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Walter's Biographies of Charles the Good and John of Warneton

Updated: Feb 6

In volume 44 of the series Corpus Christianorum in Translation, Jeff Rider takes us to northern France and Flanders in the first half of the 12th century via the first ever English translations of Walter of Thérouanne's biographies of Charles the Good, count of Flanders from 1119 to 1127, and of John of Warneton, archdeacon of Arras from 1096 to 1099 and bishop of Thérouanne from 1099 to 1130, and via the English translations of related texts. Most of the Latin texts were edited by the translator himself in vol. 217 of the Corpus Christianorum. Continuatio Mediaevalis.

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This volume revolves around three men who knew each other well, oversaw the political and spiritual life of much of northern France and Flanders during the first third of the twelfth century, and died within five years of one another: Charles the Good, count of Flanders from 1119 to 1127; John of Warneton, archdeacon of Arras from 1096 to 1099 and bishop of Thérouanne from 1099 to 1130; and their common biographer, Walter, archdeacon of Thérouanne from 1116 to 1132.

The volume includes a detailed historical introduction and offers the first English translations of Walter's Life of Count Charles of Flanders (1127) and Life of Lord John, Bishop of Thérouanne (1130-1132). Also included are translations of eleven other works, or selections from them, in a series of appendices:

  • Lambert of Saint-Omer's Genealogy of the Counts of Flanders (c. 1111-1121) from his Flowery Book (Liber floridus);

  • its continuation in the earliest known copy of the Liber floridus (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 1 Gud. lat.; 1150-1200);

  • four poems on Charles's death that were probably written not too long after the assassination;

  • the inquest into Charles's murder (1127);

  • excerpts from the beginning of The Transferal of Saint Jonatus to the Village of Sailly-en-Ostrevant that was probably written by Galbert of Marchiennes (1127-1128);

  • excerpts from Simon of Saint Bertin's continuation of the Deeds of the Abbots of Saint Bertin's (c. 1137-1148);

  • excerpts from Andreas of Marchiennes' The Miracles of Saint Rictrude (1164-1166);

  • and the end of the third Genealogy of the Flemish Counts (Flandria generosa (1164-1168)

These last texts were included because they provide significant information about Charles the Good, his assassination, its consequences, and the breadth of the literary reaction to it, and about John of Warneton.

Jeff Rider is a professor of medieval literature and history at Wesleyan University. He is the author, editor or translator of eleven books (including Corpus Christianorum. Continuatio Mediaevalis, vol. 131 and 217) and has published over forty articles.

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