De nugis curialium

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De nugis curialium (Medieval Latin: "Trifles of courtiers") is the major surviving work of the 12th century Latin author Walter Map. He was an English courtier of Welsh descent[citation needed], probably born in Herefordshire, whose 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. ^ 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).