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Translators and Their Prologues in Medieval England
 9781843844426

Table of contents :
Frontcover
Contents
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgements
Abbreviations
Introduction
1 The Translator’s Prologue: Latin and French Antecedents
The Latin Prologue Tradition and the Growth of Translation-Consciousness
The Beginnings of the French Translator’s Prologue
The ‘Precocity’ of Anglo-Norman and English > French Translation
From Vulgar Tongue to Prestige Vernacular
2 The Translator’s Prologue: The Germanic and Anglo-Saxon Background
Early Latin > German Translation: Otfrid and Notker Labeo
Translators’ Prologues in Anglo-Saxon England: Ælfred and Ælfric
The Conquest and Afterwards: Questions of Continuity in
English-Language Writing
The Addition of French
3 The Development of the French > English Translator’s Prologue
Laȝamon’s Brut and the Beginnings of the French > English Translator’s
Prologue
A Growing Translation-Consciousness: Developments to c. 1300
From Compilation to Translation: Developments in the Fourteenth Century
‘Oral’ Romance Prologues: A Separate Type of Translator’s Prologue?
From Laȝamon to Caxton: The Fifteenth Century
4 The Figure of the Translator
‘Feþeren he nom mid fingren’: The Figure of the Translator in
Literary Sources
The Figure of the Translator in Pictorial Sources
An Iconography of Translation?
‘I was at Ertheldoun |With Tomas spak Y thare’: ‘Clerk’ and
‘Minstrel’ Translators
5 The Acquisition of French
Literary Evidence: Prologues, Epilogues and Letters
‘Du fraunceis ki chescun seit dire’: Teaching Material
‘ne illa lingua Gallica penitus sit omissa’: Later Teaching of French
The Acquisition of French in the Cloister
6 The Case for Women Translators
Women’s Education and the Use of French
‘Se femme l’ad si transaté’: The Evidence of the Twelfth-Century
Women Translators
Continuity and Tradition?
‘Crane’ and Chaucer’s Nun: Two Further Possibilities
7 The Presentation of Audience and the Later life of the Prologue
‘To laud and Inglis man I spell’: Larger Audience Groups
Named in Translations
‘Gode men of Brunne’: Specific Audiences and the Question of Patronage
The Prologue in Context: Manuscript Evidence
The Knowing of Woman’s Kind and Women Audiences
Mouvance, Prologues and Mouvance within Prologues
8 Middle Dutch Translators’ Prologues as a Sidelight on English Practice
‘ick de historie vele valsch | Gevonden hebbe in dat walsch’:
Attitudes towards French in the Prologues of Jacob van Maerlant
‘Sonder rime also ic sach’: Translating Le Livre de Sidrac
‘menighe avonture | Die nemmer mee ne wert bescreven’:
Walewein’s Anti-Translator’s Prologue
Conclusion
Appendices
Appendix 1: Breakdown of Corpus Motifs (as given in Chapter 3)
Appendix 2: Table of Verbs Used to Represent Translation in the Corpus
Appendix 3: Brief Biographical Information on the Translators
Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

elizaBeth dearnley gained her Phd from the university of Cambridge.

ELIZABETH DEARNLEY

TranslaTors and Their Prologues in Medieval england

D EARNLEY

T

Cover image: laȝamon writing. london, British library, Ms Cotton Caligula a. iX, fol. 3r (probably Worcester, c. 1300–1325). © e British library Board.

Bristol studies in Medieval Cultures

TranslaTors and Their Prologues in Medieval england

e prologue to layamon's Brut recounts its author's extensive travels "wide yond thas leode" (far and wide across the land) to gather the French, latin and english books he used as source material. e first Middle english writer to discuss his methods of translating French into english, layamon voices ideas about the creation of a new english tradition by translation that proved very durable. is book considers the practice of translation from French into english in medieval england, and how the translators themselves viewed their task. at its core is a corpus of French to english translations containing translator's prologues written between c.1189 and c.1450; this remarkable body of Middle english literary theory provides a useful map by which to chart the movement from a literary culture rooted in anglo-norman at the end of the thirteenth century to what, in the fifteenth, is regarded as an established "english" tradition. Considering earlier romance and Germanic models of translation, wider historical evidence about translation practice, the acquisition of French, the possible role of women translators, and the manuscript tradition of prologues, in addition to offering a broader, pan-european perspective through an examination of Middle dutch prologues, the book uses translators' prologues as a lens through which to view a period of critical growth and development for english as a literary language.

Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England

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Bristol Studies In Medieval Cultures issn 1757–2150 Series Editor Dr Peter Dent Editorial Advisory Board Dr Marianne Ailes Dr Rhiannon Daniels Professor Helen Fulton Dr Emma Hornby Professor Carolyn Muessig Dr Benjamin Pohl Professor Ad Putter Dr Leah Tether Dr Ian Wei Dr Beth Williamson The remit of this peer-reviewed interdisciplinary series is to publish scholarly works on the cultures of the middle ages, from late antiquity up to and including the beginning of the sixteenth century. Queries about the series, or proposals for monographs, editions, or collections of essays, should be sent in the first instance to the director of the centre for medieval studies, who acts as general editor of the series, at the address below. birtha, Faculty Of Arts, 3–5 Woodland Road, Bristol, Bs8 1Tb Email: [email protected] previously published The Madonna of Humility: Development, Dissemination and Reception, C.1340–1400 Beth Williamson The Medieval Art, Architecture and History of Bristol Cathedral: An Enigma Explored Edited By Jon Cannon and Beth Williamson Chaucer and the Cultures of Love and Marriage Cathy Hume

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England Elizabeth Dearnley

D. S. BREWER

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© Elizabeth Dearnley 2016 All rights reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system, published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast, transmitted, recorded or reproduced in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the copyright owner The right of Elizabeth Dearnley to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988 First published 2016 D. S. Brewer, Cambridge isbn 978–1–84384–442–6 D. S. Brewer is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Ltd PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk ip12 3df, UK and of Boydell & Brewer Inc. 668 Mount Hope ave, Rochester, ny 14620–2731, USA website: www.boydellandbrewer.com A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library The publisher has no responsibility for the continued existence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate. This publication is printed on acid-free paper

Typeset in Adobe Arno Pro by doubledagger.co.uk

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Prologues, like Bells to Churches, toul you in With Chimeing Verse; till the dull Playes begin John Dryden, Prologue to The Assignation (1673)

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Contents List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgements xi Abbreviations xiii Introduction 1 1 The Translator’s Prologue: Latin and French Antecedents 19 The Latin Prologue Tradition and the Growth of Translation-Consciousness  19 The Beginnings of the French Translator’s Prologue  25 The ‘Precocity’ of Anglo-Norman and English > French Translation  30 From Vulgar Tongue to Prestige Vernacular  34 2 The Translator’s Prologue: The Germanic and Anglo-Saxon Background 39 Early Latin > German Translation: Otfrid and Notker Labeo  41 Translators’ Prologues in Anglo-Saxon England: Ælfred and Ælfric  43 The Conquest and Afterwards: Questions of Continuity in English-Language Writing  50 The Addition of French  55 3 The Development of the French > English Translator’s Prologue 63 Laȝamon’s Brut and the Beginnings of the French > English Translator’s Prologue 66 A Growing Translation-Consciousness: Developments to c. 1300  72 From Compilation to Translation: Developments in the Fourteenth Century  77 ‘Oral’ Romance Prologues: A Separate Type of Translator’s Prologue?  83 From Laȝamon to Caxton: The Fifteenth Century  90 4 The Figure of the Translator 97 ‘Feþeren he nom mid fingren’: The Figure of the Translator in Literary Sources  100 The Figure of the Translator in Pictorial Sources  108 An Iconography of Translation?  120 ‘I was at Ertheldoun |With Tomas spak Y thare’: ‘Clerk’ and ‘Minstrel’ Translators  128 5 The Acquisition of French 140 Literary Evidence: Prologues, Epilogues and Letters  144 ‘Du fraunceis ki chescun seit dire’: Teaching Material  150 ‘ne illa lingua Gallica penitus sit omissa’: Later Teaching of French  157 The Acquisition of French in the Cloister  158

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viii

Contents

6 The Case for Women Translators 162 Women’s Education and the Use of French  165 ‘Se femme l’ad si transaté’: The Evidence of the Twelfth-Century Women Translators  171 Continuity and Tradition?  180 ‘Crane’ and Chaucer’s Nun: Two Further Possibilities  182 7 The Presentation of Audience and the Later life of the Prologue 189 ‘To laud and Inglis man I spell’: Larger Audience Groups Named in Translations  192 ‘Gode men of Brunne’: Specific Audiences and the Question of Patronage  195 The Prologue in Context: Manuscript Evidence  197 The Knowing of Woman’s Kind and Women Audiences  201 Mouvance, Prologues and Mouvance within Prologues  210 8 Middle Dutch Translators’ Prologues as a Sidelight on English Practice 218 ‘ick de historie vele valsch | Gevonden hebbe in dat walsch’: Attitudes towards French in the Prologues of Jacob van Maerlant  226 ‘Sonder rime also ic sach’: Translating Le Livre de Sidrac 233 ‘menighe avonture | Die nemmer mee ne wert bescreven’: Walewein’s Anti-Translator’s Prologue  238 Conclusion 244 Appendices 249 Appendix 1: Breakdown of Corpus Motifs (as given in Chapter 3)  249 Appendix 2: Table of Verbs Used to Represent Translation in the Corpus  260 Appendix 3: Brief Biographical Information on the Translators  261 Bibliography 264 Index 289

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Illustrations The author and publishers are grateful to all the institutions and individuals listed for permission to reproduce the materials in which they hold copyright. Every effort has been made to trace the copyright holders; apologies are offered for any omission, and the publishers will be pleased to add any necessary acknowledgement in subsequent editions.

Fig. 1 Laȝamon writing. London, British Library, MS Cotton Caligula A. IX, fol. 3r (probably Worcester, c. 1300–1325). Reproduced by permission of the British Library. 111 Fig. 2 A scribe writing, probably Bede, from Life of St Cuthbert. London, British Library, MS Yates Thompson 26, fol. 2r (Durham, c. 1175–1200). Reproduced by permission of the British Library.  112 Fig. 3 A scribe writing the Gospels of Kildare, from Topographica Hibernica. London, British Library, MS Royal 13. B. VIII, fol. 22r (England, perhaps Lincoln, c. 1220). Reproduced by permission of the British Library.  112 Fig. 4 Initial ‘D’, the author writing his book, Li Livres dou Sante, by Aldobrandino of Siena. London, British Library, MS Sloane 2435, fol. 1r (France, late 13th century). Reproduced by permission of the British Library.  113 Fig. 5 The prophet Ezra writing, in the Codex Amiatinus. Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, MS Amiatino 1, fol. 2r. Commissioned by Ceolfrith (d. 716) at Wearmouth-Jarrow, early 8th century. Courtesy of Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana and reprinted with the permission of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage. Further reproduction by any means is prohibited. (Italian original: Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Ms. Amiatino, i, c, Vr Su concessione del Minstero per i Beni i le Attivà Culturali E’ vietata ogni ulteriore riproduzione con qualsiasi mezzo.)  115 Fig. 6 St Matthew writing with his book on his knee, the Lindisfarne Gospels. London, British Library, Cotton Nero D. IV, fol. 25r (Lindisfarne, 720–721). Reproduced by permission of the British Library.  116 Fig. 7 Laurence of Durham writing on a writing-board attached to his chair. Durham University Library, MS Cosin V. III. 1, fol. 22v (Durham, c. 1150–1200). Reproduced by permission of Durham University Library.  116 Fig. 8 Jean de Meun writing the Roman de la Rose on a writing-board. Cambridge University Library, MS Gg. 4. 6, fol. 37r (France, c. 1340). Reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library.  117 Fig. 9 Jean de Meun writing the Roman de la Rose at a desk. London, British Library, Harley 4425, fol. 133r (Bruges, Master of the Prayerbooks, c. 1500). Reproduced by permission of the British Library.  117 Fig. 10 Robed man copying from an exemplar, L’Estoire del Saint Graal. London, British Library, MS Royal 14 E.III, fol. 6v (France (Picardy?), c. 1300–1315). Reproduced by permission of the British Library.  118

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x

Illustrations

Fig. 11 Scribe writing with two books, Le Miroir Historiale. London, British Library, MS Lansdowne 1179, fol. 34v (France, c. 1340). Reproduced by permission of the British Library.  119 Fig. 12 Jean Miélot in his study, Le Debat d’Honneur. Unknown miniaturist. Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, MS 9278, fol. 10r (c. 1450). Copyright Royal Library of Belgium.  119 Fig. 13 St Jerome writing, with the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove whispering in his ear. Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 389, fol. 1v (Saint Augustine’s, Canterbury, ?9th century). Reproduced by permission of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.  121 Fig. 14 Guillaume de Lorris hands the Roman de la Rose to Jean de Meun. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS 1569, fol. 68v. Reproduced by permission of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.  122 Fig. 15 Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun writing the Roman de la Rose. London, British Library, MS Stowe 947, fol. 30v (Paris, possibly the Fauvel Master, c. 1325–1350). Reproduced by permission of the British Library.  123 Fig. 16 Initial ‘I’. Christ hands a book to Bridget, who hands a book to a bishop, probably Alfonso. The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. MS M. 498, fol. 93r. Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) in 1912. Photographic credit: The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.  126 Fig. 17 Initial ‘O’. Christ hands a book to Bridget, who hands a book to a priest, probably one of the Petruses, who hands a book to a messenger, who in turn presents a book to the emperor. The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. MS M. 498, fol. 328r. Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) in 1912.. Photographic credit: The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.  126 Fig. 18 Christ hands a book to Bridget, who hands a book to Petrus of Alvastra and Petrus of Skänninge; the two Petruses pass the book to the emperor. The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. MS M. 498, fol.  343v. Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) in 1912.  127 Fig. 19 Æsop writing, at the prologue of the Fables. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Fr. 2173, fol. 58r. Reproduced by permission of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.  178 Fig. 20 Marie de France writing, at the epilogue of the Fables. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Fr. 2173, fol. 93r. Reproduced by permission of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.  178 Fig. 21 Marie de France writing, at the prologue of the Fables. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Arsenal 3142, fol. 256r. Reproduced by permission of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.  178 Fig. 22 Marie de France reading with book chest in front of her. Initial ‘A’, beginning the epilogue to the Fables. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Arsenal 3142, fol. 273r. Reproduced by permission of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.  178

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Acknowledgements Many people have given support, advice and encouragement throughout the development of this book, and it is my pleasure to thank them here. Ad Putter has been extremely supportive and encouraging from the earliest stages of this book, and I have benefited greatly from his advice and wisdom as my study took shape from the thesis which formed its foundations. My PhD supervisor, Christopher Page, read several drafts of my work with an attentive and exacting eye, and provided a good deal of mentoring and support. My advisors Richard Beadle and Helen Cooper offered extremely helpful advice on shaping my work in its earlier stages, suggesting numerous avenues for further exploration. Jane Gilbert has also provided a great deal of help and support throughout the development of this book. Marianne Ailes has been enthusiastic and encouraging throughout the book’s development within the Bristol Studies in Medieval Cultures series. At Boydell & Brewer, Caroline Palmer, Peter Dent, Rohais Haughton and Rob Kinsey have provided welcome support and guidance during the publication process. I am also grateful to the anonymous reader who read an earlier version of the manuscript and made many helpful suggestions for its improvement. An earlier version of Chapter 3 appeared in an issue of Anglistik edited by Colin Wilcockson; thanks are due to him for his attentive and thoughtful reading during the editing process. Paul Binski and Peter Dent gave perceptive and helpful advice on the History of Art aspects of this book. A version of the discussion of The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing manuscripts appeared in Multilingualism in Medieval Britain, edited by Ad Putter and Judith Jefferson, who provided helpful and constructive feedback during the editing process. I am also grateful to Monica Green for further advice on approaching the Trotula material. For my work on the Middle Dutch material I owe a great deal of thanks to Elsa Strietman, without whose generous advice, enthusiasm and encouragement Chapter 8 could not have taken the shape it did. She advised me on translating Middle Dutch throughout; any mistakes which remain are my own. During the development of this book, I have been fortunate to have worked within dynamic and stimulating scholarly communities which have provided me with wise and kind support and friendship. In particular, my work has benefited from discussions with Joanna Bellis, Aisling Byrne, Ruth Ahnert, Juliana Dresvina, Sara Harris, Natalie Jones, Marilyn Corrie, Diana Tyson, Erin Goeres, Benjamin Bâcle, Hannah Morcos and Karen Pratt, and also from conversations with my MA students at University College London, who offered many thoughtful and illuminating insights into medieval prologues during seminar discussions. Particular thanks are due to Miriam Edlich-Muth, who has been a supportive friend and reader throughout the development of this book.

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xii

Acknowledgements

I would also like to acknowledge the Wingate Scholarship Committee, Pembroke College, Cambridge, and the Jebb Fund for their support during my doctoral studies. I am also grateful to the Leverhulme Trust, which enabled me to complete this book during my Early Career Fellowship at UCL, and to the School of European Languages, Culture and Society that provided further support. Throughout the course of my work, my family and friends have been unfailingly supportive and encouraging. Joan Dearnley has provided professional as well as maternal support in her writing of an excellent and comprehensive index for this book. Christopher Dearnley has read and commented on several sections of the book, and also offered a great deal of moral support. My sister, Tamsin Dearnley, has read and commented on numerous versions of chapters, and offered many helpful and insightful suggestions. Finally, I would like to thank Tom Mansfield for his constant support, encouragement and love.

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Abbreviations AND ANTS ASE AUMLA

Anglo-Norman Dictionary Anglo-Norman Text Society Anglo-Saxon England Journal of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association BL British Library CCSL Corpus Christianorum Series Latina CSEL Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum CT Canterbury Tales CUP Cambridge University Press CUL Cambridge University Library DBNL Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren EETS E.S. Early English Texts Society, Extra Series EETS O.S. Early English Texts Society, Original Series EETS S.S. Early English Texts Society, Supplementary Series FMLS Forum for Modern Language Studies JEGP Journal of English and Germanic Philology LALME A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English Lewis and Short Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short, eds, A Latin Dictionary founded on Andrews’ Edition of Freund’s Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879) MED Middle English Dictionary MGH Monumenta Germaniae Historica MLN Modern Language Notes MLR Modern Language Review N&Q Notes & Queries OED Oxford English Dictionary OUP Oxford University Press PL Patrologia Latina PMLA Publications of the Modern Language Association of America s.v. sub voce TNTL Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse taal – en letterkunde ToblerAdolf Tobler and Erhard Lommatzsch, eds, Altfranzösisches Lommatzsch Wörterbuch, 10 vols (Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1925­–76) UTQ University of Toronto Quarterly

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Introduction

­T

he chronicler L aȝamon, priest of Areley and self-confessed bibliophile, describes in the prologue to his Brut how ‘hit com him on mode’ to tell the history of the English people in the English language. Recalling his travels ‘wide ȝond þas leode’ to gather his sources from French, Latin and English books, he then recounts how he has used this material to create a new work: Laȝamon leide þeos boc. & þa leaf wende. he heom leofliche bi-heold. liþe him beo Drihten. Feþeren he nom mid fingren. & fiede on boc-felle & þa soþere word sette to-gadere. & þa þre boc þrumde to are. [Laȝamon opened these books and turned the pages; he looked upon them with pleasure – God be gracious to him! He took a quill pen in his hand and wrote on parchment, and putting together the truthful words, combined the three books into one.] 1 The leisurely and somewhat anecdotal quality of this passage, composed in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, could easily conceal the fact that this contains the first Middle English translator’s prologue introducing material from a French source. The term ‘translation’ does not appear, and Laȝamon’s discussion of how he condensed or ‘þrumde’ three existing books, in what may be three different languages, to make a single English poem, may have as much to do with redaction as with translation. And yet, this passage voices ideas about the patient and workmanlike creation of a new English tradition by translation that proved very durable and can be found much later in the Middle English period. Three hundred years on, the prologues written by William Caxton for his printed translations present the works which follow in similarly anecdotal and bookish terms, informing the readers of his 1490 edition of Eneydos that there ‘happened that to my hand cam a lytyl booke in frenshe [which] I delybered and concluded to translate it in to englysshe And forthwith toke a penne & ynke and wrote a leef or tweyne’.2 1

Laȝamon, Brut, ed. by G. L. Brook and R. F. Leslie, EETS O.S. 250, 277, 2 vols (London: OUP, 1963–78), Caligula version, lines 24–28; translated in W. R. J. Barron and S. C. Weinberg, Laȝamon: Brut or Hystoria Brutonum: Edition and Translation with Textual Notes and Commentary (London: Longman, 1995), p. 3. All references are to these editions. 2 Eneydos prologue, in William Caxton, The Prologues and Epilogues of William Caxton, ed. by W. J. B. Crotch, EETS O.S. 176 (London: Humphrey Milford, OUP, 1928), p. 107. All references to Caxton’s prologues and epilogues are to this edition. The first record of ‘translate’ in English is found in the Cursor Mundi (c. 1300), according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The Middle English Dictionary (MED) gives the first instance as occurring in William of Palerne (c. 1350–61). OED s.v.

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2

Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England

This book is about the practice of translation from French into English in medieval England, and how the translators themselves viewed their task. At its core is a corpus of 26 French > English translations that contain translators’ prologues. Taken together, these prologues make a remarkable corpus of Middle English literary theory, yet have not so far been studied as a group. They provide a potentially revealing way of approaching translation from French as it was practised in a seminal period for the linguistic and literary history of England. In various ways, these prologues may inform audiences of the origins of the work, describe the translator’s life and his methods, comment on the suitability of English as a medium for translation, or position the new version both within the history of the original work and the wider traditions of translation practice. They therefore offer an invaluable commentary both on individual translations and, collectively, on the larger act of cultural translation (to use a crucial term, for a moment, in an extended sense) that was taking place in later medieval England from a literary culture rooted in French to an established English-language tradition. This core corpus of Middle English translators’ prologues forms the centre-point of my book. However, its scope also extends beyond this, both temporally and geographically, in order to isolate more clearly issues unique to French-to-English translation, and how this might differ from other types of translation taking place in England and elsewhere in Europe. For this reason, I also look in some detail at earlier prologue models by which Middle English translators might have been informed (such as those in Anglo-Norman, and pre-Conquest prologues in Old English), at Middle English prologues from Latin > English translations and also at parallel developments in the Middle Dutch tradition, while frequently returning to the core corpus as a point of reference.

A

s a genre – for that surely is how they should be considered3 – prologues provide a directional framework for the reader. They can offer insights into the way in which a text was composed, and the attitudes which led to its creation, which are rarely found elsewhere. As Daniele Bohler has remarked, ‘[t]he prologue

‘translate’ (v.); MED s.v. ‘translaten’ (v.). Kurath, Hans and others, eds, Middle English Dictionary (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1956–2001), available online at [accessed 24 November 2015]. For a discussion of ‘translaten’, ‘þrumen’ and other terms referring to translation, see Chapter 3. 3 See Jacques Derrida, who asks in ‘Outwork’, his preface to Dissémination, ‘Oughtn’t we some day to reconstitute their history and their typology? Do they form a genre?’ Dissémination, trans. by Barbara Johnson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), p. 8. There have been a handful of studies which consider the prologue as a genre, such as Alberto Porqueras Mayo, El prólogo como género literario: su estudio en el siglo de oro español (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1957). See also Gérard Genette, Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation, trans. by Jane E. Lewin (Cambridge: CUP, 1997), for a post-sixteenth-century history of the things that ‘enable a book to become a book’, such as prefaces, title pages and blurbs. Genette concentrates mainly on French works, but includes examples from across European and American literature. Philippe Lane’s La périphérie du texte (Paris: Nathan, 1992) addresses twentieth-century texts in a similar manner.

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Introduction

3

[…] is a workspace, an atelier, a factory for the production of the text’.4 To be sure, an author might not always be straightforward about his intentions in the prologue, whether from lack of knowledge or deliberate dissembling; examples of the ‘disingenuous prologue’ or ‘disingenuous translator’s statement’ are numerous and well known, Chaucer’s crediting of Lollius with his source for Troilus being perhaps the most famous, and the ‘false modesty’ topos in medieval writing is so well known that it needs no further elaboration here. In all cases, however, the prologue to a text indicates the way in which a writer, translator or compiler intended the accompanying text to be viewed. It would seem, moreover, that medieval prologues were frequently the last part of a work to be written; later elaborations of these, or even the addition of new prologues, were not unknown. Changes to the main text in later manuscript copies could also cause the prologue to be rewritten; conversely, openended prologues, where no explicit constraints are placed on the content of the work which follows, have sometimes encouraged subsequent scribes or readers to add to the original text. If all translation is commentary, as Rita Copeland has suggested, then the translator’s prologue becomes a commentary on that commentary.5 The translator’s prologue is a significant sub-genre of prologue, drawing on larger prologue conventions to reflect the more specific aims pertaining to translation. To be sure, one cannot wholly separate the concerns of translators’ prologues from those of prologues in general; there is sometimes no clear dividing line between the two types. It is therefore essential to examine translation in the Middle Ages in relation to wider medieval conceptions of composition, commentary and compilation; any of these may, at various times, be included in what constitutes ‘translation’. In the late twelfth century, Hugutio of Pisa defined translation – ‘translatio’ – as ‘expositio sententiae per aliam linguam’ (the exposition of meaning through another language) in his etymological dictionary, Magnae derivationes, but the effect of this is to emphasise the act of commentary, ‘expositio’, and therefore once more to assimilate the work of the translator, the seeker of equivalence in linguistic utterances between one language and another, to the commentator.6 Hugutio’s emphasis on translation as commentary – where the new language does not only reproduce the original but explains it – is echoed in the writings of a number of twelfth- and thirteenth-century scholars, reflecting contemporary grammatical teachings.7 As a result, the practice of translation as a process of negotiation between languages and their different lexical or syntactic resources was not overtly identified in any of the 4

Danielle Bohler, ‘Frontally and In Profile: The Identifying Gesture of the Late Medieval Author’, trans. by Lia Brozgal, in The Medieval Author in Medieval French Literature, ed. by Virginie Greene (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), pp. 173–87, at p. 175. 5 Rita Copeland, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics and Translation in the Middle Ages: Academic Traditions and Vernacular Texts (Cambridge: CUP, 1991). 6 Magnae Derivationes, in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 376, fol. 84r. 7 Similar statements are made in John of Genoa’s Catholicon (1286), and in an anonymous twelfthcentury gloss on Priscian; for details, see A. J. Minnis, Magister Amoris: The Roman de la Rose and Vernacular Hermeneutics (Oxford: OUP, 2001), p. 270.

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4

various schematics of writing constructed during this period.8 For example, there is no Latin equivalent of the Old French term ‘translateur’ when St Bonaventure, in the mid thirteenth century, divides the act of writing into four subcategories in his preface to the Sententiarum of Peter Lombard: Quadruplex est modus faciendi librum. Aliquis enim scribit aliena, nihil addendo vel mutando, et iste mere dicitur scriptor. Aliquis scribit aliena addendo, sed non de suo; et iste compilator dicitur. Aliquis scribit et aliena et sua, sed aliena tamquam principalia, et sua tamquam annexa ad evidentiam, et iste dicitur commentator non auctor. Aliquis scribit et sua et aliena, sed sua tamquam principalia, aliena tamquam annexa ad confirmationem et debet dici auctor.9 [The method of making a book is fourfold. For someone writes the materials of others, adding or changing nothing, and this person is said to be merely the scribe. Someone else writes the materials of others, adding, but nothing of his own, and this person is said to be the compiler. Someone else writes both the materials of other men, and of his own, but the materials of others as the principal materials, and his own annexed for the purpose of clarifying them, and this person is said to be the commentator, not the author. Someone else writes both his own materials, and those of others, but his own as the principal materials, and the materials of others annexed for the purpose of confirming his own, and such must be called the author.]10 This passage may seem either to dissolve translation into the act of commentary or to ignore it altogether. Yet, as English rose in prestige as a literary language during the fourteenth century, a substantial number of translations were made from works in French, the language which had been politically and culturally dominant since the Norman Conquest, and a sizeable number of these begin with prologues in which issues of translation are explicitly broached and discussed. To study Middle English translation, through the lens of the prologues, is therefore to ponder the growth of the English language in the Middle Ages as a literary and learned medium.11 Both at the level of single words and, on a larger scale, of concepts and entire literary traditions, translators acted as ambassadors for their own language, returning with knowledge gained, so to speak, from their overseas 8

For further discussion of these, see A. J. Minnis, Medieval Theory of Authorship: Scholastic Literary Attitudes in the Later Middle Ages, 2nd edn (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1988), e.g. p. 100. 9 St Bonaventure, Prooemii, qu.4, conclusio, ed. by I. Quaracchi, St Bonaventura: Opera Omnia, 11 vols (Rome: Ad Claras Aquas, 1882–1902), vol. 1, pp. 14–15. 10 Trans. in Minnis, Medieval Theory of Authorship, p. 94. 11 Cf. Eugene Nida, Toward a Science of Translating: With Special Reference to Principles and Procedures Involved in Bible Translating (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1964), p. 3: ‘Translators themselves […] are responsible for a good deal of the change that does take place within language.’ See also S. K. Workman, Fifteenth Century Translation as an Influence on English Prose (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1940).

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Introduction

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postings. To shift the metaphor, they were plunderers of the source language, using the spoils gained to enhance and augment their own linguistic territory.12 As emphasised above, there is no existing comprehensive study of these translators’ prologues. The anthology of Middle English literary theory, The Idea of the Vernacular, is an important addition to the field, having been instrumental in drawing attention to Middle English literary theory as a genre, and draws much of its evidence from various kinds of prologue. However, it is of a wider scope than this study and uses the material gathered to address Middle English literary theory as a whole rather than to focus on prologues, or translation, in their own right. Moreover, its focus as an ‘argued anthology’ is more on collating theoretical material than on its analysis and categorisation.13 My study is a focused analysis of a subset of this type of theoretical material, namely prologues to French > English translations which discuss the translation process. Any more specialised attempts made so far on analysing the content and structure of Middle English prologues have been unsatisfactory. Some have discussed them in terms of existing models: Rosamund Allen, for example, has called Laȝamon’s prologue ‘an informal version of the Aristotelian prologue’, which is perhaps a problematic description, as the Aristotelian prologue by its nature is a formal prologue type.14 Ruth Evans’ essay in The Idea of the Vernacular has taken the opposite approach, suggesting that English prologues are essentially unclassifiable: Middle English vernacular prologues […] cannot be read simply as versions (or perversions) of the distinctive genres of formal Latin prologues […] Nor are [they] simply part of a generic tradition whose contours can be described and classified; they emerge out of a particular discursive matrix in which the 12

Cf. Juliette Dor, ‘Traduttore Cicerone: The Translator as Cross-Cultural Go-Between’, in Interpretation: Medieval and Modern, ed. by Piero Boitani and Anna Torti (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1993), pp. 91–106. One is also reminded of St Jerome’s military metaphors when discussing Hilary the Confessor as a translator: ‘quasi captiuos sensus in suam linguam uictoris iuere transposuit’ (by right of victory he led away the sense captive into his own language). Epistle 57, ed. by Isidorus Hilberg, Sancti Eusebii Hieronymi Epistulae, 3 vols, CSEL 54–56 (Vienna: F. Tempsky, 1910–18), vol. 1, p. 511; all further references to Epistle 57 are to this edition. Images of conquest and military force have been used to describe translation throughout history; a striking later example can be found in Brian Friel’s play Translations (London: Faber and Faber, 1981), which examines the English oppression of Ireland in the mid nineteenth century in terms of the imposition of Anglicised place names. 13 Jocelyn Wogan-Browne and others, The Idea of the Vernacular: An Anthology of Middle English Literary Theory, 1280–1520 (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 1999), p. xvi: ‘The main argument of this anthology is simply that there is such a thing as Middle English literary theory, and that it needs to be taken seriously as a distinct field.’ The term ‘argued anthology’ has been used several times in relation to this work, e.g. by Nicolas Watson on his Harvard University web page [accessed 24 November 2015]. There is also a brief but useful discussion of Middle English prologues in Andrew Galloway, ‘Middle English Prologues’, in Readings in Medieval Texts: Interpreting Old and Middle English Literature, ed. by David Johnson and Elaine Treharne (Oxford: OUP, 2005), pp. 288–305, although this is intended as an introduction to the topic rather than a full-length study. 14 Rosamund Allen, Lawman: Brut (London: Dent, 1992), p. 422.

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England prologue plays a historically specific role in differentiating theory from practice and in authorizing the text.15

As Evans suggests, English prologues cannot simply be derived from existing Latin models. Nor do they follow French and Anglo-Norman precedents in a straightforward manner; the earliest French writers developed their own conventions for introducing works in the vernacular. Whilst some of these proved suitable for English writers, the task of writing in English created new problems which had to be addressed appropriately in prologues. Many English prologues – particularly those written in the first half of the fourteenth century – do appear unclassifiable, with various motifs from a pool of related ideas about language, authority and translation surfacing throughout the period, as writers experimented with what written Middle English could do. However, it is one contention of my study that writers of English prologues were gradually moving towards the creation of new models. It is hoped that this book, in choosing to address the narrower field of prologues from French > English translations, will demonstrate one way in which these new models were created. As English rose in prestige as a literary language during the fourteenth century, English translators grew in confidence, and English translation became a literary tradition in its own right. It followed, therefore, that this burgeoning tradition would develop its own critical vocabulary and conventions, just as the Latin commentary tradition had done in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Moreover, the prologues to these translations did not simply become more sophisticated as a reflection of the rising fortunes of English, but actively contributed to its growing prestige, helping to shape the nascent literary language by providing the critical tools with which writers could create more self-aware, well-crafted translations. During the last twenty-five years medieval translation has become an increasingly studied topic. Copeland’s work has been pivotal in reassessing the function of translation-as-commentary in Latin > vernacular translations.16 The Medieval Translator series, based on papers given at the Cardiff conferences on translation in the Middle Ages and first edited by Roger Ellis, has also done a considerable amount to raise the profile of the subject.17 However, the main problem with the study of medieval translation has been the vast scale of the material, and consequently the piecemeal nature in which it has been studied. There have been many excellent studies of translations of individual texts and the work of individual translators, but so far few attempts have been made to link these together to create a wider sense of the translation process. As Ellis writes in his introduction to the first volume: Ideally, a model might have emerged which could do for the study of practice what Copeland […] does for the theory. Such a model might distinguish 15

Ruth Evans, ‘An Afterword on the Prologue’, in The Idea of the Vernacular, ed. by Jocelyn WoganBrowne and others, pp. 371–8, at p. 372. 16 Copeland, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics and Translation. 17 C. Batt, R. Ellis and R. Tixier (gen. eds) The Medieval Translator, 15 vols (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer; Turnhout: Brepols, 1989-).

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Introduction

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interlinear gloss and fullblown adaptation of a source as opposing ends of a spectrum of practice […] Regrettably, the papers of this volume witness to it only indirectly and brokenly.18 Over twenty-five years after Ellis’ statement, it would seem that the working out of this ‘spectrum of practice’ would be an important addition to scholarship; the question is whether this can be done across ‘medieval translation’ – or indeed across ‘medieval English translation’ – as a whole. The chances of developing such a spectrum, however, may be enhanced if one approaches the subject from a smaller sub-section of the field. In her article ‘Mapping Medieval Translation’, which investigates the subject via a discussion of the ‘micro-field’ of Middle English romances translated from Anglo-Norman, Ivana Djordjević remarks that ‘there is still not enough methodological dialogue among [the various existing studies of individual translations]: their methodologies are simply too diverse to produce conclusions that can easily be integrated with other findings into an overview of a particular translation system’.19 She admits, however, that the area of ‘medieval translation’ is far too diverse for any satisfactory theories to be formed about the topic in its entirety, and proposes a solution thus: We need methodological tools sophisticated enough to allow us both to describe the process of translation that produced a particular Middle English romance and to inscribe the findings in a more comprehensive poetics within which other generically cognate texts were produced. The accurate and systematic mapping of this extremely important process is clearly beyond the means of any individual scholar, which is precisely why the formulation of a workable analytic model is highly desirable.20 Prologues from French > English translations would seem an ideal ‘micro-field’, and one which could lead in turn to the formulation of a ‘workable analytic model’ through which French–English translation during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries can be mapped. There is no existing overview of French > English translation in the Middle Ages.21 Given the centrality of translation to the creation of Middle English literature, a wider understanding of this process would surely be of immense value. Whilst an in-depth investigation into every French > English translation made in the 18

Roger Ellis, ‘Introduction’, in The Medieval Translator: The Theory and Practice of Translation in the Middle Ages, ed. by Roger Ellis, with Jocelyn Price, Stephen Medcalf and Peter Meredith (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1989), pp. 1–14, at p. 8. 19 Ivana Djordjević, ‘Mapping Medieval Translation’, in Medieval Insular Romance: Translation and Innovation, ed. by Judith Weiss, Jennifer Fellows and Morgan Dickson (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2000), pp. 7–23, at p. 22. 20 Ibid., p. 22. 21 Such a study has been called for by Ardis Butterfield, who has remarked that ‘Much remains to be considered in relating [the] debates over translation from Latin to models of […] translation from one vernacular into another’. Butterfield, The Familiar Enemy: Chaucer, Language and Nation in the Hundred Years War (Oxford: OUP, 2009), p. 287.

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England

period would obviously be impractical – at least for a single scholar – it seems to me that a useful place to begin this mapping process is through the study of a corpus of texts which themselves discuss the translation process, principally through translators’ prologues. It would be misleading to suggest that an all-encompassing theory of French–English translation can be directly extrapolated from such a corpus; however, close study of these prologues and the texts they introduce can point the way towards a framework for such a theory, suggesting ways in which the translation process can be analysed according to criteria which the translators themselves offer. At this early stage in identifying what a corpus of such prologues might contain, it will be helpful to provide a working definition of the term ‘French’ in a linguistic context. The terms ‘Anglo-Norman’ and ‘Anglo-French’ have both been used to refer to the French which was written and spoken in medieval England; Anglo-Norman, an eighteenth-century coinage, is the most commonly used term today, and is generally employed to describe francophone texts composed in Britain after the Conquest, with Anglo-French sometimes referring to French works of continental provenance circulating in England and to the continental French used in England in the later fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (although it has also been used to describe texts traditionally known as Anglo-Norman).22 Whilst there are undoubted differences between insular and continental varieties of French, such terms, as Jocelyn WoganBrowne has pointed out, can create an artificial boundary between the varieties not necessarily present in the porous reality of language. I prefer Wogan-Browne’s working term ‘the French of England’, which is often, as she demonstrates, a spectrum of ‘Frenches of England’; the sheer multiplicity of ways in which French was spoken, written and intermingled with the other languages means that there is no simple, single definition of the language.23 The English texts at issue in this study are translated from both continental and insular French sources, many of which circulated in manuscript copies produced in both countries. I will generally refer to the language of the source texts as ‘French’, differentiating between continental and insular varieties where appropriate. Due to the accepted scholarly currency of ‘Anglo-Norman’ (for instance, in the Anglo-Norman Dictionary (AND)), however, this term will also be used when referring to the body of literature conventionally described as such. In the particularly complex trilingual milieu of medieval England, issues relating to French > English translation cannot be wholly separated from those of Latin > English. As the opening example of Laȝamon’s Brut shows, English translators often drew on a mixture of Latin and French sources, and the complex relationships between the 22

For an excellent discussion of the ways in which these and other terms have been used to describe the French of medieval England, see Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, ‘General Introduction: What’s in a Name: The “French” of “England”’, in Language and Culture in Medieval Britain: The French of England c.1100–c.1500, ed. by Jocelyn Wogan-Browne and others (York: York Medieval Press, 2009), pp.  1–13, esp. pp.  1, 12. William Rothwell’s revision of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary (AND) as well as his numerous articles on this subject (e.g. ‘The Missing Link in English Etymology: AngloFrench’, Medium Ævum 60 (1991), pp. 173–96) have played a major role in reassessing the importance of this variant of French. 23 Wogan-Browne, ‘What’s in a Name’, p. 9.

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Introduction

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three languages in a variety of social and literary contexts mean that it is frequently impossible to isolate the concerns of any two without taking the third into account. Accordingly, the translation of Latin material into English has been the subject of some broad and perceptive studies; Alistair Minnis and Copeland, for example, have explored the appropriation of Latin authority in vernacular texts through the use of Latin models.24 The process of translation from one vernacular to another, however, has received somewhat less attention. As an ‘illustrious vernacular’, to use Dante’s phrase, French occupied a middle ground between Latin and other vernaculars, not only in England but across much of Europe, and there is still much work to be done in establishing exactly how it was absorbed and appropriated into the developing literary traditions of other European languages.25 Translation between vernaculars also involves a consideration of the translators’ use of non-academic models (not covered by Minnis and Copeland), and the interplay of written and oral traditions in the translation process, often exemplified in the rivalry expressed in a number of texts between ‘clerk’ and ‘minstrel’ translators. It is hoped that the present study will enhance our understanding of the strategies used by anglophone writers – meaning writers whose mother tongue was English – to enhance and build up the English literary tradition through means of translation from French, and how the greater instability of the role and reputation of French during the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries informed translation procedure. It is also necessary to establish a period during which the study of French > English translation may usefully take place. The earliest extant French > English translator’s prologue, as mentioned above, is that of Laȝamon’s Brut, and my corpus of prologues starts here, at the point at which anglophone translators began to engage with the new concerns involved in translating French into English rather than Latin (as had been the case, for instance, with Old English translators such as Ælfred and Ælfric, or Laȝamon’s near-contemporary Orm, whose slightly earlier Ormulum (c. 1180) contains a prologue discussing Latin > English translation which is instructive to compare with the trilingual issues addressed in the Brut). However, I am most concerned with charting the development of translation during the thirteenth and pre-Chaucerian fourteenth centuries, when literary and learned uses of the English language were moving from obscure beginnings (as it may now seem) to broader fortunes. Christopher Cannon’s important study The Making of Chaucer’s English has firmly established the extent to which ‘Chaucer’s English’ existed pre-Chaucer;26 from a more broadly etymological standpoint, Xavier Dekeyser has shown that 24

A. J. Minnis, Medieval Theory of Authorship; idem, Translations of Authority in Medieval English Literature: Valuing the Vernacular (Cambridge: CUP, 2009); Copeland, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics and Translation. 25 Dante Alighieri, De Vulgari Eloquentia, ed. and trans. by Steven Botterill (Cambridge: CUP, 1996), pp.  26–7: ‘Quam multis varietatibus latio dissonante vulgari, decentiorem atque illustrem Ytalie venemur loquelam (Amid the cacophony of the many varieties of Italian speech, let us hunt for the most respectable and illustrious vernacular that exists in Italy)’. All references are to this edition. 26 Christopher Cannon, The Making of Chaucer’s English: A Study of Words (Cambridge: CUP, 1998).

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new loanwords entered Middle English from French at the greatest rate between 1200 and 1350.27 Most recently, Philip Durkin’s major study of English loanwords using data from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) demonstrates the same trend, revealing that this reached its apogee between 1300 and 1349, when 39% of all new English words adopted during this period were of French origin.28 Also pertinent is the iconic date of 1362 – that of the so-called Statute of Pleading, in which it was decreed that all pleas in courts of law should henceforth be argued in English rather than French – which, although it is not the decisive moment it has sometimes been considered to be, serves as a convenient marker for the point at which English can be said to have re-entered public life.29 My main focus, therefore, is on pre-1400 works; however, uncertainties about the dating of many texts, where a possible date cannot be narrowed down to less than a 50-year period, means that 1450 is a safer date to choose as an absolute cut-off point for texts included in my study. The later date is also nearly a century after the Statute of Pleading, during which time the effects of this move to make the use of English official had time to filter through society on a wider scale. A Manual of the Writings in Middle English lists 196 French > English translations made between 1050 and 1500. Of these (to use the generic categories used by the Manual) there are 60 romances, 38 works of religious and philosophical instruction, 17 scientific works, 12 versions and fragments of Mandeville’s Travels, 11 dialogues and debates, 8 chronicles, 8 proverb collections, 3 tales and 1 collection of balades; of those by well-established writers there are 28 written or overseen by Caxton, 6 by Lydgate and 4 by Chaucer.30 From this large group a smaller, more manageable corpus has been taken of those texts which include translators’ prologues or prologue-type passages (by which I mean material that broaches broad issues in ways designed comprehensively to frame the reader’s perception of what is being read, which therefore acts as a prologue) and which were written before 1450. There are 26 texts which answer to this description; in chronological order they are as follows: Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250) Of Arthour and of Merlin (Auchinleck version) (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300) Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) 27

Xavier Dekeyser, ‘Romance Loans in Middle English: A Reassessment’, in Linguistics Across Historical and Geographical Boundaries: In Honour of Jacek Fisiak, ed. by Dieter Kastovsky and Alexander Szwedek, 2 vols (Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton, 1986), vol. 1, pp. 253–64. 28 Philip Durkin, Borrowed Words: A History of Loanwords in English (Oxford: OUP, 2014), p. 35, Fig. 2.6. Durkin’s data is taken from all sections of the third edition of the OED (OED3) completed as of November 2013, which comprises approximately one-third of the full dictionary (for discussion see Ch. 2, esp. p. 23). 29 For a discussion of the Statute and its significance, see e.g. William Rothwell, ‘English and French in England after 1362’, English Studies 82 (2001), pp. 539–59. 30 J. B. Severs, ed., A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500, 11 vols (New Haven, CT: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1967-).

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Handlyng Synne (begun 1303) The Lay Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–25) The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–25) Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–25) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–30) Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–30) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315) The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338) The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340) William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) Northern Octavian (c. 1325­­­–75) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400) Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384) The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s) Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425) The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–50) Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–50) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)31 It should be noted that a corpus of this nature cannot be completely comprehensive nor transcribed by exact boundaries. Given the difficulties of dating many works described above, there are some mid-fifteenth-century prologues which could arguably have been included, such as that of the Middle Scots poem Lancelot of the Laik (c. 1450–1480), in which the narrator is told by a green bird to ‘translait the romans of that knycht’ to prove his love for his lady.32 It is also possible that some texts may inadvertently have been omitted from this study due to the Manual being insufficiently precise about their status as French > English translations. Despite these caveats, it is hoped that the corpus I have selected offers as comprehensive a view as possible of the Middle English translator’s prologue, allowing for the charting of both its development as a genre and its role in shaping the practice of French > English translation. All 26 texts have French texts as their sole or primary source, except for Richard Coer de Lyon, Sir Orfeo, the Cursor Mundi and The Legend of Good Women. Lost

31

Datings are based on those suggested by standard editions or studies, rather than those of the Manual alone. 32 Lancelot of the Laik, in Alan Lupack, ed., Lancelot of the Laik and Sir Tristrem (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 1994), line 211.

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England

French sources have been posited for Richard Coer de Lyon33 and Sir Orfeo;34 the latter’s sharing of a prologue with Lay le Freine is also a qualification for inclusion. In the case of the Cursor Mundi, a number of both Latin and French sources were used; however, due to its prologue’s extensive discussion of the role of English in relation to Latin and French, it is important to include it here. Meanwhile, Chaucer’s prologue to The Legend of Good Women – which is not itself a translation from French – can arguably be read as a translator’s prologue to his earlier Romaunt of the Rose, offering a retrospective commentary on the rationale behind, and pitfalls of, translating such an iconic French text. In almost all cases, the prologue material is in its typical position, at or near the beginning of the text, and explicitly raises issues of translation. The prologues range in time from after 1189 to c. 1450, and are written in Middle English dialects ranging from strongly Northern to Chaucerian London. The range of genres is wide, encompassing romance, penitential manual, chronicle, medical text, Breton lay, tale collection and works of religious instruction. Admittedly, this means that any discussion of the conventions or otherwise of the translator’s prologue will be complicated by other considerations (not least of which is the difficulty of comparing such vastly differing texts). However, this diversity can be a strength. Providing a good cross-section of Middle English literature as a whole, and indeed including texts which are outside the boundaries of what is usually considered ‘literary’, such as The Knowing of Woman’s Kind, this sample of texts can be used to suggest ways in which prologues – and subsequently translation techniques – differ due to the constraints and traditions of different genres, the words which spring most readily to mind to translators using different Middle English dialects, and the varying political and literary demands of different periods.

T

he opening t wo chapters of the book investigate potential models for the Middle English translator’s prologue in earlier European literary traditions, a consideration necessary for developing an understanding of how Middle English translators both made use of existing precedents and created their own models in response to the unique demands of their task. This is divided into two parts, discussing the concept and practice of translation in Romance and Germanic languages respectively. One of the questions explored in this book is how English, as an essentially Germanic tongue, deals with the prospect of translation from French, a Romance language. In order to more fully appreciate the Romance–Germanic linguistic divide in medieval Europe, it is necessary to begin by looking at the ways in which these two branches of European languages approached translation from Latin. Many of

33

See Karl Brunner, ed., Der Mittelenglische Versroman über Richard Löwenherz (Vienna: Wilhelm Braumüller, 1913), p. 51. 34 This may be the lost Lai d’Orphey mentioned in the French Floire et Blancheflor, the Lay d’Espine, and the prose Lancelot. On the possible sources of the Middle English poem, see A. J. Bliss, ed., Sir Orfeo, 2nd edn (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), pp. xl–xli.

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Introduction

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the translation techniques and ideological stances adopted by Latin > Romance translators – in which the similarity of the target language to its source was often stressed, and where it was frequently possible for Latin vocabulary to be absorbed into the translation with few lexical or grammatical changes – were inappropriate for those wishing to translate Latin into English, German, Dutch or Norse. In Latin > Germanic translation, where Latin had always operated as a conceptually distinct foreign language, the target language could not be made to seem more prestigious by virtue of its perceived similarity to Latin, and translators were more likely to need to choose between finding (or creating) a Germanic equivalent to a Latin term or lifting a more obviously foreign word into the new text. This then leads to the question of how French, capable of borrowing a good deal of the prestige associated with Latin in the course of its development into a mature literary vernacular, could in turn be translated into a Germanic language such as English or Dutch, which had no direct access to these privileges. In all of these languages, such negotiations were frequently voiced in translators’ prologues. In Chapter 1, ‘The Translator’s Prologue: Latin and French Antecedents’, I trace the background of the medieval translator’s prologue from its earliest beginnings within the Romance language tradition, discussing the prologue models available to Middle English writers in classical, medieval Latin and Romance material. After charting the gradual movement from ‘transmission’ to ‘translation’, as the various Romance languages began to be conceptualised as separate from Latin, and investigating the 813 Council of Tours as a possible marker of this, I then consider the subsequent development of the translator’s prologue as a distinct sub-genre of prologue. As will become clear, the adaptation of Latin prologue models by AngloNorman writers, and the strategies used in these early vernacular prologues both to apologise for and elevate their choice of language, played an important role in the establishment of authority in these new literary languages. The effect of an established written Anglo-Saxon tradition, and its effect on the ‘precocity’ which has frequently been observed as a feature of Anglo-Norman, is here explored in terms of Anglo-Norman prologues; in the assimilation of earlier English traditions, and the establishment of French as the prestige literary language of Europe,35 I explore how translators’ prologues both reflect and shape development. Chapter 2, ‘The Translator’s Prologue: The Germanic and Anglo-Saxon Background’, investigates the development of the Middle English translator’s prologue from the perspective of a different branch of the Indo-European language family, exploring conceptual differences between Latin > Romance and Latin > Germanic translations which may in turn have affected post-Conquest English attitudes to translation. Returning to the 813 Council of Tours as a starting point, which acknowledged a divide between ‘romana lingua’ and ‘thiotisca lingua’, I focus here 35

For a discussion of the term ‘prestige language’, see Henry Kahane and Renée Kahane, ‘Decline and Survival of Western Prestige Languages’, Language 55 (1979), pp. 183–98; Henry Kahane, ‘A Typology of the Prestige Language’, Language 62 (1986), pp. 495–508.

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England

on the Germanic traditions which informed vernacular translation in England. After examining developments in continental Europe, such as the work of the pioneering Germanic vernacular translators Otfrid von Weissenburg and Notker Labeo of St Gall, the discussion moves to consider developments within England, focusing on the work of Ælfred and Ælfric. This chapter also looks ahead to English-language literature immediately post-Conquest, and addresses questions of continuity from the Anglo-Saxon perspective. Pre- and post-Conquest literary continuity is explored through the differing presentation of Latin > English and French > English translation in translators’ prologues during this period. The essentially Germanic nature of English meant that it continued to relate to Latin as a foreign language, and similar attitudes towards Latin were expressed by both Old English and Middle English translators (the latter group sometimes consciously evoking an Anglo-Saxon heritage). The introduction of a new language, French, into a Germanic culture which already possessed a long and complex history of translation meant that English translators needed to find new ways of conceptualising its translation. The third chapter of my study offers a focused discussion of the core corpus of Middle English prologues, building on the wider context of the earlier Latin, French and Germanic material discussed in the preceding chapters. In Chapter 3, ‘The Development of the French > English Translator’s Prologue’, I explore the development of the English prologue from the Anglo-Norman prologue which preceded it and formed its immediate model, and chart the growth of translation-consciousness in written English as reflected in, and actively shaped by, these prologues. Although the date boundary for the main focus of my study ends in the mid fifteenth century, this chapter also looks ahead to the elaborate, highly formalised prologues written by William Caxton for his commercial, printed translations, which in many ways bring the Middle English translator’s prologue to its fullest expression. The invention of printing was a major factor in the fixing of prologue form; individual scribes could no longer alter prologues from copy to copy of a text, resulting in a more stable, formalised prologue practice. Whilst a detailed commentary on printed prologues is beyond the limits of this study, it seems expedient to end my survey of the French > English translator’s prologue with Caxton. His extremely self-aware yet formulaic prologues to the translations he published in the late fifteenth century can be seen as a solidified, fixed version of the prologue conventions being established in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After tracing the history of the Middle English translator’s prologue from its Romance and Germanic antecedents to the beginning of the age of print, my study moves to address more specific aspects of the translation process, supported where relevant by external evidence but frequently returning to the core corpus of Middle English prologues as a point of reference. The prologues frequently offer reasonably accurate (if schematised) representations of the translators themselves, their language skills and the audiences they envisage for their translations to an extent which is not always recognised. Comparing these descriptions with what is known about the historical practice of translation allows for an exploration of the relationship

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Introduction

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between rhetoric and reality, similar to my treatment of the Middle English prologues in Chapter 3, in which the corpus is examined to see what it might reveal, or conceal, about the work of translators. To begin with, I take a look behind the prologues to examine the lives and work of those who created them. Chapter 4, ‘The Figure of the Translator’, explores the wider conditions in which French > English translation took place in England, both in terms of how this was represented in translators’ prologues and in other representations of this task (e.g. in author portraits in illuminated manuscripts), and of what can be known about actual practice (e.g. the working environments, tools and lifestyles of translators). After an initial discussion of the information provided by the prologues in the corpus, Chapter 4 considers the figure of the translator as a variant of the ‘Everyman’ narrator figure who commonly appears in medieval texts, and examines the potential problems involved in separating archetype from real practice. The biographical material provided by some of the translators, such as Laȝamon and Dan Michel, is explored in the light of wider conventions surrounding the portrayal of the act of translation. This is followed by a consideration of visual depictions of translators in medieval manuscripts, beginning with the image of Laȝamon in London, British Library, MS Cotton Caligula A. IX. In a manuscript culture where word and image were frequently presented together on the page, author portraits at the beginning of texts often function as the visual equivalent of prologues. In addition to the invaluable evidence they may provide of such practicalities of scribal practice as desk arrangements and the positioning of exemplars, these images suggest further ways in which translation was conceptualised in relation to other kinds of writing activity, and are used to explore whether an iconography of translation might have existed in any sense. The third section of this chapter turns from a consideration of the ‘clerkly’ translator figure, presented with pen and book in hand, to the equally archetypal figure of the ‘minstrel’ author. Several of the translations in the corpus were believed by earlier critics to have been made by minstrels; this section explores the extent to which these two professions are often artificially opposed in prologues, and suggests ways in which the so-called ‘minstrel translations’ might have been created. A consideration of the working methods of those translating from French in medieval England leads to another fundamental question: how did these translators acquire their French? Were they born into French-speaking families or did they learn it at some later point, and if so, how? In what ways might their proficiency level and the way in which they learned the language have affected their approaches to the task of translation? In Chapter 5, ‘The Acquisition of French’, I discuss aspects of the teaching and learning of French within the more specific context of French > English translation. This chapter considers how French might have been learned in medieval England in relation to the questions of formal and informal education raised in Chapter 4, and explores potential links between the changing status of French as expressed in the core corpus of prologues and the changing ways in which French was acquired in England during the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

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Beginning with a discussion of references to proficiency in French offered in prologues, letters and other literary works, I then examine those texts used for the teaching of that language, exploring the extent to which these methods of languagelearning might have been used by translators. Changing levels of competence in French are charted throughout; the gradual movement from active to more passive ability, and from a language used more as a spoken tongue to a written one, provides an important context for the way in which French > English translation was carried out throughout the period. As Chapter 5 demonstrates, French was not a language restricted, as Latin was, to ‘þei þat haue it of scole tane’, to quote the Speculum Vitae’s tripartite division of the languages of England.36 One effect of this may have been its greater accessibility to women. Much of our picture of translation in the Middle Ages is male-dominated, either implicitly or explicitly, and an assessment of the available evidence relating to women translators is necessary to redress this balance. Chapter 6, ‘The Case for Women Translators’, explores the extent to which women might have been involved in carrying out French > English translation. Beginning by discussing the work of Eleanor Hull, the one known example of a woman translating from French into English in the fifteenth century, the chapter then investigates women’s access to the learning of French, assessing the plausibility of whether at least some women might have been capable of translating this language into English (in a way that they would not necessarily have been in relation to Latin > English translation), either single-handedly or in collaboration, and explores women’s access to the scribal skills which could have enabled them to make written translations. The chapter then goes on to examine Anglo-Norman women translators and their prologues as a way of investigating potential historical precedents and models for French > English translation by women, in the same way that Anglo-Norman, Old High German and Old English prologue traditions are examined as possible models for their Middle English counterparts earlier in this book, exploring questions of continuity and tradition. This is followed by a consideration of what any later counterparts of these women might have looked like, and a discussion of the usefulness of searching for a ‘women’s tradition’ of translation. The focus then moves from those producing the translations to those using them. Chapter 7, ‘The Presentation of Audience and the Later Life of the Prologue’, discusses the relationship between prologue and audience, and how this may have shifted over time. A substantial number of manuscripts containing texts from the corpus have been examined; examples from these will be used to illustrate the discussion. In the first section of the chapter, I discuss images of audiences contained in 36

‘Latyne, als I trowe, can nane | Bot þa þat has it of skole tane; | Summe can Frankische and na Latyne Þat vsed has court and dwelled þarin | […] Bot lered and lawed, alde and yhunge, | Alle vndurstandes Inglische tunge.’ Speculum Vitae, ed. by Ralph Hanna, Speculum Vitae: A Reading Edition, using materials assembled by Venetia Somerset, EETS O.S. 331, 332 (Oxford: OUP, 2008), lines 71–4. All references are to this edition. For further discussion of this passage, see Chapter 2.

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Introduction

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prologues, considering ways in which translators imagined the audiences of their texts, and how this compared with the actual beneficiaries of English translations. I focus particularly on the linguistic abilities of the audience, and the relationship between prologues suggesting the existence of a monolingual audience and their wider manuscript context; for instance, whether texts stating that they have been translated for those who only know English are typically contained in monolingual manuscripts. The second section of this chapter takes The Knowing of Woman’s Kind as a case study in examining the relationship between prologue and manuscript, investigating the extent to which the Knowing’s claims that it was translated into English ‘be-cawse that women of oure tunge cunne bettir reede and vnderstonde this langage than ony other’ are supported by codicological evidence that the extant manuscripts were used by women. In the final section of Chapter 7, I discuss the later life of the prologue, when audiences themselves become involved in the creation and augmentation of prologues through the interpolation or omission of particular lines. Here I address any changes in audience that may be implied by later manuscript copies of the text, and also explore the relationship between prologue and main text in terms of changes which may be made to the work by later readers and scribes. As will become apparent from this book, the practice of translation in medieval England cannot fully be appreciated without a wider understanding of translation practices across Europe, and there are limits to how far the English material can be studied in isolation from analogous prologue material introducing French texts into other European vernaculars. The journeys across national and linguistic borders made by numerous manuscripts and ideas, and the various acts of translation this involved, mean that, as Frits van Oostrom has put it, we need to look ‘through a European wide-angle lens’ on many aspects of medieval literature – not least of all translation – if this subject is to be more fully and accurately understood.37 The political dominance of France and francophones over large areas of western Europe, as well as the dissemination of iconic literary works such as the Roman de la Rose, meant that many emerging vernacular traditions looked to French – a lingua franca in the strict sense – as a model of an illustrious vernacular. My final chapter, therefore, offers a broader perspective on the Middle English corpus by discussing the prologues written for French > Dutch translations made in the Low Countries over the same time period. In Chapter 8, ‘Middle Dutch Translators’ Prologues as a Sidelight on English Practice’, I offer another example of a Germanic language negotiating the translation of a Romance source, focusing particularly on the prologues of the prolific thirteenth-century poet Jacob van Maerlant, that of Het Boek van Sidrac, and the Arthurian romance Walewein (which explicitly points to the absence of a French source). The Middle Dutch corpus – virtually unknown to anglophone scholars – shows notable parallels with its English 37

Frits van Oostrom, ‘Middle Dutch Literature at Court (With Special Reference to the Court of Holland-Bavaria)’, in Medieval Dutch Literature in its European Context, ed. by Erik Kooper (Cambridge: CUP, 1994), pp. 30–45, at p. 39.

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England

counterpart. As it also contains a considerable amount of material discussing translation methods and literary theory, study of this corpus proves especially useful for the wider European context it provides. A pan-European study of translators’ prologues would be a welcome addition to scholarship; it is hoped that this final chapter might lay some of the groundwork for this. Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England aims to provide a wider sense of French > English translation practice during a period of critical growth and development for Middle English as a mature and supple literary language. It uses the core corpus of Middle English translators’ prologues both as a lens through which this development can be viewed and as an anchor point for a book which at times covers a wide temporal and geographical range of material, from Old High German prologues to author portraits in illuminated manuscripts. In surveying the potentially vast field of French > English translation from the vantage point of a compact yet diverse corpus of translators’ prologues, it is hoped that a basis for the ‘spectrum of practice’ called for by Ellis can be approached, both in terms of a discussion of translation methodology as presented in prologues and in an exploration of the lives and working methods of the translators. Whilst the creation of any type of model for Middle English translation is beyond the bounds of a single study, an analysis of the development of translation techniques and methodology as described by translators themselves provide a useful map by which to chart the movement from a literary culture rooted in Anglo-Norman at the end of the thirteenth century to what, in the fifteenth, is regarded as an established ‘English’ tradition.

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Chapter 1

The Translator’s Prologue: Latin and French Antecedents

T

he notion that a speech, play or other work should begin with an explanatory preamble may have its origins (if origins there must be) in Greek theatre and oratory. The innovation of a prologue to introduce Greek drama is attributed to Thespis (c. 534 bc), and the development of Attic oratory in the fifth century bc resulted in the compiling of stock openings for forensic and political speeches.1 The Greco-Roman legacy bequeathed a number of prologue models to medieval writers, and the scholastic and ‘Aristotelian’ prologues became particularly widespread in Latin texts from the later twelfth century onwards. Latin prologues were in turn available to vernacular writers, who were obliged to consider the extent to which these models were suited to the differing concerns of vernacular texts. The scholastic prologue model, however, became particularly influential in the thirteenth century; vernacular authors from all genres were anxious to borrow terminology and topoi from the scholastic tradition in order to gain a measure of high seriousness, professionalism and intellectual gravitas.

The L atin Prologue Tradition and the Growth of Transl ation-Consciousness

T

he immediate antecedent of the Latin literary prologue can be found in the exordium, prooemium and principium (the terms are used interchangeably) of classical oratory. Classical poetic theory was also a significant influence on the poetic theory of the Middle Ages, and this extended indirectly to the composition of prologues. Cicero’s De Inventione, the pseudo-Ciceronian Rhetorica ad Herennium, Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria and Horace’s Ars Poetica were particularly influential.2 In De Inventione Cicero defines the function of the exordium, using a formula which is echoed in all major rhetorical treatises throughout the Middle Ages: Exordium est oratio animum auditoris idonee comparans ad reliquam dictionem; quod eveniet si eum benivolum, attentum, docilem confecerit.

1

See Tony Hunt, ‘The Rhetorical Background to the Arthurian Prologue: Tradition and the Old French Vernacular Prologue’, FMLS 6 (1970), pp. 1–23, at p. 1. 2 Ibid., p. 2.

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[An exordium is a passage which brings the mind of the auditor into a proper condition to receive the rest of the speech. This will be accomplished if he becomes well-disposed, attentive, and receptive.]3 As Copeland observes, classical literary theory typically addresses translation only as a smaller part of the larger disciplines of grammar and rhetoric.4 Translation was seen as a kind of commentary, with both interlingual and intralingual translation viewed in terms of the broader translatio studii topos, rather than as linguistic translation in the narrower modern sense.5 The increasing need for Greek to be taught as a foreign language in the Roman education system during the second and third centuries meant that basic translation techniques entered the curriculum. However, the emphasis was still on paraphrase, interpretation and linguistic flourish. This is exemplified by Cicero’s influential remarks on translation in De Optimo Genere Oratorum, where he declares that in translating Attic oratory ‘non verbum pro verbo necesse habui redere, sed genus omne verborum vimque servavi’ (I did not hold it necessary to render word for word, but I preserved the general style and force of the language); he translates ‘nec […] ut interpres, sed ut orator’ (not […] as an interpreter, but as an orator).6 This is borne out in Latin prologues dealing with translation, which it would be misleading to see as a separate category of ‘translator’s prologue’. The prologue to a first-century Latin version of Homer’s Iliad, for example, speaks of Homer’s original Greek, Virgil’s imitative Latin Æneid and the ‘Latin Homer’s’ translation as successive commentaries upon or ‘imitations’ of each other, with the language change being almost incidental: Homer wrote two books in Greek, the Odyssey and the Iliad. Virgil imitates both these books of Homer […] [In the Iliad] Virgil imitates Homer in writing about the war between Turnus and Aeneas. But because Virgil did not describe all the action fully, a certain Latin Homer imitates the Greek Homer in that part, and his intention is either to imitate this Greek Homer or to describe the Trojan war.7 Classical theory as mediated through the model of translation formulated in the 3

Cicero, De Inventione, 1.15.20, ed. and trans. by H. M. Hubbell, Cicero: De Inventione, De Optimo Genere Oratorum, Topica, Loeb Classical Library 385 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1949), pp. 40–1. 4 Copeland, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics and Translation, esp. Ch. 1. 5 For a discussion of the term translatio see Margaret Nims, ‘Translatio: “Difficult Statement” in Medieval Poetic Theory’, UTQ 43 (1974), pp. 215–30. Cf. George Steiner, After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation, 3rd edn (Oxford: OUP, 1999), who sees interlingual and intralingual translation as using the same model: ‘Any thorough reading out of the past of one’s own language and literature is a manifold act of interpretation’ (p. 18). 6 De Optimo Genere Oratorum, 5.14, ed. and trans. by Hubbell, pp. 364–5. 7 Trans. in A. J. Minnis and A. B. Scott, Medieval Literary Theory and Criticism c. 1100–1374: The Commentary Tradition, with David Wallace, rev. edn (Oxford: OUP, 1991), pp. 16–17. The Latin poem can be found in Marco Scaffai’s edition, Baebii Italici Ilias Latina (Bologna: Pàtron, 1982); this does not, however, contain the original introduction.

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fourth century by St Jerome, the most influential and commonly cited authority on the subject over the course of the Middle Ages, had nothing to say on the correct way to introduce a translation in a prologue. However, Jerome’s fundamental principle of ‘non uerbum e uerbo, sed sensum exprimere de sensu’ (not word for word, but sense explained by sense) expressed in Epistle 57, which recasts Cicero’s formula to present translation as an elucidating interpretation rather than a straightforward linguistic transfer, was incorporated into medieval translation theory as expressed in medieval prologues, allowing for a conflation of translation and commentary which enabled these later translators to claim an affinity between classical theory and the purpose of their translations as explained in their prologues.8 However, it was in the high Middle Ages that Latin prologues were developed which had a more immediate influence upon vernacular writers. In the twelfth century – particularly the middle third – schoolmen such as Hugh of St Victor, Gilbert de la Porrée, Peter Abelard, Thierry of Chartres and William of Conches became preoccupied with questions of teaching method, using traditional terms and schemata from the classical rhetorical tradition to formulate new methods of examining texts. These prologue-type writings are discussed in detail in Minnis’ Medieval Theory of Authorship, the first major study of the concepts of auctor and auctoritas in relation to the prologue tradition.9 Focusing on the prologues to Latin and English commentaries on Latin auctores, written between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, Minnis demonstrates the importance of the Latin scholastic tradition of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries to later vernacular writers. He builds on an article by R. W. Hunt, which identifies three main types of prologue schema in use in the twelfth century.10 For convenience, these are briefly summarised as follows. The Type A prologue asked seven questions of the text it introduced (who, what, why, in what manner, when, where and by what means). This type had its origins in the rhetorical circumstantiae of the ancient rhetoricians, and in its medieval form is credited to John Scotus Eriugena (c. 810–77). It was sometimes shortened to a threefold scheme (persona, locus and tempus).11 Type B prologues were usually arranged under seven headings: (i) the intention of the writer; (ii) the life of the poet; (iii) the title of the work; (iv) the quality of the poem; (v) the number of books; (vi) the order of the books; and (vii) the explanation. Medieval scholars associated this scheme with the mysterious late antique grammarian ‘Servius’; it 8

Epistle 57, p.  508. Copeland, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics and Translation, summarises the difference between the Hieronymian and Roman theories thus: ‘whereas Roman theory seeks to erase difference (even as it recognises it) by foreclosing the originary claims of the source and substituting Latin for Greek, patristic criticism seeks more to resolve difference by pointing towards a communality of source and target in terms of the immanence of meaning’ (p. 43). For a thorough investigation of Jerome’s theories and their application in the Middle Ages, see Copeland, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics and Translation, pp. 42–55. 9 Minnis, Medieval Theory of Authorship, esp. Ch. 1. 10 R. W. Hunt, ‘The Introductions to the “Artes” in the Twelfth Century’, in Studia Mediaevalia in Honorem Admodum Reverendi Patris Raymundi Josephi Martin (Bruges: De Tempel, 1948), pp. 85–111. 11 Ibid., p. 94.

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may have originated in ancient commentaries on Virgil. The origins of the Type C prologue are obscure. It may have developed from late antique Greek commentaries on philosophical works, but it was mainly disseminated in the Latin west through the writings of Boethius. The distinctive vocabulary of the Type C prologue was regarded as a ‘modern’ critical apparatus, in contrast to the ‘ancient’ schema of the A and B types, and was used at the beginning of commentaries upon textbooks treating all disciplines. Its standard headings emerged as follows: (i) titulus (inscriptio/ nomen) libri, the title of the work; (ii) nomen auctoris, the name of the author (this was sometimes followed by a short vita auctoris); (iii) intentio auctoris, the intention of the author; (iv) materia libri, the subject matter; (v) modus agendi/scribendi/ tractandi, the stylistic and rhetorical techniques used; (vi) ordo libri, the order of the book; (vii) utilitas, the ultimate usefulness of the work; and (viii) cui parti philosophiae supponitur, the branch of learning to which the work belonged.12 In the twelfth century, a distinction was often made between the ars intrinsecus and ars extrinsecus: between the ‘intrinsic prologue’, which introduced a particular text, and the ‘extrinsic prologue’, which introduced the general discipline to which the text belonged. The ultimate source of this distinction seems to be the rhetorical theory in Cicero’s Topica. Hunt suggests that the extrinsic prologue, which he labels Type D, is based on Boethius’ De differentiis topicis, a text reintroduced into the curriculum in the eleventh century.13 It typically arranged its material under ten headings: (i) genus; (ii) quid ipsa ars sit, what the art is in itself; (iii) materia, material; (iv) officium, office; (v) finis, end; (vi) species, its species; (vii) partes, its parts; (viii) instrumentum, its instrument; (ix) artifex, its master or practitioner; and (x) quare rhetorica vocetur, wherefore it is called rhetoric. A change came in the thirteenth century, with new methods of analytical thought derived from readings of Aristotle, in particular the discussion of causality in his Physics and Metaphysics. This resulted in what Minnis terms the ‘Aristotelian prologue’, based on the ‘four causes’ which, according to Aristotle, governed all activity and change in the universe: the efficient cause (interpreted as the auctor, or motivating agent of the text), the material cause (the materials used by the auctor), the formal cause (literary style and structure) and the final cause (the aim of the text).14 The Aristotelian prologue was popular among lecturers in the arts faculty at the University of Paris, and became extremely widespread during the next few hundred years.15 However, the Aristotelian prologue was never completely superseded by the Type C prologue, and both types were used in commentaries on auctores well into the Renaissance. The neatness of the Latin prologue schemes, however, was firmly at odds with the complex linguistic situation that confronted almost any author working in a part 12

Ibid., pp. 94–7. Ibid., pp. 97–8. 14 Minnis, Medieval Theory of Authorship, p. 28. 15 It is explicitly referenced in Osbern Bokenham’s Legendys of Hooly Wummen (c. 1444–47); see Chapter 3 for further discussion. 13

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of medieval Europe where the vernacular and Latin were used side by side. Only in the eleventh and twelfth centuries does it slowly become clear that a conceptual distinction between Latin and Romance had become consolidated throughout the lands of the old Western Roman empire. Roger Wright has argued that a conceptual separation first took place around 800 in the West Frankish kingdom, largely under the influence of the pronunciation reforms of the York-born Alcuin (c. 730–804) as part of the educational reforms instigated by Charlemagne in the late eighth and early ninth centuries.16 As head of Charlemagne’s court school at Aachen, Alcuin was employed to establish standard liturgical texts, which would be both spelled and pronounced in a uniform manner across the Carolingian empire. Following the teaching he received in England, where (as in other non-Romance-speaking areas of Europe) Latin was taught as a foreign language primarily through the medium of reading and writing, Alcuin based his standardisation on the premise that ‘quaeque litterae sonis enuntientur’ (every letter should be pronounced with its own sound).17 Prior to this, these texts would have been read aloud as the spoken Romance vernacular of the area, even though their written form tallied with what we would recognise as Latin. As Wright notes, Alcuin’s standardisations had ‘the immediate effect of making the language, when read or recited, so different from the vernacular that it became unintelligible’.18 These reforms lasted, and would seem to have been the catalyst in the eventual conceptual separation of Latin and Romance, in at least the northern reaches of the Frankish kingdoms; they appear to have been at least partly responsible for the 813 Council of Tours’ stipulation that the homily should be given in an intelligible form of Latin.19 At the Council of Tours, a provincial council recognised officially that the gap between the Latin of the Mass and the common Latin speech in its educated forms had grown so great that the homily should henceforth be delivered in a lower variety of Latin to allow those in the Western Frankish kingdom to have the same access to the preacher’s meaning as those in the eastern, where the homilies were given in the 16

See Roger Wright, A Sociophilological Study of Late Latin (Turnhout: Brepols, 2002), p. 33; also Wright, ed., Latin and the Romance Languages in the Early Middle Ages (London: Routledge, 1991). Wright’s views have not secured general agreement, however. Michel Banniard, Viva voce: communication écrite et communication orale du IVe au IX siècle en occident latin (Paris: Institut des études augustiniennes, 1992), Ch. 6, has argued that as late as the eighth century Latin texts were generally understood by the congregations of Merovingian West Francia when read aloud during the liturgy, even though the ‘Latin’ may have been modified considerably in terms of pronunciation in order to be intelligible to uneducated audiences. 17 Alcuin, ‘Disputatio de rhetorica et de virtutibus sapientissimi regis Karli et albini magistri’, in Rhetores Latini Minores: Ex codicibus maximam partem orimum adhibitis, ed. by K. Halm (Leipzig: Teubner, 1863), pp.  523–50, at p.  546. Alcuin’s treatise on Latin spelling conventions, De Orthographia (c. 799), ed. by Sandra Bruni (Florence: SISMEL, 1997), was based on Bede’s work of the same name. 18 Roger Wright, ‘Speaking, Reading and Writing Late Latin and Early Romance’, Neophilologus 60 (1976), pp. 178–89, at p. 181. 19 Wright, ‘Speaking, Reading and Writing Late Latin’; also Wright, Sociophilological Study, Ch. 9, makes a convincing argument that Alcuin’s reforms caused, not solved, the growing divide between spoken and written forms of Latin, which in turn necessitated the Council’s legislation.

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Germanic vernacular: the preacher ‘aperte transferre studeat in rusticam Romanam linguam aut in Thiotiscam’ (should labour to carry over [his sermons] intelligibly into the ‘rustica Romana lingua’ or Germanic).20 William Rothwell describes this as ‘a linguistic pronouncement of the greatest importance’.21 However, this importance can be – and has been – exaggerated. The word used at Tours for ‘translate’ was ‘transferre’ (to carry over); what it seems to acknowledge is that preaching must be given in a much lower register of what is still termed ‘Latin’ – still, with ‘romana lingua’, the only name for the non-Germanic language being spoken. The main perceived differences in the early Middle Ages rested on a diglossic distinction between ‘grammatica’ and ‘rusticitas’, i.e. between a formalised written Latin (the H, or high, variety) and an oral communication (the L, or low, variety), the common Latin speech.22 In this particular situation of diglossia, it is understood that the discrepancy between the two registers is very marked, the direction of transferral is always H > L, and, as the diglossic condition suggests, the transference takes place for particular purposes connected with literary or social context and authority.23 Transferral gradually turns into translation as the H and L registers become so discrepant that these L registers acquire their own spelling system, acquire their own names and invade one another’s functions. There is evidence of very early Latin > Romance translation activity, such as the ninth-century Sainte Eulalie, or the eleventh-century Vie de Saint Alexis;24 however, the production of Latin > Romance translations which also named themselves as such, which began in the twelfth century, are a crucial indication of an awareness of and an ability to articulate a conceptual distinction between these as separate languages.25 In the first two decades of the thirteenth century, official documents began to be prepared in various Romance-speaking centres of power, which eventually led to local standardisation on a kingdom-wide basis.26 Even after the recognition that Latin and Romance had separated into different languages, however, a continued awareness of their common roots could also allow writers of Romance to share in the prestige associated with Latin by evoking this 20

MGH, Concilium Turonense, a. 813, Conc. 2, 1, cap. 17, p. 288, line 28. For a discussion of the Council’s division of the vernacular into ‘romana lingua’ and ‘thiotisca lingua’, see Chapter 2. 21 William Rothwell, ‘The Role of French in Thirteenth-Century England’, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 58 (1976), pp. 445–66, at p. 445. 22 Charles Ferguson, ‘Diglossia’, Word 15 (1959), pp. 325–40, was the first to coin the term ‘diglossia’ in English and formulate it in terms of social function, naming the two varieties of a language H (high) and L (low). 23 Diglossia is not always mono-directional; in other linguistic contexts, it is possible for the direction of transferral to be both H > L and L > H. 24 For these and other examples of early translation activity, see Karl Bartsch, Chrestomathie de l’ancien Français (VIIe-XVe siècles), accompagnée d’une grammaire et d’un glossaire, 12th edn (Leipzig, 1920, repr. New York: Hafner Publishing Company, 1968), pp. 3–4 (Sainte Eulalie), pp. 17–23 (Saint Alexis). 25 As discussed in Chapter 3, the increasing importance attached to having a name for a language is a significant step in its developing a self-awareness such that it is capable of commenting on itself as a medium for translation. 26 See Wright, Sociophilological Study, Ch. 2, pp. 18–35.

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when it suited them, or by emphasising the idea of linguistic transferral rather than translation. In his well-known description of Romance vernaculars in De Vulgari Eloquentia (c. 1302–05), which identifies French, Provençal and Italian as being the same original language ‘in a tripartite form’ (triphario), Dante suggests that ‘a very weighty argument’ (gravissimum argumentum) can be made for the superiority of Italian over the others, because its poets ‘magis videntur initi gramatice que comunis est’ (seem to be in the closest contact with the grammatica which is shared by all).27 As shall be seen in the discussion which follows, the potential for Latin vocabulary to be lifted into Romance with few lexical or grammatical changes allowed Latin > Romance translators a further strategy by which to suggest a linguistic and intellectual continuity with their source material.

The Beginnings of the French Transl ator’s Prologue

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he earliest writer s using a Romance language to rework the precepts of classical translation theory were those writing in French in England in the twelfth century. Peter Damian-Grint has discussed the way in which Anglo-Norman writers positioned themselves within the learned Latin tradition by appropriating the concept of enarratio (a term from classical rhetoric meaning ‘glossing, interpretation’) into their translations.28 The earliest Anglo-Norman texts were all translations from Latin; at this early stage in the development of Romance literature, the ‘vernacular prologue’ and the ‘translator’s prologue’ were effectively synonymous. By the twelfth century those translating from Latin into Romance would have been unable to do so without formal education in Latin texts, whether in the schools or in monasteries, and would therefore presumably have been writing with awareness of classical rhetorical theory and in the scholastic prologue tradition. However, the Anglo-Norman poets – and vernacular writers from subsequent literary traditions – did not simply copy earlier Latin prologue models. Indeed they could not; the new need to create auctoritas in a language which was not Latin, and a new consciousness of the different languages involved in the translation process, meant that any existing prologue models which might have been used had to be adapted and expanded in order to accommodate these concerns. Whilst both Anglo-Norman, and, later, continental French writers show evidence of having been influenced both by classical theory and the twelfth-century Latin prologue schemes,29 it would seem as though the rapid growth and development of vernacular literature meant that these

27

Dante, De Vulgari Eloquentia, X. Peter Damian-Grint, ‘Translation as Enarratio and Hermeneutic Theory in Twelfth-Century Vernacular Learned Literature’, Neophilologus 83 (1999), pp. 349–67. 29 H. E. Allen, ‘The Manuel des Pechiez and the Scholastic Prologue’, Romanic Review 8 (1917), pp. 434–62, has shown convincingly that Anglo-Norman prologues similar to that of the Manuel des Pechiez were shaped by the Latin scholastic tradition. Hunt, ‘Rhetorical Background’, meanwhile, has argued that Chrétien de Troyes composed his prologues according to the classical precepts of Cicero, Horace and others. 28

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models were often too restrictive. James A. Schultz has argued that the influence of classical theory has been over-estimated, and that ‘the vernacular prologues are ransacked for scraps of evidence that support their dependence on the prescriptive treatises, never for evidence that might place this dependence in question’.30 Whilst it is often difficult to categorise a vernacular prologue as adhering to a particular model unless a specific reference is given, in general it would appear that vernacular writers created their own prologue models which were written in awareness of classical and Hieronymian translation theory, and of the scholastic prologue tradition, without being restricted or excessively shaped by them. Damian-Grint’s comprehensive study of Anglo-Norman historiography provides a detailed survey of the development of the prologue model in this genre, identifying fourteen motifs found in these Anglo-Norman prologues: (i) the purpose of history; (ii) self-naming and self-authorisation; (iii) professional judgement of rival historians; (iv) industria; (v) sources; (vi) assertion of truth; (vii) translation; (viii) dates and synchronisms; (ix) presentation of material; (x) brevitas; (xi) patronage; (xii) nil arte lucrabor (i.e. a request for money); (xiii) blessing or prayer; and (xvi) notice of beginning or ending.31 Although Damian-Grint’s study focuses on historiographers such as Geffrei Gaimar, Wace, Benoît de Sainte-Maure and Jordan Fantosme, many of the motifs he identifies can be found in the prologues to other genres of text written in this period.32 Greatly concerned with establishing auctoritas, one of the central concerns of these prologues was how to acknowledge, and align themselves with, a Latin source, while recognising that a linguistic transfer – translation – had taken place.

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he point at which vernacular translation began to be described ­explicitly as such may be traced by an examination of the prologues of three of the earliest Anglo-Norman texts: those of Benedeit’s Voyage of St Brendan, Philippe de Thaon’s Bestiary and Geffrei Gaimar’s Estoire des Engleis. One of the earliest records of the

30

James A. Schultz, ‘Classical Rhetoric, Medieval Poetics, and the Medieval Vernacular Prologue’, Speculum 59 (1984), pp. 1–15, at p. 1. 31 Peter Damian-Grint, The New Historians of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance: Inventing Vernacular Authority (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1999), esp. pp. 87–142, which provides a detailed discussion of this prologue model. 32 As yet there is no comprehensive survey of French prologues, although the French of England Translation Series’ forthcoming prologue anthology will hopefully fill this lacuna, at least in terms of insular French studies: Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, Thelma Fenster, Delbert W. Russell and others, eds, Vernacular Literary Theory from the French of Medieval England: Texts and Translations, c. 1120–c. 1450 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2016). There are also a number of studies on prologues from particular genres: for saints’ lives, see Paul John Jones, Prologue and Epilogue in Old French Lives of Saints before 1400 (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1933); for mystery plays, see D. H. Carnahan, The Prologue in the Old French and Provençal Mystery (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1905); for Arthurian romances, see Hunt, ‘Rhetorical Background’; ‘Chrétien’s Prologues Reconsidered’, in Conjunctures: Medieval Studies in Honor of Douglas Kelly, ed. by Keith Busby and Norris J. Lacy (Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 1994), pp. 153–68; for Marie de France’s Lais, see e.g. Leo Spitzer, ‘The Prologue to the Lais of Marie de France and Medieval Poetics’, Modern Philology 41 (1943), pp. 96–102; Kristine Brightenback, ‘Remarks on the “Prologue” to Marie de France’s Lais’, Romance Philology 43 (1989), pp. 197–208.

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word ‘romanz’ in French – the separate name is a guarantee that it is now regarded as a separate tongue from Latin – is found in the Voyage of St Brendan, possibly the earliest extant Anglo-Norman text, which is derived from the Anglo-Latin Nauigatio Sancti Brendani.33 Written for Henry I’s queen, Adeliza, it can be dated to around 1121 (although M. T. Clanchy has suggested a date as early as 1106).34 In the prologue, Benedeit describes how he has been commissioned to write down the story: Que comandas ço ad enpris Secund sun sens e entremis, En letre mis e en romanz, E si cum fud li teons cumanz, De saint Brendan le bon abéth.35 [To the best of his ability he has embarked upon the task which you set, and undertaken to put down in writing, in French, as you told him, the story of the good abbot Saint Brendan.] The more specific and ethnicised term ‘franceis’, often used as a synonym for ‘romanz’ in francophone literature, took a century or more to gain acceptance.36 One of these early usages of ‘franceis’ is in Philippe de Thaon’s Bestiary (c. 1121–35), also produced for Queen Adeliza. This text is based primarily on a Latin version of the Greek Physiologus, together with other Latin sources. Philippe’s prologue begins thus: Philippe de Taun en Franceise raisun Ad estrait Bestiaire, un livere de gramaire.37 [Philippe de Thaon has drawn a Bestiary into the French language, a school text.] The exact meaning of ‘raisun’ in this context is debatable. The AND offers a wide spectrum of definitions including ‘reason’, ‘sense’, ‘proverb’, ‘word’, ‘language’, ‘speech’ and ‘written work’.38 At various points throughout the text Philippe contrasts ‘Franceise raisun’ with ‘latine raisun’ (e.g. line 991) and ‘latine sermun’ (e.g. line 1147); ‘sermun’ can also mean ‘language or speech’, but with the added, weightier 33

AND, s.v. ‘romanz’ (n.); Tobler-Lommatzsch, s.v. ‘romanz’ (n.). For further discussion of this text and its source, see D. R. Howlett, The English Origins of Old French Literature (Dublin: Four Courts, 1996), pp. 105–7. 34 M. T. Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record: England 1066–1307, 2nd edn (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1993), p. 216. 35 Benedeit, The Anglo-Norman Voyage of St Brendan, ed. by Ian Short and Brian Merrilees (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1977), lines 9–13. All references are to this edition. 36 Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record, p. 217. See also Tobler-Lommatzsch, s.v. ‘françois’ (adj.), columns 2210–11. 37 Philippe de Thaon, Bestiary, ed. by Thomas Wright, The Bestiary of Philippe de Thaon, in Popular Treatises on Science Written During the Middle Ages: in Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman, and English (London: The Historical Society of Science, 1841), lines 1–2. 38 AND, s.v. ‘raisun’ (n.).

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connotations of ‘sermon’.39 It is unclear, therefore, whether Philippe is emphasising the spoken or written aspect of French, and it seems safest to read ‘raisun’ as the allencompassing ‘language’. ‘Estrait’ and ‘gramaire’ are both worth closer investigation in terms of Philippe’s concept of the transfer of his bestiary from Latin into French. The AND defines ‘estraire’ as ‘to pull out’, ‘to derive’, ‘to create’, ‘to produce’ and ‘to compose’; none of these implies that Philippe saw his work as a straightforward linguistic translation.40 Again, the question of translating material from an individual source text seems to have been less important than the transfer of a Latin literary genre into French; the bestiary is at once a translatio dependent upon the Latin tradition and an ‘original’ French composition drawn from various sources. A ‘livre de gramaire’ is a school text, an appropriate description for the Physiologus, which was in widespread school use throughout Europe.41 ‘Gramaire’ is defined in the AND as ‘grammar (i.e. an element of the trivium)’ and ‘authoritative writing’,42 suggesting a meaning close to the Latin ‘grammatica’, i.e. ‘writing’; Philippe’s ‘Franceise raisun’ may become ‘gramaire’ due to its roots in the Latin school text tradition, but through being written French it has also become French ‘gramaire’, allowing this new version to participate in Latinate school culture by proxy. It thus forms part of a larger act of Latin > French translatio studii, elevating the ‘rusticitas’ of Romance to a ‘grammatica’ in its own right.43 Both Benedeit’s Brendan and Philippe’s Bestiary could perhaps be considered proto-translators’ prologues; less concerned with a methodology of linguistic translation, their authors used them as a platform for discussing the larger translatio of the dominant Latin literary tradition into a medium suitable for francophone audiences. The first significant French translator’s ‘prologue’, 96 lines in length and actually an epilogue, appears in Geffrei Gaimar’s Estoire des Engleis, composed c. 1135–40.44 This is the oldest extant example of French historiography, predating Wace’s Brut by around twenty years and Jordan Fantosme’s Chronicle by some thirty-five. The epilogue begins thus:

39

AND, s.v. ‘sermun’ (n.). AND, s.v. ‘estraire1’ (v.a.). 41 Trésor de la Langue Française, s.v. ‘grammaire’ (n.), Étymol. et Hist. 1ines 1121–34, offers the definition ‘livre destiné à l’enseignement scolaire’. For the history of the Physiologus as a school text, see Willene B. Clark, A Medieval Book of Beasts: The Second-Family Bestiary (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2006), p. 9. 42 AND, s.v. ‘gramaire’ (n.). 43 For a discussion of translatio studii within a French context, see Douglas Kelly, ‘Translatio studii: Translation, Adaptation, and Allegory in Medieval French Literature’, Philological Quarterly 57 (1978), pp. 287–310. 44 The longer version of this epilogue is only found in one of the four extant manuscripts, London, British Library, MS Royal 13 A. XXI. However, its authenticity is ably demonstrated by Alexander Bell in his edition, L’Estoire des Engleis, ANTS 14–16 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1960). All line references are to Ian Short’s edition, Estoire des Engleis = History of the English (Oxford: OUP, 2009). 40

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Ceste estorie fist translater Dame Custance la gentil. Gaimar i mist marz e averil e tuz les dusze mais ainz k’il oust translaté des reis. Il purchaça maint esamplaire, liveres engleis e par gramaire45 e en romanz e en latin, ainz k’en pust traire a la fin. [The noble lady Constance had this history translated. Gaimar took March and April and a whole twelve months before finishing the translation of [the history of] the kings [of Britain]. He obtained a large number of copies of books – English books, by dint of learned reading, and [books] in the French vernacular and in Latin – before he was able to bring his work to a conclusion.]46 Gaimar’s epilogue is a passage of remarkable literary self-consciousness, and contains many of the motifs which subsequently became standard in vernacular translators’ prologues. It uses well-established rhetorical topoi from the Latin tradition, such as commendation ab iudicum persona and causa scribendi, the naming of the author, and the citing of authoritative sources – but, crucially, these are deployed within the new context of vernacular translation.47 Whilst there can be no way of knowing whether Gaimar was being truly innovative or whether he based his epilogue on a French model which has not survived (his jocular references to the rival poet ‘David’ in lines 6482–92 suggest the existence of an earlier still French-language history, now lost), its apparently pioneering nature and the level of methodological detail it provides make this an important text in the emerging French prologue tradition. Gaimar’s detailed discussion of his source texts is the most translation-conscious part of the epilogue. Although he does not specify which ‘liveres […] en romanz’ he used, he cites three books in English and Latin – ‘le livere Walter Espac’, translated ‘solum les liveres as Walais’ (presumably Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae), ‘le bon livere de Oxeford | ki fust Walter l’arcediaen’ (perhaps another version of the Historia containing supplementary material) and ‘l’estorie de Wincestre […] de Wassingburc un livere engleis’ (a version of the Anglo-Saxon 45

The question of what is being learned ‘par gramaire’ here (which Short translates as ‘by dint of learned reading’) is ambiguous; the grammatical structure of the line, with ‘e par gramaire’ forming its own sub-clause, means that the phrase could just as equally apply to the French and Latin books as to the English. It may well be possible that Gaimar was a native English speaker; this would be consistent with his knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 46 Gaimar, Estoire des Engleis, lines 6430–8. Translation taken mainly from Short, with some changes. 47 For a thorough study of this epilogue, see Ian Short, ‘Gaimar’s Epilogue and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Liber vetustissimus’, Speculum 69 (1994), pp. 323–43. The stock rhetorical motifs are discussed at pp. 324–6.

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Chronicle apparently kept in Washingborough).48 The word he uses to describe the transmission of all these is ‘translater’ – the earliest recorded use of the word in a vernacular text.49 The use of ‘translater’ in itself is not sufficient to indicate that linguistic translation is implied; speaking of twelfth-century texts, Damian-Grint correctly observes that ‘translater’ used by itself meant ‘to interpret’, while an additional verb was used when the writer wanted to draw attention to language shift: ‘metre en romanz’ or ‘faire romanz’ when a close, more static translation was made, or ‘traire’ (or ‘estraire’) or ‘tourner’ (or ‘trestourner’) when a more dynamic, freer act of translation was taking place.50 However, Gaimar’s preoccupation with naming the source languages – ‘liveres engleis’, ‘en romanz e en latin’, even the Latin translation ‘solum les liveres as Walais’ – suggests that linguistic translation was at the forefront of his mind. Whilst it would be a mistake to suggest that Gaimar’s text was particularly influential in itself (it would appear to have been largely eclipsed after 1155 by Wace’s popular Roman de Brut), it was at the vanguard of a whole host of other French-language translations from Latin, where translators experimented with what this new literary vernacular could do. Its epilogue prefigures subsequent French translators’ prologues, where issues and challenges related to writing ‘en romanz’ were worked out.

The ‘Precocit y ’ of Anglo-Norman and English > French Transl ation

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chol ar s have long commented on the ‘precocity’ of the Anglo-Norman poets, who were arguably the first European writers, other than the AngloSaxons themselves, to create a sustained, confident literary tradition in a language other than Latin.51 In recent years there has been an increasing reassessment of the relationship between existing English literary traditions and the French language after the Normans came to power. In particular, the existence of a flourishing native literary tradition outside of Latin would seem to have been instrumental in encouraging a similar body of vernacular writing in French.52 Moreover, as Ian Short has 48

See Bell, L’Estoire des Engleis, pp. liii, lv, and Short, ‘Gaimar’s Epilogue’, pp. 327–9, for differing opinions as to the number of books cited by Gaimar. 49 The AND’s earliest recorded instance of the word to mean linguistic translation is in La Estoire de seint Aedward Le Rei (c. 1245): s.v. ‘translater’ (v.). However, Gaimar is referenced in ToblerLommatzsch, s.v. ‘translater’ (v.), column 530. 50 Damian-Grint, New Historians, pp. 30–1. 51 On the ‘precocity’ of Anglo-Norman, see e.g. Dominica M. Legge, ‘La précocité de la littérature anglo-normande’, Cahiers de civilisation médiévale 8 (1965), pp. 327–49. 52 As Ian Short has remarked, ‘The widespread and innovative use of Insular French in the twelfth century was as much a function […] of England’s specifically multi-cultural environment as it was of any particular lack or low level of Latin literacy among the clergy’. Short, ‘Patrons and Polyglots: French Literature in Twelfth-Century England’, in Anglo-Norman Studies XIV: Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 1991, ed. by Marjorie Chibnall (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1994), pp.  229–49, at p. 244. For a revisiting of Short’s article, see Elizabeth M. Tyler, ‘From Old English to Old French’, in Wogan-Browne, The French of England, pp. 164–78.

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recognised, and the extensive evidence provided by David Howlett has helped to establish, the earliest texts in almost all Anglo-Norman genres, from historiography to hagiography, were based on, or translated from, Anglo-Latin or – in some cases – Old English sources. In turn, these insular French texts pre-dated, in almost all genres, the establishment of a similar literary tradition in continental France; this led Howlett to his convincing conclusion that the Anglo-Norman corpus is ‘the true matrix of Old French literature’.53 Although there is a limited amount of evidence for English > French translation at this time, it would seem that at least some translations were made from English into French during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; a substantial proportion of this evidence can be found in prologues and epilogues where English sources are referenced. These are less frequently studied, but can provide valuable insight into the relationship between French and English during this transitional period. As noted above, Gaimar’s epilogue cites more than one English book, including what appears to be a copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. In the late thirteenth century, the AngloNorman Geste de Blancheflour e de Florence claims to have been translated from English by a poet named Brykhulle: ‘Banastre en englois le fist, | E Brykhulle cest escrit, | En franceois translata’ (Banastre made it in English, and Brykhulle translated this writing into French).54 A more expansive example can be found in Marie de France’s epilogue to her Fables, where she declares that she has undertaken to ‘de l’engleis en romanz treire’, and claims (almost certainly spuriously) that her English source has been translated from Latin, out of the original Greek, by none other than Ælfred (‘Li reis Alfrez’) himself.55 Descriptions of the passing of a text through various translations, gathering up new layers of meaning, snowball-like, with each translation, are common to the Anglo-Norman tradition. Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Roman de Troie (c. 1155–60), for example, contains a prologue describing Dares’ initial writing of the Trojan story in some detail.56 In such descriptions of translatio studii, the earliest language listed is typically the most highly regarded; this would place Ælfred’s English text above Marie’s French translation in terms of prestige, particularly as the royal nature of the English writer is stressed. This is the reverse of the pattern found in many later English translations of French texts, which typically acknowledge the superiority of the French source, and would suggest that Marie, at least, had a favourable view of English-language texts. Perhaps the most remarkable description of English > French translation in the post-Conquest period can be found in the prologue to the Anglo-Norman ancestral 53

Howlett, English Origins, p. 164. Geste de Blancheflour e de Florence, in Les débats du clerc et du chevalier dans la littérature poétique du moyen-age, ed. by Charles Oulmont (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1911), pp. 167–83, lines 427–30. 55 Marie de France, ‘Epilogue’, Fables, ed. and trans. by Harriet Spiegel (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987), lines 9–19. 56 Benoît de Sainte-Maure, Le Roman de Troie par Benoit de Sainte-Maure, publié d’après tous les manuscrits connus, 3 vols, ed. by Léopold Constans (Paris: Société des Anciens Textes Français, 1922), vol. 1, lines 1–144. This passage is quoted in Chapter 3. 54

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romance Waldef (1200–10), which has survived in a single thirteenth-century manuscript.57 Its prologue claims that a large number of English estoires58 were translated into French by the Normans, including the present text: Ceste estoire est mult amee E des Englés mult recordee, Des princes, des ducs e des reis; Mult iert amee des Engleis, Des petites genz e des granz, Desqu’a la prise des Normanz. Quant li Norman la terre pristrent Les granz estoires puis remistrent Qui des Engleis estoient fetes, Qui des aucuns ierent treites, Pur la gent qui dunc diverserunt E les langages si changerunt. Puis i ad asez translatees, Qui mult sunt de plusurs amees, Com est le Bruit, com est Tristram [...] Com est Aelof, li bons rois [...] Ces gestes, qu’erent en engleis, Translatees sunt en franceis [...] Ceste estoire vus vuel mustrer, Del riche roi Waldef, le fier [...] L’estoire englesche regardai, En franceis la translatai.59 [This estoire [I wish to relate] is much loved and much remembered by the English, their princes, dukes and kings; it was much loved by the English, humble and great, until the Norman Conquest. When the Normans seized 57

Geneva, Fondation Martin Bodmer, MS 168. There is also a fifteenth-century Latin prose translation of Waldef by Johannis Bramis, a monk of Thetford, which claims to be derived from both French and English sources. For further discussion, see Rosalind Field, ‘Waldef and the matter of/ with England’, in Medieval Insular Romance: Translation and Innovation, ed. by Judith Weiss, Jennifer Fellows and Morgan Dickson (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2000), pp. 25–39, esp. p. 26. 58 Estoire is the term used by Field in her translation of the Waldef prologue; she suggests that ‘estoire is deliberately used [by the Waldef poet] to associate the narrative with the work of Wace and other historians as distinct from romance, or fictional gestes’. Field, ‘Waldef and the matter of/with England’, p. 33. 59 Waldef, ed. by A. J. Holden, Le Roman de Waldef (Geneva: Fondation Martin Bodmer, 1984), lines 33–47, 49, 53–4, 63–4, 85–6.

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the land, the great estoires that the English had made were displaced in favour of others because of the different population and linguistic change. Since then, much has been translated and greatly loved by many, such as the ‘Brut’, such as Tristan [...] such as Aelof, the good king [...] I wish to tell you the estoire of the great king Waldef, the mighty [...] I looked at the English estoire and translated it into French.]60 Waldef has been paid little attention by critics, but its prologue, with its apparent description of a large-scale act of English > French translation in post-Conquest England, is surely of great interest to the study of translation, in both directions, between English and French. It is an invaluable record of relations between English and French narratives, or at least of one poet’s perception of these, in the years following the Conquest, and suggests a link between older English traditions and the development of Anglo-Norman romance for which there is little other direct evidence.61 It seems clear that the estoires to which the Waldef poet alludes are in English; he does not specify the language of the ‘englesche’ texts (although this spelling itself suggests English-language influence), and could be speaking of Latin texts produced in England, but this seems unlikely given the context. The type of estoires which could be enjoyed by both ‘Des petites genz e des granz’ would surely be vernacular, and ‘les langages si changerunt’ undoubtedly alludes to a change from English to French. Assuming English > French translation is indeed being described, it is instructive to observe the steps taken to paint the new French version of the story of Waldef in favourable terms. The English estoires are treated with the deference generally granted to older sources, as ‘granz estoires’ which were ‘mult amee’. Moreover, there seems to be an element of sympathy for the displaced native English tradition in the poet’s choice of the rather violent ‘pristrent’ (seized) in ‘li Norman la terre pristrent’, although the resulting changes in population and language are described in neutral terms. Yet the poet obviously regards himself as English, too; his task, therefore, is to assimilate the pre-Conquest English estoires with the newer French-language versions. This, of course, is a task common to all Anglo-Norman historiographers telling the story of England and the English; however, the Waldef poet’s extensive acknowledgement of the earlier English tradition makes this more difficult than usual. His solution is to portray the narrative itself, rather than the language in which it is couched, as important; if Anglo-Norman had displaced English as the most suitable language for the transmission of such stories, such translations were, the poet implies, to be welcomed. As Field suggests, their survival ‘could be achieved not by reviving the status of English, but by rescuing the material by translation into the

60 61

Trans. in Field, ‘Waldef and the matter of/with England’, p. 33, with some changes. Field describes the poem as ‘something of a black hole in Insular narrative – so long ignored as to be virtually invisible, its existence explains the movements around it’ (‘Waldef and the matter of/with England’, p. 39).

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higher-status vernacular’.62 As can be seen throughout this study, the presentation of a source text as illustrious but (due to political and linguistic change) outdated is an extremely common device used by translators. Its appearance here provides an invaluable insight into the way in which Anglo-Norman writers could appropriate older English traditions while treating them with apparent deference. In contrast to the Latin > French translations discussed above, these English > French translations cannot present themselves as other than linguistic translations. These early encounters between a Romance and a Germanic language, witnessed by this small but extremely suggestive group of translators’ prologues and epilogues, would seem to have sharpened still further the translation-awareness of French as a literary language.

From Vulgar Tongue to Prestige Vernacul ar

I

f prologues treating English > French translation could appropriate their sources by dismissing the language in which these were couched as outdated now that ‘la gent [...] dunc diverserunt | E les langages [...] changerunt’, French’s lineage as a Romance language meant that the same rationale could not so easily be used for Latin > French translation. However, Latin was often displaced using similar, if more subtle, arguments of intelligibility. The translation of the prestige language of Latin into the fledgling literary languages of Romance meant that the majority of translators were at pains to justify their use of the vernacular once it could no longer be ignored that linguistic translation was taking place. The author of Partonopeu de Blois (c. 1170) offers one of the best-known complaints concerning the poor reputation which French-language histories were said to have enjoyed: Cil clerc dient que n’est pas sens Qu’es[c]rive estoire d’antif tens Quant jo nes escris en latin Et que je perç mon tans en fin.63 [The clerics say that it is complete madness [for me] to write the history of ancient times if I don’t write it in Latin, and that I am completely wasting my time.]64

Many French translators’ prologues of both insular and continental origin begin by apologising for the rough, imprecise nature of the vernacular in comparison with their source language, a variant of the familiar modesty topos whereby Latin authors apologise for the rusticitas of their writing, but one which perhaps reflected a more genuine anxiety in earlier French texts regarding their use of the vernacular. 62

Ibid., p. 32. Partonopeu de Blois, ed. by Olivier Collet and Pierre-Marie Joris, Le Roman de Partonopeu de Blois (Paris: Le Livre de Poche, 2005), lines 77–80. 64 Trans. in Damian-Grint, New Historians, p. 16. 63

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However, in many prologues, this apparent shortcoming is transformed into a virtue; although a less worthy language, it is more universally understood (what DamianGrint names the ‘translation for the unlettered’ motif).65 In the prologue to his Vie de saint Nicolas (c. 1150–55), for example, Wace declares that he is writing in French so that his lay audience may understand him: En romanz voil dire un petit de ceo que nus le latin dit, que li lai le puissent aprendre, qui ne poënt latin entendre.66 [I want to say in the vernacular a little of what the Latin tells us, so that lay folk (who cannot understand Latin) can learn of it.]67 This motif was particularly pertinent in religious works, being validated by the injunctions of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, which called for greater lay instruction in the vernacular.68 However, the rapid growth of both religious and secular French-language literature meant that such expressions of anxiety became increasingly less genuine – and often, simultaneously, more elaborate. The increasing confidence in the capabilities of French allowed for a more nuanced appreciation of the differences between French and Latin as literary media in translators’ prologues. Once the act of translating into French was no longer an issue necessitating debate, the qualities which differentiated French from Latin could be discussed in further detail.69 French was generally acknowledged to be less concise and more lexically impoverished;70 however, its great advantage was its comprehensibility. A striking description of anxieties surrounding Latin > French translation can be found in a later text from continental France, the fourteenth-century Metz Psalter: Quar pour tant que laingue romance et especiaulment de Lorenne est imperfaite, et plus asseiz que nulle aultre entre les langaiges perfaiz, il n’est nulz, tant soit boin clerc ne bien parlans romans, qui lou latin puisse translateir en romans quant a plusour mos dou latin; mais couvient que, per corruption et per diseite des mos françois, que en disse lou romans selonc lou latin, si com: iniquitas ‘iniquiteit’, redemptio ‘redemption’, misericordia ‘misericorde’; et ainsi

65

Damian-Grint, New Historians, p. 16. Wace, Vie de saint Nicolas, ed. by Einar Ronsjö, Vie de saint Nicolas: poème religieux du XIIe siècle (Lund: C. W. K. Gleerup. 1942), lines 41–44. 67 Trans. in Damian-Grint, New Historians, p. 17. 68 See Chapter 6 for the translation of these religious works into English, where many of the same arguments are made concerning audience. 69 As Chapter 2 will show, an awareness of positive differences between Latin and the vernacular is something which was able to develop far earlier in the Germanic tradition. 70 See Serge Lusignan, Parler vulgairement: les intellectuels et la langue française aux XIIIe at XIVe siècles (Paris: Vrin; Montréal: Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1986), p. 132. 66

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de mains et plusours aultres telz mos, que il couvient ainsi dire en romans comme on dit en latin.71 [Since the vernacular language, and especially the dialect of Lorraine, is imperfect, and even more so since there are no perfect languages, there is no one, not even a good cleric who speaks the vernacular well, who could translate certain words from Latin into the vernacular; but it is necessary, because of the degeneracy and lack of words in French, that the vernacular follow the Latin, such as: iniquitas ‘iniquity’, redemptio ‘redemption’, misericordia ‘misericordia’; and there are many more such words where it is necessary to say them in the vernacular as they are said in Latin.] This is also a far more extravagant apology for the inferior nature of French than, for instance, that of the much earlier Partonopeu de Blois, where nothing further is said concerning that language other than the folly of its use in the first place. The Metz Psalter’s insistence on the ‘corruption et [...] diseite des mos François’, by contrast, sounds rather like Chaucer’s similarly elaborate apologies for the lack of satisfactory rhyming words in English and its subsequent ‘skarsete’ as a medium for poetry, relative to French, in his Envoy to The Complaint of Venus, where he laments that to me it ys a gret penaunce Syth rym in Englissh hath such skarsete, To folowe word by word the curiosite Of Graunson, flour of hem that make in Fraunce.72 The later date of the Metz Psalter, composed when French was much more firmly established as the premium literary vernacular in Europe, is almost certainly a factor in this. As shall be seen in the later discussion of Middle English prologues, only once users of a language have gained confidence in it as a medium for translation can they afford to question it in this manner. In the Psalter’s apparent denigration of French it also seems possible to discern a suggestion that the ‘diseite des mos François’ is a relatively easy problem to solve. The shared Romance roots of Latin and French can be used to the latter’s advantage; given the near-identical nature to their Latin originals of ‘iniquiteit’, ‘redempcion’ and ‘misericorde’ (all of which are recorded by the AND as appearing in French texts before the end of the twelfth century, so are presumably not genuinely believed to be coinings by the Psalter’s translator),73 the Psalter prologue demonstrates how the ‘corruption’ of French can be remedied in a fairly straightforward manner by augmenting and ennobling the language with Latin vocabulary, with minimal ortho 71

Metz Psalter, ed. by François Bonnardot, Le Psautier de Metz: texte du XIV siècle: édition critique publiée d’après quatre manuscrits (Paris: F. Vieweg, 1884), p. 2. For further examples of prologues which describe the lifting of Latin words, see Lusignan, Parler vulgairement, pp. 151–3. 72 Chaucer, The Complaint of Venus, lines 79–82, in The Riverside Chaucer, gen. ed. by Larry D. Benson 3rd edn (Oxford: OUP, 1987). All references to works by Chaucer are to this edition. 73 AND, s.vv. ‘iniquité’, ‘redempcion’, ‘misericorde’.

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graphic changes needed to ‘dire en romans comme on dit en latin’. In the same way in which Dante was able to make a case for Italian’s claim to the title of ‘vulgare illustre’ based on its similarity to Latin, here the translator of the Psalter is able to suggest a linguistic continuity between his source text and French, even as he complains of the latter’s shortcomings.74 As will be seen later in this book, the question of lifting words from the source language to enrich the ‘skarsete’ of the target language, and what this might mean about the relationship between the two languages, are tasks with which those translating English into French would later contend.75 The acceptance of French as an important literary language in France would seem to have begun with its fortunes in post-Conquest England, the confidence of the Anglo-Norman tradition playing a large part in the early establishment of French as a literary vernacular capable of producing a work such as the Roman de la Rose.76 The large numbers of translations made into French of Latin auctores during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries allowed French to assume an increasing number of the functions of Latin in terms of being recognised as a language of intellectual enquiry.77 In the 1370s, Nicole Oresme was able to argue that French had become as capable of expressing current thought as Latin had been to the Romans, writing in a general prologue to his translations that ‘grec estoit en resgart de latin quant as Romains si comme est maintenant latin en regard de françois quant a nous’.78 This effective claiming of equality between the two languages is a measure of how far things had come.

T

he picture that emerges from this rapid survey is enough to reveal some of what is exceptional and potent in the English situation of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Anglo-Norman literature appears remarkably precocious in comparison with continental French, a development which can probably be attributed to the complex linguistic situation of post-Conquest England, where the linguistic autonomy of French could be clearly perceived in relation to English, a distinction underwritten by complex and shifting relations of power; in France, by

74

For further examples of French prologues which describe the lifting of Latin words, see Lusignan, Parler vulgairement, pp. 151–3. 75 See, for instance, the large number of French words lifted into English, and described as such, by Robert Mannyng in Handlyng Synne, discussed in Chapter 2. 76 Pierre-Yves Badel has suggested the large part that the Roman de la Rose played in the perception of French as a privileged vernacular across much of medieval Europe. Badel, Le Roman de la rose au XIVe siècle: étude de la réception de l’oevre (Geneva: Droz, 1980). Several studies of auctoritas in vernacular writing take the Rose as a starting point, e.g. David F. Hult, Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Readership and Authority in the First Roman de la Rose (Cambridge: CUP, 1986); Minnis, Magister Amoris: The Roman de la Rose. 77 For an excellent study of this see Lusignan, Parler vulgairement, esp. Ch. 4, pp. 129–71; for a useful list of many of these translations, see Robert H. Lucas, ‘Mediaeval French Translations of the Latin Classics to 1500’, Speculum 45 (1970), pp. 225–53. 78 Nicole Oresme, Excusacion et commendacion de ceste œuvre, in A. D. Menut, ed., Le Livre de Ethiques d’Aristotle (New York, NY: Stechert, 1940), p. 101. For further discussion of this text, see Lusignan, Parler vulgairement, pp. 154–66.

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contrast, the vernacular could still be regarded as a rustic child of a sophisticated Latin parent, and would not develop an adult identity until much later. One must look to other areas of Germanic speech under strong French linguistic influence – as I shall do in Chapter 8 with my discussion of French > Dutch translation in the Low Countries – to find a situation of comparable complexity. When English writers began to translate into the Middle English vernacular, a tradition already existed, and one of which they were well aware, that could enhance their articulacy about the work in which they were engaged. Far more often than has generally been realised, that articulacy found expression in a translator’s prologue.

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chapter 2

The Translator’s Prologue: The Germanic and Anglo-Saxon Background

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ome time towards the end of the tenth century, the Winchester-trained scholar and future abbot of Eynsham, Ælfric, completed his translation of Genesis. One of the topics discussed in his preface to this, which takes the form of a letter to his patron Æðelwærd, is the way in which he has translated Latin words and phrases into English. Of the scripture’s title, he declares: Seo boc ys gehaten Genesis, þæt ys ‘gecyndboc’ for þam þe heo ys firmest boca and spricþ be ælcum gecinde.1 [The book is called Genesis, that is, ‘book of origin’, because it is the first book and speaks of every origin.] Although this may not be the first use of ‘gecyndboc’ in English – it is also offered three times as a gloss for ‘geneseos’ in manuscripts of Adhelm’s De virginitate III2 – Ælfric presents it here as a word which might be expected to be unfamiliar to his audience, or at least to merit an explanation, and the etymological explanation he provides is telling both of his attitude towards English and the way in which it relates to Latin.3 Firstly, his dissection of the word suggests that English is a language established enough, and robust enough, to withstand the type of etymological scrutiny more commonly given to Latin, and contains sufficiently ample resources to create a new compound word out of existing vocabulary which is capable of conveying the title of a sacred work of scripture.4 Secondly, Latin is presented as an uncompromisingly foreign language in relation to English. There is no attempt, as we saw in some

1

Ælfric, Preface to Genesis, ed. by S. J. Crawford, The Old English Version of the Heptateuch: Aelfric’s Treatise on the Old and New Testament and his Preface to Genesis..., EETS O.S. 160 (London: OUP, 1922, repr. 1969), p. 79. All references are to this edition. 2 On these glosses, their dating and their manuscript context, see Adhelm, Aldhelmi Malmesbriensis Prosa de virginitate cum glosa Latina atque  Anglosaxonica, CCSL 124–124A, 2 vols, ed. by Scott Gwara (Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), vol. I, pp. 74–308. 3 Dictionary of Old English, s.v. ‘gecyndboc’ (n.). Getz and Pelle,(eds), The Dictionary of Old English, available online at [accessed 15 February 2016] 4 Isidore’s Etymologies, which would appear to have been one of Ælfric’s influences when composing this preface, contains a very similar etymological explanation of ‘Genesis’, commenting that ‘Genesis liber inde appellatur, eo quod exordium mundi et generatio saeculi in eo contineatur’ (The book of Genesis is so-called because the beginning of the world and the begetting of race are contained within it). Isidore of Seville, Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, trans. by Stephen A. Barney and others (Cambridge: CUP, 2006), VI.ii.3. For a convincing recent analysis of Isidore’s influences on Ælfric, and an extensive discussion of his translation of ‘gecyndboc’, see Brandon W. Hawk, ‘Isidorian Influences in Ælfric’s Preface to Genesis’, English Studies 95 (2014), pp. 357–66, esp. pp. 358–9.

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of the French texts in Chapter 1, to offer an Anglicised version of the Latin word.5 Rather, an English calque is offered, which, Ælfric tells us with the mathematical precision of an equation, ys Genesis (‘Genesis [...] ys “gecyndboc”’). In Germanic-speaking areas, Latin had always operated as a conceptually distinct foreign language, and was necessarily learned as such. The undeniable need for linguistic translation rather than transferral generated a greater translation-awareness in Germanic writers wishing to make Latin learning available in their own languages, and necessitated a more rigorous approach to the task than anything seen in contemporary Romance-speaking Europe. The 813 Council of Tours itself acknowledged a divide between Romance and Germanic languages in its stipulation that the homily should be given in either ‘romana lingua’ or ‘thiotisca lingua’. Nearly thirty years later, the Strasbourg Oaths of 842, sworn (as recorded by the historian Nithard) both in ‘alter teudisca, alter romana lingua’ to symbolise the allegiance of the kings of the West Franks and the East Franks, Charlemagne’s grandsons Charles the Bald and Louis the German, reflect the same fundamental divide.6 The two language families took what was essentially an opposite approach to translation from Latin; where Latin > Romance translators could elevate their mother tongues by emphasising the similarity of these to Latin, such a strategy was not possible for Latin > Germanic translators, who often sought the same ends by pointing to their differences from Latin, or at least to their distinctive features as literary languages in their own right. This led to a bolder, less ancillary approach to translation throughout the Germanic tradition. In order to more fully understand developments in the relationship between the Germanic language English and the Romance languages Latin and French, it is first necessary to explore the Germanic and Anglo-Saxon prologue traditions which preceded this book’s core corpus of Middle English prologues. The prologue written by ninth-century monk Otfrid von Weissenburg to his Evangelienbuch, which insists upon the importance of writing in German despite the language’s current failure to be ‘mit régulu bituúngan’ (tamed by the rules), anticipates arguments made in Ælfred of Wessex’s slightly later preface to his translation of Gregory’s Cura Pastoralis, arguably the first translator’s prologue in English. Moving forwards through the Anglo-Saxon period and beyond, the translation strategies used by Ælfred, Ælfric and early post-Conquest translators such as Orm, who wrestled with the question of how to render English capable of conveying the subtleties of Latin, provide a wider intellectual context in which to view the work of later French > English translators 5

To take an equivalent example from one of the earliest Latin > French translators discussed in Chapter 1, Philippe de Thaon’s Comput (c. 1119) embeds the word ‘Genesis’ into his French poem without further explanation, suggesting that it does not require translation into French: ‘Sulum la veritéd | Si cum jo l’ai truvéd | En un livere devin | Ki ad a nun Genesin’ (According to the truth which I found in a divine book which was called Genesis). Philippe de Thaon, Comput, ed. by Ian Short (London: ANTS, 1994), lines 1997–2000. 6 Nithard, Histoire des fils de Louis le pieux, ed. and trans. by Ph. Lauer (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1926), p.  102. For a recent discussion and English translation of the Oaths, see Butterfield, The Familiar Enemy, pp. 44–9.

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such as Robert Mannyng, who assumed the task of translating into English a language that was, and was not, like Latin. As will be seen at the end of this chapter, Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne, whose prologue discusses his rendering of the French original’s title with an etymological exactitude echoing Ælfric’s ‘Genesis ys “gecyndboc”’ formula, demonstrates two distinct ways of translating French into English. In the same manner as Ælfric had done with Latin, Mannyng shows English as capable as presenting itself as distinct from French, with sufficient resources to create indigenous equivalents to the vocabulary of its French source, but he also reveals its capacity to absorb new French words, building itself out of the text being translated in order to expand and enrich itself as a literary language.

Early L atin > German Transl ation: Otfrid and Notker L abeo

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harlemagne himself encouraged the translation of ecclesiastical texts as part of his educational reforms, as well as apparently arranging for the creation of a corpus of Old High German model translations, including works such as Matthew’s Gospel and Isidore of Seville’s De fide catholica, although these have survived only in fragmentary form, and the translation programme itself did not meet with lasting success.7 However, later heirs to this pro-vernacular culture in Germanic-language areas, such as Otfrid von Weissenburg (fl. 860s) and Notker Labeo of St Gall (c. 950–1022), wrote at length on the importance of the vernacular, which they called ‘theotisca’, with Otfrid referring to his own dialect as ‘frénkis’.8 In his prologue to his Gospel harmony Evangelienbuch, entitled ‘Cur scriptor hunc librum theotisce dictaverit’ (Why the writer composed this book in the German language), Otfrid writes that the Franks, unlike Latin and Greek writers, had neglected the practice of writing in their own language. Because of this, German was not a pliant poetic tool like Latin, and Frankish writers often wrote it incorrectly when attempting to transcribe the vernacular. However, Otfrid believed that the vernacular could and should be raised to a high standard – and indeed that it was the Franks’ Christian duty to do this:

7

Little is known of the circumstances of production of these translations, but it seems clear that they originated at court. It seems likely that Charlemagne envisaged a more ambitious, longer-lasting translation programme, but this did not materialise. After his death in 814 his educational programme also collapsed. See Walter Haug, Vernacular Literary Theory in the Middle Ages: The German Tradition, trans. by Joanna M. Catling (Cambridge: CUP, 1997); originally published as Literarturtheorie im deutschen Mittelalter. Von den Anfängen bis zum Ende des 13. Jahrhunderts. Eine Einfürung (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1985), pp. 28–9. The parallels with the situation in England after Ælfred’s death, discussed below, are striking. For an examination of Charlemagne’s achievements, see Rosamond McKitterick, Charlemagne: The Formation of a European Identity (Cambridge: CUP, 2008); for his educational reforms, see pp. 315–20. 8 See Haug, Vernacular Literary Theory, Ch. 2.

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Nu es fílu manno inthíhit    in sína zungun scríbit   joh ílit, er gigáhe,    thaz sínaz io gihóhe: Wánana sculun Fránkon    éinon thaz biwánkon,   ni sie in frénkisgon bigínnen,    si gotes lób singen?9 [Since many men now undertake to write in their own language and are quick to set about exalting their own causes, why should the Franks alone refrain and fail to sing God’s praises in Frankish?]10 However, he noted that his language ‘Níst si so gisúnan mit régulu bituúngan’ (has not yet so thoroughly been tamed by the rules).11 In his accompanying letter (written in Latin) to Liutbert, the archbishop of Cologne, he described more fully the distance that German must go before it approaches the standard of Latin, listing nine points in which his Franconian dialect differs from Latin – including spelling, hiatus, verse form, double negation and gender – and commenting more generally on its ungrammatical character: Hujus enim linguae barbaries ut est inculta indisciplinabilis atque insueta capi regulari freno grammaticae artis, sic etiam in multis dictis scriptio est propter literarum aut congeriem aut incognitam sonoritatem difficilis. [As the barbarism of this language is uncultivated, undisciplined and unaccustomed to being held on by the curbing rein of the art of grammar, so in the writing of many words it is difficult to spell because of the piling up of letters or a sound unknown [to Latin].]12 Yet despite, or perhaps because of, its uncultivated nature, Otfrid credited German with having a particular beauty of its own. The Evangelienbuch prologue remarks that, though untamed, ‘si hábet thoh thia ríhti in scóneru slíhti’ (yet it has in its plain beauty a certain directness).13 Such a claim allows for the possibility that German may even possess advantages over Latin in its beauty and directness; were it to be tamed and groomed by ‘grammaticae artis’, it could conceivably preserve the best attributes of both languages by combining the intelligibility and simplicity of German with the grammatical discipline of Latin.14 This ‘taming’ came closer to being realised in Notker Labeo’s remarkable series of simplified, well-punctuated Latin texts with accompanying Old High German translation-cum-commentary, created for his students at the school of the Abbey of 9

Otfrid, Evangelienbuch, ed. by Oskar Erdmann, Otfrid’s Evangelienbuch (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1957), lines 31–4. All references are to this edition. 10 Trans. in Haug, Vernacular Literary Theory, p. 36. 11 Evangielenbuch, line 35. 12 ‘Ad Liutbertum’, in Erdmann, Otfrid’s Evangelienbuch, p. 5; trans. in Anna A. Grotans, Reading in Medieval St. Gall (Cambridge: CUP, 2006), p. 46. Translation based on Grotans, with some changes. 13 Evangielenbuch, line 36. 14 Jacob van Maerlant would later make a similar argument about the way in which Dutch translations could be used to convey the best characteristics of both French and Latin; see Chapter 8.

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St Gall, in which he argued forcefully for the need to use the vernacular in order to read and interpret Latin works. Writing to Hugo of Valais, the Prince-Bishop of Sion, he remarked that ‘quam cito capiunter per patriam linguam. quæ aut uix aut non integre capienda forent in lingua non propria’ (things which are understood only partially and with difficulty in a language that is not one’s own are quickly grasped in one’s native tongue), and emphasised the newness of what he was attempting to do: ‘Ad quos dum accessvm habere nostros uellem scolasticos ausus svm facere rem pene inusitatam. ut latine scripta in nostram [linguam] conatus sim uertere’ (Since I wanted my students to have an introduction to these texts, I presumed to do something almost unprecedented: I ventured to translate them in writing from Latin into our language).15 In order to do this, Notker needed to set about elevating German to meet the same written standards as Latin, using a more standardised system of spelling, punctuation and grammar. However, the proudly Frankish Notker created a model in which German was viewed as a language in its own right rather than as an aberration of Latin, and its grammar not expected to behave in an identical fashion.16 Although his translation programme was not continued after his death, the significance of Notker’s achievements was recognised as by his former pupil and successor at the St Gall school, Ekkehard IV. In his Liber Benedictionum, Ekkehard includes a poem in which he praises his teacher, crediting him with refining the German language in the same way that Hoccleve would later hail Chaucer as ‘the first finder of our fair language’;17 he declares him ‘primus barbaricam scribens faciensque saporam’ (the first to write the barbaric [tongue], making it savoury).18 These examples reveal a body of rhetoric being built up in the Germanic tradition, granting the vernacular a greater autonomy in relation to Latin in comparison with the contemporary situation in Romance-speaking areas described in the previous chapter. Whilst neither Otfrid nor Notker Labeo directly inspired a vernacular literary tradition, Otfrid’s belief that German could be satisfactorily ‘bituúngan’ (tamed), and Notker’s still greater confidence in German as a medium suitable for expressing elegant and nuanced ideas, would be reflected in later vernacular writings, both translations and original compositions.19

Transl ator s’ Prologues in Anglo-Saxon Engl and: Ælfred and Ælfric

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n Anglo- Saxon Engl and, Latin > English translators’ prologues of the pre-Conquest tradition put forward the case for an autonomous literary

15

Text and translation in Grotans, Reading in Medieval St. Gall, pp. 39–40; translation based on Grotans, with some changes. 16 See Grotans, Reading in Medieval St. Gall, p. 46. 17 Hoccleve, The Regiment of Princes, ed. by Charles R. Blyth (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 1999), line.4978. 18 Text in Grotans, Reading in Medieval St. Gall, p. 43. 19 For later German examples, see Haug, Vernacular Literary Theory, from Chapter 3 onwards.

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vernacular using similar arguments. Ælfred of Wessex’s preface to his translation of Gregory’s Cura Pastoralis (c. 890) would appear to be the first translator’s prologue in English; certainly, it is without a traceable direct model.20 It shares the pro-vernacular nature of Otfrid and Notker Labeo’s prefacing letters, although there is no evidence that Ælfred knew of any European models for his translation programme; however, Ælfred’s ambitions for written English show the reaction of another Germanic language to Latin.21 Written slightly after Otfrid’s Evangelienbuch, Ælfred’s preface to the Cura Pastoralis resembles the later Notker’s writings in its conviction that a vernacular alternative to Latin is necessary, and that it is crucial to write this language according to strict standards if it is adequately to convey the meaning of the original. The English king seems slightly more doubtful than the monk of St Gall as to whether the vernacular can measure up to Latin; he suggests that, while all young men not otherwise employed should learn to read English, Latin could be reserved for ‘ða ðe mon furðor læren wille ond to hierran hade done wille’ (those whom one wishes to teach further and promote to a higher order).22 However, he argues that translating scripture into a more easily understood language has a long and distinguished history, in a way that recalls Otfrid’s Evangelienbuch prologue, describing the transfer of spiritual truths through Hebrew, Greek, Latin and English in the same way by which later vernacular translators would justify their work: Đa gemunde ic hu sio æ wæs ærest on Ebriscgeðiode funden, ond eft, ða ða hie Creacas geliornodon, ða wendon hie hie on heora agen geðiode ealle, ond eac ealle oðre bec. Ond eft Lædenware swæ same, siððan hie hie geliornodon, hie hie wendon ealla ðurh wise wealhstodas on hiora agen geðiode. Ond eac ealla oðræ Cristnæ ðioda sumne dæl hiora on hiora agen geðiode wendon. 20

The translation of Gregory’s Dialogus attributed to Wærferth would seem to have preceded the Cura Pastoralis, but its Preface was written later by Ælfred, after the start of his translation programme. For a discussion of dating the earliest English texts, see Janet M. Bately, ‘Old English Prose Before and During the Reign of Alfred’, ASE 17 (1988), pp. 93–138. 21 Despite visiting Rome on two occasions in the 850s, on the second of which he apparently met Charles the Bald (and perhaps Louis II of Italy), and the presence of continental scholars at his court, Ælfred seems to have been isolated from parallel developments in vernacular translation in Germanic-speaking Europe. Ælfred’s translation programme was, in any case, far more developed than any of the continental schemes hitherto proposed, and not enough evidence has survived of Charlemagne’s programme to know how widely these texts were circulated, particularly after Charlemagne’s death. For a situating of Ælfred within a wider European context, see Janet M. Nelson, ‘Alfred’s Carolingian Contemporaries’, in Alfred the Great: Papers from the Eleventh-Centenary Conferences, ed. by Timothy Reuter (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), pp. 293–310; also Nelson, ‘“A King Across the Sea”: Alfred in Continental Perspective’, in Rulers and Ruling Families in Early Medieval Europe: Alfred, Charles the Bald, and Others, Variorum Collected Studies, by Janet L. Nelson (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999), Essay I. See also n. 24 below. 22 Ælfred, Cura Pastoralis, ed. by Henry Sweet, King Alfred’s West-Saxon Version of Gregory’s Pastoral Care, EETS  O.S. 45, 50 (London: N. Trübner & Co., 1871), p.  6. All references are to this edition. For a discussion of the precise meaning of ‘hierran hade’, see Malcolm Godden, ‘King Alfred’s Preface and the Teaching of Latin in Anglo-Saxon England’, English Historical Review 117 (2002), pp. 596–604.

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For ðy me ðyncð betre [...] ðæt we eac sumæ bec, ða ðe niedbeðearfosta sien eallum monnum to wiotone, ðæt we ða on ðæt geðiode wenden ðe we ealle gecnawen mægen.23 [Then I remembered how the law was first composed in the Hebrew language, and afterwards, when the Greeks learned it, they translated it all into their own language, and also all other books. And afterwards the Romans in the same way, when they had learned them, translated them all through wise interpreters into their own language. And also all other Christian peoples24 translated some part of them into their own language. Therefore it seems better to me [...] that we also translate certain books, which are most needful for all men to know, into that language that we all can understand.] Whilst it is uncertain what models Ælfred used, he would appear to be writing with knowledge of the classical rhetorical tradition, and of the rhetorical form of the epistle in particular. Bernard Huppé has compared the basic form of Ælfred’s preface to the early papal epistle, which later developed into the standard form of the ars dictaminis. This consisted of five sections: (i) the Protocol, or Salutation; (ii) the Arenga, or Proem (Captatio Benevolentiae); (iii) Narration, or Statement; (iv) Disposition or Petition; and (v) Final Clauses or Conclusion.25 One might also compare it with the style of contemporary royal charters, which work in much the same way.26 Ælfred is keenly aware of the nuances of translation, and in the Cura Pastoralis prologue he is the first writer in English to address Jerome’s question of word-for-word 23

Cura Pastoralis, pp. 5–6. The reference is unclear, as there is no evidence that Ælfred knew of any other European traditions of vernacular translation. He may have known Bishop Ulfilas’ fourth-century Gothic Bible by reputation, and perhaps been aware of translations into continental Saxon by missionaries such as Boniface (d. 754); the Irish, who translated ‘sumne dæl’ of scripture into their language, frequently sent scholars to other European courts, and it is possible that Ælfred was aware of these translation activities. However, this can only remain speculation. For a discussion of Ælfred within the context of neighbouring Celtic kingdoms, see Wendy Davies, ‘Alfred’s Contemporaries: Irish, Welsh, Scots and Breton’, in Alfred the Great: Papers from the Eleventh-Centenary Conferences, ed. by Timothy Reuter, pp. 323–37. 25 Bernard F. Huppé, ‘Alfred and Aelfric: A Study of Two Prefaces’, in The Old English Homily and its Backgrounds by Paul E. Szarmach and Bernard F. Huppé (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1978), pp. 119–37, at p. 120. Ælfred’s debts to epistolary rhetoric have also been noted by F. P. Magoun, ‘Some Notes on King Ælfred’s Circular Letter on Educational Policy Addressed to his Bishops’, Mediæval Studies 10 (1948), pp. 93–107; ‘King Alfred’s Letter on Educational Policy According to the Cambridge Manuscripts’, Mediæval Studies 11 (1949), pp. 113–22. 26 N. R. Ker has suggested that the Cura Pastoralis manuscripts were produced by scribes who had previously been engaged in writing charters. Ker, The Pastoral Care: King Alfred’s Translation of St. Gregory’s Regula Pastoralis, Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile 6 (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1956), p. 19. Simon Keynes has argued that charters drawn up at the West Saxon court (which have survived only in much later copies) provide evidence for a pre-Ælfredian literate tradition which may have contributed to Ælfred’s cultural programme in the late 880s. Keynes, ‘The Power of the Written Word: Alfredian England 871–899’, in Alfred the Great: Papers from the Eleventh-Centenary Conferences, ed. by Timothy Reuter, pp. 175–97. 24

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versus sense-for-sense translation; he writes that he translated ‘hwilum worde be worde hwilum andgit of andgiete’ (sometimes word for word, sometimes sense for sense). Ælfred also uses this phrase in his translation of Boethius: ‘Hwilum he sette word be worde, hwilum andgit of andgite, swa swa he hit þa sweotolost & angitfullicast gereccan mihte’ (Sometimes he used word for word, sometimes sense for sense, so that he might translate it most explicitly and most meaningfully).27 This clearly points to a knowledge of the Hieronymian formula, either directly from Jerome’s writings or, what is perhaps more likely, mediated through later scholars (including Boethius and Gregory themselves, both of whom discussed the merits of uerbum pro uerbo translation).28 In the Cura Pastoralis, Ælfred adds that this was done ‘swæ swæ ic hie geliornode æt Plegmunde minum ærcebiscepe ond æt Assere minum biscepe ond æt Grimbolde minum mæssepreoste ond æt Iohanne minum mæssepreoste’ (just as I learned from my archbishop Plegmund, my bishop Asser, my mass-priest Grimbold and my mass-priest John);29 this would seem to imply that his spiritual advisors also taught him translation techniques, based ultimately on Latin sources such as Jerome’s writings on translation. The Old English version of the Cura Pastoralis itself was aimed at the largest possible audience, on a kingdom-wide scale, with Ælfred declaring that he would send a copy to every bishopric in the land.30 His endorsement of a translation programme into English was undoubtedly a major contribution to the development of Old English as a literary language; the Cura Pastoralis, along with his translations of other Latin texts which Ælfred felt were ‘niedbeðearfosta sien eallum monnum to wiotone’ (most needful for all men to know), being strongly promoted.31 Yet he did not standardise Old English to the extent which has sometimes been suggested;32 nor, as was the case with Charlemagne’s translation programme, was there any immediate successor to continue his project. Despite his efforts, literary life after Ælfred seems to have stagnated until the great Benedictine reforms in the second half of the tenth century.33 27

Ælfred, Boethius, ed. by Walter John Sedgefield, King Alfred’s Old English Version of Boethius (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899), p. 2. 28 For a consideration of the classical theories of translation which may have been available to Ælfred and his literary descendants, see Christine B. Thijs, ‘Early Old English Translation: Practice Before Theory?’, Neophilologus 91 (2007), pp. 149–73. She includes a useful table of references suggesting knowledge of classical translation theory in Ælfredian prologues and epilogues (p. 158). 29 Cura Pastoralis, p. 6. 30 Ibid., p. 8. 31 Ibid., p. 6. 32 Sweet suggested, for instance, that West Saxon was ‘fixed and regulated by the literary labours of Alfred and his successors’. Sweet, King Alfred’s West-Saxon Version of Gregory’s Pastoral Care, vol. I, pp. xxxii–xxxiii. Much later, Michael Alexander has remarked that ‘Old English prose [...] was called into being by a decision of Alfred’. Alexander, Old English Literature (London: Macmillan, 1983), p. 132. 33 Helmut Gneuss makes a convincing argument against Ælfred’s standardising of Old English, pointing both to philological evidence and to the lack of scriptoria capable of producing standardised translations on a large scale. Gneuss, ‘The Origin of Standard Old English and Æthelwold’s School at Winchester’, ASE 1 (1972) pp. 63–83, esp. pp. 63–8.

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However, a century later a more exacting school of Latin–English translation seems to have been established, centring upon Winchester and stemming from the teachings of Æthelwold at the school of the Old Minster.34 Æthelwold, who counted Wulfstan and Ælfric among his pupils, made a masterful translation of the Benedictine Rule for King Edgar and his wife, and it would seem very likely that he taught his methods to his students. Several studies have noted the increasingly standardised correlation of certain Latin words with specific English equivalents in texts produced in and around Winchester during this time – such as ‘superbia’ with ‘modig’,35 ‘prudens’ and ‘prudentia’ with ‘snotor’ and ‘snotornes’,36 and ‘corona’ with ‘wuldorbeag’37 in the works of Ælfric – and Walter Hofstetter has suggested that a substantial group of ‘Winchester words’ are consistently used to translate certain Latin ones in texts associated with Æthelwold’s school.38 Such an approach would tally with the substantial number of Latin–Old English vocabularies and word lists produced over the period, which are organised in many cases along proto-dictionary lines.39 If this hypothesis is correct, it suggests an organised approach to Latin > vernacular translation unprecedented in Europe. It also emphasises the sense, already seen in Ælfric’s ‘Genesis/gecyndboc’ equivalence discussed at the outset of this chapter, that there is a ready store of existing English words capable of conveying the meaning of these Latin terms. Whilst Ælfric’s characterisation of Latin > Old English translation should not, of course, be taken as an exact reflection of the way in which Latin words entered the language during this period, the number of Latin loanwords in the extant Old English corpus is indeed proportionally low, with between 1.75% and 4% of words estimated to be Latin borrowings.40 34

Ibid., from p. 70. Hans Schabram, Superbia: Studien zum altenglischen Wortschatz, I: Die dialektale and zeitliche Verbreitung des Wortguts (Munich: W. Fink, 1965), pp. 92–3; ‘Das altenglische superbia-Wortgut. Eine Nachlese’, in Festschrift Prof. Dr. Herbert Koziol zum siebzigsten Geburtstag, ed. by G. Bauer and others (Vienna: H. Braumüller, 1973), pp. 272–9, at p. 276. 36 Elmar Seebold, ‘Die ae. Entsprechungen von lat. sapiens und prudens: Eine Untersuchung über die mundartliche Gliederung der ae. Literatur’, Anglia 92 (1974), pp. 291–33, at pp. 311–13. 37 Josef Kirschner, Die Bezeichnungen für Kranz und Krone im Altenglischen (Munich: Salzer, 1975), esp. p. 215–16. 38 Walter Hofstetter, ‘Winchester and the Standardization of English Vocabulary’, ASE 17 (1988), pp. 139–61; see also Gneuss, ‘The Origin of Standard Old English’, esp. pp. 76–81). 39 The most substantial published collection of Old English vocabularies is still Anglo-Saxon and Old English Vocabularies, ed. by Thomas Wright and Richard Paul Wülcker, 2nd edn, 2 vols (London: Trübner & Co., 1884); for more recently published glossaries, see e.g. Tony Hunt, ‘The Old English Vocabularies in MS. Oxford, Bodley 730’, English Studies 62 (1981), pp. 201–9. For more recent studies on the subject, see Patrizia Lendinara, Anglo-Saxon Glosses and Glossaries, Variorum Collected Studies (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999), Helmut Gneuss, ‘The Study of Language in AngloSaxon England’, in Textual and Material Culture in Anglo-Saxon England: Thomas Northcote Toller and the Toller Memorial Lectures, ed. by Donald Scragg (Cambridge: DS Brewer, 2003), pp. 75–105. 40 The Thesaurus of Old English lists approximately 34,000 distinct word forms, of which an estimated 600 are borrowed from Latin. Conservatively, this represents 1.75% of the total, although the proportion of Latin loans may be closer to 4.5% if compound words and derivatives are included. Roberts, Jane and Christian Kay with Lynne Grundy, A Thesaurus of Old English (London: King’s 35

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The Old English tradition of translation reached its apogee in Ælfric, in many ways the intellectual heir to Ælfred. A century after the Cura Pastoralis, Ælfric acknowledged Ælfred’s achievements in his first translator’s prologue, his Preface to the First Series of Catholic Homilies, composed in the 990s. He declares that ‘butan þam bocum ðe Ælfred cyning snoterlice awende of Ledene on Englisc’ (without the books that King Ælfred wisely translated from Latin into English), it would be impossible for those unable to read Latin to read religious writings without falling prey to the foolish and heretical ideas propagated by inferior English writers and translators. His own writings, he suggests, are written out of the same desire to rid the reading and listening public of dangerous fallacies: ic ðas boc of ledenum gereorde to engliscre spræce awende. na þurh gebylde micelre lare. ac for ðan ðe ic geseah 7 gehyrde mycel gedwyld on manegum engliscum bocum. ðe ungelærede menn ðurh heora bilewitnysse to micclum widsome tealdon 41 [I translated this book from the Latin language, turning it into English speech, not through a rash confidence in greater learning but because I saw and heard great heresy in many English books, which unlearned men, in their innocence, take for great wisdom.] Ælfric’s Preface to Genesis, his fullest discussion of the translation process, uses the same epistolary form as Ælfred’s Preface to the Cura Pastoralis. This is a text with which Ælfric would have been familiar, and from the similarities in rhetorical devices and ideas expressed it would seem probable that he had it in mind when composing his own translator’s prologue, in addition to drawing on a range of Latin sources.42 Unlike Ælfred, however, who begins by stressing the need for English translations in an environment where Latin was not understood, Ælfric opens his Preface by expressing a reluctance to carry out the ‘swiðe pleolic’ (very dangerous) task of translation with which he has been entrusted. Making the Old Testament, which is to be understood in spiritual rather than literal truths, available to those who have not benefited from the education that learning Latin would entail, he suggests, might College London Medieval Studies XI, 1995). A 2015 version has been published: A Thesaurus of Old English (Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2015), available online at  [accessed 15 February 2016]. Durkin references the 1995 version. By comparison, of all headword entries first recorded in the Middle English period in the MED, 20% are from French, 15% are from Latin, and 13% contain etymologies derived from both. See Durkin, Borrowed Words, pp. 99–100, 256; Helmut Gneuss, ‘Anglicae linguae interpretatio: Language Contact, Lexical Borrowing and Glossing in Anglo-Saxon England’, 1992 Lectures and Memoirs: Proceedings of the British Academy, 82 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 107–148. 41 Ælfric, Preface to First Series of Catholic Homilies, ed. by Peter Clemoes, Ælfric’s Catholic Homilies: The First Series, EETS S.S. 17 (Oxford: OUP, 1997), p. 174. 42 A full comparison of Ælfred and Ælfric’s prologues can be found in Huppé, ‘Alfred and Aelfric’. For a comprehensive account of the Latin sources which influenced Ælfric’s preface, see Mark Griffith, ‘Ælfric’s Use of His Sources in the Preface to Genesis, Together with a Conspectus of Biblical and Patristic Sources and Analogues’, Florilegium 17 (2000), pp. 127–54.

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lead to serious confusion.43 Revealingly, Ælfric does not seem to be concerned with the lesser capabilities of English to express his meaning, nor with his lack of skill in translating, these being the two major concerns voiced by the later French and Middle English translators; his confidence in English is much greater than anything that would be seen for quite some time after the Conquest. In terms of their range of expression, he seems to consider the two languages comparable; in addition to his translation of the word ‘Genesis’, discussed at the beginning of this chapter, Ælfric provides a number of specimen Latin sentences followed by their English equivalents, again using a word-to-word correlation, selecting indigenous English words rather than Latin-derived terms, and suggesting that one ys the other (e.g. ‘Heo onginð þus: In principio creauit deus celum et terram, þæt ys on Englisc, “On anginne gesceop God heofenan and eorðan”’), and, in his extended discussion of his methods, he favours a literal approach whenever possible, which, he suggests, English is perfectly capable of supporting: we durron na mare awritan on Englisc þonne þæt Læden hæfð, ne þa endebirdnesse awendan buton þam anum þæt Læden and þæt Englisc nabbað na ane wisan on þære spræce fadunge. Æfre se þe awent oððe se þe tæcð of Lædene on Englisc, æfre he sceal gefadian hit swa þæt Englisc hæbbe his agene wisan, elles hit bið swiðe gedwolsum to rædenne þam þe þæs Lædenes wisan ne can.44 [we dare not write more in English than the Latin has, nor change the order except for the one reason that the Latin and the English do not have the same manner of word order. He that translates or teaches from Latin into English must always phrase it so that English has its own manner, otherwise it will be very misleading to read to him who does not know the manner of that Latin.] This suggestion that English should not be seen as a lesser version of Latin, striving to meet its standards, but as a language with ‘his agene wisan’ is similar to Notker’s model, and can be seen as reflecting the confidence in written English existing at this time, at a time when former barbarian kingdoms all across Europe were coming into their own as literate Christian polities. It does not feel like the nervous defiance of later, post-Conquest English translators such as the Cursor Mundi author, where lines such as ‘Giue we ilkan þare langage, | Me think we do þam non outrage’ mask a much deeper uneasiness about the use of English; English translation is presented as a respected craft, and learning how to understand the ‘gastlicum andgite’ of the English text is a responsibility which audiences must be expected to shoulder. The development of literary Old English stemmed from a need to make Latin texts available in the vernacular; however, in raising itself to be equal to the challenge, English developed its own identity and independence.45 Written Old English 43

Ælfric, Preface to Genesis, p. 76. Preface to Genesis, pp. 79–80. 45 See Thijs, ‘Early Old English Translation’, p. 164. 44

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became increasingly conservative, rather than reflecting the variety of developments in the spoken language. Clanchy has even suggested that by 1066 the gap between written and spoken English was such that ‘Anglo-Saxon cannot be described as the popular vernacular [...] in contrast to Latin, as both were literary languages’.46 This is a potentially problematic statement, as it would seem to assume that a wide gap between orthography and speech is a sign of rupture between written and spoken language; as noted in Chapter 1, those writing in early Romance who recorded what looks like corrupt Latin were actually notating their speech – their vernacular, in other words – however archaising this written form may appear. However, the literary precocity and self-awareness of Ælfred, Ælfric and other Anglo-Saxon writers are undoubtedly remarkable in relation to contemporary literary activity in Latin Europe; their necessary reaction to Latin as a foreign language was a strong incentive to develop an alternative literary language capable of expressing the full range of written communication. The charge of ‘precocity’ which, as we saw in the previous chapter, has often been attributed to the Anglo-Norman tradition, could just as readily be applied to the earlier vernacular tradition in England. By 1066, Old English was arguably the most highly developed non-Latin literary language in Europe.47

The Conquest and Afterwards: Questions of Continuit y in English-L anguage Writing

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he question of continuity between Old and Middle English literature is one that often proves problematic – and often unanswerable – to scholars. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which runs though the entire transitional period until 1154, is one marker of continuity. However, there is virtually no extant ‘new writing’ in English until the Ormulum (c. 1180), The Owl and the Nightingale (which has been dated to c. 1189–1216, although there is a possibility that it is late thirteenth century48) and Laȝamon’s Brut, which has been dated to anywhere between 1189

46

Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record, p. 211. Writing of the pre-Conquest languages of medieval England, J. A. Burrow states that ‘the evidence suggests that English came to be held in higher esteem than any other West European vernacular of the time’. For his discussion of the remarkably elevated status of English during this period, see ‘The Languages of Medieval England’, in The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, Volume I: To 1500, ed. by R. Ellis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), repr. in John A. Burrow, English Poets in the Late Middle Ages: Chaucer, Langland and Others, Variorum Collected Studies (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012), pp. 7–28, esp. pp. 9–12, at p. 9. See also e.g. Milton McC. Gatch, ‘The Achievement of Aelfric and his Colleagues in European Perspective’, in The Old English Homily and its Backgrounds, ed. by Paul E. Szarmach and Bernard F. Huppé (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1978), pp. 43–73. Such claims as to which language was the ‘most’ highly developed can be difficult to determine; the Old Irish written tradition was also well-developed by this stage, and the same claim could possibly be made for this. See e.g. Tomás Ó Cathasaigh, ‘Chapter 1: The Literature of Medieval Ireland to c. 800’, in The Cambridge History of Irish Literature, 2 vols, ed. by Margaret Kelleher and Philip O’Leary (Cambridge: CUP, 2006), vol. 1, pp. 9–31. 48 See Neil Cartlidge, ‘The Date of The Owl and the Nightingale’, Medium Ævum 65 (1996), pp. 230–47. 47

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and c. 1250.49 The evocatively named ‘lost literature of England’ theory, which suggests that there may once have existed a corpus of post-1066 English-language texts providing a more unbroken line between Ælfric and Laȝamon, is an attractive one.50 However, as Christopher Cannon has remarked, looking for continuity in this way is itself suspect; ‘[s]uch a version of the past annihilates “literature” where it survives in the isolated or fragmentary text because it assumes that “literature” has died wherever it cannot be detected in many places’.51 Whilst it is indeed unhelpful to force a narrative of literary continuity (by which I mean a self-aware literary tradition) onto pre – and post-Conquest written English where the evidence does not support this, there is some evidence for written linguistic continuity, as a certain amount of writing continued to be produced in English. Royal writs remained in Old English until the 1070s, after which Latin was used.52 However, Old English texts continued to be copied in monasteries into the twelfth century and beyond; the ‘tremulous hand of Worcester’ was glossing Old English manuscripts well into the thirteenth.53 The recent English Manuscripts project based at the universities of Leicester and Leeds, a systematic investigation of all known manuscripts containing English writing produced between 1060 and 1220, has drawn attention to the variety of written Englishlanguage material which has survived from this transitional period, from homilies to law codes, and its investigators note that ‘[e]very individual manuscript we’ve worked on in detail has shown us unequivocally that copying in English [was] seriously resourced, in terms of time, materials [and] skilled personnel’. 54 The project’s online catalogue of manuscript metadata makes available a large body of material for further analysis, and continuing investigation of this will cast a welcome further light on the earliest English writings and the interrelations between written English, French and Latin at this early stage.55

49

See e.g. Laȝamon’s Brut, or Chronicle of Britain, 3 vols, ed. by Frederic Madden (London: Society of Antiquities of London, 1847; repr. Osnabrück: Otto Zeller, 1967), vol. 1, p. xx; E. G. Stanley, ‘The Date of Laȝamon’s “Brut”’, N&Q 15 (1968), pp. 85–8. 50 Cf. R. W. Chambers, ‘The Lost Literature of Medieval England’, The Library, 4th ser., 5 (1925), pp.  293–321; also R. M. Wilson, The Lost Literature of Medieval England (London: Methuen, 1952). The mysterious English ‘estoires’ referred to in Waldef, for instance, provide much scope for speculation. 51 Christopher Cannon, The Grounds of English Literature (Oxford: OUP, 2004), p. 41. 52 For a discussion of the changeover, see Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record, pp. 211–13. 53 For a full-length study of this glossator, see Christine Franzen, The Tremulous Hand of Worcester: A Study of Old English in the Thirteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). 54 Orietta Da Rold and Takako Kato, ‘The Cultural Contexts of English Manuscripts 1060–1220: What We Know’, in The Production and Use of English Manuscripts 1060–1220, ed. by Orietta Da Rold, Takako Kato, Mary Swan and Elaine Treharne (Leicester: University of Leicester, 2010) available online at [accessed 24 November 2015]. 55 Da Rold, Kato, Swan and Treharne, The Production and Use of English Manuscripts 1060–1220, available online at [accessed 24 November 2015].

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T

he introduction of a new language – French – into England was an undeniable rupture with the past. In Latin > Middle English translations, however, one can detect a good deal of continuity in the way in which the English language related to Latin both pre- and post-Conquest. Whilst the Anglo-Norman chroniclers could present themselves, albeit disingenuously, as practisers of enarratio rather than strict linguistic translation, it was not possible for Latin to be seen as a higher register of Old English; the situation of diglossia found in Romancespeaking Europe could not be taken advantage of in this case. This was also the case for post-Conquest English translations, which reacted to Latin in the same way as their Ælfrician predecessors. The idiosyncratic Ormulum, written by an Augustinian canon who names himself as Orm, is the first substantial piece of post-Conquest writing in English which has survived (it slightly predates Laȝamon’s Brut) existing in a single manuscript.56 It is also the earliest known translation from Latin into Middle English, being a sequence of homilies based largely on the twelfth-century Latin Bible commentary Glossa Ordinaria, and contains a translator’s prologue. It is therefore illuminating to compare Orm’s prologue with those from Old English translations, in which he gives similar reasons for translating into English: Icc hafe wennd intill Ennglissh Goddspelles hallȝe lare [...] [...] itt mihhte wel till mikel frame turrnenn, ȝiff Ennglissh follc, forr lufe off Crist, Itt wollde ȝerne lernenn. [I have translated the Gospels’ holy teaching into English [...] it might be of great benefit for any English people who, for love of Christ, wished to learn it.]57

Orm’s prologue does not present his translation as significant on the scale of Ælfred’s Cura Pastoralis; this may point to a greater uncertainty about the use of English in the twelfth century, but, perhaps more pertinently, also reflects the fact that Orm is not attempting anything on the scale of Ælfred’s kingdom-wide project. Rather, he is, at least in the first instance, addressing his (biological and fellow-canon)

56

For discussion of the circumstances surrounding the production of the Ormulum, with a focus on codicological evidence, see M. B. Parkes, ‘On the Presumed Date and Possible Origin of the Manuscript of the Ormulum: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Junius 1’, in Five Hundred Years of Words and Sounds: A Festschrift for Eric Dobson, ed. by E. G. Stanley and D. Grey (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1983), pp. 115–27. 57 ‘Dedication’, Ormulum, ed. by Robert Holt, The Ormulum, with the Notes and Glossary of Dr. R. M. White (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1878), vol. 1, lines 13–14, 17–20. All references are to this edition. Translations my own.

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brother Walter.58 However, Orm’s crediting of English with the ability to translate Latin accurately suggests a great degree of confidence in the language. His remarkable discussion of the precision with which English should be written, even down to its spelling, for which he has created his own system throughout, suggests that he expects English to attain similarly high standards: & whase wilenn shall þiss boc Efft oþerr siþe writenn, Himm bidde icc þatt he’t write rihht, Swa summ þiss boc himm tæcheþþ: All þwerrt’ut affterr itt iss Uppo þiss firrste bisne, Wiþþ all swillc rime alls her iss sett, Wiþþ all se fele wordess; & tatt he loke wel þatt he An bocstaff write twiȝȝess, Eȝȝwhær þær uppo þiss boc Iss writenn o þatt wise. [and whoever wishes to write out this book again afterwards, I ask him to write it correctly, just as this book instructs: all the words in the way it is done in this first example, with the metre as it is set down here, with all the various words; and that he makes sure that he writes out each letter twice everywhere that is done in this book.]59 Orm’s concern with the accurate reproduction of ‘þis firrste bisne’ (this first example) of his text by subsequent copyists is very similar in sentiment to the anxiety expressed by Ælfric at the end of his Preface to Genesis over the harm done by ‘lease writeras’ (bad scribes).60 Although neither Ælfric nor Ælfred felt the need to create a spelling system in the way that the Ormulum specifies, where future scribes are instructed to write ‘[a]n bocstaff [...] twiȝȝess’ (a letter twice) wherever Orm does, a consistent, standard way of writing English is surely what is being aimed at in the earlier texts. In approach to the task, if not in direct influence, an element of continuity in Latin > English translation can be discerned. There was also an element of continuity, at least in the popular imagination, between Ælfred and post-Conquest writers. The name of Ælfred still held currency as 58

The text is dedicated to ‘broþerr Walter, broþerr min | Affterr þe flæshess kinde | & broþerr min i Crisstendom’ (brother Walter, my brother by blood and my brother in Christendom) (lines 1–3). It is generally accepted, as J. E. Turville-Petre, ‘Studies on the Ormulum MS’, JEGP 46 (1947), pp. 1–27, has suggested, that the manuscript we have was the author’s holograph, showing his drafts and revisions – and may have been submitted to Walter for further revision. As no other copies of the text have survived, no firm conclusions can be made as to its subsequent circulation. 59 Ormulum, lines 95–106. 60 ‘ic nah geweald, þeah þe hig hwa to woge bringe þurh lease writeras’ (I have no control over anyone bringing it into error through bad scribes). Preface to Genesis, p. 80.

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an auctor in the later Middle Ages, although his works themselves were little known. Most people would have known of him through the pseudo-Ælfredian Proverbs of Alfred, the archetype of which was created in the second half of the twelfth century, and the description of him in the Proverbs prologue as ‘An king wel swiþe strong, | He wes king, and he wes clerek’ seems to have been an enduring image (several of his supposed proverbs are referenced, for example, in The Owl and the Nightingale).61 Indeed, some Middle English writers consciously position themselves as intellectual heirs to their pre-Conquest forebears. A particularly striking example can be found much later in the period, in Trevisa’s ‘Dialogue between the Lord and the Clerk on Translation’ (1387), which is used as a preface to his translation of the Polychronicon in five of the fourteen extant manuscripts of the text. Trevisa explicitly pays homage to Ælfred, along with a roll-call of other Anglo-Saxon luminaries, using arguments to justify English translation identical to those used in the English version of the Cura Pastoralis (while spuriously hailing the Saxon king as the founder of the University of Oxford). Although it would seem impossible that Trevisa could have read Ælfred’s Cura Pastoralis prologue, the arguments he makes for his English translation run along remarkably similar lines: holy wryt was translated out of Hebrew ynto Gru and out of Gru into Latyn, and þanne out of Latyn into Frensch. Þanne what haþ Englysch trespased þat hyt myȝt noȝt be translated into Englysch? Also King Alvred, þat foundede þe unyversité of Oxenford, translatede þe beste lawes into Englysch tonge and a gret del of þe Sauter out of Latyn into Englysch, and made Wyrefrith byschop of Wyrce[s]tre translate Seint Gregore hys bokes Dialoges out of Latyn ynto Saxon. Also Cedmon of Whyteby was inspired of þe Holy Gost and made wonder poesyes an Englysch nyȝ of al þe storyes of holy wryt. Also þe holy man Beda translatede Seint John hys gospel out of Latyn ynto Englysch.62 Trevisa’s invoking of Ælfred, Wyrefrith, Caedmon and Bede places his Latin > English translation firmly on the same continuum as the work of these earlier writers. One striking difference between Trevisa’s words and those of Ælfred, however, is the insertion of a new language into the hierarchy of translatio studii: French. Where Ælfred’s list of languages through which scripture has been transferred is: Hebrew > Greek > Latin > languages of Christian peoples > English

61

The Proverbs of Alfred, ed. by O. S. A. Angart, 2 vols (Lund: C. W. K. Gleerup. 1942–55), vol. 2, Text J, line 19; The Owl and the Nightingale, ed. and trans. by Neil Cartlidge (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2001), e.g. lines 1123–6. For further discussion of Ælfred’s reputation from the ninth century to the present day, see Simon Keynes, ‘The Cult of King Alfred the Great’, ASE 28 (1999), pp. 225–356. 62 ‘Dialogue between the Lord and the Clerk on Translation’, in Wogan-Browne and others, The Idea of the Vernacular, pp.  131–4; all references are to this edition. For further discussion of ‘AngloSaxonism’, see Robert Allen Rouse, The Idea of Anglo-Saxon England in Middle English Romance (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2005), esp. Ch. 1.

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Trevisa’s very similar list has:

{

}

Hebrew > Greek > Latin > French      >English Saxon/Caedmon and Bede’s ’Englysch’ Wyrefrith’s ‘Saxon’, and the ‘Englysch’ of Ælfred, Caedmon and Bede, described afterwards as a kind of codicil, slot into the hierarchy after Latin and before the English of Trevisa’s day. Trevisa’s identification with this earlier tradition of English writing, in an older form of the language still recognised as ‘English’, creates a bridge between the two English traditions. This leaves French in an uneasy parallel alongside English – where does it belong within such hierarchies of translation?

The Addition of French

I

n addition to the enormous political, social and practical implications of the Norman Conquest, the addition of a third language into a country with two existing literary languages posed a conceptual problem: as the language of the new ruling class, of power and (eventually) of culture, was French a Latin-type language? Or as a vernacular, was it more like English? Of course, when new languages are brought into a country by invading forces, practical realities outweigh theoretical concerns, and it is unlikely that such a question was explicitly asked in the years immediately following the Conquest. However, as English writers began to translate French texts in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, it would seem likely that such questions, even unconsciously, underlaid the way in which they approached the translation process. The instability of the role of French in the later Middle Ages can be seen reflected in translators’ prologues, in which it becomes apparent that writers were often unsure how to characterise French > English translation.63 Although English is often conceptualised as inferior to both Latin and French by Middle English writers, the status of French was never as fixed as that of Latin, which was perceived as a ‘neutral’ language, both geographically and politically. Latin was the language of Latin Christendom or latinitas, spanning the whole of western Europe which followed the Roman Church, and as such was often conceptualised almost as an ethnicity as much as a language, as in the phrase gens latina.64 French, on the other hand, was linked to a particular geopolitical core – the northern reaches of mainland France, and especially with the political core of the royal lands – and with a relatively recent political system, put in place by the post-Conquest rulers of Britain. Despite its well-rooted cultural supremacy, this was recognised as a linguistic tree which could be shaken. From fairly early on, French was conceptualised in England both as a foreign language and as the tongue of the court, with all that implies about its reputation for 63

The same phenomenon can be observed in prologues to translations from French into other European vernaculars; see Chapter 8 for examples of this in French > Dutch prologues. 64 See Robert Bartlett, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Civilization and Cultural Change 950–1350 (London: Penguin, 1993), p. 19.

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refinement. The Speculum Vitae (a. 1384) offers one of the best-known divisions of the three languages of England based on their social roles, with Latin reserved for the schools, French for the court and English for everyone: Latyne, als I trowe, can nane Bot þa þat has it of skole tane; Summe can Frankische and na Latyne Þat vsed has court and dwelled þarin [...] Bot lered and lawed, alde and yhunge, Alle vndurstandes Inglische tunge.65 Descriptions of French based on its social role often imply some measure of resentment, particularly in the thirteenth and earlier fourteenth centuries, when there was more genuine anxiety about the role and capabilities of English as a medium for composition. The Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) contains perhaps the most outspoken complaint concerning the cultural dominance of ‘Frankis rimes’ in its rhetorical ‘Mast es it wroght for frankis man: | Quat is for him na frankis can?’66 Whilst it is to the Cursor Mundi’s advantage to emphasise the oppressive ubiquity of ‘Frankis rimes’ in its promotion of an ‘Ingland the nacion’ based on language, an accumulation of such sentiments in a number of other texts suggests they were genuinely felt. It may be possible to read lines such as Of Arthour and of Merlin’s ‘Freynsche vse þis gentil man | Ac euerich Inglische Inglische can’ as a slight populist sneer against the predilections of the francophone upper classes, in contrast to those who are wholly ‘Inglische’.67 Robert Mannyng’s references to ‘strange Inglis’ in his Chronicle (1338) would also seem to imply a criticism of fanciful French literary form, in contrast with the ‘symple’ English he uses, although this is nowhere overtly stated.68 It should be remembered that a standard way of characterising pretentious or snobbish characters in popular writing was to give them French affectations; this is used to memorable effect in Herod’s outbursts of ‘beausires’ in the York mystery plays, for instance.69 Meanwhile, the characterisation of French as a foreign tongue appears very early; at the beginning of the thirteenth century, Gerald of Wales wrote of the ‘Gallicum 65

Speculum Vitae, ed. by Ralph Hanna, Speculum Vitae: A Reading Edition, using materials assembled by Venetia Somerset, EETS O.S. 331, 332 (Oxford: OUP, 2008), lines 71–4, 79–80. All references are to this edition. 66 Ibid., lines 239–40. 67 Of Arthour and of Merlin, ed. by O. D. Macrae-Gibson, 2 vols, EETS O.S. 268, 279 (London: OUP, 1973–9), lines 23–4. All references are to this edition. 68 Mannyng, Chronicle. Mannyng, The Chronicle: Robert Mannyng of Brune, ed. by Idele Sullens (Binghampton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts and Studies, Binghampton University, 1996), lines 71–128. For further discussion of this passage, see Joyce Coleman, ‘Handling Pilgrims: Robert Mannyng and the Gilbertine Cult’, Philological Quarterly 81 (2002), pp. 311–26. It is also revisited in Chapter 8 in comparison with the prologues of Jacob van Maerlant and the Boek van Sidrac. 69 ‘The Slaughter of the Innocents’, ed. by Richard Beadle and Pamela M. King, York Mystery Plays: A Selection in Modern Spelling (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 1984), p. 88, line 1.

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elegans’ which could be learned by Englishmen in continental France.70 Nearly a hundred years later, the fiercely nationalistic Cursor Mundi also characterises French as belonging wholly to France, despite the existence of ‘Inglis, frankys, and latine’ books in England, an association which suits the links made in the poem between England, Englishness and the English language: Selden was for ani chance Praised Inglis tong in france; Giue we ilkan þare langage, Me think we do þam non outrage.71 If the Cursor Mundi’s desire to leave French to the French sounds like nervous defiance within a literary environment where, according to the poet, ‘Frankis rimes’ are read ‘Communlik in ilka sted’, texts written in the later fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when French had receded as a genuinely threatening alternative literary vernacular, adopt a calmer, less jingoistic approach. Thomas Usk’s Testament of Love (c. 1384–87) takes a tripartite view of the languages of England in a similar manner to its near-contemporary the Speculum Vitae; here, however, Latin is associated with a profession, and French with a country (English is still characterised as a universal ‘dames tonge’). Usk remarks that ‘clerkes endyten in Latyn, for they have the propertie of science’, but declares that French is spoken not by courtiers, but by Frenchmen: ‘Frenchmen in their French also endyten their queynt termes, for it is kyndely to their mouthes’.72 This attitude is echoed in other later texts: in the prologue to King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–50), for instance, the narrator reports that he ‘sate and lokyd on a romance, | Was made in þe lond of France’; in this case, the association between French and France is particularly forced, as the original text, Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour, was written in England.73 This lessening of linguistic anxiety, with the two languages seen as safely separated by the English Channel, meant that later writers were also readier to acknowledge the beauty of French. Chaucer’s Envoy to his Complaint of Venus praises the ‘curiosite | Of Graunson, flour of hem that make

70

Gerald of Wales, Speculum Duorum, ed. by Yves Lefèvre and R. B. C. Huygens, trans. by Brian Dawson, Speculum Duorum, or A Mirror of Two Men (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1974), pp. 56. All references are to this edition. Gerald will be discussed in further detail in Chapter 5. 71 Cursor Mundi, ed. by Richard Morris, Cursor Mundi (The Cursor o the World): A Northumbrian Poem of the XIVth Century in Four Versions, EETS O.S. 57, 59, 62, 66, 68, 99, 101 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1874–93), Cotton version, lines 245–8. All references are to this edition. 72 Thomas Usk, The Testament of Love, ed. by R. A. Shoaf (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 1998), p. 49. All references are to this edition. 73 King and Four Daughters, ed. by K. Sajavaara, The Middle English Translations of Robert Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour, Mémoires de la Société Néophilologique de Helsinki 32 (Helsinki: Société Néophilologique, 1967), lines 9–10. All references are to this edition. For further discussion of this text’s characterisation of French see Chapter 3.

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in Fraunce’,74 for example, whereas Caxton speaks approvingly of ‘the fayr langage of Frenshe’ in his prologue to The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye.75 The characterisation of French by these anglophone writers as, alternately, courtly or foreign and ‘strange’, with English its universal, ‘symple’, ‘dames tonge’ counterpart, should not necessarily be taken at face value. In the trilingual society of post-Conquest England, where French and English were frequently used alongside each other rather than separated into discrete and oppositional categories, the two languages are often pushed into exaggerated opposition by contemporary observers. Ardis Butterfield’s insightful recent study on French–English relations in the later Middle Ages, The Familiar Enemy: Chaucer, Language and Nation in the Hundred Years War, characterises French as ‘a sibling language with which [English] was in uneasy competition’, and suggests that, throughout the period, English defined itself in relation to French: ‘the evidence points overwhelmingly to a linguistic situation in which English’s rise as a vernacular can be understood only by recognising how deeply it was pressured, enveloped, and stimulated by the concurrent changes in the status of French right through the medieval period.’76 A critical aspect of this uneasy sibling relationship is the extent to which Middle English built itself out of French loanwords during the post-Conquest period – and, for our purposes, the way in which this is discussed in contemporary descriptions of French > English translation. As Cannon notes in The Making of Chaucer’s English, ‘after the Norman Conquest, English writing [...] ma[d]e itself out of Latin and French in order to compete with these dominant literary languages in their own terms’.77 More precisely, the evidence suggests that Middle English writing was making itself more out of French than Latin. Whilst the highest proportion of words in modern English derived from other languages are taken from both French and Latin in roughly equal numbers,78 between 1150 and 1400 the numbers of loanwords entering Middle English from French vastly outstripped Latin borrowings. Numbers of French loanwords rose steadily throughout this period; of the OED data analysed by Durkin, the years between 1300 and 1350 show the highest proportion of French words entering the language, with 39% of all new words first recorded during that period being taken from French.79 74

Complaint of Venus, lines 81–2. Caxton, The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye prologue. The Prologues and Epilogues of William Caxton, ed. by Crotch, pp. 2–8. 76 Butterfield, Familiar Enemy, pp. 353, 319. 77 Cannon, The Making of Chaucer’s English, p. 70. 78 Manfred Scheler, Der englische Wortschatz (Berlin: Erich Schmidt, 1977), p.  72, presents a table showing proportions of words of different origins in modern English drawn from the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary; 28.37% are recorded as originating in French, 28.29% from Latin, with 22.2% considered to be of native origin. For further discussion of this and other available data from English dictionaries, see Durkin, Borrowed Words, Ch. 2, esp. pp. 22–32. 79 Durkin, Borrowed Words, p.  35, Fig. 2.6. Durkin’s table shows that the proportion of new words derived solely from French and solely from Latin during the Middle English period are as follows: 1150–99: 14% (French), 9% (Latin); 1200–49: 23% (French), 1.5% (Latin); 1250–99: 27% (French), 1.5% (Latin); 1300–49: 39% (French), 1.5% (Latin); 1350–99: 22% (French), 12.5% 75

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As with the Latin > French prologues discussed in Chapter 1, in several Middle English translators’ prologues we can see anxieties about the paucity of English vocabulary in relation to French played out on the page, as translators negotiated the task of creating English versions of French texts with what was – or what was presented as being – a lexically straitened language. Frequently coupled with this, however, were the desires to present English as having sufficient resources to translate these texts (and how, or whether, to acknowledge that these resources were sometimes only sufficient due to borrowing material from the source itself), and also to characterise the new translations as being satisfactorily English, written in the ‘dames tonge’ rather than in ‘strange Inglis’. As with the Latin > French examples, the earlier the English prologue, the more genuine these expressions of anxiety would seem to be.80 Whilst the picture drawn in Chaucer’s Complaint of Venus of a scrawnily inadequate English language in its laments that ‘rym in Englissh hath such skarsete’ may largely be regarded as a self-dramatising rhetorical trope,81 complaints of this nature made at an earlier date should perhaps be taken more seriously. Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne, a translation of the Anglo-Norman penitential manual Manuel des Pechiez which he began in 1303, includes a strikingly similar apologia: Noþeles, so weyl haue y nat seyd, But þat to my sawe, blame may be leyd. For foule englyssh & feble ryme, Seyd out of resun many tyme82 Apologies for inferior writing skills are, of course, a conventional part of the medieval modesty topos, and here it is also unclear whether Mannyng is castigating the English language or his own imperfect command of it (‘my sawe’). However, it is possible that Mannyng, crafting his translation at a time when written English was genuinely more scarce in its resources, may well have felt himself to be more justified making such remarks. Generally speaking, the solutions to a real or perceived ‘skarsete’ of a language are either to craft new words out of existing vocabulary or to supplement it by lifting words from other languages. As can be seen with the discussion of Ælfric, with which I opened this chapter, the principal technique described in the Preface to Genesis is the former one, with Ælfric relating ways in which he found English equivalences or created calques. However, in French > English translation, created in a linguistic environment where French vocabulary was being brought over into the English language at a far higher rate than Latin, it is common (Latin). During the fifteenth century, French and Latin loanwords appear to enter English in roughly the same numbers; by the beginning of the sixteenth century, Latin borrowings entered at a far higher rate (22.5% compared with 8.5% French), a trend that has not been reversed to date. 80 The transformation of genuine expressions of anxiety into formalised topoi will be discussed at greater length in Chapter 3. 81 Complaint of Venus, lines 79–82; see also Chapter 1. 82 Mannyng, Handlyng Synne, lines 8627–30.

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to find translators ‘translating’ a French word for which they found no ready English equivalent by bringing the word over into their translation, thereby making it part of the English language. This second technique is rarely described explicitly by Middle English translators. However, we possess remarkable accounts of both these approaches in Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne (begun 1303). Mannyng was an exceptionally translation-conscious writer, and his prologues to both Handlyng Synne and his later Chronicle offer invaluable insights into his understanding of the translation process. In the opening lines of Handlyng Synne, Mannyng explains how he translated the title of the French Manuel des Pechiez in a manner which recalls Ælfric’s account of translating the word ‘Genesis’: Yn frenshe þer a clerk hyt sees, He clepyþ it manuel de pecchees. Manuel ys handlyng wyþ honde, Pecchees ys synne to vndyrstonde. Þese twey wrdys þat beyn twynne, Do þem to gedyr ys handlyng synne.83 Perhaps unsurprisingly, given their ready familiarity, the Anglo-Saxon-derived English equivalents ‘handlyng wyþ honde’ and ‘synne’ are offered for ‘manuel’ and ‘pechees’ respectively, rather than any attempt being made to bring the French words across into English.84 Mannyng then demonstrates how he combined these common English words (‘Do þem to gedyr ys handlyng synne’) to illustrate their fittingness as a translation of ‘manuel de pecchees’. As with the earlier ‘gecyndboc’, an English calque is offered in place of a borrowing from the source language; French is here treated as a separate tongue in the same way in which the foreign nature of Latin had been negotiated by Ælfric some 300 years earlier. However, as Handlyng Synne continues, Mannyng also demonstrates how he translated sections of his source text by adopting the second approach, building French vocabulary from the Manuel into his new English poem. Mannyng’s text provides a remarkable series of 22 dictionary-style definitions of unfamiliar words, of which 17 are described by the Middle English Dictionary (MED) as having entered 83

Handlyng Synne. Mannyng, Roberd of Brunne’s Handlyng Synne (written A. D. 1303): With the French Treatise on Which it is Founded, Le Manuel des Pechiez, by William of Wadington..., ed. by F. J. Furnivall (London: J. B. Nichols and Sons, for the Roxburghe Club, 1862), lines 77–86. For further discussion of Mannyng’s translation methods in Handlyng Synne, see Elizabeth Dearnley, ‘“On Englyssh Tunge Out of Frankys”: Translation and “Tourning” in Robert Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne’, Marginalia 4 (2006) available online at [accessed 24 November 2015]. 84 MED, s.vv. ‘honde’ (n.), ‘sinne’ (n.). The first record of ‘manuel’ as an English noun is not until 1432, and even then it is used specifically in reference to a service book for use by a priest. ‘Manual’ as an adjective in the ‘manual labour’ sense, meanwhile, first appears in Hoccleve’s Male Regle (1406). MED, s.vv. ‘manuel(e’ (n.), ‘manual’ (adj.). ‘Pechiez’ has never entered English directly, although the Latin roots of this can be seen, for instance, in ‘peccadillo’, literally ‘small sin’, which came into the language via Spanish in the late sixteenth century. OED, s.v. ‘peccadillo’ (n.).

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the language either wholly or partially from French.85 In these instances, rather than create calques, Mannyng lifts the French term directly and reframes it within an English sentence, declaring that by this process the French word is now English. His definition of ‘sacrylege’ is the most in-depth explanation provided: Þat aȝens here fraunchyse falles, Sacrylege, men hyt calles. Sacrylege – frenshe hyt ys – Menyng of mysdede or mys: Mysdede to holynes, Sacrylege on englyssh ys.86 Using the French word which appears in the equivalent section of the Manuel des Pechiez (lines 6669–74), Mannyng maps out the cognitive steps of the appropriation process by which a word is accepted from one language into another. First, the concept for which a new word is needed is outlined: ‘Þat aȝens here fraunchyse falles’. Next a new, unfamiliar word is supplied, which, Mannyng explains, certain ‘men’ use. The following line, with its repeated syntactical structure – ‘Sacrylege, [noun] hyt [verb]’ – narrows and clarifies the passage’s focus, revealing the ‘men’ to be, more precisely, French-speaking, and the new word, ‘sacrylege’, to be French. After this, an English definition is given – ‘Menyng of mysdede or mys: | Mysdede to holynes’ – before, finally, the new word is slotted into the English language. The echoing syntax of lines 8599 (‘Sacrylege, frenshe hyt is’) and 8602 (‘Sacrylege on englyssh ys’) suggest that by the end of the passage the word belongs equally to both languages – Mannyng has successfully ‘tourned’ it into English by means of taking it from French. Where Ælfric’s Preface to Genesis shows us a literary Old English which must find ‘his agene wisan’ (its own manner) of expressing Latin, Mannyng presents a 85

Mannyng provides definitions for 22 words or phrases in Handlyng Synne (‘mattok’ (lines 939–42), ‘requiem’ (l. 2625), ‘lux perpetua‘ (l. 2626), ‘fals sweryng‘ (lines 2735–6), ‘fallace‘ (lines 2779–80), ‘iawnes‘ (lines 3977–80), ‘accyde‘ (lines 4327–8), ‘merce‘ (lines 4369–72), ‘resurreccyun‘ (lines 4645–50), ‘symonye‘ (lines 5513–14), ‘Abrahams bosum‘ (lines 6655–60), ‘charite‘ (lines 7113– 14), sacrylege‘ (lines 8597–602); ‘bapteme‘ (lines 9501–6), ‘frysoun‘ (lines 10669–72), ‘minours‘ (lines 10739–40), ‘eleccyoun‘ (lines 10998–9), ‘termes‘ (lines 11039–42), ‘oynament‘ (lines 11239–42), ‘publykan‘ (lines 11657–8), ‘dymynucyoun‘ (lines 12421–4) and ‘cyrcumstaunces‘ (lines 12429–32)). Of these, 17 are recorded as being derived either wholly from French, or from French and Latin: MED s. vv. ‘fals‘ (adj.) (L/OF); ‘fallace‘ (n.) (OF); ‘jaunis‘ (n.) (OF); ‘accide‘ (n.) (ML/OF); ‘resurreccioun’ (n.) (OF); ‘simonie‘ (n.) (OF/L); ‘charite‘ (n.) (OF); ‘sacrilege‘ (n.) (OF); ‘bapteme‘ (n.) (OF/ML); ‘Frisoun‘ (n.) (OF/L); ‘minour‘ (n.) (OF); ‘eleccioun‘ (n.) (OF); ‘terme‘ (OF); ‘oinement‘ (n.) (OF); ‘publican‘ (n.) (OF); ‘diminucioun‘ (n.) (L/OF); ‘circumsta(u) nce‘ (n.) (OF). Fourteen of the 22 words are cited by the MED as being first recorded by Mannyng: MED s.vv. ‘sacrilege; (n.); ‘mattok‘ (n.)‘; ‘requiem‘ (n.); ‘fals sweryng‘ (Hrl 1701) (although ‘fals‘ and ‘sweryng‘ were well established individually by 1300, Mannyng appears to have been the first to link them together); ‘fallace‘ (n.); ‘jaunis‘ (n.); ‘Merce‘ (n.); ‘resurreccioun‘ (n.); ‘bapteme‘ (n.); ‘minour‘ (n.); ‘Frisoun‘ (n.); ‘termes‘ (n.); ‘oinement‘ (n.); ‘diminucioun’ (n.). Eleven of these 14 words are of whole or partial French origin. 86 Ibid., lines 8597–602.

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developing English language which has a far more porous relationship with French. In the spirit of Jerome’s remarks on the translations of Hilary the Confessor, ‘sed quasi captiuous sensus in suam linguam uictoris iure transposit’ (by right of victory he led away the sense captive into his own language), Mannyng tames the strangeness of his French-borrowed words by making them into English.87 His description of his ‘tourning’ methods both articulate and emblematise the larger act of translation which was being made throughout fourteenth-century England, from a literary culture rooted in French and Anglo-Norman to what, in the fifteenth century, is regarded as an established ‘English’ tradition.

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he increasing importance attached to naming, defining and characterising the English language in the core corpus of Middle English translators’ prologues, which will be explored in the next chapter, show still more clearly the way in which the addition of the French language into England strengthened and sharpened a sense of translation which had long been a part of English culture. From the Normans’ perspective, the existence of a strong native tradition of vernacular writing and translation in pre-Conquest England offered an alternative to writing in Latin, which, as is suggested in Chapter 1, may well have encouraged the precocity of the Anglo-Norman literary tradition, and the self-aware nature of their translators’ prologues. When Middle English translators came, in their turn, to translate the dominant Anglo-Norman literary culture into English, there was already a long and complex history of translation in England. The elements for a robust return to English never went away.

87

Epistle 57, p. 511.

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chapter 3

The Development of the French > English Translator’s Prologue

1

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he L atin, French and Germanic models explored so far indicate that a wide choice of potential options was available to Middle English translators to introduce and conceptualise their work. As was seen in the previous chapter, writers creating French > English translations rather than Latin > English ones faced a new challenge in negotiating and describing the relationship between these two vernaculars. The greater sophistication of Germanic literary theory, which found its expression in England in the highly developed prologues of Ælfred and Ælfric, was not carried forward into post-Conquest England in any obvious manner. In crafting their prologues to these works, Middle English translators appear to have been much more immediately influenced by the French prologues contained in their exemplars, and, more indirectly, by the Latin tradition which informed many of these French prologues. However, the existence of a confident native tradition of Latin > English translation prior to 1066 may have been an underlying factor in the later development of Middle English translation practice, and in the translationawareness expressed in these later prologues. As is demonstrated by the brief description of the corpus in the Introduction, the prologues and prologue-type passages I have assembled are an extremely heterogeneous group. In terms of genre, there are 2 chronicles (Laȝamon’s Brut, Robert Mannyng’s Chronicle); 7 romances (Of Arthour and of Merlin, Sir Tristem, Richard Coer de Lyon, The Seege of Troye, William of Palerne, the northern Octavian, The Sowdon of Babylon, Partenope of Blois); 3 Breton lays (Lay le Freine, Sir Orfeo, Sir Launfal); 9  works of religious instruction (The Castle of Love, Cursor Mundi, Handlyng Synne, The Lay-Folks Mass Book, The Northern Homily Cycle, The Ayenbite of Inwyt, The Myrour of Lewed Men, Speculum Vitae, King and Four Daughters), 1 medical treatise (The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing), 1 debate (La Belle Dame Sans Merci), 1 balade collection (Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii) and 1 story collection (The Legend of Good Women). Most are in verse; 2 are in prose (The Myrour of Lewed Men and The Knowing of Woman’s Kind). These prologues also range quite considerably in length, from the six-line epilogue at the end of Sir Launfal (which performs one of the functions of a prologue in its naming of ‘Thomas Chestre’ and so has been included) to the 579-line F-text prologue to Chaucer’s The Legend of Good Women. Some contain only brief statements relating to translation;

1

An earlier version of this chapter has been published as Elizabeth Dearnley, ‘From LaȜamon to Caxton: The Evolution of the Middle English Translator’s Prologue’, Anglistik 21 (2010), pp. 13–25.

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however, their inclusion is necessary for creating a wider sense of prologue practice over the period. There are a number of English prologue motifs which come in and out of play according to the type of text being written, perceived audience demands and the period. These may be provisionally named as follows: (i) the citing of a source; (ii) discussion of title translation; (iii) discussion of the English language; (iv) discussion of the French language; (v) reference to the text as a translation; (vi) problems faced by the translator; (vii) the translator’s mentioning of himself (either by name or by profession or location); (viii) reference to audience/’translation for the unlettered’; (ix) the purpose of the translation; (x) religious references (usually in the form of a concluding or opening prayer); and (xi) a description of the text’s contents.2 There is no clear pattern as to the way in which these motifs were incorporated into any kind of standard prologue model; certain motifs are more, or less, likely to be included according to the kind of text being translated. However, as a general rule, the later a text, the more motifs a prologue is likely to include, and the more technical its language is likely to be.3 Earlier prologues may be as lengthy, but they are often emotive and jingoistic rather than full of critical terminology. The less genuinely anxious writers were about using English, the more these prologue motifs formalised into topoi, becoming a dry, complacently shed snakeskin of things which had once been writhingly knotty problems. At no time during the Middle English period was a standard English prologue model, along the lines of the formal Latin prologue types described in Chapter 1, officially formulated. Indeed, no manual of Middle English poetics, as far as is known, was ever written; Middle English literary theory must, as the authors of The Idea of the Vernacular have observed, be inferred from theoretical discussion within Middle English texts themselves, principally in prologues.4 The only explicit reference to a Latin model in an English text can be found at the beginning of Osbern Bokenham’s Legendys of Hooly Wummen (c. 1444–47). This mid-fifteenth-century poem, a translation of Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend, explicitly outlines the formula for an Aristotelian prologue:

2

Some of these are not solely features of translators’ prologues. Perhaps the most universal prologue feature on the list is the concluding or opening prayer, which is found in almost all medieval prologues. This serves as a further reminder of the often blurred line between types of prologue, and of the necessity of viewing the translator’s prologue within the wider medieval prologue tradition. 3 For tables displaying a more detailed breakdown of the motifs contained in the prologues in the corpus, see Appendix 1. 4 Ruth Evans and others, ‘The Notion of Vernacular Theory’, in The Idea of the Vernacular, pp. 314–30, esp. pp.  315–16. For a discussion of the contrasting situation in the Low Countries, where Jan van Boendale’s ‘Hoe dichters dichten sullen’ (‘How writers should write’) appeared in the early fourteenth century, see Chapter 8. The title more literally translates as ‘How poets should versify’; however, as the former is the translation given by W. P. Gerritsen and others in their edition, all subsequent references to the work use this title. Gerritsen and others (trans.), ‘A Fourteenth-Century Vernacular Poetics: Jan van Boendale’s “How Writers Should Write”’, in Medieval Dutch Literature in its European Context, ed. by Erik Kooper, pp. 245–60.

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Two thyngys owyth euery clerk To aduertysen, begynnyng a werk, If he procedyn wyl ordeneelly: In wych two wurdys, as it semyth me, The foure causys comprehendyd be, Wych, as philosofyrs vs do teche, In the beginning men owe to seche Of euery book.5 There is no evidence that any of the prologues in the corpus are directly influenced by any of the others; one cannot make a case for any kind of ‘school’ of English prologue composition. The set of translator’s prologue motifs assembled here is based on my own study of the contents of the prologue corpus rather than on any contemporary medieval list of headings, and so is, to an extent, an arbitrary and artificial modern construct. However, the identification of prologue motifs in this way enables them to be traced more clearly as the Middle English prologue changes over time, and so is a useful way of approaching and charting such a diverse collection of material. The prologues will be discussed in roughly chronological order. One should be wary of imposing an overly deterministic narrative of translation on the corpus of prologues; Cannon’s words about continuity discussed in the previous chapter should be kept in mind. However, the available evidence suggests a gradual progression, first towards the recognition of English as a named language and its increasing associations with the English nation and people, followed by a growing readiness of English writers to engage with the process of linguistic translation. A sense of the development of the prologue model, and shifting attitudes towards translation, becomes still more apparent when multiple translations of the same text are examined. We are fortunate in possessing four independent translations of Robert Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour: The Castle of Love (c. 1300), Foure Doghters (c. 1350–1400), The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400) and King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–50), all but one of which (Foure Doghters) contain prologues discussing language transmission and translation in some detail. This provides a unique opportunity to study the development of the French > English translator’s prologue, where changing responses towards translating one particular text can be charted. Rather than describe each prologue in its entirety, which would quickly become repetitive, I will examine the generation and development of the translator’s prologue as a whole, using examples from the corpus by way of illustration. The sheer amount of material in the corpus means that it would be impossible to discuss every feature of every prologue. However, I will begin with a somewhat more detailed consideration of the prologue to Laȝamon’s Brut, as the first known response to the French language by an English-language text. Laȝamon’s prologue is transitional 5

Osbern Bokenham, Legendys of Hooly Wummen, ed. by Mary S. Serjeantson, EETS O.S. 206 (London: OUP,1938), lines 1–9.

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in many ways, on the cusp of what may be considered a translator’s prologue and indeed on the cusp of what may be considered a new English literary tradition.

L aȝamon’s Brut and the Beginnings of the French > English Translator’s Prologue

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he Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, an admirer of Old English literature, has called Laȝamon ‘the last Saxon poet’.6 Whilst this mischievous claim has not been wholeheartedly embraced by Laȝamon scholars, the poet’s debts to both French and older English traditions – his heavy and acknowledged reliance on a French source, juxtaposed against the pains he takes to use pre-Conquest vocabulary – have rendered problematic the placing of the Brut into any tradition. Daniel Donoghue has proposed that Laȝamon’s approach ‘can be seen as a wider cultural ambivalence in twelfth – and thirteenth-century England’.7 Whilst Donoghue’s view of Laȝamon as a nostalgic poet has been questioned in recent years, the Janus-like nature of the first post-Conquest French > English translator whose works survive in extenso, his discussion of compilation and translation methods, his presentation of the translator figure as auctor and craftsman, and his use of various other motifs that subsequently became established features make the Brut prologue a pivotal one in the evolving Middle English tradition. Even assuming 1189 as the earliest composition date, the Brut is slightly pre-dated by the Ormulum, and so cannot claim to contain the first Middle English translator’s prologue, although it is the first to discuss French > English translation. However, Laȝamon’s achievement is in many ways more significant than that of Orm. His text is more ambitious in its scope, being nothing less than an attempt to tell the entire story of England and the English, using a series of ‘æðela boc’ (‘excellent books’ or ‘noble books’) as exemplars. As with Ælfred’s late ninth-century preface to the Cura Pastoralis, it would seem that the Brut prologue is breaking new ground in English writing; there is no known English-language model, although one cannot discount the possibility that Laȝamon was influenced by prologues in English texts which have not survived. As has already been noted at the beginning of this study, Laȝamon’s prologue does not actually describe the Brut as a translation. He uses the verb ‘þrumen’ to describe the way in which the sources have been brought together: ‘þa þre boc þrumde to are’. This word, whose sole recorded use as a verb is in this text, is defined by the Middle English Dictionary (MED) as ‘[t]o compress (multiple books into one), condense’, and is related to the noun ‘thrum’, meaning a throng or host, in turn derived from the Old English ‘þrymm’.8 Laȝamon is quite clearly indicating that the creation of his new work involved a condensing and compression in the sense of the Latin ‘condenso’ 6

Jorge Luis Borges, ‘The Innocence of Layamon’, in Other Inquisitions, 1937–1952, trans. by Ruth L. C. Simms (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1964), p. 162. 7 Daniel Donoghue, ‘LaȜamon’s Ambivalence’, Speculum 65 (1990), pp. 538–41. 8 MED, s.vv. ‘thrumen’, ‘thrum’ (n. 1); OED, s.v. ‘thrum’ (v. 1).

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(literally ‘I make more dense by compression’) rather than suggesting that translation was taking place, and his term is almost certainly an English vernacular calque of that Latin verb. His naming of the languages of the exemplars which he took ‘to bisne’ (as a model) suggests a heightened awareness of the linguistic barriers between sources and a new book; however, while ‘þa Englisca boc’ could refer to a book produced in England rather than a book composed in English, the second source ‘on Latin’ and ‘þe þridde [...] þa makede a Frenchis clerc | Wace’ undoubtedly refer to texts in these languages; there is no reference to the English language itself. Laȝamon’s prologue therefore only verges on what may be considered a translator’s prologue; it undoubtedly describes an act of translation, but the poet’s description of the Brut as a ‘þrum[ing]’ of three source texts into one new work suggests that he did not deem the work of translation to be as important as the task of redaction; for the former, the implication of a French source in the allusion to Wace as a ‘French cleric’ was deemed sufficient. However, it is important to include this prologue here; the blurring of boundaries between translation and compilation, familiar from Bonaventure’s preface to his Sententiarum but in marked contrast to some of the later texts in the corpus which are very clear about their identity as translations, suggests a gradual dawning of translation-awareness and awareness of English which strengthened in tandem with its rising prestige as a literary language. The most significant feature of the Brut prologue in relation to translation is Laȝamon’s drawing of the audience’s attention to his more immediate sources: Laȝamon gon liðen. wide ȝond þas leode. & bi-won þa æðela boc. þa he to bisne nom. He nom þa Englisca boc. þa makede Seint Beda. An-oþer he nom on Latin. þa makede Seinte Albin. & þe feire Austin. þe fulluht broute hider in. Boc he nom þridde. leide þer amidden. þa makede a Frenchis clerc. Wace was ihoten. þe wel couþe writen. & he hoe ȝef þare æðelen Ælienor þe wes Henries quene. þes heȝes kinges. [Laȝamon travelled far and wide throughout this land, and obtained the excellent books which he took as a model. He chose the English book which St Bede composed. He chose another in Latin composed by St Albin and the blessed Austin who introduced baptism here. He chose a third book and placed it with the others, a book which a French cleric called Wace, who could write well, had composed; and he had presented it to the noble Eleanor who was the great King Henry’s queen.] 9 9

Brut, Caligula version, lines 14–23; trans. Barron and Weinberg, p. 3. Lazamon, LaȜamon: Brut or Hystoria Brutonum: Edition and Translation with Textual Notes and Commentary, ed. and trans. by W. R. J. Barron and S. C. Weinberg (London: Longman, 1995).

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Having identified these three books – ‘þa Englisca boc’, possibly the Old English version of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, a Latin source which has not been satisfactorily identified and the ‘Frenchis clerc’ Wace’s Brut – Laȝamon then describes how he used them to create a single new work: Laȝamon leide þeos boc. & þa leaf wende. he heom leofliche bi-heold. liþe him beo Drihten. Feþeren he nom mid fingren. & fiede on boc-felle & þa soþere word sette to-gadere. & þa þre boc þrumde to are. [Laȝamon opened these books and turned the pages; he looked upon them with pleasure – God be gracious to him! He took a quill pen in his hand and wrote on parchment, and, putting together the truthful words, combined the three books into one.] 10 Laȝamon makes it clear that he has used French and Latin sources, and possibly English ones as well, although there is no detailed breakdown of the source texts used for particular sections, as Robert Mannyng provides, for instance, in his midfourteenth-century Chronicle.11 Although there are no known English prologue models which Laȝamon could have used, it is intriguing to consider the extent to which Old English material might have been available to him, particularly as he uses a native verse form rather than the octosyllabic couplets of Wace.12 The substantial book collection of Worcester Cathedral Priory was only ten miles away from where he ‘wonede at Ernleȝe’ (Areley Kings).13 In addition to being the mother church of Areley (which would presumably have meant that Laȝamon had contacts there), Worcester is well known for the interest of its monks in Old English books; the records of early-twelfth-century holdings at Worcester indicate a strong interest in both Old English and world history, and in Old English Lives.14 Whilst we cannot know to what extent Laȝamon made use of this resource, if at all, it seems very likely that a literary centre such as Worcester, with a strong interest both in the Anglo-Saxon past and in vernacular writing, would have attracted him. He could have gone there to consult the books; it is also 10

Ibid., lines 24–28; trans. Barron and Weinberg, p. 3. For a discussion of the ebb and flow of opinion surrounding the identity of LaȜamon’s sources, see Françoise Le Saux, Layamon’s Brut: The Poem and its Sources (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1989), esp. Ch. 2. 12 Some useful metrical comparisons between the Brut, the Proverbs of Alfred and other contemporary texts are made in Donka Minkova, ‘The Credibility of Pseudo-Alfred: Prosodic Insights into PostConquest Mongrel Meter’, Modern Philology 94 (1997), pp. 427–54. 13 Brut, Cotton version, line 3. 14 For further detail see Carol Weinberg, ‘“By a noble church on the bank of the Severn”: A Regional View of Layamon’s Brut’, Leeds Studies in English n.s. 26 (1995), pp. 49–62. For the twelfth-century listings, see E. A. Mcintyre, ‘Early-Twelfth-Century Worcester Cathedral Priory, with Special Reference to the Manuscripts Written There’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Oxford, 1979). 11

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possible, perhaps, that he would have been allowed to borrow books from the collection; although monastic books were primarily lent out to brethren in residence, there are cases of books being lent out to suitable borrowers outside the community.15 Most intriguingly of all, the Worcester library was home to the famous Bodley copy of the Cura Pastoralis which Ælfred sent to Bishop Wærferth of Worcester and which remained there until the seventeenth century.16 It is tempting to speculate that Laȝamon might even have consulted this, although there is no suggestion of any Ælfredian influence in the Brut prologue, which makes no mention of the issues of Hieronymian translation theory and the capabilities of English which so concerned the Wessex king. Whilst all this must remain speculation, it is possible that access to older English texts might have provided Laȝamon with added confidence in his writing of an English-language chronicle for which there is no precedent. Latin and French texts seem more likely sources of prologue inspiration, however. Although it is not cited as a source, the epilogue to Geffrei Gaimar’s Estoire des Engleis is remarkably similar to that of the Brut, and it is possible that Laȝamon was influenced by this earlier chronicle. As was seen in Chapter 1, Gaimar also goes into considerable detail about his English, French and Latin sources, and the ways in which this material came into his possession. The wording in both is strikingly similar, with Laȝamon’s detailed descriptions of the three ‘æðela boc’ echoing Gaimar’s ‘liveres engleis e par gramaire | e en romanz e en latin’: the ‘livere Walter Espac’, ‘le bon livere de Oxeford | ki fust Walter l’arcediaen’ and ‘l’estorie de Wincestre’.17 There is also a suggestive parallel between Laȝamon’s journeying ‘wide ȝond þas leode’ to find his sources and Gaimar’s description of his time-consuming travels in search of his exemplars (‘Gaimar i mist marz e averil | e tuz les dousz mais [...] | Il purchaça maint esamplaire’).18 Although there can be no proof that Laȝamon used Gaimar’s epilogue as a direct model, it is not inconceivable that the English poet might have come across a copy of this other Anglo-Norman history among his bookhunting travels.19 Of Laȝamon’s named French source, Wace, there is little sign of prologue influence; Wace’s prologue is a mere eight lines long, and simply provides the author’s name and an assurance that the text which follows will be truthful.20 15

For a discussion of policies relating to the lending of books in religious houses, see Lesley Smith, ‘Lending Books: The Growth of a Medieval Question from Langton to Bonaventure’, in Intellectual Life in the Middle Ages: Essays Presented to Margaret Gibson, ed. by Lesley Smith and Benedicta Ward (London: Hambleton Press, 1992), pp. 65–79, esp. pp. 66–7. 16 Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Hatton 20. For description, see N. R. Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon, reissue of 1957 edn with supplement (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), pp. 384–6. 17 Geffrei Gaimar, Estoire des Engleis, ed. and trans. by Ian Short (Oxford: OUP, 2009), lines 6441–2, 6448, 6464–5, 6467. 18 Ibid., lines 6438–9. 19 All four of the extant manuscripts of Gaimar’s text also contain a copy of Wace’s Brut, suggesting that the type of book sought out by LaȜamon may well have contained this work too. For descriptions of these manuscripts, see Short, Estoire des Engleis, pp. xvi–xxii. 20 ‘Ki vult oïr e vult saveir | De rei en rei e d’eir en eir | Ki cil furent e dunt il vindrent | Ki Engleterre primes tindrent, | Quels reis i ad en ordre eü, | E qui anceis e ki puis fu, | Maistre Wace l’ad translaté,

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Laȝamon’s description of his search for books could also be a topos adopted from earlier Latin texts; there was a well-established rhetorical tradition whereby the historian explained how he embarked upon lengthy journeys to obtain his source material. Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, which Laȝamon does appear to name as a source, relates how the priest Nothelm travelled as far as Rome to search the archives of the Holy See for useful material, and meticulously describes how other sources made their way to him, either sent in writing or communicated orally from various areas of the British Isles.21 Twelfth-century writers such as William of Malmesbury also described their travels in search of books; William, in his Gesta Pontificum Anglorum, relates that ‘hic et alibi traxi stilum per latebrosissimas historias’ (I have both here and elsewhere trawled through the obscurest histories).22 Laȝamon’s presentation of his book as a compilation rather than a translation, and his lack of any reference to the English language, so prominent a feature of later English translators’ prologues, may, in fact, suggest that he regarded the actual change of language as relatively unimportant. Whilst telling the story of the English is presented as the central part of Laȝamon’s task, he does not attempt any clear definition of the ‘Engle’, other than that they are ‘æðelen’, noble: Hit com him on mode. & on his mern þonke, þet he wolde of Engle þa æðelen tellen. wat heo ihoten. & wonene heo comen. þa Englene londe. ærest ahten. [It came into his mind, an excellent thought of his, that he would relate the noble origins of the English, what they were called and whence they came who first possessed the land of England.]23 Indeed it is his use of the word ‘æðelen’ which is most prominent in his characterisation of ‘Englene londe’, the story, himself and, finally, his audience. The reader is informed that Areley is ‘æðelen are chirechen’, that the English are ‘æðelæn’ and that his sources are taken from ‘æðela boc’; it is used for a fourth time in describing Wace’s patron, ‘þare æðelen Ælinor’, and, finally, in his characterisation of his audience, when he appeals to ‘alcne (every) æðele mon [...] þet þeos boc rede’.24 In choosing such a word to unite several concepts, he elevates conceptually his Areley | Ki en conte la verité’ [Whoever wishes to hear and to know about the successive kings and their heirs who once upon a time were the rulers of England – who they were, whence they came, what was their sequence, who came earlier and who later – Master Wace has translated it and tells it truthfully]. Wace, Brut, ed. and trans. by Judith Weiss, Wace’s Roman de Brut: A History of the British (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 1999), lines 1–8. 21 Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, ed. by Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Myers as Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), pp. 2–7. 22 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontificum Anglorum = The History of the English Bishops, ed. and trans. by Michael Winterbottom, with Rodney M. Thomson, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007), vol. 1, pp. 2–3. 23 Brut, Caligula version, lines 6–9; trans. Barron and Weinberg, p. 3. 24 Ibid., lines 3, 7, 15, 22, 29–31.

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home, himself as poet, his audience and the Brut itself; they are all ‘noble’ in the sense of having the whole illustrious ancestry of ‘þa æðelæn [...] of Engle’ behind them, with further associations of nobility in the reference to Eleanor of Aquitaine, who provides a link back, through Wace, to the poem’s ‘æðel’ origins. His choice of a native English word, meanwhile, may have been motivated by a desire to add a more Anglo-Saxon flavour to a text which makes considerable use of Old English vocabulary and verse form.25 Laȝamon’s flexible conception of who the English might be is also brought out in his description of his audience as ‘alcne æðele mon’; the cumulative associations being built up around ‘æðel’ make this description of the audience both wide-ranging (encompassing anyone who might be described, or who might describe themselves, as ‘æðel’, regardless of language or Anglo-Saxon/Norman identity) and one which brings the reader back to the idea of the ‘Engle’. Describing his subject matter as ‘Engle þa aðelen’, therefore, enables Laȝamon to unite the strands of a number of languages and historiographical traditions into a new English text, with himself well placed as both inheritor and new auctor of ‘wat heo ihoten weoren & wonene heo comen’. This lack of emphasis on the linguistic identity of the ‘Engle’ may explain the lack of any especial prominence given to the ‘Frenchis clerc’ Wace in the list of exemplars, who is generally acknowledged by scholars as Laȝamon’s primary source. There does not seem any reason to think that Laȝamon wished to minimise the role of French in creating the English Brut; to over-emphasise his desire to create a new English identity through use of the English language would be to impose an anachronistic linguistic patriotism onto the passage, of a kind which would not be expressed in literary texts until the late thirteenth century.26 It would appear more likely that Laȝamon’s references to his sources reflect a greater ease with literary multilingualism than was the case for the later French > English translators in this study. This would seem to have been true of the audience of the Brut for whom we have evidence; the Cotton Caligula manuscript contains a number of texts in both French and English, suggesting that its audience welcomed texts in both languages.27 This is also suggested by his Anglo-Norman near-contemporaries, Gaimar and the Waldef poet; although both use the word ‘translater’, Gaimar’s epilogue places the same emphasis on compilation rather than translation, and Waldef minimises the importance of language transfer. Later English translations were more likely to have 25

‘Æðelen’ may well have sounded archaic even in LaȜamon’s day; the Otho reviser removes ‘He wonede at ErnleȜe. at æðelen are chirechen’ in favour of the reference to ‘He wonede at Ernleie wid þan gode cniþte’, and throughout the poem routinely replaces ‘aðel’ with ‘god’, ‘bolde’, ‘selest’, etc. MED, s.v. ‘athel’ (adj.). 26 It is possible, however, that the Otho reviser (responsible for the version of the text in London, British Library, MS Cotton Otho C. XIII) wished to downplay the role of French in creating the Brut, as it removes references to Wace entirely. For further discussion of the Caligula and Otho versions, see Chapter 7. 27 See Neil Cartlidge, ‘The Composition and Social Context of Oxford, Jesus College, MS 29 (II) and London, British Library, MS Cotton Caligula A. IX’, Medium Ævum 66 (1997), pp. 50–69.

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been made for genuinely monolingual audiences; their greater insistence on being translations may be related to this.28 Although Laȝamon’s prologue may mark a new beginning in terms of its use of the English language, the above discussion suggests that it may be most usefully read as a continuation of the Anglo-Norman historiographical and chronicle prologue tradition which already existed in England, and also of earlier Latin traditions, such as Bede. It serves as a useful reminder that Middle English translation theory, as expressed in prologues, cannot be considered without reference to earlier (and, in the case of Waldef, contemporary) practices in Anglo-Norman. However, although Laȝamon’s Brut itself does not seem to have been particularly influential, many other features of its prologue (the prominence given to the author–translator persona of the poet; the description of the source texts used and the language, or languages, in which they were written; the consideration of the audience of the new text; the emphasis on the truthfulness of the translation; and the closing prayer) would, over the next 300 years, become increasingly standard features of Middle English translators’ prologues.

A Growing Translation-Consciousness: Developments to c. 1300

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aȝamon’s presentation of the Brut as a compilation rather than a translation suggests that French > English translators may have taken some time to develop a rhetoric of French > English translation which formally acknowledged that translation, considered as a negotiation between the lexical and syntactic resources of two different languages, was taking place. This hypothesis is strengthened if one examines other prologues of early date in the corpus. The Auchinleck Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300), whose main source is a version of the prose Merlin,29 also makes no mention of translation, although it places a good deal of emphasis on the fact that it is written in English; neither does another early prologue, The Castle of Love (c. 1300), the first English translation of Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour, which remarks only that ‘on English ichul mi resun schowen’.30 Sir Tristem (c. 1275–1300) is also silent on the subject, although in this case its silence may be due to it being a romance prologue positioning itself within the oral tradition, where linguistic translation is often treated more loosely (discussed below). The earliest prologue to use a verb for ‘translate’ – in this case, ‘translaten’ itself – is the Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) which declares that ‘þis ilk bok it es translate | In to Inglis

28

See Chapter 7 for a consideration of the changing linguistic abilities of audiences. See Of Arthour and of Merlin, ed. by O. D. Macrae-Gibson, EETS O.S. 268, 279, 2 vols (London: OUP, 1973–9), vol. 2, p. 35. 30 The Castle of Love, ed. by K. Sajavaara, The Middle English Translations of Robert Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour, Mémoires de la Société Néophilologique de Helsinki 32 (Helsinki: Société Néophilologique, 1967), line 35. All references are to this edition. 29

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tong to rede’, using what is the earliest recorded instance of ‘translaten’ in English.31 As the fourteenth century progresses, texts become increasingly likely to describe themselves as translations; twelve out of fifteen of the post-1300 prologues contain at least one verb for ‘translate’.32 Although the small number of pre-1300 French > English prologues in the corpus means that it would be unwise to draw any firm conclusions from this observation, the apparent time lag between the practice of French > English translation and its recognition in prologues would seem to suggest that a fuller awareness of English and its capabilities had to be developed before translation itself could be discussed. One way in which a growing awareness of English as a literary language and medium for translation can be charted is in the increasing importance attached to having a name for the language, and to the creation of an English identity through a shared use of this language. The first prologue in the corpus which declares itself to be written in English is Of Arthour and of Merlin, where the author makes the following remarks on the French language and his reasons for writing in English: Childer þat ben to boke ysett [...] Auauntages þai hauen eueraywhare. Of Freynsch no Latin nil y tel more Ac on I[n]glisch ichil tel þerfore: Riȝt is þat I[n]glische vnderstond Þat was born in Inglond. Freynsche vse þis gentil man Ac euerich Inglische Inglische can.33 The poet goes to some lengths to explain his reasons for writing in English, impressing his audience with the points in its favour – principally that it is universally understood and thus a key part of a unified English identity. Those who are schooled in French and Latin from an early age have social advantages ‘eueraywhare’, and knowledge of French is a sure marker of a ‘gentil man’; English, however, is used throughout all levels of society. Of Arthour and of Merlin is also the earliest prologue to make an explicit link between the English language and the English people. The almost chiastic nature of line 23 – ‘Ac euerich Inglische Inglische can’ – makes this point most strikingly: its repetition of ‘Inglische’ in two different senses making language and people indistinguishable. This potentially vast audience of ‘euerich Inglische’ are thus linked together by language and nationality, where nationality seems to mean a linguistic community and to have no other obvious determinant (or none of equivalent importance save what is surely implied, namely loyalty to the monarch bearing the title rex anglicae). It does not seem to be out of the question that the text’s 31

Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, lines 232–3. MED, s.v. ‘translaten’ (v.); OED, s.v. ‘translate’ (v.). The MED does not cite the Cursor Mundi; the first reference it gives is for William of Palerne. 32 See Appendix 2. 33 Of Arthour and of Merlin, lines 9, 17–23.

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readers or listeners might know French or Latin, but the use of English is presented as a patriotic virtue, regardless of whether or not this use might be through necessity. The links between England, English and the English people are made still clearer in the stridently patriotic prologue to the Cursor Mundi: Þis ilk bok it es translate In to Inglis tong to rede For þe loue of Inglis lede, Inglis lede of Ingland, For þe commun at understand. Frankis rimes here I redd, Comunlik in ilk[a] sted, Mast es it wroght for frankis man: Quat is for him no frankis can? Of Ingland þe nacion, Es Inglis man þar in commun; Þe speche þat man wit mast may spede, Mast þar-wit to speke war nede.34 This strongly argued defence of the need for English texts for English audiences goes even further than the Of Arthour and of Merlin prologue in its alliterative linking of ‘Inglis tong’ and ‘Inglis lede of Ingland’. Its image of ‘Ingland þe nacion’ is quite remarkable in its evocation of a national identity through language. French, by contrast, is clearly conceptualised as a language of otherness, used by the separate community of ‘frankis man’; though French books are available ‘Comunlik’ in England, even people capable of reading ‘Frankis rimes’ would both need and wish to use English in order to consider themselves ‘Inglis’. This is separation by geography rather than by social class (as in Of Arthour and of Merlin’s characterisation of French speakers as ‘þis gentil man’), but the effect is very similar. The growing sense of English nationhood, expressed in prologues and elsewhere, has been chronicled extensively by Thorlac Turville-Petre, who suggests that ‘[t]he use of English was a precondition of the process of deepening and consolidating the sense of national identity by harnessing the emotional energy of the association between language and nationalism’.35 Turville-Petre’s narrative of nationalism has been questioned by a number of recent studies which view the relationship between English and the French of England in less combative terms; as Wogan-Browne has commented, ‘Such linguistic assumptions [of the ‘triumph of English’]36 are deeply embedded in modern models of medieval state-building (understood as a matter of naturalized and inevitable ‘English’ emancipation and self-definition against the French) [...] There is of course much that is valuably addressed by such older models 34

Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, lines 232–44. Thorlac Turville-Petre, England the Nation: Language, Literature and National Identity, 1290–1340 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), p. 10. 36 Cf. Basil Cottle, The Triumph of English 1350–1400 (London: Blandford Press, 1969). 35

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[...] but there are also omissions and obfuscations’.37 As one finds so often in medieval prologues, there is a gap between what is described and what actually happened; the diagrammatic, polemicist nature of the prologues simplified what was in reality a far more linguistically complex situation.38 Many prologues use translation to define themselves against the ‘other’ – in this case, French and Latin – through use of the English language.39 The ‘triumph of English’ line that so many prologues take may also relate not so much to the rise of English as the decline of Anglo-Norman, with English necessarily extending to fill the space. For all its readiness to justify its use of English, and its identification as a translation, there is no technical discussion of translation methodology in the Cursor Mundi prologue. Indeed, despite its not inconsiderable length (270 lines), it contains no references to the poem’s immediate sources. The poet declares that he will ‘draw’ on episodes he has ‘redde on raw’ (i.e. in a row),40 without further specifying the origins of these; however, the work is ultimately presented as inspired by Christ (‘Wit cristes help i sal ouer-rin, | And tell sum gestes principale’41) thus effectively bypassing all intermediaries, with the Trinity described as the ‘stedfast grund’ of the work.42 In reality, the Cursor Mundi has an exceptionally wide variety of source texts, both French and Latin.43 Given that a number of Bible paraphrases, and indeed the Vulgate itself, were used in the construction of the English poem, the poet’s decision to cite God as foundation and ultimate auctor would seem logical. It would also be conventional; medieval writers often cited their ultimate source rather than any intermediary commentaries or translations which might have been used. With its numerous sources, the Cursor Mundi is, like Laȝamon’s Brut, a compilation rather than a straightforward translation; a listing of such a large number of sources in a prologue might be considered impractical. However, its vagueness concerning exactly what material was ‘translate | In to Inglis tong to rede’ could also, perhaps, suggest that a broader transfer of knowledge is being indicated rather than 37

Wogan-Browe, ‘What’s in a Name’, p. 2. See Chapter 7 for further discussion of this in relation to depictions of audiences in prologues. 39 The main text of Richard Coer de Lyon makes for an interesting comparison with its prologue in this respect. In the story itself, the ‘other’ are the Saracens; however, in the prologues, English is defined against French and Latin, with Richard himself being defined against a number of French heroes. All references are to Brunner’s edition. 40 Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, line 221. OED, s.v. ‘row’ (n. 1). 41 Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, lines 122–3. 42 Ibid., lines 128. 43 Its French sources include the Old French Bible of Herman de Valenciennes, an anonymous Old French poetic paraphrase of Genesis and Exodus, and the Chateau d’Amour; Latin works used include the Vulgate Bible, Peter Comestor’s Historia Scholastica, the Post Peccatum Adae, De Imagine Mundi, the Legenda Aurea, and several others. For a full list and discussion of the poem’s sources, see John J. Thompson, The ‘Coursor Mundi’: Poem, Texts and Contexts, Medium Ævum monographs, NS 19 (Oxford: Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature, 1998), Ch. 3. A further consideration of some of the French sources can be found in idem, ‘“Frankis rimes here I redd, | Communlik in ilk[a] sted...”: The French Bible Stories in Harley 2253’, in Studies in the Harley Manuscript: The Scribes, Contents and Social Contexts of British Library MS Harley 2253, ed. by Susanna Fein (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2000), pp. 271–87. 38

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a narrower focus on linguistic translation. ‘Translaten’ is a learned term, and seems to have entered English either directly from Latin (from ‘translatus’, the supine of ‘transferre’ – ‘to bring across, transfer’ as well as ‘translate’ in the linguistic sense – and also from Late Latin ‘translatare’, ‘to move from place to place’, as in the ‘translation’ of relics) or from Old French ‘translater’.44 As was seen in Chapter 1, ‘translater’ appears in the earliest Anglo-Norman translators’ prologues – notably in Gaimar’s Estoire, the earliest extant vernacular historiography – and would seem, perhaps, to be a more likely source for the word as far as Middle English translators were concerned. However, as was noted earlier, for the Anglo-Norman historiographers ‘translater’ used by itself meant ‘interpret’, with additional verbs added when the poet wished to indicate linguistic translation.45 It is possible that the same sense is intended here by the Cursor Mundi poet. A similar view of translation also seems to be held in the Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315), a collection of sermons in verse possibly based on, or at least influenced by, the Anglo-Norman Miroir des Evangiles by Robert of Greatham;46 no source is named, and the Cycle is presented as taken directly from the Gospels themselves. Here the verbs ‘undon’ and ‘sheuen’ are used to indicate translation: Forthi tha Godspells that always Er red in kirc on Sundays, Opon Inglis wil Ic undo [...] For [thi] wil Ic on Inglis schau [...] Quat alle tha Godspelles saies.47 ‘Undon’ appears to have the added sense of ‘explain’ or ‘interpret’; in Mum and the Sothsegger it is said of the Biblical Daniel that he ‘declarid ful ofte | Dreemes and vndide þaym’.48 ‘Sheuen’, which in this context would seem to mean ‘reveal, expound’, creates the same effect.49 In both of these texts, translation would seem to be viewed as something not too far from Bonaventure’s compilator. The above discussion indicates that translators’ prologues of the thirteenth and very early fourteenth century tend to be more concerned with establishing a role for, and defending the use of, English as a literary language than with the technical 44

Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus, s.v. ‘translatare’ (v.). Cf. Damian-Grint, New Historians, pp. 30–1. 46 For discussion of the Miroir as possible source, see The Northern Homily Cycle, ed. by Anne B. Thompson (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2008), pp. 10–11. All references are to this edition. 47 Northern Homily Cycle, lines 95–7, 109, 111. 48 Mum and the Sothsegger, in Richard the Redeless and Mum and the Sothsegger, ed. by James M. Dean (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2000), lines 1311–12; MED, s.v. ‘undon’ (v.). This can perhaps be understood as similar to the Middle Dutch ‘ontbinden’ (literally ‘unfold’), used for ‘translate’ in Die Rose and Walewein, for example. See Chapter 8, n. 75. 49 MED, s.v. ‘sheuen’ (v.). 45

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details of linguistic translation and the consideration of immediate sources. French, on the other hand, is as much an idea as a language to be translated; it is defined in terms of otherness, whether geographically or socially. These prologues have, in short, a more conceptual than practical view of translation. As the fourteenth century progressed, however, writers seem to have felt less of a genuine need to justify, or staunchly defend, their use of English; extravagant apologies for the paucity of the English vocabulary became a rhetorical trope. The focus on descriptions of English in prologues moved from language to literature; it became more common for prologues to engage with the translation process itself, and with individual French writers and French texts.

From Compil ation to Translation: Developments in the Fourteenth Century

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he earliest prologue to describe linguistic translation in any more technical detail is that of the Gilbertine writer Robert Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne, begun in 1303 and presumably finished some years later.50 Mannyng not only makes it clear that he is translating, but that he has translated one specific book that he ‘fonde ynne’ at Sempringham Priory,51 providing the word-by-word translation of the French book’s title and the remarkable series of dictionary-style definitionscum-translations of French words discussed in Chapter 2. There is no obvious source for Mannyng’s dictionary-style translation methods, although one could look to Isidore’s hugely influential Etymologies (extant in nearly 1,000 manuscripts), or to the vocabulary-listing approach of the earliest French primers in England, such as the Tretiz of Walter de Bibbesworth, for possible analogues.52 The prologue to Mannyng’s second work, the Chronicle (c. 1338), discusses his treatment of his source texts in even greater detail. He describes how he has amalgamated the French books of ‘mayster Wace’ and the unsatisfactorily ‘ouerhipp[ing]’ Peter of Langtoft to create the new English work, concluding ‘Als þai haf wryten & sayd | haf I alle in myn Inglis layd’.53 His amalgamating approach makes his poem a compilation as well as a translation, and in this sense his description of his sources is quite similar to Laȝamon’s ‘æðela boc þa he to bisne nom’. However, Mannyng’s tracing of the Brut story through its various linguistic incarnations, from the Greek of Dares, through the ‘Breton speche [...] þat þe Inglis couthe not rede no luke’ that Geoffrey of Monmouth ‘made [...] in Latyn’, and Wace’s ‘rym[ing] it in Frankis fyne’, to his own ‘Ynglis tonge’ – along with the recognition that there can be more than 50

As Mannyng himself reveals: ‘Dane Felyp was mayster þat tyme | Þat y began þys englyssh ryme. | Þe Ȝeres of grace fyl þan to be | A þousynd & þre hundred & þre’ (lines 73–6). 51 Again, this detail is supplied by Mannyng: ‘Y dwelled yn the pryorye | Fiftene yere yn cumpanye’ (lines 65–66). 52 See Isidore of Seville, Etymologies, pp. 24–6. Bibbesworth’s Tretiz is discussed in Chapter 5. 53 Mannyng, Chronicle, ed. by Idelle Sullens (Binghampton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts and Studies, Binghampton University, 1996), lines 69–70. All references are to this edition.

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one translation of the same text (‘Als Mayster Wace þe same [Peter of Langtoft] says, | bot he rymed it oþer ways’) – demonstrates an acute awareness of language barriers and the need for translation which is not present in the earlier poet.54 Mannyng is an exceptionally self-aware writer by any standards, and his translation-conscious approach is not, by itself, indicative of a wider movement towards a greater translation awareness in early fourteenth-century England. However, Mannyng’s work provides evidence that at least one translator in the early fourteenth century had considered French > English translation as a system of word-for-word equivalences, and with a high level of attention to detail. The first half of the fourteenth century yielded a number of translators’ prologues, which display a variety of attitudes towards translation, and it would be forced to attempt to fit them into any overarching linear progression. The situation becomes still more complex when genre considerations are taken into account (to this end there will be a separate consideration of ‘oral’ romance prologues below). However, taken as a group, they reflect a general sense of rising translation-consciousness. I will discuss two fourteenth-century examples here, the The Seege of Troye and William of Palerne, before continuing to Chaucer’s The Legend of Good Women. The prologue to the The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325), which appears to draw upon Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Le Roman de Troie as at least one of its sources,55 describes the movement of the text through Greek, Latin and English: He was y-hoote sir Daryes, Þat sawe þat worre, without faile, And wroot it in grewe iche bataile. And seth a maister of sotel engynne Turnyd it fro grew into latyn; And out latyn, wel y woot, A Clerk of Englyssh þus it wroot.56 However, a comparison with Benoît’s prologue would seem clearly to indicate that the English poet made use of at least this section of the French poem. The Seege’s description of the text’s successive translations is a greatly abridged version of a passage in Benoît’s prologue, where he recounts how he came to translate (‘en romanz metre’) the story: L’estoire que Daire ot escrite, En greque langue 54

Ibid., lines 145–98. Critical discussion is divided on the Seege’s sources. According to Mary Elizabeth Barnicle, the text’s editor, who notes instances where the Seege poet follows Dares more closely than Benoît, the poet knew Dares well and used his work consistently, although the Middle English poem contains much that is independent of either of these works. Barnicle, The Seege or Batayle of Troye: Edited from MSS Lincoln’s Inn 150, Egerton 2862, Arundel XXII, with Harley 525 included in the Appendix, EETS O.S. 172 (London: OUP, 1927), pp. lvi–lxxiv. All references to The Seege of Troye are to this edition. 56 Seege of Troye, Egerton version, lines 16–22.

55

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[...] Lonc tens fu sis livres perduz [...] Mais a Athenes le trova Cornelius, quil translata: De greu le torna en latin Par son sen e par son engin [...] Beneeiz de Sainte More L’a contrové e fait e dit E o sa main les moz escrit.57 [The history that Dares wrote in the Greek language [...] this book was lost for a long time [...] but in Athens it was found by Cornelius, who translated it from Greek into Latin with his intelligence and skill [...] Benoît de SainteMaure has composed and made and said it, and written these words with his hand.] The English prologue erases Benoît – and the French language – from the story of the book’s transmission, with the narrator inserting himself, as an unnamed ‘Clerk’, into the succession of writers in his place. In doing so, the English poet positions his own language in the place allotted to French in the Greek > Latin > French hierarchy constructed by Benoît. The prologue of William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) perhaps provides more evidence of a shift in attitudes towards translating into English. This romance, based on the twelfth-century continental French Guillaume de Palerne, has been preserved in a single manuscript (Cambridge, King’s College, MS 13), in which the first three folios, containing approximately 216 lines, are missing. For this reason, it is impossible to tell whether the poem originally contained references to translation in its opening lines.58 However, 160 lines into the extant poem, the poet (named as William in the epilogue) reveals that all readers ‘þat loven and lyken to listen ani more’ should pray for ‘þe hend Erl of Herford, Sir Humfray de Bowne’, who commissioned the translation: For he of Frensche þis fayre tale ferst dede translate in ese of Englysche men in Englysche speche.59 57

Le Roman de Troie, lines 90–1, 117, 119–22, 132–4. As the poet reveals that he is making a translation only 160 lines into the extant version, it seems relatively unlikely that this information would have been repeated so early on if a translator’s prologue had existed. It may be that the poet echoed the French prologue, which makes no mention of language but discusses the importance of storytelling, only adding his own details later. For the French prologue, see Guillaume de Palerne: roman du XIIIe siècle, ed. by Alexandre Micha (Geneva: Droz, 1990), lines 1–22. 59 William of Palerne, ed. by G. V. H. Bunt, William of Palerne: An Alliterative Romance, Edited from King’s College Cambridge MS 13 (Gronigen: Bouma, 1985), lines 167–8. All references are to this edition. 58

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William’s confident ‘in ese of Englysche men in Englysche speche’ is reminiscent of remarks made in earlier prologues (e.g. ‘euerich Inglische Inglische can’). However, here the use of the English language itself is not called into question. The poet appears to take it for granted that ‘Englysche speche’ is used by ‘Englysche men’; there is no nervously defiant defence of the merits of English, nor are any other languages named except as source material. The French poem, which is specifically described as ‘translated’, is acknowledged as a ‘fayre tale’, but (as Marie de France and the Waldef poet noted with respect to their English sources in the twelfth century) one which must be translated into the appropriate language in order to reach its new audience. If ‘Sir Humfray de Bowne’ – identified as Sir Humphrey IX de Bohun, nephew of Edward II – did indeed commission the poem (for which Bunt makes a convincing argument)60 the type of ‘Englysche men’ who might have been expected to welcome an English translation would have included, in this case, the nobility. William’s attitude remains consistent in the epilogue, where he provides more information about the circumstances of the translation: In þise wise haþ William al his werke ended as fully as þe Frensche fully wold aske, and as his witte him wold serve, þouȝh it were febul. But þouȝh þe metur be nouȝt mad at eche mannes paye, wite him nouȝt þat it wrouȝt; he wold have do beter, ȝif is witte in eny weiȝes wold him have served. But, faire friends, for Goddes love and for ȝour owne mensk, ȝe þat liken in love swiche þinges to here, priȝe[þ] for þat gode lord þat gart þis do make [...] for hem þat knowe no Frensche, ne never understo[n].61 William’s comments that he has translated the French faithfully (as it ‘fully wold aske’), with his ‘febul’ wit the only limiting factor, are conventional enough elements of the modesty topos. We can, I think, read the concern that ‘þe metur be nouȝt mad at eche mannes paye’ as part of this topos, although his use of the technical term ‘metur’ – the first recorded post-Conquest use of this word according to the MED – may also serve as acknowledgement that the verse form has been changed from the original’s octosyllabic couplets, and thus reflect a heightened awareness of the changes needed to translate the work from a French to an English tradition beyond the purely linguistic.62 The difficulties inherent in pleasing all of the people 60

See Chapter 6. William of Palerne, lines 5521–29, 31. 62 MED, s.v. ‘metre’ (n.), 1. a. The OED records the word’s use in Old English texts, giving the earliest example from Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (a. 950); s.v. ‘metre’ (n. 1). Derek Pearsall, Old English and Middle English Poetry (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977), p. 154, and Bunt, William of Palerne, p. 327, suggest ‘metur’ is used here as an alliterative synonym for ‘poem’ rather than any specific apology for the alliterative form, and this is also a possible reading; although had 61

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all of the time are also acknowledged in this line, but in a conventional rather than overly anxious way, with the main expressed concern being that an unsatisfied audience is less likely to pray for ‘þat gode lord þat gart þis do make’. Perhaps the security of knowing that a patron had already approved the project allowed William to deal with the question of audience approval in a more detached way; it also seems likely that a more widespread acceptance of the use of English at this time may have contributed to the poem’s more confident attitude. By the time Chaucer came to write the prologue to The Legend of Good Women in the late 1380s, the ground was well-laid for his self-aware, playful analyses of translation. Although there is no evidence that Chaucer was directly influenced by any earlier English prologues, the greater translation-consciousness generated by, and reflected in, the body of English prologues which existed at the time in which Chaucer was writing must surely have helped to create an English vocabulary of translation practice which would have been available to him. The Legend of Good Women prologue offers a more critical and discerning view of translation practice than has been shown in the earlier prologues, questioning the nature of translation itself rather than simply commenting that it has taken place. Ostensibly describing his failure to describe ‘thise floures white and rede | Swiche as men callen daysyes’, the Legend prologue invites the reader to consider Chaucer’s shortcomings in translating that other ‘flour’, the Roman de la Rose, into English: Allas, that I ne had Englyssh, ryme or prose, Suffisant this flour to preyse aryght! [...] For wel I wot that ye han her-biforn Of makyng ropen, and lad awey the corn, And I come after, glenyng here and there, And am ful glad yf I may fynde an ere Of any goodly word that ye han left.63 At first glance, it seems that the F prologue describes the relationship between French and English in a similar way to the Of Arthur and of Merlin passage: that French enjoys ‘[a]uantages’ which English does not possess. However, in their nuances and implications the two texts are quite different. Here the use of the English language is not presented as innovative or in need of justification – the issue is more one of finetuning: whether Chaucer’s own command of that language and his poetic talent are sufficient to compose poetry ‘aryght’. This passage could also be read as an implicit criticism of all English writers who attempt to ‘come after, glenyng here and there’ in the wake of the illustrious poets of the past – is ‘Englyssh, ryme or prose’, ever sufficient to match their French and Latin antecedents? As writers became more the translator not wished to convey a specific technical meaning he could surely have used ‘matere’ as an alternative. 63 The Legend of Good Women, F Prologue, lines 66–7, 73–77.

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confident in the use of English, they could afford to place more of an extravagant emphasis on its paucity.64 The Legend of Good Women prologue is the longest and most elaborate in the corpus. In many ways its purpose is somewhat different to the majority of the prologues I have assembled; it is an extensive piece of writing in its own right, and, as a prologue to the tale collection of ‘wommen trewe in lovyng’ requested by Alceste, it is not directly intended as a prologue to a French > English translation. However, one of its major concerns is Chaucer’s translations, above all that of the Roman de la Rose, which the irascible God of Love, emerging from the Rose itself in an audacious piece of extra-textual casting, deplores as ‘an heresye ageyns my lawe’.65 The lengthiest discussion of his translation methods found in any of his writings,66 Chaucer’s defence of his Rose translation acts, among other things, as the prologue to the Romaunt of the Rose which he never wrote. Chaucer’s prologue presents French > English translation as desirable but also potentially dangerous. Though Chaucer protests that his sole intention was ‘[t]he naked text in English to declare’ – that the essential meaning, stripped of its foreign Latin, Italian or French garments, is now laid out plain and nakedly unadorned in English as a clarification and faithful copy of the original – one of the God of Love’s primary accusations against Chaucer is that he ‘hynderest hem with thy translacyoun’: Thow mayst it nat denye, For in pleyn text, it nedeth nat to glose, Thow hast translated the Romauns of the Rose, That is an heresye ageyns my lawe.67 The God’s ambiguous words leave it unclear as to whether Chaucer is hindering his English readers by making a heretical work more widely available through translation (i.e. the Romaunt is a blameless translation of a heretical text) or whether the act of translation is itself the heresy (i.e. the Romaunt is a heretical translation of a blameless text). The God also complains that Chaucer ‘of myne olde servauntes [...] mysseyest’; the MED glosses ‘misseien’ as ‘to speak ill of, slander, insult’, but also ‘to say something erroneous, err; make a misstatement’, which latter meaning could imply that his English ‘naked text’ transmits the Rose’s original message imperfectly.68 To describe Chaucer’s version as ‘myssey[ing]’ may indicate that the very act of translation will inevitably fail to convey the full meaning of the original; on the other hand, it may be that the failure is due to Chaucer’s deficiency as a translator, 64

As was seen with the later French prologues, and indeed in Chaucer’s own Complaint of Venus, discussed in Chapters 1 and 2. 65 The Legend of Good Women, F Prologue, lines 438, 330. 66 A. Blamires, ‘A Chaucer Manifesto’, Chaucer Review 24 (1989), pp.  29–44, has even named it a ‘Chaucer manifesto’. 67 The Legend of Good Women, F Prologue, lines 253–6. 68 Ibid., line 324; MED, s.v. ‘misseien’ (v.).

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‘ne ha[ving] Englyssh [...]| Suffisant this flour to preyse aryght’. This calls the very nature of translation into question – is it essentially an active or passive form of writing? – and also questions Chaucer’s own skill as a translator. Alceste takes the former view, suggesting that the translator is a foolish, timid figure, equally at the mercy of his source material and patron. In her paradigm, the translator possesses no intentions of his own, good or bad; he has no ‘malyce’, but is ‘nyce’ and full of ‘innocence’, rather than any more assertive attributes.69 For his part, the narrator enthusiastically disavows any guilt, protesting that what so myn auctour mente, Algate, God wot, it was myn entente To forthere trouthe in love and it cheryce, And to be war fro falsnesse and fro vice By swych ensaumple; this was my menynge.70 Although displaying an outward breathless sincerity, this is as ambiguous a statement as that of the God of Love, and has a certain cunning disingenuousness. In suggesting that he does not know for certain what the intent of his auctor might have been, but that he does know his own intentions, the narrator is allowing for the possibility that his translation may have a purpose independent of the original. However, the first couple of lines in the above extract, taken by themselves, could be read as meaning the opposite; ‘what so myn auctor mente, | Algate, God wot, it was myn entent’ sounds very like ‘as myn auctor seyde, so sey I’ from Book II of Troilus and Criseyde.71 Studied within the context of other translators’ prologues rather than, as is more usual, within that of Chaucer’s other works, it becomes easier to see how The Legend of Good Women prologue fits into the larger English prologue tradition. This also provides further evidence to support Cannon’s explosion of the myth of ‘Father Chaucer’; not only was Chaucer writing with an English language which had been previously enriched by earlier writers, he was translating with a whole century of English translation behind him.72

‘Oral’ Romance Prologues: A Separate T ype of Transl ator’s Prologue?

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ven if the English translators were not consciously writing their prologues with, for instance, the Aristotelian prologue model in mind, the presence of these models in the wider cultural background can perhaps be assumed for those translators identifying as ‘clerks’, who were presumably Latinate, with access to texts from that tradition (as seems to be the case, for instance, with Laȝamon). However,

69

The Legend of Good Women, F Prologue, lines 340–52. Ibid., lines 460–4. 71 Troilus and Criseyde, Book II, line 18. 72 See Cannon, The Making of Chaucer’s English. 70

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those translators either operating outside the Latin tradition through lack of a formal education or who wished to present their work as part of the oral ‘minstrel’ romance tradition, often reflected these differing concerns in their prologues. A number of the prologues in the corpus, mostly produced in the early and mid fourteenth century – that of Sir Tristem (c. 1275–1300), the one shared by Lay le Freine and Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–25), those of Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–25), the northern Octavian (c. 1325–75), Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) and The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) – come into this category to a greater or lesser extent. In their edition of Lay le Freine, Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury note that ‘the prologue, like the exordium to scholarly books, tells us its own form of who, what, where, how and why. Who told the tales? ... Where was the tale from? ... When? ... How was the tale told? ... What?’73 This next section considers how these prologues fit into the larger translator’s prologue genre. As Chapter 4 will show, the notion of a divide between ‘clerk’ and ‘minstrel’ translators is highly problematic, and there is no clear dividing line between the two types of translation, nor between the two types of prologue; indeed many prologues reflect a number of influences from both traditions. As many medieval texts were designed to be read aloud, more ‘oral’ features were incorporated into all manner of texts. Conversely, as the previous and present chapters help to demonstrate, ideas about prologue construction and the nature of translation filtered through from Latin traditions in a variety of ways, often indirectly; those translating from French into English, even those who did not know Latin, would have had access to some of these theories through French texts, such as the prologues in the Anglo-Norman historiographies. However, the prologues in this group, usually created for romances, do have distinctive characteristics; they often suggest that translation is taking place, but describe the process more in terms of oral than written transmission, and are more concerned with fitting the text in question into the wider romance tradition than with the specific movement of one discrete narrative into another language. When texts were passed on orally, translation became a much less definable, more nebulous thing. I will investigate this prologue type through two particularly ‘oral’ examples, that of Sir Tristrem and that which has been linked with Lay le Freine and Sir Orfeo. Sir Tristrem is believed to have its origins in a version of the Roman de Tristan by the Anglo-Norman poet Thomas, but the manner in which the story found its way into English remains unclear.74 Although the prologue to the English poem does not provide any definite answers to this question, the way in which it presents its source material is illuminating as to the way in which the poet viewed the relationship between text and source. For this reason, I would argue, it should be considered as part of the translator’s prologue genre, even though no linguistic translation is 73

The Middle English Breton Lays, ed. by Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 1995), p. 79. 74 For a summary of critical opinion on Sir Tristrem’s relationship with the Anglo-Norman poem, see Lupack, Lancelot of the Laik and Sir Tristrem, pp. 145–7. All references to this text are to Lupack’s edition.

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explicitly mentioned, nor are any languages named. The question of whether or not translation is being indicated through the poem’s citing of ‘Tomas’, and the ultimate ambiguity of these references, is itself suggestive of a more fluid transfer of material between languages. The Sir Tristem prologue embraces its notional orality more explicitly than any other in the corpus, presenting the work in question as the result of a conversation between the English writer and a poet named ‘Tomas’: I was at Ertheldoun With Tomas spak Y thare; Ther herd Y rede in roune Who Tristrem gat and bare, Who was king with croun, And who him forsterd yare, And who was bold baroun, As thair elders ware. Bi yere Tomas telles in toun This aventours as thai ware.75 Despite their conversational character, these lines perform the same function as many of the prologues discussed thus far. The Tristan story is depicted as being passed from one poet to be retold by another in much the way that a translator would reinterpret a written exemplar. Although the poet could be offering a genuine account of a tale he has ‘herd [...] rede in roune’ by another poet, it seems unlikely that the meeting is to be understood literally, with the journey to ‘Ertheldoun’ a topos which is an oral equivalent of Laȝamon’s book-gathering travels ‘wide ȝond þas leode’. Using the ‘I’ pronoun, the narrator asserts his own identity from the very first word; the next line then introduces his source, an encounter in ‘Ertheldoun’ where he ‘herd [...] rede in roune’ the story of Tristan. However, if one considers these opening lines as a translator’s prologue, one is faced with the question of whether the poet envisaged linguistic translation to be taking place. The identity of ‘Tomas’, as imagined by the poet, would seem significant here. The reference to a ‘Tomas’ in ‘Ertheldoun’ appears to be a reference to the well-known Scottish poet and prophet Thomas of Erceldoune (fl. ?1220–?1297), from which the most obvious inference is that the poet believed the original story to have been written by him.76 However, the fact that the Anglo-Norman poet was also called Thomas (who names himself in an epilogue beginning ‘Tumas fine ci sun 75 76

Ibid., lines 1–11. Thomas of Erceldoune is also apparently linked with Tristan in the prologue to Mannyng’s Chronicle, lines 97–8, 100 (‘Þat may þou here in sir Tristrem, ouer [alle] gestes it has þe steem [...] if men it sayd as made Thomas’). For a discussion of the factual and fictional versions of this poet, see E. B. Lyle, ‘Thomas of Erceldoune: The Prophet and the Prophesied’, Folklore 79 (1968), pp. 111–21; for a consideration of the relationship of Thomas with Sir Tristrem, see Helen Cooper, ‘Thomas of

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escrit’)77 suggests the possibility that the English poet may have been confused, or conflated the two. If this second, francophone Thomas is being referred to, does it follow that the Sir Tristrem author either drew his material from French or wished to present it as such, with his text itself presented as a translation? The fragmentary nature of the Roman de Tristan, and the shortness of the English poem (if it is a translation of Thomas’ text, it has evidently been greatly abridged) make it impossible to tell whether Sir Tristrem is taken from the Anglo-Norman poem, from an English intermediary, or an oral source in either language which was associated in the popular imagination with Thomas of Erceldoune.78 The poet may have added the name ‘Erceldoune’ to add authority to the more anonymous ‘Tomas’, or indeed truly have believed that the story came from Thomas of Erceldoune. However, it is also possible that the poet’s apparent conflation of the AngloNorman and Scottish Thomases offers an insight into the relative lack of importance that he might have considered linguistic translation to have on the transmission of the Tristan story. A lack of interest in linguistic translation is by no means a feature unique to more ‘oral’ texts; however, the conversational, less language-focused way in which narrative transmission is presented in Sir Tristrem seems likely to have been due to the greater emphasis placed on oral storytelling.79 Similar concerns are expressed in the prologue which has been attached to both Lay le Freine and Sir Orfeo.80 This prologue concerns itself with various issues relating to translation and textual transmission; it describes the transfer of what are presented as oral sources into written form, and – at least in Lay le Freine – the translation of stories from ‘Breteyne’ into English. After offering a catalogue of the types of story found in lays (lines 5–12), the prologue provides a history of the origins of these lays: In Breteyne bi hold time This layes were wrought, so seith this rime. When kinges might out yhere Of ani mervailes that ther were,

Erceldoune: Romance as Prophecy’, in Cultural Encounters in the Romance of Medieval England, ed. by Corinne Saunders (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2005), pp. 171–87, esp. pp. 174–7. 77 Thomas, Roman de Tristan, ed. by Bartina H. Wind, Les fragments du Roman de Tristan / Thomas: poème du XIIe siècle (Geneva: Droz, 1960), line 820. 78 For a discussion of events in the English poem in comparison with the Roman de Tristan, see Lupack’s edition, pp. 145–52. 79 For further discussion of the impact of oral storytelling on translation, see Chapter 4. 80 Critical opinion has been divided regarding for which of the two the prologue was first composed. Gabrielle Guillaume, ‘The Prologues of the Lay le Freine and Sir Orfeo’, MLN 36 (1921), pp. 458–64, was the first to propose that the prologue was an original English composition rather than a translation from various French sources, suggesting that it was originally written for Lay le Freine and subsequently borrowed for Sir Orfeo. However, Mortimer J. Donovan, The Breton Lay: A Guide to Varieties (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1969), pp. 132–3, has argued that the reverse may be true.

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Thai token an harp in gle and game, And maked a lay and gaf it name.81 This is the archetypal view of the composer of lays as harper-king, as depicted in numerous texts and manuscript illuminations – from Orfeo himself to the Biblical King David – and emphasises the oral nature of these poems, both in their performance and in their composition (the lays are ‘wrought’ and ‘maked’ to the accompaniment of the harp rather than written down; this is in clear contrast to the ‘clerkes’ mentioned in the second line, who are responsible for the latter-day recording of lays).82 The language used by those in ‘Breteyne’ is not named (although Breton is surely implied in their being from Brittany). The second section of this prologue deals with the retelling of lays by the present poet. In the version of Sir Orfeo contained in London, British Library, MS Harley 3810, the earliest extant manuscript containing the prologue, this is described thus: Off aventures þat han be-falle Y can sum telle, but nouȝt all: Herken, lordyngys þat ben trewe, & Y wol ȝou telle of Syr Orphewe.83 The poet’s retelling of the story is presented in a way that is in keeping with the oral composition methods of the lay-writing Bretons themselves, or at any rate does not contrast their ‘harpyng’ with his own writing activity (as Marie de France does, for instance, in her claims that ‘Soventes fiez en ai veillié’, ‘I have often worked into the night’).84 Linguistic translation is nowhere mentioned, however (and there are no references within the English poem to ‘French’ or ‘the French book’). 81

This is the version found in Lay le Freine, ed. by Laskaya and Salisbury, lines 13–18. The two extant versions of the Orfeo prologue (in London, British Library, MS Harley 3810 and Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 61) and the single Freine (Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ MS 19.2.1 (the Auchinleck manuscript)) version are very similar until line 22, although the loss of the first leaf of Orfeo in the Auchinleck manuscript means that a certain amount of conjecture and reconstruction is necessary. For a discussion of reconstructing the Auchinleck Orfeo prologue, see Bliss, Sir Orfeo, pp. xlvi–xlviii. The much later Ashmole 61, produced around 1500, has slightly different wording, but is obviously the same prologue. For a separate edition and discussion of this version, see Codex Ashmole 61: A Compilation of Popular Middle English Verse, ed. by George Shuffleton (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2008), pp. 286–99, 582–3. Rhiannon Purdie, Anglicising Romance: Tail-Rhyme and Genre in Medieval English Literature (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2008), pp. 117–19, has also commented on the Orfeo-Freine prologue in the Auchinleck, noting that prologue-sharing happens elsewhere in that manuscript; the now missing first folio of Roland and Vernagu contained the same prologue as that of Otuel and Roland. This might suggest commercial production, where prologues could be ‘recycled’, anticipating the age of print; see Nicholas Jacobs, ‘Sir Degarré, Lay le Freine, Beves of Hamtoun and the “Auchinleck Bookshop”’, Notes & Queries 29 (1982), pp. 294–301, at p. 296. All further references to Lay le Freine are from Laskaya and Salisbury; all references to Sir Orfeo are from Bliss. 82 For further discussion of these archetypes, see Chapter 4. 83 Sir Orfeo, Harley version, lines 13–16, 21–4. 84 Marie de France, ‘Prologue’, Lais, ed. by Alexandre Micha, Lais de Marie de France (Paris: GF Flammarion, 1994), line 42; all references are to this edition. Translation based on that of Glyn S.

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In Lay le Freine, the final lines of the prologue suggest much more clearly that linguistic translation is taking place, with a consideration of the effect that a change of language will have upon the story for an English audience. Although ‘translate’, or an equivalent verb, is never used, that it is a translation is indicated by the account of the lay’s title in English. After remarking that ‘Y can tel sum ac not alle’ of the ‘aventours’ described in lays, the narrator declares: Ac herkneth lordinges, sothe to sain, Ichil you telle Lay le Frayn. In Ingliche for to tellen ywis Of an asche for sothe it is.85 The acknowledgement that the story has a title ‘[i]n Ingliche’ reveals by implication that ‘le Frayn’ is in another language; it is suggested in line 232 that this is ‘after the language of Breteyn’,86 although the poet later identifies the name as being from ‘Romaunce’.87 As in Sir Orfeo, the translation is described within an oral context; there are no references to source texts, but rather to harpists, from whom the narrator can be shown ‘tel[ling]’ his own, English version of the story. The ‘clerkes’, though implicitly present from the second line, are kept in the background. The Orfeo-Freine prologue adheres strongly to earlier prologue conventions Burgess and Keith Busby, The Lais of Marie de France, 2nd edn (London: Penguin, 1999), p. 41. Lay le Freine, lines 21–6. 86 Ibid., lines 232. 87 Ibid., lines 347–8: ‘For in Romaunce Le Frain “ash” is, | And Le Codre “hazle”, y-wis’. It is uncertain how much knowledge the English poet would have had of French and Breton as distinct languages. There has been some debate about the meaning of ‘freyns’ in line 231, where the translation of the name ‘le Freyne’ is discussed for the second time: The freyns of the asche is a freyn After the language of Breteyn; Forthe Le Frein men clepeth this lay More than Asche in ich cuntray (lines 231–4) Laskaya and Salisbury interpret it as ‘French’, as does Purdie, Anglicising Romance, p. 98. Donald B. Sands, Middle English Verse Romances (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 1986), p. 214, however, suggests that ‘freyns’ could be a scribal error, and, while glossing it as ‘French’ ‘would make good sense’, it could also be an error for ‘name’, written erroneously in anticipation of ‘freyn’ at the end of the line. ‘Of ’ could also be an error for ‘or’; line 231 could therefore be understood as ‘the freyns (i.e. the heroine’s name) or the asche is a freyne (i.e. the ash in ‘the language of Breteyn’)’. If ‘French’ is accepted as the meaning, it could possibly be interpreted as a differentiation between French and ‘the language of Breteyn’, in other words a recognition on the English poet’s part that the lays written in French ultimately came from Breton. The Breton language is not usually discussed elsewhere in Middle English texts alongside references to Breton lays; there is a reference to ‘hir firste Briton tonge’ in the prologue to Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale (‘Thise olde gentil Britouns in hir dayes | Of diverse aventures maden layes, | Rymeyed in hir firste Briton tonge’, CT, Fragment F, lines 709–11), although this does not necessarily indicate a clear knowledge of what this ‘tonge’ may have sounded like or how it might have differed from French. However, the possibility that a deliberate differentiation is being made cannot be discounted; if the Lay le Freine poet were familiar with a number of Marie’s lays, in which the translation of Breton names is sometimes discussed (e.g. in Bisclavret (lines 2–4), where the title is given both ‘en bretan’ and in ‘li norman’) he may well have wished to follow her lead in suggesting a Breton linguistic origin for the title of his story. 85

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established for the introduction of Breton lays, and was clearly written with a keen understanding of the wider traditions of the genre. The French-language lays contain a very strong sense of generic identity, displaying a remarkable uniformity in their self-descriptions in their prologues and epilogues. These share a very stable set of motifs, including discussions of the history of the genre, the type of subject matter thought suitable for lays, the way in which they were performed on musical instruments, and the manner in which they were recorded.88 Moreover, Breton lay prologues are notable for the way in which they have developed a set of formalised set of topoi within a solely vernacular framework, which was explicitly defined by its separation from the Latin tradition in Marie de France’s general prologue, where she comments that ‘començai a penser [...] de latin en romaunz traire; |Mais ne me fust guaires de pris: |Itant s’en sunt altre entremis! | Des lais pensai, k’oïs aveie’ (I began to think of [...] translating a Latin text into French, but this would scarcely be worthwhile, for others have undertaken a similar task; so I thought of lays which I had heard).89 Whilst linguistic translation is not their primary subject matter – and indeed is not explicitly referenced – the lay prologues’ concern with transmitting Breton material into French enables them to function as a type of translator’s prologue, and their descriptions of conveying oral tales with musical settings in writing reveals a more general preoccupation with transferal and transmission. When the French lays came in turn to be translated into other European traditions, this strong sense of genre, and the underlying concerns with transmission and translation, were carried through into these new versions, with their prologues and epilogues written to reflect this.90 The Orfeo-Freine prologue offers one of the most detailed descriptions of the generic expectations attached to lays throughout European medieval literature, and the role it performs here at the beginning of these two English lays demonstrates how this self-consciously oral, vernacular prologue model, developed from a francophone tradition, could be transferred into English literature as a way of explaining and reflecting the transmission of this particular genre.

88

For a list and discussion of these motifs, see Elizabeth Dearnley,’”Faisons du con le lai novel”: Parody, Transtextuality and the Breton lai’, in Courtly Parodies/Parodies of Courtoise: Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Congress of the International Courtly Literature Society, 22–26 July 2013 (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2016). 89 Marie de France, ‘Prologue’, in Lais de Marie de France, ed. and trans. by Micha, lines 28, 30–33; trans. in The Lais of Marie de France, 2nd edn, trans. by Burgess and Busby, p. 41, with slightly altered punctuation. All references are to these editions. 90 Translations of Breton lays have survived in Old Norse and Middle English. A Norse collection of 21 lays known as Strengleikar (‘stringed instruments’), introduced by a general prologue, exists in a single manuscript (Uppsala, Uppsala University Library, MS De La Gardie 4–7). For the Old Norse prologue and facing English translation, see ‘Forrœða’ [Prologue], in Strengleikar: An Old Norse Translation of Twenty-one Old French Lais, ed. and trans. by Robert Cook and Mattias Tveitane (Oslo: Norsk Historisk Kjeldeskrift-Institutt, 1979), pp. 4–5. The translation of Marie’s lays into both languages is discussed in Sif Rikhardsdottir, Medieval Translations and Cultural Discourse: The Movement of Texts in England, France and Scandinavia (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2012), Ch. 1, pp. 24–52.

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That the Breton lay prologue model endured within the Middle English tradition can be seen in the opening lines of Chaucer’s Franklin in the Canterbury Tales, who could introduce his lay of Dorigen in the confidence that his audience would know what to expect. The Franklin’s Prologue reads essentially like a minimalist, boileddown version of the earlier text, with each line containing a different lay motif; it also explicitly references linguistic translation, emphasising the translational aspect of the genre which earlier lay prologues reference more implicitly: Thise olde gentil Britouns in hir dayes Of diverse aventures maden layes, Rymeyed in hir firste Briton tonge, Whiche layes with hir instrumentz they songe, Or elles redden hem for hir plesaunce, Which I shal seyn with good wyl as I kan.91 The possibility that Chaucer knew the Auchinleck manuscript, or something very like it, has long been debated by scholars; although this is obviously impossible to prove, it is tempting to speculate that Chaucer may have used the Orfeo-Freine prologue as a model here. 92 However, The Franklin’s Prologue can more readily be taken as evidence for a wider familiarity with the conventions of the lay genre and the way in which such narratives should be introduced. Whether Chaucer knew the Orfeo-Freine prologue or had come into contact with Breton lay prologues elsewhere (his inclusion of a second lay in The Wife of Bath’s Tale suggesting a knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, the genre), what we see in The Franklin’s opening lines is the continuing development of a type of translator’s prologue capable of incorporating the specific concerns of the lay genre and its transmission into Middle English. This brief analysis suggests that, though these prologues are less concerned with linguistic translation, they should still be classed as translators’ prologues. Their inclusion here serves to demonstrate the variety of prologues within this group.

From Laȝamon to Caxton: The Fifteenth Century

A

s was made clear in the Introduction to this book when date boundaries were discussed, I am most concerned with charting developments in French > English translation, as expressed in translators’ prologues, during the thirteenth and pre-Chaucerian fourteenth centuries. However, it is also useful to discuss later examples of prologue practice, to suggest ways in which later fourteenth-century or early fifteenth-century prologues were frequently developed from, or more indirectly influenced by, their predecessors. Here I will examine an early fifteenth-century

91

‘The Franklin’s Prologue’, CT, Fragment F, lines 709–15. For a discussion of possible connections between the Franklin’s Tale and Sir Orfeo, see Robert Francis Cook, ‘Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale and Sir Orfeo’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 95 (1994), pp. 333–6. 92 For further discussion of the conventionalised portrayal of minstrels, harpers, and oral methods of storytelling, see Chapter 4.

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translation of the Chateau d’Amour, and end the chapter with a brief consideration of the prologues of William Caxton. It is instructive to compare King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–50), the fourth Middle English translation of Robert Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour, with that of the earlier translations of this text, two of which also contain translators’ prologues (the others being The Castle of Love (c. 1300) and The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400). The Chateau d’Amour, a popular sermon written in the first third of the thirteenth century, itself emphasises its being written in the vernacular in order to be understood by those who do not know Latin, apologising for its use of an unclerkly language: En romanz comenz ma reson Pur ceus ki ne sevent mie Ne lettreüre ne clergie.93 [I begin my argument in French, for those who have neither learning nor Latin.] Making the text comprehensible to those lacking knowledge of other languages was also a major stated motivation of the English translators; however, the differing ways in which this is expressed is revealing of changing attitudes towards translating into English. King and Four Daughters contains a 22-line prologue which presents itself as a continuation of the work of Grosseteste’s original French text. Just as Grosseteste made his original available for those who did not know Latin or Greek, so the English translator is making Grosseteste’s work available for those who do not know French: I sate and lokyd on a romance, Was made in þe lond of France; Grostyd it made out of dyuine, All in French out of Latyne. He saw all men hade not vertu To know Latyn, Ebrew and Grew, The[r]for in French he mad it þer, That men myȝt wyte what it were. ȝit may not all men French vnderstond, And namely men of Ingelond. Therfor, soth as I þe tolde, Ryme on Inglych make [I] wolde, That men myȝht haue þerof solace.94 93

Chateau d’Amour, ed. by J. Murray, Le Chateau d’Amour de Robert Grosseteste, Évêque de Lincoln (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1918), lines 26–8. 94 King and Four Daughters, lines 9–21.

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The translator appears to take for granted that an English translation is needful for ‘men of Ingelond’; there is none of the patriotic persuasion of those prologues written around the turn of the fourteenth century, merely the suggestion that this is a practical way of ensuring that ‘men myȝht haue þerof solace’. His presentation of his translation as a furthering of Grosseteste’s vernacularising serves also as an acknowledgement of the way in which French’s role as a language ‘Por ceus ki ne sevent mie | Ne letture ne clergie’ has been superseded by English. Whereas ‘Grostyd’ made the earlier translation because ‘He saw all men hade not vertu | To know Latyn, Ebrew and Grew’, the English poet is writing two hundred years later when ‘ȝit may not all men French vnderstand’; this point is underscored by the parallel phrasing of ‘all men hade not [...] The[r]for in French’ and ‘ȝit may not all men [...] Therfor [...] Ryme on Inglych’. French, in this paradigm, is a language that belongs firmly to ‘þe lond of France’ – even when the ‘French’ book in question was actually written in England. That the translator could either make such an assumption about the origins of his exemplar or even knowingly deny its English origins (which is a slight possibility, given that he knows Grosseteste’s name; Grosseteste is identified as the bishop of Lincoln by the Castle of Love and Myrour poets, suggesting that his identity was, at least in the fourteenth century, reasonably common knowledge), is suggestive of the extent to which English was regarded as the language of England by this time. If one compares this prologue with its much earlier counterpart in The Castle of Love, it becomes easier to see the differences in attitude towards the translation of this text. At 90 lines, this prologue is considerably longer than that of King and Four Daughters; it moves between discussion of the poem’s use of English and its subject matter (presented here as a summary of Biblical events from creation to doomsday). Here there is no direct acknowledgement that the text is a translation; indeed the colophon in the Vernon manuscript names ‘Bisschop Grosteyȝt’ as the one who wrote the ‘tretys | Þat is yclept Castle of Loue’, implying that Grosseteste wrote the English work held before the reader.95 Although the same languages – Greek, Latin, French and English – are named, rather than tracing the linear movement of the text from ‘dyuine’ through French to English, this prologue emphasises the simultaneous multiplicity of world languages, with English being one of several options for writers: we ne beþ alle of one þeode, Ne iboren in one londe, Ne one speche vnderstonde; Ne mowe we alle Latin wite, Ne Ebreu ne Gru þat beþ iwrite, Ne French ne þis oþer spechen Þat me mihte in world sechen, To herie God [...] 95

For the conflation of the author and translator figures which was sometimes a feature of translators’ prologues, see Chapter 4.

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[Ac] vche mon ouȝte wiþ al his mihte Loftsong syngen to God ȝerne, Wiþ such speche as he con lerne [...] On Englisch ichul mi resun schowen For him þat con not iknowen Nouþer French ne Latyn.96 As in the Cursor Mundi’s remark that ‘Giue we ilkan þare langage, | Me think we do þam non outrage’ – and indeed in Ælfred’s much earlier comment on Bible translation that ‘alla oðræ Cristnæ ðioda sumne dæl hiora on hiora agen geðiode wendon’ – the English translator’s belief that ‘vche mon ouȝte wiþ al his mihte | Loftsong syngen to God ȝerne’ is given as a justification for the English translation. In this there is a kind of careful equal opportunities policy at play, as though to admit that English were in any way inferior would be to admit defeat. French is not presented as belonging to a geographically separate country; it is acknowledged, though, that some ‘con not iknowen | Nouþer French ne Latyn’, and for these an English translation is necessary. However, The Castle of Love later admits that the English translation, though more intelligible, may be inferior due to the intrinsic limitations of the language: Þauh hit on Englisch be dim and derk Ne nabbe no sauur bifore [a] clerk, For lewed men þat luitel connen On Englisch hit is þus bigonnen.97 No such apologies are found in King and Four Daughters; rather than being associated with the ‘lewed’, English is simply the language of ‘men of Ingelond’. The prologue to the third Chateau d’Amour translation in this study, The Myrour of Lewed Men, is written in tautly succinct prose (the translation itself is in four-beat couplets). Contained in the unique manuscript of this text (London, British Library, MS Egerton 927), it is the most informative of the three, citing the original author, the translator as an unnamed ‘Monk of Sallay’ (the Cistercian abbey of Sawley in Lancashire) and the interesting claim that this monk has ‘eked mekel therto as him thoght spedeful to edificacion [...] of lewed men’, suggesting that some sort of editorial amplification has also taken place: In the name of the Fader and the Son and the Haly Gast. Here begynnes a romance of Englische of the begynnyng of the world and of al that a lewed man has nede to knawe for hele of soule. This romance turned Munk of Sallay out of a Frenche romance that Sir Robert, Bisschop a[t] Ly[n]coln, made: and eked mekel therto as him thoght spedeful to edificacion and swettenes of 96 97

The Castle of Love, lines 20–7, 28–30, 35–7. Ibid., lines 71–4.

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deuocion and lering of lewed men. And her is no thing sayd bot as haly writ says and grete doctours, and therfor thou that redys this and any comfort has therinne, pray God be way of charite to haue mercy on him that turned it in this maner. And if thou couayt to loue God and to plese him, take Mirrour and loke oft therinne.98 Here there is still an emphasis on the translation being for ‘lewed men’; however, there does not seem to be any particular anxiety associated with making the English translation. The monk’s exemplar is described as a ‘Frenche romance’; given that its author is named as the bishop of Lincoln, ‘French’ would seem to refer to the language rather than the country, and ‘romance’ – which, as this prologue suggests, can be ‘of Englische’ as well as French – appears to mean ‘narrative poem’ rather than ‘the type of writing associated with France’.99 Although the three Chateau d’Amour prologues, as presented here, do seem to display a certain amount of progression in terms of the way translation and the English language were discussed in prologues, it would be facile to draw too definite a conclusion from only three texts; many other unknown variables surrounding the individual circumstances of their composition must also be taken into account. In particular, the Myrour prologue may owe its succinctness to the particular educational circumstances of its monk-translator, rather than to any wider trends in translation. However, their existence is certainly suggestive of the development in the rhetoric of translation observed elsewhere in this chapter. As the fifteenth century progressed, it was no longer necessary to either justify, or explain, the use of English in a translation; it was clear that this was the language of ‘men of Ingelond’.

T

hough the main focus of this study does not go beyond the pre-1450 prologues discussed thus far, it has proved expedient to include a short coda on the prologues of William Caxton. In the course of his publishing and translating career, Caxton wrote 33 prologues and epilogues to books that he published; a high proportion of these were translators’ prologues.100 Many extend over several pages, discussing various aspects of translation in an elaborate, formulaic manner. To read

98

The Myrour of Lewed Men, Grosseteste’s Chateau ed. by Sajavaara, p. 320. All references are to this edition. 99 MED, s.v. romaunce (n.) 2. ‘Romance’ is also used to describe the source text in King and Four Daughters. In her comparison of the King and Four Daughters and Castle of Love prologues, Cathy Hume notes that the word also shares this meaning, suggesting that the ‘exotic status’ that the translator bestowed upon his source by asserting its geographical French origin probably prompted him to describe Grosseteste’s work as a narrative ‘romance’ of this kind, thus ‘giving an impression of leisure rather than devotional reading’. Hume, ‘Lewd Language: English and its Others in Late Medieval Versions of Scripture’, in Multilingualism in Medieval Britain (c. 1066–1520): Sources and Analysis, ed. by Judith A. Jefferson and Ad Putter, with Amanda Hopkins (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), pp. 273–92, esp. 274–9, at p. 278. See also the various examples given by Reinald Hoops, Der Begriff ‘Romance’ in der mittelenglischen und frühneuenglischen Literatur (Heidelberg: Universitätsbuchhandlung C. Winter, 1929), esp. pp. 28–30, where ‘romance’ is shown to mean ‘erzählende Dichtung’ (narrative poem). Examples from the Myrour are given on pp. 29 and 35. 100 All of these are published in Caxton, Prologues and Epilogues, ed. by W. J. B. Crotch.

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these within the wider context of the English translator’s prologue, from Laȝamon onwards, is to realise the extent to which the foundations of Caxton’s prologue practice were laid by his predecessors. Caxton was not a prologue revolutionary, but merely a refiner of a template which had been formulating for the past 300 years. The invention of printing in the late fifteenth century had a considerable effect upon translation, a full-length investigation of which is outside the scope of this chapter.101 With mechanical reproduction there was no place for individual scribal alterations, and a fixed prologue form along with a fixed version of the text was perhaps inevitable. Unprecedented commercial concerns also came into play; Caxton and his contemporaries had to concern themselves with what would be popular with the book-buying public. Caxton introduces his 1490 edition of Eneydos, apparently translated from the French Livre des Eneydes printed at Lyons by Guillaume Le Roy in 1483 (or possibly from a manuscript of the same),102 with a prologue three pages long. In this he manages to include a great number of previously established prologue motifs. To list these briefly, he mentions the translator as craftsman-cum-scholar in his study; the fact that it just so happened that his French source came his way; that his French source was translated from Latin ‘by some noble clerke of fraunce’; the Latin auctor; the beauty of the French language; his decision to translate it into English; the craftsman’s tools; the demands of the audience; Caxton’s inferior skills as a translator; that he followed his exemplar as closely as possible; a reference to his patron; and a concluding prayer for the audience.103 He describes how his source materials came into his hands in a strikingly similar manner to Laȝamon: After dyuerse werkes made / translated and achiued / hauyng noo werke in hande. I sittyng in my studye where as laye many dyuerse paunflettis and bookys. happened that to my hand cam a lytyl booke in frenshe. whiche late was translated oute of latyn by some noble clerke of fraunce whiche booke is named Eneydos [...] In whiche booke I had grete playsyr. by cause of the fayr and honest termes & wordes in frenshe [...] And whan I had aduysed me in this sayd booke. I delybered and concluded to translate it in to englysshe And forthwith toke a penne & ynke and wrote a leef or tweyne / whyche I ouersawe agayn to correcte it.104 The same mixture of cerebral and practical concerns is present: the intellectual pleasure in the original text and the mental process of ‘delyber[ng]’ the translation, and also the concrete imagery of the workplace in the study littered with pamphlets and books, the pen and ink, the careful proofreading of the ‘leef or tweyne’. However, 101

The best study of the transition from script to print is Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, 2 vols (Cambridge: CUP, 1979). 102 See Caxton, Caxton’s Eneydos, 1490, Englisht from the French Liure des Eneydes, 1483, ed. by W. T. Culley and F. J. Furnivall 1483, EETS E.S. 57 (London: N Trübner & Co., 1890), pp. v, 188–214. 103 Caxton, Eneydos prologue, pp. 107–10. 104 Ibid., p. 107.

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Caxton’s prologue is a much more thought-out, self-conscious piece of writing, written with the confidence of an established tradition of English translation behind him. No longer constrained by the need to justify his use of English, he is able to discuss the different varieties of the language with an amused discursiveness (even managing to include a humorous anecdote about the different forms of the word ‘egg’), and endeavours to justify some of the charges laid against him by earlier audiences (indeed, perhaps customers) concerning his lexical choices: And whan I sawe the fayr & straunge termes therin / I doubted that it sholde not please some gentylmen whiche late blamed me sayeng þat in my translacyons I had ouer curyous termes which coude not be vnderstande of comyn people / and desired me to vse olde and homely termes in my translacyons. and feyn wolde I satisfy euery man [...] Therfor in a meane bytwene bothe I haue reduced & translated this sayd booke in to our englysshe not ouer rude ne curyous but in suche termes as shall be vnderstanden by goddys grace accordynge to my copye.105 The literary descendent of Laȝamon’s taking ‘Feþeren [...] mid fingren [...] on boc-felle’ was present in Caxton’s pamphlet-strewn workroom, but much else had changed. To translate into English was no longer innovative but a matter of course; French had moved from a threat to a ‘fayr & straunge’ language from ‘þe lond of France’; Middle English had moved from ‘rude and boystrous’ to an elegant literary language. By the late fifteenth century, the Middle English translator’s prologue had come of age, as had Middle English translation.

T

he 300 year s of French > English prologues surveyed here both reflect a growing translation-consciousness in English writing and actively construct a textual space in which translation could be discussed. From the ‘þrum[ing]’ activity described by Laȝamon to the increasing tendency to name the English language and describe what was taking place as translation which can be seen in those prologues written around 1300, a vocabulary and rhetoric of translation was built up which allowed for the more nuanced consideration of linguistic translation which developed throughout the fourteenth century. Viewed within the context of the corpus, the more familiar prologues of Chaucer and Caxton can be seen as part of the larger story of French > English translation, told through the translator’s prologue. Although no straightforward chronological pattern can be traced in prologue development – the features of individual prologues are often more directly related to genre, or to the still more specific needs of individual texts – when such a large time period is taken into consideration, a more general gradual progression can be observed. The narrative of English as a medium for translation, from an apologetically described ‘dim and derk’ tongue to a language confidently named as ‘our englysshe not ouer rude ne curyous’, is both witnessed and shaped in the translator’s prologue.

105

Ibid., pp. 108–9.

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Chapter 4

The Figure of the Translator

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he basic procedures of medieval translators, in England and elsewhere, are often as obscure as their names. Where did translators find their source texts? Where did they work (at desks, at writing boards, on wax, on slate?) and how did they arrange their exemplars while they worked? In the case of those translating French into English, were they native French speakers or had they acquired the language at a later date? This chapter turns to the figure of the translator, considering how this individual was conceptualised relative to those carrying out other types of writing activity, and attempting to ascertain what more can be said about the kinds of people carrying out translation. Some of the answers to these questions may seem to be given in the prologues in the corpus, which at various points offer apparent nuggets of biographical detail, references to the practicalities of obtaining exemplars, or comments on the relationship between oral and written transmission in the composition and translation of a text. However, it is also necessary to supplement clues contained in prologues with broader manuscript, archaeological and other historical evidence. Comparing these descriptions with what is known about the historical practice of translation allows for an exploration of the relationship between rhetoric and reality, suggesting what prologues might reveal, or conceal, about the working methods of translators. In addition to examining the verbal self-portraits provided in prologues, I will also examine the pictorial depiction of translators in illuminated manuscripts, where author portraits can function as a visual complement to a prologue, and discuss the extent to which an iconography of translation can be identified. The role played by oral transmission in medieval translation and the frequent opposition of ‘clerks’ and ‘minstrels’ in medieval descriptions of composition will also be examined for what they might reveal about the combined use of oral and written sources in translating texts, or the possibilities of a collaborative approach to translation. The Middle English translator’s acquisition of French, which is a large topic in itself, is addressed in the next chapter. Of necessity, the present chapter will range widely, over several centuries, countries and types of source, albeit returning to England as the main point of reference, collecting fragmentary material where it can be found in the hope of assembling a general picture of translation practice.

O

ut of the 26 texts in the corpus, at least eight are written by named translators: the Brut (Laȝamon), Handlyng Synne and the Chronicle (Robert Mannyng), The Ayenbite of Inwyt (Dan Michel), Sir Launfal (Thomas Chestre), William of Palerne (William), The Legend of Good Women prologue (Chaucer) and Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley). La Belle Dame Sans Mercy is generally accepted

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to have been translated by Richard Roos, who is named in one of the seven manuscripts containing the poem (London, British Library, MS Harley 372). It is also possible that the Speculum Vitae was written by William of Nassington, who is credited in London, British Library, Royal 17, MS C. VIII and Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Hatton 19 with having ‘made this tale in Inglys tonge’, although the reliability of these has been disputed. We are fortunate in knowing a good deal about Chaucer, both from his other works and from external references. Although considerably more obscure, Robert Mannyng provides an exceptional amount of biographical detail in his prologues to Handlyng Synne and the Chronicle, and is remarkably forthcoming about his translation methods. Laȝamon and Dan Michel both present their readers with almost diagrammatic sketches of themselves, at once striking and generic. If we accept William of Nassington as the translator of the Speculum Vitae, there is a reasonable amount of external evidence about the author of that text, although there is virtually none within the work itself. The translator naming himself as ‘Quixley’ in his seven-line prologue to Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii his translation of Gower’s Traité pour Essampler les Amants Marietz, provides no other information about himself within his work, but it has been suggested that he is Robert de Quixley, long-serving canon and prior of the Augustinian house of Nostell, and the fact that the unique manuscript may be a holograph (London, British Library, MS Stowe 951) gives potentially valuable clues about the circumstances in which the translation was made. Thomas Chestre and ‘William’, the author of William of Palerne, are the most shadowy figures of the group. All that we learn about Thomas Chestre in Sir Launfal is his name, although the possibility that he might have written Libeaus Desconus and the Southern Octavian may reveal more about him, and the naming of one ‘Thomas de Chestre’ alongside Chaucer and others in a list of soldiers ransomed by Edward III in 1360 during the Hundred Years War has led to further intriguing, though ultimately inconclusive, speculation on the poet’s identity.1 The tantalisingly specific-sounding references in the William of Palerne epilogue to ‘William’ and ‘Sir Humphrey’ have led to a certain amount of scholarly speculation, although there are differing views on William’s identity and the poem’s precise audience. While it is far more common for translators not to name themselves, their professions are sometimes given. Two more texts in the corpus declare themselves 1

In a 1958 article, A. J. Bliss speculated that Chaucer may have been a personal friend of Thomas Chestre, pointing to the former’s familiarity with Chestre’s romances. J. A. Burrow’s 1986 discovery that a ‘Thomas de Chestre’ was named alongside Chaucer in a 1360 list of ransomed soldiers adds intriguing potential weight to this. However, as Ad Putter remarks, ‘It would be nice to think that this “Thomas de Chestre” entertained Chaucer with his romances in his period of captivity, [but] the surname “Chester” is so common that the identification must remain speculative’. A. J. Bliss, ’Thomas Chestre: A Speculation’, Litera 5 (1958), pp. 1–6; J. A. Burrow, ‘The Canterbury Tales I: Romance’, in The Cambridge Chaucer Companion, ed. by Piero Boitani and Jill Mann (Cambridge: CUP, 1986), pp. 109–24; Putter, ‘A Historical Introduction’, The Spirit of Medieval English Popular Romance, ed. by Jane Gilbert and Ad Putter (Harlow: Longman, 2000), pp. 1–15, at p. 13. The list of soldiers is published in Chaucer Life Records, ed. by Martin M. Crow and Clair C. Olson (Oxford: OUP, 1966), p. 24.

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to have been written by clerics: the Cursor Mundi, whose author states that he is a parish priest whose God-given talent for words should not be allowed to ‘rote [...] in hord’ and the Myrour of Lewed Men, translated by a ‘monk of Sawley’.2 For the remaining, anonymous, translations in the corpus, various author candidates have been put forward by critics, not always on firm grounds. It has been suggested that five are the work of priests or clerics (Of Arthour and of Merlin,3 Richard Coer de Lyon,4 the Northern Homily Cycle,5 the Northern Octavian,6 The Knowing of Woman’s Kind7) and four by ‘minstrels’ (Sir Tristem,8 The Seege of Troye,9 Lay le Freine and Sir Orfeo10). The Sowdon of Babylon is thought to have been translated by ‘neither priest nor minstrel’, but by a holder of some other profession,11 and the only identity given to the translator of Partenope of Blois is that of ‘an English Chaucerian’.12 Of the Lay Folks Mass Book and the remaining translations of the Chasteau d’Amour – The Castle of Love and King and Four Daughters – there is no information, although the subject

2

Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, l. 23893; Myrour of Lewed Men, ed. by K. Sajavaara, Robert Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour, p. 321. 3 Kyng Alisaunder, ed. by G. V. Smithers, 2 vols, EETS O.S. 227, 237 (London: OUP, 1952–7), vol. 2, p. 60. 4 Brunner, Richard Löwenherz, p. 70. 5 Thomas J. Heffernan believes it to be ‘a product of the Austin Canons’. Heffernan, ‘The Authorship of the “Northern Homily Cycle”: The Liturgical Affiliation of the Sunday Gospel Pericopes as a Test’, Traditio 41 (1985), pp. 289–309, at p. 292. 6 Octavian: Zwei mittelenglische Bearbeitungen der Sage, ed. by Gregor Sarrazin (Heilbronn: G. Henninger, 1885), p. xliv. 7 Monica Green, Making Women’s Medicine Masculine: The Rise of Male Authority in Pre-Modern Gynaecology (Oxford: OUP, 2008), p. 185. 8 Sir Tristrem, mit Einleitung, Anmerkungen und Glossar, ed. by Eugen Kölbing (Heilbronn: G. Henninger, 1882), pp. xxvi–xxxii. This view has been criticised by Bertram Vogel, who suggests ‘it may well be that, after all, the author of Sir Tristrem was [...] a cosmopolitan Londoner’. Vogel, ‘The Dialect of Sir Tristrem’, JEGP 40 (1941), pp. 538–44, at p. 543. 9 The Seege or Batayle of Troye: Edited from MSS Lincoln’s Inn 150, Egerton 2862, Arundel XXII, with Harley 525 included in the Appendix, ed. by Mary Elizabeth Barnicle, EETS O.S. 172 (London: OUP, 1927), pp. xxxiii–xxxvii. 10 A. J. Bliss does not discuss the identity of the original author, but speculates that the version in the Harley manuscript ‘was written down by a minstrel from memory’. Bliss, Sir Orfeo, p. xvi. See also Robert M. Longsworth, ‘Sir Orfeo, the Minstrel, and the Minstrel’s Art’, Studies in Philology 79 (1982), pp. 1–11; though endorsing the idea of minstrel authorship, Longsworth is cautious as to the number of people involved, referring throughout his article to the ‘maker or makers’ of the poem. Bliss suggests that Sir Orfeo and Lay le Freine share a common authorship (pp. xliv–xlvii); however, this has been disputed by John B. Beston, ‘The Case Against Common Authorship of “Lay le Freine” and “Sir Orfeo”’, Medium Ævum 45 (1976), pp. 153–63, at p. 155, who suggests that a ‘clerical mind’ can be discerned at work in the making of Lay le Freine. 11 H. M. Smyser, ‘The Sowdon of Babylon and its Author’, Harvard Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature 13 (1931), pp. 185–218, at p. 210. 12 See B. J. Whiting, ‘A Fifteenth-Century English Chaucerian: The Translator of Partonope of Blois’, Mediaeval Studies 7 (1945), pp. 40–54; also Brenda Hosington, ‘Partenopeu de Blois and its Fifteenth-Century English Translation: A Medieval Translator at Work’, in The Medieval Translator vol. 2, ed. by Roger Ellis (London: Centre for Medieval Studies, Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London, 1991), pp. 231–52.

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matter suggests that these might also have been translated by clerics.13 It should be stressed, however, that much of this is speculation of doubtful value. Several of these judgements were made by nineteenth- or early-twentieth-century editors based on scanty evidence, but have become received wisdom over the decades and thus have often remained unchallenged. Furthermore, identifying medieval authors by profession, even using such generalised terms as ‘clerk’ and ‘minstrel’, is problematic; a great many different kinds of people are concealed behind the term ‘clerk’, and the range of occupations of those identified as ‘minstrels’ is immensely varied.14 Moreover, as shall be seen, there appears to have been a good deal of overlap between the two professions. It is especially difficult to identify ‘minstrel writers’ or, for the purposes of this study, ‘minstrel translators’, because of the confusion surrounding the social origin of these entertainers and the nature of the entertainment(s) they provided. The idea of classifying Sir Launfal, Lay le Freine and other such texts with a broad appeal as ‘minstrel romances’ is more problematic still; although minstrels did indeed recite romances and sing-songs in both French and English, and there is evidence of literacy among them, little can be said with certainty about the way in which these French romances came to be translated and recorded, and how they eventually found their way into manuscripts like the Auchinleck and the Cotton Caligula containing Sir Launfal. Whilst this chapter will not attempt to reconsider or overturn all of the judgements made by previous critics regarding the identification of the translators of the corpus, it is hoped that a more comprehensive understanding of the conventions surrounding the presentation of the translator figure, gained through a consideration of a group of prologues rather than through examination of individual texts (which was the case with several of these earlier studies), will allow for a clearer differentiation between archetypes and real practice.

‘Feþeren he nom mid fingren’: The Figure of the Translator in Literary Sources

T

he focus on the translator figure himself was a constant and ever-developing feature of medieval translators’ prologues. The importance placed on this

13

In his 1879 edition, Thomas Frederick Simmons spends a good deal of time attempting to identify ‘Dan Jeremy’, whom he names as the author of the original French treatise, following the English translator’s apparent identification in Texts A, B and E (given in B, lines 17–18, as ‘In boke fynde I [wryten] of ane, | dam Ieremy was his name’), although as Simmons’ Texts C (Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS 155) and D (Cambridge University Library, MS Gg. 5. 31) substitute this name for that of ‘Saynte Ierome’, this identification is surely not conclusive. However, he says very little about the translator. K. Sajavaara suggests that The Castle of Love may have been translated by an inexperienced poet, due to the large number of identical rhymes or rhymes based on assonance. Simmons, ed., The Lay Folks Mass Book, or, the Manner of Hearing Mass, with Rubrics and Devotions for the People in Four Texts, and Offices in English According to the Use of York, EETS O.S. 71 (London: N. Trübner & Co., 1879), pp. xxxi–xxxiv; Sajavaara, ed., Robert Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour,, p. 153. 14 For discussion of the terms ‘clerk’ and ‘minstrel’, see below.

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would appear to stem from the ‘efficient cause’ of the Aristotelian prologue model, which dictated that an auctor should be named; in translators’ prologues, the translator could be named as a new or additional author.15 However, when it comes to identifying real translators or real practices in these prologues, there are problems in separating archetype from practice. Even where translators are named, there is often little direct evidence concerning the day-to-day practicalities of translation beyond generic references to pens and paper, long hours of hard study and the lack of skill on the part of the translator. Occasionally, we are given a more concrete clue as to a translator’s linguistic abilities, as in the late fifteenth-century Romans of Partenay where the translator warns the reader, with a blaze of aureate vocabulary, that he is ‘not aqueynted of birth naturall | With fre[n]sh his verray trew parfightnesse, | Nor enpreynted is in mynde cordiall’, and so ‘O word for other myght take by lachesse | Or perauenture by vnconnyngnesse’.16 However, for the most part, prologues and prologue-type material reveal little about specific translation processes or individual translators. The problems of identifying translators by name are further enhanced by the existence of a long-standing tradition in medieval literature favouring secrecy and obfuscation in the naming of the author. Despite the Aristotelian prologue model’s emphasis on naming, there often seems to have been a reluctance to do so in a straightforward manner; author names are frequently disguised, either playfully or with more serious purpose. Langland’s rebus-like ‘I have lyved in londe [...] my name is Longe Wille’17 is one of the best known English examples of a concealed name, but similar quibbles can be seen in much earlier medieval texts.18 The question of whether the author’s name should be revealed or concealed was evidently given a considerable amount of thought in the Anglo-Norman tradition; both options have been presented as conscious, considered choices in various texts. The AngloNorman Manuel des Pechiez, for example, makes a point of omitting the name of the author from its prologue (although William of Waddington is named in the epilogue), explaining ‘Mun nun ne vus voil ci nomer, | Car deu sul qeor luer’ (I do not

15

H. E. Allen has suggested that ‘[t]he requirement for the mention of the author’s name, inherent in the most common forms of the [scholastic prologue] scheme [...] is probably responsible in part for the break in the mediaeval tradition of anonymous circulation which is specially to be observed in Anglo-Norman literature’. Allen, ‘The Manuel des Pechiez and the Scholastic Prologue’, Romanic Review 8 (1917), pp. 434–62, at p. 458. 16 16 Romans of Partenay, ed. by W. W. Skeat, The Romans of Partenay, or of Lusignan: Otherwise Known as the Tale of Melusine, Translated from the French of La Coudrette (before 1500 AD)..., EETS O.S. 22 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1899), lines 8–12. 17 William Langland, Piers Plowman, ed. by A. V. C. Schmidt, The Vision of Piers Plowman, B Text, 2nd edn (London: Everyman, 1995), XV, line 152. All references are to this edition. 18 For a discussion of ‘ludic’ and otherwise obscured signatures in texts, see Laurence de Looze, ‘Signing Off in the Middle Ages: Medieval Textuality and Strategies of Authorial Self-Naming’, in Vox Intexta: Orality and Textuality in the Middle Ages, ed. by A. N. Doane and Carol Braun Pasternack (Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), pp. 162–82.

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want to give you my name here, because I seek to praise God alone).19 The author of the late-twelfth-century Life of St Giles, by contrast, declares that ‘Il ne quert pas sun nun celer: | Gwillame ad nun de Bernevile, | ki par amur Deu e seint Gile | enprist cest labur e cest fes’ (He does not seek to hide his name: William it is, of Berneville, who for the love of God and St Giles undertook this labour and this burden); the question of concealment is still considered, even if the eventual choice is to eschew it.20 The anonymous nun of Barking, by contrast, writes that ‘sun num n’i vult dire a ore, | Kar bien set n’est pas digne unkore’ (she does not wish to tell her name at present, for well she knows that she is not yet worthy).21 In Middle English writing, this convention would appear to stem from the Anglo-Norman tradition; some translations can be seen adopting the motif directly from their exemplars. For instance, the second English translation of the Manuel des Pechiez, the late-fourteenth-century prose Of Shrifte and Penance, takes its cue from its original in this respect, its declaration that ‘I nel nat telle my name, for of God only I aske mede’ echoing the Manuel’s ‘Mun nun ne vus voil ci nomer, | Car deu sul qeor luer’.22 Whether named or not, medieval poets typically adopted an authorial voice that was both individual and universal. The clerkly narrator character presented in numerous texts from the earliest vernacular romances onwards (of which the example par excellence is Guillaume de Lorris’ Amans in the Roman de la Rose), among other things, offers the (male) reader a textual alter ego with whom he can identify.23 Anne Middleton has written of ‘public poetry’ with the ‘common voice’ of an Everyman which was called for in the Ricardian era; this Everyman voice was, to a greater or lesser extent, prevalent throughout medieval literature.24 This universal authorial persona was extended to cover the act of writing itself; specific-seeming images found in so many medieval texts of the author buried amongst books in his study, or finding an old book from which he draws inspiration, are also highly conventional literary motifs.25 19

Manuel des Pechiez, ed. by F. J. Furnivall, Roberd of Brunne’s Handlyng Synne (written A. D. 1303): With the French Treatise on Which it is Founded, Le Manuel des Pechiez, by William of Wadington... (London: J. B. Nichols and Sons, for the Roxburghe Club, 1862), lines 121–2. 20 Guillaume de Berneville, La Vie de Saint Gilles, ed. and trans. by Françoise Laurent (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2003), lines 3764–7. 21 La Vie d’Edouard le confesseur, ed. by Östen Södergård, La Vie d’Edouard le confesseur: Poème anglonormand du XIII siècle (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiskell, 1948), lines 298–9. All references are to this edition. For further examples of Anglo-Norman signatures, see M. Dominica Legge, Anglo-Norman in the Cloisters: The Influence of the Orders upon Anglo-Norman Literature (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1950), passim. 22 Of Shrifte and Penance, ed. by Klaus Bitterling, Of Shrifte and Penance: The ME Prose Translation of Le Manuel des Péchés (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag C. Winter, 1998), p. 34. All references are to this edition. 23 Assuming, of course, that translator and reader are male; see Chapter 6 for a discussion of women translators. 24 Anne Middleton, ‘The Idea of Public Poetry in the Reign of Richard II’, in Medieval English Poetry, ed. by Stephanie Trigg (Harlow: Longman, 1993), pp. 24–46. 25 For the ‘old book’ motif, see e.g. Christian Angelet, ‘Le topos du manuscrit trouvé: considérations historiques et typologiques’, in Le Topos du manuscrit trouvé: Hommages à Christian Angelet. Actes du

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The extent to which this figure was altered or augmented in translations depended on the extent to which the narrative ‘I’ voice of the translator diverged from that of the original author. It is well known that medieval writers tended to have an enlarged view of authorship, whereby more than one writer could be included under the umbrella of a single narrator or auctor figure; ‘John Mandeville’, for example, becomes a character in his own right in the Travels, in whose voice various writers and translators speak.26 This phenomenon has been observed by Leo Spitzer, who notes that medieval translators sometimes adopted autobiographical details from their source text when writing under their own name; describing Marie de France’s assimilation of the call which the monk ‘H.’ of Saltry received to write her translation of his Tractatus de Purgatorio S. Patricii, Spitzer writes, ‘The story [...] belonged to humanity: Marie de France as well as the Monk of Saltry [...] will assert that the call has come to her (too)’.27 This can be seen in one of the prologues in the corpus; the colophon to the Vernon version of The Castle of Love, for instance, implies that Grosseteste himself wrote the English text before the reader rather than the French exemplar used by the translator: Her beyginnet a tretys Þat is yclept Castel off Loue, Þat Bisschop Grosteyȝt made ywis For lewede mennes byhoue.28 A similar impulse can be seen in the ‘silent’ translation Of Shrifte and Penance, which contains no translator’s prologue; its echoing of its original by concealing the identity of its author takes on an additional significance when one considers that the identity of the translator – and indeed that translation has taken place at all – is also being concealed.29 Even the confusion surrounding the ‘Tomas’ named as an author in the Sir Tristrem prologue, discussed in Chapter 3, could be at least partly explained colloque international, Louvain-Gand, 22–23–24 mai 1997, ed. by Jan Herman and Fernand Hallyn, with Kris Peeters (Leuven: Éditions Peeters, 1999), pp. xxxi–liv. 26 The Cotton, Bodley and Defective versions of Mandeville, for instance, both adopt the ‘I’ persona of ‘Ioon Maundeuyle kniȝt’, but contain interpolations which indicate that the translations could not possibly be the work of the original writer. Cotton version ed. by M. C. Seymour, Mandeville’s Travels (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), p. 3; Bodley version ed. by Seymour, The Bodley Version of Mandeville’s Travels, EETS O.S. 253 (Oxford: OUP, 1963), p. 3; Defective version ed. by Seymour, The Defective Version of Mandeville’s Travels, EETS O.S. 319 (Oxford: OUP, 2002), p. 5. 27 Leo Spitzer, ‘Note on the Empirical and Poetic “I” in Medieval Authors’, in Romanische Literaturstudien, 1936–1956 (Tübingen: M. Niemeyer, 1959), pp. 100–12, at p. 103. 28 The Castle of Love, Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Eng. poet. a. 1 (the Vernon manuscript), fol. 293r, printed in Sajavaara, Robert Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour, p. 260. 29 Of Shrifte and Penance, p. 34. Some English translations go still further than this; there are ‘silent’ translations such as the The London Lapidary of King Philip (c. 1350–1400) whose prologues describe themselves as being written in French, this very declaration being an indication that they are, in fact, translated from French: ‘For the loue of Philippe Kyng of Fraunce [...] He þat this boke purchaced sought many Abbeyes & clerkis [...] & did translate hit out of latyn in-to Frensche.’ Ed. by Joan Evans and Mary S. Serjeantson, English Mediaeval Lapidaries, EETS O.S. 190 (London: OUP, 1933), p. 17.

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by the possibility that the poet envisaged himself, to some extent, as sharing the voice of his auctor. Perhaps the most audacious example of all in medieval literature of an adopted voice, however, is that of Die Rose (c. 1300), one of the two Middle Dutch translations of the Roman de la Rose, where the Dutch poet, Heinric, boldly replaces the name of Guillaume de Lorris with his own during the midpoint section of the text where Amour names Guillaume and Jean de Meun as the poem’s authors, with Jean described as Heinric’s ‘geselle’ (companion).30 However, where translated texts do offer a separate image of the translator, he is often presented as an ‘Everytranslator’ in the mould of the Everyman narrators, with a clearly drawn clerkly figure introducing the work to the audience, providing an accessible way into a foreign text. Looking again at a Dutch example, one of the most striking instances of a medieval text possessing a separate translator persona of this kind is that of the Flemish translation of the Roman de la Rose (c. 1290). Here the Amans figure, the ‘je’ of Guillaume and Jean’s original, is split into two characters, Jolijs ( Joyous Lover) and Minre met Groter Quale (Lover with a Serious Sickness), representing the lover before and after he has experienced love. In an original frame narrative added by the Flemish translator, Minre rides out from his Flanders town of ‘Alverioene’ into a woodland glade where he meets Jolijs and his lady. He asks Jolijs to tell the story of his success in love, at which point a close translation of Guillaume’s text begins.31 The ‘Everylover’ status accorded to the French text’s Amans, his age and status being both particular and universal, is here transferred to Minre; while Jolijs is described as a mysterious, even supernatural (‘elfish’) figure, Minre is presented as an archetypal yet familiar Flanders-born youth with whom the audience might be expected to identify.32 Another split between translator and original author personae, though one which does not go quite so far as the Flemish Rose, can also be found in one of the Middle English prologues in this book’s corpus, that of La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (c. 1450). In the first four stanzas of the poem, Roos’ narrator declares that he has 30

Heinric, Die Rose, ed. by Eelco Verwijs, Die Rose van Heinric van Aken, met de fragmenten der tweede vertaling (s’Gravenhage: M. Nijhoff, 1868; repr. Utrecht: H&S, 1976), line 9935. All references are to this edition. 31 The Flemish Rose, ed. by Klaas Heeroma, 1958. De fragmenten van de Tweede Rose: avec un résumé en français (Zwolle: W. E. J. Tjeenk Willink, 1958), Fragment Ab1. For discussion of this frame narrative, see D. E. van der Poel, ‘The Romance of the Rose and “I”: Narrative Perspective in the Roman de la Rose and its Two Middle Dutch Adaptations’, Courtly Literature – Culture and Context: Selected Papers from the 5th Triennial Congress of the International Courtly Literature Society, Dalfsen, the Netherlands, 9–16 August, 1986, ed. by Keith Busby and Erik Kooper (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1990), pp. 573–83. 32 The recognisable, unthreatening nature of these characters has the same effect as the sturdily ordinary narrators of much medieval dream-vision poetry, who are also ‘translators’ of a sort, functioning as a link between the known world of the audience and the fantastical dream world by providing a character with whom readers can identify, such as the ‘dased quayle’ narrator of the Middle English Pearl. (The Poems of the Pearl Manuscript, ed. by Malcolm Andrew and Ronald Waldron (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 1999), lines 1085–6). The lack of distinction made by Chaucer between his prologue alter ego in the Legend and those in his other works, such as his obtusely questioning dreamer in The Book of the Duchess, serves to underline this point.

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been given a ‘charge […] to translat’ Chartier’s poem ‘by and by | […] as part of my penaunce’.33 Expressing reluctance due to his ‘unconnyng […] and gret simplesse’ he nevertheless sets out to translate the work by taking a literal journey, ‘casting on [his] clothes’ and walking to ‘a lusty grene valy | Full of floures’. In this locus amoenus, evidently more conducive to the task of translating a love debate, he is ‘bolded’ to begin his task.34 In this poem, no new Jolijs-like narrator figure is introduced, and by the fifth stanza, the ‘I’ voice of the poem has merged with that of the original – enlarging itself to encompass the original voice in the manner of Spitzer’s model – as the translation proper begins, with Roos’ ‘Not long agoo, ryding an esy paas, | I felle in thought’ echoing Chartier’s ‘Naguieres, chevauchant, pensoie’ (Not so long ago, while out riding, I was thinking).35 However, Roos’ framing prologue would seem to have been introduced precisely to distinguish the ‘I’ persona of the translator from the ‘je’ of Chartier’s dit.36 The scene is similar in construction to that of the earlier Flemish poem; again, the narrator literally travels outside his ordinary, familiar surroundings into the locus amoenus world of the French text itself, returning with an artefact of French literary culture to share with his new audience. At times the translator can be portrayed as a quotidian or even comical character. The ‘Chaucer’ featured in The Legend of Good Women prologue is particularly well developed as a foolish, ‘nyce’ translator persona, who ‘may translate a thyng in no malyce’. Despite the far greater amount of incidental detail given in this prologue, in his assertions that ‘On bokes for to rede I me delyte’ and references to his collection of ‘sixty bokes olde and newe’ he is also simply a more amusing version of the archetypal translator as diligent, lone scholar, though subverting this image in typically Chaucerian fashion.37 The archetypal nature of the translator figure as presented in prologues means that one should be wary of interpreting the information provided as a description of the personal circumstances of individual translators. Extensive biographical discussion of these translators has, for the most part, been amply covered elsewhere.38 However, a short examination of two apparent self-portraits provided in prologues 33

Roos, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, in Chaucerian Dream Visions and Complaints, ed. by Dana M. Symons (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2004), lines 9–10. All references are to this edition. 34 Ibid., lines 17, 22, 24. 35 La Belle Dame Sans Mercy, lines 29–30; Alain Chartier, La belle dame sans mercy, in The Quarrel of the Belle dame sans mercy, ed. and trans. by Joan E. McRae (New York: Routledge, 2004), line 1. 36 The frame prologue is also distinguished by rubrics in manuscripts of La Belle Dame Sans Mercy; see e.g. Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Fairfax 16, fol. 50r, reproduced in facsimile as MS Fairfax 16: Bodleian Library, introd. by John Smith (London: Scolar Press, 1979). For a brief discussion of Roos’ differentiation of the ‘I’ voice of his translation and that of Chartier’s poem, see Ad Putter, ‘Fifteenth-Century Chaucerian Visions’, in A Companion to Fifteenth-Century Poetry, ed. by Julia Boffey and A. S. G. Edwards (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2013), pp. 143–56, at pp. 150–1. 37 The Legend of Good Women, F Prologue, lines 30, 273. Chaucer’s depiction of his narrator in this prologue has much in common with his Canterbury Tales Clerk, who desires to have ‘at his beddes heed | Twenty bookes, clad in blak or reed’. ‘General Prologue’, Fragment A, lines 293–4. 38 For brief biographical information on the translators, see Appendix 3.

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from the corpus – those of Laȝamon and Dan Michel – will serve to illustrate some of the problems involved in distinguishing real practice from archetype. As these examples demonstrate, prologues often provide material which is, as far as can be ascertained through comparison with records and other external sources, biographically accurate, and they are therefore an invaluable resource in adding to our knowledge of the circumstances of particular translators; however, the imagery drawn upon by the translators to represent themselves is invariably archetypal rather than individual. LaȜamon begins boldly by writing himself into the first line, quickly following this with a sketch of his background: An preost was on leoden. Laȝ amon wes ihoten. He wes Leouenaðes sone. liðe him beo Drihten. he wonede at Ernleȝe. at æðelen are chirchen. vppen Suarne staþe. sel þar him þute. on-fest Radestone, þer he bock radde. [There was a priest in the land who was called Laȝamon; he was the son of Leovenath – God be merciful to him! He lived at Areley, by a noble church on the bank of the Severn, close to Redstone – he thought it pleasant there; there he read books.]39 These opening lines provide a good deal of biographical information: he is a priest called Laȝamon (or Lawman), he is the son of Leovenath and he has, or had, a living at Areley in a church for whose eminence in the diocese he makes a major claim (‘at æðelen are chirechen’) by the bank of the river Severn, near Redstone, where he lived a studious life. The firm placing of his name several times within the prologue, and the readily identifiable geographical details provided, would seem to suggest that he wishes to establish himself in relation to a set of contingent circumstances, giving him more individuality than might otherwise be the case.40 Laȝamon’s description certainly tallies with what we know about Areley Kings, about ten miles from Worcester. However, the portrait of Laȝamon is also highly iconographic; the Areley location aside, the image of a studious priest-author is a very conventional one, found in both verbal and visual depictions of authors from the earliest Middle Ages. In Chapter 3 we saw how the image of the writer at his desk poring over exemplars, featuring in English prologues from Laȝamon to Caxton, was used to indicate translation; despite the seemingly vivid picture this provides, such images should not necessarily be understood literally as a description of real practice. Similar tensions between the individual and the iconographic can be seen in Dan Michel’s presentation of himself in the prologue to The Ayenbite of Inwyt, a sometimes awkwardly literal translation of the Somme le Roi which has attracted relatively 39 40

Brut, Cotton Caligula version, lines 1–5; Laȝamon: Brut, trans. Barron and Weinberg, p. 3. Weinberg, ‘By a noble church’, p.  50, notes the ‘striking [...] unusually personal aspect of the introduction’.

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little critical attention as a literary work, but which is of interest for the insight it provides into its creation in its unique, apparently autograph, manuscript (London, British Library, MS Arundel 57). Somewhat unusually, Michel provides an exact date and location for his work, revealing on fol. 2r that ‘Þis boc is dan Michelis of Northgate / y-write an englis of his oȝene hand. þet hatte: Ayenbite of inwyt’, and adding in a later colophon that it was made ‘of ane broþer of þe cloystre of saynt austin of Canterberi / Ine þe yeare of oure lhordes beringe. 1340’.41 On the same folio he follows this with a dolefully defiant quatrain on old age, which is presumably meant to represent himself: Blind . and dyaf . and alsuo domb. Of zeuenty yer al uol rond. Ne ssolle by draȝe to þe grond: Vor peny / uor Mark / ne uor pond. [Blind, and deaf, and also dumb; A full seventy years all round. I shan’t be dragged to the ground For a penny, for a mark, or for a pound.]42 The specificity of Michel’s dating and the additional information that he wrote out the book himself are indisputably invaluable in adding to our sense of literary activity in mid-fourteenth-century Canterbury, and have encouraged attempts to identify him. A. E. Emden has suggested that Dan Michel can be identified with a secular clerk of the same name, whose ordination as priest in 1296 to the title of St Sepulchre’s Priory for female religious at Canterbury is recorded in the Register of Robert Winchelsey.43 If this is the same secular clerk, Dan Michel would indeed have been an old man when he wrote the book; his age would also explain his inclusion of the quatrain. Had he been ordained at the age of thirty-two, the usual time of life for ordination to the priesthood, he would have been seventy-six in 1340, and even if he had a dispensation to be ordained at a younger age, he would still have been approximately ‘zeuenty yer al uol rond’. It is likely, though, that the quatrain is a wry appropriation of a pre-existing rhyme about ageing rather than a literal self-portrait, an archetypal image of the elderly yet wise scholar in his study; a man capable of translating the Somme le Roi must have been in reasonable health.44 His advanced 41

Dan Michel, Dan Michel’s Ayenbite of Inwyt: or, Remorse of Conscience; in the Kentish Dialect, 1340 A.D., ed. by Richard Morris, EETS O.S. 23 (London: OUP, 1866), pp. 1, 262. All references are to this edition. 42 Ibid., pp. 1; translation my own. Dan Michel’s Gilbertine near-contemporary, Robert Mannyng, is another example of a Middle English translator who provides dates and locations for his work in this way. 43 A. B. Emden, Donors of Books to S. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury (Oxford: Oxford Bibliographical Society, 1968), p. 14; Robert Winchelsey, Registrum Roberti Winchelsey, Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi, A.D. 1294–1313, ed. by Rose Graham, 2 vols (Oxford: OUP, 1952–6), vol. 2, p. 914. 44 One could perhaps compare this verse with some of the anonymous lyrics on ageing and death scribbled in flyleaves of monastic manuscripts, e.g. the well-known catalogue of decay which begins

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years, however, could explain the seemingly archaic form of English which he uses.45 Michel’s use of the quatrain is therefore helpful in creating a picture of the type of person he was; however, one must be aware of its limitations as a reflection of his individuality or personal circumstances. These two examples are sufficient to demonstrate that descriptions of translators in prologues – like those of other types of medieval writers – are frequently a mixture of individual biographical detail and archetypal imagery. One does not preclude the other; there seems no reason to doubt the historical veracity of the details given, for instance, of Laȝamon’s living at Areley and Dan Michel’s old age. However, one must also be aware of the extent to which such descriptions also make use of archetypes.

The Figure of the Transl ator in Pictorial Sources

I

n a chapter which discusses verbal ‘portraits’ of translators in prologues, it would seem unwise to ignore the large number of visual images of writers, scribes and – in some cases – translators which can be found in illuminated manuscripts. In many instances these images are placed at the beginning of the text as author portraits; they therefore function as visual counterparts to written prologues, shaping and directing audience expectations of the text. Although there does not seem to have been a specific iconography of translation, some images, I shall argue, appear to be concerned with representing the translation process; such images are another piece of evidence as to how translation, and translators, were imagined in the Middle Ages. From a more archaeological perspective, these images also frequently provide valuable incidental details about writing practice in terms of the scribal equipment they display, such as writing-boards, desks, book cupboards or the arrangement of exemplars in front of the writer. Given the dearth of physical remains in terms of libraries, places of book-storage and desks, such images can provide some sense of the equipment used and the day-to-day business of writing. Hardly any medieval

‘Whanne mine eyhen misten, | And mine eren sissen’. In Middle English Lyrics, ed. by Maxwell S. Luria and Richard L. Hoffman (New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 1974), lyric 234, lines 1–2. 45 The Ayenbite’s ‘engliss of kent’ contains a number of apparently conservative features, such as its z-spellings as a reflex of S, a form typical of the Kentish dialect but one which is rarely found in manuscripts contemporary with that of the Ayenbite manuscript due to the growing standardisation of written English; see Jeremy J. Smith, ‘The Letters S and Z in South-Eastern Middle English’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 101 (2000), pp. 403–12. It is difficult, however, to draw too many conclusions from the English of the Ayenbite, due to the paucity of other contemporary Kentish texts with which to compare it. For a detailed analysis of the Ayenbite’s language, see Pamela Gradon, Dan Michel’s Ayenbite of Inwyt, Vol. II, Introduction, Notes and Glossary, EETS O.S. 278 (Oxford: OUP, 1979), pp. 14–107. The use of archaic language due to old age could also be one explanation of Laȝamon’s archaisms; this would add weight to Barron’s hypothesis that Laȝamon came to write his Brut after being employed as a household chaplain in later life. W. R. J. Barron, ‘The Idiom and the Audience of Laȝamon’s Brut’, in Laȝamon: Contexts, Language and Interpretation, ed. by Rosamund Allen, Lucy Perry and Jane Roberts (London: King’s College London, Centre for Late Antique & Medieval Studies, 2002), p.171.

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book-stores or library rooms survive intact, and there are no surviving examples of medieval scriptorium or library furniture before the fifteenth century.46 However, visual depictions of such objects are far more abundant. As with the verbal descriptions of translators, there can be pitfalls in relying overly on information provided in pictorial representations as a key to real practice; many of the images are not intended to be literal records of how writing and translating took place. However, keeping the need for caution in mind, there is still much to be gained from a consideration of these depictions. Like the prologues themselves, even if the images do not always provide hard evidence of the individual circumstances of particular writers, they do suggest how readers were meant to envisage these circumstances. These images would typically have been added by an illuminator at a later stage in the history of the text than the composition of the prologue itself.47 In addition to functioning as visual counterparts to verbal descriptions of translation, therefore, in some cases these images can also be understood as a response to, or commentary on, the descriptions of translation contained in the prologues themselves. Many of the images discussed in this chapter are not taken from manuscripts of the texts in the corpus, but from a wider range of both earlier English and continental manuscripts. This is a necessary broadening of scope; illustrations in English-language manuscripts are rare before the fifteenth century, with most being relatively plain productions. The Auchinleck manuscript, which originally contained a miniature at the beginning of every item, is a notable exception, the author portrait of Laȝamon in the Caligula Brut manuscript, which is the first image discussed here, another.48 Even these illustrations, however, are relatively pedestrian in quality in comparison with the many lavishly illuminated Latin and French manuscripts produced at similar dates; the lack of lavish presentation copies of English-language texts is a further indication of the relatively peripheral status of English as a literary

46

Three lecterns survive from the fifteenth-century library room at Lincoln Cathedral; however, such survivals are few and far between. Some documentary evidence for equipment such as lecterns can be found in accounts and other records; the accounts of Lincoln College, Oxford, for example, show that its library had some half- or single desks installed as well as double ones; see Richard Gameson, ‘The Physical Setting: 1 (a) The Medieval Library (to c. 1450)’, in The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland, ed. by E. S. Leedham-Green and others (Cambridge: CUP, 2006), pp. 13–50, at pp. 33, 36. 47 In the early Middle Ages, evidence suggests that the scribe and the illuminator may often have been the same person; however, by the twelfth century, illumination was becoming increasingly specialised work, with artists employed solely to illuminate. However, illustrations were almost always added at a later stage in a manuscript’s production than the copying of the text. Even in such cases where a prologue might have been written especially for an individual manuscript, therefore, illuminators would generally have been able to see this on the page in front of them. See Jonathan J. G. Alexander, Medieval Illuminators and their Methods of Work (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993), esp. pp. 6–23, 40. 48 For a description of the five remaining illustrations in the Auchinleck, see the relevant page of the online facsimile edition of the manuscript, which contains links to the images themselves [accessed 24 November 2015].

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language before the late fourteenth century.49 After 1400, author portraits start to appear in English-language texts: the decorative Ellesmere manuscript of the Canterbury Tales and the portrait of ‘worthy maistir Chaucer’ in the copy of Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes preserved in London, British Library, MS Harley 4866 provide the earliest instances of what has become the iconic image of Chaucer the pilgrim, and other manuscripts of a similar or slightly later date contain images of writers such as Gower, Langland and Lydgate.50 As none of these images depict the writing process, however, they are not discussed here; rather, this section will concentrate on more clerkly images of writers writing.51 However, the depiction of writers and scribes in a selection of manuscripts from a wider temporal and geographical range is by no means irrelevant to the way in which these professionals were viewed in England during the period covered in this study. The international nature of medieval book production, where manuscripts frequently travelled long distances before being used as exemplars, and where scribes and illuminators often moved between workshops and ateliers across Europe, means that particular images were not necessarily confined to a particular place or even time. Whilst one should be wary of drawing too narrowly area-specific conclusions from these images, a more general gleaning of pictorial information will surely add to our understanding of the medieval concept of the translator figure, in England and elsewhere. The first image considered here, however, relates directly to one of the prologues in the corpus: that of the image of the cleric writing inside the initial ‘A’ on fol. 3r of the Caligula manuscript of Laȝamon’s Brut [Fig. 1]. His hand holds a pen over an open book (or possibly a writing tablet), which appears to be resting on a faintly drawn writing desk. He is tonsured and robed, and is sitting on a bench, facing right, with his right leg extended slightly. This, the reader might assume, is intended to be an image of Laȝamon, beginning his chronicle as described in the prologue: Feþeren he nom mid fingren. & fiede on boc-felle & þa soþere word sette to-gadere.52 Some scholars have suggested that the image in the Caligula manuscript is indeed intended to depict Laȝamon himself. Rosamund Allen, for example, describes the 49

For an excellent discussion of manuscript production in medieval Paris, see Mary A. Rouse and Richard H. Rouse, Manuscripts and their Makers: Commercial Book Producers in Medieval Paris 1200–1500, 2 vols (Turnhout: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2000). 50 For Gower see the Vox Clamantis in Glasgow, University Library, MS Hunter 59, fol. 6v (c. 1400), which depicts Gower shooting an arrow at the world; for Lydgate see The Fall of Princes in Montreal, McGill University, MS 143, fol. 4r (15th century), where Lydgate is shown presenting his book to a crowned figure, probably Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester; for Langland, see Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS CCC. 201, fol. 1r (15th century), which portrays Will asleep. 51 The Chaucer images in particular have been extensively treated by Pearsall, The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer, pp. 285–305, and Elizabeth Salter, ‘Introduction’, in Troilus and Criseyde: A Facsimile of Corpus Christi College, MS 61, with introductions by M. B. Parkes and Elizabeth Salter (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1978), pp. 15–23. 52 Brut, Cotton Caligula version, lines 26­–7.

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Fig. 1  Laȝamon writing. London, British Library, MS Cotton Caligula A. IX, fol. 3r (probably Worcester, c. 1300–1325). miniature as ‘LaȜamon habited as a Benedictine monk’.53 It seems more probable, though, that the Caligula illuminator intended it as a more general, iconographic image of an author. Neil Cartlidge has commented that the image seems most likely to have been intended ‘as an attempt to condition expectations about the text itself. As a description of the process of writing history, it asserts not only that the genre lies typically in the province of monks but also that the process is a laborious, learned and unworldly one.’54 Whilst this might be taking the disappearance of the author too far, there is nothing in the picture which gives the man any real sense of individuality. Even his right-facing cross-legged pose would seem to be a standard 53

Laȝamon, Lawman: Brut, trans. by Rosamund Allen (London: Dent, 1992), p. xxi. If this were true, the image would already be moving beyond the literally realistic, as it is unlikely that Laȝamon could have been both a Benedictine monk and a parish priest as he claims. The Synodal Constitutions of 1237 expressly disapproved of monks becoming parish priests, although there were exceptions; Augustinian and Premonstratensian canons were quite commonly instituted to livings. See John R. H. Moorman, Church Life in England in the Thirteenth Century (Cambridge: CUP, 1945), pp. 49–50. 54 Neil Cartlidge, ‘The Composition and Social Context of Oxford, Jesus College, MS 29 (II) and London, British Library, MS Cotton Caligula A. IX’, Medium Ævum 66 (1997), pp. 50–69, at p. 260. See also the discussion of the Caligula miniature in Maidie Hilmo, Medieval Images, Icons and Illustrated English Literary Texts: From Ruthwell Cross to the Ellesmere Chaucer (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), pp. 104–7.

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England Fig. 2 A scribe writing, probably Bede, from Life of St Cuthbert. London, British Library, MS Yates Thompson 26, fol. 2r (Durham, c. 1175–1200).

Fig. 3 A scribe writing the Gospels of Kildare, from Topographica Hibernica. London, British Library, MS Royal 13. B. VIII, fol. 22r (England, perhaps Lincoln, c. 1220).

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Fig. 4 Initial ‘D’, the author writing his book, Li Livres dou Sante, by Aldobrandino of Siena. London, British Library, MS Sloane 2435, fol. 1r (France, late 13th century). iconographic feature of images of writers and scribes in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, found in manuscript images produced across Europe [see Figs 2, 3 and 4 for English and French examples].55 Particular attributes may be added to indicate the type of person writing, hence the image in the Brut is tonsured and robed to 55

One curious aspect of the Brut image is that Laȝamon is shown writing with his left hand (which is attached to his right arm) rather than the normative right hand; this could be a simple error, or, more likely, an attempt to show the act of writing more clearly. The framing of the hand and pen by the open page of the book places a stronger than usual emphasis on the writing hand. Alternatively, it is possible that the illuminator has copied an existing model of a scribe facing the opposite direction, neglecting to change the positioning of the hand in the process; however, given that it was more usual for author portraits of this kind to face right, looking out on to the text which they have created, this may be less likely.

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indicate that he has taken orders of some kind (this can be contrasted, for instance, with the portrait of Aldobrandino of Siena, dressed as a secular clerk in cap and cloak in Fig. 4). When a well-known individual is depicted, his attributes may be made still more specific (such as the image of Matthew the Evangelist in Fig. 6 below, depicted with an angel). However, for the most part, author portraits are intended to represent archetypes rather than individuals.56 It should also be remembered that some images are known to be copied from earlier manuscripts, and do not, therefore, necessarily reflect contemporary scribal practices in their depiction of the act of writing. As Jonathan Alexander has observed, the copying of images from an exemplar should be understood as a manifestation of the same obedience to an earlier authority required by the accurate transmission of the text itself: ‘since the task of the scribe is to faithfully transcribe the text before him, it might be expected that the same view might be taken of the illuminator’s task’.57 A simple example of a copied image can be seen in the illustrations of Chaucer in the Ellesmere and Harley Regiment of Princes manuscripts, which are undoubtedly related, either through copying or a shared exemplar.58 To take a much earlier example, in which the same image appears to have been used to represent different people, the image of St Matthew writing in the Lindisfarne Gospels (720–721) [Fig. 6] bears a striking similarity to that of the prophet Ezra writing in the Codex Amiatinus (now Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, MS Amiatino 1), a manuscript commissioned by Ceolfrith (d. 716) and produced at the twin monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow in the early eighth century [Fig. 5]. It has been convincingly suggested that they were both copied from an image of Cassiodorus in the earlier, now lost, Codex Grandior, which was produced at Vivarium, in southern Italy, in the sixth century.59 Whilst the representation of a particular person in a manuscript illumination, however far removed from realism, is more obviously time – and place-dependent, 56

A notable exception is the portrait of the plump and bearded Chaucer in the Ellesmere and Harley Regiment of Princes manuscripts, which seems intended to portray an individual. The original of this image was made soon after Chaucer’s death; as the Ellesmere manuscript is known to have been copied by Adam Pinkhurst, Chaucer’s scribe during his lifetime, it would seem entirely possible that the illuminator also knew Chaucer personally, and that the portrait is reasonably lifelike. This is the view taken by Hoccleve, who claims the image as a true ‘lyknesse’ of Chaucer, included in the book ‘to putte othir men in remembraunce | Of his persone [...] in sothfastnesse’. However, Hoccleve also recognises the iconic possibilities inherent in this ‘lyknesse’, audaciously likening Chaucer’s picture to the ‘ymages in the chirches’, designed to ‘[m]aken folk thynk on God and on his seintes’ rather than to evoke a specific human individual. Hoccleve, Regiment of Princes, MS Harley 4866, lines 4992–5005, quoted in Derek Pearsall, The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer: A Critical Biography (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1992), p. 287. 57 Alexander, Medieval Illuminators, p. 72. 58 Pearsall, The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer, pp. 288–9, suggests that Hoccleve’s image may be the earlier of the two, and that the Ellesmere was either copied from the Harley or derived from a common exemplar. 59 See Paul Meyvaert, ‘The Date of Bede’s In Ezram and His Image of Ezra in the Codex Amiatinus’, Speculum 80 (2005), pp.  1087–1133, esp. pp.  1107–27 (Codex Amiatinus) and pp.  1028–33 (Lindisfarne Gospels).

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Fig. 5 The prophet Ezra writing, in the Codex Amiatinus. Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, MS Amiatino 1, fol. 2r. Commissioned by Ceolfrith (d. 716) at Wearmouth-Jarrow, early 8th century. and copying an image of one person to represent another is therefore, in one sense less problematic to the viewer, difficulties may arise if one looks at the more incidental details of an illustration, such as furnishings, expecting them to reflect the artist’s immediate surroundings. One of the most prominent examples of this can be found in that same Codex Amiatinus image of Ezra. This contains a detailed illustration of a book-cupboard, and thus might be expected to shed light upon the way in which the monks of Wearmouth-Jarrow stored their books. However, if the image is copied from the Codex Grandior, it may well be more likely to reflect sixth-century Italian methods of book storage.60 60

It is generally believed that the original image also contained a book-cupboard, reflecting Cassiodorus’ view of the Bible as a ‘caelesti armario scripturarum diuinarum’ (heavenly bookcase of the divine scriptures); see Meyvaert, ‘The Date of Bede’s In Ezram’, p. 1113.

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England Fig. 6 St Matthew writing with his book on his knee, the Lindisfarne Gospels. London, British Library, Cotton Nero D. IV, fol. 25r (Lindisfarne, 720–721).

Fig. 7 Laurence of Durham writing on a writing-board attached to his chair. Durham University Library, MS Cosin V. III. 1, fol. 22v (Durham, c. 1150–1200).

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Fig. 8 Jean de Meun writing the Roman de la Rose on a writing-board. Cambridge University Library, MS Gg. 4. 6, fol. 37r (France, c. 1340).

Fig. 9 Jean de Meun writing the Roman de la Rose at a desk. London, British Library, Harley 4425, fol. 133r (Bruges, Master of the Prayerbooks, c. 1500).

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Fig. 10 Robed man copying from an exemplar, L’Estoire del Saint Graal. London, British Library, MS Royal 14 E.III, fol. 6v (France (Picardy?), c. 1300–1315). It may be possible, however, to discern a looser sense of historical progression in pictorial representations of writing. One can trace a general development in illuminations across medieval Europe from depictions of scribes writing in books resting directly on their knees, to writing on book-rests or writing-boards affixed to chairs, to writing on desks [see Figs 6–9]; this may, perhaps, be taken as more reliable evidence of gradual changes in writing technology. Book-rests and writing-boards on stands are depicted with reasonable consistency from the very beginnings of medieval book illumination; desks are a later addition, appearing from the early fourteenth century. As the Wearmouth-Jarrow example demonstrates, however, iconography is conservative almost by definition; there may be a time lag between a new furniture item being introduced and its appearance in a manuscript illumination.61 Moreover, many are immediately limited in terms of credibility by their depiction of the scribe or author writing straight into books; in reality, they would invariably have written on to separate quires which were later sewn together. Writing in a book resting on one’s knees, like Ezra in the Codex Amiatinus image, or as St Matthew in the Lindisfarne Gospels [Fig. 6], would have been a rather unwieldy process unless the scribe was using a supporting board; again, this is unlikely to represent actual practice.62 61

See Randall A. Rosenfeld, ‘Iconographical Sources of Scribal Technology: Select Catalogue of Non-Formulaic Depictions of Scribes and Allied Craftsmen (western Europe, s. VII ex.–XIV in.)’, Medieval Studies 65 (2003), pp. 319–63, whose catalogue, mainly depictions of saints, is very comprehensive. 62 For a discussion of desks in first- to sixth-century scribal culture, see also Bruce M. Metzger, ‘When Did Scribes Begin to Use Writing Desks?’, in Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, Christian (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968), pp. 123–37.

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Fig. 11 Scribe writing with two books, Le Miroir Historiale. London, British Library, MS Lansdowne 1179, fol. 34v (France, c. 1340).

Fig. 12 Jean Miélot in his study, Le Debat d’Honneur. Unknown miniaturist. Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, MS 9278, fol. 10r (c. 1450).

Rather than aiming at verisimilitude, these images should most properly be interpreted as a visual shorthand of the processes from authorial inspiration to finished book. Several stages of writing and scribal activity were involved in the actual production of books in the Middle Ages, typically with different people carrying out each task. However, in these images the historically separate activities of writing and

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copying are blurred.63 As Lesley Smith has remarked, ‘the issue is authority: nothing stands between the writer’s inspiration and the words in front of the reader’.64 As far as depictions of text copying and translation are concerned, there are a small number of images which show a double-desk arrangement, allowing space either for an exemplar to be copied or for a new text to be translated from an original. The double-desk arrangement seems an ideal way of carrying out translation, and would tally with Laȝamon’s remark that he ‘leide þeos boc and [...] heom leofliche bi-heold’, which appears to suggest that his desk was large enough to hold all his exemplars at the same time. One such image is in an early-fourteenth-century copy of Robert de Boron’s Estoire del Saint Graal (London, British Library, MS Royal 14 E. III, fol. 6v), which depicts a man clearly copying from an exemplar, or possibly even translating; the pages of the uppermost book are full of writing, whereas the lower one only has one line completed [Fig. 10]. The high level of incidental detail suggests that this may be a more accurate illustration of actual practice. A supporting board is used, on top of which is what looks like a leather pad to protect the pen from damage; both exemplar and copy are held in place by small red weights.65 A slightly later fourteenth-century example, using a more complex furniture arrangement, can be found in a c. 1340 French copy of Le Miroir Historiale (London, British Library, MS Lansdowne 1179), which again portrays a scribe writing on a board laid across his knees while consulting a second book-rest on his right [Fig. 11]. Later, more elaborate examples can be found in depictions of Jean Miélot, scribe and translator to the Dukes of Burgundy. One well-known image is in a c. 1450 manuscript of Jean’s translation of the Le Debat d’Honneur (Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, MS 9278), which was copied out (and whose general production was overseen) by Jean himself [Fig. 12]. Here the exemplar is shown resting on a second stand screwed on to the main work-table, with a nearby bench holding another open book.

An Iconography of Transl ation?

T

here does not appear to have been any specific medieval iconography of translation or translators. This would seem to have been due to it being conceptualised by illuminators as part of the wider process of textual transmission; it could also be observed, perhaps, that conveying the idea of linguistic translation visually is

63

There are at least some occurrences of manuscript producers seemingly giving an accurate depiction of their working methods on the illuminated page, however; one of the most fascinating is that of Richard and Jeanne de Montbaston, libraires (book contractors and book sellers) and illuminators working in Paris in the mid fourteenth century, who are shown engaged in various stages of manuscript production in one copy of the Roman de la Rose (now Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, MS 25526). See Rouse and Rouse, Manuscripts and their Makers, pp. 235–60, esp. pp. 238–40. 64 Lesley Smith, Scriba, Femina: Medieval Depictions of Women Writing’, in Lesley Smith and Jane H. M. Taylor, Women and the Book: Assessing the Visual Evidence (London: British Library, 1997), pp. 21–44, at p. 29. 65 The altar on the left of the image distances it from reality somewhat, however; its inclusion here serves to tie the author closer to the events in the story itself.

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Fig. 13 St Jerome writing, with the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove whispering in his ear. Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 389, fol. 1v (Saint Augustine’s, Canterbury, ?9th century).

somewhat difficult – the task of illuminating a manuscript, for instance, is far easier to depict66 – and an illuminator might well simply employ the stock iconography of the author for representing a translator.67 However, the iconography of writing and scribal practice often lends itself well to translation. Images are frequently concerned with the activity of transmission, and the showing of the hierarchy of authority from 66

Medieval images of illuminators at work can often be seen in the same right-facing pose as their author or scribe counterparts, but clearly shown drawing pictures or mixing paints. Examples can be seen in Copenhagen, Konegelige Bibliotek, MS 4.2°, vol. 3, fol. 208, where an initial ‘A’ contains an illuminator sketching a head, and James le Palmer’s encyclopaedia Omne Bonum in London, British Library, MS Royal 6 E. VI, fol. 329, in which the initial ‘C’ for ‘colour’ depicts an illuminator holding a paintbrush and a pan of paint. For reproduction of these images and further discussion, see Alexander, Medieval Illuminators, pp. 22, 40. 67 The illustration of translation seems to be a problem which also defeats modern cartoonists, who are usually reduced to depicting flags or national costume along with images of puzzled-looking people.

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original inspiration through the pen of the eagerly receptive author or scribe to the book held by the reader presents the movement of the text in a way similar to the medieval concept of the translation process. The above image from the Lindisfarne Gospels [Fig. 6], for example, depicts Christ, the inspirational Word of God, partially hidden behind a curtain and holding a book out towards St Matthew; this places him in an instructional role without taking the focus away from the Evangelist in the centre of the picture, and also has the effect of obscuring him from the gaze of the reader, suggesting that it is necessary for St Matthew to act as an interpreter. Another striking example is the image of St Jerome in a copy of his Life of Paul the Hermit (Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 389), which shows the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove whispering in his ear as he writes [Fig. 13], an iconography more usually associated with Gregory the Great (and which could, perhaps, have been derived from an exemplar of an image of Gregory). Here the movement from source through writer to page is even more explicit, with the image drawing the eye of the reader in a clear left–right diagonal line from dove to pen-tip. Another potential iconographic model for the translation process can be found in manuscripts of the Roman de la Rose where the double authorship of Jean de Meun and Guillaume de Lorris is presented in pictorial form. One of the oldest known illustrated Rose manuscripts, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, MS Fr. 1569, depicts Guillaume handing over his book to Jean, raising his finger in an instructional manner, placed within the text at the midpoint section of the Rose, where Amor relates how the two authors came to write the book [Fig. 14]. Another Rose manuscript, London, British Library, MS Stowe 947, shows the two authors sitting facing each other in mirroring poses, each writing on a sheet of parchment placed on a book-stand; the page of the figure on the left is half-filled, that of the one on the right is empty save for a single word. This illustration is placed at the moment where

Fig. 14 Guillaume de Lorris hands the Roman de la Rose to Jean de Meun. Paris, ­Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS 1569, fol. 68v.

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Fig. 15 Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun writing the Roman de la Rose. London, British Library, MS Stowe 947, fol. 30v (Paris, possibly the Fauvel Master, c. 1325–1350). Jean’s narrative begins, under the rubric ‘Veez a commen Maistre Jehan de Meun commence’ [Fig. 15].68 The manuscripts depicting the handover of the Rose from Guillaume to Jean reveals the importance placed on this moment by those who planned the illumination schemes for these manuscripts, with the intralingual translation of, and commentary on, Guillaume’s poem by Jean being highlighted as a highly significant aspect of the text. These images of Guillaume and Jean are therefore translational on more than one level; they both depict the translation of Guillaume’s Rose by Jean, with the earlier poet instructing his successor on the correct way to interpret his poem, and they also demonstrate the way in which an illustration scheme can perform a further act of translation in relation to a text.69 68

See David F. Hult, Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Readership and Authority in the First Roman de la Rose (Cambridge: CUP, 1986), pp. 77–89; also Lori J. Walters, ‘Appendix: Author Portraits and Textual Demarcation in Manuscripts of the Romance of the Rose’, in Rethinking the Romance of the Rose: Text, Image, Reception, ed. by Kevin Brownlee and Sylvia Huot (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992), pp. 359–73. 69 Cf. the discussion of translation as commentary in Chapter 1. For a discussion of the extent to which illuminators were likely to have been in charge of planning illumination schemes themselves,

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Perhaps the closest thing to an iconography of translation, however, can be found in the earliest manuscripts of the Revelaciones of Bridget of Sweden, which were produced in Italy in the 1370s, 1380s and 1390s. An act of translation was central to the dissemination of her visions, as the priests who supported her during her life and who wrote her Vita in preparation for her canonisation in 1391 make clear when describing how these visions came to be recorded: verba diuinitus ei data scribebat in lingua sua materna manu sua propria [...] et faciebat illa translatari in lingua latina fidelissime a nobis confessoribus suis et postea ascultabat illa cum scriptura sua, quam ipsa scripserat, ne vnum verbum ibi plus adderatur uel deficerat, nisi que ipsa in visione diuinitus audierat et viderat.70 [she wrote down with her own hand and in her own tongue the words divinely given to her; and she had them most faithfully translated into the Latin tongue by us, her confessors. And afterward, she listened to the translation together with her own writing that she herself had written, so that there might not be one word more added there or missing but only what she herself had divinely heard and seen in the vision.]71 Bridget worked closely with a number of priests and confessors, both in Sweden and in Rome, where she spent the last twenty-three years of her life. In Sweden her spiritual advisors were the Prior Petrus Olavi of Alvastra and Master Petrus Olavi of Skänninge (who wrote her Vita) and Master Matthias Ovidi, the canon of Linköping; in Rome, accompanied by the two Petruses, she met a new confessor, the Spanish bishop Alfonso Pecha da Vadaterra, who was eventually to play the largest role in editing her work. All four describe the simultaneous translation of her visions, from Swedish to Latin, in the same way. Matthias and Alfonso supply prologues to Books I and V of her Revelaciones respectively; while Matthias does not explicitly refer to linguistic translation, he does suggest a transfer of the text from Bridget to confessor in his comment that ‘Primum, quod una ignara mulier hec proponit [...] Secundum est, quod conscriptor horum [...] manum mittere ad scribendum’ (First it was an unlearned woman who set this forth [...] Second, [there was a] man [...] to put them in writing).72 Speaking of the vision in Book V, Alfonso writes that ‘Ipsa vero statim scripsit eum in lingua sua, quem translatauit confessor see Alexander, Medieval Illuminators, Ch. 3. Vita, ed. by Isak Collijn, ‘Vita b. Brigide prioris Petri et magistri Petri’, in Acta et processus canonizacionis beate Birgitte (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1924–31), pp. 73–101, at p. 85. 71 Saint Bridget, ‘The Life of Blessed Birgitta’, in Birgitta of Sweden: Life and Selected Revelations, ed. by Marguerite Tjader Harris and trans. by Albert Ryle Kezel, introduction by Tore Nyberg (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1990), Ch. 37, pp. 81–2. 72 Prologue to St Bridget, Revelations, Book I, ed. by Carl-Gustaf Undhagen, Sancta Birgitta: Revelaciones, Book I, with Magister Mathias’ Prologue (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1977), p. 239; trans. by Dennis Searby, The Revelations of St. Birgitta of Sweden, 2 vols, introduction by Bridget Morris (Oxford: OUP, 2006–8), vol. 1, p. 52. 70

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eius in lingua litterali, prout alios libros reuelacionum translatare solitus erat’ (She wrote it down in her own language straightaway, and then her confessor translated it into the literary language, just as he had been accustomed to translating the other books of revelations).73 Alfonso did more than this, however; before her death in 1373, Bridget authorised him to edit and polish her work to ensure its suitability for a learned audience, in terms of both style and the orthodoxy of the beliefs expressed. Alfonso had the first redaction of Bridget’s visions ready for her canonisation petition in 1377, when around ten copies were prepared for the first papal commission under Gregory XI. Following Gregory’s death in 1378, another fifteen or so were prepared for the new commission under his successor, Urban VI. Hans Aili has suggested that between thirty and fifty ‘first editions’ were in circulation by 1380.74 The foremost scriptorium producing these was in Naples, where the Brigittine cult was quick to develop. Three of these early Neapolitan manuscripts have survived (Warsaw, Biblioteka Narodowa, MS 3310; Palermo, Biblioteca Nazionale, MS IV. G. 2; New York, Morgan Library, MS M. 498) and have been identified as the work of a pair of master illuminators from the scriptorium.75 The illumination scheme is identical for all three, barring slight variations in the number of full-page illustrations and historiated initials, and it would seem almost certain that all other copies leaving the workshop were illustrated according to the same programme. The way in which Bridget’s revelations are transmitted, firstly from Christ to Bridget and secondly from Bridget to her confessors, forms a major part of the illumination scheme. In a significant number of the illustrations, including one of the full-page pictures, Christ is depicted placing a book into Bridget’s right hand. In Bridget’s left hand is a second book, which she passes on in turn to a cleric. In some images a third book is passed on to a king, and in one (the initial ‘O’ in Fig. 18) a fourth book is included, handed to a messenger by the cleric to give to the emperor. When presented alone, Bridget is most commonly shown sitting at or by a desk, pen in hand, which is itself a telling indication of the way in which she was viewed as authoritative and authorial recorder of her visions rather than more passive recipient dictating to a cleric;76 the book-filled illustrations, of which examples are shown in Figs 16–18, are a still clearer image of the way in which the Revelaciones were passed on and of the roles Bridget and her confessors played in their translation and propagation. The similar approaches of the artists who created the images of Bridget, the Rose’s Guillaume and Jean and the divine inspiration of St Jerome and St Matthew suggest 73

St Bridget, Revelations, Book V, ed. by Birger Bergh, Sancta Birgitta: Revelaciones, Book V, Liber Questionum (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1971), p. 98; trans. by Searby, The Revelations of St. Birgitta of Sweden, vol. 2, p. 272. 74 Hans Aili and Jan Svanberg, Imagines Sanctae Birgittae: The Earliest Illuminated Manuscripts and Panel Paintings Related to the Revelations of St. Birgitta of Sweden, 2 vols, trans. by David Jones (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 2003), vol. 1, p. 16. 75 Ibid., p. 116. 76 She could be compared, perhaps, with Christine de Pizan, who used the image of herself at her desk to play a major part in creating her authorial persona, notably in the so-called ‘Queen’s manuscript’ (London, British Library, MS Harley 4431), which Christine personally supervised.

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Fig. 16 Initial ‘I’. Christ hands a book to Bridget, who hands a book to a bishop, probably Alfonso. New York, Morgan Library, MS M. 498 (Naples, c. 1375–91), fol. 93r.

Fig. 17 Initial ‘O’. Christ hands a book to Bridget, who hands a book to a priest, probably one of the Petruses, who hands a book to a messenger, who in turn presents a book to the emperor. New York, Morgan Library, MS M. 498 (Naples, c. 1375–91), fol. 328r.

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Fig. 18 Christ hands a book to Bridget, who hands a book to Petrus of Alvastra and Petrus of Skänninge; the two Petruses pass the book to the emperor. Note the desk in Figs 18 and 19, present in many images of Bridget. New York, Morgan Library, MS M. 498 (Naples, c. 1375–91), fol. 343v.

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that translation, if it was considered at all in illustrations as a separate activity, was viewed as a form of transmission. The hierarchy of command is clearly shown in all of these cases; for instance, the Holy Spirit whispering in Jerome’s ear and the passing of books from Christ to Bridget, her priests and, finally, her readers both offer essentially similar visual representations of the transferral of authority. Such representations work in much the same way as written descriptions of this process, making use of a visual language of authority transfer which is analogous to the expressed concerns of literary commentators on the role of auctores and the transmission of authoritative texts. The work of Minnis has largely been neglected by art historians;77 further interdisciplinary research in this area would undoubtedly cast further light on the relationship between visual and verbal representations of writers and translators.

‘I was at Ertheldoun |With Tomas spak Y thare’: ‘Clerk’ and ‘Minstrel’ Transl ator s

T

hus far the images of translators examined in this chapter, both visual and verbal, have been those depicting what could be called the ‘clerkly’ translator figure, shown writing (‘feþeren he nom mid fingren’), reading or passing a book to someone else. However, as several of the texts in the corpus have been associated with minstrels, either through references within their prologues or through the suggestions of modern scholars, it seems expedient to examine the role of this profession in creating translations. As the ‘oral’ translators’ prologues examined in Chapter 3 indicate, the opening lines of several Middle English texts, especially romances and lays such as Sir Tristrem, Sir Orfeo and Lay le Freine, invite audiences to consider the role played by oral transmission and performance in the journey the story has taken to reach them. However, the descriptions of performers conveying the narrative in this way are often as archetypal as those of the scholar with his books, and the interplay of textual and oral transmission is frequently personified in prologues and epilogues through images of ‘clerk’ and ‘minstrel’ figures.78 As many of the English versions of texts containing such images are translated from French, a fuller understanding of the way in which these two professions interacted in rhetoric and reality will enhance our understanding of the way in which these texts journeyed from the French tradition to become part of Middle English literature. As Linda Marie Zaerr comments wryly in Performance and the Middle English Romance, ‘Minstrels rank with dragons and enchantresses in the realm of Middle English romance’, and ‘have taken on an almost mythical status in [modern

77 78

I am grateful to Paul Binski for this observation. As Christopher Page notes, the seemingly naturalistic descriptions of a harper sitting down to play, found in a large number of medieval texts, conform to a carefully crafted literary motif. Page, Voices and Instruments of the Middle Ages: Instrumental Practice and Songs in France 1100–1300 (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1987), Ch. 8, esp. p. 97.

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academic] discussions’.79 Very early scholarly interest in English minstrels either romanticised these performers as ‘the genuine successors of the ancient Bards’80 or dismissed them, like eighteenth-century antiquary Joseph Ritson, as ‘twanging and scraping’ hacks to whom ‘[t]he art of printing was fatal’.81 Over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, critical debate surrounding the involvement of minstrels in the composition and recording of popular romances ranged between the two extremes that Ad Putter has summarised as the ‘romantic’ and ‘revisionist’ positions, the former suggesting that romances were ‘the improvised compositions of minstrels [...] recited orally at feasts and festivals, intended for the ears of ordinary folk’ and the latter proposing that they were ‘composed and copied for [...] the gentry and the prosperous middle classes who formed the market for the trade in vernacular books’.82 With many of the extant copies of Middle English romances collected together in large, heavy anthology manuscripts, much of the evidence concerning their transmission is naturally weighted towards those who copied and read these books; by contrast, oral circulation and performance are ephemeral by nature, leaving no direct trace or evidence.83 Whilst several scholars have addressed this difficulty head-on – notably Evelyn Birge Vitz, who discusses the francophone tradition in her important study Orality and Performance in Early French Romance84 – critical discussion in the later twentieth century often tended towards placing greater emphasis on scribal modes of transmission, with oral transmission frequently sidestepped or ignored. For example, Derek Brewer and A. E. B. Owen’s introduction to the Thornton manuscript facsimile suggests that ’[t]he manuscript was the essential vehicle, and there is little evidence for actual oral transmission, as opposed to a style that was designed to allow oral delivery or even merely imitated it’.85 However, it is now generally acknowledged that romance material flowed in both directions between oral and written traditions. As Putter remarks, ‘Romances passed easily from the hands of readers to the memories of minstrels or listeners, and from the oral recitations of minstrels or amateurs back into the writings of scribes.’86 Zaerr notes that these transitions between different 79

Linda Marie Zaerr, Performance and the Middle English Romance (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2012), p. 6. 80 ‘An Essay on the Ancient Minstrels’, in Thomas Percy, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, 3 vols (Dublin: P. Wilson and E. Watts, 1766), vol. 1, pp. xi–xx, at p. xi. For a summary of the ebb and flow of critical views on minstrels since Percy, see Zaerr, Performance and the Middle English Romance, pp. 6–11. 81 ‘Observations on the Ancient Minstrels’, in Joseph Ritson, Ancient Songs from the Time of Henry the Third to the Revolution (London: J. Johnson, 1790), vol. 1, pp. i–xxvi, at p. ii. 82 Putter, ‘A Historical Introduction’, p. 3. 83 As Putter remarks, ‘[t]he problem is that the “hard evidence” is partial: manuscripts were written and they were read; that they are not going to give us evidence of minstrel recitations or memorial composition was predictable from the start’. Ibid., p. 7. 84 Evelyn Birge Vitz, Orality and Performance in Early French Romance (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1999). 85 Derek Brewer and A. E. B. Owen, The Thornton Manuscript (Lincoln Cathedral MS. 91) (London: Scolar Press, 1975), p. xi. 86 Putter, ‘A Historical Introduction’, p. 13.

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media could also necessitate a change of form: ‘We find evidence of a flexible storytelling tradition in which the same tales were read in books as romaunces and told by minstrels as gestes or lays.’87 This fluidity of form could also extend to fluidity of language; switching from one language to another in response to audience demand is yet another adaptation which could be made for the requirements of a particular time and place, and minstrels conversant in more than one language could well have been involved in the movement – and translation – of these works between different literary traditions. The distinction – not to say opposition – between ‘clerk’ and ‘minstrel’ authors is not a modern construction but one frequently made by medieval writers themselves, in prologues and elsewhere, where these two types of professions were often used to personify the divide between Latin, academic, written culture honed in the Church and schools and oral vernacular traditions. In the Middle Ages there was a longstanding clerkly tradition of criticising stories derived from oral sources, usually romances, as unreliable and frivolous, and their tellers as liars and charlatans. Many religious texts, for instance, begin by presenting themselves as clerk-written alternatives to the trifling nonsense of romance. To take two fourteenth-century examples of this from the corpus, the Speculum Vitae author lists a large number of tales he could tell, ‘Als dose mynstraylles and iestours’, before warning the reader that, rather than such ‘vanyte’, the poem will ‘carpe of mast nedefull thynge’.88 Robert Mannyng, meanwhile, sternly reminds his reader that ‘I mad noght for no disours, | ne for no seggers, no harpours’ at the outset of his Chronicle.89 This animosity was both real and rhetorical; while hostile attitudes were traditionally held by churchmen towards entertainers, supported by a number of discriminating laws,90 with minstrels popularly perceived as liminal figures on the boundaries of respectability,91 the criticism of the work of ‘mynstraylles’ also became a literary topos, and is no doubt at least partly due to a certain amount of professional anxiety over competition for audience attention.92 87

Zaerr, Performance and the Middle English Romance, p. 52. Speculum Vitae, lines 35–52. 89 Mannyng, Chronicle, Part I, lines 75–6. Cf. Jacob van Maerlant’s similar comments in the nearcontemporary Spiegel Historiael (c. 1300–1325), discussed in Chapter 8. 90 For instance, Gratian’s Decretum contains laws forbidding actors from receiving the Eucharist, being ordained as priests and bringing accusation in ecclesiastical courts. For further examples and discussion, see John W. Baldwin, Masters, Princes and Merchants: The Social Views of Peter the Chanter & his Circle, 2 vols (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970), vol. 1, pp. 198–204, esp. p. 199. 91 One of the most vivid examples of the minstrel as accomplished but possibly threatening figure is in the thirteenth-century French Roman de Silence, in which the eponymous cross-dressing heroine runs away with a group of travelling musicians who later plot to kill her. Sarah Roche-Mahdi, ed. and trans., Silence: A Thirteenth-Century French Romance (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1992), esp. lines 3237–337. Sarah Roche-Mahdi, ed. and trans., Silence: A Thirteenth-Century French Romance (East Lansing, MI: Colleagues Press, 1992). All references are to this edition. 92 This would seem, at any rate, to be the underlying sentiment behind the lists of romances given in prologues to religious works such as the Cursor Mundi, the Speculum Vitae and Mannyng’s Chronicle, where the present text is presented as superior, entertainment-wise as well as morally. It is a very similar technique to that used in the prologues to romances themselves (e.g. in Richard Coer de 88

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If the romances associated with minstrels did not waste (presumably unnecessary) energy on promoting themselves by criticising more serious, less obviously attractive, clerkly material in their opening lines, their prologues often made much of their connection with these entertainers, characterising them as mysterious, glamorous figures. The popular modern image of the ‘wandering minstrel’ is one that is already present in medieval texts. Turning again to the Middle English tradition, an especially explicit example features in the prologue to the fourteenth-century lay Emaré, which describes ‘Menstrelles þat walken fer and wyde, | Her and þer in euery a syde, | In mony a diyuerse londe’.93 This is not an entirely inaccurate description; medieval minstrels, even those in royal service, were indeed itinerant for much of the year. However, the geographical vagueness of the minstrels’ travels in this passage is highly suggestive of the mysterious comings and goings of supernatural characters in medieval literature (as we see, for instance, at the end of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, where the eponymous Knight departs ‘Whiderwarde so-euer he wolde’94), lending them an otherworldly air, which in turn imbues the tale in question and its present teller with what Christopher Page has termed ‘Celtic mystique’.95 There was a strong association between minstrels and stories of (real or spurious) Celtic origin; the popularity of Breton lays and Arthurian legends meant that such material frequently formed an important part of minstrel repertoire, and the vagueness of references to their origins (which may be summarised by the Orfeo-Freine prologue’s ‘In Breteyne bi hold time’) made the Celtic background adaptable for a multitude of storytelling purposes. Although the narrators of these texts do not explicitly declare themselves to be minstrels, this is frequently implied in the style of their direct addresses to the audience (one of the most striking of these being Havelok the Dane’s jaunty injunction ‘At the biginning of ure tale, | Fil me a cuppe of ful god ale’96). Alternatively, narrators may claim to be speaking at a one-step remove from the original minstrel source, having obtained their material either through a personal connection (as when the author of Sir Tristrem reveals that ‘I was at Ertheldoun | With Tomas spak Y thare’) or via a longer-distance method, with vaguer references to ‘Thise olde gentil Britouns in hir dayes’ who ‘Of diverse aventures maden layes’, which can now be recited in the present day.97 Sometimes a written intermediary is also named, as in the OrfeoLyon, lines 11–32), where the present hero is described as superior to those of other tales. This topos was prevalent throughout medieval Europe; for examples in the Dutch tradition, see Chapter 8. 93 Emaré, ed. by Edith Rickert, The Romance of Emaré, EETS E.S. 99 (London: OUP, 1908, repr. 1958), lines 13–15. 94 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, ed. by J. R. R. Tolkien, E. V. Gordon and Norman Davies, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 2nd edn (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), line 2478. 95 Page, Voices and Instruments, p. 96. 96 Havelok the Dane, ed. by Ronald B. Herzman, Graham Drake and Eve Salisbury, in Four Romances of England (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 1999), lines 13–14. All references are to this edition. 97 These words are spoken by Chaucer’s Franklin, who is evidently no minstrel. ‘The Franklin’s Prologue’, CT, Fragment F, lines 709–10.

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Freine prologue’s ‘We redeth oft and findeth ywrite [...] Layes that ben in harping’.98 However, in all of these cases a minstrel or performance connection of some kind is claimed, linking the present narrator with this tradition. Both ‘clerk’ and ‘minstrel’ texts, then, can be seen to have woven a mythology around their creators, which can encourage audiences (both contemporary and post-medieval) to see them as two distinct types of author. However, in reality things were much less clear-cut. The translators I have termed ‘clerks’ may have held a range of occupations instead of, or as well as, being priests. In Middle English the terms ‘clerk’ and ‘cleric’, used interchangeably (although ‘clerk’ was more common), originally referred to a man in religious orders, from the Latin ‘clericus’, but also came to mean a scholar who did not necessarily have an ecclesiastical post; anyone who had taken a first tonsure, often, no doubt, to obtain benefit of clergy.99 As education was provided via ecclesiastical institutions before the advent of the nascent universities in the thirteenth century, those employed in scholarly work were invariably monks or ‘clerks’; the word thus absorbed, and was eventually transferred to, this new meaning, as in modern English (where the original word has forked into ‘cleric’ and ‘clerk’ to distinguish between religious and secular meanings). The university student was often referred to as ‘clericus’, a word not always synonymous with ‘scholaris’, but one which did not axiomatically indicate the holding of major religious orders (the Oxford student and ‘clerk’ Nicholas in The Miller’s Tale, for instance, is certainly not in major orders).100 The Clerk in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales suggests the dual career paths available to a university-trained scholar; he ‘hadde geten hym yet no benefice’ (i.e. an ecclesiastical living), but ‘Ne was so worldly for to have office’ (i.e. a secular post), which implies that he would be eligible for both ecclesiastical and more worldly forms of employment should he be so inclined.101 Clerks who were ordained to higher holy orders could take up a variety of ecclesiastical positions, becoming parish priests, household chaplains, monks of various orders or friars; the list is extensive and varied. Meanwhile, the types of people listed as minstrels in various royal (and other) 98

Lay le Freine, lines 1–2. MED, s.v. ‘clerk’ (n.); Lewis and Short, s.v. ‘clericus’ (n.). A good example of ‘clerk’ coming to mean ‘book-learned’ is in the Otho manuscript of Laȝamon’s Brut, which replaces Caligula’s ‘boc-ilærede men’ with ‘clearkes’ in line 25624. The earliest example of ‘clerk’ used in the sense of ‘book-learned’, according to the MED, is in the Caligula Brut, although the occurrences of the word are less frequent; the most obvious is the description of Wace as ‘a Frenchis clerc’, but it is also used in places such as the description of Vortigern’s advisor Magan, whose talents included astronomy and languages, who is introduced as a man who ‘wes a wis clærc & cuðe of feole cræften’ (line 15750). 100 Hastings Rashdall’s magisterial The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, still the most comprehensive survey of the medieval universities, suggests that ‘clericality [...], though it did not necessarily imply even the lowest grade of minor orders, did imply a great deal’: the adopting of the tonsure and clerical dress and celibacy conferred the privileges of the clerical order, such as exemption from secular courts. Adopting at least the outward signs of the cleric would therefore seem an attractive proposition for students, although there does not appear to have been any official obligation to do so. Rashdall, The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, 3 vols, ed. by F. M. Powicke and A. B. Emden (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936; repr. 1987), vol. 3, p. 394. 101 ‘General Prologue’, CT, Fragment A, lines 291–2.

99

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records were a diverse group, being employed as heralds, waferers, messengers, sergeants-at-arms and perhaps even as political propagandists and quasi-diplomats,102 as well as harpers, musicians and acrobats.103 Deriving from the medieval Latin ‘ministrallus’, the Old French ‘menestral’ originally meant ‘someone with a craft’,104 and some of this meaning was carried over into the Middle English ‘minstral’, although in English the word became increasingly associated with musical entertainment.105 It would seem that minstrels were trained to perform several services; moreover, there does not always seem to have been a clear-cut distinction made between professional entertainers working solely as performers and courtiers employed in various other pursuits who were also accomplished musicians.106 The prologues to the ‘minstrel’ texts quoted above, which point to a minstrel somewhere in the background but do not necessarily claim to have been recorded by minstrels themselves, may offer a clue to the methods of composition and transmission of these works. There is little, if any, evidence that any of the surviving manuscripts once commonly thought of as ‘minstrel manuscripts’ were actually used by performers as aide-mémoires.107 As Andrew Taylor has pointed out, and Zaerr’s practical experiments in the performance of Middle English romances attest,108 102

Paul Bracken has suggested that performers, professional or otherwise, appeared at different European courts as messengers, political propagandists or in a quasi-diplomatic role. Bracken, ‘The Myth of the Medieval Minstrel: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Performers and the Chansonnier Repertory’, Viator 33 (2002), pp. 100–16, at p. 101. 103 See, for example, the variety of minstrels listed by Constance Bullock-Davies, Menestrellorum Multitudino: Minstrels at a Royal Feast (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1978), p. 10; and throughout John Southworth, The English Medieval Minstrel (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1989). 104 Tobler-Lommatzsch, s.v. ‘menestral’ (n.), columns 1422–3. For further discussion of the word, see Christopher Page, The Owl and the Nightingale: Musical Life and Ideas in France 1100–1300 (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1989), p. 179. 105 MED, s.v. ‘minstral’ (n.). 106 It has been suggested by the early studies of Léon Gautier and Edmond Faral that a distinction can be made in high medieval Europe between ‘jongleurs’, the non-aristocratic, professional performers, and ‘menestrals’, the amateur composers and musicians from the ranks of the nobility. However, L. M. Wright has argued – and this seems more likely – that the terms were often used without consistent meaning. Whilst ‘trouvère’ does not appear to have been carried over into Middle English, ‘jogelour’ and ‘disour’ seem to have been English synonyms for ‘minstral’. MED, s.vv. ‘jogelour’ (n.), ‘disour’ (n.). Gautier, Les épopées françaises: Étude sur les origines et l’histoire de la littérature nationale, 3 vols (Paris: Victor Palmé, 1865–8), vol. 2, pp. 12–13, 50–3; Faral, Les Jongleurs en France au moyen âge (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1910), pp. 103–6; Wright, ‘Misconceptions concerning the Troubadours, Trouvères and Minstrels’, Music & Letters 48 (1967), pp. 35–9. 107 See Andrew Taylor, ‘The Myth of the Minstrel Manuscript’, Speculum 66 (1991), pp. 43–73. For much older studies which assume the existence of such manuscripts, see Thomas Wright, ed., Songs and Carols from a Manuscript in the British Museum (London: T. Richards, 1856), p. 3, and Gautier, Les épopées françaises, vol. 1, p. 184, who refer to ‘the song-books of minstrels’ and ‘manuscrits de jongleurs’ respectively; see also Per Nykrog’s more recent study, for instance, which declares that ‘Personne n’a douté [...] de l’existence de “manuels” dans lesquels les jongleurs conservaient leur répertoire’. Nykrog, Les fabliaux, 2nd edn (Geneva: Droz, 1973), p. 36. 108 A unique strength of Zaerr’s study is that it is written by a medieval scholar who also has extensive experience in memorising and performing romances, accompanying herself with the fiddle. Her practical experiments with performing the Middle English material, which by no means claim to be an accurate reconstruction of medieval performance practice, nevertheless provide fascinating

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minstrels would not necessarily have needed conventional manuscripts at all, and most Middle English romance manuscripts are dated later than 1350, later than the period when minstrel copies might be expected to have been made.109 From at least the fourteenth century onwards, it would seem that those who recorded, and indeed perhaps composed, ‘minstrel romances’ were not necessarily always minstrels, and some of those giving the appearance of being a written record of the oral tradition would seem to have been consciously crafted to give that impression. Discussing Emaré and the earlier King Horn, Taylor points to the Auchinleck manuscript as evidence for the existence of a reading public which enjoyed romances written in what, he suggests, was perceived as a ‘minstrel style’ as early as the 1330s.110 Taylor’s argument for ‘pseudo-minstrelsy’111 seems a highly plausible one in relation to such manuscripts as the Auchinleck, and certainly for the large number of manuscripts containing romances produced in the fifteenth century which were designed to be read rather than recited. However, given the movement of many romance narratives between oral and written forms, the earlier creation and shaping of these romances can be seen as rooted in both traditions, with the versions found in later manuscripts being a product of the work of both clerks and minstrels at different points in the history of the narrative. For some texts, it is also possible that collaboration was part of the original compositional process, particularly in an age which often allowed room for a writer to use a scribe or amanuensis and still be deemed an ‘author’. Vitz’s study of clerk–minstrel interaction within the context of the twelfth-century French court makes a plausible case for the exchange of ideas, and perhaps outright collaboration, between these two groups, suggesting that ‘the birth of French romance in the twelfth century is the result of the coming together of the interests and the skills of these two groups in the court setting’.112 Chrétien de Troyes’ well-known declaration in his prologue to Erec et Enide that he has ‘tret d’un conte d’aventure | une molt bele conjuncture’ (made from an adventure story a truly beautiful composition) is

insights into the way in which these romances could have been experienced by medieval audiences. Performance and the Middle English Romance, esp. pp. 14–19, Ch. 5. 109 Taylor, ‘The Myth of the Minstrel Manuscript’, p. 53. The sole example of a manuscript believed to have been used by a minstrel is a single fourteenth-century sheet, 272mm × 88mm (now Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson D 913, fol. 1), which contains a number of English lyrics, an Anglo-Norman lyric and an Anglo-Norman call to dinner. This sheet is edited by W. Heuser, ‘Fragmente von unbekannten Spielmannsliedern des 14. Jahrhunderts aus Ms. Rawl.D.913’, Anglia 30 (1907), pp. 173–9, with transcription corrections by Peter Dronke, ‘The Rawlinson Lyrics’, N&Q 206 (1961), pp. 245–6. 110 Andrew Taylor, ‘Fragmentation, Corruption, and Minstrel Narration: The Question of the Middle English Romances’, Yearbook of English Studies 22 (1992), pp. 38–62. 111 Ibid., p. 62. 112 Vitz, ‘Minstrel meets Clerk in Early French Literature: Medieval Romance as the Meeting-Place between Two Traditions of Verbal Eloquence and Performance Practice’, in Medieval Cultures in Contact, ed. by Richard Gyug (New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2003), 189–209, at p. 189.

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highly suggestive of the way in which a clerkly author might smooth and shape a pre-existing oral tale to create a literary work.113 It is invariably impossible to determine in what order minstrels and clerks worked on material on those occasions when collaboration did take place; as the manuscript copies of texts available to modern scholars are invariably written at several steps’ remove from the earliest written version, the most recent scribal changes may not reflect collaboration at the time of composition. Some romances may well have been set down from memory by those who listened to them being performed aloud. Within the Middle English tradition, this is suggested by a number of prologues in which the person telling the story orally is clearly a separate individual from the one recording it, such as the Sir Tristrem narrator’s conversation with ‘Tomas’, or the Orfeo-Freine prologue’s opening allusion to the work of ‘clerkes’ through which we now know of the lays ‘wrought [i]n Breteyne bi hold time’. Conversely, it is possible that some clerks wrote for minstrels; Robert Mannyng’s warning that ‘I mad noght for no disours’ surely suggests that some people did. This hypothesis is arguably supported by a manuscript of Guy of Warwick (Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, MS 107/176) where the prologue contains the interpolation ‘All y canne tell yow as it is. | A wyseman it vnto vs seyd | That it wrote and in ryme leyd’, thus writing a distinction between the performing ‘y’ and the author into the text itself.114 It is also probable that there was more overlap between the professions of ‘minstrel’ and ‘clerk’ than medieval rhetoric would have one believe. Early training for both professions could be similar; Constance Bullock-Davies notes, for instance, that boy-minstrels at the court of Edward I could sometimes choose whether to stay on at court as minstrels or go to Oxford or Cambridge to become clerics.115 Moving to two French examples, more concrete evidence that some writers were viewed as able to assume both roles is provided by the work of thirteenth-century French poet, composer and abbot, Gautier de Coinci, who presents himself, and is depicted in illuminated copies of his Miracles de Nostre Dame, as both clerk and minstrel.116 113

Chrétien de Troyes, Erec et Enide, ed. and trans. by Jean-Marie Fritz (Paris: Le Livre de Poche, 1992), lines 13–14. For further analysis of this passage and its offering of ‘a possible model for the puzzling interaction between the Middle English romances and the concurrent oral tradition’, see Taylor, ‘Fragmentation, Corruption, and Minstrel Narration’, p. 59. 114 This manuscript is cited in Albert C. Baugh, ‘The Middle English Romance: Some Questions of Creation, Presentation and Preservation’, Speculum 42 (1967), pp. 1–31, at p. 7. Baugh believes that many romances were written by clerics and performed by minstrels. 115 Bullock-Davies, Menestrellorum Multitudino, p. 152. 116 Gautier is portrayed as a viol player, looking over his shoulder at a book of music, while dressed in a monk’s robe and tonsure in Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, MS 10747, fol. 3r. For a copy of the image and discussion, see Kathryn A. Duys, ‘Minstrel’s Mantle and Monk’s Hood: The Authorial Persona of Gautier de Coinci in his Poetry and Illuminations’, in Gautier de Coinci: Miracles, Music and Manuscripts, ed. by Kathy M. Krause and Alison Stones (Turnhout: Brepols, 2006), pp. 37–63, at pp. 52–3. There are many other examples of men assuming both roles at different times; see e.g. Faral, Les Jongleurs en France, pp. 32–43, who discusses several examples of jongleurs-turned-priests in twelfth-century France, and Bullock-Davies, Menestrellorum Multitudino, pp. 64–6, who notes that in England and elsewhere retired court minstrels were frequently sent to spend their final years in abbeys and monasteries.

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Meanwhile, Vitz has elsewhere argued that Chrétien de Troyes was ‘a very gifted and subtle menestrel [whose] learning was [...] not acquired through the school, but the court’ rather than a clerk, suggesting that he may not have recorded his works himself.117 However, this view has not been universally accepted,118 and Chrétien’s own disparaging comment in the Erec prologue, aimed at ‘cil qui de conter vivre vuelent’ (those who live by storytelling) who ‘depecier et corrompre suelent’ (are wont to fracture and corrupt) stories with their inaccuracies, might suggest a desire on his part to emphasise his more clerkly side.119 Several prologues and epilogues would appear to point more directly to a melding of clerk and minstrel personae. An ambiguity about compositional method is written into many texts, with lines suggesting both the spontaneity of oral recitation and the midnight-oil diligence of a clerk. For instance, the minstrel-style opening of Havelok, quoted above, contrasts sharply with the poem’s closing prayer for a narrator who has clearly composed the romance ahead of time: Forthi ich wolde biseken you That haven herd the rim nu, That ilke of you, with gode wille, Saye a Pater Noster stille For him that haveth the rym maked, And ther-fore fele nihtes waked.120 Although the act of writing is never mentioned (and, as we are reminded in the Icelandic Egil’s Saga, where the titular hero escapes with his head after composing a drápa in praise of the wrathful King Eirik,121 lengthy poems could be created and recited without recourse to pen and paper), the closing of Havelok seems similar in tone to Marie de France’s remark in the prologue to her lais that ‘[r]imé en ai e fait ditié, | Soventes fiez en ai veillié’ (I have put them into verse, made poems from them and worked on them late into the night),122 where the sense that they are written, if nowhere stated directly, is everywhere strongly implied by her often-expressed desire to record things for posterity.123 Alternatively, moving outside the Middle 117

Vitz, Orality and Performance in Early French Romance, pp. 88–9. See e.g. Ad Putter’s direct refutation of Vitz’s argument, where he points out that ‘while it is true that his romances were primarily meant for public rather than private reading, he himself was supremely literate’. Putter, ‘The Twelfth-Century Arthur’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend, ed. by Elizabeth Archibald and Ad Putter (Cambridge: CUP, 2010), pp. 36–52, at p. 44. 119 Erec, lines 21–2. 120 Havelok the Dane, lines 2994–9. 121 Egil’s Saga, trans. by Hermann Pálsson and Paul Edwards (London: Penguin, 1976), Ch. 59–60. 122 Marie de France, ‘Prologue’, in The Lais of Marie de France, trans. by Burgess and Busby, p. 41, lines 41–2. 123 In the clear distinction she draws between the lay-telling Bretons and her writing self (not to mention her stated ability to translate Latin), Marie gives every impression that she is not a minstrel; however, if she were a noble court lady – a possibility, given the little we know of her life – she may well have had the ability to perform lays as well. For a discussion of the musical accomplishments of young girls at court, see Page, The Owl and the Nightingale, pp. 102–9. 118

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English tradition, we are shown a narrator apparently capable of both writing and performing his own work in the prologue to the thirteenth-century French Roman de Silence: ‘Maistres Heldris de Cornuälle’ declares that he ‘Escrist ces viers trestolt a talle’ (writes these verses strictly to measure), and describes his situation both in terms of ‘Uns clers [qui] poroit lonc tans aprendre | Por rime trover et por viers’ (a learned man [who] might study long to fashion rhyme and verse) and a ‘Bons menestreus bien recheüs’ (a fine minstrel, well received).124 In both Havelok and Silence, then, we are presented with a narrator persona which incorporates both clerk and minstrel figures. In Silence these are explicitly named as such, while the first-person voice in Havelok certainly evokes those archetypes in the course of the poem’s movement from the prologue’s ale-quaffing raconteur to the epilogue’s studious poet. In the hybrid narrative voice which emerges, it would seem possible to see a variant of the enlarged first-person narrative voice observed by Spitzer in linguistic translations; here, rather than melding a source text and translation into a single narrative persona, the ‘I’ of Havelok and Silence’s narrators can expand to encompass both oral and written traditions.125 The prologues do not, however, shed any light on the production of ‘minstrel translations’ as opposed to ‘minstrel texts’. There are no explicit references within the texts themselves to translation being carried out by minstrels in the course of their creation. As suggested in Chapter 3, translators’ prologues evoking oral transmission are often more concerned with fitting the narrative in question into the wider romance tradition than with the transferral of one discrete text into another language, and generally contain fewer references to linguistic translation overall. However, it would seem that many minstrels would indeed have possessed the language skills to translate performance material. Their often itinerant lifestyle, travelling between different households and sometimes countries, would have made them more likely than most to learn languages, and it would undoubtedly be to their advantage to be able to supply entertainment in more than one language according to audience need. There is a good deal of evidence that both performers and chansonnier repertoire moved easily across European language barriers, and the dissemination of courtly song in the high Middle Ages has frequently been described as ‘international’ in character.126 Performers may also have benefited from the linguistic skills of others. During the years surrounding the Norman Conquest, it is possible that minstrels working in Britain may have been aided by professional translators in their transformation of Celtic material into French. As Bullock-Davies concludes in Professional Interpreters and the Matter of Britain, which focuses on the transmission of Welsh and Irish material from before the Conquest to around 1230, professional interpreters, or latimers, 124

Roman de Silence, lines 1–2, 14–15, 26. Spitzer, ‘Note on the Empirical and Poetic “I”’. 126 For instance, a number of Occitan troubadour lyrics are also recorded in French translations, as well as in sources copied by French and Italian scribes. For discussion of this and further examples of cross-linguistic exchange, see Bracken, ‘The Myth of the Medieval Minstrel’, esp. pp.1–3. 125

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attached to royal courts and noble houses were excellently placed to translate stories from a variety of languages, passing on narratives which minstrels would later turn into poems; this, she suggests, is an explanation for the way in which Celtic material found its way into French.127 Bullock-Davies’ argument is very convincing, and it seems unlikely that most Norman minstrels would have been sufficiently familiar with Breton, Welsh and Irish to have acquired the literary heritage of these languages without the intermediaries she describes. Indeed, she cites a literary description of this process in the c. 1200 poem, since edited as The Deeds of the Normans in Ireland, in which the author states that he obtained his subject matter from King Diarmait’s personal interpreter, whom he names as Maurice Regan: Par soen demeine latimer Que moi conta de lui l’estorie Dunt faz ici la memorie: Morice Regan iert celui. Buche a buche parla a lui Ki cest jest’ endita [By his personal interpreter who told me his [Diarmait’s] history which I here record. This man was Maurice Regan. He who composed this chronicle conversed with him face to face.]128 However, when it came to translating French into English, minstrels in medieval England were much more likely to have had the linguistic capability to do this. The sole surviving manuscript fragment which seems likely to have been used by a minstrel (a single fourteenth-century sheet, now Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson D 913, fol. 1) contains material in both French and English, and this would hardly seem untypical.129 However, the collaborative approach to transmission of minstrel material described above suggests that both clerks and minstrels could have played a part in its translation from French into English. 127

Constance Bullock-Davies, Professional Interpreters and the Matter of Britain: A Lecture delivered at a Colloquium of the Departments of Welsh in the University of Wales at Greg ynog, 26 June, 1965 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1966), esp. p. 23. 128 Bullock-Davies, Professional Interpreters, p. 23. The Deeds of the Normans in Ireland = La geste des engleis en Yrlande: A New Edition of the Chronicle Formerly Known as The Song of Dermot and the Earl, ed. and trans. by Evelyn Mullally (Dublin: Four Courts, 2002), lines 1–6. This work would seem to be independent from Gerald of Wales’ slightly earlier Expugnatio Hibernica (1189), describing different aspects of the conquest; see Thomas Wright, ‘Introductory Essay on the History of the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland’, in Fransique Michel, ed., Anglo-Norman Poem on the Conquest of Ireland by Henry the Second, from a Manuscript Preserved in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth Palace..., with an Introductory Essay on the History of the Anglo-Norman Conquest of Ireland, by Thomas Wright (London: William Pickering, 1837), i–lx, at p. ii. 129 See description of this fragment in n. 90 above.

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T

he figure of the translator, as portrayed in prologues, epilogues and author portraits, is often highly stylised, drawing heavily on archetypal descriptions. However, there is still space within this paradigm for autobiographical details, which provide valuable supplementary information about the working methods of individual writers. These visual and verbal images also suggest that the figure of the translator, as viewed within the practice of French > English translation and elsewhere in medieval literature, was a well-developed sub-group of the medieval author figure. Although too little is known about the identities of individual translators to discern any large-scale correlations between formal education and a translating career, it would seem evident that any priests or clerks capable of carrying out Latin > English translation were more likely to have enjoyed a more extensive education than their non-translating contemporaries.130 However, where French > English translation is concerned, the distinction between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ education itself becomes blurred; translators enjoying various levels of education would have been able to take part in French > English translation, even though Latin > English translation may have been barred to them. This is one reason that some of the clerk– minstrel confusions described above have arisen; a person translating from Latin into a vernacular would necessarily have received extensive, formal academic training, whereas one translating from French might have taken a variety of educational routes. The acquisition of French, therefore, is the next topic addressed.

130

See Moorman, Church Life in England, pp. 91–109.

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chapter 5

The Acquisition of French

A

s the Speculum Vitae reminds us, French was not a language restricted to ‘þei þat haue it of scole tane’; as a language which in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries occupied a liminal space between true vernacular and artificially learned prestige language, it was not limited to a specific educational sphere. The question of how English people acquired French in the decades and centuries following the Norman Conquest, and at what point, and for what social groups, it became an artificially learned second language, has been debated at length by scholars. This in turn raises the question of how those engaged in French > English translation during this period acquired their language skills. In previous chapters we have seen how the shifting status of French in England is reflected in depictions of the language in prologues, from allusions to its associations with a particular social class in the thirteenth-century Of Arthour and of Merlin’s ‘Freynsche vse þis gentil man | Ac euerich Inglische Inglische can’, through anxieties expressed about the cultural dominance of ‘Frankis rimes’ in the Cursor Mundi (c. 1300), to less defensive, more distancing characterisations of French in the late fourteenth century as a language of ‘queynt termes’ (The Testament of Love) from ‘þe lond of France’ (King and Four Daughters). The present chapter explores the educational context of the changing role of French, discussing the various methods by which French was learned in England during the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and considering how this might have affected ways in which the language was understood and used by those wishing to translate it into English. The study of translation foregrounds the issue that the ‘acquisition of French’ during the period in question was a complex issue taking many different forms. The issue of active versus passive competence is crucial; active competence can be defined as the ability to speak or compose in a language, with passive competence being the ability to read or understand it when one hears it. The translators in this study are all translating out of French, which calls for a passive rather than active use of the language; it can be done with a fairly modest level of active competence. One does not have to master French as a speaker in order to translate it. It is now generally agreed that French was never a true vernacular (meaning a mother tongue) in England for more than a small percentage of the population for a relatively short time after the Conquest1 – and the number of Norman settlers

1

William Rothwell’s first major discussion of this provides an overview of the mistaken views on bilingual England which had held sway until that date; see Rothwell, ‘The Role of French in Thirteenth-Century England’, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 58 (1976), pp. 445–66, at pp. 449–50. For these views, see e.g. M. Dominica Legge, who writes of the 1170s that ‘by this time most people, down to the very poorest, were bilingual’; Legge, Anglo-Norman Literature and its Background (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), p. 4. Rothwell argues that some of the

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was never large in the first place.2 However, there is no contradiction between the idea that French was learned as a second language and the idea that it was learned from a very early age. As Butterfield has suggested, ‘we need to rethink our model of insular French to account for some of the complexities of language contact that are now being uncovered. It is no longer adequate to say that either insular French was a mother tongue or else it was dead.’3 In the Polychronicon, Ranulph Higden remarks that since the time of the Conquest (to use Trevisa’s translation) ‘gentil men children beeþ i-tauȝt to speke Frensche from þe tyme þat þey beeþ i-rokked in here cradel’, but still refers to English as ‘þe burþe tunge’.4 Again, Trevisa’s word is ‘tauȝt’; it is possible to teach a child a language from an early age without it being, in the most literal sense, a mother tongue (just as ambitious English-speaking parents today might expose very young children to French, or even Mandarin,5 in order to give them a head start in their education). There is also the question of the variety of French learned. As the Normans who crossed the channel in 1066 became ever more integrated with the native population, the French of England became increasingly divergent from continental French. Within the French of England itself, there were several variations (hence WoganBrowne’s apposite discussion of the ‘Frenches of England’6); a diglossic situation developed, where the H variety of French was more informed by continental usage, especially as learned by those whose business in secular or ecclesiastical affairs had very Anglo-Norman texts which have been quoted as ‘proof ’ that French was a universal vernacular in England reveal, in fact, that French was universal only to those who had learned it in the course of a more general education of learning to read and write. See also Rothwell, ‘The Teaching of French in Medieval England’, MLR 63 (1968), pp. 37–46; idem, ‘The Teaching and Learning of French in Later Medieval England’, Zeitschrift für Französische Sprache und Literatur 111 (2001), pp. 1–18. See also Ian Short, ‘Bilingualism in Anglo-Norman England’, Romance Philology 33 (1980), pp. 467–79, who has drawn attention to the English loss of Normandy in 1204 as a possible turning point in the decline of French in England, removing immediate political and linguistic ties with the Normans. 2 David Carpenter, The Struggle for Mastery (London: Penguin, 2003), suggests that around 8,000 Normans settled in Britain after the Conquest (p. 4). Using data from the 1086 Domesday Survey, Ian Short, A Manual of Anglo-Norman (London: ANTS, 2007), estimates that there were around 15,000 ‘French-speaking incomers’, or approximately 1% of the total population (pp. 25–6). These figures are discussed in Marianne Ailes and Ad Putter, ‘The French of Medieval England’, in European Francophonie: The Social, Political and Cultural History of an International Prestige Language, ed. by Vladislav Rjéoutski, Gesine Argent and Derek Offord (Bern: Peter Lang, 2014), pp. 51–79, at p. 54. 3 Butterfield, Familiar Enemy, p. 318. Fundamental questions about what might be said to constitute a ‘native speaker’ or a ‘living language’ are addressed in Richard Ingham, The Transmission of AngloNorman: Language History and Language Acquisition (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012), e.g. p. 1; see below for further discussion. 4 Polychronicon, ed. by C. Babington and J. R. Lumby, Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden Monachi Cestrensis together with the English Translations of John of Trevisa and an Unknown Writer of the Fifteenth Century, Rolls Series 41, 9 vols (London: Longman, 1865–86), vol. 2, p. 159. 5 See, for instance, this story in New York magazine profiling high-flying Manhattan parents who hire Mandarin-speaking nannies for their children to improve their future career chances. See Alexandra Wolfe, ‘Great Toddle Forward’, New York, 4 April 2005. Available online at [accessed 24 November 2015]. 6 Wogan-Browne, ‘What’s in a Name’, pp. 1–13, e.g. p. 9.

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taken them abroad. The L variety was often described in less than complimentary terms (beginning with the nun of Barking and Gerald of Wales’ references to the ‘faus franceis d’Angleterre’ and the ‘rough, corrupt French of the English people’), which was less, if at all, influenced by continental French. However, this binary division does not adequately represent the nuances in variety of the types of French used in England; the extent to which this ‘faus franceis’ was inferior in fact, rather than in popular rhetoric, has been the subject of reappraisal in the last twenty years.7 The recent work of Richard Ingham demonstrates that the syntactic structure of AngloNorman continued to evolve along lines parallel to, but not identical with, continental French until the middle of the fourteenth century; this suggests that, rather than entering into a period of ‘decline’ or ‘degenerating’ at this stage, the French of England continued to develop as a living language, remaining, as Marianne Ailes and Ad Putter have remarked, ‘an organic part of a French language continuum’.8 However, it undoubtedly declined as a spoken language after this point; its function in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as a language of administration in an increasingly narrow series of contexts means that a growing number of people – which may have included some translators – would almost certainly have been bilingual literates without necessarily being bilingual speakers, trained in the course of their work to handle French-language material. The teaching of French in England has been the subject of a number of studies. In addition to his important work on the wider role of French, Rothwell’s editions of, and articles on, the teaching material available in England, Walter de Bibbesworth’s Tretiz and its later adaptation Femina have been invaluable in aiding our understanding of this area; Andres Kristol’s survey of the corpus of teaching texts, which catalogues all the known manuscripts containing teaching material, is also an important

7

See e.g. William Rothwell, ‘The “faus franceis d’Angleterre”: Later Anglo-Norman’, in Anglo-Norman Anniversary Essays, ed. by Ian Short (London: ANTS, 1993), pp.  309–26, which argues for the continued vitality of Anglo-Norman after the loss of Normandy in 1204; also idem, ‘Stratfordatte-Bowe Revisited’, Chaucer Review 36 (2001), pp. 184–207, which discusses the role played by religious institutions in preserving insular French; Ingham, The Transmission of Anglo-Norman. An excellent recent overview is also given in Ailes and Putter, ‘The French of Medieval England’. 8 Ailes and Putter, ‘The French of Medieval England’, p.  70. Richard Ingham, ‘The Persistence of Anglo-Norman 1230–1362: A Linguistic Perspective’, in Wogan-Browne, The French of England, pp. 44–54; see also Ingham, The Transmission of Anglo-Norman, for a much more detailed analysis of this phenomenon. In the terms quoted above Ingham is specifically refuting Mildred K. Pope, From Latin to Modern French with Especial Consideration of Anglo-Norman; Phonology and Morphology. rev. edn (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1952), p. 424; and Rolf Berndt, ‘The Period of the Final Decline of French in Medieval England (Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries)’, Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik 20 (1972), pp. 341–69, who argue for an earlier start to the decline. This argument is also one of the central themes of the essay collection edited by Ingham, The Anglo-Norman Language and Its Contexts (York: York Medieval Press, 2010); see e.g. Ingham’s own contributions to this volume, ‘Later Anglo-Norman as a Contact Variety of French?’, pp. 8–25; ‘The Transmission of Later Anglo-Norman: Some Syntactic Evidence’, in The Anglo-Norman Language, pp. 164–82.

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addition to the field.9 Most recently, the learning of French in England has been the subject of a valuable study by Ingham, The Transmission of Anglo-Norman: Language History and Language Acquisition, which addresses the transmission and usage of French during the Anglo-Norman period within the context of contemporary theories of second language acquisition, using a close examination of grammatical, syntactical and phonological evidence to ‘relate Anglo-Norman, as the second language in this bilingual setting, to currently viable notions of linguistic nativeness’.10 The topic was also addressed in 1991 by Douglas A. Kibbee’s ambitious but flawed For to Speke French Trewely: The French Language in England, 1000–1600, which presents an overview of the use and acquisition of French in this period. Although admirable in its scope and useful as a synthesis, Kibbee often glosses over many of the complexities involved; he does not always, for instance, differentiate clearly between abilities in spoken and written French.11 Butterfield’s 2009 examination of the teaching material has led her to suggest that later educational texts reflected the transition of the French of England from being a primarily spoken language to one increasingly based in writing, showing ‘a radical desire to re-ground an existing lively knowledge of French as a knowledge capable of being transmitted through writing’.12 This is surely of great relevance to the way in which French may have been learned by translators in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. As will be seen from the discussion towards the end of the chapter of the various language courses available during this period, the developing perception of French as a Latin-type language grounded in writing, learned through the framework of Latin grammar and capable of being the medium in which a great many academic, authoritative texts were written in England, may well have altered the way in which translators approached the task of translating it. There is a very limited amount of direct evidence pertaining to the acquisition of French, so it would be incautious to look for one principal context in which translators could have become fluent enough to undertake their projects. Much language learning can be done orally and informally, either at home or in the course of everyday life and work, and even more formal written teaching does not require textbooks or any materials robust enough to survive several centuries. A lack of extant teaching materials, then, cannot be taken as evidence that instruction did not take place. We must, therefore, turn to the various hints found in literary texts, in laws and statues and in other documentary evidence such as letters. 9

Andres Max Kristol, ‘L’enseignement du français en Angleterre (XIIIe-XVe siècles). Les sources manuscrites’, Romania 111 (1990), pp. 289–330. 10 Ingham, The Transmission of Anglo-Norman. 11 Douglas A. Kibbee, For to Speke Frenche Trewely: The French Language in England, 1000–1600: Its Status, Description and Instruction (Amsterdam, Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1991). For the first two chapters, covering the period to 1362, Kibbee asks the question ‘Who spoke French?’ as a section heading (pp. 8, 39). For the third and fourth chapters he changes this to ‘Who knew French?’ (p. 73) and ‘Who learned French? (p. 100)’; however, the written/spoken distinction is still not always clear. 12 Butterfield, Familiar Enemy, p. 335.

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Literary Evidence: Prologues, Epilogues and Letter s

F

or our fir st clues to the French abilities of translators, we can look to the statements made by translators themselves in prologues and epilogues. Whilst none of the prologues in the corpus contain any information of this kind, in a small number of texts dating from the late fourteenth century onwards we encounter statements made by English writers, either translating from or composing in French, who reveal unambiguously that French is not their first language. For instance, in the Romans of Partenay (c. 1500), the author apologises for any mistakes he may make in the translation due to his ‘not [being] aqueynted of birth naturall | With fre[n] sh’; we might suppose from this that there were limits to his active competence in the language.13 The prolific translator Caxton also makes it clear that French is an acquired language for him, remarking in the prologue to The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye on the ‘symplenes and vnperfightness that I had in both languages / that is to wete in frenshe & in englissh for in france was I neuer / and was born & lerned myn englissh in kente’.14 Lydgate, too, declares that he was not born in France in his Dance Macabre (c. 1426): ‘Out of þe frensshe I drewe it [...] | Not worde by worde but folwynge þe substaunce | [...] I was not borne in fraunce [...] | Of her tunge I haue no suffisaunce | Her corious metris in englisshe to translate.’15 Englishmen writing in French also apologise for their poor command of the language. In the late fourteenth century, John Gower reminds his readers that French is a second language for him, declaring in the epilogue to his Traitié pour essampler les Amantz marietz that si jeo n’ai de François la faconde, Pardonetz moi qe jeo de ceo forsvoie: Jeo sui Englois, si quier par tiele voie Estre excusé.16 [if I do not have fluency in French, forgive me that I have gone astray; I am English, and seek to be excused in that way.] Henry of Grosmont, writing in 1354, states in the epilogue to his Livre de Seyntz Medicines that ‘si le franceis ne soit pas bon, jeo doie estre escusee, pur ceo qe jeo sui engleis et n’ai pas moelt hauntee le franceis’ (if the French be not good, I should be excused, because I am English and not much accustomed to using French).17 The Partenay translator, Caxton and Lydgate show evidence of passive knowledge 13

Romans of Partenay, lines 8–9. Caxton, Prologues and Epilogues, ed. by W. J. B. Crotch, p. 4. 15 John Lydgate Dance Macabre, ed. by Eleanor P. Hammond, in English Verse Between Chaucer and Surrey (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1927), p. 142, lines 665–6, 669, 671–2. 16 John Gower, Traitié pour essampler les Amantz marietz, ed. by G. J. Macaulay, The Complete Works of John Gower, 4 vols (London: OUP, 1899–1902), vol. 1, p. 391, lines 24–7. All references to Gower are to this edition unless otherwise specified. 17 Le Livre de Seyntz Medicines, ed. by E. J. Arnould, Le Livre de Seyntz Medicines: The Unpublished Devotional Treatise of Henry of Lancaster (Oxford: ANTS, 1940), p. 239. 14

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of French in the above examples, whereas Gower and Grosmont reveal a more active ability. However, for all five writers, these excuses are more than conventional modesty topoi adopted from the familiar pose of Latin writers; for all of them it is self-evident that in declaring their English nationality, they are revealing that French can only be an artificially learned second language for them, with the limitations on competence that this implies. A French diglossia in England also appears to be addressed in the remarks of Gower and Grosmont, who seem also to be implicitly acknowledging the provincial status of their French. At a time when the distance between the ‘Frennsh of Parys’ and the ‘Frenssh [...] After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe’ (to quote Chaucer’s famous assessment of his Prioress’ linguistic abilities18) seems to have been popularly acknowledged, these two writers could be saying, in effect, ‘if the French be not good, it is because the French available to me is not good’.19 This imposes an additional perceived limitation on their competence: not only are they criticising their own linguistic abilities, they are criticising the quality of language learning available to them. However, the primary implication of both their remarks, even if these are merely rhetorical gestures, is that to state ‘Jeo sui Englois’ is sufficient explanation for lack of ability in French. This can be compared with the remarks of the Partenay translator, Caxton and Lydgate in the previous paragraph, who all say, in one form or another, ‘y was not borne yn fraunce’. Though the sample size is too small to determine whether this was a topos in itself, the similarity of their remarks does seem to suggest a certain conventionality. Whilst Gower’s own command of French belies his self-deprecating remarks,20 his characterisation of French as a language in which one might lack ‘la faconde’ may suggest the way French was viewed more generally in England at this time. Gower’s bracketing together of French and Latin as languages of clericality in the Mirour de l’Omme, where he protests that ‘je ne suy pas clers [...] Poy sai Latin, poy sai romance’ (I am not a clerk [...] I know little Latin and little French), again suggests that these are languages which must be learned by those who, like Gower, define themselves as ‘Englois’; furthermore, these languages

18

General Prologue, CT, Fragment A, lines 124–5. That Parisian French continued to be held up as a standard to the English is demonstrated in the French grammar written by John Barton in the fifteenth century; Barton remarks in his preface that his work aimed to introduce ‘la droit language de Paris et de païs la d’entour, la quelle language en Engliterre on appelle “doulce France”’ (the correct language of French and the surrounding area, which language is called “sweet French” in England). Barton, ed. by Thomas Städtler, ed., Zu den Anfängen der französischen Grammatiksprache: Textausgaben und Wortschatzstudien (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1988), p. 128. 20 The above remark by Gower is accompanied in the unique manuscript by a marginal Latin gloss containing a similar apology: ‘Gower, qui Anglicus est, sua verba Gallica, si que incongrua fuerint, excusat’ (Gower, who is English, apologises for his French, if any of it is inappropriate). As Tim William Machan has noted, though, this gloss in a third language apologising for a lack of linguistic ability serves as a further ironic comment on his multilingualism. Machan, ‘Medieval Multilingualism and Gower’s Literary Practice’, Studies in Philology 103 (2006), pp. 1–25, at p. 6. 19

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may be of a limited ‘clerkly’ quality.21 To quote Gower’s contemporary, Thomas Usk, French is not ‘kyndely to their mouthes’ in the way that English is.22 The earliest documented recognition of a difference between insular and continental French is found in a much earlier twelfth-century prologue discussing the French abilities of its author, that of the anonymous nun of Barking’s Vie d’Edouard le confesseur, in which she apologises for the failings of her translation with her often-quoted statement that ‘Un faus franceis sai d’Angleterre’.23 However, it seems unlikely that her meaning is the same as the fourteenth-century excuses of Gower and Grosmont; many convents, and certainly the aristocratic house of Barking, were French-speaking at that time, and even if French were not the nun’s mother tongue, her relationship with the language would have been somewhat different. Her apologetic reference to her ‘faus franceis’ rather makes a distinction between her own French, spoken at Barking Abbey, and that of continental French, suggesting that the French of England had developed characteristics that set it apart from the French of Paris. An excellent insight into how a French diglossia in England worked in practice in this earlier period, and the impact this seems to have had upon language learning, can be found in Gerald of Wales’ Speculum Duorum (c. 1208–09), a letter of complaint to his nephew which accuses him, among other things, of laziness in his French studies. Gerald grumbles that Cum enim erudicioni vestre totis nisibus intendere deberetis [...] puer indisciplinatus et pullus indomitus, qui nec litteris indulsistis, nec linguam latinam, aut etiam gallicam, addidicistis. [When you should have been devoting all your efforts to your education [...] you were an undisciplined brat and an unbroken colt, who neither devoted yourself to learning, nor learned either Latin or even French.]24 By contrast, Gerald praises a more diligent young man, John Blund, who learned to speak exquisite French without ever leaving England through exposure to those who had learned continental French. I have quoted the anecdote in full as it affords an illuminating insight into how French could have been learned at that time by those of Blund’s social class: Non hic autem magister Iohannes Blundus, iuvenis eloquens et eruditus, ignoravit maiorum suorum et seniorum scienciam atque doctrinam, non aspernans, set viribus totis amplectens. A quo cum aliquociens quereremus quantam in Francia moram fecisset, qui Francorum lingua tam recte, tam delicate et delectabiliter, tamquam materna sibique nativa loquebatur, respondit se nunquam mare Gallicum transfretasse, set ab avunculis suis, 21

Mirour de l’Omme, lines 21772, 21775. Testament of Love, p. 49. See discussion of Usk in Chapter 2. 23 La Vie d’Edouard le confesseur, line 7. 24 Gerald of Wales, Speculum Duorum, pp. 32–3. Translation based on Dawson’s, with some changes. 22

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duobus viris litteratis et eloquentibus, magistro Roberto Blundo et magistro Waltero, Lincolniensi canonico, qui diu in Francia studiis indulserant, se tam literaturam in Anglia quam etiam ydioma Gallicum addidicisse nec se minorem operam ad hoc quam ad illam adhibuisse. Quinimmo, quociens ab illis verbum aliquod Gallicum, elegans et defecatum rudique Anglorum a Gallico et feculento longe alienum, prolatum audivit, statim illud vel stilo vel calamo memorie tenaci commendavit nec animo placatus esse potuit donec idem verbum loco postmodum et tempore coram avunculis suis et in audiencia suavi et vernanti eloquio suo in casu pronunciasset. Unde, quod illi, remotis in partibus, laboribus et lucubracionibus multis adquisierant, hic nepos eorum in patria sua, ad pedes eorum sedens et audiens eisque iugiter assistens, id sibi quidem ingenio docili studioque laudabili et diligencia perutili bonus emulator et imitator comparavit. [This young man, Master John Blund, eloquent and learned, did not ignore the wisdom and teaching of his elders and betters; not spurning it, but embraced it wholeheartedly. When, on occasions, we asked him how long his sojourn in France had been – for he spoke the language of Frenchmen25 so correctly, so pleasantly, and so delightfully, as if it were his mother tongue – he replied that he had never crossed the Channel, but had learned both the literature and the language in England from his uncles, Master Robert Blund, and Master Walter, canon of Lincoln – two educated and eloquent men, who had long studied in France – and he had devoted as much time to one as to the other. Moreover, whenever he heard them utter some elegant and pure French phrase, which was very different from the rough, corrupt French of the English people, he immediately, with a stylus or pencil, committed it to his tenacious memory and was not satisfied in his own mind, until he had uttered the word later correctly in context, in the presence and hearing of his uncles, in his pleasant, lively, and eloquent manner; so, what they had acquired in foreign parts with great effort and considerable lucubration, this nephew of theirs – a fine and zealous imitator – acquired for himself at home, sitting at their feet, listening to them and keeping constant company with them, because of his docile nature and laudable zeal, and his eminently proper diligence.]26 For the errant nephew, ‘linguam [...] gallicam’ (French) is clearly portrayed as an acquired language along with Latin. In John Blund’s case, men who have spent an appreciable amount of time in the French royal capital, and who therefore have 25

Gerald differentiates between ‘French’ (Gallicum), which can be spoken in both France and England, and ‘the language of Frenchmen’ (Francorum lingua), i.e. continental French. This distinction is noted by Ad Putter, ‘Multilingualism in England and Wales, c. 1200: The Testimony of Gerald of Wales’, in Medieval Multilingualism: The Francophone World and its Neighbours, ed. by C. Kleinhenz and K. Busby (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), pp. 83–105, at p. 88; see discussion below. 26 Speculum Duorum, pp. 56–7.

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been in a position to acquire excellent Parisian French, teach the language in a semiformal setting, their pupil ‘ad pedes eorum sedens’ with pen and notebook in hand. Gerald’s admiring comment that Blund speaks French ‘tamquam materna sibique nativa’ may possibly be taken with a pinch of salt – an effusive writer, he was sometimes prone to exaggeration – but having spent a decade being educated in Paris, he was well qualified to comment on the standard of Blund’s French. This anecdote has frequently been hailed as demonstrating that French was an artificially learned language in England by the end of the twelfth century, most prominently by Rothwell.27 However, Gerald’s story rather suggests that John Blund was not learning French from his uncles from scratch, but merely replacing and augmenting the French of England he already knew with continental French. Using wording that seems very reminiscent of the anonymous nun’s ‘faus franceis [...] d’Angleterre’, Gerald makes a distinction between the ‘elegans et defecatum’ (elegant and pure) French of France, and the ‘rudis Anglorum Gallicus et feculentus’ (rough, corrupt French of the English), using a different phrase to describe the language of Frenchmen (‘Francorum lingua’) as distinct from his more usual ‘Gallicum’. As Ailes and Putter point out, this indicates only that continental French needed to be learned artificially by the English, whereas ‘Anglorum Gallicus’, as Gerald presents it, could have been absorbed at a far earlier stage, in some cases as a mother tongue.28 Gerald himself, the son of a Norman lord and a Welsh princess, would in all probability have spoken French as his first language, and the evidence from his writings suggests that he was more familiar with this than English.29 How, precisely, John Blund – or the errant nephew – would have learned more basic French in the first place, and how advanced this would have been, is not clear. Gerald’s earlier reference to his nephew – where the term ‘Gallicum’ is used – would appear to imply that French of any variety needed to be learned by him, although Gerald’s remark that ‘linguam latinam, aut etiam gallicam’ (my italics) are beyond his nephew’s capabilities appears to suggest that a lack of the latter is more surprising, with opportunities to learn it being more readily available. In families with dual Norman and English heritage, such as that of Gerald himself, not to mention ones of the educated classes, with members working in ecclesiastical and clerkly positions and attending universities abroad, a certain amount of French must have been 27

See Rothwell, ‘The Role of French in Thirteenth-Century England’; idem, ‘A quelle époque a-t-on cessé de parler français en Angleterre?’, in Mélanges du philologie romane offerts à Charles Camproux, 2 vols (Montpellier: Centre d’Etudes Occitanes, 1978), vol. 2, pp. 1075–89. 28 Putter, ‘Multilingualism in England and Wales’, pp.  85–9, esp. pp.  88–9; Ailes and Putter, ‘The French of Medieval England’, pp. 68–9. 29 Gerald routinely translates the few English phrases he includes in his writings into Latin – in contrast to his untranslated French – suggesting that this was the language with which he, and his readers, were more familiar. For examples and discussion see Putter, ‘Multilingualism in England and Wales’, pp.  94–8. For a discussion of French monoglots in Anglo-Norman England, see Ian Short, ‘Anglice loqui nesciunt: Monoglots in Anglo-Norman England’, Cultura Neolatina 69 (2009), pp. 245–62. For a translated selection of Gerald’s autobiographical statements, see The Autobiography of Gerald of Wales, trans. by H. E. Butler, intro. by C. H. Williams, with a guide to further reading by John Gillingham (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2005).

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absorbed relatively easily, both ‘Anglorum Gallicus’ and, for those with continental connections, ‘Francorum lingua’.30 However, it would seem logical that further study would have been needed in order to compose and debate in that language.31 The diligence and laudable zeal with which John Blund improved both his written and spoken French would have equipped him admirably, had he been so inclined, for translation work. Rothwell suggests that a 1215 French translation of the Magna Carta was made by a non-native speaker;32 if this is so, perhaps it was carried out by someone like the diligent John Blund. A slightly later record of a professional translator which has survived is that of Robert of Fullham, a clerk of the Exchequer, who received 50s. in 1258 for translating the royal letters confirming the Provisions of Oxford and announcing local governmental reform into French and English.33 It would seem likely that Robert was one of several clerks employed in such work across the country, with translation forming part, or perhaps, in some cases, all of their duties.34 Whilst there is no way of knowing what career Blund eventually decided upon, it may be that those who were engaged in translation work at this time polished their French in much the same way.

T

he texts discussed here – from the twelfth-century nun of Barking to the late-fifteenth-century Caxton – cover a great deal of time chronologically; certainly, the linguistic situation in England changed dramatically over this time. However, two things are consistently expressed: first, that French needs to be learned (all but the nun suggest this); second, that there is a French diglossia in England, of which the H variety is spoken by literate speakers (such as Gerald’s canon of Lincoln) and based on continental French and the L variety, which contains little or no direct continental influence, is popularly believed to be inferior. The speakers of the L variety often knew only more basic French, although this is not axiomatically the case; many of those apologising for their inferior English French, such as the nun of Barking and Gower (although these can also, of course, be read as a conventional modesty topos), had an excellent command of the language.

30

Much later in the period, the idea that one acquired good French by conversing (in French) with Englishmen who already had good French is suggested in an episode from a Manière de langage, which provides a sample conversation between an Englishman and a Parisian. After the Parisian praises his companion’s beautiful French, asking how much time he has spent in France, the Englishman responds that he has never been there, but that ‘je m’ay acoustumee a parler entre les gentils de ce pais icy’ (I have grown up speaking in this way amongst the gentlemen of this land here). Manières de Langage (1396, 1399, 1415), ed. by Andres M. Kristol (London: ANTS, 1995). 31 Blund’s uncles themselves were presumably native English speakers, acquiring their language skills with ‘laboribus et lucubracionibus multis’. Robert Blund was officially based in Lincoln as a practitioner of canon law, although, as an admonishing letter from the bishop-elect Geoffrey Plantagenet, written in the 1170s, makes clear, he often neglected these duties in favour of arguing cases in Paris. The letter is contained among the letters of Peter of Blois, Epistola 62, in PL 207, Col. 185–6. 32 Rothwell, ‘The Role of French in Thirteenth-Century England’, p. 455; for discussion and edition of this translation, see J. C. Holt, ‘A Vernacular-French Text of Magna Carta, 1215’, English Historical Review 89 (1974), pp. 346–64. 33 See Holt, A Vernacular-French Text of Magna Carta’, pp. 349, 351. 34 Cf. Bullock-Davies, Professional Interpreters and the Matter of Britain.

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I shall now consider some of the surviving written teaching material which suggests ways by which both basic and more advanced French could be acquired. This material offers an additional insight into changing levels of French by means of the differing levels of competence it assumes in its audience over time. Whilst there is no evidence that any of the surviving treatises were used by translators, their existence demonstrates ways in which French could have been learned, and widens our knowledge of the language-learning situation in England in which translation took place. Tracing the history of the extent to which a language was spoken, when all that remains are written traces, is notoriously difficult; however, it is possible to discern a shift in the teaching of French later in the period from training in a more active, spoken form of the language to a more passive emphasis on reading and writing certain types of formulaic document, where spoken competence was less necessary.

‘Du fraunceis ki chescun seit dire’: Teaching Material

S

ome insight into the kind of basic French that ‘everyone knows’, or felt that they knew, may be found in Walter de Bibbeworth’s Tretiz, the first known French primer written for English speakers. This is a versified vocabulary, written entirely in French with English glosses over the most difficult words, and is generally agreed to date from the mid thirteenth century (Rothwell gives a possible date of c. 1240–50).35 Bibbesworth’s prologue reveals that the text was written for Dyonise de Mountechensi, widow of a wealthy landowner, ‘pur aprise de langage’, and aims to be a comprehensive guide to the French she would need to teach her children in order for them to manage the family estate: ‘co est a saver de primere tens ke home neistra ou tut le langage par sa nature en sa juvente, puis tut le fraunceis cum il encurt en age e en estate de husbondrie e manaungerie’ (that is to know, in the first place, from birth onwards, all the language appropriate to [the reader’s] youth, then all the [necessary] French as he advances to the age and station of estate and household management).36 A letter, presumably to Dyonise (it is addressed ‘Cher soer’), included in several of the manuscripts, makes this clear: ‘pur ceo ke me pryastes ke jeo meyse en escryst pur vos enfaunz acune apryse de fraunceys en breues paroles jeo l’ay fet soulum ceo ke jeo ay aprys’ (because you have requested that I put into writing for your children some instruction in French, I have done so in accordance with the way I learned).37 The children, Bibbesworth advises, should be spoken to 35

William Rothwell, ‘A Mis-judged Author and a Mis-used Text: Walter de Bibbesworth and his “Tretiz”’, MLR 77 (1982), pp. 282–93, at p. 282. 36 Bibbesworth, Tretiz, ed. by Rothwell, Walter de Bibbesworth: Le Tretiz: from MS. G (Cambridge University Library Gg. 1.1) and MS. T. (Trinity College, Cambridge, 0.2.21, Together with Two AngloFrench Poems in Praise of Women (British Library, MS. Additional 46919) (Aberystwyth: AngloNorman Online Hub, 2009), available online at [accessed 24 November 2015], p. 1. All references are to this edition. 37 Cited in Karen K. Jambeck, ‘The Tretiz of Walter of Bibbesworth: Cultivating the Vernacular’, in Childhood in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: The Results of a Paradigm Shift in the History of

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in French from a very young age – indeed from the time when they start to use language – and he emphasises the importance of using correct pronouns to ensure the system of grammatical gender becomes ingrained in infancy: quant il encurt a tele age Qu’i[l] prendre se poet a langage, E[n] fraunceis lui devez dire Cum primes deit sun cors descrivre Pur l’ordre aver de ‘moun’ e ‘ma’, ‘Ton’ e ‘ta’, ‘soun’ e ‘ça’, ‘le’ e ‘la’.38 [when he reaches the age where he can begin to use language, you should speak to him in French; you should first describe the body, using the forms ‘mon’ and ‘ma’, ‘ton’ and ‘ta’, ‘son’ and ‘sa’, ‘le’ and ‘la’.] However, the Tretiz declares that it will not linger on basic French: n’est pas mester tut a descrivere Du fraunceis ki chescun seit dire, Du ventre, dos ne de l’escine, Espaul, bras ne la petrine: Mes jeo vous frai la mustreison De fraunceis noun pas si commun.39 [it is not necessary to give all the French which everyone knows – the stomach, back nor the spine, the shoulders, arms nor the breast – but I offer you a demonstration of the French which is not so well known.] As Ailes and Putter note, ‘Walter takes it for granted that his patroness, a member of the gentry rather than the high aristocracy, can read French’.40 His treatise is certainly not designed with the complete beginner in mind – at least, not the complete beginner unaided. Although the English glosses – an integral part of Bibbesworth’s original plan, as he explains in his prologue, ‘Dounc tut dis troverez vous primes le fraunceis e puis le engleise amount’ (throughout you will find the French first and then the English above)41 – provide additional support for the audience, these are single words only; one would be unable to read the poem without some prior knowledge of the language. However, it would be possible for a beginner to learn the vocabulary with the help of someone who already knew at least some French, as Mentality, ed. by Albrecht Classen (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2005), pp. 159–83, at p. 160. The translation of the letter is Jambeck’s; all others from the Tretiz are my own. The letter is published in full in Bibbesworth, Traité de Walter de Bibbesworth sur la langue française, ed. by A. Owen (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1929), p. 44. 38 Bibbesworth, Tretiz, lines 21–6. 39 Ibid., lines 81–6. 40 Ailes and Putter, ‘The French of Medieval England’, p. 66. 41 Ibid., p. 1. There is an extensive discussion of the glosses in William Rothwell, ‘Anglo-French in Rural England in the Later Thirteenth Century’, Vox Romanica 67 (2008), pp. 100–32.

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would indeed have been the case with Dyonise and her children. It is possible, too, that Dyonise might have needed a refresher course in the ‘franceis ki chescun seit dire’, and that the book’s ostensible direction towards her children provided a convenient smokescreen. Through Bibbesworth’s text, Dyonise would also have been able to address any lapses in her proficiency in the technical vocabulary of estate management, and pass this on to her children in turn along with the basics of the language. Bibbesworth’s emphasis on spoken French should also be noted. He specifies that ‘quant il encurt a tele age | Qu’i[l] prendre se poet a langage, | E[n] fraunceis lui devez dire’, and declares that one of the purposes of teaching the difference between masculine and feminine articles and pronouns is ‘Qu’i[l] en parole seit meuz apris’ (my italics).42 In the prologue, he remarks more generally that the treatise will teach ‘le dreit ordre en parler e en respundre qe nuls gentils homme coveint saver’ (the right order in which to speak and reply that any nobleman needs to know), suggesting that the beneficiaries of the Tretiz will be expected to create original verbal responses to questions which may be put to them.43 This points to the teaching of an active competence in French, albeit one largely dependent on the vocabulary of estate management. This, then, draws a picture of the situation for at least some members of the generation following Bibbesworth, if the Tretiz were used in the manner suggested; whilst being brought up in a mainly anglophone environment (otherwise explicit instructions to speak to the children in French would not be necessary44), they were spoken to in French from a very early age, as soon as they were able to speak – precisely the way in which children best acquire a second language.45 Even if it were not his mother tongue, a child learning French using the method described by Bibbesworth would acquire the language with much greater ease than, say, a boy learning Latin in a more formal schoolroom environment, or a young clerk learning business or law French in the course of his professional training in the fifteenth century. Bibbesworth’s poem seems to have enjoyed some popularity; there are 16 extant manuscripts, with the latest dating from the fifteenth century, so its influence stretched considerably further than a single family.46 The method of teaching it suggests undoubtedly pre-dates the Tretiz, as Bibbesworth tells Dyonise that he is writing using the methods by which he himself was taught. It is an obvious, practical and child-friendly way to teach a language, and one suspects that this is the way in which many post-Conquest children of wealthier families learned French. Bibbesworth 42

i.e. ‘spoken discourse’. AND, s.v. ‘parole’ (n.). Bibbesworth, Tretiz, p. 1. 44 See Rothwell, ‘Anglo-French in Rural England’, p. 129. 45 As Ingham notes, exposing children to a language at such an early stage, before the age of five, gives them the potential to acquire native-like phonology as well as syntax acquisition. The Transmission of Anglo-Norman, p. 4. 46 For a list of manuscripts see Rothwell’s earlier edition of Bibbesworth, Le Tretiz: Walter de Bibbesworth (London: ANTS, 1990), pp. 1–2. 43

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would only have been a generation or so older than John Blund at the most; beginning by learning the names for the parts of the body and the objects around him may have been the way Gerald’s diligent young man gained his grounding in ‘Anglorum Gallicus’ before turning to his uncles for further instruction. And the uncles themselves were, in all probability, teaching their nephew in the way that they had been taught; following this line of thought, one can conjecture a chain of Englishmen teaching French to Englishmen stretching back at least to the early twelfth century.47 In addition to a wide dissemination in its own right, the Tretiz seems to have influenced a number of later teaching texts; there are word lists contained in the fifteenth-century grammars Orthographia Gallica, Liber Donati and the 1415 version of the Manières de Langage which appear to have used material from Bibbesworth.48 In particular, two later works, the Nominale sive verbale and the Femina, are based largely on the Tretiz, both of which contain full English translations rather than sporadic glossing. The movement from sporadic glosses to full English translations of these texts does not necessarily reflect a smooth line of development from high to low levels of knowledge of French as time passes; the early copies of the Tretiz are sometimes more glossed than the later ones, and the All Souls manuscript of Bibbesworth, produced around the same time as Femina, contains minimal glossing.49 However, the fact that both the Nominale and Femina authors felt the need to make a complete English translation of their texts suggests that, at least in some quarters, the occasional glossing scheme of Bibbesworth was felt to be insufficient. The Nominale sive verbale, dating from the mid fourteenth century and contained in a single manuscript, is a close copy of a number of sections of the Tretiz, including those which cover the parts of the body, birds and animals.50 The Femina dates from the early fifteenth century, and is also extant in a single manuscript; primarily an abridged version of the Tretiz, it incorporates additional material from Urbain le Cortois and Nicholas Bozon’s Proverbes de bon enseignement, and ends with an original French pronunciation guide.51 Both of these later works are intriguing testaments to the way in which Bibbesworth’s text was adapted by later audiences, and the altered contexts in which these new adaptations might have been used by those wishing to learn French. 47

This would seem to be a fairly universal method of teaching foreign languages throughout history; it is used, for instance, in the ‘English lesson’ scene in Shakespeare’s Henry V (Act III, sc. iv). 48 See Rothwell, ‘Anglo-French in Rural England’, pp. 118–19. For editions of the Liber Donati, the Orthographia Gallica and the Manières de Langage, see Liber Donati: A Fifteenth-Century Manual of French ed. by Brian Merrilees and Beata Sitarz-Fitzpatrick (London: ANTS, 1993); Orthographia Gallica, ed. by R. C. Johnson (London: ANTS, 1987); Manières de Langage (1396, 1399, 1415), ed. by Andres M. Kristol (London: ANTS, 1995). 49 See William Rothwell, ‘The Place of Femina in Anglo-Norman Studies’, Studia Neophilologica 70 (1998), pp. 55–82, at p. 58. 50 Nominale, ed. by W. W. Skeat, Nominale sive verbale, in Transactions of the Philological Society (1906), pp. 1*–50*. 51 Femina, ed. by William Rothwell, Femina (Aberystwyth: Anglo-Norman On-Line Hub, 2005), available online at [accessed 24 November 2015]. All references are to this edition.

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The Nominale is the less innovative of the two; except for the addition of the English translation, there are no substantial changes to Bibbesworth’s text. However, its manuscript context provides valuable clues as to how it might have been used with other texts to facilitate language learning. Although the manuscript was made around a century after the composition date, and so cannot provide evidence of the Nominale’s first audience, it suggests that, in later years, the poem was read alongside a number of different types of teaching text. The manuscript, Cambridge University Library, MS Ee. 4. 20, was produced at the monastery at St Albans, and contains 29 items in Latin and French, several of a legal and administrative nature, along with a number concerned with the learning of French, and composition in both French and Latin. The manuscript was compiled as a single volume by William Wyntershulle, chaplain to Abbot Thomas de la Mare (1349–96), and was begun (as a note reveals) in 1382: it begins with an elaborate, 21-page Table of Contents, and has a unified, simple decoration scheme (pale yellow washes on capitals, many of which have been turned into ink drawings of faces, fish or other designs). The Nominale (item 11) appears towards the middle of the manuscript, and is set amongst a number of French teaching texts from the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries: a copy of the Orthographia Gallica (item 7), a nominale of French colours and numbers (item 8), several model letters from the school of Thomas Sampson, who taught business French in Oxford in the late fourteenth century52 (item 9), a French treatise on heraldry (item 10), a copy of the Liber Donati (item 12) and more model letters (item 13). The compilation of various types of French teaching text in a single manuscript is not unusual in fifteenth-century codices, by which time a wider range of teaching material had been written. Four of the six manuscripts containing the Liber Donati, for instance, include one or more such works, whether a phrasebook-type work such as the Manière de Langage or another grammatical text.53 One of these is the Femina manuscript itself (Cambridge, Trinity College, MS B 14. 40), whose additional contents include a French grammar in Latin, a copy of the Sampson letters and the Orthographia Gallica.54 This would appear to suggest that audiences interested in learning French through any one of these works would supplement their learning with other types of text. This certainly seems likely to have been the case with MS Ee. 4. 20; whilst not an elaborately decorated presentation manuscript, its relatively large size (295mm × 225mm) and neat, carefully planned layout suggest that it may, perhaps, have been used as a reference book by the monastic community at St Albans. The Femina contains more significant changes, both because of the incorporation of the courtesy texts, and because of the further addition of Latin headings and connecting passages, both of which suggest a shift in focus of the type of teaching 52

Sampson is discussed below. For a description of the Liber Donati manuscripts and their principal contents, see Merrilees and Sitarz-Fitzpatrick, Liber Donati, pp. 1–3. 54 For description, see M. R. James, The Western Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge: A Descriptive Catalogue, 4 vols (Cambridge: CUP, 1900–4), vol. 1, pp. 438–9. 53

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it intends.55 The Latin introduction declares that it is a book of instruction for the young: ‘Liber iste vocatur femina quia sicut femina docet infantem loqui maternam sic docet iste liber juvenes rhetorice loqui gallicum’ (this book is called ‘Femina’, because just as the woman teaches the infant to speak the mother tongue, this book teaches young people to speak French eloquently).56 It is a somewhat hybrid work; its use of Tretiz material, beginning ‘Beau enfant pur apprendre’, recalls Bibbesworth’s home-teaching approach, whereas its Latin framework and inclusion of moralising material allies it with the work of the Oxford schoolmen such as Thomas Sampson. Its inclusion in the Trinity manuscript alongside other teaching texts, including the Sampson letters, suggests that, whatever the original purpose of the Femina author may have been, it was used here as part of a wider course of study. Like MS Ee. 4. 20, MS B 14. 40 has a clear, neat layout, and seems designed for ease of reading; its compact size (180mm × 135mm) would have made it a readily portable reference work. The Latin framework used for the Femina is indicative of the more formal setting in which French was taught after its decline as a living vernacular in the mid fourteenth century. Prior to this point, young boys entering grammar school at the age of seven would have received formal instruction in Latin, using French as an aid to construing this. In addition to any French they may have learned elsewhere, Ingham suggests that boys could have been taught some everyday French in the semi-formal environment of a ‘song school’ (schola cantus), or elementary school, run by the Church, where pupils between the ages of five and seven would have learned basic lessons such as the alphabet and singing.57 Ingham’s linguistic analysis suggests that French was used as a vehicle language for Latin-teaching until around 1350, after which Latin was taught in English. He argues that there may have been a causal relationship between this and the Black Death’s catastrophic effect on the English population in the mid fourteenth century, which, among other things, necessitated the recruitment of clergy lacking the language skills to transmit Latin and French to pre-plague standards.58 The Femina’s Latin framework also reflects a wider trend towards the incorporation of Latin into the teaching of French in written teaching material in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The writing of grammatical treatises explaining French through the medium of Latin, such as the Orthographia Gallica and the Liber Donati, showed a marked increase during this period. In addition to suggesting a wider need for instruction in French beyond the vocabulary level, as Rothwell and 55

William Rothwell has commented extensively on this text; see ‘The Place of Femina in AngloNorman Studies’; ‘Anglo-French and Middle English Vocabulary in Femina Nova’, Medium Ævum 69 (2000), pp. 34–58; his edition of Femina, pp. i–ix. 56 Femina, p. 1. 57 For song schools and the elementary education available during this period, see Nicholas Orme, English Schools in the Middle Ages (London: Methuen, 1973), pp. 64–8; for a discussion of French as a vehicle language, see Ingham, The Transmission of Anglo-Norman p. 33. 58 Ingham, The Transmission of Anglo-Norman, p. 35.

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others have suggested,59 these Latin-language texts also reveal the framing of French as a more academic, Latin-type language through use of the tools and terminology associated with the learning of Latin grammar.60 Another suggestive aspect of the Femina is its inclusion of a glossary and pronunciation guide to spoken French. The final section of the text consists of an extensive word list in three columns, the first providing an alphabetised list of French words contained in the main text, the second indicating how they should be pronounced and the third offering an English translation.61 From this we might infer not only that the text’s compiler expected his readers to be sufficiently unfamiliar with the meaning of written French words to require a glossary to the text they have just read in addition to the line-by-line English translation given in the main body of the poem, but also that they would have had insufficient exposure to spoken French to know how the words in the poem should be spoken aloud. The qualitative as well as quantitative differences in the type of learning support provided in these later Bibbesworth adaptations are a further indication that Kibbee’s assertion that the knowledge of French in England underwent a ‘steady retreat’, based on the increasing levels of written apparatus in teaching material, oversimplifies the matter.62 Butterfield’s argument that the proliferation of French grammars, and other markers of the seeming decline of French in this period, can more properly be understood as the reflection of a movement from a knowledge of French grounded in the spoken to one based on writing, provides, I believe, a more accurate reading of the situation.63 This refining of the ‘decline of French’ into ‘the decline of spoken French’ provides a clearer framework within which contemporary remarks on the dwindling proficiency in French (such as Trevisa’s famous complaint that, due to the teaching of Latin through English rather than French, ‘children of gramer scole conneþ na more Frensche þan can hir left heele’64) and the various artificial measures taken within universities and religious houses to preserve French conversation, can be viewed.65 59

Rothwell, ‘The Teaching and Learning of French in Later Medieval England’, p. 2, also cites the first known grammatical work, a 34-line treatise dating from the beginning of the thirteenth century which explains the conjugation of tenses, as ‘proof of the need felt in at least some clerkly quarters of English society for instruction in the grammar of French perhaps half a century earlier than the surviving nominalia’. The treatise is edited by Östen Södergård, ‘Le plus ancien traité grammatical français’, Studia Neophilologica 27 (1955), pp. 192–4. 60 As Lusignan, Parler vulgairement, Ch. 3, has pointed out, the creation of these treatises in England also affected the way in which French was viewed in France: in their provision of a framework by which French could consider its own construction, they also enhanced perceptions of French as a Latin-type language for native speakers. 61 Femina, pp. 104–18. 62 Kibbee, For to Speke Frenche Trewely, p. 57. 63 Butterfield, Familiar Enemy, esp. pp. 328–35. 64 Polychronicon, ed. by Babington and Lumby, vol. 2, pp. 158–9. 65 The second group of Oxford grammar statues, written before 1380, decree that students should be taught to construe in Latin or French, ‘ne illa lingua Gallica penitus sit omissa’ (lest the French language be thoroughly neglected). Statuta antiqua Universitatis oxoniensis, ed. by Strickland Gibson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931), p.  171. The statutes of a number of Oxford and Cambridge

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‘ne ill a lingua Gallica penitus sit omissa’: L ater Teaching of French

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he increased association of French with the written rather than the spoken sphere would seem to have been one of the factors leading to the establishment of a number of schools teaching ‘business French’ in Oxford, operating independently of the university, which offered courses in letter-writing in French and Latin, as well as spoken French and French grammar.66 The courses became so popular that in 1432 the university created a statute specifically to regulate the teaching of ‘artes scribendi et dictandi loquendique Gallica ydioma, in quibus nulle ordinarie sunt lecture’ (the arts of writing, composing and speaking the French language, in which there are no ordinary lectures), in an attempt to minimise direct competition with the tuition offered by the university itself.67 The first school which seems to have offered a complete course of this type was that of Thomas Sampson, who was apparently working as a teacher between the 1370s and around 1409.68 These courses were intended to train the future administrators of England; their emphasis on model letters, addressing persons of various rank, points to the fact that one of their primary aims was to facilitate written communication in French. Among other things, one who followed such a course could have become a bilingual literate without necessarily becoming a fully fluent bilingual speaker, which, as I have hypothesised, may have been the case for at least some of my translators. Whilst there is no evidence that translation was taught at such schools, one trained in ‘artes scribendi et dictandi loquendique Gallica ydioma’ could well have become more equipped to do so. One known example of a translator who attended such a school is Hoccleve, whose c. 1402 translation of Christine de Pizan’s ‘L’Epistre au Dieu d’Amours’ into the ‘Letter to Cupid’ is his earliest datable poem. Hoccleve received secretarial training in a school similar to that of Sampson before becoming a clerk of the Privy Seal Office around 1388/9, where he learned enough French and Latin for professional purposes.69 His later work as a poet and translator suggests colleges, mainly dating from the fourteenth century, enforced the use of spoken French or Latin even in casual conversations; a 1326 statute from Oriel College, Oxford, stipulated that Latin or French should be used among students ‘in cameris suis’. Statutes of the Colleges of Oxford: With Royal Patents of Foundation, Injunctions of Visitors and Catalogues of Documents Relating to the University Preserved in the Public Record Office, 3 vols (Oxford: J. H. Parker, 1853), e.g. vol. 1, Oriel Coll., p. 8. 66 For a general introduction to these schools, see H. G. Richardson, ‘Business Training in Medieval Oxford’, The American Historical Review 46 (1941), pp. 259–80; see also Ivor D. O. Arnold, ‘Thomas Sampson and the Orthographia Gallica’, Medium Ævum 6 (1937), pp.193–209. 67 Gibson, ed., Statuta, p. 240, trans. and discussed in Martin Camargo, ‘If You Can’t Join Them, Beat Them; or; When Grammar Met Business Writing (in Fifteenth-Century Oxford)’, in Letter-Writing Manuals and Instruction from Antiquity to the Present, ed. by Carol Poster and Linda C. Mitchell (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2007), pp. 67–87, at pp. 67–70; see also Rashdall, The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, vol. 3, p. 162. 68 For details of Sampson’s life, see Richardson, ‘Business Training in Medieval Oxford’, pp. 260–5; Camargo, ‘If You Can’t Join Them, Beat Them’, p. 71. 69 Indeed, the existence of a trilingual Privy Seal formulary book (containing examples of the type of documents issued by the office) in Hoccleve’s own hand suggests his level of experience in this

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that the French he learned at the school was at least adequate for setting him on his way, although he presumably supplemented the French he had learned with further reading; this may well have been the educational situation for later writers. The increasing framing of French as a learned, Latin-type language in terms of the way it was taught may also have affected the way in which French was perceived by French > English translators in a broader sense. The increasingly elaborate translators’ prologues charted in Chapter 3 may, in part, have been influenced by a sense that, rather than being another vernacular in direct literary competition with English, French had become a language occupying a sufficiently different, and academic, sphere, necessitating the type of lengthy prologue produced by Caxton.

The Acquisition of French in the Cloister

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he situation may have been somewhat different for translators based in religious houses, such as Robert Mannyng or Dan Michel. The conservative atmosphere of the cloister meant that the French of England was preserved in religious houses as a conversational language well after it had fallen out of use as a vernacular anywhere else. After the development of the universities, which were primarily focused on Latin, French could become ever more the preserve of religious houses. Nunneries, which were seldom Latinate (particularly after the rise of the universities), remained francophone for the longest of all.70 From the end of the thirteenth century onwards, the gradual shift towards a preference for English in the cloister can be seen in various statutes prohibiting the use of English. In the last two decades of the thirteenth century, for instance, the regulations of the Benedictine monasteries of Canterbury and Westminster forbade the use of English in school or cloister by novices, requiring all conversation to be in French.71 However, the preservation of French in the cloisters, by artificial or other means, was successful; in an increasingly anglophone country, religious houses played no small role in the cultivating of French. In a discussion of the meaning of Chaucer’s well-known phrase ‘After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe’, Rothwell suggests that ‘“Scole” here means more than just “manner”: it still retains an untranslatable redolence of its basic didactic meaning.’72

work. The manuscript is preserved as London, British Library, MS Additional 24062. For detailed discussion, see e.g. Helen Katherine Spencer Killick, ‘Thomas Hoccleve as Poet and Clerk’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of York, 2010), p. 20. The changeover from French to English in the Office of the Privy Seal did not occur until the 1520s; see A. L. Brown, ‘The Privy Seal Clerks in the Early Fifteenth Century’, in The Study of Medieval Records: Essays in Honour of Kathleen Major, ed. by D. A. Bullough and R. L. Storey (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), pp. 260–81. 70 This is another argument in favour of women’s involvement in the translation of French; see Chapter 6 for further discussion. 71 Customary of the Benedictine Monasteries of Saint Augustine, Canterbury, and Saint Peter, Westminster, ed. by E. M. Thompson, 2 vols (London: Henry Bradshaw Society, 1902–4), vol. 1, p. 210; vol. 2, p. 164. 72 Rothwell, ‘Stratford-atte-Bowe Revisited’, p. 191.

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In later years artificial instruction in such houses may have become more necessary; the existence of the Nominale manuscript suggests that at least one man connected with St Albans in the late fourteenth century may have required a work of more formal instruction in French. It is even possible that this work was used within the monastery by those with greater competence in French as a teaching aid to instruct those of lesser ability; though there is no evidence to suggest how French teaching may have taken place within religious houses, this seems one plausible explanation for the manuscript’s existence, particularly given its date, when formal written instruction in the language seems to have been more common. A consideration of how French was learned in the cloister makes for a potentially fruitful wider context in which to view the work of Mannyng, who was active as a translator some fifty years after Bibbesworth’s original Tretiz was composed, and fifty years before the Nominale manuscript was made at St Albans. Given the difficulties with maintaining conversational French expressed in the late-thirteenth-century statutes of the Benedictine monasteries of Canterbury and Westminster, and William Wyntershulle’s creation of a compilation manuscript of teaching material for another religious house in the 1380s, it is intriguing to speculate whether teaching French might have been one of Mannyng’s roles in the various Gilbertine houses with which he is associated.73 It would a stretch to say that he intended the teaching of French to be one of the aims of Handlyng Synne; however, the dictionary-style definitions of unfamiliar French terms scattered throughout his text certainly reveal a didactic impulse, and one wonders whether he may have passed on his knowledge of this language to others of lesser capabilities using similar methods to those recorded in his writings or found in the Bibbesworth derivations. The explanations of French words and phrases provided in Handlyng Synne, such as its breakdown of its source’s title (‘Manuel ys handlyng wyþ honde, | Pecchees ys synne to vndyrstonde’74) perform a similar role to the vocabulary-expanding agenda of the Tretiz. Although Mannyng is transferring the new words he introduces from French into English, and thus primarily aiming to augment his audience’s English vocabulary rather than their knowledge of French, his prologue makes it extremely clear that he is translating a French work, reminding us that he ‘turnede [...] On englyssh tunge out of frankys, | Of a boke as y fonde ynne’, which would in turn suggest that any new vocabulary gained would be likely to be coming from that language.75 This is made explicit in his presentation of ‘sacrylege’ as a French word which he has made, by a feat of translational alchemy, into an English word; Mannyng thus expands his audience’s knowledge of English and French simultaneously.76 There is no evidence to suggest how Mannyng originally came by his French; 73

The exact circumstances of Mannyng’s work at Sempringham or elsewhere are unknown; see Chapter 7 for further discussion. 74 Handlyng Synne, lines 79–80. For a fuller discussion of Mannyng’s dictionary definitions, see Chapter 2. 75 Ibid., lines 75–77. 76 Ibid., lines 8597–602; see Chapter 2 for a detailed analysis of this passage.

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however, growing up in the late thirteenth century, it is entirely possible that he might have learned ‘fraunceis noun pas si commun’ at a young age through similar methods to those presented in Bibbesworth’s text. If so, it might seem natural for him to pass on his linguistic knowledge using similar methods, whether expanding his readers’ English vocabulary or introducing them to the French roots of these words. Taking this argument still further, Mannyng’s explanation of the way in which he translated the title of his source text is also an extremely clear, step-by-step guide on how to translate something from French; it does not seem to be beyond the bounds of possibility that Mannyng might also have taught others to translate in this way. Whilst this must remain tantalisingly speculative, the case of Mannyng serves as a reminder that taking the wider educational background of French language teaching available in England into account can offer a useful context in which to consider the practice of French > English translation.

T

he evidence of French teaching discussed in this chapter reflects a spectrum of types of language learning which took place in England over this period, and suggests a number of ways in which translators could have come by their French. Using the information from the above discussion, it is possible to divide the French ability of those living in post-1066 England into seven levels of competence, from the highest to the lowest level:



(i) Native speakers of French. French monoglots, or those for whom French was a first language (e.g. Gerald of Wales) (ii) Fluent spoken ability, influenced by direct contact with continental French, fluent literacy. Passive/active competence equal in H AngloNorman (e.g. John Blund’s uncles) (iii) Fluent spoken ability, influenced by indirect contact with continental French, fluent literacy. Passive/active competence equal in H AngloNorman (e.g. John Blund) (iv) Fluent spoken ability, little or no influence from continental French, fluent literacy. Passive/active competence equal in H Anglo-Norman (e.g. the nun of Barking, possibly Chaucer’s Prioress) (v) Moderate active competence, passive competence greater. Good general literacy (e.g. some of the attendees of Thomas Sampson’s school) (vi) Moderate active competence, passive competence greater. However, largely dependent on certain spheres of vocabulary (e.g. estate management), and, in literacy, a familiarity with the formulae of certain classes of document (e.g. Dyonise de Mountechensi’s children and the wider audience of de Bibbesworth’s Tretiz) (vii) Minimal active competence, passive competence (as always) greater. No literacy. (e.g. lesser nuns/monks/lay brothers/sisters, laymen and women who may know a few phrases) In the cases studied above, one can discern a change not only in the level of

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ability in French, but in the quality of French learned. There is a clear shift from an emphasis on the cultivation of a more active, spoken competence (as we saw, for instance, in Bibbesworth) to a more passive, written competence (as was the case, for example, in Sampson’s school). Any conclusions drawn in relation to the present study are necessarily tentative. It would be forced to speculate overly about the training of individual translators, and, with the exception of Hoccleve (who may well have supplemented his language school attendance with other methods), there is no proof that those making French > English translations learned French using these methods. However, given the diminishing numbers of people for whom French would have been a true vernacular, it seems likely that many of those engaged in translation would have learned the language artificially to a greater or lesser extent; the comments of the Partenay translator, Caxton and Lydgate at the beginning of this chapter demonstrate that this was true for at least some of those carrying out this type of work. From the kind of home teaching received by John Blund sitting at the feet of his Paris-schooled uncles at the beginning of the thirteenth century, through the ‘fraunceis noun pas si commun’ offered by Bibbesworth’s Tretiz in the mid thirteenth century, to the complete language course provided by William Kingsmill in the early fifteenth century, the available evidence suggests a number of options for those ‘not aqueynted of birth naturall | With fre[n]sh’ who wished to carry out French > English translation.

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ambridge Univer sit y Library MS Kk. 1. 6 is a large, plainly decorated collection of devotional works in Middle English verse and prose compiled in the 1450s by Richard Fox, a layman in the service of St Albans Abbey and an amateur scribe and book collector. At the end of the first item, a commentary on the Seven Penitential Psalms, is an ascription in red ink in Fox’s hand, revealing that the text is the work of a woman, and that it has been translated from French: Here endeth the vij Psalmus the wheche Dame Alyanore Hulle Translated out of Frensche in to Englesche1 She is also credited at the end of the second item, a collection of prayers and meditations structured around the seven days of the week which are described as being ‘in party takyn of Seynt Austyn, party of Seynt Ancelm, party of Seynt Barnard, and party of oþer wrytynges’,2 in the same hand and red ink as the first ascription: Alyanor Hulle drowe out of Frennsche alle this before wreten in this lytylle Booke3 Eleanor Hull, an aristocratic laywoman in the service of Henry IV’s second wife, Joan of Navarre, who probably made her translations at the Hertfordshire Benedictine house of Sopwell Priory in the 1420s, is the only medieval woman translating into English from either French or Latin whose name we know.4 Part of the second of her texts has been identified by Alexandra Barratt as a close, confident translation of a thirteenth-century Anglo-Norman series of prayers and meditations, and there is every reason to suppose that her other sources, so far unidentified, were translated with similar skill.5 Were it not for the ascriptions in the manuscript, however, there would be no especial reason to suppose that these translations were made by a woman. Although her source material is a devotional text of the kind 1

CUL MS Kk. 1. 6, fol. 147v. For a description of this manuscript, see Eleanor Hull, The Seven Psalms: A Commentary on the Penitential Psalms, translated from French into English by Dame Eleanor Hull, ed. by Alexandra Barratt, EETS O.S. 307 (Oxford: OUP, 1995), pp. xiv–xxii. 2 CUL MS Kk. 1. 6, fol. 148r. 3 Eleanor’s commentary on the penitential psalms has been edited by Alexandra Barratt as The Seven Psalms: A Commentary on the Penitential Psalms; her second translation is unpublished, but has been edited by Sheila Cornard: Eleanor Hull, ‘Dame Eleanor Hull’s Meditacyons upon the VII Dayes of the Woke: The First Edition of the Middle English Translation in Cambridge University Library MS. Kk.i.6’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Dayton, 1995). Extracts have been printed in Alexandra Barratt, ed., Women’s Writing in Middle English (London: Longman, 1992), pp. 223–31. 4 For a fuller biography, see Alexandra Barratt, ‘Dame Eleanor Hull: The Translator at Work’, Medium Ævum 72 (2003), pp. 277–96, at p. 277. 5 Barratt, ‘The Translator at Work’, p. 278 onwards.

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often associated with female audiences, there is nothing which particularly suggests a woman translator; there is no author-identifying prologue, or any other allusions to her gender. As Barratt warns in her earliest study of Eleanor’s life and work, ‘if so unlikely a text turns out to have been the work of a woman, we should be wary of automatically excluding the possibility of a woman’s authoring any medieval text on a priori grounds’.6 As the previous chapter demonstrated, French was acquired in a wide variety of contexts in post-Conquest England, many of which had little to do with formal schoolroom instruction. Among other things, this also made French into a language which was likely to be more accessible to women, even after it ceased to be a mother tongue. Given the large number of anonymous French > English translations contained within the Middle English corpus, the possible involvement of women surely deserves to be given consideration as one of the ways in which French > English translation could have taken place. Much of our picture of translation in the Middle Ages is male-dominated, either implicitly or explicitly, and an assessment of the available evidence relating to women translators is necessary to redress this balance. Largely excluded from written Latin culture, women have been widely recognised as a major driving force in the creation of vernacular literature across Europe; Dante’s famous declaration in his Vita Nuova that ‘lo primo che cominciò a dire sì come poeta volgare, si mosse però che volle fare intendere le sue parole a donna, a la quale era malagevole d’intendere li versi latini’ (the first to begin writing as a poet in the common tongue was moved to do so by a desire to make his words understandable to ladies who found Latin verses difficult to comprehend) contains a large measure of truth.7 In England, where a tradition of vernacular literacy developed very early, the first Latin > Anglo-Norman translations were made for female patrons of the francophone court.8 As French became a language used in an increasingly narrow series of spheres, it was still one in which some women were likely to retain some degree of competence, either through active use at court (if aristocratic), convent (if nuns) or through their reading material (if literate). As we saw with Bibbesworth’s Tretiz, discussed in the previous chapter, at least one French primer circulating in 6

Alexandra Barratt, ‘Dame Eleanor Hull: A Fifteenth-Century Translator’, in Medieval Translator: The Theory and Practice of Translation in the Middle Ages, ed. by Roger Ellis, with Jocelyn Price, Stephen Medcalf and Peter Meredith (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1989), vol. 1, pp. 87–101, at p. 101. 7 Dante Alighieri, Vita Nuova, ed. by Jennifer Petrie and June Salmons (Dublin: Foundation for Italian Studies, Department of Italian, University College, Dublin, 1994), Chapter XXV. Translation based on Vita Nuova, trans. by Mark Musa (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 1999), p. 53. 8 As discussed in Chapter 1: Benedeit’s Voyage of St Brendan (c. 1121) and Philippe de Thaon’s Bestiary (c. 1121–35) were both produced for Henry I’s queen, Adeliza, and the oldest extant AngloNorman history, Geffrei Gaimar’s Estoire des Engleis (c. 1135–40), declares that ‘Ceste estorie fist translater | Dame Custance la gentil’ (the noble lady Constance had this story translated); Laȝamon tells us, meanwhile, that Wace’s Roman de Brut (c. 1155) was presented to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Estoire des Engleis, lines 6430–1; Brut, Cotton Caligula version, lines 22–3. For a discussion of the role of these earliest women patrons and their counterparts in Germany, the Low Countries and elsewhere in Europe, see e.g. June Hall McCash, ‘The Role of Women in the Rise of the Vernacular’, Comparative Literature 60 (2008), pp. 45–57.

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England was explicitly addressed to a woman, and this association is perpetuated in the later Femina’s comparison of motherly teaching and the learning of French. The interest among women in England, and indeed in other European countries, for French romances is well documented throughout the medieval period; although they were by no means the sole audiences for such texts, there does seem to have been a general association between women and this type of material.9 To be sure, there is a difference between literature for women and literature by women; a stated demand for the translation of texts into a language understandable by women usually presupposes that a male translator was necessary, as was the case with the Anglo-Norman writings of Benedeit, Philippe de Thaon and Gaimar.10 However, while such a model may have held more truth in reference to Latin > vernacular translation, in situations where vernacular > vernacular translation was taking place, it would seem likely that more women would have had the linguistic skills to have been involved in the translation process themselves. A search for women translators in medieval England may often be a question of looking for the invisible. The evidence of Eleanor Hull, at least, suggests that any other women who did translate might equally have gone about their task without drawing attention to their gender in any way, acting, in fact, much as male translators did. Whilst this does not make the scholar’s task any easier, this very invisibility may also mean that more women were engaged in such activity than we know of, leaving no trace in their work. Due to the limited educational opportunities available to women, this number may not be large; speaking of the few women known to have translated Latin into French in the twelfth century, Wogan-Browne has suggested that it is ‘probable that the small number of texts we have represents not unfairly the heuristic nature of post-Conquest women’s access to clerisy’, and in all probability, this also holds true for the later Middle Ages.11 For this reason one must exercise caution in suggesting women as translators of various anonymous works, tempting though this may be. However, not to ask the question at all would be misleading. Rather than attempting to ascertain whether women were responsible for translating particular texts, either from my corpus or elsewhere, the aim of this chapter is to explore the case for the activity of women translators in later medieval England in a more general sense, particularly those who might have been involved in French 9

For a discussion of female patronage in tradition and fact, see Carol M. Meale, ‘“...alle the bokes that I hauve of latyn, englisch, and frensch”: Laywomen and their Books in Late Medieval England’, in Women and Literature in Britain 1150–1500, 2nd edn, ed. by Carol M. Meale (Cambridge: CUP, 1996), pp. 128–58, esp. p. 139, which provides a number of examples of books owned by women containing romances. For the link between women and the production of vernacular literature in an Italian context, see Alison Cornish, ‘A Lady Asks: The Gender of Vulgarization in Late Medieval Italy’, PMLA 115 (2000), pp. 166–80. 10 For a study of some of the negative effects of this within the context of devotional literature, see Anne Clark Bartlett, Male Authors, Female Readers: Representation and Subjectivity in Middle English Devotional Literature (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995). 11 Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, ‘“Clerc u lai, muïne u dame”: Women and Anglo-Norman Hagiography in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries’, in Meale, Women and Literature in Britain, pp. 61–85, at p. 74.

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> English translation. I will begin by discussing the educational opportunities available to women in post-Conquest England, exploring women’s acquisition of reading and writing skills, their access to Latin and their exposure to and learning of French. I will also explore the possibility that they might have been involved in collaborative acts of translation, either written or oral, through the use of scribes or amanuenses. After considering the practical and educational factors affecting women’s ability to translate, I will investigate historical precedents and potential models for translational activity by women which could have filtered through into the Middle English tradition. Whilst none of the prologues from my core corpus contain comments about women’s involvement in translation activity, there are a handful of Latin > French translations written by women in twelfth-century England containing translators’ prologues and epilogues, which are an invaluable tool in developing an understanding of how women translators might have considered their work. I will also explore any sense of a specifically female auctoritas which might have existed in the Anglo-Norman tradition or been carried through into the Middle English period, including visual depictions of women writing in illuminated manuscripts. The final section of this chapter explores two Middle English texts bearing associations with women translators. The first is a fifteenth-century Rule of St Benedict ‘that out of Frensch tunge taken is and in Englissch set’ whose creation has been linked with a Benedictine nun, and the second the Second Nun’s retelling of the legend of St Cecilia from the Canterbury Tales, whose declaration that she will ‘do [...] my feithful bisynesse | After the legende in translacioun’ embodies a number of issues raised throughout the chapter about the potential involvement of women with French > English translation.

Women’s Education and the Use of French

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n Engl and, where educational standards for women were markedly lower than in continental Europe,12 there is little direct evidence of the numbers of women who were able to write, and the evidence for female scribes working in

12

In many ways England was a relatively minor, peripheral outpost of medieval Europe, in contrast to the major centres of trade and learning on the continent (see Chapter 8 for further discussion on this subject). The only point in the Middle Ages in which English nuns were at all known for their learning was in the Anglo-Saxon period, when a number of women are known to have corresponded and composed in Latin; see e.g. Julia Crick, ‘The Wealth, Connections and Patronage of Women’s Houses in Late Anglo-Saxon England’, Revue Bénédictine 109 (1999), pp. 154–85. There are far fewer records of educated, Latinate women in England than on the continent, and there are no English equivalents of Latinate women authors such as Heloise, Hildegard von Bingen or, in the thirteenth century, Mechtild von Magdeburg. For a discussion of the achievements of continental women, see e.g. Joan M. Ferrante, ‘The Education of Women in the Middle Ages in Theory, Fact and Fantasy’, in Beyond Their Sex: Learned Women of the European Past, ed. by Patricia H. Labalme (New York, NY: New York University Press, 1980), pp. 9–42. This pattern appears to have continued during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. There are also many more known instances of women scribes working in Europe, and more evidence for the existence of grammar schools for girls. For the latter, see e.g. Nicholas Orme, English Schools in the Middle Ages, pp. 54–5.

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England, even in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, is largely inconclusive. Indisputable examples of women’s hands, most often only signatures but sometimes more, are only found from the fifteenth century onwards.13 In a culture where the mechanical act of writing was considered a separate activity from that of reading, for women the two activities were often divorced to a still greater degree; while reading was considered a suitable activity for women of the upper classes, writing was a far less widespread skill.14 However, in such cases where women did learn to write, it would seem more likely that they would have written in a language which they could already speak and read than one of which they had a limited knowledge. Although reading was learned within a Latin framework, inherited from the Roman school system, up until the Reformation, those readers (such as women) not pursuing further study in the language would probably have moved to reading texts in the vernacular, leaving them with the ability to pronounce but not understand Latin.15 Similarly, although writing was learned within the same framework, it would seem likely that not all would have sufficient understanding of Latin to write in that language beyond copying out texts (as is suggested by the numerous examples of manuscripts where the scribe evidently did not understand what he was copying, suggesting that his mechanical writing skills exceeded his comprehension). One case of a woman writer in whose work this issue is specifically addressed is that of Bridget of Sweden (as discussed in Chapter 4), where the priests who wrote her Vita in the late fourteenth century recalled that ‘verba diuinitus ei data scribebat in lingua sua materna manu sua propria [...] et faciebat illa translatari in lingua latina fidelissime a nobis confessoribus suis’ (she wrote down with her own hand and in her own tongue the words divinely given to her; and she had them most faithfully translated into the Latin tongue by us, her confessors); though Bridget is believed to have had, in fact, some knowledge

13

See Veronica M. O’Mara, ‘Female Scribal Ability and Scribal Activity in Late Medieval England: The Evidence?’, Leeds Studies in English n.s. 27 (1996), pp. 87–130. O’Mara concludes that there is little evidence that most medieval English women could sign their names, let alone copy out lengthier texts. However, she suggests that the study of recipes written in flyleaves might be a fruitful area to study when assessing women’s writing capabilities. One late fifteenth-/early-sixteenthcentury woman scribe whom she does identify, in Lambeth Palace Library MS 546, is discussed in eadem, ‘A Middle English Text Written by a Female Scribe’, N&Q 37 (1990), pp. 396–8. 14 This was not solely a gender distinction, being true of many upper-class men as well, who employed secretaries rather than write themselves. However, there does seem to have been an additional implication that writing was less suitable for women than the more passive activity of reading; Geoffrey de la Tour-Landry’s book of instruction for his daughters (c. 1371–72) comments (in Caxton’s translation) that ‘as for wrytyng, it is no force yf a woman can nought of it but as for redynge I saye that good and prouffytable is to al wymen. For a women that can rede may better knowe the peryls of the sowle...’. The Book of the Knight of the Tower, Translated by William Caxton, ed. by M. T. Offord, EETS S.S. 2 (London: OUP, 1971), p. 122. 15 For a description of the way reading was learned in the Middle Ages, see Nicholas Orme, Medieval Children (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001), pp. 238–72, esp. pp. 247, 264–6, where the Latin framework is discussed.

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of Latin, it was apparently not sufficient for the task of composing her Revelaciones.16 Moving to an English example, her near-contemporary Julian of Norwich, despite presenting herself as ‘a simple creature unlettered’,17 may have had a similar level of ability, although there is no certain proof of this in her writings, and critical opinion is divided; Edmund Colledge and James Walsh argue that her literacy was advanced enough to have enabled her to write out her visions herself, and believe that ‘beyond any doubt […] Julian had received an exceptionally good grounding in Latin’,18 while Marion Glasscoe suggests that her Showings were dictated.19 The highest numbers of educated women were found in nunneries, and it is here that we are perhaps most likely to find translators; a religious house could potentially provide women with both the necessary education and the time in which to make translations. This, certainly, is where three, if not all four, of the known twelfth-century English translators worked, and women’s houses were the primary places where the formal education of women could take place (although those who 16

Vita, p. 85; ‘The Life of Blessed Birgitta’, Ch. 37. Bridget attended the Latin lessons of her sons, suggesting that she would have learned liturgical Latin and basic grammar; see Bridget Morris, St Birgitta of Sweden (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1999), p. 56. One could also cite the much earlier example of Hildegard of Bingen; although her level of Latin was, latterly, high enough to enable her to write in that language, she employed a series of scribes to add the correct cases, genders and tenses. The chroniclers William Godel and Alberic of Trois-Fontaines remarked that, despite understanding Scripture through divine inspiration, ‘non [...] interpretationem verborum textus eorum nec divisionem sillabarum nec cognitionem casuum aut temporum habebat; solum psalterium legere didicerat more nobilium puellarum’ (she had no understanding of the vocabulary of their texts, or ability to divide syllables, or knowledge of cases and tenses; she had only learned to read the Psalter, in the manner of upper-class girls). The chroniclers may well have exaggerated her lack of ability; however, this is still a plausible-sounding description of partial Latinity, particularly in the specification of the level of Latin common to ‘nobilium puellarum’. MGH, Chronica Albrici Monachi Trium Fontium, Scriptorium, 23, p. 834; trans. in Bella Millett, ‘English Recluses and the Development of Vernacular Literature’, in Meale, Women and Literature in Britain, pp. 86–103, at p. 90. 17 Julian of Norwich, A Revelation of Love, in The Writings of Julian of Norwich: A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and A Revelation of Love, ed. by Nicholas Watson and Jacqueline Jenkins (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. 2006), Ch. 2, p. 125. ‘Unlettered’ could mean both being unable to read Latin and, more generally, simply uneducated, and so is not necessarily a precise description of Julian’s ability; alternatively, it could also be understood as part of a modesty topos, or as Julian’s acknowledgement that she has not had a formal education. Watson and Jenkins also point out that the lack of reference to other books or teachers from whom Julian must have learned emphasises the ‘single burning fact of revelation’; the visions are presented as sent directly from God to Julian, in the manner of one of the most striking miniatures in the Bridget illumination scheme discussed in Chapter 4 (New York, Morgan Library, MS M. 498, fol. 4v), in which Christ and the Virgin, at the top of the image, send down beams of light directly to Bridget sitting at a desk at the bottom of the page, bypassing the crowds of assembled angels, saints and kings in the centre of the image. Watson and Jenkins, Writings, p. 7; MED, s.v. ‘unlettered’ (adj.). 18 Julian of Norwich, A Book of Showings to the Anchoress Julian of Norwich, ed. by Edmund Colledge and James Walsh, 2 vols (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1978), vol. I, pp. 43–59, at p. 44; see also Colledge and Walsh, ‘Editing Julian of Norwich’s Revelations: A Progress Report’, Mediaeval Studies 38 (1976), pp. 404–27. 19 Julian of Norwich, A Revelation of Love, ed. by Marion Glasscoe (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 1986, rev. 1993), p. xviii. See also Felicity Riddy, ‘“Women talking about the things of God”: A Late Medieval Sub-culture’, in Meale, Women and Literature in Britain, pp. 104–27, at pp. 112–13.

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benefited were small in number and invariably of noble birth); 20 the laywoman Eleanor Hull’s associations with Sopwell Priory and other Benedictine communities continues this trend in the fifteenth century.21 Although no English women’s house produced a detailed history of the house,22 and there are no literary works which can be assigned with certainty to English nuns other than the four already mentioned, there is evidence to suggest that other nuns were also able to write. There are, for instance, injunctions forbidding nuns from writing letters, which implies that their skills made this a possibility,23 and a colophon in one early-fifteenth-century manuscript belonging to a women’s Benedictine house which warns nuns not to write in the books assigned to them; again, this suggests that the women for whom the manuscript was intended were capable of writing.24 More pertinently for the purposes of this study, the high level of French in women’s houses, and their increasingly low levels of Latin, meant that, linguistically, nuns in later centuries would have been conveniently placed to carry out French > English translation, in a similar way to their Latinate twelfth-century predecessors. The previous chapter discussed the high levels of French, relative to the general population, preserved in religious houses; in nunneries, French was maintained as a spoken language for even longer than in male houses, although English was, no doubt, often used as well.25 Chaucer’s famous reference to his Prioress’ ability to speak French 20

Eileen Power’s study of nunneries, still the most thorough overview of convent life in medieval England, suggests that possibly as many as two-thirds of nunneries accepted child pupils – invariably girls from aristocratic families – based on samples of visitations in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. However, there are virtually no descriptions of what was actually taught; almost certainly reading, but it is unclear how frequently writing was learned. Medieval English Nunneries (Cambridge: CUP, 1922), p. 264. 21 In 1417 Eleanor was admitted to the confraternity of the Benedictine abbey of St Albans with her husband and son; by 1421 she was widowed, and appears to have divided her time between court and Sopwell Priory. Towards the end of her life she retired to the Benedictine nunnery at Cannington. Barratt, ‘The Translator at Work’, p. 277. 22 There are, however, some broad-brush histories or foundation legends from nunneries, such as the legend of the founding of Crabhouse nunnery in Norfolk, written in French in the manuscript known as the Crabhouse cartulary (London, British Library, MS Additional 4733), and the foundation legend of Godstow nunnery, also written in French, in the Godstow cartulary (Kew, National Archives, MS E164/20). See Rebecca June, ‘The Languages of Memory: The Crabhouse Nunnery Manuscript’, in Wogan-Browne, The French of England, pp. 347–58 (text and translation of foundation legend on p. 350); Emilie Amt (ed.) The Latin Cartulary of Godstow Abbey (Oxford: OUP, 2014), pp. xxv–xxviii. These cartularies incidentally confirm that French declined in favour of English in the fifteenth century; for instance, the translator of the English Register of Godstow Nunnery (c. 1450), describing himself as a ‘pore broder and welwyller’, states that he has made the English translation ‘that they myght haue, out of her latyn bokys, sum wrytynge in her modyr tonge, where-by they myht haue bettyr knowlyge of her munymentys’, without having to rely on ‘trewe lernyd men that all tymes be not redy hem to teche and counsayl’. The English Register of Godstow Nunnery, ed. by Andrew Clark, 3 vols, EETS O.S. 129, 130 and 142 (London: K. Paul , Trench, Trübner, 1905–11), vol. 1, p. 25. 23 See Power, Nunneries, p. 245. 24 MS Washington, Library of Congress MS Faye-Bond 4; this manuscript is discussed in further detail below. 25 See David N. Bell, What Nuns Read: Books and Libraries in Medieval English Nunneries (Kalamazoo, MI; Cistercian Publications, 1995), p.68; also M. Dominica Legge, ‘The French Language and the

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‘ful fair and fetisly’, which draws attention to her language skills as one of her leading characteristics in what is, in part, an archetypal portrait, suggests that such an ability may have been typical of – and indeed suitable for – such women.26 Indeed it seems that French was still maintained as an alternative vernacular in at least some convents up to the Dissolution. The most dramatic example of this is found in a report written on Lacock Abbey, following a visit by John Ap Rice four years before it was sold into private ownership under Henry VIII. Rice wrote to Thomas Cromwell in 1535, stating that ‘the Ladies have their rule, th’institutes of their religion and ceremonies of the same writen in the frenche tonge which they understand well and are very perfitt in the same, albeit that it varieth from the vulgare frenche that is nowe used, and is moche like the frenche that the common Lawe is writen in’.27 Clearly, at least some of the descendants of Chaucer’s Prioress perpetuated the French of Stratford-atte-Bowe. There is scattered evidence that Latin was taught at more English nunneries than one might expect, particularly before the rise of the universities but well into the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.28 A relatively low-level, passive understanding of Latin was, of course, necessary for understanding the liturgy and for reading liturgical lessons; however, in some houses the level of instruction in the language was much higher. Barking Abbey had both pre- and post-Conquest traditions of Latinity,29 and William of Malmesbury’s De Gestis Regum Anglorum describes how Matilda, the first wife of Henry I, was trained in littera at Romsey and Wilton, for instance.30 Much later in the medieval period, there are references to Latin tutors being employed for particular nuns; in 1481, for instance, a sister Jane Fisher of Dartford Priory was granted permission to have a preceptor in grammar and Latin, and there is evidence that a number of other students, both nuns and children of the local gentry (both girls and boys) also benefited from his lessons.31 It would appear that Eleanor Hull also understood Latin as well as French, as the Latin phrases she uses are invariably translated or paraphrased in English immediately afterwards, and, English Cloister’, in Medieval Studies Presented to Rose Graham, ed. by V. Ruffer and A. J. Taylor (Oxford: OUP, 1950), pp. 146–62. 26 Cf. Rothwell, ‘Stratford-atte-Bowe Revisited’, which discusses the Prioress’ French in terms of the insular French maintained in religious houses. 27 Letter dated 23rd or 24th August 1535. Cited in Bell, What Nuns Read, pp. 68, 147. 28 For a longer discussion of the effect of the founding of the universities on women’s education, see Ferrante, ‘The Education of Women’, pp. 17–18. 29 In the seventh century, Aldhelm addressed his prose De Virginitate to Abbess Hildelith and her nuns, and evidently expected them to appreciate the finer points of his style, discussing the Latin metrics of his future poetic version, remarking that ‘I shall not strive to weary myself with these laborious tasks […] unless I find out that the style of the preceding work was pleasing to your intelligence’. Aldhelm: The Prose Works, trans. by Michael Lapidge and Michael Herren (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1979), pp. 30–1. 30 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Anglorum, vol. I, V. 418. 2, pp. 754–5. 31 William Page, ed., The Victoria History of the County of Kent, 3 vols (Folkstone: Dawsons for the University of London Institute of Historical Research, 1908–32), vol. 2, p. 187. For a fuller discussion of the relative levels of French and Latin in nunneries, see also Bell, What Nuns Read, pp. 63–79; for further examples of convents where Latin was taught, see ibid., pp. 65–6.

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where necessary, carefully integrated into the grammatical structure of her writing (although there is no evidence as to where she acquired her Latin, her association with Sopwell makes it possible that she may have learned it there).32 However, such late instances were rare; as advanced training in Latin moved increasingly out of the cloister and into the university college, the use of Latin in English nunneries appears to have decreased correspondingly.33 So far in this chapter I have explored translation principally within a written framework, and assumed a model in which a translation would be made by a single individual. However, as discussed in Chapter 4, it is possible to be involved in composition or translation without writing oneself. The inability to write did not preclude composition by women, as is demonstrated by the evidence of Margery Kempe, the Paston women and numerous other women correspondents who employed scribes.34 Moreover, the use of an amanuensis could allow women to participate in translation activity using the languages they knew without writing themselves. A collaborative act of translation involving oral transmission is explicitly described in Bridget of Sweden’s Revelaciones, where Bridget and her confessors are described as working together to transmit her visions from Swedish into Latin.35 Although we are told that Bridget usually wrote down her visions in her native Swedish, with her confessors subsequently translating them into Latin, her Vita also reveals that ‘Si vero erat infirma […] referebat ei verba illa in uulgari suo […] quasi si legeret in libro, et tunc confessor dicebat illa verba in lingua latina illi scriptori, et ille scribebat illa ibidem in sua presencia’ (But when she was too weak […] she spoke the words in her native language […] as if she were reading from a book; and then the confessor dictated these words in Latin to the scribe, and he wrote them down there in her presence).36 32

A short example from the beginning of her commentary on the psalms gives a flavour of her translation of Latin: ‘And now hit ys syttyng that ye know what psalme ys to mene. Spalme, as the scripture seythe, ys himme: Himnus est laus dei cum cantico. […] “Hymnus”, he seythe, “ys preysyng of God with songe”’. Ed. by Barratt, p. 3. 33 One rough guide to the decreasing level of Latinity can be found in the languages used for Episcopal injunctions. Until around 1300, bishops could send injunctions to nunneries in Latin; after this date, they found it increasingly necessary to make arrangements for it to be read in French, and, later, in English. For instance, Bishop Thomas Cantilupe of Hereford wrote to the nuns of Lymbrook in Latin in 1277, but with directions for it to be ‘expounded to you ... in the French or English tongue, whichever you know best’. Thomas Cantilupe, Registrum Thome de Cantilupo..., transcribed by the Rev. R. G. Griffiths, with an introduction by the Rev. W. W. Capes, 2 vols (London: Canterbury and York Society, 1906–7), p. 202. It is, of course, possible that ignorance of Latin injunctions could have been conveniently assumed, as it sometimes was in male houses. However, a genuine lack of Latinity is more credible in a women’s house, and these injunctions can be taken as a rough guideline to the linguistic changeovers from Latin to French to English in female religious communities. For further examples of injunctions and the languages in which they were written, see Power, Nunneries, pp. 247–51. 34 For a consideration of the ways in which women’s writing may have been produced, see e.g. Julia Boffey, ‘Women Authors and Women’s Literacy in Fourteenth- and Fifteenth-Century England’, in Meale, Women and Literature in Britain, pp. 159–82. 35 See discussion in Chapter 4. 36 Text and translation in Morris, St Birgitta of Sweden, pp. 3–5.

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Turning to a Middle English example, Margery Kempe – who explicitly presents Bridget as an inspiration, perhaps even as an auctor37 – also reveals a considerable preoccupation with transmission and translation in her book, describing her priest’s difficulties in making sense of the ‘evel wryten’ English–German hybrid of her first amanuensis.38 In the same way that Bridget’s confessors translate her Swedish into Latin, Margery also takes part in an act of vernacular > Latin simultaneous translation with her confessor in Chapter 40, in which her ‘Duche preste’, despite not knowing English, is able to retell her ‘story of Holy Writte […] in Latyn [in] the same wordys that sche had seyd beforn in Englisch’ (p.  207).39 Although in both these instances it is the male amanuenses who have knowledge of more than one language and are thus carrying out the linguistic translation, one could equally imagine a scenario in which a woman who spoke more than one language but was unable to write could assist with translation orally, with an amanuensis then recording the version in the target language. The discussion thus far suggests that at least some English women, mainly nuns but also, to a lesser extent, educated laywomen, could have possessed both the linguistic and writing skills which would have enabled them to carry out translations into English. We have also seen instances of women participating in translational activity without writing themselves. In the late thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the lesser availability of Latin to women may have made it more likely that women’s literary, and translational, activity would have been more closely confined to English and French. I will now consider what such translational activity may have looked like and how it might have been perceived by the translators themselves.

‘Se femme l’ad si transaté’: The Evidence of the T welfth-Century Women Transl ator s

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lthough Eleanor Hull in the fifteenth century wrote no translator’s prologue of her own, the four known twelfth-century women translators all supplied their work with prologues and epilogues, which identified (or in one case deliberately obscured) themselves and offered reasons for making the translations. Such writings offer vital clues as to how translators understood the task at hand, and the extent to which they saw themselves as working within (or beginning) a particular tradition. In the case of women translators working within a predominantly male tradition, such questions are often of particular interest from a modern critical perspective.40 Whilst a lack of female auctores and the undeniable fact that men were

37

The question of women auctores is discussed below. Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe, ed. by Barry Windeatt (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2004), Proem (longer second version), p. 47. All references are to this edition. 39 The Book of Margery Kempe, Ch. 40, p. 207. 40 For a discussion of changing attitudes towards women and translation over the last twenty years, see Luise von Flotow, ‘Preface’, in Translating Women, ed. by Flotow (Ottawa: University of Ottawa 38

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more privileged within medieval intellectual traditions means that the possibility of differences between male and female approaches to writing should by no means be ignored, one should be wary of identifying particular ‘male’ or ‘female’ traits in a text, particularly when, as shall be seen, gender is not particularly taken into consideration by the medieval translators themselves. Rather, the ‘invisibility’ of these women provides a potential model for later women translators; paradoxically, any ‘women’s tradition’ of translation may be expressed as an absence of this. This would certainly seem to be the case with the twelfth-century women translators – named in their prologues and epilogues as Clemence of Barking, an anonymous nun of Barking, another nun named Marie and Marie de France – who translated religious works from Latin into French, with Marie de France also describing herself as translating from English and using sources ultimately taken from Breton in her secular works. Clemence produced a Life of St Catherine of Alexandria, the nun of Barking a Life of Edward the Confessor, Marie a Life of St Audrey (Etheldreda) of Ely and Marie de France a translation of H. of Saltry’s Tractatus de Purgatorio S. Patricii, along with her Fables and her Lais.41 Except for the question of naming, both Clemence and the anonymous nun of Barking discuss translation in similar ways: confidently, with a keen awareness of language and of the position of their translations and their roles as translators within the larger hagiographic tradition.42 The nun of Barking’s refusal to name herself is, as noted in Chapter 4, not a gender-related decision; rather than timidity on the part of a female translator uneasy about adopting a conventionally male role, the nun’s stance is more ancillary (in a strict and etymological sense of the term) than apologetic. Even her suggestion that her work may be held in contempt ‘Se femme l’ad si transaté’ should be Press, 2011), pp. 1–10. The extent to which men and women use language differently is still a topic which causes some controversy; see, for instance, Deborah Cameron, The Myth of Mars and Venus: Do Men and Women Really Speak Different Languages? (Oxford: OUP, 2007). 41 The number of translators is not beyond dispute; it has been suggested that Clemence of Barking may also have been responsible for the work of the anonymous nun, and that Marie de France and the nun Marie are the same person; see William MacBain, ‘The Literary Apprenticeship of Clemence of Barking, AUMLA 9 (1958), pp. 3–22; June Hall McCash, ‘La Vie seinte Audree: a Fourth Text by Marie de France’, Speculum 77 (2002), pp.  744–77. McCash’s edition of the Vie Seinte Audree also assumes Marie de France’s authorship: June Hall McCash and Judith Clark Barban, eds, The Life of Saint Audrey: A Text by Marie de France ( Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006). However, these theories are by no means conclusive; Wogan-Browne believes that the language of the Seinte Audrée is of too late a date to have been written by Marie de France; see ‘Wreaths of Thyme: The Female Translator in Anglo-Norman Hagiography’, in The Medieval Translator, vol. 4, ed. by Roger Ellis and Ruth Evans (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 1994), pp. 46–65, at p. 57. For the purposes of this study I shall treat the translations separately rather than attempting to make any authorial connections between them. 42 See The Life of St. Catherine by Clemence of Barking, ed. by William MacBain (Oxford: ANTS, 1964), lines 1–50, 2689–92; La Vie d’Edouard le confesseur, ed. by Östen Södergård (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiskells, 1948), lines 1–68, 5296–35 (this last is a prologue-type passage appearing midway through the poem); La Vie Seinte Audree: Poème Anglo-Normand du XIIIe siècle, ed. by Södergård (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiskells, 1955), lines 4606–20. I have not quoted these prologues and epilogues at length here; however, there is a detailed discussion of these in Wogan-Browne, ‘Wreaths of Thyme’, with whose conclusions I agree.

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read within the context of her role as ‘une ancele al dulz Jhesu Crist’ whose name is irrelevant in comparison with that of St Edward.43 Although the nun Marie provides less information about herself and her work than the others, her declaration that she is declaring her name ‘Pur ce ke soie remembree’, at a time when not providing one’s name was an equal possibility, also suggests a certain authorial confidence.44 In her study of the translating strategies of Clemence, the anonymous nun and Marie, Jocelyn Wogan-Browne has commented that ‘I would [...] be wary of claiming their work as a separate and distinctively female school of hagiographic translation. Their works constitute not a disruption of the genre’s assumptions and conventions, but rather a series of unconsolidatable extensions of them.’45 WoganBrowne’s reading is sound; while the gender of these writers means that they cannot present themselves straightforwardly as clerical translators, they ‘extend ... the narrative stance of the “cleric without clerisy”’ which Wogan-Browne identifies in the prologue to the male-authored Vie de Clement ‘to the gender without clerisy’.46 Whilst the very act of writing hagiography may imply that these women are attempting to carve out a place for themselves within a hagiographic tradition dominated by male writers, there is no suggestion anywhere in their work itself that the fact that they are women is relevant to the task at hand. The prologues of Marie de France, which are from genres other than hagiography, adopt a very similar stance; the usual clerical translator figure is expanded to include a cleric-type figure who just happens to be a woman. If a particularly gender-conscious method of translation was being employed anywhere in twelfth-century England, one might, perhaps, expect to find it in the prologues and epilogues of Marie de France. Marie is the most forthcoming of all four of these women translators on the subject of translation and authorship, naming herself in all three of the works which have been attributed to her. A number of studies have been carried out on Marie’s role as a woman writer, some of which suggest that Marie deliberately fashioned herself as a writing woman within a male-dominated literary sphere, not only in her choice of subject matter but in her poetics.47 Whilst it would certainly seem true that Marie’s work, particularly her lais, frequently contains stories about women told from a feminine perspective, it does 43

This is also Wogan-Browne’s position; see ‘Wreaths of Thyme’, p. 51. See also see William MacBain, ‘Anglo-Norman Woman Hagiographers’, in Anglo-Norman Anniversary Essays, ed. by Ian Short (London: ANTS, 1993), pp. 235–50, at pp. 239–40. 44 Vie Seinte Audrée, line 4625. 45 Wogan-Browne, ‘Wreaths of Thyme’, p. 54. 46 Ibid., pp. 50–1. 47 See e.g. Michelle A. Freeman, ‘Marie de France’s Poetics of Silence: The Implications of a Feminine Translatio’, PMLA 99 (1984), pp. 860–83; Saher Amer, ‘Marie de France Rewrites Genesis: The Image of Woman in Marie de France’s Fables’, Neophilologus 81 (1997), pp. 489–99, who suggests that Marie signs her Fables ‘as her claim to responsible teaching’, and links this in part with her criticism of antifeminist writing in fable 53 (p. 497). For an earlier study which takes a rather more simplistic view of Marie’s ‘endearing […] feminine attitude and style’ in her writing, see W. S. Woods, ‘Femininity in the Lais of Marie de France’, Studies in Philology XLVII (1950), pp. 1–19, at p. 1.

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not necessarily follow that her method of writing and translating was imbued with the same deliberate awareness. In her rejection of the idea, raised in the general prologue to her lais, that she might translate a Latin ‘bone estoire’, instead turning to ‘lais. […] qu’oïz aveie’ (lais [...] I had heard), Marie makes a clear departure from the Latin written tradition in her choice of source; as this has historically been associated with ‘masculine’ intellectual culture, it is arguably possible to read Marie’s favouring of oral, vernacular sources as a specifically ‘feminine’ decision. This is the view taken by Michelle A. Freeman, who has suggested that in eschewing the Latin tradition Marie creates ‘an alternative lineage – a translatio of a feminine sort’.48 Whilst a particularly feminine perspective may be discernible when, as Freeman does, the Lais are taken into account in their entirety, I am not convinced that Marie goes out of her way to create ‘a clearly feminine sort of lineage’ in her prologue, unless this is understood in the very broad sense of the associations between women and the vernacular described above.49 She does not present her choice of source as a gender-motivated decision; moreover, no female auctores are mentioned, nor are there any resolutions to redress the gender balance in literature along the lines of a Christine de Pizan. It does not seem that Breton lays were considered ‘feminine’ in any wider sense; while the Bretons credited with composing the original stories are usually alluded to in somewhat shadowy, faceless terms,50 it seems likely that they would have been imagined as men (indeed Marie herself refers to the Bretons as ‘noble barun [qui] fere[nt] les lais pur remembrance’ in the prologue to Equitan).51 Compare this with the authorial stance in the much later prologues of Christine de Pizan, who could be described as creating ‘a translatio of a feminine sort’ with far greater accuracy in her engagement with, and correction of, earlier works on women. Whilst the fact that Christine was writing over two hundred years later and in (so far as we know) very different circumstances means that one should be wary of making too direct a comparison, it is nevertheless instructive to consider what a truly gender-conscious prologue does look like. In her prologue to Le Livre de la cité des dames (1405), for instance, Christine explicitly rejects the authority of ’tant de divers hommes, clercs et autres [qui] ont esté, et sont, sy enolins a dire de bouche et en leur traittiez et escrips tant de diableries et de vituperes de femmes et de leurs condicions’ (so many men, both clerks and others, [who] have said and continue to say and write such awful damning things about women and their ways), framing the conflict she describes specifically along gender lines. Christine also adapts and 48

Freeman, ‘Marie de France’s Poetics of Silence’, p. 866. Ibid., p. 878. 50 See e.g. the praise of Breton storytellers in the Anglo-Norman Romance of Horn, in which Horn gives a bravura performance on the harp, ‘Si cum sunt cil bretun d’itiel fait costumier’ (just like the Bretons, who are versed in such performances). The Romance of Horn by Thomas, ed. by Mildred K. Pope (London: ANTS, 1955), line 2841; trans. by Judith Weiss, The Romance of Horn, in The Birth of Romance: An Anthology (London: Everyman, 1992), p. 66. 51 Equitan, lines 1–8. 49

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subverts standard prologue motifs in other gender-specific ways. She embraces the writer-in-his-study motif, of the kind perpetuated by Caxton, in the opening lines of her prologue: ‘un jour comme je fusse seent en ma celle avironee de plusieurs volumes de diverses mateires […] entre mains me vint d’aventure un livre estrange’ (One day, I was sitting in my study surrounded by many books of different kinds […] I happened to chance upon a strange book). However, she then emphasises its difference from other works, namely its woman-friendly subject matter – ‘Lors en soubriant, pour ce que […] maintes fois ouy dire avoye qu’entre les autres livres, celluy parloit bien des femmes’ (With a smile I made my choice […] unlike many other works, this one was said to be written in praise of women) – before undercutting her scholarly seriousness with the slightly bathetic domestic detail that ‘regardé ne l’oz moult long espace quant je fue appellé[e] de la bonne mere qui me porta pour prendre la reffection de soupper’ (I had scarcely begun to read it when my dear mother called me down to supper).52 Compared with this, Marie de France’s decision to write something other than ‘itant s’en sunt altre entremis’ (doing that which others have already done) simply positions her as a translator working independently of the dominant tradition, thus presenting herself as an independent-minded individual, regardless of gender. This argument is strengthened by an examination of Marie’s authorial position in her other works. In the prologue to the Espurgatoire Saint Patriz, she adopts a quite different translation strategy, fully embracing her Latin source. She presents herself as a conduit through which H. of Saltry’s Latin text may pass, appropriating his narrative persona by assimilating the call which he received to write the Tractatus, declaring that ‘Uns prosdom m’ad peça requise [...] dirai ço ke j[o]’en ai oï’ (a holy man requested this of me [...] I will say what I heard).53 Whilst this could also be seen to be acting as an additional justification for a woman translating the work of a male author (i.e. the closer she adheres to his original, the more protection he can afford her), it would be forced to say that this is happening here. As we saw in Chapter 4, this in itself is not an exclusively female stance; other medieval writers have been known to appropriate autobiographical details from the prologues of their source texts in order to elevate their own personae.54 There is likewise nothing markedly ‘feminine’ about her defending her work against future plagiarists in the epilogue to her Fables, where she declares with energetic determination that no clerk should be given the credit for her work: Al finement de cest escrit, qu’en Romanz ai traité e dit, 52

Christine de Pizan, ‘The Livre de la cité des dames of Christine de Pisan: A critical edition’, ed. by Maureen Cheney Curnow (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Vanderbilt University, 1975), pp. 616–17; English translation based on that in The Book of the City of Ladies, trans. with an introduction by Rosalind Brown-Grant (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1999), pp. 5–6. 53 Ibid., lines 9, 15. 54 Cf. Spitzer, ‘Note on the Empirical and Poetic “I”’, discussed in Chapter 4.

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me numerai pur remembrance: Marie ai num, si sui de France. Puet cel estre, cil clerc plusur prendreient sur els mun labur: ne vueil que nuls sur lui le die; cil uevre mal ki sei ublie. [At the conclusion of this work, which I have written and narrated in French, I shall name myself for posterity: Marie is my name, and I am from France. It may be that many writers will claim my work as their own, but I want no one else to attribute it to himself. Who falls into oblivion does a poor job.]55 In her specific reference to the thieving ‘clerc plusur’, Marie does suggest the image of a (necessarily male, since clerks were men) writer taking her work for himself. It is true that women writers were genuinely more likely to have their names suppressed and their work appropriated by later, male writers; opponents of Christine de Pizan did, in fact, claim that clerks had forged her works, and in later versions of the Trotula, the medical textbook traditionally claimed to have been written by Trotula, a twelfth-century midwife, there was a conscious effort to excise its associations with a female auctor.56 It is possible, although many other factors may have been involved, that the failure of the name of Marie de France to have survived in any of the European translations of the lais or fables may be at least partly due to her having been a woman. In the light of this wider context, it is possible that Marie’s words may have been intended to carry an additional element of gender-related defensiveness. However, this sense is not present in the text of the prologue itself. Plagiarism was an occupational hazard for any writer, male or female; the naming-of-the authors passage in the Roman de la Rose, where Amour promises that the renown of Guillaume and Jean will ‘fleüstera [...] Selonc le langage de France’ along with the story itself, surely points to a similar anxiety.57 It seems more likely that Marie is here positioning herself as a clerk amongst clerks, as eager to defend her name as any male writer, or indeed as any writer. Marie’s own apparently gender-neutral stance as a writer and translator is reflected in her subsequent portrayal by manuscript illuminators. She is one of the

55

Text and translation in Marie de France, The Fables of Marie de France: An English Translation, trans. by Mary Lou Martin, with a foreword by Norris J. Lacy (Birmingham, AL: Summa Publications, Inc., 1984), pp. 252–3. 56 For Christine, see Jane Chance, ‘Gender Subversion and Linguistic Castration in Fifteenth-Century English Translations of Christine de Pizan’, in Violence against Women in Medieval Texts, ed. by Anna Roberts (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1998), pp. 161–94. For male appropriations of the Trotula, see Monica Green, Making Women’s Medicine Masculine, especially Chapter 2, ‘Men’s Practice of Women’s Medicine in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries’, pp.70–117, and Chapter 5, ‘Slander and the Secrets of Women’, pp.204–45. The Trotula is discussed in further detail in Chapter 7. 57 Le Roman de la Rose, line 10645.

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few medieval woman writers – and one of the earliest58 – to be depicted in illuminated manuscripts; images of women before 1400 are particularly scarce, so the four existing author portraits of Marie provide valuable evidence of how women writers may have been seen within the larger context of the iconography of (male) writers examined in Chapter 4.59 The inclusion here of a brief discussion of these images lends support to my argument that there was no particular differentiation of women writers, or translators, unless the writers themselves chose to make this the case (as is evidently true of Christine de Pizan in London, British Library, MS Harley 4431, whose production she supervised, and in which the images of her, always in the same blue dress, sometimes accompanied by a small white dog, are clearly meant to represent an individual).60 Due to the small number of images, there is merely an illusion that individuals are being depicted; we ‘know’ the portraits of Marie show the writer in question because they could not be anyone else, but there is no reason to suppose that they are any less generic than, say, the portrait of Laȝamon in MS Cotton Caligula IX.61 Four portraits of Marie have survived in three manuscripts of the Fables (none of the copies of the Lais or the Espurgatoire are illustrated). Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS Fr. 2173, a manuscript of probable Italian provenance (c. 1250–75) contains portraits of Æsop [Fig. 19] and Marie [Fig. 20], which bookend the fables at the prologue and epilogue respectively. In Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS Arsenal 3142, a lavishly illuminated miscellany of French poetry from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, probably made in Paris around 1300 for Marie of Brabant, Marie is depicted twice: first writing at a desk in a separate miniature at the top of the page [Fig. 20], above and larger than the illuminated initial ‘C’ which begins the prologue [Fig. 21], and secondly inside the initial ‘A’ of the epilogue [Fig. 22]. In Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS Fr. 1446, which dates from the early fourteenth century, the illuminator has depicted Marie writing at a desk inside an initial ‘F’, beginning a preface to Marie’s actual prologue in which 58

The earliest manuscript depicting Marie is Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS Fr. 2173, which has been dated to c. 1250–75; the images of Hildegarde von Bingen contained in the beautifully illuminated copy of the Liber divinorum operum in Lucca, Biblioteca Statale, MS 1942, may be of a similar, or even earlier, date. For the images of Hildegarde see Katrin Graf, ‘Les portraits d’auteur de Hildegarde de Bingen: une étude iconographique’, Scriptorium 55 (2001), pp. 179–96. 59 For an inventory and discussion of pre-1400 images, see Smith, ‘Scriba, Femina’; there is also a fulllength study of woman scribes, illuminators and authors, including their depiction in manuscripts, in Katrin Graf, Bildnisse schriebender Frauen im Mittelalter: 9. bis 13. Jahrhundert (Basel: Schwabe, 2002). 60 For further discussion of the production of Harley 4431, see a recent research project based at the University of Edinburgh, Christine de Pizan: The Making of the Queen’s Manuscript (London, British Library, Harley MS 4431), by James Laidlaw and others (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Library, 2010) available online at [accessed 24 November 2015]. 61 The images of Marie can be compared with those of Bridget of Sweden, discussed in Chapter 4, which show the hierarchy of transmission involved in the production of her book; these are likewise free from any gender-based hierarchy or indeed any differentiation of Bridget as a woman apart from her costume.

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Fig. 19 Æsop writing, at the prologue of Fig. 20 Marie de France writing, the Fables. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale at the epilogue of the Fables. Paris, de France, MS Fr. 2173, fol. 58r. Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Fr. 2173, fol. 93r.

Fig. 21 Marie de France writing, at the prologue of the Fables. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Arsenal 3142, fol. 256r.

Fig. 22 Marie de France reading with book chest in front of her. Initial ‘A’, beginning the epilogue to the Fables. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Arsenal 3142, fol. 273r.

the scribe declares ‘Ai mis et met de raconteur | Chose, par coi en pris monter, | On porrait, a bon entender. | Or entendés pour diu, seigneur, | Coment Marie nos traita | Des prouierbes, q’uele trova | d’Isopet, dont desus a dit. | Si entendes com ele dit!’ (I have given my care and thoughts to inscribing something by which, with good attention, one will be able to rise in worth. Now learn for yourself, my lord, how Marie transmitted some proverbs of Æsop to us, which she discovered, which are

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written below. Now listen to what she says!).62 In none of these does Marie seem to be differentiated as a woman writer, save in her mode of dress; she appears in generic form in pose, desk and authoritative position either above the text (in the Arsenal manuscript) or in capitals (in the Arsenal and Fr. 1446 manuscripts, where the scribe’s words of praise confer additional authority upon Marie). This point is underlined by the Arsenal manuscript, which contains several other author portraits of male authors presented in identical fashion.63 The portraits of Æsop and Marie in the earliest manuscript, Fr. 2173, are particularly interesting for the purposes of this study in that they appear to offer an image of the translation process which has taken place in the creation of the text. Æsop is presented in a formal author portrait, sitting at a desk inside the letter ‘C’ which begins the prologue, whereas a much smaller picture of Marie at her desk is given in the middle of the text, without any separating border, above the epilogue.64 It seems clear, as Sandra Hindman has argued, that the two images are intended to be viewed as a pair; both writers are responsible for the construction of the text, Æsop at the beginning, before it is translated, and Marie at the end, when the French work is complete.65 Like the nun of Barking’s positioning herself as ‘Une ancele al dulz Jhesu Crist’, however, Marie’s lesser position does not seem in any way related to her gender. Hindman has suggested that, in depicting Æsop as a clerk in the initial ‘C’, the illuminator has made him into a representative of the ‘clerc plusur’ who might wish to claim her work as their own, with Marie’s own appearance at the end of the text being a triumphant safeguard against this.66 However, such a reading seems somewhat forced; there is nothing in the picture of Marie which suggests such an overt admonishment. Rather, it appears that the portraits should most properly be read as an image of the hierarchical nature of the relationship between Marie and Æsop, both as later writer paying homage to an illustrious auctor and as a translator acknowledging her ancillary position relative to her source. In both word and image, then, Marie de France seems to be presented as a writer first and foremost, with nothing specifically feminine about her work apart from her name. This tallies with what we have seen in the writings of Clemence, Marie and the anonymous nun. It may well be that, for these particular women, who were obviously Latinate, and of high social position, there was no need to make any such distinctions; their learning and status provided them with the confidence they 62

Text and translation in Marjorie M. Malvern, ‘Marie de France’s Ingenious Uses of the Authorial Voice and Her Singular Contribution to Western Literature’, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 2 (1983), pp. 21–41, at p. 29. 63 See e.g. the image of Alart de Cambrai writing at his lectern at the beginning of his Moralités des philosophes on fol. 141r, which is extremely similar to the image of Marie. This is reproduced in Sandra Hindman, ‘Æsop’s Cock and Marie’s Hen: Gendered Authorship in Text and Image in Manuscripts of Marie de France’s Fables’, in Lesley Smith and Jane H. M. Taylor, Women and the Book: Assessing the Visual Evidence (London: British Library, 1997), pp. 45–56, at p. 50. 64 Both images are reproduced in Hindman, ‘Æsop’s Cock’, p. 47. 65 Hindman, ‘Æsop’s Cock’, esp. pp. 46–9. 66 Ibid., p. 48.

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needed to make their translations without their gender being an issue. In particular, Barking Abbey was a wealthy and aristocratic establishment, long noted for its learning.67 Chatteris and Canonsleigh, the alternative houses posited for the nun Marie, were less wealthy but still aristocratic, and anyone capable of translating the Vie Saint Audree was undoubtedly well educated.68 Marie de France’s identity has long been debated, but it is generally agreed that she was from an aristocratic or even royal background.69 However, generalised class-based assumptions, such as genderbased ones, should be avoided; even within the small section of texts discussed here, the evidence suggests that individual woman translators differed from, or complied with, clerical conventions to the same degree as their male colleagues, and it certainly does not seem possible to work out whether or not a text was translated by a woman based on attitudes expressed in prologues or elsewhere; the sole indication is in the name (or profession) of the translator provided. Wogan-Browne has suggested that more anonymous Anglo-Norman hagiographies could have been written by women, and the idea of more convents possessing translators such as Clemence is tantalising, if unprovable.70 If this is indeed the case, it is surely possible that the same could be said for their counterparts within the women’s houses of later medieval England.

Continuit y and Tradition?

E

stablishing any kind of continuity in women’s literary activities in England – particularly those involving translation – between the time of the twelfth-century women translators and the later Middle Ages is problematic. The texts translated by these women circulated well beyond their original places of composition; the anonymous nun’s Life of Edward reaches out confidently to ‘toz les oianz | Ki mais orrunt’ (all the hearers who will ever hear this), and indeed her text was read in both male and female houses and reworked in continental France for the counts of Saint-Pol.71 Clemence’s translation is extant in three manuscripts with dates ranging from c. 1200 to the late thirteenth century, again suggesting that her work enjoyed some popularity.72 The latest of these, London, British Library, MS Add. 70513 (olim Welbeck I C 1), which also contains the unique copy of the nun

67

See Jane Stevenson, ‘Anglo-Latin Women Poets’, Latin Learning and English Lore, 2 vols (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), vol. 2, pp. 86–107. 68 Wogan-Browne has suggested that she could have been resident in Chatteris, Barking or Canonsleigh. See ‘Re-routing the Dower: The Anglo-Norman Life of St Etheldreda by Marie [?of Chatteris]’, in Power of the Weak: Studies on Medieval Women, ed. by Jennifer Carpenter and Sally-Beth MacLean (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1995), pp. 47–50. 69 For a summary of the various identities suggested for Marie de France, from the half-sister of Henry II and Abbess of Shaftesbury to the daughter of the Norman count Galeran de Meulan, see Jill Mann, ‘Appendix 1: Suggested Identifications of Marie de France’, in From Aesop to Reynard: Beast Literature in Medieval Britain (Oxford: OUP, 2009), pp. 309–11. 70 Wogan-Browne, ‘Wreaths of Thyme’, p. 55. 71 See Wogan-Browne, ‘“Clerc u lai, muïne u dame”’, p. 62. 72 For a description of these manuscripts, see MacBain, The Life of St Catherine, pp. xv–xx.

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Marie’s translation, is a large thirteenth – and early-fourteenth-century collection of saints’ lives belonging to the nunnery of Campsey, where an inscription on fol. 265v declares that it was for reading out at mealtimes (‘lire a mengier’), revealing that these translations were heard by later generations of nuns. However, there is no evidence that they inspired the nuns of Campsey or anywhere else to create further translations in turn (and indeed the epilogue in which Clemence names herself is omitted in this manuscript).73 More surprisingly, despite her work’s evident popularity there is no evidence that the name of Marie de France was known to later generations. Although her work circulated in some thirty manuscripts, some made for wealthy patrons, with the lais translated into English and Old Norse, and the fables into Italian, she is not mentioned in the Middle English translations of Lanval and Le Fresne or in the Old Norse Strengleikar, nor is her name linked with any other of the ‘Breton lais’ circulating in fourteenth-century English.74 Even outside the relatively narrow field of translation, there was no real tradition of female auctores for women writers to acknowledge. There is no instance of, say, Julian of Norwich citing any earlier women authors in her Showings; even Christine de Pizan had to recourse to the allegorical pseudo-auctores of Raison, Droitture and Justice rather than being able to gain support from historical female figures. Looking to fictional female narrators, the Wife of Bath mentions Trotula and Cleopatra in her prologue, but these are only quick name-checks from Jankyn’s Book of Wicked Wives rather than deliberated references to female auctores, and her rejection of ‘auctorite’ in favour of ‘experience’ may owe something to the fact that the only authors she knows are men. One assumes that she (or, rather, Chaucer) had never heard of Marie de France; this would otherwise have seemed an obvious woman’s name to cite in her spirited retelling of a Breton lay. An intriguing exceptional case can perhaps be made for The Book of Margery Kempe, which channels a more female literary tradition, referencing both Julian of Norwich and Bridget of Sweden. Moreover, as noted earlier in this chapter, Margery’s prologues also address issues relating to transmission and translation. Margery’s record in Chapter 18 of her interview with Julian of Norwich is a fascinating account of a meeting between two English woman writers of the fifteenth century. Even though it would be stretching a point to suggest that Margery subsequently uses Julian as an auctor in her own book, and Margery does not specifically emphasise any kinship between them on account of gender, she would certainly seem to gain spiritual support from this woman-to-woman ‘holy dalyawns that the ankres and this creatur haddyn be comownyng in the lofe of owyr Lord Jhesu Crist many 73

For a brief description of this manuscript see Södergård, Le Vie Seinte Audrée, pp.  37–8; also MacBain, The Life of St Catherine, pp. xvii–xviii; for a fuller description, see S. Arthur Strong, A Catalogue of Letters and Other Historical Documents Exhibited in the Library at Welbeck (London: John Murray, 1903), pp. 5–8 74 For the Old Norse translations, see Chapter 3 in this book, note 90; for the Italian translations, see Paola Cifarelli, ‘La Fortune de Marie de France en Italie aux XIVe et XVe Siècles’, Reinardus 19 (2006), pp. 53–73.

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days that thei were togedyr’.75 A more significant model – and, arguably, auctor – for Margery is Bridget of Sweden.76 Margery draws a clear parallel between her own situation and that of Bridget; in Chapter 20, after having been read ‘Bridis boke’, the Revelaciones of Bridget of Sweden, she is told by Christ that ‘rygth as I spak to Seynt Bryde, ryte so I speke to the, dowtyr’.77 In Chapter 39 she actually speaks to ‘Seynt Brydys mayden’ when she visits Rome, and follows, quite literally, in Bridget’s footsteps, self-consciously echoing her movements in ‘knely[ng] on the ston on the which owr Lord aperyd to Seynt Brigypte’.78 Further to the kinship Margery evidently feels with Bridget, the way in which the two women used the vernacular makes for an additional connection. While Margery does not explicitly draw a parallel between Bridget’s linguistic position of vernacular intermediary between God and Latinate priests and her own situation, and it is not clear whether she would have known about the Swedish > Latin translation involved in ‘Bridis boke’, her down-to-earth conception of Bridget as ‘homly and goodly to alle creatures’ with ‘a lawhyng cher’, and her assertion that Christ spoke to Bridget ‘ryte so I speke to the’ suggests that she may well have imagined Bridget using the vernacular in the same way that she herself did. However, as has already been suggested by the twelfth-century women translators themselves, a self-described ‘women’s tradition’ is not necessary in order for translation by women to take place. It is likely that such translation, if and where it did take place in later centuries, happened in individual, isolated instances, as was the case with women’s writing more generally. As Wogan-Browne has commented, ‘each woman writer has to wield her pen as experimenting individual rather than as the fully official inheritor of a tradition’.79

‘Crane’ and Chaucer’s Nun: T wo Further Possibilities

A

lthough there are no further definite examples of translations by women working in England between those of the twelfth century and Eleanor Hull, one more has been suggested: that of a translation of the Benedictine Rule from French into English, found in MS Washington, Library of Congress MS Faye-Bond 4, a manuscript dating from the first half of the fifteenth century.80 The evidence as to its authorship is inconclusive; however, speculation by earlier scholars that it could have been made by a woman make it worth mentioning here. The 75

The Book of Margery Kempe, Ch. 18, p. 123. For a summary of the connections between Bridget and Margery’s book, see Windeatt’s introduction to his edition, esp. pp. 12–13. 77 The Book of Margery Kempe, Ch. 20, p. 129 78 Ibid., Ch. 39, pp. 203–4. 79 Wogan-Browne, ‘“Clerc u lai, muïne u dame”’, p. 74. Cf. also Cannon’s warnings against searching for literary continuity discussed in Chapter 2. 80 Described by Jeanne Krochalis, ‘The Benedictine Rule for Nuns: Library of Congress, MS 4’, Manuscripta 30 (1986), pp. 21–34. 76

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colophon reveals that it is a translation, that it has been made for those who do not know French and that it was commissioned by a woman: Here endeth the Rule of Seint Benet that out of Frensch tunge taken is and in Englissch set, for tho that connen non Frensch, and of vnderstondynge beth ylet, this sentence for to knowe, that here soules ne falle in the deueles net. Preyenge to alle tho, that this litel tretyd loketh and ret, for the lady that this dede make, that here soule mowe fare the bet. Al so for the wrytere, that this wrot, and togedere the lettres schet, that is also to this Rule sore ibounde, and eek therto harde yknet. That thei mowe, both yfere, this word of God here and see: ‘Cometh heder myne children dere, regnum meum percipite!’81 A supplementary text following the colophon is of additional interest for the vivid picture it draws of a female reading – and writing – community, where ‘these younge ladies’ of the convent are instructed in the proper care of books: that thei be nought negligent for to leue here bokes to hem assigned behynde hem in the quer, neyther in cloystre, nether leye here bokes open other vnclosed, ne withoute kepinge, neither kitte out of no book leef ne quaier, neyther write therinne; neyther put out, withoute leue, neyther leue no book out of the place.82 That the translation was made for a woman seems evident enough: ‘for the lady that this dede make’ points to a female patron, with ‘dede make’ meaning ‘had made’ rather than ‘made’ in this context. The manuscript certainly seems to have been intended for an audience who were capable of writing, sometimes in destructive fashion; the ‘younge ladies’ warned to ‘neyther write thereinne neyther put out’ were certainly active and argumentative readers. Moreover, textual omissions in the supplementary text demonstrate that it was copied from an exemplar; this suggests that there was at least one other community of women readers for which a warning not to write in books was necessary. Based on the evidence accrued throughout this chapter, this translation of the Benedictine Rule sounds very like the type of text we might expect our hypothetical women translators to have created. However, there is no proof either for or against the translation having been made by a woman. The ‘wrytere’ is clearly a separate person to ‘the lady that this dede make’, and as someone who is ‘al so to this rule sore ibounde’, he or she is presumably 81

Washington, Library of Congress MS Faye-Bond 4, fol. 36r. Lines which appear in red in the manuscript are given in bold type. Edited in Betty Hill, ‘Some Problems in Washington, Library of Congress MS Faye-Bond 4’, in In Other Words: Transcultural Studies in Philology, Translation, and Lexicology Presented to Hans Heinrich Meier on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed. by J. Lachlan Mackenzie and Richard Todd (Dordrecht: Foris, 1989), pp. 35–44, at p. 37. 82 MS Faye-Bond 4, fol. 36v. Based on Hill, ‘Some Problems’, p.  36, with some differences in punctuation.

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another Benedictine of some description. Krochalis’ argument for female authorship is unconvincing; she hypothesises that either the scribe or the translator’s surname was Crane, based on the drawing of a long-necked bird in the bottom corner of fol. 37r, which has the appearance of being a rebus-style signature, and suggests that ‘Crane’ might have been a nun at the priory for which it was made.83 She names Lyminster Priory as the most likely location, pointing to a second shield drawn in the margin of the same folio, topped by a head-and-shoulders portrait of a Benedictine nun and inscribed with a capital ‘L’ and ‘iiij w ij’, the latter of which she suggests stands for the foundation date of a Benedictine house in the fourth year of William II’s reign (Lyminster is older than this, but it is the only foundation date of a house beginning with ‘L’ which comes close).84 She does not offer any proof that the translation was made by a woman other than that ‘it would be pleasant to think’ so, and her suggestions about Lyminster are ingenious but by no means conclusive. Moreover, her comment that ‘the lack of any clear statement by the author [of other translations] impl[ies] the male presence; female translators are more apt to declare themselves’ shows flawed logic; usually the only reason why female translators are known to exist is due to their revealing their names, and it is readerly presumption which supposes that ‘the lack of any clear statement’ implies male authorship. This being said, there is no reason to reject entirely the hypothesis that a Benedictine nun was responsible for creating this translation. A later article by Betty Hill, which argues that the translator was male on the grounds of the phrase ‘Alle these thinges beth entisinge of vertu to monkes and to nunnes’ for the reason that a female translator would not have made reference to monks in this way, demonstrates that it is just as difficult to disprove female authorship.85 Hill’s research is more rigorous than that of Krochalis, and makes for a stronger argument, but ultimately it does not yield any more answers. The reference to monks does not in itself point to a male authorship; it is possible that such a reference has its origins in the French exemplar. It is true that the composition of religious texts for female readers by male writers has historically been the more usual practice, from Ancrene Wisse to Bishop Richard Fox of Winchester’s 1516 translation of the Benedictine Rule made ‘specialy at thinstante requeste of our ryght dere amd welbeloued doughters in our lorde IHU’ at Romsay, Wherwell, Winchester and Winteney.86 However, that something is usually so does not make it always so; if, as has been suggested, women’s translations are likely to be characterised by silence regarding their origins, we should not be surprised to find it, even if that makes firm conclusions necessarily impossible. One further clue to the existence of nun translators in later medieval England may be found in a fictional portrayal of a woman telling a story ‘in translacioun’: that

83

Krochalis, ‘The Benedictine Rule for Nuns’, pp. 29–30. Ibid., p. 30. 85 Hill, ‘Some Problems’, p. 38. 86 Richard Fox, trans., Here Begynneth the Rule of Seynt Benet (London: Richard Pynson, January 22, 1516), Preface, a ii verso (STC no. 1859). 84

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of Chaucer’s Second Nun in the Canterbury Tales, who announces that her story is a translation in her prologue: I have heer doon my feithful bisynesse After the legende in translacioun Right of thy glorious lif and passioun, Thou with thy gerland wroght with rose and lilie – Thee meene I, mayde and martyr, Seint Cecilie.87 The Second Nun is often ignored by scholars as one of Chaucer’s more colourless narrators, barely mentioned in the General Prologue. However, she deserves further attention within the context of this study; her description of her story as a ‘translacioun’, which she declares that she is making her ‘feithful bisyness’ to convey to her fellow pilgrims in an accurate fashion, begs the question of whether she is intended to be seen as its translator. The lack of clarity surrounding the Nun’s own involvement in the translation of her tale reflects several of the issues inherent in determining whether women were carrying out translation in later medieval England. Is the Nun translating herself or repeating someone else’s translation? Is the source to which she refers from French or Latin? Is it an oral or written translation? Certainly, her recitation en route to Canterbury is an orally transmitted tale, demonstrating how a work ‘in translacioun’ could be passed on by word of mouth; did she also learn the story through hearing it read or recited, or did she read it herself? How closely this tale, including its prologue, has been tailored to the Second Nun is debatable. Chaucer himself appeared to view this work as significant among his personal mental catalogue of translations, listing it alongside several of his other translations in the prologue to The Legend of Good Women, which might suggest that Chaucer originally created the tale as an independent work before assigning it to one of his fictional female characters. It has been suggested by several scholars, from W. W. Skeat onwards, that the Nun’s reference to herself as ‘unworthy sone of Eve’ indicates that Chaucer assigned the tale to the Nun without fully adapting it to a female narrator.88 However, a number of critics have argued that the phrase is not gender-specific within the tale’s cultural context, and that this epithet is appropriate for a nun.89 87

‘The Second Nun’s Prologue’, CT, Fragment VIII, lines 24–8. ‘The Second Nun’s Prologue’, CT, Fragment VIII, line 62; The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, 2nd edn, ed. by W. W. Skeat (Oxford: OUP, 1900), V. 105. For further discussion of critics supporting this view, see Thomas C. Kennedy, ‘The Translator’s Voice in the Second Nun’s Invocacio: Gender, Influence and Textuality’, Medievalia et Humanistica, n.s. 22 (1995), pp. 95–110, at p. 95. 89 F. N. Robinson, for instance, comments that the phrase appears in the liturgy sung by nuns, while Elaine Filax has argued, less convincingly, that it could be understood as following Jerome’s comment in his Commentary on Ephesians that ‘Sin autem [mulier] Christo magis voluerit servire quam saeculo, mulier esse cessabit, et dicetur vir’ (if [a woman] wishes to serve Christ more than the world, she will cease to be a woman and will be called man). The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, 2nd edn, ed. by F. N. Robinson (Oxford: OUP, 1957), p. 755; Filax, ‘A Female I-deal: Chaucer’s Second Nun’, in Sovereign Lady: Essays on Women in Middle English Literature, ed. by Muriel Whitaker (New York: Garland, 1995), pp. 133–56, at p. 145; see also Kennedy, ‘The Translator’s Voice’, pp. 1–2. 88

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However, regardless of any changes of location within Chaucer’s works which it may have undergone, the Second Nun’s assignation to retell of the legend of St Cecilia seems entirely fitting, not only as a reciter of a previously translated tale but as a potential translator in her own right. Given this chapter’s earlier discussion of the twelfth-century translators for whom we have evidence, and the probability that nuns would have had the greatest access to the education necessary to carry out translations, this is precisely the type of person we would most expect a woman translator to be, and the type of text we would expect her to translate. Her lack of physical, and therefore bodily or gendered, description in the General Prologue (and also, perhaps, her status as a ‘sone of Eve’) also allies her with the gender-neutral stance affected by the twelfth-century women translators. Several critics have commented on the almost invisible persona of the Nun; Roger Ellis, for instance, remarks on ‘the narrator’s desire to interpose herself as little as possible between the hearer and the original voice of the narrative’.90 If this were indeed Chaucer’s aim in creating her persona, such self-effacement is surely not too far removed from the anonymous nun of Barking’s declaration that ‘sun num n’i vult dire a ore, | Kar bien set n’est pas digne unkore’ (she does not wish to tell her name at present, for well she knows that she is not yet worthy).91 Although the Nun never names the language undergoing ‘translacioun’ in the prologue itself, the Latin headings embedded within this set the text as a whole within a Latin framework, and in the case of the heading citing Jacob of Genoa’s ‘Interpretacio nominis Cecilie’, explicitly points to a Latin source. These indications may make it less likely that the Nun herself is to be understood as the translator, but not impossible. As noted above, nuns with at least some knowledge of Latin were not unknown during this period (and Eleanor Hull offers a concrete example of a woman translator who knew some Latin), although it would be unusual for a latefourteenth-century nun to have the proficiency to translate it in this way. Moreover, the citing of a Latin source is, of course, no sure guarantee that such a source was used; though it would seem that Chaucer did indeed ultimately derive his version of the Cecilia legend from Latin works, the deliberate dissembling elsewhere in his writings concerning source material (for instance with ‘Lollius’) is well known, and there is in any case nothing to prevent a translator from adding Latin headings to a text regardless of its linguistic origins.92 Given that the Nun is presented in the General Prologue as being from the same 90

Roger Ellis, ‘Persona and Voice: Plain Speaking in Three Canterbury Tales’, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 74 (1992), pp. 121–30, at p. 125; see also Filax, ‘A Female I-deal’, p. 133: ‘If we compare the Second Nun to the other two women pilgrims, the description is of lack, negation, and absence.’ 91 La Vie d’Edouard le confesseur, lines 298–9. 92 Chaucer’s tale is ultimately taken from two Latin prose versions of the St Cecelia story, Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda Aurea and a Franciscan-inspired abridgement of Jacobus, in addition to borrowings from Dante and other texts. See Sherry L. Reames, ‘The Second Nun’s Prologue and Tale’, in Sources and Analogues of the Canterbury Tales, ed. by Robert M. Correale and Mary Hamel (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2002), pp. 491–527.

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convent as the ‘ful faire and fetis’ French-speaking Prioress, at a time when French was often maintained as an alternative vernacular in women’s houses, one might suppose this to be her most familiar second language. It may, then, be more likely that any translation carried out by the Nun herself would come most readily from French, perhaps from a similar collection of saints’ lives to that created for the mealtime entertainment of the nuns of Campsey. Alternatively, it would be possible for a translator more proficient in French than Latin to use a French source containing embedded Latin quotations, as Eleanor Hull is known to have done, or to use a Latin source supplemented by an intermediary French translation, as Chaucer himself did on several occasions. The indications within the Nun’s prologue that her tale has been written (e.g. ‘Yet preye I yow that reden that I write’)93 have sometimes been taken as a further sign that the text was not fully revised before being included in the Tales.94 However, as discussed in Chapter 4, there are a number of medieval prologues in which the narrative voice switches between oral and written personae, so this is perhaps not as out of place as it might initially appear. Moreover, given the fact that – within the fiction of the Canterbury Tales – the Nun is clearly reciting the legend orally to the other pilgrims, with it then being subsequently re-recorded by Chaucer’s narrator persona, it may be helpful to consider the prologue’s intermingling of oral and written markers in relation to the more general movement of medieval narratives between oral and written media, and of the role which oral transmission can play in translation. Whilst it may be interpreting the term ‘translator’ too broadly to see the Nun participating in translation activity purely by retelling an English version of the Cecilia legend, the collaborative acts of translation explored elsewhere in this book suggest that this could be a further way of understanding the Nun’s ‘translacioun’ of her tale. I by no means wish to claim that Chaucer intended the Second Nun to be a realistic portrait of a woman engaged in translation activity, and it would be forced in any case to suggest that this is definitely a depiction of a fourteenth-century nun-translator. However, the fact remains that her audience on the road to Canterbury hear an English translation of a ‘legende’ in her voice, and considering the Nun herself as a possible translator of her tale (or as one of multiple translators in the course of the legend’s movement from Latin into English) allows for an intriguing additional perspective on the legend’s transmission as presented here by Chaucer.

T

he existence of Eleanor Hull, the one indisputable example of a late medieval English woman translator, tallies with what we have been led to expect by the evidence in this chapter: as an aristocratic woman affiliated to a women’s house (if as a pious laywoman rather than as a nun), she is of a similar social profile to the twelfth-century women translators, and to the women from later

93 94

‘The Second Nun’s Prologue’, CT, Fragment VIII, line 78. Florence H. Ridley’s explanatory note to line 78 in The Riverside Chaucer (p. 944) suggests that ‘[t] his reference to reading material supposedly delivered orally seems obvious evidence of lack of revision’. Chaucer, The Riverside Chaucer, 3rd edn, gen. ed. by Larry D. Benson (Oxford: OUP, 1987).

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centuries who were most likely to have been educated to a level sufficient for them to translate. Moreover, her silence surrounding her authorship of the translation and her lack of any gender-specific translator persona suggest the possibility that, lacking a Richard Fox to name them, other women may have made translations in the same untraceable way. If the case for women translators necessarily remains, at least until any further evidence comes to light, largely an argumentum e silencio, there is also no substantial evidence which limits the practice of translation to male translators. Without consideration of the role of women in this field as translators as well as patrons and audiences, our understanding of the practice of English translation will remain incomplete.

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chapter 7

The Presentation of Audience and the Later Life of the Prologue

T



o laud and Inglisman I spell | Þat vnderstandes þat I tell’, declares the Cursor Mundi, in a couplet which appears in all manuscripts containing this prologue.1 The stated audience for this text remains constant throughout its manuscript history: Englishmen and the ‘lewed’, the manuscripts agree, will benefit most from this work.2 However, in some manuscripts the original prologue has been altered by later readers. A number of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century copies omit the lines in which the narrator complains about the prevalence of ‘Frankis rimes [...] wroght for frankis man’. Making their copies of the Cursor Mundi during a period where francophone literature would indeed have been less ‘Comunlik’ read ‘in ilk[a] sted’, it would appear as though later redactors of the text felt such statements to be unnecessary or even irrelevant.3 This example illustrates the shifting relationship between prologues and their audiences: an author may use a prologue to define his audience as a particular group, and to state that he is directing his text towards their needs; however, if the needs of that group change (or indeed if another group entirely should become interested in the text), audiences may in turn choose to alter the prologue, thereby redefining the text in accordance with the way they read it. We will now turn to those for whom the translations were intended, and examine the relationship between prologues and their audiences. This is explored in two ways. First, I discuss the statements made about audience in the prologues. The term ‘audience’ will be used here in a broad sense to mean all recipients of a text, although the way the term keeps oral delivery in mind is one of its advantages. In their provision of a directional framework for the reader or listener, prologues are the most direct link between text and audience; the descriptions they contain of those who will read or hear the work therefore act as a mirror held up to those who will benefit from them. Second, I consider the way in which prologues themselves can be altered by later readers and scribes, by means of interpolated or omitted lines, to reflect changing audience needs. This last makes a logical conclusion to my study of the English material, being an investigation into the later life of translators’ prologues. The images which Middle English translators’ prologues create of their audiences – often through direct addresses to larger or smaller groups, such as the Cursor Mundi’s ‘laud and Inglis man’ or Handlyng Synne’s ‘gode men of Brunne’ – frequently overlap considerably with what can be established from independent and more 1

Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, line 249. For a discussion of the term ‘lewed’ see below. 3 Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, lines 237–9. 2

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soberly historical sources; however, the prologues often highlight certain characteristics of these audiences according to the reception they wish to receive, the readers and listeners they seek and the way in which they wish to be read.4 The stated or implied audience of any text is a fiction to a greater or lesser extent; anyone writing for an absent reader or listener is obliged to make certain assumptions about the recipient of his words.5 However, the complex multilingual situation in medieval England meant that authors had to walk a particularly fine linguistic tightrope when creating a sense of common ground between themselves and their audiences. Allusions to audience are potentially still more problematic when these remarks form part of translators’ prologues. First, one has to take into account whether the translator might have been influenced by his source text, and whether or not he is simply echoing the references to audience in his exemplar. Secondly, if original remarks are made on the reasons for a work’s translation into a particular language – as, for instance, when Mannyng declares in Handlyng Synne that ‘For lewed men y vndyr toke | On englyssh tonge to make þys boke’ – one must consider the extent to which the work truly addresses the audience that the prologue appears to appoint. The study of depictions of audiences is a large and complex topic. The first section of this chapter, which examines both the very generalised audience of the ‘laud and Inglis man’, and the few occasions on which small groups or known individuals are named, therefore focuses on one particular aspect of this: namely, the attention paid toward the linguistic capabilities of the audience. These descriptions will also be considered within the larger context of manuscript evidence; for example, if a text stating that it is translated into English for those who do not know French or Latin were bound next to other works in these languages, this might suggest that, at some stage in the manuscript’s history, it had been read by a different audience to that originally conceived by the author, at least if the prologue’s remarks are to be taken at face value.6 There will then be a more extensive discussion of one particular audience group, women, who are addressed in The Knowing of Woman’s Kind. Finally, I address the phenomenon of mouvance within prologues, in which the relationship between prologue and audience shifts over time. For this chapter I have investigated 51 manuscripts which include copies of the translators’ prologues in the corpus, taking particular note of any differences between manuscript versions of prologues where lines are interpolated or omitted,

4

As the editors of The Idea of the Vernacular have remarked, ‘there is an important sense in which “audiences” do not preexist the texts that are addressed to them but are called into being by them’ (p. 110). For a discussion of some of the issues involved in determining audiences for English-language texts, and useful bibliography, see their introduction to Part Two, ‘Addressing and Positioning the Audience’ (pp. 109–16, esp. p. 113). 5 See e.g. Walter Ong, ‘The Writer’s Audience Is Always a Fiction’, PMLA 90 (1975), pp. 9–21. 6 This question has been discussed in relation to romance by John J. Thompson, ‘The Cursor Mundi, the “Inglis tong”, and “Romance”’, in Readings in Medieval English Romance, ed. by Carol M. Meale (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1994), pp. 99–120.

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and the other texts with which the work in question was bound.7 I have not, however, attempted any kind of comprehensive catalogue, inventory or description; the investigation has been restricted to those manuscripts which included a prologue; fragmentary manuscripts, or even those containing a complete text except for leaves lacking where the prologue would have been, were not included. For the most part I found very few textual changes; the prologues remained relatively stable. However, in certain cases changes were made, and these are described below. Manuscript evidence of this kind can only be partial, and to an extent it is necessarily inconclusive; there is no way of knowing how many relevant manuscripts have been lost, and a large percentage of those which have survived are of a much later date than the texts they preserve.8 However, the evidence we do have is invaluable for the way it creates a fuller picture of those who commissioned, read and listened to Middle English translations. 7

This was mostly by examining the manuscripts themselves, or on occasion a facsimile (as in the case of the Auchinleck, Vernon and Cotton Caligula A. II manuscripts) or printed edition of a single codex (as in the case of Ashmole 61). The manuscripts examined are as follows: Laȝamon’s Brut: MS London, British Library, Cotton Caligula A. IX; London, British Library, MS Cotton Otho C. XIII (2 out of 2 MSS containing a prologue). Of Arthour and of Merlin: Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ MS 19.2.1 (the Auchinleck manuscript) (1 out of 5). Sir Tristem: Auchinleck (1 out of 1). The Castle of Love: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Eng. poet. a. 1 (the Vernon manuscript); Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Add. B. 107; London, British Library, MS Add. 22283 (the Simeon manuscript) (3 out of 3). Cursor Mundi: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 416; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Fairfax 14; Cambridge, Trinity College, MS R. 3. 8; London, British Library, MS Cotton Vespasian A. III (4 out of 8). The Lay Folk’s Mass Book: Cambridge University Library MS Gg. 5. 31 (1 out of 5). The Seege of Troye: London, British Library, MS Harley 525; London, British Library, MS Egerton 2862; London, College of Arms, Arundel XII; London, Lincoln’s Inn, MS Hale 150 (4 out of 4). Richard Coer de Lyon: Auchinleck; Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, MS 175/96 (2 out of 5). Lay Le Freine: Auchinleck (1 out of 1). Sir Orfeo: Auchinleck; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 61 (2 out of 3). Ayenbite of Inwyt: London, British Library, MS Arundel 57 (1 out of 1). Northern Octavian: Lincoln Cathedral, MS 91 (the Thornton manuscript); Cambridge University Library, MS Ff. 2. 38 (2 out of 2). William of Palerne: Cambridge, King’s College, MS 13 (1 out of 1). Myrour of Lewed Men: London, British Library, MS Egerton 927 (1 out of 1). Speculum Vitae: Cambridge University Library, MS Ff. 4. 9; Cambridge University Library, MS Ii. 1. 36; Cambridge University Library, MS Ll. 1. 8; Cambridge University Library, MS Add. 2823; Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, MS 160/81; Cambridge, Trinity College, MS R. 3. 13; London, British Library, MS Add. 8151; London, British Library, MS Add. 33995; London, British Library, MS Harley 435; London, British Library, MS Royal 17. C. VIII; London, British Library, MS Stowe 951; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 48; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 446; the Vernon manuscript; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Hatton 19 (15 out of 23). Sir Launfal: London, British Library, MS Cotton Caligula A. II (1 out of 1). The Knowing of Woman’s Kind: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 37; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 483; Cambridge University Library, MS Ii. 6. 33; London, British Library, Add. 12195; London, British Library, MS Sloane 421A; (5 out of 5). Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii: London, British Library, MS Stowe 951 (1 out of 1). Partenope of Blois: London, British Library, MS Add. 35288 (1 out of 5). 8 Looking at romances, Carol M. Meale has calculated that, although 61 romances can be identified as having probably been written before 1400, only 19 manuscripts containing these texts date from the same period. By contrast, 70 manuscripts containing romances can be dated to the fifteenth century. Meale, ‘“Gode men/Wiues maydnes and alle men”: Romance and its Audiences’, in Meale, Readings in Medieval English Romance, pp. 209–25, at p. 213.

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‘To l aud and Inglis man I spell’: Larger Audience Groups Named in Transl ations

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s was seen in Chapter 3, the conceptualisation of English as the great unifier of the English people, crossing boundaries of gender, education and juridical status (clerk/layman), and the language capable of addressing the potentially nationwide audience of ‘euerich Inglische’ to a more or less explicitly stated extent, is the most recursive claim made in Middle English translators’ prologues. The larger groups named in romances, such as the Northern Octavian’s ‘lytyll and mykyll, olde and yonge’,9 or the all-embracing, and effectively classless, romance address of ‘lordings’, as in the case of Lay le Freine (‘Ac herkneth lordinges, sothe to sain, | Ichil you telle Lay le Frayn’),10 can be used, at least in part, because of the universality of English (as the Speculum Vitae reminds us, ‘lered and lawed, alde and yhunge, | Alle vnderstandes Inglische tunge’).11 The Cursor Mundi’s comment that ‘To laud and Inglis man I spell’ summarises the imagined audience of many of these texts.12 The traditional view that English translations were invariably made for readers or listeners who were less sophisticated, or of a lower social class, than those who enjoyed the French originals, has now largely been superseded by a recognition that those who enjoyed writing in English may often have been of a similar social background to those who enjoyed French works.13 One factor which may have contributed to these earlier beliefs is the number of references in the prologues of these translations to their audiences, many of which differentiate between the needs of those who only know English and those who understand Latin and/or French. The former group are often portrayed as synonymous with the ‘lewed’, particularly in religious texts, where they are conventionally opposed with the ‘lered’ to differentiate lay and clerical classes.14 Sometimes the ‘lewed’ are explicitly identified as those who only understand English, as in Mannyng’s Chronicle (‘on Inglysch has it schewed, | not for þe lerid bot for þe lewed [...] þat þe no Latyn no Frankys can’).15 Richard Coer de Lyon makes a similar statement concerning those who know no French (‘Þis lewed no can Freyns non; | Among an hundred vnneþe on’).16 Although the term ‘lewed’ could cover a great many types of social group and profession in its 9

Northern Octavian, line 1. Lay le Freine, lines 21–2. 11 Speculum Vitae, line 80. 12 Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, line 249. 13 For the former view, see e.g. Derek Pearsall, Old English and Middle English Poetry (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977), p. 146. 14 MED, s.vv. ‘leued’ (adj.), ‘lernen’ (v.), 4b (a). Of the religious texts in the corpus, the ‘lewed’ are explicitly named as the sole or principal beneficiary in Handlyng Synne, the Cursor Mundi, The Castle of Love (‘For lewed men þat luitel connen | On Englisch hit is þus biggonen’, lines 73–4), the Northern Homily Cycle (‘gif me grace sua make | This werk for laued mennes sake’, line 120), The Ayenbite of Inwyt (‘Þis boc is y-mad uor lewede men’, p. 262) and The Myrour of Lewed Men (‘A munk made this myrour only for lewed mennes sake’, line 1249). Of the secular texts, Richard Coer de Lyon (line 22) and Mannyng’s Chronicle (line 6) also describe their audience as ‘lewed’. 15 Chronicle, lines 5–6, 8. 16 Richard Coer de Lyon, lines 22–3. 10

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wider meaning of ‘non Latinate’ and therefore ‘lay’, the impression given is often of a linguistically, and perhaps socially, restricted group.17 As Of Arthour and of Merlin remarks, ‘Freynsche vse þis gentil man | Ac euerich Inglische Inglische can’; although those of higher social classes are not necessarily excluded as an audience of this text, the prologue’s distancing ‘Mani noble ich haue yseiȝe | Þat no Freynsche couþe seye’ implies that the translation is not, itself, directed towards these ‘noble’.18 Like the image of the translator figure examined in Chapter 4, the sheer number of references evoking the ‘laud and Inglis man’ as an audience suggests that this image gradually became a topos, an iconographic shorthand for the type of audience who might have been expected to enjoy English-language works. It is also, of course, a form of modesty topos; the author does not write for the educated because (it is perhaps implied) he cannot. Moreover, many addresses of this type are so generalised that they can hardly fail to address at least some of those reading or listening to the text in question. As was seen in Chapter 3, the way in which English writers of this period, particularly those of the early fourteenth century, ‘constructed their audience as the people of the nation’ by linking the English language with the English people frequently ignored the multilingual reality of England – and perhaps indeed of their own audiences.19 As Butterfield has remarked in relation to later models of the role of English, ‘the reality of linguistic practice disrupts the rhetoric of unity’.20 However, although the translators’ prologues in the corpus undoubtedly present a simplified, and schematic, image of their audiences, they are sometimes more nuanced than might, perhaps, be supposed, and cannot simply be dismissed as rhetorical tropes. In particular, their assessment of the linguistic abilities of their audience often appears to be reasonably accurate; prologues can, and do, differentiate between those requiring English translations through monolingual necessity and those who may be able to understand other languages but choose English works for patriotic or other reasons. A loose temporal development can be traced in this, with a trend towards greater expectations of monolingualism. The prologue of Laȝamon’s Brut does not mention the linguistic abilities of its audience; the early date of this text and the bilingual contents of the Cotton Caligula manuscript (discussed below) both suggest that some members of Laȝamon’s audience may well have been familiar with French and Latin as well as English. Later prologues, particularly those dating from the earlier fourteenth century, are more likely to link the use of English to English identity. However, this is not necessarily presented as being in conflict with having a knowledge of other languages. For instance, after listing a number of romances in its opening lines, with which he appears to expect his audience to be at least superficially familiar, the author of the Cursor Mundi declares that these stories are ‘Sanges sere of selcuth rime, | Inglis, 17

For a discussion of the breadth of meanings of ‘lewed’, see Guy Trudel, ‘The Middle English Book of Penance and the Readers of the Cursor Mundi’, Medium Ævum 74 (2005), pp. 10–33, at pp. 23–4. 18 Of Arthour and of Merlin, lines 23–6. 19 Turville-Petre, England the Nation, p. 28. 20 Butterfield, Familiar Enemy, p. 328.

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frankys and latine’.21 It is nowhere stated explicitly that his audience includes those who enjoy these ‘rimes’ in different languages (and indeed his ‘Quat is for him na frankis can?’ may suggest that it does not); however, his acknowledgement – and oblique inclusion – of those who do suggests that, while the poet is keen to justify his use of English for ‘laud and Inglis man’ on patriotic grounds, his inclusion of the ‘laud’ does not necessarily exclude the rest of ‘Ingland the nacion’ who might know Latin and French.22 Texts from the later fourteenth century and beyond, however, often appear to take it for granted that their readers and listeners will be, if not monolingual, much more familiar with English than with any other language; this is suggested, for example, by William of Palerne’s claim to have been translated ‘in ese of Englysch men in Englysche speche’ and ‘for hem þat knowe no Frensche, ne never understo[n]’.23 There is also a slight shift in emphasis from ‘lewed’ to ‘Inglish’ in the characterisation of audiences; later texts are more likely to describe English as the language of England, without further differentiation. For example, in translating Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour, the author of King and Four Daughters remarks that ‘may not all men French vnderstond, | And namely men of Ingelond’.24 Whilst there is by no means an exact tessellation between the linguistic abilities of the English and the representation of this in prologues, there is perhaps a greater correlation than might be supposed. In religious texts, the addressing of the ‘lewed’ as an audience may owe something to the drive for greater lay religious instruction in the wake of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, manifest in Britain at first in the large numbers of French-language works written for lay instruction in the thirteenth century. Although its pronouncements were obviously quite independent of the linguistic situation in Britain, they testify to concerns in the Latin church to which Middle English translators provide their own response. The Ayenbite, for instance, states that ‘Þis bok / is more ymad / uor þe leawede: þanne uor þe clerkes / þet conneþ þe writinges’.25 The ‘lered’ do not need pastoral guidance in English, as they are capable of reading it for themselves in Latin, as the later Speculum Vitae makes clear: And al for lewed men namely Þat can na manere of clergy. To kenne þam war maste nede, For clerkes can bathe se and rede In sere bokes of Haly Writte How þai sal lif, if þai loke itt.

21

Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, lines 23–4. Ibid., line 241. 23 William of Palerne, line 5533. 24 King and Four Daughters, lines 17–18. 25 Ayenbite, p. 46. 22

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Þarefore I wil me haly halde To þat langage þat Inglisch es called.26 The ‘lered’ or the ‘clerkys’ are not necessarily excluded as an audience; insofar as they are native speakers of English they are of English nationality as the texts under consideration here seek to construct it, and thus they also deserve a translation in their mother tongue. However, in many cases the primary concern, as expressed in these prologues, is for those who cannot benefit from this instruction in other languages. The remarks in English translations of French religious manuals often echo the stated intentions of their originals, which declared in their prologues to have been written for those who did not understand Latin.27 The Manuel des Pechiez, for instance, declares that it was written ‘Pur la laie gent’,28 and the Chateau d’Amour, as the heading to the Vernon Castle of Love points out, was made by ‘Bisschop Grosteyȝt [...] For lewede mennes byhoue’.29 However, this echoing does not appear to be the result of unthinking copying of the lines concerning audience by the English translators; in none of these cases are the English remarks on audience directly translated from the French, and, moreover, both French and English texts of this nature would seem to be written in response to genuine need for lay instruction.30

‘Gode men of Brunne’: Specific Audiences and the Question of Patronage

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maller , more specific audiences are invoked less frequently in prologues. These may be more likely to provide more information as to the genuine recipients of such translations. Handlyng Synne contains one such prologue, which narrows down its audience in a three-step process to address all crystyn men vndyr sunne And to gode men of brunne, And specyaly alle be name: Þe felaushepe of sympringhame.31 As the text continues, Mannyng proceeds to further subdivide his audience according to the relevance of the tale in question to particular groups: ‘ȝe chyldryn’, for instance, when discussing the commandment ‘honour thy father and mother’,32 or 26

Speculum Vitae, lines 83–90. See my discussion of these in Chapter 1. 28 Manuel des Pechiez, line 113. 29 Castle of Love, Vernon version. 30 For a recent discussion of French guides for the laity circulated in twelfth- and thirteenth-century England, and their similarity in purpose to their fourteenth- and fifteenth-century English-language counterparts, see Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, ‘“Cest livre liseez ... chescun jour”: Women and Reading c. 1230–c. 1450’, in Wogan-Browne, The French of England, pp. 239–53. 31 Handlyng Synne, lines 57–60. 32 Ibid., line 1285. 27

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‘ȝe wymmen’ when modest feminine dress is being recommended.33 The specific and appropriate nature of these addresses suggests that Mannyng did indeed intend these particular groups to read or listen to these sections, particularly within the context of the more general lay audience which he would seem to address from the prologue onwards. Although the exact circumstances of Mannyng’s life and situation are not known, it has been suggested that he may have been a parish priest34 or even the hospitarius, or guest-master, for pilgrims at Sempringham35 (although this last would seem less likely), both positions which would have brought him into contact with a varied lay audience of this kind. The only places in the prologues I have studied where individuals are named are in references to patrons. Such addresses raise the question of the extent to which patron and actual audience are one and the same. Two of the texts in the corpus – in other words, remarkably few – contain such references: Mannyng’s Chronicle, which informs readers that the translation was made at the behest of ‘Dan Robert’, and William of Palerne, which was created for ‘þe hend Erl of Herford, Sir Humfray de Bowne’. The Otho Brut, which adds the detail that the poet ‘wonede at Ernleie wid þan gode cniþte’, also offers a potential patron in this reference.36 A good example of the sometimes problematic distinction between patron and audience, and the questions this can pose for modern critics, can be found in the prologue and epilogue of William of Palerne (c. 1350–61). Until the mid 1980s, critics were generally of the opinion that Humphrey would not have commissioned an English translation for himself, as a nobleman. Pearsall, for instance, has remarked that ‘he intended it not for himself, but for those who knew no French [...] it would indeed be something of a paradox if Humphrey, whose patronage elsewhere extended to the most sumptuous illuminated manuscripts, had any closer relation with a poem so banal’. Of Humphrey’s translator he suggests that ‘[p]robably the commission was a casual one, to some insistent household clerk’, and concludes that ‘perhaps it was intended for the kitchen staff ’.37 Less facetiously, Turville-Petre has proposed that the poem was composed for members of Humphrey’s retinue established at the manors of Haresfield and Wheatenhurst.38 The author William, he suggests, was a member of one of these households, or perhaps an Augustinian canon at Llanthony Priory, of which the Earls of Hereford were patrons.39 However, the 33

Ibid., line 3413. See Stephen A. Sullivan, ‘Handlyng Synne in its Tradition’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1979), pp. 79–80; see also Appendix 3. 35 For this suggestion, see Joyce Coleman, ‘Handling Pilgrims: Robert Mannyng and the Gilbertine Cult’, Philological Quarterly 81 (2002), pp. 311–26. I am inclined to agree with Sullivan’s (pre-emptive) objection to this (‘Handlyng Synne in its Tradition’, p. 73): namely that there are no references to St Gilbert anywhere in the text, which would seem odd in a book written for Gilbertine pilgrims. See also Chapter 5’s discussion of whether he may have been involved in the teaching of French. 36 Brut, Otho version, line 3. 37 Pearsall, Old English and Middle English Poetry, p. 157. 38 Thorlac Turville-Petre, The Alliterative Revival (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1977), p. 40. 39 Thorlac Turville-Petre, ‘Humphrey de Bohun and William of Palerne’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 75 (1974), pp. 250–2, at p. 252. 34

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gradual reassessment in recent years of the extent to which aristocratic audiences in the fourteenth century might have read and commissioned English translations for themselves means that Humphrey’s lack of interest in the poem cannot be taken for granted. G. H. V. Bunt has refuted these earlier views in his edition and elsewhere, arguing that ‘we cannot dismiss the solid evidence afforded by our poem that Earl Humphrey took a sufficient evidence in the story of Guillaume de Palerne to patronise its translation into English’.40 It could be, as Pearsall suggests, that the translator was indeed an ‘insistent household clerk’, but only by excessive insistence would he have won a commission to translate a text in which his patron had no interest. Apart from anything else, the lengthy acknowledgement and praise of Humphrey would seem odd in a poem which the earl was not expected to read. It is more possible, perhaps, that Humphrey commissioned the translation with the wider audience of his household in mind; this is not, however, at odds with the possibility that Humphrey also wished to enjoy the translation himself. The questions surrounding the motivation for the translation of William of Palerne demonstrate the possible pitfalls of taking the Middle English translators’ remarks on audience at face value (and taken in this way they have surely done much to condition Pearsall’s response). The epilogue’s claim that Humphrey ‘let make þis mater in þis maner speche | for hem þat knowe no Frensche’, which would seem to imply an audience other than the earl himself, may be part of the truth, but one should not assume that it is the whole truth. It may be that Humphrey himself was one of those who did not know French, although as nephew of the French-speaking Edward II, this seems unlikely. However, the comment in the earlier Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) that ‘Mani noble ich haue yseiȝe | Þat no Freynsche couþe seye’ serves as a reminder that there may well have been aristocratic audiences who would have felt more at ease with English versions of texts. The problems faced by scholars in identifying the audience of a text such as William of Palerne, which appears to name its beneficiaries with no small measure of precision, demonstrates how difficult it is to identify audiences for medieval texts based on textual evidence such as prologues, even when specific groups and named individuals are addressed. However, when prologues are read within the larger context of manuscript evidence, it is sometimes possible to glean more information as to the actual nature of their audiences.

The Prologue in Context: Manuscript Evidence

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he changing linguistic abilities and requirements of audiences implied in prologues are often supported by shifting patterns in the languages of texts bound in the same codex. Manuscripts from the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries are more likely to be multilingual, suggesting that their audiences

40

Bunt, William of Palerne, p. 18.

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were capable of enjoying texts in two or three languages.41 Later fourteenth- and fifteenth-century ones, by contrast, are increasingly monolingual. While there is by no means a perfect correlation between the language skills (and other characteristics) of audiences as described in prologues and the presence of these texts in particular types of manuscript, there is often a reasonably high level of agreement. Though extant copies of texts are often several copies – and decades – away from the original author, this adds further support to the hypothesis that the descriptions of audience they contain are often more closely allied to their actual beneficiaries than might be supposed. To return to the earliest prologue in my corpus, the lack of emphasis placed by Laȝamon on the language of his audience – or, equally, of his embracing and ‘þrum[ing] to are’ of his multilingual sources which combine to tell the story of the ‘Engle þa æðelæn’ – are in no way contradicted by the multilingual contents of MS Cotton Caligula A. IX (c. 1250–1300),42 which contains Laȝamon’s Brut, a number of works in both French and English, including The Owl and the Nightingale, two French saints’ lives by the Anglo-Norman poet ‘Chardri’, a handful of English religious lyrics and a short Anglo-Norman prose chronicle, Li Rei de Engleterre. Although Frederic Madden believed that the section of the manuscript containing the Brut originally circulated independently of the other texts, N. R. Ker has argued that the two parts were bound together ‘from the first’.43 If it is true that the texts circulated in the same codex from a very early point in their history, it seems evident that the manuscript was compiled for a readership comfortable with both English and French.44 On the other hand, many of the texts claiming to be written mainly for those who do not know French or Latin are indeed bound predominantly with other English texts or those containing other texts dealing with issues of translation and language learning. The earliest of these, and certainly the most famous, is the Auchinleck manuscript (1330s), which includes five of the texts in the corpus: Of Arthour and of Merlin, Lay le Freine, Sir Tristem, Sir Orfeo and Richard Coer de Lyon. As discussed 41

The mixture of languages in manuscripts depended not only on chronology but on the type of texts included. Whilst Middle English romances rarely circulated alongside French-language works, Middle English lyrics were often copied next to French lyrics; Ad Putter suggests that this is due to the association of the lyric with francophone culture. Putter, ‘The Organisation of Multilingual Miscellanies: The Contrasting Fortunes of Middle English Lyrics and Romances’, in Insular Books: Vernacular Manuscript Miscellanies in Late Medieval Britain, ed. by Margaret Connolly and Raluca Radulescu (Oxford: OUP, 2015), pp. 81–100. 42 For a discussion of dating, see Elizabeth J. Bryan, Collaborative Meaning in Medieval Scribal Culture: The Otho Layamon (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1999), pp. 183–90. 43 Laȝamon, Laȝamon’s Brut, or Chronicle of Britain, ed. by Frederic Madden, 3 vols (London: Society of Antiquities of London, 1847; repr. Osnabrück: Otto Zeller, 1967), vol. 1, p. xxxiv; N. R. Ker, The Owl and the Nightingale: Facsimile of the Jesus and Cotton Manuscripts, EETS O.S. 251 (London: OUP, 1963), p. ix. 44 For an argument that patrons of such manuscripts enjoyed romances in both French and English, see e.g. Meale, ‘“Gode men/Wiues maydnes and alle men”’; Marilyn Corrie, ‘Harley 2253, Digby 86, and the Circulation of Literature in Pre-Chaucerian England’, in Studies in the Harley Manuscript: The Scribes, Contents and Social Contexts of British Library MS Harley 2253, ed. by Susanna Fein (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2000), pp. 427–43.

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above, of the two of these which mention the linguistic abilities of their audiences – Of Arthour and Richard – both, especially Richard, imply that they have been written for monolingual audiences. Certainly, the Auchinleck manuscript would pose almost no problems for a monolingual reader or listener; except for the 20-line macaronic French and English prologue to the short poem The Sayings of the Four Philosophers, the seven lines of French contained in the Anonymous Short English Metrical Chronicle45 and the Latin headings in Þe Paternoster and David þe King (which are taken respectively from the Lord’s Prayer and the psalm paraphrased in the poem, and so effectively translated), the manuscript contains exclusively English writing.46 Many of the religious manuals aimed at the ‘laud and Inglis’ also appear in manuscripts which are filled either exclusively or primarily with English-language material, although few are compiled with the same linguistic consciousness which distinguishes the Auchinleck. All the extant copies of the Cursor Mundi, in cases where these are bound with other texts, are found alongside other Middle English texts, mainly religious works and romances; the late-fourteenth-century copy found in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Fairfax 14, for instance, is followed by English metrical expositions on the Pater Noster and Creed, a prayer to the Trinity, the metrical hours of the Passion and the Book of Penance (the last of which, a 2000-line penitential manual, appears immediately after the Cursor Mundi in three of the manuscripts of that poem).47 All but one of the manuscripts containing the Speculum Vitae, too, contain exclusively English texts, mostly of a religious nature.48 Another manuscript in which a relationship can be seen between the translators’ prologues it contains and its linguistic and thematic contents is London, British Library, MS Stowe 951. This one is of particular interest due to the possibility that it may be the holograph of Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii, Quixley’s translation of Gower’s Traité pour essampler les Amantz marietz. Dated to the first half of the fifteenth century, the manuscript contains three items: The Three Kings of Cologne, a prose history of the Magi translated from John of Hildesheim’s Historia truium regum; a complete Speculum Vitae; and Quixley’s poem. The second and third 45

Lines 1310–16. For a discussion of ways in which French and other non-English languages are used in the Auchinleck manuscript, see Thea Summerfield, ‘‘‘And she answered in hir Language’: Aspects of Multilingualism in the Auchinleck Manuscript‘, in Jefferson and Putter, Multilingualism in Medieval Britain, pp. 241–58. 46 Turville-Petre, England the Nation, p. 12, and see also Ch. 4, has gone so far as to call it ‘a handbook of the nation’, suggesting that ‘Englishness’ was one of the main concerns of its compiler or compilers. Whilst the manuscript is not the one-note homage to Englishness that Turville-Petre’s somewhat overrated analysis might suggest, it does seem to have been compiled with a degree of nationalistic, and certainly linguistic, consciousness. 47 For a description of the Cursor Mundi manuscripts, see John J. Thompson, The ‘Coursor Mundi’: Poem, Texts and Contexts, Medium Ævum monographs, NS 19 (Oxford: Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature, 1998), Ch. 1. For more on the relationship between this and other works, and the possibility of shared audience, see Trudel, ‘The Middle English Book of Penance’. 48 Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 48 contains four Latin works by or ascribed to Richard Rolle; all other items are English. For a full description of the contents of the Speculum Vitae manuscripts, see Hanna, Speculum Vitae, pp. xvi–lx.

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items are copied in the same Anglicana hand, the first in a similar Anglicana, with workaday decoration of sporadic blue capitals and paraph marks throughout the Three Kings and Speculum Vitae, and red capitals in Quixley’s translation.49 The only non-English-language material in the manuscript is the Latin prose commentaries to Gower’s original text, which have been reproduced in red ink after each balade, in the same hand and style, and the Latin title of Quixley’s translation, Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii, also in red ink, which is added after the prologue. In addition to the Speculum Vitae prologue’s discussion of English, which has already been discussed, Quixley’s prologue reads as follows: Who þat liste loke in þis litel tretice May fynde what meschief is of auoutrie Wherfore he þat will eschewe þat vice He may see here to beware of folie Gower it made in frenshe with grete studie In balades ryale whos sentence here Translated hath Quixley in this manere.50 These lines reveal that the original text was in French, and by a named and learned author (indeed one presented as an auctor), but that a translation of their ‘sentence’ was necessary for Quixley’s audience. The Latin title and short commentaries, however, suggest that the manuscript’s readers could have been expected to read in this language, albeit, perhaps, only as supporting material to the main English-language text. Quixley’s prologue also reflects the thematic content both of his translation, and, arguably, of the manuscript as a whole. He emphasises the didactic, moralising aspects of Gower’s work, which he (like Gower) calls a ‘tretice’, warning against the ‘folie’ and ‘meschief ’ of ‘auoutrie’; moral self-improvement is also, of course, a major theme of the Speculum Vitae and its prologue, and the Three Kings, though not as overtly didactic, also works in this manuscript as a morally edifying text. Yeager has argued convincingly that a very probable identity for ‘Quixley’ is that of Robert de Quixley, long-serving prior of the Augustinian house of Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire, who may well have assembled the manuscript himself, reflecting his ‘belief in […] the book as a salvific instrument’, a theme also present in other writings credited to him.51 The manuscript’s scribal dialect52 and sturdy ‘homespun’ appearance,53 in addition to (as Yeager argues) its reflection of the languages with which a fifteenth-century Augustinian house might be expected 49

For descriptions of this manuscript, see Catalogue of the Stowe Manuscripts of the British Museum, 2 vols (London: British Museum, 1895–6), vol. 1, pp. 634–5; Hanna, Speculum Vitae, vol. 1, pp. xxxix–xl; Yeager, ‘A Translation of the Traité’, pp. 156–7. 50 For an edition of Quixley’s translation, see Yeager, ‘A Translation of the Traité’, pp. 163–73. 51 Ibid., p. 159. 52 The scribal dialect of Stowe 951 is identified in LALME as being from the Pateley Bridge area of West Yorkshire (LP 526, coordinates 417/466), around 20 miles from Whixley and 50 from Nostell Priory. 53 Yeager’s term on p. 157 is an accurate description.

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to be familiar, namely English and Latin, but by this period not necessarily French,54 all make a persuasive case for Robert de Quixley being the compiler of Stowe 951 as well as the translator of Gower’s Traité. If this is indeed the case, we have here an example in which a translator’s prologue was created by the same person who compiled the manuscript itself, suggesting even more strongly an intentional thematic link between prologue and manuscript. As mentioned at the outset of this chapter, manuscript evidence of this nature can only be partial, not least because it is often difficult to tell exactly when the works within one set of covers came together. It is rarely a straightforward matter to determine where a text is from and who it was for originally; establishing the provenance of a manuscript is sometimes an easier task, although the extant copies of a text may be several steps removed from the author’s holograph and intentions, and almost always are. However, at least in terms of linguistic capabilities, the descriptions of audience in prologues would seem to be mirrored in the abilities of the users of these manuscripts. We now turn to a group of manuscripts containing a text whose prologue states that it is for an audience group which is both broad and one with particular linguistic and social needs: women. The late-fourteenth-century gynaecological treatise The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing, a translation of the widely circulated compendium of women’s medicine known as the Trotula, claims to have been translated into English ‘be-cawse that women of oure tunge cunne bettir reede and vnderstonde this langage than ony other’.55 The prologue is striking in its differentiation of male and female linguistic abilities (which must in large measure mean educational opportunities), in its warnings to any potential male readers, and in its description of an independent female literary sphere established through the use of English. Moreover, as has been seen with the manuscripts discussed above, the textual references to women readers would appear to be supported by the surviving codicological evidence. Due to the nature of the audience named, which is at once universal enough so as not to tie the original text to a particular social class, patron or geographical area (as was the case, for instance, with Handlyng Synne or William of Palerne), but one with needs specific enough to suggest that a certain type of manuscript context might be expected, The Knowing of Woman’s Kind is a valuable case study for exploring the link between prologues and the users of manuscripts in greater detail.

The Knowing of Woman ’s Kind and Women Audiences 56

T

he ensemble of Latin gynaecological treatises known as the Trotula, credited to a female medical practitioner named Trota from Salerno, southern Italy,

54

Yeager, ‘A Translation of the Traité’, p. 162. The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing: A Middle English Version of Material Derived from the Trotula and Other Sources, ed. by Alexandra Barratt (Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), p. 43. All references are to this edition. 56 An earlier version of this section has been published as Elizabeth Dearnley, ‘“Women of oure tunge cunne bettir reede and vnderstonde this langage”: Women and Vernacular Translation in Later 55

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in the eleventh or twelfth century, was probably the most popular compendium of women’s medicine to circulate in the Middle Ages.57 The name ‘Trotula’ itself would seem to have been instantly recognisable across medieval Europe, and somewhat notorious; the Wife of Bath’s bugbear, Jankyn’s ‘Book of Wicked Wives’, for example, includes ‘Trotula’ along with Tertullian, Crisippus, Heloise and a host of other more established auctores in its arsenal of misogynist propaganda.58 There are six known English translations of the Trotula,59 the earliest of which has become known as The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing after the name given to it in one of its five manuscript witnesses (London, British Library, MS Additional 12195).60 Large amounts of this text are translated directly from a fairly literal thirteenth-century French translation of the Liber de sinthomatibus mulierum (which came to form the first section of the Trotula ensemble);61 the English text is also based on a Latin epitome of the sixth-century gynaecological treatise Non omnes quidem (drawn primarily from Musico’s Gynaecia) and the Gynaecia Cleopatrae, among other sources.62 This tallies with information provided in the English prologue. In Cambridge University Library MS Ii. 6. 33 the text describes its sources in the following way: Wherfore in the worship of oure Lady and all holy seyntes I thynke to do myn ententif besynesse to drawe owte of Frensh and Latyn into Inglysh the diuerse causes of here maladies, the signes that ye shal know hem by and the cures helpynge to hem, aftir the tretys of diuers maistris that han translatid owte of Greek in to Latyn and Frensh. And be-cawse that women of oure tunge cunne bettir reede and vnderstonde this langage than ony other, and Medieval England’, in Jefferson and Putter, Multilingualism in Medieval Britain, pp. 259–72. The text which became known as the Trotula is formed of three treatises on women’s medicine which originally circulated independently: the Liber de sinthomatibus mulierum (Book on the Conditions of Women), De curis mulierum (On Treatments for Women) and De ornatu mulierum (On Women’s Cosmetics). These were later combined into a single compendium, probably in the late twelfth century. For the compilation of the Trotula ensemble, see The Trotula: A Medieval Compendium of Women’s Medicine, ed. and trans. by Monica H. Green (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), pp. 52–8; eadem, Making Women’s Medicine Masculine, pp. 45–69. 58 ‘The Wife of Bath’s Prologue’, CT, Fragment D, line 677. 59 These are given in Monica H. Green, ‘A Handlist of the Latin and Vernacular Manuscripts of the SoCalled Trotula Texts: Part II: The Vernacular Texts and Latin Re-Writings’, Scriptorium 51 (1997), pp.  80–104, at pp.  84–89. Green has since identified a fragmentary sixth translation, contained in London, British Library, MS Additional 34111, fols 72v–73v, along with a possible seventh in London, British Library, MS Harley 3383, fols 86v–87v. I am grateful to Monica Green for this information. 60 The Knowing is contained in MSS Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce 37; Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 483; Cambridge University Library Ii. 6. 33; British Library Sloane 421A; British Library Additional 12195. 61 The Liber de sinthomatibus mulierum was not associated with Trota during its independent circulation; only De curis mulierum is attributed to her, and is clearly drawn from her medical practice, although Trota may not have written the text herself. See Green, Making Women’s Medicine Masculine, p. 62. 62 Green, A Handlist, pp. 84–5. 57

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euery woman lettrid [maye] reede it to other vnlettrid and helpe and conseyle hem in here maladyes with-owte shewynge here dishese to man, I haue this drawen and wreten it in Inglish.63 After outlining its sources and discussing its reasons for using English, the text adds a further caveat regarding audience: And yif it falle any man to reede it, I praye hym and charge hym on oure lady behalf that he reede it in no despite and slaunder of no woman, nor for no cause but for the hele and helpe of hem dredynge that vengeance myght falle to hym, as it hath doon to other that hath shewid here prevites in slawndrynge of hem, vnderstondynge in certeyn that they haue non othir evillys women that now be on lyve than tho women had that now be seyntis in heuene.64 This is a text about women which appears to dissuade any potential Jankyns, vehemently defending women against the possibility of male reading (regarded as intrusive or prurient) and censure. Whilst translators’ prologues often describe their sources and audience in some detail, there are very few which differentiate women from men in this way,65 and the ostensible reasons for it here are clearly very particular, indeed gynaecological. This raises the question of whether these remarks can be taken at face value: are the translator’s comments a rhetorical trope related to the text’s female-centric subject matter, or was it the intent of the translator, at least, that women should form the principal readership and audience for this text? Explicit addresses to female readers usually speak to specific individuals or communities rather than women in general, and appear most frequently in devotional literature, such as the Ancrene Wisse’s address to ‘mine leoue sustren’ (although in this case a female audience is not given explicitly as a reason for writing in English).66 One might also cite several translations of the Benedictine Rule which declare themselves to have been translated with women in mind; the Northern metrical version, from the early fifteenth century, was allegedly translated ‘tyll women to make it couth | that leris no latyn in thar youth’.67 The translation of the Benedictine Rule in Washington D.C., Library of Congress, MS Faye-Bond 4 discussed in the previous chapter, which states in its colophon that it was made for a ‘lady’, and which is directed towards ‘for tho that connen non frensch, and of vnderstondynge beth ylet’, is a further example. A few courtesy books, too, were addressed to 63

CUL MS Ii.6.33, fol. 33r–v, ed. by Barratt, The Knowing of Woman’s Kind, pp. 41, 43. Ibid., fol. 33v, ed. by Barratt, The Knowing of Woman’s Kind, p. 43. 65 Another example is the mid-fifteenth-century English Register of Godstow Nunnery, whose male translator states that he has made this translation in the nuns’ ‘modyr tonge’ so that the women do not need to rely on ‘trewe lernyd men that all tymes be not redy hem to teche and counsayl’. The English Register of Godstow Priory, ed. Clark, vol. 1, p. 25; see also Chapter 6, n. 22. 66 Ancrene Wisse, ed. by J. R. R. Tolkien, with an Introduction by N. R. Ker, EETS O.S. 249 (Oxford: OUP, 1962), p. 11. 67 London, British Library, MS Cotton Vespasian A. XXV, fol. 66r. See also the translator’s prologue to the c. 1450 English Register of Godstow Nunnery, discussed in Chapter 6, n. 22. 64

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women. The French Livre du Chevalier de La Tour Landry (1371–72), written for the author’s daughters, addresses ‘mes filles’.68 The prologue to Caxton’s 1484 translation refreshes and renews the idea of a female audience, declaring that his version was made ‘by the request and desyre of a noble lady which hath brouȝt forth many noble J fayr douȝters [...] And for very ziele and loue that she hath alway had to her fayr children [...] hath desired J required me to translate J reduce this said book’. Caxton also directs the book towards women more generally, stating that it contains ‘good ensamples for al maner peple [...] but in especial for ladyes J gentilwymen’.69 The Trotula translations, however, are addressed to more generalised female audiences with relative frequency. Monica Green, the principal scholar to have worked on the Trotula texts, states that, of twenty-one extant vernacular translations, eight address women: two in English including The Knowing of Woman’s Kind, one in Catalan,70 one in Dutch, one in German and three in French.71 However, Green suggests that a female address does not necessarily imply an intended female readership, citing several examples of Trotula translations in various European languages where references to women readers are probably mere rhetorical gestures, with both internal references within the texts and codicological evidence pointing to their having been intended for male use.72 One of these eight translations is the French source of The Knowing of Woman’s Kind (sometimes known as Quant Dex nostre Seignor, after its incipit). When it reaches the point where audience and language are discussed, it is illuminating to compare the French original with the English translation in order to assess the likelihood that female audiences are genuinely being addressed in either case. The English prologue is a fairly close translation of its French counterpart, with word-for-word translation in places, and the most complete version of the French text is contained in London, British Library, MS Sloane 3525. Although not the version used by the English translator, its completeness makes it a useful text for comparison.73 The Sloane version of the English prologue excerpts above reads thus:

68

Geoffrey de la Tour-Landry, Livre du Chevalier de La Tour Landry, ed. by Anatole de Montaiglon, Le livre du chevalier de La Tour Landry pour l’enseignement de ses filles (Paris: P. Jannet, 1854), e.g. p. 3. 69 The Book of the Knyght of the Towre prologue, pp. 86–7. 70 Although declaring in its incipit that it is called ‘Trotula’, this Catalan tract on cosmetics and hygiene is not a direct translation of the Trotula ensemble, but a vernacular reworking of a Latin De Ornatu (which itself took some material from the Trotula). Green, ‘A Handlist’, p. 103. 71 Green, Making Women’s Medicine Masculine, p. 166, ‘Table 4:1. Medieval Translations of the Trotula and their Audiences’; also eadem, ‘The Possibilities of Literacy and the Limits of Reading: Women and the Gendering of Medical Literacy’, in Women’s Healthcare in the Medieval West: Texts and Contexts, Variorum Collected Studies (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000), Essay VII, pp. 62–76, at pp. 62–74, ‘Table 2: Medical Texts Commissioned By and/or Addressed to Women, 1100–1533’. 72 See Green, Making Women’s Medicine Masculine, Ch. 4, esp. pp. 166–98. 73 The version of Quant Dex closest to the Middle English Knowing appears to be a fragment from a thirteenth-century Anglo-Norman copy contained in London, Public Record Office, MS E 163/22/2/1, fol. 1r–v. See Monica H. Green, ‘Salerno on the Thames: The Genesis of AngloNorman Medical Literature’, in Wogan-Browne, The French of England, pp. 220–31, at p. 224, n. 12.

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Et pour ce ke femes sunt plus huntoses de dire lor enfermetez as homes ke as femes, si lor faz icest liure en langage ke eles lentendent que les unes sachent les autres aidier. Bien sachent que ie i met del mielz ke lor besoigne a lor enfermetez que ie ai trouue des diz Ypocras et Galien et Constentin & Cleopatras, & ici troueront dont li mal uiennent & comant porront guarir.74 [And because women are more ashamed to describe their illnesses to men than to women, I am composing this book for them in a language which they can understand, so that the ones who know it can help others. They should know well that I have put here the best things that they need for their infirmities that I have found in the words of Hippocrates, Galen, Constantine and Cleopatra, and here they will find where their maladies come from and how they can be cured.] The English translator considerably expands on the few lines provided in the French source and adds several remarks about the English language. Where the French text merely mentions a non-specific ‘langage ke eles lentendent’, and rather vaguely cites the ‘diz’ of various medical auctores, the English translation both names the specific languages – French and Latin – that form the basis for this version and indicates the language, namely Greek, that those sources were taken from in turn. The lengthier encouragement of women readers, and admonition of male readers, also appears to be original. If we return to the Latin prologue of the Liber de sinthomatibus mulierum, from which Quant Dex was translated, we can find where the French translator has taken his cues from in turn: Et quoniam ipse sue condicionis fragilitatem uerecundia et rubore fatentur egritudinum suarum que circa partes secretiores eueniunt, medicis non audent angustias reuelare. Earum ergo miseranda calamitas et maxime cuiusdam mulieris gratia animum meum sollicitat ut contra predictas egritudines earum prouideam sanitati. Vt ergo ex libris Ypocratis, Galieni, Constantini pociora decerperem labore non minimo mulierum gratia desudaui. Vt et causas egritudinum et curas exponerem cum causis. [And because only with shame and embarrassment do they confess the fragility of the condition of their diseases which occur around their secret parts, they do not dare reveal their distress to (male) physicians. Therefore, [because of] their misfortune, which ought to be pitied and especially for the sake of a certain woman, my soul was incited to provide some remedy for their above-mentioned diseases. Therefore, for the sake of women I sweated no small labour to gather the better things from the books of Hippocrates and

74

MS Sloane 3525, fol. 246v.

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Galen and Constantine, so that I might explain both the causes and the cures of these diseases.]75 The French prologue’s main addition to the source is the assertion that it is written ‘en langage ke eles lentendent’, replacing the Latin author’s declaration that he has created his text at the promptings of ‘cuiusdam mulieris’. The translation into the vernacular allows a reference to women in general to replace the particular woman referred to in the Latin as an explanation for the text’s composition, potentially opening the text to all women. In these three versions we can overhear a kind of Chinese whispers in the formation of the prologue. Does the English text take its remarks about audience from its French source, and ultimately from the Latin, or does the English prologue contain an independently conceived description of its intended readers? In the case of The Knowing of Woman’s Kind, the English translator’s expansion of the French text and apparently original remarks make it more probable, I think, that its remarks about its female audience were intended sincerely. The reference to shame, present in the French and Latin texts, is removed; in its place are warnings against a male readership, and the suggestion that men might slander women after reading about their ailments. The Knowing of Woman’s Kind is the first extant text in the Trotula translation tradition to voice this concern about intrusive or prurient readings. This sentiment is expanded upon by the compiler of the widely circulated mid-fifteenth-century gynaecological text, The Sickness of Women (not a translation of the Trotula, but of the gynaecological chapters of Gilbertus Anglicus’ Compendium of Medicine), whose prologue claims that it has been translated for women so that ‘oo womman may help another in hir sikenes and nat discure hir privitees to suche vncurteys men’, who love women only because of their sexual attractiveness and despise them for their illnesses.76 This later text suggests that its female readers ‘shamen for drede of reprevyng [...] and of discuryng of vncurteys men’; here the cause of shame, in contrast with Quant Dex and the Latin Trotula, results from inappropriate male behaviour rather than the intrinsic shamefulness of female ailments.77 Green has written of the ‘tug-ofwar’ between men and women over the control of gynaecological texts, with a more masculinised gynaecological practice emerging over the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries when gynaecology developed as a profession.78 As the idea 75

Liber de sinthomatibus mulierum, Oxford, Magdalen College, MS 173, fol. 246v; edition and translation in Green, Making Women’s Medicine Masculine, pp. 50–1. Green’s 2001 edition of the Trotula uses a mid-thirteenth-century version of the Latin text, which is much later than the source text used by the Quant Dex translator. 76 The Sickness of Women, ed. by Monica H. Green and Linne R. Mooney, in Sex, Aging and Death in a Medieval Medical Compendium: Trinity College Cambridge MS R.14.52. Its Texts, Language and Scribe, 2 vols, ed. by M. Teresa Tavormina (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2006), vol. 2, pp. 455–568, at p. 485. 77 Ibid. 78 Green, Making Women’s Medicine Masculine, esp. Ch. 6.

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of female medical authority was increasingly questioned and marginalised, and the name of ‘Trotula’ herself came to be invoked for a variety of views on women, Green charts a conceptual shift in the presentation of Trotula-type material from ‘women’s diseases’ to the more threatening ‘women’s secrets’; some later redactions of gynaecological texts contained fewer practical, therapeutic treatments of female ailments in favour of a narrower, even prurient focus on female fertility and sexuality.79 We are reminded again of the Wife of Bath’s husband, reading his Book of Wicked Wives ‘for his desport’; the Wife’s listing of ‘Trotula’ among the texts ‘alle [...] bounded in o volume’ suggests that a gynaecological work may have been included, and it is at any rate clear that Jankyn is a man reading a book about women in order to denounce their wickedness, exactly what the texts quoted above anticipate.80 The idea that male readers might potentially misuse a gynaecological text in this way would seem to lie at the heart of the warning in The Knowing of Woman’s Kind, and the even stronger proto-feminist sense of ‘sisterhood’ expressed in the later Sickness of Women. Again, the awareness of this problem in our prologue suggests a more thoughtful and sincere consideration of women readers and their needs. The references to women in the prologue to The Knowing of Woman’s Kind are largely borne out by textual and manuscript evidence. Almost all remarks in the text are made in direct second-person addresses to the (presumably) female reader, except for a few lines referring to a midwife in the third person.81 Further clues in the main body of the text suggest a wealthy readership, such as its warnings of the dangers of wearing tight girdles and riding during pregnancy, and its fastidious reference to a growth ‘as hard as it war þe hand of a laberer’.82 Moreover, at least four of the manuscripts contain evidence suggesting that these copies might have been produced for women. All but the Bodley manuscript are small and handbook-like, suggesting that they might have been suitable for practical use by midwives and other women (the Bodley manuscript measures only 165mm × 228mm, but is a somewhat more substantial object, containing fourteen other texts on a medical and gynaecological theme). They are the size of the Books of Hours commonly associated with female readers, and would appear to be private copies rather than textbooks for physicians.83 This contrasts, for example, with Sloane 3525, a bulky, sparingly but

79

Ibid., esp. Chs 2 and 5. ‘The Wife of Bath’s Prologue’, lines 699–85. Green, Making Women’s Medicine Masculine, pp. 225–37, also suggests that Jankyn’s Book of Wicked Wives could conceivably have included some version of a Trotula text. 81 There is not space to discuss the textual evidence at length here; however, it has been addressed by Green, Making Women’s Medicine Masculine, pp. 183–6. 82 For a discussion of audience see Monica Green, ‘Obstetrical and Gynaecological Texts in Middle English’, in Women’s Healthcare in the Medieval West, Essay IV, 53–88, at pp. 58–9, 66. Alexandra Barratt has suggested Julian of Norwich as a further possible reader; see Barratt, ‘“In the Lowest Part of Our Need”: Julian and Medieval Gynaecological Writing’, in Julian of Norwich: A Book of Essays, ed. by Sandra J. McEntire (New York: Garland, 1998), pp. 239–56. 83 Fuller descriptions of the manuscripts are given in Barratt, The Knowing of Woman’s Kind, pp. 11–18. 80

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skilfully illuminated manuscript written in a Textura hand, which seems more likely to have been a reference copy than a practical medical handbook. The Douce text, written in the first half of the fifteenth century, is the only one in its codex, and its size (100mm × 137mm) and slimness suggest, as Green maintains, that it could conceivably have circulated independently amongst laywomen with medical interests.84 The Cambridge text, written around the middle of the fifteenth century, also appears to have circulated independently for a time – again, perhaps among laywomen – before being bound with the other text in the codex (another English Trotula redaction, The Book of Rota) by the sixteenth century. It is in a highly legible Secretary hand, and its red initials, paraph marks and clear layout make it easy to read in a way perhaps suited to a group of women not accustomed to using books. The version of the text in the Additional manuscript, dating from the second half of the fifteenth century, is still more user-friendly; its presentation is less formal and more enthusiastic than that of the Cambridge manuscript, with a title and extensive rubrication. Barratt suggests that these features may have been designed for a person less used to books, which could point to a female reader.85 Green disagrees with this, pointing to the other astrological and medical texts in the codex which are not usually associated with women audiences.86 However, based on the text alone, at least, Barratt’s argument seems persuasive. The first folio is slightly discoloured, suggesting that the text could have circulated semi-independently for a time (although they were not of independent origin, as its final folio contains another astrological text in the same hand); it is possible, perhaps, that the manuscript was produced for a family containing both male and female readers. The Sloane manuscript, written in an early sixteenth-century hand, shows signs of being home-made for personal use; it is small and light, containing only one other text, also of a medical character (‘The Regiment of Health’), and is written on poor-quality paper in a non-calligraphic, if sure, hand. The Sloane manuscript also adds ‘& at the pleasure of my ladye’ to the sentence ‘I haue this drawen and wreten it in Inglish’, further suggesting that this manuscript might have been produced for a particular female patron.87 A more mixed audience may have been possible for the copy of the Knowing of Woman’s Kind contained in BL MS Add. 12195. Dating from the late fifteenth century, this manuscript is a small (147mm × 103–108mm), fat book containing a large number of texts in four originally separate booklets; all, with the exception of Section A, were bound together before the sixteenth century.88 The manuscript as a 84

Green, ‘Obstetrical and Gynaecological Texts in Middle English’, pp. 58–9. Barratt, The Knowing of Woman’s Kind, p. 37. 86 Green, Making Women’s Medicine Masculine, p. 186. 87 MS Sloane 421A, fol. 2r. 88 For a full list of contents and a description, see David Thomson, A Descriptive Catalogue of Middle English Grammatical Texts (New York: Garland, 1979), pp. 193–211); see also Barratt, The Knowing of Woman’s Kind, pp. 16–18. Barratt and Thomson have labelled the sections differently: Barratt has named the four booklets Sections A–D, while Thomson has made further subdivisions (for rationale see p. 100), labelled Sections A–O. I have followed Barratt’s labelling; Section A is the same in both cases. 85

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whole would appear to have its origins in Norfolk, and is an intriguing miscellany of Latin and English texts, ranging from medical recipes, alchemy and astrology to grammatical treatises and devotional works, written in eleven different hands. It would appear to have been a household book of some kind, containing texts which would appeal to both male and female audiences. Section D (fols 122r–190v), which contains the Knowing (fols 157r–185r) and eight other items, is made up of medical, magical and scientific treatises and recipes. Two of these texts are also English translations: the first item in the booklet is a translation of Johannes Paulinus’ Experimenta de serpente, and the third is a treatise on natural science and astronomy whose prologue claims that it is translated from Greek: Here be gynys the wyse book of phylysophis and astromys conceuede and made of the wysest philisophers and astromyers þat euer was seyn in the world [...] and ynglychs man ful wyse and wel vndyrstandyng of fylosophys and of astronomie stodiyd and compylyd the book owt of grew in to ynglysche graciowsly89 The presence of three translated treatises in a single booklet suggests a more general interest in translated learning, and, more pertinently, a greater familiarity with English than with Latin or French. This is further supported by the presence of the Latin grammatical works contained in Section C (fols 59r–121v), although as it is unclear when the two booklets were joined these may only have been known to later owners of the manuscript. It is perhaps significant that the version of the Knowing prologue contained in this manuscript does not contain the assertion, found in MSS CUL Ii.6.33, Douce 37 and Bodley 483, that the text was translated into English ‘be-cawse that women of oure tunge cunne bettir reede and vnderstonde this langage than ony other’; in Add. 12195 the narrator merely implies a link between language and gender by joining the appropriate statements with ‘þerfor’: I thynke to do myn intent and bessynes for to schew after the french and latyn þe divers [causes] of þe maladis and þe signes þat ye schall know theme by and þe cures helpyng to them [...] þerfor every woman Redet vn to oþer þat can not so do and helpe hem and consell theme in her maladis with owt schewyng her desses vnto mann.90 Whilst nothing definite is known about the compilers or early ownership of this manuscript, Green has suggested that the combination of medical and astrological texts may point to its being used by a physician, not necessarily one involved with the delivery of children himself, who might want to know about childbirth in order to cast horoscopes.91 This seems a plausible hypothesis, and, moreover, one which

89

MS Add. 12195, fol. 127v. Ibid., fol. 157r. 91 Green, ‘Obstetrical and Gynaecological Texts in Middle English’, p. 59. 90

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could possibly explain the slightly less overtly gendered prologue (though it would be unwise to draw any definite conclusions about this). It would seem, then, that the explicit address to female audiences in Middle English translators’ prologues cannot be dismissed as a purely rhetorical trope, especially when taken in conjunction with the rest of the text and manuscript evidence. It is true that authority can be taken from a source text, and it would seem probable that the address to women in Quant Dex authorised the English translator to some extent to address female readers in the same way; however, the fact that The Knowing of Woman’s Kind retained and expanded upon the address to women suggests that its author intended the remarks sincerely. Whilst these prologues are an effective way of symbolising the feminine nature of the vernacular as the mother tongue in which women did much (perhaps most) of their reading, it is also likely that they often intend a reasonably accurate portrayal of their intended audience, and are an additional way of seeing how the translator envisaged the role his translation would play in reading communities. The English language is here shown as constructing a gender, not a nation, a linguistically independent sphere where ‘euery woman lettrid [maye] reede it to other vnlettrid’, and it seems likely that this could indeed have happened in female reading groups. The images of women readers in translators’ prologues, therefore, are another useful resource for examining the evidence for female audiences of English translations.

Mouvance, Prologues and Mouvance within Prologues

H

aving explored the relationship between the images of audiences found in ‘original’ prologues (in as much as these can be established) and the genuine beneficiaries of these texts, we shall now consider the extent to which the changing needs of different audiences throughout the life of a text may be both reflected in and actively shaped by its prologue. Small textual changes which may relate to the particular circumstances of individual manuscript owners have already been observed in the prologues to the British Library Sloane and Additional copies of The Knowing of Woman’s Kind; here this phenomenon shall be examined in more detail. It is well known that in the manuscript culture of the Middle Ages there was no single, fixed version of a text; every time a work was copied out there was the possibility that an innovative scribe, or a manuscript compiler or patron with a particular vested interest, might cause certain parts to be omitted, embellished or otherwise altered. Paul Zumthor’s theory of mouvance, which acknowledges ‘une mobilité essentielle du texte médiéval’, has been the most influential in developing an awareness of this phenomenon.92 The omission or interpolation of lines relating 92

Paul Zumthor, Essai de poétique médiévale (Paris: Éditions de Seuil, 1972), p. 71; see also p. 507 for definition of mouvance); see also idem, ‘Intertextualité et mouvance’, Littérature 41 (1981),

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to the circumstances or linguistic capabilities of the audience, the content of the work which follows or any other aspect of the main text may all reflect the differing needs of particular audiences. Moreover, there is sometimes an almost symbiotic relationship between prologues and the texts they introduce. A prologue which is particularly vague or ‘open’93 about the contents of the work which follows, such as prologues to encyclopaedic works or story collections, allows future compilers to alter the main text without going outside the rubric stipulated by the prologue; conversely, an altered main text may cause the prologue to be changed to reflect its new contents. As far as can be determined, it would appear that prologues were often the last part of a work to be written. Many read as though they were written retrospectively. Mannyng’s Chronicle, for instance, begins by describing the place in which he worked, suggesting that it must have been written after the main text had been completed: In þe thrid Edwardes tyme was I when I wrote alle þis story. In þe house of Sixille I was a throwe.94 Laȝamon’s prologue, too, reads as though it is describing a completed process; in relating his travels ‘wide ȝond þas leode’, and describing his working process, using the past tense, in ‘þa þre boc þrumde to are’, at the beginning of the Brut, the impression is given of a commentary on what will follow. As argued in Chapter 3, Laȝamon’s Brut prologue shows signs of having been influenced by the epilogue to Gaimar’s Estoire des Engleis, which was clearly written retrospectively, revealing that the poem took fourteen months to write (‘Gaimar i mist marz e averil | e tuz les dusze mais | ainz k’il oust translaté des reis’).95 Although one might more properly expect an epilogue to have been written at the end of a translation project, the similarities between translators’ prologues and epilogues in terms of content and aims – and in this case the apparent direct influence – suggest that prologues were composed in the same manner. Sometimes the later composition of prologues was taken still further. As Allen has observed, it is not unknown for texts to accumulate new prologues after their initial circulation; she notes the ‘extreme’ case of a copy of Peter Riga’s Aurora which contains four prologues, not all by the author.96 This does not appear to have been the case with any of the prologues in the corpus, although that shared by Sir Orfeo and Lay le Freine was, presumably, composed at a separate date to one of these texts. However, several of the English prologues in my corpus do show signs of having

pp. 8–16. See below for a discussion of this term. 94 Mannyng, Chronicle, lines 139–41. 95 Estoire des Engleis, lines 6432–4. 96 Allen, ‘The Manuel des Pechiez and the Scholastic Prologue’, p. 458. 93

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been altered by later readers, scribes or manuscript compilers in a way which suggests later reactions to the text they introduce. One of the first significant discussions of the idea that scribes might edit texts rather than simply copy them is that of Elspeth Kennedy in an examination of alterations made in manuscripts of the Lancelot cycle, where she suggests that ‘[w]hile not true redactors, for they have not fundamentally remodelled the text, the scribes were often “editors” in the sense that they seem to have aimed at producing a text which would be agreeable to their readers’.97 To be sure, not all textual changes are necessarily due to a deliberate editorial policy; they can occur as a result of scribal error, or by the oral transmission of texts, or simply by a lack of importance attached in the Middle Ages to the existence of a single, ‘pure’ form of a work.98 However, in such cases where the changes made in later copies of texts appear rather more purposeful than aleatory, they are likely to reflect later audience interests. Certain types of texts have been more susceptible to alteration than others. Generally speaking, in the Middle Ages the more auctorite a text possessed, the less subject it has been to scribal intervention. With the Bible as the ultimate auctoritas and the most unalterable book of all, religious and philosophical works (those closer to ‘sentence’ than ‘solaas’, to use Chaucer’s Host’s continuum99) written by notable auctores tended to be more stable than lighter, more secular texts whose authorship and auctorite are less established. Although they frequently developed substantial commentary traditions in manuscript margins, the text in the centre was usually left untouched.100 However, there are some medieval texts, transcending any kind of ‘solaas–sentence’ division, whose very form and style invite subsequent readers to adapt them to suit their own purposes. One of the factors encouraging these adaptations is, I would argue, the presentation of the text in the prologue. This can be seen in one of the most altered texts in the European Middle Ages, the endlessly adaptable Roman de la Rose. The ‘polymorphous’ nature of this text (to use Sylvia Huot’s term)101 has encouraged the addition of many hundreds of lines 97

Elspeth Kennedy, ‘The Scribe as Editor’, in Mélanges de langue et de littérature du Moyen Âge et de la Renaissance offerts à Jean Frappier, professeur à la Sorbonne, par ses collègues, ses élèves et ses amis, 2 vols (Geneva: Droz, 1970), vol. 1, pp. 523–31, at p. 531. The idea of scribes actively editing texts is at least as old as George Kane’s edition of the A-Text of Piers Plowman, in which he differentiates between mechanical error and ‘scribal editing’ in the ‘living text’ of Piers Plowman (pp. 115–16); see William Langland, Piers Plowman: The A Version. Will’s Visions of Piers Plowman and Do-well. An Edition in the Form of Trinity College Cambridge MS R.3.14 Corrected from Other Manuscripts, with Variant Readings, ed. by George Kane (London: Athlone Press, 1960), pp. 115–72, esp. pp. 115–46. However, Kennedy’s study is the first to focus on this phenomenon. 98 Zumthor, Essai de poétique medieval, p.  72, has suggested that such changes should not be considered ‘corruption’, but rather as variant forms, ‘pas [...] une «faute» mais [...] une régénération rendue possible par la mobilité textuelle’. 99 ‘Tales of best sentence and moost solaas’: ‘General Prologue’, CT, Fragment A, line 798. 100 For examples of these on the page, see Henri-Jean Martin and Jean Vezin (eds), Mise en page et mise en texte du livre manuscript (Paris: Éditions du Cercle de la Librairie – Promodis, 1990), esp. Ch. 7, e.g. p. 182. 101 Sylvia Huot, The Romance of the Rose and its Medieval Readers: Interpretation, Reception, Manuscript Transmission (Cambridge: CUP, 1993), p. 18.

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not written by Guillaume or Jean, such as the account of Virgil’s mirror added to the description of the ‘mireors perilleus’ in Cambridge University Library MS Add. 2993, or, most audaciously of all, the remanieur Gui de Mori’s insertion of his own name into the roll call of Rose authors during Amour’s speech at the centre of the text.102 Thanks largely to the work of Huot, it has become widely recognised that the encyclopaedic nature of the Rose’s subject matter might encourage readers to select, and subsequently copy out, the sections they enjoyed the most or found most edifying, and, as David Hult has argued, the dual authorship and unfinished nature of the text are themselves an invitation to those such as Gui de Mori to make their own additions.103 However, the idea that the Rose is potentially open-ended is also suggested from the very beginning of the text, in its prologue. The description of the poem by Guillaume as a book ‘ou l’art d’amours est toute enclose’ does not reveal precisely of what this art of love consists; readers changing the text to fit with their own ideas of the art of love are not, therefore, going outside the guidelines stipulated at the poem’s outset.104 Whilst prologues are not the only factor encouraging such changes, texts which have been described as ‘open’ in this way105 tend to reflect this openness in their opening lines. The same openness can be observed in the prologues in the corpus which introduce collections of religious stories or exempla. Medieval story collections, whether religious or secular, are often held together by a prologue whose inclusiveness allows items to be added or subtracted piecemeal without deviating from the stipulated aims of the book; Chaucer’s famous advice to daintier readers to ‘Turne over the leef and chese another tale’ if the Miller’s ribaldry is not to their taste is a direct invitation – indeed an imperative – to read and, perhaps, compile stories according to individual tastes, and the various different orders in which the Canterbury Tales are found in manuscript copies, as well as the number of continuations to the tales written after Chaucer’s death, indicate that his audiences took him at his word.106 Such expansive claims as the Cursor Mundi’s ‘Cursur o werld man aght it call, | For almast it ouer-rennes all’ or the Speculum Vitae’s ‘Þat Mirour of Lyf to yhow may be | In whilk yhe may al yhou lyf se’ suggest that their contents could be, quite literally, anything, and the differences in manuscript copies in terms of the sections of texts 102

Ibid., pp. 196–8 (Virgil’s Mirror), pp. 85–129 (Gui de Mori). See also the discussion in Chapter 4 of the ways in which the two Dutch translators inserted themselves into the text. 103 David F. Hult, Self-Fulfilling Prophecies. 104 See, for instance, Gui de Mori’s remaniment contained in MS Tornai, Bibl. de Ville 101, which contains a colophon which reworks and recasts Guillaume’s original prologue to incorporate Gui’s additions to the story. This is printed in Huot, The Romance of the Rose and its Medieval Readers, p. 123. 105 Cf. Manfred Görlach’s description of Middle English religious story collections such as the South English Legendary as ‘”open texts” with no closely defined scope, from which omissions could be made, or to which new legends could be added at the pleasure of the individual user, or whenever the collection was put to a new use’. Görlach, The Textual Tradition of the South English Legendary (Ilkley: Scolar Press for Leeds Texts and Monographs, 1974), p. 6. 106 For an overview of these, see John M. Bowers, The Canterbury Tales: Fifteenth-Century Continuations and Additions (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 1992).

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included or omitted suggest that the compilers of these did not see their actions as going against the original aims of the work.107 If prologues can encourage mouvance within a text, mouvance can also occur within prologues themselves. Changing audience perceptions of a work or the changing milieu in which it was read can sometimes lead to certain phrases in prologues being omitted, altered or added in order to more accurately introduce it. To return to the example suggesting linguistic change with which I opened this chapter, the four extant manuscripts containing the revised ‘Southern version’ of the Cursor Mundi, created between c. 1400 and 1459, omit the following remarks on the prevalence of French literature (quoted here from London, British Library, MS Cotton Vespasian A. III, thought to be closest to the author’s original): Frankis rimes here I redd, Comunlik in ilk[a] sted, Mast es it wroght for frankis man: Quat is for him na frankis can? Of Ingland the nacion, Es Inglis man þar in commun.108 At the date of the original Cursor Mundi’s composition, when ‘Ingland the nacion’ was a much more nebulous entity, the author’s sense of writing a pioneering Englishlanguage version of the existing Anglo-Norman religious manuals available at the time would have been justified. By the first half of the fifteenth century, the perceived threat of ‘Frankis rimes’ would have receded, with English having gained the ascendency as a literary language, which, at least in the eyes of the Southern redactor, seems to have made such comments unnecessary.109 Another suggestive, still earlier example involving the perceived status of French is in the prologue to the 107

For major omissions and interpolations in the Speculum Vitae, see Venetia Nelson, ‘The Middle English Speculum Vitae: A Critical Edition of Part of the Text from Thirty-Five Manuscripts’, 2 vols (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Sidney, 1974), vol. 1, pp.  74–8; eadem, ‘Cot. Tiberius E. VII: A Manuscript of the Speculum Vitae’, English Studies 59 (1978), pp. 97–113. For the Cursor Mundi, see Thompson, The ‘Coursor Mundi’, Ch. 2. For the Northern Homily Cycle, see The Northern Homily Cycle: The Expanded Version in MSS Harley 4196 and Cotton Tiberius E vii, ed. by Saara Nevanlinna, Mémoires de la Société Néophilologique de Helsinki 38 (Helsinki: Société Néophilologique, 1972–84) vol. 1, pp. 1–4. 108 Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, lines 237–42. The Southern version is contained in MSS London, College of Arms, Arundel LVII; Trinity College; Cambridge, R.3.8; Oxford, Bodleian Library, Laud Misc. 416; London, British Library, Add. 36983. For a much fuller treatment of this version, and the ways in which it differs from the older version published by Morris, see the introductory material in volumes I and V of The Southern Version of Cursor Mundi, ed. by Sarah Horrall, 5 vols (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1978–2000). 109 See Horrall, The Southern Version of Cursor Mundi, vol. I, p. 342, n. to lines 231–50. Horrall suggests that this may have been due to ignorance rather than deliberate design, adding that ‘the southern translator [...] would be unaware of the language of the sources’. Whilst this may or may not be the case (although presumably the southern redactor would not have known them in such detail as did the original author), the different linguistic milieu in and for which the Southern version was produced is strikingly illustrated here.

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Otho version of Laȝamon’s Brut, which makes no mention of Wace as a source, only citing the Latin and English books used by the poet and suggesting that the third source text in his list was written separately by ‘Austin’ (named as the second author of the second book in the Caligula manuscript): Anoþer he nom of Latin. þat makede Seinte Albin. Boc he nom þan þridde. an leide þar amidde. þat makede Austin. þat follo[ȝ]t bro[ȝ]te hider in.110 The existence of the Otho manuscript suggests that at least one Brut reviser felt that a French source was less desirable to acknowledge than the ‘Latin’ or Englisse boc’.111 Other prologues make more subtle changes, which nevertheless suggest that the texts they introduce may have been read differently. For instance, the Richard Coer de Lyon prologue in the Auchinleck manuscript differs from the equivalent passage in Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, MS 175/96 (c. 1400–50), the version used in Brunner’s edition. Although both versions agree that romances are of French origin, and paint both author and audience as patriotic in their desire for English-language texts and English heroes, the Caius prologue does not have the Auchinleck’s lines 7–12 (about the fact that some men write Latin texts which are understood by ‘clerkes’, and that romances are made by Frenchmen112), having in its place four lines which inform the audience that romances are read both in England and in France, and emphasise the possibility of creating new romances in either country: Ffele romaunses men maken newe Off goode knyȝtes, stronge and trewe; Off here dedys men rede romaunce, Boþe in Engeland and in Ffraunce.113 It is impossible to determine which is the ‘original’ version of the prologue; it is perhaps more likely that the Auchinleck version, being the earlier of the two by a century, better represents the prologue written by the translator, although this can by no means be assumed.114 I have already mentioned the particular linguistic and patriotic concerns which may have informed the production of the Auchinleck manuscript; it may be that the scribe wished to emphasise the home-grown nature of the text as an English romance at a time when French romances were dominant. Alternatively, 110

Brut, Otho version, lines 16–18; compare with Caligula version, lines 14–23. For a full-length study on the differences between the Otho and Caligula versions and the significance of these within the context of scribal practice, see Bryan, Collaborative Meaning in Medieval Scribal Culture. 112 For the Auchinleck version see the online transcription of the manuscript at [accessed 24 November 2015]. 113 Richard Coer de Lyon, Caius version, lines 7–10. 114 Melissa Furrow makes the important point that the Auchinleck prologue is in a different metre (tailrhyme stanza rather than rhymed couplets) to the rest of the poem, and suggests that it is ‘clearly a fill-in, perhaps composed from memory to patch a missing beginning’. Furrow, Expectations of Romance: The Reception of A Genre in Medieval England (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2009), p. 66. 111

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the Caius manuscript’s assurance that romances were plentiful in both English and French may be a later alteration reflecting the fact that, a hundred years after the production of the Auchinleck manuscript, the large numbers of English-language texts which had since been written meant that such a statement was no longer appropriate. Whilst there are often no definite answers to such questions, it is important to consider what such small textual changes may reveal about the audience’s linguistic abilities and reading or listening preferences. Some prologues are changed to the extent of being replaced with something entirely new, suggesting more significant changes in the way the main text was viewed. Sometimes these changes to the prologue are also reflected in the work which follows. For instance, the South English Legendary possesses two different prologues, represented by the Bodleian Library manuscripts Laud. Misc. 108 and Ashmole 43 (named L and A by Manfred Görlach115), each apparently reflecting the aims of the compiler for the collection which follows. The earlier 6-line L prologue (preserved uniquely in this manuscript, the earliest extant copy of the Legendary) appears halfway through the work, but is used as an introduction to a number of texts of the January–March portion of the Legendary, which are arranged in the correct order. It begins by revealing that ‘Al þis bok is i-maked of holi dawes: and of holi mannes liues [...] Ase euerch feste after oþur: in þe ȝere doth come | Þe furste feste þat in þe ȝȝere comez’, emphasising that moving through the year from New Year’s Day is the intended plan.116 The 68-line A prologue is believed to have been written by the first of the two ‘A revisers’ who reworked various aspects of the Legendary and who introduced a more complicated structure to the text by appearing to treat moveable feasts and the temporal material as an integral part of the work.117 This prologue is considerably longer (beginning with a series of elaborate, well-crafted metaphors comparing the coming of Christ to ‘niwe frut . þat late bygan to springe’ and continuing with a description of ‘oure Louerdes knyȝtes’ going into battle),118 and removes the L prologue’s suggestion that it only contains ‘holi dawes: and of holi mannes liues’ in favour of presenting itself as a more comprehensively inclusive work, which will ‘bygynneþ at ȝeres day . for þat is þe uerste feste’, but will not be limited to saints’ lives.119 Our lack of knowledge concerning the specific arrangement of material in the collections for which these two prologues were first composed means that no firm conclusions can be reached on the extent of the link between

115

Görlach, Textual Tradition, p. viii. L prologue cited in Görlach, Textual Tradition, pp. 6–7, with analysis of its programmatic content. 117 For this suggestion, see Thomas R. Liszka, ‘The First “A” Redaction of the “South English Legendary”: Information from the “Prologue”’, Modern Philology 82 (1985), pp. 407–13, esp. p. 409. 118 A prologue, lines 1, 19. This is found in Charlotte D’Evelyn and Anna J. Mill (eds), The South English Legendary, 3 vols, EETS O.S. 235, 236, 244 (London: OUP, 1956–9), vol. 1, pp. 1–3, lines 1–68. All references are to this edition. 119 A prologue, line 67. 116

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prologue and text.120 However, it has been recognised by Oliver Pickering121 and Thomas R. Liszka that the first A reviser was something of an innovator, responsible for introducing a greater thematic unity to the text, and Liszka makes a convincing argument that the A prologue was intended to reflect these changes.122 It would be oversimplifying things in such cases to suggest a straightforward symbiotic relationship between prologue and text, where an open prologue results in an unstable text, which in turn may result in an altered or even entirely new prologue. However, there would certainly seem to be an element of this occurring in the case of the South English Legendary, and the other works examined in this section also suggest an interdependent relationship between prologue and text in terms of their relationship with their audience. This is the point at which the translations are held in the hands of the audience: readers and listeners, too, can become authors of the text and the prologue which precedes it, shaping it towards their own ends.

T

his investigation into the presentation of audience suggests that, like the other aspects of the prologue explored in earlier chapters, such as the role of the English language and the figure of the translator, the images of audiences offered in translators’ prologues are both archetypal and (although simplified) often realistic. The manuscript evidence examined here frequently supports the addresses made in prologues to various audience groups, and codicological indications that the manuscripts may have been used by different types of audience, such as the male and female readership posited for the copy of The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in BL Add. 12195, can be seen reflected in slight alterations in the prologue of that particular copy. The relationship between prologues and mouvance explored in the final section of this chapter demonstrates ways in which scribes and compilers could be sensitive to the suggestions made in prologues concerning the contents of the main text, and, conversely, shows that many felt free to alter the prologue itself if changing audience needs made older versions less relevant. Tracing these alterations reveal how, even when texts change in the course of manuscript transmission, prologues can still be used to reflect the contents of the revised text: where original authors may use the prologue to define both their text and their audience, audiences in turn may use the prologue to redefine the text.

120

For a discussion of reconstructing the South English Legendary, see Görlach, Textual Tradition, Ch. 2. 121 O. S. Pickering, ‘The Expository Temporale Poems of the South English Legendary’, Leeds Studies in English n.s. 10 (1978), pp. 1–17. 122 Liszka, ‘The First “A” Redaction’.

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Middle Dutch Translators’ Prologues as a Sidelight on English Practice

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he story of the love between the pagan prince Floire and the Christian Blancheflor was one of the most popular narratives of the Middle Ages. Versions of the tale appear in all major European languages; however, the earliest surviving written version, and the one which seems to have been the most widely disseminated, was in French.1 The Old French Floire et Blancheflor (c. 1160–70) is the source of the Middle English Floris and Blancheflour (c. 1250); it would also appear to be the source for the Middle Dutch Floris ende Blancefloer, which also dates from the mid thirteenth century. Frustratingly, at least one folio is missing from the beginning of all four manuscripts of the English version, so there is no way of knowing whether the English translator acknowledged his French source in any way, or whether a translator’s prologue was included.2 However, the Dutch version provides an 88-line prologue which reveals the name of the translator and his reasons for making the translation: Men moet corten ende linghen Die tale, sal mense te rime bringhen, Ende te redenen die aventure. Hets worden herde te sure Van Assenede Diederike. Dien seldijs danken ghemeenlike, dat hijt uten Walsche heeft ghedicht Ende verstandelike in Dietsche bericht Den ghenen, diet Walsche niet en connen.3 [One must shorten and lengthen the tale, if one is to put it into rhyme, and make it readable. It has become far too bitter for Diederik van Assenede. We should all thank him for having translated it from French into Dutch, correctly and intelligibly, for those who do not know French.]

1

For further details about the dissemination of this work, see Patricia E. Grieve, ‘Floire and Blancheflor and the European Romance (Cambridge: CUP, 1997). 2 See Floris and Blancheflour: A Middle English Romance, ed. by A. B. Taylor (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927), p. 15. 3 Diederik van Assenede, Floris ende Blancefloer, ed. by J. J. Mak, Diederik van Assenede: Floris ende Blancefloer (Leiden: DBNL, 2002), available online at [accessed 24 November 2015], lines 19–27. All English translations in this chapter are my own unless otherwise stated.

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Whether or not the English translator expressed similar thoughts in the opening lines to the now lost beginning of Floris and Blancheflour, the existence of a translator’s prologue in the Middle Dutch translation of the story serves as a timely reminder that the translator’s prologue, in the specific context of French > vernacular, was by no means a uniquely medieval English phenomenon. As we have seen earlier in this study, French was a privileged vernacular across much of western Europe, both because of its political power (by 1300, a high proportion of the ruling houses in Latin Europe were Frankish) and through the circulation of a number of popular, often highly regarded literary texts from the twelfth century onwards. Many translations of these French texts into other languages addressed the problems involved in translating this prestige vernacular in their prologues. Whilst a pan-European study of translators’ prologues is outside the scope of this book, a closer look at those written for French > Dutch translations in this final chapter makes for a particularly illuminating comparison with those written in English.4 As in England, the creation of an independent Dutch literary tradition also owed much to the preparation of translations from French, with a substantial proportion of literary works taken from French sources. Many of these translations possess extremely self-aware prologues, revealing notable parallels between the developing literary vernaculars of Middle Dutch and Middle English in the ideas they express about the status of French and Dutch, the role of the translator and translation methods. It should not be suggested that the existence of Dutch prologues, or of passages discussing translation in works where the equivalent English version has been lost (as in Floris and Blancheflour or the fragmentary Romaunt of the Rose), allows for anything so concrete as a reconstruction of the missing English text; however, the prologues do suggest possible translation strategies, from French into another Germanic language, which the English translators could have used, and which are in keeping with broader, European-wide theories of translation. Conversely, in cases where Dutch translators’ attitudes towards their task clearly differ from those of their English counterparts, it may be possible to isolate more clearly the languageor culture-specific problems faced by those engaged in French > English translation, and to gain a fuller appreciation of translation methods or attitudes unique to English translators.5 4

Serge Lusignan has also commented on the similarities between the linguistic situations in England and Flanders, and called for further research in this area, remarking ‘I would be tempted to conclude that the linguistic situation in England was not so unique as is often implicitly postulated.’ Lusignan, ‘French Language in Contact with English: Social Context and Linguistic Change (Mid-13th–14th Centuries)’, in Wogan-Browne, The French of England, pp. 19–30, at p. 30. 5 There is relatively little English-language criticism available on Middle Dutch literature, although in recent decades the Dutch corpus has become more accessible to non-specialists. For the most part, however, this large corpus of texts, an invaluable one (in addition to its intrinsic merits) for gaining a wider appreciation of the European nature of medieval literature and of issues pertaining to translation, is little studied by anglophone scholars. Keith Busby has remarked that it ‘has been the sleeping giant of medieval literature’ in his general editor’s foreword to Originality and Tradition in the Middle Dutch Roman van Walewein, ed. by Bart Besamusca and Erik Kooper, Arthurian Literature XVII (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1999), p. vii.

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A study of Dutch translators’ prologues also allows us to see the creation of a confident vernacular tradition through translation, emerging from a literary culture dominated by French, which pre-dates the Middle English tradition by around a hundred years. The greatest number of French > Dutch translations were made in the thirteenth century, and there was usually a much smaller gap between the appearance of a French work and its translation into Dutch.6 Despite some tantalising speculations on the subject, there does not seem to have been any English > Dutch literary exchange until the late fifteenth century7 (although there was, of The influential work of W. P. Gerritsen has been instrumental in bringing some Dutch texts to a wider audience; see e.g. ‘Les relations littérares entre la France et les Pays-Bas au Moyen Age’, in Moyen Age et Littérature Comparée: Actes du Septième Congrès National de la Société Française de Littérature Comparée 1965 (Paris: Didier, 1967), pp. 28–41. Mary D. Stanger’s article on the literature of the Flanders court, though now very old, remains an invaluable early English-language study; see Stanger, ‘Literary Patronage at the Medieval Court of Flanders’, French Studies 11 (1957), pp. 214–29. Some excellent introductions to Middle Dutch literature were published in the 1990s; above all, the volume of essays edited by Erik Kooper, Medieval Dutch Literature in its European Context (Cambridge: CUP, 1994), covers a wide range of subjects and literary genres. A comprehensive study of late medieval court culture and literature by Frits van Oostrom was also translated into English around the same time; see van Oostrom, Court and Culture: Dutch Literature, 1350–1450, trans. by Arnold J. Pomerans (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992); originally published as Het woord van eer: Literatuur aan het Hollandse hof omstreeks 1400 (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff Nederland bv, 1987). Some of Besamusca’s work on the Dutch Arthurian material and other works is also available in English, e.g. ‘The Medieval Dutch Arthurian Material’, in The Arthur of the Germans: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval German and Dutch Literature, ed. by W. H. Jackson and S. A. Ranawake (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000), pp.  187–228; The Book of Lancelot: the Middle Dutch Lancelot Compilation and the Medieval Tradition of Narrative Cycles, trans. by Thea Summerfield (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2003). A useful survey of Middle Dutch texts, translations, editions and criticism is also provided by Besamusca in ‘Dutch Arthurian Literature’, in A History of Arthurian Scholarship, ed. by Norris J. Lacy (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2006), pp. 158–68. A number of essays and articles have been published on particular texts, such as the Dutch translations of the Roman de la Rose; see D. E. van der Poel, ‘The Romance of the Rose and “I”; eadem, ‘A Romance of a Rose and Florentine: The Flemish Adaptation of the Romance of the Rose’, in Rethinking the Romance of the Rose: Text, Image, Reception, ed. by Kevin Brownlee and Sylvia Huot (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992), pp. 304–15. Some Middle Dutch texts are now available in modern English translation, e.g. the works of Hadewijch, trans. by Columba Hart as Hadewijch: The Complete Works (London: SPCK, 1981). Three volumes of Dutch Arthurian romances with facing-page translations are available within D. S. Brewer’s Arthurian Archives series: Dutch Romances I: Roman van Walewein, ed. by David F. Johnson and Geert H. M. Claassens (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2000); Dutch Romances II: Ferguut, ed. by David F. Johnson and Geert H. M. Claassens (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2000); Dutch Romances III: Five Romances from the Lancelot Compilation, ed. by David F. Johnson and Geert H. M. Claassens (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2003). For a comprehensive bibliography of translations to 1994, see Kooper, Medieval Dutch Literature in its European Context, pp. 297–304. 6 Sometimes as little time as a year may have elapsed between original and translation, as Frits van Oostrom notes in the case of the Renout van Montalbaen, translated from the French Renout de Mantauban (c. 1200). An extremely useful table of the respective dates of twenty Latin and French works and their Dutch translations is provided in van Oostrom, ‘Hoe snel dichten middeleeuwse dichters? Over de dynamiek van het literaire leven in de middeleeuwen’, Literatuur 1 (1984), pp. 327–35, at p. 332. 7 Caxton’s Historye of Reynart the Fox, translated from the Dutch Van den Vos Reynaert, was published in 1481; the early-sixteenth-century morality play Everyman, translated from the late- fifteenth-century

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course, a large amount of commercial activity between England and the Low Countries) so it does not seem likely that Middle Dutch translators would have influenced their English counterparts earlier than this.8 However, this still greater precocity on the part of Dutch translators thus provides scholars with an earlier example of an emerging vernacular literature criticising and, ultimately, displacing French by means of translation. There has been relatively little attention paid to the prologue as a genre in Middle Dutch literature, even among scholars of medieval Dutch; H. P. Sonnemans, writing in 1989, remarked that it was ‘verbazingwekkend’ (astonishing) that so little research had been done in this area.9 Over twenty-five years later, no comprehensive study has been made of Middle Dutch prologues. As in the field of Middle English, there are studies of individual prologues or groups of prologues (such as Orlanda Lie’s work on the corpus of Middle Dutch artes-literature,10 which includes some discussion of prologues); however, much work remains to be done on the genre as a whole. There is no space here for a comprehensive study of the French > Dutch translator’s prologue, as I have attempted to do for the English; after a consideration of some of the historical and sociolinguistic factors which shaped the relationship between French and Dutch (drawing attention to parallels and differences with the English situation wherever possible), what follows is a discussion of selected prologues in the hope of providing a sense of some of the primary concerns of those translating into that language, and of clarifying the contexts of English practice.

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he geographical location of the Low Countries made them an important bridge – linguistic, political, commercial and cultural – between Germanic and Romance cultures in the Middle Ages. This had been the case since the earliest settlements in the area;11 its central position on a number of major trade routes, and the flow of water traffic leading into the Scheldt-Maas-Rhine delta and the North Sea, made it a crossroads for much of Europe. During the ninth century it was close to the heartlands of Carolingian power, and as such benefited from the wealth and culture of the Carolingian Renaissance. The great religious houses, such as the abbeys of Mont Blandin and St Bavo in Ghent, were influential centres of

Dutch Elckerlijk, is another example of late medieval Dutch > English translation. For discussion of this topic, see e.g. Felicity Riddy, ‘Giving and Receiving: Exchange in the Roman van Walewein and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’, TNTL 112 (1996), pp. 18–29; see also n. 64 below. 9 H. P. Sonnemans, ‘Middelnederlandse prologen in theorie en praktijk: een verkenning’, Spiegel der Letteren 31 (1989), pp. 1–30, at p. 1. 10 The term ‘artes-literatuur’ is used in Middle Dutch studies to cover the genre of non-literary, ‘practical’ texts (e.g. encyclopaedic and medical treatises). For a comprehensive catalogue of texts included in this category, see R. Jansen-Sieben, Repertorium van de Middelnederlandse ArtesLiteratuur (Utrecht: Hes Uitgevers, 1989); for a lengthier definition of the genre in English, see the review of Jansen-Sieben by Nigel F. Palmer, ‘R. Jansen-Sieben, Repertorium van de Middelnederlandse Artes-Literatuur (review)’, Medium Ævum 63 (1994), pp. 354–6. For Orlanda Lie see below. 11 Even Neolithic remains show evidence of cross-European trade in this area; see Paul Arblaster, A History of the Low Countries (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 9. 8

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learning, and much of the region was urbanised at an early date; in the fifteenth century, 33% of the Flanders population lived in towns – and, although records are scarce, this figure would have been even higher in the two previous centuries.12 In literature, too, the Low Countries acted as a crossroads; there is some evidence to suggest that Dutch translations also served as intermediary exemplars for German adaptations of French texts.13 England, seen in this context, is a useful but peripheral offshore island. Even in pre-Conquest England, the Benedictine Reform of monasticism and learning in the tenth century would seem to have owed much of its energy from St Dunstan’s stay at Mont Blandin, where he was inspired by first-hand experiences of continental reforms.14 Like England, the Low Countries in the Middle Ages were, to an extent, trilingual, with Latin, French and Dutch all used to varying degrees in the area. There were, of course, many linguistic and political differences between England and the Low Countries, which were a geographically close group of counties, duchies and bishoprics operating as independent political entities, rather than a single country which could be presented, however disingenuously, as a unified ‘Ingland the nacion’.15 Dutch was the term given to a group of mutually intelligible Frankish dialects used as the vernacular in northern Flanders and Brabant, and in Holland, Guelders, Utrecht and a number of other smaller principalities.16 Dutch in the Low 12

See Peter Stabel, ‘Urbanisation and its Consequences: The Urban Region in Late Medieval Flanders’, in Regions and Landscapes: Reality and Imagination in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by Peter Ainsworth and Tom Scott (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2000), pp. 177–203. 13 The Blankenheim codex of the Stadtarchiv in Cologne, for instance, contains a German Lancelot romance which declares that ‘Diß buchelin zu einer stonden | Hain ich inn flemische geschrieben fonden, | Von eyme kostigen meister verricht, | Der es uß franczose darczu hait gedicht. | Dwile das alle dutschen nit konden verstan, | Habe ich unnutzeliche zcijt darczu versließen und gethan, | Biß das ich es herczu bracht hain’ (This book is based on a book that I found a while ago, which was written in Flemish by a skilful (?) master, who translated it from the French. Because the German people cannot understand it, I have devoted much time and effort to bringing this book to this state of completion). Lancelot, ed. by Reinhold Kluge, Lancelot: Nach der Kölner Papierhandschrift W. f° 46* Blankenheim und der Heidelberger Pergamenthandschrift Pal. Germ. 147, Deutsche Texte des Mittelalters 47 (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1963), p. 115; trans. in Besamusca, ‘The Medieval Dutch Arthurian Material’, p. 203. 14 See Thomas Symons, Regularis Concordia: Angliae Nationis Monacorum Sanctimonialiumque / The Monastic Agreement of the Monks and Nuns of the English Nation (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd, 1953), pp. xlv–lii, esp. pp. xlvi–li. 15 Cf. Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, line 241. 16 Dialectical variation could be considerable, and was often acknowledged as such by writers; for instance, Jacob van Maerlant makes a distinction between ‘dutsche tale’ (Dutch language) and the words used ‘jn vlaenderen’ (in Flanders) in Maerlant, Der Naturen Bloeme, ed. by M. Gysseling (Leiden: DBNL, 2001), available online at [accessed 24 November 2015], lines 2427–8. (All references to this text are from this edition.) However, these dialects were invariably conceptualised as a single tongue, ‘Dietsch’, particularly when discussed in contrast with another language clearly identified as a separate linguistic entity. This other language was, almost without exception, French or Latin. For further discussion of Dutch as a linguistic concept, see Jacques van Keymeulen, ‘Geographical Differentiation in the Dutch Language Area during the Middle Ages’, in The Dawn of the Written Vernacular in Western Europe, ed. by Michèle Goyens and Werner Verbeke (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2003), pp. 391–404.

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Countries enjoyed a greater parity with French than did English in England, with both French and Dutch being native languages of different regions; a rough linguistic border can be drawn between Calais in the west and just above Liège in the east, with those to the north of this line being Dutch-speaking.17 Dutch was also the language of government in some principalities – of the Brabantine court from the thirteenth century, intermittently that of the court of Holland (where German was also spoken) and of the centres of power in Guelders and Utrecht – and one of two possible vernaculars in bilingual areas; charters in both languages were produced within a couple of decades of each other.18 The model was more one of two rival systems than of one consistently holding more power than the other. However, the tripartite division of language in England expressed in the Speculum Vitae was, to an extent, also present in the Low Countries.19 Latin was, as elsewhere, the language of learning, the Church and the schools; French was the language of both culture and privilege, spoken at the court of Flanders and by the ruling elite and the vernacular spoken in the southern areas of Flanders and Brabant, which extended into the French language area. The Dutch corpus’ obvious debt to French literature, and the dominance of French as a literary prestige vernacular, led to the long-held theory in Middle Dutch studies that courtly literature written for aristocratic audiences throughout the medieval Netherlands was predominantly French, whereas any Dutch translations made were destined for socially inferior audiences and indifferently crafted. The parallels with earlier beliefs held about audiences for Middle English translations 17

A map showing this divide is included as the frontispiece to Kooper, Medieval Dutch Literature in its European Context. A useful account of the complex political and geographical situation in the medieval Low Countries can be found in History of the Low Countries, ed. by J. C. H. Blom and E. Lamberts, trans. by James C. Kennedy (New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 1999), Chs 2 and 3. For a discussion of how these lands gradually evolved into French-, Dutch- and German-speaking areas during the Carolingian period, see Ludo J. R. Milis, ‘The French Low Countries: Cradle of Dutch Culture?’, in Religion, Culture and Mentalities in the Medieval Low Countries: Selected Essays, ed. by Jeroen Deploige and others (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005), pp. 327–51; see also Blom and Lamberts, History of the Low Countries, Ch. 1. 18 The first charters in the Low Countries were written in French from around 1194 and in Dutch from 1210; see, respectively, M. A. Arnould, ‘Le plus ancien acte en langue d’oïl: la charte-loi de Chèvres, 1194’, in Hommage au professeur Paul Bonenfant, 1899–1965: Etudes d’histoire médiévale dédiées à sa mémoire... (Brussels: Universitaire Libre, 1965), pp. 85–118; and M. Gysseling, ‘De invoering van het Nederlands in ambtelijke bescheiden in den 13de eeuw’, in Verslagen en Mededelingen Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie voor Taal- en Letterkunde (Gent: Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie voor Taal- en Letterkunde, 1971), pp. 27–34. 19 Latin, French and Dutch were viewed as the three languages most likely to be used for literary composition in the Low Countries, as suggested, for instance by a passage grouping the three together in Jan van Boendale’s fourteenth-century treatise ‘Hoe dichters dichten sullen’ (How writers should write) in Der Leken Spieghel speaks of the necessity of good grammar for a writer, whether he writes in ‘Walsch, Dietsch of Latijn’. Der Leken Spieghel, ed. by Matthias de Vries, 3 vols (Leiden: D. du Mortier en zoon, 1844–88), vol. 2, Ch. XV, line 52; Boendale, ‘A Fourteenth-Century Vernacular Poetics: Jan van Boendale’s “How Writers Should Write”’, trans. by W. P. Gerritsen and others, in Medieval Dutch Literature in its European Context, ed. by Erik Kooper, pp. 245–60. All references to and translations of this text are from these editions.

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of French works are striking. W. P. Gerritsen has been one of the primary instigators of a revised assessment, continuing to demonstrate throughout his scholarly career that Dutch translations were both enjoyed by courtly patrons and of high literary quality.20 A study of the Dutch tradition, moreover, consistently reveals the relatively strong position of Dutch as a literary language in comparison with English during the same period. It is a measure of this that we possess a Dutch-language treatise on vernacular poetics: Jan van Boendale’s ‘Hoe dichters dichten sullen ende wat si hantieren sullen’ (How writers should write and what they should pay attention to), which appears as Chapter XV in the third book of his Der Leken Spieghel, an immense encyclopaedic work completed in 1330.21 Treatises on vernacular poetics, written in the vernacular, are few and far between in the Middle Ages. The earliest surviving example of the genre is probably the Razos de trobar of Raimon Vidal de Bezaudun (c. 1210); the Icelandic Skáldskaparmál of Snorri Sturlusson (c. 1220) is also very early and perhaps most unexpected in this far Nordic quarter of Europe. Eustache Deschamps’ Art de dictier and a number of other treatises in French appeared in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.22 As far as we know, however, no such treatise was ever written in Middle English, a fact which, perhaps more than any other, marks the peripheral status of English as a literary language both in England until the end of the fourteenth century and on the European scene, together with its lack of literary and technical self-consciousness. An analogous work in England, in effect a Middle English ars poetica, is quite unimaginable at this date and indeed for long after. The first major English work in this genre would be Philip Sidney’s Apology for Poetry in 1581; John Trevisa’s ‘Dialogue between the Lord and the Clerk on Translation’, written in 1387, is perhaps the earliest comparable English text, and the focus of Trevisa’s text is narrower and less ambitious. Boendale’s 346-line treatise describes the three essential requirements of a writer: ‘Hi moet sijn een gramarijn, | Warachtich moet hi ooc sijn, | Eersaem van levene mede’ (he must know his Latin grammar, he must also be truthful, and finally be of irreproachable conduct), and castigates those who do not adhere to this standard.23 A knowledge of Latin grammar, he argues, can thus be used to raise the standard of

20

Gerritsen, e.g. ‘Les relations littérares entre la France et les Pays-Bas’, p. 29. A summary of the contents of Der Leken Spieghel can be found in Boendale, ‘A Fourteenth-Century Vernacular Poetics’, trans. by W. P. Gerritsen and others, p. 245. 22 The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism II: The Middle Ages, ed. by A. J. Minnis and Ian Johnson (Cambridge: CUP, 2005), is a good repository of information about such treatises, although it does not mention Boendale. Haug, in his otherwise admirable study, Vernacular Literary Theory in the Middle Ages, also appears unaware of the existence of Boendale’s text, or indeed any other vernacular treatise, commenting that ‘So far as we know, no vernacular writer of the Middle Ages wrote a treatise on poetics’ (p. 7). 23 ‘Hoe dichters dichten sullen’, lines 11–13. Boendale, ‘A Fourteenth-Century Vernacular Poetics’, ed. by Gerritsen and others, suggest that a ‘gramarijn’ is one who has studied grammatica, and should be translated specifically as ‘Latin grammar’ (p. 247). 21

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the vernacular.24 A somewhat biased polemic rather than practical guidebook for aspiring writers, Boendale’s treatise should be read within the larger context of Der Leken Spiegel as a defence of the clerical, Latin-based tradition in which he worked, and a warning to his audience of the dangers of untrustworthy vernacular writers who come to writing through the less reliable vernacular and oral traditions.25 However, those who write in the vernacular in full knowledge of the Latin tradition, Boendale suggests, will be able to take advantage of the greater intelligibility of Dutch without falling prey to the pitfalls of the French romance tradition, whose tall tales are composed by those he characterises as ‘die loghenieren, | Die valsche materien visieren, | Die si subtijllijc connen cleden | Ende met sconen woorden leden’ (the liars who fabricate falsehoods which they dress up craftily and frame with specious words).26 This implicit criticism of French literature due to its association with romance is a recurring theme throughout Dutch prologues. The rejection of frivolous secular texts in favour of religious and didactic works is a common tactic of writers in the latter camp, and by no means unique to Dutch writers; similar remarks are made by medieval writers of various nationalities (in Middle English, we find the ‘lesynge’ of stories about knights and kings criticised in the South English Legendary prologue, for instance27), and the language of the secular text in question is not necessarily relevant. However, in Middle Dutch, far more explicitly than in Middle English, the rejection of secular literature seems particularly to be framed as a rejection of the French romance corpus. The precocious development of an independent Dutch tradition, in its offering of a viable vernacular alternative at an earlier date, may have enabled this to be voiced more confidently than in contemporary England. The opportune pun which can be made in Dutch on ‘walsch’ (French) and ‘valsch’ (false) also provided writers of the Low Countries, principally Jacob van Maerlant, with a convenient rhyming put-down. Whilst Maerlant is the only writer who explicitly, and repeatedly, names French as the language of ‘valsch’ books, it is possible to discern a hint of this attitude in other texts, particularly in prologues. French seems to have been viewed as both more and less of a threat than in England: more, because of the less stable political rivalry; less, because Dutch was a more developed literary vernacular at an earlier date. As will become apparent, writers such as Maerlant were able to make a much more aggressive case for the advantages of Dutch as a literary medium in their prologues.

24

Comparisons can be made with Otfrid von Weissenburg’s desire to improve Frankish by taming it with the rules (‘mit régulu bituúngan’) of Latin grammar; see Chapter 2. 25 W. P. Gerritsen, ‘De dichter en de leugenaars. De oudste poetica in het Nederlands’, De nieuwe taalgids 85 (1992), pp. 2–13, esp. p. 10; also ‘A Fourteenth-Century Vernacular Poetics’, ed. by Gerritsen and others, where his earlier argument is summarised in English. 26 Der Leken Spieghel, lines 121–4. 27 South English Legendary (vol. 1, p.  3), line 60. See also the opposition of ‘clerks’ and ‘minstrels’ discussed in Chapter 4.

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‘ick de historie vele valsch | Gevonden hebbe in dat walsch’: Attitudes towards French in the Prologues of Jacob van Maerl ant 28

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generation after his death, Jacob van Maerlant’s reputation was such that he had earned the title bestowed on him by Boendale in ‘Hoe dichters dichten sullen’, where he is the only vernacular poet singled out for praise: ‘die vader [...] der Dietsche[r] dichtren algader’ (the father of all Dutch poets). Born in Bruges around 1230, Maerlant was a writer of prodigious output and versatility, composing eleven substantial works ranging from Arthurian romance to the Rijmbibel, a verse translation of the Bible, as well as a number of shorter poems and dialogues, before his death around 1300. His longer works were all free translations and adaptations from French and Latin sources, although his shorter compositions were original.29 Maerlant was also a writer of great literary self-consciousness. All of his works contain prologues, and, given that these invariably discuss the relationship between his work and his French or Latin originals, they are of great interest to the present study. Of particular relevance are his views on the relative roles and statuses of Dutch, French and Latin. Several of his prologues lament the unreliable nature of French sources, contrasting them with the truth and wisdom which can be found in Latin books. There are genre-related reasons for this, as the earlier discussion of Boendale demonstrates; Maerlant typically casts French as the language of romances and other frivolous, secular stories, with Latin portrayed as the language of reliable religious, historical or scientific works. However, the sheer vehemence of his remarks about French, with his provocative and punning linking of ‘walsch’ and ‘valsch’, also allows Maerlant to criticise the dominant literary language of the thirteenth-century Low Countries. There is no English figure remotely comparable to Maerlant in the thirteenth century. The only poet writing in English at this time addressing the relative merits of different languages while also presenting himself as an auctor of a new literary tradition is Laȝamon, and his discussion of this is clearly much less developed. The very translation-conscious prologues of Robert Mannyng, written some fifty years after Maerlant, which complain of the ‘ouerhip[ping]’ Peter of Langtoft and reject the overly complex style of the ‘disours’, perhaps come closest to the Dutch poet’s literary awareness and pro-Dutch sentiments (although Mannyng’s criticism of Langtoft is in no way aimed at his choice of language). However, neither of these English writers comes close to rivalling either Maerlant’s reputation and influence or his sustained critical voice and literary versatility. Looking ahead to the late fourteenth century, one can draw an obvious parallel between descriptions of Maerlant as ‘die vader [...] der Dietsche[r] dichtren algader’ and Chaucer’s posthumous reputation

28 29

‘I found the history in the French to be extremely false’. The major full-length work to date on Maerlant is Frits van Oostrom, Mærlants wereld (Amsterdam: Prometheus, 1996), a literary biography of the poet. For a list of Maerlant’s works and editions, see p. 509.

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as ‘first fyndere of our faire language’.30 However, even Chaucer could not present himself, or the English language, as capable of continuing the Latin scholastic tradition in the vernacular. There was no sense in Chaucer’s day, let alone in the thirteenth century, that English could carry a burden which, as inventoried here, is not much less than the riches of the western literary tradition as then received. Maerlant was at the vanguard of a movement from an intellectual literary culture based in the Latin academic tradition to one couched in the emerging literary language of Dutch, and can be considered the most important intermediary between the two.31 Literate laymen, to whom Latin learning and culture was previously inaccessible, became increasingly able to play an active role in this world. However, there was a reasonable amount of anxiety in Latinate circles about making this learning available to a wider audience, who might not possess the necessary education to understand it correctly. This is a near-universal argument made against both translation and original composition in the vernacular, and, as was noted in Chapter 4, such attitudes appear frequently in medieval clerical traditions, in the Low Countries and elsewhere; there is often an undercurrent of professional anxiety at the threat to clerical monopoly over the written word. Unsurprisingly, within Maerlant’s works there seems to have been most concern about his translation of Scripture in the Rijmbibel (c. 1271). In the prologue to his final work, the unfinished Spiegel Historiael (c. 1285), Maerlant expresses a fear that he will be criticised by priests if he were to include difficult scientific material in this text, remarking that ‘anderwaerven hebbic gewesen | In haer begripen van desen, | Want ic leeken weten dede | Uter Byblen die heimelichede’ (I have previously been taken to task, because I taught the laypeople the secrets of the Bible).32 It would seem likely that the fear of such criticism, either real or imagined, was one of the factors which made Maerlant so careful to position his translations from French and Latin on the side of truthfulness rather than on that of the ‘loghenieren’ who would be so roundly vilified by Boendale some fifty years later. Of more fundamental significance to Maerlant was the uncertainty about the use of Dutch as a viable literary language; he needed to demonstrate both that Dutch was capable of conveying the complexity of Latin learning and that it was superior to French. Born and professionally based in a Dutch-speaking area, first as a sexton in Maerlant on the Island of Oostvorne in Holland, and subsequently at the Dutch-speaking court of Count Floris V of Holland (to whom the Spiegel Historiael 30

Hoccleve, Regiment of Princes, line 4978. See e.g. Hans van Dijk, ‘Jacob van Maerlant and the Latinitas’, in Media Latinitas: A Collection of Essays to Mark the Occasion of the Retirement of L. J. Engels, ed. by R. I. A. Nip and others (Turnhout: Brepols, 1996), pp. 51–8, at p. 51; Geert Warnar, ‘Men of Letters: Medieval Dutch Literature and Learning’, in University, Council, City: Intellectual Culture on the Rhine (1300–1550). Acts of the XIIth International Colloquium of the Société Internationale pour l’Etude de la Philosophie Médiévale, Freiburg im Breisgau, 27–29 October 2004, ed. by Laurent Cesalli, Nadja Germann and Maarten J. F. M. Hoenen (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), pp. 221–46. 32 Maerlant, Spiegel Historiael, ed. by Frits van Oostrom (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1994), lines 83–6. All references are to this edition. 31

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is dedicated), there does not seem to have been any question of Maerlant having chosen to write in French, as did Gower and perhaps the young Chaucer.33 However, it would seem likely that there was a certain unstated pressure on Maerlant to demonstrate that Dutch was able to acquit itself as well as French, whose literature was widely admired in the Low Countries and whose capabilities had already been proved. The principal way in which Maerlant addressed this was in his prologues. His positioning of Dutch as a language which could be used to convey both the narrative excitement of French and the truthful intellectualism of Latin enables him to present it as having a potentially greater flexibility than French, while being more intelligible than Latin, combining the best of both of these earlier literary traditions. Maerlant’s execution of this is far stronger and more sustained than anything found in contemporary, or even slightly later, English writing. Perhaps the fullest expression of Maerlant’s dissatisfaction with what French literature had to offer can be found in the prologue to his final work, the Spiegel Historiael. After making a claim for the encyclopaedic scope of his source, which the ‘Predicare’ (Vincent of Beauvais) ‘maket alder werelt mare | In 31 bouken’ (made known to the world in 31 books), and listing some of the topics which will be covered, he declares his poem to be superior to the dubious delights of Arthurian romance: Dien dan die boerde vanden Grale, Die loghene van Perchevale Ende andere vele valscher saghen Vernoyden ende niet en behaghen, Houde desen Spiegle Ystoriale Over de truffen van Lenvale. Want hier vintmen al besonder Waerheit ende menech wonder, Wijsheit ende scone leringhe Ende reine dachcortinghe – Also alse broeder Vincent Tote Beauvays int covent Versaemde, die Predicare Die de loghene hadde ommare. Dese ystorien altemale Vanden Spiegle Ystoriale

33

There is no clear evidence that any of Chaucer’s first poems were in French; the prologue to The Legend of Good Women does not specify the language of his juvenilia. Few poets of the Low Countries seem to have written in both French and Dutch; one exception is Duke Jan I van Brabant (1267–94). See Frank Willaert, ‘Entre trouvères et Minnesänger: la poésie de Jean Ier, duc de Brabant’, in Courtly Literature – Culture and Context: Selected Papers from the Fifth Triennial Congress of the Courtly Literature Society, Dalfsen, the Netherlands, 9–16 August, 1986, ed. by Keith Busby and Eric Kooper (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1990), pp. 585–94.

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Salic uten Latine dichten In sconen worden ende in lichten.34 [He who is annoyed by the tall tales of the Grail, the lies of Percival and many other false stories, and wants no more of these, should choose the Mirror of History over the trifles of Lanval. For here one will find truth and many wonders, wisdom and beautiful teaching and pure entertainment – just as Brother Vincent of Beauvais collected in the monastery, that Dominican who had had enough of lies. I will write all these stories in the Mirror of History out of Latin, in beautiful and lucid words.] Although the word ‘French’ is nowhere mentioned, the Grail, Percival and Lanval are all stories which would have been strongly identified with the French tradition. To refer to these as ‘boerde[n]’ (stories in the derogatory sense), ‘valscher saghen’ (false sayings) and ‘truffen’ (trifles) condemns the content, if not the language, of these narratives in no uncertain terms, particularly in the pithily barbed rhyme of ‘Spiegel Historiael’ and ‘truffen van Lenvale’. By contrast, Vincent of Beauvais’ text, which is revealed to be in Latin, is highly praised for its subject matter and truthfulness; the description of ‘broeder Vincent [...] int covent’ clearly allies Maerlant’s auctor himself with the Latin monastic tradition (stretching the truth in order to use the archetypal monkish image, since Dominicans are friars rather than monks). Dutch is also left unnamed in this prologue, but Maerlant describes his translation as being put into ‘sconen worden ende in lichten’ (beautiful and lucid words), in a way not entirely dissimilar to Mannyng’s description of the ‘light (i.e. easy, uncomplicated) ryme’ he has used in his Chronicle;35 Maerlant’s Dutch makes Vincent’s Latin available to the ‘leeken’ (laypeople) he suggests will be reading his text (line 79). In this way Maerlant is able to present the ‘sconen worden ende [...] lichten’ of his translation as the best possible language for his purposes: it does not rely on the ‘valscher saghen’ of the French tradition, it takes a truthful, informative Latin text as its source, but opens it up to a wider audience, up to and including the Count of Holland by whom the text was commissioned. This is very similar in mood to the remarks made by Boendale in ‘Hoe dichters dichten sullen’. Ideologically speaking, Maerlant is Boendale’s direct literary ancestor, referenced approvingly by the later poet in the way he ‘Schelt zere die loghenieren’ (abuses the liars). To compare the remarks on ‘loghenieren’ made by the two poets is illuminating; ‘Hoe dichters dichten sullen’ provides a useful context within which to view Maerlant’s vitriolic diatribes against untrustworthy French sources, the ‘loghene van Perchevale’ (lies of Percival) and the ‘truffen van Lanvale’ (trifles of Lanval), just as the work of the earlier poet, discussed below, offers a literary precedent for Boendale’s views. Seen in this wider context, Maerlant’s criticism of the

34 35

Spiegel Historiael, lines 55–72. Cf. Mannyng, Chronicle, line 18.

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French corpus seems more a criticism of the vernacular romance tradition, indeed of something corresponding to the notion of fiction, than of French in particular. However, to read through Maerlant’s prologue oeuvre, and into the texts themselves, builds up a cumulative sense that it is specifically French literature with which he is taking issue, which in turn has the effect of casting anything written in French in an uncertain light. Later in the Spiegel Historiael he overtly contrasts Vincent’s account of Alexander with a ‘valsch’ French source (using the ‘walsch/valsch’ pun): Noch der redenen van hem int Walsch, Ne volgic niet, want soe es valsch: Ic houts mi an broeder Vincent.36 [Neither do I follow the story of [Alexander] in French, for it is false: I keep to that of Brother Vincent.] A further example of Maerlant apparently criticising a text principally for being French can be found in Der Naturen Bloeme (c. 1270). Maerlant reveals that, among other things, his book aims to be a bestiary, and that an unsatisfactory version of such a book, based on a French text, already exists: Nochtan wetic wel dat waer is Dat dar willem huten houe Een priester van goeden loue Van erdenborch: enen heuet ghemaket Mar hi waser in ontraket Want hine huten walsche dichte Dies wart hi ontledet lichte Ende heuet dat ware begheuen Mar daric dit hute ebbe bescreuen Ebbic van broeder albrechte Van colne diemen wel met rechte Hetet bloeme van der clergien Vp hem dar ix conlike lien.37 [Nevertheless, I know it’s true that Willem Utenhove, a priest of good reputation from Aardenburg, has made one – but he lost his way, for he based it on the French; he was easily led astray, and failed to present the truth. But that which I have described was taken from Brother Albert of Cologne,38 who is rightfully called the Flower of Science; I can truly rely on him.]

36

Spiegel Historiael, Book I, Part 3, Ch. 56, lines 53–4. For further discussion of this passage, see van Dijk, ‘Jacob van Maerlant and the Latinitas’, pp. 55–6. 37 Der Naturen Bloeme, lines 104–16. 38 i.e. Albertus Magnus.

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Here Maerlant criticises Willem for using a French source; the conjunction ‘want’ (for, because) suggests that ‘want hine huten walsche dichte’ (for he composed it from French) is a direct consequence of ‘hi waser in ontraket’ (he lost his way). By contrast, he suggests that his own Latin source, which he ascribes (incorrectly) to Albertus Magnus, is wholly reliable. Even when translating from French himself, Maerlant remained sceptical about the veracity of his source texts. In his earliest translation from French, his Historie van den Grale taken from Robert de Boron, Maerlant criticises his French source even as he translates from it, taking issue with a number of perceived shortcomings in de Boron’s original. Revealing in the opening lines that his Historie is written in Dutch ‘Als ick inden walsche vernam’ (as I found it in French),39 Maerlant then warns his readers that his exemplar is not to be trusted: ick de historie vele valsch Gevonden hebbe in dat walsch Dar ze van gode onsen heren sprak Dat ene dat volck van rome wrack Dar vmbe merket desse zake Eyn dichte van onses heren wrake Lest men dat is wijde bekannt Vnde makede eyn pape on vlanderlant Dat saget dat boeck in sijn beginne Mer ick wene in mynen sinne Dat pape dat nicht en dichte Want men mochte nicht gescriuen lichte We vullich dat gelogen zij Vnde dat zal ick iv prouen waer bij Jn der historie der komet hijr naer.40 [I found the history in the French to be extremely false where it says of God our Lord that the people of Rome revenged Him. Therefore pay heed to this tale of our Lord’s revenge, which one can read, and which is widely known, made by a priest from Flanders. This is what the book says at the beginning, but I know in my mind that the priest never wrote that. For one cannot write lightly of something which is so wholly a lie. And I shall prove it in this way in the history which I am presenting here.] This forceful contradiction of de Boron’s version of events goes much further than the mere accusations of omission made by other medieval translators (as one finds, for example, in Mannyng’s criticism of Peter of Langtoft for ‘ouerhip[ping]’ certain

39

Jacob van Maerlant, Historie van den Grale, ed. by Timothy Sodmann in Historie van den Grale; und, Boek van Merline (Cologne: Böhlau, 1980), line 4. 40 Ibid., lines 20–35.

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episodes).41 This is translation as correction, a technique to which Maerlant returns at intervals throughout the translation.42 To be sure, not all of Maerlant’s prologues condemn French sources; the opening to his Historie van Troyen comments approvingly of Benoît de Saint-Maure that he ‘Dichtet van Latyn in Romans, | Mit rymen, scone ende gans’ (wrote it from Latin into Romance using beautiful, well-crafted rhymes), and line 4 describes his source as ‘een historie goet’ (a good history). In his rendering of the chain of transmission of this text, from the original Greek of Dares through Latin, French and, eventually, Dutch, Maerlant follows Benoît’s prologue closely.43 However, Benoît is himself a writer in the Latin tradition; he has used Dares, believed to be the most reliable authority on the Trojan war, as an ultimate source, and has used Latin as his immediate source; this would seem to have made him more acceptable to Maerlant. This closer examination of Maerlant’s prologue techniques reveals a more aggressively critical attitude towards French sources than any found in contemporary English writing. It may be possible to draw a comparison between Maerlant’s treatment of French and the defiant nationalism expressed in Of Arthour and of Merlin, whose author declares in the prologue that, while French is the language of ‘þis gentil man’, ‘eurich Inglische Inglische can’, thus justifying his use of English on patriotic grounds, or the Cursor Mundi’s ‘Giue we ilkan þare langage’. 44 However, the negative associations created in relation to French, although present, are less overt in the English texts. There is no explicit suggestion in Of Arthour and of Merlin that the French language itself is inadequate, other than in its unintelligibility, although, as noted in Chapter 2, there may be a hint of hostility towards upper-class francophones expressed in the phrase ‘þis gentil man’. Perhaps the closest English analogue to Maerlant’s approach is Mannyng’s expressed distaste for ‘disours’ and complex poetic styles in the prologue to his Chronicle.45 However, his criticism is at no time aimed explicitly at French literature or language. Whilst his rejection of ‘ryme couwee’, ‘strangere’ and ‘enterlace’ may be an implicit criticism of fanciful French literary forms, Mannyng classes this as ‘strange Inglis’ rather than alluding to the French tradition. By contrast, Maerlant’s emphatic rejection of the ‘valsch’, ‘walsch’ ‘truffen van Lenvale’ in favour of the ‘sconen worden ende [...] lichten’ allowed him to position the new Dutch tradition he was both promoting and shaping as a viable literary vernacular in a way that would not be seen in England until much later. His lasting influence and reputation during the Middle Ages and beyond are testament to his success. 41

Mannyng, Chronicle, line 64. For further examples of Maerlant’s criticism of de Boron within the Grale, see W. P. Gerritsen, ‘Jacob van Maerlant and Geoffrey of Monmouth’, in An Arthurian Tapestry: Essays in Memory of Lewis Thorpe, ed. by Kenneth Varty (Glasgow: Glasgow University Press, 1981), pp.  368–88, at p. 370–1. 43 The French prologue is quoted in Chapter 3; the English prologue is very similar to the Dutch in its fidelity to its source and its introduction of English as the most recent language in the chain. 44 Of Arthour and of Merlin, lines 23–4; Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, line 247. 45 Mannyng, Chronicle, lines 71–128. See the discussion of this passage in Chapter 2. 42

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‘Sonder rime also ic sach’: Transl ating Le Livre de Sidrac 4 6

L

e Livre de Sidrac, known variously as Le Livre de la fontaine de toutes sciences, Le Tresor des sciences or Le roman du philosophe Sydrac, was one of the most widely circulated encyclopaedic treatises in the second half of the thirteenth century. Composed in French, using material taken from various Latin source texts, and aimed at a lay audience, it was translated and adapted into Provençal, Italian, Dutch, German and English47 over the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with a large number of manuscripts (over 70 in French alone) and early prints of the various versions having survived.48 In 1318 a Dutch translation, Het Boek van Sidrac, was made by an anonymous Brabantine writer based in Antwerp.49 The Sidrac is another Dutch text which positions itself within the academic Latin tradition rather than the oral, romance tradition, and as such presents many views similar to those of Boendale and Maerlant. However, in using a respected French text as his immediate source, the translator’s strategies are rather different: his task in this case is to engage with French literature as a prestige vernacular even while rejecting its frivolous side, and demonstrate the need for an independent Dutch version of the work. The Sidrac prologue reveals an extremely self-aware translator at work. The ideas expressed in his prologue are entirely in keeping with wider medieval theories of translation, and the topics addressed in his 156-line prologue read almost like a checklist of the translator’s prologue motifs described in Chapter 3. The number of these covered by the much earlier Sidrac prologue can be taken as further evidence that the Middle Dutch translator’s prologue came of age earlier than its English equivalent. However, the amount of common ground it shares with the English tradition in terms of motifs again underlines the parallels between English and Dutch translation strategies in dealing with French as a prestige vernacular. The prologue begins by scolding those who read untruthful, unprofitable tales of adventure, ‘Van Partelpeuse, van Amedase, | Van Troyen ende van Fierenbrase | Ende menich boec datmen mint | Daer men luttel orboers in vint’ (of Partenope, of Amadas, of Troy and of Fierenbras, and many well-loved books in which one finds little profit), which the narrator suggests are ‘half logene [...] ende mere’ (half lies

46

‘Without rhyme, just as I saw it.’ The English translation, Sidrak and Bokkus, was composed in the fifteenth century and has no translator’s prologue save a reference to the knowledge found in ‘olde bokys’ in one of the two main versions of the text (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 559, line 1); a comparison between the two is not useful for the purposes of this study. For an edition and discussion, see Sidrak and Bokkus: A Parallel-Text Edition from Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 559 and British Library, MS Lansdowne 793, ed. by T. L. Burton, 2 vols, EETS O.S. 311, 312 (Oxford: OUP, 1998–9). 48 See Burton, Sidrak and Bokkus, vol. 1, pp. xxxii–xxxiii. 49 As the poet reveals: ‘Te Antwerpen daer ic wone | Soe quam my een boec ter hant’ (In Antwerp where I live, a book came into my hand). Het Boek van Sidrac, ed. by J. F. J. Van Tol, Het boek van Sidrac in de Nederlanden (Amsterdam: H. J. Paris, 1936), lines 46–7. All references are to this edition. 47

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and half legend).50 Readers and listeners are urged to reject these in favour of the ‘goede vrucht’ (good fruit) of spiritually or intellectually improving works, so that their time on earth may be profitably spent (lines 27–44). This type of ‘roll call’ motif, where a number of well-known characters from popular romance are invoked in prologues – either to set the scene in a new romance or to demonstrate the morally superior nature of a religious work – is often found in English prologues, and indeed throughout medieval literature as a whole. For instance, the Cursor Mundi prologue’s extensive list of ‘rimes’ and ‘romans’, which are contrasted unfavourably with the ‘frote’ which can be gained by the reading of books such as the present text, works in very much the same way, even to the use of the fruit metaphor, suggesting that they were aimed at similar types of audience.51 The Sidrac passage is also strikingly similar to the lines quoted above from the Spiegel Historiael attacking the ‘loghene van Perchevale’ and the ‘truffen van Lanvale’. However, where Maerlant’s use of a Latin source text enables his criticism of these romances to be at least partly aimed at their Frenchness, the Sidrac translator’s use of a French source text which he greatly admires – it is ‘een boec [...] | Daer ic en bescreven vant | Vele duechden ende wijsheden | Ende leringe van goeden seden’ (a book [...] in which I found written great virtue and wisdom and learning of good behaviour) – means that his division of literature into ‘loghene’ and ‘goede vrucht’ is along generic rather than linguistic lines. In his investigation into the avoidance of lies and the pursuit of truth, the Sidrac poet enters into a larger debate on the nature of truth which is a major theme in Middle Dutch artes-literature (reflected in Boendale’s precept in ‘Hoe dichters dichten sullen’ that ‘Writers should rightly make every attempt to avoid lies’). In looking at this problem from a translator’s viewpoint, the Sidrac poet asks a related question: how can a text which is itself truthful be most truthfully translated? His solution is to translate into prose rather than verse, seeing the former as the more truthful medium. As his source was written in prose, it must be translated into the same medium if its meaning is not to be distorted. Interestingly, he states this in an original verse prologue (suggesting, perhaps, that he still values verse for its decorative, mnemonic qualities): Doen werdic daer toe becoert, Dat ic dit boec woude maken Uten Walsche in Dietsche spraken, Sonder rime also ic sach, Dat hy inden Walsce lach, Omme dat ic van dier edelre leren Een woert [niet] woude anders keren, 50 51

Sidrac, lines 5–9. Cursor Mundi, Cotton version, lines 1–24, 258. For further examples, and discussion, of lists of romances of which authors disapproved in English prologues, see Furrow, Expectations of Romance, pp. 26–31.

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dant die edene wise clerc Selve dichte in sijn werc. Want rime, alsoe wijt vinden, Doet dicke die materie winden Anders danse die makere seide Ende ierstwerven int scrift leide. Die de materie sal leggen wale Van ere tale in een ander tale, Die sal den text leggen dan Soe hy alre gelijcxt can.52 [I was charmed into making this book out of French into Dutch speech, without rhyme, just as I saw it, as it was in the French, for I would not want to change one word of that noble learning which the noble wise clerk himself wrote in his work. For rhyme, as we find, often turns the matter away from what its maker said when he put it into writing for the first time. He who wishes to put his matter well from one language into another language must make his text as similar as he can.] The ‘verse-prose debate’, to use Orlanda Lie’s phrase, was one which concerned a substantial number of Middle Dutch writers in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and formed part of a larger, Europe-wide debate about the relative merits of prose and verse as media for composition.53 The Sidrac prologue is the earliest explicit reference to this in Dutch, but there are several other references to the debate in Dutch texts over the course of the later Middle Ages.54 In general, prose was perceived as being a more truthful medium. This seems to have been both because of its association with chronicles and historical factual writing, which were more likely to be written in prose, and because of the rivalry (already observed in Maerlant and Boendale) between written Latin culture, which favoured prose, and the vernacular oral tradition, which was invariably composed in verse. The English tradition is all but silent on the verse-prose debate, however, at least in the fourteenth century. Once again, we turn to Mannyng, who, as mentioned in Chapter 2, provides some of the most explicit statements about the merits of various literary forms in his Chronicle (a near-exact contemporary of the Sidrac). Mannyng does not mention prose at all, but expresses approval for verse, albeit a simple, easily memorable kind rather than the various exotic but impenetrable forms of ‘ryme couwee’, ‘strangere’ or ‘enterlace’ (‘þai sayd if I in strange it turne, | to here it manyon suld skurne’).55 However, as was seen in the earlier discussion, his arguments in 52

Sidrac, lines 54–70. See Orlanda S. H. Lie, ‘What is Truth? The Verse-Prose Debate in Medieval Dutch Literature’, Queeste 1 (1994), pp. 34–65, who includes an excellent discussion of the Sidrac prologue from this perspective. 54 For further examples see Lie, ‘What is Truth?’, pp. 50–3, 57–61. 55 Mannyng, Chronicle, lines 119–20. 53

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favour of ‘symple speche’ and ‘light ryme’ are a question of intelligibility (and, perhaps, distaste for unnecessary literary frippery) rather than accurate translation, with verse preferred for its mnemonic qualities. Mannyng reveals that both Wace and Peter of Langtoft also composed in verse, ‘rym[ing]’ their Latin sources, but there is no suggestion that this distorted the prose of Geoffrey of Monmouth. Later in the fourteenth century, The Legend of Good Women prologue has Alceste remarking of Chaucer that ‘He hath in prose translated Boece’, but does not elaborate on whether this is better or worse than a verse equivalent.56 In the early fifteenth century, however, we find a discussion of the matter in some of the minor poems of Hoccleve. He chooses to write the ‘moralyzynge’ of Jereslaus’ Wife in ‘prose [...] hoomly and pleyn’, implying it to be a more suitable medium for this more sober purpose, and declares at the end of his Lerne to Die, a verse translation of Henry Suso’s prose Latin Ars Moriendi, that for the final section of the work, ‘Translate wole y nat in rym, but prose, | ffor so it best is, as þat y suppose’.57 No concrete reason is given for this other than that it is ‘best’, and his remarks that ‘Touche y nat dar’ the previous three sections, which are in verse, are somewhat ambiguous; he seems to be suggesting, though, that extra effort is being expended on the final and most important section in its use of the worthier form of prose. However, these are isolated examples. The relative lack of attention paid to the question suggests that English writers were indeed aware of the relative roles of prose and verse, but that it was not a major area of controversy for them. The Sidrac poet’s translation-specific contribution to the verse-prose debate allows him to both praise and, ultimately, supplant his source in a way which has become familiar throughout the course of this study. His description of his exemplar as ‘edelre leren’ (noble learning) composed by an ‘edene wise clerc’ (noble wise clerk) serves to elevate both source and original auctor (using similar wording, for instance, to Laȝamon’s ‘Frenchis clerc [...] þe wel couþe writen’); his avowal that he is using prose because ‘ic [...] | Een woert [niet] woude anders keren’ (I would not want to change one word) places him and his translation in a respectfully ancillary position. Moreover, it allows him to follow in the footsteps of that master translator, Jerome: Alsoe alse sinte Jeronimus dede, Die de bybele ende menich ander werc Int latijn dichte als een clerc Uten Grixe, dat hy conste wale, Ende oec ute Ebreusche tale.

56 57

The Legend of Good Women, F prologue, line 425. Jereslaus’ Wife, Prologue to ‘Moralizacio’, line 25; Lerne to die, lines 920, 930–1. Both in Thomas Hoccleve, Hoccleve’s Works: The Minor Poems in the Phillipps MS. 8151 (Cheltenham) and the Durham MS. 111.9, ed. by F. J. Furnivall and I. Gollancz, EETS E.S. 61 (London: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1892).

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Hy en deder toe noch af Anders dant dauctor ute gaf.58 [It shall be seen that this is right, just as St Jerome did, who, like a clerk, [translated] the Bible and many other works into the Latin language from Greek, which he could do well, and also out of the Hebrew tongue. In this he did not add anything to or subtract anything from what the author supplied.] His citing of Jerome allows the Sidrac translator to position his work within the longer chain of translation and translatio studii stretching back to the beginnings of known civilisation, from Hebrew and Greek through Latin and then from the prestige vernacular of French into the poet’s native Dutch. As has been noted in earlier chapters, the apparent deference paid in this way to a more prestigious language by a less prestigious one is countered by the way in which such a statement can be used to suggest a shift in power from an older but less relevant language to a newer and more useful one. The Sidrac translator’s apparent deference to French is thus also a Dutch appropriation of the learning contained in the source. His reference to Jerome is also striking in comparison with the English prologues in the corpus; none of the French > English prologues I have studied mention Jerome by name, despite his high standing in the field of contemporary translation theory. This cannot be because he was unknown; references to him are common in Latin texts, and he is named in several Latin > English translations.59 It may be that it did not occur (or did not seem appropriate) to Middle English translators to incorporate Jerome into vernacular > vernacular prologues; while scholarly precepts could perhaps be more readily assimilated through translation from Latin, there may have been less readiness to cite such auctores in the less prestigious French > English prologue tradition. By contrast, the Sidrac poet’s reference suggests a conversance – however superficial – with Latinate, academic traditions of translation, which he was able to incorporate into, and so imbue with this authority, his French > Dutch prologue. Whilst it would be unwise to extrapolate too much on this from a single prologue, the Sidrac poet’s apparent readiness to engage with Hieronymian precepts, thus assimilating his prologue more closely with scholarly methods of translation, would seem to be continuing along the path laid out by Maerlant, of forming Dutch into a supple, versatile literary language that was capable of expressing the full range of both imaginative and academic thought.

58 59

Sidrac, lines 72–8. He is cited as a translator, for instance, in Trevisa’s ‘Dialogue Between the Lord and the Clerk on Translation’, p. 134 (‘Jerom translated thries the Sauter’).

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‘menighe avonture | Die nemmer mee ne wert bescreven’: Walewein’s Anti-Translator’s Prologue 6 0

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he Roman van Walewein (Gawain), which tells the story of Walewein’s pursuit of a magical flying chessboard and the adventures which follow, is generally acknowledged to be one of the finest original Middle Dutch Arthurian romances. Thanks to the 1992 English translation by David Johnson, it is also the Middle Dutch romance best known to the international scholarly community.61 Walewein was begun by a poet named Penninc, who composed the first 3,300 lines, and completed by a certain Pieter Vostaert; nothing is known about these two men other than their names (provided in the prologue and epilogue respectively). It is generally agreed by modern scholarship that the poets’ dialect is that of West Flanders, and it has cautiously been dated to c. 1230–c. 1260, but the place and circumstances of its composition remain unknown.62 Walewein is of particular interest to the present study for its explicit denial of a French source in its opening lines, where Penninc declares that it was not possible to translate the story from French because no such version exists: Vanden coninc Arture Es bleven menighe avonture Die nemmer mee ne wert bescreven. Nu hebbic ene scone up heven; Consticse wel in twalsche vinden, Ic soudse jou in dietsche ontbinden: Soe es utermaten scone!63 [There remain many adventures of King Arthur which have never yet been written down. Now I have begun a beautiful one; if I could find it in French, I would translate it for you into Dutch: it is extremely beautiful!] This creates what amounts to an anti-translator’s prologue; the framework of the translator’s prologue is used throughout Penninc’s account of the poem’s composition in the opening 32 lines, but the central claim of such prologues – that the text before the reader or listener is a translation – is turned on its head. As it is one 60

‘many adventures which have never yet been written down’. Walewein. ed. and trans. by Johnson and Claassens; this is a revised edition of Johnson’s original translation, Penninc and Pieter Vostaert: The Roman van Walewein (New York, NY: Garland, 1992). For an international response to the text, see the essays in Besamusca and Kooper, Originality and Tradition in the Middle Dutch Roman van Walewein. 62 For a discussion of the poets’ dialect, see E. van den Berg, e.g. ‘Over het lokaliseren van middelnederlandse rijmteksten’, Verslagen en Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie voor Taal- en Letterkunde 3 (1986), pp. 309–10. For dating, see Johnson and Claassens, Walewein, p. 7. 63 Walewein, lines 1–7. All Dutch line references are to Johnson and Claassen’s edition; the English translations are my own. Though I remain indebted to those in Johnson and Claassen, I have favoured a more literal approach. 61

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argument of this study that translation was an important way in which a developing vernacular language could, paradoxically, create an independent literary tradition, the existence of a prologue which appears to take this argument to its logical conclusion is an invaluable testament to this. To explicitly mention a lack of satisfactory source material is unusual in medieval writing; the desire to claim an auctor, genuine or otherwise, is generally far stronger. The only occurrence of a similar comment, so far as I know, is in the Middle Dutch Moriaen (c. 1200), another original Arthurian romance (discussed below), although no languages are named in this case. Certainly no Middle English romance addresses the issue in such a way. The opening stanzas of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, arguably Walewein’s closest English analogue (despite its many obvious differences to the Dutch poem, it is another apparently original Gawain romance of considerable complexity, written in full awareness of the French tradition but in a less prestigious vernacular64), take pains to ground the unfolding narrative within the very beginnings of the Arthurian tradition, and suggest that the author is relaying a tale that he has heard before: ‘I schal telle hit as-tit, as I in toun herde, with tonge’.65 Other Middle English romances which position themselves firmly within the wider traditions of their genre may use references to other tales as a way of building up to the main story, but emphasise that the new narrative is one which is also well established in the French tradition. The prologue to Lay le Freine, for instance, offers a catalogue of events found in ‘Layes that ben in harping’, with the eponymous lay being one of many possible stories the narrator could tell (‘Y can tel sum ac nought alle’).66 However, it is made clear that the story originally existed in Brittany, and that the present poem is an English version, with a necessarily translated title.67 Even where no particular French text is cited, vague references to French sources are ubiquitous; this is taken to perhaps its strongest degree in the works of Malory, in which a specific source is nowhere mentioned, but it is everywhere made clear that the tales are taken from ‘the Frensshe booke’. These options are also those more usually taken by Middle Dutch poets. Either a writer acknowledges a French source where one exists (as we saw, for example, in the lines from Floris ende Blancefloer which opened this chapter, or in the Brabant translation of the Roman de la Rose where the narrator declares that ‘Dies gijt selt teer van mi ontfaen, | Salic u in Dietsche ontbenden | Den droem’ (You would receive this from me rather earlier if I were to unfold the dream to you in Dutch)68), 64

For a comparison of narrative structure in Gawain and the Green Knight and Walewein, see Riddy, ‘Giving and Receiving’. Riddy raises the question of interchange between Dutch and English Arthurian traditions in the fourteenth century, given the known trade links between England and the Low Countries; although there is no evidence of literary exchange between the two, she suggests that it is ‘not inconceivable that [the Gawain-poet] encountered the Middle Dutch Walewein: it is precisely the kind of work we should expect him to be interested in’ (p. 103). 65 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, lines 31–2. 66 Lay le Freine, lines 3, 20. 67 Ibid., lines 23–6; see previous discussion in Chapter 3. 68 Die Rose, lines 28–30.

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makes references to ‘Walsce boucken’ or remains silent. For a poet to claim that he is attempting something new in his own vernacular language, introducing a text or even a genre already established in other literary traditions, is more common; in Dutch, one could cite Maerlant’s declaration in Der Naturen Bloeme that ‘noch noint in dietscen boeken | ne gheen dichtre wilde soeken | hiet te dichtene van naturen | van so messeliken creaturen | alse in desen boeken staen’ (never before in Dutch writing has any poet wished to try and write anything about the nature of such diverse creatures as are found in this book).69 However, in none of these cases do we find the explicit statement that a source in another language has not been used. Walewein’s denial of a source text can be read as an expression of the justification for additions to a cycle of Arthurian romances, as a way of lending weight to original compositions slotted into existing narratives, a fictitious claim that this story has always been part of the larger cycle of tales, and that it is a mere oversight which has prevented its recording up until now. One can see this impulse at work in Moriaen, which tells the story of the eponymous half-Moorish knight, a character who, it is revealed, is not mentioned in earlier stories due to the negligence of previous poets: Ic wane die gene die Lancelote maecte, Dat hem in sijn dichten vaechte, Dat hi vergat ende achterliet Van Moriane dat scone bediet. Mi wondert wies si hen onderwinden, Die dichten wilt ende rimen vinden, Sine volbrachten daer af die tale.70 [I believe that the one who wrote about Lancelot nodded off over his writing, for he forgot and left out the beautiful story of Moriaen. It is a wonder to me that they who enjoyed writing and finding rhymes did not attempt this, and did not complete the tale.] The existence of two similar statements within Dutch Arthurian romances is not quite enough evidence, perhaps, to point to a more general trend in Middle Dutch Arthurian literature for composers of new romances to graft new material into familiar narratives in this way. However, two independent occurrences of such a motif demonstrate that at least some Dutch writers were aware of the potential difficulties of introducing new material, and dealt with the problem in an ingenious way. This motif also suggests the confidence of the Walewein and Moriaen poets; in conjuring the image of a negligent French auctor, they use their prologues to display their simultaneous awareness of and independence from the French romance tradition.

69 70

Der Naturen Bloeme, lines 4–8. Moriaen, ed. by Jan te Winkel, Roman van Moriaen (Groningen: Wolters, 1878), lines 23–9. An English translation of this text by David F. Johnson and Geert H. M. Claassens is forthcoming as vol. IV of Dutch Romances.

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In Walewein, the explicit reference to translation, or lack thereof, makes this even more apparent. There seems no reason to doubt Penninc’s claim that the story cannot be found in French; there is no known French source for Walewein, and although Vostaert’s section includes a reference to ‘die walsce tale’ in line 11141, this seems more due to a conventional desire to root the poem in the world of French Arthurian romance than anything else. Penninc’s claim that his tale is one which has not yet been written down would seem to suggest that it is a narrative which has hitherto existed only in the oral tradition. This could certainly be true, and various medieval poets, such as Marie de France, have also made similar comments.71 Penninc’s explicit denial of a French source is not wholly unambiguous; his reference to the ‘menighe avonture | Die nemmer mee ne wert bescreven’ (many adventures which have never before been written down) may simply point to the fact that the Dutch poem’s origins lie in the oral tradition, and that it is the lack of a written French source, rather than the lack of a French source per se, which are being emphasised. However, the fact that the poet has gone out of his way to mention a hypothetical French source which is immediately revealed not to exist would seem a strong indication that he is consciously distancing himself from the French tradition, written or otherwise. It is possible that Penninc’s expression of desire for a French source could be taken at face value; if French was the language in which Arthurian romances were first composed and circulated, it would seem logical that a poet might expect the most authentic source material to be found in that language. Gerritsen suggests that the preference is genuine, commenting ‘I take it that Penninc wants to inform his audience that he would have preferred to have found a French version which he could then have translated into Dutch, instead of having no other choice than to put an oral story into writing’.72 However, Penninc’s words seem to me disingenuous. If the poet had wished to improve the pedigree of his Dutch poem by linking it to the French tradition, a far more well-trodden route for him to take would have been to adopt one of the methods inventoried above, inventing a spurious French source or creating a more general aura of Frenchness (as indeed Vostaert appears to want to do in line 11141) by inserting unspecified references to ‘the French book’ or ‘the French tale’. Instead, Penninc’s remarks confound any expectations which a reader might have about the French origins of Arthurian romance, and also imply an inadequacy on behalf of the French written tradition which has neglected to include this ‘utermaten scone’ tale. As there is no proof of the story’s ‘scone’ nature other than the version provided by Penninc, this compliment is implicitly extended to the Dutch poem, over which the poet declares he took great pains: 71

Cf. Marie’s ‘Des lais pensai, k’oïz avaei [...] Rimé en ai e fait ditié’ (I thought of lays which I had heard [...] I put them into verse [and] made poems from them). ‘Prologue’, Lais, lines 33, 41; trans. by Burgess and Busby, The Lais of Marie de France, p. 41. 72 W. P. Gerritsen, ‘Walewein Goes International’, TNTL 112 (1996), pp. 227–37, at p. 229.

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England [Hi] menighen nacht daer omme waecte Eer hijt vant in zijn ghedochte, Dat hu den boec ten ende brochte Daer hi tbegin of heit gheseit.73

[[He] stayed up many nights before he found in his mind how to bring the book to an end, of which he also wrote the beginning.] By the time, at the end of the prologue, Penninc has implored his audience to be silent so that he may ‘die scone tale | Seggen’ (tell the beautiful tale),74 his appropriation of the intrinsic beauty of the story into his own narrative is stronger still. He has no need to ‘ontbind[en]’ (‘translate’, literally ‘unfold’75) an existing written romance from French, for he is able to compose his own. As virtually nothing is known about the circumstances of the composition of Walewein, it would be unwise to draw too many conclusions from its prologue concerning Penninc’s views on the respective roles of French and Dutch literature. It would be a somewhat forced reading which makes a definite case for Penninc’s desire to create a more independent Dutch romance tradition which relies less on French sources. Still less can one extrapolate too much from a single prologue to make a more general argument about a movement away from a reliance on French sources on the part of Middle Dutch writers. The lack of any analogous statement in Middle English is likewise in no way conclusive. However, the occurrence of a similar passage in Moriaen does suggest, perhaps, a slight trend in Middle Dutch writing for a kind of anti-translation motif, one which is not found in English writing. Whilst English writers could rail against the lack of English-language material for anglophone audiences (‘Quat is for him na frankis can?’), it is never suggested that there was a shortage of French material for them to translate or adapt, even when they were in the process of writing original compositions. By contrast, Penninc’s explicit claim for the absence of a French source creates the impression of a writer confidently creating a ‘scone’ Dutch romance, suggesting the confidence of the larger Dutch Arthurian tradition.

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hroughout this chapter , two main themes become apparent. The first is the extent of the parallels between the Dutch and English traditions in the way they viewed translation from French, adapting and appropriating source texts from this prestige vernacular into what became, paradoxically, independent literary traditions. The second is the precocity and confidence of the Dutch tradition in relation to its English-language counterpart. It would not be correct to suggest

73

Walewein, lines 24–7. Ibid., line 30–1. 75 Middelnederlandsche Woordenboek, s.v. ‘ontbinden’(v.). This word is often used in Middle Dutch to describe the act of translating, e.g. in Die Rose, ‘Salic u in Dietsche ontbenden | Den droem’ (lines 29–30). The Middelnederlandsche Woordenboek supplies a whole spectrum of meanings for ‘ontbinden’, centring around the idea of ‘something released/revealed from something else’. 74

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that the medieval Low Countries were still more translation-conscious than was medieval England, for the trilingual nature of these cultures made both exceptionally aware of issues pertaining to translation; however, the stronger position of Dutch as an alternative literary vernacular from an earlier date meant that Dutch translators were able to discuss the transmission of both French and Latin into Dutch with a greater force and confidence, in a way that their English equivalents would not be able to do until the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

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ransl ation is an act of fundamental cultural movement, reflecting issues relating to culture, history, literacy and gender. With that in mind, this book offers an overview of French > English translation activity in England during a period when the formation of a new tradition, through means of translation, was at its height, examining this through the lens of prologues of translated works. These prologues formed a textual space in which ideas of translation, cultural transmission and other aspects of literary theory could be given at least passing consideration, and sometimes appreciably more, by medieval writers. For sociolinguistic reasons, writers in Britain between 1100 and 1450 were exceptionally aware of translation issues, and relative to the continental French, often regarded as makers of the European mainstream, they were remarkably precocious in certain aspects of their literary and textual culture for that reason. In the early Middle Ages, speakers in much of western and central Europe used a Latin-derived language, and the textual culture of the literate was undergoing a slow process of movement from transferral to translation. The distance between Latin and Romance was perceived and experienced in ways that have since been conceptualised by linguists as a state of diglossia, with the vernacular seen as an L form of Latin rather than as a separate language. Transferral turns into translation when the H and L varieties of a language become so divergent that the different registers acquire their own names, their own spelling systems and invade one another’s functions. This is what gradually happened in Latin Europe. The appearance of Latin > Romance translations in the twelfth century which named themselves as such was a crucial indication that a conceptual distinction was being made between separate languages. The key to understanding these conceptual changes is very often to be found in translators’ prologues. Any acknowledgements within a text that translation has taken place – both by the introduction of separate names for languages and by the use of verbs for ‘translate’ – are almost invariably found in the opening lines of the relevant works. Beginning with the first Anglo-Norman translations produced at the court of Henry I, these early translators used their prologues to develop ideas about translation by adapting earlier Latin prologue models and by evolving their own to address new concerns. They often positioned their translations as a form of exegesis rather than interlingual translation, a stance that remained a central part of translation theory throughout the medieval period, but was especially marked as Anglo-Norman writers sought to elevate their chosen language by emphasising its similarity to Latin. In Germanic language areas, by contrast, Latin was always a conceptually distinct language, and translation was both possible and necessary. Alcuin’s orthographic

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reforms, and the ruling by the 813 Council of Tours that a homily should be delivered ‘in rusticam Romanam linguam aut Theotiscam’, meant that writers in areas of largely or exclusively Germanic speech had a stronger incentive to create an alternative literary vernacular from a much earlier date. Again, ideas relating to literary theory and translation were commonly explored in prologues; the higher levels of translation-awareness generated by the clear linguistic distinction between Latin (in whatever variety) and German often led to much more rigorous, bolder discussions of translation. Pioneering Germanic translators, such as Otfrid von Weissenburg and Notker Labeo, argued that German could be used as a beautiful and expressive written language in its own right to convey the contents of Latin texts through translation. In England, an expression of this greater confidence in the capabilities of a Germanic language flourished in the late ninth-century translations of Ælfred, whose prologues were the first of their kind in English, and, in their scope, in any non-Latin medieval vernacular. The more exacting school of translation established around Winchester a hundred years later, which reached its apogee in the carefully crafted and reasoned prologues of Ælfric, helped to solidify the position of Old English as what was, perhaps, the most highly developed non-Latin literary language in Europe at that time. The events of 1066 gravely damaged an apparatus, built with great ability, which had made Old English an accomplished medium for translation. Much of its lexical stock was abandoned and its inflectional system (already, no doubt, eroding in the tenth century as the vowels of unaccented syllables degraded) was profoundly simplified. However, the continuing use of the language in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the predominance of English in sheer numerical, if not social, terms, ensured that the sense of translation into English never entirely faded. It was kept sharp – indeed it was sharpened – at the time of the Conquest by the imposition of a Romance language. The different types of transferral (that is, the transmission of content through diglossia or exegesis, rather than transposition from one language into another) and translation activity possible in England after 1066 can be expressed by the following:

(i) Latin > English (ii) Latin > Anglo-Norman (iii) French > Latin (iv) French > English (v) English > French (vi) English > Latin

only translation possible oscillation between translation and transferral rare translation (enriched by transferral) possible rare, but only translation possible rare

By contrast, the range of translation activity in continental France was much more limited:

(i) Latin > French (ii) French > Latin

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oscillation between translation and transferral, with emphasis on former rare

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The existence of a strong native tradition of vernacular writing would seem to have been a leading factor in the precocious development of Anglo-Norman literature in comparison with that of mainland France. The prologues of works such as Gaimar’s Estoire des Engleis and Waldef testify to francophone poets’ enthusiasm for the ‘granz estoires’ of the Anglo-Saxon past. Such references also give another indication, virtually a guarantee, that English-language narratives and other forms were more plentiful post-Conquest, perhaps in oral form, than the surviving written material suggests. By the time English-language writers came, in their turn, to translate the AngloNorman and French corpus for the benefit of anglophone audiences, there was already a long and complex history of translation in England. The earliest Englishlanguage works which drew on Anglo-Norman sources were able to appropriate much of the rhetorical framework for discussing translation from this tradition, as from its Latin parent. They used their prologues to voice many of the same arguments that were articulated in their Anglo-Norman exemplars. However, for these English translators there were additional concerns in play; many prologues express the sense of a ‘national’ battle to be fought in terms of earlier traditions to be recovered, and the need for a ‘national’ identity to be established through use of English (‘Ingland the nacion’), although this did not necessarily accord with the multilingual reality of England during this period. The corpus of English translators’ prologues charts the development of a rhetoric of French > English translation which is both reflected in these prologues and actively shaped by them. From the ‘þrum[ing]’ or condensing activity mentioned in Laȝamon’s Brut, through those prologues written around the turn of the fourteenth century most concerned with establishing a new English tradition by means of translation, to the highly elaborate, formalised prologues of Caxton in the late fifteenth century, we can see the working out of a vocabulary and series of conventions for describing and conceptualising French > English translation. Although the models for many of these prologues were taken from their Anglo-Norman and French exemplars, which had themselves been adapted from Latin prologues, these were soon adapted to reflect the particular concerns of the English translators. Many of the motifs, such as the citing of a source in ‘a boke as y fonde ynne’, or the references to the universality of English, remain constant but become increasingly elaborate; the appearance of motifs in Caxton’s prologues which were present in that of Laȝamon some three hundred years earlier serves as a reminder that Caxton was writing within a long-established and self-aware tradition of French > English translation that the prologues bring to light. The developing conventions and motifs of the English prologues lead to a consideration of one motif in particular – that of the translator figure himself – and they raise the question of how the construction of this figure accorded with what can be learned about actual practice. Whilst many elements in the descriptions of translators at work are highly stylised, some (such as the accounts of how exemplars were used or the biographical information) can also offer an insight into various aspects

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of translation practice. The supplementary evidence offered by illuminated images of writers and translators, which often act as the visual equivalent of prologues, provide further incidental detail about translators. Both visual and verbal depictions, however, are perhaps of most use as a trace of how writers intended to shape the audience’s view of the act of translation they had accomplished. The often artificially aggravated opposition between ‘clerks’ and ‘minstrels’ in the creation of translations, and the apparent lack of a separate identity for women translators, also suggest that translators were intended to be viewed in certain, stylised ways. When considering the question of how translators went about their work, it is essential to consider the ways in which they may have come by their language skills. For the great majority of people, including a good number of translators, French was an artificially acquired language to a greater or lesser extent. Though there is very limited direct evidence relating to the teaching of French prior to the latefourteenth-century activity of Thomas Sampson and his Oxford colleagues, and still less concerning the particular educational circumstances of individual translators, a wide-ranging examination of various types of evidence, where it may be found, allows for the construction of various hypotheses of how French may have been acquired by the translators in this study. The variety of contexts in which French could be learned, many of which were not confined to ‘hau[ing] it of scole tane’, means that it was more accessible to women as a second language than Latin, particularly in women’s houses where there was a high level of French, and the existence of Eleanor Hull’s translations means that women should not be discounted as possible French > English translators. The evidence in the prologues and epilogues of Clemence of Barking and her twelfthcentury contemporaries, along with that of Eleanor, suggests that women who translated did so without drawing attention to their gender in any way apart from either naming themselves or being named; while this may make the case for other, unnamed, women translators largely an argumentum e silencio, the role of women in this field should not be discounted in the picture being built up of French > English translation practice and the rhetoric surrounding this expressed in prologues. Like the images of translators presented in prologues, those of audiences were often stylised and conventionalised. However, a comparison between these images and manuscript evidence suggests that evocations of audiences were often reasonably accurate (if schematised) representations of their intended readers and listeners, and to an extent which is not always recognised. This is even the case with the addresses to women found in The Knowing of Woman’s Kind; an examination of the manuscripts of this treatise suggests that most of them may well have been used by women readers. The consideration of mouvance in prologues raises the issue of the later life of the prologue and casts the audience as potential author-translators themselves in the form of scribes and compilers. The ways in which prologues encouraged the alteration of texts, and were subject to alteration themselves in response to changing needs, support the view that the images of audience were often the product of careful thought.

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The role of French as the dominant European literary vernacular during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries meant that translation from French was a Europewide phenomenon. Writers in various countries endeavoured to construct new literary traditions in their own languages from the dominant French corpus. For the English material, a particularly useful comparison can be made with the French > Dutch translators’ prologues written in the thirteenth-century Low Countries, where the sociolinguistic conditions were in some ways comparable. The Dutch translators used many techniques to promote and elevate ‘Dietsch’ as a literary vernacular which parallel those used in the English prologues; moreover, in comparison with the English tradition, these prologues are often characterised by a greater forcefulness and confidence in their promotion of Dutch. Further study of this material, which has been relatively little-studied outside the Netherlands, may yield further insights into pan-European translation theory. Far more often than has been realised, the act of translation in medieval England, as elsewhere, found expression in the translator’s prologue. These prologues offer a framework built by the translators themselves through which the work of translation can be approached in a comprehensive and historical manner. As a commentary on the creation of an established ‘English’ tradition by means of translation from French, and sometimes as a means of shaping it, the prologues played an important role in creating a critical vocabulary which was capable of articulating, and thus further developing, the concerns and abilities of English as an independent literary language.

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Appendix 1

Breakdown of Corpus Motifs (as given in Chapter 3) (i) Citing of source A Said to be translated from French B Said to be translated from Latin C Sense of book as physical object D Mentions French author by name E Mentions Latin sources F Discusses unbroken tradition from Greek/Latin G Reference to philosophers/authorities H Sense of traditions of genre Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250) Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300) Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) Handlyng Synne (begun 1303) The Lay-Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–1325) The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325) Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–1325) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–1330) Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–1330) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315) The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338) The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340) William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) Northern Octavian (c. 1325–1375) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400) Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384) The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s) Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425) The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–1450) Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–1450) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)

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A X

B X

C X

D E X X X X

X

X X

G H

X

X X

X

F

X X X X X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X X X

X X

X X

X X

X

X

X

X

X X X

X X

X

X

X X

X

X

X X

X

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England

(ii) Discussion of title translation

Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250) Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300) Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) Handlyng Synne (begun 1303) The Lay-Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–1325) The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325) Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–1325) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–1330) Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–1330) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315) The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338) The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340) William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) Northern Octavian (c. 1325–1375) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400) Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384) The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s) Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425) The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–1450) Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–1450) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)

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X X

X X

X

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251

(iii) Discussion of the English language

A Mentions that it is in English B Apology for its inferior nature C References to English as mother tongue D English more easily understood E Linked with English people Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250) Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300) Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) Handlyng Synne (begun 1303) The Lay-Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–1325) The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325) Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–1325) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–1330) Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–1330) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315) The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338) The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340) William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) Northern Octavian (c. 1325–1375) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400) Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384) The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s) Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425) The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–1450) Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–1450) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)

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A

B

C

X X X X X X

X

D

E

X

X

X X X

X

X X X X X X X X X X

X

X

X X X

X X X X

X

X

X X

X

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England

(iv) Characterisation of French

A More prestigious language B Language of court/aristocracy C More poetic/beautiful language D A foreign language Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250) Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300) Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) Handlyng Synne (begun 1303) The Lay-Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–1325) The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325) Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–1325) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–1330) Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–1330) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315) The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338) The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340) William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) Northern Octavian (c. 1325–1375) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400) Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384) The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s) Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425) The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–1450) Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–1450) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)

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A

B

X

X

C

D

X X

X X

X X

X X

X

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Appendix 1

253

(v) Reference to the text as a translation

A Use of verb for ‘translate’ B Discussion of rhyme/metre C Cutting/expansion of original D Time difference acknowledged Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250) Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300) Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) Handlyng Synne (begun 1303) The Lay-Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–1325) The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325) Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–1325) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–1330) Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–1330) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315) The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338) The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340) William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) Northern Octavian (c. 1325–1375) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400) Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384) The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s) Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425) The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–1450) Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–1450) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)

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A X

B

C X

X X X X

X

X

X

X X X

D

X X X

X

X X X X X X X X

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England

(vi) Problems faced by the translator

A Smaller vocabulary of English B Lack of skill on part of translator C Poor knowledge of French Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250) Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300) Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) Handlyng Synne (begun 1303) The Lay-Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–1325) The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325) Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–1325) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–1330) Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–1330) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315) The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338) The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340) William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) Northern Octavian (c. 1325–1375) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400) Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384) The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s) Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425) The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–1450) Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–1450) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)

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A

B

X

X

C

X

X

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255

(vii) The translator’s mentioning of himself (by name, profession or location) A Names himself B Biographical information C Melds ‘I’ persona with that of original Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250) Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300) Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) Handlyng Synne (begun 1303) The Lay-Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–1325) The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325) Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–1325) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–1330) Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–1330) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315) The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338) The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340) William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) Northern Octavian (c. 1325–1375) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400) Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384) The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s) Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425) The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–1450) Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–1450) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)

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A B X X

C

X X X

X X X X X

X

X

X

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England

(viii) Reference to audience

A Addresses/acknowledges audience B States it is written for the ‘lewed’ C Names patron Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250) Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300) Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) Handlyng Synne (begun 1303) The Lay-Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–1325) The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325) Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–1325) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–1330) Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–1330) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315) The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338) The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340) William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) Northern Octavian (c. 1325–1375) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400) Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384) The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s) Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425) The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–1450) Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–1450) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)

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A X X

B

X X X X

X X X X

X X X

X

C

X X X X X X X

X X X X X

X X

X

X

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Appendix 1

257

(ix) The purpose of the translation

A To entertain B To educate Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250) Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300) Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) Handlyng Synne (begun 1303) The Lay-Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–1325) The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325) Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–1325) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–1330) Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–1330) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315) The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338) The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340) William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) Northern Octavian (c. 1325–1375) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400) Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384) The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s) Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425) The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–1450) Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–1450) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)

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A X X

B

X X X

X X X X X

X

X X X X X X

X

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Translators and their Prologues in Medieval England

(x) Religious references

A In opening invocation B Invocation to Mary C Prayer for writer D Prayer for audience E  Prayer for patron Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250) Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300) Cursor Mundi (c. 1300) Handlyng Synne (begun 1303) The Lay-Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–1325) The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325) Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–1325) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–1330) Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–1330) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315) The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338) The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340) William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) Northern Octavian (c. 1325–1375) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400) Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384) The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s) Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425) The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–1450) Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–1450) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)

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A

B

X

C X

D E X X

X X

X X X X X X X X

X X X

X X X

X

X X

X

X

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259

(xi) Description of text’s contents

Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250)

X

Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300)

X

Cursor Mundi (c. 1300)

X

Handlyng Synne (begun 1303)

X

The Lay-Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–1325)

X

The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325) Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–1325) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–1330) Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–1330) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315) The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338)

X

The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340)

X

William of Palerne (c. 1350–61) Northern Octavian (c. 1325–1375) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400)

X

Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384)

X

The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s) Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400) The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425)

X

The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–1450) Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–1450) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)

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appendix 2

Table of Verbs Used to Represent Translation in the Corpus Brut (Laȝamon) (1189–c. 1250)

‘sette’, ‘fiede’, ‘þrumde’

Of Arthour and of Merlin (c. 1250–1300) Sir Tristrem (c. 1275–1300) The Castle of Love (c. 1300) Cursor Mundi (c. 1300)

‘translate’

Handlyng Synne (begun 1303)

‘make’, turnede’

The Lay-Folks Mass Book (c. 1300–1325)

‘drawe’

The Seege of Troye (c. 1300–1325)

‘turnede’, ‘wrote’

Richard Coer de Lyon (c. 1300–1325) Lay le Freine (c. 1300–1330)

‘tellen’

Sir Orfeo (c. 1300–1330) Northern Homily Cycle (c. 1315)

‘undo’

The Chronicle (Mannyng) (1338)

‘schewed’, ‘telle’, ‘layd’, ‘made’, ‘turne’, ‘ryme’, ‘bringe’, ‘ouerhippis’

The Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340)

‘ywrite’

William of Palerne (c. 1350–61)

‘translate’

Northern Octavian (c. 1325–1375) The Myrour of Lewed Men (c. 1350–1400)

‘turned’

Speculum Vitae (shortly before 1384)

‘telle’, turnyd’

The Legend of Good Women (late 1380s)

‘translated’, ‘made’, ‘wrot’, ‘enditen’

Sir Launfal (c. 1375–1400)

‘made’

The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing (c. 1375–1425)

‘drawe’, ‘translate’, ‘drawen and wreten’

The Sowdon of Babylon (c. 1375–1425) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley) ‘translated’ (1420s) King and Four Daughters (c. 1400–1450)

‘ryme’

Partenope of Blois (c. 1400–1450) La Belle Dame Sans Mercy (Roos) (c. 1450)

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‘translate’

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appendix 3

Brief Biographical Information on the Translators The life of Chaucer is, of course, extremely well documented. See e.g. Paul Strohm, The Poet’s Tale: Chaucer and the Year that Made the Canterbury Tales (London: Profile Books, 2015); Derek Pearsall, The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer: A Critical Biography (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1992). For Laȝamon, see e.g. Carole Weinberg, ‘“By a noble church on the bank of the Severn”: A Regional View of Layamon’s Brut’, Leeds Studies in English n.s. 26 (1995), pp. 49–62; W. R. J. Barron, ‘The Idiom and the Audience of Laȝamon’s Brut’, in Laɵamon: Contexts, Language and Interpretation, ed. by Rosamund Allen, Lucy Perry and Jane Roberts (London: King’s College London, Centre for Late Antique & Medieval Studies, 2002), pp. 157–84; John Frankis, ‘Laȝamon or the Lawman? A Question of Names, a Poet and an Unacknowledged Legislator’, Leeds Studies in English n.s. 34 (2003), pp. 109–24. Conjectural biographies of Robert Mannyng have been drawn up by several scholars, the most comprehensive still being Ruth Crosby, ‘Robert Mannyng of Brune: A New Biography’, PMLA 57 (1942), pp. 15–28. See also Stephen A. Sullivan, ‘Handlyng Synne in its Tradition’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1979, pp. 77–86; Matthew Sullivan, ‘Biographical Notes on Robert Mannyng of Brunne and Peter Idley, the Adapter of Robert Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne’, N&Q 41 (1994), pp. 302–4; and Michael Stephenson, ‘Further Biographical Notes on Robert Mannyng of Brune’, N&Q 45 (1998), pp. 284–5. For education within the Gilbertine order, see Brian Golding, Gilbert of Sempringham and the Gilbertine Order, c.1130–1300 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), pp. 170–87. For a discussion of the circumstances surrounding Dan Michel’s composition of The Ayenbite of Inwyt, see W. N. Francis, ‘The Original of the “Ayenbite of Inwyt”’, PMLA 52 (1937), pp.  893–5. Twenty-four books donated by Dan Michel to the Abbey of St Augustine at Canterbury are described in Max Förster, ‘Die Bibliothek des Dan Michael von Northgate’, Archiv 115 (1905), pp. 167–9. A full-length biography of Roos has been written by Ethel Seaton, Sir Richard Roos c. 1410–1482: Lancastrian Poet (London: Hart-Davies, 1961), and his authorship of the English Belle Dame Sans Mercy is usually accepted. Roos, ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’, in Chaucerian Dream Visions and Complaints, ed. by Dana M. Symons (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2004). However, Douglas Gray has suggested that there is more than one Richard Roos who could have translated Chartier’s poem, and, as Ad Putter points out, the translation is only attributed to Roos in one of the seven extant manuscripts of the poem. One must, therefore, exercise caution in crediting Roos definitively with this work. Putter, ‘Fifteenth-Century Chaucerian Visions’, in A Companion to Fifteenth-Century Poetry, ed. by Julia Boffey

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and A. S. G. Edwards (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2013), pp. 143–56; Gray, Later Medieval English Literature (Oxford: OUP, 2008), p.  351. For further discussion of the circumstances in which Roos might have translated the poem, see Ashby Kinch, ‘A Naked Roos: Translation and Subjection in the Middle English La Belle Dame Sans Mercy’, JEGP 105 (2006), pp. 415–45, esp. pp. 422–9. For a convincing argument that ‘Quixley’ can be identified with Robert de Quixley, prior of the Augustinian house of Nostell Priory and prebend of Branham from 1393 until his death in 1427, see F. R. Yeager, ‘Appendix 1: A Translation of the Traité (‘Quixley’)’ in John Gower: The French Balades, ed. by Yeager (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2011), pp. 153–73, at pp. 153–63. Yeager’s identification is at odds with – and more convincing than – the earlier assertion made by Henry Noble MacCracken, Quixley’s only other editor, who suggests him to be John Quixley, lord of Quixley manor in what is now Whixley, North Yorkshire, who made the translation in 1402. MacCracken, ‘Quixley’s Ballades Royal (? 1402)’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 20 (1909), pp. 33–50. All that can be known with certainty about ‘Thomas Chestre’, who declares that he has ‘made’ Sir Launfal, is his name, although the naming of a ‘Thomas de Chestre’ alongside Chaucer in a 1361 list of ransomed soldiers lends intriguing, but ultimately inconclusive, support to A. J. Bliss’ suggestion that Chestre may have been a friend of Chaucer (see Chapter 4, n. 1). For dating and geographical location of the text, see Bliss’ edition, Sir Launfal (London: T. Nelson, 1960), pp. 9–10, 15. It is generally accepted that Chestre also ‘made’ the Southern Octavian and Libeaus Desconus. Maldwyn Mills makes a convincing argument for common authorship, based on similarities in compositional style, similar corruptions of details present in the sources and the use of similar words and phrases in all three; see Mills, ‘The Composition and Style of the “Southern” Octavian, Sir Launfal, and Libeaus Desconus’, Medium Ævum 30 (1961), pp. 8–109. The tantalisingly specific-sounding references in William of Palerne to the author, ‘William’, and his patron have led to a certain amount of scholarly speculation on the circumstances of the poem’s composition; see e.g. Thorlac Turville-Petre, ‘Humphrey de Bohun and William of Palerne’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 75 (1974), pp. 250–2; Bunt, G. V. H., ed., William of Palerne: An Alliterative Romance, Edited from King’s College Cambridge MS 13 (Gronigen: Bouma, 1990). For further discussion of this, see Chapter 7. Only two out of forty-five extant manuscripts of the Speculum Vitae name William of Nassington, a prominent ecclesiastical lawyer, as the poem’s author; another manuscript (Cambridge University Library, MS Ll. 1. 8) attributes the poem to Richard Rolle. However, this has encouraged Ingrid J. Peterson to assert Nassington’s authorship. A. I. Doyle finds the attribution ‘of doubtful authority, but likely enough’. Ralph Hanna is more sceptical, suggesting that the Nassington ascriptions ‘have just as little to recommend them [as those crediting Rolle]’. Peterson, William of Nassington: Canon, Mystic, and Poet of the Speculum Vitae (New York, NY: Peter Lang, 1986); Doyle, ‘A Survey of the Origins and Circulation of the Theological

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Appendix 3

263

Writings in English in the 14th, 15th and Early 16th Centuries’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1953), p. 81; Speculum Vitae: A Reading Edition, ed. by Hanna, using materials assembled by Venetia Somerset, EETS O.S. 331, 332 (Oxford: OUP, 2008), p. lx.

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Summerfield, Thea, ‘‘‘And she answered in hir Language”: Aspects of Multilingualism in the Auchinleck Manuscript‘, in Multilingualism in Medieval Britain (c. 1066–1520): Sources and Analysis, ed. by Judith Jefferson and Ad Putter, with Amanda Hopkins (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), pp. 241–58 Taylor, Andrew, ‘The Myth of the Minstrel Manuscript’, Speculum 66 (1991), pp. 43–73 —— ‘Fragmentation, Corruption, and Minstrel Narration: The Question of the Middle English Romances’, Yearbook of English Studies 22 (1992), pp. 38–62 Thijs, Christine B., ‘Early Old English Translation: Practice Before Theory?’, Neophilologus 91 (2007), pp. 149–73 Thompson, John J., ‘The Cursor Mundi, the “Inglis tong”, and “Romance”’, in Readings in Medieval English Romance, ed. by Carol M. Meale (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1994), pp. 99–120 —— The ‘Coursor Mundi’: Poem, Texts and Contexts, Medium Ævum monographs, NS 19 (Oxford: Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature, 1998) —— ‘“Frankis rimes here I redd, / Communlik in ilk[a] sted...”: The French Bible Stories in Harley 2253’, in Fein, Studies in the Harley Manuscript, pp. 271–87 Thomson, David, A Descriptive Catalogue of Middle English Grammatical Texts (New York: Garland, 1979) Trudel, Guy, ‘The Middle English Book of Penance and the Readers of the Cursor Mundi’, Medium Ævum 74 (2005), pp. 10–33 Turville-Petre, J. E., ‘Studies on the Ormulum MS’, JEGP 46 (1947), pp. 1–27 Turville-Petre, Thorlac, ‘Humphrey de Bohun and William of Palerne’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 75 (1974), pp. 250–2 —— The Alliterative Revival (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1977) —— England the Nation: Language, Literature and National Identity, 1290–1340 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996) Tyler, Elizabeth M., ‘From Old English to Old French’, in Language and Culture in Medieval Britain: The French of England c.1100–c.1500, ed. by Jocelyn Wogan-Browne and others (York: York Medieval Press, 2009), pp. 164–78 Vitz, Evelyn Birge, Orality and Performance in Early French Romance (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1999) —— ‘Minstrel meets Clerk in Early English Literature: Medieval Romance as the MeetingPlace between Two Traditions of Verbal Eloquence and Performance Practice’, in Medieval Cultures in Contact, ed. by Richard Gyug (New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2003), pp. 189–209 Vogel, Bertram, ‘The Dialect of Sir Tristrem’, JEGP 40 (1941), pp. 538–44 Walters, Lori J., ‘Appendix: Author Portraits and Textual Demarcation in Manuscripts of the Romance of the Rose’, in Rethinking the Romance of the Rose: Text, Image, Reception, ed. by Kevin Brownlee and Sylvia Huot (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992), pp. 359–73 Warnar, Geert, ‘Men of Letters: Medieval Dutch Literature and Learning’, in University, Council, City: Intellectual Culture on the Rhine (1300–1550). Acts of the XIIth International Colloquium of the Société Internationale pour l’Etude de la Philosophie Médiévale, Freiburg im Breisgau, 27–29 October 2004, ed. by Laurent Cesalli, Nadja Germann and Maarten J. F. M. Hoenen (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), pp. 221–46 Weinberg, Carole, ‘“By a noble church on the bank of the Severn”: A Regional View of Layamon’s Brut’, Leeds Studies in English n.s. 26 (1995), pp. 49–62 Whiting, B. J., ‘A Fifteenth-Century English Chaucerian: The Translator of Partonope of Blois’, Mediaeval Studies 7 (1945), pp. 40–54 Willaert, Frank, ‘Entre trouvères et Minnesänger: la poésie de Jean Ier, duc de Brabant’, in Courtly Literature – Culture and Context: Selected Papers from the Fifth Triennial Congress

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Index

Note: page numbers in italics are for illustrations Adeliza, Queen of Henry I  27 Adhelm, De virginitate III 39 ‘æðel’ 70–1 Ælfred of Wessex Cura Pastoralis  40, 44–6, 48, 69, 93 pseudo-Ælfredian, Proverbs of Alfred 54 Ælfric, translation of Genesis  39–40, 47–9, 59 Æsop 177, 178, 179 Æthelwold 47 Ailes, Marianne  142, 151 Aili, Hans  125 Alcuin 23 Aldobrandino of Siena, Li Livres dou Sante 113–14, 113 Alexander, Jonathan  114 Alfonso Pecha da Vadaterra  124–5 Allen, Rosamund  5, 110–11, 211 Amans figure, Roman de la Rose  102, 104 Ancrene Wisse 203 Anglo-Norman Dictionary (AND) 27–8 Anglo-Norman translators’ prologues  8–9, 25–38, 71–2 Anglo-Norman > French translation 25–34 Latin > French translation  34–7 writer’s identity concealed or adopted 101–4 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle  29–30, 50 Anglo-Saxon translators’ prologues  31–3, 39–40, 43–50, 70–1 anonymous translators clerks and minstrels as translators  100 Monk of Sallay  93–4 nun of Barking  102, 146, 172–3, 179–80 nun, possibly named ‘Crane’  182–4, 203 Areley (Areley Kings, Worcester)  68, 70, 106 aristocratic patronage  29, 67, 79–80, 151, 196–7, 223–4

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Aristotelian prologue  5, 22, 64–5, 101 ars dictaminis (papal epistle)  45 ars extrinsecus (‘extrinsic prologue’)  22 ars intrinsecus (‘intrinsic prologue’)  22 Arthurian romance, Middle Dutch versions  228–9, 240–2 see also lays; Of Arthour and of Merlin; romance translators’ prologues; Sir Tristrem; Walewein; William of Palerne Auchinleck manuscript  87(n81), 90, 109, 134, 198–9, 215–16 see also Of Arthour and of Merlin audience Anglo-Norman, multilingual  71–2 late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries  90–2, 189–217 larger, named groups  192–5 linguistic skills of  192–4, 209 Middle Dutch  223–4, 229 mouvance 210–17 specific, and patronage  27, 29, 67, 70–2, 79–80, 151, 195–7, 223–4 and texts bound together  197–201 translations of Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour 90–2 women  163, 164, 183–4, 201–10 referenced as prologue motif  64, 256 Aurora (Riga)  211 author portraits  109–10 Aldobrandino of Siena  113 Ezra (prophet)  115 Guillaume de Lorris  122–3, 122, 123 Jean de Meun  117, 122–3, 122, 123 Jean Miélot  119 Jerome  121 Laurence of Durham  116 Laȝamon  111 Marie de France  178 Matthew the Evangelist  116

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scribes  112, 118, 119 see also pictorial images authorship Chaucer, authorial independence and intention 82–3 concepts of auctor and auctoritas  21, 101, 103 Anglo-Norman  25, 26 Bible as ‘ultimate auctor’  75, 212 female  173–6, 181–5 conflation of author and translator  101, 103 iconography of author  111–14, 111, 112, 113 of lays  87 and textual alteration  212–14 see also translator figure; women translators Ayenbite of Inwyt, The (Dan Michel)  106–8, 194, 261 Barking, nun of  102, 172–3, 179–80 Barratt, Alexandra  162–3, 208 Bede Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum 68, 70 probable image of, in Life of St Cuthbert  112 Belle Dame Sans Mercy, La (Roos)  97–8, 104–5, 261–2 Benedeit, Voyage of St Brendan  26–7, 28 Benedictine Rule Æthelwold’s translation  47 anonymous nun’s translation  182–4, 203 Benoît de Sainte-Maure, Roman de Troie 31, 78–9, 232 Bestiary (Philippe de Thaon)  27–8 Bibbesworth, Walter de, Tretiz  142, 150–3 Bible Ælfric’s translation of Genesis  39–40, 47–9, 59 Maerlant’s Rijmbibel  226, 227 as ultimate auctoritas  75, 212 Blund, John  146–8 Boendale, Jan van, ‘Hoe dichters dichten sullen’ (In Der Leken Spieghel)  224–5, 229 Boethius Ælfred’s translation of  46 De differentiis topicis 22 Bohler, Daniele  3–4

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Bokenham, Osbern, Legendys of Hooly Wummen 64–5 Bonaventure 4 book-rests and writing-boards  108, 116, 117, 118–20, 118, 119 book-stores  108–9, 115, 115 books, format and size  207–9 see also texts Borges, Jorge Luis  66 Bozon, Nicholas, Proverbes de bon enseignement 153 Breton > English translation  86–90 Breton > French translation  89 Breton lay prologue  88–90 Brewer, Derek  129 Bridget of Sweden, Revelaciones 124–5, 126, 127, 166–7, 170–1, 182 Brut (Laȝamon) see Laȝamon; Roman de Brut Brykhulle, Geste de Blancheflour e de Florence 31 Bullock-Davies, Constance  135, 137–8 Bunt, G. V. H.  80, 97 Butterfield, Ardis  58, 141, 143, 156, 193 Cannon, Christopher  9, 51, 58, 83 Canterbury Tales (Chaucer)  110, 114 The Franklin’s Prologue 90 The Miller’s Tale  132, 213 The Prioress’s Tale 168–9 The Second Nun’s Tale  165, 185–7 The Wife of Bath’s Tale 181 Cartlidge, Neil  111 Castle of Love  65, 72, 92–3, 99, 103, 195 Caxton, William  94–6, 144, 145 Eneydos  1, 95–6 The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye 58, 144, 145 Celtic languages > French translation  137–8 Charlemagne, educational reforms  23, 41 Chateau d’Amour (Grosseteste), translations Castle of Love  65, 72, 92–3, 103, 195 Foure Doghters  57, 65, 90 King and Four Daughters  57, 65, 91–2, 99–100, 194 Myrour of Lewed Men  65, 91, 93–4, 99–100 Chaucer, Geoffrey as poet and compared with Maerlant 226–7 ‘Father Chaucer’ myth  43, 83

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Index translation practice  81–3 visual images of  110, 114 Canterbury Tales  110, 114 The Franklin’s Prologue 90 The Miller’s Tale  132, 213 The Prioress’s Tale 168–9 The Second Nun’s Tale  165, 185–7 The Wife of Bath’s Tale 181 Complaint of Venus  36, 57–8, 59 Legend of Good Women  12, 81–2, 83, 105, 236 Romaunt of the Rose  12, 81, 82–3 Troilus and Criseyde  3, 83 Chestre, Thomas, Sir Launfal  63, 84, 98, 262 Chrétien de Troyes, Erec et Enide  134–5, 136 Christine de Pizan  174–5, 177, 181 ‘L’Epistre au Dieu d’Amours’  157 Chronicle (Mannyng)  56, 60, 77–8, 130, 192, 196, 211, 232 verse-prose debate  235–6 Cicero 19–20 De Inventione 19 De Optimo Genere Oratorum 19–20 pseudo-Ciceronian, Rhetorica ad Herennium 19 Clanchy, M. T.  27, 50 Classical prologue  19–20, 26 Clemence of Barking, Life of St Catherine of Alexandria  172, 173, 180 ‘clerk’ and ‘minstrel’ translators  100, 128–38 clerk-minstrel personae  134–7 distinction between  130 ‘minstrel translations’  137–8 oral and scribal transmission  128–30, 137 prologue evidence for  131–8 clerks (clerics)  132 French and Latin language skills  145–6, 158–60, 192–3, 194–5 priest-author archetype  106–8 Codex Amiatinus  114, 115, 115 Colledge, Edmund  167 commissions see patronage Compendium of Medicine (Gilbertus Anglicus) 206–7 compilation, translation as  66–7, 70, 76–83 Complaint of Venus (Chaucer)  36, 57–8, 59 Copeland, Rita  3, 6, 9, 19 copying from exemplar  53, 118, 120 corpus of Middle English translations  10–12, 97–9

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French romance tradition  225, 226, 229–32 genres 63–4 Council of Tours (813)  23–4, 40 Crane (anonymous nun and translator)  184 Cura Pastoralis (Ælfred of Wessex)  40, 44–6, 48, 69, 93 Cursor Mundi  12, 56, 57, 72–3, 74, 75–6, 93 intended audience  189, 193–4, 199, 234 Southern version  214 translator’s identity  99 Damian-Grint, Peter  25, 26, 30, 35 Dan Michel, Ayenbite of Inwyt, The 106–8, 194, 261 Dante De Vulgari Eloquentia 25 Vita Nuova 163 De differentiis topicis (Boethius)  22 De virginitate III (Adhelm)  39 De Vulgari Eloquentia (Dante)  25 Debat d’Honneur, Le ( Jean Miélot)  119, 120 Deeds of the Normans in Ireland, The 138 Dekeyser, Xavier  9–10 desks and writing-boards  108, 116, 117, 118–20, 118, 119 ‘Dialogue between the Lord and the Clerk on Translation’ (Trevisa)  54–5, 141, 224 Djordjević, Ivana  7 Donoghue, Daniel  66 Durkin, Philip  10, 58 Dutch see Middle Dutch translators’ prologues Dyonise de Mountechesni  150, 152 editorial change see audience; mouvance; source texts; texts education see Charlemagne; French, status and use in England Egil’s Saga 136 Ekkehard IV, Liber Benedictionum 43 Eleanor of Aquitaine  67, 71 Ellesmere manuscript  110, 114 Ellis, Roger  6–7, 186 Emaré  131, 134 Emden, A. E.  107 enarratio (‘glossing’ or ‘interpretation’)  25 Eneydos (Caxton)  1, 95–6 English > French translation  31–4, 195

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292 English, national identity and status  70–1, 73–6, 192–5 audience’s linguistic ability  71–2, 91–3, 192–4, 209 and Chaucer  81–3 French loanwords and a new vocabulary  41, 58–62 Latin > English translations  39–40, 46, 49–50 and mouvance 214–16 post-Conquest  51, 55–62, 70–1 as prologue motif  64, 251 and romance translators’ prologues  192 translation tradition and verse-prose debate 235–6 translations of Chateau d’Amour and changing attitudes  91–6 as unifier of English people  192 and women as audience  202–10 see also Anglo-Norman translators’ prologues; audience; Breton > English translation; French > English translation; Middle English translation; Old English epilogues, and mouvance 211 see also prologues ‘L’Epistre au Dieu d’Amours’ (Christine de Pizan) 157 Erec et Enide (Chrétien de Troyes)  134–5, 136 Espurgatoire Saint Patriz (Marie de France)  103, 172, 175 L’Estoire del Saint Graal (Robert de Boron)  118, 120, 231 Estoire des Engleis (Gaimar)  28–30, 69, 211 estoires, English > French translations 31–3 see also Gaimar; Waldef Evangelienbuch (Otfrid von Weissenburg)  40, 41–2 Evans, Ruth  5–6 Everyman voice  102–3 ‘Everytranslator’ voice  104–6 exemplars see copying; source texts Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii (Quixley)  97, 98, 199–201, 262 exordium 19–20 Experimenta de serpente ( Johannes Paulinus) 209 ‘extrinsic prologue’ (ars extrinsecus) 22

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Index Ezra (prophet), Codex Amiatinus  114, 115, 115 Fables (Marie de France)  31, 175–6, 178 female translators see women translators Femina  153, 154–6, 164 Field, Rosalind  33–4 Flemish translations see Guillaume de Lorris Floris ende Blancefloer  218–19, 239 Four Daughters, King and  57, 65, 91–2, 99–100, 194 Foure Doghters 65 Fourth Lateran Council (1215)  35, 194 Fox, Richard  162 ‘francei’ (‘romanz’)  27 Frankish (Franconian or ‘frénkis’)  41–2 Franklin’s Prologue, The (Chaucer)  90 Freeman, Michelle A.  174 French > English translation  7–8, 9–10, 55–62, 214 clerks and minstrels  138 The Knowing of Women’s Kind in Childing  202, 204–6 lays 88–90 Mannyng, Handlyng Synne and Chronicle  41, 59, 60–2, 159–60, 232 parallels with French > Dutch translation  219–21, 232, 237, 242 Trevisa 54–5 women translators  182–4 see also Anglo-Norman translators’ prologues; English > French translation; French, status and use in England; Latin > French translation; Latin > Romance translation; Romance languages French > English translators’ prologues 63–96 twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Laȝamon’s Brut 66–72 up to c. 1300, developments in translation-consciousness 72–7 fourteenth century, from compilation to translation 77–83 fifteenth century, from Laȝamon to Caxton 90–6 ‘oral’ romance translators’ prologues 83–90 Stowe MS 951  199–201

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Index French > Middle Dutch see Middle Dutch translators’ prologues French romance tradition  225, 226, 229–32 French, status and use in England  140–61, 214–16, 219 acquisition and teaching  142–3, 146–8 formal school teaching  155, 157–8 French and Latin  155–6, 169–71 types of language learning  160–1 written teaching material  28, 150–6 active versus passive competence  140, 143, 152–3, 156, 160–1 characterisation of as prologue motif  64, 252 as foreign, second or courtly language  55–62, 74, 92, 140–1, 146–9 and Latin > French translation  34–7 and Latin > Middle English translation 54–5 and Middle Dutch  223, 225–32 in religious houses  158–60 religious/secular vernacular usage  35–6, 225 textual evidence of translators’ skills  144–50, 158–60 varieties of  8–9, 141–2, 149 women’s knowledge and learning  150, 152, 158–60, 163–4, 165–9 French translators’ prologues  25–30, 63 ‘frénkis’ (Frankish)  41–2 Gaimar, Geffrei, Estoire des Engleis 28–30, 69, 211 Gautier de Coinci, Miracles de Nostre Dame 135 ‘gecyndboc’ (Genesis)  39 ‘geneseos’ (Genesis)  39 Genesis, Ælfric’s translation  39–40, 47–9, 59 Geoffrey de la Tour-Landry, Livre du Chevalier de La Tour Landry 204 Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia regum Britanniae 29 Gerald of Wales, Speculum Duorum 56–7, 146–9 Germanic languages  24, 40 Germanic translators’ prologues  39–40, 41–3, 44 Gerritsen, W. P.  224, 241

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Gesta Pontificum Anglorum (William of Malmesbury)  70, 169 Geste de Blancheflour e de Florence (Brykhulle) 31 Gilbertus Anglicus, Compendium of Medicine 206–7 Glasscoe, Marion  167 Glossa Ordinaria 52 Golden Legend ( Jacobus de Voragine)  64 Gower, John Mirour de l’Omme 145–6 Traité pour Essampler les Amants Marietz  98, 144, 145, 199–200 grammar standardisation  42, 43 Greatham, Robert de, Miroir des Evangiles 76 Greco-Roman prologue  19–20, 26 Greek > Latin > French translation  79, 92 Green, Monica  204, 206–7, 208, 209 Grosseteste, Robert, Chateau d’Amour, translations Castle of Love  65, 72, 92–3, 103, 195 Foure Doghters 65 King and Four Daughters  57, 65, 91–2, 99–100, 194 Myrour of Lewed Men  65, 91, 93–4, 99–100 Gui de Mori  213 Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, Roman de la Rose  102, 104, 117, 122–3, 122, 123, 176, 213, 239–40 Guy of Warwick 135 gynaecological texts  201–10 Handlyng Synne (Mannyng)  41, 59, 60–2, 77, 159–60 audience  190, 195–6 Havelok the Dane  131, 136, 137 Heinric, Die Rose 104 Henry of Grosmont, Livre de Seyntz Medicines  144, 145 Higden, Ranulph, Polychronicon  54, 141 Hill, Betty  184 Hindman, Sandra  179 Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Bede)  68, 70 Historia regum Britanniae (Geoffrey of Monmouth) 29 Historie van den Grale (Maerlant)  231–2 Historie van Troyen (Maerlant)  232 Hoccleve

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294 ‘Letter to Cupid’  157–8 Regiment of Princes  43, 110, 114 ‘verse-prose’ debate  236 ‘Hoe dichters dichten sullen’ (Boendale)  224–5, 229 Hofstetter, Walter  47 Homer, Iliad 20 Howlett, David  31 Hugutio of Pisa  3 Hull, Eleanor  162–3, 164, 169–70, 187–8 Hult, David  213 Humphrey IX de Bohun (Humfray de Bowne)  79–80, 196–7 Hunt, R. W.  21, 22 Huot, Sylvia  212–13 Huppé, Bernard  45 iconography of translation  120–8 Bridget of Sweden  124, 125, 126 Jean de Meun and Guillaume de Lorris 122–3, 122, 123 Jerome  121, 122 translator and author  111–14, 111, 112, 113 Idea of the Vernacular, The (Wogan-Browne and others)  5–6, 64 identity see authorship; English, national identity and status; name and identity; translator figure Iliad (Homer)  20 illustrations see author portraits; pictorial images Ingham, Richard  142, 143, 155 ‘intrinsic prologue’ (ars intrinsecus) 22 Irish > English translation  137–8 Italian 25 Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend 64 Jean de Meun  104, 117, 122–3, 122, 123 see also Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun Jean Miélot, Le Debat d’Honneur  119, 120 Jerome  21, 45–6, 121 Life of Paul the Hermit 122 referenced by Sidrac poet  236–7 Johannes Paulinus, Experimenta de serpente 209 John Scotus Eriugena  21 Johnson, David  238 Julian of Norwich  167, 181

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Index Kempe, Margery  171, 181–2 Kennedy, Elspeth  212 Ker, N. R.  198 Kibbee, Douglas A.  143, 156 King and Four Daughters  57, 65, 91–2, 99–100, 194 King Horn 134 Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing, The  99, 202–10 Kristol, Andres  142–3 Krochalis, Jeanne  184 Lais (Marie de France)  87, 89, 136, 174 see also lays Lancelot of the Laik 11 Langland, William  101 Laskaya, Anne  84 Latin > Anglo-Norman French translation  9, 25–30 Latin > English translation  43–50, 52–5 Ælfred  40, 44–6, 48, 54, 93 Ælfric  39–40, 47–9, 59 Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour 91–2 The Knowing of Women’s Kind in Childing  202, 205–6 post-Conquest continuity  50–5 Latin > French translation  34–7 Anglo-Norman 25–34 Philippe de Thaon, Bestiary 27–8 twelfth-century women translators’ prologues  165, 171–80 thirteenth-century audiences  194–5 Latin > Germanic translation Notker Labeo  42–3 Otfrid  41–2, 44 Latin > Middle English translation  52–5 Latin prologue  19, 20–2, 63, 70 Latin > Romance translation  13, 23, 24–5, 27, 34–7, 40 Latin, status and acquisition Alcuin’s pronunciation reforms  23 ‘H’ and ‘L’ varieties  23–4 lay and clerical classes  192–3 Middle Dutch translation  226, 227, 229, 232 in relation to English  25–6, 39–40, 44, 49–50, 55–6 in relation to Germanic languages  23–4, 39–40 teaching and use  155–6, 169–71

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Index women translators use of  169–71 Latin > vernacular translation  9, 23–6, 34–7 see also Latin > English translation; Latin > French translation; Latin > German translation; vernacular literature Laurence of Durham  116 Lay le Freine  84, 86–9, 99, 239 lays 86–90 see also Lais Laȝamon, Brut  1, 5, 9, 65–72, 106, 211 audience  70–2, 193, 196, 198 Caligula manuscript  71, 110–14, 111, 215 Otho manuscript  215 portrait, as a Benedictine monk  110–14, 111 references to Wace  67, 68, 69, 71, 77–8, 236 source texts  67–70, 71 Legend of Good Women (Chaucer)  12, 81–2, 83, 105, 236 Legendys of Hooly Wummen (Bokenham) 64–5 Leken Spieghel, Der (Boendale)  224–5, 229 ‘Letter to Cupid’ (Hoccleve)  157–8 ‘lewed’ and ‘lered’ readers  192–3, 194–5 Liber Benedictionum (Ekkehard IV)  43 Liber de sinthomatibus mulierum  202, 205–6 libraries  108–9, 115, 115 Lie, Orlanda  235 Life of Paul the Hermit ( Jerome)  122 Life of St Cuthbert (Bede)  112 Life of St Giles 102 Lindisfarne Gospels  114, 116, 122 linguistic skills audience  71–2, 91–3, 192–4, 209 translator  101, 144–50, 158–60 Liszka, Thomas R.  217 Livre de Seyntz Medicines (Henry of Grosmont)  144, 145 Livre de Sidrac, Le 233 Livre du Chevalier de La Tour Landry (Geoffrey de la Tour-Landry)  204 Livres dou Sante, Li (Aldobrandino of Siena) 113–14, 113 loanwords, French  10, 58–61 ‘lost literature of England’ theory  51 Low Countries  220–3, 221–3 Lydgate, John  144, 145 Lyminster Priory  184

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Maerlant, Jacob van  225–32 Historie van den Grale 231–2 Historie van Troyen 232 Der Naturen Bloeme  230, 240 Rijmbibel  226, 227 Spiegel Historiael  227–9, 230, 234 male reader, and gynaecological texts  204, 206–7, 209–10 Mannyng, Robert  77–8, 98, 159–60, 226, 261 Chronicle  56, 60, 77–8, 130, 192, 196, 211, 232 verse-prose debate  235–6 Handlyng Synne  41, 59, 60–2, 77, 159–60 audience  190, 195–6 Manual of the Writings in Middle English, A 10–11 Manuel des Pechiez  101–2, 195 Mannying’s translation  59, 60, 61 Of Shrifte and Penance (second English translation)  102, 103 see also Handlyng Synne (Mannyng) manuscript collections  197–201, 207–10 Marie (nun and translator)  179–80, 180–1 Life of St Audrey of Ely  172, 173, 180 Marie de France compared with Christine de Pizan  174–5 portraits of  176–9, 178 prologues and epilogues  87, 89, 136, 172, 173–4, 175–7 as translator  172, 173–80, 181 Espurgatoire Saint Patriz  103, 172, 175 Fables  31, 175–6, 178 Lais  87, 89, 136, 174 Matthew the Evangelist  114, 116, 122 Matthias Ovidi  124, 126, 127 Medieval Translator 6–7 metur 80 Metz Psalter  35–7 Middle Dutch translators’ prologues 218–43 and French romance tradition  225, 226, 229–32 Maerlant and attitudes to French  226–32 parallels with Middle English translation  219–21, 232, 237, 242 Sidrac 233–7 status of Middle Dutch  222–4, 227–8, 237, 238–9 Walewein’s ‘anti-translator’s prologue’ 238–42

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296

Index

Middle English Dictionary (MED)  60–1, 66, 80, 82 Middle English translation continuity with Old English  50–5 English seen as unifier of English people 192 and French  55–62 parallels with Middle Dutch translation  219–21, 232, 237, 242 status  58, 224 see also French > English translators’ prologues Middleton, Anne  102 Miller’s Tale, The (Chaucer)  132, 213 Minnis, Alistair J.  9, 21–2, 128 minstrels 132–4 ‘minstrel’ romance tradition  84, 100 see also ‘clerk’ and ‘minstrel’ translators; translator figure Miracles de Nostre Dame (Gautier de Coinci) 135 Miroir des Evangiles (Greatham)  76 Miroir Historiale, Le  119 Mirour de l’Omme (Gower)  145–6 modesty topos  3, 34, 59, 80 Monk of Sallay (Sawley), The Myrour of Lewed Men  65, 91, 93–4, 99–100 Moriaen  239, 240, 242 motifs see prologue motifs mouvance 210–17 and audiences  189–91 editorial changes to prologues  214–17 editorial changes to text  211–14 epilogues 211 lack of source material, introduction of new 238–42 new prologues  211–12 Mum and the Sothsegger 76 Myrour of Lewed Men (Monk of Sallay)  65, 91, 93–4, 99–100 name and identity (translator and author) 97–108 biography and archetype  106–8 concealed or adopted  101–4 Everyman voice  102–3 ‘Everytranslator’ 104–6 see also authorship; English, national identity and status; translator figure

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national identity see English, national identity and status Naturen Bloeme, Der (Maerlant)  230, 240 Nicole Oresme  37 Nominale sive verbale  153–4, 159 Northern Homily Cycle  76, 99 Northern Octavian 99 Notker Labeo  42–3 nun (anonymous, possibly named ‘Crane’)  182–4, 203 nun of Barking  102, 172–3, 179–80 Vie d’Edouard le confesseur  146, 180 nunneries, translators’ acquisition of Latin and French  158–60, 167–70 Octavian  84, 98, 99 Of Arthour and of Merlin  56, 72, 73–4, 140, 193, 197, 199 comparison with Maerlant’s prologue techniques 232 Of Shrifte and Penance  102, 103 Old English continuity with Middle English  50–5 as literary language  49–50 source texts available to Laȝamon  68–9 see also Ælfred of Wessex; Ælfric; AngloSaxon translators’ prologues; Middle English translations oral transmission ‘oral’ romance translators’ prologues  83–90, 128, 129–30, 134–5, 136–7 Penninc’s Walewein prologue  241 women translators  170, 174, 185, 187 Orfeo-Freine  84, 86–90, 131, 132 see also Lay le Freine; Sir Orfeo Orm, Ormulum  9, 50, 52–3, 66 Otfrid von Weissenburg, Evangelienbuch  40, 41–2 Owen, A. E. B.  129 Owl and the Nightingale, The  50, 198 Page, Christopher  131 papal epistle (ars dictaminis) 45 Partonopeu de Blois  34, 99 patronage, and audiences  27, 29, 67, 70–2, 79–80, 151, 195–7, 223–4 Pearsall, Derek  196, 197 Penninc, Walewein 238–42 Peter of Langtoft  77, 78, 226, 236

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Index Petrus Olavi of Alvastra  124, 126, 127, 166 Petrus Olavi of Skänninge  124, 126, 127, 166 Philippe de Thaon, Bestiary 27–8 Physiologus  27, 28 Pickering, Oliver  217 pictorial images  106, 108–20 author and translator portraits  109–10, 111, 113, 115, 116, 117, 119, 121, 122, 123, 178 iconographic images  111–14, 111, 112, 113 scribal equipment  108–9, 114–20, 114, 116, 117, 118, 119 source texts  109–10 writing process  110–20, 111, 112, 113, 118, 178, 179 plagiarism 176 poetry and poetics classical poetic theory  19 lays 86–90 Maerlant 226–32 Sidrac and ‘verse-prose’ debate  234–7 vernacular poetics  224–5 Polychronicon (Higden)  54, 141 portraits see author portraits pre- and post-Conquest translation see Anglo-Norman translators’ prologues prefaces see prologue types; prologues priest-author archetype  106–8 see also clerks; translator figure principium 19 printing, invention and introduction  95 Prioress’s Tale, The (Chaucer)  168–9 prologue motifs  64–5, 89, 95, 249–59 prologue types  13, 19–25 Aristotelian  5, 22, 64–5, 101 Breton lays  88–90 French  25–30, 63 Germanic  39–40, 41–3, 44 Greco-Roman  19–20, 26 Latin  19, 20–2, 63, 70 Scholastic  19, 21–2 vernacular 23–5 see also Anglo-Norman translators’ prologues; Anglo-Saxon translators’ prologues; French > English translators’ prologues; romance translators’ prologues prologues  2–6, 12 first in English  44–6 prologue–text relationship see audience; mouvance; source texts; texts

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pronunciation reforms  23 prooemium 19 prose-verse debate  234–7 Proverbes de bon enseignement (Bozon)  153 Proverbs of Alfred 54 Putter, Ad  129, 142, 151 Quant Dex nostre Seignor  204–5, 210 Quixley, (?Robert de) Exhortacio contra Vicium Adulterii  97, 98, 199–201, 262 translator of Gower’s Traité pour Essampler les Amants Marietz 98 reader see audience Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, The (Caxton)  58, 144, 145 Regiment of Princes (Hoccleve)  43, 110, 114 religious houses, translators’ acquisition of Latin and French  158–60, 167–71 religious references, as prologue motif  64, 258 religious stories, and mouvance 213–14 religious/secular vernacular usage French  35–6, 225 Germanic 23–4 Middle Dutch  225, 226, 229–32 Revelaciones (Bridget of Sweden)  124–5, 126, 127, 166–7, 170–1, 182 Rice, John Ap  169 Richard Coer de Lyon  11–12, 84, 99, 192, 199, 215–16 Riga, Peter, Aurora 211 Rijmbibel (Maerlant)  226, 227 Ritson, Joseph  129 Robert de Boron, L’Estoire del Saint Graal  118, 120, 231 Robert of Fullham  149 Roman de Brut (Wace)  30 referenced by Laȝamon  67, 68, 69, 71, 77–8, 236 Roman de la Rose Gui de Mori  213 Guillaume and Jean’s Flemish translation  102, 104, 117, 122–3, 122, 123, 176, 213, 239–40 Heinric’s Middle Dutch translation  104 and mouvance 212–13 Roman de Silence 137

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298

Index

Roman de Tristan (Tomas or Thomas of Erceldoune)  84–6, 103–4 Roman de Troie (Benoît de SainteMaure)  31, 78–9, 232 Romance languages  23, 24–5, 27, 40 see also French; Latin > Romance translation romance tradition, French corpus  225, 226, 229–32 romance translators’ prologues estoires, English > French translations 32–3 and mouvance 215–16 oral transmission  83–90, 128, 129–30, 134–5, 136–7 and universality of English  192 Walewein’s ‘anti-translator’s prologue’ 238–42 see also Arthurian romance; lays; Of Arthour and of Merlin; Sir Tristrem; Walewein; William of Palerne Romans of Partenay  101, 144, 145 ‘romanz’ 27 Romaunt of the Rose (Chaucer)  12, 81, 82–3 Roos, Richard, La Belle Dame Sans Mercy  97–8, 104–5, 261–2 Rose, Die (Heinric)  104 see also Roman de la Rose Rothwell, William  24, 142, 149, 155–6, 158 St Albans monastery  154, 159, 162 Salisbury, Eve  84 Sampson, Thomas  154, 157 Scholastic prologue  19, 21–2 Schultz, James A.  26 scribes copying from exemplar  118, 120 and editorial changes  212 employed by women translators  170–1 scribal equipment  108–9, 114–20, 114, 116, 117, 118, 119 see also writing practice Second Nun’s Tale, The (Chaucer)  165, 185–7 secular vernacular usage see religious/ secular vernacular usage Seege of Troy  78–9, 99 Short, Ian  30–1 Sickness of Women, The 206–7 Sidrac (Het Boek van Sidrac) 233–7 Silence, Roman de 137

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight  131, 239 Sir Launfal (Chestre)  63, 84, 98, 262 Sir Orfeo  11–12, 84, 87, 88–90, 99 Sir Tristrem  72, 84–6, 99, 103–4, 131 Smith, Lesley  120 Somme le Roi 106–7 Sonnemans, H. P.  221 source texts Anglo-Norman hierarchies of superiority  29–30, 31, 79 citing, as prologue motif  64, 95 Cursor Mundi 75 French and Latin  69–70 lack of, and Walewein’s ‘anti-translator’s prologue’ 238–42 Laȝamon’s Brut  67–70, 71 Mannyng 77–8 Old English available to Laȝamon  67–70, 71 oral  86–7, 89–90 The Seege of Troye 78–9 Sir Tristrem  84–5, 86, 103–4 visual images  109–10 see also mouvance; texts South English Legendary 216–17 Sowdon of Babylon, The  84, 99 Speculum Duorum (Gerald of Wales)  56–7, 146–9 Speculum Vitae  56, 98, 130, 194–5, 199–200, 262 spelling systems  42, 43, 53 Spiegel Historiael (Maerlant)  227–9, 230, 234 Spitzer, Leo  103 Statute of Pleading (1362)  10 Swedish > Latin translation  124–5, 166–7, 170–1, 182 Taylor, Andrew  133–4 Testament of Love (Usk)  57, 146 texts book format and size  207–9 copying 53, 118, 120 description of contents  64, 259 see also mouvance; source texts Thomas (Tomas or Thomas of Erceldoune), Roman de Tristan  84–6, 103–4 title translation, as prologue motif  64, 250 Tomas see Thomas Topographica Hibernica  112

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Index Traité pour Essampler les Amants Marietz (Gower)  98, 144, 145, 199–200 ‘translater’, meaning and earliest recorded use  30, 72–3, 76 translation  3–5, 6–7 active versus passive  81–3, 140 Ælfred 44–6 Ælfric 48–9 classical theory  19–20, 26, 45 as commentary  3–4 as compilation and compression  66–7, 70, 76–83 effect of printing on  95 and English as a literary language  12–13, 73–4 Grosseteste’s translations of Chateau compared  65, 91–4 Jerome, uerbum pro uerbo  21, 45–6 Mannyng  60–1, 77–8 multiple translations of same text (see also Grosseteste, Chateau d’Amour) 65, 91–4 Northern Homily Cycle 76 and ‘oral’ transmission  86–90 text as (prologue motif)  64, 253, 257 ‘truth’ of, and verse-prose debate  234–7 twelfth- and thirteenth-century types of prologue schema  21–2 verbs used to represent  28, 30, 72–3, 76, 260 William of Palerne 79–80 see also iconography of translation; prologue types translator figure  4–5, 97–139 acquisition of French  144–50, 157–60 ‘clerk’ and ‘minstrel’  100, 128–38 conflation of author and translator  101, 103 iconography of  111–14, 120–8 linguistic skills of  101, 144–50, 158–60 modesty topos  3, 34, 59, 80 name and identity  97–8, 100–8 pictorial images of  106, 108–20 professional translators  137–8, 157–8 professions of  98–100, 106 referenced as prologue motif  64, 254, 255 replaced by new translator  70, 104 writing practice  95–6, 110–20, 111, 112, 113, 118, 178, 179

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see also authorship; ‘clerk’ and ‘minstrel’ translators; name and identity; women translators Tretiz (Walter de Bibbesworth)  142, 150–3 Trevisa, John, ‘Dialogue between the Lord and the Clerk on Translation’  54–5, 141, 224 Trotula  176, 201–2 truth, nature of, verse-prose debate  234–5 Turville-Petre, Thorlac  74, 196 uerbum pro uerbo (word for word versus sense for sense)  21, 45–6 Urbain le Cortois 153 Usk, Thomas, Testament of Love  57, 146 vernacular > Latin translation  124–5, 166–7, 170–1, 182 vernacular literature Anglo-Norman 30–1 female audience for  163, 164, 202–4 Middle Dutch and French romance tradition  225, 226, 229–32 treatises on poetics  224–5 vernacular > vernacular translation  9 see also Anglo-Norman translators’ prologues; Latin > vernacular translation vernacular prologues  23–5 verse-prose debate  234–7 Vie de saint Nicolas (Wace)  35 Vie d’Edouard le confesseur (nun of Barking)  146, 180 Vincent of Beauvais  228, 229, 230 visual images see pictorial images Vita Nuova (Dante)  163 Vitz, Evelyn Birge  129, 134, 136 vocabularies Anglo-Norman Latin > French translations  25, 27–8, 36 French > English translations  41, 58–62, 66–7, 70–1, 76, 77, 82 Latin > English translations  39–40, 49, 50–5 Latin > French translations  36–7 verbs used to represent translation  28, 30, 72–3, 76, 260 Vostaert, Peter, Walewein prologue  214 Voyage of St Brendan (Benedeit)  26–7, 28

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300

Index

Wace Roman de Brut 30 referenced by Laȝamon  67, 68, 69, 71, 77–8, 236 Vie de saint Nicolas 35 Waldef  32–3, 71–2 Walewein 238–42 Walsh, James  167 Wearmouth-Jarrow monastery  114, 115, 118 Welsh > English translation  137–8 Wife of Bath’s Tale, The (Chaucer)  181 Willem Utenhove  230–1 William, William of Palerne  79–81, 98, 194, 196–7, 262 William of Berneville  102 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontificum Anglorum  70, 169 William of Nassington  98, 262 see also, Speculum Vitae William of Palerne  79–81, 98, 194, 196–7, 262 William of Waddington  101–2 Winchester 47 Wogan-Browne, Jocelyn  8, 74, 164, 173, 180, 182 women as audience French > English translations for  183–4 The Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing 201–10 vernacular literature  163, 164, 202–4 women translators  162–88 education and use of

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French  150, 152, 158–60, 163–4, 165–9 Latin 169–71 evidence for  162–3, 164 female auctoritas  173–6, 181–5 fifteenth-century French > English  182–4 literacy skills  166–7, 170, 183 in religious houses  167–71 twelfth-century Latin > French prologues  165, 171–80 use of scribes  170–1 see also Bridget of Sweden; Chaucer, Second Nun’s Tale; Crane; Hull, Eleanor; Kempe, Margery; nun of Barking Worcester Cathedral Priory library  68–9 word for word versus sense for sense (uerbum pro uerbo)  21, 45–6 Wright, Roger  23 writing practice  4, 95–6, 110–20, 111, 112, 113, 118, 178, 179 women’s skills  166 written hands  200, 208, 209 see also scribes; texts writing-boards and desks  108, 116, 117, 118–20, 118, 119 Wyntershulle, William  154, 159 Yeager, F. R.  200 Zaerr, Linda Marie  128–9, 129–30 Zumthor, Paul  210

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elizaBeth dearnley gained her Phd from the university of Cambridge.

ELIZABETH DEARNLEY

TranslaTors and Their Prologues in Medieval england

D EARNLEY

T

Cover image: laȝamon writing. london, British library, Ms Cotton Caligula a. iX, fol. 3r (probably Worcester, c. 1300–1325). © e British library Board.

Bristol studies in Medieval Cultures

TranslaTors and Their Prologues in Medieval england

e prologue to layamon's Brut recounts its author's extensive travels "wide yond thas leode" (far and wide across the land) to gather the French, latin and english books he used as source material. e first Middle english writer to discuss his methods of translating French into english, layamon voices ideas about the creation of a new english tradition by translation that proved very durable. is book considers the practice of translation from French into english in medieval england, and how the translators themselves viewed their task. at its core is a corpus of French to english translations containing translator's prologues written between c.1189 and c.1450; this remarkable body of Middle english literary theory provides a useful map by which to chart the movement from a literary culture rooted in anglo-norman at the end of the thirteenth century to what, in the fifteenth, is regarded as an established "english" tradition. Considering earlier romance and Germanic models of translation, wider historical evidence about translation practice, the acquisition of French, the possible role of women translators, and the manuscript tradition of prologues, in addition to offering a broader, pan-european perspective through an examination of Middle dutch prologues, the book uses translators' prologues as a lens through which to view a period of critical growth and development for english as a literary language.