THE “DADAS” OF THE KINGS OF FRANCE Louis XIII, the “ballet master”

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Dominique Bonnet

“Louis XIII crowned by the Victory”, by Philippe de Champaign (Louvre Museum – Paris) – Drawing of the “Entrée des Esperducattis” during the “Ballet des Ridicules”, danced by Louis XIII in Saint-Germain on January 12, 1628 “Louis XIII crowned by Victory”, by Philippe de Champaign (Louvre Museum – Paris) – Drawing of the “Entrée des Esperducattis” during the “Ballet des Ridicules”, danced by Louis XIII in Saint-Germain on January 12, 1628

Coll-Peter Willi / SUPERSTOCK / SIPA – E.R.L./SIPA

This August, the Royal Blog of Paris Match invites you to discover some of the “hobbies” of four of our kings of France. Second episode this week with Louis XIII, ballet master and composer.

 

Did you know that Louis XIII, who was also fond of music, was personally involved in the ballets danced at his court? This is what the historian Jean-François Solnon, a renowned expert on the Ancient Regime, reveals in his book “Le Gout des rois.” The man behind the monarch “, published by Perrin editions last February.

 

While Henri IV was passionate about construction work, his son Louis XIII was a pro in dance and more specifically in “court ballet”. Combining choreography with poetry and vocal and instrumental music, all endowed with a real scenography, this entertainment in vogue since the end of the 16th century saw members of the royal family and courtiers perform alongside a few professional dancers.

 

King Louis XIII likes to dance supporting roles, both male and female

“Young, Louis, like many children, dances with ardour,” recalls Jean-François Solon. At the age of seven, disguised as a girl, he performed brilliantly in front of an audience of courtiers “Le Ballet des falots”, which made Henri IV, his touching father, cry with emotion. The following year he naturally interpreted the main character of the “Ballet de M. le Dauphin”. No doubt, when adolescence comes, he dances less. But its interest remains intact. “

 

Drawing of the “Entrée des Esperducattis” during the “Ballet des Ridicules”, danced by Louis XIII in Saint-Germain on January 12, 1628 Drawing of the “Entrée des Esperducattis” during the “Ballet des Ridicules”, danced by Louis XIII in Saint-Germain on January 12, 1628

© E.R.L./SIPA

The historian from Franche-Comté thus explains that in 1617, King Louis XIII – ascended to the throne in May 1610 at the age of 8 when Henri IV died, assassinated by Ravaillac – created the role of “demon du feu ”in the ballet“ La Délivrance de Renaud ”. On the dance floor, the sovereign indeed likes to play supporting roles, whether they are male or female. However, “he interprets his own person in” Le Ballet du Roy “danced at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris on February 25, 1626”, points out Jean-François Solnon, who adds: “Nothing in creation should escape him. He closely supervises, when he does not impose it himself, the recruitment of musicians, poets, costume designers, stagehands. He chooses the dancers, whose troupe is then at his command, fixes the outline of the danced figures and directs the rehearsals himself. The King of France is indeed the master builder of court ballets. “

 

His mother, Marie de Médicis transmitted to him the taste for music

“Louis brings together his passion for hunting and dancing by inventing” the steps, the airs and the way of clothes “of the” Ballet de la Merlaison “(blackbird hunting), performed in Chantilly on March 15, 1635, where he appears in two entrances disguised as a farmer and the wife of a lure merchant, ”Jean-François Solnon recounts. The same year, we also see him composing the text and designing the costumes for the “Ballet des Triomphes”.

 

A dancer, Louis XIII is also a musician and music lover. From his childhood to his last breath, he played a variety of instruments, surrounded himself with musicians, sang, composed songs and ballads. And it is from his mother the Italian Marie de Médicis that he got “this taste for music”, underlines the historian.

 

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