In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Benoît de Sainte Maure [113]

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Bibliographies
  • Studies
  • Sources
  • Authors, Writers, and Scribes
  • Proto-Romance from Estoire to Roman
  • The Art of Narrative Composition
  • Language and Style
  • Orality and Versification
  • Manuscripts and Manuscript Illustration
  • Trojan Tradition in the Middle Ages
  • Social Institutions and Practices
  • Historiography
  • Cosmography and Geography
  • Author and Patronage
  • The Question of Anachronism
  • Trojan Flight from Troy
  • The Art of War and Warfare

Medieval Studies Benoît de Sainte Maure [113]
Douglas Kelly
  • LAST REVIEWED: 17 October 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 February 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0226


Benoît de Sainte-Maure wrote two historical poems, or estoires: the Roman de Troie (ca. 1165) and the Chronique des ducs de Normandie (ca. 1175). The Troie reports the causes of the Trojan War up to the beginning of hostilities as well as the ten-year siege of Troy, followed by the aftermath for both the surviving Greeks who attempt to return to their homeland and the surviving Trojans who flee to other lands. Benoît’s primary sources for the Troie are two Latin works attributed to the Trojan Dares and the Greek Dictys, both of whom claim to have been participants in the Trojan War and to report as eyewitnesses what they saw. Although the Trojans are by no means the focus of Benoît’s Norman history, following Dudo of Saint-Quentin, he seeks to establish in the Chronique Trojan descent for the Normans via the latter’s Danish heritage, with Antenor posited as the founder of the Danish people (v. 649); this Trojan branch of the large family is not identified in the Troie or in its sources. These “Trojans” settled in Denmark and later conquered and settled in Normandy; still later, their descendants conquered England under William the Conqueror in the Battle of Hastings. The Chronique’s primary sources are the Norman histories De moribus et actis primorum Normanniae ducum by Dudo of Saint-Quentin and the Gesta Normannorum ducum by Guillaume of Jumièges. The interest in the Trojan War and the assumed descent of medieval royalty from banished Trojans explains in part the interest in the 12th century in so-called Greco-Roman subject matter, best represented by the romans d’antiquité (also known as romans antiques), including not only the Troie but also the anonymous Roman de Thèbes, a French adaptation of Statius’s Thebaid; the anonymous Roman d’Eneas based on Vergil’s Aeneid; and, finally, a number of romans d’Alexandre based on multiple ancient and medieval accounts of the legendary career of Alexander the Great. That Benoît and his implied audiences were aware of these predecessors is suggested by some apparent cross-references in the Troie. The scholarship on Benoît contains significant studies of one or the other of his two works together with their sources in contemporary literature, and later literature that was influenced by Benoît’s Troie.

General Overviews

Baumgartner 1995, Blumenfeld-Kosinski 1980, Damian-Grint 1999, Mora-Lebrun 2008, Petit 1985, and Schöning 1991 treat issues of the Troie’s genre, other romans d’antiquité, and the emergence of medieval romance. Baumgartner 1994 and Buschinger 1992 are collections of articles that treat generic issues in the Troie, other romans d’antiquité, the emergence of medieval romance, and vernacular historiography.

  • Baumgartner, Emmanuèle. De l’histoire de Troie au livre du Graal: le temps, le récit (XIIe-XIIIe siècle). Orléans, France: Paradigme, 1994.

    This collection of thirty-six articles contains two on the Troie under the heading “L’Ecrivain et son texte” (pp. 15–36) and seven under the heading “L’Œuvre de Troie” (pp. 171–250).

  • Baumgartner, Emmanuèle. Le Récit médiéval XIIe-XIIIe siècles. Paris: Hachette, 1995.

    See especially chapter 2: “‘Romans antiques’ et histoires anciennes” on French adaptations of Latin narratives.

  • Blumenfeld-Kosinski, Renate. “Old French Narrative Genres: Towards the Definition of the Roman Antique.” Romance Philology 34 (1980): 143–159.

    Explores the meaning of roman antique (roman d’antiquité) in relation to translatio, that is to say, the author’s authority in transferring ancient texts into vernacular versions as well as the techniques they use to effect the transfer.

  • Buschinger, Danielle, ed. Le Roman antique au moyen âge. Göppingen, Germany: Kümmerle, 1992.

    Contains articles on both the Troie and/or the Chronique.

  • Damian-Grint, Peter. The New Historians of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance: Inventing Vernacular Authority. Woodbridge, NY: Boydell, 1999.

    Twelfth-century vernacular histories include Benoît’s Chronique and Troie among numerous other authors and works significant in the development and emergence of both vernacular chronicles and of romance. Authorial interventions and the targeted audience are important factors in this trend. A useful appendix of vernacular literary terminology concludes the study.

  • Mora-Lebrun, Francine. “Metre en romanz”: Les romans d’antiquité du XIIe siècle et leur postérité (XIIIe- XIVe siecle). Paris: Champion, 2008.

    Major wide-ranging study of the romans d’antiquité and their place and significance in French romance beginning in the 12th century. Contains a good bibliography.

  • Petit, Aimé. Naissances du roman: Les techniques littéraires dans les romans antiques du XIIe siècle. 2 vols. Lille, France: Atelier National Reproduction de Thèses, Université Lille III, 1985.

    Study of structure, themes, and stylistic devices in the romans d’antiquité. Focuses on plot, structure, and epic style; romance techniques and the love theme; narrative structure; portraiture; monologue and dialogue; the origins of romance writing; and authorial interventions.

  • Schöning, Udo. Thebenroman-Eneasroman-Trojaroman: Studien zur Rezeption der Antike in der französischen Literatur des 12. Jahrhunderts. Tübingen, Germany: Niemeyer, 1991.

    DOI: 10.1515/9783110932386

    Studies the Troie as roman d’antiquité along with other vernacular adaptations of Latin sources of Greco-Roman subject matter. Chapters treat the author as narrator; the representation of Antiquity and anachronism; the contexts of love, justice, guilt, and atonement; and the gods and goddesses.

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