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«CHARLEMAGNE: THE MAKING OF AN IMAGE, 1100-1300 By JACE ANDREW STUCKEY A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN ...»

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I shall summon as many as my liegemen as possible, And I shall go to Spain without hesitation Afterwards, he did keep his promise But it was there that Roland and the twelve peers died.

Obviously, the events in the Pilgrimage of Charlemagne are intended to pre-date those of the Roland story. And since Roland has such as strong connection to crusading, it is used in this context as a point of reference. There is, as with a number of literary sources, an emphasis on duty. In the second chapter of this dissertation, literary sources were used to demonstrate the connection between Charlemagne and crusading. In chapter three, sources with a strong theme of kingship were used to demonstrate the relationship between Church and State as well as between the monarchy and the nobility. Similar themes are prevalent here in the Pilgrimage of Charlemagne. Charlemagne without the pretense of any battle or even any presence of a Muslim character is still recognized as a crusader. In this short exchange between Charlemagne and the Patriarch, the writer explicitly recognizes Charlemagne’s accepted twelfth-century role as crusader and defender of the Church. With the increased participation of kings in the Crusades, this may also be a reflection of the poet’s view of the Kings’ role as leaders of the Crusades.

Written in the mid-twelfth-century, in the midst of the crusading movement, the poem could be interpreted as part of the propaganda movement that dominated so many of the poems of the chansons de geste. Although the poem is unlike any of the cycle of the king, it still contains this propagandistic aspect. Although the poem is comical and has a light tone throughout much of the action, there are still prominent themes and serious messages concerning the Crusades. This is further evidence that Westerners, especially Churchmen, continued to be preoccupied with the Crusades. If the poem was composed around or shortly after the Second Crusade (1145-1149), then the concern is certainly warranted. The failure of the Second Crusade did not discourage Westerners from planning or participating in future campaigns. However, it did make them acutely aware of their weaknesses. It also re-emphasized the necessity of crusading. In addition, the reference to Spain as part of the Roland reference may be an indication of the expansion of the crusade idea beyond that of campaigns to the East.

Girart de Vienne Similar to the Pilgrimage of Charlemagne, Girart of Vienne does not directly concern a crusade. It does not concern a battle or war between Christians and Muslims.

Again, there are also no Muslim characters. However, there does seem to be a bit of crusade propaganda as well as indications of a concern for the ‘Peace of God Movement.’ The concern for the need for a crusade actually becomes the impetus for ending the conflict between Charlemagne and Girart. By the later part of section three, the battle is focused on a single confrontation between Oliver (fighting for Girart) and Roland (fighting for Charlemagne). The outcome of this battle will determine the result of the war.62 Finally after days of battle, an angel sent by God descends to Vienne and stops the battle. The author writes;

Es vos un engre qui descent de la nue,

Qui doucement de par Deu les salue:

“Franc chevalier, ennor vos est creue!

Ceste bataille ne soit plus meintenue;

gardez que plus ne soit par vos ferue, car Damedeu la vos a des a desfandue.

Mes en Espangne, sor la gent mescreue, There are explicit references in this section Aeneas. The siege of the city of Vienne has taken seven years. The battle between Roland and Oliver is comparable to either the battle between Achilles and Hector or between Menalaous and Paris. It is clear that the author was familiar with work of Virgil and probably used parts as inspiration for certain scenes such as this battle. See James Westfall Thompson, “Vergil in Medieval Culture,” The American Journal of Theology 10, (1906), 641-662.

soit vostre force provee et conneue;

la sera bien vo proece veue Pro l’amor Deu conquerre.” Li dui baron furent en grant fricon qant ill oirent de Deu l’anoncion.

Et dit li engres: “N’aiez poor, baron!

Deus le vos mende de son ciel la amont:

lessiez ester iceste aatisson.

Mes en Espangne, sor ce pople felon, la esprovez qui est hardiz ou non, par mi les resne au roi Marsilion.

La conquerroiz par force le roion, sor Sarrazins a force et a bandon, si essauciez la loi Deu et son non.

Vos en avroiz molt riche guerredon, et les voz ames avront verai pardon;

la sus el ciel, en sa grant mension, les metra Deus en gloire.”63 Then from the cloud an Angel steps, who sweetly

In the Lord God’s name addresses them and greets them:

“My noble knights, you have been honored deeply!

This feud and fight of yours no more shall be, lords;

Not one more blow must be exchanged, for Jesus The Lord our God forbids you to proceed with it!

Henceforth to Spain against the race of heathens Your fierce prowess shall yet be known and needed;

Men shall know well your valor there and see it In service of God’s love.” Both knights are very much afraid To hear the will of the Lord God proclaimed;

The Angel says: “My lords, be not dismayed!

From high in Heaven God urges you this day:





Let be this rivalry of clan and claim!

In hostile land upon the heathen race, There you may prove who is or is not brave;

Throughout the realm of King Marsile of Spain, There you may win his kingdom with you blades Out of the hands of Saracen knaves, And glorify God’s faith and His own name;

Girart de Vienne, par Bertrand de Bar-Sur-Aube, publié par Wolfgang Van Emden, (Paris, Société des Anciens Textes Francais, 1973), p. 261-262.

And your reward for this shall be most great:

Your souls shall earn true pardon and true grace;

In Heaven high, in His great dwelling-place, God shall set them in glory.” However, this only stops the battle between Roland and Oliver. Charlemagne after hearing Roland’s story about the Angel’s message does not end the siege. It is only after being convinced by Girart and his other Barons that Charlemagne finally submits to reconciliation. Immediately after this, word comes of Saracen attacks on Christian lands and the poem ends with Charlemagne setting out for a crusade in Spain. In this section, the crusading propaganda is even more explicit as the author has the Archbishop Turpin offer an indulgence to any of those willing to participate. The author writes;

Li arcevesques sus en piez se dreca, el faudestuel meintenant en monta,

molt gentement a parler comenca:

“Seignor baron, a moi entendez ca:

je sui el leu de Deu qui tot forma, et de seint Pere que a Rome estora, a cui pooir des pecheors dona de pardoner qanque il mesfet a.

Qui sor paiens ore aler en voudra, avec le roi qui France a garder a, de ses pechiez trestoz quites sera, en l’annor Deu, qui le mont estora.” Dient Francois: “Com haut pardon ci a!

Molt fu buer nez qui en cele ost ira, por tel pardon conquerre!”64 Up on his feet stands swiftly the Archbishop;

He mounts the folding-stool straightway and quickly

And starts to speak in a most noble spirit:

“Barons, my lords, give your ear to me and listen:

I stand for God, Who made the world we live in, And for St. Peter, His regent in the city of Rome, To whom He gave power of forgiveness To any sinners for any sins committed;

Girart de Vienne, par Bertrand de Bar-Sur-Aube, publié par Wolfgang Van Emden, (Paris, Société des Anciens Textes Francais, 1973), p. 301-302.

I tell you now that any man who’s willing To go with Charles, keeper of the French kingdom, Shall be forgiven for a lifetime of sinning, In Lord God’s name, Who made the world we live in.” The French all say: “How high a pardon this is!

How blessed born all we who shall go with him And win so rich a grace!” The concept of the indulgence was well established during the First Crusade. From that point forward, it became an important part of crusader ideology and propaganda. It is clear from the previous passage that the author was familiar with its importance. It is also an indication that the concepts of crusade and indulgence may have expanded by the time this was written. Charlemagne sends many of his men to various French regions to defend them from Saracen attacks. In addition, he plans to take an army to Spain to liberate it from the clutches of Muslim subjugation. None of Charlemagne’s army is planning on traveling to the Holy Land. Yet, essentially they are all offered an indulgence. This work does post date the proclamation of the crusade in Spain by Pope Eugenius III, in 1147. It appears, at least in Bertrand’s understanding that the indulgence applies to any Christian knight fighting against Muslims in the name of Christianity.

The Crusades had a tremendous impact on Western culture. Both of these sources were likely written between the Second and Third Crusades. The fact that the Crusades are a part of two stories that involve no real conflict between Muslims and Christians is a clear indication that Western society continued to be preoccupied with Muslim presence in the Holy Land as well as in Spain.

–  –  –

There are a number of conclusions to be drawn from this examination of the less than ideal portrait of Charlemagne in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. First, it is critical to emphasize that this image does represent a major change in the portrayal of not only Charlemagne, but also of the king. It has been suggested by a number of scholars that the negative representation of Charlemagne in these various works should not be interpreted as a negative reflection of him and his reign, but rather should be more closely associated with other weaker and less popular kings named Charles. This is certainly plausible considering that in most sources, both historical and literary, Charlemagne continued to be popular and represented in mythical and sometimes almost divine terms.

The two main epics analyzed in this chapter represent two different types of genres that contradict the image found in Roland. The Pilgrimage of Charlemagne presents the king in somewhat contradictory terms. On the one hand, he is comical and un-heroic.

On the other, he is compared with none other than Christ himself. Girart de Vienne, explores the relationship between kings and vassals and implicitly criticizes the policies of the twelfth-century Capetian monarchs who continually reduced the rights and power of the aristocratic class. This would be an ongoing theme in the rebel-baron cycle of the chansons de geste. The late twelfth and early thirteenth-century represented (the period that engendered the most poetic development that commented on the monarchy ). This would foreshadow the production of a number of literary sources that would implicitly criticize the policies and administration of Philip II.

However, the problems for the nobility started long before the reign of Philip II.

Philip simply accelerated many of the already existing trends in the changing policies of monarchical involvement in local affairs. In particular, as early as 1126, Louis VI had prominent nobles appear before him for judgment.65 Kings have also already begun to use ‘bailiffs’ (baillis) to increase their participation and influence in various areas, Morrissey, Charlemagne and France, p. 78.

whereas previously the bailiff’s role consisted almost entirely of collecting revenue.66 During the reign of Philip II, the bailiff’s role not only included state finance, but also a great deal of power associated with justice. 67 Although increased revenue was the first main step in supplanting the wealth of noble families that might oppose Philip and his centralizing policies. Within the first two decades of Philip’s reign, he increased the royal revenue by more than 80%.68 Philip also increased the number of his regular meetings with the bailiffs and with his royal court (the curia regis). The King’s increased participation in local affairs was bound to lead to alienation and outright conflict with disgruntled vassals who witnessed firsthand their power being replaced by that of a bailiff or royal justice. In fact, one of the major shifts in power occurred during Philip’s reign and favored the monarchy over the rulers of the various principalities of France. During this period, “most of the great duchies and counties came under closer royal supervision with Philip Augustus, including Flanders, Champagne and Burgundy, as well as Normandy and the other Angevin lands which he recovered authority.”69 The culmination of this process came in 1202 when Philip ordered King John of England (also Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine) to appear in judgment before him, since technically the king of England was still a vassal to the king of France. Just two years John W. Baldwin, The Government of Philip Augustus: Foundations of French Royal Power in the Middle Ages, (London, Berkeley, Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1986), pp. 125-137.

James Collins, From Tribes to Nation: The Making of France 500-1799, (United States, Thomson Wadsworth Learning, 2002), p. 65.

James Collins, From Tribes to Nation: The Making of France 500-1799, p 66. This was prior to the conquest of the Angevin Empire which in turn increased the revenues of Philip II’s administration another 80%.

Jim Bradbury, Philip Augustus: King of France 1180-1223, (London and New York, Longman Publishing, 1998), p.226.

later, in 1204, Philip, with impressive military victories took Normandy and all fiefs north of the Loire River.

This is a development that is reflected throughout the literary corpus of the period and particularly the rebel-baron cycle. In Renaut de Montauban, Charlemagne’s wars are aimed at conquering the lands controlled by the most powerful nobles. Even in the Chanson d’Aspremont, where Charlemagne is represented in overwhelmingly positive terms, he relies less on the higher nobility and increasingly on the lower nobility.70 In Girart de Vienne, Charlemagne’s unjust war on Girart is intended ultimately to take power away from a vassal. Girart continually demonstrates undying loyalty to Charlemagne, the legitimate, but in this case, unjust king.



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