Marie d'Ennetières

From SiefarWikiEn

Jump to: navigation, search

Entry by William Kemp, 2003

Marie d'Ennetières, born in 1495 and the eldest daughter of a family whose father was ennobled in 1523, seems to have been educated by the Augustinian sisters of the Prés-Porchins abbey at Tournai before entering their order. Attracted by the new religious ideas, she may have become involved; in any case, circa 1524 she fled the monastery. In 1527-1528, she resurfaced in Strasbourg around the reformer Wolfgang Capiton, as the wife of Simon Robert, a former Augustinian from the Tournai region. After the victory of the cause of the reform in the "Dispute of Berne" (Jan. 1528), the couple joined William Farel in the Aigle region east of Lake Léman. Robert was named pastor at Bex, which made them the first couple to secure a pastorate in francophone territory. Having been widowed in 1533 with at least 2 children, she married one of Farel's companions, the young Antoine Froment; she and her children then moved with him to Geneva in 1535. From this second marriage she had a daughter, Judith. Soon after the town went over to the Reform, Marie d'Ennetières took part in the attempted conversion of the Poor Clares of Geneva, an effort described in a very negative light by their secretary, Jeanne de Jussie. In 1536 La Guerre et deslivrance de la ville de Genesve appeared at Geneva, only a few manuscript copies of which are extant. This text was attributed to Marie at the end of the 19th century, but recent analysis indicates that she probably was not the main author.

In 1537 when Froment was named deacon at Thonon, the couple moved there. Shortly after, Marie d'Ennetières undertook a draft of the Epistre tresutile which defends the principles of Farel's reform. The work, printed in Geneva under a false place name in March 1539, after the expulsion of Farel and Calvin, was almost immediately seized by decision of the city council, which represents the beginning of censorship by the reform on its territory. The Epistre is dedicated to Marguerite de Navarre, godmother of one of her daughters. Marie thanks her for having sustained her (financially?), more than likely after her arrival in Geneva. The dedication is followed by an important "Defense pour les femmes", justifying their active participation in religious matters, at least amongst themselves. The book is accompanied by a small Hebrew grammar book (manuscript?) composed by her daughter Jeanne and sent to Marguerite's daughter, Jeanne d'Albret.

In the small Genevan republic, Marie and her husband were the subjects of commentary on several occasions. They were criticized for commercial activities deemed unworthy of a pastor (the sale of wine and speculation on it). Froment's unusual behavior sometimes brought him before the courts. Addtionally, a letter from Calvin to Farel dated Jan. 9, 1546 reveals that Marie complained publicly in Geneva of the long robes of pastors, associating the first minister of Geneva with the false prophets whose coming is foretold in the New Testament; she also criticized the tyranny of the Church which prevented women from discussing religious questions amongst themselves. Calvin reports that he put this woman in her place, severely reprimanding her.

Despite these tensions, the couple remained faithful to the Genevan and Calvinist reform. At the end of the 1540s, their daughter, the Hebrew linguist, married the professor of Hebrew at the Lausanne Academy, Jean Raymond, called Merlin, a close collaborator of Calvin. Moreover, a short text on the modesty of women, signed M.D., appeared in Geneva and in France in 1561, as a preface to one of Calvin's sermons on women's dress; everything suggests that this was her contribution to the propaganda campaign in favour of the Calvinist reform organized on the eve of the colloquium at Poissy. Marie died in the second half of 1561.

Between the years 1540 and 1560, several anonymous texts took up her cause: the defense of the right of women to speak on religious matters. L'Epistre tresutile is cited in the Bibliographie françoise of Du Verdier (1585) and in the Bibliotheca Belgica Valère André (1643 ed.) with the additional words "mulier docta". In 1804, Fortunée Briquet claims that she was a poet, but no other indication of this has been traced. The works of Marie were then forgotten until the rediscovery of a copy of L'Epistre tresutile around 1870. This has been the subject of analysis by historians of the Calvinist reform and of women since the 1970s.

(translated by Hannah Fournier)


- 1539 : Epistre tresutile faite et composée par une femme Chrestienne de Tornay, Envoyée à la Royne de Navarre seur du Roy de France. Contre les Turcz, Juifz, Infideles, Faulx chrestiens, Anabaptistes, et Lutheriens. Anvers [=Genève], Martin Lempereur [=Jean Girard].
- 1561 : «Au Lecteur chrestien», signé «M. D.», in Sermon de M. J. Cal[vin] où il est montré quelle doit estre la modestie des femmes en leurs habillements, s.l.s.n. Le sermon est suivi par la traduction d'un passage de saint Cyprien sur l'habit des vierges, qui est peut-être d'elle.
- In progress : Oeuvres de Marie d'Ennetières, éd. Diane Desrosiers-Bonin, William Kemp, Isabelle C. Denommé, et al., Genève, Droz.

Selected bibliography

- Backus, Irena. «Marie Dentière: un cas de féminisme théologique à l'époque de la Réforme». Bull. de la Soc. d'Hist. du Protest. Franç., 137, 1991, p.177-195.
- Correspondance des Réformateurs dans les pays de langue française, vol. 5, éd. A.-J. Herminjard. Georg, Genève, 1878, no.785.
- Head, Thomas. «The Religion of the Femmelettes: Ideals and Experience among Women in 15th- and 16th-Century France», in Lynda L. Coonet al., That Gentle Strength. Historical Perspectives on Women in Christianity. Charlottesville, VA, University of Virginia Press, 1990, p.149-175.
- Kemp, William et Diane Desrosiers-Bonin. «Marie d'Ennetières et la petite grammaire hébraïque de sa fille d'après la dédicace de l' Epistre à Marguerite de Navarre». Bull. Hum. Réforme, 60, 1998, p.117-134.
- Wengler, Elizabeth M. Women, Religion, and Reform in Sixteenth-Century Geneva. Thèse de doctorat, Boston College, mai 1999. -->

Marie d'Ennetières
Spouses Simon Robert
Antoine Froment
Also known as Marie Dentière
Birth date 1495
Death 1561
Biographical entries in old dictionaries
Dictionnaire Fortunée Briquet
Dictionnaire Hilarion de Coste
Personal tools
In other languages