Medieval France. An Encyclopedia

(Darren Dugan) #1

Spain, which was an important center of cross-cultural transmission from East to West.
Surprisingly, Adenet abandons all pretense of creating an epic by choosing rhymed
octosyllabic couplets. Aside from the source mentioned above, Adenet included as part of
this long romance (18,698 lines) autobiographical information from his travels in Italy.
Son of the powerful Marcadigas, king of Spain, Cleomadés travels across Europe to
perfect himself, spending the most time in France, land of honor and courtesy. Envious
neighbors, meanwhile, encroach on Marcadigas’s territory, leading to war. Cleomadès
returns home to head a battalion and establishes his reputation by accomplishing great
exploits and leading his countrymen to victory. Three African kings, suitors of
Marcadigas’s daughters, contrive marvelous automatons to trick the king. As the
machines are put to the test, the daughters are overcome with fright and bewilderment.
Through the suitors’ treachery, Cleomadés is carried off at vertiginous speed by an ebony
horse. He lands in Tuscany and falls in love with the king’s daughter, Clarmondine. He
meets her in her moonlit bedroom, where they confess their love. With her consent, they
again take to horse and announce to Clarmondine’s parents their intention to marry and
govern Spain. But she is soon captured by the traitor Crompart, who schemes to marry
his captive. Meanwhile, Meniadus, the king of Salerno, falls in love with the captive and
likewise decides to marry her. To save herself, she pretends to go mad. Cleomadés,
disguised as a merchant, sets out in search of his beloved. His friend Pinçonnet suggests
consulting Meniadus because of his custom of gathering news from travelers. Cleomadés
convinces the king that he is a doctor so that he can cure the patient recently gone mad.
To accomplish his goal, he must tie the girl to the ebony horse. They soon fly away,
enjoying courteous conversation and the pleasure of being together. Back in Spain, the
only sad note is the death of Cleomadés’s father and Clarmondine’s mother. A sumptuous
wedding ends the romance. Cleomadés is generally rated as Adenet’s most successful
The advent of Adenet le Roi marks a pivotal moment in the evolution of the chanson
de geste. For epic savagery, he has substituted the prestige of courtly conversation. With
Adenet, one might venture to say that the epic, as it was known, was buried under the
triumph of written romance.
John L.Grigsby
Adenet le Roi. Les œuvres d’Adenet le Roi, ed. Albert Henry. I: Biographie d’Adenet; La tradition
manuscrite. Rijksuniversiteit te Gent. Bruges: De Tempel, 1951. II: Beauvon de Conmarchis.
Bruges: De Tempel, 1953. III: Les enfances Ogier. Bruges: De Tempel, 1956. IV: Berte aus
grans piés. Brussels: Presses Universitaires de Bruxelles, 1963. V: Cleomadés. Vol. 1, Texte;
Vol. 2, Introduction, notes, tables. Brussels: Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 1971.
Adnès, André. Adenès, dernier grand trouvère: recherches historiques et anthroponymiques. Paris:
Picard, 1971.
Colliot, Régine. Berte aus grans piés: étude littéraire générale. 2 vols. Paris: Picard, 1970.

The Encyclopedia 15
Free download pdf