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Jean Michel

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A French dramatic poet of the fifteenth century, who revised and enlarged the mystery of the Passion composed by Arnoul Gréban. There are three Michels mentioned in connexion with this work. Some consider Bishop Jean Michel of Angers as it author, but this opinion can hardly be maintained. None of his biographers speak of his contributions to the mystery of the Passion; moreover, he died in 1447 and therefore could not have revised the work of Gréban, which first appeared about 1450. A catalogue containing the names of the counsellors of the Paris Parliament mentions a "Maistre Jehan Michel", first physician of King Charles VIII, who was made a counsellor in 1491. We also read in "Le Verger d'Honneur" by André de La Vigne, a contemporary poet, "On 23 August, 1495, there died at Chieri (Piedmont) Maistre Jehan Michel, first physician of the king, most excellent doctor in medicine ". The third Jean Michel, also a doctor, was the physician of the young dauphin, son of Charles VIII. His name appears several times in the cartulary of the University of Angers, and in the books of the medical faculty in that city. He died in 1501. Since the Passion was produced for the first time in its new shape at Angers in 1486, it is probable that its author was the third Jean Michel, but the fact has not been proved.

Besides his contributions to Gréban's Passion, Jean Michel composed another mystery, a Resurrection, which was played at Angers on the occasion of King René's visit to that city. Jean Michel has not the dryness of his predecessor; on the other hand he lacks his accuracy. He incorporates into his mysteries the most extravagant legends and the fantastic information found in the apocryphal writers. He delights in pictures of low city life in the fifteenth century, and his language is often realistic in the extreme.

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