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Of device as device: the narrative functioning of armorial displays in Froissart’s Chronicles

Of device as device: the narrative functioning of armorial displays in Froissart’s Chronicles

By M. J. Huxtable

Postgraduate English: A Journal and Forum for Postgraduates in English, No.18 (2008)

Introduction: In terms of socio-cultural history, the Chroniques or Chronicles of French poet and historiographer Jean Froissart (c.1337-1410) provide important access to the medieval perception of armory, and to the growth of the armorial function of the herald during the fourteenth century. Moreover, they also provide us with a fascinating example, or set of examples, of the codification of narrative by a great medieval writer.

Ostensibly written to inspire young knights to follow recent exemplars of chivalric honour, Froissart’s Chronicles have tended to receive criticism for their ideological focus and socially elitist view of episodes and events. However, more recent commentators (in part reflecting concerns of the current age) have also found a sophisticated depth and range in the work, and evidence of a writer capable of using complex shifts in perspective to retell events (weighing their potential as “stories”), and further, a discrete sense of irony.

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