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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).>br>Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

XVI. Later Transition English

§ 7. Robert Mannyng of Brunne’s Handlyng Synne

The most skilful story-teller of his time was Robert Mannyng of Brunne, who, between 1303 and 1338, translated into his native tongue two poems written in poor French by English clerics. These two works were William of Wadington’s Manuel des Pechiez, written, probably, for Norman settlers in Yorkshire, and a chronicle composed by Peter of Langtoft, a canon of the Augustinian priory of Bridlington.

Unlike most monastic writers, Mannyng supplies some valuable information about himself. In the prologue to Handlyng Synne, his version of the Manuel des Pechiez, he tells us that his name is Robert of Brunne, of Brunnëwake in Kestevene, and that he dedicates his work especially to the fellowship of Sempringham, to which he had belonged for fifteen years. He also tells us the exact year in which he began his translation—1303. This information is supplemented by some lines in his translation of Langtoft’s chronicle. Here he adds that his name is Robert Mannyng of Brunne, and that he wrote all this history in the reign of Edward III, in the priory of Sixille. We gather, also, from an allusion in the narrative, that he had spent some time at Cambridge, where he had met Robert Bruce and his brother Alexander, who was a skilful artist.

These particulars have been elucidated by the labours of Furnivall. Brunne was the present Bourne, a market town thirty-five miles to the south of Boston in Lincolnshire; Sempringham, where was the parent house of the Gilbertine order, is now represented by a church and a few scattered houses; Sixille, or Six Hills, is a little hamlet not far from Market Rasen, and here, too, was a priory of the Gilbertines.