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.

The Legend of Count Claros

Count Claros of Montalban, allegedly the son of Rinaldo, features in a very complicated tradition of Hispanic ballads. There are, according to the late lamented Samuel Armistead, the foremost expert on Sephardic balladry, seven essential themes, which were combined in a variety of ways.

1: Conde Claros y el emperador [Count Claros and the Emperor]. Claros asks the Emperor for money, who offers him as much as he needs. Claros asks for the hand of the princess, Claraniña. The Emperor will not grant it, as he has promised her to Don Beltrán.

2: Conde Claros insomne [Sleepless Count Claros]. Claros cannot sleep for thinking of Claraniña. He has his servant dress him, and he goes to the palace to see her.

3: Conde Claros y la infanta [Count Claros and the Princess]. Claraniña compliments Claros on his strong body, good for fighting Moors. He answers that it’s also good for pleasing dames. The two make love. A hunter finds them under a rose boush and tells the king. The king kills the hunter and orders Claros arrested.

4: Conde Claros preso [Count Claros Arrested]. Claros is thrown in jail for seducing the princess. She runs to the scaffold just as he is about to lose his head, stops the execution, and asks the king to spare his life. He does so and they are wed.

5: Conde Claros degollado [Count Claros Beheaded]. The king finds Claros and the princess together and throws him in jail. The court sentences him to death, and is is done. The king cuts his heart out and serves it to his daughter on a plate. She dies of grief, and the lovers are buried in one tomb.

6: Conde Claros y la infanta huyen a Montalbán [Count Claros and the Princess Flee to Montalbán]. Claros sends the princess to Montalbán, and then tells the king that his daughter is pregnant but that he is going to marry her. The king calls for his arrest, but he rides for his life through Paris. Roldán and Oliveros pursue him, but let him get away. They then persuade the king to pardon Claros, who weds the princess.

7: Conde Claros fraile [Count Claros in Friar’s Garb]. Claros tells the king that his daughter is pregnant but that he intends to marry her. The king throws her in a dungeon with water up to her waist, and plans to burn her at the stake. She sends a letter by her page to Claros, who disguises himself as a friar to hear her confession at the stake. She confesses that Claros is the only man she has ever been with, and so Claros carries her off on his horse.

Four ballads of Count Claros were printed in the Siglo d’Oro, and they follow.

“Media noche era por filo,” Duran 362, Primavera 190. = Insomne + Infanta + Preso
Count Claros of Montalvan, Renaldo’s son, cannot sleep for love of the princess Claraniña. He finally tells her that he’s loved her seven years. They arrange a meeting in the garden, where they act as man and wife, but are surprised by a gardener, who refuses Claros’ offer of land and his sister’s hand in marriage if he keeps silent. The gardener tells Charlemagne, who kills him in a fit of rage, then arrests Claros. He summons his barons, and sentences Claros to death. Claros’ uncle the archbishop [unnamed] visits him in prison, to bring the sad news. Claros sends a message by the bishop’s page to Claraniña, who meets him at the scaffold. Claraniña falls down before her father and beseeches pardon, for the sake of Renaldo his father, who died in battle. She obtains it and marries Claros.

“A caza va el Emperador,” Primavera 191, Duran 364. = Emperador + Fraile
Charlemagne rides out hunting with Count Claros. Claros asks for Claraniña’s hand in marriage, since he has had her these six months. Charlemagne rides back to the city in a fury, throws his daughter in prison, and sentences her to be burnt. She writes a letter to Claros, who rides to the court like mad. He presents himself to Charlemagne disguised as a friar, and asks to hear her confession. Instead of so doing, however, he tries to kiss her, and the truth comes out. Claros tells Charles she is innocent, but a knight who loves her and is jealous of Claros accuses the supposed friar of lying. They duel. Charlemagne recognized Claros by the way he tighten his saddle straps. Claros kills the knight and then rides off with Claraniña.

“A misa va el Emperador,” Primavera 192. = Emperador + Insomne + Montalbán
The Emperor [unnamed] goes to Mass on St. John’s Day with Count Claros. Claros complains that the Moors have taken his castle of Montalban, which the king gave him. He threatens to turn Moor himself if the king does not succor him. The king promises him arms, and summons Oliveros, Montesinos, Roldan, Urgel [Ogier], and Merian to help him. Claros now asks for the king’s daughter in marriage, but he says she is promised to Don Beltran. Claros returns to his home, but cannot sleep that night for love of the princess. He calls his servants to dress him in fancy clothes, and he goes to the princess, and bids her flee to Montalban. He then goes to the king and explains that the princess is with child and that he is going to marry her. The king calls for his blood, but Claros flees through the streets of Paris. Oliveros and Roldan follow him, but he persuades them to let him go free. They return to the court and stall Don Beltran and the king. They persuade the king to pardon Claros, and the lovers are married.

“Durmiendo está el conde Claros,” by Antonio Pansac. Duran 363. = Insomne + Degollado
Count Claros cannot sleep for love of the princess, so he dresses in finery and goes to woo the princess [unnamed], and wins her favors without blessing from the altar. The king [unnamed] finds them, and has the count executed, and presents his heart to the princess on a golden plate. She dies of grief, and the king lays them both in one tomb.

 

Segment 1, Emperador, is still sung by the Sephardic Jews in Morocco as a prologue to Insomne. In Aragon, it is a prelude to Fraile. In different versions, the hero (Claros, Niño, Flores, Vélez) laments that his uncle the emperor’s gift to him of Montalvan has not made him rich, or simply that he has lost his money. Once he is confident that the emperor approves of him, he asks for Claraniña. Occasionally, among the Eastern Sephardim, Emperador stands alone. An uncle and nephew race their horses, then the nephew asks his uncle for Claraniña/Blancaniña as his wife. The uncle reminds him that he didn’t want her when he first offered her, and says she is now betrothed to the Count of Livorno. But, since the nephew is a strong knight, he could, hypothetically, win her back. The nephew says that his weapons are in pawn, so the uncle gives him money and fine cloths. He rides through the city streets, slowly when there are people, quickly when there are none. The women ask him why is trying to destroy their city, but he answers he is only looking for Claraniña. Most versions end here, but some make him rescue her from a tall tower where she is dining with her husband the Count.

Segment 2, Insomne, is sung in Morocco with Emperador, as we have said. In Castille, it is a prologue to Infanta + Fraile. In Portugal and Catalonia, it introduces Infanta + Preso. Armistead mentions that it is sung in Asturias, but does not say with what. Different versions expand or contract the description of the Count’s lavish and expensive clothing. In Morocco, at the end of Emperador, the emperor announces that Claros and Claraniña’s betrothed, the Count of Montalban, will duel for her hand the next day. After a sleepless night, Claros is armed (in a very long, elaborate description of his clothing) and rides through the streets, making sparks fly. The denouements vary widely. Claros wins the duel, or he stops outside Claraniña’s window to ask whom she loves best. She says “Count Albar,” and he faints. Luckily, she was only jesting, and she weds Claros the next day. Or, she really does love Count Albar better, and marries him. Or, after she makes her jest, Claros drops dead or rides away in madness. Claraniña, repentant too late, jumps from the window.

Segment 3, Infanta¸is sung with Fraile in Morocco and Castille, with Insomne and Preso in Catalonia, and with Insomne, Preso, and/or Fraile in Portugal. It also survives in fragments among the Gypsies of Andalusia. When it stands on its own or begins the ballad, it usually begins with a description of the princess leaving the palace, or coming home from the baths, though sometimes they simply meet in the garden. Various versions tone up or down how explicit the love-making is, and how willing the princess is. Usually the lovers try to bribe the hunter (sometimes a page, or squire, etc.) to keep silent, offering money, or the princess’ cousin in marriage. In Portugal, the hunter’s rejection of the bribes is because he was in love with Claraniña. The hunter’s execution is sometimes explained as being because he has brought dishonor on the king by telling his story in public.

Segment 4, Preso, is sung alone in León, and as a sequel to (Insomne +) Infanta in Asturias, Portugal, Brazil, Catalonia, and Argentina. Generally shorter than “Media noche era por filo”, but as far as I know changing the plot only by dropping such incidents as the prison visit, if at all. Two sections of Preso, from “Media noche era por filo” were extracted, expanded, and became popular songs in their own right. One, Pésame de vos, el conde, attributed Juan del Encina, expands the dialogue between Count Claros and the archbishop in prison. Another, Más envidia he de vos, conde, expands the dialogue between Claros and the bishop’s page. Both dwell on the idea that love does not deserve to be punished by death.

Segments 5 and 6 have not survived in oral tradition, if they were ever a part of it.

Segment 7, Fraile, is by far the most popular, sung in Morocco, Castile, Portugal, Catalonia, the Canaries, the Azores, Madeira and Brazil. Very rarely, it stands alone, and begins with the king asking his three daughters which one of them is pregnant, before sentencing the guilty one to burn. She then sends for a page to take the message, etc. Slightly less rarely, it is preceeded by Insomne + Infanta. Most commonly, however, it begins with verses taken from other ballads known as Aliarda y el alabancioso (also called Alabanza) and Infanta parida. This version is known as Lisarda, (the name generally given to the Princess). The hero has his way with the heroine, despite her protests (Alabanza). The next day, he boasts that he has slept with the most beautiful woman in the world. The king says that woman is his daughter (Parida). Then he has her imprisoned, she sends a message, etc. Still other versions run Insomne + Infanta + Alabanza + Parida + Fraile.

In “A caza va el Emperador”, the king throws his daughter in the waist-deep cold water to cause an abortion. This horrid detail was surpressed in all popular traditions, most of which tone down her imprisonment even further. The page (pajecito) who takes the message sometimes becomes a bird (pajarito), and from this, probably, an angel. Sometimes the hero’s mother suggests the friar disguise. His ride to the rescue covers a fortnight’s journey in a week. He usually speaks to his horse to encourage it, and sometimes the horse replies with advce to get him stronger shoes. In traditional versions, there is no duel, only the attempt to kiss her and the confession. They mount and ride away immediately from the scaffold, without waiting for the king’s pardon.

Some add ringing conclusions: the hero slays seven guards; the princess says that she will never hear the bells of her city again; the hero shouts that the king will never see them again. In others, the princess returns after seven years to rebuke her family for trying to burn her, or she sends her son or her twin children to do the same. In still other versions, the princess does not realize that the friar is her lover. Once they are safely away, he asks her why she weeps, and she tells him she would rather burn than be a friar’s mistress, whereupon he reveals himself.

Claraniña sometimes becomes Claralinda, or has her name changed completely, often to Galanzuca or Lizarda, but there are many other names for her. Sometimes she is given a brother named Rondale, i.e. Roland. Claros is sometimes replaced with Oliveros del Mar, or with Carlos Magnos. Other times he is simply known as Count of Montalban, or as Count Alvar. Due to the frequent changes of names, there are some localities where, for example, Infanta + Fraile and Emperador + Insomne are both sung, without any realization that they used to be connected.

Compare Fraile with Lady Maisry (Child 65), the German The King of Mailand, and the Hungarian The Dishonored Maiden.

The Legend of the Death of Malagise

The Legend of the Death of Malagise is to be found in two chansons de geste, both known as La Mort Maugis:

The N Version: MS, Bib. Nat. Fr. 766. C. 1300. French rhymed alexandrines, following Renaud de Montauban.

The B Version: London BM Royal 16 G II. Around 1450. French rhymed alexandrines, following a prose adaptation of Renaud de Montauban. Printed under the title “Renaut de Montauban, deuxième fragment rimé du manuscrit de Londres, British Library, Royal 16 G II (“B”). Édition critique par Philippe Verelst, Gent, Romanica Gandensia, 1988.”

MANUSCRIPT N: BIB. NAT. FR. 766 (NEMOURS)

Containing Maugis D’Aigremont, Renaud de Montauban, and La Mort Maugis.

Maugis, in his hermitage with Baiard, is praying for the Peers, when an angel tells him to go be shriven by Pope Simon, his cousin. The Pope makes him a Roman senator, but the others dislike him. Next morning, as the Pope says Mass, an angel leaves a letter on the altar, bidding the Pope send Maugis to Charles. The Pope gives Maugis a letter of his own, and Maugis arrives at Paris, disguises Baiard black, is almost recognized by his cousins, and reveals himself to Charles. The letter from the Pope bids Charles put Maugis to any ordeal whatsoever. Maugis emerges unscathed from boiling oil, pitch and lead, after which Charles showers him with honors. But then, a messenger arrives from Montauban: the Saracens are besieging it. Maugis, Alard, Guichard, Richard, Aymonet, Yonnet, Richard of Normandy, and others go to raise the siege. Begues the Arabian is slain, but Marsile routs the Christians. Alard, Guichard, Richard, Aymonet and Yonnet take refuge in a cave, while Richard of Normandy defends the entrance. He is forced to retreat, however, and Escorfaut lights a fire at the entrance, smothering the Aymonids. Maugis drives off the Pagans and buries his family. He then rides Baiard to Rome, where Simon dies. The Romans try to elect Maugis Pope in his place. He flees, however, and returns to his hermitage. Charlemagne, meanwhile, has a dream that an angel orders him to make war on the Spaniards. In the morning, Richard of Normandy arrives and tells him the sad news. Maugis dies in his hermitage in the forest of Ardennes, and Baiard still lives there, and can be heard neighing every feast of Saint John the Baptist.

MANUSCRIPT B: London BM Royal 16 G II.

Containing Renaud de Montauban in verse and prose, and La Mort Maugis in verse.

Maugis decides to go to Rome of his own accord. Maugis is made bishop, cardinal, and finally Pope, under the name of Innocent. He summons Charlemagne to be shriven, and Charles confesses his hatred of Maugis, who reveals himself, and the two are reconciled. Maugis resigns the Papacy, and returns to Charles’ court, until one day he, Alard, Richard, and Guichard are at a tournament in Naples [perhaps Nobles in Spain], where Ganelon lures them into a cave, lights a fire at the entrance, and smothers them.

THE ORIGINS OF THE LEGEND

Will be dealt with more fully under Maugis d’Aigremont and The Four Sons of Aymon. For now, let it suffice to note that Maugis is based on Adalgis, son of King Desiderius of Lombardy. The manner of Adalgis’ death is not known to history.

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 2: The Original Version

Renaud de Montauban, also called Les Quatre Filz Aymon, is the oldest (surviving) version of the adventures of Rinaldo and his family. It is an Old French chanson de geste in assonanced and rhymed alexandrines. There are at least two redactions of every part of the poem, but the eleven manuscripts switch from one redaction to the other with gay abandon, and no two MSS parallel each other’s switches exactly. They are listed here in roughly chronological order, followed by a summary of the story according to the oldest (surviving) MS.

D: Oxford Bodleian Douce 121. c. 1250. The oldest, though not in all respects a perfect representation of the original. Beginning missing down to the battle of Lohier’s and Bueves’ men. Contains only Renaud de Montauban. Printed by Jacques Thomas, under the title “Renaut de Montauban. Édition critique du manuscrit Douce”. Genève, Droz (Textes littéraires français, 371), 1989.

Z: Metz Municipale 192. 1250-1300. Contained only Renaud de Montauban. Ending lost, after Maugis’ departure from Montauban. Entire MS destroyed in the Second World War. Only portions were printed.

P: Cambridge, Peterhouse, 205. 1275-1300. Contains Maugis D’Aigremont and Renaud de Montauban. 

N: Paris Bib. Nat. fr. 766. circa 1300. Formerly known as C. Contains Maugis D’Aigremont, Renaud de Montauban, and La Mort Maugis.

O: Oxford Bodleian Laud misc. 637. 1333. Contains Renaud de Montauban and miscellaneous texts on various Kings of England.

C: Paris Bib. Nat. fr. 775. 1325 to 1350. Formerly known as B. Contains only Renaud de Montauban.

L: Paris Bib. Nat. fr. 24.387. Around 1300. Also known as La Valliere. Older sources mistakenly considered this the earliest manucript. Contains Renaud de Montauban and Li Romans de Sapience, which is a French verse translation of some parts of the Bible. Printed by Castets under the title “La chanson des quatre fils Aymon d’après le manuscrit La Vallière”. 1909.

M: Montpellier Fac. Medicine H. 247. Believed to be an abridgement of Z. 1350-1400.  Contains Doon de Mayence, Gaufrey, Ogier le Danois, Gui de Nanteuil, Maugis D’Aigremont (abridged) Vivien l’Amachour (probably abridged, but no other copies are known), and Renaud de Montauban (abridged, ending lost, stops in the middle of one of Renaud’s battles in the Holy Land.)

V: Venice St. Mark fr. XVI. 1390 to 1400. Contains only Renaud de Montauban, last few pages lost. Ends abruptly as Renaud and Maugis prepare to battle the Saracens in the Holy Land.

A: Paris, Arsenal 2990. Around 1400. Contains only Renaud de Montauban.

H: Oxford Hatton 59. Three fragments. The first and third are unprinted, I believe. The second begins with the counsel of Yon and his barons before Valcoleurs, and ends I know not where. It was printed by Waltur Erdmann under the title “Fragment II der Oxforder Renaut-Handschrift Hatton 59 : Die an den Verrat der Haimonskinder bei Valkulur sich anschliessenden Scenen”. The third begins I know not where and ends with the drowning of Baiard, claiming that the story ends there.

Arlima, at the time of writing, wrongly lists Paris Arsenal 3151 and 5071-5073 as verse, when they are really in prose.

There are also comparative editions, giving all the manuscripts of a certain passage.
Of the Ardennes episode: Jacques Thomas’ “L’épisode ardennais de Renaut de Montauban. Édition synoptique des versions rimées”. From the arrival of the Four Sons at court to their departure for Gascony.
Of the treason of Vaucoleurs: Antonella Negri: “L’episodio di Vaucouleurs nelle redazioni in versi del “Renaut de Montauban””. 1996. From Charles’ sending of a messenger to King Yon to the arrival of Maugis at the Rock and his healing of Richard.
Of the drowning of Baiard: Jaques Thomas’ “La Sortie de Bayard selon les Differents Manuscrits en Vers et en Prose” in Romanica Gandensia XVIII: Etudes sur “Renaut de Montauban”.
Comparative editions of the siege of Tremoigne, the Pilgrimage, and the Martyrdom exist as unpublished theses in the University of Ghent and will probably never see the light of day. Support copyright reform!

M is a vast collection of romances from the Geste de Doon de Mayence, and its copy of Les Quatre Fils Aymon stands apart from all the others by reason of its extreme abridgement. Since the other two Renaud romances in this manuscript, the Maugis d’Aigremont and the Vivien de Monbranc, are also highly abridged, it is generally assumed that the abridgement was the work of an impatient scribe and was not an independent tradition.

A SUMMARY OF THE  STORY ACCORDING TO DOUCE – THE OLDEST SURVIVING VERSION

MANUSCRIPT D: DOUCE

Containing only Renaut de Montauban.

There were four brothers: Girard of Roussillon, Doon of Nanteuil, Aymon of Dordonne, and Beuve of Aigremont. At Pentecost, Charlemagne summons to his court certain knights who had failed to help him in his war against the Saxon King Guitequin, where Baudoin died. One of these is Beuve of Aigremont. To him, therefore, the emperor sends his son Lohier as a messenger. Bueve and Lohier treat each other so insolently that a general melee breaks out in the city, and Lohier is slain. Beuve sends his corpse to Charles.

Meanwhile, Charles is fuming at court. Aymon offers his services to the king if war should break out, and Charles dubs Aymon’s sons Alard, Renaud, Guichard, and Richard knights. He gives Renaud the fairy horse Baiard (from Normandy), and the sword Froberge [Fusberta]. As they are tilting at the quintaine in the ensuing celebrations, the corpse of Lohier arrives. Charlemagne weeps, and Aymon and his sons quietly slip away to Dordonne.

Charlemagne sends Ogier as messenger to Bueve offering peace, but then sends Grifon de Hauteville and Foulques de Morrillon to ambush him on the road and kill him. It is done, and a few survivors escape to Aigremont, where Bueve’s son Maugis swears vengeance. Maugis goes to his uncles Girard and Doon, who lead their army into France, and are stopped at Troyes, where, after a battle with Charlemagne’s army, led by Richard of Normandy, they make peace. Charlemagne returns to Paris to celebrate, and among those assembled are Aymon, his children, and Maugis. Amidst the festivities, Renaud quarrels with the king’s nephew Bertholet over a game of chess. Bertholet strikes Renaud, who appeals to Charlemagne, who refuses to grant him justice, and so Renaut kills Bertholet with the chessboard. The Four Sons flee, Aymon disowns them, swears allegiance to Charles, and bars Dordonne against his sons, who flee to the forest of Ardennes, where they build a castle by the Meuse and name it Montessor.

Charlemagne lays siege to Montessor. At Naimes’ advice, he offers to raise the siege if the brothers will hand over Richard to be executed. They refuse, and begin to wait out the siege. At last, Renaud decides to sortie. Renaud fights Aymon, Charlemagne’s army retreats, and Renaud’s men return to Montessor with plunder. As winter draws nigh, Charles sends a traitor to Montessor to pretend to be a disaffected vassal of his. The traitor is warmly received, but opens the gates that night. The Four Sons must flee. They hide in the Forest of Arden. Charles returns home, as does Aymon. On his way to Dordonne, his sons approach him, but he is accompanied by one of Charles’ men, and so defies them. In the ensuing battle, all Renaud’s men save the brothers are slain. Aymon rides to Charles for reinforcements, is rebuffed, and returns to Dordonne. The brothers live in poverty in Arden, robbing passers-by. They barely survive the winter.

In spring they go as beggars to Dordonne, where they reveal themselves to their mother. Aymon, due to his oath, cannot give them supplies, but allows them to take as much as they need. Maugis arrives with treasure stolen from Charlemagne in Orleans, and the five head south.

In Gascony, the brethren take service with King Yon, and defeat for him an invading Saracen king named Begue. King Yon, in gratitude, gives them permission to build a castle not far from Dordogne, which they name Montauban. He also gives his sister Clarice to Renaud in marriage, and the happy couple have two sons, Aymonet and Yonnet.

But no happiness can last. Charlemagne, returning from a pilgrimage to Saint James, passes by Montauban, and is furious to learn that the Four Sons are alive and well. Charlemagne orders Yon to hand them over, and when he refuses, swears to return with all his army. First, however, he must defeat the Saxons, who are besieging Cologne. He sends his nephew Roland, who has just come to court for the first time and is looking to prove himself. Roland returns with glory, and Charles announces he will offer his crown as the prize of a horse race, with the intent to buy the winning horse for Roland. He sets Ogier, Naimes, and Fouques of Morillon to guard the south road, lest Renaud come. Maugis disguises Renaud and Baiard by magic, and Renaud pretends to be a Breton who speaks no French. The Peers do not recognize them, but their host does, and starts to run for Charlemagne, but Renaud kills him. He then wins the race, reveals himself, mocks Charles, and flees with his crown.

[Around here the poem changes from rhyme to assonance]

Charles comes into Gascony, and makes his headquarters at Monbendel, whence he sends messengers to Yon to plot treason. Yon is at first angry enough to try to hang the messenger, but his barons calm him and persuade him to hold a counsel. They overrule him and oblige him to agree to the treason. Yon tells the brethren that he has achieved peace with Charlemagne. The brethren are to wear red robes send by Charles and meet him unarmed in the field of Vaucoleurs. They do so, and Charles’ men fall on them. In the fight, they kill Foulques of Morillon, and then flee to the top of a rock, which is so constituted that the four of them can hold it against thousands. Ogier the Dane, however, the commander of Charles’ men, is cousin to the Sons and does not particularly wish to fight them. He sends a detachment to Montauban, ostensibly to capture Maugis, but really to alert him. Maugis arrives on Baiard, cures the wounds of his cousins, and they all escape. Yon, terrified, flees to a monastery, but Roland, who detests traitors, drags him therefrom, intending to hang him outside Montauban, which Charles is now besieging. Renaud’s brothers persuade him to rescue the King, and they do so. Renaud fights Roland in single combat, but the melee soon becomes general, and the Gascons retreat to the castle, not realizing Richard has been captured. When they do realize it, Maugis disguises himself as a pilgrim and sets out for Charlemagne’s camp, pretending to have been robbed by Maugis. He fools Charles and begins spying, and sees Roland arrive with his prisoner Richard. Maugis returns to Montauban with the news

Charlemagne wishes to hang Richard, but none of his barons are willing to carry out the execution, except Ripeus of Ripemont. Richard’s brothers lead their army and rescue him at the very foot of the gallows, slaying Ripeus despite his pleas for mercy. Richard dons Ripeus’ armor and goes to Charles’ camp, where he reveals himself to Ogier and Charles. Charles starts a fight, but Renaud comes to his brothers aid. He offers to hand over Montalban and Baiard to Charles, and go to the Holy Land with Maugis, but Charlemagne refuses. In the ensuing battle, Renaud trashes Charlemagne’s pavilion and steals the golden eagle that was on top of it. They return to Montalban, failing to realize that Maugis has been captured by Oliver. Charles wishes to hang Maugis at once, but Maugis persuades the Peers to stand as his securities until dawn. Maugis eats dinner at Charles’ table with a hearty appetite. Charles is too nervous to eat. At midnight, Maugis puts a spell on his guards, Charles, and the Paladins, breaks his chains, steals the royal crown and the swords of the Peers, awakens Charles to mock him, and flees to Montauban. An attempt at negotiation breaks down, even though Charles’ Peers are thoroughly sick of the war, and Roland, Ogier and Naimes actually go to Montauban and are received hospitably by Renaud. Charles continues the siege, and one night Maugis slips into Charles’ camp, puts him to sleep, and carries him off to Montauban, whence he (Maugis) departs in pilgrim’s clothes. He finds an abandoned hermitage near the Dordogne, where hs takes up residence.

[The poem changes from assonance to rhyme as Maugis is leaving]

In the morning, Richard wishes to hang Charles, but Renaud wishes to make peace, and lets Charles go. Charles, however, will not make peace until Maugis is dead and does not believe that Renaud has no idea where he is. Nonetheless, Renaud lets him go, and he resumes the siege, which lasts until the Four Sons are on the verge of starvation. They eat all the horses except Baiard. Aymon obtains permission to oversee Charles’ catapults and begins throwing his sons food. Charles finds out, puts a stop to it, and the Four Sons, Baiard, Yon, Clarice, Yonnet and Aymonet are soon the only ones left alive. Renaud cannot bring himself to kill Baiard, but he is obliged to bleed him. At last they flee by a secret passage and make their way to Dortmund, across the Rhine. The bells ring by themselves at Renaud’s arrival.

Charlemagne has taken Montauban, meanwhile, and is furious to find he has been tricked. He is implacable, and follows them to Dortmund to begin a third siege. Renaud offers to surrender, but Charles demands Maugis, who is not there. Maugis is at his hermitage, but worries about his cousins and goes to succor them at Montauban. Learning his error, he comes to Tremoigne. He passes through Charlemagne’s camp disguised as a pilgrim, and enters the city. The next day, Alard captures Charlemagne’s baron Richard of Normandy in battle. That night, Maugis goes to Charlemagne’s camp and captures his son Charlot by magic. He leaves him in Tremoigne and then departs for the Holy Land. Renaud prepares to hang the captives, whereupon Charlemagne is forced by his barons to agree to peace. Baiard will be surrendered to him, Renaud and Maugis will go on pilgrimage, and the other three brothers will be honored at court. Yon retires to a monastery, where he dies. Charlemagne throws Baiard into the Rhine, but the horse breaks its bonds, swims to safety, and flees. He will eventually find Maugis in Valfondee. Renaud leaves his sons in the care of Ogier, Tremoigne in the hands of Clarisse, and Montauban to his brethren, and departs.

He meets up with Maugis in Acre [Baiard is specifically stated to be absent.]. Maugis and Renaud help Geoffrey of Nazareth repel the Sultan of Persia, who is invading Jerusalem. They turn down the offer of the throne and return home. Maugis retires to a hermitage in the wilderness, and Renaud goes to court, where he learns that Clarisse is dead. Aymonet and Yonnet fight a duel against the sons of Foulques of Morillon, and win. Renaud’s brothers return to Montauban, and Renaud wanders for a time in the forest, occasionally staying at a monastery, until he comes to Cologne, where he offers his services to the masons who are building the Church of Saint Peter. Renaud lifts a stone which four other men cannot carry, does more work than ten other men can do, and only accepts enough wages as will buy him bread to eat and straw to sleep on. This goes on for some time, until the other masons, growing jealous, kill him and throw his body into the Rhine. But all the fish of the river hold the body up, and at nightfall torches appear around it and angels begin to sing. The murderers confess and are pardoned, and the archbishop goes to fetch the body, brings it into Saint Peter’s, and sings Mass over it. After the Mass, Renaud’s body is miraculously carried out of the church and into a cart, which travels of its own accord from Cologne to Tremoigne, where the bells sound on their own. His brothers arrive and weep over his body. God works many miracles at his tomb [they are not specified].

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 1 – Overview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A hypothetical lost Italian poem, perhaps Franco-Italian.

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

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

Rinaldo, by Torquato Tasso. In ottava rima. Translated into English couplets by John Hoole.

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

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

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

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

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

Book I, Canto VII, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VII, Stanzas 61-72

61
“Of Baiard, I have made Gradass a present,
And we have made full reconciliation.
I’ll be his jester and amuse all present,
Thanks to Don Ganelone’s commendation;
I know that he will find these tidings pleasant.
For ev’ry man of you I’ve found a station.
Gradasso’s butler will be Charlemagne,
His carver Olivier, his cook the Dane.

62
“I told him Ganelone of Magance
Was a strong man; his heart was stout and good.
He ordered that a man of such puissance
Should fetch for him his water and his wood.
The rest of you back biters shall commence
To serve these other lords, and if you should
Follow my trade with diligence, you may
Be as esteemed as I am now, some day.”

63
Astolfo speaks without a laugh or smile,
And ev’rybody thinks his words are sooth.
Now is new misery on Charles piled.
Well might his paladins deserve your ruth.
Now Bishop Turpin speaks, “Ah, miscreant vile!
Hast thou forsaken Mother Church’s truth?
Astolfo says, “Sir Priest, depend upon it,
I have forsaken Christ and serve Mahomet.”

64
The French, astonished, turn as pale as death.
Some sigh, and some lament, and others weeps.
But now Astolfo wearies of his jest.
He throws himself at Emp’ror Charles’ feet.
“My lord, you are at liberty,” he says,
“And if I woke your wrath by my deceit,
For God’s sake, and for pity, pardon me,
For while I live, I shall your servant be.

65
“But mark my words! I swear thee by no means
Will I unto your court come ever back
Where Ganelone and his kinsmen dwell
Who know full well to change what’s white to black.
Unto your hands I trust all my demesnes,
For at the break of dawn I’ll start my trek
And won’t return, though I should freeze or scald,
Till I have found Orlando and Rinald.”

66
Nobody knows if he speaks truth or jests.
They sit and stare and try to read his face,
Until Gradasso, worthy lord, requests
Them all to rise up and be on their way.
Ganelon mounts his horse the speediest,
But Don Astolfo sees, and grabs his reins,
And says, “Halt, knight. You leave not by my will.
The rest are free, but you are pris’ner still.”

67
“Whose prisoner?” Count Ganelon demands.
“Astolf of England,” cometh his reply.
Gradasso makes the Christians understand
The terms Astolf and he abided by.
Astolfo leads Count Gano by the hand
Before King Charles, kneels, then meets his eye
And thus addresses him, “Your Majesty,
For love of you, I’ll set this caitiff free.

68
“But only on these terms and this condition:
That you will clasp his hands and have him swear
To spend four days confined within a prison
When I command. I shall choose when and where.
But above all, I seek for your permission
(For he’s accustomed to treat oaths like air
Towards the Paladins, and to your Crown)
To have his person well and firmly bound.”

69
King Charles says, “I will it to be so.”
Immediately they swear the oaths he seeks.
To Paris now the knights in triumph go.
Of nothing but Astolfo do they speak.
They throng around him, and their praises flow.
Some hug him tightly, others kiss his cheek.
For his great victory they weave him laurels.
He’s saved the Christian Faith and Emp’ror Charles.

70
The king tries ev’ry art to make him stay.
He offers all of Ireland in fee,
But he’s determined to be on his way
To find where Rinald and Orlando be.
I’ll leave him now, as he pursues his way,
And later I’ll resume his history.
That very night, just ere the break of dawn,
Gradasso and the Saracens are gone.

71
They come to Spain, where Marsil and his men
And all his barons go back to their homes.
Gradasso’s soldiers board their ships again,
A fleet so large, its numbers can’t be known.
I think my labors will be better spent
Than telling how the Saracens were blown
Through lands where Negroes swelter ‘neath the sun,
In telling you what Don Rinaldo’s done.

72
I’ll tell you all about his marvelous
Adventures, and his high and lofty quest,
Full of rejoicing, yet so perilous
That never was the hero so hard-pressed
But danger and misfortune as in this,
But ere I sing some more, I wish to rest,
And my coming canto I will show
Marvelous things of joyfulness and woe.

Notes

Notes to the Seventh Canto, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VII, Stanzas 61-72 Notes

61. Boiardo actually writes that Oliver will be the cook and Ogier the carver [the servant who carves meat at table and serves it to the lords]. I have switched them for the sake of the meter.
68. Clasp his hands. Oaths of fealty were sworn by having the vassal kneel before his lord and clasp his hands together, while the lord stood and put his own hands around his vassal’s. The modern western posture of prayer arose from this custom, as a sign of offering fealty to God.

Bevis of Hampton 8: Origins, Legacy, and Notes

THE ORIGINS OF THE BEVIS LEGEND

The origin of the story would seem to be a combination of the theme of the long-lost wife arriving just in time to prevent her husband’s wedding (as in Lord Bateman, Child 53), with the theme of the long-lost husband arriving just in time to prevent his wife’s wedding (as in Hind Horn, Child 17; the Noble Moringer; Count Dirlos, etc.) While the relationships within families are clear, it is uncertain whether the original form was the more compact Italian, which was expanded and loosened by the French, or whether the original form was the more sprawling French, which was tightened up by the Italians. Daurel et Beton is not a sequel to Bevis; although it does feature a Bevis of Antona, his story has nothing in common with our Bevis’.

From an structural standpoint, the Italian version clearly has the best plot of the three. But if one takes the view that a plot is of no use except to string pretty things on, I do not think it is mere prejudice that makes me plump for the English version, with little Sir Bevis striking down Sir Murdour, his defence of the Faith he barely knows against the mocking Pagans, his fight against the dragons in the dungeon, the comic baptism of Ascopart, the dreadful dragon of Cologne which Spencer thought good enough to copy in his Faerie Queene, the fighting in the streets of London, and the death and burial together of Bevis, Josiane, and Arundel, who was so like a human that the monks prayed for his soul.

LATER TREATMENTS OF THE BEVIS LEGEND

The Romanian version, O mie si una de zile, (A Thousand and One Days) sometimes mentioned, was a translation from the Yiddish made by M. Aziel in 1881, and thus falls outside our time period.

The English version of Bevis’ fight against the dragon was lifted by Spenser for his Fairie Queene, and by Richard Johnson for his Seven Champions of Christendom. Michael Drayton summarized the story as part of his Polyolbion, Song II lines 259-380. Drayton lamented in his notes that the monks had expanded the history of Bevis beyond all probability, so that his true deeds were lost. He also notes that Bevis’ sword [Murgley. Alondite is not mentioned by Drayton] is preserved in Arundel Castle, and that it is shorter than that of Edward III in Westminster.

Sir Bevis appears in Saint George for England, a catalogue of the heroes of chivalry, printed 1612, to be found in Percy’s Reliques, IX, 14.

“Bevis conquered Ascapart, and after slew the boare,
And then he crost beyond the seas to combat with the Moore;”

The reader will recall that Bevis actually conquered Ascopart well after the boar. This is not evidence of a divergent tradition; Saint George is merely a long list of names and half-remembered incidents.

Bevis of Hampton and Guy of Warwick were two of the most popular stories of chivalry in England, probably because the two of them were English. They are frequently mentioned together by poets and sermonizers, as typical romances of chivalry.

Bevis continued to be printed, in rhyme, ever more modernized, up to the 1660’s, and in prose until 1780. There was also an expanded prose version, perhaps by John Shurley, titled The Famous and Renowned History of Sir Bevis of Southampton, printed in 1689. This adds a further adventure of Bevis. Upon returning to Mambrant where the traditional version ends, he is not suffered to live in peace with Josiane, but must repel first Ambrant, the old king’s cousin, then Sultan Saracon of Babylon, whom he pursues to his city. As he besieges it, one of his knights, Sir Miles, slips in, wins the love of the Sultan’s daugher Rosalinda, and through her persuades the Sultan to convert and make peace. After this war, Bevis grows old and dies, and is buried with Josiane.

Shurley’s version was reprinted 1775, under the title of The history of the Famous and Extraordinary Sir Bevis of Southampton. This title is not on the internet, and I cannot say how closely it follows its source.

Nineteenth century retellers all went back to the manuscripts or the earliest printed editions, and so the chapbook tradition died out.

George Ellis included the story of Bevis in his Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances, in which he treated it with his usual snide remarks and insufferable Whiggish sense of superiority to all those who were foolish enough to live before the reign of Queen Anne or outside of London.

William Thoms, under the pen name of Ambrose Merton, retold Bevis and other tales in Gammer Gurton’s Famous Histories. Thoms’ Early Prose Romances, an accurate reprinting of chapbooks for non-scholarly adults, still makes good reading. His children’s retellings of them, however, leave something to be desired.

The version by John Ashton, in his Romances of Chivalry, is simply a summary of the English version, with a  few extracts, much like Ellis, only without the snide comments.

Bevis of Hampton, in Andrew Lang’s The Red Romance Book, was a much better retelling, though, like Thoms he cuts the story short with Bevis’ return to Southampton, and (unlike Thoms) inexplicably omits the famous fight against the dragon in Cologne.

BEVIS AND KING ARTHUR

In the Italian I Reali di Francia, Buovo d’Antona receives, while he is in Armenia, the sword Chiarenza (Clarence), which once belonged to Sir Lancelot of the Lake, but was brought to Armenia by English knights. In the Second Italian Redaction, it was the sword of Galasso [Galahad, Lancelot’s son]. The Version of 1480 calls it Chiarente, but gives no backstory. The English version usually follows the French in calling Bevis’ sword Murgleys, but one manuscript claims (only in his fight against the dragon in Cologne. Elsewhere it’s still Murgleys) that his sword was Alondite, which used to belong to Lancelot of the Lake. This is the only place Alondite is mentioned in any surviving medieval text. Now Malory ends his Le Morte d’Arthur as follows:

“Then Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Gahalantine, Sir Galihud, Sir Galihodin, Sir Blamore, Sir Bleoberis, Sir Villiars le Valiant, Sir Clarrus of Clermont, all these knights drew them to their countries. Howbeit King Constantine would have had them with him, but they would not abide in this realm. And there they all lived in their countries as holy men. And some English books make mention that they went never out of England after the death of Sir Launcelot, but that was but favour of makers. For the French book maketh mention, and is authorised, that Sir Bors, Sir Ector, Sir Blamore, and Sir Bleoberis, went into the Holy Land thereas Jesu Christ was quick and dead, and anon as they had stablished their lands. For the book saith, so Sir Launcelot commanded them for to do, or ever he passed out of this world. And these four knights did many battles upon the miscreants or Turks. And there they died upon a Good Friday for God’s sake.”

This passage corresponds to nothing in the Vulgate Morte le Roi Artu, which was Malory’s main source for this part of the story, or in the Middle English Alliterative Mort Arthur or Stanzaic Morte Arthur, which were his secondary ones. Thus most commentators have assumed Malory invented this passage, but the Reali, written a good century before Malory, would suggest otherwise. Perhaps we have here the only surviving witnesses to an otherwise lost tradition? The only other reference to Arthur in the Reali is a slighting one, blaming him for not converting any countries to Christianity, suggesting that Andrea was not likely to pick a knight of the Round Table to glorify his hero. The name “Clarence” also has an Arthurian connection: it is King Arthur’s battle cry in the Vulgate Cycle. Was there a tradition before Malory that some Knights of the Round Table went to the Holy Land with Lancelot’s sword? Or is this all just a bizarre coincidence? We may never know.

OTHER NOTES ON SWORDS

Alondite, never mentioned outside of one part of one manuscript Bevis of Hampton, nonetheless found its way into standard reference works as the sword of Lancelot, and hence its name is used frequently in fantasy games. Morglay, Bevis’ actual sword, is not quite as popular, though it does appear from time to time. Other swords named Morgleis are wielded by Ganelon in the Song of Roland and in Father Konrad’s Rolandslied, (where it was made by the smith Madelger of Regensburg) by Elias the Swan Knight Le Beatrix, and by King Cornumarant of Jerusalem in La Chanson de Jerusalem, who loses it to Baudouin of Sebourc, who hands it down to the Bastard of Bouillon, in Baudoin de Sebourc and Le Batard de Bouillon. It is not clear whether any of these swords are meant to be identical.

Bevis of Hampton 7: The Third and Fourth Italian Redactions.

For a summary of the Italian version of Bevis of Hampton, see this post.

THE THIRD ITALIAN REDACTION

After Buovo’s banishment due to the horse race, the story follows the Third French redaction for his family’s separation and adventures in the East.

BUOVO RICCARDIANO

Ottava rima. Survives in one fragmentary manuscript in the Riccardian library in Florence, 2820.

Runs from the beginning to Buovo’s capture by Sultan Baldragi. Chiaragia, Buovo’s maid, helps him escape, and is executed for it. Buovo is sent to Baldragi under the pretense that he will be trying to convert him.

BUOVO DI GHERARDO

Ottava rima. Surviving in only one fragmentary manuscript. The poem was in three books. We have Book 2 complete, and no trace of the others, except Buovo Riccardiano. MS: BNCF Magl. VII, 1202.

The story picks up with the recovery of Antona. Terigi is not at the recovery of Antona. Buovo pretends to be Merlino, a herald of Brandoia’s father, to gain admittance to the city. His assistant is instead the brother of Chiaragia, the maid who helped him escape and was executed for it. After the banishment of Buovo for the death of the Prince of England, all follows the Third French redaction, until the MS breaks off, just before the reunion of Buovo and Drusiana in Asinella [Seville].

A very learned version, filled with quotes from the Church Fathers and the classics, and much given to expanding the roles of middle-class characters, particularly merchants and innkeepers. Sometimes, I am told, too prolix, but filled with many excellent scenes.

THE FOURTH ITALIAN REDACTION

BOVO D’ANTONA – the version of 1497

Adds an episode, probably based on Il Morgante Maggiore, in which Pulicane despoils a monastery to find food and clothing for Drusiana’s infants. After strong competition with the version of 1480, this became the standard Italian version in verse.

BOVO-BUCH

Arminio is ruler of Armenia, a city in Flanders[!] Bovo’s sword is Pomele. Pelukan’s robbing of the monastery is included. Bovo, disguised as a doctor, does not bother expelling Dodon, but reveals himself and cuts him to pieces. After Bovo gives Margarete to Teyrets and returns to Antona with Druzeyne, the author announces that he will not tell in full about his many other battles, such as how he saved his father-in-law from the invading Markabrun. Markabrun was killed, and Arminio died soon after. Thus Bovo had three kingdoms, one for him and one for each of his sons.

Elia Levita had many talents, but fiction was not one of them. His version is poorly written, poorly paced, and hopelessly vulgarized [Brandonia’s messenger fouls himself for fear of her anger; Druzhvena strips to try to seduce Bovo, etc.]. Its latest translator frankly admits that the only reason the poem is interesting is because it is in Yiddish. The characters are all made into good Jews. Druzhvena’s first act upon returning to safety is to have her sons circumcised instead of baptized; Bovo locks his mother up until the next Jubilee year, etc. The poem was very popular among the Ashkenazi Jews. Rabbis warned that it was a frivolous pack of lies, and were ignored. “Bovo-Bukh” for several centuries was the Yiddish word for “Ottava Rima”, and any poem so written, even popular explanations of theology, were advertised as being in “Bovo-Bukh style”. Prose versions of Levita’s story continued to be sold as chapbooks up until the 1900’s, though they toned down the anti-Christian passages.

UNKNOWN REDACTION 

CELINOS AND THE ADULTERESS

A Spanish ballad, now found only among the Sephardic Jews.

The Queen combs her hair before a mirror, praises God for making her so beautiful, and curses her parents for making her marry an old man. As she looks out the window, she sees Carleto, her lover. They plan to kill the king. He tells her to pretend to be pregnant and to have a craving for a stag/pig/ram/goat that lives in a certain part of the woods. She does so, and the king orders his men to prepare for the hunt. She tries to convince him to go alone, but he will have none of it. He meets Carleto, and one of them kills the other. In a few versions, the king dies, but usually he wins and sticks Carleto’s head on a lance, which he presents to the queen. She confesses that most of her children are Carleto’s, and/or threatens that his relatives will avenge him. The king cuts her head off, and sticks it beside her lover’s.

The Legend of Bevis of Hampton, 6: The Second Italian Redaction

For a summary of the Italian version of Bevis of Hampton, see this post.

THE SECOND ITALIAN REDACTION

Distinguished by, among other things, omitting the horse race, and passing straight from the recovery of Hampton to the death of Buovo.

THE ITALIAN CHANSON

Survives in two fragments. Both are in rhymed decasyllables.

1: Buovo Udinese: Ms. Archivo Capitolare di Udine.

2: Buovo Laurenziano. Ms. Laurenziano Palatino 93.

Blondoia, the old Guidone’s young wife, laments her beauty, and sends her servant Ricciardo to Dodone de Maganza, telling Dodone the whole plot. Guidone is sent out to the hunt, and slain. Bovolin hides in the stables, where his tutor Sinibaldo finds him, and flees with him to San Simone, his castle. Ricciardo sees this, however, and tellls Dodone, who pursues him, and recoves Bovo, though Sinibaldo escapes. Dodone besieges San Simone, and dreams that Bovo will kill him. He sends his brother Albrigo to Blondoia, bidding her kill the boy. She sends him poisoned bread, but the maid warns him and helps him flee. Bovo gets lost trying to find San Simone, winds up on the seashore, and is taken by sailors who selll him to King Arminione of Armenia. For four years he serves there, until the king holds a tournament. King Marcobruno is favored to win, but Buovo “borrows” armor and a lance, overthrows Marcobrun and slips away. Drusiana alone recognizes him and kisses him against his will. But then, the Sultan of Sadonia and his giant son Lucafero arrive to conquere Drusiana. They capture Arminione and Marcabruno, and so Drusiana gives Bovo Chiraenza, the sword of Galassso [Galahad]; the magic horse Rondello; and a parting kiss, which is seen by Arminione’s brother Ugolino. Bovo saves the day, kills Lucafero, drives away the Sultan, and saves the kings. Drusiana wishes to marry him, but Ugolino has his servant impersonate the king (supposedly lying wounded in bed, in th dark) and send Bovo to Lucafero with a “kill-the-bearer” letter. Bovo’s sword is stolen from him on the road by a palmer. He nonetheless comes to Sadonia, is imprisoned, and has the king’s daughter Malgaria fall in love with him. She gives him good food, until a year and three months later when he escapes. Wandering about, he finds the thief, and recovers his sword. To save his life, the thief gives him a magic [?] herb which changes his complexion. In this disguise, he comes to Apolonia, where Drusiana has been wed to Marcabruno. He is recognized first by Rondello, then by Drusiana. The lovers drug Marcabruno and flee. They exchange love’s final gift by a fountain, shortly after which they are found by Pulicane, half-dog and half-man. He and Bovo fight, but are reconciled. The three come to the castle of Duke Orio, rebel to Marcabruno. Orio is taken prisoner, but is granted freedom on condition he betray his guests. They flee, however, thanks to Pulicane. In the woods, Drusiana has two sons, Guidone and Sinibaldo. As Bovo is looking for food, two lions attack his wife and Pulicane. Pulicane and the lions die, and Drusiana flees with the children. She finds a ship which carries her to Armenia. Bovo returns to find Pulicane’s dead body, and assumes Drusiana is dead. Wandering alone, he meets a troop of Sinibaldo’s knights, who are seeking him. He conceals his identity, but travels with them back to England, where the war is still going on. He kills Alberico, and is recognized by Sinibaldo’s wife, due to the mark on his shoulder. Bovo and Terigi, Sinibaldo’s son, disguise themselves as doctors to enter Antona, rally the citizens, and expel Dodone. Brandoia is set to do penance, and Dodone goes to Pepin for help. [Somewhat is lost here]. Bovo kills Dodone, and peace is made.

Bovo soon hears from Malgaria that her father is dead, and that King Passamonte of Hungary is besieging her. Bovo goes to Sadonia, kills Passamonte, wins the war, and marries Malgaria. Drusiana arrives at the wedding as a minstrel, however, with her sons, and reveals herself. Malgaria is wed to Terigi.

 

BOVO IN OCTAVES – The Version printed in 1480

As above, with some changes, mostly to add comedy and drama. Jolly courtiers find the drugged Marcabruno in the morning, expecting to congratulate him on his recent wedding. Rondello takes part in the fight against Pelucane. There is more dialogue throughout. After the wedding of Malgaria and Terigi, Bovo and his family return to Hampton. [There is some suspicion that the original ended here, and that what follows was a later addition]. Bovo’s son Guidone has a son, Bernardo of Grismonte [Aigremont], who has seven sons: Ottone, father of Astolfo; Melone, father of Orlando; Amone, father of Rainaldo, Ricardo, Rizardetto, and Alaro [sic]; Dudone, father of Otone and Berlingeri; Ansuisi, father of Malgarise; Leon, [the one who becomes Pope]; and Girardo. Sinibaldo, Bovo’s other son, begets Guarmon [Garin of Monglan], who has four sons: Mira, father of Milior; Rainaldo, father of Merigo the fay [Aymeri of Narbonne]; Ghirardo; and Rainero, father of Olivero. When Bovo returns to Antona, he sends messengers to Tedrise [Terry] letting him know he made it home safe, and to Erminio, telling him of his daughter’s safety. Erminio dies, leaving Armenia to Guidone. It is in Armenia that Bernardo, here called Bovo, is born. Sinibaldo dies, and four years later Drusiana does, too. Bovo mourns but lives for another fifteen years. Rainaldo of Maganza, ancestor [father?] of Ganelon, however, orders his vassal Gualtier to kill Bovo. Gualtier goes to Maganza, worms his way into Bovo’s favor, and once his trust is thoroughly gained, on a Tuesday in May, stabs Bovo in the back while he’s praying in a church. The citizens seize him and imprison him, and young Sinibaldo, Guidone, and Tedrise besiege and sack Maganza. [Later reprintings give a longer description of the siege, but in a very bombastic style, certainly not by the original author.] The end.

BOVA KAROLEVICH

A full account of the Russian versions would be impossible. The story exists in five major redactions, not counting the chapbooks, besides innumerable folktales and ballads, and has spread in folklore to several of Russia’s neighbors. The general plot is always the same, though, ending with the reunion of Bova and his family, and never including the horse-race or the death of Bova. Bova was so popular that he was often mentioned in the same breath as native Russian heroes like Ilya Muromets (though, as far as I know, there are no stories in which Bova meets the old bogatyrs). The English reader may consult Robert Steele’s Russian Garland for a fairly typical version, which we summarize below.

King Guidon of Anton marries Militrisa [from the Italian meretrice: whore] Kirbitovna, of Dimichtian, daughter of King Kirbit Versoulovich, although she loves Tsar Dadon. The maid Chernavka sets him Prince Bova free, and he pretends to the sailors that he is Anhusei, the son of a washerwoman. They come to Armenia, ruled by King Sensibri Andronovich. The princess Drushnevna drops a fork and makes Bova pick it up, and kisses him under the table, after which Bova sleeps three days. When he wakes up, he goes into the fields and makes a garland. Drushnevna asks him to give it to her, but he refuses and leaves the room, slamming the door so hard that a stone falls and knocks him out. Drushnevna cures him, after which he sleeps five days. While he sleeps, Marcobrun arrives and threatens to make war if he is not given Drushnevna. Sensibri agrees, and the knights hold a tournament. Bova awakens, and wishes to join in, but Drushnevna laughs and says he is too young to be a knight. So Bova goes to watch, riding a broom. When the knights laugh at him, he kills them all with it. Then he sleeps for nine nights. Meanwhile, the giant Tsar Lukoper arrives and demands Drushnevna, threatening war otherwise. In the ensuing war, he captures Sensibri and Marcobrun, and sends them to his father Saltan Saltanovich. Bova awakens, learns what has happened, and reveals his identity to Drushnevna. She gives him a mighty horse who has been locked behind twelve iron gates, and kisses him farewell. Orlop, the royal chamberlain, objects to this, so Bova knocks him down. He then kills Lukoper, scares Saltan away, and rescues the kings.

Bova sleeps another nine nights after the rescue, and Sensibri and Marcobrun ride out for a three-day hunting trip. While they are gone, Orlop gathers thirty men to kill Bova, but they are afraid, and one suggests that Orlop lie in bed, pretend to be the king, and send Bova to Saltan Saltanovich with a death-letter. Bova rides for two months, until he meets a pilgrim in the desert. The pilgrim drugs him, and steals his horse and sword. Ten days later, Bova wakes up, and continues his journey. Sensibri, upon reading the letter, has sixty of his knights sieze Bova and hang him. Once they get him out into the field, Bova rouses himself, kills them all, and flees. Tsar Saltan summons a hundred thousand knights, who are able to subdue Bova. As he is about to be hanged, Saltan’s daughter, Miliheria, begs for his life. She will try to convert him, and then they shall be wed. Saltan agrees, and Bova is put in prison with no food for five days. Miliheria comes to see him, but he will not convert, so she tells her father to kill him. The Tsar sends thirty knights to kill Bova, but Miliheria in her anger has heaped so much sand in front of the door that it will be easier to make a hole in the roof. Bova, luckily, finds a sword in prison, and kills them one by one as they enter. He does the same to a second thirty, then flees to the coast. Merchants take him on board, but Saltan arrives and orders them to hand him over. They hesitate, so Bova kills a few of them, and the rest take him away. Three months later, they come to the Sadonic kingdom, where Marcobrun is about to wed Drushnevna. Bova meets the pilgrim who robbed him. The pilgrim returns his goods, and also gives him three magic powders: one to look old, one to look young again, and one to cause sleep for nine days. Bova makes himself look old, and goes to the king’s castle as a beggar. It is illegal to mention Bova’s name in this country, and a cook beats Bova for so doing. Bova kills him, but the seneschal restores peace and sends him to the other beggars. He tells Drushnevna that he was in prison with Bova, who is somewhere near the kingdom. Drushnevna weeps, and tells Marcobrun it is because her father is dying. Meanwhile, Bova goes to the stables, where his steed is fastened with twelve chains. The horse breaks them, and shows affection to Bova. Drushnevna asks how this can be, and Bova reveals his identity. She does not believe him, so he makes himself young again. They drug Marcobrun and flee. After four days, they rest. Bova slays three hundred thousand men whom Marcobrun sent after them, so Marcobrun sends Polkan, who is a centaur who has been imprisoned for years and can leap seven versts (four and a half miles) at once. Bova defeats Polkan, and they swear brotherhood. The threesome come to the city of Kostel, ruled by Tsar Uril, which Marcobrun besieges. Marcobrun captures Uril and his sons, and releases him on condition he betray his guests. Uril’s wife refuses to consent to the treason, so Uril beats her. Polkan is listening, however, and kills him. Polkan and Bova rout the army and free Uril’s children. Marcobrun returns to the Sadonic kingdom, and swears that he, his children, and his grandchildren will never pursue Bova.

Bova, Polkan, and Drushnevna ride towards the city of Sumin, where Simbalda is. On the way, Drushnevna has two sons in a meadow: Litcharda and Simbalda. Sometime later, an army seny by Dadon and heading towards Armenia to slay Bova marches by. Bova leaves Polkan with Drushnevna and the children [they are staying in a tent in the meadow, still], while he slays the army. While he is doing so, Polkan is attacked by two lions, and all three die. Drushnevna looks out of the tent, sees the carnage, and thinks Bova is dead too, so she flees with her sons. They come to Tsar Saltan’s city, where she washes herself with the aging powder. Bova returns, thinks she is dead, and rides to Simin, where Simbalda and his son Tervis raise and army and march against Anton. Dadon has three hundred thousand men, but Bova challenges him to single combat and cleaves his skull. He sends his body to Queen Militrisa, while he weeps over his father’s grave and returns to Sumin. Unfortunately, Dadon is only mostly dead, and Militrisa sends far and wide for a doctor. Bova disguises himself with the aging powder, pretends to be a doctor, and beheads Dadon. He sends his head to Militrisa on a platter, washes himself with the youthful powder, and has Tervis nail her up in a barrel and roll her into the ocean. Bova reclaims his thorne, and sends to Saltan, asking for Miliheria’s hand in marriage. They consent, but Drushnevna hears of it. She has become a washerwoman, but she now walks with her two sons to Anton, arriving the same day. She washes herself with the youthful powder and sends her sons to present themselves before Bova. They tell their story, and there is much rejoicing. Bova has the taxes remitted for two months, and Milheria weds Tervis. Bova also sends Simbalda’s brother Ohen to conquer Armenia from Orlop, [who has apparently usurped it, though this was not mentioned before.] Orlop is slain, and Ohen is made king. Bova rules and reigns in Anton happily ever after.

A Folk-Tale Version Of Prince Bova

Very much shorter. Bova’s mother is a widow. It is her beloved’s idea to poison Bova. Bova’ mother chases him to the shore and the two of them both threaten the sailors [transferred from Saltan’s pursuit in the original]. Bova helps the merchants sell their goods, where he plays the gusli so well that everyone is transfixed. The ruler [unnamed] hires him to be his daughter’s page. They fall in love, he reveals his identity, and they are wed. Then his father-in-law gives him a horse kept behind twelve iron doors with twelve steel chain. Bova sets out on him to seek adventure. The guard at the gate is asleep, however, so Bova strikes him to wake him up. The guard is not happy, and drugs Bova. He then leaves him with a letter to visit such-and-such a Tsar, and a letter to the Tsar saying that Bova killed his son [this was not related earlier]. Bova wakes up, delivers the letter, and is thrown in jail. His daughter tries to convert him to the Latin faith [Roman Catholicism], but he refuses, so they attempt to hang him. He overcomes twelve guards and escapes. He returns to his palace after five long years, where his wife is giving food to beggars. He drinks the aging potion, reveals himself to his wife, and then turns himself young again. They live happily ever after.