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Part 3

James II’s coronation record provides some idea of the idealising nature of these forms. The ceremony itself and the symbolic, hyperbolic structures around it painted figures larger than life. Similarly, in the entry prepared for Maria de’ Medici into Paris in 1610, her husband Henri IV had been deliberately painted as something above and beyond a simple man. The idea of him as king could not be conceived or understood, wrote Mathurin Regnier the inventor of the show, “sans s’imaginer quelquechose au dessus de l’homme”; the thematic structure of this entry, therefore, was founded upon ideas such as exaltation, praise, glory and exhibition. By the display of greatness, inventors of festivals hoped to teach their princes to emulate what they saw and to remind them of past achievements which might be repeated in the future. Thus, in 1589, the history of good government in Florence, the splendid dynasties of the Lorraine and Medici families, and their victorious military histories are displayed on the arches erected for the entry of Christine de Lorraine. The first arch [Example 9], through its symbolic images, demonstrates the history of good government in the city; the second [Example 10] sets forth in a series of canvasses the dynasties of Lorraine and Medici - here, Catherine de’ Medici and her family are shown; while the military history of the two houses since the first crusade appeared on the third arch.

Inventors of festivals were equally ambitious for themselves as for the princes they served, for they recognized that their own status was closely allied to the lofty roles they created for their patrons. From the mid sixteenth century, into this arena came the Jesuits who saw the enormous advantages for their order in getting close to princes by praising them in their works. One of the most astonishing displays of their ingenuity and inventive powers can be seen in the royal entry they organized into Avignon in 1623 to greet Louis XIII after his series of victories over the Protestants. One might venture to say that their designs were preposterous in their complexity. In this arch [Example 11], the structures seems to have grown sideways. You can still see the simple double-columned arch at the centre, but excresences have developed on either side adding new structures and the numerous statues and pictures which make up the Portal of Felicity. Onto the façade of the cathedral, this structure was glued [Example 12] : an immense building with its decoration of saintly images surrounding and overwhelming the tiny arch seen at the beginning of a deep perspective leading into the church.