PERRISSIN, Jean (before 1546-1617) and Jacques TORTOREL (fl: 1568-1575). Lentreprinse d'Amboise descouverte les 13. 14. & 15. de Mars. 1560. Geneva: Nicholas Castellin, 1569-1570
Single sheet (15 6/8 x 20 2/8 inches). Fine woodcut signed "I. Tor Torel. Fecit" within the platemark, woodcut title above and legend below the neat line.
THE CONSPIRACY OF AMBOISE
Number 6 of 40 plates (including the illustrated title-page) in the celebrated series published with titles and legends in French (as here), German, Italian and Latin, as "Premier volume contenant quarante tableaux ou histoires diverses qui sont memorables touchant les guerres, massacres et troubles advenus en France en ces dernieres annees. Le tout recueilli selon le tesmoignage de ceux qui y ont este en personne" - "First Volume, containing forty tableaus or divers memorable histories concerning the wars, massacres and troubles that have occurred in France in these last years. All gathered from the testimony of those who were there in person and saw them, and truly portrayed".
"THE FIRST EXTENDED PRINT SERIES OFFERING A PICTORIAL ACCOUNT OF RECENT EVENTS where the images do not simply illustrate a written history but carry the burden of telling the story themselves, and that was intended not to glorify aruler's deeds but to show a broad general public the events of their time" (Benedict, page 4)
The Conspiracy of Amboise, depicted in this superb woodcut, was an abortive plot by the young French Huguenot aristocrats of 1560 against the Catholic House of Guise. "On the accession of the 14-year-old Francis II to the French throne in 1559, the Guise family gained ascendancy in the government, creating enmity among the smaller nobility. A conspiracy to overturn their government was formed at Nantes, with a needy Périgord nobleman named La Renaudie as its nominal head, though the agitation had in the first instance been fostered by the agents of Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé. The Guises were warned of the conspiracy while the court was at Blois, and for greater security they removed the King to Amboise. La Renaudie, however, merely postponed his plans, and the conspirators assembled in small parties in the woods around Amboise. They had, however, been again betrayed, and many of them were surrounded and captured before the coup could be delivered; on March 19, 1560, La Renaudie and the rest of the conspirators openly attacked the château of Amboise. They were repelled, La Renaudie was killed, and a large number were taken prisoners" (Encyclopedia Britannica online).
This magnificent scene shows James Savoy, Duke of Nemours receiving his orders from the Royal Guard at Amboise, where the Guise family have taken the young king Francis II, then hiding in the surrounding woods, waiting in ambush for Renaudie, the leader of the conspirators, and his men. Renaudie is then shown attacking Pardillian, part of the King's guard, and then in turn Renaudie is shot by one of Pardillian's pages. Also published as an engraving, this slightly later woodcut contains information in the legend not included on the engraved version: Pardaillon's pistol failed to fire, giving La Renaudie the opportunity to kill him with his sword, and before dying from a gunshot fired by one of Pardaillan's pages, La Renaudie was able to kill the page.
The publishing history of the "Quarante Tableaux" is extremely complex, and explained in great detail by Philip Benedict in his excellent "The Graphic History: the Wars, Massacres and Troubles of Tortorel and Perrissin" 2007. However the events depicted begin with the "special meeting of the Parlement of Paris in June 1559 at which Anne Du Bourg spoke out before king Henry II against the harsh repression of Protestantism through [to] a minor skirmish between Hugenot and Catholic forces along the Rhone in March 1570. The first dozen or so plates show the events that led up to the outbreak of open civil war in spring 1562. The remainder of the series is comped of events from the first three French Wars of Religion (1562-1563, 1567-1568, and 1568-1570). Above all it is a compendium of battles (15 pictures), sieges (5 pictures), raids (4 pictures) and massacres (3 pictures - 5 if the massacres from prior to the outbreak of the First civil war are included)" (Benedict, page 6).