Article published in Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance – Tome LXX
– 2008 – no 3, pp. 567-578.
“Dear Doctor Bouchart, I am no Lutheran”
A reassessment of Clément Marot’s epistle to Monsieur Bouchart
Marot’s epistle to Monsieur Bouchart, a doctor of Theology, is usually
interpreted as referring to his imprisonment in 1526. In it, an accusation of
Lutheranism is connected with a denunciation by an offended woman and/or a
breaking of the Lenten fast. In this essay the author first shows that this
interpretation leaves a number of fundamental questions unanswered, in
particular concerning a course of events that has to be surmised, even when
corrections and fine-tuning of recent scholarship are taken into account. He
suggests that one sees this persistent aporia as a challenge to
reconsider the usual view. He examines and abandons the allocation of this
epistle to Marot’s 1526 imprisonment and instead interprets the epistle with the
eyes of the first readers, the Parisian population of 1534. An interpretation
beginning from the publication date resolves many of the unanswered questions
quite naturally and the content then appears to be surprisingly topical.
A crucial event in the life of the French court poet Clément Marot (1496-1544)
was his imprisonment early 1526, connected with an accusation of Lutheranism.
This accusation, a label applied to anyone who was unruly in matters of
religion, was in no way harmless.
Only a few months before, the Paris Parlement, aided by the integrist
faction of the Faculty of Theology, had succeeded in crushing the reformative
experiment in the diocese of Meaux, forcing even the most prominent participants
including the éminence grise of French Humanism, Lefèvre d’Etaples, to
seek refuge in Strasbourg. Against this background, being arrested on the
accusation of Lutheranism was not a minor issue.
Marot’s poem, L’Enfer,
reflects the horror of being imprisoned in such circumstances, but
does not contain exact information about the circumstances of his arrest and
keeps silent about the manner of his final release.
Only one thing can be considered an established fact, viz. that at a certain
moment he was transferred from the Paris prison, the Châtelet, to a
‘prison claire, & nette’ in Chartres, where in less infernal circumstances he
awaited the end of the affair.
L’Enfer was not published, and in the years following 1526 Marot never
referred to this prison experience until 1534, when five poems appeared in
print, added to his translation of the first book of Ovid’s
poems (two rondeaux, one
ballad and two epistles) were announced on the
as: Certaines oeuvres, qu’il feit en la prison, non encore imprimeez.
This quite heterogeneous collection opens with the rondeau De l’inconstance
d’Ysabeau, which at first sight has nothing to do with any
imprisonment whatsoever. The poem though is provided with a legend of its own
(legend: legenda, ‘how to read’): le rondeau qui fut cause de sa
prinse, thus suggesting that Marot’s captivity basically had been a woman’s
affair. And, indeed, in the ballad an offended woman is introduced who has
denounced the author to “… je ne sçay quel Papelard / Et luy a dict tout
bellement, / Prenez le, il a mangé le Lard.”
 The last phrase which literally
translated means ‘Get him, he has eaten the bacon’, has in the past often been
linked to breaking the laws of abstinence (during Lent), thus connecting the
woman’s affair with the accusation of a religious offence and completing the
‘legend’ of Marot’s arrest: In 1526 Marot was denounced by a woman, who had felt
offended by a poem of Marot and as revenge had accused him of having broken the
fast, an accusation either concocted or based on reality, both being effective
enough to result in his imprisonment. This has remained the usual view, of
course with variations - in particular concerning the identification of Ysabeau
(a real woman? a chiffre
for the unfaithful Church?). However, linguistic research has shown that it
is more likely that the phrase ‘il a mangé le lard’ should be treated as a
proverbial expression (‘Get him, he is the guilty one’), even having the
connotation of ‘give a dog a bad name and hang him’ and
as such has nothing to do with breaking the fast.
That in 1532 Marot actually was accused of having broken the fast, even in a
context of a frame up, was known, but this legend about 1526 apparently was so
appealing, that it was seldom reconsidered.
The three other poems in this curious collection seem to deal with the way Marot
finally got out of prison. In a ‘fabulous’ epistle to his friend Lyon Jamet,
Marot likens himself to a rat that has been trapped, and now invokes the help of
a ‘Lyon’ to get out. Incidentally, the rat got caught “pour autant qu’il avoit /
mangé le lard, & la chair toute crue”.
One can hardly avoid the impression that Marot deliberately created a
hermeneutic confusion by playing semantic games with the proverbial expression
‘il a mangé le lard’. In the rondeau parfaict Marot celebrates his liberation.
Even if one wants to take all references serious, it is undeniable that these
four poems seriously ‘Villon‑ise’ the story of Marot’s imprisonment.
The one remaining poem therefore seems a bit incongruous. It is an epistle
addressed to a certain Monsieur Bouchard (or Bouchart, as in later
editions) who is identified as a Docteur en Theologie. Here
no mysterious phrases, no mystifying images, no ‘Villon-esque’ elements, but a
clear reference to his captivity on the accusation of Lutheranism.
Most of the time only the first part of this epistle is analysed, in which Marot
refutes the accusation, but the rest of the poem is also worth while, and since
it plays a role in our interpretation, we quote the entire text from the first
edition. Epistre qu’il
envoya a Bouchard, docteur en Theologie, is the ‘legend’ which heads this
Donne response à mon present affaire,
Docte docteur. Qui t’a induict à faire
Emprisonner depuis six jours en ça
Ung tien amy, qui onc ne t’offensa?
Et vouloir mettre en luy crainte, & terreur
D’aigre justice, en disant que l’erreur
Tiens de Luther? Point ne suis Lutheriste,
Ne Zvinglien, encores moins Papiste,
Je ne fuz onq, ne suys, & ne seray,
Sinon Chrestien, & mes jours passeray
S’il plaist a Dieu, soubz son filz IESVchrist.
Je suis celluy, qui ay faict maint escript,
Dont ung seul vers on n’en sçauroit extraire,
Qui à la Loy divine soit contraire.
Je suis celuy, qui prends plaisir, & peine
A louer Christ, & sa Mere tant pleine
De grâce infuse: et pour bien l’esprouver,
On le pourra en mes escriptz trouver.
Brief, celluy suis, qui croit, honnore, & prise
La saincte, vraie, & catholique Eglise.
Aultre doctrine en moy en veulx bouter:
Ma Loy est bonne. Et si ne fault doubter,
Qu’à mon pouvoir ne la prise, & exaulce,
Veu qu’ung Payen prise la sienne faulse.
Que quiers tu donc, ô Docteur catholique?
Que quiers tu donc? As tu aulcune picque
Encontre moy? ou si tu prends saveur
A me trister dessoubz aultruy faveur?
Je croy que non: mais quelcque faulx entendre
T’a faict sur moy telle rigueur estendre.
Doncques refrains de ton couraige l’ire.
Que pleust à Dieu, qu’ores tu peusses lire
Dedans mon corps de franchise interdit,
Le cueur verrois aultre qu’on ne t’a dit.
A tant me tais, cher Seigneur nostre Maistre,
Te suppliant, à ce coup amy m’estre.
Et si pour moy à raison tu n’es mis,
Fais quelcque chose au moins pour mes amys,
En me rendant par une horsboutée
La liberté, laquelle m’as ostée.
The situation seems clear: someone has accused Marot of Lutheranism (‘l’erreur…
de Luther’, v. 7‑8) and induced a member of the Faculty of Theology, named
Docteur Bouchard, to demand his imprisonment. This theological doctor is
beseeched to drop the charge and set him free (‘Fais quelcque chose… en me
rendant… la liberté’, v. 35‑38); the accusation is false (‘Point ne suis
Luthériste’, v. 7-8); everything can be reduced to rumours and misunderstanding
(‘faulx entendre’, v. 27‑28). As clear as the references are when staying
inside the text of the epistle, things get confused when
the references have to correspond to persons and situations outside the text.
The identification of the addressee no longer poses a problem. Excavation
of the registers of the Faculty of Theology has quasi certified that it must
have been Nicolas Bouchart, a theological doctor,
matriculated at the Faculty of Theology since 1518.
This assessment concluded almost half a century of fiery discussion among Marot
scholars, in which Jean Bouchart, Nicolas Bouchart and Geoffrey Boussart have
all been nominated and, to add to the chaos, been
Some other questions though remain unresolved, even concerning this
a plea like this is only useful when it is addressed to a person
with the competence to do what he is asked to do, there is
the rub. The
Faculty of Theology had no jurisdiction whatsoever, not even in
matters of faith. Prosecuting heresy was the privilege and the duty of the
Church (ecclesiastical courts) and of the king, be it in person, be it through
the Parlements. The Faculty of Theology of course was consulted as expert
witness (defining heresy, screening books, drawing up reports), but it had no
right to prosecute, nor to set free.
This epistle though clearly suggests that this particular theological doctor had
acted as a prosecutor (‘faire emprisonner’, v. 3) and was in the position to set
him free (‘me rendant… la liberté, laquelle m’as ostée’, v. 37-38).
But this is not the only difficulty. The Châtelet in which Marot was
imprisoned according to L’Enfer was the prison of the Paris police;
people jailed there were accused of civil or criminal offences, not of heresy.
The Parlement had its own prison (the Conciergerie) and that was
indeed the place where for instance Louis de Berquin, accused of heresy, was
awaiting his trial. The next complication originates from the fact that Louise
de Savoie, the Queen-regent in 1525, had accredited the formation of a special
inquisitory commission to combat the spread of heresy.
Any case connected with Lutheranism would automatically come under their
jurisdiction, making it hardly imaginable that the king’s valet de chambre,
Clément Marot, could have been accused of Lutheranism in Paris in 1526, and that
his case would not have been acted upon by this official inquisitorial panel,
but by a Docteur en Theologie. No completely satisfactory answers to
these questions have been put forward yet. Often some informal circuit is
conjectured to address the first difficulty (Nicolas addressing his brother
Jean, avocat en Parlement), sailing around the remaining questions about
the by‑pass of the inquisitorial commission and the oddity of the place of
custody, the Châtelet.
I suggest to not ignore these problems any longer, nor skirt
around them by resorting to conjectures, since an aporia of this
kind might well be a strong counter-indication with regard to the general
theory, i.e. an appeal to deconstruct the usual view and try to gain a new
perspective on Marot’s prison experience and his poems surrounding it, to which
we now turn.
First it is noteworthy, that all elemegnts causing the aporia are
connected to the assumption that the epistle to Bouchart refers to Marot’s 1526
However, if scrutinised, no hard evidence for this allocation can be found. The
epistle itself is silent about concrete circumstances (no place, no nor year is
mentioned); the heading under which it is subsumed (Oeuvres, qu’il feit en la
prison…) is not specific either; and the poems, with which it forms part of
this collection, also provide no concrete information. In
short, it could be any imprisonment, and, as far as we know, Marot has
been imprisoned (or at least arrested) three times.
The reason why it is generally accepted that this epistle
refers to the 1526 imprisonment comes to light if one realises that in
1542 Etienne Dolet added the same collection of prison poems as an appendix to
his edition of L’Enfer , thus suggesting that they all should be linked
to the same event, i.c. Marot’s 1526 imprisonment, which is attested for
However, we are not obliged to follow Dolet. His edition was
unauthorised, and editorial juxtaposition does not imply historical
correspondence. We only have the texts and the (known) historical facts.
Concerning the text, no one can guarantee that the epistle to Bouchart is any
older than the editio princeps (1534), nor can anyone guarantee that an –
if existing – older version was not adapted, rewritten, reoriented or even
readdressed in view of publication.
An effective way to tackle this problem, might well be to begin imagining the
situation of the first readers. They got to know this epistle without any
reference to L’Enfer. Instead they received the
text surrounded by four poems referring to an imprisonment with the odour of a
‘frame up’ (‘il a mangé le lard’). To this the epistle to
Bouchart adds the accusation of Lutheranism, including the prosecuting
activity of Docteur Bouchart. Reading is interpreting, not only half a
millennium post factum, but also for a contemporary reader. He also had
to establish the main references of the text he was reading: which occasion,
which imprisonment - and what about that Docteur Bouchart?
To begin with the last element: in 1534 Nicolas Bouchart was
no longer an unknown doctor. Only recently (1st July 1533) he had been
appointed in a special commission of the Faculty of Theology, dealing with the
charges of heresy concerning the sermons of Gérard Roussel, Marguerite of
Navarra’s personal almoner.
Roussel had been preaching the Lenten sermons in the Louvre and according to
reports gathered by the Faculty of theology, these sermons were permeated with
the perverse doctrines of the Lutherans. The committee, to which Bouchart was
added in July, was charged with drawing up a list of the articles of heresy
extracted from Roussel’s sermons to be sent to the king. In May 1533 the
Faculty’s syndic, Noel Beda, and some of the most fiery anti-Roussel
preachers were banished from town, and Roussel was put under house‑arrest until
the king would return and settle the affair himself. The banishment was lifted
in December 1533, but the ‘case Roussel’ was only resolved in Spring 1534.
Bouchart was added to this committee with the special task of
approaching the king concerning this matter. An epistle addressed to him,
dealing with the accusation of Lutheranism, published in 1534, seems
oddly to the point and topical.
Further, some elements that sound a little bit
peculiar referring to Marot, sound natural when they are connected with Roussel,
viz. the reference to the many writings on religious matters, in which nothing
un‑orthodox will be found (‘maints escripts / Dont ung seul vers on n’en
sçauroit extraire, / Qui à la Loy divine soit contraire’, v. 10). Marot had
written some Christian poems, indeed, and perfectly orthodox, but certainly not
‘many writings’. In the context of Roussel’s trial this phrase though is
entirely adequate, since screening his texts and the written reports about his
sermons, was exactly what the theological doctors were doing, preparing their
report for the king. Similar observations can be made concerning the way the
loyalty to Dogma and Church is stressed, including a theologically correct
statement about Mary, being ‘pleine de grace infuse’ (v.17‑18).
With respect to the imprisonment mentioned in the title of the addendum
and in this poem, it is not hazardous to surmise that a 1534
reader would not initially have thought of Marot’s 1526 imprisonment,
since a much more spectacular and publicly known imprisonment would probably
immediately have come to mind. During Lent 1532, six
prominent courtiers, among whom Marot, had been arrested charged “d’avoir mangé
de la chair durant le temps de Karesme & autres jours prohibez”.
This arrest stayed a hot issue for a long time, because very soon it became
apparent that it was a scheme, intended to frame Meigret, or to say it in
French: ‘il a mangé le lard’.
Marot’s imprisonment was almost immediately lifted, because of the intervention
of Marguerite’s secretary, Estienne Clavier, who bailed him out. Mid 1534
Meigret was the only one still in prison; on 30 August 1534 he was publicly
disgraced and exiled. He settled in Geneva. All poems from the 1534 addendum
satisfactorily explained with reference to this arrest, in particular
because of the amalgam of breaking the fast and being trapped. This time the
epistle to Bouchart seems to be the odd poem out, since there
is no available evidence to link him to this affair.
Nevertheless, if read this way the publication of Marot’s epistle to Bouchart
becomes a surprisingly topical initiative, addressing the issues of the day, or
of very recent days. The problem of the addressee not having authority (so
disturbing in the 1526 hypothesis), is non‑existent in 1533‑1534, since Nicolas
Bouchart is not addressed in his function as a docteur en Theologie, but
as a member of the special Roussel investigation committee, dealing with cases
of heresy. He was the right man on the right place to raise the matter of
Lutheranism. The ‘Docteur catholique’ is reminded not to make
a judgment based
on spite (‘aulcune pique’, v. 24), or to render someone else a favour (‘aultruy
faveur’, v. 26), let alone to condemn someone based on hear‑say, so assailable
and open to misinterpretations (‘quelcque faulx entendre’, v. 27).
Instead of listening to what ‘people say’, Bouchart is exhorted to read the
heart of the ones who are so easily accused of heresy, and he will soon discover
that the heart of the accused is pure and only filled with Christian sentiments
(‘Le cueur verrois aultre qu’on ne t’a dit’, v. 32). They are
not heretics but Christians, and to confess oneself a Christian must be
sufficient, no adjective required (‘Je ne fuz onq, ne suys, & ne seray, sinon
Chrestien’, v. 9a-b). And if Bouchart does not want to do this for him, let him
then consider doing this for his friends, Marot adds
suggestively and equivocally: “Fais quelcque chose au moins pour mes amys” (v.
36). That is his ‘present affair’ (v. 1) for which he asks the Doctor’s
Whether the epistle itself is based on an earlier letter,
dispatched to Bouchart, concerning an actual imprisonment of Marot on a charge
of Lutheranism (either in 1526 or 1532), can be affirmed nor denied. But
answering this question is less important for the interpretation of the epistle
than the amount of energy invested in it, suggests. Whether factual or
fictional, or a combination of both, the publication itself might well be the
most relevant hermeneutical key for the interpretation of this poem. In my
opinion it is hardly imaginable that the poet and the publisher were not aware
of this effect and thus must have intended such a reading.
Publication of a text is always also a redefinition of the referents. So
we conclude that Marot, in the epistle to Bouchart pleads for anyone who is
accused of Lutheranism, transforming his own former suffering in a
plea for a fair trial of current prisoners. By
publishing this epistle, he not only addresses doctor Bouchart, but via him all
theological doctors involved in tracking down heresy, challenging them to think
twice when someone is accused of Lutheranism: they might well
be simply Christians. This is what Clément Marot wanted the public to
know, by publishing this epistle in 1534.
For this aspect, see David Nicholls, ‘Heresy and Protestantism,
1520‑1542: questions of perception and communication’, French History
10/2 (1996), p. 182‑205. He signals that in the 1520s and 1530s the term
‘Lutheran’ could be used as reference to anyone « who took too much
interest in religious matters, was too curious and too knowledgeable
about them and therefore capable or taking on churchmen on their own
ground ». The reference to ‘Lutheranism’ is present in Marot’s own
account in L’Enfer (v. 350: “Clement n’est poinct le nom de
Lutheriste”) and in the epistle to Monsieur
Bouchart (see infra). In the letters issuing a warrant
for Marot’s arrest there is only a general reference to ‘heresy’. See
below note NOTEREF _Ref202870507 \h 4.
The Spanish captivity of the king (February 1525‑March 1526) had caused
a serious crisis of the monarchy, exploited by the Parlement to
extend its sphere of influence. After his return the king had to reclaim
his authority over and against the Parlement, succeeding only in
1527 during a lit de justice. For this matter see Robert J.
Knecht, Un prince de la Renaissance: François Ier et son
royaume, transl. Patrick Hersant (s.l. 1998), p. 263‑266.
Marguerite d’Alençon was not only the protector but also the instigator
of many reformative initiatives.
References to Marot’s texts are taken from Clément Marot, Oeuvres
Poétiques, ed. G. Defaux, 2 vols. (Paris, 1990‑1992); we use the
abbreviations ‘Defaux I’ and ‘Defaux II’. This poem: Defaux II, p.
19‑33; notes and comments, p. 799‑812. Marot read this poem to the king
and it must have circulated – and not only among friends as can be
inferred from a reference to it in the Marot’s Epistre au Roy, du
temps de son exil à Ferrare (v. 21-22: “trop me sont ennemys / pour
leur Enfer, que par escript j’ay mys.”, Defaux II, p. 80). For a general
assessment, see Jacques Berchtold, ‘L’ENFER: Les enjeux d’une
transposition mythique’, in Clément Marot “prince des poëtes
françois” 1496-1996: actes du colloque international de Cahors en Quercy
21-25 mai 1996, ed. Gérard Defaux and Michel Simonin (Paris,
1997), p. 625‑643.
This information is supplied by Marot himself in the prologue of
L’Enfer (Defaux II, p. 19) and corroborated by external evidence,
consisting of two letters (dated 13 March 1526) dispatched by the Bishop
of Chartres, Louis Guillard, mentioning the accusation of heresy and
demanding his arrest and transfer to Chartres. They suggest that the
official prosecutor (promotor) had compiled a file against Marot
concerning a number of offences, even heresy (“super nonnullis
excessibus delictis et criminibus, etiam haeresis, per Clementem Marot
commissis et perpetratis”). In the first letter the bishop asks his
apparitors to undertake the necessary action; in the second he
issues a warrant of Marot’s arrest, addressed to the provost and
bailiffs of Paris and surroundings. This letter supposes that Marot was
not caught yet (“ut capiatur… si ipsum reperire poteritis, capi et
incarcerari faciatis et mandetis…”). The letters were published in
Gallia Christiana, vol. 8, p. 408‑409 and printed in the
biographical volume of Guiffrey’s edition of Marot’s Oeuvres,
vol. 1 (Paris, 1875), p. 107‑108; also in C.A. Mayer, La religion de
Marot (Paris, 1973), p. 11.
Le Premier Livre de la Metamorphose d’Ovide (Paris, E. Roffet,
Bibliographie, n° 21. There is some uncertainty about the date,
since the title page mentions both 1533 and 1534, but generally 1534 is
accepted, since the editio princeps of the Metamorphose
already dates from 1534 (Mayer, Bibliographie, n° 18). The line
of reasoning: additions are added, so an edition with additions is
posterior to one without. Description in Villey, Tableau
chronologique des publications de Marot (Geneva, 1973), p.
Rondeau De l’inconstance d’Ysabeau (Defaux I, p. 176‑177). The
ballad Contre celle qui fut s’Amye is linked to this poem in the
first line: “Ung jour rescripviz à m’Amye / Son inconstance seulement”
(Defaux I, p. 126).
Pierre Villey, Les grands écrivains du XVIe siècle, Marot et Rabelais
(Paris, 1923), p. 22, had already observed that Marot in the
ballad plays with ‘un vieux dicton’; a conclusive assessment is provided
by Michael Screech, Marot évangélique (Geneva, 1967), p. 39-45
(quotes are from the English re-edition: M.A. Screech, Clément Marot:
A Renaissance poet discovers the Gospel… (Leiden, 1994), p. 40‑45).
Screech makes a quite convincing case that ‘il a mange le lard’ was a
proverbial expression in Marot’s days: “Marot did not invent it. It was
much at home in Mediaeval French as it was in the French of Marot’s day.
It means he is wrongly accused of some crime or other. It was applied to
scapegoats”. (p. 40). He gives examples from dictionaries, Deschamps
(even the rhyme: ‘papelard/lard’), and Guéroult. A reference to breaking
the fast is even syntactically impossible (then it should have been: ‘il
a mangé du lard’). Also the ‘lard’ (bacon) is odd, except in the
proverb, where it refers to the lure (Ibid., p. 42). Cf. Cotgrave’s
French‑English dictionary of 1611, in which several proverbs with ‘lard’
are recorded: “il a mangé le lard: He is most guiltie, or he only
is guiltie, of that theft; A la fin sçaura on qui a mangé le lard:
A theefe, how cunning soever, will at the length be discovered”.
A notable exception is Marcel Françon (for references see note 19),
who proposed to assign a date posterior to 1532 to those poems from the
addendum that refer to, or play with, the phrase ‘il a mangé le
lard’. C.A. Mayer, Clément Marot (Paris, 1972), p. 84-85,
provides a short summary of the traditional view and then (p. 85-131)
discusses in much detail the different positions and the historical
evidence concerning the breaking of the fast in 1532. He surmises that
the inculpation of 1532 was a resumption of the 1526 affair (p.
102‑103). The same suggestion with Ph.A. Becker, Clement Marot, sein
Leben und seine Dichtung (Munich, 1926), p. 39: “Offenbar handelt es
sich um die alte, noch ungesühnte Schuld.” In so doing, both subordinate
an established affair (1532) under a conjectural (1526).
Epistre à son amy Lyon (Defaux I, p. 92‑94). The quote is v. 19.
The informed reader will by now have concluded that the combination of
eating ‘le lard’ and ‘la chaire toute crue’ is not a redoubling, but a
playful combination of the proverb and the narrative of the
fable, using the verb they share: ‘manger’. In the narrative the ‘raw
meat’ is the ‘lure’, causing the rat to get trapped, the last being
expressed using the proverb.
Marot published Les Oeuvres de François Villon in
September 1533. This link is already traditional: “Ne s’amuse‑t‑il pas
plutôt à exploiter le cas de F. Villon?” (Defaux I, p. 473); “Isabeau
est sans doute un nom fictif, peut‑être même une personne fictive,
conçue par Marot à l’exemple de François Villon qui attribuait tous ses
malheurs à l’inconstance de sa maîtresse.” (Frank Lestringant in his
edition of L’Adolescence clementine (Paris, 1987), p. 373). See
also Pauline M. Smith,
Clement Marot, poet of the French Renaissance (London,1970), p.
Defaux I, p. 91‑92; notes p. 473‑475. Since Defaux published the
text of the 1538 edition of Marot’s Oeuvres (Lyon,
Dolet/Gryphius, 1538), we used the critical apparatus to reconstruct the
In 1538 these four lines are contracted in two: “Ne Zvinglien, & moins
Anabatiste: / Si non de Dieu par son filz Jesuchrist”. In an erratum the
last line is corrected: “Je suis de Dieu…”. Since always the 1538
edition is published, we maintained the usual numbering, hence the odd
numbering of v. 9. The denial of being a ‘Papiste’ (1534) is defiant,
but in line with the Gallican reflex of the French Church, although the
‘encores moins’ which precedes it, remains risky. That Marot in 1538
changed ‘Papiste’ in ‘Anabatiste’ might well be a sign of an increased
caution, but does not affect the main purport: a formal anti‑partisan
confession, complemented by a straightforward basic profession: ‘I am a
Christian’. To confess oneself a Christian must be sufficient, no
adjective required. For this passage, see also M. Screech,
Renaissance poet, p.11-34 (or in French, Marot Evangélique,
p. 15-33). Screech signals that Marot in these phrases (and even more in
his Epistle to King Francis, written from exile in Ferrara) echoes the
statement of the apostle Paul in I Corinthians 1,12-13, showing en
passant that withdrawing oneself on Christ while rejecting all
religious factions, is typical for the entire evangelical
reform-oriented movement. It also strongly resembles Erasmus’s attitude
in Epistola 1041, which appeared in print in 1519 (appended to
the Colloquia edition of Martens in Louvain of November 1519):
“Ego nec reuchlinita sum nec ullius humanae factionis. Ista dissidii
nomina detestor. Christianus sum et Christianos agnosco”. (Allen, 1041,
Opus Epistolarum, vol. 4, p. 121).
J.K. Farge, Biographical register of Paris Doctors of Theology,
1500-1536 (Toronto, 1980), p. 47‑49. The orthography varies:
Bochart, Bochard, Bouchart, Bouchard. Nicolas can also be linked to
Chartres, since bishop Louis Guillard, acted as his patron, and made him
a canon there . (p. 48).
Jean Bouchart was a lawyer both active at the Faculty of Theology and
the Parlement, Nicolas (his brother) was a theological doctor and
a canon, first in Tournai, then in Chartres. Geoffrey Boussart was Dean
of the Faculty of Theology. The first was in the past often confused
with the second, and sometimes with the third. The candidacy of the
third has to be discarded since orthographic freedom allowed variation
in writing ‘Bouchart’ (with
ou or o, with t or d), but not with ss
(for this see Defaux I, p. 477). Nicolas, but mixed up with his
brother, was Becker’s candidate (Clement Marot, sein Leben und seine
Dichtung, p. 36‑37). Boussart was Screech’s nominee (1966) and Jean
Bouchart Mayer’s favourite (for references about his position, see note
16). The evidence produced by Farge
formally closed the discussion, especially since he not only identified
Nicolas, but also clearly distinguished him from the others (Farge,
Biographical registers, p. 48‑49). A summary can be found in Defaux
I, p. 474. In 1994 Screech, Renaissance poet, p. 27, stuck to his
candidate (Boussart), playing down the relevance of the exact
identification, suggesting that Marot might have rewritten the epistle
before publishing it. Mayer stuck to his candidate.
For this, see Francis M. Higman, Censorship and the Sorbonne: a
bibliographical study of books in French censured by the Faculty of
Theology of the University of Paris, 1520-1551 (Geneva, 1979), p.
15‑16 (the Faculty of Theology) and p. 19‑21 (the Parlement and
the king). The remark of Mayer, Clément Marot, p. 98: “Or un
théologien… n’avait le pouvoir ni de lancer des mandats d’amener, ni
d’ordonner la mise en liberté d’un prisonnier” therefore remains to the
This is the main reason why Mayer in 1991 (sc. after the publication of
the registers of the Faculty by Farge) kept rejecting the seemingly
irrefutable identification of Nicolas Bouchart. He maintained his
earlier idea, that it must have been Jean Bouchart (Nicolas’s brother, a
lawyer attached to the Faculty of Theology and avocat en Parlement),
very active in the hearings of Bishop Briçonnet in 1525. He was in a
position to prosecute on behalf of the Parlement. Though
pertinent in his criticism, his alternative is not convincing: Why would
Marot have addressed such a renowned lawyer as a ‘Docteur en Theologie,
‘Docte docteur’, ‘Docteur catholique’, and ‘Seigneur nostre Maistre’ (Magister
noster)? For this see C. A. Mayer, ‘L’avocat du roi d’Espagne, Jean
Bouchard, le Parlement de Paris, Guillaume Briçonnet et Clément Marot’,
BSHPF 137 (1991), p. 7‑24; Id, La religion, p. 14; Id.,
Clément Marot, p. 96‑102.
This commission consisted of four special judges, two doctors of the
Faculty of Theology and two lawyers of the Parlement. For a
survey see J.K. Farge, Orthodoxy and reform in early Reformation
France: the Faculty of Theology of Paris, 1500-1543 (Leiden, 1985),
p. 181‑183; a list of people prosecuted by this tribunal, Ibid., p.
258‑259; See also Mayer, La religion de Marot, p. 16‑18 and in
‘appendix 1’ the texts of the Remontrances du Parlement and the
correspondence between Louise de Savoie and the pope (p. 139‑148)
concerning this commission.
This is the suggestion of Farge, Biographical register, p. 48‑49.
He is followed by Defaux (I, p. 474). Only Mayer seems to worry about
these issues, hence his obstinate support for Jean Bouchart (see above
note 16). Concerning the non‑intervention
of the delegated judges Mayer can not but conclude to “une curieuse
carence de la part d’un corps constitué spécialement pour combattre
l’hérésie”. (Mayer, La religion, p. 18). However, he overlooks
the possibility that, if the ‘case Marot’ is enrolled from an
ecclesiastical court, as seems to have been the case in Marot’s case
(see above note 4), then the special
judges were not involved, since ecclesiastical courts had full authority
to judge clerics and laymen in matters concerning faith (Higman,
Censorship and the Sorbonne, p. 16-19).
As far as I know, the only one who has seriously questioned this
allocation is Marcel Françon. In 1940 he suggested to allocate the
rondeau and the ballad to the 1532 affair of breaking the
laws of abstinence, and at the time of his edition of L’Enfer
(Cambridge, 1960) he extended this to all poems from the addendum,
excepting the epistle to Bouchart, since there he finds a clear
reference to the 1526 accusation of heresy, c.q. Lutheranism. Marcel
Françon, ‘Marot au Châtelet’, Modern Language Notes 55 (1940), p.
1-8; id., ‘À propos de L'Enfer de Clément Marot’, Renaissance
Quarterly 22 (1969), p. 229-233. Also the uncertainty in dating the
poems from the addendum in older research is telling. For a
survey, see Francon, ‘Marot au Châtelet’, p. 3.
Spring 1526 (L’Enfer), Autumn 1526 (generally called l’affaire
de rescousse, since Marot was arrested after having tried to rescue
another person/persons, who was/were arrested) and Spring 1532 (accused
of having broken the laws of abstinence by eating meat).
This is announced on the title page: L’Enfer … Item aulcunes Ballades
& Rondeaux appartenants à l’argument, ‘l’argument’ being Marot’s
1526 imprisonment. Transformed in an appendix of
L’Enfer, the 1534 section is now headed: Sensuyt la prinse de
Marot. This editorial manoeuvre is hailed by Defaux: “C’est Etienne
Dolet, qui… a eu l’insigne mérite de regrouper tous les poèmes relatifs
à ce que lui‑même appelle ‘la Prinse de Marot’”. It is supposed to
facilitate a ‘better appreciation’ (Defaux II, p. 803). He should have
been more cautious. It might well have caused the opposite effect. This
simple editorial juxtaposition subsumed the other poems under L’Enfer
(undeniably connected to 1526), causing them to adopt its historical
reference: a literary example of the law of gravitation.
There is a consensus that the text of the epistle published probably is
not identical to the original text dispatched from jail. Mayer, La
religion, p. 14: “il n’est pas nécessaire… de croire que
l’épître à Bouchart ait vu le jour dans les ténèbres du Châtelet.”;
Screech, Renaissance poet, p. 27: “It may have been
retouched… It may be doubted that this poem, as we have it, was a
missive sent to a distinguished theologian, without modification whilst
Marot was prisoner in the Châtelet.”.
This committee was established on 9 May 1533 to draw up a list of the
articles of heresy preached by Roussel in his Lenten sermons in order to
inform the king.
For facts and persons: Farge, Orthodoxy and Reform, p. 201‑203;
The text of King Francis’s ordonnance of 18 May 1533: Herminjard,
Correspondance, vol. 6, appendix: n°416bis, p. 445‑448. For a
detailed account of what happened in Paris in 1533‑1534, see V.‑L.
Bourrilly and N. Weiss, ‘Jean du Bellay, les protestants et la
Sorbonne’, BSHPF 53 (1903), p. 193‑231; BSHPF 54 (1904),
p. 97‑143. An assessment from the view of Le Picart (one of Beda’s most
popular preaching bachelors, banned from Paris) in L.J. Taylor,
Heresy and orthodoxy in sixteenth‑century Paris (Leiden, 1999), p.
45‑70. The king only returned to Paris in February 1534. In March 1534
Roussel was cleared of the charge of heresy: “Gerardus Ruffus prorsus
liberatus est theologorum calumniis ac decreto Regis absolutus” (Letter
of Cop to Bucer d.d. 5 April 1534, Herminjard, Correspondance,
vol. 3, n° 458, p. 159).
Roussel was not the only one: files were compiled against other
preachers as well. In contemporary letters the number of four is
mentioned. For this, see Herminjard, Correspondance, vol. 3, n°
451 and n° 458. Next to Roussel, Couraud and Bertaut are named. We can
add that on 23 December 1533 Jean Morand, canon of Amiens, was denounced
by his own chapter for heretical preaching. He was arrested and his case
was sent to the Parlement and to the Faculty of Theology, which
passed its judgment on 15 July 1534. He was held in custody during that
period (Farge, Biographical registers, p. 337‑339).
L’Enfer not being published, it can not be taken for granted that
this imprisonment was common knowledge.
Arch. Nat. Registres du Parlement de Paris, X 1535, 150v° (quoted in
Mayer, Clément Marot, p. 103). Mark that contrary to the proverb
‘Il a mangé le lard’, the grammar is right and no ‘bacon’ is mentioned
(‘ de la chair’). Also present the necessary reference to make it an
offence: ‘Lent and regular fastdays’. This accusation is also recorded
in the Journal d’un bourgeois de Paris, p. 374 (quoted in Mayer,
Clément Marot, p. 106; La religion, p. 17). The author
even names all six, focussing on Laurent Meigret, a wealthy courtier
(surnamed ‘Il Magnificque’), one of the king’s financers. The way the
accusation of breaking the fast and Lutheranism is linked in the
Journal d’un bourgeois, is telling: “parce qu’il estoit lutherien et
mengeoit de la chair en caresme et aux vendredys et samedys”.
For a detailed assessment of this affair as a scheme to disgrace Laurent
Meigret, see Mayer, Clément Marot, p. 103‑108; also in La
religion de Marot, but in this book one should correct the year in
the title of the first chapter (‘Et la tentative d’arrestation en 1530’,
p. 11) and the erroneous erratum on p. 185 (‘pour 1530 lire 1534’),
the only correct year being 1532. Similar corrections on p. 17‑18, where
the 1532 affair is treated. The accusation of heresy (i.c. breaking the
fast) served as a pretext.
A tiny little phrase from a letter to the bishop of Auxerre, links
Bouchart’s patron, Louis Guillard, to the affair Meigret: “On ne dict
encores rien du Magnifique Meigret. L’accusateur de M. de Chartres le
porsuict roidement”. (quoted in Mayer, Clément Marot, p. 105).
This accuser then should have been Nicolas Bouchart, establishing a link
as weak as in the 1526 construction.
There is some intertext with the king’s letter of May 1533 to his
councillors in Paris, in which he classified the “propositions erronées,
hérétiques et scandaleuses, preschées… par le dit Me Gérard”
as being based only on hear‑say: “comme disent avoir entendu sans autre
information”. (Herminjard, Correspondance, vol. 6, n° 416bis, p.
Next to Gérard Roussel (accused based on oral reports) and Laurent
Meigret (framed and waiting for judgment) we can add a third friend of
Marot, who was imprisoned accused of Lutheranism: Nicholas Bourbon, an
already famous neo‑Latin poet (Nugae), who had written the
liminary poems for Marot’s Adolescence clementine, was imprisoned
in 1533 and had to stay in prison until May 1534. See V.‑L. Bourrilly
and N. Weiss, ‘Jean du Bellay, les protestants et la Sorbonne’, BSHPF
53 (1903), p. 228.