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Gestes des Chiprois: Philip of Novara’s Estoire

The Estoire, also referred to as the Mémoires because of its autobiographical nature, was written by Philip of Novara towards the middle of the thirteenth century and constitutes the second text in the Gestes manuscript. Philip, a northern Italian-born knight and man of letters, was a prolific author who also wrote a legal treatise (Livre de Philip de Novara or Le livre de forme de plait) explaining the rules of the courtroom in the Kingdoms of Jerusalem and Cyprus, and a moral tract (Les quatre âges de l’homme) which dictates the proper behavior men and women should display at various points in their lives. The Estoire, however, concerns the history of the conflict between Emperor Frederick II and the Ibelin family who, from 1229 until 1243, led the aristocracy living in Cyprus in a fight against the extension of imperial authority into the Kingdoms of Cyprus and Jerusalem. Although Philip wrote the majority of the Estoire in Old French prose, he interrupted his narrative on six occasions to introduce his own songs or poems. These poetic intrusions share many stylistic similarities with the songs that accompanied the troubadour vidas which were written in the West at this time.

Royal Library of Turin, MS Varia 433

Kohler, Charles, ed. Philippe de Novare, Mémoires, 1218-1243. Paris, France: Champion, 1913.

La Monte, John L. and Hubert, Merton Jerome. Trans. Philip de Novare. The Wars of Frederick II Against the Ibelins in Syria and Cyprus. New York, NY; Columbia University Press, 1936.