We’ve all heard of Froissart, and we’ve read the highly abridged versions, but very few indeed have had the benefit of the ‘full Froissart’.
Full Froissart? Although we have omitted irrelevant sections of Book IV to maintain focus on England and Anglo-French relations 1388-1400, this is nevertheless the first edition since 1884 to leave nothing of that subject area out; the full Froissart for English politics 1388-1400.
Book IV is a masterpiece. If his earlier works trumpet too much the incarnation of knightly virtue in the history of his own age, this is not true of his last book - thoughtful and enquiring, it sees beyond chivalry to the processes at work in national and international politics. He is no longer a chronicler but a historian.
Does it matter that Froissart has an alternative explanation for the train of events which put Henry IV on the throne of England? Some historians have found it convenient to ignore, dismiss or refer scornfully to what Froissart went to a lot of trouble to say. Froissart deserves a more respectful consideration as his analysis is the most comprehensive, balanced and well-evidenced of all his contemporaries.
How important is the ‘full Froissart’ to our understanding of the late-fourteenth century? It’s a matter of opinion, possibly controversial, but we invite readers to engage with his thesis and challenge his assertions. Maybe he was right.
Froissart's Book IV: