De nugis curialium
is the major surviving work of the 12th century Latin
author Walter Map
. He was an English
courtier of Welsh
descent, probably born in Herefordshire
, whose studies and employment took him to Canterbury
and to several royal and noble courts of western Europe. The book takes the form of a series of anecdotes of people and places, offering many sidelights on the history of his own time. Some are from personal knowledge, and apparently reliable; others represent popular rumours about history and current events, and are often far from the truth.
Outline of contents
- Anecdote of Gregory, a monk of Gloucester
- Anecdotes of Peter of Tarentaise
- Anecdote about a hermit, a demonic pet snake, and foolish charity
- A meeting with Luke of Hungary (afterwards archbishop of Esztergom) at Gerard la Pucelle's lectures at the University of Paris; Luke's later encounters with the warring royal family of Hungary, Géza II, his sons István III and Béla III and brothers László II and István IV, as told to Walter Map by Hugh of le Mans, bishop of Acre
- Welsh religious practices, as exemplified by a retainer in the household of William de Braose, Lord of Bramber
- Helya, a Welsh hermit in the Forest of Dean
- Tale about Cadoc, Welsh king and saint
- Tale of the Welshman Gwestin Gwestiniog and his fairy bride; the tale of their son Triunein Vagelauc, his service at the court of the king of Deheubarth, and an attack on King Brychan of Brycheiniog (i.e., Brecknock)
- Tales of Wild Edric, his fairy bride, and their son Alnoth; with a brief discussion of incubi and succubi
- Brief meditation on fantastic narratives and their theological implications; tale of a knight of "Lesser Britain" (i.e., Brittany) who rescued his dead wife from the fairies
- Tale of demonic infanticide
- Tale of Saint Anthony, who encountered both a centaur and (apparently) Pan while searching for Saint Paul
- Anecdote about an unknown knight at a tournament in Louvain
- The legendary fighter Gado and a supposed Roman invasion of Offa's kingdom
- Tales of Andronikos I Komnenos
- Gillescop the Scot
- The Welsh and their hospitality
- Tales of King Llywelyn and his wife; with a reminiscence of a discussion of the Welsh between Walter Map and Thomas Becket
- Tales from South Wales: Conan the Fearless, Cheveslin the Thief, and a story from Hay-on-Wye
- Vampire tales, citing Gilbert Foliot and Roger, bishop of Worcester
- Vampire tale from the Historia Caroli Magni (pseudo-Turpin)
- A ghost story from Northumberland
- The benefits of not following proverbial advice
- Brief conclusion in which Walter calls himself a "huntsman" (venator) who brings home game for the reader
- Prologue; a brief justification of fiction and its pleasures
- The friendship of Sadius and Galo
- The quarrels of Parius and Lausus
- The story of Raso the vavasour and his wife
- The story of Rollo and his wife
- Autobiographical prologue and "epilogue"
- Copy of the letter (sometimes found among the works of Saint Jerome) in which Valerius advises Rufinus against marriage
- Story of the boy Eudo deceived by the Devil
- Story of a Cluniac monk (already told in Distinctio prima)
- Story of a knight of "Lesser Britain" (i.e., Brittany) who rescued his dead wife from the fairies (already told in Distinctio secunda)
- Story of Henno-with-the-Teeth (probably the Norman nobleman Hamo Dentatus) and his Melusine-like wife
- Story of Wild Edric and his fairy bride; with a description of their interview with King William I (already told in Distinctio secunda but here the tale includes details not found in the earlier account)
- Story of Gerbert of Aurillac (Pope Sylvester II) deceived by the Devil
- Story of the cobbler of Constantinople
- Story of the merman Nicholas Pipe; anecdotes about phantom herds of animals; story of King Herla (already told in Distinctio prima); a brief satire on the court of King Henry II
- Story of Salius
- Story of Alan, so-called King of Brittany (apparently Alan Fergant)
- Story of the merchants Sceva and Ollo
- Antonia Gransden, Historical writing in England, c. 550 to c. 1307 (London: Routledge, 1974) pp. 242-244.
- Leo Ruickbie, Witchcraft Out of the Shadows: A Complete History. Robert Hale, 2004.
Editions and translations
- Gualteri Mapes De nugis curialium distinctiones quinque ed. Thomas Wright. London: Camden Society, 1850 (Latin text).
- Walter Map, De nugis curialium ed. M. R. James. Oxford, 1914. Anecdota Oxoniensia, Medieval and modern series, 6 (Latin text).
- Walter Map's De nugis curialium tr. M. R. James. 1923. Cymmrodorion Record Series no. 9 (translation).
- Walter Map. De nugis curialium. Ed. and tr. M. R. James, C. N. L. Brooke, and R. A. B. Mynors. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983. (Latin text and facing-page English translation).