Biography of Enguerrand De Monstrelet
French chronicler Enguerrand de Monstrelet (c. 1400 – 20 July 1453), was, born in Ponthieu in western Picardy, around the mouth of the river Somme, in a family that seems to have belonged to the lower nobility.
He was most probably a native of Monstrelet, a village situated in the present department of the Somme. His life was spent at Cambrai in the service of Philip, Duke of Burgundy, who was also Count of Flanders. The cartulary of the church of Cambrai proves that in 1436 Enguerrand de Monstrelet was lieutenant of the gavenier; as such it was his duty to collect in the Cambrésis the tax called "gavenne", which was paid to Philip by the tenants of the churches there in return for the protection which he gave them. From 20 June, 1436, to January, 1440, he was bailiff (bailli) of the chapter of Cambrai and he was provost (prévôt) of Cambrai from 1444 to 1446.
He became bailiff of Walincourt on 12 March, 1445, an office which he held till his death.
Enguerrand de Monstrelet, who lived during an agitated period, did not take personal part in the conflicts of the day. To him, perhaps, applies a letter of pardon granted in 1424 to a certain Enguerrand de Monstrelet by Henry IV of England, who then ruled a part of France. Enguerrand, according to this letter, had committed certain highway robberies, believing that he had a sufficient excuse because he robbed the Armagnacs, enemies of the Duke of Burgundy.
He speaks of himself but once, when he relates in the eighty-sixth chapter of the second book of his "Chronicle" that he was present at the interview which Joan of Arc, taken prisoner before Compiègne, had with Philip of Burgundy; and with his usual sincerity and modesty he declares that he does not remember well the words of the duke.
Enguerrand de Monstrelet was married to Jeanne de Valbuon, or Valhuon and had several children by her.
As the abbot of St. Auber stated:
“The 20th day of July, in the year 1453, that honourable and noble man Enguerrand
de Monstrelet, esquire, governor of Cambray, and bailiff of Wallaincourt, departed this life, and was buried at the Cordeliers of Cambray, according to his desire.”
Continuing the work of Froissart, Enguerrand de Monstrelet wrote a Chronique, which covers the period between 1400 and 1444.
His work is called Chronicles ; but we must not, however, consider this title in the sense commonly attached to it, which merely, conveys the idea of simple annals.
The chronicles of Monstrelet are real history, wherein, notwithstanding its imperfections and omissions, are .found all the characteristics of historical writing. He traces events to their source, develops the causes, and traces them with the minutest details; and what renders these chronicles infinitely precious is, his never-failing attention to report all edicts, declarations, summonses, letters, negotiations, and treaties, as justificatory proofs of the truth of the facts he relates.
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.
He relates, but more succinctly, whatsoever he had been informed of as having passed in Germany, Italy, Hungary, Poland: in short, in the different european states.
Enguerrand de Monstrelet had successors and his chronicle received different continuations. The historian, Matthieu d'Escouchy, from Hainault, in the prologue to his own chronicle, states that Monstrelet's "Chronicle" ends at 20 May, 1444.
He picked up the account in 1444 and pursued it until 1461.
Few other anonymous continuators also continued the chronicle from 1444 onwards until 1467, 1471, or later.