It was with a disillusioned eye that the Flemish diplomat, Philippe de Commynes, wrote his Mémoires concerning the reigns of two French kings, Louis XI and Charles VIII. Breaking from the established practice of straightforward glorification, Commynes' more objective treatment of kings exerted a general influence on late fifteenth-century historiography thanks to the translation of his writings into every major European language.
On the blank endpaper of this copy has been inscribed two intriguing and otherwise unknown French songs. Both anti-Catholic and satirical, they present a cynical view of churchmen as fine connoisseurs of wine and good food. The first song conjures an image of canons and prelates as drunkards who, with the Pope’s approval, cheerily enjoy drinking. The second song starts, it seems, with a very pious verse, ‘I want to become a hermit’, but quickly degenerates into a contemplation of food and its pleasures.
Author: Philippe de Commynes
Title: The historie of Philip de Commines Knight, Lord of Argenton [Translation of his Mémoires] (London, 1596)
Shelfmark: B.4.6 (catalogue record)