The Legend of Renaud 9: Saint Reinolt of Cologne

The legend of the martyrdom of Renaud of Montauban, or Rinaldo, is found in two stand-alone versions, besides those at the end of the Quatre Fils Aymon.

For editions of the Quatre Fils, see my other posts. A complete synoptic version of the martyrdom exists as a thesis at the University of Ghent but will likely never be printed. Support copyright reform!

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.

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.

La Quatre Fils Aymon – Original

According to the Quatre Fils, the penitent Renaud, after seeing his two sons established in their patrimony, 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 the church, 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 all the sick who seek him are made whole. According to DN and the Dutch, the corpse went straight from Cologne to Tremoigne. According to LC, it stopped in Ceoigne for the night before proceeding to Tremoigne. According to POA and the French prose, it stopped at Ceoigne and went no farther.

In DN, the masons drop a stone from a scaffold onto Renaud’s head as he humbly eats his poor bread. In all other versions, French, Dutch and Latin, they kill him with their hammers or pickaxes. Castets, who thought L was the oldest version, suspected that the variance was due to a confusion between martel meaning hammer and marteau meaning stone block. Perhaps he is right, or perhaps, since D is actually the oldest, he had the matter backwards, and Hunaud I who was killed lapidibus [by stones] became Renaud who was killed, lapicidus [by stonemasons], with a hammer.

The Prose Life of Saint Reinold

The prose Vita Sancti Reinoldi, monachi et martyris completely ignores its hero’s military career. It makes briefly alludes to his wars against Charlemagne, but never makes mention of his horse Baiard, or of his cousin Maugis the enchanter or of his sons Aymonet and Yonnet. It alludes to the fame of the four brothers [whom it does not name] being celebrated in the songs of the people, but that is all. By contrast, the Vita recounts several miracles of Reinold which are not to be found in the Quatre Fils. The writer claims Reinold, after a knightly career, joined a monastery [which one is not specified] in Cologne. While he was still a monk, God answered his prayers by curing a man who had been born blind, and a boy who was sick with a dangerous fever. After these things, by devout prayer he obtained from God the end of a pestilence that was ravaging the country. His fame spread, and songs were sung about him. At his abbot’s orders, he was put in charge of the stonemasons. He continued to visit churches and to devoutly give alms, besides working harder than any of the men under his command. The other masons, excited by jealousy, broke his skull with a hammer, and threw him into the Rhine. Angels bore his soul to heaven. The abbot, searching for the body, could not find it. However, an old and infirm woman had a dream in which she was told to go the river, where blessed Reinold is buried. Upon awakening, she did so and was healed. The monks took his body to the Church and honored him as a saint. Sometime later, the cities of Tremoigne and Clerum [apparently Ceoigne] both wished to have some of the relics of Reinold, and the Archbishop was unsure which to give them to. The Lord indicated Tremoigne [how we are not told], and Reinold’s body was carried thither, without a miracle, but accompanied by three thousand rejoicing citizens. He was laid to rest there on the seventh of January. God continues to work miracles there. The blind have been cured, lepers cleansed and paralytics restored.

There are no dates given whatsoever. The suggestion of the Bollandists that the Archbishop who oversaw the translation of the relics was St. Anno II (r. 1056-1075) is no more than a guess.

The Verse Life of Saint Reinold

The verse Vita Sancti Reynoldi is accompanied in the manuscript by a prose commentary which mostly repeats the same story but sometimes adds new details. The poem tells how Adelhardus, Ritzardus, Reynoldus, and Writardus were Frenchmen, born at Dorduna to Heymon and Aya, daughter of Pipin and sister of King Charles. The four were mighty men of war. Reynoldus was a Catholic man and a great warrior who was filled with virtue and the fear of God and wished to renounce the world. He called his sons and divided his property among them and his wife Claritia, (who is here the daughter, not the sister, of King Ivonis of Tarascon). He leaves the castle of Montalban to his son Emericus, and departs for the wilderness. His father, mother and brothers pursue him but cannot find him. For three years he serves God in the wilderness, until he hears a voice from God telling him to go fight the infidels in Jerusalem. He does so, slaying three Sultans with only a staff. He then returns home, briefly visits Charlemagne’s court, and then goes to Cologne, where Agilolphus (r. 713-717) is bishop. (A medieval note in the manuscript suggests Riolphus (r. 768-782) as the proper reading). Reynoldus lives such a holy life that he cures the blind, dumb, and possessed. The “magister claustri” [abbot] appoints him to oversee the stonemasons. He works harder than any of them, which arouses their envy, and so they kill him. This is the fourteenth of May, the year 800, according to the prose gloss. Reynoldus, now enjoying the beatific vision, appears to a paralytic woman and heals her, and some time afterward an angel shows where his body is lying, and on the third of September it is drawn out of the river and put on display in a church in Cologne, where God cures many more people through it. The people of Tremoigne wish to have the body, and their request is granted. The body is laid in a cart, which moves of its own accord to Tremoigne. The people of Tremoigne build a church for him, whither Charlemagne comes to mourn his nephew.

OTHER VERSIONS

Outside of the chanson, the oldest explicit reference to Renaud of Montauban as a saint is to be found in the work of Alberic of Trois-Fontaines, writing around the year 1232. According to Alberic, Renaldus, Alardus, Richardus, and Guichardus were the four sons of Haymo [Aymon] and of a sister of Charlemagne’s. Saint Renaldus was the oldest of the four, became a monk in the abbey of Saint Pantaleon at Cologne, was there martyred [how is not specified], and is now buried in Tremoigne. Alberic relates their history as a brief aside during a list of Charlemagne’s warriors who accompanied him into Spain in the year 805. He never mentions it elsewhere, so it is unclear what year he thought the martyrdom occurred.

In a ninth century missal from the Cathedral of Cologne, someone has written in tenth century handwriting the names “reginoldi” and “reginoldo” on the margins of the Collect and Postcommunion of the Mass of a martyr. Unfortunately, nothing is known about this saint. The names are all that were thus written, and the prayers themselves are the generic ones from the common of martyrs, and therefore shed no light on how this Reginoldus died. However, he is almost certainly the same saint still venerated today. Paul Fiebig, whose St. Reinoldus in Kult, Liturgie und Kunst is still the definitive book on the cult of St. Reinolt, lists all the other saints he could find named Renaud or something similar, but none of them was a martyr or lived in the 900’s or earlier.

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The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 8: German, More Dutch, and Latin Verse

The Quatre Fils Aymon gave rise to a Dutch poem, which begot a multitude of descendents of its own, as follows.

Renout van Montalbaen, in Dutch verse. 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 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 and German 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.

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.

LATIN VERSE VITA

Adelhardus, Ritzardus, Reynoldus, and Writardus were Frenchmen, born at Dorduna to Heymon and Aya, daughter of Pipin and sister of King Charles. The four were mighty men of war. Reynoldus was a Catholic man and a great warrior who was filled with virtue and the fear of God and wished to renounce the world. He called his sons and divided his property among them and his wife Claritia, daughter of King Ivonis of Tarascon. He leaves the castle of Montalban to his son Emericus and departs for the wilderness. His father, mother and brothers pursue but cannot find him. For three years he serves God in the wilderness until he hears a voice from God telling him to go fight the infidels in Jerusalem. He does so, slaying three Sultans with only a staff. He then returns home, briefly visits Charlemagne’s court [we are not told why], and then goes to Cologne, where Agilolphus (r. 713-717) is bishop. (A medieval note in the manuscript suggests that Riolphus (r. 768-782) is the proper reading). Reynoldus lives such a holy life that he cures the blind, dumb, and possessed. The “magister claustri” [abbot] appoints him to oversee the stonemasons. He works harder than any of them, which arouses their envy, and so they kill him. This is the fourteenth of May, the year 800, according to the prose gloss. Reynoldus, now enjoying the beatific vision, appears to a paralytic woman and heals her. Some time afterward an angel shows where his body is lying, and on the third of September it is drawn out of the river and put on display in a church in Cologne, where God cures many more people through it. The people of Tremoigne wish to have the body, and their request is granted. The body is laid in a cart, which moves of its own accord to Tremoigne. The people of Tremoigne build a church for him, whither Charlemagne comes to mourn his nephew.

DUTCH PROSE

One version of the Dutch prose (my source does not specify which) has the masons kill Reinolt with a rock, instead of their hammers, as is usual in this family. The Catholic versions removed Malegys’ magical escapes from prison, and changed Turpin from a bishop to an ordinary knight. The Catholic version was used for centuries to teach children to read, and its status as a textbook preserved it from the corruptions of its French chapbook cousins.

GERMAN CHAPBOOK

The German prose of 1604 lays especial emphasis on the Catholic practices of the knights, owing to the Counter-Reformation. I cannot find whether it censored the antics of Malegys and Turpin or not. It became the standard German version, and the ancestor of the chapbooks, about which I can find no further details.

HISTORIE VAN SENT REINOLT

The story begins as a mere summary of the Dutch-German poem, omitting such details as Reinolt’s treatment of his father, with no indication of Reinolt’s eventual sanctity until his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The death of Hugh of Dordonne is said to be in 800. The bishop of Cologne is identified as Agiliolphus. Reinolt is canonized by Pope Leo. [Pope St. Leo III r. 795-816]. This version found its way into various German copies of the Golden Legend and was translated into Latin.

ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THIS FAMILY

A few scholars hold that the Dutch poem represents an earlier form of the legend than that preserved in the French Quatre Fils. Most however, consider it a late offshoot. Among the reasons for regarding te Dutch poem as late are: The Dutch poem is neater, and appears interested in tying up loose ends. It has been influenced by the Geste d’Orange, such as in Charles’ intention to abdicate and the appearance of William of Orange and Aymeri of Narbonne. Reinolt serves a Saracen king, an action wholly out of character for a future saint. Malegys is a mere slapstick wonder-worker, as is typical of later texts, instead of the chivalrous knight who happens to know magic of the Quatre Fils. The flight of Reinolt to “Arden” after the fall of Montauban is clearly an attempt to combine the sieges of Montessor and Tremoigne, and the poet later on (in the martyrdom section) introduces Tremoigne out of the blue as a city closely connected to Reinolt.

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban, 7: The Dutch Poem

The Quatre Fils Aymon gave rise to a Dutch poem, which begot a multitude of descendents of its own, as follows.

Renout van Montalbaen, in Dutch verse. 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 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 and German 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.

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.

 

THE GERMAN POEM

The German Reinolt von Montelban is a very close adaptation of the Dutch, as far as anyone can tell. Since it is complete, and the Dutch is fragmentary, we will give a summary of the German as our base.

Charlemagne holds court at Pentecost, to which come Heyme [Aymon], Eymerich von Narbonne [Aymeri], and their nephew Hugh of Dordonne. Hugh asks Karl to requite his uncles for their long service. Charles cuts his head off. This begins a war that lasts sixteen years, in which the rebels are aided by Maugis. At last Charles makes peace by giving his sister Aye to Aymon in marriage. Nonetheless, Aymon swears that he will kill any of Charles’ relatives he finds. This leads Aye to conceal her four pregnancies, which produce Ritzart, Fritzart, Adelhart, and Reinolt. Meanwhile, Charles has a son, Ludwig [Louis the Pious]. When these five lads are of age to bear arms, Charles holds court at Pentecost again, to which Aymon does not come. Charles sends Roland, William of Orange, Bertram, and Bernard to summon him. At his castle, the talk turns to heirs, and Aymon laments his childlessness after thirty years of marriage. Aye sounds his feelings, and reveals that he actually has four sons. Aymon dubs his sons knights and gives them horses. Reinolt tests his horses by punching them in the head and kills three, before his father says he will have to have Beyart, who has the strength of nine horses, and is the son of a “dromedarius”, born on St. John’s Day. Reinolt and Beyart have a brutal fight, but Reinolt masters him. He is white behind and before, but his head has spots like a leopard’s. After this, Charles announces that he is going to crown Ludwig his heir and co-emperor. At the feast, Ludwig, urged on by the traitors Gavelon, Hardrich, and Macharius, insults the Sons at every turn, but they best him at the games and sports. Finally, Ludwig and Adelhart wager their heads on a game of chess. Ludwig wins three games, but Reinolt draws Adelhart away. They confront Ludwig later on in the hall, before King Charles. They behead Ludwig, and the Four Sons flee on Beyart. Aymon at first fights for them against the pursuing knights, but he is reconciled with Charlemagne. The Sons briefly stop by their castle of Pierlepont before fleeing south, to take service with King Safforet of Spain. After three years, in all which time they are not paid, they quarrel with him, cut his head off, and present it to his foe, King Yves of Dardone. They conquer Safforet’s kingdom for Yves, and live in peace in Dardone for seven years. Charles hears news of them, and sends threats, but Yves scoffs and gives his daughter Claradys to Reinolt and helps him build the castle of Montelban on the Gironde.

Charles goes on pilgrimage with Roland to St. James, and sees Montelban on the way. He lays siege to it for a year, but is forced to retreat. Reinolt now wishes to go see his mother, whom he has not seen for seven years. The Four Sons trade clothes with pilgrims and go to Dordone in secret. Aye receives them gladly. Aymon, however, is not present. He returns with his army, and attacks his Sons. Reinolt cuts off his hand, nose, and mouth, trusses him up on a horse, and sends him to Charles, who lays siege. Starvation threatens, so Aye sends the three oldest barefoot to Charles to ask mercy. He siezes them and plans to hang them at Monfaucon. Reinolt hurries to Montelban and returns riding Beyart. He offers to give Charles a life-size gold statue of Ludwig and to spend seven years Crusading with his brothers, if Charles will make peace. Otherwise he will lay France waste and behead Charles just like Ludwig. Charles chooses war.

Reinolt, distressed and wondering how to rescue his brothers, falls asleep in the woods. Beyart wanders off looking for food, and is captured by some of Charles’ men. The king gives him to Roland, who promises a lady that he will not ride the steed until Sunday. The army returns to Paris.

Reinolt awakens and despairs. Malegys,  Reinolt’s “uncle” [perhaps just meaning “older relative”], arrives in disguise as an ancient pilgrim, and teases Reinolt before revealing himself. Four passing monks tell Malegys about Roland then murders four passing monks and steals their clothes. The two, disguised as monks, ride to Paris, where the abbot of “their” abbey tells them of Charles’ plans for a feast and the execution of Reinolt’s brethren. Malegys disguises Reinolt as a blind man, and the two of them wait for Charles to pass by, with Roland and Beyart. Malegys tells Charles that a wise woman told him that if a blind man sits on Beyart, he will recover his sight. Charles obligingly lets Reinolt sit on the horse, and Reinolt gallops off. Malegys reveals himself and escapes. Charles wishes to hang Reinolt’s brothers immediately, before anything else goes wrong, but the Peers oppose him, and they compromise on hanging the brothers at dawn. At midnight, however, Malegys by magic opens the prison and rescues them, stopping to taunt Charles (who thinks he’s dreaming), tell him they’ll be waiting for him at Montelban, and steal his crown and sword.

Word comes that King Assys’ Saracens are besieging Cologne, so Roland and the peers go and kill them. Charles decides Roland needs a horse worthy of him, and holds a horse race, offering his crown to the winner. Malegys and Reinolt go in disguise, win, reveal themselves, and leave with the crown, scorning Charles’ attempts to ransom it for a hundred-day truce.

When Easter comes around again, Charles sends four mules laden with gold to Yves, ordering him to betray the brothers or else. Yves succombs at once, without even consulting his barons, and agrees to send the brothers to Falcolon [Vaucoleurs], without armor and without Beyart. He goes to Montelban and arranges the treason, claiming that he can’t embrace Reinolt or eat his food because of his headache. Claradys is suspicious, but Reinolt slaps her for believing in dreams and insulting her own father. The brothers go to Falcolon, where they are ambushed by Fauke von Morlyon and Ogier. Reinolt splits Fauke’s head open with Florsberg, Rizhart is sorely wounded, Reinolt duels Ogier on foot, and their horses fight each other, and finally the brothers take refuge on a tall, defendable, rock. Malegys comes to the rescue, and the cousins return to Montelban, whence Yves flees to the cloister of Beaurepar. Rizhart reconciles Reinolt and Claradys.

Ogier, meanwhile, returns to camp, and thinks Yves must have sent Malegys. The Twelve Peers attack Beaurepar, intending to hang the king for his alleged double-treason. Reinolt comes and rescues him. Charles lays siege to Montelban. Rizhart is captured by Roland and taken with the army all the way back to Paris. but none of the Peers are willing to hang him except Rippe. Rizhart is led out to Montefaucon to be hanged, but Malegys has been spying in Paris disguised as a pilgrim, and returns with the brothers, who hang Rippe instead, kill his men, and dress Rizhard in his armor. Charles and Ogier, meanwhile, are at the palace, when “Rippe” returns. Charles comes out to meet him, Rizhard reveals himself, and his brothers leap out of ambush. A melee ensues. As the two sides are withdrawing, Olivier spots an old pilgrim hobbling away, realizes it must be Malegys, and captures him. The Peers are inclined to treat him well at dinner, but Charles chains him in the dungeon and sets the Peers to guard him. At midnight, he puts them to sleep, steals their swords, and escapes. Reinolt, meanwhile, has had a dream of Malegys being hanged, and rides to his castle to check on him. He is not there, so Reinolt goes to Paris, where he meets Malegys, who has handily escaped and is now carrying twelve swords. They return to Montelban.

Charles pursues with his army, and the siege resumes. Peace negotiations break down, and Charles captures Malegys again. At midnight, Malegys escapes, carries Charles off to Montelban, and departs. Charles will not make peace unless Malegys is executed, and Reinolt cannot hand over his cousin and will not execute his sovereign, so he sets him free, and the siege resumes. Everyone starves except the brothers and Claradys [Yves has vanished from the scene, and Reinolt’s children are not mentioned but are presumably here]. They eat all the horses save Beyart, but they bleed him and survive on his blood for forty days. At last, they are forced to flee. Beyart carries the Four Sons (they leave Claradys [and the unmentioned children] behind) to their castle in Arden, whither Charles pursues them. Duchess Aye persuades the emperor to make peace, but he insists on executing Beyart. Charles ties a millstone around the horse’s neck and throws him in the river, but he sees Reinolt, bursts the stone, and rushes to his side. Charles throws him back in with a millstone on each leg, and he escapes again. Charles forbids Reinolt to watch the execution, and this time Beyart escapes to the wood, never to be seen again. Reinolt returns home to Montelban, dubs his eldest son Emmerich a knight, and gives him the castle as his fief. He then departs on pilgrimage.

He spends three years in a hermitage, until a heavenly voice tells him to go to the Holy Land. He meets some knights sent by Pope Calixtus, and travels with them from Tripoli to Acre. There he finds Malegys, who has been living as a hermit in Galilee. The two of them slay a Sultan, but two more Sultans comewith nine champions. They conquer Nazareth and Jerusalem, slaying many Christians. Malegys is slain fighting them, but Reinolt single-handedly saves the day, and turns the whole land back to Christianity. The Patriarch wishes to crown him king, but Reinolt refuses and sails home to Marseilles. When he arrives, he learns that his son Emmerich is to fight a duel with Count Willam of Romelion in Paris. He goes to Paris, in disguise, and informs the king of the wars in the Holy Land and of Malegys’ death. Gavelon and Pynapel arrange for Pynapel’s eldest son Galleran to fight on William’s behalf, but Emmerich still wins. Reinolt now wanders to Cologne, where he joins the laborers on St. Peter’s Church. He works harder than anyone, but only takes a penny a day for wages. The others, jealous, kill him with their hammers and throw his body in the Rhine, tied up in a sack. Although it is the middle of the night when they do this, they hear a sweet sound and see as clearly as if it were day. An old widow who has been fourteen years lame, blind, and deaf has a dream telling her to go down to the river and to draw out the man’s body in a sack which she will find there. She has herself taken to the river bank, is cured upon seeing the sack, and drags it to land. On the body is a costly girdle, which reads “I am Reinolt von Montelban”. The people of Dorpmund hear tell of this, and wish to have the body, which the bishop of Cologne refuses to grant. But when it is laid in a cart, the cart moves of itself and travels all the way to Dorpmund, obliging the bishop to give in. Charles hears tell of his nephew’s death and threatens to raze Cologne. He settles for hanging the murderers. He then goes to Dorpmund and weeps over his nephew’s body. Saint Reinolt, pray for us, and all say Amen.

The Legend of Vivian of Aigremont

The legend of Vivien of Monbranc, brother of Malagise, is found in the following versions:

The chanson de geste in rhymed Alexandrines, in the manuscript Montpellier H. 247, from between 1350 and 1400. The poem is from around 1225-1275, but the only surviving copy is very obviously abridged.

The prose rendering in BNf. Fr. 19.173, rather expanded, and interlaced with the history of Maugis.

No English translations.

VIVIEN L’AMACHOUR DE MONBRANC

MANUSCRIPT M: MONTPELLIER

Containing Doon de Mayence, Gaufrey, Ogier le Danois, Gui de Nanteuil, Maugis D’Aigremont (abridged) Vivien l’Amachour (probably abridged, but no earlier copies are known), and Renaud de Montauban (abridged, ending lost, stops as Renaud is on pilgrimage).

Vivien and his wife Esclarmonde convert to Christianity, to the anger of Sodant of Babylon, who lays siege to Vivien’s castle of Monbranc. They send for help to Bueves of Aigremont, Aymon of Dordonne, Girart of Roussillon, Doon of Nanteuil, and Maugis. Bueves and Maugis call on Charlemagne for aid, threatening to renounce their vassalship if he refuses. He refuses, and they do so, with insults. Lohier, Charles’ son, is infuriated, and strikes Maugis with the flat of his sword, but Maugis makes an illusionary river flow between them, and escapes with his father. They join their kinsmen, including Renaut, Aalart, and their horse Bayart. Maugis sends his squire Fousifie ahead, who makes himself and his dromedary invisible to pass the Pagan lines and reach Monbranc. Vivien, encouraged by his arrival, makes a sally, but is captured. The Pagans send him to Babylon, but Maugis, Renaud and Aalart rescue him. A long and bloody battle follows, wherein King Othon, King Brandoine, and Brandoine’s uncle Hernaut de Moncler are slain on the Christian side, and everyone on the heathens’. Maugis returns to Rocheflour with Oriande. Vivien and Esclarmonde remain in Monbranc. Bueves lives peacefully until the day Lohier is sent to him.

ORIGINS OF THE LEGEND

Pure fiction. Written c. 1240-1260. After Renaud de Montauban and Maugis d’Aigremont, but before Gaufrey, Doon de Mayence, and Gaydon. An Amachour is allegedly a Saracen title, probably in reality a corruption of “Emir”.

Book I, Canto VIII, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VIII, Stanzas 41-64

41
“Then secretly their flesh with me I took
Into the kitchen, and I made a fire.
I’d been their butcher; now was I their cook.
Ah! What cannot be done by woman’s ire?
I served them to their father, who partook
Of my meat pie with relish and desire.
Ah, cruel sun, how could you bear to shine
And gaze on such a horrid deed as mine?

42
“I left the banquet, no one was aware;
My bloody hands and garments none did see.
Towards Orgagna’s king with haste I fared,
Who for long years had burned with love for me,
And was a kinsman unto Stella fair.
I told him all my woeful history.
I led him and his men in army bright
The death of poor Grifone to requite.

43
“We came too late, though eagerly we sped.
For I no sooner did the castle fly
Than cruel Stella, once the guests were fed,
Came to Marchino, her face lit with joy,
And served him one, and then the other head
Of his two sons, whom I’d baked in a pie.
Grief and horror overwhelm each knight;
Their father most, who knew them at first sight.

44
“Stella stood there with disheveled hair.
Her face distorted, she began to rave,
And cried aloud, ‘Those are thy children there,
Those are their heads, and if thy soul doth crave
To see their tomb, look in thy belly, where
Thou buriedst them. Thou art thy children’s grave.’
Now the false traitor knight is racked with pain.
Love and cruelty fight in his brain.

45
“This outrage fearful and unparalleled
Invites a vengeance cruel beyond all other.
On th’other hand, her flow’ry face impelled
Him to have mercy, for he fiercely loved her.
At last, he plumps for vengeance, but he’s held
Bu one thing: How to best be vengèd of her?
When he thinks of the outrage she’s committed,
It seems no punishment on earth is fitted.

46
“To fetch Grifone’s corpse he sends his men,
Which lies unburied in his dying-place.
He binds that body to the lady then,
Hands against hands, his face against her face.
To such a pleasure doth he her condemn.
Now has there ever been a man so base?
The stench was foul of Grifon’s remains,
To which the lovely lady’s bound with chains.

47
“Orgagna’s king now to the castle came,
And with him I and all his meinie rude.
But when he saw us coming o’er theplain
Marchino slit the lovely Stella’s throat.
The lady, not his lust, was thereby slain.
For dead as living with her he abode.
I think he did it only for to boast
Of all men living he had sinned the most.

48
“We then arrived, and after battle hard
Entered the castle and the keep secured
And took Marchin, whose body was all scarred
From many wounds and battles he’d endured.
We hacked him into pieces in the yard,
And then the luckless Stella we interred
Within an ornamented sepulchre,
And laid her dear Grifone next to her.

49
“Orgagna’s king, his vengeance wrought, went home.
Within this dismal castle rested I,
But when eight months and one away had flown
We heard a horrible, bloodthirsty cry
Out of the tomb. What made it was unknown.
To tell our terror, I can’t even try.
Except three giants bold who knew no fear..
The King had ordered them to guard me here.

50
“One of them, great of heart and stout of limb,
Opened the sepulchre lid just a slit.
Regret immediately conquered him.
Because a monster, though it couldn’t fit
Its body through, thrust out a talon grim
And raked and clawed him so, he died of it
Almost at once. It tore of hunks of meat
And bones alike, and pulled them in to eat.

51
“Another man so bold could not be found
As to go near that house of woe and gloom.
We built a thick and lofty wall around
The church. With powder we destroyed the tomb.
A dark misshapen beast crawled on the ground.
We took one glance and fled for fear of doom.
Its awful shape I won’t describe to thee,
For it will be the last thing thou dost see.

52
“This custom all of us thereat decreed
Each day to slay a man and o’er the wall
To throw his body, for the beast to feed
Upon, lest it should seek to eat us all.
Bu when we catch more travelers than we need,
We cut some’s throats, stick some on gibbets tall,
And some alive we cut in pieces four.
Didst see them hanging over our front door?”

53
After the custom in its full enormity
And the detestable and unmatched crimes
By which begotten was the foul deformity
Are all explained, Rinaldo’s horror climbs.
And turning to the old hag who helped form it, he
Exclaims, “Ah, mother! Throw me in, that’s fine.
I only ask, as thou dost love Our Lord,
To let me have my armor and my sword.

54
The hag guffaws and says “It won’t help much!
But take whatever weapons that thou wilt.
No shield can save thee from its talons clutch.
By sword or mace its blood’s been never spilt.
Its teeth can slice through iron with a touch.
‘Twill gnaw thy broadsword up, both blade and hilt.
But take whatso thou wilt. Thy life is done
Regardless, but the beast will have some fun.”

55
The morning sun was raising up his head,
As Don Rinald was lowered over the wall.
The church door opened, and at once out sped
A beast misshapen and grotesquical.
It gnashed its teeth together. Filled with dread,
The lookers-on went running, one and all.
The wall is high and thick, but nonetheless,
In fear and terror, down the stairs they press.

56
Nobody stays to watch Rinald’s defense.
His shining armor and Fusbert he took.
But I believe you all are in suspense
To know just how the monster fearsome looked.
The loathsome beast’s existence fell commenced
When some ill demon from Hell’s darkest nook
Transformed Marchino’s seed inside the flesh
Of her whom he had lately put to death.

57
It’s larger than a bull, and far more strong.
Its massive head is rather like a snake’s.
Its mouth in measurement is six palms long.
Each of its teeth a palm and half length’s takes.
It has two tusks like boars’. Against these prongs
No shield nor armor can resistance make.
Upon each of its temples grew a horn
Which any way it wished the beast could turn.

58
Each of the horns like swords is sharp and keen;
Its bellowing could fill the deaf with fright.
Its skin was particolored gold and green,
And scarlet, sooty black, and snowy white.
Bloodstains amidst its tangled beard were seen.
Its eyes were blazing with hellfire’s light.
Its hands looked human, but they had such claws
As ne’er were seen on bears’ or lions’ claws.

59
Its teeth and talons were so sharp and hard
That they could pierce through any plate or mail.
Its pelt was thick. It never had been scarred,
Because no blade against it could prevail.
Now this abomination’s eyes regard
Rinaldo, and it rushes like a gale.
Upon two feet it turns, its mouth agape.
Rinaldo swings Fusberta at the shape.

60
And smacks it in the middle of its maw.
The wrathful monster moves as swift as fire,
Faces the knight, lifts up a massive paw,
And brings it down, and lands a blow so dire
It sheers right through his mail. So much it claws,
It tears to ribbons all his steel attire.
So strong its claws, so deftly does it work,
The worthy knight’s left standing in his shirt.

61
Rinaldo’s far from paralyzed by fear:
He sees death imminent and doesn’t blench.
He strikes a two-hand blow behind its ear.
Alas! The monster doesn’t even flinch.
But with each blow he lands, it grows more fierce.
Enraged, it leaps aback, then forward sprints,
And now with one paw, now the other slashes,
And on Rinaldo’s skin makes ugly gashes.

62
He bears four grievous wounds, but nonetheless
The world holds not a baron stouter-hearted.
He looks death in the face without distress.
His wrath burned fiercer as his strength departed.
What would in any other fight be best
In this one only gets his troubles started.
For even if the monster’s flesh he carves,
The castle folk may leave him here to starve.

63
The day’s beginning to give way to dusk,
And all this time the battle fierce has raged.
Rinaldo’s back against the wall is thrust.
He’s lost much blood and he is growing faint.
His death is pressing close at hand, he trusts.
But still he strikes great blows with his good blade.
It’s true, the monster’s blood may not be spilt,
But still he gives it many ugly welts.

64
His life he shall sell dearly, come what may.
He swings a mighty stroke, that baron true.
The wicked monster knocks his sword away.
Now what can Montalbano’s baron do?
He cannot flee. He’s doomed if he should stay
Because Fusberta from his grasp out flew.
But you must wait to hear about their war.
For in this canto I shall tell no more.

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Notes

Notes to the Eighth Canto, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VIII, Stanzas 41-64 Notes.

46. Boiardo is airing his classical learning here. (He translated several Greek and Latin classics into Italian) Just as the vengeance of Marchino’s wife is based on the Greek myth of Procne and Philomela (which Boiardo would have read in Ovid), so Marchino’s vengeance was the favorite punishment of King Mezentius in the Aeneid.
50. Boiardo now moves from classical lore to medieval, as is typical of him. A similar story to this one was brought back by the Crusaders from the Byzantine Empire. It was a development of the Gorgon legend, and told how a young man who lived near the Gulf of Satalia [now called Antalya], consumed with lust for his deceased lady-love, begot a terrible head that, every seven years, rose out of the Gulf and brought misfortune or storms. Various versions can be found in Walter Map’s Courtiers’ Trifles, Book 4; Gervase of Tilbury’s Otia Imperialia 2.12; Mandeville’s Travels, usually near the section on Constantinople; and other places.
52. The cruelty is partly gratuitous, but partly prudent: it keeps prisoners from escaping and from needing to be fed.
57. Turning horns are generally attributed to the eale or yale, a creature found in Pliny (VIII.30) and sometimes in heraldry, but not, as far as I have ever seen, appearing in fiction or folklore.

Back to Part 3

On to Canto IX