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 partok
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.

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.

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.