Sponsored by: CSANA
Chair: Michaela Jacques
The early fourteenth-century Anglo-Norman French Romance of Fouke le Fitz Waryn has received attention for its depiction of outlawry in the genre of ‘ancestral’ romance and for its place in the corpus of texts copied by the famous Middle English Ludlow scribe. Set initially in Shropshire, Fouke depicts the disinheritance of Fouke III de Waryn during the reign of King John and Fouke’s adventures during exile on the continent and in native Wales, where he receives assistance from his childhood companion Llywelyn ab Iorwerth. Analyses typically draw parallels to other Anglo-Norman romances of the day such as Gui de Warewic and Boeve de Haumtone. This paper sheds new light by offering a Celtic and Marcher perspective. I argue that Fouke is occupied by Marcher concerns, including land rights in the march of Wales, the independence of Marcher lords, and the English crown’s jurisdictional limits. These themes are consistent with other literary works (chronicles and genealogies), commissioned by Marcher families. The failure of previous critics to recognize key references to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s De gestis Britonum and Prophetiae Merlini has resulted in an underappreciation of the depth of synthesis the author achieves between this family romance and contemporary adaptations of Geoffrey. Placing Fouke in the milieu of Marcher literary production allows for a more focused articulation of Marcher interests during this period and draws attention to the text as a witness to Marcher preoccupations with the Welsh historical past in a post-1282 world.
The Middle Irish tale Araile felmac féig don Mumain is deeply concerned with legal affairs, including the rights of poets and the regulation of satire. It also raises questions concerning legal jurisdiction in eleventh-century Ireland. Of central importance to the narrative is the issue of whether or not the Hiberno-Scandinavian inhabitants of Limerick are subject to Irish law. The story implies a conflict between two attitudes. One of these views the legal system described in Old Irish law tracts as a territorial law, covering the entire island, while the other sees it as personal in jurisdiction, relevant only to Gaels.
Their laws had long been of central importance to the Irish sense of identity, and this story thus hints at a debate around the complex relationship that existed between the Gaelic Irish and their Hiberno-Scandinavian neighbors at a time when the issue of their national identity was foremost in the minds of learned Irishmen. This paper will look at the place of law in this debate, focusing on Araile felmac féig don Mumainand other sources. Finally, it will suggest that the debate around legal jurisdiction and identity in this period can help cast light on earliest period of Ireland’s legal history.