by Marguerite of Angouleme
11 April 1492 – 21 December 1549
Today is the 517th birthday of the author of this poem, and aside from noting that, I want to remember to study her. She was truly a Renaissance woman who not only carried out her political role at court but also devoted much of her energy and attention to spiritual matters. In 1521 she began a correspondence with Guillaume Briconnet, bishop of Meaux, who introduced her to the evangelist movement, the call for reform within the Catholic Church, and a return to the original purity of the Scriptures.
The following is only a small part of a larger poem.
Since my desire is now to celebrate
Thy triumphs, Word divine, impart to me
Such sweet accords and lofty harmonies
That no defect shall marr my song to Thee.
To sing Thy praises, Lord, is my intent
If by Thy Spirit Thou inspire my pen....
Thus, trusting, Lord, in Thy abundant grace
And knowing Thou wilt guide and lead me on,
I will begin to show the reason why
Thou first didst have compassion on mankind.
This is thought to be a portrait of Marguerite d'Angouleme,
Queen Consort to Henry II of Navarre and also the sister of Francis I, King of France.
Remember that Calvin addressed his Institutes of the Christian Religion to this king.
Oil on panel, 61.2 x 52.6cm
Jean Clouet, ca 1530
Court painter to Francis I
National Museums of Liverpool
This painting is full of symbols which may give clues to the painting's meaning. The sitter wears daisies in her hat. The French word for daisy is Marguerite. The parrot may symbolise eloquence and mean Marguerite was a good talker. The bird may also symbolise love, its green colour denoting passion.