Date of Submission



Although much work has been done on the Latin version of James of Voragine’s Legenda aurea (written in the 1260s), a Latin legendary of saints’ lives set out in the order of the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar, not much has been done on the medieval French translations, and little on that of the life of Saint Dominic. Nothing has been done on the medieval French translations of Jeans de Mailly’s Abbreviatio in gestis sanctorum written a little earlier. This thesis contains editions of the Old and Middle French translations or adaptations of both Latin sources containing the life of Saint Dominic. The French manuscripts have been divided into groups or families where the texts are almost the same. The groups contain between one and five manuscripts. De Mailly’s text, being older, contains fewer episodes than the fuller Voragine version of the life of Saint Dominic. The oldest French manuscript in this group is the oldest of the whole corpus (c.1275) and is written in an eastern French dialect and, thus, is of great linguistic value. There are two main translations of the Legenda aurea version: that of a mysterious author, Jehan Beleth, and the very popular Jean de Vignay translation written for Jeanne de Bourgogne in the 1330s. The oldest extant de Vignay manuscript spawned about twenty copies during the following one hundred and seventy years. De Vignay’s translation was the most popular in the Middle Ages. Apart from the translations of Jean de Mailly’s Abbreviatio and the Jehan Beleth and Jean de Vignay translations, there are a further seven groups of translations of the Legenda aurea. These are either adaptations of or a mixture of translations of the Legenda aurea with possible borrowings from Jean de Vignay. This thesis includes a hagiographical/historical chapter which gives an overview of the world in which Saint Dominic lived and worked, a literary chapter commenting on the content of the manuscripts to explain what is happening where and when, and linguistic commentary at the beginning of each group of manuscripts comparing the French translations with the Latin sources, and linguistic commentary concentrating on dialectal features. The medieval French manuscripts provide scholars with a rich mine of linguistic data, demonstrating the evolution of the French language from about 1275 to 1500 (from the later Old French to the Middle French periods). As the manuscripts are copies of earlier ones, one can see the same sentence written in different dialects and the gradual changes in the French language over a period of two centuries. The edition of these manuscripts should provide future scholars greater scope for a much more intense linguistic analysis.


School of Arts and Sciences

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


354 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Arts and Sciences