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Évrart de Trémaugon, Le songe du vergier

In French and Latin, manuscript on paper
[France, c. 1475-1500]

TM 284


3, incomplete (collation: 1 singleton and 1 bifolium), paper, no watermarks, no foliation, catchwords, written in an elegant and clear gothic-humanist cursive script in dark brown ink, double column text (justification 215 x 66 mm.), 50 lines per page, 1 two line initial, f. 1r blank, marginalia in Latin and French, minor worming to lower margin, ink smudge on f. 1r, ink bleeding through paper on ff. 2r-3v, slight water damage to lower left margins, minor browning to all edges, acid damage from the capital and a few other letters, otherwise in an excellent state of conservation. Dimensions 265 x 195 mm.

A hitherto unknown fragment of the political treatise Somnium vidiarii in its French translation. Written and translated in the royal circle of King Charles V, this important work provided a clear articulation of French royal political authority, or Gallicanism, over the authority of the papacy. Manuscript copies are exceedingly rare (21 known), and there are none recorded in the United States or Canada.


1. Probably written in France, last quarter of the fifteenth century. Dating based on the script, and the location based on the French text. However, the script makes it difficult to determine with precision.

2. Private Collection.


ff. 2-3v, Évrart de Trémaugon, Le songe du vergier [epilogue], incipit, “Ecce soporatus sum et exurexi. Iay pris somme et me suis esueille de moy songe. Tres souuerain et redoubte prince prenes doncques ce merueilleux songe…”; explicit, “pour tant je vous offre et presente en ce tabernacle ce que je pius dez….”

The present manuscript, Le songe du vergier, is a translation of the important political treatise entitled Somnium viridarii composed by Évrart de Trémaugon at the request of King Charles V of France between 1374 and 1375 and translated for the king in 1378 (perhaps by the author). The original Latin text, previously ascribed to such authors as Jean de Vertus, Alain Chartier, Jean de Legano, Jean Lefèvre, and Honoré Bonnet (or Bouvet), provides a political discourse defending the rights of the French king over those of the papacy. This political view, known as Gallicanism, argued that the French bishops and the French king had the power to organize and direct the Church within France without the interference of the papacy, especially in ecclesiastical appointments and the use of Church funds. Written as a dialogue between a cleric and knight, Évrart de Trémaugon’s Songe put forth a complicated and lengthy discourse supporting Gallicanism using a vast array of quotations from canon law, patristic writers, medieval scholars, and the Bible. Using courtly images, extensive legal, biblical, and Church authorities, and the rhetorical skill of dialogue and debate, Évrart de Trémaugon provided a model political treatise validating French royal power over the Church through the fifteenth and sixteenth century.

The manuscript fragment contains almost the entire epilogue of Le songe du vergier, missing only the last few lines of the text. Like the original Latin text, the translation was commissioned by Charles V. This information, which dates the translation to 1378, survives at the end of the presentation copy presented to the French king now preserved in the British Library as London BL Royal 19 C IV. Despite being a translation of the Somnium vidiarii, the French translation introduces fundamental changes to the text. The anonymous translator added, removed, and altered texts. The result of these changes produced a hardened view of royal authority, partly as a result of the Great Schism that erupted between rival claimants to the Holy See in 1378 after the death of Pope Gregory XI in Rome. Moreover, the translation of the Le songe du vergier formed part of the extensive cultural program led by the French king, which included several vernacular translations of important Latin political works to be used at the French court, including Aristotle’s Politics and Ethics, Augustine’s City of God, John of Salisbury’s Policraticus, Valerius’s Memorabilia, and Giles of Rome’s De regimine principium.

There are eighteen extant complete medieval manuscripts of the Le songe du vergier and three fragments. Fourteen of the complete manuscripts are located in France, two in England, and one in Poland, Italy and the Netherlands respectively. The three fragments are found in England, Germany, and Italy. Of importance, in this regard, is the use of only three of these manuscripts (Paris BnF, MS fr. 537; London BL Royal MS 19 C IV; and Paris, Bibl. de Mazarine, MS 5322) for the critical edition. Le songe du vergier was also printed twice during the fifteenth century. The first printed edition was completed by Jacques Maillet on 20 March 1491/92 in Lyon, while the second was printed in Paris by Le Petit Laurens for Jean Petit at Paris and for Jean Alexandre, Jean Alisot and Charles Debougne at Angers in and around April 1499. One nineteenth-century manuscript extract copied from the 1491 printed edition survives. Eleven other medieval manuscripts are known to have existed, but are now lost. The present fragment does not appear to match any of the extant fragments or manuscripts. Manuscripts of the text in either its Latin or French versions appear to be rare on the market; the Schoenberg Database records only one copy each of the Latin and French versions changing hands in the last two centuries. There are no known copies located in the United States or Canada.


Autrand, Françoise. Charles V: le Sage, Paris, Fayard, 1994.

Burns, J. H. Lordship, Kingship, and Empire: The Idea of Monarchy, 1400-1525, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1992.

Calmette, Joseph. Charles V, Paris, J. Tallandier, 1979.

Coville, Alfred. Évrart de Trémaugon et le “Songe du verger”, Paris, E. Droz, 1933.

Erickson, Norma. “A Dispute between a Priest and a Knight,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 111/5 (1967), pp. 288-309.

“Le songe du vergier”: édité d’après le manuscrit royal 19 C IV de la British Library, 2 vols., edited by Marion Schnerb-Lièvre, Paris, Éditions du Centre national de la recherche scientifique, 1982.

Marchello-Nizia, Christiane. “Entre l’histoire et la poétique: le songe politique,” Revue des sciences humaines 183/3 (1981), pp. 39-53.

Pécout, Thierry. Charles V et les premiers Valois, Paris, Tallandier, 2001

Pike, R. E. “St Thomas Aquinas and the Songe du vergier,” Speculum 14/4 (1939), p. 492.

Quillet, Jeannine. Charles V, le roi lettré: essai sur la pensée politique d’un règne, Paris, Librairie Académique Perrin, 1984.

Quillet, Jeannine, La philosophie politique du “Songe du Vergier”, 1378: sources doctrinales, Paris, J. Vrin, 1977.

Royer, Jean-Pierre. L’Église et la royaume de France au XIVe siècle d’après le “Songe du Vergier” et la jurisprudence du Parlement, Paris, Librairie générale de droit et de jurisprudence, 1969.

Schnerb-Lièvre, Marion. “L’auteur du Somnium Viridarii en est-il le traducteur?,” Revue du Moyen Âge Latin 42 (1986), pp. 37-40.

Schnerb-Lièvre, Marion. “Évrart de Trémaugon et le Songe du Vergier,” Romania 104 (1983), pp. 527-530.

Somnium viridarii, 2 vols., edited by Marion Schnerb-Lièvre, Paris, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1993-1995.

Trémaugon, Evrart de. Trois leçons sur les décrétales, edited and translated by Marion Schnerb-Lièvre and Gérard Giordanengo, Paris, CNRS éditions, 1998.

Online resources

Manuscript presentation copy for Charles V: London BL Royal 19 C IV

Illuminated manuscript copy located at Paris BnF, MS fr. 537. XVe s. (1452)

Bibliography located at Arlima: Archives de littérature du Moyen Âge

Gallicanism article by the Catholic Encyclopedia