Chartier begins his career at the worst time of the Capétiens-Valois dynasty. In 1415 the Battle of Azincourt (Agincourt) destroys the French nobility. Civil war is raging with the Burgundians. In 1420 the Treaty of Troyes disinherits the offspring of Charles VI for the profit of the king of England.
Alain Chartier passes in 1417 from the service of Yolande of Aragon to that of the new dauphin Charles. He promotes the vernacular in French literature and will be compared to Dante. Charles VII becomes titular king in 1422. Chartier is his staunch ally. The king is finally consecrated in 1429. The poet dies circa the following year, leaving unfinished a Livre d'Espérance.
The Livre des Quatres Dames (with an s to quatres) is a staging worthy of Boccaccio written in 1416. Four women lost their friends at Agincourt, respectively killed in battle, imprisoned, disappeared and fled. They compare their misfortunes and their shames.
La Belle Dame sans Mercy, written in 1424, opens a literary controversy. The Lady refuses to consider her suitor who is dying of languor. The novelty of this poem is the claim by a woman for her freedom of choice in love, in contrast to all traditions of courtly poetry. Critics of that time denounce the inexcusable cruelty of the merciless beauty.
The manuscript was prepared before 1460 and includes eleven small and eight large miniatures painted by the Maître du Livre d'Heures de Jean de Dunois, an artist with unknown personal name who led the most important Parisian workshop of illumination between 1435 and 1466.
The epitaph of Charles VII by Simon Gréban was added to the book circa 1475, suggesting that the work was done for someone from the king's entourage. The coat of arms of the first owner is visible but has not been identified.