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The Chivalric Biography of Boucicaut, Jean II Le Meingre
von Craig Taylor
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Jean le Meingre, Mar℗♭Ứchal Boucicaut (1364-1421), was the very flower of chivalry. From his earliest years at the royal court in Paris, he distinguished himself in knightly pursuits: sorties against seditious French nobles, ceremonial jousts against the English enemy, crusading in Tunisia and Prussia, the composition of courtly verses, and the establishment of a chivalric order for the defence of ladies, the Order of the Enterprise of the White Lady of the Green Shield. He was named Marshal of France at the age of only 27.
His chivalric biography, finished in 1409, is one of the most important accounts of the life of a knight from the Middle Ages. Whilst full of praise, it is also highly partisan and carefully selective; it glosses over the darker, much less successful, side of his career - in particular his participation in the catastrophic Nicopolis crusade (1396) and his governorship of Genoa, which came to an end shortly after the completion of the biography, when a rebellion forced him to leave the city, five years before his capture at the battle of Agincourt in 1415 and death in England in 1421.
This first English translation makes available to a wider audience a text that sheds light on the history of France, on crusading in Prussia and the Mediterranean, and on the complicated politics of Italy and the papacy during the Great Schism. It is a highly important contribution to our understanding of chivalric mentalities and attitudes in late-medieval France. It is presented with an introduction and notes.
Dr Craig Taylor is Reader in Medieval History at the University of York; Jane H.M. Taylor is Emeritus Professor of French at Durham University.
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