THE English legend of the 3 Kings must have been very popular: many MSS. are still extant, many more are lost, as those interlinking the several versions. The existing MSS. can be divided into 3 groups: 1. MS. Royal, 18 A X, fol. 87, and Cott. Vespas., E. XVI, a literal copy of the former, though written by a northmidland scribe. 2. MS. Cambr. Univ. Libr., Ee IV, 2; Cott. Titus A XXV, and Douce 301; MS. at Bedford (written in 1442); Patrik Papers 43; Cambr. Kk 1, 3; Ashm. 59. 3. MS. Harl. 1704. Of these, MS. Vesp. is incomplete at the end (it ends, fol. 69, with "mete to," = Royal, p. 153, 24); Douce wants the first and the last, and several other leaves; Harl. 3 leaves, in Chapters 26, 32, and at the end; in MS. Cambr. Ee the first page is unreadable from blackness. Nearly all these MSS. belong to the 15th century. Besides, there exist several old prints, by W. de Worde: London, 1499? (date om.), 1511 (title: The thre Kynges of Coleyne, Imprynted MCCCCCXI), 1526 (Imprynted at London in Fletestrete at the sygne of the sonne by Wynkyn de Worde, The yere of our lorde god MCCCCCI and XXVI), 1530 (Colophon: This was brought unto me in englysshe of an olde translacyon rugh and rude, and requyred to amend it, I thought lesse labour to wryte newe the whole. I beseche you take all unto the best and praye for the olde wretched brother of Syon Rycharde Whytforde), and an edition without date (Emprynted at Westmester by Wynkyn de Worde).*. [The Brit. Mus. has only the ed. of 1499, an imperfect copy of which is in the Bodl. It is based on the text of MS. Cambr., showing the same omissions, but it alters freely. A copy of the 2nd ed. is extant in Cambr., Public libr.]
None of the existing MSS. contains the original text: they are all transcripts, and more or less corrupted. The 2nd group Page vi comprehends the generally-received text, and that which, in contents and arrangement, is most in accordance with the Latin source; but the existing MSS. are frequently bad, and differ much. On the other side, MS. Royal (1st group), carefully written and executed, with Latin marginal notes, is of older date (beginning of the 15th century); its readings are generally the best, its language and dialect very nearly original. But its arrangement in some parts (p. 69-78; 145, 24-152), contrary to the Latin source, and without apparent reason, is such as can hardly be deemed original. The initials of most chapters differ from those in the other MSS., and on closer examination it appears that they have been altered on purpose, and that forced turns and circumscriptions are employed for the sake of obtaining certain initials. There must be some reason for that: indeed, if the initials of the 32 first chapters are put together, we get MARGARETA MONINGTOWN, MAWDE STRANLEA, (then follow AA; the rest are the same as in the other MSS.). In the same way Osbern Bokenham has deposited his name in his "Mappula Angliæ" (which I have lately edited from MS. Harl. 4011, in "Engl. Studien," 1886). But in the case of MS. Royal I cannot be brought to believe those 2 female names, Margaret Moningtown and Mawde Stranlea, to be those of the first authors, as their names are obviously forced upon an earlier text; they must be either the compilers of this single version, or the dedicatees. The text of MS. Royal has many additions, partly from the Latin source (p. 41; 59; 77; 79; 113; 117), partly from a note*. [The same note is already extant in MS. Berol. Fol. 47 (a copy of the Brandenburg MS.. wr. 1413).] added at the end of the Latin text in MSS. Corp. Chr. Coll. Cbr. 275, and Cleop. D VII (p. 37; 47), partly from other sources (p. 27; 29; 31); whereas in other cases it leaves out or abridges (f. i. p. 23-5; 39-41, and often), as sometimes, also, when the sense was doubtful (as p. 3). For these reasons I cannot believe MS. Royal to contain the primitive text; it is rather to be regarded as a separate version, made after a first text.
Of the MSS. of the 2nd group, MS. Cambr. Ee*. [The same MS. contains a Chronicle of England, from the earliest times, written by the same hand, after the 3 Kings.] is the best and Page vii nearest in language to MS. Royal; yet it is not without mistakes, and skips some lines. MS. Bedford descends, though not immediately, from MS. Cbr., as it shows the same omissions and mistakes, which, however, with many more of an intermediate MS., it supplies and corrects on its own account, and rather foolishly, so making the text worse. These, and many other voluntary "corrections," render this text almost useless. MS. Tit. and MS. Douce form a subdivision of this group: they have not the omissions of MS. Cbr., and are, therefore, derived from an older MS.; but they are later and more corrupt. Both have a large gap within the text, p. 140, 34-148, owing, no doubt, to the loss of several leaves in an earlier MS., where the gap seems to have extended still farther, from p. 140, 31-150, 2, as the passage on p. 148, and p. 140, 31-34, are supplied in both MSS. by a new and verbal translation of the Latin text made, it seems, to fill up this part of the gap. Both MSS., closely related, are, however, independent of each other, and are copied from a third MS. of the same kind; sometimes MS. Tit., sometimes MS. Douce has the preference. MS. Patrik Papers is late, but derived from a good MS. of the 2nd group. MS. Kk is late, and very bad; it alters and adds freely, and is, therefore, of little use; so is MS. Ashm. MS. Harl. (3rd group), late, and frequently corrupt, joins the 2nd group, but shows traces of an older text, and has, besides, not a few additions from the Latin source, some of which are found in MS. Royal, some in no other MS., so that it stands apart from the rest. When these additions were made, it will be difficult to decide, but most likely they are taken from the oldest text. I have given these additions beside the Cbr. text.
Perhaps some more MSS. will yet turn up, which will throw greater light on the history of the text. As it is, the text is far from being correct and clear, even in the best MSS. The first text, which seems to have been more complete, has been lost. This first text, difficult, and frequently obscure, on account of the difficulties of the Latin text, and the bad state of the MS. (Corp. Chr. Coll. Cbr., 275) from which it was translated, was, it seems, unsatisfactory, and became soon corrupted; and the more so, as the legend became popular, and was frequently copied. The existing MSS. are so many Page viiistages in this growing corruption. MS. Royal is quite another version, made soon after, and from, the first text, with additions (in the homiletic part), and omissions (in the descriptive part),*. [This is explained by the fact that this version was made by, or made for, holy Sisters; for such are, of course, the females expressed in the initials.] so that it could be given out as a new version; but the bulk of the text, where it coincides with the other MSS., is still in a better state, though sometimes difficulties are disposed of by simply skipping them (as on p. 3). MS. Harl., it seems, has saved some of the additions of the first text. The other MSS. contain the substance of the first text in a state of decomposition, with many omissions of lines and passages, or even (as in Tit. and Douce) with wholesale gaps, and with difficulties which have become inextricable (as in Chapt. 1). Sometimes recurrence was made to the Latin source, to fill up gaps (as in Tit. and Douce), but rarely or never, to amend the text. The same source had been consulted in MS. Royal, to add new matter; but that the plus of the 2nd group (and of Harl.) should be due to a later revision with the Latin original, instead of emanating from the first text, is quite improbable.
As the oldest MSS. go down to the beginning of the 15th century, the first translation can be dated about (rather before than after) 1400. With this date harmonizes the style, which is still heavy and embarrassed.*. [So in the repetition of the noun with the relative, of the pers. pron. after the subject, of þan after whan, &c.;, in the repetition of the same subst. after an intermission, as p. 31, 14, and þat tyme þat we clepe cristemasse, þei clepe .. þat same tyme þe tyme of herbes, 33, 31, þan þis sterre þat was prophecyed ... þe same nyȝt and þe same howre þat god was bore þe same sterre bygan arise, 86, 2; 127, 2; especially in relative sentences when the rel. in the genit. depends on a substantive in an oblique case: 47, 27, a sercle þe which in þe hiȝest partie of þis sercle (in cuius summitate), 63, 22, þei dispised Crist whan he was bore, whom long tyme tofore þei wyst & prophecyed of hys birþe, or after a praeposition: 39, 20, þat sterre þat was so long tyme prophecyed afore and þat aƚƚ þe pepil had so longe abyde and loke after þis sterre, 127, 15; 51, 32, þat kyndely resoun scheweþ hit to a man (cui humana ratio praebet experimentum), 65, 3, þe scheperdes to þe which þe angel apperyd and schewed to hem þe berþe of Crist; in the frequent repetition of the same words (55, 22, of þis towne .. in þat town .. in þat same litil town); in the repetition of the same thesis, as 21, 11; 97, 23; 115, 34.] The dialect of MS. Royal, and, though less pure, of MS. Cbr. Ee, is South-midland;*. [The dialect shows rare endings in en in the plur. pres. and pret., whereas the past part. is without ending (as do, knowe); 3 sgl. ends in eþ. It prefers i in the ending is in the plur. of substantives, ir (aftir, wondir), id, iþ (but rarely in). Hous, plaas. trespas, are plurals. The pronouns are she--her, þei-- hem, poss. her. The indef. art. is a, even before vowels. The pret. of to see is saiȝ, pl. siȝe; the plur. of shal is shul, of have sometimes han. þat, demonst., is used as plur. Adverbs end in lich (gretlich). It writes any, man, whan, hande, vndirstonde, first, liche, ferþer, moche (Cbr. mochel), naȝt or nat, &c.; It uses clepe (not calle), ȝede, betwix. The language is that of the close of the 14th century. The dialectic differences of the other MSS. are given in the Various readings.] and this, most likely, Page ix was also the dialect of the first text. In the later MSS. the scribes have mixed the forms of their respective dialects: MS. Vesp. shows North-midland forms; Tit. and Douce are written by midland scribes, MS. Bedford in an East-midland district. The author of the English version is unknown. MS. Ashm. gives out (in the title) that it was "translated oute of latyne in to Englisshe by þe grettest doctours of our nacioun, licenced by þe chirche." This is merely a supposition of the scribe, taken, it seems, from the English translation of Leg. aurea, where the same title is used. As to the version of MS. Royal, it may have been arranged by Marg. Moningtown and Maude Stranlea; at least there are more instances of female authors in that time, as f. i. the well-known Juliana Barnes (or Berners), who, being abbess at Sopewell, near St. Albans, wrote "the bokys of Hawkyng and Huntyng and also of Cootarmures" (ed. St. Albans, 1486).
The English legend is an abridged translation of the Latin "Historia SS. trium Regum,"*. [It has different titles in the MSS. and prints: Historia trium Regum, Liber trium Regum, Liber de gestis et translacionibus t. R., De gestis et transl. t. R., De ortu et gestis et transl. t. R., Legenda SS. t. R., Legenda de tribus Magis sive Regibus gloriosis, Tractatus de gestis et transl. t. R., Gesta t. R., Tractatus collectus ex gestis et transl. t. R., Laudes et gesta t. R. et ritus et sectae multorum regnorum, Liber de origine vita gestis et transl. SS. t. R.; sometimes the name of the author is added, as in Monac. 14186Johannis Hildesiensis carmelitae historia t. R.; in the prints the title is: Liber de gestis ac trina beatissimorum trium Regum translacione qui gencium primicie et exemplar salutis omnium fuerunt Christianorum (Ed. Mainz, 1477, 1478: Colon. 1481), or Historia de translacione beatissimorum trium Regum(Ed. Mainz, 1486), or Legenda SS. trium Regum (Mutinae, 1490), or Historia gloriosissimorum t. R. integra triplicemque eorundem translacionem. veluti in choro maioris eccl. Colon. est habita, complectens (Ed. Quentell, 1514).] by John of Hildesheim. This book, extremely popular in its day, so that it was translated into several languages, has been forgotten since.*. [No doubt, because its fabulous ingredients, not based on sufficient authority, gave offence in a more discriminating time (cf. Papebroek, Acta SS. Boll. May I., p. vii), and still more to the Protestants.] Herm. Crombach, in his Page x famous work "Primitae gentium sive historia et encomium SS. trium Magorum evangelicorum," Colon. 1654, fol., scorns to mention it. The first who discovered a MS. of it, and the name of the author, in 1818, was Göthe,*. [He wrote on it to Sulpiz Boisserée, from Jena, 22 Oct., 1818 (cf. Sulpiz Boiss. II., p. 254), and in "Kunst und Alterthum," see his Works, Stutg. & Tub., 1833, Vol. 45, p. 190-203, and 204-206. He says of it: "In's Deutsche übersetzt schlösse sich das büchlein unmittelbar an die Volksbücher: denn es ist für die menge erfunden und geschrieben, die sich, ohne den kritischen zahn zu wetzen, an allem erfreut was der einbildungskraft anmutig geboten wird. und so sind die einzelheiten durchaus allerliebst und mit heiterem pinsel ausgemalt."] who speaks of it in high praise. His MS. was translated into German by Gust. Schwab ("Die Legende von den h. drei Königen, von Johann v. Hildesheim, aus einer von Göthe mitgeteilten lat. Hs. und einer deutschen der Heidelb. Bibl. bearbeitet, und mit 12 Romanzen begleitet," Stutg. & Tubing. 1822), whose book is nearly forgotten now, though the "Romances" are not without merit. K. Simrock found a German translation of 1389, dedicated to "Frau Elsbeth von Katzenellenbogen, Herrin von Erlbach," in a MS. at Basle (Univ. Libr. 58). A free German translation, extant in 2 old prints, without date and place (but most likely printed in Strassburg by Preyss, about 1480),*. [Cf. Floss, "Dreikönigenbuch," p. 77.] was much in favour as a "Volksbuch"; it was renewed in a modernized shape by K. Simrock ("Die Legende von den Königen, Volksbuch, Frankf. a M." Brömer, 1847).*. [Since then a great many more German versions have been found in the libraries. Fr. Xaver Wöber published a prose version from a MS. in the libr. of the Greek-Cath. Chapter at Przemysl ("Hystoria von de heilig drein Kuning," Wien, Mechitharisten Buchdruckerei, 1857). A MS. at Heidelberg (Cod. Palat. 118; 14th cent.) is mentioned by Wilken ("Geschichte der bildung &c.; der Heidelb, Büchersammlung," Hdbg., 1817). There are MSS. of a German translation at Munich: Cod. Germ., 5134, fol. 90-160 ("von lat. zu tutsche bracht, 1405"); 535, fol. 420-462 ("Historia von den h. drei königen," 15th cent.); 4886 (15th cent.); at Vienna Pal. 3026; 2856. A short extract, with some additions, is the text ed. by I. V. Zingerle, "Von den h. drey künigen," Innspr. 1855 (15th cent.). A poem, extant in a print, "Gedruckt tzo Coellen vp dem Eygelsteyn by myr Henrich van Nuyss, In dem jaere vns heren MCCCCCIX" (a copy of which is in Gotha), was published by P. Norrenberg, "Kölnisches Literaturleben im 1. Viertel des XVI. Jhdts"(Viersen, 1873); it is a late poem, one of the class that were called in Cologne "Passie," drawn from John of Hildesheim.--A Dutch translation, "Van drie coningen," was printed at Delf, in hollant, 1479 (71 leaves, 40); a Flemish at Antwerp, by W. Wostermann, ab. 1530; a French translation, "Vie der trois roys," at Paris, by Jeh. Treperel, 1498, at Metz, par J. Palier, 1543. A Danish "Kronike om de hellige tre Konger," abridged from John of Hild., was ed. Kopenhague (1872).] H. I. Floss ("Dreikönigenbuch," Köln, Page xi 1864, p. 76) mentions several MSS. of the Latin text in Treves, Munich, Brusselles, "and in several other MS.-libraries," and six old editions: 3 printed in Mainz by Johan Guldenschaff, 1477, 1478, and 1486; one in Cologne by Bartholomaeus de Unckel, 1481; one in Modena by Dominicus Richizola, 1490; and one by Quentell, Cologne 1514.*. [It was reprinted by Quentell in 1517 (a copy of which ed. is in the Brit.Mus.), with an address to the reader by Ortuinus Gratius.] The first modern edition was given by E. Köpke ("Johannes von Hildesheim," Progr. der Ritter-Academie zu Brandenburg a. H., Brandenb., 1878*. [This edition is however full of gross mistakes and even omissions; most of the faults are due to the misunderstanding of the many abbreviations.]), from a MS. at Brandenburg, written in 1409, now in the libr. of the Ritter-Acad., formerly in the Chapter libr.). Since then a great many more MSS. have turned up: 2 in England: MSS. Cott. Cleop. D VII, and Corp. Chr. Coll. Cambr. 275 (15th cent.), the latter of which, or rather another copy, was used by the English translator; 4 in Berlin: Royal libr. Theol. Fol. 47 (a copy of MS. Brand., written in 1413), Fol. 241 (written in 1402), Fol. 510, Quart 116. Munich has about two dozen MSS.: Cod. lat. 101, 2941 (c. 1409-12), 3254 (written in Munster by Fr. Burkchstaler), 4755, 5884, 5932, 11582 (written 1432), 12005, 12723 (wr. 1417), 14186, 14547, 17227 (14th cent.), 18427 (wr. 1466), 18621, 19544, 21627 (wr. 1450), 23788 (wr. 1419), 23839 (wr. 1434), 24571, 26636, 26688 (wr. 1490), 26700, 26921 (cf. Halm "Catalogue"). The MS. at Treves (Munic. libr.), which I have seen, hardly deserves mention, as its text is the same as in the editions, but with many mistakes. Other MSS. are extant in Vienna: Pal. 385 (14th cent.), 3341, 4926.
The great number of MSS. proves the great popularity of the book. I have only seen part of the MSS.; but so far as I can see, they differ very much. There are at least 2 versions: one with a far shorter and simpler text, in MS. Brandenburg (written in 1409*. [Colophon: Anno domini MCCCCIX hec completa sunt Sabbatho die post octauas Corporis Christi in scribendo.]), and MS. Berol. Fol. 47 (written in 1413, by one Joh. Cassel, rector Page xii at Brandenburg;*. [Col.: Explicit liber trium Regum in istis partibus, per venerabilem Johannem archiepiscopum magdebwg. (!) nouiter portatus. Scriptus per Iohannem Cassel rectorem nouiciorum et aliorum scolarium in vrbe Brand. a. d. Moccccoxiijo decimo octauo Kalendas septembris, sole existente in libra in primo gradu, luna in cancro; pro quo ihesus cristus marie filius sit benedictus, in secula seculorum, amen.] it is a copy of MS. Brand., though with many alterations); here the biblical part is only intimated, not executed, the digressions are mostly abridged or sketched, or wholly omitted, the style is simple and clear, so that it looks like a first draught, though some of the omissions are mentioned in the index. The vast majority of the MSS. contain a widely-enlarged text, in which all the details are broadly executed, and many digressions added, in a style made pompous by accumulations, doublings and treblings of words, circumlocutions and repetitions, so that the clear sense is stifled under verbosity, and frequently obscured. The latter became the generally-received text, and was printed in the old editions. It seems that the former version contains the first text, from which the wider was formed; but it is to be noted that some of the very oldest MSS. already contain the wider text. I must leave this question open till I have collated the MSS. extant at Munich; nor can I attempt, as yet, to give a critical edition of the Latin text; I must content myself here with reprinting the Brandenb. text (which I have collated with the MS., and with MS. Berol. Fol. 47), and with adding the readings of the common text, especially of the MSS. extant in England (MS. Cleop. D VII and Corp. Chr. Coll. Cbr. 275), as being of importance for the English version. Both MSS. have the enlarged text, but with a great many variations and omissions, of which those in MS. Corp. Chr. Coll. explain the discrepancies of the English version, founded on that very MS.
What is known of the author, John of Hildesheim, is found in Trithemii "Liber de scriptor. ecclesiasticis," tom. CXVII; in Oudinus "Commentar. de script. eccl. antiquis," III, p. 1275; in Fabricii "Biblioth. med. et infim. latin." IV, 8; and especially in "Bibliotheca Carmelitana, Aurelianis, 1752," II, p. 4.*. [Cf. Köpke, "Joh. v. Hildesheim," p. 6, 7.] He is called a Saxon, or a Westfalian; that he was born at Hildesheim, is probable, but attested only by the Carmelite Martin of St. Joseph, Page xiii the commentator of Trithemius. He was a Carmelite friar, studied at Avignon, where he went with Petrus Thomas, general of his order, under Clemens IV. (1342-52), and became doctor of divinity and professor. In 1358 he was appointed "biblicus" at Paris, by the chapter held at Bordeaux. Afterwards he returned to Germany, and became Prior at Cassel; as such, he was sent on a mission to Rome in 1366. On his return, he was made prior of the convent of Marienau, mediated the peace between the bishop of Hildesheim and the duke of Brunswick, and died in his convent in 1375, where he lies buried in the choir, beside the founder of this convent, Count Gleichen.*. [Cf. Köpke, "Joh. v. Hildesheim," p. 6, 7.] His epitaph was discovered by Seb. Münster, who published it in his "Saxonia" (repr. in "Bibl. Carm."). He wrote several works*. [Cf. Köpke, "Joh. v. Hildesheim," p. 6, 7.]: Chronica historiarum, De monstris in ecclesia, De Antichristo, In turpia pingentem, Defensorium sui ordinis, De fonte vitae, Contra Iudaeos, Sermones, Epistolae, "et quaedam alia." His "Historia trium Regum" was a great success. It is dedicated*. [This dedication is omitted in most MSS., but extant in the editions. It runs: "Reuerendissimo in Christo patri ac domino, domino Florencio de Weuelkouen, diuina prouidencia Monasteriensis ecclesie episcopo dignissimo."In Ch. 1 he addresses him, and says that he has written his book "vestro iussu."] to Florence de Weuelkouen, bishop of Munster, in Westfalia, who held the see of that place 1364-79, and died in 1393 as bishop of Utrecht.*. [Cf. Köpke, "Joh. v. Hildesheim," p. 6, 7.] As the author died in 1375, his book must have been written between 1364 and 1375. To the same period point some dates which he gives in his "historia"; he mentions events of the years 1340, 1341, 1361.
When Rainald of Dassel brought the bodies of the 3 Kings to Cologne, in 1164, he gave 3 fingers of the relics to the cathedral of Hildesheim, in which place he had studied and had held several ecclesiastical offices,*. [Cf. Floss, p. 7. He had at the same time held four eccl. offices: that of "Probst" at the Cathedral of Hildesheim; at St. Maurice's, Hildesheim; at the Cathedral of Munster; and at St. Peter's, Goslar; besides being canon at St. Mary's, Hildesheim. In 1154 he had refused the see of Hildesheim.] before he was made Chancellor, in 1156, and designated Archbishop of Cologne, in 1159. This fact not only proves the close connection between Hildesheim and Cologne, but seems to contain the very reason why John of Hildesheim felt Page xiv himself called upon to write his legend, as some rays of the glory which the 3 Kings spread over Cologne, fell on his own native place.
John maintains, in Ch. 1, that he compiled his work from divers books, known only in the East, and from hearing, and sight, and relations of others; in Ch. 4 he mentions, as his authorities, "books written in Hebrew and Chaldee of the life and deeds, and all matters of the 3 Kings, which had been brought from India to Akres by the princes of Vaus, and had been translated there into French, and were kept there in this translation by certain nobles"; to these, he says he has added new matter from divers sermons and homilies, and from hearing, and sight, and relations of others. These Hebrew and Chaldaic books are, no doubt, a mere fiction, or perhaps mention was made of them in his real sources.
The legendary part is taken from the Bible, which is literally reproduced (in the enlarged text), and from the Fathers, from common traditions and well-known facts. The cathedral of Cologne possessed a written account of the several translations,*. [Chron. Anonymi of Afflighem (wr. 1189), a. 1163: "Si quis vult scire quomodo de partibus suis translata sint (corpora trium Regum) Constantinopolim et de Constantinopoli Mediolanum, id in ecclesia s. Petri Coloniensis inveniet." The Magnum Chron. Belgicum (Pistorius Scr., III, 205), 15th cent., brings this passage in the same words. Cf. Floss, p. 50; M. Hartmann, "Ueber das span. Dreikönigsspiel" (Inaug. diss., Bautzen, 1879), p. 74.] whose substance, and indeed the outlines of the whole legend, are, it seems, preserved in a MS. at the Hague, N. 269, written about 1200 by a native of Cologne (ed. by Floss, "Beilage II," p. 116-122),*. [Title: "Incipit de tribus regibus relacio qui dominum adorauerunt viij idus Januarij." On this relation is based the report in Giles d' Orval, "Gesta Pontif. Leodiensium," Cap. 45 (in Chapeaville, "Gesta Ponf. Leod." II, 114). Far older, but only short, are the notices in Annales lsengrimmi maiores,a. 1168 (Pertz Scr., XVII, 315), and in Roberti de Monte Cronica, a. 1158 and 1164 (Pertz, VI, 508, 513), both contemporaries of the last translation; cf. Floss. A vast material is given by Crombach.] and in the Breviarium Coloniense (ed. 1495 and 1522); this account, and the traditions current at Cologne, were, no doubt, among his principal sources. The forming of the legend had been for some time in progress, especially since the translation of the 3 Kings to Cologne;*. [Most likely it was only from that time that the traditions of their former translations were found; cf. M. Hartmann, l. c. The subject of the Kings became now of general interest, and gave rise to the many legendary tales floating at the time of John of Hildesheim.] their Page xv number, names,*. [Cf. M. Hartmann, l. c. "Excurs III," p. 51, who rejects nearly all testimonies for the existence of the names previous to the translation to Cologne, except that in the Excerpta Latina Barbari (7th cent.), where the names are: Bithisarea, Melichior, Gathaspa (ed. in Schoene, "Eusebii Chron."Vol. I, Berl. 1875, p. 174); but in this he goes too far.]character and attributes (as "primicie gencium") had been fixed, traditions had been formed of their life and death, the same prophecies had long been applied to them, the meaning of their gifts had frequently been discussed; a great deal of information was dispersed in the homilies then in use.*. [Leg. Aurea (c. 1280) in the Sermon on Epiph. contains a former stage of the legend, with much homiletic matter; but it only briefly mentions the transl. by St. Helena and Eustorgius. John of Hild. seems not to have made immediate use of it. Similar is the account in the German "Marienpassionale"(ed. Augsburg 1476, Appendix).--The Old-Spanish "Libre de los tres Reys" (in Sanchez Colleccion, Madr. 1841, p. 125-132), contains only the adoration of the 3 Kings and the flight to Egypt (with the adventure of the robbers from the Infancia Salv.).] The subject of the 3 Kings was one of the favourite topics of the day; they were at that time the most popular saints of Christendom, their festival was solemnized with uncommon mirth and splendour, with personations within church,*. [These personations, which dramatize the liturgy of the day, first given in Latin in the short words of the Bible by the clergy alone, as a part of the service, but gradually dilating and passing over to the laity, form one of the first elements in the history of the mediæval drama. The oldest specimens in Latin are those of Limoges, Rouen ("Officium Stellae"), Nevers (two), Compiègne, Freisingen, Orleans (cf. Du Méril, "Origines Lat. du Théatre moderne,"Paris, 1849; Delisle, "Romania," 1875; M. Hartmann, l. c., p. 7 ff.; Th. Wright, "Early Mysteries and other Lat. poems of the 12th and 13th cent." Lond., 1838); they are extant in MSS. of the 11th and 12th cent.; the oldest specimen in a national idiom is an Old-Spanish play (last ed. by M. Hartmann, l. c., p. 46). These plays soon became very popular. German plays have been collected by Weinhold, "Weihnachtsspiele und Lieder," Gräz, 1853; Schröer, "Deutsche Weihnachtsspiele aus Ungarn," Vienna, 1861; in "Carmina burana,"Stuttg., 1847; cf. Wilken, "Gesch. der geistl. Spiele in Deutschland," Gött., 1872. "Dreikönigsspiele" were frequent at Cologne (cf. Crombach, 732), Hildesheim (cf. Floss, 99), Milan (Floss, 63), and indeed in all places where the 3 Kings were specially worshipped, as also in Burgundy, where the 3 Kings passed on their translation to Cologne (cf. Floss, p. 100).--On the influence of the legend on art see Mrs. Jameson, "Legends of the Madonna," London, 1857, p. 210--223.] with mummeries and plays without; their shrine at Cologne was one of the centres of the Christian world, the very fame and wealth of Cologne dated from their translation. To fix the traditions then current, to have the "legend" of the great national Saints, to have it complete, with all the Page xvi apparatus then required in a legend, in a form befitting the subject, had become a task of national interest. John of Hildesheim undertook this task, for which he was eminently qualified. He had travelled in France and Italy, had been near the papal court at Avignon and Rome, and had, no doubt, acquired much information, unknown as yet to the general public; he had been "biblicus" at Paris, he had wide connections. His was not a critical age; he took his materials where and how he found them, without scrupulously examining their authenticity; the marvellous was then indispensable to a legend, and received with a credulous mind, especially when Eastern subjects were concerned. Nevertheless, it remains astonishing how he got all his information together: and the question arises whether he has not sometimes added of his own inventions. On the whole, I am not inclined to assert this point, and to think him capable of real falsifications; though perhaps he has sometimes been led away by his imagination and too freely made use of his power of combination, as in the history of the 30 gilt pennies, of the apple of gold, &c.;, which seem to be of very recent date, and almost to have been expressly made for the occasion; but perhaps a tradition was already afloat, analogous to that of the crown of thorns at Paris. In all cases, his credulity is rather stupendous; he takes everything in good earnest, without a trace of irony.
The most interesting part of his book is the many digressions which he has dispersed among the narrative: descriptions of countries, places, products, events, customs, churches and sects in the East; these "allotria" take up more than half of the book. Here he has laid down all the information then known of the East. Some of the details he may have learned at Cologne, which, since the crusades, had been the centre of commerce to the Orient, others at Avignon and Rome; but his chief sources were the books of travels, frequent at that age of pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Missionaries*. [Köpke, l. c., p. 5: "Die kenntniss von den Thomas-Christen brachte Montecorvino nach Europa, der sie in Maliapur bei Madras besucht hatte und im Jahre 1320 als Bischof zu Chan-balyk (Peking) gestorben war; um 1335 stattete der leichtgläubige Franciskaner Odorico von Pordenone nach seiner rückkehr von den Sunda-Inseln und aus China seinen reisebericht ab, aus dem der Ritter Mandeville seine wunderbare reise sich zurechtrichtete; 1346 gab Jacob von Marignola, der auch in China, aber als päbstlicher legat, gereist war, seinen bericht. erst in der mitte des 14. Jhdts. wurde den königen des christlichen Abessinien der titel des erzpriesters Johannes beigelegt (?). unter dem frischen eindruck dieser ereignisse ist unzweifelhaft vieles in dem buche geschrieben, anderes konnte er nur in der nächsten nähe der Curie, sei es zu Avignon oder zu Rom, vernommen haben, wie die äüssere erscheinung des Tartaren- und Mongolenchans 1340, die Christenverfolgung zu Damascus u. in Egipten 1341, oder die absichten der Sarazenen aus der kirche zu Bethleem die prächtigsten säulen i. J. 1361 zu entnehmen."]Page xviihad even penetrated to the far East, and disclosed its mysteries. The same MS. Corp. Chr. Coll. Cambr. 275 (15th cent.), which contains the "Historia trium Regum," has also some accounts of Oriental affairs, as "De presbitero Johanne," f. 146-149; "Itinerarium fratris Odorici ord. fratr. minorum de mirabilibus Orientalium Tartarorum," f. 149-163; "De Saracenis et eorum observationibus,"f. 234-9, which may have been known to John of Hildesheim; besides "Mandeville's Travels," which our author seems not yet to know. But it is impossible to lay open his sources, and to decide on his trustworthiness, as long as nearly all the material is hidden in libraries.*. [There is a curious account in the Annales Egmondini (Pertz. Scr. XVII, 174, a. 1222), which seems to have some connection with what John of Hild. relates about Prester John and the Nestorines: "De terra Persarum exercitus magnus valde et fortis, egressus de finibus suis, per adiacentes sibi provincias transitum fecit, qui dicebantur fuisse homines magne proceritatis et stature horribilis; quod tamen non credimus. Sed qua de causa egressi fuerint vel quid egerint, ignoramus. In brevi vero reversi sunt ad propria. Dicebant tamen quidam quod versus Coloniam vellent ire et tres Magos de gente eorum natos ibidem accipere. Vnum tamen scimus quod Iudeorum gens super eodem rumore ingenti leticia exultabant et vehementer sibi applaudebant, nescio quid de futura libertate sua ex hoc provenire sibi sperantes, vnde et regem illius multitudinis filium David appellabant" (cf. Floss).]--
In June 1164, two years after the destruction of Milan, Rainald von Dassel, then Chancellor, and designated*. [He was not consecrated till 2 Oct., 1165. Shortly afterwards, 29 Dec., he elevated the relics of Charlemagne at Aix-la-chapelle, whom, with the assent of Pope Paschalis III, he canonized (cf. Floss, p. 9). In 1166 he elevated the relics of SS. Cassius, Florencius and Mallusius, at Bonn (cf. Floss, p. 91). He died Aug. 14. 1167, at Rome; cf. Jul. Ficker "Reinhold von Dassel," Köln, Heberle, 1850.] Archbishop of Cologne (since 1159), obtained from the Emperor Frederick I. the bodies of the 3 Kings, together with those of the SS. Nabor and Felix, and one Martinus Conf., all which had been discovered*. [Rob. de Monte Cron., a. 1158: "Eodem anno inrenta sunt corpora trium magorum qui Salvatorem nostrum infantem adorauerunt in Bethleem, in quadam veteri capella iuxta urbem Mediolanum, et pro timore Friderici imperatoris Alemannorum qui eandem urbem obsidere veniebat, levata et in civitate posita." There was, however, some doubt about the identity of the bodies; cf. Libellus trist. et dol. a. 1164: "Undecimo die eiusdem mensis (Junii) Rainaldus Canzellarius Colon. archiep. tulit corpora SS. martyrum Naboris atque Felicis et S. confessoris Martini, prout dicebatur, et tria alia corpora que erant condita in archa que est in eccl. b. Eustorgii, et que dicebantur esse magorum trium, et exportauit Coloniam."] in 1158, in St. Page xviii Eustorgio's (then outside Milan), and had then been hidden within the town (in St. Georgio's*. [Rainald took them from the campanile of St. Giorgio: cf. Galv. de la Flamma (Muratori Scr. XI, 644), Cron. manoscritta di S. Eustorgio (Serv. Latuada, III, 136); cf. Floss, p. 2.])--as a reward for the eminent services which he, and the people of Cologne, had rendered to the Emperor in his conflict with Pope Alexander III. On June 11 he set out on his journey with the holy bodies, and, taking his way by Burgundy, to escape from his enemies, who were lying in wait for him, arrived at Cologne on July 23 (anniversary of the Translation).*. [Cf. Floss, p. 14.] We still have a letter, dated Vercelli, 1164, 12 June, in which Rainald announces his imminent arrival with the holy bodies (ed. by Floss, p. 113-5). The bodies were then still incorrupt, "integra, utpote balsamo condita, ut ipse, dum venissem Coloniam, aspexi" (Ann. Isengr. a. 1168), "integra exterius quantum ad cutem et capillos"(Rob. de Monte Cron. a. 1164); one of them appeared to be of 15 years, the other of 30, the third of 40 (Rob. de Monte l. c.). The same Rainald instituted a festival in their honour at Cologne, on Epiphany, which he endowed with 10 Mark yearly.*. [MS. at the Hague, 269.] His successor, Philipp von Heinsberg (1167-91), founded the magnificent shrine, in which the holy bodies are still deposited (cf. Floss, p. 94). From that time the growth and wealth of Cologne rapidly increased, so that it soon became the most powerful place of the Empire. As a place of worship it was inferior only to Jerusalem, Rome, and St. Jago.*. [Cf. Abel, "Die polit. Bedeutung Kölns am Ende des 12. Jhdts." (Allgem. Monatsschrift für Wiss. u. Litt., Halle, 1852, p. 443). The MS. at the Hague (269) says: "Ab illo tempore cepit Colonia magis proficere et fama et gloria, ita ut vsque hodie SS. regum odore attracti et illecti ex insulis maris et diuersis regionibus fideles confluere non desinant: Scoti, Brittones, Anglici, Hispani, de Italia etiam, Sicilia et vtraque Gallia, reddentes ibi vota sua que distinxerunt labiis suis."]
These are historical facts; all the rest is legendary.*. [On the legend of the 3 Kings see also: Inchover, "Tres magi evang." Romae, 1639; Jaques d'Auzole Lapeyre, "L'Epiphanie ou pensées nouvelles à la gloire de dieu touchant les trois Mages," Paris, 1638; Crombach l. c.; Hebenstreit, "De magorum &c.; nomine patria et statu dissertatio," Jenae, 1709; Kreuser, "Dreikönigenbuch. Zur 700 järr. Feier der Einbringung der h. 3 Könige," Bonn, 1864; Alfr. Maury, "Essai sur les légendes pieuses du moyen age," Paris, 1843; Schöbel, "Histoire des trois Mages" (Revue de Linguistique et Phil. comp. 1878).] That Page xix Rainald got the bodies clandestinely from a noble Milanese, before asking them of the Emperor, is a mere tradition, first recorded in the Annales Egmondani (13th cent.), a. 1167 (Pertz Scr., XVI, 465), which, however, still omit the name of the nobleman; this name, Azzo de Turri (or della Torre, which was one of the most powerful families in Milan in the 13th cent.), does not appear before John of Hildesheim (cf. Floss, p. 71 ff.).*. [A later account is that given in Crombach: that the sister of a Milanese nobleman (Gualfegus, Gualvagno Visconte, Count of Angleria) betrayed the bodies to Rainald, to save her brother; this account was enhanced by many fabulous details; cf. Floss, p. 81. The same account is told in the 2nd part of the German poem, "Zeno oder die Leg. von den h. 3 Königen."] What is told of their prior translations, rests on traditions no older, it seems, than the last translation; the chief source is the Vita b. Eustorgii Conf. (cf. "Act. SS. Boll. Sept." V, 776; ed. in Mombritius, "Vitae et Acta SS."I, 266), which Crombach (p. 172) considers very old, and Floss (p. 47) dates about 1100, but which was, most likely, written after, not before, the discovery of the bodies at Milan (in 1158),*. [Cf. M. Hartmann, p. 74 ff.: "Vielleicht wurde sie in Köln selbst verfasst, um dem natürlich sich geltend machenden bedürfnisse nach alten documenten über die 3 Könige entgegenzukommen ... Auch ist es sehr wahrscheinlich dass die ganze sage erst später von Köln nach Mailand gekommen ist." p. 72: "Erst der glaube, erst die fiction, dass die 1158 in der S. Eustorgiuskirche gefundenen leichen die der 3 Könige seien, gab zu der sage veranlassung dass S. Eustorgius sie hinbrachte."] and was an attempt to explain that very discovery. It relates how St. Eustorgius, a native of Constantinople, and familiar with the Emperor, was sent to Milan on a mission, was made bishop by the Milanese, and obtained for them from the Emperor the bodies of the 3 Kings, which had once been brought from different countries to Constantinople by St. Helena;*. [The same tradition, though in more general terms, is given in Ann. Isengrimmi, who says that St. Helena brought the bodies to Constantinople, and that a bishop of Milan, who was at her court, acquired them, and brought them to Milan; he refers for it to "historiae" extant at Cologne, which Floss believes to be the Vita S. Eustorgii. Rob. de Monte Cron. first names this bishop Eustorgius, to whom the bodies were given by an emperor of Byzance. Whether or no these two accounts of contemporaries to the last translation are older than the Vita Eust., is a matter of dispute. That the tradition was not then generally received, is proved by William of Newburgh (1136-1208), who says: "Nec notum est a quibus personis sacrae illorum reliquiae illuc (Mediolanum) delatae ibique repositae fuerint" (a second MS., however, differs in the readings); and by Albericus Chron. (ab. 1250), a. 1163: "De Perside autem qualiter corpora Constantinopolim fuissent translata, hucusque non reperi"; cf. M. Hartmann, l. c. p. 73.] as bishop, he was the second (third) predecessor of St. Page xx Ambrose, and lies buried "in the venerable church of the 3 Kings, which since bears his name also." The account in the MS. at the Hague, 269, which embodies the traditions current at Cologne, repeats the same story, but adds the name of the Emperor, Manuel. John of Hildesheim combines a double relation: "it is said" (fertur), he says, "that at the instance (concilio) of the Emperor Mauricius (who is called 'primus imperator Romanorum ex Graecis'), the bodies were translated to Milan, for it had assisted him in recovering Greece and Armeny, then laid waste by the Saracens and Persians;" "and it is read (legitur) that this translation was made under Manuel by St. Eustorgius." Here we see how the tradition, which sprang from the discovery of the bodies, was gradually enlarged. The name of Manuel was added, because the name of this Emperor (who reigned 1143-1180) was then best known for a Greek Emperor. St. Ambrose, though he mentions St. Eustorgius, knows nothing of the translation of the 3 Kings, nor does Paulinus, the biographer of St. Ambrose. As the whole story of the translation by St. Eustorgius is, most likely, a late invention, owing to the discovery of the bodies in his church, it is needless to attempt explaining how they came to Milan. Papebroek (Acta SS. Boll.) removes the translation to the time of the Emperor Phokas (603-610); others, like P. Allegranza,*. ["Delle antichita longob. milanesi," Milano, 1793; cf. Floss, p. 56 ff.] to that of the Emperor Zeno*. [The name of Zeno is the only thing in common in the old German poem "Zeno," extant in 4 MSS. (2 Low-German, and 2 High-German texts), ed. by Aug. Lübben, "Zeno, oder die Legende von den h. drei Königen," Bremen, 1869. This is a most fabulous account, relating how one Zeno, son of a rich citizen of Verona of the same name, but who, at his birth, is brought to a bishop of Milan by the devil, who lays himself in the cradle in his stead, after many strange adventures got the bodies of the 3 Kings with the help of the devil. This strange story is of the same kind as that of the "heilige Rock" at Treves. Perhaps it rests on the tradition of the ducat of Zeno in St. Eustorgio's.] (474-491), of whom a ducat, said to have been found in the ark in which the 3 Kings were Page xxi translated to Milan, and which the people supposed had belonged to the coin offered by the 3 Kings in Bethleem, was shown in St. Eustorgio's (cf. Floss, p. 56). But the traditions extant in St. Eustorgio's respecting the 3 Kings, seem only to have arisen consequently to the discovery of the bodies, nor can it be proved that it bore the name of Church of the 3 Kings before that date (cf. Floss, p. 61 ff.).*. [Since 1220 St. Eustorgio's belonged to the Dominicans; cf. Floss, p. 60.] Still more fabulous is the account of the translation to Constantinople by St. Helena: no Byzantine author mentions that the 3 Kings were ever specially worshipped at Constantinople.--
May I be allowed to add that the editing of this Legend has given me unusual trouble, and occupied me for years. When searching for the MSS. I found the worst first. Of this it was almost impossible to make sense, and only by chance did I at last discover the best texts, so that I had to do the work over again more than once; and thus it was also with the Latin text.