Jean Froissart Additional Biography

Biography

Jean Froissart (froy-sahrt), one of the liveliest and most prolific writers of the Middle Ages, was descended from Flemish stock. He was born in Valenciennes, then part of Flanders. His father was a painter of armorial bearings. The young Froissart was also to serve nobility, producing all manner of chronicles, romances, occasional poems, and lyrics for the courts of Europe. At the age of eighteen he presented himself with glowing credentials to Queen Philippa of England and was appointed secretary and royal historiographer. He traveled throughout England and Scotland collecting and recording views on battles and wars. In 1366 he began a long series of travels throughout Europe, visiting almost every court and collecting various prizes, benefices, and pensions for his chivalric accounts of people and events. As a cleric, Froissart from time to time was assigned as priest to various parishes, but he never had the patience to carry out the mundane duties of masses, marriages, and funerals. He was too determined to see the world at first hand and to record the events around him.

His famous Chronicles depict the major events of Western Europe from 1327 through the Hundred Years’ War and Crusades to the murder of Richard II in 1400. It is one of the most graphic accounts ever produced of any age and is spiced throughout with delightful autobiographical tidbits. His other works include the narrative Espinette amoureuse, The Prison of Love, and Joli Buisson de Jonece, which were imitated by Geoffrey Chaucer, and the Arthurian verse romance Méliador. Despite the fact that throughout his life he was the intimate of royalty and nobility and the friend and colleague of the greatest poets and historians of the fourteenth century, Froissart died an obscure death and was buried in an unmarked grave.

Bibliography

Ainsworth, Peter F. Jean Froissart and the Fabric of History: Truth, Myth, and Fiction in the Chroniques. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. Looks at the literary character of the Chronicles.

De Looze, Laurence. Pseudo-autobiography in the Fourteenth Century: Juan Ruiz, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, and Geoffrey Chaucer. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997. Examines the autobiographical elements in the works of each of these literary figures.

Demowski, Peter F. Jean Froissart and His “Méliador”: Context, Craft, and Sense. Lexington, Ky.: French Forum, 1983. Studies this Arthurian romance, one of Froissart’s major literary works.

Palmer, J. J. N., ed. Froissart: Historian. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1981. A collection of essays by scholars examining Froissart’s work as an historical chronicler.

Shears, Frederic Sidney. Froissart: Chronicler and Poet. 1930. Reprint. Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Library Editions, 1972. A thorough study of Froissart’s life and work.