Tuesday, June 10, 2008

René D'Anjou: Le mortifiement de vaine plaisance

René d'Anjou was a storybook prince and a legend in his own lifetime. He was a dreamer and a romantic who through fame and misfortune managed to maintain an aura of romantic splendor. In addition to being a royal duke and a titular king (known as Good King René), he was an artist and a poet. René was intelligent, attractive, sensitive, tolerant, and fatalistic. He saw himself as a chivalric knight. He enjoyed jousting and even serious fighting. He planned many tournaments and wrote a famous treatise on the form and devising of a tournament. Throughout his life he was surrounded by outstanding women: his formidable mother Yolande of Aragon, his two wives Isabelle of Lorraine and Jeanne de Laval, and his daughter Marguerite, queen of England.(read more...).

The Mortifiement is an allegorical religious piece of 2666 lines, in prose, except for occasional verse insets. It commences with the Soul lamenting the tendency of her heart to fall victim to the vain pleasures of this world. The Soul is approached by two ladies, Fear of God and Contrition, who, in a dialogue, encourage the Soul to entrust her heart to them. The interaction of these figures is described by the Acteur, who is also present in the allegory, though chiefly as an observer and commentator. Fear and Contrition accomplish their task by instructing the Soul, mainly through presenting and interpreting three protracted exempla. The Soul then voluntarily commits her heart to the two ladies, who subsequently take it to a paradisaical garden where four additional ladies--Faith, Hope, Love and Divine Grace--nail it to a cross, in imitation of Christ, to purge it of its sin. Following this sacrificial bloodletting, Fear and Contrition return the purified heart to the Soul, who is moved to joyful and ecstatic expression of her love for God.
Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cod. Bodmer 144
René D'Anjou: Le mortifiement de vaine plaisance
XVe siècle

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