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The Book of the Duke of True Lovers   By:

The Book of the Duke of True Lovers by Christiné de Pisan

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THE BOOK OF THE DUKE OF TRUE LOVERS

NOW FIRST TRANSLATED FROM THE MIDDLE FRENCH OF CHRISTINE DE PISAN WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ALICE KEMP WELCH. THE BALLADS RENDERED INTO THE ORIGINAL METRES BY LAURENCE BINYON & ERIC R. D. MACLAGAN

THE MEDIEVAL LIBRARY UNDER THE GENERAL EDITORSHIP OF SIR ISRAEL GOLLANCZ, Litt. D., F.B.A.

[Illustration: The Book Of The Duke Of True Lovers Now First Translated From the Middle French of Christiné de Pisan, by Alice Kemp Welch. Chatto and Windus. London MCMVIII. ]

The title on the reverse of this page, engraved upon the wood, was designed by Miss Blanche C. Hunter , and embodies the only authentic portrait of Christine De Pisan , engaged in writing, from the MS. now in the Bibliothèque Royale, Brussels.

[Illustration: Ci commence le liure du duc des vrays amans. ]

NEW YORK OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS AMERICAN BRANCH

All Rights reserved

Printed in England at The Ballantyne Press Spottiswoode, Ballantyne & Co. Ltd. Colchester, London & Eton

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE

The only two known MSS., both early fifteenth century French, of the love story here rendered into English prose, are the one in the Bibliothèque Nationale (836), and that in the British Museum (Harley, 4431).

The MS. in the Bibliothèque Nationale forms one of the treasures of the famous collection of MSS. made by Jean, Duc de Berry, the Mecænas of illuminated MSS. At his death it passed into the possession of his daughter Marie, who, by marriage, had become Duchesse de Bourbon. When, in the reign of François I., the Connétable de Bourbon, to whom it had descended, was disgraced, the king seized his books and MSS., and carried them off to Fontainebleau, well pleased to add by any means, righteous or unrighteous, to the treasures of the royal library. Here this MS. and others remained until the reign of Charles IX., when they were removed to Paris, and placed in the Bibliothèque du Roi, now the world famous Bibliothèque Nationale.

The MS. in the British Museum has also had an interesting and chequered career. It was originally presented by Christine de Pisan to Isabelle of Bavaria, the queen of Charles VI. of France, whose books and MSS. were, in 1425, acquired by John, Duke of Bedford, Regent of France. It is more than probable that this MS. was amongst these and was brought to England, for the various signatures on the enclosing parchment would certainly seem to indicate that this was the case. Late in the fifteenth century the MS. was sold to one of the most celebrated bibliophiles of the day, Louis of Bruges. After this, there is a blank in its history, until, in the seventeenth century, we find it once more in England, in the possession of Henry, Duke of Newcastle, whose grand daughter married Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford, the founder of the splendid collection of MSS. and books purchased in 1754 for the British Museum, and now known as the Harleian Collection.

The writer of the story, Christine de Pisan, was one of the world's many famous women, and one who, by her life and work, created an ideal for womankind that of sweetness and strength. Born in Venice in 1363, she was, when five years of age, taken by her mother to Paris, to join her father, Thomas de Pisan, who had been summoned thither by the king, Charles V., to serve as his astrologer, in which service he remained until the king's death. The Court of Charles V. was, in spite of the constant warfare that troubled his kingdom, at once most cultured and refined, and it was in such surroundings that Christine was brought up. At the age of fifteen she was married to the king's notary and secretary, Etienne de Castel, a gentleman of Picardy, who, however, died some ten years later, leaving her with three children to provide for... Continue reading book >>




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