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An Anglo-Norman Reader

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Jane Bliss

An Anglo-Norman Miscellany

Satirical, Social, and Moral

Texte intégral

Le Roman des Franceis, by André de Coutances1

  • 1 Dean 220.1. The Roman or Romanz des Franceis is also known as the Arflet. Written before 1204 and (...)

[129va] Il ont dit que riens n’a valu,
Et donc a Arflet n’a chalu
Que boté fu par Chapalu
Li reis Artur en la palu.
Et que le chat l’ocist de guerre,
Puis passa outre en Engleterre [129vb]
Et ne fu pas lenz de conquerre,
Ainz porta corone en la terre,
Et fu sire de la contree.
Ou ont itel fable trovee ?
Mençonge est, Dex le set, provee,
Onc greignor ne fu encontree.

  • 2 This imaginary figure may be intended as Alfred (in Holden’s opinion), or Aldfrith (in Crouch’s), (...)
  • 3 A legendary Welsh beast that Arthur is said to have fought (and beaten). See, for example, Bromwic (...)

‘They [the French] say that not one of them [the English] is worth anything, and that King Arflet2 didn’t care about King Arthur being heaved into a bog by the Cat Palug.3 Next, that the cat killed him in battle, and then came into England; he was not slow to conquer this, and soon wore a crown in the land and was lord of the realm. Where did they find such a tarradiddle? It’s a downright lie, God knows; never was there heard the like!’(vv. 21–32)

1Following some ‘Arthurian’ romances above, I begin the present chapter with a satire on Arthurian material. For this humorous and ‘indelicate’roman, I have used Holden’s text (and its glossary); Crouch’s version was useful to consult, but I have not used his translation. Both editions use five-line numbering across fourline monorhymed stanzas.

  • 4 Parsons and Jongenelen, ‘Saint Nobody’. The figure of Saint Nobody first appears in the thirteenth (...)

2A recent translation from Middle Dutch, of a parodic sermon on ‘Saint Nobody’,4 has recently been brought to my attention. It is a sixteenth-century piece which illustrates the very popular genre of mock sermons; the translators remark that few examples are extant in English and fewer still have been translated. The tone and the exaggerated language, if not the content, of these scurrilous and irreverent pieces (the sermon, and the roman here excerpted) is very similar. The mindset of the audience must have been comparable, even if occasions for performance differed. Broadly, the sermon pillories the church and the roman pillories the French. Examples may be gleaned from a glance through the published translations; most notable is probably Frollo’s advice to the French about how to behave, listing pleasant habits such as cowardice, bad faith, dishonour, and cruelty (see below). The sermon advises drunkenness, incontinence, gluttony, and the like. Elsewhere in the roman, the French are said to be blasphemous; even the English do not go unscathed, being characterized as ‘bon viveurs’ and excessive drinkers.

  • 5 White, The Goshawk, pp. 112–13.
  • 6 Normandy was not then part of what is now France.

3The historian is a man ‘who had found the hurly-burly of present-day lunacy to be less well done than the savage decency of ages long overpowered, and overpowered because they had not been wicked enough to conquer the wickedness that time had brought to accost them.’ T. H. White’s bitter comment fits as well into this chapter as into my previous section entitled Story (whose historians do not, on the whole, display such cynicism).5 Rather than reproduce the long and disgraceful account of Frenchmen’s eating habits, I have chosen to offer André’s take on King Arthur’s battle with King Frollo, thus linking this chapter with the chronicle history of Arthur that is prefaced in Des Grantz Geanz (above). As a Norman, André is no friend of the French:6 he is very scornful of what they say about English history.

Text

  • 7 MS ‘Bailleis’; Holden considers this a mistranscription.

[129vb] Trop ont dit d’Artur grant
enfance,
Quer Artu fu de tel puissance
Que Franceis conquist o sa lance,
Mau eritage mist en France. [40]

Bien savon que Bien et Belin,
Maximïen et Costentin
Furent a Franceis mal veisin
Et France orent, ce est la fin.

D’Engleterre furent tuit rei, [45]
Chescun conquist France endreit
sei.
Chescun en plessa le bofei,
Le gorgeïr et le desrei.

Au rei Artur le deraain,
De celui sommes nos certain, [50]
Voudrent fere plet, mes en vain,
[130ra]
Quer il les out bien soz sa main.

Quant de lor orguil s’averti
Maugré eus toz les converti
Et le païs acuverti ; [55]
Dites si ce est veir parti !

James n’iert jor que il n’i père ;
Douce esteit France, or est amere ;
Mout ourent en Artur dur pere,
Sa sorvenue mout compere. [60]

Mout fu Artur proz et corteis ;
Quant out conquis Chartres et
Bleis
A Paris vint o ses Engleis.

La vile asist, n’en dotez mie, [65]
Mout out bone chevalerie
Et bien estruite et bien garnie,
Si a fierement asallie.

Engleis fierement assalirent,
Franceis merdement defendirent, [70]
Au premier assaut se rendirent
Et hontosement s’en partirent.

A cel partir fu apelee
Paris, ci n’a nule celee,
Qui primes fu Termes nommee [75]
Et mout ert de grant renommee.

Frolles ert apelé le reis
Qu’Artur conquist o ses Engleis,
Et de Frolles sont dit Franceis,
Qui primes ourent non [G] alleis.7[80]

Frolles, qui de France fu sire, [130rb]
Ne sout que faire ne que dire,
Grant mautalent out et grant ire,
Franceis manda a un concire.

Li baron l’ont a ce amis, [85]
Qui ses messages a tramis
A Artur, si li a pramis
Qu’encor porroient estre amis,

Se de sa terre s’en issist
Que a mout grant tort saisseïst, [90]
Et s’il ne la guerpisseïst
De batalle le aasteïst,

Translation

  • 8 These British kings made legendary conquests in France (the IPN in Wace’s Brut, ed. and tr. Weiss, (...)
  • 9 Another exaggeratedly false derivation is coming up shortly, for the French.
  • 10 The Roman baths can still be seen in Paris.

4They’ve talked infantile nonsense about Arthur, for Arthur was so mighty that he conquered the French with his lance and left France a painful inheritance. We know quite well that Belin and Brenne, Maximian and Constantine, were all bad neighbours for France.8 Because they took it, and that’s all there is to say! They were all kings of England, and each one conquered France for himself; each one curbed the arrogance, the boasts and the pride, of the French. As for the last of them, King Arthur, we’re sure about him; they wanted to negotiate in vain, for he had them well under his fist. When he realised their arrogance, he converted them all in spite of themselves and enslaved the whole country. Ask them whether that’s not so far offthe truth! There will never be a day when he isn’t famous there, in France that used to be sweet but is now bitter. He was a tough father to them, and his arrival was expensive! Arthur was extremely worthy and courteous; when he had vanquished Chartres and Blois, and Orleans and the whole land of Etampes, then he and his English came to Paris. He besieged the city, never doubt that; he had wonderful cavalry, well-trained and well-equipped, and fiercely attacked. The English attacked fiercely, and the French defended themsleves like poltroons, giving up at the first assault and shamefully slinking away. Because of this ‘depar-ture’,9 ‘Par-is’ was named — there’s no getting away from it — before, it was called Thermes10 and was highly renowned.

  • 11 A more creditable, and credible, derivation for the name ‘French’ is found in Pseudo-Turpin Chroni (...)

5Frollo was the name of the king whom Arthur conquered with his Englishmen. It’s from Fr-ollo that the Fr-ench are so called, who were previously known as the Gauls.11 Frollo, who was lord of France, had no idea what to do or what to say. He was bad-tempered and very angry, and summoned the French to a meeting. The barons persuaded him to this: he sent messengers to Arthur and promised him they could stay iends if he would get out of his land, that he had grabbed so wrongfully. If he wouldn’t leave, then he challenged him to battle!

Par eus dous, que plus n’i eüst,
Eissi le voleit, ce seüst ;
Cous rendist qui cous receüst [95]
Et plus feïst qui plus peüst.

Artur respondi : ‘Dex i valle !
Defendré mei, s’est qui m’asalle ;
A Paris, en l’isle, sanz falle,
Seit a demein ceste batalle.’[100]

De ça et de la sunt certain
De la batalle a l’endemain ;
Qui veintra tot eit en sa main,
Les bois, les viles et le plain.

Frolles durement menaça, [105]
De jurer ne s’apereça,
Dex tot par membres depeça
Que Artur mal s’i aproça.

Artur, qui n’out pas cuer de glace,
Preisa mout petit sa menace, [110]
Mieuz l’amast a tenir en place
[130va]
Que voer Dieu en mi la face.

Artur, qui out grant desierrer,
Se fist matin apareillier,
Lui et Labagu, son destrier, [115]
Et se fist en l’isle nagier.

Frolles jusqu’a tierce dormi
Et lors, quant il se desdormi,
Endeseetes s’estormi,
Com se l’eüssent point formi. [120]

Franceis, qui moroient d’ennui,
Li distrent : ‘Leverez vos hui ?’
Il dist ‘Aol !’ et de nullui
N’ont Franceis aol, fors de lui.

Tot en gesant, sanz sei drecier, [125]
Se fist Frolles apareiller ;
D’ilonc sunt Franceis costumier
Que en gesant se font chaucier.

Ainz que Frolles se fust armez
S’est tierce fiee pasmez ; [130]
Lors fu des Franceis mout
blasmez,
Mes il lor dist : ‘Ne vos tamez !

Ce me vient de grant hardement,
Mort est Artur veraement.’
Lors les prist toz par serement [135]
Qu’il tendront son
commandement.

‘Comment’, dist il, ‘que il
m’avienge,
De mes bones mors vos sovienge ;
Mar i avra cil qui Diu crienge,
Ne leauté a homme tienge. [140]

Cruel seiez a desmesure, [130vb]
Avel, fei mentie, perjure ;
El vostre garder metez cure,
De l’autrui prenez a dreiture !

Artur vos voudra del suen tendre ; [145]
Prenez le sanz guerredon rendre !
Ainz vos lessiez ardeir ou pendre
Que le vostre veiez despendre.

De dez seiez boens joeors
Et de Deu bons perjureors, [150]
En autri cort richeeors,
Poi fesanz et boens vanteors.

Acreez si ne rendez rien,
Haez ceus qui vos ferunt bien,
Plus ordement vivez que chien [155]
Et seiez tuit armeneisien !’

6Just the two of them, nobody else; I can tell you, that’s what he wanted. They would render all blows received with interest, and each would do the best he could!

  • 12 The battle is said to have taken place on the Île de la Cité, in the middle of the river.

7‘God be my strength!’ cried Arthur in reply. ‘I shall defend myself, whoever attacks me! On the island in Paris let it be,12 tomorrow without fail, a battle!’

  • 13 Lit. heart of ice.
  • 14 ‘nagier’; a boat-trip (they did not swim across).

8On both sides they are certain about this battle next day: winner would take all, woods and cities and plains. Frollo threatened ferociously, and never gave over blaspheming. He swore by all God’s members in turn that Arthur will come off worst if he approaches him. Arthur was no faint-heart,13 and thought nothing of the threats; he preferred to keep still rather than shout in God’s face. Arthur, who was longing for the off, got himself readied in the morning: him and Labagu his war-horse. Then he had himself taken across the water to the island.14

  • 15 Tierce is one of the canonical Hours of the day (Prime is around dawn, and Sext is midday); see Ch (...)
  • 16 ‘Aol’ is a puzzle: Holden thinks it might refer to the stereotypical French love of garlic (referr (...)
  • 17 This strange detail is illustrated, perhaps, in Durmart le Galois, ed. Stengel (early thirteenth c (...)

9Frollo slept in until mid-morning,15 and then, when he awoke, he suddenly jumped as if ants had bitten him. The French, who were dying of boredom, shouted ‘Are you getting up today?’ He cried ‘Aol!’ None of the French had this cry from anybody, except from him.16 Lying down, and without raising himself, he had himself arrayed. Ever since then the French are in the habit of getting their nether garments on while still in bed.17 Before getting his armour on, Frollo fainted three times. The French didn’t think much of him for this, but he said to them ‘Don’ t worry about that! It’s because of my great strength… Arthur is a dead man!’Then he read them all a sermon, commanding them to keep to it:

  • 18 Holden thinks this unusual word probably meant ‘homosexual’ or something considered in those days (...)

10‘Whatever happens to me,’ he said, ‘remember my good morals. Woe betide him who fears God, and keep faith with no man! Be outrageously cruel, avaricious, disloyal, and dishonest. Look after your own business carefully, and help yourself rightfully to other people’ s goods. Arthur will offer you some of his, but take them without giving anything in return! Let yourselves be burned or hanged rather than spend anything of your own. Be good dice-players, and good God-deniers; swank about in other people’s houses by doing as little as possible and boasting as much as possible. Take stuffon credit and pay nothing back, hate those who do you good, live like disgusting dogs, and all of you behave like absolute sods!’18

Frolles en Frances mist ces leis,
Bien le retindrent li Franceis,
Et encor i out il sordeis,
Mes je n’en diré or ampleis. [160]

Quant armé fu a quelque paine
Son mestre chambellenc aceine.
‘Va tost,’ dist il, ‘et si te paine
Que aie pullente aleine.’

Cil conut bien sa volenté, [165]
Que d’allie s’ert dementé ;
Plain vessel l’en a presenté
Et il en menja a plenté.

Ne se pout Frolles atenir
Que des auz ne feïst venir, [170]
Tant por usage maintenir, [131ra]
Tant por Artur en sus tenir.

Franceis, qui devant lui esterent,
D’aler en l’isle se hasterent,
A quel que paine l’i menerent, [175]
Laissierent le, si retornerent.

Frolles remest sor son destrier,
Artur vit venir fort et fier,
Lors n’out en lui que corrocier
Quant vers lui le vit aprochier. [180]

Andui es estrius s’afichierent,
Si que, quant il s’entraprocherent,
Amedous lor lances bruiserent
Et lors chevaus s’agenouillerent.

Frolles acuit a menecier [185]
Et Arthur trait le brant d’acier ;
Quant Frolles vit le cop haucier
A terre se lessa cachier,

Et dist : ‘Merci, Artur, beau sire !
Je sui recreant, ne m’ocire !’[190]
Artur ne pout atremper s’ire,
Frolles ocist, n’en puis el dire.

Franceis furent espoenté
Quant lor rei virent graventé,
A Artur se sont presenté, [195]
Que d’eus face sa volenté.

Et il, qui toz les voleit pendre,
Quant si humblement les vit
rendre
Ne vout envers Deu tant
mesprendre.
Par tote France fist defendre [200]

Que nul n’en i eüst pendu, [131rb]
Vie et menbre lor a rendu ;
En autre sens lor a vendu
Que vers lui se sont defendu,

Quer il les mist toz en servage, [205]
Ou encor est tot lor lignage ;
Iloc donna en eritage
Arthur as Franceis cuvertage.

Franceis en l’isle s’en passerent,
Lor rei, qui mort ert, enporterent, [210]
En un grant feu le cors boterent,
Que por lui ardrë alumerent.

11Frollo promulgated these laws in France, and the French took good heed of them; these days they are even worse, but I’m not telling you any more about that now.

  • 19 Frollo may be hoping that with breath ‘like a rapier’ (as the modern phrase has it) he may flatten (...)

12When after some trouble he’d got his armour on, he beckoned to his chamberlain. ‘Go quickly’, said he, ‘and busy yourself with making my breath really stink!’ This man knew what he wanted, and that he was mad about garlic. He brought him a plateful, and he ate lots of it.19 Frollo couldn’t restrain himself from calling his men to him, as much to keep them on their toes as to keep Arthur down. The French, who were lined up before him, were in a hurry to go to the island. With a struggle, they got him there, then left him and came back.

13Frollo sat on his war-horse, and saw Arthur coming strong and proud towards him. He felt nothing but anger as he watched his approach. Both braced themselves in their stirrups, so that as they met each other their lances shattered and their horses were brought to their knees. Frollo began to threaten, and Arthur drew his sword of steel. When Frollo saw him lift his arm for the blow, he threw himself to the ground, crying ‘Mercy, Arthur, my dear lord! I surrender! Don’t kill me!’Arthur could not control his rage, and killed Frollo. So that was that.

  • 20 Lit. he sold them.

14The French were horrified when they saw their king cut down. They yielded themselves to Arthur, to do with them as he liked. He wanted to hang them all, but when he saw them surrender so humbly he did not wish to put himself in the wrong with God. Throughout France he made it law that none of them should be hanged; he gave them back both life and limb. But he got his own back on them in another way,20 for taking up arms against him. For he enslaved them all, and it’s still the case with their descendants. So the inheritance they got from Arthur was to be in subjection.

15The French went over to the island, and brought away their king who was dead. They threw his body onto a great fire they had lit to burn him.

Deables furent en agait,
Qui d’enfer ourent le feu trait,
Donc il alumerent l’atrait, [215]
Qui por Frolles ardeir fu fait.

Mout out cel feu male ensuiance,
Que d’iloc avient, sanz dotance,
Qu’encor en art en remenbrance
Del feu d’enfer la gent de France. [220]

De Franceis prist Artur homage,
Et il establi par vitage
. iiii. deners de cuvertage
Por raaindre lor chevelage.

Assez trovent qui lor reconte [225]
Cest hontage, mes rien ne monte ;
De ce ne tienent plé ne conte,
Car il ne sevent aveir honte.

Ja Franceis celui n’amera
Qui bien et ennor li fera, [230]
Mes com il plus honi sera, [131va]
Et il. ii. tanz gorgeiera.

Quer savez que, liu u esrez,
Ja mar Franceis de rien crerrez ;
Sel querez ja nel troverez, [235]
Sel trovez ja prou n’i avrez.

16The devils were lying in wait, who had brought the fire from Hell; it was they who set light to the pyre that had been built to burn Frollo. This fire had a dire consequence, because without doubt this is the fire of Hell that still burns in the memory of the French people.

  • 21 Crouch reads ‘vitage’ as ‘quitage’ (a form of release payment); Holden as ‘viltage’ or shame. A pe (...)
  • 22 That is, an honest one.

17Arthur took homage from the French, and to shame them he established an annual tax payment of four pence as if they were serfs.21 There are plenty of people who remind them of this shame, but nothing comes of it. They don’t give a fig or even a toss, because they’re completely shameless. No Frenchman will ever love anybody who treats him well and honourably. Humiliate him, and he’ll be twice as boastful. So take it from me, wherever you go never believe anything a Frenchman says. If you look for one you’ll never find one:22 if you find one he won’t be honourable!

L’Apprise de Nurture23

  • 23 Dean 234.
  • 24 From the Rule of Augustine, cited in Whelan, ‘Urbanus Magnus’, p. 21 (and pp. 16–17, on the relati (...)

18In your walk, posture, all external comportment, do nothing to offend anyone who sees you.24

  • 25L’Apprise de Nurture’, ed. Parsons (PMLA).
  • 26 On women (see below).

19This Book of Good Manners,25 contrasting with the Roman des Franceis (above), contains a different kind of satire;26 in its didactic intent it forms a link with the next piece, from Maniere de Langage. Here there are perhaps predictably few overlaps with lists of vices and virtues so common in the literature of lay piety, but it will be noticed that moderation is always stressed as of paramount importance, with the frequent injunction not to take part in gossip and slander probably coming a close second. My translation errs on the side of freedom, because a piece such as this, whose tone is ‘Listen to me, my lad, if you know what’ s good for you!’, must not be rendered in too solemn a manner.

  • 27 Whelan (cited above) further discusses ‘courtesy literature’; and Arnould, ‘Les Sources de Femina (...)
  • 28 Dean dates this MS to the second quarter of the fifteenth century. Urbain le Courtois (cited in Wh (...)
  • 29 Medieval Latin shows a similar confusion of second-person forms (Woledge, ‘The Use of Tu and Vous’ (...)

20Parsons’small volume (also available online) contains a number of Books of Courtesy and Nurture.27 This text is pp. 432–7; it is briefly introduced on pp. 430–1, and see her main Introduction for general remarks and for the manuscript (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 9),28 which may have been written in a nunnery (Parsons’p. 384). If so, we might guess that one of those gentlewomen who entered nunneries after becoming widowed may have set herself or her colleagues to thoughts of educational books for the young. There is no indication that any particular person or family was in the writer’s mind; the instructions about how to treat women suggest a male author but do not rule out a female (the text could have been copied, not authored, in the place of the manuscript’s origin). I follow Parsons closely, adding her notes. Although most of the verbs appear to be in second person plural (vous), ‘tu’ crops up quite frequently. There is a lack of distinction between the two in most forms of medieval French.29

Text

  • 30 Corr. Auque.
  • 31 MS qui.
  • 32 MS estable.

[f.61v]
Beau dulce, esgardés,
Dulcement si moy lisés,
Pernéz de moy guarde.
En quelle lieu vous venetz
Ales, esteetz, beal le guardetz, [5]
De nurture en avetz warde.
Si vous venetz entre la gent,
Portés vous honestement
Et en beale manere.
Soietz dulce en parlaunce, [10]
Simple et honeste en
counteynaunce,
Si emporterés la banere,
Si vous seietz a la table,
Od bealle nureture et amyable
Moustrés vous a toute gent. [15]
Si a vous viegne ascun amy
Qui vous reheite, responetz a luy
Et mercietz lui dulcement.
Tenet voz peedz en quiete
Et voz mains a vostre diete, [f.62r] [20]
Et ne parlez oultre mesure.
Ne lessetz vostre viaunde
Pur nulle autri demaunde,
Et ne bevetz a demesure.
Si vous veietz ascun manger, [25]
Ne lui devetz trop juger,
Hounte est, pur veritee ;
Trop ne lui volez regarder,
Ne quei il fait a demaunder ;
De nurture est un nyceté. [30]
Beau dulce fitz, si joesne juwe
Aqueu30 jolyf, come faulk en mue,
Ne devetz pas mesdire luy ;
A mal ne lui jugés, ceo est envie,
Et de nurture est vileynie ; [35]
Juvente lui meyne, beau dulce amy.
Si soietz home de nurture,
Par nulle maner d’aventure
Chaungeable ne devetz estre de
coer.
Gard que ne soiez nounestable, [40]
Kar a Dieux ne homme ne serrez
covenable, [f.62v]
Pur ce que31 ne savetz rien amer.
Dulce chose est de dulce amer
Et ceo dulceour fermement tener,
Sans nulle faillaunce. [45]
Nurture est, pur veritee,
De courtaisie estableté32
De tener la saunz flecchaunce.
Si ascun homme soit deshoneste
Ou en fait ou en geste, [50]
Ne luy juggez pur orguylous,
Kar vilaynie est, pur veritee,
Si tu juggez pur honesté
Le malnurri ou envious.
Si tu voils estre amé, [55]
Et de nulli estre blasmé,
Gard qeu soietz coumpaignable ;
Einsi serretz vous sauns blasme.
Gardez bien vostre bone fame
Et ne soietz pas rogable. [60]
Si vous venetz en ascun lu
La ou vous n’estez pas cognu [f.63r]
Gardez vous dunke de rage.
De ryse auxi vous guardez,
La bouche trop ne ovrez, [65]
Ensi serretz tenuz pur sage.

Translation

  • 33 ‘Dulcement’, sweetly, kindly, gently, etc. Here ‘like a good boy’ is meant.
  • 34 ‘Take the banner’ seems to mean the kind of success that rewards good behaviour.
  • 35 ‘nureture’, variously spelt, means both food and upbringing (nourriture, and nurture). Here food i (...)
  • 36 ‘quiete’.

21Dear boy, look at this and read my words obediently;33 pay attention to me. Whatever place you come into, walk or stand and hold yourself well, for you are the keeper of good upbringing. If you come among company, bear yourself like an honest chap and be well mannered. Be gentle in your speech, simple and straightforward in your looks, and you will win all hearts.34 If you are seated at table, with fine good food before you,35 be sure to show yourself to everybody. If a friend of yours should come up and hail you, answer him and thank him politely. Keep your feet still!36 And keep your hands by your food; and don’t talk too much! Don’t get up and leave your dinner for anybody’s asking, and don’t drink too much! If you see somebody eating, don’t criticize him; it’s a real shame to watch him too closely or pay attention to what he asks for. That is a foolish breach of good manners.

  • 37 ‘jolyf’ usually means merry or cheerful, but see Parsons’glossary; moulting hawks are said to be m (...)

22My dearest boy, if a youngster plays at something restlessly, like a moulting hawk,37 you mustn’t complain about him or think the worse of him, that’s mean and ill-mannered. It’s his youth that makes him behave so, dear friend. If you are to be a gentleman you must never, whatever happens, be fickle-hearted. Take care not to be changeable; this will please neither God nor man if you don’t know how to love anybody. It is so sweet to love sweetly, and to keep firm hold of this sweetness without flagging. Good breeding is, indeed, the well-established courtesy that you maintain without fail.

  • 38 Not in AND; Parsons’glossary gives two possible meanings, both with a query.

23If anybody behaves dishonestly, either by word or deed, don’t judge him as proud; it’s really bad manners to judge somebody as honest who is ill-bred or covetous. If you want people to love you, and not to blame you for anything, you must take care to be sociable; that way you will not get blamed. Guard your good reputation well, and never do anything to blush about.38

  • 39 This is timeless advice: cf. numerous modern sayings.

24When you come into any place where they don’t know you, watch your temper! Also, be careful how you laugh. If you don’t open your mouth too far, they’ll think you’re wise!39

  • 40 ‘thi frend’ written over the top in different hand and ink.

Et si la avetz estee devaunt,
Pur ceo ne soietz pas joiaunt
En fole countenaunce.
Qui trop s’affie en juyer [70]
Pluis tost purra meserrer
Et faire a luy grevaunce.
Soietz dulce en parlaunt,
Amyable en reguardaunt,
Si en serrez vous amé, [75]
Sues et beale maneyez ;
Et prueement si vous juetz
Et ensi ne serretz blasmé.
Beau dulce fitz, entre la gent
Ne vous aletz lourdement, [80]
Kar ceo est denorture,
Mais touzjours beale chiere
Faire devetz en vostre manere [f.63v]
Des fols conquereüre.
Si tu eyetz rien de courteysie [85]
De nul homme en ceste vie,
Pensetz de faire guerdoun.
Pur poi ne serretz vous irretz
Envers toun amy ne enquerretz
Nule malveis enchesoun. [90]
Devannt la gent ne tensetz,
Ne nulle homme ledengez,
Kar ceo est vileinye.
Nul encountre coer eietz,
Ne ses faitz reprovetz, [95]
Ka [r] ceo vient de grant envie.
Tes mains devaunt la gent ne
frotez,
Ne voz peedz mie discoveretz,
Kar n’est pas gentirise.
Vostre lange ne feynetz, [100]
Ne vostre teste entour gettetz,
Kar ceo est une leide guise.
Si vous eitz ascun amy
Qui pur petit vous eit guerpi, [f.64r]
Et il de vous n’eyt cure, [105]
Guardez vous en vostre vie
Qu’envers lui ne corroucez mye,
Kar il n’est pas nurture.
Si ascun homme vous eit mysdyt
Pur graunt chose ou pur petyt, [110]
Ne pernetz nient en grief,
Mais moustrez toust en
respoignaunt
Que nurri estez, noun pas enfaunt,
Par dulce parole et suef.
Si seignour parole, ne parlez nient, [115]
Kar ceo malement avient
A homme nurri ou sage.
A primer boire et puis parler
Oultre le hanap et jangler —
Ceo moi semble outrage. [120]
Si ascuny vous demaunde :
‘Vuelletz rien de ceste viaunde ?’
Ne le refusez, jeo vous empri ;
Dulcement luy mercietz
Et pur ton sodal40 le recevetz, [125]
[f.64v]
Et serretz tenu nurri.

25If you are placed favourably, don’t crow about it or make a smug face. Don’t get too involved in merry-making, because you can easily end up acting wrongly and causing harm to somebody. Always speak gently, and keep a pleasant countenance; you’ll be well liked for this, and people will treat you gently and well. If you play fair, you won’t get into trouble. Dear boy, when you go into company don’t tread roughly, that’s bad manners. But if you always try to look as pleasant as you can, then you’ll be lord over all the fools. If you receive a courteous favour from anybody in the world, take care to reward them. Don’t get annoyed with your friend, nor impute any bad motive to him. Never get aggressive with people, and never slander anybody; that’s villainous. And don’t hold a grudge against anybody, or criticize their deeds; that’s bad manners.

  • 41 Parsons’glossary has ‘feynetz’ with a query. It ought to mean ‘use your tongue falsely’ (feindre), (...)
  • 42 This means, by ellipsis, that interrupting great men is not the way….
  • 43 See Whelan, pp. 26–7: line 944 reads ‘Avoid shouting “Weisheil” aloud unless instructed to’! The l (...)
  • 44 ‘thy friend’; another example of how languages interpenetrate: English appears in or commenting on (...)

26Don’t rub your hands in company, nor must you show your feet; this is not good manners. Also don’t stick your tongue out,41 or toss your head about, which is an ugly way of going on. If you have a friend who abandons you for some trifle, and no longer cares about you, try and lead your life so as not to get angry with him, which is ill-bred. If somebody has slandered you, in a big way or just a little, don’t take it to heart. But always answer him with gentle and sweet words, to show you are well-bred and not a child. If a great man speaks, keep quiet! That’s not the way,42 if you are courteous and wise! First to drink and then to speak — between the cup and the chatter — what an outrage, I say!43 If anybody says to you ‘Would you like some of this meat?’ please don’t refuse. Thank him warmly, and accept it for your companion;44 this will be considered polite of you.

  • 45 MS C. env. e. de l’e.
  • 46 Corr. pouetz.

Ne voilletz estre avauntour
De toun sen ne de toun vigour
Entre congregacioun.
Nul home mokes, ne ne mentz [130]
mie,
Ne parléz rien de vilaynie :
Ceo de envie est l’enchesoun45
Sur la table ne vous souetz,46
Ne oud toun coutel ne juetz
Taunt come vous estez a maunger. [135]
La hanap beale asseetz,
Et vostre viaunde beal trenchetz,
Et maungetz saunz daunger.
Ne encrachetz oultre la table
Si aultre lu soit covenable [140]
La ou vous pouetz faire,
Ne vostre nees ne devetz pincer
Taunt come vous seetz al maunger,
Et la vous gardrez de pere.
Soiez franc de vostre doun, [145]
Mais nïent oultre resoun, [f.65r]
Kar c’est nulle profit.
Vostre promesse replenetz,
Le doun de vostre amy ne refusetz,
Ja ceo qu’il soit petyt. [150]
Devaunt la gent belement
maungetz.
Sur le naperoun voz mains suetz,
Ne frotez voz gencies.
Od nulli ne parletz,
Ne od playn bouche ne bevetz, [155]
Kar cestz soun vilaynies.
Si vous estez de age hault,
Pur ceo ne serretz vous trop bault
A nully de mesfaire ;
Kar si tu soietz, tu serras notee [160]
Pur denurri et desaffaitee,
Et ceo ne serroit affaire.
Si tu soietz pres de jangloures,
Ne soietz mye trop ragours
De parler vilaynie ; [165]
Kar ascun chose toi eschapera
Ke par aventure toi poisera [f.65v]
Tout temps de vostre vie.
Et pur ceo, bien vous guardez,
Si vous rien parler voulez [170]
Od les escoymouses.
Dire devetz priveement
Et briefment vostre talent
Entre luy et vouse.
Si nulle femme jue od vous, [175]
De vostre corps soietz gelous
Et de toun parlere,
Kar si rien faces a demesure,
Toi serroit dit a denurture ;
A honte toi purreit turnere. [180]
Si tu ne bien facez, ils ne lerrount
Que ascune chose ne pyncherount,
De dit ou de countenaunce,
Et de ceo vous mokerount,
Et aprés vous jugerount [185]
Sans nulle defaillaunce.

  • 47 The next line seems to begin a new subject, so one would expect a full or partial stop. The word ‘ (...)
  • 48 Corrected from ‘souetz’; ‘pouer’ means to lean on.
  • 49 ‘daunger’ has a range of meanings in Old French; here the safety of fellow-diners is probably not (...)
  • 50 ‘oultre’, here meaning across (or similar). There is an example of this instruction in Urbanus: do (...)
  • 51 ‘pincer’; pinch is probably not exactly what is meant.
  • 52 Much is made of the virtue of moderation in all treatises of virtue; excess of generosity is a vic (...)

27Don’t be a show-offin public, either of your wit or your strength. Never mock anybody, and never lie, for any reason of envy.47 Don’t lean on the table,48 and don’t play with your knife, when you are at a meal. Place your cup properly, and cut your meat neatly so as to eat without giving offence.49 Don’t spit towards the table if there is another place convenient where you can do so.50 Don’t pick your nose,51 when you’re sitting at table, and also take care not to fart. Be generous when giving, but not excessively; it’s foolish to be extravagant.52 You must keep your promises, and don’t refuse a present from a friend however small it is. Eat elegantly when in company, wipe your hands on the napkin, and don’t pick your teeth. Don’t talk to anybody, or drink, with your mouth full; this is disgusting manners. If you are grown to manhood, don’t therefore be too bold and do wrong to anybody; if you are, you’ll get a reputation for being badly brought up and illtaught, and that’s undignified. If you spend time with gossips, don’t be too quick to speak ill of people; you might end up saying something which could perhaps cause you regret for the rest of your life. That’s why you must be careful how you talk to anybody who might be oversensitive. You must speak briefly and privately if you want to ask something [important], just between you and him.

  • 53 This part of the text deals with what in Urbanus is called ‘satire on women’ (p. 13).
  • 54 ‘pyncherount’ not in Parsons’glossary. The nearest in AND seems to be ‘pincer’, to exploit.

28If any woman plays with you, you must be careful what you do or say.53 For if you do too much you will make yourself known as a bounder, and it could lead you into shameful ways. If you do anything naughty, people won’t leave offmaking the most of it,54 either by words or looks. They will make fun of you for it, and then they’ll judge you and no mistake.

  • 55 Corr. merciera.
  • 56 ‘Par tens viande les donez’ added in different hand and ink.
  • 57 ‘le fetez’ added in different hand and ink.
  • 58 MS te iaqueyntez.

Pur ceo vous pri, beaulx dulce fitz,
Que vous ne ayetz de rien enviz
[f.66r]
De dame ou de damoisele.
Kar devaunt vous paisera, [190]
Et en la chaumbre vous jugera ;
N’i ad nulle que n’est hagernele.
Nulle femme mesdietz,
Ne nulle femme ne ferretz,
Pur rien qu’ele die. [195]
Et si vous faicz, vous moustrez
bien
Que vilans estez, et ne savetz rien
De nurture ne de curtaisie.
Jammés a counseil ne venetz
Si ne soietz appelletz, [200]
Kar ce est mal presumpcioun.
Nule rien ne premettez
Fors ceo que doner voelez,
Kar ce est nulle reisoun ;
Si vous avetz en nul amy [205]
De par fortune soit empoevry,
Soietz naturel ;
Ne luy despisez, ains lui aidetz
De vos biens, et lui counseilletz ;
[f.66v]
Si fretz vous come droyturel. [210]
Si vous eietz devaunt vous
Viaunde qui soit precious,
Od toun sodal partietz.
Aultre foitz od toi partira,
Et de toun partier toi mertiera55[215]
Et nurri tenuz serretz.
Chiens et oisealx si ametz,56
A ches ou tables si juetez
Sauns hasarderie.57
Od toun veisyn tei aqueyntez,58[220]
Od luy manger, vous devetez
Volountiers, s’il vous prie.
Devaunt la gent ne devetz
reprendre
Nulle homme, mais devetz
attendre
De dire toun talent [225]
Jesques en un liu venetz
Ou vous a lui dire pouetz
Bien et privément.
Si vous estez a bras senestre,
Tener le devetz od la mayn destre [230]
[f.67r]
Et enbracer bealement.
Et si vous karoler voulez,
Les mains trop ne movetz,
Mais les pedz jolivement.
Que ceste estorie sovent regard, [235]
De nureture n’avera jamés warde
Certeynement.
Issi finist l’Apprise de Nurture.

  • 59 Glossary, with query, gives ‘unstable, changeable’ for ‘hagernele’; see AND (citing this line).

29For this reason I beg you, my dear boy, never to have ill-will towards any lady or girl. She will be quiet before you, but in her own rooms she will judge you; not one of them but is a two-faced witch.59 Never speak ill of a woman, and never hit one whatever she might say to you! If you do, you’ll demonstrate that you are unquestionably a low sort of fellow and know nothing of breeding or manners.

  • 60 Lit. ‘naturally’; ‘kind’ has a meaning ‘natural, native’ (OED).
  • 61 ‘and give them their food at the right time’ added.
  • 62 ‘Do this!’ is added, perhaps by an exasperated parent.

30Never offer an opinion unless you’re invited to do so, because that’s presuming too far. Never promise anything, because that’s foolish, unless it’s something you want to give. If you have any friend who’s had the bad fortune to become poor, act kindly!60 Don’t look down on him, but help him by means of your own property and give him good advice. That’s the right way to behave. If you have some delicious food in front of you, share it with your companion. Another time he will share his with you, and will thank you for your kindness; this way you’ll be seen as good-mannered. You must be kind to dogs and birds….61 If you play chess or backgammon, you mustn’t gamble.62 Get to know your neighbour, and eat with him willingly if he asks you. You must never contradict somebody in public, but delay what you have to say until you are somewhere you can say it fully and privately. If you are by his left side, hold him with your right hand and give him a hug! If you want to dance, don’t wave your hands about, but frolic well with your feet.

  • 63 This suggests the book was not written for a known youngster, but for anybody (or their parent) wh (...)

31Whoever you are,63 if you read this little book often you need never fear for your reputation, that’s for sure. Here is the end of the Book of Good Manners.

Notes

1 Dean 220.1. The Roman or Romanz des Franceis is also known as the Arflet. Written before 1204 and probably in the second half of the twelfth century, it survives in one insular MS (London, BL, Add. 10289, dated mid-thirteenth century). See ‘Le Roman des Franceis’, ed. Holden (Honoré Champion, Paris); and ‘Roman des Franceis’, ed. and tr. Crouch (my text is from the former).

2 This imaginary figure may be intended as Alfred (in Holden’s opinion), or Aldfrith (in Crouch’s), a forefather of the narrator.

3 A legendary Welsh beast that Arthur is said to have fought (and beaten). See, for example, Bromwich, ‘Celtic Elements’.

4 Parsons and Jongenelen, ‘Saint Nobody’. The figure of Saint Nobody first appears in the thirteenth century (their p. 96); see also Owst, Literature and Pulpit, pp. 63–4.

5 White, The Goshawk, pp. 112–13.

6 Normandy was not then part of what is now France.

7 MS ‘Bailleis’; Holden considers this a mistranscription.

8 These British kings made legendary conquests in France (the IPN in Wace’s Brut, ed. and tr. Weiss, enables readers to find the story of each). The following is a burlesque version of Arthur’s conquest, as narrated in Brut and other chronicles.

9 Another exaggeratedly false derivation is coming up shortly, for the French.

10 The Roman baths can still be seen in Paris.

11 A more creditable, and credible, derivation for the name ‘French’ is found in Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle, ed. Short, p. 69 (and notes, including mention of the author’s knowledge of legal terminology): all who paid their dues willingly were considered ‘thank e quytes’.

12 The battle is said to have taken place on the Île de la Cité, in the middle of the river.

13 Lit. heart of ice.

14 ‘nagier’; a boat-trip (they did not swim across).

15 Tierce is one of the canonical Hours of the day (Prime is around dawn, and Sext is midday); see Cher Alme, esp. p. 11 & note 46.

16 ‘Aol’ is a puzzle: Holden thinks it might refer to the stereotypical French love of garlic (referred to later). However, Crouch believes it refers to the exclamation ‘AOL’ (AOI) found between stanzas of the Chanson de Roland and that it therefore mocks the unchivalric behaviour of the French in this story.

17 This strange detail is illustrated, perhaps, in Durmart le Galois, ed. Stengel (early thirteenth century). The hero reclines on a rich silken cloth to be armed: ‘… il a ses chauces lacies Tot par loisir et en seant’ (he has his leggings laced up while he sits at ease, vv. 10113–28).

18 Holden thinks this unusual word probably meant ‘homosexual’ or something considered in those days to be similarly insulting, given the context.

19 Frollo may be hoping that with breath ‘like a rapier’ (as the modern phrase has it) he may flatten Arthur.

20 Lit. he sold them.

21 Crouch reads ‘vitage’ as ‘quitage’ (a form of release payment); Holden as ‘viltage’ or shame. A penny was worth a great deal more than the modern 1p.

22 That is, an honest one.

23 Dean 234.

24 From the Rule of Augustine, cited in Whelan, ‘Urbanus Magnus’, p. 21 (and pp. 16–17, on the relationship between secular and monastic texts).

25L’Apprise de Nurture’, ed. Parsons (PMLA).

26 On women (see below).

27 Whelan (cited above) further discusses ‘courtesy literature’; and Arnould, ‘Les Sources de Femina Nova’.

28 Dean dates this MS to the second quarter of the fifteenth century. Urbain le Courtois (cited in Whelan) is her number 231.

29 Medieval Latin shows a similar confusion of second-person forms (Woledge, ‘The Use of Tu and Vous’, passim).

30 Corr. Auque.

31 MS qui.

32 MS estable.

33 ‘Dulcement’, sweetly, kindly, gently, etc. Here ‘like a good boy’ is meant.

34 ‘Take the banner’ seems to mean the kind of success that rewards good behaviour.

35 ‘nureture’, variously spelt, means both food and upbringing (nourriture, and nurture). Here food is more likely to be the meaning.

36 ‘quiete’.

37 ‘jolyf’ usually means merry or cheerful, but see Parsons’glossary; moulting hawks are said to be moody. ‘mue’ is there given as cage, but ‘muer’ means to change (sc. its plumage). See AND for the meaning ‘intractable’, in the context of hawks.

38 Not in AND; Parsons’glossary gives two possible meanings, both with a query.

39 This is timeless advice: cf. numerous modern sayings.

40 ‘thi frend’ written over the top in different hand and ink.

41 Parsons’glossary has ‘feynetz’ with a query. It ought to mean ‘use your tongue falsely’ (feindre), but here the context is to do with irritating physical habits.

42 This means, by ellipsis, that interrupting great men is not the way….

43 See Whelan, pp. 26–7: line 944 reads ‘Avoid shouting “Weisheil” aloud unless instructed to’! The list is in Latin, but here is another English word (see below).

44 ‘thy friend’; another example of how languages interpenetrate: English appears in or commenting on a French text.

45 MS C. env. e. de l’e.

46 Corr. pouetz.

47 The next line seems to begin a new subject, so one would expect a full or partial stop. The word ‘souetz’ is a problem, and corr. pouetz does not help. AND does not give the word, although ‘pouetz’ is cited for v. 141 of this text (meaning ‘to be able’). If ‘suetz’ in v. 152, below, is the same verb then ‘don’ t wipe yourself on the table’is possible but rather odd (AND gives no meaning ‘tablecloth’).

48 Corrected from ‘souetz’; ‘pouer’ means to lean on.

49 ‘daunger’ has a range of meanings in Old French; here the safety of fellow-diners is probably not the point.

50 ‘oultre’, here meaning across (or similar). There is an example of this instruction in Urbanus: don’t spit ‘beyond’ the table. If you must spit, use a napkin, or if your chair will revolve then turn round and spit behind you (Whelan’s pp. 13–14).

51 ‘pincer’; pinch is probably not exactly what is meant.

52 Much is made of the virtue of moderation in all treatises of virtue; excess of generosity is a vice. Excessive largesse is ostentatious, and ostentation is a branch of pride.

53 This part of the text deals with what in Urbanus is called ‘satire on women’ (p. 13).

54 ‘pyncherount’ not in Parsons’glossary. The nearest in AND seems to be ‘pincer’, to exploit.

55 Corr. merciera.

56 ‘Par tens viande les donez’ added in different hand and ink.

57 ‘le fetez’ added in different hand and ink.

58 MS te iaqueyntez.

59 Glossary, with query, gives ‘unstable, changeable’ for ‘hagernele’; see AND (citing this line).

60 Lit. ‘naturally’; ‘kind’ has a meaning ‘natural, native’ (OED).

61 ‘and give them their food at the right time’ added.

62 ‘Do this!’ is added, perhaps by an exasperated parent.

63 This suggests the book was not written for a known youngster, but for anybody (or their parent) who will read it.

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