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date: 17 October 2019


  • Robert Falck


French city. It is in Northern France, capital of the modern département of Pas-de-Calais, formerly the province of Artois. From the 12th century Arras was an important commercial centre and, increasingly in the 13th century, a bastion of the urban middle class. Much of its activity as a literary and musical centre originated with the Confrérie des Jongleurs et des Bourgeois d’Arras, a lay religious guild whose existence is documented from the last decade of the 12th century to about the mid-14th. During a plague in Arras (according to local legend) the Virgin Mary appeared separately to two jongleurs, Pierre Normand and Itier of Brabant, telling them to go to Arras and there reconcile their differences before Bishop Lambert. When they did this in the church of Notre Dame in Arras the Virgin appeared again and gave them a candle (the sainte chandelle); its wax was poured into the water used to treat the wounds of the plague-stricken, and they were miraculously healed. This prompted the Confrérie; and although written accounts of the miracle in both Latin and French place it at the beginning of the 12th century, the Confrérie was more probably founded nearer the end of the century....

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