|SPECIMENS OF EARLY ENGLISH
METRICAL ROMANCES, VOL. 2, ||George Ellis (1753-1815.)
The fable of this romance, though not contained in the original Chron-
icle of Turpin, appears to have been very soon engrafted on and con-
nected with it. I do not know that it was ever printed; but it is preserved
in MS., though in an imperfect state, in the Auchinleck volume.
The fragment contains 1738 lines, and is written in couplets with con-
siderable spirit and animation. A second MS., in six-lined stanzas, is in
the possession of W. Fillingham, Esq. The style of this is much more
languid and feeble, resembling pretty nearly the diction of the romance
which we have just examined. It has, however, the merit of completing
the story, and of furnishing a paraphrase of Turpin's Chronicle from the
period of the death of Ferragus to the battle of Roncesvalles.
HERKNETH, both ying and old,
That willen hearen of battles bold!
An ye woll a while dwell,
Of bold batayls ich woll you tell,
That was, some time, between
Christian men and Saracens keen.
After this exordium the author proceeds to tell us that,
while Charles reigned in France, the throne of Lombardy was
occupied by a Saracen prince named Garsie, who " leved all
in Maumetrie," and harassed the Christians, throughout his
vast territories, with unceasing persecutions. Marseilles, and
many of the southern provinces of France, were tributary to
him; and fifteen kings were proud of serving under the banners
of a chief who looked forward to nothing less than
the extirpation of the Christian faith throughout the finest|
countries of Europe. Such a man was the natural enemy of
Charlemagne, to whom he resolved to send his defiance,
couched in terms of the utmost arrogance; and, for the purpose
of giving the greatest notoriety to the insult, chose one of
those great festivals whon the Christian emperor was surrounded
by his twelve poors, and selected an ambassador
whoso haughty and presumptuous character was sure to be
Otuel his name was ;
Of no man afeard he nas.
Into the palace the he cam,
A squyer by the hond he nam,
And said, " Ich am comen here
King Garsie's messangere,
To speak with Charles king of this lond,
And with a knight that hight. Roland.
And with another hight Olyvere,
Knightes holden withouten peer;
Those three I beseech thee
That thou tell me which they be."
The squire beheld with awe the commanding deportment
of the stranger, and, respectfully taking his hand, led him to
the upper end of the hall, where Charles was seated on his
throne, a bench on his right hand being occupied by Roland,
Olivier, and Ogier le Danois. Otuel, surveying the whole
assembly with an air of conscious superiority, stalked up to
the imperial seat, and then fixing his eyes on Charles,
He said to him, amid his hall,
"Sire king! foul mote ye fall!
Thou art about to grieve
Mahoun, that we on believe;
Therefore have thou maugré !
So thee greeteth Garsie by me.
That haveth a message sent
To seggen his commandement.
And thou, Roland, that art his knight,
Now I know thee by sight.
May I meet thee in the field,
With thy spear and with thy shield.
Ich whole wite, so mote ich the,
Right between me and thee! "
During this speech many of the company betrayed evident
marks of impatience: but the courteous Roland simply
answered, that the insolence of an ambassador might be indecorous,
but was not very terrible, particularly when the
speaker was not known to have signalised himself by any
previous exploits. Otuel now began to enumerate the Christian
hounds who had already fallen beneath the edge of his
good sword Corrouge, and pursued his narration in terms so
offensive that Estuyt of Legiers, one of Charlemagne's knights,
seizing a fire-brand from the hearth, aimed a blow at Otuel,
which Roland very dexterously intercepted ; and at the same
time the king himself, interfering, ordered that no one, on
pain of his severe displeasure, should presume to attempt any
act of violence against a person invested by the general law
of nations with a sacred character. The monarch's injunction
would perhaps have been obeyed but for the increasing arrogance
of Otuel, who scorned to shield himself under the protection|
of any law, and threatened with instant death whoever
should be so presumptuous as to assail him. At these words
a French knight, whose name is not mentioned, came behind
him, seized him by the head, laid him prostrate on the ground,
and, having taken a knife from, the table, attempted to stab
him. But the Saracen was protected by an excellent coat of
mail beneath his robe, and, instantly rising unhurt, drew the
terrible Corrouge, and with the first blow cut down the
assailant, The hall was now filled with tumult, but Otuel
exclaimed with a voice of thunder:
" By the laverd Sire Mahoun,
Knightes! ich rede, sitten adown!
For, if any of you so hardy be,
That any stroke minteth to me,
Mahoun my God ich here forsake,
Gif he shall ever orders take
Of any other bishop's hond,
But of Corrouge my good brond!"
It cannot be supposed that this insolent speech, or the
imposing figure of Otuel, who held in his hand the good
sword Corrouge, still recking with the blood of his adversary,
could have inspired any terror in an assembly composed of
the bravest knights in Christendom ; yet it was observed that
the voice of Charlemagne, which had before been drowned in
clamour, was now better heard, and his injunctions to abstain
from violence to the ambassador more willingly obeyed.
Indeed a considerable part of the company showed their
respect by retiring from the hall, so that Otuel was left with
Charles and his immediate counsellors.
The king now earnestly requested him to give up his
sword, the retention of which was evidently improper; and
Roland offered to pledge himself for its faithful restoration
whenever he should desire to depart; but the pertinacious
Saracen continued insensible to their courtesy, and, declaring
that if he had twelve squires at his orders he would trust to
himself alone the care of his favourite Corrouge, still preserved
the same menacing attitude. The king, unwilling to continue
an indecorous altercation, at length waived this point of
ceremony; and, calmly observing to the Saracen, that the
personal violence in which he had thought fit to indulge had
only tended to render unintelligible the message which he had
been ordered to convey, requested that he would plainly|
deliver the purpose of his embassy.
Otuel replied, that Garsie, king of Spain and Lombardy,
and of other countries almost innumerable, had seat him to
announce his intention of ravaging France with fire and
sword, unless Charles should consent to avert the unequal
conflict by renouncing Christianity; by making satisfaction
for divers outrages committed, at his instigation, on the
faithful followers of Mahomet; and by readily taken the oath
of allegiance as vassal to the said Garsie :
And certes, but it so befall,
Garsie will give thine londes all
To Olerent of Esclavonie,
The king's son of Germanie,
That haveth his o daughter to wife,
That he loveth as his life.
Thus shall all thy mirth adown
But thou love on Sire Mahoun!'
Before Charlemagne could offer any remark on those, impertinent
conditions, the dousiperes exclaimed with one voice,
that if their sovereign would condescend to lead them against
Garsie, they would soon punish him as he deserved, for the
insolence with which lie threatened to dispose of their lands
to his misbelieving Saracens.
"Certes, sire king," quath Otuel,
"Thine Frenche knights can yelpe well;
And when they be to war y-brought,
Thenne be they right naught!
Though thou bring, with shield and spear,
All that ever may weapon bear,
To warre upon the King Garsie,
Certes, all they shoulden die.
And thou art king, and olde knight,
And havest i-loren all thy might,
And in thy yuigthe, take good heed,
Thou were never doughty of deed!"
Even the patience of the temperate Charlemagne was
scarcely proof against this wanton personal insult, and the
twelve peers were incensed almost to madness. Roland,
however, still preserving his dignity, only replied, that should|
his good fortune in the field lead him to encounter the boasting
ambassador, he trusted that he should so behave as to
cure him of his contempt for French valour.
"Ough!" quath Otuel, and lough,
"Whereto makest then it so tough?
Why threat me in another land,
When ich am here at thine hand ?
Gif thou havest will to fight,
When ever thou wolt, let thee dight,
And thou shalt find me ready, aplight,
In the field to 'bide fight."
"By God," quath Roland, "ich would be yare
When ich wist to find thee there!
And evil mot he thrive and the,
That first faileth of me and thee!"
The impetuous Otuel immediately named the next morning
for the time of meeting; and Roland having with equal
eagerness consented to the proposal, the two champions
threw down their gages, and solemnly pledged themselves to|
the performance of the battle. Charles, though personally
insulted by the arrogance of the Saracen, could not help
admiring his spirit, and lamenting that such an intrepid
warrior should be ignorant of the virtues of baptism. He
therefore earnestly conjured him to be baptized, and to forsake
his false faith, promising to reward his compliance by the
richest investiture that his spacious dominions could furnish.
Otuel only answered by fresh outrages; after which the king
at length bethought himself of making an inquiry, which perhaps
may be thought to have been unusually deferred, into
the rank and name of an ambassador, whose ready eloquence
was so much more remarkable than his courtesy.
Otuel answered this:
" A kingis son ich am, y-wis,
Sooth to say, and nought to lie,
Ich am the king's cousin Garsie.
Ferragus mine erne was,
That never overcomen nas.
Sir Roland, thy cousin, him slough;
Therefore will rise wo enough!
Therefore I desire so miche,
To fight with Roland sikerliche.
Ich wol tomorrowen in the day
Awreken his death, gif ich may.''
The mention of Ferragus convinced Charles that the arrogance
and discourtesy of the gallant stranger were family
failings, with which it would be useless to contend: he therefore
summoned his chamberlain, Sir Regnier, and strictly
enjoined him to take care that the representative of King
Garsie should be protected against any attack which the
eccentric manner of executing his commission might tend to
draw down upon him, and be conducted to his inn, with all
the honours to which, as a knight, he was entitled. Sir
Regnier accordingly attended the stranger in person to his
lodging, and, taking his leave with due ceremony, returned
Charlemagne had little sleep throughout the night. During
an attentive survey of Otuel's person, he had observed in him
the marks of unusual strength; inferior perhaps to that of his
colossal uncle, but not less formidable, because it was united
with much address and agility. He began to tremble for his|
nephew; and, rising before the lark, conducted Roland to
church, where they both heard mass and received absolution:
but early as they were at their devotions, they found, on their
return to the palace, the punctual Otuel already mounted and
armed at all points. The malicious Saracen, affecting to
overlook his adversary, addressed the king, and inquired after
his nephew. "Yesterday," said he. "the knight was full of
valour, and eager to fight me; perhaps he has been let blood,
and is now in a more peaceful temper of mind." " Thou
shalt soon feel," answered Roland, "whether my arm is bloodless.
He then hastened to put on his armour; whilst Otuel
calmly rode off to the place of combat, a small peninsula on
which they could tight without the fear of interruption.
Roland was not slow in following to the appointed spot;
but in his eagerness he missed the straight road which Otuel
had pursued, and, unwilling to trace back the winding bank
of the river, spurred his steed without hesitation, plunged
into the water, and swam over to the opposite side. The
encounter of the two champions was instant and terrible.
Their lances were shivered; their horses floundered at the
shock: but the riders were immoveable, and, having taken
their ground, drew their swords and began a closer and more
decisive conflict. Roland aimed a furious blow at his antagonist,|
but it glanced by him and pierced the brain of his
horse; upon which, with his usual courtesy, he reined back
his own, and waited till Otuel had disengaged himself, without
offering to renew the blow: but the thankless Saracen
only rallied him for his awkwardness in missing a knight,
whose stature afforded so fair an aim as to render the
butchery of the horse perfectly inexcusable. Otuel, however.
was soon guilty of the same awkwardness, and conscious that
his raillery might now be retorted, imitated the gallantry of
Roland, and waited till he had recovered his feet and could
engage on equal terms,—
And said, " Roland, so mote ich the,
That stroke ich meant to thee;
And now it is on thy steed y-stunt,
Lot now stand dunt for dunt."
The foot-combat which now commenced, proved that the
Saracen was worthy, from his strength, his skill, and his vigilance,|
to encounter the invincible Roland; who, feeling a high
esteem for his opponent, resolved to make another effort to
conciliate an enemy who might, if once converted, prove a
most valuable supporter of Christianity. He therefore repeated
the offer already made by Charlemagne, promising him
as a further inducement the hand of the beautiful Belisent,
the king's daughter; and Otuel, though he still refused the
proposal, now condescended for the first time to answer in
terms of courtesy. In the mean time, Charlemagne, who was
a near spectator of the combat, continued to survey it with
increasing trepidation. Roland, at length, growing angry,
made a dreadful blow at the head of Otuel, which he evaded
by a sudden motion of his body; but the sword in its descent
struck him on the loin with such violence as to bring him
with one knee to the ground. Charlemagne exulted; but the
Saracen instantly returned a stroke so well aimed, that it
cut away a considerable part of Roland's hauberk, and,
though it produced no effect on the wearer, terrified the king
to such a degree, that he began to anticipate the defeat and
death of his nephew. In this extremity he fell on his knees,
directing all his courtiers to imitate his example, and to pray
to heaven with all possible fervency that the heart of Otuel
might be turned and that he might become a proselyte.|
They did so; and the miracle immediately followed. A white
culver descended through the air, and, in the sight of all the
multitude, gently perched upon the crest of Otuel who
retreating a few steps, demanded a parley
And said, " Roland, thou smitest full sore!
Withdraw thine hond, and smiteth no more.
Gif thou wilt holden that thou me bet,
That ich shall wed that maiden sweet,
The kingis daughter Belisent,
Forsooth, then is my wille went,
Gif I shall wedden that fair may,
Ich will believen upon thy lay,
And alle mine gods forsake,
And to your God ich will take."
Roland replied that he was overjoyed at this change of
sentiment, aud sincerely thankful to "Jesu full of might,"
through whose special grace it had been operated. The two
champions now threw away their swords, and rushed into|
each other's arms, "embracing and kissing as if they had
been brothers;" and Charlemagne, who speedily joined them,
felt at least an equal joy in ratifying the conditions offered by
his nephew, observing that with four such knights as Roland,
Olivier, Ogier le Danois, and Otuel, he might bid defiance to
the united powers of the Saracen monarchs. They then
repaired to the palace, where they were welcomed by the
"mirth and melody of all manner of minstrelsy," in honour
of Otuel's conversion; and on the following day the new
proselyte received the gift of follaught (baptism) from the
hands of Archbishop Turpin.
It was Charlemagne's wish that the wedding should immediately
take place: but
Otuel to the king said,
" Sire, keep me well that maid;
Forsooth ich n'ill her never wed,
Ne never with her go to bed,
Ere this war to the end be brought,
And somewhat of thy will wrought.
When King Garsie is slawe or take,
Then is time marriage to make."
Charles, much pleased with the military zeal of his son-inlaw,
summoned a council of the twelve peers, and referred it
to them to decide whether he should immediately assemble
such forces as could be brought together and march against
Garsie, or wait till the conclusion of the winter. The latter
was decided on, and the remainder of the year was passed in
making preparations; so that they took the field in spring,
with an army not less formidable from its numbers than from
its discipline. A day of battle was appointed, as usual, and
a field chosen for the purpose, by agreement between the
hostile sovereigns; after which, Charles, marching into Lombardy,
encamped on a spacious plain, with his advanced guard
on the banks of a river, the other side of which was occupied
by the enemy. A bridge constructed by the French engineers,
where the ground was most favourable to their troops,
gave them the means of seizing the best moment for the
But a bridge afforded a temptation which French knights
could not resist; and Roland, Olivier, and Ogier le Danois,
though all invested with high commands in the army, were|
decoyed by the facility of proving their valour, and set off
one morning before sunrise in search of adventures. Their
first exploit was sufficiently fortunate. They met four Saracen
princes, called, " as we find in romaunce," Eurabeles,
Balsamum, Astaward, and Clarel; attacked them, killed the
three first, made Clarel prisoner, and were returning with all
haste to their own camp, when they perceived that their
retreat was effectually cut off by a large body of the enemy.
It now became necessary either to murder or dismiss their
prisoner, who was mounted behind Ogier; and as it would
have been base to destroy a knight who had trusted to their
loyalty, they liberated Clarel, and after swearing to defend
each other to the utmost of their power, and making numberless
signs of the cross in token of their unreserved submission
to the decrees of Providence, set spurs to their horses, and
rushed forward into the ranks of the enemy, through, which
they were resolved to cut themselves a passage.
The attempt was certainly rather desperate; but the three
friends were no common knights, and the Saracens who endeavoured
to stop their progress would have acted more wisely
by suffering them to effect their purpose. These were Birun,
Bassan, and Moter, all three cavaliers of great prowess, who|
were successively killed, together with a great number of
their followers. But the Saracens were now assembling from,
all quarters. The soudan of Tabarie, named Carmel, arrived
in time to rally the fugitives, and. attacking Ogier le Danois,
threw him. severely wounded, to the ground. "Another soudan,
called Anawe of Nubia, rode to meet Olivier, and unhorsed
him. Roland indeed killed them both, and enabled
Olivier to remount; but while these two heroes were with
great difficulty making their way through the crowds which,
opposed them, the wounded Ogier was still on foot, assailed
on all sides, and effectually cut off from his companions. At
this moment. King Clarel perceived his situa tion, and, riding
up, advised him to surrender, and received his sword.
Clarel was no wedded man;
Clarel had a fair leman,
That was hoten Aufanie,
And was born in Ermony.
Clarel, anon rights,
Cleped to him two knights,
And said to him anon,
" To my leman shall ye gon,
And say that I sent her this knight,
And, that his wound be healed aright,
And good heed to him nom,
To saven him till my to-come.''
Whilst Ogier was thus made prisoner by the man whom he
had hoped, a few hours before, to carry to the feet of Charlemagne,
and whilst Roland and Olivier were glad, after a long
and dangerous struggle, to save themselves from the same
calamity by a precipitate flight, Otuel had quietly concerted
the best measures to repair the bad effects of their rashness.
Having armed himself and all his knights, he repaired to
And said, " Sire, ich dwell too long!
Roland, Olivier, and Ogier the strong,
Over the water alle three
Beth y-went, for envy of me,
To look where they mighten speed
To don any doughty deed,
Among the Saracens bold :
And I should be coward hold.
Therefore I ne will no longer abide;
To sechen hem ich wol ride.
Though they habben envy of me,
Ich will, for the love of thee,
Fonden whether ich might comen
To helpen hem, lest they weren y-nomen.
And gif hem any harm betit,
Let hem witen her own wit."
The king expressed to him the most lively gratitude, and
earnestly entreated him to push forward with all possible
expedition, assuring him that the whole army should be immediately
inarched forward for the purpose of assisting his
efforts. Otuel, therefore, having with him many of the
dousiperes, and all the youngest and most active of the French
cavalry, crossed the river, and galloped on at full speed to the|
rescue of the generals. He had not advanced far before he
met the two fugitives, who instantly checked their horses, and
turned back with him to charge the enemy; but, being questioned
by him respecting the fate of Ogier, were obliged to
answer that they had lost sight of him long since, and that,
being much wounded, he was likely to have fallen into the
hands of the enemy.
"Alas! alas!" quath Otuel,
" This tiding liketh me nought well!
Sire Charles, my lord the king,
Wol be sorry for this tiding!
For Godis love, hie we blive,
And look we whether Ogier be alive!"
Roland and Olivier were not less anxious than himself to
recover their lost companion; and these formidable knights
were exerting their utmost speed for this purpose, when their
way was crossed by a Saracen, whose name not unaptly described
his qualities, the huge and redoubtable Encumbrer.
Otuel, with the rapidity of lightning, pierced the massive
champion, and overthrew his black horse; whilst Roland,
Olivier, and Estuyt of Legers, bore down three more of|
Garsie's officers, and thus set an example to the rest of the
French knights, which they followed with their usual impetuosity.
A king of India, named Erpater, armed with a
mace of brass, ventured to attack the gallant Otuel, and struck
him with a violence which would have stunned a common
hero; but was soon punished for his temerity, being cloven
from the head to the shoulders. Clarel alone, the fiercest
of the remaining Saracens, was able to oppose some resistance
to the French knights, and to stop for a short time the disorder
of his own troops; who, however, were only saved from
a total defeat by the approach of night, and consequent cessation
Tho the ost was withdraw,
To resten hem, as is the law,
King Clarel came, in form of peace,
With three fellows, ne mo ne less,
Towards Charles's ost the king,
and Otuel went to meet him, and to inquire into the purport
of his embassy. Clarel, instead of answering his questions,
begged in the first instance to know his name, having had|
many opportunities, during the late battle, of witnessing his
" By God, fellow;" quath Otuel,
" Ere this thou know my name full well!
So God shield me from shame,
Otuel is my Christian name!
Mahoum ich habbe forsake,
And Jesu ich habbe me take."
This discovery produced, as might be naturally expected, a
violent dispute and quarrel between the Christian convert and
the rigid Saracen, and ended by a determination of fighting,
next morning, a duel in the Christian camp; Otuel having
previously pledged his honour that no insult should be offered
to his antagonist, and that the merit of their respective religions
should be fairly tried by an appeal to the sword. Clarel
was punctual to his time, and at day break appeared fully armed
before the royal pavilion; where, relying on his safe-conduct, he
thought fit, while expecting the arrival of Otuel, to amuse
himself with insulting the venerable person of Charlemagne,—|
And said, " Charles, thou art old!
Who made thee now so bold
To warren upon King Garsie,
That is chief of all Paynie ?
All Paynie he haveth in wold;
Thou doatest, the thou art so bold!"
Charles, it must be confessed, had submitted to still greater
insults from Otuel; but then he had been in some degree
taken by surprise; besides which that chief, was a privileged
ambassador, and moreover the nephew of Ferragus the giant;
whereas he was now elated with victory, and thereby rendered
so irascible that he determined on the instant to punish
Clarel's presumption, and actually sent for his armour and
prepared for the combat. It is even probable that the expostulations
of Roland and of his other knights would have been
insufficient to deter him from his purpose: but Otuel. to
whom he had lately paid much more deference, convinced him
that no personal offence ought to prevent the decision of a
quarrel founded on a theological dispute; and consequently
that his majesty, though he had " sworn his oath," ought in
the present instance to desist, leaving to him the task of
punishing Clarel for his mistaken opinions in religion, and for|
his contempt of old emperors.
In the combat with the lance, both champions were, as
usual, brought to the ground; after which they drew their
swords, and buffeted each other for a competent time, and
then, growing very angry, mutually exerted all their powers.
At this period of the battle, Clarel made a blow at his adversary,
which nearly stunned him, and which he promised to
Otuel, for wrath, anon
Areight him on the cheek-bone;
All the fell off that was there,
And made his teeth all bare.
Tho Otuel saw his cheek-bone,
He gave Clarel a scorn anon,
And said, " Clarel! so smote thou the,
Why shewest thou thy teeth to me!
I nam no tooth-drawere!
Thou ne seest me no chain bear."
Clarel feeled him wounded sore,
And was maimed for evermore;
And smote to Otuel with all his might.
And Otuel, that doughty knight,
With his sword kept the dent
That Clarel him had y-meant,
And yet the dint slode adown,
And smote Otuel upon the crown.
Quath Otuel, " By Godis ore,
Saracen, thou smitest full sore!
Sith then thy beard was y-shave,
Thou art woxen a strong knave!"
Otuel smote Clarel tho
O stroke, and no mo,
That never eft word he ne spake.
The event of this combat was celebrated by festivities and
rejoicings in the camp of Charles, and spread grief and consternation
through that of Garsie, who, however, determined
on revenge, and meditated a general attack on the Christians
at the moment when they, informed by spies of his intentions,
marched forward for the purpose of assailing him. The|
armies soon met; and the battle began, as usual, by a skirmish
of the principal officers on both sides. A Turquein of
great prowess, but whose name is not mentioned, rode against
Roland, and caused him to lose one of his stirrups, but on a
second charge was killed by the Christian knight. A second
named Myafle of Bagounde, unhorsed and wounded Olivier,
but was instantly pierced by the spear of Roland. A third,
called Galatin, was slain by Otuel. At the same time a
young and beardless knight, followed by a troop of bachelors,
all under twenty years of age. nobly seconded the efforts of
the three Christian heroes, and spread terror through the ranks
of the Saracens. He had even the honour of rapturing a Turkish
prince, named Coursaber, and of sending him as his
prisoner to Charlemagne: but, being carried too far by his
impetuosity, was in imminent danger of being killed by the
terrible Poidras of Barbary, when he was rescued by Otuel,
who assaulted Poidras so violently " that there he lay like a
Garsie, who perceived that many of his best knights had
fallen, and that the dangers of the battle were likely to
approach his sacred person, began to feel great displeasure;
and calling to Arperaunt. one of his favourite advisers,
reminded him that the defeat of the French and the punishment
of Otuel had been solemnly decreed in council, and|
requested him to propose immediately some easy means of
earning that decree into effect. Arperaunt frankly confessed
that whilst Roland and Olivier were alive, and Otuel continued
to brandish his good sword Corrouge, he saw no mode
of accomplishing those salutary measures: upon which Garsie,
addressing himself to Baldolf of Aquileut, a general of known
hardihood, ordered him to stop the fugitives and lead them
against the Christians, promising to follow in person with
the rest of the army, and to assist in the capture of Otuel.
Quath Baldolf, " By Sire Mahoun,
Laverd, we will don what we moun.
And come thou after, and take heed
Which manner that we speed;
And, gif thou seest that need be,
Come and help us ere we flee.
For, when a host to flight is went,
But succour come, it shal be shent."
Baldolf kept his word, and did what he could; and Karnifees,
one of the fiercest of the Saracen champions, assisted
him so manfully that they succeeded for a time in rallying
their troops; but Karnifees, being so rash as to encounter
Otuel, was speedily killed, after which the disorder of the
Saracens became irrecoverable.
The Saracens were so adread,
Into the water many fled;
Some swam, and some sunk,
And cold water enough they drunk.
The author has now the good nature to recollect the unfortunate
Ogier le Danois, whom he had left some time since a
prisoner, under the care of Clarel's leman. This fair Armenian
began by curing his wounds; but, after the death of
Clarel, treated him with great severity, and confined him in
a dungeon under the guard of seven knights. Fortunately|
there was a noble squire, who took pity on his suffering, and
determined to share his fortunes. Through his means, Ogier
recovered his horse and arms, and forthwith killed four out
of the seven knights, his jailors; and then hastening to the
castle-gate, obtained the means of escape through the device
of the same squire, who persuaded the porter that they were
two adventurers going in search of plunder to the Christian
camp, and promised him a share of their booty. Thus was
the good Ogier liberated from prison, and thus had he the
good fortune of contributing his share towards the final discomforture
of the unbelievers. Though he had ridden all
night without once alighting, the joy of seeing his old companions,
Roland and Olivier, and the amusement of killing
Saracens, prevented his feeling fatigue or requiring any other
refreshment; arid it may be presumed that his horse, who
readily took his usual place in the battle, must have participated
in the feelings of his rider.
The fortune of the day, as we have seen, was already
decided; and the arrival of such a warrior as Ogier could not
fail of precipitating the flight of the enemy Garsie, who
had advanced for the purpose of capturing Otuel, finding
this impracticable, rode off towards his tents, and was much
surprised at being overtaken by his ungracious cousin, and by
his three Christian companions:
King Garsie saide this;
" For his love that God is,
Taketh me alive, and slayeth me nought;
Let my life be for-bought!
And let me, as a prisoun, gon
Before King Charles anon,
And don him homage with mine hond.
To holden of him all my lond."
Otuel observed to his three companions, that there seemed
to be no objection to saving the life of a man whose death
would be perfectly unprofitable to all parties, and they having
agreed in the same opinion, he conducted his prisoner to
Charlemagne, and explained to him that Garsie had only
stipulated for the preservation of his life, and had voluntarily
consented to a state of unconditional vassalage and dependance
on the crown of France.
Thus ends the Auchinleck MS.—In the continuation of
the story, Otuel appears to be almost forgotten, though his
name occurs two or three times towards the end of the
romance, for the sole purpose, as it should seem, of justifying
its title. I have already observed that such a continuation
would scarcely deserve notice, but that it presents us with
the concluding scene in Turpin's history, the battle of Roncesvalles.
Charles having thus terminated the campaign of Lombardy,
led his unsuccessful rival to Paris, where Garsie, convinced that
it was out of the power of Mahomet or Apolyn to obtain for
him such terms as he might secure by embracing Christianity,
consented to be baptized by the hands of Archbishop Turpin.
Soon after this, Charles received intelligence that Ibrahim,
king of Seville, having united his forces with those of the
king of Cordes, was encamped near that city; he therefore
collected an army with all possible expedition, and marched
to attack them. He found them
With batayles stern ten;
The first waren foot-men
That grisliche were of cheer;
With hair they were be-hong,
And beardys swithe long.
And homes in hond hare.
These ugly troops were also provided with numberless bells
and other sonorous instruments, which added to the hideous|
shouts and yells with which they advanced to the attack
produced a discord truly diabolical. It will readily be believed
that the valorous knights, who formed the van of the
Christian army, were very little disturbed either by the
abominable features, or by the grotesque gesticulations, or by
the discordant noises of these uncouth antagonists: but their
horses, which were perfectly unprepared for an encounter with
such musicians in masquerade, utterly refused to approach
them, and when roused by the spur from the lethargy of
astonishment into which they had been plunged by the unexpected
sight, suddenly dispersed in all directions, and, charging
the French infantry with the rapidity of lightning, threw
them into confusion; after which, communicating the panic
to the body of reserve, they hurried the astonished Charlemagne,
together with his twelve peers, several miles from the
field of battle.
The infantry, having at length gained a commanding eminence,
were easily rallied, because they could not run much|
further; but it was not till late in the evening that they were
joined by the cavalry, when the king commanded them to
pitch their tents. On the following morning he gave orders
that the ears of all the horses in the army should be carefully
stopped with wax, and that they should at the same time be
hood-winked; after which he marched forward in good order
to meet the enemy. The Saracens were now repulsed in their
turn; but maintained an obstinate conflict in defence of their
sacred standard, which was carried in a car drawn by twelve
oxen. On this occasion, Charlemagne exhibited the greatest
heroism, and drawing his good sword Joyeuse, rushed into
the midst of his enemies, forced his way to the standard, cut
in two the long and massive spear on which it was reared,
and shortly after clove the skull of the ferocious Ibrahim the
tyrant of Seville. Eight thousand Saracens fell in this battle;
and on the following day the king of Cordes, who had escaped
into the city, was forced to surrender, and to do homage to
Charles, after promising to renounce his former creed, and to
embrace the doctrines of Christianity.
Immediately after this victory the French army was called
off to repress the inroads of the king of Navarre; and on this
occasion the pious Charles was gratified by a fresh miracle
It is well known that those who die in battle against the
infidels are rewarded by the crown of martyrdom; and if this|
were not a matter of course, it was in the present case secured
by the express promise made by St. James to Charles in his
sleep. Now the good king wished to know bow many of his
knights were predestined to lose their lives on this occasion,
and prayed to heaven that his curiosity might be satisfied.
Accordingly the intended victims were all marked with a red
cross on their shoulder; but Charles, finding their number
much greater than he expected, and wishing to obtain a
cheaper victory, left them all behind in a place of security,
attacked the enemy, gained the battle, and returned without
loss. In the mean time those for whom he had been thus
solicitous had all expired: and thus did the good king learn
that it is useless to oppose the designs of Providence.
Having at length secured the submission of Spain, by distributing
all his conquests either amongst his own friends or
amongst those of his benefactor St. James, Charlemagne
became desirous of returning into France; but feeling some
uneasiness at leaving behind him two Saracen kings, named
Marsire and Baligand, who then resided at Saragossa, he dispatched
an ambassador to inform them that they must immediately|
consent to be baptized, or else pay him tribute. The
ambassador whom he chose for this mission was the celebrated
Guines or Ganelon, whose duty to his sovereign and to his
country was soon overpowered by a present of thirty somers
(beasts of burthen) laden with gold and silver, which the
artful Saracens offered to him on condition of his undertaking
to lead the French army into the defiles of the forest of
And thritti steedes with gold fine
To Charles sent that Sarrazin,
All they were white as flour;
And an hundred tuns of wine.
That was both good and fine.
And swithe fair colour.
At the same time they permitted Ganelon to make, in their
name, whatever promises he might think necessary for preventing
any suspicions in the mind of Charlemagne.
The traitor executed his commission with great address,
and suggested such a disposition of the French army as insured
the destruction of Roland and of all his companions.
Charles in person commanded one-half of the army, and was
suffered to pass the mountains unmolested, and to descend
into the open country; but no sooner had Roland, who conducted
the second division, advanced into the forest of Roncesvalles,
than he found himself attacked on all sides by the
Saracens, who had been previously posted on every eminence,
and had concerted every measure for the surprise of the Christians.
Roland, as might be expected, made a desperate resistance,
and, being assisted by all the best knights of France,
nearly annihilated the first body of his assailants; but the
Saracens continued to receive constant reinforcements, while
the Christians were exhausted by fatigue and hunger. Constantine
of Rome, Ogier le Danois, Reynald de Moutauban,
Sir Bertram the standard-bearer, and many others of less note,
after performing prodigies of valour, were successively slain.
Olivier, covered with wounds, was at length overpowered,|
and Roland, after singly cutting his way through the enemy,
perceived that all hopes of retreat were lost, and that nothing
remained fur him but to seek for an opportunity of dying
honourably in the field.
After wandering for some time in the forest, he discovered
a single Saracen, whom he secured and bound to a tree; after
which, having gained an eminence from whence he could discover
the situation of the enemy, he sounded his ivory horn,
collected round him a small number of his fugitive soldiers,
and, returning with them to his prisoner, unbound him, and
promised him life on condition that he should point out to
them the person of King Marsire. The Saracen readily
obeyed, and showed him the king mounted on a bay charger,
and bearing a golden dragon on his shield: upon which
Roland, setting spurs to his horse, dashed through the surrounding
guards, and with one blow clove his enemy to the
saddle-bows. Baligand collected the remains of the Saracen
army, and retreated to Saragossa.
Roland, now covered with wounds, and beginning to suffer
severely from fever and from thirst, dismounted from his horse,
lay down under a tree, and. drawing his good sword Durindale,
Tho he began to make his moan,
And fast looked thereupon,
As he it held in his hond.
" O sword of great might,
Better bare never no knight,
To win with no lond!
Thou hast y-be in many batayle,
That never Sarrazin, sauns fayle,
Ne might thy stroke withstond.
Go! let never no Paynim
Into batayle bear him,
After the death of Roland!
O sword of great powere,
In this world nis nought thy peer,
Of no metal y-wrought;
All Spain and Galice
Through grace of God and thee, y-wis,
To Christendom ben brought.
Thou art good withouten blame;
In thee is graven the holy name
That all things made of nought!"
After these words he rose, and, exerting his whole force,
struck the sword against a rock in hopes of breaking it: but
Durindale sunk deep into the solid stone; and when he had
with some difficulty drawn it out, he found the edge uninjured.
The dying hero now blew his ivory horn, in hopes of drawing
round him some friends, if any such had escaped from the
battle, to whom he might consign his sword, and who might
join with him in prayer during his last moments. No one
appeared. He made a second effort, and with such violence
that he burst the horn, and at the same time so distended all
his veins that his wounds began to bleed most abundantly,
and soon reduced him almost to extremity. The sound of this
blast was distinctly heard in the army of Charlemagne, who
wished to return in search of his nephew, but was persuaded
by Ganelon, that Roland could be in no danger, but was most
probably amusing himself by hunting in the forest. It
brought, however, to Roland, two of his companions, Sir
Baldwin and Sir Terry, who having escaped the general
slaughter had been hitherto wandering through the forest, and
whom he sent in search of some water, which however they
were unable to find. In the mean time a Saracen, coming by
chance to the spot where the hero lay. endeavoured to carry
off Durindale; but Roland, suddenly starting up, wrenched
the sword from his hand, killed him with one blow, and|
fainted with the exertion : so that Sir Baldwin, finding him
apparently lifeless, laid him with great care across his horse,
took care of his sword and horn, and conducted him to an
adjoining valley, where the hero recovering his senses had
time to make a very long prayer before he expired; when his
soul was immediately carried up to heaven by a troop of
Archbishop Turpin was, at this moment, saying mass for
the souls of the dead, and distinctly heard the songs of these
angels, who were, however, too distant to be seen : but at the
same time he discovered and interrogated a troop of black
fiends, who were flying to hell with the soul of King Marsire,
and who reported to him the death of Roland, which he
instantly notified to Charlemagne.
The good king instantly set off towards Roncesvalles, and
being met by Sir Baldwin, who confirmed the deposition of
the devils, was conducted by him to the body of Roland,
over which he swooned two or three times, and uttered many
learned but tedious lamentations. He then prepared for
vengeance; and, having first prayed to Heaven that the sun
might be stopped for him, as it had formerly been for Josua,|
(a favour which was readily granted to him,) led his army
against Saragossa, where Baligand had found a retreat. In
this battle, Sir Turpin distinguished himself by many acts of
extraordinary valour, as did also Sir Hugon, Sir Thibaut,
Charlemagne, and Otuel, of whom we have long lost sight,
but who is now brought forward for the purpose of killing
Perigon, king of Persia, whilst Turpin has the honour of
destroying the treacherous Baligand. Sixty thousand Saracens,
it seems, were slain in this long and murderous day;
after which Charles returned to the fatal field of Roncesvalles;
where Sir Terry, having formally accused Ganelon of causing
the destruction of the French army, and having proved his
charge in single combat, that traitor was condemned to be
hanged, and then torn into quarters by four horses. Having
thus revenged the death of his nephew,
Charlys took his knights,
And went to Roland, anonrights,
With swithe great dolour;
I shall conclude the extract from about eleven hundred very
Rolandys body he let dight.
With myrrh and balm anonright,
With'swithe good odour.
Both Roland and Oliver,
And everych of the dussyper
With balm weren y-dight;
Of some, withouten fail.
Men didden out the entrayle,
And in lead layd hem aright:
And the that weren nought so,
Full well in salt men did hem do.
To be sweet both day and night.
insipid lines in the words of the author.
Here endeth Otuel, Roland, and Olyvere,
And of the twelve dussypere,
That dieden in the batayle of Runcyvale:
Jesu lord, heaven king.
To his bliss hem and us both bring,
To liven withouten bale !
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