[HERALDRY]. Les Rois, Ducs, Comtes, &c. qui furent au grand Tournois à Compiègne en l’an 1238, au mois de Février.

France, Manuscript on paper, c.1600.


Small folio, 330 x 206 mm. ff. [87], of which 8 blank, jumps in later pagination (before p.31, likely missing some early ll.). In French, black-brown ink, C16 secretary hand. Watermark: angel with shield, countermark: Duchesne (cf. Briquet I, 678). 1849 small heraldic shields, c400 in period hand-colouring, 651 blank, all with explanatory caption, final 15 ll. of index and table. All edges untrimmed, title and first ll. a bit browned, modest toning thereafter, marginal repair to first 4 ll. and another, occasional finger-soiling to few lower outer blank corners, couple of tiny marginal wormholes, small brown water stain to lower edge at gutter of last ll. An attractive copy, unbound, part later spine lining. Contemporary ms title, later ‘n. 12’, ‘armes et (?)’, and ms autograph to first page, early doodle (a two-handled pot) in green ink. In folding cloth box.

A lavishly illustrated, unfinished register of arms, comprising the names, arms or banners of all the participants in the tournaments of Compiègne (1238), Mons (1310), Kunere (1396) and others, up to the late C15. The register of arms was a most successful ms genre as late as 1600, providing both historical records of tournaments where one’s ancestors had fought, as well as a reference work for the knowledge of heraldry which gentlemen would find useful, before the great printed heraldic compendia of the C17. The present was probably copied c.1600; Briquet records this watermark, by the papermaker Duchesne, in Remiremont (1608-24), northern France, and Brussels (1616). The ms is attributed to Jean Lalou (d.1601-6), a famous antiquary from Valenciennes, in regions where the watermark was used. The source was probably Valenciennes, B. Mun. MS 806 (C16), a ms register of arms which includes, as here, the most famous jousts at Compiègne, Mons, Tournai, Kunere (Frisia), Lille, Gorinchem, Arras and Ghent (see Vale, p.274). Our ms also includes C15 tournaments and royal entries at Valenciennes and Besançon, up to 1486, which suggests the author had access to further Valenciennes material. The nearly 2000 shields and names record the aristocratic participants, divided by nation (France, the Netherlands, Germany, Flanders, England and Scotland) or city. Among the ‘Anglois’ at Mons were Jan de Cullens and Robert de Hugheley. The 1396 tournament at Kunere, Frisia, was organised for the Count of Hainaut. One at Tournay (1441) includes the participants ‘who came without a city banner, as knights errant in search of adventures’. That of the Feast of Lespinette (1442), in Lille, lists the names of the noble ladies watching ‘in the theatre’. Of the hundreds who turned up to these memorable events, several left with life-changing or fatal wounds; many had ancestors who fought previously. The final table describes verbally the ‘timbre’ (i.e., exterior ornament) of dozens of shields mentioned in the first 20 ll. of the manuscript. An attractive witness to the importance of heraldry as an historical source in the early modern period.

J.E. Vale, ‘Aspects of Chivalric Culture c.1270-1350’ (unpublished PhD thesis, University of York, 1981).
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