must, with political and
constitutional history. Wherever possible, O'Day adverts to the question of a given
writer's conception of the church. This can be illuminating, particularly for six-
teenth-century historiography. As O'Day well demonstrates, the obverse of the
church was the state, which leads her to devote much attention to the role of politics
and its impact on historiography. This approach works especially well on early
nineteenth century English Catholic historiography. Her parallel insistence on
placing writers in their proper biographical context serves O'Day best in her
partially original work on John Strype, who emerges as the seventeenth century
equivalent of a twentieth-century editor, not a historian at all.

As this conclusion reveals, O'Day judges Strype and the rest by how closely they
approach modern ideals of "scientific" history. Almost all the historians included
therefore wind up no better off than the notoriously Protestant and nationalistic

Renaissance et R��forme / 331

James Anthony Froude, except those who have recently begun to study "the social
foundations of the Reformation." There are two peculiarities here. First, the close
O'Day comes to the present, the less she concerns herself with historians' contexts
and their politics, and two, political history fades from view.

Once O' Day's preconceptions have been dragged into the open, it is easier to
praise her contributions to the social history of the Reformation. She stresses the
variety of responses to evangelization, and suggests that any complete picture can
only come from detailed local studies. She singles out the role of "cadres,"
particularly of the clergy. Indeed, her final chapter largely argues a new interpreta-
tion of how the clergy became professionalized in the course of Elizabeth's reign.
She offers a carefully argued discussion of wills as historical evidence for religious
belief. She emphasizes the mechanics of the Reformation's spread, especially
patronage and education. Ultimately, O'Day argues that historians have only cleared
the ground for "the most important issue of all." "How are we to measure the
process" of Reformation?

This last statement will rock many historians back on their heels, as may O'Day 's
larger conclusion that the Reformation was a matter of institutions and the people
who staffed them. If this excludes the vital dimension of doctrine and belief,
O' Day's aggressive brief for social history together with her call for much greater
awareness of and sophistication about methodological issues may yet provoke a
more comprehensive and subtle approach to a hitherto almost intractable pheno-

THOMAS F. MAYER, Augustana College

Paul R. Sellin. So Doth, So is Religion. John Donne and Diplomatic contexts in
the Reformed Netherlands, 1619-1620. Columbia: University of Missouri Press,
1988. Pp. xi, 295.

Rehistorizing Renaissance English texts has recently become fashionable, although,
as Paul Sellin suggests, the insular emphasis on domestic politics and patronage has
often given a distorted view of matters of foreign policy and relations with the world
at large. This book attempts to right this imbalance by focusing on the social and
political circumstances surrounding Donne's participation in the Doncaster embas-
sy to the Netherlands in 1619 and 1620 at a crucial turning point in England's
relations with the Continent.

There is much to like about Sellin 's approach. He brings a wealth of Dutch
sources, many of them previously unknown to Donne scholars, to bear on this
important period of Donne's life. In doing so, he sets the situation in England more
fully into the context of Continental religious and political controversies. This
detailed account of the activities of Doncaster 's embassy in the United Provinces,

332 / Renaissance and Reformation

and its reception by James I in 1620 provides insight into the complex politics of
James's foreign policy on the eve of the Thirty Years War.

For Donne specialists, Sellin's book throws important light on Donne's Puritan
and Calvinist connections, continuing the work on Donne's theological politics
begun in an earlier work: John Donne and "Calvinists " Views of Grace (1983). His
challenge to the perceived view of Donne's via media, High-Church Anglicanism
is persuasively argued from the sermons preached in Heidelberg and The Hague.
The distinction between infra- and supralapsarian Calvinist positions (which distin-
guished orthodox Contra-Remonstrants as much from the double predestination of
the Gomarists as from the Arminians) is particularly germane to Sellin's assessment
of Donne's theology and politics, and although he does not go on to develop his
comments with reference to Donne's later sermons, I believe the case for Donne's
infralapsarian Calvinist orthodoxy is at least as plausible as counterclaims for
Donne's Arminianism assumed, but not proven, by historian such as Nicholas
Tyacke in Anti-Calvinists: The Rise of English Arminianism c. 1590-1640. (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1987, 182, 261).

Less convincing, because inadequately substantiated, is Sellin's argument (ad-
vanced as early as 1980) that Donne's disillusionment with James's "stubborn
indecision" regarding English involvement in the Palatine culminated in the writing
of Satyre III and may even have been the cause of James's unspecified displeasure
with Donne noted in Walton's Life. Sellin bases his argument for the 1620 date of
Satyre III on the similarity between the emblem on the medal commemorating the
Synod of Dort (which Donne received from the States General in 1620 for his part
in the embassy) and the Hill of Truth image in Satyre III.

Sellin is right to challenge earlier datings, many of them based only on critics'
unproven assumptions about Donne's religious state at any point in his career. My
disagreement with Sellin as to the dating of Satyre III centres on our different
interpretations of the place of satire in Donne's career and the nature of Donne's
"nonconformity" during this period. Sellin believes that Donne's Reformed or-
thodoxy was combined with a willingness to conform in outward things, such as
episcopalian church government. This, Sellin argues, made him an ideal spokesman
for Britain on the embassy. Sellin also argues that his Reformed sympathies and
support of the Bohemian cause forced Donne underground in his criticism of James.
Satyre III expresses the outrage which he could not openly avow in his sermons.

The question of Donne's outward conformity, however, is more complex that
Sellin allows here. To assume, for example, that Donne's sermon in 1622 defending
James's Instructions to Preachers was a show of mere "obeisance" (170) weakens
Sellin's argument about the nature of Donne's "nonconformity" and does not take
fully into account how Donne combined criticism with obedience in his sermons.
Donne's own insistence on his vocation as a preacher, not as a satirical prophet, and
his specific recognition in the sermons of the ineffectiveness of satire in promoting
moral change also suggests that Donne would not have meddled in the calling of

Renaissance et R��forme / 333

the satirist at the expense of his authorized calling as preacher. Sellin in fact draws
attention to the key passage in Donne's sermon preached at The Hague in which
Donne criticizes the "intrusion into other mens callings" as an "unjust usurpation"
(124). If Donne is a nonconformist, as Sellin suggests from Donne's network of
Calvinist connections, he is not quite the nonconformist that Sellin images here.

Sellin has not yet succeeded in toppling the collective view that all the satires
were written before 1599 and transmitted in manuscript as a collection. I am not
persuaded by his conclusions, but the challenge is appropriate and the refusal to
assume anything without hard historical evidence admirable.

Despite this disagreement, I find that Sellin is generally persuasive in the
conclusions he draws from his information. Some critics, however, may take
exception to the quantity of hypothetical and conjectural material amassed by Sellin
to present a detailed picture of what really happened on the embassy. Where
particular record of the time are not informative about the actual reception of
Doncaster's embassy on the continent, Sellin infers a great deal about what probably
happened. Much of the content describing Doncaster's reception in various Dutch
cities is of this nature.

More difficult to deal with is the argument, attractive to Donne scholars but
difficult to prove conclusively, that Donne played an important diplomatic role on
the embassy, second only to Doncaster and his secretary. Sir Francis Nethersole.
Sellin's arguments for donne's importance rely on several subordinate arguments:
Donne's Reformed orthodoxy, his skill with modern languages and possibly Dutch,
his reputation as a wit and satirist on the continent, and his proven verbal and
diplomatic skills. Sellin marshals the evidence persuasively, and is probably correct
about Donne's status, but it is still at least possible that much of the information in
the book is not as relevant to Donne and his activities as Sellin indicates.

Nonetheless, the arguments advanced in Sellin's book are provocative and many
of them are convincing. If readers cannot agree with all of Sellin 's conclusions, they
will have to interpret for themselves the new information he has offered here. So
Doth, So is Religion challenges all readers to continue the rehistoricizing process
that Sellin has begun for this period of Donne's career.

JEANNE SHAMI, University ofRegina

334 / Renaissance and Reformation

Christopher M. Armitage, 5i> Walter Raleigh, an Annotated Bibliography, Chapel
Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1987. Pp. xiv, 236, and John
R. Roberts, George Herbert, An Annotated Bibliography of Modern Criticism,
1905-1984, revised edition. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1988. Pp.
XX, 486.

Bibliographies of secondary sources have presumably several purposes, not the
least of which is enabling readers to trace the development of reputation and
consequent critical approaches to their subjects. In these two bibliographies — of the
bold bad Raleigh and the saintly Herbert — very different, almost antithetical,
strategies have been used to interesting effect, justified by the authors, and presented
for the use of scholars in different fields of study.

Roberts's bibliography of Herbert studies seems the more satisfying to me, with
its modest claims and impressive achievement seeming to reflect the image of
Herbert himself. Essentially all Roberts gives us is a list by years of all studies of
any kind between 1905 and 1984, the time within which Herbert ceased to be a poet
for antiquaries and became the great poet we now recognize. There are an imposing
1453 items in the total list, which excludes — justifiably. I think — unpublished
doctoral theses and some works not written in English and ranges from a slight three
items in 1905 to a full forty in 1984. The annotations are both excellent and blessedly
full, giving the reader a summary of the main points and approaches in each item
and, I suppose, unspoken hints about what to seek out to read and what to ignore.
They also trace the relationships between articles, allowing the reader to see who
has responded to whom about what, and to follow the main critical arguments about
Herbert through our century. Reviews are not abstracted, except where they are
particularly significant, but they are all listed under the book titles. The alphabetical
sequence within years is doubtless the most sensible arrangement in a book of this
kind, though it is a bit startling to find that item 1 in the bibliography is a review of
item 2. And in fact everything is easily found in the three indexes, of authors,
subjects, and works of Herbert discussed. Roberts does guide his readers to every-
thing that has been done in Herbert scholarship in this century and, as I suggested,
in Herbert's own manner, modestly offering a masterly accomplishment.

Armitage seems to take his tone from his subject as well, producing a bibliog-
raphy of writings by and about Raleigh between 1576 and 1986 that is at times as
swashbuckling and confusing as his subject's The Ocean to Cynthia', a poem I had
trouble tracking down to its first publication at item 108, not indexed. There are
1967 items in all. Unlike Roberts, Armitage includes doctoral theses, but gives us
an appalling list of things 'intentionally omitted': Raleigh's manuscripts, for which
we are referred to Beal's Index of English Literary Manuscripts, which apparently
documents 842 of them; bibliographical descriptions of books before 1700; selec-
tions in textbooks, which is odd since children's books about Raleigh are included;

Renaissance et R��forme / 335

reviews of books about Raleigh that have not been reprinted in essay collections
are left out, as are publications in 'relatively unaccessible places'. So Armitage tells
us that William Carlos Williams's prose poem on the hero 'first appeared in the
short-lived periodical Brooniy then was reprinted in his book In the American
Grain\ and calmly adds that only the second publication has been considered worth
listing. Well, why? How many other publications have been treated the same way?
Surely one reads a bibliography to get as complete an account as possible of what
was written by and about an author, to get the information by which to make
informed critical judgements.

Roundly ignored are the two short-title catalogues that most scholars of Renais-
sance English automatically reach for when thinking about early publications.
Neither Pollard and Redgrave, corrected by Ferguson and Jackson and finished so
well by Katharine Pantzer, nor the less certain Wing STC to 1700 gets so much as
a notice. So we have no idea where Armitage is getting his information from,
whether he is even aware of the vast amount of knowledge presented by the STC
bibliographers, what kinds of books Raleigh's were in format or reliability, or what
reading publics they were printed for, how many copies have survived and where
they are, what textual states they represent through cancellation or form correction,
or where they can be found in the University Microfilm series.

Examples of this approach abound throughout the whole book, as for example in
entry 38, the first edition of The History of the World. There is no STC number, no
reference to available copies, no information about the state of the text; the book is
said to have been licensed by the Stationer's Company on 15 April, without any
reference to Arber, much less the original Hall Book; the book is said to have been
suppressed by King James, without any explanation, through an order signed by the
Archbishop of Canterbury on 22 December 1614, with no referent to the source of
the information; and the book is said to have an allegorical frontispiece, which is
neither pictured nor explained. The reader could well ask what bibliographical
information he has had for his trouble and expense, where all this comes from, why
the book was three years between entry and publication, how it finally did get
published, and more, on all of which Armitage is silent.

The finding of stuff in the bibliography is not at all facilitated by the curious
arrangement of entries into seven sections: works by or attributed to Raleigh;
biography; Raleigh in Europe, England, and Ireland; Raleigh in America; literary
history and criticism; literature, music, the visual arts and children's books; and
finally bibliography, still wanting the vital STC's. The first section is in title
sequence of a sort; the rest are alphabetical by author. All this is held together by
a solitary index of 'authors and selected topics'. It just won't do. Having to read
through a whole section that includes a whole heap of anthologies to find out
anything about 'The Ocean of Cynthia' — and precious little about it at that — is not
compensated for by learning that Shakespeare's Love's Labours Lost is a play in
which Raleigh and his circle of friends 'may be satirised' (1904) or that two nice

336 / Renaissance and Reformation

ladies included him in Those Who Dared: Stories of Early Days in Our Country
(1951) or that Matthew Arnold made a disparaging comparison between Raleigh
and Thucydides (1847).

Much that the reader of a bibliography wants to know is simply left out this book;
a great deal that seems quite unnecessary is included; the indexing is little help;
anyone wishing to use it will be driven to STC, Wing, and Beal, while the omissions
compel the reader to doubt the information that is given.

As Armitage gives us less that we expect, Roberts gives us more, presenting a
kind of object lesson to bibliographers.

E.J. DE VEREUX, University of Western Ontario

Sara Heller Mendelson. The Mental World of Stuart Women. Three Studies.
Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1987. Pp. 235.

In spite of the growth of feminist scholarship in the last decade, seventeenth century
literature remains an almost exclusively male preserve. The few women writers who
are beginning to be included in the standard anthologies remain exceptional figures,
noted for personal peculiarities uncharacteristic of their sex. It is precisely because
literary women are so unique in this era that any publication which attempts to
penetrate the dark obscurity of their creative sources and identify a commonality in
their experiences is a welcome resource.

In the introduction to her book, Sara Mendelson attempts to sort out some of the
peculiarities of women's roles and status during the seventeenth century. She finds
that women are a subdued groups, mostly illiterate, while those who could write
and dared to challenge the masculine dominion over writing most often chose
religious subjects. For the most part, women were divided on class lines rather than
those of gender, although "gender entailed certain common experiences which
transcended class differences" (6). Not surprisingly, female culture was ultimately
defined, then as now, in terms of its otherness. It represented the "non-literate
obverse of literate male culture, almost as if women sought to compensate for their
lack of literate skills through other modes of expression" (7). Some of these modes
common to women of all ranks and classes were the knowledge of housewifery,
child-bearing and rearing, as well as needlework and textile crafts (8). Women were
also allowed to dabble as amateurs in medicine, music and piety. Thus, although
there was a certain shared culture based on gender, there was no identifiable source
within that female world to account for the literary aspirations of seventeenth-cen-
tury women.

Mendelson does not provide a sufficient transition from the discussion of female
culture in her introduction to the detailed biographies in the rest of the volume.
Indeed, she admits to what can be regarded as a major flaw in the work, namely.

Renaissance et R��forme / 337

that the three case studies she offers do not "provide us with an exhaustive or even
a representative picture of Stuart women" (11). Nor does Mendelson adequately
explain why she has selected Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle; Mary
Rich, Countess of Warwick; and Aphra Behn, other than that they "offer the
opportunity to explore some prototypical feminine themes of the seventeenth
century: female life stages, patriarchalism in theory and practice, the control of
female sexuality, the limitations inherent in women's conventional role and the
reactions provoked by those who sought to challenge them" (11).

In the three chapters which form the core of her book, Mendelson painstakingly
recreates as much as possible the social context and personal background of these
women based upon already extant histories and diary materials. Mendelson 's
academic approach throughout has the effect of making the lives of these three
strikingly different women seem to be rather tediously similar. Unfortunately, while
the factual details are all there, the intriguing speculations about these women's real
mental lives are missing. Thus, the sense of the woman herself and her mental
world, the ostensible subject of this study, remains elusive.

In her first study, that of Margaret Cavendish, Mendelson does attempt to tie
together the numerous critiques of marriage that can be found in Cavendish's
writings. Mendelson has also included a lively discussion of "Writing as a Voca-
tion" for the Stuart woman and details the various social pressures that prevented
women from appearing in print. Margaret Cavendish challenged those who
demanded either women's silence or their self-restriction to certain acceptable
topics. Yet, as Mendelson points out. Cavendish restricted herself to natural
philosophy or science as the subject of most of her writings, since that field "did
not require special qualifications" (36) and was inclusive, running "the gamut from
atomic theory to unbridled fantasies about the fairies and other worlds" (37).
Margaret's immersion in science is detailed sufficiently to reveal the way in which
a woman writer is "drawn slowly into the orbit of learned men" (43) with the
resultant mixture of hostility at the educational opportunities that have been denied
her and resentment of the treatment her own discoveries received.

The discussion of Mary Rich, Countess of Warwick, is less rewarding than that
of Margaret Cavendish. Mary Boyle was most interesting before her marriage when
she challenged the patriarchy by refusing all the suitors her parents put forward.
All rebellion ceased when she did marry, and she became more immersed in piety
each year. Mary's writings detail the religious exercises she practiced daily in
response to her unhappy marriage and the death of her young son. Mary's story is
as atypical as that of Margaret Cavendish, and we learn little here about the mental
life beneath the structures of her religious devotions.

The chapter on Aphra Behn suffers from the same central problems as the
discussions of the other two women. Mendelson is on softer ground here, since as
she notes, there are so few facts about Aphra Behn for the historian to seize upon.
For this reason, Behn's active feminism and challenge to conventional expectations

338 / Renaissance and Reformation

about sex roles is better dealt with by a literary biographer approaching Behn's
mental world through her voluminous writings. The bare facts about Behn's life -
her employment as a spy, her career as a playwright and poet, the accusations of
plagiarism against her - have all been documented elsewhere, and little that is new
is added here. The discussion of Aphra Behn, however, like those of Margaret
Cavendish and Mary Rich, serves as a useful thumbnail biography.

In summary, then. The Mental World of Stuart Women provides us with something
rather different than its title suggests. Instead of offering profound insights into the
development of the female self in a patriarchal society, we are given glimpses of
the ways in which three very different women accommodated themselves to various
kinds of social strictures. Their mental worlds (and they remain three different
mental worlds) are explored through three different kinds of literary material as well
- the expository "scientific" prose of Margaret Cavendish, the pietistic diary of
Mary Rich, and the poems and plays of Aphra Behn. In the end, these case studies
remain atypical and do not provide a view of a shared mental attitude among
seventeenth century women. These studies are, however, useful as brief biographies
of women who challenged masculine domination in various ways.

LORELEI CEDERSTROM, Brandon University


JâN 61993