Femina (Trinity College, Cambridge MS B.14.40): edited with an Introduction and Notes

William Rothwell

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Although presented as a continuous whole, Femina is, in fact, made up of three independent parts taken from different earlier works, followed by a fourth section composed by the scribe himself that derives its material from the first section. This first and major component of the text is an abridged and grossly inaccurate copy of one of the manuscripts of Walter of Bibbesworth’s Tretiz (Rothwell 1990), followed by two much smaller additions of a quite different character, one of them an extract from Urbain le Courtois (Parsons 1929) and the other ‘borrowed’ from Bozon’s Proverbes de bon enseignement (see Arnould 1939 pp.4-8), each of the three parts being clearly separated from the others by a break in the text. At the end of the Bibbesworth section the scribe writes: ‘And now y ende here my resoun’ (p.83), prefacing the start of his new theme with the Latin: ‘De moribus infantis’; ten pages later he moves on to his third section, with the words: ‘Querez Catoun pur autorité, Secheþ Catoun for authorite’. After concluding his moral teaching in this third section with the hope that his readers might come into the joy of God and sealing it with ‘Amen’, he nevertheless embarks immediately on the fourth section, the only part of the work that is his own creation, a tripartite exposition of the French vocabulary used in his first section. These pages are set out in three columns under the Latin headings: Linia scripcionis, Regula locucionis and Regula construccionis. The first column contains a list of French words in roughly alphabetical order, the second one spells them as the scribe thinks they should be pronounced, and the third column translates them into English. Only at the end of this section does he finally bring his work to a conclusion – ‘Qui scripsit carmen sit benedictus Amen. Explicit ffemina nova’.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Anglo-Norman On-Line Hub
ISBN (Print)978-0-9552124-0-6
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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