Turpin - Encyclopedia

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TURPIN (d. c. 800), archbishop of Reims, was for many years regarded as the author of the legendary Historia de vita Caroli Magni et Rolandi, and appears as one of the twelve peers in a number of the chansons de geste. He is probably identical with Tilpin, archbishop of Reims in the 8th century, who is alluded to by Hincmar, his third successor in the see. According to Flodoard, Charles Martel drove Rigobert, archbishop of Reims, from his office and replaced him by a warrior clerk named Milo, afterwards bishop of Trier. The same writer represents Milo as discharging a mission among the Vascones, or Basques, the very people to whom authentic history has ascribed the great disaster which befell the army of Charlemagne at Roncesvalles. It is thus possible that the warlike legends which have gathered around the name of Turpin are due to some confusion of his identity with that of his martial predecessor. Flodoard says that Tilpin was originally a monk at St Denis, and Hincmar tells how after his appointment to Reims he occupied himself in securing the restoration of the rights and properties of his church, the revenues and prestige of which had been impaired under Milo's rule. Tilpin was elected archbishop between 752 and 768, probably in 753; he died, if the evidence of a diploma alluded to by Mabillon may be trusted, in 794, although it has been stated that this event took place on the 2nd of September 800. Hincmar, who composed his epitaph, makes him bishop for over forty years, and from this it is evident that he was elected about 753, and Flodoard says that he died in the forty-seventh year of his archbishopric. Tilpin was present at the Council of Rome in 769, and at the request of Charlemagne Pope Adrian I. sent him the pallium and confirmed the rights of his church.

The Historia Caroli Magni was declared authentic in 1122 by Pope Calixtus II. It is, however, entirely legendary, being rather the crystallization of earlier Roland legends than the source of later ones, and its popularity seems to date from the latter part of the 12th century. Gaston Paris, who made a special study of the Historia, considers that the first five chapters were written by a monk of Compostella in the 11th century and the remainder by a monk of Vienne between 1109 and 1119. The popularity of the work is attested by the fact that there are at least five French translations of the Historia dating from the 13th century and one into Latin verse of about the same time. According to August Potthast there are about fifty manuscripts of the story in existence. The Historia was first printed in 1566 at Frankfort; perhaps the best edition is the one edited by F. Castets as Turpini historia Karoli magni et Rotholandi (Paris, 1880). It has been translated many times into French and also into German, Danish and English. The English translation is by T. Rodd and is in the History of Charles the Great and Orlando, ascribed to Turpin (London, 1812). See G. Paris, De pseudo-Turpino (Paris, 1865), and Histoire poetique de Charlemagne, new ed. by P. Meyer (1905); and V. Friedel, "Etudes compostellanes" in Otia Merceiana (Liverpool, 1899).

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