Corps de l’article

In De sui ipsius et multorum ignorantia, Petrarch compares commentators to grave robbers who chose to feast on materials from previous authors, rather than dare to write their own.[*][1] Reflecting on the art of writing through the ages, he particularly criticizes the practices of compilation, collection and commentary, which he associates with the “Dark Ages”.[2] Petrarch highlights a fundamental principle of medieval writing: reading is the cornerstone of the act of writing.[3] Biblical exegesis, textual commentaries, historical and encyclopedic compilations, collections of exempla, sermons, songs or narratives, and so forth, are all based on the activity of, firstly, reading material, and secondly, collecting and assembling chosen pieces. Moreover, the process of reading and collecting is also part of the production of manuscripts: scribes often copied texts together to maximize parchment use, and texts were frequently bound together to reduce production costs.

As the textual history of a large number of medieval texts includes compilation and collection,[4] the process warrants investigation. What happens to a text when it is used in a medieval compilation? How is it modified, condensed, reinterpreted, and transformed? What is the impact of the material form of the text on the reader? How does the compiler read and alter the text? This article will explore these questions, focusing on the case of the integration of the Chroniques of Jean Froissart (c.1337- c.1405) into the historical compilation of Jean de Wavrin (c.1399- c.1473), the Anchiennes cronicques d’Engleterre.[5] The study of the transmission and transformation of an episode of the Chroniques, the Flemish urban revolt of 1379-1385, known to historians as the Ghent Wars (Book II), in manuscript context will shed light on the complex relationship between the two texts,[6] but also on the compiling method used by Wavrin and his interventions on his source. The Anchiennes cronicques d’Engleterre have attracted far less scholarly attention than the Chroniques of Froissart, and an overview of their genesis and circulation is necessary before going any further.

In the shadow of the Court of Burgundy: Jean de Wavrin and his Compilation

The Dukes of Burgundy are well known for their outstanding libraries, and their artistic and literary patronage.[7] They had a particular interest in historiography: they retained Georges Chastellain and Jean Molinet as their indiciaires, or official court historians,[8] commissioned lavishly illuminated chronicles and compilations to scribes such as David Aubert and Jean Wauquelin, and greatly influenced Philippe de Commynes and Olivier de La Marche in writing their memoirs.[9] Jean de Wavrin, a comparatively far less known figure of this historiographical milieu at the court of Burgundy, is the author of an extensive historical compilation known as the Anchiennes cronicques d’Engleterre or the Recueil des chroniques et anchiennes istoires de la Grant Bretaigne, à present nommé Engleterre.

Jean de Wavrin, lord of Forestel, bastard son of Robert VII of Wavrin, spent most of his life in association with the court of Burgundy. He participated in numerous military expeditions on the Burgundian and the English sides during the years 1415-1437: Agincourt, the crusade against Prague in 1421, the 1436 siege of Calais, and others. He was then legitimized and knighted, as well as appointed chamberlain and councilor to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy. In the 1460s, he participated in various embassies (Rome, 1463; Hainault, 1464; England, 1467).[10]

Wavrin may have started to gather materials for his compilation as early as 1446; he most probably had access to the ducal library.[11] William Hardy posits that Wavrin’s first literary attempt was an account of the 1444-46 crusading expedition of the Burgundian fleet to Constantinople and the Black Sea led by his nephew Waleran de Wavrin; later on he may have revised have revised and incorporated the account into volume VI of his compilation (book VI, chapters 2-19; Hardy, Recueil I, xlii). In 1455, Wavrin had completed a first redaction of his Anchiennes chronicques d’Engleterre, which at the time comprised four volumes, each divided equally into six books. This first draft narrated the history of England from the legendary origins of Albion to the death of King Henry IV of Lancaster in 1413. It also included a prologue dedicating the work to Waleran de Wavrin, and recalling discussions between uncle and nephew about history writing (Hardy Recueil I, 1-2).[12] . Two more volumes were added from 1469 onwards, covering the years 1413-1471, and closing with the restoration of King Edward IV of York to the throne of England.

Wavrin’s compilation emerged in a context that was particularly favorable to history writing.[13] Prose versions of ancient verse epics and romances were produced at the court of Burgundy. From 1440, Philip the Good acquired or commissioned histories of the different lands that he possessed (the duchy of Burgundy, county of Flanders, county of Hainault, counties of Holland and Zeeland, as well as Brabant). In 1455, he nominated Georges Chastellain to the post of indiciaire or official historian of the court of Burgundy, and favored works that focused on contemporary Burgundian events, including those written by court officials, such as Jacques Du Clercq, Jean Lefèvre de Saint-Rémy and Jean Mansel. While Wavrin’s compiling activity stemmed from personal motivations and falls into the “private chronicle” category,[14] there is no doubt that the subject of the history of England would have been well received at the court of Burgundy in view of the close ties between the two.

In order to write such an extensive historical summa, Wavrin used a variety of sources, most of which have been identified and discussed by Hardy in the introduction to his edition of the Anchiennes cronicques (Hardy, Recueil I, liii-ccix). Volume I is essentially derived from Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae and the Brut. Froissart supplies almost exclusively the materials for book 6 of volume I to book 3 of volume III (1326-c.1400). Wavrin probably consulted the Chronique de la mort et trahison de Richard II, the Grandes chroniques de France and the Chroniques de Flandres for this part of his narrative, but there are very few traces of these texts in his compilation.

When the text reaches 1400, sources become less easily identifiable: Froissart’s Chroniques come to an end, and the text narrates events contemporary to Wavrin’s lifetime. Volume IV may be indebted to Enguerrand de Monstrelet’s Chronique; a source common to both historians could also account for some similarities between the two texts. According to Hardy, volumes V and VI are the result of personal observation and the relations of contemporaries, such as Jean Lefèvre de Saint-Rémy, also known as “Thoison d’Or”, mentioned in volume VI, book 5, chapter 36 (Hardy, Recueil I, cxlv); Hardy postulates that Wavrin is the original continuator of Monstrelet’s Chronique[15], and that he then expanded his narrative (known through Paris, BNF MS fr. 88) to form the sixth volume of his compilation (Hardy, Recueil I, cxlv-cxci). In this volume Wavrin uses the Mémoires of Jacques Du Clercq and Jean Chartier’s Chronique de Charles VII, and possibly the Armorial of Gilles le Bouvier (héraut Berry). Michael Zingel has shown that Wavrin’s very last book (volume VI, book 6) is derived from a French translation and abridgment of an English text titled The Historie of the Arrivall of King Edward IV A.D. 1471.[16] Other sources pertaining to English matter, such as newsletters and the Chronicle of the Rebellion in Lincolnshire, have been identified by Livia Visser-Fuchs.[17] It appears that, for contemporary events, Wavrin relied on his own personal experience, as well as a variety of sources available to him through his contact with the Burgundian and English courts.

To a certain extent, a parallel can be drawn between the Anchiennes chronicques d’Engleterre and the Chroniques of Jean Froissart when it comes to relating contemporary events: after relying heavily on one main source (for Froissart, Jean Le Bel’s Chronique), both chroniclers adopt a new approach to their material, which embeds their personal experience in their texts.[18] Both Froissart and Wavrin portray themselves as investigators travelling around Europe in order to gather material on the events they write about: Froissart’s well-known voyage to Béarn in 1389 appears in Book III of his Chronicles, and his journey to England in 1395, in Book IV. Wavrin travels to Calais in 1469 to meet with the Earl of Warwick and learn about the negotiations between the latter and Charles of Burgundy:

Et moy, acteur de ces croniques, desirant scavoir et avoir matieres veritables pour le parfait de mon euvre, prins congié au duc de Bourguoigne adfin de aller jusques à Callaix, lequel il me ottroia, pour ce qu’il estoit bien adverty que ledit conte de Warewic m’avoit promis, se je venoie à Callaix qu’il me feroit bonne chiere et me bailleroit homme qui m’adrescheroit à tout ce que je vouldroie demander touchant ces matieres. [19]

This passage may be reminiscent of the prologue to Book III of the Chroniques of Froissart, both in terms of content and wording: the author mentions himself and his patron, his desire to gather material to pursue his endeavor as a chronicler, his setting off to the court of one of the greatest barons of the realm and the latter’s warm welcome.[20]

The Anchiennes chronicques d’Engleterre are known through only one complete copy: Paris, BNF MSS fr. 74-85 (Anc. 6748-6759). Originally there were six volumes, mentioned as such in the inventories of the royal library at Blois in 1518 and 1544; each volume was split in two between 1545 and 1682.[21] The set was produced between 1470 and 1490 in the Low Countries, and profusely illuminated by unrelated Bruges artists at different dates.[22] Ownership marks from the Bruges bibliophile Louis of Gruuthuse can be found throughout the six volumes. It is noteworthy that Jean de Wavrin and Louis of Gruuthuse were part of the same circles, since both were chamberlains and councilors to Duke Philip of Burgundy in the 1450s and 1460s. They both conducted diplomatic missions, and may have both been in the party negotiating the marriage of Margaret of York and Charles the Bold in 1467. It is likely that production for a deluxe copy of the Anchiennes cronicques started during the lifetime of Wavrin, whether under his supervision or not, and continued after his death. At an unknown point in time, Gruuthuse became involved in the production process.

It seems that the Anchiennes cronicques d’Engleterre achieved limited circulation: a few copies, some finely illuminated, were produced in the last quarter of the xvth century. A near-complete set, now dispersed, was assembled c.1480 and later on traced to the rulers of the house of Orange-Nassau: volumes II, III and V are now in the collection of the Koninklijke Bibliothek (Den Haag, KB MSS 133 A 7 1-3), while volume IV is currently in Baltimore (Walters Arts Museum, MS W. 201). Ten illuminated pages from volume II were detached before 1636 and are now in the Bodleian collections (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud 633). This volume was first intended for Anthony, bastard of Burgundy, and then adapted for a set that would later be owned by the house of Nassau.

In the 1480s, the same team of artists that worked on the Gruuthuse copy participated in illuminating a deluxe copy of volume I now found in Vienna (Vienna, Österreiche Nationalbibliothek, MS 2534). A modestly illuminated paper copy of volume II was made in the same decade (San Marino, Huntington Library, MS 28562). The Lille public library recently acquired an unillustrated paper copy of volume VI (Lille, BM MS E 20) dating c. 1471-72 and bearing an initial painted with the arms of Jean de Wavrin.[23] A few other paper copies were also made in Paris in the late xvth and early xvith century.[24]

A partial set of the Anchiennes chronicques d’Engleterre produced c. 1475-80 in Lille and Bruges may have been transferred to King Edward IV of England at a later stage: London, BL, Royal 15.E.iv (volume I) and Royal 14.E.iv (volume III). According to Scot McKendrick, these two manuscripts and the near-complete Nassau set were copied by the Lille scribe and translator Jan Du Quesne.[25] In volume I, a new prologue replaces the 1455 prologue found in other copies of the compilation (see Hardy, I, 608-611). It presents this copy as a new edition of the Anchiennes cronicques in seven volumes, in which the last volume is proclaimed to be devoted to the praises and great deeds of its dedicatee, King Edward V (apparently meaning Edward IV).[26] Furthermore, the prologue omits any mention of Wavrin as the named author, and is written in rather flowery and incoherent language, traits that can be linked to commercial piracy, according to Scot McKendrick.[27] Alain Marchandisse suggests a more personal connection between Wavrin and Edward IV: in exile from October 1470 to March 1471, Edward found refuge with Louis of Gruuthuse in Bruges, and one can imagine an encounter between compiler and exiled king.[28] It is possible that Edward heard of or had access to the compilation during his exile, and expressed his interest when illuminated sets were produced a few years later.

Despite its title, the six-volume compilation encompasses not only the history of England from its mythical origins to the restoration of King Edward IV, but also the history of France and of the duchy of Burgundy, with particular focus on the xivth and xvth centuries. The text itself has so far attracted fairly little scholarly interest, and has only been partially edited during the xixth century: the first half of volume I and volumes IV to VI, which pertain to English history, have been edited by William Hardy and printed in full in the Rolls Series,[29] while chapter headings and a selection of extracts appear in Miss Dupont’s edition for the “Société de l’Histoire de France”.[30] Nevertheless, the whole text of the Anchiennes cronicques d’Engleterre has been recently made available in electronic format: numerous Wavrin manuscripts held at the Bibliothèque nationale de France can be viewed online, as can the ones from the Royal collection at the British Library.[31] Most of the relatively rare publications on Wavrin use the Rolls Series edition, though, and focus either on Arthurian materials (volume I) or parts of the text in which the compiler relates events that are contemporary to him and that pertain to the court of Burgundy and Yorkist England (volumes IV-VI).[32]

Thus, a significant portion of the Anchiennes cronicques d’Engleterre has generally been ignored by scholars: this portion corresponds to the 40% of the compilation that is derived from the Chroniques of Jean Froissart, and that Miss Dupont had considered as borrowed to the word from Froissart and discarded from her edition.[33] Prevalent in current scholarship on Wavrin, the idea that this part of the Anchiennes cronicques d’Engleterre is entirely copied from Froissart needs be put to the test: Does Wavrin truly copy Froissart word for word or does he operate interventions on his source text? How far do these interventions go? What do they tell us about Wavrin’s compiling method or his views on political and social events? What are the consequences of these interventions for the reader?

The Ghostwriter: Froissart transmitted by Wavrin

A systematic study of the complete text of the Anchiennes chronicques d’Engleterre and of the manuscripts of the four books of Froissart’s Chroniques (hundreds of manuscripts) would be necessary in order to identify with certainty the exemplar(s) used by Wavrin. The comments that follow can be considered as a first approach to this complex issue, based on the corpus of the conflict that opposed Gentenaars to their lord, Louis de Male, count of Flanders: Book II of the Chroniques of Froissart and the first half of volume III of the Anchiennes chronicques (51 of the 191 folios of Paris, BNF MS fr. 78, eleven passages ranging from one to twenty-five folios following the general arrangement of Froissart). Manuscript collations of chapters 2-101, 2-102, 2-344, 2-500, 2-501, and 2-502 of Book II of Froissart[34] and of the corresponding passages in Paris, BNF MS fr. 78 have been established. Transcriptions of the examples below can all be found in The Online Froissart.[35]

The manuscript tradition of the Chroniques of Froissart is both extensive and complex; scholars have expertly discussed many aspects of this tradition.[36] In his paper “Book II of Froissart’s Chronicles: The Leiden MS and the rest of the manuscript tradition”, Godfried Croenen has shown the progression from the first redaction of book II (witness: Paris, Arsenal MS 5188) to the second (witness: Leiden, MS VGGGF 9) and the third redactions (Chicago, Newberry Library, MS Case F.37.), based on chapter 500.[37] According to him, four manuscripts are witnesses of the first redaction, 25 of the second, and one of the third. This classification partially agrees with that of the two editors of Book II, Kervyn de Lettenhove and Gaston Raynaud. The manuscripts that Kervyn de Lettenhove considered as witnesses of the first and second redactions belong to one group (first redaction) for Croenen, and those of the third redaction are part of the second redaction.[38] For Gaston Raynaud, there are only two redactions of Book II, but some of the manuscripts he classifies as belonging to the first redaction are connected rather to the second redaction, according to Croenen.[39]

A conversation between two of the main figures of the Ghent rebellion, Francis Ackerman and Pieter van den Bossche, about the peace treaty of 1385 and its consequences for them personally appears on fol. 199r in Wavrin.

This text appears in all but four witnesses of Book II (Leiden, MS VGGF 9; Brussels, KBR MS IV 1102; Paris, BNF n.a.f. MS 9606; Chicago, MS Case F.37.2); thus, none of these manuscripts could be the exemplar used by Wavrin, at least not for this specific part of the text.

In the thirty manuscripts of Book II of the Chroniques, the adjective “cremu” appears only three times: in one manuscript of the first redaction (Paris, BNF MS fr. 5006), and in two of the second (Leiden, MS VGGF 9 and the “Breslau Froissart”).[40] It is not impossible that most scribes who had at their disposal an exemplar with the adjective “cremu” would have opted for the more modern form “craint” in their own copy. The adjective “amé” and the structure “tant craint/cremu et [tant] amé” found in Wavrin is solely attested in manuscripts of the second redaction.

Thirteen manuscripts of Book II use the adverb “point”: all of the witnesses of the first redaction (Berlin, Ms Hamilton 266; Paris, BNF MS fr. 2660; Paris, BNF MS fr. 2660; Paris, BNF MS fr. 20357), and some of the second, including Leiden MS VGGF 9, an early witness of the second redaction. The adverb is omitted in nine manuscripts of the second redaction, and is replaced with the adjective “nul” in seven other instances, including some manuscripts produced in the Low Countries at the time that Wavrin was writing (such as Paris, BNF MS fr. 6476 and London, BL Royal MS 18.E.i).[41] The well-known “Breslau Froissart and the “Froissart of Louis de Gruuthuse” [42] bear the adverb “point”.

In this case again, all the manuscripts of the first redaction and a few of the second redaction agree with Wavrin (using the two verbs “regner” and “vivre”), while the verb “regner” alone appears in seven witnesses of the second redaction associated with the court of Burgundy (including the “Froissart of Louis de Gruthuuse” in this case).[43] Based on these two examples, it is likely that Wavrin was not using one of the “Burgundian” manuscripts.

In three of the four witnesses of the first redaction, a triad of verbs is used (“oyr”, “veoir”, and “congnoistre”, while in all witnesses of the second redaction, only two terms are present (“veoir” and “congnoistre”). As the three terms appear in Wavrin, it seems likely that the compiler used an exemplar of the first redaction. A similar example can be found in chapter 2-102, where the absence of the adverb “couvertement” is a feature unique to the four witnesses of the first redaction, and to the Wavrin manuscript:

Based on the very limited results that these examples can provide, it appears likely that Wavrin used an exemplar of the first redaction of Book II of the Chroniques of Jean Froissart, and may have had access to a copy of the second redaction. This hypothesis is in accordance with the conclusion drawn by William Hardy that Wavrin used a manuscript of the B redaction, rather than of the Amiens redaction of Book I (Hardy, Recueil I, cix), as the four witnesses of the first redaction of Book II are associated with the B redaction of Book I.

In total, 216 chapters of Book II of the Chroniques of Froissart relate the Flemish wars of 1379-85, in the first as in the second redaction. Of these chapters, 83 are completely omitted by Wavrin, 81 chapters have been modified, and 52 chapters follow Froissart almost verbatim. While Froissart is undoubtedly the main authority for this part of volume III of the Anchiennes chronicques d’Engleterre, it is significant that Wavrin alters about 75% of his material. Only about a quarter of the text is taken from Froissart without apparent amendments,[44] which is in contradiction with the common idea that Wavrin simply adopted the text of Froissart as his own. Ninety-eight chapters of Froissart can be easily identified in the Wavrin manuscript by the golden decorated initials on blue and rose grounds (84 chapters)[45] or the capitulum sign in the same color scheme (14 chapters). It is not surprising that, in the passages in which Wavrin transposes his predecessor’s text the most closely, the highest number of decorated initials marking the beginning of each chapter is to be found (chapters 2-356 to 2-406 in Froissart on the crusade of the bishop of Norwich to Flanders in 1383; 40 decorated initials for 40 chapters in Wavrin). The highest concentration of rubrics (15 in total) can also be found in this episode; only twelve rubrics are used in the rest of the text on the Flemish wars, five of which announce chapters on the battle of Westrosebeke, the famous victory of the young King of France Charles VI over the Flemish on 27th November 1382. When Wavrin significantly alters his source and condenses whole chapters into one sentence or a few lines, there are no signs in the manuscript that indicate such interventions or any connection to the Froissart text.

In Wavrin, only one illumination pertaining to the Flemish wars can be found, at the beginning of book 3 of volume III (fol. 126r). It represents the battle of the Beverhoutsveld and the taking of Bruges by the Gentenaars (May 1382), an event that is often illuminated in manuscripts of Book II of Froissart.[46] Within the structure of the Wavrin complete set (Paris, BNF MSS fr. 74-85), each of the six books in each volume opens with a large illumination covering approximately three-quarters of a page. In volumes II and III of Wavrin, the text, illuminations and general page layout seem to be derived from the Froissart manuscript tradition.

A look at the materials omitted by Wavrin reveals certain features of his compiling method. One such feature is the consistent omission of more than half of the narrative for the events from 1379 to 1382, and from then on (1382-1385), the omission of less than a quarter of the text. This trend is in accordance with the opposite curve in the number of chapters transposed verbatim: in the first 104 chapters, there are only two (64 omitted, 38 modified).[47] Of the 38 chapters on the battle of Westrosebeke, they amount to eleven (8 omitted, 21 modified), and the numbers culminate with the narrative of the crusade of the bishop of Norwich to Flanders, for which 33 of 43 chapters of Froissart are present in Wavrin verbatim (3 chapters omitted, 7 modified). In the remaining 31 chapters, the numbers decline (6 chapters verbatim, 8 omitted, 17 modified).

In some cases of clusters of chapters on the Flemish wars, Wavrin first follows Froissart relatively closely, then omits or condenses the remaining chapters. For instance, the origins of the Flemish wars in 1379 are told in twenty-two chapters in Froissart. Wavrin adopts chapters 2-101 to 2-107 with some modifications; he then omits chapters 2-108, 2-110 and 2-111, as well as chapters 2-113 to 2-120 and 2-122. Chapters 2-109, 2-112 and 2-121 are condensed to just a few lines. The same pattern is repeated for chapters 2-193 to 2-208 of Froissart (events of 1380-1): Wavrin significantly abridges five chapters out of sixteen placed at the beginning (2-193, 2-194, 2-196, 2-197, and 2-200 in Froissart), and discards the remaining eleven.

Wavrin adopts all the series of chapters on the Flemish wars found in Froissart (and adapts the material), except one, which he omits entirely: chapters 2-127 to 2-136, covering the years 1379-80. The impact of this omission for the reader is significant, as vital information is then missing. Wavrin hops from chapter 2-122 to chapter 2-193, where the Count of Flanders decides to reestablish his authority on his territory. Since the compiler omits the raids of the White Hoods in Flanders and their control of most of the county, it may be difficult for the reader to understand why Louis of Male decides to besiege Ypres or executes 700 men in Bruges when he visits. His desire for revenge against the people who had taken the side of the Gentenaars is omitted entirely. Similarly, Wavrin skips the episode of the destruction of the gates and walls of Oudenaarde by Jan Parneele[48] in 1380 (chapters 2-130 to 2-132), but he names the latter for the first and only time on fol. 83r to announce his death, as if the reader were well aware of his peace-breaching actions during the Flemish wars.

In another instance, the omission of information, coupled with vague wording, may mislead the reader: “Sy leur pardonna et prinst deux cens dez bourgoys des plus notables. Sy les envoya à Lille et Douay, ainsy comme il avoit fait pareillement de ceulx d’Yppre, lesquelz il avoit envoyé à Bruges.” (fol. 84v) The Count of Flanders goes to Courtray (Kortrijk) and appears to forgive its inhabitants for having sided with the Gentenaars in their rebellion against him, only to take hostages or prisoners to maintain his stronghold on the city. He had done the same in Ypres a few days earlier, something that Wavrin omits in his narrative. Froissart, on the other hand, clearly states that upon entering Courtray, the Count of Flanders takes two hundred men as hostages. In abridging the material and omitting certain crucial details, Wavrin may sometimes mislead his audience.

It may be surprising that all references and developments relative to the sieges of Oudenaarde (1379, 1382: chapters 2-118 to 2-120; chapters 2-286-2-293, 2-298-310) have been consistently removed from the narrative, except in two cases: in folios 143r and 144v, where Wavrin abridges chapters 2-344 and 2-345 of Froissart. He transcribes the mentions of the siege of Oudenaarde as if it had been previously narrated: “Le seigneur de Herselles, qui se tenoit devant Audenarde au siege, en fut advertis[49], leva son siege et s’en retorna à Gand […]”, fol. 143v; “Quant [Daniel de Hallewyn and fifty of his companions] eurent esté là ung jour, ilz s’en retournerent arriere à Audenarde vers leurs compaignons.”, fol. 144v). The gaps in the narrative appear when there are references to previous events that have been left out by the compiler, such as in this instance.

In the case of the events of 1382 (chapters 2-263 to 2-312 and 2-313 to 2-356), Wavrin deletes seven initial chapters of his source (2-263 to 2-269), which provide the narrative background of the battle of the Beverhoutsveld and the motivations for the attack of the Gentenaars on Bruges: the Count of Flanders had strategically isolated Ghent from waterway traffic with the rest of Flanders to starve it out. Reduced to famine, the Gentenaars accept negotiation, and a peace conference is arranged in Tournay. When the Count does not turn up at the meeting and announces his intention to besiege Ghent, Philip van Artevelde and his companions decide to attack Bruges (where the Count resides at the time) before they are themselves attacked. In Wavrin, there is a reference to the state of starvation of the Gentenaars (fol. 126v), but the march on Bruges and the attack on the Count that follow might appear sudden in the circumstances as they are presented to the reader.

In the absence of an autograph manuscript, and based on the present corpus, the motivations of Wavrin for abridging his source do not readily appear. It seems that Wavrin did not use a systematic approach, as no pattern emerges from chapter to chapter. It is not impossible that political reasoning may have motivated certain omissions, such as the sieges of Oudenaarde, but Wavrin did not provide commentary to that effect. In that respect, Wavrin differs strikingly from his contemporary Philippe de Commynes, who develops political reflections in his memoirs.[50] I would posit that Wavrin focused on choosing content relevant to his readers, rather than on putting forward his own opinions: he may have been looking at episodes as a whole, and made his interventions based on his understanding of the situation.

In the text under consideration, Wavrin directly refers to Froissart on two occasions. On fol. 44v the reference to Froissart is used to abridge the material, as the compiler chooses to discard eight chapters of his source: “Ains fu brisee [la paix], dont sourdirent maintz meschiefz, desquelz qui plus amplement en vouldra scavoir es cronicques que fist ce notable homme maistre Jehan Froissart en porra recouvrer, car illec en touche tout au long.” Similar affirmations to condense the material can be found throughout the narrative, such as “Se toutes les choses qui y advinrent vous vouloye raconter, trop y porroye mettre” (fol. 129v).[51]

On fol. 142r, Froissart’s words “je fui adont enfourmé dou seigneur de Scon/nevort, et me dist que il vei […]” (SHF XI, 51-2) are simply transposed to the third person: “Froissart dist en ses cronicques, lequel vivoit pour lors, que il fut infourmés du seigneur d’Estonnebort et lui dist que il vey […]”.[52] This sort of transposition culminates in volume IV of the Anchiennes cronicques d’Engleterre, where Froissart becomes a character in the narrative; indeed, Wavrin adopts the passage in which the canon of Chimay gives an account of his journey to England in 1395 and his presentation of a book to King Richard II (Paris, BNF MS fr. 81, fol. 153r-158v). The figure of Froissart may act as mirror of the compiler; a similar device is found in Christine de Pizan’s compilation La cité des dames, where a story borrowed from Boccaccio tells of Proba, a woman author and compiler.[53] This episode is also a testimony to the reputation of Froissart, which helped him to connect with and evolve in aristocratic circles much more than his own work as a chronicler and poet did, which achieved only limited circulation during his lifetime; manuscripts of the Chroniques started to circulate in Paris and Burgundy during the xvth century after Froissart’s death.[54]

The Ghostbuster: Wavrin transforming Froissart’s text

One of the less significant forms of transformation of the text of the Chroniques of Froissart into the Anchiennes cronicques d’Engleterre can be identified at word level, namely transcription errors made by scribes. For instance, words are missing (“sire Jehan”, last name [Piet] is omitted, fol. 41v; “ceux de faire fossee […]”, after “ceux”, the words [de Bruges] are absent, fol. 42v; “mais alors parla et dist”, the subject [un des Parisiens] is missing, fol. 135v), misread (“Bouvines”, rather than “Commines”, fol. 134r), or copied twice (“celle matinee leva une matinee”, instead of “une bruine”, fol.140r)[55]. Transcription errors can sometimes give an impression of contradiction, as in the case of fol. 168r: in one sentence in Wavrin, the Count of Flanders is against a peace treaty with Ghent (Froissart, 2-400), and in the next he seeks “une bonne paix ou une longue trievez” (Froissart, 2-401). In the second instance, the words “conte de Flandres” were probably inadvertently substituted to “duc de Bretaigne”, as the fact that this person is later on referred to as “le duc” confirms.

As transcription errors, lexical and syntactical variations only minimally transform Froissart’s text. In most cases, it is not possible to determine whether they are conscious authorial choices or the result of scribal interventions. Folio 41v departs from Froissart on three occasions. The opening line of the narrative on the Flemish wars (2-101) is altered, and reads “Quant les haynes et tribulations vindrent premierement en Flandres, le pays estoit si plentureux de tous bien que ce seroit merveilles à recorder”; however, all witnesses of Book II of Froissart bear the adjectives “plain et remply”, with slight spelling variations, where Wavrin uses “plentureux”. While Froissart writes “au commandement du conte couvertement ledit Jehan Lions prist parole et debat à cellui [bourgeois] et l’occist” (2-102), Wavrin opts for a different verb clause, “prist occasion de noise”. Finally, Wavrin uses “homicide”, rather than the noun that appear in all manuscripts of Book II, “occision”. As the alterations mentioned above also appear in the London manuscript, they are likely to be interventions made by the compiler.

Only in very rare instances does Wavrin add to the text of Froissart. Two of these cases concern places. Writing about the city of Damme (Froissart, 2-102), Wavrin locates it “delez Bruges” (fol. 41v). On fol. 156v, Wavrin first follows the text of chapter 2-378 of Froissart: the Count of Flanders writes to his son-in-law the Duke of Burgundy, who resides in Compiègne. Here, Wavrin supplements his source with an additional detail not found in Froissart, “Compiègne, en laquelle le roy de France se tenoit adont et ses oncles delez lui”.[56]

Folio 134r provides examples of rare additions to the Froissart text, which are actually borrowed from another source, the Chroniques de Flandres. Miss Dupont had already noted a short passage absent from Froissart on this folio,[57] but had failed to connect it to its original source, which Wavrin explicitly mentions later on (fol. 144r).[58] Based on my own research on narrative sources of the Flemish urban revolt, some of the details appearing on fol. 134r can only be found in the Chronique de Baudoin d’Avesnes branch of the Chroniques de Flandres (Paris, BNF MS fr 5610):[59] the sojourns of King Charles VI of France in Montargis and at the abbey of Saint-Nicolas d’Arvoise; his decision to send his brother to Péronne, rather than have him participate in the military expedition against the Flemish; and Philip van Artevelde’s march back to Bruges to protect it from the royal army because he himself had torn down its defenses. The two paragraphs preceding these passages are also unique in the sense that, as much as they refer to events that Froissart describes in chapters 2-308 and 2-309, they are worded significantly differently. This could be a rather uncharacteristic case of extensive rewriting of the Froissart material, or a borrowing from a source that I have not yet been able to identify. Fol. 156v offers a similar case: the text presented here is not in chapter 2-278 of Froissart, nor in any of the narrative sources on the Flemish wars I have come across so far.

In the text under consideration, additions are rare. Wavrin does not insert comments within the text he uses, nor does he offer his own opinions or ideas about the events he narrates. He generally appears as the compiler who aims at impartiality in his narrative and gives precedence to his source, rather than as the author who expresses his own views. However, in volume III onwards, Wavrin deals with events contemporary to him, and he includes to a certain extent his own experience and reflections within his narrative.

As a compiler, Wavrin focuses on transmitting content: he looks critically at the information contained in his source, chooses chapters and developments to keep or discard, and adapts his narrative accordingly. One of the most obvious and frequent transformations carried out by Wavrin on the Froissart text is the transposition from direct to indirect speech, a device that abridges the material. Often, when there are two or more direct speeches in one chapter, in the form conversations or soliloquies, generally Wavrin keeps one and uses indirect speech for the other(s). For instance, chapter 2-102 of Froissart is found on fol. 42r of Wavrin: the words spoken by Guillebert Mahieu to the chamberlain of the Count of Flanders are reported in indirect speech, but with wording that remains very close to Froissart.[60] Wavrin then keeps the summoning of Jan Yoens by the Count as is, but he goes on to abridge the conversation between the two and transposes it to indirect speech.[61]

The reverse transposition, from indirect to direct speech is very unusual in Wavrin, and is only found once, in fol. 199v (Froissart, chapter 2-502):

Dont pour retourner à Pierre du Bos, il fut en Engleterre le tresbien venu, car messire Jehan Boursier dist au roy : “Sire, veez Pietre du (2nd col.) Bos, qui pour vous a esté le plus leal et le plus vray de tous ceulx de Gand, et qui hardiement s’il euist eu sierté des Gantoys, il euist ochis tous lez traicteurs, mais à ce qu’ilz avoient moustré, ilz desiroient et avoient desiré grandement le paix.”

Interestingly, this passage is in indirect speech in all manuscripts of Book II of Froissart, except in two witnesses of the second redaction derived from the Leiden manuscript (Brussels, KBR MS IV 1102, fol. 227r; Paris, BNF MS n.a.f. 9606, fol. 222r). The text of Wavrin does not coincide with that of these two manuscripts in most instances, and it is highly unlikely that it derived from either of them. However, the parallel between them in this particular case may be due to a rewriting, by the scribe of the compiler, remaining very close to the words used by Froissart in indirect speech.

Since Wavrin frequently chooses to discard entire chapters of his source, he often transforms transitions between chapters for consistency. The beginning of Froissart chapters are altered through omission of sentences or paragraphs (fol. 44r, 2-106; fol. 84v, 2-196; fol. 131r, 2-293; fol. 135v, 2-330, and more), initial sentences rephrasing (fol. 130r, 2-277; fol. 134v, 2-325; fol. 164r, 2-393, etc.), allusions to more events that the compiler chooses not to integrate into his narrative (fol. 44v, 2-122, fol. 85r, 2-208; fol. 106r, 2-228; fol. 129v, 2-278, etc.). At times, Wavrin keeps the first sentence or clause of Froissart, and summarizes the rest of the chapter in a few lines (fol. 44r, 2-105; fol. 106r, 2-228).

In some cases, Wavrin adds summaries of omitted chapters (fol. 44v, 2-110 and 2-112; fol. 106r, 2-201 to 2-208; fol. 186r, 2-445-450) or of events narrated previously, all of which do not appear in Froissart (fol. 126r-v).[62] In folio 106r, Wavrin recalls the origins of the Flemish revolt (1379) and its main figures, and jumps ahead in the chronology to the death of Louis of Male in 1384 (a prolepse, in Genette’s terminology), before he even narrates the events of 1382: “Vous scavés assez comment les Gantois s’esleverent et firent leur cappitaine de ung nommé Jehan Lyon, qui fut principallement cause des mutations et guerres qu’ilz eurent pour le temps à l’encontre de leur seigneur le conte de Flandre, lequel morut à L’Escluse.” Endings of chapters are as often abridged as beginnings (fol. 44r, 2-106; fol. 106r, 2-228; fol. 186r, 2-451, etc.).

Wavrin does not only intervene on the edges of the chapters he chooses to keep, but within them as well. He frequently abridges and summarizes his source; events narrated in a series of lines or paragraphs are reduced to a sentence or two (among others, see fol. 44v, 2-112, the arson of the castle of Wondelghem; fol. 84r, 2-194, the flight of the Gentenaars from Roullers; and fol. 84v, 2-196, the reception of the Ghent envoys in Male). Whole chapters are sometimes similarly condensed to one sentence (fol. 134r, chapters 2-315 to 2-323, the battle for the control of the bridge of Commines; and fol. 186r, chapters 455-462, the siege of Damme).

Intervention into the Froissart text occurs almost as soon as the narrative opens on the topic: whereas the first chapter (2-101) is transmitted almost word for word, apart from minor syntactical and lexical variations, the following one omits at least two columns of text that provide the narrative background of the rivalry between the Mahieu family and Jan Yoens. In Froissart (2-102), Guillebert Mahieu is introduced as a “navieur”, a member of the Free Shippers’ Guild, of which Jan Yoens was dean at the time. The rivalry between the two men can thus be understood as having a professional component. In Wavrin’s text, the passage about the profession of Mahieu is omitted. Wavrin also cuts the last part of the chapter, a soliloquy invented by Froissart in which Mahieu describes his hatred of Jan Yoens, his motivations in plotting against him, his yearning for power and influence within the Free Shippers’ Guild and the city of Ghent. By omitting the backstory of Mahieu, his jealousy towards Yoens appears exclusively as a personal matter; Yoen’s power and privileged relationship with the Count of Flanders, which Mahieu envies in Froissart, are here completely obliterated. In this respect, Wavrin does follow the text of Froissart, but his intervention in the text alters the perspective on the episode that is given to the reader.

A similar effect can be noted on folios 44r and 44v of Wavrin (chapter 2-107 in Froissart). In Froissart, an embassy of twelve burghers from the city of Ghent is sent to Male, where the Count of Flanders resides at the time, in order to negotiate the termination of the construction of a canal prolonging the Leie River, undergone by Bruges workers. The entering of the canal into the Oudburgh or castellany of Ghent, without the authorization of the latter, was perceived as an act of aggression against the city’s sovereignty[63]. The envoys were also asking for the liberation of one of their own, a miller, jailed in Erclos. In Wavrin, the miller becomes a “navieur”, who is freed from his jail thanks to Yoens’s manoeuvers (“Et finablement fist tant que, voulsissent ou non Guillebert Mahieu et ses freres, le navieur fut delivré de prison”, fol. 44r), and the embassy’s only claim is to put an end to the construction of the New Leie in the Ghent castellany. Here again, most of the components of the episode follow Froissart, but the manner in which they are presented has an impact on the reader’s understanding of the events.

As much as Wavrin modifies and discards parts of Froissart’s narrative, he follows the general textual arrangement of his source; in the 51 folios under consideration, he only alters its sequencing in three instances (chapters 2-207 to 2-212; chapters 2-276 to 2-280;[64] chapters 2-499 to 2-502).[65] In the first one, Wavrin modifies the chapter order, omits certain facts and their causes, and even aggregates two different events. In the Anchiennes cronicques d’Engleterre, when the Ghent envoys return from Male and inform Jan Yoens that the Count demands the dissolution of the paramilitary force known as the White Hoods, Yoens and his men go to Wondelghem castle, a property of the Count on the outskirts of the city of Ghent, and they pillage and arson the place. Wavrin may be conflating two embassies to Male or combining together two different events to condense the material.

In Froissart, when Yoens hears of the demands of the Count, he fears for his life because he is aware that the Mahieus are conspiring against him. Then, the bailiff of the Count in Ghent comes to the city with the intention of assassinating Jan Yoens. Aware of this, the latter and his troops corner and murder the bailiff as soon as he sets foot in the city. The Mahieus leave town at night for fear of reprisals from Yoens, who indeed sends his men to pillage their houses. Ghent citizens realize that the assassination of the bailiff would certainly affect their relationship with the Count, and send twelve men to him in Male. It is during that embassy, while the Count and the Gentenaars negotiate, that Jan Yoens and the White Hoods destroy Wondelghem castle.

As Wavrin brings together two different embassies, the chronology of the events is changed: first, Wavrin mentions the embassy related to the Bruges canal (in Froissart, 2-107), then the arson of the castle (2-112), and the flight of the Mahieus (2-109). Wavrin entirely omits three chapters of his source (2-108, 2-110 and 2-111), reorders the ones he uses, and discards large parts of them. It is to be noted that Wavrin here omits an episode that, in most chroniclers of the Ghent Wars, plays a pivotal role in the conflict: the murder of Rogier d’Auterive, bailiff of the Count of Flanders in Ghent, by the White Hoods. [66] Only a few accounts of the conflict (including that of Froissart) identify the continuation of the Bruges canal into the Oudburgh of Ghent as the starting point of the war;[67] for most French and Flemish chroniclers, though, the murder of the bailiff of the Count is the spark that ignited the war, since murdering a representative of the count is a direct act of aggression against him and his authority. As this assassination is omitted in Wavrin, the escalation of misdeeds by the White Hoods leading to war between Ghent and the Count of Flanders is much less marked. Moreover, the cause for the flight of the Mahieus remains fairly vague (“pour la doubte dudit Jean Lyon”, fol. 44v), and the desire for peace of the population of Ghent is evacuated. Further investigation may be necessary to assess whether a certain intention rules Wavrin’s compiling activity. It appears that Wavrin, like most compilers, alters his source in order to condense it, more than anything else.

The Chroniques of Jean Froissart are without a doubt the main authority for the narrative of the Ghent wars, as of most of volumes II to IV of the Anchiennes chronicques d’Engleterre. This study has shown that Wavrin alters his source more than we might expect. When he adopts his predecessor’s text without considerable alterations, he does so in a limited number of cases, which correspond to passages for which Froissart is known as the authority on the material (the battle of Roosebecke, or the military expedition of the bishop of Norwich in Flanders). The compiler generally transmits the text of Froissart, most often in an abridged form, and frequently omits entire chapters or discards large parts of the narrative. He transforms the text of Froissart as he rewrites transitions between chapters, condenses the information, transposes direct speech to indirect speech, re-orders sequences. Wavrin offers to his readers a text that is both recognizable as stemming from Froissart and as different from it, owing to all its modifications. The Anchiennes chronicques d’Engleterre, like the lavishly illuminated manuscripts of Froissart produced in the same period, are witness to the appropriation of Froissart’s Chroniques by the court of Burgundy. Compared with xvth-century Burgundian historical works that rarely acknowledge the extent to which they are indebted to Froissart,[68] the Anchiennes chronicques offer a unique example of legitimization of the canon of Chimay’s contribution to history writing.