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  • Protestantism, Poetry and Protest: The Vernacular Writings of Antoine de Chandieu (c. 1534-1591)
  • Kathryn Banks
Protestantism, Poetry and Protest: The Vernacular Writings of Antoine de Chandieu (c. 1534-1591). By S. K. Barker. (St Andrews Studies in Reformation History). Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009. xiv + 336 pp. Hb £65.00.

Protestantism, Poetry and Protest aims to underline Antoine de Chandieu's crucial role in French Protestantism, while also highlighting the importance of literature — especially poetry — in presenting Protestant experience of the Wars of Religion. To this end S. K. Barker does not consider Chandieu's Latin texts at any great length, but she does treat the entirety of his diverse vernacular output, whereas scholars have tended to focus only on particular aspects of it, depending on their primary interests in literature, history, or theology. After an initial chapter outlining the events of Chandieu's life, Barker structures her book along broadly chronological lines, drawing attention to the evolution of Chandieu's concerns. Chapter 2 focuses on Chandieu's contribution to 'Church building' and to producing the Confession de foi and the Discipline of the French Reformed Churches. Barker then examines, in Chapter 3, the probable actions and views of Chandieu in relation to the Conspiracy of Amboise. Chapter 4 explores the polemical poetry Chandieu produced as part of the vitriolic exchange between Protestants and Ronsard, as well as a [End Page 479] Tragi-comédie he probably wrote. In the fifth chapter Barker turns her attention to Chandieu's martyrology, and in the sixth to his bitter exchange with Jean Morély about Church discipline. Chapter 7 studies Chandieu's later poetry, including the Octonaires, and Chapter 8 the Méditations. Overall, Barker presents a wealth of information about Chandieu, and adds to existing scholarship, providing, for example, nuanced accounts of Chandieu's motivations in his response to Morély. A recurring interest is shown in the ways in which Chandieu's concerns — and the concerns of the French Reformed Churches—were independent of those of Geneva. Using secondary literature, as well as primary sources such as synod records, Barker contextualizes at length Chandieu's writing in relation to the changing fortunes of French Protestantism. By comparison, discursive contexts are treated far less extensively, with the exception of texts to which Chandieu responded explicitly. For example, Barker draws attention to the emphasis on inconstance and loss in Chandieu's later poetry, but does not discuss the commonplace nature of these themes in late sixteenth-century literature. She stresses her interest in the relationship of Chandieu's poems to historical Protestant experience, and contrasts this with a study of cross-confessional literary contexts (p. 6); however her analysis might have been enriched by a consideration of the familiarity of the motifs, the purposes to which they were put elsewhere, and thus the specificities of Chandieu's uses of them. Similarly, greater reference to other martyrologies, and the scholarship on them, would have helped to situate the exploration of how, for instance, Chandieu's martyrology provides Protestants with examples of constancy or takes care to distance itself from hagiography. In addition, some conclusions are puzzling: why is it surprising that in the early 1560s Protestant poet-pamphleteers, like their adversary Ronsard, valorized order, loyalty to country and monarch, and the greatness of France (p. 159)? These comments aside, Barker's lively discussion sheds light on a multifaceted figure whose career spanned most of the Wars of Religion and who was of enormous importance in the French Reformation.

Kathryn Banks
Durham University


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