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  • Les baptêmes princiers. Le cérémonial dans les cours de Savoie et Bourgogne (XVe-XVIe s)
  • Jörg Bölling
Les baptêmes princiers. Le cérémonial dans les cours de Savoie et Bourgogne (XVe-XVIe s). By Thalia Brero. [Cahiers Lausannois d'Histoire Médiévale, Volume 36.] (Lausanne: Université de Lausanne, Section d'Histoire, Faculté des Lettres. 2005. Pp. 468; 8 colored plates. CHF 42.00; €28.00 paperback.)

The courts of Savoy and especially Burgundy set precedents of great influence in late medieval and early modern Europe. Hence, scholars from various countries have focused on different aspects of the administration, ceremony, and culture of those territories. Ceremonies, however, of princely baptisms have not yet been examined systematically. Thalia Brero fills this lack with her very informative and well structured monograph.

The research is mainly based on the two earliest documented baptisms at the court of Savoy, i.e., those of the first and third sons of Charles II (1486–1553), Duke of Savoy, and Beatrix of Portugal (1504–1538). The first-born, Hadrian, called "Adrien" in French and "Adrianeo" by his biographer, the exiled Lombard eyewitness Antonin dal Pozzo, was baptized in 1522 at Ivrée. The third son, Emmanuel-Philibert, mentioned in a narrative source of the duke's herald "Bonnes Nouvelles" (Jean de Tournai) edited by Brero in the appendix, had the same right of a splendid ceremony performed in 1528 at Chambéry. Finally the princely baptisms are compared with corresponding occasions at other courts, especially Burgundy, but also France and England.

The book—besides the introduction and conclusion—is divided in eight unnumbered chapters. Furthermore it contains two edited documents, an appendix with special documents, a bibliography, and an index of persons and places.

In the first chapter ("Contexte historique") Brero gives some general background information about the political situation, the duke's marriage with the Portuguese princess, and the development of his court concerning original structure, relationship to his wife's court, and reorganization. In the following, the author presents the sources ("Les textes"), especially the accounts of the baptisms, but also reports, letters, and extracts from account books, regarding first the history of Savoy, and finally, taking into consideration Burgundy, England, and France. In the third chapter she turns the reader's attention to the special accounts of baptism in Savoy ("Les récits de baptême à la cour de Savoie") presenting in detail texts and authors.

Having laid out all this background information, Brero in the remaining chapters explains the historical sequence of events corresponding to the sources: the birth ("La naissance des petits princes"), the pageantry on the way from the palace to the church ("Du palais à l'église: l'apparat déployé pour les baptêmes princiers"), members and order of the procession ("La procession"), the baptism ceremony itself ("La cérémonie du baptême"), and the following festivities including banquets and tournaments ("Les festivités"). [End Page 278]

The examination of the texts can be followed up easily by the editions of Antonio dal Pozzo's "Adrianeo" and of Bonne Nouvelles' "Récit du baptême d'Emmanuel-Philibert de Savoie." Very useful are also the annexed documents ("Documents annexes"). The complicated precedence in the procession of the baptismal ceremonies is documented for several princes: Adrien de Savoie (1522), Emmanuel-Philibert de Savoie (1528), Charles-Emmanuel de Savoie (1567), and François de France (1518). The various persons can be identified by a genealogical table of the house of Savoy ("Tableau généalogique de Charles II") and by an extensive general biographical repertory ("Répertoire biographique") of all persons marked with a star in the main text.

Brero concludes that there was quite a great continuity of ceremony, obviously meant to express the will of dynastical perpetuation. While the processions did not change very much, as they demonstrated to the people the social hierarchy of the court, pageantry was much more a question of fashion. The Franco-Burgundy court ceremony became a model for other European courts. The ecclesiastical liturgy, however, remained more or less the same as for any Christian. The remaining problems are the function of the baptism...


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