Froissart’s Chronicles: Selections from The Great Wars of England and France by Jean Froissart

The full version of Chronicles has been sitting in my wish list for a dog’s age, and I finally ordered it this morning, inspired by my buddy read on The Hundred Years War.  Then, on a whim, I perused Audible and found this audio version of selections from this work.

For those not in the know, Jean Froissart was a French contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer.  He wrote a body of poetic work, but he’s most known for being a court historian and author of his Chronicles, which is essentially a firsthand recording of the chivalric deeds of what would later be called The Hundred Years War.  In short, this guy was “Ye Olde War Correspondent.”  The work he produced was so influential that the books of his Chronicles were often expensively reproduced in the form of illuminated manuscripts.

The scope of the Chronicles covers some 75 years, from the accession of Edward III to the deposition of Richard II and crowning of Henry IV.  As I say, this version is not nearly the complete work, but it’s interesting to have a taste of these tales in audio format.  Within are found battlefield accounts, a wedding, the madness of Charles VI as he attacks his own people, and my personal favorite, an account of a peaceful joust between the English and the French wherein the horses of the knights actually collide… twice.

This might seem a little dry in places to the average reader, and there is a roll call of who’s who that will leave the uninitiated scratching their heads, but the actual accounts of who-did-what-to-whom are magnificent.  To a medievalist like myself, it’s criminal that I waited so long to dive in.

And now I have a new quest.  I desperately want a copy of this book with the illuminations.  Seriously, look them up.  They’re beautiful.

5 stars

froissarts-chronicles

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