Taillefer - Encyclopedia




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TAILLEFER, the surname of a bard and warrior of the 1 i th century, whose exact name and place of birth are unknown. He accompanied the Norman army to England in 1066, and obtained permission from William to strike the first blow at the battle of Hastings. He fought with spirit and determination, and was killed in the battle. Mention of Taillefer is made by Guido, bishop of Amiens, in his Carmen de bello Hastingensi, v. 931-44 (in Mon. Hist. Brit., 1848) and by Henry of Huntingdon in his Historia Anglorum (in Rer. Brit. med. nevi script., p. 763, ed. Arnold, London, 1879); and his prowess is depicted on the Bayeux tapestry. The statement of Wace in the Roman de Rou, 3rd part, v. 8035-62, ed. Andresen (Heilbronn, 1879), that Taillefer went before the Norman army singing of Charlemagne and of Roland and the vassals who died at Roncevaux, has been considered important in demonstrating the existence of a comparatively early tradition and song of Roland.

See W. Spatz, Die Schlacht von Hastings (Berlin, 1896); Freeman, History of the Norman Conquest.

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