Anna Roberts

title.none: Cauchies, ed., A La Cour de Bourgogne (Roberts)

identifier.other: baj9928.0004.010 00.04.10

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Anna Roberts, Miami University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2000

identifier.citation: Cauchies, Jean-Marie. A La Cour de Bourgogne: Le Duc, Son Entourage, Son Train. Burgundica I. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1998. Pp. 170. ISBN: 2-503-50650-X.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 00.04.10

Cauchies, Jean-Marie. A La Cour de Bourgogne: Le Duc, Son Entourage, Son Train. Burgundica I. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1998. Pp. 170. ISBN: 2-503-50650-X.

Reviewed by:

Anna Roberts
Miami University

Th is volume opens a new series, Burgundica, devoted to works on Burgundian golden age (14th-16th centuries). The series aims at presenting sound scholarship which may be of interest to a wider public, and at increasing the visibility of Burgundian studies among Medieval and Renaissance historians. The series and volume editor is Jean-Marie Cauchies, director of the European Center of Burgundian Studies.

All the articles reprinted here were presented at the Center's annual meetings, and appeared previously in the acts of these colloquia published by the Center, Publication du Centre europeen d'etudes bourguignonnes (XIVe-XVie s.) 28 (1988) and 31-34 (1991-94), also edited by Cauchies. Some articles present dissertation work (licence and other). The volume is a means to gather articles concerning the court, an institution once central to the understanding of the period (Huizinga), but which has not been the theme of annual meetings since 1983. These were focused instead on the relationships between Burgundy and other political entities, on law, literature, religion, war, etc.

The studies mostly present a reading of the documents organized around a topic, but sometimes also address previous research and call for a change of optic on specialized points. The volume presents a latent theoretical orientation, aligned with the renewed interest in the study of power--now emphasizing its social construction and public deployment. Among the topics explored are protocol, feasts, courtiers, books, construction, and triumphal entries. Each contribution is briefly evoked in the introduction. All the articles are in French.

A longer version of Werner Paravicini's article, "Structure and Functioning of the Burgundian Court in Fifteenth Century" appeared in English as "The Court of the Dukes of Burgundy: A Model for Europe?", in R.G. Ash and A. M. Birke, ed., Princes, Patronage and the Nobility: The Court at the Beginning of the Modern Age (Oxford, 1991), 69-102. The article, based on the complementary testimony of accounts and memoirs, shows the distribution of duties and privileges across different strata of courtiers, in five categories identified as the court's main functions: daily routines, security of the prince, pomp, socialization of the elite, and administration.

Eric Bousmar's "The Place of Men and Women in Burgundian Courtly Feasts (Philip the Good--Charles the Bold)" draws on his doctoral thesis (unpublished, Les rappports hommes/femmes dans les Pays-Bas bourguignons (ca. 1440-ca. 1510). Aspects anthropologiques, culturels et politiques, 2 vols., Universite catholique de Louvain, 1997). The article is rich in examples and pertinent new questions. Through accounts of ceremonies and jousts, the article explores gender roles and their modeling and reinforcement through enactment in courtly festivities, and metaphorization in the texts produced for or about these festivities. The critical framework is somewhat external to the discussion, and the references to feminism second-hand, but the article invites one to examine the thesis.

Monique Somme studies accounts and memoirs to trace the ceremonies of birth and death of children at court (two accounts concerning Philip the Good's sons are annexed). The accounts allow one to reconstruct in great detail the purchases, decor, personnel (courtiers and servants), and other expenses (alms etc.) accompanying these events. This article is among the most precise in the volume, in its recreation of the material life of the court.

Francis Rapp examines the relationship between the court and the University as the milieu from which administrators and lawyers were recruited. Rapp notes a wide range of instances of specialization and professionalism, including the appearence of Customaries, the role of elite university centers (Bologna, Orleans), and foundation and fortunes of local universities (Louvain, Dole, Besancon). On the other hand, Rapp evokes the social and dynastic context of legal careers, pointing out that they preserved rather than created family wealth. Rapp insists that the patronage model is most appropriate in describing the relationship between the court and elite jurists, whose aspirations were identical to those of the nobility. Since the study is based on Rapp's admirable knowledge of the milieu (genealogies and connections between the elite jurists), and on the court's records concerning the universities, the conclusion appears inevitable.

Christian de Borchgrave presents rapidly but clearly the Burgundian diplomacy (1404-1419), including such details as the ratio of envoys to missions, and the list of "elite diplomats" and their specialized geographical assignments. The article summarizes the memoire de licence published in 1992 (Diplomaten en diplomatie onder hertog Jan zonder Vrees..., Kortrijk-Heule, UGA, vol. 1, and Brussels, Algemeen Rijksarchief, vol. 2).

Myriam Cheyns-Conde traces the presence of manuscripts of the "Trojan epic" in the Burgundian court library in the fifteenth century. The article summarizes the medieval tradition: Latin sources of Benoit de Sainte-Maure's poem (ca. 1184), Guido delle Colonne's Latin prose version (second half of the 13th c), and its French translations and versions, including Raoul Lefevre's compilation for Philip the Good (Recueil des Troyennes Histoires, 1464) (a full discussion can be found in the modern editions of the French text--Emmanuele Baumgartner's edition of the poem, 1987, and Faral and Constans's edition of the prose, 1922). The description of the manuscripts and their content, of manuscripts no longer extant, and of the patronage context of Caxton's English printed versions (1476 and later; this part also includes references to recent research), forms a dense picture of the tradition of this major work. The article is followed by a diagram of the textual history, and fragments of Caxton's Prologue and Epilogue with a modern French translation (the English edited by N.-S. Aurner, Mirrour of Fifteenth-Century Letters..., 1926, repr. 1965), and 11 black-and-white illustrations.

Graeme Small examines the readership of George Chastelain's Chronique. Influential in the Burgundian court as a poet and writer of short prose texts on political events, he is now rather associated with his unfinished chronicle. Small evokes the references to the Chronique, noting that it was read but did not impact other historical works. Small concludes that the limited use of the chronicle by aristocratic patrons, assisted by the compilation efforts of the illegitimate son of Chastelain, Gonthier, and his courtly patrons, led to some interest in the Chronique, but also to the dispersion of the long work into more easily digestible fragments.

Jean-Pierre Sosson revisits the city accounts of Bruges (Archives de la Ville for the 14th c, also in Brussels, Archives generales du royaume, Chambre des Comptes, for the 15th). Sosson applies his extensive knowledge of Bruges' artisanal and enterpreneurial networks, to the study of the relationship between the ducal and the city construction orders. He concludes that big contractors were involved only if the city had no major construction projects, contrasting especially the period 1395-1396 (when the contracts with the duke represent only some 10% of the city's construction budget), and 1439-1448, when there are no major city projects.

Jean-Marie Cauchies and Wim Blockmans focus on triumphal entries, both reconstructing these occasions (from communal and ducal sources, including texts of sermons, printed propaganda, accounts, memoirs and chronicles), and defining their functions. Both authors emphasize the continuing importance of entries in the elaboration of political unity. This is in contrast to studies which interpret lesser frequency and cost of the entries under the Habsburgs as signs of their decreasing importance, indicative of a shift from a "feudal" towards an "absolutist" model.

The richness of the culture is palpable in these pages, some articles present new documents, and they represent a variety of styles and research interests (from power and economic negotiations between dukes and communes, to gender roles). On the whole, the volume is rather uniform. There could be a great tension, for instance, between Paravicini's Weberian model and Bousmar's "study of the feast as a manifestation of collective psychology," but as the orientation of the volume is not at all theoretical, this and other differences are much less perceptible.