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Volume 1, redone Dec. 2014


Volume 1


Orest's Pages

Patricia's Musings



Musical Rhetoric

Transcribed Sources


Early Charpentier links to the Guises and the Orleans:

The "friends" at the Charpentier-Édouard wedding of 1662

For far too long [this was written prior to 2000\ I have been asserting — with minimal footnoting, and sometimes no footnotes at all — that Marc-Antoine Charpentier "belonged" to the Houses of Orléans and of Guise before he ever became the protégé of Elisabeth d'Orléans ("Mme de Guise") and Marie de Lorraine ("Mlle de Guise"). I want to document these broad assertions, especially because some of the clues that follow will help another researcher realize the importance of a passing remark about a young musician, a young protégé, a young cousin in need of a patron.

My argument, which tries to answer three questions, goes as follows:

1. Orphaned at eighteen — and receiving a mere 250-odd livres as his share of his parents' estate — Marc-Antoine could scarcely have made the trip to Rome, circa 1666, without financial help and recommendations from powerful people in Paris to powerful people in Rome. This leads to the question: Circa 1665, did the Charpentier family know anyone who was in a position to recommend Marc-Antoine to someone in Rome, or to the Guises in Paris (for whom he began working in the early 1670s and who possibly contributed to the costs of his stay in Rome)?

2. In order to be given protection and lodging by Mlle de Guise, circa 1670, Charpentier would have required letters of introduction/recommendation to Her Highness — probably from people who "belonged" to the House of Guise or to whom the Guises were indebted in some way. If we suppose that Mlle de Guise was unaware of Charpentier's talents before he went to Rome, we should ask a second question: Who could have recommended the composer to Mlle de Guise when he returned to Paris, probably in the late autumn of 1669?

3. With the marriage of Élisabeth d'Orléans and Louis-Joseph de Lorraine, duke of Guise, in May 1667, a whole new set of clients entered the picture. After that event, people who "belonged" to the House of Orléans were in a position to lobby for their friends and relatives as the young Duke and Duchess of Guise created their household. This prompts a third question: Did Charpentier have any long-standing links to people in the Orléans circle who may have recommended him to Mme de Guise, circa 1669?

Partial answers to these three questions lie in a document dated 1662.

The document is the wedding contract between Marc-Antoine's sister Élisabeth and Jean Édouard, signed before Baglan and Le Boucher on August 24, 1662. [A.N., M.C., XXIII, 309] The introductory paragraph of the typical wedding contract begins by listing the groom and his parents, then the bride and her parents. A bit later comes a list of the "parents et amis" who are "assisting" the young person and who will sign the contract. The groom's "assistants" are named first, then the bride's. The signatures of the couple, the assistants and the notaries conclude the original of the contract.

From this specific wedding contract we learn that the groom lived on the Île-Saint-Louis and that he was a "maistre joueur d'instruments." In 1662, the groom's father — also named Jean Édouard — was an élu for Rozay-en-Brie, but he had begun life as a Parisian wine merchant. He remained in contact with other wine merchants of the capital, but he also had close ties to families who were buying lesser offices in the royal judicial system. (One day I will write more about the Édouard couple and their friends.) In short, like the Charpentiers, the Édouards had links to Brie. It is not clear, however, whether these regional links were a determining factor in Élisabeth Charpentier's marriage to a musician and dancing master.

Rather, the identities of the signatories to the contract suggest that the couple was benefitting from the protection of a small group of influential individuals who knew one another very well and who all had long "belonged" either to the Guises or to the Orléanses — and sometimes to both.

For, in a sense, it was not difficult to belong to  both princely houses simultaneously. For Gaston, Duke of Orléans, had married Mlle de Guise's half-sister in 1626, who died a year later giving birth of the Grande Mademoiselle. As Mademoiselle's aunt, Mlle de Guise kept a proprietary foot in the door to Gaston's household for almost four decades. Her link to this household became even tighter when Gaston married Mlle de Guise's cousin, Marguerite de Lorraine (the sister of the Duke of Lorraine). From the mid-1640s until Madame's death in 1672, she and Marie de Lorraine conspired together for the good of the House of Lorraine. Then, in 1667 — with great hopes of returning the Lorraines of Guise to the high position they had occupied in the sixteenth century — Mlle de Guise won over Marguerite de Lorraine and Louis XIV, and hastily arranged a marriage between Élisabeth d'Orléans and Louis-Joseph de Lorraine. The years 1666-1670, when the newly-weds were moving into a refurbished and updated Hotel de Guise, were therefore pivotal ones for Mlle de Guise. Her intention was to create a nearly royal court, and leaving the young couple no say in the decisions, she spared no expenses to make her dreams reality. She already had an intendant for her musique: Philippe Goibault sieur des Bois. Under the circumstances, could she have refused to consider protecting a composer who would be seen by court and capital as "belonging" to both the Guises and the Orléans? Would not the protection of such an artist add to the luster of the House of Guise, who cross of Lorraine had now merged with the lillies of France?

Well, it turns out that Marc-Antoine Charpentier's family had "friends" in both princely houses. Turning my back on the groom's various relatives, who mainly were bourgeois de Paris, I will focus here on these powerful "friends":

Jean Édouard's "friends"

Dame Ysabel Marie Malier, widow of the late Nicolas de Bailleul (d. 1652), chevalier, seigneur de Soisy, conseiller du Roy en ses conseils, président à mortier au parlement de Paris. Mme de Bailleul was the sister of a long-time Orléans protégé

Élisabeth ("Isabelle") Malier du Houssaye was the daughter of a trésorier de France at Orléans. Other close relatives had also held offices in the Duchy of Orléans. And so, in the 1620s, the 1630s, the 1640s, the Maliers "belonged" to Gaston de France, Duke of Orléans, known as "Monsieur." Gaston was not only Louis XIII's brother, he was the father of the princess who would one day become "Mme de Guise." Élisabeth Mallier's brother, Claude Malier du Houssaye, had been French ambassador to Venise during the 1630s, but after his wife's death (she was Élisabeth Malier's step-daughter by Nicolas de Bailleul's first marriage), Claude Malier entered the Church. Marguerite de Lorraine, Gaston's wife, actively protected Claude Malier over the years. The former ambassador became her premier aumosnier and, by 1639, a bishop. Various diplomatic archives contain petitions from Marguerite de Lorraine on Claude Malier's behalf or in favor of his son Marc Malier, who succeeded his father in Madame's household in 1668. And when an event sponsored by Madame d'Orléans required the presence of a cleric or a prelate, that ecclesiastic inevitably was a Malier. (Incidentally, throughout the 1660s Mme d'Orléans was corresponding with the General of the Jesuits in Rome. This of course means that she was in a position to recommend Marc-Antoine Charpentier to the Jesuit establishment there. [A.S.G. of Rome, Gal. 46 II, fols 458v, 482v, 488, 500v, 502v, 510, among others]

Dlle Marie de Bailleul, her grand-daughter, the daughter of Louis de Bailleul. [B.N., Dossiers bleus, 421, "Mallier," fols. 3, 10; Pièces orig., 1817, fols. 12, 25, 29, 40, 64] Her maternal relatives had served both the Guises and the Orléans, and her parents attended services at the same chapel as the Charpentiers' cousins.

In 1644 Louis de Bailleul, the son of Élisabeth Malier and Nicolas de Bailleul, married Marie Le Ragois, daughter of the richissime Claude Le Ragois de Bretonvilliers whose lived in a sumptuous hôtel on the Ile-Saint-Louis. (This of course raises an unanswerable question: did young Jean Édouard, who also lived on the island, work for Bretonvilliers — or, perhaps, even live in his hôtel?)
Marie Le Ragois was the niece of Séraphim Le Ragois de Guignonville, who had been the intendant of the Guises during the 1630s and then became the treasurer of Mme d'Orléans. François Peyrat, her paternal uncle by marriage, had served as treasurer for Mlle de Montpensier (the "Grande Mademoiselle"), who was not only Gaston's daughter by his first marriage but Mlle de Guise's niece. The Bailleuls definitely were in touch with the Guises. They not only lived on the rue du Grand Chantier, near the Hôtel de Guise, but like the Guises (and like his late father, Nicolas de Bailleul), Louis de Bailleul was an active participant in worship services at the Convent of the Mercy. [A.N., M.C., V, 98, marriage, July 16, 1644; A.N., LL1559, (Mercy) fols. 16v and 89; see also my article on the Mercy in the Bulletin Charpentier, republished in 2005 in  Marc-Antoine Charpentier, un musicien retrouvé, ed. C. Cessac]

Now it so happens that, in the early 1660s, when Élisabeth Charpentier married Jean Édouard, some of her close relatives — Marthe Croyer, the wife of Jacques Havé de Saint-Aubin, "gentilhomme ordinaire de feu Monseigneur le duc d'Orléans" (that is, of Gaston d'Orléans, who died in 1660) — were worshippers at the Mercy chapel. Indeed, Marthe Croyer's spiritual ties to the Mercy were so deep that she founded a mass there in 1664. [A.N., M.C., XXXIX, 109, March 15, 1664] Under the circumstances, it seems likely that the Havés and the Bailleuls had at least would could be described as a "bowing acquaintance"; and it is virtually certain that the Havés and the Maliers had encountered one another regularly at the Palais d'Orléans (today's Luxembourg Palace) during the 1640s and early 1650s, and perhaps even at Blois where Monsieur retired in disgrace after the Fronde.

Noble homme Lhuillier, conseiller et secrétaire du Roy and Demoiselle Eizabel Grymaudet, his wife. Élisabeth Grimaudet was the sister of two of the principal administrative officials of Gaston d'Orléans' domain of Blois.

The Grimaudets harkened from Vendôme, but by 1613 some of them had moved to Blois where they soon entered the service of Gaston de France. Among the signatories of the wedding contract of Michel II Grimaudet in 1648 was his sister, Élisabeth Grimaudet, wife of César Lhuillier, écuyer, who lived in Paris, and his brother, René Grimaudet, "lieutenant général des baillages et gouvernement de Blois." Present also was the widow of the groom's uncle, the late Jacques Grimaudet, "conseiller au siège présidial de Blois."

Élisabeth continued to reside in Paris throughout this period. By 1652 her husband had become controlleur général des rentes de l'Hôtel de ville and was living on the rue de Bracque. In other words, the Lhuilliers lived on the short street onto which the Mercy chapel opened and that leads directly to the "Porte Clisson" of the Hôtel de Guise. They were still at that address in 1665. The couple clearly remained in touch with Gaston d'Orléans's former domestics, for a document dated 1665 shows them signing a cousin's wedding contract in the presence of Jacques Bourgogne, "secrétaire des finances de feu Son Altesse Royale" (Gaston). [B.N., Carrés d'Hozier, 314, "Grimaudet," fols. 94, 96, 100, 104, 134; XC, 229, mariage, June 23, 1665; XC, 229, constitution, May 22, 1665]

In short, Élisabeth Grimaudet's presence at the signing of the Charpentier-Édouard wedding contract is further evidence that, by the time of his marriage — and for reasons I have been unable to deduce — Jean Édouard had entered a protective circle that stretched across the Seine from the Palais d'Orléans to the Hôtel de Guise and the adjacent Mercy chapel. It is also clear the Charpentier family was connected to this protective circle through their cousins in Gaston d'Orléans's service, perhaps tightly, perhaps tenuously, but sufficiently connected to be able to call upon the Orléans protective network for recommendations at home or abroad.

Élisabeth Charpentier's "friends"

The bride had only one influential friend, but what a well-connected friend she was!

Dame Marie Talon, femme de M. de Voysin, maistre des requêtes

Marie Talon was the daughter of Omer Talon, the respected avocat général during the Fronde. I have followed a number of trails leading from Omer back to Châlons-sur-Marne, where the Talons married into families named Anthoine and Colin who may or may not have been related to the Guise musicians of the 1680s with those names. The Talons also had married the descendants of several Guise household officers during the League. Still, I uncovered no compelling or conclusive evidence that the Charpentiers had long-standing links to the Talons.

[Note: It has recently be learned that Marc-Antoine Charpentier signed up to study law with Marie Talon's maternal cousin in 1662: see the Musing on the law faculty register in the section of this site called "Charpentier the Man."]

Instead, our attention should focus on the Voisin family. In 1642 Marie Talon had married Daniel Voisin, then a conseiller du roi and maître des requêtes. Since Voisin was the grandson of one of the Guise's most devoted advisors during the League, let us go back to 1588 and the assassination of Mlle de Guise's grandfather, the famed "Balafré." Pierre de Versoris was "fort passionnée pour la maison de Guise, dont il estoit le principal conseil; et neantmoins ayant appris la Veille de Noel 1588, en faisant sa collation, la mort d'Henry de Lorraine duc de Guise, arrivée à Blois, il garda une tranquillité toute entiere et se coucha en resolution de communier à la messe de minuit, s'estant dejà confessé, mais s'estant trouvé mal et n'ayant pas pû y aller, Monsieur de Vertamon son gendre, et ses filles le trouvèrent mort dans son lit sur les cinq heures du matin jour de Noel." Versoris was believed to have died of sorrow over the death of the Duke of Guise.

Pierre de Versoris was not the only pro-Guise member of the family. He was but one link in a very broad net of intermarriages and protections within which Marc-Antoine Charpentier's future career as a composer should be viewed. The genealogies of two of Pierre de Versoris's children can serve as models for the affective and protective ties to which I constantly refer in my different Musings and which appear to have played in role in Charpentier's protection by the Guises.

Let's begin with Pierre de Versoris's son, Frédéric, councillor in the Parlement, who married Catherine Chaillou, the daughter of Pierre, secrétaire du roi. (She was the great-niece of Saint François de Paule by her mother, Magdelaine d'Alesso.) It is not Frédéric — nor, as we shall see, his sister Marie — who attracts our attention by popping up in the Guise circle: as the following genealogy shows, it is their in-laws who do so! In short, this genealogy suggests that not only Frédéric's blood relatives but also his in-laws and his cousins remained in contact with the Hôtel de Guise across the decades, and that as a bloc they could count on the benevolence of these princes and princesses.

To suggest how far this protective net could stretch, I have focused on the Alessos. There is no reason for a researcher who comes upon a reference to Jean d'Alesso's presence in the Guise household in 1671 to suspect that the young man's family had "belonged" to that princely family for a century. Nor is there any reason to think that young Alesso had long-standing links to the House of Orléans. Yet he did. By the mid-sixteenth century some of the members of this Italian family had settled in Blois, Gaston's estate. (We can therefore suppose that the Alessos were acquainted with the Grimaudets.) As early 1575 the Alessos became related to the Riants, for one of the relatives at a wedding was the widow of Denis Riants, the great-grandfather of Armand-Jean Riants, who commissioned an opera from Marc-Antoine Charpentier in the 1670s.  (To learn more about Riants, you may want to read: ). Another name that crops up, as if by accident, at the Hôtel de Guise during the years when Charpentier was composer for the Guises is Blacvod. Well, it turns out that M. du Bois, the intendant of the Guise musique had married a descendent of the Scotch physician, Blackwood, who had tended Mary of Guise's daughter, Mary Queen of Scots. We should not therefore be overly surprised to learn that in 1611 Olivier Alesso married Anne du Buisson, whose sister had wed "Henry Blacquevault" or "Blaquevot," who, as a docteur régent in the medical faculty of Paris, was continuing in the family profession.

I mention these apparently irrelevant links that cross the decades and resurface around Charpentier the 1670s, because these links suggest the existence of a long chain of fidelity that stretches from the Guises of the 1580s to the Guises of the 1680s — and that sometimes branches off towards Blois, the domain of the future Mme de Guise's father (who, you will recall, was Mlle de Guise's brother-in-law). Although this chain tends to lie submerged, it rises to the surface now and then, as it did in 1627 when Frédéric Versoris's grandson, François Vanel, was baptized. The godparents were "Marie de Lorraine, dite Mademoiselle de Guise" (she is Charpentier's future protectress, then twelve years old) and her oldest brother, François de Lorraine, prince de Joinville! Decades later, the Versoris-Alesso chain resurfaced again, this time at the Hôtel de Guise itself, where Jean d'Alesso — the great-grand-nephew of Magdelaine d'Alesso-Versoris — was, as the Dictionnaire de Biographie française puts it, "attaché à la personne du jeune duc de Guise, Louis-Joseph, et l'accompagnait en Angleterre" in 1671 (where Guise caught a fatal case of smallpox). [On the Alesso family: in addition to the DBF, see B.N., Dossiers bleus, 11, "Alesso," fols 2-3; Pièces orig., 33, "Alesso," fols. 2 64, 71; Carrés d'Hozier, 15, "Alesso," fol. 219, 230, 248.]

[Subsequently (Feb. 21, 2000) I found some helpful information about the Versoris clan in a bail (A.N., M.C., LXXV, 114, 17 January, 1662) by which Catherine de Versoris, widow of Antoine Vanel, rented to Nicolas Croyer, maitre sellier, lormier and carossier, and Jeanne Pijot his wife, the house they were living in, rue and parish of Saint André des Arts. Catherine de Versoris is the mother of the child baptized in 1627, whose godmother was Mlle de Guise; and Nicolas Croyer was a close relative of Etienne Loulié, one of Mlle de Guise's musicians. As Jean Mesnard pointed out, one rented houses to people whose family one knew and trusted.  Are we to conclude that someone in the Versoris-Verthamon-Talon clan recommended Loulié to Mlle de Guise? And does this make the possible cousinship of Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Etienne Loulié even more plausible?

By contrast, the descendants of Pierre de Versoris's daughter, Marie  de Versoris, lead us directly to Marie Talon-Voisin — and therefore not only to Marc-Antoine Charpentier and his family but to the nature of the protection that the Charpentier orphans may have received from the Voisin family during the mid- and late 1660s.

The "Monsieur de Vertamon" who discovered Pierre's Versoris's body in 1588 was François de Verthamon, who had married Marie Versoris in 1587. The couple had several children, among them a son, Pierre, born in 1614. He became a Jesuit. He is the "Father Verthamon" to whom I have alluded in several articles on Charpentier.

Although Orest and I failed to find Marc-Antoine Charpentier in the Jesuit archives of Rome, I remain convinced that Father Pierre de Verthamon, S.J., played a crucial role in his career. First of all, Verthamon had the requisite contacts to recommend Marc-Antoine to the Jesuit establishment in Rome. For, as an old genealogical record shows, Verthamon "fut longtems à Rome secrétaire du général, puis supérieur de la maison professe à Paris et estoit provincial de la province de France l'an 1679." [Doss. bl., 664, "Verthamon," fol. 3v] The archives in Rome (primarily the triennial catalogues) and Sommervogel show that these assertions are accurate. Verthamon became a Jesuit in 1631 and spent five years in Rome as substitute for the Assistance de France. We know that he was there in September and October of 1652. [B.N., ms. fr. 3922, fols. 31, 32] This evidence, combined with the Jesuit practice of reassigning posts every three years (the 3-year term could be renewed ), makes it likely that Verthamon returned to France in either 1655 or1658. In other words, his stay in Rome did not coincide with Charpentier's. Still, a letter of recommendation from Verthamon would have virtually assured Charpentier's access to Giacomo Carissimi, chapel master at the Jesuits' "German" college — and to the composers at the other Roman houses of the Company.

After his return to France, Pierre de Verthamon served as recteur of the collège at Bourges, then at Rouen and next at Orléans. Finally, circa 1672, he returned to Paris where he first served as recteur of the Collège de Clermont, and then moved to the maison professe at Saint-Louis where he remained there until his death in 1686. From circa 1669 until the 1679 —when he was appointed recteur at the collège of Rouen — Louis Voisin, Verthamon's Jesuit nephew, was in residence at the maison professe in Paris. With such "friends," it is not surprising that left-over pieces of  "similijesuit" paper stud Charpentier's autograph notebooks throughout the 1670s and 1680s.

As the above family tree shows, Father Louis Voisin, S.J., was the son of Pierre de Verthamon's sister Marguerite, who in 1612 married François Voisin, seigneur de la Noiraye. (Widowed in 1621, she remarried a very rich financier, Macé Bertrand the la Bazinière.)  She died in 1658. From this union came the two sons who have already been mentioned here: Louis, S.J., and Daniel Voisin who wed Marie Talon in 1650. Over the years the two Voisin sons provided important services to the House of Guise by acting on Their Highnesses' behalf to resolve financial squabbles. For example, in 1657, Mlle de Guise borrowed 12,000 livres from Daniel Voisin to pay the Grande Mademoiselle her share in the estate of her grandmother, the late Duchess of Guise. [A.N., M.C., CX, 136, rentes constituted in late 1657 and early 1658]. Years later, in 1679, Daniel Voisin was appointed arbiter to settle the estate of Mlle de Guise's late sister-in-law, the Duchess of Joyeuse [A.N., M.C., XCIX, 282, compromis, Dec. 15, 1679], while Louis Voisin helped her reach an agreement on how to employ the money her great-uncle had willed the collège in Rouen in 1617. [XCIX, 218, transaction, Sept 30, 1679 and XCIX, 283, constitution et rachat, Dec. 30, 1679] The fact that the earliest of these documents dates from four years before the Charpentier-Édouard marriage suggests the strength of the ties that had bound the Versoris-Verthamon-Voisin family to Guises over the decades. There were two sides to this type of bond: we see the descendants of old Versoris continuing to "serve" the Guises by providing them with ready money even though they know that the interest on the debt probably will not be paid; but in lieu of interest, they can count upon the protection and benevolence of these princes toward themselves and their friends.

It is for this reason that I have proposed, as a working hypothesis, that Mlle de Guise probably had learned of Marc-Antoine Charpentier's talents before he ever went to Rome circa 1665; that the future Mme de Guise's mother was likewise well aware of his talents; that one or both of these Lorraine princesses (working through the Verthamon-Voisins, among others) was instrumental in sending him to Rome; and that if Charpentier was given an "apartment" in the Hôtel de Guise upon his return from Rome, it was owing to an commitment that Mlle de Guise made to him (or to the Voisins) in the mid-1660s.

A nagging question remains: How and why did the really quite illustrious Marie Talon-Voisin become a "friend" of a maître écrivain and his children? I cannot answer that question. Can you? If so, I'd be pleased to add your observations to this Musing, in big red letters.