Manuscripts and Special Collections

WLC/LM/6, f. 1: Heldris de Cornuälle, ‘Le Roman de Silence’, lines 308-326 (early 13th century, French)


Or a lirois ebayns grant ire
Ahi . ahi . fait il chaieles
Quel duel por .ii. orphenes pucieles
Que mes barons en ai perdus
Jen sui certes moult esperdus
Mais par lefoi que doi saint pere
Ja feme niert mais iretere
Ens el roiame dengletiere
Por tant com iaie a tenir tiere
Et cen iert ore la ueniance
Deceste nostre mes estance
Lasise fait a tols iurer
Por bien lesairement durer
Alquant lefont ireement
Et liplusor moult liement
Qui nen donroient une tille
Mais cil qui na mais une fille
Et a ballier grant teneure
Cuidies quil nait alcuer rancure


Now King Ebain was overcome with anger and fury.
Ah! Ah! he cried in Heaven's name -
what grief for two orphaned girls
(that has caused) my barons to have been lost to me.
I am, truly, distraught.
But here, by the faith, with which I am bound to Saint Peter 1
(I swear) that never again will a woman inherit
in the Kingdom of England.
Therefore, for as much as I do hold this land,
And, as I have now adjudged, from now on this will be the retribution
for this, our loss, and our plight.
All were summoned (as was the custom) to swear to uphold
that the pronouncement that the King had made that day would remain in force.
Some did it very angrily
But most did it quite gladly.
for (of course) in having nothing to give they would (gladly) give an axe.
But for those who had no more than a daughter
and who held great estates from the King
Who would say that their hearts were not filled with bitterness?

1. Swearing by St Peter would probably be a solemn oath in the presence of witnesses, with hand laid on relics or on a manuscript of the Gospel

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