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Jean Froissart

Froissart, Jean (zhäN frəwäsärˈ) [key], c.1337–1410?, French chronicler, poet, and courtier, b. Valenciennes. Although ordained as a priest, he led a worldly life. He became a protégé of Queen Philippa of England, visited the court of David II of Scotland, and accompanied (1366) Edward the Black Prince on the campaign in Gascony. He also traveled widely in the Low Countries and in Italy. In the south of France he saw the brilliant court of Gaston III of Foix, and he later described it in a famous passage. Nothing is known of his life after 1404: his death date is traditionally 1410. His chronicle, continuing that of Jean le Bel, canon of Liège, covers the history of Western Europe from the early 14th cent. to 1400, roughly the first half of the Hundred Years War. In literary merit Froissart's chronicle far surpasses similar efforts in any European language. He described events with brilliance and gusto, and his sympathy was with the established order—or disorder—of his time. His highly partisan spirit and disregard for accuracy limit the value of his chronicle as pure history, yet few historians have so successfully brought an era to life. The chronicle remains a superb portrait of contemporary society. Apart from a tedious romance, Méliador, Froissart's poetry is charming and light; it somewhat influenced Chaucer, whom Froissart probably knew personally. The standard English translation (1523–25) of the chronicles by John Bourchier, Lord Berners, is available in many editions.

See study by R. M. Smith (1965).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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