How the Material was Selected
The Manuscript Tradition of Froissart’s Chronicles
The size of the manuscript tradition of Jean Froissart’s Chroniques is substantial. The Chronicles are a very long text with each of the four Books containing several hundreds of thousands of words. Book I is by far the longest part of the Chronicles, containing about 500,000 words; Book II in its standard version contains about 270,000; Book III about 320,000 and Book IV about 300,000.
The number of extant witnesses is also considerable, with over 150 surviving manuscript volumes, including several important fragments. Some of these contain more than one Book, but most only a single Book or part of one. The four Books do not survive in equal numbers: 61 manuscripts of Book I are known, 33 of Book II, 24 of Book III, and only 21 of Book IV. There are also 2 manuscripts of Jean Froissart’s Chronique de Flandres, 8 manuscripts containing medieval abridgments of one or more Books of the Chroniques, and several manuscripts and early prints with medieval or post-medieval translations of the Chroniques into Latin and different European languages (Dutch, English, Italian, Spanish, Danish).
Although there are several incomplete and fragmentary manuscripts, the total number of pages in these still counts in the tens of thousands, and the total number of words contained in these witnesses in the tens of millions. Given the considerable size of the manuscript corpus, it was paramount to focus the project team’s efforts on the delivery of a selection of material that would be useful for scholars and other users, whilst also making the most of the materials already available to the project.
Although the earlier projects on whose material the Online Froissart partly draws had a number of different aims and objectives and therefore concentrated on different aspects of the manuscript tradition, many of them were concerned in one way or another with the first three Books of the Chroniques. This is also the part of the Chroniques where the variation amongst the manuscript text is greatest, because each of these Books exists in two or more versions. A decision was therefore reached to focus the Online Froissart during the AHRC-funded phase (2007–2010) on the manuscript tradition of Books I–III and to provide users with a minimum of information on each of the 114 surviving manuscripts, including a sample transcription. We also decided to include sample transcriptions for the first edition of the Chroniques, printed by Anthoine Vérard at the end of the fifteenth century, and therefore contemporary with some of the younger manuscripts.
Since the completion of the AHRC project, transcription work has continued and now also includes Book IV, based on the doctoral work by Katariina Närä on the Harley manuscript of Book IV. While most of the 21 manuscripts of Book IV are not yet included in the Online Froissart, a substantial part of the Harley manuscript has been transcribed and is available as part of the resource.
Other related texts (Chronique de Flandres, abridgments, translations) have not yet been included but may be included in future versions.
One of the core elements of the Online Froissart is the parallel sample transcriptions component, covering the same passages across all available manuscripts for each Book. These provide the user with valuable material for carrying out detailed comparisons across the manuscripts. For Book III and part of Book I these samples were created for Godfried Croenen’s research into the reconstruction of the links between the surviving manuscripts. During the AHRC-funded period, more work was carried out on Book I and samples for Book II were also created.
To complement the text samples transcribed from each manuscript, the Online Froissart also includes a number of transcriptions of complete manuscripts which together will cover Books I–IV. These include transcriptions made in the context of earlier research. The complete transcription of the New York Morgan Library M.804 manuscript originated as part of Rob Sanderson’s Liverpool PhD thesis (Book I) and Peter Ainsworth’s edition for the Lettres gothiques series (Book II). The transcription of Besançon ms. 864 (Book I and the start of Book II) was originally part of Valentina Mazzei’s Sheffield PhD. Book IV was originally transcribed by Katariina Närä for her Sheffield PhD. The Book III section of Besançon ms. 865 was first transcribed by Peter Ainsworth for his editions of Book III. The transcriptions of Brussels ms. II 88, Kortrijk ms. 329 and Oxford Laud misc. ms. 745 were created by Godfried Croenen as part of his research into the earliest manuscripts of Book I of the Chroniques.
Godfried Croenen’s and Peter Ainsworth’s research into the early fifteenth-century illustrated manuscripts of the Chronicles was supported by the digitisation of manuscripts at Besançon (mss. 864–865), Toulouse (ms. 511), Stonyhurst (ms. 1), Brussels (mss. II 88, ms. IV 251) and Paris (mss. fr. 2663–2664). These manuscripts belong to a group copied and decorated in Paris in the first quarter of the 15th century, several of which are by scribes and artists whose work was overseen by the libraire Pierre de Liffol. They are amongst the earliest and most beautifully decorated manuscripts containing Books I–III to have survived.
The fact that Besançon Municipal Library was prepared to allow the project to use on its website the images of its manuscripts — a substantial part of which had already been transcribed by Mazzei and Ainsworth — made the Besançon volumes (already the subject of an earlier Leverhulme Research Fellowship awarded to Ainsworth) a logical cornerstone of the Online Froissart. During the project the text of Book II was transcribed from Besançon 865 to complement Mazzei’s and Ainsworth’s editions.
Because much current research into the Chroniques relies on the scholarly editions of the Société de l’Histoire de France and Académie royale de Belgique, it was decided to provide users also with complete transcriptions of some of the base manuscripts used for these editions, which are amongst the textually most important witnesses of the Chroniques. These include Leiden, ms. VGGF 9-2 (Book II), Berlin, ms. Rehdiger 3 (Book III), and Paris, ms. fr. 2650 (Book III), as well as Paris, ms. fr. 5006 for those sections of Book II absent from the Leiden manuscript. The inclusion of these transcriptions allows users of the Online Froissart to access the whole corpus of transcriptions starting from the edition references (page and chapter numbers).
Substantial partial transcriptions of the opening sections of Brussels ms. IV 251 (SHF chapters 0–256) and Stonyhurst College ms. 1 (SHF chapters 0–137) were made during the AHRC-funded project period (2007–2010) to complement the digital reproductions of these witnesses. Hartley Miller, Godfried Croenen and Sofie Loomans transcribed substantial portions of Toulouse MS 511 (table, text SHF chapters 0–98, 254–320, 776–793) to accompany the digital reproductions of this manuscript.
The Online Froissart allows word-by-word comparisons of the various transcriptions. The detailed collation data for this feature was produced using Peter Robinson’s Collate software (collation data is currently only available for parts of Books I, II and III).
Because of the centrality of Besançon mss. 864–865 to the AHRC-funded project, they were used as the basis for the new English translation, another core component of the resource. The translation by Keira Borrill covers episodes carefully selected from Books I, II and III of the Chroniques, intended to provide students of history with improved access to chapters that are amongst the most important narrative sources for the Hundred Years’ War. Keeping as close as possible to the sense of Froissart’s text, the translations aim nonetheless to appeal to a wider audience of scholars and enthusiasts.
In order to contextualise the manuscripts and help users with the interpretation of the text, new historical commentaries on the text and on the names mentioned in the Chroniques were created in the course of the project. These are supplemented by a number of scholarly articles and commentaries on various aspects of the manuscripts themselves and on the historical period.
The Online Froissart currently includes full transcriptions of the following complete manuscripts:
The Online Froissart also includes complete transcriptions of the following manuscripts which are incomplete or fragmentary, or which only contain a small part of Froissart’s Chroniques alongside other materials. In the latter case, only the text of the Chroniques has been transcribed, except for when the text of the Grandes Chroniques de France has been merged with Froissart’s Chroniques into a single text by the scribe.
Apart from the complete transcriptions of surviving manuscripts, the Online Froissart also includes a number of manuscripts which have not been completely transcribed in the state they survive, but for which nevertheless quite substantial transcriptions are available, allowing users to carry out sustained comparison between the manuscripts for continuous sections of text.
All manuscripts which have not been transcribed in full have been sampled. Several complementary principles have been applied when selecting text, although for practical reasons, in particular the inaccessibility of some originals, there remains a small number of manuscripts which have not been transcribed or only transcribed from partial reproductions.
In order to convey the scope of each manuscript, the opening and closing sections have always been transcribed. When pages are missing at the start or end of the manuscripts, the transcription shows where the text currently starts or breaks off. In cases of obvious gaps elsewhere in the manuscripts, the text immediately before and after the missing sections has also been transcribed.
For manuscripts which were readily accessible, a set text sample of chapters selected from each of the three Books, identified from the Société de l’Histoire de France edition for their textual or historical interest, has been transcribed. Chapters not present in a particular manuscript have of course been omitted.
The chapters selected for the samples are:
Book I: SHF § 0 (prologue), 18 and 788. For the ‘Amiens’ version manuscripts, also § 1–17; for the ‘B’ version manuscripts, also § 1–11 and § 47; for select ‘A’ manuscripts, also § 47, 318–320, 421, 697.
Book II: SHF § 1–2, 31–32, 36, 50–51, 82–84, 94–95, 101–102, 125, 173, 238, 292, 313, 344, 401, 404–406, 446–447 and 499–502; for select manuscripts, also § 285–286.
Book III: SHF § 1, 5, 45–47, 67–69, 139–140, 159, 177, 225–226 and 306–308; for select manuscripts, also § 103 and 120.
In order to allow users to study the segmentation of the manuscripts and the use of rubrics or chapter titles in the manuscript, many transcriptions also contain transcriptions of the rubrics and of the tables of rubrics. Whenever rubrics have been transcribed, the transcriptions also show the start of the next manuscript chapter; this, together with the SHF chapters references, should help users to situate each rubric inside the whole text whenever a particular manuscript has not been transcribed in full.
Manuscripts whose rubrics have been fully transcribed include:
The current version of the Online Froissart already provides a wide range of materials, but there are a number of obvious gaps which we are planning to fill in due course. These include the following: