[Folio 10v]

    De Amico ad Amicam

    A celuy q(ue) pluys eyme en mou(n)de
    Of alle þo þ(a)t I haue fou(n)de
    [Salu[t]z] od treyé1

    In my translation, I choose to reject Spitzer’s usually accepted recommendation to see the od as having the d as an inverse spelling for t, and his rather convoluted logic based on that, given od is actually a standard Anglo-Norman form of the preposition. Instead, treyé is taken here to be an unusual spelling of the Middle English treue, one which is close to the Old English equivalent trywe. Given the scribe uses schent, another Middle English word that directly derives from Old English, this seems plausible. Spitzer, Leo. ‘Emendations Proposed to De Amico ad Amicam and Responcio.’Modern Language Notes 63.7 (1952), pp.150-55 (pp.150-151; treue (adj), sense 1a: ‘faithful in romantic or marital relations;—sometimes used of the heart; also, sincerely in love’, and 1c: ‘in address’, MED Online, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/m/mec/med-idx?type=id&id=MED46999 (accessed 15 June 2018).

    W(i)t(h) grace (and) ioye (and) alle hono(u)r
    Sachez bien, pleysant (et) beele,
    Þ(a)t I am ryȝt in goode heele
    And also þyn owene, nyȝt >(and) day,
    In cisto2

    I follow Spitzer’s recommendation here of seeing these two words as one, incisto, the first person present active indicative form of *incistare ‘to enshrine’, “a nonce word the author may well have coined” (Spitzer, p.154).

    Ma tresduce (et) [tresamé]
    Nyȝt (and) day for loue of þe
    Soyez p(er)manent (et) leal
    Loue me so þ(a)t I it fel
    Jeo suy p(u)r toy dolant (et) tryst
    Thu me peynyst boþe day (and); nyȝt
    Mortes hattȝ3

    In the manuscript, it can be seen that hatt was the original form, with the yogh written later (seemingly by the same hand) over the top of the flourish on the final -t, to form hattȝ. From this, I conclude two things. Firstly, the lines originally read Amore / Mortes hatt[es] tost sun espeye, with hattes from the Anglo-Norman hatier ‘to challenge’ i.e. ‘Love’s Sword readily challenges Death’. This is later corrected to Amorte / Mortes hattȝ tost sun espeye, with hattȝ from the Middle English hatiȝen ‘to feel hatred for’ i.e. ‘Love’s Sword always hates Death’

    tost su(n) espey
    Loue me wel er I deye
    Ȝif I deye I clepe to þe
    Et p(u)r ceo jeo [vo(u)s [pur] creser]4

    In both transcription and translation, I follow Spitzer’s suggestion of adding pry to this line; he suggests this based on the supposition of an Anglo-Norman form *trescere (ModFr très-chère; cf. R line 1, treschere) and on the necessity of adding pry to line 8, jeo [pry] vous sans debat, in the Responcio in order for it to make sense (Spitzer, p.153). Spitzer’s argument becomes all the more convincing given the constunction jeo vous elsewhere in the two poems is only ever followed by pry (DA line 64, pur ceo jeo vous pry, line 67, jeo vous pry pur charité; R line 52, cesteȝ maundés jeo vous pry).

    Loue me wel w(i)t(h) outy(n) daunger
    Et de vo(u)s enpense tut dyȝ5

    Dyȝ is interpreted here the Anglo-Norman dis ‘days’. After the deaffrication of z = /ts/, s and z are entirely interchangeable (cf. e.g. AND, s.v. tuzdis). Ian Short, Manual of Anglo-Norman, 2nd edition (Oxford: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 2013), pp.113-14.

    Of al þe world þu berist þis
    Allas þyn loue wele me sle
    Cu(m) mora
    [Folio 11r]
    Cest est ma [volunté]
    Þat I myȝte be w(i)t(h) þe
    Vostre amo(u)r en mou(n) qoer
    Brennyth hote as doþ þe fyr
    Douce, bele, plesau(n)t chere
    In al þis lond ne is þyn pere
    Chau(n)chant ou la cler note
    Þow art in my(n)t herte rote
    Tost serroy joyo(u)s seyn
    Ȝif þu woldist me ofteyn
    Et tost serroy joyo(u)s (et) [lé]
    Þere nys no þyng þ(a)t shal me
    Ma tresbele (et) [tresamé],
    Ȝif þu wist I lete be
    De cestis [portés] entendement
    And in ȝo(u)re herte takyþ entent
    A vo(u)s jeo suy tut [doné]
    Myn herte is ful of loue to þe
    Et pur ceo jeo vo(u)s pry
    Swetyng for þyn curteysy
    Þe wordys þ(a)t here wretyn be
    And turne þy(n)herte me toward
    O a Dieu, q(ue) vo(u)s gard


    A soun treschere (et) special
    Fer (and) ner (and) overal
    In mundo
    Que soy ou [sal[u]tȝ] 6

    While the manuscript reading saltȝ ‘leaps (for joy)’ makes sense, I have elected to transcribe sal[u]tȝ as this works more convincingly with regards to metre.

    & gré7

    I follow Spitzer’s proposal here for interpreting this line: “The delicate OF mechanism: en without article, ou = en with article, was not understood by [the scribe]… we find claunchant ou la clere note ‘sounding in the (its) clear tone’ : DA line 46] where ou is followed by a feminine article and can only be interpreted as the simple equivalent of the preposition en . We shall be justified then in understanding our line que soy ou saltz et gré = que soit en salut et gré” (Spitzer, p.154).

    With mouth, word (and) herte fre
    Jeo [vo(u)s> [pry] sanz] debat
    Þ(a)t ȝe wolde of myn stat
    Sertefyes a vo() jeo fay
    I wil in tyme whan I may
    Qua(u)nt a vo(u)s venu serray
    I ȝow swere be þis day
    [Folio 11v]
    Mes jeo fuyss’en maladye
    Ȝif ȝe me loue sikyrle
    L’amo(u)r de vo(u)s moy fayt dolent
    But ȝe me love I am schent8

    Schent is an unusual (and potentially archaic?) spelling of the adjectival form of the MidE shenden ‘to harm, mislead, shame, bring death to’. It is very reminiscent of the OE scendan, WS scyndan, and LOE (eleventh century) scent, all meaning ‘to harm’. Shenden (v.), sense 1, 2, and 3, MED Online http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/m/mec/med-idx?type=id&id=MED39857 (accessed 15 June 2018)

    Sy suyre estoy de vostre amo(u)r
    I were as lyȝt as þe flo(u)r
    De moy jeo pry aues [pyté]
    I falle so doþ þe lef on þe tre
    Tot le mou(n)de, longe (et)9

    i.e. ‘far and wide’. Lé = lié, with Anglo-Norman reduction of /ie/ (Short, p.71-3).

    I wolde leue (and) take þe
    Pur vostre amo(u)r, allas, allas,
    I am werse þa(n) I was
    P̱̅(e)r multa
    Jeo suy dolorouse in tut manere,
    Wolde God in ȝo(u)re armys I were
    Jeo a vo(u)s pleyne greuousement
    Þ(a)t þyn loue haþ me schent
    De moy, jeo pri, auez [peté]
    Turnyth ȝo(u)re herte (and) louyth me
    A cestys ay mau(n)de de vous ore
    What bote ist to schent more
    Ȝif I shal trewely troste þe
    Vo(u) estes ma mort (et) ma vye
    I preye ȝow for ȝo(u)re curteysye
    Cesteȝ mau(n)de, jeo vo(u) pry,
    In ȝo(u)re herte stedefastly

    About this text

    Title: De Amico ad Amicam
    Edition: Taylor edition
    Series: Taylor Editions
    Editor: Edited with a translation by Rebecca Henderson.Note: This digital edition was made by Rebecca Henderson (1 June 1994 – 27 February 2019). Rebecca studied for a BA in English and Modern Languages at St Anne’s College, Oxford and then began studying for a MSt. in English 650-1550. This edition was made as part of her coursework for the MSt. It reflects her interest in the multilingual nature of medieval literature, and in making medieval literature accessible – here, by digital means. At the start of her MSt., Rebecca became seriously ill with cancer of the heart, had her heart removed, and returned to her studies the following year with a total artificial heart. Despite these extraordinary challenges, she managed to produce this digital edition, alongside other publications on medieval literature. Tragically, she died from complications after a heart transplant before she could finish the MSt.


    Cambridge, University Library, MS. Gg.4.27


    This manuscript contains 19 texts, including De Amico ad Amicum

    • Hi A, B, C or La Prier de nostre Dame (fol. 5r)
    • Litera directa de Icogon, per G.C (fol.7v)
    • A short ‘Balad de bone conseyl’ is added (fol. 8v)
    • No title, beginning ‘In May when every herte is lyʒt’
    • De Amico ad Amicum (fol. 10v)
    • Responcio (fol. 11r), beginning ‘A soun treschere et special’
    • The five Bookes of Troilus and Cresseid (fol.14r)
    • The Canterbury Tales (fol.123r), breaks off at fol.375v in the ‘Parson’s Prologue’
    • After a gap, the remained of the ‘Parson’s Prologue’ (fol.376r-412v)
    • The Prologue of the Legend of Good Women (fol. 413r)
    • The Legend of Cleopatra (fol. 420r)
    • The Legend of Tisbe of Babylon (fol. 422r)
    • The Legend of Dido, queene of Carthage (fol. 424r)
    • The Legend of Hipsiphile and Medea (fol. 430v)
    • The Legend of Lucrece of Rome (fol. 434v)
    • The Legend of Philomene (fol. 441r)
    • The Legend of Hypermestre (fol. 445v)
    • The Parliament of Fowls (fol. 448r)
    • The Temple of Glass (fol.458r)
    • Supplicatio Amantis (fol. 467), begins ‘Redresse of sorweful O Cytherea’

    The following pieces are then inserted in a different hand:

    • A portion of the Romance of Florice and Blauncheflour, beginning abruptly ‘Heo tok forþ a wel fair þing’
    • Horn, begins ‘Alle beon he bliþe’
    • Asumpcion de nostre Dame, begins ‘Merie tale telle ihe þis day’

    Physical description

    Parchment: written in two hands: 203 x 105mm, i + 14 leaves, in single column. There are illuminated borders using gold, red, blue, and brown paint; there are a number of red and blue initials and flourishes scattered through out the book.


    Written in England in the 15th cent. The original fifteenth-century portion contained 517 leaves, with 63 now missing. All seem to have been removed intentionally with a knife (perhaps not all at the same time), and knife marks appear on the following leaf. In almost every case the missing leaf occurs where we would expect to find illuminated borders and/or miniatures (there is decoration left behind on the stubs); in some instances, the removed leaves have been stitched back in.

    About this edition

    This is a facsimile and transcription of De Amico ad Amicam. Reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library. Shelf mark: Gg.4.27.

    The transcription and translation were encoded in TEI P5 XML by Rebecca Henderson.

    Transcribed from: Cambridge University Library Gg.4.27 (part 1a) ff. 10v-11v. Images scanned from Cambridge University Library Gg.4.27 (part 1a) ff. 10v-11v


    • Blaise, Albert. Dictionnaire LATIN-FRANCAISE des auteurs chrétiens (Turnhout, Belgique: Éditions Brepols, 1962).
    • Dictionnaire du Moyen Français (1330-1500) http://www.atilf.fr/dmf/.
    • MED Online https://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/med/.
    • Short, Ian. Manual of Anglo-Norman, 2nd edition (Oxford: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 2013).
    • Spitzer, Leo. ‘Emendations Proposed to De Amico ad Amicam and Responcio.’ Modern Language Notes 63.7 (1952), 150-55.
    • Souter, Alexander. Glossary of Later Latin (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1949).

    Other Resources


    Publication: Taylor Institution Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford, 2018. XML files are available for download under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License . Images are available for download under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License .

    Source edition

    De Amico ad Amicam. Cambridge, Cambridge University Library, MS. Gg.4.27, fols. 10v-11v. (with an English translation by Rebecca Henderson.)

    Editorial principles

    Created by encoding transcription from manuscript.

    Folios have been indicated as this corresponds to the labelling of pages in the manuscript (as can be seen in the top right hand corner of f.11r); this is also consistent with descriptions of the manuscript in catalogue entries and other scholarship. The other folios contain around 38 lines of writing in a single column aligned to the left of the page; lineation for transcription and translation is complicated by the mise-en-page here. At first glance, the poem appears to be written in rhyming couplets, with the first line in French, the second in English (bar the final couplet of De Amico ad Amicam, where the English comes first). Beside each couplet, almost interlineally, is a single Latin word: the scribe has shown the connections through a kind of bracket connecting rhyming words. As the scribe has visually drawn attention to patterns of rhyme, this is reflected in the transcription by the addition of breaks to divide the poems into stanzas of six lines. The Latin, placed after each rhyming couplet, is indented to show its spatial separation in the manuscript.

    General principles of transcription:

    • All punctuation is editorial and is intended only due to facilitate reading due to the challenging syntax and sentence structure
    • All abbreviations have been expanded; expansions are italicised and follow the orthography of the scribe
    • Both r and s have only one form despite variation in the manuscript
    • & is used to represent the tironian nota. It is expanded to "et" in Latin and Anglo-Norman, and to "and" in Middle English
    • Rejected readings and linguistic points of interest appear in footnotes
    • Insertions have been indicated by square brackets
    • Scribal use of u/v and i/j has been retained.
    • é has been used to indicate a tonic e
    • Word division has been retained