How the English saw the French in the 12th Century

Published on January 19th, 2010 | by Admin


A newly translated 12th century poem reveals that the English thought the French were lazy, arrogant cowards.

Written between 1180 and 1194, a century after the Norman Conquest united England and Normandy against a common enemy in France, the 396-line poem was part of a propaganda war between London and Paris.

Poet Andrew de Coutances, an Anglo-Norman cleric, describes the French as godless, arrogant and lazy dogs. Even more stingingly, he accuses French people of being cowardly, and calls them heretics and rapists.

It has taken David Crouch, a professor of medieval history at Hull University, months to complete the translation of what is one of the earliest examples of anti-French diatribe.

The poem was written at a time when Philip II of France was launching repeated attacks on Normandy, taking advantage of in-fighting within the English royal family.

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3 Responses to How the English saw the French in the 12th Century

  1. Pnina says:

    Greetings! A dear friend (who also loves history as I do) sent me your blog URL, and this poem. I am not surprised the English and the French would trade such barbs across the Channel, and for several centuries. Heck, they still feel that way about each other to this day (although not in such colorful verse)! It’s brilliant! Thank you for sharing it!

    I also have a blog about history. I started it just before Christmas 2009. Most of it is about more ‘recent’ history. But it’s nice to see others with the same passion. Keep up the great work! (“Pnina”, BTW, is my nom-de-plume….)

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