The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 1: Introduction

Overview of the Legend of Bernardo del Carpio

Chronicles The legend of Bernardo del Carpio is first known in three chronicles: Bishop Lucas of Tuy’s Chronicon Mundi¸ 1236; Archbishop Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada of Toledo’s Historia Gothica, 1243; and the Primera Crónica General (PCG), compiled at the behest of King Alfonso X the Wise of Castile, the first version of which was completed 1274. These three chronicles are believed to have drawn on now-lost sources, but those remain a matter for speculation.

After the PCG, the legend of Bernardo is found in subsequent chronicles, but there are no essential reworkings until the Crónica General de Ocampo (1541), an adaptation of the Tercera Crónica General by Florián de Ocampo, who also extended the history down to his own day. He eliminates the most improbable epic details, and transfers some events from the reign of Alfonso III to that of Alfonso II.

Ocampo’s history had an impact on Siglo d’Oro writers comparable to that of Holinshed on the Elizabethans, and was the source, direct or indirect, for almost all the Siglo d’Oro ballads, plays, and epics about Bernardo.

Traditional Ballads A handful of ballads first printed in the Siglo d’Oro appear to be from oral tradition, independent of Ocampo’s Chronicle: Con Cartas y mensajeros, The Birth of Bernardo, By the Rivers of Arlanza, and Bernardo and Urgel.

Literary Ballads

There are many literary ballads about Bernardo, most of them anonymous, but a few with known authors, including:

Burguillos adapted much of Ocampo into verse, often word for word. His account of Bernardo del Carpio furnished him with material for ten ballads, (one of which is now mostly lost), some of which were reworked by Juan de Timoneda in his Rosa española (1573).

In 1551, Ocampo’s chronicle also furnished Lorenzo de Sepúlveda with material for five ballads about Bernardo in his Romances nuevamente sacados de historias antiguas de la Crónica de España.

Gabriel Lobo Lasso de la Vega wrote eight ballads about Bernardo, (c. 1578).

Lucas Rodriguez

Plays Plays about Bernardo were written by Juan de la Cueva, Lope de Vega, Cervantes, and others. Among the most significant are Juan de la Cueva: La Libertad de España por Bernardo del Carpio. Lope de Vega: Las Mocedades de Bernardo, and El Casamiento en la Muerte. Cervantes: La Casa del los Celos y Selvas de Ardenia.

Epics No fewer than five Siglo d’Oro epics about Bernardo exist, mostly about Roncesvalles.

1: Segunda parte de Orlando, con el verdadero suceso de la famose batalla de Roncesvalles, fin y muerte de los doce Pares de Francia, by Nicolás de Espinosa, 1555.

2: El verdadero suceso de la famosa batalla de Roncesvalles, con la muerte de los doze Pares de Francia, by Francisco Garrido de Villena, 1583.

3: Historia de las hazañas y hechos del invincible caballero Bernardo del Carpio, by Agustín Alonso, 1585.

4: España defendida, poema heroyco, by Cristóbal Suárez de Figueroa.

5: El Bernardo o la victoria de Roncesvalles, by Bernardo de Valbuena. 1624.

4 is modeled after Tasso, the rest after Ariosto. Only 5 is of any merit at all, but it has been called the best imitation of Ariosto in any language. 2 and 3 are the most likely candidates for the “Bernardo del Carpio” and “Roncesvalles” that Don Quixote’s barber and curate wished to condemn to the flames.

Chapbooks continued to circulate for centuries. Historia fiel y verdadera de Bernardo del Carpio was published as late as the 1700s by Manuel José Martín.

Modern Ballads. The Hispanic ballad tradition is still flourishing in Iberia and Latin America, and clings tenuously to life among the Sephardic Jewry. Our notes on modern tradition are not, and cannot be, exhaustive, thought we will attempt to include as much as we can.

A Note on Spanish Ballads

Spanish ballads are called romances. A collection is called a romancero, a word which also can refer to the corpus of Hispanic balladry. Spanish ballads have no official numbering system, nothing comparable to the Child Ballads or the Roud Folk Song Index. Hence all ballads must be identified by their numbers in the major collections.

Durán: Agustín Durán’s Romancero General, (first volume 1832, final volume of expanded edition 1851) an indiscriminate collection of most of the ballads printed before 1800, whether traditional or literary.

Class I ballads are pure folksongs.

Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.

Class IV are versifications of chronicles, mostly made by educated men with little poetic talent.

Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.

Class VIII are Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

(No Carolingian Ballads fall into Durán’s Classes II, VI, or VII.)

Wolf: Primavera y Flor de Varios Romances. Edited by Ferdinand Wolf and Konrad Hoffman 1856. A collection of romances believed to be traditional and printed by the sixteenth century (essentially a trimming of Durán, with some variants he did not include, and new notes).

Class I: Primitive Romances (=Durán I, II)

Class II: Primitive Romances reworked by learned or artistic poets (=Durán IV, V)

Class III: Minstrel Romances (=Durán III)

Romancero Tradicional: Menéndez Pidal’s multi-volume collection of the old printed romances with some of their modern recorded variants, and many from manuscript collections unknown to Durán. Volume 1 (1957) is dedicated to Roderick, Last of the Goths, and to Bernardo del Carpio. His classes are:

Primitivos: “With roots in the Middle Ages.”

Viejos: Of a purely Minstrel style, or already traditional by 1550.

Eruditos: The “Romancero Medio,” made by versifiers of chronicles.

Artificiosos: The “Romancero Nuevo,” = Durán VIII.

Samuel Armistead’s collections of Sephardic ballads, while not quite on the scale of the above, are nonetheless extremely valuable, and will be cited when appropriate.

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Saint George for England – Additional Verse 2018

Columbus sailed into the West, to conquer lands unknown;
De Soto loved this land so much he never went back home.
Ponce de Leon went looking for the Font of Youth,
Magellan and Cor’nado were both valiant men in truth.
And Cortez and Pizarro they destroyed the heathen idols,
But Saint George, Saint George, he pierced the dragon’s vitals!
Saint George he was for England; Saint Denis was for France,
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

There is a ballad in Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, first printed in 1612, which lists great knights and heroes of old and compares them to Saint George. You can read it here. I wrote this extra verse myself, and am posting it here in honor of Saint George’s Day. You can read my verse from St. George’s Day 2017 here.
As for the heroes listed, there is much misinformation spread about them today. A more accurate account of Columbus’ life and motivations can be found here.
Read about De Soto here.
Ponce de Leon may have heard about the Fountain of Youth from Mandeville’s Travels, a book fascinating in its own right, which may be the subject of a future post.
Magellan did not, of course, prove the world was round. The ancient Greeks had already proved as much. Nonetheless, his voyage was of immense importance, and perhaps even more daring than Columbus’.
Coronado was considered a failure in his lifetime, and his contributions to geography and ethnography were only appreciated after his death
Cortez was not only a conqueror of the infidel Aztecs, but also a stalwart soldier against the Mohammedans in North Africa. A good summary of his American adventures can be found in Andrew Lang’s True Story Book.
Pizarro’s story can be found here, and a more complete account in Andrew Lang’s Red True Story Book.
As for Saint George himself, he was martyred under Emperor Diocletian in Diospolis, in Palestine [now called Lod in Israel]. The legend of the dragon was not attached to him until the time of the First Crusade, when his popularity in the west exploded – but that is a story for another post. For now, I refer you to the summary in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Book I, Canto XIV, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIV, Stanzas 41-60

41
I do not know, my lords, if ere this time
You’ve heard the fame of great Uberto bruited?
He was a knight most courteous and fine,
Strong and courageous and for all things suited.
He scanned th’horizon with his watchful eye,
(For diligence he ever was reputed)
And thuswise was he when the lady fair
Came to the side of Count Orlando there.

42
King Adrïano and the bold Grifon
Stand in the loggia and discourse of love.
While Aquilante sings with Chiarïon,
The first the tenor part, the next above,
While Brandimarte sang the baritone;
And King Balllano was discoursing of
Swords, lances, armor, horses, weapons, war
With Belarussia’s baron, Antifor.

43
The damsel takes Orlando by the hand
And on his finger puts the wondrous ring
Which magic hath no power to withstand.
At once the Count remembers everything,
But when he sees who ’tis before him stads,
He quick forgets all else, save how to bing
Pleasure to her, though scarcely can he deem
He is awake, and this is not a dream.

44
The damsel hastily explaineth all
About the garden, how he thither came,
And Dragontine captured him in thrall
And wiped all memory clean from his brain.
And then for succor and for aid she calls,
With humble prayer asking if he’ll deign
To fight ’gainst Agricane and his horde,
Who waste her land with fire and with sword.

45
But Dragontina, standing in the palace
Looked out the window and beheld the dame.
She ran to find her knights, snared by the chalice,
But none are armed; her caution was her bane.
Now Count Orlando in the saddle tall is,
And in his arms Uberto he restrained,
Before he had the chance to stir one foot,
And then the ring upon his finger’s put.

46
The situation quickly is made clear.
Obert will help the spell be overthrown.
Now pay attention, lords, and you shall hear
Their wondrous deeds most worthy to be known.
They captured first the sons of Olivier,
The one Don Aquilant, the one Grifon.
The count had not yet recognized the boys,
But now he did. Great was Orlando’s joy.

47
And greater joy upon the brothers came,
Seeing each other at this blesséd hap.
Now Dragontina nearly goes insane,
Seeing her garden lost by sad mishap.
The potent ring makes all her magic vain.
The palace vanished with a thunderclap.
Bridge, river, fairy, vanished where they stood,
And left the barons standing in a wood.

48
They stand in stupefaction and amaze.
At one another stare they all and seek
Among the knights for a familiar face.
The Count of Brava, who is first to speak,
Addressing all assembled in that place,
Explains what happened, then proceeds with meek
And humble words, to ask the lords to fight
For her who rescued them from such a plight.

49
He tells of Agricane’s mighty war,
And how he has destroyed the lovely city,
And in the keep she is besiegéd sore.
Ev’ry last cavalier is filled with pity
And swears to bering the lady fair succor,
As long as he can fight, or on horse sit he,
And to force Agricane to retire,
Or in attempting the great deed, expire.

50
They set out, all together, on the road.
The lady guides them, and the knights escort.
Of Trufaldino now must things be told;
Who was holed up within the tiny fort.
Evil when young, and worse when he was old,
He was as treacherous as he was short.
No one suspected him. Each trusting head
Of Turk and of Circassian lay abed.

51
Torindo’s valor can avail no more
Than all of Sacripante’s chivalry.
For each of them is lying wounded sore
From fighting in the battle valiantly.
They’ve lost much blood, and they are weak therefore,
And they are overpowered instantly.
King Trufaldino binds them hand and foot.
Into a turret’s attic are they put.

52
He sends a messenger to Agrican,
Saying that he can have at will the keep.
The rock is his, and his the barbican.
Both of the kings were tied up in their sleep,
And now he wished to place them in his hand.
But the great Tartar’s ire runneth deep.
With eyes ablaze and with a haughty look,
He thus addressed the messenger, who shook:

53
“Go tell thy lord that Termagant forbid
That any man on earth should ever say
That traitors helped in anything I did.
By honest strength I’ll win; no other way.
I’ll fight in daylight, not by darkness hid,
But thee and thy false lord I shall make pay
For impudence to thus suggest this thing.
You scoundrels from the battlements will swing.

54
“Fool though thou art, thou still must be aware
You cannot long remain within your fort;
And once I take it, thou wilt hang in air,
Out of a tower window by thy foot.
Thou and thy Trufaldin will make a pair,
And ev’ry person who his hand hath put
To do a treason so black and immense
Will likewise dangle from the battlements.

55
The herald listened, while his face had turned
Now ghostly white, and now as red as flame.
He wished that long ago he had returned,
And thinks that Tartar has to be insane.
The king turned ’round, once he the offer spurned,
And the miscreant when back the way he came.
He went as swift as if the Fiend pursued,
Without the rich reward he’d thought his due.

56
Trembling all over, he regained the hold,
And told King Trufaldino what befell.
Now turn we to Orland, brave and bold,
Who came with his companions, right good-willed.
By night and day without a rest they rode.
One morn they reached the summit of a hill.
From the top they look down, and all they see
Is the vast campment of their enemy.

57
Such were the numbers nearly infinite
So many tents and such  mass of banners,
Angelica is dumbstruck at the sight.
They must pass through these legions in some manner,
Before they can regain the fortress’ height.
But the brave knights do not an instant stammer.
They see that glory will be their reward,
Taking the lady home by force of sword.

58
About the treason, nothing o they know,
Which wicked Trufaldino has prepared.
But on the mountaintop with hearts aglow,
They plan out how the duties will be shared
To let Angelica in safety go,
Though all the world in arms against them fared.
They don their armor and they mount their steeds,
Discuss and form a plan that may succeed.

59
In this formation, then, they will confront
And pass through all of this enormous rabble.
The Count Orlando will be at the front,
With Brandimarte, to begin the battle.
Then four knights will protect from all affront
The lady in a ring around her saddle.
Oberto, Aquilant, and Chiarïon
With Adrïano will escort her home.

60
Angelica, defended by these four
Need have no feat of any foeman’s blow.
The rearguard will be made of three, no more.
But everyone his valor well will show.
Grifone, Belarussian Antifor,
And King Ballano, who does not fear know.
The whole brigade is ready for to start.
They fear not all the world, these noble hearts.

Notes

Notes to the Fourteenth Canto, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIV, Stanzas 41-60 Notes

42. In the Italian, it is Aquilante who sings soprano and Chiarïone who sings tenor. I have switched them for the sake of the meter.
54. The custom in Italy was to hang traitors by one foot and leave them to die of blood rushing to their heads. The Hanged Man of Tarot cards (invented in Italy in the 1400’s is a depiction of a traitor [Judas] receiving his fitting reward, not a mystical symbol of balance.

Back to Part 3

The Dagobert Cycle Family Tree

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 Cologneand centered on Dagobert I, known as Le Bon Roi Dagobert, “Good King Dagobert.”

Family Tree of Dagobert I – Legendary

Book I, Canto XIV, Part 2

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIV, Stanzas 21-40

21
Three kings within the keep are still alive,
Besides the damsel and some thirty men,
Most of whom are too wounded to survive.
The keep is strong beyond most builders’ ken.
They all agree that they will further strive,
And fight against the Tartars till the end.
They’ll eat and drink by slaughtering the horses,
And pray to God to boost their meager forces.

22
They next agree to send the princess out,
To save her comrades from starvation miserable.
She has the magic ring, which in her mouth
Can make her all at once become invisible.
The sun begins to set beyond the mounts,
And darkness makes all creatures scarcely visible.
The princes calls into her presence keen,
Torindo, Sacripant, and Trufaldin.

23
And to the monarchs on her faith she swore
That she’d be back again in twenty days,
And in return they swear to hold the fort
As long as they and their companions may,
Until Mahomet sendeth them succor,
For she will seek for aid by night and day,
From ev’ry king and ev’ry man of might,
And with the hope of aid her heart is light.

24
When all is spoken, in the quiet night
The damsel mounts upon her palfrey’s back
And makes her way beneath the moon’s pale light.
Along beneath the sky her path she tracks.
She was not caught in any sentry’s sight,
Although of men outside there is no lack,
Because fatigue, and certain victory
Wrap them in sleep, devoid of memory.

25
The magic ring she doesn’t need at all,
For by the time the sun his head uprose,
Five leagues behind her are Albracca’s walls,
And four leagues from her are her nearest foes.
She turns around, she sighs, her eyelids fall,
To see afar her newly-scapéd woes.
Riding as fast as won’t her palfrey lame,
She passed Orgagna, to Circassia came.

26
She chanced to ride along the river banks,
Where the bold Don Rinaldo lately slew
The cruel centaur, like a valiant Frank.
As on she rides, a flow’ry meadow through,
She met an ancient man, who clearly drank
A bitter cup. His tears fell like the dew,
And with clasped hands he dropped upon his knees,
Begging the dame to listen to his pleas.

27
The old man says to her, “A handsome lad,
My only comfort in my feeble age,
My son, my joy, the only one I had,
Within our house – it’s but a little ways –
With burning fever lies upon his bed.
I know no medicine to stop its rage.
And if to bring me help thou dost not run,
All of my hope is gone, my life is done.”

28
Pity soon runs within her gentle heart.
She ‘gins to comfort the old, feeble man.
For she knew ev’ry herb and all the art
Of medicine, as much as mortal can.
Alas! Too credulous and trusting heart!
She knew the danger not, in which she ran.
The innocent takes on her palfrey’s croup
The wicked man, who will to all things stoop.

29
Now you must know that this old silver-hair
Waits by the wood and plain, till fortune brings
A girl or woman on a journey there,
To snare them like a songbird in a spring.
For ev’ry year one hundred women fair
He pays in tribute to Orgagna’s king.
By cunning guile no one can withstand
He takes them o’er to Polifermo’s hands.

30
For not five miles off, the man had dight
Upon a bridge, a vast and mighty tower.
You never saw so wonderful a sight.
And ev’ry dame who fell into his power
The old man in this lofty prison pight.
A whole brigade was in this joyless bower.
All of his pris’ners by deception made he,
And one of them was Brandimarte’s lady.

31
The centaur dunked her, as you may recall,
In sooth, her prospects seldom had looked dimmer.
But she was saved, and didn’t fear at all,
Because she was a very able swimmer.
The current bore her like a child’s ball,
Or like a branch amidst the water’s glimmer.
It bore her to the bridge, which was not far,
Where rose the tower, and the man stood guard.

32
He pulled her from the river, almost dead,
And tends to her with unremitting care,
For many skilled physicians ate his bread
And other vassals dwelt within his lair.
When she recovers, in the prison dread
He thrusts her, with the rest to languish there.
But le’s speak of Angelica the sweet,
Who came, not witting the old man’s deceit.

33
When she set foot upon the tower floor,
(The old man lingered on the bridge, “to rest”)
Immediately did the iron door
Slam shut, though by no earthly hand ’twas pressed.
Too late Angelica sees to the core
Of the false elder, and she beats her breast;
She loudly wept, and loudly cried – in vain.
None to her aid except the prisoners came.

34
They gathered round her, and they vainly sought
To give her comfort, all alone and scared;
They all relate to her how they were caught,
For griefs seems always lesser when they’re shared.
The last to speak is she who last was brought.
She scarce could speak, so weighed was she with care.
This was the noble Brandimarte’s dame,
And Fiordelisa was the lady’s name.

35
She tells, while often sighs escape her breast,
How she and Brandimart loved faithfully,
How searching with Astolfo on a quest
They came upon a garden filled with trees
And flowers and fruit, that seemed a pleasant rest,
Where Dragontina stole his memory.
The Paladin Orlando there she saw,
With many others, in the fairy’s claws.

36
And how she’d travelled on, in search of aid,
And met with Don Rinaldo on the road;
And all their wanderings she next relates.
Without a lie, the story plain she showed,
About the giant and the gryphons great,
And the great treason done to Albarose.
And of the centaur, like an evil dream,
Who’d kidnapped her and thrown her in the stream.

37
Poor Fiordelisa sighs for, as she speaks,
Her love true, of whom she’s been deprived.
Angelica, though, hears the door hinge creak,
For one more lady on the bridge arrived.
At once she has the chance for which she seeks.
She was not seen by any man alive
As she escaped the prison, for she bore
The magic ring, and just walked out the door.

38
It would have been in vain if any sought her,
Such is the ring’s most potent grammarye.
When into freedom it has safely brought her,
She finds the stables, and her palfrey frees,
Then rides away to seek the curséd water
Which steals away the drinker’s memories,
Where Milo’s son and others she may meet,
Captured in Dragontina’s prison sweet.

39
And going on her way without a pause,
She comes one morning to a garden fair,
Where Dragontina marks her not, because
The magic ring within her mouth she bears.
Aside into a little grove she draws,
Ties up her palfrey, and on foot she fares
Across the grass, till by a fountain’s side
The Count, in armor resting, she espied,

40
Because it was his turn to be on guard.
So at the garden’s entrance he reclines.
His Brigliadoro munches on the sward.
His shield and helm are hanging on a pine.
Nearby, beneath the shade a tree affords,
There waits a cavalier of noble line.
Upon his horse he sat, and he was known
And famed as Don Uberto dal Leon.

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Notes

Notes to the Fourteenth Canto, Part 2

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIV, Stanzas 21-40 Notes

12. Orada. Seems to be imaginary.
28. My quotation from Chaucer does not reflect any such quotation in the original.
35. Fiordelisa was the lady’s name. This is the first time Boiardo names her. I have taken the liberty of naming her sooner.
40. Uberto dal Leon. This is the real Uberto dal Leon, not Angelica’s brother Argalía back from the dead.

The Lorraine Cycle Family Tree

Below are two family trees for the Lorraine Cycle, or Cycle des Lorraines. The top family tree is for the French Cycle, Hervis de MetzGarin le Loherain, Gerbert de MetzYon, ou le Vengeance Fromondin, and Anseis de CologneThe bottom family tree is for the Dutch Roman der LorreinenPlease note that in Garin le Loherain, Hervis’ wife is named Alice, not Beatrice.

Garin le Loherain Family Tree

Roman der Lorreiner Family Tree

 

The Legend of Garin the Lorrainer – Variants, Origins, and Influence

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.

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The Legend of the Lorrainers – Dutch Version

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.

Let thus much suffice for the history of the Lorrainers, and let us now turn to Bevis of Hampton, that was the illustrious forbear of the house of Clairmont.