Isabel of Portugal and the French Translation of the "Triunfo de las Doñas"
Charity Cannon Willard
Willard, Charity Cannon, "Isabel of Portugal and the French Translation of the ’Triunfo de las Doñas’ ", dans Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire, tome 43, fasc. 3, 1965, Langues et littératures modernes - Moderne taal- en letterkunde, p. 961-969.
It is perhaps inevitable that in the entourage of a personage as celebrated and as picturesque as the third Valois Duke of Burgundy all other personalities should have been somewhat eclipsed. The question of Philip the Good’s personal role in the government of the Burgundian state has been debated at length, but the definitive history of his reign has never been written. One of the most difficult problems which remains to be solved is, precisely, to define the role of the people who were nearest to him.
One of the most elusive of these figures is the Duchess of Burgundy, Isabel of Portugal. It has been assumed that she exercised a considerable influence on both her husband and their son, the future Charles the Bold, but the nature of this influence has never been adequately studied. The late Professor Henri Druout of the University of Dijon was almost alone in calling repeated attention to the need for such a study. Her patronage of the Portuguese humanist and translator Vasco de Lucena is almost the only instance of her intellectual influence at the Burgundian court which is at all well known.
In the matter of her relationship with Vasco de Lucena, however, there exists a curious confusion, for along with quite authentic translations of Quintus Curtius ana of Xenophon he has been persistently cited as the translator of the Triomphe des dames from the original Spanish text of Juan Rodriguez de la Câmara. The error has been so thoroughly established that it has even been recorded in Bossuat’s Manuel bibliographique de la littérature française du moyen âge (Melun, 1951), as well as in the catalogue of the 1959 exhibition of Flemish manuscripts in Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris, Le Mécénat de Philippe le Bon. There the artist who illustrated the best manuscript of the Triomphe des dames (Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale Ms. 10778) was baptised the « Maître de Vasque de Lucène ».