Elisabeth M. C. van Houts, in William of Jumièges,
Orderic Vitalis and Robert of Torigni, The Gesta Normannorum
Ducum, 2 volumes, ed. & trans. Elisabeth M. C. van
Houts, Oxford Medieval Texts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992-1995):
1:xxviii-xxix. ©1992, Elisabeth M. C. van Houts.
— xxviii —
The earliest possible literary composition [at Jumièges after its refoundation] may have been the Lament
on the Death of William Longsword. The planctus was written after 942 when the Norman William was
murdered, but before 963, the year of the death of William III of Aquitaine, who is mentioned as being still alive.
Its composition should probably be dated shortly after December 942.41 Although its two manuscripts
are of non-Norman origin,42 the
— xxix —
poem itself is a contemporary source for the refoundation of Jumièges by William Longsword, the arrival
of Abbot Martin from Poitiers, William's wish to become a monk at Jumièges, and the gruesome details of
his death. It ends with an apostrophe to Richard I. The most likely place where all this information would have
been known was of course Jumièges, though the references to Abbot Martin and William III do not exclude
the possibility that the poem might have been written at Poitiers.43
41. Editions by J. Lair, Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes, xxxi (1870), 392-40; P.
Lauer, Le Règne de Louis IV, pp. 319-23; and P. A. Becker, 'Der planctus auf den Normannenherzog
Wilhelm Langschwert (942)', Zeitschrift für französische Sprache und Literatur, lxiii (1939),
190-7. For its genre, see C. Thiry, La Plainte funèbre (Turnhout, 1978); J. Yearly, 'A bibliography
of planctus', Journal of the Plainsong and Medieval Music Society, iv (1981), 12-52, at p. 21. no. L80.
Lauer's edition is the best. For Count William III, see Lauer, p. 323: 'al[ter] quoque adhuc fulget pictaue[n]sis'.
The wild conjecture of Becker in str. xv (see his edn., pp 195, 197 n. 1) should be rejected.
42. Clermont-Ferrand, BM 240, fo. 45r; see also G. de Poerck's detailed discussion of this manuscript,
'Le Ms Clermont-Ferrand 240...', Scriptorium, xviii (1964), 11-33, at p. 25. It was written about the
middle of the 10th c. at the cathedral of Clermont; the planctus is one of four poems added slightly later.
In the second slightly younger manuscript, Bibliotheca Mediceo-Laurenziana 30, fos. 21v-22v,
the planctus is an early 11th-c. addition; see de Poerck, p. 25 no. 2.
43. Abbot Anno of Jumièges and Micy (d. 973) may well have been the author.