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At fol. 155, of his manuscript, Astezan states, that Antonio Ferrari, the Carmelite, one of his preceptors, had just been nominated to the bishopric of Tortona, when he died.
Independent of these facts, the manuscript contains some details which were unknown to Muratori. at Pavia that he composed the major part of his light pieces of poetry (fol. 122.) In 1441, he abandoned a playful style of composition, at which period he married the daughter of Barthelemy Carrari, a surgeon of Ast. (MS. page 156.) Towards the year 1450, he undertook a journey to France, where he continued during the two succeeding years, residing for the most part at Blois and Tours. He then returned to his native country, and was still living towards the end of 1461, as appears, evident, since the manuscript concludes with two epitaphs upon Charles VII. who died on the 22d of July of that same
Muratori labours under an error when he states, at p. 1008, that the book De Varietate Fortunæ was written by Astezan about the year 1450; for in the ninth chapter of the first book, at p. 1019, Astezan reproaches the Genoese on account of their permitting the young girls to be too familiar with the boys. On this occasion he narrates an adventure of which he had been an eyewitness in France, near the city of Orleans. Quod ego vidi per gallica rura . Ager Aurelianensi paulum semotus ab urbe : consequently, as we have before stated, he was still in France in 1452, the poem published by Muratori is of a subsequent date.
The document now under review is singularly curious,
as containing a short account of Jeanne d'Arc, which differs in many striking points from the great mass of evidence already extant, respecting that extraordinary woman; and, as the writer was private secretary to the duke of Orleans, half-brother of the Bastard Dunois, and became possessed of his intelligence just as the scenes had been transacted, there can be vo reason to doubt the authenticity of the report handed down by Antonio Astezan.
THE MANUSCRIPT. On the first column of the opening page appears the following title in red letters :
" Ad illustrissimum principem et excellentissimum dominum Karolum, ducem Aurelianensem et Mediolanensem, Antoni Astezani, civis Astensis, libellus incipit de admirabili terre motu qui in regno Neapolitano accidit anno Christi millesimo quadrigentisimo quinquagesimo sexto, die quarto Decembris, nec, non de apparitione crucifri apud Capuam dicti regni civitatem.”
The manuscript is written on very beautiful vellum, containing 158 leaves, or 316 pages, each divided into double columns of 32 to 34 lines. The opening pages of the major part of the books are surrounded by a golden border, embroidered with flowers of various colours and burnished with gold; and the first letters of the principal alinéa are grand majuscule letters alternately decorated with blue and red.
The only figure that appears is, that of an angel supporting the armorial bearings of the house of Orleans, quartered with those of Valentine of Milan, representing
a peacock and two other birds, being the arms of the wife of Louis duke of Orleans, brother of Charles VI. and daughter of the duke of Milan. The angel, so delineated, appears in the first letter of the translation by Astezan, of the Latin poems of the duke of Orleans, a specimen of which is given in the notes to the Diary, in vol. i. page 140.
No doubt can be entertained in regard to the date of this manuscript, as the final page contains two epitaphs on Charles VII. of France, who died in 1461, when the art of printing had been discovered, very shortly after which this volume must have been written.
Although the manuscript of Astezan's poems, like those of the fifteenth century, contains numerous abbreviations, yet the perusal of it is easily accomplished with a little attention, the letters being well formed and perfectly distinct; nor can the authenticity of this manuscript be disputed ; a circumstance further proved from Muratori's acount of the works of Astezan, (Scriptor. Rer. Italicarum, vol. civ. p. 1008,) not making mention of many poems which it contains.
At page 135, of Astezan's manuscript, under the title of Lettres Heroïques, being No. VIII., there are three pieces.
The first is a eulogy upon Charles VII. This book Astezan dedicates to that monarch, and felicitates him upon the recovery, in one year, of the province of Normandy, and more recently of Guienne; and
* Normandy was reconquered in 1449 and 1450, and Guienne in 1451.
in conclusion, he expresses a hope that the taking of Calais will soon purge the French territory of its enemies.
The second piece is dedicated to the duke of Orleans, and contains the abridged history of Jeanne d'Arc, being the curious document that has prompted the present notice respecting this poet; whose testimony, as we have before stated, may not only be regarded as authentic, but of some importance. Astezan wrote in 1435, between five and six
after the adventures of Jeanne d'Arc had taken place; and his employment of first secretary to so illustrious a prince as the duke of Orleans, half-brother of the Bastard Dunois, so intimately connected with the Pucelle, must have afforded him facilities, which very few writers were enabled to compass ; neither could he have ventured to present a series of falsehoods to his employer, who must have been well aware of the truth of his secretary's recital.
ASTEZAN'S Account of LA PUCELLE. Jeanne d'Arc was born on the day of the Epiphany, in a village situated near the frontiers of Champagne, her parents being industrious and pious labouring people. Even on that very day the natives of the village, agitated by a joy, the cause of which was unknown to them, ran in different directions, singing during the space of two hours. The Pucelle was named after a holy fountain of the place."
“ At the early age of seven years her father confided to Jeanne the guardianship of his flocks. One day, being thus occupied, she was then twelve years old, at the
invitation of a shepherd, she repaired to a meadow where her associates were vying with one another in running races; upon which occasion, Jeanne was so rapid in her speed, that the universal cry was, that her feet did not appear to touch the ground. While reposing herself from her fatigues, a young man presented himself before her, and informed her, that she must repair to her mother, who had been making inquiries after her. Convinced in her own mind, that it was her brother or some neighbour, who conveyed to her this summons, Jeanne bent her steps towards the paternal dwelling; when on a sudden, her mother came towards her and expressed dissatisfaction that she should have abandoned the superintendence of her flock. Upon this, Jeanne, astonished, returned to her occupation. In a few seconds after, the clouds assumed a brilliant appearance, and a voice was heard to issue from thence, telling her that she must abandon that course of life; that God had selected her to save the kingdom of France; that she must repair near to the person of Charles VII. and enjoin him to conform to such counsels as she should give.
Jeanne, bewildered with this vision, which she frequently recalled to mind, nevertheless maintained a strict silence during the lapse of five years.* During this period, the miseries wherewith France was assailed attained their acmè, when the same voice again addressed itself to Jeanne, uttering reproaches for the negligence of her conduct.
* Thus, according to Astezan, Jeanne was between seventeen and eighteen years old when she presented herself to Baudricourt; a circumstance that coincides with her own declaration.