One of France’s finest 15th century poets was also a semi-monk… And a party boy, prankster, whore-lover, bandit and even murderer.
In the excellent “Je, François Villon”, Jean Teulé spins a fascinating docu-fiction, based on supposed fact and educated guesswork, around this original bad boy’s turbulent life.
Admired both by classic scribes like Rabelais and Verlaine and by songsters such as Georges Brassens and Bob Dylan, Villon’s life, as told by Teulé, reads like a medieval Tarantino film:
Religiously adopted by a Parisian priest, Villon took full advantage of his protected ‘clark’ status - in short, very difficult to hang - by organising parties in graveyards and routinely hassling one of the most pious women in Paris, plus the city’s despicable chief of police
Villon frequently visited a hooker so vile he would get lost in her multiple layers of grimy flab… Whilst her husband looked on
In order to join a group of mercenaries, he robbed a mother at her son’s grave; killed a prostitute; and delivered his beloved to said mercenaries, so they could have their wicked way with her
No sooner had they done so than the chief of police arrived to brand said girl a prostitute; she subsequently decided to be emprisoned for life in a tiny tower outside a church, where she stayed, trapped, forever
Villon stole two priceless books from Charles d’Orleans, in the hope of selling them to another nobleman, only to lose them in the rain
He went on a looting, raping and pillaging spree with said mercernaries, in which a judge’s sister was gang raped then shot with 200 arrows
He ended up being tortured for 3 months, then returned to Paris, where his poetry had made him a rock star; he once again got into trouble (albeit indirectly), avoided execution for an umpteenth time and was banished from Paris, never to be seen again.
A model for us all then! In any case a cracking book, if you read French of course! If not, just thank your uncle Poisse for this natty resumé ;)