WACE (c. 1110 – after 1174 ), sometimes referred to as ROBERT
WACE, was a Norman poet , who was born in
Jersey and brought up in
Normandy (he tells us in the
Roman de Rou that he was taken
as a child to
Caen ), ending his career as Canon of
* 1 Life
* 2 Works
Roman de Brut
Roman de Rou
* 3 Language
* 4 See also
* 5 Notes
* 6 References
* 7 External links
All that is known of Wace's life comes from autobiographical
references in his poems. He neglected to mention his birthdate;
sometime between 1099 and 1111 is the most commonly accepted year of
The name Wace, used in
Jersey until the 16th century, appears to have
been his only name; surnames were not universally used at that time.
It was quite a common first name in the Duchy of
Normandy , derived
from Germanic personal name Wasso. The spelling and the pronunciation
of this name were rendered different ways in the texts, according to
the place where the copyists were from. In the various versions of the
Roman de Rou, his name appears five times as Wace, then Gace (once),
Vace, Vacce, Vaicce (three times all together). Until the 11th
century, the w spelling corresponded to the pronunciation (like in
English) in Northern
Normandy (including the Channel Islands), but it
shifted to in the 12th century. South to an isogloss corresponding
more or less to the
Ligne Joret , had been turned to and later
(like in common French). Today the name survives as the patronymic
surname Vasse in
Normandy and in the North of France and Gasse
further south (including also Normandy).
It is speculated that he may have been of aristocratic origin, as he
was sent to
Caen to be educated, which would have been virtually
impossible for most. His detailed writing on maritime matters may have
stemmed from his island upbringing.
Wace returned to
Caen and took ecclesiastical work,
possibly as a teacher.
The date of Wace's death is uncertain. The most recent event
described in the
Roman de Rou may be dated to 1174. In the Rou, Wace
Henry the Young King
Henry the Young King as living. The latter lived until
1183, which means that
Wace probably did not revise the Rou after that
His extant works include the
Roman de Brut , a verse history of
Roman de Rou , and other works in verse, including the
Lives of Saint Margaret and
Saint Nicholas .
ROMAN DE BRUT
Roman de Brut (c. 1155) was based on the
Historia Regum Britanniae of
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth . It cannot be regarded as a history in any
modern sense, although
Wace often distinguishes between what he knows
and what he does not know, or has been unable to find out. Wace
narrates the founding of Britain by
Brutus of Troy
Brutus of Troy to the end of the
legendary British history created by Geoffrey of Monmouth. The
popularity of this work is explained by the new accessibility to a
wider public of the Arthur legend in a vernacular language. In the
midst of the Arthurian section of the text,
Wace was the first to
mention the legend of
King Arthur 's Round Table and the first to
ascribe the name
Excalibur to Arthur's sword, although on the whole he
adds only minor details to Geoffrey's text.
Roman de Brut became the basis, in turn, for
Layamon 's Brut , an
alliterative Middle English poem, and
Piers Langtoft 's Chronicle.
Historian Matthew Bennett, in an article entitled "
Wace and warfare,"
has pointed out that
Wace clearly had a good understanding of
contemporary warfare, and that the details of military operations he
invents to flesh out his accounts of pseudo-historical conflicts can
therefore be of value in understanding the generalities of warfare in
Wace's own time.
ROMAN DE ROU
His later work, the Roman de Rou, was, according to Wace,
commissioned by King
Henry II of England
Henry II of England . A large part of the Roman
de Rou is devoted to William the Conqueror and the
Norman Conquest .
Wace's reference to oral tradition within his own family suggests that
his account of the preparations for the Conquest and of the Battle of
Hastings may have been reliant not only on documentary evidence but
also on eyewitness testimony from close relations—though no
eyewitnesses would have been still alive when he began work on the
Roman de Rou also includes a mention of the appearance of
Halley\'s Comet . The relative lack of popularity of the Roman de Rou
may reflect the loss of interest in the history of the Duchy of
Normandy following the incorporation of continental
Normandy into the
kingdom of France in 1204.
The Romance language
Wace wrote in is variously regarded as an Old
Norman dialect of the
Norman language , a dialect of
Old French , or
specifically the precursor of
Jèrriais . Writers in
Wace as the founder of
Jersey literature, and
sometimes referred to as the language of
Wace although the poet
himself predated the development of
Jèrriais as a literary language.
Wace is the earliest known
Although the name Robert has been ascribed to Wace, this is a
tradition resting on little evidence. It is generally believed
Wace only had one name. As a clerc lisant, he was proud
of his title of Maistre (master) and is consequently sometimes
referred to as Maistre Wace.
There is a granite memorial stone to
Wace built into the side of the
States Building in
Jersey 's Royal Square. This includes a quote from
Roman de Rou that expresses the poet's pride in his place of
birth: Jo di e dirai ke jo sui
Wace de l’isle de Gersui
J'dis et dithai qu'jé sis
Wace dé l'Île dé Jèrri
Je dis et dirai que je suis
Wace de l'île de
I say and will say that I am
Wace from the Island of
* ^ Burgess, ed., at xiii
* ^ Burgess, ed., at xvi
* ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Robert Wace". Catholic
Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
* ^ René Lepelley, Guillaume le duc, Guillaume le roi : extraits
du ROMAN DE ROU de Wace, Centre de publication de l'Université de
Caen, Caen, 1987, p. 15.
* ^ Lepelley 15
* ^ Repartition of Vasse in France (according to the number of
births) In the south of France, it is probably an unrelated name
* ^ Repartition of Gasse in France (according to the number of
* ^ Maistre Wace
* ^ Bennett, "
Wace and warfare"
* Bennett, Matthew (1988). "
Wace and Warfare". Anglo-Norman Studies.
* Cristian Bratu, “Translatio, autorité et affirmation de soi
Wace et Benoît de Sainte-Maure.” The Medieval
Chronicle 8 (2013): 135-164.
* Charles Foulon, "Wace" in Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages,
Roger S. Loomis (ed.). Clarendon Press :
Oxford University . 1959.
* Wace, Roman de Brut, ed. I. Arnold, 2 vols.,
Paris , 1938-1940.
* Weiss, Judith, Wace's Roman de Brut. A History of the British.
Text and Translation, Exeter, 2006.
* Arnold, I., and Pelan, M., La partie arthurienne du Roman de Brut,
* Wace, Roman de Rou, ed. J. Holden, 3 vols. Paris, 1970-1973.
* Wace, Roman de Rou, ed. G. Burgess,
Woodbridge, Suffolk , 2004.