Welcome to my blog, dedicated to my English translation of Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato and to the Matter of France in general. For the former, begin reading here. For the latter, see the table of contents here. If my minstrelsy amuses you enough to toss a few coins my way, see the books for sale on the right.
Today is the 1,285th anniversary of the Battle of Tours, also known as the Battle of Poitiers, October 10, 732, when Charles Martel and his “northern men of robust limbs and iron hands stood like an unmovable wall of ice and cut the Arabs to pieces,” as the Mozarabic Chronicle puts it.
The Mahometan hordes had overrun Spain in 711, and after consolidating their control, they turned their attentions to France. In 720, when Theuderic IV was King of the Franks and Charles Martel was his Mayor of the Palace, the Saracens conquered Narbonne and laid siege to Toulouse. Duke Eudes of Aquitaine saved Toulouse, but could not recover Narbonne, and there Islam began to take root, and thence tentative minor raids were made on France. In 732 the Emir of Spain, Abd-er-Rahman, decided that there had been enough pussy-footing around, raised an army, crossed the Pyrenees, burned every church in his path, sacked Bordeaux, expelled Duke Eudes, and continued north, until he came to Poitiers, a mere 200 miles from Paris. Duke Eudes, however, had fled to the north, and formed an alliance with Charles, Mayor of the Palace. Their combined army held the road between Poitiers and Tours, and thanks to Charles’ brilliant tactics, the Franks held their ground. Abd-el-Rahman was slain, and his army melted away. There would be many further raids, but never again would they come so far north. France was saved.
Modern scholars have attempted to downplay the importance of the battle, but their arguments are weak. One the one hand, they point out that Muslim raids on Christendom continued. On the other, they claim that even in Charles and Eudes had been defeated, the Muslims still would not have conquered France. As to the first, that the raids continued is true, but, as we said above, they never again went so far north. As to the second, the idea that the Muslims would not have conquered France if Charles Martel had been out of the picture is preposterous in the extreme. A victory at Tours, with Charles disgraced or dead, would have left the road open for Abd-el-Rahman to reach the Rhine. Theuderic IV, a true do-nothing heir of the Merovingians, would certainly not have stopped him, and all France would have had to choose between the Koran, the sword, or dhimmitude. France would have become a new center of Muslim power, and new converts would have been made, a few from the Franks, most likely, and certainly many from the still-pagan Saxons and other Germans beyond the border, who would have been among the next to be attacked, and who, being pagans, would not have had the option of dhimmitude. One shudders to think what would have become of Italy and Constantinople if they had been attacked from the north by Vikings filled with zeal for Islam on top of their lust for plunder.
Today is the anniversary of one of the most glorious events in human history: three hundred thirty-four years ago today, King John Sobieski III and the Polish army arrived to rescue Vienna from the besieging Ottoman army. The following day, September 12, they joined battle, and the Turks were routed. The Ottoman Empire would never recover, and Christendom was saved. To commemorate the victory, Pope Innocent XI extended the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, formerly celebrated only in Spain, to the entire Church.
Blessed be the Name of Mary, Virgin and Mother!
Often in medieval literature, one comes across a reference someone singing the Te Deum. Very rarely is it explained what the Te Deum is. It is a Catholic hymn, according to legend written by Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine, though this has been disproved. It is recited as part of the Liturgy of the Hours, and it was traditionally sung before or after Mass as part of the celebrations following great victories, or the election of a Pope. So that you know what the old romances are talking about when, for instance, Turpin sings the Te Deum, the text follows, in Latin and English.
Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi caeli et universae Potestates;
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man, Thou didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.
We believe that Thou wilt come to be our Judge.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.
V. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
Priest. Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance!
R. Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
People. Govern them, and raise them up forever.
V. Per singulos dies benedicimus te.
V. Every day we thank Thee.
R. Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.
R. And we praise Thy Name forever, yes, forever and ever.
V. Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
V. O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
R. Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri.
R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
V. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
R. In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.
R. O Lord, in Thee I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.