In the composition of the Roman de Brut, Henry Blois has employed similar devices to those which we have discussed already by the impersonation of Wace. The stamp of Henry’s authorship is on the Roman de Brut. Henry Blois has usurped the persona of Wace; just as he did with Gaimar, ‘Geoffrey’, Caradoc, William of Malmesbury etc. The genuine writer of the Roman de Rou and the hagiographic accounts of Lives of Sainte Marguerite, St Nicholas and the Conception de notre Dame were written by a genuine person called Wace.
Any researcher should be able to grasp that the author of the Roman de Rou could never (even supposedly copying Geoffrey’s source material) be able to translate into perfect verse with such impeccable embellishments, such a delightful manuscript. Just compare Wace’s real accomplishment of the Roman de Rou and quite simply the Roman de Brut could not appear from the same mind. It was from the mind of the man who states that the Author is ‘above all’ and compares himself with Cicero (by what is inscribed on the Meusan plaques) who impersonates Wace.
If in doubt as to whether Henry Blois is the author of the Roman de Brut, think on this: Why start to versify with the First Variant unless the author who wrote the Brut wrote the first Variant first and possessed a copy which I have shown was composed earlier than the published date of the Vulgate HRB. Henry Blois started versifying the HRB which became known as the Roman de Brut, before he published the Vulgate HRB.
For those who have followed my arguments so far, let us also consider that why would the person who composed the prophecies of Merlin in HRB be at ease translating them without outing himself as author. No it is better to plead a lack of understanding of them claiming he did not know how to interpret them!!! It also has to be taken into account that the Roman de Brut may not have been finished until 1158 and in which case the reasoning behind composing the prophecies of Merlin and especially the seditious prophecies had no longer any relevance because King Henry II had made peace with Conan and the Welsh.
It must be remembered that Henry Blois had first started his composition which I have termed the Pseuedo-Historia as a History of legend to encompass that of fictitious British queens for the specific reason of providing Henry Ist with a precedent for his daughter to inherit the throne. Henry Blois commenced the original text of the Roman de Brut as the HRB evolved from Primary Historia (found at Bec) through the First Variant version when he was young. He then embellished the HRB text over the years until the final Vulgate HRB was ‘made public’. So too was the Roman de Brut started with the versification process using early editions and finished using as its template the Vulgate HRB.
It is commonly accepted by modern scholarship that the reason why L’estoire des Bretons, (purportedly written by Geffrei Gaimar), has been overshadowed by Wace’s Roman de Brut is because of the superiority of Wace’s poetry, as Gaimar’s L’estoire des Bretons was supposedly of similar material but had been relegated and substituted into obscurity. This, we are led to believe, is because ‘Geoffrey’s’ HRB, from which the versified Roman de Brut is derived, is thought to stem from the same source book as the mythical L’estoire des Bretons.
It is rationalised by modern scholars as an adequate explanation as to why L’estoire des Bretons is no longer extant. The presumption is that L’estoire des Bretons was supposedly derived also from the Oxford book. This conclusion is deduced from the fact that there is no part of ‘Geoffrey’s’ pseudo history (except the few anecdotal interpolations) in Gaimar’s l’Estoire des Engles. Therefore, L’estoire des Bretons is assumed to have contained much of ‘Geoffrey’s’ material.
As I have noted, in all four manuscripts of Gaimar’s l’Estoire des Engles, Wace’s Roman de Brut has supposedly taken the place (or substituted) L’estoire des Bretons’ supposedly written by Gaimar as stated in the interpolated/added epilogue in Gaimar’s l’Estoire des Engles. In fact it is rather the case that there was never any L’estoire des Bretons and Henry’s work of Roman de Brut has been added as a complimentary work under the nom de plume of Wace. As I have made plain, the point of Henry Blois using Gaimar’s work was to implant the ‘epilogue’ and a few corroborative Arthurian interpolations into l’Estoire des Engles. It should also be understood that these four manuscripts are not together by chance but by design of the person who had sway of many scriptoriums and had reason to have these manuscripts copied together to uphold the very facade that Henry Blois wished to portray i.e. that Wace wrote the Roman de Brut.
Now, if ‘Geoffrey’s’ Historia was already versified by Henry Blois (as we know it was because Roman de Brut commences mirroring the First Variant and therefore was commenced before 1155), in reality, there would be little to be gained by composing another version in French vernacular i.e. Gaimar’s L’estoire des Bretons’. Especially if Gaimar had written it much earlier as we are led to believe by the misrepresentation displayed in the epilogue. We are led to believe the Roman de Brut by Wace and the L’estoire des Bretons by Gaimar were both derived from the same ancient source book; one as a versified account of ‘Geoffrey’s work’, the other also versified. We are supposed to believe that not only did Gaimar compose a manuscript called L’estoire des Bretons based on a source book from Archdeacon Walter or Walter Espec or whoever we want to believe; and by extention of this misrepresentation both the Roman de Brut and Geoffrey’s HRB were both composed using the same source book. In effect the ploy of Henry Blois confirms Geoffrey’s own misdirection concerning the volume ex-Brittanica and by confirming Gaimar had used the same book to compose L’estoire des Bretons….. but unfortunately (posterity is supposed to believe) the work put out by ‘Wace’ is the only copy of similar content to the L’estoire des Bretons.
We know, Henry Blois started his versification of HRB (apparently written by Wace) at an early stage i.e. around the time Alfred of Beverley is recycling ‘Geoffrey’s’ work c.1150; as Henry Blois is following a Variant version as the template at the beginning of the Roman de Brut. Not forgetting that the latter half of Roman de Brut follows the Vulgate Version of HRB which was only completed after 1154-5; or at least that is when the updated seditious Merlin prophecies which included the ‘Sixth in Ireland’ were added.
It seems highly unlikely that all four of the present manuscripts containing Gaimar’s work (from different institutions) would have expunged L’estoire des Bretons in favour of Wace’s Roman de Brut in such a synchronised fashion unless that is how they were propagated originally. This specific conundrum can only reasonably be solved if the Gaimar MSS all derived from one exemplar. I very much doubt that Henry Blois only made one copy. Is it not more likely that the substitution was purposeful?
We should accept that no L’estoire des Bretons has ever turned up with Wace’s genuine work and the epilogue of the L’estoire des Engles makes us believe that Gaimar’s other work started with Brutus. Logically, if the reader has accepted what I have deduced about Archdeacon Walter only appearing in the Vulgate version of HRB and this version now made public was in 1155 and we understand Henry’s reasoning for employing Walter’s name in both Gaimar’s epilogue and the Vulgate HRB; then it stands to reason that when we know ‘Geoffrey’ is the promulgator of the Brutus story and it is supposedly found in L’estoire des Bretons, logically it can only be Henry Blois interpolating at the beginning of L’estoire des Engles. The corroborative evidence about ‘Chivalric’ Arthur at the start of L’estoire des Engles confirms the interpolation by Henry Blois.
It is far more plausible if a versifier of the Historia (like ‘Wace’) composed his work after the ‘original’ author’s death (i.e.’Geoffrey’); this is why Henry Blois has ostensibly given us the date of composition for Wace’s work where he concludes with a date of completion in the year 1155,548 understanding we are led to believe ‘Geoffrey’s work (or at least the prophecies of Merlin found in Orderic’s interpolated testimony) were in circulation while King Heny Ist was still alive. This could not be the case as explained in the section on Orderic However, Wace is not the author of the Roman de Brut, but he is in reality the author of the Roman de Rou. It should be noted that if the Roman de Brut was genuinely completed in 1155, it must have been started in King Stephen’s reign and indicates Henry’s intention to propagate his Historia on the continent before his brother’s death.
548Roman de Rou 14865-6
Henry Blois, again, in his impersonation of the invented persona of ‘Geoffrey’, provides us with the impression of a poet looking for wealthy patronage; but where a real Wace is concerned, it is genuine in the guise of Wace. Wace really was a struggling versifier and translator into vernacular of previous Latin chronicles: I address myself to rich people who possess revenues and silver, since for them books are made and good words are composed and well set forth.549
In reality events concerning Wace are very different from that perceived by modern scholarship. What we know of Wace is derived from his Roman de Rou (i.e. Rollo), where he says: “If anybody asks who said this, who put this history into the Romance language, I say and I will say to him that I am Wace of the isle of Jersey, which lies in the sea, toward the west, and is a part of the fief of Normandy. In the isle of Jersey I was born, and to Caen I was taken as a little lad; there I was put at the study of letters; afterward I studied long in France. When I came back from France, I dwelt long at Caen. I busied myself with making books in Romance; many of them I wrote and many of them I made.”
One supposes by Wace’s comments in the Roman de Rou that he was a clerc lisant before 1135.550 In time, presumably his writings won for him preferment to the position of canon at Bayeux from Henry II. It is an odd coincidence that Rouen (the founder is Rou) and Caen (where Henry’s Grandfather and Grandmother were buried, and where the treasury of the Ducal house of Normandy was situated) are not mentioned by Henry Blois when writing as ‘Geoffrey’ and passed over in preferment in favour of Bayeaux. Bayeaux is given the special privilege of being the city of the Dux of Normandy by ‘Geoffrey’ but this is totally against the obviously known facts; similarly, the count of Blois or Troyes is ignored by ‘Geoffrey’ when every other noble is given a featured favour by King Arthur.
549Roman de Rou.
550Roman de Rou. I saw and Knew three King Henry’s; in their time I was clerk lisant.
Just as the entire Historia never once mentions Glastonbury, it is Henry’s ploy not to seem connected or be seen to promote anything which links his family relationships to his authorship.
It is not by coincidence that Henry Blois chose Wace as the person who was to have written the Roman de Brut. It might seem obvious from what is portrayed in the Roman de Rou that the real Wace has read the Historia and the prophecies if we do not take into account interpolation. We can discount the reference in the Roman de Brut to ‘Wace’s’ unwillingness to translate them. That Wace has genuinely read the Historia is made clear from the decasyllabic appendix (in Holden’s edition) which used to preface Holden’s part II, until Henry Blois interpolated the Roman de Rou by adding the current preamble known as the Chronique Ascendante. As we shall cover shortly, Henry Blois also interpolated and reconstructed the introduction to part III of the Roman de Rou also.
Wace was probably about ten years younger than Henry Blois. He received a prebend at Bayeux by King Henry II which he refers to twice. As to Wace’s existence, we have four documents which contain reference to him. One is a charter which Bishop Henry II of Bayeaux (1165-1204) signs and Wace is one of the witnesses as Magister Wascius. Another is an agreement c.1169 between the bishop of Bayeux and abbot Gilbert of Troarn, where Wace is designated as Cononicus. So, it would seem he was appointed cannon sometime between 1165-1169. Wace’s name is also on a document confirming possessions and privileges for the abbey at St Etienne in 1172, and lastly in another charter in 1174.
It is plain therefore that Wace outlived Henry Blois, so the usual backdating process which Henry Blois employed in the past is not applicable here. There are two factors which need to be taken into account before we can determine the precise manner in which Henry Blois introduced and propagated the Roman de Brut into the public arena. Firstly, as we shall see, when we cover the Roman de Brut that the writer of the Historia has the same mental image on several occasions as the writer of the Roman de Brut yet the wording of the Historia are completely different from the Roman de Brut . So, the Roman de Brut is not an improvised and versified translation of the Historia with a few points expanded or introduced as is commonly thought. Instead, it it just a versified form of a book composed by the same author credited to another.
We must look at the Roman de Rou to find out what changes he introduced into that text and for what reason; and how is it that in the 1160’s we hear no objection from Wace to a very popular versified tale popular at many courts.
The relationship between Henry Blois and Wace is unsure, but given their mutual interests and the fact that Henry would have passed by Caen several times before 1160, it is not hard to assume they knew each other or their paths crossed. The permutations and possibilities are endless as to what their relationship was and whether Wace was aware that his work had been interpolated while he was alive. Let us assume for the moment that the date given for the Roman de Brut of 1155 is fallacious and meant to misdirect.
The most propitious method of determining what might have transpired given the amount of permutations possible is to describe a viable scenario of events before we look at the interpolations in the Roman de Rou.
Without going over that which G.S Burgess551 has adequately covered in the history of the manuscripts, we shall refer as he has done (like Holden before him), to the four portions of what constitutes the Roman de Rou: The Chronique Ascendante classified as Part I, Part II, Part III and what Holden called the Appendix. The Chronique Ascendante is written in twelve syllable lines arranged in stanzas known as Laisses. Part II is written in the same using ‘Alexandrines’, but slightly different in that he employs assonance rather than rhyme. The Appendix and Part III are written in octosyllabic. The Appendix and Part III were once part of the same work i.e. Wace’s continuation due to his commission from Henry II, but the Appendix has been set aside by an interpolator.
551The History of the Norman people- Wace’s Roman de Rou. Boydell press
What I believe transpired next is the crux of the puzzle to unravelling the various puzzling comments made by Wace in the Roman de Rou. It is my guess that Henry Blois met Wace returning to England in 1158. Henry, while passing through Caen meets Wace, a struggling clerk who has written a few hagiographical pieces and Henry Blois offers to try to find a patron for Wace’s newly completed Le Romanz de Rou et des Dus de Normendie i.e. Part II both written in Alexandrine verse.
Henry Blois presents this to King Henry II who rewards Wace with a prebend and asks for the history to be updated from where Wace had terminated his chronicle in part II at the confirmation of peace between King Lothar of France and count Richard I of Normandy.
Henry Blois would have had especial interest in this work as it gives account of the history of his family name and the struggles of his forebears on his father’s side in the foundation of the region of Blois and mother’s side through William the Conqueror. The family of Blois was associated with Champagne Province, the House of Châtillon the Dukes of Brittany and, later, with the French royal family, but the family resided in Blois. Wace’s chronicle recounts the disputes between Theobald I, Count of Blois and King Richard I. Theobald I, served as Regent to Drogo, Duke of Brittany. Bertha of Blois, the daughter of Odo II of Blois as we have covered earlier, became Duchess Consort of Brittany through her marriage to Alan II, Duke of Brittany. Many commentators have never understood why ‘Geoffrey’ so favoured Brittany in the Historia.
Anyway, news arrives to Wace of the favour bestowed upon him along with a gift and payment and a request (commission) to further his work. Wace in his own words was not at court.552
552Speaking of the King and Eleanor of Aquitaine, Wace says at the beginning of the Chronique Ascendante: They do not let me waste my time at court; each of them rewards me with gifts and promises. Henry Blois impersonating Wace using the same tactic as a struggling ‘Geoffrey’ looking for acclaim and compensatory wherewithal says: the king soothes me with gifts and promises, but I am often in need; need that comes very quickly and obliges me to put a penny and a pledge.
Wace then continues the enterprise by composing part III in octosyllabic rhymed couplet verse up to the battle of Tinchebray in 1106. Originally it existed with what is now the appendix, but as we shall see shortly Henry Blois has concocted his own preamble to Part III up to the point where Wace’s original script starts: We have dealt with the history of William Longsword….
One problem for Wace has arisen in the interim between Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine promising further reward for a continuation to Part II. Henry Blois, who originally started composing his versified Historia some years previously mirroring a pattern of the information supplied in the Primary Historia and First Variant and evoving Variant…. now completes the Roman de Brut finishing the work with the Vulgate version of the Historia.
Henry impersonates Wace as the author; and based on the title of Wace’s original work, (the Roman de Rou) calls the poem Le Roman de Brut. This finds its way to court through Eleanor.553 Because of the incitement to rebellion which was found in the Merlin prophecies against Henry II (which were evident in ‘Geoffrey’s’ Vulgate HRB), Le Roman de Brut is not well received (even without the prophecies554) and Wace not knowing his ‘fault’ is shunned as versifier for the further commissioned history which he has been working on (as promised) and King Henry’s patronage goes to Maistre Beneeit.555Beneeit de Sainte-more did not continue Wace’s work but Henry Blois will have known he was writing Estoire des Dus de Normandie.
553Layamon says that Wace finally dedicated the leaves of his great poem to Queen Eleanor but she is not mentioned in the text, so, I would imagine le Roman de Brut was presented by Henry in the name of Wace.
554The Durham Cathedral Chapter Library MS.C.IV.27 may at one stage have been attached to the Roman de Brut. The preamble and many of the prophecies are written in decasyllabic rhymed couplets and show an uncanny ability to change the sense of the prophecies. For example Les Venedoz entisant de Bataille (v.454) is a slant on the HRB prophecies we have not encountered before i.e. enticing the Venedoti to make war. We have already discussed that Henry Blois is the driving force behind the ‘enticing’, but it is odd that it is explicitly exposed. In Fact, once the sense of the ever morphing ‘font Galaes’ Galabes or Fontes Galahes is realised as Henry’s original hocus pocus appellation for the region of Gwent, we can see in these prophecies (which are sometimes much clearer than the HRB prophecies) that Henry might well be trying to slander his arch enemy Matilda even in the 1160’s: She will join herself to the spring of Galabes full of treachery and wickedness. From her will be born, without a doubt many treasons, enticing the Venedoti to make war (v.450-454). Certainly, the Merlin of HRB never spoke of the Welsh being ‘enticed’, but it was the author of John of Cornwall’s prophecies who can be clearly seen as the instigator. Another such example which shows the composer of the verse prophecies might have been Henry Blois himself (calling himself Helias), is seen in depicting the standoff at Wallingford where he, as the Bishop, along with Theobald (the staffs) intervene: Two Kings will fight and struggle dealing each other blows like champions at the Ford of the Staff for the sake of the Lioness. Most importantly of all in that the invasion of Ireland did not take place as Henry Blois had envisioned after the conference at Winchester in 1155 ; we now see the prophecy written probably sometime c.1160 stating : the Sixth will be banished from Ireland (v.164)
555The writer referred to is Benoît de Sainte-Maure who died in 1173 and composed in the 1160’s the lengthy Roman de Troie or what we now call the Chronique des Ducs de Normandie.
We might suppose that Wace hears this news via Henry Blois who then procures his unfinished journal into which he then interpolates. Henry interpolates and intertwines what was a preamble to Part III i.e. Holden’s Appendix and constructs a piece which now replaces that, but still is a reworked preamble to part III. In effect Henry Blois employs parts of the material (Trinovantum, Neustria, etc.) which Wace had derived from the Historia which originally had been part of what is now termed the Appendix. He creates a preamble to Wace’s part III. Thus, corroborating through Wace’s chronicles certain aspects of the pseudo-history posited in the Historia.
Henry Blois now composes The Chronique Ascendante as an introduction to Part II. It is my belief that this was constructed from a dedicatory or edificatory piece by Wace which somewhat was intended to flatter Henry II which is no longer extant while mixing it with other material found in the Appendix. The strange thing is that if we look at the last few lines of the Appendix, we shall see that it might have been connected to what Holden has called part II: Bjorn set off with his ships, I do not know whether to Scythia or to Hungary, and Hasting came to the King of France and took up residence with him. The King, on the understanding that he would maintain peace, and defend him against other peoples, gave him Chartres and the Chartrain which he had in his power at the time. Hasting remained there for a long time, and France had been at peace for some time when Rou arrived in Rouen, bringing men from the north; they were called Normans because they had been born in the north.
If we remove the interpolated bridge which is the first five lines of Part II which reads: We have reached the figure of Rou and we will speak to you about Rou; the tale we have to tell begins at this point, but to speed our task, we will reduce the number of lines in each Stanza; the road is long and hard and we fear the toil; the last line of what is deemed the appendix runs straight into the start of Part II which begins: Hasting, who never did anything but harm was in France….
It is plain to see that someone has been interpolating the text and has purposefully given a bogus reason for the Chronique Asendante (now in Alexandrine which was constructed from the dedicatory or eulogy note and preamble to what was part III originally in octosyllabic) inordinately changing to the Alexandrine of part II.
The last sentence to Part III also seems to be based on what Wace might have written or on how someone knew he felt. I am very suspicious that the author of the last paragraph is attempting to have us believe that Wace is writing after 1170556 with reference to Henry the young King:557 Let he whose business it is continue the story. I am referring to Master Beneeit who has undertaken to tell the affair, as the King has assigned the task to him; since the King has asked him to do it, I must abandon it and fall silent. The King in the past was very good to me. I could not have it, it did not please the King; but it is not my fault. I have known three King Henry’s and seen them all in Normandy; all three had lordship over Normandy and England. The second Henry, about whom I am talking, was the grandson of the first Henry and born to Matilda, the empress, and the third was the son of the second. Here ends the book of Master Wace; anyone who wishes to do more, let him do it.
556Wace in the Chronique Ascendante supposedly dates the work in the first sentence: One Thousand, one hundred and sixty years in time and space had elapsed since God in his grace came down in the Virgin when a clerk from Caen by the name of Master Wace undertook the story of Rou and his race….
557He was known in his own lifetime as “Henry the Young King” to distinguish him from his father. His Coronation was in 1170 and ‘reigned’ until 1183. Because he predeceased his father, he is not counted in the numerical succession of Kings of England. Nonetheless, he was an anointed King and his royal status was not disputed.
The last paragraph does not seem natural but seems to be giving a free permission (to whom it may concern) to take up Wace’s text. There is another puzzling insertion in Part III where verse 5296 reads: When the King had died, it was Philip, his eldest son, who was crowned after him; the Duke was a very close friend of his. The verse chronicle would then naturally lead into the next section at verse 5319: The story is a long one before it comes to an end, about how William became King….
Instead, midway through Part III for no apparent reason ‘Wace’ has seen it necessary to implant his personal details in what seems to be an interpolation with seemingly innocuous details concerning the composition of his many other works from verse 5297-5318:
The history of the Normans is a long one and hard to set down in the Vernacular. If one asks who said this, who wrote this history in the vernacular, I say and will say that I am Wace from the Isle of Jersey, which is in the sea toward the West and belongs to the territory of Normandy. I was born on the Island of Jersey and taken to Caen as a small child; there I went to school and was then educated for a long time in France. When I returned from France, I stayed in Caen for a long time and set about composing works in the vernacular; I wrote and composed a good many. With the help of God and King- I must serve no one apart from God- a prebend was given me in Bayeux (may god reward him for this). I can tell you it was Henry the second, the grandson of Henry and the father of Henry.
This, in my opinion, seems highly suspect, not only by its position in the text but by the facts that it ostensibly portrays. The most essential piece of the Roman de Rou which clearly shows an interpolator has been at work is witnessed at the beginning of Part III. Originally Part III began with some sort of dedicatory piece some of which has been absorbed into the present preamble which is mostly composed of what is now termed the Appendix. Originally Wace started part III with the appendix, but it has been reworked to the point where the story resumes from part II: We have dealt with William Longsword, up to the time when the Flemish, as the wicked do, killed him treacherously.
The Chronique Ascendante and part II were separated from Part III and it was Andre Duchense in the early seventeenth century who rescued them from oblivion by copying them in his own hand from a now lost manuscript. So, it may be that Henry Blois only tampered with part III.
Just to be clear, the introduction to part III is constituted from what was Wace’s original dedication to Part III and the first part of the Appendix, which as we have covered, was Wace’s original preamble and introduction to what is Holden’s part II.
In the part which Holden has now termed the Appendix, it is evident that Wace has read the HRB. He regurgitates Geoffrey’s invention that London was called Trinovant and before that New Troy along with other previous names of places.
However, in the new composition to Part III (written by Henry Blois) and rearranged from Wace’s original work we have some startling new additions which are clearly not elucidated in the HRB. But the mind which composed the introduction of Part III has a good grasp on the geography of Wales. He states that Demetia was southern Wales and North Wales was Venedocia, just as ‘Geoffrey’ had understood it, but never clearly defined it in HRB. Also, the area of Burgundy is made clear to be that of the Allobroges which is defining the region of Blois. The Allobroges were definitively the Burgundians, but for the reason of secreting Henry’s authorship, it was not made clear in the HRB either.
Why Autun is equated with ‘Cacua’ is obvious in the fact that nowhere in the Roman annals is there a record of a great battle fought at Autun as ‘Geoffrey’ posits in Arthur’s continental campaign. This anomaly is Henry Blois’ biggest deviation from known history, because when he composed the Primary Historia and invented the Arthurian campaign in Autun (while he was in Normandy in 1137-8); Henry never once thought that he would need to corroborate his epic battle scene near Autun to coincide with the annals. He never envisaged a First Variant being scrutinised by Rome.
Henry, obviously can’t rewrite the Roman annals so that they concur with the continental battle at Langres and Autun in his original Primary Historia…. so he does the next best thing. In Wace he posits that Autun is synonymous with Cacua. It never was nor could be; but in the annals in 151 BC (Second Spanish War), the Roman general Licinius Lucullus (not quite Lucius Hiberius) attacks and captures the town of Cauca, of the tribe known as the Vaccaei. This allows misinterpretation and historic conflation as an explanation to the reader that Arthur’s battle is not in the Roman records.
Also found in the introduction to Part III is the same sentiment found that Wace had commented upon in the original Appendix when talking of Caesar and Alexander: Only what people say about who Alexander and Caesar were, according to what they have found in books; all that remains of them is their names.
Now, when Henry Blois, reiterating the same sentiments as Wace, lays bare his real reason for why he has gone to such great lengths to create his pseudo-history: I understand completely and am fully aware that all men die, cleric and lay, and after their death their fame is short lived unless it is set down in a book by a cleric; it cannot survive or live on in any other way. (v.113-42)
Essentially, what Henry Blois has done is concoct the preamble to Part III using much of Wace’s original text from what is now termed the Appendix to make it seem as if it is Wace’s own preamble to Part III. It is possible that he has also done likewise with the construction of the Chronique Ascendante, however, some later redactor has added in the later interpolation regarding the siege of Rouen. Logically these could not be Wace’s words if he had resigned himself to letting Beneeit resume his chronology if Beneeit died in 1173 and the siege of Rouen took place in 1174. Why would Wace revise his text to incorporate this event?
Henry interpolating or rather composing the Chronique Ascendante from Wace’s words on the subject of Matilda and Stephen has also reiterated his feeling from GS.
Henry’s assessment is now put into the mouth of Wace as to why Stephen’s reign failed: he accepted bad advice and bad advice harmed him.558 However the very next sentence is so wholly inaccurate that it could only be an apologia written by Stephen’s brother: The King so harried her that she recognised his right and gave him the Kingdom as an inheritance; this was greatly to the advantage of both those whom the war pleased and those whom peace pleased; he was King for nineteen years, after which time he died. The same nineteen years are also reiterated at the beginning of the VM when Merlin laments the nineteen apple trees which shows the VM was definitively started by Henry Blois after Stephen’s death.
558Henry Blois’ reference as we covered earlier in the GS to the Beaumont twins.
The main point of the rearrangement of the Roman de Rou is so that the authorship of the Roman de Brut is never left in any doubt in that it is made to seem as if Wace had written it in 1155. The date given for the Roman de Brut seems highly unlikely because ‘Geoffrey’s’ VM had not fully completed yet (and we can determine this by the prophecies which go to the battle of Coleshill in 1157). In the Roman de Brut ‘Teleusin’ is introduced foretelling of Christ’s birth. Henry had just based much of the VM on old Welsh material and Taliesin is introduced to interact with Merlin Celidonius/Sylvestris. To aid the many anachronisms concerning Merlin and Taliesin, Taliesin is now able to appear at different points in time and therefore ‘Wace’ has him predicting Christ’s birth.
Strangely intuitive is Mathews in his ‘Norman literature and Wace’ when he says: We may believe that Wace began his long adaptation of ‘Geoffrey’ on speculation, aware that the folk around him were ready for this kind of narrative in popular form. Henry of Blois, abbot of Glastonbury and bishop of Winchester was at the height of his influence at the time. The Brut is a subject that must have suited his tastes. It was the forerunner of the romance in form and style. Does Mathews have suspicions of the same theory that I am proposing in this thesis? Why would Mathew’s pick our Henry Blois in particular to single out as being interested in Geoffrey or Romance. Wace’s Roman de Brut IS the forerunner of Romance form and style but how does Mathews know that it must have suited the tastes of Henry Blois????