Short, Ian, ed., Geffrei Gaimar: Estoire des Engleis, History of the English (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press)
Text name(s): L'Estoire des Engleis
Number of pages of primary source text: 496
Dates: 1100 - 1147
Archival Reference: London British Library Royal MS 13.A.xxi
- Translated into English.
- Original language included.
Translation Comments: Original language included. English prose translation.
- British Isles
- Literature - Verse
- Chronicle, Annals
- War - Military History
- War - Chivalry
- Royalty / Monarchs
- Nobility / Gentry
- Literature - Epics, Romance
- Women / Gender
- Family / Children
This edition contains Geoffrey Gaimar’s verse chronicle, Estorie des Engles, the first surviving historiography written in French. The original French has been provided with a facing-page prose translation. Gaimar wrote the text sometime between 1135 and 1147, and identifies Custance, wife of Ralph FitzGilbert, as his patron. The poem was derived from several works in French, English and Latin including Geoffrey of Monmouth, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a Welsh Chronicle of Welsh Kings, a History of Winchester, the English Book of Wachingborough, and Gildas. Notably, this chronicle includes the first documentation of the Havelok romance. It appears to have been longer in its original form; surviving manuscripts begin with the arrival of Cerdic and end with the death of William Rufus in 1100. This edition updates Alexander Bell’s L’Estoire des Engleis by Geffrei Gaimar, Anglo-Norman Texts 13 (Oxford, 1960), the edition of choice since its publication. While Bell combines readings from multiple manuscript sources, Short (responding to changing editorial trends) draws on a single manuscript source.
Short’s introduction (p. ix-liii) helpfully discusses the Lincolnshire audience and aristocratic alliances shaping Gaimar’s chronicle, though he assumes prior familiarity with the chronicle and its historical context. He also briefly addresses the text’s manuscript witnesses, textual tradition, and language, referring readers to Bell for extended linguistic analysis and notes. Of note is Short’s somewhat irascible summary of the critical tradition that has ignored or dismissed Gaimar’s work and his citation of the new voices contributing to the more recent reassessment of Gaimar.