, Volume 95, Issue 4, pp 649–660 | Cite as

‘And He, That Did it Out of French Translait’: Cleriadus in France, England and Scotland, c. 1440–1550

  • Emily Wingfield


The Older Scots romance Clariodus survives uniquely in a manuscript written in the second half of the sixteenth century (Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ MS 19.2.5). The romance itself was composed in the first half of the sixteenth century, most probably during the reign of King James V of Scotland. It is a remarkably close translation into decasyllabic couplets of the French prose romance, Cleriadus et Meliadice, estimated to have been composed between 1440 and 1444. Recent years have seen an increasing scholarly interest in the French Cleriadus, particularly concerning its focus on kingship, moral conduct and the presentation of Clariodus’ rise to power. By contrast, the Scottish romance has received regrettably little attention. This essay focuses on the poem’s authorship and sources. It interrogates a passage unique to the Scots translation in which Clariodus’ unknown author claims to have used two sources—the original French Cleriadus and a previous prose translation, commonly assumed to be in English. The plausibility of this assertion is tested via an examination of the fifteenth-century manuscripts and early reception of the original French romance at the court of Queen Marie d’Anjou. The predominantly female readers of Cleriadus are shown to provide both a ‘Scottish link’ which anticipates the sixteenth-century Scots translation and an ‘English link’ which provides a plausible context for an English prose translation.


Older Scots literature Medieval romance Medieval authorship and sources Translation Anglo-French relations 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander, J. J. G. (1983). Painting and manuscript illumination for royal patrons in the later Middle Ages. In V. J. Scattergood & J. W. Sherborne (Eds.), English court culture in the later middle ages (pp. 141–162). London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  2. Archer, R. E. (2004). Chaucer, Alice, Duchess of Suffolk (c. 1405–1475). Oxford dictionary of national biography. Accessed Feb 13 2009.
  3. Archibald, E. (1989). Fathers and Kings in Apollonius of Tyre. In M. M. Mackenzie & C. Roueché (Eds.), Images of authority: Papers presented to Joyce Reynolds on the occasion of her 70th birthday (pp. 24–40). Cambridge: Cambridge Philological Society.Google Scholar
  4. Archibald, E. (1991). Apollonius of Tyre: Medieval and Renaissance Themes and Variations. Woodbridge: D.S. Brewer.Google Scholar
  5. Arn, M. J. (Ed.). (2000). Charles d’Orléans in England, 1415–1440. Woodbridge: D.S. Brewer.Google Scholar
  6. Askins, W. (2000). The Brothers Orléans and their keepers. In M. J. Arn (Ed.), Charles d’Orléans in England, 1415–1440 (pp. 27–45). Woodbridge: D. S. Brewer.Google Scholar
  7. Backhouse, J. (1987). Founders of the Royal Library: Edward IV and Henry VII as collectors of illuminated manuscripts. In D. Williams (Ed.), England in the fifteenth century. Proceedings of the 1986 Harlaxton symposium (pp. 23–41+ plates). Woodbridge: Boydell Press.Google Scholar
  8. Backhouse, J. (1999). The Royal Library from Edward IV to Henry VIII. In L. Hellinga & J. B. Trapp (Eds.), The Cambridge history of the book in Britain Volume III: 1400–1557 (pp. 267–273). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Balfour-Melville, E. W. M. (1923–1924). The later captivity and release of James I. Scottish Historical Review, 21, 89–100.Google Scholar
  10. Barbé, L. A. (1917). Margaret of Scotland and the Dauphin Louis. London: Blackie.Google Scholar
  11. Bawcutt, P. (1988). A Medieval Scottish Elegy and its French Original. Scottish Literary Journal, 15, 5–13.Google Scholar
  12. Bawcutt, P., & Henisch, B. A. (1999). Scots abroad in the fifteenth century: The Princesses Margaret, Isabella and Eleanor. In E. Ewan & M. Meikle (Eds.), Women in Scotland c. 1100-c. 1750 (pp. 45–55). East Linton: Tuckwell.Google Scholar
  13. Beaune, C., & Lequain, E. (2000). Femmes et Histoire en France au XVe Siècle: Gabrielle de la Tour et ses contemporaines. Médiévales, 38, 111–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brown, M. H. (2000). James I. The Stewart dynasty in Scotland (revised edn). East Linton: Tuckwell Press.Google Scholar
  15. Brown, M. H. (2004). Margaret (1424–1445). Oxford dictionary of national biography. Accessed Feb 13 2009.
  16. Carley, J. P. (Ed.). (2000). The Libraries of Henry VIII. Corpus of British medieval library catalogues, 7. London: British Library.Google Scholar
  17. Cartwright, J. (Ed.). (1986–90). The Buik of King Alexander the Conquerour by Sir Gilbert Hay. 2 vols. Edinburgh: Scottish Text Society.Google Scholar
  18. Casley, D. (1734). A catalogue of the manuscripts of the King’s Library: An appendix to the catalogue of the Cottonian library. London.Google Scholar
  19. Champion, P. (1910). La Librarie de Charles D’Orléans. Paris: H. Champion.Google Scholar
  20. Champion, P. (1927a). La Dauphine Mélancolique. Paris: M. Lesage.Google Scholar
  21. Champion, P. (1927b). Louis IX, 2 Vols. Paris: H. Champion.Google Scholar
  22. Chauvenet, F. (1999). Le Tombeau de Marguerite d’Écosse. In G. Contamine & P. Contamine (Eds.), Auteur de Marguerite d’Écosse: Reines, Princesses et Dames du XVe siècle: Actes du Colloque de Thouars (23 et 24 mai 1997) (pp. 73–80). Paris: H. Champion.Google Scholar
  23. Cockshaw, P. (1986). Review of Zink (1984a). Bulletin Codicologique, 1, 17–18.Google Scholar
  24. Coldiron, A. E. B. (2000). Canon, period, and the poetry of Charles of Orleans: Found in translation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  25. Colombo Timelli, M. (2006). Un Manuscrit inconnu de Cleriadus et Meliadice: Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek, Rep. II. 109. In T. van Hemelryck & C. van Hoorebeeck (Eds.), L’Écrit et le manuscrit à la fin du Moyen Âge (pp. 67–85). Texte Codex & Context, 1. Turnhout: Brepols.Google Scholar
  26. Conlon, D. J. (Ed.). (1971). Le Rommant de Guy de Warwik et de Herolt d’Ardenne. University of North Carolina studies in the Romance languages and literatures, 102. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  27. Craigie, W. A. et al. (Eds.). (1937–2002). A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue. 12 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (website:
  28. Curtis, F. J. (1894). An investigation of the rimes and phonology of the Middle-Scotch romance of Clariodus. Halle: n.p.Google Scholar
  29. De Boislisle, A. (1880). Inventaire des Bijoux, Vêtements, Manuscrits et Objets Précieux Appartenant à la Comtesse de Montpensier 1474. Annuaire-Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire de France, 17, 269–309.Google Scholar
  30. Delisle, L. V. (1868–81). Le Cabinet des Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Impériale (Nationale): étude sur la Formation de ce Dépôt. 3 vols. Paris: Imprimerie impériale.Google Scholar
  31. Du Fresne, G. L. E. (1881–91). Histoire de Charles VII. 6 vols. Paris: n.p.Google Scholar
  32. Duclos, C. P. (1820–1) Œuvres Complètes de Duclos, 9 vols. Paris: A. Belin.Google Scholar
  33. Dunn, D. E. S. (2004). Margaret d’Anjou (1430–1482). Oxford dictionary of national biography. Accessed March 4 2009.
  34. Epstein, R. (2003). Prisoners of reflection: The fifteenth-century poetry of exile and imprisonment. Exemplaria, 15, 158–198.Google Scholar
  35. Fox, D. (Ed.). (1981). The poems of Robert Henryson. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  36. Galderisi, C. (1999). Cleriadus et Meliadice: une chronique de motifs littéraires du Moyen Âge. Vives Letrres, 8, 85–97.Google Scholar
  37. Hanna, R. (Ed.). (2008). The knightly tale of Golagros and Gawane. Woodbridge: Scottish Text Society.Google Scholar
  38. Higgins, P. (1991). Parisian Nobles, a Scottish princess, and the woman’s voice in late medieval song. Early Music History, 10, 145–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Higgins, P. (1992). The “Other Minervas”: Creative Women at the Court of Margaret of Scotland. In K. Marshall (Ed.), Rediscovering the Muses: Women’s musical traditions (pp. 169–185). Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Horstmann, C. (Ed.). (1881–2). Barbour’s des schottischen Nationaldichters Legendensammlung: nebst den Fragmenten seines Trojanerkrieges. 2 vols. Heilbronn: Gebr. Henninger.Google Scholar
  41. Irving, D. (Ed.). (1830). Clariodus: A metrical romance. Edinburgh: Maitland Club.Google Scholar
  42. Kekewich, M. (1971). Edward IV, William Caxton, and literary patronage in Yorkist England. Modern Language Review, 66, 481–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Legaré, A.-M. (2001). Charlotte de Savoie’s Library and Illuminators. Journal of the Early Book Society, 4, 32–87.Google Scholar
  44. Legaré, A.-M. (Ed.). (2004). Le Pèlerinage de Vie Humaine en Prose de la Reine Charlotte de Savoie. Rotthalmünster: Antiquariat Heribert Tenscher.Google Scholar
  45. Marks, D. R. (1989). Poems from Prison: James I of Scotland and Charles of Orleans. Fifteenth-Century Studies, 15, 245–258.Google Scholar
  46. Maurer, H. E. (2003). Margaret of Anjou: Queenship and power in late medieval England. Woodbridge: Boydell Press.Google Scholar
  47. Mayer Brown, H. (1993). Cleriadus et Meliadice: A fifteenth-century manual for courtly behaviour. In B. Cassidy (Ed.), Iconography at the Crossroads: Papers from the Colloquium sponsored by the Index of Christian Art, Princeton University 23–23 March 1990, Index of Christian Art Occasional Papers, 2 (pp. 215–225). Princeton: Princeton University.Google Scholar
  48. Meale, C. M. (1996). Reading women’s culture in fifteenth-century England: The case of Alice Chaucer. In P. Boitani & A. Torti (Eds.), Mediaevalitas: Reading the Middle Ages (pp. 81–101+ plates). Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.Google Scholar
  49. Michel, F. (1862). Les Écossais en France, les Français en Écosse. 2 vols. London: Trübner & Cie.Google Scholar
  50. Mooney, L. R., & Arn, M.-J. (Eds.). (2005). The Kingis Quair and other prison poems. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications.Google Scholar
  51. Müller, C. M. (2001). Marie de Clèves, poétesse et mécène du XVe siècle. Le Moyen Français, 48, 57–76.Google Scholar
  52. Nicholson, R. (1974). Scotland: The later Middle Ages. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd.Google Scholar
  53. Omont, H. (1891). Les Manuscrits Français des Rois d’Angleterre au Château de Richmond. In Études romanes dÉdiÉes à Gaston Paris (pp. 1–13). Paris: E. Bouillon.Google Scholar
  54. Page, C. (1982). The performance of songs in late medieval France: A new source. Early Music, 10, 441–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Purdie, R. (2002). Clariodus and the ambitions of courtly romance in later medieval England. Forum for Modern Language Studies, 38, 449–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Reynolds, C. (1993). The Shrewsbury Book, British Library, Royal MS 15.E.VI. In J. Stratford (Ed.), Medieval art, architecture and archaeology at Rouen (pp. 109–116). British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions, 12. Leeds: British Archaeological Association.Google Scholar
  57. Ritchie, R. L. Graeme. (Ed.). (1921–1929). The Buik of Alexander. 4 vols. Edinburgh, London: Scottish Text Society.Google Scholar
  58. Rollier-Paulian, C. (2004). L’Errance du couple noble: évolution d’un outil didactique dans le roman du XIVe au XVe siècle (l’exemple de Cleriadus et Meliadice). In E. Bury & F. Mora (Eds.), Du Roman Courtois au Roman Baroque (pp. 267–277). Paris: Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  59. Sauvage, P. (1843). La Bibliothèque de Charles d’Orléans à Son Château de Blois en 1427: Publiée pour la Première Fois d’Après l’Inventaire Original par le Roux de Lincy. Paris: n.p.Google Scholar
  60. Skeat, W. W. (Ed.). (1865). Lancelot of the Laik: A Scottish Metrical Romance. London: Early English Text Society.Google Scholar
  61. Smith, J. M. (1934). The French background of Middle Scots literature. Edinburgh, London: Oliver and Boyd.Google Scholar
  62. Spearing, A. C. (2000). Dreams in the Kingis Quair and the Duke’s Book. In M.-J. Arn (Ed.), Charles d’Orléans in England, 1415–1440 (pp. 47–60). Woodbridge: D.S. Brewer.Google Scholar
  63. Steele, R., & Day, M. (Eds.). (1941-1946). The English Poems of Charles of Orleans. London: Early English Text Society.Google Scholar
  64. Stewart, A. M. (Ed.). (1970). The Complaynt of Scotland by Robert Wedderburn. Edinburgh: Scottish Text Society.Google Scholar
  65. Szkilnik, M. (2000). A Pacifist Utopia, Cleriadus et Meliadice. In D. N. Baker (Ed.), Inscribing the Hundred Years’ War in French and English Cultures (pp. 221–235). New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  66. Tuetey, A. (1865). Inventaires des biens de Charlotte de Savoie. Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartres, 26(338–66), 423–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Vallet, A. (1862–5). Histoire de Charles VII, roi de France, et de son époque, 1403–1461. 3 Vols. Paris: n.p.Google Scholar
  68. Ward, H. L. D., & Herbert, J. A. (1883–1910; reprinted 1961–2). Catalogue of the romances in the Department of manuscripts in the British Museum. 3 Vols. London: British Museum.Google Scholar
  69. Warner, G. F., & Gilson, J. P. (1921). Catalogue of Western Manuscripts in the Old Royal and King’s Collections. 4 Vols. London: British Museum.Google Scholar
  70. Wilson, R. M. (1952). The lost literature of medieval England. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  71. Windeatt, B. (1992). Oxford guides to Chaucer: Troilus and Criseyde. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  72. Wingfield, E. (2010). The Manuscript and Print Contexts of Older Scots Romance. Unpublished D.Phil. Thesis. University of Oxford.Google Scholar
  73. Zink, G. (Ed.). (1984a). Cleriadus et Meliadice: Roman en Prose du XVe Siècle. Textes Littéraires Français. Geneva: Droz.Google Scholar
  74. Zink, G. (1984b). Cleriadus et Meliadice. Histoire d’une élèvation sociale. In M. Accarie & A. Queffélec (Eds.), Mélanges de Langue et de Littérature Médiévales Offerts à Alice Planche (Vol. 2, pp. 497–504). Paris: Belles Lettres.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Churchill CollegeUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations