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  • Three Anglo-Norman Treatises on Falconry
  • David Trotter
Three Anglo-Norman Treatises on Falconry. Edited by Tony Hunt. (Medium Ævum Monographs, new ser, 26). Oxford: Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature, 2009. 179 pp. Hb £30.00 (£15.00 to members).

Given its importance in the Middle Ages, it is hardly surprising that falconry should have generated a substantial number of treatises and texts of different sorts. Here Tony Hunt edits three of them, adding to his already prodigious contribution to the non-literary fields of medicine, botany, and religious writing. A short but very useful Introduction gives an idea of the range of the extant literature and of recent scholarship, but with no ambitions to exhaustivity. The topic inevitably goes far beyond French, and the texts form part of a European tradition that in addition extends to the Orient. Particularly valuable for the uninitiated are the pages (10-16) that outline the practicalities of training and medicine. The first treatise, in a Cambridge manuscript, is in prose with a verse prologue and epilogue and some passages where the author lapses into verse in mid-text. Medical treatments outweigh venery. The second, in many ways the most challenging, is a verse treatise from Winchester, whose relationship with Latin exemplars, which also lie behind the Occitan Dels auzels cassadors, is indicated in the notes. The third text is called the Medicinal des oiseus, and a Physica avium in Latin completes the volume. The texts are largely well edited, and the notes, whilst seemingly making no attempt to identify every parallel with other texts, [End Page 473] help the reader to understand both the matter at hand and the context in which it was written. In the case of the Winchester treatise in particular, a comprehensive alignment with both Dels auzels cassadors and the treatise by Adelard of Bath might have helped to elucidate an often obscure text; in the Medicinal, where there are three Insular manuscripts, variants assist significantly in this regard. The edition by Gleßgen of the Moamin treatise (with copious lexicological commentary) might have helped further. Each text is accompanied by a separate glossary; this I found the least satisfactory part of the edition. Definitions are terse, and in a number of instances text and glossary disagree as to spellings: so, tus (Winchester [henceforth W] 726) is listed as tos in the glossary, escortre (W 637) is given as estortre in the glossary, the glossary's estrikesauve is printed (W 480) as escrikesauve. In all these cases the glossary reading is probably the correct one. The W text in particular is rich in words and collocations seemingly not otherwise attested, but by no means all appear in the glossary: achette (W 223; AND hachette); cigonceus pl. ('baby storks' not 'cygnets', cf. Adelard 24 'iuvenes ciconias' in the note, and FEW 22,665b from 1170 on; W 402); maie buire as a variant (with English word-order?) of the more common bure de mai (cf. AND, concordance search of citations 'bure') (W 492); rivaor 'waterfowling dog?' (W 599); peloteces (l. pelotetes? W 607); andre (W) 738) is probably the same word as andre´ '?betony' 481 (in the glossary); rafne (W 738); tarier (W 757); verinal (W 783); all perhaps merited a mention. Crime (W 726) is possibly crinie (AND crine); manie´ (W 707) is possibly better manje´. Above all, faced with difficult and, for most readers, unfamiliar material, the meanings attributed by the editor to the words needed to be justified and explained.

David Trotter
Aberystwyth University


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