12th Century texts

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Arthurian Romances

Almost all old french literature was woven in some form into the genre of Arthurian romance - a common hero is a knight from king Arthur's court. Some stories could have been completely independant of Arthurian myth, but choose to add a glancing mention of Arthur or one of his knights to give authority to their story.

Wace [[]] (1150-55)

  • "Roman d'Eneas" [[]](1160-65)
  • "Erek" Hartmann von Aue (c. 1190)
    • A later, german, version of Erec & Enide
  • "Merlin" Robert de Boron (french c. 1200)
  • "Joseph d'Arimathea", Robert de Boron (french c. 1200)
  • "Perceval" Robert de Boron (french c. 1200) - completely lost, much influenced the "Didot Perceval" c1205
  • "Tristran", Thomas
  • "Roman de Tristran", [[]] (Old French, late-twelfth-century)
  • "Tristrant und Isalde" Eilhart von Oberge (Middle High German, c. 1170) -poem now lost, 13thC copy remains. German version of Tristrant


Medieval Welsh collection of myths, contained in much later copies

  • The Mabinogi Proper
    • Pwyll, son of Dyved
    • Branwen, daughter of Llyr
    • Manawyddan, son of Llyr
    • Math, son of Mathonwy
  • Culhwch and Olwen
  • The dream of Rhonabwy
  • The dream of Macsen Wledig
  • Lludd and Llefelys
  • Owain, or The lady of the Fountain
  • Peredur, son of Efrawc
  • Geraint, son of Erbin

Breton Lays

These are short poem, often love stories, based on Celtic legends.

  • Graelant, anonymous, (Old French c1150-1200)
  • Guingamor, anonymous, (Old French c1150-1200)
  • 12 Breton Lais, Marie de France, (old french, late 12th C)
    • Glyn S. Burgess and Keith Busby (trans), "The lais of Marie de France", Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, England ; New York, U.S.A. : , 1986. ISBN: 0140444769 (pbk.)
    • "The Lay of Marie and Vignettes in verse" Matilda Betham, Garland Pub., New York, 1978, ISBN: 0824021126
      • library record notes: Includes abstracts of the twelve lays of Marie. Reprint of the 1816 and 1818 eds. published by R. Hunter, London.

Chanson de Geste

Fiction (not necesarily romance)

Geoffrey, of Monmouth (fl. 1130-1155)

  • "Prophetiae Merlini" (The Prophecies of Merlin)
  • "Vita Merlini" ("The Life of Merlin")

Marie de France

Fables (old French, late 12th C)

  • Mary Lou Martin (trans) "The fables of Marie de France", Summa Publications, Birmingham, 1984, ISBN: 0917786343
    • This edition gives Old French on the left hand pages and English on the right hand pages. Nice layout, academic introduction. Not translated into rhyme. Fables seem a little dry and moralistic to this modern reader.
  • Jeanette Beer (trans), Jason Carter (illus) "Medieval fables" Dragon's World Ltd., Surrey, 1981. ISBN: 0905895568
    • This appears to be an edition aimed at children.

Short poetry

(rather than whole novels written in prose)

  • Marie de Champagne
  • Denis Piramus (Vie Seint Edmund le rei, after 1170)

Troubadour poetry

Guilhelm IX d'Aquitaine

1071-1126 Father of the troubadour tradition.


c. 1127-1150 Innovator of the difficult trobar clus style.

Bernart de Ventadorn

c.1145-1180 Author of the troubadour classic "Can vei la lauzeta mover."

Raimbaut d'Aurenga

c. 1143-1173

Peire d'Alvernhe

fl. 1150-1180

Arnaut Daniel

fl. 1180-1210 Inventor of the sestina; his most famous piece is "Lo ferm voler q'el cor m'intra."

Bertrand de Born


Comtessa de Dia

late 12th c. One of the more famous trobairitz (female troubadours).

Peire Vidal

fl. 1175-1205


  • "Historia Regum Britanniae" (History of the Kings of Britain) Geoffrey, of Monmouth (p. 1136-1148/55)
    • Camb. Univ. Libr. MS.1706
    • Some translations: ISBN: 0140441700
  • "History of the tyrants of Sicily" 'Hugo Falcandus' (1154-69)
  • "Gesta Regum Anglorum" William of Malmesbury (England, 1st ed 1125, updates till 1135-40)
    • William of Malmesbury. "Willelmi Malmesbriensis monachi De gestis regum Anglorum libri quinque; Historiae novellae libri tres." ed. by W. Stubbs. 2 vols. London, 1887-1889.
  • "Historia Novella" William of Malmesbury (england, 1140-1142)
  • "Gesta Pontificum", William of Malmesbury (england,1st ed 1125, updates till 1140)
    • William of Malmesbury. Willelmesbiriensis Monachi De gestis ponti ficum Anglorum libri quinque. Ed. by N. E. S. A. Hamilton. London, 1870.
  • "Chronique des Ducs de Normandie" [[]]
  • "Chronica", Joceline de Brakelond, 1173-1203
    • In Arnold, T. (ed.) Memorials of St. Edmund's Abbey. 3 vols. London, 1890-96.
  • "Lestorie des Engles solum la translacion Mais tre Geffrei Gaimar." Gaimar(England 1135-1147)
    • Gaimar, Geoffrey. Lestorie des Engles solum la translacion Mais tre Geffrei Gaimar. ed. by T.D. Hardy and C.T. Martin. 2 vols. London, 1888-1889. Vol. I text, vol. 2 English translation.
  • "Historia Ramesiensis" or "Liber Benefactorum Ecclesiae Ramesiensis" unknown (c1170)
    • Ramsey Abbey. Chronicon Abbatiae Rameniensis. Ed. by W. D. Marcay. London, 1886.
  • "Henrici Huntendunensis Historia Anglorum" or "the History of the English" Henry of Huntingdon(England, editions from 1130-1154)
    • Henry of Huntingdon. Henrici Huntendunensis Historia Anglorum, the History of the English, by Henry, Archdeacon of Huntingdon, from B. C. 55 to A. D. 1154. In eight books. Ed. by T. Arnold. London, 1879.

Scientific texts

This includes texts such as bestiaries, astronomical texts, calendars, natural histories, etc which attempt to pass on some knowledge of what would be broadly classed science today. These books may also have served a secondary purpose of entertainment (for example heavily illustrated bestiaries).


Aberdeen bestiary


  • St Alban's Psalter (contains a lengthy calendar)

natural histories

  • Alexander Nequam (1157-1217)

Other texts/unsorted

More 12th C authors

  • Gerald of Wales (p. c1187-1216)
  • Alain de Lille (p. c1160/75-1182/83)
  • Orderic Vitalis