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Also called M OREL , on account of his dark complexion; b. at Vertus in Champagne between 1338 and 1340; d. about 1410. After having finished his classical studies at the episcopal school of Reims, under the poet Guillaume de Marchault, who was a canon of Reims, he studied law at the University of Orléans. He then travelled for some time as the king's messenger in various parts of Europe, in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt ; in the last country, it is said, he was made a slave. On his return to France he was appointed gentleman-usher by Charles V, and was confirmed in his position by Charles VI, whom he accompanied in that capacity on various campaigns in Flanders. In 1381 King Charles VI made him governor of the town of Fismes, and in 1388 bailiff of Senlis; at a later date he lost the position of bailiff, together with his pension and his office at court. Deschamps was a poet of no little merit. His numerous poems, ballads, rondels, lays, and virelays are full of valuable information concerning the political and moral history of his time. He was an honest, religious man, and although a courtier was also a moralist who did not hesitate to condemn the injustice and wrongs that he had seen and experienced. His style is somewhat heavy, but it is vigourous and not lacking in grace.


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