A reader wrote to me asking for help. Some time ago, he found a 15th century finger ring, which turned out to be a treasure and is now in the British Museum. There is a double inscription on the ring which even the experts seem to find difficult to translate. It reads:

Amour vauit tout fors ceur de villain
Amour en voie coullas eyoie

I know quite a few linguists read this blog, most of them far more accomplished than me; does anyone fancy helping to crack this mystery?
The finder of the ring kindly sent me photos:
and this:

“Thank you for your help and please also pass on my thanks to the people who have tried to help via your web site. I have read your blog and now have some more info.

I e-mailed the head of French at the University of Wales who in turn passed the inscription onto his Father. By a stroke of luck he happens to be the editor of the Anglo Norman Dictionary.

I have attached a photograph of the ring showing the inscription which will help when you read his translation as some of the words can be seen to have a different spelling to the British Museums.

The following text is his translation:

“I think that the transcription is faulty. The first line would make
sense if ‘vauit’ were read as ‘vaint’, (the minims are the same) i.e.
‘defeats’, so “Love defeats/conquers every thing except the heart of a
‘no-good/wretch’, no problem, but the second line is more corrupt. The
‘eyoie’ is probably ‘e joie’ (“and joy”), but the ‘coullas’ rings no
bells and all I can think of is ‘çoullas’ (a form that I have not come
across, but which is not beyond the quill of an A-N scribe) i.e.
‘solace’, giving something like “Love brings (lit. sends) solace and

How exciting! Rouquin ricain, you were on the right tracks!
And this is what Sylvain found (from the French side):

[Amour vaine tout fors que coeur felon:] [Pro.] Love overcomes any thing but a forward, or spightfull, heart.
[Amour vaine tout fors que le coeur felon:] [Prov.] Love conquers any thing but a fellonious heart.

And this is Dominique’s guess (again, from the French side):

Amour en voie coullas eyoie
Amour sur le chemin du plaisir (soulas) réjouit (esjoie).