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calculated to offer to his salvation, and he thought that neither his own nor his son's would be secure if they remained in the same monastery. In order, therefore, to render their separation more entire and more irrevocable, he made him cross the sea, sending him to Normandy under the care of a monk named Ragnold, where Ordericus, making an endowment of thirty silver marks, entered the abbey of Ouche, belonging to the rule of St. Benedict, and founded by St. Evroult, an Orleanais saint, for whom Odelirius, as his countryman, felt especial veneration. This abbey, which at a later period took its founder's name, stood in that part of the diocese of Lisieux which is now included in the department of the Orne. Buried in the bosom of forests, enriched since the eleventh century with a considerable library, and inhabited by monks who were the friends of learning, the abbey of Ouche was a retreat well calculated to foster the studious turn of mind which, it is said, was already remarked in the young novice. John, the sub-prior of the abbey, had the charge of his education, and formed a strong attachment for him; he also gained the goodwill of the rest of the monks, and among others that of Mainier, then abbot of St. Evroult. Ordericus entered the monastery in the year 1085. The year following, on the 22nd of September, the feast of St. Maurice, he received the tonsure, changing at the same time his English name of Ordericus for that of Vitalis,2 one of the companions of the saint whose memory was that day observed. On the 15th of March, 1091, Gilbert Maminot, bishop of Lisieux, admitted him to the order of sub-deacon at the request of Serlo d'Orgères, the then abbot of St. Evroult; and two years afterwards, on the 26th of March, 1093, Serlo himself, having then become bishop of Lisieux, ordained him deacon. Ordericus was then eighteen years of age. All the records of those ancient times concur in informing us with what holy fear truly pious men then regarded the duties of the priesthood, how they shrunk from undertaking them, and often only consented to accept the office upon the express command of their superiors. It was not till fifteen years afterwards, the 21st of December, 1107, that

1 Our author pays an affectionate tribute to his father's memory in book v. c. 14 of the following History, where he says that he never saw him again after this early separation. See also book v. c. 1.

2 The name Ordericus, is also variously written Odericus, Udalricus, &c. The last seems to point to the priest from whom our author derived his name of baptism, being, as well as his schoolmaster, of Scandinavian extraction. He tells us that it was changed to Vitalis, because his former name appeared barbarous to the Normans. There seems an impropriety in the common practice of combining his name of baptism with that of his profession, as the latter superseded the former. He always calls himself simply Vitalis, but there is authority for using both names in the oldest MSS. of his works.

William Bonne-Ame, archbishop of Rouen laid on Ordericus, as he tells us himself, "the burden of the priesthood."1


Such are the simple facts which the writings of this excellent monk supply concerning his own life. Taking no part in worldly affairs, and equally a stranger to the high places of his own profession, we find him never quitting his retirement but, on one occasion, to attend a general chapter of the order of St. Benedict convoked by the abbot of Cluni, and for two journeys, one to Worcester, the other to Cambray, both, as it would appear, undertaken for the purpose of procuring information necessary in the prosecution of his literary works. These formed the sole employment of his life, and he does not appear to have pushed his labours to extreme old age, for he tells us, at the close of his history, that he had reached his sixty-seventh year, and the thirty-fourth of his ministry in the priesthood, when he felt himself compelled by age and infirmities to bring his work to a close; and it is scarcely probable that, after a career so occupied, release from labour very long preceded that from life. We ought then, if I am not mistaken, to place the death of Ordericus Vitalis in the year 1141, or at the latest in 1142. The authors of the Histoire Littéraire de la France have fixed the year 1143 as the period at which his work concluded; but they are evidently under a mistake, for at the end of his last book Ordericus speaks of Stephen king of England as being at that time in confinement, but that prince, who was made prisoner at the battle of Lincoln on the 20th of February, 1141, was exchanged in the month of November of the same year. Again, he mentions the death of John, bishop of Lisieux, as having occurred so recently that his successor was not yet appointed; and the bishop died on the 21st of May, 1141. Besides which, he reckons eleven years from the election of Pope Innocent II., which took place in the month of February, 1130. Everything therefore concurs in pointing out the year 1141 as the period at which Ordericus found himself under the necessity of terminating the labours to which his life was consecrated.

His work, devoted in an especial manner to the glory of Normandy, comprised originally but the seven last books, in which Norman history, in point of fact, holds the first place. At a later period he added four books, the present third, fourth, fifth, and sixth, to enable himself to give fuller particulars of some events,

1 He was ordained priest on the feast of St. Thomas, 1107, in company with one hundred and twenty others, being then, as he tells us, thirty-three years of age. Book xi. c. 30, and book xiii. at the end.

2 During this journey to England our author also spent some weeks at Croyland Abbey, where, as he tells us, he collected the materials for several chapters of his fourth book, and, at the request of the monks, composed the epitaph on Earl Waltheof. See book iv. c. 15-17.

as well as to connect the glory of Normandy with that of the abbey of Ouche,on the foundation and progress of which the new books enter into minute details. Furthermore, having a due regard to his own character, and ambitious of the honour of bequeathing to posterity a complete universal history, from the birth of Jesus Christ to his own day, he composed the first and second books, containing long extracts from the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, and legends which give an account of the establishment of Christianity in Asia and Africa, as well as in Europe, concluding the whole with short chronicles, or rather tables of the emperors and popes. Then, at last, Ordericus considered his work complete, and gave it the title of an Ecclesiastical History, a title which singularly exhibits, as we have elsewhere observed, how far the church had then become the centre of society.

It is plain enough that the way in which his work was put together has contributed in no small degree to the confusion which reigns throughout the writings of the monk of St. Evroult his whole object having been to make collections from all quarters of facts, traditions, adventures, acts, and letters, his work repeatedly changed its form and its object while under his hands, and he gave himself but little trouble, except to find a place in it, no inatter in what order, for all the stores of information he had gathered. Accordingly, on more than one occasion his materials seem thrown together pell-mell, as chance or opportunity brought them into the author's power; sometimes he interrupts the course of his narrative by dividing the account of a particular event into distinct portions, separated by long intervals; and, at others, he repeats the same story in different parts of his work; so that the reader is continually surprised by the strange manner in which times, and places, and subjects, the most distant and the most incongruous, are brought together. No sort of art or method appears to have been used in combining this prodigious mass of facts, and when the work is considered as a whole, from a single point of view, one cannot fail, on a first impression, of being most sensible of this striking confusion. But this irregular surface covers a mine of real wealth. No book contains so much and such valuable information on the history of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, on the political state, both civil and religious, of society in the west of Europe, and on the manners of the times, whether feudal, monastic, or popular. In his genuine honesty and native frankness, Ordericus makes no attempt to argue anything, to conceal anything: he tells his story, and gives his opinion; he blames or approves, without any other idea but that of publishing what he knows and what he thinks. Simple, credulous, and having no pretensions to be considered a sagacious observer, or a

critic, still he was independent and sincere-rare merits among the monkish chroniclers of his own age, who, besides, are quite as deficient as himself in those qualities wherein he failed.

The History of Ordericus has not hitherto been translated; the version which we now present to the public is the work of M. Louis du Bois, of Lisieux, a man of letters, whose modesty is equal to his diligence, and who, having devoted himself to all that is interesting in connection with Normandy, his native country, is already well known by some useful works on the antiquities and statistics of that fine province. The principal difficulties which lie in the way of the readers of Ordericus Vitalis arise from the vast variety of minute circumstances, of distant allusions, and of geographical references, connected with Normandy. It was, therefore, of importance that the translation should be made on the very spot, among the recollections to which it would give rise, and by a person capable of explaining the local obscurities, so to speak, of the text, in short but frequent notes. M. Du Bois, having kindly undertaken this minute task, will best be able to give an account of his proceedings, and we therefore propose to close this notice by subjoining an exact copy of the report with which he has favoured us, respecting the manuscripts of the historians of St. Evroult, the labours of which they were the object, and the researches to which he has devoted himself.'

"In the earliest manuscripts of Ordericus Vitalis, his work takes the title of Orderici Vitalis Angli Monachi Uticensis Historia Ecclesiastica. It is thus entitled in a manuscript which came from the abbey of St. Evroult itself, and, as we are inclined to believe, in the author's own hand-writing, of which we shall presently speak more in detail. Duchesne was unaware of the exis ence of this autograph, and printed his edition from more recent manuscripts, under the title of Orderici Vitalis Angligenæ Cœnobii Uticensis Monachi, libri xiii.

"The autograph manuscript of the abbey of St. Evroult served in former times for the original of the different copies which were dispersed of this important history.

"In the beginning of the sixteenth centuary, a monk of St.

1 M. Du Bois was the author of an able article on the life of Ordericus Vitalis, published in 1822 in the Bibliographie Universelle, which has supplied the materials for the present notice. It would appear from some expressions at the close of the article, that he then contemplated using the result of his researches in publishing a corrected edition of the text of Ordericus, lamenting, however, that, at that time, the publication of works of erudition, particularly in Latin, was a difficult enterprise for an individual. He seems to have changed his intention, and four years afterwards began to publish his translation.

Evroult (probably Vallin), made a copy of this manuscript, which was then composed of four volumes, and in a perfect state. The copy formed also four volumes, in a handwriting which, though not very close, was almost illegible. According to Charles du Jardin, prior of the abbey of St. Evroult in 1717, the two first volumes of this copy were then at the abbey of St. Ouen, at Rouen, and the two others at that of Glanfeuil-sur-Loire. I have reason to think that the prior Du Jardin was mistaken; the two volumes now in the library at Rouen, which were brought from St. Ouen, are the two last of the work, containing the seven last books.

"The royal library possesses the following MSS. of Ordericus: No. 5122, MS. de Bigot; the one which Duchesne used. No. 5123, MS. de Colbert, two volumes. No. 5124, MS. de Baluz, two volumes, containing only the five first books.

[These MSS. are in folio, written on paper, and all of the sixteenth century.]

No. 5506, MS. de Colbert, as No. 5123. 2 volumes on vellum, containing only the six first books.

"There is also in the same library, No. 4861, a MS. on vellum in folio, mixed with others which came from Bigot, and containing a fragment entitled: Fragmentum ex Orderici Vitalis histori libro tertio de novis monachorum Cistercentium, et aliorum illius sæculi institutis. This copy is the more curious because it is of the thirteenth century.

"Independently of these different copies, which are more or less faulty, and even incomplete, there is in the library of St. Germain-des-Prés, a copy of the three first books, bequeathed to it by Coaslin de Cambout, and made in the sixteenth century, at the time when the autograph was still perfect, by Vallin, a monk of St Evroult, who dedicated it to his abbot Felix de Brie.

The most valuable manuscript of Ordericus Vitalis was preserved in the abbey in which he wrote his history. We have now indeed only the fragments of this autograph, but even the fragments are precious. I had the pleasure of saving them from imminent danger of destruction at L'Aigle in 1799, just after I was nominated by the assembly librarian of the central school of the Orme, and I hastened to deposit them in the establishment committed to my care. The manuscript forms a quarto volume, written on parchment, which the monks of St. Evroult, in their negligence, during the seventeenth century, took no care to have fresh bound until they had suffered great part to decay and be lost. We know that it was perfect at the commencement of the preceding century, because a copy of it was then made, which, though unfortunately marked by blanks and omissions, is still of great value. What remains of this autograph is as follows: book vii., four leaves;

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