Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
French Renaissance

French Renaissance

Discussion
Ask a question about 'French Renaissance'
Start a new discussion about 'French Renaissance'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
French Renaissance is a recent term used to describe a cultural
Cultural movement
A cultural movement is a change in the way a number of different disciplines approach their work. This embodies all art forms, the sciences, and philosophies. Historically, different nations or regions of the world have gone through their own independent sequence of movements in culture, but as...

 and artistic movement
Art movement
An art movement is a tendency or style in art with a specific common philosophy or goal, followed by a group of artists during a restricted period of time, or, at least, with the heyday of the movement defined within a number of years...

 in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 from the late 15th century to the early 17th century. It is associated with the pan-European Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 that many cultural historians believe originated in northern Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 in the fourteenth century. The French Renaissance traditionally extends from (roughly) the French invasion of Italy
Italian Wars
The Italian Wars, often referred to as the Great Italian Wars or the Great Wars of Italy and sometimes as the Habsburg–Valois Wars, were a series of conflicts from 1494 to 1559 that involved, at various times, most of the city-states of Italy, the Papal States, most of the major states of Western...

 in 1494 during the reign of Charles VIII
Charles VIII of France
Charles VIII, called the Affable, , was King of France from 1483 to his death in 1498. Charles was a member of the House of Valois...

 until the death of Henry IV
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

 in 1610. This chronology notwithstanding, certain artistic, technological or literary developments associated with the Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

 arrived in France earlier (for example, by way of the Burgundy
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

 court or the Papal court in Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

); however, the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 of the 14th century and the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 kept France economically and politically weak until the late 15th century and this prevented the full use of these influences.

The reigns of Francis I of France
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

 (from 1515 to 1547) and his son Henry II
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

 (from 1547 to 1559) are generally considered the apex of the French Renaissance. After Henry II's unfortunate death in a joust, the country was ruled by his widow Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who was Queen consort of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II of France....

 and her sons Francis II
Francis II of France
Francis II was aged 15 when he succeeded to the throne of France after the accidental death of his father, King Henry II, in 1559. He reigned for 18 months before he died in December 1560...

, Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

 and Henry III
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

, and although the Renaissance continued to flourish, the French Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

  between Huguenots and Catholics ravaged the country.

Notable developments during the French Renaissance include the beginning of the absolutism in France, the spread of humanism
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

; early exploration of the "New World"
Age of Discovery
The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration and the Great Navigations , was a period in history starting in the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century during which Europeans engaged in intensive exploration of the world, establishing direct contacts with...

 (as by Giovanni da Verrazzano and Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier was a French explorer of Breton origin who claimed what is now Canada for France. He was the first European to describe and map the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, which he named "The Country of Canadas", after the Iroquois names for the two big...

); the importing (from Italy, Burgundy and elsewhere) and development of new techniques and artistic forms in the fields of printing, architecture, painting, sculpture, music, the science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

s and vernacular literature
French Renaissance literature
For more information on historical developments in this period see: Renaissance, History of France, and Early Modern France.For information on French art and music of the period, see French Renaissance....

; and the elaboration of new codes of sociability, etiquette and discourse.

The High Renaissance


In the late 15th century, the French invasion of Italy
Italian Wars
The Italian Wars, often referred to as the Great Italian Wars or the Great Wars of Italy and sometimes as the Habsburg–Valois Wars, were a series of conflicts from 1494 to 1559 that involved, at various times, most of the city-states of Italy, the Papal States, most of the major states of Western...

 and the proximity of the vibrant Burgundy
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

 court (with its Flemish
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 connections) brought the French into contact with the goods, paintings, and the creative spirit of the Northern
Northern Renaissance
The Northern Renaissance is the term used to describe the Renaissance in northern Europe, or more broadly in Europe outside Italy. Before 1450 Italian Renaissance humanism had little influence outside Italy. From the late 15th century the ideas spread around Europe...

 and Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

, and the initial artistic changes in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 were often carried out by Italian and Flemish artists, such as Jean Clouet
Jean Clouet
Jean Clouet was a miniaturist and painter who worked in France during the Renaissance. He was the father of François Clouet.-Biography:Clouet was allegedly born in Brussels....

 and his son François Clouet
François Clouet
François Clouet , son of Jean Clouet, was a French Renaissance miniaturist and painter, particularly known for his detailed portraits of the French ruling family.-Historical references:Clouet was born in Tours....

 and the Italians Rosso Fiorentino
Rosso Fiorentino
Giovanni Battista di Jacopo , known as Rosso Fiorentino , or Il Rosso, was an Italian Mannerist painter, in oil and fresco, belonging to the Florentine school.-Biography:...

, Francesco Primaticcio
Francesco Primaticcio
Francesco Primaticcio was an Italian Mannerist painter, architect and sculptor who spent most of his career in France.-Biography:...

 and Niccolò dell'Abbate
Niccolò dell'Abbate
Nicolò dell' Abate, sometimes Niccolò, was an Italian painter and decorator. He was of the Emilian school, and was part of the staff of artists called the School of Fontainebleau that introduced the Italianate Renaissance to France.-Biography:Niccolò dell'Abbate was born in Modena, the son of a...

 of the (so-called) first School of Fontainebleau
School of Fontainebleau
The Ecole de Fontainebleau refers to two periods of artistic production in France during the late Renaissance centered around the royal Château de Fontainebleau, that were crucial in forming the French version of Northern Mannerism....

 (from 1531). Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

 was also invited to France by Francis I, but other than the paintings which he brought with him, he produced little for the French king.

The art of the period from Francis I through Henry IV is often heavily inspired by late Italian pictorial and sculptural developments commonly referred to as Mannerism
Mannerism
Mannerism is a period of European art that emerged from the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520. It lasted until about 1580 in Italy, when a more Baroque style began to replace it, but Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century throughout much of Europe...

 (associated with Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 and Parmigianino
Parmigianino
Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola , also known as Francesco Mazzola or more commonly as Parmigianino or sometimes "Parmigiano", was an Italian Mannerist painter and printmaker active in Florence, Rome, Bologna, and his native city of Parma...

, among others), characterized by figures which are elongated and graceful and a reliance on visual rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

, including the elaborate use of allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 and mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

.

There are a number of French artists of incredible talent in this period including the painter Jean Fouquet
Jean Fouquet
Jean Fouquet was a preeminent French painter of the 15th century, a master of both panel painting and manuscript illumination, and the apparent inventor of the portrait miniature. He was the first French artist to travel to Italy and experience at first hand the Italian Early...

 of Tours (who achieved amazingly realistic portraits and remarkable illuminated manuscripts) and the sculptors Jean Goujon
Jean Goujon
Jean Goujon was a French Renaissance sculptor and architect.-Biography:His early life is little known; he was likely born in Normandy and may have traveled in Italy...

 and Germain Pilon
Germain Pilon
Germain Pilon was a French Renaissance sculptor.-Biography:He was born in Paris. Trained by his father and Pierre Bontemps, Pilon was an expert with marble, bronze, wood and terra cotta; from about 1555 he was providing models for Parisian goldsmiths...

.

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the French Renaissance was the construction of the Châteaux of the Loire Valley
Châteaux of the Loire Valley
The châteaux of the Loire Valley are part of the architectural heritage of the historic towns of Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Nantes, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours along the Loire River in France...

: no longer conceived of as fortresses, these pleasure palaces took advantage of the richness of the rivers and lands of the Loire
Loire
Loire is an administrative department in the east-central part of France occupying the River Loire's upper reaches.-History:Loire was created in 1793 when after just 3½ years the young Rhône-et-Loire department was split into two. This was a response to counter-Revolutionary activities in Lyon...

 region and they show remarkable architectural skill.

The old Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

 castle in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 was also rebuilt under the direction of Pierre Lescot
Pierre Lescot
Pierre Lescot was a French architect active during the French Renaissance, "the man who was first responsible for the implantation of pure and correct classical architecture in France." He was born in Paris....

 and would become the core of a brand new Renaissance château
Château
A château is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally—and still most frequently—in French-speaking regions...

. To the west of the Louvre, Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who was Queen consort of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II of France....

 had built for her the Tuileries palace with extensive gardens and a grotto
Grotto
A grotto is any type of natural or artificial cave that is associated with modern, historic or prehistoric use by humans. When it is not an artificial garden feature, a grotto is often a small cave near water and often flooded or liable to flood at high tide...

.
For more on architecture of the period, see French Renaissance architecture
French Renaissance architecture
French Renaissance architecture is the style of architecture which was imported to France from Italy during the early 16th century and developed in the light of local architectural traditions....

.


The French Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

 however dragged the country into thirty years of civil war which eclipsed much artistic production outside of religious and political propaganda.

Late Mannerism and early Baroque



The ascension of Henry IV of France
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

 to the throne brought a period of massive urban development in Paris, including construction on the Pont Neuf
Pont Neuf
The Pont Neuf is, despite its name, the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris, France. Its name, which was given to distinguish it from older bridges that were lined on both sides with houses, has remained....

, the Place des Vosges
Place des Vosges
The Place des Vosges is the oldest planned square in Paris.It is located in the Marais district, and it straddles the dividing-line between the 3rd and 4th arrondissements of Paris.- History :...

 (called the "Place Royale"), the Place Dauphine
Place Dauphine
The Place Dauphine is a public square located near the western end of the Île de la Cité in the first arrondissement of Paris. From the "square", actually triangular in shape, one can access the middle of the ancient bridge called the Pont Neuf. The bridge connects the left and right banks of the...

, and parts of the Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

.

Henry IV also invited the artists Toussaint Dubreuil
Toussaint Dubreuil
Toussaint Dubreuil was a French painter associated with the second School of Fontainebleau...

, Martin Fréminet
Martin Fréminet
Martin Fréminet , was a French painter.-Biography:According to the RKD he was a painter and engraver who is considered a member of the Second "School of Fontainebleau". He was the teacher of Toussaint Dubreuil who assisted him at Fontainebleau...

 and Ambroise Dubois
Ambroise Dubois
Ambroise Dubois , was a Flemish-born French painter.Dubois was a painter of the second School of Fontainebleau. His influences were Niccolò dell'Abbate and Francesco Primaticcio. Dubois painted primarily portraits and mythological scenes.-References:...

 to work on the château of Fontainebleau and they are typically called the second School of Fontainebleau
School of Fontainebleau
The Ecole de Fontainebleau refers to two periods of artistic production in France during the late Renaissance centered around the royal Château de Fontainebleau, that were crucial in forming the French version of Northern Mannerism....

.

Marie de Medici, Henry IV's queen, invited the Flemish
Flemish people
The Flemings or Flemish are the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Belgium, where they are mostly found in the northern region of Flanders. They are one of two principal cultural-linguistic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons...

 painter Peter Paul Rubens to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and the artist painted a number of large-scale works for the queen's Luxembourg Palace
Luxembourg Palace
The Luxembourg Palace in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, north of the Luxembourg Garden , is the seat of the French Senate.The formal Luxembourg Garden presents a 25-hectare green parterre of gravel and lawn populated with statues and provided with large basins of water where children sail model...

 in Paris. Another Flemish artist working for the court was Frans Pourbus the younger
Frans Pourbus the younger
Frans Pourbus the younger was a Flemish painter, son of Frans Pourbus the Elder and grandson of Pieter Pourbus. He was born in Antwerp and died in Paris...

.

Outside France, working for the dukes of Lorraine, one finds a very different late mannerist style in the artists Jacques Bellange
Jacques Bellange
Jacques Bellange was an artist and printmaker from the Duchy of Lorraine whose etchings and some drawings are his only securely identified works today. They are among the most striking Mannerist old master prints, mostly on Catholic religious subjects, and with a highly individual style...

, Claude Deruet
Claude Deruet
Claude Deruet was a famous French Baroque painter of the 17th century, from the city of Nancy.-Biography:Deruet was an apprentice to Jacques Bellange, the official court painter to Charles III, Duke of Lorraine. He was in Rome between ca. 1612 and 1619, where - according to André Félibien - he...

 and Jacques Callot
Jacques Callot
Jacques Callot was a baroque printmaker and draftsman from the Duchy of Lorraine . He is an important figure in the development of the old master print...

. Having little contact with the French artists of the period, they developed a heightened, extreme, and often erotic mannerism (including night scenes and nightmare images), and excellent skill in etching
Etching
Etching is the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal...

.

For a chronological list of French Renaissance artists, see here.

Music of the French Renaissance


Burgundy
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

, the mostly French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

-speaking area adjacent to and east of France, was the musical center of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 in the early and middle 15th century. Many of the most famous musicians in Europe either came from Burgundy, or went to study with composers there; in addition there was considerable interchange between the Burgundian court musical establishment and French courts and ecclesiastical organizations in the late 15th century. The Burgundian
Burgundian School
The Burgundian School is a term used to denote a group of composers active in the 15th century in what is now northern and eastern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, centered on the court of the Dukes of Burgundy. The main names associated with this school are Guillaume Dufay, Gilles Binchois,...

 style gave birth to the Franco-Flemish style of polyphony
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 which dominated European music in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. However, by the end of the 15th century, a French national character was becoming distinct in music of the French royal and aristocratic courts, as well as the major centers of church music
Christian music
Christian music is music that has been written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life and faith. Common themes of Christian music include praise, worship, penitence, and lament, and its forms vary widely across the world....

. For the most part French composers of the time shunned the sombre colors of the Franco-Flemish style and strove for clarity of line and structure, and, in secular music such as the chanson
Chanson
A chanson is in general any lyric-driven French song, usually polyphonic and secular. A singer specialising in chansons is known as a "chanteur" or "chanteuse" ; a collection of chansons, especially from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, is also known as a chansonnier.-Chanson de geste:The...

, lightness, singability, and popularity. Guillaume Dufay
Guillaume Dufay
Guillaume Dufay was a Franco-Flemish composer of the early Renaissance. As the central figure in the Burgundian School, he was the most famous and influential composer in Europe in the mid-15th century.-Early life:From the evidence of his will, he was probably born in Beersel, in the vicinity of...

 and Gilles Binchois
Gilles Binchois
Gilles de Binche , also known as Gilles de Bins , was a Franco-Flemish composer, one of the earliest members of the Burgundian School, and one of the three most famous composers of the early 15th century...

 are two notable examples from the Burgundian school during the early Renaissance period.

The most renowned composer in Europe, Josquin Des Prez
Josquin Des Prez
Josquin des Prez [Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez] , often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance...

, worked for a time in the court of Louis XII
Louis XII of France
Louis proved to be a popular king. At the end of his reign the crown deficit was no greater than it had been when he succeeded Charles VIII in 1498, despite several expensive military campaigns in Italy. His fiscal reforms of 1504 and 1508 tightened and improved procedures for the collection of taxes...

, and likely composed some of his most famous works there (his first setting of Psalm 129, De profundis
Psalm 130
Psalm 130 , traditionally De profundis from its Latin incipit, is one of the Penitential psalms.-Commentary:...

, was probably written for the funeral of Louis XII in 1515). Francis I, who became king that year, made the creation of an opulent musical establishment a priority. His musicians went with him on his travels, and he competed with Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 at the Field of the Cloth of Gold
Field of the Cloth of Gold
The Field of Cloth of Gold is the name given to a place in Balinghem, between Guînes and Ardres, in France, near Calais. It was the site of a meeting that took place from 7 June to 24 June 1520, between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France. The meeting was arranged to increase...

 in 1520 for the most magnificent musical entertainment; likely the event was directed by Jean Mouton
Jean Mouton
Jean Mouton was a French composer of the Renaissance. He was famous both for his motets, which are among the most refined of the time, and for being the teacher of Adrian Willaert, one of the founders of the Venetian School....

, one of the most famous motet
Motet
In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

 composers of the early 16th century after Josquin.

By far the most significant contribution of France to music in the Renaissance period was the chanson
Chanson
A chanson is in general any lyric-driven French song, usually polyphonic and secular. A singer specialising in chansons is known as a "chanteur" or "chanteuse" ; a collection of chansons, especially from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, is also known as a chansonnier.-Chanson de geste:The...

. The chanson was a variety of secular song, of highly varied character, and which included some of the most overwhelmingly popular music of the 16th century: indeed many chansons were sung all over Europe. The chanson in the early 16th century was characterised by a dactyl
Dactyl (poetry)
A dactyl is a foot in meter in poetry. In quantitative verse, such as Greek or Latin, a dactyl is a long syllable followed by two short syllables, as determined by syllable weight...

ic opening (long, short-short) and contrapuntal
Counterpoint
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

 style which was later adopted by the Italian canzona
Canzona
In the 16th century an instrumental chanson; later, a piece for ensemble in several sections or tempos...

, the predecessor of the sonata
Sonata
Sonata , in music, literally means a piece played as opposed to a cantata , a piece sung. The term, being vague, naturally evolved through the history of music, designating a variety of forms prior to the Classical era...

. Typically chansons were for three or four voices, without instrumental accompaniment, but the most popular examples were inevitably made into instrumental versions as well. Famous composers of these "Parisian" chansons included Claudin de Sermisy
Claudin de Sermisy
Claudin de Sermisy was a French composer of the Renaissance. Along with Clément Janequin he was one of the most renowned composers of French chansons in the early 16th century; in addition he was a significant composer of sacred music...

 and Clément Janequin
Clément Janequin
Clément Janequin was a French composer of the Renaissance. He was one of the most famous composers of popular chansons of the entire Renaissance, and along with Claudin de Sermisy, was hugely influential in the development of the Parisian chanson, especially the programmatic type...

. Janequin's Le guerre, written to celebrate the French victory at Marignano
Battle of Marignano
The Battle of Marignano was fought during the phase of the Italian Wars called the War of the League of Cambrai, between France and the Old Swiss Confederacy. It took place on September 13 and 15, 1515, near the town today called Melegnano, 16 km southeast of Milan...

 in 1515, imitates the sounds of cannon, the cries of the wounded, and the trumpets signaling advance and retreat. A later development of the chanson was the style of musique mesurée
Musique mesurée
Musique mesurée, or Musique mesurée à l'antique, was a style of vocal musical composition in France in the late 16th century. In musique mesurée, longer syllables in the French language were set to longer note values, and shorter syllables to shorter, in a homophonic texture but in a situation of...

, as exemplified in the work of Claude Le Jeune
Claude Le Jeune
Claude Le Jeune was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance. He was the primary representative of the musical movement known as musique mesurée, and a significant composer of the "Parisian" chanson, the predominant secular form in France in the latter half of the 16th century...

: in this type of chanson, based on developments by the group of poets known as the Pléiade under Jean-Antoine de Baïf
Jean-Antoine de Baïf
Jean Antoine de Baïf was a French poet and member of the Pléiade.-Life:He was born in Venice, the natural son of the scholar Lazare de Baïf, who was at that time French ambassador at Venice...

, the musical rhythm exactly matched the stress accents of the verse, in an attempt to capture some of the rhetorical effect of music in Ancient Greece (a coincident, and apparently unrelated movement in Italy at the same time was known as the Florentine Camerata
Florentine Camerata
The Florentine Camerata was a group of humanists, musicians, poets and intellectuals in late Renaissance Florence who gathered under the patronage of Count Giovanni de' Bardi to discuss and guide trends in the arts, especially music and drama...

). Towards the end of the 16th century the chanson was gradually replaced by the air de cour
Air de cour
The Air de cour was a popular type of secular vocal music in France in the very late Renaissance and early Baroque period, from about 1570 until around 1650...

, the most popular song type in France in the early 17th century.

The era of religious wars had a profound effect on music in France. Influenced by Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

, the Protestants produced a type of sacred music much different from the elaborate Latin motets written by their Catholic counterparts. Both Protestants and Catholics (especially the Protestant sympathizers among them) produced a variation of the chanson known as the chanson spirituelle, which was like the secular song but was fitted with a religious or moralizing text. Claude Goudimel
Claude Goudimel
Claude Goudimel was a French composer, music editor and publisher, and music theorist of the Renaissance.-Biography:...

, a Protestant composer most noted for his Calvinist-inspired psalm settings, was murdered in Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

 during the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots , during the French Wars of Religion...

. However, not only Protestant composers were killed during the era of conflict; in 1581, Catholic Antoine de Bertrand
Antoine de Bertrand
Antoine de Bertrand was a French composer of the Renaissance. Early in his life he was a prolific composer of secular chansons, and late in his life he wrote hymns and canticles, under the influence of the Jesuits...

, a prolific composer of chansons, was murdered in Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

 by a Protestant mob.

See also

  • Gardens of the French Renaissance
    Gardens of the French Renaissance
    The Gardens of the French Renaissance is a garden style largely inspired by the Italian Renaissance garden, particularly the gardens of Florence and Rome. King Charles VIII and his nobles brought the style back to France after their campaign in Italy in 1495...

  • Catherine de' Medici's patronage of the arts
    Catherine de' Medici's patronage of the arts
    Catherine de' Medici's patronage of the arts made a significant contribution to the French Renaissance. Catherine was inspired by the example of her father-in-law, King Francis I of France , who had hosted the leading artists of Europe at his court. As a young woman, she witnessed at first hand the...

  • Early Modern France
    Early Modern France
    Kingdom of France is the early modern period of French history from the end of the 15th century to the end of the 18th century...

  • Guillaume de La Perrière
    Guillaume de La Perrière
    Guillaume de La Perrière, was born in Toulouse in 1499 or 1503, and died in 1565, known for his writings and emblem books. His work is often associated with the French Renaissance. La Perrière chronicled events in his home city of Toulouse...

  • Georgette de Montenay
    Georgette de Montenay
    Georgette de Montenay was the French author of , published in Lyons between 1567-71. Montenay has always been regarded as a lady-in-waiting to Jeanne d'Albret, the Protestant Queen of Navarre, partly because she dedicated her work to the Queen...

  • Music history of France
    Music history of France
    -Medieval Period:Some of the earliest manuscripts with polyphony are organum from 10th century French cities like Chartres and Tours. A group of musicians from the Abbey of St. Martial in Limoges are especially important, as are the 12th century Parisian composers from whence came the earliest...


Further reading

  • Hampton. Timothy. Literature and Nation in the Sixteenth Century: Inventing Renaissance France (2003) 289p.
  • Holt, Mack P. Renaissance and Reformation France: 1500-1648 (The Short Oxford History of France) (2002) excerpt and text search
  • Knecht, R. J. The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France: 1483-1610 (2002) excerpt and text search
  • Pitts, Vincent J. Henri IV of France: His Reign and Age (2008)
  • Potter, David. Renaissance France at War: Armies, Culture and Society, c. 1480-1560, (2008)
  • Robin, Diana; Larsen, Anne R.; and Levin, Carole, eds. Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England (2007) 459p.