Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 October 2020
Le Jouvencel has, until recently, remained a shadowy presence in the canon of late medieval chivalric biographies and treatises. The great historical studies of chivalry make just passing reference to Le Jouvencel and there are only a handful of dedicated studies. This can be explained in part by the lack of a modern, reliable edition: that by Lecestre and Favre, first done in the 1880s and very much of its time, was available only in libraries, and remained difficult to access until the publication of Slatkine’s facsimile in 1996. But the text has perhaps also suffered from being difficult to categorize: was it history or fiction? Biography or autobiography? Romance or military memoir?
Michelle Szkilnik's extensive research on the text, culminating in her new edition, has inspired a flourishing of interest in Le Jouvencel. She was kind enough to invite us to translate the text into English, enabling us to bring this important text by Jean de Bueil for the first time to an English-speaking audience. This has been a challenging task: Bueil was a professional soldier, fluent in the technical language of warfare. We have therefore needed recourse to a group of helpful – indispensable – experts to whom we are extremely grateful. In the first instance, of course, Professor Szkilnik herself: she has been extraordinarily generous not only in inviting us to translate Le Jouvencel, but also in answering queries and offering suggestions. We ourselves, and the whole scholarly world, have good reason to be grateful to her for her determined and imaginative work on a text much less well-known than it should be.
Professor Clifford Rogers, of West Point Military Academy, has been a patient and generous adviser, with an unrivalled knowledge of siege engines and techniques, catapults and cannons. Dr Ralph Moffat, Curator of European Arms and Armour, Glasgow Museums, has invaluable expertise in both French and English sources for arms and armour, tournaments and trials by battle; he is thus uniquely able to identify and to translate a professional vocabulary, and has been just as generous with his time.