By F. H. M. Le Saux
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Extra info for A Companion to Wace
200v, col. 2. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, fonds fr. 24429. End of thirteenth century. See Mary Clayton, The Cult of the Virgin in Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge, 1990), pp. 47–51. Clayton points out (p. 49) the defensive dimension to the story of Helsin, suggesting that it may have been used to counter objections made to the feast in the circle of the Conqueror. Ashford’s base text for his edition; described in his introduction, pp. 21–42. See also Keller, La Vie de sainte Marguerite, pp. 21–3.
The material of these (very few) additions is derived from earlier speeches in the Latin version: for example, Margaret’s prayer of thanksgiving to God for having preserved her virtue and chastity, ‘que virgene sui et monde et pure/ Molt sui nete do tote ordure’, ‘as I am a virgin clean and pure; I am totally free from all pollution’ (625–6; Tours MS). The most important addition to Wace’s main Latin source in this section is rhetorically unremarkable: it is Margaret’s prayer that she may be a powerful intercessor in childbirth (641–50; Tours MS): Ne soit ja nez en lur maison Enfes, si a dreit terme non; ...
On a structural level, the last phase of Margaret’s martyrdom mirrors its first phase. The final torture scene, which in the Latin takes place in two stages only (fire, then water), is described in the French poem as consisting of three stages: the ‘cheval fust’ or ‘wooden horse’, on which the girl is raised in the air surrounded by blazing torches; then, after her last rebuttal of Olimbrius, the great fire lit all around her; and finally, the vat of water into which the scorched body is plunged.
A Companion to Wace by F. H. M. Le Saux