WACE(C. 1100–1175). A Norman verse chronicler and author of vernacular works, Wace served under Kings *Henry I, *II, and *III of England and was appointed canon of Bayeaux by Henry II between 1155 and 1160. His most famous work, the Roman de Brut, is a nearly 15,000-line verse history of the English kings.
Wace, born around 1100 on the Isle of Jersey, was the grandson of the chamberlain of Duke Robert the Magnificent. He grew up in Caen, was schooled in Paris, and then returned to Caen. He described his position in Caen both as a clerc lisant and maistre. Though his official position in Caen is not clear, he probably ran either a psalter school or a grammar school. While in Caen, he wrote numerous works in Norman French, such as political poems, pious works, chronicles, and translations of saints’ lives.
The Roman de Brut, finished in 1155 and dedicated to *Eleanor of Aquitaine, is a history of the English kings based upon *Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regumBritanniae. While the Roman de Brut is modeled on Geoffrey’s work in content and structure, Wace makes the material his own. In particular, Wace is famous for adding the Round Table to the story. Though still a chronicle, the style of the Roman de Brut is much closer to that of later romances and inspired later Arthurian writers such as *Chrétien de Troyes and Layamon. Due to the success of the Roman de Brut, Henry II asked Wace to create a work that would justify Norman rule over England. This work, the Roman de Rou, was unfinished when Wace died in 1175.
Bibliography: U. T. Holmes, Jr., “Norman Literature and Wace,” in Medieval Secular Literature, ed. W. Matthews, 1967.
John Paul Walter
WALAHFRID STRABO.See STRABO, WALAHFRID.