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General Editor
(University of Ottawa)


Advisory Editorial Board

Sylvain Auroux (Paris); Ranko Bugarski (Belgrade)

H. H. Christmann (Tübingen); Rudolf Engler (Bern)
Hans-Josef Niederehe (Trier); R. H. Robins (London)
Rosane Rocher (Philadelphia); Vivian Salmon (Oxford)
Aldo Scaglione (New York); Kees Versteegh (Nijmegen)

Volume 60

Douglas A. Kibbee

For to Speke Frenche Trewely


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Kibbee, Douglas A.
For to speke Frenche trewely : the French language in England, 1000-1600 : its status,
description, and instruction / by Douglas A. Kibbee.
p. cm. -- (Amsterdam studies in the theory and history of linguistic science.
Series III, Studies in the history of the language sciences, ISSN 0304-0720; v. 60)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. French language - England -- History. 2. French philology - Study and teaching -
England - History. 3. French language - Study and teaching - English speakers - His­
tory. 4. Normans -- England - Language (New words, slang, etc.) 5. Education -- Eng­
land - History - 16th century. 6. Language policy - England - History. 7. Education,
Medieval -- England. 8. Anglo-Norman dialect. I. Title. II. Series.
PC3680.E5K53 1991
448'.0071'042 - dc20 91-6770
ISBN 90 272 4547 9 (Eur.)/1.55619-355-6 (US) (alk. paper) CIP
© Copyright 1991 - John Benjamins B.V.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, by print, photoprint, microfilm, or
any other means, without written permission from the publisher.

Preface and Acknowledgements vii

1 Introduction 1

2 Period I: Immediately Before and After the Conquest

(1000-1152) 5
2.1 Official and Unofficial Uses of French 5
2.2 Who spoke French? 8
2.3 Language and the Teaching of French 11
2.4 Conclusions 12

3 Period : From the Marriage of Henry II (1152)

to the Provisions of Oxford (1258) 14
3.1 Official and Unofficial Uses of French 14
3.2 Who spoke French? 19
3.3 Language and the Teaching of French 24
3.4 Conclusions 26

4 Period III: From the Provisions of Oxford (1258)

to the Parliamentary Statute of 1362 27
4.1 Official and Unofficial Uses of French 29
4.2 Who spoke French? 39
4.3 Language and the Teaching of French 41
4.4 Conclusions 57

5 Period IV: From the Statute of 1362 to the Age of Printing 58

5.1 Official and Unofficial Uses of French 63
5.2 Who knew French? 73
5.3 Language and the Teaching of French 74
5.4 Conclusions 92

6 Period V: The Age of Printing, Humanism and Reformation

(1470-1600) 94
6.1 Official and Unofficial Uses of French 95

6.2 Who learned French? 100

6.3 Language and the Teaching of French 110
6.3.1 Introduction 110
6.3.2 Grammatical Description 133
6.3.3 Teaching Method 181
6.4 Conclusions 185

7 Conclusions 186

Appendix I: Biographical Sketches 190

Appendix : Selected Introductions and Dedications 203

Bibliography 221

Index 245
Index of Names 245
Index of Titles 255
Index of Subjects 260

In my first conception of this work, a relatively short chapter on the cul­

tural background to the study of French in England was to precede a long
exposition on the linguistic texts. In the end, the two seemed so totally inter­
twined, that such a separation would have represented a falsification. This
book has become a case study in the relationships between cultural factors and
linguistic practice and as such I hope that more qualified scholars will take the
same approach to current developments in linguistic theory. Such an apprecia­
tion might help soften some of the mean-spirited rhetoric that has too often
characterized current debates. The history of linguistics offers a sense of
perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of change in theoretical
approach. It helps us to recognize that all changes in theory necessarily in
which some facts - some important facts - are lost (as noted in Swiggers
1990b). A clear understanding of the limitations of theories, and of linguists,
will make better scientists of all of us.
I certainly understand clearly some of the limitations of this book (and the
reader may find many more!). The most serious, I believe, is that in order to
consider the broadest range of cultural influences, I have been forced to rely
too heavily on secondary sources. I hope that future scholars will take this as a
starting point and delve into the primary sources in correspondence and in
legal and administrative affairs, sources which I have only been able to skim.
In order to provide future scholars with the best base, the bibliography in­
cludes the complete list of all books and articles I have consulted, whether or
not they were cited in the main text.
Every work of scholarship is a collaboration with scholars known and
unknown. Even when I have disagreed with previous scholars in this field, I
have learned from them, just as I hope that those who disagree with my con­
clusions will still find something useful in what I have said. I have benefited
most particularly from the input of a number of scholars who have taken the
time to comment upon earlier versions of this text. I must thank in particular
John Baker, Jean Blacker, Barbara Bowen, Karen Fresco, John Friedman,
Barbara Kaltz, Konrad Koerner, Serge Lusignan, Brian Merrilees, Samuel
Rosenberg, Vivian Salmon, Pierre Swiggers, and Richard Wakely. They have
saved me from many errors of fact and interpretation. All mistakes that remain
are of course my own.

I have also benefited from the tremendous cooperation of the Reference

Department and the Modern Languages Library at the University of Illinois
Library, and of Nancy Romero and Fred Nash of the Rare Book Library. This
research would not have been possible without the generous support the
University of Illinois Research Board, the facilities of the Language Learning
Laboratory at the University of Illinois, and the encouragement of my col­
leagues both at Western Kentucky University and at the University of Illinois.
Finally, my sincerest thanks go to my family: to my brother Robert
Kibbee and my sister Katherine Paterson, both of whom have supplied not
only unflagging support but also substantial help from their libraries in Ithaca
and Reading; to my children Meg and Brendan who have suffered my ab­
sences without plaint, and who have always cheered me as I emerged from my
study; to my wife Jo, to whom I dedicate this book as I have dedicated my life.

Urbana, Illinois
October 1990


The first materials produced for the teaching of French to English-speak­

ers date from the mid-13th century, almost 200 years after the Norman Con­
quest (1066). From that time on these pedagogical materials become more
numerous and more complete until the 15th century. After a flurry of gram­
matical writings (the Douait françois, the Liber donati, etc.), in the first quar­
ter of that century, no new teaching materials appear until the introduction of
printing in England in the last quarter of the century, and none of the printed
manuals really expand the genre until Palsgrave (1530). The dating of these
manuals invites an explanation of the interaction between their composition
and the range of use, both social and professional, of French in England during
the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
In fact, the linguistic relationships in England in the Middle Ages have
already been treated in a number of works, but never in a comprehensive
manner and all too often by authors who seem to have a professional or emo­
tional stake in under- or over-estimating the domination of French. The earliest
modern historians view the linguistic relationships in 'racial' terms, leading to
and then flowing from the view of Anglo-Norman England expressed in
Ivanhoe (1819) by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832):

Four generations had not sufficed to blend the hostile blood of the Normans and
Anglo-Saxons, or to unite by common language and mutual interests, two hostile
races, one of whom still felt the elation of triumph, while the other groaned under all
the consequences of defeat [...] French was the language of honour, of chivalry, and
even of justice, while the far more manly and expressive Anglo-Saxon was aban­
doned to the use of rustics and hinds, who knew no other [...]
[...] the great national distinctions betwixt them and their conquerors, the recol­
lection of what they had formerly been, and to what they had now been reduced,
continued, down to the reign of Edward the Third, to keep open the wounds which
the Conquest had inflicted, and to maintain a line of separation betwixt the descend­
ants of the victor Normans and the vanquished Anglo-Saxons. Ivanhoe, Chapter 1
(pp. 2-4 in the Lewis 1906 edition)

This tenor continues throughout the 19th century, even in those authors who
reject this view of English-French linguistic relationships (e.g., Clover 1888,
Freeman 1871-1876). Freeman characterizes the admixture of French vocab­
ulary into English as "the one result of the Norman Conquest which has been
purely evil" (Freeman 1871/V:547). Pollock and Maitland view the imposition
of Norman law and legal language as a "catastrophe" (1903:79). Twenty years
later, from an entirely different perspective, Vising states that French almost
completely replaced English as a vernacular. Citing a number of literary
references to the use of French, Vising claims that these

furnish a very strong proof of the complete dominance of the Anglo-French language
during the second half of the twelfth and most of the thirteenth century in nearly all
conditions of life, and of its penetration even into the lower strata of society. (Vising

He is supported in this contention by Smith and Meyer who push the time
frame forward into the 14th century, and conclude that

Peu s'en est fallu pourtant que l'idiome porté en Angleterre par les Normands de
Guillaume le Conquérant ne soit devenu la langue commune du Royaume uni. Si
l'effort si manifeste au XIIIe siècle et dans la première moitié du XIVe s'était pour­
suivi pendant une cinquantaine d'années, si l'effroyable guerre de Cent ans n'était
venue diminuer les relations entre la France et l'Angleterre, ou, en tout cas, en modi­
fier la nature, l'anglais, réduit déjà à l'état de patois, se serait éteint peu à peu. (Smith
& Meyer 1889:lvii)1

Subsequently, scholars have chipped away at these claims for Anglo-French,

often ignoring or underplaying the reservations expressed by Vising, Suggett
and Legge.2 More recent scholars have determined that the influence of French
was limited to those classes that could read, a minuscule part of English socie­
ty in the 12th century, and certainly still not half the population in the 14th.
Rothwell (1983) has rightly pointed out regional variations in the penetration
of Anglo-French as well. Even so, these assertions concerning the dominance
of Anglo-French seem to be controverted by the rapidity of its decline. Could
English have really been so weak, and then completely take over most of the

Meyer continues, in a show of national and linguistic chauvinism: "Les conséquences de ce

fait [...] eussent été incalculables, et il est à croire qu'elles eussent été profitables à l'humani­

Legge (1979) has attempted to reopen the debate, claiming that French was still a vernacular
in some quarters at the end of the 14th century. Ultimately, there is little disagreement, if one
keeps in mind all the qualifying statements inserted by the authors who claim to be on oppo­
site sides of the question.

functions of Anglo-French within a half century at the end of 14th and the
beginning of the 15th centuries?
Such problems of timing are also crucial to the discussion of the develop­
ment of instructional materials for French. How do the order of appearance
and the contents of the pedagogical materials reflect the purposes French
served in medieval and Renaissance England? If (as seems to be the case) few
Englishmen knew French at the beginning of the 14th century, why did those
parts of the pedagogical corpus which we deem most crucial (the grammar)
not appear until early in the 15th century?
Given the confused state of modern scholarship, a thorough review of all
the available evidence for the linguistic relationships between French and
English is in order. This documentation comes from a wide variety of sources:
direct commentary on linguistic matters, chronicles, legal and political docu­
ments, literature, personal correspondence, etc. The complexity of the problem
arises from the fact that both the medium and the content must be considered.
Documents may be written in French, English or Latin, but the original
language, oral or written, may have been one of the others. Moreover, one
cannot be content with remarking simply that all legal records are kept in
French, one must also study the quality of the French of those legal documents
to determine the native language of the writer. The survey of languages used,
and to what purposes they were used, must always be supplemented by a
consideration of the mastery exhibited of that language.
Such a survey promises to shed new light on the development of instruc­
tional materials for the teaching of French in England, and thus for the nature
of grammatical thought in this period. In this review of the evidence, I shall
divide the almost 600 years of French presence in medieval and Renaissance
England into five periods, corresponding to major changes in the status of
French in England:

Period I: From the marriage of Emma to Æthelred in 1004 to Henry II's marriage to Eleanor
of Aquitaine (1152);
Period II: From Henry's marriage (1152) to the Provisions of Oxford (1258);
Period III: From the Provisions of Oxford (1258) to the parliamentary statute that all govern­
mental and legal affairs be conducted in English (1362);
Period IV: From the statute of 1362 until the introduction of printing (1470s);
Period V: The Age of Printing, Humanism and Reformation.

These periods, often delimited here by political events, also correspond to

changes in the status of French and English, and in the nature of the pedagogi­
cal materials. Contrary to the accounts of later medieval chroniclers, the
Conquest itself seems to have had little direct influence on the status of the
vernacular languages in England. Outside of the highest level of the aristocra­
cy and the monasteries French made few inroads into everyday life. In Period

II, French profits from its international prestige and the literary patronage of
Eleanor of Aquitaine to develop a strong literary tradition among those people
who could read and write. Still, by the second half of this period knowledge of
French as a native language is definitely on the decline even among nobility of
Norman origin. In spite of this decline, though, there appears to be no
elaboration of an instructional program for French. Period III, the heyday of
French for both its use in the broadest spectrum of activities and for the devel­
opment of an instructional program, rather ironically coincides with the height
of anti-French sentiment, stretching from the banishment of Henry Ill's French
advisers to the early (triumphant) part of the Hundred Years War. Period IV
sees the decline of French as an official language and, at the same time, the
strongest period of organized French instruction in medieval England, as
witnessed by the schools of William of Kingsmill and Thomas Sampson. In
Period V, after a slow and uninspired start, the French teachers in England
discover the possibilities offered by the new technology of printing and trans­
form language instruction.
To sort out the linguistic relationships within this chronological frame­
work, I shall consider the following questions:

a) For what purposes was French necessary?

b) How many people spoke French? Who were the French speakers? What type of French did
they speak?
c) Who needed to learn French as a second language? How do the pedagogical materials
relate to these needs?

From these questions we shall attempt to trace the interaction between social
and political changes in Britain, which defined who needed to learn French,
and the development of the teaching materials and the linguistic method used
to teach that language. The need for instructional materials dates not from the
Conquest, nor from the flowering of Anglo-French literature a century after
the Conquest. Instead, the teaching of French arises in the second half of the
13th century from the combination of general prestige of French, the develop­
ment of centralized government, the creation of the legal profession, and the
expansion of the wool trade. It reaches its peak with the invasion of France in
the Hundred Years' War. These influences shape the curriculum and determine
the order of appearance as well as the nature of the teaching materials.



The Romantic vision of novelists like Scott, contrasting brave manly

Saxons with effeminate and haughty Normans, has too often colored the dis­
cussion of linguistic relations. Clover describes the situation after the conquest
in these terms:

The relationship which the two languages bore to each other during this fight for
mastery has been correctly compared to the relations existing between an imperious
master and a slave, who at first despises and hates his master, but afterwards becomes
so accustomed to his servile condition that he willingly remains under the control of
his former enemy, whose power and wealth he now overrates as much as he underes­
timates his own strength. (Clover 1888:4)

The historical and linguistic facts clearly demonstrate the absurdity of this
picture. In fact the Normans were no strangers to the English court, and once
they took it over for good, the Conquest had little linguistic impact. For politi­
cal reasons, the English language continued to serve as an official language,
albeit to a modest degree, even if the English barons were displaced or re­
placed. As we shall see, in the first period the reformation of Latin studies had
greater impact on the status of English than the invasion of French.

2.1 Official and unofficial uses of French

French is found in no official documents from this period, and English in
only a few. The vast majority of official business was recorded in Latin.
According to chroniclers from the early 12th century, William attempted to
learn English, but apparently never spoke it. Nonetheless, he clearly under­
stood the importance, at least early in his reign, of maintaining English tradi­
tions, including the English language. He claimed, after all, not to be a con­
queror, but rather the rightful heir to the throne. Therefore on Christmas day,
1066, his subjects acclaimed him king in both English and French, as William
of Poitiers recalls: "Protestan sunt hilarem consensum universi minime haesi-
6 PERIOD I (1000-1152)

tantes, ac si coelitus una mente unaque voce Anglorum voluntater quam facil-
lime Normanni consonuerunt" (cited in Shelly 1921:20).
In legal affairs, Latin was dominant, but English practices were respected.
One aspect of William's quest for legitimacy was his maintenance of the
English legal system. In a number of proceedings William appealed to native
Englishmen's knowledge of local legal customs, as when he called on Æthelric
to help decide a case between Lanfranc and Odo (Shelly 1921:52). 1 It is
noteworthy that the earliest English-French glossary we have, dating from the
early 12th century, is designed to teach French speakers the meanings of such
traditional English legal terms as sake (aver amerciament de cely qui a tort se
pleint ou a tort se defent) and sokne (aver franche curt de ses homes) (Forster
1902:207). 2 Of the 487 royal charters issued in the reigns of William I and
William II, none are in French, yet nineteen are in English alone and another
nine in English-Latin bilingual documents (Shelly 1921:84). Shelly interprets
this as evidence that the Norman officials addressed along with the English in
these royal documents must have understood English. Orderic Vitalis tells us
that English was used in the courts in a case in 1116:

Anglica lingua: That wat, min lavert god almightin that ic sege soth, respondebat.
Quod nos Latini dicimus: mi domine, scit deus omnipotens quiveritatem dici. (Cited in

Hyams (1981) argues that French was the main language of pleading at levels higher than
the hundred and shire courts:

[French] was surely appropriate for disputes between peers on an honour, the public
settlement of differences within a noble community. After the first generation or so of
the Norman settlement, this special linguistic usage probably struck men as conserva­
tive. The baronial classes, nevertheless 'remembered' their custom in French, because
there were no books at this stage. They naturally therefore argued their cases in the
same tongue. This is all the more likely in the large honours, whose suitors were
drawn from all over the Anglo-Norman lands. The argument surely applies equally to
honorial disputes in the curia regis between royal tenants-in-chief. The continued
maintenance of the French element in the royal court is generally admitted. In general,
French was the best medium for the showy, epic plea, at the very important border
between law and literature. (Hyams 1981:91-92)

Hyams ignores, in this view, the apparently continuous use of Anglo-Saxon precedent in the
courts at all levels. Hyams seems to think he is correcting some other perception of the lin­
guistic evidence of the period. In fact, nothing could be more conventional, except for his
assertion that French is more 'showy'.
A similar document appears in the mid-13 th century (edited in Wright & Halliwell 1841:33).
This continuing interest in English legal practices into the reign of Henry III contradicts the
conclusions of Pollock & Maitland concerning the fate of Anglo-Saxon law. They would see
the imposition of the law of novel disseisin (1166) as the end of Anglo-Saxon influence on the
legal traditions of the island. This interest in Old English law terminology may relate to old
land claims.

Legge 1941:165)

In the legal affairs of Period I, English is a distant second to Latin, but still
ahead of French.
It is not French that replaces English in these legal affairs, but rather
Latin. Among the first acts of the Norman abbots and bishops was the refor­
mation of the English church, including the improvement of Latin instruction.
At the time of the Conquest the English church was in a period of decay, a
period in which even the highest ranking clergy (such as Stigand, Archbishop
of Canterbury) were described by later chroniclers as illiterate. The language
of the church was, of course, Latin, and once the level of Latin had been
improved in England, the church and the government could use it more exclu­
sively for official purposes. Priests were encouraged to preach in the language
most accessible to the people. There is no evidence of pressure to use French
in homilies.
Even with the wholesale importation of church leadership and an infusion
of French monks and priests, we must keep in mind that the clergy never
constituted more than 2% of the total population (Berndt 1965:149). English
abbots and bishops tended to be replaced by Normans, until the process was
complete by the end of the 11th century (Berndt 1965:149). The lower levels
of the clergy probably remained English, except in some orders of monks of
continental origin.3 Norman clerics were called on to fill abandoned monaster­
ies and convents, as when Roger de Montgomery brought monks from Cluny
to the abandoned nunnery of Wenlock (Shelly 1921:57).
The harshest blow for the English faithful was not the loss of their lan­
guage in Church affairs, but the loss of their saints (for more detail see Rid-
yard 1986). The Norman leadership of the English church called into question
the miracles of many of the saints venerated in England, at least until these
same saints performed miracles for the Normans. After that we find a number
of French-language lives of pre-conquest English saints (e.g., Denis Piramus'
life of St. Edmund, composed ca. 1170).
The language of literature was overwhelmingly Latin. There are no liter­
ary texts in either vernacular language from the reigns of William I and Wil­
liam II. In the first half of the 12th century, in the reigns of Henry I (1100-
1135) and Stephen (1135-1154) few authors write in either vernacular.
Wilson (1943:37-39) provides a summary of English-language and French-
language literary production in England, evidence which clearly contradicts
the notion that English was totally supplanted as the literary language of Brit­
ain. Under Henry I (1100-1135) and Stephen (1135-1154) a few French works

Iglesias-Rábade (1987:102) has surely overstated the case when he claims that English was
totally supplanted in the monasteries by the mid-12th century.
8 PERIOD I (1000-1152)

appear (Navigatio Sancti Brendani, didactic poetry by Philippe de Thaon and

Sanson de Nanteuil, Gaimar's chronicle translated from the English, Estorie
des Engleis, and finally, the Jeu d'Adam; for more details see Legge 1963:7-
43). As for English literature at this time, we can cite Layamon's Brut, The
Owl and the Nightingale and the Ancren Riwle (see Wilson 1939). These were
destined for a noble audience, and the fact that many of the Anglo-Norman
works of this period were translations of English originals (like Gaimar's
work) points to a survival of the English tradition as well as to a knowledge of
English among French-born aristocrats in England. Wilson concludes
(1943:40) that French makes its gains in the 12th century in England not at the
expense of English but rather at the expense of Latin.

2.2 Who spoke French?

2.2.1 The Royal Court

Emma of Normandy married Æthelred in 1004 (or perhaps 1002, accord­

ing to the DNB), introducing the first significant French influence on English
affairs (see Arnould 1958 for full treatment of pre-conquest contacts). Her son,
Edward the Confessor moved to Normandy at the age of 9, when his father
died and his mother remarried (to Canute, second son of the King of
Denmark). Thereafter Edward was raised in Normandy, but he retained some
proficiency in English. On a hunting trip, Edward is said to have called out in
English to a countryman who was in his way (Clover 1888:25). Edward appar­
ently dealt with his subjects without an interpreter. In England, Edward is said
to have given preferential treatment to his Norman cousins, although he owed
his succession to the English earl Godwin. A dispute between Eustace de
Boulogne and the citizens of Dover (within Godwin's earldom), led to God­
win's exile and even stronger Nonnan presence at the court, at least temporari­
ly. William, setting the stage for a conquest still 15 years off, came to visit his
cousin Edward during Godwin's exile. Upon Godwin's return the next year,
many of these Norman counselors fled. From the flight of the Normans in
1052 until Edward's death in 1066, Norman presence at the court was not
strong, although at Edward's deathbed he was attended by Robert FitzWimark.
However, the number of Normans in England was sufficient to merit special
mention in the laws of William I, who refers to "omnis Francigena qui, tem­
pore regis Eadwardi propinqui mei, fuit in Anglia" (cited in Wilson 1939:9).

2.2.2 The Aristocracy

William of Malmesbury's statement that no Englishman was earl, bishop

or abbot, which seems to corroborate the plaint of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
that "[William] gave away everyman's land" (cited in Shelly 1921:25), must

be tested by the facts as we know them. The invasion of England was not a
national migration, but rather a military conquest. While some (e.g., Vising
and most recently Iglesias-Rábade) have postulated the movement of some
200,000 Normans to England during the reign of William I, Berndt (and with
him most other modern scholars) has placed the number of invaders at about
5,000 men, and the total number of immigrants at no more than 20,000 (in­
cluding the army). The knight service of Normandy a century later was less
than a thousand men, so the higher estimates of troop strength seem far out of
line with reality. The lists of French participants in the battle of Hastings such
as the Battle Abbey lists include no more than 500 names (Smyser 1948), and
some of these were later additions to elevate the status of more recent arrivals.
The population of England at this time has been estimated at 1.5 million,
making the Norman portion of the population roughly 1.3% (Berndt 1965). In
1072 one of twelve earls was English (Waltheof of Northumberland). In 1070
two of fourteen bishops were English (Wulfstan of Worcester and Siward of
Rochester). In 1072, seven of the twelve abbots who signed the Canterbury
Privilegium were English. In the Domesday Book, there are large English
landholders, some of whom have Norman tenants (Shelly 1921:32-3).4 In the
royal charters of William I clear references are made to English sheriffs (e.g.,
Swegn, sheriff of Essex) and English thanes and barons in Kent (Shelly
1921:33). Not only were English sheriffs sometimes able to retain their posi­
tions, but in some instances English sheriffs succeeded Norman sheriffs (see
Green 1982).
In the first century after the Conquest, many of the larger landholders in
England were absentee landlords, maintaining their homes in Normandy and
only rarely visiting their English territories (Berndt 1965:152). In 1086 the 190
lay barons of England, of whom only five or six were of English origin, held
some 40% of the wealth of the land. Many of these contracted their marriages
on the continent and continued to reside there. The lower gentry, however,
along with the middle and lower classes that had come from France were
quickly assimilated, often through intermarriage (as we see from the parentage
of Orderic Vitalis, whose father was a native of Orléans and whose mother
was English). As proof of rapid assimilation, Shelly (1921:44) cites numerous
instances in which the term 'Angli' is applied indiscriminately to Norman and
English residents of the island.
At the higher levels of society, there seems to have been no compunction
about mixing with the native English stock, as we see from the parents of

Shelly (1921:78) recounts the story of a wealthy English landowner, Ligulf, who had given
two bells to the new monastery at St. Albans (governed by a Norman abbot). Upon hearing
the bells for the first time, Ligulf is quoted as saying, in English, "How sweetly bleat my goats
and sheep".
10 PERIOD I (1000-1152)

Orderic Vitalis, one of our principal sources for information about this period.
Orderic reports that Robert d'Oily and Miles Crispin married daughters of
Wigod of Wallingford (cited in Shelly 1921:61), while at the same time report­
ing less welcome relationships, claiming that many English women entered
convents to avoid being dishonored (cited in Shelly 1921:26).

2.2.3 The Lower Classes

Berndt (1965:148, citing the Cambridge Medieval History, V, 513) claims

that the peasantry made up 85-90% of this Anglo-Saxon population. Although
the Domesday Book reveals that some Normans were farming, and a portion of
those farming as tenants for English landholders, the number of farmers listed
as francige was less than 0.35% of the total in nine West Midland shires
(Berndt 1965:148). In the countryside, and this was an overwhelmingly rural
society, there was little Norman presence, and therefore little reason to know
or to use French.
As for the skilled tradesmen and the merchants, we have no firm informa­
tion on the ethnic breakdown of these segments of the population, but Shelly
(1921:72) alludes to the mass importation of French stonemasons to construct
the castles, churches and monasteries. The numbers of French natives reported
living in the major cities do not indicate total French domination of
commercial activity. Furthermore, we see in the vocabulary of the building
trades, as reported in Rothwell 1983 (citing Salzman 1967) a north-south divi­
sion (described below). In another piece of linguistic evidence, one may
wonder why, if there was such an influx of Norman craftsmen at this time,
there are no words relating to crafts taken into English from Norman French.
The first attested use of mason in an English text is from 1165 (Mackenzie

2.2.4 Geographic distribution of the French-speaking population

The Normans were never more than a minute part of the rural population,
and in the towns they never constituted a majority. In some towns, novi burgi
sprung up, to house the Norman soldiers and the Norman craftsmen who came
later. In 1086, according to the Domesday Book, 160 francigenae lived in
Norwich, and 145 owned houses in York. Although Berndt does not consider
geographic distribution (except for a rural/urban division), Rothwell (1983)
offers interesting evidence for a northeast to southwest line dividing those
areas where French influence penetrated more deeply and for a longer time
(south of this line) from those areas in which French had little impact (north of
the line). Shelly (1921:33) notes that in the Domesday Book there is consider­
able regional variation in the numbers of English and Norman landholders. He
speculates that the death, in defense of Harold, of many of the major landhold-

ers in the southeastern counties led to a stronger Norman influence there than
we find in the more peripheral areas (Devonshire, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Not­
tinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire). The geographic proximity to Norman­
dy must also have been a factor.

2.3 Language and the Teaching of French

The net linguistic effect of the Norman arrival in England from Emma
through the reigns of the two Williams appears to have been negligible.
Mackenzie (1939, II:50-51) notes little influence of French upon the vocabu­
lary of English texts (mostly chronicles) dating from this period. From the
decades just preceding the Conquest, a few of the words traditionally attribut­
ed to Norman influence are possibly of Latin origin ('May' [the month], 'cat',
'planet', etc.). However, Mackenzie does attribute the introduction of canch-
eler ('chancellor') and castel (in its modern sense) to the Norman presence at
Edward's court. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has several gallicisms, mostly
relating to royal administration (e.g., serfise (1070), prisun (1076) and crown
During the period immediately preceding and following the Conquest,
therefore, it is clear that the impact of the French language was limited to a
small (albeit highly influential) portion of the population. Knowledge of
English language and English customs is of some advantage, particularly in
the first ten years of the reign of William I. The English language, although
not nearly as widely used as Latin in written documents, was still more widely
used in these spheres than French under William I and William II, with use of
French as a literary language increasing in the first half of the 12th century.
As far as instruction of French is concerned, we have no texts dating from
this period, apart from the short English-French legal glossary (edited by
Förster 1902).5 The practice of the highest levels of society was to send their
children as pages and maids-in-waiting to the homes of their cousins, continen­
tal or insular, 6 or to Norman monasteries (as we see in the case of Orderic

There had been grammars and lexicons of English written in the 8-10th centuries. I can
detect no influence of these efforts on the development of French grammars later in the
Middle Ages. Latin had a much weaker hold on insular literary production than on continen­
tal before the Conquest (see Arnould 1958).
See Legge's 1979 response to Rothwell's comparison of the children of the conquerors to
the children of new immigrants to England in the 20th century:

[immigrant children] go to school and go into shops and public transport. Baronial
children did not. Moreover, at seven boys and girls were sent to other households to
be fostered and to act as pages and maids-in-waiting to their hosts, mixing with the
12 PERIOD I (1000-1152)

Vitalis). There the children could practice their French in a natural setting.
Shelly (1921:76) claims that the relatively few references to translators and
interpreters must mean that many people were bilingual. Citing intermarriage
and frequent travel he comes to the highly questionable conclusion that "in the
middle ages the acquisition of languages seems to have been easier than it is
now". Equally questionable is Berndt's assertion (1965:178) that "convent
schools [...] almost certainly no longer confined themselves to teaching Latin
only but gave French a certain place in their instruction". Again we must insist
on the concrete evidence. Even if these claims were true, they would only
affect one or two percent of the population. However, we have no evidence of
any formal instruction in French in any school. We cannot even safely assume,
from the changes reported in the mid-14th century, that the language of in­
struction at the beginner's level was French (in spite of Trevisa, see below, pp.
55-56). In any event, we have no proof that French was ever formally taught
during Period I in England.

2.4 Conclusions, Period I

The Normans first established themselves at the English court more than a
half-century before the Conquest. When, in 1066, William claimed the throne


knights and ladies and learning to read and write from the chaplain. (Legge 1979:109)

Still, one must not confuse baronial children with all medieval children, even all children of
Norman parentage. This type of upbringing is typical of only a very small percentage even of
Norman children. On the other hand, Legge is quite right to insist that the social pressures
encouraging assimilation of poor immigrants in the 20th century cannot be equated to those
bearing on the children of the conquerors in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Orme provides interesting documentation for the continuation into the 16th century of the
practice of sending children abroad for language training. This time, as one might expect
from the changes in English society, the children of merchants were exchanged:

The continuance of schooling in the town is suggested by an interesting document now

in the departmental archives of Seine-Inférieure in France. This is an agreement in
French, dated 6 February 1526, between Richard Savery and Michel Vimont, mer­
chants respectively of Totnes and Rouen. Savery belonged to one of the wealthiest
families of Totnes and was mayor in 1537 and 1544. The agreement provided that he
should receive Vimont's son Nicolas, aged fourteen, for one year, give him board and
lodging, and send him to school. In return Vimont was to take Savery's apprentice
Thomas Russell, aged eighteen, and show him how 'to deal and traffic in merchan­
dise'. In short, the two merchants, who were doubtless both involved in the same
trade, exchanged members of their families so that each could gain experience of life
on the other side of the Channel. (Orme 1976:107)

as a rightful heir to Edward he needed to maintain English practice as a way of

legitimizing his claim. By some accounts he tried to learn English, and he
definitely adapted to English legal custom. It was the reform of clerical educa­
tion, insisting on higher standards of Latin, that led to the replacement of
English by the universal language of the West in government and politics.
While French speakers took over key functions in all areas in the decades
following William's invasion, they never constituted more than a small minori­
ty of the population, and we have no reason to suspect that the English-speak­
ing majority ever learned French, or that any portion of the population was
taught French in a formal setting. No instructional materials for the teaching of
French go back as far as Period I for written French still had no official



This period is marked by several new waves of immigration, first with the
marriage of Henry II to Eleanor of Aquitaine (1152), later with the marriage of
Henry III to Eleanor of Provence. In between these two marriages, the first
fortunate (at least for the cultural side of English life), the second catastrophic,
came two momentous political events, the seizure of Norman holdings on the
continent by the French king Philippe Auguste (1204) and the issuing of the
Magna Carta (1215). All of these events were to play a major role in the
linguistic relationships between French and English.

3.1 Official and unofficial uses of French

In the reign of Henry II, some important changes took place. First, the
king's marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine brought a new influx of French
courtiers just at the time when the descendants of the first Norman French
invasion were becoming totally assimilated. Furthermore, her patronage of
French literary production and the prestige of the new literary forms evolving
in France, the romance and lyric poetry, encouraged the use of French in the
literate segments of society.1 The king himself was more French than English,

The choice of French as the language of expression of these ideas may have been another
way of establishing social barriers between the highest levels of the aristocracy and the lower
orders. A number of these works have been reinterpreted in recent years to show the use of
these works for political and social purposes (see for example Whatley 1983, Dannenbaum
[Crane] 1982, and Morgan 1982). The choice of Anglo-French rather than continental French
reflects further a split between the English-born barony and the Angevine court (Crane 1986).
For the political motivation of literature see also Henry II's legal claim to Brittany (under
attack in the 1160s) and the exchange of letters between Arthur and Henry in the Draco

spending the first nine years of his life in Normandy, and significant portions of
his reign battling his brothers in France.
The second major change, and this proves to be more significant in the
long run both for general linguistic relations and for the development of
French language pedagogy in England, is the development of a uniform na­
tion-wide legal system under the direction of the king's court. The law of
"Novel Disseisin" (1166), granting to each freeman the right of appeal to a
royal court, at its highest level a French-speaking court, was the first step
towards the victory of French in legal and political circles (Pollock & Maitland
1903:84 ff.). While English was able to recover in political domains within a
century, the language of the English courts remained French (at least official­
ly) until 1731. From the point of view of language teaching, 1166 is an equally
capital date, for this is the first step towards a professional class of pleaders,
who must speak and write French. However, this development is still a century
away, and the immediate effect is not nearly so dramatic as Pollock and Mait­
land would have us believe. Woodbine (1943:427-8) casts considerable doubt
on the real linguistic effect of this law, noting that most of the appeals made
were dealt with at the lower end of the court system, where English was most
likely still equal with French.
The linguistic importance of the new law, therefore, was not immediately
apparent. We have few French legal documents from this period. Richardson
(1940 and 1942) notes a single Anglo-French sheriff's inquest from the 12th
century. The first official letter written in French dates from 1215,2 as does the
first deed written in French, a Jewish "Starr" (bond for debt). Latin continued
to be the language of the law, and the primary linguistic effect of the reform of
the legal system was to spur the development and importation of texts for the
teaching of Latin. Miner (1961) notes that

most of the grammatical material circulating in England in the later middle ages
dates from a period roughly comprised between 1150 and 1275. Moreover, the
manuscripts clearly show that much of the work of Donatus and Priscian is brought
to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries through this later group of writers, with
Helias serving as the bridge between them. (Miner 1961:13)

Perhaps the lack of new work for Latin instruction after 1275 reflects the
change in legal language from Latin to French, for the new instructional mate-

Normannicus as described in Day 1985.
The second letter written in French does not appear until 1256. Correspondence in French
was not widespread until the end of the 13th century.
16 PERIOD II (1152-1258)

rials developed from that point on are for the instruction of French.
In the reign of Henry III (1216-1272) other evidence points to a continu­
ing Anglo-Saxon influence on the law, if not on the official legal language.
Clover (1888:46-7) observes that Latin terms used in a royal charter to the
monks of Colchester are sometimes accompanied by English equivalents (e.g.,
friîhsokne). Furthermore, Wright has edited a short English/Anglo-French
legal glossary from the mid-13th century (see above, p. 6). As further evidence
of the continuing presence of English in the courts, Berndt (1965:160) reports
that in a trial concerning the lands of the Abbot of Growland (1191) one of the
witnesses (described as "not of the knightly class") did not know how to speak
French. Finally, can we not conclude from the elaborate legal play depicted in
the Middle English poem The Owl and the Nightingale3 (written towards the
end of the 12th or beginning of the 13th century) that English continued to
play a significant role in the courts?
In political life, the loss of the Norman lands on the continent in 1204
threatened to sever the ties that bound the increasingly anglicized nobility to
the continent. However, the evidence is not as one-sided as Berndt (1976:132-
3) would have us believe. On the one hand, the barons turned down the king's
appeals for an attempted reconquest of these holdings on several occasions

Wilson (1939:160) provides the following description of the legal procedure in The Owl and
the Nightingale:

The dispute in The Owl and the modelled on the form of a twelfth-
century law-suit and the authour consistently uses legal terminology. The nightingale,
as plaintiff, begins by stating the charge against the owl, bringing forward as confirma­
tory evidence certain proverbs ascribed to Alfred. As required by contemporary legal
custom, the owl denies the charge and declares her willingness to accept trial by battle.
Since this is not accepted she continues and also cites the proverbs of Alfred in her
defence, and also claims the right of showing cause why the action should proceed no
further by charging the nightingale with various misdemeanours. The plaintiff defends
herself against these charges and the case tends to degenerate into a mere exchange of
abuse, and is probably no further from realism on that account. Each attempts, by
angering the other, to trap her into a mistake in pleading. The owl tries to show that the
whole charge is due to malice and so cannot legally stand, whilst the nightingale
claims that the owl, by boasting of her own disgrace, has lost the case. This claim
seems to be endorsed by the other birds and the dispute then ends.

One point of interest is that each participant pleads for herself, thus showing that the idea of
representation by counsel is not yet customary. This change in courtroom procedure takes
place quite quickly in the mid-13th century. Another interesting detail is the automatic request
for trial by battle. This was one of the objects of Henry II's reforms. Might not the choice of
language and the choice of legal procedure reflect English conservative reaction to a French-
born king's reforms?

(1205, 1213, 1242). On the other hand, when the barons were upset by the
king's attempts to annul the provisions of the Magna Carta, they called on the
French king (Philippe Auguste) to help overthrow John. Even if the English
barons were now "purely English landholders with no interests at stake in
France" (McKechnie, cited in Berndt 1976:132), they still retained a cultural
allegiance with France which was just as important for the linguistic relation­
ships between the vernaculars as the possession of cross-channel properties.
The Magna Carta itself was written in Latin, but a French translation
quickly appeared (see Holt 1974). Whether an Englishman or a Frenchman
translated the document is a matter of some debate. Roth well (1976) is sure
that it is the work of an Englishman, and uses this assumption as evidence that
French was already a learned (second) language in the first quarter of the 13th
century, even among the nobility:

The task of translation [of the Magna Carta] would probably have been carried out by
an Englishman for whom French was not a vernacular but rather an acquired skill
that facilitated for him and his like entry into a variety of administrative offices
anywhere in the country. (Rothwell 1976:455)

Holt is also sure that the translation was carried out in England, specifically in
Hampshire, because of the texts with which it is grouped in the cartulary of
Pont-Audemer. However, the lack of typical Anglo-French characteristics and
a number of mistakes in the place names (e.g., Runnymede > Roueninkmede),
might lead one to conclude otherwise. This Clanchy does, claiming that the
very fact that it is written in French is an indication that it could not have been
composed in England. An English scribe would find this too informal a lan­
guage for such an important legal document. Clanchy decides that:

For this scribe and his fellows in Normandy, which was now under the rule of the
French crown, the charter had curiosity value only, so that it did not matter if it were
expressed in a form which lacked the fullest legal authority. (1979:170-171)

Perhaps this was a translation effected in France for the francophile English
barons who were seeking support on the continent to overthrow John. In any
case, there is no evidence from this period that knowledge of French would
"facilitate entry into a variety of administrative offices", as claimed by Roth-
well, for the next political documents to appear in French are the sententia
lata, of 1255 (which were also translated into English at the same time).
Perhaps, then, the act of Novel Disseisin and compilations of English law
such as the Leis Willelme (ca. 1150; see Wüest 1969) were more important for
the prestige they accorded to the French language than for the immediate
consequences in the language of the law. The combination of the queen's
patronage and the general prestige of French led to rapid growth of Anglo-
18 PERIOD II (1152-1258)

French literary output. The 120 years between the accession of Henry II and the
death of Henry III are the richest period of Anglo-French literary production,
including the lais of Marie de France, Tristan, and many saints' lives. Some
recent articles (e.g., Dannenbaum 1982 and Morgan 1982) have pursued the
theme of the relationship between the development of Anglo-French literature
and the establishment of feudal society in England. These articles concentrate
on the thematic evidence, but does not the choice of Anglo-French already
indicate a linguistic component to the imposition of strong central authority in
12th-century England?
There is a continuing English-language literary tradition at this time, but it
is far less prolific and far less varied than its French counterpart. Later in this
period it shows clear evidence of French influence, as in the switch from allit­
erative to rhymed verse. Much of what remains is religious in nature, long
poems on the vices and virtues, the Ancren Riwle, etc., but there are excep­
tions, such as The Owl and the Nightingale and Layamon's Brut.
Anglo-French literary production develops during this period a significant
split, reflecting the gap between the Angevin court and the other segments of
the nobility which maintained an interest in French (Crane 1986). Crane has
separated Anglo-French works (i.e., texts reflecting insular dialectal features)
from the French works composed or copied in England by continental authors,
not only on linguistic but also on thematic grounds. The Anglo-French works
demonstrate a different attitude toward the nation, toward religion, and toward
courtly love. They are translated quickly into English, for they have a national
appeal to a barony that senses itself more and more English, particularly in the
face of new waves of immigrants from the continent. Continental French
works brought over with the entourage of Eleanor of Aquitaine (for example)
were not as likely to be translated into English. The English-born barony is
interested enough in French to provide an audience for Anglo-French litera­
ture, but has already developed an independence from continental French
culture which is reflected both by language and by theme.
Anglo-French didactic works, mostly translations of Latin works, make
their appearance in the first half of the 13th century, following the decrees of
the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and the Council of Oxford (1222). These
councils, which encouraged the use of the vernacular for the religious instruc­
tion of the laity, inspired a number of works in Anglo-French, which later
(towards the end of the 13th century and through the 14th century) made their
way into English. (Legge (1963:5-6) would see in the preference for French
versions of didactic works a proof of the penetration of French into all levels
of society.) In the first half of the 13th century Robert Gretham wrote the
Merur, and perhaps the Corset. Around 1230, the first book of the De Imagine
Mundi was translated into French as La petite philosophie. A question-and-
answer introduction to religion, the Elucidiarium, appears at about the same

Concurrently, Church authorities encourage the use of the vernacular in

preaching. Samson, abbot of Bury St. Edmund's from 1182 to 1211, preferred
that his monks preach in French, or better yet, in English:

Abbas vero [...] colores rethoricos et phaleras verborum et exquisitas sentencias in

sermone dampnabat, dicens quod in multis ecclesiis fit sermo in conventu Gallice vel
pocius Anglice, ut morum fieret edificacio, non literature ostensio. (Cited in Roth-
well 1978:1080)

Samson's own English, however, marked by a strong northern accent, was

difficult for the locals to follow.
Thus in Period II, French makes its first appearance in the legal and politi­
cal realms, an area it was soon to dominate. In literature, French clearly has the
upper hand, although English is far from dead. In the Church, French and
English, although far behind Latin, make gains, with both developing strong
traditions in didactic literature.

3.2 Who spoke French?

To support claims for the deep penetration of French into all classes of
English society during this period, Vising (1923:14-15) cites a number of liter­
ary passages in which clerc et lai and li grant, li mien, e li mendre are de­
scribed as the beneficiaries of translations from Latin (and from English) into
French. Rothwell disputes these claims, interpreting these expressions as
synonyms for "everyone" (and specifically, "everyone who is well educated")
(Rothwell 1978:1077-80).4 Instead, Rothwell asserts, the evidence points to an
anglicization of the Norman gentry, with the classes below that remaining as
English as ever.

3.2.1 The Aristocracy

The Dialogus de Scaccario (1176-77) states that the judicial distinction

between Normans and English, is impossible to maintain late in the 12th
century because the two peoples have become so thoroughly mixed. Clark
(1978:223) points out that Gaimar's French-language version of the Conquest,

Clanchy (1979:177-181) offers another explanation of the pairing of clerc et lai. By this
time, he claims, clericus had come to mean 'literate', and laicus 'illiterate'. If this is the case,
though, why would one need to translate for the literate, since literate meant specifically
'literate in Latin'? Another piece of evidence against Clanchy's interpretation is found in a
15th-century text to teach Latin. This begins with the question "Es tu clericus?", to which the
response given is "Non sum clericus sed sum aliqualiter litteratus (Miner 1961:5).
20 PERIOD II (1152-1258)

based on an English source and therefore from an English point of view, may
represent some identification of the descendants of the first waves of immi­
grants with their island home, particularly in the face of new waves of immi­
gration. This kind of mixed identification can only have been furthered by the
number of mixed marriages, as witnessed by the chroniclers many of whom
are of mixed parentage (William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, Order-
ic Vitalis; Clark 1978 provides numerous other examples). 5 We have the
testimony of the Dialogus de Scaccario, composed ca. 1176-77, that it was
impossible to maintain the juridical distinctions between Normans and Anglo-
Saxons required for the levying of fines in murder cases because the two races
had blended completely:

set iam cohabitantibus Anglicis et Normannis et alterutrum uxores ducentibus vel

nubentibus, sic permixte sunt nationes ut vix decerni possit hodie, de liberis loquor,
quis Anglicus quis Normannus sit genere. (Cited in Rothwell 1978:1085, from the
Johnson edition of 1950, p. 53)

As a result, all murders of free men were subject to the higher fine previously
imposed only for Norman victims. As Clark puts it, this "implies that all free-
born English people had come to be esteemed 'honorary Normans'"
(1978:225). Contradictory evidence comes from a testimonial issued in 1143
by Miles, Earl of Hereford (cited in Clanchy 1979:67):

Miles earl of Hereford to all his friends, French and English, of England and of
Wales, greeting [...] (emphasis added)

If the nations were completely assimilated the distinction between French and
English residents of the island would seem unnecessary.
In fact, all the other evidence available supports the claim that English
was at the very least known by the aristocracy, and sometimes to the exclusion
of French. Legge (1979) cites the romance Boeve de Raumtone (composed ca.
1160), in which the lady of the house addresses a servant in English:

A tauntes estes vous la dame venaunt de son polais

The degree of assimilation has been called into question in Legge 1979. Legge rejects
Rothwell's comparison of the children of the conquerors to the children of 20th-century
immigrants to England (see above, p. 11, Chap. 2, note 6). What seems a serious disagree­
ment can be resolved if one takes into account the adjective "baronial". If the Conqueror
brought with him some 5,000 men, and double or triple that number came across the channel
during his reign, no more than several hundred, at the outside perhaps a thousand, would have
been at this level of society. The rest would have been in daily commerce with the Anglo-
Saxon population.

Ele fu bien vestue de une paile Gregeis,

Les boucles de ses soulers sunt d'orfreiss.
Mult fu bele la feme, mes quer out pugneis.
Sabot la dame apele, si li dist en Engleis,
'Ou est Boefs mun fis, le fin maveis?'
(Cited in Legge 1979:110-111; emphasis added)

Odo, a priest of continental origin, had Brichtiva (Beohrtgifu) mind his chil­
dren, and many royal servants (and mistresses) were native English speakers
(Clark 1978:230). Peter of Blois (writing ca. 1190-1200) admits that he has
trouble expressing himself in English, but perhaps it is significant that he sees
this as a problem (Richter 1975:72). English is described as the patria lingua
of Hugh de Morville, one of the assassins of Thomas à Becket (Clover
1888:53). A frequently cited story in the history of English and French also
concerns Hugh de Morville. His wife, Helewisia, spurning the attentions of an
English suitor, Liulf, decided to entrap him by pretending to help him murder
her husband. When Liulf approached her husband, his knife concealed, she
supposedly cried out, in English, "Huge de Moreville, ware, ware, ware, Li-
thulf heth his sword adrage". According to Wilson (1943:53) this is proof that
the couple regularly spoke English between themselves. For Legge (1979:111)
this is irrelevant, the real point being that she wanted to let Liulf know, by
using the only language he understood, that she had betrayed him. Still, if she
was entertaining a monolingual anglophone, one would have to assume that
she was quite conversant in that language. At the highest level of the aristocra­
cy, King Richard (Coeur de Lion), referring to King Isaac of Cyprus, is report­
ed to have cried out "Odele, is this a fole Breton?" (Clover 1888:45).
The English-born nobility, even if of Norman descent, had quickly
learned the idiom of the people. Late in this period, however, came several
new waves of French courtiers, particularly with the marriage of Henry III to
Eleanor of Provence. These new arrivals were not well-received by the old
guard, and contributed to Henry's problems, culminating in the Barons' War.
Nonetheless, their presence helped to revitalize the French language at the
upper levels of the aristocracy (and in the legal system) just at the point when
it may well have been falling into disuse.

3.2.2 The Clergy

As we have seen, the use of English in preaching was encouraged by the

church administration, and knowledge of English was considered an advantage
at all levels of the clergy. In one instance at least, the Abbot Samson of Bury
St. Edmund's rewarded one of his tenants in spite of (or perhaps because of)
the farmer's ignorance of French:
22 PERIOD II (1152-1258)

Unum solum manerium de Trop carta sua confirmavit cuidam Anglico natione, glebe
ascripto, de cuius fidelitate pienius confidebat quia bonus agrícola erat, et quia nes-
ciebat loqui Gallice. (Cited in Rothwell 1978:1081)6

A further confirmation of this attitude is the reproach aimed at Bishop Hugo of

Durham, who spoke only French, for his inability to communicate with the
At the same time, knowledge of French was clearly a boon to the ambi­
tious clergyman. Several saints' lives from the second half of the 12th century
relate a miracle of tongues, in which a saint is suddenly able to speak French
(see Short 1980).7 In the Life of St. Godric, written by Reginald of Durham ca.
1182, Godric is a hermit who, although widely traveled (he had visited the
Holy Land and France in his earlier career as a merchant), apparently remained
a monolingual anglophone. All French visitors need an interpreter. Miraculous
intervention first permits him to converse in Latin, and later in French.8 In the
life of John of Beverley, a miracle restores to a deaf-mute not only the power
of speech, but the power to speak in French, a language he did not know

Accidit quod quidam iuvenis [...] adfuit, qui mutus et surdus a sua nativitate fuerat.
Cumque hymnus Angelicus, scilicet Gloria in excelsis, inciperetur, mox mutus,
eminus cum laïcis consistens, verba protulit; et qui nunquam antea loqui potuerat,
iam tam Anglice quam Francice loqui incipiebat, cunctis quia stabant obstupescenti-
bus et pie admirantibus. (Cited in Short 1980:477)

In the life of Wulfric of Haselbury, the parish priest, a certain Brihtric, com­
plains to Wulfric that although he (Brihtric) has been Wulfric's friend for

Bodtker (1930) provides interesting background on Samson's choice, and points out that the
Abbot was willing to select French speakers as well. See also the references to Samson and
his linguistic capabilities in Clanchy 1979.

Richter (1975:73) cites a similar case of miraculous language acquisition by the Welsh
anchorite Wecheleu, to whom God granted only a partial knowledge of Latin, for he could
speak only in infinitives.
Clanchy (1979:189-90) offers another interpretation of the legend of St. Godric. Clanchy
wonders how, if Godric was laicus, illiteratus and idiota (to use the words of Reginald of
Durham), he could have understood the book of psalms presented to him by a kinsman in
Carlisle when he was about 40 years of age. The biographer could think of no explanation
other than a miracle for Godric's ability to converse intelligently in Latin and French. Indeed,
it was widely assumed that Latin could only be learned through formal study, whereas ver­
nacular languages were acquired through practice. Clanchy credits Godric's linguistic skills to
"the effects of travel on an intelligent man".

many years, the saint has never granted him the power to speak in French
(Short 1980:477-8).
Vising (1923:14) claims that the Constitutions of Clarendon (1164),
which barred sons of villeins (mostly Anglo-Saxon) from becoming priests,
further consolidated the position of French in the Church. However, as we
have already seen through the evidence of the Dialogus de Scaccario, the
English/Norman distinctions had largely ceased to be useful by this time, so it
is unclear that this in fact encouraged the spread of French in the Church.
Furthermore, the Constitutions of Clarendon only require that the sons of vil­
leins have their lord's permission before going off to the priesthood. Legge
(1941) claims that the Church, and specifically the monastery schools, were
the prime agents of a linguistic shift from English to French:

The substitution of French for English was brought about by the Church. The con­
quest of England by William's army was followed by a second wave of clerks,
monks and artizans who consolidated the victory to some purpose. All education was
in the hands of the Church, and naturally the Norman monks did not bother to learn
English; they made such Englishmen as joined them learn French [...] Boys who had
entered monastery schools when very young and received all their education through
French almost forgot their English altogether. (Legge 1941:165-166)

There is no evidence to substantiate this. In fact, in her very next sentence,

Legge cites the Abbot Samson's encouragement of English preaching, which
contradicts her claims about the loss of English among students at the monas­
tery schools. The future monks could not preach in English if they had lost
their competence in that language. Moreover, the introduction of the orders of
Dominicans and Franciscans in the first half of the 13th century, both preach­
ing orders, encouraged the development of English and the admission of
English members (see Iglesias-Rábade 1987:104). Finally, in the texts used to
teach Latin, there are as many English glosses as French, suggesting that
English was already being used as the medium to teach Latin The most that
can be said is that the contact with French clergymen, either in the hierarchy or
in the monasteries, leads to the introduction of a number of French terms
concerning religion into English. Mackenzie (1939,II:58-64) records the first
uses in English texts of such French words as advent, capelain, cardinal, clerk,
miracle, obedience, penitence, sermon, etc.

3.2.3 The Lower and Middle Classes

The evidence here is quite scant, but we can point to the need to use
English with the maid in Boeve de Haumtoun (cited above, pp. 20-21), and the
need to preach in English to reach the masses. Another interesting piece of
evidence is patterns of naming. Clark (1978) found that between the Conquest
24 PERIOD II (1152-1258)

and the end of the 12th century, almost all the distinctively Anglo-Saxon
names were dropped, by rich and poor alike, in favor of those fashionable with
the Norman settlers. Even among peasants, as seen in a Ramsey survey from
the 1160s, more than 70% of the men's names are continental (but only 45%
of women's names). That this is more true in men's names than in women's
names Clark attributes to the fact that more Norman men than women came to
the island, thus offering more Norman models for naming men than for
naming women. Other linguistic evidence of the penetration of French comes
from Mackenzie's study of French words in English vocabulary. By the end of
Period II, French terms are infiltrating even the common language of these
classes. Mackenzie (1939,II:61-68) found such terms as cellar, furnace, park,
and fores t in English works from the reign of Henry  .
Ultimately the question boils down to this: Was Anglo-French a vernacu­
lar in England, or was it an artificial language of the ruling classes? To support
the 'learned' (as opposed to 'vernacular') position, Rothwell (1976:451)
contends that the use of the word apris in this passage from the life of St.
Clement constitutes proof of French's status as a learned language, even
among the relatively well-educated classes (clerc e lai):

De si escrivere en purpos ai
Que clerc e lai qui Tomint
Bien entendre le porrunt,
Si si vilains del tut ne seient
Que puint de rumanz apris n'aient.
(Rothwell 1976:451, citing the Wilson edition of 1952)

Legge (particularly in her 1979 article) vigorously opposes this view. She
claims that the story about Abbot Samson's grant of land to a non-French
speaker would have no impact if at least some of the lower classes did not
speak French. Still, the penetration of French into uneducated classes, particu­
larly in northern and western sections of the country, appears to have been

3.3 Language and the Teaching of French.

The influx of native Frenchmen accompanying the Henry II and his new
queen led to a sense of inferiority felt by speakers of the Anglo-French dialect.
Matzke (1905-6) provides an inventory of examples of Englishmen speaking
bad French in French literature from the continent. The conflict between the
older immigrants and the new begins here, and culminates in the expulsion of
more recent immigrants in the 13th century. We find the first formulaic apolo­
gies for bad insular French in the Vie d'Edouard le Confesseur (1163-69):

Un faus franceis sai d'Angleterre

Ke ne l'alai ailurs quere.
Mais vus ki ailurs apris l'avez,
La u mester iert, l'amendez,
(w. 7-10; cited in Short 1980:473)

Other evidence is widespread. Giraldus Cambrensis criticizes his lazy nephew

who speaks a miserable French. Gervase of Tilbury relates that many families
sent their children to France to rid them of the barbarous dialect: "eo quod
apud nobilissimos Anglos usus teneatfilios suos apud Gallos nutriri ob usum
armorum et linguae nativae barbariem tollendam" (cited in Clover 1888:56).
William of Canterbury reports the hiring of a Norman tutor, Simon Durand,
"qui doceret filium cuiusdam militis linguam suam" (cited in Short 1980:471).9
Was Anglo-French then a learned language, or only francien?
Walter Map (1140?-1209?) provides us with the story about "Marlbor­
ough French", which has been variously interpreted:

Cessit igitur apud Merleburgam, ubi fons est quern si quis, ut aiunt, gustaverit, Gal-
lice barbarizat, unde cum vitiose quis illa lingua loquitur, dicimus eum loqui galli-
cum Merleburgae: unde Map, cum audisset eum verba resignationis domino Ricardo
Cantuariensi dicere, et quaesisset dominus archiepiscopus ab eo, "Quid loqueris?"
volens eum iterare quod dixerat, ut omnes audirent, et ipso tacente, quaereret item
"Quid loqueris?" respondit pro eo Map, "Gallicum Merleburgae". (Cited in Brunot

Short (1980:472) says the fons referred to must be a school at which "such an
inferior French was used and presumably taught". However, we see little
evidence of instruction in French from this period. The most we can say is that
Latin may have been taught through French, and even this is not certain.
At the end of this period, the teaching of French becomes a piece of the
evidence for the status of French, and in turn, the status of French influences

A similar incident is reported in the 13th-century romance Blonde d' Oxford. Blonde, age
18, knows French, but not the continental variety:

Un peu parroit a son langage

Que ne fu pas née a Pontoise

Blonde, as well as her mother and the ladies-in-waiting profited from the arrival of a page
from Dammartin in the Ile de France to improve the quality of their French:

Le tienent d'aprendre françois

Et en milleur françois le mist,
(cited in Gardiner 1929:62-3)
26 PERIOD II (1152-1258)

the type of instruction performed. In the 13th century appear two treatises
which have been said to constitute our first evidence of instruction of French
(whatever claims others may have made about the nature of the monastery
schools). The first of these, a very short (34 lines) treatise on the tense equiva­
lencies between French and Latin verbs (edited by Södergård 1955), describes
the different French translations possible for each Latin tense and thus fore­
shadows the conjugational patterns which appear in the following century. In
both, the morphological system of French is not considered in its own right,
only the use of French to translate Latin. This suggests the use to which such a
treatise might have been put, i.e., the translation of Latin documents or litera­
ture. That this is the work of a "véritable grammairien" as Meyer would have
it (Meyer 1903:66), an opinion to which Södergård subscribes, seems quite
generous. It is equally dubious that this was used to teach French to English
speakers. There is no reference made to English, no comparison to English
structures. I believe that a more accurate appraisal would be to place this
within the framework of school translation exercises, as a guide to possible
tense equivalencies.
The second, however, is incontrovertibly designed to teach French to
English speakers, but it is unclear whether it really belongs to Period II. This is
Walter of (Gautier de) Bibbesworth's versified vocabulary, which has been
dated to the end of the 13th century by internal evidence, and to the middle of
the 13th century by biographical evidence. (I present the full argument on
datation in the next chapter.) Whatever the date, and increasingly I lean to­
wards the later one, the popularity of the work depends on its relationship to
the legal and managerial training established early in Period III. Therefore I
shall put off complete discussion of the text to the next chapter.

3.4 Conclusions: Period 

French was the language of prestige, of which one dialect represented the
old Norman aristocracy and another the dialect of the recent arrivals. In this
period French literature flourished in England, but French had yet to firmly
establish itself in legal or political settings. In the Church French lost some
ground, as the Cluniac and Cistercian orders, with their emphasis on communi­
ty and their close ties to French mother houses, gave way to the Franciscans
and Dominicans, with their emphasis on preaching and their ties to the lower
classes. In the older aristocracy French was most likely a learned language, as
we see from the development of the first materials to teach French, and from
the testimony of people like Giraldus Cambrensis. The impact of the new
arrivals was to strengthen the hand of French in judicial and administrative
circles, all the while inspiring nationalist anti-French movements among the
old guard.



The prestige that French had enjoyed in England since the Conquest now
extended across all of Europe. In Urban li courtois we read that French is a
"langage alosé de gentil home et mout amé" (Cited in Parsons 1929:398).
Brunot (1906, I:376-417) describes the influence of French not only in Eng­
land but in Spain, Germany, Italy, and even Hungary. Brunetto Latini wrote
his Livre dou Tresor in French not only because he was living in France (as
part of the pope's entourage in Avignon), but because he saw French as "la
parleure [...] plus delitable et plus commune à toutes gens" (Brunot 1906,
I:376). In 1298 Marco Polo, imprisoned in a Genoese jail, recounted in French
his tale of the trip to China. In the Manière de langage, a collection of dia­
logues to teach French to English speakers, French is praised as:

le doulz françois, qu'est la plus bel et la plus gracious language et plus noble parler,
apres latin d'escole, qui soit ou monde et de tous gens mieulx prisee et amee que nul
autre; quar Dieux le fist si doulce et amiable principalment a l'oneur et loenge de luy
mesmes. Et pour ce il peut comparer au parler des angels du ciel pour la grant doulceur
et biaultee d'icel. (Meyer 1873:382)

The prestige factor may have led to the widespread use of French as a literary
language, but, as Rothwell points out, this is no proof of a continuing vernacu­
lar tradition:

Toute cette activité littéraire cependant ne parle pas en faveur de la survivance du

français comme idiome vernaculaire en Angleterre très avant dans le XIIIe siècle. Elle
marque plutôt l'essor du français comme langue internationale de civilisation.
(Rothwell 1978:1086)

However, the use of French in England was not limited to literature. When the
English stopped using Latin for their legal language they turned not to English
28 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

but to French. The origins of this shift lie (1) in the reform of the legal system
begun under Henry II and continued under Henry I and especially Edward I,
reforms which gave ultimate authority to royal (French-speaking) courts and
led to the development of a professional legal class; (2) in the shift from cler­
ics to lay persons in the field of legal representation; (3) in the changing pat­
terns of literacy and the development of a system of written records; (4) in the
changing social situation in England at the end of the 13th and beginning of
the 14th century; and (5) in the development of wool trade with Picardy and
Flanders. The end of the Barons' War (1267) and the accession of Edward I
(1272) were accompanied by the appearance of the first French legal docu­
ments and the first French treatises on legal practices. One might rightfully
wonder why the Conquest, or the law of Novel Disseisin, had not had such a
dramatic effect on the language of the law in England. The answer is two-fold.
First, French law in France only made the shift from Latin to French in the
first half of the 13th century (see Brunot 1906, I:359-362 and Beaulieux
1927:87). The terminology of professional legal discourse in French had not
been created at the time of the earlier French influence. Furthermore, in the
mid-13th century, the Church banned its priests from serving as legal represen­
tatives in the lay courts. Therefore, a lay legal profession trained not in Latin
canon law but in French customary law developed. These legal professionals
learned their trade not from formal reading (as in canon law), but rather by
apprenticeship, an apprenticeship which consisted of listening to French plead­
ings in the courts.
At the same time as this shift in legal practice and language, English
society was shifting from a feudal system to an indenture system. The middle
class was starting to flex its muscles. Knowledge of French was useful for the
aspirations of the middle class not only within England but also without.
During this period the clothmakers of Flanders depended more and more on
the wool producers of England for their raw materials. The enormous flocks of
sheep at the Cistercian abbeys in Yorkshire provided the wool for the
merchants of London and Dover, who in turn sold it to the Hanse of Bruges.
The wine trade with the English territories in Gascony also encouraged the
study of French in England. (For details of the growth of English trade with
Flanders and the development of the wine trade, see Thompson 1931:61-80.)
It is no accident that the two dialects most often cited in the orthographical and
lexical treatises are not Norman or Parisian, but rather Picard and Gascon.
These factors favoring the use of French in domains literary, legal and
commercial did not go unchallenged. Over the course of the 14th century the
pressures of the rising middle class led to a fairly rapid disintegration of the
French cultural hegemony in England, although the use of a French legal
jargon continued into the 18th century.

4.1 Official and unofficial uses of French

Henry Ill's letter patent of October 18, 1258, designated by Ellis (1868)
as "The Only English Proclamation of Henry III" is, in fact, also the 'only
French proclamation of Henry III', 1 all other such documents being issued in
Latin. What is more remarkable is that in spite of the high degree of bilingual-
ism already present in the upper classes of England at this time, French rather
than English should replace Latin first in the law, then in official proclama­
tions and finally in the epistolary literature. We noted above the existence of a
short glossary of English legal terms dating from the first half of the 13th
century. Additional evidence of the strength of English in legal domains comes
from the commentaries and glosses found in Bracton (mid 13th century), all of
which are in English (Woodbine 1943:417). Why then does French become
the language of written law, legal literature and courtroom pleading in the
second half of the 13th century? Plucknett describes the change in the style
and the language of the law in these terms:

From Bracton we get abundant detail, careful arrangement, and a scientific approach
which shows clearly in everything he wrote, although it is occasionally obscured by
the mischances which befell his text. This stately Latin treatise was followed by
works of a different kind. The Latin of the canonist and civilian [university-trained
expert in civil law] was replaced by the French of the steward and bailiff (to say
nothing of the serjeant-at-law and the lesser ranks of the profession) and by smaller,
but still very interesting little tracts upon a variety of subjects [...] It is natural that
literature of that class should devote itself to criminal matters because it was evident­
ly used and appreciated by people who were engaged in keeping courts and doing the
necessary, but unpleasant, work of prosecuting offenders in the manorial court of
their lord. They were most at home in French rather than Latin literature. The Ian-

Robert of Fulham, a clerk of the Exchequer, received 50 shillings for translating the Provi­
sions of Oxford into both French and English (Holt 1974:351). This is clear enough evidence
of the trilingualism that was common among educated men (and perhaps women, see S human
Clanchy points out that these were not really proclamations, but rather letters patent. The
use of French (and English) depends on particular circumstances, and this helps explain the
gap between this use of the vernaculars and the next. These letters were written to serve as a
permanent record in the county treasurers' offices. The vernacular languages were used to
bypass the local officials.

No satisfactory contemporary explanation is given for issuing these letters in lan­

guages other than Latin, but it can be inferred that the reason for this unprecedented
action was that Henry's sheriffs and other officials could not be relied upon to have
them publicly read in the usual way because the letters were explicitly critical of their
own conduct. (Clanchy 1979:171)
30 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

guage question soon settled down; our law became French. The literature of the law
(notably the Year Books) also became French, and we abandoned the more academic
and international Latin of the thirteenth century. (Plucknett 1960:91-92)

While the general outline presented in Plucknett is accurate, a few corrections

must be made. First, it is a mistake to assume that the language of the lower
officers of the law was French from birth. The reason for the choice of French
is not the language of those legal practitioners, but rather the language of the
highest courts and their masters. Second, the main force behind the changes in
the legal system, Edward I, had no compunctions about calling in Italian-
trained experts in civil and canon law (such as Accursius, about whom more
below) to help mold the new system. Third, the literature of shorter specialized
tracts was by no means limited to criminal law. Still, the basic outline is
correct. English law, by its choice of language and tradition, distanced itself
from continental law.
The change in legal style and language is dramatic. Only 10-15 years after
the appearance of Bracton's treatise on the law, with its English glosses and
commentaries, Ralph de Hengham (a chief justice for Edward I) composed a
Summa Magna, but includes examples of pleas made in royal courts, all of
which are in French (see Woodbine 1943:428). 2 The author of the Modus
componendi brevia, composed ca. 1285, explains his reasons for writing in
French his appendix on exceptions to the law:

Sed quia consuetudine regni Angliae talis est, quod placita coram iusticiariis per narra-
tores in romanis verbis, et non in latinis, pronunciatur; idcirco huiusmodi exceptiones
lingua romana in scriptis rediguntur. (Woodbine 1910:162)

This passage, as Woodbine (1943:428-9) points out, contains several key

terms which help explain the use of French, and the limits on the use of
French, in the second half of the 13th century. Most important, for our pur­
poses, is the reference to narratores, i.e., a professional class of pleaders. This
group, trained in oral pleading by apprenticeship in the king's courts, made
French the language of legal record.
The development of this professional class dates from the period after the
conclusion of the Barons' War (1267) and reflects a conscious choice to dis­
tance English legal practice from the influence of Roman and Canon law, a

Clanchy correctly warns that the language of written record is not necessarily the language
of the pleading itself:

The fact that a statement is recorded in a certain language does not mean that it was
originally made in that language [...] A good example is the Latin notarial instrument
recording the act of homage of John Balliol as the king of Scots to Edward I in 1292.
John uttered the words of homage 'with his own mouth in the French language', but to
give them full legal force they were recorded by Edward's notary, John of Caen, 'liter­
ally' (litteralliter). This did not mean that Balliol's words were transcribed verbatim,
but that they were translated into Latin for the record. (Clanchy 1979:160)

change from latinate Bractonism to French-language parliamentarism. The

papal legate Otho, writing in 1237, states that there were no notaries in Eng­
land at that time. The earliest reference to notaries in England dates from 1268
(Richardson 1939:446). Edward I, sometimes referred to as the 'English
Justinian', set out to continue legal reform, so that the institutions of legal
government all ultimately pointed to the authority of the king. To accomplish
this he sometimes brought in legal experts from the continent. 3 More often,
though, he called on the still-evolving class of legal practitioners. The central­
ization of judicial authority also points to a centralization of judicial language,
a process that was occurring at the same time in France with the establishment
of the 'bureau de baillage'. Lusignan describes the process in these terms:
"Des clercs, la plupart formés à Paris et Orléans, rédigent maintenant les
actes sous le contrôle du pouvoir royal et contribuent de ce fait à la standardi­
sation de l'écriture juridique" (1986:121). In England this process created a
standardized judicial language that was even more foreign to the vast majority
of the population than was françois to the majority of the French population.
This legal language, Law French as it came to be known, offered some
practical, intellectual and social advantages over the use of English. On the
practical side, Baker notes that:

It would have been virtually impossible to take down a discussion verbatim before the
development of shorthand, so the reporter took down the arguments and the proposi­
tions rather than the ipsissima verba of the speakers. The formalised French phrases
used in the year books gave him a shorthand ready made and adapted for legal pur­
poses. (Baker 1979:11)

On the intellectual side, the use of these artificial formulae in a foreign lan­
guage prevented their corruption by meaning changes within the more
common vernacular. It obviated the need for reminding people that one was
using a term in its technical rather than its general sense. Finally, the knowl­
edge of French became the gateway to a legal or administrative career in the
same way that Latin was the gateway to a career in Church or university. The
use of a language unknown to the general public secured the professional
status of the legal practitioners, and at the same time aroused popular suspi­
cions of legal chicanery (about which more below).
Pollock and Maitland trace the development of this professional class in
several stages: 1) Informal representation: A representative may stand along­
side a litigant, pleading in a more elegant manner, but the litigant is not bound
by the statements of the pleader; 2) The responsalis: an attorney (still not a
professional) may represent a litigant in exceptional circumstances, by permis­
sion of the court (e.g., the litigant is going abroad in the king's service); 3)
Professional pleaders: In the second half of the 13th century, we start to find
references to narratores, or, in French, contours (ModF conteurs)( Pollock &

For example, G. Haskins (1938 a and b) describes the activities of Francis Accursius, pro­
fessor of law at Bologna who entered Edward I's service in 1273. In England he served the
king in many capacities, and apparently taught law at Oxford.
32 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

Maitland 1903,I:212-3; see also Cohen 1929:137-141). Whether at first these

constitute a professional class is unsure. However, names of these representa­
tives start to repeat themselves. At the same time as we find mention in the
court records of apprentices, suggesting a professional training, the ordained
clergy was being barred from service in the lay courts. In 1217 the Bishop of
Salisbury decreed that "Neither clerici nor priests are to appear as advocati in
a secular tribunal unless in their own cases or in those of poor people" (Cohen
1929:159). Otho repeated this injunction in 1237. Around 1270 one successful
lawyer, Thomas de Waylond, found it necessary to conceal his clerical status,
and the Mirror of Justices recommended that a countour should not be "a man
of religion nor ordained clerk above the order of sub-deacon nor beneficed
clerk with the cure of souls" (Cohen 1929:151). Finally, in 1292, Edward I
seems to provide the formal basis for a professional legal monopoly:

In that year King Edward directed his justices to provide for every county a sufficient
number of attorneys and apprentices from among the best, the most lawful and the
most teachable, so that the king and people might be well served. The suggestion was
made that a hundred and forty of such men would be enough, but the justices might, if
they pleased, appoint a larger number. (Pollock & Maitland 1903, I:216)

Thus the right to practice law was assigned by the king's justices, and limited
to those practitioners. Part of their training was in the use of French for legal
This training in French involved, for the most part, memorization of
formulae in Law French. Through such works as the Placita corone (ca. 1280;
ed. by Kaye 1966) and the Court Baron (ca. 1265; ed. by Maitland, 1891),
apprentices learned how to start defense arguments and a few basic tricks of
legal pleading. Examples of these formulae are repeated over and over again in
these two documents:

[For the accusation]

X, ke ci est, apele Y, ke la est, ke la ou il fu en la pes deu et en la pes le Roy le (date)
lan del regne le roy Edward Ixme, ke deu gard, a (heure) en la meson Z en (ville), la
vint memes celi Y, ke la est, felonessement come felon et en asaut purpensé et le as­
saillit de vileines paroles, en tant ke il le appela laron et deleaus [...]
[For the defense]
Tort e force, et kant ke a tort et force apent, et tote manire de felonies et de assauz
purpensez, et les armes et sank et play e et kant ke est encuntre la pes nostre seignur le
Roy et sa corone, defent Y, ke ci est, et defendra la [ou] et quant devera et enparlera a
vos congez. (Both from Kaye 1966:2)

What is most striking about the model accusation is that it is repeated even
when the crime in question has nothing to do with attacking someone verbally.
These phrases have already lost all meaning in the legal proceeding, except as
an indication that the lawyer has properly learned all the right words.
The books also contain model interrogations. These dialogues surely do
not represent the exact words of the court, with the possible exception of the
discussion between the officers of the court, for it is unlikely that thieves were

fully conversant in French (as Clanchy 1979:161-2 points out; see also Baker,
above, p. 31). Even if French was the language of professional pleading,
English was more often the language of testimony, as we see in the testimony
at the Templars' trial in 1311 (Berndt 1972:356) and in an Oxford statute in
force in 1300 which allowed people to testify in any language generally under­
stood: "Grosso modo et idiomaíe quocunque communiter intelligibili factum
proponant" (cited in Jusserand 1895:239). 14th-century commentators on
Britton state that the articles of eyre were read in English (Baker 1979:10).
The model interrogations are presented in French because this had become the
language of legal record.

[Justitiarius ad Vicecomitem]
Visconte, pur que est cet homme pris?
Sire, pur suspecion de bestes prises et emblees et en le pays priveement recettes.
Avez rin trove oveke ly dont vous eiez mauveise suspecion?
Sire, oil: ii vaches ke ci sunt presentes.
Cornent avez non, beaus amys?
Nichole de C, Sire, ay a non.
Ou nasquiste vous?
Sire, en le Conte de C.
En quele vile?
En la vile de C.
Cornent aveniste vous a ceste bestes ke ci sunt presentes?
Sire, bin et leaument.
(from Kaye 1966:17-18)

The dialogues recorded in these books and in the Year Books (annual records
of cases in the king's courts, starting from 1292) may thus have served the
vocabulary needs of lawyers much as the manières de langage (see below, pp.
78-83) served the merchants. A major difference, however, is that the mer­
chants' dialogues provide many variants for specific situations, while these are
remarkable for the inflexibility of the formulae.
Oschinsky (1971:390) has pointed out that dialogues also form a minor
part of another aspect of legal training in the late 13th century. Within the
treatises on estate management (the Rules, composed between 1240-1242,
Walter of Henley's Hosbondrye, ca. 1285, the Seneschaucy, ca. 1260-1276,
and another text known as the Husbandry, ca. 1300) are a few examples of
model statements by lords to their managers. However these speeches are too
long and too one-sided to be compared to the legal dialogues or the manières
de langage (contrary to Clanchy's claims 1979:224).
Even if these are not true dialogues, these treatises were an important part
of legal training, and all were written originally in French at the time when the
legal profession was developing. In fact, the texts listed above, particularly the
Seneschaucy were most frequently linked with legal texts in the same
manuscript. Twelve of the fifteen extant copies of the Seneschaucy are found
in legal compendia (Oschinsky 1971:61). The combination of legal and
managerial texts shows that the lawyers of the new legal profession served a
number of functions outside the courts, and helps explain the popularity within
34 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

the legal and commercial training tradition of Bibbesworth's versified lexicon,

which includes much vocabulary relating to estate management and may be
partly based on Walter of Henley's Hosbondrye (see below, p. 42).
To summarize the linguistic relations within the English legal system in
this period: 1) At the beginning Latin is still the language of the law, or at least
of legal record, in part because of the prestige of Latin and in part because the
legal system is dominated by clergy; 2) Gradually, the clerical elements are
removed from the lay courts, opening the door to vernacular pleading; 3) At
the time of entry of these lay people into the legal system, there is a strong
French influence at the highest levels, with waves of French immigration in
the 1240s and 1250s; 4) To add to the French influence, the law school at
Orléans came to replace the Italian centers as the most popular continental site
for legal training, and this at a time when French legal records were becoming
more standardized.
These factors favoring French come into play at a time when the legal
system was switching from oral to written procedure. Henry II ordered that
writs replace oral summons (Clanchy 1979:220). The increased use of written
records, both in the courts and in such documents as the pipe rolls, increased
familiarity with French, at least certain formulae in French, among the grow­
ing numbers of minimally literate Englishmen.4 However, these formulae do
not necessarily demonstrate a great penetration of French into English life.
Once beyond the formulae, it is clear that the original thoughts were conceived
in English, whatever the language of record (see below, p. 40, for a discussion
of anglicisms in contracts and legal arguments).
Furthermore, outside of the law, English seems to penetrate higher and
higher levels of English society. When Edward I felt menaced by the French in
1295 he appealed to his barons to join him in the battle against the French,
because the French were threatening to eradicate the English language:

Linguam Anglicam, si conceptae iniquitatis propositio detestabili potestas correspon­

dent (quod Deus avertat) omnino de terra delere proponit. (Rymer's Foedera, 11:689;
cited in Emerson 1916:140)

Edward III played on similar fears a half-century later. After the capture of
Caen in 1346 the discovery of the 'Ordinance of Normandy' was reported.
This was supposedly an agreement between Philip of France and the Duke of
Normandy, proposing a second Norman conquest of England. In the Rolls of
Parliament the planned eradication of English was described (in French!):

Et sur ce fu moustre une Ordinance faite par le dit Adversaire & ascuns Grants de
France & de Normandie, a destruire & anientier tote la Nation & la Lange Engleys: et
de faire Execution de ceste l'Ordinance le dit Adversaire avoit ordeignez le Count de
Eu, & le Chaumberleyn de Tankerville, od grant Multitude des Gentz d'armes, Gene-

For a discussion of who was literate see Clanchy 1979:175-201, Thompson 1939 and Miner
1962. Thrupp (1948:156-8) also provides an interesting picture of the literacy of different
classes of Londoners in the 15th century.

vois & Gentz a pie de y estre alez. Mes sicome Dieu voleit, les ditz Count & Chaum-
berleyn furent pris a Caen, & plusours de lour Gentz tuez, & ascuns de eux pris, si q'ils
ount faillez quant a ore de lour puros, ent loez soit Dieux. (cited in Emerson 1916:138)

That the destruction of the English language was a matter of great concern is
underlined by Edward's explanation of the causes of war, sent out to the heads
of the Dominicans and the Augustinian friars:

Set ipse, diu per Tractatus hujusmodi nos protrahens fallaciter sub incerto, & Expensis
gravibus nos exponens, nichil nobis facere voluit in effectu; set semper, sub dictorum
umbra Tractatuum, cumulavit peramplius Mala Malis, nos & nostras persequens hosti-
liter, tarn in Tera, quam in Mari, & in subversionem Linguae Anglicanae cominans pro
viribus & conspirans. (Rymer's Foedera, V, 496-8; cited in Emerson 1916:140;
emphasis added)

During the reign of Edward III (1327-1377), Froissart cites a number of

instances in which English is used in the royal court. The barons, earls, and
bishops who accompanied Edward III to France in 1329 did not know French
well enough to complete the act of homage in due form (Emerson 1916:133;
see below, p. 40). In 1337, when Edward III convened a meeting to discuss
going to war with France, Robert of Artois addressed the assembled nobles
and mayors in English:

Adonc se leva uns clerc d'Engleterre, licensiiés en droit et en lois, et moult bien
pourveus de trois langages, de latin, de françois, et dou langage englès; et conmença à
parler moult sagement. Et estoit messires Robers d'Artois dalès lui, liquel l'avoit
enfourmé, trois ou quatre jours devant, de tout ce qu'il devoit dire. Si parla atempree-
ment et remoustra tout en hault, et [en] englois, à la fin que il fust mieuls entendus de
toutez gens, car tous jours sçut on mieuls ce que on voelt dire et proposer ens ou
langage où on est d'enfance introduit qu'en un aultre [...] (cited in Emerson 1916:134;
emphasis added)

In another passage, Froissart describes the k i n g ' s reaction to a presentation

made to him in English, and apparently understood by all the nobility of the

En la place toutes gens se ouvrirent à rencontre de li. Si passerent oultre messires

Gautiers et li süs bourgois, et s'en vint devant le roi et li dist en langage englois: 'Trés
chiers sires, vechi la presentation de la ville de Calais à vostre ordenance.' Li rois se
taisi tous quois et regarda moult fellement sus euls, car moult les haioit et tous les
habitans de Calais, pour les grans damages et contraires que dou temps passet li avoi-
ent fait.

Chil süs bourgois se missent tantos en genouls devant le roi, et dissent ensi en joindant
lors mains: 'Gentils sires et nobles rois, veés nous chi süs, qui avons esté d'ancesserie
bourgois de Calais et grans marceans par mer et parterre, et vous aportons les clefs de
la ville et dou chastiel de Calais, et les vous rendons a vostre plaisir, et nous mettons
en tel point que vous nous veés en vostre pure volenté, pour sauver le demorant dou
peuple de Calais qui souffert a moult de grietés. Si voelliés de nous avoir pité et
36 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

merchi par vostre haute noblece.' Certes il n'i ot adonc en la place, conte, baron, ne
chevalier, ne vaillant homme qui se peuist astenir de plorer de droite pité, ne qui peuist
parler en grant piece. Li rois regarda sus euls très crueusement, car il avoit le coer si
dur et si enfelloniient de grans courous, que il ne pot parler; et qant il parla, il
conmanda en langage englois que on lor copast les testes tantos. Tout li baron et li
chevalier qui là estoient, en plorant prioient, si aceites que faire pooient, au roi que la
en vosist avoir pité et merchi; mès il n'i voloit entendre, (cited in Emerson 1916:136;
emphasis added)
Official business at lower levels was already being conducted in English well
before Edward III's decree requiring it. In the first quarter of the 14th century,
the town crier of Sandwich proclaimed the ordinances of the City Council in
English. The Latin text of the Customal of Sandwich provides the first words
to be used in the presentation of an official declaration: "Pees a godys half,
pees". Royal privileges granted to the city of London were announced in
English to those assembled at the Guild-Hall on March 9, 1327. An ordinance
of the mayor and aldermen of London states that all procedures in the sheriff's
court must be carried out in English (Berndt 1972:351).
In Church circles, the rules against the use of English imposed in some
monasteries, often cited as evidence of the continuing domination of French,
are just as much an admission of that language's diminishing hold:

nullus de scola noviciorum [...] in qua quidem scola, sicutnecalibi in claustro, debet
Anglico ydiomate aliquid proferri [...] sed Gallice jugiter sicut et in capitulo, ab
omnibus et a singulis in claustro est loquendum. (Cited in Berndt 1976:140)

Such rules would not have been necessary were not English perceived as some
kind of threat to an established order that derived some of its status from its
ability to speak French. One can interpret in similar light the parliamentary
decree encouraging the study of French:

Encores fu il ordonné et aresté que tout seigneur, baron, chevalier et honnestes

hommes de bonnes villes mesissent cure et dilligence de estruire et aprendre leurs
enfans le langhe francoise, par quoy il en fuissent plus able et plus coustummier ens
leurs gherres (Froissait ChroniquesI,402; cited in Berndt 1972:368).

Similarly, a half-century later, teachers were ordered to alternate French and

English in teaching Latin, in order to maintain some knowledge of French
(Richardson 1942:335). In the 16th century, Palsgrave seems to blame the
sorry state of Latin in England on this particular teaching method when, in his
attack on Alexander Barcley's Introductory (1521), he states that

I have sene an olde boke written in parchement in maner in all thynges like to his sayd
Introductory: which/ by coniecture/ was nat unwritten this hundred yeres. I wot nat if
he happened to fortune upon suche an other: for whan it was commaunded that the
grammar maisters shulde teche the youth of Englande ioyntly latin with frenche/ there
were diverse suche bokes divysed: wherupon/ as I suppose began one great occasyon
why we of Englande sounde the latyn tong so corruptly/ whiche have as good a tonge
to sounde all maner speches parfitely/ as any other nacyon in Europa. (Palsgrave 1530:

I, xii verso-xiii recto)

Whether or not this teaching method was the source of bad Latin in England,
this passage confirms the fact that at the time of this decree French was as
foreign a language as Latin to the students. Similar confirmation of the mono­
lingual background of young Englishmen comes in the North English Homily
Cycle, composed at the end of the 13th century, where we learn that:

Bathe klerk and laued man

Englis understand kan
That was born in Ingelond
And lang haves ben thar in wonand.
(Cited in Berndt 1976:141)

The choice of language for devotional books also reveals something of the
linguistic relations in the country (Pantin 1955:220-243). The great French
devotional books of the end of the 13th century were generally translated into
English in the first half of the 14th century. La Merure de Seinte Eglise,
written by St. Edmund, Archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1240) was translated
into English in the 14th century. The Manuel des péchés, an Anglo-French
versified aid to confession of some 12,000 lines, was, in 1303, translated into
English by Robert Mannyng, Gilbertine canon of Sempringham in Lincoln­
shire. A prose translation in London dialect dates from  1350. Friar Lorens, a
Dominican friar and confessor of Philip III of France, composed in 1279 the
Somme le roi, which in 1340 was translated by Dan Michael of Northgate,
monk of St. Augustine's, Canterbury under the well-known title of the Agen-
bite of lnwit. Another English prose translation dates from ca. 1375. All of
these point to a strengthening English tradition within the Church in the 14th
Nonetheless, contradictory evidence of the continuing strength of French
is indicated by the use of that language as the medium of the king's instruc­
tions to the church meeting, the Convocations of Canterbury. The earliest
surviving minutes date from the convocation of 1309. On the second day of
the convocation of 1309 three knights arrived bearing a message from the
king. The only surviving copy of the message is in French (Highfield
1950:60). Another indication of continuing strength of French in the Church is
a private letter to Henry of Eastry, prior of Christchurch, Canterbury, dated ca.
1300. In this letter, a member of the archbishop's household asks the Prior for
special dispensation, to allow a woman who is illiterate and knows no French
to enter a convent.5

Cited in Gardiner (1929:65) from the Historical Manuscripts Commission's Report on
Manuscripts in Various Collections, Vol. 1, p. 277. London: Mackie & Co., 1901. The exact
wording of the letter is: "cum illa non sit litterata nec in Gallica lingua erudita". Given
Clanchy's explanation of the term litteratus, we can assume that this means she had had no
formal instruction in Latin. What may be more surprising is that at this time one could be
considered erudita in French.
38 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

Another source of evidence, assumed by some to be contradictory, is in

the epistolary output of the period. The overwhelming use of French in the
official and personal correspondence of Eleanor of Provence (wife of Henry
III) and Philippa of Hainault in the 13th century and of the Black Prince and
John of Gaunt in the 14th century points to a continuing use of French at the
highest levels of aristocracy, and even below. Because many of these letters
were addressed to people of more humble standing, down to the level of
doorkeepers, Suggett concludes:

Every piece of information available seems to show that the French used in England
was no mere accomplishment, but that it was a true vernacular whose roots had pene­
trated deeply into all classes of English society who could read and write. (Suggett

That conclusion seems far from certain. First we must wonder what other
language the French-born wives of English aristocrats would have used if not
their native French, particularly in the case of Eleanor who brought with her
hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of followers. As for the Black Prince and
John of Gaunt, both spent years in military campaigns in France, and much of
the epistolary literature cited to show their use of French dates from the period
of these campaigns. Thus this use of French as the idiom of choice among a
very few nobles, French-born or living in France, is hardly surprising, nor is it
any indication of the broad use of French in England. Finally, the language of
the scribe is not necessarily the language of the author. All of these considera­
tions weaken the evidence provided by the letters.
In literary use, French and English are on equal footing by the mid-point
of this period. Vising (1923:53-66) lists 43 saint's lives, 27 collections of
religious poetry, four major romances, 8 fabliaux, 40 collections of secular
poetry and 22 satirical pieces written in French in England during the 13th
century, a total of 144 literary works. In the 14th century, there are only four­
teen new pieces in these categories. French is no longer a language of literary
creation in England by the end of Period III. In a more popular vein, Wright
(1839) observes a similar shift in the language of political songs in England.
Until the time of the Barons' War, all the popular songs which have survived
were written in Latin. 6 In the reign of Henry III (1216-1272), we find an
Anglo-French song from 1256, followed by several others in that tongue, and
one English song dated 1264. Through the reign of Edward I (1277-1307), the
three languages are equally represented, while English or bi- or tri-lingual

The two vernacular songs which Wright supplies from the reign of King John (1199-1216)
were both composed on the continent, even though related to the actions of the English king.

songs including English dominate the reign of Edward  (1307-1327).7

The French language in this period made headway in only one area of
official use, the legal profession and the keeping of legal records of govern­
ment (the Rolls of Parliament, the Year Books, etc.). This fact can be tied to
the development of the professional legal class following the conclusion of the
Barons' War and the exclusion of clerics from legal service. In the Church
French abbots must rely on interdictions to slow the shift to English, and the
flow of French-born monks from France to England came to an end by late in
the 13th century. 8 By the conclusion of this period, fewer and fewer authors
select French as the medium for their literature, although French books contin­
ue to be prized in noble households.

4.2 Who spoke French?

Among the aristocracy, knowledge of French, or at least familiarity with

French, continues to be prestigious through this period, but prestige is not
enough to overcome the breakdown of familial connections with the continent
and the increasingly hostile attitude towards France. That hostility, born not of
a 'Saxon pride' movement but rather from the problems of the Cinque Ports at
the end of the 13th century, was fed by irritation with the French courtiers who
followed royal brides during the reign of Henry  . Before the outbreak of the
Hundred Years' War, fewer and fewer knights actually traveled abroad in the
king's service. Berndt (1976:138) estimates that only half of those with the
social rank of knight served in France in the 14th century, and concludes that
many of those 'stay-at-home' knights must have remained monolingual. The
author of Arthur and Merlin (late 13th-century; cited in Berndt 1976:138)

Many noble ich have useiye

that no Freynsche couthe seye.
Similarly, the author of the English Romance Richard Coer de Lyon (early
14th-century) states that no more than one in a hundred Englishmen speaks
French (Berndt 1972:349-50). Even those knights who did travel to France

Of particular interest is a trilingual song composed early in Edward IPs reign. I provide
here an excerpt from Wright (1839:251,11. 1-6).
Quant homme deit parleir, videat quae verba loquatur;
Sen covent aver, ne stultior inveniatur.
Quando qui loquitur, bote resoun reste therynne,
Derisum patitur, ant lutel so shal he wynne.
En seynt eglise sunt multi saepe priores;
Summe beoth wyse, multi sunt inferiores.
Theflowof money in the other direction also came to an end at this time, when Edward I
decreed that the Cistercian houses could not send money to the French mother house.
40 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

were not necessarily able to speak French adequately. Froissait chronicles an

incident from Edward IIFs trip to France in 1329. He was accompanied by a
number of representatives of the highest-ranking nobles in the country (bish­
ops, earls, and barons) none of whom understood French well enough to
complete the act of homage in due form:

La nature des Englès est telle que tous jours il se crienment à estre decheu et repliquent
tant apriès une cose que mervelles; et ce que il averont en couvenant un jour, il le
deliieront l'autre. Et à tout ce que les encline à faire ce qu'il n'entendent point bien
tous les termes dou langage de France [...] (cited in Emerson 1916:133)

This suspicion of the French language as a language of deception was at least

in part due to the average man's (even the average nobleman's) lack of com­
prehension of Law French (see below, pp. 63-64). Furthermore, the expulsion
of French courtiers in the 1250s, and increasing hostility to the French took its
toll on the knowledge of the French language even among the highest level of
Among the middle classes, French continued as the language of the guild
records, and this evidence was enough to convince Mrs. Suggett of the contin­
ued strength of French at all levels of society. However, a closer look at these
records casts considerable doubt on the claims she makes. First, as Rothwell
(1983:259) has pointed out, there is a geographic split to the use of French in
this part of English society. A look at the records of the building trade in
Salzman 1952 shows that French terms are found mainly in documents of
southern origin. Furthermore, the type of French shows considerable influence
from English. These documents were composed by English speakers trained in
Law French, as we can see from some of the following examples of English
interference in their imperfectly acquired French:

Ceste endentur fayt a engelfelde le dymayn procheyn devant la feste seynt barnabe le
apostylle: Entre Phelypp de Engelfelde del un part [=on the one hand; Fr.: d'une part]
e Jhon le Rede de lautre part: par covenaunt feyt entre eus que le dyt Jhon fra un
chambre de la longur karaunte pes a de lee vynt e katr' pes e demy Owf la gardrobe de
la longure de vynt pes e de le katosse. E synk uss e un vay wyndou [=bay window] en
la vowt [...] (early 14th c; Salzman 1952:417)

Hors pris Chauz, perre, Sabloun, arsyl, Tule, Tilepin, plastrure, et loks [=locks] pur les
hus. Et pur ceo durra le dyt Sire Johan alauandyt Richard Trente et treys mars de bons
esterlings. Des queux le dyt Sire Johan payera a l'auaundyt Richard dys mars deuaunt
la meyn [=beforehand] (1310, London; Salzman 1952:418-9)

E les denseyns murs serrount deus pes e demy epes [=two and a halffeet thick; in this
case we can compare this work order with one written two years later on behalf of the
French-born Queen Isabella: "une arche d'espessour de .v. pees"] (1313, Lapworth;
Salzman 1952:421)

These mixtures of French and English, which only get worse as the 14th cen­
tury progresses, are indicative of the shift which was taking place from French
to English. But English was not yet ready to assume all the functions of

French, and for this reason we witness the massive importation of French words
into the English language at this time. Mackenzie (1939:75) observes: "A
partir de 1300, et au cours de tout le XIVe siècle, c'est une véritable invasion
de mots ayant trait à toutes les catégories des connaissances humaines".
If many of the middle class did know and use French (for which the use of
French in the legal contracts cited above is no proof), it was a broken French.
Woodbine has pointed out (1943:431) that even though French became the
language of the law "the early Year Books indicate that both court and counsel
knew English, and suggest that that language, rather than the French which
was used in pleading, was the lawyer's normal tongue". In the Year Books
accounts of legal proceedings occasionally lapse into English (Baker 1979:10).
In Philippe de Remis' Jehan et Blonde, composed ca. 1270, one citizen of
Oxford is described as "un bourgeois qui sot parler fraunchois mout bel"
(cited in Berndt 1976:145). Does the fact that this merits mention mean that
such knowledge is unusual and distinctive in that class? Thus, in all classes of
English society during Period III, English is the native tongue, and French a
learned language, except among the new arrivals from Flanders.

4.3 Language and the Teaching of French

If French was a learned language (and we noted above, p. 36, that learning
it was encouraged by parliamentary legislation), how was one to learn it?
Basic instruction in Latin was supposed to be provided at the parish level, but
instruction in French seems to arise with the development, during Period III
but especially in Period IV, of schools of dictamen associated with the Univer­
sity at Oxford.

4.3.1 Vocabulary

The first significant teaching tools for French were the bilingual and tri­
lingual nominalia to which the orthographic treatises were added slightly later
in Period III. The nominalia are systematic presentations of French vocabu­
lary. The most important lexical treatise is Walter of Bibbesworth's versified
vocabulary. This text, first edited by Wright (1857) and then by Owen (1929)
survives in 15 manuscripts, most dating from the 14th century (see Owen
1929:31-32 for a list of the mss.), several found in the same manuscripts with
the other texts of the Oxford schools of the late 14th and early 15th centuries.
What does the existence of such a text prove concerning the linguistic relation­
ships of this period? To answer this question we must consider the position of
Bibbesworth and his patroness, Dionysia de Munchesny, in English society,
the command of French exhibited by Bibbesworth, and the relationship be­
tween a lost original and the numerous manuscripts.
First we must establish the purpose and the date of this work, for it is
perhaps the purpose which furnishes the most definitive answer to the problem
of dating. The date of this treatise, set late in the 13th century by earlier schol­
ars, has been placed in the middle part of the century by Baugh 1959. His date
is based on the dedication of the work to the instruction of the children of the
patroness, Dionysia de Munchesny. The facts of Bibbesworth's life have beer
confused by the existence of two Walters de Bibbesworth, one being the son oi
42 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

the author of the treatise. There are also two Dionysia de Munchesny, the
earlier being married to Warin de Munchesny in 1235, the second to Hugh de
Vere in 1290. The confusion about the date of the text arises from these pairs.
Those who dated the versified vocabulary at the end of the 13th century did so
because they linked the text to the second Dionysia. But Bibbesworth makes
numerous references to the children of Dionysia, and the second Dionysia died
childless. The first Dionysia had one son of her own and took on the five sons
of Warin de Munchesny's first marriage (to Joan Marshal, daughter of William
Marshal). Baugh concludes that the treatise was written for these children, and
therefore must have been composed before 1250. If this is the case,
Bibbesworth would have written the treatise before he spent any time in
France. Bibbesworth, a native of Hertfordshire, spent several years in France
ca. 1250-1254. Therefore if he composed the treatise before his departure, he
must have already been totally conversant in French, and familiar with specific
aspects of French life (as the type of chickens most commonly found in
France, 11. 278-282, and reference to the river Seine (1. 824)). At the same
time, however, his French is strongly marked by English influence. (Later he
traveled to the Holy Land as part of Prince Edward's crusaders in 1270, a trip
which inspired him to write poetry late in his life.)
The apparent relationship between Bibbesworth's treatise and Walter of
Henley's Hosbondrye poses certain problems for this interpretation, since
Henley's treatise was not written until ca. 1285. Oschinsky (1971:161, 179,
183) points out common elements in the two: the preference for ox teams
rather than horse teams for plowing; bathing and rubbing down oxen after
their work; and feeding sheep haulm and pods of peas. If Bibbesworth is
referring to Walter of Henley when he states "ceo dist li auctour ki ne mentl
Dunt les beofs e les chivaus sunt waésl E de tutes autres bestes sunt lavez" (11.
904-906), then the composition date would have to be moved back to the end
of the 13th century.
The elder Bibbesworth was a wealthy landowner, judging from the var­
ious legal proceedings in which he was involved. Dionysia de Munchesny was
still several ranks above him, married to one of the most powerful men of the
realm and caring for the grandchildren of William Marshal, earl of Pembroke
and guardian of Henry III in his regency. The knowledge of French exhibited
in this text is indicative of the level at the highest ranks of the aristocracy.
The children of Dionysia, his patroness, are clearly not expected to be
perfectly fluent in French, although they apparently already know the basics.
The most oft-cited passage to support this claim are the lines 81-82 of Owen's

E n'est pas mester tut a descrivere

De fraunceis ki chescun seit dire [...]

The use of this passage for that purpose is appropriate, but we must overcome
the failings of the Owen edition in order to fully evaluate its worth. It is
probably significant that these lines are missing in a 15th-century manuscript
(Oxford All Souls 182), a manuscript in which the glossing is much more

complete than in the earlier versions.9 Furthermore, this manuscript includes the
complete course of the Oxford dictatores, a nominale, a manière de langage,
an Orthographia gallica, a Donait françois, and a guide to letter writing. At
that point, the rudimentary knowledge of French assumed by the two lines
cited above could no longer be taken for granted.
The place of these two lines varies in the other texts. In one text (Chel­
tenham), these two lines are found after a general introduction to the parts of
the body:

Ore des autres membres du corps,

En descendaunt aval la teste
E n'est pas mester tut a descrivere
Du fraunceis ki chescun seit dire,
Du ventre [...]

In another manuscript these lines follow a more general description of the

author's purpose:

Cestes paroles ensi vous coil,

E l'emcheisun dire vous voil,
Pur meuz acorder en parlance,
E descorder en variaunce.
E n'est pas mester tut a descrivere
Dufraunceis ki chescun seit dire,
Du ventre, dos, ne de Tescine
Espaul, bras, ne la peitrine,
Mes jeo vous frai la mustreisoun
De fraunceis noun pas si commun.

If the confusion presented by the differing manuscripts were not enough, we

might add the inherent contradiction between the text and the presence of
glosses. If these words {ventre, dos, escine, espaul, bras, peitrine) are too well
known to merit attention, why are all of these terms glossed in every manu­
script, even the earliest?

wombe back bac-bon

Du ventre, dos, ne de l'escine
schuldir arme breste
Espaul, bras, ne la peitrine,

Not only is the glossing more complete, but in this manuscript the glossator feels obliged to
explain that mon represents masculine gender and ma represents feminine gender. In spite of
the omission of 11. 81-82, this manuscript does include other references that would indicate
that the student was expected to know some of the words, e.g, Le cole, la gorge et le menton,
Dont le franceis est comun. How common the French is can be judged by the glossing of the
three nouns in the first line. We might also remark the replacement of the typically Anglo-
French spellings mentoun and fraunceis by more standard forms in this later manuscript.
44 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

Therefore, we can conclude that even at the highest levels of the English-born
aristocracy in the mid-13th century, knowledge of French was considered
desirable, but it was definitely a learned second language.10
In a dedicatory letter to Dionysia, included in six of the manuscripts,
Bibbesworth seems to indicate that French is a second language for himself:

Chere soer pur ceo ke vous me pryastes ke jeo meyse en ecryst pur vos enfaunz acune
apryse de fraunceys en breves paroles jeo  fet soulum ceo ke jeo ay aprys, e soulum
ceo ke les paroles me venent en memore ke les enfauns pusent saver les propretez de
choses ke veent, e kaunt deyvent dyre moun e ma, soun e sa, le e la, moy e jeo. (After
1. 20, in Owen's edition)

That French was a second language that had to be learned is also supported by
the observations of Giraldus Cambrensis, who laments the failings of his lazy
nephew in language acquisition, and praises a certain John Blund (see Lefèvre
1973). Blund, by listening carefully to his uncles who had studied in France,
speaks excellent French. Rothwell (1978:1082) points out that this learning
process is a clear indication that the young Blund had not learned French at his
mother's knee, but it may be that Blund has simply profited from the uncles'
knowledge (gained in France) to eliminate the Anglo-French forms he did
learn as a child (see above pp. 24-25 and below, pp. 45-46, for a discussion of
dialectal prestige).
What can we gather from the nature of the vocabulary itself? It has often
been pointed out that the words included in this text relate to country life, and
therefore, it is logical to conclude, that the text was designed to teach the
vocabulary necessary to run an estate. This is precisely Rothwell's conclusion:

What his [Bibbesworth's] English patroness needed, in order to make her children
competent users of French, was the specialized vocabulary which they would have to
master for the running of their estates once they had come of age. To this end Bibbes­
worth provides her with groups of words for parts of the body, for the techniques of
baking, brewing, spinning, fishing, building a house, the names of animals, birds,
flowers, trees, and so forth, often explaining on the way differences in meaning be­
tween groups of homonyms or near homonyms. (Rothwell 1982:282)

This interpretation is confirmed by the juxtaposition of Bibbesworth's treatise

with that of Walter of Henley in the Seiden Supra 74 manuscript. If the later

Kristol concludes that "les nominalia s'adressent sans aucun doute à des nobles qui savent
déjà assez bien le français, mais qui désirent parfaire leurs connaissances et surtout qui veu­
lent l'enseigner à leurs enfants qui grandissent dans un milieu de plus en plus anglophones"
(1989:340). While the second half of this statement is certainly true, the degree of compe­
tence of the parents is certainly open to question. One must also keep in mind the great varie­
ty of the Bibbesworth texts; the goals and the instructional context of the author in the 13th
century, are not those of the users of the text in the 14th and 15th centuries. Kristol takes this
into account for the orthographic treatises, but not for Bibbesworth.

date for the text is assumed to be correct, then the legal practitioners and the
professional managers would be equally served by the text, for a knowledge of
agricultural terms as well as the vocabulary of the building trades was neces­
sary for writing up contracts (see above the examples of building contracts).
As such, Bibbesworth's text could be seen as a sort of primer, preparing
students with the vocabulary to proceed to the legal and managerial treatises
that formed the backbone of legal training in the late 13th century.
These practical goals are supplemented by social goals. Bibbesworth
himself specifies social reasons for learning French:

E tut issint
Troverez-vous le dreit ordre en parler e
en repundre, qe nuls gentils homme coveint
saver. (. 17-20)

One manuscript even adds to this "s'il vielt estre gent homme". Some conver­
sational knowledge of French is necessary for social appearances.11 If Baugh's
date were accurate, this would undoubtedly be true, for this is the time of the
Lusignans in England, when Henry III, following his marriage to Eleanor of
Provence (1236) was inviting wave after wave of Frenchmen into his court
(much to the dismay of that nobility whose French roots were further re­
This conflict between old Norman aristocracy and new French aristocracy,
combined with the growing prestige of the University of Paris, and of French
culture in general, all combined to make the English more self-conscious about
their dialect of French. Apologies for dialectal variation appear from the mid-
12th century (see above p. 24), and Bibbesworth reflects this attitude in his
remarks on continental French, but his own French is highly anglicized, anoth­
er trait that links his work to the legal and managerial use of French at this
time. Sometimes he simply points out that in France a different word is used:

E ambes deus les meins pleins,

Legge (1979:113) cites similar social pressure to speak at least a minimal amount of
French, citing Higden/Trevisa (14th c): "uplondisshe men wil liken hymself to gentilmen, and
fondeth with greet besynesse for to speke French: for to be i-tolde of'.
Besides Henry's marriage to Eleanor of Provence, there was also the marriage of his broth­
er Richard of Cornwall to Sanchia of Provence in 1243. Each of these brides brought with her
a considerable number of family and courtiers. Eleanor's uncle Boniface was named Arch­
bishop of Canterbury and his brother Peter was given the castle of Richmond in 1240. The
elevation of these foreigners to the level of the highest peers was widely resented. This was
followed by another mass immigration after the failed revolt against the French King Louis IX
(Saint Louis) in 1242-3, leading to the "Period of the Lusignans" in England, and a French
presence in the royal court that inspired the same kind of negative reaction the Italian
presence in the French court did three centuries later. During the Barons' War in England
(1258-1267) the new French elements in the court were banished.
46 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

E Francze apel hom galeins. (11. 119-120)

Et si ades petiz peisons

Que en Fraunce apelent gernouns.
(Addition after 11. 540 in mss.  4)

Et quant pleut greie negge e geele

En France dyt hom qu'il trícele.
(Addition after 1. 580 in mss. B)

Un verme ki vert est coluré

En Fraunce est varole nomé. (11. 631-2)

On two other occasions he insists more forcefully on the supreme authority of

continental French:
Littere proprement sanz faille
En pure Fraunce dist hom paille. (11. 399-400)

E tut auxi dit hom laner

Un mal ribaud pautener
Que se retient par cuwardye,
Ou retire ne doit mye.
Et c'est la propre variance
Par droit auctorite de France.
(Addition in mss.  after l. 184)

And finally, he directly criticizes dialectal pronunciation in this passage:

En chaumbre e aillurs ausi
Depeint home ceste oysel alci;
Qe plusours dyent ascye,
Mais droit fraunczois n'est il mye.
(The last two lines are added after 1. 744 in mss.  and C)

Elsewhere in the text he speaks of French as the language best known by the
Sauz i crest, e cheine e yf
De ceo fraunceis n'a guers d'estrif;
Car le langage est ben commune
E de clerck e de clerioune. (11. 699-702)
[clerioune = 'young clerks']

The final complicating factor as we assess the value of this evidence for
determining the linguistic relationships between French and English in 13th-
century England is the variety of the manuscripts. If the work was composed
in the decade from 1240-1250 as Baugh claims, then the earliest manuscript
dates from 50-75 years after composition (assuming the dating of the manu-

scripts in Owen's edition is accurate). Some of the passages cited above to

show uses which the treatise served appear only in one or two of the manu­
scripts. We should note also that the amount of glossing varies enormously
from manuscript to manuscript. In the earliest manuscripts, the glossing is
usually limited to the words at the caesura and at the end of the line. Later
manuscripts start to fill in the rest, until virtually all the words are glossed.
Ultimately, in the version which has been published separately under the title
Femina (Trinity College, Cambridge, B.14.40), rhymed English couplets
alternate with the rhymed French couplets. (Because the Femina can be pre­
cisely dated to 1415, I shall describe its peculiarities fully in the next chapter.)
From the increased use of glosses and from the additions and omissions of
passages cited above, we can trace the weakening of French in England.
All the nominalia were not versified. In the word list of Magdalen 188, a
trilingual Latin-French-English word-list, the vocabulary of clothing and
farming is presented without this mnemonic device. However, the versified
presentation was the preferred style, perhaps reflecting a teaching method that
emphasized learning by rote, and orally. This emphasis on oral skills would
help explain the heavy emphasis in these texts on differentiating homonyms or
near homonyms. If one were starting from a written text, the differences
between livre, lèvre and lièvre would seem obvious; only the two meanings of
livre (differentiated by gender) might cause a problem.

4.3.2 Orthographic Treatises

The orthographic treatises, both the Orthographia galilea and the Tracta­
ms orthographiae (which include far more than orthography), may have
responded to the need for accurate records. Clanchy (1979:101) describes the
concern for accuracy in the scriptoria as well as in the public records.13
The orthographical treatises are the first additions we find to the lexical
guides of the 13th century. While more technical details of the phonetic
descriptions will be treated later (Part II), here we need to consider the follow­
ing questions: 1) How does the nature of the materials help us understand for
whom these treatises were composed? 2) What do the answers to (1) tell us
about the linguistic relations in England in Period III? Even though these texts
stretch into Period IV, I shall deal with all of them here.
The answers to these questions are complicated by the existence of two
distinct though related traditions within these works, and the manuscripts con­
taining them range in date from the end of the 13th century to the first decades


"A great deal of care was taken to check the manuscripts for errors. Some readers emended
texts as they read them. In cathedrals it was the duty of such officials as the chancellor and
the precentor to correct the books in their charge; at Salisbury the income from a virgate of
land was assigned to this specific purpose. In the Exchequer, where errors literally meant
money, Fitz Neal [Dialogus de Scaccario, 1176/77] describes the elaborate provisions for
establishing accurate texts. Similarly in the Chancery the senior clerks were supposed to
check the writs before they were sealed, having regarded them for form {ratio), script {littera),
wording {dictio), and spelling {silla)" (Clanchy 1979:101).
48 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

of the 15th. The first group, of which both works are entitled Tractatus ortho-
graphiae, is comprised of the work of '.., Parisii Studentis' (composed ca.
1300; edited by Pope 1910) and that of Canon M, T. Coyrefully (composed ca.
1400; edited by Stengel 1878). The second group, in which the works are
known as Orthographia gallica, is comprised of the manuscripts edited by
Stürzinger (1884), which range in date from the late 13th century to the early
15th century. The two groups are distinguished by the following characteris­
tics: The first group includes information on dialectal variation, uses vocabu­
lary tied to the dialogue tradition, and is organized in alphabetical order. The
second group omits reference to dialect, uses vocabulary tied to the legal
profession, and includes much more syntactic, morphological and lexical
information. In addition, the second group includes more details of style and
some historical information.
First let us consider the way the rules are formulated and presented. The
texts of Group 1 were both written in Latin. The only French appears in the
examples provided for the rules. This fact, combined with the number of
technical grammatical terms used to explain the rules14, leads me to conclude
that this was composed for the advanced student.
The second aspect to consider is the type of information included. In the
Pope edition, the author explains that he is basing his rules on 'modern prac­
tice and usage' (secundum usum et modum modernorum, both in England and
in France (tarn in partibus transmarinis quam cismarinis). This stated goal
helps explain the variety of information concerning dialect found in these two
texts. T. H, criticizes the Walloon ('Rommant'), Breton and English practice
of adding a syllable to the future tense of avoir:

Item iste dicciones: aura, en array sine e in medio [scribi debent et] sonari, secundum
dulce gallicum, sine  ut sic: aray, en array que indifferenter sic scribi possunt. Tamen
Romanici, Britannici et Angli scribunt easdem dicciones cum e in medio ut aueray,
j'aueray et sic de similibus. (Pope 1910:189)

Later he criticizes Gascon and Anglo-French for retaining t in certain words:

Item secundum gallicum t omittatur in istis diccionibus, liz, pounz, porpoinz, et sic
cetera cum z vel s. Tamen Vasconici et Anglici scribunt cum r, ut amy sount noz litz
faitz, sount noz porpointz prestez quod non est gallicum immo Vasconicum. (Pope

In Coyrefully's additions we find many more comments about Walloon, and

others about Picard, Burgundian, and "Leodii" (from Liège) dialects. He also
favors the dialectal feature of françois, the substitution of z for intervocalic r:

The treatise starts with a definition of vowels and consonants. Other grammatical termi­
nology includes the names of the parts of speech (the Latin list, without articles), including a
division of nouns into substantives and adjectives, and the further division of substantives into
proper and common nouns. Other terminology relating to nouns includes the concept of
gender, number, and case.

R autem infine diccionis indifferenter potest sonari quasi z vel r [...] Set dulcior est
sonus quasi z in lingua gallica quam quasi r. (Coyrefully, in Stengel 1878:18,11. 50-52)

This peculiarity of Parisian dialect was widely condemned later in the gram­
matical treatises of the 16th century (see Joseph 1987).
A second aspect of the contents of the treatises is the inclusion of much
vocabulary which can be tied to the dialogue tradition. The first dialogue
collections which have survived to our day date from much later than T. H.'s
treatise (late 14th century, roughly contemporaneous with Coyrefully), but the
similarities are unmistakable, as in these examples provided to demonstrate
words in which final t is pronounced in word-final position:
as tu fait prest nostre sopere?15
il prent deux marcz par an
nos vesins nous ayment ben
il boit trope hault
il puit malement

As well as these full-sentence examples taken from elsewhere in the treatise:

Sauez vouz faire un chauncoun?16
Sauez vous traire del ark?
Sauez vous raire la barbe?
vous avez assez de viand
jeo sui assez ben ame de mes servauntz

And this insult:

fel de makerell mauez est17

Note the anglicism here: "to make ready" > faire prest. Meyer (1873:379) points out a
number of anglicisms in the dialogues contained in British Library, Harley 3988 and Oxford
All Souls 182. In Meyer (1873:391) we find a similar phrase: "Janyn est nostre souper tout
prest encores?"
The reference to singing may be inspired by the frequent insertion of songs into the dia­
logues used for instruction. See for example the drinking song found in Meyer (1873:386-7)
as well as other examples in the same manuscript (pp. 390, 391, 401, 404). The extant
manuscripts of those dialogues date from a century after the date Pope assigned to the Tracta-
tus orthographiae of T. H. Another possible source for these references to song-making
might be the founding of the pui of London, an association formed to encourage the art of the
chanson. See Jusserand (1895:355-6).
This is reminiscent of the collection of insults found in the "Autre manier de language a
parler des hourdeus et de trufes et tensons" (Stengel 1878:11).
50 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

Again, Coyrefully expands on these models, with such sentences as:

il en y a des femmes en ce pais icy que sont bien richez merchantz.
j'en ay veu beaucop de gens huy ou marchee
monsieur vous ottroit de vous donner deux nobles d'or
The final element of the contents which we need to consider is the nature
of the rules themselves. One would expect a treatise on orthography to de­
scribe the ways of spelling various sounds. Instead, we find these treatises
concentrating on the ways that different letters are pronounced. The bulk of
the comments concern letters that are written but not pronounced, or are
pronounced with a sound judged the true province of another letter. A is
sometimes pronounced like an e, l is sometimes pronounced like a u. If one
were really interested in teaching orthography, one would start with the sound
and show the ways in which the sound can be represented by letters. However,
our authors reverse the order: they start with the letter and shows the sounds
that it can represent. Those comments which do treat true spelling problems do
not approach them from the standpoint of sound-letter correspondence, but
rather as idiosyncratic lexical items/ 9
The sum of these characteristics leads us to conclude that these two trea­
tises of Group 1 were designed more for the business course than the law
course. The lexical similarity of the examples in these orthographic treatises to
the dialogues, which are concerned with such practical matters as finding
one's way or a room in the inn, and the emphasis on producing oral French
rather than written both support this interpretation. Finally, the interest in the
variety of continental French, particularly the dialects spoken in the main
trading areas (Walloon and Picard) confirms this conclusion.
The texts of Group 2 give evidence of a somewhat different use. These
treatises, we learn from the French comments found in Harley 4971, are

Similarly in T. H.'s treatise: "beaucop dez femmes en Loundrez sount merchauntz" (Rule
15b in Pope 1910:192)

For example:

Item hec diccio doulz in masculino genere et neutro debet scribi cum x in fine et cum fuerit
feminini generis cum e. (T. H., rule 18b; Pope 1910:193)

Ista diccio ovec diversis modis potest scribi ut oveque, oveques sine s in medio. (T. H., rule
19; Pope 1910:193)

composed for diteors and escriptours.20 In their most general sense, these two
terms mean nothing more than 'orators' and 'writers'. In the context of the
times, however, these designate specific legal functionaries. Diteors are those
who make an accusation and escriptours are those who write escripts, that is,
"a written document, especially an obligation or contract" (Middle English
Dictionary; the English equivalent is 'writ' as in 'writ of habeas corpus'). 21
The author of the Harley manuscript also states that he is adding some expla­
nation for the benefit of his young charges: "ceste reule est auqes obscure pur
jeosne gentz, purceo est mester qele soit pluis overtement clarifiez" (H7;
Stiirzinger 1884:4). Thus, this kind of orthographic treatise is designed for
young men learning to practice law, both in its oral (diteors) and written
(escriptours) forms. This use is confirmed by the other texts found in the
manuscript Cambridge E.e.4.20, which includes the text of the Husbandry, the
work on estate management composed ca. 1300.
Looking again at the features of the Group 1 texts, we can compare the
language of the rules, the attitude towards dialect, the vocabulary of the
examples, and the nature of the rules to see if the texts in Group 2 do indeed
address the special needs of the English legal community of the 14th century.
First, the language of the rules. The earliest (and by far the shortest at 27 rules)
text of Group 2 is the Tower of London manuscript. Written entirely in Latin,
it includes very few French examples, only three of them complete
sentences.22 In the manuscript of the British Library, Harley 4971 (composed
ca. 1377), not only are the French examples far more numerous, but approxi­
mately a third of the rules are provided in French. Finally, the Cambridge
University Library E.e.4.20 and the Oxford, Magdalen College 188 manu-

Et bons ditours eschueront de faire nulle vowel sivre altre en paroules come solempne bone
est. Mes altrefoithe lour vient faire parler lour nature honestement. (H40a; Stürzinger

Auxint les nons adjectyfs et tiels nons sustentifs qe fineront el singuler en r, eles fineront el
plurell en s ou en z a la volonte del escriptour come tenements ou tenemenz. (H38; Stiirzinger
In the Middle English Dictionary (ed. by Kurath et al), the following example is provided
from Robert Mannyng de Brunne's Handlyng Synne: "What shul we sey of thys dytours...that
for hate a trewman wyl endyte?" In Trevisa the ditours are grouped with advoketes. On the
continent the word simply means "auteur, compositeur, poète" (Godefroy). I think that the
Anglo-Norman Dictionary misses the significance of this term when it translates the use of
ditours in the orthographia gallica as "author, writer" (p. 192).
Of these three sentences, the first smacks of the semantic debates of scholastic logic, which
so often concern the extension of quantifiers like some, many, all: meyntfeme est bone. The
second is proverbial: mieuz vaut boyr apres manger que devant. Proverbs were often used as
legal argument (see the legal debate between the Owl and the Nightingale mentioned above),
and proverbs figure heavily in all medieval curricula (cf. the popularity of Cato's Distichs).
The third is an order: pur Dieu, sire, Williaume,fetes [] talent.
52 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

scripts, both dating from the 15th century, are written entirely in Latin, al­
though the use of French examples is closer to the Harley manuscript, and in
these two we find occasional English translations of the words cited as exam­
ples. In the language of the rules and the number of examples we detect a
slight move toward French in Group 2.
In the manuscripts of Group 2 we find none of the interest in dialect
evinced by those of Group 1. For the lawyer in England, the only important
dialect is that of Law French. No distinction is made even between insular and
continental French. Instead of the description of the French language tarn in
partibus transmarinis quam cismarinis, instead of the description of the lan­
guage of the Gallici (Romanici, Vasconici, etc.), the authors refer only to
gallice ('in French'), or usum lingue gallicane ('according to usage of the
French language').
While excluding dialect, the authors concentrate on the specific vocabu­
lary of the legal profession. Legal terminology is frequently cited to support
the rules:

a vous seignour, sire Justice; a les Justices
je m'affie
du dit portour
enfraignez covenaunt
i'ay mys mon seal a ycestes

The only type of example which shows affinity with the dialogue source of
many examples in Group 1 is the salutation, which would be equally necessary
in the two professions. Thus in Group 1 we find "Dieux vous beneit monsieur
et la compaignie" (Coyrefully in Stengel 1878:19, 1. 55) and in Group 2 "A
vous sire et a ma tres honuree dame vostre compaigne jeo me recommant"
(Harley 4971, paragraph 67a; Stürzinger 1884:22). These tie in just as well
with the epistolary tradition (of which more below).
As for the nature and content of the rules themselves, five key elements
distinguish Group 2 from Group 1. First, in Group 2 a number of rules do start
from the sound and proceed to its representation (although rules going in the
other direction are still more common). The authors of Group 2 start their
treatises with a description of the different ways the sounds of e should be
represented in writing:

Diccio Gallice dictata habens primam sillabam vel mediam in e stricto ore pronuncia-
tam requirit hanc litteram i ante e in scriptum verbi gracia bien, rien, chien.

Set si autem hee vocalis e pronuncietur acute per se stare debet sine hujus vocalis i
precessione, verbi gracia bevez, menez, tenez, pernez.

Preterea diccio terminata in e plene pronunciata si sit feminini generis debet scribi cum
e duplicata in fine verbi gracia femme amee, douee et enseignee et similia.

Set quando semiplene pronunciatur non geminetur e verbi gracia Meinte femne est bone.
(Harley 4971, rules H1, H2, 5, 6; Stürzinger 1884:2-3)

Thus the apprentice lawyer, or the court recordkeeper, would have an indica­
tion of how to transcribe the pleadings they heard.
The second difference is that we find more rules which relate more strictly
to orthography. These rules in Group 1 tended to be presented in function of
idiosyncratic lexical items. In these treatises, the rules are more general:
Item quandocumque hec littera n scribitur post g, non debet prescribí come signifiant.
(H82, Stürzinger 1884:26-27)23

Item post substantiva que terminant in te vel duplici  jungas z sicut feez amistez
bountez leez et post sermones terminantes in d scribe z come redz bledz. (H93;
Stürzinger 1884:7)

This concern with proper written form is also seen in an emphasis on style and
form which goes beyond the alternation of i and y mentioned in the treatises of
Group 1. Thus the authors explain that the massive use of abbreviations in
Latin is not acceptable in French:
Et sachez qe Fraunceis ne serra pas escript si courtement come Latyn, qar Fraunceis
demande paroules entiers. (H98; Stürzinger 1884:16)

They also provide rules for the proper use of capital letters and hyphenation:
Item omnia nomina et cognomina tam locorum quam hominum, nomina eciam officii
et dignitatis et principia clausularum secularium dominancium debent scribi cum lit­
tera capitali et maxime in littera curiali. (H70; Stürzinger 1884:25-26)

Item in fine linee, si necesse fuerit, potest diccio dissilabari, sed sillaba nullo modo
separatur. (T23; Stürzinger 1884:29)

These features, relating to written form rather than orthography or pronuncia­

tion, reflect the formal precision of the legal writ.
The fourth difference between the two groups is the wealth of syntactic
and morphological information provided in the treatises of Group 2. The
author of the Harley manuscript, for example, explains the difference between
tonic and clitic pronouns in his rules 42 and 43:
Auxint vous escriverez altrefoithe moy altrefoithe me come si rien soit devers moy et
m recommandetz a un tel, issint qe par tot le pluis qant ascun datyf s'ensuyt Tacusatif
de moi toy soy, ils serrant tornez en me te se.
Et sachetz qe le nominatyf et l'acusatyf de ego mei, secunde et tercie persone el sin-
guler serrant escriptz me te se, si nuil tel signe destourbe corne devers moy devant toy
et alie preposiciones. (Stürzinger 1884:20)

This rule is designed to combat the tendency of scribes to write ngn in this context, e.g.,
54 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

After a preposition (the 'case sign' referred to in the second rule), one uses the
tonic form of the pronoun. Declension of pronouns was maintained in Law
French even though normal declension was not (Baker 1979:18). Other rules
explain the nature of agreement:

Item meus tuus suus quando adjunguntur masculino generi, debent scribi mon, ton,
son, quando feminino ma ta sa. (H84-H85; Stürzinger 1884:27)

The maintenance of gender agreement was more important to Law French

because other indications of gender (such as final unstressed e) were often
ignored (Baker 1979:19). Thus, these rules include more grammatical infor­
mation than those presented in Group 1.
The final point of dissimilarity between the two groups is the inclusion, in
Group 2, of items meant to improve the students' vocabulary. In the middle of
the Oxford and Harley manuscripts the authors insert paragraphs on the many
ways to translate the English word red, and the Cambridge and Oxford manu­
scripts add a number of French equivalents for breke. These vocabulary
lessons are directly related to similar passages in Bibbesworth's treatise of the
previous century.

Purceo entendez qe dirres rougs homme, chival Veez ci veine devaunt vous
rous, harang sor, escue de goules, vin vermail Un chivaler bieau tut rous,
rose [vermaile], drap rouge, mes ceo ne dy jeo Qui une destrere sor se est munté
mye pur 1 'ortografie mes pur la diversite de Esku de goules ad porté,
ceste paroule Engleys red qui ad taunt de Un launce rouge en l'uyn mein
nounes. (H9; Stürzinger 1884:17) De vin vermaille l'autre plain.
Qui ne maniuwe point de peschoun
Si de le harane sor noun.

Item pro isto verbo anglico breke: fruchez Frusses ceo pain qi vent de fourn;
chaud payn, debrisez l' os, rumpez la corde, Debruses cel os de venour;
enfraignez covenaunt, debrisez la hanap. Rumpes la cord qe fet nusaunce;
(C088; Stürzinger 1884:17) Enfreines covenaunt de decavaunce.
(11. 1053-1056)

Similar passages are found in the nominale edited by Skeat:

Homme et femme si est rous
Chival soor si soit pilous
De goules homme porte lescu
De rouge launce homme est feru
Vyn vermaile est bon claret (11. 634-642)

Frussez tiel payn qe vient de four

Brusez les qauous de veneour
Rumpez la corde qe fait nousaunce
Freynez la covenant de deteynance [deceyuance?]
De coudre depessez la noy's
Quassez le hay et entrom en bois. (11. 604-614)

The Cambridge and Oxford manuscripts also distinguish between the French
homonyms or near-homonyms, again in the tradition of Bibbesworth: oez and
oeps, vys and huys, kynil and henil, estreym and estreyn, daym and dayn.
Finally, they counsel students to learn the difference between apprendre,
prendre and reprendre (without explaining what the difference is). It is worth
noting that all of these groupings have at least one element with legal signifi­
cance. For example, oeps means 'profit, use' and occurs in the Law French
phrase al oeps 'to the use of' (Baker 1979:151). Huys means 'door' and occurs
in legal terminology relating to the marriage ceremony: al huis del mouster
(Baker 1979:124).
The orthographic treatises of Group 2 cover a broader range of problems
for the student of French - syntactic, morphological, lexical and stylistic - a
range that indicates a different goal for the work. The texts of Group 2 suggest
that students needed formal revision of subject matter deemed unessential in
the texts of Group 1. The one-directional nature of the rules and the lexical
content of the examples in Group 1 shows a primary interest in trade rather
than in precise legal documents. One might compare the texts of Group 1,
allied with the manières de langage, to a modern-day Berlitz course, while the
texts of Group 2, linked with the texts on conveyancing and letter-writing,
resemble more closely a modern-day program in Business and Legal French.
What then do these aspects of the orthographic treatises tell us about the
linguistic relations between French and English and about the instruction of
French in the 14th century? If these texts were used to teach French, and there
seems little doubt of that, then French was being taught through the medium of
Latin (and sometimes English, as seen in the examples of Group 2), i.e., after
the students had already learned Latin. Stevenson, citing T r e v i s a ' s
interpolation in the translation of Higden's Polychronicon (ca. 1385), places
the change in the language of instruction at about 1350:

This manere was moche y-used tofore the furste moreyn [the Black Death], and ys
56 PERIOD III (1258-1362)

sethe somdel ychaunged. For Iohan Cornwal, a mayster of gramere chayngede the lore
in gramer-scole, and construccion of Freynsch into Englysch; and Richard Pencrych
lurnede that manere of techyng of hym, and other men of Pencrych. So that now, in the
yer of our Lord a thousond three hondred foure score and fyve, of the seconde kyng
Richard after the conquest nyne, in al the gramer-scoles of Engelond children leveth
Frensch and construeth and lurneth an Englysch, and habbeth therby avauntage in on
syde and desavauntage yn another. (Roll Series ii.157; cited in Stevenson 1901:422)

The evidence of the orthographic treatises raises some doubts concerning the
true language of instruction. If Latin were used to teach French, then what
language was used to teach Latin? From the arrangement of lexical treatises
like Bibbesworth's, and the orthographic treatises like the ones we have just
considered, we must conclude that English had replaced French at the most
elementary levels well before the mid-14th-century date Trevisa has handed
down to us. 24 It is possible that knowledge of some French was an entrance
requirement for the university preparatory classes described in Stevenson
(1901:423-4), just as Latin was a requirement for entrance into the university
proper. This, in turn, may help explain the necessity of statutes against the use
of English (much as one finds in some modern-day language immersion

There is contradictory evidence. Richardson notes that some of Sampson's students found
French an easier medium than Latin to learn his course of business studies.

je ferray la prologe devant en franceis, a cause qe lez escolers, qi sont si tenuement

lettres, purront le pluys legerement entendre les reulez en fraunceys q'en latyn. (From
a manuscript dated . 1396; Richardson 1942:335)

Perhaps the contradiction can be explained away by the continuing strength of French in
communities where large numbers of craftsmen and merchants from Flanders settled on the
invitation of Edward III in the 1330s and 1340s. The children of these parts of the bour­
geoisie would have a specia' interest in the business curriculum offered by Sampson.

Stevenson contests the 13th-century date proposed for one such statute on the basis that it
would have been unnecessary at that period because everyone still spoke French. It is clear,
from the evidence provided above, that one cannot take for granted such a solid grounding in
French in the 13th century. I cite here Stevenson's complete note on the matter:

There is an Oxford statute in Anstey's Munimenta Academica, p. 438, which enjoins

Masters of Grammar 'attendere, quod scolares sui regulam observent vel in Latinis vel
in Romanis, prout exigunt status diversi; non observantes verum puniantur; tenentur
etiam construere, necnon construendo significationes dictionum docere in Anglico et
vicissim in Gallico, ne i'la lingua Gallica penitus sit omissa.' The editor ascribes this
to the thirteenth century (p. lxx) but the clause 'ne illa lingua penitus sit omissa' is not

The new materials for the instruction of French in Period III provide
several important indications of the position of French at this time. By the
mere fact of their existence, they demonstrate that French was a learned
second or third language. By the nature of their structure and examples, they
reflect the primary uses of French, legal and commercial.

4.4 Conclusions: Period 

In the time between Henry Ill's first royal document in the vernacular
languages of his country, and Edward Ill's decree that all legal activity should
be carried on in the language of the majority of his subjects, the French lan­
guage enjoyed one last (and lasting) success, before definitively losing its
status both as a vernacular and as a social necessity. This one success was in
the law, where Latin was dropped in favor of French at the end of Henry Ill's
reign and through the reign of Edward I, the 'English Justinian'. As one
advances through the 14th century, the evidence mounts that French is at best
a second language, or even a third language for learned Englishmen, and was
more than likely little known to all, noble and common, except for legal
formulae memorized by those who had need to know them. This steady retreat
was accompanied by the creation of the French course as a supplementary
legal and business curriculum while students were enrolled at Oxford. The
purposes for which French instruction was needed, and the assumptions the
grammar masters could make about the level of French their students pos­
sessed determined the contents and the format of the materials. When French
was still holding on in the highest levels of society, instruction was limited to
vocabulary development through the glossaries and nominalia. When the level
of French dropped, instruction in the proper oral interpretation of the letters
became necessary, and was provided by the early treatises on orthography.
When the level fell yet further, these lessons had to be supplemented by
comments on morphology and syntax. This is the status of French instruction
at the beginning of Period IV, when the further decline of French inspires the
masters to fill in the remaining gaps of their instructional program.


compatible with what we know of the extensive use of French by Englishmen in that
century. It would seem that the statute, or at all events this portion of it, is subsequent
in date to the introduction of English into legal proceedings, &c, and therefore can
hardly be earlier than the latter part of the fourteenth century. (Stevenson 1901:421)

In fact, the statute seems perfectly in accord with what we have found, and confirms the
necessity of instruction in French, either from English, or from Latin.


In 1362, Parliament passed a statute that French no longer be the language

of government and of the legal system, because that language was too poorly
understood. Typical of the contradictions which abound in this domain, the
statute was recorded in French. These contradictions have continued to baffle
modern scholars. Suggett claims that "in the sixteen years from 1369 to 1384
[...] French was as extensively used in England as at any period" (1946:79). If
this were the case, then the rapid decline of French in official and unofficial
activity would be all the more astonishing, for she herself notes that immedi­
ately following that 16-year period French "almost abruptly [...] ceased to be a
living language [in England]" (Suggett 1943:229).
The facts, as we have seen in the preceding sections, point to a more
reasonable turn of events. French had ceased to be a living vernacular long
before this. What we witness in Period IV is the culmination of the decline,
hastened by the demographic consequences of the Black Death, the forces of a
nascent nationalism, and the economic, social and political impact of the
Hundred Years' War.
The Plague reached England in 1348 and by the end of 1349 had reduced
the population by a third in that one occurrence. But there were more. The
Plague of 1361 was particularly devastating to the upper classes, and other
outbreaks occurred in 1368-69, 1375, and 1390-91.1 This devastating disease
struck the final blows against the French language, weakening the former
strongholds of that language to the point where they could no longer resist the
advance of English. The first stronghold of French was the seat of power, the

For details of the series of calamities to befall the English, and their effect on the religious houses,
see Power (1964:177-182).

government and the legal system, where French was already artificially main­
tained. The ravages of the plague, in combination with the prosperity engen­
dered by the Hundred Years' War, furnished the middle classes and lower
classes, again English monolinguals, with the opportunity and the wealth to
gain access to power. The middle classes profited from the booming wool and
wine trade while the lower classes took advantage of the dearth of workers to
demand higher wages, and laws such as the Statute of Laborers (1351) failed
to check these demands (Thompson 1931:390). In the Church, the plague
depleted the educated population of the monasteries and convents, opening the
door to poorer, less well-educated English monolinguals.2
To replenish the number of priests, clerks, lawyers and businessmen well-
enough educated to carry on the business of the day new colleges were found­
ed at Oxford (Canterbury, founded in 1361 and, appropriately enough 'New
College', founded in 1379) at Cambridge (Gonville (1349), Trinity College
(1350) and Corpus Christi (1352)). These new colleges served a new clientele,
and Lytle has suggested that the creation of these colleges was a conscious
effort to create an administrative meritocracy based on education rather than
landed inheritance (Lytle 1978:428).3 The students at New College through

Interestingly, this seems to have had a more devastating effect on the recruitment of men than on
the recruitment of women. This is not because nunneries were any less affected by the scourge of the
plague, but more because nuns, not being so urgently needed to administer the sacraments and run
the affairs of state, could afford to continue their exclusionary admission practices (see Power
1964:13-14). Although we noted above (Chapter4,note 3) an exception made to admit an uneducat­
ed nun, more often French seems to have continued in the nunneries longer than elsewhere. Gardiner
(1929:165) reports that even at the time of the Dissolution (1536), John Ap Rice, an agent of
Cromwell, found that the inmates of Lacock Abbey spoke aFrench superior to the crude Law French
of his day.
Already in 1337 Edward III had recognized the utility of expanding the educational system
to provide more and better educated administrators for the realm. With this in mind he estab­
lished King's Hall, Cambridge in that year (Coleman 1981:31-32). I cite here Coleman's
description of this process (p. 32):

The late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries saw the founding of Oxford and Cambridge
colleges, in part to answer the need for lodging and financing secular scholars who were
prepared to continue their studies beyond the first degree. By offering a relatively large
number of postgraduate fellowships, the King's Hall, Cambridge, came to be known as the
preserve of lawyers. Its graduate fellows, who were largely recruited from the upper strata
in society, werefrequentlynon-resident civil lawyers, employed by the Church and by the
king throughout the country and abroad. With the plague of 1349 cutting short the lives of
a generation of scholars and administrators, these colleges were increasingly seen as the
primary source for administrative and legal personnel. In the second half of the fourteenth
century there was a marked increase in the number of fellows who acquired second de-
60 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

Period IV are overwhelmingly the sons of small landholders or of the urban

bourgeoisie. The higher ranks of the aristocracy and the urban patriciate are
poorly represented.
Part of developing merit was developing one's ability in French, so along­
side these colleges grew up the professional training schools of such men as
Thomas Sampson and William of Kingsmill, and with them the creation of a
full program in French. Instruction in French was necessary because for these
classes of Englishmen French was usually a third language, after English and
Latin. Most of the new students knew no French, as we learn in Langland's
Piers Plowman (late 14th c ) , where the character Anima laments that "nouyt
on amonge an hundredth [of the new clerks] an auctor can construe, Ne rede a
lettre in any langage, but in Latyn or in Englissh" (B XV 368-370; cited in
Coleman 1981:35). In some cases French may precede Latin, as we see in
Sampson's prologue to one of his manuscripts. I have suggested earlier that
French may have remained stronger, or been re-introduced, by the arrival of
merchants and craftsmen from Flanders during the second quarter of the 14th
The second factor which worked against French at this time was the rising
tide of nationalism. Above (pp. 34-35) we noted the nationalistic pleas of
Edward I and Edward III to defend the English language against the French.
The economic and social transformation that established the middle class as a
force in English life also led to an awakening of national consciousness, and a
dislike of all things foreign, including foreign languages (Galbraith 1941:124).
In the course of the 14th century, chroniclers such as Higden, Holkot and the
Pseudo-Ingulf rail against the subjugation of English. Higden calls the mixture
of the French and English tongues "agenst the usage and manere of alle othere
naciouns" (cited in Berndt 1972:347-8). Early on (ca. 1300), the author of the
Cursor mundi, noting that the French have never bothered learning English,
suggests that each land have its own language for "thenne do we noon out­
rage" (cited in Berndt 1972:348; see also Barnie 1974:101-2). Galbraith claims
that the union of nationalism and the vernacular in England dates only from
the reign of Henry V (1413-1422). Although that was certainly a high point of
such feeling, it is a sentiment already widespread by 1362 (see Barnie
1974:97-116 and Richter 1979 for further discussion of nationalism in 14th-
century England).
At the same time as this nationalism, and linguistic nationalism in particu­
lar, nourished, the formal study of French reached its peak. The primary
reasons for this are trade, which we have already discussed in Chapter 4, and


grees in civil and canon law; in fact, 58 per cent of all second degrees taken in this period
were law degrees and the majority were in civil law.

the Hundred Years' War, which deserves further attention at this point. The
Hundred Years' War was, at its origin, a trade war, with England and France
battling for control of the profitable woolen trade located in Flanders. In the
first part of the war (from the first hostilities in 1338 to the signing of the
Treaty of Bretigny in 1360), England first established the superiority of its
naval forces at the Battle of Sluys (1340) and then of its ground forces at
Crécy (1346) and Poitiers (1356), at which battle the French king and many of
his lords were captured and held for ransom. By the time of Charles V's acces­
sion (1360), the French king held little more than the Ile de France, a true
island of French control wedged between the powerful duchy of Burgundy and
the English holdings. The Treaty of Bretigny granted England the provinces
of Gascony, Guienne, Poitou, Périgord, Quercy, Saintonge, Rouergue, Age-
nois, Limousin and Bigorre. The results of these conquests was that the Eng­
lish had a great deal of territory to govern in France. To govern French territo­
ry they needed people who could speak French. The Black Prince needed
administrators who could collect the fouage tax he imposed on his territories in
Guienne and Gascony. Although English fortunes would ebb during the reign
of Charles V (with Du Guesclin's reconquest of the South and West of
France), they flowed back with Henry V's invasion of Normandy (1415; battle
of Agincourt) culminating with Henry's triumphant entrance into Paris Sep­
tember 1, 1420. According to the Treaty of Troyes (1420), after the death of
Henry V of England and Charles VI of France (both in 1422), the son of
Henry and Catherine of France (Henry VI) was to rule both countries. But
Henry VI was only 10 months old at this point, so the English administration
of France fell into the hands of John, Duke of Bedford. The greatest efforts
were made in Normandy, where English colonists settled and an English
administration was in operation by 1419. Serving in this colonial administra­
tion, particularly its military force, was good motivation for learning French,
just at the time when the domestic motivations were fading.
McFarlane (1981:151-174) describes the appeal of the English campaign
and colonial administration in Normandy for the young, landless entrepre­
neurs. The contract of 'brothers-in-arms' signed by Nicholas Molyneux and
John Winter, "free-lance adventurers who looked to war as a short-cut to
fortune and took temporary service wherever they could, mercenaries whose
gentility, if they lived to achieve it, was won by the sword alone" (p. 154).
Such adventurers were not usually disappointed, for

France, its piecemeal conquest by battle and siege, its vacant fiefs, its garrisoning, its
government, its exploitation in every possible way offered more lucrative openings
than had existed since 1204 for those thrusting adventurers who were able and willing
to turn their hand both to war and administration. (McFarlane 1981:155)

Waugh (1925) describes the first few years of this administration, pointing out
62 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

that while the English governors preferred to use French civil administrators in
Normandy, the military administration in the region was English, as were the
troops. The ultimate failure of the English enterprise returned to England in
the 1430s a bitterly disappointed and mutinous army, whose presence contrib­
uted to the civil disturbances of the last years of Henry VI's reign. The failure
also spelled the end of English use of French for administrative purposes in
This administrative incentive for learning French is reflected in the dia­
lects chosen for instruction. Instead of the emphasis on Walloon, Picard and
Gascon found in earlier texts, dialects favored by the commercial relations of
England before the Hundred Years' War, now we find more emphasis on the
prestigious dialect, françois (francien). The change in emphasis is already
evident in the various manuscripts of Bibbesworth's treatise, and it becomes
only more pronounced in the dialogues, grammars and orthographical treatises
which appear at the very end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th.
Another indication of the influence of affairs in France on the instruction of
French is the inclusion of dialogues relating to highwaymen and brigands,
whose presence was especially felt in the Normandy that was supposedly
under British control.
The loss of these French territories in the 1430s and 1440s corresponding­
ly led to a progressive decline in the use and study of French towards the end
of this period. Already by the end of the 14th century, English completely
replaced French as the literary language of the island, a change in which lin­
guistic nationalism, ignorance of French, and the increasing literacy of all
classes played an important part. The crucial changes in the administrative use
of French came in the period from 1430-1450, when the difficulties of colonial
administration and the changing tide of the Hundred Years' War made it clear
that England would have to abandon its vision of cross-channel empire. The
dream evaporated in the heat of Joan of Arc's martyrdom, and by the official
end of the war, England retained on the continent only the port city of Calais.
The combination of circumstances which worked against continuing the
French language in England, worked for the instruction of French to the ambi­
tious members of the lower and middle classes in England. While nationalism
and the Black Death broke down the last strongholds of the French language in
government and culture, commercial and military opportunities encouraged the
study of French among those to whom the doors of power were opened.
However, once the knowledge of French became less important for that type
of advancement, the language retreated to the narrow confines of its role as an
aristocratic accomplishment.
5.1 Official and unofficial uses of French

The statute of 1362 was the first step in the transformation of the language
of government, but its importance can be overestimated. First, the language of
the law had only a century earlier come to be French, and this had had little
effect on the language of testimony. Second, in spite of this statute, French
(after a fashion) continued to be the language of pleading until the 18th cen­
tury. A close reading of the crucial passages may prove useful in determining
what the aims of Edward's decree were, and how the decree affected the lin­
guistic relations of the time.

Pur ce qe monstrè est souventefoitz au Roi par prelatz, ducs, counts, barons et toute la
commune, les grantz meschiefs qe sont advenuz as plusours du realme de ce qe les
leyes, custumes et estatuz du dit realme ne sont pas conuz communement en mesme le
realme,parcause q'ils sont pledez, monstrez et juggez en lange Franceis q'est trop
desconue en dit realme, issint qe les gentz qi pledent ou sont empledez en les courtz le
Roi et les courtz d'autres n'ont entendement ne conissance de ce q'est dit por eulx ne
contre eulx par lour sergeantz et autres pledours [...] Le Roi [...] a oodeigné et establi
[...] qe toutes plées qe seront a pleer en ses courts qelconques, devant ses Justices
queconques, ou en ses autres places [...] ou en les Courts et places des autres seignurs
qeconques deinz le realme, soient pledetz,monstretz,defenduz, responduz, debatuz et
juggez en la lange engleise; et q'ils soient entreez et enrouliez en latin. (36 Edward III,
stat. i, Chapter 15, 'Statutes of the Realm')

The statute starts with an admission that virtually no one understands French,
confirming our earlier statements and contradicting the claims of those such as
Suggett who argue for widespread bilingualism in the 14th century.4 Yet not
many knew Latin at this time either, particularly with the breakdown of the
educational system at the time of the Black Death, and this statute is no threat
to Latin. All laws, pleas, and decisions will be formally recorded in Latin. This
is not primarily an attack on learned languages, but on the misuse of one
learned language. What is important is that the French language has been used
by the legal professionals to commit grantz meschiefs. The statute of 1362 is

Although Rothwell usually argues on the other side of this debate, he does report the use of
French, apparently as an everyday vernacular, among local officials in Kent in the period
1350-1380 (Rothwell 1983:263). The register of Daniel Rough, Common Clerk of Romney,
passes between French and Latin quite easily, and shows a much better French than is
commonly found even a century earlier. This reflects the geographical division noted earlier
(p. 10), and may reflect also the influence of the importation of Walloon cloth-makers into
this region in the 14th century, after Edward III banned the exportation of English wool to
Flanders in 1337 (see Thompson 1931:85).
64 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

an attempt to curb the abuses of the legal monopoly, a mere century after it was
created. Even by the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) complaints about the
duplicity of the legal class had become quite common,5 The chief instrument
of duplicity was the French language, in particular the Law French, which
would have been incomprehensible to the native French speaker. Legal chi­
canery, not the French language, is the target of this statute. Moreover, Latin,
not English, was the primary beneficiary of the statute. Baker notes that "its
principal effect on the law, no doubt unintended, was to ensure the survival of
Latin and to invalidate record entries in English" (1979:9-10). This may not
have been so unintended. If professional privilege is being attacked through
the nationalistic claim that one vernacular is as good as another, what better
way to protect that professional status than to substitute an even more authori­
tative language for either of the vernaculars?
While the statute proved to have little effect on the legal profession and
the language of the law, it did serve the purpose of encouraging the use of
English by discouraging the use of French in a host of other functions. Al­
though the official language of Parliament remained French, Fisher (1977:879)
concludes that "the discussions of Parliament were already being carried on at
least partly in English, although recorded by the clerks in the traditional lan-

For further discussion of irregularity in pleading, see Pollock & Maitland (1905,II:614 ff).
This attack on the legal profession had been building, and would continue to grow, culminat­
ing in Wat Tyler's appeal for the death of all legal professionals (1381; see Cohen 1929:450).
Already in 1330 the King asked that someone not guilty of legal malpractice be sent to Par­
liament from Lancaster, and in 1350 he went a step further, ordering the Sheriff of Kent to
have two people elected who were not lawyers or others who made their living through the
law. Finally in 1372 the King turned to statutory law to ban lawyers from Parliament. Gow-
er's Mirour de l' Omme (ca. 1376) and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (ca. 1390; see especially
the "Sergeant of the Lawe" and "The Manciple") reflect the literary attitudes towards legal
practitioners (see Cohen 1929:474-497). Another example, taken from the popular political
songs, is this description of the 'contours' (pleaders):

And countours in benche that stondeth at the barre,

Theih wolen bigile the in thin hond, but if thu be the warre.
He wol take .xl. pans for to do doun his hod,
And speke for the a word or to, and don the litel god, I trouwe.
And have he turned the bak, he makketh the a mouwe.

Attourneis in cuntré theih geten silver for noht;

Theih maken men biginne that nevere hadden thouht;
And whan theih comen to the ring, hoppe if hii kunne.
All that theih muwen so gete, al thinketh hem i-wonne wid skile.
Ne triste no man to hem, so false theih beth in the bile.
(Cited in Wright 1839:339)

guages" The Rolls of Parliament report that the Parliament was opened in
English in 1363, 1364 and 1381. The first English-language petition to the
king, an enclosure to a Privy Seal warrant to the chancellor from John Drayton
and his wife Margery King, appears in 1344, but these were exceedingly rare
until the 1380s, when we find, for example, an English petition to Parliament,
on behalf of the Mercers' guild (1386) (Emerson 1916:141 and Suggett
1946:70). The following year saw the first English-language proclamation to
the citizens of London (Suggett 1946:77). Similarly, the first English will was
recorded in 1387 (Suggett 1946:72).6 But movement was slow; there was not a
decisive turning point in this battle, but rather a long offensive against legal
and linguistic privilege. The last French petitions are recorded in 1447 (Sug­
gett 1946:70). The first English Privy Seal writ dates from 1422, and the last
French one from 1462 (Suggett 1946:62). In the 1420s the London Brewers'
Guild changed the language of its official records from French to English,
citing the incomprehensibility of Latin and English to the majority of their

there are many in our craft [...] who have the knowledge of reading and writing in the
said English idiom, but in others, to wit, the Latin and the French, [...] they do not in
any wise understand (cited in Berndt 1972:355)

The changeover in the language of wills is seen in a comparison of Sir John Cavendish's
will (1381) with that of Anne, Countess of Stafford, fifty years later (this comparison is found
in McFarlane 1973:241). Sir John, a Chief Justice who was hanged during the Peasants'
Revolt, began his will in Latin and then switched to French, because he felt more comfortable
in that language:

Et quia lingua gallica amicis meis et eciam mihi plus est cognita et magis communis et
nota quam lingua latina, totum residuum testamentum mei predicti in linguam gallicam
scribere feci ut a dictis amicis meis facilius inteligatur.

Anne, Countess of Stafford, begins her will in this way:

In Dei nomine Amen. I Anne countesse of Stafford, Bokingh[am], Her[e]ford and

Northhampton and lady of Breknoc of hool and avisid mynde ordeyne and make my
testament in Englisshe tonge for my most profit, redyng and understandyng, in this
The brewers may not have been able to read any language very well. In Thrupp's chart of
witnesses in the London courts between 1467 and 1476 (Thrupp 1948:157) only one of six
brewers was listed as literate. (A problem here, as we have noted earlier, is determining just
what is meant by 'literate'.)
66 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

Ignorance of French was therefore one critical factor in the decision to drop
French as an official language, but it cannot have been the only one, for the
English were certainly as ignorant of French in the mid-14th century as they
were in the early 15th century. The same argument can be made against na­
tionalism as an overwhelming factor. As we have seen, linguistic nationalism
was already strong by the mid-14th century. These are certainly important
elements in the declining role of French, but they do not explain the timing of
two key facts in the history of linguistic relations in England. First, why did
French not benefit from a full instructional program and apparently thriving
school curricula until the beginning of the 15th century? Second, why did
French lose all its administrative functions (save Law French) in the reign of
Henry VI (1422-1461) and not earlier?
The real change in the official use of French and English comes midway
through Henry VI's reign. Henry V, his father, had been hailed as the savior of
the English language by the Brewers' Guild and his grandfather, Henry IV,
was the first king since the Conquest to claim the throne using the English
language.8 In spite of these examples of royal support for English, it was not
until the 1430s that the Rolls of Parliament reflected this change of linguistic
allegiance. One instrument of change was the Chancery, and the reason for the
change was the declining fortune of English holdings in France.
The Chancery, originally clerks in the king's household, grew to be a
sizable bureaucratic administration (by medieval standards) over the course of
this period, settling into offices in Westminster which it was to keep well into
the 19th century. Fisher (1977:875-876) describes the Chancery's functions in
these terms:

Through Chancery passed annually the mass of written petitions to the King and
Council for letters of remedy and grants of land and money, and the ensealed writs and

The brewers praised the efforts of Henry V (reigned 1413-1422) to promote the English
language, efforts which have led some to call him the first truly English king (although mar­
ried to Catherine of France!):

our mother tongue hath in modern days begun to be honorably enlarged and adorned,
for that our most excellent lord King Henry the Fifth hath, in his letters missive, and
diverse affairs touching his own person, more willingly chosen to declare the secrets of
his will in this language; and for the better understanding of his people, hath, with
diligent mind, procured the common idiom (setting aside others) to be commended by
the exercise of writing. (Cited in Berndt 1972:363)

Henry IV (reigned 1399-1413) used these words to claim the throne: "In the name of the
Fadir, Son and Holy Gost, I Henry of Lancastre, chalenge this Rewme of Yngland" (Power

charters written in response to these petitions. Both the original petitions and the
responses were written by the Chancery clerks. The clerks of Chancery had in their
charge the complicated system of indentures by which Henry V freed his military
organization from the instability of the ancient feudal levy. They issued the sum­
monses which brought parliaments together, and the expense writs which sent knights
and burgesses home with proof of their claims for wages. Chancery clerks both wrote
and received the petitions of Parliament, and classified and presented them to the
magnates who were 'triers' of petitions. They kept the Rolls which recorded the pro­
ceedings of Parliament, and drafted and enrolled the statutes which emerged from
these proceedings. Chancery was likewise responsible for the administration of cus­
toms, taxes, and subsidies (since these derived from Parliament). All of the most
important administrative officials looked to the Chancellor for their commissions of
appointment, and for authorizations of their most important actions.

In short, the Chancery handled all administrative work of the central govern­
ment. The transformation of the language of the Chancery is reflected in the
Rolls of Parliament, where French documents outnumber English substantially
until the mid-1430s, and then by the mid-1440s French has almost disap­
peared. 9 French remains only in the language of diplomacy, for which pur­
poses Henry VI retained no fewer than 8 bilingual secretaries in 1425 (Fisher
Why the change at this point in English history? The decline of English

I provide here the complete figures offered by Fisher (1977:880, n.37):

English French Latín

1422 6 35 5
1423 10 43 7
1425 13 25 19
1426 9 20 19
1427 6 34 13
1429 18 33 26
1430-31 7 32 14
1432 9 33 19
1433 18 34 23
1435 .8 14 10
1436-7 15 15 11
1439 29 27 12
1441-2 21 16 9
1444 34 8 13
According to Cahill (1938:160) government documents of the English colonists in Ireland
continued in French almost to the end of the 15th century.
68 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

fortunes in the Hundred Years' War, which brought to an end the dreams of
empire and profitable military adventurism on the continent. After the failure
of the siege of Orléans in 1429, came the break-up of the alliance with Bur­
gundy in 1435, the loss of Paris in 1436, and the fall of Gascony and Guienne
in 1442. By the end of the war in 1453 only Calais remained in English hands.
This trade war was lost, and with it the last remaining motivations for main­
taining French in English administration. Without the demand for English
presence in France as military and civil authority, without the lure of fortune to
be had in France, England had to come to terms with its predominant lan­
guage, and all the factors cited in the previous pages combined to remove
French once and for all from the linguistic picture in England.
In the Church, Latin continued to dominate, with English replacing French
as the second language both of administration and of public discourse. English
replaced French not only in internal administration, but in the contacts be­
tween ecclesiastical authority and the civil authority. French fared rather better
in the nunneries, where the educational standards were less challenged by the
loss of inmates to the plague.
At the convocations of Canterbury, certain lists of conditions attached to
grants were typically written in Latin. However, the lists of gravamina drawn
up as petitions to be presented to Parliament were written in French (ffighfield
1950:61). The opening sermons of these convocations were always preached
in Latin (Highfield 1950:62). Highfield claims that the speeches on behalf of
royal taxation were given in English, in 1356, 1370, 1371 and 1373 and con­

The plain implication of the evidence surveyed is that the years 1370-77 mark the
introduction of English into the heart of the proceedings of Convocation [...] in order to
reach the ears of the proctors of the clergy in those years, and to gain their consent to
much-needed taxes, English was the language used by lay chancellors and the bishop
of London alike. (Highfield 1950:63)

At the same time, the monastic registers of Glastonbury (1351-1366) show the
overwhelming use of the learned languages, French and Latin, for official
correspondence. Of the 439 letters included, approximately half are in French,
the other half in Latin. None are in English. The abbot corresponded with the
royal family and other nobles in French, with church authorities in Latin. All
letters of appointment were written in Latin (Suggett 1946:65-66). The first
English letters in the monastic registers studied by Suggett are from the Lan-
thony Priory letter book, dated 1424.
Nonetheless, the linguistic skills of the English priests were definitely on
the decline. The need to replenish the cadres of the Church after the Plague (or
better: plagues), led to wholesale changes in the training of priests. At the end
of the 14th century, John Mirk, Prior of the Augustiniany House of Lilleshall,

Salop, found it necessary to produce a versified English manual for parish

priests, perhaps based in part on the Oculus sacerdotis. Mirk also wrote a
similar (but longer) guide in Latin, and an English collection of sermons (the
Festiall), Galbraith, in the introduction to the Anonimalle Chronicle, describes
a trilingual process of confession at a monastery, in which the formulaic parts
are handled in French or Latin, but the actual confession is made in English
(Galbraith 1927:xvii). One could no longer be sure that the parish priest could
handle one of the learned languages.
Evidence concerning nuns points to similar linguistic problems. At the
beginning of the 14th century, communication from Church authorities to nuns
was generally written in Latin, although some concern was expressed about
how well the nuns understood that language. Through the 14th century the
ability to use French steadily declined, although Chaucer's Prioress still claims
to have mastered some manner of French:

And Frensh she spak ful faire and fetisly

After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe,
For French of Paris was to her unknowe.

The injunctions issued by the bishops are particularly instructive in the linguis­
tic abilities of the nuns (see Power 1964:247 ff for more detail on all that
follows). In the 14th century many bishops translated their injunctions from
Latin to French to facilitate understanding. Late in the century (1387) Bishop
Bokyngham wrote to the nuns of Elstow in Latin, but while enjoining them to
keep silence at the appropriate times, he allowed those who had learned French
to use it for conversation at other times: Et vulgare gallicum addiscentes inter
se eo utantur colloquentes. This implies that at least some of the nuns did not
even know French. Such an ignorance is also attested to by a metrical version
of the Rule of St. Benedict, composed early in the 15th century:

Monkes and als all leryd men

In Latin may it lyghtly ken,
And wytt tharby how they sall wyrk
To sarue god and haly kyrk.
Bott tyll women to mak it couth,
That leris no latyn in thar youth,
In inglis is it ordand here,
So that thay may it lyghtly 1ere,
(cited in Power 1964:252)

Further evidence of the linguistic skills of the nuns comes from the convent
schools. Leach has pointed out that "it is difficult to see how those who did not
know Latin could teach it" (1910:841; cited in Power 1964:276). By the end
70 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

of the 14th century, it is all they can do to teach their charges to read in their
native tongue. 10 Still, even at the time of the Dissolution under Henry VIII
there were convents where the everyday language of communication was
Language was also a key element in the reform movement of John Wyclif
(1330-1384), an Oxford don and chaplain to Edward III, who had the Bible
translated into English in the 1380s as part of his Lollard movement. Wyclif's
linguistic crusade was aimed not only at Latin, but also at French:

Crist taugte his disciples oute this prayer; bot be thou syker, nother in Latyn nother in
Frensche, but in the langage that they usede to speke, for that they knewe best. (Select
English Works of.John Wyclif , 99-100; cited in Berndt 1972:348)

Wyclif's efforts to make the Bible more accessible to the people thus gathered
speed with the current of nationalism, political and linguistic, that was sweep­
ing England in the second half of the 14th century. Lollardy even helped to
open the door for English in the mainstream Church, for the only way to
combat the spread of the heresy was to write in the language of the people.
Thus in 1455, more than 80 years before Calvin's first theological treatise in
French, Bishop Pecock defended the Church in The Repressor of Over Much
Blaming of the Church (Simon 1966:19).
In literature, French was no longer an active force by Period IV. The only
author writing French literature in England in Period IV was John Gower
(1330-1408), and he freely admits that French is for him a learned language:

Al Université de tout le monde

Johann Gower ceste Balade envoie:

We might add here that there was strong sentiment in the Middle Ages against teaching
women how to read and write, particularly write. The Chevalier de La Tour Landry explains
in his treatise on female education (ca. 1372):

Et pour ce que aucuns gens dient que ilz ne voudraient pas que leurs femmes ne leurs
filles sceussent rien de clergie ne d'escripture, je dy ainsi que, quant d'escryre, n'y a
force que femme en saiche riens; mais quant a lire, tout femme en vault mieulx de le
scavoir et cognoist mieulx la foy et les perils de l'ame et son saulvement [...] (cited in
Power 1964:277, from Hensch 1903:133)

This emphasis on reading rather than writing may also help explain the nature of the sound-
letter rules provided in the orthographic treatises (see above), although those were composed
for a different clientele, which did not suffer from these constraints. Clanchy points out that
reading and writing were largely considered separate in the Middle Ages; the ability to read
does not automatically imply the ability to write (Clanchy 1979:88).

E si jeo n'ai de Françoi la faconde,

Pardonetz moi qe jeo de ceo forsvoie:
Jeo sui Englois, si quierpartiele voie
Estre excusé; mais quoique nulls en die,
L'amour parfit en Dieu se justifie.
(From the Traitie selonc les aucîours pour essampler
les amantzmarietz,cited in Legge 1963:358)

Both this work and his Cinkante Balades were composed ca. 1400. The only
other literary compositions in Anglo-French from this period are Gower's own
Mirour de l' Omme and a biography of the Black Prince composed ca. 1385.
(This latter may have been the composition of Hainaulter (Legge 1963:309),
copied by an insular scribe.)
The shift in linguistic allegiance of the literati may also be observed by
the literary patronage of the kings. Henry V was not only a supporter of such
English authors as John Lydgate and Thomas Hoccleve, he was also a major
patron of translations which helped to enrich English vocabulary so that it
could be used for many subjects (see Mackenzie 1939:83 ff). But perhaps this "
is not so much a shift in allegiance as a shift in the potential audience. As long
as few could read, that learned skill could be concentrated in the learned
languages. When general literacy rates began to improve in the 14th century,
the new readers were primarily English monolinguals. Chaytor claims that
there were three classes of readers in the mid-14th century:

those who understood Latin or Anglo-Norman or both; those who preferred an elabo­
rate and artificial diction of English, and those who required a plain tale simply told.
(Chaytor 1945:105)

Chaytor cites William of Palerne, a translation from a French original for

Humphrey de Bohun (d. 1322), in which the translator tells us that his patron
"let make this mater in this maner speche, For hem that knowe no frensche ne
never understonde" (cited in Chaytor 1945:105).11 To reach the majority of
literate people in England at this time it was necessary to write in English, and
a simple English in which the stylistic flourishes of Latin or latinate writing
are avoided.
In personal correspondence, the first English letters, written by the merce-

Chaytor is sure that Humphrey, a high-ranking nobleman of the mid-14th century, would
have known French, and therefore concludes that this translation is a gift of Humphrey to
those who have not had his kind of education. This is probably true, but the other evidence
presented in this chapter introduces an element of doubt into such conclusions.
72 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

nary John Hawkwood, date from 1392-3 (Suggett 1946:69), but the lamentable
state of the French in letters composed in that language reveals the true nature
of the linguistic relations at the end of the 14th century. I cite here two exam­
ples of these macaronic letters, the first written by Rosa Montfort and the
second by Richard Kingston, Dean of Windsor (1403):

Trechere cosyn, ieo vous pry bryng a wryt of trespas en ver Richar forde [...], Wyliam
Noryng of Yerdeley [...] be wheche trespas hu duden the waley of twenty mark
Towchyng to me and my tenante [...] Adeu, le sente trinite vos comande, escript en
hast en la manere de Codbarow [...] (Cited in Berndt 1972:369, from Chambers and
Daunt A Book of London English, 1384-1425,1931:280)

Jeo prie a la benoist Trinitee que vous otroie bone vie, ove tresentier sauntee a tre-
slonge duree, and send yowe sone to ows in helth and prosperitee [...] Escript a Here­
ford, en tresgraunte haste, a trois de la clocke apres noone (Cited in Suggett 1946:69
and in Berndt 1972:358 and 368, from Royal and Historical Letters during the reign of F. C Hingeston, 1860:158)

That French (and far better French than this) was the language of the corre­
spondence of Joan, the second wife of Henry IV should not surprise us, as she
was Duchess of Brittany. Still, some English-born nobles continued to use (or
attempt to use) French for their correspondence well into the 15th century. In
the letter book of the Lanthony priory from 1424 we find letters in both lan­
guages from the Countess of Stafford (but French is more frequent). In the
evaluation of the importance of such materials for determining the linguistic
relations between French and English, we must also take into account the fact
that many of these letters may have been written by a professional scribe, not
by the signator.12 Sometimes special note is made of this fact by the author of
the letter:

Pur certen, je ai pour que vous n'entendez sete letre, le frère écrit si malement; et se
vous ne savit mie lire, mostrit a la portour de sete, et il vous lira bien [...] Me excusez
devers monseigneur que mes letres sont si malement écrit. Je ne ay point autre clerc
[...] (From Lettres de rois, reines, et autres personnages des cours de France et d'An­
gleterre, depuis Louis VII jusqu'à Henry TV, 1847,II:233. J. Champollion-Figeac, ed.
Cited in Berndt 1972:365)

McFarlane (1973:229) states that "the only safe rule is to assume that letters, memoranda,
and other documents were the work of professional scribes of some sort unless there is defi­
nite evidence to the contrary".

This speaks for the poor state of the French both of scribe and author.
Of the four areas of official and unofficial use of French - government,
church, literature, and correspondence - the first to drop French completely is
the literary. In the other domains, the use of French (albeit a most pathetic
French) drags on into the 15th century, and in the legal field it survives much

5.2 Who knew French?

French was a learned language for all segments of the population by

Period IV, but it is significant that many still made the effort to learn it. The
most accomplished, like the Countess of Stafford mentioned above, were able
to correspond reasonably well in French and John Cavendish declared that he
preferred to continue his will in French (see above, p. 65, note 6). More found
themselves in the situation of the Earl of March, who apologized to the king in
1400: "And noble Prince mervaile yhe nocht that I write my letters in En-
glishe, fore that ys mare clere to myne understanding than Latyne or
Fraunche" (cited in Suggett 1946:68). Another indication of the class break­
down of the knowledge of French comes from the bequests of books reported
in Deanesley 1920 (see also Coleman 1981:18-20 and McFarlane 1973:235-
238). In wills from the 14th and 15th centuries, books were often listed singly.
Vernacular books are rare, usually devotional books. In the 14th century, those
French books that are listed in wills are bequeathed by the upper levels of the
nobility. The English books bequeathed belong to the lower clergy or the
rising bourgeoisie.13 In the 15th century the number of French books declines
dramatically. These bequests confirm the picture of the knowledge of French
among the middle class already revealed by the linguistic choices made by the
guilds over the course of Period IV. The Mercers were the first to petition Par­
liament in English, the Brewers were among the first to change their legal

The French books are bequeathed by Henry, Duke of Lancaster; Elizabeth, Countess of
Salisbury; the Earl of Warwick; the Earl of Devon; Richard de Ravenser, Archdeacon of
Lincoln; Sir Robert de Roos; William Creyke, Vicar of All Hallows, London Wall; Eleanor,
duchess of Gloucester.
The English books are bequeathed by Robert Felstead, vintner of London; John Hyde
(unidentified); John Katerington, Canon of St. Mary of Litchwick; Thomas Wotton, a layman;
Sir William Thorp; John Staynis, monk of Thetford; William, Prior of Newstead in Sherwood
(Deanesley 1920:450-451).
Professor John Friedman (private communication) has warned against trusting Deanesley's
figures. In his study of wills in Yorkshire he has discovered more than 3000 bequests of
books, many in French.
74 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

records from French to English. Fewer and fewer saw the need for instruction
in French.

5.3 Language and the Teaching of French

5.3.1 The Language Instruction Syllabus

The primary recipients of this linguistic training in French remained the

lawyers and others associated with the legal and administrative system, fol­
lowed by the merchants trading cloth with Flanders or wine with Gascony. For
the merchants, French was necessary for trade with the continent. For the
lawyers, French was necessary for the maintenance of a professional monopo­
ly. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries men such as William of Kingsmill
and Thomas Sampson, teachers who operated semi-independent schools in the
shadows of the great universities, developed a full syllabus for the teaching of
French. The popularity of their courses appears sometimes to have eclipsed the
standard arts program those universities offered.14 The waning interest in
French later in this period is reflected by the fact that none of the many
grammar schools and guild schools established in the mid-15th century in­
cludes French either as a medium or subject of instruction (see McMahon
Some parts of the syllabus used to teach French by masters such as
Sampson and Kingsmill were already well established by the late 14th century.
We have already discussed the early lexicographical works such as Bibbes-
worth's, and the development of the orthographical treatises. With the more
formal instruction of these schools comes the elaboration of the rest of the
French instructional program: the dialogues (and perhaps instructional
plays?15), model letters, and the grammars.
That these constituted a unified syllabus is shown by the grouping of these

At Oxford, the university had to decree that these supplemental classes could not be offered
during the hours of the regular courses (Legge 1939:241).
Legge (1963:328-331) discusses some fragments of dramatic works in bilingual editions, in
which a speech given in Anglo-French is followed by a speech given in English. One of these
she dates to the late 13th century, the other she simply ascribed to "the next [i.e. 14th] cen­
tury". Legge can see no reason for this arrangement, but it seems possible that these plays
might have been used for instructional purposes. There is a long history of the use of drama in
language instruction. Kelly (1959:122-124) observes that this was a medieval practice. We
know that Palsgrave composed his comedy of Acolastus for Latin instruction in the 16th
century (see Carver 1940) and the dramatic character of the dialogues composed in England
stands in contrast to the wooden dialogues used for vocabulary development in the Flemish
tradition (see pp. 80-81).

works in single manuscripts. While there are no manuscripts that contain all
the constituent parts of the dictamen syllabus of Thomas Sampson or William
of Kingsmill, several medieval collections do combine four of the parts. The
one constant in these collections is the orthographical treatise, with the model
letters, grammars (Donaitfrançois, Liber donati, etc.) and the word-lists repre­
sented in three of the four collections described below. This burst of didactic
writing parallels the spurt of Latin didactic writing in the late 12th and 13th
centuries. Ironically enough, in both instances this increase in activity immedi­
ately preceded the replacement of the given language in many of its official

BL Add. 17716 Oxford AS 182 Camb. E.e. IV 20 Camb.D.d. 12 23

Orthography Orthography Orthography Orthography

Grammar Grammar Grammar
Letters Letters Letters
Dialogue Dialogue
Nominale (+ Bib.) Nominale Nominale

Merrilees (forthcoming) demonstrates that in the BL 17716 and Cambridge

D.d 12 23 the dialogues are to be considered a part of the grammar, for the
notation explicit Liber Donati appears only after the dialogues, and both the
grammar and the dialogues are written in the same hand without significant
interruption. Now we shall consider the late 14th-century changes and addi­
tions to the syllabus (in vocabularies, dialogues, model letters and grammars)
to determine what they can teLl us about linguistic relations in England at the
end of the Middle Ages.

5.3.2 Femina

Arnould (1939) has established that this manuscript is indeed another

copy of Bibbesworth's treatise, but it deserves consideration in its own right,
for the changes made to the original treatise are significant and reflect the
development of the French syllabus in the 15th century. The author has added
at the end a word list, some observations on pronouns, and a few model verb
conjugations {amo, sum, volo)}16 Comments added, in Latin, show that French

James (1900,I:447-449) describes the full contents of the manuscript  14 39/40. The Femina is
situated after a number of poems, mostly Latin and English. After the Femina are dialogues in
French(editebbyMeyer1903);some notes on French grammar (written in Latin); Arabic numerals
1-40, then by tens to100,by hundreds to1000,by thousands to 20000; two short Latin verses; "Le
manere de Salutacion et escriture as divers degrees",guide to writing letters in French andLatin; a
French story.
76 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

must have been a third language for the students learning from this text.17 The
manuscript is followed directly by a series of dialogues composed in or shortly
after 1415, an orthographic treatise, and a few model letters in Latin and
The word list, arranged in three columns, shows the difference between
spelling and pronunciation in the vocabulary included in the main text of the
treatise. The explanation provided for this format is a good summary of the
purposes the text was supposed to serve:

La rule qu'est ensuant enseigne ensement cornent vous scriverez vostre fraunceys, et
ce est en la primere rule, la ou il dit Regula scripcionis [...] En le iie lieu prochain
ensevant a part senestre, la ou il dit Regula locucionis, si com est escript en mesme la
rule, en tiel manere lirrez vostre fraunceys; et issint une rule enseigne a scrivere et
l'autre a liere; et en tierce lieu, q'est devisé la ou il dit Regula constructionist ceste rule
enseigne le englysh dez voz parolez de fraunceys. Et en tiel manere la primere rule
enseigne pur scrivere, la secunde pur lire, la tierce pur entendre et ensement enseigne
plusours differencez du ffraunceys. (Wright 1909:102-3; also in Meyer 1903:46)

The first column will teach the student to write French correctly, the second to
pronounce French correctly, and the third to translate French accurately. The
spelling/pronunciation instructions are necessary because , as the author warns
within the main body of the treatise,

Ubi autem iste litere nibre supra scribuntur semper pronosticant quomodo id verbum
pronunciatur quia multociens gallicum uno modo scribitur & alio pronuncietur.
(Wright 1909:2)

The pronunciation column offers these corrections to the letter-sound relation­


1) the addition of  to nasal vowels (e. g., champ > chaump cum v.);
2) the elimination of consonants no longer pronounced (draps > dras; doulce > douce; d'estre
> d'etre);
3) variants in the formation of plurals: almez vel aimes;
4) problems relating to geminates. Sometimes the author re-creates geminates (aloms >

Amazingly, the editor, W. A. Wright, concludes that

it is evident also from the translation of the French couplets that either he [the author] or
the original compiler was imperfectly acquainted with English, and between them they
have left many puzzles in both languages [...] (Wright 1909: xiii; emphasis added)

There can be no doubt that English was the first language of this 15th-century compiler.

alommis; iameys > iammez), but more often they are dropped, particularly, though not
exclusively, at the end of the word (with loss of a final unstressed e at the same time:
chastelle > chatel.
5) Insertion of vowel sounds (yostre > votere; see above, p. 48 the condemnation in the ortho­
graphic treatises of the addition of extra syllables in the forms of the verb avoir).
6) The reduction of the palatalized gn sequence to simple n: aleigne > aleine; tesmoigne >
7) Numerous changes in the diphthongs, most often simplification to simple vowels.

Within this section the author also notes chronological and geographic differ­
ences, as in the use of the spelling  in Kaunt, kar, ky, which the author de­
scribes as "secundam antiquos". The dialectal distinctions are between Picard
and Parisian, both in spelling and in pronunciation:

chien, sec. Pikardiam,

cheen vel chan
chaan, sec. Parisium,

chiet, sec. Pikardiam,

cheet vel chaat
chiat, sec. Parisium,

Finally, the author offers one variation without commentary: trop secundum
quodam trof, over moche.
Meyer claims that these columns are meant to distinguish "le français
littéraire, envisagé spécialement au point de vue de la graphie, du français
parlé en Angleterre" (Meyer 1903:46), but this does not seem to be the case.
The forms in the 'pronunciation' column represent just as well the difference
between spoken and written French in France at this point - vocalization of
preconsonantal /, loss of pre-consonantal and final s, etc. The only exception is
the indicated pronunciation of nasal vowels. Furthermore, the differentiation
of French dialects mentioned above shows that this treatise was aimed at a
different clientèle. This is further confirmed by the fact that the Femina is
followed in the manuscript collection by dialogues celebrating the battle of
Agincourt (1415), the English victory in the Hundred Years' War that opened
the way for English administration of northern France (see pp. 61-62).18

Meyer (1903:47-48) notes that the scenes of these dialogues are placed in England, and
considers this proof that "au commencement du XVe siècle, en Angleterre, même dans la
classe bourgeoise, - les personnages mis en scène sont de condition plutôt inférieure, - on
avait à coeur de savoir lire et parler le français". Given the other evidence we have provid­
ed, this conclusion seems highly doubtful. I would propose instead that this is an attempt by
the author to make the dialogues more 'real' to his students. Another version of the same
78 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

The text of the Femina, while clearly taken from Bibbesworth's treatise as
Arnould has shown, nonetheless merits separate consideration. The inclusion
of complete translation, not simply glosses, shows the decline in the knowl­
edge of French between Bibbesworth's lifetime and the early 15th century.
Furthermore, the addition of a systematic presentation of sound-letter discrep­
ancies, along with other grammatical information, reflects the development of
pedagogical materials early in the 15th century. Finally, references to war and
specifically to Agincourt, in the Femina and in the dialogues that accompany
it, relate this material to the English political designs of the period.

5.3.3 The Dialogues

The first French dialogue book we know, apart from the dialogues con­
tained in the guides to legal pleading (e.g. Placita corone) and to estate
management (e.g., Walter of Henley), was the Livre des mestiers, produced in
Flanders ca. 1340 (edition by Gessler 1931). Flanders, like medieval England,
suffered (and continues to suffer) from a 'language problem' which required
the production of these teaching materials. Flemish was the language of the
people, French the language of the court (after the accession of the house of
Dampierre 19 ), and Latin the language of the Church and the administration
(until 1302). In the early 14th century Flemish administrators, like their coun­
terparts across the Channel, were expected to be trilingual. To ease the pain of
vocabulary study, as well as to present vocabulary in context, an unknown
author, perhaps from Hainault (see Riemens 1919), composed the Livre des
Mestiers. In this book, like the Gesprächbüchlein which appeared 20-30 years
later, the dialogue is but a shell in which to insert the vocabulary lessons of the
nominalia. After a brief section on greetings, the author of the Livre des
Mestiers uses short introductions to present long lists of vocabulary on a given
topic. For example, the phrase 'si me recommandés a' serves as an introduc­
tion to a list of all the names for relatives (father, mother, cousin, uncle,
nephew, niece, etc.). After going through vocabulary relating to the household,
the author turns to parts of the body; meats, drinks, animals, fishes and birds,
and other foodstuffs; vocabulary of the cloth trade: types of cloth, measures,
colors, followed by other items sold in the marketplace: furs and animals
skins, wax, oil, metals, ores and grains; lists of officials and countries. After


dialogues takes place in London (Richardson 1942:341).

Guy de Dampierre, who became Count of Flanders at the end of the 13th century, was from
Champagne, and he consciously tried to model the Flemish court after the French (see
Thompson 1931:59-60).

this follows a long section which presents primarily the different craftsmen
and their trades, although other tidbits of vocabulary (such as the names of the
seasons) are inserted here and there. This section also serves to list the first
names common at this time, as each short paragraph is headed by a name:

Beatris, li lavendire,
venra chi après mengier;
ches lingne draps,
et elle les buera [...]

David, le lormier,
est un bon ouvrier
de faire seelles,
frains et esporons,
et chou que il y faut;
car il fait goriaus
et sommes et cheingles:
tout che puet il bien faire,
car il est frans selliers [...]

Among these lists of vocabulary we find only a few extended dialogues: a

basic dialogue for salutation and valediction; another for sending a maid to do
the grocery shopping; a third for bargaining over the price of cloth; and finally
one for asking the way. In reduced form the Gesprächbüchlein covers the
same basic situations.
The English dialogues which appear at the end of the 14th century share
with the Flemish dialogues a central focus on the cloth trade. In the
Gesprächbüchlein we read:

Les Englés amainent boines laines d'Engletere, et lez vent on par sacs, par escarpeilli-
ers, par pokes, par poises, par claus, et par livres, et lez pait on et bargaigne par mars,
et aussy amainent les Escots laine d'Escote qui ne sunt mie si boins que les englesses.

The weavers of Picardy and Flanders bought the raw material (wool) from
England and wove it into cloth and resold it to the English and others. This
trade, which was the root of the problems leading to the Hundred Years' War,
helps to shape the nature of the teaching materials and the contents.
In spite of these similarities in purpose, there are important differences
between the Flemish and English dialogue traditions, differences of language,
80 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

of vocabulary, of use of dialogue.20 First, the earliest French dialogues pro­

duced in England are monolingual French dialogues, whereas the Flemish
dialogues have French and Flemish side-by-side. Late in the 15th century
there is a French-English dialogue (interlinear translation; see Södergård 1953)
and around 1480 Caxton published his side-by-side French-English version of
the Livre des Mestiers, starting a printed tradition of bilingual dialogues.
Another difference in language is that the author of the dialogues edited by
Meyer declares that he will teach françois (francien): Ci comence la maniere
de language qui f enseignera bien a droit parler et escrire doulz françois selon
l' usage et la coustume de France. Later he softens this to admit romance
(Walloon). The would-be apprentice in the dialogues (1415) claims to be tri­
lingual in English, French and Norman. The French in the Flemish dialogues is
written in the Picard dialect.
A second difference is that the Flemish dialogues include far more exten­
sive general vocabulary, incorporating the full range of vocabulary of the
nominalia into the dialogues. In the English dialogues edited by Meyer (1873)
the only lists of vocabulary inserted are the parts of the body (at the end of the
introduction, before the dialogues begin), household goods, and fish. Other
parts of the dialogues are aimed at vocabulary development (as when the
master sends his tailor to purchase a variety of cloths), but these are kept
within the dialogue frame, and not presented as extended lists of raw vocabu­
lary. The dialogues differ too on the type of conversation deemed necessary.
The English dialogues drop the discussions of food-shopping and replace them
with dialogues relating to travel: getting a room, taking care of horses, eating
at inns and taverns. Life on the road also includes regularly, in the English
dialogues, seducing the chamber-maid at the inn (Meyer 1873:385-395)21 and
cursing highwaymen (Stengel 1878:11-12), this in spite of the fact that some
of the journeys are pilgrimages.
A final difference between English and Flemish dialogues is that the
English dialogues are simply more dramatic. These dialogues are not frames
for word-lists, but rather true interactive conversations, complete with pas­
sages to link together the story line. Consider the dialogue entitled "la
manière de parler à un enfant", in which a child has hit another and the parent,

These differences preclude the kind of direct borrowing assumed by Streuber (1972) at
least before Caxton. (See also Merrilees 1985:112.)
Amazingly this seduction scene remains a staple in the English dialogue tradition, even
when that tradition is taken over by Huguenot refugees who otherwise condemn any hint of
sins of the flesh. Claudius Hollyband has a similar scene in his French Schoolemaisier
(1573), although he inserts, between the dialogues and the grammatical portion of his Frenche
Littelton (1576) a treatise against dance (because he sees it as an invitation to sin).

after establishing what has transpired, promises the victim that the aggressor
"sera batu sur le cul". Or the one in which two traveling companions try to
relieve the pain of their flea bites and get some sleep. This may be because the
English dialogues were used more for play acting in schools, since conversa­
tion practice in French was not as readily available in the streets of Oxford as
it was in the streets of Bruges.
To show the differences in structure and vocabulary among the dialogues
found in England, it may prove useful to compare the complete contents of the
collections of English dialogues edited by Meyer and Stengel.

Manière de langage (1396; ed. by Meyer 1873)

1. Introduction + Parts of the body;

2. Merchant to his servant to buy cloth: Vocabulary of the cloth trade;
3. Dialogue for a man traveling far from his own country: Getting new shoes for his horse;
food; asking directions (for Orleans); stopping at a hotel; the seduction scene mentioned
above; list of wines; list of fish; more directions to Orléans;
4. Speaking to people on foot: talking with a laborer about his wages; another meal; debate
over the merits of a dog;
5. A baker talks with his apprentice/helper, who claims he cannot work because he has
injured himself;
6. A merchant chastises his employee for being late;
7. A servant talks to a "dubbeor de draps" (mender?) to have a piece of cloth repaired;
8. Two boys, apparently taking an unexcused break from work, take a ride on their horses
and get thrown into the pond;
9. Two men meet in the morning and discuss the latest news (student riots in Orléans22);
10. Talking with children after a fight between them;
11. Asking directions again, this time for the home of 'Guillain Mountendré';
12. Asking a fellow traveler to accompany the speaker on a pilgrimage to Canterbury (an
excuse to discuss the biblical story of Job and to provide all the vocabulary relating to
different kinds of sheep);
13. Two travelers try to fall asleep in an inn, in spite of the terrible itching of their flea bites;
14. Conclusion (two other manuscripts include other fragments, one a collection of threats,
the other containing a discourse about the difficulty of learning French).

Un petit livre pour enseigner les enfantz de leur entreparler comun francois (1399; Ed. by
Stengel, 1878)

1. Days of the week, months, feast days;

2. Counting (ordinal numbers); currency equivalents;
3. Members of the family; officials; assorted nouns and adverbs;

The events described (battles between the nations of Picardy and Champagne) occurred
around 1390 and are an important confirmation of the date of composition provided at the end
of the dialogue (1396).
82 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

4. Asking the way (to Paris);

5. Cursing thieves and highwaymen;
6. Addressing women;
7. Addressing a woman who keeps an inn;
8. Another way of asking for a room (and board) at an inn;
9. Salutations to use with 'bons gens';
10. Bargaining at the marketplace (no mention of what is being bought);
11. Another way of speaking with 'bons gens' ;
12. A discussion of current events (the taking of the king of England).

Dialogues français composés en 1415 (Ed. by Meyer, 1903)

1. Greetings; invitation to drink; latest news from the war (Battle of Agincourt);
2. Announcement of forthcoming arrival of French prisoners taken at Agincourt;
3. Fellow travelers make plans for lodging in Oxford;
4. Arrangements for care of people and horse made with inn-keeper; detail on the proper
care of horses;
5. Discussion of drink with the inn-keeper's wife; list of wines;
6. Discussion of food with the inn-keeper's wife; list of fowl; discussion of beds; list of bed
7. Orders for care of horses given to servant;
8. Settling accounts with the inn-keeper; list of meats to be served for dinner; list of cloths
and colors;
9. Innkeeper's wife asks the traveler to take her 12-year-old son to London to serve as an
apprentice; the boy's qualifications include speaking "engleys, fraunceys, et bon nor­
mand"! To attain this level he has studied with William of Kingsmill;
10. To show off his knowledge, the boy recites the parts of the body;
11. The boy continues with list of internal organs; parts of the legs and feet; men's clothing;
12. Types of people, offices, social classes, religious categories; miscellaneous nouns.

These English collections of dialogues differ among themselves as well as

between themselves and the Flemish tradition. The Manière and Dialogues
seem more closely tied to the wool trade, as they include vocabulary specific
to that commerce (in dialogues 2, 7 and 12 of the Manière and dialogue 8 of
the Dialogues) whereas the only commercial dialogue of the Petit livre does
not use any vocabulary specific to the wool trade. The Dialogues do not in­
clude a guide to bargaining at the marketplace, as all the activity takes place at
or near the inn in Oxford. (Another version replaces Oxford place-names with
London (Legge 1939:244).) Secondly, the Manière includes several scenes
relating to the relations between a master and his workers, while the Petit
livre's only dialogue across class boundaries is between a traveller and some
highwaymen. The Dialogues (dialogue 7) mention apprenticeship, and include
orders for care of horses between a traveler and his servant (complete with
threats if it is not done properly). A third difference is the quantity of inde­
pendent word-lists in the Petit livre, as opposed to the incorporation of such

lists into the dialogues of the Manière, The Dialogues are a compromise
between the two styles. None of these collections contains nearly the amount
of vocabulary found in the Flemish works. Both the Manière and the Petit
livre emphasize ways of starting and ending a conversation, and finding one's
way in a foreign country.
To summarize the evidence of purpose provided by the contents of the
dialogues, we have seen that the Flemish dialogues offer more vocabulary and
a broader range of vocabulary (all the types of work found in a late medieval
town), while the English dialogues concentrate more on travel and on the
interactive use of French. What the author himself states about the nature of
his work also helps us to understand his intentions. Whereas the Livre des
Mestiers is generally acknowledged to be the work of a native speaker of
French (Gessler 1931:16) the author of the dialogues edited by Meyer identi­
fies himself as an Englishman:

J'ay achevee cest traitis au reverence et instance de vous, et a mon escient je l'ai traitee
et compilee si comme j'ai entendu et apris es parties de la le mer; et ja soit que j'ay
parlee en mainte lieu oscurement, et nient escienteusement fait cest besoigne, je vous
en suppli de vostre gentrise et tous ceulx qui cest livre enremirent de m'avoir escusee,
car combien que je ne sui pas le plus escienteus a parler et escrire doulz fransois ou
romance, ne pourquant je l'ai fait selon ceu que Deu ma liveree grace, raison, sens et
entendement. (Meyer 1873:403-4)

We learn in the introduction that the author is writing this for écoliers, who, he
hopes, will by studying this book learn how to parler, bien soner, et a droit
escrire doulz françois (Meyer 1873:382). The milieu for this book then is the
school. This is confirmed in the Dialogues, where direct reference is made to
William of Kingsmill's school. The goal is to learn not only spoken French,
with a continental accent (preferably the françois of Orléans with some atten­
tion given the Walloon (romance) dialect of the wool traders), but also written

5.3.4 Model Letters

Dictamen became an established part of the educational program in the

Italian schools of the 12th century. This was not the study of elegant letter-
writing in the style of Cicero and Pliny, which was to be revived in the 16th
century by Erasmus (Bolgar 1983:246-247). The dictatores taught students to
write letters and a number of formulaic legal documents such as deeds and
wills. In England we find collections of official letters, generally written in
Latin, throughout the medieval period, but the first clear-cut evidence of
courses in letter-writing comes in the 14th century, with the mention of dicta-
men in a statute of the University at Oxford, dated sometime before 1350
84 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

(Richardson 1942:333). Subsequent statutes governed the relationships be­

tween these auxiliary masters and the masters of the faculty of Arts. The in­
structors were required to pay the faculty of Arts for the privilege of teaching
in the shadow of the University, and they had to submit to the authority of the
supervisors of the grammar schools. Through this mechanism their fees for the
regular courses were controlled, but they were free to take on individual in­
struction on their own terms.
The best known of these instructors were Thomas Sampson, self-de­
scribed enformour d'escrire et diter, and William of Kingsmill 'scrivener'.
Others may well have practiced this profession, but they must have lacked
these teachers', particularly Sampson's, genius for self-promotion. The earliest
mention of Sampson is in a letter written shortly after the battle of Neville's
Cross (1346), and the first model letters in which his name appears date from
the 1350s. From then on his name appears regularly until 1409. We know that
he was married and that he may have served as clerk for the university, but he
apparently never took a degree of B.A.23 William of Kingsmill was probably
from Barkham, Berks, and taught in Oxford c. 1415-1430 (Legge 1939). Both
regularly include themselves in the model letters, and Arnold's description of
this practice also gives a good summary of the types of letters involved:

here he is T. S. comes, dispensing fiefs, here a rector, complaining of an insufficient

benefice, here a 'povre valet' up on a charge of manslaughter, and again a London
merchant, arranging for the apprenticing of S., son of B. C, on terms calculated to
limit the unfortunate S.'s activities in most directions [...] (1937:194-195)

Thus the letters cover a variety of legal and administrative possibilities, and
others relate to more personal concerns, typically letters from poor students to
their parents, pleading for money. The teaching method must have been one of
dictation and subsequent rote memorization, but some of the letters that have
come down to us are apparently student satires of the teacher's model, as in
the 'mock letter on St. Nicholas Eve' (Richardson 1942:439), and the letter
from a woman to her sister complaining of the marriage her father has ar­
ranged with a leede personne (Stengel 1878:9). These letters are most often in
a bilingual format, Latin followed by French equivalent, but monolingual
collections are more frequently in French than in Latin. The accompanying
treatises on legal forms are more frequently in Latin only (Richardson

To be a grammar master in medieval English universities this was not necessary; the
awarding of M. Gram, was, like the bar exam of today, a license to practice, not a formal
degree. For more details on the preparation of grammar masters in the 15th and early 16th
century see Leader 1983.

1941:272). The choice of language reflects the battle for linguistic supremacy
in official circles, and the personal letters written in French confirm John
Barton's statement (1409; see below p. 87) that bien pres touz les seigneurs et
toutes les dames en mesme roiaume d'Engliterre volentiers s'entrescrivent en
romance (Swiggers 1985:240). The formularies of the Privy Seal clerks, such
as Hoccleve's collection of 900 letters composed ca. 1420, are almost entirely
in French. The detail provided in those formularies is such that the clerk would
not have to know much French to be able to put together an appropriate letter
for almost any official purpose. Different greetings are proposed, varying
according to the rank of the person addressed and according to the attitude of
the writer towards the intended recipient. The body and end of the letter are
similarly codified, so that the clerk, if he knows which letter to select as a
model, need only copy the text out inserting the name of the recipient where
appropriate (see examples in Uerkwitz 1898). In 1422 the Privy Seal staff was
split into two sections, with half preparing correspondence destined for France
(this is the period of English administration in Normandy), and the others
preparing correspondence for England (Brown 1971:262-264). This division
undoubtedly encouraged the introduction of English in official correspondence
in the 1420s and 1430s.
The case of Thomas Hoccleve (1370-1426) is a good example of the
social origins, linguistic training, and linguistic orientation of the clerks
charged with this correspondence. Hoccleve's family, by his own account, was
poor, but he was able to get secretarial training at a school like Sampson's and
take up work at the Privy Seal around 1388-1389. There he learned enough
French and Latin to get through the formularies, but his primary language was
clearly English. It is in that language that he makes his margin notes in the
formulary, and it is in that language that he wrote his verse, such as the
Regement of Princes (1411-1412) (Brown 1971).
Thus we see that correspondence in French gave rise to and was then
abetted by the composition of guides to epistolary formulae, which formed an
important part of the secretarial course in the late 14th and early 15th century.
The period of correspondence in French is actually rather short, less than a
century, and it starts, ironically just at the time French was banned, in statute if
not in practice, from the legal affairs of the country.

5.3.5 Grammars

For those accustomed to the modern language syllabus, it may seem sur­
prising that the systematic presentation of morphology and syntax was the last
addition to language-instruction materials. Finally, in the first two decades of
the 15th century, three grammars appear, all using the name Donait (which at
this point had become simply a synonym for 'grammar manual'): the Donait
françois commissioned by John Barton (Oxford, All Souls 182, ca. 1409;
86 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

editions by Stengel 1879 and Swiggers 1985), the Liber donati (Cambridge
D.d. 12.23, c. 1415; edition in preparation by Brian Merrilees), and the Donait
soloum douce franceis de Paris (BL Sloane 513, ca. 1410).
The first of these, the Donait françois, is the most interesting, for the last
two devote most of their attention to verbal morphology. Barton does not
claim to have written it himself, but rather he has had it written, at great
expense, "par pluseurs bons clercs du language avant dite" (240).24 Lusignan
has taken this to mean that the authors were from Paris ("il a fait écrire son
Donait françois par des clercs de Paris" (1986:120)). Were this the case, we
would have trouble explaining why the French in the treatise is so decidedly
Anglo-French, and why it seems to relate to the French language training tradi­
tion in England. Taking this into consideration, we must pay closer attention to
the exact phrasing Barton uses. Clercs does not have to literally mean 'clerics',
as Clanchy pointed out in his discussion of the terms clerc and lai (see above,
p. 19, note 4); it can be simply a synonym for 'literate' in Latin, or, in this
case, in French (the language avant dite). If this interpretation is correct, then
Barton is simply claiming to have had the grammar written by people who
seemed to him to know French well. They could well be Englishmen, like
himself, who have studied in Paris or Orléans, and this would help explain the
errors in their grammar, as well as its links to the English pedagogical tradi­
tions. Barton describes himself as escolier de Paris, nee et nourie toutez voiez
d' Engleterre en la conté de Cestre (240); other than that we have no definite
information, although Swiggers (1985:238) identifies him with 'plain John
Barton, the physician', author of the Confutado Lollardorum, possibly the man
of the same name buried at St. Martin's Church, Ludgate in 1439 (DNB
I:1266). The dedication of the book to God, the Virgin Mary, and all the saints
in paradise, and the use of Old Testament names to illustrate various problems
in pronunciation would seem to confirm the religious training that may have
led him to attack Lollardy.25
Aside from this biographical information, the introductory paragraph also
merits close reading for the description of the goals and intended audience of
the work. Barton lists four reasons for studying French: to speak with one's
neighbors (the inhabitants of France); to understand the laws of England; to
understand other bones choses (French literature?); to write letters, for it has
become customary for the nobility (seigneurs et dames) of England to write to

All page references in this description of the Donait françois are from Swiggers' edition.

Another indication of Barton's religious training comes in his description of the difference
between proper and 'appellative' nouns. Barton brings to mind biblical accounts of how
Adam named all the creatures when he states that the common noun quant il fust primiere-
ment trouvé Just ordeiné a signifier en comun toutez de sa nature especíale (244).

each other en romance. Speaking French is important only for the first of these
activities, and that is restricted to communicating with les bones gens du
roiaume de France. That is to say, French is no longer spoken in England.
Understanding the laws and the literature, which have been misez en françois
(translated from Latin and English originals) requires only reading knowledge.
Perhaps as a reflection of the slow changes wrought by the statute of 1362
Barton notes that the laws are in French pour le greigneur partie (not exclu­
sively). Finally, writing French is important only for the composition of letters,
which is presented as something of an upper-class affectation.
The work is aimed at the bones gens du roiaume d'Engleterre. Barton
apparently does not believe in the claims of the British monarchs to cross-
channel territories, for he seems to limit this category of people to those who
live on the island. While he does limit them geographically, he does not limit
them according to sex. His work is destined for girls as well as boys: mes
chiers enfants et tres doulcez puselles.26 The people of England, he claims, are
enbraséz to learn French.
To satisfy this ardent desire to learn French, Barton gives as a present
(bailler) to the English people his Donaitfrangois, because it is essential that
they know la droite nature defrangois. The French they should learn is the
droit language du Paris et de païs la d'entour, the region known in England as
doulce France. They must learn the correct French to avoid speaking like sots
and ydios. Sottes gens confuse singular and plural number (femme - femmes)
and the persons of the verb (jeferra-jeferrey) (243). Y.diosmake mistakes in
mood and tense (245). These warnings recall Bibbesworth's admonition to
learn gender agreement well, so that you will not be encharnis (1. 28). Else­
where in the treatise we learn that 'syncopated' forms of the verb avoir are
preferred in la plus belle language (251).
The examples used to illustrate his rules reveal the instructional setting
and the interests of the students. The Donaitfrangois is designed for use in a
classroom, with a number of students, which is to say that he did not intend it
as the vehicle for individual tutoring (as, for example, Du Wes' Introductorie
from the 16th century). Examples include such sentences as:

Le meistre est en la escolle.

Les desciples sont ové le meistre.
Le meistre a belcoup d'argent.
Nous avons bonne regles.

While he includes women among his audience in the introduction, an example used later in
the text demonstrates a clear bias towards men. To illustrate the correct way to use possessive
pronouns and adjectives he offers this little exchange: "A qui est celle belle femme la?" "Elle
est mienne" (et non pas "Elle est ma") (249).
88 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

Le meistre nous ensaigne bien.

Mes compaignons apreinnent bien.
Le meistre est courous.
Le meistre a bonne cause d'estre marry.
Le meistre par courous bat fort ses disciples.

These examples not only reflect the classroom setting, they reveal also the
eternal problem of classroom discipline! (The symbol of the M. Gram, was a
rod and birch (Leader 1983:12).)
The text itself is written entirely in French, except for a few Latin exam­
ples in the section on pronunciation. There he explains that the letters i and 
sometimes represent vowels, sometimes consonants. When they are found
before a vowel in the same syllable, they are consonants, in any language. The
examples are Iohannes, uates, cuius and audivit. In a section on verbal conju­
gation located in the same All Souls manuscript but perhaps not composed as
part of the Donait françois, there are listed 315 verbs, the vast majority with a
Latin heading. There are, however, a few (fewer than 20) with English head­
ings: T foul with dirt, I swirt' (esclate), 'me semyth' (me est avis), etc.
While the language of the text suggests that students already had some
familiarity with French, the organization indicates that this was composed for
the rank beginner, not only in French but in the study of language in general. It
starts with the sounds of the letters and includes some attempt at articulatory
description of vowels (albeit an inaccurate and highly derivative attempt).27 It
continues with rules of liaison and elision, explanations of when letters are not
pronounced as one would expect from the spelling. After this, there is a gener­
al explanation of the accidents, including definitions and examples. The need
for such elementary explanation in this section and in the following section on
the parts of speech also points to an intended audience which had not yet start­
ed the study of Latin. Otherwise this vocabulary would be known to the stu­
dents and would not have to be repeated here. One can compare this treatment
to the mention (without explanation) of case, gender and number in the ortho­
graphic treatises of the previous century, when some knowledge of Latin
grammatical terminology was assumed.
The Douait françois is remarkable not only for being the first and the

Compare the Donait françois and a 13th-century Latin text (from Percival 1982:229):

Donait françois: Le premier voyel est 'a', et serra sonné en la poetrine. Le seconde est 'e', et
serra sonné en la gorge. Le tiers est 'i', et serra sonné entre les joues. Le quart est 'o', et serra
sonné au palat de la bouche. Le quint est 'u', et serra sonné entre les lèvres. (240)

Opusculwn de accentibus: A sonat in pectore, e perstrepit in gutture, i substringitur in fauci-

bus,  reboat in palato, u in labiorum summulo.

most complete of the 15th-century grammars, but also for the links it has to a
number of traditions - the Latin grammatical tradition of Aelius Donatus from
which the work takes its name; the medieval grammatical tradition of the
modistae; the traditions of Law French; the pedagogical traditions of the
orthographic treatises, the manières de langage and the nominalia described in
the preceding pages. The relationship of the Donait françois to each of these
traditions reflects, each in its own way, the status of French in England early in
the 15th century.
The Latin grammatical tradition which inspired the Donait françois is that
of Aelius Donatus, a native of Carthage, who was Jerome's teacher.28 His Ars
minor and Ars major formed the core of the elementary Latin syllabus for
more than a millennium, a fact that resulted in the use of his name to represent
any elementary grammar book. The Donait françois has tampered significantly
with the model, opening with the section on orthography and pronunciation
which are found in the Ars major (the more advanced part) of Donatus' text,
and describing the accidents in general terms before turning to the parts of
speech. While we find the same question-and-answer format in the Ars minor
and the Donait françois, the latter has more variety, occasionally slipping into
imperatives and longer explanations. One has the sense that the responses to
the Ars minor were meant to be learned by heart. Some of the responses in the
Donait françois are of that sort:

Quant especies sont ils des mos?

La primitive et la dirivative

In these examples, as in the Ars minor, one can imagine the grammar master
asking the question and having the class respond as a group. Merrilees, citing
Holtz, describes the classroom technique in these terms: "la matière de l' Art
mineur était probablement dictée à la classe, apprise par coeur et récitée à la
demande du maître" (1985:107). However, in the Donait françois, the roles
often seem reversed. The master expounds on the answer, addressing his
pupils directly and referring to himself in the first person:

Pour ceo gardez vous que vous ne mitiez pas le singuler pour le pulier, ne a contraire,
sicome font les sots. Mais pour tant toutez vois corn il y a belcoup des mos françois

Donatus' works have been edited by Heinrich Keil in Grammatici Laiini, Vol. 4:355-366
(Leipzig: Trübner, 1864). For more detail on the medieval adaptations of Donatus see Holtz
1981, Heinimann 1966 and Merrilees 1987.
90 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

que sont les mesmes en pulier come y sont en singuler [...] desquielz tous il ne me en
souvient pas faire une regle quant a present [...] (243; emphasis added)

We must concur with Merrilees's conclusion that "il ne s'agit plus d'une situa­
tion catéchétique" (1985:109).
Why did Barton's clerks feel obliged to make these alterations in the tradi­
tional approach? First let us consider the changes in order of presentation.
They needed to start with pronunciation because French pronunciation was
(and is) not obvious from its orthographical representation. The letter-sound
correspondences for French are not nearly so clear as they are for Latin. Fur­
thermore, this part of the grammatical tradition had already been worked out
for French in the orthographic treatises. The influence of these treatises shows
up in the description of nasal vowels, the concern with liaison and elision
phenomena, and the interest in gender and number variation for nouns. Thus
the choice of position of this part of the grammar is a practical one, both for
the authors, who have a ready model to get started with, and for the students,
who need this fundamental base before they can interpret orally the rest of the
The description of the accidents before the description of the parts of
speech is harder to explain. There is no obvious advantage, for the discussion
of accidents before parts of speech requires the student to understand the
concept of 'noun' and 'pronoun' (for example) before they have been ex­
plained in the text. Some of the accidents described in this part are only ap­
plicable to one of the parts of speech he presents later on. (Only noun (substan­
tive and adjective), verb, and pronoun get a full treatment.) 'Mood' is only
applicable to verbs, yet it appears in the general discussion of accidents.
Part of the explanation for this ordering of the morpho-syntactic part of
the grammar may come from the relationship of grammar to logic in the
medieval grammatical tradition of the modistae, so called for their efforts to
show the 'ways of signifying' {modi significandi) of the grammatical catego­
ries. Barton (or his 'clerks') was certainly aware of this tradition, as he men­
tions preceding grammarians, and speaks for instance of a distinction between
relatif de logi and relatif de gramoire. Although I have been able to find no
direct model for this innovation among the modistae, it is possible that Barton
wanted to place the discussion of the more general (and more semantically
oriented) categories of linguistic analysis before the more specific (and more
morphologically and syntactically defined parts of speech.29

Lusignan sees in the Donaitfrançois a continuation of the work of the modistae, as exem­
plified by the English grammarian Robert Kilwardby, highlighting in particular the analysis of
the article as a sign of case (1986:114-115). This notion of signs is certainly important to
Barton, as he uses it again in describing the 'signs' of the active and passive voices of the verb

If the changes in order reflect philosophical and practical considerations,

the change in the use of dialogue as a pedagogical technique seems driven by
purely practical considerations. Working from a Latin model here prevented
the authors from matching the classic simplicity of Donatus' questions and
answers. The categories and morphological distinctions which seemed so clear
and fixed in Latin were not always so clear or so fixed in French. One has the
impression that they started with a simple translation of Donatus' questions
and answers,30 and then had to patch those responses to approach French reali­
ty. Thus the transition from catechetical simplicity to a variety of other modes
to cover the discrepancies between Latin and French grammatical structures.
One of the modes selected was the use of dialogues as examples, particu­
larly question-and-answer type dialogues. The examples used to illustrate
grammatical points are generally practical, not literary (with the possible
exception of a few religious statements - e.g., il fait sçavoir que il y a grande
joie en paradis, 250). I cited above the series of examples drawn from school
life. Other examples recall the travel and bargaining dialogues of the manières
de langage: "Quantez lieues est il de Londres juques a Paris?" (251) and the
money terms used to illustrate 'primitive nouns': maille, denier, blanc (242).
The use of these examples shows the direct link between the other segments of
the didactic tradition and the grammars.
Interrogation forms a part of all model dialogues, but the authors of the
Donait françois go a step farther by devoting substantial portions of the
grammatical description, including the last two pages of the twelve-page trea­
tise, to short forms of reply to questions. They reveal this preoccupation early
on with their description of pronoun usage in response to questions:

il fault sçavoir que ces mos 'moy', 'to', 'soy', Tuy', 'cestuy', 'celly', 'icelly' [...] re
spondant doivent estre parlés pour leurs nominatifs, sicome en ceste exemple: "Janyn,
que fais tu?"; il doit respondre "Que, moy?" et non pas "je"; et le aultre luy doit dire
"Voire, toy!", et non pas "tu" [...] (248)

Similarly, the Donait françois describes pronoun order for question formation
and response:


(250). In the case of the article, it gets him into trouble when he must confront the awkward
fact that pronouns have 'signs' of dative (à) and ablative/genitive (de) but not of nominative
and accusative (248).
Merrilees 1987 describes 8 medieval French translations of the Ars minor. These were the
first step towards the study of French grammar as a subject, represented by the three Donait
françois of the early 15th century.
92 PERIOD IV (1362-1470)

Et sachez que, quant on demande aucune chose, le pronom que est nominatif case,
serra mis après son verbe, sicome "Dis je bien?", "Le as tu". Et aussi respondant à la
chose avant dite, sicome "Faitez bonne chere?", tu dois respondre "si fois je"; aussi:
"Non vous desplese?", et tu dois respondre "Non fait il" et non pas "Il non fait".

These are mere preliminaries to the final section of the treatise which describes
the proper use of être, avoir, and faire in creating short responses to questions
and statements. (It is in this context that the school-room examples cited above
were used.)
Why should so much attention be devoted to proper responses for ques­
tions? I believe this relates to the primary remaining use for French in England
at the time this treatise was composed: the law. This emphasis on interrogative
structures is ideal for training in courtroom techniques, and ties in with some
other linguistic features that are common to legal and administrative usage.
For instance, the Donaitfrançois explains the difference between celle and
ycelle by stating that the latter is "affirmative de la chose avant dite" (248),
i.e., a useful legal shortcut for avant dit (Eng.: 'the aforementioned') which so
clutters legal documents of the period. Another example is the proper use of
même, preposed to a noun: Ie mesmes Jean (249). These features make the
Donaitfrançois a very practical introduction to the French needed to practice
law, particularly when this treatise is combined with the other parts of the All
Souls manuscript, the nominale, the copy of Bibbesworth, the orthographical
treatise and the guide to letter writing. The nature, the contents, and the
examples of the grammatical presentation all reflect these practical uses for
Barton's grammar.31

5.4 Conclusions: Period TV

I have traced the development of a complete language training syllabus in

French and the inter-relationship of those parts. To the nominalia and the
orthographic treatises of Period III the masters of the dictamen schools associ­
ated with the University at Oxford have added grammars and guides to letter-
writing. More and more detailed instruction is required because less and less
French is heard and absorbed in the streets, the courts and the houses of Par­
liament. The development of this didactic package comes at the time French is
dead as a mother tongue in England, even among the highest nobility. Yet it

A phrase slipped into the Sloane 513 manuscript (ed. by Merrilees and Sitarz-Fitzpatrick)
also supports this conclusion. There we find one Thomas Phelyp practicing his legal formulae:
"Be yt knoyne unto all menne bu thys present that I Thomas Phelyp [illegible] Be it knoyng
unto all mene by this present [...]" (forthcoming in the The Liber Donaii. A Fifteenth-Century
Manual of French. London: Anglo-Norman Text Society. Plain Text Series).

retains its appeal because it is still the language of the law, in spite of the stat­
ute of 1362 and the nationalist sentiments inspired by the Hundred Years'
War. In fact, the Hundred Years' War offers a new reason to learn French just
as the others fade: the promise of the spoils of war and colonial administration
in conquered French territories. When this dream is lost, so is the last reason
for learning French among the ambitious members of the middle class. Anglo-
French was a dead language; Law French was losing ground and becoming
ever more artificial; Parisian French was a social grace aspired to by the upper
classes. In Period V Parisian French will benefit from the quick adaptation of
the grammatical tradition developed in Period IV to the new technology of
printing, and from the arrival of a new wave of French immigrants, the Protes­
tant refugees from religious persecution. At the same time it will face new
threats to its prestige, both from the past (the revival of Greek and Hebrew as
learned languages par excellence alongside Latin) and from the present (the
increased prestige of other vernaculars, particularly Italian and Spanish).


The technological and intellectual developments of the Renaissance had a

profound effect on the course of French studies in England. The first printed
text on the French language was by William Caxton, England's first printer,
and his new technology extended language learning beyond the classroom,
creating a new ideal of the pedagogical text, the manual that replaced the
master, an ideal which extended the learning of French to a new clientele. The
scholarly approach of the humanist scholars offered an alternative to the prac­
tical concerns which had guided the development of instructional materials in
the vernacular languages. The study of French grammar became a cultural
accomplishment, the gateway to French literature and culture, not to Anglo-
French Law or even cross-channel commerce. Translation took on a new
glory, and the comparisons that that activity required necessitated the devel­
opment of more complete guides to the French language, and a stronger
emphasis on translation as an instructional technique. The Reformation influ­
enced language instruction indirectly in two ways. First the Dissolution of the
monasteries (1535-36) freed lands which offered wealthy merchants an entree
into the class of landed gentry. To pursue these aspirations of nobility, their
children needed the same type of education provided the aristocrats' children,
a training that included mastery of the French language. Second, the persecu­
tions of the Counter-Reformation helped to meet the need for French teachers,
driving a new wave of French immigrants across the Channel. England en­
joyed an abundance of potential tutors, not just in French but also in Italian,
Spanish, Dutch and German. Simonini estimates that 5% of the population of
London was of foreign origin during the Elizabethan era (1952:7). London
was fast becoming a cosmopolitan center to rival the continental capitals.
With all these advantages one would assume that the study of French
flourished in Tudor England, and to a certain extent it did, as a necessary
social grace. But most of the motivations that inspired Englishmen to study
French in previous centuries - ambitions in the law, in the secretariat of the

Chancery, and in the fortunes of continental war - were seriously weakened by

the 16th century, and French faced new challengers among the vernaculars in
Italian and Spanish.

6.1 Official and Unofficial Uses of French

French gradually lost its linguistic monopoly in the study of the law,
although formal records of statutes were kept in French and Latin. In the
course of the 16th century more and more commentaries on the law were
published in English, starting with Rasteli's translation of the laws into Eng­
lish (1527).1 Furthermore, it was clearly recognized that Law French had little
to do with continental French, and the treatises to teach French no longer
mention Law French or provide examples of legal language. 2 De la Mothe
explains that

now it seemeth that almost there is no language more farre from the true French, then
the French of our lawes: There being almost no word, which either by intermingling, or
adding, or deminishing, or changing of a letter into another, they [lawyers] have not
altered or corrupted. (De la Mothe 1592:106)

Even its most skilled practitioners realized the limitations of this legal lan­
guage. Elyot found it difficult to achieve eloquence in Law French because it
"lacketh Elocution and Pronunciation, two of the principal parts of rhetoric"
(cited in Charlton 1965:176). Indeed, one has only to read passages like the
following to understand the low esteem held for Law French:

Nonetheless, well into the 17th century commentaries on the law were often written in
French. Les Cases de Grays Inn appeared in 1680, and the language of the law was not
changed by statute until 1731.

Some terms that have legal importance are included, but these do not have the importance
they had in the medieval texts. Palsgrave, for example, includes in his table of verbs such
expressions as "I Call upon a man to remembre a mater that I have in sute/ ie sollicite, prime
coniuga. I pray the if thou se my lerned counsayle in Westmynster hall/ call upon them to
remember my mater agaynst Bulkyn: le te prie si tu veoys mes advocatz, sergens, et procu-
reurs en la sale de westmynstre, de les solliciter quilz ayent sovenance de mon proces contre
Bulkyn". Interestingly, Palsgrave notes a difference between English and French legal practice
when he can find no equivalent for a standard English legal process: "I indyte a man by in­
dytement/ they have no suche processe in their lawe". Other legal terms to appear in Palsgrave
are 'depose', 'divorce', 'mortgage', 'mortmayne'. Palsgrave studied law (probably Canon
Law) at Louvain in 1517 (Carver 1940:xvii), but there is no record that he had ever gone
through the standard training in English common law at the Inns of Chancery or at the Inns of
96 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

Richardson An. Just, de . Banc, al Assises at Salisbury in Summer 1631 fuit assault
per prisoner la condemne pur felony que puis son condemnation ject un brickbat a le
dit justice que narrowly mist et pur ceo immediately fuit indictment drawn per Noy
envers le prisoner et son dexter manus ampute et fix al Gibbet sur que iuy mesme
immediatement hange in presence de Court. (Cited in Charlton 1965:176; for full
discussion see Baker 1984)

Students anived at this level of French, after elementary instruction at such

schools as Du Ploiche's and Hollyband's, through listening attentively to the
argumentation of cases at the courts, sitting in the 'crib', a space reserved for
apprentice lawyers. The establishment of the Inns of Chancery and the Inns of
Court took legal and managerial training out of the hands of the Oxford dicta-
tores such as Kingsmill and Sampson, who combined legal education with
basic linguistic education. 3 The elementary linguistic training fell into the
hands of London-based schoolmasters like Claudius Hollyband (de Sainliens),
while the more advanced learning took place, probably by practice alone (we
have no record of formal linguistic training) at the 'Third University', as the
Inns came to be known.4 A young student at the Inns could argue in English,
but more advanced students were expected to be able to argue in Law French
in the Moots, a regular and increasingly formalized public disputation held at
the commons. At the higher level Readings all work was done in Law French.
Appeals for the purification of Law French (i.e., restoring its relation to conti­
nental French) were circumvented by increased use of English as the medium
for legal discussion.5 Furthermore, students prepared for the bar increasingly

Education at the Inns of Chancery began during the 14th century as a kind of apprenticeship
in formulaic writing (see Tout 1927). For further discussion of the latest research on early
legal education, see Baker & Thorne 1990.
Sir George Buck wrote a description of the Inns of Court entitled The Thirde Universitie of
England in 1612. The term was already a commonplace by this time. For more information on
the development of education at the Inns see Charlton 1965:169-195. Thorne 1959 describes
the early history of Gray's Inn, but he does not mention linguistic training.

In 1540 Henry VIII appointed three men, Nicholas Bacon, Thomas Denton, and Robert
Gray, to study the nature of legal education at the Inns of Court. The three reformers took up
the problem of language, and suggested that barristers "do what they can to banish the corrup­
tion of both tongues [Latin and French]" (cited in Bland 1957:501). They went on to propose
a program of afternoon lectures in (good) Latin, Greek, and French, in order to improve
students' linguistic competence. Elyot, in the Boke called the Governour (I, 14), while en­
couraging future leaders to study law, wished that the laws were written "in a more clene and
elegant stile", in whatever language they appeared.

by reading rather than by listening (Charlton 1965:187), and those readings

were more and more often in English. Following Rasteli's translation of the
laws into English in 1527, the (old) Natura Brevium first appeared in English
in 1532. Littleton's Tenures, whose version in Law French dates to 1480,
appeared in English around 1525 (see Baker 1978:129-132). These Tenures,
gave the author the same kind of general recognition that Donatus and his Ars
minor enjoyed, to the extent that Hollyband named his introductory treatise to
the French language the Frenche Littelton (1576). Finally, John Perkins' Prof­
itable Booke Treating of the Lawes of England was first published in Law
French in 1530 and translated into English in 1555. The appearance of these
books and others like them further weakened the position of French within the
law and opened the study of the law to lower classes, who could not afford the
expensive extended stay required in the Inns of Court.
The study of the law was necessary not only for future lawyers, but also
for the landed gentry, an ever-growing category in the 16th century following
the Dissolution. Mercantile families could and did buy large tracts of lands and
set themselves up as landed gentry. For both the old and the new gentry some
knowledge of the law was necessary, particularly in the 16th century with the
changes in feudal land law. Leases and title deeds were all important in obtain­
ing and maintaining the status of gentry. To reach the largest number of these
clients, books had to be printed in a language they could understand - English
rather than French or Latin. For this audience Thomas Phayer produced his
Newe Boke of Presidents in 1534, promising to instruct the potential litigants

many notable and goodly precedents of practice of all sorts, forms and fashions, as
well for the assurance of lands, both free and copyhold, as for all manner of bargains,
covenants, and other matters belonging to the law [...] as indentures, deeds, feoffments,
dowers, jointures, bonds, releases, acquittances, warrants, exchanges, charters, patent
of offices, fairs and immunities, letters of safe conduct, bills of complaints, titles, pleas
and answers, letters of testimony with divers other instruments [...] (cited in Charlton

As landed gentry, new or old, these men would also have jurisdiction as lord
of the manor, and would have to possess some knowledge of common criminal
law. The treatises which permitted these men to learn the customs of the
baronial court were English translations of the medieval Latin Modus tenendis
curiam baronis and the medieval French La Court de Baron, and English
works such as John Kytchin's Jurisdictions or the Lawful authority of courts
Leet, Courts Baron, Court of Marshalseys, court of Pypowder and Ancient
Demesne together with the most necessary learning of tenures and all their
incidents [...] (1580). For legal professionals as well as for other interested
98 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

parties, the law was increasingly in English.6 The real breakthrough, however,
did not come until Coke's commentary on Littleton (1629), where he summa­
rizes the reasons for translating the legal treatises into English:
This part we have (and not without president) published in English, for that they
are an introduction to the knowledge of the nationall lawes of the Realme; a worke
necessarie, and yet heretofore not undertaken by any, albeit in all other professions
there are the like. We have left our Author to speake his owne language, and have
translated him into English, to the ende that any of the Nobilitie, or Gentrie of this
Realme, or of any other estate, or profession whatsoever, that will bee pleased to read
him and these Institutes, may understand the language wherin they are written.
I cannot coniecture that the generall communicating of these Lawes in the
English tongue can worke any inconvenience, but introduce great profit, seeing that
Ignorantia iuris non excusat, Ignorance of the Law excuseth not. [...]
And true it is that our Book of Reports and statutes in ancient times were writ­
ten in such French as in those times was commonly spoken and written by the French
themselves. But this kind of French that our Author hath used is most commonly
written and read, and very rarely spoken, and therefore cannot be either pure or well
pronounced. (Coke 1629: The Preface)

Note that the translation is not done specifically for lawyers (who could read
the original presented alongside), but for interested non-professionals. The
production of treatises in English allowed these non-professionals to under­
stand the laws that might apply to them, for, as Coke mentions, ignorance of
the law is not a valid legal defense. Finally, these works are translated into
English because even a learned English man who knew French would not be
able to understand the garbled French of these works. The legal professionals
who were obliged to learn French mastered a form of French never taught in
school, but rather learned in practice from less than optimal models.
Administrative French suffered from the same obsolescence as Law
French. As noted in the previous chapter, the last decades of the Hundred
Years' War eliminated all English hopes of a cross-channel empire, and with
that French lost much of its administrative base in English affairs. The excur­
sions across the English Channel that marked periods of adventurism for the

6 This transfer to English had nationalistic implications as well, as we can clearly see from
this passage in Thomas Starkey's England in the reign of King Henry the Eighth. A Dialogue
between Cardinal Pole and Thomas Lupset, Lecturer in Rhetoric at Oxford (1533-1536):

[...] our commyn law ys wryten in the French tonge, and therm dysputyd and tought,
wych, besyde that hyt ys agayne the commyn wele, ys also ignomynyouse and dysho-
nowre to our natyon; for as much as therby ys testyfyd our subiectyon to the Norman-
nys. (pp. 122-123 of the Cowper edition, Early English Text Society, Extra Series, 12)

House of Tudor7 in the late 15th and first half of the 16th century never pushed
far in from the coast, and definitively came to a close with the surrender of
Calais in 1558. For the most part, the interest in France and in French was a
peaceful one, one that appealed more to cultural exchange than to political
domination. Barcley cites this motivation in his prologue:

it is for the common wele and pleasure of all englysshe men/ as well
gentylmen/marchauntes/ as other common people that are not expert in the sayd lan­
guage. And furthermore, syth it has pleased al myghty god to reconsyle the pease
betwene the two realmes of Englande and Fraunce and to confederate them in love &
amyte my sayd lorde hath thought it expedyent that our people accompenyenge with
theym of fraunce sholde not be utterly ignorant in the frenche tunge

This peaceful state of affairs, however tenuous, rendered French less important
than ever in administrative use. Nonetheless, Palsgrave specifically mentions
service in the secretariat as a reason for mastering French beyond the elemen­
tary rules of pronunciation and morphology presented in his first two books:

But if any of our nation be desyrous to be exquisyt in the frenche tong/ and by traycte
of tyme/ covyte to come unto suche parfyte knowledge therin/ that he may be able to
do servyce in the faict of secretarishyppe or other wyse in to those partyes to have

Most of these actions involved the coastal towns of Calais and Boulogne. In his Treatise in
English and Frenche (1553), Pierre Du Ploiche notes with pride in his adopted country that
the English incurred great losses on the French:

And you sir, from whence come you?

I come from Boullinge... [Boulogne]
What newes?
I know none but good. I harde say that the Englishemen have kylled many frenche
And where?
Before Boulloinge.
When came the newes?
This morning by a poste. (1553:1 i verso)

French soldiers fare equally poorly in Eliot's Ortho-Epia Gallica (1593), where he de­
scribes them as "fuyards de P avie" (140; taken from Rabelais, Gargantuach.39), and later as
"bragards de France, hardis à la bouteille & fuyards à la Lance (142). Palsgrave also men­
tions these English incursions in France, emphasizing the profits to be had. In his table of
verbs he offers the following example for the verb 'to geopard': "I coulde have gotten a
goodlye botye one daye when we were in Fraunce if I durst have geoparded" (1530:111, ccxlv
recto). Pillaging was the primary source of income for the soldiers.
100 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

farther charge/ or to use amongest them the fait of marchandyse/ let hym rede over all
the thre bokes by order/ and he shall evidently parceyve that the fruyt of his labour
shall farre passe any traveyle/ which shalbe nedefull or requisyte to be there about
employed. (Palsgrave 1530:"The Introduction of the authour",  vi recto)

However, for the most part the Chancery clerks and the royal secretaries were
trained by the same methods as the law clerks, by memorizing ancient formu­
lae which no longer had any connection with the spoken language. In fact,
from the beginning of the 15th century if not earlier, the first step in the study
of the law was a stint in the Inns of Chancery, where the apprentice lawyer
would learn the elementary expressions necessary to his trade.8 As more and
more works were translated into English, or composed originally in English,
the French of the legal and administrative systems became in England as dead
a language as ancient Greek, and far less respected.
In the Church administration French had remained active only in isolated
monasteries and convents. In spite of this small role in administration, the
status of French in England was affected indirectly by the on-going battle
between English and Latin, and then by the rush of refugees fleeing inquisition
and civil war on the continent.

6.2 Who learned French?

French remained a necessity only for foreign travel (for diplomacy, war,
or commerce) and as a mark of class. Outside of the British Isles, few people
knew English, so the Englishmen who ventured across the English Channel
had to communicate in some other tongue. Florio inserts this conversation into
his "Reasonynges upon Learnyng and Philosophie":
What thinke you of this English tongue, tel me I pray you?
It is a language that wyl do you good in England, but passe Dover it is woorth
Is it not used then in other countreyes?
No sir, with whom wyl you that they speake?
With English marchants. (Florio 1578: N ii recto)

This ignorance of English on the continent is also attested to by the rarity of

This practice of treating the Inns of Chancery as an elementary training ground for lawyers
was at first condemned by various chancellors. There are frequent statutes in the 14th century
forbidding intermingling of lawyers and chancery clerks. However, the statutes simply reveal
the extent of the problem, as Tout (1927) points out. There would have been no need for such
statutes is lawyers were not coming to the Inns of Chancery for this kind of training. By the
16th century, the lawyers dominate the schools of the Inns of Chancery.

textbooks to teach English to French speakers.9 Caxton implies that his book
could be used both ways when he describes it as a "tres bonne doctrine pour
aprendre briefment fransoys et engloys" (emphasis added; 1480: A i verso). In
1553 Meurier published in Rouen a Trátcte pour apprendre a parler Francoys
et Angloys, which presumably taught English to French speakers, as well as
French to English speakers.10 The earliest text which has survived is Jacques
Bellot's Le Maistre d'Escole Anglois (1580), composed for François de Valois
in 1580, at the time that negotiations were taking place to marry him to Eliza­
beth. English merchants wishing to trade on the continent therefore had to
learn a foreign language, and French, being the language of the largest trading
partner and the language with the widest currency even in other countries, was
the first choice of most traders.
Equally important for the French language in England was the continuing
association of French with the aristocracy. Barcley remarks that French "hath
ben so moche set by in England that who hath ben ignorant in the same lan­
guage hath not ben reputed to be of gentyll blode". The prestige factor played
well among the aristocrats and those who would join them. This was, after all,
a time of great social movement, and social climbing was a favorite activity, as
remarked by Florio:

A handycrafts man wil be a marchant, a marchant wil be a gentleman, a gentleman wyl

be a Lorde, a Lorde a Duke, a Duke a King: so that every one seekes to overcome
another in pride. (Florio 1578:D iv verso)

Knowledge of foreign languages, particularly French, was a mark of class, but

the knowledge apparently did not have to be very profound:

What thinke you of the maners of English men? tel me of curtesie.

I wyll tell you, some are well manered, but many yl.
Toward whom are they yl manered?
Toward Strangers: and fewe of these English men delight to have their chyldren

The reluctance to learn English in France persisted well into the 19th century, as attested by
this commentary in Génin's 1852 edition of Palsgrave:

Cette gloire revendiquée par les Anglais, d'avoir les premiers écrit sur la grammaire
française, ne serait, à tout prendre, qu'un hommage rendu à la France; car si nos voi­
sins avaient attendu d'un peuple étranger la première grammaire anglaise, peut-être
l'attendraient-ils encore. (Génin 1852:6-7)
Unfortunately the only known remaining copy of this book was destroyed in World War II.
Meurier's authorship is far from certain; see Kibbee 1989:66.
102 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

learne divers languages, whiche thing displeaseth me. When I arrived first in
London, I coulde not speake Englishe, and I met above five hundred persons,
afore I coulde find one, that could tel me in Italian, or French, where the Post
And what would you have them doo? learne languages:
Yea sir, and bring up their children well, and have them taught to reade, write,
and speake divers languages, and not do, as many of these English Gentlemen
doo, that I know.
And what doo they?
I see certaine Gentlemen rather townes [Italian: villani], to tel the truth, that
begyn to learne to spake Italian, French, and Spanish, and when they have learned
two woords of Spanish, three woords of French, and foure words of Italian, they
thinke they have yenough, they wyll study no more. (Florio 1578:N iii recto-

In contrast to Florio's protestations of English ignorance, Gabriel Harvey

claimed that at Cambridge students had

deserted Thomas Acquinas and the whole rabblement of schoolmen for modern French
and Italian works such as Commines and Machiavelli, Paradines, in Frenche, Plutarche
in Frenche, and I know not how many outlandish braverayes of the same stamp [...]
You can not stepp into a schollars studye but (ten to on) you shall likely finde open
either Bodin de Republica or Le Royes exposition uppon Aristotles Politiques, or some
other like Frenche or Italian Politique Discourses. (Cited in Simonini 1952:33)

As we can see from these passages, French faced some competition for the
position of most prestigious modern language, competition that at first came
only from other continental vernaculars, but later came from English itself.
The status of French is demonstrated by its inclusion in the proposals for
school reform that followed the Dissolution. Before the Dissolution there were
more than 300 grammar schools; afterwards, 41. Before the Dissolution the
average number of degrees granted annually at Oxford was 127; afterwards, 33
(Simonini 1952:5). The decimation of the school system may have been catas­
trophic in the short run, but it did provide a rare opportunity for wholesale
reform. The second half of the 16th century was a time of unprecedented
growth in school foundations. By the end of the century there were 360 gram­
mar schools (Caspari 1954:254). Among the schools created at this time are
found some of the most prestigious public schools of England today: Harrow,
Merchant Taylors', Rugby, etc. The focus of education shifted from the prepa­
ration of future clerks and clerics to the preparation of future men of state, as
the nobility, which previously had dismissed university learning as unneces-

sary, discovered that education was required if they were to keep their status.
The practical turn is reflected by the place of language study in the major
manifestos for reform.
Most of these reform movements were inspired by the model of the
courtier, directly or indirectly by Castiglione's Il Cortegiano. This work,
banned by the end of the century in Italy and Spain, describes the education of
the complete Renaissance nobleman, learned in the classics and in martial,
political and economic affairs. This model of education was taken up in Ely-
ot's Boke called the Governour (1531), and later in Roger Ascham's Schole-
master, as well as in Archbishop Cranmer's proposal for a College in the
Cathedral Church of Canterbury (1539) and Sir Humphrey Gilbert's for
"Queene Elizabethen Achademy", which he described in a treatise that ap­
peared in 1570, the same date as the posthumous publication of Ascham's
Scholemaster. The model finds its reflection in the grammars of the last quar­
ter of the century by the inclusion of long descriptive passages designed to
introduce young gentlemen to wisdom and to continental culture. Thus Holly-
band in the Frenche Littelton (1576) presents twenty-six pages of proverbs and
"golden sayings", the latter being numbered lists of things to do or not to do:

One lendeth not willingly these three thinges.

1 His wife
2 His horse
3 His armes

Florio, in his Firste Fruites (1578), provides the same type of information for
Italian in Chapter 18 ("Sentences divine and profane") and Chapter 19 ("Pro­
verbs"), and adds to them a general description of European culture, particular­
ly the history of ancient Greece and Rome. De la Mothe (1592) includes a long
list of proverbs and sayings, and a portrait of the European languages and their
primary authors. Eliot takes up this theme in his Ortho-Epia Galilca (1593),
recommending Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish and French authors. Thus the

Richard Pace, Henry VIII's secretary of state, reported that one nobleman declared at
dinner that "All learned men are beggars [...] gentlemen's sons ought to be able to blow their
horn skilfully, to hunt well, and to carry and train a hawk elegantly; but the study of letters is
to be left to the sons of peasants". Pace pointed out that in that case the nobleman's sons
would be unable to conduct the affairs of state, and would be at the mercy of well-educated
sons of peasants (Caspari 1954:258). A similar debate raged over the education of Henry
VIII's natural son, Henry Fitzroy. Palsgrave, entrusted with the task, complained bitterly over
the interference from the noblemen in the court, who were taking the young Henry out hunt­
ing and hawking when he should have been learning Latin and French (Carver 1940:xxxi and
Dowling 1986:209-210).
104 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

extra cultural material in the grammars shifts from the 'books of courtesy'
(elementary guides to good table manners) in the early part of the century, to
religious and moral material in the middle part of the century (Du Ploiche's
catechism, Hollyband's treatise against dancing), to brief guides to popular
wisdom and European culture at the end of the century. All of this reflects the
importance accorded a new model of gentleman in the 16th century.
This model of the gentleman, to be arrived at through the new model of
education, helped to overcome the primary obstacle to education of the nobili­
ty in England, the system of wardship. Under this system, the young nobleman
was sent to serve another noble at the age of 14, and this practice had prevent­
ed this class from pursuing the educational opportunities of the university
(opportunities it was not inclined to take advantage of in any case). In the
latter half of the 16th century educational reformers proposed the establish­
ment of special schools where noblemen could learn the skills now required
for leadership of the state, schools such as 'Queene Elizabethen Achademy'.
At the Achademy, Gilbert planned to bridge the gap between the scholastic
education of the universities and the practical education received at the Inns of
Court and other less formal institutions, The study of logic, rhetoric, Latin,
Greek, Hebrew and the modern languages (French, Italian, Spanish and
German) would be the foundation. Then the more advanced studies, those of
the old quadrivium, would always be combined with practical demonstrations:
arithmetic and geometry with the science of fortification, astronomy with
navigation, etc. (Charlton 1965:156-157). Both Cranmer and Gilbert include
the study of the modern languages (particularly French) in the curriculum, an
important advance, but one that was not to be acted upon for another century.12
In the preparation of noble women, languages received similar attention if
not any more action, in spite of the example of Queen Elizabeth and in spite of
Peter Erondell's description of French as the lingua mulierum. An example of
the action is Giovanni Brutols La institutione di unafaciulla nata nobilmente
(Anvers: Plantin, 1555), originally presented in Italian and French columns,

Wakely (forthcoming) points out that the study of French in Scottish schools was apparent­
ly much more established than in England. He cites the account of James Melville's school
days (in the 1560s), which states that Melville learned French at the same time as Latin in the
school of Logie (near Montrose). At the grammar school of Perth John Rowe studied French
as a regular subject. Before the founding of the university at St. Andrews (1411), many Scot­
tish students went to Paris to continue their studies, and even after that date the ties between
Scotland and France remained quite strong. A Spanish ambassador reported to Ferdinand and
Isabella in 1498 that French was widely taught and widely spoken in Scotland (Lambley
1920:154). For all this interest, however, there is little evidence in the form of school texts.
Only one of specifically Scottish origin has been determined (see Murray 1904-1906), and no
copy of it is extant.

first translated into English in 1579 by Thomas Salter, but more importantly
presented in a trilingual edition in 1598 "for the better instruction of such as
are desirous to studie those tongues" The necessarie,fit, and convenient educa­
tion of a yong gentlewoman; London: Adam Islip). In spite of this invitation to
learn French and Italian through this book, women's education generally
stopped at the age of 13 (Richard Mulcaster, cited in Kelso 1956:76) before
they would have received formal training in French. Women were of course
excluded from the programs in Law French at the Inns of Chancery and of
Court. Thus women's concerns were largely excluded from the French text­
books prepared by the Huguenot refugees, for their schools were aimed pri­
marily at merchants. Erondell's French Garden (1605) set out to fill that gap,
and was praised by one l'S. D,' who saw this work as a woman's equivalent of
Hollyband's manuals:

Ladies have long'd to match old Holliband,

That they with men might parle out their parte:
Their wittes are rare, and they have tongues at hand,
Of Nature full, their only want is Arte:
Where former age regarded not their neede,
Before all others thou hast done the deede.
("In commendation of Mounsieur Erondel, and his Garden", Erondell 1605: A vi recto;
see also Kelso 1956:75)

The study of French (and other modern languages) was commended in the
16th century, but it remained largely outside the formal educational program,
just as it had been in the Middle Ages. Thus we see Hollyband suggesting to
Robert Sackville, apparently still ignorant of French as a university student,
that he study French in his spare time at the university, as a diversion from
more serious studies:

These causes have alluredmeeto dedicate this simple worke unto you, bycause you
are not entred any thinge at all into the language, but are new to learne: not that you
shuld leave of your weightier, and worthier studies in the Universitie, but when yor
minde is amazed, and dazeled with longe readinge, you may refresh and disport you in
learning this tongue. (Hollyband 1573:A iii verso)
106 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

For the nobility, French was an ornament to be added quickly 13 through pri­
vate tutoring.
The place of modern languages within the educational system thus de­
pends largely on the class of the person to be educated. The highest level of
nobility, which only slowly came to accept the need for more than minimal
formal education, counted on quick tutoring sessions in languages to meet
their needs. Merchants and the lesser nobility relied more on the schools of
Huguenot refugees for the basic preparation needed for trade or for admission
to university or legal training. Throughout the period, some textbook authors
claimed that the books themselves would provide the key to language learning,
and the students could master new languages without school or tutor.
Not all English men chose French as the first modern language to be
learned. Particularly in the second half of the century, Italian, and to a lesser
degree Spanish, competed for the top spot among vernacular languages. In A
Plaine Pathway (1575) the author assumes that the learner of French will
already know Italian and Spanish, and compares the pronunciation of certain
letter combinations to these languages. Italian, which in the 17th century
became indispensable for trade in the Mediterranean basin, was more prized in
the 16th century as the language of Dante, Boccaccio, Castiglione, etc. Ironi­
cally, the popularity of Italian in England was in no small part due to French
influence, for Italian had become the prestige vernacular in the French court
by the mid-16th century. The French passion for Italian, as well as the arrival
in England of Italian refugees following the establishment of the Inquisition in
Italy in 1542, both contributed to the popularity of Italian in England. Henry
VIII learned Italian, and Elizabeth had mastered the language well enough to
converse with visiting Venetian ambassadors in their own language in 1554.
The vernaculars were in the ascendancy, and the refugee schoolteachers
were anxious to profit from the fashion. In the early 1550s Michael Angelo
Florio, the father of John Florio (who was himself to write a number of Italian
textbooks in the last quarter of the century), set up the first public instruction
in Italian. The temporary return of Catholic reign in England broke the
strength of the Italian (Protestant) Church, and upon Elizabeth's accession the
French Church (aided by the stay of English Protestant refugees in Geneva)
played the dominant role in foreign Protestant circles. The number of French
refugees into England certainly far exceeded the number of Italians. The limit-

The speed at which the student was supposed to learn French is nothing short of astonish­
ing, particularly given the resources provided in the manuals in question. Then as now, the
language merchants promised complete fluency in a matter of weeks. De la Mothe (1592)
thinks three or four days should suffice for learning French pronunciation. Florio finds three
months sufficient for mastering Italian.

ed strength of Italian may also be seen by the fact that most of the texts, aside
from those written by the second-generation John Florio, were composed by
Englishmen (William Thomas, Henry Granthan, John Sanford) or by a
Frenchman, Hollyband.14 Because its appeal depended more on prestige than
on utility, Italian remained an accomplishment of the nobility. For this reason,
the Italian Church was singled out for criticism by Ascham, who complained
that too many courtiers were spending too much time at the Italian Church in
hopes of picking up a continental veneer.
Spanish had a more limited attraction. The negotiations for a marriage
between Elizabeth and Philip, followed by the ill-fated voyage of the Armada,
both inspired some interest in Spanish. Frequently, however, Spanish literature
was studied through Italian or French translations. Hollyband's Arnalt and
Lucenda was based on Maraffi's Italian translation of Diego de San Pedro's
original. Richard Carew's The Examination of Men s Wits (1594) was translat­
ed from Camillo Camilli's Italian translation of Juan Huarte's Examen de
Ingenios para la Ciancias (1573) (Simonini 1952:18). John Bourchier, Lord
Berners, translated Guevara's Golden Book of Marcus Aurelius from a French
translation, and Sir Francis Bryan did the same for Guevara's Dispraise of the
Life of a Courtier (Dowling 1986:199). The first grammars of Spanish des­
tined for an English audience date from the 1590s (Minsheu, Percyvall, and
Besides these challenges from other continental vernaculars, the position
of French was threatened by the rise of English. In this conflict, egalitarian
movements, aided by the liberating technology of printing, advanced the cause
first of good, plain English, and then of English eloquence. The battle for the
dignity of the English language, in the face of the ancient languages and of
other modern languages, centers both on notions of eloquence reborn with the
New Learning and on notions of worthiness related to scripture. The discovery
and dissemination of classical texts clearly revealed the stylistic weaknesses of
medieval Latin, but English was not yet ready to replace Latin as a learned

The first Italian grammar published in England was Thomas' Principal Rules of the Italian
Grammer (1550). Granthan's An Italian Grammar, a translation of Scipio Lentulo's grammar
of Italian written in Latin, followed in 1575 and Sanford's An Introduction to the Italian
Tongue in 1605. Sanford also published guides to French and Spanish. Claudius Hollyband
combined rules with dialogues in his Pretie and Wittie History of Arnalt and Lucenda (1575)
and the Italian Schoolemaister (1583). In the Campo di Fior (1583) he provided dialogues
taken from Vives in four languages (French, Latin, Italian, English), but it is clear that the
emphasis is on Italian and English. John Florio's works include the First Fruites (1578), the
Second Frutes (1591), and the World of Words (1598). In keeping with the multilingual skills
demonstrated by Sanford and Hollyband, Florio was also the first translator into English of
Montaigne's Essais (1603).
108 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

language. The New Learning was slow to penetrate the English intelligentsia.
The earliest English Humanists went to Italy in the 1470s and largely stayed
there. The second generation, around the turn of the century, a group which
included Thomas Linacre, William Grocyn and William Latimer, helped to
spread the New Learning in scientific circles. The third generation, including
Thomas More and Palsgrave, brought the New Learning to the court. Unfortu­
nately, this third generation was the last, for Henry VIII closed so many
schools with the Dissolution (1535-6), that it took English education a half-
century to recover. The notion of eloquence had been revived, but the dissemi­
nation of the practice was slowed by the disruption in the educational system.
In the meantime, Church affairs, particularly the translation of the Bible
and the establishment of an English-language liturgy, played a large part in the
establishment of English as a worthy equivalent of French and Latin. Early in
the century, the author of The Kalender of Shepherdes lamented the gap
between English and the learned languages, a gap that translation still could
not bridge:

Remember clarkes dayly dothe theyr delygens,

In to oure corrupte speche maters to translate.
Yet betwene frenche and englysshe is grete deffens.
Their longage in redynge is douse and dylycate.
In theyr mother tonge they be so fortunate.
They have the bybyll and the apocalyps of devynyte,
With other nobyll bokes that in Englyche may not be.
(Sommer 1892:169)

The translation of the Bible into English was a long process. Tyndale's
translation of the New Testament appeared in Worms in 1525, only two years
after Lefèvre d'Étaples' French version, and the Pentateuch followed in 1530.
In that same year Henry VIII forbad vernacular translations of the scriptures.
This proved only a temporary setback,15 for in 1536 Tyndale's translation was
finally printed in England, only to have publication of vernacular Bibles again
banned from 1541-1545 (Moore 1970:29). Other translations, by Bishop
Steven Gardiner, Miles Coverdale, and John Rogers, appeared during this five-
year period of openness. By the time of the second ban on Bible translation,

This was a temporary setback for the publication of the translations, but a permanent one
for Tyndale: he was executed in 1535, a fate that was to befall John Rogers, another biblical
translator, as well. The copies of Tyndale's translation were often the fuel of book-burning
bonfires, some presided over by Wolsey. For a fuller account of the history of the Bible in
English, particularly the Geneva translation of 1558, see Martin 1915:225-254.

the move to English was firmly established. In 1544, Henry ordered the prepa­
ration of an English litany, and by his death in 1545 the Creed, the Lord's
Prayer and the Ten Commandments had an authoritative translation into Eng­
At his death, the battle over the Bible was far from over. Sir John Cheke,
reacting to what was perceived as an overly latinate version by Bishop Gardin­
er, attempted a translation using Saxon roots as much as possible — gainrising
replacing resurrection, for example. 16 The Genevan New Testament, influ­
enced by Olivetan's French Bible (corrected by Calvin), appeared in 1558, and
Elizabeth I approved the printing of the complete Bible in English in 1560.
The Catholic Church responded with an English version of the New Testament
printed in Reims (1562).
All of these efforts served to make English the language of educated
discourse in England. The new confidence in English is reflected hesitatingly
in Andrew Borde's The fyrst boke of the Introduction of knowledge (1548),
where he states that "The speche of England is a base speche to other noble
speches, as Italion, Castylion, and Frenche; howbeit the speche of Englande of
late dayes is amended" (cited in Jones 1953:13-14). Five years later Thomas
Wilson produced his Arte of Rhetorique, and such books appeared with greater
and greater frequency over the second half of the 16th century (see Jones
1953:186-189). By 1582 Richard Mulcaster was able to proudly proclaim
English the equal of any language, ancient or modern: "I honor the Latin but I
worship the English" (cited in Jones 1953:193). By the time of the 1585 edi­
tion of the Sheepheardes Kalender English had gained enough confidence that
the last line was changed to "with other noble bookes that now in English be".
The root cause of all this interest in English was a new egalitarianism,
inspired by the religious spirit of the Reformation, combined with the decima­
tion of the educational system following the Dissolution. By translating the
Bible and other works into English, knowledge was open to all, not just to
those who had had the opportunity for advanced studies. This challenge to
authority was not universally welcomed. In religion, John Jewel found open
access to scripture demeaning to the word of God:

The difficulty of this enterprise was one reason that English was held in low esteem by
foreign commentators. Thus Florio describes English as

a language confused, bepeesed [Italian: repezata] with many tongues: it taketh many
words of the latine, & mo from the French, & mo from the Italian, and many mo from
the Duitch, some also from the Greke, & from the Britaine, so that if every language
had his owne wordes againe, there woulde but a fewe remaine for English men [...]
take a booke and reade, but marke well, and you shall not reade foure woordes to-
geather of true English. (Florio 1578:N ii verso)
110 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

Yee [Protestants] prostitute the Scriptures [...] as baudes doo theire Harlottes, to the
Ungodly, Unlearned, Rascal People [...] Premises, Light Personnes, and the rifferaffe of
the people ( Replie unto Mr. Hardinges Answeare, 1565, cited in Jones 1953:63)

In medicine too the doctors feared the loss of their monopoly if translation
opened the door of knowledge to those who had not been formally trained.
John Read recounted an incident in which he was told

that there were too many bookes set foorth in the English toung [...] and that the Arte
[of medicine] is therby made common. For that, quoth he, everie Gentleman is as well
able to reason therin, as our selves (A most excellent and compendious method of
curing wounds, 1588, cited in Jones 1953:47)

Whatever the regrets for the loss of monopoly, the simple fact was that follow­
ing the loss of the church-related grammar schools, a generation of young
Englishmen had grown up with very little opportunity to master Latin (or
French, or any other foreign language). The transmission of knowledge in
English was a practical necessity, at least until the school system was back on
its feet.
Translation, prosperity, and military successes such as the victory over the
Armada, all these served to boost the stock of the English language and further
diminish the hold of French, or any other foreign language, on the English
people. Language schools, established on the fringes of the educational system
by refugees from the continent, and the manuals put out by their teachers and
disseminated through the new medium of printing, satisfied the desire, based
more on fad than necessity, to learn French.

6.3 Language and the Teaching of French

6.3.1 Introduction

The instruction of French took place in three contexts: the individual tutor
for the nobility and the wealthy merchants; the language school (especially
those located in the neighborhood of St. Paul's Churchyard in London) for the
middle class; self-instruction with the help of the many texts designed for that
purpose, and written by practitioners in one of the first two contexts. This last
group is the new possibility opened by the technology of printing, but we have
little evidence of its popularity, except the indirect evidence that more and
more books were produced for that purpose. In the remaining two groups, the
grammars may be distinguished by a number of factors: the presence or ab­
sence of general reflection on language and languages, the description and
definition of the parts of speech, the emphasis on rules or practice in teaching
method, the quantity of grammatical detail, presence or absence of dialogues,

and the emphasis on literary/philosophical or mercantile vocabulary.

Before looking at the 16th century developments in these areas, let us
recall the characteristics of the late medieval French curriculum, as defined by
the program of such practitioners as Thomas Sampson and William of King-
smill. In the manuscript compilations that appear to have come from their
schools the dominant features are orthography and pronunciation, verb conju­
gation, syntax of pronouns and articles, and vocabulary development, both
through classified word lists and dialogues. While the Donaitfrançois pro­
vides definitions for a number of grammatical terms (semivowel, mute, spe­
cies, number, figure, gender, person, noun substantive, noun adjective, pro­
noun, and verb), 17 the other 'grammatical' treatises {Liber donati, Donait
soloum douce franceis de Paris) are little more than conjugation lists. Thus, in
general we see a high degree of interest in French morphology and in vocabu­
lary development in this program, and relatively less interest in pronunciation
and syntax. This corresponded well to the official uses of French in commerce,
administration and the law, and less well to the social and literary interests of
the 16th century. Therefore, while the medieval model is not completely
abandoned in the 16th century, only a few grammarians limit themselves to
this content.
We shall return to a more detailed discussion of the grammatical and
lexical information contained in these works, but first let us take a closer look
at the ideas that permeate these works, so that we can better understand the
developments that take place over the course of the 16th century. At the
beginning of this chapter, printing, humanism and reform were presented as a
background to the grammatical and pedagogical conflicts that occupy the
foreground of this portrait. Each of these had an impact on the nature and
content of language teaching in the 16th century. Printing

Printing was the first to arrive in England, but its influence on the presentation
of French took some time to make an impact. Printing changed the nature of
the grammatical works in two ways: first, through the use of font variation and
special characters grammatical information could be presented in a more inter­
esting and clearer way; secondly, the amount of information could be greatly
expanded. The first printed texts are taken directly from manuscript models -
Caxton's Vocabulary (1480) from the Livre des Mestiers (ca. 1340), and the

Lusignan and Swiggers see the inclusion of certain distinctions as a link between the
modistic grammars being produced in Paris and the preparation of the Donaitfrançois. See
above, p. 90.
112 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

two small texts printed by Wynkyn de Worde and Richard Pynson are a compi­
lation combining a small portion of the grammatical information included in
Sampson's syllabus with extracts from the 'Book of Courtesy' tradition. In
these and in Barcley (1521) and A Very Necessarye Boke18 the advantages of
printing are not exploited in the least, with the exception of the use of margins
for supplemental information, a technique already well known in manuscript
copies.19 Valence (1528) uses bracketed examples set back to back to demon­
strate the changes in word order occasioned by interrogation and negation (see
Plate I). Palsgrave (1530) uses different fonts to distinguish French and Eng­
lish, but more importantly labels both pages and parts of his book so that he
can cross-reference particularly between different parts of the first book and
between the second and the third books. Ail three books are divided into clear­
ly-labeled chapters (all rules and exceptions pertaining to one feature of
French), and subdivided into individual rules (with indications in the margins).
For example, Chapter 49 of his first book, subdivided into two rules and an
exception, describes the elision of final unstressed <e> (see Plate II). This
clear labeling permits him to culminate the first book with a practical exercise,
relating his phonetic transcription of the first verse of Alain Charrier's Quadri-
logue to the chapters and rules presented earlier:

I shall shew the lernar/ howe many of the sayd rules be used in the seconde line/ and
lymyt the chaptres/ where I make mencion of them. Fyrst the seconde line is written/
Alatreháutoeeuzsellántomaiestédeprinsosl without any maner distinction betwene
worde and worde: wherby I declare the brefnesse that the french tong useth in soun-
dyng of theyr wordes/ Whiche in redynge and spekynge never cesse or pause/ tyl they
come at suche worde/ where the poynt shulde be: as I have declared in the .xlviii.
chaptre/ in the .iiii. rule of the same. Second/all the wordes of one syllable be ioyned
in writtyng to the wordes of many syllables as though they were partes of them to
declare/ that there is no worde in the frenche tong of one syllable whiche of his owne
nature hath any accent/but is ioyned in sounde to the next worde folowyng hym of
many syllables/ accordyng as I have declared in the .lvii. chaptre/ in the fyrst rule of

Alston, in a prefatory note to the Scolar Press reprint of this work, dates it ca. 1550, but the
contents and the language place it with the earliest printed texts of the end of the 15th and
beginning of the 16th century.
Later texts will exploit the margins in much more interesting ways. Hollyband uses the
margins of the Frenche Littelton (1576) to include explanatory material (e.g., the value of a
farthing) and alternate spellings. Eliot uses the margins in the 'Parlement of Pratlers' section
of his Ortho-Epia Gallica (1593) to present full recapitulations of sound-letter equivalencies
on each pair of facing pages. For a general discussion of the use of margins in 16th-century
printed books see Slights 1989.

the same. (Palsgrave 1530:I, xxii recto-verso)

Palsgrave goes on to describe the application of nineteen other rules in this one
line of phonetic transcription.20 Similar cross-referencing is found between the
rules of the second book and the elaborations upon those rules in the third
book, and between the vocabulary lists in the third book and the rules which
apply to the part of speech discussed. All of this is made possible by the clarity
of the formatting and the labeling of each part, a process that would have been
at best unsure left to the hands of copyists, particularly students (proven by the
many errors in the medieval texts, left to us by students who took down their
rules as dictation). Other advances in general presentation are particularly
noticeable in the dictionaries of the second half of the century. There we find
the use of head-words at the top of the page for ease of access, and special
symbols to mark items of interest. Baret offers an index of words in each
language in his Alvearie (1573 and 1580), permitting the reader to use his
dictionaries in any direction, not only the direction of the individual entry.
Thus, in spite of the fact that the entries are alphabetical by Latin word, the
reader can, if so desired, find a French equivalent to an English word, or vice
versa. Perhaps the greatest improvement is the establishment of alphabetical
order as the primary means of organization. Alphabetical order was not un­
known in the medieval word-lists, but it was less frequent than subject organi­
zation.21 The use of alphabetical access permits the user to know where a given
word will be found, without requiring the user to understand the cosmology of
the author. Palsgrave alternates between alphabetical and semantic organiza­
tion in his word lists (divided already by part of speech). Nouns, adjectives,
pronouns, verbs, and conjunctions are listed alphabetically; adverbs and inter­
jections thematically. Veron (1552) offers alphabetical access to the entire
combined lexicon, but only through the Latin word. Baret, as mentioned
above, includes indexes to allow access from any of the included languages
(Latin, English, French and Greek). Only Hadrianus Junius, in the Nomencla­
tor (revised by John Higgins in 1585 to include French and English), continues
the tradition of the classified vocabularies.
Aside from this clarity of presentation, printing also offered two other

The author (perhaps Meurier) of A plaine pathway to the French tongue (1575) uses a
similar if less elaborate scheme to relate his 26 rules of French pronunciation to a phonetic
transcription of a passage from Matthew vi.
Whether or not alphabetical ordering is truly an advance has been the subject of some
debate (see for example McArthur 1986). Now a new technology, the computer, is opening
the way to a greater diversity of means of access, including thematic and relational ordering
of dictionaries.
114 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

distinct advantages to the language teacher: the use of special symbols and the
great expansion of the amount of material one could include. The special
symbols came in handy particularly in the description of French phonetics,
where the conflict between the 'true orthography' and the pronunciation of
French remained one of the chief obstacles to learning French. Thus Holly-
band, in his Frenche Littelton (1576) and again in the De pronuntiatione
(1580), places small crosses under letters that are written but not pronounced
(see Plate III). John Eliot, in the Ortho-Epia Gallica (1593), invents a symbol
to represent the /z/ sound, <zi>. In the dictionaries, special symbols are used to
denote obsolete words, examples, and proverbial expressions (see Plate IV).
The graphic possibilities of the new technology thus further eased the use of
these books as reference sources. Most importantly, though, the new technolo­
gy provided a means for compiling and reproducing much larger and much
more complete information sources. The texts of the Middle Ages were limited
for the most part to the amount of information a student could take in dicta­
tion. The orthographic treatises occupy three or four folia, the Donait five
folia, Bibbesworth's vocabulary roughly fifteen folia, and the dialogues no
more than that (and usually quite a bit less). All except the simplest of the texts
expand upon the medieval corpus in one way or another. Valence offers eighty
pages of verb conjugations. Du Wes, although his section on pronunciation
represents no advance over the medieval model, has a twenty-one page list of
verbs, followed by sixty-six pages of conjugational patterns and fifty-six pages
of dialogues and poems. Palsgrave, attempting what no one had ever tried
before, set a new standard for grammatical detail and lexicographical com­
pleteness. For this he was roundly criticized; in the age of the quick language
fix - see below pp. 181 ff- his book totaled more than 500 folia and was
deemed too oppressive for young minds. Elyot, a year after Palsgrave's
grammar, complained that French was "brought into as many rules and figures
and as long a grammar as is Latin or Greek" (1531: I, chapter 10). Certainly
no other grammarian tries to provide as much detail on pronunciation, mor­
phology or syntax, but in the lexicon the expansion is continuous. Drawing
upon the lexicographical works of Robert Estienne and his successors in
France, the number of entries in the bilingual or multilingual dictionaries
continues to grow up to Cotgrave's Dictionarie of the French and English
Tongues (1611), which includes more than 48,000 entries (roughly two and a
half times that of Palsgrave (1530) and twice that of Hollyband 1593). Prior to
the 16th century, lexicographers attempted compilations either of the most
common words, or, alternatively, of 'hard words'. The new goal was to create
a dictionary of all acceptable words, a goal made possible by the new technol­
ogy of printing and made considerably more difficult by the rapid expansion
of both French and English vocabulary, an expansion encouraged by the activi­
ties of the Humanists.

Laccufatif deuant le verbe.

puis tournes parIínterrogatif/aínfi/Menfaultíl

aller.&c Puís par Interrogationnegatiue.ainfi
Nemen fault il point aller ! &c.
yen Ioínctz en faimly

Ilne my en fault pointaller, &.
Parnegatíon Interrogatíue

Verb tables: Valence 1528
116 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

Pronunciation rules: Palsgrave 1530

Comme ic peux, ct non pas comme vesls
ie veux.
Mcfficurs,vous plaít-il venir difner?
Vousplait-ilfcoir? vous p!ait-il lauer?
C'eltbiendit,mon hofle:
Oừ cft mon hofteffe?
Elle viendra incontinent: quel vin
vous plait-il boire ? N'efpargncz pas le
vin,car vous auez foif:vous aucz faim: cheald
vous aues chaud:vous auezfroid: faites
bonne chere.

Marking silent letters: Hollyband 1576
118 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

Special symbols in the dictionary: Baret 1580

Humanism influenced the study of French and the materials developed for that
study in a number of ways. It encouraged the study and the translation of the
classical authors, and, following that model, the use of English and French
literature as the source of grammatical and lexical authority. Perceptions of
fixity and 'perfection' in the classical languages inspired a new generation of
grammarians of the vernacular to seek to put an end to the wild variation of
their national idioms. This variation had historical, geographical and sociolin-
guistic roots, and the grammarians of each country had to decide which to snip
and which to water. Finally, the new glory accorded to the act of translation
vastly increased the stock of words and the amount of detail in comparative
grammar, changing the dictionaries and language textbooks, and even the way
in which languages were taught.
One of the problems for the grammarian of French in the first half of the
16th century was the selection of appropriate models of French. The medieval
authors were largely discounted, but the poets of the Pléiade had yet to estab­
lish themselves. Palsgrave analyzes the usage presented in works ranging from
the 14th to the beginning of the 16th century. The earliest work cited is the
Roman de la Rose, to which he was introduced by his colleague Gilles Du
Wes. He recognizes this as an outdated form of French, just as he does Frois­
sait's Chroniques, Alain Chartier represents a turning point for Palsgrave:

suche authours as write in ryme/ use to varie the termination of substantives very
often/ bicause of the more just kepyng of their ryme/ especially the Romant of the
Rose/ in whose days the Romant tong was nat come to suche certaynte as sith the
frenche tong is/ so that it were requisite to loke upon other authours that write in prose/
or upon suche as have written sithe Alain Chartyers tyme/ to knowe therightfrenche
wordes (Palsgrave 1530:III, iiii recto)

Other literary sources cited by Palsgrave include Gaston Phoebus, Guillaume

d'Alexis, Octavien de Saint-Gelais, Jean Meschinot, Jean Lemaire de Belges,
and, in English, Chaucer22 and Lydgate. For Palsgrave, these authors are the

Chaucer is only cited once, to note an obsolete verb 'to queme';

I Queme I please or I satysfye/ Chaucer in his Caunterbury tales/ this worde is nowe
out of use. (III, cccxxxi recto)

Lydgate, cited quite frequently, is also used primarily as a source of examples of unacceptable
usage, but more often for excessive neologisms than for obsolete usage. In the English
grammarians and rhetoricians search for authority in the second half of the 16th century
120 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

source of grammatical authority, 23 and he is quite pleased that his list corre­
sponds to that of Geoffroy Tory, the printer from Bourges and author of the
Champ Fieury (1529):

rehersyng the names of suche Authours whiche he [Tory] estemeth in the frenche tong
to be most excellent/ and which he wolde chefely shulde be over visyted and thorowe
studyed/ to gather theyr grammaticall rules out of/ he hath fortuned to name suche and
the very same whiche my chaunce hath ben/ for the auctorisyng and corroboratyng of
my said thyrde boke with all/ chefely to alledge/ to folowe and to leane unto. ("The
Authours Epistell to the kynges grace", A iii verso - A iv recto)

In the second half of the century the sources cited by Palsgrave are generally
considered unacceptable, if they were even known. Hollyband cites Marot and
Rabelais each twice in his dictionary (1593), and Amadis once:

Heronniére, to have a leane and slender thigh: Marot,

Couper la queuë au jeu, when one hath gotten an other mans money at dice, cutteth
off or giveth over play: to this effect Marot saith, vous mavez coupé la queue, seriez
vous bien aise qui la vous couperoit? speech with double meaning.
Un Poupon, as elle tenoit son petit poupon, parlant de Pantagruel, she held her little
babe: m.24
Il pisse pour les Tres-passez, Rabelais, doubtfully spoken, for it may be taken as it is
pronounced, he pissethfor the dead, alluding to the custome of the Papists, sprinkling
the graves of the dead with holy water to dense their soules: but indeed it should be
written, Il pisse pour les traicts passez, that is, he pissethfor, or because of the
draughtes ofwyne or drinke which he hath swallowed downe.
La place estoit semée d'armes de leur chamaillis, the place was spread with armour
through their fight: Amadis.

Hollyband recommends Pierre Boaistuau (? - 1566) (Le théâtre du monde),

Sleidan's (1506-1556) Commentaries, and Commines (1446-1511) "when he


Gower was usually listed along with Chaucer and Lydgate.

Just because they are the source of grammatical authority does not mean they are above
reproach, as I shall discuss below in the section on linguistic variation.
This reference is obscure. Badebec, Pantagruel's mother, died in childbirth.

In the Quart Livre, Chapter 49 Frère Jean says: "il me deplaist grandement qu'encores est
mon estomach à jeun. Car ayant tresbien desjeuné et repeu à usaige monachal, si d'adventure
il nous chante ce Requiem, je y eusse porté pain et vin par les traicts passez".

is corrected" {The Frenche Littelton, "The Epistle", iii verso). The first two of
these, like Amyot (1513-1593), who appears in Eliot's list, are better known
for their translations than for their own original contributions, reflecting the
high prestige attached to that activity in the 16th century. Eliot provides lists of
great authors in several languages, including Italian and Spanish. His French
list includes Marot (whom he feels compelled to defend against charges of
being "the Kings foole"), Ronsard, Sallust (Sieur du Bartas; 1544-1590),
Amyot, Blaise de Vigenère (1523-1596), and Philippe de Mornay (Eliot
1593:32-35). In these lists, Hollyband and Eliot are not so much interested in
establishing authority or correcting erroneous usage as they are in preparing
gentlemen (or would-be gentlemen). The emphasis in the last quarter of the
century is on providing lists of authors one should read for stylistic develop­
ment more than for grammatical study.
Palsgrave, in Humanistic enthusiasm, sought to combine the practical goal
of teaching French with the more abstract goal of fixing the usage of the
French language. In the same way as the Classical Humanists attempted to
reestablish ancient usage and ancient eloquence by referring to a set list of
acceptable authors, Palsgrave tried to establish French usage for the first time.
The elusive (and illusory) goal was to find the just mean between excessive
archaisms and excessive neologisms, between a court language that tended
towards foreign fads and lower-class and provincial usage which lacked style,
between usage with all its exceptions and reasoned analogy with its artificial
forms. Later grammarians touch on these problems, particularly dialectal, varia­
tion, but none explores all aspects as thoroughly as Palsgrave.
Already in the 14th century the author of the Metz Psalter complained
about the dialectal variety of the French language:26

Aucune fois li latin warde ses rigles de gramaire et ses congruiteiz et ordenances
en figures, en qualiteiz, en comparison, en persones, en nombres, en temps, en
declinesons, en causes, en muef et en perfection; que on romans [Picard or Wal­
loon dialect] ne en françoiz on ne puet proprement wardeit, pour les varieteiz et
diversiteiz des lainguaiges et lou deffault d'entendement de maint et plusour, qui
plus souvent forment lour mos et lour parleir a lour volenteit et a lour guise que a
veriteit et au commun entendement. Et pour ceu que nulz ne tient en son parleir
ne rigle certenne, mesure ne raison, est langue romance si corrumpue qu'a poinne

Ironically, one of the reasons advanced for using French in England in the Middle Ages
was that French was uniform and English had too much dialectal variation. Even at the end of
the 16th century William Kempe was still complaining that "together in one towne, yea, in
one house, we heare one speake Northernly, another Westernly, another Kentishly" (The
Education of children in ¡earning: Declared by the Dignitie, Utilitie, and Method thereof.
London: Thomas Orwin, 1588: E iv recto).
122 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

li uns entent l'aultre, et a poinnne puet on trouveir a jour d'ieu personne qui
saiche escrire, anteir ne prononcieir en une meismes semblant menieire; mais
escript, ante et prononce li uns en une guise et li aultre en une aultre. (Lotharin­
gischer Psalter: 2,11. 5-21)

T h i s c o n c e r n with d i a l e c t a l v a r i a t i o n w a s c o m b i n e d in T o r y ' s Champ

Fleury with a concern for chronological variation:

 Devotz Amateurs de bonnes Lettres: Pleust a Dieu que quelque Noble cueur sem-
ployast a mettre & ordonner par Reigle notre Langage Francois: Ce seroit moyen que
maints Milliers dhommes se everturoient a souvent user de belles et bonnes parolles.
Sil ny est mys & ordonne/ on trouvera que de Cinquante Ans en Cinquante Ans la La
[sic] langue Francoise, pour la plus grande part, sera changee & pervertie. Le Langage
dauiourdhuy est change en mille facons du Langage qui estoit il y a Cinquante Ans ou
environ (Tory 1529: A iv recto)

As noted above, Palsgrave was aware of Tory's appeal, and was pleased
that his work, begun years earlier, was going to accomplish just what
Tory desired. Others are more likely to note dialectal rather than class or
chronological variation. Only Palsgrave (among the grammarians of
French in England) seems concerned by the clash between reason and usage.27
The battle against archaisms and neologisms seemed equally weighted
in the first part of the century. After listing many examples of obsolete
terms, Tory derides the "innovateurs etforgeurs de motz nouveaulx" who
are likely to say, after drinking, that they have "le cerveau tout encorni-
mastibule & emburlicoque" (A iv recto-verso). He hopes that some latter-
day Priscian, Donatus, or Quintilian will help the French people purge
their language of such immondices. Palsgrave is only too happy to oblige,
to the extent that he attacks these problems in both French and English.
As mentioned above, he finds the mid 15th century the beginning of
acceptable French usage, with expressions found in earlier works, by
Froissart, Jean de Meung, Guillaume de Lorris, and Chartier, generally
cited only to be condemned. Archaisms can either be rejected absolutely,
be seen as outdated, or be considered on the way out. An example of the
first is tout quanque, "a worde of the olde Romant speche and nowe in the
pure frenche tonge is clere out of use" (III, cxiii verso). S'attourner Pals­
grave describes as "nowe olde though Johan de Meun use hym moche"

For the French grammarians, particularly Meigret and Henri Estienne, this was a more
serious problem. See my forthcoming article in Historiographia Linguistica (1990): "Lan­
guage Variation and Linguistic Description in l6th-Century France".

(III, cl verso). Finally he lists some words as losing popularity: "ie lobe, ie
baratte, and ie boule be olde romant wordes and nowe waxe out of use"
(III, clix verso). Sometimes he notes that a word has fallen out of use not
through linguistic change but through cultural change:

I Turne as a man, dothe in a daunce/Ie me renvoyse. prime coniu and ie me vire,

prime coniu. and ie me revire pri. coniu. This terme waxeth out of comen spetche
bycause the maner of daunsynge is chaunged/ howe be it/ it is somtyme used. (III,
ccclxxxxv verso)

Baret, in his Alvearie (1573) states that he will exclude from his dictionary
"old obsolet wordes, which now adaies no good writer will use" ("To the
Reader", A iii recto). All of the comments are not aimed at lexical change.
Palsgrave contrasts Old French with 16th-century French in the mor­
phology of certain verbs, nouns, and adjectives, noting conjugation shifts
(anoblier > annoblir; garanter > garantir), the vocalization of preconsonan-
tal -/ in nouns (el > eau), the addition, inspired by etymologizing spelling,
of -d at the end of certain adjectives (nu > nud in Jean Lemaire de Belges),
the fading popularity of mes- as a verbal prefix. In English, he is mainly
concerned with neologisms he finds in Lydgate, neologisms born of
Lydgate's career as a translator. The only English archaism he cites is Chau­
cer's use of the verb 'to queme' (see above p. 119, note 21).
In the second half of the century, the fear of archaism and neologism
was overwhelmed by the emphasis on translation as a means of ennobling
the French language, and by an admiration for the fanciful forms so
feared by Tory. Du Bellay compares archaic words and forms to sacred
relics which, used in moderation, accord "maiesté tant au vers comme au
prose" (from the Deffence et Illustration de la langue françoyse (1549) cited in
Brunot 1906: II, 182). For Henri Estienne, the lexical treasures of Old French
were weapons to use against the overly italianate usage of the court (recalling
John Cheke's use of Saxon against latinate forms). With the success of Rabe­
lais' work, grammarians in England such as John Florio (writing grammars of
Italian) and John Eliot (writing a Schoolbook in French in imitation of Florio)
were apt to invent words on their own. Aside from these sets of inventive
dialogues, it is hard to determine any specific reaction to neologism and archa­
ism in the lexical works of the second half of the century because they are so
dependent on Robert Estienne's French-Latin dictionaries. The extent to which
such words are included in the French-English dictionaries is not generally the
choice of the English author, but rather of Estienne or his successors.
This is not as true in dialectal forms, where England's longstanding
contact with Norman, Gascon, Picard and Walloon dialects allowed more
individualized treatment. The attitude toward dialect depends partly on
the grammarian, partly on the dialect. Palsgrave regularly condemns
124 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

N o r t h e r n E n g l i s h d i a l e c t ( e n c o u n t e r e d d u r i n g h i s s e r v i c e as t u t o r to
H e n r y F i t z r o y at S h e r i f f H u t t o n ? ) , a n d in F r e n c h h e m o s t o f t e n c i t e s
' R o m m a n t ' (Walloon) forms. His attitude toward dialect is not altogether
clear. H e states in the first book that the best French is found between the
Seine and the Loire:

in all this worke I moost folowe the Parisyens/ and the countreys that be con-
teygned bytwene the ryver of Syne and the ryver of Loyre/ which the Romayns
called somtyme Gallia Celtica: for within that space is contayned the herte of
Fraunce/ where the tonge is at this day moost parfyte/ and hath of moost aun-
cyente so contynued/ so that I thynke it but superfluous/ and unto the lernar but a
nedelesse confusyon/ to shewe the dyversite of pronuncyacion of the other frontier
countreys/ [...] There is no man of what parte of Fraunce so ever he be borne/ if he
desyre that his writynges shulde be had in any estymacion/ but he writeth in suche
language as they speke within the boundes that I have before rehersed. Nor there
is any man that is a mynister of their common welth/ outher as a capitayne/ or in
the office of Indicatoure/ or as a famous preachour/ but where soever his abyding
be/ he speketh the parfyte frenche: In somoche that the Heynowers/ and they of
Romant/ Brabante/ and all other nacyons usynge the kynde of speche/ nowe called
Wallon or Romant/ thoughe in pronunciacion they folowe moche the said olde
Romant tonge/ lyke as the Pycardes/ liegeoys/ and Ardenoyes do yet in writynge/
as well concernynge their iudiciall causes/ as any other thyng made by any of them
in their owne invencyon/ or in the letters missyves/ of suche as be secreatores in
the sayd countreis/ they folowe in writyng as nere as they may/ the very true
ortography and congruite of the parfyte frenche tonge: and onely suche be had in
estymacion/ and have charge commytted to them as are able so to do. (1530:I, xiii

In spite of this r a t h e r forceful s t a t e m e n t a g a i n s t t h e u s e of d i a l e c t , h i s

e n t r i e s w i t h d i a l e c t a l f o r m s a r e m o s t o f t e n n e u t r a l , m e r e l y n o t i n g an
alternate form. R o m a n t w o r d s are by far the m o s t c o m m o n , p e r h a p s d u e
to his stay in Louvain in 1517, but he also mentions N o r m a n (mehaignier,
included in the verb tables under 'I M a y n e ' ) and Picard (deschirer, under
'I Rente I teare a thyng a sonder'). Hollyband, following Ronsard's appeal to
admit useful regionalisms, 2 8 mentions also dialectal forms from the Orléanais
(morillon) and his native Bourbonnais (reffe, roc, talmouse). Lexical additions

Ronsard in his Abrégé de l' Art poétique advises "ne se faut soucier si les vocables sont
Gascons, Poictevins, Normans, Manceaux, Lionnois ou d'autres pais, pourveu qu'ils soient
bons et que proprement ils signifient ce que tu veux dire" (cited in Brunot 1966: II, 175). For
full discussion of French attitudes towards dialect see Brunot op. cit., 174-182.

were accepted if not welcomed, but not so variations in pronunciation or

morphology.29 Valence criticizes the Picard tendency to use mie instead of pas
or point as the second element of negation (1528:E iv recto). Palsgrave would
correct Octavien de Saint-Gelais for employing the forms tieulx and itieulx,
stating that in this case the poet "hath used [those wordes] of his owne naturall
tonge/ for the ryght frenche tonge is rather telz and itelz" (1530: III, cxiiii
recto). Hollyband uses ridicule of dialect to rid himself of unwanted competi­
tion from Anvers (Meurier?; see below, p. 175):

Ie ne diray rien d'un nouveau livre venu d'Anvers, & dernierement imprimé à
Londres: acause que ne gardant ryme ne raison soit en son parler, phrase, ortho­
graphe, maniere de converser & communiquer entre gens d'estat: et pendant qu'il
pindarise en son iargon, il monstre de quel cru il est sorti: que si noz Chartiers
d'Orleans, Bourges, ou de Bloys avoyent ouï gazouiller l'autheur d'icelluy, ilz le
renvoyeroient railler entre ses Geais, apres luy avoir donné cinquante coups de
leur fouet sur ses eschines [...] Let him teache therefore his faire language unto the
Flemminges, followinge their phrase: the Bourgonions, and those which do dwell
in Heinaw, the which (hearing some word of good French and laughing him to
scorne which doth utter it) saie, that he hath eaten the pappe: from thence riseth
the common Proverbe in Fraunce, that a good Bourgonion coulde never bee a good
Frencheman. (1573: "Au lecteur", A vi recto-verso)

Burgundians and Walloons are criticized for too strong a release of their
final t, adding in this way an extra syllable to the word (Hollyband 1573:
C ii verso). Burgundians and Picards mispronounce ch, saying instead 
(B viii verso).
Many of the grammarians criticize the use of s or z for intervocalic r
in the Parisian dialect (Paris > Pazys). Thus while lexical contributions
from the dialects are tolerated, more serious threats to the French
grammatical system are not. In this the English authors mirror continen­
tal standards.
Class variation is less frequently noted. Palsgrave, serving as tutor to
the royal family, is more apt to criticize English words as vulgar (popular)
than he is to condemn similar French words. Although he served the royal
family, he wanted his book to be of use to "all other persones of this noble
r e a l m e , of what estate or condyscions so ever they may be" (III,

The same is true in French texts. Ronsard will admit useful regional words, and Dubois
(1531) even prefers some regional forms to Parisian, claiming for example that boc (of his
native Picard dialect) corresponds more closely to Greek. Pierre Fabri criticizes Picard diph-
thongues in his Le grant et vreay art de pleine rethorique, stille, proffbable et necessaire a
toutes gens qui desirent a bien elegantement parler et escripre (1521).
126 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

cccclxxiii), and for this reason sometimes notes class variation without
passing judgment. He is most likely to criticize "comen speche" when it
contradicts grammatical reason or fails to maintain a useful distinction.
Failure to observe verb-subject agreement is condemned, for here the
evidence of the approved authors is categoric:

But where as in comun speche they use to saye: je allons bien, je ferons bien, j'a-
vonsfaict ung grant exploit, and suche lyke, joynyng the first person plurall of the
verbe in to je, whiche is the first person singular, suche kinde of spekyng is used of
none auctour approved. (,  recto)

Bellot (1588) criticizes the same practice as "barbarous speaches [...]

unproperly and unlearnedly spoken" (Q iv verso; see also his sonnet, below, p.
126). On the lexical level, Palsgrave disapproves of popular usage when it fails
to maintain a distinction between two words:

I Loke apon a thyng I beholde it/ le regarde, prime coniu. Why lokest thous upon
me: Pourquoy me regardes tu. And loke you hurte me nat: Et gardez bien de me
blesser. Loke he is in there: Tenez le voy la, so that in the imperatyve mode/ loke/
may betoken beware/ and than garde signyfyeth loke/ but for beholde imperatyve
they muste saye regarde, but the comen spetche confoundeth them/ and tenes, is
holde for loke/ for they use one verbe for another. (III, cclxxxiiii recto)

In the table of verbs, Palsgrave seems to criticize merchants' French for

its peculiarities when in the entry for the verb 'to speak' he uses the
example: "I Speke a pedlars frenche or a gyberishe or any contrefait
langaige/le iargonne [...]" (III, ccclxviii recto). When there is some hesita­
tion in usage (i.e., authors use both forms), and there is no clear advan­
tage to competing forms, he presents both, noting differences in class
usage but not rejecting automatically the popular forms. Thus he includes
two complete tables of numbers, one reflecting 'learned' usage, the other
common or commercial usage. Afterpresentinging the 'learned' list of
numbers, he continues:

Note also that all be it the volgar people use never/ soixante, septante, ociante, and
nonante, as I shall herafter playnly declare/ yet that the lerned men use them and
suche as nombre by aulgorisme appereth by the Romant of the Rose/ where he
bringeth in nature workynge in her forge by these wordes/ dix ans ou vingt, trente,
ou quarante, cinquante, soixante, ou septante, voire octante, nonante, ou cent.

Here foloweth wherin the voulgar people marchante men/ and suche as write hystories
dyffer from the maner of nombring here afore rehersed. (III, cxvi verso)

Later in the century Bellot, who describes himself as a gentilhome Cado-

mois ('from Caen'), distinguishes between upper-class usage and the rest
in an introductory sonnet to his third book ("On Construction"):

Dire Syay (Quoy qu'Usage on en face)

N'est point parlé en courtois et bien nay:
Bien seeant n'est aussy dire Non ay:
Sauf vostre honneur, ou bien Sauf vostre grace,
Seroient trouvez de trop meilleure grace.
Ie ne l'ay fait, est trop desordonné:
Pardonnez moy, seroit mieux ordonné:
Car grand fureur douce parolle efface.
Nous estions, nous y pensons, faut dire
Non Testions, on ne s'en fait que rire,
Ny I'y pensons, tout cela est repris,
Les bons François ne parlent point ainsy:
Aucunement pris ne doit estre aussy
Petit, pour Peu, ny Peu, pour Petit, pris.
(1588: Q iv recto-verso)

Upper-class usage, however, is not enough to save Bellot's poetry. De la

Mothe, in his French Alphabet (1592), argues that one should learn
French from books (the right books, of course), because:

Those that learne of the common people cannot speak but commonly and vulgar­
ly, because their manner of speech and termes be common, and base, of a broken
French. Contrariwise, those that do learne by books, they speak according to that
they learn: but so it is that the tearmes and phrases of the bookes are the purest,
finest, and liveliest French: (although there is a distinguishing of bookes) they
cannot chuse then but to speake more purely, and more lively (as I have said
before) then others. (1592: 98-100)

In the grammars written in England, there is little mention of the French

of the court, perhaps because most of the authors were refugees from the
religious intolerance prevailing in France. Thus the question of Italian
influence on the language of the French court, an issue which so troubled
Henri Estienne, had little impact on the grammarians writing in England.
Only Hollyband, in his dictionary of 1593, cites a few words which have
crept into common French usage from that source: gaffe, mornifle, poltro-
niser. Eliot takes a number of jabs at Italians, but this is just as likely a
reaction to Italian influence at the English court (and particularly the
influence of John Florio) as to Italian influence in Paris.
The issue of linguistic variation, chronological, geographical or social,
128 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

was, for the grammarians of French working in England, largely a matter

of identifying the 16th-century equivalent of the 'idealized native speak­
er'. In the second half of the century the grammarians working in Eng­
land can rely on French solutions to the problem, solutions proposed by
Meigret, Pelletier du Mans, Du Bellay, Robert Estienne. For Palsgrave,
working without French models, this resulted in a search for the 'perfect'
French tongue. 30 In this search he alone among the English grammarians
attempts to establish a just balance between reason and usage, a balance he
labels the 'parfyte French tong5 which is equivalent in intent, if not content,
with Meigret's 'naïve puissance', i.e., the shared standard for educated speech in
France. In establishing this standard, Palsgrave does not automatically accept
literary usage, nor etymological justification, or analogy, even though all of
these have a certain appeal to his Humanist mentality. When he does invoke
these authorities, he often errs against the ultimate historical outcome of two

Here one must be careful to distinguish between the 'parfyte French tong', which repre­
sents a standard for French, and a more general notion of 'perfection' of languages which
Palsgrave sometimes invokes. The latter most often refers to the clarity of expression or the
regularity of the morphology of one language or another. Clarity is achieved through synthetic
morphological variation rather than through analytic constructions. For example, he finds
English 'more perfect' than French in the comparison of adjectives, but French superior to
English in the formation of adjectives from participles.

in this thing [comparison] our tong is moche more parfyte and more resembleth the latyne
tonge: For we saye white/ whiter/ whytest: blacke/ blacker/ blackest: stronge/ stronger/
strongest: Expressyng the degrees of comparyson/by addyng of certayne letters to thende
of our adiectyves [...] (II, xxxiii recto)

in this thyng the frenche tonge is moche more parfyte than our tonge is/ for where as they
may forme of every partyciple in their tonge an adiectyve endyng in ble, in our tonge we
have none suche but must nedes use circumlocution by mese wordes/ apte/ mete/ or able/
and our infynityve mode save that we have admitted as well adiectyves of the frenche
tonge endyng in able and ible, as commendable, visible &c. (III, xxxi verso)

In one instance, the reflexive verb expressing middle voice, Palsgrave argues for the superiori­
ty of French on semantic grounds and also notes an exception:

Where as Clerkes saye/ the erthe is devyded in to thre partes: the Gaulles be devyded in to
thre partes. Nouther the erthe nor the gaulles suffire nothyng by this devysion makyng/nor
in very dede they be none otherwyse parted than nature hath parted them/ savyng that
Clerkes ymagyn suche a devisyon the more playnly to discryve them and comen of them.
Therfore the frenchmen say nat/ la terre est divisée en troys partyes, nor les gaulles sont
divisées en troys parties, but la terre se devise, and les gaulles se devisent [...] but where
as I fynde/ for that is to be understande/ cela sentent, suche kynde of spekyng fynde I
onely in this sentence. (III, cxxxiii recto)

competing forms. The morphological variation of the adjective cru brings

these factors into conflict, and demonstrates his not unerring judgment:

where as I fynde cru for 'rawe' and crue, Johan le Mayre writeth it crud and
crude, whiche orthography is more trewer/ by cause it come of crudis. And would
I rather write nud and nude by cause of nudus, than nu and nue. But as yet au-
thours do folowe the vulgar tong/ for Johan le Mayre sayth: Puis apres Paris se
mettoit a luider tout nu avecques les plus fors sur lherbe vert. (III, lxxviii verso)

Etymology favors the forms with d, the best authors and the people prefer
the forms without d; Palsgrave prefers etymological reason and sides with
the losing cause. In the third-person singular of -re verbs, etymology and
authorial example weigh in favor of d, but analogical reason argues for t;
here, the outcome is mixed:

And note that whereas I fynde in Johan le Mayre/ il conclud, il tend, il rend, il
vend and so in the thyrde persons of all other verbes whose latyne verbe endeth in
-do, or in -deo, after myne opynion he leaneth in this thyng, to moche to the ortho-
graphye of the latyne tonge/ for the trewe etymologye of the frenche tonge requy-
reth generally S/ in the seconde person synguler of his present indycatyve/ and T/
in the thyrde.
But where as suche as have printed the sayd Johan le Mayre and dyverse other
auctours, use somtyme Z/ fynall in the seconde persons synguler of verbes of this
coniugacion/ that is utterly eyther their neclygence or their ignoraunce/ for Z/ is
the fynall letter of seconde persons plurall of all verbes in this tonge/ to declare the
dyversyte of accent bytwene the seconde person synguler and the seconde person
plurall/ as I have shewed in the first boke.31 (III, cxxvii verso)

In this instance conclure has adopted the recommended t (il conclut), but
the others have d, just as in the forms cited here. The balance between the
competing authorities - reason (analogy), usage of distinguished authors,
and links to etymological sources - is difficult to maintain, for each has a
logical appeal. At this point in the 16th century Palsgrave had the liberty
- he saw it as an obligation - to try to create a standard; ultimately, as the
occasional divergences between his judgment and the development of French

Palsgrave is at his most indignant in criticizing printers' errors, a method he uses on occa­
sion to divert attention from the varying usage of his authors. Did he realize that Tory was a
130 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

prove, this was something within the power of the grammarian.32

The Humanist reconstruction of good Latin could use these tech­
niques because the corpus was limited and unchanging; the grammarians
on both sides of the Channel were confronted with the inconveniences of a
living language. The grammarians of French in England resolved the
problem by avoiding it; general discussion of linguistic variation almost
totally disappears in the second half of the century in England as the
teachers followed pedagogical rather than linguistic inclinations. Varia­
tion presented to the learner only creates confusion. Palsgrave is not
immune to this temptation, as when he notes that "it is more surer to use
the adverbe in emment" [than the adverb in -entement] (III, ccccxvii
verso), but he only offers simpler solutions after explaining the full diver­
sity of the language. For the later grammarians these Humanist concerns
had lost their appeal; the grammarians were religious refugees who
depended for their livelihood upon the success of their schools. As native
speakers they were not trying to discover French, but to transmit what
they knew. The Protestant Reformation

The third major movement of the 16th century was the Reformation, which
had an indirect impact on the grammars of French. The first effect was to
change the background of the teachers. In the place of Englishmen like Pals­
grave and Barcley, trained in France but native speakers of English, instructors
in the second half of the century were almost exclusively French refugees,
fleeing the religious turmoil of the Wars of Religion. Already in Valence
(1528), whose reasons for leaving France are not clear, the influence of the
reform is evident in his citation of biblical passages as examples, and in his
preface which resembles a sermon (see Appendix II, p. 199). Palsgrave notes
in his dictionary for 'pronostycate' the importance of Martin Luther:

I Pronostycate I shewe thynges to come/ le pronostique, prime. I have sene the

booke that dyd pronostycate the comyng of Luther twenty yere or he was borne:
lay veu le livre qui pronostiqua ladvenement de Luther vingt ans avant quil fut né.

Meigret has similar problems twenty years later, as when he argues for liveau against
niveau (1550:102). I think that Joseph (1987: 133-159) over-estimates the power of the
grammarian to fix usage in 16th-century France.

While Palsgrave provides no indication of his reaction to Luther's coming,33

others are less reticent. When Pope Paul III initiated the Inquisition in 1542,
Italian Protestants fled in all directions, with some arriving in England, estab­
lishing the Italian Church in 1550. In the second quarter of the century, French
tolerance of Protestants waxed and waned, and during the difficult times Jean
Veron and Pierre Du Ploiche crossed the Channel. Du Ploiche, one of the first
refugees to set up a French school in London, taught the reformed litany in
French and English, asking the Lord to protect him from "the tyranny of the
Bishoppe of Rome, and al his detestable enormities" (1553:B iii recto).
With the onset of hostilities in the Wars of Religion in 1562, French
Protestants by the thousands sought refuge in England. Hollyband came
around 1564 or 1565, and by 1568 had set up his school near St. Paul's
Churchyard. Subsequent waves of immigration brought Bellot and De la
Mothe to England. Bellot came in 1578, or shortly before, and apparently
knew no English before his arrival. His experience inspired him to help others
by writing grammars and dialogues for French learners of English as well as
for English learners of French:

The experience having in the olde tyme learned unto me what sorow is for them
that be refugíate in a straunge countrey, when they can not understand the lan­
guage of that place in whiche they be exiled: and when they can not make them to
be understood by speach to the inhabiters of that contrey, wherein they be retired
(dedication to 1586; cited in Bjurman 11).

De la Mothe laments that

la guerre civile, qui maintenant consume nostre pauvre France, ait tellement
bruslé les aisles de mes Estudes, & rompu le col à ma fortune, qu'il m'a du tot
desrobé les moyens de luy faire quelque bon service. (1592: A iii recto-verso)

The influence of these ecclesiastical affairs on the instruction of

French is seen in the contents of some of the works,the choice of examples
and the explanations provided in the dictionaries. In A Plaine Pathway
(1575), the author (Meurier?) uses a passage from Matthew (6:1) to show
the application of his rules of pronunciation. (Recall that Palsgrave chose
Alain Chartier for this purpose.) Hollyband inserts in the middle of his
Frenche Littelton (1576), between his vocabulary and his rules for pronun-

Palsgrave, an ordained priest who had also studied Canon Law, proved very politic in his
religious allegiance. In 1540 he signed, as a member of the Convocation of Canterbury, the
declaration annulling Henry VIII's marriage to Anne of Cleves (Carver 1940:liii).
132 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

dation, the Lord's Prayer, the Articles of Faith, prayers to say as grace before
and after meals, the Acts of the Apostles, and a Traicté des danses, auquel est
monstre qu'elles sont comme accessoires et dependences de paillardise,34 That
these were meant to serve as pronunciation exercises is clear from the use of
symbols to indicate liaison, elision, and silent letters.
The religious element continues in Hollyband's dictionary of 1593,
where a number of entries, missing in the 1580 dictionary, show that his
religious fervor was growing as he aged in exile:

Ian le blanc or l'oiseau Saint Martin, a ravening birde or a kinde of Hauke killing
hennes in the countrey houses: the Protestants doe call the God of the papists made
of paste Ian le blanc.

Agyos or agios, blessings and crossings which the papisticall priests doe use in their
holy water, to make a mearlew muse.

Le reveille-matin des Françoys, the booke shewing the falshood of the authors of
the massaker or slaughter traitrously committed on the persons of the most noble &
faithfull christians ofFraunce, Anno 1572.

This attitude toward public entertainment is also reflected in his example for the word
apprentissage, found in the dictionary of 1593:

Le theatre des jouëurs est un apprentissage de toute impudicité, lubricié, paillardise,

ruse, finesse, meschanceté: the theatre or stage of players is a lesson or learning of all
lecherie, hooredome, guyle, craft, wickednes. (C vii verso)

In spite of this attitude, both he and Du Ploiche include in their dialogues a scene of seduction
popular since the earliest manières de langage. A similar puriticanal streak may have inspired
Bellot to use this example for the reflexive construction: Marie est belle: mais elle se farde.
Palsgrave, an ordained priest and chaplain to the king, seems totally uninterested in these
concerns, as he makes regular reference not only to gaming and dancing, but also to both
heterosexual and homosexual activities. His example to demonstrate the equivalency of the
forms avec and avecques is "Voulez-vous coucher avec moy or avecques moy?" (III, ccccxvi).
For the picture of English everyday life as presented by Palsgrave's examples, see Perrin
This is a reference to Nicholas Barnaud's Le R eville-matin des Francois published in
Edinburgh by J. James (1574; see Wakely (Forthcoming)). Barnaud used the pseudonym
'Eusebius Philadelphus', which led some scholars to attribute the work to Bèze or Hotman.
The first dialogue was published earlier in Basel (1573). The incident described is the St.
Bartholomew's Day Massacre of August 23-24, 1572, an event in which Pierre de la Ramée
(Petrus Ramus), among with many others, lost his life.

Hollyband died in 1597, but his dictionary continued to form English opinion,
for the definitions of agios and Ian-le-blanc among many others are picked up
in Cotgrave's Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (1611).

6.3.2 Grammatical Description

Having considered the impact of printing, Humanism, and the Reform on

the 16th-century grammars, let us now turn our attention to the grammatical
works themselves. First I shall present an overview of the organization of the
texts, showing the constituent parts and the relative amount of space devoted
to each. Then I shall sketch the grammatical information presented in each of
three sections - phonetics/ phonology/ orthography, morphology and syntax,
and the lexicon. Then I shall conclude with a discussion of didactic method
implicitly or explicitly recommended by these works. Organization of the Texts

The texts under consideration in this period range from twenty to more
than a thousand pages. Some are entirely in one language (French, English or
Latin), others are fully bilingual. Some are specialized for one particular type
of information - phonetic/orthographic, lexical (either dialogues or diction­
aries).36 Some attempt to present a full (relatively speaking) picture of French
grammar, others concentrate on special problems. The combination of the
other features reflects the pedagogical orientation of the author and the instruc­
tional setting in which it might be appropriate.37
The fourteen texts I shall consider here, composed between 1521 and
1596, show a remarkable diversity in all respects. The only constant in all the
pedagogical materials is the presentation of sound-letter correspondences,
what Swiggers (forthcoming) labels graphophonétique, but even there the
amount of detail and the type of detail vary widely (as we shall see below pp.
147-151). The table on the following pages permits us to compare in an
approximate manner the overall structure of the works. I present here the
major constituents of the works and the number of pages devoted to each

In this part of the discussion, I shall exclude the dictionaries. See below pp. 173-181 for
the presentation of lexicographical materials.
Swiggers (forthcoming) considers the problem of typology of pedagogical grammars in the
16th century in his study of the grammars of French written by Pillot (1510-1570), Garnier
(1510-1574), and Serreius (1575-?), grammars aimed at German students of French. The
grammars composed in England show a far greater variety than do those written for the
German audience. Garnier's grammar was used as a model by Morlet (1596).
134 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

one.38 With the help of such information we can establish a typology of these
pedagogical grammars which matches instructional language, instructional
setting, instructional method and instructional materials.


Barcley 1521

LANGUAGE: English, word-lists are French-English


Pronunciation: 6 Morpho-Syntax: 7 Lexical: 14

Verb: 6 Word-Lists: 13
Treatise on Dance: 1

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Morpho-Syntax, Pronunciation, Lexical

Valence 1528

LANGUAGE: Bilingual, facing pages


Pronunciation: 6 Morpho-Syntax: 102 Lexical: 8

Verb: 82 (Phrases)

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Pronunciation, Morpho-Syntax, Lexical

The page numbers give some idea of the relative importance within a given text, but are of
little help in comparing authors, for the size of the pages and the size of the type render such
quantitative comparisons meaningless.
The number of pages given here are those actually devoted to instructional purposes, and
do not include introductions, blank pages, etc. For this reason the total number of pages may
differ from that presented in my annotated bibliography (Kibbee 1989: 63-74).

Palsgrave 1530


Pronunciation: 48 Morpho/Syntax: 17240 Lexical: 817

Verb - 28+22 = 50 (Dictionary)

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Pronunciation, Morpho-Syntax I, Morpho-Syntax alternating

with Lexical by Part of Speech

Du Wes 1532

LANGUAGE: English (Dialogues and word-lists have interlinear translation)


Pronunciation: 5 Morpho-Syntax: 88 Lexical: 104

Verb: 80 Word-lists: 38
10 (= MSII) 18(n.&adj. =LI)
+ 70 (= MS III) + 20 (verbs =L II)
Dialogues (=L III): 66

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Pronunciation, Lexical I, Morpho-Syntax I, Morpho-Syntax

(Verb), Lexical II, Morpho-Syntax III, Lexical III

A Very Necessarye Boke (1550?)

LANGUAGE: Pronunciation in English; Lexical portion bilingual


Pronunciation: 7 Morpho-Syntax: 0 Lexical: 24

Word-lists: 8
L I- numbers
L III - nouns
L VII = feasts
Dialogues (= L II): 5
Boke of Courtesy (= L IV): 7
Model letters (=L V): 3
Translation Ex. (=L VI): 1

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Lexical I-VI, Pronunciation, Lexical VII

This number, and the numbers for verbal morphology below, represents a combination of
the information included in books II and III of the Esclarcissement.
136 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

Du Ploiche 1553

LANGUAGE: Bilingual, in two columns


Pronunciation: 5 Morpho-Syntax: 15 Lexical: 82

Verb: 14 Catechism & Litany (= L I): 32
Dialogues (= L II): 48
Word-List (numbers; = L III): 2

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Lexical I-, Pronunciation, Morpho-Syntax41

Hollyband 1573

LANGUAGE: Bilingual, facing pages


Pronunciation: 37 Morpho-Syntax: 23 Lexical: 244

Verb: 15 Dialogues (= L I): 129
Proverbs (= L II): 3
Religious (= L III): 12
Word-List: (= L IV): 100

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Pronunciation, Morpho-Syntax, Lexical I-IV

Plaine Pathway 1575

LANGUAGE: Pronunciation in English; Lexical bilingual in two columns; Model Letters

bilingual on facing pages


Pronunciation: 6 Morpho-Syntax: 0 Lexical: 133

Dialogues(=L/, L III): 66 + 7 = 73
Word-Lists (=LII): 38
Model Letters (= L IV): 22

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Pronunciation, Morpho-Syntax, Lexical I-IV

The 1578 edition places the pronunciation section (much reduced) at the beginning, fol­
lowed by the lexical sections, with verb morphology last.

Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye 1576


Pronunciation: 23 Morpho-Syntax: 77 Lexical: 0

Verb: 40

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Pronunciation, Morpho-Syntax

Hollyband 157642

LANGUAGE: Bilingual, facing pages; Word-lists bilingual in two columns


Pronunciation: 55 Morpho-Syntax: 23 Lexical: 109

Verb: 4 Dialogue (= L I): 60
Proverbs (= L II): 6
Golden Sayings (= L III): 20
Word-lists (= LIV): 14
Religious (= LV):9

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Lexical I-V, Pronunciation, Morpho-Syntax

Bellot 1588


Pronunciation: 30 Morpho-Syntax: 149 Lexical: 0

Verb: 62

+ 27-page introduction to French versification

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Pronunciation, Morpho-Syntax, Versification

The figures in this case are misleading because Hollyband intended for this work to be
combined with his 151-page treatise on the conjugation of verbs, his 175-page description of
French pronunciation, and his 410-page dictionary (the Treasurie), all three of which ap­
peared in 1580.
138 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

De la Mothe 1592

LANGUAGE: Bilingual, facing pages


Pronunciation: 72 Morpho-Syntax: 0 Lexical: 84


ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Pronunciation, Lexical

(Attached Treasurie presents 59 pages of proverbs and golden sayings)

Eliot 1593

LANGUAGE: Pronunciation in English; Dialogues bilingual in two columns, some of the

'practical' dialogues have a third column in phonetic transcription

Pronunciation: 4 Morpho-Syntax: 0 Lexical: 202

Philosophical: 60
Practical: 142

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Pronunciation, Lexical

Morlet 1596


Pronunciation: 8 Morpho-Syntax: 85 Lexical: 0

Verb: 40

ORDER OF PRESENTATION: Pronunciation, Morpho-Syntax

Language. All the works except Morlet's are in English. (Morlet's model,
Gamier, also wrote his grammar of French in Latin.) Five have a complete
French version as well, a version which was certainly the original in the case
of Valence and Du Ploiche. Both of them apologize for providing the English
version in close to a word-for-word translation, claiming that they are doing
this to help students understand "the better and more evident declaryng of the
diversitie of one tounge to the other" (Du Ploiche 1553: A i recto). In the other
eight works all grammatical information is presented in English alone. Thus, in
spite of some 16th-century attacks on the use of rules in teaching language
(Valence, Du Wes, Hollyband), the authors of these grammars felt that the
students needed some easily accessible guide in their native language. There
is a general consensus that the student needs to study grammar, whether it be
pronunciation, morphology, syntax, or any combination of the three, inde­
pendently of its application in communication.

Relative Importance of Each Part. All of these works (and some of the
dictionaries as well) include an introduction to the sound-letter correspond­
ences of French. Even in this area there is a basic division between those
which present rudimentary set of rules (the canonical number, derived from
the medieval tradition, appears to have been seven) and those which present all
the letters and the sounds each can represent. One of the other two areas of
interest, morpho-syntax and lexical, is, in half of these works, completely
absent from the grammar. Three works, Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye, Bellot, and
Morlet provide no lexical material. In each of these the grammar is presented
in the most formal style: each part of speech is defined and its accidents listed.
A Very Necessarye Boke, A Plaine Pathway, De la Mothe and Eliot represent
the other alternative, where no morpho-syntactic information is included.
These works supply the lexical material solely in the form of dialogues.
In the middle ground stand those manuals which include both grammatical
and lexical information. Here we find a high correlation between the proportion
of the morphological section devoted to verbal morphology and the proportion
of lexical section presented in a contextualized format (either dialogues or
extended passages). In Palsgrave, who has no contextualized lexicon (using
the above definition), verbal morphology occupies a relatively small portion of
his morphology section (29%). In Du Ploiche, almost all the lexical informa­
tion comes in dialogues or religious tracts, and verbal morphology constitutes
almost all the morphology section. The more the text is oriented toward oral
expression, the more emphasis is placed on verbal morphology. One apparent
exception, in fact, supports the rule. In the French Schoolemaister (1573),
Hollyband followed a fairly traditional grammatical approach, presenting rules
of pronunciation first, then morphology, and finally the lexical material. In that
text the percentage of verbal morphology/ all morphology (65%), and the
percentage of contextualized lexical material/ all lexical material (59%) are
relatively modest. Hollyband decided to scrap this approach in the Frenche
Littelton (1576), placing the rules last, for those who might want to consult
them, rather than first, as a necessary prerequisite to the practice of the lan­
guage. The percentage of contextualized lexical material correspondingly
jumps to 87% of all lexical material. However, the percentage of the morpho­
logical information devoted to verbal morphology drops to 17%. The explana­
tion for this anomaly is that Hollyband intended for the Littelton to be com­
bined with another text, his A Treatise for the Declining of Verbs (which actu­
ally did not appear until 1580). In fact, in later editions, the two were often
combined under a single cover. When the two are considered together, verbal
140 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

morphology constitutes 88% of the morphology in the combined text.43

The continuum runs from the grammatical texts, emphasizing translation
as method and goal, to the conversational texts, emphasizing oral expression
with a minimum of interference from rules. This continuum is also matched by
the order of the constituent parts. The ideal sequence, following the logical
appeal of an order that proceeds from small and simple to large and complex,
required that one start with individual letters, advance to syllables, then words,
then sentences, then discourse. 44 This ideal is never exactly followed in the
grammars we consider here. Palsgrave would come close, but he never got to
the last part. Hollyband (1573) also comes close, but he presents uncontextual-
ized lexical material after the dialogues. What is most interesting in this re­
spect is that the two grammars (Du Ploiche 1553 and Hollyband 1576) which
go against this pattern in the most radical way, presenting dialogues before
even pronunciation, are also at the extreme end of the 'verbal morphology'
scale. The same pattern is also repeated if one considers the completeness and
the complexity of the rules, and the nature of the lexicon, the focus of the next
section. Pronunciation

These sections, if not the focal point of every text, were considered essen­
tial enough to be included in every one. The importance accorded correct
pronunciation is demonstrated in Hollyband's Schoolemaister, where he
encourages his students to be diligent by recalling to them the story of the
Sicilian Vespers.45 By all contemporary evidence, English students of French

The other troublesome cases occur early in the development of the printed grammatical
tradition. In Barcley, 86% of the morpho-syntax concerns verbs but the only contextualized
lexical material is a short treatise on dances at the very end of the text. In Du Wes, where the
influence of the medieval nominalia is still strong, the decontextualized lexical material
(word-lists) constitutes a relatively large portion (37%) of the lexical material, yet non-verbal
morphology represents less than 10% of the morpho-syntactic information.

As, for example, Barcley: "Of lettres we make syllables: of syllables we make wordes/ &
of wordes we combyne reasons/ and by reasons all scyences and speches be uttred" (1521: A
v recto). Almost identical wording is found in A Very Necessarie Boke; there is definitely
some relationship between the two texts.

In 1282, Sicilians revolting against angevine rule, attacked a monastery with both French
and Sicilian monks. To distinguish their fellow-countrymen from the foreigners, the attackers
asked each monk to pronounce the word ciceri. The Sicilian brothers could do this in the
Sicilian style, but the French brothers "par faute de la bien et naturellement exprimer,...perdi­
rent la vie aux vespres ciciliennes" (Hollyband 1573:15). A similar method was used by Wat

in the 16th century if put to such a test of their French would certainly have
In the absence of phonemic theory and of any method to classify sounds,
the central problem that confronted each grammarian was the gap between the
Latin alphabet and both the French and the English sound systems. A gra-
phemic system that had worked reasonably well 1500 years earlier was inade­
quate for either of these vernaculars in the 16th century. To teach correct
pronunciation of French the 16th-century master had to work not from a direct
linear comparison of the sound inventories of French and English, but rather
from a triangular complex of sound-letter correspondences in French, English,
and Latin. It is little wonder, therefore, that so many found rules too heavy a
burden for their students.
The types of information included in these sections can be divided into six
categories: 1) the definition of the categories and sub-categories of letters
(vowels, consonants, etc.); 2) the pronunciation of the letters when reciting the
alphabet; 3) the articulatory description of sound formation; 4) the pronuncia­
tion of the letters in individual words; 5) the pronunciation of the letters in
combination; 6) phonetic transcription.
Definitions. While most of the grammars refer to vowels and consonants,
only a few of the grammarians include the definitions as part of their presenta­
tion. Early in the period, Barcley and Valence present the division of sounds in
much the same terms as one finds in the Latin tradition of Donatus:

vowel: "eche of them by them selfe ioyned with non other lettre maketh a full and parfect
worde" (Barcley 1521 A iv verso).

consonant: "they be soundyd with the vowels and make no syllable nor worde by themselfe
excepte they be ioyned with some vowel" (Barcley 1521 A v recto)

Consonants are then further subdivided into mutes (b, c, d, g, k, p, q, t) and

liquids or semivowels (f, l, m, n, r, s). The principle of division used by these
early commentators was that mutes, when recited alone, need to have a vowel
sound after them (bé, cé, dé, etc.), whereas liquids have the vowel joined
before (effe, elle, emme, etc.). Later in the century, when the divisions are
discussed, the principle of division has changed. Bellot and De la Mothe have
reduced the list of liquids to four (l, m, n, r). The basis of division is now
based on French sound-letter relationships rather than on the arbitrary pronun­
ciation in the recitation of the alphabet:

A Mute is a consonant which before another consonant, except before / and r, is never


Tyler's followers to kill French natives in England (1381).

142 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

pronounced, either in the beginning, or in the midst, or in the end, either of a word or
of a syllable, as
Vous me faictes grand tort certes:
Read Vou me faite gran tor certes. (De la Mothe, 1592:22)

A Liquid is a consonant which is alwaies pronounced either in the beginning, or in the

midst, or in the end of a word or syllable; as un mal, sur mal, bon renom (De la Mothe

The subdivision of consonants was not considered terribly important early in

the century when it depended on the unimportant criterion of pronunciation in
the recitation of the alphabet. Thus Palsgrave states that "in these thynges it is
nat greatly materiali to be curyous/ and therfore I passeover to speke thorowe-
ly there of' (1530: "Introduction of the authour", B iii recto-verso). Later, when
the criterion of selection was related to the important question of silent letters,
an understanding of the categories made more pedagogical sense.
Vowels are subdivided into simple vowels, diphthongs and triphthongs.
The number of diphthongs varies widely, from author to author, depending in
part on the dependence of the author on the classical tradition (which admitted
four - œ, oe, au, and eu). This is number at which Barcley starts, and Valence
adds one, Palsgrave two more to arrive at 7. From this point on there is some
hesitation to call them diphthongs, for they are really digraphs, two letters
combining to represent a single sound, and most authors simply note the
simple letter which the combination represents. Some, however, persist, even
while admitting that the combinations stand for simple vowels. Thus Bellot
lists no fewer than 16 diphthongs and 13 triphthongs in his French Grammar
(1578). He reduces the number of triphthongs to 8 in the second edition (The
French Methode, 1588).
The Alphabet. The use of the recitation of the alphabet as a linguistic basis
for subdividing consonants, as practiced in the early texts, is indicative of the
importance placed on the recitation of the alphabet in the learning process.
About half the grammarians of the period provide such a table, as in Valence's
table (Plate V). Hollyband describes a sociolinguistic division in the recitation
of the alphabet:

Vulgus autem Gallorum pro ef, dicunt effe, ashe, elle, emme, enne: alii arre, alii verö
erre, esse, ézède addentes, e foemininum: & earatione has consonantes vel dissyllabas,
vel trissyllabas faciunt. (De pronuntiatione 1580:23)

Interestingly, this 'vulgar' pronunciation is precisely that recommended by

Hollyband in the Schoolemaister only a few years earlier. De la Mothe also
favors the shortened form.

on doibt prõnftcer.briefue admonítíon
A aa voelles.
b be a.e.í.o.u.
 ce Toultes aultres letrers font
d d cõfonãtes/ deuífees en mu­
e  tes et demy voelles.
f effe Mutes
g ge b.c.d.f.g.k.p.q.t.
h hache Demy voelles,
i ij f.l.m.n.r.s.
k kaa
l elle Sur toultes chofes doíbuít no=
m ẽme ter gent Engloís/quílleur
n enne fault acuftumer de pronũ=
 oo cerla derniere lettre du mot
p pe frãcois/ quelq; mot que ce fo ít
q qu (rime exceptee) ce que la
r erre langue englefche ne permet.
f effe Car la ou Lenglois dit.
t te goode breade,Le Francois
v ou díroít go o de. ííí. fíllebes
x ex et breade. ííí. fílleb es.
edes. et &.q con.
Ces diptongues font aífí pronũcees
Ai aider,ííí.
au aucun. ííí.
íe faíct meillíeur, v. fillebes,
eu eureux. ííií,
ou ouír, ííí.

Pronunciation of the Alphabet:Valence 1528
144 PERIOD V (1470-1600)
Articulatory Description. The Latin and Greek models for grammatical
description did not provide much information on articulatory phonetics, so the
Renaissance grammarians had to do what they could on their own. In the late
15th century the Spanish Humanist Nebrija and some who imitated him started
analyzing the production of sounds, but their efforts did not get far (see Gul-
stad 1968, especially 383-392). The Renaissance interest in the process of
sound production may stem from the work being done on human anatomy
both in art and medicine. Fallopius (1523-1562) in particular investigated the
nature of the articulators and their function (Kemp 1981:38-39). As this
medical research came to be known, articulatory description gained a certain
vogue. Once its limitations in language pedagogy became evident, however, it
slipped back into obscurity.
Valence provides the same rudimentary description of the articulation of
vowels found in the Donait françois and before that in the Latin tradition (see
above, p. 88, note 27). Palsgrave's primary addition to this is the notation of

They forme certayne of theyr vowelles in theyr brest/ and suffre nat the sounde of them
to passe out by the mouthe/ but to assende from the brest straight up to the palate of the
mouth/ and so by reflection yssueth the sound of them by the nose. ("The Introduction
of the Authour", A vi verso)

In the first book of Lesclarcissement Palsgrave describes a as being pro­

nounced "a lytell in the noose" (I, i recto); e, before a nasal is pronounced the
same as a, but unstressed, word-final it is "sounded almoste lyke an o/ and
very moche in the noose" (I, ii recto). After these rather feeble attempts, all
articulatory description disappears until Hollyband 1573. Hollyband is the first
to venture into the articulatory description of consonants, with these descrip­
tions of [1] mouillé and [ä]: 46

Hollyband even tries his hand at the articulatory description of the English affricate [tš]:

Let them [Frenchmen] pronounce, ce, and ci, in Latin as Englishmen do pronounce the
first sillable of, cheris, chapter, or cheese: pressyng hard the roote of the tongue
agaynst the ender parte of the uppermost of the mouth (1576:14).

It was the failure to produce this sound accurately that led to the slaughter of French monks at
the Sicilian Vespers. Baret (1580) also tries his hand at the description of Scots' English, a
description which has particular interest for French because French [ü] was often compared to
the Scottish pronunciation of gud:

Some therefore think that this sharpe Scottish U is rather a diphthong than a vowell,
being compounded of our English e and M, as indeed we may partly perceyve in pro-

the Frenche hath foure Diphthonges, ai, ei, oi, ui: now when two, //, followeth one of
them, then one must pronounce them not with the ende, but with the flat of the tongue,
touchynge the roufe of the mouth. [...] (1573:6)

Englishmen doo pronounce, gn, with as much difficultie as they doo this word, bailler:
for when they will say, montagne, compagnon, they doo seperate, g, from, , as wee
doo in Latin in pronouncyng agnus, or magnus: which ought not to be dun, but beatyng
the rooufe of the mouth with the roote and flat of the tongue [...] (1573:26)

To this Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye adds these descriptions of [t] and [v]:

in the end of verbes it [t] is pronounced softly, to the ende that e masculine be not
sounded after it, so that to dooe this we may not strike much with the tong agaynst the
roufe of the mouth, but as litle as a man can, not opening the mouth to much, for feare
of falling into the fault of the Bourguignions Wallons, which pronounce it so strongly
that of a worde of two syllables they make three [...] (1576: C i verso)
V, is pronounced in shutting the mouth and closing the lippes rounde togither [...]
(1576: C ii recto)

He also criticizes the English for their tendency to diphthongize Latin i, and
offers this advice:

They must then strayne the tongue more than they dooe, and therewith strike a little,
onely agaynst the roufe of the mouth and agaynst the fore teeth in opening them a little
that they may eschue this brode & grosse sounde that they have accustomed to give
unto it. (1576: B v recto)

Here we see some recognition of the organs of articulation and some sense of
manner of articulation developing, and this is pursued with more diligence in


nouncing it, our tongue at the beginning flat in our mouth, and at the ende rising up
with the lips also therewithall somewhat more drawen togither (Cited in Ellis

Sir Thomas Smith and John Hart were English pioneers in articulatory description:

Smith, Thomas. 1568. De recta et emendata linguae anglicae scriptione, dialogus. Paris:
Hart, John. 1569. An Orthographie, conteyning the due order and reason, howe to write or
painte thimage of mannes voice, most like to the life or nature. London: Chester.
146 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

Bellot's French Grammar (1578). Bellot identifies three parts of the tongue
('root', 'flat', and 'tip'), the hard palate, the teeth, and the lips. Furthermore,
he occasionally notes the degree of aperture, and six manners of articulation:

aprochinge: I, being a consonant, is pronounced somwhat blowing with the tongue &
aprochinge the same to the rowfe of the mouth.

blowing: X is pronounced in blowing with the tongue against the rowfe of the mouth.

beating: N must bee pronounced in beating the rowfe of the mouth with the tongue.

setting: V, being a consonant, is pronounced in setting the neyther lyppe agaynst the
upward teeth.

shaking: R, is pronounced as in english, except when it doubles betwixt two vowels:

Then it must be sounded shaking the tongue with vehemence, pronouncing the first
vowell long. (1588:B iii verso)

shutting up: P, oughte to be pronounced with the Lippes, in the shutting up of them.

This burst of interest in articulatory description was not continued in the last
authors of the century. The tradition, continuing from classical antiquity, was
to concentrate on the description of the sounds and not on their production.
Vowels may be sharp, flat, round and consonants sharp, soft (or silent), but the
limited pedagogical usefulness of either these vague adjectives, or the articula­
tory description, led most grammarians to depend on two types of comparison
- to other languages or to other sounds within the same language - for the
basic description of French sounds.
Description of French Sounds, The grammarians' treatment of individual
sounds was in fact the description of the letters of the French alphabet. The
failure to establish a clear phonemic principle, or even an approximate sound
inventory for French undermined all efforts to teach proper pronunciation.
Furthermore, motivated by a desire or a pedagogical principle to reduce the
burden of rules on their students, many grammarians touched only on the
problem areas of French pronunciation rather than a complete description of
all the letters and their values. Only four, Palsgrave, Ledoyen de la Pichon-
naye, Bellot and De la Mothe, present all the letters. Palsgrave and De la
Mothe describe the vowels and diphthongs separately from the consonants; the
other two go in alphabetical order through the 22 letters. The least complete

are Valence, Du Wes, Du Ploiche, and Hollyband (1576).47

Under the heading of each letter the grammarians sought to explain first of
all the 'natural' sound of the letter. This sound might be established by com­
parison with English, Latin, or with another language presumed to be known
to the student. Then they show in what contexts this basic value for the letter
can be altered, either to the value more commonly assigned another letter, or to
a value not represented by any single letter, or else contexts in which the letter
is silent. These offenses against the bi-univocal principle (every letter repre­
sents one sound, every sound is represented one letter) were the bane of the
young French student's studies. In France they inspired a heated debate on
French orthography, involving primarily Louis Meigret (and later Ramus) at
one extreme and Guillaume des Autels at the other, with Jacques Pelletier du
Mans the voice of reason in between. In England only Hollyband, in his more
learned Latin treatise De pronuntiatione linguae Gallicae (1580), got involved
in this, arguing for a traditional orthography to help show etymological and
word-family connections, combined with diacritical marks to help show the
proper pronunciation. To demonstrate the range of alternatives he provides
four contrasting ways of representing several of his dialogues: according to the
writing system of the antiqua orthographia, according to the reformers, ac­
cording to his own system, and according to the modus loquendi. In none of
these, not even the modus loquendi or the system of the reformers, is the bi-
univocal principle followed absolutely (see Plate VI).
The description of the individual letters must take into account two prob­
lems: the establishment of a basic value for the letter, and a description of the
contexts in which that value is altered. The establishment of that basic value
may take the form of articulatory description, but as we saw above, this was a
science in its infancy, and even today, as a much more exact science, it is still
not usually regarded as of great utility in the classroom. More frequently, the
grammarians rely on comparison. The first comparison is within the target
language itself. Thus q is pronounced everywhere like k. The next obvious
comparison is with the language the students will know best, English. Thus
Palsgrave informs his charges that "The sounding of a/ which is most generally
used through out the frenche tonge/ is suche as we use with us/ where the best
englysshe is spoken" (I i recto). When those comparisons will not do, i.e.,
when no other single letter in French or English matches the value of the
French graph, then other languages or dialects are called to fill the gap. A

Du Ploiche, though he provided little description of the letters and their values, did offer a
complete guide to French syllabic combinations, both in artificial syllables and in real words.
This was a technique that De la Mothe copied. Hollyband's omissions in the Frenche Littel-
ton, may be explained by the fact that he had prepared a separate treatise just on French
orthography and pronunciation (De pronuntiatione..., 1580).

Alternate Orthography: Hollyband De Pronuntiatione Linguae Ga

number of grammarians note that French  is pronounced like the  in Scots'

gud (see above, note 46, p. 144). Other languages called into the fray are, in
descending order of importance, Latin, Italian, Greek, Spanish, Dutch, Ger­
man, and Welsh. Sometimes the combination of these leaves one wondering.
What possible good can it have done Du Wes' English students to know that
French gn is pronounced as the Italians (mis)pronounce Latin?
Having determined a base value for the letter, the next challenge is to
show in what contexts that value is changed. Again comparison within the
language is preferable as when the grammarians note that  before e or i is
pronounced as an s; before , ,  it is pronounced as a k. It helps that for both
those letters, the English pronunciation in English is the same as the French.
Eliot, influenced by the effort of providing full phonetic transcription for a
number of his dialogues, is particularly fond of comparison with English to
show the correct sounding of the letters.
By far the clearest presentation within this framework is Palsgrave's. A
separate chapter is devoted to each letter. The base value is established in the
first rule of the chapter, and each variation is presented in a new rule. The
letter e requires 8 rules and several exceptions. The fullness of his detail
allows him to make some more general remarks on French phonotactics that
completely escape the other grammarians of the period. In describing the
general rules for consonant clusters Palsgrave concludes:

And note that it is nat the nature of the frenche tonge/ to have many consonantes at the
begynnynge of theyr wordes/ to come before the vowell/ so that for the most part/
where as the latine worde hath .ii. consonantes or .iii. comyng before the vowel/ in the
frenche worde/ that is taken out of the latine/ they use to put re or e at the begynnynge
of the worde before these consonantes/ so that where the Latins say splendeo, scribo,
siringo [...] they say resplendir/ escripre/ estrayndre [...]/ and so for the most part of
all suche like/ so that I fynde nat in the frenche tong any auctor/ that hath a worde/
havyng .iii. consonantes before his first vowel/ save only Jehan le Maire/ whiche useth
splendeur and strideur: But I iuge hym among other writers in the frenche tong to be
like/ as amonge Latine auctors lerned men iudge Apuleius. (I ix recto)

Palsgrave, the lone English author for whom the distinction between peda­
gogue and theoretician of the language was blurred, was thus able to leap from
teaching rules to more general observations. No one in the 16th century, with
the possible exception of Hollyband in his De pronuntiatione [...], was to
follow his lead, for the very detail of his work made it too intimidating for the
young scholar, and the emphasis on rules as a pedagogical tool was to face a
serious challenge.
Pedagogical experience convinced most of the grammarians to concen­
trate on the big problems and skip the rest. Among the vowels, e presents the
greatest variation, and accordingly receives the most attention. E has usually
150 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

three sounds: masculine (é), neuter (è) and feminine (schwa). Because the
grammarians are still describing letters rather than sounds, few note the dis­
tinctive nature of French nasal vowels, and none describes them, and their
contrast with the oral vowel/nasal consonant sequence, adequately. Palsgrave
observes that a, e, and  are pronounced differently before m or n, and that this
change occur only if the syllable is blocked by m or n. Thus he distinguishes
between the first e in embler and the first e in tenement, but he fails to distin­
guish the first e of fendre from that of femme.
The key features to be noted among the consonants were the contexts in
which certain consonants, particularly s, were silent, and the pronunciation of
[z] (g or the consonant i), and of certain digraphs (ch, ph, th, ll, gn). For the
silent letters, general rules plus lists of exceptions sufficed, although in the
case of s, the list of exceptions grew quite long by the end of the century, a
combination of more rigorous reporting and of the mass of latinate neologisms
flooding the French language. The pronunciation of the sound [ž] is more
problematic. Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye tries to finesse the question by ex­
plaining that g before e and e is pronounced like the consonant i - but then he
never explains how that letter is pronounced. Comparison to Latin is Pals­
grave's solution, which goes to show that the restitution of classical pronuncia­
tion still had a way to go. While ph and th offered simple solutions (equiva­
lence with ƒ and t, respectively), the others required more explanation. Ch
could be compared to English sh, and for gn the grammarians could call on the
English words onion and minion for approximate equivalents.
Printing custom in the period failed to distinguish between  and v,
between i and j (McKerrow 1910). Therefore, the grammarians had to provide
rules that would allow the student to determine if the printed symbol would be
interpreted as a vowel or a consonant. This problem also complicated the
description of y. Some explain that y is a Greek letter, and all agree that its
pronunciation is identical with i. Palsgrave sees its primary utility as being a
means of avoiding two consecutive i. Thus he prefers Alain Chartier's festoyer
to Jehan le Maire's festiier. Hollyband sees it as a useful means to distinguish
between intervocalic yod and intervocalic [z]. Since there was still no distinc­
tion between the letters i and j , the rule stating that i before a vowel has a
consonantal pronunciation would have a form like axons pronounced /azo/
rather than /ajo/. Therefore i and y are not perfectly interchangeable.
The symbol h also merits special attention in most of the grammars. Most
explain that h is not a really a sound, but rather a nota aspirationis, whence the
modern term h aspiré, even though aspiration, even at this date, had nothing to

do with it.48 Already Palsgrave recognizes clearly that the important considera­
tion is the effect on elision and liaison, and provides a list of 135 words begin­
ning with h aspiré.
The presentation of the French sound inventory is thus hopelessly con­
fused by the reliance on the Latin alphabet as the basis for phonetic descrip­
tion. Furthermore, practical considerations concerning the teaching of lan­
guages limited the intellectual curiosity of the grammarians. A general feeling
that too much detail would overwhelm the student prevented the grammarians
from pursuing the pedagogical and descriptive advantages of an articulatory
classification of sounds. After Palsgrave, who worked before the advances in
articulatory description inspired by the Renaissance anatomists, none of the
16th-century grammarians of French in England attempted to bridge the gap
between pedagogy and the theory of pronunciation.
Combinatory Rules. The description of the values of individual letters was
usually supplemented by rules concerning the general changes relating to
classes of sounds (all vowels, all consonants, all liquids, etc.) and, less regular­
ly, by rules of accentuation and vowel length. The first group consists primari­
ly of liaison and elision rules, rules already common in the orthographic trea­
tises of the 14th century. In the intervening centuries the main improvement is
one of precision, specifying which vowels and consonants are lost and which
not. The rule concerning final vowels is often inserted in the discussion of
'feminine e', even though it also applies to the i of si (s'il) and the a of la
(l' amie).

Orthographia gallica: Item quandocumque diccio incipiens per vocalem sequitur

immediate diccionem in vocali terminantem, ille due vocales pro una sillaba compu-
tentur, dum tamen debeant conjunctim sine pausa pronuncian, verbi gracia, m'alme.,
m'aÿe, d'Engletere, d'Irlaunde, d'Excestre. (Johnston (1987:5) short version, S 8)

De la Mothe: The first rule is, that if a word endeth with e feminin, and that the word
following beginneth with a vowell e feminin is never pronounced; and the two, or
three, or foure words are ioyned together, as if they were but one word, as
belle amye  estre aymée:
Reade bell-amy-aym-estr-aymée.

But if a word endeth with é masculin, or with another vowell, and that the word

Danielsson (1959:81-82) notes that some aspiration may have remained in areas bordering
Germanic peoples and in Normandy, but the authors of these grammars claim to represent the
French of Paris and generally identify regional traits as such. Representations of any phonetic
realization of h may be laid on the influence of English pronunciation or on the influence of
152 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

following beginneth with another vowell, must é masculin, or some other vowell
whatsoever (except e feminin) be pronounced?
Yea: say then I'ay donné à mon pere,
and not i' ay donn à mon pere. (1592:62-64)

Palsgrave here remarks on the distinction between speaking and writing. In

speaking unaccented final e is dropped before a vowel. In writing it is dropped
in certain words (je, me, te, etc.) but not in others. For these, Palsgrave takes a
parts-of-speech approach, listing pronouns, prepositions 49 , adverbs (ne, que,
jusque50, and conjunctions (se/si) in separate chapters. This leaves the problem
of the definite article (le, la), which category does not appear in the Latin
grammars. Palsgrave compares it with the English definite article, and shows
how elision (before h) can be phonemic:

this difference appereth evydently in this worde heurel whiche havynge his aspiratyon/
betokeneth a Boores heed/ having it nat/ it betokeneth an houre/ so that lheure beto-
keneth the hour/ and nat the Boores heed: for I must nedes in that signification write le
heure. (1530:I xviii recto)

The consonant rule applies more generally and therefore is usually listed

Orthographia gallica: Item quocienscumque diccio indipiens cum consonante sequitur

immediate diccionem inconsonante terminantem, dum tamen sine pausa pronuncietur,
consonans ultima diccionis anterioris debet pronunciando pretermitti, verbi gracia,
mieuz vaut boyre aprés manger que devant, exceptis tribus consonantibus scilicet m, n,
r que pronunciando non debent pretermitti, verbi gracia, Pur Dieu, sire Williem, fetes
 talent. (Johnston (1987:6) short version, S 12)

De la Mothe: The thirde rule is, if a word endeth with one or two consonants, and that
the word following beginneth with another consonant, the consonant in the end of the
word are never pronounced, as
i'ayfaict cela: c'est trop tost parlé:
Reade i'ay fai cela, ce tro to parlé:
Hath this rule no exception?
Yes. The liquids /, m, n, r, are excepted; and of the mutes c, when it is not the last

In addition to de, Palsgrave places in this category entre and contre (both as separate
words and as prefixes), and the prefix re (1530: xvii recto).

Palsgrave disapproves of jusque, preferring jusques. The form without s is used "by a
lycence poetycall"(1530:I xvii recto).

letter of a word, for otherwise it must not be pronounced [...] (1592:66).

These rules describing the contexts in which certain letters are not pronounced
lead naturally into a discussion of the absence of word juncture, a phenomenon
Palsgrave attributes to a French tendency to be 'brefe and sodayne', and which
Eliot labels French 'volubilitie'. In De la Mothe's grammar, presented in the
form of a dialogue, the student asks why the French speak faster than the
English. De la Mothe offers three explanations. First, he states that if the
student knew French better, he would understand it more easily, and would not
think that it was spoken too rapidly. Secondly, he claims that French has
longer words than English. But the key reason is this problem of word junc­

Besides, we so knit and ioyne together our words with a mutuall knot and proportion,
both of vowels and consonants, that it seemeth that every comma [syntactic group] is
but a word: for though they are sometimes seven or eight together, they are so well
ioyned and fettered one with another, that they cannot be unknit without breaking the
rules of the true and naturall pronunciation: The which is so farre from making us
speake fast, that on the contrarie it giveth both grace and distinction to the pronuncia­
tion. (1592:78)

The question of proportion of vowels and consonants may refer to the prefer­
ence for open (C-V) syllabation, in which one vowel is linked to one conso­
nant. Palsgrave is more explicit about this in describing the second of his three
general characteristics of French pronunciation, the avoidance of harshness:

they never use to sounde past one onely consonant betwene two vowelles, thoughe for
keeping of trewe orthographie they use to write as many consonantes as the latine
wordes have/ whiche theyr frenche wordes come out of. (1530: "The Introduction of
the authour", A vi verso)

In these combinatory rules, unlike the description of individual sounds, the

grammarians had the classification system they needed to produce accurate
statements because the same type of rules were known in Latin versification.
Latin versification also provided the necessary terminology for the de­
scription of vowel length, inspiring perhaps too much imitation. Vowel length
is relatively unimportant in French, and was even at this period (Marchello-
Nizia 1979:82), but for the grammarians to admit that would distance their
language from the prestige model. Vowel quantity, which had phonemic status
154 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

in classical Latin, had, and has, only phonetic status in French. 51 Palsgrave
specifies that only one vowel (u) is long by nature, and the lengthening of
other vowels depends on three factors co-occurring: to be lengthened, a vowel
must be an accented vowel, blocked by one or two from a specific group of
consonants, in sentence-final position(1530: I xx verso). Hollyband observes
the lengthening of vowels before final /z/ (-ase, -ose, -ise, -euse, -use) and in
the suffix -ine (1576: L iv verso - L v verso).
Prosodic considerations of intonation are almost unknown in these
grammars, in spite of the model provided by Meigret (1550). Palsgrave
combines his generalizations on word accent and word-group accent:

Accent in the frenche tonge is a lyftinge up of the voyce/ upon some wordes or sylla­
bles in a sentence/ above the resydue of the other wordes or syllables in the same
sentence/ so that what soever worde or syllable as they come toguyder in any sentence/
be sowned higher than the other wordes or syllables in the same sentence upon them/ is
the accent [...] (1530:I xviii recto)

Others, while mentioning the position of the word accent, omit sentence or
word-group accent.
Working from the Latin model of phonological description, the grammar­
ians of the 16th century were able to describe features that depended on the
combination of sounds better than they were able to handle the features of
individual sounds and of the sound system. Ultimately the test of these de­
scriptive systems was whether they could help a student acquire good French
pronunciation. When that goal was not achieved, the reaction was to dispense
with rules of any sort as much as possible. First Hollyband in his Frenche
Littelton (1576) removed the rules from the beginning of his text, where they
served as a prerequisite to the subsequent dialogues, and he placed them at the
end, where they could serve as a reference tool for those who needed it. Judg­
ing the greatest problem to be the number of silent letters, he bypasses rules by
using a small subscripted cross to indicate letters not to be pronounced. In his
De pronuntiatione [...] (1580), he offers full phonetic transcription of several
of his dialogues. Still, he also includes there the full range of rules. Transcrip­
tion is seen as a final summarizing step, rather than as the beginning of the
process. This change was to be taken by Eliot, who invites the student to move
directly into the pronunciation of full French dialogues by providing full tran­

The minimal pair mettre/ maître in modern French is sometimes cited to justify the
phonemic status of vowel length in French, but the frequency of occurrence is quite small as
is the number of speakers who actually make the distinction.

I have added to six chapters the true pronounciation of every word wholly, and have
put certaine little strikes (called approches) betweene the sillables that are to bee
spoken roundly and glib with one breath, which helpe for the volubilitie and swift
roling of the speech, one of the greatest graces thereof. (1593: B i verso)

Transcription combined with the marking of accent and word-groupings

eliminated the need for either kind of rules and permitted the student to avoid
tedious preliminary exercises. These transcripted dialogues are alternated with
dialogues lacking this feature, thus testing the students' internalization of the
implicit rules. With the aid of the technology of printing, the student was freed
from dependence upon the master and his insistence on the intellectual disci­
pline of the rules. Whether this would have permitted the users of Eliot's book
to pass a French version of the test of the shibboleth we have no way of
knowing. Morphology and Syntax

Just as the grammarians were handicapped by a Latin alphabet in attempt­

ing to describe French phonology, so were they constrained by a Latin
grammatical apparatus when it came to the description of French morphology
and syntax. Translation - Latin to French, Latin to English, and French to
English - was both the goal of language study, the method used to teach
languages, and the basis for grammatical description. The prestige of transla­
tion and its role in 16th-century education led grammarians to classify English
and French structures according to the Latin grammatical categories they trans­
lated. Then the grammarians of French in England sought to match, for exam­
ple, the French tenses used to translate the Latin present subjunctive with the
English tenses used to translate the Latin present subjunctive, without estab­
lishing the morphological and syntactic functions of those tenses within each
language's own system. The result, to the modern linguist, often seems con­
fusing, but given the goals and practices of the day translational grammar had
a certain logic to it.
The amount of information on the grammatical structures of the language
again differs widely. Four texts omit morphological and syntactic explanations
altogether. Others provide a very limited description of morphological varia­
tion of a few parts of speech with a more extensive (though not always com­
plete or logical) introduction to verb conjugations. This leaves only four of the
fourteen grammars printed in England, which both treat French as worthy of
this kind of grammatical description and which find such description pedagogi-
cally useful. Once again we have a continuum offering the following levels of
interest in grammar:
156 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

1) No grammatical information at all (Eliot, De la Mothe, Plaine Pathway, A Very

Necessarye Boke);
2) Verb conjugations, pronominal declensions, formation of plurals of nouns and
adjectives (Barcley, Hollyband, Du Ploiche);
3) (2) plus lists of invariable parts of speech (Du Wes, Valence)
4) Formal treatment of all parts of speech: definitions and descriptions (Palsgrave,
Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye, Bellot, and Morlet).

The more the work is oriented toward the mercantile class, both for the pur­
poses of commerce and of social climbing, the more it resembles a modern
Berlitz or Assimil program, stressing contextualized vocabulary over grammat­
ical structure. The closer one gets to the aristocracy and the university, the
more likely the grammar is to resemble a Latin grammar. 52 The number of
parts of speech was fixed at 8 since classical antiquity (although the Latin 8
differed from the Greek by the substitution of the interjection for the article).53
Each part of speech was defined54 and then analyzed according to its 'acci­
dents', generally morphological categories (including derivational morpholo­
gy) in ancient times, to which we shall see added categories relating to the
comparison of French and English syntax.
The definitions themselves offer an interesting picture of the battles going

This may or may not be true in the case of Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye. We know nothing
of him aside from this book. Danielsson (1959:78) suggests that he may have been associated
with the family of Guillaume Ledoyen, a poet from Laval who died in 1537 (or 1540). Bellot
identifies himself as a nobleman from Caen. Upon his arrival in England in 1577 or 1578 he
moved directly into the household of Sir Philip Wharton, a baron, for whom he also translated
into modern French a medieval treatise on estate management. Morlet was associated with
Broadgates Hall at Oxford. Palsgrave, of course, taught for the royal family. The only excep­
tion to this is Du Wes, who, in spite of teaching members of the royal family, found defini­
tions and rules impossible and unhelpful. This difference in attitude between Du Wes and the
three tutors from the second half of the century may also be related to the change in the atti­
tude of the nobility towards education (see above, pp. 102-105).
Later in the century Cauchie (1570) and Serreius (1598) propose nine-class systems for
French, granting the article full status as a part of speech (Padley 1988:421). None of the
English grammarians follows this lead.

Morlet omits definitions, stating at the beginning of the section for each part of speech that
the definition is the same as in Latin. Since he was writing in Latin, at Oxford, he could
assume that his students had mastered that aspect of grammatical terminology.
Even among the Latin pedagogues of the day, the enthusiasm for definitions and rules was
not universal. Cordier, in a work on Latin that was translated into English in 1575, states that
"those who, for example, introduce children to languages by means of definitions and other
obscure and difficult things, act contrary to reason" (cited in Kelly 1969:212).

on among 16th century grammarians. The Latin definitions taken from Dona­
tus cite wherever possible morphological characteristics of the part of speech.
The French grammarians rely more on syntax than on morphology, and more
on meaning than on syntax. The first point may reflect an unconscious recog­
nition of the shift from an analytic to a synthetic language. The second de­
pends more on the importance of translation. Palsgrave would like to keep
morphological distinctions where possible, for he finds morphological acci­
dence a key to the 'perfection 5 of French: "in theyr analogie and maner of
congruite [...]they be moche more parfyte and exquisyte than we be/ and
moche more approche towardes the parfection of the latyn tong than we do"
(1530: "The Introduction of the authour" A vi verso). Ironically, though he
finds French 'more perfect' than English, in the first instance in which he uses
morphological variation to distinguish between two word classes (noun and
adjective), it is English which matches Latin structures of comparison. There­
fore the division of French nouns into nouns and adjectives depends on the
translational equivalents for an English (and Latin) morphological structure.
When Palsgrave does not include morphological variation in his definition, he
is more likely to include syntactic information, as when he points out that the
verb, joined with a subject, makes a complete sentence, or that the pronoun
agrees with the noun it represents in number and person. Bellot and Ledoyen
de la Pichonnaye tend to give vague, semantically-based definitions where
Palsgrave attempts more grammatical precision. Sometimes this precision
leads him astray, as when he limits the complements of a preposition to nouns
and pronouns, but even though this leaves out verbs, it is preferable to the
meaningless 'word that precedes another word' definition of Ledoyen de la
Pichonnaye. This vagueness is the product of the translational method and the
translational goal of language instruction, and presages the development of
universal grammar schemes in the 17th century. Where morphological systems
are in conflict, the grammarians seek to establish semantic word classes, which
can be realized in any number of ways in the individual languages.
Word classes defined semantically, however, are often too vague to be
useful, particularly for the language learner. Many grammarians concluded
that too much information produced too few results, and concentrated on a few
main areas of difficulty, most notably verb conjugation and pronominal de­
clension. Invariable parts of speech are virtually ignored in the texts of Group
2 (listed above) and appear only in very abbreviated lists in the texts of Group
3. This hierarchy of grammatical information continues the medieval tradition.
Barton treated only three parts of speech (noun, pronoun, verb). The Liber
Donati provided extensive verb conjugations. The orthographic treatises cov­
ered the formation of plurals in nouns and determiner-noun agreement in
number and gender. The problem with this solution in the 16th century is that
the conditions and purposes of language instruction had changed. In the 14th
century French was still written, if not spoken, in a wide variety of official
158 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

functions. The knowledge of French that those functions required, largely the
manipulation of fixed formulae, could be obtained by these rudimentary
grammars. This is far less the case in the second half of the 16th century, when
official use of French had dwindled to almost nothing, and most were anxious
to learn the language either for a show of class education, or for the more
serious business of translation. For the first purpose, the books of Groups 1, 2,
and 3 would suffice; for the second only the complete grammars would do.
Latin grammar being at the base of all 16th century French grammatical
description, we shall now study that material according to the classificational
principles which guided these grammarians, the division of the parts of speech
and their accidents. 55 As a point of reference the basic definitions offered by
Donatus are included, as well as any found in Barton. I have not attempted
here to catalog all the information provided by all the authors 56 ; instead I
concentrate on the key issues disputed within each category and the type of
linguistic argumentation.


Donatus: Pars orationis cum casu corpus aut rem proprie communiterve significans. (373)
Barton: Chescun mot que porte le nom de une chose par soy mesmes ou pendant d'un aultre
est appellé nom. — Pour quoy ditez vous 'par soy mesmes'? — Pour ces noms que sont

For an excellent discussion of the history of the parts of speech approach, see Langages 92
(1988), Padley's three books on grammatical theory in Western Europe (1976, 1985, 1988),
and Ian Michael's English Grammatical Categories (1970). The special issue of Langages
provides more of a theoretical perspective on the problem, the latter two a fuller description.
The issue of Langages, organized by Bernard Colombat, includes an introduction to the
problem by Colombat, the development of the parts of speech approach among the Greek
grammarians by Jean Lallot, in the Middle Ages by Irène Rosier, and in the Renaissance by
Colombat and Jacques Jullien. Jullien's article is particularly interesting for the present study,
as it deals with French grammatical terminology in the 16th century, but the only English
grammarian he takes into account is Palsgrave, and his real focus is on grammars written in
France in the second half of the century. Padley (1988:420-487) describes the application of
Latin norms to the French inventory, but includes only passing mention of English contribu­
I am preparing separately a full study of these descriptions, combining them with the
analyses prepared by French grammarians working in France in the 16th century.
All page references for Donatus are to Keil's Leipzig edition of 1864, Volume 4 of the
Grammatici Latini. Barton is taken from Swiggers' 1985 edition. All of the references to
Palsgrave are in the second book of Lesclarcissement.

appellés substantifs, sicome ''une femme', ''une homme'. —Et ppourquoy ditez vous 'pendant
d'un aultre'? — Pour les noms que sont appellés adjectifs, que ne pouent pas estre par eullx,
mais il leur fault tous jours ou estre aveque leurs substantifs ou les avoir entenduz, sicome
'bon', 'bel'. (246)
Palsgrave: Nownes substantives be suche as wyll have one of the ..ii. articles before them,,
(xxxi recto) Nownes adiectyves be suche in this tong/ as may have with us Er and Est added
to theyr endes/ whan we make commparyson in our tong. (xxxii verso)
Ledoyen de Ia Pichonnaye: The noune is the name of a thing which may be seene, touched,
heard or understoode. The noune substantive is the same that may be of it selfe, and hath no
neede to be ioyned with another worde to signifie the nature of a thing [...] The noune Adiec-
tive is that which can signify nothing of its selfe, but must be alwayes ioyned with a Substan­
tive [...] (C vi recto)
Bellot: A nowne is a part of speech, which serveth to name those thinges, that may be seene,
felte, heard, and understand. A Nowne substantive, is that which maketh a perfect sence with
the verbe. (E ii recto) A Nowne adiective, is that which is ioyned with the Substantive, to
shew which, and of what nature, is the said Substantive. (E ii verso)

The definitions are by themselves indicative of the problems that must be

resolved in 16th-century French grammar. The classification of substantives
and adjectives depends on semantic (substance vs. accidence), syntactic
(with/without the article, collocation with the verb/noun) and morphological
(case, comparison) criteria. Whereas Barton settled for equating the French
accidents of substantives and adjectives with the standard list of Latin acci­
dents, Palsgrave made several important changes, according direct contrasts
between French and English the status of 'accident'. Thus, for example,
'agreement with the substantive' and 'order betwene the substantyve and the
adiectyve contrary to our tong' are the third and seventh accidents of the adjec­
tive. This innovation is not repeated elsewhere.58
In Donatus' definition of nouns he mentions the morphological feature of

Du Wes makes no general statements about the order of adjectives and substantives, but
includes a paragraph full of examples, from which the student might glean the rules involved
(1532: E i recto-verso). Valence simply states 'The substantyf afore the adiectyf' and lists
seven examples (1528: P i verso). Hollyband buries his comments on word order (both sub­
stantive-adjective and verb-object pronoun) in a paragraph on negation with the heading Ne
(1573:40). Among the French grammarians in France, Garnier describes the order substantive-
adjective as a 'natural' one, because Nature considers 'substance' more importance than
'accidence': "In parte hac Galli imitantur ipsam naturam, quae prius vult substantiam esse
quam accidens, cuius esse in esse, & prius generantem quam genitum" (Gamier 1558:22). The
grammarians in France are comparing the relatively free order of Latin to the relatively fixed
order of French. The grammarians in England are contrasting different orders, both of which
are fixed.
160 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

case, and even though this is not continued in any of the French definitions,
the issue of nominal declension is an important one for the French grammar­
ians of the period, even those who do not provide full treatment of all the parts
of speech. To this feature is tied, in grammars of French, the problem of the
article. For those who present nominal declension, the signs of the cases are
the definite article alone or in combination with the prepositions de or à.59
The article serves not only as an indicator of case, but also, for Palsgrave,
as the basis for the division between substantives and adjectives. This appreci­
ation of the function of the article leads Palsgrave to recognize the status of the
indefinite article and points the way towards recognition of a class of deter­
miners that would include the demonstrative and possessive 'adjectives'.
Although he follows the tradition in listing these demonstratives and posses­
sives under the class of pronouns60, he recognizes the affinities in usage with
the articles:

And note that thoughe it ofte happen that a substantyve beyng nominatyve case to a
verbe hath no mo wordes before hym but one of the two artycles or one of the pro-
nownes derivatyves or one of these partityves, distributyves, or numeralles: yet if he
have an adiectyve he must nedes also have one of these wordes to as though I maye
saye le maistre, mon maistre, chascun maistre, troys maistres, and than adde a verbe. I
can nat saye bon maistre, saige maistre, but I must nedes also have one of those
wordes comynge before the adiectyve [...] (1530: II xxxiv verso)

Palsgrave also links these words in his second accident for the preposition,
when he states that the preposition must come farthest from the substantive in
prepositional phrases, separated from the noun by the words of this class
(1530:  1v recto). He was only a short step away from inventing the category
of determiners but it was a step he was never to take.
Just the definite article alone has hazards enough for these grammarians,
because it is identical in form with the direct object pronoun. Bellot considers

R. Estienne see this as the primary function of the article: "Articles sont petits mots d'une
syllabe, faisans ung mot, desquels on sert pour donner a cognoistre les cas des Latins qu'ils
appellent nominatif, genitif, datif, accusatif, ablatif [...] (1557:18). For the history of the class
of article in grammars written in France see Yvon 1955.

The possessive determiners are considered derivative pronouns because they are seen as
derived from the subject pronouns. The tendency to classify by etymological categories is also
reflected in the accident species in the classical grammarians.

the articles as "borowed of the Pronownes and Prepositions" (E iii recto) 61 ; of

the pronouns for the reasons listed above, of the preposition because of the
contracted forms of the definite article with de and à. Bellot's confusion
concerning the definite article has him place it both in the table of articles
(1588:E iii recto- E iv recto) and of the "second declension of pronouns". In
the latter he has no plural forms; in the former, the pronominal form aux uns is
listed as the plural dative of the indefinite article (instead of the expected à
des). In his third book entitled "On Construction", Bellot refers to the article le
as a 'pronowne demonstrative' (identical to the Latin form from which it is
derived) and the pronoun le as a 'pronowne relative' (i.e., refering back to
something already mentioned) (R i recto-verso).
The syntax of the article receives scant attention. Hollyband (1573:42),
citing Perion's Dialogorum de origine linguae gallicae (1555), observes
simply that some article must be used before all nouns, and considers the
syntax of the article as one of the biggest problems for the learner of French.
However, the following text is the complete description he provides, and this
clearly would not be much of a guide for the non-native speaker:

as the Grecian saith nothyng without article, so doth the Frenchman: le, and un, is the
article of the masculine and neuter gender: la, and une, of the fem. whiche the reader
ought diligently to consider and marke, for it is the proper signe and token by the
whiche wee know the straungers and forrein: a thynge as hard unto them to observe
our articles ioynyng the genders together, as it is paynefull unto us to pronounce the
english tongue: for if he say, un pome, for, une pome, mon chemise, in stede of ma
chemise, straitway he sheweth what he is. (1573:42-44)

In the Frenche Littelton (1576) he adds, to justify the brevity of his explana­
tion, that "we have no generall rule for to teache it" (N iii verso). Even Pals­
grave has little to offer in describing the syntax of the article. He states that
'the' and le have equivalent use, but cites a few cases in which the English
indefinite 'a/an' cannot be translated by un (1530:I i verso).
The grammarians' desire to retain case as a feature of nouns, and to use
derivational rather than syntactic criteria for the description of the determiner
class thus leads them into a number of problems. It makes the article nothing
other than an indicator of case, and thus ignores the more complex syntax and
semantics of the article, and the shared properties of the determiners as a class.
The article is sometimes listed under the pronoun, because of the identity of
form with the direct object pronoun. The descriptive traditions of Latin

This is undoubtedly taken from Robert Estienne's description (1557:18-19) to the same
effect. See Padley 1988:422-428 and Yvon 1949-1957.
162 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

grammar offer no model, and the etymologizing tradition leads the grammar­
ians astray. Only Palsgrave, by stating firmly that there are no nominal declen­
sions and by creating a clear class of articles (even though he does not accord
them the status of'part of speech'), avoids the traps of the tradition. His
emphasis on syntactic function, although not pushed to its logical conclusion
for the recognition of a class of determiners, permits him to sidestep some of
the confusion found elsewhere.


Donatus Pars orationis, quae pro nomine posita tantundem paene significat personamque
recepit. (379)
Barton: Chescun mot que est mis en lieu d'un nom et oveques ce seignifie certeine personne,
est appelle un pronom. (247)
Palsgrave: Pronownes be suche as standynge in the stede of substantives may governe verbes
to be of lyke nombre and parson with them, (xxxiv recto)
Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye: A Pronoune is a part of speache or kinde of worde verie lyke to
the Noune, which men use, to shewe things that are understoode by it. (D v verso)
Bellot: Pronownes, are words much like unto Nownes which are used in shewing or rehears­
ing. (F i recto)

Most of the definitions emphasize the relationship between the pronoun

and the noun it replaces, but Palsgrave stresses instead the accord between the
pronoun and the verb. This has several repercussions. First, it leads him to
accord the status of accident to three features of the pronoun as part of the verb
phrase: "governyng of the verb", "order contrarie to our tonge" (preverbal
position of object pronouns) and "doublynge whan the acte of the verbe re-
tourneth to the doar agayne" (special uses of reflexive constructions). Second,
it brings him to revise the classification of pronouns, recognizing all forms
which can serve as subject to the verb as 'primitives'. Third, it permits him to
accurately represent a contrast in the use of the parts of speech between Eng­
lish and French, in the case of so-called 'inalienable possession'.
Of these, the contrast in word order was the most likely to be picked up by
other grammarians. Valence and Du Wes both suggest that their pupils manip­
ulate sentences in a variety of ways so that proper word order becomes second

Here consequently foloweth the coniugations wherof the fyrst shalbe tourned in one
tens/ synguler nombre & plurell/ sixe and thirty maner a wayes/ every person sixe
maner wayes: that is to say/ the Affyrmatyve thre wayes and the negatyve lykewise/ as
whan I say. I have/ which is affyrmation or grauntyng. If ye do turne it/ ye shall have/
Have I. And if ye put this worde/ Why/ before it/ ye shall have a questyon: as/ Why
have I/ & lykewyse of the negation or denying [...]

Also there is another maner/ whiche shall serve for every verbe lykewise/ and shalbe
turned in one tens an hundred and eyght wayes/ with thre pronownes/ that is to say:
me/ the/ hym. Example for the fyrst persone. I have me/I have the/I have hym. And
we tourne it/ we shall have: Have I me/ have I the/ have I hym [...] (Du Wes 1532:I iv

This is then pursued in the tables of conjugations, as illustrated below in Plate

VII. Hollyband is perhaps too concise and specific in his rule, stating simply
"me, te, se, le, vous are comonly set before the verbe [...] vous followeth the
verbe at the question" (1573:39-41). Bellot states that the "Accusative Pro-
nowne must goe before the Verbe" (R i verso), but makes no general statement
about indirect object pronouns, inversion in question formation, etc.
The classification of pronouns is another area of dispute. The majority of
the grammarians are motivated by principles of etymology and derivation to
limit the class of primitive pronouns either to the singular subject pronouns
plus se, from these the plural forms can be derived as well as the other cases
(Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye, Morlet), or to the singular and plural forms, but
only the masculine forms of the third person (from which can be derived the
feminine forms). Both of these solutions have the weakness of requiring a
double derivation to arrive at certain forms: first to plural (or feminine), then
to an oblique case. In the confusion, some forms are lost, most frequently leur,
either as a dative object pronoun or as a possessive. Palsgrave, because he
starts with a full set of subject pronouns, is able to lay out neater and more
accurate paradigms, and the reason he was able to start with that full set of
pronouns is that he determined the members of the class strictly on syntactic
The third improvement he achieves because he links the pronoun to the
verb rather than the noun it replaces is the understanding of shifts in article and
pronoun usage in cases of 'inalienable possession'. This phenomenon he
describes as the fourth accident of derivative pronouns, "resolvyng into their

Whan we expresse dymynisshyng or hurtyng or generally any acte to be done to any

parte of a man or bestes body/ in all suche sentences they resolve the pronowne dery-
vatyve in to his primytyve usynge the artycle/ le, in the place where the pronowne
deryvatyve was used in our tonge of suche gendre and nombre as the substantyve
requyreth [...]
The hangman dyd fyrst bynde his eyes and after dyd cutte of his heed/ le boureau
primier luy benda les yeulx et puis luy couppa la teste. (1530: I cvii recto)
164 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

Pronoun Placement/Verb Conjugation Drills: Du Wes 1532

The traditional approach, relating the pronoun to the noun it replaces, does not
lead the grammarian to confront this shift in the type of pronoun, from 'deriva­
tive accusative' (to use their terminology) to 'primitive dative'. Trousson
describes the problem in these terms:

Du XVIe au XXe siècle, la théorie du pronom oscille perpétuellement entre deux types
de critères apparemment inconciliables: le premier se fonde sur les propriétés syntaxi­
ques et distributionnelles de cette catégorie de mots; le second sur la notion de person­
ne grammaticale. Définir le pronom syntaxiquement, c'est reconnaître un paradigme à
trois termes (je, tu, il) susceptibles d'assumer dans la phrase les mêmes fonctions que
le nom. Prendre pour base la personne, c'est au contraire scinder le paradigme: il
s'oppose à je et tu puisque seul le pronom de troisième personne peut jouer le rôle d'un
anaphorique. (Trousson 1986:60)

Palsgrave opts for the first solution, and in so doing arrives at an accurate
description because he is more aware of the functions of the pronouns in rela­
tion to the verb, and because he is more sensitive to contrasts between French
and English. Small shifts in the definitions can open new areas for inquiry.
A less successful reflection on the relations between certain pronouns and
the verb comes in Palsgrave's explanation of the pronoun en. This he includes
in the section on verbs, presented as a positive equivalent of the negative ne

For often tymes they put en next before theyr verbes/ whan they affirme a thyng to be
done/ whan he signifieth nothyng/ but onely as a signe of affirmation/ used rather to
make the sentence more fulle in sounde to the eare/ than for any necessite [...] (1530: II
xlvi recto)

Surprisingly, Valence gives the clearest explanation of the pronominal func­

tion of en: "En before the verbe sygnifieth in englysshe/ some/ or of it/
makyng mention & relation of the thyng before spoken" (1528: E iv verso). 62
Hollyband, using the translational method, gives all the possible values of en:

En, is a rehearsing of a thyng before spoken: as, prestes moy de V argent: le n' en ay
point [...] Sometime, en, is a preposition: as, il est en la chambre: en l'esglise: he is in
the chambre: within the churche. Sometime it is put with verbes which doo signifie
movyng: as, le m'en vary au marché. I go to the market.

Valence is also the only one to accurately describe the function of the pronoun y (1528: F i
166 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

This type of translational equivalent, always popular as a means of or substi­

tute for grammatical explanation in the 16th century, is especially prevalent
among the pronouns. Palsgrave lists all the possible translations of 'she' (III
cii recto-verso). Bellot notes ten different translations of que, some pronomi­
nal, some not:

Que, asking a question, and also answering the same, is englished What [...]
Que, Being an Adverbe of Asking, must be englished, Why [...]
Que, Being an Adverbe of Quantitie, or a Coniunction Exceptive, must be englished
Que, Being an Adverbe of Comparison without a question, ought to be englished As
Que, Being an Adverbe of Comparison, asking a question, or answering the same, in
shewing any thing is englished Then [...]
Que, Being a Pronowne Relative, shewing possession is englished That [...]
Que, Being set for Combien is englished How much, What, or How many [...]
Que, Being a Pronowne Relative without possession is englished Which or That [...]
Que, Being set in the sentence, either before, or after the Coniunction, Sy, is englished
That and in like manner being set with a Coniunction of wishing [...]
Que, Comming before, or following after any Coniunction, is englished That [...]
(1588: Siv recto-T i verso)

One form serving many functions, as in the case of le above, is perplexing not
only to the student, but also to the grammarian seeking a concise explanation.


Donatus: Pars orationis cum tempore et persona sine casu aut agere aliquid aut pati aut neu­
trum significans. (381)
Barton: Chescun mot que, oveques temps et sanz case, signifie fair ou seuffre, est un verbe,
sicome 'je ayme'. (249)
Palsgrave: Verbes be suche as of theyr owne nature betoken doyng or sufferyng and havyng
ioyned unto them any of the pronownes primitives may make a parfit reason. (xxxvii recto)
Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye: The Verbe, is a kinde of woorde which is coniugated by moodes
and by tenses, & sheweth the things that have action and Passion, as when I say, I' aime, I
love. (E ii recto)
Bellot: Verbes, are wordes, which be declined with Moodes and Tenses, and are betokening
doing, as Dancer, To Daunce. Or suffring, as Ie suis Batu, I am beaten. (G i recto)

All the grammarians mention the semantic field of the category, but once
again Palsgrave stands out by his insistence on a syntactic rather than a
morphological definition. Verbs are words that can combine with the subject
pronouns to form a complete sentence. His interest in the sentence as a unit,

rather than the part of speech, in the interdependence of the parts of speech
rather than their independence, leads him to add to the standard lists of acci­
dents "circumlocutyng of the preter tenses", "addynge of sillabical adiections
in affirmation and negation", "order different from our tong in interrogation".
The first of these is simply the formation of compound past tenses. The next
describes negation and the use of en without pronominal reference in expres­
sions like je m'en vais. Unfortunately, Palsgrave also uses this to refer to the
use of en with pronominal reference (see above, p. 165). Finally, he describes
the placement of the subject pronoun after the verb in interrogative structures,
as well as the inclusion of both a noun and the subject pronoun representing it
in such sentences {Ma robe est elle nette?).
The most striking feature of 16th-century descriptions of the verb is the
dazzling array of moods and tenses, an array that vastly exceeds the morpho­
logical range of French. It is a case of too many inherited categories for a
language that, rich as its mood, tense, and aspectual systems are, cannot
compare with Latin and Greek. Palsgrave describes seven moods, two of
which have no morphological identity.63 In Bellot's system, a single morpho­
logical tense can appear several times in the conjugational table, and a single
designation can have as many as three morphological or syntactic realizations.
Thus what we today would call the present subjunctive, appears in Bellot's
charts as a present optative, a future optative, a present conjunctive; and the
conjunctive present has three different forms (what we today would call the
present subjunctive, the present indicative introduced by veu que, the present
indicative introduced by quand. Tense distinction depends not only on the
morphology but on the conjunction used to introduce it: vu que, combien que,
quand, à la mienne volonté que, etc. These conjunctions are described as the
'signs' of the moods and tenses, just as the article is the 'sign' of the cases.
What had both a morphological and semantic justification in Greek has often
only a semantic justification in French, but that does not mean it is any less
useful, for the goal is translation, which requires a fine understanding of
semantic nuances. The patterns may not make much sense as morphological
charts, but they are not without merit in terms of establishing translational

In spite of Palsgrave's many innovations, his conjugational scheme reveals the gap be­
tween the advances of so-called 'theoretical grammar' in the Humanist period and Palsgrave's
'pedagogical grammar'. The discovery of Varro's De lingua latina led Pomponio and then
Linacre to reanalyze the future perfect, transferring it from the category of 'future subjunc­
tive' to that of 'future perfect indicative' (Percival 1976:85-86). Palsgrave worked with Lin­
acre in the court of Henry VIII, and therefore was in a position to be aware of such new analy­
ses, but in his grammar he placed the French future perfect in the traditional spot, as did all
the other grammarians of French in England in the 16th century.
168 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

The last major question for the verbs is the method used to explain tense
formation, related also to the classification of conjugations. Du Wes finds only
one division between French conjugations:

It is to be noted that in the frenche tonge is but two coniugacions: the first shal be
discerned and knowen by the first persone piurei nombre of the present in the she-
wynge moode/ for where the sayd fyrst persone hath no s in the second sillable before
his termination or ende/ than it is of the first/ as in these verbes/ Aymons/ avons/
batons/ donons with such lyke: And where there is an s begiynning the last syllable of
the forsayd fyrst persone/ than it is of the second/ as in these verbes/ Baisons/ taisons/
brisons/ faisons/ disons/ lisons/ pensons, etc. (1532: F ii verso - F iii recto)

With such a start to his classificational scheme, it is little wonder that Du Wes
concludes rules are impossible for French, and settles for listing all the forms
for as many verbs as he can. This is, in fact the most common approach, and
the reason verb morphology takes up such an inordinate amount of the space
in these texts (see the charts on pp. 134-138, above). To this approach we can
contrast Bellot, who only devotes 41% of his morphology section to verbs (as
opposed to Du Wes' 90%). The reason Bellot is able to do this is because he
makes a more careful (though still not totally logical) division of conjugations
in the beginning (6 conjugations rather than 2) and then makes as many gener­
al rules as he can before turning to his charts. He proceeds tense by tense, with
a paragraph in each tense for each of the six conjugations. The starting point
(infinitive, or form from another tense already presented) for each tense varies,
and even varies within the tense. He tries to select a starting point that is as
close as possible to the first-person singular form of the tense in question. The
imperfect indicative uses as a stem the third-person singular form of the
present tense for verbs of the first conjugation (-er), the infinitive for verbs
like saillir ( > sailloye), the first-person plural form of the -ir/ -iss verbs, etc.
The variations in the stem also lead to variations in the endings: sometimes
one adds -oye, at other times -loye, -soye, -cevoye, toye, etc. It is not the most
efficient system, but it does reduce the number of pages that a student must
Verbal morphology constitutes a major part of the grammars of the 16th
century, but it does not represent progress in linguistic description. Page after
page of verb charts is an admission of failure to discover more general rules
that can reduce the time spent at rote learning. At the same time, the reliance
on translational equivalents marks a failure to discover the internal principles
of tense, mood, and aspectual systems of each language. The English student
learning French under these conditions found himself memorizing verbs
organized in tables based on the French equivalents of Latin tenses.


Donatus: Pars orationis partem capiens nominis, partem verbi; nominis genera et casus, verbi
tempora et significationes, utriusque numerum et figuram. (363)
Palsgrave: Participles be suche in frenche as in some accidentes resemble unto their verbes
and in some accidentes unto their nownes adiectives. (liv recto)
Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye: The participle is a part of speach. which is so called, bicause it
proceedeth of the nature of the Verbe, and of the Nowne. (G v verso)
Bellot: Participles, are Wordes derived of Verbes, which doe take part of a Nowne, as Gender,
Case, and Declension, And part of a Verbe, as Tense, and Signification, And part of both, as
Number and Figure. (O iii verso)

The participle is an uncontroversial part of speech for the grammarians of

French in England. The definitions contrast once again the emphasis on deriva­
tion in Bellot and Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye, as against Palsgrave's interest on
formal and syntactic characteristics of the independent part of speech. Thus the
former describe the participle as deriving its chief morphological characteris­
tics from the noun and the verb, where Palsgrave simply notes similarity.
Arguments about agreement that were to be developed at great length in 17th-
century grammars in France (Padley 1988:470-475) receive scant attention in
the works under consideration here. Its forms (present active and past passive)
are simply listed at the end of the verb tables in Valence (who calls them
'infinitives'), Du Wes (under 'Gerundives'), and Hollyband. The three
grammarians who provide the definitions above describe the variation for
gender and number, with Palsgrave and Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye describing
the formation of the present participle from the stem of the imperfect indica­
tive. An interesting twist in Bellot is the inclusion of deverbal adjectives in
-ble as 'future participles': Le honnorable, 'The Honnorable, or to be hon­
ored'. Here the link between the verb {honorer) and the participle is easily
made, but in his other example there is no French verb to serve as a source: Le
invisible, 'The Invisible, or not to be seene' (1588: O iv recto). Palsgrave
alone takes on the question of agreement, in his accidents 'declynation with
diversyte of gendre and nombre' (for the present participle) and 'agreyng with
the relatyve or some other accusatyve case governed of the verbe' (for the past
participle). In the first instance, Palsgrave finds usage mixed. He would like to
follow the Latin model and omit variation for gender, but he finds examples in
Octavien de Saint-Gelais and Guillaume d'Alexis in which feminine forms
have been used. For the agreement of the passive participles he cites instances
in which the agreement is with a preceding direct object pronoun, a preceding
direct object relative pronoun, and with a direct object noun. Most of the
examples of this last case involve preposed nouns, but not all (e.g., il a prinse
une flesche), which leads Palsgrave to conclude "in this later maner of spe-
kynge I fynde nat the tonge utterly and thoroughly certayne" (1530:III ccccxiii
170 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

verso). Palsgrave is also the only grammarian of the group to consider English
to French translational equivalents, noting that the English participle can be
translated by a French participle (I founde hym speakynge with her: Je le
trouvay parlant avec elle), a French noun (We wyll to morowe have a speak­
ing togyther her of: Nous aurons demayn ung parlement de cecy ensemble), or
a French infinitive (No man may lyve without eatyng and drinkyng: Nul ne
peult vivre sans boyre et manger) (1530: I ccccxii verso).


Donatus: Pars orationis, quae adiecta verbo significationem eius explanat atque implet. (375)
Palsgrave: Adverbes be suche as belongyng unto verbes serve to make declaration or answere
unto suche questyons as be demaunded of a dede and to expresse the tyme, place, maner, or
some other cyrcumstaunce belongyng to the same. (lvi recto-verso)
Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye: The Adverbes be woordes, which be not declined [...] and ioyne
themselves to Verbes to make that to be more clearly understanded, which those Verbes signi­
fie and to fulfill & accomplishe their signification, as the Adiectives are ioyned to Substan­
tives. (G v verso - G vi recto)
Bellot: Adverbes, are Wordes, ioined with the Verbe, to declare their signification. (P ii recto)

The adverb is such a diverse category that in most treatments the members
of the class are simply listed under semantic headings. Palsgrave, for example,
divides them into 24 categories of information one might ask about an action.
In his table of adverbs (the dictionary), he lists the words alphabetically under
twelve headings relating to interrogation. The grammarians mention the
derivation of adverbs of manner from adjectives (using -ment64) and compari­
son. Bellot is the only one to mention adverb placement, and his rule may be
too vague to be of much use: "The Adverbe comming in the sentence with the
Verbe, ought to be set in Construction next to the Verbe, either going before,
or comming after, as le ne vous peux bonnement recognoistre amy" (1588: R i
verso). The use of the adverb in relation to parts of speech other than the verb
is treated only indirectly, as seen above in Bellot's list of the functions of que
(p. 166). The most unusual point to be found in these descriptions is Ledoyen
de la Pichonnaye's expressed desire to excise, for religious reasons, the class
of adverbials 'for to doubt':

For to doubt, Paradventure, per adventure, Il peut bien estre, It may well be, Il se peut

Palsgrave is the only one to discuss the hesitation between forms in -emment and -ente-
ment, and he opts for the former (e.g., prudemment rather than prudentement; 1530: III
ccccxvii verso).

bien faire, it may well be done, il est possible, it is possible, il est bien possible, It is
very possible, d'aventure, by chaunce, par cas fortuit, perchaunce, comme fortune
voulut, as fortune woulde, it is very true, that as to me I allow not these kindes of
speaking, seeing that they smell more of Paynimes than the Christian speaches. And so
I would gladly advertise you by that way to leave this worde Fortune, which these olde
dreamers Paynimes and Idolatours have forged in their fonde braynes.
For we must use this woorde, Dieu, God, & have it alwayes in our mouth in all our
dooings, and affaires, seeing that all things are and do come by his divine providence,
without the which nothing can be. (1576: H i recto- verso)

Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye would thus extend the religious fervor of the 16th
century from the banning of books (the Index was begun in 1559) to the
banning of words.


Donatus: Pars orationis adnectens ordinansque sententiam. (388)

Palsgrave: Coniunctions be suche as serve to ioyne all the other partes of speche toguyder
one with another and to make one sentence to folowe upon another in a mater. (lviii verso)
Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye: Coniunctions are woordes, which serve for to ioyne and knit
togither other woordes as sentences. (H i verso)
Bellot: Coniunction is a part of Speache that ioyned words, and sentences together. (Q i

The classification of conjunctions is purely semantic, with Ledoyen de la

Pichonnaye providing 7 classes. Palsgrave 8, and Bellot 14. Earlier grammar­
ians simply list the members of the class (20 in Valence, 3 in Du Wes). Bellot
adds further that there are three 'orders' of conjunctions: prepositive (aussy,
mais), subjunctive (ne, ou), and common (doncques, adonc), presumably
based on the placement of the conjunction within the sentence (1588: Q 2
verso). (He does not elaborate.) Palsgrave notes one syntactic accident, the
change from subject to stressed forms of the personal pronouns in conjoined
subjects (e.g., luy et moy, toy ou eulx, ne moy ne elle).


Donatus: Pars orationis quae praeposita aliis partibus orationis significationem earum aut
complet aut mutat aut minuit. (389)
Palsgrave: Prepositions be suche as whan so ever they come in any sentence being dystinct
wordes by them selfe and nat compounde with other they suppose a substantyve or pronowne
to come after them in the same sentence wherunto they do belong. (liv verso)
Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye: The Prepositions are words that be put before other wordes, and
therefore they are so called.
172 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

Bellot: Prepositions are wordes undeclined, which bee commonly set before the other parts of
speach, when it is spoken of a Place, or of an Order, or when the cause, and reason of any
thing is given. (Q ii verso)

Palsgrave's formal definition again contrasts with the semantic terms

found in Bellot and Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye. His list of accidents conforms
to his interests in the other parts of speech: syntax ('Governyng' of the oblique
cases of pronownes'); morphology ('composition with dyvers partes of
speche, where they be kept hole and unchaunged'; 'confused composition with
these articles le and les); comparison with English ('Somtyme addyng,
somtyme leavyng awaye of this preposition de otherwyse than we do in our
tonge in the same sentences'). This last refers to the possessive structures,
where French still offered at Palsgrave's time the option of leaving out the
preposition, contrasting plus d'or with la robe mon maistre. Bellot and Ledoy­
en de la Pichonnaye, like the French grammarians of the second half of the
century (Padley 1988:477-478), place the contracted forms of preposition +
article among the prepositions. In Meigret this leads to a discussion of which
prepositions can govern a plural noun, which a singular; which a masculine,
which a feminine. Bellot and Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye do not pursue this.


Donatus: Pars orationis significans mentis affectum voce incondita. (366)

Palsgrave: Interiections be suche as serve to expresse the passyons and the affections of the
mynde. (lix recto)
Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye: Interiections be woordes that men cast, and set betweene or in
the middest of a matter, the affection of him that speaketh. (H iv verso)
Bellot: An Interiection is a part of speach, which betokeneth a sodaine passion of the minde,
under an imperfect voyce. (Q iii verso)

All three of the French grammarians divide the interjections into eleven
semantic categories. The only remark of interest is Palsgrave's claim that
French is especially rich in onomatopoeia:

Note also that there is no nacion that more useth to fayne wordes of imytacyon to
expresse the thynge whiche they wolde discribe than the frenche men do: as to ex­
presse the sounde of fyghtyng IfindPetif, petaf, clif, claf and to expresse the sounde of
a gorme shotte I finde Tip, tap,fip,fap [...] (1530: cccclxxiii verso)

Conclusions: Morphology and Syntax. The preferred method in the 16th

century to deal with the morphological complexity of French was simply to
provide lists, and those lists concentrated on the conjugation of the verb and

the declension of pronouns. Only four of the grammarians, Palsgrave, Ledoyen

de la Pichonnaye, Bellot, and Morlet follow the Latin model of definitions and
accidents. The difficulties of using Latin grammatical categories to describe
French structures to English speakers proved formidable, and only Palsgrave,
basing his work on the study of the authors rather than native intuitions, took
the liberty of adjusting the Latin model. His insistence on the primacy of
syntactic and paradigmatic rather than semantic and derivational categories,
and the rigor of his contrastive analysis of French and English allowed him to
avoid traps that others fell into, particularly when faced with single forms that
filled multiple functions. The method, analysis of the authors, comparison of
their usage, to determine the correct pattern, grew out of the early Humanist
tradition, the period when scholars were rediscovering the ancient classics,
establishing editions and establishing a corrected version of Latin. His analy­
sis differed from the tradition in emphasizing the sentence rather than the word
and therefore the verb rather than the noun. This approach was encouraged by
his work as a translator, and his belief in translation as a key to the advance­
ment of knowledge in Renaissance England. The result was a tremendous
reference grammar, but not one very well suited for the classroom. His rivals
and his successors were not slow to understand this, and even the most rigor­
ous among them does not include one-tenth the information found in Lesclar-
cissement. The time and the place were not right for a scholar's grammar of
French, and, as Renaissance Humanism was replaced by Elizabethan mercan­
tilism, the analysis of French in England fossilized at little more than the late
medieval corpus. The Lexicon

Lexical material in the Renaissance, as in the Middle Ages, came from

two distinct types of sources: dialogue collections that grew from the manières
de langage to Eliot's 'phantasticall' dramatic scenes; and dictionaries that
grew from classified word-lists of several hundred words to alphabetical and
sometimes indexed dictionaries of more than 20,000 words. This development
in both these traditions was due at least in part to the revival of classical learn­
ing that marked the Humanist period in England and France in the late 15th
and first half of the 16th centuries. The desire to teach a purer Latin, based on
ancient authors, inspired Juan Luis Vives and Mathurin Cordier (among oth­
ers) to compose new sets of dialogues (Massebieau 1878). These texts went
through numerous editions in the 16th century and serve as the model for
Hollyband, Meurier, and Eliot among the grammarians writing manuals of
French for an English audience. The word-lists that accompany Barcley, Du
Wes, and even Hollyband's manuals are based on the medieval nominalia, but
starting with Palsgrave and continuing under the influence of Robert Es-
tienne's French-Latin dictionaries, French-English lexicography reflected the
174 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

methods and the word inventories developed by the Humanists.

In the dialogue tradition, even apart from the Humanist influence, the
changes from medieval to Renaissance society affect the content and presenta­
tion of vocabulary in this manner. The reliance on French as an administrative
and as a trading language was diminishing; the loftier tone of some of the later
collections therefore mirrors the role of French as social affectation. Instead of
buying, selling and asking the way, the dialogues present disquisitions on
literature, the nature of the soul, the languages of the world. With these
changes, and the influence of the Latin dialogues such as those of Vives, the
role of the dialogues in instruction changes as well. In the medieval format,
and continuing in some of the 16th century works, the dialogue was a means
of presenting long lists of vocabulary in context. A dialogue on finding a good
meal would use a phrase like Ordennez que nous axons de bon poisson asses,
comme des... to introduce a list of 40 or 50 types of fish and other seafood
(Meyer 1873:393-394). While some substitution remains common in the 16th
century, the emphasis shifts from dialogue as lexical activity to dialogue as
classroom activity, dialogue as drama, and correspondingly the subject matter
and the style of the dialogue changes.
The first work on the French language printed in England was an English
translation of a 14th-century French-Flemish vocabulary, the Livre des Mesti­
ers. Although Caxton was the printer for the English version, Blake (1965)
offers internal and external evidence to suggest that he was not the actual
translator. The work may be almost evenly divided into two parts. In the first
are dialogues in the tradition of the manières de langage, dealing with the
purchase of foodstuffs, cloths, and finally listing the titles of various digni­
taries. In the second are presented shorter introductions to the technical vocab­
ulary of a number of trades. Each one opens with the name of a tradesman (or

David le lormier
Est ung bon ouvrier
De faire selles
Frains & esperons
Et ce qu'il y affiert.
Denis le fourbisseur
A de moy ung espee.
De tresbon taillant
Ung coutel a pointe
Ung espee
Quil me doibt fourbier
Damyan le armoyer
Me vendra unes plates
Ung bachinnet

Ung haubergon
Ung gorgiere
Gauns de fer
(Caxton 1480:31 (Oates-Harmer edition))

This work of 49 pages (in the Oates-Harmer edition) concludes with a lesson
on collecting debts, an excuse to present a list of numbers from one to a mil­
lion, and the equivalencies between Flemish and English currency. This is
essentially a more elaborate and better organized version of the medieval
commercial dialogues. The medieval tradition continues in A Very Necessarye
Boke (1550?), Du Ploiche (1553) who includes the basic medieval dialogues
(meals, buying and selling and asking the way) and in the works of Gabriel
Meurier, represented in England by A Plaine Pathway (1575).
Du Ploiche had obviously fled France for religious reasons, for in addition
to his dialogues his other contextualized materials are the catechism, the litany,
and a number of prayers. Unfortunately for him, shortly after the publication
of his litany, Catholicism was re-established in England by Mary and many
Protestants fled for Geneva. We have no record of Du Ploiche's movements
during this time; all we know is that a second edition ('newlie revised') of his
French grammar appeared in 1578. The copy of that edition in the Huntington
library is signed by the author and includes his handwritten comments in the
margin so we must assume that Du Ploiche was alive at that point. In the
second edition the order of presentation is changed, with the guide to pronun­
ciation preceding the religious parts. Verb morphology remains the last sec­
Meurier was born in Avesnes (Hainaut) in the first quarter of the 16th
century and there are no more mentions of him alive after 1587. He had estab­
lished himself as a schoolmaster in Anvers no later than 1548, for in that year
he joined the Confrérie de Saint-Amboise, of which he served as president on
several occasions, and from which he was unceremoniously ejected in 1579
for insulting his fellow guildsmen. His many publications include the first
grammar of English for French speakers, several collections of dialogues and
guides to verb conjugation (not only for French and Flemish but also for
Spanish and Italian), and a number of dictionaries, both French-Flemish and
Flemish-French. The only one of these works actually published in England
was the Plaine Pathway (1575).65 The dialogues are presented in 18 chapters

In the standard bibliographies this has been listed as anonymous (Lambley 1920:411;
Stengel-Niederehe 1890:179-180), but its close similarity to the Communications familieres...
(1563) is unmistakable. The contents are identical, with only an occasional change in spelling
and even rarer change in single words. It may be to some intervening version of this wo0k that
Hollyband refers when he warns his readers not to pay any attention to a new Flemish book:
176 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

(English and French in two columns) to which are added 14 model letters on
commercial topics (English and French on facing pages). Like Caxton 1480
this is aimed at merchants, and also like the first printed Vocabularie uses the
dialogue format as a shell in which to present long lists of useful vocabulary.
The sole exception to this practical approach is the 5th dialogue, in which
Socrates, Diogenes, Plato and Xanthippes meet for a lively dinner.
Parallel to this tradition, a new set of dialogues was being developed in
England. Du Wes includes a variety of contextualized lexical exercises, includ­
ing model letters, poems, and dialogues between himself and his star pupil,
Mary, daughter of Henry VIII. The letters tend to be practical, the poems
personal (speaking of his own illnesses), and the dialogues philosophical, e.g.,
"What it is of the soule in generall and speciali/ after Philosophy and saint
Isidore/ by way of a dialogue betwene the lady Mary/ & her servant Gyles"
(1532: Bb iv recto). Because he has presented word-lists elsewhere (divided
by part of speech) and because of the nature of his teaching situation (tutoring
the king's daughter), Du Wes could model his dialogues on the Platonic dia­
logues, using the question-and-answer format to delve at the truth of abstract
problems. Du Wes is no Plato, but he is no Meurier either. ffis dialogues are as
much an exercise in rational thought as in French.
Hollyband, although closer to Meurier's practicality than to Du Wes'
philosophizing, does not provide such extensive lists of vocabulary within the
dialogues. There are two reasons for this: first, he includes a list of about 2000
words elsewhere in the same volume; second, he intended for the dialogue
collection to be used in conjunction with his dictionary (about 17000 entries).
Therefore he could concentrate on producing entertaining dialogues, without
burdening them with excessive variants. Where such lists appear, they are
certainly more interesting:


I wíl say nothyng of a new booke which came out of Anworpe, and now of late printed
at London: because that keepinge no measure or reason whether it bee in speeche,
phrase, orthographie, in waye of communication amonge men of callyng: and whylste
that hee useth his Rhetoricke in his chirpyng, hee sheweth of what soyle hee is spronge
out: for if our Carters of Orleans, Bourges, or of Bloys, had heard the authour chirpe,
they woulde sende him backe to prattell amonge his layes, havynge layde fiftie stripes
of their whippe upon his ridge... Let him teache therefore his faire language unto the
Flemminges, followinge their phrase: the Bourgonions, and those which do dwell in
Heinaw... (1573: A v verso - A vi verso)

craché sur mon papier

deschiré mon livre
effacé mon thème
Guillaume a rompu ma ceinture
petillé, foulé mon chappeau soubz les pieds
gasté mon exemple
parlé anglois (Hollyband 1576: C iiii recto)

Classroom discipline is an eternal challenge.

The dramatic and philosophical trends witnessed in Hollyband and Du
Wes are exploited to the fullest by Eliot (1593). Somewhere in his travels 66 ,
Eliot had come across Rabelais' works, and he infused the dialogues of Vives
with the comic spirit of Rabelais, producing a set of free-spirited dialogues
such as we are never likely to see in a teaching text again. The work is divided
into three books, the first of which is comprised of three long dialogues, 'The
Scholier', 'The Tongues', and 'The Traveller'. 'The Scholier' presents, in
dialogue form, Eliot's theory of language education. 'The Tongues' describes
the major languages of his world and the principle authors in each. 'The
Voyager' is a travelers guide to Western Europe. The second book of the
Ortho-Epia Gallica has 12 shorter dialogues, six of which are provided in full
phonetic transcription. The third book has twenty dialogues to speak with
tradesmen, and thus would appear to be like Caxton's second section. In these
dialogues one learns to speak to a debtor, a thief, a syphilitic, a bragger, as
well as a few legitimate professions. These dialogues are worthy of stage
performance, nothing like the dialogized word-lists of the Middle Ages.
The word-lists themselves grow quickly from nominalia to dictionaries.
Barcley attaches short alphabetical lists of nouns, adjectives, verbs and inde­
clinables. Du Wes has a classified word-list of nouns, another of adverbs, and
an alphabetical list of verbs. Hollyband, as mentioned above, has a list of
approximately 2000 nouns (organized by subject) in both the Frenehe Littelton
and the French Schoolemaister.
The dictionaries change not only by the number of their entries, but also

We know very little about Eliot's life. Lambley (1920:178) identifies him with the John
Eliot born in Warwickshire (1562) who attended Oxford (Brasenose) around 1580. If he had,
it seems strange that he would not mention that college when he lists the colleges of Oxford
(1593:54). There is also a John Eliot who attended Cambridge (St. John's) in the late 1560s.
That college is listed when he speaks of the colleges of Cambridge. He also mentions some
geographical detail about Cambridge on p. 136. If the dialogues can be trusted to contain
autobiographical detail, we learn that Eliot "was brought up three years together in the college
of Montagu [Paris]. I have also bene scholemaister at Orleans in the College of Affricans,
and lived ten months at Lyons" (1593:40).
178 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

by the source of those entries, the amount of information (morphological and

semantic) included in each entry, and the ease of access. The appearance of
Robert Estienne's French-Latin dictionaries transformed lexicography across
the West. In 1531 Estienne produced his Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, a Latin-
Latin dictionary which he viewed as an exercise in cleansing the Latin vocabu­
lary of medieval barbarisms. Replacing such medieval word-lists as John
Balbus' Catholicon (14th c ) , the Promptorium parvulorum (ca 1440; first
printed edition 1499) and the Medulla grammatice (ca 1460) and the (H)ortus
vocabulorum (ca 1430; first printed edition 1500) corrupted by years of
accommodations to medieval usage67, this work was based on approved classi­
cal authors, who were abundantly cited. In his Dictionarie (1538; later editions
sometimes known as Bibliotheca Eliotae), Thomas Elyot performed the same
service for English-Latin lexicography. Both Estienne and Elyot's contribu­
tions became the foundation for French-English lexicography in the second
half of the 16th century. In 1538 Estienne produced a Latin-French dictionary
and the following year his first edition of the French-Latin dictionary. The
1539 edition was followed by the 1549 edition, much enlarged and improved.
At the same time he set out to write a dictionary more aimed at helping learn­
ers, the Dictionariolum puerorum (first ed. 1544), which was the first of his
dictionaries to have a direct impact on the French and English tradition
(through Veron, see below, pp. 178-179). From this point on English diction­
aries derived from the medieval tradition were devalued, and the source of
French-English lexicography became the matching of French and English
equivalents to Latin headwords. The basic word-list for both languages de­
pends thus not on contemporary vernacular usage, but on the words needed to
translate classical Latin usage. Just as in the alphabet and the grammatical
system, French will be presented to English through Latin.
The most important exception to this trend is the first major Renaissance
dictionary, included in the 3rd book of Palsgrave's Lesclarcissement (1530).
The non-literary sources for Palsgrave's dictionary have yet to be fully deter­
mined (for the literary sources see above, pp. 119-120). That there was some
English source (or sources) aside from the two figures from English literature
that he cites (Lydgate and Chaucer) is evident from the English headwords for
which he provides no French equivalent (e.g., ospringe a byrde, naturali
colour, I multe). Furthermore it is clear that much of the vocabulary he
presents is based on personal experience and not the culling of literary sources

For the history of these late medieval dictionaries in England see S tames 1954 and Stein
1985. The Catholicon was specifically adapted for English use in the Catholicon Anglicum
(1483). The Medulla and the Ortus are Latin-English, the Catholicon and the Promptorium
English-Latin. The two printed works (the Ortus and the Promptorium) were often bound
together to provide access in both directions (Stein 1985:121).

(e.g., references to gambling and sexuality).

Palsgrave's example was not followed, and although Higgins and Cot-
grave list him as a source, his influence on lexicography was limited by the
small size of his press run and later problems with distribution (to which he
contributed). In the second half of the century Estienne is much more impor­
tant. Estienne's work first entered the English-French lexicographical tradition
through Jean Veron's adaptation of his Dictionariolum puerorum. Veron had
come to England in the 1530s and served as tutor to the children of William
Morris. He was well-known as a preacher in the Anglican Church (Lambley
1920:122). In general Veron simply adds an English translation of Estienne's
French, but Stein (1985:172-175) notes a number of instances in which he has
significantly altered the original. He frequently omits reference to dialectal
variation, for example, and adds encyclopedic information where necessary (as
in the monetary system, for example).
Later French-English lexicographers rely more on Estienne's French-
Latin dictionaries of 1539 and 1549. The earlier edition is the source of the
French word-list of the Dictionarie French and English (1570), while the latter
is the source of Hollyband's Treasurie of the French tong (1580). 68 The
Treasurie thus adds about 7000 entries to the Dictionarie (but at approximate­
ly 17500 entries, it still does not match Palsgrave's estimated 23000). Estienne
is also the major source for the French word-list in  aret's two editions of the
Alvearie (1573 and 1580), but here the issue is more complex. Estienne (1549)
is definitely the source of the index to French words that Baret supplies, but
other French words, not listed in the index, have been taken from Huloet-
Higgins 1572 and Estienne-Veron 1552. Baret thanks Thomas Chaloner and
'M. Claudius' (probably Hollyband) for their help in the preparation of the
French portion of this quadrilingual dictionary. John Higgins, revising Hulo-
et's Abecedarium Anglico-Latinum (1552) which Higgins found contaminated
with medieval Latin, used both Estienne and Palsgrave as sources for revision
and expansion, thus arriving at a total of approximately 23000 entries. Higgins
also revised Hadrianus Junius' Nomenclator, or Remembrancer (1585), a
shorter work (approximately 7800 articles) organized by subject matter into 89
chapters. The last major dictionary of the period is Hollyband's Dictionarie
French and English (1593), in which he adds about 3000 entries to the Treas­
urie of 1580, for a total of 20500. Many of these additions seem to be original,
as in the religious terms cited above (p. 132) and the terms from his native

There is some speculation that Hollyband was also the author of the 1570 Dictionarie.
Estienne's dictionaries were never published in England; it may be the case that they reached
England through the medium of Gabriel Meurier's Vocabulaire François-Flameng (Anvers:
Plantin, 1557) and Dictionaire François-Flameng (Anvers: Iean van Waesberghe, 1574).
180 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

Bourbonnais dialect.
The second area of change is the amount of morphological and syntactic
information included. The medieval French-English word-lists and their suc­
cessors in the Renaissance rarely include any more morphological information
than the gender of nouns. In the Renaissance Palsgrave makes several impor­
tant innovations, most of which unfortunately are not continued in his immedi­
ate successors. First, he not only notes the gender of nouns but also shows the
formation of the plural. For adjectives he provides both gender and number
variation. He adds syntactic information to the morphological variations of the
verb by providing sentence-length examples of most verbs, and occasionally
noting by Latin case name the type of complement the verb can take. To help
students with verbal morphology he usually cites the conjugation of the more
regular verbs (-er verbs listed as first conjugation, -ir listed as second conjuga­
tion). Third conjugation verbs (-re) are considered irregular, and for them and
other irregular verbs he supplies a number of forms to indicate the conjuga-
tional scheme:

I Baake a pastye or any suche lyke thynge/// cuis, nous cuisons, vous cuisez, ilz cui­
sent, ie cuysis, iay cuyt, ie cuyray, que ie cuyse, que ie cuysisse, cuys, cuyre. This
pastye of pygions is nat baken ynoughe: Ce pasté de pigons nest pas assez cuit. (1530:
III clvi verso)

Even in the invariable parts of speech he often adds full-sentence examples.

The lexicographers basing themselves on the Estienne tradition offer
much less syntactic and morphological information. In the case of the multi­
lingual dictionaries usually no indications of morphological variation are
included. Among the dictionaries of the second half of the century, only
Hollyband 1593 furnishes the gender of nouns and occasional lists of 'princi­
ple parts' of a verb. For 10 words (out of 23000!) he mentions a pronunciation
feature (e.g., "Saoul, but pronounce Sou, full, drunke, strout"; see Stein 1985:
260-261 for the full list).
The final area of change between the medieval word-lists and the Renais­
sance dictionaries is the overall organization of the dictionary and the ease with
which the dictionary can be used as a reference source. The medieval tradition
of subject access is continued only in Higgins-Junius (1585). In the first part
of the century there is a tendency toward alphabetical listing of the words by
part of speech. This is found in Barcley, Du Wes 69 , and most consistently in
Palsgrave. In the second half of the century all the entries are listed in one

Du Wes lists the noun by subject matter, the verbs alphabetically, prepositions, conjunc­
tions, and adverbs seemingly at random.

alphabetical grouping (although alphabetical order is not always accurately

followed). Finding the French-English equivalent in the multilingual works is
not always easy. Baret devised the most efficient plan, numbering all his en­
tries and providing an index of French words with reference to the number of
the entry (e.g., " 265). The use of special symbols and page headers to show
the first two letters of the first word on the page are other innovations that
make his work easier to use. Hollyband 1593 also uses page headers - actually
column headers - to help the reader find his place (e.g., "E ante X).
Lexical information comes essentially in two forms for the student of
French in the 16th century - the contextualized dialogues and the alphabetized
word-lists. Both are strongly influenced in their content by the work of
Humanists in the first half of the century. In the case of the dialogues, this
results in more dramatic and more enjoyable but perhaps slightly less complete
presentation of useful vocabulary. In the case of the dictionaries, Humanist
interest in translating from the Latin into the vernacular led to the creation of
French-English word-lists based on the words necessary to translate classical
Latin. Only in Palsgrave early in the century, and then re-emerging in Holly-
band's last work do we find the description of vocabulary of French on its own
terms rather through the medium of Latin.

6.3.3 Teaching Method

All of the grammarians who composed these grammars were sure they
had invented a system that would lead the student in a remarkably short time
to a perfect knowledge of French. The variety of their grammars, however,
makes it clear that they had different conceptions of how to attain that goal.
The primary source of debate was the role of rules in language instruction, but
whatever their attitude toward rules they all seemed to believe in translation as
an essential part of the learning process.
The grammarians who devoted the majority of their works to dialogues
and verb conjugations, that is to say, the grammarians who were more interest­
ed in French for commercial purposes, thought rules a useless burden. Practice
was the thing. Thus Hollyband changed the order of presentation of his manual
between the Schoolemaister and the Littelton: in the first the few rules he has
are placed first; in the second the dialogues are first, the rules available for
consulatation but not a prerequisite to speaking French. Du Wes, although not
teaching French for commercial purposes, also favored a rule-less approach,
and even took this one step further: for him rules of French are impossible.

I'ay fait mon povoir et debvoir de perscruter et cercher tout ce qui ma semblé a ce
propos servir: Si nay ie toutesvois peu trouver regles infalibles (pour ce que il nest
possible de telles les trouver) cest a dire telles qui puissent servir infalliblement corne
font les regles composeez pour apprendre Latin/ Grec/ et Hebrieu et aultres telz lan-
182 PERIODV(1470-1600)

gages [...] (1532: A iii verso)

Valence advises finding a good book to serve as an example and dispensing

with rules:

G. aucunesfois se pronunce par I/ comme burgois. bourgoisse. gregois. Quelque chose

quil y ait/ Ie conseille que on ensuive quelque bon auteur/ sans bailler ou faire tant de
rigles/ qui ne font que troubler et gaster lentendement des gentz. (1528: C i recto)

How one is going to learn how to pronounce g correctly from reading an

approved author is not certain, but the same idea motivates those who omit
rules in favor of practice in the second half of the century. Thus, in A Plaine
Pathway the author apologizes for the few rules he includes, all the while
insisting on the greater utility of practice:

The maner to reade and pronounce the French is difficult: for it is written for the most
part otherwise then it is pronounced: and is learned more by use then by rules. Never-
theles, a man may wel learne these fewe rules: which although they be not altogether
perfect, certain, or sure, yet with the helpe of a good teacher, they shal be good to all
men, learned and unlearned, Gentilmen, Merchauntes, and all others: and chefely to
those that already knowe the Italian and Spanishe tongue. (1575: A iii recto)

On the other side of the argument we find not only the grammarians who
prepared full descriptions of French, but also Eliot, who offers not a single rule
in his dialogue collection and seems to be specifically avoiding rules of pro­
nunciation through the use of phonetic transcription.70 He states that "hee who
will teach well, must marry Art with Nature". By Nature he means the vocabu­
lary of the language, and by Art "the preceptes and rules of Grammar, and the
authoritie of learned men" (1593:6). The method of Art and Nature is not
appropriate for the beginner, but only for the student who has already mastered
the basics and has even advanced to the translation of "Dialogues, Commedies
and Prose" (1593:8).
De la Mothe is another one who approves of learning through the mastery
of rules, even though he provides few himself.

— I know some English ladies, some Gentlemen, and Gentlewoman, that never went
out of England, and yet without comparison they speake much better than some others
that I know, which have bin in France the space of three or foure yeares.

Eliot claims that he will supply more detail in another book, to be entitled De Natura &
Arte linguae Gallicae (1593: B ii recto). As far as we know, this book was never published.

— That is strange.
— Do not marvell at. For the most part of those that go into France do learne by rote,
without rules, and without art, so that it is impossible for them to learne, but with a
very great space of time.

Bellot compares those w h o would learn a language without learning rules to

parrots, w h o will be unable to use the language creatively to express them­

There bee some holding this opinion, that the most expedient, & certaine way to at-
taine to the knowledge of tongues is to learne them without any observation of rules:
But cleane the contrary I doe thinke that he which is instructed in any tongue what so
ever by the onely roate, is like unto the Byrd in a cage, which speaketh nothing but that
which is taught unto him, and (which is much worse) not understanding that which he
sayth, because he is voyde of all foundation of good and certaine doctrine: and these
Instructors without rules, may be well compared to those builders, which (looking not
to the profit of them which doe set them to worke, but to their own lucre, & peculiar
profit) doe plant their buildinges, not upon the stable and assured ground, but upon the
movable and insolide sand [...] (1588: "The Epistle Dedicatorie")

Palsgrave, the most prolific rule-writer of them all, sees in the rules the affir­
mation of the mystical properties of French, its congruity with the "Ternarius
Numerus" (1530: "The Introduction of the Authour", B i recto). The exquisite
detail of his rules, moreover, will permit the learner to master the language
without the help of a master.
Whatever the attitude toward rules, all who touch on the subject are in
agreement concerning the utility of translation, and in this the uniformity of
practice is remarkable. Translation, as we have seen, was a much more presti­
gious activity in the 16th century, and double translation is the preferred
method to perfect one's knowledge of a foreign language (and already so
recognized in Cicero's De Oratore). Here Eliot gives his description of the

It followeth then next, that I set downe the Reader a good course to take some fruit of
this my booke, which if he will learne, he must get the true meaning of the French,
conferring it word for word with the English, and then when he hath so conferred it
that in reading he doth understand the French well, let him begin after one months
progress a little and a little to lay his hand on the French to hide it, and-looking only on
the English, trie with him selfe how swiftly he is able to Frenchifie the English, and if
he misse, let him revise and correct himselfe still by his booke, till he be perfect and
get some habit of the tongue that way. This I have learned by long experience to be the
readiest way to attaine the knowledge of any language, for that we of Englishmen
184 PERIOD V (1470-1600)

make French, and not of French learn English. (Eliot 1593:B ii recto)

De la Mothe and Hollyband concur, as did Ascham in his Scholemaster

(1570), one of the most influential books on pedagogy in this period. For
Ascham it was the first step (of six) on the road to eloquence (the others being
'imitatio', 'paraphrasis', 'metaphrasis', 'epitome', and 'declamado'; Miller
1963:164). Where we tend to see translation as an activity reserved for the
more advanced student as the culmination of studies, in Renaissance education
it was among the first exercises. Ascham used this method in training Eliza­
beth I, and her skill in languages was widely recognized. A stronger endorse­
ment was not possible in the second half of the 16th century.
The central position of translation in the educational program transformed
the instructional materials in several ways. First, it meant that the linguists
were not seeking to discover the inherent system of one language, but rather
the points of conflict between two languages. This placed more emphasis on
problems of identical forms - pronouns, verb conjugations, etc. - for the
grammarians had to specify combinations of contexts and meaning for forms
with multiple values (as in Bellot's description of que, above, p. 166). Syntax,
or 'construction', often turned into lists of possible interpretations of ambigu­
ous forms.
The second major effect of the emphasis on translation was the high value
placed on lexical rather than syntactic or even morphological development. In
the medieval works, the orthographic treatises and Bibbesworth, for example,
the distinction of homonyms or near-homonyms was of great importance. In
the Renaissance grammars the morphological and syntactic areas emphasized
the distinction of homophonous function words rather than homophonous
lexical items. In those lexical items, the interest passed from homonyms to
synonyms, as translation and the pursuit of eloquence grew in status.71 In the
English-Latin tradition this development is first seen in the Catholicon Angli-
cum (1483; Stein 1985:113-114) The morphological part of the grammar,
devoted to verb conjugations, the declension of pronouns, and the formation of
plurals of nouns is essentially the same as the medieval commentaries. The
additions of the 16th-century grammarians are solutions to translational prob­
lems. The lexical portion has been transformed not only in size (from at most a
thousand or two items to more than 20000), but also in ease of access, and in
the addition of more contextual information to aid in the selection of the cor­
rect translational equivalent.

The medieval works did occasionally include lists of translational equivalents, as seen
above (p. 54) in the equivalents of the English word 'red' and 'breke', but far more frequent
were the distinction of homonyms or near-homonyms (e.g., livre, lièvre, lèvre).

Translation, one of the primary duties of the Renaissance Humanist, thus

influenced the nature of instrucnon, the goal of instruction, and the nature of
the teaching materials. As eloquence in all languages came to be prized, the
emphasis on the right word, and the ability to vary wording, became more
important than the mastery of the medieval formulae. The conjunction of this
interest in lexical development with the technological breakthrough of printing
changed the nature of language instruction and instructional materials.

6.4 Conclusions: Period V

The study of French in England was not so much a practical requirement

as a social requirement in the 16th century. The language of administration had
changed; the language of the laws was changing; even the language of com­
merce was not necessarily French, as Italian and Spanish influence in Northern
Europe expanded. Nonetheless, French retained a prestige value that inspired
many young Englishmen to learn at least a little French. The demand was all
the greater as the upwardly mobile sought to acquire a noble polish through
language study. To meet this demand the methods of Humanism, applied for
the most part by Protestant victims of the Counter-Reformation, through the
new medium of Printing, established the groundwork for the grammatical
description of French.


[...] l'enseignement d'une langue n'est pas seulement un sujet intéressant pour l'his­
torien ou le sociologue de l'enseignement, ou pour l'historien de la grammaire: c'est
aussi un problème central pour l'historien des cultures, qui y trouve des informations
cruciales sur les attitudes linguistiques et sur les contacts entre cultures. Cette
production didactique, souvent rejetée comme non scientifique, est une manifestation
directe du savoir d'une époque, s'étendant entre les codes fondamentaux d'une cul­
ture et le domaine de la science. (Swiggers 1990a:36)

The study, practical or theoretical, of a language, native or second, cannot

be divorced from the cultural context in which that study takes place. Fur­
thermore, the nature of that study, down to the very language used to express
it, is further evidence of the complex relationship between language, language
study, and the central currents of intellectual discourse of any period.
That the French language was the object of study in England in the
Middle Ages and Renaissance is the result of political, social, commercial and
technological conditions which in turn determined the way in which French
would be studied. Norman influence before and after the Conquest was limit­
ed consciously in an attempt to maintain an air of legitimacy. In Period I
therefore we have no evidence that French was the object of formal instruction
to anyone. On the contrary, William tried to learn English. With Henry II and
the angevine empire came a new wave of French immigration, and the crown­
ing period of Anglo-French literature. Still, Latin was the language of record
in Period II, and there is still no evidence that French was formally taught: no
textbooks, no student copies, no mention in literature or chronicle of such
Period  , starting almost two centuries after the Conquest, is decisive for
the fate of French in England, and for the nature of the instructional materials
that were to develop. This is the time when French became the language of
English legal record, and increasingly the language of administration in a

progressively more centralized government. At the same time, technological

and economic developments encouraged the use of paper over wax tablets as
the method of taking notes, and written record took the place of oral witness in
the legal system. Commercial ties with the Flanders (under a French-speaking
count) and with Gascony furthered the interest in French among a broader
portion of the English population. At this time, reflection on French and
instruction in French began. In its initial stages French may not have been an
entirely foreign language to its students, but it was further from that status than
it would be at any subsequent time. Knowledge of French was required for
participation in the most important aspects of government. French was the
vernacular language of culture all over Europe, but its cultural appeal did not
lead to adoption as an official language in Germany or Italy. In Period III, the
impetus for the study of French in England was not primarily cultural but prac­
tical. This is reflected by the order of appearance of the teaching materials.
First came the vocabularies, vocabularies not based on famous authors but on
everyday needs. Interspersed in these vocabularies are some hints of grammar
- pronominal declension and the identification of gender in nouns. The latter
has always posed a particular problem for the English speaker, so its inclusion
as one of two grammatical facts demonstrates not only the fact that the learners
were native speakers of English but also that French was being taught inde­
pendently of Latin (where the importance of gender would already be under­
stood). In the study of the lexical items we observe, in addition to the practi­
cal nature of the vocabulary, but also the frequent distinction of homonyms,
with somewhat less frequent distinction of synonyms. Homonyms are impor­
tant because they present the different graphic representations of identical or
similar phonetic realizations, and thus an emphasis on the oral nature of the
language and the instruction; the student is learning through a process of dicta­
tion the skills that are part of secretarial use of language: copying down the
words of those speaking (in private correspondence, in court of law, or in
administrative record). Synonyms are important because they confirm the
direction of instruction: all the synonyms are in fact translational equivalents
of a single English word (e.g., 'red', or 'break'). Therefore, the language of
the student and of the teacher must be English. These same grammatical and
lexical facts are inserted in the orthographic treatises which appear at about the
same time, confirming the interaction between these two types of texts. The
orthographic treatises further demonstrate the interest in correct presentation of
official documents. The elaboration of instructional materials in French is thus
directly or indirectly tied to technology (replacement of temporary wax re­
cords by more permanent paper records); to politics (the creation of a more
centralized administrative and judicial system dependent on written record); to
the structure of society (that French rather than English became the vernacular
language of written record depends on the use of French as a native language
in the highest levels of the aristocracy); to commerce (the interest in certain

dialects of continental French - Picard, Walloon, Gascon as well as françois -

rather than insular French); and to culture (French was assuming the role of
vernacular language of culture throughout Europe). This peculiar combination
of circumstances helps to explain why orthographic and lexical treatises
preceded dialogues and grammars (dictation as a means of learning as well as
the goal of learning; correctness of official records).
As Period III progressed, and through Period IV, commerce with French-
speaking people in Flanders, Anjou, and Aquitaine, as well as war-time con­
tact between French and English populations encouraged oral production in
addition to written notation of French. In this period were produced the dia­
logue collections of French and finally, only at the time when French was
losing its grip on administrative function, a grammar of French (Barton's
Donait françois). French became the object of serious reflection, of detailed
description according to the Latin model, only when the main function of
French in English society had been reduced to a social one. At this point Law
French had become its own language, for which the study of continental
French had no relevance. That legal language depended primarily on the
mastery of verbal morphology, pronominal declension, and a number of legal
and epistolary formulae. Commercial French called for similar morphological
knowledge combined with a different vocabulary, one that emphasized more
give-and-take, a vocabulary presented in the dialogues. In all other official
functions where the vernacular was used, English replaced French. Outside of
legal and commercial circles, therefore, French was more a social and intellec­
tual exercise than a practical one.
The combination of these factors, plus the technological breakthrough of
printing and the Renaissance interest in translation, led to an ever sharper
division of French grammatical traditions during Period V. Instructional
materials intended for commercial purposes consisted primarily of dialogues
and pronunciation rules. Those inspired by social and intellectual concerns
followed a Latin model of definitions and accidents, with translation both the
primary means and the goal of instruction. By the end of Period V the meth­
ods and the materials for the teaching of French to English speakers had been
fixed. Subsequent changes were to be more a matter of detail than of method.
We come back to the questions asked at the beginning of this book: Who
will learn French? For what purposes will they learn French? What French
will they learn, and how will they learn it? This historical summary demon­
strates how complex the factors are in the elaboration of a grammar. The
dialect of the language selected for description, the facts selected for emphasis,
the order of presentation for those facts - all these and more depend on the
interaction of cultural, political, economic, and social influences with the exist­
ing grammatical tradition. This is no less true today than in the Middle Ages
and Renaissance. The form, the metaphors, the metalanguage chosen for lin­
guistic description reflect a sometimes conscious, sometimes unconscious

attitude towards the languages studied and towards the understanding of what
constitutes "science".
The modern description of linguistics as a science, particularly as an
"autonomous" science, is misleading to the extent that it invites comparisons
to a false image of natural sciences, an image in which such cultural factors are
theoretically not an issue. No linguistic theory can escape these influences.
The study of the history of linguistic thought provides us with a perspective on
contemporary linguistic thought, and a model for understanding the interaction
between developments in linguistics, theoretical and applied, and these broad­
er concerns. Only by recognizing these factors can we understand the struc­
ture of linguistic theory and its place in scientific discourse. Only with this
understanding can linguistics claim to be a science.

Barcley, Alexander (14757-1552). Barcley, probably of Scottish origin, is best known as the
poet of the Ship of Fooles and the Eclogues. Before taking holy orders he apparently traveled
widely abroad, and he took advantage of these trips to acquaint himself with continental
Humanism and to learn French and German among other modern vernaculars. Upon his
return to England he was ordained priest and appointed to the college of Ottery St. Mary
(Devonshire). There in 1506 he completed a translation from the French of Gringore's Le
Château de Labeur (1499; Barcley's title:'The Castell of Laboure') and in 1508 the Ship of
Fooles (translated from Sebastian Brant's Narrenschiff (1494)). Sometime after 1511 he left
Ottery St. Mary for Ely; in his Myrrour of Good Manners (translated from the Latin De
quatuor virtutibus, 1516) he identifies himself as 'monke of Ely'. He gained aristocratic
patronage in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII, and was awarded a series of vicarages,
finishing with his appointment, a few weeks before his death, to the rectory of All Hallows,
Lombard Street, in London.
His grammar, roundly attacked by Palsgrave, is only 27 pages long, and is presented in a
rather confusing sequence. He goes straight from his introduction to a description of the
declension of pronouns. After a paragraph on pronouns, he devotes 5 pages to verb conjuga­
tions {avoir, être, vouloir, aller, venir, devoir, faire, aimer, enseigner, lire, ouïr), with English
translations for each form given. From conjugations he shifts abruptly to the pronunciation
of the letters of the alphabet, and their classification. He then describes the possible sounds
represented by the letters a and b, before again making a sharp transition to a discussion of
number and gender. There follows a list of nouns beginning with A and B, and then a contin­
uation of the description of the sounds represented by letters: b, c, e, g, h, i, k, I, n, p, q, r, s,
ss, t, u, x, y, z. After a rule describing elision of vowels, he recommences the word-lists:
nouns beginning with D,E,F,G,H,L,M, adjectives beginning with D,E,F,G; nouns begin­
ning with M, N, 0, P, R, S, T, V,; adjectives beginning with A, B, C; nouns beginning with D;
adjectives beginning with G, H, I, L, M, N, 0, P, R, S, T, U; verbs in alphabetical order
without interruption; undeclined parts of speech in alphabetical order. After these alphabeti­
cal word-lists he adds the numbers, days of the week, months of the year, seasons and feast
days, the farmer's yearly schedule, a list of fish, a list of cognate words with English, and
finally a short treatise on dancing. The abrupt transitions, inconsistent organizational princi­
ples, and minimal information even in comparison with the medieval collections all help
explain Palsgrave's low opinion of this work.

Baret, John. (d. 1580?). We know little about Baret's life, aside from what he tells us in the
introduction to the Alvearie. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking the degrees of
B.A. (1554-1555) and M. A. (1558). In the introduction he speaks of taking in pupils "studi­
ous of the Latin tongue" while in Cambridge, and engaging them in a lexicographical project
to supplement Sir Thomas Elyot's Latin-English dictionary (1st ed. 1538). Later he was
encouraged to publish his dictionary, and he set about organizing and improving upon the
notes made by his students. At this time he was apparently well known about the Inns of
Court, for that is where he went to enlist the services of the best of his former students. At the
same time he was asked to correct Huloet's dictionary (1st ed. 1552), a job he turned down.
(John Higgins was to accept the challenge.) Baret added French to the dictionary with the
help of Sir Thomas Chaloner (the Elder) and 'M. Claudius', widely assumed to be Claudius

Baret's dictionaries, the Alvearie or Triple Dictionarie (1573) and the Alvearie, or
Quadruple Dictionarie (1580), enjoyed more commercial success than Higgins' revision of
Huloet, and at least part of this must be attributed to the efforts Baret expended to make the
dictionary more accessible. All pages have a heading marking the position in the alphabet
(e.g., L ante A) and each of the entries is numbered. The numbering system is related to the
Latin and French indexes, and thus makes this English-Latin-French (and to a lesser extent
Greek) dictionary into a Latin-English and a French-English dictionary as well. In separate
indexes, the French and Latin words are listed in alphabetical order, with the number of the
entry in which they may be found noted. The system is not fool-proof, for the French list was
taken directly from the French-Latin dictionaries of Robert Estienne (1539 and 1549). Other
French words added by Baret or his two sub-editors for French (Chaloner and 'Claudius') are
not noted in the index. Other innovations by Baret were the use of larger font bold-face in
combination with the ¶ sign for headwords, the use of special symbols to highlight proverbs,
and an as yet unexplained use of the asterisk. (The asterisk was used by Higgins to note
obsolete words.) Baret's primary contribution to the lexicographical tradition was to set a
new standard for accessibility through his exploitation of the advantages of printing.

Barton, John (fl. 1410). Barton, the patron of the Donait françois (1409), may be the same
as 'plain John Barton, the physician', the author of the Confutatio hollardorum. In the intro­
duction to the Donait françois he states that he was born in the county of Chester and studied
in Paris.
The Donait françois is the first attempt to describe French in the Latin model. Written
in the dialogue format of the Ars minor of its namesake, Aelius Donatus, it opens with the
definition and description of the letters of the alphabet, followed by six pronunciation rules
describing contexts in which letters are not pronounced, or are pronounced differently from
their base value. The second chapter of this 10-page work is devoted to a general discussion
of the accidents: species, figure, number, person, gender, quality (common vs. proper in
nouns), case, comparison, mood, tense, voice. After this he presents the parts of speech, first
listing and dividing them into two broad morphological categories (variable and invariable),
and then discussing nouns (substantives and adjectives), pronouns, and verbs. Some modern
scholars have seen in its logical vocabulary and the format of presenting the accidents before
the parts of speech the influence of the modistic grammarians. Just as prominent though are
some practical elements, such as the emphasis on dialogue, not just as a pedagogical tech­
nique but also as a determining factor for what information will be included in the grammar
(how to form questions and how to answer them). Another practical feature is the presence of
trade vocabulary, such as the words for different coins which he uses as examples. It was
probably put to practical use in the schools like those of Sampson and Kingsmill, for it is
found in a manuscript with forms of official letters (in Latin), forms of French petitions, let­
ters in French, a collection of dialogues, some word-lists, an orthographic treatise, and a trea­
tise on the conjugation of French verbs (see Martin 1882). Whatever the intellectual origins
of the order of presentation and some of the grammatical vocabulary, this was used in the
training of clerks.

Bellot, Jacques (fl. 1580-1590). Bellot describes himself as a gentleman, native of Caen. He
came to England in 1577 or 1578, and settled in the household of Sir Philip Wharton. He
immediately set to writing The French Grammar which appeared in 1578. In the next few
years he joined the group of French teachers at St. Paul's Churchyard, where he met Holly-
band. In the returns of aliens he describes himself as a schoolmaster. In 1580 he produced for
François de Valois, Duc d'Alençon and brother of Henri III, a grammar of English, the Mais-

ire d'Escole Anglois. At the time the Duke was being considered as a marriage partner for
Elizabeth. The following year Bellot wrote Le jardin de Vertu et bonnes moeurs, a collection
of wisdom in the manner of Hollyband's 'golden sayings'. In 1586 he composed a set of
dialogues to teach English to French speakers, and in 1588 he revised the grammar of French
he had written upon his arrival in England, giving the new version the title The French
Method. The last work of his that we know is a translation of an Old French treatise on estate
management, The Booke of Thrift, published in 1589.
The two French grammars have identical formats, but not identical contents. In both an
introductory book on pronunciation, including many attempts at articulatory description, is
followed by a formal grammar, in which the parts of speech are defined and their accidents
described. The third part, 'Construction', concentrates on problems of translation between
French and English. The fourth and final part explains French versification. In the second
edition he includes less information on articulatory phonetics, and more on problems in trans­
lation. Bellot's elevated tone, perhaps a reflection of his noble birth, can be seen in his more
formal, latinate approach to French grammar, in his inclusion of a section on poetics, and in
several comments he makes about sociolinguistic variation in French.

Bibbesworth, Walter de (d. ca. 1280?). A native of Kimpton, Hertfordshire, Bibbesworth

served the king in Gascony from 1250 to 1254 and took part in the future Edward I's expedi­
tion to the Holy Land in 1270. Besides the vocabulary treatise discussed in Chapter 4 above,
Bibbesworth also composed some lyric poetry. His rhymed vocabulary was composed, he
says, for the children of Dionysia de Munchesny, but the date is a matter of some dispute.
Baugh set the date at the mid-point of the 13th century, others have preferred a somewhat
later date. Whenever it was composed, and for whomever it was composed, its primary
importance rests in the fact that it became the most popular introduction to French vocabulary,
and formed part of the secretariatylegal training courses that flourished from the 14th century
The vocabulary is presented in rhymed French couplets, totaling about 1100 lines, with
interlinear or marginal translations of some of the words. The number of words translated
steadily increases, until the last version (early 15th c ) , edited separately as the Femina,
presents a full English translation in alternating rhymed couplets. The contents of the work
reflect an interest in managing a country estate: animals and their sounds, fish, fowl, and wild
game, agricultural implements, etc. Oschinsky has pointed out resemblances between some
of his descriptions of agricultural practices and those recommended in treatises on agriculture
in the 13th century. There are also clear resemblances between certain of his word groupings
and those found in orthographic treatises and in unrhymed vocabularies. By the type of extra-
lexical information included (insistence on gender agreement, pronominal usage) and by
certain classes of lexical information (homonyms, different translational equivalents for single
English words), it is clear that in the mid-13th his native language and that of the recipients of
his instruction, the children of aristocrats, was English. This makes his work an important
piece of evidence in the determination of linguistic relationships between French and English

This work has been reprinted in The Manor Farm, edited by Francis Cripps Day (London:
B. Quaritch, 1931). The grammar of English was published by Theo Spira in the Neudrucke
frühenglischer Grammatiken, Vol. 7 (Halle, 1912). The dialogues of 1586 have been reprint­
ed by the Scolar Press, Menston (1969), the Maistre d'Escole Anglois by the same publisher
in 1967.

in the 13th and 14th centuries.

De Ia Mothe, Giles (?), or Georges (?) (fl. 1592). Lambley (1920:161) speculates that he
may have been a member of the La Motte Fouqué family which left Saintonge in 1551 and
moved to Normandy. However, there are many people with the surname Motte or Mothe in
the records of French refugees at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century.2
What we do know, from his own evidence, is that he had to abandon his studies because of
religious persecution, and he then became the tutor to the son of Henry Wallop, Lord Chief
Justice of Ireland. He later taught the daughters of the Wenman family in Oxfordshire, and
then Sir Richard Wenman and his brothers. By 1595 de la Mothe had left private tutoring to
join the French teachers at St. Paul's Churchyard. After that date there are no further records
of his life in England, but his text, The French Aiphabet, enjoyed many reprintings well into
the 17th century.
The French Alphabet, which first appeared in 1592, is written throughout in a dialogue
format, English and French on facing pages. The first 70 pages are devoted to rules of pro­
nunciation, followed by 50 pages of discourse on the nature of French and other languages.
The second part of the book (35 pages), consists of short practical dialogues introducing such
familiar lexical classes as kinship, numbers, the calendar, food, etc. This book is usually
paired with his Treasure of the French Tongue, a 59-page collection of proverbs organized
alphabetically by the first important French word. Once again English and French are on
facing pages. The primary interest of de la Mothe's work resides in the guide to pronuncia­
tion, and the discourse on languages, including some speculation on the historical develop­
ment of the major European languages and some explicit criticism of Law French.

Du Ploiche, Pierre (fl. 1553-1578). Although Du Ploiche was certainly a religious refugee
(given the contents of his text), there is no record of his family name anywhere in the registers
of aliens. In 1553 he published A Treatise in English and Frenche. A second edition ap­
peared the following year, and a revised edition in 1578. He must still have been alive at the
time of the printing of the 1578 edition for the copy preserved by University Microfilms is an
autograph copy (addressed to Gabriel Harvey) which includes the author's teaching sugges­
tions in the margins. The two early editions start with a catechism, litany, prayers, and some
simple dialogues based on the medieval model before treating, in summary fashion, French
pronunciation and verb conjugations. The 1578 edition changes slightly the wording of some
of the prayers, and, more importantly, places the pronunciation section first. The only inter­
esting aspect of the grammatical portion of the work is the preparation of tables of syllables to
show the possible combinations of vowel and consonant sounds.

Du Wes, Gilles (? - 1535). Du Wes was the primary tutor of French in the English royal
family over about a twenty-year period. He was originally from Picardy, but he had settled in

The same argument weakens the case presented by Royster (1928:2) for identifying de la
Mothe with the 'M. de la Mothe' included in a list of refugees settled in Rye from the pays de
Caux around 1585. There was, for example, a Philippe de la Motte who left Tournai to reset­
tle in Southampton in 1586.
Watson (1911:354) notes rather uncharitably and inaccurately that de la Mothe "evidently
looks for a clientele of women students".

the household of Henry VII early in the 16th century, being named the king's librarian and
continuing in that service until Henry VIII. In 1533 he received the post of gentleman waiter
in Princess Mary's household, and his wife served the princess as a lady-in-waiting. Du Wes
had instructed Mary, the French Queen (sister of Henry VIII) before Palsgrave took over that
task late in 1512, and he also tutored Henry VIII himself, his brother Arthur, his other sister
Margaret (later Queen of Scotland). It was for the Princess Mary that he composed his Intro-
ductorie. The book was probably written ca. 1524-1527 (judging from the references to the
peace treaty of 1525 and Mary's stay in Tewkesbury), but it apparently was not published
until 1532 (or 1533).
In the prologue Du Wes attacks the temerity of Palsgrave to write a grammar of French -
first because French is not governed by rules and secondly because Palsgrave was not a native
speaker of the language. Palsgrave, on the contrary, shows great respect for Du Wes. He
mentions consulting Du Wes on certain linguistic problems, and mentions that it was Du Wes
who introduced him to the Roman de la Rose. It is clear from a comparison of their two
books that Palsgrave and Du Wes had much different conceptions of teaching method.
The Introductorie is unusual in a work written by a native French speaker in that the
grammatical rules are written in English. The word-lists and the dialogues are presented in
interlinear translation. It opens with 7 rules of pronunciation, mostly dealing with letters that
are written but not pronounced, but two of which compare the phonetic value of certain letters
or combinations of letters in French with other languages (the vowels - rule 1 - plus ill and gn
- rule 7). There follow 18 pages of nouns (with interlinear English gloss) and a page each
devoted to greetings and colors. The nouns section, which includes a few words of other parts
of speech, accords largely with the vocabulary found in the Bibbesworth treatise and the
medieval nominalia, parts of the body, emotions, clothes, household furniture and furnishings,
birds, fruits, meat, game, and fish, trees, animal sounds, royal officers, etc. Some of the items
are surprising for a text destined for a princess (e.g., penilliere 'the nether beerd'; putain
'hoore'; mignarde 'wanton woman'). After this vocabulary, Du Wes inserts a two-page sec­
tion entitled "dyvers reasons with some strange wordes/ for introduction of the frenche tonge".
It appears that this section is meant as an introduction to adjectival variation and agreement.
He next declines the pronouns and lists prepositions, conjunctions, adverbs, and numbers
(which he considers adverbs). After ten pages introducing the principles of verb conjugations,
he lists over a thousand verbs in alphabetical order. The bulk of the grammatical section is
devoted to the manipulation of the verb forms in interrogative and negative constructions,
with and without object pronouns. These pattern drills help the pupil practice word order and
verb conjugations at the same time. Du Wes was a firm believer in practice over rules. The
work concludes with a series of contextualized practice pieces - dialogues, poems, letters,
philosophical discourses.
Du Wes' Introductorie provides a stark contrast to Palsgrave's Lesclarassement. While
Du Wes' work enjoyed greater popularity at the time (it had second, third and fourth editions,
the last two appearing after his death), it had far less impact on future developments. Al­
though the Introductorie owes much to its medieval predecessors, it differs from the medieval
model in three respects: its vocabulary lists are longer and more varied; it emphasizes the
manipulation of word order in certain contexts; and finally, its dialogues are more philosophi­
cal than practical. The lengthened word-lists are quickly surpassed by the appearance of real
dictionaries; the word-order drills are repeated in Valence (writing at the same time) but not
elsewhere; and finally, the dialogues revert quickly to the medieval subject areas. The only
enduring feature of his work is a mistrust of rules, and he was hardly the originator of that
point of view.

Eliot, John (1562-?). John Eliot is another of the mystery grammarians in the Renaissance.
Born in Warwickshire in 1562, he studied at Oxford, Brasenose College, in 1580 if one ac­
cepts Lambley's identification. (There was another John Eliot at Cambridge in 1567.) In his
work, the Ortho-Epia Gallica (1593), he states that he spent three years at the College de
Montaigu in Paris, a year at the College des Africains in Orléans, and ten months in Lyon. He
was apparently back in England by 1588, for in that year he wrote a dedicatory poem for
Robert Greene's Perimedes or the Black Smith. In 1592 he published a Survey or topographi­
cal description of France.
The work owes much, including the title, to John Florio's works on Italian. An introduc­
tory section describes letter-sound equivalences in French, largely by means of comparison
with English. The rest of the work is divided into two series of dialogues. The first set is
more philosophical and encyclopedic, treating teaching method in "The Scholier", approved
authors in the Western languages in "The Tongues", and lessons in geography in "The Travel­
ler". The second set, called the "Parlement of Pratlers" is further divided into two sections.
The first section consists of twelve dialogues dealing with everyday situations (rising in the
morning, greetings, games, hunting, etc.). Every other one of these dialogues includes,
between the French and English columns, a column of phonetic transcription. The second
section contains twenty dialogues, English and French on facing pages, with a summary of
pronunciation equivalents in the margins. These dialogues concern primarily conversations
with trademen, but also includes dialogues with a debtor, a braggard, etc. The rambling
conclusion revolves around Du Bartas' description of the nightingale, but often strays far from
the subject. At the end, Eliot presents his translation of Du Bartas' La louange de France.
The Ortho-Epia Gallica holds our interest today because of the phonetic transcriptions
and by the lively transformation of the dialogue tradition. Writing in a "merrie phantasticall
vein", Eliot is always entertaining.

Higgins, John (1545?-1602). Higgins taught grammar (of Latin) and revised two major
dictionaries of the 16th century (Richard Huloet's Abecedarium (1552; revised by Higgins
1572); and Hadrianus Junius' Nomenclator or Remembrancer (1567; revised by Higgins
1585)). Outside of his lexicographical interests, he had fame as a poet, expanding upon
Baldwin's Mirrour of Magistrates (1559; Higgins' edition 1574 with a number of subsequent
editions). Other works include Flowers, or Eloquent Phrases of the Latine Speach, gathered
out of the sixe Comedies of Terence, whereof those of the first three were selected by Nicholas
Udall, and those of the latter thre nowe annexed unto them by John Higgins (1575) and An
Answer to W. Perkins concerning Christ's Descension into Hell (1602). He may also be the
Higgins responsible for A discourse on the ways how to annoy the K. of Spain, and to provide
for the restitution of wrongs (1571). Campbell 1946 doubts both these claims. He claims to
have studied at Oxford (Christ Church) but there is no record of his registration there.
In the revision of the Abecedarium, a job turned down by Baret, Higgins found that he
had to make so many corrections it was like writing a new dictionary. The problem with
Huloet, according to Higgins, was that he included too many obsolete or incorrect items.
Huloet's work was derived from the late medieval Latin word-lists, and was corrupted by late
medieval usage. Higgins sought to restore accuracy and proper (classical) authority, basing
himself both on classical sources (e.g., Valla, Ptolemy) and contemporary Humanist sources
(e.g. Gesner, Turner, Hadrianus Junius, and Robert Estienne - and even Palsgrave). The work
has approximately 23000 entries, alphabetical by English headword, followed by Latin equiv­
alent and finally French equivalent. His dictionary was soon eclipsed, however, by Baret's
Alvearie, which appeared the following year.
The Nomenclator of Junius was the primary source for classified vocabulary in the

second half of the 16th century. Higgins revision is divided into 89 chapters and includes
approximately 7800 entries. The entries are presented in the order Latin-Greek-French-Eng­
lish. Higgins added an index to the Latin words to make the entries accessible by alphabetical
search as well.
Higgins' career both in lexicography and in poetry is reactive, improving upon works
already in circulation. He was concerned with proper authority, with more accessible organi­
zation and with the exploitation of the advantages of printing through the use of special
symbols, but his improvements were not great enough to compete with the other dictionaries
appearing during his lifetime.

Hollyband, Claudius (Claude de Sainliens; Claudius a Sancto Vinculo; ? - 1597). Hollyband

and Meurier (see below) are the most prolific writers on the French language in the 16th
century. Hollyband wrote grammars, guides to pronunciation and to verb conjugation, dia­
logue collections, and dictionaries. In addition, he taught Italian and Latin at his school in St.
Paul's Churchyard. He arrived in England from Moulins in 1564 or 1565, and may be the 'M.
Claudius' who helped John Baret establish the French part of his Alvearie after the death of
Thomas Chaloner in 1565. His teaching career started at Lewisham (Kent) and he moved to
the St. Paul's Churchyard location by 1575. In 1567 he had married an English wife (Eliza­
beth Williamson, née Marche) and upon her death he married Anne Smith (1578). He had at
least nine children by these two marriages. He traveled on the continent with Lord Zouche
1586-1592(?), before returning to live on Bartholomew Lane by the Royal Exchange. He died
in 1597 and was buried at the church of St. Bartholomew by the Exchange (see Eccles 1986
for fullest and most up-to-date account of his life).
Aside from the Dictionarie French and English (1570), which may or may not be by
Hollyband, his earliest French works were two introductory textbooks, the French Schoole-
maister (1573) and the Frenche Littelton (1576; the title page date of 1566 is a misprint). One
is tempted to see the second as a revision of the first, but this is not entirely accurate, for both
continued in multiple competing editions both during Hollyband's lifetime and well into the
17th century. They represent slightly different philosophies of education, with the Schoolem-
aister opening with notes on grammar and pronunciation, the Littelton relegating such
comments to the end of the book. The Schoolemaister has French and English on facing
pages for the sections on pronunciation and grammar (1-45) and in the dialogues and proverbs
(62-193); French-English in side-by-side columns for the verb conjugations (46-61) and wordd
lists (207-306); Latin-French-English in alternating paragraphs for the prayers (196-198); and
French only for the 10 commandments and morning and evening prayers (199-205). The
order of presentation is 1) pronunciation; 2) grammar and verb conjugations; 3) contextual-
ized vocabulary (dialogues and prayers); 4) word-lists (in the style of the medieval
The Littelton has the same types of information, but changes the order and shortens
considerably the word-lists and lengthens slightly the grammatical section. The order of
presentation there is 1) contextualized vocabulary (dialogues (A i - D vii); proverbs and
'golden sayings' (D vii - F iii)); 2) word-lists (F iiii - G iii); 3) contextualized vocabulary on
religious topics (Lord's prayer; act of faith; prayers; acts of the apostles; treatise on (against)
dancing: G iii -I viii); 4) pronunciation (K i - N iii); 5) grammar and verb conjugations (N iiii
- Q iiii). Although he places grammar last, claiming that it is something to be consulted rather
than studied, his grammatical explanations in the Littelton are somewhat more formal and
more complete than those in the Schoolemaister, providing, for example, a full declension of
French nouns and more information on possessive adjectives and pronouns.
In 1580 Hollyband published three texts meant to supplement the Littelton: a Latin trea-

tise on orthography (De pronuntiatione linguae gallicae):a French treatise on conjugating

verbs (A Treatise for the declining of verbs); and a bilingual dictionary (A Treasurie of the
French tong). The first includes an attack on proponents of orthographic reform, especially
Ramus (Pierre de la Ramée). One of the more interesting features is a a side-by-side compari­
son in five columns of selections from his dialogues, presenting these texts in the Latin ver­
sion, in the old orthography, in the orthography of the radical reformers, in the modestly
reformed orthography of Hollyband himself, and in phonetic transcription.4 The dictionary
uses as its starting point the Estienne French-Latin dictionary of 1549.
In 1593 Hollyband vastly expanded that dictionary, producing the Dictionarie French
and English. Adding more than 3000 entries to the earlier dictionary, Hollyband reveals his
Bourbonnais origins and his Protestant convictions with his original contributions. This dic­
tionary was an important source for Cotgrave's dictionary of 1611.
In addition to the his work on French, Hollyband also wrote a number of treatises on
Italian (Arnalt & Lucenda (1575; revised and renamed in 1583 as The Italian Schoolemaister)
; Campo di Fior (1583)) and several other translations and editions: an edition of Le theatre
du monde of Pierre Boaistuau (1595) and a translation of The Explanation of the Right and
Title of Anthony, the First of that Name, King of Portugal. (For more information on the Ital­
ian works, see Simonini 1952.)
Hollyband was the most prolific and the most popular of the French masters in England
in the reign of Elizabeth I. His teaching method preferred practice to rules, dialogues to
grammar. His main legacy to the tradition is his lexicographic work, which built on the
Estienne dictionaries and had great influence on Cotgrave.

Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye, Guillaume (fl. 1576). Alston speculates that this author may be
related to Guillaume Ledoyen, a poet from Laval who died in 1537. There is no mention of
Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye in any of the official records of aliens published by the Huguenot
Society. He was apparently a religious refugee taken in by Edward Seymour, Baron of
Ledoyen de la Pichonnaye's only known work is the Playne treatise to learne in a short
space the Frenche tongue (1576). Written entirely in English, this work follows closely the
Latin model, particularly in the grammar section, divided into parts of speech. In the pronun­
ciation section (23 pages), he proceeds letter by letter, finishing with a discussion of 'synale-
pha' (elision of unstressed e before another vowel), 'apostrophe' (elision of the vowel in cer­
tain monosyllables before another vowel), and 'the running togither of consonants in divers
woordes' (liaison and elision). The pronunciation section includes some commentaries on the
articulation of sounds.
In the section on grammar (83 pages), the list of parts of speech is expanded to 9,
making the article a full-fledged part of speech. The parts of speech are defined and their
accidents listed. The grammatical information is not exhaustive, but Ledoyen de la Pichon­
naye explains that once one has learned the basics, it is best to learn through reading the best
authors: "it sufficeth us to have shewed you with the finger, where the founteine is, that you
may drinke thereof when you are drye" (H iiii verso).

It is curious that the version of the De pronuntiatione reprinted by Slatkine has different
pagination and more complete tables of this section than does the reprint of the S colar Press,
even though both show the same title page. In the Scolar Press version, three of the columns
are missing for two of the three dialogues presented, but there is no gap in the pagination.

Such readings must have been necessary for vocabulary development, for Ledoyen de la
Pichonnaye provides no dialogues, no dictionaries, no word-lists. The Playne treatise is most
interesting for its description of French pronunciation (see Danielsson 1959) and for its con­
servative approach to grammatical instruction.

Meurier, Gabriel (? - 1587). Meurier, like Hollyband, wrote a wide variety of pedagogical
works on French, most aimed at a Flemish audience but a few written for English speakers. A
native of Avesnes, he was an established schoolteacher in Anvers (Antwerp) by 1548, when
he was listed in the rolls of the confrérie de Saint-Amboise as "poorter, geboren te Avennes,
leerende spaens, italiaens,françois, rekenen ende cyferen". He served as dean of the brother­
hood on several occasions, but so abused his position that he was excluded from the organiza­
tion in 1579.
His works include purely lexicographic works, dialogue collections, grammars, guides to
verb conjugation, collections of model letters, collections of proverbs and sayings, and a
number of bilingual works on moral education. The only point of departure for Meurier and
Hollyband is that latter's treatise on orthography; otherwise they treated the same types of
materials, and one can only speculate that Hollyband's warning, in the French Schoolemaist-
er, to discount a recent work from Anvers applies to some work by Meurier.
Meurier's lexicographic works, first under the title Vocabulaire francois-flameng (1557)
and later Dictionaire francois-flameng (1574), are based on the Estienne French-Latin dic­
tionaries (1539 and 1549). Another lexicon, the Magazin de Planté (1570) is a French-Flem­
ish classified vocabulary perhaps based on the Junius' model, although limited to 37 chapters
(instead of 89).
His primary dialogue collection, Communications familieres non moins propres que
tresutile a la nation Angloise desireuse du langage François (1563), building upon his inter­
est in comparing French and English already expressed in the Traicte pour apprendre a parler
Francoys et Angloys (1558). Communications familiares includes 18 dialogues (English-
French in two columns), mostly for merchants, and a few model letters (English and French
on facing pages). The Plaine pathway to the French tongue (1575) adds to this work only a
short (2-page) section on pronunciation, along with some minor orthographic changes. There­
fore it seems reasonable to count this as the work of Meurier.
His grammatical works include the Grammaire françoise (1557) and the Conjugaisons,
règles, et instructions [...] pour ceux qui desirent apprendre françois, italien, espagnol et
flamen (1563). Neither is very complete. The grammar is divided into two parts, the first of
which deals with the standard problems of letters that are written but not pronounced, or
pronounced other than with their base value. In the second part Meurier describes special
problems in French morphology and syntax, without systematically touching on all the parts
of speech and their accidents. Thus he treats articles as signs of declension, the comparison of
adjectives and adverbs, problems of gender, homonyms, the feminine forms of adjectives, the
meaning of certain suffixes, punctuation, pronouns, verb conjugations, lists of adverbs and
prepositions, and special problems in pronunciation for German speakers.
Meurier's works continued the French-Flemish-English link extant since the establish-

The only extant copy of this treatise was destroyed during the bombing of Nurnberg in
World War II. According to Lambley, the 1558 text was written to teach English to French
speakers, which would make it the first of its kind, antedating Bellot's effort by more than 20

ment of the Flemish wool trade in the Middle Ages (as seen in Caxton's adaptation of the
Livre des Mestiers). His lexicographic works were his greatest accomplishment, but it was his
dialogue collection that had the greatest impact in England.

Morlet, Pierre (fl. 1590-1600). Morlet, a native of Auteuil, based his Janitrix sive institutio
ad perfectam linguae cognitionem acquirendum (1596) on Jean Garnier's 1558 grammar.
Morlet had previously revised that work for German speakers in a 1593 edition published in
Jena by Steinmann. Aside from Hollyband's treatise on pronunciation (1580), this is the only
French grammatical work published in England during this period that used Latin as the
medium of instruction. Still, Morlet constantly compares French to German and to English,
as well as Latin. Morlet follows the Latin model closely (parts of speech and their accidents),
but, assuming that his students knew Latin grammatical terminology, he felt he could omit the
definitions. He devotes 8 pages to pronunciation and 82 pages to the parts of speech. There is
no lexical material.
The morphology and syntax covers the standard accidents of each part of speech, to
which Morlet adds a number of commentaries at the end of the sections on nouns and pro­
nouns. These comments can deal with derivational morphology (e.g., the fate of Latin end­
ings in French) and syntax and semantics (e.g., the use of the partitive article). This section
concentrates most, however, on the conjugation of verbs.
The use of Latin to teach French, the lack of dialogues, the comparisons to German (a
language relatively little known in England at this time - all of these factors combined to limit
the popularity of Morlet's work. It had little impact on the development of this grammatical

Palsgrave, John (1480?-1554). Palsgrave describes himself as a native of London, but his
family was originally from Norfolk. He studied at the University of Paris around the turn of
the century, and, after taking holy orders, was taken into the royal household, perhaps through
the intercession of his sister, who served as lady-in-waiting to Mary, Henry VIII's sister and
future Queen of France. He started working for Mary in 1512 or early 1513, taking over her
French tutoring from Gilles Du Wes. Palsgrave accompanied her to France for her to Louis
XII, and was among of her entourage those abruptly sent home immediately after the wed­
ding. Upon his return to England, Palsgrave worked with Thomas More, and served as a
courier between More and Erasmus. During one of these trips to the low countries, Palsgrave
studied law at Louvain. For his services he received a several church assignments which
helped meet his financial needs while he tutored various members of the royal family and the
high aristocracy. He apparently finished the first two books of his major grammatical work,
Lesclarcissement de la langue françoyse, by 1523, but at the urging of his royal patrons, he
delayed publication until he could finish the third book, which added commentaries on the
morphology and syntax presented in the second book, and an English-French dictionary
organized by part of speech. In the meantime he tried his hand at tutoring Henry Fitzroy,
natural son of Henry VIII, a task made more difficult by interference from the rest of the royal
entourage. Finally the entire work was published in 1530.
After this Palsgrave went to Oxford to study theology, taking the degree of Bachelor of
Theology in 1532, and then went to Cambridge as a tutor to several sons of the aristocracy.
He may have translated Le mirrouer de la verité ("The Glasse of the Truthe" (1532) at the
request of the king, before settling into a quiet ecclesiastical career at St. Dunstan's-in-the-
East and several other benefices. His last scholarly activity was the translation of Acolasius, a
Latin play by the Dutch Humanist Guillelmus Fullonius. This translation appeared in 1540,
and perhaps was to be an accompaniment to the King's grammar of Latin (which didn't

appear until 1542). Carver 1937 details the influence of this translation on later English litera­
Palsgrave's fame today rests on Lesclrcissement de la langue françoyse (1530), an
immense work of more than 1000 pages. Palsgrave claims to have seen previous efforts,
including Barcley's, and to have found them wanting. Certainly no one before or for some
time after attempts quite so much as Palsgrave. He provides both a teaching and a reference
grammar, using as his base literary French from the 13 th to the early part of the 16th century.
He claims to have modeled his grammar on Theodore of Gaza's Greek grammar, but the only
direct evidence is the division of the work into three books, with the third expanding upon the
morphology and syntax found in the second.
In the "epistle to the kings grace" and the "introduction of the author" Palsgrave de­
scribes the motivations and the plan of his book. He cites Tory's call for someone to bring
French under the control of rules, and finds it a happy coincidence that he has chosen for his
authorities on French usage the same authors mentioned by Tory. Those authors are not his
only guide however, for he also calls upon geographical (the region between the Seine and the
Loire), social (distinction between merchants' French and learned French), and chronological
(attacks on both archaisms and neologisms) criteria for the determination of the best French
usage. He also has a penchant for a tripartite division of problems in French (3 greatest diffi­
culties for learning French, 3 types of agreement, etc.) which he relates to the mystical power
of the 'ternarius numerus'.
The first book describes French pronunciation, with rules and exceptions for each letter.
There follows a section on combinations across word boundaries, and finally several pages of
interlinear phonetic transcription of poetic works. He then describes in detail the application
of the rules he presented in the earlier sections to the first line of Alain Chartier's Quadri-
logue invectif.
The second book describes the 8 parts of speech and the article. Each part is first de­
fined, and then the accidents listed. Sometimes the list of accidents has been extended to
include direct comparison with English (e.g., "order contrarie to our tong"). In general Pals­
grave relies more on syntactic and morphological justifications for his classifications than did
his contemporaries, basing his judgments on an analysis of usage in specific literary works
rather than on the relationship between a French structure and its Latin equivalent.
The third book expands upon the grammatical description of the second book, and adds
an English-French dictionary for each part of speech.6 Within the list of each part of speech
the organization is generally alphabetical, but adverbs are classified by the interrogative word
to which the adverb is connected (e.g., 'when', 'how much') and interjections according to the
emotion expressed. Because the dictionary is incorporated into the grammar, Anderson
(1972) would not consider it the first substantial English-French bilingual dictionary, but that
it clearly is. The total number of entries is approximately 23000. Many of these entries,
particularly in the sections on verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections, are
accompanied by sentence-length examples of usage, some drawn from literature, some from
everyday life.
Palsgrave's influence on later developments was quite limited. Only 750 copies of
Lesclarcissement were printed, and his work was attacked for being too long and too interest­
ed in rules. Only Higgins, in his revision of Huloet (1572), cites Lesclarcissement as a source,
and that book too was destined to have little influence. In spite of its lack of influence, Pals-

The list of pronouns has both English-French and French-English access.


grave's accomplishment is no less astonishing. He describes problems in French syntax (e.g.,

certain aspects of pronoun usage) that no other grammarians were to touch on for two centuries
afterwards. Palsgrave's text is monument in linguistic method and linguistic detail that was
unrivaled in 16th-century England.

Valence, Pierre (fl. 1515-1555). We do not know when Valence came to England, but. he
apparently fled France (probably Normandy) for religious reasons, and the first mention of
him in England in 1515. At that date he was enrolled at Cambridge, and there was involved
in some controversy. He is said to have defaced a publicly-displayed copy of the pope's
general indulgence, writing over it "Beams vir cuius est nomen Domini spes eius, et non
respexit in istas vanitates et insanias falsas" (cited in Watson 1911:306). After publicly
apologizing, Valence was absolved. He tutored Cromwell's son along with Palsgrave, and
mentions Palsgrave in the closing remarks to his grammatical work, the Introductions in
French (1528). Alston has correctly identified the so-called 'Lambeth fragment' as a section
of this book. After writing the Introductions, Valence received letters of denization in 1535,
and served the Bishop of Ely as chaplain and almoner for more than twenty years. The last
mention of him is his visit to the Ely jail in 1555 to encourage some heretics to keep the
strength of their convictions. (This is the time of the Marian persecutions,)
The Introductions is presented with French and English on facing pages. It opens with a
section on pronunciation, dividing the vowels and consonants and describing the pronuncia­
tion of the letters when reciting the alphabet. Valence follows medieval Latin tradition in the
articulation of the vowels, and medieval French/English tradition in choosing this spot to
discuss the various meanings a can have (letter, present tense of the verb avoir, preposition).
He takes an extreme position on etymological spelling, preferring that all etymological letters
be not only retained in spelling but also pronounced (a point of view Guillaume des Autels
was to repeat in his debate with Meigret, 1550-1551). However, Valence is not as dogmatic
as des Autels, for he concludes "prononce ung chacun comme il luy plaira". The other
commentaries on pronunciation relate to the letters s, c, and g.
From this spare introduction to French pronunciation, Valence proceeds to a description
of verb morphology. Hidden within the 80 pages devoted to this subject are descriptions of
pronominal usage, thus placing Valence (along with Palsgrave) in the camp of those who
viewed the pronoun more on the basis of the relationship to the verb (subject, object, etc.)
than on the basis of its relationship to the noun it replaces (see Trousson 1986). Another
interesting feature of his verbal morphology is the insistence, as in Du Wes, on the manipula­
tion of the verb phrase in interrogative and negative constructions. After the section on verb
morphology, Valence lists pronouns, adverbs (divided by meaning), conjunctions, and prepo­
sitions. He then points out some special difficulties for English speakers: comparison of
adjectives, creation of adverbs from adjectives, placement of adjectives, use of articles and
preposition + article combinations, the various meanings of de, que and bien, ways of answer­
ing questions, and the meaning of French adjectives ending in -eux.
The main interest in Valence's work lies in his description of the pronominal functions
of en and y, and in the manipulation of sentence constructions recommended in his section on
verb morphology. His work was soon eclipsed by Palsgrave and Du Wes' and was not re­

Veron, Jean (? - 1563). Veron arrived in England around 1536 and became French tutor to
the children of the aristocracy. In taking out his letters of denization in 1544 he described
himself as a teacher. He was also known as one of the 'eminentest preachers' of his day, a
fact reflected by the publication of Certayne litel Treatises set forth by John Veron Senonoys,

for the erudition and learnyng of the symple and ignorant peopell (London:Humfrey Powell,
1548) and The godly saiyngs of the old auncient faithful fathers upon the Sacrament of the
bodye and bloude of Chryste (Worchester: Jhon Oswen, 1550). Later he was a preacher at St.
Paul's Cross, St. Martin's, Ludgate, and St. Supulchre's. In 1559 he preached before (Protes­
tant) Queen Elizabeth at Whitehall. Veron was evidently quite adaptable, for he had also
served as confessor to (Catholic) Queen Mary.
His major contribution to 16th-century linguistic works was his addition of English
equivalents to the Dictionariolum puerorum (Latin-French) of Robert Estienne. Estienne's
work appeared in 1544, Veron's in 1552. This dictionary introduced Estienne's dictionaries
to the English audience, and thus transformed both French-English and Latin-English lexicog­
raphy in England. The Dictionariolum puerorum presents approximately 18000 entries in the
order Latin-English-French. Stein (1985:168-169) notes several differences with the Latin-
English dictionaries that preceded: marking of all the Latin content for accent, lack of prover­
bial usage, and omission of encyclopedic articles relating to proper names. Veron does pro­
vide explanations, often drawn from Elyot's dictionary (1538) concerning money and meas­
urements, animals and plants. A few of these additions have uncertain sources (see Stein
1985:175). Veron also notes some instances of uncertain spelling (in Latin). The last two
pages provide a summary of French pronunciation.
Veron's dictionary was revised by Rudolph Waddington in 1575; one of Waddington's
alterations was to remove the French, judging that those who wanted a French-Latin-English
dictionary could consult Baret's Alvearie. Veron and his Dictionariolum did not have great
direct impact, but it did serve to introduce the English public to Estienne's works. After this,
Estienne's Dictionaire françois-latin (1539 and 1549) would directly influence French-Eng­
lish lexicography through the works of Baret and Hollyband.


Pour ceo que les bones gens du roiaume d'Engleterre sont enbraséz a sçavoir lire et escrire,
entendre et parler droit françois a fin qu'ils puissent entrecomuner bonement ové leur voisins,
c'est a dire les bones gens du roiaume de France; et ainsi pour ce que les leys d'Engleterre
pour la graigneur partie, et aussi beaucoup de bones choses sont misez en françois, et aussi
bien pres touz les seigneurs et toutes les dames en mesme roiaume d'Engliterre volentiers
s'entrescrivent en romance, tres necesssaire je cuide estre aus Englois de sçavoir la droite
nature de françois. A le honneur de Dieu et de sa tres doulce miere et toutz les saintez de
paradis, je Johan Barton, escolier de Paris, nee et nourie toutez voiez d'Engleterre en la conté
de Cestre, j'ey baillé aus avant diz un Donait françois pur les briefment entreduyr en la droit
language du Paris et de pais la d'entour, laquelle language en Engliterre on appelle doulce
France. Et cest Donait je le fis la fair a mes despenses et tres grande peine par pluseurs bons
clercs du language avant dite. Pur ce, mes chiers enfants et tres doulcez puselles, que avez
fam d'apprendre cest Donait, sçachéz qu'il est divisé en belcoup de chapiters, sicome il
apperera cy avale.


FRENCH, 1521

Wherefore at the commaundement of the ryght noble/myghty/ & excellent prince aforesayd I
purpose to compyle a playne and a compendyous introductory to lerne to wryte and to speke
frenche. And though the sayd treatyse hath ben attempted of dyvers men before my dayes:
yet I trust with the ayde of god to make the same more clere/playne/& easy/ parte by reason
that I have sene the draughtes of others made before my tyme: and parte for that I have ben in
my youth and hytherto accustomed & exercysed in two languages of Frenche and Englysshe.
But who would understande the cause whiche hath moved my sayd honourable lorde to have
suche treatyse compyled/ brefely to answere/ it is for the common wele and pleasure of all
englysshe men/ as well gentylmen/marchauntes/ as other common people that are not expert
in the sayd language. And furthermore, syth it has pleased al myghty god to reconsyle the
pease betwene the two realmes of Englande and Fraunce and to confederate them in love &
amyte my sayd lorde hath thought it expedyent that our people accompenyenge with theym of
fraunce sholde not be utterly ignorant in the frenche tunge: which in times past hath ben so
moche set by in Englande that who hath ben ignorant in the same langage hath not be reputed
to be of gentyll blode. In so moche (that as the chronycles of englande do recorde) in all the
grammer scoles throughout englande small scolers expounded theyr construccyons bothe in
Frenche and Englysshe. And moreover the same tunge is not a lytell commended amonge the
infydeles/ as turkes/ and saracyns for the pleasaunt compendyous ordre and conveyaunce of
the same/ than how moche more sholde it be pleasaunt to us whiche are ioyned with the same
nacyon as well by neighbourhode/ and confederacyon/ as by alyaunce: but what euer profyte
or pleasure that the reder may fynde in the same treatyse/ lete hym gyve laude and thankes to
god & to my sayd moost honourable lorde/ by whose commaundement as sayd
is this treatyse is compyled/ of certayne pronownes & how they are dyversly
used in frenche.


Il plaira a ta haulte et excellente Iuuence/ prendre en gre/ ces briefves et petites Introductions
en la langue francoise/ lesqueles (comme lespere) te seront tresnecessaires et compendieuses/ a
venir a la congnoissance dycelle, et a cause que ie les ay faictez en haste/ et sans grand loiser/
et toultes contraires a ycelles qui par cy devant ont este faictes: nous ne les prisons ou des­
prisons/ mais se priseront/ ou despriseront par eulx-mesmes. Seullement affermerons/ que par
icelles ou semblables instructions/ tel a eu plus grand congnoissance par lespace dung An en
la dicte langue (estant au Royaulme dengieterre) que tel aultre professeur en ycele/ na faict en
trois ans ou plus/ au Royaulme de france. Pource ditz ie/ que les lieux/ ou places/ ou univer­
sites/ ne sont pas les gentz saiges/ discretz/ ne vertueux/ aussi ne donnent la vraie congnois­
sance. Mais ceulx sont saiges/ clercz et scauantz/ en qui Lesperit de Dieu oeuure et donne


The Authours Epistell to the kynges grace

Desirous to do some humble service unto the nobilite of this victorious realme/ & universally
unto all other estatz of this my natyfe countrey. After I was commaunded by your most
redouted hyghnesse/ to instruct the right excellent princes/ your most dere and most entirely
beloved suster quene Mary douagier of France/ in the frenche tong. As one whiche had
conceyved some lytell hope and confidence/ that there had chaunsed me a convenient occa­
sion/ by rayson of that charge/ to employe my labours about the thyng/ whiche myght in tyme
to come/ be unto your noble grace an evident argument and declaration/ of the towardnesse of
my moste humble and most obeissant hert/ in the accomplysshement of any your hyghnesses
most dradde commandementes. I oftymes began thus to consider and debate with myselfe.
This lyke charge have dyvers others had afore my dayes/ and many others undouted shall also
herafter bestowe theyr tyme in suche lyke studious exercise. Whiche thyng amongest others
hath bene a great occasion/ that many sondry Clerkes have for theyr tyme taken theyr penne in
hande/ and to shewe theyr good willes and towarde diligence/ sufficiently to acquite them on
theyr behalfes/ wherby they myght of the princes our soveraynes most renoumed progeni-
tours/ and other hygh estates of this noble realme/ whom for theyr tymes in this exercise they
served/ worthely attayne some lytell thanke and favour/ some thyng have they in writyng lefte
behynde them/ concernyng unto this mater/ for the ease and fortheraunce/ as well of suche as
shulde in lyke charge after them succede/ as of them whiche from tyme to tyme in that tong
were to be instructed. Wherfore/ syns it hath pleased our most redouted soverayne/ to
commyt unto me of others the most unworthy and unsufficient this lyke roume and exercise. I
shall also by theyr exemple/ endevour me for my party/ of this my necessite, by reason of his
highnesses pleasure and most drad commandement/ to make some lytell towardnesse unto
vertue/ and takyng light and erudition of theyr studious labours/ whiche in this mater before
me/ have taken paynes to write, I shall assaye some small thyng to adde by my poore dili­
gence/ wherby/ nat onely I may the more suffyciently acquite me in my charge/ but also/ that
by mean of my poore labours taken on this occasion/ the frenche tonge may herafter by others
the more easely be taught/ & also be attayned unto by suche/ as for their tymes therof shalbe
desyrous. Abidyng therfore upon this my intended purpose/I dyd my effectuall devoire to
ensertche out suche bokes/ as had by others of this mater before my tyme ben compyled/ of
whiche undouted/ after enquery and enserche made for them/ dyvers came unto my handes/ as
well suche whose authours be yet amongest us lyveng/ as suche whiche were of this mater by

other sondrie persons longe afore my dayes composed. And parceyving/ that they all by one
accorde and agrement/ chefely treated of two thynges/ whiche they iuged unto suche of our
nation/ as were mynded to lerne that langage/ of all others to be most chefely requisyte/ that is
to saye/ Howe the Frenche tong ought to be pronounced/ and to shewe wherin their trewe
Analogie dyd rest/ so that after a french worde were ones unto us knowen/ we ,yght wotte for
the kepynge of trewe congruyte in that tonge (if the worde of hym selfe were varyable) how to
welde hym/ in his cases/ gendre/ nombres/ modes/ tenses and persons. I also on my partie/
dyde my poore dilygence in-two sondrie bookes/ usynge suche order/ as semed unto my poore
iugement/ for that mater most convenyent) to entreate and write of the selfe thynges, Whiche
after I had (so as it wolde be) fynisshed: nat estemyng the symplenesse of my poore labours in
that behalfe/ in any wise worthy to come before your highnesses presens. I offred them unto
your noble graces sayde most dere and most entierly beloved Suster/ and to the highly re-
noumed prince Charles Brandon duke of Suffolke/ her moost worthy espouse/ supposyng it
unto me largely to be suffycient/ if my poore labours myght unto their graces/ to whom for
their manyfolde benefytz I was so highly bounden/ in any parte be acceptable. But whan they
had thorowly visyted my said two bokes/ of their great goodnesse and synguler favour toward
me/ moche more estemyng them than they in dede were worthy/ their graces dyde than put me
in a farther hope and conforte/ that your highnesse/ which of your great bountuousenesse and
notable benignyte/ nat onely encorage well doers in any kynde of vertue/ to encrease & to do
better/ but also gratiously dissymule your most humble subiectes errours/ to conforte them to
amende/ and afterwarde be more dilygent/ wolde nat refuse benignely and in good parte to
accept the thyng/ wherof your noble grace was the meer causer and very chefe occasion/ so I
on my partie to make my pore gyfte some lytell thing more acceptable/ wolde yet in this mater
take a farther dilygence/ and wolde assay/ if I coulde by the order of the letters fyrst set fortne
in our tonge/ and than declared in Frenche/ sette out worde for worde & phrasis for phrasis/
affyrmynge that though my labours were some thyng commodious for an Introduction to-
wardes the better attaynyng of this langage. Yet were they nat fully sufficient for any of our
nation/ by his owne study to attayne the Frenche tonge by, except after their trewe pronuncia­
tion and arte Grammaticall ones knowen/ we myght have plenty of frenche wordes also/ to
expresse our myndes withall. Whose good advertisements and pleasures/ accordyng to my
most bounden duetie to obey. But most especially/ above all other thynges/ desyrous to leave
some lytell monument unto your noble graces posterite/ howe that sometyme it stode with
your hyghnesses pleasure/ that I your most humble and most obeissaunt sugiecte shulde/
employ my tyme about this study and exercise. I have nat openly assayde so to mary our
tonge & the french togider/ that there shulde fewe wordes in comparison of bothe the tonges
be wantyng/ nor phrases where the tonges diffre/ & have nat worde for worde be unsetforthe/
and for examples expressed/ But farthermore/ folowyng the order of Theodorus Gaza/ in his
grammer of the Greke tonge/I have also added unto my former labours a thirde boke/ whiche
is a very comment and exposytour unto my seconde. So that the accidentes/ unto the partes of
reason in the frenche tong/ and other preceptes grammaticall/ whiche I have but brefely and in
a generaltee touched in my second boke/ and so/ as unto an Introduction dothe suffise. In my
said thirde boke consequently & in due ordre be declared/ dilated/ & sette forthe at the length.
Wherin most high and mighty prince/ howe soever veyllable my poore dilygence hath ben/
were it nat that the great and weighty affayres/ whiche contynually without intermyssion lye
under the orderyng of your most puyssaunt septre royall/ at al tymes require the presence of
your most gratious eye/ wherby my most symple labours of small and utterly no condigne
importaunce coulde gete no leyser convenyent by your hyghnesses most profounde iugement
to be loked upon/ by the generall testymony and commen reporte of all maner persons whiche
have ben admytted unto your most gratious speche/ nat onely your most humble subiectes/ but

also the Ambassadours of all outwarde princes/ of all other persons/ whiche at this present
tyme be lyveng/ within the boundes of your right ample domynions/ It shulde have ben to me
most highly requisyte/ to have made my most instaunt sute/ for the benygne advyse of your
noble graces moste expert opynion in this behalfe/ afore I shulde have dared to take upon me/
to dedycate this my poore labours unto your hyghnesse/ which in the Frenche tonge/ amongest
your noble graces other manyfolde sortes of excellent erudytion and lytterature/ have also in
this tonge so clere and parfite a sight/ lest that mine audacite for want of dewe circumspec­
tion/ myght in any point offende your hyghnesse. But with all dewe humylite and most lowly
obeissaunce/I submytte bothe my and my poore labours unto your noble graces most benigne
correction/ protestyng no maner thynge in my hole worke/ to be eyther well or sufficiently
done/ but that whiche your highnesse/ as most worthy iuge and clere discerner in this behalfe/
shall vouchsafe to alowe & approve/ Onely of this thyng/ puttyng your highnesse in remem-
braunce/ that where as besydes the great nombre of Clerkes/ whiche before season of this
mater have written now sithe the beginnyng of your most fortunate and most prosperous
raigne/ the right vertuous and excellent prince Thomas late duke of Northfolke/ hath com­
manded the studious clerke Alexandre Barkelay/ to embusy hym selfe about this excercyse/
and that my sayd synguler good lorde Charles duke of Suffolke/ by cause that my poore
labours required a longre tracte of tyme/ hath also in the meane season encouraged maister
Petrus Vallensys/ scole maister to his excellent yong sonne the Erle of Lyncolne/ to shewe his
lernynge and opinon in this behalfe/ and that the synguler clerke/ maister Gyles Dewes
somtyme instructour to your noble grace in this seife tong/ at the especiall instaunce and
request of dyvers of your highe estates and noble men/ hath also for his partye written in this
matter. If any one of us all/ which syns the begynnyng of your said well fortuned raygne of
this thyng have written/ or we all amongest us/ have by our diligent labours nowe at the last/
brought the frenche tong under any rules certayn & preceptz grammaticall/ lyke as the other
thre parfite tonges be/ we have nat onely done the thyng whiche by your noble graces progeni-
tours/ of al antiquite so moche hath ben desyred/ that besydes all other maner polyties by
them essayd/ whiche myght serve to the advauncement and fordrance of that purpose/ they
never cessed to encorage suche Clerkes as were in theyr tymes/ to prove and essay what they
by theyr dyligence in this matter myght do. But also under the studyous tyme of your most
prosperous raigne/ in whiche all ingenious exercises/ thus highly do habounde/ we have here
within the lymitz of your most fortunat obeyssance and domynions/ done the thynge whiche
by the testimony of the excellent clerke/ maister Geffray Troy de Bourges ( a late writer of the
frenche nation) in his boke intituled Champ Fleury/ was never yet amongest them of that
contrayes selfe hetherto so moche as ones effectually attempted. In so moche that the sayd
clerke/ about the beginnyng of his boke/ spekyng of Hercules Gallicus or Francois and
shewynge the naturall inclination that the frenche men have unto eloquence and facundite/
and howe theyr tong for the most generall is corrupted for want of rules and preceptes
grammaticall/ and wisshynge that some studious clerke shulde by mean of his exhortation
nowe take the thyng in hande/ and fardermore rehersyng the names of suche Authours whiche
he estemeth in the frenche tong to be most excellent/ and which he wolde chefely shulde be
over visyted and thorowe studyed/ to gather theyr grammaticall rules out of/ he hath fortuned
to name such and the very same whiche my chaunce hath ben/ for the auctorisyng and corro-
boratyng of my said thyrde boke with all/ chefely to alledge/ to folowe and Ieane unto.
Wherby most hyghe and puissaunt prince/ my most entyrely honoured and most redouted
souveraygne/ amongest the other manifolde hyghe benefites/ whiche by your most provident
cure/ and diligent circumspection/ you dayly mynister unto your most humble and most obeis-
saunt subiectes/ and amongest the other manifolde sortes of erudition and litterature/ whiche
by your highnesses most amyable exhortation/ and especially by evident exemple in your

owne noble person/ as moche flourishe nowe under your ryght ample dominions/ as thorowe
the residewe of Europa/ you have also procured and provided for them the parfit knowlege of
the frenche tong/ of all antiquite by your noble progenitours/ so moche covited and desire/ &
by this mean where as your sayd subiectes for your manifolde great benefites unto them
shewed/ be as moche bounden unto your noble grace/ as ever were subiectes unto theyr liege
and soverayne lorde/ by reason of this great commodite/ procured also by your hyghnesse/ of
your most excellent goodnesse/ thus benygnely and thankfully to accept my poore labours
employed in this behalfe/ your noble grace hath yet more highlye and more largely bounden/
both them/ and of all others lyvyng most especially me/ to pray for your prosperous estate
long to endure/ in all felicite and worldly welth amongest us. AMEN.



Combien que ne ignore point que pluisieurs tant qualifiez ez bonnes lectres come aussy
elegant en la langue francoise (au moins pour non estre naturel et natif du territoire et pais)
ont composes/ et escripz regles et principes pour introduction en la dicte langue lesquelz peult
estre come tesmoigne fait Hierome a Paulin ont ensegnes auant que auoir este scauantz Car ia
soit que art soit imitatrice de nature lensuiuant de bien pres/ sy ne la peult elle toutefois
aconsuiuir. Pourquoy lesditz compilateurs du tout adherens a icelle sont par nature en diuers
lieux cancelles/ repris/ et corrigez: Ne sembleroit ce point chose rare et estrange/ veoir ung
francois se ingerer et efforcer dapprendre aux allemans la langue tyoise/ voire/ et qui plus est
sur Icelle composer regles et principes/ combien que (contre moy et ma rayson) quelque ung
pourroit dire/ que on ne trouueroit ame qui ensegneroit Hebrieu/ Grec/ ne Latin/ sil ne loisoit
a auscun de ce faire sinon a celuy qui laroit de nature: A quoy ie respons que cest aultre chose
densegner et daprendre par les principes et regles faictz par diuers expertz aucteurs/ par inter-
ualle et diuturnite de long temps bien approuueez/ que de premiere abordee et nauoir ung
language que moienement et come par emprunt/ en voulloir cy pris cy mis/ non seullement
ensegner les aultres/ mais aussy composer sur ce regles infallibles ce que scauoir faire nest
ottroie a bien peu de ceulz qui sont mesme natif du dict langage/ car touchant moy mesmes a
qui la dicte langage est maternelle ou naturelle/ et qui par lespase de trente ans & plus/ me
suis entremis (combien que soie tresignorant) densegner et apprendre pluisieurs grandz
princes et princesses/ come a feu de noble & recommandee memoire. Le prince Arthur le
noble roy Henry/ pour le present prospereusement regnant/ a qui dieu doint vie perpetuelle:
Les roynes de France et D'escoce/ auec le noble Marquis Dexcestre, &c. Pour laquelle chose
accomplir Iay fait mon pouoir et debuoir de perscruter & cercher/ tout ce quy ma semble a ce
propos seruir: Sy nay ie toutesuois peu trouuer regles infalibles (pource quil nest possible de
telles les trouuer) cest a dire telles qui puissent seruir infalliblement/ come font les regles
composeez pour apprendre Latin/ Grec/ & Hebrieu et aultres telz langages: Ce que neant-
moins lesditz compilateurs ont entrepris (affin que ne die presumes) de faire iasoit quilz
naient este que petit de temps a laprendre/ mais or soit ainsy que telz regles et ensegnementz
soient tressuffisans et loing par desus mes oeuures pour ce toutesfois que maintenant (nonob­
stant mon ignorance) suis derechief (par mon tresredoubte seigneur & prince le roy dessus
nomme) ordonne daministrer mon accoustume poure & indigne seruice a tresilustre tresexel-
lent et tresuertueuse dame/ ma dame Mary Dengieterre sa tresentierement bien aymee fille/ la
quelle tresespecialement & estroitement ma comande et encharge de reduire & mectre par
escript la maniere cornent iay procede enuers sesdictz progeniteurs & predecesseurs/ corne
celle aussy par laquelle (ie lay telle quellement) instruit/ et instruis iournellement Ce que
refuser (nonobstant les raisons dessus dictes alleguee) noseroie ne vouldroie/ combien que

soie tresasseure de plus meriter pour & cause de mon obedience/ que par aulcun seruice ou
sacrifice que luy puisse proster (?) accomplissant son tresnoble & gracieuz comandement
gracieux dis ie/ pource que sa beniuolence & bon voulloir est de prouffiter aux aultres come a
elle mesme/pourquoi ie suplie & requier tous lecteurs les causes & raisons dessus dictes
contempleez & considereez mauoir dormy le voulloir par bonne maniere esueiller en corri­
geant les faultes esquelles a cause de ce il est encouru/ ce que faisantz ilz meriteront non
seullement destre loues et prises/ mais aussy en leurs emires et operations taxes & estimes de
maniere reciproque & corespondent


in the 1578 edition)

Th'authour of these short, and small introductions into the Frenche tongue, (right necessarie
to come to the knowledge of the same) praieth all other that bin perfite in these two tongues,
that it would please them to amende his defaultes and errours with all pacience, rather then to
bable against hym. He thinketh his paine to be well spent, if here after any maie take profite
by the same. And farther, that none blame or reprove this saied translation thus made in
Englishe, because that it is a little corrupt: for he hath doen it, for the better and more evident
declaryng of the diversitie of one tongue to th'other: and it is turned almoste woorde for
woorde, and line for line, that it maie be to is yonge scholers more easie and light.


AND AMENDET..., 1572

At first I toke this worke of Maister Huloets in hande (gentle Reader) onelye to enlarge, and
when I had herein passed some paineful time, I perceyved it almost a more easye matter to
make new, then to amende: for there were many such woordes, as eyther served not for the
matter, or were out of use. Yet sith I had taken so much paynes therein, and brought therto
welnighe then a Thousand words and Phrases, I thought not so to lease my labour & forsake
the enterprise, but once againe toke penne in hande, and such woordes as were not sufficient
(by content of authoritye) I eyther displaced, and put farre better in their roumes, or if they
were doubtfull, confirmed by sclender authority, or els served the place but not so fitlye, I
gave them an Asteriske or note in this maner * and in some places if I had better, & yet
thought those would stande, where myne Author wrote the Englishe and not the Latin, filde
those places: so where it was farre out of order, and ill to finde, there have I not without great
paine brought it in, & put too many names of things, yea and somtime their natures, cyting the
booke or Chapter wher I red them & adding therto the Frenche. And for the better attaining to
the knowledge of words, I went not to the common Dictionaries only, but also to the Authors
themselves, and used therein conference with them which wrote particularly of suche things,
as the place requyred. As in herbes I followed the iudgement of Master Turner, Dodoneus,
Pineus, Fuchius and sometime Plinius: In beastes, fishes, and foules, Conradus Gesnerus: In
instrumentes of warre Vegetius: In building Vitruvius: generallye Hadrianus Iunius: In
names of places Ptolomeus: In the nature of wordes Valla & others: In Phrases Thierre out of
which I confesse I have taken a great parte of this Booke, notinge the Phrases wyth S. after the
Frenche, for that Stephanus was the first Author thereof: and finallye I wrote not in the whole
Booke one quyre, without perusinge and conference of many Authors.
Therefore wher you finde in the Booke any of the first letters, of the names above, or the
like: that same standeth for a note of the Authors name, where I found suche Phrase, Frenche,
name, or word as is there placed. And if any shall doubt hereof, let him but conferre Huloet

and this together, and peradventure in one letters lookinge over he shal finde so muche added,
as shall seeme more painful to him in accompte, then I deemed the laboure in doinge it. It
ought to be taken away, be sure it was done, not without some conference with the beste
Authors: the same shal you finde observed in the additions, whiche thinge those that canne
iudge better, and use lesse reprehension shal sooner finde, then those that use more, wyth
lesse and weaker iudgemente. And thoughe the booke needes no explication, sithe it is farre
more easye, as well for the Phrase, as also for the order then it was before, yet for the better
understanding thereof, observe this followinge. Where you finde a verbe withoute this signe
To, before him (which is oure Englishe note of the infinitive mode of al Verbes, (except
Passives) you may adde the signe thereto, as in this Verbe Laye, whre is Laye blame, Laye to
ones charge, Laye in waite, which are in their places so easye for him to understande that
knowes a Verbe from a Nowne, that they neede no exposition: and signifye, To laye blame, To
lay ones charge, To laye in wayte. Yet have I in many places added this signe To before
them, as in Leade, thus: \ To leade one to &c. For where I cannot begin the Phrase with the
word wherin it is, and keepe the order of letter stil in the first front, there begin I the line with
such a Paragraphe, ¶: as in Lye thus, ¶ To tell a lye, ¶ To forge a lye, ¶ To maintaine a lye, ¶
To take one in a lye, ¶ T imagine a lye, and likewise in others. And where ever you find the
Paragraphe, that same is all by mee, added that follwoeth it. Wherefore gentle Reader, ac­
cepte my paynes, as thou wouldest others shoulde (in like case) accepte thine, whiche if I
perceyve, assure thy selfe (or it be longe) to receyve other fruites of my labour that shall profit
thee more.


To the worshipful and towardly yonge Gentilman Maister Robert Sackvill, sonne and heyre to
the honorable the Lorde Buckhurst: Claudius Hollybande wisheth encrease of Honour, lear-
nyng and vertue.

I did not deeme amisse, right worshipfull gentilman, if I thought that to be growynge up in
you, whiche hath alreadie taken roote and sprooted in your honorable father, for even as
children brought into the worlde doo beare the outwarde countenance and shape of them, from
whom they tooke breathe, their life and beyng: so no doubte by the due and certen race of the
planets, or by what destenie I know not, they together with the likenesse of the earthly body
have taken also a similitude or impression of the heavenly soule. By reason wherof, accor-
dyng to the opinion of Euripides and Virgill, the good man bringeth foorth good children, and
the naughtie father unhappy sprigges. Thus with my selfe assuredly perswaded that you were
the true impe, not onely in bodely favour, but most of all in wit, in graciousnesse of minde,
and in good and worthy disposition of nature of suche a noble sier: I thought it good by some
dutifull and honest meane to creepe into your knowledge. And so much the more was I will­
ingly mooved thereunto because I knew my good Lord your father to bee much delighted and
to excell in the varietie of tongues: and beynge good in many, yet hee may iustly complayne
upon the harde learning of the Frenche tongue, wishynge that some, whiche knew more then
other, would take some payne therin. For my parte I am not able to promise adiversitie, but as
every creature hath a distinct voyce appoynted him by nature: so for that whiche I woulde
professe in this booke, I acknowledge my selfe somwhat to bee perfecter then another, whiche
hath neither been bred ne brought up in the countrey of Fraunce.
And as nothing is so hard unto a travailler as naturallie to sound foorth the woords and
tongues of the countrey wherein they caste anker: so when I saw the litle page without anie
precepts, that have been heretofore set in printe to the small furtherance of the knowledge of

the Frenche tongue, and how hee teacheth nothinge concerninge the readinge and pronuncia­
tion of the same, whiche is the chiefest poincte to be considered in that behalfe, and how it
wandered from the true phrase of the language, I supposed it would be proffitable for this
moste florishinge realme of Englande, if a sincere and parfecte annexinge of syllables, wordes,
and sentences were taught, and in what order they ought to be uttred. The which when I had
compiled and framed into so litle a moulde, I devised with my selfe to bestowe on your
worshippe, if you coulde like thereof, that it might be said, I had gotten for my pretie pamphe-
let a profitable patron, yonge: and notable, a Salomon in witte. For if I should have yelden it
to them who are passed, or farre entred in the knowledge of French, I thought by the first sort,
they needed not my travayle, as havinge it ingraffed in their mindes: and by th'other I iudged
it in vaine, concerninge that it were an huge toyle to forget that which was alredy committed
to memorie. These causes have allured mee to dedicate this simple worke unto you, bycause
you are not entred any thinge at all into the language, but are new to learne: not that you shuld
leave of your weightier, and worthier studies in the Universitie, but when your minde is
amazed, and dazled with longe readinge, you may refresh and disport you in learning this
tongue. Wherin I desier you to heare with my bold attempte, meaninge nothinge but your
delight, and comfort against elder Age, and a farther abilitie when God, your Countrey, your
Prince, and Age shall call uppon you, as they have uppon your honorable Father, to accom­
plish their commaundement into the forreyne region. And if I shall understande, that your
Worshippe esteemeth well of this my litle labour, you shall not only increace my good will to
proceede into the deapth of the same language, but also to put to light a more serious, and
more grave matter, alreadie conceaved in my minde, and consecrated unto your most wise and
moste vertuous father. God graunt you may go forward so in tungues learninge, and vertue,
that you may bee a profitable subiect right noble, and after this life obtaine a dwellinge place
amonge the saínctes in heaven.


The Preface to the Reader

Here hast thou (gentle Reader) presented unto thy viewe a playne and direct passage unto the
French tonge: which forsomuch as heretofore it hath bin well allowed of sundry, not unexpert
in the knowledge of the same, and also practised of many unlearned, which thereby have
received great fruite: I have caused the same to be newly corrected and agayne imprinted,
hoping that thou wilt esteme my labour according to my good will: and no otherwise accept
this gift, then the worthiness thereof doth deserve. And although it be in good quantitie but
small that I offer thee: nevertheles the goodnes considered and the profite arising withall,
there is no lesse accompte to bee made thereof, then the Goldsmith maketh of his finer silver
which he valueth, not as it seemeth to greatnes, but as it is worth in price and estimation.
Neyther doe I chalenge hereby greater commendations then have bin given by others, who
employing their gaines and study hereon, have in short space attained a sufficient habilitie,
both to speake and write French. for whereas the learning of the French tonge consisteth on
these two pointes, true pronuntiation, and proprietie of phrase, for pronuntiation in this worke
are contained brief rules, wherein if the learner occupieth him self, he shall nede no more to
make him a perfect utterer of the speach, saving onely a little labour and leasure bestowed in
the company and hearing of some Frenche man, without which no booke can throughlie in­
struct him. As for the forme of speach which is called the Phrase, herein are to be founde
store of examples of all sortes, which will guide him rightly to the same, if they be hedefullie
marked. As touching idle curiositie of some who glorying in their tonge doe niserte their

workes with such nedeles stuffe as doth, confound the witte of the learner, and by reason of the
difficultie thereof doeth enforce him to spende more tyme thereon then a willing witte would
on the Latine, I have avoyded the same, remembring that plaines in writing is the readiest way
for understanding.



A playne Treatise to learnein a short space the Frenche tongue.

There be two and twenty letters in the French tongue, the which wee will expounde after the
order of the crosse row, having first made to be understanded how they ought to be pro­
nounced every one by itselfe, then ioyned with others in any woorde: and afterwardes, when
they doe keepe theyr sounde, and when they doe lose it, or chaunge it, for herein consisteth all
the difficultie of the tongue, my respect in this worke is to straungers and especially to En-
glishe men, for whome I write, which marveyle (& not without cause) for that often times we
doe not sounde out letters, according to their owne nature, but doe chaunge them into another
sounde, and sometime we doe not onely so alter them, but leave them unsounded even as if
they were not written. First therefore they must presuppose that it is the nature of the tongue
as of many other, and also of their owne, and they maye not denie it, for experience doth shew
it, I will not say in some wordes but almost in all, and yet they can yelde no other reason for
it, than use. But I do hope in this my Treatise to do more concerning our tongue, not for to
prayse or extoll it, but to endeavour to satisfie them, that are so desirous to learne it, and to
sterte them up the rather so to doe, for that hereby my minde is (with the grace of God) to
teach them: and I will yelde them a reason, why this letter here is sounded and that letter
there is not, and why a letter is pronounced in one place, and not another, & also by what
reason this letter here is rather sounded with that letter there, then with another, and to con­
clude I wíl omitte nothing (if I can) that may be profitable & necessarie for Englishmen to
know forthwith, to reade well, to pronounce, and speake Frenche. For I will applie my selfe
to them and to resolve the doubts that they may moove, wherof oftentimes I have reasoned
wyth certayne, whome I dyd so answere, that for the moost part I contented them: in so much
that already knowing some part of their mind of this matter, it will bee the easier for me to
make them understand it, conferring herein their tongue with ours, and giving them examples
thereof, for thereby the matter shall be unto them more & more manifested, which being done,
I shall thinke therein to have much eased many that were so loden with difficulties and doubts
(that they did see in our Frenche Grammars, that they were constrayned to gyve over and
leave all: yea seeing them selves deceyved by thier Teachers who promissed unto them
mountaynes of golde, and made them believe their tongue was so obscure as none coulde be
more, but with the labour and industrie, that they shoulde take, they would make it easie for
them: and all this came to nothing, and yet to a very great thing, considering the harme and
tediousnesse that the learners receyved thereof. Likewyse I trust I shal againe encourage
those that were in the way to learne it, the which I wishe with all my hart: For I desire nothing
else in the worlde but the profite and furtherance of everyone, and the rather bycause it is a
deede of charitie, of the which the Heathen also have had some naturall instinct, as may be
seene by their bookes, that they have lefte unto us in writing, where they all crie with one
accorde, that we are not onely borne for our selves, but for our Parents, for our Countrey, and
for all those that doe us good, & that shew themselves charitable unto us. Now of dewtie I
ought to procure the profit of them of this Countrey, for the great benefits that we doe receyve
of them, & let no man thinke that I do set forth this for any other occasion, that is to say, for

lucre or any other vayne thing, for he should be much deceaved, & also I woulde accuse him
of the same vice. For even as he that hath his mouth out of taste, thinketh that every thing that
he eateth is also evi'' savouring and corrupted, even so it is of those that delight to reprehende
other, which they never coulde doe except they were stuffed and defiled, yea rotten with
vices, which they wo'de cast (if they coulde) upon others. Therefore I pray them to leave of
such fopperies, for so they may be called, and let them bestowe their tyme in goodnesse, if
they will that men esteeme of them, as they woulde be esteemed of. As touching the rest, if
their perverse nature will needs be occupyed in such their biting actions, the truth wil byte
them so hard, that their good name shall first feele the same and will make them to be cut with
their owne sworde. For that which mooved me to take this matter in hande, was the great love
and affection that I beare to English men, and also the request of many Lords and Gentelmen,
wyth whome I have spent much tyme, being conversant and communicating with them, of the
pronunciation of our tongue, so that I durst not say them naye, although I have not beene
much trayned up in theyr tongue. But they have promysed me, that if I doubted of any worde,
touching the conferring of their tongue with ours, or in this translation, that they woulde ayde
me. So that resting upon their aide, and favour, I dyd not then doubt to enterprise this little
Treatise. And as concerning our tongue, if I doe not observe all thinges as I shoulde, neyther
yet content the students, as I would, the blame must not be layde on me, seeing that not I
alone, but all those that have written of it, have not comprehended the forth part of our tongue
in rules or precepts: Notwithstanding that which I coulde not doe, as I woulde, I have recom-
penced by labour as you shall see hereafter in the order that I keepe, as well in the expounding
of every letter, as in the knowledge of woordes, to weete, of what part of speache they are.
But afore we come to the understanding of the woordes, wee must speake of the letters, of
which the woordes are formed: to the end that having the nature of the simple, we may more
easily come to the compoundes, as from letters, to syllables, & from syllables, to woordes,
and from wordes to speaches. therefore willing to expounde first the letters, we must of
nature and reason begin at, A, for it is the first in order, and for to see the same cleerely I will
write all our two & twentie letters in this maner.


When I had compiled and put to light the French scholemaster (worshipful Gentilman) I gath
ered & framedtherinconfusedly, and as it were at randon certaine rules for the learner of the
French tongue: knowing not then, to what ende or successe my labour shoulde attaine. But
seing my travaill therein (contrary to my expectation) to be liked of, both by the nobilitie and
meane estate of this stonshing Realme: I was thereby encouraged to proceede towarde the
fulfilling of my former promise: namely to devise and publish some apter methode & easier
way, whereby the english nation myght knowe & see the depthe of the Frenche language:
which methode and way, I have published, by and in the name of the frenche Littelton. That
as everie student applying himself to the knowledge of the lawes of this Realme, doth
commonly travail in the booke called Litteltons tenures, to learne at his first entrie the
grounde of the Law for the matter therein handled: so everie persone purposing to have any
understanding of the frenche tongue myght (for his first labour, and as his readiest way to
come to the knowledge of the ground of the same tongue) beginne with this present booke,
which according to the counsaill of that worthie Gentilman, Maister Onsley warden of the
fleete, I have caused to be printed in this small volume, that it might be easier to be caried by
any man about him. wherein also I have qualified the great strife betwene them that woulde
have our tongue written after the auntient orthographie, and those that do take away many
letters as superfluous in writing: in such sorte as I have (as I trust) pleased both the parties.

The one hathe all the letters according to the olde custome: the other hath all those, that he
thinketh superaboundant, marked by a speciali marke: which be these, b, c, d, e, f, &c. But in
what error they are which will have nay letters left out, these reasons may shewe. First the
orthographie sheweth the derivation of the diction: Secondly it serveth for the quantitie:
Thirdly for the learning of the straunger: Fourthly for a full pronounciation, when the reader
hath occasion to breath, or stope at the midest of the member or sentence: last of all for the
auntient monumentes written so many yeares past, which coulde not be understode hereafter if
the writing were altred. All the reasons I have more at large expressed, and by examples
made evident in a book De pronunciatione linguae Gallicae, which I intend to sett forth short­
ly. Now to the intent that all the studentes of the frenche tongue, may yelde unto your wor­
ship everlasting thankes, as well for the invention & division of this booke, as for their instru-
citon in our tongue: I have thought good to set here in fewe words, the order of their studies
in this language.
The yong learner, and every other persone intending to learne the same language, forsa-
kinge all other thornie and unapte bookes, shall first frame his tongue by the reading of this
worke, as his most easie way to profit in his studie therin: marking diligently the orthographie
and the letters noted (the reason why they are lefte, is shewen by the rules of the pronuncia­
tion) that when he shall happen unto other bookes printed without these caracteres, he may
remember which letters ought to be uttered, and whiche ought not. Here the cavillation of
some ignorantes prevaile but a littell saying, that the learner is new to seeke, when he cometh
to a boke without such markes: wherby measuring other mens wit accordinge to their owne,
they thinke that when they be from their accidence, they be out of contenaunte: but the expe­
rience sheweth me daily the contrary: for my scholars are so farre to pronounce such letters
which ought not, that when they heare any newe scholar comminge to me from other french
scholes, & pronouncing any letter otherwise then it should be, they spie the faulte as soone as
I, yea they cannot abide it: and which is more, they will discerne whether the maister, which
taught them first, was a Burgonion, a Norman, or a Houyvet.
Afterward let the learner reade halfe a score chapters of the new testament, because it is
both easie and profitable: then let him take in hand any of the workes of Monsieur de Launay,
otherwise called Pierre Boaystuau, as the best and most eloquent writer of our tongue.
His workes be le theatre du monde, the tragicall histories, the prodigall histories, Slei-
dans commentaries in frenche be excellently translated: Philippe de Commins, when he is
corrected, is very profitable and wise. Thus most humblely beseechinge your worshipe to
accept the patronage of this my labour, I wishe unto your [worship] all honour and felicitie.


About eighteene yeeres agone, having pupils at Cambridge studious of the Latine tongue, I
used them often to write Epistles and Theames together, and dailie to translate some peece of
English into Latine, for the more speedie and easie attaining of the same. And after we had a
little begun, perceiving what great trouble it was to come running to me for everie worde they
missed, (knowing then of no other Dictionarie to helpe us, but Sir Thomas Eliots Librarie,
which was come out a little before:) I appointed them certaine leaves of the same booke
everie daie to write the English before the Latin, & like wise to gather a number of fine
phrases out of Cicero, Terence, Caesar, Livie, &c. & to set them under severall titles, for the
more readie finding them againe at their neede. Thus within a yeere, or two, they had gath­
ered together a great volume, which, (for the apt similitude betweene the good Scholers and
diligent Bees in gathering their waxe and honie into their Hive) I called then their Alvearie,
both for a memoriall, by whom it was made, and also by this name to incourage other to the

like diligence, for that they should not see their worthie praise for the same, unworthilie
drowned in oblivion. Not long after, divers of our friends borrowing this our worke which we
had thus contrived & wrought onelie for our owne private use, often and many waies moved
me to put it in print for the common profit of others, and the publike propagation of the Latine
tongue, or els to suffer them to get it printed at their proper costes and charges. But I both
unwilling, and halfe ashamed to have our rude notes come abroad under the view of so manie
learned eies, & especiallie finding no leasure from my prefixed studies for the polishing of the
same utterlie denied their request, untill at length comming to London, the right worshipfull
Maister Powle, & Maister Garth, with other, singular favourers of all good learning, and my
verie especiall friends, with their importunate and earnest exhortations had cleane overcome
my contrarie mind. Then immediatelie laieng aside all other studies, I was faine to seeke for
writers and workemen about the same, to make it readie for the Presse. Therefore I went to
divers of mine old pupils then being at the Innes of Court, delivering ech of them in some part
of their old discontinued worke to see it written faire againe, and for other peeces which I
thought unperfect. I gat certain of the best Scholers of two or three Schooles in London, to
write after my prescription: but in the french Tables, although I had before travelled in divers
countries beyond the seas, both for language and learning: yet not trusting to mine owne skill,
I used the helpe of M. Chaloner and M. Claudius. Upon this occasion I being much conver­
sant about the Innes of Court, and also sometime occupied among Scholers in the Schooles,
there came unto me a Printer shewing me Huloets Dictionarie (which before I never sawe) and
told me he intended to print it out of hand, augmented with our notes also if I would. But this
bargaine went not forward with him for divers causes which here it were to long to reherse.
And surelie had not the right honourable Sir Thomas Smith knight & principall Secretarie to
the Queenes Maiestie, that noble Theseus of learning, and comfortable Patrone to all Students,
and the right worshipfull M. Nowell Deane of Pawles, manie waies encouraged me in this
wearie worke (the charges were so great, and the losse of my time so much grieved me) I had
never bene able alone to to have wrestled against so manie troubles, but long ere this had
cleane broken off our worke begun, and cast it by for ever.
Now therefore (gentle Reader) looke not to finde in this booke everie thing whatsoever
thou wouldest seeke for, as though all things were here so perfect that nothing lacked, or were
possible to be added hereunto. But if thou maiest onelie find here the most wordes that thou
needest, or at the least so manie as no other Dictionarie yet extant, or made hath the like, take
then I saie in good part this our simple Alvearie in the meane time, and geve God the praise
that first moved me to set my pupils on worke thereabout, and so mercifullie also hath
strengthened us (thus as it is) at length to atchieve and finish the same.
1 For such wordes as you doubt to be false printed in this booke, turne to the same wordes
in the Table, and there you shall find them true.
2 In the Tables you shall find fewe hard wordes lacking that are in anie other Dictionarie.
And as forcommon easie woordes, as Ego, Tu, Et, Si, &c and Participles also, as Ambulans,
Currens, &c I thought it not meete to stuffe this booke with them, or with old obsolet wordes,
which now adaies no good writer will use.
3 I have couched manie wordes together both in the booke, and Tables for brevitie sake.
But you shall find everie word of the Tables placed in the booke, within two or three lines,
over or under that you looke for in the same Title.
4 As for the Greke, although everie word be not exactly annexed to the taile of the Latine:
yet notwithstanding, we have done our diligence, with what faithfulnesse we could, to let
none, or verie fewe escape.
5 This character, or figure of a hande, scattered here and there, throughout the whole
body of this booke, as the fitnesse of the place required, offereth unto thee the understanding

of the meaning of one, or other auncient Proverbe, borrowed from the Greekes and the La-
6 The figures in the margent shewe how manie single wordes are declined under everie
title. And if perchance you find not among them sufficient to satisfie you about the matter
you seeke for, then marke what word you find for the same English among the Phrases, and
turne to the Tables to knowe where to find it fullie englished and declined.
7 Adiect. noteth a word Adiectivelie taken: Substant. Substantivelie used: Part. Participial-
lie taken: Adverb. Adverbiallie used: Imper. Impersonallie taken. Use and exercise shall
make thee cunning in everie circumstance.
8 Pen.corr. standeth for Penultima correpta, when the last syllable save one is short, or
without anie rising and lifting of the voice at the same, but rather at some other syllable before
it, as Dominus. And for penultima producta, when it is long, as Urtica, with such a
little strike, or accent commonlie over that vowell, where the voice riseth in pronouncing of it.
9 Where you see Vide, it sendeth you to some such place there named, where you may find
more concerning that Title, or word which you looke for, if you be not satisfied with the first.
And this devise I used for brevitie sake, because I would not write one thing twise, for in­
creasing the volume and price of the booke in vaine. But if you see no Vide, then marke what
english word is mentioned like in meaning to that which you seeke, and looke more in the
Title thereof. Now, if Students desire anie more Phrases beside them which here we have
gathered, they may themselves like diligent Bees here place such as they reade in good
Authors, under their proper Titles, or in the margent of this Booke, for their owne private use
against they shall neede.



As the builder is not worthie of praise having never so well laide the foundation of his house,
except he raise up the walles and covereth the whole with a competent frame and reasonable
roofe: so I iudged in my french worke, (whose principall is the right pronunciation shewen
unto thee in my bookes de pronuntiatione linguae Gallicae, for the learned in the Latin
tongue: and in my frenche Litelton, for th'unlearned) that it wanteth two partes of the whole
building, which now I do applie to my grounde worke, that is the declining of Verbes with the
applying of their tenses, & a frenche and englishe Dictionarie beautified with divers & fitte
phrases, which came out the last weeke. Now thy parte will be, gentle Reader, that in reading
of thy french Auctors, to intermedie the declining of Verbes, and in thy speache to applie the
tenses and persones in their due places: this, I must needes confesse, commeth by use and
exercise, considering we have nothing without labour and travaill, although the matter be
never se easie. I would therfore wishe thee to leame by hearte these two first Verbes, I Have,
and I Am, as the healpers in declining of th'other verbes: but chiefely the whole Indicative
moode, as the springe of all other moodes and tenses. The reste will be knowen by perusing
this litle worke. Fare thou well, and proceede in this learning as I do wishe thee.


To the right worshipfull Maister Thomas Egerton Esquier Soliscitor Generall to the Queenes
Maiesty of England lames Bellot gentleman of Caen in Normandy, health.

There bee some holding this opinion, that the most expedient, & certaine way to attaine to the

knowledge of tongues is to learne them without any observation of rules: But cleane contrary
I doe thinke that he which is instructed in any tongue what so ever by the one\y roate, is like
unto the Byrd in a cage, which speaketh nothing but that which is taught unto him and (which
is much worse) not understanding that which he sayth, because he is voyde of all foundation
of good & certaine doctrine: and these Instructors without rules, may be well compared to
those builders, which (looking not to the profit of them which doe set them to worke, but to
their own lucre, & peculiar profit) doe plant their buildinges, not upon the stable and assured
ground, but upon the movable and Insolide sand: Or if so be that their building be founded
upon the rock in a solyde land: It is (nevertheles) with so simple foundation & fermety, that
the least storme which may happen unto it, shaketh, and turneth it up side downe: And be­
cause the better and faithfuller mean to instruct in any tongue what so ever, Is to give by cer­
taine rules, the knowledge thereof unto them which are desirous of the same, to the ende they
may be the better framed, and the sounder conducted in the same: I knowing the French
tongue to be now a dayes required of many, And finding yet thereof (to my iudgement) no
rules sufficient enough to attaine the knowledge of the same, I have stolen certaine houres
from my ordinary labour, the which I have employed to the weaving (for the contentment of
those that are desirous of the French tongue, though it be rustically) of this litle Methode, of
the which I have emboldened my selfe to make them partakers, under the favour of your
authoritie, to whom I dedicate the same: Most humbly beseeching you to receave it accept­
ably: And in so doing, you shall increase in me this affection whereby I am to yeelde unto
you all humble service, and you shall give me an occasion to take in hand worke of greater
waight, to render it into your hands: Thus I pray God, Syr, to graunt you in good health, long
life, and a most blessed encrease of honourable degrees, in true, & perfite felicitie.


A tres-illustre et tres-heroique le Sieur Henry Walloppe Chevalier, & Tresorior General de sa

Serenissime Maiesté en Irelande.

Monsieur, le principal but où doibvent viser toutes nos actions, est d'avoir plus d'esgard au
bien publicq; qu'à nostre propre utilité. Et combien que tous ne soyent suffisans de profiter en
choses grandes, ils ne doibvent neantmoins avoir honte de s'employer es petites. Car comme
il n'y a membre, qui pour quelque excellence qu'il puisse avoir, ne paye tribut de servitute au
corps, dont il est une partie: aussi n'y a il nul (s'il n'est du tout monstre en nature) qui ne
vueille ou doibve procurer, en tout ce qui luy sera possible, I'advancement du Corps de la
Republique, dont luy mesme est un membre. A ceste cause, encore que le flambeau ardant de
la guerre civile, qui maintenant consume nostre pauvre France, ait tellement bruslé les aisles
de mes Estudes, & rompu le col à ma fortune, qu'il ma du tot desrobé les moyens de luy faire
quelque bon service: toutesfois ie n'ay voulu vivre du tout inutile, sinon, à ma patrie, au
moins, à ceux, qui au lieu d'icelle m'ont aymé, embrassé, & chery. Estant doncq refugié à
l'ombre favorable du Sceptre de sa Serenissime Maiesté, qui est le vray port de retraicte, &
asyle asseuré de ceux, qui faisans profession de l'Evangile, souffrent ores persecution soubs la
Tyrannie de  Antichrist, i'ay tasché, de tout mon pouvoir, de faire en sorte par mes labeurs,
que ceste Noble Nation, qui maintenant nous sert de mere & de nourrice, peust tirer quelque
proffit d'iceux, afin que par ce moyen ie peusse eviter le vice enorme d'ingratitude, vice
autant detestable, que I'hospitalité, & largesse est louable. Or entre toutes les belles, & rares
vertus, dont la Noblesse Angloise se rend tant renommée par tout le monde, admirée des
Estrangiers, & honorée en son païs, est l'Estude des bonnes lettres, & cognoissance des

langues, qui leur sont si familieres & communes, qu'il sen trouve peu parmy eux non seule­
ment entre les Seigneurs, & Gentilshommes, qui n'en parlent trois ou quatre pour le moins,
mais aussi entre les Dames, & Damoiselles, exercice veritablement louable, par lequel toute
vertu s'honore & se rend immortelle, & sans lequel nulle autre n'est parfait, ny digne d'estre
aucunement estimé. Or c'est ce qui, outre la singuliere affection, que naturellement ils portent
aux estrangiers, & la grande courtoisie, dont ils ont accoustumé de les traicter, leur fait faire
tant d'estat des François, si bien qu'il y en a fort peu, qui n'en ait un avec soy. Ce qui m'a
esmeu, voyant nostre Nation leur estre redevable, de leur faire (pour l'obligation de mon
particulier) ce petit Traicté, que i'ay intitulé, The French Alphabet, par lequel i'espere qu'ils
trouveront cy apres la langue Françoise aussi aisée à prononcer, que cy devant ils l'estimoyent
mal aisée & difficile. Ie m'en rapporte neantmoins (Monsieur) à ce meur & sain iugement,
dont avec la balance de la raison, vous avez accoustumé de peser iustement de toutes choses,
vous, dy-ie, à qui la langue Françoise est aussi naturelle, que la vostre propre. C'est pourquoy
ie prens la hardiesse de luy faire voir le iour soubs vostre nom, m'asseurant que si vous daig­
nez le couvrir du manteau de vostre accoustumée faveur, & le prendre en vostre protection,
les griffes de l'envie ne le pourront aucunement offencer. Et ce qui m'a esmeu de le vous
dedier plustost qu'a nul autre, est que des il y a trois ans passe, que i'eu cest honneur d'estre
cogneu de vous, & que de vostre grace il vous pleut de me faire tant de faveur de me donner
acces en vostre maison, par le moyen de Monsieur Henry Walloppe, vostre fils aisné, qui
suyvant les glorieuses traces de vos heroïques vertus, se fait par les belles parties, qui sont en
luy, non seulement aymer d'un chacun, mais aussi donne esperance à tous de produire des
souaves fleurs du Printemps de sa douce ieunesse, de beaux, & savoureux fruicts de la vertu, à
l'honneur, & gloire de Dieu, au service loyal de son Prince, & au bien, & profit de sa patrie, ie
vey reluyre en vous tant d'estincelles de l'ancienne & vraye Noblesse, & depuis en ay de plus
en plus remarqué tant d'effects, que i'ay pensé ne luy pouvoir choisir plus favorable parrain.
Ie vous supplie donc affectueusement de l'avoir pour aggreable, &luy faire aussi bon accueil
que tres-humblement ie le vous presente, donc ie ne fay aucune doubte, veu qu'entre les
vertus, qui vous font respecter de tous en general, & honorer d'un chacun en particulier, la
singuliere douceur & mansuetude, qui vous accompagne, & vous rend si affectionné aux
Estrangers, & specialement aux François m'en asseure. Et en cest endroit, ie prieray Dieu.


Claudius Holliband, to the Students of the French tongue.

Having alreadie (gentle Reader) for thine ease and facilitie in attaining of our French tongue,
set foorth my Bookes De pronunciatione linguae gallicae, & French Littleton, whereby I have
opened the way to all sorts as well learned as unlearned, for the perfect reading and pronunci­
ation thereof: and yet perceiving thy want and indigence of a sufficient meane for the under­
standing of the same, I have now for thy further availe, published this my present worke,
whereby for the most part, thou maiest be satisfied. For besides that Î have expounded all the
hard words by divers and sundrie examples, Í have furthermore given thee the Theame and
principallTenses of all our most difficult Verbes. I call the Theame, speaking to the unskil-
full in the Latin tongue, whereby we begin to decline a Verbe, as by example: In other Dic-
tionaries thous hast onely the Infinitive moode of any Verbe, as Aimer, to love: Vouloir, to will
or to be willing: Lire, to reade, Fuir to run away: and yet for all that thou art not much the
wiser, because thou knowest not how to begin in the present tense, so that thou canst say in
French, to love, Aimer: but thou doest travaile to say, I love, thou lovest, I have loved, read,
taught, I shall or will goe, sleepe, play, walke, &c. And behold, hers Î delivering thee out of

such perplexitie, doe set it very plainly before thine eyes, thus: First I doe specifie the Infini­
tive moode, Parler, to speake: Courir, to run: and straightway I shewe the present tense of
the Indicative, which is je parle, I doe speake: then followeth the first perfect tense, je parlay,
I spake: thirdly, the second perfect, j ' ay parlé, I have spoken: Last of all the future tense, je
parleray, I shal or will speake: so that thine order goeth thus: to speake: then thou beginnest, I
speake, I spake, I have spoken, I shall or will speake: and so thou must iudge of the rest: so
that having all these tenses, thou maiest easily decline any verbe through all moodes and
tenses, because all the rest are derived and formed of those which be here specified in this
Dictionarie, as from their head spring, and yet to ease thee the better in this thy labour, I have
put forth to light a little worke, called A Treatise of Verbes: so that having here thy chiefest
Tenses, and in that Pamphlet the examples of all the Coniugations declined at length through
all the moodes and tenses, with the Heteroclites: ioyning these three workes togither, that is
the French Littleton, or my sayd booke De Pronuncitatione, this Dictionarie, & my Treatise
of Verbes, thou shalt have occasion, I trust, taking my labour in good part, to give me thankes.
Furthermore, I advise thee to make a difference betweene this, j , which is a consonant, and the
other i, common: likewise of this, v in the middest of the word, least thou shouldest pro­
nounce it as this u, being a vowell: and that thous looke not for the theame and tenses of all
Verbes, whose Infinitive doe end in er, as enseigner, bailler, because they be the easiest to be
found of all the rest: for having the Infinitive moode, one may finde the present tense, by
taking away r, as of marcher, trencher, you say,je marche, I goe: je trenche, I doe cut: and all
whose declining you may frame by these two Verbes Abandonner and Abbayer, which you
shall finde at the first page of this booke: which cannot be sayd of Verbes whose Infinitive
doe end in oir, re, or ir: the which for the most part, have a speciali or particular forming of
their Theame and Tenses. Finally our learner shall knowe our three genders, thus: the Mascu­
line gender is knowne by this letter, m: the Feminine by/: the Common of two, com. But why
doe I keepe thee so long, seeing that all these difficulties be made easie by our sayd Treatise
of Verbes? Take then, these our labours to thy furtherance, praying the Lord so to blesse thy
studies, that it may redound to his honour and glorie, and the commoditie of the Common-


To the Gentlemen Readers, students of the French tongue, Io. Eliot salutation.

My loving Countrimen, you that be students of this famous language, and desire nothing more
than the sweet fruition thereof, which if you might be sure to attaine speedily, ye would spare
no small cost, nor refuse any reasonable paines, Two things I know you will request at my
hands before I go any further: first, that I should dilate in some good speeches, the dignitie of
the French tongue, whose praises if I should repeat from the beginning, a floud of Eloquence
would not suffice: but I will be breefe, and it shall content you onely to know,that it is a
Courtly speech, spoken and understood by most Princes, Noble-men, and Gentlemen in all
parts of Christendome, because still the finest wits delight to read bookes of State, Pollicie,
Marciall discipline, Phisicke, Humanitie, Historie, Divinitie, and a number of most rare spirits
have written thereof in French. Some are given to read Poësies & Love-toies, the sweetest
that are to be read are in French, pend by Bartas, Marot, Ronsard, Belleau, de Portes, and
divers other wits inimitable in Poësie: some to follow armes and the conduct of warre, the
French is the onely tongue for the Marcialist: others to trafficke with the stranger, the French
is the onely trading tongue in Europe. and againe, if we marke well the scituation of Fraunce,
it lyeth in the very heart of Christiantie, and thither are sent Embassadours from al other

quarters of Europe, from England, Scotland, Pole-land, Constantinople, Italie, Barbarie,

Spaine, Netherland, Germanie, Agents from Malta, Rhodes, Sicilie, & from the Seigniorie of
Venice, the Popes Noncio from Rome: and the French, they have their Lidgers, Agents, &
Embassadours with all these States againe, beside the greatest trafficke and entercourse of
merchants from all these parts, and the recourse of the French trading with them all againe,
maketh their language very famous, and in very high request and estimation.
Secondly you will desire me to shew you what ease this booke of mine shall bring to the
learning of the French, more than other bokes have done heretofore. You must understand
that the greatest difficultie which doth hinder our English Nacion from the speedie attaining
of this language, is the true and naturall pronounciation: for to helpe and ease the which, after
the example of some learned French, but especially of two, lames Pelletier, that whetstone of
wit, and Peter Ramus that glorious starre of Arts and Sciences, who invented many new let­
ters for the reducing of their mother tongue the French, into a more easie and true characterie.
I have sounded the French by our English Alphabet, & by two sundrie methods enterlaced the
naturali accent and true pronounciation, to the end that any may more easily hereafter find it
out of himselfe.
Mine invention is this: First I have set downe absolute and breefe rules of pronouncia­
2 Secondly I have added to six chapters the true pronounciation of every word wholly,
and have put certaine little strikes (called approches) betweene the sillables that are to bee
spoken roundly and glib with one breath, which helpe for the volubilitie and swift roling of
the speech, one of the greatest graces thereof.
3 Thirdly I have annexed collaterally the English value of al difficult French letters,
vowels, dipthongues, & tripthongues, with their true sound by our English letters.
4 Fourthly, I have written the whole booke in a merrie phantisticall vaine, and to con­
firme and stir up the wit and memorie of the learner, I have diversified it with varietie of
stories, no lesse authenticall than the devises of Lucians dialogues: as of the Larke and her
note of Tee-ree-lee-ree: the Nightingale and her aubade: the Spider and the Spideresse her
daughter: the Seigneur Valerian, and his beso las manos: the terrible Vespasian and his cut­
ting and slashing: the Seignior Cocodrill, and his martiall Rhetoricke, with many other phan­
tisticall plaisanteries to delight, not to dull your spirits. These are profound and deepe myster­
ies I may tell you, and very worthie the reading, and suche as I thinke you have not had per­
formed in any other boke that is yet extant.
It followeth then next, that I set downe the Reader a good course to take some fruit of
this my booke, which if he will learne, he must get the true meaning of the French, conferring
it word for word with the English, and when he hath so conferred it, that in reading he doth
understand the French well, let him begin after one months progresse a little and a little to lay
his hande on the French to hide it, and looking only on the English, and if he misse, let him
revise and correct himselfe still by his booke, till he be perfect and get some habit of the
tongue that way. This I have learned by long experience to be the readiest way to attaine the
knowledge of any language, for that we of Englishmen make French, and not of French learne
Gentlemen I propounded unto you in my Scholier, a generall methode of learning and
teaching all languages, contrived by Nature and Art, the which doth hold with the rule of
lustice only, and is conformable to the precepts of Aristotle the father of Art, and sonne of
Nature. And except that onely methode, none can be true: but the dispute thereof belongeth
not to this place. I will dilate it more at large in a booke in Latine, De Natura & Arte linguae
Gallicae, which you shall by gods grace have so speedily as I may, imprinted.
In the meane time these two methods I thinke shall be needfull for all yong schollers,

who are troubled with the difficulties of the French pronounciation, which indeed is an intri­
cate thing, and for any English at the first or second sight irremarkeable. and that thou mayest
have a view thereof, come nether gentle Reader, I pray thee cast an eye after the Table of my
booke, looke a little, see what a dish of rare dainties there is for thee. Those are the difficul­
ties of the French pronounciation.
Doest thou see what a sea, what a gulfe, there is? Thou hadst neede of Theseus thread to
guide thee out of that Labyrinth. Tel me I pray thee, what device thou wilt have to helpe thee
here. It must needs be some new mysterie, some happie invention that shall stand thee in
steed, for in all those vowels & letters that thou seest, the French differ from themselves, and
from us English in many more, so that I thinke reckon up all the Tongues that thou hast ever
in thy life heard talke of, Hebrew, Caldean, Syriacke, Arabian, Greeke, Sclavon, Russe,
Tartarian, Turkish, Moresko, Latine, Italian, Spanish, English, Dutch, amongst all these find
not amore ticklish tongue to pronounce, then the French, yet deemed such a iewel, so dearely
bought, and so much desired of all. This is then the best ease that I can do thee gentle Reader.
I have brought that gulfe of difficulties into this narrow spring, and contrived that maze within
this little modele, whereof in a few letters I make thee demonstration in the margin. This is
the demonstration of my last method, this is my easiest Art, this is my best skill and last
I present you then loving countrimen both ther French counterfeit and the English co­
lours, you that be Englishmen censure favourably of an Englishmans imperfections, for this
picture was painted in hast, and many faults have passed the pen and the print, yet have I gone
as nigh as I could aime, or so neare as any English colours might imitate, or else I am double
deceived in my ayme and my colours both. And if any French will paint this peece better, the
pensill is at his gentle commaund, for I assure you I had some paine to make our English
hybber-gybber iump iust with the Iargon of Fraunce.
And if any one say that I have plowed with other mens heighfars, answer for me in mine
absence, Countrimen, and when I am present, I will answer for my selfe: The truth is I turned
over some few French authors, and where I espied any pretie example that might quicken the
capacitie of the learner, I presumed to make a peece of it flie this way, to set together the
frame of my fantasticall Comedie, pulling here a wing from one, there an arme from another,
from this a leg, from that a buttocke, and out of every one I had some share for the better
ornament of my worke. And to the end to defraud no man of his glory, I will tell you by
whome I have best profited: I have taken a few pleasant conceits out of Francis Rabelais that
merrie Grig, an example or two out of Lewis Vives, a score or two of verses out of Bartasius:
and put all together that I have bought, begd, or borrowed, it will not all amount to make two
sheets of printed paper, and I cannot denie but the rest is of mine owne invention and disposi­
I see well my preface is too long: to conclude, I will be breefe, and shake you straight by
the hands, but because here are three or foure asses, I shall shake them first by the eares: here
is a French tucke for thee Timon of Athens, here is a dash in the lips for thee Diogene, dog
Cynopean, for thee Momiu a mew, a zest for thee Zoylus, and for all Sycophants that carrie
that in their tongues, that the glystering Glow-worme hath in her venemous tayle, that is fire
to set mens fame on fire; a fig, a flie, a fillip: let them do their worst, for I have done my best,
and here I turne all such asses to grasse together, till I find them out another time by their long
eares. Gentle readers and courteous countrimen, tis time that I kisse your courteous hands. So
fare you well.


1. Manuscripts of the Middle Ages


Oxford AU Souls 182

Oxford Bodleian Digby 172
Oxford Magdalen College 188
Cambridge E.e. IV 20 (Ed. by Skeat, 1903)
Cambridge D.d. 12.23
British Library Stowe 57
British Library Cotton Julius D VII (Excerpt published in Wright & Halliwell, 1841.33)
British Library Cotton Galba E IV (Ed. by Förster, 1902)
British Library Harley 978 (Excerpt published in Wright & Halliwell, 1841.36-38)
Simpson, private collection (Ed. by Baker, 1989)

Manière de langage

Oxford All Souls 182 (Ed. by Stengel, 1878)

Oxford Bodleian Library Lat. Misc. E.93
Cambridge University Library Dd. 12.23
Cambridge University Library I.i.6.17 (Ed. by Södergård, 1953)
Cambridge Trinity College B.14.40
British Library Harley 3988 (Ed. by Meyer, 1873)
British Library Additional 17716
Paris Bibliothèque nationale, nouvelles acquisitions latines 699
Simpson, private collection (Ed. by Baker, 1989)

Walter de Bibbesworth's Treatise1

Cheltenham, Thirlestaine House 8336

Ed. by Annie Owen, 1929; for the many mistakes contained in that edition, see Bell 1962
and Rothwell 1982. Wright (1843:78-84) provides a list of the glosses from one of the
Cambridge manuscripts, corrected by consulting the British Library Arundel manuscript.
Wright (1882:142-174) edited the British Library Arundel 220 manuscript, collating it with
British Library Sloane 809. A new edition, edited by Rothwell, is promised soon by the
Anglo-Norman Text Society, in the Plain Texts Series.

Oxford Bodleian, Seiden Supra 74

Oxford All Souls 182
Cambridge Trinity College 0.2.21
Cambridge Trinity College B.14.39 (Ed. under the title Femina by W. A. Wright, 1909)
Cambridge Corpus Christi 450
Cambridge University Library G.g.I.I
British Library Royal 13 A IV
British Library Sloane 513
British Library Harley 740
British Library Harley 490
British Library Sloane 809
British Library Arundel 220
British Library Cotton, Vespasian A IV

Treatise on Conjugations

Cambridge R.3.56 (Ed. by Södergård, 1955)

British Library Harley 4971

Orthographia Gallica2

British Library Additional 17716 (Ed. by Pope 1910)

British Library, Harley 4971 (/.v.; ed. by Stiirzinger 1884)
British Library, Harley 4993 (s.v.; incomplete)
Warminster Longleat House 37 (/.v.; see Arnold 1937)
Oxford, Magdalen 188 (/.v.; ed. by Stiirzinger 1884)
Oxford AU Souls 182 (Ed. by Stengel 1878)
Oxford Bodleian Rawlinson  507 (s.v.)
Cambridge, University Library Dd.12.23
Cambridge, University Library Ee.4.20 (/.v.; ed. by Stiirzinger 1884)
Cambridge, University Library Gg.6.44
Cambridge Corpus Christi 335 (s.v.)
British Library, Sloane 513 (l.v.)
Trinity College, Dublin 605 (E.5.13) (l.v.)
London Lincoln's Inn Library Misc. 178 (s.v.; ed. by Wright 1840, Stiirzinger 1884 and Bol
land 1912)3

Donait françois/ Liber Donati/Donait soloum douce franceis de Paris

Oxford  Souls 182 (Ed. by Stengel 1878, Swiggers 1986 and Städtler 1988)

Johnston (1987) divides these into a "short version", a "long version", and a "French ver­
sion". I have used the abbreviations "s.v.", "l.v.", and "f.v." to identify his classification of the
manuscripts. All those with such a tag have been included in Johnston's edition.

This manuscript is the same as the Tower of London manuscript, long considered lost,
described by earlier editors.

Cambridge University Library Dd. 12.23

Cambridge University Library Ee.4.20
Cambridge University Library Gg.6.44
Cambridge, Trinity College B.14.40
British Library Additional 17716
British Library, Sloane 513

Epistolaries and Chartularies

British Library, Harley 4971 (Thomas Sampson; composed ca. 1355; excerpts ed. in Uerkwitz
1898, Haskins 1929 and Richardson 1942)
British Library, Harley 3988 (Thomas Sampson; composed ca. 1385; excerpts ed. in Richard­
son 1942, Uerkwitz 1898, Haskins 1929 and Stengel 1878)
British Library, Harley 4383 (bilingual (Latin-French) version of Thomas Sampson's letters;
composed ca. 1380; ed. by Richardson 1942)
British Library Additional 17716 (William Kingsmill)
Warminster Longleat House 37 (bilingual (Latin-French) salutarium of Thomas Sampson;
composed ca. 1381; ed. in Richardson 1942. This manuscript also contains model letters
dating from 1383, also ed. by Richardson. See also the commentary of Arnold 1937)
Oxford, All Souls 182
Cambridge, University Library Ee.4.20 (Thomas Sampson; composed ca. 1365; excerpts ed.
in Uerkwitz 1898 and Richardson 1942; the same manuscript contains a treatise Modus
dictandi in gallicis which Richardson dates to 1385)
Cambridge, Trinity College B.14.39 (Thomas Sampson; composed ca. 1410; excerpts ed. by
Richardson 1942)

2. Printed Works of the Renaissance

Anonymous. ca. 1500. Here begynneth a Lytell treatyse for to lerne Englisshe and Frensshe.
Westmynster: Wynken de Worde. [Reprint: New York: Da Capo Press, 1973 = The
English Experience, 630]
Anonymous. ca. 1500. Here is a good boke to lerne to speke French. Vecy ung bon livre a
apprendre a parler fraunchoys. London: Richard Pinson.
Anonymous. ca. 1525. Sensuyt ung petit livre pour apprendre a parler Francoys, Alemant et
Ancloys. Pour apprendre a conter, a vendre & acheter. Lyon: Mareschal.
Anonymous. 1542. An Introduction for chyldren. Mathewe xix. L'instruction des enfans.
London: John Roux.
Anonymous. 1550. A very necessarye boke bothe in Englysshe and in Frenche wherin thou
mayst learne to speake and wryte Frenche truly in a litle space yf thou gyve thy mynde
and diligence there unto. London: Nycholas Hyll. [Reprint: Menston: Scolar Press,
Anonymous. 1551.   Cfrancois. Geneva: Crespin.
Anonymous. 1570. A Dictionarie French and English. London: H. Bynneman for L. Harrison.
Ascham, Roger. 1570. The Scholemaster. London: John Daye.
Barcley, Alexander. 1521. Introductory to write and to pronounce Frenche. London: R.
Coplande. [Description of pronunciation published in Ellis 1871]
Baret, John. 1573/4. An Alvearie or triple Dictionarie in Englishe, Latin, and French.
London: Henry Denham.

----------. 1580, An alvearie or quadruple dictionarie, containing foure sundrie tongues.

London: Denham.
Beliot, James. 1578. The French Grammar. London: T. Marshe. (Second edition: 1588)
- - - - - - - - - - .1588.TheFrench Method, wherein is contained a perfite order of Grammar for the
French Tongue. London: Robert Robinson. [Reprint: Menston: Scolar Press, 1970]
Bruto, Giovanni. 1598 (1556). The necessary, fit and convenient Education of ayong Gen­
tlewoman. Written both in French and Italian, and translated into English by W. P. and
now printed with the three languages togither in one Volume, for the better instruction
of such as are desirous to studie those tongues. London: Adam Islip. [Reprint: New
York: Da Capo Press, 1969; =The English Experience, 168]
Cauchie, Antoine. 1570. Grammatica gallica, suis partibus absolutior, quam ullus ante hunc
diem ediderit. Paris: A. Lithostratei.
Caxton, William. 1480. Dialogues in French and English. London: Caxton. [Editions by
Henry Bradley, London: Early English Text Society, 1900; Jean Gessler, in Le livre des
me stier s et ses dérivés, 1934; and J. C T. Oates and L. C Harmer, Vocabulary in French
and English. A Facsimile of Caxton's Edition c. 1480, Cambridge: University Press,
Coke, Edward. 1629. The First Part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England. Or, A Com-
mentarie upon Littleton, not the name of a Lawyer onely, but of the Law it selfe. 2nd ed.
London:John More.
Cotgrave, Randle. 1611. A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues. London: Adam
Islip. [Reprint, with an introduction by William S. Woods: Columbia: Univ. of South
Carolina Press, 1950]
De la Mothe, G. 1592. The French Alphabet, teaching in a very short time by a most easie
way to pronounce French naturally, to read it perfectly, to write it truly, and to speak it
accordingly. Also, A Treasure of the French tung. London: R. Field. (Second ed., 1595;
Third ed., 1615; Fourth ed., 1625; Fifth ed., 1631; Sixth ed., 1633; Seventh ed., 1639.)
Du Ploiche, Pierre. 1553. A Treatise in English and Frenche right necessary and proffitable
for al young children. London: Richard Grafton. (Second ed., 1554; Third ed., "newlie
revised", 1578)
Du Wes, Gilles. 1532[?]. An Introductorie for to lerne to rede, to pronounce, and to speke
Frenche trewly. London: Thomas Godfray. Second ed., 1539(?); Third ed. 1540 (?);
Fourth ed. 1545 (?). [Reprint: Menston: Scolar Press, 1972. Ed. by F. Génin in L'esclair-
cissement de la langue française suivi de la Grammaire de Giles du Guez, publiés pour
la première fois en France. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1852]
Eliot, John. 1593. Ortho-Epia Gallica. Eliot's Fruits for the French. London: John Wolfe.
[Reprint: Menston: Scolar Press, 1968; Edition of the English text by J. Lindsay, Lon­
don: Fanfrolico Press, 1928]
Elyot, Thomas. 1531. The Boke Named the Governour. London: Thomas Berthelet.
----------.1538. The Dictionarie of Syr Thomas Elyot (= Bibliotheca Eliotae). London:
Thomas Berthelet.
Erondell, Peter. 1605. The French Garden: For English Ladyes and Gentlewomen to walke in.
OR, A Sommer dayes labour. Being an instruction f or the attayning unto the knowledge
of the French Tongue: wherein for th[e] practise thereof, are framed thirteene
Dialogues in French and English, concerning divers matters from the rising in the
morning till Bed-time. Also the Historie of the Centurion mencioned in the Gospell: in
French Verses.. Which is an easier and shortter Methode then hath beene yet set forth, to
bring the lovers of the French tongue to the perfection of the same. London: Edward
White. [Reprint: Menston: Scolar Press, 1969]

Estienne, Robert. 1531. Dictionarium, seu Latinae linguae thesaurus, non singulas modo
dictiones continens, sed integras quoque latinè & loquendi & scribendi formulas ex
optimis quibusque authoribus accuratissimè collectas. Cum galliceferè interpretatione
Paris: Estienne.
--------- 1539. Dictionaire françoislatin contenant les motz & manieres de parler françois
tournez en latín. Paris: Estienne.
------- --. 1544. Dictionariolum puerorum. Paris: Estienne.
- - - - - - - - - .1547.Les déclinaisons des noms & des verbes Paris: Estienne.
---------. 1549. Dictionaire françoislatin, autrement dict les mots françois, avec les manieres
d'user d'iceulx, tournez en latin corrigé et augmenté. Paris: Estienne.
- - - - - - - -----------.1557.Traicte de la grammaire françoise. Paris: R. Estienne. [Reprint: Genev
Slatkine, 1970]
Florio, John (Giovanni). 1578. His first Fruites: which yeelde familiar speech, merie Prov­
erbes, wittie Sentences, and golden sayings. Also a perfect Induction to the Italian, and
English tongues, as in the Table appeareth. London: Thomas Dawson, for Thomas
Woodcocke. [Reprint: New York: Da Capo Press, 1969; =The English Experience, 95]
----------.1591. Florios Second Frutes, To be gathered of twelve Trees, of divers but delight­
some tastes to the tongues of Italians and Englishmen. to the which is annexed his
Gardine of Recreation yeelding six thousand Italian Proverbs. London: Thomas
Woodcock. [A Facsimile Reproduction with an Introduction by R. C Simonini, Jr.,
Gainesville, FL: Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, 1953; also New York: Da Capo Press,
1969; -The English Experience, 157]
Garnier, Jean. 1558. Institutio Gallicae linguae in usum iuventutis germanicae. Geneva:
Crispin. [Reprint: Geneva: Slatkine, 1972]
Higgins, John. 1572. Huloet's Dictionarie, corrected and amende t and set in order and
enlarged with many names of men, townes, beastes, foules, fishes, trees, shrubbes,
herbes, fruites, places, instrumentes, etc. In eche place fit phrases gathered out of the
best Latin authors. Also the French thereunto annexed, by which you may finde the Latin
or Frenche of anye Englishe woorde you will. London: Thomas Marshe.
1585. The Nomenclator or Remembrancer of Adrianus Junius, Physician, divided
into two Tomes, conteining proper names, and apt termes for all thinges under their
convenient Titles, which within a few leaves doe follow. Written by the said Adrianus
Junius in Latine, Greek, French, and other forrein tongues, and now in English by John
Higgins. London: Newberie and Denham.
Hollyband, Claude (Claude de Sainliens, a Sancto Vinculo). 1573. The Frenche Schoolema-
ister, wherein is the most plainlie shewn the true and most perfect way of pronouncinge
of the frenche tongue, without any helpe or teacher, setforthe for the furtherance of all
those which doo studie privately in their owne study or house: Unto which is annexed a
vocabularie for all such wordes as bee used in common talkes. London: Willeam How.
Second ed., 1582 ("newly corrected"). 17th century editions are corrected and revised by
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