Frakes, Jerold C. The Fate of Fortune in the Early Middle Ages:
The Boethian Tradition. Boston: E. J. Brill, 1988.
FORTUNES STABILNES Charles d'Orléans (1420-1440) Born on November 24, 1394, Charles d'Orléans was imprisoned by the English after the Battle of Agin court in 1415. During his captivity, he learned English, wrote poetry, and read widely, including works by Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower. Freed in 1440, the twice-widowed Charles married Marie de Clèves and fathered the future King Louis XII. Charles retired to Asti, Italy, dying in January 1465.
Written over a period of 20 years, Fortunes Stabilnes includes many different types of poetry, but primarily relies on ballades and rondels within a dream vision framework. Composed during Charles's imprisonment in England, it is written in both French and English. It features numerous plays on words—particularly their sounds, spellings, and meanings—in the shifts between languages. The story combines courtly love and authorship. A lovesick narrator, servant to the God of Love, writes love letters to his lady, who first denies but later accepts his love, and then dies. Mourning deeply, the narrator falls asleep and dreams about meeting Age, who convinces him to regain ownership of his own heart. The narrator awakens, works exhaustively on poetry, and then falls asleep again, dreaming that venus appears, demanding that he choose a new lady. He refuses. Then he glimpses the lady Fortune. Alarmed by the height of her wheel, he cries out and awakens to see the woman from his dream. He confesses his love to her, and they commence an affair.
Charles's ballades consist of three stanzas and an envoi, which use a central image to convey emotion. In Ballade 26, for example, the narrator's "burning heart" expresses his desire; in the envoi, he feels that fire bringing death closer. Early scholarship focused on biographical connections and imagery, but modern studies have begun looking at Charles's work in terms of nationalist identity formation.
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