The Legend of Bernardo del Carpio 7: Bernardo at Roncesvalles

Section 1: Chronicles

Lucas While Bernardo was making ready for war, Charles was besieging Tudela, which he would have captured if not for Galalon’s treason. Charles did, however, take Nájera and Monte Jardín, and then prepared to return to France.

The barbarian King Marsil of Saragossa rallied an army of Saracens and allied with Bernardo and his Navarrese, and fell on the Frankish rear as they passed through Rocidevallis, killing Prefect Rodlandus of Brittany, Count Anselm, Egiardus the Steward, and many more. King Charles later had his revenge on the Saracens, killing a great number of them, [it is not clear if this is the second battle in the Song of Roland or an entirely new expedition]. After his revenge Charles went on pilgrimage to Saint James, made peace with King Alfonso, rebuilt the city of Iria, and obtained from Pope Leo III for Compostela to be elevated to a metropolitan [archbishopric]. He then returned to Germany with Bernaldus and died soon after, at Aix, where he was buried. Bernaldus served in the imperial household even after Charlemagne’s death, under Louis the Pious (814-840) and Lothair I (840-855).

Emperor Charles III (the Fat, not the Simple, r. 881-888) invaded Spain, attacking Christians and Muslims alike [this never happened], but Bernaldus raised an army of Christians and allied with King Muza of Saragossa, and turned back Charles’ army before they had even crossed the Pyrenees. Charles made alliance with Alfonso, who restored the Mozarabic rite in the churches of Spain. Charles went on pilgrimage to Santiago and San Salvador, and obtained from Pope John Metropolitan [archepiscopal] privileges for those two sites. Bernaldus returned to his fatherland, laden with spoils. Lucas explains that there were three Emperors named Charles: Charles the Great, who lived in the days of Pope Leo and Alfonso the Chaste; another Charles who lived in the days of Pope John, and Charles the Hammer, who succeeded him. Continue reading

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The Legend of the Lorrainers – Dutch Version

The Roman der Lorreinen is a Middle Dutch poem, c. 1275, surviving only in fragments. At one time, it likely ran to over 150,000 octosyllables, of which only 10,000 survive.

There are three books of this romance. The first is a close translation of Garin and Gerbert. In the second and third, the author gives his fancy free rein, weaving a tale across three continents that brings Ganelon, Marsilius, Baligant, Yon of Gascony, Agolant, and more into the feud between the Lorrainers and the Bordelais, culminating in the battle of Roncesvalles (sadly lost).

A: Five fragments, printed by Jonckbloet, titled Roman van Karel den Groote en zijn twaalf Pairs.

B: Five fragments, printed by Matthes, under the title Roman der Lorreine, nieuw ontdekte gedeelten, book 17 of Bibliotheek van Middelnederlansche Letterkunde.

C: Four fragments, printed by De Vries, under the title Nieuwe fragmenten van den Roman der Lorreinen, in Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsche Taal- en Letterkunde III.

D: One fragment, often printed under the name of Laidoen, for example by Kalff in Middelnederlansche epische fragmenten, part of Bibliotheek van middeln. letterk.

Fragments B I-III and C I are from a translation of Garin. Gerbert is utterly lost. The other surviving fragments are from Books II and III.

As the surviving fragments open, Gerbert, having died, left behind two sons: Yon and Garin. Yon has married the daughter of Aspraien, a pagan king [perhaps of Scythia] who invaded France. Hernault le Poitevin and Ludie have a son: Ganelon [here called Gelloen]. Pepin is dead, and Charlemagne sits on the throne of France, and his son Louis the Pious is of nubile age. Ganelon has slain Gerbert, to avenge his uncle Fromondin.

A I: Ganelon takes refuge in Cologne, now ruled by Gerin’s son Otto and his wife Helen. Ganelon tells him, falsely, that the Lorrainers have been defeated in war, and, truly, that Helen and Yon are paramours. Otto, enraged, commits Yon’s daughter Judith, who is staying at his court, to a brothel, in order to break off her intended marriage with Prince Louis. Fortunately, the brave knight Jean de Metz rescues her and takes her to Aix-le-Chapelle. Otto and Ganelon lay siege to Aix, but news comes that the Lorrainers have in fact won the war. Otto raises the siege, and Ganelon flees to his fief in Sweden [!], whence he marries off his daughter Irene to Emperor Leo of Constantinople.

Otto, meanwhile, still thinks his wife unfaithful, and at the advice of the traitor Conrad, sends her into exile in Norway. Garin comes up from the Midi to escort his niece Judith to Paris, where she weds Prince Louis. Yon and Otto are still angry at each other, so the Emperor summons them to his court at Aix. They finally agree that Conrad will gve Metz to Judith in compensation, if Yon will promise to never see Helen again. Yon reluctantly agrees, urged by Ogier the Dane and his other kinsmen. Yon and his son Richard leave France for their fief of Scythia. Learning that Ganelon’s daughter Irene is now Empress of Constantinople, they build the castle of Gardeterre on their border with the Empire, expecting war…

A II: Ganelon, while in exile in Heathenesse [Spain] had taken service with Desramés, and married his daughter, by whom he had two sons: Baligant and Marsilius. Ganelon, in the course of his adventures, has betrayed Agolant, who now invades Spain with his son Almont. The Spaniards ask for Charlemagne’s assistance, who arrives with the Peers. Single combats follow, then the miracle of the flowering spears. In battle the day after this miracle, Milon, Roland’s father, is slain. Charlemagne is on the brink of death, when Gerbert II, son of Garin II, saves him. The battle is inconclusive. The following day, Ganelon, currently home in Norway, offers his aid to Charlemagne, if Charles will forgive him his crimes. He also offers his help to Agolant, who indignantly refuses it, but retreats. Ganelon presents himself before Charlemagne and offers to be reconciled with the Lorrainers. Garin and Gerbert take council with Yon, and refuse Ganelon’s offer. Garin and Gerbert return to Gironville. Charles returns to France and gives his sister, Milon’s widow and Roland’s mother, to Ganelon in marriage.

Helen sends word to Yon, begging him to come to Norway and rescue her. He does so, but they get lost sailing back to Scythia, and land in the country of the Goths, which is near the Caucasus. There they found the village of Ays, and life in amorous bliss, having a son, Haestinc, and a daughter, Isolde.

Richard, Yon’s son, having been sent by his father to France, visits Garin at his castle of Medeborch. Garin informs him of Ganelon’s preferment, and sends him home to warn his father. Otto, having learned of his wife’s escape, sends his knight Paridaen to Scythia to find her. Richard returns home to find his father missing and unaccounted for. He assumes control, fortifies the country round about, and installs one Hugelin as his lieutenant. He then returns to France to inform Garin of what has occurred, and sets out to seek his father. Paridaen, having sought in vain for Helen, returns to Cologne, where Conrad advises Otto to avenge himself by making war on Garin and on Ogier the Dane. Otto sends Paridaen to tell Garin that he must hand Metz over to Otto or prepare for war. Garin refuses, and appeals to Charlemagne. Ogier, Garin, and Otto meet at court, and it is decided that there will be a trial by combat. Gerbert fights against Ganelon’s champion Gyoet of Cremona. Richard, having again returned to France, fights both Berengier and Pyroet, and kills the latter, after Charles has called a halt to the fight. When Charles tries to arrest him, Richard kills Ganelon’s kinsman Lancelin of Clermont, and flees to Bordeaux. The Lorrainers refuse to make peace unless Richard is fully pardoned…

Peace is nonetheless made, and Ganelon travels to the East, where he finds Helen and Yon. He deviously brings about a quarrel between them, causing Helen to secretly leave Ays and wander the world. Meanwhile, in France, Ganelon’s nephew Robert of Milan is at war with the Lorrainers again.

A III: Charlemagne sends Wernier van Graven and Reinout van den dorne wit [= Of the White Thorn = Reynard of Mountauban] with Roland to Robert’s camp, to verify a claim by one Rigaut…

A IV: The envoys find Richard, then go to Belves, where they find Robert’s envoy Gubelin, who takes them to Robert himself…

A V: Ganelon is back in France, and confers with Robert. He advises his nephew to make peace now and betray the Lorrainers when they aren’t expecting anything. They go to Paris, Ganelon leading a hundred Arabian destriers, which he offers to Charlemagne, who promptly forgives him and Robert everything. Ganelon tells him that Yon and Helen are in Gothland…

C II: The Lorrainers and Bordelais make peace. Robert will give his daughter Ogieve and his fief of Montferrat to Rigaud. Richard will wed the Damsel of the [Spanish] March…

C III: Queen Helen, in her wanderings, comes to Jerusalem where she is shriven of her adultery by the Patriarch. Besides Otto and Yon, she has slept with two other kings, by whom she has two sons: Sigfried [Segenfrijt] and Rollo. She enters a nunnery. Yon, distraught at her absence, departs Gothland, leaving his son Haestinc behind. He comes to Gardeterre, which is under attack by Empress Irene. Hugelin recognizes his king with joy, and the two send word to France for Richard to come help them, with as many allies as he can…

A battle is fought between the Greeks and the Scythians…

C IV: Yon is victorious, puts Irene’s brother Hardré to flight, and kills Emperor Leo. Irene becomes the regent for her young son Constantine. Needing an ally, she becomes the mistress of the King of Bulgaria, and bears him a son, Michael. Shortly afterwards, however, they quarrel and go to war, totally distracting Irene from her conflict with the Scythians.

Meanwhile, the Scythians’ messenger arrives in France, finds Richard at court, and tells all his news. Ganelon promises to make Irene see reason, but privately encourages her to continue the war against Scythia. Richard suspects as much, but takes no action – yet. Meanwhile, Agolant still seeks vengeance against Ganelon…

Yon for some reason returns to France, possibly. Other scholars place Fragment B IV immediately after C II…

B IV: Rigaud and Ogieve receive the land of Bayonne in fief from Yon and Garin. The latter two travel to Gascony, where Yon stays while Garin vists his daughter Erminjard in Narbonne, with her husband Aymeri and their seven sons, including William. He next goes to Medeborch, where he meets Alice [The Damsel of the March?] and her son Wanfreid.

Ganelon orders his sons Baligant and Marsilius to invade Spain, and Irene to invade Scythia, while Yon is in France. Yon, Garin, and Rigaud travel through France, meeting the elderly Bancelin in Belin. Bancelin, apparently none other than the uncle of Raoul of Cambrai, intends to become a monk at Saint Berin, but the poet foretells a tragic death for him. Yon and Richard entrust Belin, Gironville, and Monstesclavorijn to Pyroen, who, though a son of Ganelon, is faithful to the Lorrainers…

Richard, son of Yon, is slain in the war, thus ending Book Two.

B V: Duke Frederick of Denmark comes to Yon’s aid and routs the Greeks outside Gardeterre. Irene and her son Fromondin are in the city of Pharat. As the Greek, Scythian, and Danish armies manouver and countermanouver, Fromondin kills Frederick. Yon recovers his corpse and praises him for his attempt to avenge the death of Richard…

D: Two Bordelais counts, Pinabel and Laidoen, are leading a mule-train laden with gold when they are surprised and robbed by the Scythians. The two counts are left alone in the forest, and are separated. Pinabel finds his way back to camp, but Laidoen finds a nest of gryphons. An old gryphon bites his arm off and feeds it to its young. Laidoen binds up his wound as best he can and repents his wicked plots against Charlemagne and Yon as he wanders through the night. At sunrise, he meets an old hermit, named Serpio…

The third book was meant to carry the history down to the days of Emperor Frederick. Roland and Aude’s son, Ryoen, known only in this poem, likely played a large role.

Marsilius and Baligant, living in Africa, invade Spain with their uncle Synagon, Sultan of Arabia, at their father’s suggestion. Charles takes his army into Spain to repel them, leading to the Battle of Roncesvalles. Ganelon orchestrates this battle, hoping it will kill off the flower of the world’s chivalry and leave the way clear for him to become master of all. Empress Irene leads her Greek army to fight the Christians at Roncesvalles. When Charlemagne hears Roland’s horn, he is suspicious of Ganelon, but Ganelon points out that his (Ganelon’s) sons Hugo and Hendrick are with Roland, and his daughter Irene is coming with an army to help Charles. Turpin is with Charlemagne, not at the battle. Charlemagne is not convinced, and orders the army to return to Roncesvalles. Ganelon goes to Irene, and they plot how best to betray Charles. They decide that the Greeks will fall on Charlemagne from the rear, and after he is dead Irene will wed Baligant [!]. Irene’s captains prepare the banners of Africa, but the common Greek soldiers, seeing this and realizing what is about to happen, abandon her en masse and go over to Charlemagne, who thereby learns of the treason, foils it, and arrests Ganelon and Irene. Ganelon is hanged with fourteen of his companions. Irene pleads her innocence, but the Duke of Monbaes shows the court her to sons, whom she blinded to maintain her power, and tells how she killed her own husband. Irene is quartered and her accomplices hanged. [This paragraph is from the Dutch chapbook of Roncesvalles, which seems to have been based partially on Der Lorreinen.]

At least one scholar thinks that Frederick was an error for Ludovic [Louis] and that the story would actually have ended with Louis the Pious and William of Orange. At any rate, if the story was ever finished, the end is lost.

Origins and Influence

A pun on the name of Haestinc and the Old French hanste, ‘lance’ suggests a French source, though how much it was altered by the Dutchman will never be known.

French or Dutch, our author knew the Pseudo-Turpin, some version of the Song of Roland, Aspremont (the gryphons’ nest, and Girbert’s rescue of Charlemagne during the war against Agolant, are clearly inspired by this poem), and Aymeri of Narbonne. The throwing of Judith into a brothel is derived either from saints’ lives (Saint Agnes, most famously) or from Apollonius of Tyre.

Empress Judith appears in this poem as a paragon of chastity. In real life, she had a rather different reputation.

Queen Helen’s sons, Haestinc, Rollo, and Segenfrijt, seem to take their names from the Viking chiefs Hasting and Rollo, and the Danish Sigifrid.

Empress Irene is very loosly based on the historical Irene, who was wife of Emperor Leo IV (775-780) regent for their son Constantine VI (780-790), and finally Empress in her own right (797-802). The historical Irene was an ally of Charlemagne’s, and even considered marrying him. All these historical characters, our author likely found in the chroncicle of Sigebert of Gembloux.

The Dutch chapbooks of Roncesvalles claim that Marsilius and Baligant were bastard sons of Ganelon, a conception found nowhere else outside Der Lorreinen. They also feature Ganelon’s daughter Irene as Empress of Greece. The reconstruction of Book III above is based on them. Of necessity it is rather speculative, as one never knows quite how much of a chapbook is due to the imagination, or the idiocy, of its publisher.

Let thus much suffice for the history of the Lorrainers, and let us now turn to Bevis of Hampton, that was the illustrious forbear of the house of Clairmont.