Marginalia -- The Journal of the Medieval Reading Group at Cambridge


'On Englyssh Tunge Out of Frankys': Translation and 'Tourning' in Robert Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne

In the section of Handlyng Synne which discusses ‘sacrylege’, Robert Mannyng introduces the unfamiliar word to his audience:

Þat a3ens here fraunchyse falles,
Sacrylege, men hyt calles.
Sacrylege – frenshe hyt ys –
Menyng of mysdede or mys:
Mysdede to holynes,
Sacrylege on englyssh ys. (HS, ll.8597-8602)

In a poem which clearly describes itself as a translation of the Manuel des Pechiez 'tourned…/On englyssh tonge’,1 the description of the transfer of 'sacrylege' from French into English is one of Handlyng Synne’s most self-consciously translative moments. Using a word borrowed from Old French, which appears in the equivalent section of the Manuel (ll.6669-74), the passage maps out the cognitive steps of the appropriation process by which a word is accepted from one language into another. First, the concept for which a new word is needed is outlined – 'Þat a3ens here fraunchyse falles'. Next a new, unfamiliar word is supplied, which, Mannyng explains, certain 'men' use. The following line, with its repeated syntactical structure – 'Sacrylege, [noun] hyt [verb]' – narrows and clarifies the passage’s focus, revealing the 'men' to be, more precisely, French-speaking, and the new word, 'sacrylege', to be French. After this, a further explanation in English is given, like that of a dictionary definition – 'Menyng of mysdede or mys:/Mysdede to holynes' – before, finally, the new word is slotted into the English language. The echoing syntax of lines 8599 ('Sacrylege, frenshe hyt is') and 8602 ('Sacrylege on englyssh ys') suggest that by the end of the passage the word belongs equally to both languages – Mannyng has successfully 'tourned' it into English by means of taking it from French.

During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries an enormous number of English translations were made from French or Anglo-Norman sources2. The question of exactly how these French works were translated into, absorbed into and became English literature is one which has attracted increasing attention in recent years,3 although as yet there is no existing overview of the particular acts of translation which brought about such a wholesale cultural change. Political unrest and threats from the continent fostered a growth of nationalist feeling in fourteenth-century England, and there was a growing sense that the English language was crucial to developing an English identity. Phrases linking the two concepts were increasingly used in contemporary writing; the Romance of William of Palerne (a1375), for example, declares that it is written 'In ese of englysch men, in englysch speche’,4 Gower refers to 'oure englissh' in the Prologue of the Confessio Amantis (a1393),5 and Trevisa's 1387 translation of Higden's Polychronicon describes English as 'Þe burÞe tonge of Englisshe'.6 However, in order to rise in prestige as a literary language, English had to solve the problem of its unequal status with the romance languages. Christopher Cannon provides an explanation of the solution in The Making of Chaucer’s English:

after the Norman Conquest, English[d]e itself out of Latin and French in order to compete with these dominant literary languages in their own terms.7

Xavier Dekeyser’s 'Romance Loans in Middle English: A Reassessment' demonstrates that new loan-words entered English from French at the greatest rate between 1200 and 1350.8 Mannyng, then, was writing in the midst of this flow of new words – and, indeed, contributing to this flow himself. Cannon cites Handlyng Synne as introducing 96 new romance borrowings into English which were subsequently used by Chaucer,9 and the total number of Mannyng’s borrowings is larger still.10 As can be seen with 'sacrylege', Mannyng often 'translated' the Manuel by appropriating its lexis into English. According to the Middle English Dictionary, Mannyng is the first recorded user of 'sacrylege’,11 his introduction of the word in Handlyng Synne acting as a convenient diagram of what actually happened in the English language.

In both Handlyng Synne and his later translation, the Story of England,12 Mannyng is unusually forthcoming about his translation methods, both his reasons for making the translations and his way of going about them. Whilst there is not space here to address every aspect of Mannyng's translation processes,13 it is hoped that a study of his methods at the level of single words may prove useful in the attempt to draw a fuller picture of how medieval translators approached the task of 'tourning' foreign texts into English.

Chaucer, writing nearly 80 years after Mannyng, laments the problems faced by the English translator in his Envoy to The Complaint of Venus, a translation of three French balades by Oton de Graunson:

And eke to me it ys a grete penauce,
Syth rym in Englissh hath such skarsete,
To folowe word by word the curiosite
Of Graunson, flour of hem that make in Fraunce (CV, ll.79-82)

A development of national pride in a language does not necessarily elevate it to the level of a prestige language on a par with French or Latin, and the extent to which the 'skarsete' of literary English was perceived to contrast unfavourably with the 'curiosite' of French by Chaucer’s time has been the subject of debate in recent years. Chaucer’s role as the father-creator of English literature has proved one of the most enduring myths of the middle ages, having been circulating since Lydgate credited him with single-handedly having 'owre Englishe gilte with his sawes.../That was ful fer from al perfeccioun'.14 Cannon's important study rigorously refutes this myth, demonstrating that a substantial part of Chaucer's 'new' language was derived from existing English vocabulary.15 As in so much of Chaucer's work, it is dangerous to take his Envoy at face value; the picture he draws of a scrawnily inadequate English language may largely be regarded as a self-dramatising rhetorical trope. Apologies for inferior writing skills are, of course, a conventional part of the medieval modesty topos, and a criticism of the language in which one has chosen to write can, to an extent, be seen as an extension of this. However, a lament of this nature made in Mannyng's time should perhaps be taken more seriously. In Handlyng Synne, Mannyng includes a strikingly similar apologia:

NoÞeles, so weyl haue y nat seyd,
But Þat to my sawe, blame may be leyd.
For foule englyssh & feble ryme,
Seyd out of resun many tyme… (HS, ll.8627-30)

Here it is not clear whether he is castigating the English language or his imperfect command of it – his use of the first person singular in 'my sawe' would seem to suggest that his own use of language is at fault. However, if these lines are read as a description of the shortcomings of the English language, they deserve closer attention. '[F]oule englyssh & feble ryme' sounds very much like a precursor of 'rym in Englissh hath such skarsete' – Mannyng, writing at a time when the English language was genuinely more scarce in its resources, may well have felt himself to be more justified making such remarks.

How to expand this 'skarsete', however, was a question faced by all writers choosing to write in English at this time. Elevating itself by means of borrowing vocabulary from the Romance languages was all very well, but the extent to which foreign words and styles were compatible with English – and even desirable – was not always certain. It is illuminating to read Handlyng Synne in light of Mannyng's extended discussion of literary form in the Story of England, where he expresses his doubts about writing in ‘strange Inglis’:

Als [Wace and Langtoft] haf wryten & sayd
haf I alle in myn Inglis layd
in simple speche as I couth
Þat is lightest in mannes mouth...
If it were made in ryme couwee,
or in strangere or enterlace,
Þat rede Inglis it ere inowe
Þat couthe not haf koppled a kowe;
Þat outhere in couwee or in baston,
som sul haf ben fordon...
…forsoth I couth noght,
So strange Inglis as Þat wrought.
And men besought me many a tyme
To turne it bot in light tyme;
Þai sayd if I in strange it turne,
to here it manyon suld skurne… (SE, ll.71-4, 85-90, 115-20)

In view of the proudly nationalistic views which Mannyng expounds in this poem, it is tempting to interpret his opposition of 'strange Inglis' and 'symple speche' as being analogous to Higden's disparaging comments in the Polychronicon about English speakers who sought to 'francigenare' – Frenchify – their language.16 This idea has been perpetuated by several critics – Derek Pearsall, for example, remarks that 'Mannyng seems to regard poetic elaboration and the attempt to extend the poetic vocabulary of English as almost immoral'.17 A straightforward reading of these lines, taking Mannyng's comments at face value, would seem to support Pearsall's interpretation. However, there is a large gap between what Mannyng says and what he actually does, a gap which suggests him to be as capable of disingenuousness as Chaucer. Mannyng’s detailed dissection of the technical aspects of literary composition, where he debates the merits of 'rime couwee' and 'enterlace' in a manner unique to Middle English writers,18 suggests a knowledge of and deep fascination with these forms even as he appears to dismiss them.19 His eagerness to introduce unfamiliar words to his audience, both in the Story of England and Handlyng Synne, also seems at odds with this; a deeper analysis of his vocabulary makes his denouncement of 'strange Inglis' less straightforward than it might appear.

Along with 'sacrylege', Mannyng provides dictionary-style definitions for twenty-one other words or phrases in Handlyng Synne: 'mattok' (ll.939-42), 'requiem' (l.2625), 'lux perpetua' (l.2626), 'fals sweryng' (ll.2735-6), 'fallace' (ll.2779-80), 'iawnes' (ll.3977-80), 'accyde' (ll.4327-8), 'merce' (ll.4369-72), 'resurreccyun' (ll.4645-50), 'symonye' (ll.5513-14), 'Abrahams bosum' (ll.6655-60), 'charite' (ll.7113-14), 'bapteme' (ll.9501-6), 'frysoun' (ll.10669-72), 'minours' (ll.10739-40), 'eleccyoun' (ll.10998-9), 'termes' (ll.11039-42), 'oynament' (ll.11239-42), 'publykan' (ll.11657-8), 'dymynucyoun' (ll.12421-4) and 'cyrcumstaunces' (ll.12429-32).20 Of these words and phrases, fourteen are cited by the MED as being first recorded by Mannyng: 'sacrylege', 'mattok', 'requiem', 'fals sweryng',21 'fallace', iawnes', 'merce', 'resurreccyon' 'bapteme', 'mynur', 'frysoun', 'termes', 'oynament' and 'dymynucyun'.22 A further two – 'Abrahams bosum' and 'eleccyoun' – appear to have entered English at the beginning of the fourteenth century, both appearing in the South English Legendary (c.1300). Of course, dictionary evidence can only provide a rough guide to the time at which a word entered a language, relying as it does on surviving written records, but the simple fact that Mannyng chose to explain them suggests that they would have been unfamiliar to his audience. Such explanations are, on the whole, omitted from the Manuel – six of the words are given a more cursory explanation,23 but the crucial '[unfamiliar word] ys [familiar word]' formula found in Handlyng Synne is missing.

Fifteen of these words24 are either lifted from or directly prompted by the Manuel, eight of these direct lifts appearing for the first time in English. In appropriating the Manuel's vocabulary into his translation, Mannyng treats these newly acquired words as though they were English words, transferring them with their meaning intact. 'Bapteme', for example, is used by Mannyng exactly the way an English word would be in an otherwise entirely English line ('The fyrst sacrament is holy bapteme' (l.9501) could easily have been written 'The fyrst sacrament is holy crystenynge') even though, as he tells us three lines later, 'bapteme' is a foreign word, equivalent to 'Crystendom or crystenynge:/Þat is on englys oure spekyng' (ll.9503-4). However, by using it in the manner of an English word in line 9501 Mannyng transforms 'bapteme' from the French equivalent of 'crystenynge' to an English synonym for it, not so much translating as eliding the barrier between the two languages.

In analysing the ways in which Mannyng has 'tourned' his French original into Handlyng Synne, scholars are fortunate in having another, unrelated, English version of the Manuel at their disposal. Of Shrifte and Penance is an anonymous prose translation made towards the end of the fourteenth century, which appears to have been made entirely independently of Handlyng Synne .25 Whilst there is not sufficient space here for a comprehensive comparison of the two translations,26 it is illuminating to look at some of the different linguistic decisions which have been made. In his study of the extant manuscripts of the Manuel, C. G. Laird remarks that Of Shrifte and Penance's translation is 'so slavish that it can be though it were written in Anglo-Norman'27 ; In contrast with Handlyng Synne, nothing is known about the circumstances in which Shrifte was written. Its presence in a single manuscript (St John's College, Cambridge, G.30) suggests that it was not widely circulated.28 These variables make the drawing any meaningful comparisons between the translators' respective attitudes towards their craft problematic; however, a closer look at the 'slavish' translation of the prose text is helpful in shedding light on the extent to which Mannyng has recreated the Manuel anew for his English readers.29

An insight into the way in which Mannyng's greater awareness of his original paradoxically allows him to create a text which both acknowledges and veers away from the Manuel can be gained from his introduction of his poem’s title, where he tells us in micro-detail exactly how he has 'tourned' it, substituting existing English words for the Manuel's French title:

In frenshe Þer a clerk hyt sees,
He clepyÞ hyt manuel de pecches.
Manuel ys handlyng wyÞ honde,
Pecches ys synne to vndyrstonde.
Þese twey wrdys Þat beyn otwynne,
Do hem to gedyr ys handling synne. (HS, ll.81-6)

Here Mannyng has used the Old English-derived 'handlyng' and 'synne' – existing English words readily available to him. The mathematically precise ‘x = y’ formula for translation which Mannyng gives here ('Manuel ys handlyng', 'Pecches ys synne') seems to allow no wiggle room for nuances of translation from French into English. Yet the certainty of this method of translation is misleading. 'Handlyng' is not a direct translation of 'manuel', being a gerundive verb rather than a noun; a more accurate translation might be 'hand-boke' (a compound noun that has its roots in Old English),30 or the French word itself could even have been borrowed.

Possibly the first appearance of 'manuel' in English is in the equivalent passage in ShrifteI:31

Þe Manuel hyt is called, for in Þe honde hyt schulde be bore…Þe tonane is of zynnes, and Þerfore we schul calle hyt Þe Manuel of Zynnes. (SP, p.34)

This passage translates almost word-for-word the corresponding lines of the Manuel:

Le Manuel est apele,
Car en main deit estre porte...
Des pechie3 ert le surnun,
Pur ceo apeler le duum,
Le "Manuel des pechie3,"
Seit dunk ensi baptize3 . (MP, ll.63-4, 67-70)

Every piece of information in the Manuel, with the exception of the line about putting the two words together ('Pur ceo apeler le duum') is conveyed exactly in the English, to the extent that the French syntax is copied: 'Le Manuel est apele' becomes 'Þe Manuel hyt is called' rather than 'hyt is called Þe Manuel'; similarly, 'Car en main deit estre porter' becomes 'for in Þe honde it schulde be bore'. Handlyng Synne, by contrast, inverts 'Le Manuel est apele' to the more English syntax 'He clepeÞ hyt manuel de pecches'.

More pertinently – and paradoxically – in translating so faithfully, Shrifte behaves as though it were an original English text; as the Manuel does not mention a source, Shrifte is similarly silent.32 By contrast, the deliberate transparency of Mannyng's working methods emphasise the peculiar Janus nature of translation, simultaneously stressing the similarity and difference of 'handlyng' and 'synne' to 'manuel' and 'pecches'. His enthusiastic discussion of the many different meanings of 'handlyng', from 'understanding' (l.99) to 'lecherous touching' (e.g. l.8106)33, demonstrate Mannyng's keen awareness of the multitude of meanings a word can have – and suggests that he chose 'handlyng' over 'hand-boke' for a reason. The added dynamism which comes from Mannyng’s use of the verb 'handlyng' is emblematic of his translation as a whole – in 'tourning' the Manuel's French into English, he is adding a great deal.

The implications of Shrifte's 'silent' translation can also be seen in the way it deals with unfamiliar lexis in the original. When faced with a 'difficult' word, such as the twenty-two which Mannyng felt the need to explain to his audience, the attitude of the prose translator is noticeably different. Rather than adding a dictionary-style explanation, he will often silently substitute a synonym which was, presumably, more readily understandable to his audience. The Manuel's 'iauniz', for example – which Mannyng carries into Handlyng Synne with the explanation that 'Þe wheche ys a pyne,/Þat men se yn mennys yne'34 – is translated as 'Þe 3elow efle'.35 Similarly, the Manuel's 'diminuciun', which Mannyng explains 'On englys...ys to mene/To make Þy synne lytel seme',36 is replaced in Shrift by the obviously more simple 'to make hyt lasse’.37 As with his treatment of the Manuel's explanation of its title, Shrifte's author masks his exemplar by the very accuracy of his translation; if the French poem used a French word which was not considered to be worth an explanation, the English prose version would follow suit with an English word which was similarly comprehensible to its English-speaking audience. Mannyng's dictionary definitions, by contrast, simultanously 'tourne' the borrowed French word into English and act as a marker as to its 'strange' origins. In the spirit of Jerome’s remarks on the translations of Hilary the Confessor, Mannyng tames the strangeness of his French-borrowed words by making them into English: ‘sed quasi captiuous sensus in suam linguam uictoris iure transposit’, 'by right of victory he led away the sense captive into his own language’.38 In Rhetoric, Hermeneutics and Translation in the Middle Ages, Rita Copeland declares that 'translation tends to represent itself as "service" to an authoritative source...but...actually displaces the originary force of its models’.39 In Mannyng, this process is laid out before us as clearly as a scientific diagram. Mannyng's attitude towards translation at the level of single words is a microcosm of his attitude to translation of whole texts – by judicious use of French words from the source, French words from other sources and English words, Mannyng is able to create a version of the Manuel des Pechiez which is both a translation from Anglo-French and an original piece of English literature. Mapping out the moment of significant change for English, Mannyng is experimenting with what the English language can do, pushing and expanding its boundaries. His description of his 'tourning' methods both articulate and emblematise the larger act of translation which was being made throughout fourteenth century England, from a literary culture rooted in French and Anglo-Norman to what, in the fifteenth century, is regarded as an established 'English' tradition.

Elizabeth Dearnley (MPhil), U. of Cambridge



1. HS, ll.77-8. All line references are from Handlyng Synne, ed. by Idelle Sullens (Binghampton, New York: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, Binghampton University, 1983).

2. William Rothwell's revision of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, as well as his numerous articles on this subject (e.g. 'The Missing Link in English Etymology: Anglo-French', Medium Ævum 60 (Oxford: Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature, 1991), pp.173-96), have played an important part in reassessing the importance of this variant of French. Composed in England, it should be remembered that the Manuel's version of French is not necessarily that of Continental French.

3. e.g. The Medieval Translator: The Theory and Practice of Translation in the Middle Ages, ed. by Roger Ellis (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1989); William Rothwell, 'The Missing Link'; Thorlac Turville-Petre, England the Nation: Language, Literature, and National Identity, 1290-1340 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996); Christopher Cannon, The Making of Chaucer's English: A Study of Words (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), Wogan-Browne et al, The Idea of the Vernacular: An Anthology of Middle English Literary Theory 1280-1520 (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1999). Ellis' eight-part (at the last count) Medieval Translator series, based on papers given at the Cardiff Conferences on the Theory and Practice of Translation in the Middle Ages, has done a considerable amount to raise the profile of medieval translation theory.

4.William of Palerne: An Alliterative Romance, ed. by G. V. H. Bunt (Groningen, The Netherlands: Bourna, 1985), l.168.

5. John Gower, Confessio Amantis, ed. by G. C. Macaulay (London: Published for the Early English Text Society by K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1900-01), Prologue l.23.

6. Babington, Churchill and Joseph Rawson Lumby, eds., Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden monachi Cestrensis: together with the English translations of John Trevisa and of an unknown writer of the fifteenth century, Vol. II (London: Longman, 1869), p.161.

7. Cannon (1998), p.70.

8. Xavier Dekeyser, 'Romance Loans in Middle English: A Reassessment', Linguistics across historical and geographical boundaries: in honour of Jacek Fisiak, edited by Dieter Kastovsky and Alexander Szwedek, Vol. 1 (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1986), pp.253-64.

9.Linda Georgianna, Cannon (1998) p.62.

10. This was noticed by Mannyng's first editor; in the Appendix to his 1862 Roxburghe Club edition, Furnivall provides a list of 'most of the English words' for which Handlyng Synne 'is supposed to be (as yet) the first printed authority' (p.435), which lists 972 words. Frederick J. Furnival, ed., Roberd of Brunnè’s Handlyng Synne (written A. D. 1303): with the French treatise on which it is founded, Le manuel des pechiez, by William of Wadington. Now first printed from mss. in the British Museum and Bodleian libraries...Printed for the Roxburghe Club (London: J. B. Nichols and Sons, 1862).

11. MED s. v. 'sacrilege (n.)'.

12.The title most commonly used for this later work is the Chronicle (Sullens’ edition, for example, refers to it in this way). However, Coleman makes a persuasive case for preserving the title which Mannyng himself provides in the opening lines, and I refer to the poem in the same way. Joyce Coleman, 'Strange Rhyme: Prosody and Nationhood in Robert Mannyng's Story of England’, Speculum 78:4 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Medieval Academy of America, 2003), pp.1214-38. All line references are from Sullens' edition.

13. For more on this, see Furnivall (1862); Stephen Sullivan, Handlyng Synne in its tradition (Cambridge: Ph.D. diss., 1978); E. J. Arnould, Le Manuel des Péchés: Étude de littérature religieuse Anglo-Normande XIIIme siècle (Paris: E. Droz, 1940). When considering Handlyng Synne as a translation, it should be noted that the twenty five extant manuscripts of the Manuel show considerable variation, and it is uncertain what version Mannyng had in front of him. The extant versions of Handlyng Synne may also be some distance from what Mannyng wrote. The oldest and most complete manuscript (Bodley 415, which Sullens uses as a base text) dates from c.1400, and may be several copies beyond Mannyng’s original. So far Furnivall has been the Manuel's only editor; all line references are from his 1901 EETS parallel text edition.

14. John Lydgate, Lydgate’s Troy book : A. D. 1412-20: edited from the best manuscripts, with introduction, notes, and glossary, ed. by Henry Bergen (London : Published for the Early English Text Society by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1906-1935), Book 3, ll. 4237, 4239.

15. Cannon (1998).

16. Polychronicon (1869), p.159.

17. Derek Pearsall,Old English and Middle English (London; Boston: Routledge & K. Paul, 1977).

18. With the exception of 'baston', which is also found in the Cursor Mundi, Mannyng is the only source for these terms in English.

19. For a detailed reading of this passage, see Coleman (2003). There is not space here to discuss Mannyng's adoption of the Manuel's octosyllabic rhyming couplets; see Sullivan (1978) for a discussion of this.

20. Sullivan (1978) includes a similar but more limited list, p.114.

21. Although 'fals' and 'sweryng' were well established individually by 1300, Mannyng appears to have been the first to link them together. This phrase is also used by Chaucer's Pardoner, who declares 'fals sweryng is yet moore reprebable' (CT C, ll.632), suggesting that by the late fourteenth century the phrase had become familiar enough to be used in a satire of a preacher's verbal weaponry.

22. MED s. vv. 'sacrilege (n.)'; 'mattok (n.)'; 'requiem (n.)'; 'fals sweryng (Hrl 1701)'; 'fallace (n.)'; 'jaunis (n.)'; 'merce (n.)'; 'resurreccioun (n.)'; 'bapteme (n.)'; 'minour (n.)'; 'Frisoun (n.)'; 'termes (n.)'; 'oinement (n.)'; 'diminucioun (n.)'. .

23.The requirement to fast is relaxed (770-4, 2924-34, 5438-43); foregoing meat (5417-26); and tears (5222-4).

24.'Requiem' from 'requiem eternam' (l.2897; Handlyng Synne seems to have discarded 'eternam' for reasons of scansion); 'lux perpetua' (l.2898); 'iawnes' from 'iauniz' (l.3917); 'accyde' from 'accidie' (although the Manuel does not supply the Latin-derived word until much later, preferring 'peresce', l.4099); 'resurreccyun' from 'resurrectiun' (l.4305); 'symonye' from 'symonie' (l.4775-6); 'bapteme' from 'bapit3é' (l.7094); 'minours' from 'miners' (l.7615), 'eleccyoun' from 'electiun' (l.7774); 'termes' (l.7814); 'oynament' from 'oignement' (l.7918); 'publykan' from 'publican' (l.10108); 'dymuncyoun' from 'diminuciun' (l.9378); 'cyrcumstaunces' from 'circumstaunces' (l.9382).

25. Its editor, Klaus Bitterling, suggests 'not earlier than 1380'. Klaus Bitterling, ed., Of Shrifte and Penance: The ME prose version of Le Manuel des Péchés. Middle English Texts 29 (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 1998), p.29.

26. Arnould (1940) examines both translations in detail, pp.292-55.

27. C. G. Laird, The Source of Robert Mannyng of Brune's 'Handlyng Synne': A Study of the Extant MSS. of the Anglo-Norman 'Manuel des Péchiez' (Stanford, California: Ph.D. diss., 1940).

28. Doyle suggests that it might have been made 'by some very modest and ill-connected priest for his own and a few friends' use'. A. I. Doyle, A survey of the origins and circulation of theological writings in English in the 14th, 15th and early 16th centuries, with special consideration of the part of the clergy therein (Cambridge: Ph.D. diss., 1953), p.65.

29. The later date at which Shrifte was written also makes it an interesting text to compare with Handlyng Synne; one translation was made at the point where English was undergoing – or about to undergo – dramatic changes, the second was made after these changes were more fully underway. However, no definite conclusions about the differences in English translation methods at either end of the fourteenth century can be extrapolated from so small a sample of text, and it is unlikely that the status of English developed at a uniform pace throughout the country. More evident in this case is the texts' divergent attitudes towards translation.

30. This is Trevisa's translation of Manuel in the Polychronicon ('He...clepede Þe bok Manual – Þat ys "an handbok"'). Ronald Waldron, ed., John Trevisa's Translation of the Polychronicon of Ranulph Higden, Book VI: An Edition Based on British Library MS Cotton Tiberius D.VIII. Middle English Texts 35 (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2004), p.1.

31. MED s. v. 'manuel(e (n.)'. The MED cites the 1432 Records of the Parish Church of St. Mary-at-Hill, London (Rec.St.Mary at Hill) as its first appearance, omitting Trevisa and giving the date of Shrifte as 1500. Trevisa's translation is dated as 1387, which means 'manuel' must have entered English at an earlier stage; if Shrifte is indeed datable to 1380, the date is earlier still.

32. It was common for medieval translators to state that they were writing a translation, usually in a prologue. The convention for European medieval writers to inform readers that their works were based on established authorities is familiar enough not to be discussed here. In general, there seems to have been a greater tendency for writers dealing with more didactic, fact-based texts – chronicles, philosophical and encyclopaedic works, and religious literature – to demonstrate the worth of their writing by acknowledging an auctor. Translators and adapters of more frivolous works did not appear to feel the same compulsion – although, of course, many of these desired to appear morally weighty, closer in nature to 'real' history and improving literature – and this could be done by citing an authority, real or otherwise (such as Malory's countless assertions of 'the Frensshe booke seyeth' or 'the Frensshe booke maketh no mencyon'). A comprehensive study of medieval translators' prologues would be extremely useful. See Hope Emily Allen, 'The Manuel des Pechiez and the Scholastic Prologue', Romanic Review VIII (New York, New York: Dept. of French and Romance Philology of Columbia University, 1917), pp.434-62; Andrew Galloway, 'Middle English Prologues', Readings in Medieval Texts: Interpreting Old and Middle English Literature. Ed. David Johnson and Elaine Treharne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp.288-305.

33. For an exploration of 'handlyng' see Mark Miller, 'Displaced Souls, Idle Talk, Spectacular Scenes: "Handlyng Synne" and the Perspective of Agency', Speculum 71 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Medieval Academy of America, 1996), pp.606-32.

34. HS ll.3977-8.

35.Shrifte, p.73.

36. HS, ll.12423-4.

37. Shrifte, p.122.

38. Jerome, Epistula 57, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 54, p.512. Cited in Copeland (1989), p.28.

39. Rita Copeland, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics and Translation in the Middle Ages: Academic Traditions and Vernacular Texts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), p.4.

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