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Female Complaintes: Laments of Venus, Queens, and City Women in Late Sixteenth-Century France [*].

This essay studies a large repertory of French laments (complaintes) written in the voices of women. As a feminine counterpart to masculine love lyric, the complainte arose from an alternative poetics, treating subjects excluded from fin amors, such as death, crime, and war. Essentially, lyric assigned erotic longing to men and mourning to women. The unusual subject matter accommodated by the compliantes, coupled with a set of material and musical forms locating them amid the cultures of cheap print. psalmody, and street song, ultimately embroiled them in the battles of the religious wars. Thus female voices came to trumpet confessional politics in songs that levied lyric, gender, and faith to serve in civil war.

In 1553, the young French poet Anthoine Chasteigner died at the tender age of twenty-three, leaving behind a manuscript of Poesies francoises. His death occasioned Pierre de Ronsard -- that great luminary of the Pleiade -- to pen a monumental elegy in memoriam, a poem that reflects at some length on the meaning of poetry and writing. A central figure summoned forth in the poem is Elegy, which Ronsard personifies as a "larmeuse Deessee," her eyes bringing forth uncontrollable streams of tears as if the very moisture which defined the feminine state had overflown the boundaries of her body in elemental grief. Ronsard directs her to look upon the tearful Pantheon around her:

Voy d'autre part le Jeu et les Muses pleurantes,

Et de despit les trois Graces errantes

Comme folles crier, et Venus sans confort,

Toute pleureuse injurier la Mort. [1]

Sorrow dissolves the conventional postures of these goddesses, racking their bodies with sobs, contorting their faces with screams, and turning them into crazy women. Noisy, decomposed, they are the antithesis of the feminine perfection they usually project, made ugly from their excessive grief. Whereas lyric normally celebrates the beauty of women, in Ronsard's telling, death corrodes feminine beauty with a flood of tears.

Cupid flies with drooping wings, carrying his empty quiver overturned, his bow broken, and his torch extinguished (lines 13-15), and Venus, the goddess of love, castigates "Mort" for stealing away their sacred poet. Lyric poetry was the prime product of love, its mark and cultural expression, and the poet's death sours the font of love with acrid tears. [2] Even Ronsard's choice of verse form -- an imitation of the distichs Ovid employed in his elegy on the death of Tibullus -- turns against lyric, flattening the crossed rhymes of a sonnet, ode, or chanson into ponderous couplets suggesting the heavy progress of a funeral train. [3] Death produces a genre in which the symbols and forms of lyric poetry have gone awry, silencing the male poet, replacing his solitary voice with those of crying women, subverting love with mourning, and dissolving the tight forms of lyric into an open progression of ditichs. [4]

If death can, in this way, be said to reverse the conventions of Renaissance lyric, then certainly its most striking transposition is one of gender. Laments -- or complaintes, as many were called in France -- were often cast in the voices of women, who elsewhere remained silent objects of male desire. It is this body of female laments that concerns me here, for several reasons. Firstly, although female complaintes were ubiquitous in sixteenth-century France, they are not well-known to scholars. Most are anonymous, which has marginalized them in scholarship tending to prefer the works of known authors. Moreover, they appear only sporadically in written sources, for the complainte arose from an oral culture of song-singing. Yet in their oral forms, these songs abounded, travelling widely and sounding in an array of venues from court to urban theaters, bourgeois homes, and even city streets, transgressing boundaries of class and literacy with a fluency quite unlike that of the lyric being published by authors in the manifestly written form of books. The female complainte was part of a lyric "counterculture" that rubbed shoulders with the classicizing and writerly lyric being authored by poets such as Ronsard and against which the Pleiade poets sometimes defined their work. Secondly, this "counterculture" sustained an imagined community of women that one does not soon find elsewhere, women who speak to each other through song, commiserating and allying themselves with listeners. Mourning had long been a feminized ritual in the West -- a forum for women's voices in ancient Greek, one that persisted in the Renaissance, and one still evident today in many cultures around the world. [5] The complainte's particular combination of lamentation, female voices, and popular song forms marks out not just a poetics staked against normal love lyric both in gender (female) and in subject (mourning), but one emanating from a culture of song distinguished by a greater polyphony of voices, subjects, and styles. Finally -- and this b ecomes clear as my study moves back and forth between the song texts and the histories they are a part of -- female laments framed a set of values and behaviors for women with social, religious, and even political ramifications. It would be wrong to say that real women always speak in the female complaintes, for they are not necessarily the work of female poets, nor were they necessarily sung by women. But it is indisputable that a large number of women heard these songs and that the many women and men who heard them -- from kings and queens to illiterate folk in the town square -- likewise heard articulated in them succinct prescriptions for female behavior. My interest is not merely in their construction of gender, but more particularly in the way those constructs and the song form itself forged a sense of community and group identity that canny propagandists turned to religious and political ends.

LA DEPLORATION DE VENUS

Let us begin with the most famous female lament of its rime, Mellin de Saint-Gelais's "Laissez la verde couleur," a poem that recounts Venus's mourning at the death of Adonis. "Laissez la verde couleur" is arguably Saint-Gelais's most successful poem, for it was printed numerous times and set to music by several composers associated with the French court. It even became notable enough as a song that contemporary poetry collections published new texts modeled on it under the rubric "chanson nouvelle sur le chant Laissez la verde couleur." Thomas Sebillet cited it twice as a model of French verse in his Art poetique francoyse (1548), and Joachim Du Bellay denounced it in his La deffence et illustration de la langue francoyse (1549), furthering its notoriety among contemporary poets and connoisseurs. [6] The fact that "Laissez la verde couleur" became embroiled in poetic battles sets it apart from anonymous complaintes of the sort that serious poets paid little mind, but the courtly pedigree of Saint-Gelais's la ment did not prevent it from becoming popular in the sphere of anonymous poetry and song inhabited by the complainte.

The song's extraordinary appeal rests in part on its sharp rendering of two essential oppositions -- male/female and love/death. Saint-Gelais binds these pairs together with a riveting portrayal of Venus kneeling by Adonis's side, a scene that places their bodies side by side at center stage. In the opening stanza, Venus is told to leave her green vestments aside (green being the color of life) and to adorn her beauty with "new sadness," setting up a code of contrasting colors used to depict Adonis, who lies on the grass like a white rose torn from its stem (lines 37-40), and Venus, who touches his wound with her beautiful white hand as his blood stains the green grass red:

Autant de sang qu'il espand

Dessus l'herbe couloree

Autant de larmes respand

La povre Amante esploree.

Le sang rougist mainte fleur

Qui blanche estoit autour nee,

Et mainte est de large pleur

En couleur blanche tournee. [7]

Saint Gelais elaborates the theme of love and death by contrasting the hot and dry -- or fiery -- physiology of Adonis with the cold and moist properties of Venus, calling attention to the constitutions of men and women described in humoral medicine. [8] Women were believed particularly susceptible to grievous humors, but expelled them more easily with tears and moist secretions. Thus a woman's sweet-smelling sweat exuded libidinous desire, menses arose from her cold temperature (which prevented her from burning up excess blood as men do), and tears remedied her natural propensity for grief. [9] In the passage cited above, Saint-Gelais contrasts Adonis's masculine force (hot, reddening blood) with Venus's beauty (cold, bleaching tears) through conventions linking her beauty to water, as in the portrayal of her nude at her toilette in the Galerie Francis I at Fontainebleau and depictions of her watery birth. This juxtaposition of male blood and female tears is drawn out across lines 53-56, in which Saint-Gelai s recalls Ovid's tale that the blood of Adonis gave birth to roses. But these roses are flushed with his vital blood only temporarily, for Venus's tears wash the color from them, leaving them white and exhausted like Adonis's corpse.

The bath of tears, cutting sighs, and cries described by Saint-Gelais give substance to Venus's body in ways consistent with the usual objectification of the mistress in Petrarchan poetry, even though his description renders the statuesque beauties of a mistress's mouth, breasts, and other bodily parts regularly extolled in verse with unusual animation. Her palpable presence in the poem makes the text's dissection of Adonis all the more striking, particularly given how rarely love lyric objectified the male body. The vivid depiction of the wound in Adonis's thigh, the expense of blood, and his pale corpse reorients our gaze unexpectedly toward the male beloved and the unstoppable spill of hot, moist blood from his wound.

Only Venus remains to speak -- a situation not unlike that staged in Ronsard's elegy -- and her cries overwhelm the poem. Renaissance poets regularly troped poetic production as "singing," a convention evident in Horace's Carmina and elsewhere, in which love usually explains the need to write or "sing." In "Laissez la verde couleur," excessive grief elicits Venus's "complaincte mortelle" (line 11), which fills the valleys (and seventy-two lines) with unchecked lamentation. In the branches above her, forest birds assemble to sing of Nature's sadness. A tortured Echo responds from afar, and even the two white swans which pull the goddess's chariot sing "a pitiful song" as they finally spirit her away. Though framed by third-person narration, Venus claims the bulk of the poem with lamentation in the first person, a turn that not only attributes authorship to her but one that replaces the masculine desire initiating lyric production with feminine mourning. In this way, "Laissez la verde couleur" strikes a poetics of feminine grief that seems to encompass all that is possible in a love poem and negate it at the same time. The representation of song in the poem also establishes an occasion and tone for female speech that enhances Venus's beauty. Contained by the regular verse and rhymes of Saint-Gelais's poetry, her "complaincte mortelle" becomes an object of admiration, her voice a force of bittersweet persuasion, her tears the jewels of goddesses. She and her complainte are icons of feminine beauty.

LAMENTS AND UNWRITTEN MUSICAL TRADITIONS

Saint-Gelais filled his lament with musical imagery and a song-within-a-song intent upon fulfilling its mimetic promises in performance. He was a lutenist, poet, and singer, one of a dying breed of songsters adept at composing and singing poesie pour musique. Yet no musical compositions bear his name, and he never consolidated his poetic oeuvre, which survives in a scattering of courtly manuscripts and pirate prints. As we shall see, his mode of "publishing" his poetry rested sooner on singing than it did on writing down music or printing lyrics. Given that his greatest successes were songs titled "complainte" or "deploration," his work corroborates the conjunction I wish to elaborate between lamentation and oral repertories of song. And because the material evidence -- musical scores, printed texts, manuscripts, biographical and anecdotal information -- witnessing the circulation of "Laissez la verde couleur" is far more extensive than that for any other contemporary complainte, an initial survey of this evi dence can establish the broad reach of this relatively ephemeral genre. For the complainte seems always to have floated about in the unwritten musical repertory, and, during Saint-Gelais's career, its texts settled into print among the anonymous lyrics printed in pamphlets, little poetry collections, and even on broadsides. By tracing the reception of "Laissez la verde couleur" through its written musical settings and concordances in poetry collections, it is possible to ascertain the musical and poetic practices that shaped the complainte in late sixteenth-century France, to establish the cultural contexts of the genre, and to come closer to understanding who wrote complaintes and who heard them. From there, we can return to their poetry with a stronger sense of the modes through which their female voices reached listeners.

Saint-Gelais epitomized the skills most desired by French lyric poets at mid-century, for his ability to write poetry and sing it to the lute made him appear as a latter-day Orpheus. Trained in Italy, he began with law studies in Bologna and Padua but soon abandoned jurisprudence in favor of song, emulating the improvisors Serafino dall' Aquilano and Il Chariteo. Returning to France, he took up the position of maitre d'hotel to Francis I sometime around 1518 and served the Valois until his death in 1558. [10] Admirers touted his prowess as a poet and musician in one, maintaining that he was a "panepistemon" versed in universal science. "Of such as he you won't find thirteen in a baker's dozen" one curiously exclaimed. [11] As a poet, Saint-Gelais tended toward the straight-forward declamation and regular poetic forms that were hallmarks of poesie pour musique. From what we can discern of his music-making, he preferred balanced melodies and light accompaniments that would not mar the audibility of his verse. M usical settings of his poetry by contemporary composers suggest that he often used music that was already about, singing his poems to the bass patterns, dances, and popular tunes that were the lutenist's stock-in-trade. [12] Traces of these musical materials survive in polyphonic settings of his poems, such as those setting "Laissez la verde couleur," which harmonize melodies that may well bear some resemblance to Saint-Gelais's own melodic blueprint for the song.

As shown in example 1, the lament was set for four voices by Pierre Certon, and Jacques Arcadelt (see examples 1.a and 1.b). [13] It was also included in a monophonic chansonnier compiled by Jean Chardavoine (example 1.c), and a melody for it was penned into a poetry collection by an anonymous writer sometime after 1586 (example 1.d). Arrangements of it for four voices and for guitar (both based on Certon's setting) were made by the music publisher Adrian Le Roy, who placed it first in his prints, no doubt hoping to cash in on its great appeal. [14]

Most of the surviving sources relate to the melody written down by Certon, though the late version penned by our Anonymous bears some similarity to Arcadelt's melody as well. Certon and Arcadelt both knew Saint-Gelais and stood an excellent chance of having heard him perform the song. Certon was master of the children at Sainte-Chapelle du Palais and, as a royal musician, he doubtless knew Saint-Gelais well (he set eleven of Saint-Gelais's poems to music). Likewise, Arcadelt's employer, Charles, the Cardinal of Lorraine, regularly included Saint-Gelais in his musical and literary salon. Charles seems to have had a penchant for lute songs, a taste that may have inspired Arcadelt's settings of seventeen poems by Saint-Gelais, all as four-voice songs using tuneful melodies reminiscent of those Saint-Gelais might himself have employed when singing them. Indeed, Arcadelt's "Laissez la verde couleur" sets the first six stanzas of the poem in what is essentially a set of composed-out harmonic and melodic elaboration s on a single tune, a precious record of the kind of improvisations Saint-Gelais might have entertained as he repeated the melody over and over for the forty stanzas of the song. [15]

It is tempting to speculate upon which melody for "Laissez la verde couleur" was closest to Saint-Gelais's own. But by far the more interesting questions, it seems to me, are raised by the version of the tune that was penned into a little poetry collection printed in 1586, almost thirty years after the poet's death. The owner of the print, Le recueil de chansons nouvelles, wanted to sing a new song that had been written to the tune of "Laissez la verde couleur," which by then went by the alias "Le chant du bel Adonis." But memory failing him or her, our singer or a friend or teacher wrote the tune in the book at the bottom of the page as a reminder of how it went. This version is not a transcription from one of the five earlier printed sources, but a conflation and reduction of their essence resulting, I believe, from oral transmission.

Whoever wrote down this version of the melody seems to recall features that we find in both Arcadelt's and Certon's versions. The opening of Arcadelt's setting may have stuck in that person's mind: the rhythm matches, as does the choice of G with a flat as the mode, although Arcadelt's extraordinary beginning on A -- which is counterintuitive and hard to remember -- has been replaced with a plebeian beginning on G. Or maybe our anonymous remembered rise of the melody we see in Certon's setting, recalling its ascent through a minor third but not its beginning on the third scale degree of a piece in F. In any case, the manuscript tune slips away from Arcadelt's version and resorts to the melodic contours of Certon's, rising in the first phrase and dropping a third to the first cadence, a trajectory inverted in the second phrase, which descends and then rises to the medial cadence. Similarly, the rhythm turns from Arcadelt to Certon, conflating Arcadelt's unusual rhythmic opening with Certon's more even declamat ion. The corresponding rhythmic formulas shared by all of these tunes or "timbres" relate them to each other and perhaps to a declamatory formula employed by Saint-Gelais in performance. [16] Indeed, the rhythmic similarities between the anonymous timbre -- surely the most representative of the oral tradition -- and the versions of Arcadelt and Certon suggest that in some cases the rhythm of a timbre was less subject to distortion than its melody during its mixed transmission in both oral and written forms, which would make sense given the way the rhythm firmly hooks into the text. The narrow range of declamatory formulas is also particularly evident in the manuscript timbre, which wends its way from G to D in the first two phrases and from G to C and back in the second two, covering but a fifth in all. The wide range of the melodies written down by the polyphonists seems to shrink during a process of oral transmission or recollection that erodes extraordinary musical features and reduces the song to a little ditty in G that begins and ends in the same place.

The manuscript melody points up the longevity of timbres in the milieux where complaintes circulated. "Laissez la verde couleur" reached an apex of popularity at court right around 1549. [17] Here it is, penned into a recueil de chansons sometime after 1586, albeit as an aide memoire, but one presumably drawn from an aural recollection, not copied from a known printed source. Perhaps it was written down because it was falling out of the repertory. However, the tenacity of this timbre in the collective musical memory reveals the modes of a repertory that continually replenished itself through fitting new texts to popular tunes, a significant wellspring of the complainte, as we shall see. Ultimately, the anonymous timbre for "Laissez Ia verde couleur" stands less to confirm what we know of Saint-Gelais's own musical practices than it does to point away from the sophisticated minstrelsy of a Saint-Gelais and toward a simpler musical culture working with a clutch of memorable tunes, for as James Haar has shown, S aint-Gelais would probably have worked from a standard bass pattern, altering the tune extensively and perhaps beyond recognition, whereas the anonymous source suggests oral transmission of a definitive timbre that may or may not have been accompanied by a complementary bass pattern. [18] Certainly the lasting popularity of the timbre in the repertory of the recueils de chansons -- a popularity that far outstripped the longevity of Saint-Gelais's poetry in the polyphonic repertory produced at or near the French court -- demonstrates that the song had a long and independent life beyond his immediate orbit.

A performance of Venus's lament hints at why it was so popular. Taken at a slow duple pace, the song becomes a pavane, a dance of the utmost nobility used for solemn processions and for the entrance of kings and gods in masquerades. [19] The song's hypnotic repetition of rhythms and litany of forty stanzas further allude to forms of epic recitation and prayer. But "Laissez la verde couleur" never abandons a heightened musical rhetoric, for the rise of the melody to the exclamation "O princesse" followed by its circular descent throughout each stanza inscribes the whole with the sound of Venus's "piteous cries" and the inarticulate wailing of the forest birds, swans, and echoes surrounding her. Thus the song figures lament not only through the text's complex of symbols, but also through a musical mimesis of constrained wails. During the astounding forty years or more of the song's popularity, many women undoubtedly internalized the lesson in restrained expression taught by the song's musical repetition, short lines, and regular rhythm, even as they enjoyed the cathartic release from suffering made possible by the vividness of Saint-Gelais's text and the ecstasy that sometimes came from repetitive prayers.

COMPLAINTES AND THE CULTURE OF CHEAP PRINT

The musical character of the complaintes for which we have written settings strongly suggests that they were part of an orally transmitted repertory. To take some of the earliest examples of the genre, Guillaume de Machaut wrote eleven poetic complaintes, yet only for "Tels rit au main" did he write music -- a monophonic tune. This unique setting is probably explained by its source in the Remede de fortune (ca. 1340), in which it exemplified the form and musical style of a genre for which the melodies were usually held in the memory. The unwritten musical tradition of the complainte also explains why there are precious few polyphonic settings of complaintes, most of which are eulogies or deplorations at the death of a famous composer written in the highly polyphonic style of a motet and often with a Latin requiem chant in the tenor. [20] That is, most polyphonic complaintes were written by and for a small circle of composers. In the sixteenth century, as printing brought to the page innumerable texts which ha d theretofore been memorized, complaintes seem to crop up as a new musical genre, but one highly dependent on unwritten musical traditions and, to some extent, on the traditions of oral poetry as well. Mirroring the transmission of its timbre, the textual concordances of "Laissez la verde couleur" lead to the culture of cheap print in which complaintes thrived.

The print history of "Laissez la verde couleur" tells us much about Saint-Gelais's modes of circulating his verse at a time when younger poets such as Ronsard and Du Bellay began to see the advantages of printing their verse in single-author compilations and even took care to conceive of their work in form of books. [21] Saint-Gelais never bothered to issue a print of his complete works, but instead allowed his poetry to circulate in manuscript among courtiers and lettre's. Prints of his poetry were not of his own device, but were pulled together by editors who seem to have had no contact with him at all. The first edition of his "complete works," Saingelais, (Euvres de luy tant en composition que translation ou allusion aux Auteurs Grecs et Latins (Lyons, 1547), offers a case in point: despite the title's claims, it includes poems by other authors, and of the poems attributed to Saint-Gelais -- a mere fraction of those he wrote before 1547 -- many are spurious works. [22] Only three chansons from the Lyonnai s edition are included by Donald Stone in the new edition of Saint-Gelais's Qeuvres poetiques francaises: "Laissez la verde couleur," "Helas, mon Dieu," and "O combien est heureuse."

Two of these tides -- "Laissez la verde couleur" and "O combien est heureuse" -- raise a red flag for scholars, for they are among the list of chansons famously condemned by Du Bellay in La deffence et illustration de la langue francoyse as "mieux dignes d'estre nommez chansons vulgaires qu'odes ou vers lyriques" (114-15). The third song in Du Bellay's list, "Amour avec Psyches," was another lament on the death of Adonis by Pernette du Guillet published by Jean de Tournes in 1545. [23] The three texts Du Bellay cites were all renowned as songs, and all seem to have been sung to pre-existent tunes, either pavanes or galliards or the chordal progression Conde Claros, a bass pattern used by improvisers of epic verse. [24] Much has already been said about Du Bellay's citations and his polemic with Thomas Sebillet, in whose Art poetique francoyse (1548) "Laissez la verde couleur" and "O combien est heureuse" were each cited not once but twice. [25] This lengthy exchange need not be reiterated in full here. In the context of the present argument, however, it is well worth observing that when the Deffence was written, Du Bellay and Ronsard were virtually unknown and had published nothing at all. To attack "Laissez la verde couleur" was not just to attack a poem by the king's poet, but to attack a poem that had inspired at least one imitation ("Amour avecques Psyche"), had been printed several times, and was the song on everyone's lips. It is not just the song's stunning popularity, but the kind of popularity it enjoyed that helps explain the "vulgaire" epithet slung at it by Du Bellay. This was a genre of poetry that was creative of other verse, that was sung repeatedly, that hung in the air, and as such opposed the practices of the Pleiade poets with their highly literate elocution, writing, and authorship of books.

Was this a querelle between the traditional chanson and the classical ode, as Du Bellay suggests, or, more particularly, a querelle between the complainte and the elegy? "Laissez la verde couleur" was titled "elegy ou chanson lamentable" in Pierre de Tours's 1547 edition, and "O combien est heureuse" and "Helas, mon Dieu" were titled "complainte" there, titles that threw the classical elegy in among "vulgar" complaintes. Sebiller had included a chapter on the complainte in his treatise with examples by Clement Marot, and Du Bellay's failure to mention the complainte in the Deffence seems to be a pointed denial of a traditional form not unlike the chanson. [26] In definition, Sebillet's complainte differs little from a sad elegy of the sort being written by the Pleiade poets: it treats "lamentable material, which is most often unfortunate and inopportune death, sometimes amorous misfortune." [27] Although its form was variable, Sebillet recommends the same consecutive rhymes and decasyllabic lines we find in R onsard's elegy for Chasteigner. [28] To Sebillet's characterization of the complainte -- lamentable material, paired rhymes, and decasyllabic verse -- we should add strophic form, as it was the form regularly employed in contemporary complaintes such as "Laissez la verde couleur." [29] And here we should note the particular suitability of strophes for song (especially with the short lines and crossed rhymes that came along with strophic verse), which made the complainte a mournful counterpart to the cheery, musical chanson. The promotion of "classical" genres (ode, sonnet, elegy) in the Deffence and its rejection of traditional forms (formes fixes, epigram, chanson) could only go one way for the complainte, and we may fairly say that the introduction of the elegy in France eventually dismissed the complainte as a serious literary genre, but not without first complicating the distinctions between them for a time. [30]

Here we should note that "Helas, mon Dieu," and "O combien est heureuse" only came to be titled complaintes upon their publication by Pierre de Tours in 1547, a designation most likely added by Tours or Antoine du Moulin, the person who assembled the volume. [31] In the manuscript sources for Saint-Gelais's work, only the title of "Laissez la verde couleur" refers to the complainte -- "lamentation" -- and then in only two of the four manuscripts that included it. The other two songs are titled "chanson" or lack a tide altogether. Calling a song a complainte signified something in print that it did not in manuscript, perhaps registering a familiar genre for buyers of cheap print at the same time as it said little to courtiers used to collecting poetry in elegant manuscripts such as BNF ins. fr. 885, a gift from Henry II to Diane de Poitiers and a principle source of Saint-Gelais's oeuvre.

Complaintes were a staple in the repertory of cheaply printed poetry collections, and their broad appeal probably explains why "Laissez la verde couleur" provided the title of its first printed edition: Deploration de Venus sur la mort du bel Adonis (Lyons, 1545). Here the poem stood at the head of a melange of poems by Saint-Gelais, Pernette du Guillet, Bonaventure des Periers, and others, gathered together in an octavo print of just twenty folios. Few of the poems bear attributions and several are followed by an anonymous response, or poetic reply, written to the rhyme scheme of the original. The collective nature of the Deploration anthology, along with its anonymous and self-replicating poem-response pairs, indicates that from the very outset, "Laissez la verde couleur" was part of a repertory collected, recycled, and renewed in countless recueils de chansons. This culture of print privileged the lament to such a degree that the Deploration was expanded and reprinted in 1547, 1548, 1554, 1556, and 1561. A nd under the title of La Borderie's Le Discours du voyage de Constantinople (Paris, 1546) and the Livre de plusieurs pieces, which comes at the end of a re-edition of Le Discours (Paris or Lyons, 1548), still other collections assured "Laissez la verde couleur" of wide circulation during its first decades in print. [32]

The appeal of "Laissez la verde couleur" to pirate-printers lay in their penchant for contrafacts, or new song texts written to be sung to popular tunes. Cheap print promoted and sustained the production of contrafacts, which offered new songs to buyers without costly musical notation. Recueils de chansons merely placed a rubric before each text in the formula "new song [to be sung] to the tune of..." (as seen, expanded, in example 1.d). Not without reason were Lyonnais presses the publishers of virtually all the initial editions of Saint-Gelais's famous lament, for alongside copies of the Deploration, they churned out reams of cheap recueils packed with contrafacts. Indeed, "Laissez la verde couleur" was a favorite in the recueils well into the 1580s where it inspired numerous lyrics upon its timbre: "Dames qui au plaisant son," chanson sur la complaincte tie Sainte Susane quand elle fit a mort condamnee; "Las quelle fille je suis;" "Or oyez files oyez," chanson nouvelle d'une jeune fille [qui] pour avoir p rins son charnel desira mis a mort son premier fruict; "Un temps fut que je voulus," Le chant tie l'inconstant sur la deploration de Venus par Jacques Moysson; and "Fillez qui aymez honneur," chanson lamen tabk d'une fille tie Dijon contiamnee a mart par son pere. [33] The anonymous songs are traditional female complaintes on the reversal of love, in which women either lament the death of a loved one or express the sadness of rejection while their lovers are disposed to joy. [34] Jacques Moysson's complainte, by contrast, is written in the voice of a guiltless, inconstant lover, showing the other side of that gendered model. The success of "Laissez la verde couleur" in the recueils and the tendency to maintain the feminine voice and sad subject matter in songs modeled on it relates to the complexion of the recueils themselves, which offered unusually fertile ground for female complaintes.

Venus's lament shared its pages with Dido's lament transcribed from Ovid, a deploration for Lucretia, Medea's song of abandonment, the song of Susanna, and myriad songs in the voices of anonymous French women lamenting bad fortune in life and love entitled "complainte," "deploration," "les regrets," or "lamentation." Here we can see the confluence of the native female complainte with the laments of other classical heroines popularized through sixteenth-century editions of Ovid's Heroides. [35] The Heroides were first translated into French by Octovien de Saint-Gelais (Mellin's uncle) and published in 1500 as Les XXI Epistres d'Ovide, translatees de latin en francoys. Octovien' translation made available in French what was already Ovid's most popular work in print (over forty editions of the Heroides appeared between 1470 and 1500), and subsequent editions followed in Latin and in translation. [36] That these laments of famous women met with such success indicates not only that they fulfilled the expectations of a literate public already familiar with similar idioms from the indigenous complainte, but that the Heroides inevitably inflected the complainte, impressing its feminine voices and lamentation upon a genre already disposed to this particular conjunction of voice and subject matter. After Octovien de Saint-Gelais's translation, French readers could hardly have avoided associating the female complainte with the missives of Dido, Ariadne, and Phaedra. [37] Mellin's "Laissez la verde couleur" added Venus to the ranks of these famous heroines, who appeared in the recueils just as surely as they did in more elite venues.

The complainte was not just a mouthpiece for illustrious ladies, however. The anonymous laments cited above -- for instance, of the young girl from Dijon condemned to death by her father shown in example 1.d -- are also characteristic of the genre as it persisted in the recueils, which carried forth the fifteenth-century tradition of prose complaints voicing grievances of the menu peuple. Playing off the juridical sense of "se plaindre" (to register a legal complaint or object to a ruler's actions in war or governance), the anonymous voices in these complaintes emanate from the third estate. According to Daniel Poirion, "the political complainte marks the anonymous reaction of the people to great historical events: it generally expresses the suffering of those who have neither the consolation of glory nor material compensation to soften the hard reality of war" (415). [38] Also of a potentially political nature are the many complaintes lamenting the deaths of kings, queens, or noblemen. Usually cast in the vo ices of widows, these complaintes invited the country to weep with a queen or princess as she mourned a royal death, prescribing an official attitude and creating a sense of communal mourning.

The musical forms of the complainte contributed to its political dimensions, for in a culture accustomed to receiving information aurally, song communicated just as readily as town cries, rumor, bell ringing, tocsin, processions, and public sermon. Singing hymns and psalms helped the devout internalize Christ's teachings in private devotion, congregational singing, and even on the march, while the propagandistic songs posted on placards or printed in political pamphlets permitted those who sang them to rally listeners to their cause. Moreover, singing tuneful songs together forged community among the singers, for which reason psalms were at once a tool of Protestant conversion, a battle cry for militant Protestants, and a recognized threat to the peace during the French Wars of Religion. If the musical and material forms of the complainte permitted the genre to reach such a broad public, what cultural work did it do there and for whom? All songs offered a potential platform for moral and political views, and as a genre fed by the "misrule" of pirate printing, contrafacts, anonymity, female voices, death, war, and protest, the complainte seems eminently suited to the expression of unofficial opinions. And yet what we find in the female complaintes are prescriptions for women's behavior. A parade of mourning widows codify the virtues of tears and silence, sisterly advice is offered in sung tete-a-tetes," and women caught in besieged cities cry out warnings to avoid their mistakes. No longer a genre for serious poetic expression and hardly entertaining fare in the light style of other poesie pour musique, most female complaintes circulated a unique set of instructions in the troubling form of missives from desperate women.

DAMES D HONNEUR

The combination of political expression with a poetics of feminine mourning is nowhere more evident than in the family of songs written to the timbre "Dames d'honneur, je vous prie a mains jointes" that circulated in recueils de chansons in the 1570s. (See table 1 for a list of texts, and for the music, see example 2, p. 837).

Nine of these twelve songs are written from the perspective of women, and all but one pursue lamentable subject matter, making the group richly devoted to complaining ladies. One can rarely be certain of origins in this repertory, but the poetic model which likely parented the family was La deploration & regrets de Ia Princesse de Conde (Bordeaux, fol. 90r), for it predates all of the complaintes I have found on the "Dames d'honneur" timbre, and its first line is almost identical to the name of the timbre as it appears in subsequent recueils. [39] Certainly the opening stanza of La deploration & regrets de la Princess de Conde epitomizes the substance of a female complainte and strikes the tone shared by the other poems in the group:

Dames dames je vous prie a mains joinctes,

Avecques moy deplorez mes complaintes:

Car les regrets que j'ay dedans mon coeur,

Me causeront tout ma vie douleur. [40]

The Princess's lament decries the death of her husband, Louis I de Bourbon, the Prince of Conde, who was brutally killed at the battle of Jarnac fighting for the Protestant cause: unhorsed and with his leg broken, he was captured and shot in the back of the head by a captain currying favor with the Duke of Anjou. This breach of conduct in battle would give anyone cause to complain, but the Princess of Conde takes issue not with those who slew the Prince, but with his compatriots. Gaspard de Coligny, d'Andelot, and Montgommery are each accused of abandoning the Prince in his hour of need, after which the Princess turns her ire on Protestant ministers for luring him to their cause. "God permit me vengeance upon these evil ones who have ruined France -- alas, they are the cause of my great misery." The pro-Catholic bent of this plaint not only buries the horrible immorality of Conde's murderers, it enjoins other noblewomen to lament the troubles perpetuated by Protestantism and ends by begging God to aid the kin g in vanquishing the misbelievers.

Obedience to the king and the Catholic faith are the prescriptions made in this gritty song, whose invectives and lust for revenge set it apart from the songs that came after it, even though their messages overlap. Of the new texts written to be sung to "Dames d'honneur, je vous prie," three are written in the voice of ladies at court (the "Dames" of the timbre) and they are more representative of the general images and tone of the whole family of songs. Let us turn to Elizabeth of Austria's lament at the death of her husband, Charles IX (d. 1574). This song, "Helas faut-il, faut-il que je lament," will serve as a foil for a general exploration of the conventions structuring royal complaintes. The title introduces Elizabeth in the manner of an archetypal widow who is "very virtuous" and sings of her "painful regrets and lamentable tears" (see table 1). She mourns the untimely passing of the king, who died in the flower of his youth, and she curses the Fate Atropos for bringing an end to their "jeunes ans" of marriage. Like Venus at Adonis's side, Elizabeth eventually begs for death as a release from her suffering:

Sus sus mes yeux ne sechez je vous prie,

Dames d'honneur plorez je vous supplie

Je n'en puis plus o Dieu le coeur me faut:

O dure mort prens moy je ne me chaut.

Plus de plaisir je ne prens en ce monde

Puis qu'ay perdu de toutes fleurs la bonde,

Puis qu'ay perdu la fleur des bons Francois,

Helas je veux mourir a ceste fois.

(Jardin, 4) [41]

Elizabeth suffers uncontrollable tears, tears long emblematic of widowhood for French queens. Catherine de' Medici so deeply mourned the death of Henry II in 1559 that she changed her coat of arms to feature a pile of quicklime upon which tears were falling with the words: "Adorem extincta testantur vivere flamma / Que la force d'amour dedans nos coeurs empreinte / Vit d'un brasier secret, quand la flamme est eteinte." Quicklime was poured into graves in order to decompose bodies more quickly, and it had the peculiar character of smoldering when water fell upon it. Thus Catherine's device signified that the flames of her true love for the king would jump forth from hidden sparks as her rears fell upon the quicklime even after his life had been extinguished. [42] Her rain of tears was thus claimed as more than metaphorical, showing how efficacious crying could be. Louise de Lorraine, the widowed queen of Henry III, passed the final years of her life in perpetual mourning, her bed chamber at Chenonceaux adorned with black draperies embroidered with silver tears, a portrait of Henry, and a small altar (see fig.1). [43]

This emblematics of water and regal tears rested upon a long tradition. Marguerite d'Autriche (1480-1530) was twice widowed by the age of 24 and chose "Fortune infortune fort une" (Fortune makes one very unfortunate) as her motto: the polyphonic songs in her chanson albums touch again and again on tragedy and misfortune. [44] Even earlier, the Duchess of Orleans had taken a "chantepleure" or watering can as her device to signify her grief when her husband was murdered in 1407, an emblem still remarked upon in the late sixteenth century by Pierre de Bourdeille de Brantome in his Recueil des dames (38-39). Brantome also waxes eloquent over Elizabeth of Austria's mourning, insisting that her religiosity and sadness were of the most genuine variety, "not like a desperate and deranged woman, making loud cries, tearing at her face, and pulling out her hair, nor imitating the woman that one lauds for crying." Rather, Elizabeth cried softly:

jettans ses belles et precieuses larmes si tendrement, souspirant et si doucement et bassement, qu'on jugeoit bien en elle qu'elle se contraignoit en ses doulleurs, pour ne faire accroire au monde qu'elle ne vouloit faire la bonne mine et beau semblant (ainsi que j'en ay veu faire a plusieurs Dames), mais n'en laissoit pourtant sentir en son ame de grandes angoisses. Aussi un torrent d'eau qui est arreste est plus viollant que celluy qu'a son cours planier. (Brantome, 498) [45]

It is fruitless to think of measuring the authenticity of Elizabeth's tears. Crying was the commission of bereaved princesses and queens, whose images were so highly constructed that they became veritable icons of mourning fashioned after "amantes esplourees" like Venus. Brantome's insistence upon the quiet warmth of Elizabeth's tears differs little from other Renaissance conventions of representation. Just as we find that every dedicatory epistle was offered by an "undeserving" poet, every king depicted as a conquering Caesar, and every sonnet cycle inspired by an exquisite Madonna, so one defining quality of widowed French queens was pious tears. One need only consult the other biographies in Brantome's Recueil des dames, where he devotes page after page to description of their watery prayers and laments to see how unfailingly a queen's conduct at the moment of her husband's death crystallized her public image. All faces turned to hers and assessed her virtue, sincerity, and sagacity according to the qualit y of her lamentation and the quantity -- always decorous -- of moisture clouding her eyes. Small wonder that Elizabeth cries out in her lament "Come, come, my eyes, do not dry, I beseech you."

Not only was the queen expected to cry, she called upon her court of ladies to weep with her. Elizabeth's dames d'honneur must take up her lament, keening like Ronsard's chorus of Muses who rain down tears in the elegy we visited at the opening of this essay. Catherine de' Medici surrounded herself with a retinue of some three hundred noble ladies who attended her at Fontainebleau, the Louvre, and when travelling through France. [46] Her cortege of ladies "appeared as Goddesses," making the court "a true Paradise on earth and school of all honesty, of virtue, and the ornament of France." [47] In very real ways, then, Elizabeth's mourning would have been amplified by the many "larmeuses deesses" at court. Recalling the incipit of the original poem in line twenty-two of the complainte, Elizabeth implores "Dames d'honneur, plorez je vous supplie." Given the thematic consistency of the Dames d'honneur contrafacts, we can assume that all of these songs call in some way upon a community of honorable women to join t heir voices in lament.

With Charles on his deathbed and her handmaidens stitching together the snow-white widow's weeds of French queens, Elizabeth performed her other primary obligation: she prayed.

Helas bon Roy la fin de ta vie

Tu m'appellas, dont de pleurs j'eux envie.

Las tu me dis dame de coeur tresbon

Priez mon Dieu & luy faites oraison.

A l'heur mesme me suis agenouillee

En souspirant estant toute esplouree

Ou est le coeur, ou est le coeur Francois,

Qui ne plorast mon Charles de Valois.

(Jardin, 5-6) [48]

As her tears were exemplary, so were her prayers. According to Brantome, Elizabeth had never displayed her faith with excessive and extrovert acts, but would usually pull the curtains of her bed closed in the morning, kneel down in her nightshirt, and pray for an hour or so, beating and mortifying her chest with great devotion (497). Brantome tells us that during Charles's illness she covertly shed "tender and secret tears" at his bedside, torturing herself that he should not discover her sadness and praying for his health (498).

Prayers did not save Charles's body, but they may have saved his soul. And given the commonplaces of Renaissance piety, more prayers were always more effective. At a time when an ordinary will might endow the services of fifty clergymen to say a requiem mass based on the logic that the more priests who prayed, the greater the benefit, it was certainly expected that the whole of France would mobilize to pray for the king's salvation. Elizabeth's lament thus begins by asking ladies for their prayers -- many believed that women's prayers were particularly effective -- and then it expands its compass to include every French "heart" in her tearful pater nosters. So, too, Henry III's lament under the sign of Dames d'honneur asks the whole of France to lament the commencement of the fifth civil war -- "Alas! my people, help me at this hour to lament for the evil of which I cry" -- using the timbre's stock of mournful associations to beg for peace.

As Catherine de' Medici before her and Louise de Lorraine after her, Elizabeth retreated to her chambers for prayer and the consolation of doleful songs after her husband died. The closing stanzas of her deploration picture her in a dark and solitary state, singing:

Elizabeth veuve de companie

Comme le signe chante en melodie,

Dedans la chambre obscurcie de douleurs

La ou tu fais mille regrets & pleurs.

Dieu t'aydera noble Royne tres sage

Ce monde cy n'est qu'un petit passage

Partant o Royne merites vostre coeur,

Mais l'adoucir au lieu de la rigueur.

(Jardin, 5) [49]

Like the swan which, filled with divination at the moment of departing, foresees and expresses in melodious song what goodness there is in death, Elizabeth "sings" as her king's spirit quits the earth. The allusion to the swan also refers to Charles' kingship, for swans were the bird of Apollo. [50] Elizabeth vocalizes Charles's swan song, a singing that is all the more striking given her paradoxical solitude and the continual references by Brantome to her "quiet and low sighing" and "secret tears." Elizabeth, we will recall, does not shriek and tear at her hair like other women. Rather, a silence enshrouds her behind which a soft lament is sung. The very real cloistering of royal widows -- Catherine de' Medici retreated to "a room hung entirely with black sheets so that not only the walls and windows but the floor as well was covered with them" -- was matched by a physical and psychological veiling of the body. Catherine wore "a thick black veil which enveloped her head and even covered her face," making it almost impossible to hear her feeble and emotional voice. [51]

Just as Elizabeth prayed with her bed-curtains drawn, so we sense in all of these descriptions and in her deploration a tension between song and seclusion, between this very audible lament that might have been sung by her ladies of honor and the silent grief befitting a queen. "Helas faut-il que je lamente" portends a negotiation between her inner life and the outer world, ventriloquizing the grieving queen's voice from within a personal vigil maintained in decorous silence out into the public sphere where it sounds in the highly conventional language of the complainte. [52]

Along with the poetic conventions that insured the reiteration of topoi such as profuse tears, song-like lamentation, and prayer, the complainte had a host of more mechanical conventions that regulated its musical forms, its performances, and its dissemination. Let us recall that this song circulated in a tiny printed poetry collection entitled Le plaisant jardin des belles chansons. It would have been sold on the street by travelling vendors for a sou -- approximately the price of a pound of meat in those days -- along with other petty goods such as the mirrors, ribbon, cheap engravings, combs, and buttons in which such vendors trafficked. [53] Its performance would have been dictated by the musical practices concomitant with its memorized timbre and could have ranged from a street song accompanied by a strummed guitar or a private performance of it at home to a lavish production of the song by the king's band of violins. In short, the minstrelsy indicated by the musical forms of Le plaisant jardin and othe r recueils de chansons was not limited to either the courtly or the urban sphere any more than the content of the song itself strictly implies a courtly audience.

The publication of songs, pamphlets, and engravings commemorating the death of a monarch was thoroughly commonplace at the time. Indeed, Elizabeth's lament may have been inspired by a number of earlier prints. Benoist Rigaud had cornered the market for cheap print in Lyons, and he produced a variety of little books including official edicts, romances, books for craftsmen, poetry (he printed an edition of Saint-Gelais in 1582), and our recueils de chansons. Amid this mix of government documents and books for entertainment, Rigaud became a principal printer of material memorializing events in the lives of the royal family. Thus it is unsurprising to find the slight eight-folio volume Les regrets et complaintes de tres illustre Princesse Elisabeth d'Austriche sur le trespas & enterrement du Roy Charles neufiesme de ce nom, son espoux amid his output for 1574. [54] The same long, non-stanzaic complainte was also published in Paris by Pierre des Hayes and in Rouen by M. le Mesgissier the same year. It is more pro saic than poetic and was probably not meant to be sung, its couplets of long alexandrines extending the bitter and poignant lines recommended by Sebillet to heroic lengths (179). Thus complaintes both sung and unsung fed the need for printed memorials of a king's death. One explanation for the interest in Elizabeth's regrets and complaintes might rest on the fiction that Charles died of an unnatural melancholy which seized him following the gruesome Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre some twenty months before. To grieve with the queen, then, was to mourn the death of the king's body owing to a wounding of the body politic. Given this, Elizabeth's complaintes may have been heard as laments both by France and for France, a doubling of the usual understanding of the King of France as synonymous with the country itself.

Highly constructed representations of the queen's voice in poetic lamentations played a critical part in French commemoration. Yet chances are good that la royne neither wrote nor sang this song. Poets penned funeral orations, consolations to the bereaved, elegies, epitaphs, and other verse in these circumstances, and even when the text of a complainte is explicitly attributed to the queen, we must be wary. Brantome, for example, tells us that when Francis II died in 1560, Mary Stuart herself wrote the song "En mon triste et doux chant" owing to her extreme pain and sadness (75-77). But the eleven stanzas that Brantome quotes are nothing less than a lightly reworked version of stanzas six through sixteen of his own Chanson pour la Royne d,Escosse portant La dueil. [55] The claims of authorship and the commission of the court poet intersect in peculiar formations around occasional verse, which always held an uncertain position among a poet's oeuvre. Unknown hands produced Elizabeth's lament, the Regrets des Pr incesses & Dames de La Court sur decez de tresillustre Princesse, and the Derniers propos de haulte & vertueuse Princesse madame Claude de Valois in which the Duchess of Lorraine laments her own death, but we must presume that professional poets wrote them, either court poets such as Ronsard and Brantome, or now-anonymous poets who worked directly with printers. [56] The Princess of Conde's lament was probably written by someone like Christophe de Bordeaux, who, judging from his other publications, specialized in pro-Catholic pamphlet literature.

As this lament drew ever-widening circles from its ostensible source at court, it must have been appropriated in countless ways. Our earliest source of "Helas faut-il" was published in 1580, years after Elizabeth returned to the imperial court of her father, Maximilian II. As a tribute to Charles IX, its publication seems very late. But as a song of nostalgia or a general deploration, it may have been quite timely for many readers and listeners. There was much to lament in Lyons in those years, deaths close to home, the rise of the fanatical Catholic League, and the famine and disruption of commerce brought on by war raging within the city itself and nearby: the fifth civil war in 1575-1576, the sixth civil war in 1577, peasant revolts in neighboring Dauphine, and the seventh civil war in 1580. [57] The stock formulas of pious lamentation structuring "Helas, faut-il" left much room for the creation of new meanings by those who sang and listened to it, and its iconic tears and prayers sustained a virtual requi em liturgy that probably sounded familiar and timeless to empathetic audiences.

POLITICAL COMPLAINTES OF CITY WOMEN

If the mortifications of the Valois held a civic, personal, or even voyeuristic appeal, the grievances voiced in songs like the Complainte des Dames de la vile d'Yssoire, La douloureuse complainte des dames tie La Rochelle aux soudards du camp du Roy, and the Deploration des Dames de la vile de la Fere, tenues forcemens par les ennemies de la Religion Catholique must have struck a large audience as extremely relevant. Here, women's voices register war crimes such as pillaging, rape, hanging, drowning, and infanticide, religious intolerance, and horrific sieges that brought bombardment, famine, disease, and even cannibalism. [58]

All three of these Dames d'honneur songs are written from the standpoint of women who have been forced, either through the occupation of their city by Huguenot forces or through the ill-considered choices of their husbands, to submit to the Protestant heresy. They speak from behind the lines to warn other women against allying with the enemy, their songs in counterpoint with other royalist, Catholic songs in the same recueils. "Take heed, women of other towns," the ladies of Issoire warn, "abandon your worldly goods and your friends -- don't put yourselves in the hands of the enemies" (Fleur, fol. 13r).

The modest town of Issoire sat in the Auvergne along a tributary of the Loire, nominally protected by medieval walls and renowned for its excellent wine. It had been ceded to the Protestants in the peace edict of May, 1576, and was one of the first Protestant strongholds to be attacked when hostilities were renewed in the spring of 1577, falling a month after La Charite as Catholic forces led by the dukes of Anjou and Nevers swept south along the Loire. [59] The song "Si jamais fut telle pitie au monde" appears to have been written in the aftermath of those battles. According to the lyrics, rebels named Merle and Chavignac -- most likely local nobles -- governed the town for three years, taking the citizens' money with promises of defending them and then abandoning them as the royal troops approached. Merle fled to the safety of a chateau. The townspeople scattered and perished in the conflict. The women sing:

Ouyrons nous, nous sommes vagabondes

Parmy les bois courons comme les ondes,

He Dieu, he Dieu, aye pitie de nous

Compaignes sommes ores avec les loups.

Nous avons veu d'une pauvre maniere

Maris pendus, noyez dans la riviere,

Enfans tuez, he mon Dieu quel horreur,

A deux genouz nous te prions Seigneur.

(Fleur, fol. 12r) [60]

The song cautions others to beware such treacherous tyrants, preaching its negative example to distant congregations of the faithful. But it does more, for it makes the practical recommendation that if heretical forces threaten, a woman should take her family and flee rather than stay in a Protestant enclave. The story told by the women of La Fere in "Sus sus regrets sortez de nos poitrines" is but a variation on this theme. Like Issoire, La Fere was a walled city occupied by the Protestants and besieged intermittently during the 1570s. It fell to the king's troops commanded by Jacques de Torigny, Marechal de Matignon in January of 1580, a victory celebrated in the first song of the Nouveau recueil des chansons (Fere). "Sus sus regrets" is the second song in that collection, and together they pair two genres of persuasion, the first heroic and bellicose -- Matignon ran his opponents through like Hercules, the opening song recounts -- the second lamentable, told from the losers' perspective. This opposition be tween Catholic triumph and Protestant defeat may likewise go some way toward explaining the opposition of masculine and feminine voice underscoring it in these songs. The ladies of La Fere describe the atrocities committed by the Huguenots who seized their town: their husbands were sent to guard the ramparts while the commanders defiled them; their food and wealth were stolen by the invaders; and they were prevailed upon daily to attend reformed services. Those who resisted were expelled from the city to wander the countryside, poor, ill, and dying, only to end by paving the roads with their own bodies.

"Pleurons pleurons Dames de la Rochelle" strikes a slightly different tone from the other two songs owing to the fact that La Rochelle, though heavily besieged at various times after its capture by the Protestants in 1568, withstood the sieges leveled against it. The ladies of La Rochelle reside within the very bastion of Protestant resistance. The citadel's thick walls and the proud towers of this fortified port on the Gulf of Gascogny stood for the Protestant cause, and with an avenue to the sea and England, it remained well defended. This song emerges as if from the wrongly imprisoned, the women pleading their innocence and bewailing the day that ministers converted so many of the townspeople to Protestantism. After the reformers, it is their own husbands on whom they lay blame:

Las nos maris ont este tant follastres,

Tant obstinez & tant opiniastres:

Mieux ont aime desobeir au Roy, Que renoncer a la nouvelle loy.

(Jardin, 69-70) [61]

The women are trapped with false preachers and fated to live under bombardment and assault. Yet while they regret living in a Huguenot stronghold, they are equally cognizant of the perils should the king's troops force the barriers. From this dilemma arises the most poignant and complex stanza of the song:

Soldats du Roy, quand vous prendrez la ville,

Sauvez l'honneur des femmes & des filles,

N'offencez pas les petits innocens,

Ils ne sont pas du nombre des meschans.

(Jardin, 71-2) [62]

This stanza passively sacrifices the adult male community of La Rochelle while pleading clemency for the women and children. But is it credible? While cases certainly exist of women disowning their husbands to save themselves, the sentiments expressed here sound flat and unauthentic, lending credence to the notion that the first person in many of these songs is uttering moralizing lessons for a somewhat voyeuristic Catholic public. The song indulges in a species of sensationalism common to pamphlet literature and "canards" that report the births of monsters or make prognostications based on comets, a tabloid journalism carried on in the complaintes and stories of crimes hawked by "marchands des complaintes" in city streets and squares. [63] Its closing, especially, presupposes a crowd of listening ladies to whom the Rocheloises bid adieu at the end with a moralizing tone: "adieu o dames estrangeres, ne soyez pas comme nous ...."

Many of the tropes deployed in Elizabeth's lament are taken up in these political complaintes as well: the city ladies shed copious tears, pray to God, swath themselves in the colors of mourning, long for death, and even beg Echo to take up their cries. Crying is a virtual refrain in "Pleurons pleurons Dames de la Rochelle," where the lament that begins locally expands at the end to include ladies in other towns: "Ladies of honor and virtuous girls, cry, cry for our burdensome pains, cry for the troubles of our shocked hearts..." (Jardin, 72). Just as Elizabeth asks her cortege of ladies to cry with and for her, so the ladies of La Rochelle call upon "dames estrangeres" to lament their suffering. Likewise, the ladies of La Fere end their song with "oh lady of France, cry, cry, and our affliction will make you have compassion for us" (Fere. 13).

The sisterhood of France may weep compassionately, but redemptive pity and aid can only be granted by God and the king, to whom many supplications are made in standard language and in a confessional tone: "Oh God, have pity on us" (Fleur, fol. 12r); "we pray to God the almighty father to help us" (Fleur, fol. 13r); "we accept that we will die in this place if the King does not pardon us from pity" (Jardin, 71); and so forth. The women speaking in the songs acknowledge that they have strayed from the ways of God and the king, and while they claim to be but "foibles femmelettes" who were forced into heresy, they are still ready to accept their punishment. The rhetoric of communion and noble supplication are, of course, at work here, but this only strengthens the authoritarian message in these songs -- a message bringing them in line with propaganda such as royal decrees that would have been publicized "a haute voix" in town squares or with Catholic preaching in and out of church.

Nonetheless, the conceits of lamentation predominate in these songs, balancing each narrative and its propagandistic turns with the conventional language of the complainte. The opening stanzas of the Deploration des dames de (a vile de la Fere beautifully illustrate how dependent these political songs are on the same stock images deployed in funereal and amorous complaintes:

Sus sus regrets sortez de nos poitrines,

Pour discourir nos douleurs & ruines,

Et qu'un escho, plorant nostre soucy,

Soit entendu par tout ce monde cy.

Que nos deux yeux soyent deux mers & fontaines

Tesmoings certains de nos ameres peines,

Pour de nos pleurs esmuouvoir l'univers,

A la pitie, oyant nos tristes vers.

Que nos beaux jours ne soyent rien que tenebres,

Nos chants communs, que mortelles funebres,

Sans que jamais, voire dans le circueil,

On puisse voir amrortirmostre doeuil.

(Fere, 9) [64]

The writing expands the tears and cries of mourning outward, turning tears into fountains and seas, sending the lament out to "tout ce monde" in echoing reverberation, and moving the universe to pity with the sad song. By stirring the cosmos, the song implies that its performance might mimic this celestial effect on earth, rousing listeners to compassion. The neo-Platonic effects of song, particularly associated with monody, are here manifest at all levels - in the subject matter that is intended to evoke a moral response in listeners, in the neo-Platonic descriptions of the efficacy of song put forth in the lyrics, and in the monodic performance implied by the timbre. Finally, the phrase "nos chants communs" in the passage cited above and the phrase "en nos cris nous n'avons qu'une voix" later in the song suggest a certain unity of spirit that agrees with the notions of universal and universalizing grief expressed through a concord of women's voices that, when taken together, could make the heavens weep. It is as though Ronsard's tearful Muses had caught an echo of the song. Just as V lament causes the forest birds and her swans to sing her pitiful song, and Elizabeth's lament requires her ladies to sing with her, so the complaintes of city women construct a "cite des dames" united in song that includes transcendent or "universal" communities. This sort of feminism reflects Christine de Pisan's Epistre de la prison de vie humaine, which was read well into the sixteenth century for it spoke to women who had suffered losses at Agincourt and more generally addressed widows and grieving women of all wars. [65]

As texts and in performance, the complaintes on Dames d'honneur forge an imagined community of women and a mode of commiseration. Think of the ladies of La Fere, whose plaints issue forth in songs that "discourse on our sadnesses and pains." Their songs break down the isolation of masculine poetics and reinscribe lyric with the solidarity of women. Moreover, the Dames d'honneur laments consistently address a readership of women, not least through the heavy use of the timbre's incipit. To take an example from a female poet, Louise Labe's verse does the same thing, in its dedication to another Lyonnais woman, in its preface about the plight of female intellectuals, and in poems that open with lines such as "When you read these my writings, oh Ladies of Lyons" (Elegy 3) and implore: "Ladies who read of them, Sigh over my regrets with me" (Elegy 1, lines 43-44). [66] In this arrangement, which asks for consolation even as it extends consolatory poetry to other weeping women, Labe reminds her readers that feminine mourning is never solitary.

Of course, Labe's mourning is erotic longing precipitated by her lover's absence, which makes it categorically different from complaintes such as "Helas, faut-il." Nonetheless, the similarities between Labe's elegies and the laments voiced in the complaintes are striking. Juliana Schiesari has argued in The Gendering of Melancholia that female poets tended to gravitate toward mourning in order to shift the site of creativity in their verse away from masculine desire -- which could never be wholly recast in feminine terms -- and toward a traditional locus of feminine speech. [67] Feminine mourning permitted and even encouraged community, and Schiesari argues that poems by women such as Gaspara Stampa and Louise Labe consequently "evoke a community of women... whose work would be the overcoming of concrete loss through mourning" (173). While it is true that we simply cannot know which, if any, of the anonymous songs on the Dames d'honneur timbre were written by women, we can observe that they present the same " strategy for women to mourn their loss together" that Schiesari and Ann Rosalind Jones find in poetry by Stampa and Labe. This is not to reject the fact that complaintes in the feminine voice offered a form of cross-dressing to male poets who wished to escape -- if temporarily and by choice -- from Petrarchan conventions. [68] Indeed, the complainte figures as a necessary counterpart to Petrarchan lyric, its inverse, negative, or hermaphrodite counterpart, a counterpart perhaps so well-understood that even male performances of female laments struck no one as odd. Saint-Gelais must have been asked to sing "Laissez la verde couleur" and "O combien est heureuse" (another female complainte) countless times, and when the three Ferrabosco brothers sang Dido's famous last words, Ronsard reports only "sweetness, joy, and pleasure" at hearing it sung by men (2:503). [69] The difference between lament and love lyric was the quality of expression available in the female voice, expression that was intrinsically communal and led outward from the self. It was in this way ideal for a tactic of persuasion that worked sotto voce through the rhetoric of feminine alliance.

PRAYER, POLITICS, AND THE USEFULNESS OF TEARS

Female complaintes performed a variety of cultural work, not only for the male and female poets who wrote them but also for listeners, codifying and articulating grief in feminine voices that sounded in songs cutting across the cleavages of class and literacy. These songs insist upon mourning and prayer as the vocation of women at a time when France's salvation from civil war lay at stake, and in closing I would like to suggest that their litanies and their encouragement to "prier a mains joinctes" led women down the one avenue of feminine expression that was avidly sanctioned: prayer.

In the first place, the private nature of prayer made it a suitable means of devotion for women. For example, one of the few confraternities that had a majority of women among its membership was the Confraternity of the Rosary, a lay society noteworthy for the secluded nature of its ceremonies. It sponsored no common masses, no processions, and no banquets, but instead celebrated its mission almost exclusively with prayer, to which scholars have attributed its constituency of women. [70] Secondly, prayers made by women were believed to be particularly efficacious. Various sixteenth-century testaments provide that widows be paid to attend the deceased's burial service, that rye and money to mill it be given to poor widows for recommending the deceased in their prayers, or that money be distributed to "honteux" housewives. [71] These practices functioned partly as a way of offering charity to women -- which meant that encouraging women to pray helped station them in a system of social welfare -- and partly as a way of insuring that as a soul made its most critical passage, a host of prayers would be offered for its redemption. Finally, much suggests that women were more devout than men. In the diocese of Lyons, Catholic women bequeathed significantly more money to the church more often than men as a matter of course. [72] Michel Menot, a preacher from Tours, claimed that women outnumbered men by four to one at sermons (a statistic born out by the material of the sermons themselves), while his contemporary Guillaume Pepin maintained that "women are more easily drawn to faith and the correction of morals than men. . . so we find they are commonly more devout than men." [73] In fact, women took the sacraments, prayed, fasted, and went on pilgrimages more often than men. [74]

Since women prayed more regularly than men, prayer is a touchstone for understanding feminine complaintes, not just because prayer is featured in them, but particularly because their musical forms match the noels, psalms, and hymns that were staples of amateur devotion. A likely melody for "Dames d'honneur" can be recovered from Jean Chardavoine's monophonic chansonnier, which includes "Par ou faut-il, pauvre que je commence," the Complaincte & regret d'une Dame ayant perdu son honneur listed in table 1. We know from the Printemps des chansons nouvelles in which the text "Par ou fautil" is printed that it was meant to be sung to the tune of "Dames d'honneur," and so it seems likely that the tune Chardavoine uses for "Par ou faut-il" is a version of the timbre Dames d'honneur. (See example 2.)

The recursiveness of this melody is striking, even given that limited range and repetitive gestures typify the oral formulas from which many timbres arise. The insistence upon G in the first phrase and its immediate repetition evoke the psalm-tones of liturgical chant, and although the melody sweeps up to F in the third line, the emphasis on G returns in the approach to the final cadence, reinforced by the repetition of the final verse. As we know, the poetic form of many complaintes is a linear one created by long narrative sequences of rhyming couplets or stanzas. "Par ou faut-il," for example, is composed of fourteen stanzas with the form aabB, ccbB, ddbB etc., in which the line "O pauvre ou est maintenant ton honneur" -- corresponding to "B" in this scheme -- is a refrain reiterated at the end of each stanza. The form is beautifully enhanced by this musical setting, which maintains the monotone and worn character created by flat rhymes, repetition, and sheer length. All of the poems written to the Dames d 'honneur timbre are songs often stanzas or more. Sung to this tune, their hypnotic reiterations invite comparison with incantations, saying the rosary, litanies, and other repetitive prayers, making them a Catholic alternative to Huguenot psalmody in both its private and public dimensions.

Yet unlike prayer, which aimed the thoughts inward, complaintes amplified the prayers of their subjects in audible song and suggest a communal, public address. We do not know where or by whom these songs were sung, but given the inclusive language in them and their use of montebank formulas for addressing an audience such as "Escoutez les nouvelles ...," it is plausible to suppose that they were sung in city squares and streets. And when, in 1583, 72,000 pilgrims crisscrossed northern France singing "diverse sorts of songs, prayers, litanies, psalms, and verses of proses such as Ave Maria ... and many other things of great devotion" for the salvation of the country, it seems possible that pro-Catholic complaintes were among their marching songs. [75] Such public acts of devotion might have been unacceptable for some women -- consider the Confraternity of the Rosary -- but certainly the loud critiques of male behavior in the complaintes of city women countermand the order that women "must bee silent not onely in unlawfull but even in necessary matters, unless it be very requisite that they should speak of them." [76] Were these women's voices heard in public or not?

The complaintes, as songs, are scripts for airing opinions cast in the feminine voice, and we need to pay attention to their noisy form. Although the trajectory toward a female civility coded in terms of silence, chastity, and prayer is amply evident in their texts, it does not tell the full story, for it does not account for the strong political dimension of the complaintes, and it is the political edge of their texts that moves us out into the public sphere. In one sense, gender is not the issue of these songs, and I think that ultimately it is fairly unimportant whether they were sung by men or women. Gender is employed in the songs as a strategy, a convention through which poets, printers, and pamphleteers mobilized the voices of women to articulate moral and religious stances that -- in the case of the songs on Dames d'honneur -- were right in line with the goals of a Catholic monarchy. People listened to them with sympathy, and not only women. Men, too, might think differently of Protestantism after hea ring the complaintes of the ladies from La Fere, Issoire, and La Rochelle. And even if complaintes do target women with their sisterly tones, we should recall that women exercised significant power during the civil wars. At a time when many women owned property and headed households (making them responsible for taxes and levying militia), when noblewomen and women among the urban notability enjoyed a surprising degree of political and religious independence, and when women participated vocally in religious reforms both Catholic and Protestant, it is not surprising to find that women, too, posed a threat, one consequential enough to compare to the overt violence perpetrated by their kinsmen. [77] The civilizing process evident in the royal laments intersected with the religious directions given in the complaintes of city women on a very material battleground that was all too close, one supplied by food and munitions often procured by women, and one that often moved directly into women's lives. [78] In a time b efore aggression was contained in the "monopoly organization of physical violence," as Norbert Elias put it, and moved to the margins of a peaceful social life over which it would stand guard, war entangled everyone in violence, women as well as men, eliciting extreme behavior. [79] The humanistic decorum demanded of women in the royal complaintes and coded in terms of silence, bodily restraint, widow's weeds, and confinement to the home, served not just to banish the "loud and indecent wailing, horrible keening, and holy altars shak[ing] with the wailing of women once complained about by Petrarch and to remove women from the public rituals of mourning once dominated by them, but to remove women from public life more generally. [80]

Elias would remind us that although women did reign in their passions, no civilizing process works without the complicity of all participants. This is to say, women played the roles cast for them in laments for their own strategic gain. And in the sixteenth century, crying did not necessarily exclude a woman's other acts of great valiance and honor. Whoever wrote the lament of Princess of Conde ascribed to her both tears and a shocking lust for revenge, and Catherine de' Medici's Machiavellian rule was at least as fabled as her eternal mourning for Henry II. Piety and consuming tears were but one mantle a woman might wear, a softer garb to be donned when necessary, as at the end of "Dames, dames, je vous prie," when the Princess of Conde begs her brother Longueville for protection.

If the Princess of Conde's lament is too colored by the fictions of religious politics to be taken at face value, then consider the letter of a minor noblewoman, Catherine d'O, and her self-portrayal there. The letter was written to Louis de Gonzague, Duke of Nevers (1539-1595) at some point during the religious wars, and it has recently been brought to the attention of scholars by Kristen B. Neuschel. [81] In it, Catherine describes her situation in some detail: her husband defends a fortress under heavy siege, attempts to get messages through to him have failed, she has not been able to break the siege, and the standoff worsens. She has met with the enemy commander and, despite grave peril, she proudly announced that she and her husband will fight to an honorable death sooner than surrender to him. Her reconnaissance indicates eight cannons, at least twelve hundred horse, and six to seven thousand infantry, including forces led by the son of Philip II. At the close of the letter, she implores the duke to re member her husband's faithful service of over twenty years and to come to their aid, and it is here that the language of female lamentation drives the text, both in its genuflection to higher powers (God, the king, the duke) and in its useful tears. Catherine prays to God and the duke to rescue her husband, herself, and her children, lest she be rendered "la plus malheureuze et mizerable fame au monde" (fol. 128). Imploring the duke for pity and compassion, she describes herself as completely abject, powerless, and in need of aid: "tres affligee remplie de larmes & toute tristesse ie vous supplie de promptement doner secours amon mary" (fol. 128).

Very distressed, full of tears and all sadness. Catherine's tears remind the duke of her weakness by invoking her watery femininity and calling up the "foible femmelettes," "larmeuses deesses." "amantes esplourees," and "roynes blanches" of complaintes. Her tears soften the hard fact that it is she who leads the attempts to break the siege. For her letter is generated as part of a military effort under her command, and the signature of tears within it -- its lament -- is a tactic at her disposal. Catherine's valiance does not deny her femininity, but shows how inextricably the codes of war complemented those of love. We might even see in this the tight relations between fin amors and lament, between courtly love song and the complainte, between martial blood and venutian tears. Her tears, in their anticipation of grief at her husband's death, are the surest sign of her love for him, a love that could not be articulated via hot-blooded desire or the chivalric rescue she counts on from the duke. Her missive of honor, fidelity, and tears -- styled an elegy after the Heroides or a complainte, we cannot know -- does conclude with her total prostration before the duke. But the tearful, pious postures women learned from hearing, singing, and reading laments, from praying, and from the communality of feminine mourning did not negate their other powers. Indeed, no matter how clichd it eventually became to say so, tears counted importantly in a woman's arsenal. That propagandists found in the female complainte a weapon against heresy and anti-royalist activism demonstrates the effectiveness of sung laments at transmitting warnings and forging communal sentiments of obedience to God and king. Despite all the letters we will never recover from women caught in the civil wars and all we can never know about the authorship of complaintes, it is clear that even at their most poetic, complaintes can tell us something about the way real women behaved and how song mobilized femininity to help manage a civil society in crisis. [MUSI CAL NOTES NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

Research for this essay was carried out at Columbia University during a Mellon Fellowship at the Society of Fellows. I thank the Society and my colleagues there for their support. Portions of this essay were read at colloquia at the University of Pennsylvania (February, 1997), the University of California, Berkeley (November, 1997), and the University of Colorado, Boulder (February, 1998), where helpful comments abounded. Special thanks go to Frank Dobbins, Martha Feldman, James Haar, Timothy Hampton, Daniel Heartz, Donna Cardamone Jackson, and Anthony Newcomb, who read this work at various stages of its preparation, to the Renaissance Quarterly readers -- especially Francois Rigolot and Carla Zecher -- for their extensive and detailed comments, to Frederic de Buzon for his invaluable assistance transcribing the letter of Catherine d'O, and to Richard Cheetham for seeting the musical examples. Finally, I must thank Ellen Hargis, David Douglass, and The King's Noyse, who brought this music to life again. I for mulated my first ideas about this repertory while corresponding with Ellen and David about songs in the feminine voice from Renaissance France and have had the pleasure of hearing both "Laissez la verde couleur" and Elizabeth of Austria's lament in concert. The latter is now available on Le jardin de melodies, Harmonia Mundi USA, HMU 907194 and, for me, epitomizes the sound of the complainte.

(1.) Ronsard, 2:924, lines 21-24; "See moreover Game and the Muses crying, and the three errant Graces screaming from heartache like mad women, and Venus without comfort, all tearful reviling Death." Translations are my own unless otherwise noted. I would like to thank Davitt Moroney for his help translating several particularly intricate passages.

(2.) See Petrarch, 26-33, and Freccero.

(3.) In the first 47 lines, Ronsard paraphrases the opening 28 lines of Ovid's elegy on the death of Tibullus. See Ronsard, 2:1557. I italicize the term chanson when using it to refer exclusively to the poetic form.

(4.) This observation owes much to Juliana Schiesari's The Gendering of Melancholia: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Symbolics of Loss in Renaissance Literature, which has decisively influenced the shape of this paper.

(5.) On Greek society see Hoist-Warhaft, and Segal. Among the many recent studies of women's sung laments around the world see especially Tolbert, and Raheja and Gold. For an overview of recent studies see Bowers.

(6.) See Sebillet, 1988, 38 and 150; and Du Belay, 1970, 113-15.

(7.) Saint-Gelais, 1993-1995, 1:249-50, lines 49-56; "As much blood as he pours forth upon the colored grass, so many tears spills the sad weeping Lover. Blood turns many a nearby flower red that was born white, and many [a flower] is turned back to white by great tears." The poem is discussed at length in Stone.

(8.) Likewise, Pierre Bourdeille de Brantome described the relationship of Elizabeth of Austria and Charles IX in terms of the contrasting elements upon which their constitutions were based: "Elle estoit fort propre et fort digne pour luy: car c'estoit le feu et l'eau assemb!ez ensemble, d'autant que le Roy estoit prompt, mouvant er bouillant; elle estoit froide et fort temperre" (499).

(9.) On sweat, see Zanger. On menstruation and on hurnoral medicine in general, see Maclean, 28-46. On tears see Coeffeteau, 349 (translation of French edition from 1619). Coeffereau also relates that wine can counteract the deadly drying of the heart brought on by grief through its hot and moist properties, as could baths, while sleep and music might divert the senses to pleasure and offer temporary relief in that way (346-47). See also Ronsard, De la joie et de la tristesse, 2:1199-1203. For a later cultural study of crying and its representation in literature see Bayne, and for a study of female tears in the context of court fete, see Gordon, chap. 1.

(10.) For biographical information on Saint-Gelais see most recently Saint-Gelais, 1990, xi-xix.

(11.) See Barthelemy Aneau's Quintil Horatian, reprinted in Du Bellay, 123.

(12.) See Heartz. Also see the excellent analysis of "Laissez la verde couleur" and the bass pattern associated with it in Haar.

(13.) Example 1.a transcribed from Certon, 1990, 2; example 1.b transcribed from Arcadelt, 1965-1971, 9:25. All other transcriptions are from the original sources.

(14.) Le Roy, 1573, fol. 2r, and idem, 1556, fol. 1v.

(15.) Se Desan and van Orden.

(16.) On the stereotypical rhythms found in polyphonic settings of Saint-Gelais's verse, see Heartz, and Haat.

(17.) See Stone, 11-58.

(18.) Also see "Pour m'esloinger et changer de contree," Saint-Gelais, 1993-1995, 1:72-74, and the musical analysis of it in Brooks, 428-31. In this poem Saint-Gelais uses the flat rhymes usually associated with the compliante, and the text adopts the feminine voice and epistolary tone of Ovid's Heroides (on which see the discussion below, pp.8l5-l8). Brooks observes that the romanes ca bass line Saint-Gelais probably used when singing the piece was associated with laments via the tradition of singing Bradamante's lament from Orlando furioso (another Heroides-like text initially cast as a letter from Bradamante to Ruggiero). In short, although the tune-oriented musical culture I describe here is different from Saint-Gelais own practice of improvising on bass lines such as the romanesca, the work of Haar and Brooks also demonstrates the strong connection between the unwritten musical tradition and the lament in Saint-Gelais's work. To this we might add the example of Francesca Caccini's "Dove io credea le mie speranze vere," yet another lament on the romanesca bass, studied in Cusick, 1999. Taken together, these examples verify the strong pan-European tradition of singing laments to the melodies and bass patterns regularly employed by minstrels.

(19.) This is not so for the Arcadelt version, which could easily be rebarred in three as a galliard. On these questions of meter, see Heatrz, and Haar.

(20.) For example, Eustache Deschamps's elegy on the death of Machaut (set by Francois Andrieu), the Deploration sur la mort de Binchois (set by Johannes Ockeghem), Jean Molinet's Deploration d'Ockeghem (set by Josquin des Prez), the deplorations on the death of Josquin (set by Benedictus Appenzeller, Jheronimus Vinders, and Nicolas Gombett), the deploration on the death of Claudin de Sermisy (set by Pierre Cetton), and so forth. On the polyphonic deploration see Rice; also see n. 44 below.

(21.) On the concept of the author and the book at this time, see Chartier.

(22.) See Saint-Gelais, 1993-1995, especially 1:x-xi, xiii-xiv.

(23.) See Du Guillet, 66 and 179n.

(24.) Barthelemy Aneau clearly stares that all were sung "Et si elles peuvent estre sonnees la lyre (comme elles sont) meritent le nom de vers lyriques, myeux que les bayes de ton Olive ne la suyte, qui ne furent onque chantees ne sonnees, & a peine estre le pourroient" (see the Quintil Horatien reprinted in Du Bellay, La deffence, 115 n. 1). That Saint-Gelais wrote his poetry in forms which fir easily with dance tunes was first suggested by Heartz in "Voix de ville." On Conde Claros as a bass pattern for "Amour avecques Psyche" and "Laissez la verde couleur," see Haar.

(25.) Thomas Sebillet, Art poetique francois, 38, 148, 150. On the quarrel between the ode and the chanson provoked by Du Bellay, see Heartz, and Desan and van Orden. On Ronsard's eventual embrace of the chanson, see my "La chanson vulgaire and Ronsard's Poetry for Music" (van Orden, 2001).

(26.) On Marot, see Sebillet, 178-179. Few complaintes were written by the Pleiade poets: Ronsard wrote only one, an ode he titled Complainte de Glaucus (1:769).

(27.) "Pource entre tant d'especes et formes diverses, te reste seulement a choisir celle que tu verras plus propre a la matiere deplorable: qui est le plussouvent mort facheuse et importune: par fois amoureuse deffortune, c'est a dire desplaisir ou dommage receu de l'Amour" (179).

(28.) "Mais quoy que tu plaignes, la ryme platte te semblera plus propre: et le vers de dis syllabes plus aigre et poignant" (179). Before 1500, amorous complaintes tended to be long strophic poems written in heterometric forms, such as Machaut's "Tels rit au main qui au soir pleure" from the Remede de Fortune on the rhyme scheme [a.sub.8][a.sub.8][a.sub.8][b.sub.4] [a.sub.8][a.sub.8][a.sub.8][b.sub.4] [b.sub.8][b.sub.8][b.sub.8][a.sub.4] [b.sub.8][b.sub.8][b.sub.8][a.sub.4]. On fifteenth-century complaintes see Jean Molinet. During the sixteenth century, complaintes tended to be cast in long prosaic strings of alexandrines paired in flat rhymes or simple homometric stanzas with shorter lines arranged in crossed or flat rhymes.

(29.) Scollen observes that Marot may have distinguished his complaintes from his elegies deploratives on the basis of their strophic form (52).

(30.) Sebillet, 154-56, struggled to explain the difference between a complainte and the "elegie deplorative," telling us erroneously that Marot modeled his elegies on Ovid's Amores. But Marot would not have found much in the way of a lament there. In fact, Ovid hardly veered from the subject of love in the Amores -- the elegy on the death of Tibullus that he included there was an exception, not the rule. It was, rather, Ovid's Heroides, his letters from heroines whose husbands or lovers have deserted them, that influenced the elegy in France, bringing to it the triste et flebile" quality that Sebillet and others after him insisted was the hallmark of the genre. For other discussions of the sad elegy see Du Bellay, 111; and Peletier du Mans, 1 82-83. On the Heroides as the source of the sad elegy and the association between women's voices and lamentation forged in them see Scollen, chaps. 1 and 2; and Hanisch, 27-32.

(31.) See Cartier and Cheneviere. "Laissez la verde couleur" is called an elegie ou chanson lamentable; "Helas, mon Dieu" is called a Complaincte du loyal, et malheureux amant a sa dame mal pitoyable, and "O combien est heureuse" is called Complaincte de la loyalle amye a son amy. For details on the publication of "Laissez la verde couleur" and "O combien est heureuse," see Stone, 40-58.

(32.) On the Deploration de Venus, see Saint-Gelais, 1993-1995, 1:xiii.xiv; and Carrier and Cheneviere, 96-105. On Le discours du voyage de Constantinople and the Livre deplusieurs pieces see especially Du Bellay, 114 n. 3. Venus's lament was still selling books in 1559 if this title is any indication: Recueil des plus belles chansons de ce temps ... avec la Deploration ration de Venus (Lyons, 1559).

(33.) In addition to the musical sources and the sources cited by Stone, 45-46, the text of "Laissez la verde couleur" was published in the following recueils de chansons: Lyons 1557, 3; Lyons 1572, 137; Paris 1572, fol. 81r (and the volume's many reeditions as Sommaire including an undated pirate edition published in Paris by Anthoine Houic). Other songs in some of the same collections were written to be sung to the timbre of "Laissez la verde couleur": "Dames qui au plaisant son" (Lyons 1572, 214; Second livre, fol. 53r [and Rigaud's ed. of the same, fol. 44r]); "Las quelle file je suis" [J. de La Peruse] (Lyons 1572, 127; Paris 1572, 54r; Sommaire [Rigaud ed., fol. 49r; Houic. ed., fol. 46r]); "Or oyez filles oyez" (La Beaute, 53); "Fillez qui aymez honneur" (Troisieme livre, 41r); "France reduite en vertue" (Bordeaux, fol. 86v); and "Un temps fist que je voulus" (Lyons 1572, 67; Paris 1572, fol. 33r). Chardavoine, in his monophonic chansonnier Le recueil des plus belles et excellentes chansons, includes a timbre for "Las quelle fille je suis" which is similar to the "Laissez la verde couleur" timbres shown in example 1; he also gives a timbre for "Un temps fur que je voulus" which is not concordant.

(34.) See Poirion, 415.

(35.) On the Heroides in France see Scollen, and Hanisch. On the broad tradition of which the Heroides and the complainte were a part, see Lipking, and on the Heroides as it was received into England and the English complaint, see Harvey. I am indebted to Francois Rigolot for calling my attention to the Heroides and its significance to my project.

(36.) See Scollen, 20-31.

(37.) On the importance of the Heroides to European traditions of sung lament see HolfordStrevens.

(38.) For a full history of the complainte see Wodsak, who concentrates on political complaintes from the time of the French Revolution. She only remarks in passing that most complaintes were sung, but she does review the principal sources of the genre up to 1600 (27-88). On an analogous English repertory circulated on broadsides, see Wart, esp. 14-38.

(39.) A poem by Amadis Jamyn in a contemporary recueil, "Sus, sus, mon Luc" (Second livre, fol. 2r), gives added weight to this hypothesis, for it is titled "Elle se peut chanter sur les regrets de la Princesse de Conde," and its form and rhyme scheme match the songs on Dames d'honneur and the Princess's lament printed by Bordeaux.

(40.) "Ladies, ladies, I beg you with joined hands, lament with me my complaints, for the sorrows I have within my heart, will cause me pain all my life."

(41.) "Come, come, my eyes, do not dry, I beseech you. Ladies of honor, cry, I beg you, I cannot cry more, oh God, I need heart: Oh harsh death, take me, it matters not to me. I take no mare pleasure from this world since I lost the best of all flowers, since I lost the flower of the good French. Alas, I want to die now."

(42.) Brantome, 38. Also see the epitaph Louise Labe includes at the end of her second elegy: "Par toi, ami, tant vequis enflammee qu'en languissant par feu suis consumee qui couve encor sous ma cendre embrasde, si ne la rends de tes pleurs apaisee" [104].

(43.) Louise de Lorraine is praised by Brantome for her devotion to Henry III and to God (527-30). For more on Louise de Lorraine see Boucher, especially 307-44.

(44.) See Picker. Marguerite engaged the poet Jean Lemaire while living in Savoy, and he served her throughout her life, writing the texts of some of the songs in her albums as well as Les regretz de La dame infortunee, a work written in the first-person voice of Marguerite. The chanson albums merit further attention as a unique collection of polyphonic complaintes in the feminine voice. I do not study them here because they differ in musical style and poetic form from the broadly dispersed and orally transmitted repertory under discussion, Nonetheless, they are an important source of information on the musical conventions of feminine mourning in court society. The same should be said of female laments in Italian intermedi and early opera. Amid the burgeoning literature on this subject, let me simply mention two of the studies already cited elsewhere in this essay, Cusick, 1994, and Gordon.

(45.) "... shedding her beautiful and precious tears so tenderly, sighing both so sweetly and so quietly that one indeed thought that she reined in her grief in order that everyone should not believe that she wished to put on a good face and a good image (as I have seen many Ladies do), but nevertheless she let the great suffering of her soul be felt. So a torrent of water that is dammed up is more violent than one that has an unobstructed flow."

(46.) Brantome estimates the number of "dames et damoiselles" at court at three hundred (59).

(47.) Ibid., 58.

(48.) "Alas good King at the end of your life, you called me, from which came my desire to weep. 'Alas' you said to me, 'Lady with an excellent heart, pray to God for me and make a prayer to him.' At that same hour I knelt, sighing, entirely bathed in tears. Where is the heart, where is the French heart which did not cry for my Charles de Valois?"

(49.) "Elizabeth, widowed of company, like the swan sings melodiously within the bed chamber darkened with sadness, there, where you make a thousand regrets and tears. God will aid you, noble Queen most wise. This present world is but a brief passage. As you leave, o Queen, be worthy of your heart, yet soften it instead of letting it be hard." The "mille regrets & pleurs" mentioned in this passage prompt the image of Elizabeth singing "Mille regretz" by Josquin des Prez, a song of parting that would have been quite appropriate in those circumstances.

(50.) On the symbolism of swans and their Christian and classical imagery see Yates, 150.

(51.) The descriptions of Catherine's mourning were related by her friend Lippomano and are cited in Strage, 116-17.

(52.) On the notion of ventriloquism as applied to women's discourse, see Jones, 2000, 167; and Harvey.

(53.) See van Orden, 2000, 280-86.

(54.) In addition to Elizabeth's lament, Rigaud published two more eight-folio, octavo prints on the death of the king in 1574, Ronsard's Le Tombeau du feu Roy Tres-Chrestien Charles Neufiseme and Marc Antoine Muret's Oraison funebre faicte a Rome aux obseques du tres chrestien Roy de France Charles IX', which was a French translation from the Latin. Like Les regrets et complaintes de tres illustre Princesse Elisabeth, Ronsard's Tombeau is written in couplets of alexandrines. In fact, 1574 turned out to be a good year for Rigaud, who also busied himself with prints featuring the entries of the new king, Henry III.

(55.) "See Galy.

(56.) Other noble laments among the recueils listed in the appendix are Complainte de treshaute & excellente Dame Elizabeth d'Austriche sur la mort de ma Dame fille unique d'elle & de feu Roy Charles (Printemps, fol. 5v), Deploration de la mort du Roy Henry (Lyons, 1572, 222), Regretz lamentables sur la mort de deffunte et vertueuse princesse, Madame Marie de Clefve, femme du prince de Conde (Jardin, 117), Chanson pitoyable et lamentable ties obseques et funerailles tie Charles tie Valois (Jardin, 61), and Chanson nouvelle ties complaintes et regretz tie madame d'Aumale sur la mort tie son mary (Jardin, 42).

(57.) See Clerjon, 5:253-82.

(58.) "On other war songs, especially La complainte des pauvres laBoureurs & gens de village (Lyons, 1572), see van Orden, 2000.

(59.) See Holt, 110.

(60.) "Hear us, we are vagabonds, we run among the woods like waves. Oh God, oh God, have pity on us, we are now companions with wolves. In a wretched way we have seen husbands hung, drowned in the river, children killed, oh my God what horror, on two knees we pray to you Lord."

(61.) "Alas, our husbands were so foolish, so obstinate, and so opinionated that they preferred to disobey the King rather than to give up the new law."

(62.) "Soldiers of the King, when you take the city, save the honor of the women and girls. Do not abuse the little innocents. They do not number among the evil ones."

(63.) On canards see Seguin.

(64.) "Come, come, regrets leave our breasts, in order to articulate our sadness and ruin, and so that an echo, crying for our cares, would be heard by everyone here. May our two eyes be two seas and fountains, sure witnesses to our bitter pains, for our cries to move the universe to pity, hearing our sad verse. May our beautiful days be only shadows, our common songs but mortal funeral rites, without our being able to see our grief fade away, even in the coffin."

(65.) Noteworthy in this regard is Christine's lament at the death of her husband, "Deuil angoisseux," set expansively for four voices by her contemporary, Gilles Binchois: "May our beautiful days be only shadows, our common songs but mortal funeral rites, without our being able to see our grief fade away, even in the coffin."

(66.) Also see sonnet 24; and Schiesari, 173 n. 24. On the Sapphic despair initiating Labe's oeuvre, see Rigolot.

(67.) Schiersari argues that Petrarchism promoted a poetics of melancholy that was highly gendered in its attribution of melancholy to men -- and only men -- of great genius (166-174). Originating in Pseudo-Aristotle's Problems XXX, I and elevated to a saturnine blessing of greatness in Marsilio Ficino's De vita libri tres, melancholy came to be equated with Plato's divine frenzy, making it a virtual prerequisite for poetic inspiration. A melancholic humor prepared the author to be ravished by the poetic furor from which he would create his best verse. And with Petrarchan poetics hinging on a disease of male genius, female poetry itself seemed to be precluded. Also see Jones, 1991. For a characterization of melancholy during the Elizabethan period which draws on a number of French sources, see Babb.

(68.) On the "cross-dressing" of male poets writing in the feminine voice, see Harvey.

(69.) Here we should note the attraction these lines had for Renaissance composers. See Skei.

(70.) See Schmitt.

(71.) Galpern, 20-43, especially 32, 38, and 40. Also see the account of a testator with children in holy orders who gave each of them money, but requested only of her daughter a "quid pro quo of prayer" as a sort of spiritual collateral (18).

(72.) Hoffman, 126-27.

(73.) Pepin cited in Taylor, 172; on Menot see 31. Consider also the opinion of Agrippa: "Piety [is] a virtue to which Women are almost ever more prone than Men; so that Artistotle recounts Piety, Mercy, and Compassion, as virtues peculiar to this Sex" (1670, 24).

(74.) Taylor, 171-4. Of course, hollow shows of piety brought condemnation. For example, Pierre Charron, 1608. described religious zeal itself as a "feminine and popular spirit," saying that women "lend the shew and outward part unto God ... yea they make pietie a cover for impietie, they make it ... an occupation or a merchandize, and alleadge their offices of devotion" (287).

(75.) Crouzet, 2:298.

(76.) La Primaudaye, 1618, 212-13.

(77.) See, for example, Davis, Roelker, and Diefendorf.

(78.) See Delbruck, 65-66, and Neuschel.

(79.) See Elias, 365-79.

(80.) Cited in Schiesari, 163.

(81.) BNF, ins. fr. 3632, fols. 127-28. According to the Catalogue des Manuscrits francais, 2:635, the letter is from Catherine d'O to Monseigneur, Duke de Nivernois, written at Sy on a Saturday morning (no further date). The letter is discussed at length in Neuschel, 132-38, whose exquisite analysis brings out the conflicting roles Catherine plays and the tensions in her self-portrayal.

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TABLE 1,

SONGS WRITTEN TO BE SUNG TO "DAMES D'HONNEUR"

* La complainte des pauvres laboureurs & gens de village (Lyons 1572, 232)

* Des regretz d'une dame de Rouen estant a l'article de la mort, se repentant de s'estre mal gouvernee durant sa jeuness (Lyons 1572, 246; Printemps, fol. 28v)

* "Sus, sus mon Luc" (Second livre, fat. 2r)

* Complaincte & regret d'une Dame ayant perdu son honneur (Printemps, fol. 42v)

* Les regrets des Princesses & Dames de la Court sur le decez de tresillustre Princesse, Madame fille unique de feu Roy Charles (Printemps, fol. 8r)

* La prinse de la Charite (Fleur, fol. 7v; Rosier, fol. 2r)

* Complaincte des dames d'Yssoire (Fleur, fol. 11v; Nouveau recueil, 21v; Rosier, fol. 6r)

* Des regrets douloureux et pleurs lamentables de tres-haute et tres-verteuse dame, Elizabeth d'Autriche, royne de France, sur la mort du roy Charles IX, son espoux, avec les doulences des dames de La court (Jardin, 3)

* La douloureuse complainte des dames de La Rochelle aux soudards du camp du Roy (Jardin, 69)

* Deploration des Dames de Ia vile de la Fere, tenues forcemens par les ennemies de la Religion Catholique (Fere, 9)

* Lamentation du roy a tout son peuple de France (Jardin, 16)

* Derniers propos de haulte & vertueuse Princesse madame Claude de Valois, duchesse de Lorraine (Nouveau recueil, fol. 35v)

Appendix:

Short-title list of Recucils de chansons containing complaintes

(IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER)

Beaute: La Beaulte des belles chansons nouvelles... Lyons: Benoist Rigaud, no date. In-16, 32 ff.

Lyons 1557: Recueil de plusieurs chansons divise en trois parties... Lyons: Benoist Rigaud & Jan Saugrain. In-16, 208 pp.

Bordeaux: Christophe de Bordeaux, Beau recueil de plusieurs belles chansons spirituelles avec ceux des huguenots heretiques... Paris: for Magdeleine Berthelin [after 1569]

Lyons 1572: Le Recueil de plusieurs chansons nouvelles... No publisher, 1572. In-16, 281 pp.

Paris 1572: Le recueil des chansons, tant musicales, que rurales, anciennes, & modernes. Paris: Pour la vefve Jean Bonfons, 1572. In-16, 125 ff.

Sommaire: Sommaire de tous les recueils de chansons tant amoureuses, rustiques que musicales comprinses en deux livres. Adjouste plusieurs chansons nouvelles non encores mis en lumiere. Paris: Nicolas Bonfons, 1576. In-16, 112ff. Re-edition of Paris 1572. Subsequent editions 1578,1582, 1585. Other editions under the same title by Benoist Rigaud (Lyons, 1579) and Anthoine Houic (Paris, no date).

Second livre: Le recueil des plus excellentes chansons... Livre second. Paris: Nicholas Bonfons, 1578. In-16, 112 ff. Reprinted 1585. Reedition by Benoist Rigaud under the title Ample recueil des chansons rant amoureuses, rustiques, musicalles qu'autres... (Lyons, 1579).

Printemps: Le Printemps des chansons nounelles... Lyons: Benoist Rigaud, 1579. In-16, 64 ff. Another edition is undated.

Fleur: La Fleur des chansons nouvelles, Traittans partie de l'amour, partie de la guerre, selon les occurrences du temps present... Lyons: Benoist Rigaud, 1580. In-16, 87ff. Reprinted 1586.

Rosier: Le Rosier des chansons nouvelles... Lyons: Benoist Rigaud, 1580. In-16, 64 ff.

Jardin: Le Plaisant Jardin des belles Chansons... Lyons: Benoist Rigaud, 1580. In-16, 128 pp.

Nouveau recueil: Nouveau recueil de toutes les chansons nouvelles, tant de l'amour que de la guerre. Lyons: Benoist Rigaud, [1580.] In-16. 64 ff.

Fere: Nouveau recueil des chansons qu'on chante a present, rant de la guerre & voyage de la Fere, de la Mure: & des Chansons amoureuses. Lyons: Benoist Rigaud, 1581. In-16, 47 pp.

Troiseme livre: Le recueil de chansons nouvelles, Livre III. Paris: Nicholas Bonfons, 1581. In-16, 64 ff. Reprinted 1586.

Bouquet: Le Joyeux bouquet des belles chansons nouvelles... No publisher, 1583. In-16. 32 ff.
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