Jean de Joinville, seigneur de Joinville (c.1225 - 1317) MP

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Nicknames: "Jeane de Genevil", "Geneville", "John of Joinville"
Birthplace: Champagne, Champagne-Ardenne, France
Death: Died in Champagne, Champagne-Ardenne, France
Occupation: Sénéchal de Champagne
Managed by: Justin Swanström
Last Updated:

About Jean de Joinville, seigneur de Joinville

  • Jean de Joinville (v. 1224 - 24 décembre 1317) est un noble champenois et biographe de saint Louis.
  • Joinville (Jean, sire de), chroniqueur français, né vers 1224, peut-être le 25 décembre 1222), mort entre juillet 1317 et juin 1318, sans doute le 24 décembre 1317. Appartenant à une famille qui occupait le premier rang à la cour de Champagne et possédait la charge de sénéchal, il passa vraisemblablement plusieurs années de son enfance auprès du comte Thibaut dont il était écuyer tranchant en 1241. En 1248, il s'embarqua pour la croisade, ayant dû mettre en gage une grande partie de ses terres et emmenant 9 chevaliers et environ 700 hommes, demeura neuf mois à Chypre, aborda en Égypte en mai ou juin 1249, fut le compagnon de captivité du roi, et, après avoir séjourné à Acre, Césarée, Jaffa et Sidon, revint en France en 1254. Il n'avait joué en résumé qu'un rôle assez modeste, mais il était devenu à ce point l'ami de saint Louis, sous la suzeraineté duquel il était entré en 1253, que les frères du roi, à leur départ de Terre sainte, lui avaient recommandé ce prince, resté sur son conseil.

Partageant dès lors son temps entre la Champagne où il présidait les grands jours de Troyes et la cour de France où saint Louis n'hésitait pas à le faire asseoir auprès de lui et écoutait ses avis et même ses remontrances, il refusa cependant de prendre part à la croisade de 1270. Il déposa en 1282 dans l'enquête qui précéda la canonisation du roi. Chargé par Philippe III d'administrer la Champagne pendant la minorité de Jeanne de Navarre, il vit sa situation augmentée par le mariage de cette comtesse avec Philippe le Bel, qui lui confia d'importantes missions. Entré en 1314 dans la ligne des nobles de Champagne contre le roi, il fit encore partie de l'expédition de Flandre de 1315. Il était véritablement le type du chevalier du XIIIe siècle, considéré comme l'arbitre du bon goût dans les questions d'usage et d'étiquette, lorsqu'à la prière de la reine Jeanne il entreprit eu 1305 de dicter ses mémoires intitulés Histoire de saint Louis qu'il dédia en 1309 à Louis le Hutin.

Cet ouvrage, qui est un des plus anciens textes écrits en prose française, dans une langue intermédiaire entre le français de l'Île-de-France et le lorrain, a été composé très probablement à l'aide de notes et par la juxtaposition de morceaux rédigés en différents temps; ce sont avant tout les souvenirs parfois inexacts d'un témoin, mais Joinville a mis en oeuvre aussi quelques traditions et les détails qu'il tenait de Pierre d'Alençon sur les derniers moments de son père; il a utilisé de même certains passages d'une ancienne réduction des Chroniques de saint Denis et inséré dans son texte une ordonnance du roi sur les baillis et prévôts et les Enseignements de saint Louis à son fils. Le but évident de son histoire est de proposer son héros comme modèle aux rois; il ne faut y chercher ni précision ni critique ni ordre réel; les causes des faits comme leurs conséquences y sont passées sous silence; mais on y trouve des renseignements géographiques, de nombreux traits de moeurs exposés dans un style pittoresque et, mieux encore, un portrait vivant de saint Louis; ses mérites sont ceux d'un peintre. Les chapitres où le sénéchal de Champagne rapporte des mots du roi sur la prud'homie, la manière dont on doit se vêtir, ou le représente rendant la justice ou raconte les souffrances de la reine à Damiette, sont célèbres. On lui a su gré également de sa sincérité, qui lui faisait déclarer qu'il aurait mieux aimé avoir commis trente péchés mortels que d'être lépreux. (Marius Barroux).

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From Wikipedia:

  • Jean de Joinville (c. May 1, 1225 – 24 December 1317) was one of the great chroniclers of medieval France.

Son of Simon de Joinville and Beatrice d'Auxonne, he belonged to a noble family from Champagne. He received an education befitting a young noble at the court of Theobald IV, count of Champagne: reading, writing, and the rudiments of Latin. On the death of his father, he became seneschal of Champagne (and was therefore personally connected to Theobald IV). He was a very pious man and was concerned with the proper administration of the region.

In 1241, he accompanied Theobald to the court of the king of France, Louis IX (the future Saint Louis). In 1244, when Louis organized the Seventh Crusade, Joinville decided to abandon his family to join with the Christian knights just as his father had done 35 years earlier against the Albigensians. At the time of the crusade, Joinville placed himself in the service of the king and became his counsellor and confidant. In 1250, when the king and his troops were captured by the Mameluks in al-Mansourah, Joinville, among the captives, participated in the negotiations and the collection of the ransom. Joinville probably brought himself even closer to the king in the difficult times that followed the failure of the crusade (including the death of his brother Robert, Count of Artois). It was Joinville who advised the king to stay in the Holy Land instead of returning immediately to France as the other lords had wanted; the king followed Joinville's advice. During the following four years spent in the Holy Land Joinville was the constant advisor to the king, who knew that he could count on Joinville's frankness and absolute devotion.

In 1270, Louis IX, although very weakened physically, undertook a new crusade with his three sons. Any enthusiasm Joinville had for the previous crusade had been knocked out of him, and he refused to follow Louis, recognizing the uselessness of the enterprise and convinced that the duty of the king was not to leave the kingdom that needed him. In fact, the expedition was a disaster and the king died outside Tunis on August 25, 1270.

From 1271, the papacy carried out a long inquest on the subject of Louis IX, which ended with his canonization, announced in 1297 by Pope Boniface VIII. As Joinville had been a close friend of the king, his counselor and his confidant, his testimony was invaluable to the inquest, where he appeared as a witness in 1282.

At the request of Jeanne of Navarre, the queen, he began work on the Histoire de Saint Louis, which he completed in 1309. Joinville died on 24 December 1317, over 93 years old, nearly fifty years after the death of Louis.

Life of Saint Louis

Commissioning of the work

Jeanne of Navarre, wife of Philip IV of France (and granddaughter of Count Theobald IV), asked Joinville to write Louis' biography. He then put himself to the task of writing livre des saintes paroles et des bons faiz de nostre saint roy Looÿs (as he himself called it), today known as the Life of Saint Louis. Jeanne of Navarre died on 2 April 1305, while the work was not yet completed. Joinville dedicated it in 1309 to her son, Louis, king of Navarre and count of Champagne, the future Louis X of France.

Composition and date

As noted, the book was not completed when Jeanne of Navarre died in 1305. In addition, the oldest existing manuscript ends with this note: " Ce fu escript en l'an de grace mil .CCC. et .IX. [1309], ou moys d’octovre ". This is not precisely the date of the writing of the manuscript, because it was obviously written later. Therefore it is either the date of the completion of the work by Joinville, or the date of the manuscript which served as the model to the surviving copies. The work was therefore written between 1305 and 1309. By other evidence, one can equally argue that a passage at the very end of the book, relating a dream of Joinville, could not have been written before 1308. Joinville therefore finished his work a short time before giving it to Louis.

Tradition of the text

The surviving manuscripts consist of one old copy of the text and two later copies. The manuscript that was given to Louis has not survived.

The oldest manuscript is obviously very close to the original. It is found in the inventory of 1373 of the library of Charles V of France. Furthermore, according to the illuminations, it can be dated to the years 1330-1340, about 20 years after the original manuscript. This copy remained in the royal library and then passed to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, before reaching Brussels, where it was lost. It was rediscovered only in 1746, when Brussels was taken by French troops. This Brussels manuscript is now located in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. It is one volume of 391 pages in two columns. The first page is decorated with gold and illuminations, and with a painting representing Joinville presenting his book to Louis. The text is divided into paragraphs, each beginning with a gilded letter.

Two editions have been created from one translation of Joinville's text (which does not survive itself), created by Antoine Pierre in 1547 and by Claude Ménard in 1617 respectively. Pierre's text is corrupted from the modifications of the original text and from fanciful additions, while Ménard's is an excellent scholarly work.

Finally, a third copy of the text comes from two manuscripts which appear to date from the second quarter of the 16th century. These are modernized transcriptions with systematic renovation of the language, from one older manuscript and the Brussels manuscript.

General perspectives on the work

Joinville was a knight. He was neither a cleric skilled in composing books, nor a chronicler informed by researching written or oral information. Nevertheless, his writing is sincere and neutral. He wrote about everything he personally experienced during the reign of Saint Louis, essentially the crusade in Egypt and their stay in the Holy Land. His narrative is full of life, anecdotes and even humour. It is more of a personal testimony about the king than a history of his reign.

The freshness and precision of his memories are impressive, especially since he wrote his work some decades after the fact. Certain medievalists explain this by supposing that Joinville had often recounted his past orally or that he had previously committed it to writing before beginning his work.

Joinville speaks almost as much about himself as he does about the king, the subject of his book, but he does it in such a natural manner that he never gives the impression that he wants to place himself above the king. Thus we have an incomparable clarity about the ways of thinking of a 13th century man. For this reason, modern editors have sometimes said the work is more of a memoir than a history or a biography of Saint Louis.

The holy words

The first part of Joinville's work is dedicated to the holy words of the king. Joinville writes about the edifying words of the king and his Christian virtues.

Speeches are very important among Louis' court. His speech is moral and didactic, reflecting the speech of the preachers (Dominicans and Franciscans) who surround him. It transmits a moral and religious teaching and often aims to strengthen the faith of the recipient. An intimacy exists between the king and his followers (his family, confidants, and counselors, among whom are Joinville and Robert de Sorbon) who express themselves particularly in the conversation: the king invites his audience to respond to his questions, often with the aim of instructing them with moral and religious plans. This importance of the royal speech is particularly well rendered by Joinville, who often has his characters speak. He is one of the first memoirists to integrate reconstructed dialogue into a tale. He most often uses a direct style and marks the interventions of his characters with "he said" or "he did." And Joinville never has his characters speak in long monologues: the lessons are always shown from dialogue.

In addition, it is through the words of the king that his profound faith and sanctity are shown. For Joinville, Louis IX embodies the ideal prud'homme - pious, courageous, kind, intelligent and wise, a man who defends the Christian faith by his courage. And in fact, in Joinville's work he shows the king to have an ardent love of God, benevolent to his people, humble, moderate and courteous, wise and just, peaceful, loyal and generous. In some respects Joinville is sometimes not far from writing a hagiography.

Joinville, like his king, was obviously very attached to the Christian religion, to its doctrines, its morality and its practices. For proof of this there is a small work of edification, composed in 1250, titled li romans as ymages des poinz de nostre foi, where Joinville makes a brief commentary on the Credo. But his deep and sincere faith contrasts with the almost exalted Christian heroism of the king. The Christianity of Joinville is closer to that of the common people.

The crusade

Joinville recounts equally the high deeds of Saint Louis, in particular the unfolding of the Seventh Crusade and the following stay in the Holy Land, which occupies most of the book.

[edit] Value of the testimony of Joinville

If Joinville's work is not that of an historian, it is nevertheless completely sincere. When he must mention deeds which he did not witness, he expresses reservations about what he reports by hearsay and he recognizes the debt he owes to other chroniclers. Admittedly, when he talks about the beginning of the reign of Saint Louis, there is some confusion as he did not witness this period personally, but, from the departure of the crusade in 1248, there are few faults where Joinville's memory is concerned, except for a few errors in the particular details.

That being said, it can be asked if the general presentation of the facts is not conditioned by Joinville's own personality, by his conceptions and by his admiration for the king. Perhaps his position as a noble and his distrust for the government of Philip IV were able to amend Louis' memory to give Louis' governance an image closer to that which Joinville considered ideal. But the work does not serve as an organized lesson that envisions the diverse qualities and diverse duties of a sovereign. Joinville leaves the person of the king, the subject of his book, and explains clearly that the successors of the king would be well to follow Louis' example, but he goes no further; he is not writing a work of morality.

The work was influential on Capetian politics, as the Capetians were anxious to exploit the prestige of the king who had died on crusade. But the passage of time and, especially, the neutrality of Joinville and his naïve roughness give his memories an exceptional value.

See The Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville, translated by Ethel Wedgwood (1906) at http://web.archive.org/web/20081011222823/http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/WedLord.html

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Jean "Boutefeux" de Joinville, Sénéchal de Champagne's Timeline

1225
May 1, 1225
Champagne, Champagne-Ardenne, France
1231
August 13, 1231
Age 6
France
1247
1247
Age 21
France
1252
1252
Age 26
Of, Trim, Meath, Ireland
1261
December 11, 1261
Age 36
France
1265
1265
Age 39
France
1281
1281
Age 55
France
1294
1294
Age 68
France
1317
December 24, 1317
Age 92
Champagne, Champagne-Ardenne, France
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