This section offers two important samples of the French of medieval England, one sung, the other spoken.

In the first, Professor Monika Otter (Dartmouth College) sings ‘The Prisoner’s Lament’, a contrafact of considerable interest to students of music and of England’s polyglot Middle Ages. The Lament is the subject of Prof. Otter’s article in The French of Medieval England: Essays in Honour of Jocelyn Wogan-Browne (complete bibliography at the recording site). It is a unique glimpse into the strategies and advantages of composition for multilingual audiences.

In the second, Prof. Alice Colby-Hall (Cornell y, historUniversity, Emerita) and other readers present selected passages from literariographic, and religious works in the French of England. Items 1-5 capture readings from the 2012 and 2013 ‘Reading the French of England Aloud’ sessions at the International Medieval Congress, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo. Through comments on her own readings and those of others, Prof. Colby-Hall, an expert in the pronunciation of both continental and insular Frenches, provides precious phonological advice in the fresh setting of a live recording. In the second set of readings, selections 6.1-4, Professor Colby-Hall supplies passages recorded especially for the French of England website.

Each recording is accompanied by its written texts.

We express our profound gratitude to Professors Otter and Colby-Hall for sharing their expertise with us, combined with a rare joy at breathing audible life into the French of medieval England. We appreciate the commitment of both educators to bringing a representation of medieval live performance to a modern audience.

We are indebted to Matthew Schottenfeld, Fordham’s Television Production Manager, whose patient help was essential to the realization of this project. Professor Ian Short (Birkbeck College, London, Emeritus) gave permission to use extracts from his edition (with Brian Merrilees) of Le Voyage de saint Brendan (Paris: Champion, 2006) and of his edition and translation of Gaimar’s Estoire des Engleis (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009). The Editorial Committee of the British Rencesvals Society allowed us to quote from Le Jeu d’Adam, ed. Wolfgang van Emden, 2nd ed. (Edinburgh: British Rencesvals Publications 1,1999).

Thelma Fenster and Jocelyn Wogan-Browne


The Chaucer Studio has produced the following recordings at student-friendly prices:

Marie de France-Selections from the Lais: ‘Guigemar’ and ‘Fresne’

Music and Medieval Narrative (performances of Marie de France)

Or dient et content et fabloient: Four Centuries of Old French Verse

Ribaudie and Repentanche: Old French Comic Fabliaux and Moral Tales (a particularly splendid recording by the late Brian J. Levy)

Voicing Medieval Women (includes selections from Anglo-Norman, Old French, Provençal, Early Middle and Middle English, Old Norse)

The Prisoner’s Lament
Planctus ante nescia
Eyns ne soy
Ar ne kuth ich

Benedeit, Le Voyage de saint Brendan

Geffrei Gaimar, L’Estoire des engleis

Anon, Le Jeu d’Adam

Herman de Valenciennes, Li Romanz de Dieu et de sa mere

Nicole Bozon, Le Char d’Orgueil

Clemence of Barking, La Vie de sainte Catherine

Geffrei Gaimar, L’Estoire des engleis

Denis Piramus, La Vie de saint Edmond le martyre

A Nun of Barking, La Vie d’Édouard le Confesseur: poème anglo-normand du XIIe siècle