Marie de Medici’s 1605 <em>ballet de la reine</em>: New Evidence and Analysis


  • Melinda J. Gough McMaster University



Marie de Medici, Maria de Medici, Marie de Medicis, women's performance, court ballet, manuscript records, translation, edition,


To expand our knowledge of women’s contributions to ballet de cour, this essay presents the first scholarly edition of a previously overlooked eye-witness account of Marie de Medici’s 1605 ballet de la reine. Offering a transcription of the document and an English translation with annotations, the essay helps to settle basic questions of performance history and makes available a wealth of new evidence regarding specific visual iconographies, choreographed dances, musical innovations, and elements of audience response. Such evidence in turn challenges previous assumptions regarding an exclusively decorous and elevated tone for women’s court ballet of the early seventeenth century and indicates Marie de Medici’s active integration of ‘living, breathing luxury items’ such as dwarfs and foreign women singers into ballet de cour. In addition, the mansucript and its provenance testify to this ballet’s ultimate significance for its contemporaries as a ceremonial staging of political rule.




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