Thursday, September 05, 2013

Le Tournoi de Chauvency

Back around the end of the 13th century, the poet named Jacques Bretel wrote a semi-satirical account of a tournament, Le Tournoi de Chauvency. It was a real event and the poem features real people. Alas for me, the focus was not on the fighting, but on the audience and attendees, and how they contributed to what was a big, expensive and lighthearted celebration. For instance, the poem is hardly started when it begins making fun of people's accents, showing named figures protesting that their French is as good as anybody's. In another section, prominent ladies are shown singing songs appropriate to the occasion. I've always wanted to read the poem, but the language is old enough that I have put off tackling it.

But if you want to read about the poem, there is now this detailed treatment, just recently reviewed in The Medieval Review (but not yet on their website):

Chazan, Mireille, and Nancy Freeman Regalado, eds. Lettres, musique et société en Lorraine médiévale: Autour du Tournoi de Chauvency (Ms. Oxford Bodleian Douce 308). Series: Publications romanes et françaises. Geneva: Droz, 2012.  Pp. 583. Euros 78.00 or $96.00. ISBN-13: 9782600014656.

And if you want to hear a musical composition based on the poem there is this on YouTube.

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