The Legend of Girart of Roussillon – Origins and Influence

ORIGINS OF THE LEGEND

Girart of Roussillon, Girart of Vienne, and Girart of Euphrate are all inspired by the same historical figure: Girart II, Count of Paris, born 810, ascended 837, died c. 878.

Now Girart I of Paris had married Rotrude (who may have been the daughter of Carloman, son of Charles Martel), and founded the Girardid dynasty of Counts of Paris. His three sons, Stephen, Begon, and Leuthard I, succeeded him in turn as Counts. Leuthard I had two sons: Girart and Adalard. Adalard served as King Louis the Pious’ seneschal, and Girart became Count of Paris. Meanwhile, Count Hugh of Tours had two daughters: Bertha and Ermengarde. Girart II married Bertha sometime before 819, and Ermengarde married Lothair I, son of Louis the Pious and king of Middle Francia, Bavaria, and Italy, and Emperor of the West. In 836, Girart was sent on official business to Italy. In 837, he was made Count of Paris. He lost the title in 841, when he took the side of Lothair I against King Charles the Bald and broke down the bridges across the Seine to inconvenience the latter. Girart was among Lothair’s soldiers at the Battle of Fontenoy in 841, when that king and his nephew Pepin II of Aquitaine were decisively defeated by Louis the German and Charles the Bald. Lothair nonetheless made Girart his count of the palace in 842. When Lothair I died in 855, his son Charles, still a child, inherited Provence as his kingdom, and Girart became his regent. In 860, Girart repelled a band of Vikings who had sailed up the Rhone. The following year, Charles the Bald attempted to disinherit his nephew, but he was repelled, possibly by Girart, and returned to France. Around this time, Girart and Bertha founded the monasteries of Vézelay and Pothièrs. In 863, Charles of Provence died young and childless, and his lands passed to his brother Lothair II, King of Lotharingia, for whom Girart continued to administer them until that king’s death in 869, whereupon his territories were divided by his uncles Louis the German and Charles the Bald. Charles went to occupy Provence, but met with resistance from Girart and Bertha. Charles laid siege to Vienne, which was ably defended by Bertha while Girart was holding another castle nearby. Charles, however, first burnt all the lands around Vienne and then promised the people mercy if they surrendered. The people told Bertha they wished to surrender, Bertha send word to Girart, and Girart formally surrendered to Charles on Christmas Eve, 870. The couple went into retirement in their fiefs near Avignon, where Girart died between 877 and 879. He was buried in the abbey of Pothièrs, in Langres, where once could be seen Girart’s tomb on the Gospel side of the chapel, Bertha’s on the Epistle, and, in front of the altar, an epitaph for their infant son Thierry.

Bedier would have it, as usual, that the legend was created in the 11th or 12th century by some minstrel who had heard or read the monks’ chronicles of their founder, Girart. He argues that the only similarities between Girart of Paris and Girart of Roussillon are that they fought a king named Charles, had a wife named Bertha, had a son who died young, and founded certain monasteries, all facts that a minstrel could have learned at the abbey. The minstrels did not, however, know about such striking facts as Girart of Paris’ defeat of the Vikings, his protection of the young prince Charles of Provence against his cruel uncle, Bertha’s protection of Vienne on her own, etc., all things we would expect them to know if the story of Girart had been passed down orally.

Although Saint Badilon is real, the cult of St. Mary Magdalene at Vézelay seems to have been an invention of the eleventh century. Although Girart and Bertha did obtain for their monasteries the relics of Ss. Pontien, Eusebius, Andéol and Ostien, there is no record of the relics of the Magdalen there prior to 1050. Unfortunately for Vézelay, in the mid 1200’s a tomb was discovered in Provence. This tomb was, in reality, a Gallo-Roman tomb of the 500’s with a carving of Pontius Pilate washing his hands and a servant holding the washbasin. The discoverer, however, thought the servant was Mary Magdalene preparing to wash the feet of Christ, and the word went out that St. Mary Magdalene’s tomb had been found. The monks of Vézelay now claimed that they had received their relics from the south, but their popularity declined, and the cult in Provence flourished. Had it not been for this discovery, there would have been no association of the Magdalen with Provence, no tradition of St. Lazarus as bishop, no legend of St. Martha taming the Tarrasque, no Holy Blood, Holy Grail, no Da Vinci Code, and Dan Brown would be an obscure third-rate hack writer, instead of a rich and famous third-rate hack writer.

The relics at Vézelay were destroyed the Protestants during the Wars of Religion, and the church turned into a stable. The relics currently venerated there are replacements sent from elsewhere. The shrine in Provence was destroyed during the Revolution, but the skull was saved and is now in a rebuilt shrine. The most likely candidate for the real relics are those brought to Constantinople in the ninth century, but I can find no information on what became of them afterwards, or if they are still preserved today.

Read more on St. Mary Magdalene here.

Val Pergunde is perhaps Valprionda, a suburb of Cahors.

INFLUENCE

Girart of Roussillon appears already in the Oxford Song of Roland as one of the Twelve Peers, and he dies at Roncesvalles. Later works incorporated him into the elaborate genealogies of the Paladins, and made him the brother of Aymon of Dordone, Doon de Nanteuil, and Bueve d’Aigremont. He plays hardly any role, however, in the poems of the Nanteuil cycle or those of the Aymonids. On occasion he fights alongside his kinsmen, but they seldom if ever, if I recall correctly, allude to the events of his life story as given in his own chansons. Later still, Girart was made into one of the twelve sons of Doon de Mayence. Besides the three mentioned above, the other eight were: Gaufrei (father of Ogier the Dane), Grifon d’Hautefeuile (of Altafoglia, one of the Maganzans), Othon, Ripeus, Seguin of Bordeaux (father of Huon), Pierre (father of the Swan Knight), Morant de Riveirs, and Hernaut de Girone.

Some MSS of Hervis de Metz insert an episode, between Hervis proper and the beginning of Garin le Loherain, wherein Girart is at war with Charles Martel. Charles asks the Pope for permission to tax the Church, reminding him that he has always given generously to her and now needs her help. The Pope agrees, but Girart is on the warpath and nearly at Paris. Charles has enough money now, but not yet enough men, and so, reluctantly, sends to Hervis for aid. Hervis makes ready to go to France, but before he gets there, Girart conveniently dies of illness. He is buried in an abbey he founded at Bar-sur-Aube.

There are other minor references to Girart. Auberi le Bourguignon conflates Girart of Roussillon and Girart of Eufrate in a prologue. Adenet le Roi alludes to the story in Bertha Broadfoot, as does the anonymous Italian who wrote the Entrée en Espagne. Girart is mentioned in some of the chronicles, more usually as the founder of abbeys than as the adversarial brother-in-law of Charles the Bald or Charles the Hammer, or as the real Girart II of Paris.

Let thus much suffice for the Legend of Girart of Roussillon, and let us now speak of Auberi of Bourguignon, to him his fiefs were given when he died without inheritors.

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The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 11: Italian Variants and Origins

CRITICISM

This poem’s vast popularity, which resulted in Rinaldo becomming the most famous knight of Charlemagne’s among the Italian people, is due, I think, to two related factors. The first is that the poem is, as far as a foreigner can judge, well-written. It moves along with scarcely a dull moment from beginning to end. The second is, that it is unabashedly on the side of the House of Clairmont. Gone are the moral dilemmas of the French poem, the conflicts between loyalty to country and loyalty to family, the question of whether it is right to obey one’s king when he is clearly in the wrong. The poem sometimes even crosses the border into protagonist-centered morality, as when Namo and Ogier have no qualms about sacrificing thousands of Christians in the vain hope of reconciling Charles and Rinaldo, or when Malagigi arranges the betrayal and slaughter of the Maganzans. Anything the House of Clairmont does is fair play, but anything the Maganzans do is foul treason. One can clearly see the difference between a poem written for the nobility of France serving kings of highly varying competence, and a poem written for the lower and middle classes of an Italy which had only recently advanced from deadly feuds within her cities to deadly feuds between her cities.

ORIGINS

The poet relates the traditional episodes rather briefly, to make more room for his own inventions.

In much the same way as the Old French, where the traditional heart of the poem (the treason at Vaucoleurs and its aftermath) is the same across all MSS, whereas the later additions (Montessor and Tremoigne) were freely rewritten, so in the Italian the (by-then) traditional portions representing the Old French chanson are similar in all four of the oldest copies, while the new additions such as Rinaldo’s giant-killing spree are freely altered.

Two messengers are sent to Buovo d’Agrismonte, as in O. Afterwards, however, the account of the quarrel at chess and the rest of the story follow DPA.

Combats between fathers and sons are well-known in folklore. Odysseus is slain by his son. Cuchulain slays his. Rustan slays his. Arthur and Mordred slay each other. Hildebrand and his son recognize each other before either is slain. Amadis of Gaul was slain by Esplendian in the [lost] original book, but in Montalvo’s reworking they recognize each other in time.

The siege of Monte Soro is much abridged, but what it does keep follows the French closely, such as the slaying of one Ugo de Sant’ Omeri by Guicciardo.

Mambrino is simply a replacement for Begon. His brothers appear to be Italian inventions.

The siege of Monte Albano is much condensed from the French, and appears to take place over a few months, rather than years and years.

The corpse stops in Ceoigne, as in POA, the French prose, and Caxton.

VARIANTS

In a: immediately after the slaying of the giant Constantino, the next adventure is that of the Amostante of Persia, wherein Rinaldo visits the Sultan before offering his services to the Almostante.

The Marte episode is also narrated differently. The four cousins have their own adventures while crossing the sea. When they finally arrive, Rinaldo and Ulivieri fight in a judicial duel for Queen Sibilia. At the feast after they win, the spies of Gano expose the identity of the four newcomers, and a battle breaks out. The eight Paladins are driven back to the Royal Palace, where the Queen confides to them the secret of her love, and shows them a secret exit. They are nonetheless pursued, Rinaldo cuts off Marte’s head, but Astolfo is captured. Rinaldo sends Baiard away, and the battle proceeds as usual. Only after this battle do the Four Sons visit the Holy Sepulcher, and when they return to France Orlando specifically reconciles them with Charles.

In the beta family: Two cantos are interpolated at the beginning of the poem. The first expands on the backstory between Amone and Ginamo, and the second is merely a description of the Paladins gathering at Charles’ court.

Later on, it is Ginamo’s brother Folco who meets the Sons and is slain by them. Rinaldo kills Ginamo in a judicial duel in Paris.

The Amostante’s daughter is named Constanza, not Fioretta.

The story of Fierabras is interpolated between the end of the war against Mambrino and the attempted pilgrimage of Ganelon to Compostella.

Rinaldo’s corpse, very sensibly, does not travel to Cogna but instead into Saint Peter’s Church in Cologne. A scroll proceeds from his mouth, on which his name and history are written. The news is taken to Charles, who comes with the Paladins to pay their respects. The lamentations of Aymonetto, Ivonetto, his brothers, Orlando, Astofo, etc. are related. Even Ganelon is given a stanza of (undoubtably hypocritical) mourning, regretful for all the times they quarrelled. Charles hangs the masons, and endows an abbey of monks.

The poem appears to end, but in some beta editions is added, without explanation, a whole furter canto of adventures. (In other copies, this episode is more logically placed just before Rinaldo’s departue for Cologne) Ganelon tells Charles he really ought to hang that thief Rinaldo. Charles concurs, but asks how. Ganelon suggests inviting Rinaldo to court, and then hanging him. Charles agrees, and writes a letter, which he sends via Turpin. Rinaldo arrives at court, and after a feast, retires to his chamber in a tower. Ganelon, Charles, and a hundred goons come in the middle of the night to arrest him, having first distracted the Peers on some pretext or other. Rinaldo is imprisoned and sentenced to be hanged, much to the Peers’ grief. Malagise, on hearing the news, summons a demon, Macabello. The two disguise themselves as friars and fly to Paris, where they request to hear Rinaldo’s shrift. Charles lets them into the prison, where Macabello assumes the shape of Rinaldo and stays behind while Rinaldo dons friar’s garb and leaves with his cousin. The two of them go back to Charles and announce that Rinaldo is impenitent, and ought to be hanged at once. As the friars leave, Charles sends the Maganzans to bring Rinaldo out for execution – but he is gone! Charles rants and raves, and accuses Alda the Fair (here Orlando’s wife, not betrothed) of helping him escape. She knows nothing, but a fight has broken out in the palace between the Maganzans and everyone else, and the traitors die by the score. Some confusing trips of Rinaldo back and forth to Paris and Montalbano follow, in which he fights Maganzans and makes speeches to Charles. Ganelon, alas, survives, but after the treason of Roncesvalles he will be quartered by wild horses.

There were, of course, many other corruptions in the later printed editions, sometimes extending to whole cantos being omitted or shuffled around. The curious may find them all duly catalogued in Melli’s edition.

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 10: Italian

The Italian family consists of the following versions:

I Cantari di Rinaldo da Montealbano. In ottava rima, from the late 1300’s. Crticial edition by Elio Melli in 1973 under the title I Cantari di Rinaldo da Monte Albano.

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

Prose Rinaldo. Probably by Andrea da Barberino, though this cannot be proved.

Rinaldo, by Torquato Tasso. In ottava rima. Translated into English couplets by John Hoole, whom Scott notoriously described as “a noble transmuter of gold into lead.” More recently translated into ottava rima by Max Wickert.

I CANTARI DI RINALDO DA MONTE ALBANO

The oldest and best version is in a MS known as palatino 364, of the Bib. Naz. di Firenze. There are three other versions, each of which expand the first section (up to the chessboard-murder) in their own unique ways. R: a manuscript fragment which ends just before the ambush of Buovo, Cod. Riccardiano 683. a: a printed edition without title or date, probably from 1479, British Museum, Printed Books G 11352. b: the first (surviving) printing of El Inamoramento de Rinaldo da Monte Albano, from which all other printings are descended. After the chessboard-murder these three versions all follow Pal closely, with the exception of b’s interpolation of Fierabras before the beginning of the war against Monte Albano. Since b is the ancestor of all other versions, they are known as the beta family. is most likely related to the prose version in the Laurenzian library.

 PALATINO 364

Charlemagne holds court at Paris, when Ginamo of Baiona tells Amone that he [Ginamo] has cuckolded him [Amone], and that all four of his [Amone’s] sons are actually Ginamo’s. Amone, furious, heads for Dordona, but Orlando, Astolfo, Ulivieri, and Namo send messengers ahead of him to warn the Duchess, who flees with her sons Alardo, Rinaldo, Guicciardo and Ricciardetto to Monte Ermino [Montherme]. Rinaldo swears to clear his mother’s name.

Amone is son of Bernardo of Chiaramonte, and his brothers are Girado of Ronsiglione, Milon d’Angrante [Orlando’s father], King Otto of England, [Astolfo’s father], Duodo of Antonia [Doon de Nanteuil?] and Buovo of Agrismonte. Buovo and his wife Smeragda were long childless, and so went on pilgrimage to Saint James. Smeragda became pregnant, and gave birth to twin boys. However, they were still in Spain at the time, and their train was attacked by King Avilante. Only Buovo and his wife escaped, and their children were left behind in the rout. King Avilante finds the one, adopts him and names him Viviano. The other is found by the Queen of Belfiore, who happens to be passing by some days later. She finds him “mal giacere” [lying ill: that is, alone], names him Malagigi, and teaches him magic. By his magic, he grows up to win Baiardo, whom he finds in a grotto with a hauberk, a helmet, and the sword Frusberta. He slays the deadly serpent that guards them, and claims them. Since, by his magic, he knows who his family are and the peril they are in, he takes leave of his foster-mother and pretends to be a merchant. He sells his cousins Baiardo, saying that no bastard can sit on this wonderful horse. Rinaldo, reassured by his mother, buys the beast, after which Malagigi reveals his identity and departs. The brethren ride to Paris with their train. Ginamo meets them on the way and claims to be their father, but they defy him, and battle is joined. The brethren slay Ginamo, who is carried to his castle, where his sons Ramondo and Beltramo mourn him. Although the Sons are reconciled with their father, Charles banishes them from Christendom for three years for killing Ginamo. As they leave, Gano secretly follows to ambush them. Luckily, Orlando is suspicious, and rides with his other cousins after them, finding them just after Gano’s men have leapt out of the bushes. Gano has concealed his insignia, but Rinaldo gives him an ugly cut through his helmet. Gano flees when Orlando arrives, still unknown. The Duchess returns to Dordona with Amone, and Rinaldo takes up residence in Monte Ermino, deciding to lay low instead of actually leaving. Gano returns to court, where he pretends he had a hunting accident. Orlando is suspicious, but can prove nothing.

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The Legend of Renaud 9: Saint Reinolt of Cologne

The legend of the martyrdom of Renaud of Montauban, or Rinaldo, is found in two stand-alone versions, besides those at the end of the Quatre Fils Aymon.

For editions of the Quatre Fils, see my other posts. A complete synoptic version of the martyrdom exists as a thesis at the University of Ghent but will likely never be printed. Support copyright reform!

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

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

La Quatre Fils Aymon – Original

According to the Quatre Fils, the penitent Renaud, after seeing his two sons established in their patrimony, wanders for a time in the forest, occasionally staying at a monastery, until he comes to Cologne, where he offers his services to the masons who are building the Church of Saint Peter. Renaud lifts a stone which four other men cannot carry, does more work than ten other men can do, and only accepts enough wages as will buy him bread to eat and straw to sleep on. This goes on for some time, until the other masons, growing jealous, kill him and throw his body into the Rhine. But all the fish of the river hold the body up, and at nightfall torches appear around it and angels begin to sing. The murderers confess and are pardoned, and the archbishop goes to fetch the body, brings it into the church, and sings Mass over it. After the Mass, Renaud’s body is miraculously carried out of the church, and into a cart, which travels of its own accord from Cologne to Tremoigne, where all the sick who seek him are made whole. According to DN and the Dutch, the corpse went straight from Cologne to Tremoigne. According to LC, it stopped in Ceoigne for the night before proceeding to Tremoigne. According to POA and the French prose, it stopped at Ceoigne and went no farther.

In DN, the masons drop a stone from a scaffold onto Renaud’s head as he humbly eats his poor bread. In all other versions, French, Dutch and Latin, they kill him with their hammers or pickaxes. Castets, who thought L was the oldest version, suspected that the variance was due to a confusion between martel meaning hammer and marteau meaning stone block. Perhaps he is right, or perhaps, since D is actually the oldest, he had the matter backwards, and Hunaud I who was killed lapidibus [by stones] became Renaud who was killed, lapicidus [by stonemasons], with a hammer.

The Prose Life of Saint Reinold

The prose Vita Sancti Reinoldi, monachi et martyris completely ignores its hero’s military career. It makes briefly alludes to his wars against Charlemagne, but never makes mention of his horse Baiard, or of his cousin Maugis the enchanter or of his sons Aymonet and Yonnet. It alludes to the fame of the four brothers [whom it does not name] being celebrated in the songs of the people, but that is all. By contrast, the Vita recounts several miracles of Reinold which are not to be found in the Quatre Fils. The writer claims Reinold, after a knightly career, joined a monastery [which one is not specified] in Cologne. While he was still a monk, God answered his prayers by curing a man who had been born blind, and a boy who was sick with a dangerous fever. After these things, by devout prayer he obtained from God the end of a pestilence that was ravaging the country. His fame spread, and songs were sung about him. At his abbot’s orders, he was put in charge of the stonemasons. He continued to visit churches and to devoutly give alms, besides working harder than any of the men under his command. The other masons, excited by jealousy, broke his skull with a hammer, and threw him into the Rhine. Angels bore his soul to heaven. The abbot, searching for the body, could not find it. However, an old and infirm woman had a dream in which she was told to go the river, where blessed Reinold is buried. Upon awakening, she did so and was healed. The monks took his body to the Church and honored him as a saint. Sometime later, the cities of Tremoigne and Clerum [apparently Ceoigne] both wished to have some of the relics of Reinold, and the Archbishop was unsure which to give them to. The Lord indicated Tremoigne [how we are not told], and Reinold’s body was carried thither, without a miracle, but accompanied by three thousand rejoicing citizens. He was laid to rest there on the seventh of January. God continues to work miracles there. The blind have been cured, lepers cleansed and paralytics restored.

There are no dates given whatsoever. The suggestion of the Bollandists that the Archbishop who oversaw the translation of the relics was St. Anno II (r. 1056-1075) is no more than a guess.

The Verse Life of Saint Reinold

The verse Vita Sancti Reynoldi is accompanied in the manuscript by a prose commentary which mostly repeats the same story but sometimes adds new details. The poem tells how Adelhardus, Ritzardus, Reynoldus, and Writardus were Frenchmen, born at Dorduna to Heymon and Aya, daughter of Pipin and sister of King Charles. The four were mighty men of war. Reynoldus was a Catholic man and a great warrior who was filled with virtue and the fear of God and wished to renounce the world. He called his sons and divided his property among them and his wife Claritia, (who is here the daughter, not the sister, of King Ivonis of Tarascon). He leaves the castle of Montalban to his son Emericus, and departs for the wilderness. His father, mother and brothers pursue him but cannot find him. For three years he serves God in the wilderness, until he hears a voice from God telling him to go fight the infidels in Jerusalem. He does so, slaying three Sultans with only a staff. He then returns home, briefly visits Charlemagne’s court, and then goes to Cologne, where Agilolphus (r. 713-717) is bishop. (A medieval note in the manuscript suggests Riolphus (r. 768-782) as the proper reading). Reynoldus lives such a holy life that he cures the blind, dumb, and possessed. The “magister claustri” [abbot] appoints him to oversee the stonemasons. He works harder than any of them, which arouses their envy, and so they kill him. This is the fourteenth of May, the year 800, according to the prose gloss. Reynoldus, now enjoying the beatific vision, appears to a paralytic woman and heals her, and some time afterward an angel shows where his body is lying, and on the third of September it is drawn out of the river and put on display in a church in Cologne, where God cures many more people through it. The people of Tremoigne wish to have the body, and their request is granted. The body is laid in a cart, which moves of its own accord to Tremoigne. The people of Tremoigne build a church for him, whither Charlemagne comes to mourn his nephew.

OTHER VERSIONS

Outside of the chanson, the oldest explicit reference to Renaud of Montauban as a saint is to be found in the work of Alberic of Trois-Fontaines, writing around the year 1232. According to Alberic, Renaldus, Alardus, Richardus, and Guichardus were the four sons of Haymo [Aymon] and of a sister of Charlemagne’s. Saint Renaldus was the oldest of the four, became a monk in the abbey of Saint Pantaleon at Cologne, was there martyred [how is not specified], and is now buried in Tremoigne. Alberic relates their history as a brief aside during a list of Charlemagne’s warriors who accompanied him into Spain in the year 805. He never mentions it elsewhere, so it is unclear what year he thought the martyrdom occurred.

In a ninth century missal from the Cathedral of Cologne, someone has written in tenth century handwriting the names “reginoldi” and “reginoldo” on the margins of the Collect and Postcommunion of the Mass of a martyr. Unfortunately, nothing is known about this saint. The names are all that were thus written, and the prayers themselves are the generic ones from the common of martyrs, and therefore shed no light on how this Reginoldus died. However, he is almost certainly the same saint still venerated today. Paul Fiebig, whose St. Reinoldus in Kult, Liturgie und Kunst is still the definitive book on the cult of St. Reinolt, lists all the other saints he could find named Renaud or something similar, but none of them was a martyr or lived in the 900’s or earlier.

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 8: German, More Dutch, and Latin Verse

The Quatre Fils Aymon gave rise to a Dutch poem, which begot a multitude of descendents of its own, as follows.

Renout van Montalbaen, in Dutch verse. 1200’s. Only fragments survive. Editions:

Renout van Montalbaen, met inleidning en aanteekeningen door Dr. J. C. Matthes, Groningen, Wolters (Bibliotheek van middelnederlandsche letterkunde, 15), 1875. This one has six of the fragments.

Roethe, G., “Günser Bruchstück des mnl. Renout von Montalbaen”Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Litteratur, 48, 1906. This one has a seventh fragment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

LATIN VERSE VITA

Adelhardus, Ritzardus, Reynoldus, and Writardus were Frenchmen, born at Dorduna to Heymon and Aya, daughter of Pipin and sister of King Charles. The four were mighty men of war. Reynoldus was a Catholic man and a great warrior who was filled with virtue and the fear of God and wished to renounce the world. He called his sons and divided his property among them and his wife Claritia, daughter of King Ivonis of Tarascon. He leaves the castle of Montalban to his son Emericus and departs for the wilderness. His father, mother and brothers pursue but cannot find him. For three years he serves God in the wilderness until he hears a voice from God telling him to go fight the infidels in Jerusalem. He does so, slaying three Sultans with only a staff. He then returns home, briefly visits Charlemagne’s court [we are not told why], and then goes to Cologne, where Agilolphus (r. 713-717) is bishop. (A medieval note in the manuscript suggests that Riolphus (r. 768-782) is the proper reading). Reynoldus lives such a holy life that he cures the blind, dumb, and possessed. The “magister claustri” [abbot] appoints him to oversee the stonemasons. He works harder than any of them, which arouses their envy, and so they kill him. This is the fourteenth of May, the year 800, according to the prose gloss. Reynoldus, now enjoying the beatific vision, appears to a paralytic woman and heals her. Some time afterward an angel shows where his body is lying, and on the third of September it is drawn out of the river and put on display in a church in Cologne, where God cures many more people through it. The people of Tremoigne wish to have the body, and their request is granted. The body is laid in a cart, which moves of its own accord to Tremoigne. The people of Tremoigne build a church for him, whither Charlemagne comes to mourn his nephew.

DUTCH PROSE

One version of the Dutch prose (my source does not specify which) has the masons kill Reinolt with a rock, instead of their hammers, as is usual in this family. The Catholic versions removed Malegys’ magical escapes from prison, and changed Turpin from a bishop to an ordinary knight. The Catholic version was used for centuries to teach children to read, and its status as a textbook preserved it from the corruptions of its French chapbook cousins.

GERMAN CHAPBOOK

The German prose of 1604 lays especial emphasis on the Catholic practices of the knights, owing to the Counter-Reformation. I cannot find whether it censored the antics of Malegys and Turpin or not. It became the standard German version, and the ancestor of the chapbooks, about which I can find no further details.

HISTORIE VAN SENT REINOLT

The story begins as a mere summary of the Dutch-German poem, omitting such details as Reinolt’s treatment of his father, with no indication of Reinolt’s eventual sanctity until his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The death of Hugh of Dordonne is said to be in 800. The bishop of Cologne is identified as Agiliolphus. Reinolt is canonized by Pope Leo. [Pope St. Leo III r. 795-816]. This version found its way into various German copies of the Golden Legend and was translated into Latin.

ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THIS FAMILY

A few scholars hold that the Dutch poem represents an earlier form of the legend than that preserved in the French Quatre Fils. Most however, consider it a late offshoot. Among the reasons for regarding te Dutch poem as late are: The Dutch poem is neater, and appears interested in tying up loose ends. It has been influenced by the Geste d’Orange, such as in Charles’ intention to abdicate and the appearance of William of Orange and Aymeri of Narbonne. Reinolt serves a Saracen king, an action wholly out of character for a future saint. Malegys is a mere slapstick wonder-worker, as is typical of later texts, instead of the chivalrous knight who happens to know magic of the Quatre Fils. The flight of Reinolt to “Arden” after the fall of Montauban is clearly an attempt to combine the sieges of Montessor and Tremoigne, and the poet later on (in the martyrdom section) introduces Tremoigne out of the blue as a city closely connected to Reinolt.

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban, 7: The Dutch Poem

The Quatre Fils Aymon gave rise to a Dutch poem, which begot a multitude of descendents of its own, as follows.

Renout van Montalbaen, in Dutch verse. 1200’s. Only fragments survive. Editions:

Renout van Montalbaen, met inleidning en aanteekeningen door Dr. J. C. Matthes, Groningen, Wolters (Bibliotheek van middelnederlandsche letterkunde, 15), 1875. This one has six of the fragments.

Roethe, G., “Günser Bruchstück des mnl. Renout von Montalbaen”Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Litteratur, 48, 1906. This one has a seventh fragment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE GERMAN POEM

The German Reinolt von Montelban is a very close adaptation of the Dutch, as far as anyone can tell. Since it is complete, and the Dutch is fragmentary, we will give a summary of the German as our base.

Charlemagne holds court at Pentecost, to which come Heyme [Aymon], Eymerich von Narbonne [Aymeri], and their nephew Hugh of Dordonne. Hugh asks Karl to requite his uncles for their long service. Charles cuts his head off. This begins a war that lasts sixteen years, in which the rebels are aided by Maugis. At last Charles makes peace by giving his sister Aye to Aymon in marriage. Nonetheless, Aymon swears that he will kill any of Charles’ relatives he finds. This leads Aye to conceal her four pregnancies, which produce Ritzart, Fritzart, Adelhart, and Reinolt. Meanwhile, Charles has a son, Ludwig [Louis the Pious]. When these five lads are of age to bear arms, Charles holds court at Pentecost again, to which Aymon does not come. Charles sends Roland, William of Orange, Bertram, and Bernard to summon him. At his castle, the talk turns to heirs, and Aymon laments his childlessness after thirty years of marriage. Aye sounds his feelings, and reveals that he actually has four sons. Aymon dubs his sons knights and gives them horses. Reinolt tests his horses by punching them in the head and kills three, before his father says he will have to have Beyart, who has the strength of nine horses, and is the son of a “dromedarius”, born on St. John’s Day. Reinolt and Beyart have a brutal fight, but Reinolt masters him. He is white behind and before, but his head has spots like a leopard’s. After this, Charles announces that he is going to crown Ludwig his heir and co-emperor. At the feast, Ludwig, urged on by the traitors Gavelon, Hardrich, and Macharius, insults the Sons at every turn, but they best him at the games and sports. Finally, Ludwig and Adelhart wager their heads on a game of chess. Ludwig wins three games, but Reinolt draws Adelhart away. They confront Ludwig later on in the hall, before King Charles. They behead Ludwig, and the Four Sons flee on Beyart. Aymon at first fights for them against the pursuing knights, but he is reconciled with Charlemagne. The Sons briefly stop by their castle of Pierlepont before fleeing south, to take service with King Safforet of Spain. After three years, in all which time they are not paid, they quarrel with him, cut his head off, and present it to his foe, King Yves of Dardone. They conquer Safforet’s kingdom for Yves, and live in peace in Dardone for seven years. Charles hears news of them, and sends threats, but Yves scoffs and gives his daughter Claradys to Reinolt and helps him build the castle of Montelban on the Gironde.

Charles goes on pilgrimage with Roland to St. James, and sees Montelban on the way. He lays siege to it for a year, but is forced to retreat. Reinolt now wishes to go see his mother, whom he has not seen for seven years. The Four Sons trade clothes with pilgrims and go to Dordone in secret. Aye receives them gladly. Aymon, however, is not present. He returns with his army, and attacks his Sons. Reinolt cuts off his hand, nose, and mouth, trusses him up on a horse, and sends him to Charles, who lays siege. Starvation threatens, so Aye sends the three oldest barefoot to Charles to ask mercy. He siezes them and plans to hang them at Monfaucon. Reinolt hurries to Montelban and returns riding Beyart. He offers to give Charles a life-size gold statue of Ludwig and to spend seven years Crusading with his brothers, if Charles will make peace. Otherwise he will lay France waste and behead Charles just like Ludwig. Charles chooses war.

Reinolt, distressed and wondering how to rescue his brothers, falls asleep in the woods. Beyart wanders off looking for food, and is captured by some of Charles’ men. The king gives him to Roland, who promises a lady that he will not ride the steed until Sunday. The army returns to Paris.

Reinolt awakens and despairs. Malegys,  Reinolt’s “uncle” [perhaps just meaning “older relative”], arrives in disguise as an ancient pilgrim, and teases Reinolt before revealing himself. Four passing monks tell Malegys about Roland then murders four passing monks and steals their clothes. The two, disguised as monks, ride to Paris, where the abbot of “their” abbey tells them of Charles’ plans for a feast and the execution of Reinolt’s brethren. Malegys disguises Reinolt as a blind man, and the two of them wait for Charles to pass by, with Roland and Beyart. Malegys tells Charles that a wise woman told him that if a blind man sits on Beyart, he will recover his sight. Charles obligingly lets Reinolt sit on the horse, and Reinolt gallops off. Malegys reveals himself and escapes. Charles wishes to hang Reinolt’s brothers immediately, before anything else goes wrong, but the Peers oppose him, and they compromise on hanging the brothers at dawn. At midnight, however, Malegys by magic opens the prison and rescues them, stopping to taunt Charles (who thinks he’s dreaming), tell him they’ll be waiting for him at Montelban, and steal his crown and sword.

Word comes that King Assys’ Saracens are besieging Cologne, so Roland and the peers go and kill them. Charles decides Roland needs a horse worthy of him, and holds a horse race, offering his crown to the winner. Malegys and Reinolt go in disguise, win, reveal themselves, and leave with the crown, scorning Charles’ attempts to ransom it for a hundred-day truce.

When Easter comes around again, Charles sends four mules laden with gold to Yves, ordering him to betray the brothers or else. Yves succombs at once, without even consulting his barons, and agrees to send the brothers to Falcolon [Vaucoleurs], without armor and without Beyart. He goes to Montelban and arranges the treason, claiming that he can’t embrace Reinolt or eat his food because of his headache. Claradys is suspicious, but Reinolt slaps her for believing in dreams and insulting her own father. The brothers go to Falcolon, where they are ambushed by Fauke von Morlyon and Ogier. Reinolt splits Fauke’s head open with Florsberg, Rizhart is sorely wounded, Reinolt duels Ogier on foot, and their horses fight each other, and finally the brothers take refuge on a tall, defendable, rock. Malegys comes to the rescue, and the cousins return to Montelban, whence Yves flees to the cloister of Beaurepar. Rizhart reconciles Reinolt and Claradys.

Ogier, meanwhile, returns to camp, and thinks Yves must have sent Malegys. The Twelve Peers attack Beaurepar, intending to hang the king for his alleged double-treason. Reinolt comes and rescues him. Charles lays siege to Montelban. Rizhart is captured by Roland and taken with the army all the way back to Paris. but none of the Peers are willing to hang him except Rippe. Rizhart is led out to Montefaucon to be hanged, but Malegys has been spying in Paris disguised as a pilgrim, and returns with the brothers, who hang Rippe instead, kill his men, and dress Rizhard in his armor. Charles and Ogier, meanwhile, are at the palace, when “Rippe” returns. Charles comes out to meet him, Rizhard reveals himself, and his brothers leap out of ambush. A melee ensues. As the two sides are withdrawing, Olivier spots an old pilgrim hobbling away, realizes it must be Malegys, and captures him. The Peers are inclined to treat him well at dinner, but Charles chains him in the dungeon and sets the Peers to guard him. At midnight, he puts them to sleep, steals their swords, and escapes. Reinolt, meanwhile, has had a dream of Malegys being hanged, and rides to his castle to check on him. He is not there, so Reinolt goes to Paris, where he meets Malegys, who has handily escaped and is now carrying twelve swords. They return to Montelban.

Charles pursues with his army, and the siege resumes. Peace negotiations break down, and Charles captures Malegys again. At midnight, Malegys escapes, carries Charles off to Montelban, and departs. Charles will not make peace unless Malegys is executed, and Reinolt cannot hand over his cousin and will not execute his sovereign, so he sets him free, and the siege resumes. Everyone starves except the brothers and Claradys [Yves has vanished from the scene, and Reinolt’s children are not mentioned but are presumably here]. They eat all the horses save Beyart, but they bleed him and survive on his blood for forty days. At last, they are forced to flee. Beyart carries the Four Sons (they leave Claradys [and the unmentioned children] behind) to their castle in Arden, whither Charles pursues them. Duchess Aye persuades the emperor to make peace, but he insists on executing Beyart. Charles ties a millstone around the horse’s neck and throws him in the river, but he sees Reinolt, bursts the stone, and rushes to his side. Charles throws him back in with a millstone on each leg, and he escapes again. Charles forbids Reinolt to watch the execution, and this time Beyart escapes to the wood, never to be seen again. Reinolt returns home to Montelban, dubs his eldest son Emmerich a knight, and gives him the castle as his fief. He then departs on pilgrimage.

He spends three years in a hermitage, until a heavenly voice tells him to go to the Holy Land. He meets some knights sent by Pope Calixtus, and travels with them from Tripoli to Acre. There he finds Malegys, who has been living as a hermit in Galilee. The two of them slay a Sultan, but two more Sultans comewith nine champions. They conquer Nazareth and Jerusalem, slaying many Christians. Malegys is slain fighting them, but Reinolt single-handedly saves the day, and turns the whole land back to Christianity. The Patriarch wishes to crown him king, but Reinolt refuses and sails home to Marseilles. When he arrives, he learns that his son Emmerich is to fight a duel with Count Willam of Romelion in Paris. He goes to Paris, in disguise, and informs the king of the wars in the Holy Land and of Malegys’ death. Gavelon and Pynapel arrange for Pynapel’s eldest son Galleran to fight on William’s behalf, but Emmerich still wins. Reinolt now wanders to Cologne, where he joins the laborers on St. Peter’s Church. He works harder than anyone, but only takes a penny a day for wages. The others, jealous, kill him with their hammers and throw his body in the Rhine, tied up in a sack. Although it is the middle of the night when they do this, they hear a sweet sound and see as clearly as if it were day. An old widow who has been fourteen years lame, blind, and deaf has a dream telling her to go down to the river and to draw out the man’s body in a sack which she will find there. She has herself taken to the river bank, is cured upon seeing the sack, and drags it to land. On the body is a costly girdle, which reads “I am Reinolt von Montelban”. The people of Dorpmund hear tell of this, and wish to have the body, which the bishop of Cologne refuses to grant. But when it is laid in a cart, the cart moves of itself and travels all the way to Dorpmund, obliging the bishop to give in. Charles hears tell of his nephew’s death and threatens to raze Cologne. He settles for hanging the murderers. He then goes to Dorpmund and weeps over his nephew’s body. Saint Reinolt, pray for us, and all say Amen.

The Legend of Vivian of Aigremont

The legend of Vivien of Monbranc, brother of Malagise, is found in the following versions:

The chanson de geste in rhymed Alexandrines, in the manuscript Montpellier H. 247, from between 1350 and 1400. The poem is from around 1225-1275, but the only surviving copy is very obviously abridged.

The prose rendering in BNf. Fr. 19.173, rather expanded, and interlaced with the history of Maugis.

No English translations.

VIVIEN L’AMACHOUR DE MONBRANC

MANUSCRIPT M: MONTPELLIER

Containing Doon de Mayence, Gaufrey, Ogier le Danois, Gui de Nanteuil, Maugis D’Aigremont (abridged) Vivien l’Amachour (probably abridged, but no earlier copies are known), and Renaud de Montauban (abridged, ending lost, stops as Renaud is on pilgrimage).

Vivien and his wife Esclarmonde convert to Christianity, to the anger of Sodant of Babylon, who lays siege to Vivien’s castle of Monbranc. They send for help to Bueves of Aigremont, Aymon of Dordonne, Girart of Roussillon, Doon of Nanteuil, and Maugis. Bueves and Maugis call on Charlemagne for aid, threatening to renounce their vassalship if he refuses. He refuses, and they do so, with insults. Lohier, Charles’ son, is infuriated, and strikes Maugis with the flat of his sword, but Maugis makes an illusionary river flow between them, and escapes with his father. They join their kinsmen, including Renaut, Aalart, and their horse Bayart. Maugis sends his squire Fousifie ahead, who makes himself and his dromedary invisible to pass the Pagan lines and reach Monbranc. Vivien, encouraged by his arrival, makes a sally, but is captured. The Pagans send him to Babylon, but Maugis, Renaud and Aalart rescue him. A long and bloody battle follows, wherein King Othon, King Brandoine, and Brandoine’s uncle Hernaut de Moncler are slain on the Christian side, and everyone on the heathens’. Maugis returns to Rocheflour with Oriande. Vivien and Esclarmonde remain in Monbranc. Bueves lives peacefully until the day Lohier is sent to him.

ORIGINS OF THE LEGEND

Pure fiction. Written c. 1240-1260. After Renaud de Montauban and Maugis d’Aigremont, but before Gaufrey, Doon de Mayence, and Gaydon. An Amachour is allegedly a Saracen title, probably in reality a corruption of “Emir”.

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 4: The Quatre Fils in Prose

The MSS of the mises en prose of the Quatre Fils fall into two families.

FIRST FAMILY

Sl: British Museum, Sloane 960. (Sloane)

Follows MS D very closely. Aye recommends her sons go to Gascoine, not Espagne. There are some details from later versions, however: e. g. Baiard was raised on an isle in the sea, Charlemagne mobilizes his army at Laon, not Paris. There is an edition by Marie-Henriette Notredaeme which is sitting unpublished in the University of Ghent and will never see the light of day. Support copyright reform!

SECOND FAMILY

These MSS omit the prologue, and begin with the Ardennes episode in the standard version, not from CNV. Probably from P, A, or O.

La: BN fr. 1481 (Lancelot)

Bm: British Museum, Royal 16 G II. (the same as MS. B of the Quatre Fils) The best MS.

Ma: British Museum, Royal 15 E VI. (Marguerite d’Anjou)

Tr: Troyes, Bib. Municpale, 743. (Troyes)

Co: BN fr. 19170, (Coislin)

SECOND FAMILY WITH PROLOGUE ADDED

Ar: Arsenal, 3151. (Arsenal)

Ar is the MS, or is very similar to the MS, from which the French printed version is derived, with all its descendants, including William Caxton’s English translation and the French chapbooks in the Bibliotheque Bleue. It is the only MS of the Second Family to include the story of Bueves of Aigremont, after ZM. An edition was done by Jean-Marcel Léard for a doctoral thesis, and sits unpublished and gathering dust in the University of Sorbonne. Support copyright reform!

Sl follows D very closely. Its most interesting detail is that Baiard is a fairy horse, brought up on an isle off the coast of Normandy, by a fairy in Sansbart [does not exist], near Torigny, in the diocese of Bayeux. Other minor details differentiate it from D, such as Charles gathering his army at Laon, and not Paris, when he is making war against the Sons in the Ardennes.

 

Most MSS of the Second Family omit the story of Bueves, and thus begin with Charles going to war against the four brothers, who live in the Ardennes, for no apparent reason.

Ar is the only one to include the embassy of Lohier, the death of Bueves, and the deadly chess game. The second family, in general, follows A, although the story of Bueves is from the ZM version.

The chase is the most common version, DCVA. Ogier, Naimes and Foulques guard the Paris gates.

Tremoigne is PLOMAH. Maugis succors the merchants. Charlot does not feature. Baiard is thrown into the Meuse at Liege.

The Holy Land episode is from PLOA, as is the Combat of the Sons.

Renaud is killed with hammers, and his body stops in Ceoigne, as in POA.

 

In some 1500’s editions, Baiard was born not in Etna or Boucan, but on Colchos (where Jason found the Golden Fleece).

The French chapbooks, known as the Bibliothèque Bleue, of the Quatre Fils, under various titles, are descended from Ar. Each one faithfully copied the errors of its predecessors and added new ones of its own. Chapters were dropped, pages sewn in backwards and never corrected, abridgements were made more or less at random, religious references were removed, swear words toned down, etc. A particularly absurd example comes from the death of Bertholai, which he brings on himself by calling Renaud “malheureux [wretch]” because “whoreson” was too offensive to print. Guitelin the Saxon [Le Saisne] becomes Guerdelin the Lazy [Le Fène], etc. Some versions change the ending: Pinabel, of the family of traitors, is in the process of carrying off two damsels, when Renaud happens to see him. Renaud challenges him to battle, and in the ensuing struggle the two of them roll into the river and drown.

We will spare the reader a full list of chapbooks, but he may find such a list in Part VI of Entre Épopée et Légende: Les Quatre Fils Aymon ou Renaud de Montauban.

 

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 3: Variants of the Quatre Fils

The summary given in this post is printed after D, the earliest manuscript of the Quatre Fils. However, most parts of the poem have at least two redactions, and the MSS switch from one redaction to the other with no apparent rhyme or reason, and no two parallel each other’s jumps exactly. D usually gives the oldest form, but it is not free of inconsistencies.

Many manuscripts, in their recapitulations, make reference to events or details that are not actually recounted in that particular manuscript, but are found in others. It is not always clear whether the reference is to an existing but omitted episode, or whether the episode was invented to explain the reference.

Beuves episode

A DIVISION OF THE MANUSCRIPTS ACCORDING TO THE ARDENNES EPISODES.

FIRST FAMILY: The enfances of Reynard are interspersed with the story of Beuve d’Aigremont, like so. First fragment: the dubbing of the Four Sons and their tilt at the quintaine. Second: Aymon and his sons flee Paris after the death of Lohier. Third: the quarrel at chess and its consequences, leading into the Ardennes War. DPAZMO

SECOND FAMILY: The second fragment is suppressed. The tilting at the quintaine is moved to just before the quarrel at chess. NC.

THIRD FAMILY: The first and third fragments are united and moved to the end of the Bueves episode. The second is still gone. LV. Hence in these, the entire war with Bueves is over before Renaud even appears on the scene.

For the Bueves d’Aigremont episode proper, OLNC (Italian) give the same redaction, in which Enguerrand is sent to Bueves and slain before Lohier. DPA (Caxton) give a different one. MZ formed their own version, still without Enguerrand. V is unique and lacks Enguerrand.

Aigremont

Aigremont is on the river Agremore [nonexistant] which flows into the Garonne, DPAMZ.

Aigremont is in Lombardy, and Bueves is killed in the plain of Souvigny [in Auvergne] on his way home, LNC.

The Italian Cantari claims that Agrismonte is reached from Paris by passing through Champagne and past Troyes, and that it stands on a mountain on the river Agremore, along which many merchant ships sail.

Continue reading

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 2: The Original Version

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MANUSCRIPT D: DOUCE

Containing only Renaut de Montauban.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Around here the poem changes from rhyme to assonance]

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

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

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

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

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

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