Excitement arose from this find, which was a mere literary snippet discovered in Spain
but which mentioned the hero Roland and his peers, and predated*1
the Oxford Manuscript
A corroborative evidence perhaps to the theory that
the Chanson de Roland
was originally composed in Spain*2
That hypothesis is usually couched in theories regarding the development of the cultus
of the Santiago de Compostella (The cockle-shell piligrimmage to St. James in Spain).
The Real Academia de la Historia houses a manuscript
denoted Códice Emilianense 39
, named after the monastery
San Millán de la Cogolla
On one of its leaves is found the so-called Nota Emilianense
or "San Millianese Note",
a very brief "glos" text in "barbarous dog-latin".
Codex Emilianense 39, Fol. 245v, col. b.
The so-called "Nota Emilianense"
relating a piece of Early Charlemagne/Roland legend.
Below is the entirety of the text, as found in the published journal*3
(The text is alos published by Gil Fernandez*4
The Latin text below is accompanied by my translation made with help from Gago-Jover's Spanish translation,
and the Spanish forms of the names are retained *5
- In era dcccxui uenit Carlus rex ad Cesaragusta
- In his diebus habuit duodecim neptis unusquisque habebat
- tria milia ęquitum cum loricis suis · nomina ex his
- Rodlane · Bertlane · Oggero spata · curta
- 5 Ghigelmo alcorbitanas · · Olibero · et ępiscopo domini Toripini ·
- Et unusquisque singulos menses serbiebat ad regem cum
- scolicis suis ·· Contigit ut regem cum suis ostis
- pausabit In Cesaragusta! post aliquantulum
- temporis · suis dederunt consilium ut munera
- 10 acciperet multa · ne a ffamis periret exercitum!
- sed ad propriam rediret · Quod factum est. ··
- DeInde placuit, ad regem pro salutem hominum
- excercituum! ut rodlane belligerator fortis
- cum suis posterum ueniret ·· At ubi exercitum
- 15 portum de Sicera tranisret! In Rozaballes
- a gentibus sarrazenorum fuit Rodlane occiso
—transcription of Nota Emilianense
according to Alonso,
[*capitals letters proper names added]
In era 816 [year 778], Carlo(magno) came to Zaragoza. In his days,
he had twelve nephews, each one of whom had 3000 mounted knights with their loricas [infantrymen].
Their names were Roldán, Bertrán, Roger, Ogier "short-sword", Guillermo "curbed-nosed", Oliveros and his grace, the Bishop Turpín.
Each one of them served the king a month with his retainers.
It happened that the king stopped with his army in Zaragoza.
After a time, they held a council and advised him that he
should levy a large tribute so that the army did not perish from starvation,
or if not, to turn back as is appropriate.
This [latter] was done. The king wished that for the safety of the men of the army,
Roldán, a mighty soldier, and his troops be at the rearguard.
When the army traversed the port of Sicera in Roncesvalles,
Roldán was slain by the Sarracens.
The nickname of Guillermo [Guillaume/William of Orange], alcorbitanas
, is probably not a word that is ordinarily glossed, but I have used the intelligence that this is "a latinization of the 'corb nes' epithete"*6
There is thus an interesting fact that the douzepers served monthly duty at court.
The council they held may be parralled by the council under the pine in Konrad's Rolandslied
The significance of predating 1100 can be overblown.
Even though the Oxford manuscript is the oldest extant, we know that some form of the
chanson regarding Roland was known orally at least as early as the Norman invasion. See
*2 There also survives in Spanish the
Roncesvalles fragment (100vv long, 13th cent.)
Eugène Kohler, ed.,
Antología de la literatura española de la Edad Media (1140-1500),
2d ed. (Paris: Klincksieck, 1970), p.11-13. (* Discussion and analysis of excerpts occurs on Fragments of a Lost Epic Poem)
*3 Alonso, Dámaso,
"La primitiva épica francesa a la luz de una «Nota emilianense»" in Revista de Filologia Española XXXVII, (1953), pp. 1-94
*4 Francisco Gago-Jover,
The Cantar de Roncevalles page, for the College of the Holy Cross's , Span 400 Spanish Lit. course. Plain-text Latin transcription with Spanish translation.
The Nota is apparently an entry in the chronicle entitled Cronica Rotensis, which in the incipit calls itslef cronica uisegotorum "visigothic chron."
Ed. Gil Fernandez, Juan, Cronicas asturianas, Oviedo, Universidad de Oviedo, 1985. pp. 151-188
*6 Introduction in: Ferrante, Joan M., tr.
Gulliaume d'Orange: Four Twelfth-Century Epics, citing J. Frappier, Les Chansons de Geste du Cycle de Guillaume d'Orange (Paris, 1955) I, 78-9