Manuscripts and Special Collections

'L'Estoire del Saint Graal' (WLC/LM/7)

WLC/LM/7, back cover

French, c.1200-1250. 76 ff

The collection of Arthurian prose romances in French is known as the Vulgate Cycle. The cycle begins with this account of the adventures of Joseph of Arimathea and his companions, as they carry the Holy Grail from country to country, converting the people as they go, eventually arriving in Britain.

Almost half of the text is missing. The extant text begins in the middle of the tale, and corresponds to pp. 130-296 of the L'estoire del Saint Graal in H. Oskar Sommer (ed.), 'The Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances…', 8 vols (Washington, 1908-16)

The text is in double colums, with long capitals in red and blue. Later binding has used leaves from a 14th century Gradual with musical notation. The volume contains numerous marginal jottings, some suggesting the manuscript came to England in the 14th century.

Dating is based on the most recent catalogue description: beginning of the 13th century (Reference: The Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts), with recent work by Alison Stones suggesting the first quarter of the century (Reference: Alison Stones, 'Two French Manuscripts: WLC/LM/6 and WLC/LM/7', in The Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts)

Image shows the back cover of L’Estoire del Saint Graal.

View catalogue record

View zoomable image of f. 2 verso, together with a transcription and translation of an extract relating to the story of King Solomon, on our Wives, Widows and Wimples online learning resource.


Further Reading

  • Historical Manuscript Commission , Report on the Manuscripts of Lord Middleton Preserved at Wollaton Hall , Nottinghamshire , compiled by W. H. Stevenson (London:, 1911), p. 235.
  • Thorlac Turville-Petre and Dorothy Johnston, Image & Text: Medieval Manuscripts at the University of Nottingham (Nottingham: Djanogly Art Gallery, University of Nottingham Arts Centre, 1996), p. 10.
  • The Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances , ed. H. Oskar Sommer, vol I (Washington, 1909).
  • Catalogue description by R. Hanna, in Ralph Hanna and Thorlac Turville-Petre (eds), The Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts: Texts, Owners and Readers (Boydell and Brewer, 2010)

Published editions: H. Oskar Sommer (ed). The Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances, vol I (Washington, 1909), and Jean-Paul Ponceau (ed). L'estoire del Saint Graal, 2 vols (Paris : H. Champion, 1997. The text in both editions is not from WLC/LM/7, but from another manuscript. Modern English translation in N. J. Lacy (ed). Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in translation, 5 vols (New York and London, 1993-6), volume 1.


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