Like everyone else at court in France in the mid-1500s, the issue of religion affected court poets.
The rhétoriqueurs were poets who combined stilted language with a fondness for the allegorical manner of the 15th century and the most complicated and artificial forms of the ballade and the rondeau. Their work has not lasted.
The grands rhetoriqueurs of Anne of Brittany’s era continued to evolve during the French Renaissance. They eventually morphed into official court poets. Jean Marot, the father of Clément, was a poet in the court of Anne de Bretagne. He sent his son to the Université de Paris and then taught him the intricacies of poetic forms.
Clément entered Marguerite, Queen of Navarre’s service. When his father died, he became valet de chambre to Francis I. He held this post, except during his exile (1534–36), until 1542. Nonetheless, in 1526 Marot defied Lenten regulations and went to prison for a short time suspected of Lutheranism.
He abandoned the rhétoriqueurs for a classical style for which he became famous. Imitating antiquity, he introduced the elegy, the eclogue, the epigram, etc. By 1530, his poems enjoyed a wide circulation. His fame was firmly established. In 1534, the Affaire des Placards (1534), aroused fury when hotheads posted placards attacking the Mass in cities and on the king’s bedchamber door. When the issue of religion affected court poets, Marot fled to Navarre, where Marguerite protected him.