In this history book written in the 1340s by the French chronicler and poet Gilles li Muisis, residents of a town stricken by the plague burn Jews, who were blamed for causing the disease. (Royal Library of Belgium)
A potentially deadly virus is threatening lives everywhere. It may have started in China, and it may not. It seems that viruses and other pathogens can lie in a dormant state for years, perhaps centuries, only to rise again here and there. The Black Death is still alive. The Black Death so horrified Europeans that many of Europe’s inhabitants would not take baths fearing that freshly-cleansed skin could absorb pathogens.
I remember reading that Henri IV of France sent for his advisor, Maximilien de Béthune, Duc de Sully, but that hearing from his messenger that Sully had just taken a bath, Henri IV asked that he stay indoors for a few days. The Black Death also survived in songs and in literature. Camus (7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) wrote La Peste (The Plague), 1947, but we will focus on Giovanni Boccacio’s Decameron. The Decameron was completed in 1353, as the Black Death (1347-1351) was waning. Wikipedia reports the “[i]n total, the plague may have reduced the world population from an estimated 475 million to 350–375 million in the 14th century epidemics.” The Decameron had an enormous influence on Geoffrey Chaucer‘s (1340 – 1400) Canterbury Tales. But we are not looking at the Decameron, as a work of literature. The Decameron, written in Florentine Italian, is an example of self-isolation to avoid contagion, and, in our case, an epidemic heralding a pandemic.
Black Death, pandemic that ravaged Europe between 1347 and 1351, taking a proportionately greater toll of life than any other known epidemic or war up to that time.
The Decameron consists of a hundred tales told by seven young women and three young men who had self-isolated outside Florence. Self-isolation may well be the best option is a global attempt to save humanity. It’s a form of containment.
I believe that persons who can afford to self-isolate have a better chance of surviving Covid-19. The affluent and employees who benefit from sick leave may be able to self-isolate. But what about citizens who have been fired because they are not needed and may not have sick leave? These would be, for instance, persons working in travel agencies or for an airline company that may go bankrupt.
The agorais no longer a safe area and people should travel and use public transportation as little as possible. What happens to the individuals who have no sick pay? One cannot live without an income, but if earning an income means not only possible, but probable exposure to the coronavirus, remaining in the agora is unacceptable.
Flagellants in the Netherlands scourging themselves in atonement, believing that the Black Death is a punishment from God for their sins, 1349 (Britannica)
We spend billions on defence: war. And we may have to spend billions on another type of defence: a war on a devastating virus now deadlier than war. China is building hospitals and hospitals might be built elsewhere. But time is of the essence. Bill Gates and other wealthy people have donated huge amounts of money to essential research. But, again, time is of the essence. A researcher may have a brilliant idea tomorrow, but that may not happen. Moreover, producing the vaccine or remedy may also take time. In such a case, it is perhaps best to stay home at the government’s expense. Research is essential, but who and when will researchers discover the cure.
These viruses are unpredictable and fickle. The 1918 Spanish flu killed three grown sons in a day, but a daughter and her child survived. Coronavirus seems to attack the elderly and spare children. But we are all at risk, including those who recover. One will recover, but will one recover fully? They may find it difficult to earn a living even if they can manage their illness.
I caught a virus (H1N1) in February 1976. It did not kill me, but caused a permanent disability that eventually cost me my position and my blue house. My employers knew I needed more rest than other persons, but my workload grew heavier than the workload assigned to my colleagues.
But the current case is the novel coronavirus.
We must help those who cannot help themselves for lack of an income. We all pay taxes. Once this outbreak is under control, planes will fly again and travel agencies will reopen, but our current obligation is to save lives and contain the disease, which may mean self-isolation. Moreover, among the persons who survive, some may not be as strong as they were before their illness. Will employers everywhere increase their workloads, causing them to fall ill? That’s what they did to me.
It may cost a great deal of money, but we must save humanity. Let’s go through this horror with dignity, calm, and as charitably as we can. All of us must avoid exposure, and the elderly are at a terrible risk.
Given their length and a dramatis personæ consisting of animals, the 12th-century Roman de Renart and its immediate predecessor, Nivardus of Ghent’s Ysengrimus (1148-1149), bring to mind Vishnu Sharma‘s Sanskrit Panchatantra and its best-known Arabic analog, Ibn al-Muqaffa‘s Kalīlah wa Dimnah, but the Ysengrimus and the Roman de Renart are mock-epics, which was new. The Panchatantra and Kalīlah wa Dimnah contained fables told by a story-teller, the sage Bidpai (Bidpaï, Pilpay). Their purpose was to prepare the prince for his future role as king. The fables of Bidpai constitute inset tales, Innerfabeln, inserted in a frame story, lerécit-cadre or an Ausserfabel. In other words, we have an author and a story-teller.
It should also be noted that students in their triviumused fables drawn from the Ysopet-Avionnet, a collection of Æsop’s Fables. In the 4th century, fabulist Avianus compiled a collection of fables that included not only fables set into written form by Roman author Phaedrus, but also fables removed from an oral tradition by Greek fabulist Babrius. Avianus set Babrius’ Greek Æsopic fables into Latin elegiac poems. The Ysopet-Avionnet, Avionnet from Avianus, endured until the first quarter of the 20th century. (See Ysopet, Wikipedia.) The Ysopet-Avionnet is an Internet Archive publication. Another 4th _century prose collection, entitled the Romulus, was also used widely.
To sum up, the Reynard cycle (there are many Reynards), mock-epics featuring animals, did not ever eclipse fables written to instruct and to delight, many of which were short trickster tales belonging to the Æsopic corpus and included in the Ysengrimus and the Roman de Renart. However, a new tradition emerged.
The Second Tradition
We are now leaving didactic fables. Henceforth, trickster tales will dominate in which beasts will be beasts, including anthropomorphic animals. The Ysengrimus and the Roman de Renart are not edifying literature. The Middle Ages favoured the grotesque, from gargoyles (water spouts) to misericords (mercy seats in cathedrals and various monasteries). Moreover, we have entered the world of the fabliau. Fabliaux are mostly obscene and, at times, scatological. Paul the Deacon’s Ægrum Fama Fuit, the sick-lion tale, and the Ecbasis captivitherefore inaugurate the medieval mock-epics tradition, epitomized in the Ysengrimus and the Roman de Renart, or the Reynard cycle, which includes Geoffrey Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale.
However, our beast epics are characterized by the use of sophisticated versification and by their length. For instance, using sophisticated versification to tell the story of a rather senseless calf who leaves the pack and is captured by a wolf is dissonant and ironic. The longer the beast fable, the greater its dissonance and irony. Paulus Diaconus’ 8th -centuryÆgrum Fama Fuit contains 24 Latin distichs, which is relatively short, but the Ecbasis captivi runs 1,230 lines written in hexameters with, frequently, Leonine internal rhyme, Nivard de Gand’s Ysengrimusis a tour de force: 6,574 lines in elegiac couplets. As for the Roman de Renart, it is not entirely versified, but the poem contains 2,410 lines in eight syllables (octosyllabic) verses in rhymed couplets.
Clearly, superior versification and the length of these beast fables do not match the subject matter: the vendetta between Reynard the fox and the wolf Ysengrin, born Reinardus and Ysengrimus in the Latin Ysengrimus. This discrepancy serves to mock chansons de geste, chivalry and courtly love. Beast epics are the underside of real epics and the courtly literature. They are parodies.
In Medieval Literature, these romances originate in the Carolingian and Arthurian (King Arthur) cycles. Arthurian romances are part of the matter of Britain. Cycles are a group of literary works on the same subject, the Reynard narratives are a cycle, but under its entry on Mock-epic Britannica lists three “cycles:” the “matter of Rome the great,” the “matter of France,” and the “matter of Britain.”
Medievalromance is classified into three major cycles: the “matter of Rome the great,” the “matter of France,” and the “matter of Britain” (“matter” here is a literal translation of the French matière, referring to subject matter, theme, topic, etc.). The matter of Rome, a misnomer, refers to all tales derived from Latin classics. The matter of France includes the stories of Charlemagne and his Twelve Noble Peers [Paladins]. The matter of Britain refers to stories of King Arthur and his knights, the Tristan stories, and independent tales having an English background, such as Guy of Warwick. (Mock-epic.)
I should think that El Cantar de Mio Cid a chanson [cantar] de geste, is also a cycle and the celebration of heroic deeds (gestes). Epics such as the Chanson de Roland, feature noble knights in shining armour who belong to courtly literature. These valiant knights will submit to demeaning tasks to earn the love of an idealized woman, a précieuseavant la lettre. Medieval chansons de geste intersect chivalric and courtly literature, the Roman de la Rose, which constitutes courtly love’s literary pinnacle. The rape of Hersent cannot be associated with courtly love.
In anthropomorphic literature, humanness isn’t so much a question of appearance as it is a matter of speech, or the ability to speak. Nivardus of Ghent named his characters, highlighting their humanness. We are reminded of T. S. Elliott’s (26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965) Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and, in particular, of the Naming of Cats.
Jill Mann, who translated the Ysengrimus into English, compares the flayed wolf who survives the removal of his coat to the cats of cartoons. These cats are flattened by a steam-roller, but fluff up again, as though they were impervious to injury and pain:
The recrudescent power of the wolf’s skin is reminiscent of the world of the cartoon where the cat who is squashed flat by a steam-roller, say, is restored to three dimensions in the next frame.
The cats of cartoons live every one of their nine lives as do the Lion-King’s mutilated barons. Neither the flayed wolf nor Bruin the bear, who “loses the skin off his nose,” seem to have sustained permanent and possibly fatal injuries.
We are in an other world where an animal’s fur seems a mere coat and where animals speak, a faculty perhaps denied humans. Lanfrey (Lanfroi), the forester, does not speak. His arrival forces Bruin to sacrifice his nose so his life is spared.
In Ramsay Wood’s translation and adaptation of Kalila and Dimna (Bidpai’s fables), a shaman tells a worried prince who will not believe his gazelle spoke to him and has fallen ill over this matter, that the gazelle did talk to him:
“[Y]our gazelle spoke to you! Don’t you realize that all animals can speak? But they never do so in the company of pitiful humans!”
Moreover, Wikipedia describes the Ysengrimus as a Latin fabliau. Although Hersent (Hersant FR), Ysengrin’s wife, has made love with Renart consensually (Branche II, c. 1110, p. 265), Renart takes advantage of her when she is caught in a hole, her rear end protruding. Yet, Jean Dufournet writes that the Roman de Renart was a “divertissement de clercs” (clerics) andThomas Best (p. 34) comments that “Pierre de Saint-Cloud wrote [branches II -Va] for recitation to lay nobility, addressed at the very beginning of his poem as seigneurs [lords].”Renart’s short verses, eight syllables, could be read easily by an audience consisting of the nobility of its times.
In Reynard the Fox, both animalness and humanness can be a thin veneer. In fact, were Reynard flayed, would his eloquence lose any of its verve? Underneath Reynard’s red coat, lives one of literature’s most eloquent characters. Renard’s barat, or deceitful language, convinces Tiécelin the crow to open his mouth and sing, causing Tiécelin to drop his precious cheese. But most importantly, Renart’s eloquence is such that he can talk himself out of death sentence at least twice: at the end of his “jugement” (branche I) and after Maupertuis, his fortress, is besieged.
Jurisprudence: “you shouldn’t take more than you find”
In this regard, let us note that in Nivardus of Ghent’s Ysengrimus, as the wolf is about to be flayed by the bear, Reynard “suddenly rushes forward with the plea that he [the bear] should ‘take no more than he finds:’ “I make one small request – let there be room for it – grant it – and I’ll show myself deserving: that you shouldn’t take more than you find! He himself never took more than he found. It’s right to take away what one has, but wrong to take away more than that!’ (III 931-4).” (Mann, p. 10.) I see the scales of Lady Justice.
There is no flaying episode in the Roman de Renart, but as he is about to be hanged, Renart uses his engin, his resourcefulness, and finds a ruse exceptionnelle. It occurs to him to argue that before being hanged, he must go on a pilgrimage and atone not to die a sinner. It is as though eternal damnation was too cruel and unusual a punishment for one who has merely eaten a few animals, tricked the greedy wolf, a Monk, and raped Hersent?
It works. Renart, who arrived tardily at the sick Lion-King’s bedside, because he was on a pilgrimage is sent on a pilgrimage, but Renart being Renart, he doesn’t leave for Syria. He simply returns to his fortress, Maupertuis. Molière’sDom Juan will be called a “pilgrim.” As for Renart’s topsy-turvy defence, it is consistent with Tartuffe‘s casuistry. Moreover, Tartuffe takes no more than he has been given by Orgon.
Renart does not always win. In the Æsopic “Le Chat et le Renart”/ “The Cat and the Fox” [IX. 14] the fox cannot climb a tree. That is the cat’s only trick. But he can transform the grapes he craves, but cannot reach, into sour grapes (“Le Renard et les Raisins”/The Fox and the Grapes [lll. 11). That’s engin. There is, however, a gradual transformation of Reynard. In the “vendetta” opposing a greedy wolf and a smart fox, one starts wondering which of the two is the greater scoundrel: Ysengrin or Reynard?
Renart has become evil itself which is how he is depicted in Jacquemart Gielée’s Renart le Nouvel (1289) and the anonymous Renard le Contrefait (1319 – 1322), French avatars. In later iconography, the animals look almost human. The zoomorphic aspect of the beast featured in the image below is disturbing. These figures are neither animals nor human beings.
I will close here having been kept away from my computer by a multitude of events and fatigue. I still have the story to clarify but the Roman de Renart is both parcellaire and unitaire. It is fragmented,piecemeal, yet coherent. The Bibliothèque nationale de France (the BnF) has divided Renart into nine episodes, which is the presentation I have chosen. The BnF uses Jean Dufournet’s authoritative translation (into modern French of the medieval Roman de Renart. (See Dufournet and Méline.)
 In his Introduction to Reynard the Fox, Henry Morley tells that the author of the Ecbasis captivi belonged to the monastery of St. Evre, at Toul. Strict reforms among the brethren, in the year 936, cause his Ecbasis -his going out. He was brought back, and as sign of is regeneration wrote the poem, in which he figured himself “per tropologiam” as a calf, who, having gone out from safety, became captive to the wolf. (Introduction, A History of Reynard the Fox [London: George Routledge and Sons, 1889]), p. 1. The full title of the Ecbasis cuisdam captivi per tropologiam is “The escape of a certain captive, interpreted figuratively.”
Harriet Spiegel, translator and editor, Marie de France: Fables (Toronto: the University of Toronto Press, 2000 , Introduction.
 Thomas W. Best, Reynard the Fox (Boston: J. K. Hall & Company, 1983), p. 34.
Jill Mann, “The Satiric Fiction of the Ysengrimus,” in Kenneth Varty (ed.), Reynard the Fox: Social Engagement and Cultural Metamorphoses in the Beast Epic from the Middle Ages to the Present (New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2000), p. 11.
 Ramsay Wood (reteller) and Doris Lessing (introduction), Tales of Kalila and Dimna, Classic Fables from India (Rochester Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1980), p. 252.
Jean Dufournet et Andrée Méline, traduction et introduction, Le Roman de Renart (Paris: GF-Flammarion, 1985), p. 7.
 Jean Subrenat, “Rape and Adultery: Reflected Facets of Feudal Justice in the Roman de Renart,” in Kenneth Varty, ed. Reynard the Fox:Social Engagement in the Beast Epic from the Middle Ages to the Present (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2000), pp. 17-35.
 Jean Batany, Scène et coulisses du «Roman de Renart» (Paris: Sedes, 1989), Chapitre II.
In 1450, legendary Briton William Caxton (c. 1422 – c. 1491), a merchant, a diplomat, a writer, a translator and Britain’s first printer, moved to Bruges, Belgium. At that time in history, the Franco-Flemish lands were very rich and, as I have stated several times, they were the cultural hub of Europe. As a merchant, Caxton had joined the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London of which he would become the governor.
Although Le Roman de Renart is a masterpiece of French literature, it has Flemish, German and other roots. Renart was born as Reinardus in Nivardus of Ghent’s Ysengrimus, a Latin fabliau and mock epic, and his adventures were told in several languages. Its earliest “branches” were published in c. 1171.
German Translations of the Roman de Renart
Renart was first translated by Alsatian Heinrich der Glïchezäre as “Reinhart Fuchs ” (1180) almost as soon as its first branches were published in France. Glïchezäre’s Reinhart Fuchs is the first Beast epic in the German language and “branches” of Reynard’s adventures would be retold in the German-speaking lands until Wolfgang von Goethe as Reinecke FuchsDE during the French Revolution. Goethe’s Reynard is rooted in Johann Christoph Gottsched‘s Reineke der Fuchs.
Caxton’s The History of Reynard the Fox (click) is an internet publication. It was digitized by Canadian University of Victoria professor David Badke in 2003. It is a treasure as is professor Badke’s Medieval Bestiary, which includes Reynard. David Badke used an edition published by George Routledge and Sons, in 1889. Henry Morley wrote the introduction to Caxton’s 1889 Reynard the Fox. It is a concise but very informative introduction.
As for Caxton’s Reynard the Fox, it is an incunable, or a book printed between Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press and movable type, in c. 1439, and the year 1501. Incunables have also been called “fifteeners.” From time to time, patrons asked printers to leave blank areas so the book could be somewhat illuminated or rubricated, as shown below:
The above is not the article I wanted to post as Preface to Reynard the Fox: Motifs. That post was too long which required my dividing it into several more or less independent short posts. It may be published in its entirety, but I doubt it. It would be repetitive.
I just posted a page listing most of my posts on “Feasts & Liturgy.” It is not a complete list and some posts should be edited. At times, music is removed from YouTube, which makes an update necessary. However, unless posts are listed, they are difficult to access. One needs a list, and it is under construction.
This list reflects knowledge and interest I acquired as a student of the history of music, or musicology. The Greeks developed polyphony or music in “parts,” but polyphony developed during the Middle Ages. At the moment, the main ‘parts’ are Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass (SATB). But, as polyphony developed certain composers divided music into a larger number of parts.
If the development of polyphonic music were to be given a location, one of its best lieux would be the Franco-Flemish lands, the cultural hub of Europe before the Renaissance, which began as of the Fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire, on 29 May 1453. Although the Franco-Flemish lands produced fine composers of polyphonic music, it also developed in various European countries such as France, Italian city-states, Spain…
Liturgical and Secular Music
Polyphony developed in medieval Europe, but, as we have seen, it is an invention of the Greek and is called Western Music. Music composed elsewhere had one part and it is called monophonic. The birthplace of polyphony is, for the most part, the Church. Such music is called liturgical (or sacred music) and it encompasses Motets, Masses, Hymns and many other form. The Church needed music, hence the preeminence of liturgical music in the very Christian Middle Ages and its association with the history of music.
Yet, polyphony also has secular roots, the Madrigal, in particular, songs in the mother (madre) tongue.
I look forward to completing this list and writing more on Feasts, providing some details.
The seasonal antiphon is the Alma Mater Redemptoris. There are four Marian antiphons. The Alma Mater Redemptoris will be sung until 2 February or Candlemas. The best known Alma Mater Redemptoris was composed by Palestrina (c. 1525 – February 1594).
Love to everyone ♥
Palestrina: Alma Redemptoris Mater (Julian Podger, Monteverdi Choir) – YouTube (Julian Podger, Monteverdi Choir)
It would be difficult to understand some of the plays of William Shakespeare and other works of English or French literature without taking into account such significant events as the Conquest of England, by William, Duke of Normandy, at the Battle of Hastings (1066), and the Hundred Years’ War. In the 12th century, at least two authors, Marie de France and Walter of England wrote in Anglo-Norman, and French would be used at court, and perhaps elsewhere, until the conclusion of the Hundred Years’ War.
Let us go back to the literature that followed the Battle of Hastings, fought on 4 October 1066. On that day, William, Duke of Normandy, defeated England’s King Harold (Harold Godwinson), who was killed in battle. The throne of England had been promised to William, Duke of Normandy, hence the battle. Following the Battle of Hastings, many Normans settled in England, two of whom, discussed later in this post, are important writers who penned their work in Anglo-Norman, a transitional language.
William, Duke of Normandy, defeated Harold, King of England, and became William I, King of England. But England, as a territory, remained as it was. The Normans who settled in England would soon speak a form of English.
Yet Latin and French words had been introduced into English. The word ‘curfew’ is an anglicised form of couvre-feu and jeopardy, an anglicised form of jeu parti a term used in a game resembling chess. It probably meant ‘checkmate’ or ‘échec et mat,’ from the Arabic « al cheikh mat » (see D’où vient …).
The Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Marie de France
Walter of England
The best-known Anglo-Norman author is Marie de France, a 12th-century writer whose portrait, an illumination, is featured above. The second is Walter of England (Gualterus Anglicus). His French name would have been Gaut(h)ier d’Angleterre.
Marie de France, who lived in England but was born in France, is famous for her collection of lais: the lais of Guigemar, Chevrefoil (honeysuckle), Lanval, Yonec, Laustic, and other lais. Marie also wrote a book of Æsopic fables. Her fables were ‘Æsopic,’ but as we have seen in earlier posts, Æsop’s fables originate in the SanskritPanchatantra(3rd century BCE); its Arabic retelling, Kalīlah wa Dimnah, by Ibn al-Muqaffa (750 CE), and other sources.
The Lais of Marie de France
The Lais of Marie de France are rooted in the Breton lai, and their themes are love (early courtly love), and chivalry. Breton lais reflect the literature of Ireland and countries where Gaelic is or was spoken. The origin of the word lai has not been ascertained, but whatever the meaning of lai, Marie’s works are examples of courtly love and chivalric literature. Marie de France could well be France’s first major author.
Marie’s lais can be associated with the songs of the troubadours whose native land was Provence and whose subject matter, was chivalry and courtly love. Troubadours (langue d’oc) flourished until the Black Death (1346 – 1353), the plague. In northern France, they were called trouvères and spoke langued’oil.
Walter of England also lived in England in the 12th century, following the Battle of Hastings. He wrote Æsopic fables in Anglo-Norman. The history of fables is shrouded in mystery, so Walter has been considered the ‘anonymous Neveleti,’ the 17th-century fabulist whose collection of fables, the Mythologia Æsopica, in Latin, was used by French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine. However, the attribution to an anonymous ‘Neveleti’ has been ruled false. La Fontaine used Isaac Nicholas Nevelet’s Mythologia Æsopica.
Nevertheless, Walter of England would be the author of a collection of 62 fables in verse. The “62 fables is more accurately called the verseRomulus.” (See Walter of England [Gualterus Anglicus], Wikipedia). However, this seems to be anotherfalse attribution. There was no Romulus. The medieval Æsop originated in Walter of England’s fables and elsewhere. Could it be that ‘Romulus’ meant Latin, from Rome?
John Lydgate and Robert Henryson
When English fabulist John Lydgate produced his Isopes Fabules, the first fable collection written in English, his source was long believed to be the verse Romulus, which it isn’t. As mentioned above, there was no Romulus. Lydgate’s source would probably be Walter of England’s collection of Æsop’s fables. In other words, John Lydgate’s English-language fables adapted Walter of England’s verse fables. Walter’s “The Cock and the Jewel” was used by Robert Henryson in his 15th-century Morall Fabillis, written in Scots. (See Walter of England [Gualterus Anglicus], Wikipedia).
In short, after the Battle of Hastings, Normandy or France was briefly remembered by Marie de France and Walter of England. In the 12th century, ‘Æsopic’ fables were told in Anglo-Norman, a transitional language but one that has survived in literature.
Gone are knights in shining armour and short fables. From literature written in the Anglo-Norman period, we will glimpse the literary legacy of the Hundred Years’ War, Geoffrey Chaucer. An amused public is reading the lengthy anthropomorphicRoman de Renart, while Chaucer translates at least part of the 22,000-line Roman de la Rose, an allegoricalpoem epitomising courtly love.
Sources and Resources
Four of Marie’s lais are a Project Gutenberg [EBook #46234] EN publication
Marie’s Medieval Romances and some lais are a Project Gutenberg [EBook #11417]
Jeanne, or Jehanne, was nicknamed “The Maid of Orléans,” La Pucelle d’Orléans.
The Hundred Years’ War
I have been trying to tell the story of the Hundred Years’ War waged between 1337 and 1453 and must report that it is difficult to fit such a topic in a post.
The Hundred Years’ War opposed the French House of Valois and the English House of Plantagenet, but it was an interrupted war. Basically, it was a war of succession. Eleanor of Aquitaine had married English King Edward II, after her marriage to Louis VII of France was annulled. She had failed to produce a heir to the throne of France. Only males could inherit the crown. She did not lose Aquitaine, so her descendants felt they could claim the throne of France.
Three battles were fought regarding this claim. Edward III fought the Battle of Sluys, a sea battle, on 24 June 1340. It was an English victory. Six years later, on 26 August 1346, he fought the Battle of Crécy, which was also an English victory. On 19 September 1356, Edward, the Black Prince, Edward III’s son, fought the Battle of Poitiers. It was also an English victory, but the war was not over. It had just begun.
The Black Death
The Battle of Crécy was followed by the Black Death. The Black Death, the plague, was a pandemics that took the life of an estimated 75 to 200 million Europeans. Poland was spared. The Black Death peaked in the years 1346-1353. (See Black Death, Wikipedia.)
There were other battles, which I must leave aside.
Battle of Sluys, 1340
Battle of Crécy, 1346
Edward, the Black Prince
Battle of Sluys, Chroniques de Jean Froissart
Battle of Crécy, Chroniques de Jean Froissart
Edward, the Black Prince (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
During the Caroline War, French King Charles VI (3 December 1368 – 21 October 1422) opposed the Burgundian Dukes. Charles VI of France was 11 years old when his father died (1380). The Dukes of Burgundy therefore ruled France. They were extremely powerful and wanted to reign. In 1388, Charles VI dismissed them all, which was humiliating.
However, in 1392, Charles VI went mad. He nearly killed his brother: Louis I, Duke of Orleans. As of that event, Charles VI the Beloved, le Bien-Aimé, was transformed into King Charles le Fol or le Fou, the Mad. He had long periods of sanity and therefore reigned until his death in 1422, two years after he signed the Treaty of Troyes, discussed below.
1407 – 1435 (Louis d’Orléans is assassinated by a Burgundian = a civil war)
Finally, in 1407, Louis I, Duke of Orleans, a profligate ‘prince of the blood,’ or possible heir to the kingdom of France, was assassinated by John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, the event that triggered the Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War. The Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War erupted in 1407 and lasted until 1435: 28 years. The Armagnacs were loyal to the House of Valois (Charles VI). When Joan of Arc saved France (1429), the Burgundians fought for England, or the House of Plantagenet, but Scottish troops supported the Armagnacs, the French House of Valois.
the Treaty of Troyes (1420) Charles VII is disinherited
Charles VII, of France (crowned in 1429, because of Joan of Arc)
Joan of Arc was active in 1428 – 1429, during the Lancastrian Wars (1415 – 1453), named after John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford. The war continued to oppose members of the French House of Valois and English House of Plantagenet, but the Siege of Orleans, Jeanne d’Arc’s victory, destroyed the English Kings’ hope to reign over France, but claims did not end. The matter of succession was contentious.
Emboldened by the death, by assassination, of Louis I, Duke of Orleans and by the illness of Charles VI (3 December 1368 – 21 October 1422), King Henry V of England attacked the French at Azincourt (Agincourt). Charles VI, pictured below, did not participate in the Battle of Agincourt, nor did his 12 year-old son, the future Charles VII (22 February 1403 – 22 July 1461). The Battle of Agincourt (25 October 1415), was a decisive English victory. Charles VI avoided capture. However, Charles Duke of Orleans (24 November 1394 – 5 January 1465), was taken into captivity. He was the son of Louis I, Duke of Orleans, an assassinated prince.
Catherine gave birth to a son, the future King Henry VI of England and France, on 6 December 1421. English King Henry VI never saw his son. He was on a campaign in France and died of dysentery, in 1422. Therefore, when Henry V died, in 1422, Henry VI (b.1421), still an infant, was heir to the throne of France.
Nothing so defies logic as the Treaty of Troyes (1420). French King Charles VI disinherited his son Charles VII, the rightful heir. Henry V, King of England would inherit the French throne and he had a son, Philip VI.
Our story ends with the Siege of Orleans. Given their victory at the Battle of Agincourt and by virtue of the Treaty of Troyes, the British had the upper hand. The Siege began on 12 October 1428 at Orleans, territory belonging to imprisoned Charles, Duke of Orleans. It was a protracted siege, but it was lifted by 8 May 1429.
Jeanne d’Arc entered the Siege late in the conflict, on 22 March 1429, its sixth month, and there were further delays. At first, French officials would not hear her. She was telling a tale that was difficult to believe. She was divinely-ordained to defeat the English and to take Charles VII to Reims. When, at long last, she was allowed to meet the uncrowned King Charles VII, he put own garments that did not suggest he was the King. Yet, she identified him immediately.
The siege of Orleans was lifted by 8 May 1429 and Charles VII was crowned at Reims, on 17 July 1429. Henry VI of England, was crowned King of England on 6 November 1429 and King of France on 16 December 1431, at Notre-Dame de Paris.
However, the war was lost when French King Charles VII was crowned in Reims and France was again a kingdom. Between 1422 and 1429, it had been two kingdoms.
The House of Plantagenet was not able to claim France as its rightful inheritance. The Hundred Years’ War was, to a large extent, a war of succession, but an uncommon war of succession. As unbelievable as it may seem, King Charles VI of France bequeathed France to the King of England, Philip VI, disinheriting his own son, which was treason.
As for Joan of Arc, would that Charles VII, King of France, had saved her. He may have been a coward.
January, Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wishing all of you a very Happy New Year♥
Illuminated manuscripts are the ancestors of our illustrated books. Famous examples are the Book of Kells, Les Très Riches Heures de Jean de France, Duc de Berry, and Medieval Bestiaries.
During the Middle Ages, le livre d’images (the picture book) was very popular. If one couldn’t read, the image must have been a delight. The most popular book of the Middle Ages was the Légende dorée (The Golden Legend), by Jacobus de Voragine. It was a hagiography, lives of saints and martyrs, but it outsold the Bible. The first printed Bible is the Gutenberg Bible, which I have not discussed yet.
In my post on Art in 19th-century England, I mentioned the Arts and Crafts movement, but realized that the Arts and Crafts movement had to be discussed separately. The Arts and Crafts movement grew into an international movement whose members and supporters valued the decorative arts and design. North American Mission style furniture, still a favourite in many homes, is considered an outgrowth of the Arts and Crafts movement.
The Arts and Crafts movement is sometimes viewed as a validation of the applied arts. In this regard, it has often been associated with William Blake‘s (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) rejection of the “Dark Satanic Mills,” of the industrial age, which it was to a large extent.
William Morris design adapted by Charles Fairfax, c. 1870 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Arts and Crafts movement, however, was also a precursor. It is one of the birthplaces of design and other applied arts. Moreover, because they rejected the industrial age, some members of the movement advocated socialism. Persons working in factories were looked upon as machines and made to work 60 hours a week in an unhealthy environment. Walter Crane (15 August 1845 – 14 March 1915), known mainly as a prolific illustrator, but also a member of the Arts and Crafts movement, was associated with the international Socialist movement and opposed this kind of abuse. William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was a “socialist activist.” (See William Morris, Wikipedia.)
The Red House was built in Bexleyheath (London). Morris intended it to be his permanent home, but its location was not sufficiently central. Morris therefore moved his family to the more conveniently located Bloomsbury, where he established his company, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (1861-1875), the future Morris & Co.
William Morris is not associated with Japonism, except indirectly. Walter Crane’s illustrations were Japonist, but Crane was an eclectic artist. He also designed tiles and wallpaper. As for William Morris, he epitomizes eclecticism, but he was, first and foremost, a medievalist. He and Sir Edward Burne-Jones met as students at Oxford University and were both attracted to medievalism.
Morris and Burne-Jones shared their interest in the Middle Ages with French author Victor Hugo (26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) whose Hunchback of Notre-Dame or Notre-Dame de Paris (1831) is a favourite. Morris and Burne-Jones may in fact have been influenced by Victor Hugo. Medievalism was a characteristic of French Romanticism as was exoticism, such as orientalism.
Hugo’s Les Orientales(1829) is an example of orientalism. So are many of Jean-Léon Gérôme‘s (11 May 1824 – 10 January 1904) paintings, a few of which I have used in recent posts. Gérôme was an académicien at about the time académiciens started to fall into disrepute.
When I started rewriting this post, I looked up the entry “Daniel Rabel,” in Wikipedia to get information on the “grotesque” in 17th-century France. The grotesque is associated with the Middle Ages: Quasimodo (the hunchback), gargoyles, misericords, but it resurfaces. I have written posts on stage and costume designer Daniel Rabel‘s “grotesque” ballets de cour. These will be listed separately.
Allow me to finish The Red House. I had nearly forgotten writing about Daniel Rabel, but I remember the Red House.