Images of Law and Justice in Late Medieval French Chivalric Tales
What view of late medieval knighthood emerges from looking at illuminated manuscripts of French chivalric tales? Illustrations of these texts by the artist known as the Wavrin Master (mid-15th-century) reveals that knights’ deeds of martial prowess were meant not just to redound to their own glory but rather to uphold the law, remedy injustice, and serve the common good.
This project focuses on a group of ten illuminated manuscripts containing French tales of chivalry that were produced by the mid-15th-century artist known as the Wavrin Master. These tales, which feature knights who prove their worth through correcting acts of injustice and transgression such as rape, slander, and tyranny, were owned by some of the most famous book collectors in the Burgundian Netherlands, including the duke Philip the Good and members of his entourage. The project looks at the way in which the images illustrating these narratives engage with many of the key legal, moral, and political issues of the day, such as just war, judicial combat (duels), and how men and women were represented before the law.
Rosalind Brown-Grant, French Romance of the Later Middle Ages: Gender, Morality, and Desire, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Rosalind Brown-Grant, Anne D. Hedeman and Bernard Ribémont, eds, Textual and Visual Representations of Power and Justice in Medieval France: Manuscripts and Early Printed Books, Surrey/Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2015.
Rosalind Brown-Grant and Rebecca Dixon, eds, Text/Image Relations in Medieval French and Burgundian Culture (Fourteenth-Sixteenth Centuries), Turnhout: Brepols, 2015.