The Legend of Gerbert of Metz

The legend of Gerbert of Metz, son of Garin le Loherain, is to be found in the following versions:

A chanson de geste in some 15,000 alliterative decasyllables. Found in some 21 MSS, always with Garin le Loherain.

The prose of Philippe de Vigneulles.

David Aubert’s History of Charles Martel, volume 3.

Another prose rendering, Arsenal 3346.

Book One of Roman der Lorreinen. A Middle Dutch poem, c. 1275, surviving only in fragments. The translation of Gerbert is entirely lost.


On the MSS: For this poem, ABCL1O form family a. All other MSS except INR form family b, though EL1OPS have a tendency to hop back and forth. IN continue to form a Second Redaction, about which I can find no information. R is off in its own world, but again I can find no specific details.


The surviving Lorrainers are as hell-bent on vengeance as ever. The Bordelais are on the brink of capturing Metz, when Garin’s son Gerbert persuades the burghers to swear homage to King Anseis of Cologne while he (Gerbert) goes to Paris to speak with Pepin. On the road to Paris he meets Begon’s two sons, Gerin and Hernault, who tell him that Lancelin, one of Garin’s assassins, is out hunting in the forest of Frat [the modern Forest of Foug]. The three cousins ambush him there, cut off his head, throw his entrails in the river, and strew pieces of his body along their way as they ride towards Paris. Reaching the city, Blanchefleur persuades Pepin to retain them at court. Gerbert starts as a huntsman, but soon works his way up to be seneschal.

Meanwhile, Rigaut and his brother Morant attack Bordeaux. Guillaume of Monclin’s son, Garin, is dubbed a knight and joins the war. Rigaut’s brother, Morant, is slain. In a feast on St. Denis’ Day, Queen Blanchefleur notices Fromont is absent from court, and makes Pepin send Gerbert to summon him to answer for his crimes. Fromont is furious, and Gerbert narrowly escapes with his life.

Fromont nonetheless comes to court, where, despite Pepin’s best efforts to keep them away, Gerbert, Gerin, and Hernault meet him in the hall. Fromont insults Pepin and accuses Blanchefleur of sleeping with the three cousins. A brawl breaks out, and the Bordelais are driven away. Pepin invests Gerbert with Gironville, once a fief of the Bordelais. Gerbert occupies this city, and during the ensuing war Rigaut is shot and killed by Guillaume de Monclin, and Fromont burns all the Lorrainers’ castles save Gironville.

Here is a division in most manuscripts, with a large initial to begin a new section. EFJLMPXOQV here add a long description of Gironville, cobbled together from three later laisses (30, 36, 38 in Taylor’s edition) They later repeat the parts of this description in their original places. EFMP say that here ends the song of Jehan de Flagi, presumably the author, as no knight of that name is ever mentioned.


The Bordelais lay siege to Gironville. Fromont’s attempts to build a better siege machine fail, so he sends Fromondin off to Paris to bribe Pepin, who swears not to aid the Lorrainers. As he returns to Gironville, he is met by Gerbert, Gerin, and their cousin Mauvoisin, who have slipped away from Gironville to seek help in Paris. The Lorrainers slaughter all the Bordelais save Fromondin, who escapes. Pepin refuses them his help, however, and slaps the Queen when she intercedes for them. At this juncture, messengers arrive from King Anseis of Cologne, seeking aid. Pepin refuses to send any, but the Lorrainers ride north.

In the course of saving Cologne, Gerbert wins the good horse Fleuri, and the love of Anseis’ wife and daughter both. He is unresponsive to their advances, but Gerin councils him to marry the princess. He settles for becoming engaged to her. Anseis restores Metz to Gerbert, mostly to get rid of him before his womenfolk do something they’ll regret.

The three Lorraine cousins now go to Charles’ court in Orleans, where they find Fromont, who renews his accusations. It is suggested to have Gerbert and Guillaume de Monclin fight a duel, but Fromont refuses to allow it, since Gerbert is the grandson of a commoner (Hervis). Gerbert answers that at least his ancestors aren’t traitors and scoundrels. At last Fromondin agrees to fight, and is defeated. The Bordelais flee, and Fromont raises on army from King Yon of Gascony. With it, he besieges Hernault le Poitevin in Gironville.

During the siege, Fromont comes up with a scheme to entrap Hernaut: he will offer him the hand of his (Fromont’s) daughter Ludie to lure him into an ambush. Ludie is horrified at this treacherous behavior (and loves Fromont), and writes him a warning letter, which she wraps around an arrow and fires into the besiegers’ camp. Ludie seeks refuge with inside Gironville, and the Lorrainers capture her brother Fromondin. King Pepin arrives with the royal army. Guillaume de Monclin and Fromont offer to make peace with Pepin. Fromont will pay handsome reparations to Pepin and the Lorrainers, will walk barefoot to Saint-Denis in Paris, will give Ludie to Hernault, and will let bygones be bygones, if only he can keep Gironville. At the queen’s urging, Pepin refuses the offer and attacks the Bordelais. Guillaume’s son Garin, Bernard of Naisil, and Guillaume of Monclin are all slain. Fromont abandons the city and flees to Spain, where he is led before Emir Galafré, offers him his services, and becomes a renegade.

Meanwhile, in France, Fromondin has made peace with the Lorrainers. Fromondin will keep Bordeaux, and his sister Ludie will marry Hernault after all. All agree that the many deaths on each side will balance each other out and no further vengeance will be taken. A year passes by in peace.

The Bordelais invite Hernaut and his friends to a feast, where the townsfolk attack them. Hernaut escapes, but Doon the Hunter (Mauvoisin’s father) is slain, and Ludie is captured and returned to the custody of Fromondin. The Lorrainers appeal to Pepin, who answers with a curse on both their houses, until Blanchefleur once again talks him into supporting the Lorrainers. As the men of France and Lorrainer prepare for war, Fromondin secretly travels to Hernaut’s home of Blaye and ambushes him in the Church of Saint Martin. Hernaut grabs the great crucifix to use as the shield, but Fromondin cuts through it and him. The Bordelais then set the church on fire, leaving Hernaut for dead behind the altar. He survives, however, just barely, and the Queen’s army arrives to capture Fromondin, who is forced to take monastic vows.

The Saracens again attack King Anseis, who appeals to Gerbert for aid. Gerbert is minded to refuse, being bankrupt after defeating Fromondin. Gerin, however, counsels him to mortgage his fiefs and ask Pepin for Bordeaux. Gerbert agrees. Fromondin hears of this and breaks out of the monastery of Saint-Seurin, using the abbey’s wealth to raise an army, with which he intends to ambush Gerbert. However, when he reaches Cologne and sees Gerbert’s tiny army facing the Saracens, he decides, for the sake of honor, and to have the pleasure of killing Gerbert himself, to help Gerbert defeat the Saracens and then challenge him to a battle. Gerbert accepts this proposition in its entirety. Gerbert and Fromondin repel the heathens. Anseis urges Gerbert to finally wed Beatrice, but he declines. He then offers Gerbert his help against the Bordelais, but Gerbert declines this, owing to the terms of the oath he had sworn to Fromondin. Fromondin offers to make peace with Gerbert, who refuses. After a fierce battle, the two chieftains decide to fight in single combat. Gerbert overcomes Fromondin, but spares his life. The Lorrainers feast in Cologne and throw Fromondin in prison. Anseis urges Gerbert to marry Beatrice, but he still refuses, so she insults and mocks him in front of all the barons [only in two MSS] and marries Gerin instead. Fromondin serves at table at the wedding feast. Gerbert gives Metz to Gerin, and then takes Fromondin to Pepin’s court for judgment. The barons find Fromondin guilty, and allow Gerbert to set his punishment.

At this juncture, however, news comes that the heathen Spaniards, accompanied by Fromont, have invaded France and are besieging Hernault le Poitevin in Gironville. Fromondin offers to help defeat the Saracens if Gerbert will spare him, and so it is done. Fromondin slays the heathen Prince Cormadant, son of Emir Marsilius. Marsilius, when he hears the news, executes Fromont. Gerbert and the Royal army reach Gironville and raise the siege, Gerbert kills the Emir, and the Spaniards retreat. Fromondin finds his father’s body and secretly swears vengeance. Fromont is buried in Saint-Seurin in Bordeaux.[1]

Gerin, having wed Anseis’ daughter Beatrice, now inherits Cologne. Girbert marries the daughter of King Yon of Provence and inherits that kingdom. The princess dies giving birth to her son Anseis, and Girbert marries the daughter of Aymeri of Narbonne, likewise an orphan, whom he protects against invading Saracens. Fromondin, left as lord of Bordeaux, accepts Hernault le Poitevin as his suzerain. Hernault and Ludie are reunited and live peacefully together. Fromondin stands as godfather to Hernault’s sons, Fromont and Begon.

So matters stay for several years, until Fromondin invites Gerbert to stay with him for Pentecost. Gerbert visits Fromont’s tomb and offers to pay for the building of a richer one, which Fromondin accepts. However, Gerbert and his squire Mauvoisin secretly steal Fromont’s skull, which they take back to Aix with them and make into a drinking goblet. At the next great feast, it is Gerbert’s turn to play host, and he invites Gerin, Hernaut, Fromondin, and others. Girbert serves Fromondin and his cousins out of the skull-goblet. Unfortunately, the secret of the skull-goblet gets out, and Fromondin hears of it. He and the other Bordealais leave at once, swearing vengeance.

Fromondin occupies Gironville, taking Ludie and her children, the young Fromont and Begon, captive. She pleads with him to accept Gerbert’s offer of peace. He is willing to pay three horse-loads of gold, thirty helms and hauberks, and the golden goblet, but Fromondin is implacable. He dashes out the brains of his two nephews, his own godsons, in front of Ludie. Nonetheless, he does not have enough men to hold Gironville, and the Lorrainers force him to flee across the Pyrenees. Only one squire is with him as he enters Pamplona. Here the enormity of his sins overwhelms him, and he flees to the forest to become a hermit. He is shrived by a holy man who has lived in the forest for over thirty years, and the three men live together in fasting and prayer. Even after the old hermit dies, Fromondin and his squire continue their penance.

Four years have gone by, when King Gerin of Cologne desires to visit Saint James of Compostella. He stops by Aix-en-Provence to visit Gerbert, who decides to come with him. Mauvoisin also joins the party. As the three of them pass by Pamplona, they hear tell of a holy hermit living in the woods, and decide to make their confessions to him. Fromondin, unrecognized himself, recognizes the three cousins at once, and tells them to come back later, for he himself is not in a state of grace. What he is in fact lacking are weapons, which he sends his squire to the city to obtain. The squire, however, warns the Lorrainers of his master’s identity. They return to the hermitage and prepare to kill him. Fromondin asks for mercy, and warns them that his kinsmen will avenge him. Nonetheless, Gerbert smites him with his pilgrim’s staff, breaking his skull open. Fromondin falls dead to the floor. Gerbert and Gerin see to his burial, and then return home, where their story is met with much rejoicing.


Familes a and b differ in some minor details, but none of much importance. I suspect IN differ much more, but they have never been printed, nor, as far as I am aware, even analyzed.

The Emir uses a surprising variety of weapons to kill Fromont. A sword ABCM, his baton V, his shield DFJLSW, an ivory horn P, an ivory chessboard EQR, a tretel N.

All MSS of the Lorraine cycle end with a recapitulation of the main characters of both houses, this recapitualation coming at the end of either Gerbert, Yon, or Anseis, with adaptations to suit. A few also explain that after Blanchefleur died, Pepin married Bertha Broadfoot.


Continues to be similar, though not identical, to S.


I can find no information on this part of Aubert’s prose, save that his volume 3 begins with the death of Garin and ends just before the death of Fromondin in the hermitage.


What moderns call Gerbert de Metz is called by Philippe Book III of Garin le Loherain. He begins his book III with the death of Garin, and carries it down to the death of Fromondin.


The part of his poem dealing with Gerbert has been completely lost.

Origins and Influence

The poem of Gerbert was written between 1185 and 1210, and at once became inseparable from Garin. There is no historical basis for it. Compare the story of Fromond’s skull made into a goblet with that of the Lombard queen Rosamund.

Aymeri of Narbonne is generally held to have flourished after the battle of Roncesvalles, and to have died in the reign of Louis the Pious. Perhaps Gerbert’s deceased father-in-law is a different man of the same name.

Philippe Mouskes’ Chronique Rimee gives the story down to the marriage of Gerbert with the daughter of Aymeri of Narbonne. The other chronicles listed above under Garin usually include some or all of the story of Gerbert.

The central legend of Garin and Gerbert spawned not only a prequel, but three continuations, written independently of each other: an Old French poem, Yon, ou le Vengeance Fromondin; another old French poem, Anseis de Metz; and the second book of the Middle Dutch Roman der Lorreinen. Let us now turn to those.


[1] Silver, Maurice, Girbert de Mes, According to Ms. B, Text and Variants of Lines 8879-10822, Followed by a Study of the Noun Declensional System, Ph. D. dissertation, Columbia University, New York, 1942.


The Legend of Garin the Lorrainer

The legend of Garin le Loherain, or Garin the Lorrainer is found in the following versions:

Garin le Loherain, an Old French chanson de geste of over 16,000 assonanced decasyllables, attributed to Jean de Flagy. Found in over twenty MSS, almost always alongside Gerbert. There are two major redactions. One found in the majority of the MSS, the other only in INT. The second redaction was made after Hervis de Metz and attempts to tie the two poems more closely together. Since this poem is never found without Gerbert, it is not entirely clear where the one poem begins and the other ends. We follow the modern convention, but some scholars make the divide at the beginning of our Part III of Garin, and others at the first siege of Gironville in Gerbert.

An anonymous prose rendering, Arsenal 3346.

The prose of Philippe de Vigneulles.

David Aubert’s History of Charles Martel.

Book One of Roman der Lorreinen. A Middle Dutch poem, c. 1275. 10,000 verses survive of what appear to have been over 150,000.

[Arlima claims that a version in Alexandrines exists. This is incorrect. The original poem was in decasyllables, but the MSS as we have them all occasionally slip into alexandrines. Some do this much more frequently than others, but they do so only by padding. There is no alexandrine redaction of the poem as a whole.]

The fullest account of the story in English is John Ludlow’s, in Popular Epics of the Middle Ages of the Norse-German and Carlovingian Cycles, Volume 2.

The Manuscripts

The following classification is taken from Anne Iker-Gittleman’s edition (Paris, Champion 1996) and is based largely on how accurately the references to the geography of Lorraine have been preserved. All MSS except INT agree on the indicidents of the story. Cross-contamination between families is frequent, and the exact relations of the families are hazy.

DFGJ: Most likely the closest to the original, though none are without errors. The most accurate geographically. FJ often resemble the Lorraine group in non-geographic readings.

L1: A very corrupt version of the common ancestor of the three following groups.

ABCOR: R changes assonance to rhyme, but otherwise stays as close to the others as it can.

QS: Heavily trims the first part of the poem (the wars of Hervis), besides other changes. The second most accurate geographically, albeit of late origin.

VW: Very accurate geographically; somewhere between DFGJ and the Lorraine group non-geographically.

EMPX: The so-called Lorraine group, ironically the most corrupt of all geographically.

INT: The only group to change the incidents of the story, to tie it in with Hervis de Metz.

DGIW all are missing pages at the beginning. X intentionally, L1 owing to the ravages of time, begin with the death of Begon, at our Part Three. The division into parts is made by Paulin Paris, I know not on what MS authority.


The pagan Vandals are invading France. Charles Martel lays a heavy tax on the Church to fund his army, but it takes a direct order from the Pope to force the monasteries to pay up. Duke Hervis of Lorraine distinguishes himself in Charles’ councils and in warfare, slaying the pagan king Charboncle, who was attacking Paris. Charles raises the siege of Sens and chases the Vandals to Troyes, while Hervis delivers Soissons. Charles, jealous of Hervis’ prowess, attacks the heathens at Troyes without waiting for Hervis’ forces to join his. Hervis arrives in time to save the Franks from defeat, but not in time to prevent Charles from receiving a fatal wound, and Saint Lupus of Troyes from receiving martyrdom. Charles Martel dies of his wound nine day later, and Hervis arranges for his heir, the young Pepin, to be crowned. He makes one Hardré the regent. Hervis then returns home and weds the fair Alice of Cologne, sister of Gaudin. They have two sons, Garin and Begon, and seven daughters, who become the mothers of 1) Hernais of Orleans and Bishop Eudes of Orleans, 2) Auberi le Bourguignon, 3) Ouri the German, 4) Girard of Liege, 5) Hugh of Cambray and Walter of Hainault, 6) Geoffrey of Anjou, 7) Hugh of Mans and Garnier.

(The MSS vary wildly in the genealogy. We follow the most common arrangement. Other MSS include among Garin’s nephews Mauvoisin, later to be his squire; Rigaut de Plessy, who is normally said to be the son of peasants; Salomon of Brittany; and Hoel of Nantes).

The remnants of the infidel army, however, lay siege to Metz. Hervis rides to Laon to demand aid from the twelve-year-old Pepin, but Hardré refuses it. Hervis renounces his vassalship and swears fealty to King Anseis of Cologne. Anseis helps raise the siege, but in the fighting, Hervis is shot with an arrow and killed, and King Pepin annexes his fiefs.

Hervis’ faithful vassal Berengier takes Garin and Begon and confides them to their uncle, Hervis’ brother, Bishop Henri of Châlons. Seven and a half years later, Henri presents them at the court of France. At Hardré’s advice, Pepin swears friendship with them, and gives Begon the duchy of Gascony. He dubs the lads knights, at the same time as their new friends, Hardré’s sons Fromont and Guillaume de Monclin. [Hardré has some six or seven sons.
For reasons known only to himself, has named most of them Fromont and Guillaume. Besides the companions of Garin and Begon, there are Fromont of Bologne, father of Isoré the Grey; Fromont de la tour d’Ardres; Guillaume de Blancafort; and, in some MSS, Guillaume le Poitevin].

At the subsequent feast, a messenger arrives with the news that Richard of Normandy is rebelling. The new knights, led by Begon, subdue Richard, and go on to subdue Gascony, Poitou, and reclaim Lorraine for Garin, with the help of Hardré’s diplomacy. When King Pepin grants Gascony to Begon in fief, he swears to give the next fief that falls vacant to Fromont.

Four Moorish kings out of Spain invade France, and besiege King Thierri of Maurienne in his city of Val Parfonde. Pepin would fain refuse his aid, but the sons of Hervis persuade him to grant it, and the armies of France are gathered in Lyon at Pentecost. Pepin falls ill, and Garin must lead the troops. As they near Val Parfonde, Garin, Begon, and Bernard of Naisil (uncle of Fromont and Guillaume, and a defrocked monk) send out spies. They return and announce that the Saracens vastly outnumber the Christians. Fromont and Guillaume wish to return home, and will not listen to Garin’s pleas. At last he grants them permission to depart, on condition that they lay no claim to any of the booty when he wins. The Bordelais abandon the army with their men, but the Lorrainers press on. Saints Denis, George, and Domin aid them in their battle, and the Saracens are routed, but King Thierry is mortally wounded by an arrow. On his deathbed, he betrothes Garin to his daughter Blanchefleur, who is only eight or nine years old.

Returning to court, Pepin joyfully greets the Lorrainers, and approves of Garin’s betrothal to Blanchefleur. Unfortunately, Thierry is the first vassal of Pepin’s to die without a male heir since Begon received Gascony, and hence Fromont considers himself entitled to Blanchefleur and her fiefs. Pepin objects that a father’s dying wish overrides his oath. Furious, Fromont first insults, then strikes Garin. A melee soon becomes general, with Pepin looking on helplessly.


In the palace brawl, Garin’s nephew Hernais of Orleans distinguishes himself, Hardré is killed, and Fromont flees. Hardré’s fief of Soissons, which he had usurped from the Lorrainers, is siezed by the Lorrainers for Hernais of Orleans. Pepin is reluctant to recognize him as the city’s lord, but yields to Garin’s threat to burn the city to the ground if his family’s claims are not recognized.

Fromont, counselled by Droon of Amiens, marries Helissent of Ponthieu, the sister of Count Baldwin of Flanders. Only after the wedding do the Flemings learn that Fromont is out of favor with Pepin. Baldwin is angry at first, but then realizes he now has an ally against his mortal enemy, Garin’s nephew Huon of Cambrai. The Bordelais, Flemings, and Fromont’s nephew Count Isoré the Grey all lay siege to Cambrai. Huon rebukes Isoré for his actions (They had once been comrades), and persuades him to abandon the war. Huon also sends for aid from his kin. Pepin and Garin make ready for war.

Meanwhile, Bernard of Naisil has learned of his brother Hardré’s death and seeks to avenge it by plundering Lorraine and Burgundy. He at last comes to Dijon and there besieges Auberi le Bourguignon, Garin and Begon’s nephew. Begon chases him away, and wishes to kill Huedon of Grantcey, who has betrayed his lord Auberi during the invasion and helped Bernard. Huedon’s wife, however, is Auberi’s niece, and Begon spares him at her intercession.

Meanwhile, Fromont has abandoned his siege of Cambrai and is holed up in Saint-Quentin. Garin lays siege to him there, which is described at very great length. Fromont’s brother, Fromont de la tour d’Ardres. After a very long war, the Bordelais and Lorrainers agree to submit themselves to the king’s judgment. Princess Blanchefleur, the cause of all this fighting, is now old enough to be married (i. e. at least twelve), and Auberi le Bourguignon conducts her to court. Pepin resolves the issue to nobody’s satisfaction by marrying her himself, (he bribes two monks to falsely swear that Garin and Blanchefleur are too closely related to marry). Pepin compensates Garin and Fromont with lofty titles. Shortly afterward, while all are still at court, the Bordelais accuse Garin of conspiring with Blanchefleur to kill the King. Begon proves his brother’s innocence by slaying Isoré in a judicial duel. He rips his heart out of his chest and throws it in the face of Fromont’s brother Guillaume de Monclin. Bernard flees to Naisil, but the king and Lorrainers lays siege, capture him when he sallies out, and lock him in a monastery.

Garin and Begon marry Alice and Beatrice, the two daughters of Pepin’s uncle Count Milon of Blaye, who thereupon becomes a monk. Garin and Begon agree that Garin will inherit all the lands of Lorraine, and Begon all the lands of Count Milon. The Bordelais, alarmed at Begon’s new inheritance so close to their fiefs, attempt to assassinate him. Fromont’s brother Aymon of Bordeaux and his nephew Thibaut of Plessis ambush Begon and Beatrice in the woods. Begon is sorely wounded, but Hervis le Vilain, lord of nearby Plasseïs, comes to the rescue. Begon and his men wind up in besieged in Belin, and send as their messenger a certain Manuel Galopin, a man of some magical talents who prefers to loaf around and get drunk in the taverns. With his magic, he turns invisible, and thus evades the besieging Bordelais and brings back help from court. The royal army raises the siege of Belin and goes on to besiege Bordeaux instead.

Two new knights play a large role in this siege: Fromondin, son of Fromont; and Rigaut, son of the Hervis li Vilain, who fights for the Lorrainers. Rigaut has no patience for the ceremonies of knighthood, and his bewilderment at the rituals of his dubbing is treated with a comic touch.

At long last, the Bordelais surrender, and peace is sworn. Begon is made Duke of Gascony and suzerain of Fromont in Bordeaux. Garin stands as godfather to the son of Fromont’s brother Guillaume de Monclin, and promises to invest the baby, also named Garin, with lordship of the Metz market: a promise he does not keep.


Begon is at his castle of Belin, happy with his wife Beatrice and his two sons, Gerin, now aged twelve, and Hernaut, ten. However, it has been seven years since he last saw Garin, and he decides to make a trip to Lorraine. But first, he decides to hunt an enormous boar which has been ravaging the forest of Vicogne. Unfortunately, the forest of Vicogne is right on the border of his lands and the lands of Fromont. Caught up in the excitement of the hunt, he becomes separated from all his men and wanders across the border, where he is found by six foresters of Fromont. They do not recognize him, but kill him for his armor and trappings. They bring his body back to Fromont’s hall and say they have killed a trespasser, but Fromont recognizes him, and grieves heavily, for he knows that Garin will not believe he was innocent. Fromondin wishes to execute the foresters; Guillame de Monclin wishes to reward them. Fromont arrests the foresters and sends a messenger to Garin, offering to have ten thousand Masses said for Begon’s soul, to let Garin execute the murderes however he pleases, to swear on holy relics that he (Fromont) was innocent, and to pay four horses loaded with gold and silver to Garin. Garin accepts. Bernard de Naisil, however, is disgusted at his nephew’s behavior, and secretly sets the foresters free. Garin is furious, and the war resumes again. Rigaut wastes the lands around Bordeaux with fire and sword, and Hugh of Cambrai siezes the chance to attack Flanders, but he is slain. The foresters, led by Guillaume de Blancafort (a brother of Fromont’s) and Thibaut de Plessis, flee to Pepin’s court.

At Guillaume and Thibaut’s insistance, Pepin decides that he has supported the Lorrainers for long enough, and withdraws his protection from them. When Queen Blanchefleur protests, he strikes her face, causing the blood to run down. She sends word to Garin, telling him to kill Guillaume and Thibaut or lose her esteem forever. To hear is to obey, and Garin gathers his son Gerbert, his nephews Hernaut and Gerin, and a goodly company, and leaves Metz to lie in ambush on the road to Orleans. Despite Pepin’s guarantee of a safe-conduct and his gift of a number of attendants, the Lorrainers ambush the Bordelais. Hernaut, Begon’s son, kills Thibaut, and Garin kills Guillaume. All the Bordelais are slaughtered except one old man. Garin then mounts Guillaume’s lifeless body upright on his horse as if he still lived, and bids the old man lead him to Lens, where Fromont and Fromondin can see him.

The war continues for some time. Ouri the German and Girard of Liege are slain, but the Lorrainers destroy the castles of Naisil, Verdun, and Monclin. Since Hugh of Cambrai has died some time previously, Garin and Auberi arrange for his orphaned daughter to marry a certain Milon de Laverdin. From their line will come Raoul of Cambrai.

At last, Garin has utterly wasted the south of France and arranged for the imprisonment of Bernard in a monastery. Peace is made and all are, supposedly, reconciled. Three years after the conclusion of the war, Garin is stricken with remorse for his deeds. He summons the Bordelais to Val-Gelin and meets them in a little chapel there. He offers to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre and to restore Monclin to Guillaume de Monclin. Guillaume, however, chooses this moment to reproach Garin for never giving his godson his promised fief: the markets of Metz. Garin agrees to this as well, but one of his vavasors reminds all present that Garin only promised one market, and that the best. Guillaume quarrels with and kills the vavasor. Garin will not fight back, threatens Guillaume with Hellfire if he starts the war again, and rides away without another word. The Bordelais hesitate a few moments, then Bishop Lancelin rouses them to pursue the Lorrainers. Garin orders Gerbert, Hernault, and Gerin to save themeselves, and they ride to Metz while Garin’s men are all cut down, until he alone remains. Garin retreats to a chapel, where he kneels, sorely wounded, before the altar. The Bordelais pursue him even here, and though he slays many of them, he falls at last, “like an oak among lesser trees.” The Bordelais flee, leaving Garin to die. One of Garin’s men comes back to the scene, and, thinking his lord already dead, cuts off his right arm to keep as a relic. Garin, who is still alive, pardons him for this deed and renders up his soul. Garin is buried in Val-Gelin. The widows Beatrice and Alice die of grief within three months. They are buried in the church of Saint Arnoul.


The primary purpose of this redaction was to tie the story together with that of Hervis de Metz and Gerbert de Metz. It consequently is closest to the original in the body of the poem, and most different at the beginning and end. Even though the body of the poem follows the original incidents closely, there is enough of a difference in vocabulary and tone that they can almost be considered two separate works. T returns to the First Redaction before the death of Garin and remains there throughout Gerbert.

Hervis’ children are already born before the invasion of the Vandals. Saint George fights on the side of the Christians. Pepin is born by Caesarian section. After Charles’ death and the second Vandal attack, as Hervis and Anseis are defending Metz, Hervis survives being shot with an arrow, thanks to a magic ring he received from Beatrice. After the Vandals are repulsed, Hervis and Beatrice leave Metz in the hands of Thierri and go to visit King Eustace of Tyre. Garin and Begon live in Metz for three years until Pepin invites them to court. Their uncle, Bishop Henri of Chalons, accompanies them thither, where Pepin greets them warmly, making Garin a trencherman and Begon a cup-bearer. Hervis and Beatrice, meanwhile, are reconciled with King Eustace, and renew their wedding vows in his presence. The couple then depart for the Holy Land, where they will die. Hervis’ tomb is still to be seen. Here ends the poem of Hervis, and begins that of Garin, according to N.

After supressing Richard of Normandy’s rebellion, Garin and Begon are sent by Pepin to reclaim Metz from Anseis, who has laid siege to the city after the burghers refused to pay him the tribute. In the meantime, Thierry and Alice, Hervis’ parents, have died.

The rest of the poem is essentially the same, albeit with many minor variants, up until the death of Garin, which is completely different.

Some time after the death of Guillaume de Blancafort and Thibaut of Plessis, Fromont, Fromondin, and their kin assemble on the borders of Lorraine. Fromondin rides into the city and slays some townsfolk under Garin’s window. Garin promises a reward to whoever slays Fromondin, which so excites his men that they do not bother arming before pursuing him out of the city. Only Garin, his son and his nephews are armed when they find Fromondin in the woods. Gerbert lays Fromondin on the ground, but before he can kill him, Guillaume de Monclin and the Bordelais spring out of hiding. Garin buys time for the lads to escape, but Guillaume slays him, after taunting him and accusing him of never giving his godson his promised fief. Once Garin is dead, the Bordelais follow the young Lorrainers to Metz, where four of Fromont’s ten sons are slain in a battle. The Lorrainers are victorious and send monks to the woods to fetch Garin’s body at Vespers. Garin is buried in Metz. Alice and Beatrice die of grief at his grave, and Gerbert buries his mother and his aunt in the church of Saint Stephen, swearing to avenge them all.

Let thus much suffice for the chanson of Garin the Lorrainer, and let us now turn to the histories in prose.

Book I, Canto XIV, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIV, Stanzas 1-20

Rinaldo kills the monster, but too late.
Angelica by moonlight slips away
To seek for succor, but is captured straight.
Meanwhile, in the garden of the fay
Orlando and the rest from their hard fate
Are rescued. Gallantly they make their way
Towards Albracca, where they see the camp,
But nothing can their ardent spirits damp.

You’ve heard already of the battle made
By Don Rinald, just risen from his bed,
And how the twisted monster threw the maid
Across his croup and with her swiftly fled.
You need not wonder if she felt afraid.
She trembled like a leaf, her face looked dead.
But still, as loudly as she could, she shouted
For aid from Don Rinaldo the redoubted.

The light-foot monster gallops on apace,
While the fair lady o’er his croup is spread.
Often he turns to her his ugly face,
And gripped her tightly as he onwards sped.
Rinaldo mounts his steed to give him chase,
And wishes that he had Baiard instead.
The beast already was so far away,
He thought no other horse would serve that day.

But when he held the bridle richly trimmed
Of the best horse which ever felt a spur,
He felt like he was carried by the wind.
Rides he or flies he? He is scarcely sure.
Nothing so fast has ever  hap’d to him.
All things before his eyes are but a blur.
Hills, mountains, valleys, plains, he looks on, just
Ere Rabicano leaves them in the dust.

And yet he hadn’t bent a blade of grass,
So lightly trod he wheresoe’er he’d gone,
And none could track the way that horse had passed,
Though sparkling dew had fallen with the dawn.
As thus he galloped on, unearthly fast,
Rinaldo came upon a river strong.
And as the one bank of the stream he nighed,
The centaur, wading though it, he espied.

The wicked monster did not wait a minute
When he arrived, but turning in the stream,
At once he threw the lovely lady in it,
And she was swept away along the bream.
Where she arrived, her ‘ventures nigh infinite,
I’ll tell you later on, but now it seems
The centaur, with this burden off his back
Is getting ready for Rinald’s attack.

Now in the stream begins a battle great,
With merciless assaults with strength and vim.
It’s true that Don Rinald has mail and plate,
And nought the centaur has except his skin,
But mighty is the monster, full of hate.
More tough than leather is the hide of him.
And the new horse of Montalbano’s lord
He almost matched for speed – within the ford.

The river came to Don Rinado’s knees,
The bed was treacherous and full of rocks.
The centaur swings his mighty mace with ease
But not for this is Don Rinaldo shocked.
He wields Fusberta skillfully and sees
Blood on it from the blade to pommel-block.
His shield is ruined by the mace’s blow,
But more than thirty times he’s pricked his foe.

The bloody monster fleeth to the shore.
Rinaldo follows as a brave knight ought.
He went a couple yards, or barely more
Before by Rabicano he was caught.
There in the field he lies, his life days o’er.
The Lord of Montalban now stands in thought.
He knows not where he is, or where to ride.
He’s lost the dame that should have been his guide.

Alone beside a forest vast he’s mired.
How large it was he had no way to tell.
His chance of finding passage through seems dire.
He thinks of turning back, his spirits quelled.
But so much do his heart and soul desire
To free the Count Orlando from his spell
That he resolves to carry on his quest,
Or else, in seeking, find eternal rest.

To Tramontana is his course now set,
Whither the lady was supposed to lead.
And on the way, beside a fountain met
A knight in armor, mounted on a steed,
But Turpin doesn’t tell what happened yet,
And rather turns to tell the noble deeds
Of Agricane, King of Tartary.
With Albracca’s ramparts trapped is he.

Though they have trapped him, ’tis his foes who quiver.
He wreaks destruction everywhere around.
The army of his foes to bits he shivers.
Albracca, you must know, was on strong ground,
On a tall rock, beside a mighty river,
The inner bank of which a rampart bounds.
With stone and water thus is feet the foot,
While at the peak the fortress proper’s put.

Above the river rose the towering walls,
Where turrets pleasure and defense afforded.
Orada was the mighty river called.
Summer or winter, it could not be forded.
The siege had made part of the rampart fall,
But the defenders hadn’t yet restored it,
Because the river was so swift and wide
They did not fear invasion from that side.

Now Agricane, as I’ve said before,
Was fighting bravely in the citadel;
King Sacripante and his men of war,
For all they tried, could not his spirit quell.
Their mighty feats, how nobly these two bore
Themselves, I do not need again to tell.
I left off, when a new brigade attacked
The valiant Agricane from the back.

The valiant king is not the least dismayed,
But turns around and roars his battle cry.
With both his hands he swings his bloody blade.
This ambush on the King of Tartary
A stout and battle-loving baron made:
The Turk Torindo, followed closely by
Many and many of his valiant Turks,
Not a man of them all his duty shirks.

The Tartar spurs Baiard into the Turks,
And splits and skewers them to left and right;
Now Sacripante, never known to shirk,
Follows his rival through the thickest fight.
Nor deer’s nor leopards’ limbs as swiftly work
As that Circassian kings, the truth to write.
King Agricane’s strength will not avail.
Against so many, even he must fail.

Thronged are the streets, the fight is far extended,
The men are packed so tight their mail can’t rattle.
The troops upon the walls have all descended,
And ev’ry man is rushing to the battle.
The wall is left with no one to defend it,
And those outside the walls, that massive rabble,
Some rushing though the gate, some climb the wall,
All crying: “Kill them, kill them, kill them all!”

They force back Sacripante, wounded sore,
And King Torindo back into the keep;
Angelica has entered long befroe,
And Trufaldino, who was first to creep.
All of his men have been destroyed by war;
Of the great death, no mortal words can speak.
Dead is Varano, and great Savaron,
King of the Medes, whose prowess oft had shone.

These two are slain as they defend the gate,
While the great battle rages on the plain.
Brunaldo likewise met a bitter fate.
By Radamanto’s hand has he been slain.
This Radamant sends to the next world straight
The bold Ungiano, beating out his brain.
A mighty phalanx he had led to war;
Not one of them will see their homes once more.

All of the city by its foes is ta’en;
Compassion never has been so well-founded.
Here and there the buildings are aflame,
The slaughter of the people was unbounded.
The keep alone above the strife remains,
On a high rock, by sturdy walls surrounded.
All of the city elsewhere is on fire,
And goes to ruin in a blazing pyre.

Angelica in desperation thinks
What she can do, caught in these dire straits.
Within the keep is neither food nor drink.
After a day, starvation for her waits.
If you had seen her cheek, so sweet and pink
All wet with tears, and heard her sad complaints,
Had you a lion’s or a dragon’s heart,
You would have filled with pity for her part.

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Notes to the Fourteenth Canto, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIV, Stanzas 1-20 Notes

10. Tramontana.  Literally meaning “Beyond the mountains,” and usually referring to a north wind (from across the Alps). Here it probably simply means “northward,” but editors capitalize it as if it were a proper name.
12. Orada. Seems to be imaginary.

Current Status of the Kings:
Agricane of Tartary
Radamanto of Moscow and Comana
Polifermo of Orgagna
Pandragone of Gothland
Argante of Russia
Lurcone of Norway
Santaría of Sweden
Brontino of Normany
Uldano of Denmark


Sacripante of Circassia.
Varano of Armenia – cut down by the rabble
Brunaldo of Trebisond – killed by Radamanto
Ungiano of Roase – killed by Radamanto
Savarone of Media – cut down by the rabble
Torindo of Turkey
Trufaldino of Babylon and Baghdad
Bordacco of Damascus – killed by Agricane


Book I, Canto XIII, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIII, Stanzas 41-58

Polindo did not dare to speak a word,
Lest with himself he make his lady die;
What agony he in his wrath endured,
With Trufaldin untouchable, though nigh.
That king soon parchment and a pen procured,
And bade the lady to her brother write,
Claiming by Don Polindo she’d been seized,
While she was riding underneath the trees.

And that as prisn’r she was being kept
Beneath three henchmen’s not-too-watchful eyes;
But if he swiftly to the greenwood sped,
Then all the four of them he could surprise;
And she’ll explain why overnight she fled..
That she had motives good, he’ll realize,
When she explains it was part of a plan
To save his life from Trufaldino’s hands.

The lady answers she would gladly die
Ere she betrayed her brother and her kin.
Though threats and pleasant speech by turns he tries,
She will not lay a finger on the pen.
The king into a fit of fury flies,
“Bring on the tortures!” he calls to his men.
Glowing-hot pincers he procured with haste,
And touched the gentle damsel on her face.

He tears into her cheek with red-hot steel.
She weeps not, speaks not, not an inch recoils;
Her blush alone betrays the pain she feels.
In agony, Polindo’s blood nigh boils.
He can do nought at all; his senses reel.
But to his lady, now as ever, loyal,
His noble spirit can endure no more.
For grief he falleth dead upon the floor.

The little book relateth all these things,
Though in far better words than my poor skill;
Rinaldo seemed to hear their voices ring,
And hear the lovers speak of love their fill,
And see their faces in that suffering.
Polindo grievéd not that he was killed,
But all for Albarosa was his woe,
And hers for him, they loved each other say.

As Don Rinaldo read the woeful tale,
Time and again his eyes were filled with tears;
His face was racked with grief and oft turned pale
With pity for these lovers’ woes and fears.
Again he swears that he will never fail
To venge King Trufaldino’s cru’lty fierce
And then this cavalier pursues his course
On Rabicano (such was named the horse).

Upon the same, Rinaldo rides with glee,
With him the lady on their journey swept.
Till, then the twilight gathered gloomily,
The two of them down from the saddle stepped.
Rinaldo slumbered underneath a tree,
And not far off from him the lady slept.
The spell of Merlin’s fountain so much sways
The Paladin, he’s lost his wonted ways.

A lovely lady sleepeth him beside,
And the bold baron simply doesn’t care.
The time has been when all the ocean wide
Would not have turned him from his course a hair.
A wall, a mountain he would have destroyed
To be united to a dame so fair.
But now to slumber only is he bent;
I cannot say if she was quite content.

The air already started growing bright,
Though not yet had the sun his head upraised.
With many stars the heavens yet were dight.
Amidst the boughs the birds sang joyous lays.
Though not yet day, it was no longer night.
The damsel on the bold Rinaldo gazed,
For though the rosy-fingered dawn was creeping
The baron still upon the grass was sleeping.

For he was at the age when youth is fairest,
Strong, and limber, with a lovely face,
Straight-limbed, and muscular from chest to bare wrist,
A handsome beard was growing on apace.
The damsel watches him with pleasure rarest.
She almost dies of pleasure in that place;
And in beholding him takes such delight,
She lists to nothing, heeds no other sight.

The lady nigh was from her senses rapt,
Watching that knight sleep on the forest floor,
But in that wild and dismal forest happed
To live a centaur, horrible and coarse.
You never saw a monster so unapt,
Because it had the body of a horse,
Up to its shoulders, but thereat began
The chest and head and members of a man.

This monster lived for nothing but the chase.
Through all that massive wasteland did he rove.
He bore three darts, a shield, and one large mace,
And went a-hunting over field and grove.
Today a mighty lion he embraced;
The half-dead beast within his arms he hove.
The lion roared, and made an awful sound,
Which made the damsel swiftly turn around.

And all at once the savage beast beheld
The beauty of the damsel, and he thought
That if Rinaldo he could only kill,
Then ’twixt him and the lady would stand naught.
The damsel cries aloud both sharp and shrill,
“O King of Heaven, help before I’m caught!”
Her shouting woke Rinaldo from his sleep,
To see a centaur right before him leap.

Rinaldo starteth up and grabs his shield,
Though by the giant it’s been sorely mangled.
The centaur, with his hatred unconcealed,
Throws down the lion which he erst had strangled.
Rinaldo chased the brute across the field,
Which galloped of a ways, then turned and jangled
Its darts, then lifted one and let it fly;
Rinaldo watches with unblinking eye

As the dart missed him by a decent breadth.
Another dart at him the centaur sped.
His helmet saves Rinald from certain death,
For this one glances off his armored head.
The last is thrown no better than the rest,
But still the centaur’s hopes are far from fled.
He lifts his massive wooden club amain
And gallops angrily across the plain,

With such velocity and rapid speed,
Rinaldo starts to think he’s up a crick.
He realizes all his skill he’ll need.
The monster reaches him and strikes so quick,
He has no time to mount his late-won steed.
It runs him round so fast he’s nearly sick.
To stand against the pine he is not slack,
So that the might trunk will guard his back.

That hideous and odd mis-shapen man
Is leaping, darting in with speed intense,
But the good prince, who has Fusbert in hand
Keeps him at bay, till slightly he relents.
The centaur sees he’ll have to change his plan,
Since Don Rinaldo makes such good defense.
He turns his head and sees the lady bright,
Who for pure terror had gone wholly white.

Immediately Rinaldo he forsakes.
Across his back he slings the damosel,
Whose face turns icy and whose body shakes.
The fate in store for her she knows too well.
This canto’s long enough. No more I’ll make,
Until next time, when I’ll the story tell
Of this fair dame, and, as I said before
Of Sacripant and Agrican once more.

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Notes to the Thirteenth Canto, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIII, Stanzas 41-58 Notes

57: Prince. Rinaldo is married to Clarice, sister of King Ivone of Gascony, but here the title is a mere courtesy.


The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 11: Origins of the Legend

Aymon’s Brothers

Bueves d’Aigremont was apparently invented for this chanson. No historical basis, nor is he known earlier. His wife is called Lanfusa in Boiardo, though this is usually the name of Ferraguto’s mother. The Italian Cantari di Rinaldo calls her Smeragda [Emerald]. Girart of Rousillon is based on Count Girart II of Paris, who also inspired Girart of Vienne and Girart of Eufrate. Doon of Nanteuil was known before the Quatre Fils, but was not historical, and does not seem to have been linked with Aymon before this poem.


There are several Aigremonts in France. The most likely contenders are:

Aigremont, on the far side of Troyes from Paris, and not too far from Roussillon.

Aigremont, in the Haute-Marne.

Aigremont, in the Yonne.

Aigremont, on the Meuse, in Belgium.

However, all the foregoing are small hamlets, and Aigremont in the poem is a rich city, on the sea, apparently near Lombardy.

Aymon of Dordonne and his wife

There was a King Aimo of Saragossa in the Middle Ages, but he was a Muslim who probably never saw France. Louis the Pious appointed another Aimo to be governor of Albi. A Duke Haimo is mentioned as living under Clodovech II (r. 639-657), but he had only one son, who predeceased him. A Count Haymo was alive in 863, of whom nothing is known.

The wife of Aymon and the mother of the Four Sons is named Aye in most manuscripts of the Quatre Fils, (DPNCLMV) though usually simply referred to as “la duchesse.” O consistently and A occasionally call her Hermanjart, though this name is probably taken from the wife of Aymeri of Narbonne. ZM call her Marguerite, in which they are followed by Caxton. In the Orlando Innamorato and Furioso she is called Beatrice and made to be the sister of Ogier the Dane’s wife Ermelline. The Dutch poem and its descendants call the duchess Aya and make her the sister of Charlemagne and daughter of Pepin. This relationship is alluded to in passing in some of the manuscripts of Les Quatre Fils, (DP, for example) though no emphasis is placed on it. In reality, Charlemagne had several half-sisters, of whom almost nothing is known, but his only full sister, the only one with whom he had any sort of relationship, was Gisela, who entered the nunnery of Chelle in her youth and as far as we know died a virgin.

In the Oxford Roland, Hamon [=Aymon] of Galice and Rembalt lead the Flemings and Frisians against Baligant. The Karlamagnussaga’s First Branch, doubtless based on a lost French source, tells how these two met and became sworn friends. Aymon marries Aye, the daugher of the Count of Laon and widow of the wicked Varner of Pierrepont, whom Rembalt had slain in a duel. In the Dutch Renout, Aymon the father of the Four Sons holds Pierrepont as well as Dordonne, and his wife Aye is the daughter of Charlemagne. [There are several Pierreponts, but this is the one in Aisne]. Is there a connection here? We will never know for sure. Continue reading


Book I, Canto XIII, Part 2

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

At last he lays himself upon the ground,
Sprawled out and motionless, and dead he seemed.
The bird immediately hurried down
Like one who such a trap has never seen,
And with his talons clutched Rinaldo round.
The nerves of Don Rinaldo are so keen
That he no sooner felt the monster’s claws,
He swung his sword around without a pause.

Where the wing joined the body Rinald pressed,
And muscle, nerve, and bone Fusberta rent;
The wing fell off, upon the ground to rest,
But not yet did the savage beast relent.
With both its foreclaws it attacked his breast,
Cuirass and plate and mail were all to-shent;
So fierce with one and th’other claw he tore,
The knight was sure his life would soon be o’er.

But still for victory the baron tries;
Now in the chest he strikes it, now the flanks,
And strikes so much, at last he makes it die.
Rinaldo stands once more upon his shanks.
Great peril he’s escaped, it is no lie.
To God he humbly offers praise and thanks;
And then he bids the lady ride him to,
For all the pains and danger now are through.

But Don Rinaldo had beheld the place
Wherein was kept the magic, wind-born horse.
If to its end this path he could not trace,
Then all his life ’twould fill him with remorse.
’Neath the cliff’s horrible and jagged face
The gallant champion boldly set his course.
A hundred steps he did not take before
He found a massive, carven marble door.

With fine enamel was the door o’erspread,
And pearls and em’ralds set there in such wise
Of such a door you never heard or read.
No work e’er known was of so great a price.
Laid behind crystal was a lady, dead,
And golden letters round her were incised:
“Swear to avenge me, thou who passest by,
Or else a death unknightly mayst thou die.

“But he who sweareth to avenge my wrong,
And slay the man by whom I was betrayed,
To him the magic destrier shall belong,
Which leaves the wind behind, so fast its gait.”
Rinaldo doesn’t hesitate for long,
But knelt at once. His vow to God he made,
That if his life and all his strength remain,
He will avenge the wrongly-slaughtered dame.

And then he entered in and saw the steed,
Kept by no stall-door, but by chains of gold.
All things were there a rider e’er could need,
Its coverlet fell down in silken folds.
The horse was black as an obsidian bead,
Save a white spot upon his forehead bold,
And one white patch, close by his tail, forsooth,
And his right foreleg, just above the hoof.

No horse surpasseth him in all the lands.
The great Baiardo is his only peer,
Who still is sung throughout the whole of France.
Baiard is stronger, smarter, without fear,
But swiftest doth this Rabican advance.
Slung stones and darts o’ertake not this destrier.
Nor birds in flight, nor arrows from a bow,
Nor any other thing can faster go.

Rinald is rapt out of this world for bliss,
That such a lofty quest fell to his lot.
But to the chain attached a small book is,
Writ not with sable ink, but crimson blood.
All the sad story is contained in this,
The woeful tale, for all to read who would,
Of the dead lady lying in the door,
How she untimely died; by whom; wherefore.

The book related how King Trufaldin,
The false and wicked ruler of Baghdad,
To neighbor had a Count, in battle keen,
Ardent and frank, and virtues all he had;
So highly praised he was, he long had been
Wholly despisèd by this monarch bad.
Don Orisello was this baron  named,
As Montefalcon was his castle famed.

Don Orisello had a sister fair,
Who of all women was the crown and flower.
He face and body’s comeliness were rare.
If grace, and loveliness, and virtue’s power
Reached not their peak in her, they did nowhere.
She loved a knight was stalwart in the stour,
Of noble blood, and courteous and kind;
A better baron could you nowhere find.

The sun, who views the whole world at a glance,
Saw not on earth a pair of truer lovers,
More virtuous, more fair, more blessed by chance.
One will they had; one gentle love them covered.
From day to day their happy love advanced.
Now Trufaldin loved making war on others,
But Montefalcone could he never siege,
For it was strong and safe beyond belief.

Upon a massive, awe-inspiring rock,
(The path a mile long from base to height)
The walls were built, as if the world to mock;
Nor was this all that gave the castle might.
A great, vast, steep, and treach’rous moat there blocked
The way, and ringed the hill on ev’ry side.
Every path which to the castle ran
Had three watchtowers and a barbican.

The caution to his castle dedicated
Was worthy Orisello, for he feared
King Trufaldino and by him was hated.
Often with siegers he the fortress neared,
And ev’ry time he shamefully retreated.
This foul monarch at all goodness jeered,
But then he chanced to meet a knight who loved
Count Orisello’s sister, life above.

Polindo was the worthy baron hight,
And Albarosa hight the lady fair.
Joy she had, much as any human might
So much she was beloved, such love she bare.
Now on a day, this loving errant-knight
Seeking adventure, did at random fare,
Roving through lands and men of ev’ry sort,
At last he came to Trufaldino’s court.

King Trufaldino was a wicked traitor,
But ev’ry mood he perfectly could feign;
To Don Polindo no one could show greater
Favor, or speak so courteously amain.
Would he make war? He’ll be a co-invader.
Is he in Love? He’ll help him win his dame.
What variegated wonders Love can do!
Love fears all things; believes in all things, too!

Who, other than Polindo, would believe
This wicked, foul, breaker of his faith,
Who had so many knights ere this deceived?
The knight heeds not the words that any saith,
But gratefully the offers he received,
And thinks his lady love at last he hath.
He feels her lips already on his cheek.
Of nought else can he think; he scarce can speak.

After the lady has been asked in vain
To leave the gate ajar and let him in,
She swears to meet Polindo on the plain
One quiet night and run away with him.
Thereto she plights her troth, and he again
Pledges that he will serve her ev’ry whim,
If she will come and be his weded wife,
To live in joy together all their life.

All is arranged; prepared the fatal night.
Now Trufaldin had graciously bestowed
On Don Polind a fort for his delight,
A day from Montefalcon by the road.
Hither there came, without the least respite
The knight and lady, who with true love glowed.
With mirth and laughter sat they down to eat,
When Trufaldino burst on their retreat.

O wayward Fortune, fickle and untrue,
Who never wished happiness to last!
Below the ground a tunnel had been hewn
Which from without into the fortress passed.
And Trudaldino well this faucebray knew;
All gifts he gave turned to his gain at last.
While thus the lovers dined and of love spoke,
King Trufaldin them seized without one stroke.

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Notes to the Thirteenth Canto, Part 2

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

30. Montefalcon. No connection to the infamous gibbet of Montfaucon in France, or any other places of this name.
40: Faucebray: Secret passage.


Notes to the Thirteenth Canto, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIII, Stanzas 1-20 Notes

9: Surqidry: Pride.

Back to Part 1