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The Anglo-Norman Otinel


ABBREVIATIONS: AND: The Anglo-Norman Dictionary; DMF: Dictionnaire du Moyen Français (1330–1500); DR: Duke Roland and Sir Otuel of Spain; Hassell: Hassell, Middle French Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases; OK: Otuel a Knight; OR: Otuel and Roland; Otinel: Anglo-Norman Otinel; Pseudo-Turpin: The Chronicle of Pseudo-Turpin, ed. and trans. Poole; RV: Roland and Vernagu; Song of Roland: The Song of Roland: An Analytical Edition, ed. and trans. Brault.

Chart: Comparative passages in the Anglo-Norman Otinel and the English Otuel Romances This chart is designed to aid comparisons among the romances and the chanson de geste as it survives in the Cologny manuscript (the text of Otinel presented in this volume). Each of the English romances is an adaptation of the French chanson. The Cologny Otinel is not, however, the exact version used by each English poet, nor is the Vatican City Otinel (ed. Guessard and Michelant). All surviving copies of Otinel are incomplete and exhibit much variation among themselves. The chanson de geste no doubt circulated in a range of versions, subject to scribal variation.

Otinel Otuel a Knight Otuel and Roland Duke Roland
line 25 49—54
lines 33—44 79—114 64—84 71—105
lines 59—99 129—76 88—93 121—68
lines 130—36 255—58 232—46
lines 165—67 151—59 273
lines 204—08 346—49 313—14
lines 327—28 349—50 397—98
lines 454—65 521—34 512—28 518—31
lines 636—42 658—63 703—17
lines 655—60 679—84 733—38
lines 696—702 725—32 721—23 784—92
lines 848—51 857—74 884—88 866—75
lines 1000—17 1017—40 1039—47 1009—27
lines 1043—47 1061—64 1058—74 1043—54
lines 1195—1234 1151—1212 1165—1203 1137—64
lines 1311—52 1231—82 1267—1350 1233—69
lines 1445—56 1314—28 1454—85 1315—26
lines 1836—69 1629—78 1616—45 1543—60
lines 1873—1901 1696—1734 1652—81 1565—80

6 duze pers. “Twelve peers.” According to legend, Charlemagne recognized twelve knights as his greatest, noblest warriors. See also the note to lines 630–34 below.

17 le jor . . . li innocent. Holy Innocents’ Day (December 28), the feast day commemorating Herod’s slaughter of the infants (Matthew 2:16). Two of the Middle English poets borrow this detail. Compare OK, line 55; and OR, line 48.

17–44 Seingnurs . . . . desk’al talun. These two laisses are in alexandrines, not decasyllabic lines. According to Hardman and Ailes, “It raises the possibility that there was second source manuscript, now lost, which had a version of the narrative in alexandrines” (Legend of Charlemagne, p. 365).

18 Paris en France. Although the poet identifies Paris as the location of Charlemagne’s court, this is historically inaccurate. The Roman town of Lutetia Parisiorum did not develop into the administrative center of France until the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Hugh Capet, count of Paris and duke of the Franks, was elected king of the Franks in 987, and subsequent Capetian kings expanded the city’s size and influence. During the Carolingian age, Aix-la-Chapelle, also called Aachen, was where Charlemagne lived and ruled. The Middle English Otuel romances also set this scene in or near Paris. In OK, Charlemagne appears to arrive from Saint-Denis to hold court in Paris (lines 57–58). In OR, the situation is the opposite: he appears to dwell in Paris and hold court in Saint-Denis (lines 50–51). In DR, Charlemagne dwells in Paris (line 39).
Clermunt. This place-name apparently refers to what is today Clermont-Ferrand in central France, one of the oldest of French cities. Beyond its rich Roman and Carolingian history, the city is famous as the starting point of the First Crusade (1095–99).

36 fluri gernun. “white moustache.” On Charles’ iconic white beard, see the explanatory note to DR, lines 80 and 82. See also RV, line 664; and OR, line 71.

68 Curçuse. Corçuse is Otuel’s famous sword. In OK, it is Corsouse; in OR, Cursins; in DR, Corsu. On named swords, see the note to lines 873–77 below.

124 ne valt une alie. “Une alie” is a sorb-apple, an acidic, gritty-textured fruit. The AND notes that it is “used to designate a worthless object.” Proverbial. See Hassell A78. See also line 1225.

129–31 Il te dorra . . . . e la navie. On the historically inaccurate notion that Charlemagne controlled Normandy and England, see Hardman and Ailes, who comment that “Charlemagne’s actual empire has long since disappeared from sight” (Legend of Charlemagne, p. 364). It is typical in chansons de geste (as in the Song of Roland) that Charlemagne is depicted as the ruler of all Christendom.

165–67 Une cité . . . . Atelie. Lombardy, a region in north Italy, figures prominently in many of the Otuel-cycle romances. Medieval Lombardy bordered on France. In The Siege of Milan, the central conflict between Saracens and Christians is over the city of Milan and the surrounding Lombard region. In Otinel, OK, OR, and DR, the Saracen Emperor Garcy has conquered many key Christian cities and made Lombardy his command center. The location of Atelie as a major Lombard city situated between two rivers makes it likely that the poet is referencing Pavia, the capital of Lombardy in the seventh and eighth centuries, which is located on the Ticino River three miles upstream from its confluence with the Po River. The Ticino (which the Otinel poet names “Ton River” in line 668) rises in the Swiss Alps, descends into Italy through Lake Maggiore, and is the largest left-bank tributary of the Po. It is over the Ton/Ticino that Charlemagne builds the bridge over which the French will pass to attack the city; see the notes to lines 664–68 and 674–80 below. Pavia is named only at line 578.

175 K’escufle n’i entre ne corneile ne pie. This line refers to birds (crows and magpies) that scavenge the dead left lying on a battlefield.

199 Charle de Seint-Denis. Saint-Denis, located near Paris, is the site of the Basilica of Saint-Denis, housing the relics of the martyred first bishop of Paris. It has long been connected to the royal line, and was the burial site for almost all French kings from the tenth century until the French Revolution. Charlemagne’s parents — Pepin le Bref and Bertrada of Laon — were interred in the basilica at Saint-Denis, the construction of which was begun by Pepin and completed by Charlemagne.

226 Seint-Omer. Saint-Omer is a place in northern France named for Saint Audomarus (Omer), a seventh-century bishop and founder of the monastery alluded to here. The OR and DR poets borrow this detail; see OR, line 239, and DR, line 329.

230 Durendal. Durendal is the name of Roland’s famous sword. In Rocamadour, France, one may see a chapel with a sword embedded in its outside wall. By local legend, this sword is Durendal. De Veyrières notes the claim (found in l’abbé Cheval’s 1862 guidebook, Guide du Pélerin à Roc-Amadour) that the real Durendal was stolen in 1183 when Henry II pillaged the chapel, and he includes a drawing of the current sword (“L’Épée de Roland,” pp. 139–41).

245 cel apostle ki que rent penant. The reference could be to any of the twelve disciples of Jesus who suffered martyrdom. A good guess would be Saint Peter, whose legend reported that he was crucified upside-down.

255–75 L’unze per . . . . feite d’un Almant. On the arming of Roland, compare OR, lines 280–324; the shield there depicts a “lyon . . . raumpande” (line 301). In DR, see lines 349–72, where it is merely “a schelde of faire coloure” (line 364).

259–60 Ço fu le healme . . . . il occist Brachant. Hardman and Ailes, Legend of Charlemagne, p. 357, note that the detail of Goliath’s helmet, previously won by Charlemagne, is perhaps the most interesting of several enhancements found in the Anglo-Norman scene of Roland’s arming, compared to the French version.

267–73 Peint a azur . . . . par grant estudiement. The cosmological grandeur of Roland’s shield adds an ambitious heroic touch to Otinel. On it are depicted the four winds and the heavens, with the twelve zodiacal signs, as well as earth and ocean, sky and sun. Symbolically, it sets Roland at the center of the universe. The description is reminiscent, on a lesser scale, of Aeneas’ massive shield forged for him by Vulcan (Virgil, Aeneid, 8.788-955; trans. Mandelbaum).

276 Puis li aportent un fort espé trenchant. Roland seems to receive here a second sword; see Hardman and Ailes, Legend of Charlemagne, p. 358.

280 Bruiant. In addition to Roland’s steed Bruiant, other warhorses named in Otinel include: Otinel’s Migrados (line 350) and Flori (line 1029); Clarel’s Turnevent (line 1279); Volant, gifted by Charlemagne to Naimes (lines 1518–19); and Oliver’s Fauvel (line 1605). Roland’s killing of Migrados and Otinel’s consequent killing of Bruiant begin their duel in an exceptionally brutal way (lines 403–19).

283 arpent. A French measure of length, equal to about 64 yards or 71.5 meters, largely archaic, but still used in Quebec.

327–63 Belisent apele . . . . n’en ert tenu citez. This scene of Otinel armed and tended to by three ladies is balanced later with one of Ogier healed by three ladies; see the note to lines 978–84 below.

369 Les duze pers. At this moment there can be only nine of the “twelve peers” with Charlemagne because Roland, Ogiers, and Naimes are in the meadow. This line shows how loosely the term duze pers is used. Compare the note to lines 630–34 below.

516–18 A ices parole . . . . descent. The dove that alights upon Otuel is the Holy Spirit (“Sainz Espiriz”), hence his immediate conversion. Compare OK, lines 585–88; OR, lines 568–73; and DR, lines 578–79.

528–29 Mahun . . . . Jovin le puant. Middle English romances often misrepresent Muslims as polytheists who worship idols, naming three or four gods as central to their fictionalized faith: here, Mahomet, Tervagant, Apolin, and Jove. See the discussion in the General Introduction, p. 16, and compare the notes to lines 1209–10, 1265–1305, and 1292–96 below.

551 un mul amblant. Here, Otinel rides an ambling mule. Belisant will later ride a swift Hungarian mule (lines 656–58).

555 Turpin de Reins. Archbishop Turpin is a key militant and ecclesiastical character in the Song of Roland and other Charlemagne romances. In Otinel, his role is limited to episcopal duties: performing Mass and baptizing the converted Otuel. In OR, lines 40–41, Turpin is named as an eyewitness chronicler of events, as in Pseudo-Turpin. On Turpin’s role in the Song of Roland, see the explanatory note to OR, line 2114.

562 Le nun li leissent. Otinel keeps his Saracen name despite the common practice of a convert adopting a Christian name when baptized (“christened”) — as instanced in the famous conversion of Saul to Paul (Acts 9:16–20, 13:9).

565 bele que la rose. Proverbial. See Hassell R69.

630–34 Li duze pier . . . . Daneis Ogiers. This passage offers the only instance in Otinel and the Middle English Otuel romances where there is an attempt to list the twelve peers in total. Here, they are: Roland, Oliver, Ansels, Girard, Engeler, Estult of Lengres, Turpin, Girier, Bertoloi, Otinel, Duke Naimes, and Ogier the Dane. The names vary in different accounts. As named by Charlemagne in his plaint for their deaths in the Song of Roland, they are Roland and Oliver, Gerin and Gerier, Oton and Berenger, Yvoire and Yvon, Engelier, Duke Samson and Anseis, and Gerard of Roussillon (Song of Roland, lines 2402–10). That list is confused, however, because Charlemagne also names Archbishop Turpin. See also the note to line 369 above.

645 Munmartre. Montmartre is a hill in what is now the northern part of Paris, and the location where Saint Denis was purportedly beheaded by Romans. According to legend, after he was decapitated, he picked up his head and carried it some distance away before he died on the site thereafter known as Saint-Denis. For more, see “St. Denis” in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

656–58 Belisent munte . . . . nef ne galie. Here, Belisant rides a swift Hungarian mule. Earlier, Otinel had ridden an ambling mule (line 551). The detail of Belesent riding a mule is retained in OR, lines 679–81, and DR, line 736.

664–68 Desuz Versels . . . . en la praerie. These lines describe the final stages of Charlemagne’s journey to his encampment outside Atelie. “Versels” is Vercelli, a city on the Po River around forty-five miles west-northwest of Pavia, in the province of Piedmont on the border with Lombardy. An ancient site, settled around 600 BCE, Vercelli became an independent commune in 1120, and in the years that followed was a member of the first and second Lombard leagues. The city housed the University of Pavia from 1228 to 1372. “Muntferant” suggests Casale Monferrato, which lies on the Po River between Vercelli and Pavia, around forty-five miles due west of Pavia, at the foot of the Monferrat Hills from which one can see across the Po Valley to Pavia (as specified in line 665). It was originally a Roman town. The “Ton” River is most likely the Ticino, on the left bank of which lies Pavia. “Atelie” almost definitely refers to Pavia. The historical Charlemagne laid siege to Pavia, then the Lombard capital, in the winter and spring of 773–74, after which he had himself crowned king of Pavia and its surrounding territories. “Munpoun” is likely a name made up by the poet: while Pavia itself is situated on a small hill, the plains surrounding Pavia are quite flat, with no significant heights between the Monferrat Hills and Pavia. The plain where the French army encamps is across the Ton/Ticino from Pavia, around five miles from the city. See the notes to lines 165–67 and 674–80; and compare OR, lines 688–93, and DR, lines 742–46.

674–80 Le fiz Pepin . . . . hum passer. The bridge that Charlemagne orders that his men build over the Ton/Ticino helps to locate Pavia as the site of Atelie. When Roland, Oliver, and Ogier cross the bridge to seek Saracens, they meet Clarel and his companions “a good league” from Atelie, that is, about three to four miles from the city. See the notes to lines 165–67 and 664–68 above. Compare OK, lines 697–706; OR, lines 697–702; and DR, lines 754–56.

691 une liue. The length of a league is more than three miles.

766 ne . . . valt un peis. Proverbial. See Hassell P218. The phrase reappears at line 769.

793 Naimant! Clarel’s war cry means “For Naimant!,” referring to his birth city. See lines 1142–43, where he shouts it again, riding next to the Turk Arapater from Floriant, who shouts “Floriant!”

807 Mellee. This is the name of Clarel’s sword. Compare OR, line 1240, where it is named “Melyn”; and DR, lines 847 and 1207, where it is named “Melle” and “Modlee.” On other named swords, see the note to lines 873–77 below.

814–17 Seingnurs . . . . Rollant la prent. The ritual of Clarel giving his sword to his captors as a guarantee of his safety is reproduced in OK. See the explanatory note to OK, line 834.

860 Munjoie. “Mountjoy,” the war cry of the French. See MED mon-joie (n.) and Godefroy, Dictionnaire de L’Ancienne Langue Française, 5:400 (“ancien cri de guerre des chevaliers français”; an ancient war cry of French knights). Compare DR, lines 881, 1067, and 1476.

863 Qui plus . . . neir que mure. “blacker than a mulberry.” Proverbial. See Hassell M246. The simile emphasizes the black skin of the pagan, perhaps an African.

873–77 Halteclere . . . . Curteine. Oliver’s sword is named “Halteclere,” and Ogier’s is “Curtein.” Like Roland’s Durendal and Otinel’s Corçuse, the mightiest warriors’ swords in chansons de geste often acquire names that associate them with their owners. Oliver’s sword is also named in OR, line 904 (“Haunchecler”), and in DR, line 914 (“Haunkclere”). Ogier’s sword is named Cursable in OR, line 900.

890 ne . . . valt une fie. Proverbial. The AND (fie1, sense 2) notes that a figurative meaning of a fig is “a worthless object.”

900–01 Alfamie . . . . li promist druerie. Oddly, this maiden (kinswoman of Alfage and seemingly also his beloved) bears the same name as Clarel’s sweetheart Alfamie (King Garsie’s daughter), an important female Saracen character in Otinel (see line 949).

919–22 Oi Curteine . . . . vus voil esprover. Ogier’s speech to his sword is reminiscent of Roland’s famous dying speech to Durendal in the Song of Roland, lines 2297–2354, which is adapted in the Middle English OR, lines 2326–49 (see explanatory note).

978–84 Ces treis puceles . . . . sil mettent culchier. The scene of Ogier with the three Saracen ladies, led by Alfamie, nicely balances the earlier scene of Otinel’s arming by three Christian ladies, led by Belisant (lines 327–63). Both episodes depict women softly touching a warrior’s flesh as they dress or undress him, in order to heal or protect him. These two scenes of a warrior among ladies provide brief relief from the all-male violence of war, and they also inject the text with moments of mild eroticism. Their balanced presence indicates the poet’s artfulness.

1012 Trop se volt faire sur tuz hummes loer! Otinel raises here the most common fault attributed to Roland: that he is too eager for fame and therefore prone to behave bravely but rashly, without careful deliberation. This paradoxical virtue-as-flaw is characteristically featured in legends about Roland. Here, he is faulted by Otinel for leading himself and his comrades Oliver and Ogier into danger unnecessarily. The accusation echoes Oliver’s criticism of Roland’s refusal to summon Charlemagne in the Song of Roland, especially at lines 1100–05, 1170–73, and 1715–18.

1056 Ne li valt mie . . . un denier. Proverbial. See Hassell D28.

1142–43 Naimant! . . . . Floriant! See the note to line 793 above.

1191 complie. “compline,” approximately 9 pm. This time reference uses a term from the seven liturgical hours — matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers, compline — which marked a day’s moments for regular prayer. See also lines 1564 and 1903.

1209–10 Fai dreit Mahun . . . . ta lei k’as guerpie. In Otinel, Clarel is consistently shown to be earnestly pious in his devotion to Mahomet; the Middle English poets all adhere to this depiction of Clarel’s character as well. Here, Clarel’s argument that Otinel should “make amends” with Mahomet illustrates how Western authors often painted the Muslim faith as an inverted mirror to Christianity: its basic tenets of belief were similar (repent and be forgiven), but their worship was idolatrous and misdirected toward false gods. The Otinel poet uses Clarel’s character as a devout Saracen as a foil to Otinel’s denunciation of pagan belief. See also the note to lines 1265–1305 below.

1225 ne valt un alie. See the note to line 124 above.

1265–305 El chief li lacent . . . . al quor dolent. This passage accentuates Clarel’s devotion to Mahomet and loyalty to Garsie, beginning with his arming — etched on his helmet is a trinity of his gods — and ending with his prayer. On the snake’s-head helmet as a sign of Clarel’s pagan “alterity,” see Hardman and Ailes, Legend of Charlemagne, pp. 358–59, and compare OR, lines 1225–36, and DR, lines 1201–04. See also the note to lines 1209–10 above.

1292–96 Mahumet levent . . . . n’ariere n’avant. This passage depicts the great lengths that the pagans go to in order to erect a statue of Mahomet to oversee the battle and bring victory. Corresponding scenes occur in OR, lines 1249–60, and DR, 1213–21. To a medieval Christian audience, the care taken to secure the statue with chains would have emphasized how inert, unstable, and false this idol was. In chansons de geste, Muslims, as Saracens, are typically depicted inaccurately as idol-worshipers. On Western Christian beliefs about Muslim idolatry, see Strickland, Saracens, Demons, and Jews, pp. 166–69; and the discussion in the General Introduction, p. 16.

1299 besant. A bezant is a Byzantine coin of gold or silver (DMF besant).

1307 l’eue del col. Charlemagne and his knights are at the fork or confluence of the Ticino and Po Rivers when Clarel shouts to them from across the Ticino.

1344 ne valt . . . oefs. Proverbial. See Hassell O17.

1363 Tartarun. Clarel is saying that upon his death Jesus was sent to Tartarus, the pit or abyss in which Greek mythology assigns the wicked to suffer eternal punishment. In 2 Peter 2:4, Tartarus appears as the place of punishment for the angels who joined Lucifer in rebelling against God.

1464 fiers que liuns. Proverbial. See Hassell L68.

1497 festu. “straw.” The AND (festu1, sense 2) notes that the word is used figuratively to connote a “worthless object.” See Hassell F59. The idiom reappears at lines 1588 and 1593.

1498 Dulcejoie. “Sweetjoy” is the name of King Garcy’s horn.

1503 Rollant le cunte e Oliver sun dru. These lines epitomize the legendary close friendship between Roland and Oliver, brothers-in-arms. While, in Otinel, Otinel and Clarel both have female love interests, and Ogier experiences some flirtation with Clarel’s paramour, the bond between Roland and Oliver exists mainly without women. In its brash, brave heroics, it stands for the masculine strength of Charlemagne’s army. The companionship of Roland and Oliver is central to the Song of Roland, as appears notably in Roland’s tearful eulogy upon Oliver’s death (lines 2021–30).

1554–64 De cheres armes . . . . devant midi sonant. This passage epitomizes the grim irony of war, common to all war literature, and yet notable amid a chanson de geste poet’s glorification of battle. The gallant Turk who wants the honor of defeating Roland has only just departed from his girlfriend, who lovingly and laughingly armed him, and he will be dead by noon.

1559 aligod. Instead of this otherwise unknown word, the Vatican City Otinel has the reading levrier (greyhound), adopted here for the translation.

1564 midi. “sext,” approximately noon, here sounded by the ringing of church bells. On time marked by the seven liturgical hours, see the note to line 1191 above.

1600 almuafle. The word here in the Vatican City Otinel is amirans (emir).

1612 Ne . . . la reinie d’un prunier. Proverbial. See Hassell P290.

1618 Berrvier. It seems odd that the Bavarians are named twice in this list (first at line 1616). This word may refer to occupants of another region, but no other solution presents itself. Compare, too, line 1799.

1644 Maneis. Inhabitants of Le Mans.

1660 Guineman. This French warrior is apparently not the more important Guinemant (line 1521), who remains alive for later action (lines 1807, 1810).

1671 Mallo! This is the war cry of the Bretons, meaning something like “Onward!” It is repeated at line 1763. For another example, see Godefroy, Dictionnaire de L’Ancienne Langue Française, 5:125. Compare Clarel’s war cry of “Naimant!” at lines 793 (see note above) and 1142.

1693–94 Forment le pleint . . . . del rei Corsabrez. That is, Count Eliens is the uncle of Troias. His revenge against King Corsabrez will occur a few lines later, when Amirez crushes one of his eyes and sends him as a captive to Charlemagne (lines 1728–45).

1763 Mallo! See the note to line 1671 above.

1836–69 Sore eust Ogier . . . . ferir chevaler. In this scene, Ogier frees his hands and feet, kills four guards with a woodblock and throws three others down from the tower, breaks his remaining chains, finds his horse and arms himself, and shouts out threats as he gallops off. For alternate scenarios, see OK, lines 1629–78; OR, lines 1616–36; and DR, lines 1543–60.

1870–907 Quant sunt . . . . paiens a traverser. The rhyme pattern indicates that these lines divide into six short laisses, even though the scribe has not marked them with large initials. The short laisses seem to bring a new tempo to the poem — either a quickening up or a quieting down — as it draws to a close.

1882–86 Pur Deu . . . . manger a burgeis. Otinel’s insult is certainly about the aristocratic class and refined tastes of the French. It may also contain an anti-Muslim slur about dietary laws that forbid pork and lard. On this passage, see Hardman and Ailes, Legend of Charlemagne, pp. 362–63. On the possibility of a proverbial or medical sense, compare Hassell L15 and AND lard.

1899–904 Li dui barun . . . . prise la cité. In this ending, unique to the Cologny manuscript, Garsie is captured and then the chanson is over. The ending of the Cologny Otinel is more abrupt than that in the Vatican City version, which extends the ending to include another eighty lines. There, the following events occur in rapid succession: Ogier kills a fleeing pagan; Garcy dies in prison; the French capture Atelie and slaughter its inhabitants; Otinel and Belisant wed; Otinel takes control of the country surrounding Atelie; Charlemagne returns to Paris; Otinel protects his kingdom and exalts Holy Christianity to the end of his days. On the different endings, see Hardman and Ailes, Legend of Charlemagne, pp. 363–64. At the end of OK, Garcy does homage to Charles, without conversion being specified. At the end of OR, Garcy is taken to Paris, converts to Christianity, and is blessed by Turpin. At the end of DR, Otuel weds Belesent and becomes a peer.

1903 vespre. “vespers,” approximately 6 pm. On time marked by the seven liturgical hours, see the note to line 1191 above.

1905–07 Quant l’um . . . . a traverser. The final three lines of Otinel offer an epitaph for the titular Saracen hero of the chanson de geste. Readers are asked to pray for Otinel’s soul; he should be remembered as both messenger and warrior for Christians. The term “messagier” seems now to rise to a new meaning: cross-cultural ambassador. Otinel brought a message to Charlemagne’s court, where he received a message (God’s Word), and then he heroically delivered it back, with holy vengeance, to the community that initially sent him.





ABBREVIATIONS: MS: Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer Cod. Bodmer 168, fols. 211ra–22rb; OF: Old French.

121 Rucie. MS: bucie.

138 tant. MS: tarat.

157 duc. MS: dur.

252 Fait Oliver Mult parlez haltement. MS: laisse opening not marked.

309 Oriant. MS: Becliant.

312 cunterai. MS: curterai.

382 mult. MS: ment.

398 ki les. MS: kis.

411 fuerre. MS: suerre.

639 Flamenes. MS: Framenes.

652 Lumbardie. MS: lurbardie.

662 compaingnie. MS: compaingine (second i dotted).

664 Versels. MS: Vergels.

683 duze. MS: virze.

691 Defors Hatillie a une liue grant. MS: laisse opening not marked.

700 Forz. MS: Fozz.

727 vent. MS: veno.

770 penun. MS: penuer.

840 juste. MS: iute.

848 est. MS: omitted. An abbreviation of unknown meaning occurs here.

849 al rei. MS: omitted.

852 Sire. This word is marked with a large initial, but the rhyme matches the preceding laisse.

862 Rollant feri un paien Berruier. MS: laisse opening not marked.

879 Atant est venu Carmel de Tabarie. MS: laisse opening not marked.

892–93 ki ke peist u rie . . . . ki ke peist u ki rie. The similarity of these lines could be a copying error.

918 Lores. MS: Loes.

958 en estur. MS: en’ estur (apostrophe-type mark inserted).

996 enhacier. MS: superscript r above ha.

1009 prover. MS: proue.

1018 Nostre emperere a fait un corn soner. A large colored initial marks this line as the opening of a new laisse, even though the rhymes match the preceding laisse. The initial indicates a transition in narrative action, so the manuscript’s laisse break is retained.

1066 escuz. MS: escur.

1074 A batu la . . . . MS: words obscured by fold; this laisse is not found in the OF Otinel.

1077 sun. MS: su.

1135 Arepater. MS: Arepairer.

1217 Satanie. MS: Gatanie.

1227 Dist li convers Diable sunt en tei. MS: laisse opening not marked.

1242 Belisent. MS: Letter B obscured by fold; the lower portions of other letters are visible.

1314 dit. MS: eit.

1368 Ja ne. MS: words obscured by fold; compare OF Otinel, line 1405.

1397 purpensez. MS: purpensez (ur abbreviated), with abbreviation for ur repeated in the right margin.

1409 espee. MS: letters pe obscured by fold.

1412 Otinel broche sun arabi curant. MS: laisse opening not marked.

1431 Curçuse. MS: curcecesu.

1451 blanchoier. MS: word obscured by fold; compare OF Otinel, line 1489.

1462 iriez. MS: barnez.

1511 Le fiz Pepin a ordané sa gent. MS: laisse opening not marked.

1536 esmuevent serré. MS: words obscured by fold; compare OF Otinel, line 1613.

1568 se. MS: ge.

1577 le paien. MS: words obscured by fold; for other words in this line, the upper halves of the letters are visible. Compare OF Otinel, line 1657.

1579 de eus. MS: deeus (second e marked for deletion).

1604 L’almuafle se leisse a Oliver. MS: laisse opening not marked.

1610 par. MS: par with letter p canceled.

1619 enseignes-bessier. MS: words obscured by fold; compare OF Otinel, line 1696.

1621 vet. MS: vec.

1629 Quant ces fiers osz se furent a justees. MS: laisse opening not marked.

1662 Munjoie escrie Ore a . . . . MS: words obscured by fold; this laisse is not found in the OF Otinel.

1704 Paiens complissent si est . . . tez. MS: words obscured by fold; this laisse is not found in the OF Otinel.

1734 entrez. MS: entez.

1768 treis. MS: treis (s superscript) or treier.

1799 Beiver. MS: letters obscured by tear; compare OF Otinel, line 1819.

1830 n’oreit Deu. MS: words obscured by fold; compare OF Otinel, line 1859.

1876 Otes l’enchasce par un grant valee. MS: laisse opening not marked.

1882 Pur Deu dit il dite mei sire reis. MS: laisse opening not marked.

1899 Li dui barun ont le rei mené. MS: laisse opening not marked.

1905 Quant l’um orra de itel messagier. MS: laisse opening not marked.







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Ki volt oir chançun de beau semblant
Dunt bien sunt fait les vers per consonant,
Ore laist la noise si se treie avant!
Dirum la flur de la geste vallant
Del fiz Pepin, le noble combatant,
Des duze pers qui s’entramerent tant
K’unc ne severent, tresk’a un jor pesant
Ke Guenes les trai od la salvage gent.
Un jor mururent vint millier e set cent
De cel barnage, dunt Charles ot doel grant.
Cil jugleor n’en dient tant ne quant;
Tuit l’ont leissé k’il ne sevent nient
Li plusur danger e de l’autri chantant —
Les paroles menues qu’il vont controvant!
Mes il ne sevent une le grant desturbement
K’avint a Charlemaine si subitement.

Seingnurs, ço fu le jor dunt li innocent sunt
A Paris en France: Charles de Clermunt
U tint sa curt plenere; Li duze per i sunt.
Mult par est la joie grant que li baruns i funt.
Un plai ont establi k’en Espanie irunt,
Sur le rei Marsilie le serement i funt.
Ço ert aprés averil, quant herbe fresche averunt.
Einz que finent lur parole, teles noveles orunt
Dunt vint mil chevaler de noz franceis murunt,
Si Dampnedeu n’en pense, qui sustent tut le mund!

Un Sarazin d’Espanie, qui Otuel a nun —
Messager Garsie, bien resemble barun —
Parmi Paris chevalche a corte d’espurun.
Quant vient al paleis, si descent al perun,
Les desgrez monte, si demande Charlun.
Ogier encontre e Galter e Naimun.
“Seignur,” fait li paen, “kar me mustrez Charlun.
Messager sui un rei qui nel aime un butun.”
Premer ja parle Galter, cil de Valun:
“Vei le tu la, u set, a cel fluri gernun,
Celui o la grant barbe a cel veir peliçun.
Ço est Rolland, si nies el vermeil ciclatun,
De l’altre part, veez u siet son compaignun,
Le gentil conte qui Oliver a nun.
Ço sunt li duze pier qui lur sunt envirun.”
“Mahun,” fait li paen, “ore conus jo Charlun.
Mal feue male flambe li arde le mentun
Ke li fende le piz desk’al talun!”

Li Sarazin en vient devant le rei.
“Charles,” feit il, “ore entent vers mei.
Messager sui, ço quid, al meillur rei
K’unques feust en la paiene lei.
Ne te salu — k’a dreit faire nel dei —
Forfait en es vers Mahumet e vers mei.
Cil te confunde, en la ki lei jo crei,
E tuz ces altres qui sunt envirun tei.
E ton nevu Rollant, que jo ci vei,
Si uncore un jor le truis en turnei,
Ke mun destrer puisse acurser vers sei,
De m’espee la quid faire un espei
Parmi le cors — mult ert fort si nel plei!”
Rollant se rit si reguarde le rei.

“Sarazin frere,” fet Rollant la losez,
“Tu poez bien dire tutes tes volentez —
Ja pur Franceis ne serras atuchez.”
“Nun,” ço dit Charles, “puiske vus le volez,
De meie part, est il bien afiez
De hui en cest jor desk’a uit jurs passez.”
Dist Otuel, “De folie parlez!
Ne redut humme qui de mere seit nez
Tant cum averai cest espee a mun leez —
Ço est Curçuse, dunt jo sui adubez.
Nen at mie uncore nef meis passez
K’a mil Franceis en ai les chefs colpez.”
“U fu ço, frere?” fet Charles li remembrez.
Dit Otinel, “Jo vus dirra assez.
Ore at uit meis, el nefme sui entrez;
Destruite iert Romme, ta vaillante citez,
De laquele estes emperere clamez.
Li reis Garsie la prist e sis barnez,
Vint mil hummes tut acunte numbrez;
Hummes que femmes uncore plus assez
I avium mort — n’est un eschapez!
E jo i feri tant de m’espee delez
Ke uit jurs pleners or les poinz enflez.”
Dient Franceis, “Mar fustes unques nez!”
Estult de Lengres est en piez levez,
Tint un bastun que devant fu quarrez.
Ja le ferist, ço savum nus assez,
Meis li nies Charles en encontre alez,
Se li a dit, “Sire Estult, reposez.
Pur meie amur, si de rien m’amez,
Kar li paen est de mei afiez,
Laissez lui dire tutes ses volentez.”
Un chevaler i sist que fu mal senez —
Provencel iert de Seint-Gile fu nez.
Al messager est derere alez,
Amdui ses puinz li at el chief mellez,
Trait le a terre, kar cil ne s’est gardez.
Meis Otinel est mult tost relevez,
Trait Curçuse, dunt le punz fu dorrez.
Ferir le veit, ne s’est pas ubliez:
K’as piez le rei en est le chef colpez.
Franceis s’escrient, “Barun, kar le pernez!”
Otinel s’est a une part turnez,
Les oilz roille, les gernuns a levez,
Liun resemble qui seit enchaenez.
En halt s’escrie, “Baruns, ne vus remuez!
Kar par icel Dex a qui me sui donez,
Ja murent set cenz, si vus croulez!”
L’emperere s’en est en piez levez,
Si lui a dit, “L’espee me donez.”
Dit li paien, “De folie parlez!”
Dunc dist Rodlant, “A mei la rendez.
Assez l’averez quant vus departirez.”
Dit Otinel, “Beal sire, ore la tenez,
Mes mult vus pri ke bien la me guardez.
Ne la doreie pur set de vos citez —
Uncore, en ert de celui vostre chief colpez!”
Dist Rodlant, “Par fei, trop vus avancez!
Vostre message dites, puis vus en alez!”
“Jo volenters,” dist il. “Ore escutez.”

“Charles,” feit il, “jo ne te celerai mie.
Messager sui l’emperur Garsie,
Ki tient Espanie, Alixandre, e Rucie,
Tyre e Sydonie, Perse e Barbarie.
Par mei, te mande: leisse cristienie —
Cristienté ne valt une alie!
Mes serf Mahun qui tut le munde guie;
Ki si ne creit il feit grant folie.
Deviene sis, tu e ta compaignie,
Puis si t’en vien al riche rei Garsie.
Il te dorra aver et manantie,
Ensurketut, te larra Normendie,
E d’Engleterre les porz e la navie.
A tun nevu Rodlant durra Russie,
E Oliver prenge Esclavunie.
Mes duce France ne vus larra il mie —
Il at doné Florian de Sulie,
Fiz a cel rei Russet de Barbarie.
N’at plus prodom en tute paienie,
Ne que tant ert los de chevalerie,
Ne qui meuz ferge od espee furbie.
Cil tendra France qui ce en sa baillie.”
Dist l’emperere, “Issi n’ert il mie!
K’en dite vus, ma meisne nurie?”
Tut le barnage a une voiz escrie:
“Dreiz emperere, nus nel suffrum mie
Que ja paien eient France en baillie.
Mes, fai venir ta grant chevalerie,
Puis, se tu vols, deske la nus guie
Tant que verrum la pute gent haie!
S’en bataille trovum le rei Garsie,
Ja de la teste n’en portera il mie!”
Dist Otinel, “Ore oi grant briconie —
Tel manace ore l’emperur Garsie,
K’il matera e toldra la vie!
Quant il verra sa grant chevalerie,
Li plus hardi n’avera talent qu’il rie;
Meuz voldrent estre de la Normendie!”
Ço dist duc Naimes a la barbe florie:
“Si Charles mande sa grant chevalerie,
U trovera il cel riche rei Garsie?
Combaterent sei a sa grant compaingnie.”
Dist Otinel, “Ore oi grant briconie!
Ja sunt il par set feiz set cenz mile,
As blancs halbercs as enseingnes de sire,
K’unques ne furrent pur pour de lur vie.
Une cité ont fete en Lumbardie,
Entre dous ewes l’ont fermé e bastie.
Paiene gent l’apelent Atelie,
Deu ne fist humme qui lur tolsist essie,
Ne lur pescher ne lur gaanerie.
Si Charles i venist od la barbe flurie,
La conuistrum ki avera amie,
Ki meuz fer, ni d’espee furbie.
Meis, dan vilein, ni venez vus mie —
Par mun conseil, garderez Paris la vile,
K’escufle n’i entre ne corneile ne pie,
Kar par vus n’ert mes faite chevalerie!”
Tel vergoine at li duc ne set qu’il die.

Li duc Rodlant s’est en piez levez,
Mal talent at, a poi n’est forsenez.
Vers le paen s’en est treis pas alez,
Si li a dit, “Culvert desmesurez,
Mult par casur e prisez e vantez,
De ta parole devant Franceis loez.
Mes, par celui k’en croiz fu penez,
Ja murriez ne fuissez afiez.
Mes s’en bataille puissez ester encontrez,
Tel ce dorrai de m’espee delez
Ja puis de tei n’ert franc humme encombrez!”
Dit Otinel, “Ja le savum assez,
Bataille averas si ferre l’osez —
Demain matin vus sumuns en ces prez!”
E dit Rodlunt, “Kar le m’aseurez.”
Fet le paen, “La meie fei tenez,
E ma creance, e tutes mes lealtez,
Par ki remaine seit cuard pruvez,
L’espurun lur seit des piez colpez;
James en curt ne seit mes honurez.”
Lur feiz en donent ore sunt asseurez.

Ço dist li reis Charle de Seint-Denis:
“Sarazin, frere, par la lei dunc tu vis,
De quel parage es tu en tun pais?
Cum as a nun? Par ta lei, kar me dis.”
“Otinel, sire,” ço dist li Sarazins,
“Fiz sui al rei Galien al fier vis —
Plus a mort hummes, e de ses mains occis,
K’um ne trouvereit en trestut cest pais.
Li reis Garsie est mis germeins cusins;
Mis uncle fu Fernagu li hardis,
Icil de Nazre que Rodlant m’at occis.
Demain en ert en fier calenge mis.”
E dit li reis, “Tu es assez gentilz!
Mar, fu tis cors, que baptesme n’at pris.”

Li reis apele sun chamberlene Renier:
“Venez avant. Pernez cest messager,
S’il me menez a la maisun Garner.
Dunez al hoste cenz souz pur son manger,
E altre tant donez pur son destrier.”
Puis si apele le vielz chanu Richer,
Galter de Liuns, et li Deneis Oger.
“Pernez,” feit il, “garde del chevaler,
S’il servez bien de ço qu’il at mester.”
Cele nuit l’unt leissé issi ester
Jesk’al demein. Que li vir parut cler,
Charles se lieve si fait Rodlant mander.
En la chapele sunt alé pur urer.
La messe chante l’abés de Seint-Omer.
Un hanap d’or fait li reis aporter,
De paresins si l’at bien fet cumbler.
Offrende sunt il e li duze pier.
Rodlant offri Durendal al brant cler;
Pur rancum i feit set mari doner.
Apris la messe funt les ures chanter.
Del mustier eissent, puis si vont esgarder
Le Sarazin qui vient al rei parler.

Li Sarazin vient orguillusement.
Le rei apele, si li dit fierment.
“Charles,” fait il, “u est ore Rodlant,
Li vostre nies que vus paramez tant,
Par ki Franceis se vont asseurant?
De fei menti l’apel cum recreant
Se il ne tient vers mei mun covenant,
Ke et feimes tute la curt veant!”
A ces paroles se treit li quons avant,
Trestut irré e plein de maltalant:
“Par cel apostle ki que rent penant,
Jo ne larreie pur nul humme vivant
Ke jo en cui ne te rende teisant,
Mat u vencu, mort u recreant.”
Dist Otinel, “Feites dunc itant!
Pernez vos armes par itel covenant;
Si jo vus fail, pendez moi! Jo’l vus grant.”

Fait Oliver, “Mult parlez haltement,
Ne vos paroles n’abeissent nient —
Grant merveil est si bien vus avient!”
L’unze per en ont amené Rodlant.
El dos li vestent un halberc jacerant;
Grosse est la maille, derere e devant.
El chief li lacent un vert healme luisant.
Ço fu le healme Golias le jehant;
Charles le prist quant il occist Brachant.
Puis li aportent Durendal le trenchant.
Ja del espee, n’estoet dire neant;
Bien le conuissent, li petit e li grant —
Ke n’a si bone, jesk’en Orient.
Li quons la ceint, qui l’a paraimé tant.
El col li pendent un fort escu pesant,
Peint a azur, a jalne, a orpiment.
Envirum l’urle current li quatre vent,
Li duze signe, e li meis ensement,
Sicum chascun vers altre se contient.
E del abisme i est le fundement,
E ciel e terre fait par compassement,
E le soleil mis par grant estudiement.
La guige fu d’un paile Escarimant,
E la fuille est feite d’un Almant.
Puis li aportent un fort espé trenchant,
Sa lance redde, e sun gunfanun gent
Vermaile e inde tresk’a poinz li tent.
Li quons Gerins li chalce ignelement.
Enmi la place li meine l’um Bruiant,
Ki plus tost vait que quarel ne destent;
Deus ne fist beste ki tant voist esmuvant
K’a lui se tenist a dreit curs un arpent!
La sele fu de cristal e d’argent,
E la suzcele d’un paile d’Orient,
Li estriu d’or overé menuement.
Li quons i munte tant ascemeement
K’il n’astriu ne arçun ne se prent.
Fist un esleis veant tute la gent,
Si s’en returne vers Charle, riant.
“Sire,” fait il, “le congé vus demant.
Si li paen viene, par mien escient
Ja de mort vers moi n’avera garant!”
“Nies,” dit li reis, “a celui te comant
Ki le ciel fist e tut le mund si grant.”
Leve sa main si a seinié Rollant.
Li quons s’en vait as espuruns fichant.
Aprés lui vunt puceles e enfant,
Ki tuit li dient: “A Jhesu te comant.
Seinte Marie te seit de mort garant!”
Li unze per muntent de meintenant;
Entre dous ewes ont mené Rodlant:
L’une est Seine, l’altre Marne la grant.
Devant le rei vint le messager estant.
L’emperere apele fierement:
“Charle,” fait il, “un halberc te demant,
Escu e healme, e une espee trenchant;
Meis un destrer ai jo, bon e currant,
N’en a meillur desk’en Oriant,
E de m’espee taille bien le trenchant.
De sur ma fei, te promet lealment
A me ure de prime cunterai Rollant!”
Charles l’oi, a poi dire ne fent.
“Paien,” dit il, “Deu del ciel t’acravent,
Kar mult m’as feit curecé e dolent.”
Le reis reguarde vers sa fille Belisent,
Que de la chambre eisseit el pavement.
Tut le paleis de sa bealté resplent.
Li reis l’apele, si la ceine de sun guant.
“Fille,” fait il, “cest paien te comant.
Armez le bien, tost e ignelement.
Bataille a prise a mun nevu Rodlant.
Ke pur les armes n’en eit decheement.”
“Sire,” dit ele, “tut a vostre talent,
Li Sarazin iert armé gentement;
Ja par les armes n’i perdera nient.”

Belisent apele Flandrine de Muntbel,
E la pucele Rosette de Runel.
Ces treis danceles ameinent Otinel.
Al dos li vestent le halberc le rei Samuel,
E la ventaille a un gentil fresel —
Celui li ferme Flandrine de Muntbel.
El chief li lacent le healme Galatiel,
Feit a quarters a flurs e aanael,
E li nasel enfurmé d’un oisel.
La fille Charle, qui out le cors danzel,
Li ceint l’espee al fort rei Akael.
Ço est Curçuse, taillant cum cutel;
Ceste muverat encui a Rollant le cervel —
Dunt al rei Charle n’en ert guerel bel!
El col li pendent un fort escu novel,
Blanc cum neif desuz a un listel,
La bucle est d’or, e d’argent li clavel.
Fer i out bon e gunfanun novel
Blanc cum flur, peint i out un oisel;
Entre ses piez portout un draguncel,
Tresk’as poinz li penecel.
Uns esperuns qui valent un chastel
Li at chalce Rosette de Rinel.
La seele est mise en Migrados l’ignel,
Qui plus tost curt ke ne destent quarel.
Li bon destrier a veu le danzel;
Henist e grate — bien conuist Otinel.
Cil li salt sure, ki plus set de cenbel
E de bataille que fevere de martel!

Li Sarazin est el destrer muntez,
Fait un eslais si s’en est returnez.
Vers Belisent s’en est tut dreit alez.
“Pucele gente, mult sui bien adubez.
Se truis Rollant, morz est u afolez.”
Dist la pucele, “De Durendal vus gardez!
Si de Curçuse bien ne vus defendez,
Ja par vus meis n’en ert tenu citez.”
A icel mot, li messager est turnez.
Ogier l’ameine, li Daneis alosez,
E li duc Naimes est ovec eus alé.
Entre dous ewes l’ont mené es prez.
A haltes fenestres est li reis alez,
Les duze pers at a sei apelez.
“Seingnurs,” fait il, “od mei vus venez;
Faites Franceis tuz eissir des prez.”
Il si funt a eus dous les ont abandunez.
Charle escrie, “Des ore vus combatez!”
Dist Otinel, “Jo sui tut aprestez!”

Rodlant a dit al paen mescreant:
“Jo te defi des ci en avant.”
Dist li paen, “E jo tei ensement.
Bien vus guardez, kar jo ne t’aim nient:
La mort mun uncle Fernagu vus demant!”
Rollant lait curré le bon destrer Bruiant,
Otinel Migrados le bien curant:
Des esperuns les destre mult forment.
Entre le bruit e lesort ele vent,
Li prez encroule e la terre ensement.
Les hantes brandient e beissent forment,
Li gunfanun ventelent vers le vent.
Granz colps se donent en lur escuz devant;
Trenchent les fuz e les quirs ensement,
Meis li halberc sunt serré e tenant.
Maille ni false, ne clavel ni destent.
Sur les peitrines plient li fer trenchant.
Les hanstes brisent amdus continuiement.
Ultre s’en passent li chevaler vallant,
Que l’un ne l’altre ni pert nient.
“Deu,” dist li reis, “or vei merveille grant
Quant cist paien s’est tenu vers Rodlant.”
Dit Belisent, “Bon sunt mi garnement,
E cil ki les porte n’est pas cuard ne lent.”
Rodlant a treit Durendal le trenchant,
Fiert Otinel sur le healme luisant
Que flurs e pieres cheent avalant,
E sun nasel lui a toleit devant.
A l’altre colp fiert le destrer currant,
Le chief li trenche del col tut rundement.
Li paen, quant sun cheval li ment,
Dis dous moz: “Par Mahumet, Rollant,
Vus avez feit vilainie mult grant
Que mun destrier m’avez mort pur nient!
Que demandiez a mun bon auferant,
Mes ja le vostre ne s’en irra gabant!”
Del fuerre sacke Cureçuse la grant,
L’escu enbrace e feit un salt avant;
Si fiert Rollant sur le healme luisant
Ke li nasel se vait tut avalant.
Li colp glaceie sur l’arçun devant,
Trenche le fust e le feutre ensement;
Par les espaules a trenché le Bruiant,
Desk’en la terre feit culer le brant.
En halt s’escrie, “Ço n’est pas colp de nisant!”
“Deu,” dist li reis, “cum ço culp fu pesant!
Sainte Marie, guardez mei Rollant!”
Se li quons chiet, ne mes merveil nient.
Il tient l’espee si estreint durement,
Fiert le paen sur le healme que resplent
K’un quartier en contreval descent;
Trenche les mailles del halberc jacerant,
E del oreille une partie en prent,
Sun bon escu desk’en la bucle fent.
La l’éust mort, vencu, u recreant,
Mes Otinel at hardement mult grant.
De Cureçuse l’acuilt durement,
E Rodlant lui, od l’espee trenchant.
De Durendal, le fiert menuement.
Granz colps s’entredonent e derere e devant.
Vers les espees, ne valt le halberc nient —
Des mailles luist tut li pre e resplent!
Dist Belisent, “Ore fierent gentement.
Ceste bataille ne dura mie lungement
Ke li vassal sunt de grant hardement.
Mult trenche bien Durendal la Rodlant,
Meis Cureçuse ne li deit nient!”
“Deus,” dist li reis, “cum le cuer me ment!”
En cruiz se jette a Deu vers orient,
Une preiere at feit mult gentement:
“Deus, ki es sire e rei sur tute gent,
Tu me garis mun chier nevu Rodlant,
E convertissez Otinel le tirant,
Que sur son chief prenge baptizement.”
Baise la terre, si se leve a tant,
A la fenestre at mis sun chief avant
Veit les baruns cumbatre gentement.
Des lur escus n’ourent mie tant
Dunt il cuverir peussent lur puinz devant.

Rollant dit al paen, “Kar guerpissez Mahun
E trei en Deu ki suffri passiun.
Ber, kar le fai, si recevez gent dun:
Ço est Belisent, la fille al rei Charlun.
Ma cusine est, e jo te faz le dun,
E jo e tu serrum tut dismes compaingnun,
E Oliver a nus avisterun.
Si conquerrum chastel e dunchun;
Cité ne marche ne bon chastel gascun
Ja plus de tei ne quier un esperun.”
Dist Otinel, “Ore oi parler bricun —
Mal dehez eit ki te fist cleriun!
Meis jo sui maistre, si te lirrai lesçun,
M’en escient, ainz que departirun:
Tel ce durrai sur le healme brun
Ke ne purras dire ‘oec’ ne ‘nun.’”

El nevu Charle n’out que curecer.
Mal talent a merveillus e fier;
Tint Durendal, u le punt fu d’ormier,
Sur le healme fiert Otinel le guerreer,
Ke fu en salt del fer e del ascier.
Cil lui guenchist, qui bien sout del mester;
Deliez l’espaule en fait le colp beisser,
Trenche les maelles del jacerant dubler,
Tut le desço vere tresk’al nu del braier,
Meis a la char ne poeit mie tucher.
Li colp fu grant, le vassal fet pleer;
Pur un petit nel fait agenuisser.
Franceis s’escrient, “Quel colp de chevaler!”
Li plusur dient del curteis messagier
Ke vencuz est ne se pot meis aider,
Meis poi conuissent Otinel le guerreer,
Le fiz le rei Galien al vis fier!
Il fait un salt si volt le colp venger;
S’ore ne se sace li nies le rei guarter,
Ja ne ferra meis colp sur chevaler.

Li Sarazin a la culur muee,
Les oilz ruille cum beste devee.
Tient Cureçuse, s’il at amunt levee,
Al nevu Charle le fra ja privee
Sur le healme d’or, li at ja presentee.
Un colp li done par si grant randunee
Ja fust la teste Rollant del cors severé.
Quant Cureçuse li est el puin turnee,
Un altre colp li jete a celee.
Entre le cors e l’escu vint l’espee,
Sur les en armes a la targe colpee
K’as ses piez l’abat enmi la pree.
Del bon halberc consiut la gerunee,
Desk’en la terre fet culer l’espee.
Al resacher, Otinel s’est escrié,
“Par Mahumet, mult trenche bien m’espee!”

Li chevaler reguardent fierement,
Forment redutent les colps qui sunt pesant;
Les halbercs detrenchent e derere e devant,
E desmaile sunt mult menuement;
De lur escuz n’en ovrent mie tant
Dunt il pussent coverir lur puinz devant.
Franceis se jetent tuit contre orient,
Grant pour ont de lur seingnur Rodlant.
Il prient Deu ke bon conseil lur mant,
U peis u trives, u bon desevrement.
A ices paroles vient un columb volant,
Si ke Charles le vit e tute sa gent.
Sainz Espiriz sur Otinel descent,
Dous moz a dit: “Trei tei en sus, Rollant.
Ne sai quel chose me vait devant volant
Ki m’at changé le sens e le talent.
Ceste bataille remainie a itant.
Pur tue amur, prendrai baptizement.
Sainte Marie trai jo mes a garant.”
Rollant l’entent, si li dit en riant,
“Gentil hoem sire, as le tu en talant?”
Fait Otinel, “Jo’l vus di veirement,
Jo guerp ici Mahun e Tervagant
E Apolin e Jovin le puant.”
Les branz i jetent sur l’erbe verdiant,
Amdui s’enbracent li chevaler vaillant.
“Deus,” dit li reis, “cum ci vertuz est grant!
Ja m’est avis k’il funt covenant.
Kar i alez, franc chevaler vaillant.”
E il si sunt qui plus tost poet currant —
Maismes li reis i vait espurunant.
“Beals nies,” fait, “cum vus est covenant?”
“Sire,” fait il, “mult m’esta gentement,
Kar tut sui sein n’en ai de malment,
Mes combatu sui al meillur combatant
K’unques feust en la paene gent.
Meis, merci, nus avum fait itant
Ke cristienté volt e baptizement.
Recevez le, beals sire, alez avant
Si li donez honur a sun talant,
En surketut, ta filie Belesent.”
“Deus,” dit li reis, “ore avez fait mun talent:
C’est la preere ke j’aloue deperant!”
Si se desarment li chevaler vaillant.
Rollant munte sur un destrier currant,
E Otinel sur un mul amblant,
Vers la cité se vont esperunant.
Ore s’en irrunt al baptizement.

Al muster l’ont mené Sainte Marie.
Turpin de Reins a l’estole seisie,
Le salter overe si dist la letanie.
Puis vient al funz. S’il seinie e sentefie.
Grant est la presse de la chevalerie
Pur Otinel le pruz, ki se baptie.
Charle le tient od la barbe flurie,
E ote li pruz Girard de Normendie.
Le nun li leissent, nel remuent mie.
Baptizé est si at sa lei guerpie.
A tant es vus Belesent l’eschevie,
Ke plus est bele que la rose flurie.
Danz bele barbe vers Charles la guie.
Li reis la prent par la mance enermie.
“Fillie,” fait il, “mult estes cislurie!
Ki une nuit vus avera en baillie
Ne li deit puis remembrer de cuardie;
Pruz humme deit estre de sa chevalerie.
Si serra il, si Deu li done vie,
De quei Franceis ont li plusur envie.
Fillol,” fait il, “oras ta lei complie:
Baptizé es si as ta lei guerpie.
Pernez ma fillie Belesent a amie.
Pur lui, te donis Vercels e Morie,
Aulte e Plesence, Melan e Pavie:
Sire serras de tute Lumbardie.”
Otinel l’ot, vers la terre se plie;
Les piez li baise forment sumilie.
“Sire,” fait il, “ço ne refuis jo mie
Si la pucele le comant e otrie.”
Dit Belisent, “Jo me tiens pur garrie;
De bon mari ne me deit peser mie.
La meie amur ni ert ja vers vus guenchie.”
Dist Otinel, “Quant vus estes m’amie,
Pur vostre amur frai chevalerie
Devant Atille, de m’espee furbie.
Mort sunt paien, quant ai pris baptisterie!
Dreiz emperere, a vus comant m’amie
Treske vendruns al pleins de Lumbardie.
Les noeces erent es prez desur Hatilie
Quant averai mort l’emperur Garsie.”

En sun paleis est li reis montez.
Si grant barnage est aprés lui alé.
Li mangier est ja prest e conreez;
Cil le mangerent a ki il fu donez.
Aprés supers, est li vins aportez
Enz en la chambre u li reis est entrez.
Dormir s’en vont, si ont les vis fermez
Desk’al demain que li soleil est levez.
Li reis se leve ses baruns at mandé,
Sur une table de savine est muntez.
Tient un bastun tut a or neelez.
“Seingnurs,” dit Charle, “un petit m’entendez.
Conseilez mei, kar faire le devez,
Del rei Garsie, dunt vus oi avez,
Ki par sa force est en ma terre entrez,
Mes chastels art e brisé mes citez.
Ja ert destruite sainte Cristientez.
Irrum nus i ainz que vienge estez
U atendrum treske yver seit passez?”
Dient Franceis, “De merveille parlez —
Celui ni a ne seit tut aprestez;
Mar i avera altre terme nomez.”
“Si ert,” fait Charle, “puis que tuit le volez,
Al entre d’averil quant marz iert passez.
Pur meie amur, lores vus aprestez.”
Dient Franceis, “Si cum vus comandez.”

Nostre emperere fait escrivere ses brefs —
Par sun empire tramet ses messagers —
Ke ne remanie neis uns chevalers,
N’ume a pié, ne sergant, n’arblaster
Que dunt ni vienge; e qui ne poet aler
A Seint-Denise rende quatre deners.
Or va decembre si est passé jenevers,
Feverier, e marz, e vient li tens legers.
A Paris est nostre emperere fiers.
Li duze pier — Rollant e Olivers,
E Ansels, Girard, e Engeliers,
Estult de Lengres e Turpins e Giriers,
Bertoloi li bier e Otinel li guerreers,
Naimles li duc e li Daneis Ogiers —
As granz fenestres en ont mis hors les chies.
Virent venir Alemans e Beivers;
E Loerenes ceus as corages fiers;
E Peitevins, Provencels le guerriers;
E Burguiuns, Flamenes, e Puiers;
De Normendie la flur des chevalers.
Bretuns i vienent as escuz de quartiers,
En destre meinent les auferanz destriers.
Celui ni a n’ait quatre esquiers —
Se mestiers ont, dunt il frunt chevalers.
Desuz Munmartre s’amient a milliers.

Prim jor d’averil quant l’aube est esclarzie,
Munte li reis Charle ove sa chevalerie.
De Paris eissent si vont a Saint-Denise,
Le congé prennent, lur veie ont acullie.
Plurent ces dames si maldient Garsie;
Sonent ces corns, e cil destriers henissent.
Ore s’en irra li reis desk’en Lumbardie,
Li duc Rollant al primer chief les guie;
Deriere est Naimes od la barbe florie.
Mais Otinel ne volt leisser s’amie.
Belisent munte sur un mul de Hungrie
Que plus tost veit l’ambleure serrie
Ke par la mer ne veit nef ne galie.
Set cent baruns at en sa mainburnie,
Tuit joefne gent de grant chevalerie.
Eissent de France, Burgonie ont guerpie,
Passent Mungiu la fiere compaingnie,
Eissent des munz, vienent a Morie.
Desuz Versels passerent a navie,
Muntferant muntent, si veient Hatelie —
La forte cité u est la gent haie.
Suz Munpoun prennet herbergerie,
Lez l’eue del Ton en la praerie.

Nostre emperere fait Franceis arestier;
Sur l’eve del Ton les a feit osteilier;
Vint jors plenier les i feit demurer.
Lur chevals funt seiner e reposer,
E lur malades guarir e mesciner.
Le fiz Pepin ne se volt ublier,
Tant dementiers a feit un punt lever
Par unt Franceis deivent ultre passer.
Sur le punt est nostre emperere ber,
U fet ses haies a sulives fermer
A mailz de fer cum fire e soldeer.
Fait est li punz, bien i pot hum passer.
Franceis se vont as herberges manger,
Mes Rollant s’est curu dunc aduber
Ke nul nel sorent ne nis li duze pier
Ne mes Oliver e li Daneis Ogier.
Tut treis s’adubent suz l’umbre d’un lorer,
As destres muntent, si vont le punt passer,
Vers la cité comencent a aler.
Meis ainz que viengent cil trei al returner,
Li plus hardi avera tant a penser —
Ni voldreit estre venuz pur un mui d’or cler!

Defors Hatillie, a une liue grant,
Ont quatre reis de la lei mescreant.
Issu se sunt, si se vont deportant,
Bien sunt armé, chascun a sun talent.
Ces sont lur nuns, si la chançun ne ment:
L’un Balsami, li reis de Ninivent;
L’altre Curable, un rei de pute gent,
Unques n’out fei vers nul hume vivant;
Li tierz a nun Askanart li tirant,
Forz est e fiers, e hardement a grant —
Mort a mil hummes de s’espee trenchant;
Li quart, Clarel a la chiere riant —
N’a tant bel humme; tant cun soleil resplent!
Ne treve nul qui juste li demant,
Ni ert si hardi, si a colp li atent,
Que nel occie u abate sanglent.
Par le champ vont destriers aleissant,
Forment manacent Oliver e Rollant,
E iurent deu s’il poent vivere tant
K’en duce France peussent mener lur gent!
Ja Charlemaine n’avera vers eus guarant;
Des duze piers, frunt trestut lur talent!
Ço dit Clarel a la chiere riant,
En manacer ne guanie l’um nient:
“J’ai oi grantment preiser Rollant,
N’at plus produmme de ci k’en Oriant,
Envers s’espee n’at humme guarant,
Meis mes deus pri, Mahun e Tervagant,
K’uncore eie de li assaiement,
K’un colp li duinse de m’espee trenchant
Amunt le chief, sur le healme luisant.
Mult par iert dur si desk’al denz nel fent!
Kar jo ai grant dreit, si ne l’aim devient,
Kar il m’occist Samsoinie de Muntbrant,
Sire Panpelume, a un turneiment.
Il fu mis freres, si ai le quor dolant —
Murrai de doel si mun frere ne vent!”
Franceis chevacent tut celeement
Delez un bois qui ad a nun Forestent.
La noise entendet si arestunt a itant.
Li duc Rollant les veit premierement.
“Seingnurs,” fait il, “ore esteit gentement!
Veez paens sur la roche qui pent.
Ne sunt ke quatre, par men escient;
Bien i poum juster séurement,
La merci Deu Omnipotent.”
E cil respunent, “Tut a vostre talent.”
Les hanstes mettent sur les feutres devant,
Vers les paiens se vont esperunant.
Clarel reguarde vers levant
E veit les contes brochier mut fierement;
Ses compaingnuns apele ignelement:
“Seingnurs,” fait il, “aiez grant hardement!
Treis chevalers vei de deça puinant;
Alez encontre! Sachez qu’il vont querrant!”
E il leissent curre sanz nul retenement;
N’i ont plus dit ne demandé nient
Qu’il sunt, d’unt vienent, ne qu’il vont querrant,
Meis de lur lances fierent durement.
Ascanard fiert sur l’escu Rollant,
Desuz la bucle le depiece e fent;
Fort est la bruine, ne depiece nient.
Frusse la lance en sum le fer devant.
Li quons le fiert tant ascemeement
Ke sen ne halberc ne li valt nient;
Le piz li frenche, le curaillie li fent,
Mort l’a bati del bon destrier curant.
Puis a dit Rollant, en riant,
“Fiz a putain, trové avez Rollant,
K’aliez ore si forment manaçant!”

Cursable juste a Ogier le curteis,
Gent colp li done sur sun escu de peis,
Ultre l’enpasse l’enseinie de cicleis,
Del halberc trenche mailles trente treis,
Lez le costé li met le fer galeis;
Enpeint bien, mes ne li valt un peis.
Ogier le fiert en l’escu clemaneis,
Parmi les armes li met le fer galeis;
Ne li valt mie le bon halberc un peis.
El cors li met le penun a orfreis,
Mort le tresturne del destrier espaneis.
El repairer li dit dous moz curteis:
“Fiz a putain, ço est Ogier le Daneis.
Pur tels colps feire, m’aime Charle li reis!”

Oliver juste al rei de Ninivent —
A Balsami qui at grant hardement
Sur sun escu u ont un liun peint.
Mes Oliver le fiert si dreitement
Sur la ruele que parmi le fent —
La melle bruinie ni li valt nient.
L’ensenie met tut dreit el cors devant,
Mort l’abati del destrier, sanglent.
Puis li a dit, “Al malfé te comant!”
Al turn k’il feit, si vint Clarel puinant —
Cil enprendra del paien vengement.
Si Oliver a icest colp l’atent,
Meis li niés Charle li traverse devant.
Clarel le fiert sur l’escu devant —
La bone bruinie li fu de mort garant!
Li bon destrier lieve les piez avant
Le destrer recule, sil veit consivant
K’en un munt chiet le destrer Rollent.
En halt s’escrie s’enseine, “Naimant!”
Vers la cité s’en volt aler fuiant,
Mes li Daneis li est alé devant,
Grant colp li dune del espee trenchant
En mi le piz, sur cel halberc luisant —
La bone bruinie ne false ne n’estent.
Delez un munt l’abat del auferant.
Oliver prent le bon destrier curant,
Vient a Rollant, par le frein li rent.
“Sire,” fait il, “muntez ignelement!
De part Ogier, le vus doins e present —
Meildre est del vostre. Jo qui qu’il valt les cent!”
Li quons salt sure k’a arçun ne se prent.
E li paen est lievé en estant,
Treit at s’espee, Mellee la trenchant,
L’escu enbrace, forment se defent.
Rollant sake Durendal le vaillant.
Un colp li veit doner de maintenant,
Meis li paen jette l’escu devant,
Trestut li trenche quanke l’espee enprent.
Fort se combat mes ne li valt nient:
“Seingnurs, ma veie vus demant;
Pernez mei vif — eschec avez fait grant.
Quels est li sires, par m’espee me rent?”
S’espee rent; li quons Rollant la prent.
Puis li ameinent un neir destrier muvant
Dunt fu occis li rei de Ninivent.

Li compaingnun repairent de juster,
Clarel ont pris, s’il quident mener
A Charlemaine le volent presenter.
Meis einz qu’il puissent une liwe aler,
D’altre matire lur estuvera parler,
Kar Sarazin repairent de preer —
Mil e cinc cenz, tant i pot hum aismer.
Oient les corns, les busines suner,
Veient les healmes menu estenceler,
E les enseines par amunt venteler.
Rollant les veit si comence a sifler,
A ses estrius s’afiche li ber.
Envers Ogier prist li quons a jurer:
“Par cel Seingnur qui Deu se fait clamer,
S’a Durendal me peusse a eus meller,
Tant me verrez occire e decolper
Ke les noveles irreient ultre mer.”
“Seignurs baruns,” ço li dit Oliver,
“A sages hummes l’ai oi reconter
Hum ne se pot de tut ses mals garder,
Ne um ne pot tuz jurs senz juste ester,
E quant hum quide grant leesce encontrer,
Idunc est il plus pres del desturber.”
“Veirs,” dit Ogier, “ci a mal a penser,
Ne ci n’avera mester d’esponter.
Veez paens! Nes poez eschiver!
Parmi lur lances nus estuvera passer.
Ore deit chascun sa pruesce mustrer.
Puis k’um est pris, nel deit hum afoler;
Kar bien al rei nel pouns amener,
Bien le nus pot encui reguerdoner.”
E dist Clarel, “Franc quor te fist parler.”

“Sire Rollant,” ço dit Ogier le ber,
“Fort estes e fiers, hardiz e redutez,
E de bataille bien enluminez,
E Oliver est chevaler pruvez,
E jo méisme de maint pas eschapez.
Veez paens! Refuser nes poez,
N’altre sucurs d’umme n’atendez.
Ki ore n’i fierge, il seit cuard pruvez.”
“Munjoie,” escrient, eis les vus a justez
Ja i avera des morz e des naverez.

Rollant feri un paien, Berruier,
Qui plus est neir que mure de murer;
Mort le tresturne en miliu d’un sentier.
E Oliver fiert Balsan de Muntpellier;
E li Danais juste al Sarazin Motier.
Mort les abatent; cil furent li primer.
Treis ont occis des hanstes de pummer,
Puis ont treit les espees d’ascer.
Rollant les veit od Durendal trenchier,
Par un e un les feit trebuchier.
Oliver trovent li paien mult fier —
A Halteclere i fait tel sentier
Bien i purreient quatre chars encontrer.
Li bons Daneis i fet mult a preiser;
De bien ferir ne se volt targier:
Estreint Curteine si broche le destrier,
A trente paens a fait les chiefs voler.

Atant est venu Carmel de Tabarie,
Un Sarazin qui tus les altres guie.
Bien est armé, si set sur Pennepie.
En sun language a halte voiz escrie:
“Ke faites vus? Mahumet deu vus maldie!
Que dirrum nus a l’emperur Garsie —
Ke par treis hummes est si grant gent hunie?
Jo toldrai a un des treis ja la vie.”
Puint le destrier, la lance a brandie,
E fiert Oger sur la targe flurie,
Desuz la bucle l’a freint e percie.
La bone bruine ne li valt une fie.
El cors li met l’enseinie d’Orcanie,
Naveré l’abat, ki ke peist u rie.
Veit le Rollant, ki ke peist u ki rie,
Ferir le vet sur le healme de Buzie,
Tut le purfent sanz nule garantie.
“Culvert,” fet il, “Deu del ciel te maldie!
De quel vassal m’as tolu la compaingnie!”
Par le champ broche l’Alfage de Nubie,
Un Sarazin que Dampnedeu maldie,
Cusins fu a la bele Alfamie —
Hui matin li promist druerie,
E il promist colp de chevalierie.
Si Deu n’en pense, le fiz seinte Marie,
Il lur fra mult grant estultie.
Fiert Oliver sur la bruine sarzie;
Fort est l’auberc qui li garda la vie.
Jus l’abiti, mes il nel n’aila mie.
Le quens relieve, si salt sur Pennepie,
Li bon destrier Carmel de Tabarie.
A halte voiz sun compaingnun escrie,
“Sire Rollant, ne vus esmaez mie!
Jo vus en ai la meie fei plevie
Ne vus faldrai tant cum averai la vie.”
Ore comence le bruit e la folie
De nos Franceis e de la paienie.

Li bon Deneis haste de relever;
Grant est la presse, ne pot el bai monter.
Lores comence l’espee a reguarder:
“Oi Curteine, tant vus poi amer;
En la curt Charle vus feissez a loer.
Hui estuvera mei e vus deseverer,
Mes, einz que muire, vus voil esprover.”
Fiert un paen sur sun healme cler,
Desk’al denz li fait le brant culer.
Rollant recleime, mes il ne l’ot, li ber,
Kar il a tant endreit sei a penser
Qu’il ne set quel part il deit aler.
Oger assaillent Sarazin e Escler,
Il se defent cum gentil e ber.
Li reis Clarel le veit mult pener
E del espee ruistes colps doner.
En halt escrie, “Paien, laissez ester!
“Rent tei, Ogier. Ne t’estuet pas duter —
Tu te poz bien sur mei a fier.
N’averas mal dunt te peusse aider.”
Dist l’almoafle, “Vus nel poez tenser;
Ja li verrez tuz les membres colper!”
Clarel l’entent, vif quide forsener;
Treit a s’espee, un colp li veit doner
K’en mi le champ li fet le chief voler.
Puis li a dit, “Leissez Ogier ester.”
Vient al destrier, si fait le duc monter;
Uit Sarazins a fet demander,
De sa meinee, u plus se deit afier.
“Seingnurs,” fet il, “ore pensez del errer.
Dites m’amie que face Ogier guarder.”
Il lur livera, sis a laissé aler.
Sovent li funt ses plaies pasmer.
La fille al rei, Alfamie al vis cler,
En un vergier entra pur deporter,
Ensembl’od lui Guaite e Belamer.
Virent paiens a la barre passer,
Dit l’une a l’altre, “Alum a eus parler
De lur corage saver e demander.”

Dist Alfamie, “Baruns qu’iluec estez,
De vos noveles kar nus recontez.
Cil chevaler u fu il encontrez?
Fu il pris en juste u en estur naverez?”
“Pucele gente,” fait li velz almafez,
“Par Mahumet, purquei nus engabez?
Ja avum nus les quors itant enflez
Ke nus nen prent de rire volentez.”
“Ki a ço fait? Guarde nel me celez.”
E dient cil, “Cist fol buinard pruvez.
Il e dui altre ont si les noz menez
K’a cent paens ont les testes colpez.
Clarel vus mande, vostre ami le senez,
Pur sue amur, que cestui bien guardez.”
Dist la pucele, “Ore vus returnez
Pernez mei les altres, sis mi amenez.”
Dient paiens, “Einz passera estez!”
Puis dit al cunte, “Ore vus en venez,
Jo vus promet que bon ostel averez.
Cum avez nun? De quele gent estes nez?”
“Ogier ai nun le Daneis alosez.
En la curt Charle en est mi parentez.”
Dist la pucele, “Ore vus conuis assez.”

Ces treis puceles ont amené Ogier
En une place desuz un oliver.
Primerement areinent le destrer,
Puis desarment le curteis chevaler.
L’une prent le halme, l’altre le brant d’ascer,
Del dos li treient le bon halberc dublier.
Ses plaies levent, sil mettent culchier.
D’une herbe duce li donent a mangier
Ke Deu meisme planta en sun vergier.
“Tost-seine” at a nun, tel pot hum preiser.
Cil s’endormi, qui at grant mester.
Quant il s’esveille, si se senz tut legier
E plus fu sein que pume de pumer.
Ore leissum ici del curteis Ogier,
Qui assez at de quank’il at mestier.
Del duc Rollant dirum e d’Oliver,
Qui se combatent as espees d’ascer.
Uncore i a des paens un millier.
Ne poent mes les granz colps enhacier —
Sil s’enfuient n’est pas a merveiller.
Fuiant, s’en vont tut un chemin plener,
Paens les siwent pur les testes colper.
Otinel fait les contes demander,
Lors s’aveit bien quant nes poeit trover
Ke vers Atille sunt alé pur juster.
Ignelement se curut aduber,
E ovec lui tel set cenz chevalier,
Trestut li pire purreit un rei mater.
El destrier munte si veit al rei parler:
“Sire, faites Franceis vistement armer!
Alum le siege mettre e ordener,
Kar vostre nies m’at pur cuard prover —
K’ui matin est alé pur juster.
Si mal li vient, qui en deit blasmer?
Trop se volt faire sur tuz hummes loer!
Meis, par celui qui Deu se fait clamer,
Si jo puis hui Sarazins encontrer,
Bien m’i orrez “Munjoie!” escrier,
E de m’espee si ruiste colp doner
Ja de Rollant n’estuvera parler.”

Nostre emperere a fait un corn soner.
Franceis s’adubent, si vunt le punt passer.
Al duc Samsun fist l’enseine porter.
La veissiez tant gunfanuns lever,
Tanz hanstes dreites, tant pennuns venteler,
Deu ne fist humme kis peust anunbrer.
Forment s’afichent cil legier bacheler;
Les uns vers les altres comencent avanter,
De ruistes colps sur Sarazins doner.
De l’ost s’en partent cil set cent bacheler,
Ke Belesent a tuz a sun manjer.
Otinel broche Fluri sun destrier,
Devant les altres, al treit d’un archer.
Bien est armé a lei de chevaler.
Ses cunuissances d’un paile cursier
Ne peisent une quatre fuilz d’un saltier —
N’est une nez qu’is peust alegier.
Kar feu ne flamme nes poet damager,
E cil qui at le pesant d’un dener,
Tant nes peusse naverer ne blescier,
Ke ne sente tut sein e legier.
La fille Charle, ki mult fait a preiser,
Les li dona, e l’enseignie Galtier.
Rollant encontre a l’eissir d’un viver,
De sa parole le volt contralier:
“Sire,” fait il, “venez vus de peschier?
Quidez vus sul les paiens tuz mangier?
E jo e vus i averum assez a rungier.
Turnez ariere ja vus poez vengier;
Mort sunt paens m’arivrent l’enchascier.”
Guarde sur destre, si at veu encombrier
Ki s’en veneit consiwint Oliver.
Ja li aveit si naveré sun destrier
Ke de set parz i vit le sanc raier;
Mult li aveit sucurs grant mester!
Otinel broche Fluri sun destrer,
Brandit sa lance, veit ferir encumbrier.
Desuz la bucle en fait l’escu percer —
Ne li valt mie li clavels un denier.
L’enseinie blanche li fet el cors banier;
Mort le tresturne en un liu d’un sentier.
Estult de Lengres ala ferir Claver;
Escu ne halber nel pot de mort aider —
Mort l’abati delez un genester.
“Munjoie!” escrient. “Ferez i, chevaler!”
E il si funt qui meuz se pot aider.
La out grant bruit as enseingnes beisser
Dunc veissez fier estur comencer:
Tanz hanstes freindre, tanz escuz percier,
E tanz halbers rumpre e desmaeiler;
E Sarazins verser e trebuchier —
Suz ciel n’at humme kis peust aconter!

Engelers en veit les reues cerchant,
Sa hanste a freinte, en sum poin sum brant.
Veit Clariados qui tient Numilliant,
K’a justé a Reiner de Melant —
A batu la . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mais Engeler li contredit itant,
“Nel amerras ainz te frai dulant!”
Ferir le vet sur sun healme devant
Par tel vertu que desk’as denz le fent;
Le cors chiet, vis l’alme vet a turment.
Un Sarazin i veit espurunant:
Ço est Galatas qui tient Tyrie la Gran
Desur ses pers, a pris grant hardement;
Beise sa lance, l’enseinie vole al vent.
Envers le conte met sum çoes en present,
As espuruns tant cum cheval li rent.
Fiert Engeler sur sun escu devant,
Ultre li met l’enseinie aliant,
Bien pleine palme le descire e estent.
Desuz l’essele li met le fet trenchant,
Deu le guarist k’en la char nel prent.
Nel pot tenir sele n’estriu d’argent,
Voilie une voile a terre le descent.
“Gaite,” escrie, “k’il ne porte le guant!”

Engeler est en la presse entrez.
Sil bons escuz li est del col volez!
Mien escient, il fust bien remuntez,
Quant Talot broche, un Turc de fine Surez,
Mort at mil hummes puisqu’il fu adubez;
Od seisante altres est sur li arestez.
Lancent les lances, les gros darz enpennez,
E gavelocs, e fausarz quarrez.
Mult malement fu le jur debutez!
Sil haubercs fu en trente lius nafrez;
N’est pas merveille s’il est mult blescez,
Mais il n’a plaie dunt il se sent encombrez.
Si a cheval puisse estre muntez!
Sil branz d’ascer iert as Turcs privez;
Tels sunt seins k’il trenchera les chiefiez.
A recusse nient puingnant Ysorez,
Galtier de Huns e Dain li membrez,
Girard d’Orliens, e Hertald li barbez —
De bien ferir s’est chascun aprestez.
“Munjoie,” escrient, si les ont reculez
Si k’Engelers est el bai muntez.
Granz colps se donent en ces escuz listez,
Ensemble justent Talot e Ysorez;
Les eis depiecent si ont les quirs percez,
Les fers se plient sur ces halbers safrez.
Nes pot tenir sele n’estriu dorrez,
Peitrel, ne cengle, ne frein d’argentez —
Tut li plus fort est a terre versez.
Talot relieve si salt sus Ysorez.
Mettent lur mains as espees delez,
L’ascer luist des branz qu’il unt levez.
Forment se fierent sur ces healmes gemmez.
Ja feust le champ de quei que fust finez
Ne fust la presse que lur a desturbez.
Galtier de Huns a Armagot s’est comitez,
Mort l’abati — l’alme en portent malsfez!
Franceis i fierent as bons branz acerez,
Trenchent espalles, eschines, e costez.
D’ambes parz i trebuchent assez
Li plus delivre en est trestut encombrez.
De sanc vermail en est tuschie li prez.

Arepater broche — un Turc de Florient,
D’une cité de la Inde la Grant.
Vint a Clarel par la reidne le prent.
“Sire,” fait il, “par vus ne faisum nient.
Ço dist, ja aurez mun talent:
Selunc les eues, nel eissent nient;
Envers les noz vont espurunant.”
Clarel s’escrie s’enseinie, “Naimant!”
Arapater la sue, “Floriant!”
A ces enseinies vienent Mor e Persent
E Arabiz — tuit bien tresk’a cent,
Celui n’i a nen art gunfanun gent,
U arc turkeis u gaveloc trenchant.
Franceis reculent bien demi arpent.
Li reis justa a Droun l’Alemant,
L’escu li brise suz la bucle d’argent,
L’escu li false li clavel en estent,
El il cors li met sun espé trenchant,
Entre les francs l’abiti mort sancglent.
Arapater tient l’espee trenchant,
Girard d’Orliens en fiert tant egrement
Ke la cervele e les oilz li espant.
Quant il l’at mort, si s’en veit gualopant,
Mes Otinel li est venuz devant,
S’espee treite, sun escu portant.
Arapater curt vers li auferant,
Ferir le veit par mut grant hardement
Si ke l’escu e le healme li fent;
Dur sunt li quir, ne pot ester nient;
Mes la grant targe tresk’as armes prent,
Ço m’est avis ja feist tut sun talent,
Quant li brise s’espee en estraant.
Otinel le fiert abandunement
Par tel vertu ke desk’as quor li fent.
Li cors iet jus, a diables le comant,
Puis si a dit, “Nus esteium parent.
Pur tel servise tel guerdun te rent!”
Li reis Clarel est al turneiement,
De tutes parz veit tresbucher sa gent,
Murir e brave e occire a turment.
Entre Franceis ses leisse irrément.
A ceste puinte occist Ricard d’Eiglent,
Garnier d’Angiers, e Hugun de Clarvent;
Nelis le pruz jeta mort sanglent.
Fors de la presse eissi si gentement
K’il ni perdi un espurun vaillant.
Sune sun gresse pur ralier sa gent,
Meis il ne pot aver od sei que cent.
Cil s’en vont vers la cité fuiant.
Franceis le siwent qui les tresbuchent sovent.

Paiens s’enfuient e cil de barbarie
Desk’as destreiz sur la roche navie,
Iloquis encontrent la riche compaingnie
De la meisnee l’emperur Garsie —
Vint mile sunt la pute gent haie!
Ja feust bataille ne remansist mie.
Meis li jur vait, si passe complie.
Clarel met jus la grant targe flurie,
Trait la ventaille de la bruinie sarzie,
A halte voiz, vers Otinel s’escrie:
“Va, ki es tu? Mahumet te maldie!
Di mei tun nun, s’il nuncirai Garsie.”
Dist li convers, “N’el te celerai mie.
Ço est Otinel a la chire hardie,
Fiz Galien. Ma mere at nun Clye.
Baptizé sui. Laissé ai la folie.
Charles de France m’at doné Lumbardie
E Belesent sa fillie a amie.
Jameis paien n’amerai en ma vie.”
Ço dit Clarel, “Merveille ai oie!
As tu dunc issi ta fei mentie?
Enchanté es, si as ben l’ester lie,
De quei cil mirie des t’en prent l’esturdie.
Ber, kar ce viene si te reconcilie.
Fai dreit Mahun de si grant felonie
Cum tu as fait de ta lei k’as guerpie.
Jo metrai peis entre tei e Garsie,
Si te durrai la metrai d’Almarie.”
Dist Otinel, “Ço ne frai jo mie,
Mal dehez ait la vostre compaingnie,
Mes, par la fei que dei Sainte Marie,
Si te puis prendre u l’emperur Garsie,
Jo vus pendrai as puis de Satanie!”
Fait li paien, “Or as dit grant estultie.
Des meillurs hummes de tute paienie,
Mult avez le quor plein de felonie.
Prest sui ke face vers tei un aatie,
Tut sul a sul, de m’espee furbie,
Ke tis baptesmes ne la cristienie
Ne cele messe ke prestre sacrefie
Vers nostre lei ne valt un alie.
Melz valt Mahun ke fait le fiz Marie!”

Dist li convers, “Diable sunt en tei!
Si vols Mahun defendre envers mei,
Fai mei seur ke ne remanie en tei,
E jo defendrai Dampnedeu e sa lei.”
Li Sarazin en a lievé le dei,
E Otinel li a promis sa fei
Ke la bataille ne remaindra en sei.

En la cité en est Clarel entrez,
E Otinel en a les suens amenez.
Herbergié sunt nos Franceis es prez;
Tendent lur loges si ont feu alumez.
Cil mirie portent uniement as naffiez;
Les morz en ont en fosses enterrez.
Al trief le rei est Otinel alez;
Nostre emperere est encontre alez,
E Belisent e Naimes li barbez.
L’estrui li tenent liber est desmuntez.
La fille Charles li cerche les costez
K’il ne seit entamé ne nafrez;
Treis feiz la beise quant il fu desarmez.
“Filiol,” dist Charle, “curteise amie avez.”
“Sire,” fait il,” Deus en seit loez,
Ço comparunt li paen malsenez.”

L’ost le rei guaitent Burguinun e Alemant.
La nuit dormi Charle seuremant,
E li paien guaitent fierement;
Cornent e crient desk’al soleil levant.
Clarel se lieve al jur aparissant,
Ist de la chambre, si s’arme ignelement.
A l’adubier fu Canor de Muntbrant,
E Meliens, e Apolin le grant,
Quatre feiz est majur d’un giant.
En dos li vestent un halberc jacerant —
Ki l’at vestu ne crient arme trenchant,
Ke maele en oste tant sunt li clou tenant,
Meis si Otinel pusse apresmer tant,
K’a Cureçuse k’il fierge del trenchant,
Ja vers l’espee n’avera hauber guarant!
El chief li lacent un healme al rei priant —
N’est pas de fer ne de fust ne d’argent,
Ainz est dost de la teste d’un serpent.
Escrit i sunt Jovin e Tervagant,
E Mahumet en la guise d’un enfant:
Cil sunt li deu k’il recleime sovent,
Par ces quide il aler seurement.
Al col li pendent un fort escu peisant,
Tut est de quir, ni a de fust nient;
Dis e uiit bucles en ja d’or luisant.
Puis li aportent un enseinie pendant
D’un vermail paile percie menuement.
Puis ceint Mellee, s’espee trenchant,
K’il ne dureit pur mil mars d’or luisant.
Enmi la place li meint l’um Turnevent,
Qui tant va tost, quant il espurun sent,
Que l’arundele post prendre en volant.
Salt en la sele k’a arçun ne se prent,
Sunt sun gredle pur esturmir sa gent.
Par la cité sarment li mescreant;
Li reis s’en trane, as esperuns brochant.
Dist Alphamie, “A Mahun te comant.
Apolin, sue victorie li consent:
De mil mars d’or te frai acressement!”
Fors de la porte se vet espurunant;
Aprés lui vunt Sarazin e Persant,
E Arabis e Turcs bien desk’a cent.
Mahumet levent en un char vertant,
Ultre li passent la fort eue bruiant.
Sur un halt pui, le leissant en estant,
Forment l’atachent a chaenes d’argent,
K’il ne chere n’ariere n’avant.
Trestuit l’aurent e prient humlement
Que vertu i face; chascun i fet present.
Tut li plus povre i offri un besant.
Clarel s’en veit, sun destrier aleissant,
Arestez est sur un eue curant.
Veit l’ost de France e derire e devant.
Suavet le dit, que nul nel entent,
“Mahumet, sire,” fet il, cum faite gent,
“Icil frunt Garsie al quor dolent.”

Nostre emperere est par matin levez.
Sur l’eue del col depoeter est alez,
E ovec lui de ses meillurs privez.
Rollant i est, e Naimes li barbez,
E Oliver e Ote li menbrez.
Clarel s’est a la rive arestez,
A haute voiz escrie, “Vus, ki la estez!
Est iloec Charle li chanu li membrez?”
E dit l’emperere, “Frere, que me volez?”
“Jo te durrai, que mar fussez vus nez!
Trop as vesçu! Chanu es e barbez —
Presca ke dussez estre a un pel tuez!
Travellez estes, e destruiz e deseritez.
Ja est ta corune e cis empires donez
Al meillur humme k’unques mes fust nez —
Florien de Sulie — ki tant est alosez.
Cil estera reis de France clamez!”
Ço dit li reis, “Mut par es enparlez,
E de mençunge dire bien endoctrinez.
Uncore s’ail al destrier tut armez,
Qui de seez reis ai par force matez.
Ore ce promet ma fei, si ert veritez,
James n’en ert cest siege deseverez
Si ert prise Garsie e destruite sa citez.”
E dit Clarel, “Dire ce fist malfez!
Ne fais a creire; trop as tes jurs usez;
Chief as chanu; si sunt ci peis mellez!
Par tei ni ert mes faite nule buntez —
N’estur comencé ne tur enfermez!”
Vergunie a Charle si a Francs esgardez;
Al curuz, ka si est desafublez,
Dit a Galdin, “Mes armes m’aporter.”
“Sire,” dit Otes, “vostre ire atemprez.
Pur meie amur, ne vus desmesurez,
Kar j’ai ma fei vers Clarel afiez.
D’un grant afeire ore voil ke m’entendez:
Jo di Mahumet ne deit ester honurez —
N’en ot ne veit d’enfer est malfiez;
Tute sa force ne valt treis oefs pelez!
A diables seit la suen cors comandez!
Il dit n’est pruz seinte Cristientez,
Ne li baptesme dunt sui regenerez.
Mes par le funz u fui baptizez,
Si la bataille de lui ne me dunez,
Jameis de mei ne serrez bien amez.”
“Filiol,” fait Charle, “par cest guant, la tenez;
Cil vus aie qui en croiz fu penez.”

Li reis Clarel entendi la reisun,
Irreement en apele Otun:
“Culvert,” feit il, “purquei guerpis Mahun —
La lei seintisme que nus aver devum,
Parquei les suens vendrunt a rançun
Al grant juise u nus tuz en irrum?
Ki iloc ert avera tel guerdun
K’en parais irra senz contenciun.
Meis icil deu qui Jhesu at nun
Estera pris e iert en prisun
Cum traitre e fel de Tartarun,
E tun meisme el puz de baratrun,
El grant enfern u gisent li larun.
James nul jur n’averas rançun!
Va, prent tes armes, jo t’apel felun!”
Dit Otinel, “Ja ne vus en defendrun.”

Franceis curteis ameinent le chevalier,
Gentement l’arment desuz un oliver.
Rollant li vest un bon halberc dublier.
Apris lui lascent le healme al rei Alier,
Qui Bibilonie conquist par guerreier.
De Cureçuse le ceint le fiz Reiner.
Al col li pendent la targe de sirer.
Estult li done l’enseinie al rei loier —
Li fer fu bon, la hanste de lorier.
Uns espuruns pur sun cheval brocher
Li a chaucié Droun de Munt d’Isoier.
Belesent tient sun arabi cursier;
Treis feiz la beise, puis salt el destrier.
“Bele,” dit il, “jo irrai la lei Deu vengier,
Cristienté lever e eshaucier,
Paiene gent hunir e vergunier.
La vostre amur comparunt il mult chier.”
“Amis,” fait ele, “Deu vus pusse aider!”
Al erceveske se fait li ber seinier,
Eue beneité sur ses armes geter.

Del ost se part quant il fu adubez,
Sa hanste leve si passe ultre les guez.
Li reis Clarel est encontre alez,
En halt s’escrie, “Traitre, defiez!
Mar i passastes ultre les guez,
Kar ja esteras a grant hunte liverez,
E detrenchiez, occis, e demenbrez.
Ja ni valdra rien li parentez.
Es tu uncore nule rien purpensez
Que Mahumet deit estre Deu clamez,
De tut le siècle serviz e honurez?
Qui en lui creit james ni ert afolez!
Mais cil Deu a ki tu es turnez
Ne valt vers lui uns esperuns dorrez!”
“Par Deu,” fait Otes, “Culvert, vus i mentez.
Si jo combat, tu esteras matez,
Kar de Jhesu averai la poestez;
N’autre de lui n’en iert Deu apelez.
Dehez en ait Mahun e fiertez,
E vus meinie, que par lui vus clamez,.
De mun espee vus ferrai neelez.
Par cel Seingnur qui en croix fu penez,
Tumber vus frai s’a cest colp m’atendez!”

Otinel broche sun arabi curant,
E Clarel broche sun destrier Turnevent.
Sur les escuz se fierent durement;
Parmi se passent amdui li fer trenchant
Desk’as halbercs que de mort lur defent.
Il sient ferm e enpeinent forment,
A lur estrius s’afichent reddement.
Li uns vers l’altre del abatre cuntent,
Rumpent lur cengles e les peitrals devant;
Amdui s’abatent li chevaler vaillant.
Rodlant s’en rist e dit a Belisent,
“Si m’ait Deus, cest butier valt un chant!”
Dit la pucele, “Or ai le quor dulant.
A seinte Marie, mun ami vus comant!”
Paient glatissent pur Clarel d’armant;
Mahumet prient e crient haltement
Ke vers Otun li sert de mort garant.
Treit a Mellee, s’espee la trenchant,
E Otinel s’est salli en estant,
Tint Curçuse al punt d’or luisant.
Si se requerent amdui irrement,
Grant colps se donent amdui meintenant
Amunt es healms, u li or resplent.
Le feu en salt, ke l’erbe s’esprent!

Li Sarazin fu mult bon chevaler.
Leve mellee dunt li brant fu s’ascer
E fiert Otinel sur le healme le rei Alier,
Tant par est dur nel pot mie trenchier,
Meis par le colp, lestut un poi pleier,
Tant l’estima kil le fist agenuiller.
“Seinte Marie!” dist Charle al vis fier,
“Garissiez, Dame, tun curteis chevaler,
Ki se combat pur sa lei eshaucier.”
Otes relieve, si ot corage fier
L’escu enbrace si fait un salt plener,
De Cureçuse li dune un colp plener,
Del healme a or li abat un quarter,
Trenche la coife del jacerant dublier.
La jowe enprent od trestut le jower,
Si que les denz en vit blanchoier.
“Par Deu,” dit Otes, “issi deit l’um chanchier
Colp pur colee, maille pur dener!
Bien semblez humme qui voillie eschiner.
Ne t’avera mes Alfamie mester —
James pucele ne te voldra baiser!”

Li Sarazin est durement nafrez;
Bien set que james en curt n’ert honurez.
Tient Mellee dunt li punt fu dorrez,
Ja ert a Otes si ruiste cops dunez
Si Deu n’en pense e la sue buntez,
Dunt Charles ert dolenz e si iriez!
Li bon convers n’est pas espuntez —
Ainz est plus fiers que liuns esfrenez.
Sur sun chief met sun fort escu listez,
Clarel i fiert cum humme forsenez,
Parmi le trenche, si n’a l’esclos ostez.
Le healme li fent, que a or bendez,
Desk’a la coife est li brant avalez.
Ne fust le halberc, que tant est serrez,
James pur juste ne serreit demandez.
Mes nepuroec, si forment est quassez
Parmi les mailles est li sanc volez.
“Par fei,” fet Otes, “trop est cist colp alez.
Ore vei jo bien que de rien ne m’amez!
Par seint Denis, ja tiert guerdunez
Par tel mesure, si bien ne vus guardez,
James pur mire ne serrez bien sanez.”

Otinel ruille les oilz de maltalent.
De Cureçuse li dune un colp pesant,
Vers la senestre li a jeté le brant,
De juste le col desur le halberc luisant,
Trenche les mailes e tut le quor en fent;
Desk’en la terre fait culer le brant.
Cil ne se poet mes tenir en estant;
Mort chiet a terre. L’alme s’en veit criant,
E Mahumet sun seingnur maldiant.
Otes escrie “Munjoie!” passe avant,
Paiens defi, pur amur Belisent.
Franceis sunt lé e sarazins dolant.

Li reis Garsie a mult tost entendu
Ke li paien est mort e abatu;
Tant est dulant, unques mes si ne fu:
“Oi, Clarel, cum jo t’ai perdu!
Cil qui t’a mort m’a el quor feru!
Fillie Alfamie, james n’averas tel dru.
Si ui nel venge, ne me pris un festu.”
Prent Dulcejoie sil sone par vertu.
Set milie gredles li respunent menu;
Vint millie sunt a primer chief eissu
(Ni ceus deriere n’en est nul cunte tenu)
Ki tuit manacent Charle le vielz chanu,
Rollant le cunte, e Oliver sun dru.

Nostre enperere a sa gent avistee,
Fist duze escheles de sa gent honuré,
Ki de bataille est tut dis aprestee.
A vint mile hummes est li menur aesmee.
Rollant est la primere liveré —
De ses de France, de combatre s’agree.
Paien averunt mult male destinee!

Le fiz Pepin a ordané sa gent,
Bien sunt armé, chascun a son talent.
Li reis chevalche sur un destrier ferant,
Par grant vertu as estrius sestent.
Naimun apele si li dit en riant:
“Duc debonaire, m’enseinie te cumant,
De tels servises m’avez fait, plus de cent.
Porte le, sire, si vus durrai Volant,
Mun bon destrier, que vus cuveitez tant.
De set chasteall vus vest hui, par cest guant;
A testmonie, pernez Guinemant,
Rotolt de Perche, e Gefrei le Normant.”
“Sire,” fait il, “tut a vostre cumant.
Pur bien porter n’i perdrez nient.”

Franceis se vont, lur ost conreer.
Otes se veit desuz un arbre armer;
Desçu de healme, l’estoet renuveler.
Mes Belisent li feit aporter.
Od lui se veit Gerin de Seint-Omer,
Fromund d’Artois, e Garin de Muntcler;
Adubez est, si remunte li ber.
Prist un enseinie pur Franceis comforter,
Lores comande ses olifanz soner,
E cil si font, mult haltement e cler;
Vers la batalle comencent a crier.
Ja esmuevent serré a paen assembler,
E lur compaingnies vers nos Franceis urner —
Tant en i a ne sai le numbre conter!
Lur estandart fait Garsie lever.
Dient paien, “Alum a cels juster,
Faisum nos lances en lur escuz hurter.”
Viengent avant cil leger bacheler,
Cil que de France se voldrunt enheriter,
As branz d’ascer la viengent aquiter:
“Nostre est le champ! Bien les poum mater!”

Noz Franceis chevalchent fierement,
E li paien mult orguillusement.
De l’ost s’en par un Turc privément,
Al rei Garsie a demandé le guant,
Del primer coup pur occire Rollant,
U Oliver, u Ote le vaillant.
Quel k’il encontre — n’irra altre querant —
Seit chier morut que li veit a talant.
De cheres armes est armé gentement;
De cunuissans semble bien Normant,
D’un drap de seie ke firent suliant
A tut cuvert sum halber reluisant,
E sis chevals, si qui ni piert nent
Li aligod vont a terre ferant.
Porte une mace en sun braz pendant,
K’il li duna al matin en riant
La fillie al rei Cursable d’Amiant.
Pur la pucele a pris tel hardement,
Dunt il murra devant midi sonant.
La hanste a reddé, e fer ja trenchant,
E gunfanun qui ventel al vent
Si est fermé a quatre clos d’argent.
Le cheval broche, li cheval se destent,
Envers le noz se vait espurunant.
En halt s’escrie, “Di va, u est Rollant?
Hui en cest jur vus frai mult dolant.
Cumbatrai, par mun cors sulement,
Que France est nostre e a Garsie apent,
Ne Charlemanie ni deit aver nient.
A tort est rei! Ore vien si le defend!”
Rodlant l’entent si a muetalent.
Envers le paien, se veit espurunant,
Lance lieve e trait l’escu avant.
Ja ert la juste de eus dous certeinement.
De nos Franceis vunt les reines fremissant,
Li plus hardi voldreit estre avant.

Martoires fiert Rollant en sun escu,
Desuz la bucle li a freint e fendu,
Trenche les mailles al fort espé mulu.
Pres del coste le li a abatu,
Suz la chemise de desur la charnu;
Sun destre escriu li a del pié tolu —
Enpeint le bien, mes ne li valt un festu.
La hanste brise, le quons l’a si feru
Desur l’arcel k’il le porte par vertu;
Ultre s’en passe li bon fer agu;
Mance d’armur ne halberc qu’ait vestu
Ne li valt mie encontre mort un festu.
Le piz li pierce, le quor li a fendu,
Enpeint le bien. Mort l’at abatu.
“Munjoie!” escrie. Paien l’unt entendu.
Dous moe li dit: “Bien vus ai conu,
James en France ni ert par vus plai tenu.
Charles a dreit! Vus l’avez perdu!”
Dist l’almuafle, ki maragunde fu,
“Par Mahumet, cesti avum perdu!
C’est Rollant ki’l nus a tolu.
Si jo nel veng mult serrai confundu!”

L’almuafle se leisse a Oliver,
E li quons broche Fauvel, sun bon destrier.
Li Sarazin fiert le fiz Reiner,
L’escu li pierce, si fait les espleier;
Cent mailles trenche del bon halberc dublier,
Que del costé li fait le sanc raier.
E li druz Charle le fiert par tel irrer
Ke sis escuz ne lui valt un denier,
Ne sis chevals la reinie d’un prunier.
E cors li met l’enseine de sirier,
Mort l’abatu deliez un rochier.
“Munjoie!” escrie. “Fierez i, chevaler!”
Des ore i fierent Franceis e Beiver,
E Loerenc, Aleman, e Puier,
Normans e Francs, Flemengs e Berrvier —
Mult ot grant bruit as enseignes-bessier.
Avant se traient cil lu, curage ont fier,
Mes li cuart n’orent il vet mester;
Li hardi funt les escuz piercer,
E les halbercs rumpre e desmailer;
Les hanstes reddes el vermeil sanc banier;
Murent e versent cil barun chevaler;
Estrae fuient cil auferant destrer.
Assez en prennent, cil curteis escrier.
Puis fu tel ure qu’il orent grant mester!

Quant ces fiers osz se furent a justees,
Fruissent ces hanstes e ces targes roees.
Aprés les lances, si sachent les espees,
Demaintenant dunent grant colees;
Trenchent ces healmes e ces bruinies afrees;
Morent e versent e crient ahees.
Dunc sunt del cors les almes deseverees,
Ki pur nul mire ni erent meis assemblees.

Del estandut ke out lievé Sarazin,
Sunt departi dis mile barbarin;
Celui n’i a n’ait halberc dublentin,
E sen e healme e gunfanun purprin,
Vermail u blanc u vert u samin.
Alfan les guie, un duc de Palestin.
Porte l’enseinie al rei Alepantin.
Manseis les fierent e mettent el chimin.
As arcs turkeis i treient Sarazin,
Lacent lur guivres e darz teint en venim.
Otes s’afiche a ses estrius d’or fin,
Par les en armes, prent l’escu belveisin,
Brandit sa lance al gunfanun sanguin,
Fait une puinte al rei de Palestin.
Parmi la targe fiert Alfan sun cusin,
Le halberc descire al bon fer ascerin,
Parmi le cors li met le fust fresnin,
Mort le tresturne, a la terre suvin.
E suus a justés Gefrei e Morin,
Huge de Seies e Boue le fiz Gauvin.
Gefrei a mort le fel de barbarin.
Huge de Seies a mort Balsadrin;
O de prist vengance d’un felun barbarin
K’a mis a mort Guineman de sa lin,
Mort le tresturne devant Alepantin.
“Munjoie!” escrie. “Ore a . . . . . . . .
Ni guarra mes, paien ne Sarazin!”

D’un munt avale li reis Corsabrez,
Une batalle ameine d’Atropez,
Dis mille sunt sis guie barbarez.
Desk’al ferir les meine tuz serrez.
Li quons Elins li est encontre alez
A quatre cent de Bretuns adurez.
Neel de Nantes vient tut afeltrez.
“Mallo!” escrie. “Francs chevalers, fierez!”
Gui de Custances i a Bigoz menez,
A set cent healmes les gunfanuns levez.
Ja i avera d’uns e d’altres palmez.
Troias li bers est a Malfruit justez;
Li paienz porte quatre darz enpennez,
Del un lance que plus est alcemez.
Par grant vertu la escus li malfez
A Troians treit mult bien l’at assenez,
Ke tut le fent si a les quirs severez;
Del bon halberc at les pleiz descloez,
Parmi la quisse est li darz volez.
Troiais le fiert cum vassal adurez;
Nel pot garir escu n’auberc saffrez,
Li fer de la hanste li est el cors entrez,
Mort l’abati. Si est ultre passez.
Meis al travers, l’a feru Corsabrez
Suz la mammele e parmi les costez,
Li a l’espleiz del gunfanun butez;
Le quor li fent, le vassal est versez.
Deus en ait. L’alme a la fin est alez.
Li quons Eleins vient, tut effreez —
Forment le pleint kar de sa soer esteit nez.
Ja le vengast bien del rei Corsabrez,
Mes a la traverse est venu Barbez.
Li quons Eleins s’est a lui turnez,
Brandist sa lance, dunt le fer est quarrez.
L’escu li perce k’est entur listez
A riches pieres e a or neelez.
Mort le tresturne si li dist, “Ore tenez!
Mielz vus venist k’ariere ussez estez!”
Bens est li jurs. Si est mult passez.
De la pudrere en est li airs trublez.
Paiens complissent si est . . . tez,
Cornent e crient si sunt grant taburez.
Je k’en dirai les noz ont fort quassez,
Plus d’un arpent, les noz ont si menez,
K’unques n’i out halberc n’escu turnez!
Lambert d’Averenches i est a mort liverez,
E Raul de Bleives de dous parz enpennez,
Ne vivera gueres, kar il en est pasmez.
Gui de Custances i a le chief colpez;
Tebald de Rues e del altres assez.
Ja cist damage n’en iert restorez!
Uns esquiers, qui a nun Amirez —
Vavassur est si est de Paris nez,
Fiz a Droun li Riche des fossez —
Cent damisals a od sei a justez,
Tut li plus viel n’a ke vint anz passez.
Armes ont prises des morz qu’il ont trovez,
De lur bliauz unt gunfanuns lievez.
Veient les noz venir tut effreez;
Passent avant sis ont returnez.
Par grant efforz ont paiens reculez
Quatre arpenz de terre mesurez.
Des abatuz e des acervelez
Est tut li champ plein e encombrez.
Lez un parei s’aresteit Corsabrez,
S’enseinie escrie, “Paien a mei estez!”
L’escu enbrace, vers les noz est alez.
Par grant vertu est as estrius fermez,
Ja eust les noz gravment desturbez,
Quant en l’escu l’a feru Amirez
Par teu vertu k’en sun frunt l’at entrez
Desuz le halme. A l’un des oilz quassez.
Li paien est del colp espontez;
N’en a sucurs — tut est abandunez!
Ignelement le saisist Amirez,
Treis bons vassals a l’emfes apelez:
Ço est Galdin e Fauchet li hastez,
E d’Aigremunt Baldewin la fiez.
“Franc esquier, icest rei me pernez.
Gardez ni mure ne ne seit afolez.
A Charlemeine, mun seingnur, le rendez,
E de ma part mult bel le presentez.”
E cil respunent, “Sicum vus comandez.”
Mult justent bien les noz as Atropez.
Desore est li travei tut mellez
Par le sucurs des novels adubez.
Cent i sunt i a des abatuz muntez,
Ke puis i ferent des bons branz ascerez.
Hue de Nevers est a Podras turnez,
C’est un paien fier e desmesurez —
De feluns est trestut si parentez.
Mesk’as dames est li fel acuntez;
Des puceles fu pleint e regretez.
En la cité fu grant doel demenez,
Assez a vi nos franceis empeirez.
Hues les fiert cum vassal espruvez;
Amunt el helme que fu a or bendez,
Desk’as espalles li est li branz alez;
Li cors chiet, i us ci faillent ses buntez.
“Mallo!” escrie les Bretuns aturnez.
“Deus aidez ore a Otes le senez!”
Ja seiserunt l’enseine barbarez
De ceste part fu li cham tut liverez,
Mes ne pot estre il est aliurs mellez:
Ja est al estandard treis feiz alez,
A quatre reis a les chefs colpez.

Li reis Garsie en a dit a Parant,
Un fel paien que Deu n’aime nient.
“Frere,” fait il, “mult m’esta malement.
De mes baruns dunt ai le quor dolent,
Ke Otes at occis, mes oilz veant.
Murrai de doel si jo mult halt nel pent,
Cil Charlemeine me meine malement,
Ke tient ma terre estre mun talent,
Corune porte sen mun comandement!
Si en bataille ne’l faz ui recreant,
James en France ne voil aver nient.”

“Sire,” fait il, “manacez ore forment:
Charles est pris! Veez le ci devant!
La sue flambe, vus veit mult aspresmant.
Grant pour ai de sun nevu Rollant,
Jo’l vi ui matin, tut aceleement,
U il feri sur le healme Balant —
Tut purfendi l’umme e l’auforant!
Tel pour oi ke m’en alai fuiant!”
Li reis apele Belduit d’Aquilant:
“Pernez des Turcs tant ke seiez cent;
Gardez les Turcs que nul n’alge fuiant.
Cil qui finera si li feites itant,
Que i a honur n’ait mes a sun vivant.”
Grant est la noise, mult sunt li cop pesant,
E la bataille mene estreitement.
Li quons Rollant veit les Persses cerchant;
A Durendal veit les reues deperçant.
K’il consuit, malveis luer li rent.
Mult fierent bien Beiver e Alemant,
E Burguniun e Flemeng e Normant.
Granz colps i rendent Franceis demeintenant,
Li puer fierent desmesurement
Al estandard — n’unt de fuir talant;
N’en aiment pas triwe n’acordement,
Ki entr’els chiet, mal li est cuvenant.
Ore espurune qui at hardement grant,
Garde sur destre, s’a véu Guinemant,
Qui ont abatu treis forz reis Persant —
Les dous a morz, li tierz se vait fuiant.
Prent un destrier si’l rent a Guinemant,
Li quons i salt k’arçun ne se prent.
“Sire,” fait il, “servise m’as feit grant.
Mar acointerunt paien tun hardement.
Vostre merci del bon destrer curant —
Mult m’unt tenu icil en destreit grant.”
Treit a l’espee dunt le punt fu d’argent,
Si fiert un Turc, ke la teste en prent.
Otes s’en vait “Munjoie” escriant,
A Curuçuse, les paens detrenchant.
Alsi les sent cum feit la nue le vent!
Trove Oliver e Estult e Rollant,
E Engeler e Garin le Normant,
Gefrei d’Anjou et Rotold l’Alemant,
Qui se combatent mult adurement.
E “Deu,” dist Otes, “Pere Omnipotent,
Tels compaingnuns aloue jo querrant!”
Ore sunt ensemble li chevaler vaillant.
Roillent lur armes cume fuldre qui fent.
As branz d’ascer funt tel marcelement
Cum l’um n’oreit Deu del ciel tonant.
Forment les dutent Arabi e Persant,
Les Melians e Turc e Affricant.
Li reis Garsie tremble entre sa gent.

Nostre emperere est as degrez alez
Pur sa grant gent k’entur li veit hertez.
Sore eust Ogier, ne feust mes irrez
En prisun est de chaenes liez.
Meis les mains a deliverés e les piez,
Parmi le gros del cors est atachiez,
Set chevalers le gardent bien preisez.
Ço dist Ogier, “Ces chaenes m’alaschiez —
En quor me blescent! Dehez ait qui en est lez!”
Ço dist li uns, “De folie parlez.
Kar, par Mahun, si vus nies en parlez,
Nus destreindrum e les mains e les piez,
Ja en ta vie mes leals ne serrez.”
Ogier l’oi, si en est mult irrez.
Prist une hastele, si se leva en piez,
Quatre at occis — par eus ne serra mes liez!
De la tur halte a les treis trebuchiez;
Quant aval vindrent, les cols orent brisez.
Brise les chaines si s’en est deliverez.

Quant est deliveré li bon Deneis Oger,
Al einz ke pot est venu al destrier,
En frene la (k’il n’i a esquier),
Bien est armé a lei de chevaler.
Quant munté fu, si cumence a huchier:
“A l’estur vois mes compaingnuns aider,
Désoremes dei les granz colps enpleier,
Demein vendrai tant m’en poiez preier.
Deu m’en defende de mal e d’encombrer!”
Ist de la porte, si broche le destrer,
Veit al estur tut un chimin plener.
Quant vint al champ, si i truva Garnier,
Rollant e Naimes e Otes e Galtier.
Grant joie funt, trestut le vout beiser.
Puis li demandent s’il est sein e entier.
Il lur respunt que sein est e legier —
Unques ni ert plus prest de ferir chevaler.

Quant sunt ensemble li justur,
Pur amur Ogier, fut un trestur.
Cent en ont mort a glaive e a dolur.
Veit s’en Garsie, al quor en a irrur —
Ne pot garir kar n’i a defendur.
Veit s’enfuiant senz vie de suiur,

Otes l’enchasce par un grant valee,
En sa main porte Curecçuse s’espee
En l’altre main la grant targe bendee.
E veit Garsie que se fuit a celee —
Pur encontrer a sa resdue tiree.
Quant il aprosme, si li dit sa pensee.

“Pur Deu,” dit il, “dite mei, sire reis,
Devez a nuit conreer ces Franceis,
Alez vuz querre le cras lard as peis?
Nel mangereient pur mil mars d’Orkeneis.
Altre mes feites: ço est manger a burgeis!”

Li reis Garsie est forment curuciez
Pur les paroles qu’il li a afichiez.
Le destrier broche des espuruns dorez,
Ja se feust bien d’Otinel vengez,
Quant le destrier cesta de quatre piez.
Volsist u nun, a terre est versez,
E sun braz destre parmi li est brisez.
Ainceis k’il peust relever en ses piez,
Li quons Rollant est a li aprosmez,
K’as mains le prent, unkes ne fu si lez!
Li reis s’escrie, “Baruns, ne mi tuchiez!
A vus me rent! La vie me dunez!”

Li dui barun ont le rei mené,
A Charles l’ont sempres presenté;
Il leva a Paris, sa cité, mené.
Francs ne s’ublient li vassal aduré.
Ainz ke feust vespre, u li solei culchie,
Urent le champ e prise la cité.

Quant l’um orra de itel messagier,
Bien deivent tuit pur s’alme prier —
Ke si aida paiens a traverser.
All who’d like to hear a beautiful song
With verses well-made and fine-sounding,
Be quiet now and come forward!
We’ll tell of the flower of noble deeds
By Pepin’s son, the noble warrior,
And the twelve peers who loved each other so dearly
That they never parted till the weighty day
When Ganelon betrayed them to the savage people.
In one day there died twenty thousand seven hundred
Of the baronage, for which Charles had profound sorrow.
These jongleurs never speak of this story at all;
They all ignore it because they know nothing
Of the hardship, and sing of other things —
Trivial words that they go on composing!
But none of them understands the great distress
That came upon Charlemagne so suddenly.

Lords, it occurred on Holy Innocents’ Day
At Paris in France. Charles of Clermunt
Held his full court there with the twelve peers.
Very great was the barons’ rejoicing.
They devised a plan that they’d go to Spain,
Vowing an oath against King Marsile.
It was after April, when the grass is fresh.
Before their talk’s done, they shall hear news
For which twenty thousand of our French will die,
Unless God attends to it, He who sustains all.

A Saracen from Spain named Otinel —
A messenger from Garsie, noble in bearing —
Rides through Paris at a full gallop.
When he arrives at the palace, he dismounts at the stone,
Climbs up the steps, and calls out for Charles.
He encounters Ogier, Gautier, and Naimes.
“Lords,” says the pagan, “show Charles to me.
I’m a messenger from a king who doesn’t like him.”
Gautier of Valois speaks first:
“See him there, where he sits, with the white moustache,
With the great beard and the ermine robe.
That one’s his nephew Roland with the crimson silk,
And on the other side look where his companion sits,
The noble count named Oliver.
Those around them are the twelve peers.”
“By Mahomet,” the pagan says, “now I see Charles.
May flames and hellfire burn his chin
So that his chest splits open down to his heels!”

The Saracen comes before the King.
“Charles,” he says, “now listen to me.
Understand that I’m a messenger from the best king
Who’s ever existed under pagan law.
I do not greet you — in truth, I must not —
For you’re offensive to Mahomet and me.
He whose law I believe in will destroy you
And all who surround you.
And as for your nephew Roland, whom I see here,
Should I ever encounter him in combat,
With my steed able to gallop toward him,
I intend to strike a sword stroke
Through his body — he’d be tough not to yield!”
Roland laughs and looks at the King.

“Brother Saracen,” says illustrious Roland,
“You can say anything you like —
You’ll not be touched by a Frenchman.”
“No,” says Charles, “because you request it,
As far as I’m concerned, he’s fully vouchsafed
From now until eight days have passed.”
Says Otinel, “Nonsense!
I fear no one born of a mother
So long as I have this sword by my side —
It’s Corçuse with which I was dubbed.
It’s been scarcely nine months since
I used it to behead a thousand Frenchmen.”
“Where was that, brother?” asks famous Charles.
Says Otinel, “I’ll tell you everything.
It was eight months ago, nine when I entered;
Destroyed was Rome, your mighty city,
Where you were proclaimed Emperor.
King Garsie captured it with his army,
Twenty thousand men by count;
So many men and then women
Did we kill there — no one escaped!
I killed so many with this sword by my side
That for eight entire days I had swollen fists.”
The French say, “Evil were you born!”
Estult of Lengres has risen to his feet,
Holding before him a squared-off staff.
He would’ve struck him, we know this well,
But Charles’ nephew moved to stop him,
And said to him, “Lord Estult, relax.
For my love, if you love me at all,
Since the pagan has gained surety from me,
Let him say whatever he wants.”
A knight who’d been reared badly sat there —
He was a Provençal born in Saint-Giles.
He went behind the messenger,
Grabbed him by the head with both fists,
Dragged him to the ground, for he hadn’t noticed him.
But Otinel quickly got back up
And drew out Corçuse with its gilded pommel.
Urged to strike him, he didn’t hold back:
His head lay severed near the King’s feet.
The French cry out, “Barons, seize him!”
Otinel darted to one side,
Rolling his eyes, raising his whiskers,
And resembling a chained-up lion.
He cries out loudly, “Barons, don’t move!
By the god to whom I’ve pledged myself,
Seven hundred will die if you make a move!”
The Emperor stood up on his feet,
And said to him, “Give me the sword.”
The pagan responds, “Nonsense!”
Then says Roland, “Give it to me;
You’ll have it back when you go.”
Says Otinel, “Good lord, then take it,
But I pray that you guard it well for me.
I’d never give it up for seven of your cities —
Moreover, it’s by it that your head shall be severed!”
Says Roland, “In faith, you go too far!
State your message, and then get going!”
“Gladly,” he says. “Now pay attention.”

“Charles,” he says, “I’ll hide nothing from you.
I’m a messenger from Emperor Garsie,
Who holds Spain, Alexandria, and Russia,
Tyre and Sidon, Persia and Barbary.
Through me he orders you to renounce Christianity —
Christianity’s not worth a bitter sorb-apple!
Instead serve Mahomet who guides the world;
Whoever fails to believe in him commits folly.
Become his men, you and your people,
And then proceed to rich King Garsie.
He’ll give you possessions and wealth,
Above all, he’ll leave you Normandy
And the ports and ships of England.
To your nephew Roland he’ll give Russia,
And Oliver will get Slovenia.
But he’ll grant you nothing of sweet France —
He’s given it to Florian of Syria,
Son of King Russet of Barbary.
There’s no worthier man in all heathendom,
Nor anyone more renowned for chivalry,
Nor better equipped to wield a sword.
He will hold France as his domain.”
Says the Emperor, “That will he never!
What say you, my household retainers?”
All the assembly cries out with one voice:
“Rightful Emperor, we will never allow
A pagan to have France as his domain.
Instead, gather your mighty army,
And then, as you like, lead us there
Till we find those rotten, loathsome men!
If we find King Garsie in battle,
He won’t be carrying his head any longer!”
Says Otinel, “Now I hear big boasting —
Such threats directed at Emperor Garsie,
That he’ll defeat him and rob him of life!
As soon as you see his magnificent army,
The bravest will have no urge to laugh;
They’ll wish instead to be in Normandy!”
Then speaks white-bearded Duke Naimes:
“If Charles assembles his mighty army,
Where might he find this rich King Garsie?
They will battle his large host there.”
Says Otinel, “Now I hear big boasting!
Seven times seven hundred thousand are already there,
With white hauberks of the lord’s insignia,
Who’ll never flee in fear for their lives.
They’ve established a city in Lombardy,
Constructed and built between two rivers.
The pagan army calls it Atelie.
God’s not created the man who can capture it
Or take their rivers and fields.
If white-bearded Charles comes there,
Then we will see who can win a sweetheart,
Who can do the best, furnished with a sword.
But you, unworthy sir, don’t ever come —
By my advice, stay in the city of Paris,
Where crows and magpies never come,
Because you’ll never succeed at chivalry!”
The Duke’s so insulted he can’t think what to say.

Count Roland rises to his feet,
Angry, nearly maddened with rage.
He takes three steps toward the pagan,
And says to him, “Unbridled villain,
You’ve taunted and boasted too much today,
By your arrogant words said to Frenchmen.
Indeed, by He who suffered on the Cross,
You’d already be dead if you weren’t vouchsafed.
But should we ever meet in battle,
I’ll give you such a blow with my sword
That no Frenchman will ever be bothered by you!”
Says Otinel, “Obviously,
A battle should be set, if you dare —
I call you to the field tomorrow morning!”
And Roland says, “Pledge this to me.”
Says the pagan, “Take my pledge,
My promise, and all my loyal honor,
That whoever defaults be named a coward
And have the spurs removed from his boots;
Never again should he be honored in court.”
They pledge their oaths and are sworn to each other.

King Charles of Saint-Denis says this:
“Saracen, brother, by the faith you live under,
Of what lineage are you in your country?
What’s your name? Tell me, by your faith.”
“Otinel, lord,” the Saracen says,
“I’m the son of fierce-eyed King Galien —
More men are dead, killed by his hands,
Than a man might find in all these lands.
King Garsie’s my first cousin;
My uncle was the noble Fernagu,
The one from Nazareth killed by Roland.
He’ll be brought to account for that tomorrow.”
And the King says, “Indeed, you are noble!
Alas, for your body, that you’ve not been baptized.”

The King calls for his chamberlain Renier:
“Come forth. Take this messenger,
And bring him to Garnier’s inn.
Give the host a hundred sous for his food,
And give him some more for his horse.”
Then he calls for the old white-haired Riquier,
Gautier of Lyons, and Ogier the Dane.
“Look after this knight,” he says,
“And supply him fully with whatever he needs.”
That night they leave him there
Until morning. When daylight appears,
Charles arises and has Roland summoned.
They’ve gone to the chapel to pray.
The Abbot of Saint-Omer sings Mass.
Charles has a golden goblet brought in,
Filled entirely with Parisian coins.
He and the twelve peers make their offerings.
Roland offers Durendal his bright sword;
He gives seven marks to redeem it.
After Mass the hours are sung.
They leave the church and then go to observe
The Saracen who’s come to speak to the King.

The Saracen approaches with haughty pride.
He calls to the King, speaking fiercely to him.
“Lord King,” he says, “where’s Roland,
Your nephew whom you love so much,
In whom the French are so very confident?
I call him an oathbreaker and a forswearer
If he does not hold to my pact,
Made by us before the whole court!”
At these words the count advances,
Thoroughly angry and wholly irritated:
“By the apostle tortured with pain,
I won’t hesitate for anyone alive
To reduce you to silence,
Defeated or vanquished, dead or forsworn!”
Responds Otinel, “Then do it!
Take up your arms by our agreement;
If I fail you, then hang me! I grant you this.”

Says Oliver, “You talk too proudly,
And you don’t mince words —
It’d be amazing if any good comes your way!”
The eleven peers take Roland aside.
On his back they place a mail hauberk;
The chain is thick, both before and behind.
On his head they lace a bright green helmet.
It was the helmet of the giant Goliath;
Charles took it when he killed Brachant.
Then they bring him keen-edged Durendal.
About that sword enough’s already been said;
All know it well, commoners and aristocrats —
There’s none so good from here to the Orient.
Valuing it greatly, the count girds it on.
Around his neck they hang a heavy shield,
Painted with blue, gold, and yellow hues.
Around the rim race the four winds,
The twelve signs, and also the months,
As if each contains all the others.
And there are the depths of the oceans,
The earth and the sky encompassed,
And the sun positioned very carefully.
The strap was made of Persian cloth,
And the board was made by a German.
They bring him then a strong, sharp sword,
His stiff lance, and his noble pennon
Tinted red and blue up to the grip.
Count Gerins efficiently straps on his shoes.
Into the courtyard they lead in Bruiant,
Who races faster than an arrow flies;
God never made any beast as swift
And as able to go straight an arpent’s length!
The saddle was made of crystal and silver,
The undersaddle of an Oriental cloth,
And the stirrups of finely worked gold.
The count mounts there so gracefully
That he grips neither stirrup nor saddlebow.
He sprints forward in front of everyone,
Then returns laughing toward Charles.
“Lord,” he says, “I ask your leave.
Should the pagan approach, I think
He’ll not be spared from death by my hand!”
“Nephew,” says the King, “I commend you to Him
Who made the sky and all this world.”
He raises his hand and blesses Roland.
The count rides off at a full gallop.
After him go maidens and children
Who all say to him: “I commend you to Jesus.
May holy Mary protect you from death!”
The eleven peers quickly mount;
They lead Roland between two rivers:
One is the Seine, the other the great Marne.
The messenger comes to stand before the King.
He calls fiercely to the Emperor:
“Charles,” he says, “I request a hauberk,
Shield and helmet, and a keen sword;
But I have a warhorse, strong and swift;
There’s none better from here to the Orient,
And my sword’s blade cuts well.
By my faith, I promise you truly
That by prime I’ll have settled accounts with Roland!”
Hearing him, Charles can barely speak.
“Pagan,” he says, “May heaven’s God confound you,
For you’ve made me furious and vexed.”
The King looks toward his daughter Belisant,
Who issues from her chamber into the courtyard.
The entire palace shines with her beauty.
The King calls her, then signals with his glove.
“Daughter,” he says, “I commend this pagan to you.
Arm him well, quickly and straightaway.
He’s taken up battle with my nephew Roland.
See that he not be impeded by his arms.”
“Lord,” she says, “just as you please,
The Saracen will be nobly armed;
He’ll lose nothing there on account of his arms.”

Belisant calls to Flandrine of Muntbel,
And the maiden Rosette of Runel.
These three damsels lead Otinel away.
On his back they fastened King Samuel’s hauberk
And the aventail with a beautiful clasp —
With this Flandrine of Muntbel attaches it.
On his head they lace Galatiel’s helmet,
Quartered with flowers and enamel,
And a nosepiece fastened with a bird.
Charles’ daughter, with a maiden’s heart,
Attaches the sword of great King Akael.
It is Corçuse, which cuts like a knife;
It will swing today toward Roland’s brain —
King Charles has nobody else as noble!
On his neck they hang a strong new shield,
White as snow below the rim.
The boss is gold, the studs are silver.
There’s good iron, and a new pennon
That sports a painted bird, white as a flower;
Between its feet it carries a young dragon,
With a small emblem on its wristbands.
A set of spurs fully worth a castle
Were placed on his feet by Rosette of Runel.
The saddle is placed on the speedy Migrados,
Who races more swiftly than an arrow flies.
The good warhorse sees the young man;
He whinnies and paws — he knows Otinel well.
He leaps up on him, who knows more about jousting
And battles than a smith knows a hammer!

The Saracen mounts his warhorse,
Sprints forward and then returns.
He goes straight toward Belisant.
“Noble maiden, I’m equipped well.
If I find Roland, he’ll be dead or wounded.”
The maiden says, “Watch out for Durendal!
If you don’t defend yourself well with Corçuse,
Never again will you capture a city.”
At these words the messenger turns away.
Ogier the renowned Dane leads him,
And Dukes Naimes goes with them.
They lead him to a meadow between two rivers.
The King has gone to the high windows,
And calls the twelve peers to him.
“Lords,” he says, “come with me;
Make all the French leave the meadow.”
Two of them do this and clear the meadow.
Charles cries out, “Start your fight now!”
Says Otinel, “I am ready!”

Roland said to the false-believing pagan,
“From this time forward I challenge you.”
The pagan said, “And I challenge you too.
Protect yourself, for I bear you no love:
I impugn you for the death of my uncle Fernagu!”
Roland lets the good warhorse Bruiant charge,
Otinel the swift Migrados:
They spur the horses fiercely.
Between the noise and the tumult,
Both meadow and ground tremble.
They brandish their lances and meet fiercely,
Their banners blowing in the wind.
They deliver great blows upon shield-fronts;
They split both shafts and leather,
But the hauberks are tight and firm.
The mail doesn’t fail, the links don’t slacken.
The keen iron pushes against their chests.
They both smash their lances repeatedly.
The valiant knights exchange blows,
And neither one loses a thing.
“God,” says the King, “I’m wholly amazed
How this pagan endures against Roland!”
Belisant says, “My armor is good,
And its bearer is neither cowardly nor slow.”
Roland grasps the keen-edged Durendal,
Striking Otinel on the shiny helmet
So that ornaments and gems fall to the ground,
And he’s cut away the front of his nosepiece.
With another blow he strikes the racing warhorse,
Completely severing its head from its neck.
As his horse fails him, the pagan
Declares outright: “By Mahomet, Roland,
You’ve committed a terrible disgrace
In killing my warhorse for no cause!
For what you’ve asked of my fine steed,
Now yours must nevermore amuse itself!”
From his scabbard he draws mighty Corçuse,
Grasps his shield and leaps forward;
He strikes Roland on his shiny helmet
So that his nosepiece falls to the ground.
The blow falls in front of his saddlebow,
Splitting both wood and saddlecloth;
He slashed through Bruiant’s shoulders,
And sliced the blade down to the ground.
Loudly he cries, “This is not a useless blow!”
“God,” says the King, “That blow was weighty!
Blessed Mary, protect Roland for me!”
Were the count to fall, it wouldn’t be surprising.
He holds his sword and grips it mightily,
Strikes the pagan on his burnished helm
So that a quarter of it falls off;
He slices the links of his mail hauberk,
And takes off a good part of the shield’s edge,
Splitting the strong shield down to the boss.
He almost killed, conquered, or maimed him,
But Otinel has tremendous courage.
He attacks mightily with Corçuse,
And Roland attacks back with his sharp blade.
With Durendal he deals him quick strokes.
They hit each other with blows behind and before.
Against the swords, hauberks aren’t worth anything —
Links glitter and shine on the ground!
Belisant says, “Now they fight nobly.
This battle won’t last a long time at all
Because the vassals are so very brave.
Durendal slashes extremely well for Roland,
But Corçuse is every bit as good!”
“God,” says the King, “how my heart fails me!”
With a sign of the Cross, he turns to God in the east,
And very nobly utters a prayer:
“God, Lord and King over all people,
May You protect my dear nephew Roland for me,
And convert the young soldier Otinel,
So that he may be baptized upon his head.”
He kisses the ground, then rises,
And leans his head forward out the window
To watch the barons battle nobly.
They don’t have enough of their shields left
To cover the front of their chests.

Roland says to the pagan, “Now give up Mahomet
And believe in God who suffered the Passion.
Baron, if you do it, you’ll receive a fine gift:
Belisant, King Charles’ daughter.
She’s my cousin; I give her to you as a gift,
And you and I can be comrades forever,
And Oliver will join with us.
Then we’ll conquer castles and strongholds;
No borderland, city, or good Gascon castle
Will ever be worth a spur more than you.”
Says Otinel, “Now I hear a fool speak —
He who made you a clerk must be ashamed!
But I’ll be a master to teach you a lesson,
It seems, before we separate:
I’ll give it to you on your burnished helm
Till you’re unable to say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”

Charles’ nephew feels nothing but anger.
His power is marvelous and strong;
He grips Durendal with the gilded hilt,
And strikes warrior Otinel on his helmet,
Attacking it with iron and steel.
Otinel deflected the stroke, knowing well the art;
The blow landed near his shoulder,
Cutting through links of his shiny doublet,
Crushing everything down to the neck,
But it wasn’t able to touch the flesh.
The powerful blow made the pagan double up;
It almost knocked him to his knees.
The French cry out, “That’s a knightly blow!”
Most of them say about the courtly messenger
That he’s been beaten and can’t help himself,
But little do they know the warrior Otinel,
The son of fierce-eyed King Galien!
He leaps up and goes to repay the blow;
Should the King’s nephew not guard himself,
He’ll never again strike a knight.

The Saracen has changed color,
Rolling his eyes like a deranged beast.
He grips Corçuse, raises his hand,
And suddenly strikes Charles’ nephew
On his golden helmet, set right before him.
He deals him a blow with so much force
That Roland’s head was nearly split from his body.
As soon as he turns Corçuse in his fist,
He quickly deals him another blow.
The sword strikes between body and shield,
Cutting the shield above his arms
So that it falls to his feet in the field.
He hits the apron of Roland’s fine hauberk,
Gliding his sword down to the ground.
Pulling it back, Otinel cries out,
“By Mahomet, my blade slices well!”

The knights look fiercely at each other,
Preparing themselves for heavy blows;
They slash hauberks behind and before,
And the links of mail are in little bits;
Little remains of their shields
By which to cover their chests.
The French all turn toward the east,
Fearing greatly for their lord Roland.
They pray to God that He send them aid,
Either peace or truce or a good breaking-off.
With these words a dove comes flying,
Where Charles and all his people see it.
The Holy Spirit descends upon Otinel,
Who declares outright: “Draw near, Roland.
I don’t know what thing’s come flying before me
That’s transformed my mind and my will.
I call an immediate end to this battle.
Out of love for you I shall accept baptism.
I now call on blessed Mary to protect me.”
Roland hears him, then laughingly says to him,
“Noble lord, is this your desire?”
Says Otinel, “I tell you truly,
I here abandon Mahomet and Tervagant
And Apolin and loathsome Jove.”
Throwing their swords on the green grass,
The two knights embrace.
“God,” says the King, “great is Your power!
It appears that they’ve reached an accord.
Let us go over there, brave French knights.”
And they hurry there as fast as they can —
The King gallops there himself.
“Good nephew,” he says, “what’s your agreement?”
“Lord,” he says, “he’s treated me quite nobly,
For I’m all sound and haven’t been injured,
Even though I’ve fought with the finest fighter
Who’s ever been among pagan people.
But thankfully we’ve so managed it
That he wants Christianity and baptism.
Receive him, good lord, by moving forward
And giving him the honor he deserves
And, above all, your daughter Belisant.”
“God,” says the King, “now I’ve got what I hoped for:
It’s the prayer I was praying!”
Then the brave knights disarm themselves.
Roland mounts a swift warhorse,
And Otinel an ambling mule,
And they gallop toward the city.
Now they hasten to the baptism.

They led him to the Monastery of St. Mary.
Turpin of Reims has donned the stole,
Opens the psalter and says the litany.
They approach the font. He blesses and sanctifies him.
Great is the gathering of knights
On behalf of worthy Otinel, who accepts baptism.
White-bearded Charles leads him,
And also the worthy Girard of Normandy.
They leave him his name, don’t change it at all.
He is baptized and has abandoned his faith.
The lovely Belisant appears quickly,
More beautiful than the flowering rose.
Bearded men guide her to Charles.
The King takes her by the low-hanging sleeve.
“Daughter,” he says, “you’re blushing!
He who’ll possess you in one night
Must never have thoughts of cowardice;
He must to be a man worthy of knighthood.
And he’ll be the one, should God preserve his life,
Of whom the French are the most envious.
Godson,” he says, “Your faith’s now complete:
You’re baptized and you’ve renounced your old faith.
Take my daughter Belisant as your betrothed.
For her, I give you Vercelli and Morie,
Ault and Plesence, Milan and Pavia:
You shall be lord of all Lombardy.”
Otinel hears him and bows to the ground;
He kisses his feet with great humility.
“Lord,” he says, “I’ll not at all refuse
If the maiden so commands and assents.”
Says Belisant, “I consider myself well cared for;
With a good husband nothing will burden me.
My love will never be withdrawn from you.”
Says Otinel, “When you are my betrothed,
I will wage war for your love
Before Atelie, with my steel sword.
Now that I’ve been baptized, pagans are dead!
Rightful Emperor, I entrust my betrothed to you
Until we come to the plains of Lombardy.
Our nuptials shall take place in the fields around Atelie
After I’ve killed Emperor Garsie.”

The King ascended to his hall.
His grand baronage followed after him.
The food was prepared and soon served;
Those being served ate it heartily.
After dinner, wine was brought
Into the room the King had entered.
They’ve gone to sleep, closing their eyes
Till morning when the sun has risen.
The King arises and calls for his barons,
Mounting a dais of juniper wood.
He holds a gold-gilded sceptre.
“Lords,” Charles says, “listen a moment.
Advise me as you ought,
About King Garsie, of whom you’ve heard,
Who has entered my land by force,
Burned my castles and invaded my cities.
He’s now destroying holy Christianity.
Should we go there as soon as possible,
Or wait until winter has passed?”
Say the French, “What you propose isn’t possible —
We’re not prepared now nor can we quickly go;
It will have to be the later time.”
“Thus will it be,” says Charles, “as you please,
In the beginning of April when March is over.
Now, for my love, prepare yourselves.”
Say the French, “As you command.”

Our Emperor has his summons written —
Sending messengers throughout the empire —
That none of his knights should hold back,
Or footman or fighter or bowman
Not come; and anyone who cannot come
Must remit four deniers to Saint-Denis.
Now December passes and January is over,
February, March, and soft weather arrives.
Our fierce Emperor is in Paris.
The twelve peers — Roland and Oliver,
And Ansels, Girard, and Engeler,
Estult of Lengres and Turpin and Girier,
Baron Bertoloi and the warrior Otinel,
Duke Naimes and Ogier the Dane —
Lean their heads out the large windows.
They see Germans and Bavarians arrive;
Lorrainers with courageous ferocity;
And Poitevins and Provençal warriors;
Burgundians, Flemings, and men of Puy;
From Normandy comes the flower of knighthood.
Bretons arrive with wooden shields,
And lead mighty warhorses on the right.
Among all of them only four are squires —
If they show their skill, they’ll be made knights.
They gather by the thousands below Montmartre.

On the first day of April at the rising of dawn,
King Charles and his horsemen mount.
They leave Paris and go to Saint-Denis,
Where they take leave, going on their way.
Their ladies weep and curse Garsie;
Horns sound; warhorses whinny.
Now the King travels as far as Lombardy,
With Duke Roland guiding the vanguard;
At the rear is white-bearded Naimes.
But Otinel doesn’t want to leave his betrothed.
Belisant mounts a Hungarian mule
That can travel at a trot more quickly
Than a galley or ship moves on the sea.
She has seven hundred under her command,
All young men of great skill.
They exit France, leaving behind Burgundy;
The brave company passes through Mungiu,
Leaving the mountains, coming to Morie
They pass below Vercelli by ship
And, climbing Muntferant, they see Atelie —
The strong city where the hated people are.
They set up camp below Munpoun,
On the plain beside the Ton River.

Our Emperor orders the French to halt;
At the Ton River he orders encampment;
For a full twenty days he orders them to rest.
They give their horses care and repose,
And treat and tend to their own ailments.
Pepin’s son wishes to neglect nothing,
So in the meantime he orders a bridge built
Over which the French will be able to pass.
Our noble Emperor stands on the bridge,
And orders the supports be strengthened
With steel bands of iron and solder.
Men can now safely cross the finished bridge.
The French head to their lodgings to eat,
But Roland hurries to arm himself
In such a way that no peer knows of it
Other than Oliver and Ogier the Dane.
The three arm themselves in the shade of a laurel,
Mount their warhorses, pass over the bridge,
And start to ride off toward the city.
But before it happens that these three return,
The bravest will have lots to ponder —
He’d not be there for a bushel of pure gold!

Outside of Atelie, a good league away,
Are four kings of the pagan host.
They’ve set out alone, taking a break,
Each one armed as he chooses.
Here are their names, if the song doesn’t lie:
The first is Balsami, king of Ninivent;
The next is Corsable, a king of dissolute people,
Who’s never given allegiance to anyone living;
The third one’s name is Askanart the tyrant,
Who’s strong and hardy, ferocious and huge —
He’s killed a thousand with his sharp-edged sword;
The fourth is Clarel with the laughing face —
There’s none more handsome; he shines like the sun!
There’s none anywhere who’d challenge him to joust,
None so sturdy that, were Clarel to deal him a blow,
He’d not be killed or cut down bleeding.
They travel across the fields, letting their horses run,
And fiercely threatening Oliver and Roland,
While swearing to god to let them live long enough
To lead their army into sweet France!
Never would Charlemagne be protected from them;
Against the twelve peers, they’ll do as they please!
Then says Clarel with the laughing face,
From whose menace none may escape:
“I’ve heard much praise given to Roland,
That none is as worthy from here to the Orient,
And that no one can be safe against his sword,
But I pray to my gods, Mahomet and Tervagant,
That, should I ever get to try him out,
I may deal him a blow with my sharp sword
Right on his head, upon his shiny helmet.
It would slice mightily down to his teeth!
I have a righteous cause and no reason to love him,
For he killed Samson of Muntbrant,
Lord of Pamplona, in a tournament.
He was my brother, which breaks my heart —
I’ll die of sorrow if I don’t avenge my brother!”
The Frenchmen ride stealthily
Below a woods called Forestent.
They hear noise and halt at once.
Count Roland sees them first.
“Lords,” he says, “now things go nobly!
Look at the pagans near that leaning rock.
There are only four by my count;
Here we can joust quite comfortably,
Thanks be to Almighty God.”
And they answer, “Just as you please.”
They set lances in sockets, aimed forward,
And gallop toward the pagans.
Clarel looks to the east
And sees the counts charge ferociously;
He calls at once to his companions:
“Lords,” he says, “muster your courage!
I see three knights approaching over there;
Let’s meet them! You know what they want!”
And they let loose without restraint;
They said nothing and asked nothing
Of who they are, where they’re from, what they want,
But with their lances they strike forcefully.
Askanart strikes Roland’s shield,
Shattering and splitting it above the boss;
The mailshirt is strong, doesn’t break at all.
He breaks his lance high on the iron in front.
The count strikes him so sharply
That his hauberk’s worth nothing to him;
He cracks the breastplate and splits his heart,
Knocking him dead off his racing warhorse.
Then said Roland, laughing,
“Son of a whore, you’ve met Roland!
You who now charged so hardily!”

Corsable jousts with Ogier the courteous,
Dealing him a huge blow on his wood shield,
Which passes through his silk standard,
Cutting thirty-three links from his hauberk,
And thrusting the Galician iron along his side;
It prods well, but to him it’s not worth a pea.
Ogier immediately strikes him on his shield,
Placing the Galician iron mid-armor;
To him his good hauberk’s not worth a pea.
He thrusts the gold-adorned standard into his body,
Twists him down dead from the Spanish warhorse.
He returns to speak some courteous words:
“Son of a whore, this is Ogier the Dane.
King Charles loves me for striking blows like this!”

Oliver jousts with the king of Ninivent —
Balsami who’s so very bold
That a lion is displayed on his shield.
But Oliver strikes him so directly
On the round shield that it splits down the middle —
His mailshirt’s now worthless to him.
He stabs with his banner straight through his body,
Knocking him from his horse, dead and bloody.
Then Oliver says, “I consign you to the devil!”
As he turns to go back, Clarel arrives at a gallop —
He plans to take vengeance for the pagan.
Oliver awaits the blow,
But Charles’ nephew crosses in front.
Clarel strikes him on the front of his shield —
His good mailshirt has saved him from death!
Then his good warhorse lifts its front hooves
And recoils, and Clarel pursues it
Till Roland’s warhorse falls dead in a heap.
Clarel loudly shouts his war cry, “Naimant!”
And intends to flee toward the city,
But the Dane has ridden in front of him,
Dealing him a huge blow with his keen sword
Amid the breastplate of his shiny hauberk —
His good mailshirt doesn’t fail or stretch.
Close to a hill Ogier knocks him off his steed.
Oliver grabs the good warhorse as it’s running
And, coming to Roland, hands him its reins.
“Lord,” he says, “mount quickly!
On Ogier’s behalf, I give and present it to you —
It’s better than yours. I think it’s worth a hundred!”
The count leaps on without grabbing the bow.
Meanwhile the pagan has stood up,
Drawing his sword, the keen-edged Mellee,
And grasping his shield to defend himself well.
Roland draws the magnificent Durendal.
He intends to give him a sudden blow,
But the pagan thrusts forward his shield,
And the sword cleaves it as it strikes.
Clarel fights hard, but it’s of no use:
“Lords, I ask you to grant me my life;
Take me alive — you’ve won a great prize.
Which of you is in charge, to receive my sword?”
He yields his sword; Count Roland takes it.
Then they convey him on the black warhorse
Upon which the king of Ninivent was killed.

The companions withdraw from the joust;
Having captured Clarel, they plan to return
And present him to Charlemagne.
But before they can travel a league,
They’ll have to handle another matter,
For Saracens are returning from prayer —
Fifteen hundred, as well as one can guess.
They hear horns and trumpets,
And see helmets sparkle in succession,
And banners fluttering on high.
Roland sees them and begins to whistle,
Standing upright in his stirrups.
The count starts to make a vow to Ogier:
“By that Lord who has Himself called God,
If I’m able to engage them with Durendal,
You’ll see me kill and cut up so many
That the news will spread beyond the sea.”
“Lord barons,” Oliver says to them,
“I’ve heard wise men say that
A man cannot protect himself from all evils,
Nor can a man live always without battle,
And just when a man believes he’s found happiness,
Then is he the nearest to distress.”
“Truly,” says Ogier, “that man has trouble ahead,
And he’ll have cause to be frightened.
Look at the pagans! We cannot avoid them!
We’ll need to pass among their lances.
Each of us must now show his prowess.
Because this man’s been captured, he mustn’t be killed;
Since we can’t very well lead him to the King,
He might still yet be able to reward us today.”
And Clarel says, “A noble heart makes you speak.”

“Lord Roland,” says the noble Ogier,
“You’re strong and brave, hardy and fearsome,
And illustrious in battle,
And Oliver is a proven knight,
And I myself have escaped from many ordeals.
Look at the pagans! We cannot avoid them,
And we can’t expect help from anyone else.
Whoever doesn’t fight now is a proven coward.”
They cry out “Mountjoy!” and make battle vows
That soon there will be many dead and wounded.

Roland strikes a pagan named Berruier,
Blacker than a mulberry on a mulberry tree;
He drops him dead in the middle of a path.
And Oliver strikes Balsan of Montpellier;
And the Dane jousts with the Saracen Motier.
They strike them dead; they were the first.
They killed three with their applewood lances,
And then they drew their steel swords.
Roland proceeds to slice them with Durendal,
Overthrowing them one by one.
The pagans find Oliver very ferocious —
He made such a path with Halteclere
That they could easily drive four carts through it.
The good Dane does much that’s praiseworthy;
He doesn’t want to stop striking hard:
Drawing Curteine and spurring his warhorse,
He made the heads of thirty pagans fly.

Then there arrived Carmel of Tabarie,
A Saracen who led all the others.
He’s well armed and seated on Pennepie.
He cries out loudly in his language:
“What are you doing? Mahomet curse you!
What shall we tell Emperor Garsie —
That so great an army was shamed by three men?
I’ll take the life of one of the three now.”
He spurs his warhorse, brandishes his lance,
And strikes Ogier on his decorated shield,
Crushing and piercing it above the boss.
His good mailshirt’s not worth a fig.
Carmel thrusts the Orcanie standard into his body,
Knocking him down wounded, despite everything.
Roland sees it, despite everything,
Strikes him on his Buzie helmet,
Splitting straight through its protection.
“Villain,” he says, “God of heaven curse you!
You’ve robbed me of a good warrior’s company!”
Across the field spurs Alfage of Nubia,
A Saracen whom the Lord God curses,
And a kinsman of the beautiful Alfamie —
This very morning she’d promised him love service,
And he promised knightly blows.
Should God, holy Mary’s son, not pay attention,
He’ll soon inflict great harm upon them.
He strikes Oliver on his Saracen-made mailshirt;
It’s a strong hauberk that saves his life.
He strikes him down but doesn’t pierce him at all.
The count gets back up and leaps upon Pennepie,
The good warhorse of Carmel of Tabarie.
He calls out loudly to his companion,
“Lord Roland, don’t be dismayed!
To you I’ve pledged my vow
Not to fail you as long as I live.”
Now begins the noise and disturbance
Between our French and the pagans.

The worthy Dane hastens to get back up;
The crush is so thick he can’t mount his bay horse.
Then he starts to look upon his sword:
“O Curteine, much do I love you;
You’re praiseworthy in Charles’ court.
Today you and I be must parted,
But, before I die, I want to test you.”
He strikes a pagan on his bright helmet,
Causing the blade to slice to his teeth.
He calls upon Roland, but the baron doesn’t hear
Because he has so much on his mind
That he doesn’t know which way to turn.
Saracens and Slavs attack Ogier,
Who defends himself nobly and bravely.
King Clarel sees him greatly distressed
By savage sword blows raining upon him.
He shouts out, “Pagans, leave him alone!
Yield yourself, Ogier. Don’t be afraid —
You can rely on me with confidence.
You’ll come to no harm so long as I can help.”
Says the emir, “You can’t protect him;
Soon you’ll see his limbs all hacked up!”
Clarel hears him and at once feels enraged;
He draws his sword, moving to deal him a blow
So that amid the field his head goes flying.
Then he says to him, “Leave Ogier alone.”
He brings the warhorse and lets the duke mount;
He orders that eight Saracens be summoned,
Very loyal members of his own household.
“Lords,” he says, “prepare now to travel.
Tell my betrothed to have Ogier watched over.”
He delivers him and then has them depart.
His wounds cause him to swoon frequently.
The king’s daughter, Alfamie with the fair face,
Has entered a garden to amuse herself,
Bringing with her Guaite and Belamer.
They see the pagans pass through the gate,
And say to each other, “Let’s go speak with them
To ask and learn about their courage.”

Alfamie says, “You barons standing here,
Tell us now your news.
Where did you encounter this knight?
Was he taken by joust or wounded in battle?”
“Noble maid,” says an old emir,
“Why do you mock us, by Mahomet?
Our hearts are already so deflated
That we don’t need to be laughed at.”
“What did he do? Don’t hide it from me.”
And they say, “He’s a proven madman.
He and two others have so handled us
That a hundred pagans have been beheaded.
Clarel, your wise sweetheart, requests
That, for his love, you guard this one well.”
The maiden says, “Return now
To capture the others and bring them to me.”
The pagans respond, “It will happen as before!”
Then she says to the count, “Now that you’ve come,
I promise you’ll have good lodging.
What’s your name? Among whom were you born?”
“My name’s Ogier the renowned Dane.
My kinsmen are in Charles’ court.”
The maiden says, “Now I know who you are.”

These three maidens have led Ogier
Into a courtyard beneath an olive tree.
They first take care of the warhorse,
And then disarm the courteous knight.
One takes his helmet, the other his steel sword,
From his back they remove his fine double-ring hauberk.
They wash his wounds, then have him lie down.
They give him food spiced with a sweet herb
That God himself planted in His garden.
Its name is “heal-all,” so much do men value it.
He falls asleep quickly, having great need of rest.
When he wakes up, he feels entirely refreshed
And healthier than a plum on a plum tree.
Let us now leave here the courteous Ogier,
Who has plenty of whatever he needs.
Let’s speak of Duke Roland and of Oliver,
Who are battling with steel swords.
There are still a thousand pagans there.
They can no longer fight off the great blows —
It’s not surprising that they’d run away.
Fleeing, they take an open path,
While pagans chase them to sever their heads.
Meanwhile Otinel asks about the counts,
And figures out when they can’t be found
That they’ve gone off to Atelie to joust.
He hurries at once to arm himself,
And to bring seven hundred with him,
Of whom even the worst could defeat a king.
He mounts his horse and informs the King:
“Lord, order the French to arm quickly!
We’re going to prepare and set up the siege,
For your nephew’s taken me for a coward —
This morning he went out to joust.
If trouble comes to him, who’d be responsible?
He desires too eagerly to be praised above all!
But, by He who has Himself called God,
If I can meet with Saracens today,
You’ll surely hear me cry “Mountjoy!”
And I’ll give such savage blows with my sword
That we’ll never again have to speak of Roland.”

Our Emperor ordered a trumpet sounded.
The French arm themselves and then cross the bridge.
It’s given to Duke Samson to carry the standard.
You could see so many flags raised,
So many upright lances, so many flowing pennons,
That God never created a man who could count them.
The skilled young knights stand strong;
Some begin to boast in support of others,
To strike savage blows upon the Saracens.
Seven hundred youths depart from the army,
All kept by Belisant at her table.
Otinel spurs Flori, his warhorse,
Riding an arrow-flight’s length in front of others.
He’s thoroughly armed according to chivalric law.
His fine coverings of Turkish cloth
Weigh barely as much as four psalter leaves —
One mightn’t lighten them by even a whit.
Neither fire nor flame might do them harm,
And whoever has just a penny’s weight of them,
No matter how he might be injured or wounded,
Would feel totally healthy and sound.
Charles’ daughter, worthy of much praise,
Gave them to him with King Gautier’s standard.
He meets Roland at the outlet of a fish pond,
And begins by greeting him contrarily:
“Lord,” he says, “have you come from fishing?
Do you think that you alone can eat all the pagans?
Both of us will have enough to gnaw on there.
Turn around now and take vengeance;
The pagans are dead if they choose to chase me.”
He looks to the right and sees trouble
Coming from one who pursued Oliver.
He’d already injured his warhorse
So that blood flowed from seven wounds;
He was direly in need of help!
Otinel spurs Flori his warhorse,
Brandishes his lance and proceeds to strike.
He pierces his shield below the boss —
The chain mail’s not worth a penny to him.
The white banner plunges through his body;
He throws him down dead amidst a path.
Estult of Lengres moves to strike Claver;
Neither shield nor hauberk can protect him from death —
He knocks him dead beneath a thicket of broom.
“Mountjoy!” they cry. “Strike them, knights!”
And they all do the best they can to assist.
There was loud noise around lowered banners
As we saw the fierce battle begin:
So many lances shattered, so many shields pierced,
And so many hauberks torn and broken;
So many Saracens upset and overthrown —
No man under sky is able to count them!

Engeler goes searching along the paths,
His lance shattered, his sword in his fist.
He sees Clariados, the lord of Numilliant,
Who had jousted with Renier of Melant —
He’d knocked him . . . . . . . . . . . . .
But Engeler responds to him,
“For love of him, I’ll make you grieve!”
He goes to strike him on his helmet-front
With such power that he splits him to the teeth;
The body falls, then the soul goes to torment.
A Saracen arrives, spurring his horse:
Galatas who governs Tyrie the Great.
He has great strength, surpassing his peers;
He lowers his lance, his standard blowing in the wind.
He presents himself before the count,
Galloping as fast as his horse can manage.
He strikes Engeler directly on his shield
So that the standard goes right through it,
Tearing and extending it an entire palm’s width.
He sets the sharp iron under the armpit,
But God protects him, so it doesn’t pierce his flesh.
He can’t retain his saddle or silver stirrups,
But glides down to earth like a sail.
“Watch out,” he shouts, “lest he win the day!”

Engeler has thus entered the melee.
His sturdy shield about his neck was needed!
It seems to me he’s gotten back up,
When in rides Talot, a Turk from distant Surez,
Who’s killed a thousand since he was dubbed;
He attacks him along with sixty others.
They throw spears and large feathered arrows,
Short javelins, and squared-headed falchions.
This day has begun inauspiciously!
His hauberk was cut in thirty places;
It’d be no surprise if Engeler were badly wounded,
But he has no injury that bothers him.
If only he could be mounted on a horse!
His steel sword was seized by the Turks;
Their intentions are to cut off his head.
Spurring to the rescue comes Ysorez,
Gautier the Hun, and the renowned Dane,
Girard of Orléans, and the bearded Hertald —
Each one prepared to strike well.
“Mountjoy,” they shout, and push them back
So that Engeler is mounted on the bay horse.
They exchange strong blows on edged shields,
Talot and Yzorez fighting each other;
They’ve cut up the shields and pierced the leathers,
With iron rings bending on adorned hauberks.
Neither can hold onto saddle or gilded stirrups,
Onto breastpiece, saddle girth, or silver harness —
Despite their strength, both are thrown down.
Talot rises up and jumps toward Ysorez.
They place their hands on ready swords,
The steel shining from blades they’ve raised.
They strike powerfully on gemmed helmets.
It would have been the field upon which they died
Were it not that the press separated them.
Gautier the Hun has jousted with Armagot,
Striking him dead — may devils take his soul!
The French have struck with good steel blades,
Slitting shoulders, chests, and sides.
On both sides they overthrow so many
That even the most powerful are involved.
The meadow is covered with vermilion blood.

Arapater rushes in — a Turk from Floriant,
A city in India the Greater.
He takes hold of Clarel by the reins.
“Lord,” he says, “we’ve not brought you success,
But, even so, listen now to my news:
Beside the rivers it’s not going well;
They are galloping toward us.”
Clarel cries out his battle-cry, “Naimant!”
Arapater his, “Floriant!”
Toward their standards come Moors, Persians,
And Arabs — all told nearly a hundred,
Every one of them bearing a noble pennant,
Or Turkish bow, or sharp-pointed javelin.
The French withdraw a half-arpent’s length.
The king jousts with Droun the German,
Piercing his shield on the silver boss,
And so much damaging the links on his shield
That he stabs the sharp blade in his body,
Striking him dead and bloody among the French.
Arapater holds his keen-edged sword,
And strikes Girard of Orléans so fiercely
That his brains and eyes burst out.
After killing him, he gallops away,
But Otinel cuts in front of him,
And, holding his shield, draws his sword.
Arapater races his warhorse toward him,
Moving to strike him with tremendous ferocity
So that he pierces shield and helmet;
The leathers are tough, but they’re useless;
If the great shield hadn’t covered Otinel’s arms,
I think he’d have accomplished all his intent,
But fortunately the blade broke.
Otinel strikes him with such skill
And power that the blow cuts right to the heart.
He throws down the body, consigns it to the devil,
And then says to him, “We were kinsmen.
I render you reward for your service!”
King Clarel in the midst of battle
Sees his men fleeing in all directions,
Dying, bereft, and painfully killed.
He strikes angrily in the midst of the French.
He kills with his blade Richard of Eiglent,
Garnier of Angers, and Hugh of Clarvent;
He throws down worthy Nelis, dead and bloody.
He emerges from the melee so worthily
That the brave one loses not even a spur.
To rally his men, he sounds his horn,
But can’t summon more than a hundred to him.
They gallop fleeing toward the city.
The French pursue and frequently kill them.

The pagans and barbarians escape
As far as the edge of the rocky shore,
Where they meet the powerful army
Of Emperor Garsie’s household —
Twenty thousand rotten, loathsome men!
Very few were left from the battle.
But daylight fails, and compline has passed.
Clarel lays down his large decorated shield,
Pulls off the aventail of his Saracen mailshirt,
And shouts loudly toward Otinel:
“Say, who are you? May Mahomet curse you!
Tell me your name. I’ll announce you to Garsie.”
The convert responds, “I’ll hide nothing at all.
I’m Otinel of courageous bearing,
Son of Galien. My mother’s named Clie.
I am baptized. I have abandoned error.
Charles of France has given me Lombardy
And his daughter Belisant as my betrothed.
I will never in my life love a pagan.”
Answers Clarel, “That’s incredible!
Have you then abandoned your faith?
You’ve been bewitched, your spirit coerced,
By doctors who’ve rendered you senseless.
Baron, come now and be reconciled.
Make amends with Mahomet for the evil
You’ve committed against the faith you’ve given up.
I’ll bring peace between you and Garsie,
And grant you lordship over Almary.”
Says Otinel, “No, I won’t do that,
For I despise your company,
But, by the faith I owe blessed Mary,
If I’m able to capture you or Emperor Garsie,
I’ll hang you over the hell pits of Satan!”
The pagan responds, “Now you talk like a fool!
Despite being one of the best of all heathendom,
Your heart’s the most full of treachery.
I’m ready to meet you in an ordeal by combat,
One to one, with my polished sword,
To prove that neither your baptism nor Christianity
Nor the Mass consecrated by priests
Is worth a bitter sorb-apple next to our law.
Mahomet is worth more than Mary’s son!”

The convert says, “There are devils in you!
If you choose to uphold Mahomet against me,
Swear to me that he dwells in you,
And I’ll stand for Lord God and His faith.”
The Saracen raised his finger at this word,
And Otinel pledged his faith to him
That the battle would be theirs alone.

Clarel goes into the city,
And Otinel leads away his people.
Our French are camped in the fields;
They pitch their tents and light fires.
Doctors carry ointment to the wounded;
They’ve interred the dead in graves.
Otinel has gone to the King’s tent;
Our Emperor goes to meet him,
Along with Belisant and bearded Naimes.
Freed from his stirrups, he dismounts.
Charles’ daughter examines his sides
Lest he be injured or wounded;
When he’s disarmed, she kisses him three times.
“Godson,” Charles says, “you have a noble sweetheart.”
“Lord,” he says, “May God be worshiped,
And so may the evil pagans be punished.”

Burgundians and Germans guard the King’s army.
That night Charles sleeps safely,
And the pagans boldly keep watch;
They sound trumpets and shout till sunrise.
Clarel awakens at the break of day,
Leaves his chamber, and quickly is armed.
At his arming were Canor of Muntbrant,
Meliens, and the great Apolin,
Who’s four times larger than a giant.
On his back they place a mail hauberk —
The one wearing it fears no sharp weapon,
For its battle-ready links are made of nails,
But if Otinel can get close enough to it,
With Corçuse, which he wields so keenly,
Never will the hauberk protect against that sword!
On the devout king’s head, they lace a helmet
Not made of iron, wood, or silver,
But instead designed from a snake’s head.
Etched upon it are Jove and Tervagant,
And Mahomet in the form of a child:
To these gods he frequently appeals,
By whom he believes he’ll be protected.
Around his neck they hang a tough, heavy shield,
Made entirely of leather without any wood;
They attach it with eighteen bright gold buckles.
Then they bring him a standard from which hangs
A fine-woven vermilion Persian cloth.
Next they gird on Mellee, his keen-edged blade,
Which he’d not give up for a thousand bright gold marks.
In the middle of the square they lead out Turnevent,
Who, when it feels the spur, races as fast
As a swallow can speed when it flies.
He jumps in the saddle without gripping its bow,
And sounds his horn to awaken his army.
Throughout the city he summons nonbelievers;
Spurring his horse, the king draws them together.
Alfamie says, “I commend you to Mahomet.
Apolin, may you grant him victory:
I’ll give you a gift of a thousand gold marks!”
He rides swiftly out of the gate;
After him go Saracens and Persians,
And as many as a hundred Arabs and Turks.
They mount Mahomet on a moving cart,
Passing beyond the strong, roaring river.
On a high mound they leave it standing,
Attaching it securely with silver chains,
So that it couldn’t fall backward or forward.
All of them worship it and pray humbly
That it work a miracle; each gives it a gift.
Even the poorest offers a bezant.
Clarel rides forth, racing his warhorse,
And stops by a flowing stream.
He sees the French army behind and before.
Speaking softly, so that no one may hear,
“Mahomet, lord,” he says, like a nobleman,
“These warriors will sadden Garsie’s heart.”

Our Emperor arose in the morning.
He went to the fork of the river to relax,
Having with him his closest companions.
There are Roland and bearded Naimes,
Oliver and the renowned Otinel.
Pausing at the bank, Clarel
Shouts out loudly, “You, over there!
Are you the famous white-haired Charles?”
And the Emperor says, “Brother, what do you want?”
“I’ll tell you! I curse the hour you were born!
You’ve lived too long! You’re white-haired and bearded —
Long ago you ought to have become dead flesh!
You’re worn out, ruined, and disinherited;
Your crown and your empire have already been given
To the best man who’s ever been born —
Florian of Syria — so highly renowned.
He’ll be proclaimed king of France!”
The King answers, “You’ve spoken a lot,
And you’re well schooled in telling lies.
I can still ride fully armed on my warhorse,
And I have forcibly conquered six kings.
Now I promise you, in faith and truly,
That this siege will not ever be lifted
Before Garsie is captured and his city destroyed.”
And Clarel says, “That’s how a devil talks!
You don’t increase; you’ve used up too many days;
Your head is bald; and your skin is spotted!
Nothing will ever be accomplished by you —
No battle begun, no tower built!”
Charles felt insulted and looked at the French;
He takes off his cloak in anger,
Saying to Galdin, “Bring me my arms.”
“Lord,” says Otinel, “moderate your anger.
For my love, don’t lose control,
For I’ve given my pledge to Clarel.
Please listen to me now about an important affair:
I swore that Mahomet should not be honored —
That wicked one can’t ever escape hell;
His power’s not worth three peeled eggs!
May Clarel’s soul be sent to the devil!
He says that holy Christianity is worthless,
And so is the baptism by which I’m reborn.
But by the font in which I was baptized,
If you don’t grant me this duel against him,
Never will you be dearly loved by me.”
“Godson,” says Charles, “have it, by this glove;
May He who suffered on the Cross help you.”

King Clarel hears the conversation,
And calls out angrily to Otinel:
“Wretch,” he says, “why did you leave Mahomet —
The holy faith that we ought to uphold,
By which your people will be redeemed
At that great judgment to which we’ll proceed?
Whoever’s in that place will gain such a reward
That he’ll go unquestionably to paradise.
But that God who has the name Jesus
Was taken and placed in prison
As a traitor and felon in Tartarus,
And you yourself will go to the pit of hell,
Into the great inferno where thieves lie.
Never ever will you be redeemed!
Go, take up your arms, for I call you a traitor!”
Otinel replies, “I will never fail you.”

The worthy French lead the knight away,
They arm him nobly beneath an olive tree.
Roland dresses him in a good double-mesh hauberk.
Next they lace on him the helmet of King Alier,
Who conquered Babylon as a warrior.
Renier’s son girds Corçuse upon him.
Around his neck they hang a cherrywood shield.
Estult gives him the standard of the renowned King —
The iron was good, the grip made from laurel.
Spurs by which to prick his steed
Were placed on his feet by Droun of Mont d’Isere.
Belisant holds his Arabian charger;
He kisses her three times, then leaps on his horse.
“Beautiful one,” he says, “I go to avenge God’s law,
To uphold and exalt Christianity,
And to shame and disgrace the pagan race.
For your love, they will pay very dearly.”
“Sweetheart,” she says, “May God assist you!”
The warrior goes to the archbishop to be blessed,
To have holy water sprinkled on his arms.

Once he’s been armed, he leaves the army,
Raises his lance and crosses the ford.
King Clarel went to meet him,
Crying out loudly, “Traitor, I defy you!
You crossed the ford in an evil hour,
For now you’ll be delivered to great shame,
And cut to pieces, killed, and dismembered.
Your kinsmen won’t be able to help you.
Have you still not reconsidered at all
How Mahomet must be proclaimed God,
To be served and honored by all the world?
He who believes in him will never be deceived!
And that God to whom you’ve turned
Isn’t worth a gilded spur compared to him!”
“By God,” says Otinel, “Villain, in this you lie.
If I fight, you’ll be defeated,
For I will have strength from Jesus;
No one other than He should be called God.
A curse on anyone who trusts in Mahomet,
And on you yourself, who speak in his name.
With my sword I will etch it upon you.
In the name of the Lord who suffered on the Cross,
I’ll make you fall if you await my blow!”

Otinel spurs the swift Arabian steed,
And Clarel spurs his warhorse Turnevent.
They hit each other forcefully on their shields;
Both sharp-edged blades pass through
As far as the hauberks protecting them from death.
They sit firmly and strike powerfully,
Fixing themselves stoutly in their stirrups.
They continue to cut against each other,
Splitting saddle girths and front breastpieces;
Both valiant knights are knocked down.
Roland laughs about it and says to Belisant,
“God help me, this buffeting’s worthy of a song!”
The maiden says, “My heart’s frightened by it.
Blessed Mary, I commend my sweetheart to you!”
The pagans bellow like cattle for Clarel;
They pray to Mahomet and cry out loudly
That he protect him against death from Otinel.
He draws Mellee, his keen-edged sword,
And Otinel stands erect on his feet,
Holding Corçuse with its shining gold point.
Then they angrily seek each other out,
Quickly dealing mighty blows on the other
Upon their helmets’ crowns, where gold shines.
Sparks flash, causing the grass to shimmer!

The Saracen was a very fine knight.
He raises Mellee with its steel blade,
And strikes Otinel on King Alier’s helmet,
Which is so hard he can’t cut through it,
But because of the blow, he had to bend slightly,
Making it seem that he kneeled down.
“Blessed Mary!” says Charles fervently,
“May you protect, Lady, your courteous knight,
Who fights to exalt his faith.”
Otinel gets back up, and with a fierce heart
Grasps his shield and makes a full leap,
Dealing him a full blow with Corçuse,
Breaking off a quarter of his golden helmet,
Splitting the top of the double-mesh mail.
He slices off the cheek with the whole jawbone,
So that one might see his white teeth.
“By God,” says Otinel, “thus may one exchange
A blow for a tap, a farthing for a denier!
You resemble a man who’d want to grin.
Alfamie won’t have any more business with you —
Never will a girl want to kiss you!”

The Saracen is badly wounded,
And knows well he’ll never be honored in court.
He holds Mellee with its gilded tip,
And strikes Otinel with such savage blows
That if God in His goodness doesn’t pay heed,
Charles will be sad and distressed by them!
But the good convert isn’t afraid —
Instead he’s fiercer than a frenzied lion.
Otinel holds his strong-edged shield above his head,
While Clarel strikes like a man gone mad,
Cleaving it in the middle, removing a layer.
He splits the gold-adorned helmet,
So that the blade cuts down to the headpiece.
Were it not for the tight hauberk,
He would never again be invited to joust.
Nonetheless, so thoroughly was it crushed
That his blood flowed through the linked mail.
“In faith,” says Otinel, “this blow went too far.
Now I see well you don’t love me at all!
By Saint Denis, I’ll pay you back
In such a manner that, if you don’t defend yourself,
A doctor will never heal you at all.”

Otinel rolls his eyes in anger.
With Corçuse he gives him a mighty blow,
Thrusting the blade into his left side,
Near his neck, above the shiny hauberk,
Slitting the chain mail and slashing his heart;
He makes the blade glide down to the earth.
Clarel can stand up no longer;
He falls to the ground. His soul departs, crying out,
Cursing his lord Mahomet.
Otinel shouts “Mountjoy!” and advances;
He defies the pagans for the love of Belisant.
The French rejoice and the Saracens grieve.

King Garsie has soon heard
That the pagan is dead and defeated;
He was more sorrowful than ever he’d been:
“Alas, Clarel, now I have lost you!
Your killer has struck me in the heart!
Daughter Alfamie, you’ll never again have such a lover.
If I don’t avenge him today, I’m not worth a straw.”
He takes up Sweetjoy and sounds it with force.
Seven thousand trumpets answer in succession;
Twenty thousand remain in the front ranks
(Of those in the rear, no count was taken)
To endanger Charles the old graybeard,
Count Roland, and his beloved Oliver.

Giving thought to his army, our Emperor
Prepared twelve ranks within his famed host,
Which is always ready for battle.
The smallest has about twenty thousand men.
Roland is assigned to the first —
Those of France, equipped for battle.
The pagans will have a very bad fate!

Pepin’s son has organized his army
So that each is armed according to his skills.
The King rides on a galloping horse,
Standing up vigorously in the stirrups.
He calls for Naimes and laughingly says to him:
“Noble duke, I entrust my standard to you,
For services you’ve given me, more than a hundred.
Bear it, lord, and I give you Volant,
My good warhorse, which you desire so much.
Today, with this glove, I grant you seven castles;
As witnesses to this, take Guinemant,
Rotolt of Perche, and Geffrei the Norman.”
“Lord,” he says, “just as you command.
I’ll bear it well, and you will lose nothing.”

The French set about preparing their army.
Otinel stands under a tree to be armed;
Having lost his helmet, he must replace it,
But Belisant has one brought to him.
With him go Garen of Saint-Omer,
Fromund of Artois, and Garin of Muntcler.
The brave one is armed, and he remounts,
Taking a standard to support the French,
And commanding that trumpets be sounded.
And this is done, loudly and clearly;
Advancing to battle they begin to shout.
The pagans gather tightly together,
And their companies turn toward our French —
So many that I can’t count the number!
Garsie has their standard raised.
The pagans say, “Let’s go fight them!
Let’s make our lances strike their shields.”
The agile young men proceed in front,
Those who desire to inherit France,
Hoping to acquit themselves with steel swords:
“The field is ours! We can easily defeat them!”

Our French knights ride courageously,
While the Saracens ride too pridefully.
A Turk removes himself from the army,
Asking King Garsie for the gauntlet,
That he might kill Roland with the first blow,
Or Oliver, or the valiant Otinel.
Whoever he finds — he’ll not seek any others —
Will fall down dead when he meets his goal.
He’s armed nobly with precious weapons;
In bearing he looks much like a Norman,
With a Syrian-made silk cloth
That covers all of his shiny hauberk,
And his horse, which is as fast as
The greyhound that speeds along the ground.
Carrying a mace that hangs from his arm,
Laughingly given to him that very morning
By the daughter of King Cursable of Amiant.
Because of this girl, he’s now brave,
And thus he’ll die before sext has sounded.
His lance is stiff, the iron always sharp,
And the banner fluttering in the wind
Is fastened with four silver pins.
He pricks his horse, and it rushes forward,
Galloping fast toward our men.
He calls out loudly, “Tell me, where’s Roland?
On this very day I’ll bring you trouble.
I’ll assert by fighting, by my body alone,
That France is ours and belongs to Garsie,
And that Charlemagne doesn’t possess it at all.
Your king is wrong! Come and defend him!”
Roland hears him and flushes with anger.
He swiftly advances toward the pagan,
Raises his lance, and draws his shield forward.
Now battle has begun decisively between them.
Among our French, bridle-reins are shaking,
The strongest want to be at the front to see it.

Martoires strikes Roland on his shield,
Cracking and splitting it beneath the boss,
And cutting mail-rings with his sharp sword.
He struck him upon the side,
Beneath the skirt, above the flesh;
He tore the right stirrup from his foot —
Though he hit well, it wasn’t worth a straw.
His lance breaks, and the count strikes him
Upon the armband he bears for good luck;
Strong pointed iron passes right through;
Both armored sleeve and hauberk shirt
Weren’t worth a straw in the face of death.
The point pierces him, splitting his heart,
And pinning him well. He has struck him dead.
“Mountjoy!” he shouts. The pagans hear him.
He says a few words: “I’ve met you well!
Never in France will you win a plea!
Charles is right! You have lost!”
Says the emir, greatly distressed,
“By Mahomet, we’ve lost this one!
Roland has taken him from us.
May I be cursed if I don’t avenge him!”

The emir rushes upon Oliver,
And the count spurs Fauvel, his good horse.
The Saracen strikes Renier’s son,
And pierces the shield, causing it to split open;
He cuts a hundred bits from his double-ring hauberk,
Causing blood to flow from his side.
Charles’ favorite strikes back so angrily
That his shield’s not worth a penny to him,
Nor his horse the value of a plum tree.
Into his body he places his cherrywood standard,
Throws him down dead next to a rock.
“Mountjoy!” he shouts. “Strike at them, knights!”
Then the French and Bavarians attack,
Lorrains, Germans, and men of Puy,
Normans, Franks, Flemings, and Bavarians —
They loudly roar their battle cries.
Those with brave hearts draw to the front,
But the cowards don’t have the same desire;
The hardiest ones proceed to pierce shields,
And break and crumble hauberks.
Stiff lances are bathed in red blood;
Brave knights fall and die;
Swift warhorses scatter and flee.
Many are captured who cry for mercy.
In that hour they had great need!

When the fierce armies clash in battle,
They shatter spears and round shields.
After using lances, warriors pull out swords,
And immediately deal ferocious blows;
They slice helmets and rip coats of mail;
They kill, destroy, and shout with delight.
Thus are souls severed from their bodies,
Never to be united by any doctor.

Of the forces raised by the Saracens,
There are ten thousand pagans left;
They’ve never had double-ring hauberks,
Or helmets or banners either, whether purple,
Vermilion, white, green, or salmon.
Leading them is Alfan, a Palestinian duke.
He carries the standard of King Alepantin.
They strike the Mansians and send them running.
The Saracens draw their Turkish bows,
And shoot their javelins and poison darts.
Otinel puts on stirrups of pure gold,
From those in arms, he seizes a Beauvaisian sword,
And brandishes his red-bannered spear,
Taking a stab at the king of Palestine.
He strikes his cousin Alfan mid-shield,
Ripping the hauberk with a good steel spearhead,
Then thrusting his ash-shaft into the body,
Twisting him dead, prone on the earth.
Now do Geffrei and Morin joust,
And Hugh of Soissons and Boue son of Gawain.
Geffrei has killed a wicked pagan.
Hugh of Soissons has killed Balsadrin;
Now he takes vengeance on the wicked pagan
Who had killed Guineman with his sword,
Twisting him to death in front of Alepantin.
“Mountjoy!” he shouts. “Now . . . . . . . . .
Pagans and Saracens, you’ll never succeed!”

King Corsabrez heads down a hill,
With a battalion led by Atropez,
Six thousand pagans under his command.
He leads them to the fight in tight ranks.
Count Eleins goes to meet them
With four hundred hardened Bretons.
Neel of Nantes comes fully equipped.
“Mallo!” he shouts. “Hit them, French knights!”
Gui of Custances has led Bigoz there,
With banners raised upon seven hundred helmets.
Each one has been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
The mighty Troias jousts with Malfruit;
The pagan carries four poison darts,
From which he hurls the most poisonous one.
With great vigor the evildoer deals
A rough blow against Troias’ shield,
Splitting it entirely and severing the leather;
The dart splits open the good hauberk’s layers,
And has flown into his thigh.
Troias strikes him like a hardened warrior;
Neither shield nor adorned hauberk can save Malfruit
When the spearpoint enters his body,
And he strikes him dead. He’s passed beyond.
But meanwhile Corsabrez attacks Troias
Under the breast and between the sides,
Successfully thrusting forth his pennon;
It splits his heart, and the warrior falls.
God takes him; the soul goes to its end.
Count Eleins intervenes, deeply upset —
He grieves loudly, for he was born of his sister.
Soon he’ll be avenged on King Corsabrez,
But meanwhile Barbez has arrived.
Count Eleins turns toward him,
Brandishing his spear with its squared-off head,
And piercing the shield ornately decorated
With rich gems and embellished with gold.
He throws him down dead, saying, “Now be still!
You’d have been better off if you’d stayed behind!”
The day has gone well. Most of it has passed.
With dust has the air been disturbed.
Pagans come forth, and it is . . . . . . . . . . . . .
They blow trumpets, shout, and bang large drums.
With this, I can say they’ve overwhelmed our men,
Driving our men back more than an arpent,
None has a hauberk or shield that’s not turned around.
Lambert of Avranches was sent to his death there,
And Raoul of Bleives, pierced by two arrows,
Won’t live long, for he’s already lost consciousness.
Gui of Custances had his head cut off there;
So did Tebald of Rouen, and others as well.
Never can such a loss be remedied!
A squire, whose name is Amirez —
A vavasour born in Paris,
Son of powerful Droun of the Moat —
Has a hundred young men to fight with him;
The oldest is merely twenty years old.
They’ve taken the arms found among the dead,
And raised banners made from their tunics.
They see our men arrive, terrified,
And step in front of those who retreat.
With great effort they push back the pagans
The length of four arpents of ground.
Bodies of the fallen and maimed
Fill and clutter the battlefield.
Corsabrez pauses along a defensive wall,
And shouts his war cry, “Pagans, stand with me!”
He grips his shield and charges at our men.
He has skillfully locked in his stirrups
And already stopped many of our men,
When Amirez strikes him on the shield
So forcefully that it enters his forehead
Below the helmet. He has crushed one eye.
The pagan is terrified by the blow,
But receives no help — all have fled!
Amirez seizes him at once,
And the youth calls three good vassals:
They are Galdin, swift Fauchet,
And loyal Baldwin of Aigremunt.
“Noble squires, take this king for me.
Don’t allow him to die or be injured.
Deliver him to Charlemagne my lord,
And graciously present him on my behalf.”
And they answer, “As you command.”
Our men fight very well against Atropez.
From this point on, the battle’s fully engaged
With the help of those newly knighted.
Of those knocked down, a hundred arise,
And then strike with their good steel swords.
Hugh of Nevers turns toward Podras,
A ferocious and wild pagan —
All his kinsmen are evildoers.
The villain is well regarded by ladies;
He’ll soon be mourned and grieved by damsels.
Those in the city suffer great pain,
For they witness our French injure many.
Hugh strikes Podras like a proven warrior;
From the top of his gold-banded helmet,
The sword descends to his shoulders;
The body falls, its powers failing him there.
“Mallo!” shout the armed Bretons,
“May God now help wise Otinel!”
They seize the pagan standard
In a space where the field was open,
But Otinel’s not there; he’s engaged elsewhere:
He’s already charged thrice at the standard,
And cut off the heads of four kings.

King Garsie speaks about this to Parant,
A wicked pagan who thoroughly hates God.
“Brother,” he says, “it goes badly for me.
My heart’s aggrieved on account of my barons,
Killed by Otinel before my very eyes.
I’ll die of sorrow if I can’t stop him,
And Charlemagne will wrongfully take me —
He who holds my lands against my will,
And wears a crown without my leave!
Unless I see him surrender today in battle,
I’ll never possess anything in France.”

“Lord,” says Parant, “now you’re in danger:
Charles is nearby! See him before you!
What’s yours is burning, as you bitterly know.
I’m frightened by his nephew Roland,
Whom I secretly spied this morning
As he struck Balant on the helmet —
He cleaved through the whole man and steed!
I’m so very afraid that I’ll run away!”
The King summons Belduit of Aquilant:
“Gather the Turks while a hundred remain;
Watch over the Turks so that no one deserts.
Do whatever’s needed to any who do,
So they’ll lose honor for the rest of their lives.”
The din is great, many heavy blows are dealt,
And the battle is pursued rigorously.
Count Roland goes looking for the Persians;
With Durendal he searches the streets.
To any he overtakes, he delivers a cruel reward.
The Bavarians and Germans strike very well,
And so do Burgundians, Flemings, and Normans.
The French strike great blows swiftly,
And the young men attack without restraint
At the standard — they don’t intend to leave;
They love neither truce nor accord,
Whoever falls there receives a bad fate.
A very brave one now spurs forth,
And looks to his right, seeing Guinemant,
Who’s struck down three tough Persian kings —
Killing two, and the third one fled.
He grabs a horse and hands it to Guinemant,
Who leaps up without touching the bow.
“Lord,” he says, “you’ve done me much service.
The pagans are unhappily feeling your power.
Thank you for this swift warhorse —
They’ve held me here in great distress.”
He draws his sword with its silver tip,
And strikes a Turk, whose head he takes.
Otinel goes off, shouting “Mountjoy!”
And slicing up pagans with Corçuse.
He senses them like a cloud does the wind!
He finds Oliver, Estult, and Roland,
Engeler and Garin the Norman,
Geffrei of Anjou and Rotolt the German,
Who all fight ferociously.
“God,” says Otinel, “Omnipotent Father,
How long have I sought such companions!”
Now the valiant knights are all together.
Their weapons flash like bolts of lightning.
Their steel blades create such a clatter
That none might hear God’s thunder in the sky.
Arabs and Persians utterly fear them,
The Melians, Turks, and Africans too.
King Garsie trembles amid his army.

Our Emperor is overtaken by joy
As he watches his large army fighting.
Ogier was upset and couldn’t be angrier
Because he’s in prison tied with chains.
He’s now freed his hands and feet,
But the center of his body is bound up,
While seven knights guard him closely.
Ogier says, “Loosen these chains —
My heart hurts! Damn him who’s glad about that!”
One of them says, “You talk like a fool.
By Mahomet, if you’re not quiet,
We’ll tighten your hands and feet,
And you’ll never feel any better.”
Ogier hears this and grows angrier.
Grasping a woodblock, he rises to his feet,
And kills four of them — they’ll bind him no longer!
The last three he tossed from the tower;
When they hit the ground, their necks were broken.
He breaks the chains and is free of them.

As soon as good Ogier was free,
He went to his horse as fast as possible,
Harnessed him (for there was no squire),
And armed himself well in a knightly way.
Once he was mounted, he began to shout out:
“I’m going to help my comrades in battle,
I now must deliver mighty blows,
But tomorrow I’ll return to plunder as much as I can.
May God protect me from evil and harm!”
He issues out of the gate, spurs the warhorse,
And heads to the battle by a wide road.
When he comes to the field, he finds Garnier,
Roland and Naimes and Otinel and Gautier.
They rejoice, each wanting to kiss him.
Then they ask whether he’s sound and whole.
He answers that he’s well and able —
Never was he more ready to behave like a knight.

When the fighters are all together,
For love of Ogier, they pause a bit.
They’ve killed a hundred by sword and for sorrow.
Meanwhile Garsie retreats furiously —
He can’t guard himself for he has no defenders.
He flees without any means of safety.

Otinel chases him through a long valley,
Bearing his sword Corçuse in one hand
And a large banded shield in the other.
He sees Garsie trying to flee secretly,
And pulls up his reins to intercept him.
Approaching him, he speaks his mind.

“By God,” he says, “explain to me, lord king,
If you were to prepare something tonight for the French,
Would you look for peas in fat lard?
They’ll not eat that for a thousand Orkney marks.
Make something else: that’s townsfolks’ food!”

King Garsie is deeply insulted
About the taunt directed at him.
Prodding his horse with gilded spurs,
He wants revenge against Otinel,
But his horse stumbles on its four hooves.
Like it or not, he’s thrown to the ground,
And his right arm’s broken in the middle.
Before he can stand up on his feet,
Count Roland approaches him,
And seizes him by the hand, overjoyed!
The king cries out, “Barons, don’t touch me!
I yield to you! Spare my life!”

The two barons lead the king away,
And present him at once to Charles,
Who had him led to Paris, his city.
The French do not forget the honored warrior.
Before it was vespers, before sunset,
They possess the field and take the city.

When people hear about this messenger,
They all ought to pray for his soul —
He who did so much to defeat the pagans.

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