The Black Cross
The Black Cross is the oldest gentlemen’s club in Paris, founded in 1529 during the reign of François I. The club’s historians claim that the original members were Flemish merchants from Bruges, factors of the Hanseatic League established in Paris. The location of the actual club itself has changed several times over the years, and presently the Black Cross occupies a hôtel on the rue St Louis in the Marais, not far from the Place Royale.
The club is comfortably furnished and decorated and offers the most diverse selection of food and drink among the gentlemen’s clubs after L’Épée du Grand Henri. Gambling tables are available with a house limit of 100 £. Saucy tarts provide feminine companionship for the members.
Members of the Black Cross are most often wealthy merchants and financiers, though the club also attracts royal bureaucrats and a few robe nobles as well. The club has the largest proportion of foreign members of the gentlemen’s clubs of Paris, usually foreign speculators living in the city. The club shares reciprocal privileges with similar clubs in a number of cities, including London, Antwerp, and Venice. Members may wear a small black Latin cross fleury, the symbol of the club, on a lanyard around the neck or pinned to the doublet or cloak.
The governors of the Black Cross include five club chiefs, two treasurers, two secretaries, and several managers. Dues are 20 £ annually.