Book I, Canto VI, Part 2

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VI, Stanzas 21-40

21
I asked Him to be helped, and not consoled.
A curse upon the ass that did thee bear!
I wouldn’t die if thou wert not so old,
No worser helper could have found me here!”
The friar says, “Alas! Thou baron bold,
I see thou art abandoned to despair.
Thou soon shalt lose thy life, as all must do.
Think of thy soul, and do not lose that, too.

22
Thou seem’st to be a lord of strength and sense,
And in the face of death art thou so weak?
Know thou, that God Almighty’s providence
Never abandons those who for Him seek.
Immeasurable is His omnipotence!
About myself a little shall I speak,
For all my life I’ve never had a doubt of
God’s mercy. Hear what He has brought me out of.

23
I and three friars from Armenia went
At holy shrines in Georgia to seek grace.
We travelled on the road with pure intent,
And came into the kingdom of Circase.
The youngest of us four ahead we sent
So that he could discern for us the way.
When suddenly, we saw him running fast
Towards us, shouting “Help!” with face aghast.

24
Westward, descending from the mount, we saw
A mighty giant with a single eye
Amidst his forehead. Through my shock and fright
The mail he wore I could not well descry,
But I think it was made of dragon hide.
Three javelins and a mace he carried high,
But did not need to use them to entrap us.
Without a fight, we simply let him grab us.

25
He led us to a cavern’s gaping maw,
Where many other prisoners he had.
And once within, with my own eyes I saw
Him grab our erstwhile guide, a tender lad,
And dash his brains out and devour him raw.
I never saw a spectacle so sad.
The brute then looked me and uttered, scowling,
“This tough old geezer isn’t worth the gnawing.”

26
And with his foot he kicked me out the door,
And down a slope all jagged, stark, and grim.
Three hundred feet ‘twas to the valley floor.
In God I trusted, and was saved by Him,
For as I tumbled down, in peril sore,
I found within my hands a sturdy limb,
On a young sapling growing in a cleft.
I clung to this, and ‘neath it took my rest.

27
And there, in silence, keeping still, I waited,
Until the evening faded into night – ”
But as the friar thus his tale related,
He glanced around, and, overcome with fright,
Ran for the woods, and cried, “O wretch ill-fated!
Behold, the wicked monster, whose delight
It is to feast upon the flesh of man.
O worthy knight, I leave thee in God’s hands!”

28
With these words said, no longer did he wait,
But ran and hid himself within the wood.
The fearful giant to the bridge came straight.
His beard and mustaches were soaked with blood.
With his large eye, the region he surveyed.
He saw Orlando, and surprised he stood.
He grabbed him by the arms and stoutly pulled him,
But could not break the chains that did enfold him.

29
“I do not wish to leave so plump a man,”
The giant said, “here lying on the ground.
I ought to boil him like a luscious ram.
But since my dinner I’ve already found,
I’ll only eat his shoulder – if I can.”
Then pondering he cast his eye around,
And saw where Durindan lay on the sand.
He quickly knelt and took it in his hand.

30
His mace of iron and his three great darts
The giant leans against a mighty oak.
Then raises Durindan, that blade so sharp,
And swings with both his hands a mighty stroke.
He doesn’t kill the count, for he is charmed.
But certainly the iron net he broke.
And Don Orlando felt the mighty blow,
So he broke out in sweat from head to toe.

31
But he is so delighted to be free,
That soon he doesn’t feel the pain at all.
He squirms out of the net, and instantly
Runs to the oak, and grabs the club so tall.
The monster’s startled, for he thought that he
Would be as docile as a gelding small.
But now he sees that things are otherwise,
And he will have to fight to win this prize.

32
These two had switched their weapons, as you know.
Orlando of his Durindan is wary,
And so he doesn’t wish to get too close,
But from a distance he the giant harries.
The brute swings downward many fearful blows.
To dodge which, Count Orlando does not tarry.
Now there he dodges, and now here he smites,
But keeps aye Durindana in his sights.

33
He hits him often, but no blood he draws.
The giant doesn’t even feel his blows,
Because his mail is made of griffin’s claws.
No harder  substance on the earth is known.
Orlando wearies, and thinks all is lost;
He can’t endure until three days are flown.
But as he fights on with a sinking heart,
He has a new idea and grabs a dart.

34
One of the darts the brute left on the sward,
Orlando snatches up, and lets it fly.
The aim is true of good Anglante’s lord.
He strikes the center of the giant’s eye.
He had but one, as you have heard before,
Above his nose. He had no time to cry,
Before the dart had driven through his brain.
The brute falls with a crash upon the plain.

35
No further blows are needed; he is dead.
Orlando kneels to give God thanks and praise.
The monk returns, by noise of battle led,
And sees the giant lying on his face.
Even in death, the monster seems so dread,
That back towards the wood he starts to race.
Orlando, laughing, calls him to draw near.
The monk obeys, though trembling with fear.

36
And then he says to him, “O knight of Heaven,
For well thou dost deserve that name to have,
For like a pious baron hast thou striven,
The innocent from that ill fiend to save.
New life unto his captives hast thou given.
Follow, and I will lead thee to his cave.
But if he blocked the entrance with his stone,
Then thou wilt have to open it alone.

37
These words once spoke, he was the baron’s guide,
Towards the cave, which, as he feared, was blocked.
Orlando stood in front, and loudly cried.
The mouth was closed by an enormous rock.
They head a woeful voice from th’other side,
Coming from those inside, that hapless flock.
The rock was square, and of one solid piece.
Each side thereof did span ten feet at least.

38
One and a half feet was the depth of it.
Two chains of iron held it in its place.
A strength and potency nigh infinite
The worthy Count of Brava now displays.
With Durindan the iron chains he split,
And then within his arms the rock he raised;
All of the prisoners he swiftly frees,
Who then resume their journeys as they please.

39
Orlando left the friar and the rest,
And traveled on along a forest trail.
He came where four roads cross, and paused, perplexed.
He stared down each of them, and pondered well
Which of these branching paths to take were best,
To come unto some land wherein men dwell.
As he debates, there comes a herald riding.
The Count him halts, and asks him for his tidings.

40
He says, “I’m coming from among the Medes,
And go to seek the King of Circassy.
Through all the world I travel with my steed,
To find help for my wretched princess. She
Has suffered woes, which I beseech thee heed.
The mighty Emperor of Tartary
Loves her so much, that he’s to madness nigh,
But for her part, she’d gladly watch him die.

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Notes

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Notes to the Sixth Canto, Part 2

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VI, Stanzas 21-40 Notes

23. Georgia, the country north of Turkey and Iraq, next to Armenia. Not the American state.
Circassia is a region east of the Crimean peninsula and north of Georgia and Armenia. It was famous in Boiardo’s day and later as the home of beautiful women who were much sought after by Sultans and other Muslim rulers as excellent additions to a harem. Indeed, selling beautiful virgins as slaves was the primary economic activity of the region up until the Russian Revolution.
24. Dragon hide. This time, Boiardo does use the word “draco”. He never calls the giant a cyclops, though this whole story is inspired by the Odyssey.
40. Media is in what is now northwestern Iran. Tartary was a vaguely defined region North of China, including what are now Mongolia and Siberia. The Tartars were nomads, related to the Mongolians, the Turks, and the Huns.

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On to Part 2

Book I, Canto VI, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VI, Stanzas 1-20

ARGUMENT

Zambardo, dying, springs a booby trap,
And heavy chains around Orlando wind
A giant cannibal him finds, by hap,
Orlando conquers him, then seeks to find
Angelica, but by a fairy’s trap
He is bewitched and made to lose his mind.
The Christian army flees, their foes advance,
And King Gradasso conquers half of France.

1
Now hearken, lordings, to the battle great,
Greater and darker than all others ever,
You’ve heard already how malicious fate
Had brought Orlando to the bridge which never
A knight had left alive. I’ll now relate
How great Zambardo, giant fierce and clever,
Was fighting him, but unaware was he,
Orlando was the best there’d ever be.

2
The knight steps on the bridge and loud defies
Zambard, who bears his iron mace in hand.
Although the count comes only to his thigh,
He makes a mighty leap, so tall and grand,
That he could look the giant in the eye.
Lo, where the giant swings his iron brand!
Orlando sees it from on his descend,
And leaps aside, before his life it ends.

3
The foul Saracen is quite disturbed.
Orlando makes him more unsettled still,
Because he strikes his arm with so much verve,
He dropped his iron mace; to earth it fell.
Now Count Orlando seems just like a bird,
He strikes now here, now there, both swift and well,
But so tough was the dragon-hide turned mail,
That nothing could Orlando’s blows avail.

4
Zambardo, since his mace he cannot get,
Out of his scabbard draws his scimitar.
He sees he’ll clearly have to use his net,
Because this cavalier so fiercely spars,
But he does not desire to use it yet.
He deals the count a backhand blow. So hard
A blow upon his helmet did he beat,
Orlando staggered backward twenty feet.

5
At this, the worthy count is half deranged,
He flushes, and his race by wrath is rent,
His eyes begin to glower fierce and strange,
The fearsome giant’s life is nearly spent.
Orlando strikes so fiercely in his rage,
That mighty Durindan is backwards bent.
Although, as Turpin mentions in this place,
The blade’s width was four fingers at its base.

6
The hero strikes the giant in the waist,
Splitting the dragon-armor, scales and hide.
Within an iron belt was he incased;
The sharp blade effortlessly through it glides.
Beneath his hauberk was his cuirass placed,
But Durindana all of these defied,
And certainly, he had been cleft in twain,
Had he not thrown himself upon the plain.

7
Through cunning, or mischance, he fell to ground,
I don’t know which; at any rate, he fell.
No trace of color in his face was found.
Once he had felt that blow so stout and hale,
He beat upon his breast; his teeth he ground.
He reaches out and grabs his fallen flail.
Towards the Count so skillfully he aims,
Right o’er the breast he strikes him with the chains.

8
That blow knocks down to earth the valiant knight,
And so they lie, each glaring at the other.
Through sprawled out, not yet over is their fight.
Orlando is the foremost to recover
His feet, and grabs the giant’s beard with might,
But he is captured and is nearly smothered.
The felon pinned him close against his chest,
Then stood up, and towards the river pressed.

9
Orlando punched the giant in the face,
For on the ground was Durindana dread.
So hard he struck him, that he left him dazed.
A second time the giant fell as dead.
Immediately the Count broke free. With haste
He wrapped his arms around the giant’s head.
The brute is furious and cannot see,
But nonetheless, upon his feet leaps he.

10
And now the merciless assault renews.
This one has Durindana, that his flail.
Orlando clearly sees that he will lose,
If on the ground he stays, so to assail
His foe, he leaps on high before he hews.
Ho fighter ever had such great travail.
Orlando masterfully wields his sword,
And gives the giant ugly gashes four.

11
Zambardo feigns to strike a back-hand blow,
But in the middle of his swing, he stops.
He sees Orlando stepping back, and so
He presses forward. With both hands he chops.
Orlando cannot leap to safety now.
He hears the chains come whistling as they drop.
The valiant hero is no whit afraid,
But meets the blow impending with his blade,

12
And strikes the mace so hard he shatters it.
And do not think he therefore paused to nap.
He swung his sword into the giant’s hip,
Where earlier his blows had made a gap.
The serpent’s hide already had been split.
What could Zambardo do in such mishap?
For Durindan as swiftly through him clove,
As thunderbolts hurled by Almighty Jove.

13
Thus with his top and bottom parted quite
(What holds him still together’s small, or none)
The giant’s visage turned completely white,
For he saw clearly that his death was come.
With his last strength, he stamps his foot in spite.
Immediately the hidden net upsprung,
And with such strength around the knight it wound,
That he dropped Durindana to the ground.

14
His arms are painfully tied ‘gainst his chest,
So that he can’t move either one at all.
No hempen cords, but iron chains oppressed
The knight. His chances of escape were small.
“O God of Heaven, Virgin ever blest,”
The cavalier exclaimed “For aid I call!”
And as the Count was tangled in the net,
Zambardo tumbled in two pieces, dead.

15
That place is so remote and desolate
That hardly ever does a man pass by.
The Count, tied up beneath the hot sun, waits.
His hope of rescue sickens, faints, and dies.
Gone is his vigor; gone his spirit great.
His strength is useless. Durindana lies
Out of his reach. With neither food nor drink
He lies all day; that night sleeps not a wink.

16
The night wore by, the dawn her light outspread,
His hope grew lower and his famine higher.
But then he heard a noise and turned his head,
And he beheld a snowy-bearded friar.
When he perceived him, Count Orlando said,
As loudly as he could, he was so tired:
“O Father, as thou lovest God Most High,
Come set me free, for I’m about to die.”

17
The aged friar is surprised to see
This sight, and searches all the net, but can’t
Find any way to set Orlando free.
The baron says to him, “Take up my brand,
Slice through this net and thus deliver me.”
The friar says, “I leave thee in God’s hands.
If I should kill thee, I should break my oath.
To take so great a chance am I most loath.”

18
“Upon my word, thou shalt incur no guilt,”
Replied the Count, “My armor is so sound,
That by that sword my blood will not be spilt.”
With such like words he brings the palmer ‘round.
The monk grabbed Durindana by the hilt,
And with an effort, raised it from the ground,
And swung with all his might and struck the chains.
He scratched them, but intact they all remain.

19
The friar sees that poorly he will fare.
He drops the sword, then he begins to try
Consoling Count Orlando, speaking fair.
“O worthy, it behooveth thee to die
Like a good Christian. Yield not to dispair,
But hope and trust in God the Lord on High.
Patiently bear this death which he hath given,
And thou shalt be his cavalier in Heaven.”

20
The wise old monk made many other words,
And all the martyrology relates,
Telling the sufferings the saints endured,
How some were crucified and some were flayed,
“My son, thou shalt be with them, be assured,
And for thy holy death, give God the praise.”
The Count Orlando’s modest answer is:
“May He be praised indeed – but not for this!”

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Notes

Notes to the Sixth Canto, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VI, Stanzas 1-20 Notes

6. Dragon. Boiardo continues to call it serpent-hide, but dragon is more effective in English.
17. It is not true, as some people still believe, that medieval priests were forbidden to shed blood, but were allowed to fight with clubs, maces, etc. Firstly, a club to the head will make you bleed. Secondly, while warrior priests were not encouraged, they certainly existed, and fought with anything they could lay their hands on. The general opinion of the Church, however, was that while a soldier’s life was an honorable calling, it was forbidden to the clergy, much the same as marriage is.
The idea that there was some superstition about bloodshed as opposed to other forms of killing is one of the many Enlightenment and Victorian lies about the Middle Ages, and was popularized in modern times by Dungeons and Dragons and other RPGs where clerics can only equip staves.

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On to Part 2

Book I, Canto V, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto V, Stanzas 61-83

61
“My only son, a tender youth, and I
Came walking by not sithence many hours.
But of the giant, not a trace we spied,
For he, God damn him, hid within the tower,
Then snatched my son before my very eyes,
And bore him off. I fear he’s been devoured,
And now, sir knight, thou knowest all my woe.
I beg thee that thou wilt no further go!”

62
Orlando thinks a moment, then replies,
“I will go further on, let come what may.”
“Then God have mercy!” the old palmer cries,
“Thou oughtest not to throw thy life away.
Believe me, I am telling thee no lies,
Thou shalt behold that giant with dismay.
To see his size, his fierceness, and his might
Will make thee tremble, thou though art a knight.”

63
Orlando smiled and besought the man
To stay and wait for him a little space
And if he didn’t shortly some again,
Then not to mourn for him, but go his ways.
The palmer to the knight an hour grants,
Who to the crimson clifftop set his face.
When that the giant sees him come, he saith,
“O worthy baron, do not seek thy death.

64
The monarch of Circassia placed me here,
And ordered me to let none pass beyond,
Because, atop this cliff so wild and drear,
A monster dwells, who of men’s flesh is fond.
Whene’er a traveller in her sight appears,
To aught he asks she’ll truthfully respond,
But with a riddle of her own she’ll meet him,
And if he says amiss then she will eat him.”

65
Orlando next inquires of the lad.
The giant won’t return the palmer’s son.
They speak awhile, then they wax half-mad,
And soon a battle have the two begun.
This one a sword, that one a great mace had.
I shan’t recount their blows all one by one,
But Count Orlando so adroitly wielded
His sword and shield, that soon the giant yielded.

66
Thus the Count saved the young man from his plight,
And thus the grieving father he consoled,
Who drew out something wrapped in samite white,
Which he had hidden in his garments’ fold.
Then he displayed a little book to sight,
Covered in fine enamel and bright gold.
Then to Orlando he said, “Knight renowned,
To be thy servant I’m forever bound.

67
“If I desired to do as much for thee,
As thou hast done, I am too worn by years.
And so I beg thee, take this book from me,
Which is of potency without a peer.
For ev’ry riddle, ev’ry mystery
Within its pages is made plain and clear.”
And giving him the book, said, “Go with God!”
Then joyfully upon his way he trod.

68
Orlando stood there with the book in hand,
And with himself a while held debate.
He sees the cliff which rises high and grand,
And swears to climb it, whate’er may await,
And see the beast which on the summit stands,
And answers any question she is made.
For this alone th’adventure will he try:
To learn where sweet Angelica abides.

69
He crosses o’er the mountain without scath.
The giant lets him pass without a stop.
He’s felt what Durindan can do in wrath.
He points the road, and lets the drawbridge drop.
And up a dark and narrow winding path
The Count rides on until he gains the top,
And sees the path lead on between two rocks,
And sees the monster who the passage blocks.

70
Her hair was gold, he woman’s face was fair,
But when she smiled you saw her wolfish teeth.
Breasts like a lions, forearms like a bear’s
She had. Her griffon claws she did not sheathe.
She held her dragon’s tail aloft in air.
Her wings would make even a peacock seethe
With envy. With her tail she struck the ground,
Which echoed off the rocks for miles around.

71
When that fierce monster sees the cavalier,
Her wings she spreads out and her tail she raises,
And grins malignantly from ear to ear,
And smites a rock and cracks it. Nought this fazes
The Count, who says to her with visage fierce,
“Among all peoples, nations, tongues and races,
From cold to hear, and from the dusk to dawn,
Tell me, whom dwells Angelica among?”

72
The beast malignant, with words soft and king,
Thus gives the Count Orlando answer meet.
“She for whose seek thou art disturbed in mind,
Near Cathay, in Albracca has her seat.
Now to my questions must thou answers find.
What animal can walk but has no feet?
And say what other creature there may be,
That walks on four feet, and on two, and three?”

73
Orlando ponders o’er thse questions curious,
But can’t come up with any good replies,
So he draws Durindan. The sphinx is furious,
And leaps into the air and at him flies.
Now she attacks him with a blow injurious,
And now she soars aloft with piercing cries.
Now she strikes with her claw, now with her tail,
But his charmed skin against her blows prevails.

74
If he were not enchanted, as he is,
That favored knight would have been sorely pressed.
A hundred gaping wounds would have been his,
Criss-crossing o’er his shoulders and his chest
The Count regains his balance, and at this
His anger mounts, and wrath swells in his breast.
He bides his time, then with a mighty spring,
He leaps on high and slices through her wing.

75
Shrieking, the cruel monster fell to ground.
Her bellowings could be heard far afield.
Her tail around Orlando’s legs she wound,
And with her claws she tears apart his shield.
But soon the ending of the fight came round,
For through her ribs Orlando drove his steel.
And when Orlando saw the beast was slain,
He climbed back down the cliff unto the plain.

76
He leapt upon his horse, the reins he shook,
And rode on boldly, as a lover ought,
But still he pondered, as his way he took,
What might the answers be the monster sought.
Then he recalled the palmer’s little book,
And to himself he said, “I had forgot!
I had the power to appease the beast,
Without a fight; but otherwise God pleased.”

77
He searches through the book, in hopes to find
The answers to the sphinx’s mysteries.
He reads about the seal, and of its kind,
That walks on flippers when it leaves the sea,
And then he finds it written of mankind,
He goes on four feet in his infancy;
He goes on two feet in his life’s next stage,
And totters with a cane in his old age.

78
He read, till at a river he arrived,
Swift and deep, and horrible, and dark.
No place to swim across it he espied,
For both the banks were jagged, steep, and stark.
Along the riverbanks downstream he rides,
Hoping to find some passage on a barque.
He saw a bridge, which had a giant placed
For guardian, and thither he made haste.

79
The giant saw him coming, and he said,
“O wretched knight, enjoy thy final breaths!
Thy great misfortune hath thee hither lead.
Know, thou art come unto the Bridge of Death.
All ways hence are so tortuous and dread
That none have e’er survived who by them left,
And if across the stream thou’rt fain to go,
Then one of us must lay the other low.”

80
This bridge’s guardian, so tall and fierce
Had for his name Zambardo the Robust.
His head was two feet wide from ear to ear,
And all his limbs were in proportion just.
When armed, just like a mountain he appears.
He held an iron bar devoid of rust.
From off this bar five iron chains extend,
Each with a ball of iron at its end.

81
Each of these balls was twenty pounds or more.
From head to toe he wore a serpent’s hide,
For plate and mail, which kept him safe in war.
His scimitar hung dangling by his side.
But what was worse, he had a trap in store:
A heavy net. When anyone defied
Him to a duel, and he seemed like to win,
He’d trap him in the net and finish him.

82
No cavalier this thick net ever sees.
It’s fully hidden underneath the sand.
Whene’er he wishes, he the knight can seize,
And throw him bound into the river grand.
The wretch has no recourse, no remedies,
But drowns most painfully at Zambard’s hands.
But nought of this the worthy baron knows.
He lights on foot and rides towards his foe.

83
With shield on arm and Durindan in hand,
He sees his enemy grand and appalling,
The Roman Senator is as alarmed
As if his foe were but an infant squalling.
A mighty duel began that caused much harm,
Which in this canto I won’t be recalling,
Because already has my throat grown sore,
And I must rest before I tell you more.

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Notes

Notes to the Fifth Canto, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto V, Stanzas 61-83 Notes

73. Boiardo never uses the word “sfinge”, but his monster is clearly meant to be one, and so I have added the name.
In Greek mythology there was only one sphinx, a monster which was guarded the roads to Thebes, put a riddle to passersby, and ate them if they couldn’t answer it. Hesiod says that Echidna lay with her son by Typhon, Orthus, a monstrous hound that was later Geryon’s watchdog, and the two of them produced the Sphinx and the Nemean Lion. Sophocles gives no description of the creature. Apollodorus states the Sphinx was sent by Hera, and was the daughter of Echidna and Typhon. She had the face of a woman, the breast, feet, and tail of a lion, and the wings of a bird. Her riddle about man is the only one she gives in Greek myth. Pausanias rationalizes the myth, claiming that Sphinx was the name of Oedipus’ sister, who seized a fortress near Thebes until Oedipus and his army slew her.
According to Pliny, sphinxes are a species that live in Ethiopia, have brown hair, and have two udders on their breasts. (VIII, xxx) That is the whole of his description, and he seems to have thought of the sphinx as a kind of monkey. Certainly Isidore of Seville lists the sphinx as a species of ape, and he is followed in this opinion by Western writers all the way down to Topsell.
81. Serpent’s hide. Probably meaning a dragon.
83. Orlando was made an honorary member of the Roman Senate out of gratitude after one of the numerous occasions when he saved the Eternal City from invading Saracens.

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On to Canto VI

The Legend of Bevis of Hampton, 3: The Continental French Redaction

The legend of Bevis of Hampton is extant in three great families of redactions: the Anglo-Norman, the Continental French, and the Italian. The Italian versions are the only ones to link Bevis with the legend of Charlemagne, but this post treats of the Continental French Redaction. It is the least interesting of the three, except for those who wish to puzzle over the great and still unsolved mystery of which version came first.

The Continental French family consists of the following versions.

The First Redaction: Assonanced decasyllables. The only edition is Stimming’s Der festländische Bueve de Hantone, Fassung I, 1911.

The Second Redaction. Assonanced decasyllables. The only edition is Stimming’s Der festländische Bueve de Hantone, Fassung II, 1912. Two volumes, one for the text and one for the notes.

Beufves de Hantonne. The French prose rendering. Based on the Second verse redaction. The only edition, according to Arlima, is Beufves de Hantonne, version en prose, éd. Vérard, présentée et transcrite par Marie-Madeleine Ival, Aix-en-Provence, Publications du Cuerma (Senefiance, 14), 1982, 339 p.

The French chapbooks, descended from the prose redaction.

Beuvijn von Austoen. The Dutch translation. A verse translation survives in fragments. The prose rendering survives entire, and is the ancestor of the Dutch chapbooks. As far as I know there are no modern editions.

The Third Redaction. Assonanced decasyllables. The only edition is Stimming’s Der festländische Bueve de Hantone, Fassung III, 1914. Two volumes, one for the text and one for the notes.

The First Redaction

Gui of Hantone weds Beatix, daughter of King Edward of Scotland, who loves Doon of Maience. Hantone is not Southampton, but a town on the Maese. Boeve is fifteen when all goes down. He is sold to King Hermin of Armenia, at whose court he slays a man who accused him of being a peasant. Hermin is impressed, and Josiane falls in love, and gives him her horse Arondel. Boeve enters the world of chivalry one May, when Josiane finds him weeping that he is too poor to enter a tourney, and helps him out. After he does very well in the tourney, King Danemons of Persia lays siege to Armenia, for love of Josiane. As Boeve fights the war, he and Josiane fall in love. Two traitors, Foré and Gouse, betray their love to the king, who tries to get Boeve killed in the war, but Boeve wins, taking Brandimond of Damascus prisoner. Hermin spares him, so that he can put into motion his plot to kill Boeve. As Boeve is going to Damascus with his death-note, he kills a boar, then meets a pilgrim, who is not Terri seeking for him, and does not offer to read the letter. [In fact, he is fairly irrelevant]. Boeve does not demolish the idols of Damascus. In the dungeon he kills cockatrices, but no dragons. Meanwhile, Josiane pleads with her father not to wed her to King Yvorin, but to no avail. She enchants Yvorin to keep her maidenhood, making him think he has taken it. Arondel is not imprisoned, but cared for richly by her. Boeve is freed by an angel, kills the guards, and heads to Jerusalem. He does not make a miraculous leap to escape. After the giant’s castle, he kills four robbers who robbed a pilgrim, and then reaches Jerusalem, not speaking with the Patriarch.

Passing Monbranc, he recognizes Josiane and Arondel. They recognize and escape as usual, Boneface is killed by the lions, who drag Josiane to their den, whither Boeve tracks them and kills them, with Arondel’s help. Garsile sends Ascopart, and all goes as the Anglo-Norman, until they reach Cologne, only without the comic baptism scene. Boeve goes to Doon, pretends to be a merchant named Aïmer of Hungary, and then meets Sobaut’s nephew David and joins Sobaut. In the war, he kills Hate and Fromont, the men who sold him to the Saracen slave traders.

Meanwhile, in Cologne, Count Audemar, the Emperor’s nephew, has forged letters telling of Boeve’s death, lured Ascopart into a dungeon, and wed Josiane. Boeve walks in on the wedding, and kills Audemar just as Ascopart arrives, panting. With Ascopart’s help, Boeve defeats Doon, in a very long war. Doon is hanged, Ascopart marries a rich noblewoman and exits the story, and Boeve and Josiane settle in Hampton, which seems to now be Southampton in England again.

After a year, Boeve attends the king’s feast, at which the prince tries to buy Arondel after Boeve wins a race with him. When Boeve won’t sell, the prince, egged on by Doon’s nephew Rohart, tries to steal him. In the ensuing battle, both are killed, along with three stablehands. The King banishes Boeve, who stops by Southampton to pick up Josiane and to have his mother locked in a tower until he comes back. Only her confessor is to be allowed in. Boeve, Josiane, Terri [Sobaut’s son], and Arondel now depart for the Acre, but a storm drives them to Monbranc, in Africa. Here, in the wilderness, Josiane goes into labor. The men blindfold themselves to help her. After the twins are born, Terri goes to town to buy food, but is followed home by foresters, who tell King Yvorin, who kidnaps Josiane and her children. In a subsequent battle, Boeve kills Garsile, but he is hopelessly outnumbered, and flees on Josiane’s orders. He and Terri come to Siviele, where they save the Queen Eglantine from Escorfaut of Majorge [Majorca?], in a very long and very tedious siege. She compels Boeve to marry her, but he places a sword in their bed every night.

Meanwhile, Josiane and the boys are in prison. One Bertram, of Bar-sur-Aube, joins with Sobaut to go look for Boeve. They find Josiane in Monbranc, and rescue her uneventfully, bringing her home to Hampton. They take the children to the king in London, who stands godfather to one of them, naming him after himself, and making him his heir. King Oduars of Scotland names the other one his heir. Sobaut and Josiane, the latter guised as a minstrel, now resume the search for Boeve. They come to Sevilie, where Arondel recognizes her, as she sings a song about Boeve. Her husband recognizes her too, and there is much rejoicing. Terri weds Queen Eglantine, and Boeve and Josiane go home to Hampton, and meet their sons, Boevon and Guion. They live happily, and have a third son, but then word comes that King Hermin is besieged. Boeve rescues him, and kills Braidimons. Guy and Buevon inherit England and Scotland, Sobaut is given Hampton, and Boeve and Josiane move to Armenia, where they live happily until their death, when their son Hermin inherits it.

 

Though there are many minor differences between the three redactions, the most notable difference between the them is that in the Second Redaction, as in all others, Bevis and Josiane have twin sons, Bevis and Guy. In the First and Third Redactions, they have two pairs of twins: firstly Guillaume, who grows up to be King of England, and Hermin. Bueve and Guy are born later.