The Chronicles of Froissart

The Chronicles of Froissart

Read FREE!

The Chronicles of Froissart

The Chronicles of Froissart

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The translation of the Chronicles of Sir John Froissart 'out of French into our maternal English tongue,' made by John Bourchier, Lord Berners, at the command of King Henry the eighth, is undoubtedly an English classic. It is not only one of the most extensive and important texts of English literature during the period of the formation and development of a native prose style, but it has been also the means by which Englishmen have chiefly become acquainted with the former exploits of their countrymen and the 'noble adventures of feats of arms done and achieved in the wars of France and England,' as registered in the Chronicles of Froissart. As a translator he was first in the field and held his ground unchallenged until the present century. His version is full of faults, and the author of it was neither a sound French scholar nor sufficiently master of his literary tools to write lucid or grammatical English; but it has merits which go far to atone for its defects. It was made by a man who could enter into the spirit of the original, though often at fault in the letter, a man who had himself taken a part both in war and in politics, and who, though capable when left to himself of the worst kind of style, was content when translating to reproduce to the best of his power the simplicity and vigour of his author, and this at a time when the ideals of the middle ages had not wholly passed away and before the pure well of fourteenth-century English had been very seriously defiled. For these reasons his version has been by many regarded as representing Froissart better than a more accurate translation in the modern style. As is observed by a French critic, 'la traduction de Lord Berners présente, pour les Anglais, U+00EO raison de la naiveté de son vieux langage, un charme presqu' égal â celui du texte original de Froissart.'

Before entering upon the criticism of this translation it is proper to state shortly what is known of its author. John Bourchier, or Bourgchier, Lord Berners>, or (as it was often written) Barnes, belonged to a family which was of great distinction and importance. The founder of its fortunes had been Robert Bourchier, Chancellor of England in the year 1340, and the first layman who held that office. This Robert Bourchier accompanied Robert d'Artois into Brittany in 1342, was with Edward III. in the campaign of 1346, and was present at the battle of Crécy (vol. i. chs. 91 and 128 of this translation). His son, John Bourchier, fills a certain place in the Chronicles of Froissart. He is mentioned as distinguishing himself at the siege of Dinan in 1342, he was present at the battle of Auray (i. 226), he accompanied the prince of Wales to Spain, he was shipwrecked with Arundel (i. 356), and he was in the expedition of Thomas of Woodstock, then earl of Buckingham, in 1380 (i. 361). Afterwards, when in the year 1384 the burgesses of Ghent requested the king of England to appoint a governor for them, John Bourchier was sent with the title of 'reward (rewaert) of Flanders,' the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.