1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Le Maire de Belges, Jean

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LE MAIRE DE BELGES, JEAN (1473-c. 1525), French poet and historiographer, was born at Bavai in Hainault. He was a nephew of Jean Molinet, and spent some time with him at Valenciennes, where the elder writer held a kind of academy of poetry. Le Maire in his first poems calls himself a disciple of Molinet. In certain aspects he does belong to the school of the grands rhétoriqueurs, but his great merit as a poet is that he emancipated himself from the affectations and puerilities of his masters. This independence of the Flemish school he owed in part perhaps to his studies at the university of Paris and to the study of the Italian poets at Lyons, a centre of the French renascence. In 1503 he was attached to the court of Margaret of Austria, duchess of Savoy, afterwards regent of the Netherlands. For this princess he undertook more than one mission to Rome; he became her librarian and a canon of Valenciennes. To her were addressed his most original poems, Epistres de l'amand nerd, the amant vert being a green parrot belonging to his patroness. Le Maire gradually became more French in his sympathies, eventually entering the service of Anne of Brittany. His prose Illustrations des Gaules et singularitez de Troye (1510-1512), largely adapted from Benoit de Sainte More, connects the Burgundian royal house with Hector. Le Maire probably died before 1525. Etienne Pasquier, Ronsard and Du Bellay all acknowledged their indebtedness to him. In his love for antiquity, his sense of rhythm, and even the peculiarities of his vocabulary he anticipated the Pléiade.

His works were edited in 1882-1885 by J. Stecher, who wrote the article on him in the Biographie nation ale de Belgique.