Chronique de la Pucelle

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The Chronique de la Pucelle or Chronique de Cousinot was composed by Guillaume Cousinot (1400-1484), seigneur de Montreuil, the son of Guillaume Cousinot (d. circa 1442) who was chancellor to Louis I, Duke of Orléans. The younger Cousinot is a major contemporary source for the episode of the Hundred Years' War that featured the career of Joan of Arc.

The careers of father and son were separated, and the two were identified in the 19th century as uncle and nephew by Auguste Vallet de Viriville (1815-1868), assistant-professor at the École des chartes, who published the Chronique in 1859; however, a few years later, the two Guillaume Cousinot were correctly identified as father and son by Jules Doinel (1842-1902), archivist at the departmental archives of the Loiret in Orléans.

The father, Guillaume I Cousinot, was a distinguished lawyer (avocat) at the Parlement de Paris at the beginning of the fifteenth century. In 1408, he was selected by Valentina Visconti, Duchess of Orléans to defend the memory of her late husband Louis I de Valois, Duke of Orléans, assassinated the previous year by Jean sans Peur, Duke of Burgundy. Cousinot rose to the occasion and became a chief counsellor to the House of Orléans, for which his worldly goods were confiscated during the eclipse of the Orléans faction by Jean sans Peur. Shortly before the Battle of Agincourt, Charles d'Orléans, who was taken captive by the English at Agincourt, appointed Cousinot his chancellor. Cousinot administered the affairs of the duchy during Charles' 24-year captivity in England. Eventually Charles VII compensated Cousinot for his losses with lands in Beauce and an hôtel particulier, the hôtel du Grand-Saint-Martin in Orléans.

The elder Guillaume Cousinot was the author of the Geste des Nobles, an historical survey that begins with the distant, legendary origins of France, and gains historical credibility with the reign of John II of France, then carries the career of Joan of Arc as far as Troyes, where the narrative breaks off suddenly and inexplicably before the coronation of Charles VII.

The younger Guillaume Cousinot studied at the University of Orléans and, in the footsteps of his father, was a counsellor to the king, maÎtre des requêtes in the king's household and, in 1442, the first president of the Conseil delphinal, the future Parlement of Dauphiné. He bought the seigneurie of Montreuil, near Vincennes. An administrator and trusted diplomat of Charles VII and of his son Louis XI, his career was even more prominent than that of his father. He was taken prisoner by the English after an embassy to Scotland, and was ransomed by Charles VII.

The Chronique de la Pucelle was first published in 1661, as an anonymous work, by the historian and archivist Denis Godefroy (1615-1681). Its 19th century editor, Vallet de Viriville, kept the original title.

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