The Legend of Bertha Broadfoot 2: Unique Early Versions

Section 1:

Chronique Saintongeaise

Also called Tote Listoire de France and Gesta Francorum. Survives in only two MSS. Appears to be a French translation of a dull Latin compilation (with much butchering) of older histories.1

1: To be specific:

I. Liber Historiae Francorum,

welded, (without Fredegar Contin.) into

II. Annales Laurissenses,

followed by condensed and adapted portions of

III. Einhart’s Vita Caroli,

interspersed wih fragments of

IV. Vita Ludovici Pii.

Insertions were also made from

V. Miracula S. Benedicti,

and the whole completed from some

VI. Unknown Chronicle,

which was also followed by Ademar of Chabannes.

The work is notable for exactly four things: 1) It is one of the first histories of France in French. 2) It preserves the oldest surviving account of Bertha Broadfoot. 3) It is the only work to tell how Charlemagne miraculously restored Pope Hadrian’s vision, by finding his eyes in a fish. 4) It is the only surviving account of the legend of Taillefer of Leon, which is obviously based on a chanson de geste, but no other traces thereof remain.

There are also a few other interpolations, mainly regarding fictitious donations of kings to the Church.

Pepin, in the year 249 [749], sent to Pope Zacharias and obtained permission to depose Chilperic and have himself elected and anointed king, in 250 [750]. He then sent to marry Berta, the daughter of King Flore of Hungary. However, when they were in bed, Berta’s nurse substituted her own daughter via the knife-trick. Berta was taken to the forest, where she found refuge in a church and was taken in by Pepin’s cowherd and his wife Constance. She serves as their maid for four years. Meanwhile, Pepin thought he was living with Berta, and had two sons: Remfre and Audri. Then Berta’s mother came to Paris, and the impostor pretended to be ill. The old Queen forced her way into the sickroom and turned down the covers, exposing the tiny feet. She summons all the barons and says this is not her daughter. The old nurse is burnt, and the Queen goes weeping home. Pepin tries to raise his spirits by going hunting, and stops by the home of his cowherd, where he sees Berta and asks to sleep with her. The cowherd consents, and as they make love on a cart, they reveal their true identities to each other. Pepin makes the cowherd a rich man, and takes his wife home to Paris. After these things, he goes to Saint Seurin to pray, and makes peace between the Lorrainers and the Bordelais. He and Berta had two sons and two daughters, and the eldest boy was Magniez, who was guarded by thirty barons. He was later protected by Rollant, “de Loubare” [Lombardy?], Duke of Brittany.


Bourdillon, Francis William, ed. Tote listoire de France (Chronique Saintongeaise). London: David Nutt, 1897. To whom the notes on the Chronicle and its origins are owing. 

Section 2:

Philippe Mousket’s Chronique Rimée

Charles Martel dies and is damned, leaving behind two legitimate sons, Pepin and Carlon [Carloman], and one bastard, Grifon. Carlon becomes a monk at Saint Silvester, and Pepin becomes steward of all France. He marries Bierte as grans-piés, the daughter of King Florie and Blanceflor, but she is afraid of King Pepin’s enormous member, and so sends her maid to take her place in bed. The servant has the princess sent to the forest to be killed, but the man who is supposed to kill her has mercy and lets her live. She is taken in by a forester and his wife, whom she serves whilst concealing her identity. Meanwhile, Pepin begets Raienfroit and Heldri on the maid, until he happens to visit the forest, see his wife, and recover her.

After this, Theoderic dies, having reigned fifteen years, and his son Childeric becomes King, until Pepin and Pope Zachary depose him. Grifon rebels against him, but Pepin defeats him. The story of the Lorrainers follows, and Bertha is said to be kin to them. In the course of this war, Pope Zachary dies and is succeeded by Stephen [II], who comes to France to crown Pepin and Bertha, and their sons Charles and Carloman. After the coronation, Begon Garin’s brother, is killed by the Bordelais, and the Lorrainers’ wars resume.


Reiffenberg, Baron de, ed. Chronique rimée de Philippe Mouskes. Brussels: M. Hayez,1836-1838.

Section 3:

La Gran Conquista de Ultramar

La Gran Conquista de Ultramar is a Spanish history of the First Crusade, sometimes said to have been written for King Alfonso X the Wise (r. 1252-1284), but others say it was written a generation or so later. Chapter 43 of Book II contains the story of Bertha Broadfoot and Mainet.

Folguer Ubert de Chartes, who fought in the Crusade, and killed Sultan Aliadan, nephew of the Sultan of Persia, in the battle of Nublis, [not the Fulcher of Chartres who wrote a chronicle about them] was a descendant of Mayugot of Paris, who protected Charlemagne from his wicked brothers.

Berta was daughter of Flores and Blancaflor, rulers of Almeria, in Spain, who conquered much land in Spain and Africa, and saved the King of Babylon [Cairo] from his enemies. Berta was wed to King Pepin of France, but her nurse’s daughter looked exactly like her, so the nurse put her in the place of the princess, and got Bertha condemned to death for trying to murder the “queen.” Two henchmen take her into the forest to kill here, but they have pity and settle for tying her to a tree in her shirt, in January, and take a dog’s heart back to the servant. The impostor and Pepin have two sons: Manfre and Carlon, one of whom is given Germany and the other France. By God’s mercy, Bertha was found by Pepin’s forester, who at first thinks she is a ghost, but rescues her when he hears her calling on Our Lord and Saint Mary. He takes her to his home, where she lives with his wife and three daughters. Three years later, Pepin is out hunting, when he stops at this vassal’s house. He sees Bertha and demands to lay with her, which request is granted at once, and they conceive Carlos Mainetes. She does not reveal herself, and Pepin returns home.

King Flores dies, and Blancaflor decides to visit her daughter to seek some comfort for her grief. The nurse’s daughter feigns illness, but Blancaflor forces her way into the sick room, and turns down the covers. Berta had her toes joined together; the servant girl does not. Blancaflor drags the girl by her hair before King Pepin, threatening to kill him [Her laments throughout the ensuing scenes are very long and dramatic]. The servant and her mother confess everything, and Pepin sends for the forester. He tells everything he knows, and Bertha and her son Carlos, now six years old, are brought to court. The old nurse is burnt, but her daughter is spared until she gives birth to her third child, after which she is sent to a nunnery to fast on bread and water. Blancaflor bequeaths little Carlos her lands in Spain, and Pepin appoints as his guardians Mayugot and Morante de Rivera. Some time later, Blancaflor falls ill. She returns home, wishing to die and be buried with Flores, and so it befalls. Her lands are left without a leader, and the Moors overrun them, while King Pepin also dies before Carlos is of age to rule. Some say he was killed by a horse, others that he died of illness.

The chronicle now transitions to Mainet, p. 179.


Gayangos, Don Pascual de, ed. La Gran Conquista de Ultramar. Biblioteca de Autores Españoles XLIV. Madrid, 1858.


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


This version is closest to S, featuring S’s abridged opening. The two are not quite identical, but few of the details in which they differ need concern us here. The author trims much of the detail of fighting and shortens the speeches, but changes no incidents.

Fromont has thirty sons, mostly bastards. [This same trait is attributed to various Maganzans in some later Italian works].


Like all medievals, Philippe considers Garin and Gerbert to be a single work, which he divides into three books. Book I includes Paris’ Parts I and II. Book II covers the death of Begon and the ensuing war. Book III begins with the death of Garin and includes all of Gerbert de Metz. He follows the first redaction.

Philippe turns dialogue into indirect summaries, shortens the poem throughout, and adds a few details of his own. Whenever action takes place in Metz, he identifies the locations in the contemporary city.

Garin is buried in the Abbey of Saint Arnoul outside Metz.


David Aubert’s History of Charles Martel includes, among other stories, that of the Lorrainers, following that of Girart of Roussillon. The compilation was finished in 1463. He follows the chanson closely in incident, but abridges the fight scenes and other descriptions, and recasts dialogue. Nonetheless, the fight scenes are not updated, and faithfully reflect the customs of the 1100’s. Manuel Galopin retains his joie de vivre in the taverns, but is quietly stripped of his magical abilities.

Volume 2 of Aubert’s history opens with an account of how Charles Martel gave a feast at St. John’s Day, with his Queen Alexandrine (sister of Girart of Roussillon’s wife Bertha) and their son Pepin, who was handsome, gracious, pleasant and noble, well taught and having all virtues, notwithstanding his short stature. At the feast, a horrible lion escaped from the royal menagerie, terrifying the guests, who all fled, save for Pepin, who confronted the beast and slew it.

Sometime after this, Girart of Roussillon died, at which the heathen Saxons thought it safe to attack France again. The Holy Father came from Rome to speak with King Charles, and granted him permission to tax the clergy. The book thus transitions into the story of Garin le Loherain, as given in the First Redaction. Volume 2 ends with Guerin, as he spells it, making peace with King Pepin and the Bordelais for the last time before his death.

Continue reading

The Legend of Anseis of Metz

The legend of Anseis of Metz, also called Anseis of Cologne, (but not to be confused with Anseis of Carthage) is to be found in the following versions:

A chanson de geste in alliterative decasyllables. Found in two redactions in four MSS.

The prose of Philippe de Vigneulles, who renames the hero “Yon” but follows the story of Anseis.

David Aubert’s History of Charles Martel, volume 4.

Another prose rendering, Arsenal 3346.


Anseis de Metz, a chanson in alliterative decasyllables, can be divided into three parts (by editors and by internal coherence. They are not thus marked in any MS). Parts Two and Three are essentially the same in all MSS. The first part is very different in N than in LSU. Also, N is only 15,000 lines, whereas LSU reaches 25,000, owing to interpolations.


Gerbert, Gerin, and Mauvoisin, having seen to Fromondin’s burial, return to Bordeaux, where they find Hernaut le Poitevin and his wife Ludie. They tell them the whole story, and the Lorrainers rejoice. Ludie, meanwhile, urges her son Louis to avenge his slaughtered uncle Fromondin and grandfather Fromont by killing Gerbert. Louis, however, is inclined to side with the Lorrainers, and leaves his mother alone in her despair. All go to their homes peacefully.

Hernault takes his son Louis to Lens in Artois to be dubbed and to receive that city in fief. (He has inherited it through Ludie from Fromont). Gerbert and his twelve-year-old son Anseis are invited to the ceremony. Anseis and Louis go hunting together, quarrel, and fight. Louis returns to Lens, bleeding and angry. He finds Gerbert playing chess, siezes a chessboard, and smashes Gerbert over the head, killing him.

Hernault is perfectly willing to hand Louis and Ludie over to Anseis to be executed, but his barons insist that this cannot be done without their consent. Knowing they will never consent, Hernault tries to appease Anseis with money and fiefs. Anseis proudly rejects the offer, and declares war on his uncle. To his aid come his godfather King Anseis of Cologne (Gerin’s son) and his cousin Amauri of Dijon. On Hernault’s side are the rest of the Lorrainers and all the Bordelais, unwilling allies united by their common kinship to Louis. In the ensuing siege of Lens, Gerin frequently threatens to kill Ludie, despite being technically on her side. Anseis of Cologne and Amauri of Dijon are slain, Hernault and Mauvoisin are severely wounded, and Anseis of Metz survives only because of his magic helmet. Finally, Gerin persuades Louis to humble himself before Anseis, and peace is made. All the heroes escort King Anseis’ corpse back to Cologne, where his grieving widow becomes a nun and leaves her lands to the young Anseis.

Hernault and Louis return from Lens to Gironville, and Hernault asks Louis if he has repented his crimes. Louis answers that he’s only sorry that he couldn’t kill Anseis. Hernault and Louis quarrel, then fight, and Hernault has his son hanged and orders Ludie burnt.


Gerbert, Gerin, and Mauvoisin, having seen to Fromondin’s burial, return to Bordeaux, where they find Hernaut le Poitevin and his wife Ludie. They tell them the whole story, offering any compensation the Bordelais may desire. Ludie will not be appeased, and declares she is no more Hernault’s wife. She moves to her own bedroom. Gerbert has a nightmare, where he is confronted by the ghosts of Fromont, Fromondin, Aimon of Bordeaux, Bernard de Naisil, Guillaume de Blancafort, and Guillaume de Monclin. He cries for aid, but no one comes. Upon awakening, he tells his dream to Hernault, who tries vainly to comfort him. Hernault rides out hunting, but Gerbert stays home. Ludie, meanwhile, tells her two sons, Louis and Manessier, the whole story of the feud, and tells them it is their duty to avenge their slaughtered uncle Fromondin and grandfather Fromont. Louis and Manessier, however, are inclined to side with the Lorrainers, and leave Ludie alone in her despair. Gerbert comes to see her and try again to make amends. She refuses, they quarrel, and he strikes her. Now her sons are ready to take vengeance. As Gerbert plays chess in the hall, Manessier smashes him over the head with the chessboard and Louis plunges his dagger into his heart. The brothers flee Bordeaux with their mother, and take refuge in Gironville. Hernaut returns from hunting to find his cousin dead. He summons the Lorrainers, and the war resumes.

Gerbert is buried at Saint-Seurin in Bordeaux, alongside Begon. Gerin comes to Bordeaux, and visits the great church where the Lorrainers are all buried: his own father Begon; Thierri of Alsace; Mauvoisin’s father Doon the Hunter; Auberi le Bourguignon; Rigaut de Plessis; and now, Gerbert. He weeps in front of Gerbert’s tomb and swears vengeance. After a long siege of Gironville, Hernaut captures his son Louis, and Manessier is captured a few days later. Mauvoisin is captured by the Bordelais. Hernault and Ludie discuss the exchange of prisoners, but neither will abandon their family’s honor, and their sons are sentenced to die. Hernault orders the Mayor of Bordeaux to hang his sons, but he refuses, saying he is the King’s man, not Hernault’s. Hernault is obliged to hang them himself.

Now comes a clearly interpolated episode of 3,500 lines, in which Anseis’ kinsman King Tuille of Arles, a nigromancer, comes to the aid of the Lorrainers. Unfortunately, his apprentice Jorin is a Bordelais, and the two wizards’ skills are nearly equal, resulting in a stalemate. Finally, the two are reconciled and go home, leaving the war exactly where it started.


After the execution of Louis (and Manessier), all four MSS are in close agreement:

Ludie, however, sends word to her mother Helissent’s kinsmen, the lords of Flanders. A new set of characters now arrive who include Count Berenger the Grey of Boulogne; Count Bauche the Short of Flanders, who is fifteen feet tall; Count Gautier of Artois; Guillaume de Monclin’s son Berault; and Guillaume de Blancafort’s son Forquerés the Little. They rescue Ludie and force Hernault to flee. His allies come to succor him, however, and a bloody battle ensues, which the Bordelais win. The Lorrainers appeal to Pepin, who takes their side, and orders the Bordelais to surrender every fief they hold. The Bordelais refuse, and a grand war breaks out. On the side of the King and Lorraine are Girart of Roussillon (nephew of the more famous Girart) Rome, Apulia, Poitou, Lombardy, Champagne, and Spain. On the side of the Bordelais are Bernard de Naisil’s son Roger, King Samson of England, King David of Scotland, and Ireland, Wales, Denmark, Hungary, and Brittany. Saint Léger goes throughout France trying to prevent the war and preaching peace. Count Bauche is pleased, but Pepin has the holy man arrested. Bauche and Berenger marry the two daughters of Servais of Ireland. From Berenger’s line will come Godfrey of Boulogne. As the two immense forces prepare for battle, even the women of the Bordelais are mustered, into a troop of 20,000, led by Ludie. On the eve of the battle, a dragon flies over the battlefield, causing fire and earthquakes. The queen is killed by a falling beam in the palace. Bauche offers to surrender, and for the ruling generation of Bordelais to all give thir fiefs to their children and spend the rest of their lives in the Holy Land. Nonetheless, Gerin will not accept this offer, and Pepin is sworn to uphold him.

The battle is joined. Berenger kills Mauvoisin. Hernais of Orleans and Girart of Roussillon are slain. The Bordelais are winning, but refuse to press their advantage, and fall back to give King Pepin’s men a chance to escape without further loss of life. The Lorrainers, however, think the Bordelais are retreating, and attack them. The Bordelais are about to be routed when their women folk arrive and win the day. Hernault kills Ludie without recognizing her. Gerin is so badly wounded he will never ride again. Though the Bordelais are victors, almost everyone on both sides is killed, and that is why the different peoples of France and Europe hate each other to this day, because of the losses in that battle. That battle, and the dragon, so weakened France that the Admiral Carfenaon was later able to ravage the whole country, until the Pope united all Christendom against him. Carfenaon’s son, Germon, later ravaged France alongside Ysembars [Gormont and Isembard].

That is in the future, however, and now Saint Léger finally makes peace. Gerin becomes a monk. Only Anseis refuses to be reconciled.


Ten years after the war, Bauche becomes a hermit, leaving Flanders to his son Bauduin. Fourteen years after he enters the hermitage, Anseis gathers a small gang to kill him. When he sees his holy life, however, he abandons this plan. Unfortunately, his man Alori kills Bauche anyway. Bauche is buried where he fell, and works miracles there. Anseis and his companions, except Alori, go to Cambrai where they are welcomed by Count Hugh. Alori, against Anseis’ wishes, goes to Bordeaux and presents Bauche’s heart to Berengerm who hangs him. Berenger goes to Flanders to speak with Bauduin, but Bauduin is living a life of luxurious debauchery with Ludie’s twin sons Richart and Garin. Berenger is tempted to kill his nephew, but settles for persuading him to swear to avenge his father. The Bordelais complain to Pepin, who banishes Hugh of Cambrai for ten years, and gives the Bordelais full authority to do whatever they wish to Anseis. The war thus resumes, and nearly everyone on both sides dies. Anseis kills Richart, the last of Ludie’s sons. Anseis himself is slain by a sergeant who lifts up his armor and stabs him through the lungs. Berenger now dictates the terms of peace: Forquerés is to marry Anseis’ widowed mother Clarisse and become King of Bordeaux. So it is done, and peace is established. King Pepin marries Berthain, and from them were born six children, the eldest of whom was Charles the Bald, who established many markets in France[!]


Follows the version in S. No significant changes.


A close translation of the First Redaction of Part I of Anseis, but with the hero’s name changed to “Yon.” Louis stabs Gerbert to death. King Anseis of Cologne is buried in Lens. After Gerin reconciles Louis with Yon, Philippe’s story diverges. Gerin retires to a hermitage, and Yon becomes lord of Cologne. One night, Gerin dreams that an eagle orders him to visit Cologne incognito. At the same time, Louis decides to pay Yon a friendly visit. Unfortunately, as he enters Cologne, his men quarrel with the locals, and a fight breaks out. Yon and Louis take part in the fray, and Louis’ squire kills Yon. Louis flees to Metz, where he takes lodging without being recognized.

Gerin arrives at Cologne to find his cousin dead. Yon is buried in St. Peter’s in Cologne; his murderer is hanged. Gerin travels to Metz, finds Louis, kills him, explains the situation to the horrified crowd, and leaves. Louis is buried in St. Arnoul’s near Hervis and “Gilbert” [Gerbert]. Gerin returns to his hermitage and is never heard from again. Thus ended the two lineages of Hervis and Hardré.

Philippe ends with a brief epilogue, recapitulating the story which he drew out of verse and put into prose, and asks for the reader’s prayers.


Aubert begins his fourth volume of the History of Charles Martel with the death of Fromondin in the monastery, and continues through the story of Anseis, in the Second Redaction, all the way to the end. I can find no information on whether he makes any significant changes. He ends with the wedding of Forquerés and Clarisse, and the return home of all the surviving knights. I do not think he ever mentions the wedding of Pepin and Bertha Broadfoot.


It would appear that both versions of Part One are reworkings of Yon. The Second Redaction of Part One, and all of Parts Two and Three, are clearly on the side of the Bordelais while the First Redaction is still on the side of the Lorrainers. The Second Redaction and Parts Two and Three are written in a Picard-Walloon dialect, and were likely written by some patriotic Fleming(s) or other poet(s) who either wished to curry favor with the Counts of Flanders or else simply disliked Lorraine. Some scholars think all three parts had different authors. Others disagree.

Saint Léger, or Leodegarius, 615-679, was bishop of Autun, martyred by Ebroin, Mayor of the Palace of Neustria. Read more about him here.

So do the French tell the story of Gerbert and Gerin’s sons, but the Dutch tell it in another fashion, to which we must now turn.

The Legend of Yon, or the Vengeance for Fromondin

The legend of Yon of Metz is to be found in the following versions:

Yon, or, the Vengeance for Fromondin. A chanson de geste in alliterative decasyllables. Found in only MS M.


Fromondin’s kinsmen, after all the wars, are currently masters of Flanders and Artois. Led by Doon the Grey, son of Isoré the Grey, they make war on the Lorrainers, and ravage Cologne, Hainault, and Picardy. King Pepin dubs Gerbert’s sons knights, and at the feast a minstrel sings the lay of Chevrefoil, that Tristan made for love of Isolde. Queen Blanchefleur finally brings about a reconciliation. During the peace, Count Eude of Flanders says that Fromondin was killed because he tried to treacherously ambush Gerbert and Gerin. Count Mauvoisin of Saint-Gilles strikes him in the face. The peace is still made, but Eude festers. Seventeen years later, he lays siege to Cambrai to avenge this injury. The son of the lord of Cambrai, a certain Raoul, has a squire named Bernier, and some episodes from of Raoul of Cambrai are here worked into the poem. Bernier is a kinsman of the Bordelais, but he is Raoul’s faithful vassal. When Raoul is laying siege to Origny, Bernier begs him to spare his (Bernier’s) mother, who is a nun in an abbey which Raoul is engaged in burning down. Raoul strikes Bernier in the face, an act which eventually leads to Bernier killing Raoul. After Raoul is dead and this war is over, the Lorrainers and Bordelais are reconciled at Gironville by Ludie. Shortly afterwards, however, Gerbert’s son Yon is out hunting with Hernault and Ludie’s son, who is nameless. Hernault’s son injures Yon by accident. Yon slaps him on purpose. The son complains to his mother, who tells him to kill Gerbert. He smashes his uncles’ head open with a chessboard and flees. Gerbert leaves behind two sons: the aforesaid Yon, and Garin. This Garin is identified with Garin of Monglane, and said to be the father of Hernault de Beauland (father of Aymeri of Narbonne), Renier de Gennes (father of Oliver and Aude), Miles de Pouille (father of Simon de Pouille), and Girart de Vienne.

Yon swears vengeance on his cousin, and is crowned king of Gascony. The poet foretells a long and bloody war, but the MS ends here.

Origins and Influence

Those who have read this poem agree that structurally it is a mess. The combats are interminable, and the incidents are mostly recycled from Gerbert. The interpolated retelling of Raoul of Cambrai is apropos of nothing. However, there are some excellent lyrical passages describing festivities in peacetime, and the thrill and excitement of battle, besides which the author presents a valuable picture of feudal life in the 1200’s.

Let thus much suffice for the legend of Yon, and let us now turn to the legend of Anseis of Metz, that some call Anseis of Cologne.

The Legend of Gerbert of Metz

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

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

The prose of Philippe de Vigneulles.

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

Another prose rendering, Arsenal 3346.

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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

Origins and Influence

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

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

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

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


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

The Legend of Garin the Lorrainer

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

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

An anonymous prose rendering, Arsenal 3346.

The prose of Philippe de Vigneulles.

David Aubert’s History of Charles Martel.

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

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

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

The Manuscripts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The Legends of the Lorrainers – Introduction

The Lorraine Cycle, or Cycle of the Lorrainers, is a cycle of chansons de geste centered around the feud between the House of Lorraine and the House of Bordeaux. The original chanson was Garin le Loherain, to which was added early on a sequel, now called Gerbert de Metz, though in the Middle Ages the two works were inseparable and always considered as one. Two authors independently carried on the story, in works known as Anseis de Metz and Yonnet. Garin and Gerbert are intense and coldly realistic portrayals of a long and bitter blood feud, the gloom broken only by heroic deaths and the occasional gleam of mercy and chivalry. The poems were apparently too dark for some readers, such as the author of the prequel, Hervis de Metz, who gives us a light-hearted account of how a merchant’s son rose to knighthood and begot Garin. There are no fewer than three recastings of the cycle in prose: one anonymous from the 1500’s (MS Arsenal 3346); one by David Aubert in the late 1400’s, for the court of Burgundy; and one in the early 1500’s by Philippe de Vigneulles. Previously, the entire cycle had been recast in Dutch under the title Roman der Lorreinen. The Dutch poem unfortunately survives only in fragments, which is the more to be regretted as it tied the feud of the Lorrainers in with that between the Maganzans and the House of Clairmont, creating an even more sweeping epic spanning even more generations.

The cycle is contained in several manuscripts, most of which contain more than one of the chansons.

A: Garin, Gerbert. Paris, Arsenal 2983
B: Garin, Gerbert. Berne 113
C: Garin, Gerbert. Paris, BnF 1443
D: Garin, Gerbert. Paris, BnF 1461.
E: Hervis, Garin, Gerbert. Paris, BnF, fr. 19160
F: Garin, Gerbert. Paris, BnF 1582
G: Garin. Paris, BnF 19161
I: Garin, Gerbert. Dijon 528
J: Garin, Gerbert. Montpellier 243
L1: Garin, Gerbert. Lille, Godefroy 64
L2: Anseis. BnF 14377
M: Garin, Gerbert, Yonnet. Paris, BnF 1622
N: Hervis, Garin, Gerbert, Anseis. Paris, Arsenal 3143
O: Garin, Gerbert. Oxford Bod. Rawlinson poetry 150
P: Garin, Gerbert. Paris, BnF 1442
Q: Garin, Gerbert. Brussels 9630
R: Garin and Gerbert. Berkeley PQ 1463 G25
S: Garin, Gerbert, Anseis. Paris, BnF 4988
T: Genealogy, Prologue, Hervis, Garin, Gerbert (beginning). Turin, L.II.14 Heavily damaged in the great fire of 1904.
U2: Anseis. Vatican, Urbin 375
V: Garin, Gerbert. Paris, BnF nouv. acq. 10051
W: Garin, Gerbert. Berkeley PQ 1463 G24
X: Garin, Gerbert. Paris, BnF 2179

Anonymous prose: Garin, Gerbert, Anseis
Vigneulles: Hervis, Garin, Gerbert, Anseis
Aubert: Garin, Gerbert, Anseis

There are no translations of any part of the cycle in English.


Are two interpolations found in the Turin MS of the Lorraine Cycle. They can be found in the Annexes of the 1992 edition of Hervis de Metz, by Jean-Charles Herbin.


King Floriens of Rome had two sons, Saint Seurin [Severin of Cologne] and Saint Bertin. Seurin begot Buevon le Flori, who begot Duke Savaris, who begot Pierre the Elder, who begot Alice, who married a commoner named Thierry and bore him the good Duke Hervis. Hervis begot Garin and Begon. Garin begot Gerbert. Gerbert begot Anseis. Anseis begot Rigaudin. Rigaudin took fearful vengeance on [for?] Fromont, and begot Pierre the Younger.

The MSS then transitions to the Romance of Vespasian, after which comes

 The Turin Prologue

Emperor Vespasian had children: Emperor Titus, Saint Helen[!], Saint Seurin, and Saint Bertin. After the events recorded in the Romance of Vespasian, Seurin went around with his army fighting infidels, and at last came to Cologne, where he avenged the deaths of Saint Ursula and her companions. Seurin married the fair Chedaire, and had three sons: Pierre, Savaris, and Bondifers. Pierre begot Alice. Savaris begot Lohier li Posteis, who was the grandfather of Godefroi. Bondifers begot Guy, who begot Doon of Mayence, who was the father of Gaufroy of Denmark, Aymon of Dordogne, Bueve the Bearded [of Aigremont], Jofroi the Angevin, and Seguin of Bordeaux. Seguin begot Huon, who begot Henris, who begot Thierry the husband of Alice and father of Hervis!

Origins and influence

These preposterous genealogies were likely the invention of the scribe who compiled this manuscript. They match neither history nor other chansons de geste.

Let thus much suffice for the origins of the House of Lorraine, and let us now speak of Hervis de Metz.