University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Harry F. Williams Papers

13th - 18th c. (bulk 15th c.)
1930 -1985

Manuscript Collection Number: 367
Accessioned: Gift of Harry F. Williams, 1990, 1998.
Extent: 4 linear ft.
Content: Photocopies of manuscripts, microfilm, articles and reviews, diplomas and certificates, notes.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: May 1998 by Arthur Siegel.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Harry F. Williams was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in 1911. He became interested in the Romance languages at an early age, and spent several years as a student in Europe. There he received a degree in French Studies from the University of Nancy in 1931, and a degree in French Civilization from the University of Paris in 1933. In that same year he also received a B.A. from the University of Delaware. Williams continued his studies at Middlebury College, where he received his Masters degree in 1938, and finally was awarded his doctorate at the University of Michigan in 1942. The mobility he demonstrated as a student continued throughout his professional career. After receiving his doctorate, Williams accepted a position as head of the Department of Languages at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee. In 1944 he became an instructor of Spanish at the University of Wisconsin, and two years later he went to UCLA as an instructor of French. From 1963 to 1966 Williams was a professor of Romance Languages at the University of Minnesota, and in 1966 he accepted a position at Florida State University, where he remained until the late 1980s.

During Williams' long academic career he published several scholarly books, such as Les Lais de Marie de France and Flore et Blanchefleur, contributed articles and reviews to numerous professional journals, and presented papers before national and international organizations. He also traveled to France many times over the course of his career, studying and photocopying manuscripts from archives in Paris, Grenoble, Lyon, Brussels, Arsenal, and numerous other towns. His contribution to the study of medieval Literature has been widely recognized, and in 1987 he was honored with the designation of Professor Emeritus by Florida State University. Williams retired from teaching and moved to Oxford, Pennsylvania, where he remained until his death on March 4, 1998.

Some figures of medieval French literature who were prominent in his work, such as Marie de France (late 12th century), had also been well-known to scholars in the field. Many others, however, were more obscure individuals whose lives and works Williams helped bring to light. One of these, Martin le Franc, was the subject of several studies by Williams, who collected numerous copies of his work. Martin le Franc (c. 1410-1461) was born in Normandy, and studied in Paris, taking clerical orders and eventually becoming Prevôt of Luzanne and a canon in Geneva. He traveled widely and made many connections, serving as secretary for Pope Nicholas V (1447-1455), and the anti-pope Felix V (1439-1449). In addition, he was in the service of the dukes of Savoy, and frequently sought the patronage of Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy (1419-1467).

Martin is known for two works in particular, Le Champion des Dames (c. 1440-1442) and L'Estrif de Fortune et Vertu (c. 1447-1448), both of which were dedicated to Duke Philip, and both of which were moralistic and didactic in nature. Le Champion, a work of over 24,000 lines, recounted the deeds and virtues of numerous historical and mythological women (including Joan of Arc), while frequently digressing into invective against the contemporary nobility, corruption in government, and excessive luxury at the royal court. His defense of women was inspired in response to the satirical view of women taken in the Roman de la Rose, and his arguments addressed the currents of the "Querrelle des Femmes," that so interested fifteenth- century society. Les Champions was copied several times throughout the fifteenth century, and was first set to print in 1503 by Galliot du Pr‚ in Paris. L'Estrif presents an allegorical debate between Fortune and Virtue before the arbitrator Reason (all personified as women), over which of these two ought to guide the spirit of the world. In its form, this work too addresses the troubles and disorders of mid-fifteenth century France, raises questions of determinism in man, and relies heavily upon Petrarch and writers of classical antiquity. Martin's writings were not extremely popular in his own day; indeed, the court of Philip of Burgundy received Les Champions with some indifference. However, his work experienced a small revival during the sixteenth century.


The Concise Oxford Dictionary of French Literature. Joyce M.H. Reid, ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976.

The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French. Peter France, ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.

Tobin, Prudence Mary O'Hara. Les Lais Anonymes des XIIe et XIIIe Siècles. Genève: Libraire Droz, 1976.

Williams, Harry F. "Old French Lives of Saint Barbara" in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 119

(1975) 156-85.

Scope and Content Note

The Harry F. Williams Papers concern the works, awards, and personal notes of the prominent professor of Romance Languages, Harry F. Williams (1911-1998). The collection itself consists of four linear feet of material comprising photocopies of medieval French manuscripts, microfilm, personal notes, diplomas, and reviews and articles written by Williams. The collection is divided into seven main series: I. versions of Les Champions des Dames, II. versions of Les Lais Anonymes, III. versions of Simon de Pouille, IV. miscellaneous manuscripts, V. microfilm, VI. reviews and articles, and VII. diplomas and certificates. Only the last two series and several of the works by Martin le Franc are readily datable, the dates of the remaining manuscripts being consigned to guesswork.

The first series covers, generally, the period of the mid-fifteenth century, and consists of eight different versions of the text of Le Champion des Dames by Martin le Franc.

The second series covers the period of the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries, with bulk dates in the late thirteenth to early fourteenth centuries. This consists of four different versions of Les Lais Anonymes, as well as an eighteenth-century transcript of the work.

The third series covers the period of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and consists of three versions of Simon de Pouille.

The fourth series covers the fifteenth century and the period 1955-1977, though much of the material is undated. It includes miscellaneous manuscripts, receipts, note cards, personal notes (both hand-written and photocopies), envelopes, and bibliographies.

The fifth series likely covers the thirteenth to fifteenth century, though almost all material is undated. It consists of microfilm copies of a large number of manuscripts.

The sixth series covers the period 1945-1985, and consists of six bound volumes collecting offprints of Williams' articles and book reviews.

The final series covers the period 1930-1987, with bulk dates from 1930-1942. Included are certificates and diplomas awarded to Williams by various universities, as well as the Departments of Public Instruction in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The bulk of the material in this collection consists of photocopies or microfilm of medieval manuscripts. The manuscripts are identified by an MS number as well as their location. These are generally from France (Bibliotheque Nationale or "BN," Arsenal, Grenoble, Lyon); England (Bodleian Library, British Museum or "Brit. Mus."); Belgium (Bibliotheque Royale or "BR"); Germany (Stadtsbibliothek Bern); and the Vatican ("Palat. Lat."). Each microfilm reel has been assigned an arbitrary identification number.

The collection provides a wide range of manuscripts that would certainly be of interest to students of medieval French literature and language, as well as those who wish to study the styles and scripts that were common in late-medieval French scriptoria. Indeed, one can see with the manuscript L'Estrif de Fortune et de Foi (folder 36) the process of manuscript production quite clearly, as text was written first and space provided for the later addition of illumination. Though these are only photocopies, most of them are quite clear to read, and provide convenient access to scholars who might not otherwise have the opportunity to see them. Unfortunately, there are a few that are in poor shape (either because the manuscript itself had deteriorated or because there were problems in copying), and some are incomplete. In addition, there are a few (primarily in the microfilm) that were not identified by Williams, and most are dated only very broadly. Many of the folders include personal notes by Williams regarding the manuscripts, though they are often difficult to follow and written primarily in French.

Martin le Franc is the only individual known for certain to have authored some of the manuscripts in the collection. Aside from these, there are several versions of the Lais Anonymes, songs of itinerant Breton jongleurs that were first composed in the twelfth century, and the manuscripts in this collection are versions of these poems that were written over the course of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Many are similar in style to the works of Marie de France (late 12th century), and possess various motifs, such as Latin poetry, romance epics, and both German and Scandinavian legends. There are also several versions of the anonymous Simon de Pouille, a tale of a fictional noble from southern Italy that dates from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. This is just one of three largely contemporaneous French epics concerned with Charlemagne's apocryphal crusade to Jerusalem, epics which were inspired by the very popular Song of Roland (11th century). There are other crusading epics as well, such as the anonymous thirteenth-century Le Pas Saladin, which is based on the pseudo-historic defense of the Holy Land by a small handful of Christians against the Muslim forces of Saladin during the Third Crusade.

The collection also contains several bound volumes of some of his collected work, generally that which had been published in scholarly journals. These were written in English, French, Spanish, and German, and provide a nice reference for researchers interested in medieval French and Spanish literature, as well as providing a cross-reference for some of the manuscripts in the collection. In addition, most of the articles and reviews are short, generally only one to three pages in length.

Series Outline

I.   Le Champion des Dames
          MS 266 [Lyon]                                
          BN MS 841 [Paris]                                 
          MS 875 [Grenoble]                                 
          Palat. Lat. MS 1968 [Vatican]                     
          MS 3121 [Arsenal]                                
          BR MS 9287 [Brussels]                             
          BR MS 9466 [Brussels]                             
          [Lille Manuscript]                                

II.  Les Lais Anonymes
          MS 3516 [Arsenal]                                 
          BN MS 1553 [Paris]                                
          BN MS 2168 [Paris]                                
          BN MS 1104 [Paris]                                
          MS 2770 [Arsenal]                                 

III. Simon de Pouille
          Br. Mus. MS 15 E VI [London]                      
          BN MS 368 [Paris]                                 
          BN MS 4780 [Paris]                                

IV.  Miscellaneous Manuscripts                                   

V.   Microfilm                                         

VI.  Reviews and Articles                                   

VII. Certificates and Diplomas                                  

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

       Series I.  Le Champion des Dames
          This series includes eight different versions of this fifteenth-century work by
           Martin le Franc, all photocopies.

1    F1   MS 266 [Lyon], late 15th century  (183 pp.)
          Includes illustrations and a large illuminated frontispiece, depicting the author's
          presentation of the manuscript to a patron (perhaps Philip of Burgundy).

     F2   BN MS 841 [Paris], mid 15th century  (52 pp.)
          An incomplete edition, containing ff. 79r to 104v only.  Also contains

     F3   MS 875 [Grenoble], mid 15th century  (pp. 1-80)
          Includes illuminations and a dedication at the beginning from Martin le Franc to
          Philip of Burgundy.  The folio numbers are unclear, so the pagination has been
          provided by 18th century archivists at the library.  Folders four through ten
          contain a continuation of this particular manuscript.

     F4   MS 875 [Grenoble], mid 15th century  (pp. 81-155)
     F5   MS 875 [Genoble], mid 15th century  (pp. 156-214)

     F6   MS 875 [Grenoble], mid 15th century  (pp. 215-283)

     F7   MS 875 [Grenoble], mid 15th century  (pp. 284-341)

     F8   MS 875 [Grenoble], mid 15th century  (pp. 342-377)

     F9   MS 875 [Grenoble], mid 15th century  (pp. 378-440)

     F10  MS 875 [Grenoble], 15th century  (8 pp.)
          Includes an introductory poem, found at the beginning of Le Champion des
          Dames, and written by Martin le Franc.  A transcription of this poem is found in
          F40.  Also included is a late 18th- / early 19th-century entry entitled "Extrait du
          Dictionnaire de Boyle au mot Franc Martin," inserted opposite the beginning of
          the poem.

     F11  Palat. Lat. MS 1968 [Vatican], n.d.  (190 pp.)
          There are no illuminations by which to date this manuscript.

     F12  MS 3121 [Arsenal], n.d.  (168 pp.)
          There are no illuminations in this text.

1    F13  MS 3121 [Arsenal], n.d.  (23 pp.)
          Included are enlarged duplicates of several pages of the Arsenal manuscript.

     F14  BR  MS 9287 [Brussels], n.d.  (59 pp.)
          This is only a partial copy of the manuscript.

     F15  BR  MS 9466 [Brussels], n.d.  (28 ff.)
          This is only a partial copy of the manuscript.

     F16  [Lille Manuscript], 15th century  (183 pp.)
          Includes illuminations, and is very similar in style to the Lyon manuscript (F1).

          Series II.  Les Lais Anonymes
          Included in this series are photocopies of four different versions of the
          manuscript, which was first written sometime at the end of the thirteenth or the
          beginning of the fourteenth century by an anonymous author.  The manuscripts
          contain collections of  ballads, with occasional musical notation.  In addition,
          there is a photo-reproduction of an 18th-century French transcript of this work.

     F17  MS 3516 [Arsenal], late 13th century  (252 pp.)
          Includes ff. 1-125, with small illuminations and text in three to four columns.  At
          the beginning of the text are several folios with a calendar of saint's days, and
          possibly an Easter table as well.  Also included is a two-page list of contents,
          written by Williams.

2    F18  MS 3516 [Arsenal], late 13th century  (256 pp.)
          Includes ff. 126-254, with illuminated miniatures.

     F19  MS 3516 [Arsenal], late 13th century  (212 pp.)
          Includes ff. 255-361, with illuminated miniatures.

     F20  BN  MS 1553 [Paris], late 13th century  (319 pp.)
          Includes ff. 1-160r, and displays a large frontispiece illumination of the Madonna
          and child.  The manuscript also contains numerous decorated initials, and text in
          two columns.

     F21  BN  MS 1553 [Paris], late 13th century  (184 pp.)
          Includes ff. 160v-253r.

     F22  BN  MS 1553 [Paris], late 13th century  (216 pp.)
          Includes ff. 253v-362r.

     F23  BN  MS 1553 [Paris], late 13th century  (325 pp.)
          Includes ff. 362v-525v., as well as a two-page annotated index (poss. 18th
          century) with the titles of the poems in the manuscript.  Also included is 
          a two-page transcription of the index, written by Williams.

     F24  BN  MS 2168 [Paris], late 13th century  (92 pp.)
          Includes an index of the manuscript from 1892.

     F25  BN  MS 2168 [Paris], late 13th century  (216 pp.)
          Includes musical notation and other drawings.

     F26  BN  MS 2168 [Paris], late 13th century  (170 pp.)

     F27  BN  MS 1104 [Paris], 13th or 14th century  (132 pp.)
          Included is a one-page index of the manuscript, written by Williams, and the
          manuscript itself contains numerous decorated initials.

     F28  MS 2770 [Arsenal], 18th century  (288 pp.)
          An edited transcript of the manuscript in french, as well as a one-page index of the
          transcription, written by Williams.

          Series III.  Simon de Pouille
          The series includes photocopies of three versions of this 5100-line epic, possibly
          written in the early 14th century.  These manuscripts date from the 14th and 15th

     F29  Br. Mus. MS 15 E VI [London], c.1444-1447  (36 pp.)
          A negative photocopy, the manuscript has a large illumination on the first folio. 

3    F30  BN  MS 368 [Paris], early 14th century  (43 pp.)
          Including ff. 140-160, this is part of a larger manuscript which contains numerous
          other works.  Also included is an index to the manuscript, written at a much later
          date, which is entitled, "Roman de Charlemagne."

     F31  BN  MS 4780 [Paris], early 14th century  (69 pp.)

     F32  BN  MS 4780 [Paris], early 14th century  (69 pp.)

          Series IV.  Miscellaneous manuscripts
          Includes complete photocopies of four additional French manuscripts, as well as
          partial photocopies of several others.  Also included are Harry Williams' hand-written 
          notes, and material relating to his microfilm collections.

     F33  BN  MS 353 [Paris], n.d.  (174 pp.)
          Entitled "Florimont," the photocopy of 87 ff. has been cut in half.

     F34  BN  MS 19126 [Paris], c. 1447-8  (124 pp.)
          Folios 1-61r of a work entitled L'Estrif de Fortune et Vertu, written by Martin le
          Franc.  It is divided into three books, and written in a style of mixed prose and
          verse.  At the beginning is a two-page dedication to Charles VII of France, and a
          large illumination depicting three women -- the personifications of Fortune,
          Virtue, and Reason.

     F35  BN  MS 19126 [Paris], mid 15th century  (211 pp.)
          Includes ff. 61v-167v.

     F36  MS 600 [unknown], n.d.  (194 pp.)
          Entitled L'Estrif de Vertu et de Foi, and written by an unknown author.  This
          work was unfinished, for though the text was complete there are several blank
          spaces where the illumination was to be filled in.

     F37  BN  MS 1593 [Paris], n.d.  (255 pp.)
          The manuscript consists of a diverse collection of material from numerous works,
          including, poetry, musical notation, and illuminations.  Also included is a two-page 
          index of the manuscript, written by Williams.

     F38  BN  MS 1593 [Paris], n.d.  (181 pp.)
          Also includes a two-page index of this portion of the manuscript.

     F39  Miscellaneous manuscript pages  (14 pp.)
          Includes photocopies from two separate manuscripts.  The first was written in
          1531 at Alen‡on (possibly by Simon de Boie), and includes a title page: "Le
          miroir de l'ame pecherresse / auquelle elle recongnoist ses faustes et pechez /
          aussi les graces et benefices a elle faictz p[ar] Jhesuchrist son espous" [The mirror
          of the sinful soul, by which it recognizes its faults and sins, as well as the grace
          conferred upon it by Jesus Christ].   Several of the photocopies are enlarged in
          order to highlight marginal notes.  The second manuscript is six pages and is

     F40  Williams' notes, n.d.  (27 pp.)
          Written in French, these include transcriptions and analyses of some of the poems
          in the collection, including meter and provenance.  Also included is a
          transcription of the introductory poem in Les Champions des Dames.

     F41  Ephemera relating to microfilm collection, c.1973-1977  (22 items)
          Included are 15 note cards, kept in an envelope, three receipts and a notice from
          the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris (1973-77) regarding the purchase of
          microfilm, and envelopes from the Bibliotheque Nationale, the Stadtbibliothek
          Bern, and Oxford University.

     F42  Miscellaneous notes, n.d.  (18 pp.)
          Includes several pages of personal notes, mimeographed sheets from a book on
          the Etruscan language, and mimeographed bibliographies for courses in French

4    F43  Series V.  Microfilm, n.d.  (42 items)
          Included are 42 microfilm reels of manuscripts.  The reels were assigned arbitrary
          numbers and are not in any particular order, either by manuscript number or
          provenance.  The first 15 reels correspond to some of the photocopied
          manuscripts found in the collection, and some of the remaining reels (#16-19,
          #25-26, and #32-33) were grouped together by Williams according to categories
          indicated in the list.  In addition, several of the reels contain more than one strip
          of microfilm.  These are indicated in each case.

     F43  Le Champion des Dames (Reels 1-7)  
               Reel #1; MS 266 [Lyon]     (F1)

               Reel #2; MS 875 [Grenoble]     (F3-9)

               Reel #3; Pal. Lat.  MS 1968 [Vatican]     (F11)

               Reel #4; MS 3121 [Arsenal]     (F12-13)

               Reel #5; BR  MS 9287 [Brussels]     (F14)

               Reel #6; BR  MS 9466 [Brussels]     (F15)

               Reel #7; Lille Manuscript     (F16)

          Les Lais Anonymes (Reels 8-10)
               Reel #8; MS 3516 [Arsenal]     (F17)

               Reel #9; BN  MS 2168 [Paris]     (F24-26)

               Reel #10; MS 2770 [Arsenal]     (F28)

          Simon de Pouille (Reels 11-13)     (F29)
               Reel #11; MS 15 E VI [London]
               Includes a section entitled "Romances and Poems"

               Reel #12; BN  MS 368 [Paris]     (F30)

               Reel #13; BN  MS 4780 [Paris]     (F31-32)

          Reel #14; BN  MS 1593 [Paris]     (F37-38)

          Reel #15; BN  MS 1593 [Paris]     (F37-38)

          Medieval English Verse (Reels 16-19)
               Reel #16; Bodleian MS 27 [Fairfax] -- "Marriage of the Devil's Nine

               Reel #17; Bodleian MS 66 [Corpus Christi College] -- "Marci Manilli
               Astronomicorum."  Also includes the Codex Membranaceus.

     F43       Reel #18; Bodleian MS 210 [Dounce] -- "Traitee del Chevalier"

               Reel #19; Bodleian MS 425 [Bodley] -- "Psalter in English Verse."  Also
               included are Bodleian MS 210 [Dounce] -- "Poems," and Bodleian MS 9
               [Bodley] -- "Prayers and Poems."

          Reel #20; BN  MS 27 [Paris] -- "Les Champions des Dames"

          Reel #21; BN  MS 146 [Paris] -- unknown

          Reel #22; MS 352 [Berne] -- unknown

          Reel #23; BN  MS 422 [Paris] -- facimile of "Fabliaux dit et Contes"
               Written by Henri Omont.

          Reel #24; MS 573[?] [Bern] -- unknown
               Contains three separate strips.

          Reel #25; BN  MS 817 [Paris] -- "St. Christine"
                         MS 12445 [Paris] -- "St. Valere"
                         MS 24432 [Paris] -- "Le Pas Saladin"
                         MS 1714 [Paris] -- "St. Josse"
          Reel #26; BN  MS 1974 [Paris] -- "Le Pas de Bergere"
                        MS 2101 [Paris] -- "St. Josse"
                        MS 975 [Paris] -- "St. Barbara"

          Reel #27; BN  MS 1397 [Paris] -- unknown
               Also includes MSS 25441, 25535, 6513, and 719.  These may be
               early-sixteenth century translations by Anne de Granville.

          Reel #28; MS 1492 & 1493 -- "Floriant et Florete"
               An Arthurian romance, written in the mid-fifteenth century, and contained
               in eight microfilm strips.

          Reel #29; BN  MS 1570 [Paris] -- unknown

          Reel #30; BN  MS 2154 [Paris] -- "Le Conte du Papegaulx"

          Reel #31; MS 5116 [Arsenal] -- unknown

          Series V.  Microfilm  (cont'd)

4    F43  Reel #32; BR MS 10295-304 [Brussels] -- "St. Barbara"

          Reel #33; BR  MS 10958 [Brussels] -- "St. Josse"

          Reel #34; BN  MS 72562[?] [Paris] -- unknown

          Reel #35; MS GG.1.1[?] [Cambridge] -- unknown

          Reel #36; New York Public Library -- "Floriant et Florete"
               Included are two microfilm strips.

          Reel #37; UCLA -- "Guillaume de Palerne"[?]
               Originally written at the end of the twelfth century in NW France, it was
               recopied through the eighteenth century in both French and English.  This
               is contained on three microfilm strips.

          Reel #38; "Le Champion des Dames"
               This is contained on three microfilm strips.

          Reel #39; "Semeianzae del Mundo"[?]
               This is contained on three microfilm strips.

          Reel #40; unidentified

          Reel #41; unidentified

          Reel #42; photo negatives

3    F44  Series VI.  Reviews and Articles, 1945-1985  (6 items)
          Includes six bound volumes of Williams' published articles and reviews of books. 
          These works are clipped, and pasted on pages within the volumes.

          V.1 (1945-1957)

          V.2 (1958-1962)

          V.3 (1962-1964) -- including book reviews from 1947-1964

     F44  V.4 (1964-1974)

          v.5 (1974-1980)

          v.6 (1981-1985)

          Series VII.  Diplomas and Certificates, 1930-1987  (10 items)
          Most of these are framed and are stored in an oversize manuscript box.  The
          remainder are unframed paper certificates, and are to be found in Box 3.  The
          items are listed below according to storage location.

3    F45  Reserve Officer Training Corps of the University of Delaware, 1930 Oct 20
          Certificate of appointment to rank of Corporal.

          Delaware Department of Public Instruction, 1934 Jul 1
          High school teaching certificate.

          Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction, 1934 Aug 22
          Certification to teach high school English, French, and Social Studies.

          Florida State University, 1987 Apr 24
          Designation of Williams as Professor Emeritus.

OS   F46  University of Nancy, 1931 Oct 26
          Diploma of French Studies, framed.

          University of Delaware, 1933 Jun 12
          B.A. in Arts & Sciences, framed.

          University of Paris, 1933 Jun 30
          "Superior Degree" for studies in French Civilization.

          Middlebury College, 1938 Aug 25

          University of Michigan, 1942
          Doctorate degree, bound in a blue folder.

OS   F46  Plaque, 1987
          Awarded to Williams in honor of his designation as Professor Emeritus.
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