Legrand himself translated the Sophilogium into the French language. It is not completely identical with the earlier Latin edition, and is a better work.
Parts of it were printed in Lyon in 1513 and in Paris in 1513.
William Caxton translated it into English, and re-titled it the Boke of Good Manners ("Book of Good Manners").
Caxton printed it in 1487 and again in 1500. Other publishers did likewise in English in 1494 (seven editions), 1500, 1507 and 1515.
While Legrand was studying in Paris when probably aged about thirty years, he became one of the outstanding preachers of the day.
The Order of Saint Augustine recognised this gift, and in 1396 appointed him to preach in Paris at the election of a new Prior General.
By the year 1400 he had been appointed as the official Court Preacher by King Charles VI of France.
In that role on Ascension Day 1405 when preaching before the queen and her retinue, he publicly took the queen to task about her extravagance in a time of great poverty. He also excoriated her retinue for their scandalous immorality.
The Queen and her retinue were furious. When the King was informed, he was more pleased than upset, and asked that Legrand preach before him soon afterwards at Pentecost.
Legrand did not hold back from preaching to the king that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was shamefully disregarded in the kingdom of France.
As an example, he said that two additional heavy taxes had been levied within a twelve-month period, yet the king had used none of it to improve national defence – this was during the Hundred Years’ War (1337 to 1453) between England and France.
Legrand’s preaching established him as an influential figure in ecclesiastical and state matters.
Sometime around 1409, he changed from being simply a moral crusader into a party politician during the thirty years of civil war that had then begun.
In January 1412 he was part of a group sent to London in an attempt to have support from France’s arch rival, King Henry IV of England in their struggle for possession of the French monarchy.
A second mission involving Legrand in April 1412 did not succeed in leaving France, but a third mission a month later reached London once again. The mission proved fruitless.
To call Legrand unpatriotic for being part of an overture to the King of England would be to take sides in a complex struggle in France for possession of the French Crown.
Indeed, had those negotiations with King Henry V in England succeeded, the terrible slaughter of the French nobility and military by Henry at the Battle of Agincourt only three years later may never have happened.
Nothing is known of the life of Legrand after 1413. He is generally reported to have died in 1422 or 1425.
Because of his fame he received the honour of being buried in front of the high altar of the Augustinian church in Paris; other manuscripts say Poitiers.
By the time of Legrand’s death, another Augustinian was about to emerge in public life and in the French history of the Hundred Years’ War.
For further reading
Jacques Legrand O.S.A. By Francis Roth O.S.A. In the scholarly historical periodical, Augustiniana, of the Augustinian Historical Institute of Louvain, in August 1957. Pp. 311-326.