Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Lute at the Court of France

I enjoy learning about the period in which we game. It's an added benefit for me as the GM. I use a lot of period artwork in my setting. Which means I spend a significant amount of time picking up new pictures on the web. One added benefit to the surfing for pictures is that I also come across additional snippets of history and culture. Recently I found a French site, ClassicNews.Com that had an article about the use of the lute in the courts of Louis XIII and XIV.

In 1615 Louis XIII married the Spanish Anne of Austria: the two teenagers aged 14 years during their wedding night missed what was an expected union. The King quickly abandoned his wife, clearly preferring the hunt, the chase, and manly company. During his trips to Fontainebleau, the Louvre. or Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Anne of Austria extended the habits of the Iberian court, which were rife with guitarists, into France.

After the death of Louis XIII, the future dauphin, Louis XIV, received his first lute lessons at age eight. His music teacher, Germain Pinel, continued to teach the ruler until the age of 18. To enhance the education and qualities of Queen Anne of Austria (who only played the guitar), Ennemond Gaultier was appointed to teach her the lute. Then the battle, Gabriel father and son, were masters of music for Queen Anne of Austria when the young lutenist Peter de Nyert, noticed by Louis XIII, became his valet of the wardrobe, and in the end, the one who sang on the lute the motets of devotion on his deathbed.

The lute, aristocratic instrument. Mirroring royal custom, aristocratic circles adopt the lute whose mastery is the insignia of high education and a prestigious refinement. Scholars, intellectuals, wealthy citizens share this affection that flatters their status and enhances their dignity: Richelieu, as does Louis XIII, relaxes by listening to his favorite musician, Michel Lambert, singing melodies of his own composition, accompanying himself on the lute. In Parisian salons, Madame de Rambouillet, Mademoiselle de Scudéry, Madame de la Sablière, or the beautiful Madame Scarron – future Madame de Maintenon, Louis XIV's second wife, also cultivate a taste for the lute. Les Précieuses – nailed in their shortcomings by Molière among others, promote games and poetry contests, musical entertainment where poetry and lute are closely associated. Ninon de L’enclos and Mademoiselle Paulet gaining an enviable reputation. Charles Mouton, composer to fashion, ensures the brilliance of the evenings at the Scarron.

The lute is used as a solo instrument, revealing its secret and fascinating eloquence in a series of dance suites which are specifically reserved to it. This is Germain Pinel who writes the most successful suites, having a dreamy austerity. At the time, the most prized model comes from Bologna and is signed by the maker Laux Maler.

In a game context for Honor+Intrigue, what this means is that characters with the Don Juan/Temptress and Aristocrat/Courtier careers could reasonably know how to play the lute for amateur entertainment, while characters with the Artist/Performer career could choose musician to know how to play the lute (and other instruments) at a professional level.


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