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twelfth century, while English history was being told by foreigners or in a foreign fashion, an important influence entered England from another direction. This new influence came from the Britons, or Welsh, in the west. There was a priest named Geoffrey who lived in the Welsh border country, and who was probably of Welsh descent. He was archdeacon of the Church at Monmouth, and is commonly known as GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH. In 1152, just before his death, he was made Bishop of St. Asaph, a little town in the mountains of northern Wales. This Geoffrey wrote a book in Latin, which pretended to be a history of Britain from the earliest times. In reality it was a collection of old Celtic legends and traditions about imaginary Kings of Britain. Geoffrey himself may have believed these stories, at any rate he told them as though he thought they were true. He tells us how Brutus, the descendant of the Trojan hero, Æneas, came to Albion, or Britain, which was then inhabited by giants, and how he built a new Troy, the city of London, by the river Thames. Now this book, while it has no value as history, had a great effect on literature. It contained many wonderful stories, such as the story of King Lear and his daughters, the story of Ferrex and Porrex, which three hundred years later was made the subject of the first English tragedy; and, above all, the story of the great British King Arthur. While these stories were told by Geoffrey in a comparatively brief and prosaic way, readers of that time were fascinated by their novelty and charm. Poets both in Normandy and England retold some of these stories at greater length, finding in these Celtic legends a great storehouse of romance, and so, in time, many of the stories of the Celts in Wales, or in Brittany across the Channel, became an important part of Nor

man and of English literature. To the Norman influence on English literature there was thus added in the twelfth century the influence of the Celt.

The Romances. - This period immediately succeeding the Conquest is also the period of those long chivalric poems or metrical romances, in which the Normans excelled. Some of these poems dealt with the exploits of the famous French King, Charlemagne, and his Knights, some treated of Alexander the Great, some of the siege of Troy, while one large and important group, or cycle, of poems retold the various adventures of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. These romances were very different from Beowulf or other narrative poems of the north. Romantic love, absent in Beowulf, holds a large place in many of them; they are in a different verse from that used by the old English gleemen, and while they tell a story pleasantly and easily, they lack the tragic power and depth which we find in the poetry of the Germanic races of the north.

Triumph of the English Language over the French. For many generations after the Conquest the language and literature of the foreigner continued to hold the first place in England, so that the people of the upper class, if they thought about the matter at all, must have felt sure that in time French would become the national speech. But in the thirteenth century the native English speech began to force its way slowly towards a position of wider importance, and, in the century following, it triumphed over its foreign rival.

This victory of the English language over the French was largely due to two things. In the first place, English was the mother tongue of the great mass of the people. And not only did the people who spoke Eng

lish outnumber those who spoke French, but the English were slow and averse to changes, so they kept stubbornly to their own speech. In the second place, this triumph of English was promoted by an important change in the relation of England to the French-speaking people on the Continent. In 1204 King John lost nearly all his continental possessions, a territory comprising three fifths of modern France. Up to this time the upper class in England had been in frequent communication with the people in Normandy and in the other French possessions of the English crown. Some of the great nobles held estates on both sides of the Channel, and the Kings of England themselves spent most of their time in their possessions abroad. Now, at the opening of the thirteenth century, this close connection between England and the Continent came suddenly to an end. When England was joined to the Continent by the Norman Conquest, it was as though a bridge had been laid across the Channel by which French and Latin culture could pass over; when John lost Normandy, it was as though that bridge had been broken down. England was no longer one of the possessions of a foreign ruler; hereafter the King, having lost his lands abroad, must make England his home. Even before this, the distinctions between the Normans and the English in England had begun to disappear. Now "every man in England was an Englishman and nothing more," and the whole people were bound together in one united nation, as they had never been before. All this worked surely but slowly in favor of a general adoption of the English language, in the daily life of the people and in their literature.

Rise of Literature in English. The causes that were thus bringing about a more wide-spread use of English

in the thirteenth century were at the same time contributing to the development of a literature in the native tongue. The first important work illustrating this revival was LAYAMON's Brut (about 1205), a poem written near the border of Wales. Although Layamon lived in such a remote place and time, he seems to us a very real person. His home was at Earnley, he tells us, a noble church upon the Severn's bank.” There he passed a quiet, studious life as parish priest, and there " it came to him in mind, in his chief thought, that he would tell the noble deeds of England." With this purpose in view, he traveled " wide over the land,” seeking the books that told of England's past, and procured, among others, Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, and the Brut" of the French Clerk that was named Wace." The latter was a Norman-French poem, written in all probability in England, and perhaps given by its author to Eleanor, Queen of Henry II. : It retold in a more vigorous and entertaining way the fabulous stories that Geoffrey of Monmouth had told in his legendary history of Britain. Layamon laid before him these books, and turned the leaves; lovingly he beheld them;" and with Wace's poem as a model he wrote an English metrical version of the same stories. The poem is interesting principally for its tales of King Arthur and his Round Table. Living on the Welsh border, Layamon was evidently familiar with many traditions of the British hero which Wace passed over, and was thus able to enter more fully into the spirit of his theme. With true British sympathy he tells the story of Merlin, the enchanter; and of the great-hearted and valorous king, leading his armies against the heathen invaders. In a vivid way he pictures the horrors of warfare in that far-off time, and recounts with genuine poetic

feeling the death of Arthur and his faring forth to sea.

Romances. - In addition to Layamon's Brut there were a number of metrical romances in the thirteenth century that likewise mark the rise of English poetry. The fact that more and more people were speaking English seems to have encouraged the writing of a number of English versions of Norman-French romances which before this time had been popular in France or among the upper classes in England. The English people were appropriating and absorbing the French literature which a hundred and fifty years before had been entirely new to them. Some of these romances, however, such as Havelok the Dane (about 1270–1280), and Guy of Warwick (about 1300), are founded on Norman versions of Danish or English themes, just as Layamon's Brut was based upon a French version of Geoffrey of Monmouth. Havelok and Sir Guy are local heroes; and the poems are written in a characteristically English vein. The story of Havelok begins:

“Hearken to me, good men,
Wives, maidens, and all men,
Of a tale to you I'll tell,
Whoe'er will hear, and on it dwell.

At the beginning of our tale
Fill me a cup of full good ale,
And we'll drinken here a spell,

That Christ may shield us all from hell.” No doubt these tales, sung by a minstrel before an eager audience in the hall of a great house, or to a group of servants in the kitchen, or of travelers at an inn, were listened to intently, even though they were often long and sometimes tedious. They were interesting because they were stories of adventure and romance. The French and British romances are very different in spirit

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