François Villon (Dictionary of World Biography: Renaissance)
Article abstract: In his intensely personal, forthright verse, sordidly realistic yet devout, Villon was the greatest poet of medieval France.
Born in Paris in 1431, François Villon was originally named François de Montcorbier et des Loges. Apparently his father died when the child was quite young, for François was sent to live with Guillaume de Villon, a priest who was chaplain to the church of Saint-Benoît-le-Bientourné, near the University of Paris. His protector gave the boy a home and an education; the grateful François adopted his name, Villon, and several times wrote fondly of him in his verse, calling him “more than father . . . who has been to me more tender than a mother and raised me from swaddling-clothes.” Nothing is known of his real father, not even his first name; Villon called himself “of poor and obscure extraction.” His mother, for whom he wrote “Ballade to Our Lady,” he describes at the time as a poor old woman who knew nothing of letters.
Nothing is known of Villon’s boyhood. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake the year he was born, and for the first five years of his life, Paris was in the hands of the English conquerors, while the ineffectual Charles VII nominally ruled the unoccupied part of France. Most of...
(The entire section is 3110 words.)
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