* Michel de Harnes, the Knight-Trouvere *


Michel V of Harnes, called the knight-trouvere, is cetainly the most celebrated member of the House of Harnes. He was at various times the Count of Harnes, Castellan of Cassel and the standard bearer for for the King of France, as well as a crusading knight, and the hero of a war between the kings of France and England. He took up the cross at the church of St. Donat in Bruges, Belgium on Ash Wednesday (February 23) in the year 1200 when he made a pledge with Count Baldwin IX of Flanders and others to make a crusade to the Holy Land. They spent the next two years preparing, finally leaving on April 14, 1202 by sailing from Venice, Italy. However, few of the Flemish knights who left with Baldwin ever made it to the Holy Land, as most were diverted to Constantinople, which they sacked and looted. Baldwin remained in Constantinople, where he was elected Emperor of the city, whereas Michel returned home to take up the cause of the King of France, Philip Augustus, in trying to displace King John of England from the French provinces of Artois, Normandy, Maine, Anjou and Poitou.

The Battle of Bouvines was an important battle fought on July 27, 1214 in which Philip Augustus defeated a combined force of German, English and Flemish knights led by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV, who was allied with Otto's uncle King John. This victory made King Philip sovereign over the five provinces, and greatly weakened King John's position in France. Félix Dehau, an early 20th-century mayor of Bouvines, rebuilt the parish church of Bouvines seven hundred years later to house a series of stained-glass windows commemorating the French victory. One of these windows shown below depicts Philip drinking a toast at the Bouvines church on the eve of battle with some of his most trusted knights - Pierre Mauvoisin, Guillaume des Barres, Galon de Montigny, Hugh and Jean de Mareuil, Matthieu de Montmorency, Jean de Beaumont, and Michel de Harnes, who is the knight kissing Philip's hand. Michel subsequently became one of the heroes of Bouvines by defeating in single-handed combat Eustace of Marquilles, a celebrated Flemish knight who fought on the side of the Emperor.

More to come . . .


Some Related Links
The Counts of Harnes
      Michel of Harnes, the Knight-Trouvere
      The Last Count of Harnes
Descendants of the Counts of Harnes
      The Three Deaths of Uncle Antoine
Harnes Through the Ages





    Jean Renart (about 1200), Roman de la Rose, or Guillaume de Dole - Jean Renart is a Norman troubadour of the 13th century who is credited as the author of a narrative romantic poem written in the old French. This poem tells the story of one Guillaume de Dole, who is a member of the court of the Emperor Conrad. One of the events in the poem is a fictional tournament at Saint Trond, in which Michel of Harnes appears as the champion of a French contingent of knights. Michel in the story is defeated in the tournment in one-on-one combat with the champion of a German contingent from the court of the Emperor and led away as the prisoner of the victor (Baldwin, 2000).

    Master Johannes (before 1206), La Chronique Du Faux Turpin - Bishop Tilpinus, better known as Turpin, was bishop of Reims from about 748 until his death at the end of the 8th century. He was at one time considered to be the author of the legendary Historia Caroli Magni, a Latin history of the life of Charlemagne that is better known as the "Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle" or "La Chronique Du Faux Turpin (Chronicle of the False Turpin)". This chronicle first appeared in the late 12th-century, but claims to come from the pen of Bishop Turpin. It was quite popular in its time and was translated from the original Latin into French for several patrons. Michel of Harnes was one of these patrons, and for many years he was considered to be the actual translator of one of the better known Faux Turpin manuscripts. However, Michel's version is actually a copy of one commissioned by one of Michel's contemporaries, Renaud of Dammartin, Count of Boulogne, who probably engaged the services of his chaplain "Master Johannes" to make a French translation of the Faux Turpin chronicle from the original Latin text (Spiegal, 1993).

    William the Breton (after 1214) Philippide - William (Guillaume) of Breton was a member of the court of King Philip Augustus of France. He is said to have been present at the July 27, 1214 Battle of Bouvines where Philip decisively defeated a superior force sent by Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV (d. 1218). William prepared an account of the battle, in which he makes several mentions of Michel of Harnes, including a narration of how Michel during the battle killed in hand-to-hand combat the celebrated Flemish knight Eustace de Mechelen.

    Michel de Harnes (about 1215), l'Histoire de Philippe-Auguste, Roi de France - This Medieval document is a history of the years 1214 to 1216 in the life of King Philip Auguste of France, and though the author is not mentioned, this chronicle has been attributed by some to Philip's loyal ally and supporter Michel of Harnes (Petit-Dutaillis, 1927; and Spiegal, 1993, p. 270). Only a fragment of the original history remains in the form of a transcription found among the papers of French author and historian Andre Du Chesne (1584-1640). Although neither the author nor the transcriber are known with any certainty, it is generally thought to have been transcribed by Du Chesne from version he came across during his reserches.



    Baldwin, John W. (2000), Aristocratic Life in Medieval France - The Romances of Jean Renart and Gerbert de Montreuil, 1190-1230: John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, p. 40, 76-83. Discusses a medieval depiction of Michel de Harnes by French troubadour Jean Renart at the fictional tournament of Saint Trond.

    DeMarquette, Albert (1856), Précis Historique Sur La Maison de Harnes, 963 à 1230, Suivi d'Une Version Romane, Attribué à Michel de Harnes, de La Chronique Du Faux Turpin: Adam d’Aubers, Imprimeur, Douai, p. 78-83, 107-218. A brief biography of Michel de Harnes, and a discussion and transcription of MIchel's version of the Chronicle of Faux Turpin.

    DeMarquette, Albert (1867), Histoire Generale du Comte de Harnes en Artois, Jusu’a 1789 et de la Connetablie de Flandre: Imprimerie de Lefebvre-Ducrocq, Lille (reprinted 2006 by Livres d’Histoire, Paris), v. 1, p. xxx-xxx.

    Dinaux, M. Arthur (1843), "Michel de Harnes" in Les Trouveres Artisiens: Chez Techener, Librairie, Paris, p. 353-355. Discusses Michel of Harnes as the purported author of the Chronicle of Faux Turpin.

    Duval, Amaury (1832), "Michel de Harnes, vers 1226" in Histoire Litteraire de la France: Chex Firmin Didot, freres Librairies, Paris, v. 17, p. 370-374. Discusses Michel of Harnes as the purported author of the Chronicle of Faux Turpin.

    Lelong, Jacques (1869), Bibliotheque Historique de la France, Imprimerie de Jean Thomas Herrisant, Paris, v. 2, p. 100. Discusses Michel of Harnes as the purported author of the Chronicle of Faux Turpin.

    Oldenbourg, Zoe (1961), Massacre at Montsegur: A History of the Albigensian Crusade: Sterling Publishing Company (2006 edition), p. p. 197. Mentions Michel of Harnes role at the siege of Montesegur.

    Pascallet, E. (1857), “Historique et Genealogique sur la Maison de Harne ou Harnes” in Revue General – Memorial Municipal de France Histoire des Communes, Villes, Provinces, Monument: Au Bureau de la Revue, Chez Ledoyen, Paris, Seconde Annee de la Deuxieme Serie, p. 13-15. A brief biography on Michel de Harnes.

    Paulin, A. (1848), "II. Chronique de Turpin, Traduction Anonyme" in Les Maunuscrits Francois de la Bibliotheque du Roi, etc.: Chez Techener, Librairie, Paris, v. V, p. 22-28. Discusses Michel of Harnes as the purported author of the Chronicle of Faux Turpin.

    Petit-Dutaillis, Charles (1926), Fragment de l'Histoire de Philippe-Auguste, roi de France. Chronique en français des années 1214-1216: Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes, v. 87, p. 98-141. Attribution to Michel of Harnes of the authorship of a fragment of "l'Histoire de Philippe-Auguste, roi de France".

    Speigal, Gabrielle M. (1993), Romancing the Past: The Rise of Vernacular Prose Historiography in Thirteenth-century France: University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, p. 270-272. Discusses Michel of Harnes as the purported author of the Chronicle of Faux Turpin.

    Speigal, Gabrielle M. (1994), "Old French Prose Historiography" in A New History of French Literature: Harvard University, p. 61-66. Discusses Michel of Harnes as the purported author of the Chronicle of Faux Turpin.

    Verbruggen, J.F. (1997), The Art of Warfare in Western Europe During the Middle Ages: Boydell and Brewer, p. 178 & 250. Michel of Harnes at the Battle of Bouvines.

    Ward, Harry Leigh Douglas (1883), Catalogue of Romances in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum: British Museum Dept. of Manuscripts, London, p. 583-587. Discusses Michel of Harnes as the purported author of the Chronicle of Faux Turpin.

    Warlop, Ernest (1975), The Flemish Nobility before 1300: G. Desmet-Huysman, Kortrijk, Belgium, Part 2, vol. 2, p. xxx. Discusses the genealogy of Michel of Harnes.




Copyright © Michael S. Clark, Ph.D., 1998-2020 - All rights reserved.