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"Froissart" redirects here. For Elgar Overture, see Froissart Overture (Elgar).

Jean Froissart (c. 1337 – c. 1405), often referred to in English as John Froissart, was a medieval French chronicle writer. For centuries, Froissart's Chronicles have been recognized as the chief expression of the chivalric revival of the 14th century Kingdom of England and France. His history is also an important source for the first half of the Hundred Years' War.


Little is known of Froissart's life and what is known comes mainly from his chronicle and his poems. Froissart came from Valenciennes, Hainaut, and his writings suggest his father was a painter of armorial bearings. Froissart began working as a merchant but soon gave that up to become a clerk. By about age 24, he had gained distinction and carried with him a letter of recommendation from Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, (who was also the King of Bohemia) when he became a court poet and an official historian to Philippa of Hainault, queen consort of Edward III of England.

The memoirs of the period he spent in Philippa's service, between 1361 and 1369, were later added to reports of other events he witnessed, in his Chroniques ("Chronicles"). He took a serious approach to his work:

Je suis de nouveau entré dans ma forge pour travailler et forger en la noble matière du temps passé
("Again I entered my smithy to work and forge something from the noble material of time past")

He traveled in England, Scotland, Wales, France, Flanders and Spain gathering material and first-hand accounts for his Chronicles. He also went with Lionel Duke of Clarence to Milan to attend the duke's marriage to the daughter of Galeazzo Visconti. At this wedding, two other significant writers of the Middle Ages were present: Chaucer and Petrarch.

After the publication of this first book, and after the death of Philippa, he enjoyed the patronage of Joanna, Duchess of Brabant among various others. He received rewards—including the benefice of Estinnes, a village near Binche and later became canon of Chimay—sufficient to finance further travels, which provided additional material for his work. He returned to England in 1395 but seemed disappointed by changes that he viewed as the end of chivalry. The date and circumstances of his death are unknown but St. Monegunda of Chimay might be the final resting place for his remains, although still unverified.


Much more than his poetry, Froissart's fame is due to his Chronicles.

The text of Froissart's Chronicles is preserved in more than 100 illuminated manuscripts, illustrated by a variety of miniaturists. One of the most lavishly illuminated copies was commissioned by Louis of Gruuthuse, a Flemish nobleman, in the 1470s. The four volumes of this copy (BNF, Fr 2643; BNF, Fr 2644; BNF, Fr 2645; BNF, Fr 2646) contain 112 miniatures painted by well-known Brugeois artists of the day, among them Loiset Lyédet, to whom the miniatures in the first two volumes are attributed.

The English composer Edward Elgar wrote an overture entitled Froissart.

Jean Froissart is also known to have been one of the first to mention the use of the verge and foliot, or verge escapement in European clockworks, by 1368.


All miniatures by Loyset Liédet, unless stated.


External links

  • Bibliography Jean Froissart, compiled by Dr. Godfried Croenen, University of Liverpool
  • "The Chronicles of Froissart." (from Harvard Classics).
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