British Library MS Add. 17920 : the other half of “L’Abreujamen de las estorias”

The rest of the codex produced in Avignon in the early 1320s survives in another manuscript, one that has no illustrations and that also made its way into the British Museum manuscripts collections in the 1840s. It was probably split from its prettier sibling shortly before that time. It was not until the 1980s that W.C.M. Wuestefeld identified BL MS Add. 17920 as the other part of BL MS Eg. 1500 (see references below).
The compilation of Occitan texts in Add. 17920 includes the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle in Occitan (one of only two surviving versions in Occitan or Poitevin), a small collection of Marian miracles, the allegory of the Seven Daughters of the Devil, and a short version of Gerald of Wales’s description of Ireland by Philip of Slane, bishop of Cork, which was given to Pope John XXII at Avignon in 1324-25. Ireland, Spain and Marian miracles : the codex tried to map the world, from the westernmost parts of its creators’ known world to the eastern Tatar kings depicted in the closing folios of “L’Abreujamen”. Furthermore, there is a distinctly west-facing aspect to these texts, linked as they are to the lands ruled by King Edward II of England : Philip of Slane visited Avignon on his behalf, and that Poitevin Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle is connected to another history, a Poitevin translation (in part) of the early-medieval Liber Historia Francorum called Tote listoire de France. Aquitaine and Gascony were also part of the ‘English’ realm. Furthermore, the creators of L’Abreujamen and its Latin counterpart used one of the French-language genealogies of the kings of England.
Paolino’s subsequent world chronicles include a mappa mundi, and a blank space in the Latin counterpart of “L’Abreujamen” also indicates that even in the 1320s, there was an ambition to link history with geography. Restoring BL Add. 17920 to Eg. 1500 amounts to reconstructing a codex that sought to represent the world from west to east.

W.C.M. Wustefeld,‘Le manuscrit British Library additional 17920 et son contexte socio-culturel.’, in: Critique et édition de textes. Actes du XVIIe congrès international de linguistique et philologique romanes (Aix-en-Provence, 29 Aout – 3 Septembre 1983). Vol. no. 9, Marseille, 1986, 100-110.

___, ‘La_chronique_du_pseudo-Turpin_version_occitane. la_traduction_et_le_manuscrit’, in Contacts de langues, de_civilisations, et_intertextualite. IIIe congres international de l’association internationale_d’etudes_occitanes, Montpellier_20-26_septembre_1990, ed. G. Gouiran (Montpellier : Centre d’Etudes_Occitanes_de_lUniversite de Montpellier, 1993), pp.1201-1211.

On these Occitan texts, see:
Catherine Leglu, ‘The Devil’s Daughters and the question of translation between Occitan and Anglo-Norman French : “De las .vii. filhas del diable’, Revue d’Etudes d’Oc : La France latine, 160 (2015) 93-123.
See also Catherine Leglu, ‘The Vida of Queen Fredegund in Tote listoire de France : vernacular translation and genre in thirteenth-century French and Occitan literature,’ Nottingham French Studies, 56 (1) (2017) 98-112.

About Catherine Leglu

Catherine Leglu is Professor of French and Occitan Studies at the University of Reading.
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