Advertisement

Crossing the Borders: Literary Borrowing in Medieval Wales and England

  • Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

Despite the best efforts of specialists in Celtic studies over the past four decades, the temptation to characterize certain elements in Old French or Middle English romances and tales as “Celtic” seems still to be irresistible to many scholars.1 The ancient and long-discredited attempts of R. S. Loomis and his followers to find a “Celtic” hero lurking behind every knight, or a Welsh or Irish text behind every narrative element, have not, apparently, lost their attraction. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore the supposedly Welsh setting of many French and English romances, and the high incidence of names of Welsh or Breton origin in such texts, most especially Arthurian narratives from Marie de France and Chrétien de Troyes to Thomas Malory. Teasing out the relationship between, on the one hand, extant sources in Welsh (or in other Celtic languages) and, on the other, highly literary texts produced in very different social, political, linguistic, and cultural circumstances cannot proceed without an understanding of those circumstances. The interface between Welsh material and that read in England, whether in French or in English, should be seen as a two-way process.

Keywords

National Library Thirteenth Century Fourteenth Century Literary Text Religious Text 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    Oxford, Bodleian Library, Hatton 82, was copied by an Anglo-Norman scribe in the mid-thirteenth century and bears an Anglo-Norman ex libris inscription showing that it belonged to Bryan FitzAlan (d. 1306) of Bedale in Yorkshire. On the manuscript tradition of the romance William A. Nitze and T. Atkinson Jenkins, eds., Le Haut Livre du Graal. Perlesvaus, 2 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1932–7), 1: 3–7, 2: 3–24; William A. Roach, “A New Perlesvaus Fragment,” Speculum 13 (1938): 216–20; Keith Busby, “A New Fragment of the Perlesvaus,” Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie 99 (1983): 1–12, and James P. Carley, “A Fragment of Perlesvaus at Wells Cathedral Library,” Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie 108 (1992): 35–57. The latter, a manuscript of the first half of the fourteenth-century, was copied from a continental exemplar by an English scribe who introduced many Anglo-Norman features to the language of the text (40).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Rachel Bromwich, “Celtic Elements in Arthurian Romance: A General Survey” in The Legend of Arthur in the Middle Ages: Studies Presented to Armel H. Diverres, ed. P. B. Grout, R. A. Lodge, C. E. Pickford, and E. K. C. Varty (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1983), 41–55, and Rachel Bromwich, “First Transmission to England and France,” in Arthur of the Welsh: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval Welsh Literature, ed. Rachel Bromwich, A. O. H. Jarman, and Brynley F. Roberts (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1991), 273–90.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    These points were developed in a hitherto unpublished paper by Julianne Bruneau of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, read at the conference of the International Arthurian Society at Utrecht in July 2005; a different approach is taken by Kristen Lee Over, Literary and Cultural Identities in Medieval French and Welsh Arthurian Romance, Studies in Medieval History and Culture (New York and London: Routledge, 2005).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    The only extant witness is a prose version composed between during the period 1325–40, but a copy of the original verse narrative apparently of the late thirteenth century, survived into the sixteenth century; the original author was probably from Ludlow. See E. J. Hathaway P. T. Ricketts, C. A. Robson, and A. D. Wilshere, eds., Fouke le Fitz Waryn (Oxford: Blackwell, 1975), ix–xxxvii. On the unique manuscript, see also Jason O’Rourke, “British Library MS Royal 12.C. xii and the Problems of Patronage,” Journal of the Early Book Society 3 (2000): 216–26.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    On the types of contact, see, for example, Marie Surridge, “Romance Linguistic Influence on Middle Welsh,” Studia Celtica 1 (1966): 63–92; Llinos Beverley Smith, “Yr Iaith Gymraeg cyn 1536,” in Y Gymraeg yn ei disgleirdeb, ed. Geraint H. Jenkins (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1997), 15–44; see also Michael Richter, Sprache und Gesellschaft im Mittelalter: Untersuchungen zur mündlichen Kommunikation in England von der Mitte des elften bis zum Beginn des vierzehnten Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 1979).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Marged Haycock, “‘Some Talk of Alexander and Some of Hercules’: Three Early Medieval Poems from the Book of Taliesin,” Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 13 (1987): 7–38.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    See Daniel Huws, “A Welsh Manuscript of Bede’s De Natura Rerum,” in Medieval Welsh Manuscripts, ed. Daniel Huws (Cardiff: University of Wales, with the National Library of Wales, 2000), 104–22.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    For general accounts of the Norman presence in Wales, see, for example, R. R. Davies, Conquest, Coexistence and Change: Wales, 1063–1415 (Oxford: Clarendon Press jointly with [Cardiff]: University of Wales Press, 1987); on the loan words in the Four Branches, see Ifor Williams, ed., Pedeir Keinc y Mabinogi (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1974), xxxiv, and T. M. Charles-Edwards, “The Date of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi,” Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion 1970 (1971): 263–98, at 265–66.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    See, for example, F. G. Cowley, The Monastic Order in South Wales (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1977), 9–17.Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    R. Geraint Gruffydd, “‘Cyntefin Ceinaf Amser’ o Lyfr Du Caerfyrddin,” Ysgrifau Beirniadol 4 (1969): 12–26.Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    Now Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, MS Peniarth 28: see Daniel Huws, “Leges Howelda at Canterbury,” in Medieval Welsh Manuscripts, 169–76, and Daniel Huws, Peniarth 28. Darluniau o Lyfr Cyfraith Hywel/Illustrations from a Welsh Lawbook (Aberystwyth: National Library of Wales, 1988).Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    Constance Bullock-Davies, Professional Interpreters and the Matter of Britain (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  13. 15.
    The Journey through Wales and The Description of Wales, trans. Lewis Thorpe (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978), 202–3; for Latin text, see Giraldi Cambrensis Opera, ed. James F. Dimock, 8 vols., Rolls Series (1868), 6: 144–45. That Owain’s son Gwenwynwyn could likewise bridge the cultures is suggested by his presence in the Anglo-Norman Fouke le Fitz Waryn (see note 5).Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    For Cywydd y fost, see R. Iestyn Daniel, ed., Gwaith Ieuan ap Rhydderch (Aberystwyth: University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, 2003), 3: esp. lines 25–28; see also notes at 139–47.Google Scholar
  15. 17.
    See, for example, Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, “Lancelot in Wales,” in Shifts and Transpositions in Medieval Narrative. A festschrift for Elspeth Kennedy, ed. Karen Pratt (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1997), 169–79, and J. H. Davies, “A Welsh Version of the Birth of Arthur,” Y Cymmrodor 24 (1913): 247–64, and note 22 below. I am currently preparing a new edition and study of the “Birth of Arthur.”Google Scholar
  16. 18.
    J. H. Matthews, Cardiff Records, Being Materials for a History of the County Borough from the Earliest Times, 6 vols. (Cardiff; London: By Order of the Corporation, 1898–1911), 4: 58.Google Scholar
  17. 19.
    Huw M. Edwards, Dafydd ap Gwilym. Influences and Analogues, Modern Languages and Literatures Monographs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), esp. at 158–65, 184–88, 202–44.Google Scholar
  18. 20.
    See, for example, Jason O’Rourke, “Political and Literary Culture in Wales and the English Border Country, 1300–1475” (Ph.D diss., Queen’s University, Belfast, 1999), and Jason O’Rourke, “Imagined Histories: An English Prophecy in a Welsh Manuscript Context,” Journal of the Early Book Society 5 (2002): 152–53.Google Scholar
  19. 22.
    Internal evidence in a number of Welsh texts of the fifteenth century suggests that a complete copy of the Vulgate Cycle was available to Welsh redactors. See Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, “Nodiadau ychwanegol ar achau Arthuriaidd a’u ffynonellau Ffrangeg,” National Library of Wales Journal 21 (1980): 329–39, and Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, “Darogan yr Olew Bendigaid: chwedl o’r bymthegfed ganrif,” Llên Cymru 11 (1981–82): 64–85. The Calais-based Welsh chronicler, Elis Gruffydd, may also have had access to a copy of the Mort Artu. Google Scholar
  20. 24.
    Alexander Falileyev, ed., Welsh Walter of Henley, Medieval and Modern Welsh Series 12 (Dublin: School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 2006), esp. xvii–xx; lxxxix–xc.Google Scholar
  21. 25.
    Sarah Rowles, “Ystorya Adaf Golwg ar un o ffynonellau cyfieithwyr y chwedlau crefyddol,” Llên Cymru 29 (2006): 44–63.Google Scholar
  22. 26.
    The range of material becomes ever more striking as new research brings to light still more evidence not only of translations but also familiarity with other nonnative texts for which full translations may never have been made. For general surveys of translations see, for example, Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, “French Texts, Welsh Translators,” in The Medieval Translator, II, ed. Roger Ellis (London: Centre for Medieval Studies, Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London, 1991), 45–63, and Morfydd E. Owen, “The Prose of the Cywydd Period,” in A Guide to Welsh Literature 1282—c. 1550, ed. A. O. H. Jarman and Gwilym Rees Hughes, rev. Dafydd Johnston (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1997), 314–50.Google Scholar
  23. 27.
    Barry Lewis, “Llawysgrifau a Barddoniaeth Grefyddol yn y bedwaredd ganrif ar ddeg,” Cof Cenedl 21 (Llandysul: Gomer Press, 2006), 31–62.Google Scholar
  24. 28.
    Richard Glyn Roberts, “Golygiad o dri fersiwn o Madwaith Hen Gyrys o Iâl ynghyd ag astudiaeth o’u ffynonellau a rhagarweiniad i’r traddodiad paremiolegol yn llenyddiaeth Gymraeg yr Oesau Canol” (Ph.D. diss., University of Wales, Bangor, 2006); Richard Glyn Roberts, “Y Traddodiad Paremiolegol yng Nghymru’r Oesau Canol. I. Rhai Diarhebion Cydwladol,” Dwned 11 (2005): 19–33. Other proverbs, Roberts shows, were borrowed from English or Latin, while certain examples seem to be familiar throughout Western Europe.Google Scholar
  25. 29.
    Nerys Ann Jones and Ann Parry Owen, eds., Gwaith Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr, 2 vols., Cyfres Beirdd y Tywysogion [The Poets of the Princes Series] 3–4 (Cardiff: University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, 1991–95), 2: 56, line 44. For further discussion of rhamant and its implications, see Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, “Medieval Welsh Tales or Romances? Problems of Genre and Terminology,” Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 47 (2004): 41–58.Google Scholar
  26. 30.
    Richard Glyn Roberts, “Y Traddodiad Paremiolegol yng Nghymru’r Oesau Canol. II. ‘y reyn oll sydd yn llawn diarebion,”’ Dwned 12 (2006): 31–47, at 46.Google Scholar
  27. 31.
    See Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, “A Study of Y Seint Greal in Relation to La Queste del Saint Graal and Perlesvaus” (D.Phil. diss., Oxford, 1978), 64–70, 218–24.Google Scholar
  28. 33.
    On Hafod 16, see J. Gwenogvryn Evans, Report on Manuscripts in the Welsh Language, 2 vols. (London, 1898–1910), 2: 318–20; Huws, Medieval Welsh Manuscripts, 60.Google Scholar
  29. 34.
    See Antoine Thomas, “Découverte de fragments d’un poème français inconnu sur Bérinus,” Journal des Savants n.s. 20 (1922): 74–81; J. J. Jones, “Fragments of a French Romance,” National Library of Wales Journal 1 (1939): 103–5, and Daniel Huws, “Y Pedair llawysgrif ganoloesol,” in Canhwyll Marchogyon: Cyd-destunoli Peredur, ed. Sioned Davies and Peter Wynn Thomas (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000), 1–9, at 2–5.Google Scholar
  30. 36.
    William Marx, ed., An English Chronicle, 1377–1461 (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer, 2003), xv–xxii.Google Scholar
  31. 37.
    Nerys Ann Howells, ed., Gwaith Gwerful Mechain ac eraill (Aberystwyth: University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, 2001), 31–40.Google Scholar
  32. 39.
    Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, “Darogan yr Olew Bendigaid: chwedl o’r bymthegfed ganrif,” Llên Cymru 11 (1981–2): 64–85.Google Scholar
  33. 40.
    In his poem “Moliant Tomas ap Wiliam, Pen-rhos,” see A. Cynfael Lake, ed., Gwaith Lewys Morgannwg (Aberystwyth: Cheltaidd, 2004), 144–46, 200–201, no. 37, line 40.Google Scholar
  34. 41.
    Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, “Welsh Tradition in Calais: Elis Gruffydd and His Biography of King Arthur,” in The Fortunes of King Arthur, ed. Norris J. Lacy (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2005), 76–91.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ruth Kennedy and Simon Meecham-Jones 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations