Hugh Primas

Hugh Primas

Hugh Primas of Orleans was a Latin lyric poet of the 12th century, a scholar from Orleans who was jokingly called "Primas", "the Primate", by his friends at the University of Paris. He was probably born in the 1090s and may have died about 1160. Along with his younger contemporary, the Archpoet, he marks the opening of a new period in Latin literature.

The earliest and best-known source for Hugh Primas's life is in a passage added to the text of the "Chronica" of Richard of Poitiers for the year 1142:

Hugh is also mentioned in the "Chronicle" by Francesco Pippino, and he may be "Primasso", the subject of a story in Boccaccio's "Decameron" (1.7).

Other medieval writers say very little about his life: they knew "Primas" for his poems. Yet they rarely quoted them under his name. Modern scholars were therefore able to attribute no work to Hugh Primas until Wilhelm Meyer observed, in 1906, that one poem actually contains the name "Primas". Meyer then realised that the Oxford manuscript containing this one poem includes a collection of twenty-two others that are probably by the same author, including another seven containing the internal signature "Primas".

The twenty-three poems identified by Meyer, and edited by him in 1907, are now generally accepted as the work of Hugh Primas, though A. G. Rigg has expressed doubts about some attributions.



*"Hugh Primas and the Archpoet"; translated and edited by Fleur Adcock. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
*F. Cairns, "The addition to the "Chronica" of Richard of Poitiers" in "Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch" vol. 19 (1984) pp. 159-161.
*F. J. E. Raby, "A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle Ages" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934. ISBN 0-19-814325-7) vol. 2 pp. 82-83.
*A. G. Rigg, "Golias and other pseudonyms" in "Studi medievali" 3rd series vol. 18 (1977) pp. 65-109.

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