The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 1 – Overview

The legend of Renaud of Montalban, or Renard, or Rinaldo, is to be found in the following versions:

Renaud de Montauban, also called Les Quatre Fils Aymon. A French chanson de geste in assonanced and rhymed alexandrines. Eleven manuscripts, all different. There are at least two redactions of every part of the poem, but the manuscripts switch from one redaction to the other with gay abandon, and no two MSS parallel each other’s switches exactly.

The completely rhymed redaction of the Quatre Fils, which vastly expands the adventures of Renaud in the Holy Land.

A mise en prose, made for the Burgundian court. Not printed.

David Aubert’s abridgement of the foregoing in his Conquests of Charlemagne.

The Count de Tressan’s version in the Bibliotheque Universelle des Romans.

The French mise en prose of the original Renaud de Montauban.

The chapbooks and the Bibliotheque Bleue, innumerable editions, each faithfully copying the omissions and errors of its predecessors and adding new ones of its own.

Buch der vier süne Aimonts. German prose, from the 1521 French prose. Survives in the Aarau manuscript, and a printed edition by Jheronimus zu Simmern of 1533. Neither achieved any popularity, and the standard German version is from the Dutch.

William Caxton’s The Right Pleasant and Goodly History of the Four Sons of Aymon, from the French prose.

Renout van Montalbaen, a Dutch verse adaptation. 1200’s. Only fragments survive. Editions:
Renout van Montalbaen, met inleidning en aanteekeningen door Dr. J. C. Matthes, Groningen, Wolters (Bibliotheek van middelnederlandsche letterkunde, 15), 1875. This one has six of the fragments.
Roethe, G., “Günser Bruchstück des mnl. Renout von Montalbaen”Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Litteratur, 48, 1906. This one has a seventh fragment.

Vita Sancti Reinoldi Rythmice. A Latin saint’s life in verse, printed by Joseph Floss in Annalen des historischen Vereins für den Niederrhein, inbesondere das alte Erzdiöcese Köln, Volume 30, 1876, pages 185-203. Clearly from the Dutch, as evidenced by the names of the brethern, their mother’s being the sister of Charles, Clarice being Yon’s daughter, and Renaud’s slaying of three sultans in the Holy Land.

De Historie van den vier Heemskindern. Dutch prose adaptation, 1508. This is the ancestor of the Dutch chapbooks. Edition: De Historie van den vier Heemskindern editor G. S. Overdiep, 1931, available for free online from the Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren. A beautiful edition.

In 1619 a censored edition, expunging passages considered contrary to morals and the Catholic faith, received the imprimatur, and became the standard version in the Catholic Low Countries. The Protestants continued to print the old version. The censored version was used in Dutch schools well into the twentieth century, and thus escaped the corruptions of the popular French versions.

Die vier Heymons Kinder. German prose adaptiation of 1604. The standard German edition and ancestor of the German chapbooks.

Reinolt von Montelban oder die Heimonskinder. Middle High German verse, 1450. Two manuscripts survive, complete. Edition: Reinolt von Montelban oder die Heimonskinder, edited by Fridrich Pfaff, 1885, Volume 174 of the Bibliothek des Litterarischen Vereins in Stuttgart.

Histôrie van Sent Reinolt. Short prose adaptation of the Dutch poem and other sources into Colgone-dialect German, c. 1450. Edited by Al. Reiffersheid. Zeitschrift für deutsches Philologie. Volume 5, 1874, pp. 271-293.

A hypothetical lost Italian poem, perhaps Franco-Italian.

I Cantari di Rinaldo da Monte Albano, Palatine ms. An Italian poem in ottava rima, probably based on a lost franco-italian poem. The war against the famous Mambrino is added between the sieges of Montalban and Tremoigne.

El Inamoramento de Rinaldo da Monte Albano. The aforesaid Cantari, with the story of Fierabras interpolated, a prologue dealing with the feud of Aymon and Ginamo of Baiona added, and many episodes lengthened. Also printed under the title of Rinaldo Innamorato.

Rinaldo, by Torquato Tasso. In ottava rima. Translated into English couplets by John Hoole, and into rhyming octaves by Max Wickert.

Another version of the Cantari di Rinaldo, only printed once, in ottava rima, makes Rinaldo visit the Sultan before offering his services to the Almostante of Persia.

Storie di Rinaldo. The same reduced to prose, possibly by Andrea da Barberino. No modern edition.

Magus saga Jarls. An Icelandic saga, in two redactions.

Vita Sancti Reinoldis Monachis et Martyris, a Latin saint’s life, printed by the Bollandists in the Acta Sanctorum, January Volume 1, pages 385-387.

The Spanish prose Reinaldos de Montalban, the form in which Rinaldo was known to Cervantes and Don Quixote, is not from the Quatre Fils. This book is a collection of translations of purely literary Italian poems. Books I and II are from the Innamoramento di Carlo Magno. Book III from La Trabesonda, and Book IV from Baldo, all of which will be treated of later on.

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