Reconstructing a Middle Dutch Alexander Compilation




Alexander Romance, French and Middle Dutch, translations and compilations, medieval Brabant, Ferguut scribe


This article provides a first description, edition and analysis of Antwerp, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Special Collections, MAG-P 64.19. This fragment is the sole known remnant of a Middle Dutch compilation of stories about Alexander the Great copied by the well-known Ferguut scribe (ca. 1350). Our research shows that this compilation comprised Dutch versions of the Voeux du paon and the twelfth-century Fuerre de Gadres, which was previously unknown to have been translated into Dutch. We advance the possibility that the Stuttgart and Brussels fragments of Alexanders geesten and Roman van Cassamus, which were also copied by the Ferguut scribe, belonged to a second copy of this compilation, providing a continuous narrative about the life of Alexander. In this respect, the Dutch compilation resembles contemporary manuscripts of the Roman d’Alexandre in which Alexandre de Paris’ vulgate compilation was complemented with various amplifications. The combination of pre-existing Dutch stories into one (semi)coherent narrative is also similar to the famous Lancelot compilation, a collection of Arthurian narratives created in Brabant in approximately the same period. The fragment thus sharpens our understanding of the role of compilations in the dissemination of Middle Dutch chivalric romance.