Through French mediation the Carlovingian romances came to other nations. Lord Berners translated "Huon of Bordeaux" in In Italy it was especially favoured. There it inspired the Franco-Italian epics and the bulky romance of Magnabotti, and culminated in the famous chivalric epics of Boiardo and Ariosto. Roland Of the paladins, usually twelve in number, with whom legend surrounds Charlemagne , the most famous is Roland, whose heroic death forms the theme of the "Chanson de Roland" c.
This poem relates how the rear-guard of the Frankish army, returning from a victorious campaign against the Saracens in Spain , is treacherously surprised by the enemy at Roncevaux, and how Roland, Olivier, and Turpin , after incredible deeds of valour, are slain before the emperor arrives to bring help.
The events narrated here have a historical basis; the battle of Roncevaux Roncesvalles actually took place on 15 August, In the poem the defeat is laid to the treason of Ganelon; the vengeance which the emperor exacts from the enemy and the punishment of the traitor are vividly narrated. The legend represents Roland as Charlemagne's nephew, the son of the emperor's sister Bertha and of Duke Milo; of Aglant.
The story of their romantic love , their quarrel with the emperor, and their ultimate reconciliation to him figures prominently in Italian versions "Reali di Francia". Roland is a paragon of knightly virtue. Quite young he distinguishes himself in wars against the Saracens in Italy "Aspremont" and the Saxons, in both campaigns saving his uncle from threatened disaster. In Spain the tradition underwent a complete change; the defeat of the Franks was regarded as a Spanish victory, and the real hero of Roncevaux is the national champion, Bernalde del Carprio, Roland's opponent.
The German poem of Konrad der Pfaffe has been mentioned above.
It has for its theme the familiar story of persecuted innocence, and is therefore closely akin to the legends of Griseldis, Hildegard, Hirlanda of Brittany, and other heroines of suffering. When he is called away on an expedition against the infidels, he entrusts his wife and castle to the care of his major-domo Golo. Inflamed with sinful passion, Golo makes advances to the countess, and on being repulsed, falsely accuses her to her absent lord of adultery. The count sends word to put his wife and her new-born son to death, and Golo bids two servants execute this command.
But moved by pity they let her go, and she takes refuge in a cave in the Ardennes together with her child, who is miraculously suckled by a roe. At the end of six years Count Siegfried, who has in the meantime repented of his rash deed, is led to this cave while pursuing the roe, and a happy reunion is the result. Golo dies a traitor's death, his limbs being torn asunder by four oxen. The legend adds that a chapel was built and dedicated to Our Lady at the very spot where the cave was.
The origin of the legend is wholly unknown. The oldest versions are found in manuscript dating from the fifteenth century, most of them hailing from Laach. The legend is told in connexion with the foundation of the chapel of Frauenkirchen. In all these versions the time of action is that of a Bishop Hildulf of Trier. But no such bishop is known. As for Siegfried, there were several counts of that name, but nothing is known of them to permit of an identification. An historical basis for the legend has not been found. The arguments for a mythical origin are futile.
So the opinion has been advanced by Seuffert that the legend is the fabrication of a monk from the monastery of Laach, and dates from the fourteenth century. The oldest datable edition is from In Cerisiers' version the legend has been considerably amplified; its pious character is emphasized, especially through the copious introduction of miracles. Here also the child receives the Biblical name Benoni i. Reference to Charles Martel fixed the eighth century as the time of action. Cerisiers' work inspired a number of Dutch and German books on the legend, in all of which the material is treated with more or less freedom.
The authors of the first two German versions are Jesuits ; these versions were followed by the "Auserlesenes History-Buch" Dillingen, of Father Martin of Cochem d. Here the story of St. Some of these books base their account on Dutch versions, the first of which had appeared in In these Protestant influence is unmistakable; the miracles , already curtailed in the German version, are here completely expunged.
Arthur Artus A famous legendary King of the Britons, and the central figure of a great medieval cycle of romance. His court is represented as a model court for the cultivation of every knightly virtue. He himself presides over the famous Round Table, about which is assembled a band of chosen knights. The adventures of these knights form the subject-matter of the numerous romances of the Arthurian cycle.
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The history of the origin and development of the Arthurian legend is not clear. The very existence of Arthur has been doubted , and attempts have been made to reduce him to a myth. But it is now well known that he was an historic figure, a British chieftain of the end of the fifth and the beginning of the sixth century A.
The first record of him is found in the "Historia Brittonum" written , ascribed to Nennius. There he appears already as a legendary figure, the champion of an oppressed people against the cruel invaders, whom he defeats in twelve great battles, the last being fought at Mons Badonis. So by the end of the eighth century the legend of a great champion was already current among the Celtic population of the British Isles and Brittany and this legend was further developed and amplified by the addition of new legendary traits.
This work, purporting to give a history of the British kings from the mythical Brutus to Cadwallo , is a curious medley of fact and fable. The exploits related of Arthur are wholly fabulous. Merlin the Wizard by a trick has effected their union. Arthur becomes ruler at the age of fifteen and at once enters upon his career of victory by defeating the Saxons. He marries Guanhumara Gwenhwyvar Ginevra, Guinevere and establishes a court the fame of which spreads far and wide.
In a series of wars he conquers Scotland , Ireland , Norway , and Gaul. Finally he makes war against Rome , but, though victorious, is compelled to turn back to protect his wife and kingdom from the treacherous designs of his nephew Mordred. In the battle of Camlan Cambula the latter is killed, but Arthur, too, is mortally wounded and mysteriously removed to the Isle of Avalon, whence he will reappear so other chronicles relate , some day to restore his people to power.
It is not known with certainty what sources Godfrey used. Probably he drew his information from Welsh chronicles, as well as from oral tradition preserved by Breton story-tellers. Much, also, is his own invention. The work won immediate favour, and became the basis of several other rhymed chronicles, such as the "Brut" of Wace or Gace written about , and that of Layamon c. In Godfrey's history mention is made of Arthur's court as far-famed, but the first explicit reference to the Round Table is found in Wace's "Brut".
From this reference it is perfectly clear that this legendary institution was already well known in Brittany when Wace wrote. At a later period, when the Grail legend was fused with that of Arthur, the Round Table was identified with the Grail table instituted by Joseph of Arimathea , and was then said to have been founded by Uther Pendragon at the suggestion of Merlin so in the Grail romance of Robert de Boron. Towards the end of the twelfth century the Arthurian legend makes its appearance in French literature in the epics of Chrestien de Troyes.
It is admitted that Godfrey and the chroniclers cannot have been the only sources; the subject matter of the romances is too varied for that, and points to the influence of popular tradition. Moreover, the material has been entirely transformed under the influence of the ideals of knight-errantry and courtly love. These deeds dominated all the Arthurian romances, and gave them their immense vogue with the polite society of the Middle Ages. Of these Gawain Gwalchmai, Gauvain already figured prominently in the history of Godfrey, where he is called Walgannus.
Perceval, the Peredur of Welsh folk-tales and of Godfrey, has become especially famous as the hero of the quest of the Holy Grail.
Originally his legend, like that of the Grail , was wholly independent of that of Arthur. Other famous legendary heroes like Lancelot and Tristram were also joined to the company of the Table Round, and their legends likewise incorporated into that of Arthur. So the great cycle of Arthurian romances gradually came into existence. Though French mediation these romances spread through Europe.
They also came to Italy , Spain , and Norway. In England Sir Thomas Malory gathered them and used them for his famous prose romance "Morte Arthure" finished , printed by Caxton, To Malory the legend of Arthur owes its popularity in England. Its influence is felt in Spenser's "Faerie Queene", and Milton, as is well known, thought of writing an English Arthuriad.
In modern times Tennyson has revived the legend in his "Idylls of the King". Tristan and Isolde Among the knights of Arthur appears also Tristan Tristram , whose love for Isolde and its tragic end are the subject of some of the most famous romances in literature. Here, too, we have an originally independent legend of Celtic origin, but elaborated by French poets into a love romance. The name of Morholt is probably Germanic; so is Isold i. Iswalda or Iselt i. These Germanic elements date from the period of Viking rule in Dublin during the ninth and tenth centuries.
The legend, no doubt, took shape in Britain and then wandered to Brittany, experiencing in the course of its development various modifications. New motifs , like that of the love potion, the story of the vicarious wooing, the trick whereby Isolde successfully undergoes the ordeal, were added.
They are familiar from story-literature. Other motifs , such as the ship with black sails, are clearly traceable to antique romance, in this case to the Theseus legend. By the middle of the twelfth century a full-fledged Tristan romance existed, but the literary versions that we possess are of a later date. It is known that Chrestien de Troyes wrote a poem about Mark and Isolde, but it is lost. Both versions agree for the main traits of the legend, however much they differ in detail. Lohengrin, the Knight of the Swan In Wolfram's "Parzival", where a brief outline of the story of Lohengrin is given at the close, the legend appears as a part of the Grail cycle, and therefore also of the Arthurian cycle.
But originally it was wholly independent of both. In the oldest literary versions, the French poems of the "Chevalier au cygne" the earliest dates from the beginning of the thirteenth century , the tale of the Knight of the Swan is connected with Godfrey of Bouillon , and the French poems themselves are part of an epic cycle dealing with the Crusades. How this connexion came about is not known.
But it was certainly well known by the end of the twelfth century, as is proved by an allusion to it in the history of the Crusades written by Bishop William of Tyre d. The purpose was evidently to glorify the House of Bouillon by ascribing to it a supernatural origin. The story as given in the French poems is as follows: before Emperor Otto holding court at Nymwegen the Duchess of Bouillon pleads for justice against the Saxon Duke Renier, who has made grave charges against her.
She cannot find a champion to prove her innocence in single combat, when suddenly an unknown knight appears in a skiff drawn by a swan. He defeats her opponent and marries her daughter Beatris. But he imposes the condition that his wife must never ask his name or lineage. When, after seven years of wedded life, she breaks this command, the unknown knight leaves her. A daughter named Ida has resulted from this union. The kernel of this legend seems to be an old genealogical myth, such as that told of Scyld in "Beowulf".
Translation of «nibeln» into 25 languages
A mysterious stranger arrives in a rudderless ship among a people becomes their ruler and the ancestor of the reigning house. When his time is fulfilled, he departs as mysteriously as he has come. Such a myth was current among Germanic tribes inhabiting the sea-coast. Possibly the mysterious stranger originally was a solar deity and the swan a symbol of the cloud.
The story was designed to show the divine descent of the ruling house. Its origin, whether Celtic or Germanic, is in dispute. The theme of the Lohengrin legend, the union between a supernatural being and a mortal, is of frequent recurrence in mythology and folk-lore. With the tale of the swan-knight was combined an old Germanic fairy tale of some children changed into swans by the evil arts of a wicked stepmother.
Only the little girl escapes and becomes the means of rescuing her brothers. In the French poems on this subject, the children are the offspring of a union between a king and a fairy, and the king's mother plays the villain's part. Their transformation into swans is the result of their being deprived of the necklaces which they had when they were born. When these are restored they regain their human form, all but one, who has lost his necklace.
He remains a swan and henceforth draws the skiff of his brother, who is therefore called the knight of the swan. It is clear that this story was added to account for the mysterious origin of the hero. Its earliest literary record occurs in the Latin romance "Dolopathos", a collection of stories, mostly of Oriental origin written by Jean de Hauteseille Johannes de Alta Silva at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Here the characters are as yet unnamed. In the French poem known as "Elioxe" end of twelfth century the hero is a king named Lothair, the fairy is called Elioxe Eliouse.
In the versions of the "Chevalier au cygne" the king's name is Oriant, his wife is called Beatris, his mother Matabrune. Through French mediation the legend passed into other lands. In Spain the legend was incorporated in the "Gran Conquista de Ultramar" xlvii sq. There are also versions in Italy and Iceland. Of special interest is the development of the legend in Germany. In the French versions the swan-knight is called Helias Elie. The lady in distress is the Duchess of Brabant, the emperor is Charlemagne. The swan-knight is not the ancestor of Godfrey of Bouillon , but of the dukes of Cleves.
Konrad's version is based on an unknown French source. So is the brief outline given by Wolfram at the close of his "Parzival". There the legend is connected with that of the Grail in that the hero is the son of Parzival, the Grail-king. Here also he is called Loherangrin i.
Meaning of "nibeln" in the German dictionary
Loherenc Garin, Garin the Lotharingian. The duchess is Elsa of Brabant. Whether these changes in names are Wolfram's own, or whether they were in his French source cannot be decided. On the basis of Wolfram's outline, but amplified and expanded by the introduction of wholly extraneous matter, arose between 12S3 and the bulky German epic "Lohengrin", the work, it seems, of two different authors, but unknown. The Lohengrin story is here a mere episode of the legendary minstrel contest held at the Wartburg castle and is put into the mouth of Wolfram himself.
We see that in German versions Cleves figures in the legend; in fact, in some chronicles the scene of action is laid there see Grimm, "Deutsche Sagen", 4th ed. Steig, Berlin , , no. According to the account there given, Lohengrin sallies forth a second time, and comes to Lyzabori Luxemburg where he marries the Princess Belaye. An attempt is made on his life by her jealous relatives, and, though it is repulsed, Lohengrin succumbs to a wound received in the struggle.
His wife dies of grief. Tannhauser This legend, as related in German folk-songs of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and their variants in Low German, Dutch , and Danish , is as follows: Tannhauser, a minstrel knight , enters the mountain of Venus, a sort of subterranean paradise where the heathen goddess holds her voluptuous court, and for a year he revels in its unholy pleasures. Then a longing seizes upon him to return to earth, and when, through the aid of Mary, whom he invokes, his wish is realized, he hastens to Rome to implore pardon for his sin from Pope Urban IV.
In despair the knight returns to the mountain of Venus and is not seen again. Soon after, the staff bursts into blossom and now messengers are sent to seek the knight , but too late. No doubt we have here a tale of originally heathen character, subsequently Christianized.
Its theme is the familiar story of the seduction of a human being by an elf or fairy. But all the delights of the fairy-realm cannot make him forget his earthly home, for which he longs. His desire is granted, but he is not happy , and in the end returns to the fairy-land. This motif is a commonplace in folk-lore literature. In the German legend the seductive fairy is identified with the ancient goddess of love , and the story is given a distinctly religious colour through the introduction of the pilgrimage of the repentant sinner to Rome. The motif of the withered staff bursting into blossom has also many parallels in sacred legend, and is evidently a later addition.
How the legend came to assume the form outlined above can only be surmised. Of the poems that we possess on the subject none dates further back than the middle of the fifteenth century. The famous Volkslied that gives the above version is from the sixteenth century. His checquered career is reflected in his poems, which exhibit a strange mingling of dissolute boasting and pious sentiment. But this is purely conjectural.
He visited the sibyl's cave in , and heard the story from the people of the neighbouring region. A still earlier reference to the legend is found in the famous romance "Guerino il meschino" of Andrea dei Magnabotti The Italian version knows that the cavalier entering the cave is a German, but does not mention his name; the queen of the subterranean paradise is the Sibyl of ancient prophetic fame, transformed into the goddess of pleasure. Its ultimate source he finds in Celtic folk-lore.
But this cannot be proved , since the earlier history of the legend is not attested by any extant literary monuments either in Italy or in Germany. It is to be noted that in the German version there is a distinct tone of hostility to the papacy , wholly lacking in the Italian variants.
In fact the miracle of the blossoming staff is a pointed reproof of the pope's harshness. This can readily be explained if the legend developed in Germany , where antipapal feeling was strong after the days of the Hohenstaufens. The dominant idea of the legend is the glorification of God's infinite mercy to sinners. But this ideal is set forth in a spirit most unfriendly to the Church.
The attitude ascribed to the pope by the Volkslied is wholly contrary to Catholic doctrine. Robert the Devil God's boundless grace to sinners is also the theme of this legend as presented in French romances. Robert is the devil's own child, for his mother, despairing of heaven's aid in order to obtain a son, has addressed herself to the devil. From the moment of his birth the boy shows his vicious instincts , which urge him, when grown to manhood, to a career of monstrous crime. At last the horror which he inspires everywhere causes him to reflect, and, having found out the awful secret of his birth, he hastens to Rome to confess to the pope.
He undergoes the most rigorous penance, living in the disguise of a fool at the emperor's court in Rome. Three times he delivers the city from the assault of the Saracens , but, refusing all reward, he ends his life as a pious hermit. According to another version he marries the emperor's daughter, whose love he has won in his humble disguise, and succeeds to the throne.
The oldest known account of this legend is a Latin prose narrative by a Dominican friar , Etienne de Bourbon c. Then it appears in a French metrical romance of the thirteenth century, also in a dit of somewhat later date, and in a miracgplay of the fourteenth century. A French prose version was also prefixed to the old "Croniquesde Normandie" probably of the thirteenth century.
But the legend owes its popularity to the story-books, of which the earliest known appeared at Lyons in , and again at Paris in , under the title "La vie du terrible Robert le dyable". Since the sixteenth century the legend was often printed together with that of Richard sans Peur; it was published in completely recast form in under the title "Histoire de Robert le Diable, duc de Normandie, et de Richard Sans Peur, son fils.
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In England the subject was treated in the metrical romance, "Sir Gowther", the work of an unknown minstrel of the fifteenth century. Another version, not based on the preceding, was given by Thomas Lodge in his book on "Robin the Divell" London, In the Netherlands the romance of Robrecht den Duyvel was put on the index of forbidden books by the Bishop of Antwerp It was treated in epic form by Victor von Strauss , in dramatic form by Raupach Meyerbeer's opera "Robert le Diable" enjoyed great favour for a time.
The libretto, written by Scribe and Delavigne, has little in common with the legend except the name of the hero. The Wandering Jew This legend has been widely popular ever since its first appearance in a German chap-book of There it is told as follows: When Jesus bore his Cross to Calvary, he passed the house of a cobbler, Ahasuerus by name, who had been one of the rabble to shout, "Crucify him. The first literary record of such a doomed wanderer is found in the "Flores Historiarum", a chronicle of Roger of Wendover , a monk of St. Albans d. The account there given was incorporated with some slight amplifications into the "Historia Major" of Matthew Paris d.
The book is a vital document for the study of one of the major texts of 'the Northern renaissance', in which completely unknown poems and even languages were brought to the attention first of the learned world and then of popular culture. It also acts as a valuable guide to the development of nationalist and racist sentiment, beginning romantically and ending with World War and attempted genocide.
Key to references to Thorkelins edition. A note on line numbers. Ong S. Chair of Humanities at Saint Louis University. He has published repeatedly on Beowulf and Old English peotry generally.