Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Brabant Chronicle, 14th Century ("Brabantsche Yeesten")

Believe it or not, this Jan Van Boendale's 14th century manuscript chronicle was discovered in the 19th century in a tobacconist shop… where was used as wrapping paper.

The chronicle is divided in five parts or books, of which the first four describe the history of Brabant before Jan Van Boendale lifetime (link goes to a poor author's BIO I could find in english), and the fifth is devoted to the three dukes contemporaneous with him: Jan I (d. 1294), Jan II (d. 1312), and Jan III (d. 135).

The scene showing the killing of the Duchess above is Marie of Brabant (link to wikipedia's BIO), who was beheaded by her husband for adultery- following the standard practice for women found guilty of adultery; however, proof of guilt of adultery on her part could never be validated. Maria was the fifth of six children born to Duke Henry by his first wife. Her mother Maria was a daughter of Philip of Swabia.

The Chronicle of Brabant (“Brabantsche Yeesten”) is owned and hosted by the Royal Library of Belgium (in French). This site I recently discovered has -in my opinion- a good digitalization project ongoing, excellent high res quality- but is purely online based.

The Brabant Chronicle is a voluminous work of around 16,000 lines and was not written in one effort. First version dates from 1316, the fifth from 1347, and a sixth version may have been written around 1351, each one providing an updated version of the history of the Duchy.