The Seven Sages Stories

too literally translated by Hans R. Runte

from French Version C


(MS. Chartres, Bibliothèque municipale 620,


as edited by Mary B. Speer (AB 495-1988)



Tentamina by Gentullus [?]

Roma by the queen

Avis by Chaton

Sapientes by the queen

Vidua by Jessé

Virgilius by the queen

Inclusa by Meros

Vaticinium by the prince





by [Gentullus?]

[prose and verse]

(fol. 26b-28b)


[The first test]


[Fol. 26b] “[…] [The lord] had [fol. 26c] gone to enjoy himself on his horse, behind a huntsman with dogs. She called one of her sergeants and said to him: ‘Take an ax and come behind me.’ ‘[My] lady, willingly.’ They entered the garden. Then she said to him: ‘Cut down this elm.’ ‘Ha! [my] lady,’ he said, ‘I would not dare. It is the good elm of my lord.’ ‘You will do so! I order you [to do] it.’ ‘Certainly, [my] lady, I will not do [it].’ The lady takes the ax from his hand and begins to cut right and left so much that she cut it down and so made logs of it. Then she orderd him to carry [it away].

While he was carrying it away, his lord came. He looked at the logs of the elm and the leaves and the branches and was completely distraught. Then he said: ‘Where did you take this log?’ ‘Certainly, sire,’ goes the lady, ‘when I came earlier from the church, one told me that you had gone on the river for birds. And I knew well that you were cold and that in here there was no log at all, so I went into this garden and cut down this elm.’ ‘[My] lady,’ the lord said, ‘I believe that it is my good elm that you have cut down.’ ‘Certainly, sire, I do not know if it is it.’ The lord went there to look [fol. 26d] and found that it was cut down. Then he returned to his house and said: ‘Ha! [my] lady, badly have you served me. It is my good elm that you cut down.’ ‘Ha! sire,’ the lady goes, ‘I did not take heed of it. And I did it because I knew well that you would come [back] all wet and rain-drenched.’ ‘[My] lady, for this [reason] I will now leave it [at that] inasmuch as you did it for me.’

Then they left it [at that] until the next day, when the lady got up and came to the church and found her mother and salutes her. The mother asks her how it was with her. ‘[My] lady,’ she goes, ‘very well. I have tested my lord.’ ‘Did you cut down the elm?’ ‘Yes, truly.’ ‘And did he say anything?’ ‘Certainly, he did not at all give the strong impression that he was angry. Certainly, [my] lady, I want to love.’ ‘You will not do [so], beautiful daughter! Let it be!’ ‘Certainly, mother, I will not at all hold myself [back] from it.’ ‘So I will tell you what you will do: test him again.’ ‘[My] lady, willingly. And I will tell you in what.


[The second test]


He has a hunting dog that he loves more than anything alive.

[Fol. 27a, line 1] When a sergeant makes it bark, / you would then see wood pieces fly [about]! / And it goes [around] soiling the household; / one cannot anger us more about anything else.’ / ‘Daughter, think about how it will be killed; / this thing will be stronger [than the first test]. / If you can kill it, / then I laud you without hesitation / that you can make another friend / [10] without fear of your husband.’

That one came [back] to her house; / her devil torments her hard. / Her fire she lights with coal, / and she put seats around / and put the coverlets on [them], / for she wanted to find a pretext. / And she put on a dress: / it was newly washed and folded. / In her hand she had a knife / [20] that she borrowed from a servant. / The lord came from the woods, / in front of the house he dismounted. / Never was there a day when he did not go there / [to see] if another man did not disturb [her] [?]. / Onto the coverlets jump the dogs, / never will they take care of anything. / The lord is sitting by the fire. / The lady had a very clear face; / she sat down on the other side, / [30] for she knew profoundly fox[-like deceit]. / The greyhound comes before her, / and she caresses it, for it fears nothing. / It thrust her dress forward; / it climbed up right away. / To its woe it did so, soon it will pay for it: / right then the lady killed it! / When it falls, it lets out a wail. / The lord said: ‘Who did this?’ / ‘I, truly,’ she said, ‘killed it; / [40] see how it turned me out! / I cannot have so many sheets washed / nor laundered by two laundresses / without your dogs soiling everything, / nor do I dare to sound a [single] word to you about it. / You are more trusting dogs / than Jesus the spirit[ual].’ / He swore to God the glorious about it: / ‘There is in the century nothing except you [who], / if my greyhound were to have been killed, / [50] would not impose a strong punishment for it.’ / ‘It is done,’ this she said, ‘however I take [it]; / other idle talk has no role here.’ / And he responds: ‘You speak the truth, / but all days [will] I have a black heart because of it.’ /

She waited until the next day / to put herself on the straight path. / Right straight to her mother she went, / proudly she addressed her: / ‘By God, the greyhound is dead / [60] and my lord consoles himself beautifully about it. / Yet I want to love the chaplain, / Guillaume, who is not bad. / My opinion is, by Saint Simon, / [that] there is not so handsome a cleric [from here] to Dijon!’ / ‘[My] daughter, in the name of God the Creator, / do be patient still, for my love. / Thursday will be All Saints [day], / when your lord will be in a festive mood / and will hold a very high feast / [70] of knights great and honest. / When he will be sitting at dinner / and the beautiful dishes will be put before him, / then make believe that you are getting up / and make everything topple over. / Such a disgrace will be very great. / If you can escape after that, / you will be able to make three lover friends; / never will you be because of him worse for it.’ /


[The third test]


She waited until the right day. / [80] Much was this vassal a nobleman; / he had asked his friends [to come], / the good people of that country, / the knights and the burghers / and the noble and courteous people. / Jugglers came without asking [for anything] / for he was liberal in giving. / They sound the horn for the water without delaying / when the food was prepared. / When he had brought in some of the dishes / [90] and filled to the brim the wine vessels, / the lady was sitting low down; / she had to eat with the senechal. / Her keys she attached to the tablecloth / so that she made everything topple over / [and made] the vessels full of wine spill out. / She jumped up without delaying. / ‘Who did this?’ said the lord. / ‘Here is a very great disgrace!’ / ‘I did it,’ she said, ‘I cannot [take it] anymore, / [100] so help me God and Saint Gervais.’ / ‘[My] lady,’ he said, ‘now it is worse, / so help me God and the Holy Cross.’ / Then he did not want to speak of it further, / but he had other dishes brought in. /

And when his court had departed / and the house was cleared, / he calls for his wife. / ‘It behooves you to be bled’. / ‘Sire,’ she said, ‘bleed yourself! / [110] So help me God the glorious, / never from my arm blood will go out, / nor will an ax [!] come close to it!’ / And he responds that it would do so / and that the blood-letting would be [happening]: / ‘Through  the bad blood that you carry / and the poison that you have, / of which the veins are so full, / you have done methe[se] vile acts; / for very wrongfully you cut down my elm, / [120] and my greyhound, which was gentle, / you killed, and my food / you made all topple over. / By this beard of mine that I have white, / this made you do bad blood!’ / And she said that she would not at all bleed, / and he draws the polished sword. / Then she was much afraid / when she saw the sword. / He called for a bloodletter; / [130] he comes to him and bandaged her, / then strikes in the arm and the blood spurts [out]. / One could see it [from] high up. / He bled her again on the other arm; / then she was much dismayed. / Of  vile blood and of poison / was very soon the basin filled. / The bloodletter wanted to remove it / and he goes to give it an air-blow [?]: / ‘Vassal, too bold are you / [140] who dared to remove it without my leave.’ / She faints amidst the people; / then more than a hundred wept about it. / When he saw her face turn white / and [saw] in the basin the blood turn white: / ‘Now is it good that you remove it; / there still remains enough of it in there, / and nevertheless we have of it / drawn the worst [blood] of hers.’ /

In a blanket they carried her / [150] and then remanded [her] to her mother. / ‘[My] lady,’ this she said, ‘I am betrayed / [152-162 lacuna] / [163] Thus you should have acted, king, / by God who established the law: / have that queen bled / for she knows much bad treachery. / Because of the bad blood of which she has so much / she wants to kill your child.” /



by the queen

(fol. 28c-29b)


[Line 187] “Three pagan kings had besieged / the city of Rome in such a way / that they wanted to burn it, / to have Saint Peter’s chair, / to put to torment the pope, / the cardinals and the other people. / The community held a council / and they devise the following stratagem. / There was a wise man, / old and ancient with beautiful age. / ‘[My] lords,’ he said, ‘now listen / and understand well my reason. / Three pagan kings have besieged us / [200] who are not at all our friends. / And we have in here seven Sages, / all noble men by lineage. / There are seven days in the week; / the first one is Sunday. / Each one of the Sages [should] make sure on his day / that the whorish pagan people / cannot put us to grief in here, / [cannot] pass over the walls nor the ditches; / or if this is not [to be], without hesitation / [210] we [will] take vengeance on [their] bodies.’ / Then the Sages are in fear; / the city they defend for two months / so that never because of the hated people / they lose there [so much as] a sorb-apple’s worth. / When they had to assault [them], / through their stratagem they make them flee / so that not ever they could enter there, / [or] pass over neither wall nor ditch. / For those inside [things] go worrisome, / [220] for meat goes into decline. /

One day they came to Janus, / the master Sage, in the palace nearby. / For that Janus one said January, the month which is before February. / ‘Sire,’ they go then, ‘now it is up to you; / tomorrow you will defend [us] vigorously, / or if this [is] not [so], you are dead; / never will there be [any] other comfort.’ / And he responds like a debonair man: / [230] ‘So it behooves you therefore to act well, / so that all of you be armed, / [that] big and small [be] completely prepared. / Tomorrow right at the third hour [after sunrise] of the day / I will climb up in that tower / and will make marvelous contraptions / in order to scare the Saracens. / Go out of here quickly, / big and small communally, / and mingle with the pagans / [240] and kill them like dogs.’ / Those respond: ‘By Saint Thomas, / this will not be held for a joke.’ /

Then he had tails sought / of squirrels, more than a thousand, / and [had] a sheet teinted in ink / and [had] soon cut a vestment; / and on it they attached the tails / and arranged them thickly. / Then he had two visors made / [250] which were hideous and fierce, / and the tongues were vermilion. / Then he was turned into a great marvel. / Before this day, this is the truth, / Greek halo [?] was not looked at. /

 Here he waited until the [next] day / when he clothed himself in his outfit. / The visors he put on his head; / each one is hideous and honest. / And underneath (he) sat a helmet / [260] which was of the work of Duraume; / mirrors he had planted there; / against the sun they give clarity. / With him he carried two swords / which are cleverly hilted. / Towards the Saracens he puts himself / on a battlement on a [hill[top]. / He takes to striking with the swords / so that he makes the fire spring from them. / One of the kings said: ‘God up there / [270] has tonight descended down / in order to [come to the] help [of] his people on earth. / To our misfortune did we ‘make acquaintance with] this war!’ / The father does not await the child, / rather they flee immediately. / And those of Rome came out of there, / very fiercely they invaded them; / many they killed and wounded / and conquered great wealth there. / Those went away like crazy: / [280] they never lost a sorb-apple there! / For this [reason] the clergy still makes / the Feast of Fools in January. /

Just so have you served, king, / by God who established the law. / The Sages go [about] tricking you / and by their exemplum fooling you.” /


[293-300 Foreshadowing of Virgilius:] “You are leading the same play / as he who plays ball. / When he holds it, often he throws it / and plays it to his companions. / Then he runs after [it] more [quickly] than his pace; / before he may attain it, he remains all tired out. / And so is he not a very crazy fool / [300] when he throws and runs after it?” /




by Chaton

(fol. 30a-32a)


[Line 359] “In Rome there was once a castellan; / ten manors he held in his hand. / He was rich and wealthy, / and he took a wife of great beauty. / He cherished and honored her, / and she hardly prized it, / but loved much a knight / who was cowardly and very lazy; / and her lord was a vassal, / he would not fear an admiral. / But woman does not care at all / [370] except for where her heart allies itself. / […] / […] / He made a very beautiful hall, / high and round, with a tower. / He did not want to build a chamber there, / nor suffer any enclosure inside. /

The rich man had a magpie: / of it it is right that I tell you. / It talked freely / [380] and attentively as well / as if it were a woman; / great talk was there about it throughout the realm. / He made a cage of iron / which was not vile nor crazy. / With a double chain / it was tethered to one end; / from the cross-beam it was hung / at an angle with a beautiful view. / Above it he had made it a ceiling beam / [390] of strong planks altogether without trim. / He did not want at any price / that something does it harm. / Thus he guarded his house: / he would never done a misdeed, / nor taken anything away, nor removed anything / without his counting everything. / Much hated it the servants / all together, small and big, / and the lady right as well, / [400] [but] he knew how to take vengeance / so that the magpie would not be hurt by it, / so that it would not have mortal blame for it. / When the lord had wandered off / and gone to some fair, / the lady was not so courageous / that she went out without company, / that she would not have two men or three, / and so returned forthwith. / The magpie kept [an eye] on her so strongly / [410] [that] it took away [her] enjoyment of her lover. /

One day the lord had wandered off / and [so had] many of his men. / The lady remained [behind] with the magpie; / there remained only a little of the household [staff]. / She sat down and thought / how she will avenge herself; / she would want more to be insulted by [the magpie] / than to be denounced by it [even if only] a little. / She calls a sergeant, / [420] and he goes there immediately. / ‘[My] friend, can I trust you?’ / ‘Yes, [my] lady, by my faith.’ / ‘Have you seen our magpie / which makes me lead a hard life? / I cannot speak to my lover, / nor kiss him, nor embrace [him]. / Certainly, I would have very great joy / if I could take revenge on it a little. / So do you know what you will do? / [430] You will uncover the house / at the magpie’s place there above [it]; / up there the ceiling beam comes down on you / and pierce it delicately / in forty spots or in a hundred. / Water and gravel carry with you, / through the hole[s] pour [it] inside / so that the magpie is wet, / [so] that it spends a bad night. / With a hammer you will hit [the roof]. / [440] A full fist of candles you will hold, / and they should be will lit; / through the holes they should be thrust / so that it sees the clarity / and [so] that it believes that it is a storm. / If I have from you a little bit of help, / I will well take revenge on the magpie.’ / ‘[My] lady,’ he said, ‘very well / will I carry out your plan for it.’ /

They left everything [throughout] the night / [450] and [let] the people fully calm down. / The lady had asked her lover [to come]; / the knight came there. / He [made] her joyous and hugged [her]. / more than thirty times he kissed her. / The magpie cries out in the cage: / ‘Lady, you act like a fool!’ / They had in the evening very rich hospitality; / it/she was neither miserly nor avaricious. / To eat they had liberally, / [460] big and small together. / Next to the fire they made a bed; / their they wanted to carry out their pleasure. / And they lit a lamp, / but it was not elevated high up. / She wants well that that magpie / know and see that life. / The lady lay down first; / the knight immediately / kissed her and did his pleasure with her / [470] just like other men. / The magpie was in its corner; / now it cries out: ‘Now I know why I see / these sheets rise up lightly! / Here there is vile love-making! / I will tell my lord the truth / that you do him such disgrace.’ /

Aand the sergeant turned away from there / and climbed onto the house; / very nicely he uncovered it, / [480] let himself down onto the ceiling, / and begins to pierce it / delicately without delaying. / Outside there was a young girl / who brought him water and gravel; / down through the holes he threw it / until he made the magpie wet. / Across the cage [the magpie] goes jumping, / it cannot find any good security. / That one strikes with the hammer above / [490] and shows again [and again] through the holes / the candles quite often / which were burning very brightly. / Then it believed well [that it would] die by fire / and believes that it was thunder. / Here it had vile pleasure! / It did not fail it all night long. /

When the boy saw day[light] / and saw the odor [?], / he quickly descended from there / [500] and soon recovered the house. / The sun rises and it was a clear day, / and the lady without delaying / made the knight get up. / He made haste to ready himself. / He took [his] leave and turned away from there, / and the magpie cried out [in] high [pitch]: / ‘Sire Girart, son of Tierri, / you have built [yourself] a bad spot! / Why do you not await my lord / [510] before you share in his wife?’ /  

He left there, it stayed, / and the rich man who came / right away dismounted, / and the lady took on the combat [with him]. / She put [her] arms around his neck / and said that she loves her relief: / ‘Sire, I could not sleep at night / because I want to serve you alone.’ / Now she mocks well her baron[-husband], / [520] for she does not prize him one lonely button! / The rich man marvelled / that the magpie did not speak with him. / Straight to the cage he came, / the lady was together with him. / He addressed the magpie: / ‘What are you doing, my sweet friend? / How goes it? And are you not healthy? / Tell me it, by Saint Helen! / You used to call to me / [530] and carry on [in] very great joy.’ / ‘Sire, the explanation is honest: / I am very much beaten by storm, / for last night there was no end / [to] the water which goes to the mill / raining on me and [to] it being windy / and [to] howling and thundering. / A great marvel it is, by Saint Simon, / that it did not destroy this house. / And your wife went to bed-- / [540] that bed (look at it!) the entered-- / with sir Girart, son of Tierri!’ / Said the lady: ‘Sire, by your mercy! / Have you heared, by Saint Thomas, / and listened to this Satan? / Thus must you well believe it: / never in months was there thunder! / Look out there in that marsh / if and when it has rained so much. / Because God born of Mary / [550] did not ever make so serene a night.’ /

Now it happened here [by] chance / that in the evening the moon was / all bright and very beautiful / (it was waning, it was not new) / where the rich man lay, / inside the house where he was, / so that the [moon]ray came on him; / and to the knights he complained about it / and said that he could not sleep / [560] because of the moon that he saw shining. / Then he believed well that the magpie / had in all things told him trickery. / The cage he unlocked, / his hand he thrust inside. / In the anger that he had honestly / he broke its head,/ then he quickly flung it into the air. / ‘Go away!’ he said. ‘May God strike you down! / Many times you have made me furious / [570] and angry with my wife. / He is very much a fox who believes the bird / and nothing else except what he sees.’ /

Then he sat down inside on the bed, / he who is angry and pensive, / and saw the roof which had been disturbed, / and thought again a little to himself / [that] it was newly covered again; / of soot there appeared nothing, / as it used to be, all around. / [580] Then he looked at his house; / one of his sergeants he called about it: / ‘Bring me a ladder there! So help me God who did not lie, / I believe well that I am betrayed!’ / And he did [it] without delaying, / and he stood it up to the ceiling. / The rich man climbed on it, / and had discovered the holes; / and he found the hammer on top / [590] and the wax which was dripping / from the candles that the sergeant / went sweeping up across the top. / Then he sought the cage / and found it all wet. / Then he knew well, without trickery, that he was wrong to have killed his magpie. / Quickly he drew his sword / and beheaded his wife! / So he acted like the wolf / [600] which for one damage does two of them. / 

[601-608] For the love of God who did not lie, / take care that you do not work like this. / There is no good sense against [balanced] measure[s], / this recounts us Scripture.”




by the queen

(fol. 32b-33b)


[Line 626] “There was once in Rome a king. / I do not know how he gained weight, / but never in three years did he go out / [into] the great streets of the city, / [630] nor [did he go out] of his honored palace. / One day his barons call him, / simply the reasoned with him: / ‘Sire, why do you stay inside so much? / You are because of it very much heavier! / If you wandered about, by Saint Germain, / you would be fit and healthy.’ / And the king said: ‘So I will wander about / and will go see my cities.’ / He mounted on a horse / [640] around him [were] many a knight. / He had had the gate opened: / but out of Rome he could not go! / He spurred on the horse, it recoiled; / he raises his hand and crossed himself. / He went to all of the gates, / but it amounted to nothing for him. / As soon as he came to the exit, / [647-651 lacuna] / which was wide and high and […]. / There there was a platform; / unfortunately he sat down on top. / He demanded the seven Sages / who on this day were invested with an office. / ‘Now tell me at your complete leisure / why I cannot go out of Rome.’ / Those respondent: ‘We do not know; / [660] we will tell you the true explanation of it / by [means of] the moon [and] the direction of the winds. / There we see an omen. / We seek a term of fifteen days, / before we will see no explanation of it at all.’ / The king responds: ‘I will give [it] to you, / but I will do it with much difficulty.’ /

Then it was the custom here / throughout the people, well do I tell it you, / that no man must dream / [670] in his bed, nor “fool around” / without him going to tell it to his priest, / who is his doctor and his baker [?]. / He made him take a gold coin / and then carry it immediately/ to Rome [and] give [it] to the Sages / in order to recount [to them his] [dream] vision. /

A poor man from Lombardy / dreamed a dreadful thing. / To his priest he went to recount it, / [680] and he made him without delaying / quickly sell his house / and take on him ten gold coins. / Here then turned away from there in the morning / this pilgrim [and went] straight to Rome. / A little beyond the city / he found a well-supplied burgh. / A woman he saw sitting there, / before her a very beautiful child. / The pilgrim saluted them, / [690] and this child addressed him: / ‘I know very well where you are going: / right straight to Rome with the demon face! / Truly the are the devils, / all their sayings I hold [to be] fables. / You will bring them a gold coin, / then you will recount your dream; / and they will right then explain it / and will tell you the meaning of it. / He who would tell you it without money / [700] and would let you [keep] your gold coin, / would you go from there to your house?’ / ‘Yes, certainly,’ said the good man.’ / ‘You dreamed, this is the truth, / that your house was burning, / a serene fountain it had, / very beautiful, on the other side. / The fire is a strong omen: / it is your wife who has died / since you turned away from the region, / [710] and yesterday morning she was interred. / And the fountain is a treasure / where there is a lot of silver and gold. / Go away, and dig quickly, / and [receive and] hold from God very generously.’ / And he responds: ‘Is this the truth, / handsome friend, that you have recountednto me? / While I am close to Rome, / I will never return from there / and will have prayed at Saint Peter’s / [720] and will have spoken to the seven Sages.’ / ‘Go,’ he goes, ‘handsome sweet friend, / more things will you have ever conquered there.’ /

Right straight to Rome he came wandering; / the seven Sages he found sitting / besides the Tiber on the river bank; / there stirs often a thunderstorm. / They cannot see nor determine / why the king cannot go out / of the city at his pleasure; / [730] of death they are assured. / They saw the nobleman coming / right straight to them at great leisure. / And one [of them] said: ‘Lord, for [the love of] God, / the majestically glorious, / do send this nobleman away from here; / we let [go of] staying in Rome.’ / The other one responds like a generous [person]: / ‘Here would be much good to do.’ / The ask: ‘Where are you going?’ / [740] And he responds to them vigorously: / ‘I am going to the seven Sages to talk [to them] / and to recount my dream.’ / Those respond: ‘See us here! / Never will have been lied here about anything.’ / He handed them a gold coin / and then he recounted his dream: / that his house burned in fire, / one half  fell down; / a gentle fountain was there, / [750] there was not a more beautiful one [from here] to Otrente. / And one of them said: ‘Your wife died / since you left your region. / The fountain is a great possession: / this you may well know to be true. / Go away and have it dug up; / about this we do not want to lie to you.’ / And he responds: ‘Exactly the same / said recently a child to about it, / and still more without fail; / [760] now I do not want to leave here [and go] to him.’ / Those heard it and crossed themselves; / very severely they marvelled at it. / One of them said it to the other: / that the child knew more than they. / ‘Take your gold coin and twenty of ours, / and so lead us […] / to him who said all this.’ / And he responds that he would do it. /

He led them to the burgh / [770] and showed them the young man. / One of the Sages embraced him, / very simply he addressed him: / ‘Would you know, handsome sweet friend, / for the love of God who did not lie, / why the king could not go out / of the city at his pleasure?’ / ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘if I wanted to, / the truth I would tell you about it.’ / ‘We will give you twenty thousand gold coins for it / [780] so that you will be very wealthy.’ / ‘So lead me with you to Rome; / there I will tell you the sum about it.’ /

On a horse they mounted him, / straight to Rome they carried him away. / At the home of one of the Sages, Argalés, / they dismounted him in the palace. / All around him they arranged themselves / and asked him to speak right away. / ‘[My] lords, underneath the king’s bed, / [790] at only a full foot[‘s depth] [?], by [my] faith, / there is a kettle boiling / with fire from Hell, hideous and big. / As long as it will be there / the king will not go out of the city. / Go, have it removed; / then he will be able to go everywhere.’ /

They go to the king and said to him / that they found what they were seeking. / They had the bed removed / [800] and the ground soon dug up. / Right away they found the kettle / which was very hideous and fierce[-looking], / for there were seven bubbles / which were blacker than ash. / The king saw them and crossed himself; / from the heart of the belly he sighed. / ‘Alas!’ he said. ‘This is my hell, / a more hideous man there is not under the sky. / Go [ahead] and have [it] removed / [810] and [have] everything thrown into an old pit!’ / Those respond: ‘We do not know / how to remove it.’ / ‘Who  then told you [all] this? / Did you not find it yourselves?’ / And they respond: ‘A child.’ / At this point they lead him there up front. / The king saw him and embraced him; / very simply he asked him: / ‘Would you know, handsome sweet friend, / [820] how to extract this kettle from here?’ / He said: ‘Yes, if I wanted to, / I would extract it from there in brief time.’” / [End missing]




by Jessé

(fol. 34a-36c)


[Line 851] “In Lothringia there was a viscount / who was quite courteous and good, / and he took onto him a wife, / […] there was not a more beautiful one [from here] to Frisia. / They loved one another in great manner; / like two children they played one with the other. / To her was good what he did, / and to him [was even] better what she said. / Never at your ages would you hear / [860] any two persons so [well] assembled! /

One day he sat down in his house; / in his hand he was holding a big stick / and in the other he was holding a knife / which was very newly crafted. / He was holding the stick and was whittling it, / and at the two ends was cutting it. / The lady was amusing herself with him, / and he was paying attention elsewhere. / Young woman is proud, / [870] may you know this, and bored. / Straight toward the stick she thrust her hand! / The knife was so close to her / that it struck her in the thumb / and made her bleed a little bit. / When he saw it, he fainted / and said [that] never again he will eat. / And he grieved so strongly about it / that the next day he died from it. / That one did not have at all a lion’s heart, / [880] [he] who died for such a reason! /

They had the corpse prepared / and carried it to the church, / in a new cemetery / (it was outside the city, very beautiful, / it was blessed and all sacred) / where the viscount was interred. / And the lady sighs and weeps, / and it weighs on her that she is still living. / On the tomb she sat down / [890] and swears [by] God and Saint Denis / that she will never again leave from there / nor will enter the city, / but will remain with her lord / until God ends her day. / She did not want to believe her family, / priest, canon, cleric or sage. / When they see [that] they will not lead her away from there, / they say [that] they will never use force in the matter: / ‘If she wants to, she will be a recluse, / [900] or she will come back from there into the city.’ / They quickly make a lodge / and fit it out for her nobly. / They bring her a bed and fire; / alone she will remain in this place. / Very small is the house; / three days she was there, keeping watch. / [907-915 lacuna] /

[…] / and asked him for his land. / Outlaws they were; much they aggrieved him / and devastated his land holdings. / Now occurred thus the incident / (for them it was heavy and hard!) / [920] in which they were taken at a checkpoint / and [were] held as vassals / the very day of which I am speaking / [and] on which the viscount was buried. / They are right away given over to the king. / He was happy when he saw them / and said [that] he would not make a case of them, / but would very quickly hang them. / He had them led on the mount; / [930 lacuna] / feet bound; they bandaged up the[ir] eyes / and quickly hung them. /

In the town there was a knight / who made strong [efforts] to have esteem. / He served the king honorably. / When a traitor was hanged, / a bad robber or a thief, / he guarded him without company, / all armed on a horse, / [940] so that there was with him no man of flesh [and blood]. / If the thief was stolen / or by his family carried [off], / he was hanged immediately / in that place where the thief had been. / As for me, I say, by Saint Gervais, / that the fief was bad! /

The day goes [by], night came. / The one who held the fief / had quickly armed himself / [950] and climbed onto the mount, / close to the gallows he stopped. / He hardly felt lost / nor in any way frightened, / for he was acustomed to the fact. / It was around Saint Andrew’s day, / [so] that the place was frigid, / for it was windy and it snowed / and it was very severely wintery. / And he stood [there] who was cold / [960] so that he lost [his] vigor. / So he did not know how to ‘contain’ himself / nor did he dare to leave the evil-doers. / He looks down toward the cemetery / where the lady carried on [with] her anger; / she weeps and sighs and laments, / toward sorrow she has put her reasoning. / He recognized her: she was his neighbor, / but was not at all his cousin. / He was there the day / [970] the viscount was interred. / He sees the fire which was burning bright, / which was from the dry log; / he thought to himself that he will go [there] / and will warm himself a little. / He spurs on the horse and turns [away] from there; / he came to the lady who was dull. / He stops outside and calls to her: / ‘What are you doing, beautiful friend?’ / ‘Vassal,’ she said, ‘who are you / [980] who at such an hour wanders up here?’ / ‘I am Hervé, son of Guion, / who guards up there those three evil-doers. / This is my job, you know it well, / but the weather is ‘disfigured’, / for it is windy and cold / and it is winter beyond measure. / Let me enter in there with you / and warm [myself] a tiny bit! / You will not have [accusations of] vileness because of this / [990] nor talk of contempt, / truly I affirm it to you.’ / ‘So you can come in, [my] friend.’ /

  She opens the door and he entered; / the horse he attached outside. / He came to the fire (he was not wicked!), / agreeably he stretched out his hands. / And then the color came back to him, / he recovers all his vigor. / ‘Ah!’ he said, ‘dear friend, / [1000] what are you doing at this coffin? / Never did [any] man do this / [and] undertake such an action. / One can never  recover a dead one / by promising nor by giving; / nobody did or will do it! / And God said it and commanded / that one do good [things] for the dead, / for one cannot recover anything there. / Believe, [my] beautiful, your family; / [1010] you will have [another] rich marriage, / quite better, I am sure of it, / four times [better] than the first one.’ / And she responds: ‘I will not at all do [it]! / In sorrow will I use my life, / for for me [my] baron died; / I will render him the reward for it. / Never from here will I leave / until the hour at which I will die.’ /

So it got nicer for him through warming up / [1020] and through speaking with the lady. / So much he stood there by her fireplace / that one of the evil-doers was stolen, / and his family carried him off, / for the shame weighed on them. / The knight departed from [the lady]; / to the gallows he came and determined / that the evil-doer had been carried off from there; / then he became severely demented. / He thinks in himself that he will flee from there, / [1030] and afterward that he will not do [it]; / rather he will go back to the house / to [discuss] advice with the lady, / to know whether he would find help / by which he would be able to save his life. /

He spurs on the horse and came back / and very simply said to her: / [My] lady, I have come back! / A bad thing has happened to me, / for one of the evil-doers has been stolen; / [1040] his family has carried it off. / So now it will behoove me to go to Frisia; / I will not wait for the judgment.’ / ‘Brother,’ she said, ‘it is a great loss / if you let [go] your inheritance. / Long [distances] you could go overland / before you could conquer as much of it. / But if you want to love me / and take me as wife and marry [me], / I would give you such advice / [1050] and would make such a stratagem / [as to ensure] that you would not lose the land, / but would hold it in peace without war.’ / ‘[My] lady,’ he said, ‘much will I have of it; / for evermore will I love you.’ / ‘Come forward! See my lord / that was interred this very day. / Nevermore will he get worse, / nor will he move a sheet around himself. / Come forward and dig him up! / [1060] Put him up instead of the evil-doer!’ /

He came forward and they dug him up / and put him up instead of the evil-doer. / Onto the horse they lifted him, / right straight to the gallows they carried him. / ‘[My] lady,’ he said, ‘if I were to hang [him], / I would become a very fine coward through it.’ / ‘Friend,’ she said, ‘I will hang [him] / for your love, without any delay.’ / For the ladder she had gone / [1070] in the center of the place where it had been carried. / She had put it up to the top. / Now the honest sorrow has been put [aside]! / The lady was of a bad sort: / around his neck she put the noose, / and the knight lifted him up. / The lady hung her lord / in the very place of the evil-doer! / The sage Solomon spoke the truth: / when woman  pretends to love / [1080] then it behooves [one] to be wary of her. /

She descends and addresses him / where she sees him seated: / ‘Friend, by God the glorious, / a great marvel have I done for you! / I coveted very much your love / when for it I hung my lord.’ / ‘[My] lady,’ he said, ‘I am badly positioned, / so help me God who does not lie, / for that one had broken two teeth. / [1090] Tomorrow, when the people will come here, / he will be immediately recognized / as soon as he will be seen by [his] face.’ / She seized a stone. / Well has the Devil inspired her! / Up the ladder she goes back, / with one hit she broke three of his teeth! / Then she descends and said to him / that she had furnished [the answer to] his entire request. / ‘[My] lady,’ he said, ‘now he hangs up there, / [1100] but, by my head, there is more, / for during the taking [of him as prisoner] he was wounded / through the side by a sword. / As soon as they will see him whole, / they will immediately know him.’ / And the lady responded to him: / ‘We are at ease [when it comes] to wounding [him]. / I will do it, if you wish, / in order to accomplish your wishes.’ / He held out the sword to her: / the lady struck her lord! / [1111-1114 lacuna] / ‘Truly,’ he said, ‘dirty whore! / By Lord God who made Eve / may he be cursed, whoever he may be, / who believes too much in his wife. / Go away! Flee from here now! / [1120] So help me God who does not lie, / I would judge with reason / that one put you to coal [ashes]. / Soon you have forgotten the one / who was yesterday interred for you!’ / She had anger [hearing] the news: / well has she fallen between two seats! /

Good king, by God the glorious, / this example I tell for you. / You are all grey and white, / [1130] your son is your flesh and your blood. / He would let himself be totally put to pieces / for you, by the baron Saint Richier. / If he were beside you in [times of] need, / he would not keep himself far away / and would look at your wife / [to see] to which man she would give herself. / Do not kill your child / for the word of the seductress.”




by the queen

(fol. 37a-39b)


[Line 1177] “Virgil was in Rome; / in that age there was no wiser man, / who had mastery of all the arts: / this the learned [community] tells us. / Virgil made a fire in Rome / through necromancy, in a very beautiful spot, / which night and day burned all days / so that it not once grew [bigger] / nor at other times diminished. / The whole people marvelled [at it]. / He did in this fire still more: / a man of bronze he erected upon it. / Here it was drawing [a bow] / [1190] between two magnetic rocks. / Very big was the nasty [statue]; / the bow “Which does not fail” it held in its hand. / Letters it had written on the neck / which said to whomever saw them: / “If someone strikes me, I will shoot.” / Nothing else it said, nor is there anything more. / From all parts people came, / big and small, communally, / to look at this marvel / [1200] of which they had heard [people] speak / (never, certainly, was the spot lonely!), / [and] to look at the man and the fire. / And the clerks read the letters, / recounted them to the other people. /

For four hundert years was the work such / that the fire never failed / when a bishop came there from Carthage, / proud and of great lineage. / The letters he saw and looked at, / [1210] and it seemed to him a little thing. / To his people he said that he would strike it, / and they say that he should not do [it]. / ‘Sire, you must well be silent about it / when no man would dare to do it.’ / Proud was he: he held a stick / and with it gave [hits] onto the [statue’s] head. / And that one shoots, strikes at the fire; / and right away it extinguished itself there / so that they could never determine / [1220] any coal [ashes] nor any log sticking out, / nor could they determine the spot / or the place where the fire was. /

Virgil made of such jewels / quite a few in Rome, and the most beautiful, / for [example] at the gate [lying] toward us / he made a marvelous man of bronze. / A ball it had in its hand, / which was likewise of bronze. / At the other gate from there / [1230] he erected another man. / On Saturdays, at the strike of the ninth hour, / this one from there, when [the hour] sounded, / threw the ball to the other, / and they carried on such play. / And he from there remains in possession [of the ball] / until the following Saturday; / then he launched it to the other, / [so] that the whole people watched it. /

Furthermore he made a mirror / [1440] which was of very great value. / It was a hundred feet high; / the mirror was much prized. / At night it gave such great clarity / that those from the city [could] see. / The servants who were going [to get] wine / did not carry other candles, / nor a lantern, nor any torch, / nor any coal to see clear. / When a thing was lost / [1250] or held in the hand of a thief, / they ran to the mirror to know / into which area this possession had been turned. / To no avail a thief would steal here / since he would never eat of [the thieves’ spoils]. / If he had ever done a treason[ous act] / or a murder or a killing, / it would be seen in the mirror; / so the realm was free of these [crimes]. / And when a king from a foreign land / [1260] wanted to make war against Rome, / they knew it through the mirror; / straight away got themselves ready / the Romans and issued forth from there, / big and small […], / and ran there under one [battle] noise. / Soon was this [foreign] realm destroyed! / All [their enemies] bore toward [the city] great envy / that Rome had such overlordship / that nothing could aggrieve them, / [1270] that the mirror covered them. /

There was in Hungary a king / who was very wise and courteous / and of very powerful wealth; / he had no neighbor who had as much. / And he had such [an army of] knights [that], / if it could be assembled / and entered into Rome, / the land would very well be devastated. / He called on four sergeants; / [1280] he had nourished them, much he trusted them: / ‘Th[is] heart of mine is much swollen / [because of the fact] that Rome has such great dignity. / The king is not worth a penny! / Never did God make a usurer / who would have been so covetous of wealth [like the king]; / [who] would have [taken as] lightly to deceiving.’ / Said one [of them]: ‘If the heart does not fail us, / the mirror which is high up, / the very highest […] / [1290] we will make crash down for you.’ / The king hears it and was happy. / ‘What evil [plan] are you talking about? / I will put my entire treasure into it / and other wealth that I will seek.’ / ‘So you brought us enough money, / and we will go to see the city. / You will hear quite a bit of what we will be doing, / and to what end we will be using [that money].’ / ‘Take brim-full measures of [money], / [1300] and load up carts-full of it!’ /

They have their march prepared / and on three carts loaded / the barrels full of gold and of silver, / and turn from there secretly. / To the Roman region they go at night. / They accomplished much, I think! / A little bit beyond the city / under a branched olive tree, / on the very great road / [1310] they make a ditch before morning. / One of the barrels they interred, / of gold and of silver [it was] very well filled to the brim. / At the other three greater roads / the sergeants did as much, / and then they went to lodge / and be at ease in the city. / And they spent so liberally / that the Romans were astounded. / Their door was not held [closed], / [1320] for who wants to, eats at their court. / Five courses the poor people have there; / very richly they enjoy themselves. / As soon as they hear the ninth hour sound, / they have the candles lit; / and they say that the court is low [on hand-outs] / as soon as the ninth hour passes, / nor [that] the court is nobly held / when plentifulness there is not seen. /

One goes to tell it at the king’s, / [1330] up in the rich palace, / that there are in the city such people / who are spending the entire wealth of God. / The king goes up [there], goes to see them; / up to seven knights he leads [with him]. / Those [others] were very happy when they see him, / because they wanted very well to speak to him. / They have the candles lit, / in flasks of gold [they have] the wine brought in. / For the king they made a high [feast] / [1340] and carried on with such generosity / that he who drank of the wine last / carried away the cup of fine gold. / The king saw it and crossed himself, / quickly he addressed them: / ‘Sires, by God the glorious, / where are you from? And how are you? / I marvel where you take / the great wealth that you are spending. / I could not suffer / [1350] what I see you maintaining.’ / One of them responds like a sensible [man]: / ‘And Lord God gives it to us. / We have no other profession / except only [what concerns] dreaming. / The treasure we extract from the earth / and spend it liberally.’ / ‘Lord barons,’ this said the king, / ‘so come together with me. / Lots of treasures there are in this land / [1360] that pagans lost through war. / I must well leave with you, / [I who] have to maintain the land.’ / They respond: ‘Handsome lord king, / we will remain with you two months.’ / One said to the other: ‘Now it will appear / who will immediately dream better!’ /

They take an oath [among] themselves until the day / when they go to the noble emperor, / and one of them said: ‘I dreamt / [1370] [about] a little bit of very easy wealth: / a barrel full of silver and of gold; / there is nothing more in this treasure. / Lets go and lets take of it so much; / afterwards we will have another greater one.’ / The king had come up there, / with him [were] knights and burghers. / He led them [down] the road / at the very [hour] of dawn […]. / They begin to dig / [1380] quickly, with great impetuosity; / they pulled the barrel from the earth: / the king saw it, great joy he has about it. / They gave him without dividing; / by that much they caused him to be astounded. / And the other night they dreamt again [about] / the three barrels and pulled them out. / [About] just as much, by Saint Simon, / could dream a foolish boy! /

Then they waited until the fourth day / [1390] when they go to the noble emperor. / ‘Sire,’ they go, ‘such dreaming / can hardly advance us, / but we know about such a treasure / where there is more silver and gold, / to my knowledge, than could be / with the Holy Father who would put it there [?]. / Ah! Noble emperor, / may there have been a good return! [?]’ / And he responds: ‘You speak the truth!’ / [1400] (He was covetous of wealth.) / ‘Where is it? Do not at all hide it! / May your company have good [results]!’ / ‘Sire, by God the Creator, / it is underneath the mirror.’ / And the king said: ‘By Saint Aignien, / that treasure is not good at all. / Even for a thousand marks I would not like, / much against myself I would suffer / that the base [of the mirror] were at all damaged, / [1410] that the mirror were to collapse.’ / Those respond without delaying: / ‘There is no concern for the base; / we will have [the mirror] well supported.’ / In order to mislead the emperor / they began to dig / quickly and without leisure[ly pauses]. / They dug underneath the base; / the earth they had carried away, / and they dug a little deep[er]. / [1420] [It is only] by a little that it does not fall! /

Quickly they came to the king / when they see that it is lost. / ‘Sire,’ they go, ‘the rest of today we will wait, / and tomorrow morning we will come back. / Have the ditch well guarded, / for the treasure is up for finding. / Tomorrow you will have a thousand marks of fine gold. / Such wealth even Constantin did not have!’ / Then they went to a burgher’s. / [1430] The king is very well enchanted! / Quickly they go to lie down; / they have no inclination to doze, / instead they removed themselves from the lodging. / They did not look at [their] horse[s], / but thought of digging further along, / [now] that they have well provided for their need[s]. /

Around midnight collapsed / the mirror and crashed / so that it felled twenty houses / [1440] and leveled [them] vilely. / Then arise the noise and the shouts, / and the Romans are all amazed. / Right straight to the lodging they went / and did not find the sergeants. / They came to the king and seized him / and very severely hurt him. / A basin full of gold they had boiled, / and then they run to seize the king; / at [his] body they throw [the gold] in large [amounts], / [1450] and then they addressed him proudly: / ‘Gold you had, gold you coveted, / and by plenty of gold you will die!’ /

That one believed the gossipers, / thus you are doing [regarding] the traitors. / If you do not kill this child, / so help me God and Saint Amant, / he will be crowned this year, / and you will be turned into the valley [of death].”




by Meros

(fol. 39d-42a)


[Line 1499] “There was once a knight / who resided next to Montpellier, / prized for weapons [he was] and well travelled / and through wealth strongly powerful. / In his bed he lay and dreamt / that he loved a beautiful lady. / He does not know who she is, nor in what country, / but love made great war for him; / and he said [that] it will never finish, / nor will he take any good rest / until he will have found, / [1510] (if he could) kissed and embraced her. / Then he had his expedition prepared, / and he led [with him] a great packhorse / which carried much gold and silver / that he wants to spend liberally. / He can take himself for the son of Folin / who enters the road for [the purpose of] dreaming. /

And that lady dreamt again / and for as much she loved this one still, / [although] she never saw [him], but it seems to her, / [1520] when they will assemble together, / [that] they will well recognize each other. Exactly thus / it happened, good king, as I tell you. /

Three whole months that one wandered about / without having found anything, / that much he should have been able to perceive, / but well does his hope deceive him. / Then he came back through Hungary, / through the most powerful domain. / On the sea he found a castle / [1530] which was closed by a new wall. / The tower was beautiful and noble / and higher (may I not lie!) / than if one were to shoot an arrow [?], / and more vermilion than a salmon; / it was well eleven feet thick. / Very well was [its lord] lodged! / Toward the sea, on the other side, / of no man had one a sighting. / A lady he had put there in confinement. / [1540] From her to the main exit / there were twenty doors all barred. / Her lord had closed them; / the keys he carried with him, / because he trusted nobody. /

See here now the knight, / passing down the road; / he had looked at the lady / who was sitting at the window. / At the right hour he had come there! / [1550 lacuna] / She looked down the road / [and] saw the [knight’s] company; / very well she recognized at his demeanor / the knight who comes behind [the company] / [and] that it is he of whom she dreamt. / Inside her heart she loved him. / The God of love presses her hard: / but for a little she salutes [the knight]! / [But] because of her lord she did not dare to speak; / [1560] a song she began to sing. /

The lord of the city had war; / his enemies devastated his land. / The knight saluted him, / his service he presented him; / and he said that he would retain him / and would give him [recompense] liberally. / And that one was so brave and courteous / [that], before the month had passed, / he had liberated his land / [1570] and finished his great war; / his enemies he took in the field / and exiled all of them alive. / Then bring him much great honor / all the great and the lesser [people]. / […] / […] and they bless much the road / by which he came into the region, / because he liberated the land. /

One day he was walking, relaxing / [1580] [and] wondering in front of the tower. / The lady was at the window / who was looking at the life of the city; / she took a big piece of wood and threw it, / next to the tower it fell [in front of] him. / He passes forward and picked it up; / it was hollow inside, so he thought / that this was a sign / that he should pursue without delay / how he could go forward / [1590] and in her chamber speak with her. /

Right straight he came to his lord / and very simply said to him: / ‘Sire, I have war in my country; / I killed a knight there.’ / [T]he [lord] said that [t]he [knight should] not be dismayed / for he will nobly retain him. / So he had made him senechal / of his land and of his household. / ‘Sire, give me [as well], out of love, / [1600] a place in front of the tower. / A house I would lay out there; / it would be long and fairly low, / for my equipment I would put in there / and would enjoy myself simply there.’ / And he responds: ‘Your pleasure / it behooves me to obey  everywhere.’ /

Carpenters he [de]manded immediately, / for money he had right then. / At the tower he made a lean-to; / [1610] a gate there was and a back-door. / He had the earth removed / and carried [away] by ten porters / with carts [down] the middle of the street. / Where the stable was founded / he had his horses lie there. / Another thing he will want to build: / his chamber he made in one portion. / The knight knew a lot about stratagem[s]! /

Then he had [de]manded a mason / [1620] who was born in Monbrison. / So much he promised him, so much he gave him / that he assured him / that he would never reveal [a secret], / but would nobly hide it. / Where the tower was pierced, / there they began. / And he takes to digging from inside / so silently [that] the people did not hear it. / The earth that he dug up / [1630] he put underneath the horses. / […] / […] / In fifteen days he worked so much / that he reached the window. / Straight to the knight he came running / and had told him in person / that now he can go to his friend, / that he built him a path-way. / Then that one did a great misdeed / [1640] when he killed the mason, / but he did it for cover, / so that [t]he [mason] would not recount the undertaking. /

Then [t]he [knight] enters the passage / and runs up the tower; / he lifted the trap-door a little / and entered inside the chamber. / With the lady he had amused himself / and did all his pleasure with her. / The lady brings him a ring / [1650] of solid gold, which was very beautiful. / And he left there right away / and sat the trap-door back. /

Then he came back to the lord / who sat down between his friends. / He was courteous and well-mannered; / Towards him he had stood up. / He saw the ring on his finger / and then was in great panic, / for it was beautiful as well as good, / [1660] and he believed that it was his! / He left straight from there / [and] came to the tower in great haste. / And the knight [leaves] equally / and comes into his lodging / and entered the passage-way / and runs up [in] the tower; / he lifted the trap-door a little / and threw the ring to the lady! /

At that point see here his lord inside / [1670] who was in very great fear! / He could not come quickly: / it behooved him to open the doors. / As soon as he could, he calls [to] the lady: / ‘What are you doing, beautiful friend? / There, my ring! Show it to me, / for I am in great panic about it.’ / ‘Sire,’ she said, ‘I guard [it] very well. / You know that it is mine.’ / And he responds: ‘I want to see [it], / [1680] for I have great hope in it.’ / She pulls it [out] and showed [it] to him; / when he saw it, he thought to himself / that there were enough rings / hand-crafted in a [similar] manner. /

Right straight to the church he went, / the knight he met [there]. / And that one stood up toward [him] / and simply recounted to him / that last night a young lady came to him / [1690] who brought good news, / [namely] that he has peace in his country; / his friends pursued [it] for him. / ‘Sire,’ he said, ‘for the love of God, / I beg you and request out of love / that you come eat with me / when you will have come back from the forest, / for I want to honor my friend.’ / [1698] lacuna] / And he responds: ‘Your pleasure / I will do in a very good way.’ / He left there with his retenue. / The other one sought meat, / and the lady descended, / she came into the lean-to. / There will be such a plan / that she puts on a dress of another guise. / The knight then said to her / that she [will be] wrong to be astonished by something. /

At that point the lord came / [1710] [and] dismounted in front of the lean-to. / The water they give without delaying / when the food was readied. / Together with his wife he ate, / and profoundly he wondered / and believes well that she is his. / I do not know how to blame [him], because he had right [on his side], / but he did not want to identify her, / instead he took to marveling. / The high tower deceived him / [1720] which was of such very great strength. / The servants remove the tables; / they give water and then wine. / He left there quickly, / and after him the people go away. / And the lady undressed, / quickly she removes her clothes. / He entered the passage-way / [and] lifted the trap door up. /

At that point her lord came / [1730] who was profoundly angry; / he saw his wife who was sitting down / and gave the impression that she was sleeping. / He searches the chamber quickly, / but did not see the deception. / [If only] he had had here [so] much cleverness / that he would have perceived the trickery! / […] He thought / that many women resembled one another, / exactly like with the ring / [1740] which was on the finger of the young man. / At night he can lie with his friend, / since the other one will not at all have her! /

The knight stayed awake / all night and planned, / and readied a ship / and rented [it for] fifteen silver marks; / all fitted out it was in the harbor. / They have good wind right straight from the north. /

They lay down until the morning; / [1750] to the church they go, to Saint Martin. / And the knight came there, / to the lord he said simply: / ‘Sire, I want to take my friend / and marry [her] at the abbey. / I do not want to ask you for more / except that you come to the marrying [ceremony], / and I request from you, by Saint Germain, / that you seize me by the hand.’ /

Noble king, so much did he fool him / [1760] and showed beautiful words / that [t]he [lord] delivered his [own] wife to him[, the knight]. / Before his very eyes she was married! / He led her from there straight to the river bank, / together with him [went] the great [assembly of] barons; / into the ship he put her with his arms. / Well must he lose [sexual] pleasure because of it! / And now they ‘disanchored’ / and lifted thee sails up to the wind. / And [t]he [lord] came to his tower. / [1770] When he did not find her scent, / then he took to reflecting / how he could recover her. / But now repenting is too late! / He can lament all at his pleasure. /

Like that you want to act, king, / by God who established the law. / The queen argues so much with you / that she has taken away your sight. / Tomorrow you will hear your son speak; / he cannot remain [silent] no more. / And then you will know without contention / who will be right, yes or no.”




by the prince

(fol. 42c-44b)


[Line 1843] “There was once a vavasor, / a handsome son he had from his wife. / One day he entered a boat, / together with him [was] the young man. / All alone (there were no more) / they go away navigating to a secluded place / which was situated on an island, / [1850] amidst rock[s] in a solitary place. / And as they navigated thus / straight to the secluded place where they were going, / over them are flying at this point / two crows [which are] violently shrieking. / They took to shrieking very fiercely; / into the boat they put themselves with them. /

The vavasor marveled at that, / raised his hand and crossed himself. / ‘A, God,’ he said. ‘What have these crows?’ / [1860] Then the young man responds to him: / ‘Sire,’ he said, ‘I know very well / what they are saying, by Saint Aignien.’ / Said the father: ‘So tell it to me! / May there be no longer delay!’ / ‘They are saying that I will climb up / and will further be such a high man / that you would be very glad, / this they are telling you, and profoundly joyful / if  I wanted to accept as much / [1870] as to allow you to hold / the water to be given to me for washing / and to allow [that] be brought [to me] / the towel by my beautiful mother.’ / Then the father was very angry: / ‘So help me God and Saint Clement,’ / [lacuna] that he will prove his prediction wrong. / He passes forward, seized his son / into the sea he tumbled him, / then he went on with his business. / [1880] The child was very thoughtful / to say the name of Our Lord; / by that much he healed from [his]  pain. /

He arrived at a rock; / there he was for three days, / he never drank nor ate there / nor looked at any other thing there / except the birds which are shrieking above him / and in their language say to him / that he would be dismayed for nothing / [1890] for he would have very near help. /

A fisherman came by sea; / there it behooved him to pass. / He saw the imperilled [child]. / You can know that he was very glad! / He collected him back into his boat / and took him away to a castle / which in great manner was strong / and thirty leagues away from port, / and sold him to the senechal; / [1900] for twenty gold coins he grew his household. / The senechal held him very dear, / and so did his wife. /

A king held this land / who was very frank and courteous. / He was followed all customarily, / so that all the people saw him, / by a big she-crow and two he-crows. / The birds were leading a great battle. / All days they go following the [same] route / [1910] and shrieking strongly above the king; / when he went to church / and when he sat down to eat / all days the birds are above / and shriek that they cannot any more [go on]. / Of it the king had great fright / and very great fear in his heart. / He did not know to what he owed this / and what the meaning [of it] was, / nor did he dare to harm the birds, / [1920] nor to aim at them to strike them. / 

One day he sat down and thought to himself / that his barons’ [assembly] will ask / to know if anybody will know how to tell him / why the birds have such anger. / And he summoned them all, / in a day they were assembled. / The senechal said that he will go, / and the boy begged him / to let him go with him / [1930] in order to look at the great barons’ [assembly]. / And the senechal responded: / ‘What would you be seeking, handsome friend?’ / Said the lady: ‘Let him go, / and he will hear the barons speak.’ /

Thus all go to the court, / so that there remains no hearing nor deaf [person behind]. / They sat down under two elms, / and above were the birds. / The king rises up / [1940] and addressed the barons: / ‘[My] lords,’ he said, ‘advise my! / Because of these birds I am in fright. / [He] who would tell me what signify / [these birds and] why they shriek so strongly above me, / I would give him my inheritance, / my beautiful daughter with the clear face.’ / Thereupon the barons held themselves mute, / the young as well as the grey, / but the imperilled boy / [1950] took the senechal by the coat. / ‘Sire,’ he said, ‘if I could be sure / that I have this promise, / well will I tell the king the adventure / and the nature of the three crows.’ / The senechal responds right away: / ‘There is here no place for mockery. / If the birds did not go away / and did not let go their great dispute, / you would not be believed, / [1960] but would be held to be a fool and an imbecile.’ / ‘Sire,’ said he, ‘I know very well / what they are saying, by Saint Aignien.’ / The senechal said: ‘Lord king, / now listen a little to me. / By [my] faith, this child told me this: / that if you keep the covenant with him, / well will he tell you about these birds, / about the she-crow as well as the he-crows. / And have him [be] listen[ed to], / [1970] I beg you for it, by Saint Omer! / If by chance he tells the truth, / so may [the covenant] with him be kept […]; / and if he does not tell a sure thing, / in listening to him there is no great loss.’ / And the king said: ‘I confirm to him / to keep  the covenant  here.’ /

Then he stood up; / well listen to him small and big. / ‘Good king,’ he said, ‘as far as these birds are concerned, / [1980]  they are a she-crow and two he-crows.. / Do you see this he-crow over there? / He has kept, for thirty years, / that she-crow freely. / The other year a famine arose. / He abandoned her in the miserable time; / she sought elsewhere her healing. / On the land which was deserted, / she turned in her poverty / to this other he-crow over here, / [1990] who ‘threw’ her out of the miserable time. / So now the old he-crow came / who because of his wife was furious; / but the [other] one for that does not want to return [her] to him, / rather he believes in defending her by judicial argument. / Now he wants to hear clearly / which one will have her by judgment. / So judge; they will depart, / never again they will be shrieking here.’ /

Then deliberate about this the king, / [2000] the knights and the burghers [and judge] / that he will have her by reason / who ‘threw’ her out of the miserable time. / ‘Birds, ‘ this tells them the nobleman, / ‘these barons consider at last / that he will have the she-crow / who ‘threw’ her out of the miserable time.’ / Then the old he-crow left / and threw out a hideous shriek, / and the others fly away / [2010] and manifest very great joy, / [they] who nevermore returned / nor shrieked above the king. /

The king had him take his daughter / and put her [in possession] of his realm. / He remembered his father / who fell into poverty. / He sent him a sergeant / and summoned him immediately. / At that point his father came / [2020] and dismounted at the palace. / They give the water without delaying, / for the meal was prepared. / Then he wanted to hold the sleeve / for the king, but he cannot suffer it; / instead he took the towel / [and] gives it to another servant. / Here you are: [the son’s] saying [has been] proven true / for which he was supposed to be tormented! /

When they had eaten, without interruption / [2030] they departed out of the palace. / ‘May it not in the slightest turn for you to annoyance / if you do not know who I am. / This is your son whom you tumbled / into the sea and imperilled / for the sole [reason] that I said / that I would be a richer man than you. / And so, has it not been proven?’ / Then he gave him a city. /

Thus you wanted to deal, king, / [2040] this I say to you, with my body. / Did you believe, if I rose up, / that I would disgrace you(r body)? / [2043-2048] I would rather let me be hanged, / burnt in fire and put to ashes / than sleep with my lady / and disgrace you(r body)!”