François Villon
François Villon (c. 1431 – after 5 January 1463) was a French poet, thief, and vagabond. He is perhaps best known for his Testaments and his Ballade des Pendus
Ballade des pendus
The Ballade des pendus, also known as Epitaphe Villon or Frères humains, is the best-known poem by François Villon. It is commonly acknowledged, even if not clearly established, that Villon wrote it during his imprisonment awaiting his execution following the Ferrebouc affair, in which a pontifical...

, written while in prison. The question "Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?", taken from the Ballade des dames du temps jadis
Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis
The Ballade des dames du temps jadis is a poem by François Villon which celebrates famous women in history and mythology, and a prominent example of the "Ubi Sunt ?" genre...

and translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, and was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement,...

 as "Where are the snows of yesteryear?", is one of the most famous lines of translated secular poetry in the English-speaking world.


Villon's real surname has been a matter of dispute; he has been called François de Montcorbier and François Des Loges and other names, though in literature Villon is the sole name used. Villon was born in 1431, almost certainly in Paris. The singular poems called Testaments, which form his chief if not his only certain work, are largely autobiographical.

It appears that he was born in poverty and that his father died in his youth, but that his mother was still living when her son was thirty years old. The name "Villon" was stated by the sixteenth-century historian Claude Fauchet
Claude Fauchet (historian)
Claude Fauchet was a French historian and antiquary.He was born at Paris; of his early life few particulars are known. He applied himself to the study of the early French chroniclers, and proposed to publish extracts which would throw light on the first periods of the monarchy...

 to be merely a common noun, signifying "cheat" or "rascal," but this seems to be a mistake. It is, however, certain that Villon was a person of loose life, and that he continued, throughout his recorded life, a reckless way of living common among the wilder youth of the University of Paris
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

. It is possible that he derived his surname from his uncle, a close friend and benefactor named Guillaume de Villon, chaplain in the collegiate church of Saint-Benoît-le-Bestourne, and a professor of canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

, who took Villon into his house.

Villon became a student in arts, perhaps at about twelve years of age. He received a bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 in 1449 and a master's degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 in 1452. Between this year and 1455, nothing is known of his activities. As the author of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article writes, "Attempts have been made, in the usual fashion of conjectural biography, to fill up the gap with what a young graduate of Bohemian
Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic or literary pursuits...

 tendencies would, could, or might have done, but they are mainly futile."

On 5 June 1455, the first major recorded incident of his life occurred. In the company of a priest named Giles and a girl named Isabeau, he met, in the Rue Saint-Jacques, a Breton, Jean le Hardi, a master of arts, who was also with a priest, Philippe Chermoye (or Sermoise or Sermaise). A scuffle broke out, daggers were drawn and Sermaise, who is accused of having threatened and attacked Villon and drawn the first blood, not only received a dagger-thrust in return, but a blow from a stone, which struck him down. He died of his wounds. Villon fled, and was sentenced to banishment – a sentence which was remitted in January 1456 by a pardon from King Charles VII
Charles VII of France
Charles VII , called the Victorious or the Well-Served , was King of France from 1422 to his death, though he was initially opposed by Henry VI of England, whose Regent, the Duke of Bedford, ruled much of France including the capital, Paris...

 after he received the second of two petitions which made the claim that Sermaise had forgiven Villon before he died. Two different versions of the formal pardon exist; in one, the culprit is identified as "François des Loges, autrement dit Villon" ("François des Loges, otherwise called Villon"), in the other as "François de Montcorbier." He is also said to have named himself to the barber-surgeon who dressed his wounds as "Michel Mouton." The documents of this affair at least confirm the date of his birth, by presenting him as twenty-six years old or thereabouts. As a known murderer Villon could not continue his privileged life as a teacher at the Collège de Navarre
Collège de Navarre
The College of Navarre was one of the colleges of the historic University of Paris, rivaling the Sorbonne and renowned for its library. It was founded by Queen Joan I of Navarre in 1305, who provided for three departments, the arts with 20 students, philosophy with 30 and theology with 20...

 or get reputable employment; thus, he was forced to sing in inns to survive.

By the end of 1456, he was again in trouble. In his first brawl, "la femme Isabeau" is only generally named, and it is impossible to say whether she had anything to do with the quarrel. In the second, Catherine de Vaucelles, whom he mentioned several times in his poems, was the declared cause of a scuffle in which Villon was so severely beaten that, to escape ridicule, he fled to Angers
Angers is the main city in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France about south-west of Paris. Angers is located in the French region known by its pre-revolutionary, provincial name, Anjou, and its inhabitants are called Angevins....

, where he had an uncle who was a monk. Before leaving Paris, he composed what is now known as the Petit Testament, Lais, or "Legacy."

Around Christmas 1456, the chapel of the Collège de Navarre was broken open and five hundred gold crowns stolen. The robbery was not discovered until March of the next year, and it was not until May that the police came on the track of a gang of student-robbers, owing to the indiscretion of one of them, Guy Tabarie. A year more passed, when Tabarie, after being arrested, turned king's evidence and accused the absent Villon of being the ringleader, and of having gone to Angers, partly at least, to arrange similar burglaries there. Villon, for either this or another crime, was sentenced to banishment; he did not attempt to return to Paris. For four years, he was a wanderer. He may have been, as his friends Regnier de Montigny and Colin des Cayeux were, a member of a wandering gang of thieves. Villon was homosexual. It is certain that he corresponded with Charles, duc d'Orléans
Charles, duc d'Orléans
Charles of Valois was Duke of Orléans from 1407, following the murder of his father, Louis I, Duke of Orléans, on the orders of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy...

 at least once (in 1457) and it is likely that he resided for some period at that prince's court at Château Blois. He had also something to do with another prince of the blood, Jean of Bourbon, and there is evidence that he visited Poitou
Poitou was a province of west-central France whose capital city was Poitiers.The region of Poitou was called Thifalia in the sixth century....

, Dauphiné
The Dauphiné or Dauphiné Viennois is a former province in southeastern France, whose area roughly corresponded to that of the present departments of :Isère, :Drôme, and :Hautes-Alpes....

, and other places.

The next date for which there are recorded whereabouts for Villon is the summer of 1461; Villon wrote that he spent that summer in the bishop's prison at Meung-sur-Loire
Meung-sur-Loire is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France.It was the site of the Battle of Meung-sur-Loire in 1429. In fiction, it has been referenced by Alexandre Dumas in The Three Musketeers as the village where d'Artagnan, en route to join the King's Musketeers in Paris,...

. His crime is not known, but is supposed to have been church-robbing; and his enemy, or at least judge, was Thibault d'Aussigny, who held the see of Orléans. Villon owed his release to a general jail-delivery at the accession of King Louis XI
Louis XI of France
Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

 and became a free man again on 2 October 1461.

In 1461, he wrote his most famous work, the Grand Testament. In the autumn of 1462, he was once more living in the cloister
A cloister is a rectangular open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries, with open arcades on the inner side, running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth...

s of Saint-Benoît
-Canada:*Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, Quebec, a municipality in the province of Quebec*Saint-Benoît-Labre, Quebec, a municipality in the province of Quebec-France:*Saint-Benoît, Ain, in the Ain département...

 and in November, he was imprisoned for theft in the fortress that stood at what is now Place du Châtelet
Place du Châtelet
The Place du Châtelet is a public square in Paris, on the right bank of the river Seine, on the borderline between the 1st and 4th arrondissements...

 in Paris. In default of evidence, the old charge of the college of Navarre was revived, and even a royal pardon did not bar the demand for restitution. Bail was accepted; however, Villon fell promptly into a street quarrel. He was arrested, tortured and condemned to be hanged ("pendu et étranglé"), but the sentence was commuted to banishment by the parlement
Parlements were regional legislative bodies in Ancien Régime France.The political institutions of the Parlement in Ancien Régime France developed out of the previous council of the king, the Conseil du roi or curia regis, and consequently had ancient and customary rights of consultation and...

 on 5 January 1463.


Villon was a great innovator in terms of the themes of poetry and, through these themes, a great renovator of the forms. He understood perfectly the medieval courtly ideal, but he often chose to write against the grain, reversing the values and celebrating the lowlifes destined for the gallows, falling happily into parody or lewd jokes, and constantly innovating in his diction and vocabulary; a few minor poems make extensive use of Parisian thieves' slang. Still Villon's verse is mostly about his own life, a record of poverty, trouble, and trial which was certainly shared by his poems' intended audience.

In 1461, at the age of thirty, Villon began to compose the works which he named Le grand testament (1461–1462). This "testament" has generally been judged Villon's greatest work, and there is evidence in the work itself that Villon felt the same.

The 2023 verses of the Grand testament are marked by the immediate prospect of death by hanging and frequently describe other forms of misery and death. It mixes reflections on the passing of time, bitter derision, invective, and religious fervor. This mixed tone of tragic sincerity stands in contrast to the other poets of the time.

In one of these poems "Ballade des dames du temps jadis
Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis
The Ballade des dames du temps jadis is a poem by François Villon which celebrates famous women in history and mythology, and a prominent example of the "Ubi Sunt ?" genre...

("The Ballad of Yesterday's Belles"), each stanza and the concluding envoi
In poetry, an envoi is a short stanza at the end of a poem used either to address an imagined or actual person or to comment on the preceding body of the poem.-Form:...

asks after the fate of various celebrated women, including Héloise
Heloise may refer to:* Heloise , medieval author, wife of Abelard* Heloise , advice columnist* Heloise , a main cartoon character from the show Jimmy Two-Shoes...

 and Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" , is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the...

, and ends with the same semi-ironic question:

Dictes moy ou n'en quel pays
Est Flora le belle Romaine
Archipiades, ne Thaïs,
Qui fut sa cousine germaine,
Echo parlant quant bruyt on maine
Dessus riviere ou sus estan,
Qui beaulté ot trop plus qu'humaine.
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?"

Tell me where, in which country

Is Flora

Flora (mythology)
In Roman mythology, Flora was a goddess of flowers and the season of spring. While she was otherwise a relatively minor figure in Roman mythology, being one among several fertility goddesses, her association with the spring gave her particular importance at the coming of springtime...

, the beautiful Roman;

Archipiada (Alcibiades
Alcibiades, son of Clinias, from the deme of Scambonidae , was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general. He was the last famous member of his mother's aristocratic family, the Alcmaeonidae, which fell from prominence after the Peloponnesian War...

?), and Thaïs

Who was her cousin;

Echo, speaking when one makes noise

Over river or on pond,

Who had a beauty too much more than human?

Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear!

This same "Ballade des dames du temps jadis" was famously translated into English in 1870 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, and was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement,...

 as "Ballade of Dead Ladies." Rossetti translated the refrain as "But where are the snows of yester-year?"

A complete English translation of Villon's surviving works, with extensive notes, was published by Anthony Bonner in 1960. A translation of "The Legacy" and "The Testament" by the American poet Galway Kinnell
Galway Kinnell
Galway Kinnell is an American poet. He was Poet Laureate of Vermont from 1989 to 1993. An admitted follower of Walt Whitman, Kinnell rejects the idea of seeking fulfillment by escaping into the imaginary world. His best-loved and most anthologized poems are "St...

 appeared in 1965 and was revised in 1977. A particularly lively translation into English of selected poems was made by Stephen Rodefer
Stephen Rodefer
Stephen Rodefer is an American poet and painter who lives in Paris and London. Rodefer is one of the founders of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry movement...

 in 1968, under the pen name Jean Calais.
Translations of three other poems by Villon, plus translations of two into rhyming cant by William Ernest Henley
William Ernest Henley
William Ernest Henley was an English poet, critic and editor, best remembered for his 1875 poem "Invictus".-Life and career:...

 can be read on Anthony Weir's "Beyond-the-Pale"

Critical views

Villon, nearly unknown in his own time and published by Antoine Vérard
Antoine Vérard
Antoine Vérard was a late 15th and early 16th century French publisher, bookmaker and bookseller.-Life:The colophon of a 1485 edition of the Catholicon abbreviatum, the first French-Latin dictionary, which dates to 1485, indicates that Antoine Vérard was based at the heart of the bookselling and...

, was rediscovered in the 16th century when his works were published by Clément Marot
Clément Marot
Clément Marot was a French poet of the Renaissance period.-Youth:Marot was born at Cahors, the capital of the province of Quercy, some time during the winter of 1496-1497. His father, Jean Marot , whose more correct name appears to have been des Mares, Marais or Marets, was a Norman from the Caen...


The most commonly featured motifs that can be found in Villon's poetry are "carpe diem
Carpe diem
Carpe diem is a phrase from a Latin poem by Horace that has become an aphorism. It is popularly translated as "seize the day"...

", "ubi sunt
Ubi sunt
Ubi sunt is a phrase taken from the Latin Ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerunt?, meaning "Where are those who were before us?"...

", "memento mori
Memento mori
Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as "Remember your mortality", "Remember you must die" or "Remember you will die". It names a genre of artistic work which varies widely, but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their own mortality...

" and "danse macabre
Danse Macabre
Dance of Death, also variously called Danse Macabre , Danza de la Muerte , Dansa de la Mort , Danza Macabra , Dança da Morte , Totentanz , Dodendans , is an artistic genre of late-medieval allegory on the universality of death: no matter one's...


In 1960, the Greek artist "Nonda
Nonda was a leading Greek artist of the school of Paris. He was known for his outdoor installations under the Pont Neuf Bridge in Paris as well as his unconventional use of cow's blood as a medium.-External links:*...

" dedicated an entire one man art show to François Villon with the support of André Malraux
André Malraux
André Malraux DSO was a French adventurer, award-winning author, and statesman. Having traveled extensively in Indochina and China, Malraux was noted especially for his novel entitled La Condition Humaine , which won the Prix Goncourt...

. This took place under the arches of the Pont Neuf
Pont Neuf
The Pont Neuf is, despite its name, the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris, France. Its name, which was given to distinguish it from older bridges that were lined on both sides with houses, has remained....

 and was dominated by a gigantic ten-meter canvas entitled Hommage à Villon depicting the poet at a banquet table with his concubines.

See also Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...

's musical setting of Villon's Le Testament as a work of literary criticism concerning the relationship of words and music (in next category below, under Depictions).

As is typical of much contemporary scholarship about medieval authors, some commentators question whether a man by the name of François Villon actually existed. Jean-Claude Mühlethaler introduces his translation of Villon's works into modern English by questioning whether François Villon was a pseudonym for an educated jurist knowledgeable in contemporary gossip in Paris. Roger Dragonetti makes a similar claim.

Depictions and Popular Culture

In 1901 the playwright and Irish MP Justin Huntly McCarthy wrote a play, "If I Were King
If I Were King
If I Were King is a 1938 American biographical historical drama film starring Ronald Colman as medieval poet François Villon, and featuring Basil Rathbone and Frances Dee...

", imagining a swashbuckling Villon matching wits with Louis XI, climaxing with Villon finding love in Louis' court and saving Paris from the Duke of Burgundy when Louis makes him Constable of France
Constable of France
The Constable of France , as the First Officer of the Crown, was one of the original five Great Officers of the Crown of France and Commander in Chief of the army. He, theoretically, as Lieutenant-general of the King, outranked all the nobles and was second-in-command only to the King...

 for a week. Though largely fictitious (there is no evidence Villon and Louis even met), this proved to be a long-running success for the actor Sir George Alexander and a perennial on stage and screen for the next several decades.

Daniela Fischerová wrote a play in Czech that focused on Villon's trial called "Hodina mezi psem a vlkem"--translated to "Dog and Wolf" but literally translates as "The Hour Between Dog and Wolf."

If I Were King was filmed as a straight drama twice, as a silent in 1920 with William Farnum
William Farnum
William Farnum was a major movie actor. One of three brothers, Farnum grew up in a family of actors. He made his acting debut at the age of ten in Richmond, Virginia in a production of Julius Caesar, with Edwin Booth playing the title character...

 as Villon and Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber, Sr.
Fritz Reuter Leiber Sr. , was an was a American actor . Highly respected as a Shakespearean actor on stage, he also had a successful career in film...

 as Louis, and as a talkie in 1938 with Ronald Colman
Ronald Colman
Ronald Charles Colman was an English actor.-Early years:He was born in Richmond, Surrey, England, the second son and fourth child of Charles Colman and his wife Marjory Read Fraser. His siblings included Eric, Edith, and Marjorie. He was educated at boarding school in Littlehampton, where he...

 as Francis Villon and Basil Rathbone
Basil Rathbone
Sir Basil Rathbone, KBE, MC, Kt was an English actor. He rose to prominence in England as a Shakespearean stage actor and went on to appear in over 70 films, primarily costume dramas, swashbucklers, and, occasionally, horror films...

 as Louis. In 1927, John Barrymore
John Barrymore
John Sidney Blyth , better known as John Barrymore, was an acclaimed American actor. He first gained fame as a handsome stage actor in light comedy, then high drama and culminating in groundbreaking portrayals in Shakespearean plays Hamlet and Richard III...

 also starred as Villon in The Beloved Rogue
The Beloved Rogue
The Beloved Rogue is a 1927 American silent film, loosely based on the life of the 15th century French poet, François Villon. The film was directed by Alan Crosland for United Artists....

, directed by Alan Crosland
Alan Crosland
Alan Crosland was an American stage actor and film director.-Early life and career:Born in New York City, New York to a well-to-do family, Alan Crosland attended Dartmouth College. After graduation he took a job as a writer with the New York Globe magazine...

 (of The Jazz Singer
The Jazz Singer (1927 film)
The Jazz Singer is a 1927 American musical film. The first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences, its release heralded the commercial ascendance of the "talkies" and the decline of the silent film era. Produced by Warner Bros. with its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system,...

fame), opposite Conrad Veidt
Conrad Veidt
Conrad Veidt was a German actor best remembered for his roles in films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari , The Man Who Laughs , The Thief of Bagdad and Casablanca...

 as Louis. Though not officially based on the McCarthy play, it draws on the same fictitious notions of relations between Villon and Louis.

The 1925 operetta The Vagabond King
The Vagabond King
The Vagabond King is a 1925 operetta by Rudolf Friml in four acts, with a book and lyrics by Brian Hooker and William H. Post, based upon Justin Huntly McCarthy's 1901 romantic play If I Were King...

is also based on the McCarthy play, and it too has been filmed twice – in 1930, with Dennis King and Jeanette MacDonald
Jeanette MacDonald
Jeanette MacDonald was an American singer and actress best remembered for her musical films of the 1930s with Maurice Chevalier and Nelson Eddy...

, and in 1956, with Oreste Kirkop
Oreste Kirkop
Oreste Kirkop was born in Ħamrun in 1923. Oreste made his operatic debut in 1945 as Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana. He continued singing opera with visiting Italian companies and appeared in concert with Tito Gobbi and Maria Caniglia....

 and Kathryn Grayson
Kathryn Grayson
Kathryn Grayson was an American actress and operatic soprano singer.From the age of twelve, Grayson trained as an opera singer. She was under contract to MGM by the early 1940s, soon establishing a career principally through her work in musicals...

. In the operetta, however, Villon is appointed king for twenty-four hours, and must solve all of Louis XI's political problems in that amount of time.

Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director.An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the...

's Baal
Baʿal is a Northwest Semitic title and honorific meaning "master" or "lord" that is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu...

 was written from 1918 to 1919. He based the main character Baal after François Villon. Some of the lyrics Brecht wrote for "Threepenny Opera" are translations or paraphrases of poems by Villon. John Erskine wrote "The Brief Hour of Francious Villon" in 1937, a work of historical fiction. Henry Livings
Henry Livings
Henry Livings was an English playwright and screenwriter, who worked extensively in British television and theatre from the 1960s to the 1990s.-Early life and career:...

' The Quick and the Dead Quick (1961), is an unconventional historical drama about François Villon.

A 1960 play by the Czech author Jan Werich
Jan Werich
Jan Werich was a Czech actor, playwright and writer.-Life:Between 1916 to 1924 he attended "reálné gymnasium" in Křemencová Street in Prague...

 called 'Balada z hadrů' (Balade from drags) was inspired by Villon's work and adapted some of his poems as lyrics for a number of songs.

Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...

's opera Le Testament takes passages from Villon's Le Testament for its libretto to demonstrate radical changes in the relationship of words and music under Villon's pen, changes that Pound believed profoundly influenced English poetry. The opera was first composed by the poet in London, 1920–1921, with the help of pianist Agnes Bedford. It underwent many revisions to better notate the rhythmic relationships between words and music. These included a concert version for the Salle Pleyel in Paris in 1926, a rhythmically complicated score edited by George Antheil
George Antheil
George Antheil was an American avant-garde composer, pianist, author and inventor. A self-described "Bad Boy of Music", his modernist compositions amazed and appalled listeners in Europe and the US during the 1920s with their cacophonous celebration of mechanical devices.Returning permanently to...

 in 1923, a hybrid version of these earlier scores for broadcast by the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 in 1931, and a final version fully edited by Pound in 1933. The 1923 Pound/Antheil version was premiered in 1971 by the San Francisco Opera Western Opera Theater, conducted and recorded by Robert Hughes (Fantasy Records), with Phillip Booth in the role of Villon. Portions of this LP have been re-released on Other Minds audio CD "Ego scriptor cantilenae, The music of Ezra Pound." The opera was first published in March 2008.

In Truman Capote
Truman Capote
Truman Streckfus Persons , known as Truman Capote , was an American author, many of whose short stories, novels, plays, and nonfiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's and the true crime novel In Cold Blood , which he labeled a "nonfiction novel." At...

's novel, In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood is a 1966 book by Truman Capote.In Cold Blood may also refer to:* In Cold Blood , a 1967 film and 1996 miniseries, both based on the book* In Cold Blood...

, there is a brief introduction using the first four lines of Villon's Ballade des Pendus
Ballade des pendus
The Ballade des pendus, also known as Epitaphe Villon or Frères humains, is the best-known poem by François Villon. It is commonly acknowledged, even if not clearly established, that Villon wrote it during his imprisonment awaiting his execution following the Ferrebouc affair, in which a pontifical...


In a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. His best-known books include Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde....

, A lodging for the night, Francis Villon (anglicized spelling), searching for shelter on a freezing winter night, knocks randomly at the door of an old nobleman. Invited in, they talk long into the night. Villon openly admits to being a thief and a scoundrel, but argues that the chivalric values upheld by the old man are no better. The story appears in the collection New Arabian Nights (1882).

In Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
Ryunosuke Akutagawa
was a Japanese writer active in the Taishō period in Japan. He is regarded as the "Father of the Japanese short story". He committed suicide at age of 35 through an overdose of barbital.-Early life:...

's The Life of a Stupid Man, published in 1927 after his suicide, Akutagawa mentions being truly moved by Villon's work. He writes "He found in that poet's many works the 'beautiful male'" and states he feels like he is waiting to be hanged like Villon, unable to keep fighting in life.

In Osamu Dazai
Osamu Dazai
was a Japanese author who is considered one of the foremost fiction writers of 20th-century Japan.-Biography:-Early life:Dazai was born , the eighth surviving child of a wealthy landowner in Kanagi, a remote corner of Japan at the northern tip of Tōhoku in Aomori Prefecture...

's "Villon's Wife" a young woman who is married to a dilletante comes to understand his destitute ways when she takes on the duty of paying off his debts. The ne'er-do-well is a womanizing writer who is unsuccessful. The setting is occupation period Japan.

He is a minor character in Tim Powers
Tim Powers
Timothy Thomas "Tim" Powers is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Powers has won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels Last Call and Declare...

' The Stress of Her Regard
The Stress of Her Regard
The Stress of Her Regard is a 1989 horror/fantasy novel by Tim Powers. It was nominated for the 1990 World Fantasy and Locus Awards in 1990, and won a Mythopoeic Award...

, having lived into the 19th century through his association with the vampiric Lamia of the novel.

Errol Flynn
Errol Flynn
Errol Leslie Flynn was an Australian-born actor. He was known for his romantic swashbuckler roles in Hollywood films, being a legend and his flamboyant lifestyle.-Early life:...

 played Villon in a short TV episode (part of the "Screen Directors' Playhouse"), entitled "The Sword of Villon," directed by George Waggner
George Waggner
George Waggner was an American film director, producer and actor.Born in New York City, he made his film debut as Yousayef in The Sheik . He later went on to appearances in Western films. The first film he directed was Western Trails and his most well-known directorial effort arguably remains The...


Early in the film The Petrified Forest
The Petrified Forest
The Petrified Forest is a 1936 American film, starring Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, and Humphrey Bogart. A precursor of film noir, it was adapted from Robert E. Sherwood's 1936 stage play of the same name...

Bette Davis' character is reading a collection of Villon's poetry. Later she reads a few lines of "Ballad for a Bridegroom" to Leslie Howard's character, and in the final scene she again quotes "Ballad for a Bridegroom."

The Russian bard singer Bulat Okudzhava
Bulat Okudzhava
Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava was a Soviet and Russian poet, writer, musician, novelist, and singer-songwriter. He was one of the founders of the Russian genre called "author song"...

 has a song called "The Prayer of François Villon" (in Russian "Молитва Франсуа Вийона").

The German singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann
Wolf Biermann
Karl Wolf Biermann is a German singer-songwriter and former East German dissident.-Early life:Biermann's father, who worked on the Hamburg docks, was a German Jew and a member of the German Resistance....

 wrote a ballad over Villon, "Ballade auf den Dichter François Villon" in 1968, available on the "Chauseestrasse 131" LP.

The French singer-songwriter Georges Brassens
Georges Brassens
Georges Brassens , 22 October 1921 – 29 October 1981), was a French singer-songwriter and poet.Brassens was born in Sète, a town in southern France near Montpellier...

 has a song called "Ballade des dames du temps jadis", where he puts Villon's poem into music.

The French singer-songwriter Léo Ferré
Léo Ferré
Léo Ferré was a Franco-Monegasque poet, composer, singer and musician.Born in Monaco, Ferré mixed love and melancholy with moral anarchy, lyricism with slang, rhyming verse with prose monologues...

 put Ballade des pendus to music in his album La Violence et l'ennui (1980).

French black metal
Black metal
Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. Common traits include fast tempos, shrieked vocals, highly distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, blast beat drumming, raw recording, and unconventional song structure....

 band Peste Noire
Peste Noire
Peste Noire is a Black metal band from Avignon, France. It was founded by La sale Famine de Valfunde in 2000. La sale Famine has been the main member and creative force behind Peste Noire since its inception, and, to date, all songs were written by La sale Famine Peste Noire is a Black metal band...

 adapted the song into a black metal version entitled "Ballade cuntre les anemis de la France" for their album, "Ballade cuntre lo anemi Francor".

In the role-playing game
Role-playing game
A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development...

, Vampire: the Masquerade
Vampire: The Masquerade
Vampire: The Masquerade is a role-playing game. Created by Mark Rein·Hagen, it was the first of White Wolf Game Studio's World of Darkness role-playing games, based on the Storyteller System and centered around vampires in a modern gothic-punk world....

, by White Wolf, Inc.
White Wolf, Inc.
White Wolf Publishing is an American gaming and book publisher. The company was founded in 1991 as a merger between Lion Rampant and White Wolf Magazine, and was initially led by Mark Rein·Hagen of the former and Steve and Stewart Wieck of the latter. Since White Wolf Publishing, Inc. merged with...

, Villon is portrayed as the vampire prince of Paris.

Villon's Inkwell is an Artifact in the Syfy
Syfy , formerly known as the Sci-Fi Channel and SCI FI, is an American cable television channel featuring science fiction, supernatural, fantasy, reality, paranormal, wrestling, and horror programming. Launched on September 24, 1992, it is part of the entertainment conglomerate NBCUniversal, a...

 show Warehouse 13
Warehouse 13
Warehouse 13 is an American fantasy television series that premiered on July 7, 2009 on the Syfy network.Executive-produced by Jack Kenny and David Simkins, the dramatic comedy from Universal Media Studios has been described as borrowing much from 1980s television series Friday the 13th: The...

. The ink from the inkwell creates a black hole through which items can be passed when it is poured on a solid surface, sort of like a portable hole
Portable hole
In various works of fiction, such as cartoons and Dungeons & Dragons, a portable hole is a device that can be used to contravene the laws of physics. It generally resembles a circular cloth which is placed on a surface to create a hole. If placed on a wall, for example, the user could crawl through...


Further reading

  • Bonner, Anthony, trans. The Complete Works of François Villon. N.Y.: Bantam, 1960.
  • Burl, Aubreuy, Danse Macabre. London: Sutton Publishing, 2000.
  • Kinnell, Galway, trans. The Poems of François Villon. Rpt. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1982.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.