French in Angevin Southern Italy
The corpus of French texts coming from southern Italy has been characterized as “limited but heterogeneous” (cf. Formisano and Lee). The circumstances of both political involvement and literary activity differed greatly from those in the north, so that the types of French language texts produced in Southern Italy differed as well. This corpus includes:
- Diplomatic records from the court of Charles I
- Original literary compositions, including romance and theatrical texts
- Translations of Latin texts into French
- Copies of French works in deluxe, illuminated manuscripts
French language production in the Angevin south can best be understood in the context of the wider cultural programs promoted by successive French rulers, encompassing works of art and architecture as well as literature. Some modern authors have viewed the tension between imported, French techniques, and local, southern Italian artistic styles as a reflection of the political opposition French rulers experienced over the course of their two-century dominion, while others maintain that the French participated willingly in indigenous artistic endeavors, inserting themselves into the local scene rather than imposing their own style.
Unfortunately, in the mid-fourteenth century the bulk of the Angevin library was broken up in 1348, when King Louis of Hungary invaded Naples to avenge the death of his brother.
King Louis offered the contents of the library to his doctor, Giovanni Conversino, who then divided it into three different parts: the first he carried back personally to Hungary for his own use; the second, sent off for his personal use as well, was lost on the journey; and the third he sent to his son, Tommaso del Frignano, whose son Giovanni received only some of the works from the third portion in 1375.
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Rotilli, M. Miniatura francese a Napoli. Benevento: Museo del Sannio,1968.
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Singer, Julie. “Neapolitan Translations, Boccaccio’s ‘Andreuccio da Perugia’ (Decameron II.5).” The Comparatist 31 (2007), 29-49.