The Trial of Womankind

A Rhyming Translation of Book IV of the Fifteenth-Century Le Champion des Dames


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About the Book

Medieval literature makes it plain that the Battle of the Sexes has been alive and raging since at least the Middle Ages. As depicted by Martin Le Franc in Le Champion des Dames, this battle takes on literally epic proportions. Translated from the original Middle French by Steven Millen Taylor, the fourth book of Le Franc’s poem comes to life for the modern English reader as The Trial of Womankind.
This allegorical poem from the mid-fifteenth century offers a dynamic dialogue between both sides of the Querelle des Femmes, the “debate over women.” In rhyming octaves, Le Franc constructs an allegorical courtroom where two attorneys named Free Will and Slow Wit argue, respectively, the cases for and against women. Calling upon classical and contemporary examples from the Nine Muses and the Queen of Sheba to the Popess Joan and Joan of Arc, the attorneys tell a lively story while making plain the political, religious, and social issues of the time. With subtle humor, keen insight, and compelling erudition, Le Franc invites his readers to participate in this exchange over questions still relevant today.
This translation faithfully renders the literal meaning of the Middle French text while maintaining the original ababbcbc rhyme scheme and stanzaic structure essential to the voice of the work. With historical introduction and notes.

About the Author(s)

Steven Millen Taylor is emeritus professor of French and was the Coordinator of Medieval Studies at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for 26 years. He taught medieval French language and Literature for 33 years.

Bibliographic Details

Martin Le Franc
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2240-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

The Trial of Womankind      15

Notes      181
Bibliography      215
Index      217

Book Reviews & Awards

“most welcome”—Mediaevistik.