Online Froissart


Finding your way around the material on the website

The material is essentially organised around the manuscripts of Books I-IV of Froissart’s Chroniques. Full, partial and sample transcriptions of all the known manuscripts of Books I-III and partial transcriptions of some Book IV manuscripts are accessible from the Manuscript Transcriptions link on the left-hand pane under Navigate. Clicking on that link will take you to a page from which you can select manuscripts from the ‘add witness...’ drop-down box at the top right.

To ascertain which parts of the Chroniques are contained in the manuscripts, please check the Contents of the Resource page under About The Edition. There you can see which Books of the Chroniques are to be found in each manuscript, which particular version is contained in each manuscript, and how much of the manuscript has been transcribed so far.

To help users find particular episodes from Books I-IV of the Chroniques, Chapter summaries are provided under Navigate. These chapter summaries provide users with short descriptions of sequences of text equivalent to the chapters from the SHF edition; where there is a complete or sample transcription available in a given manuscript, you can click on a link to select it. Once you’ve opened the text, you can add other witnesses in the usual way. If a chapter is only sampled in a particular transcription, it often means that only the incipit has been transcribed.

Digital reproductions of several of the manuscripts can be viewed alongside their transcriptions. There are also full-colour facsimiles of other Froissart images available on external sites. Links to these internal and external facsimiles can be found on the Manuscript Facsimiles page under Navigate. For more ways to view the digital reproductions, see below under Viewing manuscript images.

Annotations relating to persons and places mentioned in the text, plus footnotes to the transcriptions and translations, can be accessed via clickable links in the transcriptions and translations. Alternatively, a full name index can also be accessed under Apparatus.

Other materials available under Apparatus include some codicological descriptions, a selection of essays covering different aspects of Froissart’s Chroniques, their manuscripts and the historical background, a glossary by Peter Ainsworth and Keira Borrill of key Middle French lexical items based on Ainsworth’s edition of Besançon ms. 865, fol. 201-274, and a bibliography of materials used on the site.

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Navigating the transcriptions

The transcriptions and translations can be navigated in different ways. You can simply browse the text by clicking the “Previous” and “Next” links at the top left-hand corner of the screen. This takes you to the next unit of text. You can choose to browse by page (the default setting), by SHF chapter (see below, under Finding particular chapters), or by manuscript chapter (meaning a section of text signalled by the presence of a rubric or large initial). The unit for display can be changed by clicking the “Preferences” link at the top right-hand corner of the text screen.

Browsing by page (or by chapter) is fine for navigating to adjacent parts of the text; to navigate to completely different parts of the manuscript, in contrast, you should use the “Navigate” link at the top right-hand corner of the text screen. This allows you to select the unit (as a radio button) and then the folio number (or chapter number) chosen from a drop-down list. If the manuscript you are viewing has been edited in a printed edition, you can also use the page numbers of that edition to navigate the electronic transcription (these manuscripts are indicated by a ‘[p]’ in the drop-down list). Once you have made the right selection, you should click on the “Go” button, which will change the displayed text to correspond to the selected location inside the manuscript.

There is a third, less obvious, way of navigating the transcriptions. When you are viewing two or more transcriptions (or a transcription and a translation), you may want to synchronise them. You do this by clicking on one of the reference markers (blue boxes displaying the sigil ‘SHF’, ‘OFP’ or ‘GCF’ followed by a numerical combination). Once the displayed texts are synchronised, you will see the status message ‘Synchronised by SHF’ in the top right-hand corner of the screen. Next to it, the preceding, current and following SHF references are shown (the latter and the former as clickable links). You will now be able to browse the synchronised texts by clicking on the references to these adjacent SHF chapters. The two other modes of navigation will be disabled as long as the transcriptions are synchronised. If you want to use them again (for example because you want to jump to a different section of the manuscript) you will need to click ‘Unsync’. You can then navigate in one of the transcriptions and synchronise again by clicking on the blue reference markers.

Note that synchronising transcriptions or transcription and translation will only really work if the texts contain parallel chapters. If one of the viewed texts does not contain the reference marker on which you are synchronising, you will simply be shown the start of that text. Other effects of synchronising will still be the same (all the texts that have the parallel chapters will be synchronised; the transcription view will change to 'edition' view rather than ‘facsimile’ view; navigating by folio number or manuscript chapter will be disabled).

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Viewing manuscript images alongside their transcriptions

Reproductions of some of the manuscripts can be viewed alongside their transcriptions. Click on Manuscript Transcriptions under Navigate, using the ‘add witness...’ drop-down box located in the top right-hand corner of the screen to select the manuscript you wish to view. Manuscripts for which images are available have an ‘[i]’ after the short manuscript reference in the ‘add witness...’ drop-down menu list.

When you have the transcription open, click on “Show Page Image” at the top right-hand corner of the screen. This opens an image of the manuscript folio within the current browser window, aligned with the transcription. You can go back to a ‘transcription only’ view by clicking on “Text”, or limit your view to the image of the manuscript folio by clicking on “Image Only”. From the “Image Only” view you can go back to the transcription view by selecting “Show Only Text”.

Should you wish to view the image at a higher resolution, click on “Launch Virtual Vellum viewer” at the top of the image screen. Virtual Vellum allows you to manipulate the image, measure details using the rulers, pan, or zoom in and out. To use Virtual Vellum you will need to have the Java Runtime library pre-installed on your computer.

Virtual Vellum automatically loads the image displayed within the browser window; once Virtual Vellum is open you can access all the other images for the same manuscript, and indeed all the images from all other currently available high-resolution manuscript facsimiles as well (use the drop-down menu called “Window” and select “Double Window” or “New Window”, then select a new folio or manuscript). You can also cascade the images, or tile them vertically/horizontally.

Loading images into Virtual Vellum takes longer than loading them into the browser window. This is because the Virtual Vellum images are provided at a much higher resolution (up to 500 DPI) than the internal ones, and consequently have a much larger file size. The speed at which they load also depends in part on the speed of your internet connection.

Only manuscript pages that have text can be viewed in the browser window. Some images (typically of bindings and endleaves) are only available when you use the Virtual Vellum external viewer. For additional guidance on using Virtual Vellum, please see below under Using Virtual Vellum.

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Viewing manuscript images without their transcriptions

A thumbnail viewer accessed under Navigate via Manuscript Facsimiles allows you to view digital images of manuscript folios (including miniatures and other decorative features) without the accompanying textual transcription. From here you can also Launch Virtual Vellum to view the images in high resolution.

When you are viewing the low-resolution images in your browser, you can then click on “Launch Virtual Vellum” to explore the folio image at higher resolution and use the tools provided with the Virtual Vellum viewer. For more information on using the Virtual Vellum manuscript viewer, see below under Using Virtual Vellum.

If you are particularly interested in illustration, you should use the thumbnail viewer containing only the miniatures currently reproduced as part of the Online Froissart; these can be accessed through the Miniatures page under Navigate.

The Codicological Descriptions under Apparatus include commentaries on the miniatures. These are also available separately via the Miniature Commentaries under Apparatus, where they are accompanied by reproductions of the miniatures and by clickable hyperlinks to the full facsimile via the folio numbers for the manuscripts for which electronic facsimiles are available.

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Using Virtual Vellum

In order to explore the folio images at higher resolution you should use our dedicated manuscript viewer, Virtual Vellum. Virtual Vellum is a platform-independent image viewer implemented in Java that has a number of tools specifically designed for viewing manuscript facsimiles. The Java Runtime library needs to be installed on your machine before you can use Virtual Vellum.

There are different ways of launching Virtual Vellum, explained above under Viewing manuscript images without their transcriptions. Launching Virtual Vellum will open a new browser tab on your web browser, which will then launch the Virtual Vellum applet. Virtual Vellum will run its own window and interface, but closing the browser tab or browser window from where it is launched will also close the Virtual Vellum viewer itself.

The list of manuscripts for which high-resolution facsimiles are available can be found in the top left-hand corner of the Virtual Vellum screen. Next to it, the thumbnail bar, at the top, shows you all the pages for the currently selected manuscript. The thumbnail bar allows you to select a folio by clicking on it, or by dragging it into the larger viewing pane below. Click on “Shrink” (top right-hand corner of the thumbnail bar) to hide the thumbnails, and on “Expand” to restore them.

Use the vertical toolbar to the left to zoom in/out, pan, or measure dimensions or smaller details.

Use the drop-down “Window” menu to select a double-pane view (to compare, for example, two images of the same folio, two different folios from the same witness, or two folios from two different witnesses). “New Window” allows you to open further viewing panes. You can align the panes vertically or horizontally by using the same drop-down menu.

If you are particularly interested in illustration, you can restrict the view to pages containing miniatures by browsing down in the list of manuscripts (in the top left-hand corner of the Virtual Vellum window) until you reach the entry ‘Illuminated folios only’. Expanding this entry by clicking on the ‘+’ sign, will list, for each of the manuscripts, only the illustrated pages.

When attempting to run the Virtual Vellum applet you may see a warning that it is an ‘unsigned’ applet from an ‘unknown’ publisher. In order to run Virtual Vellum you may need to tick the box to accept this and run the applet. This situation is the result of some recent changes to the security model for Java applets, imposed by Oracle who own Java. As an academic project, we are currently unable to pay the ongoing fees required to buy a ‘trusted’ digital certificate and remove this message. Please be assured, however, that Virtual Vellum works in exactly the same way that it always has.

If Virtual Vellum fails to load at all, you may need to install a newer version of Java. The version that is recommended for using Virtual Vellum is Java version 7, update 45. If you have a more recent version of Java installed you may need to lower the Java security setting to 'Medium' to avoid your browser preventing Virtual Vellum to run.

Oracle have provided a guide to enabling Java in various browsers:

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Reading the translation

The partial translations of Books I-III are accessible in the same way as the transcriptions. To access the translation, go to the Manuscript Transcriptions page and, from the ‘add witness…’ drop-down box at the top right, select “Translation of Book I (II or III)”. The translation is based on the Besançon mss 864-865 text; folio references refer to the transcriptions of those manuscripts. Alternatively, under Navigate select English Translations (ToC).

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Finding particular chapters

The distribution of the different Books of the Chroniques over separate volumes, and the division of the text into chapters, varies from manuscript to manuscript. To help users find the same section in different manuscripts, the Online Froissart has imposed a canonical reference system on the text of the Chroniques based on the section numbers found in the edition of Books I-III published by the Société de l’Histoire de France, with a small number of additions and corrections. For Book IV, whose edition by the Société de l’Histoire de France has not yet appeared, we have devised a similar reference system.

These references, referred to in the Online Froissart as ‘SHF chapters’ (or ‘OFP chapters’ for Book IV), consist of two parts, separated by a hyphen. The first is a number referring to the relevant Book of the Chroniques (here in arabic: 1, 2, 3 or 4), optionally followed by one or two letters to indicate a particular authorial or scribal version of that Book (‘A’, ‘Am’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘M’, ‘N’, ‘R’, ‘RT’, ‘T’, ‘V’). After the hyphen comes the chapter number (indicated by the § sign in the printed Société de l’Histoire de France edition). In some cases the numbering in the printed edition is ambiguous, so ‘bis’ has had to be added to disambiguate sections which have accidentally received the same number in the Société de l’Histoire de France edition. Sections of text which don’t appear in the standard version edited by the Société de l’Histoire de France have also been assigned ‘bis’ or ‘ter’ numbers.

If you know which SHF chapter you want to read, you should first check the Contents of the Resource page to see which manuscripts contain the Book of the Chroniques you are interested in. Unless the chapter is amongst those that are part of the sample transcribed for each witness (see How the Material was Selected), you will find the chapter you are looking for only in the completely transcribed manuscripts, and possibly also in the partially transcribed ones, but probably not in the ones which have only been sampled. The thematic chapter summaries will take you to particular episodes and provide you with information as to whether a particular transcription contains it or not.

If you are using the Online Froissart alongside a printed edition of the Chronicles and want to find a particular passage in the manuscript used for the edition, then you can use the facility to navigate by printed edition page. Only editions which closely edit particular manuscripts are included. You choose an edition from a drop-down list and then a particular page in that edition also from a drop-down list. This will provide you with a hyperlink to a manuscript page. Sometimes you will see more than one hyperlink. This is the case when on that particular page of the edition, text from more than one manuscript is given, typically in the variants section of the SHF edition, or because on that edition page the editor changes from one base manuscript to another.

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Comparing sections

When you have selected a manuscript from the Manuscript Transcriptions page, you can check which chapters have been transcribed for that particular witness. To do this, click on “Navigate” at the top right-hand corner of the window, select the “SHF chapter” radio button to the left of the window, and inspect the drop-down list. This list will only contain chapter references actually found in the transcription.

Once you have a transcription displayed, you can add more transcriptions (or translations); up to a maximum of four transcriptions can be compared at any one time. You can then either simply browse or use the “Navigate” link in one of the manuscripts to find the SHF chapter you are interested in. When you click on the “sync” link displayed in the blue box which shows the SHF chapter reference in the transcription, all other transcriptions that are open will be synchronised to that chapter (but only, of course, if they contain the chapter in question). When transcriptions are synchronised, the view will change to “edition” view and the ways in which you can navigate the transcriptions will change (see above under Navigating the transcriptions).

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Collating transcriptions

The Online Froissart not only allows you to align the same chapters across different manuscripts, it also contains a powerful mechanism for word-by-word comparisons. This is done either in the “Collate” viewing mode, which displays the transcriptions horizontally but stacked vertically one above the other, or in the “Synchronised by word” viewing mode, which is based on the “Edition” viewing mode; in “Synchronised by word” viewing mode, collatable words become hyperlinks on which all the currently viewed transcriptions can be synchronised.

Manuscripts for which collation data is available display a ‘[c]’ next to the short manuscript reference in the drop-down list. Collation data is only available at present for less than half of the text of Books 1-3; it is not yet available for Book 4. Selecting manuscripts or chapters which do not contain text covered by the collation data will result in the display of an empty line in “Collate” mode.

While the collating mechanism in the Online Froissart is a powerful tool for analysing the textual data available on the site, you will probably need to learn how to operate the interface in order to use this tool effectively. The main difficulty in using the collating tools is that the way in which the transcriptions can be navigated changes when the collation data is being used. In effect, you will no longer have access to the normal method of navigating the transcriptions.

Before attempting to do a word-by-word collation of a particular passage, it is always best to familiarise yourself with the passages and manuscript witnesses you want to analyse, to ascertain that the text has indeed survived in these witnesses and has been transcribed, and also that collation data, which is needed to carry out the collation, is available.

When ready to start the collation, it is most convenient if you select as first witness a manuscript that has a complete text of all the passages you are interested in, and open that manuscript as the first witness, so that it is visible in the pane on the left. You can then click on the “Collate” link at the top right. You will be presented with a tabular view showing you a single line of text, normally the beginning of the manuscript, or the first chapter which appears in this witness for which collation information is available. You can now navigate inside this chapter one word or a few words at a time by clicking on adjacent words. Alternatively, you can use the drop-down list of chapters to navigate to another section or sections of the manuscript.

Next, you can add further witnesses by selecting them from the “add witness” drop-down list. These new witnesses will be synchronised at word level with the manuscripts already displayed. If no text is displayed, it means that the transcription does not contain the same text: either the section is absent in this witness, or it is present but exists in a different textual version that is not directly collatable.

You can add as many witnesses as you want. It is even possible to add the same witness more than once, if that is found to be useful. The order of the witnesses can be rearranged by clicking on the “Top” and “Up” links to the left. “Top” will rearrange the witnesses so that the particular witness will appear on the first line. Clicking “Up” will shift the witness up a line, making it effectively swap places with the witness previously displayed just above it.

You can navigate these collated transcriptions by clicking on particular words, which will refresh the collation and centre it around the selected word. You can also jump to other parts of the text by using the drop-down list of SHF chapters, but please be aware that the list of SHF chapter numbers available on that selection list is based on the collatable chapters in the manuscript that is currently displayed at the top.

You can also view the collated transcriptions in a viewing mode that is closer to the normal browsing view by clicking on “Browse” when in the “Collate” view. When you switch to “Browse” mode from “Collate” mode, the texts will be shown in vertically-aligned window sections, but the transcriptions will now be synchronised. This is signalled by the message “Synchronised by word” followed by a number in the top right-hand corner. Synchronised words are shown as blue hyperlinks. Clicking on any such hyperlinked word will highlight it with a yellow box, at the same time highlighting the occurrences of the equivalent word in all the other transcriptions currently displayed.

When you switch to “Browse” mode from “Collate” viewing mode, only the first four witnesses will be displayed. The others will be remembered, and switching back to “Collate” will trigger the display of these other witnesses once again, in the same order as before.

In the “Synchronised browsing mode”, users have no access to the “Navigate” link. To navigate to other sections of the text, you should preferably switch back to the “Collate” viewing mode and select the required chapter from the drop-down list. Alternatively, clicking on the “Unsync” button while in the “Browse” mode will make the browsing mode revert to “Standard”, and provide access to the “Navigate” link. However, if, after having navigated to a different section, you click “Collate” again, the text would be aligned on the first chapter for which collation data is available. To avoid this, you should, after having reached the desired location in the text, click on the “Settings” link in the top right-hand corner of the screen, where you should choose “Synchronise by word”. Then, you should click on a word near the start of the section you want to analyse, which will cause all other transcriptions to be synchronised to that word.

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If you have questions about or comments or feedback on the Online Froissart, or if you want to be involved in the project, you can contact us by e-mail : or

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