Academic journal article Medium Aevum

George Chastelain, Jean Robertet, Jean De Montferrant: Les Douze Dames De Rhetorique

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

George Chastelain, Jean Robertet, Jean De Montferrant: Les Douze Dames De Rhetorique

Article excerpt

George Chastelain, Jean Roberiet, Jean de Montferrant: Les Douze Dames de Rhetorique, ed. David Cowling (Geneva: Droz, 2002). ISBN 2-600-0068-0. 5 5. Sw. Pr.

David Cowling's new edition of the Douze Dames presents the epistolary exchange of 1463 between George Chastelain, historiographer of Philippe le Bon of Burgundy, Jean de Montferrant, adviser and chamberlain at the Burgundian court, and Jean Robertet, secretary of the Bourbon duke Jean II, together with the verse 'enseignes' (and the accompanying miniatures), in their integrity for the first time since Louis Batissier's edition of 1838. Partial editions of the Dottle Dames have appeared in the intervening period. Robcrtet's contribution appears in Margaret Zsuppan's 1970 edition of his works while Chastelain's letters are included in Kervyn de Lcttenhovc's edited works of Chastelain of 1863-6; Cynthia J. Brown edited the 'enseignes' in 1987.

Cowling's holistic approach to the Douze Dames corpus enables the reader to get to grips not only with the texts themselves but with the sociocultural climate in which these texts were composed. In providing his reader with the complete text, Cowling also respects the wishes of one of the principal correspondents, George Chastelain. In his final missive (pp. 181-3), Chastelain puts an end to the epistolary dispute, initiated by Robertet, and hopes to ensure that 'la ou sont esparses les supetfluitez de la plume de Robertet, soient divulgueez aussy les reboutances que George y contre envoie'.

As Cowling points out, the personal and the political were closely intertwined in this debate, with the houses of Burgundy and Bourbon in direct competition. The social standing of the poet was reinforced both through the practice of the debate itself and through the content of the letters and 'enseignes' (allegorical descriptions of the twelve attendants of Dame Rhetorique), these latter probably composed by Chastelain as an indirect response to Robertet's comments on the status of the poet. …

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