ENGLISH CHARLEMAGNE ROMANCES
The present volume, completing Part III. of the
English Charlemagne Romance series, requires but little introduction. I have already referred
to it in my edition of Sir Ferumbras, Introd. pp. viii, ix. It contains the whole life
of Charlemagne, with a brief sketch of the early kings of France, and includes all the incidents
narrated in Sir Ferumbras, The Sowdone of Babyloyne, Roland and Vernagu, and the Song
Caxton's "Lyf of the Noble and Crysten Prynce, Charles the Grete"
survives only in the unique copy preserved in the British Museum (Press Mark c. 10, b. 9). It
is a folio volume, containing 96 leaves, the signatures running from A ij to M
viij, and is
perfect, but without title-page. The colophon tells us that the "werke was fynysshed in
the reducyng of hit in to Englysshe the xviij day of Juyn, the second yere of kyng Rychard the
Thyrd, and the yere of our lord MCCCCLXXXV, and enprynted the fyrst day of Decembre the same of
our lord, & the fyrst yere of kyng Harry the seuenth."
The type is that classed by Mr. Blades as 4*. The pages have two columns, each
containing 39 lines, and each line measuring 2 3/8 inches. There are neither folios nor catchwords.
The initial woodcut letters are 3 lines deep.
In 1743 the volume was sold by R. Harley to Osborne the bookseller, the price not
mentioned. In 1773 it became the property of J. Ratcliffe at a cost of £13, and in 1776 it was
sold by him to George III for £4. 4. 0.
As Caxton himself tells us, the work here reprinted is a translation of the French
prose romance of Fierabras, itself a compilation partly from the Speculum Historiale of
Vincent de Beauvais, and partly from the old French romance of Fierabras. The exploits of Charlemagne
were related in numerous histories and romances, both in French and Latin, in prose and in verse,
as early as the 12th and 13th centuries. From the envoy of the anonymous author of the original
French version we learn how Henry Bolomyer, a canon of Lausanne, induced him to gather together
into one connected narrative these disjointed fragments. A comparison of his work with that of
Vincent of Beauvais shows clearly that his researches were by no means confined to the Speculum
Historiale. I have already given a short account of the original French work. One
version in the Grenville Library, 10531, is doubly unique, being not only the only copy of that
particular version known to be in existence, but also the only production of the press of Symon
du Jardin, at Geneva, which has come down to us. Brunet had heard of it, but doubted its
existence. It is undated and without signatures, pagination, or illustrations.
A second version of the original French is also preserved in the same library, No.
10532. It also is a folio volume of 65 leaves, signatures running from A j to L v. On L v b
is a woodcut similar to that at the end of the copy already described. This also is unique, and
has the following colophon: "Cy finist Fierabras imprime a lyon lan de grace mil qualtre
cens quatre vingtz et seize. Le xx iour de nouembre." There are numerous woodcuts
throughout the work, evidently copied from the same source as those in the Royal Fierabras
described below, but much coarser and plainer. They are also frequently reversed, and, as in the
royal copy, the same woodcut is at times made to serve for two or more incidents of a similar character.
In the library of the late Mr. Huth is a version, undated, in folio, black letter,
with woodcuts, and the colophon: "Cy finist Fierabras. Imprime a lyon par maistre Guillaume
le roy. Le cincquiesme Jour du moys de Juilliet. Deo gracias." It contains 108 leaves,
and is the copy described by Brunet. It appears to have belonged originally to the library of the
Academy at Lyons. In the same library is a version in German containing 53 leaves, of which another
copy is in the British Museum.
The copy of the French Fierabras which I have used for comparison with the
English translation, is that preserved in the Royal Library (Press mark, C. 6, b. 12). It is a folio
volume of 115 leaves, without title-page. Woodcuts are freely introduced. On the back of sign. A
is a large one representing Fierabras on horseback, and another on O 5 representing Charlemagne on
his throne, and surrounded by his douzeperes. The preface begins on A ij, the index on A ij b, and
the text on A vj. The colophon runs: "Cy finist Fierabras. Imprime a genesue Par maistre
Loys Garbin bourgois de la dicte cite. Lan mil cccc. lxxxiij. et Le xiij iour de moys de Mais.
Deo gracias. Amen." The woodcuts are in many cases most comical: perhaps the most
ludicrous are those which are intended to represent Floripas killing Britamont, and Richard
swimming the torrent of Flagot. In one in which the sacred relics are shown, only three nails
appear, and in two others the Saracens are represented as bombarding the tower of Aigremont with
In a few instances the same cut is employed to represent two incidents of a similar
character. Thus that representing Oliver before Balan is also used for Guy before the Sultan.
In his translation, Caxton has followed his original so closely and even slavishly,
that at times it is difficult, if not impossible, to understand his meaning without a reference
to the language of the original. Frequently he has used the very words of the French author, and
still more frequently he has merely given them an English dress. Caxton probably is responsible
for the introduction of more French words into our language than any other writer.
In his epilogue Caxton tells us that he undertook the rendering into English of this
Lyf of Charles the Grete at the instigation of "a good and synguler frend, Maister Wylliam
Daubeny, one of the tresirers of the Iewellys of the noble and moost Crysten
kyng, our naturel and
souerayn lord late of noble memorye kyng Edward the Fourth." I have endeavoured to identify
this Sir William Daubeny, and to ascertain the nature of the duties pertaining to his office as
keeper of the jewels. As to the latter--
The copy of the Liber Niger Domus Regis Anglie, believed to be that of Edward
IV. in the Harleian MS 642, has the following section on leaf 49, &c. on the Keeper of the
Jewels, his clerk, yoman, groom, chariot, &c.
Office of Jewelhouse hath an Architector callid Clarke of the Kinges or keeper of
Joyalx, or Theasaurer of the Chambre: this officer taketh bui Indenture betwixt him and the
Kinge, all that he findes in his office of gold, siluer, pretious stones, and the markes of euery
thinge. Alsoe he receaueth the yearely guiftes by Record of the Chamberlaine. Item he receaueth by
Indenture of the Thesaurer of England, And by ouersight of the Chamberlaine sitting in the Kingis
Chambre or in the hall with a person of like seruice, And for his Chambre at night dimidium cheate
loafe, one quart wyne, one gallon of ale; And for winter Liuerey, one perche de wax, one candle
wax, two candels paris, one dimidium tallwood, and present in Court vijd:. ob.
In Checkerrolle and cloathing with howsold for winter and sommer, or of the
Countinghouse xl:s.: his Liuerey is as
Knightes, and if he be sicke, he taketh in eating daies like the Squires for the bodie when
they bin lett blood or
sicke, &c. Also in this offise is a clarke vnder him in the hall eatinge, taking for his
liuerey at night, dimidium gallon ale, one candle paris, dimidium tallwood, shide and cloathing by the
Countinghouse, or yerely twentie shillinges. And if he be sike, he taketh for all day
one loafe of bread, one messe of gret
meate, dimidium gallon ale. And for this office a yoman eating in the hall with yomen of
Chambre, taking for his wages in the Countinghouse, if he be present, allowed by the
Checkerrolle, threepence; And cloathing with the housold winter and summer for chances and all other part, or
eighteene shillinges, besides his reward of the Jewelhouse for sure and diligent keeping of the
Kinges Joalxe yerely &c. And if he be sicke, he taketh such Liuerey as doth the
in this office a groome eating dayly in the office, taking for his liuerey one
loafe, one messe of grete meate, dimidium gallon ale: And he setteth in the
For this office in season, one candle wax, two candles paris, one tallwood
dimidium, And Rushes and litter for this office all the yeare of the Sergeant
Vsher of hall and Chambre. Also this groome fetting nightly for this office one gallon of ale: he
helpeth to trusse and beare to the Charriott, and awaiteth thervpon the safeguard; and the yoman
also to attend vpon this carriage. And this office hath also lodgeing in the Countrie towne for
all these horses and seruantes suffisauntly by the herbergier. And the chiefe of this office to
haue into this Court two waiters, and the Clerke one honest seruant. The remenant goo to theire
lodgeing in the Countrey. And the yoman and groome haue one seruant. And for this office is assigned
a Charriott with seauen horses and all there apparell, horse-meate, shooeing, and the yomen and
groomis wagis therfore, foundyn of the charge of Thesaurer of housold to carrie the stuff of the
Kinges in this office, and none other mans, by the ouersight of the Controller, betwixt the
Thesaurer of housold, and this officer, be many interchaunges of siluer vessell, hoole and
brooke, receaued or deliuered by officers by Indentures &c. As it will appeare in
the Accompt of housold. And as for othir thinges touching this office, behold in the title
De Oblationibus Regis capitulid before. all thinges of this office inward or outward,
cometh and goeth by the knowledge of the Kinge, and by the Chamberlaines Record. Also if any
Knight or Squire presume to weare the Kinges liuerey, but if he come ther by
authoritie, or ellys
by record in this office.
Thanks to the kindness of Mr. Selby of H.M. Record Office and Mr.
Furnivall, I have
been enabled to identify Sir W. Daubeny, and to give some interesting particulars relating to him.
We first meet with his name in 1480-1, when he was appointed Searcher in the Port of London.
This Account extending over five years and 8 days gives the sum received as nil.
This record states the duties to be--"ad explorandum per se in propria persona
sua, et non per substitutum, omnes naves et batellas extra regnum Anglie
transeuntes, et ad idem regnum venientes in portubus et locis predictis [i. e. in portu
Civitatis Londonie], et ad scrutinium faciendum de omnibus navibus et batellis
hujusmodi, et de personis de quibus sinistra suspicio haberi poterit, quod lane, pelles
lanute, coria, panni, aut mercimonia custumabilia non cokettata nec custumata in eisdem
navibus, aut aurum vel argentum in pecunia numerata, aut masa vel plata seu focalia carcata seu posita
fuerunt; vel si alique persone bullas litteras instrumenta vel processus vel aliqua alia Regi vel
suditis Regis prejudicialia infra vel extra regnum Regis
predictum, detuleri contra proclamaciones et inhibuciones ex parte Regis inde
factas, Habendum et occupandum officium predictum quamdiu Regi placuerit, una cum medietate
The substance of the Patent Roll is as follows:
9 Novr, 20 Edw. IV, 1480. Memb. 21. Appointment of Wm. Daubeny as Searcher in the
Port of London & other places adjoining the same, with the usual fees & emoluments, &
also the half of all forfeit, was seized to the King's use. His substitute or substitutes may
act for him.
About the same time in a "Roll of Accounts, Michaelmas, 20 Edw. IV," there is
an entry that John Barker of London, Goldsmith, had received 100l from
William Daubeney in part payment of 80 butts of malmsey purchased by him for the use of
the King's army.
In 1483-4 he was re-appointed to the office of Searcher of the Port to Richard III.
In the Patent Roll his previous appointment to the same office under Edward V. is referred to,
and he is further described as Clerk of the Jewels. In the Calr. of the Patent Rolls,
Ric. III. Appx. to 9th Report of Deputy Keeper of Records, p. 34, the following particulars relating to Sir
W. Daubeny are given:
An order under the Privy Seal of Henry VII. in 1485 to the Treasurer and Chamberlaine
of his Exchequer orders them to allow to his "beloved cousin John, arl of
Oxenford," the sums of 100 marks and 100£ out of his purchase-money of 800 marks for the manors
of the late Wm. Alyngton during his son's minority, and the marriage of this son: This, because
the Earl had paid 100 marks to Rich.
Gardyner, alderman of London, "for so moche money by the said Richard Gardyner late lent
unto Richard, duc of Gloucester, late, in dede and not of
righte, kind of England, upon pledge of a salt of gold with a cover
the which salt
unto the said Richard Gardynere by one,
William Daubeney, knight, keeper of the juelx with the foresaid pretensed king
. and also
the summe of c. ŭi. parcell of xxiiijc. ŭi by the said late pretensed king borowed of the
maire and aldermen of our said citie of London
and for suertie and contentaciom of the said
ŭi. the said late pretensed king laide in plege to the said maire and aldermen a coronalle gold
garnished with many other grete and riche
juelx, as by a bille endented betwix the said maire and aldremen, on that one
partie, and the foresaid William Daubeney, then keper of juelx of the said pretensed king on that
othre partie thero made, more plainly doth appere.
- 1 Ric. III., p. 2, 1483-4. Membrane 20 (4) 16 Dec. Appointment of
William Daubeny, clerk of the jewels, as searcher in the port of London, with a grant
of half of all the forfeitures, in as full a manner as William
Merston, esq. enjoyed the same: which office the said William Daubeney fills by virtue
of a patent of Edward V. the bastard [entry 39], ib. p. 39, Membrance 7(19).
- 11 Mar. Release to
William Daubeney (or Dabeney), searcher in the port of London, of all arrears of accounts,
&c. to 6 March last [entry 133].
ib. p. 42, Membrane 2 (24).
- 8 April. Appointment of John Wode, knt, Treasurer of England, Robert
Brakenbury, Constable of the Tower of London, Master William Lacy, Master William Dawbney, and Master
Robert Rydon, as Commissaries General in the office of the Admiralty in England
ib. p. 67, Memb. 17 (9). 1 Ric. III, p. 4, 1483-4.
- 24 April. Grant to William Dawbeney, clerk of the jewels to Edward IV., of an annuity of
10l. out of a farm in Watford (Northampton), (2) by the hands of Eustace of Burneby and
Matill his wife, to hold the same until the gift, for life, of an office of 20l yearly value;
further grant in survivorship to the said
William Dawbeney and Joan his wife of an annuity of 20 marks, the former patents of 22 June,
21 Edw. IV. (p. 2, m. 12), and 1 May, (1 March: in the patent roll of 21 Edw. IV.) 21 Edw. IV.
(p. 1, m. 6), granting to them the said annuities, having been surrendered.
In Sept. 1484 we find the following orders: "Parcelles of clothing &c.
to be delivered by the said bishop to the said erle of Desmond
Item, a nother lettre direct to Mr.
William Dawbeney, clerk of the kinges juelles, to delivere unto the said bisshop for the said erle of
Dissemond, a coler of gold of xxti oz., xxxti ŭi.--Letters and Papers t.
Rich. III. & Hen. VI, ed.
Gairdner, Rolls Series, 1861, p. 713.
There is no William Daubeny's will of Caxton's time at the Probate Office,
but the following items culled from various sources appear to refer to Caxton's friend, and
Dame Joan Dawbeny, wife of Sir Wm. Dawbeny, was buried at the Augustine Friers Church,
Broadstreet Ward, London, [no date given].
John, son and heir of Sir Giles Dawbeny, is buried in the same church.
Sir Wm. Stanley, William Dawbeney late of London, gentleman, & others were
attainted of treason for rebelling against Henry VII. Act of Attainder in the Rolls of
Parliament, vol. 6, p. 503.
Mr. Walter Rye says that this may be the same man as Sir William, because, in an
official document like the above, the title of Knight conferred by the usurper, Rich. III, would
probably not be acknowledged. (But compare the order under the Privy Seal in 1485, on the preceding
Mr. Rye also thinks our Wm. D. was connected with the Norfolk Dawbeneys. In Blomfield's
Norfolk, Wm. Dawbeney, of North Burlingham, after 1428 bought a property which his grandson
Thomas sold in 1528.
The Series of English Charlemagne Romances will be completed by the issue next year
of the romances of
Roland and Vernagu and Sir Otuel, from the Auchinleck MS., and the curious poem of
Rauf Coilzear from the unique printed copy.
SIDNEY J. HERRTAGE.
Mill Hill, N.W., October 1881.