Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris by Eric Jager

bookshelves: published-2014, true-grime, nonfiction, history, winter-20132014, france, e-book, net-galley, paris

Read from February 10 to 17, 2014

ARC received with thanks from Net Galley and Little, Brown and Company in exchange for an honest review.

Description: A riveting true story of murder and detection in 15th-century Paris, by one of the most brilliant medievalists of his generation.

On a chilly November night in 1407, Louis of Orleans was murdered by a band of masked men. The crime stunned and paralyzed France since Louis had often ruled in place of his brother King Charles, who had gone mad. As panic seized Paris, an investigation began. In charge was the Provost of Paris, Guillaume de Tignonville, the city’s chief law enforcement officer–and one of history’s first detectives. As de Tignonville began to investigate, he realized that his hunt for the truth was much more dangerous than he ever could have imagined.

A rich portrait of a distant world, BLOOD ROYAL is a gripping story of conspiracy, crime and an increasingly desperate hunt for the truth. And in Guillaume de Tignonville, we have an unforgettable detective for the ages, a classic gumshoe for a cobblestoned era.

Dedication: For Peg, as always

Opening quote: The detective as knight-errant must nonetheless sally forth, though he knows that his native chivalry … is as hopeless as it is incongruous. David Lehman ‘The Perfect Murder’

Opening: In the 1660s, an unusual parchment scroll was discovered at an old château in the French Pyrenees. Thirty foot long and filled with small, neat script, the scroll had been lost for two and a half centuries. It was the original police report on a high-level assassination whose violent repurcussions has almost destroyed France

Louis I, Duke of Orléans

Guillaume de Tignonville

Page 18:

Guillaume had also befriended Christine de Pizan, a rare woman in a male-dominated world of letters, supporting her defence of women in a famous literary quarrel over ‘The Romance of the Rose’ and even helping her with legal advice.

The Gallows of Montfaucon

Place du Châtelet

Delacroix – Louis d’Orleans showing his mistress

Bal des Ardents


Hôtel Barbette

Rue Vieille du Temple

‘ Less than a year apart in age, the two cousins could not of been more unalike. Louis was slender and fair, with a round pleasant face, while John was short and ugly, with a great square head, heavy brows, and a beaklike nose.’ (Page 124)

Tour Jean Sans Peur, Paris. Tour Jean Sans Peur (John the Fearless) was the ironic name for the Duke of Burgundy


As Andrew points out: ‘So, I love long chancery-hand medieval manuscripts and you should too’, this is a wonderful read and just so prescient of modern detective and forensic procedures. The build up had me searching for images, as witnessed above, and from the crime onwards it was bums on seats in admiration, and terrified awe of, Guillaume de Tignonville.

Modern day take on the King’s illness: Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that affects the way a person acts, thinks, and sees the world. People with schizophrenia have an altered perception of reality, often a significant loss of contact with reality. They may see or hear things that don’t exist, speak in strange or confusing ways, believe that others are trying to harm them, or feel like they’re being constantly watched. With such a blurred line between the real and the imaginary, schizophrenia makes it difficult—even frightening—to negotiate the activities of daily life. In response, people with schizophrenia may withdraw from the outside world or act out in confusion and fear. Source HELPGUIDE.ORG

On the back of this great read I have ordered The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France


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