Online Froissart

Jean Froissart : Chronicler, Poet and Writer

By Peter Ainsworth
Please cite as: Peter Ainsworth, ‘Jean Froissart : Chronicler, Poet and Writer’, in The Online Froissart, ed. by Peter Ainsworth and Godfried Croenen, v. 1.5 (Sheffield: HRIOnline, 2013), http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/onlinefroissart/apparatus.jsp?type=intros&intro=f.intros.PFA-Froissart, first published in v. 1.0 (2010), updated for v. 1.5 (2013).

Born in 1337 at Valenciennes in the county of Hainault, Jean Froissart spent his childhood and adolescence there before taking ship in 1362 for England and a place at court with his compatriot Philippa of Hainault, queen of England and wife of Edward III. On arrival in England he introduced himself to queen Philippa with the gift of a chronicle in verse, only fragments of which are thought to have survived and on which the poet had been working for some half dozen years, his enthusiasm having been fired in particular by the Black Prince’s victory over John the Good of France at Poitiers in 1356.

It seems legitimate to believe Froissart’s proud assertion that he served queen Philippa in some kind of secretarial capacity and as poet-chronicler, but we have no certain evidence of his formal appointment to any identifiable office within her household.1 During the years spent in Philippa’s entourage, Froissart was presumably witness to much of the life of Edward III’s court, whether in London, at Westminster or on visits to various castles such as Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. Part of his time was devoted to the composition of chansons, ballades, virelais and rondeaux (his dittiers et traitiers amoureus), the remainder to garnering fresh information with which to augment his historical composition. We know that he had meetings with some of the French hostages held in London en prison courtoise as part of the requirements of the Treaty of Brétigny (1360), four years after the battle of Poitiers and the capture by the Black Prince of John the Good of France. These high-born prisoners were awaiting release upon payment of (quite literally) a king’s ransom. Interviews conducted with them were a prime means for the chronicler to obtain new or more fine-grained information about the Anglo-French conflict. The fresh material would before long find its way into the first prose redaction of what Froissart calls his hystoire. Book I covers events from 1307 onwards. In the so-called ‘A’ version (commissioned by and dedicated to Robert of Namur), Froissart takes his narrative forwards into the 1370s, supplementing what had been there in the verse chronicle with more original and recent eyewitness testimony collected during a series of ‘research trips’. These were presumably undertaken with Philippa’s blessing and allowed Froissart to range much further afield. They were ambitious sorties even for the fourteenth century. We read in later versions of Book I and in one of the dits of the chronicler’s journey north into Scotland to meet David Bruce and members of his court (1365), to Brussels (April 1366) where he received a gift from Jeanne de Brabant,2 then into Gloucestershire and the Welsh Marches (Autumn 1366) with Edward Despenser, whom he visited at Berkeley Castle. In 1367 we find him in Aquitaine at the court of the Black Prince in Bordeaux when the birth of the future Richard II is announced, but by July of the same year he is back in the Low Countries. Returning from a journey to Milan in 1368 for the marriage of Lionel of Clarence to Violante Visconti, Froissart learned of the death of the patroness to whom he had been most assiduously devoted, Philippa of Hainault, on 15 August 1369.

Froissart appears to have returned to his native Hainault, there to undertake for Robert of Namur, brother-in-law to Jeanne and Wenceslas of Brabant, the first prose version of Book I of the Chroniques, finished ca 1373: the ‘première rédaction proprement dite’ or ‘A’ version as Siméon Luce called it, which survives in a good forty manuscripts including Besançon BM ms. 864.

The chronicler appears to have been influenced in his personal and literary ambitions by the views of Jean le Bel, canon of Liège and author of a chronicle relating the first campaigns of the Hundred Years’ War. Le Bel had composed his own Chronique in prose, and manifestly had no time for versifiers. He levelled some astringent criticism at chroniclers who — as had often been the case over the past two hundred years — composed their historical works in verse. By the early- to mid-fourteenth century, prose was becoming recognised as the most reliable vehicle for truth-telling. Verse was more than acceptable for literary biography but no longer appropriate for recording the past with any semblance of accuracy or integrity. Verse historians, argued Le Bel, are ever prone to distorting the truth for the sake of a fine rhyme. We do not know exactly when Froissart read Le Bel’s Chronique, but it is in the Prologue to his first redaction (‘A’) that Froissart alludes to Le Bel’s warnings about verse chroniclers and their ‘grand plenté de parolles controuvées et de redictes pour embelir la rime’. To lend greater credibility to his own recital of events from 1307 to 1350, Froissart transcribed virtually word-for-word entire sections from Le Bel’s Chronique, a practice which we might today stigmatise (a little unjustly) as plagiarism, but which even in the later Middle Ages was still a way of signalling respect for an earlier authority.

As Michel Zink has observed, the years spent back in Valenciennes after 1369 were ‘une période d’intense créativité’.3 The poetic dialogue which the writer developed with duke Wenceslas, the Prison amoureuse, dates from 1372. By 1373 Froissart was already enjoying the living of Estinnes-au-Mont near Chimay in Hainault and extending his Book I narration still further, eventually finishing it anno 1378. Half a dozen manuscript copies preserve the text of this ‘B’ version, called by Siméon Luce4 the ‘première rédaction revisée’, and published by him as ‘Book I’ for the Société de l’Histoire de France. Froissart’s principal patron during this period appears to have been Wenceslas of Brabant.5 By 1376, yet another version of Book I was underway, this time (as very plausibly argued by Godfried Croenen6) at the encouragement of Enguerrand de Coucy. Finished, like the ‘B’ or ‘première rédaction révisée’ version, in 1378-9 or maybe as late as 1380, and called by Luce the ‘seconde rédaction’, this version shares some episodes with the ‘A’ and ‘B’ texts.7 But it also includes developments of which there is absolutely no trace in either. George Diller, in the Introduction to his own edition of the ‘Amiens’ redaction of Book I, has argued that a good proportion of this so-called ‘second’ redaction is in fact of earlier origin than much of the material found in the ‘first’.8 On the other hand, its final chapter is identical to that of the ‘first’ redaction in the ‘B’ text, and overlaps in part with the first chapters in some manuscripts of Book II. There is much still to be done towards determining the precise relationships between the principal prose versions of Book I. They each have their own merits and appeal. Diller’s complete edition of ‘Amiens’ for Editions Droz has made it much easier for scholars to read the text from start to finish as a narrative in its own right. Valentina Mazzei’s transcription of Besançon BM ms. 864, available via the Online Froissart, provides a complete text for the ‘A’ text, while ‘B’ can be read in Luce’s SHF edition, based on Paris BnF f fr mss 6477-79.

The first complete prose redactions of Book I cover the origins of the great dynastic conflict between the kings of England and France and their respective allies.9 This is a war of military incursions (‘chevauchées’), pillaging and sieges, punctuated by just a few pitched battles in which the victors are most often Edward III’s brilliant captains, ably supported by Welsh or Cheshire archers (Sluys in 1340, Crécy in 1346 and Poitiers in 1356).

Users of the Online Froissart can now read a complete text for the ‘A’ version of Book I in Mazzei’s transcription and collate its opening folios against the texts of ‘B’,10 ‘Amiens’, ‘Rome’ or all three . From a literary standpoint, the qualities of Froissart’s prose are best savoured via an uninterrupted reading of the narrative as it moves from one episode to the next. The Online Froissart offers readers that experience as well, alongside the more segmented, ‘vertical’ and collational approach to the multiple versions of Book I just mentioned, more likely to appeal to scholars intent upon acquiring an enhanced understanding of different treatments of the same episode across multiple witnesses.

When Froissart was finishing ‘B’ and ‘Amiens’, there was as yet no such entity as ‘Book II’. When manuscripts became too unwieldy to contain the entire Book I text in its most complete manifestation, a ‘second volume’ was needed (some manuscripts refer to as many as eight books, meaning sections). What modern editors call Book II follows on directly from the end of Book I, especially as we have it in ‘Amiens’ or in certain of the ‘B’ manuscripts. By far the major part of Book II, composed between 1378 and 1385, relates the conflict between Louis, count of Flanders and the city and weavers of Ghent. We learn too of the differences between that city and its rival, Bruges. Book II is the theatre for scrutiny of rebellion even closer to home (for the present editors at least): Froissart’s account of the Great or Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 in Essex, Kent, Staffordshire and the home counties is justly famous and can be read here in its entirety, and across several manuscript versions. Book II has an immediacy that we do not always experience in Book I. Froissart had himself witnessed many of the events he writes about here, and his impressions were both more immediate to him and of course much more recent. We know that he accompanied Guy de Blois during Charles VI’s campaign of 1382 against the Flemings. A Hainaulter, Froissart was watching events that had occurred virtually ‘next door’. Several episodes from Book II betray on his part, if not sympathy for the rebels (after all, the weavers and gildsmen of Ghent seemed to him intent on overthrowing the very foundations of society, and of orders and hierarchies pre-ordained by the Almighty), at the very least some understanding of their plight. As Froissart presents events, it is the excesses and laxity of the masters which, in part, trigger the response of the oppressed and badly governed. Book II provides the reader with a narrative of bestournement or topsy-turveydom in which nobles fail to govern, while imagination, energy and flair are the ostensible preserve of the urban middle classes of Ghent and of their leaders, especially Philip van Artevelde.

By 1385, and possibly from 1382, Froissart was enjoying the favour and patronage of Guy de Châtillon, count of Blois. Towards the end of 1388 and with Guy’s strong support, the chronicler undertook another extended journey, this time to the fabled court of Gaston Fébus, count of Foix-Béarn, at Orthez. Here Froissart hoped to conduct research into the conflict which had until recently set against each other Castile and Portugal and their respective allies (the French and English). These wars provide the prime focus for what we know as Book III (1389-91).

The manuscript tradition of Book III is almost as complex as that of Book I, and currently under review by the team responsible for the Online Froissart. In 2009 Godfried Croenen published an essay establishing the foundations for a stemma codicum covering the 24 surviving manuscripts and a handful of fragments.11 The version of Book III familiar to most readers is that published between 1931 and 1975 for the Société de l’Histoire de France by Léon and Albert Mirot. The first half of that version, based on Paris, BnF f. fr. ms. 2650, is in most respects identical to that found in other surviving witnesses from the extant Book III corpus. From approximately halfway through the overall narrative, however, ‘2650’ becomes increasingly divergent from much of the material common to the other complete witnesses we have for Book III.

The ‘2650’ version has been described as a ‘second’ recension of Book III, revised by the chronicler to reflect more faithfully the Portuguese as well as the Castilian perspective on the war in the Iberian Peninsula. Having obtained eyewitness testimony, in the first instance, from a series of Castilian, English and Anglo-Gascon informants, including and pre-eminently those whom he had met at Orthez, Froissart went on to interview a Portuguese knight and diplomat, don Fernand Pachéco. The ‘2650’ or ‘second’ redaction of Book III was presented by its SHF editors as a thoroughly revised version including material not present in the ‘first’ (represented, in theory, by all the remaining manuscripts12). This over-simplifies matters. Froissart’s account of his trip to Middelburg and his description of his meeting there with Pachéco is already found in the earlier version of Book III which, as the SHF editors themselves recognised, had itself undergone some revision. A further point is that the section of Book III dealing with the wars in Spain and Portugal is largely coterminous with the first half of the narrative in both ‘versions’ ; there are few differences of substance between them. This is not to deny that the second half of the narrative in each broad group is substantially different, or that the latter half of ‘2650’ shows signs of intensive revision ; but the divergences have to do, not so much with Castilian versus Portuguese views of the war, as with different treatments of events in other theatres (England, for example, or Armenia). It has until now been difficult to compare versions of these quite lengthy texts with any degree of ease, especially with regard to the more interesting second half of the Book III narrative. The Online Froissart provides readers of Book III with the means to compare and collate electronically chapters from ‘2650’ with their equivalents or near-equivalents as found in Besançon BM ms. 865, ff. 201-451, one of the best surviving witnesses for the so-called ‘first’ redaction. It has to be said, however, that even here we are dealing with a manuscript witness displaying symptoms of having undergone some revisions: at several points we encounter columns or parts of columns of text that have been erased and subsequently overwritten (for example column B of the folio that opens the Book III text in this manuscript, fol. 201r).

Irrespective of the differences or similarities to which we have referred, Book III (in either ‘version’) signals a major departure for the chronicler as writer. As Michel Zink has argued,

On voit alors les Chroniques combiner au temps de l’histoire un temps proprement poétique, le temps du récit et le temps de la mémoire.13
Which is to say that with Book III, we find ourselves at times reading the chronicler’s ‘memoirs’, though still intertwined with his narratives of the wars between Spain and Portugal, or of Richard II’s developing confrontation with the Commons. As Zink remarks, Froissart will write no more poetry beyond 1389; poetry is henceforward to be found above all in Froissart’s prose, and therefore in the narratives of Books III and IV. Yet by a curious paradox, the more the chronicler’s prose approximates to poetry, by dint (in particular) of its deployment of metonymical figures that are beginning to transform themselves into metaphors (references to knives, keys, bears and books that acquire an emblematic resonance), the more his critique of the society of his times seems to deepen and sharpen.

In February 1389, Froissart is present at the marriage of the duke of Berry at Riom to the extremely young Jeanne de Boulogne. On his way to Riom the chronicler stops over in Avignon where someone steals from him the money that he has recently received from Gaston Fébus. This episode contributed to the germination of Froissart’s Dit dou florin, a semi-autobiographical poem of great charm.14 After a few days spent at the castle of Crèvecœur with Enguerrand de Coucy, the chronicler makes his way to Paris in time to witness for himself the ceremonial entry of France’s new queen, Isabeau of Bavaria, bride of Charles VI, on 20 August 1389.

Sometime around 1391-92, Froissart changes patron once again. Guy de Châtillon (‘ruiné, mal conseillé, fatigué par la débauche et l’obésité’15) having sold his county of Blois to the king’s younger brother Louis of Touraine, recently created duke of Orléans, Froissart found himself with a protector on whom he could no longer truly count. What appears to have upset him most was the dereliction of aristocratic duty represented by Guy’s sale and alienation of his fief. Overwhelmed by debt, even ruined, a prince worthy of the name does not do such things: to the fief is attached the name and continuity of one’s blood and lineage. The chronicler’s later years see him associated to some extent, therefore, with patrons closer to home: Albrecht of Bavaria, count of Hainault, and his son and heir William of Ostrevant.16

In 1392, Froissart is at the French court when news arrives of the attack mounted against the constable of France, Olivier de Clisson. Several months later he is present at the peace negotiations at Leulinghem, then in 1395 he makes his last journey across the Channel to England. Despite a favourable if rather distant reception from Richard II, Froissart’s stay is a disappointment. All has changed, and practically all of his former English friends have gone. He ends his days in Hainault sometime around 1404, no doubt in his forge at Chimay where he had a canonry for several years. It is here that he finishes his Book IV, covering the reign and mental illness of Charles VI and the last days of Richard II’s troubled rule.17 Froissart’s very last undertaking is a comprehensive ‘rewrite’ of the earlier chapters (covering the years 1325-1350) of Book I, known to most critics as the Rome manuscript version or ‘third redaction’,18 in which he seems to give indirect and sometimes overt expression to his fears for the survival of Prouesse in a country which has just witnessed the deposition and homicide of its anointed sovereign.

Froissart: poet, writer of romance, historian?

Modern political historians approach the Chroniques with circumspection, and rightly so. Those eager to learn about the social and cultural mainsprings behind the aristocratic and chivalric elites of the fourteenth century, on the other hand, will find abundant nourishment. Without holding up a faithful mirror to his society, Froissart does offer us a remarkable perspective onto a world which is admittedly dominated by prouesse, honour and courtliness (the ideology of knighthood), but which also affords glimpses of the miseries suffered by urban and rural populations alike, subject as they are to the cynical exactions and serial plundering of mercenary bands and royal marauding armies en chevauchée. Nor is he blind to the injustices and unreasonable impositions of the nobility, even if on most occasions he advances rather too promptly as an excuse for such oppressive treatment of the poor the conventional lament that warfare inevitably produces atrocities, or that Dame Fortune is, alas ! ever close at hand, casting down the prosperous without warning and with just a jolt of her wheel.

Froissart seeks to be impartial and objective, but his notion of objectivity bears little resemblance to our own. He sought above all to record and celebrate the hautes emprises achieved throughout the Hundred Years’ War, without prejudice as to the ‘national’ origins of those on either side of the conflict who so distinguished themselves. His voice is that of a preceptor, eager to edify the young and to cause time to stand still long enough to preserve the dwindling echo of all these exemplary achievements, as a stimulus to future action. He is also a master storyteller who excels in rendering impressions of movement on the battlefield or during a skirmish or siege. In line with a much earlier aesthetic, he delights in evoking the flash of sunlight on burnisheld helm or lance, or the flutter of pennons or banners in the wind. He is able too to evoke the emotions of his protagonists through a single gesture or silent glance, amidst tableaux vivants of considerable dramatic presence. His use of direct speech is lively and unforced, bringing an immediacy and accessibility to some of the encounters he reports, or imagines, between the often colourful figures who pass across his pages.

There are, of course, the great bravura pieces (the battle of Poitiers, for example, or the Burgesses of Calais, the Wodehouses going up in flames at Charles VI’s court entertainment, Charles losing his mind in the forest outside Le Mans...), but one is sometimes even more impressed by episodes less obviously ‘framed’ or staged.

One thinks, for example, of certain narrative developments in Book III in which Froissart allows himself to intertwine his historical narrative with documentary, anecdote, gossip, exemplum or mythic tale. The Voyage en Béarn sequence is justly famous for the manner in which the chronicler orchestrates the progressive disclosure of a homicidal scandal involving Fébus and his cherished son and heir. Introducing himself as protagonist during his recital of the slow ride westwards towards Gaston’s court, Froissart refuses to be put off by his interlocutor Espan de Lion’s tactful reluctance to spill the beans. The dénouement is deferred at least twice, until the chronicler is obliged to look elsewhere for details of the crime. The disclosures made by an ancient squire, withdrawing with the chronicler into a corner of a chapel somewhere in the Count’s castle at Orthez, are a delight to read. The truth is retailed at one remove, then from further away again, until it acquires a mysterious aura of pathos and tragedy which it almost certainly never deserved. A similar approach is employed for the chronicler’s acount of the haunting of Pierre de Béarn, sanctioned by the ‘capping’ of the squire’s tale by Froissart’s own retelling of the Ovidian myth of Actaeon and the Stag (which resurfaces in his romance of Meliador and in one of his narrative dits).

Also deserving of mention, from both an historical and a literary point of view, are the successive redactions of Book I. Relating around or just after 1400 the preparations being made for war back in 1333, Froissart develops a concise allusion he had made in an earlier version to the rôle played by that suave ‘French’ émigré Robert of Artois, ‘qui ne cessoit nuit ne jour de lui [à Édouard III] remonstrer quel droit il avoit à la couronne de France’ (‘first redaction’), into a rhetorical set piece in direct speech in which Robert harangues Edward III in his very council chamber. Scenes of this kind employing exchanges in direct speech often occur when the chronicler is exploring how the authority, rights or reputation of a legitimate ruler are under pressure.

The propensity to moralise can of course be found also in Froissart’s poetic works, above all in the longer, narrative dits with their accompanying mythological digressions, inserted as so many exempla and often invented for the occasion. In these poems, whose style, diction and settings owe much to Guillaume de Lorris and his Roman de la Rose, as well as to Guillaume de Machaut, Froissart has his protagonists move through settings combining courtly convention and mythopoeic dreamworld. Froissart’s own poetic ‘je’ is a somewhat diffident creature, prone to lamenting his lack of success with the ladies and inclined to depict himself as a naïve, easily-led, often foresaken yet perennially optimistic figure. The charm of these poems frequently arises from the ironical distance established by the writer vis-à-vis the persona of his ‘moi’ of former days. As for his lyrical pieces, these are far from devoid of grace, elegance or a certain resigned melancholy. That said, it would be wrong to forget the poet as ‘bon vivant’, so vividly conjured up in some of his ballades and above all in two amusing shorter narrative poems, the Dit dou Florin and the Débat dou cheval et dou lévrier.

We should mention too Froissart’s pre-Arthurian romance of Meliador, all thirty thousand lines of it, built around what is essentially a simple enough plot involving the quest for the hand of the lovely Hermondine of Scotland. Froissart tells us in his Dit dou Florin that his nightly recitations from Meliador were a source of ineffable pleasure to Gaston Fébus ; modern French critics, in contrast, are almost unanimous in describing this romance as ‘interminable’, ‘fastidieux’ or ‘ennuyeux’. Which is unfair. Recent studies by Peter F. Dembowski and Michel Zink invite us, rather, to admire its construction of a world of Arthurian emulation and competition rich in situations, variations and adventures. The combats undertaken on horseback or on foot by Froissart’s pre-Arthurian knights seem to exploit every permutation available to the fourteenth-century jouster. It is as though the poet were bent upon fixing a durable image of the great chivalric epic by means of l’escripture, by returning to its pre-history and very origins. This is where the poet’s œuvre bien ordennée intersects with the Chroniques. In each genre it is a matter of ‘comprehending’ the myth of chivalrous conduct, and of consecrating their memory for all time. This, moreover, at a moment in history when the myth is under threat from a new order and political morality or expediency. Hence the frequent appeal to mythological digression or precept, and the association of the recent but transient past with one more durable and ‘authentic’, as a kind of insurance against a future already heralded by so many disturbing events: the Black Death, royal tyranny or inefficacy, political assassinations, usurpations and popular insurrections. Recourse to the mythical foundations of the Arthurian cycle and to the chivalric ethic of the heroic individual is the link connecting so many aspects of Froissart’s writing, which can at times appear quite heterogeneous. And it is writing which preserves this foundational past and its truths from oblivion: ‘car vous savez que toutte la cognoissance de ce monde retourne par l’escripture, ne sus aultre chose de verité nous ne sommes fondez fors que par les escriptures approuvées’.

Against Oblivion : writing, memory and ideology

We have seen how Froissart, beginning with a chronicle in verse, was soon won over to prose (for his istoire, at least) by the example set by his predecessor Jean le Bel. The incorporation into his own narrative of this auctoritas confirms Froissart’s desire to preserve from oblivion what he describes as the ‘recors des preux’, offering to generations unborn an unimpeachable source of exemplary and edifying actions. Writing alone guarantees translatio, the transmission to the descendants of Froissart’s knights of a body of knowledge and way of life (see the Prologue to Book I).19

The chronicler of Valenciennes thus resembles the secretaries of the monarchical orders of chivalry whose task it was to record at the end of each year the exploits and feats of arms achieved by the members of their order; they had an equal duty to record any derelictions or transgressions committed against the code (the reproche d'armes).20 The Prologue to Book I reminds us that ‘esploit d’armes sont si chièrement comparet et achetet, che scèvent chil qui y traveillent, que on n’en doit nullement mentir pour complaire à autrui, et tollir le glore et renommée des bienfaisans, et donner à chiaus qui n’en sont mies digne’. Froissart defended himself on more than one occasion against accusations of partiality in his work ; in Book III he protests:

[Qu’on ne dise pas que je aye eu la noble histoire] corrompue par la faveur que je aye eu au conte Gui de Blois qui le me fis faire et qui bien m’en a payé tant que je m’en contempte, pour ce qu’il fut nepveu et si prouchains que filz au conte Loys de Blois, frère germain à saint Charles de Blois, qui, tant qu’il vesqui, fut duc de Bretagne. Nennil vrayement! Car je n’en vueil parler fors que de la verité et aler parmy le trenchant, sans coulourer l’un ne l’autre. Et aussi le gentil sire et conte, qui l’istoire me fist mettre sus et ediffier, ne le voulsist point que je la feisse autrement que vraye.21

Strange as it may seem to us, this insistence on impartiality explains the chronicler’s persistent reliance on oral testimony. He was determined to obtain, then enshrine for all time, the testimony of eyewitness participants in the battles, skirmishes, sieges or military incursions described to him by his interlocutors. The Bascot de Mauléon’s account of how he lived on pillaging comes readily to mind, but this is just one of many such. Froissart lived at a time when oral testimony given in good faith was still revered. Rather than just tax him with credulity, we should perhaps commend him for having so scrupulously interviewed so many informants not just encountered, but sought out (the journeys to Middelburg or Orthez), and interviewed in princely court or by the fireside of some inn or other.

Kings, knights and mercenaries were not his sole sources of information. In the Prologue to the ‘B’ text Froissart refers to ‘le vraie information que j’ay eu des vaillans hommes, chevaliers et escuiers (...) et ossi de aucuns rois d’armes et leurs mareschaus, qui par droit sont et doient estre juste inquisiteur et raporteur de tels besongnes’.22 Heralds and kings of arms were considered in those days arguably the most reliable and impartial sources of information on the conduct of fighting by the chivalric caste23. In like fashion, Froissart expresses his resolve to ‘parler loiaument d’armes’, which is to say, maintain a strict impartiality with regard to combatants in the wars, on whichever side they happened to be fighting.24 Identifying wholeheartedly with the ideology of chivalry, and like the clerks of the monarchical orders, Froissart becomes the accredited memorialist of a caste to which he could otherwise not have aspired. In the Prologue to the ‘B’ version of Book I he goes so far as to rework the old topos of the Three Orders, replacing the oratores (those who pray for the welfare of those who fight : the bishops, and later on the clergy as a whole) with those whose duty it is to cronisier the exploits of the knights:

Li vaillant homme traveillent leurs membres en armes, pour avancier leurs corps et acroistre leur honneur. Li peuples parolle, recorde et devise de leurs estas, et de leur fortunes. Li aucun clerch escrisent et registrent leurs avenues et baceleries (Prologue, premier livre, mss ‘B’; éd. de la SHF, I, 5; see also Online Froissart, Paris BnF ms. fr. 6477, fol. 3v).

The Prologue to the final version of Book I (conserved in Vatican Library ms. Reg. lat. 869, composed around 1399-1404) underscores still more insistently the honourable function of memorialist that is now the preserve of the chronicler:

Or se debrise et disfere li mondes en pluisseurs manieres. Premierement, li vaillant honme travellent lors corps en armes pour conquerir la glore et renonmee de che monde; li peuples parole[,] recorde, et devise de lors estas; auquns clers escripsent et registrent lors oevres et baceleries, par quoi elles soient mises et couchies en memores perpetueles. Car par les escriptures puet on avoir la congnissance de toutes coses, et sont registré li bien et li mal, les prosperités et les fortunes des anciiens (J. Froissart, Chroniques. Dernière rédaction du premier livre. Edition du manuscrit de Rome Reg. lat. 869.. Ed. G.T. Diller, Genève et Paris, 1972, p. 37); see also Online Froissart, Città del Vaticano ms. Reg. lat. 869, fol. 1r.25

‘Li vaillant homme, li peuples ... et auquns clers’ : Froissart and his society

In the ‘Amiens’ version of Book I, Froissart calls his chronicle ‘nostre histoire des rois’,26 mirroring the preoccupations of several French moralists active in the last quarter of the fourteenth century for whom the war was above all else a ‘conflit de deux monarchies en pleine croissance dont les relations de seigneur à vassal ne suffisent plus à maintenir l’équilibre’27:

Le conflit franco-anglais est d’abord perçu comme la querelle de deux princes. Présenté sous cet angle, il ne s’agit pas d’une guerre nationale, mais de l’affrontement de deux seigneurs dont l’un ne veut plus reconnaître sa vassalité. Dans la présentation féodale de la rivalité franco-anglaise, c’est la personne du roi de France qui est mise en exergue.28

The image of society with which we are presented in the pages of Froissart’s Chroniques is dominated by an ideology that is not solely chivalric, but also aristocratic and royal.29 The king being the head of the body politic, the welfare of his subjects depends on his health, and on his moral probity and leadership. This explains the prominence of so many episodes dramatising the moral, military or political apprenticeship of a king,30 just as it sheds light on the counter-image of the tyrant or weak sovereign over-dependent on favourites or parvenus.31 For similar reasons, the chronicler portrays the key role of the king’s Council and of his counsellors too, even as he depicts the inverse figure of those who offer mauvais conseil.32

Froissart’s view of society is overwhelmingly conservative, even reactionary. Yet his thought is not that far removed from the ideas of the most discontented ‘reformers’ of the late fourteenth century:

Dans cette société essentiellement statique, le changement est indésirable. La réforme ne peut être que le fonctionnement convenable du régime politique existant, non son altération. ... Cette société est dominée par le passé, elle s’accroche aux vestiges du présent ... ‘L’exemple de nos ancêtres’ était le modèle de conduite le plus sûr. Si par leurs actions ils changent la nature de la monarchie, c’est vers le passé que se tourne l’esprit des ‘réformateurs’ du XIVe siècle.33

Then again, society as it is depicted in the Chroniques is not exclusively static: Froissart reserves a place for certain opportunists, aspirational figures who embody for him the nec plus ultra of chivalry: ‘pluiseur chevalier et escuier se sont fait et avanciet’, he writes, ‘plus par leur proèce que par leur linage’. Although we are still in the realm of the knight, lineage isn’t everything. It is possible to conquer one’s way to a higher social position. That said, Froissart shares the anxiety, if not altogether the pessimism, displayed by many of his contemporaries, witnesses of the Black Death and of endemic conflict between neighbouring realms or states. The chronicler’s need to fix somehow for all time the image of his heroes — Edward III or his son the Black Prince, Sir John Chandos or Bertrand Du Guesclin, constable of France — is to be explained in part by his deeply medieval conviction that life in this world is short, uncertain and precarious in the extreme. Writing alone, as we have seen, serves to keep alive for a while the memory of prowess:

car bien sçay que ou temps advenir, quant je seray mort et pourry, cest haulte et noble hystoire sera en grant cours, et y prendront tous nobles et vaillans hommes plaisance et augmentation de bien.34
car vous savez que toutte la cognoissance de ce monde retournent par l’escripture, ne sus aultre chose de verité nous ne sommes fondez fors que par les escriptures approuvées.35

One is put in mind of the chantry chapels of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,36 endowed by princes or knights to preserve the memory of their time on earth and to guarantee the perpetual offering of masses for their souls.

The daily life of the church does not feature prominently in the Chroniques, though we do encounter the occasional (superstitious) anecdote, of which the following is a particularly vivid example:

Uns telz miracles avint ossi en ce temps d’un escuier englès, qui estoit de le route monsigneur Pière d’Audelée et Albrest. Il avoient chevauciet un jour et estoient entré en un village qui s’appelle Ronay. Et le desroboient li pillart, et y entrèrent si à point que li prestres chantoit la grant messe. Cils escuiers entra en l’eglise et vint à l’autel et prist le calisse où li prestres devoit consacrer Nostre Signeur et jetta le vin en voies. Et pour tant que li prestres en parla, cilz le feri de son gant, à traver se main, si fort que li sans en vola sus l’autel. Che fait, il issirent de le ville. Yaus venut as camps, cilz pillars, qui fait avoit cel outrage et qui portoit en son sain le calisse, le platine et le corporal, entrues que il chevauçoit, soudainnement il li avint ce que je vous diray. Et ce fu bien vengance et verghe de Dieu et exemples pour tous aultres pilleurs. Li chevaus de celui et il commencièrent à tourniier si diversement et à demener tel tempeste que nulz ne les osoit approcier. Et cheirent là en un mont et estranglèrent l’un l’autre, et se convertirent tout en pourre. Tout ce veirent li compagnon qui là estoient, dont il furent durement eshidé. Et voèrent et prommisent Dieu et à Nostre Dame que jamès eglise ne violeroient ne desreuberoient : je ne sçai se il l’ont depuis tenu.37

Froissart does not ignore weightier issues, of course. His disgruntled commentary on the Great Schism (1378 onwards) can be read in Book II. He manifestly disapproved of the rivalry between popes Clement VII and Urban VI, seeing it as a monumental failure in terms of Christian charity, but one also suspects that the future of his own benefices and future preferment were never far from his mind. In Book III he gives voice to Murad Bey, astonished that the Christian leaders of the West are so preoccupied with arguing with each other while his armies push deeper and deeper into their territory.

Froissart’s world view consistently allows for the intervention of God in the affairs of the created world, via divine providence; but he is equally convinced of the perverse and unforeseeable actions of Fortuna. Familiar with Boethius’ Consolatio philosophiæ, Froissart shares the medieval conviction that Dame Fortune is ever ready to humble the mighty, as occurs in Book II when Louis de Male, count of Flanders, is forced to take refuge in the smoky cottage of a townswoman of Bruges, hiding from the Ghent militia beneath the covers of her children’s makeshift bed.

Whereas squires can distinguish themselves in combat and so attain to the higher social rank and status of knighthood, no such mode of preferment is available to the poet-chronicler. We suggested earlier that in some of his dits narratifs, Froissart depicts himself as an almost diffident onlooker, watching from the wings, as it were, the courtly activities of his knights and ladies.38 Even in the Chroniques, on those occasions when he places himself on stage as protagonist, Froissart gives us the impression of having lived above all a spectator’s life, just this side of chivalry:

Froissart seems to have harboured the lifelong desire of crossing the threshold into the ranks of chivalry. The persona adopted as first-person narrator in the longer dits narratifs is often cast in the role of wistful or beatific eavesdropper on, or witness to, the ébats of his aristocratic protagonists. He stands in the wings, watching the evolutions of the dance, and is even, on occasion, caught and lightly mocked or teased by those whose way of life he so enthusiastically evokes.39

His greatest preoccupation remains the re-presentation and indeed the consecration of the spectacle of those chivalric apertises d’armes which he admired with such passion. He emulates these feats through his writing, such that the Chroniques can themselves be viewed as a heroic emprise. And that is how the Clerk manages, finally, to associate his destiny with that of the Knight (the princes, barons, knights and squires whose images he enshrines in the Chroniques). Some of his portraits recall the alabaster effigies one can still admire in many English churches, witness his portrayal in Book III of the virtues of his patrons Wenceslas of Brabant and Guy de Châtillon, count of Blois:

Ce duc Winchelant fut largues, doulx, courtois et amiables, et grant chose eust esté de luy, s’il euist longuement vescu, mais il morut en la fleur de sa joennesse, car il s’arma très voulentiers, dont je, qui ay escript et cronisiet ceste hystoire, le plains trop grandement que il n’eubt longue vie tant que à IIIIxx. ans, ou plus, car il eust fait moult de biens en son temps, et luy desplaisoit grandement le scisme de l’Eglise, et bien le me dist, car je fuy moult privé et accointié de luy, pourtant que j’ai veu en mon temps que j’ay travailliet le monde CC haulx princes; mais je n’en vey oncques plus humble, plus debonnaire, ne plus traittable, et aussy avecques luy mon seigneur et mon bon maistre, monseigneur Guy, le conte de Blois, qui ces hystoires me recommanda à faire. Ce furent les deux princes, en mon temps, de humilité et de larguesce et de bonté, sans nul mauvaix malice, qui sont le plus à recommander, car ilz vivoient largement et honnestement du leur, sans grever ne travaillier leur peuple, ne de mettre nulles mauvaises ordonnances ne coustumes en leurs terres.40

Froissart is not entirely blind to the faults of his age, as we noted earlier when examining his attitude to the papacy. Not unlike certain chivalric romances of the period, the Chroniques are composed by Froissart, suggests Michel Zink, ‘non sous la forme d’une admiration béate et figée, mais au contraire au sein d’une dialectique de la perfection et de la précarité, déjà sensible deux siècles plus tôt dans les romans de Chrétien de Troyes’41:

Privilégier l’univers de la chevalerie et de la courtoisie en s’inquiétant constamment, sourdement, à son sujet, en sachant secrètement qu’il est déjà mort et révolu, ou peut-être même qu’il n’a jamais existé que dans le temps fictif et mythique, celui du roi d’Arthur : c’est par ce biais et de ce point de vue que le roman a habitué les hommes de cette époque à réfléchir sur le jeu des événements humains. C’est ainsi qu’il dit les angoisses, les passions, les affrontements de l’être au monde. Et, de son côté, l’historien d’alors n’a pas de moyen plus saisissant ni plus adéquat pour rendre les crises de son temps intelligibles, perceptibles à la sensibilité de ses contemporains et à la sienne propre.

Mais que les conventions littéraires puissent révéler la vérité tout en la déguisant, c’est ce que nous reconnaissons plus facilement dans le cadre de la fiction que dans celui de l’histoire. Racine comme historiographe du roi intéresse peu; mais on admet sans peine que le poète tragique incarne l’universalité des passions dans des personnages royaux. ... La convention admise par le Moyen Age est un peu différente: elle ne privilégie pas les grands de ce monde en eux-mêmes, mais l’« ordre » chevaleresque — l’ordre que la chevalerie introduit dans le monde — face à ce qui l’exalte, le menace, l’abat. Lorsque Froissart annonce qu’il va rappeler les hauts faits chevaleresques de son temps, il n’entend pas faire l’éloge aveugle ou servile de la chevalerie, mais faire apparaître les troubles de l’époque et le sens de l’histoire — sa signification, non sa direction — à travers les péripéties de l’institution elle-même la plus chargée de sens grâce à la littérature.42

It is however only towards the end of his career that Froissart evinces palpable doubts about the viability of the chivalric dream. The early redactions of Book I are to a large extent a parade of his unmitigated enthusiasm for it. By the time we reach Books III and IV, in contrast, and a fortiori the final, Rome manuscript version of Book I, the chronicler’s writing betrays an increasing unease and a more sophisticated moral awareness of later fourteenth-century politics and society. Commenting on his account of the ‘tragedy’ of Richard II (Froissart’s, ‘non celle de Shakespeare’) in Book IV, Zink points up all the sagacity, all the penetrating intelligence displayed by the chronicler around 1399-1400:

Tout montre, ici et jusqu’à la fin du livre et de l’œuvre, le soin et l’efficacité avec lesquels Froissart rend, sur un ton presque neutre, la haine, la peur, la trahison, la dissimulation, la servilité, la violence, l’humiliation, les retournements de situation, les ricanements du destin, la glu du piège où se prend celui-là même qui l’a tendu. Vraiment, Froissart n’est plus le jeune homme euphorique, ébloui par la cour de la reine Philippa et par le panache chevaleresque. L’écrivain, l’historien, le moraliste ont beaucoup appris sur l’homme, sur l’homme de cour, sur la faiblesse des puissants.43

At least one prime quality remains unchanged from one end of the Chroniques to the other. Blessed with a strong visual imagination, Froissart excels in the depiction of dramatic encounters, whether on the field of battle, during a siege, or within a king’s council chamber. His text plays out a skein of textual signals (naturalistic details, auditive effects, the attitude struck by a protagonist, the use of a focalising vantage point, etc.) which encourage the reader to compose an imagined spatio-temporal theatre within which his characters play out their stories.44 These narrative features somehow contrive to complement and echo the visual content of the illuminated manuscripts of the Chroniques that have come down to us, and which frequently sum up the content of a chapter, or of a key moment within it.45

But what of the lowlier performers on Froissart’s stage, the country dwellers or the weavers, fullers and drapers of Flanders, for example, or the men-at-arms, sappers and crossbowmen who accompanied the royal armies? Whenever Froissart portrays the poor or lowly, this is generally to show how insurrection and urban revolt point up the failures of the powerful to govern adequately and justly, leading ultimately to the overthrow of divinely sanctioned institutions and hierarchies. His accounts of the Jacquerie in France (1358) and of the Great Revolt of 1381 express the chronicler’s anxiety in the face of the tyranny occasioned when royal authority is threatened from below, but also from within. As we have seen, revolt is treated as bestournement, the world turned upside down. In his accounts of the crushing of popular rebellion, Froissart shows how the metonymic swords of the knights overcome at the last the inappropriately armed peasantry. His depiction of the blackened, shrunken poor contrasts all too starkly with the brilliant colours of the masters and their heraldic display. Yet he is far from ignorant of the causes of popular or urban discontent. Moreover, at least one key episode from Book II betrays a more ambivalent stance on his part with regard to those who felt they had no choice but to rise up against their masters. We refer to his account of the Battle of the Beverhoutsveld (3 May 1382) outside Bruges,46 in which a solemn, almost Old Testament dignity is conferred upon the Flemish militia as they go forth to meet the massed chivalry of the count of Flanders: the Israelites versus Pharoah.

Our last word belongs to the rank-and-file. After page upon page of emblazoned knights on caparisoned coursers, what a pleasure to meet, during a siege or far below ground in a sapper’s mine under a curtain wall, the other ranks of the royal (and mercenary) armies of the age. Just occasionally, the chronicler feels the need to tell us about some physical obstacle encountered by an army on the march. His explanation of the tactical or strategic implications of such impediments affords us just a glimpse of ordinary soldiery going about their business. Their appearance in the Chroniques is sporadic but no less moving for that. To close this essay, here are the count of Hainault’s sappers, tasked with the forbidding job of trying to pull up from a river bed some twelve hundred wooden piles driven deep into the mud by their adversaries to close off the river to enemy shipping:

Le tierch jour fu li nés toutte ordonnee et abillie et li enghiens dedens assis et aprestez pour traire hors les pillos. Lors conmencierent à aller chil qui s’en ensonnioient au dessus et emprisent à ouvrir si comme coummandet leur estoit. Si s’afichierent se à traire et à oster lez pillos dont il y avoit semés en l’Escaut plus de .XIIc. més tant de painne en eurent ainschois que il en peuuissent avoir .I. que merveilles et regarderent li seigneur et li mestre qui là estoient qui che avoient ordonnet à faire que, tout au mieux venir, on n’en aroit meut hors de l’aighe une .XIIaine. le jour. Si en fu li comtez47 tous tanez et conmanda à laissier cest ouvraige.48

Notes

1 See in particular G. Croenen, ‘Froissart et ses mécènes’, in Froissart dans sa forge, textes rassemblés par Mme O. Bombarde, De Boccard (Paris, 2006), 9-32; esp. 10-15.
2 For Froissart’s biography and a percipient analysis of the textuality of the Chroniques and verse compositions : Michel Zink, Froissart et le temps, P.U.F. (Paris, 1998). Zink reminds us of the blood relationships associating Jeanne de Brabant with other protectors of Froissart: ‘la duchesse Jeanne, fille du duc de Brabant et héritière du duché, avait épousé en premières noces le comte de Hainaut, frère de Philippa, et oncle de Guy de Châtillon, comte de Blois, qui sera le principal protecteur de Froissart dans la seconde partie de son existence’ (p. 8). For his patrons, see Croenen, ‘Mécènes’.
3 Id., p. 10. It is during these years that Froissart composes the longer dits narratifs, receives sundry gifts from Wenceslas of Brabant, and is received by him in Brussels.
4 J. Froissart, Chroniques, éd. S. Luce, G. Raynaud, L. et A. Mirot, Société de l’Histoire de France, 15 vols, Livres I-III (Paris, 1869-1975); henceforward ‘SHF’ followed by the tome and page number. Book IV remains to be published.
5 Croenen, ‘Froissart et ses mécènes’, 15-20.
6 Croenen, ‘Froissart et ses mécènes’, 21-7.
7 In the ‘A’ mss the section covering the years 1350-56 is occupied by a copy of the relevant portion of the Grandes Chroniques de France.
8 J. Froissart, Chroniques. Livre I. Le Manuscrit d’Amiens. Bibliothèque municipale no 486, 5 vols, ed. G.T. Diller, Droz, “Textes littéraires français” (Genève, 1991-8) ; henceforward ‘Amiens’, followed by the number of the tome and page. I, ix-xxiii ; also J.J.N. Palmer (ed.), Froissart Historian, Boydell Press (Woodbridge and Totowa NJ, 1981).
9 For the view that the different redactions reflect changes in political allegiance (patron and/or chronicler), see in Palmer 1981, ch. 1 : id., ‘Book I and its sources’ (7-24).
10 These provide the benchmark milestones for our online edition of Book I against which we have aligned episodes from other versions and manuscript fragments.
11 G. Croenen, ‘La tradition manuscrite du Troisième Livre des Chroniques de Froissart’, in V. Fasseur (ed.), Froissart à la cour de Béarn, Brepols (Turnhout, 2009), 15-59.
12 A further version, represented by the Berlin or Rehdiger ms., is discounted from this discussion; composed ca. 1468, it almost certainly includes some scribal interpolations.
13 Zink, op. cit., p. 18. From Book III onwards, ‘l’on passe des chroniques aux mémoires. C’est de cette façon que le présent de la vie de Froissart et les souvenirs personnels de ce qu’il a vécu l’emportent sur la mémoire objective des événements ou du moins en commandent la transmission’ (p. 78).
14 J. Froissart, « Dits » et « Débats », éd. A. Fourrier (Genève, 1979), pp. 175-190. On the shift from metonymy to metaphor in the Book III text, see Peter Ainsworth, ‘Knife, Key, Bear and Book : poisoned metonymies and the problem of translatio in Froissart’s later Chroniques’, Medium Ævum LIX (1990), 91-113.
15 Zink, op. cit., p. 12.
16 Ibid., p. 13.
17 Book IV was the subject of a University of Sheffield Ph.D thesis by Katariina Närä; the Online Froissart is publishing (in stages, with effect from 2013) Närä’s transcription of Book IV as found in British Library mss Harley 4379-4380. A critical edition of Book IV by A. Varvaro for a different publisher is also anticipated.
18 Preserved in just one manuscript, Vatican Library Reg. Lat. ms. 869, ed. G.T. Diller, Droz, “Textes Littéraires Français” (Geneva, 1972).
19 Peter Ainsworth, ‘Configuring Transience. Patterns of Transmission and Transmissibility in the Chroniques (1395-1995)’, in D. Maddox and S. Sturm-Maddox (eds), Froissart Across the Genres, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, 1998), 15-39.
20 See Maurice Keen, Chivalry (New Haven and London, 1984), 12-14, 134, 138, 162, 174-6, 195-6, and plate 43 (banquet of the Order of the Knot of Naples: a knight guilty of a reproche takes his meal alone and isolated from his peers; dressed in black, he eats at a table painted black and covered with a black cloth); cf., id., ‘Chivalry, heralds, and history’, The Writing of History in the Middle Ages. Essays presented to Richard William Southern, ed. R.H.C. Davis et J.M. Wallace-Hadrill (Oxford, 1981), 393-414, esp. 404-6. Also D’A.J.D. Boulton, The Knights of the Crown. Monarchical Orders of Knighthood in Later Medieval Europe 1325-1520 (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1987), xxiii.
21 SHF XIII, 223-4.
22 SHF I, 1.
23 On heralds as described by Froissart, see ‘Amiens’ (Diller edn): counting those present at Buironfosse in 1339 (kings, dukes, earls, bannerets, knights and men-at-arms, t. I, 289; cf. IV, 373); heralds as emissaries (I, 282; II, 26 and 28); heralds delivering challenges (III, 238; cf. IV, 271), negotiating safe conducts (IV, 325); negotiating the conditions for surrender of a town (IV, 199, 306); responsible for guiding an expeditionary party : ‘Li hiraus les menoit tout serré et tout rengiet’ (III, 301: battle of Cocherel, May 1364); identifying the dead after a battle (III, 25: Crécy, August 1346; ibid., 350: Auray, October 1364). Chandos Herald composed an encomiastic poem celebrating the military exploits of the Black Prince, and of his own master Sir John Chandos (the prince’s lieutenant): Chandos Herald, La Vie du Prince Noir by Chandos Herald, ed. D.B. Tyson (Tübingen, 1975). See also Peter Ainsworth, ‘Heralds, Heraldry and the Colour Blue in the Chronicles of Jean Froissart’, in The Medieval Chronicle I, ed. E. Kooper, Rodopi, Costerus New Series 120 (Amsterdam-Atlanta, 1999), 40-55.
24 cf. Rome ms., Diller edn, 35: ‘Et devés savoir que je ai ce livre cronisiet et historiiet, ditté et ordonné apriés et sus la relation faite des desus dis, a mon loial pooir, sans faire fait ne porter partie ne coulourer non plus l’un que l’autre. Et seront dedens ce livre li bien fait ramenteu de ceuls qui l’ont deservi, de quel pais et nation que il soient’; see also Online Froissart, Città del Vaticano ms. Reg. lat., fol. 1.
25 On the prologues, Peter Ainsworth, Jean Froissart and the Fabric of History. Truth, Myth, and Fiction in the “Chroniques” (Oxford, 1990), 9 and 87; cf. Chr. Marchello-Nizia, ‘L’historien et son prologue: forme littéraire et stratégies discursives’, La Chronique et l’histoire au Moyen-Age, ed. D. Poirion. Cultures et civilisations médiévales, ii (Paris, 1984), 13-25.
26 ‘Amiens’, Diller edn, IV, 165-6.
27 J. Krynen, Idéal du prince et pouvoir royal en France à la fin du Moyen Age (1380-1440). Etude de la littérature politique du temps (Paris, 1981), 259-260.
28 Id.
29 Ainsworth, Fabric, 180-181: the importance, for Froissart, of the concept of jeunesse (energy, drive, potential for initiative, etc.), in the development of kings and knights.
30 Ainsworth, Fabric, 272-302 (Edward III as portrayed in the Book I redactions).
31 Id., 98-100; 105, 131, 176, 179, 201, 241 and 256.
32 Id., 192-205 (the Marmousets, during the minority and early personal reign of Charles VI; political career of Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford, favourite of Richard II and ultimate purveyor of evil counsel).
33 P.S. Lewis, La France à la fin du Moyen Age (Paris, 1977), 42-3.
34 SHF XII, 2 (prologue to Book III); see also Online Froissart, Paris BnF ms. fr. 2650, fol. 1r. The preoccupation with immortality evinced by some of Froissart’s interlocutors is well illustrated by the Bascot de Mauléon: ‘ “Messire Jehan, que dictes-vous? Estes-vous bien infourmé de ma vie? J’ay encores eu assez plus d’aventures que ne vous ay dis, desquelles je ne puis ne ne vueil pas de toutes parler.” ’ (ibid., 109); see also Online Froissart, Paris BnF ms. fr. 2650, fol. 38r.
35 SHF XIV, 9 (Book III again; shows a greater awareness in this Book of the potential destiny for his work); see also Online Froissart, Paris BnF ms. fr. 2650, fol. 203v.
36 See for instance the Beauchamp Chapel and family effigies in the parish church of St Mary, Warwick, or the Despenser tombs at Tewkesbury Abbey, Worcs (where one can still see the painted effigy of Edward Despenser on his knees praying atop the canopy of his own tomb, in full armour).
37 SHF V, 175-76; see also Online Froissart, Paris BnF ms. fr. 2650, fol. 246r. Also L. Harf-Lancner, ‘Une légende mélusinienne dans les CHRONIQUES de Froissart: l’histoire du seigneur de Coarraze et de son serviteur Horton’, Actes du colloque international tenu les 27 et 28 mars 1997 à l’Université Paris XII et au Collège des Irlandais, Champion (Paris, 1999), 205-221.
38 Prison amoureuse, ed. A. Fourrier (Paris, 1974), ll. 343-418, 490-96 and 1066-1141; cf. l’Espinette amoureuse, ed. A. Fourrier (Paris, 1972 edn), ll. 1277-93, 2744-53 and 3214-22.
39 Ainsworth, Fabric, 76-7; see also M. Zink, Froissart et le temps, 25.
40 SHF XIV, 159-160. One is reminded, this time, of the alabaster masterpieces at All Saints Church, Strelley, Nottinghamshire (tombs of Sir Sampson de Strelley, d. 1390; ca. 1405, and of his wife Elizabeth, d. 1405; ca. 1410), and at St Peter’s, Lowick, Northamptonshire (tomb of Sir Ralph Greene, d. 1419, and of his wife Katharine Malley), effigies which seem to enshrine, like Froissart’s writerly portraits, a perdurable representation of knightly achievement.
41 Zink, Froissart et le temps, 53.
42 Id., loc. cit.
43 Id., 96.
44 Analysis and commentary in Ainsworth, Fabric, 116-123.
45 See L. Harf-Lancner and M.-L. Le Guay, ‘L’Illustration du livre IV des Chroniques de Froissart: les rapports entre texte et image’, Le Moyen Age XCVI (1990), 93-112; L. Harf-Lancner, ‘La merveille donnée à voir: la chasse fantastique et son illustration dans le livre III des Chroniques de Froissart’, Revue des Langues Romanes C (1996), 91-110; M.-L. 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. « CNRS éditions », Brépols, 1998; and A. Varvaro, ‘Il libro I delle Chroniques di Jean Froissart. Per una filologia integrata dei testi e delle immagini’, Medioevo Romanzo XIX (1994), 3-36. For an introduction to the reading of images in medieval manuscripts, see Chr. Raynaud, Le commentaire de document figuré en histoire médiévale, A. Colin, coll. “Cursus” (Paris, 1997).
46 Peter Ainsworth, ‘Du berceau à la bière: Louis de Male dans le deuxième livre des Chroniques de Froissart’, in J.H.M. Taylor (ed.), DIES ILLA. Death in the Middle Ages, Vinaver Studies in French, I, Francis Cairns (Liverpool, 1984), 125-152.
47 The count of Hainault.
48 ‘Amiens’, Diller edn, t. II, 72.