THE MEDIEVAL ACTORS' RÔLES FOUND IN THE FRIBOURG ARCHIVES
[Pluteus 4-5 (1986-7), 5-67]
In the early 1920's Paul Aebischer made an important and unexpected find whilst working in the Archives de l'Etat in Fribourg; this is how he described it:
Le terrier no 22 (1515-1518) du bailliage de Saint-Aubin-en-Vully me réservait une surprise; chacun des plats de la couverture était fait d'une feuille de parchemin recouvrant un morceau de carton, et ce carton avait été fabriqué sans doute par le relieur du volume, qui s'était contenté de coller ensemble une quantité de vieux papier et de rogner cet agglomérat pour lui donner la forme voulue. (1)
More than one hundred pieces of paper had been preserved, and Aebischer published or discussed many of them in a series of articles published during the next few years. (2) Initially, Aebischer's interest was linguistic, and he concentrated on the texts in Franco-provençal; but most of the fragments were in French. As well as a large number of disparate texts of limited literary interest - letters in Italian, scraps of accounts, pharmaceutical recipes in Latin, French and dialect, and a number of worthless sonnets and moral precepts - Aebischer found several fragments of plays. The Franco-provençal play fragments were published in a series of articles in Archivum Romanicum; there were also three virtually complete French farces, which appeared in the Revue du XVIe siècle. Finally, Aebischer devoted an article in Romania to "un certain nombre de fragments de diverses pièces de théâtre". After completing his work on the Fribourg material, he returned them to the Archives, where those that he published or discussed were classified and labelled, under the shelf-mark: Fonds Aebischer 1, Lit. 1-22.
Although several of the fragments preserved complete plays, or parts of complete plays, Aebischer realised that some of the pieces of paper contained the lines for only one actor in a play, the actor's rôle. Altogether Aebischer discussed or published rôles from 8 different plays, some in French, some in patois. (3) For the person interested in the theatre of Medieval France, it was the discovery of the actors' rôles that was the most valuable feature of the Fribourg material. Only a handful of such rôles had beeen known of before; the Fribourg rôles published by Aebischer immediately became, and have remained ever since, our most important source of examples of actors' rôles in French. However, their value was limited owing to their fragmentary nature; their survival was very much due to chance, and because they had been stuck together and cut up by the binder, all that was left was a number of scraps of paper. No complete rôle appeared to have been preserved.
In October 1985, I went to Fribourg to examine these rôles. My visit formed part of a large-scale undertaking, the aim of which is to establish a typology of all surviving French mystery play manuscripts. (4) I felt that, in spite of Aebischer's apparently detailed and reliable articles, it might be useful to see the Fribourg rôles first-hand, to try to imagine exactly how the rôles were used, and to inspect the manuscripts for any other information concerning their date and localisation - such as watermarks - not mentioned by Aebischer. I spent a day at the Fribourg Archives, where, on asking to see the Fonds Aebischer, I was given two boxes. The first contained the items numbered Fonds Aebischer Lit. 1, 1-22. I examined these closely and at length, took photocopies, notes and measurements. I also looked for traces of watermarks; subsequent consultation of Briquet showed that the paper was probably made in Sion between 1490 and 1520 (5). I also studied the way in which the fragments of paper were joined together, and the various signs, etc., written by the scribes but not transcribed by Aebischer. All this was useful, but without great significance. I then looked at the second box that I had been given, numbered Fonds Aebischer Lit 1 bis. It contained two packets of manuscript fragments, unclassified. One packet was a mixed bunch of fragments of no interest; the second consisted of about 30 more fragments of actors' rôles. In the short amount of time left before I had to leave Fribourg, I photocopied the rôles, took various notes, looked for watermarks, and then classified and numbered them, according to what seemed to me to be the different scribes. Five of the fragments were so minute as to be useless; the remainder were grouped as follows A 1-2; B 1-10; C 1; D 1-2; E 1-2; F 1-7. (6)
None of these rôles was mentioned or discussed by Aebischer, though he must have seen them. To cut a long story short, it seems obvious to me that Aebischer only worked on a small number of the "centaine de débris" that he discovered; he selected (i) those that were particularly interesting from a linguistic stand-point, i.e. those in Franco-provençal, and (ii) the French play-manuscripts which were either virtually complete, or which survived in large, easily legible fragments. As will be seen below, if Aebischer had examined all the fragments now listed in Lit. 1 bis, he could not have failed to mention them in his Romania article. The purpose of the present article is to describe and publish these newly rediscovered rôles (7). It will be seen that they preserve parts of seven different plays, including mystery plays, moralities and farces.
The drama of Medieval France has been preserved in a wide range of forms; though many late plays survive in gothic printed editions, most are found in manuscripts. At one extreme, we have luxurious manuscripts, illuminated, decorated, and written elegantly in two columns each side of good parchment, such as some of the mss. that contain the Passion of Arnoul Gréban or the Destruction de Troye. At the other extreme, we have the actors' rôles.
Once the complete text of the play to be performed had been composed (in the case of mystery plays, this might have been called the (livre) original), scribes were commissioned to copy out the rôles for each actor (8). The names used to describe them reveal their nature: roole, rollet, roullet, etc. They were rolls or scrolls of paper, which the actor unrolled as the play progressed. The rôles (as we shall arbitrarily call them here) were most often made up of a number of narrow strips of paper, joined together at top and bottom, to form as long a piece of paper as the actor's part required - though one must assume that in very long rôles several separate scrolls were needed. No complete, very long, rôle has survived. The width of the rôle was normally 10 cms. This was perhaps determined by the shape and size of contemporary paper. (9) The most frequent size of sheet produced by paper-manufacturers was 30 by 40 cms.; a number of these so-called "bi-folios" were placed inside each other and folded in half, to form a "cahier", in which each page or folio measured about 30 cms. high by 20 cms. wide. By cutting a folio in half vertically, a 10 cm. strip was obtained. A number of these were joined together, top to bottom, either by stitching (in horizontal lines, or zig-zag) or by use of a pin or some glue. The end of the rôle was probably fixed to a stick or a baton (10) around which the complete rôle was wound. Frequently, the text was only written on one side of the paper; it would appear that the text was written up before the pieces of paper were joined together or to the bâton.
Judging by the Fribourg rôles, the actors' texts were nearly always set out in the same way. At the top appeared the name of the character, e.g. Baltasar. Then came the first cue-word, i.e. the last word spoken in the speech that immediately preceded the actor's first line. Next followed the actor's first complete speech, after which came another cue-word, followed by the actor's next speech; and so it continued to the end of the rôle. The end was usually indicated by the word Explicit and a few centimetres of blank paper, which was to be wound around and attached to the bâton. Because the paper was quite narrow, the columns of the actor's lines filled up almost the complete width of the strip, with perhaps just one centimetre margin to the left. The cue-words were placed in the middle of the column, and so stood out clearly from the rest of the text. These cue-words often rhymed with the end of the first line of the actor's following speech, thanks to the system of mnemonic rhyme used widely in Medieval French theatre, though there are many cases where there is no rhyme. (11)
In addition to the text itself, the scribes included other types of instructions in the Fribourg rôles. A small number of stage directions were inserted, usually to the right of the column of text, and placed in a rectangle in order not to confused with the text to be spoken. These stage directions are written in the third person. There is also a small number of other signs which are obviously linked to staging. In particular, one notes a short horizontal line, drawn between two lines of text to the left of the column, which, as the context shows, is in effect an instruction telling the actor to move across the stage. (12) One also notes that the repeated refrains in the rondeaux are not written out in full; the first word in the refrain is followed by a straight horizontal line.
In view of the above description, it is not surprising that few rôles have survived. They are designed for use at rehearsals (and perhaps even at the performance) and are obviously subject to much wear; they are not intended to be preserved for posterity. When they do survive, it is a matter of pure chance. Although the Fribourg rôles have benefitted from a kind fate in that they have survived into the 20th century, Aebischer's description of their condition, given at the beginning of this article, explains why they pose considerable difficulties for the modern theatre-historian. The 16th-century binder took large numbers of these rôles, stuck them together to form a kind of strong cardboard, and then cut and trimmed them to conform to the shape he needed. Aebischer was able to unstick them, but nevertheless they survive in an extremely damaged form. Many are cut at the top and the bottom, so that whole sections of the rôle are lost. More problems still are caused when the rôles have been trimmed to left or right; since, as has just been pointed out, the text usually occupied the full width of the paper, any trimming will inevitably lead to the loss of the beginnings or ends of lines, making the text very difficult to understand. In addition to these potential problems, one must mention the obvious fact that transcribing the often carelessly written text, off pieces of paper that have spent 400 years stuck together, is not easy. But most of the difficulties spring from the cutting and trimming of the binder, which has left a large number of small fragments; the task of putting them back together in a logical, though far from complete, order, resembled a massive jig-saw puzzle. One surprising fact is that, although over 50 fragments of actors' rôles have survived in Fribourg (i.e. putting together those published by Aebischer and those edited below), only half-a-dozen joins, whether by stitching, pin or glue, have been found. I am inclined to think that the binder deliberately set out to cut away as many joins as possible, since they would have been difficult to incorporate into his "cardboard" bindings. It is noticeable, for example, that, in the second play discussed, (13) the two rôles are virtually complete - only a few lines are missing - yet there are no joins; the binder must have just cut away the joins, and used all the remainder of the paper.
The dating and localising of the Fribourg Archives' rôles are, I think, uncontroversial. The circumstances of their discovery - in the binding of a document found in Saint-Aubin-en-Vully and dated 1515-1518 -, the watermarks and the language, all combine to support Aebischer's final conclusion (14) that the fragments were written near Vevey just before 1520.
In the following sections, we present the results of our work on the rôles contained in Fribourg Lit. 1 bis; we shall also, where necessary, refer to some of the rôles mentioned by Aebischer in his Romania article. Rather than study the texts in depth, we have seen our task as primarily descriptive. We have transcribed the rôles, then grouped them according to the plays from which they come. We have tried to identify these plays, though in most cases we have failed. The main points of interest provided by the rediscovered Fribourg rôles are as follows:
The texts are edited below with the minimum of modification, except for the use of modern capitals and punctuation, and the use of the acute accent to indicate tonic e in final position or if followed by s. I have transcribed cue-words in italics. I have not used diaereses to indicate hiatus, since the scansion of such fragmentary texts is often difficult to establish. Indeed, the spelling of the texts is often very careless, with endings of words being especially inaccurate (i.e. according to the theoretical standard). I have written my own additions between square brackets.
The page of the edition aims to resemble as closely as possible the appearance of the manuscripts. Thus the cue-words are set in the middle of the columns, and stage-directions and other signs are placed as in the ms. The refrains in rondeaux are indicated, as in the ms., by lines. Three dots - ... - mean that the end or the beginning of a line is missing, because it was trimmed by the 16th century binder. Words or letters in brackets are either guesses or, in one case, taken from a published edition in order to complete otherwise incomplete lines.
In spite of the careless spelling mentioned above, the language of the texts is not especially problematic in itself; the difficulties spring from the occasional fragmentary nature of what has survived. The scribes write in generally uniform manner, which reflects both a small number of dialectal features and a considerable orthographic liberty. Dialectal features include the occasional addition of intial v to words like vuy (= aujourd'hui) and vonques (= onques), and confusion of /o/ and /u/, i.e. au for ou and vice versa. Endings of words are especially subject to spelling variation; final tonic e may be spelt -é, -és, or -er; il is confused with i; on is confused with ont, -i with -ir; etc. Endings of verbs are similarly often mis-spelt, with the third person taking over from the others, e.g. je peult. These variable, and theoretically inaccurate, spellings reflect the orality of the texts, as much as the carelessness of the scribes.
The rôles are grouped into seven sections, corresponding to the plays from which they come. There is a brief glossary of the more "difficult" words after the texts.
LA FARCE DU PRÊTRE CRUCIFIÉ
RÔLE OF THE PRIEST (FRAGMENTS A1 AND A2)
This rôle consists of two fragments. The first measures 22.5 cm by 12 cm.; the second 23 cm by 10.5. Neither fragment has been trimmed at the side, so that the full width of each line of text is visible (this is not the case with many other fragments); but both have been trimmed at the top. Fragment 1 has also been trimmed at the bottom, but this does not appear to have happened to Fragment 2. Fragment 2, however, is made up of two pieces of paper, which have been stitched together horizontally. The upper piece of Fragment 2 measures 5.5 cm. in length, the lower part being 18 cm. long. Fragment 1 is completely covered with text, whereas the text only covers the first two thirds of Fragment 2. It is probable that the last lines on Fragment 2 are the last lines of the actor's rôle. Clearly, the beginning of the complete rôle is lost, though, as we shall suggest below, this may not amount to very much. It is difficult to tell from the ms. itself how much is lost between the two Fragments; but if, as is quite possible, the top part of Fragment 2 was originally the trimmed-off part of Fragment 1, then very little would have been lost. Indeed, the examination of the content leads me to suggest that most of this rôle has survived and that only the very beginning and a few lines between the two Fragments are missing.
The text of the rôle is laid out in the usual way, but in this case the writing is particularly faint and difficult to read. The cue-word is placed regularly in the middle of the strip of paper, whereas the actor's text occupies the full width, but for a margin to the left of about 1 cm., and a margin to the right varying between 2 and 4 cm. In addition to the text, one also notes one stage direction, placed to the right of the text inside a rectangular box, and a short line drawn in the space between two lines, to the left. The context will show that this little line is also, in effect, a stage direction, since it coincides with the actor carrying out certain movements (in this case, approaching a house and knocking on the door); see lines 23-4.
The rôle appears to be that of the priest in a farce whose action is similar, but not identical, to that of the well-known fabliau entitled the Prêtre Crucifié. (15) In the fabliau, the priest is in love with the wife of a franc maistre, whose trade is making crucifixes and ymaiges (sculptures). The husband leaves home to deliver a sculpture to a client, and the priest pays an amorous visit to the lady; but the husband returns, and the priest hides in the husband's workshop, disguising himself as one of the many crucifixes he finds there. He takes off his clothes and stretches out on a cross. The husband, who guesses what has happenend, slowly eats his meal and then enters his workshop, lighting his way with a candle. He sees the new crucifix, and noticing the priest's fully revealed genitals, declares that he must have been drunk when he made that crucifix. Accordingly, he takes out a knife and cuts off the offending items. The priest flees in agony.
A comparison of the rôle and the fabliau shows important similarities and minor differences. The fabliau is very brief and succinct, and contains little dialogue. The rôle begins with the actor addressing a maystre, whom he asks to make a crucifix, about his own size, and offers generous payment, not only from himself, but on behalf of some other unidentifiable people. The deal is obviously agreed (A1, 1-14). The actor's next words are a brief monologue in which he decides to pay a visit on the wife of the sculptor, whom he has seen heading towards the town carrying some sculptures (A1, 16-22); he knocks on the door and declares his love for the wife, and subsequently proposes that they drink together (A1, 24-36).
Fragment 2 continues with the merry-making, the actor referring to wine and to the prospect doing something, unfortunately illegible, with the wife (A2, 1-3). Suddenly the tone changes; the actor is terrified and beseeches the wife to save his life (A2, 4-8). His next words describe how his face (cherubin) and skin (vellant ?) have been burnt (A2, 10-14). He then advises her to lock the doors. It is only at this stage that he climbs on to the crucifix, as the stage direction instructs him. The only remaining words the actor has to utter are cries of pain.
There are, I think, enough points in common between this rôle and the fabliau to show that the farce in question is very close in outline to the story of the crucified priest. It is also very probable that the rôle is almost complete. But there are, nonetheless, several differences. Firstly, it is the priest himself who orders a crucifix as big as himself to be made. Secondly, it is not clear whether he finally suffers the grisly fate of his counterpart in the fabliau. We know his face and body are burnt by the husband (A2, 14), but that is before he gets on to the crucifix. This could be a development of the episode when the husband searches the work-shop with his candle. However, as to the possible climax, the priest's words: "Hélas, Hélas" suggest some kind of disaster, but do not make it clear what the disaster is. His rôle at the end of the fabliau is entirely passive, and, in fact, there is no real reason to doubt that the priest's fate is the same in both texts.
I would conclude, then, that this rôle contains most of the rôle of the actor chosen to play the priest in a farce which resembles quite closely the Fabliau du prêtree Crucifié. However, I am avoiding saying the farce is necessarily a later, dramatised, version of the fabliau. Although the general view has always been that the disappearance of the fabliau during the 14th-century and the appearance of the farce in the 15th can best be explained by assuming that the narrative fabliau evolved into the fully dramatic farce (16), other critics have recently suggested a different explanation, namely that the farce always existed during the Middle Ages, but only surfaced in 13th- and 14th-century manuscripts in the form of jongleurs' narrative texts. (17) It is impossible to solve such a problem, or even contribute to the discussion, on the basis of the texts mentioned here. But it is worth pointing out that the Fabliau du Pretre Crucifié, though truly "farcesque" in its subject matter, is very undramatic in its manner of presentation and contains only three or four brief exchanges of dialogue.
La farce du prêtre crucifié
The priest's rôle: A1-2.
LE DÉBAT DE LA NOURRICE ET DE LA CHAMBRIÈRE
TWO RÔLES (FRAGMENTS B1-8, B8bis, B10)
Altogether 10 fragments of the rôles have survived. Most are between 21 and 23 cm. in length, although B6 is 29 cm. long and B8 bis (which is stuck to the top right hand corner of B7) is only 5 cm. long. The normal width is 10 cm. though B6 is only 8 cm. wide, and B5 is only 8.5 cm. wide; these last two have been trimmed to the right. All the fragments have been cut at the top; all but B6, B8 and B10 have been cut at the bottom. B6 and B10 contain the end of a rôle. B8 appears to be the bottom of a page; not only is it not cut at the bottom, but there appears to be a Roman 4 (iiij) written at the foot of the sheet. In spite of the large proportion of this rôle which has survived, there are no signs of joins, whether by stitching or gluing. It would appear that the binder, in using the rôle, cut away only the joins, and used the rest for the binding.
This is one of the most interesting of the Fribourg rôles. Firstly, the B fragments preserve, not one rôle, but two, from the same play; secondly, the play is one that is reasonably well-known. It is usually called the Débat de la Nourrice et de la Chambrière, and forms part of the so-called Recueil du British Museum. This collection consists of over 60 plays, mostly farces, all in Gothic printed editions dating from 1532 to 1539. They were included in the first three volumes of the Ancien Théâtre François, published by Viollet-le-Duc in 1854. Our Débat can be found in volume II, pp. 417-447.
The play itself involves three characters, a chambermaid, a wet-nurse and a man (named Johannes in the published text, though no name is found in our rôle). The action is extremely simple. The two women get involved in a slanging match, primarily over the respective morality of each individual and her profession. Johannes appears, and at first enjoys watching the argument; indeed, he urges the participants on. But when the dispute becomes physically violent, he intervenes, pretending to be a sergent, and tries to arrest them. But soon the ladies bury the hatchet and both turn on Johannes, who gives up his attempt to stop them. The play ends on a note of reconciliation, in a drinking scene.
The 10 fragments contain the rôles of the chamberiere, who is called Jaquette (B4, 17), and that of the man. A comparison between the fragments and the published texts shows that the two rôles are virtually complete. In each case, the very first line is lost, no doubt owing to the trimming of the binder; a few lines are also lost where the bottom and top of successive pages have been trimmed. The rôle of the chamber-maid occupies fragments B 1, 2, 3, 8bis, 5, 8 and 10, in that order; although about 5 lines are lost between 1 and 2, 2 and 3, 3 and 8bis, and 5 and 8, B5 follows on directly from 8bis, as does B10 from B8. Thus the two rôles are complete, except for about 20 lines. Since two of the three rôles survive, it is possible to join them together and so produce major sections of the full text, although we have chosen not to present them this way. What we have done is to give cross-references to the chamber-maid's rôle in the text of the man's rôle; for what is a cue-word in one, will be the last word of a full speech in the other.
The text of our rôles is extremely close to that of the published version. The majority of the minor differences result from the spellings used in the rôles; these tend often to be careless -omitting plurals, for example - or dialectal. The few textual differences of some significance are as follows:
a) B6, 33-6 omitted
Although most of the farce is in octosyllabic couplets, one notes that it begins with a rondeau, and that another two occur later (B1, 7 and 10). There is also a passage of 20 lines (ATF pp. 432-3) of quatrains rhyming abab, bcbc, cdcd, etc. These passages, together with the half-line, or odd-number line speeches, account for the fact that the cue word only provides a mnemonic rhyme in about 75% of all possible cases. The refrains of the rondeaux are indicated by the first word followed by a line.
Where ends of lines in the rôles are missing, owing to the trimming of the binder, or are otherwise illegible, we have inserted, in square brackets, the text of the
La farce du débat de la nourrice et de la chambrière
The rôle of the chambrière: B1-3; B5; B8; B8bis; B10.
La farce du débat de la nourrice et de la chambrière
The rôle of Johannes: B4; B7; B6.
«LA PRINCESSE PERDUE»
THREE RÔLES (FRAGMENTS CI, F2 AND F7)
Fragment C1 is by far the smallest of the fragments, since it measures only 8.5 by 6 cms., and contains only 12 lines of text. It would hardly be worth publishing by itself. However, a close study has shown that it can be linked with one of the longer rôles discussed by Aebischer in his Romania article of 1925, and that these can, in turn, be linked with two other fragments that we have recently rediscovered, F2 and F7.
In addition to the rôles, Aebischer's original discovery included 123 lines of a gothic printed play; this was not a rôle, but the full text, containing the names of the speakers and all their lines (though only four columns of text, on two narrow format folios, survive). Aebischer numbered this fragment Fribourg Lit. 11, and entitled it "Moralité à 6 (?) personnages". It was published in the Romania article, pp. 513-6. He also found three short fragments of a rôle which he suspected (correctly) came from a later part of the same play; these he numbered Fonds Aebischer Lit. 1,19 (1,2 and 3). He did not publish them, however, since he found the text "trop haché pour qu'il soit intéressant de (le) publier en entier". But now that these fragments can be shown to be associated with three others (Cl and F7), we have a total of almost 250 lines, from three different rôles in the same play.
The three fragments mentioned by Aebischer all contain parts of the rôle of the princess. C1 also contains part of this rôle. F2 and F7, however, are each from different rôles in the same play. This is confirmed, not only by such information about the action as can be gleaned from the text, but also by the fact that there are several examples of a cue-word in one rôle being the last word of a speech in another rôle. For instance, compare lines 5, 7, 13 and 29 of F7 with lines 31, 33 and 36 of 19, 2 and line 2 of 19, 3; compare also 19, 2 line 37 and 19, 3 line 8 with F7 lines 14 and 33. With regard to F2, lines 27-51 run parallel to the princess's rôle in 19, 1 lines 1-22. It should be realised that there is not total overlapping in these rôles, since at times yet more characters, whose rôles have not survived, are involved in the action. Fragment F2 is part of the rôle of a randy hermit; F7 is part of the rôle of a knight who finally rescues the princess, but gets no gratitude.
The six fragments of rôles and the 123-line fragment from the gothic printed edition make it easy to reconstruct the outline of the action of the complete play. A king, together with his daughter, his squire and his chaplain, go for a walk in the forest; the princess wanders away and gets lost. The devil, in disguise, approaces her and urges her to takem shelter with an old hermit; but before she reaches the hermit, the devil tempts the hermit not only to lodge the girl, but to take advantage of her vulnerable situation. The hermit agrees, and F2 shows his monologue as he looks forward to catching some easy prey (F2, 1-26). He sees the princess approach and greets her with a rondeau (F2, 28-32; 19, 1 lines 1-9), as she enters the hermitage. His advances become more obvious and she resists (F2, 35-54; 19, 1 lines 10-28; Cl; 19, 2 lines 1-30). Her cries for help attract the attention of a knight, who tells us (F7 1-3) of his recent travels. He goes to help the princess, and having got rid of the hermit (presumably), he also thinks the princess will now become his "amye" (F7, 9-13). But she has other ideas and drives him off, too (19, 3 lines 12-28), with much irony at his expense (F7, 24-35). The play concludes with the heroine's ballade (19, 3 lines 31-56), in which she mockingly resumes the events that have happened to her.
Aebischer's description of this play as a morality does not seem justified; it is certainly not a play involving personified abstractions and having a clear didactic function. Rather, La Princesse Perdue, as we have entitled it, since the text is otherwise unknown, resembles plays like the Mistere de la Jeune Fille laquelle se voulut habandonner a peché (which also survives in a gothic printed edition), or the misteres composed by Jean Louvet. Although there is a religious element in the story, the play is really nothing other than the dramatisation of a romantic adventure.
All six fragments are published for the first time, in what I think is the logical order, although this is not easy to establish (F2; 19, 1; Cl; 19, 2; F7; 19, 3). Several of the fragments have been damaged by the binder. 19, 1 has been trimmed to the right, and the ends of many lines are lost; F7 has been trimmed to the left, and the beginnings of all the lines are lost. 19, 3, the last page of the princess's rôle, although cut at the top, is very long (32 cms.), since it is made up of two strips of paper joined by a pin. There are four very different hands.
Scribe A wrote the first 19 lines of 19, 1; scribe B continued 19, 1 and also wrote 19, 2; 19, 3 and C1, i.e. the princess's rôle. Scribe C wrote F2, the hermit's rôle; Scribe D wrote F7, the knight's rôle.
One notes that scribe B, on four occasions, inserts to the right of the text, a sign rather like an ornate letter f. The function of this is not certain; it could be a form of stage direction like the short horizontal lines, mentioned in connection with rôles A and D.
Like many late mystery plays, the versification of the Princesse Perdue is very varied. Although mostly in octosyllabic couplets, with speeches linked by the mnemonic rhyme, there are rondeaux (in which the repeated refrains are indicated in the manuscript by the first word followed by a straight line), passages in 5-syllable lines with complex rhyme patterns, octosyllables in rimes embrassées, passages in a8 a3 a8, etc. These are not easy to analyse in rôles, since they are often divided between two or three characters, only one of whose words have survived. But, as we found elsewhere, these complex rhyme schemes, together with the use of single- and half-line répliques, mean that actors frequently did not have the advantage of a mnemonic rhyme.
La Princesse Perdue
The Rôle of the Hermit: F2.
La Princesse Perdue
Rôle of the Princess: 19,1- 2; C1; 19,3.
La Princesse Perdue
The Rôle of the knight: F7.
LA FARCE DU VOLEUR QUI SE CONFESSE.
RÔLE OF THE THIEF (FRAGMENT D)
This consists of two fragments. D1 is 23 cm. by 8.5, and has been trimmed at the top, the bottom and the left hand side, so that the first word or two of each line is lost. D2 is 22.5 cm. by 7 cm. It has been cut at the top and at the right hand side; so here it is the last words of long lines that are missing. It has not been cut at the bottom, though it is not the end of the rôle. In spite of the missing words, the text is almost fully comprehensible.
The rôle is obviously that of a character in a farce. On D2, which logically seems to precede D1, he plots with a friend to hide something which they have presumably stolen: they will wait until every one is asleep first. He goes off to check that people are asleep and then they go to hide the object, but they are interrupted by a sergent. On D1, the character is making his confession to a priest; he promises to tell the truth, and relates how he once robbed another priest of several florins whilst pretending to make confession, and also how he once stole six chickens. In fear he pays the priest enough money to pay for three masses to be sung.
Although parts of this rôle are reminiscent of several "confession" farces, like the Confession de Rifflart and the Confession du Brigant, there are no textual ressemblances. This rôle thus preserves part of a hitherto unknown farce, that could be entitled La Farce du Voleur qui se confesse.
The rôle is written in the usual way, with the cue-words placed towards the centre of the column. On D2, there are two examples of the short horizontal line drawn to the left of the column of text, between two of the octosyllables. Their function is the same as the one found in the rôle of the crucified priest (= A), i.e. it is in effect a stage direction. At each occurrence of the sign, the actor has move across the stage. After line 7, he must go and fetch something to show the other character; and after line 19, the text clearly shows that he goes to make sure some other people are sleeping.
La farce du voleur qui se confesse.
Rôle of the Thief: D2; D1.
LE JEU DES TROIS ROIS de la PASSION D'ARRAS
TWO RÔLES (FRAGMENTS E1, E2 AND F4)
E1 and E2 are two matching parts of one page of manuscript; put together, they measure 18 cm. by 7. The manuscript is trimmed to the left, so that the first words of each line are missing; it is also trimmed at the bottom. The top, however, contains the beginning of the rôle, with the character's name written in the centre of the column, starting with a big capital B: Baltasar. Even without the rest of the text, this title is enough to enable us to identify the rôle as that of one of the three kings who visit the new-born Christ. Aebischer, in his Romania article, also published two fragments of a rôle that he assumed to be that of Baltasar (pp. 521-26; Fribourg Lit. 1, 16, 1 and 2). The two fragments published by Aebischer are undamaged by binder's cuts and are easy to read. Our fragment is extremely difficult to transcribe. However, enough survives to permit the reader to get the gist of what Baltasar says. He has become aware of a magnificent star in the sky, which his science enables him to interpret; he knows that a king is born, both a man and a God, in the the region of Judea. He decides to follow it, both to find the king and to learn from the experience. Aebischer's two fragments follow on almost immediately; in these, Baltasar meets the other kings, follows the star, and presents his gift to Christ.
In connection with the fragments 16, 1 and 2, Aebischer also discussed the fragments numbered 17, 1 and 2. He believed these were written in the same hand as 16, 1 and 2, that they contained two parts of the rôle of Notre Dame, and that they came from the same play as the Baltasar rôle. I would disagree with Aebischer in two respects; firstly, the two hands are not the same, in my opinion, and secondly, 17, 2 is a fragment of a different rôle from 17, 1. (We shall deal with 17, 1 later). However, there is no doubt that 17, 2 is part of the rôle of Notre Dame. Moreover, we can now prove that this rôle comes from the same play as the Baltasar fragments, by taking into consideration one of the newly discovered fragments, the very brief F4. This consists of 11 lines, in which the speaker gives greetings to someone who has come from a foreign country, and then, in a rondeau, expresses pleasure and surprise that such a fine gift has been brought from afar to her son. We can see that the last word of F4 line 8 (trespercier) is Baltasar's cue-word on line 16, 2 line 35, and that Baltasar's last word on line 37 is Notre Dame's cue-word at F4 line 9. Putting together the four fragments, we have 120 lines of Baltasar's rôle and 50 lines of Notre Dame's rôle, both from the same play.
In fact, some but not all, of these lines are identical to passages in the Passion d'Arras. Notre Dame's rôle corresponds to lines 33863-4018 of Richard's edition (18) of the Passion d'Arras, except that 17, 2 lines10-17 are added. It is clear from Baltasar's rôle, however, that the Fribourg play was no slavish imitation of the Arras text, as there are several differences. Firstly, Fribourg's Baltasar's rôle is based on Arras's Gaspar; secondly, the Fribourg version is much more concise, and cuts out some of the longer speeches found in Arras. In particular, the beginning of the scene is heavily rewritten. Textual correspondences are as follows: E 1 (1-22) is a reduction of Arras 2931-54; 3017-3036 (the king sees the star, interprets it, decides to follow it and sets off). 16, 1 (1-44) is a reduction of Arras 3065-8; 3075-8; 3097-3108 (the king meets the other two kings, and they decide to send a messenger to Herod). In these abbreviated passages, one finds several verbal echoes of the Arras text, e.g. E1 (4) treshautaine science (Arras 2939); 16, 1 (12) circuy (Arras 3102). There is no actor's rôle corresponding to the king's visit to Herod. The rest of Baltasar's rôle corresponds to Arras as follows: 16, 2 (1-9) is a reduction of Arras 3680-3690; 3732-3764; 16, 2 (11-31) = Arras 3905-3911; 3932-3941; 3973-8; 4055-6; 4025. But the last surviving line of the rôle has no corresponding line in Arras.
Although these four fragments could be traces of a complete Passion Play based on the 25000-line Passion d'Arras, it seems much more likely, given the other kinds of rôles with which they have been found, that they belong to a shorter play, perhaps a Jeu des Trois Rois which was partly original and partly borrowed from the Passion d'Arras. The existence of such a play clearly testifies to the hitherto unrealised circulation throughout France of the Passion d'Arras.
The versification of these fragments was rich and varied, both in the section derived from the Passion d'Arras and in the original sections. Indeed, some of the most complex metres are found in the the latter. Fragment E consists of octosyllables rhyming abad, bcbc, cdcd, dede, etc.; 16, 1 has the same system, although this is at first not obvious, since one has to reconstruct the rhymes of the speeches of the other characters. 16, 2 has a passage in decasyllables, also rhyming abab, bcbc, etc.. Other passages are in the usual octosyllables, with mnemonic rhymes. But, as other rôles show, complex versification means fewer mnemonic rhymes for the actors. Notre Dame's rôle ends with a rondeau.
There is one example of the short horizontal line placed between two lines of text (16, 1 lines 6 and 7); again, the context shows clearly that it coincides with an actor having to interrupt his speech and move across the stage.
La Passion d'Arras
Rôle of Balthasar: E 1-2; 16,1-2.
Rôle of Notre Dame: 17,2; F4.
ANONYMOUS MORALITY PLAY
RÔLE OF DEATH (?) (FRAGMENT F5 AND 17, 1)
[The fragments grouped under letter F belong to several different rôles, some of which have already been dealt with. F2 and F7 come from the Princesse Perdue; F4 comes from the Jeu des Trois Rois/Passion d'Arras. The remaining F fragments belong to two different rôles, both from morality plays.]
Fragment F5 is related to Aebischer's 17, 1 (which he did not publish). The hand is the same in both fragments; both have been trimmed to the left by the same amount, and thus measure exactly the same in width, 8.5 cms. F5 is trimmed at the bottom but not at the top; 17, 1 is trimmed at bottom and top. 17, 1 which is 23 cms. long, has a join in the middle, made with glue.
I am not certain which of the two fragments precedes the other, though they are both obviously part of the same section of the play, in which the speaker, in a virtual monologue, boasts of his power over all classes of people. Noone can resist his laws, however important or influential, young or old, they may be. He agrees to carry out someone's instructions, and to strike down some "vilain cornu" who has lived too long. The tone is that of a morality play, and the speaker would appear to be an allegorical character, such as Death, or perhaps a Devil.
Rôle of Death (?): 17,1; F5.
LA MORALITÉ DE DEUX FRÈRES ET AVARICE
RÔLE OF THE OLDER BROTHER (FRAGMENTS F1,3,6 AND B9)
Parts of this rôle survive in several different fragments: Fl, F3, F6 and B9. It has proved both a frustrating and a fascinating rôle. The frustration springs from the fact that several of the fragments have been badly damaged by the trimming process, with the result that often only a small section of each line of text has survived; it has also proved impossible to identify the play. The fascination lies in the content of the rôle, and also in what at first appeared to be a unique feature.
For in the case of Fragment F1 and F3, there is text on both sides of the paper. This would appear to be in contradiction to the normal practice, since, if our understanding of the the use of rôles is correct, it would be impossible for the actor to turn the page over, or to use both sides. (19) A close analysis of the text on these fragments shows that the explanation of the writing on both recto and verso is simply that two drafts of the same rôle were written on the same strips of paper, the first draft on one side, the second on the other. Chance has resulted in some passages being preserved from both drafts. For example, all of B9 is also contained on F1 (verso); and the last few lines of Fl (recto) are also found at the top of F1 (verso). We thus have two versions, which can be used to cross-check the transcription.
The fragments are presented below in what seems to me to be the logical order. The speaker is the older of two brothers (see F1 recto 28-32; F1 verso 14; F3 recto; F5); the two of them decide to visit the World (possibly an allegorical character) in order to benefit from its riches, in spite of the critical remarks of a third person (the "gallan" of F1 recto 33-4). The brothers decide to visit Avarice, with whom they are on good terms, and whose power rules the world. They again refuse to pay attention to the criticisms of the "gallan" (F1 recto 55-60). They reach the world and are amazed at its wealth (F1 verso 4-7); they then greet Avarice and offer her their services. They also wish to study her doctrine (1 verso 12-26); but they are still being harrassed by the "gallan" (F1 verso 29-3 1). They ask Avarice if they can study her books; she agrees at first, and the brothers start reading some of the chapters (1 verso 34-38).
They note that Avarice's book recommends gluttony, wealth and usury; it also teaches how to bear false witness and how to make great profits from lending money (F6 1-24). So far, they have read two of Avarice's books (F6 27; F3 recto 7); they are eager to read the last book (F3 recto 17-18), but Avarice, true to her name, will only give it to them at a price which is higher than they can pay (F3 recto 20-22). They protest at length but do not seem to have any success (F3 verso 19-20).
I have not been able to find any of the above passage in any published morality play, though, since many morality plays have never received modern editions, other scholars may recognise it. The episode preserved in this rôle suggests that the play was genuinely amusing and witty, which is not the case with all morality plays.
Rôle of the Elder Brother: F1; F3; F6; B9.
ARROY, s.m., équipage, E (15)
1. P. Aebischer, "Fragments de moralités, farces et mystères retrouvés à Fribourg", Romania 51(1925) 511.
2. P. Aebischer, "Quelques Textes du XVIe siècle en patois fribourgeois", Archivum Romanicum 4 (1920) 342-361; 7 (1923) 288-336; 15 (1931) 512-540; "Trois Farces inédites trouvées à Fribourg", Revue du XVIe siècle XI (1924) 129-192; P. Aebischer, "Fragments de moralités, farces et mystères retrouvés à Fribourg", Romania 51(1925) 511.
3. See the articles quoted above, especially Romania (1925) and Archivum Romanicum vols. IVand V11. The shelf-marks of the rôles edited by Aebischer in these articles are: Fribourg Lit. 1, numbers 1, 4, 5, 15, 18 (patois rôles, published in Arch. Rom.) and numbers 7, 11, 16, 17, 19 (French rôles, published in Romania).
4. I wish to express my gratitude to the British Academy, which provided the grant which enabled me to visit a large number of libraries, including Fribourg. I would also like to thank the staff at the Fribourg Archives for their help and cooperation.
5. Watermarks are usually placed in the centre of half of a bi-folio, so when the pages are cut in the way that rôles are cut (see below), it is difficult to find complete watermarks. Nevertheless, I was able to identify three watermarks: a drinking cup, which resembled no. 4549 in Ch. M. Briquet, Les Filigranes, (Jubilee Edition, edited by A. Stevenson, Amsterdam 1968), attributed to Sion 1513; a snake, resembling Briquet 13805 (Sion, 1491); and a heart, resembling Briquet 4248 (Sion 1503).
6. This initial and hasty grouping proved to be largely correct, except that B9 should have been grouped with the F fragments. Moreover, as we shall see, the F fragments belong to several different rôles. See the Concordancers at the end of this article. In the Fribourg archives, only the fragments in Lit. 1 are numbered (e.g. 17, 2; 19, 1); the fragments in Lit. 1 bis are not numbered. I have labelled these for my own convenience, but this labelling will not be found attached to the fragments in the Archives.
7. It is not our intention to publish a general study on all the surviving rôles, since this necessary task is already being done by Elisabeth Lalou. [Since this articles was first published. E, Lalou has completed her promised articles: E. Lalou, "Les rolets de théâtre, étude codicologique", Actes du 115e Congrès National des Sociétés Savantes, Théâtre au Moyen Age, Avignon, 1990, pp. 51-71].
8. See, for example, the documentation concerning the 1477 performance of the Passion d'Auvergne, at Montferrand, when Anthoine Garnier was paid 10 sols tournois for having "fait les roles" for the Ascencion play; quoted in G.A. Runnalls, ed. La Passion d'Auvergne,Geneva, Droz, 1982, p. 33, 37-8.
9. C. Bozzolo and E. Ornato, Pour une Histoire du Livre Manuscrit au Moyen Age, Paris, CNRS, 1984.
10. Of the fragments edited below, there are four which contain the end of a rôle (A2, B6, B 10 and F7). Each of these shows holes which were probably made by pins or nails attaching the paper to a baton. A2, B6 and B10 all seem to have three holes 1 cm. wide, spread over the last 6 cms. of the strip of paper.
11. See below, especially sections II, III and V.
12. See below, sections I and IV; a different sign, with perhaps the same function, is found in section III.
13. Section II below, the Débat de la Nourrisse et de la Chamberière.
14. This conclusion, somewhat different from his first thoughts, is given in his last article on Fribourg rôles, published in Archivum Romanicum, XV.
15. B.N. fr. 837, f. 183; ed. Montaiglon et Raynaud, Recueil de fabliaux, Paris, 1872-1890, I, 18.
16. B. Rey-Flaud, La Farce ou la Machine à Rire, Genève, 1984, ch. II.
17. M. Rousse, "Propositions sur le théâtre profane avant la farce", Tréteaux, 1 (1978) 4-18.
18. La Passion d'Arras, ed. J-M. Richard, Arras, 1891. See also M.F. McKean, Philological Quarterly 42 (1963) 92-5.
19. There are a couple of other examples of rôles where the text is written on both recto and verso of the paper. One is rôle (i) mentioned in Note 15 of the introduction to this article; it also differs from the norm in that it is not copied out on a long narrow strip of paper. The other is one of the rôles published by Aebischer in Romania, Lit. 1, 7. In this case, most of the rôle is written in the usual way, on narrow strips sewn together; but the last part of the rôle is written on the back of the paper, upside down. It is thus possible that the actor, on reaching the end of the roll of paper (but not of his part), simply turned the last bit of the roll over, and started reading back towards the beginning. But this example requires further study.
French Medieval Drama Database Project