Notes and Queries, Sept 1995 v42 n3 p357(5)

The 'Candie-souldier,' Venice, and James VI (I)'s advice on monarchic dress in 'Basilicon Doron.' Fischlin, Daniel.

Abstract: King James's advice on court dressing in his 'Basilicon Doron' used the term 'Candie-souldier' to describe a certain way of dressing. The book had been translated to French and Spanish. Of the two, the latter seems more nearer the mark: Candie was translated as Candia, the Venetian word for Crete. So the King may be using the contemporary term for Crete. Other references also support this idea.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1995 Oxford University Press

NO adequate gloss exists for the use of the term `Candie-souldier' in book three of Basilicon Doron:

Be also moderate in your rayment; neither
ouer superfluous, like a deboshed waister;
nor yet ouer base, like a miserable wretche;
not artificiallie trimmed & decked, like a
Courtizane; nor yet ouer sluggishly clothed,
like a country-clowne; not ouer lightly like a
Candie-souldier, or a vaine young Courtier,
nor yet ouer grauelie, like a Minister.(1)

The MS Royal 18 B. xv (1598 and in James's own hand), the Waldegrave edition of 1599, and the 1616 Workes all make use of the term, which Craigie in the Scottish Text Society edition glosses as follows: cf. [William] Lithgow, Rare Adventures (1632, reprint of 1906), p. 81, `(The Greeks of Crete) are not costly in their apparell, for they weare but linnen cloathes.' Hotman [the French Protestant scholar, Jean Hotman, Seigneur de Villiers], in his French version of 1603, renders his [James's] text here by bigarre comme un gendarme esuente -- i.e., clad in motley like a scatterbrain.(2)

Craigie translates the obscure French word `esuente -- an early seventeenth-century variant of the modern French `evente', then commonly spelt `esvente' or `esvante' -- as `scatterbrain'. `Evente' is defined by Le Dictionnaire de L'Academie Francoise (2nd edn) es `se dit d'un homme qui a l'esprit leger, evapore', thus the Craigie translation. But a more probable translation of what Hotman intended (and likely James as well), is `evente' in the sense of `qui flotte au vent' a meaning that suggests someone who is lightly clad and a meaning common in sixteenth-century French.(3) Another less likely translation from the latter source is `informe', a meaning almost directly at odds with Craigie's translation of the Hotman text es `scatterbrain'. In any event, one wonders why, if James had intended the sense of scatterbrain, he did not use the Scots `cude', `cuide', or `coyd', all variants of the same word, meaning hairbrained or deranged?(4) The Craigie translation, then, only adds to the confusion surrounding the term `Candle'. Furthermore, The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), The Scottish National Dictionary (SND), and The Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tortgue (DOST) have no record of the latter term's usage or meaning.(5)

Given James's predilection for pedantry, but more especially, his manipulation of pedantry for politically expeditious reasons such as `croaking' his meaning, a few clarificatory notes in regard to the phrase are in order. First, the French translation by Hotman as cited by Craigie is inaccurate, the exact phrase from the 1603 edition being `non bigarre comme d'un gendarme esuente, ou d'un mignon frise'.(6) Second, the Spanish translation of Basilicon Doron by Juan Pemberton (c. 1603) renders the phrase as `no de masiado galano, como soldado de Candia, o como un vano y nuevo cortesano'.(7) In the Pemberton translation `Candia' refers to the Venetian word for Crete, for almost five centuries (from the Fourth Crusade to the surrender to the Turks of the city of Iraklion, also known as Candia, in 1699) a settlement colony of Venice. Its primary importance was as a stopover among many (including Corfu, Methoni, Kithira, Cyprus, and Beirut) for Venetian ships plying their trade with the Near East, but it also had secondary importance as a favoured place of employment for impoverished Venetian nobles.(8) It is likely, given the relative precision of the Pemberton translation in relation to the Hotman translation, that James was using the obscure form of `Candy' dating from 1597 (OED) to refer specifically to Candia. OED lists only one reliable source during James's reign as Scottish king that explicitly uses `Candy' to refer to Crete: `1597 Gerard Herbal I. xxiv 31 It grows in Creet, now called Candy.'(9)

A search through other Castalian writers yields no other examples of the use of `Candie', though Alexander Montgomerie's (?1540-?1610) and Alexander Hume's `The Flyting of Montgomerie and Polwart', a poem written in the style of the `Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie', uses the word in an obscure phrase `Swamp sandie, come fra candle, with grandie opprest'.(10) Stevenson's glossary lists three words from the line -- `swamp-sundie (?)' Isic; 3891, `candie (?j', end `grandie (?)'. No definition is given for any of these terms, though reading `candle' as the proper name, Crete, in this context, provides for interesting interpretive possibilities that may solve the meaning of the line, in addition to lending support to James's contemporary usage of `Candle' as a proper name for Crete.

In his introductory comments on the differences between the Harleian and the Tullibardine versions of the poem, Stevenson states that `[a] third new stanza in Polwart's last invective ... levels at Montgomerie the interesting and suggestive charge of pilfering proverbia'sayings from Italian sources' (xxvii). Thus, manuscript evidence suggests that Montgomerie had sufficient knowledge of Italian to incorporate pilfered proverbs into his work. Also, though biographical information on both poets is scarce, Lives of Scottish Poets, suggests that from Montgomerie's

poem, entitled `The Navigation,' he appears
to have been of Scottish extraction, but born
in Germany. In the title to his works, he is
called `Captain Alexander Montgomery'....
He flourished in the reign of James VI., and
enjoyed a pension from that monarch, with
whom he was evidently, at one time, a great

Stevenson gives further details (Appendix D 300-3 5) about Montgomerie's life and relations to James, who addressed Montgomerie `as "Belovit Sandirs, maister of oure airst" (253).(12) The fact that Montgomerie was a member of the Stewart clan no doubt furthered his position at James's court(13) though by 1585 the Kirk's `move to "cleanse" the King's presence of "undesirable Catholic influences"(14) led to Montgomerie's estrangement from James, Montgomerie having probably become a Catholic, according to Lindsay, on a trip to Spain prior to 1579.

This information provides a context for reading the mysterious line from `The Flyting of Montgomerie and Polwart'. James's reference to Montgomerie as `Belovit Sandirs' and Polwart's deprecating reference to him as `swamp sandie' would suggest that the word `Sandirs', probably a variant of `sandie', means either a `country men' or a `yoke!'. SND lists these (along with the interesting possibility of it meaning `the devil, Satan'; see `Sandie' 2) as possible meanings, though it is also a hypocoristic form of the proper name Alexander, most certainly appropriate in Montgomerie's case. Furthermore, the old Scottish word, `swampe', as glossed in SND and as used adjectivally in Polwart's reference to Montgomerie, has interesting connections with the English word `swamp' or `morass', a word that itself has cognates with the continental Teutonic word meaning `fungus, sponge, and hence ... [referring to] something hollow, soft and flabby' (see SND `Swamp' II).

The phrase `swampe sandie', then, lexically connects Montgomerie with his putative Germanic roots, while also impugning his Scottishness in a particularly nationalist manner: swamp sandie' perhaps means in this context a soft or hollow country man' not to mention a `soft or hollow Alexander', the invective thus being doubly insulting. Even if one applies the more contemporary meaning of swamp' as a reference to `thinness' or `Leanness` (SND I), the phrase's meaning seems to hold. If this meaning is in fact accurate, or even close to accurate, then the rest of the phrase `come fra candle, with grandie oppress' falls into place, perhaps also revealing a biographical detail of Montgomery's life hitherto unknown. `[C]ome fra candle` would refer to a trip Montgomery ma! have made to Crete, where he may have also learned the pilfered Italian proverbs from the Venetians governing Crete. `[W]ith grandie oppress would refer to Crete as the subject of a territorial dispute initiated by the Turkish `grandee' Selim II, who became sultan of Turkey in 1567. following Solyman II the Magnificent, and who had launched a campaign against the Republic of Venice for possession of the Eastern Mediterranean. Perhaps a more obsure reference (or double meaning) for the phrase `with grandie oppress' may be Montgomerie's Catholicism, which he had been converted to, as stated earlier, in Spain. The common sixteenth-and seventeenth-century English word `grandee' may refer to a `Spanish or Portuguese nobleman of the highest rank' (OED). Polwart may have intended a slur in this regard, though any such reading must remain provisional at best.

The historical connections with James, however, grow rather more interesting at this point, for James had authored `Lepanto', a narrative poem with a very Venetian and military interest, describing the decisive battle of Lepanto (Sunday 7 October 1571) in which the Turks were routed by Don John of Austria, son of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. In the poem, James refers to `Venier' (line 206), who was `Sebastian Veniero, the Venetian governor of Candia', and who `led the Venetian contingent which fought at Lepanto'.(15) Evidence suggests that James had read Pietro Bizari's Cyprium Bellum inter Venetos et Selymum Turcarum Imperatorem Gestum (Basle, 1573) and used it as a source for his account of Lepanto. Thus, placing this information in the context of earlier comments on the unglossed line from `The Flyting of Montgomerie and Polwart', there is a modicum of historical and literary evidence to suggest how the term `Candle' came to appear in Basilicon Doron.

The approximate genealogy of the term `Candle', then, would be as follows. The Battle of Lepanto occurs in 15 71; Bizari's account of it is written shortly thereafter in 1573, an account that James uses in writing `Lepanto'. Stevenson dates `The Flyting of Montgomerie and Polwart' about the year 1582' (xxv), and suggests that it was a court amusement early in James's reign, probably prior to the period from August 1582-June 1583 in which James was prisoner of the Ruthven raiders (xxviii). Thus, by 1582, James had heard (and read) the terms `candie' or Candia' in the poetic context of `The Flyting' and in the political context of Venetian involvement in the Eastern Mediterranean. In 1584 Montgomerie had a prefatory sonnet included in James's `Essayes of a Prentise' and Craigie has dated James's writing of `Lepanto' to the `summer of 1585'.(16) Evidently, there was an ongoing poetic relationship between Montgomerie and James in the mid-1580s, an involvement that would not have been without its intertextual influences, especially if there is an obscure relation between the reference to `candle' in `The Flyting' and James's writing of `Lepanto'. Whether such a relation exists or not, it is clear that there were literary and historical precedents for James's use of the term in Basilicon Doron. From 1582 (`The Flyting') to 1585 (`Lepanto') to 1598 (Basilicon Doron) there is a clear trajectory of Venetian influence among the Scottish court and its writers.

Furthermore, James's anxious political machinations in preparation for his accession to the English throne, promoted diplomatic contact with Venice, if only to secure from a significant European political and economic power an acknowledgement of his right to the English throne. In a letter dated 4 February 1596, Sir William Keith, James's liaison with the Venetian government wrote to James from Venice detailing conversations he had had with the Duke of Venice regarding James's right of succession to the English throne `after the Quein of Inglands diffece'.(17) In November of 1596, James wrote a lengthy letter in Latin to Keith, again on the same topic.(18) Thus, in the years prior to the writing of Basilicon Doron, James actively pursued contact with the Venetian government.

Moreover, James would have been well aware of the connection between Venice and Crete, given, for example, his agreement in 1605 `that in Venetian waters every English merchantman must prove to any galleys it encountered that it was not a pirate'.(19) James also mentions Venice in MS Bodley 166, 20V, the holograph to `A Premonition', arguing that the Pope's general power to disrupt the relations between the sovereign and his subjects is allied with his specific re-glossing of a phrase from Saint Peter (Surge Petre, occide & manduca) as `goe kill & confounde the venetians'. The exact context for James's knowledge of Crete, though difficult to trace, would likely have been in its diplomatic relation to Venice, with which he would have had more direct knowledge through diplomatic circles, especially those between the Scottish court and the Venetian patriciate. A further example of such contact (besides the letters between James and Keith already cited) is to be found in MS Bodley 911, 589', from approximately four years into James's reign (c. 1571), which contains a brief diplomatic note in Italian to Venice detailing the relative poverty of the Scottish court. Thus, there are numerous examples of Venetian-Scottish diplomatic involvement in the sixteenth century, all of which may have contributed to the context for James's use of the term `Candle'. Add to this the facts that Venice was second to Paris as a supplier of books to Scotland in the period prior to 1500(20) and that a significant number of Scottish writers were influenced by Italian models,(21) and a picture emerges of significant and longstanding cross-cultural connections.

The contact between Venice and Crete was a matter of common knowledge in the Renaissance.(22) Throughout the sixteenth century, the Turkish pressures on Venetian holdings in the Mediterranean were intense, and Crete remained Venice's only stable holding till well into the seventeenth century. Thus its particular military and commercial importance, not to mention its lesser-known social importance in resolving employment problems among the poorer Venetian nobility, was undisputed and well-understood in diplomatic circles of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. James's use of the term `Candie-souldier', then, occurs within the complex context of Venetian colonization of the Mediterranean, as much as it occurs within the complex political symbolism of the advice he offers his son, Henry, in being dressed neither too carelessly, like a country clown, nor too lightly, like a Cretan soldier.

But the story of the possible meanings that accrue around the term `Candle' does not end with underdressed Cretan soldiers, there being a number of other referents that the phrase may imply. First, the Scots word `canty', meaning `lively, cheerful, pleasant, [or] merry' (SND), may be an implicit, if banal, pun at work in the phrase. Second, and much less likely, `candy' may have been understood in the context of `candyman', that is a `hawker, a ragman' (SND) SND giving an 1880 usage in which `these men [candymen] generally give a kind of toffee, called candy, in exchange for rags'. It has been impossible to determine if such a usage was current during James's reign. None the less there is a possible, if remote, relation between the association of candymen with the rag trade and the reference to a `Candie-souldier' as someone dressed over-lightly.

Finally, the context in which the word appears in Basilicon Doron may also provide a clue as to what it meant to James, though again any such derivation, it must be emphasized, is speculative. It is possible that James was using a highly obscure coterie term - idiomatic to his intimates or to the court proper - associating `Candle' with `effeminacy', the latter term appearing further on in the same passage on monarchic dressing:

For if your mince be found occupied vpon
them [clothes], it will be thought idle otherwaies,
and ye shall be accompted in the nomber
of one of these compti invenes; which will
make your spirite & judgement to be lesse
thought of. But speciallie eschewe to be
effoeminate in your cloathes, in perfuming,
preening, or suche like: and faire neuer in time
of warres to be galliardest and brauest, both in
cloathes and countenance (1. 175-7).

That the mention of effeminacy follows James's oblique reference to a line found in Ovid's Heroides IV.75 (sins procul a nobis juvenes ut femina compti or `away from me with your young men arrayed like women') would seem to indicate that the passage as a whole locates an anxiety about the significative power of clothes, particularly in revealing monarchic `nakedness' (James's first cause for the institution of clothes by God is `to hide our nakednesse and shame'),(23) or the inappropriate effeminacy of courtly dandies as opposed to `real' soldiers. Not surprisingly, James advocates the middle (or ambiguously diplomatic) road, offering the seemingly contradictory advice to `[wear] your cloathes in a carelesse, yet comelie forme: keeping in them a middle forme, inter Togatos & Paludatos; betwixt the grauitie of the one and the lightnesse of the other'.(24) In such a context, the odd semantic figure of the `Candie-souldier' becomes an appropriate emblem for the significatory ambiguities with which James ultimately clothed his political advice in Basilicon Doron.

(1) Waldegrave 1603 in James Craigie, The Basilicon Doron of King James VI, 2 vols (Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons. 1944. 1950), 1. 171-3; all subsequent references to Basilicon Doron are from this edition.

(2) Basilicon Doron. II, 257

(3) See esventer' in Le Dictionnaire de L'Ancienne Langue Francaise et de tous ses Dialectes du IXe au XVe Siecle.

(4) See Poems of Alexander Montgomerie and Other Pieces from Laing MS. No. 447, ed. George Stevenson (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1910), 350.

(5) The revised OED will amend the lacuna using the infromation from this essay.

(6) Basilikon Doron ou Present Royal de Iacques Premier, Roy d'Angleterre, Escoce & Irlande (Paris, 1603), 102.

(7) Scottish National Library MS 3855, [44.sup.r], lines 4-5.

(8) See Donald E. Queller, The Venetian Patriciate (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), 43-5; also see Jan Morris, The Venetian Empire (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), 71-91.

(9) Note than an earlier instance of the term `Candian' occurs in Thomas Nashe's The Unfortunate Traveller (1594; Stationers' Register, 27 September 1593). Nashe, in a long excursus on travel, states the following: `He is not fit to travel that cannot, with the Candians, live on serpents, make nourishing food even of poison' (The Unfortunate Traveller and Other Works. ed. J. B. Steane (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985),343).

(10) Tullibardine MS, line 776; from Stevenson, 184; also for a more extensive note on who the Polwart is in the poem see The Poems of Alexander Hume (?1557-1609), ed. Alexander Lawson (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1902), 202-4.

(11) Corporately authored by the Society of Ancient Scots, 3 vols (London: Thomas Boys, 1822), I, 90.

(12) For further information on the Humes of Polwarth, see Julian Margaret Maitland Warrender, Marchmont and the Humes of Polwarth (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1894).

(13) For further information on Montgomerie's genealogy, see Stevenson, 249-61.

(14) Maurice Lindsay, History of Scottish Literature (London: Robert Hale, 1992), 95.

(15) The Poems of James VI of Scotland, ed. James Craigie, 2 vols (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1955). I, 327.

(16) The Poems, xlviii.

(17) See J. Maidment (ed.), Letters and State Papers During the Reign of King James the Sixth (Edinburgh Printing Company, 1838), 10.

(18) See Maidment, 20-3.

(19) Alberto Tenenti, Piracy and the Decline of Venice 1580-1615 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), 72.

(20) See R.D.S. Jack, The Italian Influence on Scottish Literature (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1972), 4.

(21) See R. D. S. Jack, James VI and the First Renaissance', Scottish Literature's Debt to Italy (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1986). 4-21.

(22) For example, Mario Gallina, in discussing the fourteenth-century context of Crete, states `La geografia dei commerci candioti, mentre conferma quanto gia noto circa la funzione intermediaria svolta dall'isola nei traffici con Venezia e a lunge distanza, illustra con chiarezza anche la crescente importanza assunta da Creta quale centro di scambi nell'area del Mediterraneo orientale': Una societa coloniale del trecento: Creta fra Venezia (Venezia: Deputazione Editrice, 1989), 125.

(23) Basilicon Doron. I, 173.

(24) Ibid.