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Walter Map


Satirical writer; b. c. 1140; d. April 1, 1209 or 1210. Although a resident of Herefordshire, England, Map spoke of the Welsh as his fellow countrymen. He studied at Paris, where Girard la Pucelle was one of his teachers. Map's parents had been of service to henry ii of England, and he himself frequented the King's court until Henry's death, being familiar also with Henry the Young King, Louis VII of France, and Henry of Champagne. Henry II often employed him as justice in eyre and sent him as envoy to Pope Alexander III, who assigned him to argue against the representatives of the waldenses at the Third lateran council (1179). Map was chancellor of Lincoln by 1186; canon of Saint Paul's Cathedral, London, 1192; archdeacon of Oxford from 1197; and canon of Hereford and unsuccessful candidate for bishop of Hereford, 1199.

His only surviving work, De nugis curialium (ed. T. Wright, Camden Society, 1850; Eng. tr. M. R. James with historical notes by J. E. Lloyd, ed. E. S. Hartland, Cymmrodorion Record Series, 1923), is a miscellaneous collection of legends, gossip, anecdotes, reminiscences, and historical information. Directing sharp satire at King and court, at secular and regular clergy, and at the Welsh people, it exhibits Map's ability as a storyteller and his learning in theology and literature. It is an important source for the early history of the cistercians, the carthusians, the Order of grandmont, the gilbertines, the templars, the hospitallers, the Waldenses, and the English court both before and during Map's lifetime. His supposed authorship of Arthurian legend and Goliardic verse has not been substantiated. Most information about Walter Map comes from himself, but some can be found in Gitaldus Cambrensis, Opera, v.1 35 (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores; London 186191).

Bibliography: c. l. kingsford, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 18851900) 12:994997. r. e. bennett, "Walter Map's Sadius and Galo, " Speculum 16 (1941) 3456. f. seibt, "Über den Plan der Schrift De nugis curalium des Magisters Walter Map," Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 37 (1955) 183203. a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A. D. 1500 (Oxford 195759) 2:1219.

[r. w. hays]

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