Clément Marot (23 November 1496 – 12 September 1544) was a French
poet of the
1.2 At the French court
1.3 In Paris
1.4 In Ferrara
1.5 Back in Paris
1.6 Later life
5 External links
Marot was born at Cahors, the capital of the province of Quercy, some
time during the winter of 1496-1497. His father,
Jean Marot (c.
1463-1523), whose more correct name appears to have been des Mares,
Marais or Marets, was a Norman from the
Caen region and was also a
poet. Jean held the post of escripvain (a cross between poet laureate
and historiographer) to Anne of Brittany, Queen of France. Clément
was the child of his second wife. The boy was "brought into France"
— it is his own expression, and is not unnoteworthy as showing the
strict sense in which that term was still used at the beginning of the
16th century — in 1506. He appears to have been educated at the
University of Paris, and to have then begun studying law. Jean Marot
instructed his son in the fashionable forms of verse-making, which
called for some formal training.
It was the time of the rhétoriqueurs, poets who combined stilted
language with a fondness for the allegorical manner of the 15th
century and the most complicated and artificial forms of the ballade
and the rondeau. Clément began as a "rhétoriqueur", though he later
helped overthrow this style. He wrote panegyrics to Guillaume Crétin
and translated Virgil's first eclogue in 1512. He soon gave up the
study of law and became page to Nicolas de Neufville, seigneur de
Villeroy, which led to his introduction into court life. The house of
Valois, which would hold the throne of France for the greater part of
a century, was devoted to literature.
At the French court
As early as 1514, before the accession of King Francis I, Clément
presented to him his Judgment of Minos, and shortly afterward he was
either styled or styled himself facteur (poet) de la reine to Queen
Claude. In 1519 he was attached to the suite of Marguerite d'Alençon,
the king's sister, (later to become Marguerite de Navarre), a great
patron of the arts. He was also a great favourite of Francis himself,
Field of the Cloth of Gold
Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, and duly celebrated
it in verse. In the next year he was at the camp in Flanders, and
wrote of the horrors of war.
Marot, like most of Marguerite's literary court, was attracted by her
grace, her kindness, and her intellectual accomplishments, but there
is no grounds for thinking that they had a romantic relationship.
During this time his poetic style began to change, becoming much less
artificial. Some of his poems praise a lady named "Diane", whom some
have identified with Diane de Poitiers.
In 1524, Marot accompanied King Francis on his disastrous Italian
campaign. The king was taken prisoner at the Battle of Pavia, but
there are no grounds for supposing that Marot was wounded or shared
the king's fate, and he was back in Paris again by the beginning of
1525. However, Marguerite for intellectual reasons, and her brother
for political, had until then favoured the double movement of
"Aufklärung", partly humanist, partly reforming, which distinguished
the beginning of the century. Formidable opposition to both forms of
innovation now began to appear, and Marot, never particularly prudent,
was arrested on a charge of heresy and lodged in the Grand Châtelet
in February 1526. This was only a foretaste of his coming trouble, and
a friendly prelate, acting for Marguerite, arranged his release before
Easter. The imprisonment caused him to write a vigorous poem entitled
Enfer (hell), later imitated by his friend Étienne Dolet. His father
died about this time, and Marot seems to have been appointed in Jean's
place as valet de chambre to the king. He was certainly a member of
the royal household in 1528 with a stipend of 250 livres. In 1530,
probably, he married. The following year he was once again in trouble,
this time for attempting to rescue a prisoner, and was again released,
this time after Marot wrote the king one of his most famous poems,
appealing for his release.
In 1532 he published (it had perhaps appeared three years earlier),
under the title of Adolescence Clémentine, the first printed
collection of his works, which was very popular and was frequently
reprinted with additions. Unfortunately, the poet's enemies ensured
that Marot was implicated in the 1534 Affair of the Placards, and this
time he fled.
He passed through Nérac, the court of Navarre, and made his way to
Renée, duchess of Ferrara, a supporter of the Protestant Reformation
in France—as steadfast as her sister-in-law Marguerite, and even
more efficacious, because her dominions were outside France. At
Ferrara his work there included the celebrated Blasons (a descriptive
poem, improved upon medieval models), which set all the verse-writers
of France imitating them. The blason was defined by Thomas Sébillet
as a perpetual praise or continuous vituperation of its subject. The
blasons of Marot's followers were printed in 1543 with the title of
Blasons anatomiques du corps féminin.
Back in Paris
Duchess Renée was not able to persuade her husband, Ercole d'Este, to
share her views, and Marot had to leave Ferrara. He went to Venice,
but before very long
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III remonstrated with Francis I on the
severity with which the
Protestants were treated, and they were
allowed to return to Paris on condition of recanting their errors.
Marot returned with the rest, and abjured his heresy at Lyon. In 1539
Francis gave him a house and grounds in the suburbs.
It was at this time that his famous and influential translations of
Psalms appeared. Each courtier identified his or her favorite
psalms, and the poems were sung in the court and in the city. It is
said, probably with exaggeration, that these translations did more
than anything else to advance the cause of the Protestant Reformation
in France. Marot's translations of the
Psalms continued to be sung for
centuries by Protestant congregations.
At the same time Marot engaged in a literary quarrel with a poet named
François de Sagon, who represented the Sorbonne. Verse-writers of
France aligned themselves as Marotiques or Sagontiques, and abuse was
exchanged. Victory, as far as wit was concerned, was with Marot, but
at the cost of ill-will against him.
Marot edited the works of his fellow poet François Villon. Although
Psalms were published in 1541 and 1543 with royal privilege, the
Sorbonne still objected to translations from the Bible into French. In
1543, it was evident that Marot could not rely on the protection of
the king, therefore he left for Geneva. After living working on the
Psalms there, as Calvin became more influential, he went to Piedmont.
He died at
Turin in the autumn of 1544 and was buried in the Cathedral
there at the expense of the French ambassador to Rome.
The most important early editions of Marot's Œuvres were published at
Lyon in 1538 and 1544. In the second of these the arrangement of his
poems which has been accepted in later issues was first adopted; in
1596 an enlarged edition was edited by François Mizière.[citation
needed] The Parisian printer Denis Janot, however, also printed
several important editions of books by Marot. Others of later date
are those of
Nicolas Lenglet Du Fresnoy
Nicolas Lenglet Du Fresnoy (The Hague, 1731) and P.
Jannet (1868–1872; new ed., 1873–1876), on the whole the best, but
there is a very good selection with a still better introduction by
Charles d'Héricault, the joint editor of the Jannet edition in the
larger Collection Garnier (no date). From an elaborate edition by G.
Guiffrey only Vol. II and III appeared during his lifetime. Robert
Yve-Plessis and Jean Plattard completed the edition in 5 vols (Paris,
1874-1931). The first 'scientific' edition is by C. A. Mayer in 6
vols.(1958-1980), which follows the arrangement of the material in
'genres' (like the edition 1544). The last complete scientific edition
is by Gérard Defaux in 2 vols. (1990–92). Defaux adopts the edition
principles of Marot himself, as deductible from his own 1538 edition,
Many of Marot's texts were set as chansons, particularly by his
contemporary Claudin de Sermisy.
Douglas Hofstadter's book Le Ton beau de Marot, deals with the
problems of translation, and includes several dozen different
translations of Marot's poem A une damoyselle malade.
Wilhelm Killmayer set one of his poems in his song cycle Rêveries in
1953, and another in Blasons anatomiques du corps féminin in
^ Tilley, Arthur (1904). "Chapter IV. Marot". The Literature of the
French Renaissance. Vol. I. Cambridge University Press.
^ Rawles, Stephen (1976). "An un-recorded edition of the works of
Clement Marot printed by Denis Janot". Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et
Renaissance. 38 (3): 485–88. JSTOR 20675626.
^ "Rêveries" (in German). Schott. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
^ "Blasons anatomiques du corps féminin". Schott. Retrieved 23 August
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Clément Marot.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Marot, Clément".
Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Free scores by
Clément Marot in the Choral Public Domain Library
Pictures of Marot
C A Mayer Memorial Trust
Clément Marot at
LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
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