Jean Froissart

Jean Froissart (~1337 - ~1405) was one of the most important of the chroniclers of medieval France. For centuries, Froissart's Chronicles have been recognized as the chief expression of the chivalric revival of fourteenth-century England and France. His history is also one of the most important sources for the first half of the Hundred Years' War.

Very little is known of Froissart's life and the little that is known comes mainly from Froissart's own Chronicle and his poems. Froissart originated from Valenciennes, Hainaut, and his writings suggest his father was a painter of armorial bearings. Froissart began working as a merchant but soon gave that up to be a clerk. He had gained significant distinction to carry with him a letter of recommendation from the King of Bohemia when he became a court poet and a kind of official historian to Philippa of Hainaut, queen consort of Edward III of England.

His memoirs of his time in Philippa's service, between 1361 and 1369, were later put together with reports of other events he had witnessed, in his Chroniques ("Chronicles"). He took a serious approach to his work:

Je suis de nouveau entré dans ma forge pour travailler et forger en la noble matière du temps passé
("Again I entered my smithy to work and forge in the noble manner of times past")

He travelled around England, Scotland, Wales, France, Flanders and Spain gathering material and first hand accounts for his Chronicle. He also went with Lionel Duke of Clarence to Milan for the duke's marriage to the daughter of Galeazzo Visconti. At this wedding two other significant writers of the middle ages were present Chaucer and Petrarch.

After the publication of this first book, and after the death of Philippa, he enjoyed the patronage of the Joan, Duchess of Brabant among various others. He received rewards—including the benefice of Lestines, a village near Binche and later became cannon of Chimay—which were sufficient to finance further travels, which provided additional material. He returned to England in 1395 but seemed disappointed by the changes since he was last there and what he viewed as the end of chivalry. The date and circumstances of his death are unknown but St Monegunda of Chimay claims to be the last resting place for his remains although this is unverified.

Edward Elgar wrote an overture entitled Froissart fr:Jean Froissart


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