New and Notable Sources

NEWS FLASH: Another book for Christina of Markyate?

Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 320 contains a prose French translation of the Latin Gallicanum psalter, dating to the 1130s-50s.  It was probably translated from the text in the celebrated St Albans Psalter made for Christina of Markyate, given that the Douce hand is identified by Rodney Thomson as Scribe B of the St Albans’P Psalter. In 2010 Ian Short, Maria Careri and Christine Ruby published an article proposing that the most likely occasion for the making of this, the earliest French psalter was the foundation of Christina of Markyate’s community in 1145. Ian Short’s new edition of the psalter amplifies and further confirms the probability of this provenance in his account of the nature of the psalter translation.

So in all probability we now have a new book to associate with Christina of Markyate- and a further example of why we cannot overlook English culture’s francophone evidence.

Short, Ian, Maria Careri and Christine Ruby, « Les Psautiers d’Oxford et de St Albans: liens de parenté ? » Romania 128 (2010), 29-45.

Short Ian, ed., The Oxford Psalter (Bodleian MS Douce 320), ANTS 72 (2015)


Francophone Religious Cultures in England: new publications

Batt, Catherine, trans. and introd. Henry, first Duke of Lancaster, The Book of Holy Medicines, FRETS 8 (Tempe AZ, 2014) provides the first ever full translation and comprehensive introduction to the third, underresearched spiritual work by a layperson in late medieval England.  This excellent translation at last makes it easier for Middle English students and scholars to consider this text alongside those of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe. For further details click here.

Boulton, Maureen B. M., Sacred Fictions of Medieval France  2016 (in spite of the title includes much valuable work on texts circulating in insular culture and provides an excellent and informative basis for study of common francophone religious cultures).

Waters, Claire, Translating Clergie: Status, Education, and Salvation in Thirteenth-Century Vernacular Texts  (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2016).  Shows the vigorous, dialogic quality of francophone religious teaching, its linkes with works now classified as literary, and lays to rest any notion of post-Lateran IV francophone pastoralia as dully didactic.


French in the linguistic and cultural economies of England

In July 2015, Speculum published its first ‘Cluster’ of articles: the topic was

‘Competing Archives, Competing Histories: French and Its Cultural Locations in Late-Medieval England’(Speculum 90.3 (2015): 635-700) by Christopher Baswell, Christopher Cannon, Kathryn Kerby-Fulton and Jocelyn Wogan-Browne.

  1. Introduction by Christopher Baswell (pp. 635-41).
  1. Vernacular Latin by Christopher Cannon (pp. 641-53).
  1. “Invisible Archives?” Later Medieval French in England by Jocelyn Wogan-Browne (pp. 653-73).
  1. Competing Archives, Competing Languages: Office Vernaculars, Civil Servant Raconteurs, and the Porous Nature of French during Ireland’s Rise of English by Kathryn Kerby-Fulton (pp. 674-700).

Journées d’études Anglo-Normandes

The Académie des inscriptions et belles lettres in Paris has begun to take an intensified interest in Anglo-Norman and its fourth conference on the subject is now available online with video recordings of the papers (usually published a year or two after the event).  You can watch Philip Durking of the Oxford English Dictionary presenting here.


Some currently developing areas:

The French of Jews in England

In spite of the destruction of Jewish records in the 1290 Expulsion, scholars are retrieving traces of the world of interactive Hebraic-Latin scholarship in which French was often an intermediary and there is new work on French as a vernacular in differing forms of use by Jewish lay women, men and Jewish rabbis and literate people:  see, e.g.

Nisse, Ruth, 2009. Jeu d’Adam in Language and Culture in Medieval Britain: The French of England, ed. Wogan-Browne et al [ADD LINK to Index of PUblications]

Trotter, David, 2015. ‘Peut-on parler de judéo-anglo-normand? Textes anglo-normands en écriture hébraïque’, Médiévales 68: 25–34.

The pre- Expulsion francophone literature of Christian formation in England up to 1290 and its continuations in the later Middle Ages fourteenth century are understudied in comparison with study of fourteenth and fifteenth century, but are freshly available in e.g. FRETS 5,6, 7 and FRETS OPS 1 [add in authors and titles and put in links to the entries in Index of Publications]

French and Law

For some new perspectives see the special issue of Reading Medieval Studies  dedicated to the legal historian Paul R Hyams whose analyses of literary texts have offered so much of value to literary as well as history scholars, especially:

Ada Maria Kuskowski. 2014. ‘Lingua Franca legalis? A French Vernacular Culture from England to the Levant’, in Reading Medieval Studies 40, special issue, Law’s Dominion: Medieval Studies for Paul Hyams, ed. M. C. Escobar-Vargas, pp. 140–58.

David Trotter, ‘Language and Law in the Anglo-French Mirror of Justices’, L’Art de la philologie: Mélanges en l’honneur de Leena Löfstedt, ed. J. Härmä, E. Suomela-Härmä and O. Välikangas (Helsinki, 2007), pp. 257–70.

Historians and the French of England

Mark Ormrod’s ‘The use of English: Language, law, and political culture in fourteenth-century England’ Speculum 78.3 (2003); 750-87 repositioned the relations of English and French in later medieval England.

Some of his more recent contributions of importance for the French of England and for multilingualism in Britain include:

  1. The England’s Immigrants 1330-1550 project. This offers, among much else, a fully-searchable database containing over 64,000 names of people known to have migrated to England during the period of the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death, the Wars of the Roses and the Reformation.
  2. Ormrod, W. M., P. Crooks and D. Green, eds,The Plantagenet Empire, 1259-1453, Harlaxton Medieval Studies XXVI (Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2016). The editors’ introduction is valuable in rethinking the way we conceptualize the territories and interrelations of medieval languages and the volume includes an important new study by Serge Lusignan of Anglo-Norman and Latin as ‘regal languages’.
  3. Older and of continuing value for trilingual documentation and many examples of French petitioning is the Ancient Petitions database created by Ormrod and collaborators at the UK National Archives (TNA

See also the associated volume, W. M. Ormrod, G. Dodd, and A. Musson, eds, Medieval Petitions: Grace and Grievance (Woodbridge: York Medieval Press, 2009).