Raoul de Cambrai

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Raoul de Cambrai is a 13th century French chanson de geste.

The existing romance is a recension of a poem by a trouvère of Laon called Bertholais, who professed to have witnessed the events he described. It presents, like the other provincial geste of Garin le Loherain, a picture of the devastation caused by the private wars of the feudal chiefs.

Plot:

The fief of Raoul's deceased father is given away by Louis to another vassal; Raoul later attempts to reclaim his lands during an audience with the king. Louis instead offers to Raoul the next fief to become vacant (which becomes that of Hubert de Vermandois) but when its lord dies, Louis hesitates in giving the land to Raoul, as Vermandois has four sons looking to keep their fief. Raoul and the Vermandois heirs then go to war. After torching the Vermandois town of Origny, in which lived the mother of Raoul's squire Bernier, Bernier declares that he will have vengeance upon his master and manages to fulfil his oath. Then, Raoul's uncle Guerri kills Bernier and the vendetta remains in play. Guerri later manages to escape from his home into exile and out of record.

Translation:

  • Raoul de Cambrai: Edited with Introduction, Translation, and Notes. trans. Sarah Kay (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992), ISBN 0-1981-5868-8
    • Facing translation and original text.