The present volume, completing Part III. of the English Charlemagne Romance series, requires but little introduction. I have already referred to it in my edition of Sir Ferumbras, Introd. pp. viii, ix. It contains the whole life of Charlemagne, with a brief sketch of the early kings of France, and includes all the incidents narrated in Sir Ferumbras, The Sowdone of Babyloyne, Roland and Vernagu, and the Song of Roland.
   Caxton's "Lyf of the Noble and Crysten Prynce, Charles the Grete" survives only in the unique copy preserved in the British Museum (Press Mark c. 10, b. 9). It is a folio volume, containing 96 leaves, the signatures running from A ij to M viij, and is perfect, but without title-page. The colophon tells us that the "werke was fynysshed in the reducyng of hit in to Englysshe the xviij day of Juyn, the second yere of kyng Rychard the Thyrd, and the yere of our lord MCCCCLXXXV, and enprynted the fyrst day of Decembre the same of our lord, & the fyrst yere of kyng Harry the seuenth."
   The type is that classed by Mr. Blades as 4*. The pages have two columns, each containing 39 lines, and each line measuring 2 3/8 inches. There are neither folios nor catchwords. The initial woodcut letters are 3 lines deep.
   In 1743 the volume was sold by R. Harley to Osborne the bookseller, the price not mentioned. In 1773 it became the property of J. Ratcliffe at a cost of £13, and in 1776 it was sold by him to George III for £4. 4. 0.
   As Caxton himself tells us, the work here reprinted is a translation of the French prose romance of Fierabras, itself a compilation partly from the Speculum Historiale of Vincent de Beauvais, and partly from the old French romance of Fierabras. The exploits of Charlemagne were related in numerous histories and romances, both in French and Latin, in prose and in verse, as early as the 12th and 13th centuries. From the envoy of the anonymous author of the original French version we learn how Henry Bolomyer, a canon of Lausanne, induced him to gather together into one connected narrative these disjointed fragments. A comparison of his work with that of Vincent of Beauvais shows clearly that his researches were by no means confined to the Speculum Historiale. I have already given a short account of the original French work. One version in the Grenville Library, 10531, is doubly unique, being not only the only copy of that particular version known to be in existence, but also the only production of the press of Symon du Jardin, at Geneva, which has come down to us. Brunet had heard of it, but doubted its existence. It is undated and without signatures, pagination, or illustrations.
   A second version of the original French is also preserved in the same library, No. 10532. It also is a folio volume of 65 leaves, signatures running from A j to L v. On L v b is a woodcut similar to that at the end of the copy already described. This also is unique, and has the following colophon: "Cy finist Fierabras imprime a lyon lan de grace mil qualtre cens quatre vingtz et seize. Le xx iour de nouembre." There are numerous woodcuts throughout the work, evidently copied from the same source as those in the Royal Fierabras described below, but much coarser and plainer. They are also frequently reversed, and, as in the royal copy, the same woodcut is at times made to serve for two or more incidents of a similar character.
   In the library of the late Mr. Huth is a version, undated, in folio, black letter, with woodcuts, and the colophon: "Cy finist Fierabras. Imprime a lyon par maistre Guillaume le roy. Le cincquiesme Jour du moys de Juilliet. Deo gracias." It contains 108 leaves, and is the copy described by Brunet. It appears to have belonged originally to the library of the Academy at Lyons. In the same library is a version in German containing 53 leaves, of which another copy is in the British Museum.
   The copy of the French Fierabras which I have used for comparison with the English translation, is that preserved in the Royal Library (Press mark, C. 6, b. 12). It is a folio volume of 115 leaves, without title-page. Woodcuts are freely introduced. On the back of sign. A i. is a large one representing Fierabras on horseback, and another on O 5 representing Charlemagne on his throne, and surrounded by his douzeperes. The preface begins on A ij, the index on A ij b, and the text on A vj. The colophon runs: "Cy finist Fierabras. Imprime a genesue Par maistre Loys Garbin bourgois de la dicte cite. Lan mil cccc. lxxxiij. et Le xiij iour de moys de Mais. Deo gracias. Amen." The woodcuts are in many cases most comical: perhaps the most ludicrous are those which are intended to represent Floripas killing Britamont, and Richard swimming the torrent of Flagot. In one in which the sacred relics are shown, only three nails appear, and in two others the Saracens are represented as bombarding the tower of Aigremont with cannons.
   In a few instances the same cut is employed to represent two incidents of a similar character. Thus that representing Oliver before Balan is also used for Guy before the Sultan.
   In his translation, Caxton has followed his original so closely and even slavishly, that at times it is difficult, if not impossible, to understand his meaning without a reference to the language of the original. Frequently he has used the very words of the French author, and still more frequently he has merely given them an English dress. Caxton probably is responsible for the introduction of more French words into our language than any other writer.
   In his epilogue Caxton tells us that he undertook the rendering into English of this Lyf of Charles the Grete at the instigation of "a good and synguler frend, Maister Wylliam Daubeny, one of the tresirers of the Iewellys of the noble and moost Crysten kyng, our naturel and souerayn lord late of noble memorye kyng Edward the Fourth." I have endeavoured to identify this Sir William Daubeny, and to ascertain the nature of the duties pertaining to his office as keeper of the jewels. As to the latter--
   The copy of the Liber Niger Domus Regis Anglie, believed to be that of Edward IV. in the Harleian MS 642, has the following section on leaf 49, &c. on the Keeper of the Jewels, his clerk, yoman, groom, chariot, &c.
   Office of Jewelhouse hath an Architector callid Clarke of the Kinges or keeper of Joyalx, or Theasaurer of the Chambre: this officer taketh bui Indenture betwixt him and the Kinge, all that he findes in his office of gold, siluer, pretious stones, and the markes of euery thinge. Alsoe he receaueth the yearely guiftes by Record of the Chamberlaine. Item he receaueth by Indenture of the Thesaurer of England, And by ouersight of the Chamberlaine sitting in the Kingis Chambre or in the hall with a person of like seruice, And for his Chambre at night dimidium cheate loafe, one quart wyne, one gallon of ale; And for winter Liuerey, one perche de wax, one candle wax, two candels paris, one dimidium tallwood, and present in Court vijd:. ob.
   In Checkerrolle and cloathing with howsold for winter and sommer, or of the Countinghouse xl:s.: his Liuerey is as Knightes, and if he be sicke, he taketh in eating daies like the Squires for the bodie when they bin lett blood or sicke, &c. Also in this offise is a clarke vnder him in the hall eatinge, taking for his liuerey at night, dimidium gallon ale, one candle paris, dimidium tallwood, shide and cloathing by the Countinghouse, or yerely twentie shillinges. And if he be sike, he taketh for all day one loafe of bread, one messe of gret meate, dimidium gallon ale. And for this office a yoman eating in the hall with yomen of Chambre, taking for his wages in the Countinghouse, if he be present, allowed by the Checkerrolle, threepence; And cloathing with the housold winter and summer for chances and all other part, or eighteene shillinges, besides his reward of the Jewelhouse for sure and diligent keeping of the Kinges Joalxe yerely &c. And if he be sicke, he taketh such Liuerey as doth the Clerke. Also in this office a groome eating dayly in the office, taking for his liuerey one loafe, one messe of grete meate, dimidium gallon ale: And he setteth in the Liueries.
   For this office in season, one candle wax, two candles paris, one tallwood dimidium, And Rushes and litter for this office all the yeare of the Sergeant Vsher of hall and Chambre. Also this groome fetting nightly for this office one gallon of ale: he helpeth to trusse and beare to the Charriott, and awaiteth thervpon the safeguard; and the yoman also to attend vpon this carriage. And this office hath also lodgeing in the Countrie towne for all these horses and seruantes suffisauntly by the herbergier. And the chiefe of this office to haue into this Court two waiters, and the Clerke one honest seruant. The remenant goo to theire lodgeing in the Countrey. And the yoman and groome haue one seruant. And for this office is assigned a Charriott with seauen horses and all there apparell, horse-meate, shooeing, and the yomen and groomis wagis therfore, foundyn of the charge of Thesaurer of housold to carrie the stuff of the Kinges in this office, and none other mans, by the ouersight of the Controller, betwixt the Thesaurer of housold, and this officer, be many interchaunges of siluer vessell, hoole and brooke, receaued or deliuered by officers by Indentures &c. As it will appeare in the Accompt of housold. And as for othir thinges touching this office, behold in the title De Oblationibus Regis capitulid before. all thinges of this office inward or outward, cometh and goeth by the knowledge of the Kinge, and by the Chamberlaines Record. Also if any Knight or Squire presume to weare the Kinges liuerey, but if he come ther by authoritie, or ellys by record in this office.
   Thanks to the kindness of Mr. Selby of H.M. Record Office and Mr. Furnivall, I have been enabled to identify Sir W. Daubeny, and to give some interesting particulars relating to him. We first meet with his name in 1480-1, when he was appointed Searcher in the Port of London.
   This Account extending over five years and 8 days gives the sum received as nil.
   This record states the duties to be--"ad explorandum per se in propria persona sua, et non per substitutum, omnes naves et batellas extra regnum Anglie transeuntes, et ad idem regnum venientes in portubus et locis predictis [i. e. in portu Civitatis Londonie], et ad scrutinium faciendum de omnibus navibus et batellis hujusmodi, et de personis de quibus sinistra suspicio haberi poterit, quod lane, pelles lanute, coria, panni, aut mercimonia custumabilia non cokettata nec custumata in eisdem navibus, aut aurum vel argentum in pecunia numerata, aut masa vel plata seu focalia carcata seu posita fuerunt; vel si alique persone bullas litteras instrumenta vel processus vel aliqua alia Regi vel suditis Regis prejudicialia infra vel extra regnum Regis predictum, detuleri contra proclamaciones et inhibuciones ex parte Regis inde factas, Habendum et occupandum officium predictum quamdiu Regi placuerit, una cum medietate forisfacture predicte."
   The substance of the Patent Roll is as follows:
   9 Novr, 20 Edw. IV, 1480. Memb. 21. Appointment of Wm. Daubeny as Searcher in the Port of London & other places adjoining the same, with the usual fees & emoluments, & also the half of all forfeit, was seized to the King's use. His substitute or substitutes may act for him.
   About the same time in a "Roll of Accounts, Michaelmas, 20 Edw. IV," there is an entry that John Barker of London, Goldsmith, had received 100l from William Daubeney in part payment of 80 butts of malmsey purchased by him for the use of the King's army.
   In 1483-4 he was re-appointed to the office of Searcher of the Port to Richard III. In the Patent Roll his previous appointment to the same office under Edward V. is referred to, and he is further described as Clerk of the Jewels. In the Calr. of the Patent Rolls, Ric. III. Appx. to 9th Report of Deputy Keeper of Records, p. 34, the following particulars relating to Sir W. Daubeny are given:

  • 1 Ric. III., p. 2, 1483-4. Membrane 20 (4) 16 Dec. Appointment of William Daubeny, clerk of the jewels, as searcher in the port of London, with a grant of half of all the forfeitures, in as full a manner as William Merston, esq. enjoyed the same: which office the said William Daubeney fills by virtue of a patent of Edward V. the bastard [entry 39], ib. p. 39, Membrance 7(19).
  • 11 Mar. Release to William Daubeney (or Dabeney), searcher in the port of London, of all arrears of accounts, &c. to 6 March last [entry 133]. ib. p. 42, Membrane 2 (24).
  • 8 April. Appointment of John Wode, knt, Treasurer of England, Robert Brakenbury, Constable of the Tower of London, Master William Lacy, Master William Dawbney, and Master Robert Rydon, as Commissaries General in the office of the Admiralty in England… ib. p. 67, Memb. 17 (9). 1 Ric. III, p. 4, 1483-4.
  • 24 April. Grant to William Dawbeney, clerk of the jewels to Edward IV., of an annuity of 10l. out of a farm in Watford (Northampton), (2) by the hands of Eustace of Burneby and Matill his wife, to hold the same until the gift, for life, of an office of 20l yearly value; further grant in survivorship to the said William Dawbeney and Joan his wife of an annuity of 20 marks, the former patents of 22 June, 21 Edw. IV. (p. 2, m. 12), and 1 May, (1 March: in the patent roll of 21 Edw. IV.) 21 Edw. IV. (p. 1, m. 6), granting to them the said annuities, having been surrendered.
   An order under the Privy Seal of Henry VII. in 1485 to the Treasurer and Chamberlaine of his Exchequer orders them to allow to his "beloved cousin John, arl of Oxenford," the sums of 100 marks and 100£ out of his purchase-money of 800 marks for the manors of the late Wm. Alyngton during his son's minority, and the marriage of this son: This, because the Earl had paid 100 marks to Rich. Gardyner, alderman of London, "for so moche money by the said Richard Gardyner late lent unto Richard, duc of Gloucester, late, in dede and not of righte, kind of England, upon pledge of a salt of gold with a cover…the which salt…was delivered unto the said Richard Gardynere by one, William Daubeney, knight, keeper of the juelx with the foresaid pretensed king…. and also the summe of c. ŭi. parcell of xxiiijc. ŭi by the said late pretensed king borowed of the maire and aldermen of our said citie of London … and for suertie and contentaciom of the said xxiiijc. ŭi. the said late pretensed king laide in plege to the said maire and aldermen a coronalle gold garnished with many other grete and riche juelx, as by a bille endented betwix the said maire and aldremen, on that one partie, and the foresaid William Daubeney, then keper of juelx of the said pretensed king on that othre partie thero made, more plainly doth appere.
   In Sept. 1484 we find the following orders: "Parcelles of clothing &c. to be delivered by the said bishop to the said erle of Desmond… Item, a nother lettre direct to Mr. William Dawbeney, clerk of the kinges juelles, to delivere unto the said bisshop for the said erle of Dissemond, a coler of gold of xxti oz., xxxti ŭi.--Letters and Papers t. Rich. III. & Hen. VI, ed. Gairdner, Rolls Series, 1861, p. 713.
   There is no William Daubeny's will of Caxton's time at the Probate Office, but the following items culled from various sources appear to refer to Caxton's friend, and his family:
   Dame Joan Dawbeny, wife of Sir Wm. Dawbeny, was buried at the Augustine Friers Church, Broadstreet Ward, London, [no date given]. John, son and heir of Sir Giles Dawbeny, is buried in the same church.
   Sir Wm. Stanley, William Dawbeney late of London, gentleman, & others were attainted of treason for rebelling against Henry VII. Act of Attainder in the Rolls of Parliament, vol. 6, p. 503.
   Mr. Walter Rye says that this may be the same man as Sir William, because, in an official document like the above, the title of Knight conferred by the usurper, Rich. III, would probably not be acknowledged. (But compare the order under the Privy Seal in 1485, on the preceding page.)
   Mr. Rye also thinks our Wm. D. was connected with the Norfolk Dawbeneys. In Blomfield's Norfolk, Wm. Dawbeney, of North Burlingham, after 1428 bought a property which his grandson Thomas sold in 1528.
   The Series of English Charlemagne Romances will be completed by the issue next year of the romances of Roland and Vernagu and Sir Otuel, from the Auchinleck MS., and the curious poem of Rauf Coilzear from the unique printed copy.


Mill Hill, N.W., October 1881.