Notes

1 In this difficult passage Drogo appears to suggest that like the authors of the Gospels, he is producing an account based on eyewitness testimony; since Godelieve's story needs to be told by someone, Drogo has reluctantly done what many people have urged.

2 Drogo distinguishes between two kinds of faith: martyrdom, the shedding of blood symbolized by the rose, and unquestioning faith in surrender to God's will, symbolized by lilies, to whose happy fate Jesus referred in the Sermon on the Mount [Matt 6:28]. Then by verbal sleight-of-hand, Drogo claims that the reward for the merit either kind of faith demonstrates is the faith itself. Godelieve's life embraces both kinds of faith.

3Bertolf was a member of a family of petty lords in coastal Flanders. This class of people, often called castellans because a fortified place or castle was the symbol of their domination of the surrounding countryside, were at the peak of their power in Western Europe in the eleventh century. Godelieve's parents were of similar social standing. Bertolf took his fiancée about 100 kilometers northeast to his family's territory around Gistel, in modern Belgium.

4In early medieval times, and in some regions up until the thirteenth century, the groom's family provided a marriage gift. By the later Middle Ages, the financial burden, sometimes very heavy, rested with the bride's family. Drogo calls Bertolf's offering a "dowry," and finds nothing unusual in it: the early medieval practice was still at work.

5Godelieve has been reduced to near-beggardom as she trudges half-starved back to her father's house. For a woman of her station, this was a very humiliating situation; Bertolf has treated her wretchedly.

6I.e. "Gode lief," which might also be translated as "God's favorite" or "friend of God." Drogo wrote in Latin, but the spoken language of his native Flanders was Germanic. Godelieve was likely bilingual, since names in her family were Germanic but she grew up in Romance-speaking Boulogne. Perhaps that is also why her mother-in-law called her, a dark-haired speaker of a different language, a "foreign crow."

7However, Drogo never refers to Godelieve as a virgin, or notes chastity among her virtues. It seems most likely that Godelieve and Bertolf did have sex at least once, perhaps on the journey from her home to his. Interestingly, the speech which follows does not condemn sexual or other bodily pleasures as evil, only noting that they are fleeting distractions from more important eternal matters.

8Drogo justifies his heroine's willingness to submit to the ministrations of a female magic healer, what we might call a good witch or a sorceress. Godelieve hesitates at such a course, but chooses to trust that her God stands guard as she obeys her husband.

9The tradition quickly grew up that Godelieve was dumped in a well. Her murder is represented this way in later writings and in art.

10That is, instead of being reduced in volume by milling, the grain produced a quantity of flour greater than its original measure. The funeral feast is another instance of concern for the poor,

11 Was this perhaps an early manifestation of Godelieve's cult? The vague language here may suggest that the canonization of the abused wife was a calculated official appropriation of a cult with non-Christian and even pagan overtones.