on the call number to view the digital facsimile of
Deuises heroïques,/par m. Claude
Paradin, Chanoyne de Beauieu.
A Lyon: Par Iean de Tournes,
et Guil. Gazeau, 1551.
Gordon 1557 .P37
(Click on the call number to view the digital facsimile
of the book.)
Deuises heroïques, par m. Claude
Paradin Chanoine de Beaujeu.
A Lion, Par Ian. de Tournes,
et Guil. Gazeau, 1557.
By the late fifteenth, and in the sixteenth-century, French
royalty and nobility often adopted a devise, a
symbolic image, usually accompanied by a latin motto, to
represent themselves—as part of a coat of arms, but
also in home decoration, furnishings and clothing. The popular
adoption of the para-heraldic devise was due in
part to a decline in the military role of traditional heraldry,
as well as to the increasingly complex and rigid rules of
transmission applied to coats of arms.
Claude Paradin published his collection of devises
in 1551, first giving only the image and motto. In the subsequent,
expanded edition of 1557 (Gordon 1551 .P37) he provides a brief explanation
of the symbol and how it represents the individual who chose
it or to whom the symbol was attributed by the Renaissance.
“NVTRISCO ET EXTINGO,” for
example, illustrates Francis I’s devise,
the salamander with crown.
The porcupine and crown, with the motto,
“VLTVS AVOS TROIAE,” represents Louis
XII and his powers of defense.
de Navarre is represented by the marigold,
the “fleur du souci,” and the acccompanying
motto, “NON INFERIORA SEQVVTUS.”
The rainbow is the symbol of “Madame Catherine,
Royne de France.” Her devise, the “arc
en ciel,” is the sign of peace, in this case
the peace she sought to regain in her country, torn
In some cases, Paradin assigns a devise to a figure
from the past, explaining as well the universal moral sense
of the image for his readers.
Gordon 1551 .P37
The image of the snake and hand, with
the motto, “QVIS CONTRA NOS,” are associated
with St. Paul, because of the episode in his life
in which God protected him from a venomous snake bite.
In the 1557 edition, Paradin underscores the general
message to his readers: “car veritablement à
qui Dieu veut ayder, il n’y ha rien qui puisse
In the 1557 edition, Paradin adds a
devise for Joan of Arc, “la pucelle
d’Orléans.” The motto, “Consilio
firmata Dei,” is accompanied by the figure of
the crowned sword, flanked by two fleurs de lys. Paradin
explains that the image serves as a perpetual monument
to the defense and protection of France.
The book’s eventual format, combining woodcut image
with latin motto and brief explanation, followed the model
of and capitalized on the popularity of emblem collections,
whose images referred to a concept or idea, rather than
characterizing an individual person. Whereas the emblème
may depict a single figure or an entire scene, the
personal devise limits itself to one or a small
number of related figures, with no background “scene.”
The devise itself included only a brief motto,
although Paradin’s expanded version provides the explanatory
text that makes his second edition of his Devises heroiques
much more similar in format to the emblem book.
Likewise, Paradin includes examples that adhere to the visual
format of the personal devise, but that in fact
convey a universal theme, with no direct attribution of
the figure to a specific individual in the explanatory texts
of the later edition. Presumably one could choose to adopt
such a devise. Without an established association
with a particular individual, however, the devise in
question acts rather as a universal emblem and may have
served to enlarge the potential readership and use of the
The hand, the royal sleeve, and the
sword of “NON SINE CAVSA” signify the
judicial power inherent in all government. The devise
applies to all princes and magistrates, and serves
to remind all subjects of the need to fear and respect
the hand of justice.
The figure of the harp (“IN SIBILO
AVRAE TENVIS”) symbolizes the power of music
over melancholy. The divine effects of music, and
of the harp in particular, are associated with David,
who played to comfort King Saul, but Paradin stresses
the power of music over all human souls.
The flies on the mirror of “MELIVS IN SORDIBVS
HAERENT” (“Labuntur nitidis scabrisq;
tenacius haerent” in the 1557 edition)
represent a general moral truth about the positive
effects of adversity, attributed to no particular
individual but applicable to all human nature.
Paradin’s printer, Jean de Tournes, published numerous
emblem books in mid-16th century Lyon. The woodcuts in Paradin’s
books are attributed to Bernard Salomon, one of the most
accomplished woodcut designers of the era, who provided
many illustrations for Jean de Tournes.
The devises, like the other forms of the
emblem genre, were popular throughout Europe and printed
in numerous languages. A sixteenth-century English
translation of Paradin’s work (London, 1591)
is available on the website of the Penn State University
English Emblems Project.
The table of contents for the digitized version
of the English translation (The heroicall devises
of M. Claudius Paradin […]. Translated out of
our Latin into English by P.S. William Kearney)
is at: http://emblem.libraries.psu.edu/paradtoc.htm.
Links to the English translations of the
devises noted above:
/ I nourish, and I extinguish.
/ He hath revenged his forefathers quarrell, by
the example of Troy.
/ Following no meane things.
raine bow doth bring faire weather.
/ If God be with vs, who can be against us.
/ It is established by Gods decree.
/ Not without cause.
sibilo aurae tenuis.
/ In the muttering of the gentle aire.
nitidis, scabrisque tenatius harent.
/ Flies do fall downe from slipperie place, but
stick fast vpon the hard and rough.
French Emblems at Glasgow includes a facsimile and transcription of both the 1551 and 1557 editions of the Devises heroïques, along with information about Paradin, the publication history of his work, and a select secondary bibliography.
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