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When a reader encounters the Latin romances Historia Meriadoci and De ortu Waluuanii in BL MS Cotton Faustina B VI, the romances are only the first two in a set of three texts copied by the same scribe on the same occasion. The third text, following directly on De ortu Waluuanii, is an abstract of books 1–6 of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s De gestis Britonum. While valuable in its own right as a witness to the DGB’s use and manuscript circulation, the abstract is presented and investigated here for what it may tell us about the Latin romances’ own transmission and reception, which have long been shrouded in mystery. As I argue, the abstract’s juxtaposition with the romances is no accident, and figures importantly in the romances’ presentation. Much as the opening stanzas of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight set the stage for King Arthur, in fact, the Latin synopsis begins with the fall of Troy and Brutus’ foundation of Britain before (much more expansively than the Gawain-poet) recounting the war and wrack of early British history, concluding with Merlin’s revelation to Vortigern of the warring dragons. In this and other ways this Galfridian abstract causes the Latin romances to quicken with correspondences to Geoffrey’s work; this effect may even suggest for the romances a date of composition not distant from that of the DGB itself. By exploring the interpretive possibilities of this widened manuscript context, the present paper seeks to initiate a re-examination of these mysterious Latin romances in relation to their Galfridian companion-text. This article concludes with an edition of the abstract itself, which until now has not been edited or translated.
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