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Panat Times

Volume 1, redone Dec. 2014


Volume 1


Orest's Pages

Patricia's Musings



Musical Rhetoric

Transcribed Sources


Jean Duron's depiction of the queen's funérailles

Jean Duron and I were talking at one another, not with one another in our exchange prior to a performance of Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Luctus, In obitum, and De profundis. (See my related Musing about Music for the Dead Queen.) But I was not sure why.

After the concert at Versailles in October 2004, I repeatedly asked myself: "Funérailles: why did Duron think Charpentier wrote music for Marie-Thérèse's "funeral"? Why did he assert that she was buried around the time when her heart was removed? Why did he keep bringing up Minoret, the recently named royal chapel master who -- he repeated -- "couldn't get the musique ready in time"? Why did he think that Marc-Antoine Charpentier stepped into the breach with either Luctus or In obitum and its related De profundis?

Jean Duron's study of Marie Thérèse's "funérailles"

The tableau of the queen's death and burial that Jean Duron paints in the opening paragraph of his program notes was unsettling. Immediately upon returning home, I consulted the publication where these program notes had first appeared: Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Musique pour les funérailles de la Reine Marie-Thérèse (Paris: Heugel/Le Pupitre, 2000). It turned out that the Preface to this edition had been reprinted as program notes. In this Preface (p. v), the same astonishing sentences appear:

"The ceremonies surrounding Marie-Thérèse's funeral were not as grandiose as those organized in 1666 for the obsequies of Anne of Austria," Les cérémonies qui entourèrent les funérailles de Marie-Thérèse ne furent pas aussi grandioses que celles organisées en 1666 pour les obsèques d'Anne d'Autriche. Indeed, Duron claims that "the funeral service [for Marie-Thérèse] was discreet, the mourning general but very brief, and the king secretly married Mme de Maintenon," Les funérailles furent discrètes, le deuil général mais fort court, et le roi épousa en secret Mme de Maintenon.

No "grandiose ceremonies"? Nenni! Jean Duron, please read Royal Master of Ceremony Sainctot's records in Mazarine, ms. 2742, fol. 23v ff, and those at the BNF, cited below. And please contemplate the splendid procession depicted in the Almanach for 1684 (it illustrates your program notes): hundreds of mourners, and coach upon coach draped in black, snake their way toward Saint-Denis.

The problem may center upon our understanding of what "funérailles" means.

In the twenty-first century a "funeral" (les funérailles) is typically conducted just a few days after the individual's death. In the seventeenth century, by contrast, the "funérailles" of a great noble stretched on for a full month. This was the case for Queen Marie-Thérèse, who died at Versailles on July 30 but was not interred at Saint-Denis until September 1.

I trust that I am accurately summarizing the principal points that Duron makes in his Preface. We have seen that he asserts that the "funeral was discreet, the mourning very brief." In addition, he remains so convinced that Charpentier's pieces could only have been performed at Versailles (they clearly were intended for the king's five-part string orchestra), that, by deduction, he interprets his evidence to support this assertion. Using skepticism, asking questions that implicitly require a negative reply, and resorting now and then to we-were-unable-to-find's, Duron excludes venue after venue (including the Carmelite memorial service for which Charpentier is known to have composed). He concludes that the only possible venue was Versailles, and that the only possible date was August 10: "That leaves the ceremonies of August 10, for the departure of the funeral convoy for Saint-Denis," restent les cérémonies du 10 août pour le départ du convoi à Saint-Denis (p. vii): and "... if one deems this music by Charpentier [In obitum] to have been the piece performed by the Queen's Music when the funeral convoy left Versailles on August 10," si l'on considère que cette musique de Charpentier fut celle exécutée lors du départ du convoi funèbre le 10 août à Versailles, par la musique de la reine (p. ix).

Marie-Thérèse's funérailles, that is, the funeral pomp organized by and for the royal court, did not, of course, end with the procession of August 10. There may be anachronistic preconceptions at work here, to account for why (p. vi) Duron treats the queen's actual funérailles -- her burial service -- as yet another "mass" where the King's Music happened to perform compositions by Lully. The fact that this grandiose "mass" was preceded by two solemn services in the same church (p. vi) -- one of them the "vespers for the dead" traditionally sung prior to a royal or otherwise high-ranking burial -- does not appear to have prompted Duron to ask why three services were sung for Marie-Thérèse at Saint-Denis on three successive days, August 30, August 31, and September 1.
But enough of these criticisms. Suffice it to say that Duron's amazing assertions in the opening paragraphs of his Preface, are contradicted by the sources cited below. Marie-Thérèse was not buried "discreetly" and with a minimum of ceremony -- indeed, with far less ceremony than had been given her late aunt and mother-in-law, Anne of Austria. To the contrary! There was great continuity in both protocol and pomp, stretching over the decades from the state funeral of Anne of Austria in 1666; to the state funeral of the first wife of Louis XIV's brother, Philippe d'Orléans in 1670; to the state funeral of Louis XIV's aunt, Marguerite d'Orléans (Mme de Guise's mother) in 1672; and on to Marie-Thérèse's funérailles in 1683.

John B. Wolf's depiction of Marie Thérèse's funeral pomp

One of the most accurate, most balanced summaries of Marie-Thérèse's funeral pomp was penned by John B. Wolf a few decades ago, in Louis XIV (New York: Norton, 1969), pp. 329-30. Key points are highlighted in bold type and a few explanatory words have been added within brackets to help readers locate these events in the calendar that follows Wolf's description.

While Marie-Thérèse was alive she never seemed very important in the court; even though she was the queen, it was hard for anyone to take her very seriously. When she died, however, her husband and the entire court had much to do to be sure that all the pomp, tradition, and ceremony was properly observed. Louis undoubtedly was shaken by the passing of a person whose life had been so long associated with his own, but the shock was more the reminder of his own mortality than great concern over her fate. He soon recovered only to find himself involved in a round of ceremonial receptions and speeches from people who demanded to be noticed when they brought sympathy to their king. He had to be gracious; he had to carry off the role of king bereaved by the loss of his queen, long after he had fully recovered from the disagreeable experience of her death.

There was much to be done to tell the world that the Queen of France was dead. She was important as a ceremonial figure, and her demise was the occasion for elaborate obsequies: in addition to prayers and masses for the repose of her soul there had to be a state funeral to honor her name and to entomb her remains. The body was prepared for burial. ... The heart, encased in a silver box, ... was placed in the chapel at Val-de-Grâce near that of Anne, her beloved aunt and mother-in-law. The entrails were embalmed and likewise placed in an urn. The body, clothed in the habit of a Capuchin nun, was encased in a coffin of lead ... The coffin, draped in violet-colored velvet, surmounted with the queen's coat of arms, rested in state in a large room [the Grand Cabinet] with two altars where priests said mass while monks from the monasteries of Versailles chanted the De profundis and other prayers. Four bishops came each day, the queen's chaplains stayed in the room most of the time, and the members of her household spelled each other in attendance of the corpse. The ceremonies [none of them involving "musique," but only psalmody] lasted until August 10, when the body was taken in solemn procession to the Basilica of Saint-Denis for final burial [on September 1].

Louis and the whole court went into deep mourning. This meant that everyone needed new clothes, that black and violet draperies were rented to decorate the chambers of the royal family and public reception rooms at the château of Fontainebleau where the king and court retired after a short stay at Saint-Cloud. Louis now appeared clothed in violet: his black hat had violet ribbons; the sheath for his steel sword was violet; his cape, and even his shirt, which could be seen only when he unbuttoned his surcoat, were violet. The rest of the court and all the officers of state except the chancellor also appeared in mourning.

While the body of the late queen was being prepared for the journey toward its tomb in the Bourbon crypt at Saint-Denis, there was much for the king to do. All sorts of people arrived at Fontainebleau to offer condolences.... At the same time, from the pulpits of France there was an outpouring of sermons by clerical orators of varying degrees of eloquence, many of which were promptly printed and sent to the king. ... While this was going on, funeral services were held at Saint-Denis [September 1], a near replica of those held for the queen mother almost two decades earlier, even to the problems of precedence and stealing that had troubled Anne's funeral ceremonies.

(Wolf reconstructed the above tableau on the basis of the following sources: Series O and K of the Archives Nationales; the Sainctot registers at the BNF, ms. fr. 16633 (154 pages on the funeral ceremonial for Marie-Thérèse!); and BNF, L 37B 3786-3826, over 40 printed booklets).

Patricia Ranum's chronology of events

A decade ago, as a guide to determining whether Marc-Antoine Charpentier's music could have been written for one or another of the above events, I drew up the following chronology. It mirrors, in condensed form, the tableau painted by Wolf. As in the quotation from Wolf, key points are highlighted in bold type.

(This chronology relies on several sources: Gazette de France, Aug. and Sept. 1683; Mercure galant, Aug. and Sept. 1683; the materials on royal ceremonial at the Mazarine, ms. 2742 (compiled by Sainctot, royal maître des cérémonies), fol. 23v (and also ms. 2740, fols 13-20v, the funeral of Louis XIV's aunt, Marguerite de Lorraine, duchess of Orléans, in 1672); BnF, ms. fr. 16663, pp. 244 ff, for the queen's funeral (also consulted by Wolf); and BnF, ms. fr. 23322, pp. 37 ff. for the queen's funeral.)

Here, then, are the basic dates for the queen's month-long funeral pomp and a few tidbits about established royal ceremony:

July 30: Marie-Thérèse died unexpectedly. Priests said the usual prayers around her corpse as it lay on its deathbed. The King and the royal family immediately left the chateau for Monsieur's château at Saint-Cloud, and then set off for Fontainebleau. The entire château of Versailles (and the château of Fontainebleau as well) was promptly draped in black inside and out. No music -- that is, no part-song -- was sung this day, only psalmody.

July 31: low masses were recited in the bedchamber where the queen was lying. That afternoon the body was embalmed, the heart and entrails were removed, and the coffined remains lay in state in the Grand Cabinet of her apartment on the étage noble -- which had been hung with elaborate funeral trapping. Visitors came and sprinkled the coffin with holy water. Low masses continued to be said here, and the De profundis was recited over and over as psalmody. Singing anything en musique in this room would have been inappropriate, so the Grand Cabinet can be ruled out as a venue for one or another of Charpentier's compositions. The coffin remained in this room until August 10. All the while, mourners sprinkled holy water, and priests chanted and recited low masses for the dead. Four prelates in rochet and camail watched near the body.

August 2: late in the day, the queen's heart was taken to the Val-de-Grâce convent, after the "usual prayers and incensing." I was not looking for an allusion to music performed when the heart left Versailles, so I may have missed a detail about the departure of the heart in those lengthy sources. Any service held that day at the Val-de-Grâce would surely have been organized by the nuns, just as the reception of the heart of Marguerite d'Orléans at Montmartre had been organized by the nuns in 1672. (In the latter case, the heart was officially "received" by the abbess and the nuns, but the religious service was delayed for a month later, when Madame's body was buried in the crypt of Saint-Denis and when her daughter, Mme de Guise -- presumably accompanied by members of the King's Music who had performed for the burial at Saint-Denis -- continued on to Montmartre for what amounted to a "funeral" for her mother's heart.) Since there is no evidence that Charpentier was in contact with the Val-de-Grâce, it is unlikely that any of his works for the late queen were performed there.

Earlier that day, August 2 -- at 9 in the morning, by order of the Archbishop of Paris -- services for the queen had been held in every parish church throughout the archdiocese. This included a service at the parish church of Versailles, attended by members of the queen's household. Although organized in consultation with Royal Master of Ceremonies Sainctot, the service (and all others held that morning) was not technically a part of the queen's "funeral"; it was an archdiocesan event organized to comply with an order from the archbishop. The service in the parish church at Versailles took the form of a "vêpres des morts" conducted by Père Eloy Huet and Archbishop Harlay. According to BnF, ms. fr. 16663, pp. 248-49, drawn up by Sainctot, a De profundis was supposed to be sung by the Music during this service. (Sainctot does not specify whether it was the King's Music or the Queen's, nor whether the singing would be en musique or en fauxbourdon.) In the end, the De profundis apparently had to be chanted by the officiants, rather than sung: "The Music was supposed to sing the De profundis, but it was not notified in time," la Musique devoit chanter le De Profundis mais elle ne fut pas avertie assés tost. Sainctot's statement rules out any notion we might wish to entertain to the effect that Marc-Antoine Charpentier's De profundis was used for these vespers. On what grounds? Well, if he had hastily written a piece for that service, or if he was brushing up an old piece (for example, H. 156, written for the Guise funerals a decade earlier), the Music would have been practicing the unfamiliar piece and would therefore have been aware that its presence was expected at the service.

Sainctot's statement provides two other important bits of information:

In contrast with the psalmody going on in the Grand Cabinet, a De profundis in either part-song or fauxbourdon was permitted in the parish church;

The King's Music did not follow the monarch when he left Versailles for Saint-Cloud and Fontainebleau. This further weakens Duron's assertion that "the Music followed the king." (see my Musing about Charpentier's music for the dead Queen)

August 10: the queen's coffin was removed from the Grand Cabinet on the étage noble and was carried along a corridor and down some steps into the cour d'honneur, from where the long procession that was to conduct the remains to the basilica of Saint-Denis would depart. As the cortege was setting off, the Queen's Music sang the De profundis (Mercure galant, Sept. 1683, p. 79); and oboes -- which were primarily used outdoors -- made sad sounds while crepe-covered drums sounded single beats (Duron, p. vi). Are we really supposed to imagine that -- in this outdoors context, rather than in the "church" specified by Marc-Antoine Charpentier -- a string orchestra, flutes, and vocalists performed Charpentier's In obitum and De profundis (Duron, pp. vii, ix)? Still less appropriate for a service at Versailles that day, is the text of In obitum, which focuses as much upon charity as upon the royal attributes of the late queen. Still more inappropriate for a service held on August 10 is the fact that In obitum evokes a past full of weeping, followed by a present when thoughts and prayers keep turning to the late queen.

Alexandre Maral, La Chapelle royale de Versailles sous Louis XIV (Sprimont: Mardaga, 2002, pp. 220-221), shows that long-established ceremony was observed when Louis XIV's remains were transferred to Saint-Denis. A religious service was conducted in the room on the étage noble where the king was lying in state. It took the form of the "vespers for the dead," sung in psalmody (not en musique). The coffin was then carried downstairs to the cour d'honneur. As the procession reached the bottom of the stairway, the Music of the Chapel sang a De profundis "en fauxbourdon" (not en musique); and drums beat slowly as the French guards conducted the coffin into the courtyard. All the evidence suggests that this very same ceremony was observed when the queen's body was removed from Versailles on August 10, 1683 -- the principal exception being that the Queen's Music (rather than the Music of the Chapel) was given the privilege to honor their late mistress by singing the De profundis (surely en fauxbourdon): "While they were placing the remains [on the hearse], the Queen's Music sang a De profundis, "pendant que l'on y plaça le Corps, la Musique de la Reyne chanta un De profundis" (Mercure galant, Aug. 1683, p. 123).

Duron modifies this sentence from the Mercure to fit his tale about how Minoret could not get the "musique" ready in time. That is to say, in a note he gives the reference but does not actually quote the sentence -- which refers solely to the Queen's Music -- to support his assertion that the court, which had returned to Versailles on July 20, was so disorganized that "the Queen's Music had to sing, for the King's Music was not ready," la musique de la reine dut ainsi chanter, car celle du roi n'était pas prête (p. v). I have been unable to locate the source for Duron's assertion that "Minoret did not have time to get the musique ready," forcing the Queen's Music to step in. This assertion appears in his article on Minoret in Marcelle Benoit's Dictionnaire of 1992; and although he states in his Preface of 2000 (p. vii), that "we know [Minoret] did not have time, see below," on sait qu'il n'en eut pas le temps, cf. infra, the promised infra does not materialize.

Duron appears to interpret this unspecified source as saying that, during the early days of August -- presumably for the service held in the parish church of Versailles on August 2 -- Minoret was writing new music for a service for the queen, but for one reason or another was unable to finish the composition. On short notice, Duron concludes, another composer was therefore called upon to replace him for the event being planned for August 10. Duron proposes that this replacement composer was Marc-Antoine Charpentier, and that in the space of eight days Charpentier wrote and rehearsed In obitum and its De profundis. Eighty-one folio-sized pages in all, including the overture and the élévation that are integral parts of this funereal corpus.

Musique is, of course, a treacherous word: it can mean "a piece of music"; or it can mean "the musicians themselves." If it should turn out that the quote to which Duron alludes but does not cite, refers to the rather matinal "vespers" of August 2, then a different interpretation of the evidence seems appropriate. That is to say, Sainctot suggests that a usable De profundis in music existed in the music library of the royal chapel, and that Minoret could easily have rehearsed the musicians to perform it; but either the curé or one of Sainctot's subordinates forgot to inform Minoret that the Musique was expected to perform at the service. In other words, it may well be that Minoret did not lack a completed piece of music, he simply was unaware that his musicians were expected to perform.

Minoret's efficiency during the first ten days of August 1683 (or his inefficiency) is peripheral to the ceremonial observed on August 10. That day the events were shaped by the established ceremony described by Wolf and Maral. Unless a shocking disregard for ceremony marked that day -- if it had, the fact surely would have found its way into Sainctot's records or been mentioned in court gossip-- there was no place for Charpentier's De profundis, with its part-song and its instruments; and there was even less place for his lengthy In obitum.

Once it arrived at Saint Denis, the coffin containing the queen's remains was placed in a chapelle ardente where it lay in state for the next three weeks, surrounded by the splendid trappings that were customary for royal funerals.

August 15: Duron provides no reference to his source, so I cannot delve deeper into his statement (p. xii, note 18) that Louis XIV (who was in residence at Fontainebleau) journeyed to Saint-Denis for a vespers service "sung by the Music" on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption.

Or is Duron talking about August 10? It is not clear. His note 18 says that "on the date of August 15," la date du 15 août, the king attended vespers sung by the Music at Saint-Denis; yet that particular footnote refers to a sentence about the ceremonies held at Versailles on August 10. Let's suppose that Louis did go to Saint-Denis on August 15. Does that imply that these vespers for the Assumption were part of the queen's funérailles? True, Marie-Thérèse was lying in state there, in a lavishly decorated chapelle ardente; but it is difficult to imagine that the vespers for one of the principal holy days of the Virgin would shift their focus to the chapelle ardente, and that Charpentier's long musical memorial to the queen -- which does not allude to the Virgin Mary -- could have been woven into that service.

September 1: after preparatory devotions sung at Saint-Denis on the days leading up to the state funeral (these devotions included the customary mass sung by the King's Music, and the customary vespers and vigils chanted by the monks), a pontifical requiem mass was sung by the King's Music in the splendidly decorated basilica of Saint-Denis. During this mass the queen's remains were carried in procession to the royal crypt. The Dies iræ and the De profundis were by Lully. In other words, it would be extremely imprudent to hypothesize that one or another of Charpentier's compositions was performed at Saint-Denis for the queen's actual burial.

This pontifical mass ended the queen's funérailles. Nowhere in the descriptions of this month-long event is there the slightest evidence to suggest that one or another of Marc-Antoine Charpentier's works for Marie-Thérèse was performed at these events.

The month of September: Until the final days of September, Louis XIV, the dauphin and the dauphine, and the court remained in deep mourning at Fontainebleau. A manuscript newsletter dated August 21, 1683 (one week prior to the queen's burial in the crypt of Saint-Denis) shows that Louis XIV was still wearing his purple mourning; that he and the court were still living in apartments draped in black or violet; that the music had been silenced in private living quarters there; and that part-music in the royal chapel at Fontainebleau was just beginning to come back to life:

"The dauphine is the only one who mitigates His Majesty's sadness over the queen's death. Because His Majesty is there so often, he had one of her apartments hung with purple which had been hung in black. ...The king gave the dauphine permission to have music played in her apartment. ... Music has been reestablished at the king's mass. The king is wearing violet crepe on his hat that goes down below his waist." Il n'y a que Madame la dauphine qui adoucisse la tristesse de sa majesté sur la mort de la Reyne. Il avoit fait tendre de violet un des apartemens de Mad. la Dauphine qui l'estoit de noir, parce que sa majesté y est fort souvent. ... Le Roy luy a donné la permission d'avoir la musique et de faire jouer des instruments dans son apartement ... Le Roy porte un crespe violet à son chapeau qui luy descent jusque au dessous de la ceinture. (BnF, ms. fr. 23520, fol. 108v)

Mourning did not end with the queen's burial on September 1. The Mercure galant (Sept. 1683, p. 167-174) informs us that on September 23 -- almost a month after the funeral -- Louis XIV held a public audience in the Queen's Apartment at Fontainebleau, "which was all hung with purple cloth," qui estoit tout tendu de Drap Violet; and that on the following day, in the Chambre du Lit à la Ruelle, the entire court assembled in "mantle and falling bands," en manteau et en rabat -- that is, in mourning clothes -- and that "despite the black clothing," malgré le noir des Habits, there was something "grand," grand, about the assembly. Official visits of condolence continued throughout the month of September, and special services were held throughout the realm well into the new year -- among them the "solemn mass" celebrated on December 20 at the Little Carmel at which Charpentier's music was performed.

To conclude

My goal has been to provide an accurate picture of Marie-Thérèse's funérailles, and to suggest how imprudent it would be to adopt Duron's arguments that Marc-Antoine Charpentier's In obitum and De profundis were, of necessity, performed at Versailles, simply because they written with the King's Music in mind.