Chappuys, Claude


Cest la déduction du sumptueux ordre...


Rouen, Robert Le Hoy, Robert et Jean Du Gort, 1551


Paris, BnF, 4-LB31-25

Subject Entry



Between 1548 and 1551, Henri II made sumptuous ceremonial entries into the three main cities of his kingdom, Lyon, Paris and Rouen. We know about the last one of these thanks to the booklet that Margaret McGowan attributes to Claude Chappuys (1500-1575), describing in precise detail the proceedings and the scenery. Chappuys was a man of letters, a poet and cantor of the cathedral of Rouen. This entry stands out because of several unusual features which have attracted researchers’ attention for a long time. The main oddity was the celebrated and exotic performance of “cannibals”, staging indigenous Brazilians, widely discussed since the 19th century. But from the point of view of history of art and architecture, this entry introduces a few characteristics which differentiate from the preceding ones. The first is due to the fact that unlike the entries into Paris and Lyon, the entry into Rouen occurred soon after a victory: the capture of Boulogne invested by the French troops then bought back from the English in 1550 for 400,000 écus. This affair, concluding in a financial transaction, was not a very glorious prowess, but it passed for it: Ronsard wrote in the Hymn of Henri II of this name, king of France :

Et sans en faire bruit, par merveilleux efforts,
Tu avais jà conquis de Boulogne les forts,
Et par armes contraint cette arrogance anglaise
À te vendre Boulogne et la faire française.


Thus it was the occasion, for the entry, to blend elements openly borrowed from the antique ceremony of triumph which extolled the victorious consul with the traditional allegories and mythological festivities. Therefore, unlike in Lyons or Paris where no recent military success could be celebrated, in Rouen marched trumpeters, scale models of forts captured around Boulogne, and a whole paraphernalia of chariots and martial troops, including elephants (in fact disguised horses), borrowed from the Trionfi ofPetrarch, familiar in the Norman capital where they had already inspired several settings, including some bas-reliefs at the hôtel de Bourgtheroulde during the 1520s. There are also some explicit resemblances between the compositions provided by the engravings in the booklet and Mantegna’s paintings of the Trionfi,today at Hampton Court, which several engraved copies had made popular. In fact, the entry into Rouen is among all the celebrations commemorated in France and in the Empire during the middle of the 16th century the one in which architectural restitution of triumph in the antique style such as was represented at that time was the most thorough.
On the other hand, architecture does not seem to be favored. Triumphal arches are rare, with no precise references from antiquity, and are described superficially. The author was perhaps implicitly criticizing the booklet, very much characterized by the Vitruvanio-Serliano culture of Jean Martin in Paris in 1549. Chappuys hastens to sharpen his subject, specifying that for him it wasn’t a question of precisely describing the triumphal arches, but rather to render an account of the ceremony (f.[B3]). Nonetheless he is not without an architectural culture: in order to describe one of the war-carriages, he speaks of “cornices, metopes, triglyphs, ‘consolators’ and other architectural elements...”- ‘consolator’, a word referring to consoles and modillions also appears in Serlio’s Livre extraordinairein 1551. Further, the king sees a stage “carried by four brass harridons and crouching on stylobates instead of Persian columns, or caryatids”, then another in which “the front of each floor and pilaster was supported by stylobates, Tuscan, Doric and composite capitals, with diagonal proportions, mouldings, friezes, cornices and extended frontispieces of gold and polished silver”. The word “diagoné” was also used by Martin in the entry booklet of the 1549 entry to refer to the proportion of the Doric pedestal, whose height according to Serlio, is equal to the diagonal of a square equal to its width.
Therefore the author is aware of the most recent architectural theory, which would not be surprising if it really involves Claude Chappuys, François I’s librarian and secretary of Cardinal du Bellay. It is all the more surprising since the esthetics of several projects stand out in a form of modernity not yet seen explicitly in the Lyons and Paris entries: the interest in a “rustic” style close to nature, seen for example in the entry to the town bridge, where the king admired a large pile of artificial rocks covered with “moss, brambles, ivy and other trifles”. It was a penchant which was linked not only with Serlio’s Livre extraordinaire, but also with the one which would be expressed during the reigns of Henri II’s sons, for example in 1563 inthe Architecture et ordonnance de la grotte rustiqueby Bernard Palissy, and with more pomp, in Charles IX’s entry into Paris in 1572.

Yves Pauwels (CESR Tours) – 2022

Critical bibliography

J.-C. Arnoult, “Entrée à voir, entrée à lire : l’Entrée d’Henri II à Rouen et sa transcription littéraire (1550-1551)”, John Nassichuk (ed.), Vérité et fiction dans les entrées solennelles à la Renaissance et à l’âge classique, Québec, PUL, Les collections de la République des Lettres, Série « Symposiums », 2009, pp. 117-133.

F. Lestringant, Le Cannibale. Grandeur et décadence, Paris, Perrin, 1994.

V. E. Graham, “The Entry of Henry II into Rouen in 1550 : A Petrarchan Triumph”, K. Eisenbichler & A. Iannucci (eds), Petrarch’s Triumphs, Allegory and Spectacle, Ottawa, Dovehouse Editions, 1990, pp. 403-413.

I. Lettéron, Rouen. L’hôtel de Bourgthéroulde, demeure des Le Roux, Cahiers du Patrimoine, 44, Paris, L’Inventaire, 1996, pp. 136-140.

M. McGowan, “Forms and Themes in Henri II’s Entry into Rouen”, Renaissance Drama, 1, 1968, pp. 199-252.

M. McGowan, L'Entrée de Henri II à Rouen 1550. A facsimile with an introduction by Margaret M. McGowan, Amsterdam, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum ; New York, Johnson Reprint Corp., [1970].

J.-M. Massa, “Le monde luso-brésilien dans la joyeuse entrée of Rouen”, J. Jacquot & E. Konigson (eds), Les Fêtes de la Renaissance, vol. 3, CNRS, Paris, 1975, pp. 105-116.

Y. Pauwels, “L’architecture et ses représentations : miroirs de Charles IX ?”, L. Capodieci, E. Leutrat & R. Zorach (eds.), Miroirs de Charles IX. Images, imaginaires, symbolique, Genève, Droz, 2018, pp. 125-134.

B. Perrone-Moisés, “L’alliance normando-tupi au XVIe siècle : la célébration de Rouen”, Journal de la société des américanistes, 94-1.

M. Wintroub, “Civilizing the savage and making a king: the royal entry festival of Henri II (Rouen, 1550)”, Sixteenth Century Journal, 29 (2), 1998, pp. 465-494.

M. Wintroub, “L’ordre du rituel et l’ordre des choses : l’entrée royale d’Henri II à Rouen”, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 56ᵉ année, 2, 2001, pp. 479-505.