Pieteren den Brant

In the early fourteenth century in the city of Geraardsbergen a relatively well-organized group of actors was active. This group was allowed by the town council to do performances during the most important events each year. In the 1420 the group became more prominent when they switched from religious plays to more profane pieces, e.g. the Chanson de Rolande. An act from 1427 shows that this group of actors was directed by Pieteren den Brant, apparently a woodcraftsman by profession, but somehow able to spend much time on stage.

Pieteren den Brant is one of the few authors in the Geraardsbergen Manuscript referred to by name. The text mentioning his name in the opening rubrics is Text 83. It counts 100 lines and gives descriptions of the four temperaments of man: phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine and melancholic. The ideas underlying the text are based on common knowledge of astrology and humorism. The information the reader receives in this text is altogether not very difficult to understand for an average, medieval, urban audience. Pieteren does not seem to know every detail of this theory either. The text becomes even more a ‘humorism for dummies’ by the insertion of stopgaps (e.g. ‘verstaet na mi’ – ‘believe me’).

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