chapter
35 Pages

RELIGIOUS PROCESSIONS IN PARIS, 1583-4

Henri III took himself seriously as a Rex Christianissimus and attempted to lead a Counter Reformation. He hoped to overcome the menace of the Catholic League by, at first, identifying himself with it. Hence the orders, confreries, and other religious organizations which he founded, which filled the streets of Paris with their processions, with the spectacle of a renewed religious chivalry and of the public devotions of a penitent king. The year 1583 was called in Paris the year of processions, and no study of this confused and dangerous period can be complete without taking into account the strange processional rhythm of the times. For the processional rhythm in Paris in about the years 1583 and 1584 there happens to be a visual record, which is little known, 1 in the drawings here reproduced (Plates 24-34). These drawings give an opportunity of moving along the quais of the Seine, and of seeing what was going on. Or rather, one sees emblems and allegories of what was going on, and the real quais of the real Seine have a way of disappearing from time to time into Biblical country, which is, however, not misty, because one can find one's way about in it with iconographical precision.