Queer Places:
Rue de la Chapelle, 75018 Paris, France

Claude-Emmanuel Luillier, dit Chapelle (1626-1686).jpgClaude-Emmanuel Luillier, known as Chapelle, born in 1626 or 1627 in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denys de la Chapelle, was a Frenchman of letters of the Grand Siècle, remained in literary history for having been the intimate friend of three major authors of the time: Cyrano de Bergerac, Charles Coypeau d'Assoucy and Molière, and for having written, with François Le Coigneux de Bachaumont, a Voyageen prose et en vers which has been the model for many other stories of the same form. Also close to François Bernier, La Fontaine, Racine, Boileau and Chaulieu, the lightness of his spirit and his playfulness earned him, towards the end of his life, to frequent the Parisian salons and to be appreciated by several "great lords" of the court of Louis XIV. Cyrano de Bergerac was a French writer. His work has recently been repositioned within a network of homosexual friendships. Cyrano entertained a relationship with notorious libertin writers Charles Coypeau d'Assoucy and Chapelle, all three of them close to Molière and, in one way or another, students of Epicurean philosopher Pierre Gassendi, whose own passionate biographies of celebrated savants of the time point towards the importance of homosocial friendships in such circles.

Chapelle was the adulterous son of François Luillier1(15?? -1652), treasurer of France in Paris, then master of accounts and advisor to the Parliament of Metz, and Marie Chanut (1595?-1652), sister of the diplomat Pierre Chanut, who lived separated from her husband Hector Musnier (15?? -1648), receiver general of finances in the generality of Auvergne. The dates of his birth and baptism are unknown. One of its first publishers gave him sixty years at the time of his death in 1686, which would make him born in 1626. But his double name, which was that of his father's younger brother, who died at the age of twenty-two in dramatic conditions in the spring of 1627 might suggest that Chapelle was born after this date rather than the previous year. The place of this birth is however well established, since it is from him that he takes his nickname of Chapel. His father owned a house in the village of La Chapelle between Paris and Saint-Denis, attached to the capital in 1860. He hosted his friend the philosopher Pierre Gassendi during his first stay in Paris in 1624. It is not known where or by whom he was raised. There is nothing to prevent us from thinking that it was through his mother, who remained in Paris until her death in January 1652. On January 4, 1642, he was legitimized by royal letters. Six months after having it legitimized, Luillier donated to his son 100 pounds of life annuity.

Even before that time, Chapelle met Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac and, through him, Charles Coypeau d'Assoucy, his elders of seven and twenty-one, with whom he will form for a few years what the Cyranist Madeleine Alcover called "a gay trio". At least this is what can be deduced from D'Assoucy's testimony: "He was not yet seventeen years old, the friend Chapelle, whom the late Bergerac, who was already eating his bread and wearing out his sheets, gave me the honor of his acquaintance. That is why it should come as no surprise that I have enjoyed it so well. As in those days he was very generous, when he had kept me at his house, and when to retire me home the hour was undue, he freely yielded to me half of his bed. That is why, after having had so long proofs of the quality of my desires, and having deigned to honor me several times with his bed, it seems to me that it was rather for him to justify me than to gentlemen of the Presidial of Montpellier, with whom I have never slept" Addressing his former friend in another text, D'Assoucy evokes "the first hairs which, shading your chin, caused such a notable divorce between you and Sieur Cyrano Bergerac, who from your earliest years took care of your education..." In the second edition of the same text, he calls out again: "Is this how you treat your friends, you who, when you sought my knowledge, were still only a schoolboy..."

It was during the year 1646, if one of its first publishers is to be believed, taken up by most historians, that the two paternal aunts of Chapelle are said to have had him locked up in the Maison Saint-Lazare, run by the priests of the Congregation of the Mission and which served as a reformatory, or even a prison, for the sons of families. A letter from François Luillier dated March 1647 and testifying to the "displeasure" he conceived "of what [he] was asked to do with Chapelle's debauchery and libertinage," could confirm this dating, which nevertheless remains questionable.

At the beginning of the summer of 1650, armed with a letter of recommendation from Jacques Dupuy to his brother Pierre, he left for Rome, where he met his friend D'Assoucy. He left the city in the first days of April 1651 to reach Lucca, where his father, ill, came to take the waters. On 21 January 1652, François Luillier died in Pisa (at the same time that Marie Chanut, Chapelle's mother, died in Paris). It is likely that his son attended his funeral with Bernier, sent there by Gassendi.. After which he returned to Paris, passing through Digne, Grenoble, Geneva and Dijon.

In the hottest of summer 1656, Chapelle leaves withFrançois Le Coigneux de Bachaumont to take the waters at Encausse. The stages of their journey — friendly, gastronomic, oenological and more rarely "touristic" — are as follows: Bourg-la-Reine, Antony, Longjumeau; the abbey of Saint-Euverte d'Orléans, of which Bachaumont is a beneficiary; Blois, Amboise; the castle of Fontaulade in Chadenac, property of the Count of Lussan; the castle of Jonzac; Courpignac, Blaye; the palace of Intendant Gédéon II Tallemant des Réaux, rue du Chapeau-Rouge in Bordeaux; the residence of the Comte d'Orty at Agen, Encausse; the castle of Castillon-Savès, property of the Marquis de Fontrailles, Toulouse; the castle of the Count of Aubijoux in Graulhet, Castres; the castle of Pennautier, property of Pierre Louis Reich de Pennautier, treasurer of the States of Languedoc, Narbonne, Béziers, Saint-Thibéry, Loupian, Montpellier; the castle of Marsillargues, property of Jean-Louis de Louet de Nogaret, marquis de Calvisson, Pont du Gard, Nîmes, Beaucaire, Arles, Salon, Marseille, Cassis, La Ciotat; the "Cassine" of the Chevalier Paulat the Pont du Lasnear Toulon, Hyères, Sainte-Baume, Saint-Maximin, Négreaux (property of the Riqueti family in Mirabeau), Aix, Orgon, Avignon, where they arrive on November 2, Pont-Saint-Esprit, and from there by the coche d'eau to Lyon , where they compose the account of their prose journey mixed with verse, which they address to their friends the Du Broussin brothers. The account of this trip circulated in manuscript until in 1661 the bookseller Estienne Loyson published it, under the title "Voyage de Messieurs de la Chapelle & Balchaumont (sic)", at the head of a collection of Nouvelles poésies et prose (sic) galantes, containing several elegies, stanzas and sonnets, rondeaux, epigrams, bouts-rimez and madrigals. It will be republished many times in the following years and centuries.

In 1669, Jean Donneau de Viséde dicated to Chapelle L'Amour échapé ou les divers manière d'aymer, and in which he painted his portrait under the name of Craton (tome III, p.16-17): "Craton is one of the most witty men in the world. He has it natural, easy, he has a good and delicate taste, he has many lights, he hears poets very well and knows all their finesse. He is a good philosopher, and a doctor without making a profession of it. He writes well in prose, he makes verses that have a particular turn, and no one has ever been at the same time so friendly to sex and Bacchus. » In addition to the authors already named, Chapelle was a friend of Charles Beys, La Fontaine, Racine, Furetière, Nicolas Boileau, and Abbé de Chaulieu. He frequented the salon of Marguerite de la Sablière, rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs and the Château d'Anet, owned by the Vendôme, and he is appreciated by great lords such as the Grand Condé, the Duke of Saint-Aignan, Louis-Joseph and Philippe de Vendôme, Philippe Mancini, Duke of Nevers, and his sister Marie Anne, Duchess of Bouillon. He died in September 1686 in conditions of which nothing is known.

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