Tag Archive | 15th century

Lyrics: Noël Nouvelet/Christmas Comes Anew (15th Century French)

Red Eminence webThe fifth song that appears in “His Red Eminence is another Christmas carol. This time we are going back to 15th century France for Noël Nouvelet which you can hear at the end of Christmas mass at the Louvre in chapter ten, “Confessions.”

 

Noël Nouvelet/Christmas Comes Anew (15th Century French)

 

French:

Noël nouvelet, Noël chantons icy;

Dévotes gens‚ rendons à Dieu merci;

Chantons Noël pour le Roi nouvelet;

Noël nouvelet!

Noël chantons icy!

 

En Bethléem‚ Marie et Joseph vy‚

L’asne et le boeuf‚ l’Enfant couché parmy;

La crèche était au lieu d’un bercelet.

Noël nouvelet!

Noël chantons icy!

 

L’estoile vint qui le jour esclaircy‚

Et la vy bien d’où j’etois départy

En Bethléem les trois roys conduisaient.

Noël nouvelet!

Noël chantons icy!

 

English:

Christmas comes anew, O let us sing Noel!

Glory to God! Now let your praises swell!

Sing we Noel for Christ, the new-born King,

Christmas comes anew, O let us sing Noel!

 

Angels did say, “O shepherds come and see,

Born in Bethlehem, a blessed Lamb for thee.”

Sing we Noel for Christ, the new-born King,

Christmas comes anew, O let us sing Noel!

 

In the manger bed, the shepherds found the child;

Joseph was there, and the Mother Mary mild.

Sing we Noel for Christ, the new-born King,

Christmas comes anew, O let us sing Noel!

 

https://lyricstranslate.com/en/no%C3%ABl-nouvelet-christmas-comes-anew.html

“Catherine de Valois”Stage Verses Book: How The Adaptation Differs From The Biography

The following article is part of the reference materials at the end of “Catherine de Valois: A Play in Three Acts.”

 

Aristocratic_Lady_15th_b1899sd

“Based on a true story.”  When we hear those words we know and fully expect (rightfully) that a play, teleplay, or screenplay takes certain artistic licenses that deviate from events as they really happened.

Though every effort was made to keep this stage play as faithful to the biography upon which it is based as possible, there are a few differences between book and play which make both worth reading, exploring, and performing.

As with all books, the narrative biography “Catherine de Valois” uses prose-format narrative covering events that are not readily translated to the stage.  For example, after the Battle of Agincourt, King Henry V secured an alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor and together waged a naval battle against the French and Genovese at Harfleur in 1416.  Between Act I, Scene VI and Scene VII four full years have passed.  In the book you know what happened; in the play you do not.  Likewise the book covers the entire twenty-seven months Catherine and Henry were married, including the birth of Prince Henry on 6th December 1421.  Finally the book explores Catherine’s marriage to Owen Tudor.  We are there in the book as each of Catherine’s sons are born, seeing Catherine as the loving mother that she was and why King Henry VI, Owen Tudor, and Edmund Tudor remained so close after her death in January 1437.

Though most of the events covered in the narration were left out of the play (for example, the birth of Edmund Tudor), some events that were conveyed narratively instead of dramatically are in the play.  These appear as new scenes:

  • Act I, Scene VIII: in this mother-daughter scene set fourteen months after Henry and Catherine’s first meeting in October 1419, we learn that Catherine and Henry married on 2nd June 1420 and that Catherine still despises Henry.
  • Act II, Scene IV: as the Siege of Meaux begins in earnest, King Henry confides to his younger brother John Duke of Bedford about his marriage to Queen Catherine.  Henry’s court herald arrives from London to inform him of the birth of his son, Prince Henry.
  • Act II, Scene VI: Catherine returns to Paris certain that her duties as queen of England are now over with Henry’s death. This scene was added to make it explicit that Henry V is dead.
  • Act III, Scene III: Catherine and Owen’s wedding.  Historically all we know about this wedding is that it happened in secret  sometime before 1427 and that their priest told no one.  This scene shows the wedding to make it clear that Catherine and Owen married at least three years before Edmund’s birth in 1430.

Finally one scene stealing character was all but removed from the play version on practical grounds.  That character of course is Isabelle, Catherine’s Alexandrine parakeet.

In medieval Europe, companion birds were the primary pets for most people with the type of bird kept largely controlled by wealth and access to the food and shelter needs of the bird species.  From 2006 to 2013 I researched medieval aviculture as part of my membership in the Society for Creative Anachronism.  I became society expert on parrots in the middle ages and taught seminars on both medieval aviculture and medieval falconry.  So it only makes sense that my expertise in this area makes an appearance in Catherine’s biography.  In fact nothing could be more “Laurel” than including a parrot in the narrative.

In the book Isabelle behaves exactly the way the parrots I know (mine and those of friends) behave.  From the food stealing in chapter one to the playful aerial antics in chapter three, the book showcases life with parrots as I know it.

Parrots are unpredictable; they have minds of their own; they are not domesticated creatures.  Though they can be trained, there is no guarantee at any given moment that the bird will do what you ask.  In a live environment like theatre this is asking for trouble, trouble readily avoided by keeping Isabelle confined to a single scene where she can be replaced by a hand prop if need be.

 

In summary, “Catherine de Valois:  A Play in Three Acts” is a faithful adaptation to its parent biography.  Though not everything in the book makes it to the stage, it accurately and dramatically renders the events of Queen Catherine’s life in a form so entertaining it’s hard to realize how much you are learning in the process.

Enjoy the audio edition, kindle edition, and paperback edition of the original biography on Amazon sites worldwide.  Audio edition narrated by veteran Shakespearean actor and voice artist Richard Mann.

 

Early Fifteenth Century Costuming: General Guidelines for “Catherine de Valois: A Play in Three Acts”

 

Isabeau of Bavaria

Queen Isabeau of Bavaria in her royal houppeland.

As a historian, history is my passion.  I love few things better than seeing a period-correct drama where the costumes are accurately rendered.  But what do you do if your budget is small or you are playing scenes from “Catherine de Valois: A Play in Three Acts” or Shakespeare’s “Henry V?” What if you don’t have years of expertise researching medieval gowns?

The following is a general guide for productions of “Catherine de Valois: A Play in Three Acts” and for general re-enactment of  early 15th century characters/personae:

WOMEN:  A cotehardie.  Over her cotehardie she wears either a side-less surcoat or a floor length houppelande. In adults, hair is typically kept up and under a veil or period headpiece.  Wimples are sometimes worn under the chin.

MEN:  Knee length doublets over a white shirt. Over this men also sometimes wore houppelandes cover the upper body.  Hose covers lower body in all cases.  Indoors men wear simple leather shoes or ankle-length boots. Men wear hats.  Outdoors men wear knee length boots.

Additional examples of cotehardies,  houppelands, and hairstyles can be found across my many pinterest boards.

cotehardie-with-sideless-surcoat

Cotehardie with sideless surcoat.  Note that cotehardies may be either back laced (as in this example) or side-laced.

Special costuming for “Catherine de Valois: A Play in Three Acts”and for general reenactment of early 15th century characters/personae

PROLOGUE/EPILOGUE: Margaret wears a wedding veil on her head which is secured by a wreath of flowers.

Act I, Scene VII: Queen Isabeau is richly dressed in a velvet houppelande.  Catherine wears a white cotehardie.  Fleur-de-lys adorn Catherine’s royal blue velvet side-less surcoat.  Mother and daughter are dressed to impress as they wait to meet King Henry of England.

Act I, Scene VIII: Catherine wears a Christmas green houppelande.  In her hair she wears a circlet of holly and berries.  Queen Isabeau wears exactly the same dress as she wears in act one, scene two.

Act II, Scene II: The duke’s clothes are noble, but showing some wear.

Act II, Scene III: Catherine wears a loose houppelande to cover her slightly pregnant belly.

Act III, Scenes I, II: Catherine wears a bright white gown, veil, and wimple in accord with medieval mourning customs.

Act III, Scene III: Catherine wears the white cotehardie and blue side-less surcoat that she wore in

Act I, Scene VII. On her head is the crown given to her at her coronation as queen of England.

Excerpt: Catherine de Valois

Catherine de Valois

Catherine de Valois is a creative non-fiction biography suitable for young readers exploring the life of Henry V’s queen consort, Catherine de Valois.  Caricaturized by Shakespeare in “Henry V,” the real Catherine you meet in this biography was a woman of great intelligence, courage, and conviction.

Available  for kindle and in paperback.  Look for Catherine de Valois in Chinese language edition and in audio edition narrated by Richard Mann later this year.

In this scene from the end of chapter one, Catherine meets King Henry of England for the first time in October 1419.

————————————

“Must we do this, Mother?” asked Catherine, pacing furiously.

“What choice do we have, Catherine?  The blood of the women and children of Rouen cry out for action.  We must meet with King Henry this day or risk further slaughter,” conceded Queen Isabeau, her heart equally furious and grieved at the same time at Henry’s atrocities in Rouen.

“I do not want to meet him!  I hate him!  I have never heard of any living  man being so vile and disgusting to me.”

“It  is  said that he is otherwise to his own English people, that he governs them kindly and with great skill.”

“But what about the  Welsh, Mother?  Was he kind to them when he slaughtered them while his father reigned?” countered Catherine.  “I know it is my duty as your daughter – but you know how I hate violence, especially against  the innocent.  How are the Welsh any different than  us?   All they wanted was to not be slaves to this conqueror.  We of all people understand this!”

Before Isabeau could respond, the door opened.  Jacques de Heilly entered with a bow, “Your Majesty, Your Highness may I introduce you to Henry, by God’s grace King of England.”

As Montjoie stepped aside to take his traditional place one pace behind the queen, King Henry emerged into the room, his eyes immediately fixing themselves on the beautiful Catherine in her embroidered cotehardie and fur-edged side-less surcoat, the royal fleur-de-lys glistening in gold thread on her gown.  For a moment, Henry found himself so moved by  Catherine’s beauty that he could not speak.  Finally after two minutes, the king took a chivalrous bow, “Good ladies, we meet at last!”

Coolly, Catherine curtsied politely,  “Your Majesty.”

Henry, normally so confident and proud stammered, “Y-y-you are more beautiful than I ever dreamed!  Truly a vision of all that flowers in France.”

“If you value the beauty of the flowers of France, perhaps you should not have killed so many along the way,” countered Catherine, her rage flaming from her eyes.

Chided, Henry turned to Queen Isabeau, “Your Majesty, you permit your daughter to speak to me like this?”

“Catherine speaks her mind. In that, she is quite her mother’s daughter – and a Bavarian,” smirked Isabeau proudly.  “That you slaughtered our people, we concede.  That we wish to end this war, we fully declare.  But do not think you can force the mind and heart of my daughter in any matter.  Though you may, through the brutality that brings us here together, compel a measure of outward obedience, if it is affection of the mind or heart you desire, it would serve you best to put aside all savage warrior ways and behave yourself like a gentleman.

Henry blinked in shock.  No woman had dared to speak to him so boldly – or venomously.  Rather, he was accustomed to fearful pandering – not the confidence of a woman seeing herself as his equal, “I – I do not know what to say.   I was not born a prince, though certainly I wear the crown more easily than my father.  I,” Henry paused, his pride hurt even as his desire to possess Catherine grew.  Marrying Catherine was his birth right; since the death of Princess Isabella, Catherine’s sister and widow to Richard II, all talk had been across his life of his marrying Catherine. Was it not his destiny to marry Catherine?  Did she not see it the same way?  As his thoughts grew more confused by Catherine’s obvious spite, the rhythm and confidence of his speech waivered, “I have wanted this alliance for many years.  I cannot imagine myself with anyone else.  Yet do  I dream of love, of your love, Catherine.  Will you not be my wife?”

“Not out of love, England, for you are my enemy.  What am I to you but a trophy to your murders?” burned Catherine.

“If I swear on my soul to end this campaign this very day and never again kill, will you not agree to  marry me?”

“If you never kill again – yes – but there are many things you must agree to in order to make this treaty one and whole,” bargained Catherine confidently.

“I SWEAR IT!”

“God will hold you to your vow, Henry of England,” warned Queen Isabeau. “If you acknowledge this and still so swear, then shall we both draw up the formal terms to be signed once they are ready.”

“God hold me to my vow and strike me down in death if ever my hand spills French blood again!” vowed Henry fiercely.

 

Content with Henry’s answer, Queen Isabeau supervised the drafting of the now agreed-to peace treaty. On May the twenty-first 1420 King Henry the Fifth and King Charles the Sixth met in the city of Troyes where they both formally agreed to and signed the treaty. As demanded by King Henry, King Charles gave Catherine to him in marriage in a grand wedding held a few days later on the second of June.

Across the summer and autumn of 1420, Henry and Catherine became better acquainted as they toured together across France over the next six months.  Towards Catherine, Henry expressed the utmost admiration and, if not genuine love, certainly an intense romantic attraction to her.

For her part, Catherine found herself more than flattered at Henry’s attention. King Henry seemed so sincere in how he treated her.  Certainly he was gentle when she yielded to him in wifely duty, despite his fiery temperament.  Still in her heart, Catherine could never forget that this man who caressed her so softly in private was the same man who killed women and children for the crime of being born Welsh or French, his eyes both tender like a baby bird’s – or fierce like a raging storm – depending on his mood.

 

 

Christmas came. Henry wisely decided  their first Christmas as husband and wife should be spent in Paris with her parents and siblings.  As familiar songs filled her ears at the traditional midnight mass on Christmas  Eve, Catherine knelt in silence, the music gone from her heart and reflected in her eyes.  Though she tried for the sake of her people to make truly merry, Catherine found herself sad instead, as if something precious to her was lost, gone forever.

Finally, at the end of January, 1421 they at last arrived at Calais for the crossing to England.