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Women of Mediæval France Woman: in all ages and in all countries Vol. 5 (of 10)   By:

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[Illustration 1: ODETTE DE CHAMPDIVERS AND CHARLES VI. After the painting by Albrecht de Vriendt. The king, now often idiotic when he was not raving,... To amuse and distract him, and also to strengthen the Burgundian influence, the Duke of Burgundy provided him with a fair child as playmate and mistress. To the sway once held by Valentine over Charles there now succeeded Odette. She was little more than a child, but she became mistress as well as playfellow of the mad king. Of humble origin (daughter of a horse dealer), she wears in court history a name better than that she was born to, Odette de Champdivers; and the people, indulgent of the sin of the mad king, called her "la petite reine" She was happy, it seems, and kind to the king, amused him, was loved by him; and, more true to him than was quite pleasing to the Burgundians, did not play false to France in later years when Burgundy and England were leagued together.]


In all ages and in all countries




PIERCE BUTLER, PH. D. Of Tulane University of Louisiana



COPYRIGHT. 1907, BY GEORGE BARRIE & SONS Entered at Stationers' Hall, London

TO M. L. B. AND J. P. B.


IT is the customary privilege of the author to meet you at the threshold, as it were, bid you welcome, and in his own person explain more fully and freely than he may elsewhere the plan and intent of his book. After you have crossed this imaginary boundary you may judge for yourself, weigh and consider, and condemn even with scant regard for the author's feelings; for as a guest it is your privilege. But here outside I am still speaking as one with authority and unabashed; for I know not, and will not let myself fancy, how the reader will censure me. Though the little that need be said may be said briefly, I trust the reader will be a reader gentle enough to permit me graciously this word of general comment upon the whole work.

From the mediaeval Ladies' Book , of a kind that will be referred to in the following pages, to the very latest volume of Social England , or more aptly, perhaps, to the most local and frivolous Woman's World edited by an Eve in your daily paper, all the little repositories of ebbing gossip help immensely in the composition of a picture of the life of any period. They are not history; by the dignified historian of a few generations ago they were neglected if not scorned; but more and more are they coming to their own as material for history. In like manner the volume hardly claims to be a formal history, but rather ancillary to history. It has been the aim to present pictures from history, scenes from the lives of historic women, but above and through all to give as definite an idea as might be of the life of women at various periods in the history of mediaeval France.

The keenness of your appetite for the repast spread will be the measure of the author's success. But whether I have been successful or not, the purpose was as has been said. Figures more or less familiar in history have been selected as the centrepieces; but scarcely anywhere have I felt myself bound to expound at length the political history of France: that was a business in which few women had a controlling voice, however lively their interest may have been, however pitifully or tragically their fate may have been influenced by battle or politics or mere masculine capricious passion.

"Theirs not to reason why; Theirs but to do or die,"

may be said of the soldier. Of these women of mediaeval France, as of all in the good days of old, it might be better said that it was not even theirs to do; the relief of action was not theirs; but to suffer and to die, without question... Continue reading book >>

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