Anglo-Norman chronicler
Born 1100? Died 1175?

Robert Wace was born in Jersey. He studied at Caen; he became personally known to Henry I, Henry II, and the latter's eldest son, Prince Henry; from Henry II. he received a prebend at Bayeux and other gifts. Except for these facts he is known to us only as the author of two metrical chronicles in the Norman-French language. Of these the earlier in date is the Roman de Brut, completed in 1155, which is said to have been dedicated to Eleanor of Aquitaine (ed. A. J. V. Le Roux de Lincy, 2 vols., Rouen, 1836-1838). This is a free version of the Latin Historia Britonum by Geoffrey of Monmouth, in rhyming octosyllables; it was rendered into English, shortly after 1200, by Layamon, a mass priest of Worcestershire, and is also largely used in the rhymed English chronicle of Robert Mannyng. Wace's second work, the Roman de Rou, written between 1160 and 1174, has a less fabulous character than the Brut, being a chronicle of the Norman dukes from Rollo to Robert Curthose. It has been ably dissected by Gustav Korting (Ober die Quellen des Roman de Rou, Leipzig, 1867), who shows that it is mainly based upon Dudo and William of Jumieges. There is also reason for thinking that Wace used the Gesta regum of William of Malmesbury. Where Wace follows no ascertainable source he must be used with caution. Undoubtedly he used oral tradition; but he also seems to have given free play to his imagination.

The Roman de Rou is written in rhyming octosyllables, varied by assonanced alexandrines. It has been edited by F. Pluquet (2 vols. and supplement, Rouen, 1827-1829) and more completely by H. Andresen (2 vols., Heilbronn, 1877-1879). (H.W.C.D.)

Being the entry for WACE, ROBERT in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

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