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    Mary of Hungary and Music PatronageAuthor(s): Glenda Goss ThompsonSource: The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Winter, 1984), pp. 401-418Published by: The Sixteenth Century Journal

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  • 8/12/2019 Review Music Patronage

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    The Sixteenth Century Journal 401

    XV, No. 4,1984

    Mary

    of

    Hungary and Music Patronage

    Glenda Goss Thompson*

    The

    University of Georgia

    When the Venetian

    ambassador

    to

    the court

    of

    Charles

    V wrote the

    final report of his mission in 1546, he noted two particular features regar-

    ding the sector

    of

    Charles's empire known as les pays de

    pardeca:

    the hun-

    ting and the music, which he described as "sounding with supreme delight."'

    Both of these

    activities were

    flourishing

    under the

    aegis

    of

    Charles's

    sister

    Mary,

    who

    governed

    as

    regent

    of

    the Netherlands

    from

    1531 until

    1556.

    Called

    Mary

    of

    Hungary by

    reason of her

    marriage

    to

    Louis

    (Lajos)

    II of

    Hungary

    (1506-1526), Mary was well

    known

    among contemporaries

    for

    her

    energetic riding and hunting. She was also known

    to

    prefer music above the

    other arts. Even

    e

    cursory examination of Mary's court records shows

    numerous

    payments involving musicians, musical instruments, and musical

    performances.

    Yet the

    position

    that music

    occupied at Mary's

    court

    in

    Brussels and its significance have been very imperfectly understood up until

    now. Early

    assessments ranged from vague allusions to a sparkling musical

    culture, such as that

    reported by

    the

    Venetian ambassador,

    to

    erroneous

    convictions

    about the small size

    and relative neglect

    of the

    musical

    establishment. Today, histories

    of

    music give Mary

    of

    Hungray only pass-

    ing mention if they acknowledge her at all.2 On the other hand, histories of

    a

    political

    and social nature

    recognize Mary's

    role

    in

    the Netherlands but

    with

    little

    or

    no

    reference

    to

    her

    cultivation

    of

    music. Characteristic are

    Henri Pirenne's remarks simply that Mary appreciated music and that she

    sponsored

    festivities

    (including music)

    at her elaborate chateaux built

    at

    *A Fellowship

    from

    the American

    Association

    of University

    Women

    and a University

    of

    Georgia

    Research Foundation

    Travel Grant provided

    financial

    support

    for research

    in

    Vienna,

    Lille,

    and Brussels.

    The author

    is

    particularly

    indebted

    to Professor Jean

    Motat

    for

    numerous

    insights and suggestions

    offered

    during

    the preparation

    of this study.

    1'E

    governatrice

    generale

    di tutti quei paesi

    la

    reginaMaria,

    donna

    che ha dell'uomo

    assai,

    perche provvede alle cose della guerra, e di esse, e di fortezze, e di tutte le cose di stato dice

    l'opinion

    sna. Ha fama

    d'essere castissima

    donna: cavalca

    eccellentemente:

    e la caccia e

    la

    musica

    sono

    li suoi sommi

    diletti."

    Bernardo

    Navagero,

    Relazione,

    in vol.

    1

    of

    Relazioni

    degli

    Ambasciatori

    Veneti

    al Senato,

    ed. Eugenio

    Alberi (Florence, 1830), p.

    299.

    Both terms

    for

    Mary's

    country, les

    pays

    de

    pardeca

    and

    les

    pays

    d'embas,

    are found

    in the court

    documents

    described

    below.

    2Mary

    of

    Hungary

    does

    not

    appear

    in the standard

    music

    dictionary,

    The New

    Grove

    Dic-

    tionary of Music

    and

    Musicians,

    ed.

    Stanley Sadie

    (London:

    Macmillan,

    1980). There are

    brief

    references

    to

    her in the standard

    music history

    of the

    era, Music

    in the

    Renaissance,

    by

    Gustave

    Reese (New

    York:

    Norton,

    1959), pp.

    299, 303,

    340, 719,

    722-725.

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  • 8/12/2019 Review Music Patronage

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    402 The Sixteenth

    CenturyJournal

    Binche and Mariemont.3 Pirenne, however, had the considerable insight

    to

    add that

    the

    regent surrounded herself

    with such

    splendor as

    a means of

    enhancing the power that Charles V had put

    into

    her hands.

    As a patroness

    of

    music Mary could

    well

    furnish an example superior

    to many

    in

    the sixteenth century. Called by Erasmus "the woman

    most

    widely praised of her time,"4 Mary was musically literate; during her

    lifetime she travelled widely; for twenty-five years she governed in an area

    of exceptional musical talent; and she functioned as part of Europe's

    most

    widespread and enduring political organization. Mary

    of

    Hungary thus

    oc-

    cupied an unusually advantageous position from which

    to

    encourage and

    influence the art of music.

    The aim of this article is to examine the records from Mary of

    Hungary's regency

    in

    order

    to find

    out just

    how

    extensive her patronage of

    music really was.

    If

    Mary

    did

    take appreciable measures

    to

    cultivate this

    art

    in the Netherlands, then musicologists need to account for her actions and

    their musical results. Furthermore, if music patronage is demonstrated

    to

    have had a significant place

    in

    this regency, then the question of why

    Mary

    of Hungary cultivated music might profitably be addressed. While Mary

    of

    Hungary may have

    been

    a musician at heart, there may also have been

    other factors to contribute to her musical enthusiasm. Identifying these fac-

    tors might be quite as illuminating to an understanding of sixteenth-century

    values as

    to

    the business of Renaissance music making.

    Current State

    of

    Research

    Mary

    of

    Hungary

    is

    not

    a

    figure

    unknown

    to

    historians. A number

    of

    biographies have depicted Mary

    as the devoted

    supporter

    of her

    brother

    and a competent ruler in the Netherlands5However, aside from the abun-

    3Histoire de Belgique, 3. ed. (Brussels: Maurice-Lamertin, 1923), III: 105-106.

    4Quoted by Jozef Duverger,

    "Marie

    de Hongrie, Gouvernante des Pays-Bas, et la

    Renaissance," Actes du XXXIIe Congres International d'Histoire de L'Art. Budapest 1969

    I

    (1972): 716.

    5The only biography

    in

    English is by Jane de Iongh, Mary of Hungary, Second Regent of

    the Netherlands, trans. M. D. Herter

    Norton

    (New York: Norton, 1958). Others include

    Ghislaine

    de

    Boom,

    Marie de

    Hongrie (Brussels: La Renaissance du Livre, 1956): Wilhelm

    Strache, "Die Anfange der Konigin Marie

    von

    Ungarn, spateren Statthalterin Karls V.

    in

    den

    Niederlanden" (Ph.D. dissertation, University

    of

    Gottingen, 1940); Theodore Ortvay, Maria II

    Lajos jagya kiraly neje (Budapest, 1914); and Theodore Juste, Les Pays-Bas sous Charles-

    Quint,

    Vie

    de

    Marie

    de

    Hongrie (Brussels, Decq. 1855),

    each with

    additional

    bibliography.

    Of

    recent work

    on

    Mary, there is the dissertation of Gernot Heiss, "Konigin Maria von Un

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