Ronsard engagé ? Le prince des poètes dans le théâtre des guerres de Religion

Poets too can wage ware—without arms, perhaps, but sometimes with violence. In the context of the confessional schism tearing apart the Kingdom of France, followed by the first civil war, all talents were mobilized for the ruin and discredit of the enemy. The same held true for Pierre de Ronsard. Beginning in 1547, this prince of poets started moving among the state’s leading figures. The Cardinals of Lorraine and Châtillon numbered among his first great benefactors, but it was Catherine de Médicis who elevated him to the level of the poet of kings. Moved by political, religious, and even philosophical affinities, Ronsard mobilized himself in the early 1560s to defend the government’s actions, to condemn the Huguenot resort to arms, and to make a laughing stock of Reformed teaching. Becoming a militant poet, he began to put his hatred of the Protestants to verse. His sensational entrance into the politico-poetical arena was not to be without consequence, as Ronsard became witness and perhaps even victim of the violence perpetrated throughout the kingdom. Most painful, however, was undoubtedly the decline of the pacifying power of words. The gradual growth of the tensions between 1565 and 1567 witnesses to the failure of the politics in which he had actively participated. Ronsard’s disenchantment was synonymous with his disengagement.