The following is a composite family tree of the Merovingians, according to the legendary chansons de geste known as the Dagobert Cycle. Specifically, it is based on Dieudonné of Hungary (Charles le Chauve), Octavian, Florence of Rome, Ciperis of Vignevaux, and Theseus of Cologne, and centered on Dagobert I, known as Le Bon Roi Dagobert, “Good King Dagobert.”
Below are two family trees for the Lorraine Cycle, or Cycle des Lorraines. The top family tree is for the French Cycle, Hervis de Metz, Garin le Loherain, Gerbert de Metz, Yon, ou le Vengeance Fromondin, and Anseis de Cologne. The bottom family tree is for the Dutch Roman der Lorreinen. Please note that in Garin le Loherain, Hervis’ wife is named Alice, not Beatrice.
PROSE GARIN – ARSENAL
This version is closest to S, featuring S’s abridged opening. The two are not quite identical, but few of the details in which they differ need concern us here. The author trims much of the detail of fighting and shortens the speeches, but changes no incidents.
Fromont has thirty sons, mostly bastards. [This same trait is attributed to various Maganzans in some later Italian works].
PROSE GARIN – PHILIPPE DE VIGNEULLES
Like all medievals, Philippe considers Garin and Gerbert to be a single work, which he divides into three books. Book I includes Paris’ Parts I and II. Book II covers the death of Begon and the ensuing war. Book III begins with the death of Garin and includes all of Gerbert de Metz. He follows the first redaction.
Philippe turns dialogue into indirect summaries, shortens the poem throughout, and adds a few details of his own. Whenever action takes place in Metz, he identifies the locations in the contemporary city.
Garin is buried in the Abbey of Saint Arnoul outside Metz.
PROSE GARIN – DAVID AUBERT
David Aubert’s History of Charles Martel includes, among other stories, that of the Lorrainers, following that of Girart of Roussillon. The compilation was finished in 1463. He follows the chanson closely in incident, but abridges the fight scenes and other descriptions, and recasts dialogue. Nonetheless, the fight scenes are not updated, and faithfully reflect the customs of the 1100’s. Manuel Galopin retains his joie de vivre in the taverns, but is quietly stripped of his magical abilities.
Volume 2 of Aubert’s history opens with an account of how Charles Martel gave a feast at St. John’s Day, with his Queen Alexandrine (sister of Girart of Roussillon’s wife Bertha) and their son Pepin, who was handsome, gracious, pleasant and noble, well taught and having all virtues, notwithstanding his short stature. At the feast, a horrible lion escaped from the royal menagerie, terrifying the guests, who all fled, save for Pepin, who confronted the beast and slew it.
Sometime after this, Girart of Roussillon died, at which the heathen Saxons thought it safe to attack France again. The Holy Father came from Rome to speak with King Charles, and granted him permission to tax the clergy. The book thus transitions into the story of Garin le Loherain, as given in the First Redaction. Volume 2 ends with Guerin, as he spells it, making peace with King Pepin and the Bordelais for the last time before his death.
The Roman der Lorreinen is a Middle Dutch poem, c. 1275, surviving only in fragments. At one time, it likely ran to over 150,000 octosyllables, of which only 10,000 survive.
There are three books of this romance. The first is a close translation of Garin and Gerbert. In the second and third, the author gives his fancy free rein, weaving a tale across three continents that brings Ganelon, Marsilius, Baligant, Yon of Gascony, Agolant, and more into the feud between the Lorrainers and the Bordelais, culminating in the battle of Roncesvalles (sadly lost).
A: Five fragments, printed by Jonckbloet, titled Roman van Karel den Groote en zijn twaalf Pairs.
B: Five fragments, printed by Matthes, under the title Roman der Lorreine, nieuw ontdekte gedeelten, book 17 of Bibliotheek van Middelnederlansche Letterkunde.
C: Four fragments, printed by De Vries, under the title Nieuwe fragmenten van den Roman der Lorreinen, in Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsche Taal- en Letterkunde III.
D: One fragment, often printed under the name of Laidoen, for example by Kalff in Middelnederlansche epische fragmenten, part of Bibliotheek van middeln. letterk.
Fragments B I-III and C I are from a translation of Garin. Gerbert is utterly lost. The other surviving fragments are from Books II and III.
As the surviving fragments open, Gerbert, having died, left behind two sons: Yon and Garin. Yon has married the daughter of Aspraien, a pagan king [perhaps of Scythia] who invaded France. Hernault le Poitevin and Ludie have a son: Ganelon [here called Gelloen]. Pepin is dead, and Charlemagne sits on the throne of France, and his son Louis the Pious is of nubile age. Ganelon has slain Gerbert, to avenge his uncle Fromondin.
A I: Ganelon takes refuge in Cologne, now ruled by Gerin’s son Otto and his wife Helen. Ganelon tells him, falsely, that the Lorrainers have been defeated in war, and, truly, that Helen and Yon are paramours. Otto, enraged, commits Yon’s daughter Judith, who is staying at his court, to a brothel, in order to break off her intended marriage with Prince Louis. Fortunately, the brave knight Jean de Metz rescues her and takes her to Aix-le-Chapelle. Otto and Ganelon lay siege to Aix, but news comes that the Lorrainers have in fact won the war. Otto raises the siege, and Ganelon flees to his fief in Sweden [!], whence he marries off his daughter Irene to Emperor Leo of Constantinople.
Otto, meanwhile, still thinks his wife unfaithful, and at the advice of the traitor Conrad, sends her into exile in Norway. Garin comes up from the Midi to escort his niece Judith to Paris, where she weds Prince Louis. Yon and Otto are still angry at each other, so the Emperor summons them to his court at Aix. They finally agree that Conrad will gve Metz to Judith in compensation, if Yon will promise to never see Helen again. Yon reluctantly agrees, urged by Ogier the Dane and his other kinsmen. Yon and his son Richard leave France for their fief of Scythia. Learning that Ganelon’s daughter Irene is now Empress of Constantinople, they build the castle of Gardeterre on their border with the Empire, expecting war…
A II: Ganelon, while in exile in Heathenesse [Spain] had taken service with Desramés, and married his daughter, by whom he had two sons: Baligant and Marsilius. Ganelon, in the course of his adventures, has betrayed Agolant, who now invades Spain with his son Almont. The Spaniards ask for Charlemagne’s assistance, who arrives with the Peers. Single combats follow, then the miracle of the flowering spears. In battle the day after this miracle, Milon, Roland’s father, is slain. Charlemagne is on the brink of death, when Gerbert II, son of Garin II, saves him. The battle is inconclusive. The following day, Ganelon, currently home in Norway, offers his aid to Charlemagne, if Charles will forgive him his crimes. He also offers his help to Agolant, who indignantly refuses it, but retreats. Ganelon presents himself before Charlemagne and offers to be reconciled with the Lorrainers. Garin and Gerbert take council with Yon, and refuse Ganelon’s offer. Garin and Gerbert return to Gironville. Charles returns to France and gives his sister, Milon’s widow and Roland’s mother, to Ganelon in marriage.
Helen sends word to Yon, begging him to come to Norway and rescue her. He does so, but they get lost sailing back to Scythia, and land in the country of the Goths, which is near the Caucasus. There they found the village of Ays, and life in amorous bliss, having a son, Haestinc, and a daughter, Isolde.
Richard, Yon’s son, having been sent by his father to France, visits Garin at his castle of Medeborch. Garin informs him of Ganelon’s preferment, and sends him home to warn his father. Otto, having learned of his wife’s escape, sends his knight Paridaen to Scythia to find her. Richard returns home to find his father missing and unaccounted for. He assumes control, fortifies the country round about, and installs one Hugelin as his lieutenant. He then returns to France to inform Garin of what has occurred, and sets out to seek his father. Paridaen, having sought in vain for Helen, returns to Cologne, where Conrad advises Otto to avenge himself by making war on Garin and on Ogier the Dane. Otto sends Paridaen to tell Garin that he must hand Metz over to Otto or prepare for war. Garin refuses, and appeals to Charlemagne. Ogier, Garin, and Otto meet at court, and it is decided that there will be a trial by combat. Gerbert fights against Ganelon’s champion Gyoet of Cremona. Richard, having again returned to France, fights both Berengier and Pyroet, and kills the latter, after Charles has called a halt to the fight. When Charles tries to arrest him, Richard kills Ganelon’s kinsman Lancelin of Clermont, and flees to Bordeaux. The Lorrainers refuse to make peace unless Richard is fully pardoned…
Peace is nonetheless made, and Ganelon travels to the East, where he finds Helen and Yon. He deviously brings about a quarrel between them, causing Helen to secretly leave Ays and wander the world. Meanwhile, in France, Ganelon’s nephew Robert of Milan is at war with the Lorrainers again.
A III: Charlemagne sends Wernier van Graven and Reinout van den dorne wit [= Of the White Thorn = Reynard of Mountauban] with Roland to Robert’s camp, to verify a claim by one Rigaut…
A IV: The envoys find Richard, then go to Belves, where they find Robert’s envoy Gubelin, who takes them to Robert himself…
A V: Ganelon is back in France, and confers with Robert. He advises his nephew to make peace now and betray the Lorrainers when they aren’t expecting anything. They go to Paris, Ganelon leading a hundred Arabian destriers, which he offers to Charlemagne, who promptly forgives him and Robert everything. Ganelon tells him that Yon and Helen are in Gothland…
C II: The Lorrainers and Bordelais make peace. Robert will give his daughter Ogieve and his fief of Montferrat to Rigaud. Richard will wed the Damsel of the [Spanish] March…
C III: Queen Helen, in her wanderings, comes to Jerusalem where she is shriven of her adultery by the Patriarch. Besides Otto and Yon, she has slept with two other kings, by whom she has two sons: Sigfried [Segenfrijt] and Rollo. She enters a nunnery. Yon, distraught at her absence, departs Gothland, leaving his son Haestinc behind. He comes to Gardeterre, which is under attack by Empress Irene. Hugelin recognizes his king with joy, and the two send word to France for Richard to come help them, with as many allies as he can…
A battle is fought between the Greeks and the Scythians…
C IV: Yon is victorious, puts Irene’s brother Hardré to flight, and kills Emperor Leo. Irene becomes the regent for her young son Constantine. Needing an ally, she becomes the mistress of the King of Bulgaria, and bears him a son, Michael. Shortly afterwards, however, they quarrel and go to war, totally distracting Irene from her conflict with the Scythians.
Meanwhile, the Scythians’ messenger arrives in France, finds Richard at court, and tells all his news. Ganelon promises to make Irene see reason, but privately encourages her to continue the war against Scythia. Richard suspects as much, but takes no action – yet. Meanwhile, Agolant still seeks vengeance against Ganelon…
Yon for some reason returns to France, possibly. Other scholars place Fragment B IV immediately after C II…
B IV: Rigaud and Ogieve receive the land of Bayonne in fief from Yon and Garin. The latter two travel to Gascony, where Yon stays while Garin vists his daughter Erminjard in Narbonne, with her husband Aymeri and their seven sons, including William. He next goes to Medeborch, where he meets Alice [The Damsel of the March?] and her son Wanfreid.
Ganelon orders his sons Baligant and Marsilius to invade Spain, and Irene to invade Scythia, while Yon is in France. Yon, Garin, and Rigaud travel through France, meeting the elderly Bancelin in Belin. Bancelin, apparently none other than the uncle of Raoul of Cambrai, intends to become a monk at Saint Berin, but the poet foretells a tragic death for him. Yon and Richard entrust Belin, Gironville, and Monstesclavorijn to Pyroen, who, though a son of Ganelon, is faithful to the Lorrainers…
Richard, son of Yon, is slain in the war, thus ending Book Two.
B V: Duke Frederick of Denmark comes to Yon’s aid and routs the Greeks outside Gardeterre. Irene and her son Fromondin are in the city of Pharat. As the Greek, Scythian, and Danish armies manouver and countermanouver, Fromondin kills Frederick. Yon recovers his corpse and praises him for his attempt to avenge the death of Richard…
D: Two Bordelais counts, Pinabel and Laidoen, are leading a mule-train laden with gold when they are surprised and robbed by the Scythians. The two counts are left alone in the forest, and are separated. Pinabel finds his way back to camp, but Laidoen finds a nest of gryphons. An old gryphon bites his arm off and feeds it to its young. Laidoen binds up his wound as best he can and repents his wicked plots against Charlemagne and Yon as he wanders through the night. At sunrise, he meets an old hermit, named Serpio…
The third book was meant to carry the history down to the days of Emperor Frederick. Roland and Aude’s son, Ryoen, known only in this poem, likely played a large role.
Marsilius and Baligant, living in Africa, invade Spain with their uncle Synagon, Sultan of Arabia, at their father’s suggestion. Charles takes his army into Spain to repel them, leading to the Battle of Roncesvalles. Ganelon orchestrates this battle, hoping it will kill off the flower of the world’s chivalry and leave the way clear for him to become master of all. Empress Irene leads her Greek army to fight the Christians at Roncesvalles. When Charlemagne hears Roland’s horn, he is suspicious of Ganelon, but Ganelon points out that his (Ganelon’s) sons Hugo and Hendrick are with Roland, and his daughter Irene is coming with an army to help Charles. Turpin is with Charlemagne, not at the battle. Charlemagne is not convinced, and orders the army to return to Roncesvalles. Ganelon goes to Irene, and they plot how best to betray Charles. They decide that the Greeks will fall on Charlemagne from the rear, and after he is dead Irene will wed Baligant [!]. Irene’s captains prepare the banners of Africa, but the common Greek soldiers, seeing this and realizing what is about to happen, abandon her en masse and go over to Charlemagne, who thereby learns of the treason, foils it, and arrests Ganelon and Irene. Ganelon is hanged with fourteen of his companions. Irene pleads her innocence, but the Duke of Monbaes shows the court her to sons, whom she blinded to maintain her power, and tells how she killed her own husband. Irene is quartered and her accomplices hanged. [This paragraph is from the Dutch chapbook of Roncesvalles, which seems to have been based partially on Der Lorreinen.]
At least one scholar thinks that Frederick was an error for Ludovic [Louis] and that the story would actually have ended with Louis the Pious and William of Orange. At any rate, if the story was ever finished, the end is lost.
Origins and Influence
A pun on the name of Haestinc and the Old French hanste, ‘lance’ suggests a French source, though how much it was altered by the Dutchman will never be known.
French or Dutch, our author knew the Pseudo-Turpin, some version of the Song of Roland, Aspremont (the gryphons’ nest, and Girbert’s rescue of Charlemagne during the war against Agolant, are clearly inspired by this poem), and Aymeri of Narbonne. The throwing of Judith into a brothel is derived either from saints’ lives (Saint Agnes, most famously) or from Apollonius of Tyre.
Empress Judith appears in this poem as a paragon of chastity. In real life, she had a rather different reputation.
Queen Helen’s sons, Haestinc, Rollo, and Segenfrijt, seem to take their names from the Viking chiefs Hasting and Rollo, and the Danish Sigifrid.
Empress Irene is very loosly based on the historical Irene, who was wife of Emperor Leo IV (775-780) regent for their son Constantine VI (780-790), and finally Empress in her own right (797-802). The historical Irene was an ally of Charlemagne’s, and even considered marrying him. All these historical characters, our author likely found in the chroncicle of Sigebert of Gembloux.
The Dutch chapbooks of Roncesvalles claim that Marsilius and Baligant were bastard sons of Ganelon, a conception found nowhere else outside Der Lorreinen. They also feature Ganelon’s daughter Irene as Empress of Greece. The reconstruction of Book III above is based on them. Of necessity it is rather speculative, as one never knows quite how much of a chapbook is due to the imagination, or the idiocy, of its publisher.
The legend of Anseis of Metz, also called Anseis of Cologne, (but not to be confused with Anseis of Carthage) is to be found in the following versions:
A chanson de geste in alliterative decasyllables. Found in two redactions in four MSS.
The prose of Philippe de Vigneulles, who renames the hero “Yon” but follows the story of Anseis.
David Aubert’s History of Charles Martel, volume 4.
Another prose rendering, Arsenal 3346.
LA CHANSON D’ANSEIS DE METZ
Anseis de Metz, a chanson in alliterative decasyllables, can be divided into three parts (by editors and by internal coherence. They are not thus marked in any MS). Parts Two and Three are essentially the same in all MSS. The first part is very different in N than in LSU. Also, N is only 15,000 lines, whereas LSU reaches 25,000, owing to interpolations.
PART ONE – FIRST REDACTION – N
Gerbert, Gerin, and Mauvoisin, having seen to Fromondin’s burial, return to Bordeaux, where they find Hernaut le Poitevin and his wife Ludie. They tell them the whole story, and the Lorrainers rejoice. Ludie, meanwhile, urges her son Louis to avenge his slaughtered uncle Fromondin and grandfather Fromont by killing Gerbert. Louis, however, is inclined to side with the Lorrainers, and leaves his mother alone in her despair. All go to their homes peacefully.
Hernault takes his son Louis to Lens in Artois to be dubbed and to receive that city in fief. (He has inherited it through Ludie from Fromont). Gerbert and his twelve-year-old son Anseis are invited to the ceremony. Anseis and Louis go hunting together, quarrel, and fight. Louis returns to Lens, bleeding and angry. He finds Gerbert playing chess, siezes a chessboard, and smashes Gerbert over the head, killing him.
Hernault is perfectly willing to hand Louis and Ludie over to Anseis to be executed, but his barons insist that this cannot be done without their consent. Knowing they will never consent, Hernault tries to appease Anseis with money and fiefs. Anseis proudly rejects the offer, and declares war on his uncle. To his aid come his godfather King Anseis of Cologne (Gerin’s son) and his cousin Amauri of Dijon. On Hernault’s side are the rest of the Lorrainers and all the Bordelais, unwilling allies united by their common kinship to Louis. In the ensuing siege of Lens, Gerin frequently threatens to kill Ludie, despite being technically on her side. Anseis of Cologne and Amauri of Dijon are slain, Hernault and Mauvoisin are severely wounded, and Anseis of Metz survives only because of his magic helmet. Finally, Gerin persuades Louis to humble himself before Anseis, and peace is made. All the heroes escort King Anseis’ corpse back to Cologne, where his grieving widow becomes a nun and leaves her lands to the young Anseis.
Hernault and Louis return from Lens to Gironville, and Hernault asks Louis if he has repented his crimes. Louis answers that he’s only sorry that he couldn’t kill Anseis. Hernault and Louis quarrel, then fight, and Hernault has his son hanged and orders Ludie burnt.
PART ONE – SECOND REDACTION – LSU
Gerbert, Gerin, and Mauvoisin, having seen to Fromondin’s burial, return to Bordeaux, where they find Hernaut le Poitevin and his wife Ludie. They tell them the whole story, offering any compensation the Bordelais may desire. Ludie will not be appeased, and declares she is no more Hernault’s wife. She moves to her own bedroom. Gerbert has a nightmare, where he is confronted by the ghosts of Fromont, Fromondin, Aimon of Bordeaux, Bernard de Naisil, Guillaume de Blancafort, and Guillaume de Monclin. He cries for aid, but no one comes. Upon awakening, he tells his dream to Hernault, who tries vainly to comfort him. Hernault rides out hunting, but Gerbert stays home. Ludie, meanwhile, tells her two sons, Louis and Manessier, the whole story of the feud, and tells them it is their duty to avenge their slaughtered uncle Fromondin and grandfather Fromont. Louis and Manessier, however, are inclined to side with the Lorrainers, and leave Ludie alone in her despair. Gerbert comes to see her and try again to make amends. She refuses, they quarrel, and he strikes her. Now her sons are ready to take vengeance. As Gerbert plays chess in the hall, Manessier smashes him over the head with the chessboard and Louis plunges his dagger into his heart. The brothers flee Bordeaux with their mother, and take refuge in Gironville. Hernaut returns from hunting to find his cousin dead. He summons the Lorrainers, and the war resumes.
Gerbert is buried at Saint-Seurin in Bordeaux, alongside Begon. Gerin comes to Bordeaux, and visits the great church where the Lorrainers are all buried: his own father Begon; Thierri of Alsace; Mauvoisin’s father Doon the Hunter; Auberi le Bourguignon; Rigaut de Plessis; and now, Gerbert. He weeps in front of Gerbert’s tomb and swears vengeance. After a long siege of Gironville, Hernaut captures his son Louis, and Manessier is captured a few days later. Mauvoisin is captured by the Bordelais. Hernault and Ludie discuss the exchange of prisoners, but neither will abandon their family’s honor, and their sons are sentenced to die. Hernault orders the Mayor of Bordeaux to hang his sons, but he refuses, saying he is the King’s man, not Hernault’s. Hernault is obliged to hang them himself.
Now comes a clearly interpolated episode of 3,500 lines, in which Anseis’ kinsman King Tuille of Arles, a nigromancer, comes to the aid of the Lorrainers. Unfortunately, his apprentice Jorin is a Bordelais, and the two wizards’ skills are nearly equal, resulting in a stalemate. Finally, the two are reconciled and go home, leaving the war exactly where it started.
After the execution of Louis (and Manessier), all four MSS are in close agreement:
Ludie, however, sends word to her mother Helissent’s kinsmen, the lords of Flanders. A new set of characters now arrive who include Count Berenger the Grey of Boulogne; Count Bauche the Short of Flanders, who is fifteen feet tall; Count Gautier of Artois; Guillaume de Monclin’s son Berault; and Guillaume de Blancafort’s son Forquerés the Little. They rescue Ludie and force Hernault to flee. His allies come to succor him, however, and a bloody battle ensues, which the Bordelais win. The Lorrainers appeal to Pepin, who takes their side, and orders the Bordelais to surrender every fief they hold. The Bordelais refuse, and a grand war breaks out. On the side of the King and Lorraine are Girart of Roussillon (nephew of the more famous Girart) Rome, Apulia, Poitou, Lombardy, Champagne, and Spain. On the side of the Bordelais are Bernard de Naisil’s son Roger, King Samson of England, King David of Scotland, and Ireland, Wales, Denmark, Hungary, and Brittany. Saint Léger goes throughout France trying to prevent the war and preaching peace. Count Bauche is pleased, but Pepin has the holy man arrested. Bauche and Berenger marry the two daughters of Servais of Ireland. From Berenger’s line will come Godfrey of Boulogne. As the two immense forces prepare for battle, even the women of the Bordelais are mustered, into a troop of 20,000, led by Ludie. On the eve of the battle, a dragon flies over the battlefield, causing fire and earthquakes. The queen is killed by a falling beam in the palace. Bauche offers to surrender, and for the ruling generation of Bordelais to all give thir fiefs to their children and spend the rest of their lives in the Holy Land. Nonetheless, Gerin will not accept this offer, and Pepin is sworn to uphold him.
The battle is joined. Berenger kills Mauvoisin. Hernais of Orleans and Girart of Roussillon are slain. The Bordelais are winning, but refuse to press their advantage, and fall back to give King Pepin’s men a chance to escape without further loss of life. The Lorrainers, however, think the Bordelais are retreating, and attack them. The Bordelais are about to be routed when their women folk arrive and win the day. Hernault kills Ludie without recognizing her. Gerin is so badly wounded he will never ride again. Though the Bordelais are victors, almost everyone on both sides is killed, and that is why the different peoples of France and Europe hate each other to this day, because of the losses in that battle. That battle, and the dragon, so weakened France that the Admiral Carfenaon was later able to ravage the whole country, until the Pope united all Christendom against him. Carfenaon’s son, Germon, later ravaged France alongside Ysembars [Gormont and Isembard].
That is in the future, however, and now Saint Léger finally makes peace. Gerin becomes a monk. Only Anseis refuses to be reconciled.
Ten years after the war, Bauche becomes a hermit, leaving Flanders to his son Bauduin. Fourteen years after he enters the hermitage, Anseis gathers a small gang to kill him. When he sees his holy life, however, he abandons this plan. Unfortunately, his man Alori kills Bauche anyway. Bauche is buried where he fell, and works miracles there. Anseis and his companions, except Alori, go to Cambrai where they are welcomed by Count Hugh. Alori, against Anseis’ wishes, goes to Bordeaux and presents Bauche’s heart to Berengerm who hangs him. Berenger goes to Flanders to speak with Bauduin, but Bauduin is living a life of luxurious debauchery with Ludie’s twin sons Richart and Garin. Berenger is tempted to kill his nephew, but settles for persuading him to swear to avenge his father. The Bordelais complain to Pepin, who banishes Hugh of Cambrai for ten years, and gives the Bordelais full authority to do whatever they wish to Anseis. The war thus resumes, and nearly everyone on both sides dies. Anseis kills Richart, the last of Ludie’s sons. Anseis himself is slain by a sergeant who lifts up his armor and stabs him through the lungs. Berenger now dictates the terms of peace: Forquerés is to marry Anseis’ widowed mother Clarisse and become King of Bordeaux. So it is done, and peace is established. King Pepin marries Berthain, and from them were born six children, the eldest of whom was Charles the Bald, who established many markets in France[!]
PROSE ANSEIS – ARSENAL
Follows the version in S. No significant changes.
YONNET DE MEZ – PHILIPPE DE VIGNEULLES
A close translation of the First Redaction of Part I of Anseis, but with the hero’s name changed to “Yon.” Louis stabs Gerbert to death. King Anseis of Cologne is buried in Lens. After Gerin reconciles Louis with Yon, Philippe’s story diverges. Gerin retires to a hermitage, and Yon becomes lord of Cologne. One night, Gerin dreams that an eagle orders him to visit Cologne incognito. At the same time, Louis decides to pay Yon a friendly visit. Unfortunately, as he enters Cologne, his men quarrel with the locals, and a fight breaks out. Yon and Louis take part in the fray, and Louis’ squire kills Yon. Louis flees to Metz, where he takes lodging without being recognized.
Gerin arrives at Cologne to find his cousin dead. Yon is buried in St. Peter’s in Cologne; his murderer is hanged. Gerin travels to Metz, finds Louis, kills him, explains the situation to the horrified crowd, and leaves. Louis is buried in St. Arnoul’s near Hervis and “Gilbert” [Gerbert]. Gerin returns to his hermitage and is never heard from again. Thus ended the two lineages of Hervis and Hardré.
Philippe ends with a brief epilogue, recapitulating the story which he drew out of verse and put into prose, and asks for the reader’s prayers.
Aubert begins his fourth volume of the History of Charles Martel with the death of Fromondin in the monastery, and continues through the story of Anseis, in the Second Redaction, all the way to the end. I can find no information on whether he makes any significant changes. He ends with the wedding of Forquerés and Clarisse, and the return home of all the surviving knights. I do not think he ever mentions the wedding of Pepin and Bertha Broadfoot.
ORIGINS AND INFLUENCE
It would appear that both versions of Part One are reworkings of Yon. The Second Redaction of Part One, and all of Parts Two and Three, are clearly on the side of the Bordelais while the First Redaction is still on the side of the Lorrainers. The Second Redaction and Parts Two and Three are written in a Picard-Walloon dialect, and were likely written by some patriotic Fleming(s) or other poet(s) who either wished to curry favor with the Counts of Flanders or else simply disliked Lorraine. Some scholars think all three parts had different authors. Others disagree.
Saint Léger, or Leodegarius, 615-679, was bishop of Autun, martyred by Ebroin, Mayor of the Palace of Neustria. Read more about him here.
The legend of Yon of Metz is to be found in the following versions:
Yon, or, the Vengeance for Fromondin. A chanson de geste in alliterative decasyllables. Found in only MS M.
YON, OU LA VENJANCE FROMONDIN
Fromondin’s kinsmen, after all the wars, are currently masters of Flanders and Artois. Led by Doon the Grey, son of Isoré the Grey, they make war on the Lorrainers, and ravage Cologne, Hainault, and Picardy. King Pepin dubs Gerbert’s sons knights, and at the feast a minstrel sings the lay of Chevrefoil, that Tristan made for love of Isolde. Queen Blanchefleur finally brings about a reconciliation. During the peace, Count Eude of Flanders says that Fromondin was killed because he tried to treacherously ambush Gerbert and Gerin. Count Mauvoisin of Saint-Gilles strikes him in the face. The peace is still made, but Eude festers. Seventeen years later, he lays siege to Cambrai to avenge this injury. The son of the lord of Cambrai, a certain Raoul, has a squire named Bernier, and some episodes from of Raoul of Cambrai are here worked into the poem. Bernier is a kinsman of the Bordelais, but he is Raoul’s faithful vassal. When Raoul is laying siege to Origny, Bernier begs him to spare his (Bernier’s) mother, who is a nun in an abbey which Raoul is engaged in burning down. Raoul strikes Bernier in the face, an act which eventually leads to Bernier killing Raoul. After Raoul is dead and this war is over, the Lorrainers and Bordelais are reconciled at Gironville by Ludie. Shortly afterwards, however, Gerbert’s son Yon is out hunting with Hernault and Ludie’s son, who is nameless. Hernault’s son injures Yon by accident. Yon slaps him on purpose. The son complains to his mother, who tells him to kill Gerbert. He smashes his uncles’ head open with a chessboard and flees. Gerbert leaves behind two sons: the aforesaid Yon, and Garin. This Garin is identified with Garin of Monglane, and said to be the father of Hernault de Beauland (father of Aymeri of Narbonne), Renier de Gennes (father of Oliver and Aude), Miles de Pouille (father of Simon de Pouille), and Girart de Vienne.
Yon swears vengeance on his cousin, and is crowned king of Gascony. The poet foretells a long and bloody war, but the MS ends here.
Origins and Influence
Those who have read this poem agree that structurally it is a mess. The combats are interminable, and the incidents are mostly recycled from Gerbert. The interpolated retelling of Raoul of Cambrai is apropos of nothing. However, there are some excellent lyrical passages describing festivities in peacetime, and the thrill and excitement of battle, besides which the author presents a valuable picture of feudal life in the 1200’s.
The legend of Gerbert of Metz, son of Garin le Loherain, is to be found in the following versions:
A chanson de geste in some 15,000 alliterative decasyllables. Found in some 21 MSS, always with Garin le Loherain.
The prose of Philippe de Vigneulles.
David Aubert’s History of Charles Martel, volume 3.
Another prose rendering, Arsenal 3346.
Book One of Roman der Lorreinen. A Middle Dutch poem, c. 1275, surviving only in fragments. The translation of Gerbert is entirely lost.
LA CHANSON DE GERBERT DE METZ
On the MSS: For this poem, ABCL1O form family a. All other MSS except INR form family b, though EL1OPS have a tendency to hop back and forth. IN continue to form a Second Redaction, about which I can find no information. R is off in its own world, but again I can find no specific details.
The surviving Lorrainers are as hell-bent on vengeance as ever. The Bordelais are on the brink of capturing Metz, when Garin’s son Gerbert persuades the burghers to swear homage to King Anseis of Cologne while he (Gerbert) goes to Paris to speak with Pepin. On the road to Paris he meets Begon’s two sons, Gerin and Hernault, who tell him that Lancelin, one of Garin’s assassins, is out hunting in the forest of Frat [the modern Forest of Foug]. The three cousins ambush him there, cut off his head, throw his entrails in the river, and strew pieces of his body along their way as they ride towards Paris. Reaching the city, Blanchefleur persuades Pepin to retain them at court. Gerbert starts as a huntsman, but soon works his way up to be seneschal.
Meanwhile, Rigaut and his brother Morant attack Bordeaux. Guillaume of Monclin’s son, Garin, is dubbed a knight and joins the war. Rigaut’s brother, Morant, is slain. In a feast on St. Denis’ Day, Queen Blanchefleur notices Fromont is absent from court, and makes Pepin send Gerbert to summon him to answer for his crimes. Fromont is furious, and Gerbert narrowly escapes with his life.
Fromont nonetheless comes to court, where, despite Pepin’s best efforts to keep them away, Gerbert, Gerin, and Hernault meet him in the hall. Fromont insults Pepin and accuses Blanchefleur of sleeping with the three cousins. A brawl breaks out, and the Bordelais are driven away. Pepin invests Gerbert with Gironville, once a fief of the Bordelais. Gerbert occupies this city, and during the ensuing war Rigaut is shot and killed by Guillaume de Monclin, and Fromont burns all the Lorrainers’ castles save Gironville.
Here is a division in most manuscripts, with a large initial to begin a new section. EFJLMPXOQV here add a long description of Gironville, cobbled together from three later laisses (30, 36, 38 in Taylor’s edition) They later repeat the parts of this description in their original places. EFMP say that here ends the song of Jehan de Flagi, presumably the author, as no knight of that name is ever mentioned.
The Bordelais lay siege to Gironville. Fromont’s attempts to build a better siege machine fail, so he sends Fromondin off to Paris to bribe Pepin, who swears not to aid the Lorrainers. As he returns to Gironville, he is met by Gerbert, Gerin, and their cousin Mauvoisin, who have slipped away from Gironville to seek help in Paris. The Lorrainers slaughter all the Bordelais save Fromondin, who escapes. Pepin refuses them his help, however, and slaps the Queen when she intercedes for them. At this juncture, messengers arrive from King Anseis of Cologne, seeking aid. Pepin refuses to send any, but the Lorrainers ride north.
In the course of saving Cologne, Gerbert wins the good horse Fleuri, and the love of Anseis’ wife and daughter both. He is unresponsive to their advances, but Gerin councils him to marry the princess. He settles for becoming engaged to her. Anseis restores Metz to Gerbert, mostly to get rid of him before his womenfolk do something they’ll regret.
The three Lorraine cousins now go to Charles’ court in Orleans, where they find Fromont, who renews his accusations. It is suggested to have Gerbert and Guillaume de Monclin fight a duel, but Fromont refuses to allow it, since Gerbert is the grandson of a commoner (Hervis). Gerbert answers that at least his ancestors aren’t traitors and scoundrels. At last Fromondin agrees to fight, and is defeated. The Bordelais flee, and Fromont raises on army from King Yon of Gascony. With it, he besieges Hernault le Poitevin in Gironville.
During the siege, Fromont comes up with a scheme to entrap Hernaut: he will offer him the hand of his (Fromont’s) daughter Ludie to lure him into an ambush. Ludie is horrified at this treacherous behavior (and loves Fromont), and writes him a warning letter, which she wraps around an arrow and fires into the besiegers’ camp. Ludie seeks refuge with inside Gironville, and the Lorrainers capture her brother Fromondin. King Pepin arrives with the royal army. Guillaume de Monclin and Fromont offer to make peace with Pepin. Fromont will pay handsome reparations to Pepin and the Lorrainers, will walk barefoot to Saint-Denis in Paris, will give Ludie to Hernault, and will let bygones be bygones, if only he can keep Gironville. At the queen’s urging, Pepin refuses the offer and attacks the Bordelais. Guillaume’s son Garin, Bernard of Naisil, and Guillaume of Monclin are all slain. Fromont abandons the city and flees to Spain, where he is led before Emir Galafré, offers him his services, and becomes a renegade.
Meanwhile, in France, Fromondin has made peace with the Lorrainers. Fromondin will keep Bordeaux, and his sister Ludie will marry Hernault after all. All agree that the many deaths on each side will balance each other out and no further vengeance will be taken. A year passes by in peace.
The Bordelais invite Hernaut and his friends to a feast, where the townsfolk attack them. Hernaut escapes, but Doon the Hunter (Mauvoisin’s father) is slain, and Ludie is captured and returned to the custody of Fromondin. The Lorrainers appeal to Pepin, who answers with a curse on both their houses, until Blanchefleur once again talks him into supporting the Lorrainers. As the men of France and Lorrainer prepare for war, Fromondin secretly travels to Hernaut’s home of Blaye and ambushes him in the Church of Saint Martin. Hernaut grabs the great crucifix to use as the shield, but Fromondin cuts through it and him. The Bordelais then set the church on fire, leaving Hernaut for dead behind the altar. He survives, however, just barely, and the Queen’s army arrives to capture Fromondin, who is forced to take monastic vows.
The Saracens again attack King Anseis, who appeals to Gerbert for aid. Gerbert is minded to refuse, being bankrupt after defeating Fromondin. Gerin, however, counsels him to mortgage his fiefs and ask Pepin for Bordeaux. Gerbert agrees. Fromondin hears of this and breaks out of the monastery of Saint-Seurin, using the abbey’s wealth to raise an army, with which he intends to ambush Gerbert. However, when he reaches Cologne and sees Gerbert’s tiny army facing the Saracens, he decides, for the sake of honor, and to have the pleasure of killing Gerbert himself, to help Gerbert defeat the Saracens and then challenge him to a battle. Gerbert accepts this proposition in its entirety. Gerbert and Fromondin repel the heathens. Anseis urges Gerbert to finally wed Beatrice, but he declines. He then offers Gerbert his help against the Bordelais, but Gerbert declines this, owing to the terms of the oath he had sworn to Fromondin. Fromondin offers to make peace with Gerbert, who refuses. After a fierce battle, the two chieftains decide to fight in single combat. Gerbert overcomes Fromondin, but spares his life. The Lorrainers feast in Cologne and throw Fromondin in prison. Anseis urges Gerbert to marry Beatrice, but he still refuses, so she insults and mocks him in front of all the barons [only in two MSS] and marries Gerin instead. Fromondin serves at table at the wedding feast. Gerbert gives Metz to Gerin, and then takes Fromondin to Pepin’s court for judgment. The barons find Fromondin guilty, and allow Gerbert to set his punishment.
At this juncture, however, news comes that the heathen Spaniards, accompanied by Fromont, have invaded France and are besieging Hernault le Poitevin in Gironville. Fromondin offers to help defeat the Saracens if Gerbert will spare him, and so it is done. Fromondin slays the heathen Prince Cormadant, son of Emir Marsilius. Marsilius, when he hears the news, executes Fromont. Gerbert and the Royal army reach Gironville and raise the siege, Gerbert kills the Emir, and the Spaniards retreat. Fromondin finds his father’s body and secretly swears vengeance. Fromont is buried in Saint-Seurin in Bordeaux.
Gerin, having wed Anseis’ daughter Beatrice, now inherits Cologne. Girbert marries the daughter of King Yon of Provence and inherits that kingdom. The princess dies giving birth to her son Anseis, and Girbert marries the daughter of Aymeri of Narbonne, likewise an orphan, whom he protects against invading Saracens. Fromondin, left as lord of Bordeaux, accepts Hernault le Poitevin as his suzerain. Hernault and Ludie are reunited and live peacefully together. Fromondin stands as godfather to Hernault’s sons, Fromont and Begon.
So matters stay for several years, until Fromondin invites Gerbert to stay with him for Pentecost. Gerbert visits Fromont’s tomb and offers to pay for the building of a richer one, which Fromondin accepts. However, Gerbert and his squire Mauvoisin secretly steal Fromont’s skull, which they take back to Aix with them and make into a drinking goblet. At the next great feast, it is Gerbert’s turn to play host, and he invites Gerin, Hernaut, Fromondin, and others. Girbert serves Fromondin and his cousins out of the skull-goblet. Unfortunately, the secret of the skull-goblet gets out, and Fromondin hears of it. He and the other Bordealais leave at once, swearing vengeance.
Fromondin occupies Gironville, taking Ludie and her children, the young Fromont and Begon, captive. She pleads with him to accept Gerbert’s offer of peace. He is willing to pay three horse-loads of gold, thirty helms and hauberks, and the golden goblet, but Fromondin is implacable. He dashes out the brains of his two nephews, his own godsons, in front of Ludie. Nonetheless, he does not have enough men to hold Gironville, and the Lorrainers force him to flee across the Pyrenees. Only one squire is with him as he enters Pamplona. Here the enormity of his sins overwhelms him, and he flees to the forest to become a hermit. He is shrived by a holy man who has lived in the forest for over thirty years, and the three men live together in fasting and prayer. Even after the old hermit dies, Fromondin and his squire continue their penance.
Four years have gone by, when King Gerin of Cologne desires to visit Saint James of Compostella. He stops by Aix-en-Provence to visit Gerbert, who decides to come with him. Mauvoisin also joins the party. As the three of them pass by Pamplona, they hear tell of a holy hermit living in the woods, and decide to make their confessions to him. Fromondin, unrecognized himself, recognizes the three cousins at once, and tells them to come back later, for he himself is not in a state of grace. What he is in fact lacking are weapons, which he sends his squire to the city to obtain. The squire, however, warns the Lorrainers of his master’s identity. They return to the hermitage and prepare to kill him. Fromondin asks for mercy, and warns them that his kinsmen will avenge him. Nonetheless, Gerbert smites him with his pilgrim’s staff, breaking his skull open. Fromondin falls dead to the floor. Gerbert and Gerin see to his burial, and then return home, where their story is met with much rejoicing.
Familes a and b differ in some minor details, but none of much importance. I suspect IN differ much more, but they have never been printed, nor, as far as I am aware, even analyzed.
The Emir uses a surprising variety of weapons to kill Fromont. A sword ABCM, his baton V, his shield DFJLSW, an ivory horn P, an ivory chessboard EQR, a tretel N.
All MSS of the Lorraine cycle end with a recapitulation of the main characters of both houses, this recapitualation coming at the end of either Gerbert, Yon, or Anseis, with adaptations to suit. A few also explain that after Blanchefleur died, Pepin married Bertha Broadfoot.
Continues to be similar, though not identical, to S.
I can find no information on this part of Aubert’s prose, save that his volume 3 begins with the death of Garin and ends just before the death of Fromondin in the hermitage.
PHILIPPE DE VIGNEULLES
What moderns call Gerbert de Metz is called by Philippe Book III of Garin le Loherain. He begins his book III with the death of Garin, and carries it down to the death of Fromondin.
ROMAN DER LORREINEN
The part of his poem dealing with Gerbert has been completely lost.
Origins and Influence
The poem of Gerbert was written between 1185 and 1210, and at once became inseparable from Garin. There is no historical basis for it. Compare the story of Fromond’s skull made into a goblet with that of the Lombard queen Rosamund.
Aymeri of Narbonne is generally held to have flourished after the battle of Roncesvalles, and to have died in the reign of Louis the Pious. Perhaps Gerbert’s deceased father-in-law is a different man of the same name.
Philippe Mouskes’ Chronique Rimee gives the story down to the marriage of Gerbert with the daughter of Aymeri of Narbonne. The other chronicles listed above under Garin usually include some or all of the story of Gerbert.
The central legend of Garin and Gerbert spawned not only a prequel, but three continuations, written independently of each other: an Old French poem, Yon, ou le Vengeance Fromondin; another old French poem, Anseis de Metz; and the second book of the Middle Dutch Roman der Lorreinen. Let us now turn to those.
 Silver, Maurice, Girbert de Mes, According to Ms. B, Text and Variants of Lines 8879-10822, Followed by a Study of the Noun Declensional System, Ph. D. dissertation, Columbia University, New York, 1942.
The legend of Garin le Loherain, or Garin the Lorrainer is found in the following versions:
Garin le Loherain, an Old French chanson de geste of over 16,000 assonanced decasyllables, attributed to Jean de Flagy. Found in over twenty MSS, almost always alongside Gerbert. There are two major redactions. One found in the majority of the MSS, the other only in INT. The second redaction was made after Hervis de Metz and attempts to tie the two poems more closely together. Since this poem is never found without Gerbert, it is not entirely clear where the one poem begins and the other ends. We follow the modern convention, but some scholars make the divide at the beginning of our Part III of Garin, and others at the first siege of Gironville in Gerbert.
An anonymous prose rendering, Arsenal 3346.
The prose of Philippe de Vigneulles.
David Aubert’s History of Charles Martel.
Book One of Roman der Lorreinen. A Middle Dutch poem, c. 1275. 10,000 verses survive of what appear to have been over 150,000.
[Arlima claims that a version in Alexandrines exists. This is incorrect. The original poem was in decasyllables, but the MSS as we have them all occasionally slip into alexandrines. Some do this much more frequently than others, but they do so only by padding. There is no alexandrine redaction of the poem as a whole.]
The fullest account of the story in English is John Ludlow’s, in Popular Epics of the Middle Ages of the Norse-German and Carlovingian Cycles, Volume 2.
The following classification is taken from Anne Iker-Gittleman’s edition (Paris, Champion 1996) and is based largely on how accurately the references to the geography of Lorraine have been preserved. All MSS except INT agree on the indicidents of the story. Cross-contamination between families is frequent, and the exact relations of the families are hazy.
DFGJ: Most likely the closest to the original, though none are without errors. The most accurate geographically. FJ often resemble the Lorraine group in non-geographic readings.
L1: A very corrupt version of the common ancestor of the three following groups.
ABCOR: R changes assonance to rhyme, but otherwise stays as close to the others as it can.
QS: Heavily trims the first part of the poem (the wars of Hervis), besides other changes. The second most accurate geographically, albeit of late origin.
VW: Very accurate geographically; somewhere between DFGJ and the Lorraine group non-geographically.
EMPX: The so-called Lorraine group, ironically the most corrupt of all geographically.
INT: The only group to change the incidents of the story, to tie it in with Hervis de Metz.
DGIW all are missing pages at the beginning. X intentionally, L1 owing to the ravages of time, begin with the death of Begon, at our Part Three. The division into parts is made by Paulin Paris, I know not on what MS authority.
The pagan Vandals are invading France. Charles Martel lays a heavy tax on the Church to fund his army, but it takes a direct order from the Pope to force the monasteries to pay up. Duke Hervis of Lorraine distinguishes himself in Charles’ councils and in warfare, slaying the pagan king Charboncle, who was attacking Paris. Charles raises the siege of Sens and chases the Vandals to Troyes, while Hervis delivers Soissons. Charles, jealous of Hervis’ prowess, attacks the heathens at Troyes without waiting for Hervis’ forces to join his. Hervis arrives in time to save the Franks from defeat, but not in time to prevent Charles from receiving a fatal wound, and Saint Lupus of Troyes from receiving martyrdom. Charles Martel dies of his wound nine day later, and Hervis arranges for his heir, the young Pepin, to be crowned. He makes one Hardré the regent. Hervis then returns home and weds the fair Alice of Cologne, sister of Gaudin. They have two sons, Garin and Begon, and seven daughters, who become the mothers of 1) Hernais of Orleans and Bishop Eudes of Orleans, 2) Auberi le Bourguignon, 3) Ouri the German, 4) Girard of Liege, 5) Hugh of Cambray and Walter of Hainault, 6) Geoffrey of Anjou, 7) Hugh of Mans and Garnier.
(The MSS vary wildly in the genealogy. We follow the most common arrangement. Other MSS include among Garin’s nephews Mauvoisin, later to be his squire; Rigaut de Plessy, who is normally said to be the son of peasants; Salomon of Brittany; and Hoel of Nantes).
The remnants of the infidel army, however, lay siege to Metz. Hervis rides to Laon to demand aid from the twelve-year-old Pepin, but Hardré refuses it. Hervis renounces his vassalship and swears fealty to King Anseis of Cologne. Anseis helps raise the siege, but in the fighting, Hervis is shot with an arrow and killed, and King Pepin annexes his fiefs.
Hervis’ faithful vassal Berengier takes Garin and Begon and confides them to their uncle, Hervis’ brother, Bishop Henri of Châlons. Seven and a half years later, Henri presents them at the court of France. At Hardré’s advice, Pepin swears friendship with them, and gives Begon the duchy of Gascony. He dubs the lads knights, at the same time as their new friends, Hardré’s sons Fromont and Guillaume de Monclin. [Hardré has some six or seven sons.
For reasons known only to himself, has named most of them Fromont and Guillaume. Besides the companions of Garin and Begon, there are Fromont of Bologne, father of Isoré the Grey; Fromont de la tour d’Ardres; Guillaume de Blancafort; and, in some MSS, Guillaume le Poitevin].
At the subsequent feast, a messenger arrives with the news that Richard of Normandy is rebelling. The new knights, led by Begon, subdue Richard, and go on to subdue Gascony, Poitou, and reclaim Lorraine for Garin, with the help of Hardré’s diplomacy. When King Pepin grants Gascony to Begon in fief, he swears to give the next fief that falls vacant to Fromont.
Four Moorish kings out of Spain invade France, and besiege King Thierri of Maurienne in his city of Val Parfonde. Pepin would fain refuse his aid, but the sons of Hervis persuade him to grant it, and the armies of France are gathered in Lyon at Pentecost. Pepin falls ill, and Garin must lead the troops. As they near Val Parfonde, Garin, Begon, and Bernard of Naisil (uncle of Fromont and Guillaume, and a defrocked monk) send out spies. They return and announce that the Saracens vastly outnumber the Christians. Fromont and Guillaume wish to return home, and will not listen to Garin’s pleas. At last he grants them permission to depart, on condition that they lay no claim to any of the booty when he wins. The Bordelais abandon the army with their men, but the Lorrainers press on. Saints Denis, George, and Domin aid them in their battle, and the Saracens are routed, but King Thierry is mortally wounded by an arrow. On his deathbed, he betrothes Garin to his daughter Blanchefleur, who is only eight or nine years old.
Returning to court, Pepin joyfully greets the Lorrainers, and approves of Garin’s betrothal to Blanchefleur. Unfortunately, Thierry is the first vassal of Pepin’s to die without a male heir since Begon received Gascony, and hence Fromont considers himself entitled to Blanchefleur and her fiefs. Pepin objects that a father’s dying wish overrides his oath. Furious, Fromont first insults, then strikes Garin. A melee soon becomes general, with Pepin looking on helplessly.
In the palace brawl, Garin’s nephew Hernais of Orleans distinguishes himself, Hardré is killed, and Fromont flees. Hardré’s fief of Soissons, which he had usurped from the Lorrainers, is siezed by the Lorrainers for Hernais of Orleans. Pepin is reluctant to recognize him as the city’s lord, but yields to Garin’s threat to burn the city to the ground if his family’s claims are not recognized.
Fromont, counselled by Droon of Amiens, marries Helissent of Ponthieu, the sister of Count Baldwin of Flanders. Only after the wedding do the Flemings learn that Fromont is out of favor with Pepin. Baldwin is angry at first, but then realizes he now has an ally against his mortal enemy, Garin’s nephew Huon of Cambrai. The Bordelais, Flemings, and Fromont’s nephew Count Isoré the Grey all lay siege to Cambrai. Huon rebukes Isoré for his actions (They had once been comrades), and persuades him to abandon the war. Huon also sends for aid from his kin. Pepin and Garin make ready for war.
Meanwhile, Bernard of Naisil has learned of his brother Hardré’s death and seeks to avenge it by plundering Lorraine and Burgundy. He at last comes to Dijon and there besieges Auberi le Bourguignon, Garin and Begon’s nephew. Begon chases him away, and wishes to kill Huedon of Grantcey, who has betrayed his lord Auberi during the invasion and helped Bernard. Huedon’s wife, however, is Auberi’s niece, and Begon spares him at her intercession.
Meanwhile, Fromont has abandoned his siege of Cambrai and is holed up in Saint-Quentin. Garin lays siege to him there, which is described at very great length. Fromont’s brother, Fromont de la tour d’Ardres. After a very long war, the Bordelais and Lorrainers agree to submit themselves to the king’s judgment. Princess Blanchefleur, the cause of all this fighting, is now old enough to be married (i. e. at least twelve), and Auberi le Bourguignon conducts her to court. Pepin resolves the issue to nobody’s satisfaction by marrying her himself, (he bribes two monks to falsely swear that Garin and Blanchefleur are too closely related to marry). Pepin compensates Garin and Fromont with lofty titles. Shortly afterward, while all are still at court, the Bordelais accuse Garin of conspiring with Blanchefleur to kill the King. Begon proves his brother’s innocence by slaying Isoré in a judicial duel. He rips his heart out of his chest and throws it in the face of Fromont’s brother Guillaume de Monclin. Bernard flees to Naisil, but the king and Lorrainers lays siege, capture him when he sallies out, and lock him in a monastery.
Garin and Begon marry Alice and Beatrice, the two daughters of Pepin’s uncle Count Milon of Blaye, who thereupon becomes a monk. Garin and Begon agree that Garin will inherit all the lands of Lorraine, and Begon all the lands of Count Milon. The Bordelais, alarmed at Begon’s new inheritance so close to their fiefs, attempt to assassinate him. Fromont’s brother Aymon of Bordeaux and his nephew Thibaut of Plessis ambush Begon and Beatrice in the woods. Begon is sorely wounded, but Hervis le Vilain, lord of nearby Plasseïs, comes to the rescue. Begon and his men wind up in besieged in Belin, and send as their messenger a certain Manuel Galopin, a man of some magical talents who prefers to loaf around and get drunk in the taverns. With his magic, he turns invisible, and thus evades the besieging Bordelais and brings back help from court. The royal army raises the siege of Belin and goes on to besiege Bordeaux instead.
Two new knights play a large role in this siege: Fromondin, son of Fromont; and Rigaut, son of the Hervis li Vilain, who fights for the Lorrainers. Rigaut has no patience for the ceremonies of knighthood, and his bewilderment at the rituals of his dubbing is treated with a comic touch.
At long last, the Bordelais surrender, and peace is sworn. Begon is made Duke of Gascony and suzerain of Fromont in Bordeaux. Garin stands as godfather to the son of Fromont’s brother Guillaume de Monclin, and promises to invest the baby, also named Garin, with lordship of the Metz market: a promise he does not keep.
Begon is at his castle of Belin, happy with his wife Beatrice and his two sons, Gerin, now aged twelve, and Hernaut, ten. However, it has been seven years since he last saw Garin, and he decides to make a trip to Lorraine. But first, he decides to hunt an enormous boar which has been ravaging the forest of Vicogne. Unfortunately, the forest of Vicogne is right on the border of his lands and the lands of Fromont. Caught up in the excitement of the hunt, he becomes separated from all his men and wanders across the border, where he is found by six foresters of Fromont. They do not recognize him, but kill him for his armor and trappings. They bring his body back to Fromont’s hall and say they have killed a trespasser, but Fromont recognizes him, and grieves heavily, for he knows that Garin will not believe he was innocent. Fromondin wishes to execute the foresters; Guillame de Monclin wishes to reward them. Fromont arrests the foresters and sends a messenger to Garin, offering to have ten thousand Masses said for Begon’s soul, to let Garin execute the murderes however he pleases, to swear on holy relics that he (Fromont) was innocent, and to pay four horses loaded with gold and silver to Garin. Garin accepts. Bernard de Naisil, however, is disgusted at his nephew’s behavior, and secretly sets the foresters free. Garin is furious, and the war resumes again. Rigaut wastes the lands around Bordeaux with fire and sword, and Hugh of Cambrai siezes the chance to attack Flanders, but he is slain. The foresters, led by Guillaume de Blancafort (a brother of Fromont’s) and Thibaut de Plessis, flee to Pepin’s court.
At Guillaume and Thibaut’s insistance, Pepin decides that he has supported the Lorrainers for long enough, and withdraws his protection from them. When Queen Blanchefleur protests, he strikes her face, causing the blood to run down. She sends word to Garin, telling him to kill Guillaume and Thibaut or lose her esteem forever. To hear is to obey, and Garin gathers his son Gerbert, his nephews Hernaut and Gerin, and a goodly company, and leaves Metz to lie in ambush on the road to Orleans. Despite Pepin’s guarantee of a safe-conduct and his gift of a number of attendants, the Lorrainers ambush the Bordelais. Hernaut, Begon’s son, kills Thibaut, and Garin kills Guillaume. All the Bordelais are slaughtered except one old man. Garin then mounts Guillaume’s lifeless body upright on his horse as if he still lived, and bids the old man lead him to Lens, where Fromont and Fromondin can see him.
The war continues for some time. Ouri the German and Girard of Liege are slain, but the Lorrainers destroy the castles of Naisil, Verdun, and Monclin. Since Hugh of Cambrai has died some time previously, Garin and Auberi arrange for his orphaned daughter to marry a certain Milon de Laverdin. From their line will come Raoul of Cambrai.
At last, Garin has utterly wasted the south of France and arranged for the imprisonment of Bernard in a monastery. Peace is made and all are, supposedly, reconciled. Three years after the conclusion of the war, Garin is stricken with remorse for his deeds. He summons the Bordelais to Val-Gelin and meets them in a little chapel there. He offers to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre and to restore Monclin to Guillaume de Monclin. Guillaume, however, chooses this moment to reproach Garin for never giving his godson his promised fief: the markets of Metz. Garin agrees to this as well, but one of his vavasors reminds all present that Garin only promised one market, and that the best. Guillaume quarrels with and kills the vavasor. Garin will not fight back, threatens Guillaume with Hellfire if he starts the war again, and rides away without another word. The Bordelais hesitate a few moments, then Bishop Lancelin rouses them to pursue the Lorrainers. Garin orders Gerbert, Hernault, and Gerin to save themeselves, and they ride to Metz while Garin’s men are all cut down, until he alone remains. Garin retreats to a chapel, where he kneels, sorely wounded, before the altar. The Bordelais pursue him even here, and though he slays many of them, he falls at last, “like an oak among lesser trees.” The Bordelais flee, leaving Garin to die. One of Garin’s men comes back to the scene, and, thinking his lord already dead, cuts off his right arm to keep as a relic. Garin, who is still alive, pardons him for this deed and renders up his soul. Garin is buried in Val-Gelin. The widows Beatrice and Alice die of grief within three months. They are buried in the church of Saint Arnoul.
SECOND REDACTION OF GARIN – INT
The primary purpose of this redaction was to tie the story together with that of Hervis de Metz and Gerbert de Metz. It consequently is closest to the original in the body of the poem, and most different at the beginning and end. Even though the body of the poem follows the original incidents closely, there is enough of a difference in vocabulary and tone that they can almost be considered two separate works. T returns to the First Redaction before the death of Garin and remains there throughout Gerbert.
Hervis’ children are already born before the invasion of the Vandals. Saint George fights on the side of the Christians. Pepin is born by Caesarian section. After Charles’ death and the second Vandal attack, as Hervis and Anseis are defending Metz, Hervis survives being shot with an arrow, thanks to a magic ring he received from Beatrice. After the Vandals are repulsed, Hervis and Beatrice leave Metz in the hands of Thierri and go to visit King Eustace of Tyre. Garin and Begon live in Metz for three years until Pepin invites them to court. Their uncle, Bishop Henri of Chalons, accompanies them thither, where Pepin greets them warmly, making Garin a trencherman and Begon a cup-bearer. Hervis and Beatrice, meanwhile, are reconciled with King Eustace, and renew their wedding vows in his presence. The couple then depart for the Holy Land, where they will die. Hervis’ tomb is still to be seen. Here ends the poem of Hervis, and begins that of Garin, according to N.
After supressing Richard of Normandy’s rebellion, Garin and Begon are sent by Pepin to reclaim Metz from Anseis, who has laid siege to the city after the burghers refused to pay him the tribute. In the meantime, Thierry and Alice, Hervis’ parents, have died.
The rest of the poem is essentially the same, albeit with many minor variants, up until the death of Garin, which is completely different.
Some time after the death of Guillaume de Blancafort and Thibaut of Plessis, Fromont, Fromondin, and their kin assemble on the borders of Lorraine. Fromondin rides into the city and slays some townsfolk under Garin’s window. Garin promises a reward to whoever slays Fromondin, which so excites his men that they do not bother arming before pursuing him out of the city. Only Garin, his son and his nephews are armed when they find Fromondin in the woods. Gerbert lays Fromondin on the ground, but before he can kill him, Guillaume de Monclin and the Bordelais spring out of hiding. Garin buys time for the lads to escape, but Guillaume slays him, after taunting him and accusing him of never giving his godson his promised fief. Once Garin is dead, the Bordelais follow the young Lorrainers to Metz, where four of Fromont’s ten sons are slain in a battle. The Lorrainers are victorious and send monks to the woods to fetch Garin’s body at Vespers. Garin is buried in Metz. Alice and Beatrice die of grief at his grave, and Gerbert buries his mother and his aunt in the church of Saint Stephen, swearing to avenge them all.
Bueves d’Aigremont was apparently invented for this chanson. No historical basis, nor is he known earlier. His wife is called Lanfusa in Boiardo, though this is usually the name of Ferraguto’s mother. The Italian Cantari di Rinaldo calls her Smeragda [Emerald]. Girart of Rousillon is based on Count Girart II of Paris, who also inspired Girart of Vienne and Girart of Eufrate. Doon of Nanteuil was known before the Quatre Fils, but was not historical, and does not seem to have been linked with Aymon before this poem.
There are several Aigremonts in France. The most likely contenders are:
Aigremont, on the far side of Troyes from Paris, and not too far from Roussillon.
Aigremont, in the Haute-Marne.
Aigremont, in the Yonne.
Aigremont, on the Meuse, in Belgium.
However, all the foregoing are small hamlets, and Aigremont in the poem is a rich city, on the sea, apparently near Lombardy.
Aymon of Dordonne and his wife
There was a King Aimo of Saragossa in the Middle Ages, but he was a Muslim who probably never saw France. Louis the Pious appointed another Aimo to be governor of Albi. A Duke Haimo is mentioned as living under Clodovech II (r. 639-657), but he had only one son, who predeceased him. A Count Haymo was alive in 863, of whom nothing is known.
The wife of Aymon and the mother of the Four Sons is named Aye in most manuscripts of the Quatre Fils, (DPNCLMV) though usually simply referred to as “la duchesse.” O consistently and A occasionally call her Hermanjart, though this name is probably taken from the wife of Aymeri of Narbonne. ZM call her Marguerite, in which they are followed by Caxton. In the Orlando Innamorato and Furioso she is called Beatrice and made to be the sister of Ogier the Dane’s wife Ermelline. The Dutch poem and its descendants call the duchess Aya and make her the sister of Charlemagne and daughter of Pepin. This relationship is alluded to in passing in some of the manuscripts of Les Quatre Fils, (DP, for example) though no emphasis is placed on it. In reality, Charlemagne had several half-sisters, of whom almost nothing is known, but his only full sister, the only one with whom he had any sort of relationship, was Gisela, who entered the nunnery of Chelle in her youth and as far as we know died a virgin.
In the Oxford Roland, Hamon [=Aymon] of Galice and Rembalt lead the Flemings and Frisians against Baligant. The Karlamagnussaga’s First Branch, doubtless based on a lost French source, tells how these two met and became sworn friends. Aymon marries Aye, the daugher of the Count of Laon and widow of the wicked Varner of Pierrepont, whom Rembalt had slain in a duel. In the Dutch Renout, Aymon the father of the Four Sons holds Pierrepont as well as Dordonne, and his wife Aye is the daughter of Charlemagne. [There are several Pierreponts, but this is the one in Aisne]. Is there a connection here? We will never know for sure. Continue reading
The legend of the Fair Florence of Rome is extant in the following versions:
La Chanson de Florence de Rome. French, rhymed alexandrines, c. 1200-1225. Edited by A. Wallensköld.
Le Dit de Florence de Romme. By Jean de Saint Quentin. French. Rhymed alexandrine quatrains, c. 1300-1350. Edited by Achille Jubinal in Nouveau Recueil de contes, Dits, Fabliaux et autres Pièces Inédits des XIIIe, XIVe, et XVe Siècles. Volume 6.
Le Roman de Florence de Rome. French, 4,500 rhymed Alexandrines, 1400’s. Included in Volume 1 of Wallensköld’s edition.
Flourence de Rome. A prose rendering of the story was also attached to the end of the prosification of Florent et Octavian, to which it was made the sequel. Printed in a dissertation by Sarah Crisler (U of Texas, 2000), which will never see the light of day outside Proquest. Support copyright reform!
Le Bone Florence de Rome. English, tail-rhyme, 1400’s. To be found in Ritson’s Ancient English Metrical Romances. Volume 3.
Cuento Muy Famoso del Enperador Ottas de Roma. Spanish prose, 1400’s. Can be found in volume 5 of Amador de los Rios’ Historia Critica de la Litterature Española.
Nobody is quite sure how all these versions are related, but they differ only in trifles.
LA CHANSON DE FLORENCE DE ROME (LMP)
King Oton of Rome’s daughter, Florence, is born to the accompaniment of terrible omens, and her mother dies shortly after. Her father dotes on the girl, who grows up to be beautiful and wise. King Garsire of Constantinople sends messengers seeking her hand in marriage, threating war if he is refused. Oton consults with his barons and with Florence, and rejects the offer. Garsire declares war.
Meanwhile, Milon and Esmeré, the two sons of King Philip of Hungary are currently serving the King of Slavonia, since their father has died and their mother was remarried to Justamont of Syria, who sought to kill his step-children. Milon, the elder, is wicked, and Esmeré, the younger, good. They decide to help King Oton in the war. In the course of the war, Milon displays his treachery, Florence falls in love with Esmeré, Oton is killed, and Esmeré taken captive. Florence thinks it prudent to marry a knight who can protect her, wishes she could find Esmeré to marry him, but resigns herself to Milon.
At this juncture, however, Garsire releases Esmeré from captivity, in gratitude for a favor King Philip once rendered him. He returns to Rome, prompting Florence to jilt Milon. Esmeré and Florence are wed, while Milon stews and schemes. Florence refuses to consummate the marriage until Garsire is defeated. Another battle is joined, in which Esmeré routs Garsire. The Romans pursue the Greeks to the seashore, where they board their ships and escape. Esmeré vows to pursue and destroy him, and leaves Milon and a hundred knights behind to guard Rome and Florence, while he and he bulk of the army set sail. Milon offers much wealth to the hundred if they will say that Esmeré is dead and crown him king. Only Sir Sanson opposes the plan, so Esmeré kills him, mutilates his body, and passes it off as Esmeré’s. Florence, however, refuses to marry him, and Sanson’s brother Agravain repents his part in the treason, confesses to the Pope, and rouses the people of Rome to arrest Milon and his men. Meanwhile, Esmeré has conquered Constantinople and returns to Italy with Garsire as prisoner, landing in Gaeta. Florence is so happy at the news that she pardons Milon and sends him to meet his brother. Milon attempts to convince Esmeré that Agravain has committed adultery with Florence, but fails miserably and is banished. Milon leaves Gaeta, returns to Rome, tells Florence that Esmeré has requested her to come forth in triumph to meet him, and then abducts her from the triumphal parade.
They travel beyond the empire’s borders. On the way, Milon kills a lion, two apes, an old hermit who rebukes his conduct (by locking him in his chapel and burning it to the ground), and a great serpent. He forces Florence to swear never to reveal her identity, but her magic brooch preserves her chastity. Milon, angry at this turn of events, hangs her by her hair from a tree and beats her. In the forest, however, is the Lost Castle (Château-Perdu), ruled by Thierri with his wife Eglantine and their daughter Beatrice. Theirri is out hunting, and Milon flees at the sound of his dogs. Thierri discoveres Florence and takes her home, where she is warmly received by the family, sharing a bed with Beatrice every night.
Milon finds refuge with Guillaume de Dol [possibly a reference to the hero of the Romance of the Rose]. Meanwhile, at the Lost Castle, there arrives a knight named Macaire, who falls in love with Florence. When she rebuffs his advances, he slits Beatrice’s throat at night and frames Florence for the murder. Thierri is about to burn her at the stake, but at the last moment commutes the sentence to banishment. She wanders through the forest and at last comes out on a plain by the seashore, where a thief named Clarembaut is about to be hanged. At her intercession, the folk spare his life, and he swears to protect his saviour. He is lying, however, and takes her to his hideout, where his fellow-bandit Peraut lives. Only Peraut’s wife Solise prevents them from dishonoring and killing Florence. Instead, when she asks them to find her passage on a ship going to the Holy Land, they sell her to a slaver named Escot. Florence boards his ship, ignorant of the fate in store for her When they are safely out at sea, Escot tells her what he intends to do, but Florence calls on God, Who sends a storm that sinks the ship and drowns everyone except Florence and Escot, who wash up on shore, seperately Florence lands near the nunnery of Beau-Repaire, where the bells ring of themselves at her arrival. The nuns are much impressed, and receive her into the cloister, where she cures a sick nun. Her fame as a healer goes out, and crowds flock to be cured by her. Meanwhile, Escot falls ill with swelling, and goes mute and half-blind. Esmeré is shot with an arrow in a war against the King of Apulia, and his doctors cannot remove it, so it festers. Milon, having repented his crimes and served Guillaume de Dol faithfully, is nonetheless striken with leprosy. Macaire goes lame from dropsy. All of them travel to Beau-Repaire, Macaire beign carried by Thierry and Eglantine. Florence recognizes them all, unrecognized by any behind her veil, and orders them to confess their sins or they will not be healed. One by one, they confess their wicked dealings against her, and at last she reveals herself. Florence magnanimosly forgives them all, and returns to Rome as Empress, where she bears Esmeré a son: Oton de Spolète [of Spoleto].
THE SHORT FRENCH REMAINEMENT (Q)
Milon, not Esmeré, saves Emperor Oton’s life in battle, and Oton promises Florence’s hand to Milon. The barons likewise wish to wed the two, but Milon, in foolish pride, asks for some time to consider. Florence and the barons are insulted, and she marries Esmeré instead.
In the war against Garsile [as he is called here], Esmeré saves the life of Sanson, explaining his later loyalty.
Milon’s treasons are reduced in number and complexity, leaving him with no motivation for not returning to Rome after he abandons Florence in the wood, since no one there knows his treachery.
Milon, Clarembaut, and Macaire are burnt at the stake after their confessions.
PROSE FLOURENCE DE ROME
Based on the short redaction, Q. Attached to the end of the prose Octavian, makes Emperor Othon to be the son of Florent and Polisse, from that romance. All Florence’s persecutors are burnt, except for Milon, who is penitent. Florence dies when she is seventy-eight years old, two months before Esmeré.
The prose Octavian was made for John, lord of Crequy, and finished May 1st, 1459.
DIT DE FLOURENCE DE ROMME (D)
A highly abbreviated retelling of the story, closer to LMP than to Q. No bad omens accompany Florence’s birth. Thierri is commanded by an angel not to burn Florence at the stake.
LE BONE FLORENCE OF ROME (R)
The English version, surviving one manuscript. Tail-rhymed, twelve-line stanzas. Half the length of the French. Cuts out some of the weirder details, such as the wild animals that attack Milon. Florence protects her virtue from Milon by praying to Our Lady, not with a magic brooch. At the end, all Florence’s persecutors are executed by Esmeré, instead of being pardoned. The Pope is named Simon, and is said to have written Florence’s story down. [There has never been a Pope Simon].
CUENTO MUY FAMOSO DEL ENPERADOR OTTAS DE ROMA, ET DE LA INFANTE FLORENCIA SU FIJA, ET DEL BUEN CAVALLERO ESMERE (S)
As far as I know, no significant changes from the French. The Pope is again named Simon.
ORIGINS AND INFLUENCE
Stories of persecuted Queens are innumerable, but Florence belongs to the sub-group known as the Crescentia Saga, named after the oldest (surviving) European example, the story of Queen Crescentia in the Kaiserchronik (c. 1150). The distinguishing features of this group are: 1) The heroine’s first persecutor is her amorous brother-in-law. 2) The queen’s healing powers reunite all the characters for the denouement.
It is not our purpose to list all, or even most, of the stories in this sprawling saga, but the following brief outline may be useful:
1st Family: Crescentia Proper. Notable examples: Kaiserchronik. German Volkbooks.
2nd Family: An anonymous Miracle of the Virgin, found first in prose in the 1100’s. Notable examples: Legend of St. Guglielma, Speculum Historiale VII:90-92, Gautier de Coincy.
3rd Family: Florence of Rome.
4th Family: Gesta Romanorum. (Latin 249, in Swann’s translation). Other notable examples: Hoccleve’s Fabulam de quadam imperatrice Romana.
5th Family: Hildegard. Hildegard, wife of Charlemagne, first had the Crescentia Legend attached to her by Johannes Birck, a Bavarian schoolmaster, in the 1400’s. Some twenty-eight later works follow him. They will be dealt with in the appropriate place later on.
Oriental Analogues: Are to be found in the Touti-Nameh, the Thousand and One Nights, and the Thousand and One Days.
Florence of Rome itself was written sometime between 1200 (the date of Guillaume de Dole, to which it seems to allude) and 1225 (when references to it begin appearing in other works).