The Anglo-Norman Vegetius: a thirteenth century translation of the “De re militari”
By Lionel Kenneth Carley
PhD Dissertation, University of Nottingham, 1962
Abstract: The thesis is divided into three main sections i) Introduction ii) Text iii) Critical Notes and Glossary. In the opening two chapters, the historical setting of the translation is examined. First, the background to the writing in the fourth century of the original Latin text is established, and an outline is given of the substance of the text; then a study is made of the Vegetian tradition in France from the later years of the thirteenth century to the present day.
The manuscript, its date and its authorship are discussed in Chapters 3 and 4. Then the value of the French text as a translation is discussed. The sixth and longest chapter examines the language of the translation, noting points of divergence from Continental French which generally fit into the pattern of Anglo-Norman usage. A short chapter is given over to outlining the plan followed in establishing the text of this edition. The Notes to the Introduction conclude this part of the thesis.
Introduction: The De re militari, or Epitoma rei militaris, of Flavius Vegetius Renatus was written and compiled towards the close of the fourth century. Dedicated to the reigning Emperor, the work is a military treatise describing the training, organization, tactics and strategy of the Roman army. Its author was conscious of the comparative decadence of the army of his own day and constantly cites as an ideal for his contemporaries the Roman war machine of an earlier period. What were the causes of the functional decay of this machine, a decay which Vegetius suggests might yet be arrested?