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GAIMAR THE TROUVÈRE.

THE few particulars that have come down to us relative to Geffrei Gaimar the Trouvère are wholly confined to such notices of him as can be gathered from his mutilated narrative; in the course of which he not unfrequently, but always in the third person, makes mention of himself. Availing ourselves of the research with which the various details relative to him and his work have been collected and examined by the eminent mediævalists whose names are subjoined, we shall preface our remarks upon his Chronicle with some few of their leading results.

From the closing lines of his poem, Gaimare appears to have been attached in some capacity-that of chaplain, perhaps to the household of lady Constance, the wife of a certain Ralph Fitz-Gilbert; who was upon terms of intimacy, he says, with Walter Espec of Helmsley in Yorkshire. This latter personage, it is well ascertained, died in 1153, and we are hence enabled, with

about the middle of the certainty, to conclude that Gaimar lived

century. From his mention, too, of David, king of Scotland, who reigned from 1124 to 1153, of Queen Adelaiz of Louvain, who died in 1151, and of Nicholas de Trailli, who was living in 1135, Mr. Stevenson considers himself warranted in fixing upon 1140 as the time about which his work was written. Mr. Wright says that somewhere between 1147 and 1151 was the period.

The principal residence of the Fitz-Gilbert family was in Lincolnshire; and this, Mr. Stevenson remarks, may serve to explain Gaimar's allusion, among his authorities, to the "Book of Wassingbured"-now Washingborough, near Lincoln,-a place at which the monks of Kirkstead Abbey (with which Ralph Fitz-Gilbert was intimately connected) held property, the gift of Conan, Duke of Brittany. Hence, too, Lincolnshire being the district in which the Danes principally obtained a footing, the prominence assigned by him to the legend of Haveloc the Dane; his frequent allusions to early settlers of that race; and certain peculiarities in his language which savour of a Scandinavian origin. To this circumstance also we may attribute the comparatively minute information given by him upon historical events which took place in this part of our island; with the localities of which he seems to have been more intimately acquainted.

Gaimar's Estorie des Engles, he tells us, was translated by him from

"The Church Historians of England. Edited and translated from the Originals, by the Rev. Joseph Stevenson, M.A. Vol. II.: The History of the English, according to the Translation of Master Geoffrey Gaimar. pp. 729, 810." (London: Seeleys.)

"Monumenta Historica Britannica. Vol. I. Edited by Messrs. Petrie, Sharpe, and Hardy.-L'Estorie des Engles, solum la Translation Maistre Geffrei Gaimar. pp. 764, 829.-L'Estorie... Gaimar. Edited by Thomas Wright, M.A." (Camden Society's Publications. London, 1850.)

As to the difference between the Epic Trouvère and the Lyrical Troubadour, see Sismondi, "Lit. South of Europe," ch. vii.

e From the line at the close of the poem, "Treske ci dit Gaimar de Troie," Mr. Hardy seems to infer that he was a native of Troyes. Mr. Stevenson, on the other hand, reads these words as implying that prefixed to his History of the English there was an account of the siege of Troy. This is probably the real meaning of the passage, as he tells us in the succeeding line that he commenced with the story of Jason, whose expedition was prior to the Trojan times.

An abbey chronicle, probably-now lost. Mr. Wright suggests that it may have been Alfred's Orosius," or a copy, perhaps, of the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle." See Poste's Brit. Antiqua, p. 357.

other works, at the desire, and with the assistance, of the lady Constance. The first part of it, beginning with the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece, is probably lost; the portion which has come down to us, after a casual reference to the preceding matter, abruptly commencing with the arrival of Cerdic and the Saxons in 495. In three MSS. out of the four now known to exist, in place of the first part, we find substituted Master Wace's translation of the "Brut.”

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That his work was based, to a great extent, upon the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Book of Wassingburc, and the History of Winchester— whatevere this last may have been we are distinctly informed by the chronicler himself. The question as to his remaining authorities is one, to all appearance, not unattended with doubt and perplexity. Sensible as we are of our own comparative shortcomings in Romance-Wallon, or rather Anglo-Norman, if indeed that is not a "distinction without a difference," and strongly impressed with the belief that the text of our Trouvère is thoroughly corrupt from beginning to end, we are inclined to think, with all deference to such eminent scholars as Messrs. Wright and Stevenson, that they have mistaken the true meaning of a passage which occurs at the close of the poem, in coming to the conclusion that it bears reference solely to the British History of Geoffrey of Monmouth, and to no other book beside. Censured though the Abbé de la Rue has been by the former of these gentlemen, for "so strange a misconception and misinterpretation,' we nevertheless are disposed to coincide with him in the opinion that allusion is here made to two distinct works, the one of which was corrected by the aid of the other. With somewhat less of confidence, we would also surmise that these two books may have been, the History of Geoffrey of Monmouth, translated from the Breton book that had belonged to Walter Calenius, Archdeacon of Oxford, and some Welsh History of the Britons, now unknown, passing under the name of Gildas, perhaps (see line 41), and which, like the book of Calenius, had been recently translated by order of Robert, Earl of Gloucester.

The question, perhaps, is one of as limited interest as importance; but to enable the reader to form a judgment for himself, we give the passage it appears in Mr. Stevenson's translation :

as

"Gaimar obtained many copies, English books and grammars, both in Romance and Latin, before he could bring it to an end. If his lady had not aided him, he never could have finished it. She sent to Helmslac for the book of Walter Espec. Robert, Earl of Gloucester, had caused this book' to be translated according to the Welsh books which he had of the British kings. Walter Espec had asked for it, and Earl Robert sent it to him; afterwards, Walter Espec lent it to Ralph Fitz-Gilbert. Lady Constance borrowed it from her lord, who loved her much. Geoffrey Gaimar wrote this book; he has inserted the accounts which the Welsh left out. He had before obtained, whether right or wrong, the good book of Oxford, which Walter the archdeacon made; so he corrected his book properly."

With reference to the historical value of this poem, Mr. Hardy makes the following introductory remarks:

• See p. 24.

Icele geste. It seems not improbable that this book of Walter Espec is the geste of Gildas (whatever that may have been) mentioned in line 41. This may possibly have been employed by Caradoc of Llancarvan, who is mentioned by Geoffrey of Monmouth, at the end of his "British History," as the compiler of a History of the Welsh Kings. Under the name of Gildas (41), Mr. Stevenson says Nennius is meant; but Constantine, the nephew of Arthur, is mentioned by Gildas, and nowhere by the Latin Nennius: as to the Irish Nennius we cannot say.

* Ki fust Walter l'arcedaien,—" which belonged to Walter the archdeacon."

"A manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle," he says, "supplied Gaimar with the basis of his work till near the close of the tenth century; but thenceforward his notices derived from it are few and occasional. These, in his translation, are frequently abbreviated, though the narrative is also often enlarged; sometimes expletively, by mere reduplication; sometimes, as it would seem, from an illation of incidents; and at other times by the insertion of matters wholly new, but apparently obtained from preceding narrations of a description more or less fabulous, but having among them various incidents which bespeak credible authority. In his version of the Chronicle, Gaimar does not always adhere to chronological order; he often mistakes the sense, confounds different persons of the same name, and distorts strangely the names of persons and places. In the portions after the Conquest his narrative, in a few instances, resembles that of Florence of Worcester, or of Simeon of Durham; but, generally speaking, though his account of William Rufus seems sometimes to be taken from a source known to William of Malmesbury and to Ordericus Vitalis, he cannot be traced decisively to any known author."

The History concludes with the death of William Rufus in 1100, though the author, from the language of his closing lines, would appear to have contemplated embracing in his narrative the reign of Henry the First.

Gaimar's style, it has been observed, is more pleasing than that of his brother Trouvère of greater celebrity, Master Wace. Reluctant though we are to derogate from even this faint praise, his verse, we are constrained to say, is halting and defective in the extreme; and it would really be no great stretch of imagination to fancy that the narrator is ever and anon talking himself out of breath, or is doing his utmost to clip his sentences, in emulation of the spasmodic distichs of Latin elegiac poesy. Presenting no beauties of diction, and possessing but few intrinsic merits as a chronicler, his great and perhaps only value is centred in such of his matter as is new, and not to be referred to any known authority prior to his day. To a few of the principal passages of this description we shall all but exclusively confine our notice.

Commencing with a passage devoted to the mention of Costentin, the successor of Arthur, and of the chieftains, Cerdic, Modred, and Hengist, the History, or rather that portion of it which has survived, passes on to the once admired romance of Haveloc the Dane and the fair Argentille; a story little short of 800 lines in length, and the singular extravagance of which may be appreciated from the fact that it seriously represents the Danes as established and ruling in England in the succeeding reign to that of King Arthur; a personage who, having probably something more than a purely mythical existence1, cannot have lived at a later period than the middle of the sixth century of our era, little short of 250 years before the first invading Northman set foot on British soil. This romance, however, to give our Trouvère his due, has every appearance of being an interpolation; and indeed, in the Arundel MS. it is found appended to the History as a separate work, and in a form probably more nearly approaching its original shape as a current story of the day. The reader who, not possessing a copy of the story as collated under the auspices of the Roxburgh Club, is desirous of perusing it in its fullest form, should read it, as appended to the Arundel copy, side by side with the text of the other three MSS.; each version having occasionally certain circumstances that are wanting in

Peter Langtoft, himself a Lincolnshire man, speaks of this story in terms of high commendation. The Danish king, Adelbrit, he calls Athelwold, and "Goldeburgh" is the name given by him to the king's daughter, Argentille. See Warner's "Albion's England;" and Percy's "Reliques," Argentile and Curan.

Geoffrey of Monmouth represents Aschillius, king of the island of Dacia, as being slain in battle, fighting for Arthur against Modred; and this is the only instance in which we can find any allusion in his History to the Danes.

the other, and such, too, as Petrie has remarked, as would leave the story incomplete, unless supplied from the other copy.

Why the learned translator, in his version of this tale, should go out of his way to interpret graspeis, an edible fish, by our word "whale," (p. 734,) we are at a loss to imagine. He hardly needs to be reminded, we should think, that the word graspeis is embodied in the English language under the form of "grampus," the gras or grand poisson of the French.

In his account of the tragical death of Cynewulf, king of Wessex, at Merton in Surrey, (sub anno 784, according to the Saxon Chronicle,) Gaimar gives some incidents that are not discoverable in any earlier writer. His narrative, however, is to all appearance in a confused and unconnected state, and the story, as it appears in the Saxon Chronicle-interpolation though it probably is-is related on the whole with superior distinctness and perspicuity.

We extract the following involved passage, valeat quantum, solely be-, cause it has been pronounced, on the high authority of Petrie and Stevenson, to bear reference to the composition of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. To ourselves it appears a matter of doubt to what, in reality, reference is intended to be made;-the prototype, possibly, or skeleton, of the early part of the Saxon Chronicle, but hardly, in our opinion, the Chronicle itself, as it at present appears. From the query in p. 92 of his Preface to the Monumenta, Mr. Hardy would also seem to entertain his doubts upon the subject :

:

"(A.D.825.) The sixth was Oswald, the seventh Oswi; but their kingdom did not extend here; nor, in consequence of the wars, did any man know how far his lands extended; and at this time men did not even know who each king was: but monks and canons of abbeys, who wrote the lives of kings, each addressed himself to his patron saint [" bishop," perhaps; son per], to shew him the true account of the kings; in what manner each reigned, his name, how he died; which was slain, and which died; whose remains were preserved, and whose had perished. And of the bishops, at the same time, the clergy gave an account. It was called a Chronicle-a large book; in it the English were collected. Now it is there authenticated, that in the bishopric of Winchester there is the true history of the kings, their lives, and their memoirs. King Elfred had it in possession, and caused it to be fastened with a chain, that whoever wished to read, might look at it well, but might not remove it from its place."

The text here, as elsewhere, is in all probability corrupt, and we question whether the real meaning of the passage is now capable of being ascertained. Be this as it may, no one of the copies of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle that have survived to our times ever belonged to the abbey of Winchester; and we have it here stated-pretty distinctly, it would seem-that the Winchester History came into the hands of Alfred already prepared; while the Saxon Chronicle, on the other hand, there is every reason to believe, was compiled from various sources under his inspection. Indeed, Gaimar himself informs us (sub anno 901) that King Alfred "caused an English book to be written, of deeds, and laws, of battles in the land, and of kings who made war;" a passage which, in our opinion, is certainly descriptive of the compilation of the earlier part of the Saxon Chronicle in its present form. The former passage, as read with the context, has very much the appearance of an interpolation: it can hardly be looked upon as bearing reference to the same transaction as the latter one, for in 825 Alfred was unborn.

The story of Osbrith, king of Northumberland, Buern the Buzecarle, and

Petrie and Stevenson look upon this passage also as bearing reference to the compilation of the Saxon Chronicle. How the two accounts can be reconciled we are at a loss to understand.

the wife of Buern, an Anglo-Saxon version, we may almost style it, of the story of Tarquin and Lucretia, is curious, and is naïvely told by our Trouvère. With the aid of condensation in a few unimportant particulars, it deserves transcription, the more particularly as no traces of it occur in any previous writer!. The Saxon Chronicle simply gives the fact of Osbrith's dethronement; here we find the key to the transaction :

:

"Osbrith held Northumberland: he was staying at York. One day he went into the forest: he followed the chase into the vale of the Ouse. He went privately to dine in the house of this baron, whose name was Buern the Buzecarle. The baron was then at the sea, for because of outlaws, he was accustomed to guard it; and the lady, who was very beautiful, and of whose beauty the king had heard report, was at home, as was right: she had no inclination to evil. When the king had arrived, be assured that he was received with great honour. When he had eaten as much as he pleased, then he spoke the folly he meditated: Lady, I wish to speak to you; let the room be emptied.' All went out of the room except two, who kept the doors; these were the king's companions, and knew well his secrets. The lady did not perceive why the king had done this; when he seized her according to his desire, and had his will with her. Afterwards he went away, leaving her crying; he went spurring to York; and when he was with his private friends, he boasted about this many times. The lady mourned much over the shame he had brought to her; she became quite colourless from the grief he had caused her. This was seen by her husband Buern, who was very noble and gentle. When he saw his wife pale, and feeble, and thin, he asked what had occurred, what it meant, and what had happened to her. She replied to him, 'I will tell you, and will even accuse myself; then give me the same justice that would be given to a robber when he is captured.' He said to her, 'What has happened?" She said, "The other day the king lay with me; by force he committed this crime. Now it is right that I should lose my life. Though this was done secretly, yet I am ready to die openly; I would rather die than live longer.' She fainted, and threw herself down at his feet. He replied, 'Rise, my beloved! you shall not be hated for this. Feebleness could do nothing against force; there is a very goodly dis position in you. As you have first revealed this to me, I shall have much pity for you; but if you had concealed it from me, so that another had discovered it to me, never would my heart have loved you, nor my lips have kissed you. Since this felon committed his felony, I will demand that he shall lose his life.' In the night he lay down, but in the morning he set out for York. He found the king amongst his people: Buern had many powerful relations there. Then Buern defies him: 'I defy thee, and restore thee all; I will hold nothing of thee. Never will I hold anything of thee; here I will return thee thy homage.' With this he went out of the house, and many noble barons accompanied him."

The Trouvère then proceeds to relate how that the friends of Buern forsake Osbrith, and " make.king a knight whose name is Elle:" not content with which, Buern brings the Danish foe in the vicinity of York. Osbrith attempts resistance, but the city is speedily captured, and the guilty monarch slain, "and thus is Buern his enemy avenged." Not less unfortunate is the fate of Elle (Ella), his antagonist, also described by Gaimar for the first time. Florence of Worcester gives us the supplementary information that peace had been established between the rival kings before they attempted to make head against the Danes :

"Elle the king was in a forest; he had then taken four bisons. He was seated at his dinner; he heard a man sound a bell; he held a little bellm in his hand; it sounded as clear as a clock". As the king was sitting at his repast, he said to a

There is a fragment of a similar story, written in Latin, among the MSS. at C. C. C., Cambridge, belonging probably to the twelfth century. Buern is there called Ernulf, "or in the language of the English, Seafar," ("seafaring man," a translation evidently of "Buzecarle,") and Ella, king of Deira, is the guilty monarch. Gower also gives the legend of King Ella in his Confessio Amantis.

Lepers, beggars, and probably the blind, carried a bell in the middle ages. Eschelete we take to mean the small bell called skilla, that was hung in the infirmary and refectory of monasteries. Hence, no doubt, our old English word skillet. GENT. MAG. VOL. CCIII.

E

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