Historical Scottish Clothing Project
Gesta Dei per Francos

by Sharon L. Krossa

Last updated 15 Jun 2004  

Guibert of Nogent was a Benedictine monk from Picardy, the abbot of the monastery of Saint Mary at Nogent, who sometime between about 1104 and 1112 wrote Gesta Dei per Francos ("The Deeds of God Through the Franks"), a history of the First Crusade which had taken place from 1095 to 1099. Guibert was not himself an eyewitness to the crusade, but based his account mainly on the earlier writings of those who were. Included in his history is a brief passage describing the "Scots" who joined the crusade. Note, however, that in the 12th century it was still common, especially for Continental writers, to use the Latin <Scoti> "Scots" (and <Scotorum> "of the Scots") to refer to the Irish, so Guibert may be describing soldiers from what is now Scotland or he may be describing soldiers from Ireland.


Unfortunately, at the moment I don't have the details of the original.

Dunbar: History of Highland Dress

Dunbar, John Telfer. History of Highland Dress. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1962. Order hardcover from Amazon.com (used)

Original Latin:

"Videres Scotorum apud se ferocium, alias imbellium, cuneos crure intecto, hispida chlamyde, ex humeris dependente sytarchia, de finibus uliginosis allabi, et quibus ridicula, quantum ad nos, forent arma copiosa, suae fidei ac devotionis nobis auxilia praesentare." (p. 24)

English Translation:

"You might see [the soldiers] of the Scots, fierce in their own country, unwarlike elsewhere, bare-legged, with their shaggy cloaks, a scrip hanging ex humeris, coming from their marshy homeland, and presenting the help of their faith and devotion to us, to whom their numerous arms would be ridiculous." (p. 24)

Dunbar comments on the word <sytarchia>: "a medieval word for a pilgrim's scrip, from the Greek for a receptacle for a soldier's travelling provisions" (p. 24) Note that <ex humeris>, which Dunbar avoids translating, in Latin normally means "from the shoulders/upper part of the arms" (Smith & Lockwood Latin-English Dictionary, s.v. umerus).

Guibert of Nogent: The Deeds of God Through the Franks (trans. Levine)

Guibert of Nogent. The Deeds of God Through the Franks. Translated by Robert Levine. WWW: Project Gutenberg, 10th ed. Aug 2003. Available from http://www.gutenberg.net/etext/4370.

Robert Levine's modern English translation was copyrighted in 1997. It appears to be more reliable than Dunbar's translation in many aspects. Note in particular that <ex humeris>, which Dunbar avoids translating, in Latin normally does mean "from the shoulders/upper part of the arms" (Smith & Lockwood Latin-English Dictionary, s.v. umerus). At least one exception, however, is probably Dunbar's translation of <sytarchia> as "scrip"; "scrip, wallet" appears to be a more typical meaning for the word in the medieval era than "provisions" (Latham, Revised Medieval Latin Word-List, s.v. sitarchia).

English Translation:

"Although the call from the apostolic see was directed only to the French nation, as though it were special, what nation under Christian law did not send forth throngs to that place? In the belief that they owed the same allegiance to God as did the French, they strove strenuously, to the full extent of their powers, to share the danger with the Franks. There you would have seen the military formations of Scots, savage in their own country, but elsewhere unwarlike, their knees bare, with their shaggy cloaks, provisions hanging from their shoulders, having slipped out of their boggy borders, offering as aid and testimony to their faith and loyalty, their arms, numerically ridiculous in comparison with ours." (Book One, paragraph 8)

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