Middle English Word of the Moment

Monday, April 6, 2009

Anglo-Norman petitions #1: O. of C. to the king.

Translation of a petition to the king (Richard II or Henry IV): O. of C. complains that a widow whose marriage was promised to him has remarried without licence, and asks that, in compensation, he receive the fine she will have to pay.

Please note: I have no qualifications in Anglo-Norman, or in fact in any form of French. The following translation is intended as a fun exercise, not a rigorous scholarly undertaking, and accuracy and finesse are in no way guaranteed.

Anglo-Norman Letters and Petitions V, p 3-4: O. de C. to the King.

To the most excellent and most redoubtable lord, our lord the King, your poor subjet O. of C. humbly supplicates that, as it has pleased your most gracious lordship to write to A., once the wife of J. and now a widow, asking that she would take your said supplicant to be her husband; and as despite this she has taken a husband at her own will without your licence; and as she therefore must[1] pay a fine to you, most gracious lord, may it please your highness, since he[2] may not have the woman, to grant to him the fine that she must pay to you on account of having married without licence. In the name of charity.

Original text from Anglo-Norman Letters and Petitions from All Souls MS. 182, ed. M. D. Legge, Anglo-Norman Texts 3 (Oxford: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 1941). 3.

[1] “ele convient faire un fin ovec vous”: possibly “she has agreed to pay you a fine” instead, but lacking specific indication of her input - and because the rest of the petition implies that legal proceedings have not yet begun - I'm assuming that O. is referring to the usual fine imposed in such situations, rather than an agreement she has reached with authorities.
[2] Ie, your supplicant, me. The petitioners, so far as I've read, refer to themselves exclusively in the third person.

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