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An Anglo-Norman Reader

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Jane Bliss

An Anglo-Norman Miscellany

Doctors, Lawyers, and Writers

Texte intégral

  • 1 The Knight complains about the men of law ‘whiche sellen theyr talkynge…’ (ed. Wright, and ed. Off (...)

1This chapter gives a few examples of non-literary texts: these are envisaged as ‘for use’ rather than ‘for enjoyment’. It has already been remarked that the boundary between these two groups of material can be problematic, for example in religious literature where prayers are for use rather than leisure activity. However, because Dean’s catalogue barely touches the mass of material that was, for example, administrative and legal documentation, some recognition of the world outside ‘literature’ is included in this book. Doctors and lawyers are always with us (as is administration, whether we like it or not), and some popular sentiments on these subjects seem to be universal.1 Here is Swift on the medical profession:

  • 2 Gulliver’s Travels, ed. Turner, p. 258 English recipes in the Harley collection are for making dif (...)

2‘Their next Business is, from Herbs, Minerals, Gums, Oyls, Shells, Salts, Juices, Sea-weed, Excrements, Barks of Trees, Serpents, Toads, Frogs, Spiders, dead Mens Flesh and Bones, Birds, Beasts and Fishes, to form a Composition for Smell and Taste the most abominable, nauseous and detestable, that they can possibly contrive, which the Stomach immediately rejects with Loathing’.2

3And on the legal profession:

  • 3 id. p. 253 See also the quotation from Naomi Mitchison, below, for the lay-person’s bemusement at (...)

4‘It is likewise to be observed, that this Society hath a peculiar Cant and Jargon of their own, that no other Mortal can understand, and wherein all their Laws are written, which they take special Care to multiply; whereby they have wholly confounded the very Essence of Truth and Falsehood, of Right and Wrong; so that it will take Thirty Years to decide whether the Field, left me by my Ancestors for six Generations, belong to me, or to a Stranger three Hundred Miles off.’3

5This chapter is also a place to add some comments made by (literary) writers about their work and their audience. A few such writers’ voices are already heard elsewhere in this book, but there I have given all or part of their text as well. Instead of a separate chapter on audiences, together with writers’ thoughts about their own work, I prefer to leave these clues to the Anglo-Norman Reader — whoever she was — scattered around the book. It has already been noted that not all Readers could read. A brief discussion of this point is included in the introduction to my Edouard (pp. 47–9), with a view to examining the probable audience of this saint’s life only. Examination of all the audience for all the pieces in this book would be an impossible task, but it is well to remind modern readers of the ideas set forth by Joyce Coleman in her ‘Aurality’, in Strohm, ed. She offers the term ‘prelection’ for the consumption and enjoyment of literature whereby somebody listened to somebody else reading.

6Therefore this chapter is about professionals and their work. Most of the texts were written by somebody with interest and some knowledge in their field, if not always by a practitioner. Some may then have been copied by professionals who knew less about the field than they ought (the medical text below is an example). The copy of Thèbes excerpted above was made by an English scribe writing in Anglo-Norman; he didn’t know French very well and so copied with extreme care. Many writers stress that they are using French because people understand it; the compiler of Maniere uses French because people don’t understand it.

A Medical Compendium

  • 4 Kipling, ‘Our Fathers of Old’.

Excellent herbs had our fathers of old — Excellent herbs to ease their pain… Anything green that grew out of the mould.4

  • 5 ‘Anglo-Norman Medical Receipts’, pp. 179–85
  • 6 An Anglo-Norman Medical Compendium, ed. Hunt (ANTS PTS 18). A useful sketch of these texts is give (...)
  • 7 For this MS, see Dean numbers 406, 414, 418, 423, 431, 433, 434 (the text excerpted here), & 440.
  • 8 Receptaria also gives much useful context for this ‘inadequately studied’ area (p. vi).
  • 9 For Hippocrates, and the later Galen (both historical figures), see OCL. The Capsula (below) is no (...)

7Of the extant material on medieval medicine, much has been edited by Tony Hunt. It is of great value for the history of science, vernacular lexicology, botanical nomenclature, and even English art.5 With his recent Compendium,6 he adds a further text from the important collection in Cambridge, Trinity College, O. 2.5 (1109), dated to the first half of the fourteenth century, to the corpus available for study.7 He points to the characteristic confusions and obscurities of medico-botanical texts whose scribes were unfamilair with plant names and other technical data. Putting such texts into print is an essential preliminary to the work of collation and restoration needed for resolving these textual problems.8 The pseudo-Hippocratic work excerpted here appears in the Middle Ages under a number of titles, see Hunt’s Introduction (p. 1; he says the Anglo-Norman translation is corrupt).9

  • 10 I find two remedies in Receptaria still recognized today: coltsfoot for cough (as the Latin name, (...)
  • 11 Hunt’s notes, in this PTS volume and his other two items cited, refer further to his work on medie (...)
  • 12 ‘Swooning’, pp. 130–34 See my reference in Yder, and comments about women’s sexuality in Des Grant (...)
  • 13 The Mirror of Justices, ed. Whittaker, p. 137, & Introduction p. xxxiv.

8In view of the above, I make no apology for presenting only small sections of this intriguing material, tempting though it might be to amuse oneself rather patronizingly at the quaint ideas our medieval predecessors had about how to look after oneself and keep healthy.10 The present book is not designed to elucidate textual difficulties, nor to further research into special vocabularies,11 but to raise interest in the varied riches (and uses) of Anglo-Norman. The text excerpted below is the most difficult among the three items mentioned; but the other two, unlike this one, provide glossaries. As noted in my Introduction above, medical practitioners, and medical information, may turn up as required in all sorts of literary environments. Judith Weiss’ essay on swooning in medieval literature contains a very interesting commentary on the medical beliefs underlying not only texts such as this but also the behaviour of characters in romance.12 It will be noticed that the recipe for curing stone, below, ends with a warning not to use too much of the herb; many recipes bear such warnings, and many others end with the words ‘this is proved’. This was all useful protection, for careless practitioners were deemed to be criminals.13

  • 14 For more in this vast field, see Hunt’s apparatus in all three works cited.

9I append a receipt for gout, taken from a Middle English saint’s life, to the extracts presented in this chapter. As usual I have copied the texts from Hunt’s edition as exactly as possible, omitting only the special references.14 The compendium is entitled Capsula eburnea, A Coffer of Ivory.

Text

[Capsula eburnea]15

  • 15 p. 3.

[f.98ra] Ipocras, le tresauge mire e que sour tutez altres sout la
nature de humeyne corps et cum il vist que il deust morer, comaunda
que l’en prist cest livre ou estoit escrit la nature de tut le cors el secrez et
que l’en mist a son chif en sepulcre ou il gist. Un jour passa Augustus [5]
Cesar pardevant la sepulcre, quida que la gist grant tresour, si comanda
que l’en l’overist, et trova leuqes cest livere a son chif, e fu aporté a
l’Emperour; l’Emperour comandast son mire que il gardast dedeyns. List
ly mire, si trova au comensement:

(1) Si li malade ad dolur ou emflure en la face et s’il tynt sa senestre [10]
mayn a son piz et s’il frotet sovent son neez, a la. xx. et tressime jour
morra.

(2) Uncore. Si li malade frentik est, que ad estordisons en le chif et
desus ambdeus genuls ad emflez rougez od sureemflure, et mult [ad] le
ventre soluble, en. ix. jor murra. Iceste enfermeté commence [a] aver [15]
freides suurz et lez orailes freides et lé denz freidez.

For the Stone16

  • 16 p. 16.

[f.103rb] (163) Uncore. Pernez le fulle de ere si grans cum un noiz de coudre et
le destemprez ov eisil chaud, si [f.103va] garra.

(164) Uncore. Va la ou la centorie crest, si la environez treiz fetz tut
entour et un fietz, si li ditez: ‘Joe te pren, herbe, en noun de Piere et de [530]
Fiz et de seint Espirit, que tu seiez bone au medecine a celuy que joe te
durray.’Si ditez. iii. Pater Noster, et ‘Sed libera nos a malo. Amen.’ Si
l’estemprez et li donez a beivere en ewe douce, et quant il pissera, si
requillez en un bacin, si troveraz la piere menuement depecié, mez
gardez que vous ne li donez plus que ne poet arenger sus vus deuz deis. [535]

Translation

[Introduction]

10Hippocrates, the wisest of doctors, who knew better than anyone the nature of a human body, saw that he must die. So he commanded that this book, in which was written the nature of all bodies, should be taken secretly and placed by his head in the grave where he lay.

  • 17 In Receptaria, Hippocrates gives the book personally to Caesar (p. 88).

11One day Caesar Augustus came by, in front of the sepulchre, and thought a great treasure must be lying therein. He ordered it to be opened, and this book was found by the [dead man’s] head; and it was brought to the Emperor.17 The Emperor commanded his doctor to look into it. The doctor did so, and this is what he read at the beginning:

  1. If the patient has pain or swelling in his face, if he holds his left hand to his chest, if he often rubs his nose,18 then on the twenty-third day he will die.
  2. Another. If the patient is frantic, if he feels faintness in his head, and if he has red swellings and excessive swelling on both his knees, and if his bowels are very loose, he will die in nine days. This disease begins with cold sweats, and cold ears, and cold teeth.19

[For the Stone]

12(163) Another. Take ivy leaves, as much as is equivalent to a hazel-nut, and mix them with heated vinegar. This will cure it.

  • 20 This is probably Centaurium umbellatum, formerly used in medicine and said to have been discovered (...)
  • 21 Receptaria contains a number of similar rituals for gathering herbs; among several found on p. 41 (...)
  • 22 There follows another receipt, before the writer turns to diseases of women.

13(164) Another. Go to the place where centaury grows,20 go all the way round it three times, and then once more, and speak to it thus: ‘I take you, herb, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that you may be good medicine for whomever I give you to.’ Then say the Our Father three times, and ‘Deliver us from evil, Amen.’21Then pound it, and give it him in fresh water to drink; when he pisses then gather it in a basin. You will see the stone has broken up into little pieces. But take care not to give him more than you can hold upon two of your fingers.22

Breathing Problems23

  • 23 p. 19.
  • 24 The numbers in this section do not follow on from the previous text; they are in square instead of (...)

[f. 104va] [379–410]24 Galiens reconte de une femme que [f.104vb] perdu aveit
l’aleine, et li polz esteit autresi cum mort, et nule semblant ne ost de vie
for un poy de chaud [qu’ele] aveit en cors entur le quer. Plusur dé mires
dient que ele fust morte, mez il pristrent leine carpie, sil mistrent au
bouche et al neis si veirunt muer un petit et par içoe surent que ele esteit [640]
vive. Cest mal avint a femme de çoe que trop habunde de semence en ly
et de çoe que la semence est corrumpue et desnaturele. Içoe avint de çoe
qu’ele est trop longement sanz hant de home. Çoe avint a vevde velz que
sovent out esté enseintez et sovent out esté hauntez de home et dunt
sunt longement sanz hant. A le fetz avint a pucelez quant elez sunt venu [645]
a le het qu’elez poent aver home e elez ne l’ont et habunde la semence
trop en ews que la nature vodreit gettre de cors altresi cum a home, mez
[de] cest semence, quant ele abunde en ele est corumpue et denaturé,
munte une fumé freide as corrnailes. Et pur çoe que lez corrnailez se
sunt jointez al quer et al pomon et as treiz est [r] ume [n] s que pertinent [650]
al vois, ci en pert femme la parole.

To Make Rose Oil25

  • 25 p. 26, part of a receipt to cure rupture, from the Herbal section.

[f.107vb] (224)… En ceste manere deit home
fere oyle roset. Pernez lez rose (?ment), c’est lez flors, une li [vre] ou. ii.,
si metez en un mortier, si triblez, pus metez en un vessel de verre ov. ii.
li [vre] de oile d’olive ou (?eu) une solunc çoe que metez lez roses, si
estupez le vessel, si metez pendre a solail. viii. jours. Al ixme colez lez [895]
roses, si metez autretant frecche et metez regiers al solail. Içoe fetez deke
.xl. jours. Pus si lé metez en sauf. Iceste oile refreide tute chalurs. Enun
autre manere li autres font plus legerement, car il prendrent une livere
de roses et un autre livere de oile de olive, sil metent ensemble en vessel
de verre et estupunt forment, pus si le metent pendre al solail. xl. jours [900]
et aprés lez tuent, mez l’autre est plus freide.

  • 26 Compare Galen, in Shorter Treatises (pp. 91–2, & 121–2).

14[There follows De sinthomatibus mulierum, an explanation of women’s menstruation (a pollution caused by abundance of humours, pp. 16–17) and other ailments.]26

15Galen tells of a woman who had lost her breath, and her pulse was like a dead woman’s; she had no sign of life except for a little warmth that there was in her body, around the heart. Many doctors said she was dead, but they took some combed wool and put it to her mouth and nose. They saw it move a little, and by this they knew she was alive.

  • 27 A woman’s own ‘seed’, joined to man’s seed, was believed to be the requirement for conception.
  • 28 Receptaria, p. 18 (number 103) gives a simple remedy for a man in this predicament: ‘Pound up thre (...)

16This disease comes on a woman when she has too much seed in her, and the seed has become corrupt and unnatural.27 This is because she has been too long without a man. It happens to old widows who have had many pregnancies and have been with a man many times, but now they have been without for a long time. It also happens to young girls when they come to wish for intercourse, but have had none yet; an abundance of seed builds up in them and Nature wishes to eject it, just as it happens with men. But [from] this seed, when it builds up and becomes corrupt and unnatural, a cold steam rises to the diaphragm. And because the diaphragm is joined to the heart and the lungs, and to the three organs belonging to the voice, so it makes a woman lose her speech.28

  • 29 The letters printed in brackets with a question mark (and below at line 894) represent unclear rea (...)
  • 30 Pounds (each equal to just under half a kilo) were used as measurement for a wide range of substan (...)

17This is how to make oil of roses. Take roses, the flowers of them,29 one pound or two;30 put them into a mortar and grind them up. Then put them into a glass vessel with two pounds of olive oil, or one depending on how much rose you have used. Then stopper the vessel and put it to hang in the sun for eight days. On the ninth day, strain the roses, add as much again of fresh, and put them back into the sun. Do this for forty days, then put it away safely; the oil soothes all kinds of heat.

  • 31 ‘tuent’ must be a form of the word for tube (tuyau); AND cites several forms from Chirurgerie text (...)

18Others do this more easily another way, for they take a pound of roses and another pound of olive oil. They put them together in a glass vessel and bung it very firmly, then they leave it in the sun for forty days before siphoning off the oil.31 But the other is more cooling.

A Miracle of Saint Cuthbert32

  • 32 This story is in a collection of saints’ lives, in BL MS Add. 11565; I have transcribed the passag (...)
  • 33 The copyist wrote these two words twice. Italic letters in this passage indicate where abbreviated (...)

And atte laste he had the gowte in his kne [1]
by colde that he toke in knelyng upon the
colde stonys when he seid his preyers, that
his kne bygan to swelle that the senews of
his legge were schronke that he myght not [5]
go nor strecche oute his legge. And ever he
toke it ful patiently and seid when it ple-
sid oure lorde it shulde passe awey. And with-
in a while aftir his brethern to do hym com-
forte bare hym in to the felde and there thei [10]
met with a knyght that bade them ‘Let me
se and handle this Cuthbertis legge.’ And then
when he had felyd hit with his hondes he
bade them ‘Take the mylke of a cowe of on
coloure and juse of smale planteyn and [15]
feyre whete floure and sethe them al to gy-
der and ley hit therto hote like aplauster
and it wol make hym holle.’ And anone
he was made perfite holle and then he thon-
kid oure lorde ful mekely, and knewe wel a- [20]
none aftir that it was an angel sent o he-
uene to hele hym of his (of his)33gret sikenes
and dissese by the purviance of god.

  • 34 In Middle English ‘go’ means walk (cf. a child before it can speak or go: a child before it can ta (...)
  • 35 Probably Plantago major (I can find no Lesser Plantain in this family). Flora Britannica gives det (...)
  • 36 This means the cow must not be brindled or black and white. The word ‘seethe’ has several meanings (...)

19This late Middle English is easier than the prayers appended to Maurice de Sully’s homilies, below. Translation is hardly necessary,34 except for the receipt itself: ‘Take the milk of a cow that is all the same colour, and juice of the small plantain,35 and fine wheat flour, and cook them all together. Lay it on [the sore place] hot, like a plaster, and it will make him whole.’36

Legal Texts

  • 37 [Bozon] Les Contes Moralisés, ed. Smith and Meyer, p. 32 (the fourth hound). Bozon dresses the Dev (...)

Un autre chien ad puis descouplé, qe Baudewyn est apellé, a pledours e a legistres e a contours, dount plusours sount chacez en enfer par baudour de lur sen.37
‘Then he loosed another dog, called Boldy, at advocates and lawyers and pleaders; many of these were chased all the way to Hell because of the sheer audacity of their manner.’

20Some of the texts of Placita Corone, if read without any knowledge of their background and context, or of the law upon which the cases turn, seem to have much in common with romance. I begin this chapter with a case from Placita that illustrates this point; I present another below.

  • 38 ed. and tr. Kaye (Selden Society). The cases date from the mid-thirteenth century.
  • 39 ‘en conte contant’ is the phrase used (to state one’s statement); ‘tale’ is the Old English equiva (...)
  • 40 This may be because collections such as Placita were very conversational in their style, as Hyams (...)
  • 41 In the Book of the Knight, a woman takes up arms in her husband’s defence (ed. Offord, and ed. Wri (...)
  • 42 Placita (Introduction), pp. xxviii–ix.
  • 43 ed. Whittaker. The supposition is that if he has many living wives (!) only the present one is so (...)
  • 44 The editor of Placita discusses the uncertainty of the effect of a charter of pardon (Introduction (...)
  • 45 ‘… a set of detailed precedents for the conduct of appeals of felony in the king’s court’, plus ex (...)

21Paul Hyams recently provided the Oxford Anglo-Norman Reading Group with one of these cases ‘pledee devant justices’.38 He was unable to attend the session, so we read the text without his guidance. Here was a story about a woman who appeals to the court against a most felonious felon who attacked her and her husband, unprovoked. He drew his newly-sharpened sword of Cologne steel and murdered the husband in the arms of his wife, who was trying to protect him. She raised a hue and cry, and the court is now hearing her ‘tale’.39 One of the ways for the felon to defend himself is by armed combat, acting the champion with shield and club. This sounded more like something out of Malory’s Arthuriad, than out of a real law-court!40 However, on reading further we discovered that the felon could get off on a technicality, by arguing that he never killed the woman’s husband because the ‘husband’ never married her. Only a woman whose (properly-wedded) husband is killed ‘in her arms’ may summon a malefactor to court, otherwise women were not allowed to ‘call out’ any man for any crime whatsoever.41 Further, ‘in her arms’ means merely that the couple live together ‘as one flesh’ (although it seems also to have been necessary for her to witness the killing);42 the dramatic scene of murder amid a damsel’s screams is also a construct based on the precise requirements for such a case to be brought. The Mirror of Justices says the wife of a murdered man may appeal, but only the wife in whose arms (that is, in whose seisin) he was slain.43 The felon, we then discovered, may also have purchased a pardon from the king, in which case he must carry it upon him at all times so that no judicial combat may ensue.44 The cases in this collection are not real cases, but ‘model pleas’.45

  • 46 See her p. xi.
  • 47 For the general field, see introductions to the edited texts from which my three passages are take (...)

22My departure from what is usually considered to be literature is encouraged partly by the popularity of this reading group among historians, who welcome the opportunity to practise medieval French. Furthermore, medieval law is as important as medieval medicine (which does feature in Dean’s catalogue) for the understanding of medieval culture. Interdisciplinary studies are becoming a common thing at Oxford and elswhere, which is another reason for widening the scope of this book. These texts are not in Dean;46 very few ‘legal’ texts are listed. Her numbers 32–5 (in the Historiographical section, unsurprisingly) are the very earliest law texts in French, and a translation of Magna Carta. Magna Carta is receiving a good deal of attention at the time of writing, which might have encouraged me to add an extract from it to this collection. However, the fact it is listed in Dean means it is better known and more accessible than so many others; further, by the time this book appears the limelight could have moved away from Magna Carta.47

  • 48 Mitchison, The Bull Calves (p. 108).

and not to… any strange city, where they will be needing to explain themselves in precise words of a kind they are not handy with.48

  • 49 Discussed in Hyams, ‘Serfdom Without Strings’; the heading ‘Necessity knows no law?’ in Part II.
  • 50 Edouard, chapter 7 (Edward’s Treasure).
  • 51 Hyams, ‘Serfdom Without Strings’.

23The first passage in this chapter is from Placita. One reason for choosing it is because of its compelling bleakness (and because of the interesting use of the word ‘prodhomme’, discussed below). Another is because there did exist, in theory, a right for the starving poor to take what they needed in extremity; although secular law never recognized or implemented this right, it may have been in the mind of Placita’s compiler when making the man complain of his poverty and distress.49 In the late twelfth century, when canon lawyers and theologians were first ‘inventing’ this right, the Nun of Barking’s Confessor explains to his aggrieved treasurer that the young servant who had made off with some money from the chest should not be pursued: ‘He needed it more than we do’, he says. The Nun makes more of this incident than does Aelred, whose Life she is translating.50 Hyams remarks ‘One can imagine some… landowner concealing a theft… out of sympathy’.51

24My second piece is an extract from the Statute of Winchester; perhaps this is almost as well-known as Magna Carta. It may be from reading stories about Robin Hood or other heroes, retold for children, that many remember learning how the forests had to be cleared back one bowshot from the sides of the road, so as to discourage robbers from lying in wait to ambush law-abiding travellers. I give only this one clause of the Statute, for want of space.

  • 52 A long introduction discusses the Mirror and its author. The editors call it ‘an enigmatical treat (...)

25My third extract is from The Mirror of Justices, which (as will be seen) insists that law must be founded on scriptural teaching. It equates crime with sin, with predictably confusing results, and is not to be taken seriously as a law-book.52 However, the passage rounds off the present Miscellany; its preoccupation with sin forms a link with the Religious writings in the third part of my book.

  • 53 I am grateful to Paul Hyams, who has looked through my translations and suggested some useful note (...)

26All this material, and other legal texts I looked at when compiling this book, is translated facing-page in the editions, but I offer the pieces here with my own translation because it is not the sort of thing we regularly encounter in our forays among literary texts, Anglo-Norman or not.53 New translations are not intended to replace but to clarify the existing ones. For example, the word ‘appeal’ is used confidently by the translator of Placita, who knows that modern historians as well as contemporary readers will be aware of what sort of appeal is meant. To a nons-pecialist it could be confusing, because rather different from the modern meaning of ‘appeal’. Better words in the context would be ‘summon’ or ‘challenge’ (to ‘call out’ renders the sense well). Therefore the opening of the case described above would read: ‘Anneis de N, who is here, summons (challenges, accuses) Robert de C, who is there…’ (not ‘Anneis appeals Robert’, as the published translation has it). She is accusing him before the court, and not appealing against any previous decision of the court.

Text

1) from Placita (pp. 16–17) De Cheval ou Boef Emblé

Nichole de E, ke ci est, apele Hue de M, ke la est, ke il vint teu jour tel houre tel an etc, en les champs de E en un certein liu ke est apelé N et prist del sen
une Jumente neyr, de age de iii anz et del pris de xxs., a quatre dents de polain, et
hors del champ de memes tel liu certein le amena a sa meson demeyne en la vile
de M; et fist entendant a ses veysins et as bone genz de memes la vile ke son pere, [5]
J par non de C, ly avoyt doné tel jumente a fere ent son preu et son espleit;
iloques la recetta felonessement com felon de teu jour iekes a tel jour ke il
lamena au marché de P et ilokes la vendi a un paysant pur un demy marc de
argent solement; et ke il la prist memes le Jour, memes le hure et memes le an et
en memes le liu certein en le champ avant dit, et en la manire avant dite la [10]
recetta et puis la vendi en memes le marché de P pur un demy marc solement, si
com nos avoms vers li conté, felonessement com felon etc., cesti Johan, ki ci est
en present, prest est ke il puisse prover sur ly com sur felon par son cors ou par
quant la curt le Roy agarde ke prover le deyt.
‘Hue,’ fet la justice, ‘avez entendu ce ke Johan ad vers vous conté?’ [15]
‘Sire, oyl.’
‘Ore li responés solom ce ke vous quidez ke bon seit.’

Translation

1) The Theft of a Horse or Ox

  • 54 Introduction, p. xxvi (my second epigraph of this chapter expresses the bewilderment, unchanging a (...)

27‘[T]he itinerant justices… would attempt to persuade the appellee to defend the matter… by simply putting himself upon a jury for good and evil. Only a naïve, sanguine or innocent appellee would fall for this’.54

  • 55 The state of a horse’s teeth indicates its age, and therefore aids identification. Hence the expre (...)
  • 56 ‘a fere ent son preu et son espleit’ (tr. has ‘to try out and make use of’).
  • 57 This ‘pleading formula’, a typical common-form phrase, appears again and again throughout the case (...)
  • 58 ‘paysant’, somebody of the region.
  • 59 The money value of a mark was two-thirds of a pound (that is, he sold her for a third of her value (...)

28Nicholas of E, who is here [in the court], accuses Hugh of M, who is there, [saying] that he came on a certain day, at a certain time in a certain year, etc, into his fields [of E] which is in a place called N, and took a mare of his, a black one aged three years and valued at twenty shillings; and she had four foal-teeth.55 And he led her out of the field in the said place, to his own house in the town of M. He gave his neighbours, and the good people of that place, to understand that his father, named J and from C, had given him this mare for his own use and profit.56 So in this way he kept her, feloniously as a felon,57 from that day, until the day he took her to the market at P. There he sold her to a local,58 for no more than half a silver mark.59

  • 60 ‘Johan’. The notes show different readings in different MSS, but all show confusion among the name (...)
  • 61 ‘par son cors’ means by combat.

29(That) he took her on the same day and at the same time and in the same year, and in the same field in the same place as was said before, and that he kept her as was said, and then sold her at the said market of P for only half a mark, as we have alleged against him, feloniously etc. This Nicholas,60 who is here, is ready to prove the case against him as a felon, if he can, by his body or by whatever means the King’s court will adjudge to be appropriate to prove it.61

30‘Hugh’, says the justice, ‘have you heard what this man Nicholas has stated against you?’

31‘Yes, sir.’

32‘Now then, answer according to what you think is fitting.’

‘Sire, pur deu, Je su un simples homs et nynt ay geres usé playe de terre,
paront Je me say meyns suffisaument defendre: et pur ce vous pri je, sire, ke je
puisse estre consillé de aukun prodhomme coment jeo me puisse meus defendre [20]
en ceo cas.’
‘Coment, Hue? Ce sereyt une deverie apertement encontre ley de terre
et encontre dreyture kar ki nous porra meuz certifier de vostre fet demeine ke
vous memes? Mes fetes com prodhomme, et com bon et leaus, et eyez deu
devant vous et reconnussez la verité de ceste chose et lem vous serra asez [25]
merciable solom dreyture.’
‘Sire, pur deu mercy. Ma grant poverté et ma grant meseyse, ke je ay
longtens suffert, me urent si gravez ke je quiday mout estre aleggé de mes
angoisses pur la value de ceste jumente: et pur ce, par atissement del maufé, la
pris je en autre manire ke fere devroye.’ [30]
‘Johan, com bin avez vous usé tel mestir?’
‘Verraiement, Sire, je ne usoy unkes le mestir, pur meseise ne pur poverté ke
je ay eu, avant ore.’
‘Johan, ce fu trop partens, si deu le vou fist. Johan, vos avez reconeu ci en la
curt le Roy ke vous preistes autrement ke fere ne deussez?’ [35]
‘Sire, oili.’
‘Et pur ce ke vos saviez bin ke ele ne fu mye vostre, dité nous la manire.’
‘Sire, verreyement je ne puys dedire ke je ne la pris larcenessement.’
‘Deu le vos pardomt, si li plest. Ore, Johan, dité nos en peril de vostre alme si
vos aviez nul compaignon a fere tel larcin ou nul autre ke fet avez: si, nous diez [40]
ky il est et ou il ert trové.’
‘Sire, en peril de ma alme je vous di ke nen oy unkes compaignon a tel fet ne
a nul autre.’
‘Baillif, fetes ly aver le prestre.’
‘Sire, volantirs.’ [45]
Et suspendatur.

  • 62 ‘playe de terre’ must mean pleas according to the law of the land, but this man does not know anyt (...)

33‘Sir, by God, I’m a simple man and I’m not used to making legal pleas.62 Therefore I’m sure I don’t know how to defend myself properly. So I beg you, sir, to let me be advised by some gentleman, as to how I can best defend myself in this case.’

  • 63 ‘prodhomme’ has a number of meanings. It is a sad irony, in this case, that any ‘gentleman’ advisi (...)

34‘What’s that, Hugh? It would clearly be a departure from the law of the land and from justice, because who can best certify your own deed but yourself? Act like a gentleman,63 as a good and loyal fellow. Have God before your eyes and acknowledge the truth of this thing, and you will be treated mercifully enough according to the law.’

35‘Sir, I thank you before God. My great poverty and my great distress, that I’ve borne for a long time, had so affected me I thought I’d be much relieved of my troubles by the value of that mare. So, through the tempting of the Devil, I took her in a way that I ought not to have.’

  • 64 ‘Johan’ here too, until the end of the passage.

36‘Hugh,64 how long have you been in the habit of doing this?’

37‘Truly, sir, I’ve never done this before, in spite of distress and poverty, until now.’

  • 65 ‘si deu le vou fist’; the translators have omitted the phrase.

38‘Hugh, now was too soon, unless God [instead of the Devil] had been making you act.65 Hugh, you have admitted here in the King’s court that you took [something] otherwise than you ought to have done.’

39‘Yes, sir.’

40‘And since you knew she was not yours, tell us the manner of your doing it.’

41‘Sir, I can’t deny that I took her thievingly.’

42‘God will forgive you, if it pleases him. Now, Hugh, knowing the peril to your soul, tell us whether you had any companion when you did this theft, or any other theft you may have done. If so, tell us who he is and where he can be found.’

  • 66 Not only is God frequently invoked throughout this conversation, but also the accused is put upon (...)

43‘Sir, as I hope to save my soul, I tell you I never had any companion in this deed or in any other.’66

44‘Bailiff, fetch the priest for him.’

45‘Of course, sir.’He is to be hanged.

2) From the Statute of Winchester, 128567

  • 67 In Stubbs’Charters, ed. and tr. Stubbs (available online), pp. 463–9 The extract is so short I hav (...)

(The Statute begins) Pur ceo qe de jour en jour roberies, homicides, arsuns,
plus sovenerement sunt fetes qe avaunt ne soleyent …
(Number V) Comaundé est ensement qe les hauz chemins des viles
marchaundes es autres viles marchaundes seient enlargiz, la ou
il iad bois, ou haies, ou fossez, issi qil nieit fosse, suthboys, ou
bussuns, ou lem peut tapir pur mal fere pres del chemin, de
deus centz pez de une part, et de deus centz pez de autre part,
issi qe cet estatut point ne estende as keynes, ne as gros
fusz, par qei ceo seit cler desuz. E si par defaute de seignur
qi ne vodra fosse, subois, ou bussons, en la furme avauntdite
abatre, e roberies seient fetes, si respoygne le seygnur: e sil
ieyt murdre, si seit le seignur reint a la volunte le rey. E si le
seignur ne suffist a suzbois abatre, si lui aide le pais a ceo fere.
E le rey veut qe en ses demeines terres, e boys dedenz foreste
e dehors, seient les chemins enlargiz cum avaunt est dit. E si
par cas park seit pres de haut chemin, si covendra qe le
seignur del park amenuse sun park, jeques ataunt qil ieyt la
leyse de deus centz pez pres del haut chemin, cum avaunt est
dit, ou qe il face tel mur, fosse ou haye qe meffesurs ne pussent
passer ne returner pur mal fere.

3) The Mirror of Justices, c. 1290, Preface68

  • 68 ed. Whittaker, pp. 1–3 The text is edited with translation, like the others in this chapter; I hav (...)

[p. 1] Cum jeo maperceyvoie devers de [ceux] qe la lei deveroyent
governer par rieules de droit, aver regard a lur demeine
terriens proffiz, e as princes seignurages e amis plere, e
a seignuries e avoir amassier, e nient assentir qe les dreiz
usages fusent unqes mis en escrist, par unt poer ne lur
fuse toleit, des uns par colour de jugement prendre, les
autres exiler, ou enprisoner, ou desheriter, saunz peine
emporter, coveranz lur pechié par les excepcions de errour
e de ignoraunce, e nient ou poi pernante regard as almes
de peccheours sauver de dampnacioun par leaux jugementz,
solom ceo qe lur office demaunde,

  • 69 There follows a list of six things to be ‘actioned’, as the modern saying goes. These include a cu (...)

462) Because, day by day, robberies, homicides, and acts of arson are being committed more often than they used to be…69

  • 70 It is likely that such roads are frequently used by merchants and their customers, all of whom wil (...)
  • 71 Naturally a ditch could be a barrier but could also be a hiding-place.
  • 72 ‘futz’; the translation gives ‘beeches’ (fagus), and see also Larousse ‘II. fou’, but it seems lik (...)
  • 73 See OED, this includes a sovereign’s own territory (from dominicus, belonging to a lord).
  • 74 A forest was not strictly woodland only, but included large spaces for hunting (for example); the (...)

47It is also commanded that the high roads between one market town and another shall be widened.70 Wherever there are woods or hedges or ditches,71 let there be no ditches, underbrush, or bushes where somebody might hide near the high road so as to do mischief; [this to extend] two hundred feet on the one side, and two hundred feet on the other. But the order does not include oak trees, nor any large timber, as long as it is light underneath.72 And if through a lord’s fault, who is not prepared to clear back ditches and undergrowth and bushes in the manner described, if robberies are committed then it is the lord’s responsibility. And if murder is committed, then the lord shall be fined at the king’s pleasure. And if a lord is unable to manage the clearing of undergrowth, then let people of the neighbourhood help him to do it. And the king wishes that in his demesne lands,73 and woodlands within or outside of forests,74 the roads must be widened as is said above. And if by any chance a park is near to a high road, it is important for its lord to reduce its size, so there is a width of two hundred feet beside the high road, as said above. Or he must make a wall, or ditch or hedge, so that no wrongdoer may come and go in order to do wrong.

  • 75 ‘terriens’ can mean real land, not necessarily opposed to the heavenly (the author probably has bo (...)
  • 76 ‘colour de jugement’; see French Chronicle (the story of Rosamond, above) for this word meaning ex (...)
  • 77 ‘excepcions’: the translators note that ‘special pleas’, or ‘excuses’ are meant, but that the auth (...)

483) As I perceived that many of those, who are supposed to administer the law by rules of law, have regard to the profits of their own earthly lands,75 and to please princes and lords and friends, and to amass holdings and goods. They do not agree to right usages ever being put into writing, because power might be taken away from them. [This would be] for arresting some in a pretence of judgement;76 others would be exiled, or imprisoned, or disinherited. Thus they do with impunity; they cover their sin with defences of error or ignorance,77 thinking nothing or but little of saving the souls of sinners from damnation by means of lawful judgement, as the office of judge requires.

  • 78 Corr. accordauntz.

e eient usez en cea a
juger la gent de lur testes par abusion e examples dautres
erpanz en la lei plus qe par droites riules de seint escripture,
en arrerissement grantment de vostre [or: nostre] aprise, qi edefiez
sanz foundement e apernez a juger eins ces [ceo] qe vous vous
conoissez en jurideccion qest pié de vostre aprise, e en lei
de terre einz ceo qe en lei de persones, auxi come est de
[p. 2] ceux qe apernent arz avant les parz: — Je persecutor de
faus juges e par lur exsecucion fausement enprisoné, les
privileges le Roi e les vieuz roulles de sa tresorie, dount
amis me solacerent en mon soiour, cerchai, e le founde-
ment e la nessaunce des usages dEngleterre donez porlei,
oveqe les gueredouns des bons jugez e la peyne des autres
i trovai, e a plus bref qe jeo savoie la necessité mis en
remenbraunce, a quoi compaignons meiderent destudier el
viel testament, el novel, el canon e en lei escrist.
[p. 3] E de nous usages fiz concordaunce a lescripture. E en
langage plus entendable en eide de vous e del comun del
poeple e en vergoigne de faus juges compilai ceste petite
summe de la lei des persones, des genz, en v. chapitres,
ceste assaver, en pecchiez countre la seinte pees, accions,
excepcions, jugemenz, abusions, qe jeo appellai Mireur a
Justices, solum ceo qe jeo trovai les vertues e les substaunces
embullées e puis le temps le Roi Arthur usez par seinz
usages accordaunce78 as riules avantdites. E vous pri qe les
defautes voillez redrescier e aiouster solom ceo qe par verrei
garraunt enporrez estre garantiz e procurer a reprendre e
confondre les cotidienes abusions de la lei.

  • 79 A note in this line offers ‘nostre’ instead of ‘vostre’, allowing a different meaning.
  • 80 sine fundamento; see Luke 6:49 (and Matt. 7:24–7, 1 Cor. 3:10–11).
  • 81 The author regards his work as a treatise on ‘the law of persons’, which is more elementary than t (...)
  • 82 The translators note that the jingling contrast between artes and partes (you must learn the gramm (...)
  • 83 This may be a fiction, to arouse sympathy in readers (p. xxii).
  • 84 Perhaps in the sense of privilegia granted by the king — charters of immunity and the like (editor (...)
  • 85 I omit a long paragraph, mostly a list of Bible books from which the author finds himself able to (...)

49They have got used to dealing in such a way that they judge men out of their own heads, following the abuse and example of others who are mistaken in the law, rather than by the just rules of Holy Scripture. [This] goes seriously against our convictions,79 that you build without foundation,80 and undertake to judge before you have learned anything about the jurisdiction which is the basis of your knowledge. [You practise] land law before [learning] the law of persons,81 just as those do who learn the arts before mastering the parts.82 I, the persecutor of false judges, am falsely gaoled at their sentencing.83 My friends, to comfort me during my prison term, brought Privileges of the King84 and his ancient Treasury Rolls; I have searched in them, and found the foundation and birth of the customs of England given as law, together with reward for good judges and punishment of the others. As briefly as I know how, I have put the essentials on record; my companions have helped me to study in the Old Testament, in the New, and in the canon and written law.85

  • 86 Introduction, p. liv.
  • 87 ‘embullées’ must mean comprised in bulls or charters under seal, such as the ‘privileges’ referred (...)
  • 88 The author does not make it very clear who is meant by ‘you’ in this preface (nor do we know who w (...)

50And I have made a concordance of our customs with the Scriptures, in a language more comprehensible [than Latin] so as to help you and the community of the people, and in order to shame the false judges; I have compiled this little Summa of the law of persons, or of the folk, in five chapters. That is to say: sins against holy peace, actions, defences, judgements, abuses; and I have called it the Mirror for Justices;86 according to what I found of virtues and promulgated legislation ever since the time of King Arthur, used by holy custom according to the aforesaid rules.87 And I pray you will correct my faults, and amend according to what can be guaranteed by true guarantee, and take care to correct and confound these daily abuses of the law.88

‘En autre ovre’ (Prologues)

  • 89 In v. 20, of the second passage below.

51‘In other work…’: the author wishes to turn away from sinful poetry and provide something useful instead.89

  • 90 And Spearing, Medieval Autographies, pp. 33–53 (in chapter 2).

52Having looked at doctors and lawyers at work, this chapter includes prologues in which writers of another kind tell us what they are doing and why. For the prologue as a form, see inter al. Minnis, Authorship.90 Ramey, ‘The Poetics of Caxton’ s “Publique”’, offers insights about the construction of an audience (even though Caxton is ‘selling’ print); chapter 3 of Cerquiglini-Toulet, A New History of Medieval French Literature, tr. Preisig, in particular, is interesting on the subject of audiences. But it is wrong to say that villeins are ‘unanimously rejected’: villeins as potential audiences are specifically mentioned on her same page (51); see Denis (below), whose audience includes all from the greatest to the very least.

  • 91 Besides the introduction to each edited text, more on these saints can be found in ODS. The purpos (...)

53These Prologues may be compared with authorial comments elsewhere in this book, notably Wace’s introduction to his work (historiography), and the final words of the nun Marie at the end of the story of Audrey (hagiography). There is a personal statement by the author of the Maniere (grammar, above), at the end of the treatise; Christine’s opening words in her letter, and the preface to the law text Mirror (above), are also of interest. The prologue to Rossignos by John of Hoveden or Howden (below) is very short on personal detail, but he explicitly reaches out to the hearts of his readers. All such passages offer clues to what writers are trying to do, who their audience might be, and how they are going about the business of instructing and pleasing them. They stand as reminders throughout this book, to modern as well as to medieval readers, of a continuing exploration into the arts of presentation. The pieces included here are all prologues to saints’lives,91 but each writer has a different view of the work in hand.

La Vie de seint Clement92

  • 92 Dean number 517; ed. Burrows (ANTS 64–5, 66, 67). An account of Clement (pope and martyr; d. c. 10 (...)
  • 93 Alexander, vv. 4555–⒍

54This Life survives in only one MS: Cambridge, Trinity College, R.3.46 (622), mid-thirteenth century. The writer, who is translating from Latin prose narratives, explains why he is not writing yet another learned new book but turning an old book (or books) into the vernacular so that unlettered people can understand the story. The stress is very much upon aiming one’s work at readers or listeners, rather than showing off one’s cleverness to other writers. Here is a comment on certain writers that he would vastly approve: ‘3e hald na wee of þe werd of witt worthe a mite, Bot he can practise & paynt & polish his wordis’.93

55He assumes a listening audience who can probably not read for themselves, and also assumes that only the least educated will be unable to understand any French. Therefore his intended audience includes a wide range of people.

56The text is copied from Burrows’ edition; the passage is in vol. I (pp. 1–2), with introduction and notes in vol. III.

Text

Li clerc d’escole ki apris unt [122r]
Tant que aukes entendant sunt
Mult se peinent de livres faire
E de sentences en lung traire, [4]
Que pur mustrer lur saveir,
Que pur los del siecle aveir.
Livres funt tut de nuvel,
Sis adubbent asez bel ; [8]
Bel escrivent e bel les ditent,
Mes li lai poi i profitent,
E clerc i sunt poi amendé
Ki en lettrure ne sunt fundé. [12]
Li clerc meisme ki funt ces livres
Prest ne sunt ne delivres
De faire as nunlettrez aprendre
E en vulgar cumun entendre [16]
Que ceo seit que il unt dit
En lur livres que unt escrit,
Kar ceo lur suffist asez
Que de autres clers seient loez, [20]
E que ceo peusse estre dit :
‘Bons clers est ki si escrit !’
Pur ceo que fous est tel purpens
De si despendre en nient bon sens, [24]
E pur ceo que livres sunt asez
Ki bien suffisent as lettrez,
Al mien avis mult mieuz serreit
E a plus grant pru turnereit [28]
Si li livre de antiquité
Ki sunt fait de verité,
E dunt l’um ad bien entendu
Que li auctur sunt bien de Deu [32]
En tel language tresturné fussent [122v]
Que plusurs genz pru en eussent.
Ne sui pas de ces lettrez
Ki en clergie sunt fundez, [36]
Nepurquant cel poi que sai
De si escrivre en purpos ai
Que clerc e lai qui l’orrunt
Bien entendre le porrunt [40]
Si si vilains del tut ne seient
Que puint de rumanz apris n’aient.
Ki veut usdive eschiwir
Mette entente de cest oir [44]
Que ceo que dirrai de seint
Clement
Turner li peusse a amendement!

Translation

  • 94 ‘fundé en lettrure’ means they would have to be trained in Latin (see notes to Wace’s introduction (...)
  • 95 ‘rumanz’; the context generally makes clear whether this is the language, or something written in (...)

57Those clerks studying at school, as soon as they have learned a little they are most assiduous at making books, and at drawing out maxims at length, either for showing off their knowledge or for winning the world’s praise. They make brand-new books, well decorated; they write them beautifully and they recite them beautifully. But lay people don’t get much out of them, and even the clerks are not much better off, unless they are well schooled in letters.94 The clerks themselves who make these books are not ready and willing to help the unlearned to learn, or to make them understand in the vernacular what it is they’ve said in these books they have written. For it is enough for them to be praised by other clerks, so that it can be said of them ‘What a good clerk he is, to write like this!’ It is foolish to expend laudable knowledge in vain pursuits, and there are already enough books, which ought to be sufficient for educated folk. Therefore in my opinion it would be much better and more profitable if the books of old, which are written with truth, and we know for certain that the authors were good friends with God, were put into this language so that many people could profit from them. I am not among those learned men who are trained in wisdom. But nevertheless the little I know shall be written in such a way that any clerk or layman who hears it will be able to understand it, if they are not so thoroughly base that they have not learned any French.95 Whoever wishes to avoid idleness, pay attention to this you are going to hear, so you may gain advantage from what I am going to say about Saint Clement!

La Vie seint Edmund le Rei96

  • 96 Denis Piramus, ed. Russell (ANTS 71); Dean 520 See also Legge p. 246, and her Cloisters pp. 6–12
  • 97 It is possible that lay literature is envisaged as being attractive to the leisured classes, and t (...)
  • 98 Especially Short, ‘Denis Piramus and the Truth of Marie’s Lais’(2007), on p. xviii in the edition’ (...)

58This prologue to a saint’s life contrasts with the previous one, because it is not about Latin versus French; it is interesting because of the author’s comments on the sinfulness of lay literature. He is keen to be known and understood, giving his name early in the work and without undue modesty. Instead of claiming to be inadequate for the task of the present work, he insists on his own past wickedness. One suspects perhaps he is protesting too much; he is writing a saint’s life in competition with the romances that are so popular these days. Instead of attacking would-be learned clerks, as the Clement author does, he is attacking authors and story-tellers (including himself) who put out impious texts. He is hoping to attract readers and listeners away from those wicked stories and towards morally profitable narratives about the good and the holy. The people who will, he hopes, benefit from his work are listed as kings and nobles; he says he began by making poems for courtiers (also noble). Therefore, to begin with, it is essentially the same audience he is aiming at. It is made explicit later, by a mention of ‘good people’, that a much wider audience is envisaged.97 We may guess that an audience who enjoyed romances could be wooed into enjoying saints’lives, which are often very exciting and readable. The section of Prologue in which Denis discusses the fabulous verses composed by Dame Marie (and other such frippery) has been scrutinized extensively by scholars;98 I give the rest of it, in which he tells us something of himself. As with the Nun’s life of Edward, the author adds further personal information in a short chapter between the saint’s life and his miracles.

59Later in the text, Denis writes a brief prologue to his second book (vv. 3270–98). He reminds us what he has done: translated the life and death of Edmund. Then he tells us what he is going to do: recount the miracles God wrought through his saint. Apart from reiterating his name, he says little more about himself and his purpose, or about his audience, only remarking ‘Translaté l’ay deske a la fin, E de l’engleis e del latin, Ke en franceis le poënt entendre Ly grant, ly maien et ly mendre’(vv. 3276–80). This is a reminder that his work is translated from both English and Latin, so that all can understand it: the great, the middling, and also the small.

Text

Mult ay usé cum [e] pechere [3ra]
Ma vie en trop fole manere,
E trop ay use [e] ma vie
[E] en peché e en folie [4]
Kant court hantey [e] of les curteis,
Si fesei [e] les serventeis,
Chaunceunettes, rymes, saluz
Entre les drues e les druz, [8]
Mult me penay de tels vers fere
Kë assemble les puise treire
E k’ensemble fussent justez
Pur acomplir lur volentez. [12]
Ceo me fist fere le Enemy,
Si me tync ore a malbaily,
Jamés ne me burderay plus.
Jeo ay noun Denis Piramus, [16]
Mes jurs jolifs de ma joefnesce
S’en vunt, si trey jeo a veilesce,
Si est bien dreit ke me repente.
En autre ovre mettrai m’entente, [20]
Ke mult mieldre est e plus nutable.
Dieus me aÿde espiritable,
E la grace Seint Espirit
Seit of moy e si [i] aÿt! [24]

[3rb] Les vers que vus dirray si sunt
Des enfances de seint Edmunt, [80]
E dé miracles autresi ;
Unkes hom plus beals ne oÿ.
Rei, duc, princë e emperur,
Cunt [e], barun e vavasur [84]
Deivent bien a ceste oevre
entendre, [3va]
Kar bon ensample il purreit
prendre.
Rey deit bien oÿr de autre rey
E l’ensample tenir a sey, [88]
E duc de duc, e quens de cunte,
Kant la reison a bien amunte.
Les bon [e] s genz deivent amer
De oïr retreire e recunter [92]
Des bons gestes e les estoyres
E retenir e [n] lur memoyres.

Translation

60I have spent so much of my life as a sinner, wasting it like a madman; I have used up my life in too much sin and folly. I would haunt the court with the courtiers, making up satirical verses and little songs, rhymes and and love-debates between beloved girls and their beloved boys. I went to a lot of trouble, making these poems so as to bring them to one another; so they could be joined together in order to achieve their desires.

61It was the Devil who made me do it! But now I consider myself mistreated, and I’ll never make jokes again.

  • 99 The editor notes that these ‘two’ persons of God are the same; fortunately there are two names for (...)

62I am named Denis Piramus. The happy days of my youth are gone, and I creep towards old age; it’s about time I repented. I shall set myself to another kind of work, which is much better and more important. May God’s Holy Spirit help me,99 and may the grace of the Holy Ghost be with me and aid my task!

  • 100 ‘enfances’; Denis is going to relate the whole life of Edmund, including the story of his childhoo (...)
  • 101 To take, and follow, a good example; exemplum is ‘something taken out’ as a specimen, or as an ill (...)
  • 102 ‘cunte’ may also be translated as ‘count’. The subject form, ‘quens’, gave way to the oblique form (...)
  • 103 As with Wace’s introduction to his work, Denis uses several words for the narrative (‘gestes’ are (...)

63The verses that I’m going to tell you are as follows: about the enfances of Saint Edmund,100 and about his miracles too. Nobody has ever heard anything so fine! Kings and dukes, princes and emperors, earls and barons and nobles, they ought all to listen to this work of mine, for they will be able to learn from it.101 A king ought to hear about other kings, and take the lessons to himself; a duke about dukes, an earl about earls,102 when the sense of it is to the good. Good people ought to love hearing good deeds and histories told and retold, and keep them in their memories.103

La Vie des Set Dormanz104

  • 104 Dean 534 Chardri, ed. Merrilees (ANTS 35). The Works of Chardri, tr. Cartlidge, introduces the Set (...)

64‘In other work’, that is, in other Insular French texts, writers have a variety of prologue styles. Some are mentioned or described above.

  • 105 Thomas of Kent, ed. Foster and Short.
  • 106 [Horn] Mestre Thomas, ed. Pope. This romance is by another Thomas, not as far as I know identified (...)
  • 107 ed. Hathaway et al.

65Among romances, the Anglo-Norman Alexander begins with a short meditation on the evils of this life: this is why, Thomas explains, it is delightful to read about chivalry.105 The romance of Horn begins with a mention of what the story is going to be about.106 Fouke le Fitz Waryn begins, rather surprisingly, with one of those idyllic springtime meditations that often preface a dream-vision (such as the Roman de la Rose), before going on to narrate serious historical matters.107

  • 108 ed. Pitts.
  • 109 ed. Hunt.
  • 110 [Sibile] Philippe de Thaon, ed. Shields.
  • 111 Chardri, ed. Merrilees. For Chardri’s work, see also Legge pp. 192–201
  • 112 Rober le Chapelain, ed. Sinclair.

66Of the more homiletic or devotional genres, a few examples are: Revelacion, in which the writer goes pretty well straight into what Saint John saw in his vision;108 and Chant des Chanz, in which the writer meditates on the love of Mary.109 Both these are based on Bible books; other examples are the Livre de Sibile, which goes straight into enumerating how many sibyls there were.110 Le Petit Plet, a debate by the same author (Chardri) as the Set Dormanz, announces a debate between an old man and a young one.111 Corset, a meditation on the sacraments, begins with a short dedication to ‘seignor Alain’ on the part of Robert his chaplain; it then goes into a discussion of sin beginning with the story of Lot’s wife.112 None of these tells us very much about the intended audience for the work.

  • 113 Shorter Treatises, ed. Hunt, p. 223
  • 114 Compare a passage in Alexander: ‘Ou [r] wil [l] is many ways wraiste as þe wedire skiftis…’ (v. 47 (...)

67I choose the Prologue to the Anglo-Norman version of the Seven Sleepers story because it keeps the hagiographical theme of the texts in this chapter, and because it gives us the writer’s views on various kinds of literature. The story of the Sleepers was very well known; among references in other literature, there is a charm to induce sleep that names all seven.113 My text is taken from Merrilees’ edition. See also Cartlidge’s notes for Bible references; any audience, lettered or not, would have been familiar with biblical material. If church services were in Latin, priests told and retold Bible stories in their sermons (using English or French), or preached on selected passages from Old or New Testaments including what is now relegated to the Apocrypha. Chardri cleverly begins with a picture of British weather,114 towards which British people are stereotypically phlegmatic, then leads us on from this into questions of cosmic significance. We would marvel, he says, if we were not so distracted by worldly things; he is going to tell us of a marvel. He contrasts ‘adventure’ with the ‘misfortune’ of the world and with the triviality of romance adventures. As do other writers, he uses a variety of words for narrating events: malaventure, aventure, cunterai, fables, mestre [s’]estuide, parlerum, mettre [s’]entente, escrit, dirrai… he is interested in how to tell a story and how to get the attention of an audience.

Text

ICI COMENCE LA VIE DE SET DORMANZ [216c]

  • 115 sic. See note to v. 1 in the edition.

[216c] La vertu Deu ke tutjurz dure
E tutjurz est certeine e pure
Ne deit pas trop estre celee,
Car quant it fet chaut u gelee, [4]
Nues voler, escleir u vent,
De ceo n’unt merveille la gent,
Ne de la terre ne de la mer
Por ceo k’il sunt acustumer [8]
De veer cele variance
Cum Deu le fet par sa pussance.
E neporoec mut esbaifs
I serrium, si ententifs [12]
Pussum estre del penser
E Deu nus vousist itant tenser.
Ne porrum pas a chef venir
Si Deu nel vousist meintenir. [16]
Ki porreit ore sanz encumbrer
Les esteiles del cel numbrer,
Ne la hautesce del firmamant
Ki tant est cler e tant resplent, [20]
E la laur de tut le munde
E de la mer ke est parfunde?
Mut porreit l’en esmerviller
Ki weres en vousist parler. [24]
Mes nus en pensum mut petit,
Kar aillurs avum le nostre affit
Enraciné par grant folie
En mauvesté e en tricherie. [28]
Kar d’autre penser n’avum cure
For de cele malaventure
Ke en cest secle veum user.
[216d] Trop i delitum, seinnurs, [32]
muser,
Si n’avrum for hunte e dolur
Pur teu penser a chef de tur.
Cil ki de quor vout Deus amer
E retrere vout de l’amer [36]
De cest mund ki tant travaille,
Mut se delitera sanz faille
Des uvraines Jesu Crist
K’unkore fet e tutjurz fist. [40]
Lel serra ki par teu penser
Lerra sa grant folie ester.
Pur teus curages tenir
E le ben k’en poet avenir, [44]
Une aventure vus cunterai
Dunt ja ren n’i mentirai,
D’un miracle ke fist Jesu
Ki pitus est e tutjurs115 fu. [48]
Ki Deus aime de bon curage
Or i tende, si frad ke sage.
Ne voil pas en fables d’Ovide,
Seinnurs, mestre mun estuide, [52]
Ne ja, sachez, ne parlerum
Ne de Tristram ne de Galerun ;
Ne de Renard ne de Hersente
Ne voil pas mettre m’entente, [56]
Mes voil de Deu e sa vertu,
Ki est pussant e tutjurz fu,
E de ses seinz, les Set Dormanz,
Ke tant furent resplendisanz [60]
Devant la face Jesu Crist.
Car si cum il est escrit
Vus en dirrai la verité
[217a] De chef en chef cum ad esté. [64]

Translation

  • 116 The note cites p. 17 (Syntax, 9) in the Introduction.
  • 117 ‘vertu’ in v. 1, ‘pussance’ in v. 10 Cartlidge’s notes cite Ps. 146 (147 in AV); he remarks on a t (...)
  • 118 I have broadly followed the editor’s suggestion (notes to vv. 11–24, & 17) for this unclear passag (...)

68The power of God that is everlasting, and is ever pure and certain, must not be concealed. For when the weather is hot, or freezing, when clouds fly,116 or there’s lightning or wind, nobody is astonished; neither at the earth nor at the ocean. This is because they are used to seeing such changes, as God performs them by his power.117 Nevertheless we should be very surprised if we could apply our minds to conceiving it, and if God were willing to that extent to help us. We couldn’t do it, unless God wished to support it. Who could now, without difficulty, count the stars of heaven, or [measure] the height of the firmament so clear and brilliant, and the breadth of the whole world, and of the sea that is so deep? If anybody wanted to speak of it at all, he might indeed marvel greatly at it.118 But we think about it all too rarely, for our attention is elsewhere: it is so foolishly rooted in wickedness and treachery. So we don’t care to think about anything else, besides this unfortunate business we see manifested in this world. Good people, we delight too much in musing upon it; but we’ll have nothing but shame and suffering for such thoughts in the end. Whoever wishes heartily to love God, and who wishes to withdraw from loving this world of travail, they will certainly take the greatest delight in the works of Jesus Christ, that he has performed and performs still. It will be loyal of him to leave such folly alone by thinking like this.

  • 119 ‘aventure’ (see note): adventures are usually the matter of romance. Chardri means to tell the sto (...)

69So as to encourage such steadfastness, and the good that shall come of it, I’ll tell you of an adventure without any word of a lie,119 of a miracle the ever-merciful Jesus performed. Let all who love God with their whole heart pay attention to this, if you are wise.

  • 120 The classical author Ovid, in whose Metamorphoses many ‘pagan’ stories are recounted. His work was (...)
  • 121 The Tristan romances are meant (note the English spelling of his name), and Ille et Galeron.
  • 122 Anti-hero, and victim, in the Roman de Renart: Reynard rapes the wolf’s mate (aka Erswynde) in one (...)

70Listen, people, I don’t want to spend time studying the fables of Ovid.120 Be sure we are not going to talk about Tristram or Galeron either.121 I don’t want to pay attention to Reynard or Hersent,122 but to God and his power, who is mighty and ever has been. And of his saints, the Seven Sleepers, who shine so brightly before the face of Jesus Christ. For exactly as it is written I shall tell you the truth of it, the whole story of how it happened.

Notes

1 The Knight complains about the men of law ‘whiche sellen theyr talkynge…’ (ed. Wright, and ed. Offord, chapter 70).

2 Gulliver’s Travels, ed. Turner, p. 258 English recipes in the Harley collection are for making different kinds of colours ( [Harley 2253] Facsimile, ed. Ker, items 10–17); a few receipts in this chapter are the kind of remedies intended to cure diseases rather than to purge the body.

3 id. p. 253 See also the quotation from Naomi Mitchison, below, for the lay-person’s bemusement at legal terminology; and Maud Mortimer’s dread of ‘long troublesome business’ (her Letter, above).

4 Kipling, ‘Our Fathers of Old’.

5 ‘Anglo-Norman Medical Receipts’, pp. 179–85

6 An Anglo-Norman Medical Compendium, ed. Hunt (ANTS PTS 18). A useful sketch of these texts is given in Pagan, ‘Review: Tony Hunt, ed., An Anglo-Norman Medical Compendium’.

7 For this MS, see Dean numbers 406, 414, 418, 423, 431, 433, 434 (the text excerpted here), & 440.

8 Receptaria also gives much useful context for this ‘inadequately studied’ area (p. vi).

9 For Hippocrates, and the later Galen (both historical figures), see OCL. The Capsula (below) is not listed among works attributed to Hippocrates in the entry.

10 I find two remedies in Receptaria still recognized today: coltsfoot for cough (as the Latin name, tussilago, implies), and hot pepper for (the rare abdominal) migraine. But most, except perhaps linseed to relieve constipation, are of the ‘Do Not Try This At Home’ variety.

11 Hunt’s notes, in this PTS volume and his other two items cited, refer further to his work on medieval plant names; there are numerous other references essential for scholars of medieval medicine.

12 ‘Swooning’, pp. 130–34 See my reference in Yder, and comments about women’s sexuality in Des Grantz Geanz.

13 The Mirror of Justices, ed. Whittaker, p. 137, & Introduction p. xxxiv.

14 For more in this vast field, see Hunt’s apparatus in all three works cited.

15 p. 3.

16 p. 16.

17 In Receptaria, Hippocrates gives the book personally to Caesar (p. 88).

18 This may be ‘assudualment’, he rubs it hard (see Hunt’s endnote; and compare his Shorter Treatises, p. 254 at [114]).

19 This part of the book continues with further prognostications.

20 This is probably Centaurium umbellatum, formerly used in medicine and said to have been discovered by the centaur Chiron.

21 Receptaria contains a number of similar rituals for gathering herbs; among several found on p. 41 is: ‘For tertian fever, gather three plantain plants after sunset, and say three Pater Nosters and three Hail Marys as you gather them; give this [to the patient] to drink at the onset of fever.’ Some of the ‘prayers’ in this book look more like charms: mysterious letters accompanied by crosses are to be written, sometimes on the patient’s body. It also contains numerous other remedies for the stone.

22 There follows another receipt, before the writer turns to diseases of women.

23 p. 19.

24 The numbers in this section do not follow on from the previous text; they are in square instead of round brackets. In the fourth passage, below, we return to the original numbering.

25 p. 26, part of a receipt to cure rupture, from the Herbal section.

26 Compare Galen, in Shorter Treatises (pp. 91–2, & 121–2).

27 A woman’s own ‘seed’, joined to man’s seed, was believed to be the requirement for conception.

28 Receptaria, p. 18 (number 103) gives a simple remedy for a man in this predicament: ‘Pound up three roots of red nettle, soak them in water, and give it him to drink’ (the book contains others, mostly as straightforward as this one).

29 The letters printed in brackets with a question mark (and below at line 894) represent unclear readings.

30 Pounds (each equal to just under half a kilo) were used as measurement for a wide range of substances including liquids.

31 ‘tuent’ must be a form of the word for tube (tuyau); AND cites several forms from Chirurgerie texts (although not this one).

32 This story is in a collection of saints’ lives, in BL MS Add. 11565; I have transcribed the passage from a scan, sent me by the British Library, of f. 57ra. It is edited in GL (Supp), pp. 219–20; I have consulted, but not copied from, the edition. After becoming a monk, Cuthbert lived in great fasting and penance.

33 The copyist wrote these two words twice. Italic letters in this passage indicate where abbreviated forms have been expanded.

34 In Middle English ‘go’ means walk (cf. a child before it can speak or go: a child before it can talk or walk).

35 Probably Plantago major (I can find no Lesser Plantain in this family). Flora Britannica gives details of the plantain’s use in medicine, especially for bruising and crushing wounds (pp. 320–22). One MS calls the stuff ‘sage’; perhaps the scribe was unfamiliar with it. Receptaria gives a recipe for sore feet (p. 27, number 220, in Latin); it was called Plantago because of the foot-like shape of the leaves. Many plants were used for things that their shape or colour were thought to resemble.

36 This means the cow must not be brindled or black and white. The word ‘seethe’ has several meanings, but they all refer to some kind of cooking.

37 [Bozon] Les Contes Moralisés, ed. Smith and Meyer, p. 32 (the fourth hound). Bozon dresses the Devil in huntsman’s clothes and sends him out with a pack of allegorical hounds in search of sinners. See Grange, ed., ‘The Miserere in Anglo-Norman’(pp. 46, 54, & 57), for priests as dogs who are ‘ferbalt’ (keen).

38 ed. and tr. Kaye (Selden Society). The cases date from the mid-thirteenth century.

39 ‘en conte contant’ is the phrase used (to state one’s statement); ‘tale’ is the Old English equivalent. ‘The appellor having stated his case the appellee must traverse it word for word, point by point… the prolonged rigmarole of counting’ (Introduction, p. xxvi).

40 This may be because collections such as Placita were very conversational in their style, as Hyams has explained, legal language not yet having crystallized at that social level (in the localities, away from Westminster).

41 In the Book of the Knight, a woman takes up arms in her husband’s defence (ed. Offord, and ed. Wright, chapter 92).

42 Placita (Introduction), pp. xxviii–ix.

43 ed. Whittaker. The supposition is that if he has many living wives (!) only the present one is so entitled: ‘en qi braz qest ataunt adire cum en qi seisine il esteit occis’ (p. 50). See also p. 112 for the order of combat, as mentioned earlier in this paragraph.

44 The editor of Placita discusses the uncertainty of the effect of a charter of pardon (Introduction p. xi, and passim).

45 ‘… a set of detailed precedents for the conduct of appeals of felony in the king’s court’, plus explanatory matter (Introduction, p. x).

46 See her p. xi.

47 For the general field, see introductions to the edited texts from which my three passages are taken; the Oxford History of the Laws of England may also be consulted. Articles on topics related to this chapter also include Hyams, ‘Thinking Law’; his ‘The legal revolution’; and his article cited below. The notes to these, together, provide more references for further reading.

48 Mitchison, The Bull Calves (p. 108).

49 Discussed in Hyams, ‘Serfdom Without Strings’; the heading ‘Necessity knows no law?’ in Part II.

50 Edouard, chapter 7 (Edward’s Treasure).

51 Hyams, ‘Serfdom Without Strings’.

52 A long introduction discusses the Mirror and its author. The editors call it ‘an enigmatical treatise’, that contemporary readers did not take seriously (pp. xxii–iii). I omit the riddling verses that head the text, because not much can finally be concluded from them.

53 I am grateful to Paul Hyams, who has looked through my translations and suggested some useful notes.

54 Introduction, p. xxvi (my second epigraph of this chapter expresses the bewilderment, unchanging across the centuries, of country folk faced with matters of law). In the edition, no accents are used; I have added them where they help the sense. I have also added line numbers (from the beginning of the passage, not from the top of the edited page) to aid navigation when reading the translation.

55 The state of a horse’s teeth indicates its age, and therefore aids identification. Hence the expression ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’, because such close inspection insults the giver.

56 ‘a fere ent son preu et son espleit’ (tr. has ‘to try out and make use of’).

57 This ‘pleading formula’, a typical common-form phrase, appears again and again throughout the cases in Placita.

58 ‘paysant’, somebody of the region.

59 The money value of a mark was two-thirds of a pound (that is, he sold her for a third of her value).

60 ‘Johan’. The notes show different readings in different MSS, but all show confusion among the names; I have adjusted them so they make sense. A real case would of course refer to real dates and places, too (thus: Hugh of Midhurst; on Friday 10th June 1250, at ten o’clock in the morning. His father was John of Chichester, he sold the mare in Petworth Market, and so forth). Furthermore, as the heading suggests, the animal could be an ox, whether black or not.

61 ‘par son cors’ means by combat.

62 ‘playe de terre’ must mean pleas according to the law of the land, but this man does not know anything about them.

63 ‘prodhomme’ has a number of meanings. It is a sad irony, in this case, that any ‘gentleman’ advising the accused would know how to help him lie; if he acts as a ‘gentleman’ on his own account the meaning will be ‘as an honest man’ (with predictable consequences). The translators give ‘learned person’ for the first and ‘wise man’ for the second.

64 ‘Johan’ here too, until the end of the passage.

65 ‘si deu le vou fist’; the translators have omitted the phrase.

66 Not only is God frequently invoked throughout this conversation, but also the accused is put upon peril of his soul; and he says he was tempted by the Devil. This overall tone is unlikely to be heard in a modern English court.

67 In Stubbs’Charters, ed. and tr. Stubbs (available online), pp. 463–9 The extract is so short I have not added line numbers.

68 ed. Whittaker, pp. 1–3 The text is edited with translation, like the others in this chapter; I have supplied a new one for modern readers. I include or refer to editorial notes where appropriate, and add acute accents to e where it helps the sense (as above); I have not added apostrophes or adjusted word-divisions.

69 There follows a list of six things to be ‘actioned’, as the modern saying goes. These include a curfew in walled towns, inquests to be made, and so on.

70 It is likely that such roads are frequently used by merchants and their customers, all of whom will be carrying money and valuable goods.

71 Naturally a ditch could be a barrier but could also be a hiding-place.

72 ‘futz’; the translation gives ‘beeches’ (fagus), and see also Larousse ‘II. fou’, but it seems likely that any tall tree (useful for timber so best left to grow) would qualify. ‘fust’ generally means wood for building and other such purposes.

73 See OED, this includes a sovereign’s own territory (from dominicus, belonging to a lord).

74 A forest was not strictly woodland only, but included large spaces for hunting (for example); the New Forest is largely open space.

75 ‘terriens’ can mean real land, not necessarily opposed to the heavenly (the author probably has both meanings in mind).

76 ‘colour de jugement’; see French Chronicle (the story of Rosamond, above) for this word meaning excuse or pretence.

77 ‘excepcions’: the translators note that ‘special pleas’, or ‘excuses’ are meant, but that the author prefers to use a technical term (Larousse: ‘mise a part, hors ligne’).

78 Corr. accordauntz.

79 A note in this line offers ‘nostre’ instead of ‘vostre’, allowing a different meaning.

80 sine fundamento; see Luke 6:49 (and Matt. 7:24–7, 1 Cor. 3:10–11).

81 The author regards his work as a treatise on ‘the law of persons’, which is more elementary than the law of land (editors’ note).

82 The translators note that the jingling contrast between artes and partes (you must learn the grammatical ‘parts of speech’ before you can write, essentially) was not uncommon.

83 This may be a fiction, to arouse sympathy in readers (p. xxii).

84 Perhaps in the sense of privilegia granted by the king — charters of immunity and the like (editors’ note).

85 I omit a long paragraph, mostly a list of Bible books from which the author finds himself able to glean legal precepts.

86 Introduction, p. liv.

87 ‘embullées’ must mean comprised in bulls or charters under seal, such as the ‘privileges’ referred to above (editors’ note). The author will give us the virtues and substances, that is, the force and substance of charters and usages. His use of the word ‘virtue’ is significant in this context: he attempts to equate crime with sin throughout the book. The reference to Arthur indicates how widespread the fame of this legendary hero had become among writers and readers; this author takes it for granted that the basis of all good law comes down from him.

88 The author does not make it very clear who is meant by ‘you’ in this preface (nor do we know who were his ‘companions’, above). It seems to include those who need correction and also those who will help with the correcting, not only of the writer’s ‘faults’ (this is probably false modesty) but also of the faults of current law.

89 In v. 20, of the second passage below.

90 And Spearing, Medieval Autographies, pp. 33–53 (in chapter 2).

91 Besides the introduction to each edited text, more on these saints can be found in ODS. The purpose of this chapter is to look at the way authors think, rather than to present a piece of their work, which is why I have placed them separately from other religious material (and out of Dean’s order).

92 Dean number 517; ed. Burrows (ANTS 64–5, 66, 67). An account of Clement (pope and martyr; d. c. 100) may be found in ODS.

93 Alexander, vv. 4555–⒍

94 ‘fundé en lettrure’ means they would have to be trained in Latin (see notes to Wace’s introduction, above). Otherwise they could not understand the beautiful books in Latin.

95 ‘rumanz’; the context generally makes clear whether this is the language, or something written in it. Cf. my note above (in Maniere) about lower classes not learning French.

96 Denis Piramus, ed. Russell (ANTS 71); Dean 520 See also Legge p. 246, and her Cloisters pp. 6–12

97 It is possible that lay literature is envisaged as being attractive to the leisured classes, and that religious literature is by contrast aimed at all classes.

98 Especially Short, ‘Denis Piramus and the Truth of Marie’s Lais’(2007), on p. xviii in the edition’s bibliography. References within this text help to date both writers.

99 The editor notes that these ‘two’ persons of God are the same; fortunately there are two names for this being in English.

100 ‘enfances’; Denis is going to relate the whole life of Edmund, including the story of his childhood. Sometimes ‘enfances’ were written about well-known characters, after their lives and deeds had become popular, as a kind of ‘prequel’.

101 To take, and follow, a good example; exemplum is ‘something taken out’ as a specimen, or as an illustrative story (Gray, Simple Forms, p. 130).

102 ‘cunte’ may also be translated as ‘count’. The subject form, ‘quens’, gave way to the oblique form ‘cunte’ in the same way that subject ‘ber’ disappeared to leave ‘baron’ as the modern word.

103 As with Wace’s introduction to his work, Denis uses several words for the narrative (‘gestes’ are epic stories, ‘estoyres’ are story or history; also ‘vers’, oeuvre’…) that he is going to tell and recount. Like Wace, he uses a pair of similar verbs, ‘retreire’ and ‘recunter’.

104 Dean 534 Chardri, ed. Merrilees (ANTS 35). The Works of Chardri, tr. Cartlidge, introduces the Set Dormanz on pp. 22–3; it is translated pp. 41–69 (prologue pp. 41–2).

105 Thomas of Kent, ed. Foster and Short.

106 [Horn] Mestre Thomas, ed. Pope. This romance is by another Thomas, not as far as I know identified with either the Alexander author or the Thomas (d’Angleterre) who wrote a Tristan. It is curious that Maries are conflated into one woman by scholars, but Thomases are not conflated into one man.

107 ed. Hathaway et al.

108 ed. Pitts.

109 ed. Hunt.

110 [Sibile] Philippe de Thaon, ed. Shields.

111 Chardri, ed. Merrilees. For Chardri’s work, see also Legge pp. 192–201

112 Rober le Chapelain, ed. Sinclair.

113 Shorter Treatises, ed. Hunt, p. 223

114 Compare a passage in Alexander: ‘Ou [r] wil [l] is many ways wraiste as þe wedire skiftis…’ (v. 4751, and see note to v. 4750 on this commonplace).

115 sic. See note to v. 1 in the edition.

116 The note cites p. 17 (Syntax, 9) in the Introduction.

117 ‘vertu’ in v. 1, ‘pussance’ in v. 10 Cartlidge’s notes cite Ps. 146 (147 in AV); he remarks on a theme of Creation exemplifying God’s power in Chardri’s work.

118 I have broadly followed the editor’s suggestion (notes to vv. 11–24, & 17) for this unclear passage; Cartlidge provides no note on it.

119 ‘aventure’ (see note): adventures are usually the matter of romance. Chardri means to tell the story of one, using the word perhaps in opposition to ‘malaventure’ above, and perhaps to point up what he is going to say about romances presently.

120 The classical author Ovid, in whose Metamorphoses many ‘pagan’ stories are recounted. His work was well known, and rewritten with moralistic Christian commentary.

121 The Tristan romances are meant (note the English spelling of his name), and Ille et Galeron.

122 Anti-hero, and victim, in the Roman de Renart: Reynard rapes the wolf’s mate (aka Erswynde) in one of his vicious exploits. See also Cartlidge’s notes for the proper names in this passage.

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