Renaud De Montauban - Encyclopedia

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RENAUD DE MONTAUBAN (Rinaldo di Montalbano), one of the most famous figures of French and Italian romance. His story was attached to the geste of Doon of Mayence by the 13thcentury trouvere who wrote the chanson de geste of Renaus de Montauban, better known perhaps as Les quatre fils Aymon. The four sons of Aymon give their name to inns and streets in nearly every town of France, and the numerous prose versions show what a hold the story gained on the popular imagination. Renaud's sword Floberge, and his horse Bayard passed with him into popular legend. The poem of Renaus de Montauban -opens with the story of the dissensions between Charlemagne and the sons of Doon of Mayence, Beuves d'Aigremont, Doon de Nanteuil and Aymon de Dordone. The rebellious vassals are defeated by the imperial army near Troyes, and, peace established, Aymon rises in favour at court, and supports the, emperor, even in his persecution of his four sons, Renaud, Alard, Guichard and Richard. A second feud arises from a quarrel between Renaud and Bertolai, Charlemagne's nephew, over a game of chess, in the course of which Renaud kills Bertolai with the chess-board. The hero then mounts his steed Bayard, and escapes with his brothers to the Ardennes, where they build the castle of Montessor overlooking the Meuse. At Château Renaud, near Sedan, there existed in the 18th century a ruined castle with a tower called the "tour Maugis" and the reputed stable of Bayard. The outlaws are eventually persuaded to seek their fortune outside Charlemagne's kingdom, and cross the Loire to take service with King Yon of Gascony against the Saracens, accompanied by their cousin, the enchanter Maugis. Yon, however, is compelled by Charlemagne to withdraw his protection, and the castle of Montauban, which the brothers have built on the Dordogne, is besieged by the emperor. They next seek refuge beyond the Rhine, and sustain a third siege at Tremoigne (Dortmund), after which the emperor is persuaded by the barons to make peace. Bayard is abandoned to Charlemagne, and thrown into the Meuse, only to rise again. He still gallops over the hills of the Ardennes on St John's Eve. Renaud, who throughout the story is a type of the Christian and chivalric virtues, makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and is invested with some of the exploits of Godfrey de Bouillon. On his return he gives himself up to religion, working as a mason on the church of St Peter at Cologne, where he receives martyrdom at the hands of his jealous fellow-labourers.

The story is closely connected with the legend of Girard de Roussillon. The chanson de geste of Renaus de Montauban falls into sections which had probably been originally the subject of separate recitals. These may have arisen at different dates, and were not necessarily told in the first instance of the same person, the account of Renaud on the crusade being obviously a late interpolation. The outlaw life of the brothers in the Ardennes bears the marks of trustworthy popular tradition, and it was even at one time suggested that the Gascon and Rhenish episodes were reduplications of the story of Montessor. The connexion of the four brothers with Montessor, Dortmund, Mayence and Cologne, and the abundant local tradition, mark the heroes as originating from the region between the Rhine and the Meuse. Nevertheless, their adventures in Gascony are corroborated by historical evidence, and this section of the poem is the oldest. The enemy of Renaud was Charles Martel, not Charlemagne; Yon was Odo of Gascony, known indifferently as duke, prince, or king; the victory over the Saracens at Toulouse, in which the brothers are alleged to have taken part, was won by him in 721, and in 719 he sheltered refugees from the dominions of Charles Martel, Chilperic II., king of Neustria, and his mayor of the palace, Raginfred, whom he was compelled to abandon. In a local chronicle of Cologne it is stated that Saint Reinoldus died in 697, and in the Latin rhythmical Vita his martyrdom is said to have taken place under Bishop Agilolf (d. 717). Thus the romance was evidently composite before it took its place in the Carolingian cycle.

In Italy Renaud had his greatest vogue. His connexion with the treacherous family of Mayence was thrust into the background, and many episodes were added, as well as the personage of the hero's sister, Bradamante. Rinaldo di Montalbano had been the subject of many Italian poems before Il Rinaldo of Tasso.

Bibliography. - The chanson of Maugis d'Aigremont and the prose romance of the Conqueste de Trebizonde belong to the same cycle. The prose Ystoire de Regnault de Montauban (Lyons, c. 1480) had a great vogue. It was generally printed as Les quatre fits Aymon, and was published in English, The Foure Sonnes of Aymon, by William Caxton, and subsequently by Wynkyn de Worde and William Copland. See Hist. litt. de la France, xxii., analysis by Paulin Paris; Renaus de Montauban (Stuttgart, 1862), edited by H. Michelant; F. Wulff, Recherches sur les sagas de Magus et de Geirard (Lund, 1873); Magus saga, 'ed.' G. Cederschiold (Lund, 1876); Renout von Montalbaen, ed. J. C. Matthis (Groningen, 1873); A. ,. Longnon, in Revue des questions historiques (1879); R. Zwick, Uber die Sprache des Renaut von Montauban (Halle, 1884); F. Pfaff, Das deutsche Volksbuch von den Heymonskindern (Freiburg in Breisgau, 1887), with a general introduction to the study of the saga; The Four Sonnes of Aimon (E. E. Text. Soc., ed. Octavia Richardson, 1884); a special bibliography of the printed editions of the prose romance in L. Gautier's Bibl. des chansons de geste (1897); rejuvenations of the story by Karl Simrock (Frankfort, 1845), and by Richard Steel (London, 1897); Storia di Rinaldino, ed. C. Minutoli (Bologna, 1865). Stage versions are: Renaud de Montauban, a play translated from Lope de Vega was played at the Theatre italien, Paris, in 1717; Les quatre fils Aymon, opera comique by MM. de Leuven and Brunswick, music by Balfe, in 1884.

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