Online Froissart

Rouen, Bibliothèque Municipale, ms. U 28 (1147)

Godfried Croenen

An incomplete manuscript of Jean Froissart, Chronicles, Book II, ca. 1410–1420, currently bound together with a large fragment of a manuscript of the Grandes Chroniques de France dating from the same period, containing the text from the reign of Saint Louis to the coronation of King Charles VI.

Contents:

  • fol. 209r–379v: Jean Froissart, Chronicles, incomplete text of Book II,1 corresponding to § 40–409 of the Société de l’Histoire de France edition, with several instances of textual loss because of damage to the manuscript, 2 , inc. : "Les premiers messaiges", expl. : "et aux barons d’Escoce l’entencion."
  • Physical description:

    Parchment of good quality with small repairs, currently quite wrinkled, possibly as a result of the tight eigteenth-century binding. Parchment sewn on fol. 210, 228, 243, 248, 279, 325, 367 and 374; patches on fol. 240, 251, 253, 259–260, 262, 264–265, 282, 284, 286, 291, 294, 302, 325, 335, 344, 361–363, 371, 376 and 378 (patch lost); small holes in the parchment on fol. 212, 277, 289, 304, 309, 325, 355, 365 and 368; edge of sheet visible on fol. 313, 339 and 374. Apart from the three miniatures that have been removed on fol. 277v, 326v and 357v, further rectangular pieces of parchment have been cut, mostly from the bottom margin but also from the outer margin, presumably for use by a binder or maybe because these pages contained inscriptions which a later owner wanted to remove. Such strips of parchment have been removed from fol. 227, 230, 247–248, 282, 316–317, 324, 340 and 378. The manuscript in its current state contains 171 folios. Pages measure 373 mm by 277 mm. Fold-overs on fol. 272 and 376 show that the binder trimmed 6 mm from the bottom of the page and 10 mm from the outer margin. Written space measures 250 mm by 185 mm. Modern foliation of the whole volume, late eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century, in black ink. Collation: currently 22 quires (with probably two quires missing at the start and five at the end)3, 18-2 (4–5 missing), 2–88, 98-1 (3 removed), 10–218, 228-2 (1–8 missing).4 Catchwords in the lower right-hand corner of the last page of each quire, written by the scribe. No quire signatures visible, unless the sequences of letters at the bottom of the opening pages of quires 20 and 21 are to be interpreted as signatures (fol. 364r: "aaa"; fol. 372r: "dd"). Secundo folio (fol. 2r, of whole volume): "par force le chastel"; (fol. 216r, of the Froissart fragment): "Nous retournerons".

    Layout:

    Ruled in leadpoint for 2 columns of 42 lines (written below top line). Prickings for vertical ruling in the lower margin still visible; the other prickings trimmed by the binder.

    Scribal Hands:

    Copied by three fifteenth-century hands in cursiva libraria. The scribes wrote both text and rubrics.

    The first scribe has written the first two quires, continuing into quire 3, of which he has completed the first page only (fol. 215r–229r). It can be assumed that this scribe also wrote the first two lost quires.5 This scribe is found elsewhere in several of the manuscripts produced for the libraire Pierre de Liffol, and has been labelled Scribe A.

    The second scribe has copied the rest of the third quire and then continued until the end of quire 10 (fol. 229v–291v). This scribe is also known from other Pierre de Liffol manuscripts and has been labelled scribe E.

    The third scribe starts with quire 11 and continues until the end fol. 292r–379r and 209r–214v.

    Decoration:

    The manuscript originally contained at least three one-column miniatures, which have been cut out (fol. 277v, 326v and 357v). The first two quires, which have been lost, probably contained a further two small miniatures, similar to those found in Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. fr. 2676 and Stonyhurst, MS 1, as well as a large frontispiece, probably a four-part opening miniature such as can be found in Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. fr. 2676, a manuscript ostensibly copied from either the Rouen manuscript or a twin manuscript very similar to it. The hypothetical presence of these miniatures would account for the difference between the number of folios presumably lost (16, assuming two regular quires of eight folios) and the number of folios (14) which the corresponding text, i.e. the beginning of book II, takes up in the Besançon and Stonyhurst manuscripts, both of which were also produced for the libraire Pierre de Liffol and use exactly the same layout.6 There may also have been miniatures on the other folios that were lost, in particular on the inner bifolium of the first surviving quire (the bifolium lost between fol. 217 and fol. 218), as the missing text there would seem to be slightly too short to correspond to the number of pages lost, even though MS Paris 2676 does not have a miniature in this passage.7 It is quite likely that all these miniatures were painted by the Giac Master, who illustrated the majority of the surviving Liffol codices. An indication for this is to be found in the instructions to the illuminator found on fol. 277v and 326v, which are written by the same hand that also wrote instructions for the miniatures by the Giac Master in other manuscripts, such as those found in Stonyhurst, MS 1. Manuscript chapters are indicated by rubrics in red, followed by two-line coloured pen-flourished initials, alternating blue and gold, with penwork respectively in red and black. Further divisions of the text are indicated by the same type of initial and by simple coloured paraphs, alternating between blue and red. Initials following the miniatures occupy six lines and are pen-flourished puzzle initials accompanied by pen-flourished decorated J-lists.
  • fol. 277v: miniature removed. The rubric above the removed miniature, and the presence of a parallel miniature in Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. fr. 2676 suggest that the subject of the miniature was the jousting duel between Nicholas Clifford and Jean Bournicel at Vannes. Golden J-list decorated with blue half fleurs-de-lis and pen-flourishing in red and black. The text starts with a six-line pen-flourished puzzle initial. Instructions to the illuminator (two or three lines) in leadpoint in the bottom margin, very faint, probably erased.
  • fol. 326v: miniature removed. The rubric above the removed miniature indicates that the miniature illustrated the battle of Beverhoutsveld near Bruges. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. fr. 2676 does not have a miniature in this passage, but two other Liffol manuscripts do (Paris, BnF, MS fr. 2664 and Besançon, MS 865). Blue J-list decorated with golden half fleurs-de-lis and pen-flourishing in red and black. The text starts with a six-line pen-flourished puzzle initial. Instructions to the illuminator (three or for lines) in leadpoint in the bottom margin, probably erased but still vaguely visible: "Soit ycy une ville ....".
  • fol. 326v: miniature removed. The miniature undoubtedly represented the battle of Westrozebeke. J-list in blue and gold with pen-flourishing in red and black. Following text starts with a six-line pen-flourished puzzle initial. Instructions to the illuminator in leadpoint in the bottom margin, erased.
  • Binding:

    Eighteenth-century binding. Modern end papers. Cardboard boards covered by brown leather. Six raised bands, tooled title on the spine between first and second band in gold lettering: "MANVSCRIPTA". Near the bottom a modern paper label with the current shelfmark: "U 28". Binding in fair condition, with the tranchefile at the top and bottom coming loose.

    History:

    The manuscript was probably produced in Paris by or for the libraire Pierre de Liffol. Evidence for this is provided by the palaeographical and codicological features of this codex, which unmistakably link it to a number of other manuscripts connected to Pierre de Liffol. The first two scribes have copied other Froissart manuscripts present in this group and the hand who wrote the instructions to the illuminator in MS U 28 is also found in other Liffol manuscripts. The measurements of the layout match those for the Besançon and Stonyhurst codices, as well as those for Paris, BnF, MSS fr. 2663–2664 and Brussels, MS IV 251.

    No information is available about the first owner or any later owners of this manuscript until the seventeenth century. Mademoiselle de la Barre, who seems to have owned this manuscript in the seventeenth century, had in her collection books that bear the coat of arms of Jean de Derval, the first documented owner of Paris, BnF, MSS fr. 2663–2664.8 It is therefore possible that MS U 28 also came from Jean de Derval, although that seems quite unlikely, unless Derval had more than one copy of Froissart’s Chronicles in his library, possibly through inheritance.9

    Omont, in his catalogue of the manuscripts in Rouen, states that MS U 28 came from the important library of the Capucin monastery of Mortagne-au-Perche, which was largely constituted through the gift, in 1675, by Mademoiselle de la Barre of a sizable collection. Although MS U 28 itself does not bear any trace of this provenance, one can assume that it too came from Mademoiselle de la Barre.10

    Around 1695, the collection was deemed too important to remain in Mortagne, and was transferred to the Capucin monastery in Rouen.11

    As a result of the French Revolution all the ecclesiastical collections in Rouen came under public ownership, and from 1791 onwards the former Benedictine François-Philippe Gourdin started to bring the various collections together.12

    Bibliography

    Séance du conseil d’administration, tenue le 6 août 1867’, Annuaire-Bulletin de la Société de l’histoire de France, 5, première partie (1867), 161–64 (here p. 164)

    George T. Diller, Attitudes chevaleresques et réalités politiques chez Froissart. Microlectures du premier livre des Chroniques, Études de philologie et d’histoire, 39 (Geneva: Droz, 1984) (listed p. 168)

    baron Kervyn de Lettenhove, ‘Introduction. Troisième partie: Description des manuscrits’, in Œuvres de Froissart publiées avec les variantes de divers manuscrits, III–III (Bruxelles: Devaux, 1873), pp. 185–461 (here p. 312–13)

    Laetitia Le Guay, Les Princes de Bourgogne lecteurs de Froissart. Les rapports entre le texte et l’image dans les manuscrits enluminés du livre IV des Chroniques ([Paris / Turnhout]: CNRS Éditions / Brepols, 1998) (listed p. 154)

    Siméon Luce, ‘Introduction au premier livre des Chroniques de J. Froissart’, in Chroniques de J. Froissart, ed. by Siméon Luce, tome premier: 1307–1340 (depuis l’avènement d’Édouard II jusqu’au siége de Tournay) (Paris: Jules Renouard, 1869), pp. I–CXXXIV (p. XXXV, listed with the sigil A37, incorrectly identified as a manuscript containing a fragment of Book I)

    Henri Omont, Catalogue général des manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France. Départements, Tome premier. Rouen (Paris: Plon, 1886), p. 286, no. 1147

    Gaston Raynaud, ‘Introduction au deuxième livre des Chroniques de J. Froissart’, in Chroniques de J. Froissart, ed. by Gaston Raynaud, tome neuvième: 1377–1380 (depuis la prise de Bergerac jusqu’à la mort de Charles V) (Paris: Renouard, 1894), pp. I–XIII (p. IX, listed with the sigil B10 and identified as belonging to the second branch of the second family of Raynaud’s ‘revised redaction’)

    F. V., ‘Découverte d’un fragment des Chroniques de Froissart à la Bibliothèque de Rouen’, Revue de la Normandie, 7 (1867), 984–85

    Notes

      1 Delisle, who first recognised this fragment as part of a Froissart manuscript in 1867, incorrectly identified the text as belonging to Book I (Annuaire-Bulletin de la Société de l’histoire de France, 5, première partie (1867), p. 164). The error was perpetuated by the author of a brief article pusblished in the same year (‘Découverte d’un fragment des Chroniques de Froissart à la Bibliothèque de Rouen) and by S. Luce in his edition of Book I of the Chronicles (Siméon Luce, ‘Introduction, p. XXXV). Both latter authors simply seem to have repeated the original error without having studied the manuscript itself. Kervyn de Lettenhove, however, in the introduction to his edition published in 1873, correctly identified the text as belonging to Book II (‘Introduction’, p. 312–13).

      2 § 40 of Froissart’s text starts on fol. 215r. The text on fol. 209r–214v contains § 396–409 and is to be read after fol. 379v. There is one leaf missing between fol. 379 and fol. 209.

      3 There is some discolouration on fol. 214v which may suggest that in a previous state this page was the final page of the manuscript, and that therefore the final quires were already lost before the current binding was made.

      4 The collation formula assumes the normal order of the quires, with the quire fol. 209–214 here numbered 22 and placed at the end, after fol. 379.

      5 An indication that it was indeed this scribe who copied the lost beginning of the text is the fact that there is a discrepancy between the number of folios presumably lost (16) and the number of folios (14) the equivalent missing text takes up in the Besançon and Stonyhurst manuscripts, both of which were also produced for the libraire Pierre de Liffol and use exactly the same layout. Scribe A’s particularly wide script takes up more space than any of the other Liffol scribes, which would explain why he would have needed two full regular quires of eight folios to copy this span of text. See also below, the comments about lost miniatures under Decoration.

      6 An additional factor to account for the difference is that the beginning of the Rouen manuscript was probably also copied by the Liffol Scribe A, whose particularly wide script normally takes up more space than would any of the other Liffol scribes.

      7 One can only speculate about the passage which would have been illustrated in this hypothetical miniature, but it is worth pointing out that in the whole corpus of miniatures illustrating Book II of Froissart’s Chronicles, there are only two illustrated scenes to be found corresponding to the text which is here missing, both of which have been illustrated in the later manuscript, Paris, Arsenal, MS 5188. The Arsenal manuscript has a miniature at the start of § 49 to illustrate the siege of Bayonne (also illustrated in London, MS Royal 14 D 4), and a miniature at the start of § 54 which shows the murder of Owen of Wales (also illustrated in London, MS Royal 18 E 1).

      8 Édouard d’Alençon, Les Capucins de Mortagne, offprint from the Bulletin de la Société historique et archéologique de l’Orne (Alençon: Renaut-de Broise, 1890), p. 11, note 1; Valérie Neveu, Catalogues régionaux des incunables des bibliothèques de France, XVII. Haute-Normandie (Geneva: Droz, 2005), p. 109–10, no. 182; and Omont, Catalogue général des manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France. Départements, Rouen, p. 263, no. 1045–46.

      9 One should note, however, that the Derval copy currently in Paris does not contain the beginning of Book II (§ 1–82 of the Société de l’Histoire de France edition), and that this may have been a reason to acquire another, more complete, copy of Book II.

      10 Omont, Catalogue général des manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France. Départements, Rouen, p. XXVIII, note 2, states that all the manuscripts donated by Mademoiselle de la Barre have an inscription to this effect, so it is possible that MS U 28 came to the Capucins through another route.

      11 d’Alençon, Les Capucins, p. 11.

      12 For details of the history of the various collections now housed in the Municipal Library in Rouen, see the excellent overview in Neveu, Catalogues régionaux des incunables des bibliothèques de France, XVII. Haute-Normandie, p. 408–439.