October 16, 2022
After a childhood marked by the death of his father, the political troubles of the kingdom, the authority of his Spanish mother, the paternal presence of an Italian minister worthy heir of Machiavelli, hunger, cold and civil war, on 7 June 1654 in the cathedral of Reims, Louis Dieudonné de Bourbon was crowned King of France.
Reims welcomed this ceremony with all the pomp and circumstance possible: the streets were urgently renovated, accommodation was prepared for the great assembly that was about to take place, bridges were restored, and all sorts of victuals, furniture and tapestries were transported... Reims was to be the centre of a kingdom that was being rebuilt around the young 16-year-old king for several days.
The ceremonial was as impressive as that of a theatre, the cathedral of Reims was decorated with tapestries, carpets, stands and a throne on the rood screen; all the great men of the kingdom of France, but also the sovereigns of Europe, were present and installed in their places at dawn. They all had in mind the Royal Ballet of the Night, in February 1653, whose unprecedented splendour had consecrated "the greatest king in the world" in people's minds. This symbolic and secular coronation was now replaced by a real coronation before God: the gold, the machines and the costumes gave way to the staging of the throne, the sumptuous crown, the ermine, the sceptre and the hand of justice, and the processions of the most prestigious figures in the kingdom, accompanied by volleys of bells and the ringing of oboes.
Although there is no indication of the precise music played on this occasion, a large number of clues can be traced through a meticulous investigation: the course of the ceremony, the texts sung, the different musical groups present, the instruments used, the number of performers, their location in the cathedral and the types of music.
By crossing all this information, mainly from all the reports made by contemporaries, official or not, sometimes extremely detailed, with the musical sources of that time, in particular the Deslauriers Manuscript and the Tours Manuscript, we propose today, with the precious help of the musicologist Thomas Leconte, a coronation of Louis XIV in music, opening the ears of the music lover of the XXIst century to treasures of polyphonies of past times.
With the collaboration of Thomas Leconte, Centre de musique baroque de Versailles (CMBV research centre, CESR team - UMR7323).
With the support of the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles.