Roman de Rou

Roman de Rou chronicles Norman history, in French verse, from the founding duke, Rollo (i.e. Rou), to the battle of Tinchebray in 1106. The last, and longest, section of the work (in which the Norman Conquest of England occurs) is in octosyllabic rhymed couplets, and was seemingly composed in the early-1170s. In it the author of Roman de Rou tells us something about himself:

The history of the Normans is a long one and hard to set down in the vernacular.[*] If one asks who said this, who wrote this history in the vernacular, I say and will say that I am Wace from the Isle of Jersey, which is in the sea towards the west and belongs to the territory of Normandy. I was born on the island of Jersey and taken to Caen as a small child; there I went to school and was then educated for a long time in France. When I returned from France, I stayed in Caen for a long time and set about composing works in the vernacular: I wrote and composed a good many.[*] With the help of God and the king – I must serve no one apart from God – a prebend was given to me in Bayeux (may God reward him for this). I can tell you it was by Henry the second, the grandson of Henry and the father of Henry.
Roman de Rou (ii, 94–95)

For some reason, Wace’s sponsor, Henry II (king of England 1154–89), became dissatisfied with Wace’s work (or with Wace himself), and withdrew his patronage. Wace breaks off from his narrative, and writes:

Let he whose business it is continue the story. I am referring to Master Beneeit, who has undertaken to tell of this affair, as the king has assigned the task to him; since the king asked him to do it, I must abandon it and fall silent.[*] The king in the past was very good to me. He gave me a great deal and promised me more, and if he had given me everything he promised me things would have gone better for me. I could not have it, it did not please the king; but it is not my fault. I have known three king Henrys and seen them all in Normandy; all three had lordship over Normandy and England. The second Henry, about whom I am talking, was the grandson of the first Henry and born of Matilda, the empress, and the third was the son of the second.[*] Here ends the book of Master Wace; anyone who wishes to do more, let him do it.
Roman de Rou (ii, 407–409)

Wace apparently ceased work soon after 1174.

Incidentally, Wace is most likely a personal name, not a surname. He has sometimes (perhaps as the result of a textual misreading) been, mistakenly, called Robert Wace.

Translation by Glyn S. Burgess

romanz, “the vernacular”.
Wace’s major previous work, Roman de Brut (finished in 1155), is a vernacular (i.e. French) versified (octosyllabic rhymed couplets) adaptation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s fantastical, Latin, Historia Regum Britanniae, in which Wace introduced King Arthur’s round table.
(Volume, pages) of Frédéric Pluquet’s two volume edition of Roman de Rou (1827).
“Master Beneeit” is evidently one Benoît de Sainte-Maure, and the work he produced is the Chronique des Ducs de Normandie.
This third Henry is not Henry III – his reign was 1216–1272. Henry II’s son, Henry the Young King (as he is known), was crowned during his father’s lifetime, at the age of 15, in 1170. In 1173–4 the Young King rebelled against his father. The rebellion failed and the two Henry’s were reconciled. Henry the Young King died in 1183, six years before his father.