Othon III de Grandson

Othon III de Grandson

Othon III getting killed by Gérard d'Estavayer in duel

I was googling for "duel judiciaire en Suisse", wondering if such duels happened in the area now covered by Switzerland.

A knight named Othon III de Grandson showed up, who died in a duel in Bourg-en-Bresse, the capital of the dukes of Savoy in the province of Bresse.

Struck across the eyes and blinded when lifting his vizor, Graunson repeated to the end: "Je me rendez à Dieu et à ma dame saincte Anne." A Marshal of France came forward to claim the body and give it worthy burial in consecrated soil; for by the Lombard law governing tourneys a knight who refuses to surrender is not truly vanquished.

Braddy, Haldeen. (1938). Messire Oton de Graunson, Chaucer’s Savoyard Friend. Studies in Philology, 35(4), 515–531.

Othon was linked to John of Gaunt and probably met Chaucer in the Savoy Palace. I found this plaque at the Savoy Hotel:

Also in the Palace of the Savoy, Geoffrey Chaucer, first great english poet, came to dine many times with John of Gaunt, and here wrote many of his poems

The 1938 work by Braddy above flags Othon as "Chaucer's Savoyard Friend", but upon reading it, it seems to circle around the issue. Chaucer seems to have been inspired by pieces by Othon, but nothing precise is said.

It gives me the impression that the Savoy Palace was a cosmopolitan node in medieval London, where the English mingled with Savoy and Burgundy and the occasional French, since the plaque at the Savoy Hotel also says:

Here, John of Valois, King of France, when brought to England as a captive by the Black Prince after the battle of Poitiers, was entertained as a prisoner of war, and died April 8th 1364.

The swiss historical dictionary says of Othon III de Grandson:

Born around 1340, died 1397-08-07 in Bourg-en-Bresse. Son of Guillaume. Married Jeanne, fille d'Humbert Allamand in 1365. As a knight, Othon is in the service of England from 1372 to 1386;

He comes back to the land of Vaud at his father's death. He is accused of the death by poisoning of the comte Amédée VII de Savoie. His property is seized; he goes into exile in England in 1392. When rehabilitated and his property recovered, he returned to Sainte-Croix in 1396. Again accused by Gérard d'Estavayer, he dies in the legal duel that opposes him to this accuser.

Othon is the only notable noble poet of this era of french litterature. He knew Chaucer, who inspired him for his Saint-Valentine poetry, which knew great success in France and Spain. He became the prototype of the melancholy lover, dressed in black. This litterary attitude is related to Valentine poetry, where each year a new Lady is chosen, which opposes loyalty, a principle of traditional courtly love. Implicitly, Othon's poetry thus manifests the crisis of courtly ideology.

The count of Savoy, Amédée VII died following an accident on horseback. The doctor was accused of poisoning him, under torture he lay the blame on Othon. Rehabilited in 1396, the rival family of d'Estavayer still went after him, and the much younger Gérard d'Estavayer killed Othon.

139 years later, in 1536 the free cities of Bern and Fribourg took the territories of the house of Savoy between the Jura range and the lake of Geneva, and the age of Knights and Courtly love ended there (or did it end in 1397?).