This book explores the textual and visual representation of justice in a corpus of chivalric romances produced in the mid-15th century for noble patrons at the court of Burgundy.
This is the first monograph devoted to manuscripts illuminated by the mid-fifteenth-century artist known as the Wavrin Master, so-called after his chief patron, Jean de Wavrin, chronicler and councillor at the court of Philip the Good of Burgundy. Specializing in the production of pseudo-historical prose romances featuring the putative ancestors of actual Burgundian families, the artist was an attentive interpreter of these texts which were designed to commemorate the chivalric feats of past heroes and to foster their emulation by noble readers of the day. Integral to these heroes’ deeds is the notion of justice, their worth being measured by their ability to remedy criminal acts such as adultery, murder, rape, and usurpation. In a corpus of 10 paper manuscripts containing the texts of 15 romances and over 650 watercolour miniatures, the stylized, expressive images of the Wavrin Master bring out with particular clarity the lessons in justice which these works offered their contemporary audience, many of whom, from the Burgundian dukes downwards, would have been responsible for upholding the law in their territories. Chapters are devoted to issues such as the nature of just war and how it is linked to good rulership; what forms of legal redress the heroines of these tales are able to obtain with or without the help of a male champion; and what responses are available in law to a spouse betrayed by an adulterous partner.