Faux Pas in the Chronicles: What is a Pas d’ Armes?

in The Medieval Chronicle 11
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Identifying a pas d’ armes (a type of fifteenth-century tournament) is not an easy task. Most of the medieval chroniclers of the extant accounts of jousts held by René d’ Anjou in Nancy and Châlons-sur-Marne in the mid fifteenth century call these events joustes. Yet a few contemporary authors, including a chronicler, call them pas. In this essay I will use evidence from chronicles, chivalric biography and a work of fiction to show that a recognizable textual convention is evident in most pas d’ armes accounts. I will also examine modern scholars’ definitions of pas d’ armes. I will then closely analyze the accounts of the events in Nancy and Châlons-sur-Marne to see if they meet the current defining criteria for pas, ascertain whether those criteria should be reconsidered, and determine if attention to the textual convention can help verify whether or not these events were indeed pas d’ armes.

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