Chanson de William

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Plot

Some fighting in which some knights are too proud to call William of Orange for help and so die heroically, also causing the death of their friends. Some more fighting in which William avenges their deaths, and dies heroically. Some fighting in which King Louis avenges William's death, mostly won by the humorous noble-born peasant who insists on killing everyone with a lump of wood instead of real weapons.

Poetic style

The Chanson de William is written in decasyllabic assonanced couplets in Old French.

Its structure consists of disparate related stories about William, possibly developped orally, are combined together by a 13th century Anglo-Norman author, who tries to edit away inconsistencies between versions. This results in a story with some continuous narrative, but characters with very similar names keep appearing after the death of their namesake, and minor characters keep getting resurrected after death. Not an easy poem for the modern reader.

Modern translation

  • "La Chanson de Guillaume" trans Philip E.Bennett (Grant & Cutler LTD, London, 2000), ISBN 0-7293-0421-3
    • translation style: modern text, not prose in any form, given on the same page as old French text. Special care is taken to conserve the meaning of the original, but not to convey it's poetic style.