The Legend of Dieudonné of Hungary

The legend of Dieudonné of Hungary survives in only one MSS: A 17,500 line chanson de geste in monorhymed Alexandrines, also known as Charles le Chauve. Despite that name, it is set in the days of the Merovingians, not of Charlemagne’s grandson. To avoid confusion, we will be referring to the legend and chanson as Dieudonné of Hungary.

The MS. in question is BnF Fr. 24372, which is incomplete at the end. There are partial editions, but no complete ones, and of course no English translation.

DIEUDONNÉ OF HUNGARY

King Clotaire of France had no heirs at his death, so the Twelve Peers met to choose his successor. An angel of the Lord appeared to tell them to choose no king, but to wait for the coming of King Melsiau of Hungary, who, though currently a Saracen, would be baptised under the name of Charles the Bald. William of Montfort, a Breton baron, rejects this plan, and readies an army to seize the throne with his faithful companion, Goubaut of Lausanne. At the same time, Melsiau invades, intending to convert the folk to the worship of Mahound. The Peers, flustered, manage to persuade both parties to a truce, and they will both present themselves at Notre-Dame de Riems, where the Holy Ghost will make His will known. As Melsiau approaches the altar, the Holy Ghost appears and places in his hand a vial filled with sacred oil. Melsiau is baptized under the name of Charles, known as the Bald. He melts down his idols and uses the gold to adorn churches, and marries Marguerite, heiress of Berry. They have two sons, Philip and Charlot.

But William and Goubaut are not pleased. They flatter the king while secretly hating him. Charles makes Goubaut the tutor of Prince Philip. Goubaut poisons a barrel of wine and sends it to Philip in the name of Charles. He then throws the squire who delivered it down a well, to silence him. Meanwhile, the Duke of Touraine has tasted the wine and died in agony. Charles wishes to banish his son, but Marguerite persuades him to settle for banishment. Philip is forced to swear to tell no one of his lineage.

Philip learns that King Hilaire of Hungary is besieged in Montluisant by a Saracen giant named Merlangier, and has promised his daughter Doraine to whoever slays the Pagan. As he travels thither, he kills a “monstrous serpent” that ravaged the countryside. He then rests at the home of Goubaut’s kinsman Butor de Saleries, who plots to kill him by night, but Butor’s wife warns Philip, who escapes and comes to Montluisant. Inside the city, he is given lodging by one Joseran, a fellow Frenchman. That same day, a Lombard knight is defeated by Merlangier. His squire, passing though the town, resents Philip’s mockery, and the two fight, and the Lombard is slain. Philip is brought before King Hilaire for murder. He announces that he has come to fight Merlangier, whereupon all is forgiven. Doraine falls in love and gives him a magic ring which will protect him from poison and drowning.

When Philip fights the giant, Merlangier throws him in the river, from which he emerges unfazed and beheads the Saracen. This does not end the war, however, for Merlagier’s brother Soltibran begins a general combat, in which Soltibran mortally wounds Hilaire and is slain in turn by Philip. Hiliare, dying bequeaths his daughter and his kingdom to Philip.

Meanwhile, in France, Butor has strangled his wife and now prepares to follow Philip and kill him, too. Coming to Montluisant, he apologizes to Philip for the unfortunate incident at his house, and lays all the blame on one of his squires, whom he has punished. Credulity seems to run in the family, for King Philip believes him and makes him seneschal.

Doraine conceives a child. Before he is born, however, an angel orders Philip to lead twenty thousand soldiers to save Jerusalem from the Saracens. He departs, leaving Butor in charge. Philip saves Jerusalem and is crowned king by the Patriarch. Meanwhile, Butor has forged letters saying that Philip is dead in Syria, and claims that he was the son of a peasant, banished from France for banditry. He offers to marry Doraine, who refuses him. So instead, he schemes with a midwife to swap her baby for a half-devoured chicken and to pretend the queen ate her child. The baby is abandoned in the woods, but rescued by Guillaume d’Esturgon, a local lord, who sees that he has a cross birthmark on his shoulder, and names him Dieudonné.

Philip, sailing home, is shipwrecked by a storm, and saved only by the magic ring. He washes up on a desert island inhabited only by a hermit, also shipwrecked. There the two remain for eighteen years.

Guillaume raises the young Dieudonné with his own son Mancion and daughter Supplante. Mancion is jealous of his foster-brother’s talent for learning and fighting, but Supplante adores him. Supplante says Dieudonné’s birthmark means he is a king. Mancion laughs and says the only king Dieudonné will ever be is the Twelfth-Night King. Such quarrels as these continue, until at last they fight over a chess game. Mancion pulls a knife and tries to stab Dieudonné, who, however, wrestles the knife away and pierces his foster-brother’s heart. He flees, but Guillaume pursues and overtakes him. Dieudonné will not fight his foster-father, who is touched with pity and banishes him instead of executing him. He decides to wander the earth seeking his birth parents. As he travels, he hears the sad tale of the Queen dowager of Hungary, accused of murdering her own child. He decides to defend her. He gets lost on the road to Hungary, however, and comes to a fountain where three naked young women are swimming. He modestly averts his eyes, and asks them where he can find lodging. They dress and conduct him to the castle of the Fairy Queen, Gloriande. Here a dwarf named Maufumé, who is old enough to remember Noah, challenges him to battle. Dieudonné refuses, so Maufumé leaves, summons a storm, transforms himself into a knight, and jousts with Dieudonné, who with difficulty overcomes him. Maufumé resumes his own shape, announces that Gloriande is in love with Dieudonné, and welcomes him into the castle, which is so beautiful that Dieudonné almost forgets his parents and his beloved Supplante at once. Almost, for when Queen Gloriande offers him her love, he tells her that his heart is pledged to Supplante. She accepts her rejection with grace, and offers him a horn, that can summon seven thousand men when blown; a napkin, which, if the sign of the cross is made over it, will provide bread and meat for a hundred; and a chalice, which will always be full of the world’s best wine. If Dieudonné ever tells a lie, however, the gifts will cease to work for him. Maufumé gives him a sword whose blows are always mortal. Thus arrayed, he departs for Esturgon, where Gloriande tells him his love is waiting.

On the road to Esturgon, Dieudonné kills a man-eating centaur, rescuing its victims from its castle, and winning an enchanted helmet. He arrives at Esturgon, where he invites all the beggars to a feast and feeds them with his napkin and chalice. When Guillaume comes to see what the commotion is about and recognizes his foster-son, he calls his men to seize him, but Dieudonné blows his horn and summons an army, whereupon Guillaume sees the benefits of mercy and gives Supplante to Dieudonné in marriage. Gloriande and three fairies play the music at their wedding, and on their wedding night Dagobert is begotten.

Dieudonné remembers that he was supposed to go rescue the Queen of Hungary, (whom he has learned is really his mother) and leaves his bride in the morning. He arrives at Montluisant and saves her with his fairy army. Unfortunately, Butor escapes and holes up in his castle of Nimègue. Dieudonné now goes to find his father, saving Constantinople from the Saracens on the way, but when he arrives on the island, the hermit tells him that Philip is gone; a ship came by at last and took him away. Dieudonné, suspicious, lies to the hermit about his identity, causing Gloriande’s gifts to lose all their power. To make things worse, Dieudonné is shipwrecked on the Isle of Adamant. Maufumé is given permission to go help him, but only on condition that he (Maufumé) spend three years in shape of a luiton. The dwarf rescues the prince, and he, having never lied, is able to use the napkin and chalice to feed Dieudonné and the crew. They return to Gloriande, who restores Dieudonné’s ability to use them as well.

Dieudonné now returns to Montluisant, where he learns that Philip is at Nimègue, where Butor has persuades him that Queen Doraine murdered their son, and that the man pretending to be Dieudonné is actually Queen Doraine’s lover, who has changed his shape by magic. Dieudonné cannot fight his father, lest he break the power of the gifts again, and so he slips away, leaving his mother to the tender mercies of her husband and Butor.

Here there is a lacuna in the only manuscript.

When the story resumes, Emperor Charles the Bald, King Philip, and Dieudonné have reconciled and are accusing Goubaut and Butor of treason. In a two-on-two duel, Philip and Dieudonné mortally wound their opponents, who confess everything before dying. Everyone is happy and content.

Or they would be, if Goubaut’s kinsmen were not trying to take over France in Charles’ absence. Charles, Philip, and Dieudonné ride to raise the siege of Rheims, but they have the worse of the battle. Dieudonné is unhorsed, taken captive, and bound. With great difficulty, he loosens his bonds enough to raise his horn to his mouth. He blows a mighty blast, the fairy army arrives, and the kings are victorious. Unfortunately, the traitors escape. The royalty pursue them to Lausanne, leaving Doraine and Supplante in Montluisant, where they are besieged by the pagan King Joshua of Majorca and Almería, who has fallen on love with Supplante by report. He hires the famous enchanter Balan of Ascalon, who helps him capture the city. Doraine leaps out a window to keep her chastity, Supplante is made a captive of Joshua, and Balan kidnaps the infant Dagobert to raise as his own son. Touched by pity, he also provides Supplante with a chastity-preserving ring.[1] Thus she lives chastely for several years in Almería.

After successfully defeating the traitors in Lausanne, Charles, Philip, and Dieudonné learn of the fate of their womenfolk. Dieudonné heads for the sea and sets sail for Almería, destroying the navy of the Sultan of Damascus en route, thanks to his enchanted horn. He slays the Sultan and rescues his fiancée, Princes Corsabrine of the Indies, whom he proceeds to deflower, thereby causing the fairy gifts to lose their power a second time. He is unaware of this, however, and confidently attacks Almería. Without the fairy horn, his entire army is destroyed. Corsabrine is taken captive by King Joshua, and Dieudonné manages to escape in a dinghy which eventually washes up near the Roman campagna. King Joshua happens to be the nephew of the Sultan of Damascus, so Corsabrine tells him that she is pregnant with the Sultan’s child (really it is Dieudonné’s). Joshua swears to install her and her son (if the child is male) as rulers of Damascus.

Meanwhile, Emperor Valerian of Rome is being attacked by the heathen King Abel of Acre. Dieudonné offers his services, but he and Valerian are taken prisoner. The Pope orders every priest, monk, cardinal, and bishop to take up arms, and this second army manages to drive the Saracens away, but not to rescue the prisoners, who are taken to Syria, where they enslaved and set to hard labor. After a year or so, King Abel decides to marry the beautiful Sultana Corsabrine of Damascus and become guardian of her son. Joshua approves the marriage, and it is done. Dieudonné seeks permission to attend to festivities, but the overseer simply laughs and beats him. Dieudonné and Valerian snap and begin slaying many Saracens with whatever comes to hand, but they are overcome and led in chains before Abel and Corsabrine, who takes some time recognize Dieudonné. When she does, however, she secretly consults with him, offering him freedom if he will take her back to France and wed her. But this he cannot do, for he is married already. The Sultana is furious, informs him that she was secretly baptized for love of him, and finally orders him and Valerian thrown in the dungeon, to be fed on black bread and hot water.

King Abel invites all his allies to come watch the execution of Dieudonné and Valerian. Queen Supplante is very much alarmed when the invitation comes. Without waiting for her alleged husband, she sets sail to save her true one. She persuades the King of Acre to postpone the execution, and bceoms the confidante of Corsabrine. Supplante admits she is still a Christian, and Corsabrine tells how Dieudonné is the father of her child, but refuses to marry her. Supplante is filled with very mixed emotions at this news, but at last she persuades Corsabrine that Dieudonné was just testing her, and will surely be glad to take her to France and marry her if she asks again. The two queens go to the dungeon, where a very awkward reunion and explanations ensue. At last though, all are content, and Supplante gives Corsabrine her magic ring.

That night, the two queens, their chamberlain Griffon, and the two prisoners flee Damascus, murdering the porter as they go. As they travel west, they meet King Joshua of Almería coming east. They attack him, Joshua is slain, but his men take the Christians prisoner. Corsabrine accuses the men of having kidnapped her, and is thus returned to Damascus in honor. Supplante claims to be pregnant with Joshua’s child, and is taken back to Almería with the three men, who, however, are thrown in a dungeon overlooking the sea. When the waves cause a portion of the wall to crumble, Dieudonné breaks his chains, takes his leave of his companions, and leaps into the sea.

At this juncture, who should arrive but Maufumé, in form of a luiton, who is sent by Gloriande to rescue Dieudonné and to restore him his napkin, chalice, and horn. He carries the man to Ascalon, where Dieudonné’s son Dagobert is being raised by King Balan, the enchanter. In the city, Maufumé shape-shifts into a monkey, and Dieudonné dresses as a jongleur. They play at the king’s banquet, until Maufumé siezes a knife and stabs a Saracen. Balan calls for his arms, and prepares to work his magic, but Maufumé shape-shifts into a fire-breathing serpent, then into a flying dragon, and causes a lightning-storm. Balan is amazed, and says that the devils who have taught him much can do no such tricks. Maufumé explains that he is a Fairy, that the jongleur is Dieudonné, father of the young Dagobert. He offers to pardon the magician if he will accept Holy Baptism. So it is done, and now Dieudonné, Maufumé, Dagobert, and Balan go to Almería, where, thanks to the fairy horn, they resuce Supplante and kill or convert all the Saracens. They return home to Montluisant at last. Dieudonné wishes to go to Damascus and rescue Corsabrine, but Supplante, jealous, will not hear of it, and persuades him not to. This was a great mistake, and much woe came to Christendom because of it, for Sultan Abel of Damascus invades Rome, captures the Emperor and his son Othovian, and beheads the Supreme Pontiff.

Meanwhile, Charles the Bald has died, and Philip is now King of France. Dieudonné and his horn save Philip from the traitor Amaury of Brittany, who had already been crowned king at Paris. To punish the Parisians for their part in the rebellion, Dieudonné ordains that the kings shall henceforth be consecrated at Rheims. An angel tells Dieudonné that he may not inherit the throne, but must do penance for his sins in a hermitage. Dieudonné renounces his rights, leaving Dagobert at court to be Philip’s heir, and retires with Supplante to a wild spot near Blaye, on the Gironde, where after living lives of holiness, they are murdered by robbers. God works many miracles through them, and they are known as Saint Honoré and Saint Foi. Corsabrine, when she dies, will be known as Saint Innocent of Paris, her baptismal name.

Here the only manuscript ends. It would appear that it was meant to lead into some version of Florent and Octavian.

ORIGINS AND INFLUENCE

The author knew and drew from Le Chevalier au Cygne, Huon de Bordeaux. The poem is very similar to Baudoin of Sebourg, Tristan de Nanteuil, Floovant, and Hugh Capet, among others, though it is unclear which came first.

The pagan origins of Charles the Bald, and that name being applied to a Merovingian, seem to be our author’s inventions. The ring that preserves from drowning is a new twist on an old idea, as is the final scene between Balan and Maufumé. The bulk of Diuedonné’s aventures, however, are slavishly copied from those of Huon and the Swan Knight.

The real Saint Honoré (Honoratus of Amiens) was a bishop of Amiens who died May 16, around 600. He was chosen as patron by the Parisian baker’s guild in the 1400’s, on account of a legend that his old nursemaid had been incredulous when she heard that he had been elected bishop, and refused to believe it unless her peel grew into a tree. It did so, and she believed.

The real Saint Foi was a young woman from Agen in Aquitaine, burned to death on October 6 under Diocletian. She is not to be confused with Saint Faith, the daughter of Saint Sophia and sister of Saints Hope and Charity.

The real Saint Innocent was a man, the first Pope of that name, in the 400’s. Perhaps our author misunderstood the meaning of the Cimetière des Saints-Innocents (The Holy Innocents) in Paris.

[1] Paris here says (p. 112) that the secret is that of the fairy Viviane, who ensnared Merlin this way, but this appears to be his comment, not that of the jongleur.

Let thus much suffice for Dieudonné of Hungary, and let us now turn, as the minstrels intended, to Florent and Octavian.

Advertisements

The Legend of Theseus of Cologne

The legend of Theseus of Cologne exists in several versions, all of which are ultimately derived from a chanson de geste in rhymed Alexandrines. That chanson, however, exists in three very different MSS. Besides various expansions and abridgments in the first part of the poem, the second part is very much longer and completely different in P than in L and Ph. Elizabeth Rosenthal, in her magisterial study, professed herself unable to determine whether the long or short version was original. The following categorization is based on what she considers the most probable, though far from certain, family tree.

A now-lost archetype, including only Part I

MSS L. and Ph. Theseus de Cologne, a chanson de geste in rhymed alexandrines. c. 1360-1400.

Jehan Servion’s Preface to Gestes et Croniques de la Mayson de Savoye tells the story of Tezeus’ wooing of Princess Yzobie whilst hiding in a golden eagle.

A now-lost archetype that added Part II

Miracle du Roy Thierry, c. 1374.

MS P. The chanson de geste with an added Part II.

Contant d’Orville, 1700’s. A classicized prose retelling.

1534 edition, by Jehan Longis and Vincent Certenas. Mise en prose of a manuscript similar to, though not identical with, P.

A 1550 edition by Jehan Bonfons, which was the last printing of the full work for a century and a half.

A shorter prose version, B.N. Fr. 1472. Also represented by a chapbook by Jehan Trepperel, 1503, which survives only in a transcript of a few fragments.

Le Roman de l’Assaillant. B.N. Fr. 15096, retells an episode from the story in prose.

Gestes de Courtenay by Nicolle Houssemayne, prose. Also glorifying Assaillant. Found in two MSS: Phil. 8161 and B.N. Fr. 4962.

The most interesting parts of the poem have been edited, and all versions analyzed, by Elizabeth Rosenthal, whose thesis can be downloaded for free from the British Library’s Ethos (requires an account).

The two parts of the poem appear to be by different authors. It should surprise no one that the first is superior. Part One as we have it appears to predate 1364 and to have been based on a somewhat earlier version. Part Two was likely added after 1376.

THESEUS OF COLOGNE

It is the year 632. King Floridas of Cologne marries Princess Alidoyne, daughter of King Florent, who has been fostered at the court of King Dagobert. Alidoyne says that an ugly child must have been God’s punishment of its mother, and soon after gives birth to a deformed child herself, named Theseus. He grows up wise and strong. The king’s friend Fernagus falls in love with the queen, who rejects him, so he tells Florent that the queen loves Cornicant, a certain dwarf who is her servant, and Theseus is their son together. Florent plans to burn her, but a faithful knight warns her and she flees. The king orders his henchmen to take Theseus, aged 10, to the woods and kill him instead. The boy at first resists, then accepts his father’s will, only askingback to be beheaded like a nobleman. As the henchmen hesitate, Jesus cures Theseus’ hunchback and turns him beautiful. The henchmen take the boy back to court, where King Floridas is busily searching for Alidoyne to kill her. Cornicant challenges Fernagus to combat to clear his name, at which juncture Theseus returns. Alidoyne, hearing the news, leaves the house where she was hiding, the duel is fought, and Cornicant wins.

Theseus is dubbed at fifteen. Come May, he rides out errant. He comes to Venice, which he flees when Princess Yolent falls in love with him. Going on to Rome, he falls in love by report and by seeing her statue with Flore, Emperor Esmere’s daughter, who is being wooed by some sixty Christian and Pagan princes. He impersonates a herald to enter the palace, and gazes at Flore all though dinner. He then asks her hand of the Emperor on behalf of his “master,” prince Theseus, and addresses her directly when the Emperor refuses.

Theseus pays a goldsmith to make a hollow gold eagle, to give to the princess, in which he (Theseus) will hide. Astonishingly, this works. He overhears Flore and her ladies gossiping, then exits the eagle once all are asleep. He awakens Flore, who screams. The ladies see Theseus leap back into the eagle, and think he is a ghost. The Emperor comes, but fails to find Theseus. When all are asleep again, Theseus tries again, bringing a lamp this time. After some hesitation, Flore agrees to conceal him and to love him. They take her lady-in-waiting into confidence, and send word of Theseus’ success to his squires and the goldsmith. Theseus and Flore are married in private, and he begets a son, later to be named Gadifer, who will become Emperor of East and West and save King Ludovis [Clovis II] of France, son of Dagobert. For now, though, the Emperor of Constantinople is the Saracen Abillant, who, furious at being rejected by Flore, is invading. Theseus arranges for his men to sail a ship to the foot of Flore’s tower, and then the lovers escape thereon. Unfortunately, they are caught by the fleet of Abillant, whose herald recognizes Flore. Abillant praises Mahound and returns home, giving his ally King Aceres of Antioch all the captives except Flore. Abillant prepares to wed Flore onboard the ship, but her sorrow touches the heart of his enchanter Drumas, who magically preserves her chastity and prepares for her to escape. At this very moment, however, Aceres arrives, betrays Abillant, and attacks his fleet to conquer Flore. Drumas and Abillant drown, but Flore is saved – by Greek knights. In Constantinople, Flore is welcomed as queen, while Abillant’s brother Griffon of Saternie is regent for her and her possible son. Flore gives birth to a boy with a cross-shaped birthmark on his shoulder, whom Griffon orders his men to slay in the woods. Instead, they give him to a passing knight and take a deer’s heart to Griffon. The knight names his foundling Gadifer, after himself. All this time, Theseus is in prison in Antioch, and Aceres is nervously preparing for Griffon to attack him in vengeance for his brother.

Meanwhile, Emperor Esmere declares war on Cologne, much to the surprise of King Floridas (who has in the meantime had a daughter, Baudour [Saint Bathilde]). Floridas informs him, via messenger, that Theseus is not at home, that Esmere is overreacting, and that Esmere is being quite hypocritical, considering his own young love for Florence of Rome. Esmere prosecutes the war anyway, and besieges Cologne for seven years. At Queen Alidoyne’s advice, Floridas goes to the elderly King Dagobert of France, (under attack by the Normans) to offer him homage in exchange for relief. Dagobert sends his son, Prince Ludovis, whose standard-bearer is Count Assaillant of Dammartin. Ludovis and Baudour fall in love. King Esmere pretends to retreat in order to lure his enemies into an ambush. It is a success, and Floridas is captured. Ludovis’ men drag him away from the battle, but Ludovis, in anguish and shame, decides not to go home to France. Alidoyne surrenders Cologne to save her husband’s life, Esmere leaves the wicked Flohars in command of the city, and leads Floridas, Alidoyne and Baudour captive to Rome. Griffon sends Flore home to her father, who pardons her.

Meanwhile, Ludovis and Assaillant are wandering errant, and believed dead. Dagobert declares war on Rome, and allies with Ludovis’ cousin Desirams of Pavia. Ludovis hears of the war and joins the army. Ludovis and Esmere are both taken captive in battle. Ludovis falls in love with Flore and proposes to her, since her husband has been gone for seven years. Against her wishes, everyone begins planning the wedding, peace is made, and Flore is sent to Cologne with Ludovis.

Theseus has, meanwhile, been freed by Aceres of Antioch, for whom he has fought loyally for eight years. Aceres reluctantly agrees to let Theseus, who has had troubling dreams, go reclaim his wife, who, last he heard, was in Rome with her father. For some reason, however, he sails for Flanders instead, where he learns of the recent war, the tyranny of Flohars, and the impending wedding. As he heads to Cologne, robbers kill his squire and steal everything but his shirt. He arrives at the town as a beggar, reveals himself to a faithful innkeeper, Gaultier, and sends word by the innkeeper’s wife to Flore. Gaultier rallies the burghers, who accompany Theseus as he enters the palace, kills Flohar, and drives out the Romans. He sets a golden eagle on every tower and banner to mock the Emperor. Ludovis is out hunting at the time, and returns to hear the shocking news. He decides to go to Rome, where Esmere welcomes him as his honorary son-in-law, and makes him his heir, if he will help him attack Cologne. So it is done, but the Romans are defeated in a battle. Ludovis abandons his hatred of Theseus, and rides away, but Theseus overtakes him and challeenges him to single combat. Thesues’ sword was forged by the same man as Durendal, and he is about to kill Louis when Jesus sents Saint Denis to stop the fight and reconcile the two. Ludovis agrees to marry Baudour. Theseus and Ludovis head for Rome, the former disguised as a monk, and meet the goldsmith.

Alternate version, MS P only: Theseus and Ludovis go to a fortress-town, where the goldsmith meets them.

The goldsmith informs Theseus that if he does not return at once, Aceres will kill his prisoners, for Emperor Griffon has invaded. Theseus heads for Antioch, but sends Calidas the goldsmith to Cologne to tell them what has become of him. In Cologne, Theseus is though dead, so a rich young burgher, Melchior, begins wooing Flore, who rejects him. He then forges letters framing the Queen for treason, and she is on trial when Calidas arrives and reveals all. There is to be a trial by combat, but the Emperor’s resumption of the siege necessitates its postponement. Assaillant and Lambert think Prince Ludovis is dead, but continue to fight for Esmere.

Meanwhile, Ludovis and Theseus (disguised as a monk) gain admittance to the Imperial Palace, where Floridas, Alidoyne, and Baudour are. The two pretend to be messengers sent from Esmere to put the royals of Cologne to death, and thus they escape with them and return to Cologne. Theseus learns of the Melchior affair, and orders the trial by combat to be held. Ludovis returns to the Emperor’s camp, gathers his faithful men, renounces and defies the Emperor, and enters Cologne in peace. Though Calidas is a goldsmith and not used to fighting, he wins. The next day, Archbishop Guy of Cologne weds Ludovis to Baudour.

Esmere’s brother, King Estandart of Hungary, urges him to abandon the war. Reluctantly, he agrees, on condition that Theseus make it seem that he (Theseus) was the one seeking peace, that Theseus take down the golden eagles from the towers of his city, and that the arms of Rome remain a sable eagle. Theseus agrees. After fifteen years of war, peace is made, and the festivities last fifteen days. The soldiers, newly unemployed, disperse, and many become bandits. Flore and Baudour go to Rome, while Theseus, Ludovis, Assaillant, and Lambert go to Antioch to succor King Aceres and slay Emperor Griffon. As they fight there, however, Lambert is captured, and agrees to betray the Christians for wealth. After being ransomed by Theseus, Lambert opens the east gate and lets the heathen in. Aceres escapes but, disgusted by this treachery, abandons the idea he had been entertaining of becoming Christian. The Christians are all captured. Griffon, owing to an oath, cannot execute Lambert as he would love to do, but sends him on his way. Lambert comes to Rome, where he pretends that everyone else is dead. Esmere actually is dead, and Empress Flore is horrified to hear the news, as is Baudour. Both women reject Lambert’s offer to protect them, so he returns to Paris alone, where Dagobert is dead. He tells the barons that Ludovis is dead, and they decide not to elect a new king, but to split France between them. Estandart of Hungary decides to usurp the Empire from his niece Flore, and Emperor Griffon is widely disliked in Greece.

Gadifer, son of Theseus and Flore, believed dead, is in fact being raised by Gadifer senior and his wife, who have a daughter of their own. Gadifer senior plots to make his daughter queen. He tells Gadifer junior, aged 18, that he is really a foundling, and urges him to wed his foster-sister, Osanne. (But he does not tell Gadifer junior that he is really the heir to the throne). So it is done. At this time, Aceres gathers fifteen kings, all kinsmen of his, and lays siege to Antioch, which Griffon goes to relieve, leaving his wife Clodas in charge of Constantinople. With Gadifer junior wed to Osanne, and Griffon out of the picture, Gadifer senior tells his son his true identity. They go to Constantinople, reveal all, and the barons crown Gadifer junior, expelling Clodas. Griffon at the news makes peace and alliance with Aceres, and they, Theseus, and Ludovis make war on Constantinople. In the ensuing battle, Gadifer junior cuts off Griffon’s arm and takes Theseus prisoner (he would have killed him, but since his battle cty was “Rome,” he hopes to hear news of his mother Flore). Griffon dies of his wound, Gadifer junior is left as undisputed Emperor, and Clodas is imprisoned. Theseus and Gadifer junior tell their stories, and Theseus realizes this is his son. Emperor Gadifer, wanting proof, sails to Rome disguised as a merchant. Rome is under attack  from King Estandart of Hungary, so he asks Flore for an army to lead against her foe. The Romans, however, are cowards, so Gadifer rides to Estandart’s tent alone, reveals his identity, and kills him. He then rides madly for Rome, while the Hungarians are too stunned to pursue. All is reveales, and the Pope baptizes Gadifer under the name “Gadifer Theseus.” Gadifer Theseus now goes to Cologne to meet his grandparents, then to Paris, to take the side of Baudour against the traitor Lambert in an inheritance dispute. Gadifer defeats Lambert in single combat. Lambert’s kinsmen treasonously interrupt the duel to rescue him, and flee with him over the Seine. Sanson of Brittany is elected regent until Ludovis’ return, and Gadifer heads for Rome, gathers missionaries, and heads for Constantinople, where they convert many. They build Hagia Sophia. Ex-Queen Clodas also converts.

Theseus and Gadifer conquer Antioch by a ruse, and convert it, crowning Calidas the goldsmith king. They return to Constantiople, where Gadifer begets triplets by his wife. The men sail for Rome, where the Pope crowns Theseus Emperor. They go to Cologne, where Floridas has died, and Theseus is crowned king. They go to France, where they pardon Lambert has regained power by wedding his sister Beatrice to Sanson. Lambert attempts to wed Baudour, but Theseus and the others crash the wedding feast and save her, killing Lambert. Ludovis is crowned king. Assaillant is given Brittany and Anjou. Theseus goes home to Rome with Flore, and Gadifer to Constantiople.

BOOK II OF THESEUS OF COLOGNE

Part II now begins, which seems to have been added by a later author and is, Rosenthal says, inferior in every way.

Gadifer heads home for Greece. There, Osane has given birth to triplet boys, who were substituted for puppies by Clodas. Clodas’ maid takes the boys to the woods, but doesn’t have the heart to drown them, and so simply abandons them. They are found by Regnier a charcoal  burner, who adopts them, to his wife’s annoyance, who makes him swear sobriety, so that they can afford to raise them. They are baptized Renechon, Regnault, and Regnier. Meanwhile, Gadifer curses his wife, insults her low birth, and locks her and the three dogs in the dungeon while he goes to save King Calidas of Antioch from Aceres. Osane languishes for four years, until Gadifer returns, when he releases and banishes her. She winds up in Jerusalem running a hostel for pilgrims. Clodas becomes Gadifer’s mistress. When the triplets are old enough to go into town on business, they buy weapons and armor instead of necessities, to their foster-father’s delight and their foster- mother’s fury. (They know they were adopted). When they are around thirteen or fourteen, Aceres again invades with fifteen kings. Theseus and Ludovis arrive to help Gadifer, but are captured. The triplets sell their wares in Constantionple’s market, receive mockery for their pretensions to arms and armor, and finally attack the Saracens, rescuing Theseus and Ludovis. Theseus dubs them knights, and Gadifer makes them his chamberlains. Clodas notices a family resemblance, and trembles with fear of discovey. She arranges for the food-taster to be poisoned and frames the triplets for it. To top it off, she accuses Regnault of attempting to seduce her. The charcoalburner offers to fight in his sons’ defense against Clodas’ champion. So it is done, and all the truth comes out. Clodas and her maid are burnt, and her champion (who colluded in the poisoning) is hanged.

Meanwhile, Aceres’ ally the King of Syria has stormed Antioch and killed King Calidas the Goldsmith (most versions), and Aceres himself is still outside Constantinople. After a bloody battle, Aceres retreats, but takes Renechon prisoner. Unfortunately for Aceres, a kinsman of his has usurped Jerusalem from him, so he offers to set Renechon free if Renechon defeats the usurper in single combat. Aceres confirms the oath by tapping his tooth. As Renechon slips into Jerusalem disguised as a pilgrim, he stays at his mother’s hostel. He tells her the news of court, but does not reveal he is the prince. Nor does she reveal she is Osane. She is influential at court, and introduces him to the Emir, to whom he tells his message. The Emir is reluctant to fight, but his barons overrule him.

At this point MSS Ph and L abridge drastically. P and the prose give the long version. Ph and L:

Gadifer, Theseus, and Ludovis head for the Holy Land, but Renechon has beheaded the Emir in single combat. The melee becomes general, however, and the Christians arrive as the pagans are fighting each other. They chase the heathens into Jerusalem, sack that city, rescue Renechon, and capture Aceres, who is baptized. Osane and Renechon reveal their identities to each other. There is much rejoicing, Renechon marries Queen Florinde of Rohaix [Edessa], the niece (or sister in P) of Aceres. Aceres soon renounced his baptism, but the story does not tell of that. All return to their own kingdoms and live happily ever after.

The long version, of P and prose:

Florinde arrives to help her brother Aceres, and she and Renechon fall in love. During the melee that follows the single combat, the Emir lives, Aceres is captured by the Christians, and Renechon escorts Florinde home to Rohaix. Theseus, Ludovis, and Gadifer abandon the war to rescue Baudour and Flore from the king of Frisia, who is invading France to avenge his kinsman Lambert. Florinde offers to convert to Christianity if Renechon can reclaim Jerusalem for her. He challenges the emir to single combat, defeats him, but allows him to return home. Florinde and Renechon are wed and become king and queen of Jerusalem and Syria, but Florinde keeps her baptism secret, letting the people think Renechon has become a Saracen. The emir, meanwhile, goes to the Sultan of Damascus for aid, and they besiege Jeruslaem.

Regnier the collier’s wife dies of luxury, and he makes a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, killing pagans on the way with a tent pole. In the confusion of battle, however, he saves the Emir and nearly kills Renechon, forcing him to retreat. The Sultan, impressed, gives Regnier a horse and a mighty axe, so mighty that the blacksmith who made it was executed with it, lest he ever make its equal. In a subsequent battle, Regnier takes Renechon prisoner, recognizing him only when it is too late and the king is in the Sultan’s hands. He realizes he is on the wrong side.

Florinde appoints one Buciffaus as her general. Regnier kills the Emir and joins the men of Jerusalem. The Sultan retreats with Renechon. Buciffaus neglects to pursue him, hoping to marry Florinde. Regnier prevents him from raping her, but she insists on pardoning him, very foolishly, for he tells the army she is a traitor and has her arrested. As Osane comforts her, Florinde considers sending for aid from Gadifer, her father-in-law. Osane realizes Renechon might be her son, but he also might be Clodas’. Osane does not know either, and so they send two Knights Templar as messengers to Constantinople.

Meanwhil, in France, King Gauffroy of Frisia is besieging Paris. Thesues, Gadifer, Regnault and Regnier the Younger arrive to help. Assaillant’s son, Gerart of Dammartin, distinguishes himself, but Gauffroy captues Queen Baudour and Queen Flore, the latter of whom had been acting as general. Gerart obtains their release by defeating Gauffroy’s champion in single combat. He then kidnaps Queen Coulumbe of Frisia, intending to marry her once Gauffroy is dead. Gauffroy is expelled from France, but not killed. At this juncture, the Templars arrive. As the forces of Christendom are massing for a Crusade to rescue Renechon, Gauffroy arrives, fights Gerart in single combat, and loses his life. He then weds the widow.

Meanwhile, Aceres, to get Pope Boniface to set him free, pretends to convert and accepts baptism. He then leads the Pope and the crusaders to Antioch, where his men welcome him and help him capture or kill all the Christians in the night. The Pope and some others are spared, so they may be tortured. Aceres next heads to Jerusalem, leaving the Pope to draw a plough until he returns.

Arriving in Jerusalem, Aceres assumes control and oversees a duel between Regnier and Buciffaus, the latter of whom loses, is executed, and his body burnt. Regnier feigns indifference to the plight of the Pope, in order to gain Aceres’ confidence. He then escapes with Florine and Osane, having forged a letter from Aceres. In Antioch, the three gain admittance to the prisoners, free them, and massacre the Saracen population. Pope Boniface crowns Regnier king of Antioch, and plans are laid to rescue Renechon from Damascus.

In Damascus, the Sultan’s wife, Ydierne, has secretly converted to Christianity and wishes to marry Regnault. Suspecting something, the Sultan orders her burnt. As she is being led to the pyre, Regnier and his men arrive in disguise, fire the city, rescue Ydierne (who has baptized herself while being led to the stake), slaughter many Saracens, and free Renechon. They all retreat to Antioch, and the reunions are joyful. Pope Boniface baptizes Ydierne properly. Aceres and the Sultan arrive and lay siege to Antioch, while Gadifer, ignorant of recent events, attacks Damascus. Aceres and the Sultan return to Damascus and capture Gadifer, Regnault, and Regnier the Younger.

In Constantinople, Gadifer is thought dead, so Clodas’ four brothers claim the throne. Regnier the Elder challegnes all of them to a duel, killing one and wounding two. The brothers surrender and are hanged. Gadifer the Elder, father of Osane becomes regent, and prepares an army to rescue Renechon. [Here begins a long lacuna in the 1550 edition] Regnier, meanwhile, goes to Rome, where Flore is in peril from the bishop of Hungary, newly elected Pope, as Boniface is thought dead. He is the brother (in-law?) of King Estandard, whose son Eracle claims the Imperial throne. Theseus and Ludovis, meanwhile, are fighting yet more traitors in France. Regnier arrives, enters the council, kills Eracle with his great axe, and drives out the anti-pope. The Romans are mustered to leave for Crusade, while Regnier heads for France.

Gauffroy of Frisia’s kinsman Nabugor of Autefeulle (Hauteville) is attacking France, in alliance with King Arthur of Britian (yes, that King Arthur). Regnier again joins the wrong side by mistake, and takes Oton prisoner. Fortunately, in the enemy’s camp he learns of a treason they are planning, and is able to join Ludovis’ side and foil it. Theseus tells the rebles that the King of France is sacred, ever since God sent three fleurs-de-lys to Clovis. Then he and the others head for Antioch, where the Sultan and Aceres are laying siege to Renechon, Osane, Florinde, Ydierne, and Pope Boniface. Renechon is captured. The Sultan demands his wife in exchange, and the deal is made, much to Aceres’ fury, who thinks Renechon should be executed and that Ydierne cannot be trusted. So angry is he, that he declares war on the Sultan, and sends part of his army to besiege him in Damascus.

Aceres himself is still before Antioch, so Gadifer the Elder arrives to aid. The reunions are joyful, but soon after Gadifer is captured by the Sultan’s men, who were on a raid. He is thrown in a dungeon with Gadifer the Younger, Regnault, and Regnier the Younger. They recognize each other, but Gadifer the elder dies. The jailor accuses the other three of murder, and brings them before the Sultan and Ydierne, who offer to free them if they will fiht for them. Ydierne secretly confesses her love to Regnault, who accepts it, after some surprise and hesitation. One of the courtiers, Thaurus, who has loved her long, plans to betray Damascus to Aceres in exchange for her hand in marriage.

The French and Romans arrive to aid Antioch, and the reunions are joyful. They raise the siege and march against Damascus, to fight Aceres and the Sultan at once. Regnier the Elder captures Aceres, who surrenders Jerusalem to the Christians, and Renechon is crowned King. But the Sultan, with Gadifer the Younger, Regnault, and Regnier the Younger, attack Jerusalem, so that these three are against the rest of their family. Regnier the Elder, however, captures all three of them, but four unscruplous Romans steal them away to Antioch, in order to hold them for ransom. Thaurus renews his offer to the Christians to betray Damascus, which they accept. Renechon, however, is unwilling to hand over Ydierne, so Regnier the Elder enters Damascus, accuses Thaurus of treason, and fights him in trial-by-combat. [MS P ends here]

Regnier defeats Thaurus, who is executed. He then slips away with Ydierne, and the Sultan is killed in an ensuing battle. Damascus is taken, Aceres sent on his way, and the family of Theseus goes to Jerusalem.

[Here 1550 edition lacuna ends.]

The Romans who stole the prisoners present them to Pope Boniface and company. All are recognized, and the whole family is united at long, long, long last. The Pope weds Regnault and Ydierne. Regnier marries one Clerombaude, sister of Gerart of Dammartin. Regnier the Elder reigns in Antioch. Renechon and Florinde rule Jerusalem. Regnault and Ydeirne reign in Damascus, capture Edessa, and kill Aceres, whoe lands they give to Regnier the Younger. The triplets hold the Holy Land their whole lives, but when they die the pagans claim it, not to be dislodged until the coming of Godfrey of Bouillion.

Let thus much suffice for the chanson of Theseus of Cologne, and let us now look at the other forms of the legend.

The Legend of Emperor Octavian

The legend of Octavian has only a marginal connection to the legend of Charlemagne, but it was the inspiration for the second part of Book II of the Reali di Francia, and one Irish version does set it in the reign of Charlemagne. All other versions are set in the reign of Dagobert. This story has no relation to Augustus Caesar.

The legend of Octavian is extant in three major redactions. Please note that I have given them this classification myself; it does not reflect scholarly usage.

THE FIRST REDACTION
Octavian. A French poem in octosyllables, mid to late 1200’s, ancestor of all other versions.

Octovion. The Northern English version. A poem in tail-rhyme. Can be found in EETS vol. 289, or in TEAMS Four Middle English Romances. c. 1350.

Sechrain Na Banimpire. Or “The Wanderings of the Empress”. Irish prose, flowery like most Irish translations. Englished by Carl Marstrander in “Sechrain Na Banimpire.” Ériu No. 5, 1911. [not freely available on the internet, due to a lack of copies of the journal in America and the idiotic length of copyright in Europe. Be comforted, however. You’re not missing much.]

Octovion. The Southern English version. A poem in six-line aaabab stanzas, with the b lines shorter than the a’s. [This is best known nowadays as Robert Burns’ signature stanza]. Can be found in Weber’s Metrical Romances. No modern edition for the general reader. c. 1350.

THE SECOND REDACTION

Florent et Lyon. French prose, first printed around 1500, but perhaps written earlier, the ancestor of the French chapbooks. No modern editions.

Kaiser Octavianus. A German chapbook, from 1545.

Hans Sach’s play, 1555.

Sebastian Wilde’s poem, 1566.

Danish chapbook, oldest surviving from 1597, probably first printed earlier.

A Polish version from the 1600’s.

The Russian translation, made from the Polish around 1670. No edition, to my knowledge.

Komediya Olundina, or Caesar Otto. A play based on the above by Princess Natalya Alexeyevna, sister of Peter the Great. Included in I. A. Shlyapkin’s Tsarevna Natalya Alekseyevna I teatr yevo vremeni.

A Very Edifying and Touching Tale of an Empress and Her Two Sons and a Lioness. A shorter Russian chapbook version, with no proper names. Published in P. N. Rybnikov’s Pesni, volume 3.

Another play based on that, which was part of the standard repertoire in the schools during Peter the Great’s reign. To be found in S. A. Shcheglova’s Neizvestnaya drama Petrovsky epokhi o tsaritse i l’vitse. In the journal Trudy komissii po drevnerusskoy literature, 1932, I, pp.153-229.

Naturally, none of the Russian works have been translated into English.

Dutch chapbook, oldest surviving from 1621, probably first printed earlier.

Icelandic chapbook, oldest surviving from 1733, probably first printed earlier.

The French prose and its descendents [German, Danish, Dutch, Icelandic, Polish, Russian] are distinguished by renaming the younger Octavian “Lion”, and adding an episode where he wins a tournament and therefore marries the daughter of the King of Spain. They also make Florence become King of England.

THE LONG REDACTION

Florent and Octavian. A chanson de geste in rhymed alexandrines. Some claim it is the original, but much more likely it is an expansion of the octosyllabic version. c. 1356.

Othovyan. A prose adaptation of the long version and of Le Bone Florence de Rome. Circa 1450. Never printed.

 

OCTAVIAN IN OCTOSYLLABLES

Emperor Octavian of Rome, after fifteen years of childlessness, begets twins on his wife, the daughter of King Dagobert of France. His mother says twins are a sign of adultery. The emperor denies it, but his mother slips a page boy into the empress’ bed and shows him to Octavian. As the empress has a prophetic nightmare, Octavian beheads the boy, and when she wakes up, he banishes her. As she rests by a spring, her children are stolen, one  by an ape and one by a lioness. The one stolen by the ape is rescued by a knight, captured by robbers, and bought by a merchant of Paris named Clement, who names him Florent and raises him as his own. The one stolen by the lioness is recovered by his mother, who journeys with him and the lioness [for lions have no power to harm chaste women of royal blood] to Jerusalem, where she is treated kindly by the king. Her son, Octavian, is dubbed a knight when he comes of age.

Florent, meanwhile, due to his high birth, has no talent for business, and wastes all his money on horses, hounds and hawks, much to his foster father’s displeasure. After some humorous scenes, a Sultan attacks Paris, bringing his giant Aragonour and his daughter Marsibelle with him. Emperor Octavian rides to succor King Dagobert. Aragonour promises Marsibelle the head of King Dagobert. Armed in a rusty suit of armor he found in Clement’s attic, Florent kills the giant, and presents his head to Marsibelle, and proceeds to carry her off, but is obliged to leave her when he is ambushed by pagans, much to the princess’ regret. He returns to Paris, and she with her maid Olive, plans to see him again. Clement and Florent are presented to Dagobert and Octavian, and Florent is dubbed. Much humor is made about Clement’s practical, thrifty, behavior at the extravagant court feast.

Florent volunteers to be a messenger, in order to see Marsibelle again. At the Sultan’s tent, however, he is recognized, and must fight his way home. He does, however, receive Marsibelle’s sleeve, and wears it in the next battle. Later, he sneaks into her garden, and she tells him to steal her father’s unicorn. Clement, disguised as a Saracen, accomplishes this. Nonetheless, the Saracens capture Florent, Dagobert, and Octavian in the next battle.

This news comes to Jerusalem, whence the young Octavian, his mother, and the lioness set out with an army. He saves the captives, and all recognize each other. Marsibelle converts and marries Florent, Octavian’s mother is sentenced to boil in brass, but stabs herself instead, and everyone else lives happily ever after.

 ENGLISH OCTOVIAN

Octavian’s seven-year barrenness is cured not by coincidence, but by prayer to Our Lady and by endowing a monastery. Octavian throws the page boy’s head at the queen to wake her up. In the Northern version, he refrains from sentencing her until he has invited her father, [who is not Dagobert, here, but the king of Calabria] to court and asked him what adulteresses deserve. He answers that they deserve to be burnt, and Octavian sentences the queen accordingly, only commuting her sentence to banishment when she is already tied to the stake. The queen, living in Jerusalem, is taken into King Amauri’s household, instead of merely being known to him. In the Southern version, Clement is a butcher, not a merchant.

 IRISH OCTAVIAN

From the Northern English. King Charlemagne replaces Dagobert, and Roland, Oliver, Ogier, Naymes, Gui of Burgundy, and Denis [probably Saint Denis, but here king of Norway!] at first refuse to fight the Sultan’s giant, and afterwards are captured by the Sultan alongside Plurens [Florent]. Plurens marries the Sultan’s daughter Felicita, and Octavian marries Charlemagne’s daughter.

 FLORENT ET LYON

The French prose and its descendents [German, Danish, Dutch, Icelandic, Polish, Russian] are distinguished by renaming the younger Octavian “Lion”, and adding an episode where he wins a tournament and therefore marries the daughter of the King of Spain. They also make Florence become King of England. I will pass over this redaction, because it has nothing to do with Charlemagne, only noting that by the time the story reached Russia, the emperor was named Otto, and the empress Olunda.

FLORENT ET OCTAVIEN IN ALEXANDRINES

The story is set in the year 240, under Dagobert, the fourth king of his line, who founded the Abbey of Saint Denis. Emperor Octavian, long childless, goes to help him fight the Wandres [Vandals?] and returns to find his wife Florimonde has given birth to twins, and been accused of adultery, despite the red crosses on their shoulders [a sign of royal blood]. The story continues as the short version, only changing a few names (the sultan is Acarius, the giant Fernagu), until the younger Octavian is sixteen, at which time the Sultan of Damascus demands the hand of Esclarmonde, daughter of King Amauri of Jerusalem. Octavian and his lion defeat the sultan, and the lad wins the love of Esclarmonde. Traitors wrongfully tell the king that he has deflowered her, and so Amauri sends Octavian to the Sultan with a Bellerophon-letter. The Sultan decides to keep him imprisoned instead of killing him, and marches on Jerusalem. Amauri surrenders Esclarmonde, who discovers the situation, pretends that she sent the letter, and asks for the favor of killing Octavian herself, immediately. The sultan sends her with a jailer to the dungeon, but she kills him and frees her lover. The two flee with the lion. They sail from Acre to Rome, still under siege by Acarius, who has captured the Emperor and Florent. Octavian’s traitorous minister Couart is mulling how best to surrender, when Dagobert arrives, and saves the day with the young Octavian and the lion’s help. The youth exposes his grandmother as a fraud, and defeats Couart, her lover, in a trial by combat. Couart is hanged, but the young Octavian manages to get his grandmother’s sentence reduced from burning to perpetual imprisonment.
Acarius retreats, but still has Florent and Octavian senior in captivity. Octavian junior follows him to Babylon, stopping en route to save Amauri from the Sultan of Damascus. Amauri is mortally wounded in the battle, but pardons Octavian and bequeaths him his daughter and his kingdom. Octavian leads his new kingdom to war against Babylon, but on the way he learns of Margalie, Marsebille’s sister, who is locked in Castel-Geant, where only minstrels are allowed to visit. Dressed as a minstrel, he goes to her, who fortunately has fallen in love with him by report. Her uncle, King Malaquin, catches the happy couple, and a fight ensues which ends with Octavian and his lady’s maid holding a tower against his garrison. The maid shows him a secret passage, and he slips away to defeat Acarius, and thereby win Margalie’s hand in marriage.
One month later, as they reign in Babylon [Mesopotamian Babylon, for once; not Cairo], Clement, his son Clodoan, Esclarmonde and Marsebille arrive. The awkwardness is resolved by wedding Florentto Marsebille, and Clodoan to Esclarmonde, and giving this last couple the throne of Babylon. Clement receives Jerusalem, and the brothers and their wives go home to Italy.
King Morgan of Tartary lays siege to Babylon. Esclarmonde kills her husband by treason, and sends to young Octavian for aid. He arrives, and she steals his seal to send a forged letter to Marsebille, luring her onto a ship bound for the Levant. Esclarmonde’s goons are about to throw her overboard, when she is saved by prayer. She meets King Corsabrun of Rochebrune’s ship, who is bringing aid to Morgan. He drowns her persecutors, and brings her to Rochebrune, where he leaves her as governor while he makes war. Octavian thinks his wife is dead, thanks to Esclarmonde. King Cladius of Tarse abandons Corsabrun after a quarrel at chess, and joins Octavian, converting to Christianity. They two go to Jerusalem for help from Clement. They rest at Rochebrun, where the lion recognizes Marsebille and refuses to leave her, much to Octavian’s bafflement. On his way back from Jerusalem with thirty thousand soldiers, he besieges Rochebrun to get his lion back, and all is explained. They go to Babylon, rout the Tartars, burn Esclarmonde at the stake, and Octavian is again Sultan.
Florent returns from a trip to Paris to find a note from Marsebille, saying she has taken their son Othonet to Babylon to see her family. But really, traitors told her he was dead, then, when she wanted to sail home, threw her and her son overboard. She is rescued by merchants of Palerne and Aumarie, who take her to be a slave in Palerme and him to be a slave in Aumarie. The traitors try to kill Florent in his bedroom, who jumps out the window, escapes, rallies his faithful men, and kills them. He then goes to Babylon, but is caught be Saracen pirates, who sell him to the King of Palerne. He is comforted by Princess Police. Meanwhile, Corsaut of Aumaries, a giant, defies the King of Palerne, but Florent kills him. Corsaut’s men, though, seize him and sell him to the King of Aumarie, where he meets Marsebille. The two escape and flee to Rome. Othonent, meanwhile, is being raised by the Saracen King of Palerne as his own son, under the name of Aceré. At sixteen, he is dubbed, conquers Aumarie, and learns he is adopted, which gladdens him, as he can now wed Police. He leads his army to Rome, is captured by Florent, who recognizes him. When his fellow Saracens refuse to follow his example in conversion, he is obliged to rout them. Police is the only one who converts. Marsebille dies soon after, and Florent goes to end his days in Babylon with Octavian, leaving Othon as king of Rome. He was the father of La Bonne Florence, whose story is announced to follow in all manuscripts, but only does so in one verse MS, and all the prose ones.

Since La Bonne Florence’s story originated separately, was only attached to Octavian in a late version, continued to circulate independently afterwards, and has nothing to do with Charlemagne, it will be treated of in a later post, if at all.

So let us leave thus subject, and treat of King Rother.