Jeffroy Charles’s wife, Margaret du Mottet, had borne him eight children before he surprised her in adultery. After the tragical ending of his conjugal mishaps he adopted as his crest the figure of an angel holding the forefinger of one hand to his mouth as if to enjoin secrecy. (1) In the seventeenth century this “angel of silence” was to be seen, carved in stone, and serving as a support of the Charles escutcheon, on the house where the President had resided in the Rue des Clercs at Grenoble (Guy Allard’s Dictionnaire du Dauphine, &c, Grenoble 1695). Escutcheon and support have nowadays disappeared, but on certain of Charles’s seals, as well as in books that belonged to him, now in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, the emblem of the angel will still be found. The earliest seal on which we find it is one affixed to a receipt dated from Milan, July 31, 1506. Assuming that he adopted this crest in memory of the events narrated by Queen Margaret, it is probable that the latter occurred in the earlier part of 1506 or the latter part of the previous year. (2)
1 The suggestion here
presents itself that, apart from the
question of any crime, this emblem of secrecy was a very
fitting one for a diplomatist to assume.—Ed.
2 That is, twenty years after the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, from which some commentators think the Heptameron story to have been borrowed, was first printed. —Ed.
Three copies of a medal showing Charles’s energetic, angular profile, with the inscription Jafredus Karoli jurisconsultus preses Delphinatus et Mediolani, are known to exist; one in the Grenoble museum, one in that of Milan, and one in my (M. Roman’s) collection. Three MS. works from the President’s library are in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. The frontispiece of one of these (MSS. Lat. No. 4801) is a miniature painting of his escutcheon, surmounted by the half-length figure of the “angel of silence,” who is clad in dark blue, with wings of red, green and blue feathers. On folio 74 of the same MS. is a full-length figure of the angel, clad in light blue and supporting Charles’s escutcheon with one hand, whilst the forefinger of the other is pressed to his lips. In the libraries of Lyons, Grenoble and Turin are other richly-illuminated works that belonged to the President, who was a distinguished bibliophilist and great patron of letters, several learned Italian writers, and among others, J. P. Parisio, J. M. Cattaneo and P’ranchino Gafforio, having dedicated their principal works to him. He it was, moreover, who saved the life of Aldo Manuzio, the famous Venetian printer, when he was arrested by the French as a spy in 1506.
From the foregoing particulars it will be seen that President Charles was alike learned, brave and skilful. But for the Queen of Navarre’s circumstantial narrative it would be hard to believe that a man with so creditable a public record killed his wife by means of a salad of poisonous herbs.—Ed.