Monday, February 01, 2010

The Chronicle of the Good Duke and "modern times"

For some fans medieval history and some medieval reenactors in particular,the 14th century is "The One True Century." It certainly is flashy, but there are times I find it difficult to think of this period as a medieval one. Here's just one point: they had guns, and throughout the period that Froissart, (who was wildly popular as the historian of chivalry) wrote about, 1330-1400, they used them more and more routinely.

What follows is a rough translation of a passage in The Chronicle the Good Duke, written in the 15th century about events of the previous one. The ostensible hero of this book, Duke Louis of Bourbon, is taking part in an expedition to retake Normandy from the King of Navarre, Charles the Bad:

The Duke of Bourbon, the Constable and the Admiral went with their people to Gavre', the finest castle in Normandy, and they set up their siege, and opposed to them was Ferrandon, who had left Evreux, inside the castle; it happened one day that he went to check out powder for the cannons and artillery in one tower and when he was checking a candle fell on the power, which burned Ferrandon's whole face, of which he died and two others with him.
Image: a manuscript picture of a gun from 1400.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Froissart lives!

Will McLean says:
Eric Jager's The Last Duel (New York, 2004) is written in the spirit of Froissart. And I don't mean it in a good way. I mean that just like Froissart, Jager likes to present a vivid and compelling narrative full of convincing detail, and he doesn't mind making stuff up to do it.

And then Will goes on, correctly, to critique Jager's account of "the big fight scene" as a modern, uninformed fantasy.

Now I thought the book was OK in general, but I think that representatives of the (major) publisher had a lot of input into its shape. Note the long list of such reps at the head of the book. It's a simple enough story that I don't think it needed so much massaging by people with no particular historical expertise.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hoppaquin Hay (Quinn)


Hoppaquin Hay is a man-at-arms mentioned in Froissart's Chronicles. I like to think of him as "the famous singing cowboy of the 14th century." I threw out that name as a possibility when we got the horse, and soon enough he was known as (the Mighty) Quinn.

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