Imaginary History and Burgundian State-building: The Translation of the Annals of Hainault
Rigoutlot, Robert B.
Essays in Medieval Studies, vol. 9 (1992)
During the year 1447 Simon Nockart, a councilor to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy, observed the presentation to his master of a Chroniques de Hainault, a newly translated version of the half-century old Annales Historiae illustrium Principum Hannoniae by the Franciscan monk and schoolmaster Jacques de Guise (1334-1399). The translation had been undertaken by Jean Wauquelin, whose workshop at Mons would toil another twenty years to complete the illumination of the work’s three Volumes. The French-language version appears to have eclipsed its original. No more than five copies of the Latin annals exist today, compared with at least twenty manuscript copies and a sixteenth-century printed edition of the translation.
The manuscript of the Chroniques de Hainault has intrigued several generations of art historians. The striking dedicatory miniature, which represents Wauquelin offering the work to Duke Philip, has been said to have influenced later Netherlandish manuscript painting. The position and purpose of the new work within the range of historical literature produced at the Burgundian court, however, have attracted relatively little attention.