The recovery of two notarial documents prepared in Ferrara on behalf of Josquin Desprez soon after his arrival in that city in the spring of 1503 demonstrates his intentions at that time to obtain the provosty of Notre Dame of Condéé and reveals the complicated exchange of benefices that brought about that result. The documents name Loyset Compèère and Pierre Duwez as respondents to Desprez in a quadrangular exchange of positions. In this transaction Josquin appointed the dean of the chapter of Condéé to resign the benefice he held in the collegiate church of Saint-Quentin. Since this was a position over which the King of France enjoyed full legal rights of collation, Josquin ordered the position to be surrendered to that monarch or his confessor, rather than to the pope. Accordingly these documents provide a very strong indication that Louis XII of France was the composer's patron before he came to Ferrara and that the king approved of this benefice exchange.
In light of these implications, aspects of the composer's career before and after his Ferrarese service are reconsidered, including occasions on which he composed works for patrons in the French and imperial networks, such as Margaret of Austria, and his collaboration with the poet Jean Lemaire de Belges. Repertoire from Josquin's year in Ferrara is discussed, along with the Hercules Mass. Sections of his setting of the psalm Miserere mei deus are commented on, in connection both to a Biblical passage concordant with a verse of the psalm and to remarks by the theorist Glareanus. The expressive qualities of the Miserere are related to the devotional and ceremonial of duke Ercole, especially in the context of the outbreak of the plague in Ferrara.
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