Chronicle and Annals of Gilles le Muisit

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Gilles li Muisit was the abbot of the Benedictine monastery of St. Martin of Tournai, a city on the north-eastern border of France. This region was a at the centre of Edward III's campaigns in Flanders at the beginning of the Hundred Years War. Le Muisit's chronicle covers events in France and Flanders from the point of view of a well informed contemporary. He kept records of important events from around 1330 onwards, and when he went blind in 1345, he occupied his time by writing up these notes, which were read to him. He then dictated the text to a scribe. An operation for cataracts restored his sight in 1352, but he never managed to revise his text. It consists of a full chronicle up to 1348, and then annals after that. He is a spirited writer, and his comments on fashion (with illuminations) are often quoted; he also has a remarkable passage on how it is impossible for anyone to know what is goingon in a battle (apropos of the battle of Crecy), let alone for a historian to produced an accurate account afterwards. He uses some written records, and writes at first hand of the siege of Tournai in 1340. Much of his informationcomes from the distinguished guests who visited his abbey, but he is very wary about what he hears. 'What they say is partly false, partly true... if I write down things about which I may not be certain, my whole work will be indisrepute'. He is a largely realistic counterweight to the narratives of chivalrous exploits in Jean le Bel and Froissart, who cover the same place and period. And his voice speaks not for the nobility, for whom war represented glory and profit, but for the defenceless and weak who were the main sufferers.

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Boydell & Brewer Ltd
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