Jean Froissart’s Chronicles were one of the most popular historical works of the late medieval period. Covering the period between 1322 and 1400, the work focuses on events in England, France, Scotland, Flanders and the Iberian Peninsula. The Chronicles are an important source for the history of the Hundred Years War (1337–1453).
Born in Valenciennes around 1337, Jean Froissart served at the courts of some of the most prominent figures of the 14th century, among whom were Philippa of Hainault (d. 1369), wife of King Edward III (r. 1327–1377), and Duke Wenceslaus of Luxembourg (d. 1383). Because of his various employments, which allowed him to travel extensively, he collected a great deal of material for his Chronicles. The work is full of detail and testifies to the golden age of medieval chivalry.
A large number of manuscripts of Froissart’s Chronicles survive, many of which are lavishly illustrated. The two-volume Harley Froissart (Harley MS 4379 and Harley MS 4380), named after Edward Harley (d. 1741) who owned the manuscripts before they were acquired by the British Museum, is one of the most sumptuous copies of the text. Containing over 20 large images and full-colour foliate borders, the work is a masterpiece of medieval art. Produced in Bruges around 1470, these two manuscripts were later acquired by Philippe de Commynes (d. 1511), a prominent diplomat and historian.