By Johan Oosterman
Staging the court of Burgundy. Proceedings of the conference ‘The Splendour of Burgundy, ed. W. Blockmans (Brepols, 2013)
Introduction: ‘Le penultiesme jour de Juing an soixante huit arriva au port de Lecluse en Flandres Marguerite seur a uroy Edouard dAngleterre de laquele le marriage estoit fait au duc Charles de Bourguoigne.’ With this factual description Jehan de Wavrin starts his concise account of the wedding of Charles the Bold and Margaret of York which took place on 1July 1468 in Bruges. Wavrin, a French nobleman who entered into the service of Charles’s father, Philip the Good, wrote an extensive Chronique d’Engleterre in which he mentions this wedding. He tells of the negotiations leading up to the alliance, the seven days Margaret spends in Sluis, the wedding ceremony in Damme, and the entry procession into Bruges. He mentions ‘plusieurs notables misteres, et plaisans au regarder’ in the streets, tournaments, and sumptuous daily banquets ‘which were very elegant and plentiful with several courses and entremets which would take too long to mention, even if I were to do so in brief’. Jehande Wavrin’s description of the wedding is a rather Summary report and it does not always keep to the chronology of events.
Wavrin’s objective is to tell of the impressive festivities he was present at, to give a general impression rather than to present a crystal clear account in full detail. The Excellente Cronike van Vlaanderen (the Excellent Chronicle of Flanders) tells the story quite differently. The description is quite matter of fact and pays much attention to detail, especially in describing the festivities taking place from 1–10 July in Bruges.
Jehan de Wavrin’s memoires and the Excellente Cronike, for this particular period ascribed to Anthonis de Roovere, are only two out of many narrative sources on the subject of the wedding. Though covering the same event, they differ markedly. Wavrin’s version is concise and selective, with the odd personal touch, whereas the Excellente Cronike is objective, elaborate, and strictly chronological in its set-up. Both sources are of great value for those who study the Bruges wedding, with the impact it had on its contemporaries, and the way in which our present-day picture of it came about.