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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The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 6: The Grand Prose, and Modern Adaptations

The Rhymed Remainement of the Quatre Fils was turned into prose for Jean V of Créquy (1395-1474), chamberlain of Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy, and finished November 12, 1462. It was begun well beforehand, since David Aubert’s abridged version of volumes 2 and 3 was finished in 1458.  Perhaps David Aubert wrote this version, too. The Grand Prose consists of the following versions.

Lf: BN fr. 19,173-19,177. (Jean le Faron) Five volumes.

Pm: Bib. Du Comte de Schönbron in Pommersfelden, 311-312. Two volumes, incomplete.

Am: Arsenal 5,072 – 5,075 and Munich, Gall. 7. Five volumes in two different libraries.

David Aubert’s Chroniques et Conquestes de Charlemagne. Includes an abridged version, stopping short before the martyrdom.

The version in the Bibliotheque Universelle des Romans, by Antoine-René de Voyer d’Argenson, Marquis de Paulmy.

The story begins with a mise en prose of Maugis d’Aigremont, down to the baptism of Vivien and Esclarmonde, after which Bueves and his men return home. Volume 2 (in the 5 volume sets) opens with the death of Espiet, after which Maugis gives Baiard to Renaud. Bueves’ death is treated very briefly, with a comment that it will not be treated in full. It then covers Renaud’s wars as in the Rhymed Remainement down to his vow to go to Jerusalem. Volume 3 covers the crusade. Volume 4 deals with the death of Renaud and the wars which followed it. At one point in these wars, Marsile is besieging Angorie, and Roland cuts off his nose. Volume 5 tells how Maugis and Renaud’s brothers were killed, and how they were avenged, as in the RR, concluding with the story of Mabrien, who is the son of King Yon of Jerusalem and his wife Aiglentine, but is kidnapped one night and sold to the Admiral Barré, who raises him as a valiant knight. Mabrien learns his true identity and goes ot France to seek his father Yon of Montalban. There he learns that his father is King of Jerusalem, and travels thither, winning the kingdom by his strength. Among his many adventures, he is shipwrecked on the Isle of Adamant [in adventures copied from those of Huon and Ogier], and meets King Arthur, Cain, and various fairies. Mabrien eventually begets a son named Regnaudin, who has a son named Aimon.

The text focuses more on emotional states than the RR does, and there is a hint of the Renaissance pedantry which will shortly arrive to ruin European prose for centuries.

MODERN RETELLINGS

The following list does not pretend to be exhaustive.

Bibliotheque Universelle des Romans

The July 1778 issue of the BUR was devoted to an abridgment of the story of Renaud and his family as found in Am, by the Marquis of Paulmy and the Count of Tressan. Paulmy, the main writer, also drew on Ar, A, and various chapbooks. He greatly trimmed the adventures of Renaud in the Holy Land and expanded the Ardennes War and the Martyrdom. The story of Bueves is gone, as are the treason of Vaucoleurs, and most of the sieges of Montauban and the entirety of Tremoigne. The horse race stays; the four sons of Ripeus are reduced to two. Since the siege of Tremoigne is gone, Renaud hands over Baiard to the Emperor at Montauban. Charles then takes the horse all the way to Tremoigne to throw him into the Meuse. Maugis only has the power to work his magic for Renaud thrice: stealing the swords of the Peers, enchanting them into the castle, and kidnapping Charles.

Others

Bulfinch’s Mythology: Legends of Charlemagne. 1863. The many faults of Thomas Bulfinch must be a subject for another post, but he is unfortunately still one of the two best introductions to Carolingian legend, as a whole, in English. His section on “Rinaldo” in “The Peers, or Paladins” starts with the story of how Rinaldo won Baiard, which is from Torquato Tasso’s Rinaldo. A brief summary of his service with King Ivo and the building of Montalban follows, which ignores Clarice. Bulfinch places the Innamorato and Furioso next in his book, and resumes Rinaldo’s story proper after Roncesvalles. Rinaldo commits “a slight offense” against Charlemagne’s son Charlot, and is obliged to take refuge in Montalban [Charlot cannot die here, because Bulfinch will later have him be killed by Huon of Bordeuax]. The story of the capture of all three of his brothers, his loss of Baiard and his succor by Malagigi disguised as a pilgrim follows, all according to the Germano-Dutch version, only that Charlot is still alive, and takes Roland’s place in the recovery of Baiard. The next chapter, “Death of Rinaldo,” picks up at the starvation of the brothers in Montalban, continuing to follow the Germano-Dutch. Rinaldo’s mother Aya intercedes for him with Charlemagne. Charlot, not Charles, tries to drown Baiard, and actually succeeds! Rinaldo’s pilgrimage and martyrdom follow the Germano-Dutch. It is a mystery for the ages where Bulfinch learned this story. He lived in the days before writers cited their sources routinely, and he only says in his introduction that he used “[Pulci, Boiardo and Ariosto], the “Romans de Chevalerie” of the Comte de Tressan; lastly, certain German collections of popular tales.”

Histoire des Quatre Fils Aymon, Tres nobles et tres valiants chevaliers. 1883, illustrated by Eugene Grasset, in full color. Can be found on Gallica here. I am not sure where the text is from.

Maugis Ye Sorcerer, by Frederick Henri Seymour, 1898. Despite its name, this is actually a retelling of the Quatre Fils, only the author has switched the names of Renaud and Maugis. The title and introduction suggest that the story will be a burlesque, but there is little trace thereof in the actual text. Evidently from a chapbook, as the Saxon King at the beginning is called “Guesdelin le Fene [the Sluggard]” instead of “le Saisne [the Saxon];” Clarice is renamed Yolande; Renaud and Maugis drown in a duel with Pinabel, instead of being martyred, etc.

Histoire des Quatre Fils Aymon, Tres nobles et tres valiants chevaliers. 1908, illustrated by Robida. A fancy edition printed for the Librairie Moderne. A modernized version of the printed editions of 1480 and 1493, with delightful Romantic woodcuts. Sadly does not seem to be on the internet.

 

There are a multitude of locations in the Low Countries which are named after the Four Sons, Baiard, and Maugis, and many statues and paintings of them are to be seen there.

Statues of Baiard and the Four Sons were carried in parades in the Low Countries as early as the 1400’s.

To this day, puppeteers in the north of France and the Low Countries perform, among others, the play of the Four Son of Aymon, with various modernizations. For example, the Four Sons were used as symbols of the Resistance during World War II, and after the War it was popular to play Charlemagne as a caricature of Charles de Gaulle.

The notices given of Saint Reinold in collections of lives of the saints are often very inadequate. The Oxford Book of Saints, for example, hardly has a true statement in its summary. Thurston and Attwater’s revision of Butler is not much better.

APPENDIX: ROLDAN AL PIE DE LA TORRE

(ROLAND AT THE FOOT OF THE TOWER)

A Hispanic ballad, surviving only in a few very short, corrupt versions of what was doubtless once a much longer story.

Rondale paces in a light rain, with a gold falcon on his wrist, crying “Who will aid me?” He intends to kill the King of France and his men, and marry his daughter. He comes to the castle of Count Argile [Ogier], a lord of great strength.

I mention this ballad here because in some manuscripts of La Quatre Filz Aymon, when Charlemagne refuses to make peace with Renaud to save the life of Richard of Normandy, a disgusted Roland threatens to leave him, saying “Ogier, what will you do? Will you come with me? Let us leave this foolish old dotard.” I suspect (though I haven’t found it in any professional scholars) that there may be some connection between these two passages, but I cannot prove it.

The Legend of Count Claros

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE THIRD ITALIAN REDACTION

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

BUOVO RICCARDIANO

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

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

BUOVO DI GHERARDO

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

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

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

THE FOURTH ITALIAN REDACTION

BOVO D’ANTONA – the version of 1497

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

BOVO-BUCH

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

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

UNKNOWN REDACTION 

CELINOS AND THE ADULTERESS

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

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

St. George for England – Added Verses

Le Sieur de Bayard held a bridge and never once did shirk.
Don John of Austria, he thumped and thrashed the Turk.
St. Michael and St. Catherine appeared to Joan of Arc.
Scanderbeg and Sobieski always hit their mark.
Ferdinand and Isabella took Alhambra Hall,
But Saint George, Saint George, he made the dragon fall!
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.
As for the heroes listed, le Sieur de Bayard was a French knight in the 1500’s, who was known as the “Good Knight without Fear and without Reproach”. (He has no connection to Bayard, the steed of Rinaldo). You can read some of his adventures in The Red True Story Book by Andrew Lang. Don Juan of Austria led the Christian fleets against the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1591, which saved Christendom from Islam (temporarily, at least). You can read a magnificent ballad about the fight (better by far than anything I’ll ever write) by G. K. Chesterton, here. Joan of Arc is universally known, but many people have misconceptions about her. A good and accurate summary of her life can be found in Lang’s Red True Story Book. Skanderbeg, born George Castriot, heroically defended Albania and Christendom against the encroaching Turks from 1443 to his death in 1468. Longfellow’s poem Scanderbeg is about that hero’s defection from the Turks (he had been born Christian but raised as a Janissary) to rejoin the true Faith. King John III Sobieski of Poland rescued Vienna from the Turks who were besieging it in 1683, thereby breaking the power of the Ottoman Empire and putting Islam on the defensive for the next three hundred years. He arrived to save the day on September 11th, (probably not a coincidence), and actually raised the siege on the 12th, a feat commemorated in the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Ferdinand and Isabella, king and queen of Spain, completed the reconquest of that country from the Moors in 1492, when they conquered Granada from King Boabdil, a feat which gave Spain the unity and security she needed to bring the Catholic Faith to the New World. Lord Byron’s “Ballad on the Siege and Conquest of Alhama” is not about the final loss, but about an earlier one. Some ballads on Boabdil have been Englished, however, by John Lockhart and by James Gibson, and may be found in their Ancient Spanish Ballads, and The Cid Ballads and other Poems, respectively.
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.

Bevis of Hampton 5: The Italian Version, First Redaction

The legend of Bevis of Hampton is extant in three great families of redactions: the Anglo-Norman, the Continental French, and the Italian. The Italian family consists of the following versions.

The Italian family consists of the following versions.

THE FIRST ITALIAN REDACTION

Buovo d’Antona, in Franco-Italian assonanced decasyllables. Only surviving manusccript is part of the Geste Francor. Beginning lost, down to Bovo’s return to England and war with Do. Best edition is La Geste Francor, edited by Leslie Zarker Morgan. I refer you to Arlima for earlier editions.

I Reali di Francia: an Italian compilation of Carolingian legends, by Andrea da Barberino. Bevis’ story is in books IV and V. An abridged translation by Max Wickert can be found on his website, here.

Buovo d’Antona, in prose. Only a fragment survives as an independent work. Bib. Ricc. 1030. To be found in Pio Rajna’s “Frammenti di redazioni italiane del Buovo d’Antona. II. Avanzi di una versione tosca in prosa (continuaz. e fine) », Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, 15, 1891, p. 47-87.” Runs from the beginning to Buovo’s rescue of Drusiana from Marcabruno.

THE SECOND ITALIAN REDACTION

Bovo d’Antona, in pure Italian rhymed decasyllables. Survives only in fragments. The largest fragment, the Laurenziano, is to be found in Rajna’s misleadingly titled work I reali di Francia. [Volume I:] Ricerche intorno ai reali di Francia, seguite dal libro delle storie di Fioravante e dal cantare di Bovo d’Antona. An analysis comes first, and the Buovo is stuck in at the end. Runs from Brandoria’s message to Dodo of Maganza to Drusiana’s meeting with Malgaria.

The other, much shorter, fragments of the rhymed Bovo, known as the Udinese fragments, are currently lost, but were printed by Rajna in « Frammenti di redazioni italiane del Buovo d’Antona. I. Nuovi frammenti franco-italiani », Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, 11, 1887, p. 153-184. Runs from Do of Magance’s conquest of Hampton to after Buovo’s fight with Marcabrun.

Buovo d’Antona di 1480, in ottava rima. The only edition is Daniela Delcorno Branca’s Buovo d’Antona. Cantari in ottava rima (1480).

Bova Karolovich. Or Bova Korolevich , meaning “Prince Bova”. The Russian versions, which reached that country near the end of the 1500’s. There are five major redactions of the manuscripts and of the chapbooks based on them, each one more Russianized than the last in style. From these the story passed into oral tradition and is found in several collections of Russian folktales and ballads, where one would never guess it was not a native production if one didn’t know. I have read that the story is also known in several of Russia’s neighbors, but I cannot find any details. A chapbook version was translated by Robert Steele in The Russian Garland. A shorter, folklore version is to be found in Russian Wondertales II. Tales of Magic and the Supernatural, an absurdly expensive book by Jack Haney which is Volume 4 of his series The Complete Russian Folktale.

THE THIRD ITALIAN REDACTION, being a combination of the Italian and the Third French.

Buovo Riccardiano. Fragments of ottava rima. Not printed, so far as I know.

Buovo d’Antona by Gherardo. Ottava rima, in three books, of which only the second survives. Also not printed.

THE FOURTH ITALIAN REDACTION, being a combination of the First and Second Redactions with details from French sources, and several new adventures.

Buovo Palatino. A MS fragment that appears to have been from a text similar to the following.

Buovo d’Antona di Guidone Palladino. Rezunto e Reviso. (Bevis of Hampton, son of the Paladin Guidone, abridged and revised) in Ottava Rima, as first printed in 1497. This was frequently reprinted and became the standard Italian version.

Bovo Boek, a Yiddish poem, in ottava rima, by Elia Levita, from the Italian. Published 1541, though written 1507. Translated into English prose in Early Yiddish Epic, by Jerold Frakes. An earlier translation by Jerry Christopher Smith, published under the title Elia Levita Bachur’s “Bovo-Buch”, is so inaccurate that it is more honestly described as a retelling.

UNKNOWN REDACTION

Celinos y la Adultera. Also called La Caza de Celinos. A Spanish ballad, from some form of the Italian, these being the only ones where, as in the ballad, Brandoria sits at her mirror admiring herself. The titles mean “Celinos and the Adulteress” and “The hunt of Celinos”, respectively.

THE GESTE FRANCOR

A Franco-Italian chanson, in assonanced decasyllables, found in one MS: Marc. Fr. XIII, containing Bovo d’Antona (Part 1), Bertha Broad-Foot, Bovo Part 2, Karleto, Berta e Milone, Enfances Ogier, Orlandino, Chevalerie Ogier, and Macario.

[The beginning is lost] Bovo has Clarença, which Druxiana gave him. Do de Magançe is besieging San Simon. Synibaldo’s wife recognizes Bovo. Now he and Terigi disguise themselves as physicians to enter Antona, where they make alliance with one Uberto de la Cros, and rouse the citizens. He sends Do off on a palfrey, who returns to Magançe. He locks his mother, Brandoia, in a small room where she can hear Mass said. The news of his victory runs to Sydonia, to Braidamont, who writes to Bovo, requesting him to come back and marry her. Meanwhile, Druxiana has been for seven years wandering as a minstrel with her sons Synibaldo and Guion, and has come to Armenia, where she does not reveal herself, but is taken into favor anyway, for her talent. Braidamont, despite the fact that Bovo killed her brother Luchafer, wishes to marry him, and sends a messenger, offering to convert. Bovo agrees to wed her, and travels to Sydonia, where Druxiana also comes and reveals herself in song. [Pulican was killed by lions, the song says]. Braidamont is married to Teris, and Bovo and his family return home to Hampton. Do, meanwhile, has persuaded King Pepin of France to send messengers to Hampton demanding the release of Brandoia. The messenger is Garner, son of Brandoia and Do. Bovo refuses, and threatens war.

[The story of Bertha Broad-foot follows. Bovo resumes afterward.]

Pepin, son of King Angelo, leads Aquilon of Bavaria, Bernardo of Clermon, Do of Magançe, his brother Albrigo, and others against Bovo, against the advice of all his non-Maganzan advisors. Bovo sends for aid to Teris, who comes. Negotiations fail, and fighting begins. Teris kills Albrigo, Bovo captures Aquilon and Bernardo. They are received hospitably in Hampton, while Bovo kills Do, and then captures Pepin. Bovo releases his prisoners on condition they send their sons, Names of Bavaria and little Charles, as hostages. They do so, the war is ended, and Bovo releases his hostage-children. Teris goes home to Sydonia, and there are seven years of peace. At that time, however, Bovo’s uncle, king Guielme of England invites him to his son Folcon’s wedding, to a daughter of an emir. The prince offers to buy Rundel [there is no race] but is refused, for Bovo is too fond of him, and remembers how Druxiana had fed him for three years while he languished in Syndonia. Folcon tries to steal Rundel, who kills him. The King wishes to hang the horse, but is content to send Bovo on pilgrimage to Jerusalem instead. Bovo leaves his wife, children, and city in the care of Synibaldo, and departs. As he is visiting the Holy Sepulchre, the Persian Corcher [Khosroes?] arrives to besiege it. Bovo succors the city and converts Corcher and all his people. Baldechin, however, the son of Corcher, will not convert, and Bovo slays him in a duel. He gets lost pursuing the fleeing Paynims, and comes to a cave wherein a dragon lives. He slays the dragon, and returns to Jerusalem. Once the four years of his exile are fulfilled, he returns to England, and tells his wife all the story.

[Here the story ends, and the MS moves on to Karleto]

I REALI DI FRANCIA

This is the form in which the legend was known to Boiardo.

Guido d’Antona weds the daughter of King Ottone de Bordeaux, in Gascony, and begets Buovo within a year. He is named after Bovetto. His tutor, no relation to him, is Sinibaldo dall Rocca a San Simone [of Saint Simon’s Rock]. Sinibaldo’s wife is Luzia, his son Teris. Luzia suckles Buovo until he is seven years old(!), and sends him home to his father at ten. By then, his mother Brandoria is twenty-four, and very annoyed that her husband is old and feeble. She sits in front of the mirror and remembers how Guido had once killed Count Rinieri of Maganza, who left two sons: Duodo [Doon de Mayence] and Alberigo, who are now about thirty-five, and both unwed. She sends her servant Antonio “Gascon” to Duodo, who comes with eight thousand knights. Meanwhile, Brandoria pretends to be pregnant and to have a craving for wild boar. On August 1st, she persuades Guido to go to the hunt without his armor, so as to be quicker. Duodo kills Guido, and takes Antona after a slight battle. In the confusion, Buovo, aged eleven, hides into the stables, where Sinibaldo finds him. Duodo catches them as they try to escape, and Brandoria locks Buovo in a chamber. Duodo dreams that he is killed by a lion cub, and orders Buovo dead. Brandoria serves him poisoned bread, but the maid warns the lad, who refuses to eat it. She then sets him free, and he flees to Amusafol, on the coast. His mother tells Duodo he is dead. They have a son, Gailone, and Duodo lays siege to Sinibaldo in San Simone.

Buovo is taken about by sailors, and calls himself Agostino. He is sold, by his will, to King Erminione of Erminia [lesser Armenia, in Turkey today]. He serves and carves there for five years, until he speaks the language like a native. He tames Rondello, who has been chained for seven years. Drusiana begins to fall in love with him [she is fourteen, he sixteen], asks him to dance, kisses him under the table when he kneels to pick up the knife she dropped on purpose, and summons him to her bedroom, where he flees her seductions. A year passes, during which Buovo refuses to admit that he loves her. When Buovo is seventeen, King Erminione holds a tournament to find a husband for Drusiana. King Marcobruno of Polonia [not Poland] is favored to win, but Buovo “borrows” armor and a lance, and, riding Rondello, overthrows Marcobrun and slips away. Only Drusiana recognizes him. She summons him that evening, the first time they’ve spoke in a year.

Meanwhile, the King of Buldras has a son, Lucafero, who wishes to wed Drusiana. He arrives with fifty thousand soldiers just as the tourney ends. In the ensuing battle, Lucafero captures Erminione, his brother Ugolino, and Marcobrun. Drusiana arms and dubs Buovo, giving him a sword which used to be Sir Lancelot’s. Some English knights had brought it here. His shield bears the arms of his father Guido. They are engaged, and Buovo reveals his identity. He then kills Lucafero, and reveals his true identity to the king. After the celebrations, Ugolino walks in on Buovo and Drusiana kissing, and calls Drusiana a whore, whereupon Buovo beats him. Erminione decides to give Drusiana to Buovo, so Ugolino and Marcobrun make a plan. Ugolino lies in the king’s bed, and pretends to be the king, dictating to a scribe a “kill-the-bearer” letter for Buovo to take to Lucafero’s father. Buovo leaves Rondello behind, but takes his sword Chiarenza [Clarence]. He finds Sinella in Ischiavonia [Slavonia]. But, on the way, a thief drugs him and steals his horse and sword. Buovo does not break any idols on his arrival, but is still imprisoned. The king’s daughter, Margalia, hears his lament. There are no snakes or dragons in the dungeon, but she brings him out of it and hides him in a much more comfortable tower. For three years and four months she brings him food, trying to win his love, but in vain.

After two years, Erminione has decided Buovo probably is gone for good, and betroths Drusiana to Marcobrun. She agrees to marry him if Buovo does not return in one more year. She spends that year in his country, with where cousin Fiorigio, with Rondello, and with a slave named Pulicane, who is a dog from the waste down and a man from the waist up, talks like a man and runs like a dog. He was the son of a Christian lady of Cappadocia, who married the Turkish King of Liguria, on condition that he convert. Instead, he stripped her and threw her to his dog, whence Pulicane. Naturally, they keep him chained.

Buovo has been in Sinella for three years and four months. Since he won’t starve to death, they decide to kill him. He overcomes the two guards-turned-assassins and escapes. He persuades sailors to take him to Constantinople, and kills King Baldras’ nephew Alibrun, who had pursued him to the ship. They sail by Polonia, where Buovo hears the news of Drusiana. He stays there, meets the pilgrim who robbed him, and recovers Chiarenza. Two merchants give him food, but flee when he mentions Buovo’s name. A lady takes him to Drusiana’s palace, where he fights the cooks, kills the seneschal, and meets Fiorigi, who takes him to Rondello and Drusiana. Buovo, still in disguise, tells her that he met Buovo in prison, and that he is now married to Margalia. Drusiana weeps so loudly at this that Marcabruno comes in to ask what’s wrong, and is put off with an excuse about the palmer’s life-story being so sad. They hear Rondello neighing, and Buovo is able to tame him, whereupon Drusiana and Fiorigi [Boniface] recognize him. They escape that night, and ride for Montefeltrone, the castle of Duke Canoro, who hates King Marcabruno.

In the morning, King Marcabruno is furious, summarily executes Fiorigi, and sends Pulicane to bring back Drusiana. Pulicane finds Buovo and Drusiana sleeping, Buovo and Pulicane fight, but Drusiana reconciles them, and they are received warmly at Montefeltrone. Marcabruno follows and lays siege. In a sally, Buovo kills Duke Sanguino, but Canoro is captured. After eight months have gone by, Marcabruno releases him, on promise that he will give his sons Lione and Lionido as hostages, and will betray Buovo. The duchess sends her sons as hostages, welcomes her husband, and is horrified at his proposal to betray their guests. He begins to beat her, and her cries alarm Pulicane, who comes, listens to their arguing long enough to learn about the treason (but not about the hostages), and then kills Canoro. He, Buovo, and Drusiana flee. They kill some commissariats of King Baldras of Sinolla’s on the way, for that king is on his way to help Marcabruno. The duchess surrenders the castle soon after. Meanwhile, Drusiana, in the middle of the forest, gives birth to twins: Guidone and Sinibaldo. They are hopelessly lost, however, and Buovo leaves to scout ahead for help. He finds a river and a merchant ship, who agree to wait for him for a day. While he was gone, however, Pulicane went out hunting, was badly mauled by lions, and Drusiana fled with the children for terror. Buovo returns to find a dying Pulicane, who does not know Drusiana is still alive. He baptizes the cynocephalus, and buries him when he dies shortly after. He then sadly returns to the merchants. Drusiana has gotten there first, however, and left with them, thinking Buovo dead. She comes to Armenia, but does not reveal herself to anyone.

Buovo, luckily, finds another ship, captained by Terigi of the Rock of San Simone, son of Sinibaldo. Terigi recognizes Buovo’s arms [red lion on blue field, with silver stripes], but Buovo conceals his identity, calling it a strange coincidence, and gives his name as Agostino. They return to the Rock, where one Riccardo of Conturbia becomes jealous of him, but is reconciled after losing in a tournament. Sinibaldo is still at war with Duodo of Magazna, lord of Antona, and after an inconclusive skirmish, they return to the Rock. Now Buovo’s nurse recognizes him, and to prove it, tells Sinibaldo to urge Buovo to bathe, and to look for the red cross on his shoulder. Buovo tries to conceal it, but at last reveals his identity. Now he and Terigi disguise themselves as physicians to enter Antona, where they make alliance with one Ruberto dalle Croce, rouse the citizens, and take Duodo, Alberigo, Brandoria, and Duodo and Brandoria’s son Galione prisoners. Buovo keeps his mother prisoner but lets the others go. They go straight to King Pepin of France, who goes to war against Buovo. In the war, Alberigo and Duodo are killed, and Pepin taken prisoner. Peace is made, Brandoria is executed, and Pepin grants Buovo and his descendants independence from every emperor and king. King William of England, Pepin, and Buovo next go to succor Princess Margaria, who is besieged by King Druano of Syria. Druano flees, and Buovo intends to wed Margaria. He announces far and wide that a tournament will be held at the wedding, and the news comes to Armenia, where Drusiana has been living for the last twelve years. Guidone and Sinibaldo do exceptionally well in the tournament, and then Drusiana reveals herself. Margaria marries Terigi. Buovo and family return to Antona, and Terigi takes his parents Sinibaldo and Aluizia to live in Schiavaonia with him.

King William of England sends for Buovo, and in London Buovo wins a race on Rondello. William’s son Fiore tries to buy Rondello, then to steal him, and is killed by his hooves. The King banishes Buovo, who leaves Antona in Drusiana’s hands, and leaves with his sons for Schiavonia, ruled now by Terigi and Margalia, who have a son, Sicurans. They go to war against Arpitras, the admiral of Dalmazia and Corvazia. In the war, Sinibaldo and Terigi are slain, but Ascilacca, Arpitras’ city, is taken, and the Admiral slain. Sixteen months later, King Arbaull of Hungary, successor to Buldras, makes war on the Christians now, and after a long war, the Christians are victorious. Sicurans is now king of Sinella and Hungary as well as Schiavonia. He grows up to beget King Filippo, Ughetto, and Manabello. Buovo stays in Sinella for fourteen years.

The King of Langle, a realm between England and Ireland, dies, leaving a daughter Orlandina, whom he wishes to marry Buovo’s son Guido. It is done. Erminione dies, leaving Armenia to Sinibaldo, son of Buovo. Buovo at last returns to Antona, and his third son, Guglielmo, is crowned King of England. Guido has a son named Chiaramonte, who dies at sixteen. A castle is named in his memory, and in this castle Guido has another son, Bernardo, and hence Bernardo descendents are called the House of Clairmont. Galione, now lord of Flanders, Maganza [Mayence], Pontiers, Bayonne, and more, has five sons. Riccardo, Guglielmo, Spinardo, Tolomeo, and Grifone the father of Ganelon. His wife is pregnant with Ghinamo of Baiona. Galione a church called Santo Salvadore, three miles from Antona, and favored by Drusiana and Buovo. Galione kills his half-brother while he is praying, and then flees to Babylon, where he converts to Islam and is honored richly by the Sultan. Drusiana swoons over Buovo’s body, but lives for another fifteen days. They are buried in one tomb.

The Legend of Bevis of Hampton, 2: English, Norse, Welsh, and Irish

The legend of Bevis of Hampton is extant in three great families of redactions: the Anglo-Norman, the Continental French, and the Italian. The Italian versions are the only ones to link Bevis with the legend of Charlemagne, but we will here treat of the Anglo-Norman version first, as it is generally believed to be the earliest, and it is the version best-known to English readers.

The Anglo-Norman family consists of the following versions:

Boeve de Hantone. The Anglo-Norman chanson de geste. Assonanced decasyllables. Sometimes attributed to Bertrand de Bar, though this is no longer a widely-held theory. Translated by Judith Weiss in Boeve De Haumtone and Gui De Warewic, 2008.

Bevers saga. The Norse prose translation of the Anglo-Norman, which exists in two major versions.

Bevusar Taettir. The Faerose ballads based on the Norse saga. See Corpus Carminum Faeroensium, volume 5.

Bown o Hamtwn.  The Welsh prose translation of the Anglo-Norman. Translated by Robert Williams in Selections from the Hengwrt Mss. Preserved in the Peniarth Library.

Sir Beves of Hampton, the English poem, translated from the Anglo-Norman, which adds many incidents and rearranges others. All six MSS are printed in EETS Extra vol 46, 48, 65. An edition for the general reader is available from TEAMS in Four Romances of England.

Bibuis o Hamtuir.  The Irish prose translation of the English, c. 1452-1500. The only manuscript ends in the middle of the episode of Josiane’s “marriage” in Cologne. Copied, or possibly written, by Uilliam Mac an Leagha. Translated by Frederick Norris in The Irish Lives of Guy of Warwick and Bevis of Hampton.

BEVERS SAGA

Bever’s saga exists in two versions. One, the most common, follows the Anglo-Norman closely until the baptism of Escopart, and thereafter begins abridging freely. The second, found only in one manuscript, abridges throughout, and changes the order of many incidents. It is most likely derived from the first Norse version.

STANDARD VERSION

Bevers is summoned to King Edgar’s court instead of going himself to demand his rights. No wedding ceremony is held between Bevers and Aglantine [the lady of Cevile]. Bevers and Terri are the godparents of each other’s children. Yvori kidnaps not only Arundela, but also his foal. In the duel, Guy and Miles intervene, and Guy kills Yvori, to Bevers’ fury. When the fifteen kings convert and destroy their idols, a talking dog leaps out of one of them [a demon in disguise, most likely].

THE REVISED VERSION

Bevers’ mother is named Oda, her page and confidant Spyrant. Yvori does not attempt to ride Arundel. Terri is Bevis’ son. Escopart, Beves, Josiane, and Terri are all banished from England. Escopart falls asleep while guarding Josiane while the men are out hunting, and at this  very moment, Ivorius’ goon Amonstrei arrives, through his magic knowledge. He kills Escopart, and kidnaps Josiane. Bevers and Terri take the newborn twins to Sinolle [Cevile], where they die. Bevers and Terri save Lady Susanna from the besiegers, but Yvori sends his men to steal Arundela. Sabaoth has a dream telling him to go to Jerusalem to free Josiane from Munkbrand. They meet there and form a plan. Josiane schemes to seduce Amonstrei, who at her instigation, kills his ten sons. As he is undressing in hopes of his reward, Sabaoth leaps out and kills him. They flee with Arundela, and meet Bevers in Sinolle.

King Edgar’s son is named Ranin, his daughter Gyridr. In the duel with Yvori, Bevers kills him fairly.

BEVUSAR TAETTER

The Faeroese ballads based on Beverssaga cover only the beginning of the story, down to Bevers’ arrival at the heathen King’s court. As I can find no more information about them, and I cannot read Faeroese, I am unable to say how closely they follow the Saga.

BOWN O HAMTWN

The Welsh prose translation, from the French. A close translation, with no peculiarities.

 SIR BEVES OF HAMPTON

Bevis is seven years old when his mother and Emperor Devoun of Germany kill his father. He is sold to King Ermonie of Armenia, whose deceased wife was named Morage. His first battle is fought at the age of fifteen, on Christmas Day, when a Saracen taunts him for not knowing what day it is. Bevis answers that, while he doesn’t know as much about his faith as he’d like to, he will defend it against all insults. A fight breaks out, and Bevis kills him and his friends. Josiane persuades the king to spare Bevis’ life, and nurses him back to health. Ermonie’s seneschal, not his foresters, tries to claim credit for killing the boar, and it is from the steward that Bevis wins his sword Morgley. Three years go by between the fight with the boar and the invasion of Bradimond. Boniface is given the role of go-between for Bevis and Josiane. The palmer Bevis meets en route to Damascus is Terri, who has been sent by Saber to search for him. No explanation is given for why Bevis conceals his identity, but we are told how Terri took the news home to Sabot [Saber], who wept. Brandimond clasps Bevis’ hand in “friendship”, but really to overpower and seize him. Josiane has a magic ring, not a girdle. Arondel is imprisoned for seven years. Bevis’ dungeon is filled with flying adders, which he kills with his club, and a dragon, which he kills,, but not without receiving a scar above his right eye that never heals. He can’t escape for seven years. When he finally does escape, he kills some stable boys. Grander is just a king, and his steed is named Trenchefis. Bevis kills Grander, and then rides Trenchefis off a cliff into the sea to escape the rest of Brandimond’s men. On the far shore, he makes the giant’s wife taste all the food she serves him, and the Patriarch of Jerusalem orders him to marry only a virgin. Seeking Josiane, he trades clothes with a palmer, and pretends to Josiane that he met Bevis in Rome and heard him boast of Arondel. Josiane and Boniface take the “palmer” to see the horse, who recognizes him immediately.

As they escape, Amustrai does not appear, and Ascopart is here Garcy’s servant. When they come to Cologne, there is a dragon there. Two kings, of Apulia and Calabria, were at war for twenty-four years, until they were turned into dragons. They fought for thirty-four more years, until a hermit rove them away. One flew to Rome, where he was enchanted by wise clerks to sleep under Saint Peter’s Bridge until Doomsday. But every seven years he turns in his sleep and causes fever [the famous Roman malaria]. The other lives in Cologne, under a cliff, and has eight tusks, each seventeen inches in diameter. He has a beard and a mane, and is twenty-four feet from shoulder to hindquarters. His tail is sixteen feet, and his wings are bright as glass, his scales as hard as brass. According to some manuscripts, Bevis uses the sword Alondite [or Arondite], which was once Sir Lancelot’s, and which some knights of England brought to Armenia, where Bevis got it.

Ascopard is too scared to fight, but Bevis sallies forth, is sorely wounded, but falls into a holy well, which a virgin once bathed in, and which cures him. As he fights again, the dragon spits venom which dissolves his armor, and he is again saved by the well. Bevis at last slays it, thanks to a timely prayer, and takes its tongue as a trophy.

When Ascopart kidnaps Josiane to sell her to Yvori, she asks for leave to go to the woods for privacy, but really she’s gathering herbs to make her look like a leper. Yvori is disgusted at her new appearance, and locks her in a castle with Ascopart as her guard, where she stays for six months. Bevis leaves Guy with a forester, and Miles with a fisher. Then comes the tourney at Aumbeforce [Cevile]. Then Sabot dreams that Bevis is wounded en route to Compostela and Saint Giles. His wife says it means Ascopart is a traitor. Sabot and twelve knights find Josiane, kill Ascopart, and resuce her. The two [the twelve vanish from the story] wander for seven years, till Sabot falls ill in Greece, and Josiane must support them by minstrelsy, for half a year. When he recovers, they go to Aumbeforce, where all are reunited, and Terri weds the Lady. Bevis sends for his children. After the first war of Yvori and Erimone, Armenia [lesser Armenia, in Anatolia] is converted. After the second war, with the single combat, Yvori’s men are slaughtered, not converted. When Bevis returns to England to recover Robart’s lands, King Edgar’s steward gathers his faction and rouses the London mob against Bevis. A very realistic account of medieval urban warfare follows, until Miles and Guy arrive to save the day, Miles on a dromedary, Guy on an Arabian. Josiane and Bevis and Arundel die after twenty years of peaceful reigning, and are buried in the monastery of Saint Lawrence, where the monks pray for their souls, if it be right to pray for the soul of a horse.

STAIR BIBUIS

The Irish prose translation, copied, or possibly written, by Uillam Mac an Leagha. Written between 1452 and 1500. A close translation of the English, but flowery as all get out. Bevis’ mother loves the son of the Emperor. She sees her beauty reflected in her bathwater, convincing her to kill her husband. Bevis decides to avenge his father when his fellow swine-herds (not shepherds) accuse him of cowardice. He flees prison not to Jerusalem but to India, where the Patriarch shrives him. Coming home, he is shriven again at Rhodes. The fragment breaks off as Esgobard is hurrying to Bibius to tell him that Earl Milis is about to marry Sisian [Josian].

Let this much suffice for the Anglo-Norman family, and let us now speak of the Continental French family.

Or rather, let us go back and speak of the original Anglo-Norman poem.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 15: Ballads not in Duran

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if you’re left wanting more.

FLORESVENTO
Based on Floovant, via the Italian Fioravante. Floresvento burns seven cities, and deflowers seven high-born maidens on Christmas Eve. His father wishes to execute him. His mother succeeds in having the sentence commuted to banishment. His father forbids anyone to sell him food. The ballad ends with verses from some version of Duran’s 298 and 299 [Our Goodman/Claralinda/Wife caught in Adultery]. Floresvento discovers his wife Branca’s two lovers hiding in her bedroom; she asks him to kill her then and there. He refuses.

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

THE SISTERS, QUEEN AND SLAVE
The Moorish Queen Xerifa of Almeria sends her men on a slave raid into France, to fetch her a serving maid of high birth. They kill Count Flores, capture his wife, and make her a kitchen maid. The queen and maid give birth on the same day, the queen to a girl and the maid to a boy. The midwives [by accident in some versions, for a bribe in others] switch the babies. On day, the queen hears the maid singing to “her” daughter, “If you were my daughter, I would call thee Marguerete/Flor de los Flores/Blancaflor, which was my sister’s name. She was kidnapped by the Moors.” The queen asks her to describe her sister. Thanks to a birthmark, the two women realize they are sisters, and flee home to France.

This ballad probably is not related to Floris and Blanchefleur, but I include it here in case the names are more than a coincidence.

GALIANA
Based on Mainet. A Moorish King accuses Galiana of loving Carolicho [Charlemagne], and threatens to cut his head off and make her look at it at every meal. Carolicho arrives, disguised as a charcoal maker, and bids his lady escape with him.

ROLDAN AL PIE DE LA TORRE
Rondale paces in a light rain, with a gold falcon on his wrist, crying “Who will aid me?” He intends to kill the King of France and his men, and marry his daughter. He comes to the castle of Count Argile [Ogier], a lord of great strength.

I will not swear that they are related, but it is at least interesting that in some manuscripts of the Quatre Filz Aymon, Roland, disgusted with his uncle’s single-minded pursuit of Renaldo and Malagise, threatens to leave him, and says “Ogier, what will you do? Will you come with me? Let us leave this foolish old dotard.”

GUERINOS Y FLORIPAS
Based on Fierabras. Guarinos is held captive by Moors in dungeon. The Princess Floripas hears him weeping, asks why, consoles him, and promises to set him free and wed him the next day. It is done.
Guarinos’ part is filled by Guy of Burgundy in most versions of the story.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 13: Bernardo Meets his Father

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

654, THE KING DESIRES TO TAKE BERNARDO BY SURPRISE, BUT IS PREVENTED, AND FLEES IN FEAR. Class I. “Con cartas sus mensajeros”
The King sends letters to Bernardo. Bernardo suspects treason, and tells the messenger to say as much to the King. Bernardo has four hundred men. He leaves a hundred to guard the castle of Carpio, one hundred to guard the frontiers of his fief, and takes two hundred to see the King. The King tries to reclaim Carpio. Bernardo says it is his own by right. The King calls him a traitor, and bids his men seize him, whereupon Bernardo calls on his two hundred. The King pretends it was a mere joke. Bernardo says it wasn’t a very funny one, and says that the King can have Carpio; it will be easy for him to recapture it.
Wright.

655, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Con solos diez de los suyos”
Bernardo comes with ten men before the King. The King accuses him of treason. Bernardo denies it. The King orders his men to seize Bernardo. No one moves, for they see Bernardo put hand on his sword hilt. Bernardo tells the King that his men are right to be afraid of him. His men shout “Viva Bernardo!” and all take up the cry. The King pretends it was a joke, and Bernardo says he knew it was a joke all along, and leaves with his men. The King fumes and plots vengeance.
Lockhart.

656, BERNARDO OBTAINS HIS FATHER’S FREEDOM, ONCE HE IS ALREADY DEAD. Class VIII. “Antes que barbas tuviese”
Bernardo rebukes Alfonso for not releasing his father. Alfonso swears to release him before Mass is sung tomorrow in the Lateran. He does so, but first he blinds and kills him.

657, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Hincado está de rodillas”
Bernardo kneels before his father to kiss his hand, but feels it icy cold. Realizing what has happened, he laments, and runs off to seek Alfonso.

658, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. By Lorenzo de Sepúlveda. Class IV. “En Leon y las Asturias”
Alfonso III the Great reigns in Leon and Asturias. Bernardo asks for his father’s liberty. Alfonso refuses, and Bernardo revolts. The barons persuade Alfonso to release Count Sancho Diaz. Alfonso agrees, if Bernardo will render up Carpio. He agrees, and Alfonso sends Don Tibalte and Don Arias to Luna to kill the Count and bring his body from prison. They dress him up, and invite Bernardo to the palace to see him. Bernardo kisses his father’s hand, discovers the trick, and laments.
Versification of a chronicle.

659, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Mal mis servicios pagaste”
Bernardo laments, and storms out of the palace to raise a revolt.

660, BERNARDO SWEARS TO AVENGE HIS FATHER’S DEATH. Class VIII. “Retraido en su aposento”
Bernardo, safe in his own castle, weeps and laments, and swears to avenge his father.

661, BERNARDO REPROACHS THE KING FOR HIS INGRATITUDE. Class VIII. “¡Inhumano rey Alfonso!”
Bernardo rebukes his uncle King Alfonso of Leon, saying his is ill-repaid for all the times he has saved him, including from Charlemagne at Roncesvalles.
Combines with #655 by Lockhart.

662, BERNARDO SALLIES FORTH TO AVENGE HIS FATHER’S DEATH. By Gabriel Lobo Laso de la Vega. Class VIII. “Aspero llanto hacia”
Bernardo, safe at Carpio, laments, swears vengeance, and sallies forth, upon a light-brown steed with black caparison. His shield is black with a red heart on it. Three hundred noblemen follow him from Carpio.

663, BERNARDO WEEPS FOR HIS FATHER AND CELEBRATES HIS FUNERAL. Class VIII. “Las obsequias funerales”
Bernardo, at the funeral, weeps by his father’s side, and laments.

664, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. Bernardo, his kin and friends kneel by a black tomb in a church. It is that of Count Sancho. Bernardo laments. At last he rises, turns around, and, heedless of the holy place, rebukes King Alfonso, in ottava rima.
Lockhart, though much abridged.

Felicia Hemans’ poem Bernardo Del Carpio is not a translation of any Spanish ballad.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads 12: Bernardo at Roncesvalles

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

648, BERNARDO AND HIS MEN SALLY TO THE FIELD AGAINST THE FRENCH. Class VIII. “Aguardando que amanezca”
Bernardo surveys the field from a mountain top, and bids his three hundred men fear not, for ten Spaniards are a match for a thousand foreigners. They join with the Saracens, and ride to battle.

649, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Con los mejores de Astúrias”
Benardo leaves Leon with the best men of Asturias, to stop Charlemagne from usurping the crown Alfonso the Chaste has offered him. He gives a rousing speech to his men, then spurs his horse, shouting, “Follow me, all you who are sons of the brave!”

650, THE FRENCH PREPARE CONFIDENTLY FOR THE BATTLE OF RONCESVALLES. Class VIII. “Blasonando está el frances”
The French are encamped at Roncesvalles. Roldan, the twelve Peers, and Charlemagne are confident that soon they will quarter the fleur-de-lis with a castle and a lion [the arms of Spain], and that no one on earth can stand against them.

651, BERNARDO, THE CHAMPION OF RONCESVALLES, WITH THE DEATH OF ROLDAN AND THE TWELVE PEERS OF FRANCE. By Gabriel Lobo Laso de la Vega. Class VIII. “Con crespa y dorada crin”
Charles the Frank leads his massive army into Roncesvalles at dawn, to conquer Spain, with his twelve Peers behind him. Alfonso of Castile and Marsilio of Aragon, are waiting for him, with their respective champions, Bernardo and Bravonel. After a long and bloody fight, the Spaniards are victorious. Roldan and Oliveros are dead, with the flower of France. Charlemagne flees, with the greatest losses ever known.
Number 652 is a reworking of this one, with many unaltered lines, but much less detail.

652, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Con crespa y dorada crin.”
The Gauls lead a massive army into Roncesvalles at dawn. Bernardo and Marsilio are waiting for them. After a long and bloody fight, Bernardo and Bravonel are victorious. The French flee, leaving their banner behind.

653, BERNARDO DEFEATS AND KILLS ROLDAN. Class VIII. “El invencible frances”
The invincible Frenchman, the senator of Rome, who converted Agrican, defeated Almonte, held off an army at Abraca by himself, is dead. Brava’s lord could not defeat El Carpio’s. After slaying Dudon, Oliveros, Aquilante and Grifone, and spilling a lake of French blood, Alfonso’s nephew attacked Charles’, and slew him.
No mention is made of Roland’s invincibility requiring Bernardo to strangle him.

For the other Spanish ballads of Roncesvalles, see this page.