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The Compositional Making and Geographic Itinerancies of the Chansons de Roland During the Early and Late Middle Ages
International Journal of European Studies
Volume 3, Issue 1, June 2019, Pages: 52-66
Received: Mar. 7, 2019; Accepted: Apr. 12, 2019; Published: Jun. 26, 2019
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Mirabile Paul, Department of Western Languages, Heilongjiang International University, Haerbin, China
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The author examines the centripetal compositional forces and the itinerant centrifugal forces that produced the Chanson de Roland and diffused the Chansons de Roland since its remote Nordico-Germanic and Gallo-Roman origins to their wide-scale geographic settlings in western mediaeval Europe. To demonstrate this dual force, the author traces the Figure of a sand-glass which visualizes the first migrating compositional flow from the wide plains of Scandinavia, through sedentarized Gaul and on to the battlefield of Roncevaux Pass, and the second propagating flow from the oldest extant Oxford version to the eight variants which, although scattered over different countries, are very much inter-related since they all drew inspiration from Roland's heroic death at the eventful battle of Roncevaux. The nine versions of the Chanson de Roland founded the mediaeval western European poetic koinê.
Sand-glass, Centripetal Compositional Forces, Centrifugal Itinerant Forces, Poetic Koinê, Orature
To cite this article
Mirabile Paul, The Compositional Making and Geographic Itinerancies of the Chansons de Roland During the Early and Late Middle Ages, International Journal of European Studies. Vol. 3, No. 1, 2019, pp. 52-66. doi: 10.11648/j.ijes.20190301.19
Copyright © 2019 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Saint Thomas of Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Benziger Bros. Edition, 1947. Saint Thomas of Aquinas believed that the elements of the 'mixture' needed to be emptied of their properties before being integrated into a whole (unio), whereas, Duns Scotus refuted this belief and postulated that however assimilated, the elements in question had to retain their original properties in order for the demonstration to be analysed and repeated. I am in full agreement with Duns Scotus.
Or, 3,997 according to other versions. See J. J. Duggan, La Chanson de Roland/The Song of Roland: The French Corpus, Brepols, 2005. Joseph Duggan, Formulaic Style and Poetic Craft, California, University Press, 1973. See also, Jean Rychner, La Chanson de Roland, Genève, Droz, 1955.
Gérard Moignet, La Chanson de Roland, Paris, Bordas, 1969. For this text, and for my article in general, I refer to Gérard Moignet's excellent translation and study on La Chanson de Roland.
Andrew Taylor, Textual Situations, U. S. A., University of Penn State, 2001, and Ian Short, Manual of Anglo-Normand, Oxford, Anglo-Normand Text Society, 2013.
M. K. Pope, From Latin to Modern French, Manchester, Manchester Press, 1952 pp. 120-135.
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José Maria de Miguel Lacarra, 'A propos de la route de Roncevaux et du Lieu de la bataille in Annales de Midi: Revue de la France Méridionale, Vol. 78, N° 77-78, 1966. Translation Pierre Bonnassie.
R. Abdal, R. M. Pidal, J. Favier, A. de Riquer, 'Carolmago en Roncevalles: un error militar viario', El Miliario, N°1, 2005. They believe that: “Hoy se admite generalmente que en Roncevalles, los atacantes fueron gentes vasco-navarras, ayudadas seguramente por musulmanes zaragonzanos y pamploneses.” “Today it is generally acknowledged that the ambushers at Roncevaux were Basques from Navarra, surely helped by Muslims from Aragon and Pamplona.” (My translation).
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Cantar de Mio Cid, verse 2307. Modern Version.
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Ramon Menéndez Pidal, 'Roncevalles, un nuevo cantar de gesta española del siglo XIII in Revista de Filología Española, IV, 1917, pp. 105-204.
Jordanas, De Origine Actibusque Getarum (The Origins and Deed of the Goths), 551-552. Jordanas was an Ostrogoth chronicler of the sixth century.
Rosamond Mekitterick, Charlemagne, The Formation of a European Unity, Cambridge, 2008. She states that no palace, summer or winter, was more important than another.
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George Fenwick Jones, The Ethos of the Song of Roland, Baltimore, John Hopkins Press, 1963 for the juridical elements read in the Chanson de Roland.
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Margaret Jewette Burland, Strange Words: Retelling and Reception in the Medieval Roland Textual Tradition, ibid. She discusses the Occitan version of Roncevals as well as Châteauroux and the fifteenth century 'Galien restore' versions. I have studied neither the Occitan nor the 'Galien restore' versions.
Danielle Buschinger, Le Curé Konrad, adapteur de la 'Chanson de Roland', Cahiers de Civilisation médiévale, Paris, 1983, pp. 95-115. The formula is: '… ir vil leihten ougen vor liede weingten bluot.' 'From her eyes so clear she cried grief-filled bloody tears' (my translation). This mediaeval epic formula is also read in the Turkic epic tale Dede Korkut Kitabı: '… kara suzme gozlerin kas yas dolu.' '… her black,slit eyes filled with bloody tears' (my translation), and in the Chinese epic narrative Ji Bu Ma Zhen, Ji Bu Insulting the Enemy (Camp): (xuè lèi) 'bloody tears'. Iris Murdoch rehabilitated the mediaeval epic formula in her novel The Sandcastle: 'They sat looking down into the stubble. “Tears of Blood,” said Felicity. This was an ancient ritual.' London, Penguin, 1957, page 143.
Ferdinand Brunetière, Revue des Deux Mondes, Paris 1879, page 143.
Bernard Cerquiglini, La Naissance du Français, Paris, P. U. F., 2013.
Gerard J. Brault, Song of Roland: An Analytical Edition: Introduction and Commentary, U. S. A., Penn State Press, 2010.
Claude Gauvard, Alain de Libera, Michel Zinc, Dictionnaire du Moyen Age, Paris, P.U.F., 2004. This dictionary is an extraordinary work for both general and detailed information concerning mediaeval life.
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