Notes to the Eighth Canto, Part 2

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

25. Merlon. The stones that stick up in a battlement.
Blood. Blood dries black, as Boiardo and his audience were well aware. The castle must do a lively business in executions.
29. Grifone. Not to be confused with Grifone son of Olivier or the various Grifones of House Maganza.

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.

Notes

The Legend of Girfaus

The legend of Girfaus survives in only one fragment: the top portion of one manuscript leaf which was used as part of the binding for a later book. The fragment is from between 1200 and 1250, and is written in monorhymed decasyllabic laisses. The only edition is “A Fragment of an Unknown ‘Roland’ Epic”, by Roger Middleton and Karen Pratt, in King’s College London Medieval Studies XII: Roland and Charlemagne in Europe. There is no English translation, and to my knowledge this is the first English summary.

…Karles tells Milon the Bearded that he intends to burn towers, castles and cities to the ground. A Saracen spy overhears this, and begins making his way back to his own camp. He passes by the tents where Roland and Oliver are sleeping, and returns to Orbloise, where he tells Girfaus all. Girfaus splits his army in two, and advances…

…Oliver kills someone…

…Guifar mentions his father Fouré, apparently after killing Druin…

…Roland has Durandal, and kills Jonafin. Oliver kills Brut. Girfaus sees this…

…Antone does something [probably gets killed by Girfaus]…

Girfaus sees the ruin of his men. He kills the young Guion d’Orleans. Roland pursues many, no one can escape him. The younger son of Fourez [probably Guifar] kills Folcart and Focerez, with the sword with which Marsiles the Amirez [Emir] had dubbed him. Oliver sees this, and kills him with Hauteclere. He says that he [the son] will never avenge his father. He then shouts aloud to Girfaus, taunting him with the death of his brother* and of his father Fourez.

[*The MS actually reads “Thy father is dead, and thy father Fourez.” The correction is the editors’, and makes much more sense.]

THE SOURCES OF THE LEGEND

We have so little information that anything would be mere speculation. If Guifar was dubbed by Marsile, then perhaps this is from some lost version of the Entrée en Espagne? Or perhaps it is a completely different war. We will probably never know. It is anyone’s guess if “Milon le Barbé” is the father of Roland or not. The only other Milon le Barbé listed in Langlois has a walk-on role as one of Ganelon’s family in Aye d’Avignon.

The Legend of Emperor Octavian

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE SECOND REDACTION

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

Kaiser Octavianus. A German chapbook, from 1545.

Hans Sach’s play, 1555.

Sebastian Wilde’s poem, 1566.

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

A Polish version from the 1600’s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE LONG REDACTION

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

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

 

OCTAVIAN IN OCTOSYLLABLES

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

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

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

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

 ENGLISH OCTOVIAN

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

 IRISH OCTAVIAN

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

 FLORENT ET LYON

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

FLORENT ET OCTAVIEN IN ALEXANDRINES

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

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

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

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 14: Broadside Ballads

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles.

The following ballads are what are known as Broadside or Stall Ballads in English. They are not founded in folk tradition, and usually have little literary value. The ones which follow are all from the eighteenth century, written for street peddlers to sell and beggars to sing.

JUAN JOSEF LOPEZ’ CYCLE OF FIERABRAS AND RONCESVALLES

1253, HAVING CONQUERED ROME AND CARRIED OFF THE HOLY RELICS, THE ALMIRANTE BALAN INVADES FRANCE, AND HOW HIS SON THE GIANT FIERABRAS DEFIED THE TWELVE PEERS, AND FOUGHT A REMARKABLE DUEL WITH THE FAMOUS OLIVEROS.
Balan, the Almirante of Turkey, has a fifteen foot son, Fierabras of Alexandria. When said son is twenty, they sack Rome and kill the Pope. Charlemagne rides forth with his twelve Peers. They make camp, and Fierabras taunts him and challenges the Peers. Roldan won’t fight, because Charles had teased him the other day about not being as good as the older knights. Charles is about to kill him for his insubordination, but is prevented. Oliveros and his squire Guarin go to fight Fierabras. Guarin runs ahead to challenge the giant, who is amused and sends him back. Oliveros arrives, and the fight begins.

1254, THE BATTLE ‘TWIXT OLIVEROS AND FIERABRAS CONTINUES. FIERABRAS IS DEFEATED AND WOUNDED SORE, AND CARRIED TO CHARLEMAGNE’S CAMP, WHERE HE SEEKS AND OBTAINS BAPTISM. ALTHOUGH THE CHRISTIANS VANQUISH THE TURKS, OLIVEROS AND FOUR OTHER PEERS ARE CAPTURED.
The title says it all. Fierabras is baptized in Saint Peter’s, by an archbishop. Roldan and Oliveros’ father [unnamed] are his sponsors.

1255, HOW FLORIPES, BALAN’S DAUGHTER, SUCCORED AND ARMED THE CHRISTIANS AND DECLARED HER LOVE FOR GUI OF BORGOÑA, AND ALSO HOW THE ALMIRANTE SENT AMBASSADORS TO CHARLEMAGNE, FOR THE RANSOM OF FIERABRAS, AND HOW THEY MET WITH THOSE CHARLEMAGNE SENT TO THE PAGAN TO EXHORT HIM TO CONVERT AND RETURN THE RELICS. OF THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE HERALDS: HOW SEVEN CHRISTIANS VANQUISHED FOURTEEN TURKS, AND CONTINUED THEIR JOURNEY TO THE ENEMY COURT.
The title says it all. Oger is here mentioned to be one of the captives.

1256, HOW THE ALMIRANTE SIEZED THE AMBASSADORS, AND FLORIPES CLEVERLY SAVED THEM FROM IMMEDIATE DEATH; AND HOW SHE ARMED AND REUNITED THEM WITH THE OTHERS, TOOK REFUGE IN A TOWERT AND DEFENDED IT, AND WEDDED GUI OF BORGOÑA.
Roldan and Naymes are among the ambassadors. Ricarte is in the tower, though whether he was with the first or the second batch of captives is not stated.

1257, BALAN BESIEGES THE TOWER, AND IS ROUTED IN A SALLY THE KNIGHTS MAKE. HE RETIRES WITH GUI OF BORGOÑA CAPTIVE, AND ORDERS HIM HANGED IN FRONT OF THE BESIEGED, WHO RESCUE HIM. RICARTE ESCAPES THE TOWER AND TELLS CHARLEMAGNE THE PERIL OF THE BESIEGED. HE RIDES TO THEIR AID, AND CROSSED MANTRIBLE, KILLING THE GIANT WHO DEFENDS IT.
The title says it all, literally. Mantrible is a [fictional] bridge.

1258, THE BATTLE TWIXT THE TROOPS OF BALAN AND THOSE OF CHARLEMAGNE. BALAN IS BEATEN, TAKEN, AND AT LAST PUT TO DEATH BY HIS OWN SON FIERABRAS, BECAUSE HE REFUSED TO BE BAPTIZED.
To cross the bridge of Mantrible, the knights pretend to be merchants. Ricarte kills the giant who guards the near side of the bridge. Fierabras kills the one on the far side, named Anteon. Anteon’s wife, Damieta, seeks revenge, and Fierabras kills her, too. Her two sons, four months old but twelve and a half palms tall, are baptized by Charlemagne and called Roldan and Oliveros, but they die after being christened. Roldan’s father is unhorsed in the great battle, but it is unclear if he survives or not.

1259, HAVING CONQUERED THE KINGDOM OF BALAN, CHARLEMAGNE RETURNS TO FRANCE, WHERE, LIVING PEACEFULLY, HE SEES IN THE SKY A ROAD OF STARS WHICH LEADS FROM ITALY TO GALICIA. BY A REVELATION FROM SAINT JAMES, HE DEPARTS TO CONQUER THIS PLACE, AND TO FIND AND HONOR THE BODY OF THE APOSTLE. A BATTLE IN WHICH FERRAGUZ IS DEFEATED AND KILLED BY ROLDAN.
Balan’s kingdom is Aguas-Muertas. Charles adorns Saint James’ body with a very rich tomb, but the Almirante of Babilon [probably Cairo], brooding on the death of Aigolante when he hears of Charles’ pilgrimage, sends Ferraguz, who is seventeen and a half palms tall, with thirty thousand men. Ferraguz overthrows Oger, Reinaldos, Constantino of Rome, and others. Eventually Charles sends two paladins at once, but they still lose. Finally, Roldan comes. They fight, and discuss theology. Ferraguz declares that the winner of the fight must be on God’s side. Roldan agrees, and wounds him so badly that his shouts rouse all the camp, and the battle becomes general. All the Moors are killed, and the Christians return to France.

1260, THE BATTLE OF RONCESVALLES. THE DEATH OF ROLDAN. CHARLEMAGNE COMES TO HIS MEN AND AVENGES THEM, DEFEATING THE MOORS. THE PUNISHMENT OF THE TRAITOR GALALON.
The Almirante of Babylon [Cairo], after Ferraguz dies, summons Marsilius and his brother Belengandus, with a hundred and fifty thousand knights, to war against Charlemagne. Galalon, Charles’ ambassador, arranges the treason. He tells Charlemagne that Marsilius and Belengandus have agreed to covnert. In the field of Roncesvalles, the Christians are caught unaware. After a great battle, all are killed. Roldan, sorely wounded, grabs a Turk and asks to be led to Marsilius. The Turk points him out, and tells how he gave great gifts to “your ambassador”. Roldan slaughters Marsilius and his guard, and retreats up the mountain, where he begs mercy from God, bids farewell to his sword [unnamed], and tries to break it, but only succeeds in breaking the rock. He sounds his horn, and Charlemagne comes. Tierri and Valdovinos [Baldwin, Roldan’s half-brother] find Roldan first. He begs Valdovinos for water, who leaves, but can’t find any. As he searches, he finds Charlemagne and tells him all. Meanwhile, Roldan has confessed his sins to Tierri and died. Charles laments, orders Roldan embalmed, and finds Oliveros, with two great gashes and twelve spears sticking out of his body. He is embalmed and laid by Roldan. Charlemagne pursues the Moors, and kills six thousand. Many more drown in the Ebro, trying to flee his wrath. Galalon is torn by four horses. Juan Josef Lopez wrote this; pray for him.

VALENTINE AND ORSON

1281, DON CLAUDIO Y DOÑA MARGARITA – I. Anonymous. “Hoy, señores, hoy se alienta”
Harken to the sufferings of a highborn lady. In France their lived a knight named Don Claudio. He loves this lady, and meets her in a garden. He confesses his love, and she grants hers. They are wed. They hire as their steward Don Alberto, who falls in love with the lady. When Don Claudio goes to war, Don Alberto begins his suit. She rejects him with insults, and he swears vengeance. When Claudio comes home, Alberto murders her page, and pretends it was because he found the lad in bed with the lady. The lady faints at this false accusation, which Claudio takes as proof of her guilt. He laments his Margarita’s infidelity, but orders his men to take her to the woods and cut her heart out and her finger off, and bring them back. His two servants lead her out, but spare her life, instead bringing back the heart and finger of a recently deceased woman at a hospital. As Margarita wanders in the wild, she gives birth to two sons, one of whom is carried off by a bear. She saves the other, and goes looking for water to baptize him. She meets a shepherd, who takes her in and baptizes her son Valentin.

1282, DON CLAUDIO Y DOÑA MARGARITA – II. “Ya dijo el primer romance”
Lady Margarita and Valentin live with the shepherds. Meanwhile, her other son is raised by a bear in a cave. He grows up to be a wild man, and so terrorizes the local shepherds that they send to Paris for help. Don Claudio, with Don Alberto, goes to hunt this monster. He lodges for the night with the same shepherds who took in Margarita. He notices how much she resembles his wife, and sighs. She recognizes him, and tries not to be recognized. In the morning, the knights ride to the hunt. Margarita finds a place where she can lament alone, but is found by Valentin, and is obliged to explain everything. Valentin catches up with the hunt, stabs Alberto, and demands that he confess his treason. He confesses, and dies. Don Claudio is reunited with his wife and one son thus, and when they find the other boy, he recognizes his father by natural instinct. He follows him home to Margarita and Valentin, and recognizes them too. They all ride back to Paris, with the bear following behind. The wild youth is baptized Orson, and Don Claudio gives many gifts to Our Lady.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads 12: Bernardo at Roncesvalles

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

648, BERNARDO AND HIS MEN SALLY TO THE FIELD AGAINST THE FRENCH. Class VIII. “Aguardando que amanezca”
Bernardo surveys the field from a mountain top, and bids his three hundred men fear not, for ten Spaniards are a match for a thousand foreigners. They join with the Saracens, and ride to battle.

649, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Con los mejores de Astúrias”
Benardo leaves Leon with the best men of Asturias, to stop Charlemagne from usurping the crown Alfonso the Chaste has offered him. He gives a rousing speech to his men, then spurs his horse, shouting, “Follow me, all you who are sons of the brave!”

650, THE FRENCH PREPARE CONFIDENTLY FOR THE BATTLE OF RONCESVALLES. Class VIII. “Blasonando está el frances”
The French are encamped at Roncesvalles. Roldan, the twelve Peers, and Charlemagne are confident that soon they will quarter the fleur-de-lis with a castle and a lion [the arms of Spain], and that no one on earth can stand against them.

651, BERNARDO, THE CHAMPION OF RONCESVALLES, WITH THE DEATH OF ROLDAN AND THE TWELVE PEERS OF FRANCE. By Gabriel Lobo Laso de la Vega. Class VIII. “Con crespa y dorada crin”
Charles the Frank leads his massive army into Roncesvalles at dawn, to conquer Spain, with his twelve Peers behind him. Alfonso of Castile and Marsilio of Aragon, are waiting for him, with their respective champions, Bernardo and Bravonel. After a long and bloody fight, the Spaniards are victorious. Roldan and Oliveros are dead, with the flower of France. Charlemagne flees, with the greatest losses ever known.
Number 652 is a reworking of this one, with many unaltered lines, but much less detail.

652, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. Class VIII. “Con crespa y dorada crin.”
The Gauls lead a massive army into Roncesvalles at dawn. Bernardo and Marsilio are waiting for them. After a long and bloody fight, Bernardo and Bravonel are victorious. The French flee, leaving their banner behind.

653, BERNARDO DEFEATS AND KILLS ROLDAN. Class VIII. “El invencible frances”
The invincible Frenchman, the senator of Rome, who converted Agrican, defeated Almonte, held off an army at Abraca by himself, is dead. Brava’s lord could not defeat El Carpio’s. After slaying Dudon, Oliveros, Aquilante and Grifone, and spilling a lake of French blood, Alfonso’s nephew attacked Charles’, and slew him.
No mention is made of Roland’s invincibility requiring Bernardo to strangle him.

For the other Spanish ballads of Roncesvalles, see this page.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 8. Miscellaneous Ballads

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

SATIRICAL BALLADS

436, DURANDARTE. Class VIII. “Durandarte, buen amigo.”
Montesinos asks Durandarte what message to carry to Belerma. Durandarte answers that he will be quite content if she is sad for three days before starting to look for a new lover.

437, BELERMA. By Luis de Góngora. Class VIII. “Diez años vivió Belerma”.
Ten years after Roncesvalles, Belerma is still weeping over the heart of Durandarte. Lady Alda, by now the merry widow of Count Rodulfo, visits to cheer her up, and to suggest that they search for new husbands together, only stopping her praise of married life when Montesinos walks in.

DIDACTIC BALLAD

438, ROLDAN. Class VIII. “Señor conde Don Roldan.”
The old Don Beltran gives Roldan advice on how to have a happy married life with Alda.

MISCELLANEOUS BALLADS

289, THE SULTAN OF BABYLON AND THE COUNT OF NARBONNE. Class III. “Del Soldan de Babilonia”
The Sultan of Babylon and sixty thousand troops sail to Narbonne, and capture Count Benalmeniquí [Aymeri]. They exhibit him before the castle walls. The Countess offers to pay any price to ransom him. The Count bids her not pay one maravedi.
From La Mort Aymeri de Narbonne.

291, THE PALMER. Class III. “De Mérida sale el Palmero”
A palmer leaves Mérida, and comes to Paris. He asks for Charlemagne, and is told that he is hearing Mass at Saint John Lateran. In the church, the palmer bows to the bishop, and to the Emperor, but not to Roldan or Oliveros. Insulted, they draw their swords on him. Charles restrains them, but demands an explanation from the palmer. He tells how he loved the princess of Sansueña [here, Saragossa], but was captured and imprisoned in Mérida. Charles asks if Mérida is strong. The palmer says yea. Roldan and Oliveros say nay. The palmer then criticizes them and Charles for not coming to Mérida to rescue the Emperor’s son who was captive there, at which the queen recognizes him for her long-lost son, to much rejoicing.
Rodd
A palmer is a pilgrim who has been to the Holy Land, as distinct from a romero, who has been to Saint James of Compostella. Once again, the Spanish seem to think that the Lateran is in Paris. Duran didn’t list this with the Charlemagne ballads proper in order to link it with another ballad of a pilgrim, number 292, “En los tiempos que me vi” which, while interesting, has no similarities to this ballad, and nothing to do with Charlemagne.

323, COUNT GRIFOS LOMBARDO. Class V. “En aquella peñas pardas”
Count Grifos is captured by Charlemagne’s knights for raping a girl on pilgrimage to Saint James, who was daughter of a duke, and niece of the Pope. He is thrown in the dungeon, and is sentenced to marry his victim.
Grifone is a common name for Maganzans and other traitors. Probably this is one of them, and not Grifone the son of Oliver. According to some early traditions, Bernardo del Carpio was begotten  under similar circumstances.
There two ballads in the oral tradition, which seem to be related to this one, but have lost all connection with Charlemagne. In one the knight is rescued from prison by his brother. In the other, he is sentenced to be hanged at midnight. As he is being led out, he calls for his nephew. His nephew’s wife, however, is the king’s daughter, and tells her husband that it is merely the howling of a dog he hears, and so the nephew arrives too late to save the count. He swears vengeance, and kills his wife, cuts off her breasts, shows them to the king, and proceeds to kill the king, the queen, the princess, and all the courtiers he can find. He then embalms his uncle and sits him on the throne.

DOUBTFUL AND SEMI-CAROLINGIAN BALLADS

299, THE ADULTERER CHASTISED. Class V. “Ay qué linda que eres, Alba”
Count Grifos and Alba have an assignation, when her husband Albertos returns early from hunting. He hides in the closet, and she tries to explain why she is blushing, why Grifos’ armor and horse are present, but fails and dies of terror.
Duran seems to think this is the same Grifos as in 323. I don’t see why. See Child’s Ballads No. 274 “Our Goodman” for everything you could ever want to know about this kind of ballad.

298, THE ADULTERER CHASTISED.  Class III. “Blanca sois, señora mia”
A knight and lady have an assignation, when her husband the Count returns early from hunting. The lady tries to explain why she is blushing, why someone’s armor and horse are present, but when he asks whose lance is in the hall, confesses.
Wright.
A version of 299. Again, see Child.

319, THE DISCONSOLATE AND JEALOUS LOVER. Class V. “Caballero, si á Francia ides”
A lament of a woman, asking a cavalier to go to France and tell her lord to come rescue her.
Either an imitation of Melisendra’s laments in Sansueña, or those same laments genericized.

5, PRINCESS SEVILLA AND PERANZULES. Class V. “Sevilla está en un torre”
Princess Sevilla climbs the highest tower of in Toledo, whence she beholds a knight riding towards the city, with seven chained Moors in tow. Another Muslim knight is chasing him, catches up with him, and announces that the captives are his father and brothers, and offers to pay a ransom, or failing that, to duel for them. Peranzules, the Christian knight, overthrows him, beheads him, and leads his prisoners into Toledo to present to Sevilla.
In oral versions, the religion of the two combatants and the victor are highly variable. The Jewish versions tend to make the Muslim win.
The late lamented Samuel Armistead, who probably knew more about the Sephardic Jews’ folklore than anyone else ever has or will, thinks it very possible that this ballad is descended from the scene in Aliscans where William of Orange, sole survivor of a rout of Christians and disguised in Muslim armor, seeks admittance to Orange from his wife Guiborc. She is suspicious, and notices a band of pagans leading Christian captives over the field. They have just ravaged Toledo. She bids William prove his identity by rescuing them, he does so, and sends the freed Christians back to Orange while he pursues those Muslims who have fled.

330, THE TRAITOR MARQILLOS, AND BLANCA-FLOR. Class III. “Cuán traidor eres, Marquillos!”
Marquillos kills his lord and comes to his lady Blanca-Flor’s bed. She begs only one favor: that he not sleep with her till dawn. He, being a gentleman, agrees. When he falls asleep, Blanca-Flor stabs him.
Part of the May Colvin/Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight family [Child 4]. It is only included here because the names, though not the plot, seem to be borrowed from some version of The Dog of Montargis.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 3: Calaynos, Gayferos, and Melisendra

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.

The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.

Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.

Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

373, THE MOOR CALAYNOS. Class III. “Ya cabalga Calaynos”
Calaynos is in Sansueña [Saragossa], and woos the beautiful princess Sevilla, daughter of Almanzor. She will only give her love if he brings her the heads of Roldan, Reinaldos, and Oliveros. He sallies forth to Paris, and challenges the Paladins. Roldan will not deign to fight with him, so Valdovinos jousts, and is overthrown. Roldan, impressed, will joust now. He overthrows Calaynos, who explains why he has come. Roldan laughs, says his lady must not have loved him very much, and kills him.
Lockhart, Rodd, Gibson.

Duran mentions an Italian poem called La Gran Guerra e Rotta dello Scapigliato, which features a very similar story. In the Italian, the Moor is named Scapigliato, the lady is Princess Rosetta of Russia, and is daughter to Almanzor, cousin to Gradasso, and sister to Rovenza, so that it is revenge, and not a ploy to get rid of an unwanted suitor, which moves her to bid him kill Rinaldo and Orlando, out of vengeance. He defeats several Paladins before Rinaldo kills him.

BALLADS OF GAYFEROS AND MELISENDRA

374, GAYFEROS – I. Class III. “Estábase la Condesa”
The Countess combs her son Gayferos’ hair, and tells him that if he lives to be a knight he must avenge his father, who was slain by a traitor in order to marry her. The Count Galvan overhears, angrily denies it, and tells his men to take Gayferos into the woods, kill him, and bring back his heart and little finger. They cut the finger off, but let him go, and take back the heart of a deer. The lad escapes to his uncle.
Lockhart, Gibson.

375, GAYFEROS – II. Class III. “Vámonos, dijo, mi tio”
Gayferos tells his uncle [unnamed, but appears to be Beltran] what happened, they return to Paris, disguised as pilgrims, and come to the Countess’ house. Count Galvan has forbidden her to give food to pilgrims, but she does when they ask it for the love of Gayferos. Galvan arrives, rebukes the countess, and is slain by Gayferos, who reveals himself, to much rejoicing.
Gibson.

376, GAYFEROS –III. Class VIII. “No con los dados se gana”
Charlemagne rebukes Gayferos for playing dice with Oliveros instead of rescuing his wife from Sansueña.
No translation.

377, GAYFEROS – IV. Class III. “Asentado está Gayferos”
Gayferos and Guarinos are playing dice at court, when Charlemagne tells him that if he was as good a knight as he is a gambler, he might have rescued Melisendra, Gayferos’ wife and Charlemagne’s daughter, by now. Gayferos summons his uncle Roldan, his cousin Oliveros, Durandarte and the others to tell them that his wife has been captive for seven years, he searched three years and could find no trace. He has learned she is in Sansueña, but he’s loaned his horse and armor to Montesinos, who is at a tournament in Hungary. He borrows Roldan’s horse, armor and sword, takes his leave of his uncle Don Beltran, and sallies forth alone. At Sansueña, he learns that Melisendra has been adopted by King Almanzor, but refuses to marry any Moorish prince. He slips into the palace gardens, where Melisendra sees from a balcony that he is a knight-errant, and bids him take a message to Gayferos in France. He announces who he is, she races out of the palace to meet him. They are surprised by the Moors, but escape, much to Almanzor’s chagrin. Gayferos taunts him and gallops off with Melisendra. They ride all the way back to Paris, where there is much rejoicing.
Rodd, Gibson
In some of the oral ballads, Melisendra leaps out of the window into her lover’s arms.

378, GAYFEROS – V. By Miguel Sanchez, el Divino. Class VIII. “Oid, señor Don Gayferos”
The speaker addresses Gayferos, tells him that Melisendra, his wife and Charlemagne’s daughter, is in Sansueña. He advises him to stop playing at the tables [backgammon] and go rescue her, before she falls in love with a Moor.
No translation.

379, GAYFEROS – VI. Class VIII. “El cuerpo preso en Sansueña”
Melisendra is heartsick in Sansueña, sees a knight outside her window, bids him, if he ever goes to France, to tell Gayferos to come rescue her. It is Gayferos! He apologizes for his tardiness, and they flee to France.
Lockhart.

380, GAYFEROS – VII. Class VIII. “Cautiva, ausente y celosa”
Melisendra is in Sansueña, sighing, watching the road to France. She laments, wondering why Gayferos tarries.
No translation.

381, GAYFEROS – VIII. Class VIII. “Mil celosas fantasias”
Melisendra, in the tower of Sansueña, laments and weeps, wondering if Gayferos is faithful to her.
No translation.

Gayferos appears here and there in French chansons de geste as Gaifires, who seems to be based on Duke Waiofar [r. 745-768] of Aquitaine, who was the son of Hunaud I [r. 735-744, and may have been the inspiration for Rinaldo of Montalban], and possibly the father of Hunaud II. All of these dukes fought the Carolingian line to try and preserve the independence of Gascony and Aquitaine. There is much that is unknown about these dukes.  Some speculate that Hunaud II was the real leader of the Basque army at Roncesvalles, though there is no evidence for this.
The story of Melisendra is the one which Don Quixote’s nemesis Master Pedro performs as a puppet-play, and in which the Don is so caught up that he leaps to help Melisendra by attacking all the other puppets.

In some of the oral ballads, Melisendra becomes a very amorously inclined woman. She can’t sleep for love, and tells her nurse so, who bids her go to his bed. She goes through the streets, kills a watchman who sees her, slips into her lover’s bed, and makes him promise to marry her in the morning. He does so.

There is another ballad which is merely a description of Melisendra’s beauty as she walks home from the baths.

Keep reading

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 2: Ballads of Roland and Rinaldo

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.

The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.

Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.

Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines, given here in quotation marks.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

366, ROLDAN BANISHED – I. Anon. Class III. “Dia era de Sant Jorge”.
On Saint George’s Day, all Charlemagne’s vassals come to court except Reinaldos. Galalon therefore accuses him of treason. When Roldan protests against punishing a man who is not there to speak in his own defense, Charlemagne banishes him. He goes to Spain, and meets a Moor who guards the bridge to a kingdom. All knights who come must do battle. Roldan slays the Moor, switches armor with him, and sends the corpse to Paris with his page, with directions to pass it off as his own. There is much lamenting. Roldan rides to the Moorish king’s court, announces that Roldan is dead, and leads the Moors to attack Paris. Reinaldos meets Roldan in the battle and recognizes him. The two turn on the Moors, slay many, and rout the rest.
No translation.
This ballad is based on an incident in the Italian poem Leandra Innamorata, by Piero Durante da Gualdo. This poem’s most interesting feature is that it is written in sexta rima, not ottova rima.

367, ROLDAN BANISHED – II. Anon. Class III. “En Francia la noblecida”.
All Charlemagne’s vassals come to court except Reinaldos. Ganalon therefore accuses him of treason. When Roldan protests against punishing a man who is not there to speak in his own defense, and reminds Charles of the many services Reinlados has rendered, such as winning the lovely Saracen princess Beliserma for the emperor, and defeating Madama Ruanza, Charlemagne banishes him. He goes to Spain, and meets a Moor who guards the bridge to a kingdom. All knights who come must do battle. Roldan slays the Moor, switches armor with him, and sends the corpse to Paris with his page, with directions to pass it off as his own. There is much lamenting. Roldan rides to the Moorish king Marfin’s court, announces that Roldan is dead, and leads the Moors to attack Paris. Reinaldos meets Roldan in the battle and recognizes him. The two turn on the Moors, slay many, and rout the rest.
Rodd.

According to Duran, this second romance of Roldan’s banishment is a more literary and polished reworking of the first one.

368, REINALDOS AND THE PRINCESS CELIDONIA – III. Anon. Class V. “Cuando aquel claro lucero”.
On a beautiful day in May, I was walking in the woods, and heard a knight lamenting the ingratitude of Charlemagne, though he had obtained for him Belisandra, the daughter of King Trasiomar. He called on Roldan, Olivieros, Angelores, Angelinos el Infante, and Duke Estolfo of England. This knight, Reinaldos, decides to go fight the Moors, swings by Paris to pick up Roldan, and sallies forth. On Thursday, St. John’s Eve, they come a tournament held by King Agolandro [Agolante?] and see the beautiful Celidonia. Both love her, but Reinaldo claims her, since Roldan is married to Alda. Roldan consents, and they enter the tournament, and Reinaldos overthrows King Gargaray. After the battle, the Peers take lodging with Gargaray, pretending to be Pagans on a pilgrimage to the great temple of Mahomet. Letters arrive from Galalon, revealing their true identity. Gargaray with difficulty restrains his men from killing the Peers instantly, but bids them beware in the tourney. In the tourney the next day, Reinaldos kills Gargaray. He and Roldan rout the Moors and carry off Celidonia, who rejects her suitor and dies of grief. Reinaldos laments, and returns to France, vowing vengeance on Galalon.
Rodd.

Duran suspects that this romance was inspired by number 369, which is certainly the older of the two. It is apparently a Spanish invention, in its current state.

369, ROLDAN AND REINALDOS CONQUER THE KINGDOM OF THE MOOR ALIARDE. – IV. Class III. “Estábase Don Reinaldos”.
Reinaldos, in Paris, asks his cousin Malgesi who the most beautiful woman in the world is. Malgesi’s spirits tell him that it is the daughter of King Aliarde. Reinaldos leaves Paris, and goes to Aliarde, pretending that he has been banished and seeks a refuge. The princess falls for him, but he won’t take her favors unless she marries him and becomes a Christian. At this impasse, letters arrive from Galalon, revealing Reinaldos’ true intentions. Aliarde is about to hang him, when the princess intercedes. The king banishes him instead. Later, the princess having rejected all her suitors, Aliarde offers her as the prize of a tournament. Reinaldos and Roldan plan to enter, but letters from Galalon forewarn Aliarde of their coming. A Moorish champion rides out to meet them, and obtains their oath that they come in peace. At the tourney, the Peers fight their way to the princess’ pavilion, she swings to the croup, and they ride like mad for Paris, where they are met with rejoicing.
No translation.
Like 366 and 367, this ballad is based on an incident in the Italian poem Leandra Innamorata, by Piero Durante da Gualdo.

370, THE BATTLE BEWTEEN OLIVER AND MONTESINOS, FOR THE LOVE OF ALIARDA. – V. Class III. “En las salas de Paris”.
Oliveros teases Montesinos about his love for Aliarda, calling him a poor lover. Montesinos challenges him to a duel. They agree to meet alone. As Montesinos waits, Reinaldos chances upon him, and hears the story. Oliveros arrives and is outraged to find Montesinos has brought a friend. Montesinos explains, Reinaldos leaves, and the duel begins. Reinaldos brings the whole court to intervene, and the Peers are reconciled. Charlemagne marries Aliarda off to an honorable knight.
Rodd.

Why Duran put this ballad here instead of with the other ballads of Montesinos is a mystery, like many of his decisions in arranging his romancero.

371, THE CONQUEST OF THE EMPIRE OF TREBIZOND BY REINALDOS. – VI. Class III. “Ya que estaba Don Reinaldos”.
Charlemagne has thrown Reinaldos in prison. Roldan, armed with Durlindana and mounted on Briador, confronts him about this. Charlemagne justifies himself, saying Reinaldos is a highway robber. Roldan says this is only because his uncle is unjust in not giving him rich enough fiefs. The Emperor agrees to pardon Reinaldos, if he will go on foot to Jerusalem. Reinaldos sets off, and Roldan meets him three days journey out, offering to give him his armor and horse. Reinaldos insists on keeping his vow, and at last comes to the land of the Great Can [Khan]. The Can is going to war, and offers to make Reinaldos a general in his army which he intends to lead against France. Reinaldos refuses to fight against Christians, but agrees to fight the Emperor of Trabisonda, a tyrant and usurper. He conquers him and sends all the spoils to Charlemagne.
No translation.
The conquest of Trebisond is from a prose work written in French in the late 1400’s, which was turned into an Italian poem, La Trabisonda, by Francesco Tromba, in 1518, which in turn became a Spanish book, in prose, called Trapesonda, which was published as Part III of Renaldos de Montalban, Parts I and II of which were a translation of another Italian poem, El Innamoramento de Carlo Magno.

372, ROLDAN AND THE TROUBADOUR – VII. Class I. “Salió Roldan a cazar”.
Roldan goes out hunting, and by a tower hears a prisoner singing of his woes. Two old folksongs are incorporated into the ballad here, the first is about a bird that used to sing outside the dungeon window, until a hunter shot it. The second is about how all are happy in May, except the singer. Filled with pity, Roldan conquers the castle and sets the singer free.
No translation.

Keep reading