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Article published in Renaissance Studies, Volume 22 Issue 2, Pages 240 - 250.
[content the same, text slightly altered: minor corrections and some expansions]

Did Clément Marot really offer his Trente Pseaulmes to the Emperor Charles V in January 1540 ?



In both popular and scholarly literature, the offering of an early manuscript of the Trente Pseaulmes by Clément Marot to the Emperor Charles V, passing through France in the winter of 1539-1540, is presented as a matter of fact, often combined with an identification of this manuscript with Ms. Cod. Vind. 2644 (Vienna, Staatsbibliothek).[1] The fact that this story is only known from one source, the so called Villemadon Letter, dated 1559, is hardly ever taken into account when referring to this event. This article raises questions concerning the historical trustworthiness of the information contained in this Letter by sketching the historical background of it (the French Wars of Religion), and the way the reference to the “Psalm offering” functions in the propagandist discourse of the Letter. Finally the common identification of the presentation copy with the Ms.Cod. Vind. 2644 is discussed.


Clément Marot, metrical Psalms, French Court, Villemadon Letter, Catherine de Medici, Huguenots


The story of Marot offering his Trente Pseaulmes to the Emperor.

Although the verse translations of the biblical Psalms by the French court poet Clément Marot are well known, not the least because they form the nucleus of the later Genevan Psalter, much about the genesis of Marot’s translation project remains unknown.[2] Material, mostly bibliographical, evidence indicates that probably around 1530 Marot translated the first penitential Psalm (Ps. 6) into French, which appeared as a separate print and was added at the end of the second of the Augereau editionsof Le miroir de treschrestienne Princesse Marguerite de France in 1533.[3] This Psalm translation was also included in the sequel to Marot’s collected works (La suite de l’Adolescence Clementine, 1534 onwards). Apart from this no official publication of any other Psalm translation by Marot is known until the winter of 1541-1542, when Etienne Roffet published Marot’s Trente Pseaulmes in Paris, accompanied by a dedicatory Epistle to the French King.[4]

In the meantime though translations of Palms by Marot circulated in, and even outside France. Manuscript copies, more or less hidden references in his own poems, and unauthorised (partial) editions of the Trente Pseaulmes (since 1539) strongly suggest an ongoing effort on Marot’s part to add new Psalm translations to his first attempts.[5] They also testify to an increasing popularity of Marot’s Psalm translations, even though the atmosphere for translations of the Bible into the vernacular had worsened considerably in the second half of the 1530s. In 1541 this unofficial tradition culminated in a surreptitious edition of Marot’s 30 Psalms in a collection of Psalmes de David in Antwerp in 1541.[6] Noteworthy is that the text of Marot’s Psalm translations in all these editions and related manuscripts differs considerably from the official edition by Roffet (winter 1541-1542)..

Apart from this material evidence, hardly anything else is known for certain about Marot’s translation activity. Nevertheless, almost all scholars mention as a matter of fact that the Trente Pseaulmes were presented to his King, Francis I, as early as 1539, and that the King was so pleased with them that he subsequently suggested that Marot should present a copy of the Trente Pseaulmes to the emperor, Charles V. The Emperor visited Paris in January 1540 on his way to Flanders to suppress a revolt in Ghent.[7] It is also reported that Charles V received the Psalms gratefully, rewarded Marot with 200 gold pieces, and encouraged him to continue the good work. Consequently these verse translations became popular at court, with court musicians composing music for them and courtiers trying to sing them to popular or home-made tunes. As far as I can see, all authorities, historical, literary and musical believe that this event did indeed take place. If a reference is given, it is always to the so called Villemadon Letter and to this letter alone.[8] In this letter all the elements mentioned above are indeed present.


The Villemadon Letter [L. Cimber & F. Danjou's reproduction (1843) I added as PDF]

One would expect the historical reliability of this apparently unique source to have long since been established beyond doubt, but this is not the case. Nonetheless, V.L. Saulnier’s description of this letter (dated 1559) as a fierce pamphlet against Cardinal Charles de Lorraine comparable to Le Tigre of François Hotman, might have roused some suspicions.[9] Saulnier also wonders why its historicity is so uncritically accepted: “Tout le peu de gens qui le citent délaisse, à ma connaissance, le contexte, et a l’air de l’accepter comme d’office.”[10] Though Saulnier questions the trustworthiness of many passages in this letter, he accepts the reliability of the passage about the Psalms, because – according to him – it belongs to a non-propagandist part of the letter and is thus “gratuitous”. He recommends that its historicity be accepted until the opposite is proven.[11] I do not agree with Saulnier on this point and hope to make clear that the opposite is indeed more probable; that is, the passage about the Psalms is not gratuitous, but a substantial element of the propagandist discourse. An analysis of the letter in its historical background seems the proper way to proceed in order to be able to reassess the historical reliability of the narrative elements concerning Marot’s Psalms.


Provenance of the Villemadon Letter.

The Villemadon Letter is dated 26 August 1559 and adressed to Cathérine de Medici. The first known version was published in 1565 in an anonymous Recueil des choses memorables...,[12] a collection of pamphlets, manifestos and letters, which at the same time document and serve the Huguenot war of the House of Condé against the House of Guise (c. 1562-1568). The Letter might well have been such a pamphlet, and thus it might antedate its first appearance by a few years. Unfortunately no one has ever been able to confirm Ph.A. Becker’s promising remark, that he located an original copy in Paris.[13] The printer is identified as Eloï Gibier, and the place of print was Orléans.[14] The conception and publication of this letter is closely related to the first War of Religion, which broke out around the death of Henry II (10 July 1559). The introduction of the letter also explicitly links it to this period, not only because of the date, but also in plain words. The writer himself characterises the letter as a prophetic appeal to Catherine de Medici to break with the house of Guise, since in his opinion they are responsible for the death of Henry II. The memory of the past serves to reinforce this appeal. This does not necessarily exclude historical reliability, but caution seems advisable.

The edition in the Recueil is signed “D.V.” The identification of D.V. as a high court officer, named “Villemadon”, or “de Villemadon” goes back to Louis Régnier de la Planche, who refers to the letter in his Histoire de l’estat de France.[15] This reference does not break the circle of Huguenot propaganda, since Régnier de la Planche also an ardent Huguenot and prolific pamphleteer. Furthermore, the identification itself is not much of a help, since according to Saulnier’s research, no Villemadon or de Villemadon is known, either in the entourage of Marguerite or in general. It is probably a pseudonym.[16]


Contents of the Villemadon Letter [17]

The writer introduces himself as a former court official in the household of Marguerite de Navarre. He often worked as an ambassador from her court to the court of the King. He displays intimate knowledge of personal and state affairs. He has long since retired but, after the horrible death of the king (Henry II died 10 July 1559), he feels that it is his duty to warn Catherine, for he has found out the “source et cause de l’infortune adveneu au feu Roy... la vérité me l’a monstrée, comme je la vous feray toucher au doigt et à l’oeil, discourant la tristesse de vos jeunes ans, et le secours et faveur que Dieu vous donna...[18] The “tristesse” of Catherine to which he refers is the discovery that, while her womb was barren (late 1530s), her husband Henry begot a bastard child,[19] which inspired Diane de Poitiers (“la vieille meretrice”[20]) to organise a meeting of courtiers to persuade the king to repudiate Catherine.[21] When Catherine found out, she could find comfort only in tears and piety. She looked to God for help. The author addresses Catherine directly: “en ce temps-là vous le recognoissiez, honorant sa saincte Bible, qui estoit en vos coffres ou sur vostre table...”.[22] Time went by. The King fell seriously ill and the enemies increased in power.[23] It was then – still following the letter – that God decided to intervene and save France by giving Catherine a child, the means to achieve this, being the appreciation at court of the Trente Pseaulmes of Marot, or as the author puts it:

[l’Eternel…] à l’instant va préparer et ouvrir le moyen par lequel il vouloit que toute la bénédiction du Roy et de vous prinst naissance, et sortist en perfection et évidence. Car ce père plein de miséricorde, meit au coeur du feu Roy Françoys d’avoir fort aggréables les trente psalmes de David, avec l’Oraison dominicale, la Salutation angélique et le Symbole des Apostres,[24] que feu Clément Marot avoit translatez et traduicts, et dediez à sa grandeur et majesté;[25] laquelle commanda audict Marot présenter le tout à l’empereur Charles-Quint, qui receut bénignement ladicte translation, la prisa, et par parolles, et par présent de deux cens doublons qu’il donna audict Marot, luy donnant aussi courage d’achever de traduire le reste desdicts psalmes, et le priant de luy envoyer le plus tost qu’il pourroit Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus, d’autant qu’il l’aimoit.[26] Quoy voyans et entendans les musiciens de ces deux princes, voire tous ceux de nostre France, meirent à qui mieux mieux les dictes psalmes en musique, et chacun les chantoit.[27]


After Marot had offered his Trente Pseaulmes to the Emperor Charles V on the explicit command of the French King, his Psalm translations became an instant success at court, everybody asking for a particular Psalm to call his/her own. Young Henry was especially fond of Psalm 128, which blesses the man whose wife will bear him lots of children (sic), and Catherine’s favorite was Psalm 142, a touching complaint to the Eternal God.[28]

The author then relates that he once paid a visit to the court and found Henry singing the Psalms with his “chantres,” accompanied by all kinds of instruments.[29] When he relates this idyllic scene to Marguerite, she not only praises the piety and good faith of Henry and Catherine, but breaks out in prophecy and predicts that for that reason God will turn their grief into joy:

car, puisqu’il a pleu à Dieu mettre ce don en leurs coeurs, voyci le temps, voyci les jours sont prochains que les yeux du Roy seront contens, les désirs de Monsieur le daulphin saoulez et rassasiez, les pensées des ennemis de Madame la daulphine renversées; mon espérance aussi et la foy de mes prières prendront fin. Il ne passera guères plus d’un an que la visitation miséricordieuse du Seigneur n’apparoisse, et gageray qu’elle aura un fils pour plus grande joye et satisfaction.”[30]


The author concludes that Marguerite has been “une saincte sybile et véritable vati[ci]natrice, d’autant que de treize à quatorze mois en là, vous enfantastes nostre roy François, qui vit aujourd’huy.”[31] Marguerite’s prophecy marks the transition to the last part of the letter in which Charles de Lorraine is attacked vehemently.[32] Influenced by him, the king abandoned the way of the righteous, the Psalms lost their popularity, and therefore France has gone straight to its ruin. That is why Henry had to end his days in agony.[33] Thus the “source et cause de l’infortune adveneu au feu Roy”, mentioned in the introduction to the letter, is unveiled. Once this mystery is revealed, Catherine is urged to convert before it is too late, to do penance for her (and her late husband’s) sins and begin again to serve God, as she did in her youth by praying the Psalms of David, “reprenant en usage ces beaux psalmes Davidiques, dont jadis vous réfrigeriez vostre esprit angoissé et pour lesquels il vous béneict en génération.”[34] She should chase away the treacherous clan of the Guises: “Madame, voyez, allez; ne répugnez, ne permettez et souffrez que ce serpent, diable rouge et ses adhérans, mettent la main au-devant [...]. Séparez et esloignez de vous de tels monstres estranges.”[35] In the end the author claims his words to be pure prophecy as well: “Finablement, madame, pensez que mon dire c’est le dire du prophète; que si vous ne le faites, vous verrez advenir en ce royaume tant de malheurs sur malheurs...”.[36]


Summary and provisional conclusion

According to the author of the Villemadon Letter, Marot’s Psalms were God’s gift to save King Francis and France. As long as they were cherished, France flourished. Precisely to “prove” this, the introduction of the Psalms in France is surrounded with all kinds of wondrous and wonderful stories, from a blessing of Marot’s Psalms by the Emperor himself (including an exhortation to continue the job of translating the Psalter[37]) to a prophecy of childbirth by Marguerite of Navarre. The fact that the turning point in the history of France is symbolised once more by reference to the Psalms is also telling. Did things change dramatically when Charles de Lorraine got to grips with Henry II and replaced the godly Psalms of Marot with the lascivous Horatian Odes? Well, they will change again if the use of the Psalms is restored.[38] This was a poignant discours in a period where Charles de Lorraine was very powerful and the entire – by then Huguenot – Psalter had just been published.[39]

Based on this résumé, it seems clear that the narrative about the Psalms cannot be considered as a gratuitous detail in an otherwise highly tendentious letter, as Saulnier suggested. On the contrary, it is a key element of the line of reasoning in the letter, and therefore Saulnier’s advice to accept the narrative with a certain naïve faith has become untenable.

The presentation of the Trente Pseaulmes to the emperor is depicted as a public happening, immediately picked up by the courtiers and court musicians. However, no reference to this event can be found in contemporary sources, and this does not encourage us to credit this narrative. Furthermore, the journey through France of the emperor and his army (November 1539-January 1540) was one of the best covered events of the era, both by participants and spectators.[40] Finally, the fact that neither of the two Psalms cited in the Letter were included in the Trente Pseaulmes does not add credibility to the historical claim of the narrative. If not substantiated by external evidence, it seems advisable not to accept the anecdotes about the Psalms in it as established historical facts.


The manuscript of the Trente Pseaulmes: Codex Vindobensis 2644.

If the manuscript offered by Marot to the emperor was found, the story of D.V. would of course be confirmed. The only condition is that a candidate must be linked, preferably undeniably, to this event. At first sight, a manuscript of the Trente Pseaulmes, now in the Vienna Staatsbibliothek, appears promising, because it is not only richly ornamented (fitting for a gift to an emperor), but also contains a full colour reproduction (I only could obtain a b/w copy) of the coat of arms of the house of Habsburg.[41]

The first to link this manuscript to the story in the Villemadon Letter seems to have been Ph. A. Becker in 1921.[42] This identification is, however, not unproblematic. Although the manuscript indeed contains the coat of arms of the House of Habsburg, the catalogue of Otto Pächt attributes it to Ferdinand I, Charles’ brother.[43] Because of the presence of a one-headed eagle, the branch it represents is not the branch of a Roman Emperor, but of a Roman King. Charles V never was a Roman king. Ergo this manuscript was not dedicated to him, but probably to Ferdinand I, who had been a Roman King since 1531. The main fields are those of Hungary and Bohemia, but on the smaller inner shields (there are two!) things get fuzzy. [44]

But the reader may judge for him/herself since no exact attribution has been made yet:




Charles V Ms. 2644 Ferdinand I

A second objection to this identification concerns the text itself. The manuscript contains the Trente Pseaulmes of Clément Marot in a version which is very close to the first official edition of Roffet (winter 1541-1542). This means that the natural temporal habitat of this manuscript is somewhere in the vicinity of the Roffet edition, which is significantly later than the events to which it is linked in the Villemadon Letter.[45] We conclude that the mere existence of Ms. Cod. Vind. 2644 should not influence the assessment of the historical reliability of the narrative present in the Villemadon Letter.


Summary of questions

If the story of the presentation of the Trente Pseaulmes to the Emperor in January 1540 were true, the next complex of questions would remain without a satisfactory answer. Why do we find no contemporary reference to the events as related by D.V.? Why did Marot keep the Trente Pseaulmes, publicly blessed by King and Emperor, en portefeuille for two years? Why did Roffet publish Marot’s welcome ode to the Emperor (“Cantique sur l’entrée de l’Empereur à Paris”) in 1540, and not the Trente Pseaulmes at the same time?[46] The answer that publishing Psalm translations in the vernacular was a hazardous project is always to the point in these dangerous years, with the exception of this one moment in January 1540..., if the story of Villemadon were true. Any objection from the Faculty of Theology would have been simply overruled by the fiat of the King of France and the nihil obstat from the “Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire”. It was a golden opportunity, a momentum... if the story of the Villemadon were true.


Final conclusion

If one puts the events told by D.V. in parenthesis (and all elements gathered here suggest that that might be a wise move), everything seems to indicate that Marot never presented his Trente Pseaulmes to the Emperor Charles V in January 1540. All the evidence, be it material, textual or circumstantial, points to a different chronology, in which the date of the first official publication (winter 1541-1542) is the anchor point.

In this chronology Marot dedicated the fruit of many years of work, Trente Pseaulmes in French verse, to King Francis somewhere in 1541. He sent it to the king, accompanied by a dedicatory letter. Having procured a Royal Privilege on 31 November 1541, Roffet published them and they enjoyed a considerable success. The huge advantage of this simple chronology is that no complicated theories have to be constructed to explain the fact that all other Psalm editions and manuscripts known to us before this first official edition, including the Antwerp Psalter of Des Gois, contain part of the Trente Pseaulmes in quite a different version.[47] This fact can be accounted for by simply stating that no other versions were in existence at that time.


The Villemadon Letter should thus be regarded and treated as what it is: a political pamphlet, which organises historical facts, memories and legends, in a tendentious discourse, to create an effect on the reader. This does not imply that there are no true historical reminiscences in it that are corroborated by other sources (the initial popularity at court, the professional musicians’ interest in it), but they all will appear to be more naturally “at home” at a later date, that is after the first official publication in the winter 1541-1542.[48]


Dick Wursten (Antwerp)



[1] This usual view was recently repeated in this journal by P.M. Smith, D. Bentley-Cranch, ‘A new iconographical addition to Francis I’s adoption of the persona of King David and its contemporary literary context’, Renaissance Studies, Vol. 21 No. 5 (June 2007), p. 618. It is this otherwise very instructive article which triggered this “Note”.

[2] For an overview of Marot’s Psalm translation activity, see the introduction of G. Defaux in his critical edition: Clément Marot, Cinquante pseaumes de david, Paris, 1995, p. 18-36: “Marot et la traduction des psaumes: rappel historique” and Catherine Reuben, La traduction des psaumes de David par Clément Marot. Aspects poétiques et theologiques, Paris, 2001.

[3] For Psalm 6, see Jean-François Gilmont, William Kemp, ‘La plus ancienne edition d’un psaume traduit par Clément Marot’, in Jean-François Gilmont (ed.), Le livre évangélique en français avant Calvin: études originales, publications d’inédits, catalogues d’éditions anciennes, Anderlecht, 2003, p. 100-104. For Marguerite’s Miroir, see William Kemp, ‘Marguerite of Navarre, Clément Marot, and the Augereau Editions of the Miroir’, Journal of the Early Book Society for the study of Manuscripts and Printing History, vol. 2, 1999, p. 113-156.

[4] Trente Pseaulmes de David, mis en françoys par Clement Marot, valet de chambre du Roy (Roffet, Paris, 1541/1542). The royal privilege is dated 31 November 1541.

[5] For a description and analysis of the main manuscripts containing Psalm translations of Marot, see S.J. Lenselink, Les Psaumes de Clément Marot. Edition critique du plus ancien texte (Ms. Paris B.N. Fr. 2337) avec toutes les variantes..., Assen, 1969, p. 8-23. The oldest manuscript containing another Psalm translation of Marot is the “Manuscript Gueffier”, of which the body dates back to 1535. The oldest known edition is Aulcuns pseaulmes & cantiques mys en chant, Strasbourg, 1539, containing thirteen Psalms by Marot. The editor of this anonymous edition is usually identified as John Calvin. The Genevan printer Jean Girard claimed to have printed “Saulmes de Clement Marot” before May 1539. This edition has never been found (See Pierre Pidoux, Le Psautier huguenot, t. II, Basle, 1962, p. 3).

[6] Psalmes de David, Translatez de plusieurs autheurs, & principallement de Cle. Marot, veu, recogneu et corrigé par les theologiens, nommeement par M.F.Pierre Alexandre, concionateur ordinaire de la Royne de Hongrie (Antwerp, Antoine Des Gois, 1541). An augmented twin edition also exists. See: E. M. Braekman, ‘Le psautier Alexandre, Anvers 1541’, in Pierre Guillot, Louis Jambou (eds.), Histoire, Humanisme et Hymnologie, mélanges offerts au Professeur Edith Weber, Paris, 1997, p. 309-318.

[7] The way P.M. Smith and D. Bentley-Cranch, in the article quoted above in note 1 (‘A new iconographical addition...’, p. 618), describe the event and account for this description is instructive: “That translating the Psalms was a high-profile (albeit potentially hazardous activity) can be seen from the fact that Marot, at the instance of Francis I, had presented a manuscript of his Psalm translations to his most Catholic Majesty the Emperor Charles V when the latter was received with great style and no less magnanimity by the French King, having been accorded passage through France on his way to his territories in the Low Countries in the winter of 1539–1540.” This reference is accounted for by a reference to two authorities on the field of sixteenth-century literature and history: C.A. Mayer, Clément Marot, Paris, 1972, p. 463, 467 and R. J. Knecht, ‘ “Haulse (Paris), haulse bien haut ta porte”: The Entry of the Emperor Charles V into Paris, 1540’, in Pauline Smith, Trevor Peach (eds.), Renaissance Reflections. Essays in memory of C.A. Mayer, p. 85–105. Both authorities also refer to these anecdotic elements as a “matter of fact”. The same footnote is concluded with another affirmation: “The manuscript in question is now in Vienna, Staatsbibliothek, Cod. Vindob. 2644.”

[8] Apart from the two authorities already mentioned in the previous note, some quotations from authors who are generally used as a reference by others: G. Defaux (editor of Marot), Cinquante pseaumes, Paris, 1995, p. 28-29, 60, 79 (“très important”, “véridique”); Pierre Pidoux (musicologist), le Psautier Huguenot, t. II, Basle, 1962 , p. VIII-IX, who states that the facts “...peuvent être vérifiés par ailleurs” (but only quotes dependent and/or posterior sources) and that this “récit a tous les accents d’une narration véridique.” Nicholas Temperley, Grove’s dictionary to Music (under “Psalms, metrical”): “Marot’s psalms were very popular at court. Chroniclers reported that monarch, courtiers and courtesans sang them to popular tunes. In 1540 Marot gave a manuscript of the Trente pseaulmes to Emperor Charles V, who urged the poet to continue his work.” Reservations towards this story I found in : Christelle Cazaux, La musique à la cour de François Ier, Paris, 2002, p. 156: “Rien ne permet, malheureusement, de vérifier la véracité de ce témoignage.”

[9] V.L. Saulnier, ‘Marguerite de Navarre, Cathérine de Médicis et les psaumes de Marot : autour de la lettre dite de Villemadon’, BHR, XXXVII (1975), p. 349-375. The quotation on p. 351: “En fait, notre lettre, dans son plus grand développement et dans sa résolution, n’est rien de moins qu’un fameux pamphlet contre le cardinal. Avant d’être présenté bientôt sous le totem d’une autre bête qui tue, le tigre, dans le célèbre pamphlet attribue à François Hotman, il est ici déjà dressé comme une cible sous l’image du serpent: le mot, on l’a vu, est repété. Et notre lettre est, si l’on peut dire, un premier Tigre. Plus même qu’une simple esquisse. L’inspiration est la même. L’appel est identique : et l’anathème contre la bête, et la revendication pour les princes du sang.” This article appears to be the most recent study devoted to this letter.

[10] Saulnier, a.c., p. 351. The historical setting is sketched from p. 350-353.

[11] Since it is this challenge that is taken up in this article, a larger quotation is called for. After having spoken about the advisibility of suspicion when hot topics (in the 1560s), such as the role of Charles de Lorraine, are at stake, he continues: “On peut en revanche rester plus serein en ce qui touche les épisodes de vif intérêt documentaire qui concernent les relations de Catherine avec Marguerite de Navarre et la diffusion des Psaumes... Ils n’ont pas de quoi être suspects du coup. Un éditeur servant avant tout la polémique huguenote les eût plus volontiers allégés à tout le moins de très longs détails vraiment éloignés du procès du cardinal... Dans ces épisodes documentaires, je ne dis pas que le texte «D.V.» doive être cru, révérence parler, comme parole d’Evangile. Mais, dans leurs précisions pour ainsi dire gratuites, il serait difficile de croire, jusqu’à nouvel ordre, que de tels épisodes relèvent de l’invention... Testis unus... Sur quoi, réservée par principe, il faut jouer la carte d’une certaine confiance, quand ce ne serait que pour voir si elle résiste.” Saulnier, a.c., p. 352.

[12] Le recueil des choses memorables faites et passees pour le faict de la Religion & estat de ce Royaume, depuis la mort du Roy Henry II, jusque au commencement des troubles, tome I, 1565, s.n.s.l. It was often reprinted and became part of the Mémoires de Condé (1743). It is incorporated in L. Cimber and F. Danjou, Archives curieuses de l’histoire de France, depuis Louis XI jusqu’à Louis XVIII... t. III, Paris, 1834, p. 351-362. They claim to have edited it based on the first publication: “Coppie de Lettres envoyées à la royne-mère par un sien serviteur, après la mort du feu roy Henry II”. The relevant passages are also quoted in extenso in Douen, Clément Marot et le Psautier Huguenot, t. I, p. 284-287; Pidoux, Le Psautier Huguenot, t. II, p. VIII-IX. An overview of the letter as a whole, including extended quotations, can be found in the article of Saulnier (see above, note NOTEREF _Ref183520205 \h 9).

[13] “Ein Exemplar der Flugschrift, die man früher nur durch die sogen. Mémoires de Condé kannte, befindet sich jetzt in der Bibliothek der Société de l’Histoire du Protestantisme français.” (Ph.A. Becker, Clement Marots Psalmenübersetzung, Leipzig, 1921, p. 16 , footnote).

[14] For more information about the Protestant propaganda press, see Louis Desgraves, Eloï Gibier, Imprimeur d’Orléans (I536-1588), THR, LXXVIII, Genève, 1966. Gibier was the Prince of Condé’s official printer.

[15] Saulnier, a.c. p. 354-355. Régnier writes about “un gentilhomme que se souscrivoit Villemadon.” Why someone, named Villemadon, subscribes D.V. seems odd, but is accepted by Saulnier as possible. Régnier refers to this letter both in Histoire de l’estat de France, tant de la Republique que de la Religion: Sous le Regne de François II (n.p.s.n, 1576), and in La legende de Charles, Cardinal de Lorraine, & de ses freres, de la maison de Guise (Reims, 1576), published pseudonymously. In both, but especially in the last, Régnier, who was well known at court and himself a confidant of Catherine de Medici, provides extra details and describes the – temporary – positive effect of the Letter on Catherine, while paraphrasing the letter.

[16] Saulnier, a.c., p. 354. My personal opionion: The close resemblance of the name Villemadon to the catholic pamphleteer Villegagnon (in 1561 - same time, same battle - a prominent person in the public debate). who also corresponded with Cathérine de Medici and was befriended with f.i. Du Bellay.

[17] In order to be able to assess the historical reliability of the Villemadon Letter the most relevant passages will be quoted in extenso (with translation in the footnotes), while the context is summarised (including some typical idiomatic quotations from the original). Some minor clarification is placed in the footnotes.

[18] Cimber and Danjou (ed.), Archives curieuses III, p. 351. King Henry II died in great agony, after being unfortunately wounded during a tournament. In the sixteenth century, such an extraordinary death called for a supernatural explanation.

[19] Diane (de France), born 25 July 1538.

[20] Cimber and Danjou (ed.), Archives curieuses III, p. 352.

[21] This conspiracy, known as the “Parlement de Roussillon” is only known from this letter: testis unus... Saulnier, a.c., p. 352, 357-358.

[22] Cimber and Danjou (ed.), Archives curieuses III, p. 353.

[23] Autumn 1539. Marot wrote Le cantique de la Royne sur la maladie et convalescence du Roy, which was published in Les cantiques de la Paix (1540, Paris, Roffet) together with Marot’s official contribution to the festivities around the passage of the Emperor. For the text of this poem: Clément Marot, Oeuvres Poétiques t. II (ed. Defaux), Paris, 1992, p. 196-199.

[24] These three prayers are not found in any known manuscript of the Trente Pseaulmes, but form part of Marot’s Instruction et foy d’ung chrestien, first published in 1533 and also included in his second collection of Psalm poems, Vingt Pseaulmes, 1543.

[25] This refers to the dedicatory epistle (“Au Roy treschrestien Francoys premier de ce nom”), which is present in ms. B.N. fr. 3632 and in the augmented edition of Des Gois of Les Psalmes de David... (Antwerp, 1541) and in the official edition by Roffet (Paris, 1541).

[26] The emperor made his glorious entrance into Paris on 1 January 1540. This account implies that Marot offered the manuscript to the French King earlier, i.e. late 1539, after his illness. Two Psalms with the incipit mentioned by the emperor (107, 118) figure in Marot’s Vingt Pseaulmes of 1543.

[27] Translation: “[The Eternal God] immediately started to prepare and activate the means, by which he wanted the full blessing of the King and Yourself to come to light and manifest itself in a perfect way. So this merciful Father put into the heart of the late King Francis a deep fondness of the thirty Psalms of David, together with the Lord’s Prayer, the Angel’s Greeting and the Apostles’ Creed, which the late Clément Marot had translated and rendered, and dedicated to his greatness and majesty. The king ordered Marot to present it to the emperor Charles V, who benignly received this translation and showed his appreciation not only in words but also by means of a gift of 200 doubloons, encouraging Marot to achieve the translation of the rest of the Psalms. The emperor also requested him to send him - as soon as possible - Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus, [a psalm] which he liked very much. Seeing and hearing this, the musicians of both kings, verily all musicians of France, started to compete with each other in putting these Psalms to music, and everyone was singing them.” (Cimber and Danjou (ed.), Archives curieuses III, p. 353-354).

[28] Cimber and Danjou (ed.), Archives Curieuses, p. 354-355. Psalm Numbers are the Hebrew numbers. The first lines of both Psalms are quoted in the Letter. Psalm 128 (“Bienheureux est quiconques / Sert à Dieu volontiers , etc.”) indeed is by Marot but it only appeared for the first time in his second collection, Vingt Pseaulmes, 1543. The lines quoted from Psalm 142 (“Vers l’Eternel des oppressez le pere / Je m’en iray, luy monstrant l’impropere / que l’on me faict etc...”) are from a non-Marot Psalm. This Psalm is only known from Ms. B.N. fr. 2336, and was also part of the edition of a collection of Psalms by Des Gois (Antwerp, 1541) and Dolet (Lyon, 1542, reprint of the former). Curious detail: this objection is met with in the letter itself, when the author reports that Marguerite immediately observed this after Villemadon had finished his report about it (p. 355).

[29] The author dates this visit explicitly around the time Marguerite was trying to move her brother to more clemency towards the people of La Rochelle. This chronology establishes a suggestive link between the singing of the Psalms of David at court (Villemadon Letter) and the offering of ‘un David’ (with accompanying Epistle) by Marguerite to her brother at the same occasion (episode analysed by Pauline M. Smith and Dana Bentley-Cranch in the article quoted above in note 1, ‘A new iconographical addition...’, p. 619-620).

[30] Translation: “and, since it has pleased God to place this gift in your heart: behold the time, behold the days are near, that the eyes of the King will be content, the desires of Monsieur the Dauphin will be fulfilled to satisfaction and the thoughts of the enemies of her Ladyship will be reversed; also my hope and faithful prayers will reach their end. Within a little more than a year the Lord’s merciful visitation will become apparent and I guarantee that she will have a son, for deeper joy and satisfaction.” (Cimber and Danjou (ed.), Archives curieuses III, p. 356). Mark the biblical idiom and the intertext with the prophecy of the birth of Isaac (Gen.18).

[31] Since Catherine gave birth to a son (François) on 19 January 1544, the episode of the prophecy is supposed to have taken place late 1542.

[32] “serpent”, “monstre”, “vostre ennemy domestique”, “fils de Caïn”, “diable rouge” are some epitheta gathered from the text by Saulnier (a.c. p. 351). It is the use of these terms which evoked the comparison of the letter with the pamphlets of Hotman (see above).

[33] For the circumstances of King Henry’s death, see note 18.

[34] Cimber and Danjou (ed.), Archives curieuses III, p. 360.

[35] Cimber and Danjou (ed.), Archives curieuses III, p. 361. The houses of Orléans, Angoulême and Anjou are proclaimed to be elected by God (p. 362).

[36] Cimber and Danjou (ed.), Archives curieuses III, p. 362. The letter ends with: “Amen De vostre pauvre maison, ce 26 d’aoust 1559. Vostre très-humble et très-obéissant serviteur et subject, D.V.”

[37] Note the intertext with Marot’s own huitain that accompanied the Vingt Pseaulmes, dated 15 March 1543: “Puisque voulez que je poursuive, ô Sire...”.

[38] In the reference to this episode in his own writing (see note 15), Regnier de la Planche, specifically stresses the cultural aspects of the discours. He elaborates on the ominous effects of the poetry of the Pléiade, expressly naming Ronsard, Jodelle and Baïf. His own ideas and the Villemadon Letter form such a perfect match, that one starts to wonder about the relation between D.V. and Regnier and sometimes can’t help to think of an identification. An assessment of this cultural aspect of the religious conflict with extensive extracts from the writings of Régnier de la Planche can be found in Jeanice Brooks, ‘Italy, the ancient world and the French musical inheritance’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 121/1, 1996, p. 147-190. For Regnier de la Planche, see p. 164-168.

[39] Les Pseaumes mis en rime francoise appeared in print in 1562 in many places at the same time, both in France and abroad. See Pidoux, Le Psautier Huguenot, t. II, p. 132-136.

[40] R. J. Knecht, ‘ “Haulse (Paris), haulse bien haut ta porte...’, in Pauline Smith, Trevor Peach (eds.), Renaissance Reflections, Paris, 2002, 85–105.

[41] Description and analysis of this manuscript by S.J. Lenselink, Les Psaumes de Clément Marot, Assen, 1969, p. 20-23. General conclusions on p. 23, repeated with slight changes on p. 27. Images of the manuscript can be found on the pages following p. 56.

[42] Discussing the manuscripts in the “Wiener Nationalbibliothek” he writes: “Noch wichtiger und interessanter ist die Handschrift 2644 derselben Bibliothek, denn sie ist offenbar das Dedikationsexemplar dass Marot dem Kaiser bei seiner Durchreise durch Frankreich persönlich überreichte...” (Ph. A. Becker, Clement Marots Psalmenübersetzung, Leipzig, 1921, p. 15). This identification has also become a received opinion amongst scholars.

[43] Otto Pächt, Dagmar Thoss, Französische Schule II. Die illuminierten Handschriften und Inkunabeln der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, Band 2, Vienna, 1977, p. 165. They simply write “Ferdinand I. gewidmet” and refer to the coat of arms on folio 1v°. The beginning of the description: “Einköpfiger schwarzer Adler auf Pinselgoldgrund mit einem großen gevierten Brustschild ; 1 und 4 Ungarn, 2 und 3 Böhmen; vor diesem ein kleinerer gevierter Schild mit gespaltenen Feldern...” Lenselink also assigns the coat of arms to Ferdinand I (Lenselink, Les Psaumes de Clément Marot, p. 22).

[44] The photocopy of the coat of arms was kindly provided by the librarian of the Vienna Staatsbibliothek. An analysis of the coat of arms, based on this photocopy was performed by prof. Luc Duerloo (University of Antwerp), uninformed of what was at stake. His formal statement (transmitted by email, 17/11/2007): “It is the coat of arms of Roman King, not of a Roman Emperor, since the eagle has only one head (and not two). Charles V never has been a Roman King, Ferdinand was (1531-1556).” (translation DW). Some oddities concerning the smaller quarters (especially the presence of Béarn, two cows), signalled already by Pächt, do not alter the attribution to Ferdinand I as being the most probable (also dixit Prof. Duerloo). The presence of Béarn evokes the names of the family D'Albret and De Bourbon (only Navarre is missing). Even more intriguing is the presence of Burgundy, Aragon and Castilia. I can not help thinking of Mary of Hungary, the one behind Psalmes de David printed in Antwerp 1541.

[45] Lenselink keeps open the possibility of advancing the date for this manuscript to the early parts of 1540, but he gives no substantial arguments for this advancement. This is very conspicuous, since another manuscript (Ms. Pierpont Morgan 218) is dated without hesitation around the same time as the Roffet edition, because of their close textual similarity. One thing might be revelatory with regard to the reasons Lenselink might have had to suggest a difference of almost two full years between these similar manuscripts: a third manuscript, Ms. Ars. 3632 gets the same treatment as ms. Cod. Vind. 2644. This manuscript is often suggested to be the copy offered by Marot to King François Ier, an event which The Villemadon Letter also dates around or even before 1540. This might well explain Lenselink’s capricious dating. While dealing with ms. Ars. 3632 and. ms. Cod. Vind. 2644 he must have felt the burden of tradition and thus tried to harmonise his own findings as much as possible with the story of the mansucripts being offered to the king and the emperor in 1539/1540, events he indeed refers to as matters of fact several times (Lenselink, Psaumes, p. 21-22). All indications we gathered suggest the first presentation should be placed in 1541, close to the edition of Roffet.

[46] This poem concludes with: “Haulse (Paris), haulse bien hault ta porte: / Car entrer veult le plus grand des Chrestiens”, a clear example of intertext with Psalm 24. Clément Marot, Oeuvres Poétiques , t. II, (ed. G. Defaux), Paris, 1992, p. 192-193). By the way, neither Marot, nor Roffet, either in this edition in 1540 or in 1541, (the Psalms) refers to the imperial approval when requesting privileges or in dedicatory poems or letters.

[47] Because of the early date (1539/1540) of this story all scholars feel obliged to formulate a theory to explain how it was possible that an obviously inferior version of the Trente Pseaulmes circulated, while the official version was already presented to the King. For this matter see most recently Catherine Reuben, La traduction des psaumes de David par Clément Marot. Aspects poétiques et theologiques, Paris, 2001, p. 49-52. Overviews and bibliography can be found in C.A. Mayer, Les Traductions, (t. VI of his complete edition), London, 1980, p. 44-65 and G. Defaux, Cinquante pseaumes, Paris, 1995, p 37-64 and p. 215-221. The last must have felt the difficulties of the story of D.V., because he unconsciously sometimes postdates the passage of the emperor to 1541 (f.i. p. 306).

[48] The first musical polyphonic settings (originating from the French Court) were published in 1546 (Certon and Mornable) and since have become increasingly popular. By the time the complete Psalter was published, almost every composer had ventured into composing a collection of polyphonic Psalms. In 1549 even the famous court composer Clément Jannequin published a book with Psalm compositions (Pidoux, Le Psautier Huguenot, t. II, p. 44-45). This is what I wrote, but it should be corrected. The first polyphonic versions of Marot's Psalms were not those published by Certon c.s., but they appeared without a link to the liturgical melody from Strasbourt/Geneva, and with interesting text-variations, both compared to the official editions and the church editions (Strasbourg 1539/1542, Geneva 1542/1543): Ps. 137 ('Abel' 1542), Ps. 130 (Appenzeller 1542, Gentian 1544, Manchicourt 1545).




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