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The Old French William of Tyre and its Continuations

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Archbishop William of Tyre (1175-1185) wrote a history of the crusades and the Frankish states in the East covering the period from the First Crusade (1095-99) to 1184. At some point in the early thirteenth century it was translated from the original Latin into French, and at various points later in that same century various French-language additions (the Continuations) were appended so as to bring the story up to date. Closely connected is an anonymous text, known from its nineteenth-century title as the Chronique d’Ernoul et de Bernard le Trésorier, an independent work in French covering the period from the First Crusade to 1229 or, in some manuscripts, to 1232; for the period 1184-1232 a version of this text formed the basis for the composition of the Continuations.

The importance of the Continuations and Ernoul-Bernard is considerable. Together they constitute the fullest narrative for the events from 1184 until (in the case of one manuscript) 1277 in the territories in the Levant ruled by the crusaders, and they are the most significant historical works composed in the Latin East that describe these years. Their interest lies partly in the historical information they contain, but also in their capacity to mirror the political and cultural preoccupations of both the authors and the original audience.

This is an AHRC-funded project and has two main aims:

  • to produce a modern critical edition of the William of Tyre Continuations and the Chronique d’Ernoul et de Bernard le Trésorier
  • to examine the Old French translation of William of Tyre’s Historia to see how and to what extent the translator modified William’s Latin text and how the text of translation developed in the course of the thirteenth-fifteenth centuries.
Miniature from the British Library Henry Yates Thompson ms. 12  (ca 1250) showing William of Tyre discovering the leprosy of the future King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem.

Miniature from the British Library Henry Yates Thompson ms. 12 (ca 1250) showing William of Tyre discovering the leprosy of the future King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem.

The project began on 1 September 2009 under the direction of Professor Peter Edbury.  He and Dr Massimiliano Gaggero are preparing the new edition. Dr. Philip Handyside, the holder of the project PHD studentship successfully completed his PhD The Old French Translation of William of Tyre in 2012