De nugis curialium

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De nugis curialium (Medieval Latin for "Of the trifles of courtiers" or loosely "Trinkets for the Court") is the major surviving work of the 12th century Latin author Walter Map. He was an English courtier of Welsh descent [1]. Map claimed that he was a man of the Welsh Marches (marchio sum Walensibus);[2]. He was probably born in Herefordshire, but his studies and employment took him to Canterbury, Paris, Rome and to several royal and noble courts of Western Europe. The book takes the form of a series of anecdotes of people and places, offering many sidelights on the history of his own time. Some are from personal knowledge, and apparently reliable; others represent popular rumours about history and current events, and are often far from the truth.

Outline of contents[edit]

Distinctio prima[edit]

Distinctio secunda[edit]

Distinctio tertia[edit]

  • Prologue; a brief justification of fiction and its pleasures
  • The friendship of Sadius and Galo
  • The quarrels of Parius and Lausus
  • The story of Raso the vavasour and his wife
  • The story of Rollo and his wife

Distinctio quarta[edit]

  • Autobiographical prologue and "epilogue"
  • Copy of the letter (sometimes found among the works of Saint Jerome) in which Valerius advises Rufinus against marriage
  • Story of the boy Eudo deceived by the Devil
  • Story of a Cluniac monk (already told in Distinctio prima)
  • Story of a knight of "Lesser Britain" (i.e., Brittany) who rescued his dead wife from the fairies (already told in Distinctio secunda)
  • Story of Henno-with-the-Teeth (probably the Norman nobleman Hamon Dentatus) and his Melusine-like wife
  • Story of Wild Edric and his fairy bride; with a description of their interview with King William I (already told in Distinctio secunda but here the tale includes details not found in the earlier account)
  • Story of Gerbert of Aurillac (Pope Sylvester II) deceived by the Devil
  • Story of the cobbler of Constantinople
  • Story of the merman Nicholas Pipe; anecdotes about phantom herds of animals; story of King Herla (already told in Distinctio prima); a brief satire on the court of King Henry II
  • Story of Salius
  • Story of Alan, so-called King of Brittany (apparently Alan Fergant)
  • Story of the merchants Sceva and Ollo

Distinctio quinta[edit]


  1. ^ C. N. L. Brooke, "Map, Walter (d. 1209/10)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 Paysite
  2. ^ Literally "I am a borderer to the Welsh": Walter Map, De Nugis Curialium distinctio 2 chapter 23
  3. ^ Ruickbie, 2004, p. 68


  • Antonia Gransden, Historical writing in England, c. 550 to c. 1307 (London: Routledge, 1974) pp. 242–244.
  • Leo Ruickbie, Witchcraft Out of the Shadows: A Complete History. Robert Hale, 2004.
  • Levine, Robert. "How to read Walter Map." Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch 23 (1988): 91-105. Made available online by prof. Levine.

Editions and translations[edit]

  • Gualteri Mapes De nugis curialium distinctiones quinque ed. Thomas Wright. London: Camden Society, 1850 (Latin text). Available here (Internet Archive) and Google Books scans here and here.
  • Walter Map, De nugis curialium ed. M. R. James. Oxford, 1914. Anecdota Oxoniensia, Medieval and modern series, 6 (Latin text). PDF available online.
  • Walter Map's De nugis curialium tr. M. R. James. 1923. Cymmrodorion Record Series no. 9 (translation).
  • Walter Map. De nugis curialium. Ed. and tr. M. R. James, C. N. L. Brooke, and R. A. B. Mynors. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983. (Latin text and facing-page English translation).