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Portrait d’Élisabeth de France, peinture à l’huile d’Antonio Moromusée du Louvre, seconde moitié du XVIe siècle (Photo credit: Wikipedia).
Portrait of Philip II by Titian, c. 1550 (Photo credit: Wikipedia).

Above is a portrait of Élisabeth de Valois, or Élisabeth de France (1545-1568). She was the first daughter born to Henri II of France and Catherine de’ Medici. It had been arranged for her to marry the King of Spain’s son: Carlos. However, the Prince’s father, Philip II, would not sign the long-awaited Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis unless he could marry Élisabeth. She was 14 and died during pregnancy at the age of 23. She had shared a bedroom with Mary Queen of Scots, Marie Stuart, since childhood. Marie Stuart, who married Francis II of France, was brought up in France and is referred to as the Queen-Dauphin. She would be Queen of France after Henri II sustained a serious injury in a tournament. He died on 10 July 1559. Ambroise Paré could not save him.

After constant entreaties, the Princess confesses that she is in love with another man. This scene is called l’aveu, the confession. But she will not say whom she loves. The Prince of Clèves is a bit of a villain. He is increasingly jealous. Madame de Clèves is an aristocrat but she was brought up by a virtuous mother away from the court, or the world. She will not enter into a liaison. Her only defence is to avoid seeing the Duc de Nemours. The Prince de Clèves opposes her wish. He will not accept absences, unless they are short.

La Princesse de Clèves is a realistic novel. In no way can it be associated with lengthy romances such as Honoré d’Urfée‘s L’Astrée, a pastoral, or other anciens romans. Her novel is a petit roman. She was influenced by Marguerite de Navarre’s L’Heptaméron,[1] but her novel is otherwise a roman fondateur, a foundind novel. (See La Princesse de Clèves, Wikipedia). The novel is currently read as a series. It is preceded by La Princesse de Montpensier and followed by La Comtesse de Tende. For the last few years, La Princesse de Montpensier has attracted considerable attention. It is a Franco-German film by Bertrand Tavernier, released in 2010.  

Madame de Clèves’s God is Lucien Goldman’s Dieu Caché, a Hidden God. But Goldman focusses on Blaise Pascal, Jean Racine, and Jansenism.

I apologize for publishing these posts slowly. I reread the novel three times. I am also older and life is teaching me new lessons. As well, my memory is now rather poor. So, I must convert to short posts or end my career as a blogger. The above is not my complete post, but nearly so.


Sources and Resources

La Princesse de Clèves is a Librivox and Internet Archive Publication FR.
La Princesse de Clèves is an ebooksgratuits.com Publication FR.
The Princess of Cleves is a Wikisource Publication EN.
La Princesse de Clèves is a Wikisource Publication FR.
La Princesse de Clèves is Gutenberg’s [eBook # 18797] FR.
La Princesse de Clèves is Gutenberg’s [eBook # 467] EN.
La Princesse de Clèves is a Librivox and Internet Archive Publication.

[1] Ellen J. Hunter-Chapco, Theory and Practice of the Petit Roman in France (1656-1683): Segrais, Du Plaisir, Madame de La Fayette, A Bibliographical Guide (Regina: University of Regina, 1977), p. 14 and elsewhere.

Love to everyone 💕

Henri II de France (Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
15 January 2021