The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 8. Miscellaneous Ballads

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

SATIRICAL BALLADS

436, DURANDARTE. Class VIII. “Durandarte, buen amigo.”
Montesinos asks Durandarte what message to carry to Belerma. Durandarte answers that he will be quite content if she is sad for three days before starting to look for a new lover.

437, BELERMA. By Luis de Góngora. Class VIII. “Diez años vivió Belerma”.
Ten years after Roncesvalles, Belerma is still weeping over the heart of Durandarte. Lady Alda, by now the merry widow of Count Rodulfo, visits to cheer her up, and to suggest that they search for new husbands together, only stopping her praise of married life when Montesinos walks in.

DIDACTIC BALLAD

438, ROLDAN. Class VIII. “Señor conde Don Roldan.”
The old Don Beltran gives Roldan advice on how to have a happy married life with Alda.

MISCELLANEOUS BALLADS

289, THE SULTAN OF BABYLON AND THE COUNT OF NARBONNE. Class III. “Del Soldan de Babilonia”
The Sultan of Babylon and sixty thousand troops sail to Narbonne, and capture Count Benalmeniquí [Aymeri]. They exhibit him before the castle walls. The Countess offers to pay any price to ransom him. The Count bids her not pay one maravedi.
From La Mort Aymeri de Narbonne.

291, THE PALMER. Class III. “De Mérida sale el Palmero”
A palmer leaves Mérida, and comes to Paris. He asks for Charlemagne, and is told that he is hearing Mass at Saint John Lateran. In the church, the palmer bows to the bishop, and to the Emperor, but not to Roldan or Oliveros. Insulted, they draw their swords on him. Charles restrains them, but demands an explanation from the palmer. He tells how he loved the princess of Sansueña [here, Saragossa], but was captured and imprisoned in Mérida. Charles asks if Mérida is strong. The palmer says yea. Roldan and Oliveros say nay. The palmer then criticizes them and Charles for not coming to Mérida to rescue the Emperor’s son who was captive there, at which the queen recognizes him for her long-lost son, to much rejoicing.
Rodd
A palmer is a pilgrim who has been to the Holy Land, as distinct from a romero, who has been to Saint James of Compostella. Once again, the Spanish seem to think that the Lateran is in Paris. Duran didn’t list this with the Charlemagne ballads proper in order to link it with another ballad of a pilgrim, number 292, “En los tiempos que me vi” which, while interesting, has no similarities to this ballad, and nothing to do with Charlemagne.

323, COUNT GRIFOS LOMBARDO. Class V. “En aquella peñas pardas”
Count Grifos is captured by Charlemagne’s knights for raping a girl on pilgrimage to Saint James, who was daughter of a duke, and niece of the Pope. He is thrown in the dungeon, and is sentenced to marry his victim.
Grifone is a common name for Maganzans and other traitors. Probably this is one of them, and not Grifone the son of Oliver. According to some early traditions, Bernardo del Carpio was begotten  under similar circumstances.
There two ballads in the oral tradition, which seem to be related to this one, but have lost all connection with Charlemagne. In one the knight is rescued from prison by his brother. In the other, he is sentenced to be hanged at midnight. As he is being led out, he calls for his nephew. His nephew’s wife, however, is the king’s daughter, and tells her husband that it is merely the howling of a dog he hears, and so the nephew arrives too late to save the count. He swears vengeance, and kills his wife, cuts off her breasts, shows them to the king, and proceeds to kill the king, the queen, the princess, and all the courtiers he can find. He then embalms his uncle and sits him on the throne.

DOUBTFUL AND SEMI-CAROLINGIAN BALLADS

299, THE ADULTERER CHASTISED. Class V. “Ay qué linda que eres, Alba”
Count Grifos and Alba have an assignation, when her husband Albertos returns early from hunting. He hides in the closet, and she tries to explain why she is blushing, why Grifos’ armor and horse are present, but fails and dies of terror.
Duran seems to think this is the same Grifos as in 323. I don’t see why. See Child’s Ballads No. 274 “Our Goodman” for everything you could ever want to know about this kind of ballad.

298, THE ADULTERER CHASTISED.  Class III. “Blanca sois, señora mia”
A knight and lady have an assignation, when her husband the Count returns early from hunting. The lady tries to explain why she is blushing, why someone’s armor and horse are present, but when he asks whose lance is in the hall, confesses.
Wright.
A version of 299. Again, see Child.

319, THE DISCONSOLATE AND JEALOUS LOVER. Class V. “Caballero, si á Francia ides”
A lament of a woman, asking a cavalier to go to France and tell her lord to come rescue her.
Either an imitation of Melisendra’s laments in Sansueña, or those same laments genericized.

5, PRINCESS SEVILLA AND PERANZULES. Class V. “Sevilla está en un torre”
Princess Sevilla climbs the highest tower of in Toledo, whence she beholds a knight riding towards the city, with seven chained Moors in tow. Another Muslim knight is chasing him, catches up with him, and announces that the captives are his father and brothers, and offers to pay a ransom, or failing that, to duel for them. Peranzules, the Christian knight, overthrows him, beheads him, and leads his prisoners into Toledo to present to Sevilla.
In oral versions, the religion of the two combatants and the victor are highly variable. The Jewish versions tend to make the Muslim win.
The late lamented Samuel Armistead, who probably knew more about the Sephardic Jews’ folklore than anyone else ever has or will, thinks it very possible that this ballad is descended from the scene in Aliscans where William of Orange, sole survivor of a rout of Christians and disguised in Muslim armor, seeks admittance to Orange from his wife Guiborc. She is suspicious, and notices a band of pagans leading Christian captives over the field. They have just ravaged Toledo. She bids William prove his identity by rescuing them, he does so, and sends the freed Christians back to Orange while he pursues those Muslims who have fled.

330, THE TRAITOR MARQILLOS, AND BLANCA-FLOR. Class III. “Cuán traidor eres, Marquillos!”
Marquillos kills his lord and comes to his lady Blanca-Flor’s bed. She begs only one favor: that he not sleep with her till dawn. He, being a gentleman, agrees. When he falls asleep, Blanca-Flor stabs him.
Part of the May Colvin/Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight family [Child 4]. It is only included here because the names, though not the plot, seem to be borrowed from some version of The Dog of Montargis.

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The Legend of Ottaviano del Lione

The legend of Ottaviano del Lione, son of Fioravante, is to be found in the following verisons:

I Reali di Francia: an Italian compilation of Carolingian legends, by Andrea da Barberino. Book III is devoted to the adventures of Ottaviano. An abridged translation by Max Wickert can be found on his website, here.

Fioravante: an Italian prose romance which covers the same ground as Books I, II, and III of the Reali, with some differences. Between 1315 and 1340. To be found in Rajna’s work I reali di Francia. [Volume I:] Ricerche intorno ai reali di Francia, seguite dal libro delle storie di Fioravante e dal cantare di Bovo d’Antona. An analysis comes first, and the Fioravante is stuck in at the end. Also can be found in Romanzi dei Reali di Francia, edited by Adelaide Mattaini.

I REALI DI FRANCIA

Gisberto of the Fierce Visage reigns in France, and his brother Ottaviano del Lione in Scondia. Ottaviano hears word that his father-in-law, Sultan Danebruno of Babylon [Cairo] is dead. He and his brother depart to claim his wife’s inheritance. Danebruno, it turns out, is not dead, though he is 150, and he leads his army against the Franks. Ottaviano kills him, and spends the next three years conquering the Orient. He besieges Babylon, but cannot take it for eighteen years. He goes to Jerusalem, meanwhile, and an angel tells him his line will do wonders for Christ. In this time, his wife Angaria gives birth to a son, named Bovetto . When Bovetto is fifteen and can bear arms, Ottaviano is poisoned by a woman who thought she was giving him a love philtre. After two more years, Bovetto takes Babyon [Cairo], upon which all the hosts of Pagandom unite to drive him out, and he retreats to Jerusalem, where he is besieged.

Gisberto, for his pride, is stricken with leprosy. He leaves his wife and son Michael in the care of the aging Riccieri, and wanders in Spain. Riccieri rescues Bovetto, who returns to Scondia to reign. Gisberto, after seven years in the woods, is cured, just in time to save Queen Sibilla of Articana from the besieging King Carianus of Lusintania [Portugal]. She converts and they are wed. King Libanorus leads an army to avenge his beheaded brother. The royal couple flee, but are betrayed at a castle near Saragossa. Luckily, the daughter of the castellan falls in love with Gisberto, and sends a message to Paris. An army arrives, led by the children of characters from Fioravante, and battle is joined outside the castle wherein Gisberto is held. In the heat of the fight, the castellan’s daughter releases Gisberto, who saves the day for the Christians. The castellan chooses execution over conversion, but his daughter Galiziana is baptized Diamia, and is wed to the squire who took the message.

Gisberto returns to his kingdom, and has peace for five years. But then, Alfideo of Milan, son of Durante, is attacked, and calls for aid. The fight is valiant, Bovetto distinguishes himself, but Gisberto is killed by a poisoned arrow. Alfideo, nonetheless, wins the war, and Gisberto’s son Michele is crowned.

Bovetto has a wife, Alibranda, daughter of Gulion of Bavaria. They have a son, Guido. Bovetto decides to conquer the English, who have overrun Britain and driven the Britons to Brittany. He does so, deciding to live in Antona [Southampton]. When Guido is sixteen, King Adramans of Frisia decides it is time to marry off his fifteen year old daughter Feliziana. He holds court, to which many come. She loves none of her suitors, however, but falls in love with Bovetto by report, notwithstanding religious differences. She sends a letter to him, and he comes and wins the tournament being held in Frisia. Her cousin walks in on the two of them kissing, and Bovetto kills him, and flees with Feliziana. Adramans pursues, and lays siege to London, before being defeated after a few months. Adramans disguises himself and wanders England, until he gains admittance before Bovetto, as a beggar, and stabs him to death. Bovetto kills him before he dies, and so Guido becomes king. Feliziana marries one of his noblemen.

Michael, not long after dies, leaving the Empire to his son Gostantino Agnolo. He has two sons, Lione and Pipino. Liking Pipino better, he leaves France to him. But at a feast one day, Rinieri of Maganza, who wanted to marry Feliziana, quarrels with Guido, who kills him. This is the origin of the feud between the Maganzans and Guido’s descendants, for Rinieri left two sons, Duodo and Alberigo. Guido lives long in exile, and, though his source does not says so, Andrea thinks this must be the reason he did not marry until his old age. Gostantino Agnolo dies, leaving the Empire to Lione, and France to Pipino. Pipino pardons the now over-sixty Guido, who marries Brandoria, daughter of King Ottone of Bordeaux.

 FIORAVANTE

Ottaviano makes war not in Egypt, but in Macedonia. He begot Bovetto by Argulia, who begot Guido d’Antono, who megot Buovo d’Antona, who begot the twins Guido and Sinibaldo, and King Guglielmo  of England. Guglielmo begot Bernard of Monchiere, and Duke Busone. Busone begot Girardo dalla Fratta, and Duke Mellone. Mellone begot Don Buoso and Don Chiaro. Girardo da Fratta begot Arnaldo of Berlanda, Rinieri of Gineva [father of Olivier and Alda], Mellone of Puglia, and Girardo of Vienna. This is the House of Monglane.

Bernardo of Monchiere begot Duodo of Nantoil [Doon de Nanteuil], Mellone [father of Orlando], Otto [father of Astolfo], Asmone of Dornona [Aymon], Buovo d’Agrismonte [father of Malagise and Viviano]. And Girardo da Rossiglione. Duodo begot Guarnieri di Nantoia, who begot Guido di Nantoia [Guy de Nanteuil]. Girardo da Rossiglione befot Anseigi il Bianco. This is the House of Chiaramonte.

Arnaldo da Berlanda begot Amerigo di Nerbona [Aymeri of Narbonne], who begot seven sons, [as this genealogy differs in nothing from the standard French version, we will omit it here, and give it in a future post dealing with William of Orange and his family].

Gisberto’s only adventure after his sojourn in the woods is killing a dragon en route to Paris. The war in Lombardy is not mentioned, and Bovetto’s conquest of England is disposed of in a sentence; it took fifteen years. Gisberto begot Agnolo Michele, who had no sons, so the kingdom passed to his seneschal’s son Pipino [Some MSS have Agnolo Michele begetting Pipino.]. Pipino begot three bastards: Lanfroi, Orderigi, and Berta, and one legitimate son, Charlemagne. Charlemagne begot King Aluigi the Pious, and Aluizia who married Elia [Elie of Saint-Giles] and bore him Aiolfo [Aiol].

THE SOURCES OF THE LEGEND

This is a purely literary invention, either by Andrea or some other writer, to fill the gap between Floovant and Bevis. It is the dullest section of the Reali.

Let thus much suffice for Ottaviano, and let us now speak of his namesake the Emperor Octavian.

Or else, let us speak of his backstory, and his father Floovant.

The Legend of Floovant

The legend of Floovant, son of King Clovis, is to be found in the following versions:

Floovant: an Old French poem. c. 1200. Alexandrines, assonanced. Last edited in 1938, by Frederick Bateson. Translated by the incomparable Michael Newth, in his Heroines of the French Epic.
I Reali di Francia: an Italian compilation of Carolingian legends, by Andrea da Barberino. Books I and II are devoted to the adventures of Fiovo and Fiorvante. An abridged translation by Max Wickert can be found on his website here.
Fioravante: an Italian prose romance which covers the same ground as Books I, II, and III of the Reali, with some differences. Between 1315 and 1340. To be found in Rajna’s misleadingly titled work I reali di Francia. [Volume I:] Ricerche intorno ai reali di Francia, seguite dal libro delle storie di Fioravante e dal cantare di Bovo d’Antona. An analysis comes first, and the Fioravante is stuck in at the end. Also can be found in Romanzi dei Reali di Francia, edited by Adelaide Mattaini.
Floovant: Two fragments survive of a Dutch poem. To be found in Germania, volume IX, pp. 407-436.
Flovents Saga: An Icelandic prose version. Translated into Latin by J. Olaf in 1732, which can be found in Appendix 1 of De Floovante; vetustiore gallico poemate et de merovingo cyclo.
Flovins rima: A Faeroese ballad, based on the saga. To be found in volume 5 of Corpus Carminum Faeroensium. I cannot read Faeroese, nor can I find any details about this ballad in any of the half-dozen languages I do read, and thus can tell you nothing about it.
Floresvento: A Portuguese ballad, of some antiquity. To be found in Romancero hispánico, I, 261-262; by Menèndez Pidal.

FLOOVANT

Floovant, the oldest son of King Clovis of France, is committed to the care of the Duke of Bourgogne. He cuts the duke’s beard while he is asleep. The duke complains to the king, who is about to order Floovant executed when the Queen persuades him to reduce the sentence to seven years’ exile. Floovant leaves, intending to offer his services to King Flore of Ausai, who is fighting the Saracens. On the way, he rescues a maiden (who turns out to be Flore’s daughter Florete) from three Saracen robbers. As they ride on, he meets the Saracen giant Fernagu, son of King Galien, who tries to steal the lady. Here there is a gap in the MS. What follows in italics is hypothetically supplied from fragments and from other versions. Fernagu has four minions to help him. Luckily, Floovant’s squire Richier has been seeking him, and arrives at this juncture. The Saracens are slain. The three Christians arrive at Beaufort, where Flore greets them and makes Floovant his general. Florete gives Floovant the sword Joyeuse. Floovent, Richier, and Urbain the Allemand [German] besiege Avenant.

Maugalie, daughter of Galien, falls in love with Florete. After beating back a Saracen sortie, Floovant returns to Flore’s court, where he refuses all honors and the love of Florete. He returns to the siege and takes Avenant. He keeps Maugalie under his protection. Galien hears of this. Meanwhile, Flore and his sons Maudaran and Maudoire take possession of Avenant and offer Florete’s hand to Floovant. Florete and Maugalie meet and quarrel. Flore and his children leave the castle in Floovant’s hands. The princes agree to betray him to Galien. That king retakes Avenant, capturing his daughter and her lover. Richier escapes with Joyeuse. At Maugalie’s plea, Floovant is thrown in the dungeon instead of being hanged. Richier kills a man on the road, then stays at the castle of Emelon, who turns out to be the deceased’s father. The father forgives him, after a fight. He comes to Baume, where he disguises himself as a Moor, pretends to be an escaped captive, and joins the Saracen camp. Meanwhile, Galien has captured twelve French barons and thrown them in jail with Floovant. Richier slips away to comfort them. Maugalie sees him, confronts him, and agrees to help the Christians escape if Floovant marries her. Galien, meanwhile, has promised her to Maudaran. The French escape, and ride for Beaufort with Galien in pursuit. At Beaufort, Flore and his army ride out to the rescue. The Pagans flee, and Maugalie is baptized and married to Floovant. Richier marries Princess Florete. Galien, furious, decides to besiege Clovis in Laon instead. Floovant and company ride to the rescue, saving Emelon from Saracen raiders on the way. Clovis’ other two sons have betrayed him. One is killed, but Geté, the other, flees to Baume and succeeds Galien as king. Floovant and Maugalie become king and queen of France.

I REALI DI FRANCIA                         

The primary focus of this analysis will be the differences from Floovant.

Fiorello, son of Fiovo, son of Emperor Gostatino who was baptized by Pope Sylvester in 322, is king of France. Riccieri is duke of Sansogna. Fiorello marries Biancadora of Bavaria. His brother Fiore is king of Dardenna and father of Lione, Lionello, and Uliana. At age 20, Biancadora gives birth to Fioravante, who has a cross-shaped birthmark on his right shoulder, as Bevis of Hampton, Charlemagne, Orlando, and William of Orange later would. Fioravante cuts the beard of Salardo of Brettagnia, because he snores. The Queen gives her son Gioiosa [Joyeuse] when he is banished, and sends the Paladin Riccieri after him. The princess Fioravante rescues is Uliana, his cousin, and her father is fighting King Balante of Balda. He calls himself Guerrino, so she won’t recognize him. He fights with Finau, the son of King Galerano, whence Riccieri rescues him, killing Finau.

After killing a rogue who tried to rob them, they come to Dardenna, fight King Mambrino, nephew of Balante, and are succored by Tibaldo di Lime [Urbain the Allemand]. They present Uliana to her father, and she marries Tibaldo. King Fiore’s sons are Lione and Lionello, who betray Fioravante and Riccieri to Balante and Galerano. Balante’s daughter Drusolina and Galerano’s daughter Galerana fall in love with Fioravante. When the prince indicates his preference for Drusolina, Galerana retires to her chamber and dies of grief. Drusolina throws her body into the moat and pretends that she tripped and fell. Tibaldo di Lime takes the news to Fiore, and then summons Emperor Arcadio and Pope Innocent Albanus [this is the year 345, according to the book] to send an army. At the siege, Tibaldo kills the traitors Lione and Lionello, but Balante kills him and King Fiore. Drusolina, after being baptized, releases her beloved Fioravante and Riccieri to aid the Christians. Galerano is killed in the ensuing fight, and Balante flees, taking his wife and daughter with him. Fiorello inherits the kingdom, and Fioravante and Riccieri return home. The Queen wishes her son to wed Salardo’s daughter. Fioravante makes excuses, and leaves to find his beloved Drusolina.

On the road, his squire steals his horse and sword [Durindarda here, introduced out of nowhere]. Fioravante recovers them, and travels to Scondia. Here the son of the Sultan of Babylon [Cairo] is besieging that city, for love of Drusolina. He fends off the advances of a damsel who dies for love of him, and takes service with Balante, pretending [to all except Drusolina] to be a knight who has killed Fioravante and stolen his armor. He wins the war, peace is made, but his identity is revealed, and Balante throws his savior in prison. Drusolina and her mother help him escape, and the lovers flee to Monfalcon, where Balante besieges them.

Meanwhile, Fiorello, Fioravante’s father and king of France, dies. Since all think Fioravante is dead, too, they wish to crown Riccieri. But the court jester knows where the prince is, but only reveals it after being promised the Countess of Flanders as wife in exchange for the information. Riccieri, the Emperor Arcadio [the 41st emperor, says the book] and the Pope ride to the rescue. They save the day again. Balante is defeated and baptized, and Fioravante takes his love back to France and weds her.

The Queen Mother, the Countess of Flanders, and Salardo’s wife and daughter all hate Drusolina. It happens that a poor widow comes begging to the court, with her twin infants. Drusolina remarks that this cannot happen without adultery. Fioravante rebukes her for saying so, and informs her that a woman can have up to seven children at a birth, and adultery has nothing to do with it.

Soon enough, the princess herself gives birth to twin sons. Shortly thereafter the Queen Mother orders a servant named Antonio to wait in Drusolina’s room while she sleeps, and brings Fioravante to see. He, enraged, immediately kills Antonio, but can’t kill his wife or children, thanks to Drusolina’s prayer to Mary. Riccieri runs in, and calms Fioravante down. The king sentences his wife and children to burn at the stake. The fire, however, does not hurt her, but does spread to the Queen Mother’s palace. Riccieri rescues Drusolina, and flees with her and the babies to the forest. He leaves her in a safe place to try to talk sense into Fioravante. As Drusolina sleeps, Giogante the thief steals one baby, and a lion the other.

Giogante is captured and hanged, and the boy given to a merchant of Paris named Chimento, who names him Gisberto Fier Visaggio [Gisbert of the Fierce Face] and raises him as his own. When Gisberto is eighteen, he takes part in a tournament, and is taken into favor by King Fioravante, and eventually made seneschal. Meanwhile, Saint Mark, disguised as a lion, accompanies Drusolina and her other son, Ottaviano del Lione, back to Scondia, where, unrecognized, the three live at king Balante’s court. She takes the name Rosana. Old Danebruno, the Sultan of Babylon [Cairo] hears the news, and demands that such a wondrous lion be sent to him. When Rosana refuses, he sends his son to besiege Scondia, which is not far from Bruges. [remember that Saxon and Saracen are interchangeable in old romances, and this makes much more sense]. Ottaviano captures the young Sultan, makes peace, and takes his daughter for wife. During the war, Balante’s vassal, the giant Giliante, had revolted. Now Balante and Ottaviano subdue him. Then they make war on Fioravante. That king and Riccieri are captured and thrown in prison, where Drusolina recognizes them. Gisberto and Ottaviano duel, but Saint Mark throws off his disguise, parts them, and reveals all. Balante is baptized [again?] and leaves his kingdom to Ottaviano. Fioravante’s mother is burnt at the stake. Fioravante himself lives three more years, then dies, leaving France to Gisberto. Drusolina dies five years after.

FIORAVANTE

Shorter than the version in the Reali, but follows it very closely, according to Bateson, and the more reliable Rajna.

THE DUTCH FLOOVANT FRAGMENTS

Fragment 1: Galien and the Saracens are besieging Floovant, Margalia, and the twelve Peers. Flure of Antsai, Duke Hemelioen of Bavaria, Ritzier, and Lucari the hermit arrive with an army. Maugalie helps the French escape, and they triumph. Margalia is crowned, and marries Floovant. Ritzier marriers Fleur di rose [evidently Flure’s daughter]. Galien lays siege to Paris with fifteen kings. Clovis, however, isn’t there, so Galien besieges Laon instead. He builds Purlepont to stop the army from Anstai. Clovis wishes that he hadn’t banished Floovant for offending Salvaerd. With his sons Germin and Severin, and the castellan Rigant, he makes a sally.

Fragment 2: Claude, the Queen, on the walls, sees an army coming. All in the city arm. Clovis’ son Disdier joins Galien, who has promised him Bavaria. He almost kills Severin, but Rigant takes the blow and is slain. Floovant, with army and Joyeuse, arrives. Hemelioen, Lucari, and Flure are killed. Ritzier kills Disdier and Galien. After winning the battle, he announces his intent to turn hermit.

FLOVENTS SAGA

Flovent, sister’s son of Emperor Constantine the Great, spills wine on a noble at a feast, and kills him in the ensuing fight. He flees with his squires Otunus and Jofrierus, as Constantine pursues. Flovent overthrows him and steals his horse. The three fugitives meet a hermit, who has been told by angels to send them on to France, to aid and convert King Florent. They meet four pagan bandits on the road and kill three. Coming on, they stop at a castle, where they are recognized for Christians. They flee, slaying many. On the road again, they rescue Angsueis, the son of Constantine’s brother, from pagans, and all four go to Paris. At the siege, Flovent captures King Corsablinus. King Florent and his army make a sally, and raise the siege. The four newcomers refuse all reward, and ransom Corsablinus for much gold. The news travels to Salatres in Corbolium, father of Corduban and Marsibilia. They besiege Paris. Flovent kills Carduban, and the pagans flee. Salatres arrives with reinforcements. They also flee, but take Otunus prisoner. Marsibilia lets Otunus escape, on condition that he carry a token of her affection to Flovent. He does so. King Floret offers his daughter to Flovent, who stalls. He plans to lure the pagans into an ambush outside Corbolium. It is a success, and he takes Salatres prisoner. His two sons raise an army and march on Paris. They kill King Floret, but retreat. Flovant leads an army to Corbolium. Salatres surrenders the city, and gives Marsibilia to Flovent, with much land. Marsibilia is baptized and wed. Flovent returns to Paris, destroys the idols, and converts the people. Meanwhile, the Spaniards are attacking Rome. Flovent comes to the rescue, is reconciled with his uncle, and the Pope crowns him King of France. He reigns long, beloved by all.

FLOVENS RIMA

I cannot find any summary of this ballad, nor can I read the Faeroese in which it is written. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

FLORESVENTO

Floresvento burns seven cities and deflowers seven high-born maidens on Christmas Eve. His father wishes to execute him. His mother succeeds in having the sentence commuted to banishment. His father forbids anyone to sell him food. Later, Floresvento discovers his wife Branca’s two lovers hiding in her bedroom; she asks him to kill her then and there. He spares her.

 THE ORIGIN OF THE FLOOVANT LEGEND

No one is sure. The truth appears to be a combination of the following theories and the ever-fertile imagination of minstrels.

Theory 1: The song was inspired by Dagobert I, known to French children as Le Bon Roi Dagobert. According to legend, he cut off the beard of Sadragesile, duke of Aquitaine, who was his tutor and was plotting to usurp the throne. In real life, Dagobert did indeed marry the Saxon serving-girl Nanthilde, and made war on the still-pagan Saxons.

Theory 2A: The historical Clovis had four sons. One of them, Clotaire, fought the Saxons in 555 and 556, whereupon his brother Childebert attacked his territory and besieged Laon. Also, the plot of Floovant is very similar to that of Lohier and Mallart, and Lohier is the same name as Clotaire.

Theory 2B: Clovis’ other son, Theuderic, who also warred against the Pagans. [Incidentally, his son Theudebert killed the historical Hygelac, from Beowulf, in this war.] Theuderic also warred, with his brothers, against the Burgundians, and married their princess Suavegotha.

The French Floovant was probably written between 1170 and 1200, after Fierabras and La Chevalerie Ogier, but before Auberi le Bourgoing. There is no consensus on the relations of the various versions, probably because there have been few studies since the 1930’s. It is clear, however, that the Portuguese ballad came from the Italian.

Let this much suffice for Floovant, and let us now speak of his son Ottaviano dal Lione.

Or else, let us speak of his backstory, and his father Fiovo.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 7: Ballads Based on the Italian Epics 2

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

BALLADS FROM THE ITALIAN EPICS

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR THE ORLANDO INNAMORATO AND THE ORLANDO FURIOSO. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Continue reading

Book I, Canto IV, Part 3

41
Rinald left his battalion in the hands
Of King Ivone and of good Alard,
Then climbed a height, and all the battle scanned.
And saw that giant strike our men so hard,
And how he was so terrible and grand.
There was no time to waste. He sent a guard
To bid Alardo come without delay,
Then spurred Baiard and rode into the fray.

42
The giant’s armor was nor chain nor plate
But dragon-hide, so that he was not hurt
Though Don Rinaldo struck a blow so great
His giraffe and he were tumbling in the dirt.
He spurs Baiard into the tumult straight,
And with Fusberta doth his strength exert.
The Christian troops upon their foemen fall,
The Saracens have no relief at all.

43
Across the plain they scatter in despair,
And leave their tattered banner where it lies.
Perhaps two hundred thousand flee from there.
Now see the terrible Alfrera rise,
Who’s still so dreadful he’s beyond compare,
But when he sees how his battalion flies,
He follows them, but I do not know why;
Perhaps to rally them, perhaps to fly.

44
Meanwhile Rinaldo on the rear-guard smote.
To right and left he slashes with his brand.
He cuts off arms and slices open throats;
Heads, still in helmets, on the greensward land.
Just like a panicked, fleeing flock of goats
They seem now, flying from Rinaldo’s hand.
Still greater deeds he’ll have to do anon,
For King Faraldo and his troops come on.

45
Of all Arabia this king has holder,
And seemed unrivalled for his great puissance,
But on that day his strength had no beholders,
Because Rinaldo promptly drave his lance
In through his ribs and out between his shoulders,
Then spurred Baiard without a backwards glance
Among the Arabs, and in their despite
He cut and hacked them down to left and right.

46
Rinaldo had beside him many knights
And warriors, whose courage matched his own.
Guizard and Ricciardet on left and right,
Alardo, Angiolier, and King Ivon.
Now Serpentino’s soldiers join the fight.
The cavaliers’ prowess and valor shone.
But of them all, Rinaldo was the flower.
No one could stand against his mighty power.

47
Every soldier of Arabia flees,
Upon their camels and their dromedaries.
Rinaldo chases them more than a league.
Now comes Framarte, Persia’s king, who carries
His golden banner, waving in the breeze.
The Lord of Montalban sees him, nor tarries
To lay his lance in rest and to attack;
He drove it seven feet beyond his back.

48
The might king upon the plain falls dead,
His troops’ advance into retreat is changed.
Gallant Rinaldo followed where they fled,
And with Fusberta struck down all in range.
Behold advancing Orion the dread.
You never saw a man as wild or strange,
As was this coal-black giant Orion.
He wore no mail; his skin was hard as bone.

49
The mighty giant, God confound him, ran
Into the fight. His weapon was a tree.
He split and scattered all the Christian band,
No shields avail against this enemy.
Rinaldo, seeing things get out of hand,
And fearful lest his men should turn and flee,
Sounds the retreat, and leads away his troop,
So he can start to rally and regroup.

50
But while the lords to hasty counsel draw,
And draw their men up and reform the ranks,
They scarce laid lance in rest before the saw
Alfrera come once more upon the Franks,
With troops so many they were filled with awe.
Behold arriving on their other flank
The great Balorza; with so great a host
That each brigade could seven thousand boast.

51
So great a cry went up from this vast horde,
It shook the earth, the heavens, and the sea.
Ivon and Serpentin and every lord
Said that they ought to call for their relief.
Rinaldo said: “I am not in accord.
You, if you wish, may call for aid or flee,
And I alone (this is no idle boast)
Will rout and overthrow th’entire host.”

52
And with these words, the knight his parley ceases.
He grinds his teeth and rides into the fight.
Shortly, the hero’s lance is split in pieces.
He draws Fusberta and shows so much might
He clearly needs no help. His wrath increases,
And in his arrogance he cries on height,
“Flee, vile rabble, here no longer dwell,
Or I today will send you all to Hell!”

53
Marsilio from the mountain saw the crew
Uncountable of enemies arrive.
He sent a messenger to Ferragu
To bid him join the fight and fiercely strive.
Rinald by now was lost to his friends’ view,
Among his foemen whom he rent and rived,
Covered with heathen blood from head to toe.
None ever met so terrible a foe.

54
And now the battle grows intenser still.
Don Ferraguto is beyond compare
The best of Pagans, fighting him, fared ill.
Morgant and Matalista gamely fare,
And Isolier, all strong and highly skilled.
The Amirant and Argalif are there,
To succor Don Alardo and Serpentino,
Ivon and Ricciardet and Angelino.

55
The King Balorza, of the dusky face,
Tucks Ricciardetto underneath his arm,
And keeps on fighting, nor doth slack his pace
Nor do his blows deal any bit less harm.
The knights attempt to rescue him apace,
But the fierce giant is no whit alarmed.
Alard, Ivon, and Angelin move in
At once against him, but he simply grins.

56
The terrible Alfrera has uplifted
Don Isolier off of his steed in spite.
To him has Ferragu’s attention shifted;
He won’t give up his friend without a fight.
Although it’s true the Spaniard’s horse is gifted,
He cannot hope to match Alfrera’s flight,
For his giraffe, that creature most bizarre,
Outpaces any horse alive by far.

57
No man is grabbed by cruel Orion,
Who slays a multitude with his great tree.
The blood he’s covered with is not his own.
Lances and swords can never make him flee,
Because his skin is harder far than bone.
Now let us turn back to Rinald the free,
Whose showed clearly that he was upset
To see Balorza carry Ricciardet.

58
If soon Rinaldo doesn’t bring relief,
Then nevermore will he display his strength.
He nearly dies from agony and grief,
He and his brother by such love are linked.
In his great wrath the hero grinds his teeth,
And rolls his eyes up, and is on the brink
Of madness, but I have to leave him here,
For of another thing you ought to hear.

59
I told you how in Barcelona town
Grandonio stayed, and stoutly had defied
The Indians, and he who wore their crown,
Who pressed the city upon ev’ry side.
Turpin within his hist’ry wrote this down,
Because no war was e’er so fiercely plied.
The city is well seated for defense.
Now could you see the mighty siege commence.

60
At midday, where the waters lap the sand,
Rested an army of infinite power.
The elephants were lined up on the land,
And each of them bore on its back a tower.
The black-skinned archers’ volley was so grand
That ev’ry Spaniard on his belly cowered.
They rise, and flee for terror one and all.
Grandonio stands alone upon the wall.

The Legend of Fiovo

The legend of Fiovo, ancestor of Charlemagne and most of the Paladins, is to be found in the following versions:

I Reali di Francia: an Italian compilation of Carolingian legends, by Andrea da Barberino. Books I and II are devoted to the adventures of Fiovo and Fioravante. An abridged translation of the Reali by Max Wickert can be found on his website, here.

Fioravante: an Italian prose romance which covers the same ground as Books I, II, and III of the Reali, with some differences. Between 1315 and 1340. To be found in Rajna’s misleadingly titled work I reali di Francia. [Volume I:] Ricerche intorno ai reali di Francia, seguite dal libro delle storie di Fioravante e dal cantare di Bovo d’Antona. An analysis comes first, and the Fioravante is stuck in at the end. Also can be found in Romanzi dei Reali di Francia, edited by Adelaide Mattaini.

I REALI DI FRANCIA

Emperor Gostantino [Constantine] a pagan, persecutes Pope Sylvester. He is then stricken with leprosy, but refuses his doctors’ advice to cure it with the blood of children. This is pleasing to God, who sends Saints Peter and Paul to tell the Emperor that Sylvester can cure him. Sylvester comes out of hiding to baptize and cure Gostantino. Rome converts to Christianity. At a banquet, Gostantino’s son Gostanzo, who has changed his name to Fiovo in baptism, spills wine on his distant cousin Saleone, who strikes him. Fiovo goes and cries in his bedroom. Giambarone, of the line of Scipio, finds him there and bids him seek revenge. Fiovo stabs Saleone to death and flees. Gostantino pursues, but Fiovo unhorses him, takes his horse, and continues his flight. Wandering in the woods, he comes to a hermit, who feeds him. Giambarone and Sanguino, a cousin of Fiovo’s, find him there. The hermit turns out to be Sansone, the brother of Emperor Lucino who married Gostantino’s sister Gostanza, and of Lucina, who married Gostantino. [Costo and Gostantino II, Fiovo’s brothers, are by another wife]. An angel presents the banner Oro e fiamma, [the Oriflamme] to Sansone and announces that whoever wields this standard will have the victory, so long as it is never used against Christians. The four knights now leave and come to Milan, where they defeat and convert the pagan Artilla and his army. Artilla is baptized Durante.

This is after the days of King Arthur [!], and the English have conquered Britain and driven the Britons to Brittany. Outside of Rome, Brittany, and a few colonies in Armenia and India, all the world is Pagan. The four knights come to Provence, where they fight for King Nerino against his brother the Duke of Sansogna [Saxony?]. Thanks to the Oriflamme, they win. Fiovo marries Brandoria, the Duke’s daughter and a warrior in her own right. He has two sons, Fiorello, and Fiore. The third year King Nerino dies, and Fiovo becomes king. Seven years after this, the Duke dies, and Fiovo inherits both territories.

One of his barons, Gilfroy the Strong, secedes to join King Fiorenzo of France, the last of the line of the Trojan Franco, who came to this country after the Trojan War. After a battle, in which Brandoria distinguishes herself, Fiorenzo is killed, ending the Trojan line. Fiovo takes Paris, converts the French, and becomes king. Sanguino marries Fiorenzo’s daughter Soriana. Giambarone sends to Rome for his wife and his son Riccieri, who becomes the first Paladin of France. Soriana incites Sanguino to try to kill Fiovo, but the plot is discovered, Sanguino killed, and Soriana banished. She wanders to the Jura Mountains, where she gives birth to a boy, Sanguino, and a girl, Maganza. Sanguino grows up to marry one Rosana, and has two sons, Aldoigi and Manfredi, and is eventually reconciled to Fiovo.

Meanwhile, Fiovo, having heard someone criticize King Arthur for not converting any lands to Christianity, decides to convert Dardenna [Arden?]. With his allies, he invades the lower Rhinelands, ruled by King Asiradon of Dardenna, and conquers them after much fighting. They convert, Fiovo is crowned king, and his younger son Fiore marries Asiradon’s daughter Florinda, and their children are Lione, Lionello, and Uliana.

Part II of Book I of the Reali di Francia

Saracens attack Rome, among them King Misperio, who is father of Balante of Balda, of Galerano of Scondia, and of Asiradon of Dardenna. After a siege of a year, Gostantino decides to summon Fiovo. Fiovo and his men ride to the rescue. In a long series of battles, the hermit Sansone is killed, Riccieri is dubbed and distinguishes himself, Fiovo is captured and rescued by Riccieri, and at last truce is made for three months. Danebruno, the soldan of Babylon [Cairo], sends for reinforcements. His ambassador to the kingdom of the recently deceased King Gloriardo gives a description of the 22-year-old Riccieri which causes the deceased’s 14-year-old daughter, Princess Fegra Albana, to fall madly in love with him. She sends him a love letter. Riccieri, equally smitten, goes to Barbary, and the two meet each other’s expectations. He returns to Rome, as secretly as he came. Her brother, King Achirro of Barbary, holds a tournament to marry her off to the winner. Riccieri returns in disguise, wins, but is exposed for a Christian and thrown in prison. Danebruno, having gathered his forces, departs for Italy [this has been an eventful three months!]. Fegra Albana, left alone, releases Riccieri, who returns to Pisa and conquers and converts its king, Folicardo. The two head for Rome, meeting with Fiorello and Fiore on the way. At Rome, in many more long battles, Fiovo kills Achirro, and at last Danebruno retreats to Pagandom. Fiovo remains in Rome with Gostantino, Fiorello is crowned King of France, and Fiore stays king of Dardenna. Riccieri is made duke of Sansogna, and Sanguinio and Maganza are pardoned and restored.

But Danebruno invades Barbary and besieges Fegra Albana and her widowed mother in Tunis. She sends for Riccieri, who comes in disguise and leads the army to victory. After the battle, he makes peace between Danebruno and Barbary, and Fegra Albana’s cousin Filoter is crowned King. Riccieri travels to Egypt to see the Sultan, whence a false report of his death travels back to Tunis, and Fegra Albana kills herself for grief. Riccieri returns to Tunis, is welcomed notwithstanding, and after a year leaves with Filoter and an army, and come to Paris, which for some reason they attack. In the battle, Filoter is killed, and Riccieri rejoins the Christians. The Pagans are routed and flee. Riccieri never marries, for love of Fegra Albana.

FIORAVANTE

In this version, the introduction with Constantine and Sylvester is omitted. Fiovo, the emperor’s nephew, kills Saleone immediately at the banquet, with a too-strong blow. Sansone is unnamed, and unrelated to Fiovo, and dies at the hermitage. The prince’s three companions are Otto and Gilfroy, who left Rome with him, and Ansuigi, who finds him at the hermitage. The four depart, are nearly captured by Pagans, escape, and come to Paris, where King Fiorenzo is besieged by King Salatres of Sansogna. Fiovo rides to the rescue, kills Salatres, and saves the day. The war over, he marries Salatres’ daughter Brandoia, to the grief of Fiorenzo and his daughter. They plot to poison Fiovo, who discovers it, and puts the king to death, taking his land and converting it. The princess is pardoned, married to Ansuigi, and becomes the ancestor of the Maganzans. There is no war against Dardenna; Fiore weds its princess peacefully. Meanwhile, King Salatres’ son has been besieging Rome, to keep the Emperor from aiding Fiovo. Fiovo rescues Rome, thanks to a strong peasant who wields a massive club and captures the enemy king. Fiovo becomes emperor, leaving France to Fiorello. Riccieri and his adventures are omitted.

THE ORIGIN OF THE FIOVO LEGEND

This legend is almost certainly a mere duplication of Floovant, which will be the subject of a future post. As Constantine and Sylvester have no real connection to the Carolingian legend, we will content ourselves with referring our readers to the Catholic Encyclopedia. The origin of the House of Maganza, given here, is probably a literary invention, as are the later wars of Fiovo, and the adventures of Riccieri. Andrea, or someone else, invented them to fill in the gaps at the beginning of the legend of Charlemagne.

Let thus much suffice for Fiovo, and let us now speak of his son Floovant.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads 6: Ballads based on the Italian Epics, 1

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

BALLADS FROM THE ITALIAN EPICS

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR THE ORLANDO INNAMORATO AND THE ORLANDO FURIOSO. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Continue reading

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads 5: The Battle of Roncesvalles

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

394, BATTLE AGAINST MARSIN. Class III. “Domingo era de Ramos”
On Palm Sunday, when the Passion is read, the French met with the Moors in battle. Roldan the Paladin rallied them when they were near to fleeing. Sixty thousand died in the first battle. King Marsin went wandering through the sierras of Altamira. He curses Mahoma, then repents and promises rich offerings if he wins.
No translation.
Apparently a condensation of some lost Spanish epic. A longer version was discovered after Duran’s day, which follows.

THE FLIGHT OF KING MARSÍN. “Ya comiençan los franceses”
The French fight the Moors. Baldovinos complains to Don Beltran about his hunger, thirst, and weariness, and says they must ask Don Roldan to blow his horn and summon the Emperor. Don Roldan refuses his cousins’ request, saying he will never be so shamed, but that they may ask Don Renaldos. Don Renaldos, for his part, says he will never sound his horn for so few Moors as these. The French are heartened, and mow the Moors down like wheat. But then a Moor, born in an evil hour, rallies his countrymen, pointing out that they outnumber the French a hundred to one, saying they will shame Marsin, his queen, and themselves if they flee. The Moors rally and drive back the French. Archbishop Turpin tells the French it is better to die with honor than live with shame, and the French return to the fight. King Marsin went wandering through the Roncesvalles, riding a zebra, not a hack. His blood stains the grass. He curses Mahoma, reminding him how many offerings he had given. An idol with a golden head and silver body and seventy thousand cavaliers. His wife Abrayma gave thirty thousand, his daughter Mataleona fifteen thousand. And now Mahoma has betrayed him and let the paladin Roldan cut his right arm off. Roldan must be enchanted, or he never could have done it. Marsin threatens to turn Christian, and be baptized at Rome by Turpin, with Roldan for godfather. He repents immediately, and asks Mahoma to heal him.
Wright.
Like 394, this is descended from the old Spanish Roncesvalles, the original version of which survives only in one fragment.

395, THE DEATH OF DON BELTRAN IN RONCESVALLES. Class III. “En los campos de Alventosa”
In the fields of Alventosa, they killed Don Beltran, who lay with seven wounds. They cast lots to go look for his body. Seven times a coward gives up the search. Only an old man [his father] continues, cursing Spain, the Moors, the war, and other things. He meets a Moor and asks if he has seen Don Beltran. The Moor directs him to where Beltran is lying dead under a bush.
Rodd.
A slightly different version, beginning “Por la matanza va el viejo” is translated by Wright.

396, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Un gallardo paladin”
Not a ballad, but a lyric. The dauphin of France, in Roncesvalles, laments that he and his men could not defeat Bernardo the Castillian, and that Don Beltrane is dead.
No translation.

397, ON THE SAME SUBJECT Class VIII. “Cuando de Francia partimos”
When we came from France, we lost Don Beltrane. We cast lots seven times who would go look for him, and all seven were cowards who returned having done nothing. His father curses them and laments.
No translation.

398, ROLDAN DIES, UPON SEEING THE WOUNDED AND FLEEING CHARLEMAGNE IN RONCESVALLES. Class VIII. “Por muchas partes herido”
The old Charlemagne, wounded sore, flees after the men of Spain have killed eleven of his Peers. Roldan, who cannot be wounded, is standing by a cross lamenting the defeat, when he sees Charlemagne, and dies of grief.
No translation.

399, THE DEATH OF ROLDAN. Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Apartado del camino”
Orlando [sic], riding alone and wounded after the battle, holds a crucifix, and beseeches God to take his soul, since the French are lost, and El Carpio has bested him and Durindana. He sees Charlemagne, alone, sad, crownless and bloody, and dies of grief.
No translation.
The ballads of Bernardo del Carpio will be given later, following Duran’s editorial decision.

400, LADY ALDA MOURNS THE DEATH OF ROLDAN. Class III. “En Paris está Doña Alda”
Lady Alda is in Paris with her maids. She has a dream that she is standing on a mountain when a falcon takes refuge in her arms from an eagle, only for the eagle to fly at her and kill it. One maid explains that the eagle is Roldan, and the falcon the Saracens. Alda promises her a rich reward if this be true. But the next day letters come, written in blood, telling of the death of Roldan in Roncesvalles.
Gibson, Lockhart.
This is easily the most famous of the Spanish ballads of Charlemagne, outside of Spain. In Spain it has been completely forgotten. In some of the oral versions, Alda dies upon receiving the news. Others replace the falcon with a black heron and the eagle with a sparrowhawk.

401, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Cuando  la triste Doña Alda”
Alda, hearing the news of Orlando’s death, throws herself on her bed, tears her clothes, and laments this at length, her brother Oliveros’ death more briefly, and then dies herself.
No translation.

402, ADMIRAL GUARINOS. Class III “Mala la visteis, franceses”
In an evil hour the French saw Roncesvalles. The twelve Peers were slain, and Admiral Guarinos taken captive. Seven Moorish kings throw lots for him, and seven times Prince Marlotes wins. He offers him much honor if he will turn Moor, besides one of his daughters as wife and the other as serving-maid. Guarinos refuses, and has a wife at him already. Marlotes, furious, throws him in the dungeon. On Saint John’s Day, which Christians and Moors alike celebrate, Marlotes holds a tournament. Guarinos asks his jailer what the noise is about. He answers. Guarinos begs him for a horse and armor to joust in the tourney. The jailer answers that Guarinos has been seven years in the dungeon that no one else has survived one year in, and that he will ask Marlotes about his request. Marlotes, thinking this will be excellent fun, agrees. Guarinos kills many Moors in the tournament, and flees to France, where he is greeted with rejoicing.
Rodd, Gibson, Lockhart.
Duran thinks the germ of the story was the youth of Ogier the Dane at Charlemagne’s court. In the Provencal Ronsavals, Garin of Anseune, who is usually one of the sons of Aymeri of Narbonne, is taken prisoner by the Saracens at Roncesvalles.
In some later versions of this ballad, from oral tradition, Guarismos is captured in an unspecified battle on Saint John’s Day [June 24]. He rejects all the Moors’ bribes to get him to convert, and is finally freed when the Pope sends criers through the city to see who can destroy the castle of San Juare. Guarismos knocks it down and thereby earns his freedom.
This ballad was translated into, of all things, Russian, in 1789 by Nikolai Michailovich Karamzin, where it passed into folklore, much to the puzzlement of nineteenth-century collectors.

NOT IN DURAN:

Roldan urges the French to return to battle. If the grand duke/great count hears they have fled, he will stop their pay and their wives will never love them again. They return and kill a multitude of Moors.
Doubtless akin to 394.

Roldan is killed in battle, and lies in the sand with seven wounds so big that the sun shines through them, and a sparrowhawk could fly through the smallest. Seven men cast lots who shall bury him, and seven times the lot falls on Roldan’s grieving father.
This has evidently been transfered to Roldan from Beltran. Usually Roldan’s father is dead long before Roncesvalles.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 4: Montesinos, Durandarte, and Belerma

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

382, THE BIRTH OF MONTESINOS –I. Class III. “Muchas veces oi decir”
Count Grimaltos is raised at the courts of France, serving first as a page, then as a courtier, finally as chancellor. He marries the king’s daughter, and retires to his fiefs in Leon. Don Tomillas, still at court, accuses Grimaltos of treason. Grimaltos comes to Paris to defend himself, but is banished. The Countess arrives, but her intercession and that of the Peers [Roldan, Oliveros, Estolfo, Valdovinos, old Beltran, Reinaldos, Malgesi, Fincan the Roman, Meridan, etc.] are in vain. The count and countess leave, while all the people weep. Wandering in the wilderness, they find a hermit to stay with. Here the countess gives birth to Montesinos. The family live with the hermit, and the boy is raised and taught all knightly arts, until one day his father takes him for a ride, and they come to Paris.
Duran notes that this is very similar to the birth of Roland. Other authorities note the similarities to a chanson de geste called Aiol.
There is a ballad from oral tradition, which seems to be a distorted version of this one. Count Grismale, a wild man, comes to the court of the [unnamed] king, who gives him a horse and armor, and his daughter in marriage. But envious men slander him, and he is banished with his wife. As they wander in the woods, she dies in childbirth, or of sorrow, or he kills himself so that she can go home. Either way, their child is left orphaned, but two white doves raise him. He grows with prodigious speed, and returns to court, where everyone exclaims that he looks like Don Rondale. The child beheads the king and reigns in his place.
Rodd

383, MONTESINOS IS AVENGED ON TOMILLAS – II. Class III “Cata Francia, Montesinos”
Grimaltos explains that this is Paris, and that the tallest tower is that of Tomillas, his mortal foe. Montesinos gallops off to avenge him at once, though his father shouts after him to wait. The lad storms into court, and denounces Tomillas in front of all the barons and the king. Tomillas tries to strike the youth, who strikes back and kills him. He is seized, but explains who he is, the grandson of the king. All is forgiven, and Grimaltos is restored to his lands and favor.
Rodd

384, MONTESINOS AND ROSAFLORIDA – III. Class I. “En Castilla está un castello”
In Castille is a castle called Rocafrida., where lives Rosaflorida, who rejects all her suitors, because she is in love [by report?] with Montesinos. One night her chambermaid hears her weeping, and Rosaflorida bids her send letters to Montesinos, offering her person and her fiefs.
Gibson, Wright.
The oral tradition preserves this ballad, and gives it a conclusion. Rosaflorida, who lives in a golden castle, sends her message by a watchman, not her chambermaid, offering jewels, mills, slaves, and other gifts, and concluding by begging him, if he won’t marry her, to marry her still more beautiful sister, so that she can at least be near him. Montesinos arrives and introduces himself. Rosaflorida asks about his family, and he answers he is the son of a charcoal burner. She swoons, but when she recovers he explains he was only joking, and that his father is the king of France and his grandfather the king of Seville, or of Turkey. They are soon wed.

385, DURANDARTE OFFENDED AT HIS LADY – IV. Class III. “Durandarte, Durandarte”
Durandarte’s lady asks why he no longer loves her. He answers that it is because she loved Gaiferos while he was away in exile.
Bowring.
Durandarte, as far as anyone can tell, is Durindana, transformed from the name of a sword into the name of a knight.

386, MONTESINOS SEEKS FOR DURANDARTE IN THE BATTLE – I. By Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Por la parte donde vido”
Montesinos is always in the thick of battle [at Roncesvalles], he slays the Moor Albernzayde, but shatters his lance in the process. Looking around for a new one, he sees the battle over, Oliveros and the lord of Braña [Roland] dead. He looks for Durandarte.
Rodd.
Though Montesinos’ birth may be based on that of Roland or Aiol, his adventures at Roncesvalles seem to be purely the invention of the Spanish muse.

387, DURANDARTE, DYING, BIDS MONTESINOS CARRY HIS HEART TO BELERMA. – II. Class III. “Oh Belerma! Oh Belerma!”
Durandarte laments. He has served Belerma seven years, but could not win her favor. He bids his cousin Montesinos keep his old promise, to cut out his heart and carry it to Belerma. He dies, and Montesinos weeps. He cuts the heart out and laments over the body.
Gibson.

388, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. – III. By Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Por el rastro de la sangre”
Montesinos follows the trail of blood, and finds Durandarte under a hedge. Durandarte laments the death of Roldan, and the captivity of Guarinos. He bids Montesinos carry his heart to Belerma, and dies.
Rodd.

389, MONTESINOS, AFTER CUTTING OUT THE HEART, BURIES DURANDARTE. –IV. Class V “Muerto yace Durandarte debajo una verde haya”
Durandarte lies dead, and Montesinos cuts out his heart. He cleans and preserves it, buries his cousin, and rides, sad and pensive, to Paris, to Belerma’s palace.
Rodd.

390, ON THE SAME SUBJECT – V. Class V. “Muerto yace Durandarte al pié de una verde haya”
Durandarte lies dead, and Montesinos cuts out his heart. He cleans and preserves it, buries his cousin, and rides, sad and pensive, to Paris, to Belerma’s palace. He presents the heart. Belerma begs God to pardon Durandarte’s soul.
No translation.
According to Duran, this is a mere modernization of the preceding.

391, ON THE SAME SUBJECT – VI. By Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Echado está Montesinos”
Montesinos weeps for his cousin Durandarte, forgetful of all the disaster of Roncesvalles. He cuts the heart out, and rides to take it to Belerma, as he promised.
No translation.

392, BELERMA RECEIVES THE NEWS OF THE DEATH OF DURANDARTE. – VII. Class VIII. “En Francia estaba Belerma”
Belerma, talking with her damsels in Paris, mentions that Durandarte is a fine warrior, then anxiously explains that she isn’t in love with him or anything. She swoons, and when she revives, thinks it an ill omen. Montesinos arrives, tells the news, and presents the heart.
Rodd.

393, BELERMA LAMENTS THE DEATH OF DURANDARTE – VIII. By Lucas Rodriguez. Class VIII. “Sobre el corazon defunto”
Belerma weeps tears of blood over the heart, and laments.
Rodd.

1893, DURANDARTE DEAD, MONTESINOS CUTS OUT HIS HEART AND SENDS IT TO HIS BETROTHED BELERMA. Class V. “Muerto yace Durandarte”
Montesinos cuts the armor off Durandarte, cuts his heart out, and addresses it in a lament. He goes to Belerma, who laments and dies.
No translation.
Included in the appendix to Duran’s Romancero, through not being noticed earlier.

Read more about Roncesvalles here.

Or here.