Froissart's Chronicles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The execution of Hugh the younger Despenser, a miniature from one of the better-known manuscripts of the Chronicles.

Froissart's Chronicles (or Chroniques) were written in French by Jean Froissart, chronicling the Hundred Years' War from the reign of Edward III until 1400. For centuries the Chronicles have been recognized as the chief expression of the chivalric revival of 14th-century England and France.


Froissart first wrote a rhyming chronicle for Philippa of Hainault that is now lost, which he offered to the queen in 1361 or 1362. He began Book I of the surviving chronicle, possibly after 1369, at the insistence of Robert de Namur. The main source for the early part of the chronicles were the Vrayes Chroniques of Jean Le Bel, of which Froissart directly copied large parts. Le Bel wrote his chronicle for Jean, lord of Beaumont. Jean's grandson, Guy II, Count of Blois later became the main patron of Book II of Froissart's Chronicles.

Froissart's own experiences, combined with those of interviewed witnesses, supply much of the detail of the later books. Froissart was an eyewitness to the events of the Siege of Paris. Although Froissart may never have been in a battle, he visited Sluys in 1386 to see the preparations for an invasion of England. He was present at other significant events such as the baptism of Richard II.

The second book of Froissart's Chronicles was completed in 1388 and is entirely Froissart's work. Book III was completed in 1390 and Book IV in 1400.


Some of the important events recorded in Froissart's Chronicles: Book I 1322–1377

The Battle of Sluys in the Gruuthuse MS.

Book II 1376–1385

Book III 1386–1388

Book IV 1389–1400


Froissart's work is perceived as being of vital importance to modern understanding of 14th century events. However, modern historians also recognize that his Chronicles contain many shortcomings: erroneous dates, misplaced geography, inaccurate estimations of casualties, and biases in favor of his patrons. He also omits information about the common people of the time. Sir Walter Scott once remarked that Froissart had "marvelous little sympathy" for the "villain churls." The Chronicles are almost 1.5 million words long.[1] Few modern complete editions are published. Froissart is often repetitive or covers insignificant subjects. Nevertheless, his battle descriptions are lively and engaging; he provides a wealth of information for the social historian. Enguerrand de Monstrelet continued the chronicle to 1440.

The text of Froissart's Chronicles is preserved in more than 100 manuscripts which are illustrated by a variety of miniaturists. One of the most lavishly illuminated copies was commissioned by Louis of Gruuthuse, a Flemish nobleman, in the 1470s. The four volumes of this copy (BNF, Fr 2643-6) contain 112 miniatures painted by the best Brugeois artists of the day. Among them is Loiset Lyédet, to whom the miniatures in the first two volumes are attributed. The illustrations here come from this copy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Croenen, Godfried. "Online Froissart". HRIOnline. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 

External links and literature[edit]