Medieval French Epic: Important Fragments found

“A fragment from a 12th-century French poem previously believed to have been lost forever has been found by an academic in Oxford’s Bodleian Library.

Dr Tamara Atkin from Queen Mary University of London was researching the reuse of books during the 16th century when she came across the fragment from the hitherto lost Siège d’Orange in the binding of a book published in 1528. Parchment and paper were expensive at the time, and unwanted manuscripts and books were frequently recycled.

Scholars had believed the poem, which comes from a cycle of chansons de geste – epic narrative poems – about Guillaume d’Orange, existed, but there had previously been no physical evidence that this was true. The fragment only runs to 47 lines, but it proves the existence of a poem thought to have been completely lost. […]

Atkin also found a parchment fragment from Béroul’s Roman de Tristan, telling part of the story of Tristan and Iseult, in the same book. The 12th-century poem is one of the earliest versions of the medieval romance, and until now the only evidence of its existence had been an incomplete 13th-century manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. The fragment found by Atkin differs “significantly” from the manuscript, and shows the poem was circulated more widely than had previously been thought.”

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Autor: Klaus Graf

Historiker und Archivar, Blogger

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