This study brings emergent methodologies of literary geography to bear upon the unique contents—or more to the point, the moving, artful, frequently audacious contents—of a codex known as London, British Library MS Harley 2253. The Harley manuscript was produced in provincial Herefordshire, in England’s Welsh Marches, by a scribe whose literary generation was wiped out in the Black Death of 1348–1351. It contains a diverse set of writings: love-lyrics and devotional texts, political songs and fabliaux, saints’ lives, courtesy literature, bible narratives, travelogues, and more. These works alternate between languages (Middle English, Anglo-Norman, and Latin), but have been placed in mutually illuminating conversation. Following an Introduction that explores how this fragmentary miscellany keeps being sutured into ‘whole’-ness by commentary upon it, individual chapters examine different genres, topics, and social groupings. Readers from literary history, medieval studies, cultural geography, gender studies, Jewish studies, book history, and more, will profit from the encounter. Harley 2253 is famous as medieval books go, thanks to its celebrated roster of lyrics, fabliaux, and political songs, and owing to the scarcity of material extant from this ‘in-between’ period in insular literary history. England’s post-Conquest/pre-plague era remains dimly known. Despite such potential, there has never been a monograph published on Harley 2253. Harley Manuscript Geographies orients readers to this compelling material by describing the phenomenon of the medieval miscellany in textual and codicological terms. But another task it performs is to lay out grounds for approaching this compilation via the interpretive lens that cultural geography provides.
University Press, 1979) is the most recent translation with parallel texts.
The editors state that it is unclear whether Matilda or her successor Adeliza of
Louvain commissioned the work but are content to cite a date of 1106–21 for composition, see ibid., pp. 4–5.
Legge, Anglo-NormanLiterature, pp. 9–14.
Which refutes Peter Noble’s assertion that romance writers were not interested in
Celtic material: P. S. Noble, ‘Romance in England and Normandy in the twelfth
century’, in D. Bates and A. Curry (eds), England and Normandy in the Middle Ages
(London and Rio Grande OH
A. Gransden, Historical Writing in England c. 550 to c. 1307 (London: Routledge,
1974), p. 237; M. D. Legge, Anglo-NormanLiterature and its Background (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1963), p. 75, gives the date of composition as 1174–75 and 1170–75
43 Jordan Fantosme’s Chronicle, ed. R. C. Johnstone (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981),
p. xvi.; Legge, Anglo-NormanLiterature, p. 75; Gransden, Historical Writing, p. 236.
44 Short, ‘Tam Angli quam Franci’, p. 153.
45 Fantosme’s Chronicle, pp. 72, 73, lines 974–83.
46 Ibid., pp. 78
Other Treatises on Estate Management
and Accounting, ed. Dorothea Oschinsky (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1971), p. 323. William Lambarde (1536–
1601) had an antiquarian
interest in rural Kent and copied Henley’s treatise in a personal notebook, providing his own translation.
3 See the listings for items 328, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396 in Ruth
Dean, Anglo-NormanLiterature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts
(London: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 1999).
4 See George R. Keiser, A Manual of the Writings in Middle English
1050–1500. Volume 10 (Connecticut: Academy of Arts
The Dunsoete Agreement and daily life in the Welsh borderlands
Writing the Welsh borderlands
is unusual in Anglo-Saxon laws but very common in Welsh ones.29 T.M.
Charles-Edwards has also pointed to the Dunsæte Agreement as a ‘context
in which English law might influence Welsh law’.30 In blending AngloSaxon and Welsh legal practices, the Dunsæte Agreement is analogous to the
post-1066 law of the March of Wales. The most important defining feature
of this region was its recognised status as legally exceptional31 – even in
Anglo-Normanliterature, as Ralph Hanna has recently noted, the March is
depicted as ‘cowboy country’ not
arrival. This text marks the beginning of an important conceptual shift
that would be fully evident in later Anglo-Normanliterature: the transfer
of a culture of outlawry from the mixed Anglo-Welsh inhabitants of the
borderlands to the Welsh alone by the end of the eleventh century.
The transformation of the borderlands outlaw
In the immediate aftermath of the Conquest, when an alliance of
Mercian earls and Welsh nobles rebelled against the Normans, the borderlands were the home of outlaws sympathetically depicted. Yet such was the
impact of the Norman
’, trans. Julio Escalona Monge, Hispania: Revista Española de Historia , 57 (1997), 957–80. For a fuller discussion of treason cases, see Stephen D. White, Treacherous Lords, Duplicitous Knights, and Unfaithful Women: Treason in Medieval French and Anglo-NormanLiterature (forthcoming).
2 Ganelon’s case, La chanson de Roland, ed. Frederick Whitehead, revised by T. D. Hemming (London, 1993), lines 3, 698–3, 974. For brevity’s sake I cite trials fully once and later refer to them by name, followed by the number of the note where they are fully cited.
, ‘Afterlife’, 24–25, 31–32. Hilton describes Worcester Cathedral as ‘a great centre of native English culture’ ( Medieval Society , 25–26).
45 Salter, English and International , 5–8, 67–71, 83.
46 Wenzel, Verses in Sermons , 40–41. The Welsh Marches were also ‘unusually fertile areas for Anglo-Normanliterature’; Barrow, ‘Aethelstan’, 42–43.
47 Boffey, MSS of Lyrics , 61.
48 Edden, Index of ME Prose , 59. Ker, Medieval Libraries , 211, notes Worcester Cathedral Library MS F.61’s Worcester provenance.
49 Terms like ‘individual’, ‘private’, and ‘personal’ have