Monstrelet, Enguerrand De

, an eminent French historian, was descended of a noble family, but the names of his parents, and the period of his birth have not been discovered. The place of his birth was probably Picardy, and the time, prior to the close of the fourteenth century. No particulars of his 'early years are known, except that he evinced, when young, a love for application, and a dislike to indolence. The quotations also from Sallust, Livy, Vegetius, and other ancient authors, that occur in his Chronicles, shew that he must have made some progress in Latin literature. He appears to have been resident in Cambray when he composed his history, and passed there the remainder of his life. In 1436 he was nominated to the office of lieutenant du Gavenier of the Cambresis; the gavenier was the collector or receiver of the annual dues payable to the duke of Burgundy, by the subjects of the church in the Cambresis, for the protection of them as earl of Flanders. Monstrelet also held the office of bailiff to the chapter of Cambray from 1436 to 1440, when another was appointed. The respect and consideration which he had now acquired, gained him the dignity of governor of Cambray in 1444, and in the following year he was nominated bailiff of Wallaincourt. He retained both of those places until his death, which happened about the middle of July, in 1453. His character in the register of the Cordeliers, and by the abbot of St. Aubert, was that of “a very honourable and peaceable man;” expressions, says his biographer, that appear simple at first sight, but which contain a real eulogium, if we consider the troublesome times in which Monstrelet lived, the places he held, the interest he must have had sometimes to betray the truth in favour of one of the factions which then divided France, | and caused the revolutions the history of which he has published during the life of the principal actors.

Monstrelet’s work, of which there are folio editions, the first without date, the others 1518, 3 vols. 1572, &c. is called “Chronicles,” but deserves rather to be classed as history, all the characteristics of historical writing being found in it notwithstanding its imperfections and omissions. He traces events to their source, developes the causes, illustrates them with the minutest details; and bestows the utmost attention in producing his authorities from edicts, declarations, &c. His narrative begins on Easter Day in 1400, where that of Froissart ends, and extends to the death of the duke of Burgundy in 1467, but the last thirteen years were written by an unknown author, and it has since been continued by other hands to 1516. After the example of Froissart, he does not confine himself to events that passed in France; he embraces, with almost equal detail, the most remarkable circumstances which happened during his time in Flanders, England, Scotland, and Ireland. But it becomes unnecessary here to expatiate on the particular merits of this work, as they are now known to the English public by the excellent translation lately published by Thomas Johnes, esq. at the Hafod press, in 1810, and which, with his preceding English edition of Froissart, is justly entitled to form a part in every useful library. From the biographical preface to Mr. Johnes’s Monstrelet, we have gleaned the above particulars. 1


Preface as above, from the Memoire* de l’Acedemie de Belles Lettres, by M. Pacier.