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Song of Dermot and the Earl (Author: [unknown])



To trace the small beginnings of a movement big with consequences has always had a peculiar fascination for the human mind. Not since the day when St. Patrick preached his first sermon in Dichu's barn has there been any event of greater importance to Ireland than the coming of the Normans to her shores. The importance of this event was not duly recognised at the time by the Irish annalists any more than it was perceived by the Irish chieftains. The notices in relation to it in the Irish Annals are consequently few and meagre in the extreme. Hence modern historians in telling the story of how the English first got a foothold in Ireland have had to rely almost exclusively on the writings of Giraldus Cambrensis, and on the few scattered notices of the general chroniclers of English affairs. Giraldus, though not an eye-witness of the events, had, no doubt, exceptional opportunities of learning the facts, and he has left us an account which, though not free from prejudices and partialities, will compare favourably in its scope and character with any similar recital of the age. Still Giraldus was not an

Irishman; he did not know the country well, and had to take a great deal on not very trustworthy hearsay. There was, however, an Irishman who was a participator in the events, and though his account has not come down to us at first hand, there is every reason to believe that it is faithfully retailed to us by the writer of the old French rhymes contained in this volume. This Irishman was Morice Regan, Dermot McMurrough's latimer or secretary, and he was no doubt an eye-witness of much that the Anglo-Norman rhymer tells on his authority. The first leaf of the MS. in which these rhymes are preserved is unfortunately wanting, and no original or early title for the poem has come down to us. To judge by the contents of the existing fragment, however, the poem may possibly have been called ‘La Chanson Dermot’ or ‘La Chanson Dermot e le Conte’, and, for the sake of having a distinctive title and one suitable for reference, I have ventured to call it ‘The Song of Dermot and the Earl.’

Though the existence of this MS. has long been known and an edition of the French text was published in 1837, it has never been translated, nor annotated in any useful way. Writers in general have been acquainted with its contents only through the medium of a very inaccurate Summary or Abstract in English made by Sir George Carew in the time of James I, or rather through a still more inaccurate reproduction of this Summary printed in the eighteenth century, and consequently they have never had a fair opportunity of


estimating the historical value of the MS. or of properly utilizing its contents. Mr. Freeman, in writing his history of the Norman Conquest of England, has shown to what valuable use as authorities the rhymed Chronicles of Wace and Benoit de St. Maur may be put in skilful hands. The future historian of the Norman Invasion of Ireland may perhaps be able to utilize this little poem in an analogous way.

Apart from its value as a material of history, an Anglo-Norman text written in Ireland, as there is every reason to suppose this was, is sufficiently rare to justify its study from the point of view of language alone. In England at one time it seemed as if the French language was about to gain the upper hand, at any rate as the language of literature and of the educated classes, but this can never have been the case in Ireland, where French was spoken only by some of the leaders and early settlers in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and by a few friars and monks educated in France. All the more precious then is one of the very few Irish examples of Anglo-Norman rhymes saved from the wreck of the past.

I have to express my obligations to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury for permission to transcribe the manuscript and to have a reproduction made of one of its pages, and to Mr. S. W. Kershaw, F.S.A., the Librarian at Lambeth Palace, for his courtesy to me during my frequent visits to the library. I also desire to thank Mr. F. York Powell of Christ Church, Oxford,


for suggestions and advice readily given throughout the preparation of this little book, and to express the hope that, whatever may be amiss in any of its departments—historical, topographical or linguistic— the student of this eventful period of Irish history, for whom especially the book is written, may find in it—in O'Huidhrin's phrase—‘an addition of knowledge on sacred Erin.’

December 1891.



Description of the MS. There is only one MS. copy of this poem or chronicle known to exist. It is preserved among the Carew MSS. at Lambeth Palace Library, where it is numbered 596. It is unfortunately only a fragment. Some lines, probably not very many, are wanting at its commencement, which is in the nature of an exordium, but as the narrative closes abruptly it is impossible to say how much is lost at the end. The present copy is undoubtedly a transcript, and, according to M. Francisque Michel, is in a fourteenth-century hand. According to the best opinion I can form, however, the handwriting might with more likelihood be placed in the last quarter of the thirteenth century. As a collotype reproduction of a page of the MS. is published with this text, palaeographers can judge of its date for themselves. At least one line has been omitted in this transcript after lines 424, 487, 1802, and 2863, and there is reason to believe that a still larger omission occurs after line 2993 (see Notes). The MS. is written on vellum in double columns of 37 or 38 lines to the column, and 46 pages remain. The double columns are 8.5 inches in height by 6.5 inches in width. Lines 1940–1978 are by a different hand from that by which the rest was written. The lines are normally octosyllabic rhymed couplets with an additional post-tonic syllable in the feminine endings, but the atonic syllable of the first foot is often wanting, and many of the lines, in their present form at least, show other irregularities. The separate paragraphs into which the poem is divided are headed by


large capitals (sometimes omitted) in red or green paint, and after the first page a space is left between the initial letters and the rest of the lines. These initial letters themselves are ornamented with a dash of red paint. At the top of the first page have been added the words ‘Fragmentum Historiae Hiberniae Gal. carmine.’ At the foot of page i there is the letter T, at the foot of page 17 the letter V, and at the foot of page 39 the letter W. These letters appear to correspond with the 'gatherings,' or bundles of the skins as arranged for binding, and perhaps indicate that our MS. was at one time bound up with others. They are, however, subsequent in date to the MS., though, I think, older than the pagination, which was probably added in Sir George Carew's time. The existing leaves appear to be arranged as follows:—the first 16 pages form 4 double leaves, sewn in the middle between pp. 8 and 9. The 9th leaf (pp. 17–18) is a single one, and the short end turns up between pp. 38 and 39, where, however, there is no lacuna in the MS. It may originally have been a double leaf turning up at the commencement and containing the opening lines, with perhaps an illuminated letter or picture. The fact that this leaf contains the subscribed letter V on p. 17, seems, no doubt, to indicate that it was the first, and not the last, leaf of a gathering; but, as before remarked, this lettering is not coeval with the MS., and may have been added after the opening leaf had been cut off and when the single leaf, as at present, formed the first leaf of the next gathering. In fact the lettering was very probably coeval with the heading ‘Fragmentum Historiae’, &c. already mentioned. The next 20 pages (19–38) are formed by 5 double leaves, sewn in the middle between pp. 28 and 29, and the last 8 pages (39–46) appear to be single leaves. From this it seems probable, (1) that the gatherings consisted normally of 5 double leaves each; (2) that one single leaf, originally forming with pp. 17–18 a double leaf, has been lost at the commencement; (3) that at


least 4 leaves completing the present single leaves have been lost at the end.

Bound up at present with the vellum MS. and following it on paper are certain fragments of Anglo-Irish Annals in Latin, an Abstract in English of the French text made by or under the direction of Sir George Carew, and certain lists of names mentioned in the text and in other documents contained in the volume or in the Expugnatio Hibernica of Giraldus, all of which are described in the Calendar of Carew MSS. Another copy of Carew's Abstract is preserved in the Clarendon Collection in the British Museum (Ayscough 4792). It has on the outer skin the signature 'Mathew Plunckett.' There is also a copy in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.

Previous works in relation to the MS. Carew's Abstract of the Chronicle was printed in 1747 by Walter Harris in his Hibernica, and again in 1770; but it is only fair to say that many of the blunders and absurdities which disfigure this production are due to the editor or printer and are not to be found in the original Abstract, though it, too, shows a misunderstanding of many passages and contains several imperfections and blemishes. For many years Irish historians had before them nothing but Harris's blundering production, and consequently the Chronicle did not receive the attention at their hands that it deserved. In 1837, however, the French text, edited by M. Francisque Michel, was published by William Pickering, and this edition, though by no means free from errors, was a great boon to those who could read the language in which the poem is written. A few glossarial notes were added, but no translation was attempted. There is indeed an introduction to Michel's text, written by Mr. Thomas Wright, which purports to incorporate the substance of the story told here with the materials supplied by Giraldus and other authorities; but owing to the writer's ignorance on the subject of Irish topography and nomenclature, as well as to an occasional misunderstanding


of the text with which he was dealing, very little was really added to what was already known on the subject.

Use to which the MS. has been put. I can find no mention of this MS. earlier than Carew's time, nor do I think that it was used in any of the earlier accounts of 'the conquest,' to which, as Campion says of his own Chronicle, Gerald of Wales was ‘the onely Author that ministred some indifferent furniture.’ ‘Mauritus Regan’ is noticed by Ware among the writers of Ireland in the 12th century. This book of Ware's, De Scriptoribus Hiberniae, was published in 1639, and in his De Hibernia et Antiquitatibus ejus Disquisitiones, first published in 1654, he made some use of Carew's Abstract of this poem, especially in the passage on the distribution of the lands granted by Henry II to Earl Richard and to Hugh de Lacy (pp. 233–237). A similar passage occurs in Ware's note to Spenser's View of the State of Ireland (Reprint 1809), where he says that Carew's ‘Translation’ was communicated to him by Archbishop Ussher. This book was first published in 1633, but I cannot find the note in that edition. Sir Richard Cox collected materials for his Hibernia Anglicana, published in 1689, from the Lambeth Library, and made considerable use of this poem as represented by Carew's Abstract, the mistakes of which he reproduces; and so with subsequent writers, such as Lyttelton, Leland, O'Halloran, Gordon, Moore, &c.; they seem to have known ‘Regan,’ as they call their authority, only through Harris's incorrect reproduction thereof; and similarly, even long after the appearance of Michel's text, writers, such as Gerald Supple, Martin Haverty and others, have known only the English version, until Miss Katherine Norgate, in her Angevin Kings, and Professor G. T. Stokes, in his Lectures on Ireland and the Anglo-Norman Church, made a more critical use of portions of the text, though not without occasionally misunderstanding it.


The present Edition. In the present edition, I have aimed, in the first place, at producing a thoroughly trustworthy transcript of the MS. With this object I have carefully collated Michel's text with the MS. at Lambeth, and have found and corrected a considerable number of positive misreadings. I have also adhered to the original more closely than M. Michel aimed at doing. The text is, in fact, printed as nearly as possible as it has come down to us, except that the contractions have been expanded—the letters supplied being, however, printed in italics—and marks of punctuation have been added. In many cases a single word is divided in the MS., generally, but not always, according to its component parts; and, on the other hand, two or more words are often run into one. These peculiar word-divisions, where clearly marked, have been reproduced, and, where likely to deceive, noted. In some cases, as, for instance, in ll. 15, 2321, and 2860, they have been unintentionally reproduced by M. Michel and have misled commentators. Even the apparently arbitrary use of u and v has been followed. This may be thought to have been a superfluous labour, but graphic peculiarities of this kind are among the data which may enable palaeographers to fix the date and even the place of composition of a MS., and as this chronicle is preserved in a single MS. it is all the more important to have a transcript of it which, short of a facsimile, will as nearly as possible supply the place of the original should any accident happen to it. A literal line for line translation is printed side by side with the text, and this, together with the footnotes, will, it is hoped, obviate any difficulty to which the reproduction of the faults and peculiarities of the MS. might otherwise give rise. This method of translation gives no scope for reproducing the swing and spirit of the original, but in all translations something must be sacrificed, and I have thought that for students of history and of language it is impossible to adhere too closely to the text at whatever


sacrifice of form. I should add that the MS. has no accents (except where noted), but the letter i (which also stands for j) is marked by a fine stroke like an acute accent. These marks seem to have been added after the text was written—at least they are in a somewhat lighter ink—and in several cases they have been omitted. It is noteworthy, too, that the letter z seems, in many cases at least, to have been an addition, for which however space was left. The Notes which follow the text in the present edition are mainly concerned with the identification of places, territories, tribes, and persons mentioned in the poem, and with references to the statements of Giraldus and of the Irish annalists and English chroniclers which corroborate, supplement, or are at variance with, the statements contained in the poem. At the end are added Indexes of the names of the persons and of the places mentioned in the poem, and a Glossary of the more unusual words and forms found in the text. I have also constructed a Map of Leinster and Meath, showing the positions of the principal territories and places, so far as they have been ascertained, at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion. With a few exceptions drawn from other sources, these names are all to be found in the topographical poems of O'Dubhagain and O'Huidhrin, which are believed to have been written in the years 1372 and 1420 respectively, and which give an account of the tribes and territories of Ireland prior to the English occupation. With regard to those names which appear in the text I have, where it seemed necessary, placed them in brackets underneath the corresponding Irish names. In locating the places mentioned in the topographical poems I must express my great obligations to the writings of the late Dr. John O'Donovan, without whose masterly elucidations of Irish topography I should never have attempted to construct this map. Frequent references throughout the notes will also be found to the Journal of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, now the Royal Society of Antiquaries


of Ireland, a publication which only requires a good comprehensive Index to make it extremely useful to writers on Irish history and antiquities.

Author of the Poem. As to the author of the poem and the date of its composition nothing is known beyond what can be gleaned from the poem itself. It is not even known where Carew got the MS. It has been much too broadly ascribed to Morice Regan. Carew himself appears to have been the first to give currency to this misconception. The MS. is bound up with a couple of outer plies of vellum, added to protect it, and one of these contains, in Carew's handwriting, on the upper left-hand comer, the signature, ‘G. Carew’, and the date ‘1617.’ Underneath is the following title and description:—

This old frenche ffragment wants bothe beginninge and endinge. Neverthelesse in the first tenne Lynes it appears that this storie was written by one called Maurice Regan (sometymes mentioned in this discourse) who was servant and interpreter unto Dermond M'Moroghe kinge of Leinster and put into frenche meeter by one of his familiar acquaintance. It endeth abruptlie at the winninge of Limericke which was not full 3 yeares after Robert fitz Stephen his first arrivall in Irland.1

A note to the same effect heads Carew's abstract of the poem, on the margin of which, opposite the name Maurice Regan, is written ‘this Maurice Regan was the author of this Historie.’

Carew evidently drew this conclusion from the opening lines of the poem, which must be examined with some care. Now these opening lines have been repeatedly wrongly transcribed and wrongly interpreted. As printed in Harris's Hibernica they are pure gibberish, and the translation is


of course wrong. These mistakes are, in the main, due to Harris and not to Carew, who does not translate the passage, nor in the Lambeth copy of Carew's Abstract is it transcribed. Lines 4–8 run thus in Harris's version:—
    1. Maurice Regan was the man,
      Who face to face indited to me
      These actions of the king,
      And of himself showed me this history.

Wright, in his introductory essay to Michel's edition, prints the correct text of the first eleven lines (except that he puts latinier for latimer) side by side with Harris's gibberish, which he wrongly attributes to Carew, and then gives his own literal translation; but, curiously enough, he seems to fall into precisely the same error as that which he attributes to Harris, namely, ‘that Regan had written the history.’ Wright's version of these four lines is as follows:—

    1. Maurice Regan was he,
      I spoke mouth to mouth with him,
      Who endited this history,
      [Who] shewed me the history of him.

Now Wright has mistaken parla (the 3rd person) for parlai (the 1st), thus apparently making Regan the subject of endita and by rendering this latter word ‘endited’ he has certainly done little to correct Harris's error.2

The translation now offered, which makes Regan the subject of parla, and takes the words lui ki cest(e) iest(e) endita as referring to the anonymous writer of the geste, with whom Regan spake face to face, still leaves room for


a certain amount of doubt as to the making of the poem that has come down to us and as to Regan's exact contribution thereto. Apart for the moment from ll. 5 and 6, it seems clear from ll. 2 and 7 that the writer who speaks of himself in the 1st person derived his account directly from Morice Regan. Standing by itself l. 7 might mean no more than l. 2, but there are repeated references throughout the poem to la chanson, la geste, lestorie, and lescrit, as the authority for particular statements3, and from these references taken in connection with the opening lines we must, I think, conclude that Morice Regan supplied the writer with a written chronicle of the events which had already been put into metre, so to deserve the name of a chanson. Morice Regan, Dermot's faithful latimer, may have himself kept such a chronicle, and our rhymer appears not to have been the first to translate and versify the materials. In dealing with a fragmentary passage such as that before us, there is an inevitable risk of misapprehension; but I am inclined to think that the words lui ki cest(e) iest(e) endita (ll. 5 and 6) refer, not to the person intended by the words moi and me in ll. 2 and 7, but to the writer of this pre-existing geste, chanson, or estorie. This supposition will, at any rate, account for the change from the 1st to the 3rd person. That our writer did not rely solely on the written materials


supplied to him may be inferred from the fact that he repeatedly quotes as his authority common report, or the statement of old people4 while such phrases as cum il me fud endite l. 177, solum le dist de mun cuntur l. 407, cum il me fud cunte l. 2241, seem to point to some particular informant, perhaps Morice Regan himself.

Date of the Poem. As to the date of the poem we have first of all the statement that our author met Morice Regan in the flesh, and as the latter was employed on an important embassy to Wales in 1168, and was sent to summon Dublin to surrender in 1170, we can hardly place his birth later than about 1147. Supposing he was eighty years of age when he told the story to the writer we get 1227 as an outside date. Looking at the contents of the Chronicle we find that the narrative is brought regularly down in this fragment only to 1175 or 1176, but there are two allusions pointing to a much later date. First with regard to archbishop Laurence O'Toole, it is stated in l. 1844 Que Seint Laurence pus ert clame. Now, though he died on the 14th November 1180, he was not canonized until the 11th December 1225, and prior to his canonization he could hardly have been called Saint Laurence.5 Lines


1843–4 have, however, the appearance of being a subsequent addition or interpolation, and there are not wanting indications that the original text has been altered in this passage (see foot-note to text, ll. 1837–42); but, however this may be, from another allusion we cannot place the composition of the poem, in its present form at least, earlier than the beginning of the 13th century. I refer to the passage (ll. 3040–3057) where Philip de Prendergast, the son of Maurice, is described and is stated to have married the daughter (Maud) of Robert de Quency, and to have long held the constableship of Leinster (cf. ll. 2823–6). The sketch of Philip's character, I may remark, is very graphic and reads like a description from personal observation.6 Now we know from this poem that Maud de Quency was born in 1172 or 1173 (cf. ll. 2744, 2807, 2819), and therefore she could hardly have been married to Philip de Prendergast before 1190. In another way we get an outside limit to the date of this marriage. On an inquisition in A. D. 1251 as to the lands and heirs of Gerald or Gerard de Prendergast, son of Philip by Maud de Quency, it was found that by his first wife, sister to Theobald Pincerna, Gerald left one surviving daughter who married John de Cogan and left an only son then aged eight years.7 This grandson of Gerald was therefore born in 1243. His mother, Gerald's daughter, must have been born not later than about 1223, and Gerald himself not later than about 1200. So Philip de Prendergast must have married Maud de Quency between 1190 and 1199, probably near the earlier date. Now he apparently obtained the constableship in right of his wife, and the poem says he held it for a long time. We can fix Philip's death as having


occurred between 1227 and 12318 and though the poem does not speak of him as having been dead, the statement that he held the constableship plus longement (or mult longement, which is, perhaps, the correct reading) could not have been made very much before 1225, or, at any rate, not until after the commencement of the 13th century. On the other hand, if we are to suppose that Morice Regan supplied the writer with materials shortly before the poem was written, we cannot place its date very long after 1225. Accordingly we must fix upon some time very soon after 1225, or assuming the allusion to St. Laurence to be an interpolation, some time earlier in the 13th century, as the probable date of the poem in its present form. So much for the immediate original of the transcript which has come down to us. Can we determine anything about the pre-existing geste or estorie with which Morice Regan supplied our author? Now it is a remarkable fact that, with the exception of these two allusions to the canonized Laurence O'Toole and to Philip de Prendergast, the former of which was probably an interpolation, there is nothing in the poem, so far as I have observed, pointing to a later date than 1177, unless, perhaps, the commonplace expressions referring to the statements of old people. Indeed even the reference to Miles de Cogan as ‘afterwards lord of Mount Brandon’ (ll. 1652–5)—a place included in the grant to him made at the Council of Oxford in 1177—is introduced in a somewhat forced manner suggestive of subsequent interpolation. The grant to Miles de Cogan and Robert Fitz-Stephen of the kingdom of Cork would more


naturally have been mentioned, had it already taken place, along with the elaborate account of the subinfeudation of Leinster and Meath. At any rate, we might have expected that changes in the grants there mentioned, as for instance the substitution in 1181 of lands in Leix for the lands in Kildare given to Meiler, would have been noticed had they already taken place. The account of the attack on Slane Castle (ll. 3184–3201), which is mentioned out of the chronological order, seems also to have been an afterthought. Certainly ll. 3202–7 read as if they were written to follow immediately after the account of the subinfeudation of Leinster and Meath. A similar inference may be drawn from l. 2341, where it is said that Richard de Cogan made his famous sortie from Dublin ‘par la dute del Occident’. The word ‘dute’ is obscure, but it is sufficiently clear that the western gate is intended. Now the ‘porta occidentalis’ is mentioned in a grant made by the citizens of Dublin in 1185 when John de Curci was Justiciar and preserved in the Register of the Abbey of St. Thomas, Dublin; and from a subsequent grant it appears that this gate, or more probably a new gate erected on its site, was afterwards known as the ‘Porta Nova’9. Mr. J. T. Gilbert, in his History of Dublin (vol. 1, p. 237), says, ‘the date of the erection of the New-gate has not been ascertained, but from the charter of the Hospital of St. John it appears to have been standing in 1188.’ If I am right then in supposing that it replaced the Porta Occidentalis, it must have been erected between 1185 and 1188. Now had this New Gate been in existence at the time when this account of the Norwegian attack was written it would in all probability have been mentioned. No certain conclusion can be drawn from negative evidence of this kind; still it bears out the impression gained from reading the whole


poem, viz. that the writer whose date we have approximately fixed as soon afler the year 1225, or perhaps a little earlier in the 13th century, did not add much to the pre-existing geste or chanson supplied to him by Morice Regan; that this pre-existing poem was written long before 1225 and probably soon after Strongbow's death in 1176, with which event it may well have ended; and consequently that the account we have before us, whenever it was written, is substantially a reproduction of the account of a contemporary writer. There is yet another important consideration which seems to support the above view. It is difficult to suppose that anybody writing in the first half of the 13th century on the subject of the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland should have been unacquainted with the works of Giraldus on the same subject; and yet while in the main our author and Giraldus corroborate one another, they do not always narrate the same events, and even when they do there is just such difference of treatment and divergence in details as might have been expected in writers who derived their information from distinct sources. The fact that both writers connect the rape of Dervorgil with Dermot's expulsion and ignore or slur over the lapse of fourteen years between the two events might at first sight seem to show that the later writer borrowed from the earlier; but the Annals of Clonmacnoise, under the year 1166, also affirm this connection, Which was evidently the popular view of the matter, and, as pointed out in the note to line 27, the popular view was not far wrong. On the whole I think there is no ground for concluding that this poem was in any respect derived from the Expugnatio. It seems to me to be an entirely independent authority for the facts it records, while the absence of any distinct reliance on the Expugnatio confirms the view that our poem is in substance the work of a writer who wrote before the Expugnatio was published.

History of the MS. As I have said, it is not known where


Carew got the MS. The following considerations seem, however, to point to a probable answer to this question. As already mentioned, the covering skin of the MS. has upon it under Carew's autograph the date 1617. At first sight it seems natural to conclude that this was the date of Carew's acquisition of the MS., but an examination of all the Carew MSS. at Lambeth will show that this date appears on fourteen of them, and as it also appears on the first volume of the original Catalogue made by Carew and now preserved at Lambeth, the hypothesis suggests itself that this date merely denotes the period when the MSS. bearing it were catalogued. But this hypothesis will not account for all the facts, as some, at any rate, of the volumes apparently catalogued in 1617 are expressly stated to have been compiled at an earlier date.10 On the other hand, of the books dated 1617, No. 597, Pelham's Letter Book, is stated by Mr. Brewer to have been acquired in this year,11 and No. 599, the Book of Pedigrees, is stated in the heading to have been copied in the year 1617. On the whole I think it probable that Carew did receive a considerable accession of MSS. in this year, comprising, besides those already mentioned, the following vellum MSS., viz. Bray's Conquest of Ireland and perhaps the Old French Poem on the Deposition of Richard II now bound up with the former (No. 598), the works of Giraldus relating to Ireland (No. 622), and the Essay, to be presently described, by James Yonge (No. 633). This accession of MSS. may have induced Carew to commence his catalogue and to group his papers then existing in a loose state into the other volumes bearing the date in question. The mere fact that he has placed our MS. in the forefront of his catalogue, marking it A, suggests that its acquisition was the immediate cause of the making of the catalogue. Mr. Brewer, the able editor of the Calendar of the Carew MSS.,


has made no attempt to trace the history of the MSS., nor even to set forth the order in which the volumes were obtained or compiled. He gives however, as an Appendix to the Introduction to vol. 2 of the Calendar, a list of all the Carew MSS., equating the old letter marks, consisting of the single, double, and triple alphabets, affixed by Carew, with the present numbering; and a comparison of this list with the contents of the MSS. themselves will show that all the MSS. dated 1617 are included in the single letter notation and in the first two volumes of the double letter notation, whereas those volumes, which, from their containing documents of later date, can be shown to have been compiled after 1617, are all, except XX, now No. 635, included in the triple letter notation. I conclude that in 1617, when the catalogue was commenced, the library consisted of all those books marked with a single letter and all those marked with a double letter up to TT, which was compiled in 1611. The volume marked VV, now No. 632, contains documents relating to Waterford, which, as will be presently shown, were probably copied in this year, but the volume may not have been completed until subsequently. Vol. WW is missing. Vol. XX, now No. 635, contains documents of date subsequent to 1617, as do nearly all of those marked with a triple letter which are still to be found. It therefore seems probable that our first impression was correct, and that the date 1617 on our MS. indicates the date of its acquisition by Carew. Now on the 21st February in this year, 1617, instructions were sent to the Earl of Thomond, Lord President of Munster, and Sir William Jones, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, to seize into the king's hands the liberties of the city of Waterford and to demand all the charters and evidences belonging to the corporation, and among other things ‘such plate, jewells, and other treasure as remayneth in the custoddie of any of them for the publique use and behoofe of that toune.’ On the 5th March following, these commissioners


report that they had carried out their instructions and had received thirteen of the city charters and had locked them up together with other things ‘in a chest of theires [i.e. the corporation's] in the Arundell Towre where all theire writinges are.’12 Now in vol. 632 of the Carew MSS.13 there are copies of a number of charters, grants and other documents touching Waterford, including some letters from Henry VII to the mayor and citizens about Perkin Warbeck, and it seems clear that these were among the documents seized in March 1617, and that Carew was enabled to take copies of them. If the four vellum MSS. bearing the date 1617 had been among the writings in that chest in the Arundell Tower it is certain that Carew, who was an ardent collector of historical documents relating to Ireland, would have made every effort to retain them, and the date 1617, affixed to each of them by Carew beneath his autograph, suggests that this was the occasion of their acquisition.

There is, however, some further evidence indicating the person through whom Carew may have got the MSS. Donough O'Brian, Earl of Thomond, who, as already mentioned, was chief of the Commission appointed to seize the liberties of Waterford, was a friend of Carew, who describes him in the year 1611 (Car. Cal. p. 147) as ‘an extraordinary well-deserving lord’, and in 1617 he occupied Carew's former position of Lord President of Munster. Now it appears from the heading to the Book of Pedigrees,


Car. MS. 599, that this book, containing the ‘descentes of ye meere Irishe families’ and ‘formed by sondry collections of ye Earl of Thomond’, was copied for Carew in the year 1617.14 Here we have direct evidence of one MS. coming from the Earl of Thomond in the year 1617, and, taken in connection with what has been already stated, this fact strengthens the supposition that this Commissioner, having seized a number of charters and other writings at Waterford in this year, gave Carew the opportunity of copying the former and of acquiring the vellum MSS. dated by him 1617, including our Old French Poem. That the corporation of Waterford should have had the custody of this MS. at this time is not improbable or without parallel. The Harleian MS. 913, which was in part at any rate the work of Frere Michel Kyldare, and which contains the Anglo-Norman poem on the building of the walls of Ross, written in the year 1265, was at one time in the possession of George Wyse, bailiff of Waterford in 1566 and mayor in 1571, and appears to have been known in 1608 as the Book of Rosse or Waterford.15 It has been suggested that this book had previously been preserved in the Benedictine Abbey of St. John near Waterford, as a grant of this Abbey was made to William Wyse, possibly the father of George Wyse, in the year 1536. With regard to our MS., however, I am more inclined to associate it with the Dominican Friary of St. Saviour, known as the Blackfriars, afterwards the Courthouse, at Waterford. This friary was founded by the citizens in 1226, and at its dissolution on the 2nd April, 1541, it is said to have contained among other things ‘a library’16. It was granted to James White in 1542, probably the James White who was


mayor of Waterford in that year. This James White had a special commission as Justice of Wexford in 1538, and from letters of his to Crumwell17 it is evident that he was an ardent reformer and upholder of Henry's claims.

Now in the 13th century there was a distinguished alumnus of this coenobium known as Gotofrid, or, as he calls himself, ‘Jofroi de Watreford de I'ordene az freres precheors le mendre.’ From his writings, three of which at least have come down to us, it is inferred that he was acquainted with Greek, Latin, Arabic and French, and that he had travelled in the East and lived for a long period in France. He is mentioned among the Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum18 but the best account of his works is to be found in an article by M. Victor le Clerc, in the Histoire Litteraire de la France19. He translated into French, (i) the book of the Trojan war by the pseudonymous Dares the Phrygian, (2) the History of the Romans by Eutropius, and (3) the Secretum Secretorum, an apocryphal treatise of Aristotle.20 This last work is

addressed to a patron, ‘a nobles bers prouz et sages’, whose name unfortunately does not appear. It is far from being a literal translation, but contains ‘many good words, not less profitable, borrowed from other works of authority.’ It ends quite in the Irish manner:—‘ceus qui cest liure liront prient por frere Iofroi de Watreford et por seruais copale qui cest trauail empristrent & par layde dedeu lont achief menei. & ausi le liure dares le frigien de la gerre detroi. & ausi le liure de’ [word erased, read etropius] ‘du regne des romains. Cest liure est fini.’21 The MS. containing these three works along with other writings is ascribed to the 13th century. It formerly belonged to the Bibliothèque de Colbert, and passed from it to the Bibliothèque Royale, and is now in the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris, where it is numbered 1822.

It would certainly be rash to conclude that Jofroi was the writer of our Poem. Indeed, judging from the excerpts from his writings printed in the above-mentioned works, his language is much purer French than that of our text, and is free from some of its dialectical peculiarities. As, however, both MSS. are probably transcripts, and our text has certainly been corrupted, no conclusive argument can be drawn from the exact forms of words used. At any rate, the fact that a monk of the Blackfriars of Waterford in the 13th century could write so freely in French as Jofroi did, and was ready to apply his pen to translating purely secular works, shows at least that there were Dominicans there who understood and valued books of the class to which our MS. belongs, and that there is nothing improbable in the supposition that the transcript which has come down to us was made for them and was preserved for three centuries in their


library, and indeed never left Waterford until the year 1617. Furthermore, from a doggerel couplet scribbled in an early hand at the end of James Yonge's Essay, Car. MS. 633, which we have already seen reason to suppose was obtained at the same time and place as our MS., there are express grounds for associating that MS. with the Dominicans. This couplet, written three times in a small professional hand, runs as follows:—
    1. Gratia nulla perit nisi gratia blakmonachorum
      Est et semper erit litill thanke in fine laborum.
A somewhat similar sentiment is expressed on the preceding page under the roughly drawn figure of a man in an early Tudor dress:—
    1. Farewell adue I must nedes goo hens
      My labour is lost I gett no pens.

This MS. is also remarkable from another point of view, for it proves that Jofroi's translation of the Secreta Secretorum was known in Waterford in the beginning of the 15th century. Like Jofroi's work, it purports to be a translation of this apocryphal treatise of Aristotle, though this fact is not noted in the Calendar of Carew Papers. Another and perhaps earlier version of the same work is preserved in the Bodleian Library, and is stated by Mr. J. T. Gilbert to be ‘the earliest known composition of any length written in English by an Anglo-Irish author.’ It is dedicated to ‘Yow nobyll and gracious lorde Jamys de Botiller, Erle of Ormonde, lieutenant of our lege lorde kynge henry the fyfte in Irlande,’ (A. D. 1419–22); and a comparison of its preface with that of Jofroi will alone show that Yonge had Jofroi's translation before him.22


Historical value of the Chronicle. Though, owing to the want of a good working edition of this poem or chronicle, historians have not fully availed themselves of its materials, yet its historical importance has often been noted. Thus Harris in his preface to Hibernica says:—‘Whoever writes the History of Ireland during the English Period must make this Piece the main Basis of his Account; and the Defects of our Author must be supplied from Cambrensis.’ Again, Mr. Dimock, the editor of the Topographia and Expugnatio Hibernica of Giraldus in the Rolls Series, speaking of this poem, which he frequently cites, says:—‘There is every reason to accept it as simple prosaic truth, according to the writer's best belief and information, put into simple rhyme; and in rhyme though it be, its history, I have not a doubt, is far more accurately true than Giraldus's poetical prose. Sometimes it gives a strong general confirmation to Giraldus's narration, but the particulars often are very different. Its heroes are not always the same as the heroes of Giraldus; and while it has nothing of some events related by him, it dwells, on the other hand, on other events and persons passed over by him in silence.’23


The Rev. G. T. Stokes, Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of Dublin, has, indeed, drawn on some of the materials supplied by this chronicle in his earlier Lectures on ‘Ireland and the Anglo-Norman Church’, and has ably shown to what valuable use they may be put. He too bears witness to the accuracy and truth of the poem, and says (p. 72):—‘The more carefully you study this Anglo-Norman poem, the more thoroughly you will trust it. It is evidently based on original documents. It fixes dates, Church festivals, mentions the precise periods during which the armies reposed, the roads they took, the rivers they crossed, and many other topographical details which have escaped the notice of the editor, Mr. Wright.’

The critical judgment as to the value of our poem by such writers as Mr. Dimock and Professor Stokes, who have studied the original text, far outweighs the adverse opinions of Lord Lyttelton, Mr. Moore, and even of Dr. O' Donovan, who were acquainted only with the inaccurate printed copy of Carew's faulty Abstract.

The chronicle is written from the point of view of Dermot and his allies. Indeed had the writer not told us so himself we should have concluded that his information was mainly derived from a devoted follower of Dermot. The very absence, however, of any sort of moral condemnation for anything done, except for treachery towards Dermot which is always committed à tort and the simplicity and directness of the narrative render it probable that it is a truthful account of what came within the writer's sources of information. His knowledge of Irish topography and Irish nomenclature


compares favourably with that of Giraldus. The orthographic rather than phonetic forms adopted for some of the Irish names, such as Hathcleyth (l. 2210) for Ath-Cliath, Hachedur (l. 1012) for Achadh-ur, Kinelogin (l. 3258) for Cinel-eoghan, together with the use of the word ‘langport’ (Ir. longphort) for camp, seem to show that the writer had an Irishman at his elbow; while the frequent employment of the tags and commonplaces of the trouvères proves his acquaintance with the rhymed chronicles and chansons de geste of the time. I have already remarked that the narrative appears to be quite independent of the works of Giraldus. The writer's freedom from the family bias of the Geraldine has probably enabled him to make a juster estimate of the relative merits of the invaders. We hear at least as much of the prowess of Earl Richard and of the de Cogans as we do of that of the Geraldines, and much is said in these pages of the probity and valour of Maurice de Prendergast, while Giraldus merely records his landing. Incidental allusions the accuracy of which can be verified—such as the mention of Robert Harding of Bristol and his monastery of St. Austin's (ll. 232, 302), the references to the Steine and Howe at Dublin (ll. 2269 and 2321) and to the names of the city gates (ll. 2333 and 2341), the mention of Henry's place of embarkation in Wales, La Croiz (2590), and of Raymond's home, Karreu, (l. 2860)—prove the correctness and the independence of our author's information.

Language and versification. With reference to language and versification, the poem, as M. Michel says, is faulty in style and very corrupt in its language. At the same time there are many indications that the poem as originally written was much freer from blemishes than the transcript that has come down to us. Again and again it will be found that a line, the metre of which is faulty, can be set right by some obvious grammatical correction. I have not in general thought it necessary to suggest such changes in the footnotes.


While in many cases to make the requisite alteration is sufficiently easy, to do this exhaustively, so as to make all the lines metrically and grammatically correct, would involve a reconstruction of the text which, with only a single MS. to go upon, would often be extremely problematical. In the case of Anglo-Norman texts written in England (or Ireland) it cannot be assumed that the lines were originally either faultless in metre or strictly grammatical in form, and it is well known that in England by the beginning of the 13th century the old rules of declension were rapidly falling into decay. Where, however, the reading of the MS. leaves the sense obscure, and in some other cases where it seemed useful, I have suggested corrections in the footnotes and adopted them in the translation.

With respect to the rhymes, which in general, with a few obvious corrections, seem accurate enough, it may be useful to make the following remarks:—
In apparent derogation of the rule that e proceeding from the Latin a only rhymes with an e of similar origin, we have the rhymes pe (pedem): naufre 1953: meyne 2385: lesse 2876, and pes: heistez 1096; muiller: per (parem) 2833: guerrer (guerrier) 3062; fer (ferum): herberger 2941: lesser 2986, &c. These examples, however, all come within the recognised exception that when the Latin e open, tonic, free (to adapt the convenient terminology of French phonetics) does not become the diphthong ie it rhymes with e=a. The rhymes fiez: fublez 596–7, feiz: turnez 2673–4, and feez: citez 3010–11 are explained by treating fiez (which we should read in each case) as proceeding from vicem + the suffix -atam.

Instances of silent consonants before s or z are—poestifz (elsewhere written poestis): Henriz 242–3; nefs: arives 469; gentilz (elsewhere gentis): pris 1003; detrefs (elsewhere detres): escriez 2363; Mechins: tramis 2162: amis 3355; meins (mensem elsewhere meis): reis 309: conqueis 2972; pirs (pejus perhaps read pis): pais 2530: enemis 3183; volt (elsewhere


vout: out 319. Careless rhymes are:—souders: armez 1897: aprestez 3380, but: poigners 3366; Dermod usually rhymes with vout, out, and the impfs. in -out of the 1st conj., but: Weyseford 1392; trestute: buche 3268–9 is a suspicious rhyme. In the following there is neither rhyme nor assonance:—demure (or demore): Leynistere 74–5; paumer: traitur 182–3, unless we suppose a form palmor; chevaler: partir 392–3, unless we suppose the verb assimilated to the first conjugation.

It may also be noted that the nasal -um=-ons: un (on) e.g. accomplerum: reisun 144–5, lisum: barun 1064–5. Similarly champ: garant 674–5, champ(e): blanc 2447–8. The rhyme meins (minus): anciens 2677–8, might seem to point to a form, ancieins but we have elsewhere anciens: quens. The diphthong ui is sometimes reduced to u:—thus we have not only nuit: brut 1312–13, and: dedut 808–9, where we might read bruit and deduit but also nuiz: venuz 1981–2, and nuit: jut 2137–8.

As in Norman texts, generally, we have ei usually retained for oi. Again, ie is generally reduced to e, and the past part, fern, in ee has lost the post-tonic e.

The impfs. of the 1st conj. are regularly in -out, but we have exceptionally ameit 53, and pleideit 2104; but this last is perhaps from the form pleidir, cf. Bozon, Société des Anciens Textes Français. Gloss. Conversely we have se pleniout 100 from se pleindre. There are indeed some instances of verbs in -eir, -re and -ir having been assimilated, at least in the infinitive, to the first conj.

Thus we have saver 622, aver (:feffer 435: mester 2731), poer as a verbal subst. 44; tener 776, 2838; ver=veeir 476; assente (for assenti 2371, cf. Bozon Société des Anciens Textes Français where the verb is assimilated to the 1st conj.; tollet 218, but elsewhere tolir 2708. There are however indications that this assimilation had proceeded much further when the present transcript was made than at the date of the original composition. Thus the rhymes asailler: mentir 1032–3, asailer: partir 1574–5;


asaillerent: defendirent 3192–3, show that the occasional reduction of asaillir to the 1st conjugation was the work of the copyist. The same may, I think, be said of the rhymes adurez: tapez 714–15, as elsewhere we have the form aduriz in rhyme, and syverent: virent 546–7.

Literary Qualities. As to the literary qualities of our poem, great allowances have to be made for the corrupt form in which the text has come down to us, and of course poetry in the sense of imaginative art is not to be looked for. Still this fragment seems to stand somewhere between the chanson de geste proper and the mere rhymed chronicle. It deals with heroes, though the heroes were real and, perhaps, contemporary men, and the cause for which they fought was not a noble one. We have constantly presented to our view the handful of mail-clad Norman knights and well-armed followers pitted against hordes of undisciplined and ill-armed ‘traitors’, and the conflicts between them form so many graphic battle-pictures. The repulse of the attack on Raymond's camp with the remorseless executions that follow; the desperate sortie of the 600 from the siege of Dublin, and the dispersion of O'Conor's enormous host, ‘like wandering cattle’, the furious attempt by John the Wode and the Northmen to recover their city, and their final discomfiture, are all told with simplicity and vigour. There is a touch of real chivalry in the conduct of Maurice de Prendergast when he braves the wrath of his comrades and crosses swords with his allies rather than permit an act of base treachery to a foe whom he has sworn to protect; and there is a stroke of something like humour in the advice of Miles de Cogan to the Irish chieftain to watch the battle from afar and join in with the victors.