Francois Villon is one of the great enigmas of French medieval history. A lyric poet of beauty and depth, he was also a murderer, pimp, thief and denizen of the underworld of 15th-century Paris. The book describes a riotous and debauched student life in medieval Paris and Villon's first steps on a life of crime when he was publicly flogged for writing a scurrilous ballad and later involved in a scuffle which ended with his killing a priest. The rest of his short life was a round of arrests, imprisonment and torture, which is contrasted with his time at the court of Charles, Duc d'Orleans at Blois, one of the most magnificent French chateaux and one of the most civilized and artistic courts in Europe. He was finally implicated in a killing of which he was probably innocent, reprieved by Louis XI in a general amnesty designed to restore Paris' dwindling population but disappeared in the winter of 1463, never to be seen again.