Jehan Bretel (c.1210 – 1272) was a trouvère. Of his known oeuvre of probably 97 songs, 96 have survived. Judging by his contacts with other trouvères he was famous and popular. Seven works by other trouvères (Jehan de Grieviler, Jehan Erart, Jaques le Vinier, Colart le Boutellier, and Mahieu de Gant) are dedicated to Bretel and he was for a time the "Prince" of the Puy d'Arras.

Bretel held the hereditary post of sergeant at the Abbey of Saint Vaast in Arras, in which capacity he oversaw the rights of the abbacy on the river Scarpe. He is referred to as sergens iretavles de la riviere Saint-Vaast in a document of 1256. His father, Jehan, had held this same post from 1241 (at the latest) until his death in 1244. His grandfather, Jacques, was described as sergent héréditaire around the turn of the century, when there were eight such officials associated with the abbey. The trouvère and his brother were modestly wealthy property owners near Arras, where Jehan died in 1272.

Bretel wrote eight known chansons courtoises,[1] of which seven survive. Bretel dedicated the chanson Li miens chanters to the countess Beatrice, wife of William III of Dampierre and sister of Henry III, Duke of Brabant.

Bretel also participated in eighty-nine jeux partis, nearly half of all recorded jeux partis. Many of these are assigned on the basis of internal evidence (the poets are often named) since they lack rubrics. A few of these are addressed only to a Sire Jehan or just Sire and their ascription to Bretel, though likely, is not certain. About forty different poets from the region around Arras participated in these jeux partis, either as judges or correspondents. Generally these poems are grouped with others by Bretel in the chansonniers, even if he did not initiate them, though those he initiated with the famous trouvère Adam de la Halle are usually grouped with Adam's works.

List of works

Chansons courtoises

Jeux partis


  1. ^ Preserved in the Vatican Library (I-Rvat
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah Attributed by scholarship, but not in the manuscripts.