812), also known as Guillaume Fierabrace, St Guillaume de Gellone, and the Marquis au court nez, was the central figure of the southern cycle of French romance, called by the trouveres the geste of Garin de Monglane.
The cycle of twenty or more chansons which form the geste of Guillaume reposes on the traditions of the Arab invasions of the south of France, from the battle of Poitiers (732) under Charles Martel onwards, and on the French conquest of Catalonia from the Saracens.
The central fact of the geste of Guillaume is the battle of the Archamp or Aliscans, in which perished Guillaume's heroic nephew, Vezian or Vivien, a second Roland.
This event is related in a Norman-French transcript of an old French chanson de geste, the Chancun de Willame - which only was brought to light in 1901 at the sale of the books of Sir Henry Hope Edwardes - in the Covenant Vivien, a recension of an older French chanson and in Aliscans.
The chansons de geste of the cycle of Guillaume are: Enfances Garin de Monglane (15th century) and Garin de Monglane (13th century), on which is founded the prose romance of Guerin de Monglane, printed in the 15th century by Jehan Trepperel and often later; Girars de Viane (13th century, by Bertrand de Barsur-Aube), ed.
Unger, Christiania, 1860) deals with the geste of Guillaume.
The conclusions arrived at by earlier writers are combated by Joseph Bedier in the first volume, "Le Cycle de Guillaume d'Orange" (1908), of his Legendes epiques, in which he constructs a theory that the cycle of Guillaume d'Orange grew up round the various shrines on the pilgrim route to Saint Gilles of Provence and Saint James of Compostella - that the chansons de geste were, in fact, the product of 11th and 12th century trouveres, exploiting local ecclesiastical traditions, and were not developed from earlier poems dating back perhaps to the lifetime of Guillaume of Toulouse, the saint of Gellone.
In the earlier chansons de geste he is invariably a majestic figure and represents within limitations the grandeur of the historic Charles.
The account in the Chanson de Roland of the trial of Ganelon after the battle of Roncesvalles must have been adopted almost intact from earlier poets, and provides a striking example of the value of the chansons de geste to the historian of manners and customs.
Flach, Le Compagnonnage dans les chansons de geste (Paris, 1891).
Gradually most of the chansons de geste were attached to the name of Charlemagne, whose poetical history falls into three cycles: - the geste du roi, relating his wars and the personal history of himself and his family; the southern cycle, of which Guillaume de Toulouse is the central figure; and the feudal epic, dealing with the revolts of the barons against the emperor, the rebels being invariably connected by the trouveres with the family of Doon de Mayence.
New ed., 1878, 1892, 1880, 1882) and the supplementary Bibliographie des chansons de geste (1897).
The third volume of the Epopees francaises contains an analysis and full particulars of the chansons de geste immediately connected with the history of Charlemagne.
Fauriel was biased in this work by his preconceived and somewhat fanciful theory that Provence was the cradle of the chansons de geste and even of the Round Table romances; but he gave a great stimulus to the scientific study of Old French and Provencal.
Bernardo is the hero of a cantar de gesta (chanson de geste) written to please the anarchical spirit of the nobles.
Although the diffusion of epic poetry in England did not actually inspire any new chansons de geste, it developed the taste for this class of literature, and the epic style in which the tales of Horn, of Bovon de Hampton, of Guy of Warwick (still unpublished), of Waldef (still unpublished), and of Fulk Fitz Warine are treated, is certainly partly due to this circumstance.
His Brut or Geste des Bretons (Le Roux de Lincy, 1836-1838, 2 vols.), written in 1155, is merely a translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth.
The proofs of this which Schultz and Gautier adduce from the Chansons de Geste might be multiplied indefinitely.
It has long been conceded that the great French national epics of the 11th and 12th centuries must have been founded on a great fund of popular poetry, and that many of the episodes of the chansons de geste refer to historical events anterior to the Carolingian period.
See also other interesting cases cited in the chapter on the "Geste of John de Courci" in Mr J.
- Godfrey was the principal hero of two French chansons de geste dealing with the Crusade, the Chansond'Antioche (ed.
The most instructive, perhaps the only instructive, parallel is to be found in the French " chansons de geste," of which the Chanson de Roland is the earliest and best example.
It has been held that the chansons de geste were formed by joining together " bunches " of these earlier cantilenes, and this was the view taken by Leon Gautier in the first edition of Les Epopees frangaises (1865).
Mais on peut expliquer la formation des chansons de geste par une autre hypothese " (Meyer, Recherches sur l'epopee francaise, p. 65).