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13.09.05, Chazan, Lettres, Musique et Société en Lorraine Médiévale

13.09.05, Chazan, Lettres, Musique et Société en Lorraine Médiévale

In 2007, a group of lucky scholars met in Metz, France, to discuss and celebrate the French work called the Tournoi de Chauvency, by Jacques Bretel. Fortunately, Chazan and Regalado have published the acts of this conference, so that readers, albeit at a distance, can participate in the discussions and festivities. The meeting had remarkable unity and focus, and the Acts allow us to continue the scholarly discussions that centered on events in 1285 Metz.

The preface by John W. Baldwin sets the scene, the historian considering works of literature as a means of understanding historical context. Baldwin takes into account a number of works in addition to the Tournoi, including the Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal, Jean Renart's Roman de la Rose or Guillaume de Dole, and Gerbert de Montreuil's Roman de la violette, all cited to put the Tournoi in its context. Baldwin demomstrates how an historian can use literary works to advance historical study.

The Introduction by Chazan and Regalado works as an introduction should, summarizing the contents. The editors also share an element of the conference that is not fully included, the concert by Anne Azéma; as Chazan and Regalado say, "Les interprètes d'aujourd'hui font revivre à une autre échelle et avec d'autres moyens le récit d'une fête courtoise" (33).

The first section of the book is subheaded "Le manuscrit Douce 308: Textes, illustrations, bibliothèques"; its articles discuss these elements directly. First is Michel Zink's "'On connaît la chanson.' Des échos familiers: chansons insérées et accent alsacien dans Le Tournoi de Chauvency." Zink sees the songs in the Tournoi and the mockery of foreigners as elements of daily life. He connects the use of quoted songs to the troubadour tradition (38); he sees the use of foreign speech as sympathetic, unlike in works such as Jehan et Blonde, where the foreigner's accent is distinctly a negative (42).

Somewhat different is Nancy Freeman Regalado's "Les Ailes des chevaliers et l'ordre d'Oxford, Bodl. ms Douce 308." One of Regalado's important points is the need to look at the entire manuscript, not just the section that contains the Tournoi--a statement true (though often forgotten) for the study of any medieval text. The Douce 308 miniatures frequently show knights with wings; Regalado seeks to understand this image and suggests the wings serve two purposes, secular and symbolic. Her implied conclusion calls for publication of a facsimile of the entire manuscript, so that twenty-first-century readers could see the volume in its entirety. The essay by Mary Atchison dovetails well with that of Regalado, as Atchison offers a codicological study of two of the manuscripts of the Tournoi (the second manuscript is in Mons, Bibl. centrale de l'Université de Mons-Hainaut, ms. 330-215). She argues that the Douce illustrations explain many of the changes made to the copied text. Though Atchison does not say so explicitly, one senses her calling for a new critical edition of the Tournoi, perhaps following the principles used by Rupert T. Pickens in his edition of Jaufre Rudel. Such an edition would be very long, but would present the Tournoi in all its medieval variations.

Michel Margue's comparison, "Voeux du paon et Voeux de l'épervier: l'empereur et ses 'meilleurs chevaliers' dans la culture courtoise entre Metz, Bar et Luxembourg (début XIVe siècle)" parallels Baldwin's essay. Margue sees the two works of his title as demonstrative of the position of Metz at the beginning of the fourteeenth century: a city with cultural and political ties to both the French- and German-speaking worlds. His description of the Douce manuscript is masterful: "une compilation savamment construite autour du thème de l'amour courtois, décliné dans le passé (les Voeux du paon), le présent (notamment le Tournoi de Chauvency et le Chansonnier) et le futur (notamment l'Apocalypse et le Tournoi Antecrist)" (111). Jean-Marie Privat continues with "Les Voeux du paon ou la roue des signes," pointing to the elements of parody in the Voeux and emphasizing the carnavalesque elements.

Allison Stones' discussion of Metz as an important art center is a significant contribution. In "Le Contexte artistique du Tournoi de Chauvency," Stones demonstrates her familiarity with a tremendous number of manuscripts; she uses 51 black-and-white illustrations and color plates to demonstrate the scope of the Metz school of artists.

The contribution by Mireille Chazan, "Littérature et histoire dans les bibliothèques des patriciens messins à la fin du Moyen Âge," explores the intellectual milieu in fifteenth-century Metz, when the city was under strong Burgundian influence. She suggests that Douce 308 represents the taste of Metz's wealthier citizens, who enjoyed learned and didactic verse (218). Chazan relates their interest in history to a desire to justify their social position, their control of the town, and its position as a free city in the Holy Roman Empire (231).

The second section of the volume, "Le Tournoi de Chauvency, société et culture en Lorraine médiévale," discusses tournaments in general and the event that was the Tourney of Chauvency itself. The first article, by Michel Parisse, "Naissance et développement du tournoi chevaleresque," was disappointing, hardly linked to the other contributions and offering little, if anything, new to scholars. In contrast, Laurence Delobette's article, "La noblesse comtoise au Tournoi de Chauvency," offers careful identification of one group of knights who participated in the event. Delobette demonstrates that Jacques Bretel had incomplete data on the participants. Delobette suggests that Bretel was careful in his selection of participants for the literary tourney, "des chevaliers bourguignons...choisis par le poète pour incarner les valeurs célébrées par les grands à Chauvency, dans les combats comme durant les fêtes qui les suivent" (266). This essay is very well argued and documented, though a family tree or two would have made more clear the ties between individuals discussed.

Jean-Christophe Blanchard's title describes well his topic: "'Pour ce qu'il suet parler a moi d'armes et chevalier' Hérauts et héraldique dans le Tournoi de Chauvency." The article demonstrates the historical accuracy of Jacques Bretel's text, specifically with regard to the multiple professional roles of the herald. When the herald announces an individual, this cri d'armes serves to link knights to their parties. Heralds also reported the action to the crowd (277), explaining what was happening to those off the field. Though Bretel's objective was not necessarily to glorify heralds, he succeeded in doing so, celebrating their knowledge of arms and their skills at announcing combatants (280). Blanchard concludes with recognition of the importance of the Tournoi de Chauvency and the Douce manuscript for our knowledge of the activities of thirteenth-century heralds. He provides an appendix, listing participants in the Tourney, with their calls to arms and coats of arms, useful material not only for Bretel's text but also for anyone studying these topics. In possible response to Blanchard's article is "Les Hérauts, les ménestrels et Jacques Bretel dans le Tournoi de Chauvency" by Silvère Menegaldo, who observes that the late thirteenth century was a period when minstrels and heralds were in competition over their respective roles (310). Menegaldo says that the distinction suggested in the Tournoi, "l'aptitude à la composition poétique, à l'écriture, aptitude qui permet aux seuls ménestrels de se faire figurer dans des textes," which is the significant difference (314). He concludes that Jacques Bretel's text criticizes heralds and praises minstrels such, that Jacques must have been one of the latter (317).

The next essay, "Identité royale et joutes: Charles VII aux fêtes de Nancy (février 1445)," by Colette Beaune is not as closely linked to Metz, the Douce manuscript or the Tourney at Chauvency as others. However, Beaune's focus on Charles VII allows us the understand how jousts were used to affirm power, both of the host and of the participants. She recognizes the importance of these social events to unite a court around its ruler and to serve as public relations events. Pierre Pegeot's essay is much more local: "Joutes messines." The author discusses jousts that took place in medieval Metz; the piece has mostly local interest. Of greater import is Jean-Michel Mehl's "Les Jeux de société princiers." Melh surveys medieval games, opening with a theoretical discussion before turning to games that medieval nobles might play, notably the game of "le roi qui ne ment," a variation on "Twenty Questions," though with a focus on love. Pegeot suggests that this game may exist only in medieval literary works (349), but I find that hard to believe. He concludes with the role of games in the life of a prince, observing that "Il ne suffit pas d'être prince, il faut le montrer" (354) and that games helped in this demonstration, making medieval nobility early examples of the leisure class, engaged in the same sort of conspicuous consumption described by Veblen (354).

In "Le Théâtre à Metz à l'époque de François le Gronnais (env. 1450-1525)," by Christine Reutenauer-Corti, we move to a different space. The author gives us a detailed history of late medieval Metz drama. Particularly impressive is the reconstruction of fifteenth-century theatrical space (see drawings, 367-8, 372). Reutenauer-Corti also provides a list of all theatrical events in Metz between the years 1450 to 1550, presented in a superb chart (390-95) that provides the date and place of performance, the title of the work, the language of production, the director, if known, the names of actors where known, the reason for the production and an estimated number of spectators. Based on this detailed study, she concludes that Metz theater was supported by the bourgeoisie and that theater was a fundamental element in civic cohesion (389). Any scholar of medieval theater will want to consult this essay in the future.

The third section of the volume is devoted to "Chansonniers messins et musique en Lorraine médiévale." Given that the Douce manuscript has a large section devoted to Old French lyrics of various genres, the relevance of this section is obvious. Here, Ardis Butterfield discusses "The Musical Contexts of Le Tournoi de Chauvency in Oxford, Bodleian Douce 308." Butterfield addresses the musical context of Jacques Bretel's work, itself filled with musical references. She suggests that thirteenth-century composers thought in terms of "small, interlocking elements, not...large single conceits" (417) and includes exceedingly useful tables of concordances to the Tournoi's musical citations, notably to lyrics found in other sections of the Douce manuscript. Samuel N. Rosenberg's contribution, "Le Tournoi de Chauvency et le chansonnier du ms. Douce 308 reliés par le chant," interacts neatly with Butterfield's. Rosenberg suggests that Jacques Bretel inserted newly created lyrics into the Tournoi, thereby adding luster to Bretel's reputation as a poet. He notes that recognition of the complete lyrics set into the Tournoi leads to a better understanding of the Douce manuscript, a bridge between two large parts of the same codex (432).

In "The Douce 308 Chansonnier within the Corpus of Trouvère Songbooks," Eglal Doss-Quinby offers a restatement of her earlier and important work (see, especially, Doss-Quinby, Rosenberg, Aubrey, eds., The Old French Ballette: Oxford, Bodleian Library Douce 308). While not offering much that is new, the summary is an important contribution in the context of this volume.

Of a very different nature is Robert Lug's "Politique et littérature à Metz autour de la Guerre des amis (1231-1234). Le témoignage du Chansonnier de Saint-Germain-des-Prés." Lug has devoted much of his career to this songbook, compiled in Metz several generations before Douce 308. His essay allows readers to learn of civic and literary politics in a period fifty years before the Tourney of Chauvency. For Lug, local politics was a strong motivation for the creation of songbooks. A nice counterpart to Lug's contribution is that of Gérard LeVot, "Les chants courtois relatifs aux croisades dans le chansonnier de Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Paris, BNF fr. 20050)." LeVot calls for more research on this chansonnier and others (498); he offers careful consideration of the evidence with a laudable hesitancy to draw firm conclusions. Noteworthy is his recognition of "une certain autonomie d'une tradition de chant en Lorraine" (500). LeVot also reminds us, "Ne mélangeons pas dans l'approche rhétorique, deux perspectives fort différentes: comment chantait-on au Moyen Age? Et comment chanter ces chants aujourd'hui?" (504). He documents his essay with four musical examples and detailed information on the crusade lyrics in the Saint-Germain manuscript.

David Fallows's "Josquin Desprez and René of Anjou" seems to continue an ongoing debate between the author and Joshua Rifkin. Yes, René was in Lorraine in 1445, but other obvious links to the topics of this volume escaped this reviewer.

The last section of the book "Hier et aujourd'hui" moves in a very different direction. The only essay here is by Anne Azéma, "'D'amour, d'armes et de joie est ma matière,' l'interprète et son texte." Well-regarded as a musician and interpreter of medieval song, Azéma describes her efforts to recreate something of the Tournoi de Chauvency. For example, consulting the Douce manuscript, she recognized that "Toutes ces mentions lyriques dans le texte lui-même créent une fresque musicale, dont le son est partie intégrante" (534). Azéma continues, "le but du poète n'est pas seulement de nous éduquer, de nous édifier, mais d'encourager chants et danses de façon à ce que son public se sente appelé à participer au moment musical et chorégraphique" (535). She admits that her interpretation of the work may no longer belong to Jacques, "Nous donnons ainsi jour à un 'Tournoi de Chauvency' qui n'est plus celui de Jacques Bretel" (536). As an appendix, Azéma includes what might pass for the script of her production, "Le Tournoi de Chauvency" (available on DVD and downloadable).

As complementary material, the volume includes a list of manuscripts cited (549-555), another example of the breadth of research contained in the book. There is also an Index of names and works mentioned in the essays.

Chazan, Regalado and the Librairie Droz merit much for including in this volume numerous charts, diagrams, musical examples, black-and-white illustrations and seventeen color plates, fifteen of which are from Douce 308. It is hard to find anything to criticize, though I would have preferred that author's names appear on the first page of each essay, rather than at the end. The typographic and bibliographic errors spotted were relatively few and are likely the responsibility of individual authors who did not proofread carefully, rather than the fault of the editors or the press.

This volume is important for anyone who would study medieval lyric, narrative, history and/or music. Ardis Butterfield's observation on what medievalists do, "We match up the written evidence that we know is patchwork and incomplete and the performance context that we know is the 'real thing' we are looking for but for which finally there is no evidence as such," (400) serves as an apt concluding phrase. We have been given a sense of thirteenth-century Metz, its residents, local interest in music and literature, and the place of Metz in the medieval world. It is a patchwork, but one that the editors and contributors have sewn together well.