Marvin, Julia, ed. and trans., The Oldest Anglo-Norman Prose Brut Chronicle: An Edition and Translation (Medieval Chronicles 4. Woodbridge. The Boydell Press)
Text name(s): The Oldest Anglo-Norman Prose Brut; Oldest Version; Prose Brut
Number of pages of primary source text: 222
Dates: 800 - 1272
Archival Reference: London, British Library Additional MS 35092
- Translated into English.
- Original language included.
- British Isles
- Chronicle, Annals
- Literature - Prose
- Literature - Arthurian
- Nobility / Gentry
- War - Chivalry
- Royalty / Monarchs
There are several versions of the Brut tradition of English history, all of which begin with the fall of Troy and the legendary founding of Britain by the Trojan Brutus. The oldest Anglo-Norman prose version, contained in this edition, continues with Arthurian legend and a history of Britain going up to the time of writing, the late 13th century, specifically the death of Henry III in 1272. Drawing on earlier works such as Gaimar’s Estoire des Engleis and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae for its earlier sections, the prose Brut is valuable both as a literary source for Arthurian legend and for its more historical later sections. This Anglo-Norman Brut, along with its two continuations, the Long and Short Versions, were widely read and served as the basis for later English Brut histories. This first edition of the oldest version of the Anglo-Norman prose Brut includes the original text and a facing-page translation, as well as explanatory and textual notes (113 pp. together), two appendices containing the continuations to the Oldest Version found in two of the manuscripts consulted for the edition (2 and 4 pp., both with original text and translation), an extensive bibliography (11 pp.), and an index of persons and places (13 pp.).
The thorough introduction (71 pp.) argues for the importance of the Anglo-Norman prose Brut as a popular text during its own time and as a the source for the most widely-read historical and Arthurian English tradition. In particular, Marvin suggests that study of the text’s content, previously overlooked as unhistorical, would be beneficial, and gives an summary of the work to that end. The introduction also addresses the provenance of the text from its sources, date of composition, and authorship to its survival in the manuscript tradition.