Panat in postcardThe Ranums'

Panat Times

Volume 1, redone Dec. 2014


Volume 1


Orest's Pages

Patricia's Musings



Musical Rhetoric

Transcribed Sources


Concerning the historical evidence that shapes "my views" of Marc-Antoine Charpentier as a faithful servant and eloquent musical voice of the Guises

Which leads to musing on some more over-arching questions:
What position did a composer occupy in a princely household?
And what role did he play in the prince's striving for glory?

(This Musing dates from circa 1985. Thirty years later, I dedicate it to the late H. Wiley Hitchcock, the musicologist whose comment prompted me to draft the following text.)


I received a note from a musicologist to whom I had sent an offprint of my paper on musical patronage, "Le mécénat musical de Mademoiselle de Guise (1670-1688)." (Marie de Lorraine, known as "Mademoiselle de Guise," was the last survivor of the princely House of Guise. She protected Marc-Antoine Charpentier from 1670 to her death in 1688.) This musicologist described the article as "a nice overview of your views on her."

I may be wrong, but does not the use of the expression, "your views," imply that any attempt to understand Mlle de Guise's patronage is suspect unless it is based upon a specific statement by Her Highness or a member of her household? I may also be wrong, but is this yet another example of the reticence that musicologists show when confronted with "views" rather than hard, cold facts?

It's an important issue! So I replied to this scholar more or less as follows, then adapted and refined my presentation for this web page; because I want the points upon which I base "my views" of Charpentier's career to be available, so that researchers can weigh the merits or the weaknesses of those "views" and either adopt them as guides for their own research, adapt them for their own purposes, or reject them entirely.

Much of what I write about Marie de Lorraine (and about Charpentier's position in her household) are, of course, my views on the subject. That is the best one can do, until a source has been uncovered makes a specific statement about this issue. Still, my views are shaped by readings in a variety of sources, a few of which allude specifically to Mlle de Guise, and these snippets permit me to sketch her personality. Saint-Simon describes her as "magnifique" (that is, willing to spend whatever it takes to measure up to or surpass expectations about how a person of her high rank should entertain or manage a household) and as "proud," just as all the Guises were proud. The Mercure Galant likewise describes her as magnifique — to the point that she created a musical ensemble equal to those at many of the smaller courts of Europe. She was also an astute observer of what was going on in the various courts of Europe: in fact, Jean-Paul Gondi, the Florentine resident in Paris, gave her opinion roughly the same weight as the observations of Renaudot, editor of the Gazette de France! After Marie de Lorraine's death, her écuyer Gaignières received condolence letters that paint her as a kind mistress but tending to be tight-fisted when it came to rewarding her servants. The memoirs of her niece, Mlle de Montpensier (who at the time she was writing these souvenirs profoundly detested her aunt), suggest that Marie de Lorraine was strong- willed, scrappy and ready to act to the disadvantage of her own niece in order to safeguard the Guise fortune and renown. The scattered autograph letters of Mlle de Guise, especially the ones she sent to Gondi in Florence (she had struck up a true friendship with him in the 1670s and 1680s when he was in Paris) show an intelligent, sensitive and amazingly unpretentious woman who was interested in every aspect of the arts, who was deeply attached to her musicians — and especially to M. Du Bois, their director — and who had become so devout that she refused to acquire paintings with worldly subjects. To this evidence can be added a mass of notarial documents from the mid-1650s to 1689. (Alas, Her Highness did not call in her notary and sign a contract with Charpentier that outlined his duties and her obligations.) Just at the time that Charpentier entered her household, she had finished spending huge sums to renovate the Hotel de Guise and prepare a career at court for her nephew and heir. (She managed to win the hand of Louis XIV's first cousin for the young man.) She was committed to paying off her profligate brother's debts; she set about creating pensions for former retainers who could not help themselves (but she clearly did not do this when the retainer had moved on to a more advantageous post or profession — as Charpentier did circa late-1687 — or had married or had no financial problems). She did a lot of good deeds, including founding hospitals in her lands, and public schools in her Parisian parish and in the principal cities of her duchy. Lastly, there is M. Du Bois' Epître to her, from which I have quoted briefly in several articles: he paints her as a generous patron of the arts who gave the requisite free time to the creative people who "belonged to her" (most of whom resided at the Hotel de Guise, in the three- or four-room apartments she had built in the long wing that stretched from the main building down to the stables).

From this evidence I have synthesized what must indeed be called "my view" of Marie de Lorraine as a protectress-patron. Until now I have not spelled out the underpinnings of this view in print, for in many ways Marie de Lorraine's conduct turns out to be quite ordinary and scarcely merits a place in a scholarly journal. That is to say, what I have learned about Mlle de Guise meshes with what is known about other high-rank 17th-century ladies who turned to devotion. Each woman is, of course, an individual; yet each fits the model of the devout woman who, in the depths of her heart and soul, has turned her back upon the "world" of the court yet, owing to her social position, must live in that "world" many hours each day and entertain her guests with all the lavishness that is expected of her rank. This sort of woman is described as considering her servants a part of her "family" and therefore as loving them as a strict mother loves her children and as spoiling them when they need spoiling or chastising them when they need chastising. Her devotion-centered "modesty" kept her from calling attention to herself. In a word, unless Marie de Lorraine was an exception — and none of the allusions to her piety suggest that she was — we can assume that she consciously was following the model sketched in devotional treatises of the time: the model of the devout high noblewoman who strives to serve God while neglecting none of her social responsibilities. This is the model that serves as a background for the piece I gave at Joinville — and, to some extent, for everything else I have written about Charpentier and Marie de Lorraine.

The musicologist who was weighing the merits of the paper I had presented at Joinville next confessed to being troubled by the fact that Charpentier's name was not mentioned in any of the descriptions of the lay or religious fêtes organized by Mlle de Guise — especially the Te Deum sung at Montmartre in January 1687, which I discuss in that article. In other words, my correspondent seems to have been having difficulty with my argument that the director of the Guise ensemble and her principal resident composer shared a very altruistic goal: to express the ideas that were in Mlle de Guise's heart and soul; and that the Guise musicians had a common mission: to be her voice lifted up to God in song. It is difficult for us in the 20th century to imagine the conventions under which a 17th-century composer worked — accustomed as we are to composers who are independent artists and who decide what they want to write next and then either select a text for which the copyright has expired or ask a poet to write a text for the occasion, in hopes of a favorable review in the press and an invitation to have the work performed in various concert halls. First of all, the subject of a work and its text generally were imposed on him by his superiors. (In a future Musing, I will argue that it probably was Du Bois who dictated which event would be celebrated in music and who selected or wrote the text.) The composer knew that a work probably would only be performed once, before a very small group of householders and invited guests. He also knew that, if any name was mentioned in the press, it would be Mlle de Guise's; and she surely knew that her name would probably not be mentioned unless she was honoring the king or one of his close relatives. In sum, the composer did not expected to be mentioned, nor did the conductor, the singers or the maître d'hôtel who prepared the reception that followed the musical event. This was the way society worked in the 17th century, so we must learn to let our expectations be shaped by the conventions of that time.

Information about these conventions is readily available to us, in several dozen popular 17th-century handbooks that discuss the obligations of nobles, their duties to society and to God and their responsibilities to their domestics and protégés. So popular were these little books that you used to be able to purchase for a few dollars in second-hand bookshops throughout France. Orest (my historian husband) and I have at least a half dozen of them in our library. Referring chiefly to these little books, and adding a few others that were on the shelves of the Jesuit college in Rodez in the 17th century (surely in the hope of inciting pupils to live according to these precepts) and now are part of the collection in the municipal library of Rodez, I will outline the broadly accepted 17th-century views that I try to make mine whenever I focus on the Guises as musical patrons.

First, a parenthetical remark: for 17 years, Charpentier had to cope with two patrons. In addition to working for the glory of Mlle de Guise, he composed for the king's first cousin, Elisabeth d'Orléans (known as "Madame de Guise" because she was the widow of Mlle de Guise's beloved nephew, the last Duke of Guise, who died very young in 1671). Mme de Guise was a sort of Janus: she spent half of each year at court and the other half in her duchy of Alençon. She spent roughly half the hours of each day living the sumptuous life of a royal princess, and the other half was devoted to prayer, meditation and caring for the sick. From 1675 to 1687, the sources show Mme de Guise dashing from Alençon or from Versailles or Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Paris for a day or two. No reason for this brief visit to the capital is usually given, but Charpentier's notebooks inevitably contain a work specifically intended for that week of the devotional year. It clearly was for Mme de Guise, not for the aging Mlle de Guise, that Charpentier wrote the courtly entertainments (for example, Orphée or Les Plaisirs de Versailles) that bear the names of the Guise musicians. In a word, just as they had done prior to the death of the Duke of Guise, after 1672 the two princesses shared Charpentier. He continued to live at the Hotel de Guise but he was always, so to speak, "on call" whenever word came from court or from Alençon that Her Royal Highness required a pastorale, an opera, a mass, a motet. Despite the disparity in their ages, Mme de Guise and Mlle de Guise had much in common: magnificence, pride, piety. Mme de Guise does appear, however, to have been considerably more haughty than Mlle de Guise, and she clearly lacked the natural charm that characterized the older princess. Indeed, devout though she was, Mme de Guise could be quite rude and was given to embarrassing faux pas.

Having closed that long parenthetical remark, I'll move on to what both Highnesses can be presumed to have thought about the role that music played in their social and devotional world, and about their obligations toward Charpentier and what he owed them in return for housing, food and protection. I will call attention to especially revealing statements by them in bold type.

A good starting point is Claude Fleury's Les Devoirs des maîtres et des domestiques (1688). Fleury describes the relationships between master and servant in the Conty household (which was as devout as the Guise household and was its approximate equal in the social hierarchy). Since everyone describes the two Guise princesses as models of propriety, we can assume that what was considered appropriate for the Conty household was appropriate for the Guises. The picture Fleury paints of the master/servant/protégé relationship shaped the picture I painted in the Joinville paper. Providence, he points out, has placed the servant in the master's household. Obeying the master therefore means obeying God. Conversely, it is the master's duty to be God's instrument on earth and see to the well-being of the servant's body and soul. The master is ensuring the servant's salvation by making sure that he or she is engaged in devotional activities of one type or another — for example, collecting alms or, in the case of the Guise musicians, composing a motet or performing it. Even more important, master and servants must work for a common goal: in the Guise case (says Du Bois), that goal is the glory of the House of Guise and the unity of the Church. Or, as Fleury puts it: "Ceux que la providence reünit, à servir dans une même maison, doivent tous se proposer une même fin, de concourir ensemble au bien de leur maitre ..."

In other words, one of the underlying premises in Fleury's handbook is that a householder must agree to be the master's instrument, almost as a devotional act, just as the master, by reason of his elevated birth, is Providence's instrument. Thus a servant cannot expect public recognition for his work supervising the preparation of a banquet (if he is the maître d'hôtel), the fine bouquets (if he is the gardener), the fine music (if he is the composer), the fine Latin texts (if he is M. Du Bois, who surely was also capable of writing French verse, for he was elected to the Académie Française circa 1690), or the silver platters and tapestries used as decorations (if he is argentier or concierge) — all of which contribute to the lavishness of an event sponsored by a great noble.

Fleury's position echoes the popular treatises on "courtesy" published earlier in the century by Faret, which described social behavior in general and the proper conduct for each of the levels of the social and courtly hierarchy in particular. (For a history of this literature of courtesy, see Maurice Maugendie, La Politesse mondaine, Paris, 1925, vol. I, pp. 305-385.) Irrespective of their social level, all the people I am studying were learning manners and/or coping with society in very complex ways during the 1660s — Charpentier as a talented orphan who had to make his way in the world and who risked disgrace if he did not know the proper way to address a parlementaire, a noble, a bishop; M. Du Bois as a country gentleman who had been engaged as preceptor to polish the social conduct and supervise the moral development of the young Duke of Guise; Mlle de Guise as a mature woman who was simultaneously acting as regent for her young nephew, settling her late brother's debts and establishing a lustrous court for the young Duke; and Mme de Guise as a hump-backed petite-fille de France who had been brought up to be an abbess but who had recently come out into the "world" where she was expected to play an important role in the court of her cousin the king and was therefore learning all the minutiae of court ceremony and protocol. It is reasonable to assume that the conduct of each of these persons would be influenced by the many vulgarizing handbooks that were presenting "courtesy" to the public prior to Amelot de la Houssaye's translation of Baltasar Gracian in the 1680s.

Here is what Gracian is made to say in Amelot de la Houssaye's translation, which is entitled L'Homme de Cour. Under the heading "Se garder bien de vaincre son Maître" we find: "Toute supériorité est odieuse; mais celle d'un Sujet sur son Prince est toûjours fole, ou fatale." (Charpentier would have had no trouble considering himself the "subject" of Mlle de Guise: having been given an apartment at the Hotel de Guise, he was now a part of the "house/household," the "family" of that princess, he "belonged" to her. And though Dassoucy called him a fol à plaindre,"was he "crazy" and self-destructive enough to "surpass his master"?) Calling attention to one's wit, one's skills, one's talents, in the presence of one's [social] superior is an offense, says Gracian: "Les Souverains le veulent être [le = want to be superior] en tout ce qui est le plus éminent. Les Princes veulent bien être aidés, mais non surpassez. Ceux qui les conseillent, doivent parler comme des gens qui les font souvenir de ce qu'ils oublient, et non point comme leur enseignant ce qu'ils ne savent pas," he continues. Extending this maxim to the relationship between artist and noble, one can argue that Charpentier and Du Bois would be expected to let Mlle de Guise or Mme de Guise think that she had come up with an idea — would, for example, find a way to let her propose that a pastorale, an oratorio, a setting of the new antiphon for the Mercy, etc., would add just the right touch to a social or a devotional event. Neither Charpentier nor Du Bois could permit themselves to appear to be the driving forces behind that artistic productivity. Thus it was essential that they not be presented publicly as playing a pivotal role in the Guises' musical devotions or fêtes.

Things worked quite differently at court, where the King and the Dauphin would appoint an officer or even give him his charge rather than make him pay for it — as Louis XIV did for Lully. If an appointee was successful, his success came as confirmation of the King's wisdom and perspicacity. But in a private household, such as the Hôtel de Guise or Mme de Guise's half of the Luxembourg Palace, the commitment between servant and "prince" was more personal: it was characterized by a symbiosis that was absent at the royal court (where offices were purchased) and in which, in return for food, lodging and a modicum of cash rewards, the servants were supposed to contribute to the creation of the master's glory, rather than be the proof of the royal's already acknowledged glory. In short, 20th-century scholars must beware of drawing a parallel between Lully's career at the royal court and Charpentier's activities in a private princely household. Lully could expect to be praised in the press, because praising him meant praising the perspicacity of the king. Charpentier could not expect to be praised in the press for serving the Guises, for that would detract from the glory that should accrue to his protectors.

During the performances sponsored by the Guises, a similar modesty was de rigueur. Woe be to the member of the musique (that is the term the French used to designate what we call a "musical ensemble"), the author of the lyrics or the composer of the music who called attention to himself. As we have seen, Gratian describes such conduct as "crazy" or even "deadly" to one's career. Another treatise, the anonymous Traité de la civilité (we own the "new" edition of 1750, but the original privilege is dated 1712) offers a few suggestions that twentieth-century egotists could heed with profit. Discussing the proper behavior to be observed in salons by guests, householders and so forth, the author writes: "S'il arrivoit que l'on eût de la voix, ou que l'on sçût joüer de quelque instrument, ou même que l'on eût le talent de faire des Vers, il ne faut jamais le faire connoître par aucune marque affectée: que si cela étoit découvert & connu, & que dans la rencontre on fût prié par une personne pour laquelle on eût de la déférence, d'en faire voir quelque chose, il est bon & honnête de s'en excuser d'abord; mais si elle ne se payoit pas de ses excuses, alors il est d'une personne qui sçait le monde, de ne pas hesiter à chanter, ou à joüer de cet instrument, ou à réciter quelques petits ouvrages de sa façon. [...] Et surtout il ne faut ni tousser trop, ni cracher, ni être trop long-tems à accorder sa guittare, ou son luth. Il faut bien aussi se garder de se loüer soi-même par certains gestes étudiés, qui marquent notre complaisance, [...] il faut aussi avoir soin de finir promptement, pour éviter d'être ennuyeux, & pour laisser, comme on dit, la compagnie sur la bonne bouche." In a word, total modestie first, and then a gracious but modest readiness to acquiesce rather than attract attention by reiterating one's refusal.

This brings us to the question of "civility" and what that word meant in the 17th century. It was civility that greased social relations in the France of the Grand Siècle. "Civility," says the above treatise, means to "se conduire chacun selon son age & sa condition," and to "prendre toujours garde à la qualité [that is, the social rank] de la personne avec laquelle on traite." Behaving according to one's age and one's position in the social hierarchy contributed to what was called modestie, "qui n'est autre chose que l'humilité." This humility, this modesty, was expected of both a great noble (a grand) and a person of truly "modest" origins. "Si cette vertue est bien pratiquée," asserts this treatise, "je dis même par les personnes de la première qualité, le rang que l'on tient, ou de la naissance, ou de la fortune, n'en exemptant personne: & les grands n'étant véritablement grands aux yeux des Sages, qu'autant qu'ils sont humbles & vertueux; si, dis-je, cette humilité est bien pratiquée, on pratiquera bien ces règles. [...] Cette vertu consiste non seulement à ne présumer rien d'avantageux de soi-même, mais aussi à préferer sur toutes choses la satisfaction & la commodité des autres à la sienne propre." As one might expect, the treatise draws a parallel between humility in social relations and the humility a Christian owes to God.

This did not mean that a grand who showed Christian humility and charity (as the two Guise ladies are described as doing) should not be concerned with glory (as both Highnesses indubitably were). Another handbook involving the Prince de Conty, Les Devoirs des Grands par Monseigneur le prince de Conty, et son testament avec l'oraison funèbre de ce Prince, par M. l'Evesque de Comenges (1666) adresses this question. The grand is born to rule, indeed must rule — and piously so — in order to accomplish God's will: "La Grandeur est une grace exterieure, que Dieu fait à quelques hommes qu'il éleve au dessus des autres pour les gouverner. Cette Grandeur n'est point donnée pour la personne qui en est revestuë, mais elle est toute pour les autres, & ce n'est qu'un moyen dont Dieu se sert pour attirer les peuples au respect necessaire, afin que les Grands executent avec plus de facilité & d'authorité, les fonctions de leur Ministere, qui est de gouverner ceux qui leur sont soûmis, avec pieté & justice; & Dieu leur demandera un compte severe de l'usage qu'ils one auront fait." In a word, the servant is the master's tool, but the master, the grand, is God's tool. As De Sacy's Traité de la Gloire (1715) asserts, on all levels of the social hierarchy it is desirable for a Christian to strive for gloire, glory; but an egotistic striving for glory is reprehensible.

By their birth, the grands of the kingdom possess gloire. Here is an especially revealing passage in De Sacy that suggests why Charpentier's name could not be linked to the Guises in the Mercure or the Gazette, and why the "glory" had to go to the Guises instead: "On conçoit par tout ce que je viens de dire, que la naissance, les biens, les places ne font point la gloire. Tous ces avantages sont étrangers à la personne. La fortune des ses jeux les distribue, comme il luy plaist. La gloire ne vient qu'à la seule personne [that is, from what we would call one's "character"], & n'est donnée que par la vertu. Les Grands, il est vray, semblent y pouvoir aller par plus de routes que les autres, parce qu'ils ont beaucoup plus de moyens de faire du bien. Leurs moindres actions sont celebrées, ils peuvent avec des vertus communes acquerir une gloire infinie; les plus belles actions des petits sont ignorées, ["ignored" in the sense of "not talked about"] & à peine avec des vertus extraordinaires peuvent-ils obtenir une grande gloire. Qui sçait les prodiges de valeur d'un soldat? perdus pour luy, ils tournent tous au profit & à l'honneur de son General." The parallel to be drawn between the simple soldier and his general, and Charpentier and his colleagues and the Guises is obvious: Charpentier, Du Bois and the musicians were the "soldiers" who did the actual work and upon whom the success of the battle depended, and the Guises were the generals whose names appeared in print — even though they had stayed safely on the sidelines. The glory of these musical "soldiers" came from demonstrating the "glory" of their noble mistresses.

Thus, for the "glory" of the Guises (and for the glory of the religious groups and the royals whom the Guises celebrated), it was essential that cultural events involving Charpentier and Du Bois and Their Highnesses remain exclusive! In other words, Charpentier could not expect to publish anything he wrote for the Guises, and he could only publish his compositions for the Dauphin if that prince so willed — which he apparently did not. (We shall see, below, that Du Bois published all his writings anonymously during Mlle de Guise's lifetime.) Let's return to Gracian who, under the heading "Ne se point prodiguer" (Don't cheapen yourself) writes: "C'est le malheur de tout ce qui est excellent, de dégénérer en abus, quand on en fait un fréquent usage. Ce que tout le monde recherchoit avec passion, vient enfin à déplaire à tout le monde. [...] A mesure qu'un homme excellent en savoir, en prudence, ou en probité se retire, il se fait desirer, parce que sa retraite augmente l'envie & le plaisir de le voir [...] d'où dépend la durée de la réputation." And Gratian makes a statement about artworks that can be applied to musical compositions: "C'est la rente [sic] des plus excellentes peintures & des plus riches tapisseries, d'être mises en vûe à toutes les grandes fêtes." (And indeed, when they hosted a fête, the Guises hung their famous tapestries along the walls of the entry court or on the façade or inner walls of a church.) "Mais," continues Gratian, "à force d'avoir des spectateurs, elles rencontrent beaucoup de juges qui en remarquent les défauts; d'où il arrive bientôt qu'elles passent pour des pièces communes." By keeping Charpentier's music exclusive, the Guises made it more precious, more desirable — and this rareness not only enhanced the glory of the patron, it increased the fame of the artist who had produced the music. By carefully declining to mention Charpentier's name, thereby forcing people to deduce that he had contributed to event, the Mercure and the Gazette made his music even more exclusive, even more desirable. This way of thinking, this way of proceeding is, of course, the antithesis of how we behave in the 20th century. How essential it is, therefore, that we begin to think as people thought in Charpentier's day!

And so, as my musicological correspondent pointed out, Charpentier's name was not cited in the long description of the fête at Montmartre published by his friends at the Mercure, who, the musicologist adds, had a "record of puffery of Charpentier." "Puffery" is scarcely the image one gets from reading the Mercure's descriptions of events in which Charpentier doubtlessly participated but is not named. Indeed, Donneau de Visé and Thomas Corneille, the editors, were very attentive to "civilités" and only mention Charpentier when civilité, as modestie, permits them to do so. The same is true for the Gazette. For example, Charpentier was not named in the Gazette in 1676, even though his Petite pastorale (H.479) clearly was performed during the festivities that followed the baptism of the Duke de Chartres and his sister at Saint-Cloud, the country house of the Duke of Orléans. Who is mentioned? Mme de Guise, of course — for she was one of the godmothers. And the "opera" was praised. (If, by chance, H. 479 was simply the prologue to a longer work by Guichard and Sablières, note that these householders of Monsieur were not named either.) Nor was Charpentier mentioned in the context of several processions for Corpus Christi at Versailles/St.-Germain/the Luxembourg. Instead, it is Mme de Guise or the Dauphin, his protectors, who receive the glory; but their glory was the reflected glory of so many princely moons surrounding the Sun King. Their glory was Charpentier's glory, if one will; but their glory was really Louis XIV's glory (or, in the case of the Dauphin, the heir apparent's glory).

Now, we have seen that Mlle de Guise and Mme de Guise were described as being truly humble and modest, yet magnifique — that is, they knew how to spend vast sums of money to please their guests or their sovereign, or to promote the unity of the Church and the extirpation of heresy. I could go on at length about the vie réglée they had espoused, which mirrors the precepts laid out in several devotional handbooks. (I may publish a Musing on that subject, for it is all written up and in my computer.) But that is another story, and too long to investigate here. If the princesses' piety plays a role, as I suggest it does in the Joinville paper, it is because their piety increases their modesty, their humility — and make it even less acceptable for them to be praised for the musical events they sponsor. Both the Mercure and the Gazette de France respect this striving after humility. In other words, Their Highnesses, like Charpentier, usually are not mentioned in the press as having been present at a musical event unless that event involves the King or the Dauphin — or, in the case of conversions, unless that event shores up the king's increasing fervor about bringing Huguenots back into the fold. At any rate, that is the picture that emerges when one reads every article that involves the Guises in the Mercure (which was, of course, dedicated to the Dauphin) and in the Gazette (which was created to inform all of Europe about the glories of Louis XIV and his court). There definitely was no "puffery" of Charpentier as composer of the Guises. And when one compares what was said in these two publications, with what was known about two Guise courts by the Italian agents in Paris, one realizes that very few of the Guise activities made it into print, and those activities inevitably involve the King, the Queen (Mme de Guise's very dear friend) and the Dauphin.

In summary: one should not expect to find Charpentier's name in the press unless it linked to an event that glorifies the King or the Dauphin (and that shows that Monseigneur has the good taste to protect a skilled composer), or to an event that has nothing to do with the royal family (the opera commissioned by Riants, Charpentier's miscellaneous airs, etc.— that is, events or artistic creations of people who apparently belonged to the circle of the editors of the Mercure). When one of the Guises entertains a social superior, she can, at most, be mentioned as being present — a detail that her friends surely understood to mean that she had contributed some or all of the music for the festivities — and the focus is inevitably on the King, the Dauphin, the Dauphine or the king's brother, Monsieur. None of the people involved, and surely not Charpentier and Du Bois, would have found this strange: that was the way the "world" functioned.

To return to the point I made to my musicological correspondent: for the Te Deum at Montmartre in 1687, which I discuss in the Joinville paper, it was Mlle de Guise and her great "generosity" to the King that were the focus of the lengthy article in the Mercure. In such a context, it would have been impossible, and quite imprudent (nay, impudent or, to use Gratian's terms, folle or fatale) for Donneau de Visé and Thomas Corneille to mention Charpentier, much less "puff" him. When the Mercure article is viewed from the perspective of 17th-century handbooks, one does not perceive that the composer's identity was really being concealed: if there was musique it had to have been by Charpentier. And so, although the Guise's principal composer was not named, he was being nicely, albeit subtly complimented by his friends at the Mercure.

I'm repetitious here, but I am very eager to drive my point home. I'm sure that virtually every connoisseur in the capital (and perhaps even in the provinces) knew that Charpentier was the principal composer of the Guises. Connoisseurs can therefore have been expected to understood this veiled text as alluding to Charpentier — as a compliment for his having proved worthy of so great a noble's protection. Put another way, whenever music was mentioned at an event where the Guises are named, their contemporaries took this allusion as a bouquet tossed Charpentier's way: his music was deemed so fine that it merited having attention called to it. Carrying this logic still further, having his name explicitly linked to the Dauphin in the Mercure was the consummate compliment to which Charpentier could aspire.

The above interpretation is based on more than the general evidence about how society behaved that I have cited above. It is also based upon the behavior of M. Du Bois, the director of the Guise music. Everyone who counted knew that Du Bois was Mlle de Guise's protégé, yet to my knowledge his name was not linked with hers in print during her lifetime. (This is, of course, exactly what happened with Charpentier and the Mercure: not until the issue that contains Mlle de Guise's obituary does the Mercure state — and in an article many pages later — that Charpentier had "composed some nice music for her.") Accustomed as we are to gossip columns and newspapers that flourish on breaking confidentiality, it is difficult to imagine a world where secrets could be kept: "everyone knew" something and could read complex messages between the lines, but the fact itself was never mentioned explicitly in print. (This sort of secrecy can still be observed in France: Mitterand's love child was only made public knowledge — in the press, that is — upon his death; yet the Ranums had heard hints about it for years. A similar thing happened for Mlle de Guise: everyone knew she had married secretly and had several children, yet that fact did not appear in print. The only allusions I have found appear in the reports of the Florentine agents and in the papers of the executors of her estate — plus a veiled allusion in one of Bussy-Rabutin's poems. The silence surrounding the Mitterand and the Guise children is a perfect example of "civility" at work!)

Back to Du Bois. During the late 1670s and the early 1680s, Du Bois published a half-dozen volumes of translations of Aristotle and Augustine, among them the volume published in 1684 that contained a long dedicatory preface to Mlle de Guise extolling her generosity to her protégés (and that bears the portrait of her that is reproduced in my Early Music article, "A Sweet Servitude"). Du Bois penned all these volumes in his apartment at the Hôtel de Guise; yet he signed them — even the Epître he addressed to Mlle de Guise — with asterisks: ****. Only after Mlle de Guise's death did he allow his name to appear on the title page of a new edition of the volume. For, as he says in the Epître, it is her glory that he is extolling, her generosity that made it possible for him to be creative — all in the name of God, the unity of the Catholic church and the glory of the Guises.


Readers interested in musical patronage are referred to a paper by Sharon Kettering on patronage. her this cheery tribute to Orest Ranum, Dr. Kettering, historian of clienteles and patronage, sums up the factors that governed the daily life, the career and the artistic production of a 17th-century protégé. As I listened to this paper, I kept drawing parallels with what Kettering was saying and what I have written about the career of Marc-Antoine Charpentier.