The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 427 

apt phrases and sayings. Innumerable classical images flow into Henri's text challenging the reader to be cognizant of Roman and Greek mythology and stretching the imagination beyond stereotypical concepts of holiness.


  1. Henri is one of the first poets known to have received direct payment and preferment for his poems. Cf. David Towsend-Rigg, "Medieval Latin Poetic Anthologies (V): Matthew of Paris’s An- thology of Henri of Avranches (Cambridge University Library ms Dd. 11.87)" Medieval Studies 49 (1987) 352.
  2. Cf. Josiah C. Russell, "Master Henri of Avranches as an International Poet" Speculum 3 (1928) 34; Josiah C. Russell and John Paul Heironimus. The Shorter Latin Poems of Master Henri of Avranches Relating to England. The Medieval Academy of America: Studies and Documents 1. (Medieval Academy of America: Cambridge MA) 1935; Konrad Bund, "Mittelrheinische Geschichte des 13. Jahrhunderts in Spiegel der Dichtung: Untersuchungen zum Gedichtfragment Nr. 116 und zur des mittellateinischen Dichters Magister Heinrich von Avranches," in Archiv fur Frankfurts Geschicte und Kunst 59 (1985) 9-78.
  3. Henri’s own versification of Aristotle’s On Generation and Corruption would be an example of the diverse and extensive reach of versified texts. Cf. Russel and Hieronimus, 101-104.
  4. These debates were: 1) the Bourges-Bordeaux conflict; 2)the defense of John Blund, Arch- bishop-elect of Canterbury; 3) the seizure of Starkenburg castle by the Archbishop of Mainz; 4) the expulsion of the Dean of Maastricht. For a review of these four cases, the poetry and the historical context, see Russell and Hieronimus, 127-136.
  5. Cf. Jan. Ziolkowski, "The Medieval Latin Beast Flyting" in Mittellateinishces Jahrbuch 20 (1985) 49-65.
  6. Shanahan places the death of Henri in 1272. Cf. Gregory Shanahan, "Poem on the Life of Saint Francis (Legenda sancti Francisci versificata)," Franciscan Studies, 48 (1988) 128.
  7. The poems ascribed to Henri survive in two main manuscripts: Cambridge, University Library, Dd.xi.78 and in London, British Library, Cotton Vespasian D.v, fol.151-184. Full descriptions of both manuscripts have already appeared. Cf. David Townsend and A. G. Rigg, "Medieval Latin poetic anthologies (V): Matthew Paris’s anthology of Henri of Avranches (Cambridge, University Library MS Dd. 11.78)" Medieval Studies, 48 (1987), 352-390; Peter Brinkley, "Medieval Latin poetic anthologies (VI): the Cotton anthology of Henri of Avranches (B.L. Cotton Vespasian D. v., fols. 151-184)" Medieval Studies 52 (1990) 221-254.
  8. For fuller appreciation of Henri’s The Versified Life of Saint Francis, it would need to be com- pared to the other texts of versified saints’ lives authored by him and/or others, an enormous task that has yet to be done.
  9. Antonio Cristofani, Il piu antico poema della vita di San Francesco d’Assisi, scritto inanzi all’anno 1230 (Prato: 1882). Cristofani’s edition of the poem was the first; he used the then only known manuscript (Assisi Bibl. Comm. 338) in which the poem’s author is anonymous.
  10. Codex Cambridge University Library Dd. 11.78. Cf. Andrew G. Little, A Guide to Francis- can Studies (London: 1920) 12-13.
  11. Shanahan, 130. See also Fernando Uribe, Introduzione alle Agiografie di S. Francesco e S. Chiara d’Assisi (Roma: Pontificio Atheneo Antonianum, 1996) 167-171.
  12. An epic is introduced by the opening line—Gesta sacri cantabo ducis—echoing Vergil’s "Arma virumque cano." This is to be the saga of Francis—the "Francisciad" (like an Aeneid, an Il- iad). Cf. Shanahan, 131.




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 427