East of West pp 167-186 | Cite as

Traveling Players: Brazilians in the Rouen Entry of 1550

  • Claire Sponsler


In October of 1550 the town of Rouen staged a festival in honor of Henri II and his wife Catherine de Médici on the occasion of their entry into Rouen. This festival was one of the most elaborate and spectacular in a performance genre known for its over-the-top theatricality and spare-no-expense extravagance.1 The festival included such typical displays as pageants and tableaux vivants featuring Roman gods, muses, and nymphs and was marked by the commingled themes of flattery and persuasion typical of royal entries. According to the various contemporary accounts still extant, whose number and detail attest to the fascination the festival inspired, there were marvelous animals like unicorns and elephants side by side with battling gladiators, a mock sea fight between Portuguese and French warships, and a procession of captives won in recent battles. The festival’s pièce de résistance, however, for modern scholars and apparently for sixteenth-century spectators as well, was a meticulously re-created “Brazilian” village, built at the Faubourg Saint-Sever on the banks of the Seine just outside the city walls.


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Copyright information

© Claire Sponsler and Xiaomei Chen 2000

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  • Claire Sponsler

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