Reading list


This post is going to be somewhat offbeat, having nothing whatsoever to do with WMA or the school, at least on the surface. It is tangentially related, since in my research for the Jeu de la Hache book, I came across a wealth of period sources that I read only to extract the essentials of what I was looking for as it related to the book.

Now that’s over, I’m going to enrich my mind by going back to read the ensemble of French Chronicles from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Beginning the Jehan le Bel, moving to Jehan Froissart (who copied portions of le Bel’s chronicle verbatim – a common practice of the period) and ending with Enguerrand de Monstrelet who is widely regarded as the successor to Froissart. Rounding out this trio is Mathieu d’Escouchy who continued the work of Monstrelet. This gives us a timeline stretching from the 1320’s into the 1460’s, a 140 year stretch of time, and no small feat to read in Middle French.

Rounding out this series of chronicles, I’ll delve into the works of Jehan Le Fèvre de St. Rémy, chronicler to the Duke of Burgundy (much of whose work is copied from Monstrelet), as well as the works of Georges de Chastellain, disputed co-author of the Livre des faits de Jaques de Lalain.

Added to these sources will be the memoirs of Jaques du Clercq, son of an advisor to Phillip the Good. His memoirs chronicle daily life in Arras, as well as the retaking of Normandy and the fall of Constantinople. Also on the reading list is the history of René d’Anjou, the chronicles of the good knight Gilles de Chin, the memoirs of Olivier de la Marche, the memoirs of Phillip de Commines and finally the memoirs of the travels of Bertrandon de Broquières, who travelled to Outremer and wrote of the customs and politics there at the behest of Phillip the Good.

This is a goodly piece of reading, not the least because it is in medieval french. Why undertake such a huge reading list?

Because I can.

The wealth of knowledge and the depth of understanding of the lives of the men who formed Europe as we know it today is irresistible to me. Tales of jousts and pas d’armes of all types, day to day life, all these things will give me a greater understanding of how the Art I try to revive was practised in context by these, our forefathers. No movie can give you that kind of understanding, no matter how entertaining, and no history course can fill your mind with the images evoked in the pages of these chronicles.

I figure I’ve got for the better part of six months to a year’s reading to do, so I may as well get to it. I’ll get back to you on how it went…