Childhood and adolescence
Baptism and godparents
The historian Auguste Jal discovered the baptism of the (then) supposed Gascon in the 1860s:
Finally, after long exertion, I knew that Abel Cyrano had left the neighbourhood of Saint-Eustache for that of Saint-Sauveur, and that Espérance Bellanger had given birth in this new dwelling to a boy whose baptismal record is as follows: "The sixth of March one thousand six hundred and nineteen, Savinien, son of Abel de Cyrano, squire, Lord of Mauvières, and of the lady Espérance Bellenger (sic), the godfather, nobleman Antoine Fanny, King's Counsellor and Auditor in his Court of Finances, of this parish, the godmother the lady Marie Fédeau (sic), wife of nobleman Master Louis Perrot, Counsellor and Secretary to the King, Household and Crown of France, of the parish of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois". This son of Abel de Cyrano who was not given the name of his godfather, Antoine, because he had a brother of that name, born in 1616, but was named Savinien in memory of his grandfather, who could doubt that this was the Savinien Cyrano who was born, according to the biographers, at the chateau of Bergerac in or around 1620?
Thus Espérance Bellanger was thirty-three years old, Abel de Cyrano around fifty-two.
The surname Fanny appears nowhere in the very complete study of La Chambre des comptes de Paris ("Court of Finances of Paris") published by Count H. Coustant d'Yanville in 1875 (or for that matter in any other French document of the 17th century). In 1898, Viscount Oscar de Poli suggested that it must have been a transcription error and proposed reading it as Lamy. An Antoine Lamy had actually been accepted as an auditor of finances on 2 September 1602, a year before Pierre de Maupeou, Espérance Bellanger's cousin and son-in-law of Denis Feydeau who was a witness to the marriage of Savinien's parents in 1612. His wife, Catherine Vigor, associate of Vincent de Paul, would become President of the Confrérie de la Charité de Gentilly ("Charitable Fellowship of Gentilly") where the couple set up a mission in 1634. She could well be the godmother of Catherine de Cyrano.
Marie Feydeau, cosponsor with Antoine Lamy, was the sister of Denis and Antoine Feydeau and the wife of Louis (or Loys) Perrot (15??-1625), who, apart from his titles of "King's Counsellor and Secretary", also had that of "King's Interpreter of Foreign Languages".
Mauvières and Bergerac
In 1622, Abel de Cyrano left Paris with his family and went to settle on his lands at Mauvières and Bergerac in the Vallée de Chevreuse, which had come to him in part after the death of his mother in 1616.
His possessions, situated on the banks of the Yvette River in the parish of Saint-Forget, had been purchased by Savinien I de Cyrano forty years earlier from Thomas de Fortboys, who had bought them himself in 1576 from Lord Dauphin de Bergerac (or Bergerat), whose ancestors had possessed them for more than a century.
When Savinien I de Cyrano acquired it, the domain of Mauvières consisted of "a habitable mansion...with a lower room, a cellar beneath, kitchen, pantry, an upper chamber, granaries, stables, barn, portal, all roofed with tiles, with courtyard, walled dovecote; mill, enclosed plot, garden and fishpond, the right of middle and low justice...".
The estate of Bergerac, which adjoined Mauvières, "comprised a house with portal, courtyard, barn, hovel and garden, being an acre or thereabouts, plus forty-six and a half acres, of which thirty-six and a half were farmland and ten woodland, with the rights of middle and low justice".
It was in this rustic setting that the child grew up and in the neighbouring parish he learnt to read and write. His friend Le Bret recalls:
The education that we had together with a good country priest who took in boarders, made us friends from our most tender youth, and I remember the aversion he had from that time for one who seemed to him a shadow of Sidias, because, in the thoughts which that man could somewhat grasp, he believed him incapable of teaching him anything; so that he paid so little attention to his lessons and his corrections that his father, who was a fine old gentleman, fairly unconcerned for his children's education and overly credulous of this one's complaints, removed him [from the school] a little too suddenly and, without considering if his son would be better off elsewhere, he sent him to that city [Paris] where he left him, until the age of nineteen years, to his own devices.
It is unknown at what age Savinien arrived in Paris. He may have been accommodated by his uncle Samuel de Cyrano in a large family residence in the Rue des Prouvaires, where his parents had lived up until 1618. In this theory, it was there that he was introduced to his cousin Pierre, with whom, according to Le Bret, he would build a lasting friendship.
He continued his secondary studies at an academy which remains unknown. It has long been maintained that he attended the Collège de Beauvais where the action of the comedy Le pédant joué takes place and whose principal, Jean Grangier would inspire the character of Granger, the pedant of Le pédant joué, but his presence in June 1641 as a student of rhetoric at the Collège de Lisieux (see below), has encouraged more recent historians to revise that opinion.
In 1636, his father sold Mauvières and Bergerac to Antoine Balestrier, Lord of Arbalestre, and returned to Paris to live with his family in "a modest dwelling at the top of the great Rue du Faubourg Saint-Jacques close to the Crossing" (parish of Saint-Jacques and Saint-Philippe), a short distance from the Collège de Lisieux. But there is no certainty that Savinien went to live with them.
A slippery slope
Le Bret continues his story:
That age when nature is most easily corrupted, and that great liberty he had to only do that which seemed good to him, brought him to a dangerous weakness (penchant), which I dare say I stopped...
Historians and biographers do not agree on this penchant which threatened to corrupt Cyrano's nature. As an example of the romantic imagination of some biographers, Frédéric Lachèvre wrote:
Against an embittered and discontented father, Cyrano promptly forgot the way to his father's house. Soon he was counted among the gluttons and hearty drinkers of the best inns, with them he gave himself up to jokes of questionable taste, usually following prolonged libations...He also picked up the deplorable habit of gambling. This kind of life could not continue indefinitely, especially since Abel de Cyrano had become completely deaf to his son's repeated requests for funds.
Forty years later, two editors added to the realism and local colour:
Since nothing binds Cyrano to the humble lodgings of the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Jacques to which the uncertainties of fate condemned his family, he gives himself over entirely to Paris, to its streets and, according to the words of one of his close friends, "to its warts" (à ses verrues). He drinks, diligently frequents the Rue Glatigny, called Val d'amour, because of the women who sell pleasure there, gambles, roams the sleeping city to frighten the bourgeois or forge signs, provokes the watch, gets into debt and links himself with that literary Bohemia which centered around Tristan L'Hermite and Saint-Amant and cultivated the memory of Théophile and his impious lyricism.
In his voluminous biography of Charles Coypeau d'Assoucy, Jean-Luc Hennig suggests that the poet-musician had begun around 1636 (at thirty-one) a homosexual relationship with Cyrano, then seventeen. In support of this hypothesis, he notes that both had families from Sens, a lawyer father and religious brothers and sisters, that the elder only liked youths and in regard to the women of Montpellier who accused him in 1656 of neglecting them, he wrote that "all of that has no more foundation than their fanciful imagination, already concerned, which had taught them the long-time habits [that he] had had with C[hapelle], late D[e] B[ergerac] and late C."
Cyrano's homosexuality, was first explicitly hypothesised by Jacques Prévot in 1978,.