In spite of the incontestable popularity enjoyed by this class of literature, we have only some half-dozen fableaux written in England, viz. Le chevalier à la corbeille, Le chevalier qui faisait parler les muets, Le chevalier, sa dame et un clerc, Les trois dames, La gageure, Le prêtre d'Alison, La bourgeoise d'Orléans (Bédier, Les Fabliaux, 1895). As to fables, one of the most popular collections in the middle ages was that written by Marie de France, which she claimed to have translated from King Alfred. In the Contes moralisés, written by Nicole Bozon shortly before 1320 (Soc. Anc. Textes, 1889), a few fables bear a strong resemblance to those of Marie de France.
The religious tales deal mostly with the Mary Legends, and have been handed down to us in three collections:
(i.) The Adgar's collection. Most of these were translated from William of Malmesbury († 1143?) by Adgar in the 12th century ("Adgar's Marien-Legenden," Altfr. Biblioth. ix.; J. A. Herbert, Rom. xxxii. 394).
(ii.) The collection of Everard of Gateley, a monk of St. Edmund at Bury, who wrote c. 1250 three Mary Legends (Rom. xxix. 27).
(iii.) An anonymous collection of sixty Mary Legends composed c. 1250 (Brit. Museum Old Roy. 20 B, xiv.), some of which have been published in Suchier's Bibliotheca Normannica; in the Altf. Bibl. See also Mussafia, "Studien zu den mittelalterlichen Marien-legenden" in Sitzungsh. der Wien. Akademie (t. cxiii., cxv., cxix., cxxiii., cxxix.).
Another set of religious and moralizing tales is to be found in Chardri's Set dormans and Josaphat, c. 1216 (Koch, Altfr. Bibl., 1880; G. Paris, Poèmes et légendes du moyen âge).
Of far greater importance, however, are the works which constitute Anglo-Norman historiography. The first Anglo-Norman historiographer is Geoffrey Gaimar, who wrote his Estorie des Angles (between 1147 and 1151) for Dame Constance, wife of Robert Fitz-Gislebert (The Anglo-Norman Metrical Chronicle, Hardy and Martin, i. ii., London, 1888). This history comprised a first part (now lost), which was merely a translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britanniae, preceded by a history of the Trojan War, and a second part which carries us as far as the death of William Rufus. For this second part he has consulted historical documents, but he stops at the year 1087, just when he has reached the period about which he might have been able to give us some first-hand information. Similarly, Wace in his Roman de Rou et des dues de Normandie (ed. Andresen, Heilbronn, 1877-1879, 2 vols.), written 1160-1174, stops at the battle of Tinchebray in 1107 just before the period for which he would have been so useful.
His Brut or Geste des Bretons (Le Roux de Lincy, 1836-1838, 2 vols.), written in 1155, is merely a translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth. "Wace," says Gaston Paris, speaking of the Roman de Rou, "traduit en les abrégeant des historiens latins que nous possédons; mais çà et là il ajoute soit des contes populaires, par exemple sur Richard 1'er, sur Robert 1'er, soit des particularités qu'il savait par tradition (sur ce même Robert le magnifique, sur l'expédition de Guillaume, etc.) et qui donnent à son oeuvre un réel intérêt historique. Sa langue est excellente; son style clair, serré, simple, d'ordinaire assez monotone, vous plaît par sa saveur archaïque et quelquefois par une certaine grâce et une certaine malice."
The History of the Dukes of Normandy by Benoît de Sainte-More is based on the work of Wace. It was composed at the request of Henry II. about 1170, and takes us as far as the year 1135 (ed. by Francisque Michel, 1836-1844, Collection de documents inédits, 3 vols.). The 43,000 lines which it contains are of but little interest to the historian; they are too evidently the work of a romancier courtois, who takes pleasure in recounting love-adventures such as those he has described in his romance of Troy. Other works, however, give us more trustworthy information, for example, the anonymous poem on Henry II.'s Conquest of Ireland in 1172 (ed. Francisque Michel, London, 1837), which, together with the Expugnatio hibernica of Giraud de Barri, constitutes our chief authority on this subject. The Conquest of Ireland was republished in 1892 by Goddard Henry Orpen, under the title of The Song of Dermot and the Earl (Oxford, Clarendon Press). Similarly, Jourdain Fantosme, who was in the north of England in 1174, wrote an account of the wars between Henry II., his sons, William the Lion of Scotland and Louis VII., in 1173 and 1174 (Chronicle of the reigns of Stephen ... III., ed. by Joseph Stevenson and Fr. Michel, London, 1886, pp. 202-307). Not one of these histories, however, is to be compared in value with The History of William the Marshal, Count of Striguil and Pembroke, regent of England from 1216-1219, which was found and subsequently edited by Paul Meyer (Société de l'histoire de France, 3 vols., 1891-1901). This masterpiece of historiography was composed in 1225 or 1226 by a professional poet of talent at the request of William, son of the marshal.
It was compiled from the notes of the marshal's squire, John d'Early († 1230 or 1231), who shared all the vicissitudes of his master's life and was one of the executors of his will. This work is of great value for the history of the period 1186-1219, as the information furnished by John d'Early is either personal or obtained at first hand. In the part which deals with the period before 1186, it is true, there are various mistakes, due to the author's ignorance of contemporary history, but these slight blemishes are amply atoned for by the literary value of the work. The style is concise, the anecdotes are well told, the descriptions short and picturesque; the whole constitutes one of the most living pictures of medieval society. Very pale by the side of this work appear the Chronique of Peter of Langtoft, written between 1311 and 1320, and mainly of interest for the period 1294-1307 (ed. by T. Wright, London, 1866-1868); the Chronique of Nicholas Trevet (1258?-1328?), dedicated to Princess Mary, daughter of Edward I. (Duffus Hardy, Descr. Catal. III., 349-350); the Scala Chronica compiled by Thomas Gray of Heaton († c. 1369), which carries us to the year 1362-1363 (ed. by J. Stevenson, Maitland Club, Edinburgh, 1836); the Black Prince, a poem by the poet Chandos, composed about 1386, and relating the life of the Black Prince from 1346-1376 (re-edited by Francisque Michel, London and Paris, 1883); and, lastly, the different versions of the Brutes, the form and historical importance of which have been indicated by Paul Meyer (Bulletin de la Société des Anciens Textes, 1878, pp. 104-145), and by F. W. D. Brie (Geschichte und Quellen der mittelenglischen Prosachronik, The Brute of England or The Chronicles of England, Marburg, 1905).
Finally we may mention, as ancient history, the translation of Eutropius and Dares, by Geoffrey of Waterford (13th century), who gave also the Secret des Secrets, a translation from a work wrongly attributed to Aristotle, which belongs to the next division (Rom. xxiii. 314).