He was a scholar of the foremost rank in two fields normally studied quite separately in his day, viz. Old French and Medieval Welsh literatures. He was one of the first to realise that the close relationship between the Norman lords and their French -language courts on the Marches and in south Wales and the Welsh lords and their courts had had important effects in both directions: not only did ‘ Celtic ’ tales (including Welsh Arthurian legends ) have great influence on Old French Literature and consequently on all western European literatures, but French culture and language penetrated the Welsh aristocracy and literary circles. The majority of Old French words in Medieval Welsh were borrowed directly, rather than through the medium of English . This is particularly true in the case of Welsh texts (like Ystorya Bown o Hamtwn ) translated from Old French where the same French word appears in both versions. Morgan Watkin believed he could trace Old French idioms in the syntax of some Medieval Welsh texts. His mastery of palaeography also enabled him to see in the script of the main Welsh MSS., copied in Cistercian houses , the influence of the Old French script of the mother-abbeys. It must be acknowledged that Morgan Watkins 's thorough knowledge of the Anglo-Norman background sometimes enticed him to go to extremes and to overstate the French influences on native Welsh texts such as Culhwch ac Olwen . The French origin of a Welsh word must also be rejected (however plausible the phonetics) if its Celtic cognates reveal its native origin. But, nevertheless, it is probably true that the great mass of French words borrowed into Welsh down to the mid-14th century came directly from French . Watkins 's great achievement was to open wide a new window on an important aspect of Welsh literature which had long lain hidden. His successors can re-evaluate the evidence and assess his arguments, but they cannot be ignored.
His main publications are: ‘ The French linguistic influence in Mediaeval Wales ’, Trans. Cymm. , 1920 ; ‘ The French literary influence in Mediaeval Wales ’, ibid., 1921 ; with V.E. Nash-Williams (see above) , ‘ A pre-reformation inscribed chalice and paten ’, B.B.C.S. , 3 ( 1925 ); ‘ Albert Stimmings Welsche Fassung in the Anglonormanische Boeve de Hamtone, an examination of a critique ’ in Studies in French language and mediaeval literature presented to M.K. Pope ; ‘ Sangnarwy ac oed Kulhwch ac Olwen yn y Llyfr Gwyn ’, B.B.C.S. 13 ( 1949 ); ‘ Testun Kulhwch a'i gefndir Ffrengig eto ’, ibid 14 ( 1950 ); Ystorya Bown de Hamtwn, cyfieithiad canol y 13 ganrif o La geste de Bown de Hamtone ( 1958 ); ‘ The chronology of the Annales Cambriae and the Liber Landavensis on the basis of their Old French graphical phenomena ’, NLW Jnl. ( 1960 ); La civilisation française dan les Mabinogion ( 1962 ); ‘ The chronology of the White Book of Rhydderch on the basis of its Old French graphical phenomena ’, NLW Jnl. , ( 1964 ); ‘ The Book of Aneirin, its Old French remanients, their chronology on the basis of the Old French language ’, ibid . ( 1965 ); ‘ The chronology of the Black Book of Carmarthen on the basis of its Old French phenomena ’, ibid . ( 1965 ); ‘ The Black Book of Chirk and the orthographia gallica anglicana , the chronology of the Black Book of Chirk on the basis of its Old French graphical phenomena ’, ibid . ( 1966 ).
He m. Lucy Jenkins , Hendy , Pontarddulais (a sister to John (Gwili) Jenkins ( DWB , 435-6) at Tabernacl chapel , Cardiff in 1911 . He d. 7 Sept. 1970 .
Edouard Bachellery (1907-88), Versailles
Published date: 2001