The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 6: The Grand Prose, and Modern Adaptations

The Rhymed Remainement of the Quatre Fils was turned into prose for Jean V of Créquy (1395-1474), chamberlain of Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy, and finished November 12, 1462. It was begun well beforehand, since David Aubert’s abridged version of volumes 2 and 3 was finished in 1458.  Perhaps David Aubert wrote this version, too. The Grand Prose consists of the following versions.

Lf: BN fr. 19,173-19,177. (Jean le Faron) Five volumes.

Pm: Bib. Du Comte de Schönbron in Pommersfelden, 311-312. Two volumes, incomplete.

Am: Arsenal 5,072 – 5,075 and Munich, Gall. 7. Five volumes in two different libraries.

David Aubert’s Chroniques et Conquestes de Charlemagne. Includes an abridged version, stopping short before the martyrdom.

The version in the Bibliotheque Universelle des Romans, by Antoine-René de Voyer d’Argenson, Marquis de Paulmy.

The story begins with a mise en prose of Maugis d’Aigremont, down to the baptism of Vivien and Esclarmonde, after which Bueves and his men return home. Volume 2 (in the 5 volume sets) opens with the death of Espiet, after which Maugis gives Baiard to Renaud. Bueves’ death is treated very briefly, with a comment that it will not be treated in full. It then covers Renaud’s wars as in the Rhymed Remainement down to his vow to go to Jerusalem. Volume 3 covers the crusade. Volume 4 deals with the death of Renaud and the wars which followed it. At one point in these wars, Marsile is besieging Angorie, and Roland cuts off his nose. Volume 5 tells how Maugis and Renaud’s brothers were killed, and how they were avenged, as in the RR, concluding with the story of Mabrien, who is the son of King Yon of Jerusalem and his wife Aiglentine, but is kidnapped one night and sold to the Admiral Barré, who raises him as a valiant knight. Mabrien learns his true identity and goes ot France to seek his father Yon of Montalban. There he learns that his father is King of Jerusalem, and travels thither, winning the kingdom by his strength. Among his many adventures, he is shipwrecked on the Isle of Adamant [in adventures copied from those of Huon and Ogier], and meets King Arthur, Cain, and various fairies. Mabrien eventually begets a son named Regnaudin, who has a son named Aimon.

The text focuses more on emotional states than the RR does, and there is a hint of the Renaissance pedantry which will shortly arrive to ruin European prose for centuries.

MODERN RETELLINGS

The following list does not pretend to be exhaustive.

Bibliotheque Universelle des Romans

The July 1778 issue of the BUR was devoted to an abridgment of the story of Renaud and his family as found in Am, by the Marquis of Paulmy and the Count of Tressan. Paulmy, the main writer, also drew on Ar, A, and various chapbooks. He greatly trimmed the adventures of Renaud in the Holy Land and expanded the Ardennes War and the Martyrdom. The story of Bueves is gone, as are the treason of Vaucoleurs, and most of the sieges of Montauban and the entirety of Tremoigne. The horse race stays; the four sons of Ripeus are reduced to two. Since the siege of Tremoigne is gone, Renaud hands over Baiard to the Emperor at Montauban. Charles then takes the horse all the way to Tremoigne to throw him into the Meuse. Maugis only has the power to work his magic for Renaud thrice: stealing the swords of the Peers, enchanting them into the castle, and kidnapping Charles.

Others

Histoire des Quatre Fils Aymon, Tres nobles et tres valiants chevaliers. 1883, illustrated by Eugene Grasset, in full color. Can be found on Gallica here. I am not sure where the text is from.

Maugis Ye Sorcerer, by Frederick Henri Seymour, 1898. Despite its name, this is actually a retelling of the Quatre Fils, only the author has switched the names of Renaud and Maugis. The title and introduction suggest that the story will be a burlesque, but there is little trace thereof in the actual text. Evidently from a chapbook, as the Saxon King at the beginning is called “Guesdelin le Fene [the Sluggard]” instead of “le Saisne [the Saxon];” Clarice is renamed Yolande; Renaud and Maugis drown in a duel with Pinabel, instead of being martyred, etc.

Histoire des Quatre Fils Aymon, Tres nobles et tres valiants chevaliers. 1908, illustrated by Robida. A fancy edition printed for the Librairie Moderne. A modernized version of the printed editions of 1480 and 1493, with delightful Romantic woodcuts. Sadly does not seem to be on the internet.

 

There are a multitude of locations in the Low Countries which are named after the Four Sons, Baiard, and Maugis, and many statues and paintings of them are to be seen there.

Statues of Baiard and the Four Sons were carried in parades in the Low Countries as early as the 1400’s.

To this day, puppeteers in the north of France and the Low Countries perform, among others, the play of the Four Son of Aymon, with various modernizations. For example, the Four Sons were used as symbols of the Resistance during World War II, and after the War it was popular to play Charlemagne as a caricature of Charles de Gaulle.

The notices given of Saint Reinold in collections of lives of the saints are often very inadequate. The Oxford Book of Saints, for example, hardly has a true statement in its summary. Thurston and Attwater’s revision of Butler is not much better.

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 5 – The Rhymed Remainement

Some time in the fifteenth century, the Quatre Fils Aymon was completely reworked into a new version which was entirely in rhyme. This version, like the original, was turned into prose later on, but the prose has never been printed.

B: London BM Royal 16 G II. Also known as R or as Bm. The beginning of the manuscript down to Charlemagne’s learning that the Four Sons are living in Montessor is in verse, the rest is a mise en prose (known as Bm) of the traditional versions, until the death of Renaud, after which the death of Maugis is in verse. Around 1450.

R: Paris Bib. Nat. fr. 764. Formerly known as N. Within two decades of 1440. Printed by Philippe Verelst, under the title “Renaut de Montauban. Édition critique du ms. de Paris, B.N., fr. 764 (“R”)”. 1988.

MANUSCRIPT R: BIB. NAT. FR. 764 (ROIS DE FRANCE)

Containing Renaud de Montauban.

Completely reworked, but follows the same basic plot until the siege of Tremoigne. Minor characters are renamed, Roland and Ganelon feature from the very beginning. The episode of Bueves is completely surpressed. The entire tone is more refined: Renaud kills Bertholet with a sword, not the chessboard. Charlemagne does not strike Renaud, as he does in all traditional versions except DPA. Maugis found Baiard in an enchanted cave, and won Froberge from the Saracen king Antenor. Montessor is again identified with Chateau-Regnault. The traitor Hervis dies in battle instead of being hanged by Renaud. His treason at Montessor is not the cause for Renaud’s abandonment of the castle. Renaud thwarts it, and only some time later is he starved out. Maugis does not steal Charlemagne’s treasure, and Renaud actually forbids him to do so, etc. The love of Clarice and Renaud is treated at some length. At Vaucoleurs, Maugis does not need to learn from Clarice that his cousins are in peril, and he has no trouble mounting Baiard. Renaud is trying to persuade his brothers to surrender when Maugis arrives to save them. Charlemagne uses cannons and springalds against Montauban.

At the siege of Tremoigne, instead of the usual adventures, Charles takes a nap in the forest, Ganelon tries to kill him, and Renuad, passing by, saves him. Charles wakes up, and does not believe a word of Renaud’s account of what happened. Naimes advises Charles to settle the war through single combat, Renaud versus Ganelon. Charles sends Richier of Denmark, bastard brother of Ogier, to Ganelon, who tries to kill him. Richier flees to Ogier’s tent, who saves him. Renaud makes peace with Charles. When they meet, Renaud kneels for three hours before Charles deigns to speak to him. Since Baiard was not mentioned in the peace treaty, Charles confiscates him and tries to hang him, but Bairard kills three squires and escapes to the forest of Arden. (Maugis will find him there later). Maugis departs, and Renaud slips away by night. He works his way across Europe as a collier’s apprentice, then sails to Acre, where he falls sick of leprosy. Maugis, meanwhile, has found Baiard, and rides him to Rome, whence a cloud transports him to Acre. [This whole section, the traditional part of the poem, is actually abridged to 9,000 verses, as opposed to 13,400 in L. The rest of the poem, a mere 2,700 verses in L, is now 20,000.]

King Robastre has conquered Jerusalem and all Syria. Maugis cures Renaud, and they meet King Richier, who is obliged to dismiss them when Baiard kills some of his subjects. Maugis returns to France and gives Baiard to Charlemagne, who throws him into the Rhine. Baiard, the people say, escaped, and is still alive, and can be heard neighing once a year. The Roche Baiart in Ardennes is mentioned. After indecisive battles, Renaud arrives at Jerusalem. He meets King Malaquin, a vassal of Robastre, who introduces the two. Renaud is given the finest accommodations, promises to give his son Yonnet to Robastre’s daughter Eglantine if she converts, and announces his intent to convert Robastre and his son Durandal. He challenges them to a duel, and they agree to convert if he can defeat both of them. Robastre is slain, but Durandal surrenders and is baptized Baptamur. All his people convert. Renaud and Baptamur rout King Danemont of Angorie and baptize his daughter under the name of Sinamonde. She will later wed Aymonnet. Sinamonde restores the relics of the Passion to Renaud. Renaud is amazed that they were so carefully preserved. Baptamur explains that they were hoping to sell them back to the Christians. Danemont returns with a mighty coalition, including Berfuné who can turn himself invisible. Berfuné taunts Renaud by telling him that his sons have been accused of treason by the sons of Ripeus, but Renaud does not believe him. Renaud, Baptamur, and King Richier confront Berfuné, who summons to his aid his four fairy guardians: Morgue, Ydain, Genouivre, and Oriande – the same Oriande who raised Maugis! They are furious that he is fighting Christians, and beat him up until he converts. Danemont is soon after defeated. Renaud returns home, where his family at first refuse to believe a word of his story.

His sons have indeed been challenged by the four sons of Ripeus of Ribemont (the man who tried to hang Richardet), instead of the two sons of Foulques of Morillon, as in the old poem.

After he dies [I can’t find how], Clarisse sends word to Yonnet, who is reigning in Jerusalem with Eglantine, who sends word to Aymonnet. Clarisse dies soon afterward, in Tremoigne. The other three Sons and Maugis are killed by Ganelon in Naples. Yonnet arrives with a navy and army to wreak vengeance. Allied with Ogier and Naymes, he besieges Charles in Montlaon. Charles surrenders, and becomes Yonnet’s vassal, who returns to Jerusalem. The end.

MANUSCRIPT B: LONDON

Containing Renaud de Montauban in verse and prose, and La Mort Maugis in verse.

Not quite identical to R, but close enough for our purposes. The verse stops when an unnamed knight tells Charles that the Four Sons are living in Montessor. The rest is prose, but the prose of the traditional version, not the rhymed remaniement.

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 4: The Quatre Fils in Prose

The MSS of the mises en prose of the Quatre Fils fall into two families.

FIRST FAMILY

Sl: British Museum, Sloane 960. (Sloane)

Follows MS D very closely. Aye recommends her sons go to Gascoine, not Espagne. There are some details from later versions, however: e. g. Baiard was raised on an isle in the sea, Charlemagne mobilizes his army at Laon, not Paris. There is an edition by Marie-Henriette Notredaeme which is sitting unpublished in the University of Ghent and will never see the light of day. Support copyright reform!

SECOND FAMILY

These MSS omit the prologue, and begin with the Ardennes episode in the standard version, not from CNV. Probably from P, A, or O.

La: BN fr. 1481 (Lancelot)

Bm: British Museum, Royal 16 G II. (the same as MS. B of the Quatre Fils) The best MS.

Ma: British Museum, Royal 15 E VI. (Marguerite d’Anjou)

Tr: Troyes, Bib. Municpale, 743. (Troyes)

Co: BN fr. 19170, (Coislin)

SECOND FAMILY WITH PROLOGUE ADDED

Ar: Arsenal, 3151. (Arsenal)

Ar is the MS, or is very similar to the MS, from which the French printed version is derived, with all its descendants, including William Caxton’s English translation and the French chapbooks in the Bibliotheque Bleue. It is the only MS of the Second Family to include the story of Bueves of Aigremont, after ZM. An edition was done by Jean-Marcel Léard for a doctoral thesis, and sits unpublished and gathering dust in the University of Sorbonne. Support copyright reform!

Sl follows D very closely. Its most interesting detail is that Baiard is a fairy horse, brought up on an isle off the coast of Normandy, by a fairy in Sansbart [does not exist], near Torigny, in the diocese of Bayeux. Other minor details differentiate it from D, such as Charles gathering his army at Laon, and not Paris, when he is making war against the Sons in the Ardennes.

 

Most MSS of the Second Family omit the story of Bueves, and thus begin with Charles going to war against the four brothers, who live in the Ardennes, for no apparent reason.

Ar is the only one to include the embassy of Lohier, the death of Bueves, and the deadly chess game. The second family, in general, follows A, although the story of Bueves is from the ZM version.

The chase is the most common version, DCVA. Ogier, Naimes and Foulques guard the Paris gates.

Tremoigne is PLOMAH. Maugis succors the merchants. Charlot does not feature. Baiard is thrown into the Meuse at Liege.

The Holy Land episode is from PLOA, as is the Combat of the Sons.

Renaud is killed with hammers, and his body stops in Ceoigne, as in POA.

 

In some 1500’s editions, Baiard was born not in Etna or Boucan, but on Colchos (where Jason found the Golden Fleece).

The French chapbooks, known as the Bibliothèque Bleue, of the Quatre Fils, under various titles, are descended from Ar. Each one faithfully copied the errors of its predecessors and added new ones of its own. Chapters were dropped, pages sewn in backwards and never corrected, abridgements were made more or less at random, religious references were removed, swear words toned down, etc. A particularly absurd example comes from the death of Bertholai, which he brings on himself by calling Renaud “malheureux [wretch]” because “whoreson” was too offensive to print. Guitelin the Saxon [Le Saisne] becomes Guerdelin the Lazy [Le Fène], etc. Some versions change the ending: Pinabel, of the family of traitors, is in the process of carrying off two damsels, when Renaud happens to see him. Renaud challenges him to battle, and in the ensuing struggle the two of them roll into the river and drown.

We will spare the reader a full list of chapbooks, but he may find such a list in Part VI of Entre Épopée et Légende: Les Quatre Fils Aymon ou Renaud de Montauban.

 

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 3: Variants of the Quatre Fils

The summary given in this post is printed after D, the earliest manuscript of the Quatre Fils. However, most parts of the poem have at least two redactions, and the MSS switch from one redaction to the other with no apparent rhyme or reason, and no two parallel each other’s jumps exactly. D usually gives the oldest form, but it is not free of inconsistencies.

Many manuscripts, in their recapitulations, make reference to events or details that are not actually recounted in that particular manuscript, but are found in others. It is not always clear whether the reference is to an existing but omitted episode, or whether the episode was invented to explain the reference.

Beuves episode

A DIVISION OF THE MANUSCRIPTS ACCORDING TO THE ARDENNES EPISODES.

FIRST FAMILY: The enfances of Reynard are interspersed with the story of Beuve d’Aigremont, like so. First fragment: the dubbing of the Four Sons and their tilt at the quintaine. Second: Aymon and his sons flee Paris after the death of Lohier. Third: the quarrel at chess and its consequences, leading into the Ardennes War. DPAZMO

SECOND FAMILY: The second fragment is suppressed. The tilting at the quintaine is moved to just before the quarrel at chess. NC.

THIRD FAMILY: The first and third fragments are united and moved to the end of the Bueves episode. The second is still gone. LV. Hence in these, the entire war with Bueves is over before Renaud even appears on the scene.

For the Bueves d’Aigremont episode proper, OLNC (Italian) give the same redaction, in which Enguerrand is sent to Bueves and slain before Lohier. DPA (Caxton) give a different one. MZ formed their own version, still without Enguerrand. V is unique and lacks Enguerrand.

Aigremont

Aigremont is on the river Agremore [nonexistant] which flows into the Garonne, DPAMZ.

Aigremont is in Lombardy, and Bueves is killed in the plain of Souvigny [in Auvergne] on his way home, LNC.

The Italian Cantari claims that Agrismonte is reached from Paris by passing through Champagne and past Troyes, and that it stands on a mountain on the river Agremore, along which many merchant ships sail.

Continue reading

Book I, Canto VIII, Part 2

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

21
Rinaldo says to him, “Thou soon wilt know
Which of us two can better wield a blade!”
And viciously towards the brute he goes.
When the brute saw him, he was so afraid,
He turned his shoulders and he was not slow
But swiftly for a little stream he made.
One only bridge across this stream was thrown,
The which was made of one enormous stone.

22
On one end of the bridge there was a ring,
To which the giant fixed the chain’s hook tightly,
And when Rinaldo on the bridgestone springs,
And is about to slay the giant lightly,
The villain pulls the chain with all his strength.
The bridge collapses, “Holy God Almighty,”
Rinaldo cries, “O Virgin Mother, save –”
And with these words, he fell into a cave.

23
The cavern was tenebrous, foul, and wet,
And over it, rolled on the river black.
Across the mouth of it was spread a net
In which the baron’s captured. Nor doth slack
The foul giant. He takes no rest yet,
But slings the trussed-up knight across his back
And taunts him. “Wherefore didst thou give my friend
Such trouble? I still caught thee in the end.”

24
Rinaldo makes no answer to the churl,
But in his mind he thus laments his state.
“I see, how Fortune in her spite has hurled
Disgrace upon disgrace upon my pate.
Whoever is most luckless in the world
Would count him blessèd if he knew my fate,
For in such misery I have arrived,
I do not know how it could be described.”

25
As he lamenteth thus, tied up and bound,
The giant to the Cruel Castle came,
Where skulls and severed heads the merlons crowned,
And stuck on hooks, dead men and women hang,
But what was worst of all, were strewn around
The limbs and organs of men freshly slain.
The castle’s crimson stones seem from afar
Fire, but covered with men’s blood they are.

26
Rinaldo prays to God. He’s all alone.
I must admit that he was filled with fright.
Before him now appears an ancient crone.
Her dress was black, her unkempt hands were white,
Her face was wrinkled, her hands skin and bone.
She seemed both merciless and full of spite.
She bade the giant drop Rinaldo down.
Thus she addresses him, while he’s still bound.

27
“Perhaps, sir knight, thou’st heard from flying fame,”
The crone beings, “The customs full of sorrow,
Which we upon this barren rock maintain.
If not, then know that thou shalt die tomorrow,
And in what little time to thee remains,
Lest thou shouldst hope a further space to borrow,
I shall relate to thee the root and cause
Of our most cruel customs and fierce laws.

28
“A noble cavalier of matchless might
Was once this castle’s sovereign and lord.
He gave largesse, and kept his honor bright;
All travelers were welcome at his board.
He gave all wand’rers lodging for the night,
Damsels and pilgrims, cavaliers and bards.
His wife a lady was of high degree;
The fairest woman in the world was she.

29
“Grifone was this worthy baron named.
As Altaripa was this castle known.
His lady rightly was as Stella famed,
Because her beauty like the day-star shone.
It was in May, when Earth her joy regained,
Grifone left his castle, all alone,
And passed along the rolling ocean’s strand,
The very beach where you this morn did stand.

30
He roamed into the woods, and chanced to meet
Another knight, who out a-hunting rode.
He hailed him joyfully, and did him greet
With invitation to his own abode.
My husband was this knight of whom I speak:
Marchino, who did fair Aronda hold.
Grifone led him to this very hall,
And honored him, the way he did to all.

31
“Now, as it happened by unhappy chance,
Stella the beautiful he chanced to see.
And Love became his master with one glance.
He saw her comeliness and modesty,
And on her soft and lovely countenance
He gazed, and Love o’er him had mastery.
He longs for nothing, thinks of nothing else
Than how to have the lady for himself.

32
“He left the castle, meditating harm,
And came back home. We saw a great change in
His countenance, but knew not Stella’s charms.
He left Aronda with some of his kin
And took a shield that bore Grifone’s arms,
(For in his face, he somewhat looked like him)
And in the forest he did hide his band,
With armor on, and weapons in their hands.

33
“But he laid by his arms, as if the deer
He meant to hunt, and loud his horn he blew;
Grifon the courteous that winding hears,
For he was in the woods that morning, too.
He finds Marchino the accurst, who peers
Around to spot Grifone’s retinue,
And once he’s certain that he’s all alone,
‘Alas! I’ve lost it!’ he begins to moan.

34
“He hangs his head and sadly looks around,
Then starts, pretending that he just now sees
Grifon, and says to him, ‘I’ve lost my hound,
And know not where to look among these trees.’
They go together, and soon reach that ground
Where Don Marchino’s men plot villainies.
Not to prolong the history past reason,
They fall upon him and kill him by treason.

35
“Guised as Grifon, the gates he passes through,
And doesn’t leave a single man alive.
Young men and old, without remorse he slew,
The maidens, and the widows, and the wives.
Stella alone he spared, fair Stella who
Beholds the dead. He heart in anguish writhes.
To kiss and speak her fair Marchino starts,
But makes no impression on that pilgrim heart.

36
“She always thinks upon the cruel deeds
The wicked traitor wrought deceitfully,
And always close within her heart she keeps
Her much-belov’d Grifone’s memory.
Vengeance for him’s the only thing she seeks,
Vengeance, she thinks no thing could sweeter be.
At last, he cruel desires find consummation
Through the most fearful being in creation.

37
“The creature deadliest, most merciless,
The one most ravenous. More fierce than Hell is she:
A wife, who once was loved, who once knew bliss,
Who has been scorned and thus succumbs to jealousy.
The fiercest lion’s not more pitiless.
Than firedrakes or scorpions more fell is she.
Such is the wife, such is the woeful lover,
Who sees herself forsaken for another.

38
“I may well say it, for I proved it true,
When I found out about my husband’s deeds.
No greater grief I ever had been through.
Like a mad dog I howled in my grief.
When thou hear’st of the cruelty I used
That day, it scarce will win from thee belief.
But when love hath by jealousy been slain,
‘Tis strange if any goodness there remain.

39
“By my Marchino I had two young sons;
I slit the first one’s throat with my own hand.
The other stood and saw what I had done,
And said, ‘Stop, Mother! I don’t understand!’
I grabbed him by his feet, the wretched one,
And dashed his brains out on a boulder grand.
And dost thou think that my revenge was done?
May, rather I had only just begun.

40
“They still were warm, when I them cut in four;
And drew their little hearts out of their chests.
I chopped their limbs up. How my heart was sore!
But lust for vengeance all my soul possessed.
I save their heads, not for the love I bore
Them once. No love remained within m y breast.
I had no love, no pity, no remorse.
I wished to give my vengeance greater force.

Notes

Notes to the Eighth Canto, Part 2

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

25. Merlon. The stones that stick up in a battlement.
Blood. Blood dries black, as Boiardo and his audience were well aware. The castle must do a lively business in executions.
29. Grifone. Not to be confused with Grifone son of Olivier or the various Grifones of House Maganza.

Book I, Canto VIII, Part 1

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

ARGUMENT

Rinaldo at the Joyous Isle arrives,
But it’s Angelica’s, and so he leaves.
To save a kidnapped damosel he tries,
But he himself is by a giant seized.
In Castle Cruel, an old hag describes
Her wicked customs, scarce to be believed,
Then throws Rinaldo in a monster’s den
Where gallantly he doth himself defend.

1
Rinaldo at the Joyous Palace lands,
(For thus the island he had come to hight)
Whereas his wayward bark ran on the sand,
That bark that steered, though with no pilot dight.
Fair shady trees within a garden stand,
The sea inclosed it, beating on each side.
All was abundance, green was all the isle,
That stretched its length and breadth for fifteen miles.

2
Amidst the garden, looking out to sea,
A palace rich and beautiful appeared
Of marble white, polished so wondrously
That all the garden in its walls was mirrored.
Upon the sand Rinald leapt instantly.
To stay upon th’enchanted boat he feared.
And when he stands upon the beach, there greets him
A lady beautiful, who sweetly greets him.

3
The lady said, “O worthy cavalier,
You have been hither led by kindly Fate.
Pray do not think that you were guided here
Without  a reason on your journey great
Though such strange passages, so full of fear.
Joyful and sweet will be your final state
And pleasant, though most painful was its start
If, as I think, you have a loving heart.”

4
As thus she spoke, she took him by the hand
And to the Palace Beautiful him led.
The doors were reed and white, with carvings grand,
With marble black and green and flecked, inset.
The very flooring upon which they stand
Is all of parti-colored marble set.
Loggias on ev’ry side great treasure hold
Of bas-reliefs, inlaid with blue and gold.

5
And hidden gardens, luscious, fresh and green
Are on the rooftops and upon the grounds.
With paintings rich, with gold and gems’ fair sheen
These noble, joyous pleasances abound.
Clear fountains and delightful spread their streams
Beneath the shady trees that ring them round.
And best of all, there wafted sweet perfume
To joy the heart that’s most beset with gloom.

6
The knight and dame go in a gallery
Rich and delicate and gaily trammeled.
For ev’ry face and corner you could see
Was decorated with gold and enamel.
The sunlight’s rays were gently blocked by trees,
The sweetest known in all of nature’s annals.
The columns which that lovely work uphold
Have crystal shafts and capitals of gold.

7
Into this loggia is the baron gone.
Of ladies beautiful there was a band.
Three sang together, while one played upon
An instrument unheard of in our lands,
But sweetly harmonized it with the song.
The other ladies in a ring did dance,
And when that worthy in the loggia found him,
The ladies came and formed a ring around him.

8
One of them, with a count’nance sweet and fine
Begins, “The tables are made ready, lord,
And now it is the hour when we dine.”
And so, upon the lush, sweet-smelling sward
Beneath a trellis rosy they recline,
Beside a fount whence waters clear outpoured.
Here all things for a feast were ready dight.
The plates were golden and the cloths pure white.

9
Four of the damsels at the table sit,
And bid Rinaldo take the highest place.
Rinaldo with astonishment is smit.
His chair with ornaments of pearls is graced.
He sees arriving viands delicate
And goblets decked with jewels from brim to base,
Filled up with wine of scent and taste superb.
Three of the damsels on Rinaldo serve.

10
The dinner ended, and they cleared away
The sparkling plates and chalices of gold.
On lutes and harps they now begin to play.
One of the ladies to Rinaldo stole
And softly in his ear began to say:
“This royal palace, all the wealth it holds,
(And thou hast not yet seen one half its treasures)
Are all thine own to deal with at thy pleasure.

11
Our Queen devised this palace for thy sake,
For thee alone, alone of all men born.
Thou art a worthy knight indeed, to wake
Love in her heart, who doth so many scorn.
She’s whiter than the lily on the brake,
And redder than the rose among the thorns;
Angelica the lovely maiden hight,
Who loves with heart and soul and mind and might.”

12
When Don Rinaldo, joyous past belief,
Hears the maid named whom he detesteth so,
He never in his life has felt such grief,
And on his face is plainly writ his woe.
He rates the palace at a withered leaf,
And has no wish but to arise and go.
But then the lady says, “Attend, good sir.
Deny thou canst not. Th’art our prisoner.

13
Thy sharp Fusberta will not help thee flee.
Hadst thou Baiard, yet couldst thou not take flight.
On ev’ry side we’re girded by the sea;
Thou must forgo thine arrogance and spite.
To change thy bitter heart behooveth thee.
My lady wishes nought besides thy sight.
If thou art scared of one whose love is great,
What will thou do to one who bears thee hate?”

14
The damsel  now seems bold and now seems meek,
But neither art affects the cavalier.
He does not listen to a word she speaks,
But turns and stalks out of the garden dear.
The Joyful Palace seems but dull and bleak,
As with a pitiless cold heart and fierce
Desiring nothing but to leave that place
Towards the sea he firmly set his face.

15
He seeks the bark that bore him to these shores,
And when he finds it, leaps into the stern.
He’d rather take his chance with wave and storm
Than ever to that garden fair return.
The boat won’t move. He thinks he’s all forlorn.
To leave this isle doth his spirit yearn
So much that he is just about to leap
Over the rails and drown him in the deep,

16
When suddenly the boat casts out to sea,
And soon the island out of sight has passed.
No words of mortal man could possibly
Describe how swift it went, it sailed so fast.
When morning dawns, before his eyes he sees
That he has landed by a forest vast.
When Don Rinaldo steps upon the sand,
At once he’s greeted by an ancient man.

17
The greybeard says, though weeping sore with grief,
“Oh, don’t abandon me, O worthy knight.
For chivalry, for honor, give relief
To this poor ancient and defend the right!
A false, deceitful, and most vicious thief
Has stol’n my only child, my daughter bright.
He just ran off, thou’lt catch him if th’art fleet.
They can’t have gone more than two hundred feet.

18
The cavalier by pity’s overcome.
He has his sword, although he lacks a steed.
Along the sand, in armor clad, he runs.
Not for an instant does he slack his speed.
When the false robber sees the champion come
He drops the lady, but he doesn’t flee.
Instead, a mighty horn he drew and wound,
And with that noise the earth and sky resound.

19
Rinaldo rushes up the slope and sees
Not far ahead of him, a little spit
Of rock that’s jutting out into the sea,
On top of which a crimson castle sits,
Whose drawbridge lowers when the horn blows free,
And a ferocious giant crosses it.
His head was sixteen feet above the land.
A chain and javelin he had in hand.

20
This great chain had a hook upon its tip
(Now see if you can guess the reason why)
When the fierce giant sees the knight, he grips
His dart, and raises it, and lets it fly.
All the way through Rinaldo’s shield it rips
(Although ‘twas finest steel; I do not lie)
Then pierced the hauberk and the mail within
And lightly pricked the worthy baron’s skin.

The Legend of Count Claros

Count Claros of Montalban, allegedly the son of Rinaldo, features in a very complicated tradition of Hispanic ballads. There are, according to the late lamented Samuel Armistead, the foremost expert on Sephardic balladry, seven essential themes, which were combined in a variety of ways.

1: Conde Claros y el emperador [Count Claros and the Emperor]. Claros asks the Emperor for money, who offers him as much as he needs. Claros asks for the hand of the princess, Claraniña. The Emperor will not grant it, as he has promised her to Don Beltrán.

2: Conde Claros insomne [Sleepless Count Claros]. Claros cannot sleep for thinking of Claraniña. He has his servant dress him, and he goes to the palace to see her.

3: Conde Claros y la infanta [Count Claros and the Princess]. Claraniña compliments Claros on his strong body, good for fighting Moors. He answers that it’s also good for pleasing dames. The two make love. A hunter finds them under a rose boush and tells the king. The king kills the hunter and orders Claros arrested.

4: Conde Claros preso [Count Claros Arrested]. Claros is thrown in jail for seducing the princess. She runs to the scaffold just as he is about to lose his head, stops the execution, and asks the king to spare his life. He does so and they are wed.

5: Conde Claros degollado [Count Claros Beheaded]. The king finds Claros and the princess together and throws him in jail. The court sentences him to death, and is is done. The king cuts his heart out and serves it to his daughter on a plate. She dies of grief, and the lovers are buried in one tomb.

6: Conde Claros y la infanta huyen a Montalbán [Count Claros and the Princess Flee to Montalbán]. Claros sends the princess to Montalbán, and then tells the king that his daughter is pregnant but that he is going to marry her. The king calls for his arrest, but he rides for his life through Paris. Roldán and Oliveros pursue him, but let him get away. They then persuade the king to pardon Claros, who weds the princess.

7: Conde Claros fraile [Count Claros in Friar’s Garb]. Claros tells the king that his daughter is pregnant but that he intends to marry her. The king throws her in a dungeon with water up to her waist, and plans to burn her at the stake. She sends a letter by her page to Claros, who disguises himself as a friar to hear her confession at the stake. She confesses that Claros is the only man she has ever been with, and so Claros carries her off on his horse.

Four ballads of Count Claros were printed in the Siglo d’Oro, and they follow.

“Media noche era por filo,” Duran 362, Primavera 190. = Insomne + Infanta + Preso
Count Claros of Montalvan, Renaldo’s son, cannot sleep for love of the princess Claraniña. He finally tells her that he’s loved her seven years. They arrange a meeting in the garden, where they act as man and wife, but are surprised by a gardener, who refuses Claros’ offer of land and his sister’s hand in marriage if he keeps silent. The gardener tells Charlemagne, who kills him in a fit of rage, then arrests Claros. He summons his barons, and sentences Claros to death. Claros’ uncle the archbishop [unnamed] visits him in prison, to bring the sad news. Claros sends a message by the bishop’s page to Claraniña, who meets him at the scaffold. Claraniña falls down before her father and beseeches pardon, for the sake of Renaldo his father, who died in battle. She obtains it and marries Claros.

“A caza va el Emperador,” Primavera 191, Duran 364. = Emperador + Fraile
Charlemagne rides out hunting with Count Claros. Claros asks for Claraniña’s hand in marriage, since he has had her these six months. Charlemagne rides back to the city in a fury, throws his daughter in prison, and sentences her to be burnt. She writes a letter to Claros, who rides to the court like mad. He presents himself to Charlemagne disguised as a friar, and asks to hear her confession. Instead of so doing, however, he tries to kiss her, and the truth comes out. Claros tells Charles she is innocent, but a knight who loves her and is jealous of Claros accuses the supposed friar of lying. They duel. Charlemagne recognized Claros by the way he tighten his saddle straps. Claros kills the knight and then rides off with Claraniña.

“A misa va el Emperador,” Primavera 192. = Emperador + Insomne + Montalbán
The Emperor [unnamed] goes to Mass on St. John’s Day with Count Claros. Claros complains that the Moors have taken his castle of Montalban, which the king gave him. He threatens to turn Moor himself if the king does not succor him. The king promises him arms, and summons Oliveros, Montesinos, Roldan, Urgel [Ogier], and Merian to help him. Claros now asks for the king’s daughter in marriage, but he says she is promised to Don Beltran. Claros returns to his home, but cannot sleep that night for love of the princess. He calls his servants to dress him in fancy clothes, and he goes to the princess, and bids her flee to Montalban. He then goes to the king and explains that the princess is with child and that he is going to marry her. The king calls for his blood, but Claros flees through the streets of Paris. Oliveros and Roldan follow him, but he persuades them to let him go free. They return to the court and stall Don Beltran and the king. They persuade the king to pardon Claros, and the lovers are married.

“Durmiendo está el conde Claros,” by Antonio Pansac. Duran 363. = Insomne + Degollado
Count Claros cannot sleep for love of the princess, so he dresses in finery and goes to woo the princess [unnamed], and wins her favors without blessing from the altar. The king [unnamed] finds them, and has the count executed, and presents his heart to the princess on a golden plate. She dies of grief, and the king lays them both in one tomb.

 

Segment 1, Emperador, is still sung by the Sephardic Jews in Morocco as a prologue to Insomne. In Aragon, it is a prelude to Fraile. In different versions, the hero (Claros, Niño, Flores, Vélez) laments that his uncle the emperor’s gift to him of Montalvan has not made him rich, or simply that he has lost his money. Once he is confident that the emperor approves of him, he asks for Claraniña. Occasionally, among the Eastern Sephardim, Emperador stands alone. An uncle and nephew race their horses, then the nephew asks his uncle for Claraniña/Blancaniña as his wife. The uncle reminds him that he didn’t want her when he first offered her, and says she is now betrothed to the Count of Livorno. But, since the nephew is a strong knight, he could, hypothetically, win her back. The nephew says that his weapons are in pawn, so the uncle gives him money and fine cloths. He rides through the city streets, slowly when there are people, quickly when there are none. The women ask him why is trying to destroy their city, but he answers he is only looking for Claraniña. Most versions end here, but some make him rescue her from a tall tower where she is dining with her husband the Count.

Segment 2, Insomne, is sung in Morocco with Emperador, as we have said. In Castille, it is a prologue to Infanta + Fraile. In Portugal and Catalonia, it introduces Infanta + Preso. Armistead mentions that it is sung in Asturias, but does not say with what. Different versions expand or contract the description of the Count’s lavish and expensive clothing. In Morocco, at the end of Emperador, the emperor announces that Claros and Claraniña’s betrothed, the Count of Montalban, will duel for her hand the next day. After a sleepless night, Claros is armed (in a very long, elaborate description of his clothing) and rides through the streets, making sparks fly. The denouements vary widely. Claros wins the duel, or he stops outside Claraniña’s window to ask whom she loves best. She says “Count Albar,” and he faints. Luckily, she was only jesting, and she weds Claros the next day. Or, she really does love Count Albar better, and marries him. Or, after she makes her jest, Claros drops dead or rides away in madness. Claraniña, repentant too late, jumps from the window.

Segment 3, Infanta¸is sung with Fraile in Morocco and Castille, with Insomne and Preso in Catalonia, and with Insomne, Preso, and/or Fraile in Portugal. It also survives in fragments among the Gypsies of Andalusia. When it stands on its own or begins the ballad, it usually begins with a description of the princess leaving the palace, or coming home from the baths, though sometimes they simply meet in the garden. Various versions tone up or down how explicit the love-making is, and how willing the princess is. Usually the lovers try to bribe the hunter (sometimes a page, or squire, etc.) to keep silent, offering money, or the princess’ cousin in marriage. In Portugal, the hunter’s rejection of the bribes is because he was in love with Claraniña. The hunter’s execution is sometimes explained as being because he has brought dishonor on the king by telling his story in public.

Segment 4, Preso, is sung alone in León, and as a sequel to (Insomne +) Infanta in Asturias, Portugal, Brazil, Catalonia, and Argentina. Generally shorter than “Media noche era por filo”, but as far as I know changing the plot only by dropping such incidents as the prison visit, if at all. Two sections of Preso, from “Media noche era por filo” were extracted, expanded, and became popular songs in their own right. One, Pésame de vos, el conde, attributed Juan del Encina, expands the dialogue between Count Claros and the archbishop in prison. Another, Más envidia he de vos, conde, expands the dialogue between Claros and the bishop’s page. Both dwell on the idea that love does not deserve to be punished by death.

Segments 5 and 6 have not survived in oral tradition, if they were ever a part of it.

Segment 7, Fraile, is by far the most popular, sung in Morocco, Castile, Portugal, Catalonia, the Canaries, the Azores, Madeira and Brazil. Very rarely, it stands alone, and begins with the king asking his three daughters which one of them is pregnant, before sentencing the guilty one to burn. She then sends for a page to take the message, etc. Slightly less rarely, it is preceeded by Insomne + Infanta. Most commonly, however, it begins with verses taken from other ballads known as Aliarda y el alabancioso (also called Alabanza) and Infanta parida. This version is known as Lisarda, (the name generally given to the Princess). The hero has his way with the heroine, despite her protests (Alabanza). The next day, he boasts that he has slept with the most beautiful woman in the world. The king says that woman is his daughter (Parida). Then he has her imprisoned, she sends a message, etc. Still other versions run Insomne + Infanta + Alabanza + Parida + Fraile.

In “A caza va el Emperador”, the king throws his daughter in the waist-deep cold water to cause an abortion. This horrid detail was surpressed in all popular traditions, most of which tone down her imprisonment even further. The page (pajecito) who takes the message sometimes becomes a bird (pajarito), and from this, probably, an angel. Sometimes the hero’s mother suggests the friar disguise. His ride to the rescue covers a fortnight’s journey in a week. He usually speaks to his horse to encourage it, and sometimes the horse replies with advce to get him stronger shoes. In traditional versions, there is no duel, only the attempt to kiss her and the confession. They mount and ride away immediately from the scaffold, without waiting for the king’s pardon.

Some add ringing conclusions: the hero slays seven guards; the princess says that she will never hear the bells of her city again; the hero shouts that the king will never see them again. In others, the princess returns after seven years to rebuke her family for trying to burn her, or she sends her son or her twin children to do the same. In still other versions, the princess does not realize that the friar is her lover. Once they are safely away, he asks her why she weeps, and she tells him she would rather burn than be a friar’s mistress, whereupon he reveals himself.

Claraniña sometimes becomes Claralinda, or has her name changed completely, often to Galanzuca or Lizarda, but there are many other names for her. Sometimes she is given a brother named Rondale, i.e. Roland. Claros is sometimes replaced with Oliveros del Mar, or with Carlos Magnos. Other times he is simply known as Count of Montalban, or as Count Alvar. Due to the frequent changes of names, there are some localities where, for example, Infanta + Fraile and Emperador + Insomne are both sung, without any realization that they used to be connected.

Compare Fraile with Lady Maisry (Child 65), the German The King of Mailand, and the Hungarian The Dishonored Maiden.

The Legend of the Death of Malagise

The Legend of the Death of Malagise is to be found in two chansons de geste, both known as La Mort Maugis:

The N Version: MS, Bib. Nat. Fr. 766. C. 1300. French rhymed alexandrines, following Renaud de Montauban.

The B Version: London BM Royal 16 G II. Around 1450. French rhymed alexandrines, following a prose adaptation of Renaud de Montauban. Printed under the title “Renaut de Montauban, deuxième fragment rimé du manuscrit de Londres, British Library, Royal 16 G II (“B”). Édition critique par Philippe Verelst, Gent, Romanica Gandensia, 1988.”

MANUSCRIPT N: BIB. NAT. FR. 766 (NEMOURS)

Containing Maugis D’Aigremont, Renaud de Montauban, and La Mort Maugis.

Maugis, in his hermitage with Baiard, is praying for the Peers, when an angel tells him to go be shriven by Pope Simon, his cousin. The Pope makes him a Roman senator, but the others dislike him. Next morning, as the Pope says Mass, an angel leaves a letter on the altar, bidding the Pope send Maugis to Charles. The Pope gives Maugis a letter of his own, and Maugis arrives at Paris, disguises Baiard black, is almost recognized by his cousins, and reveals himself to Charles. The letter from the Pope bids Charles put Maugis to any ordeal whatsoever. Maugis emerges unscathed from boiling oil, pitch and lead, after which Charles showers him with honors. But then, a messenger arrives from Montauban: the Saracens are besieging it. Maugis, Alard, Guichard, Richard, Aymonet, Yonnet, Richard of Normandy, and others go to raise the siege. Begues the Arabian is slain, but Marsile routs the Christians. Alard, Guichard, Richard, Aymonet and Yonnet take refuge in a cave, while Richard of Normandy defends the entrance. He is forced to retreat, however, and Escorfaut lights a fire at the entrance, smothering the Aymonids. Maugis drives off the Pagans and buries his family. He then rides Baiard to Rome, where Simon dies. The Romans try to elect Maugis Pope in his place. He flees, however, and returns to his hermitage. Charlemagne, meanwhile, has a dream that an angel orders him to make war on the Spaniards. In the morning, Richard of Normandy arrives and tells him the sad news. Maugis dies in his hermitage in the forest of Ardennes, and Baiard still lives there, and can be heard neighing every feast of Saint John the Baptist.

MANUSCRIPT B: London BM Royal 16 G II.

Containing Renaud de Montauban in verse and prose, and La Mort Maugis in verse.

Maugis decides to go to Rome of his own accord. Maugis is made bishop, cardinal, and finally Pope, under the name of Innocent. He summons Charlemagne to be shriven, and Charles confesses his hatred of Maugis, who reveals himself, and the two are reconciled. Maugis resigns the Papacy, and returns to Charles’ court, until one day he, Alard, Richard, and Guichard are at a tournament in Naples [perhaps Nobles in Spain], where Ganelon lures them into a cave, lights a fire at the entrance, and smothers them.

THE ORIGINS OF THE LEGEND

Will be dealt with more fully under Maugis d’Aigremont and The Four Sons of Aymon. For now, let it suffice to note that Maugis is based on Adalgis, son of King Desiderius of Lombardy. The manner of Adalgis’ death is not known to history.

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 2: The Original Version

Renaud de Montauban, also called Les Quatre Filz Aymon, is the oldest (surviving) version of the adventures of Rinaldo and his family. It is an Old French chanson de geste in assonanced and rhymed alexandrines. There are at least two redactions of every part of the poem, but the eleven manuscripts switch from one redaction to the other with gay abandon, and no two MSS parallel each other’s switches exactly. They are listed here in roughly chronological order, followed by a summary of the story according to the oldest (surviving) MS.

D: Oxford Bodleian Douce 121. c. 1250. The oldest, though not in all respects a perfect representation of the original. Beginning missing down to the battle of Lohier’s and Bueves’ men. Contains only Renaud de Montauban. Printed by Jacques Thomas, under the title “Renaut de Montauban. Édition critique du manuscrit Douce”. Genève, Droz (Textes littéraires français, 371), 1989.

Z: Metz Municipale 192. 1250-1300. Contained only Renaud de Montauban. Ending lost, after Maugis’ departure from Montauban. Entire MS destroyed in the Second World War. Only portions were printed.

P: Cambridge, Peterhouse, 205. 1275-1300. Contains Maugis D’Aigremont and Renaud de Montauban. 

N: Paris Bib. Nat. fr. 766. circa 1300. Formerly known as C. Contains Maugis D’Aigremont, Renaud de Montauban, and La Mort Maugis.

O: Oxford Bodleian Laud misc. 637. 1333. Contains Renaud de Montauban and miscellaneous texts on various Kings of England.

C: Paris Bib. Nat. fr. 775. 1325 to 1350. Formerly known as B. Contains only Renaud de Montauban.

L: Paris Bib. Nat. fr. 24.387. Around 1300. Also known as La Valliere. Older sources mistakenly considered this the earliest manucript. Contains Renaud de Montauban and Li Romans de Sapience, which is a French verse translation of some parts of the Bible. Printed by Castets under the title “La chanson des quatre fils Aymon d’après le manuscrit La Vallière”. 1909.

M: Montpellier Fac. Medicine H. 247. Believed to be an abridgement of Z. 1350-1400.  Contains Doon de Mayence, Gaufrey, Ogier le Danois, Gui de Nanteuil, Maugis D’Aigremont (abridged) Vivien l’Amachour (probably abridged, but no other copies are known), and Renaud de Montauban (abridged, ending lost, stops in the middle of one of Renaud’s battles in the Holy Land.)

V: Venice St. Mark fr. XVI. 1390 to 1400. Contains only Renaud de Montauban, last few pages lost. Ends abruptly as Renaud and Maugis prepare to battle the Saracens in the Holy Land.

A: Paris, Arsenal 2990. Around 1400. Contains only Renaud de Montauban.

H: Oxford Hatton 59. Three fragments. The first and third are unprinted, I believe. The second begins with the counsel of Yon and his barons before Valcoleurs, and ends I know not where. It was printed by Waltur Erdmann under the title “Fragment II der Oxforder Renaut-Handschrift Hatton 59 : Die an den Verrat der Haimonskinder bei Valkulur sich anschliessenden Scenen”. The third begins I know not where and ends with the drowning of Baiard, claiming that the story ends there.

Arlima, at the time of writing, wrongly lists Paris Arsenal 3151 and 5071-5073 as verse, when they are really in prose.

There are also comparative editions, giving all the manuscripts of a certain passage.
Of the Ardennes episode: Jacques Thomas’ “L’épisode ardennais de Renaut de Montauban. Édition synoptique des versions rimées”. From the arrival of the Four Sons at court to their departure for Gascony.
Of the treason of Vaucoleurs: Antonella Negri: “L’episodio di Vaucouleurs nelle redazioni in versi del “Renaut de Montauban””. 1996. From Charles’ sending of a messenger to King Yon to the arrival of Maugis at the Rock and his healing of Richard.
Of the drowning of Baiard: Jaques Thomas’ “La Sortie de Bayard selon les Differents Manuscrits en Vers et en Prose” in Romanica Gandensia XVIII: Etudes sur “Renaut de Montauban”.
Comparative editions of the siege of Tremoigne, the Pilgrimage, and the Martyrdom exist as unpublished theses in the University of Ghent and will probably never see the light of day. Support copyright reform!

M is a vast collection of romances from the Geste de Doon de Mayence, and its copy of Les Quatre Fils Aymon stands apart from all the others by reason of its extreme abridgement. Since the other two Renaud romances in this manuscript, the Maugis d’Aigremont and the Vivien de Monbranc, are also highly abridged, it is generally assumed that the abridgement was the work of an impatient scribe and was not an independent tradition.

A SUMMARY OF THE  STORY ACCORDING TO DOUCE – THE OLDEST SURVIVING VERSION

MANUSCRIPT D: DOUCE

Containing only Renaut de Montauban.

There were four brothers: Girard of Roussillon, Doon of Nanteuil, Aymon of Dordonne, and Beuve of Aigremont. At Pentecost, Charlemagne summons to his court certain knights who had failed to help him in his war against the Saxon King Guitequin, where Baudoin died. One of these is Beuve of Aigremont. To him, therefore, the emperor sends his son Lohier as a messenger. Bueve and Lohier treat each other so insolently that a general melee breaks out in the city, and Lohier is slain. Beuve sends his corpse to Charles.

Meanwhile, Charles is fuming at court. Aymon offers his services to the king if war should break out, and Charles dubs Aymon’s sons Alard, Renaud, Guichard, and Richard knights. He gives Renaud the fairy horse Baiard (from Normandy), and the sword Froberge [Fusberta]. As they are tilting at the quintaine in the ensuing celebrations, the corpse of Lohier arrives. Charlemagne weeps, and Aymon and his sons quietly slip away to Dordonne.

Charlemagne sends Ogier as messenger to Bueve offering peace, but then sends Grifon de Hauteville and Foulques de Morrillon to ambush him on the road and kill him. It is done, and a few survivors escape to Aigremont, where Bueve’s son Maugis swears vengeance. Maugis goes to his uncles Girard and Doon, who lead their army into France, and are stopped at Troyes, where, after a battle with Charlemagne’s army, led by Richard of Normandy, they make peace. Charlemagne returns to Paris to celebrate, and among those assembled are Aymon, his children, and Maugis. Amidst the festivities, Renaud quarrels with the king’s nephew Bertholet over a game of chess. Bertholet strikes Renaud, who appeals to Charlemagne, who refuses to grant him justice, and so Renaut kills Bertholet with the chessboard. The Four Sons flee, Aymon disowns them, swears allegiance to Charles, and bars Dordonne against his sons, who flee to the forest of Ardennes, where they build a castle by the Meuse and name it Montessor.

Charlemagne lays siege to Montessor. At Naimes’ advice, he offers to raise the siege if the brothers will hand over Richard to be executed. They refuse, and begin to wait out the siege. At last, Renaud decides to sortie. Renaud fights Aymon, Charlemagne’s army retreats, and Renaud’s men return to Montessor with plunder. As winter draws nigh, Charles sends a traitor to Montessor to pretend to be a disaffected vassal of his. The traitor is warmly received, but opens the gates that night. The Four Sons must flee. They hide in the Forest of Arden. Charles returns home, as does Aymon. On his way to Dordonne, his sons approach him, but he is accompanied by one of Charles’ men, and so defies them. In the ensuing battle, all Renaud’s men save the brothers are slain. Aymon rides to Charles for reinforcements, is rebuffed, and returns to Dordonne. The brothers live in poverty in Arden, robbing passers-by. They barely survive the winter.

In spring they go as beggars to Dordonne, where they reveal themselves to their mother. Aymon, due to his oath, cannot give them supplies, but allows them to take as much as they need. Maugis arrives with treasure stolen from Charlemagne in Orleans, and the five head south.

In Gascony, the brethren take service with King Yon, and defeat for him an invading Saracen king named Begue. King Yon, in gratitude, gives them permission to build a castle not far from Dordogne, which they name Montauban. He also gives his sister Clarice to Renaud in marriage, and the happy couple have two sons, Aymonet and Yonnet.

But no happiness can last. Charlemagne, returning from a pilgrimage to Saint James, passes by Montauban, and is furious to learn that the Four Sons are alive and well. Charlemagne orders Yon to hand them over, and when he refuses, swears to return with all his army. First, however, he must defeat the Saxons, who are besieging Cologne. He sends his nephew Roland, who has just come to court for the first time and is looking to prove himself. Roland returns with glory, and Charles announces he will offer his crown as the prize of a horse race, with the intent to buy the winning horse for Roland. He sets Ogier, Naimes, and Fouques of Morillon to guard the south road, lest Renaud come. Maugis disguises Renaud and Baiard by magic, and Renaud pretends to be a Breton who speaks no French. The Peers do not recognize them, but their host does, and starts to run for Charlemagne, but Renaud kills him. He then wins the race, reveals himself, mocks Charles, and flees with his crown.

[Around here the poem changes from rhyme to assonance]

Charles comes into Gascony, and makes his headquarters at Monbendel, whence he sends messengers to Yon to plot treason. Yon is at first angry enough to try to hang the messenger, but his barons calm him and persuade him to hold a counsel. They overrule him and oblige him to agree to the treason. Yon tells the brethren that he has achieved peace with Charlemagne. The brethren are to wear red robes send by Charles and meet him unarmed in the field of Vaucoleurs. They do so, and Charles’ men fall on them. In the fight, they kill Foulques of Morillon, and then flee to the top of a rock, which is so constituted that the four of them can hold it against thousands. Ogier the Dane, however, the commander of Charles’ men, is cousin to the Sons and does not particularly wish to fight them. He sends a detachment to Montauban, ostensibly to capture Maugis, but really to alert him. Maugis arrives on Baiard, cures the wounds of his cousins, and they all escape. Yon, terrified, flees to a monastery, but Roland, who detests traitors, drags him therefrom, intending to hang him outside Montauban, which Charles is now besieging. Renaud’s brothers persuade him to rescue the King, and they do so. Renaud fights Roland in single combat, but the melee soon becomes general, and the Gascons retreat to the castle, not realizing Richard has been captured. When they do realize it, Maugis disguises himself as a pilgrim and sets out for Charlemagne’s camp, pretending to have been robbed by Maugis. He fools Charles and begins spying, and sees Roland arrive with his prisoner Richard. Maugis returns to Montauban with the news

Charlemagne wishes to hang Richard, but none of his barons are willing to carry out the execution, except Ripeus of Ripemont. Richard’s brothers lead their army and rescue him at the very foot of the gallows, slaying Ripeus despite his pleas for mercy. Richard dons Ripeus’ armor and goes to Charles’ camp, where he reveals himself to Ogier and Charles. Charles starts a fight, but Renaud comes to his brothers aid. He offers to hand over Montalban and Baiard to Charles, and go to the Holy Land with Maugis, but Charlemagne refuses. In the ensuing battle, Renaud trashes Charlemagne’s pavilion and steals the golden eagle that was on top of it. They return to Montalban, failing to realize that Maugis has been captured by Oliver. Charles wishes to hang Maugis at once, but Maugis persuades the Peers to stand as his securities until dawn. Maugis eats dinner at Charles’ table with a hearty appetite. Charles is too nervous to eat. At midnight, Maugis puts a spell on his guards, Charles, and the Paladins, breaks his chains, steals the royal crown and the swords of the Peers, awakens Charles to mock him, and flees to Montauban. An attempt at negotiation breaks down, even though Charles’ Peers are thoroughly sick of the war, and Roland, Ogier and Naimes actually go to Montauban and are received hospitably by Renaud. Charles continues the siege, and one night Maugis slips into Charles’ camp, puts him to sleep, and carries him off to Montauban, whence he (Maugis) departs in pilgrim’s clothes. He finds an abandoned hermitage near the Dordogne, where hs takes up residence.

[The poem changes from assonance to rhyme as Maugis is leaving]

In the morning, Richard wishes to hang Charles, but Renaud wishes to make peace, and lets Charles go. Charles, however, will not make peace until Maugis is dead and does not believe that Renaud has no idea where he is. Nonetheless, Renaud lets him go, and he resumes the siege, which lasts until the Four Sons are on the verge of starvation. They eat all the horses except Baiard. Aymon obtains permission to oversee Charles’ catapults and begins throwing his sons food. Charles finds out, puts a stop to it, and the Four Sons, Baiard, Yon, Clarice, Yonnet and Aymonet are soon the only ones left alive. Renaud cannot bring himself to kill Baiard, but he is obliged to bleed him. At last they flee by a secret passage and make their way to Dortmund, across the Rhine. The bells ring by themselves at Renaud’s arrival.

Charlemagne has taken Montauban, meanwhile, and is furious to find he has been tricked. He is implacable, and follows them to Dortmund to begin a third siege. Renaud offers to surrender, but Charles demands Maugis, who is not there. Maugis is at his hermitage, but worries about his cousins and goes to succor them at Montauban. Learning his error, he comes to Tremoigne. He passes through Charlemagne’s camp disguised as a pilgrim, and enters the city. The next day, Alard captures Charlemagne’s baron Richard of Normandy in battle. That night, Maugis goes to Charlemagne’s camp and captures his son Charlot by magic. He leaves him in Tremoigne and then departs for the Holy Land. Renaud prepares to hang the captives, whereupon Charlemagne is forced by his barons to agree to peace. Baiard will be surrendered to him, Renaud and Maugis will go on pilgrimage, and the other three brothers will be honored at court. Yon retires to a monastery, where he dies. Charlemagne throws Baiard into the Rhine, but the horse breaks its bonds, swims to safety, and flees. He will eventually find Maugis in Valfondee. Renaud leaves his sons in the care of Ogier, Tremoigne in the hands of Clarisse, and Montauban to his brethren, and departs.

He meets up with Maugis in Acre [Baiard is specifically stated to be absent.]. Maugis and Renaud help Geoffrey of Nazareth repel the Sultan of Persia, who is invading Jerusalem. They turn down the offer of the throne and return home. Maugis retires to a hermitage in the wilderness, and Renaud goes to court, where he learns that Clarisse is dead. Aymonet and Yonnet fight a duel against the sons of Foulques of Morillon, and win. Renaud’s brothers return to Montauban, and Renaud wanders for a time in the forest, occasionally staying at a monastery, until he comes to Cologne, where he offers his services to the masons who are building the Church of Saint Peter. Renaud lifts a stone which four other men cannot carry, does more work than ten other men can do, and only accepts enough wages as will buy him bread to eat and straw to sleep on. This goes on for some time, until the other masons, growing jealous, kill him and throw his body into the Rhine. But all the fish of the river hold the body up, and at nightfall torches appear around it and angels begin to sing. The murderers confess and are pardoned, and the archbishop goes to fetch the body, brings it into Saint Peter’s, and sings Mass over it. After the Mass, Renaud’s body is miraculously carried out of the church and into a cart, which travels of its own accord from Cologne to Tremoigne, where the bells sound on their own. His brothers arrive and weep over his body. God works many miracles at his tomb [they are not specified].