Pierre Desrey

Pierre Desrey de Troyes (c. 1450–1514) was a French chronicler, historian, genealogist and translator. Relatively little is known of his life, but his work is of value to historians.

Pierre Desrey de Troyes
Bornc. 1450
Diedc. 1514
Other namesLatin: Petro Desrey
Known forGenealogie de Godefroi de Buillon

Life and workEdit

Page from the Vergänglichkeitsbuch of Wilhelm Werner, a translation of the Visio Heremitae by Pierre Desrey

Desrey was born around 1450 and died around 1514.[1] He was a native of Troyes. His motto was said to be Tout par honneur (All in good faith).[2] Little is known of his life, but his work indicates that he was well educated and had broad interests.[3] He was a scholar with deep knowledge of the scriptures, a translator and a compiler of history who drew on different sources.[4] In his continuation of the Chronicles de Enguerran de Monstrelet, which includes the whole reign of Charles VIII of France, he describes himself as a "simple orateur de Troyes en Champagne."[5] Since there is no record of his being a member of the clergy, "orateur" may be taken as meaning "prose writer".[6]

Desrey contributed to the Mystère de la Passion de Troyes, and acted in the plays as a member of the Compagnons de Mystère.[7] According to Théophile Boutiot, Desrey was one of the main actors in 1497, and could be called the principal. That year he represented the eternal Father. The town gave him 100 sous for his expenses and effort.[8] His writings include a Latin version of the Danse Macabre (1490), a translation of Nicholas of Lyra's Les Postilles et Expositions des Epistres et Evangilles Dominacales (1493), a translation of Werner Rolevinck's Fleurs et Manières des Temps Passées (1495), a compilation La genealogie avecques les gestes et nobles faitz d'armes du trespreux et renommé prince Godeffroy de Boulion (1504), Parement et triumphe des Dames d'Olivier de la Marche (1510) and contributions on Monstrelet (1512) and Gaguin (1514) to the Grandes Chroniques de France.[3]

Desrey is thought to be the author of several poems, and is also thought to be the author of the Troyes Mémoire.[3] This was apparently written in 1492.[6] It is a set of instructions for artists making tapestries for the Church of Saint-Urbain, Troyes, that would depict legends of Saint Urban and Saint Cecilia. They gave a good sense of the details he thought important as an iconographer, but left considerable freedom of expression to the artist.[1]

Item, to begin the representation ... a domestic tabernacle shaped like a noble palace will be portrayed in which glorious St. Urban will be depicted, dressed as a young schoolboy, hands joined, eyes looking up to heaven, kneeling humbly before an altar.[1]

Desrey's Genealogie de Godefroi de Buillon, completed in 1499, survives only in print. It gives a complete history of the Crusades, starting with the birth of the Chevalier au Cygne (Knight of the Swan), the mythical ancestor of Godfrey of Bouillon (1060–1100), and ending after the accession of Philip IV of France (1268–1314). At least six editions are preserved from the 16th century, published between 1504 and 1580.[4]

Surviving publicationsEdit


  • Pierre Desrey (15 October 1490), Chorea ab eximio Macabro / versibus Alemanicis edita et a Petro Desrey ... nuper emendata (in Latin), Paris: Gui Marchand, for Geoffroy de Marnef – via Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress
  • Pierre Desrey; Vincent de Beauvais (1511), La genealogie avecques les gestes et nobles faitz darmes du trespreux et renommé prince Godeffroy de Boulion et de ses chevaleureux frères Baudouin et Eustace (in French), Michel Le Noir
  • Pierre Desrey (1580), La genealogie et nobles faitz d'armes du trespreux & renommé prince Godeffroy de Buillon ; Aussi le voyage d'outre Mer en la terre saincte, faict par le roy Sainct Loys, & plusieurs autres cronicques (in French), Lyon: François Arnoullet : impr. Basile Bouquet
  • Pierre Desrey; Robert Gaguin (8 May 1516), Les Croniques de France (in French), Nicole de La Chesnaye, translation, Paris: Poncet Le Preux
  • Pierre Desrey; Robert Gaguin (1514), Les grandes croniques, excellens faits et virtueux gestes des très illustres, très chrestiens, magnanimes et victorieux roys de France (in French), Translation, Nicole de La Chesnaye, Galliot Du Pré, Poncet Le Preux
  • Pierre Desrey, Robert Gaguin (1518), La Mer des croniques et mirouer historial de France, jadiz composée en latin par religieuse personne frère Robert Gaguin,... (in French), Translation, Nicole de La Chesnaye, Nicolas de La Barre
  • Pierre Desrey, Archives curieuses de l'histoire de France... 1re série. - Tome 1er: Relation du voyage du roy Charles VIII pour la conqueste du royaume de Naples (in French), Paris: Beauvais , 1834



  1. ^ a b c Pastan, White & Gilbert 2014, p. 15.
  2. ^ Kane 2010, p. 2.
  3. ^ a b c Kane 2010, p. 4.
  4. ^ a b Weill & Suard.
  5. ^ Dacier 1867, p. 35.
  6. ^ a b Kane 2010, p. 5.
  7. ^ Kane 2010, p. 26.
  8. ^ Bibolet 1987, p. xxii.