Guilty Sisters: Marguerite De Navarre, Elizabeth of England, and the Miroir De L'ame Pecheresse
Snyder, Susan, Renaissance Quarterly
Le miroir de l'ame pecheresse, a volume of devotional verse named for its principal poem, was published in Alencon in 1531 and in Paris two years later. The Paris edition identifies its author as "Marguerite de France, Soeur Vnicque du Roy," and later as "Royne de Navarre."(1) Some eleven years later, the daughter of Henry VIII translated the Miroir as a gift for her latest stepmother, Queen Katherine Parr. The poem has thus a doubly unusual status. In an age when literature was overwhelmingly male in its origins, the agencies of genesis and transmission for this work were female. And in an age when most writers came from the middle class, the agents of its production and reproduction were of high birth, members of royal families. Marguerite's title of "queen of Navarre" carried with it a fairly limited sovereignty, such power as there was residing with her husband Henri de Navarre, with the kingdom itself being largely under Spanish rule. And though Elizabeth would eventually reign as queen in her own right, no one in 1544 expected such an outcome. Henry VIII still ruled, and his son Edward was being carefully groomed to succeed him. The salient fact about both Marguerite and Elizabeth was that they were royal sisters: Marguerite being the sister of the present king of France, Francois I, and Elizabeth of the future king of England, Edward, prince of Wales. The circumstance may be only coincidental, but it provides an interesting vantage point from which to examine both the poem and its translation.
As the primary inventor of the Miroir, Marguerite is the main focus for this inquiry. Intelligent and talented, she had been educated along with her brother and in adulthood promoted both the Renaissance and the Reformation in France. Best known for her collection of nouvelles, the Heptameron, she also wrote plays and poems on both secular and spiritual themes, and possibly a treatise in letters defending the worth and superiority of women.
The attribution in this last case, though not the others, is far from certain. The treatise may instead have been the work of her great-niece, another Marguerite de Valois and de Navarre, known usually as la reine Margot. The letters are no longer extant, and we know of them only through a secondhand account by Pierre de l'Escale in his 1612 Defense des femmes. As L'Escale sums up the argument, woman is God's masterpiece, the climax of his work in creating the universe and its inhabitants. Being more intelligent than men and therefore more capable of ruling justly, women originally held dominion; only later were they ousted by men.(2) This latter notion might have had considerable personal resonance for either of the Marguerites, since both saw their brothers become kings of France but never ruled themselves.
In any case, the Marguerite who concerns us here, as the firstborn child in a branch of the Orleans line, occupied the center of parental-dynastic attention, but only until Francois came along two years later to displace her: displace her not only as the new baby but as the desired boy, the potential heir to the French throne which under Salic law she could never be. The children's father died soon afterward, and there followed for Marguerite, as for her mother Louise de Savoie, a lifetime of total concentration on Francois, first as heir and eventually as king. Yet somewhere under her unwavering sisterly devotion, Marguerite's original radical displacement must still have rankled.
The poem at issue, "The Mirror of the Sinful Soul," is an outpouring (over 1400 lines) of self-accusation and self-abasement, recalling Paul and Augustine in its theological stance.(3) Marguerite sympathized with the evangelical movement in France and by her patronage sheltered many of its members. The Reformist orientation is apparent in the poem's Pauline-Augustinian bent, as in the prominence of biblical allusions.(4) The speaker of the poetic monologue presents herself as a wretched sinner, who has so violated and betrayed her relationship with God that she is totally unworthy of his grace. Parsing out that relationship into a series of familial paradigms - daughter, mother, sister, wife - she explores each area of defection through an exemplary episode from the Bible. She becomes, in turn, the prodigal child who deserted her loving father; the mother with the dead baby who came for Solomon's judgment; the sister of Moses who set herself up against his authority; and the adulterous wife of the prophet Hosea. There are other more incidental scriptural echoes marked in the margin, but the core episodes are chosen with special care. Each one displays not only sin and waywardness but an eventual return to grace. The prodigal is lost, and then found and rejoiced over (Luke 15); the bereaved woman before Solomon is shown to be the true mother of the living child, who is then restored to her (1 Kings 3); Moses's sister Miriam, whom God struck with leprosy for challenging her brother's supremacy, is cured through the intercession of that same brother and received back into the Israelite camp (Numbers 12); even the faithless harlot is reinstated as beloved wife in her husband's home (Hosea 1-3).
The penitential roles Marguerite adopts are, with one exception, familiar in Christian devotional tradition. The position of humble child kneeling before "our Father" was a natural one, and that of the bride longing for her husband was even more widely used because of the allegorical understanding of the biblical Song of Songs as describing the marital union between Christ and the Church. The role of mother, if less intrinsically natural in relation to the Godhead, was authorized by Christ's own human mother, the model for all intimate communion with God. In verbal and visual figure Mary is mother and child at once: "figlia del tuo figlio," in Dante's familiar phrase (Paradiso 33.1).(5) Mother-daughter simultaneity was also nourished by the Eastern Church tradition of the Virgin's "dormition": her falling asleep in death and subsequent rebirth in paradise. Though not officially celebrated in the Western liturgy, the Dormition of Mary was familiar in pictorial representation, which showed the mature mother of the infant God waking up as God's infant daughter.(6)
Generations of devout Christians in medieval and early modern times presented themselves to God as bride, child, mother. The subordinate female roles were appropriate to men as well as women, for coram Deo all humanity partakes of the inferior status of females.(7) In the late medieval writers whose work informed devotional traditions in Marguerite's time, the roles were variously combined. According to Caroline Bynum's survey, for example, Mechtild of Hackeborn addresses Christ as her bridegroom and father; Aldobrandesca of Siena wants a painting of the Blessed Virgin "holding Christ in her arms and drinking from his wound.' For St. Francis of Assisi in his "Letter to the Faithful," the friars are brides and mothers of Jesus. The mystic Henry Suso images himself as a bride, a nursing infant, a mother wanting to suckle God.(8) The Ancrene Riwle expounds divine love in terms of spouse and child. Later Teresa of Avila, to aid her Conceptions of the Love of God, will frequently invoke the bride and occasionally the nursing infant.(9)
What is unusual in Marguerite's set of familial paradigms is "sister." Devotional writers who easily move into the roles of parent, child, and spouse do not, on the whole, present themselves as God's sisters or brothers.(10) Gary Ferguson, seeking backgrounds for Marguerite's religious poetry, found no analogues in late medieval and early Renaissance French devotional writing, Protestant or Catholic, for the soul in a sisterly relation with God or the extensive treatment of Miriam and Moses.(11) Marguerite herself is more traditional in a later poem, Les Prisons: "Puys se monstrant de Dieu espouse et fille," wife and daughter of God.(12) But in the Miroir she is sister as well. The Bible does offer some basis for the sibling relationship. The synoptic Gospels report that Jesus, when told that his mother and brothers were outside claiming his attention, answered that those who did God's will were his mother and brother and sister (Matthew 12:50, Mark 3:35, Luke 8:21). And the Song of Songs, locus classicus for the topos of the soul as bride, several times combines it with the fraternal bond: "my sister, my spouse" (4:9, 10, 12; 5:1, 2). In this configuration, however, "sister" is folded into "spouse," intensifying the implied closeness of lover to beloved.(13) It is not developed as a separate relationship.
But Marguerite does develop it separately.(14) This is perhaps not surprising, since for her "sister" was always the central relationship, the tie that took precedence over all others. The opening of the Miroir, as I have said, identifies her for the reader first as the king's sister, and only afterwards as queen of Navarre. That order of titles reflects the priorities of her whole life. Her adored brother came first, before either husband: the dull Charles d'Alencon or the wayward Henri de Navarre. For Francois too the sibling bond was primary. He called his sister "ma mignonne," bestowed honors and lands on her, advanced her inept first husband far beyond poor Alencon's deserts or capacities. When Francois was captive and ill in Spain after being defeated at the battle of Pavia, it was Marguerite who came to nurse him and negotiate for his release while their mother Louise ran the kingdom back home. Francois liked to have his sister present at court, where she and Louise - and not either of the king's wives - constituted the chief female influence.
The family trio, Francois, Louise, and Marguerite, celebrated their closeness with the designation "our Trinity." If the theological equation seems rather daring, it is even more surprising to find Bishop Briconnet, Marguerite's fervently evangelical spiritual advisor, taking up the metaphor with full approval. His letters freely refer to the royal "trinite": three persons united in love, three bodies with a single heart. Even discounting for courtly flattery and evangelical zeal (Briconnet was trying through Marguerite to influence the king and the Queen Mother in favor of the Reform movement), the bishop's repeated endorsement of their earthly devotion in heavenly terms is striking. The family trinity, he asserts, is by no means at odds with the divine one, but bound up in it through love. Indeed, the divine trinity has found its earthly home in the hearts of Francois, Louise, and Marguerite.(15)
"I know," wrote Briconnet, "that you love, after God, the King and Madame" (1.61). Given the divinity that hedged sixteenth-century kings and her brother's preeminence and power in Marguerite's personal life, it would be surprising if the line between God and the king did not begin to blur. The bishop himself helps the process along, for example by comparing the king's visits to his children with God's manifestation of himself to his creatures (2.25). After Francois's death, the grieving sister would comfort herself with the thought of her brother and God as co-rulers in heaven, a vision that almost merges her two true kings into a single image of royal potency.(16)
As for the "trinity," its earthly version had a kind of structural similarity to the traditional configuration of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in that the second and third persons of the Angouleme triad took their significance from the first. But of course the "first" person in this case was not the mother Louise or the older sibling Marguerite but Francois, as prospective and then actual king. The status and power of Louise and Marguerite, even their meaning, derived from him. Indeed, one could argue that Marguerite's connection with Francois was structured by the same set of relations through which she addresses God in the Miroir. Two years older than the doted-on male heir, she had from their childhood a motherly as well as a sisterly function for him. As his subject when Francois was king, she functioned as child to a father. She could not, of course, be his spouse. But one need not fall in with Michelet's suspicions of something incestuous between Francois and Marguerite to recognize that her brother was the central man in her life? It is hard to overstate the importance of that single enduring attachment for "a woman who had scarcely known her father, who experienced two disappointing marriages, whose longing for a son was repeatedly frustrated."(18)
My purpose, however, is not to convict Marguerite of incestuous desires or even of confusing Francois with God. I want to move in quite another direction, opened by the probability that for all her adoration Marguerite could not help being aware from their early years that her abilities were as good as or better than her brother's. Intellectually and even diplomatically, she outshone him. Did she on some level resent the tyranny of custom that conferred all the power on this younger brother only because of his gender? That lost defense of women as the rightful rulers who were forced out of power by men may not be hers; but the preamble to the Miroir itself certainly is. Here, what looks at first like a conventional modest disclaimer gradually grows more devious and more assertive:
Si vous lisez ceste oeuure toute entiere, Arrestez vous, sans plus, a la matiere: En excusant le Rhyme, et le langaige, Voyant que c'est d'une femme l'ouuraige: Qui n'a en soy science/ ne scauoir, Fors vng desir, que chascun puisse veoir, Que faict le don de DIEV le Createur, Quand il luy plaist iustifier vng cueur: Quel est le cueur d'ung homme/ quant a soy Auant que'il ait receu le don de Foy: Par lequel seul l'homme a la congoissance De la Bonte/ Sapience/et Puissance. Et aussi tost/ qu'il congoist Verite, Son cueur est plein d'amour/ et Charite. Ainsi bruslant/ perd toute vaine crainte (lines 1-15).
Marguerite begs the reader to pay attention only to the content of her poem, making allowances for her defective style because she is only a woman. As such, she has no skill or learning, only a desire to show what God's gift can achieve when it pleases him to justify a human heart, to make it worthy by faith. What, she questions dismissively, is man's heart by itself before he has received this gift of faith? But once that infusion is his, he understands all goodness and wisdom, loses all fear. In short, the poet is only a woman - but a woman is capable of receiving the divine gift, without which no man can do anything of worth either. "Femme" thus slides into "homme," and Marguerite's gendered humility transmutes into a veiled assertion of equality with men, an assertion firmly grounded in the Lutheran sola fides. An oblique challenge rears up here, not necessarily consciously, to male dominance in general and especially to the supremacy of her brother.
The challenge surfaces again even as Marguerite examines her guilt as a sister through the biblical figure of Miriam (lines 497-580). Like Marguerite herself, Miriam was focused from her early days on the well-being of her younger but more important brother Moses. The Exodus account (2:1-9) relates that she watched to see who picked up the baby left in the basket of bulrushes, and then volunteered their mother to Pharaoh's daughter as a nurse for the foundling. When Moses led Israel out of Egypt, his sister, called "the prophetess," celebrated the triumph at the Red Sea in ecstatic verse (Exodus 15:20-21). But sometime during the years in the wilderness Miriam, with the other brother Aaron, rebelled against Moses's supremacy. They resented their brother's marriage to a foreign woman,(19) but almost immediately in the Biblical narrative another grievance displaces this one: "Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?"(20) When Marguerite appropriates this persona for her trespasses against God, it is hard not to hear in the resulting voice some bitterness against Francois as well. Like Moses, he has been marked out from the beginning for special favor and rule, while her own gifts, like Miriam's, count for little. From this perspective, it is interesting to find Marguerite here accusing herself not only of pride but of treason, in that she has wished to subject God's works to rational scrutiny. This divinely instituted way of things that must not be questioned gathers in the cultural subjection of women, who may not reign in their own right and whose gifts exist only for the service of others.
In the biblical story, God reaffirms his unique relation with Moses and angrily reproves Miriam and Aaron for challenging their brother's authority as leader. It was Miriam alone, however, who was punished with leprosy. This distinction between her and her male co-conspirator may seem all too predictable to modern feminists (presumption would of course be more offensive in a woman than in a man), but it caused earlier commentators some trouble. Usually they point in explanation to the Hebrew form of the opening of Numbers 12:1, which attaches the verb for spoke to her name, adding Aaron's afterwards: this suggests the prime mover was Miriam, who then stirred up Aaron.(21) Marguerite achieves a comparable emphasis by figuring Aaron not as a separate offender but as an aspect of herself and her native intelligence. In any case, Miriam is stricken with leprosy for her presumption and cast out of the Israelite camp as unclean. The cure must come from the same source as the disease, God; and only Moses, the brother against whom she offended, has the power to bring it about. The knot of rebellion, resistance, and dependence that entangles Miriam twice over, in this story chosen by Marguerite, implicates as well her own situation with her all-powerful brother.(22) For her, too, the one whose potent presence makes her inferior and worthless is also the one who confers status on her, the one through whom she reclaims worth.
In appropriating Miriam's story, though, Marguerite devised a happy ending that goes well beyond Miriam's original restoration to health and community with Israel as recounted in Exodus. The penitent sister of the Miroir is not only forgiven for rebelling against her God-brother, but she becomes one with him: "Or puis que frere et soeur ensemble sommes, / Il me chault peu de tousles aultres hommes" (lines 565-66); "Now that brother and sister are at one, other men matter little to me." Since the brother in Marguerite's fiction is God, the accent is on "other men." But one cannot neatly excise from this complex the earthly brother, with the accent on "other men" - especially in view of what immediately follows: "Vostre terre, c'est mon vray heritaige. / Ne faisons plus, s'il vous plaist, qu'vng mesnaige" (567-68). The marginal citation is Psalm 27 (Vulgate 26), with its request to "dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life" (verse 4). But Marguerite prefaces this wish that they might live together with the assertion that her brother's lands are her true inheritance. The solution she arrives at thus encompasses not only her estrangement from God through sin but also her exclusion from the royal inheritance, the lands of France. A few lines before, she was repeating "Vostre ie suis . . . Vostre ie suis, et vostre doublement" (560-61), and now "Vostre terre, c'est mon vray heritaige': I am yours, doubly yours, which means that what is yours is truly mine. As in the opening of the whole poem, she turns humility into disguised self-assertion.
I am speculating, then, that this penitential exercise opened an opportunity for a kind of "working through' of the resentments entangled with Marguerite's real and deep-rooted devotion to her king-brother. Probably both resentment and working-through were operating below the level of full consciousness, but their effects can nevertheless be felt in her devotional stance and language as well as her choice of scriptural material. The rebellion, punishment, and forgiveness of Miriam provided a useful vehicle, a cover or perhaps even a stimulus? - for articulating hostile feelings that her habitual devotion usually kept well suppressed. The working-through process achieves resolution in renewed identification with the god of her family trinity, identification so complete that all his powers and possessions become hers as well.
The first translator of the French king's sister was the English king's daughter, Elizabeth, and the work she translated was the Miroir de l'ame pecheresse. "The Glasse of the Synnefull Soule," in its elaborately worked binding, was presented to her stepmother Queen Katherine Parr as a New Year's gift for 1545. Biographers of Elizabeth I pass quickly over this effort with remarks about her early aptness at languages, penmanship, and needlework. They find it difficult to connect the poem's self-conviction of sin with its eleven-year-old translator, except as an example of the precocious gravity of Tudor children.(23) We don't know who chose Marguerite's penitential meditation for this occasion or why. Percy Ames and Marc Shell think it likely that Marguerite had sent a copy of the 1533 Paris edition to Queen Anne Boleyn, with whom she had been acquainted in France, and that Elizabeth found it in her dead mother's collection and chose to render its principal poem in English.(24) Katherine Parr herself, always concerned for the education of her stepchildren, may have suggested the Miroir to the young Elizabeth. Marguerite was familiar to Katherine as a force in diplomacy and one who shared her own commitment to humanism and religious reform. Larger diplomatic reasons may have influenced Katherine's recommendation as well; as Anne Lake Prescott has shown, the English court in this period took Marguerite's abilities and influential power very seriously.(25) Or Elizabeth, who had a mind of her own, may have initiated the work knowing that her choice would please the new queen.
In any case, whether she found Marguerite's family-structured meditation on her own or was led to it by someone else, the English princess had a good deal in common with the older French one. Her situation as elder sister of the favored royal male was like Marguerite's, only worse: she was not even "soeur unique" but one of two half-sisters, and she was officially illegitimate at that. Elizabeth occasionally shared lessons with Edward, as Marguerite had with Francois, and like Marguerite she was more gifted than her brother: even allowing for his four years' disadvantage in age, Edward, though precocious, lacked her brilliance.(26) Nevertheless, because he was a boy Edward counted for everything. He would be king. He would never be declared illegitimate. Even had Edward's mother survived and caused trouble, Henry VIII would on no account have bastardized his male offspring. Gender is everything, even legitimacy.
"The Lady Elizabeth" (as a bastard, she had no right to the title of princess) probably was not aware of these parallels between translator and author. She does not name Marguerite in her presentation and perhaps knew little of her. But as Elizabeth worked through the poem, Marguerite's persona as errant sister and the paradigm of Miriam might well have found a responsive echo in her. Her own situation invited similar resentment: subordinate, apparently forever, to a brother who was her inferior in age and natural powers. As in Marguerite's case, any such resentment was probably less than conscious, kept in abeyance by a self-discipline early acquired, as well as a genuine fondness for her little brother. History records little about the relationship between Edward and Elizabeth at this stage in their lives, but the little that does exist suggests real emotional attachment: we hear for example how the young princess annually gave her brother a cambric shirt of her own making as a birthday gift, and how the two younger royal children clung together as they wept for the death of their father.(27)
But however fond Elizabeth was of Edward, her translation in its first printed form suggests the same complexity we have seen in Marguerite's work, with female self-denigration sliding into female self-assertion. In 1548, the Protestant polemicist John Bale published Elizabeth's translation, with surrounding materials praising her correct religious sentiments and precocious learning. Four passages from Ecclesiasticus added to the text may have been Bale's idea, since they have to do with women's virtues and vices, but he attributes the addition to Elizabeth herself:
There is not a more wycked heade, than the heade of the serpente, And there is no wrathe aboue the wrathe of a woman.
But he that hath goten a vertuouse woman, hath goten a goodly possessyon. She is vnto hym an helpe and pyller, wherevpon he restith.
It were better to dwelle with a lyon and dragon. than to kepe howse with a wycked wyfe.
Yet depart not from a dyscrete, and good woman, that is fallen vnto the[e] for thy porcyon in the feare of the lorde. For the gifte of her honestie, is aboue golde.(28)
The choice of verses, if it was Elizabeth's, balances denunciations of female depravity with assertions of female worth. Taken together, from a woman's point of view, the passages mingle humility, in their self-monitory warnings against female wickedness, with a sense of woman's power, in her virtue - or in her wrath. When Elizabeth tells Queen Katherine in her dedicatory letter that the part she wrought in the work was "as well spirituall, as manuall," perhaps this is what she meant.(29)
Marguerite's career forecasts what would have happened to Elizabeth if Edward had lived. Like her French prototype, Elizabeth would presumably have remained close to her brother, who nevertheless would sooner or later have ordered her into some politically or dynastically advantageous marriage - advantageous for him, that is. She would surely have been a strong intellectual and literary force at the English court, if allowed to remain there. Yet she would always be at best a moon to Edward's sun, reflecting power rather than having it vested in her. But Edward VI did not live, and England had no Salic Law. Five years after his death at sixteen, Elizabeth became queen of England. In doing so, she rewrote the story of Marguerite de Navarre. What is more, she rewrote the story of Miriam as well. As sole ruler of her people and head of the English church, she made Miriam displace Moses and Aaron both.
1 In quotations of the poem I have regularized the barred e used in the Salminen edition to indicate metrical elision.
2 Ascriptions of the lost work to the elder Marguerite (e.g. Richardson, 112; Kelso, 383; King, 206) seem to derive ultimately from the undocumented paraphrase of L'Escale in Abensour, 7-8, which indeed cites Marguerite de Navarre but identifies her with la reine Margot.
3 The poem's overall structure and movement are summarized by Prescott, 63-64.
4 Two years after Le Miroir was first published in 1531, with two other devotional poems by Marguerite and (in one edition) Clement Marot's translation of Psalm 6, the volume was condemned by the Sorbonne. Along with its general Reformist cast and Pauline emphasis on the primacy of faith, the Miroir may have drawn specific objection by its unsanctioned translations of the Bible, glosses drawn from Lefevre d'Etaples' French Bible as well as Marot's psalm. Under pressure from the King, the Sorbonne clerics withdrew their condemnation.
5 Warner, part 3, esp. 128-33, 169-70.
6 See Shell, fig. 5 and 295, n. 21.
7 Bynum, 1991, notes how the male-female asymmetry is mapped onto the contrast between God (Father, Bridegroom) and anima (child, bride) (151). This mapping is discussed at more length in Bynum, 1987, 282-92.
8 Bynum, 1991, 161-62; 1987, 93-94; 1991, 165-66; 1987, 103. She finds the characteristic stances of the male mystic to be the bride, the nursing mother, and the suckling baby (1987, 288), and the characteristic stances of female religious writers to be the mother and the bride (291).
9 Salu, 170-81. Teresa, 2.357-99.
10 Bonaventura's Itinerarium speaks in one place of the soul in contemplation becoming daughter, spouse, friend, sister, and heir to God (69); but what he expands in this chapter is the spouse-relation. Mechtild of Magdeburg does bring together Christ as father, brother, and bridegroom in the manner of Marguerite (Bynum, 1982, 243); Bynum's account of Gertrude of Helfta's writing also includes two allusions to Christ as brother, though here again the images of parent or bridegroom or child to be mothered are far more frequent (187-91). Teresa in Exclamations of the Soul to God (2.407), addresses God as "true Lord and Brother"; but while she expatiates separately at some length on the first term (Lord-Bridegroom, 417-18), the second is not developed.
11 Ferguson, 199. Ferguson has to go all the way back to Origen for any similar commentary on the Exodus story, and even here the emphasis is on spiritual leprosy rather than the sibling relation (226, n. 30).
12 Les Prisons, line 4325.
13 Francis Landy observes that in wishing that her lover were "as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother" (Song of Songs 8:1-2) the bride longs to conflate the stranger who attracts her so powerfully with the known, familiar companion of her childhood. It is this apparently impossible fusion of the Other with the Same that the bridegroom asserts with his repeated "my sister, my spouse," thus perfectly fulfilling the contradictory desires of love (Alter and Kermode, 311-12).
14 Besides expounding the sister relation through the separate biblical episode of Miriam's rebellion against Moses (see below), Marguerite uses the Song of Songs to make the transition between soeur and epouse. She quotes "You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride" (4:9) and goes on a few lines later to the spouse-role asserted in the same lines: "Ma soeur tu as naure mon cueur. . . Pareillement Espouse me clamez, / En ce lieu la" (lines 329-35).
15 Briconnet, Correspondance, 1.61; 1.175-76; 2.40; 2.136. Cf. 2.135, which applies to the union of the king and his mother and sister the trefoil image (three in one, admitting no division) traditionally used for the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Briconnet's concentration on the royal trio leaves out as unimportant the relation between Marguerite and her husband Alencon. After one praise of the royal trinity, he urges her to be "vraye marguerite par union indivisible avec vostre doulx et debonnaire espoux, Jesus" (1.175-76). Her earthly spouse is not mentioned.
16 "L'a prins a soy, ou eternellement / Avec luy regne, et ca bas a regne, / Car il estoit pour estre vray roy ne" (Les Prisons, lines 4576-78). In Le Navire, she looks forward to Judgment Day, "Ou de mes yeulx j'espere veoir mon frere: / Quant tu viendras, je ne pleureray plus, / Mais je riray, le voiant en gloire mis" (Dernieres poesies, 399).
17 Michelet, 122-32.
18 The phrasing is from Roelker, 37.
19 Those seeking evidence for incestuous relations between Marguerite and Francois might pause over this element in the story Marguerite chose: the leader's sister, who shares his blood, protests his union to a woman from outside the tribe. (Francois' first wife was Breton, his second Spanish.) Ambrose read the situation allegorically, as Synagoga (the Jews) objecting to God's favoring of Ecclesia (the Gentiles): cited in Cornelius a Lapide, Yyy5v.
20 Numbers 12:2, Revised Standard Version. In the Vulgate, as translated by Lefevre d'Etaples, "Dieu nail parle que par Moyses seul? Nail pas aussy semblablement parle a nous?"
21 See for example Cornelius a Lapide, Commentaria, Yyy5r-5v; Ainsworth, O3r; and Attersoll, Ddd5r. Attersoll speculates that Miriam by her importunity constrained Aaron "as it were against his will to ioyne with her." Calvin, who blames Miriam as the originator, nevertheless finds Aaron more guilty; he was exempted from the leprosy perhaps because of his sanctification as high priest, so as not to bring the priesthood into disgrace (4.49).
22 Sommers notes that the "equilibrium between sin and reconciliation" that characterizes the preceding episodes of daughter and mother disappears in the more profound rebellion of the sister episode (56-57).
23 Neale, 23-24.
24 Ames, 31; Shell, 3, 19. Prescott, however, thinks that Elizabeth was working from the 1539 Geneva edition, not the 1533 (66).
25 Prescott, 65-66.
26 Chapman, 53, 67.
27 Ibid., 47, 80-81.
28 Elizabeth, E6v. The exact references are Ecclus 25:15 (Vulg. 22); 36:24 (Vulg.26), mislabeled 25 in Bale's edition; 25:26 (Vulg. 23); 7:19 (Vulg. 21). Bale says the passages were added by "my lady Helisabeth vnto the begynnynge and ende of her boke" before he acquired it for publication (E6v).
29 Cited from Salminen ed. of Miroir, 287; Bale's edition does not include the dedicatory letter. Prescott, 68-70, discusses changes and omissions in Elizabeth's translation that may reveal unease with her father and anger at his treatment of her mother. Two other omissions that involve the sibling relationship - she omits "frere" from God's roles at line 952, and she drops line 1189 with its reference to Peace as "soeur" of Justice (Prescott, 70-71) - may point to some perturbation on the brother-front as well.
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Publication information: Article title: Guilty Sisters: Marguerite De Navarre, Elizabeth of England, and the Miroir De L'ame Pecheresse. Contributors: Snyder, Susan - Author. Journal title: Renaissance Quarterly. Volume: 50. Issue: 2 Publication date: Summer 1997. Page number: 443+. © 1999 Renaissance Society of America. COPYRIGHT 1997 Gale Group.
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