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Lawman and Layamon are two modernized form of Laȝamon (in older printed works often Laʒamon for typographical reasons), the name of an English poet who rendered Wace’s Roman de Brut into Middle English between 1129 and 1225. The author’s name is recorded as Laȝamon, Laweman, and Loweman in the two extant manuscripts of the poem. The inaccurate transliteration Layamon often appears. The Middle English poem is named the Brut.

Lawman’s IdentityEdit

Lawman tells at the beginning of his Brut in MS C that he is the son of one Liefnoth (Leouenað) and that he makes his living at Arely on the River Severn, near to Redstone, at a church where he reads book. But MS O names the father as Leucais and says that Lawman lives with a good knight and there reads books. Apparently Lawman was a church priest of some sort, or a household priest.

His name contains the Middle English word laȝa (the plural of laȝu) meaning ‘laws’. Three men of the thirteenth century, including the author, are recorded as having this surname.

Lawman’s PurposeEdit

Lawman tells that he wished to tell of the earliest famous men in England and went searching for books which contained this information. He found an English translation of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, Wace’s Brut, and a third book which Lawman describes as being in Latin and written by St. Augustine and Albin. No such work is known. Perhaps Lawman could not read much Latin for sense and here speaks of the original Latin version of Bede’s Historia in which Albin is said to provide Bede with information and in which Augustine is a character.

For though Lawman claims to have merged the three accounts into one, in fact, nothing of Bede’s work appears in Lawman’s Brut. The work appears to be taken almost entirely from Wace, with additional material here and there from sources unknown. Lawman either found that Bede’s account was too different to fit easily into Wace’s version, and so changed his purpose. Or the idea of merging three accounts may have been thought of when the work was almost complete, when the introduction may have been written; but it was never achieved, at least in the two manuscripts that have survived.

Lawman's Brut is written in a loose alliterative style, sporadically deploying rhyme, as well as a caesural pause between the hemistichs of a line. The vocabulary is very English. In his edition, Frederick Madden claims there are under 50 words of French origin in MS C and no more than 70 in the MS O adaptation.

ReferencesEdit

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