At the beginning of the twelfth century the city of Pisa led an expedition
against the Arabs in the Balearic islands in the guise of a crusade. Soon after
the return of the victorious Pisans to their city an epic, approximately 3,500
hexameters in length, was written in Latin recording their glorious deeds.
This poem, the Liber Maiorichinus, is heavily indebted to the epics of
classical Rome for its imagery, and to the major classical epicists, Vergil in
particular, for its language. The wealth of detail found in the poem concerning
the expedition's route, its course of action and the characters who participated
in it suggests that the author himself was a member of the expedition. Both of
these aspects of the poem are discussed in the introduction to this thesis.
The poem was revised soon after its composition; the revision, which was
authorial, increased the classical content of the poem and added more detailed
information about the expedition. A Pisan tradition maintains that the epic
was composed by Henry of Pisa. Of the three manuscripts which contain a text
of the Liber Maiorichinus, one, the oldest, contains no indication of the author's
identity; the other two manuscripts suggest that Laurentius Veronensis was the
author. Writers at the end of the last century and in the first twenty years of
this century concentrated their research upon the identity of the poem's author.
An outline of their conclusions is included in this thesis.
The greater part of this thesis consists of a critical edition of the Liber
Maiorichinus with a translation into English. None of the previous editions
of the poem are critical ones, and no translation has been available in any