Song of Roland

Laisses 215-272


First before all was armed that Emperour,

Nimbly enough his iron sark indued,

Laced up his helm, girt on his sword Joiuse,

Outshone the sun that dazzling light it threw,

Hung from his neck a shield, was of Girunde,

And took his spear, was fashioned at Blandune.

On his good horse then mounted, Tencendur,

Which he had won at th'ford below Marsune

When he flung dead Malpalin of Nerbune,

Let go the reins, spurred him with either foot;

Five score thousand behind him as he flew,

Calling on God and the Apostle of Roum.



Through all the field dismount the Frankish men,

Five-score thousand and more, they arm themselves;

The gear they have enhances much their strength,

Their horses swift, their arms are fashioned well;

Mounted they are, and fight with great science.

Find they that host, battle they'll render them.

Their gonfalons flutter above their helms.

When Charles sees the fair aspect of them,

He calls to him Jozeran of Provence,

Naimon the Duke, with Antelme of Maience:

"In such vassals should man have confidence,

Whom not to trust were surely want of sense;

Unless the Arabs of coming here repent,

Then Rollant's life, I think, we'll dearly sell."

Answers Duke Neimes: "God grant us his consent!"



Charles hath called Rabel and Guineman;

Thus said the King: "My lords, you I command

To take their place, Olivier and Rollant,

One bear the sword and the other the olifant;

So canter forth ahead, before the van,

And in your train take fifteen thousand Franks,

Young bachelors, that are most valiant.

As many more shall after them advance,

Whom Gebuins shall lead, also Lorains."

Naimes the Duke and the count Jozerans

Go to adjust these columns in their ranks.

Find they that host, they'll make a grand attack.



Of Franks the first columns made ready there,

After those two a third they next prepare;

In it are set the vassals of Baiviere,

Some thousand score high-prized chevaliers;

Never was lost the battle, where they were:

Charles for no race neath heaven hath more care,

Save those of France, who realms for him conquered.

The Danish chief, the warrior count Oger,

Shall lead that troop, for haughty is their air.



Three columns now, he has, the Emperour Charles.

Naimes the Duke a fourth next sets apart

Of good barons, endowed with vassalage;

Germans they are, come from the German March,

A thousand score, as all said afterward;

They're well equipped with horses and with arms,

Rather they'll die than from the battle pass;

They shall be led by Hermans, Duke of Trace,

Who'll die before he's any way coward.



Naimes the Duke and the count Jozerans

The fifth column have mustered, of Normans,

A thousand score, or so say all the Franks;

Well armed are they, their horses charge and prance;

Rather they'ld die, than eer be recreant;

No race neath heav'n can more in th'field compass.

Richard the old, lead them in th'field he shall,

He'll strike hard there with his good trenchant lance.



The sixth column is mustered of Bretons;

Thirty thousand chevaliers therein come;

These canter in the manner of barons,

Upright their spears, their ensigns fastened on.

The overlord of them is named Oedon,

Who doth command the county Nevelon,

Tedbald of Reims and the marquis Oton:

"Lead ye my men, by my commission."



That Emperour hath now six columns yare

Naimes the Duke the seventh next prepares

Of Peitevins and barons from Alverne;

Forty thousand chevaliers might be there;

Their horses good, their arms are all most fair.

They're neath a cliff, in a vale by themselves;

With his right hand King Charles hath them blessed,

Them Jozerans shall lead, also Godselmes.



And the eighth column hath Naimes made ready;

Tis of Flamengs, and barons out of Frise;

Forty thousand and more good knights are these,

Nor lost by them has any battle been.

And the King says: "These shall do my service."

Between Rembalt and Hamon of Galice

Shall they be led, for all their chivalry.



Between Naimon and Jozeran the count

Are prudent men for the ninth column found,

Of Lotherengs and those out of Borgoune;

Fifty thousand good knights they are, by count;

In helmets laced and sarks of iron brown,

Strong are their spears, short are the shafts cut down;

If the Arrabits demur not, but come out

And trust themselves to these, they'll strike them down.

Tierris the Duke shall lead them, of Argoune.



The tenth column is of barons of France,

Five score thousand of our best capitans;

Lusty of limb, and proud of countenance,

Snowy their heads are, and their beards are blanched,

In doubled sarks, and in hauberks they're clad,

Girt on their sides Frankish and Spanish brands

And noble shields of divers cognisance.

Soon as they mount, the battle they demand,

"Monjoie" they cry. With them goes Charlemagne.

Gefreid d'Anjou carries that oriflamme;

Saint Peter's twas, and bare the name Roman,

But on that day Monjoie, by change, it gat.



That Emperour down from his horse descends;

To the green grass, kneeling, his face he bends.

Then turns his eyes towards the Orient,

Calls upon God with heartiest intent:

"Very Father, this day do me defend,

Who to Jonas succour didst truly send

Out of the whale's belly, where he was pent;

And who didst spare the king of Niniven,

And Daniel from marvellous torment

When he was caged within the lions' den;

And three children, all in a fire ardent:

Thy gracious Love to me be here present.

In Thy Mercy, if it please Thee, consent

That my nephew Rollant I may avenge.

When he had prayed, upon his feet he stepped,

With the strong mark of virtue signed his head;

Upon his swift charger the King mounted

While Jozerans and Neimes his stirrup held;

He took his shield, his trenchant spear he kept;

Fine limbs he had, both gallant and well set;

Clear was his face and filled with good intent.

Vigorously he cantered onward thence.

In front, in rear, they sounded their trumpets,

Above them all boomed the olifant again.

Then all the Franks for pity of Rollant wept.


That Emperour canters in noble array,

Over his sark all of his beard displays;

For love of him, all others do the same,

Five score thousand Franks are thereby made plain.

They pass those peaks, those rocks and those mountains,

Those terrible narrows, and those deep vales,

Then issue from the passes and the wastes

Till they are come into the March of Spain;

A halt they've made, in th'middle of a plain.

To Baligant his vanguard comes again

A Sulian hath told him his message:

"We have seen Charles, that haughty sovereign;

Fierce are his men, they have no mind to fail.

Arm yourself then: Battle you'll have to-day."

Says Baligant: "Mine is great vassalage;

Let horns this news to my pagans proclaim."


Through all the host they have their drums sounded,

And their bugles, and, very clear trumpets.

Pagans dismount, that they may arm themselves.

Their admiral will stay no longer then;

Puts on a sark, embroidered in the hems,

Laces his helm, that is with gold begemmed;

After, his sword on his left side he's set,

Out of his pride a name for it he's spelt

Like to Carlun's, as he has heard it said,

So Preciuse he bad his own be clept;

Twas their ensign when they to battle went,

His chevaliers'; he gave that cry to them.

His own broad shield he hangs upon his neck,

(Round its gold boss a band of crystal went,

The strap of it was a good silken web;)

He grasps his spear, the which he calls Maltet; --

So great its shaft as is a stout cudgel,

Beneath its steel alone, a mule had bent;

On his charger is Baligant mounted,

Marcules, from over seas, his stirrup held.

That warrior, with a great stride he stepped,

Small were his thighs, his ribs of wide extent,

Great was his breast, and finely fashioned,

With shoulders broad and very clear aspect;

Proud was his face, his hair was ringleted,

White as a flow'r in summer was his head.

His vassalage had often been proved.

God! what a knight, were he a Christian yet!

His horse he's spurred, the clear blood issued;

He's gallopped on, over a ditch he's leapt,

Full fifty feet a man might mark its breadth.

Pagans cry out: "Our Marches shall be held;

There is no Frank, may once with him contest,

Will he or nill, his life he'll soon have spent.

Charles is mad, that he departs not hence."



That admiral to a baron's like enough,

White is his beard as flowers by summer burnt;

In his own laws, of wisdom hath he much;

And in battle he's proud and arduous.

His son Malprimes is very chivalrous,

He's great and strong; -- his ancestors were thus.

Says to his sire: "To canter then let us!

I marvel much that soon we'll see Carlun."

Says Baligant: " Yea, for he's very pruff;

In many tales honour to him is done;

He hath no more Rollant, his sister's son,

He'll have no strength to stay in fight with us."



"Fair son Malprimes," then says t'him Baligant,

"Was slain yestreen the good vassal Rollanz,

And Oliver, the proof and valiant,

The dozen peers, whom Charles so cherished, and

Twenty thousand more Frankish combatants.

For all the rest I'ld not unglove my hand.

But the Emperour is verily come back,

-- So tells me now my man, that Sulian --

Ten great columns he's set them in their ranks;

He's a proof man who sounds that olifant,

With a clear call he rallies his comrades;

These at the head come cantering in advance,

Also with them are fifteen thousand Franks,

Young bachelors, whom Charles calls Infants;

As many again come following that band,

Who will lay on with utmost arrogance."

Then says Malprimes: "The first blow I demand."



"Fair son Malprimes," says Baligant to him,

"I grant it you, as you have asked me this;

Against the Franks go now, and smite them quick.

And take with you Torleu, the Persian king

And Dapamort, another king Leutish.

Their arrogance if you can humble it,

Of my domains a slice to you I'll give

From Cheriant unto the Vale Marquis."

"I thank you, Sire!" Malprimes answers him;

Going before, he takes delivery;

'Tis of that land, was held by king Flurit.

After that hour he never looked on it,

Investiture gat never, nor seizin.


That admiral canters among his hosts;

After, his son with's great body follows,

Torleus the king, and the king Dapamort;

Thirty columns most speedily they form.

They've chevaliers in marvellous great force;

Fifty thousand the smallest column holds.

The first is raised of men from Butenrot,

The next, after, Micenes, whose heads are gross;

Along their backs, above their spinal bones,

As they were hogs, great bristles on them grow.

The third is raised from Nubles and from Blos;

The fourth is raised from Bruns and Esclavoz;

The fifth is raised from Sorbres and from Sorz;

The sixth is raised from Ermines and from Mors;

The seventh is the men of Jericho;

Negroes are the eighth; the ninth are men of Gros;

The tenth is raised from Balide the stronghold,

That is a tribe no goodwill ever shews.

That admiral hath sworn, the way he knows,

By Mahumet, his virtues and his bones:

"Charles of France is mad to canter so;

Battle he'll have, unless he take him home;

No more he'll wear on's head that crown of gold."


Ten great columns they marshal thereafter;

Of Canelious, right ugly, is the first,

Who from Val-Fuit came across country there;

The next's of Turks; of Persians is the third;

The fourth is raised of desperate Pinceners,

The fifth is raised from Soltras and Avers;

The sixth is from Ormaleus and Eugez;

The seventh is the tribe of Samuel;

The eighth is from Bruise; the ninth from Esclavers;

The tenth is from Occiant, the desert,

That is a tribe, do not the Lord God serve,

Of such felons you never else have heard;

Hard is their hide, as though it iron were,

Wherefore of helm or hauberk they've no care;

In the battle they're felon murderers.



That admiral ten columns more reviews;

The first is raised of Giants from Malpruse;

The next of Huns; the third a Hungar crew;

And from Baldise the Long the fourth have trooped;

The fifth is raised of men from Val-Penuse;

The sixth is raised of tribesmen from Maruse;

The seventh is from Leus and Astrimunes;

The eighth from Argoilles; the ninth is from Clarbune;

The tenth is raised of beardsmen from Val-Frunde,

That is a tribe, no love of God e'er knew.

Gesta Francor' these thirty columns prove.

Great are the hosts, their horns come sounding through.

Pagans canter as men of valour should.



That admiral hath great possessions;

He makes them bear before him his dragon,

And their standard, Tervagan's and Mahom's,

And his image, Apollin the felon.

Ten Canelious canter in the environs,

And very loud the cry out this sermon:

"Let who would from our gods have garrison,

Serve them and pray with great affliction."

Pagans awhile their heads and faces on

Their breasts abase, their polished helmets doff.

And the Franks say: "Now shall you die, gluttons;

This day shall bring you vile confusion!

Give warranty, our God, unto Carlon!

And in his name this victory be won!"



That admiral hath wisdom great indeed;

His son to him and those two kings calls he:

My lords barons, beforehand canter ye,

All my columns together shall you lead;

But of the best I'll keep beside me three:

One is of Turks; the next of Ormaleis;

And the third is the Giants of Malpreis.

And Occiant's, they'll also stay with me,

Until with Charles and with the Franks they meet.

That Emperour, if he combat with me,

Must lose his head, cut from his shoulders clean;

He may be sure naught else for him's decreed.



Great are the hosts, and all the columns fair,

No peak nor vale nor cliff between them there,

Thicket nor wood, nor ambush anywhere;

Across the plain they see each other well.

Says Baligant: "My pagan tribes adverse,

Battle to seek, canter ye now ahead!"

Carries the ensign Amboires of Oluferne;

Pagans cry out, by Preciuse they swear.

And the Franks say: "Great hurt this day you'll get!"

And very loud "Monjoie!" they cry again.

That Emperour has bid them sound trumpets;

And the olifant sounds over all its knell.

The pagans say: "Carlun's people are fair.

Battle we'll have, bitter and keenly set."



Great is that plain, and wide is that country;

Their helmets shine with golden jewellery,

Also their sarks embroidered and their shields,

And the ensigns fixed on all their burnished spears.

The trumpets sound, their voice is very clear,

And the olifant its echoing music speaks.

Then the admiral, his brother calleth he,

'Tis Canabeus, the king of Floredee,

Who holds the land unto the Vale Sevree;

He's shewn to him Carlun's ten companies:

"The pride of France, renowned land, you see.

That Emperour canters right haughtily,

His bearded men are with him in the rear;

Over their sarks they have thrown out their beards

Which are as white as driven snows that freeze.

Strike us they will with lances and with spears:

Battle with them we'll have, prolonged and keen;

Never has man beheld such armies meet."

Further than one might cast a rod that's peeled

Goes Baligant before his companies.

His reason then he's shewn to them, and speaks:

"Pagans, come on; for now I take the field."

His spear in hand he brandishes and wields,

Towards Carlun has turned the point of steel.



Charles the Great, when he sees the admiral

And the dragon, his ensign and standard; --

(In such great strength are mustered those Arabs

Of that country they've covered every part

Save only that whereon the Emperour was.)

The King of France in a loud voice has called:

"Barons and Franks, good vassals are ye all,

Ye in the field have fought so great combats;

See the pagans; they're felons and cowards,

No pennyworth is there in all their laws.

Though they've great hosts, my lords, what matters that?

Let him go hence, who'ld fail me in the attack."

Next with both spurs he's gored his horse's flanks,

And Tencendor has made four bounds thereat.

Then say the Franks: "This King's a good vassal.

Canter, brave lord, for none of us holds back."


Clear is the day, and the sun radiant;

The hosts are fair, the companies are grand.

The first columns are come now hand to hand.

The count Rabel and the count Guinemans

Let fall the reins on their swift horses' backs,

Spurring in haste; then on rush all the Franks,

And go to strike, each with his trenchant lance.



That count Rabel, he was a hardy knight,

He pricked his horse with spurs of gold so fine,

The Persian king, Torleu, he went to strike.

Nor shield nor sark could such a blow abide;

The golden spear his carcass passed inside;

Flung down upon a little bush, he died.

Then say the Franks: "Lord God, be Thou our Guide!

Charles we must not fail; his cause is right."



And Guineman tilts with the king Leutice;

Has broken all the flowers on his shield,

Next of his sark he has undone the seam,

All his ensign thrust through the carcass clean,

So flings him dead, let any laugh or weep.

Upon that blow, the Franks cry out with heat:

"Strike on, baron, nor slacken in your speed!

Charle's in the right against the pagan breed;

God sent us here his justice to complete."



Pure white the horse whereon Malprimes sate;

Guided his corse amid the press of Franks,

Hour in, hour out, great blows he struck them back,

And, ever, dead one upon others packed.

Before them all has cried out Baligant:

"Barons, long time I've fed you at my hand.

Ye see my son, who goes on Carlun's track,

And with his arms so many lords attacks;

Better vassal than him I'll not demand.

Go, succour him, each with his trenchant lance!"

Upon that word the pagans all advance;

Grim blows they strike, the slaughter's very grand.

And marvellous and weighty the combat:

Before nor since was never such attack.



Great are the hosts; the companies in pride

Come touching, all the breadth of either side;

And the pagans do marvellously strike.

So many shafts, by God! in pieces lie

And crumpled shields, and sarks with mail untwined!

So spattered all the earth there would you find

That through the field the grass so green and fine

With men's life-blood is all vermilion dyed.

That admiral rallies once more his tribe:

"Barons, strike on, shatter the Christian line."

Now very keen and lasting is the fight,

As never was, before or since that time;

The finish none shall reach, unless he die.



That admiral to all his race appeals:

"Pagans, strike on; came you not therefore here?

I promise you noble women and dear,

I promise you honours and lands and fiefs."

Answer pagans: "We must do well indeed."

With mighty blows they shatter all their spears;

Five score thousand swords from their scabbards leap,

Slaughter then, grim and sorrowful, you'd seen.

Battle he saw, that stood those hosts between.



That Emperour calls on his Franks and speaks:

"I love you, lords, in whom I well believe;

So many great battles you've fought for me,

Kings overthrown, and kingdoms have redeemed!

Guerdon I owe, I know it well indeed;

My lands, my wealth, my body are yours to keep.

For sons, for heirs, for brothers wreak

Who in Rencesvals were slaughtered yester-eve!

Mine is the right, ye know, gainst pagan breeds."

Answer the Franks: "Sire, 'tis the truth you speak."

Twenty thousand beside him Charles leads,

Who with one voice have sworn him fealty;

In straits of death they never will him leave.

There is not one thenceforth employs his spear,

But with their swords they strike in company.

The battle is straitened marvellously.



Across that field the bold Malprimes canters;

Who of the Franks hath wrought there much great damage.

Naimes the Duke right haughtily regards him,

And goes to strike him, like a man of valour,

And of his shield breaks all the upper margin,

Tears both the sides of his embroidered ha'berk,

Through the carcass thrusts all his yellow banner;

So dead among sev'n hundred else he casts him.


King Canabeus, brother of the admiral,

Has pricked his horse with spurs in either flank;

He's drawn his sword, whose hilt is of crystal,

And strikes Naimun on's helmet principal;

Away from it he's broken off one half,

Five of the links his brand of steel hath knapped;

No pennyworth the hood is after that;

Right to the flesh he slices through the cap;

One piece of it he's flung upon the land.

Great was the blow; the Duke, amazed thereat,

Had fallen ev'n, but aid from God he had;

His charger's neck he clasped with both his hands.

Had the pagan but once renewed the attack,

Then was he slain, that noble old vassal.

Came there to him, with succour, Charles of France.



Keen anguish then he suffers, that Duke Naimes,

And the pagan, to strike him, hotly hastens.

"Culvert," says Charles, "You'll get now as you gave him!"

With vassalage he goes to strike that pagan,

Shatters his shield, against his heart he breaks it,

Tears the chin-guard above his hauberk mailed;

So flings him dead: his saddle shall be wasted.


Bitter great grief has Charlemagne the King,

Who Duke Naimun before him sees lying,

On the green grass all his clear blood shedding.

Then the Emperour to him this counsel gives:

"Fair master Naimes, canter with me to win!

The glutton's dead, that had you straitly pinned;

Through his carcass my spear I thrust once in."

Answers the Duke: "Sire, I believe it, this.

Great proof you'll have of valour, if I live."

They 'ngage them then, true love and faith swearing;

A thousand score of Franks surround them still.

Nor is there one, but slaughters, strikes and kills.



Then through the field cantered that admiral,

Going to strike the county Guineman;

Against his heart his argent shield he cracked,

The folds of his hauberk apart he slashed,

Two of his ribs out of his side he hacked,

So flung him dead, while still his charger ran.

After, he slew Gebuin and Lorain,

Richard the old, the lord of those Normans.

"Preciuse," cry pagans, "is valiant!

Baron, strike on; here have we our warrant!"



Who then had seen those Arrabit chevaliers,

From Occiant, from Argoille and from Bascle!

And well they strike and slaughter with their lances;

But Franks, to escape they think it no great matter;

On either side dead men to the earth fall crashing.

Till even-tide 'tis very strong, that battle;

Barons of France do suffer much great damage,

Grief shall be there ere the two hosts be scattered.



Right well they strike, both Franks and Arrabies,

Breaking the shafts of all their burnished spears.

Whoso had seen that shattering of shields,

Whoso had heard those shining hauberks creak,

And heard those shields on iron helmets beat,

Whoso had seen fall down those chevaliers,

And heard men groan, dying upon that field,

Some memory of bitter pains might keep.

That battle is most hard to endure, indeed.

And the admiral calls upon Apollin

And Tervagan and Mahum, prays and speaks:

"My lords and gods, I've done you much service;

Your images, in gold I'll fashion each;

Against Carlun give me your warranty!"

Comes before him his dear friend Gemalfin,

Evil the news he brings to him and speaks:

"Sir Baliganz, this day in shame you're steeped;

For you have lost your son, even Malprime;

And Canabeus, your brother, slain is he.

Fairly two Franks have got the victory;

That Emperour was one, as I have seen;

Great limbs he has, he's every way Marquis,

White is his beard as flowers in April."

That admiral has bent his head down deep,

And thereafter lowers his face and weeps,

Fain would he die at once, so great his grief;

He calls to him Jangleu from over sea.



Says the admiral, "Jangleu, beside me stand!

For you are proof, and greatly understand,

Counsel from you I've ever sought to have.

How seems it you, of Arrabits and Franks,

Shall we from hence victorious go back?"

He answers him: "Slain are you, Baligant!

For from your gods you'll never have warrant.

So proud is Charles, his men so valiant,

Never saw I a race so combatant.

But call upon barons of Occiant,

Turks and Enfruns, Arrabits and Giants.

No more delay: what must be, take in hand."


That admiral has shaken out his beard

That ev'n so white as thorn in blossom seems;

He'll no way hide, whateer his fate may be,

Then to his mouth he sets a trumpet clear,

And clearly sounds, so all the pagans hear.

Throughout the field rally his companies.

From Occiant, those men who bray and bleat,

And from Argoille, who, like dogs barking, speak;

Seek out the Franks with such a high folly,

Break through their line, the thickest press they meet

Dead from that shock they've seven thousand heaped.


The count Oger no cowardice e'er knew,

Better vassal hath not his sark indued.

He sees the Franks, their columns broken through,

So calls to him Duke Tierris, of Argune,

Count Jozeran, and Gefreid, of Anjou;

And to Carlun most proud his reason proves:

"Behold pagans, and how your men they slew!

Now from your head please God the crown remove

Unless you strike, and vengeance on them do!"

And not one word to answer him he knew;

They spurred in haste, their horses let run loose,

And, wheresoeer they met the pagans, strook.



Now very well strikes the King Charlemagne,

Naimes the Duke, also Oger the Dane,

Geifreid d'Anjou, who that ensign displays.

Exceeding proof is Don Oger, the Dane;

He spurs his horse, and lets him run in haste,

So strikes that man who the dragon displays.

Both in the field before his feet he breaks

That king's ensign and dragon, both abased.

Baligant sees his gonfalon disgraced,

And Mahumet's standard thrown from its place;

That admiral at once perceives it plain,

That he is wrong, and right is Charlemain.

Pagan Arabs coyly themselves contain;

That Emperour calls on his Franks again:

"Say, barons, come, support me, in God's Name!"

Answer the Franks, "Question you make in vain;

All felon he that dares not exploits brave!"



Passes that day, turns into vesper-tide.

Franks and pagans still with their swords do strike.

Brave vassals they, who brought those hosts to fight,

Never have they forgotten their ensigns;

That admiral still "Preciuse" doth cry,

Charles "Monjoie," renowned word of pride.

Each the other knows by his clear voice and high;

Amid the field they're both come into sight,

Then, as they go, great blows on either side

They with their spears on their round targes strike;

And shatter them, beneath their buckles wide;

And all the folds of their hauberks divide;

But bodies, no; wound them they never might.

Broken their girths, downwards their saddles slide;

Both those Kings fall, themselves aground do find;

Nimbly enough upon their feet they rise;

Most vassal-like they draw their swords outright.

From this battle they'll ne'er be turned aside

Nor make an end, without that one man die.



A great vassal was Charles, of France the Douce;

That admiral no fear nor caution knew.

Those swords they had, bare from their sheaths they drew;

Many great blows on 's shield each gave and took;

The leather pierced, and doubled core of wood;

Down fell the nails, the buckles brake in two;

Still they struck on, bare in their sarks they stood.

From their bright helms the light shone forth anew.

Finish nor fail that battle never could

But one of them must in the wrong be proved.



Says the admiral: "Nay, Charles, think, I beg,

And counsel take that t'wards me thou repent!

Thou'st slain my son, I know that very well;

Most wrongfully my land thou challengest;

Become my man, a fief from me thou'lt get;

Come, serving me, from here to the Orient!"

Charle answers him: "That were most vile offence;

No peace nor love may I to pagan lend.

Receive the Law that God to us presents,

Christianity, and then I'll love thee well;

Serve and believe the King Omnipotent!"

Says Baligant: "Evil sermon thou saist."

They go to strikewith th'swords, are on their belts.



In the admiral is much great virtue found;

He strikes Carlun on his steel helm so brown,

Has broken it and rent, above his brow,

Through his thick hair the sword goes glancing round,

A great palm's breadth and more of flesh cuts out,

So that all bare the bone is, in that wound.

Charles tottereth, falls nearly to the ground;

God wills not he be slain or overpow'red.

Saint Gabriel once more to him comes down,

And questions him "Great King, what doest thou?"


Charles, hearing how that holy Angel spake,

Had fear of death no longer, nor dismay;

Remembrance and a fresh vigour he's gained.

So the admiral he strikes with France's blade,

His helmet breaks, whereon the jewels blaze,

Slices his head, to scatter all his brains,

And, down unto the white beard, all his face;

So he falls dead, recovers not again.

"Monjoie," cries Charles, that all may know the tale.

Upon that word is come to him Duke Naimes,

Holds Tencendur, bids mount that King so Great.

Pagans turn back, God wills not they remain.

And Franks have all their wish, be that what may.


Pagans are fled, ev'n as the Lord God wills;

Chase them the Franks, and the Emperour therewith.

Says the King then: "My Lords, avenge your ills,

Unto your hearts' content, do what you will!.

For tears, this morn, I saw your eyes did spill."

Answer the Franks: "Sir, even so we will."

Then such great blows, as each may strike, he gives

That few escape, of those remain there still.


Great was the heat, the dust arose and blew;

Still pagans fled, and hotly Franks pursued.

The chase endured from there to Sarraguce.

On her tower, high up clomb Bramimunde,

Around her there the clerks and canons stood

Of the false law, whom God ne'er loved nor knew;

Orders they'd none, nor were their heads tonsured.

And when she saw those Arrabits confused

Aloud she cried: "Give us your aid, Mahume!

Ah! Noble king, conquered are all our troops,

And the admiral to shameful slaughter put!"

When Marsile heard, towards the wall he looked,

Wept from his eyes, and all his body stooped,

So died of grief. With sins he's so corrupt;

The soul of him to Hell live devils took.


Pagans are slain; the rest are put to rout

Whom Charles hath in battle overpowered.

Of Sarraguce the gates he's battered down,

For well he knows there's no defence there now;

In come his men, he occupies that town;

And all that night they lie there in their pow'r.

Fierce is that King, with 's hoary beard, and proud,

And Bramimunde hath yielded up her towers;

But ten ere great, and lesser fifty around.

Great exploits his whom the Lord God endows!


Passes the day, the darkness is grown deep,

But all the stars burn, and the moon shines clear.

And Sarraguce is in the Emperour's keep.

A thousand Franks he bids seek through the streets,

The synagogues and the mahumeries;

With iron malls and axes which they wield

They break the idols and all the imageries;

So there remain no fraud nor falsity.

That King fears God, and would do His service,

On water then Bishops their blessing speak,

And pagans bring into the baptistry.

If any Charles with contradiction meet

Then hanged or burned or slaughtered shall he be.

Five score thousand and more are thus redeemed,

Very Christians; save that alone the queen

To France the Douce goes in captivity;

By love the King will her conversion seek.


Passes the night, the clear day opens now.

Of Sarraguce Charles garrisons the tow'rs;

A thousand knights he's left there, fighters stout;

Who guard that town as bids their Emperour.

After, the King and all his army mount,

And Bramimunde a prisoner is bound,

No harm to her, but only good he's vowed.

So are they come, with joy and gladness out,

They pass Nerbone by force and by vigour,

Come to Burdele, that city of high valour.

Above the altar, to Saint Sevrin endowed,

Stands the olifant, with golden pieces bound;

All the pilgrims may see it, who thither crowd.

Passing Girunde in great ships, there abound,

Ev'n unto Blaive he's brought his nephew down

And Oliver, his noble companioun,

And the Archbishop, who was so wise and proud.

In white coffers he bids them lay those counts

At Saint Romain: So rest they in that ground.

Franks them to God and to His Angels vow.

Charles canters on, by valleys and by mounts,

Not before Aix will he not make sojourn;

Canters so far, on th'terrace he dismounts.

When he is come into his lofty house,

By messengers he seeks his judges out;

Saxons, Baivers, Lotherencs and Frisouns,

Germans he calls, and also calls Borgounds;

From Normandy, from Brittany and Poitou,

And those in France that are the sagest found.

Thereon begins the cause of Gueneloun.


That Emperour, returning out of Spain,

Arrived in France, in his chief seat, at Aix,

Clomb to th' Palace, into the hall he came.

Was come to him there Alde, that fair dame;

Said to the King: "Where's Rollanz the Captain,

Who sware to me, he'ld have me for his mate?"

Then upon Charles a heavy sorrow weighed,

And his eyes wept, he tore his beard again:

"Sister, dear friend, of a dead man you spake.

I'll give you one far better in exchange,

That is Loewis, what further can I say;

He is my son, and shall my marches take."

Alde answered him: "That word to me is strange.

Never, please God, His Angels and His Saints,

When Rollant's dead shall I alive remain!"

Her colour fails, at th' feet of Charlemain,

She falls; she's dead. Her soul God's Mercy awaits!

Barons of France weep therefore and complain.


Alde the fair is gone now to her rest.

Yet the King thought she was but swooning then,

Pity he had, our Emperour, and wept,

Took her in's hands, raised her from th'earth again;

On her shoulders her head still drooped and leant.

When Charles saw that she was truly dead

Four countesses at once he summoned;

To a monast'ry of nuns they bare her thence,

All night their watch until the dawn they held;

Before the altar her tomb was fashioned well;

Her memory the King with honour kept.



That Emperour is now returned to Aix.

The felon Guene, all in his iron chains

Is in that town, before the King's Palace;

Those serfs have bound him, fast upon his stake,

In deer-hide thongs his hands they've helpless made,

With clubs and whips they trounce him well and baste:

He has deserved not any better fate;

In bitter grief his trial there he awaits.


Written it is, and in an ancient geste

How Charles called from many lands his men,

Assembled them at Aix, in his Chapelle.

Holy that day, for some chief feast was held,

Saint Silvester's that baron's, many tell.

Thereon began the trial and defence

Of Guenelun, who had the treason spelt.

Before himself the Emperour has him led.



"Lords and barons," Charles the King doth speak,

"Of Guenelun judge what the right may be!

He was in th'host, even in Spain with me;

There of my Franks a thousand score did steal,

And my nephew, whom never more you'll see,

And Oliver, in 's pride and courtesy,

And, wealth to gain, betrayed the dozen peers."

"Felon be I," said Guenes, "aught to conceal!

He did from me much gold and wealth forfeit,

Whence to destroy and slay him did I seek;

But treason, no; I vow there's not the least."

Answer the Franks: "Take counsel now must we."