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French – dialects, peoples and places – shaped late medieval European literary culture. We cannot with certainty ascribe any surviving French poetry to Geoffrey Chaucer, but the poet’s existing corpus demonstrates how Chaucer read, emulated and adapted French works and how Chaucer’s French also aided his approach to Latin sources. Chaucer’s contemporaries associated his poetry with the Roman de la Rose, and this essay surveys Chaucer’s engagement with French poetry produced by Eustache Deschamps, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, Christine de Pizan, Oton de Grandson, John Gower and Guillaume de Deguileville in relation to the widely influential Rose.
For a well-read medieval monk, as Guillaume de Deguileville must have been, remembering what he read involved memory techniques centered on the visualization of unusual, if not bizarre and startling, scenes and figures. Thus, as a writer who wanted his writing to be remembered, Deguileville conveyed the content of his three Pèlerinages through vivid and detailed descriptions of unusual figures and scenes, including interactions between personifications and biblical characters, which beg for visualization. Apparently unwilling to rely entirely on the reader's ability to create these memory-images in the imagination, the author himself planned for some illustrations, though we cannot know whether he devised complete programs of miniatures or supervised the production of any illustrated manuscripts. Each of his three French pilgrimage poems appeared individually with illustrations, but manuscripts that collect all three Pèlerinages include some of the most ambitious programs of illustration. It is as if the desire for uniformity stimulated designers and artists to continue the dense level of visualization frequently found in manuscripts of the PVH into the other two poems. Images, in fact, provide the most striking evidence for the high level of familiarity with Deguileville's three Pèlerinages from the late fourteenth to mid-fifteenth centuries: in the book of hours known as the Hours of Isabella Stuart (Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum MS 62), picture cycles for each of the poems – in the unusual sequence PJC, PVH, PA – accompany not Deguileville's poems but the familiar cycle of texts found in this personal book of hours, an indication that the images alone enabled readers to recall the poems.
As Fabienne Pomel's contribution to this volume demonstrates vividly, Deguileville's corpus reads like nothing so much as a collection of legal documents. The saga of Deguileville's poetic persona. Here distinguished by the Latinized name Guillermus de Deguilevilla, resembles a case file; both narrator and author are put on trial repeatedly, and poetic and juridical authority are closely related. Two instances of judgment stand out in particular, found respectively in PVH2 and in PA. First, in PVH2. Guillermus loses a judgment aboard the Ship of Religion, from which he is exiled as a result and deprived of his good name. Because of the poet's insistence on the (pseudo-) autobiographical nature of the episode, modern scholars have usually seen in it a reflection of Deguileville's own legal troubles, presumably at the hands of fellow monks at Chaalis. And because Deguileville linked this affair to the high-profile literary scandals of other authors – namely, Abelard and Ovid – it is plausible that he suffered for something he wrote. If so, this would doubtless have been the earlier PVH1, which the 1355 version (PVH2) was destined to correct and supplement.
The Castillian prose translation of PVH1, El pelegrino de la vida humana, underwent a number of transformations before even appearing in the workshop of Henrico Mayer Aleman in Toulouse, where it was eventually printed in 1490. The Spanish version is based on a French printed prose adaptation of PVH1, produced in Lyon by Mathis Husz in 1485 and reprinted in 1486, itself based on an anonymous prose adaptation of PVH1 produced for Jeanne de Laval in Angers in 1465. The translator is identified in Mayer's print as Vinçente de Maçuelo, who appears to have had close connections with the Dominican order and the university of Toulouse on the one hand, and with the Royal family of Castile and Aragon on the other. Indeed, a copy of Mayer's print was acquired by the Royal Family in 1492, presumably for the spiritual education of the young Prince John, whose training was entrusted to a fellow Dominican, Diego de Deza. The connections between Mayer, Maçuelo, the Dominican order and the Royal Family thus provide the main context for the reception of this work in Spain. Mayer's print also lends the text a more militant, combative tone, notably with the addition of a full-page frontispiece woodcut showing a hybrid figure of a pilgrim-knight. This addition may have heightened the book's appeal for an aristocratic readership, allowing the volume to serve as a ‘mirror for princes’ within the court.
This essay discusses how Croatian Renaissance literature reflects the influence of Deguileville's allegory of human life as a pilgrimage, looking in particular for possible borrowings from PVH. uncovering intertextual relations, this study also sheds light on how medieval poetic paradigms permeated Renaissance literature, bringing into focus dynamic continuities amid the shifting historical, cultural and linguistic contexts of Europe in this era. Croatia's position – suspended between Byzantine (Greek) and western (Latin) influence – invites us to look beyond traditional geographic boundaries as well as across the conceptual division of the ‘Middle Ages’ from the ‘Renaissance’. The openness of this literature to different forms of cultural translation is further enhanced by the linguistic complexities of late medieval Croatian culture, which is both trilingual (Latin, Croatian and Old Slavic languages) and triliterate (relying on Glagolitic, Cyrilic and Roman script).
Croatia's geographical position at the crossroads of Central Europe and the Mediterranean determined its role as an intermediary between the two large cultural arenas. During the fourteenth century, Croatian literature became increasingly receptive to the influence of western literature; in the fifteenth century, this influence became dominant, significantly contributing to the development of Croatian Renaissance culture. The fourteenth century – often considered the golden age of Croatian political history and court culture – witnessed the ascent of the French Angevin dynasty, the Capetian House of Anjou, to the Croatian-Hungarian throne (1301–1409).
Readers of the Pèlerinages encounter multiple embedded texts, presented as autonomous lyrics, letters, documents and prayers; such text disrupts the flow of the allegorical narrative on both a formal and a conceptual level, inviting readers to reflect on the authority of the allegorical narrative itself. These disruptions are marked in varied ways: shifts in metre, rhyme, or language; narrative presentation emphasising the material forms or extraneous uses of lyrics or prayers; even the use of acrostics that literally disrupt the linearity of the reading experience.
All these embedded texts identify specific speakers and/or addressees in a manner that suggests analogies with both medieval epistolary convention and judicial practice. Such formalised textual exchanges are characterised by an asymmetrical communication between different levels of authority, participating in a vertical system of exchange. In the case of the Pèlerinages, these texts also reciprocally connect different levels of reality, enabling a two-way system of communication between ordinary human agents and representatives of divine authority, absent or present. This creative emulation of epistolary and judicial models invites readers to explore the performative value of authorised speech and authorised text. Embedded text functions at once as language, as event and as object: it can be manifested as verbal performance and can also take on the material form of scrolls and letters, handled and exchanged within the narrative, thus intervening in the action of the poem.
The success encountered by Deguileville's Pèlerinages in the Middle Ages is undeniable, as attested by the numbers of surviving manuscripts. Yet manuscript numbers alone reveal very little about the nature of these texts' reception. Were these manuscripts read in extenso, or more discontinuously and selectively, or were they admired as a vehicle for lavish illumination? Who read the texts, in what manner and to what end? Although many manuscripts are indeed abundantly illustrated, more than fifty copies of PVH carry marginal annotations dating from the Middle Ages: the first of the Pèlerinages was thus not only the most widely circulated but also seems to have attracted the greatest amount of marginalia. Surveying the ‘tradition’ of annotation offers us a more informed understanding of the successful circulation of Deguileville's corpus.
PVH manuscripts display a wide variety of different types of annotation, both in Latin and in the vernacular, ranging from scribal annotations or rubrication to more discreet marks and comments supplied by later readers. The general tenor of annotations confirms that PVH was held in high regard during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Indeed, annotations are invariably non-polemical, and often highlight text extracts that readers seem to have found particularly edifying; exempla, proverbs, the author's elucidations of his own allegorical vocabulary and didactic narrative passages tend to attract more annotations than abstract and speculative episodes and, interestingly, annotations are found in relatively uniform density across the whole of PVH1.
The Cistercian monk Guillaume de Deguileville, also known as Guillaume de Digulleville and Guillermus de Deguilevilla, produced what could be termed both the best-known and the least known literary corpus of the fourteenth century: Deguileville's collection of compositions found a remarkable popularity in the centuries immediately following its production yet suffered almost equally striking critical neglect in modern scholarship before a rise in interest from the mid-twentieth century onwards. The corpus as it survives today consists of the allegorical French pilgrimage narratives PVH (existing in two versions, c. 1331 and c. 1355 respectively), PA (c. 1355) and PJC (c. 1358), as well as the shorter narrative Roman de la fleur de lys [Romance of the Lily] (c. 1338) and varied Latin pieces. All of Deguileville's narratives are composed for the most part in the octosyllabic couplets characteristic of late medieval French verse, yet each of the pilgrimage narratives also features accompanying or embedded French, Latin, or macaronic texts in a variety of forms, and Deguileville's period of composition interestingly coincides with the linguistic transition now described as the movement from ancien français to moyen français. Most of what we know regarding the dating of the corpus and the life of Deguileville depends upon the interpretation of passages from his allegories that appear to be autobiographical in nature. Although spellings of his name vary, the poet's name suggests an origin in the town now known as Digulleville, near Cherbourg in present day France.
Paris, BnF MS Lat. 14845 (hereafter ‘MS S’) is a fifteenth-century miscellany of predominantly religious prose and verse, written for the most part in Latin and owned by the medieval Parisian monastery of Saint-Victor. MS S is best known to modern scholars for recording Bernard of Clairvaux's appeal to the English for support of the Second Crusade (fols 287r–288v). Rather than the connection of MS S to this early member of the Cistercian order, however, this essay considers how MS S informs our understanding of the literature produced by the late medieval Cistercian monk, Guillaume de Deguileville. MS S provides valuable evidence concerning the manner in which Deguileville sought authority for his works, reflecting the author's determination to integrate autobiographical material into his didactic allegory and to address the interests of both vernacular and Latinate readers. Scholarship typically depicts Deguileville as the author of a French verse trilogy, comprised of PVH (extant in two versions), PA and PJC. These works did circulate together in manuscripts from an early date, and the three were printed together in early sixteenth-century Paris by Remboldt and Petit as Le Romani des trois pelerinaiges. But such tripartite characterization diminishes and oversimplifies Deguileville's literary production, reflecting the power of later reception rather than Deguileville's own presentation of his corpus.