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Renaissance social history, Catherine des Roches, humanism


Catherine des Roches has long been familiar to Renaissance social historians for the incongruous flea that alighted one day on her bosom as she was conversing with the humanist lawyer Estienne Pasquier. Pasquier, who was beginning to run out of propos, as he tells his correspondent Pierre Pithou, nimbly seized upon this unexpected diversion, suggesting that he and des Roches immortalize the event in a contest of versified wit. The habitués of the salon of the Dames des Roches soon joined the gallant exchange and produced a collection of ninety-three folios entitles La Puce de Madame des Roches (1582).