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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Notes to the Tenth Canto, Part 2

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto X, Stanzas 21-40 Notes

30. Cousin german. First cousins. I strongly suspect Uldano is Boiardo’s invention, or at most a very minor character in the romances of Ogier.
38. Stained with heresy. The Armenians, the first nation to adopt Christianity (several decades before the Roman Empire), succumbed to the Monophysite heresy in the 500’s. Subsequent attempts at reunion have met with only very limited success.
Emperor of Trebisond. After the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade in 1204, several rump states arose, all claiming the Imperial legacy. The longest lived of these was Trebisond on the Black Sea, which refused to submit to the Greek Emperors when they reclaimed their city in 1261. Trebisond actually outlasted Constantinople, and did not fall to the Turks until 1461.
39. Roase. Mesopotamia.

Back to Part 2

On to Part 3

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 of Montauban 5 – The Rhymed Remainement

Some time in the fifteenth century, the Quatre Fils Aymon was completely reworked into a new version which was entirely in rhyme. This version, like the original, was turned into prose later on, but the prose has never been printed.

B: London BM Royal 16 G II. Also known as R or as Bm. The beginning of the manuscript down to Charlemagne’s learning that the Four Sons are living in Montessor is in verse, the rest is a mise en prose (known as Bm) of the traditional versions, until the death of Renaud, after which the death of Maugis is in verse. Around 1450.

R: Paris Bib. Nat. fr. 764. Formerly known as N. Within two decades of 1440. Printed by Philippe Verelst, under the title “Renaut de Montauban. Édition critique du ms. de Paris, B.N., fr. 764 (“R”)”. 1988.

MANUSCRIPT R: BIB. NAT. FR. 764 (ROIS DE FRANCE)

Containing Renaud de Montauban.

Completely reworked, but follows the same basic plot until the siege of Tremoigne. Minor characters are renamed, Roland and Ganelon feature from the very beginning. The episode of Bueves is completely surpressed. The entire tone is more refined: Renaud kills Bertholet with a sword, not the chessboard. Charlemagne does not strike Renaud, as he does in all traditional versions except DPA. Maugis found Baiard in an enchanted cave, and won Froberge from the Saracen king Antenor. Montessor is again identified with Chateau-Regnault. The traitor Hervis dies in battle instead of being hanged by Renaud. His treason at Montessor is not the cause for Renaud’s abandonment of the castle. Renaud thwarts it, and only some time later is he starved out. Maugis does not steal Charlemagne’s treasure, and Renaud actually forbids him to do so, etc. The love of Clarice and Renaud is treated at some length. At Vaucoleurs, Maugis does not need to learn from Clarice that his cousins are in peril, and he has no trouble mounting Baiard. Renaud is trying to persuade his brothers to surrender when Maugis arrives to save them. Charlemagne uses cannons and springalds against Montauban.

At the siege of Tremoigne, instead of the usual adventures, Charles takes a nap in the forest, Ganelon tries to kill him, and Renuad, passing by, saves him. Charles wakes up, and does not believe a word of Renaud’s account of what happened. Naimes advises Charles to settle the war through single combat, Renaud versus Ganelon. Charles sends Richier of Denmark, bastard brother of Ogier, to Ganelon, who tries to kill him. Richier flees to Ogier’s tent, who saves him. Renaud makes peace with Charles. When they meet, Renaud kneels for three hours before Charles deigns to speak to him. Since Baiard was not mentioned in the peace treaty, Charles confiscates him and tries to hang him, but Bairard kills three squires and escapes to the forest of Arden. (Maugis will find him there later). Maugis departs, and Renaud slips away by night. He works his way across Europe as a collier’s apprentice, then sails to Acre, where he falls sick of leprosy. Maugis, meanwhile, has found Baiard, and rides him to Rome, whence a cloud transports him to Acre. [This whole section, the traditional part of the poem, is actually abridged to 9,000 verses, as opposed to 13,400 in L. The rest of the poem, a mere 2,700 verses in L, is now 20,000.]

King Robastre has conquered Jerusalem and all Syria. Maugis cures Renaud, and they meet King Richier, who is obliged to dismiss them when Baiard kills some of his subjects. Maugis returns to France and gives Baiard to Charlemagne, who throws him into the Rhine. Baiard, the people say, escaped, and is still alive, and can be heard neighing once a year. The Roche Baiart in Ardennes is mentioned. After indecisive battles, Renaud arrives at Jerusalem. He meets King Malaquin, a vassal of Robastre, who introduces the two. Renaud is given the finest accommodations, promises to give his son Yonnet to Robastre’s daughter Eglantine if she converts, and announces his intent to convert Robastre and his son Durandal. He challenges them to a duel, and they agree to convert if he can defeat both of them. Robastre is slain, but Durandal surrenders and is baptized Baptamur. All his people convert. Renaud and Baptamur rout King Danemont of Angorie and baptize his daughter under the name of Sinamonde. She will later wed Aymonnet. Sinamonde restores the relics of the Passion to Renaud. Renaud is amazed that they were so carefully preserved. Baptamur explains that they were hoping to sell them back to the Christians. Danemont returns with a mighty coalition, including Berfuné who can turn himself invisible. Berfuné taunts Renaud by telling him that his sons have been accused of treason by the sons of Ripeus, but Renaud does not believe him. Renaud, Baptamur, and King Richier confront Berfuné, who summons to his aid his four fairy guardians: Morgue, Ydain, Genouivre, and Oriande – the same Oriande who raised Maugis! They are furious that he is fighting Christians, and beat him up until he converts. Danemont is soon after defeated. Renaud returns home, where his family at first refuse to believe a word of his story.

His sons have indeed been challenged by the four sons of Ripeus of Ribemont (the man who tried to hang Richardet), instead of the two sons of Foulques of Morillon, as in the old poem.

After he dies [I can’t find how], Clarisse sends word to Yonnet, who is reigning in Jerusalem with Eglantine, who sends word to Aymonnet. Clarisse dies soon afterward, in Tremoigne. The other three Sons and Maugis are killed by Ganelon in Naples. Yonnet arrives with a navy and army to wreak vengeance. Allied with Ogier and Naymes, he besieges Charles in Montlaon. Charles surrenders, and becomes Yonnet’s vassal, who returns to Jerusalem. The end.

MANUSCRIPT B: LONDON

Containing Renaud de Montauban in verse and prose, and La Mort Maugis in verse.

Not quite identical to R, but close enough for our purposes. The verse stops when an unnamed knight tells Charles that the Four Sons are living in Montessor. The rest is prose, but the prose of the traditional version, not the rhymed remaniement.

Book I, Canto VII, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VII, Stanzas 61-72

61
“Of Baiard, I have made Gradass a present,
And we have made full reconciliation.
I’ll be his jester and amuse all present,
Thanks to Don Ganelone’s commendation;
I know that he will find these tidings pleasant.
For ev’ry man of you I’ve found a station.
Gradasso’s butler will be Charlemagne,
His carver Olivier, his cook the Dane.

62
“I told him Ganelone of Magance
Was a strong man; his heart was stout and good.
He ordered that a man of such puissance
Should fetch for him his water and his wood.
The rest of you back biters shall commence
To serve these other lords, and if you should
Follow my trade with diligence, you may
Be as esteemed as I am now, some day.”

63
Astolfo speaks without a laugh or smile,
And ev’rybody thinks his words are sooth.
Now is new misery on Charles piled.
Well might his paladins deserve your ruth.
Now Bishop Turpin speaks, “Ah, miscreant vile!
Hast thou forsaken Mother Church’s truth?
Astolfo says, “Sir Priest, depend upon it,
I have forsaken Christ and serve Mahomet.”

64
The French, astonished, turn as pale as death.
Some sigh, and some lament, and others weeps.
But now Astolfo wearies of his jest.
He throws himself at Emp’ror Charles’ feet.
“My lord, you are at liberty,” he says,
“And if I woke your wrath by my deceit,
For God’s sake, and for pity, pardon me,
For while I live, I shall your servant be.

65
“But mark my words! I swear thee by no means
Will I unto your court come ever back
Where Ganelone and his kinsmen dwell
Who know full well to change what’s white to black.
Unto your hands I trust all my demesnes,
For at the break of dawn I’ll start my trek
And won’t return, though I should freeze or scald,
Till I have found Orlando and Rinald.”

66
Nobody knows if he speaks truth or jests.
They sit and stare and try to read his face,
Until Gradasso, worthy lord, requests
Them all to rise up and be on their way.
Ganelon mounts his horse the speediest,
But Don Astolfo sees, and grabs his reins,
And says, “Halt, knight. You leave not by my will.
The rest are free, but you are pris’ner still.”

67
“Whose prisoner?” Count Ganelon demands.
“Astolf of England,” cometh his reply.
Gradasso makes the Christians understand
The terms Astolf and he abided by.
Astolfo leads Count Gano by the hand
Before King Charles, kneels, then meets his eye
And thus addresses him, “Your Majesty,
For love of you, I’ll set this caitiff free.

68
“But only on these terms and this condition:
That you will clasp his hands and have him swear
To spend four days confined within a prison
When I command. I shall choose when and where.
But above all, I seek for your permission
(For he’s accustomed to treat oaths like air
Towards the Paladins, and to your Crown)
To have his person well and firmly bound.”

69
King Charles says, “I will it to be so.”
Immediately they swear the oaths he seeks.
To Paris now the knights in triumph go.
Of nothing but Astolfo do they speak.
They throng around him, and their praises flow.
Some hug him tightly, others kiss his cheek.
For his great victory they weave him laurels.
He’s saved the Christian Faith and Emp’ror Charles.

70
The king tries ev’ry art to make him stay.
He offers all of Ireland in fee,
But he’s determined to be on his way
To find where Rinald and Orlando be.
I’ll leave him now, as he pursues his way,
And later I’ll resume his history.
That very night, just ere the break of dawn,
Gradasso and the Saracens are gone.

71
They come to Spain, where Marsil and his men
And all his barons go back to their homes.
Gradasso’s soldiers board their ships again,
A fleet so large, its numbers can’t be known.
I think my labors will be better spent
Than telling how the Saracens were blown
Through lands where Negroes swelter ‘neath the sun,
In telling you what Don Rinaldo’s done.

72
I’ll tell you all about his marvelous
Adventures, and his high and lofty quest,
Full of rejoicing, yet so perilous
That never was the hero so hard-pressed
But danger and misfortune as in this,
But ere I sing some more, I wish to rest,
And my coming canto I will show
Marvelous things of joyfulness and woe.

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Notes

Notes to the Seventh Canto, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VII, Stanzas 61-72 Notes

61. Boiardo actually writes that Oliver will be the cook and Ogier the carver [the servant who carves meat at table and serves it to the lords]. I have switched them for the sake of the meter.
68. Clasp his hands. Oaths of fealty were sworn by having the vassal kneel before his lord and clasp his hands together, while the lord stood and put his own hands around his vassal’s. The modern western posture of prayer arose from this custom, as a sign of offering fealty to God.

Back to Part 4

On to Canto VIII

Book I, Canto VII, Part 2

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VII, Stanzas 21-40

21
He would have been a captive, or a corpse,
But as I said, Alfrera reappeared,
Swinging his iron mace with deadly force
As through th’advancing Christian host he sheared.
Burgundian Gui he topples from his horse,
And good Duke Naimo of the hoary beard.
But Olivier, Dudon, and Charlemagne
All three at once against the giant came.

22
One charges from that side, and one from this.
Boldly and gallantly they urge their steeds.
He cannot turn his giraffe around. It is
By nature quite a lazy, sluggish beast.
He swings great strokes, but all of them just miss.
Charles and his companions dodge with ease.
Since nought he did availed him, he abated
His fight and fled to where Gradasso waited.

23
His flight the haughty lord Gradasso spies,
Who used to hold him in a high regard.
He turns to him in anger, and he cried:
“Ah, worthless coward, vile sack of lard!
Art thou not shamed, so cravenly to fly?
Art thou so great of limb and small of heart?
Go wait inside my tent, thou scorned of men,
And never let me see thee armed again!”

24
He ceases talking and he spurs his horse,
And with one thrust he overthrows Dudon.
And with what seems a more than human force
He floors Ricardo and King Salamon.
The men of Sericane behind him course.
Their dragon-hearted king deserves his throne.
His lance was iron bound, twenty feet long.
The world has never seen a man so strong.

25
Against Count Ganellone he collides,
Striking the falcon’s breast upon his shield.
He knocks him to the ground, his legs sprawled wide,
Then spies King Charlemagne across the field.
His lance in rest, with utmost speed he rides,
And with one blow, his seat the emperor yields.
But as Gradasso Baiard’s bridle clasped,
That destrier turned its croup, and lightning fast

26
With a loud neighing, he kicks out his heels,
And just below the knee gives such a clout
That though his greaves were of enchanted steel,
Yet they were dented in, while sparks flew out.
Worse pain than ever now Gradasso feels.
It runs all through him, so he turns about,
And leaves Baiardo, letting fall the rein;
The good beast swiftly back to Paris came.

27
Gradasso flees in anguish to his tent.
You all may guess what agony he’s in.
Straightaway for an agéd man he sent,
A master of the art of medicine.
He binds the wound with skill, and then presents
A potion brewed from herbs and roots to him,
Which, when Gradasso quaffs it all, it seems
As if his wound were nothing but a dream.

28
To battle he returns, sans pain or fear .
In fact, he’s even fiercer than before.
Against him gallops Marquis Olivier,
But with one blow he knocks him to the floor.
Avin, Avolio, Guido, Angelier,
Without a pause he overthrows all four
To tell it shortly, ev’ry Paladin
Was by Gradasso captured with great vim.

29
The Christian people turn about and flee;
Against the Saracens no more they fight.
The Frankish lords are in captivity.
The other rabble in distress take flight.
No Christian faces do the pagans see;
Captives or slain are all the valiant knights.
And of the rest, none than the next is bolder,
And all show to the Saracens their shoulders.

30
Now all of Paris hears the tidings dread
Of the defeat, and Karl’s captivity.
Ogier the Dane leaps up at once from bed,
Lamenting loudly, as a baron free.
He donned his arms, then to the gate he sped
On foot, not waiting even for his steed.
But he commanded it be harnessed straight,
And brought to meet him at the Paris gate.

31
When he arrived, he found the gate was down,
And from without he hears the woeful cry
Of all the baptized cruelly cut down.
The murd’rous porter at his ease there lies;
So that the Pagans enter not the town
He is content that his compatriots die.
The Dane him bids to open up the gate;
He clearly sees he can’t a minute wait.

32
The scowling porter, like a churl, informs
The Dane he has no wish to raise the gate,
And with proud boasts he blusters and he storms
That his appointed post he’ll ne’er forsake.
Ogieri lifts his axe, which so alarms
The porter, that he doesn’t hesitate
To run away in terror with a shout.
Ogieri opes the gate and rushes out.

33
Upon the bridge forth strides the gallant knight;
With axe in readiness he takes his stand.
Now is he fortunate to have keen sight,
For as in terror fled the Christian band,
Each of them wishing to be first in flight,
The swiftest Pagans mixed among them ran.
The mighty Dane perceives them where they go,
And with his axe he brings them all to woe.

34
The Pagan army ever closer sped.
Don Serpentino leads them their attack.
Upon the bridge, as swift as lightning, leapt
The Danish hero, brandishing his axe,
And brought it down on Serpentino’s head.
The sparks fly from his helm, which would have cracked
If Serpentino’s armor were not made
By magic art, secure from all such blades.

35
The Dane upon the Pagan army gazed.
Gradasso led, and mighty Ferragu.
So many enemies Ogieri faced,
He clearly saw that nothing could he do.
He called behind him that the bridge be raised.
There never was a knight so brave and true.
Alone against the Pagan host he fights,
And keeps them off the bridge in their despite.

36
Gradasso confidently ‘gainst him came,
Ordering all his vassals to step back.
Ogieri hears the gate shut with a clang,
And in a brave despair he lifts his axe.
Gradasso seizes it, to snap in twain,
Then lights down off his charger, and he grasps
The Dane, who’s stout and skilled in wrestling play,
But King Gradasso carries him away.

37
No knights were left to make an opposition,
As day gave was unto the dusky knight.
The priests lead all the people in processions,
With pure intent, and clad in garments white.
Open is ev’ry church, and ev’ry prison
With fear and terror they await the light.
None dare to rest, for once the gates are breached,
Destruction waits alike for all and each.

38
Astolfo with the others was set free;
No one remembered that he was alive;
For once he’d been thrown in captivity
A rumor went around that he had died.
His habit was to talk incessantly
And brag more proudly than I could describe.
He heard the news, and “Oh, alas!” he moaned,
“Of my arrest, Gradasso must have known!

39
“Had I not been thrown in a dungeon cell,
King Charlemagne would have no cause to moan.
But even now, I can make all things well,
I’ll take Gradasso pris’ner by my lone.
Soon as the dawning o’er th’horizon swells
I’ll arm myself and mount upon my roan.
You all, stand on the walls and watch me fight.
Woe to the infidel who tests my might!”

40
Meanwhile, joy possessed the pagan races.
They cheer their ruler and upon him fawn.
His glee unbounded written on his face is,
Dreaming of seizing Paris at the dawn.
He’s put Alfrera back in his good graces.
Now to review his prisoners he’s gone.
When he sees Charlemagne, he sits down, and
He takes his fellow monarch by the hand

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Book I, Canto VII, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VII, Stanzas 1-20

CANTO VII

ARGUMENT

Ogier retreats, the barons issue out,
Stoutly they fight, but all are caught at last.
Gradasso doth the Christian army rout,
But thanks t’Ogier, the Paris walls aren’t passed.
Astolfo, like a foolish, headstrong lout
Ruins the truce, and leaves King Charles aghast.
Astolfo and Gradass joust one on one,
And with that joust, so shall the war be done.

1
Cruel and chaotic was the fight begun,
Outside of Paris, as I sang before.
Now does the Dane against Urnasso run,
And with Curtana through the heart him gores.
The pagan army’s routed and undone,
But King Urnasso’s thrice-accursed horse,
Strikes with its horn upon the Dane’s cuirass,
And doth through chainmail and through platemail pass.

2
Ogieri, wounded sore in places three,
Returned to Paris and a doctor found.
The Emperor, who all the battle sees,
Sends Salamone to the battle ground,
And Turpin after him, that ardent priest.
The drawbridge of Saint-Denis he lets down,
And thence sends Ganelon with all his force.
Ricardo by another route goes forth.

3
Out of a third go mighty Angelieri,
And strong Dudon, the soul of courtesy;
And from the Royal Gate comes Olivieri,
And mighty Guido, lord of Burgundy.
The wise duke Naimo, his sons Berlengieri,
Avol, Otton, Avin, each bold and free,
Some from one gate, some from another go,
To wreak upon the heathens pain and woe.

4
The Emperor, the fiercest soldier there,
Issues forth armed, and leads the last brigade,
The while to God he softly makes his prayer
That Paris might from fire and sack be saved.
Relics and crosses monks and mass-priests bear
In long processions, and devoutly prayed
To God and all His saints, that they preserve
King Charles and his barons strong of nerve.

5
And now there is a mighty sound of bells,
Of drums, and trumpets, and of battle-cries.
From ev’ry part advance the infidels,
And straight against them do the Christians ride.
There never was a battle half as fell,
Both sides are mixed together in the fight.
Don Olivieri ‘mongst the Paynim ranks
Seems like a stream that overflows its banks.

6
He rides against footmen and cavaliers,
And some he knocked to earth and some he slew
With Altachiara, filling hosts with fear,
More than a thousand other knights could do.
And not a single thrust his armor pierced.
Now Stracciaberra comes into his view,
That Black-skinned Indian, King of Lucinorca
Who had two tusks protruding like a porker.

7
The fight between these cavaliers was brief,
For Olivier brought Altachiara down,
Between the Indian’s eyes, then ‘twixt his teeth,
Splitting in two his ugly visage brown;
This done, his sharpened blade he did not sheath,
But wreaked destruction with it all around,
And while he wasted all of that brigade,
Emperor Charlemagne came to his aid.

8
That monarch’s sword was all awash in blood.
That day he rode to battle on Baiard;
None of the Saracens against him stood.
You never saw a king who fought so hard.
He sheathes his brand, and takes a lance of wood,
Because he’s challenged by the King Francard,
Francardo, ruler of Elissa’s land,
In India, who had a bow in hand.

9
The strange man, as he rides, shoots constantly.
He is coal-black; snow-white is his destrier.
Charlemagne interrupts him in his spree,
And all the way though him he drives his spear.
The body’s pierced and broke; the spirit flees.
Baiardo’s not yet tired, it appears.
The steed lay dead before him on the ground,
But he leapt o’er it with a single bound.

10
“Who is the man who dares to block my way?
Who stops me riding whereso I desire?”
So shouts King Charles, and within the fray
He passes through the Saracens like fire.
Cornuto, once Urnasso’s charger gay,
Races around, unrid by knight or squire.
With its horn down, it runs against Baiard,
But this steed’s courage is by no means marred.

11
Without King Charles prompting him, he starts
To turn around, and he kicks out his hooves,
And strikes Cornuto where his forelegs part.
He falls to ground, and never more he moves.
Oh, how King Charles laughs with all his heart!
Now does the battle grow more fierce, in sooth,
Because Alfrera leads a mighty corps
Of Saracens, all eager for the war.

12
Upon his giraffe the mighty giant fares,
Swinging his club and dealing dreadful harm.
Turpin of Rheims he lifts into the air
And then he tucks him underneath his arm
And fights as well as if he wasn’t there.
Oton and Berlengier, to their alarm,
He grabs, and ties them up, and then he brings
Them, trussed up like a faggot, to the king

13
And turns immediately back to the plain;
To seize and bind the others is his plan.
Marsilio comes, with all the folk of Spain,
And he himself is leader of the van.
Thoughts of surrender or of flight are vain.
Ev’ryone fights as stoutly as he can.
Olivier and the Paladins concur
To form a circle round their emperor.

14
In gilded arms he sits upon Baiard,
Covered from crest to spur with precious stones.
And Marquis Olivier his right side guards,
And at his other shoulder brave Dudon,
And Angelier, and worthy Don Riccard,
And good Duke Naimo, and Count Ganelon.
They from their line and gallop off to bring
Doom to the heathen Spaniards and their king.

15
Don Ferragu against the Marquis speeds,
And that stout pagan has the upper hand,
But not enough to knock him from his steed,
So they begin to fight with their good brands.
Don Angelieri and Spinella meet,
And Gano with Margante breaks a lance.
The Argalif with the Baviarn jousts,
And ev’ryone is fighting all about.

16
And while the mêlée and the tumult grow,
Grandonio meets Dudone in that place.
These two lay on each other mighty blows,
For each of them prefers to use his mace.
Each paladin confronts his chosen foe.
Marsil and Charlemagne are face to face,
And king Marsilio’s life would have been through
Had he not been relieved by Ferragu.

17
Forgetting Olivier, he leaves his fight,
Fearing lest his dear uncle should be slain.
But the Marquis, just like a valiant knight,
Rides to the aid of Emp’ror Charlemagne.
Now of these four, each is a man of might,
Each quick of limb, and each of battle fain.
On that day Charles more adroitly sparred
Than any other, for he rode Baiard.

18
Each a great baron, or a mighty king,
And each in love with honor and with glory;
Their shields they have forgotten, while they swing
Their swords with both their hands, in raging fury.
Meanwhile, the Chrisitans to the Spaniards bring
Defeat, and chase them in a routing gory.
Marsilio’s standard lay upon the ground;
This was the state of things Alfrera found.

19
The Spaniards fled as swiftly as they could,
Across the plain, and dared no longer dwell.
Neither Marsilio nor Grandonio stood
His ground, but joined in the retreating swell.
The Argalifa showed his legs were good,
And King Morgante, that false infidel.
Spinella back towards the camp has flown.
Don Ferraguto fights his foes alone.

20
Just like a lion he confronts their ranks,
Nor does he falter in the slightest manner.
Upon his armor now, Dudon the Frank,
Charles and Olivieri stoutly hammer.
He guards his front side now, and now his flank,
And strikes them back again with mighty clamor.
But since his army’d left him all alone,
These three ferocious soldiers wore him down.

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Notes

Notes to the Seventh Canto, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VII, Stanzas 1-20, Notes

1. Curtana. Or Cortana, or Cortain, or Curtain. Ogier’s sword. The name means “Short”, and how he got this sword is told in Le Chevalerie Ogier le Danois.
3. Gui of Burgundy. Hero of Fierabras, and husband of the giant Fierabras’ sister Floripas.
15. The Bavarian. Naimo.

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Book I, Canto VI, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VI, Stanzas 61-69

61
But King Gradasso’s men have crossed the mounts,
And will be at the Paris gates ere long.
Charlemagne summons all his dukes and counts.
To save their fatherland, to him they throng.
Guards on the bridges and the tow’rs he mounts,
And makes each part, to withstand battle, strong.
They stand alert, and on a morn they see
Th’advancing banners of the Paynimrie.

62
The Emp’ror has his army all prepared.
Days ago were his battalions made.
Now are the banners waving in the air,
And now the trumpets and the tambours play.
The soldiers have been waiting in the square.
They arm and exit through Saint Celsus’ gate,
The footmen foremost and the knights in back.
Ogier the Dane will lead the first attack.

63
The King Gradasso has his people split
Into five parts, each one a vast brigade.
The first, of Indian folk nigh infinite,
Of ugly blackamoors this horde was made.
Two kings as captains of this army sit.
One was Cardon, who like a bloodhound bayed.
Urnass the Merciless with him attacks,
Who wields six javelins and a giant axe.

64
King Stracciaberra leads the next brigade.
A sight more hideous the world knows none.
Two tusks like boars’ he had. Men were afraid
At the mere sight of him. Beside him comes
Francardo, bearing javelins long and great,
Which he could farther throw than anyone.
The third is made of soldiers from Ceylon,
Their king, Alfrera, ‘tis who leads them on.

65
The fourth is wholly of the folk of Spain,
Led by Marsilio with his lords beside.
The fifth one fills the mountains and the plain,
And over them Gradasso’s pennon flies.
So vast the army was that thither came
That by mere words it could not be described.
But let us speak now of the strong Ogier,
Who leads his men against Cardano fierce.

66
A good twelve thousand in a fair brigade
The Dane Ogieri leads to the attack,
Marching together, properly arrayed;
They split and drive right through the horde of blacks.
Against Cardon his lance in rest he laid.
That brute howls like a dog, his head thrown back.
Upon an armored horse he sits, unblessed.
Ogieri strikes the middle of his chest.

67
His shield and breastplate are no use at all,
He falls off of his steed and soon will die.
He kicks the air as on the ground he falls,
Because he’s been transfixed from side to side.
Now his companion moves, Urnasso tall.
He lets a dart against Ogieri fly.
Through mail and cuirass and through shield it pressed.
The iron stopped just as it reached his chest.

68
Ogier is wounded, but he still fights on;
The giant throws another with such force
It pierces through his shoulder to the bone.
Then was the Dane in pain and sorrow sore.
He mutters to himself, “If I get close,
I’ll make thee pay for this, son of a whore!”
Urnasso drops his darts upon the land,
And lifts his battle-axe with both his hands.

69
My lords, if I were silent, I were wrong,
About Urnasso’s horse. It’s full of spirit;
Upon its brow a horn grows, two foot long,
With which it spits whoever comes anear it.
But at this point I must break off my song,
Which grows so long, you may not wish to hear it;
For I have sung for long enough already,
And this new battle will be long and bloody.

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Notes