The Entry Ceremony and Medieval Constitutionalism
The image of composite and corporate kingship reveals both the source for the metaphors and models that shaped the medieval entry into a full-scale ceremonial and the key to the symbolism of such rituals as the parlementaire
processional and the chancellor's increased importance in the ceremonies. While the groups associated with the cathedral and the Hotel-de-ville marched to assure local liberties, the Parlement de Paris sought to show the continuity of the principal institution for preserving justice. The chancellor and the royal seal in the ceremony acknowledged the legal character of the reciprocal rites between king and corporations and the delicate balance of submission of subjects and recognition of privileges and liberties. Both the chancellor and the Parlement of Paris used this symbolism to remind the king and the kingdom of the great divide between the mortal, error-prone body of the king and his immortal, always just body. Each particular corporation in the entry ceremony deferred to the universal obligation all had to the virtue of justice.
Paolo Emili has the earliest printed account of a king being lectured to in Paris after his return from Reims. He wrote that the eminent political thinker Gilles de Rome told his former student, Philip IV, about the ability that justice had to impart immortal qualities. Whether or not this speech in the name of the University was part of an entry activity can not be established and is not important. It did become part of entry lore after the entry became a Parisian ceremony. Gilles des Rome praised justice commenting "ut omnia semel complectar—religionis, moderationis, fortitudinis, prudentiae, liberalitatis, justitia parens est; nec diuelli ab Rege potest, incolumi Regio nomine ." The immortality of Philip's name depended on his service to justice, and he urged the new king always to keep this "queen of virtues" in his counsel, to plant its image in his soul, to fashion himself according to it, and to act as it inspired him. Although this speech referred to abstract justice, its myth became such that three hundred years later François Belleforest could comment that the speech had prompted Philip IV "d'establir celle souveraine et Auguste cour de Parlement de Paris ." At the least, the notion was in the spirit of the later symbolism of the Parlement of Paris in the entry ceremony.
The king gave his explicit assent to the ideal of juridical kingship in the entry ritual when, as a rhymed account reported, after the customary promise to the clergy, Charles VIII
Aprés jura qu'il soustiendroit
Les Nobles et les laboureurs
Et les marchans, en son endroit
Chascun, sans quelconques faveurs.
Et non plus aux grands qu'aux mineurs,
Il ne feroit tort n'injustice;
Mais en tous leurs droits souteneurs
Commettroit, pour tenir police.
The jocundus adventus promise, a fourteenth-century Parisian innovation for receptions of new kings, became in the fifteenth century a stage for cere-
monial innovation and constitutional statement. As early as 1437 it was popularly believed that the promise pertained to more than the clergy and that the king swore "qu'il tendroit loyalment et bonnement tout ce que bon roy faire devoit ." The promise became something like a Parisian equivalent to that of the coronation: to preserve the kingdom and its people in their rights, to render justice to all, and to protect the church and clergy. In Paris, the king even came specifically to confirm each order in its privileges.
The creation of tradition was continued in 1498 when Louis XII promised
qu'il entretiendroit les nobles, aussi les laboreurs, ensemble les marchans en leurs bonnes loix et coustumes anciennes, et qu'il feroit justice au petit comme au grant au garderoit son peuples des ennemys et adversaires.
The promise to the estates was on its way to becoming a prescriptive part of the entry activities. The informal-customary definitions of an entry ceremony had acquired a formal-juridical focus.
From the late fifteenth century the Parlement of Paris had experimented with a veriety of rituals to show abstract justice bound to a particular place and institution. To the degree that it succeeded in separating justice from the person of the king and associating it with a representative body, the Parlement of Paris made itself more directly subject to the will of the king by mediating for other legal bodies in the name of justice. At the same time, the Parlement made other groups more dependant on its patronage and favor to have their legal voice and petitions heard. This turn of events is exactly what happened to the ordinance of the medieval entry ceremony. The entry promise by the king became a matter for litigation, and sixteenth-century lawyers could even dismiss such promises when made "du temps des guerres du novel advenement à la coronne ." The strong appearance of reciprocity acted out in the rituals of the entry acquired definitions in the chambers of justice and within the contexts of kingly majesty. However, some French writers of the sixteenth century kept alive the constitutional image of the entry, particularly provincial ones, where the king bound himself directly to his promise rather than through the intermediary of justice and the Parlement. They took the fading side of the medieval entry tradition that corresponded more to the confirmations made by the new duke in the joyeuse entrée of Brabant. Even at Paris the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century entry ceremony continued the traditional request for preservation of liberties, but its legal importance and focus were lost in the flattering orations on royal magnificence of which the request formed a small part. The medieval ceremonial had evolved as a mise en scène for the union of the body politic; later times transformed the staging and costuming. The setting came to take the form of architectural monuments suitable for the royal majesty. Although rather than in juridical robes
the king appeared as conqueror in armor or later as grand seigneur in rich fashions of the day, all others in the state ceremony continued to march in robes of office.
The entry ceremony as elaboration of the royal cult called attention to the divinity of the king that through allegory was always part of the atmosphere of royal ceremonies. George Chastellain well illustrates this potential in the medieval entry that was only realized in its fullness in the seventeenth century. In an allégorie mystique he paralleled the entry of the new king Louis XI into Paris with the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. The other participants in the entry were given guises appropriate to the analogy: the princes and lords who held "cure et commission sur la chose publique " were compared to the shepherds who hastened to Bethlehem "voir ce que Dieu a fait et manifesté à leurs yeux; certes un roy nouvellement couronné, un roy produit du mot et volenté de Dieu ." Notions of the divine origins of monarchy and of God's design abound in the allegory; the French peers were even labeled the new people of God and the French king "l'enoint et le souverain christ en terre ." Like the Christ Child, the new king promised peace, social good will, and irrevocably bound all society into a harmonious whole. In the long view this rhetorical image triumphed over the juridical traditions in interpretations of the entry ceremony. Several centuries later the image of the entry was of David and Jerusalem—of Christ and paradise. Along with the demigod Hercules and the god Apollo, these images appear to be part of a revival of late antique and early medieval imagery for adventus ceremonies. The focus on peace and justice continued, but not the focus on distinct personalities, legal or otherwise. The ceremony in the ancien régime represented a transcendent moment and an expression of a universal truth rather than the reciprocal rites between a particular king and city. The medieval theme was of the body politic, the absolute one was concord in the state. The celebration turned to defining the king's "messianic-eschatalogical" mission, not the particulars of his government. In this way, the medieval Parisian entries came to appear only as submission to a divine plan and its manifested agent. The "joyeuse entrée " in France ceased to be performed and one only spoke of the "entrée royale ."