Contained in these pages is a literal transcription of the Thomas Jhones translation of the Chronicles of England, France, etc. of Sir John Froissart, as published, in this edition, in 1857. Included are all of that authors notes, along with some additional ones added by the publishers. These notes are shown in plain text at the bottom of the chapter to which they apply. Any notes by the transcriber (myself) appear in italics below these. Punctuation, capitalization and grammar is all that of Mr. Jhones, though I have taken the liberty to number the notes, as opposed to using the critical marks in the original text, for purposes of clarity. This is still very much a work in progress. I will be adding chapters as often as I can, so please be patient.
Some notes on the life of Froissart
Born, it is thought, in the year 1337, in the town of Valenciennes, in what is now the Nord-Pas-de Calais region of France, but was then the Duchy of Hainault, Jean Froissart went on to become one of the leading chroniclers of his time, and certainly the most widely know today.
Titularly at least a clergyman holding several ecclesiastical posts in the course of his life, he lead a secular life, traveling widely in France, England, the Low Countries, Italy, Wales and Scotland, writing poetry and serving as both court poet and historian to Philippa of Hainault, who was his patron from 1361 until her death in 1369. His memoirs of his time at the court of Philippa, along with his written accounts of other events which he had witnessed, form the core of the first part of his Chronicles.
In 1369, after loosing his patroness the Queen of England, Froissart did not return to England, but acquired the living of Lestines. Following this indeterminate period he attached himself to the court of Wenceslaus of Luxembourg, Duke of Brabant, where he collected the Dukes songs and, adding a few of his own pieces, formed a romance, called Meliador, or the Knight of the Sun. Unfortunately the Duke did not live to see the completion of this work, dying in 1384.
Froissart's next patron was Guy, Comte de Blois, who made him clerk of his chapel. Froissart wrote poems for the betrotahl of Comte Guy's daughter, and more for when her marriage was celebrated, and continued to work on his history in 1385, 86 and 87. In 1388, with letters of recommendation from his patron, he set out to see the court of Gaston Pheobus, Comte de Foix and to gather information for his history of the goings on in distant provinces and even foreign lands. On his travels he met a Gascon knight, Sir Espain du Lyon, who had served extensively both in matters of war and peace in Gascony, and who, acting as a sort of tour guide cum bodyguard for Froissart, told him all of the recent history of the region, of which he had played a great part, as they traveled from Pamiers, in Provence, to Gaston's principal residence at Ortez, in Béarn. There Froissart rapidly became one of Gaston's favorite courtiers, reading bits of Meliador over the late night dinners the Count like to keep, and listening to tales of the Counts exploits in the wars in which he had distinguished himself. He also listened to the tales of Gaston's knights and squires, many of whom were veterans of the wars in Gascony, and to those of the knights of England and Arragon attached to the Duke of Lancaster's household.
Of his chronicle, which he states is a continuation of that begun by Jean le Bel, canon of Leige, it must be said that while as literature is is one of the most worthy pieces of it's time (and certainly the most lengthy), Froissart's tendency towards exaggeration, his obvious sympathy for the established order of the time and his fierce pro-English attitude hamper its being taken as serious history. He is, however, one of the few chroniclers of the medieval period that manages to make the period come to life. Beginning in the approximately 1324 with the downfall of Edward III of England and continuing through 1400 his chronicle provides, if not the most accurate of histories, a magnificent portrait of contemporary life in his time, at least from the point of view of the upper and noble classes. His tales are full of noble nights, beautiful ladies, desperate battles and glittering tournaments.
c.1337-1410?, French chronicler, poet, and courtier, b. Valenciennes. Although ordained as a priest, he led a worldly life. He became a protégé of Queen Philippa of England, visited the court of David II of Scotland, and accompanied (1366) Edward the Black Prince on the campaign in Gascony. He also traveled widely in the Low Countries and in Italy. In the south of France he saw the brilliant court of Gaston III of Foix, and he later described it in a famous passage. Nothing is known of his life after 1404: his death date is traditionally 1410. His chronicle, continuing that of Jean le Bel, canon of Liège, covers the history of Western Europe from the early 14th cent. to 1400, roughly the first half of the Hundred Years War. In literary merit Froissart's chronicle far surpasses similar efforts in any European language. He described events with brilliance and gusto, and his sympathy was with the established order - or disorder - of his time. His highly partisan spirit and disregard for accuracy limit the value of his chronicle as pure history, yet few historians have so successfully brought an era to life. The chronicle remains a superb portrait of contemporary society. Apart from a tedious romance, Méliador, Froissart's poetry is charming and light; it somewhat influenced Chaucer, whom Froissart probably knew personally. The standard English translation (1523-25) of the chronicles by John Bourchier, Lord Berners, is available in many editions.