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

PROSE GARIN – ARSENAL

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

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

PROSE GARIN – PHILIPPE DE VIGNEULLES

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

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

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

PROSE GARIN – DAVID AUBERT

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

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

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

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The Legend of the Lorrainers – Dutch Version

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A battle is fought between the Greeks and the Scythians…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Origins and Influence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Legend of Anseis of Metz

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

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

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

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

Another prose rendering, Arsenal 3346.

LA CHANSON D’ANSEIS DE METZ

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

PART ONE – FIRST REDACTION – N

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

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

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

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

PART ONE – SECOND REDACTION – LSU

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

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

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

PART TWO

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

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

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

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

PART THREE

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

PROSE ANSEIS – ARSENAL

Follows the version in S. No significant changes.

YONNET DE MEZ – PHILIPPE DE VIGNEULLES

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

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

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

DAVID AUBERT

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

ORIGINS AND INFLUENCE

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

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

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

The Legend of Gerbert of Metz

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

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

The prose of Philippe de Vigneulles.

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

Another prose rendering, Arsenal 3346.

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

LA CHANSON DE GERBERT DE METZ

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

FIRST REDACTION

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

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

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

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

PART TWO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Variants

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

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

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

ARSENAL PROSE

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

DAVID AUBERT

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

PHILIPPE DE VIGNEULLES

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

ROMAN DER LORREINEN

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

Origins and Influence

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Legend of Charles Martel

The popular muse appears to have combined Charles the Hammer with his grandson Charles the Great. The Hammer has very few romances in which he even features and only one, to my knowledge, in which he is the protagonist. Though Pippin the Short is usually remembered as the father of Charlemagne, Pippin’s father is often forgotten, or replaced with such people as King Rother or Agnolo Michele. Even his great victory over the Muslim hordes at Tours left no trace in the oral tradition, although perhaps it lies beneath some of his grandson’s legendary victories.

There is, however, one romance in which the Hammer has a starring role: David Aubert’s Histoire de Charles Martel. Or at least, he stars in the first part. The bulk of the romance is devoted to the adventures of Girart of Roussillon, Orson of Beauvais, and the Lorrainers. The first part, however, features Charles as the protagonist. Some scholars think it is based on a lost chanson de geste. Be that as it may, the story is clearly very late, and is a typical late Carolingian cliché-fest. As David Aubert has never been printed, the following summary is based on the chapter titles as given in Paul Meyer’s introduction to Girart of Roussillon.

DAVID AUBERT’S LEGEND OF CHARLES MARTEL

Duke Gloriant of Berry lays siege to the city of Lusarne in Spain, which belongs to the Saracens. His eldest son, Huitasse [Eustace] de Berry captures Princess Ydorie of Lusarne from her guardian giant Orrible, and marries her. The Admiral [emir] is furious, takes Gloriant captive, and chases Huitasse away. He returns home to Bourges, whence his brother manages to expel him. As if this were not bad enough, King Theodorus of France [Theuderic IV] learns from his astrologers that the son of Huitasse, named Charles Martel, will be king after him, and plots to kill the lad. Fortunately, Gloriant escapes prison and returns home, where he manages to reconcile his sons. Little Charles is raised by Raimbaut the Marshall and his wife Hermentine, in Paris. He grows of an age to prove himself, and is a wonder. He participates in jousts at Paris, and wins the prize thereof and the love of King Theodorus’ daughter Marsibelle. The two are wed in Avignon. King Theodorus is furious, and imprisons the abbot of Saint-Denis and Count Galleran of Provence for allowing the wedding. He then sends Galleran to arrest his daughter and new son-in-law. Charles is gone, however. He has met Girart of Roussillon and they are adventuring together, en route to Constantinople, where they leave Marsibelle while they adventure. A long war ensues, involving King Agoulant of Jerusalem, king Menelaus of Dammarie, Emperor Belinas of Constantinople, a civil war in France between King Theodorus and Charles’ father Duke Huitasse of Berry, various minor knights and nobles, captivities, rescues, escapes, and all the usual paraphernalia, except, apparently, magic, which does not seem to feature until later in the romance. In the course of these wars, Charles impregnates Menelaus’ daughter Sagramoire. Fortunately for her, she soon marries Agoulant (who has killed Menelaus), and is able to pass off her son Archefer as Agoulant’s. Not till he is grown does she reveal the secret. Meanwhile, peace has been made in France, and King Theodorus has died, leaving the realm to his son Ydrich [Childerich III]. Archefer sees this as a sign that France is weak, and invades with a Saracen army. Charles conquers and converts him. The barons of France all agree to depose the incompetent Ydrich and make Charles king of France. After his coronation, Charles goes overseas with Archefer to convert Sagramoire. Unfortunately, they get caught up in another round of wars. Marsebille leads an army from France to Outremer, but Archefer and Sagramoire kill her. Charles captures his son, and sends him on a quest to Hell, from which, after many adventures, he returns alive, thanks to the enchanters Carniquant, whom he learned from, and Sorbrin, whom he killed and whose book he stole. Archefer presents his father with a great black horse, a gift from Lucifer himself.

Girart of Roussillon now travels to the Holy Sepulchre, and on his way home becomes engaged to Alexandrine, daughter of King Othon of Hungary.

Meanwhile, Duke Hillaire of Aquitaine, brother of Theodorus, wishes to be king of France, now that Ydrich has died. He invades, and very nearly succeeds in driving out Charles Martel, who is, however, saved by Girart. After Hillaire surrenders, Charles and Girart plan to marry the two daughters of King Othon, and the story segues into Girart of Roussillon, in a version which follows that of Wauquelin very closely.

ORIGINS OF THE LEGEND

In actual history, Charles Martel was the bastard son of Pepin II, Mayor of the Palace and de facto ruler of France. Charles was imprisoned by Pepin’s justly irritated wife Plectruda. When Pepin died in 715, Plectruda became the regent for her six-year-old grandson Theodebald. Charles, aged twenty-five, escaped from prison, a civil war broke out, the Saxons invaded, and King Dagobert III died, probably from assassination (715). The Franks opposed to Charles chose Chilperic II as their king, the son of Childeric I. Charles, while skirmishing with northern invaders, set up his own king: Clotair IV, whose exact relation to the Merovingians is unclear. Chilperic fled to Aquitaine, where Duke Eudes supported him – until Charles threatened to invade. Luckily for everyone, Clotair died, and Charles accepted Chilperic as king. Chilperic II died in 720, and the Franks elected Theuderic IV as king, the son of Dagobert III. The Moors crossed the Pyrenees that same year, and occupied the southern coast of France. Eudes recovered Toulouse in 721, but could not save Narbonne, and after several devastating raids thought it prudent to give his daughter Lampegia to the Muslim governor of Catalonia. Theuderic IV died in 727, and Charles never bothered replacing him. In 732, Abdelrahman, the Emir of Spain, attempted to conquer all of France, drove Eudes out of Aquitaine, but was defeated and slain by Eudes and Charles at the Battle of Tours [Poitiers]. In 735, Eudes died. Charles attempted to seize his territory, but was eventually obliged to leave Eudes’ son Hunauld in possession, though as his vassal. Charles next attempted conquering southwestern France, but failed to accomplish anything of value besides reclaiming Avignon for the Christians. Indeed, he often  seemed more interested in fighting Christians then the Saracens, and burned the Christian cities of Nîmes, Agde, and Beziers on his way back to the north to fight the Saxons. In 739, however he was recalled to the south by King Liutprand of Lombardy, in concert with whom he drove the Saracens (slightly) back to the west. Charles died in 741, and was succeeded as Mayor by his sons Carloman and Pepin III the Short. Faced with rebellions on every hand, including from their bastard brother Grifon, the joint Mayors raised Childeric III to the throne in 743, to help restore order. No one knows how Childeric was related to the Merovingian line, if he even really was. The rebellions were put down, Carloman retired to a monastery in 747, and Pepin, by permission of Pope Zacharias, sent Childeric to a monastery in 751 and crowned himself King. In 754 Pope Stephen II travelled to Paris to consecrate Pepin and his sons Carloman and Charles as patrici Romanorum, and forbade the people of France, under pain of excommunication, to ever take a king who was not of their family

As can be seen, there is only the vaguest resemblance between actual history and David Aubert’s romance.

Thus Charles Martel became King of France, and now let us turn to various knights who lived during his reign and what befell them, to wit:

Girart of Roussillon

Orson of Beauvais

Auberi le Bourguignon

The Legend of King Rother

The legend of King Rother is found in only one version, König Rother, a German poem in octosyllabic couplets from around 1160. Translated by Robert Lichtenstein, into octosyllabic couplets, in 1962, as volume 36 of the University of North Carolina Studies in the Germanic Languages and Literatures. Available surprisingly cheap on Amazon.

King Rother rules in Bari, and seeks a wife. His vassal, Lupold, suggests the princess of Constantinople, whose father kills all her suitors. Rother, intrigued by the challenge, sends a dozen ambassadors led by Lupold to ask her hand in marriage. He plays three melodies on his harp, by which the ambassadors may recognize him if anything goes wrong and he must come save them. Things do go wrong, and Constantine throws the ambassadors in the dungeon, only sparing their lives because they were his guests. A year and a day go by, and Rother asks Berchter, Lupold’s father, for advice. The barons agree that Rother will go in disguise as an exiled knight, alias Dieterich, pretending to be fleeing from Rother’s wrath. With “Dieterich” go Berchter, the giant Asprian and some of his giant vassals, including Widolt, and others. They leave Berchter’s son Amalger as regent.

They come to Constantinople, and are unimpressed by Constantine’s attempts to dazzle them. At dinner, Constantine allows his pet lion to roam the hall and eat whatever it wants. When it tries to eat Asprian’s food, he picks it up and dashes its brains out. Dietrich takes up residence in Constantinople, and gives gifts with largesse, impressing everyone except Constantine, including the Emperor’s wife and daughter. After a brawl at a second banquet, the love-stricken princess plots with her nurse Herlint how to see Dieterich. Herlint carries messages, and at last Dieterich makes two pairs of shoes, one silver and one gold, and sends both left shoes to the princess. When she sends for the right shoes, he refuses unless he can deliver them in person. The two meet at last in her chamber, and he puts her leg in his lap as he puts the shoes on [this was an old betrothal rite]. The princess is quite pleased at thus being tricked into engagement, especially when she learns that Dieterich is really Rother.

She tells her father that she wishes to do penance by serving the imprisoned ambassadors. He lets them out of prison for her to feed and clothe, and Dieterich offers himself as pledge for their return to prison. He reveals himself to them by his harping, and they dig a secret tunnel to the prison, to bring food in, and men out. Meanwhile, King Ymelot, the sultan of Babylon [Cairo], invades. Dieterich and his men ride out with Constantine. As the armies sleep in their camps before the battle Dieterich and the giants sneak into the enemy camp and kidnap Ymelot, and bring him before Constantine. They then ride as messengers to Constantinople, where they pretend that all is lost, and that the princess must board their boat and flee with them. Once all Rother’s men are aboard, he reveals his deception, and sails away. The Queen laughs, and returns home to await her husband.

Amalgar is dead, but Rother quickly restores order, weds his dear, and gets her with child. Constantine is furious when he gets home, and in the resulting uproar, Ymelot escapes. The Emperor hires a merchant to steal his daughter back. He sails to Italy, and pretends to have a magic stone which, if held by a queen on a boat, will cure any cripple she touches with it. A cripple is found, and the good-hearted queen goes to try the cure. (Rother is away in Germany on business). She is kidnapped. Rother returns home at the news, pardons the knights who were supposed to guard her, and summons his men. They arrive, incognito, in, just in time for a pre-wedding feast, for Ymelot has returned, and forced Constantine to give his daughter to his son Basilistium. They slip into the feast and crawl under the table, where Rother puts his ring on his bride’s finger. Basilistium notices the new ring, and sounds the alert. Rother reveals himself, and is sentenced to be hanged. His last request is to choose the place of his execution, and he chooses a place where his men are waiting in ambush. The pagans are routed, and Constantine is forgiven. Rother and his wife return home, where she gives birth to Pippin, who grows up to marry Bertha, and begets Charlemagne and Saint Gertrude. Rother reigns long and well, and at last retires to a monastery, leaving the empire to Pippin.

THE SOURCES OF THE LEGEND

Bride-stealings are a dime a dozen in folklore, and no specific source need be sought for this poem. It features perhaps the most positive portrayal of giants in medieval romance. Very rarely is any giant represented as Christian, brave, and intelligent. A whole country of such giants, as in this poem, is a marvel indeed.

The real Saint Gertrude of Nivelles (626-659) was the daughter of Pippin of Landen (580-640), who was Mayor of the Palace under Dagobert I and Sigebert III, and was the founder of the Carolingian line. Saint Gertrude is depicted with mice and rats at her feet, for reasons no one knows. Some say it is because mice were symbols of the soul in German paganism, and Saint Gertrude guides souls to Heaven. Others say it is because she is invoked against mice, rats, and other vermin. Still others say it is because she was so absorbed in prayer once that a mouse crawled all over her without her noticing. Her feast day is March 17. For more details, see The Catholic Encyclopedia, and Sabine Baring-Gould’s Lives of the Saints and Curious Myths of the Middle Ages.

Let thus much suffice for the legend of King Rother, and let us now speak of Charles the Hammer, who is more commonly said to be the grandfather of Charlemagne.

The Legend of Ottaviano del Lione

The legend of Ottaviano del Lione, son of Fioravante, is to be found in the following verisons:

I Reali di Francia: an Italian compilation of Carolingian legends, by Andrea da Barberino. Book III is devoted to the adventures of Ottaviano. An abridged translation by Max Wickert can be found on his website, here.

Fioravante: an Italian prose romance which covers the same ground as Books I, II, and III of the Reali, with some differences. Between 1315 and 1340. To be found in Rajna’s work I reali di Francia. [Volume I:] Ricerche intorno ai reali di Francia, seguite dal libro delle storie di Fioravante e dal cantare di Bovo d’Antona. An analysis comes first, and the Fioravante is stuck in at the end. Also can be found in Romanzi dei Reali di Francia, edited by Adelaide Mattaini.

I REALI DI FRANCIA

Gisberto of the Fierce Visage reigns in France, and his brother Ottaviano del Lione in Scondia. Ottaviano hears word that his father-in-law, Sultan Danebruno of Babylon [Cairo] is dead. He and his brother depart to claim his wife’s inheritance. Danebruno, it turns out, is not dead, though he is 150, and he leads his army against the Franks. Ottaviano kills him, and spends the next three years conquering the Orient. He besieges Babylon, but cannot take it for eighteen years. He goes to Jerusalem, meanwhile, and an angel tells him his line will do wonders for Christ. In this time, his wife Angaria gives birth to a son, named Bovetto . When Bovetto is fifteen and can bear arms, Ottaviano is poisoned by a woman who thought she was giving him a love philtre. After two more years, Bovetto takes Babyon [Cairo], upon which all the hosts of Pagandom unite to drive him out, and he retreats to Jerusalem, where he is besieged.

Gisberto, for his pride, is stricken with leprosy. He leaves his wife and son Michael in the care of the aging Riccieri, and wanders in Spain. Riccieri rescues Bovetto, who returns to Scondia to reign. Gisberto, after seven years in the woods, is cured, just in time to save Queen Sibilla of Articana from the besieging King Carianus of Lusintania [Portugal]. She converts and they are wed. King Libanorus leads an army to avenge his beheaded brother. The royal couple flee, but are betrayed at a castle near Saragossa. Luckily, the daughter of the castellan falls in love with Gisberto, and sends a message to Paris. An army arrives, led by the children of characters from Fioravante, and battle is joined outside the castle wherein Gisberto is held. In the heat of the fight, the castellan’s daughter releases Gisberto, who saves the day for the Christians. The castellan chooses execution over conversion, but his daughter Galiziana is baptized Diamia, and is wed to the squire who took the message.

Gisberto returns to his kingdom, and has peace for five years. But then, Alfideo of Milan, son of Durante, is attacked, and calls for aid. The fight is valiant, Bovetto distinguishes himself, but Gisberto is killed by a poisoned arrow. Alfideo, nonetheless, wins the war, and Gisberto’s son Michele is crowned.

Bovetto has a wife, Alibranda, daughter of Gulion of Bavaria. They have a son, Guido. Bovetto decides to conquer the English, who have overrun Britain and driven the Britons to Brittany. He does so, deciding to live in Antona [Southampton]. When Guido is sixteen, King Adramans of Frisia decides it is time to marry off his fifteen year old daughter Feliziana. He holds court, to which many come. She loves none of her suitors, however, but falls in love with Bovetto by report, notwithstanding religious differences. She sends a letter to him, and he comes and wins the tournament being held in Frisia. Her cousin walks in on the two of them kissing, and Bovetto kills him, and flees with Feliziana. Adramans pursues, and lays siege to London, before being defeated after a few months. Adramans disguises himself and wanders England, until he gains admittance before Bovetto, as a beggar, and stabs him to death. Bovetto kills him before he dies, and so Guido becomes king. Feliziana marries one of his noblemen.

Michael, not long after dies, leaving the Empire to his son Gostantino Agnolo. He has two sons, Lione and Pipino. Liking Pipino better, he leaves France to him. But at a feast one day, Rinieri of Maganza, who wanted to marry Feliziana, quarrels with Guido, who kills him. This is the origin of the feud between the Maganzans and Guido’s descendants, for Rinieri left two sons, Duodo and Alberigo. Guido lives long in exile, and, though his source does not says so, Andrea thinks this must be the reason he did not marry until his old age. Gostantino Agnolo dies, leaving the Empire to Lione, and France to Pipino. Pipino pardons the now over-sixty Guido, who marries Brandoria, daughter of King Ottone of Bordeaux.

 FIORAVANTE

Ottaviano makes war not in Egypt, but in Macedonia. He begot Bovetto by Argulia, who begot Guido d’Antono, who megot Buovo d’Antona, who begot the twins Guido and Sinibaldo, and King Guglielmo  of England. Guglielmo begot Bernard of Monchiere, and Duke Busone. Busone begot Girardo dalla Fratta, and Duke Mellone. Mellone begot Don Buoso and Don Chiaro. Girardo da Fratta begot Arnaldo of Berlanda, Rinieri of Gineva [father of Olivier and Alda], Mellone of Puglia, and Girardo of Vienna. This is the House of Monglane.

Bernardo of Monchiere begot Duodo of Nantoil [Doon de Nanteuil], Mellone [father of Orlando], Otto [father of Astolfo], Asmone of Dornona [Aymon], Buovo d’Agrismonte [father of Malagise and Viviano]. And Girardo da Rossiglione. Duodo begot Guarnieri di Nantoia, who begot Guido di Nantoia [Guy de Nanteuil]. Girardo da Rossiglione befot Anseigi il Bianco. This is the House of Chiaramonte.

Arnaldo da Berlanda begot Amerigo di Nerbona [Aymeri of Narbonne], who begot seven sons, [as this genealogy differs in nothing from the standard French version, we will omit it here, and give it in a future post dealing with William of Orange and his family].

Gisberto’s only adventure after his sojourn in the woods is killing a dragon en route to Paris. The war in Lombardy is not mentioned, and Bovetto’s conquest of England is disposed of in a sentence; it took fifteen years. Gisberto begot Agnolo Michele, who had no sons, so the kingdom passed to his seneschal’s son Pipino [Some MSS have Agnolo Michele begetting Pipino.]. Pipino begot three bastards: Lanfroi, Orderigi, and Berta, and one legitimate son, Charlemagne. Charlemagne begot King Aluigi the Pious, and Aluizia who married Elia [Elie of Saint-Giles] and bore him Aiolfo [Aiol].

THE SOURCES OF THE LEGEND

This is a purely literary invention, either by Andrea or some other writer, to fill the gap between Floovant and Bevis. It is the dullest section of the Reali.

Let thus much suffice for Ottaviano, and let us now speak of his namesake the Emperor Octavian.

Or else, let us speak of his backstory, and his father Floovant.