Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Channeling Froissart

Froissart, one of my favorite 14th century authors, had an attitude more like a docudrama writer than a modern historian. He strove to create a vivid account of events, and if he didn't know all the facts he added “corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative”.

Sometimes even the supposedly factual grain of sand about which Froissart secreted his narrative pearl was in error, leading to a particularly fictional result.

Recently on an online forum I read an anecdote about Sir John Chandos at the sack of Limoges. The poster had evidently misremembered the city or the protagonist, since Sir John had actually been killed ten months earlier. I couldn’t help imagining what Froissart might have done with that same material as a starting point:

And they put Zombie John Chandos in the vanguard, for they said that he would break the array of the French, and take scarcely any hurt from their bolts and arrows and so it came about. And he kept his visor up, which sorely affrighted the French, and cried his cry in a high voice, which was that day: “Cerveaux! Rrrrr! Cerveaux!” And after the intaking of the town, he wandered off to protect the ladies and demoiselles, for he still dimly remembered his courtesy from when he was on live. They say that he was a great aid and assistance to the English in the assault that day, save that he tried to eat the brains of the Bishop of Limoges, but they restrained him.

3 comments:

Lea said...

Froissart is awesome. And so is the idea of him writing about zombies, which are also awesome, and I wish that more medieval chroniclers had done that.

I must point out, though, that zombie!Chandos would probably want cerveaux. ;)

Will McLean said...

Cerveaux it is....

Steve B. said...

That's not as far-fetched as you might think; remember the pre-Islamic Arabic tale of Rabiyyah boi-Longlocks (which Cariadoc tells fairly often), who, even after he died, guarded a mountain pass long enough for his extended family to escape.