Online Encyclopedia

HUON OF BORDEAUX

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 957 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HUON OF BORDEAUX, hero of romance. The French chanson de geste of Huon de Bordeaux dates from the first half of the 13th century, and marks the transition between the epic chanson founded on national history and the roman d'aventures. Huon, son of Seguin of Bordeaux, kills Charlot, the emperor's son, who had laid an ambush for him, without being aware of the rank of his assailant. He is condemned to be hanged by Charlemagne, but reprieved on condition that he visits the court of Gaudisse, the amir of Babylon, and brings back a handful of hair from the amir's beard and four of his back teeth, after having slain the greatest of his knights and three times kissed his daughter Esclarmonde. By the help of the fairy dwarf Oberon, Huon succeeds in this errand, in the course of which he meets with further adventures. The Chariot of the story has been identified by A. Longnon (Romania viii. 1-11) with Charles 1'Enfant, one of the sons of Charles the Bald and Irmintrude, who died in 866 in consequence of wounds inflicted by a certain Aubouin in precisely similar circumstances to those related in the romance. The epic father of Huon may safely be identified with Seguin, who was count of Bordeaux under Louis the Pious in 839, and diedfighting against the Normans six years later. A Turin manuscript of the romance contains a prologue in the shape of a separate romance of Auberon, and four sequels, the Chanson d'Esclarmonde, the Chanson de Clarisse et Florent, the Chanson d'Ide et d'Olive and the Chanson de Godin. The same MS. contains in the romance of Les Lorrains a summary in seventeen lines of another version of the story, according to which Huon's exile is due to his having slain a count in the emperor's palace. The poem exists in a later version in alexandrines, and, with its continuations, was put into prose in 1454 and printed by Michel le Noir in 1516, since when it has appeared in many forms, notably in a beautifully printed and illustrated adaptation (1898) in modern French by Gaston Paris. The romance had a great vogue in England through the translation (c. 1540) of John Bourchier, Lord Berners, as Huon of Burdeuxe. The tale was dramatized and produced in Paris by the Confrerie de la Passion in 1557, and in Philip Henslowe's diary there is a note of a performance of a play, Hewen of Burdoche, on the 28th of December 1593. For the literary fortune of the fairy part of the romance see OBERON. The Chanson de geste of Huon de Bordeaux was edited by MM F. Guessard and C. Grandmaison for the Anciens poetes de la France in 186o; Lord Berners's translation was edited for the E.E.T.S. by S. L. Lee in 1883-1885. See also L. Gautier, Les Epopees francaises (2nd ed. vol. iii. pp. 719-773) ; A. Graf, I complementi della Chanson de Huon de Bordeaux (Halle, 1878) ; "Esclarmonde, &c.," by Max Schweigel, in Ausg. u. Abhandl.... der roman. Phil. (Marburg, 1889) ; C. Voretzsch, Epische Studien (vol. i., Halle, 1900) ; Hist. lilt. de la France (vol. xxvi., 1893).
End of Article: HUON OF BORDEAUX
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