The advent of the Valois to the crown of France with Philip VI (1328), and the consequent Hundred Years War, determined a period of squalor and depression throughout the life of the country. The conditions of culture, which were not flourishing, remained devoid of any new impulse, were extinguished in short horizons: since the most lively part of the medieval tradition was already extinguished, that of the great creative poetry of the century. XII; of the chansons de geste, of the poems of chivalry, only the plot of adventures survived, retold and divulged in prose novels; the work that still dominated the spirits, exhausting in itself all the poetry of the previous age, was the Roman de la Rose. An external allegorism, stylized in a conventional elegance; a didactic purpose, which was perhaps the sign of an intellectual curiosity towards a further development of ideas and studies, but which could not free itself from pedantry, and stagnated fruitlessly in the prolixity of poems and treatises: these are the characteristics that are observed in French literature of the fourteenth century.
According to INTERNETSAILORS, the main rhymers who transmit the poor secrets of that art are Guillaume de Machaut, Eustache Deschamps, Alain Chartier. Machaut, a cleric, musician, who lived between about 1300 and 1377, elaborates the types of ballade, rondeau, chant royal and other closed forms of lyric, while in the dits, in the jugements d’amour, in the allegorical poems, adheres to the vision and concepts of the Roman de la Rose: he was considered the master of a poetic school, of which the Grands Rhétoriqueurs, at the end of the century. XV, welcomed and defended the program again. Eustache Deschamps, who dominates the second half of the fourteenth century, is a direct disciple of Machaut: his immense and unequal work accompanies the life of the time and portrays some elements of realistic and satirical representation from the historical and social occasions that inspired it.. Next to Deschamps, and younger than him, is Christine de Pizan, who, in the Cité des Dames, in the Livre des trois vertus and in other didactic and moral poems, developed an ideal of female wisdom and courtesy: in the very forms of Roman de la Rose, she reacted against the skeptical spirit of Jean de Meung, who, in a literary controversy that broke out around 1400, had defenders Jean de Montreuil, Gontier and Pierre Col, while Gerson, chancellor of the church of Paris, strengthened the cause of Christine, resuming the religious opposition that had already emerged in Guillaume de Digulleville’s Pèlerinage de la vie humaine. Alain Chartier brings to poetry a more lively sense of kindness, of which, for example, the Belle Dame sans merci remained ; in the Livre des quatre Dames he sang the mourning of France after the battle of Azincourt, and in the Quadriloge invectif, which is an allegorical dialogue in prose between France, Noblesse, Clergé and Peuple, expressed the intimate agitation of his country, yearning for order and justice.
Among the prose works that obey the same didactic and moral tendencies, worthy of mention is the book by the Chevalier de La Tour Landry on the education of his daughters, the Ménagier de Paris, a treatise on domestic economics, and above all the historical writings: the Chronique of Jean le Bel, the Livre des faits de bon messire Jean le Maingre dit le Bouciquaut, the Chronique du bon Duc Loys de Bourbon, the Journal d’un bourgeois de Paris (first half of the 15th century), and others. Jean Froissart, who was also the author of a vast adventure poem, Méliador, of “sayings” and ballads, occupies a place analogous to that of Villani in Italian literature, for the Chroniques, which span almost the entire century. XIV.
The feudal courts protected and rewarded love poetry; more than a gentleman and a prince tried it, as the Liv’re des cent ballades testifies, composed around 1390 under the aegis of Jean de Saint Pierre, seneschal of Eu; and the best things of this elegant and mannered art undoubtedly gave the Duke Charles d’Orléans, who from a noble life, overshadowed by a long imprisonment of war with the English (1415-1440), drew a songbook all infused with loving grace and nostalgia. Inspired by the same poetic world, and by a more manifest and more deluded dream of chivalry, the “roi René”, Count of Provence, who held court and announced tournaments and was the author of the Livre du Cueur d’amour épris (1457).