Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 851 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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VALENTINE AND ORSON, a romance which has been attached to the Carolingian cycle. It is the story of twin brothers, abandoned in the woods in infancy. Valentine is brought up as a knight at the court of Pippin, while Orson grows up in a bear's den to be a wild man of the woods, until he is over-come and tamed by Valentine, whose servant and comrade he becomes. The two eventually rescue their mother Bellisant, sister of Pippin and wife of the emperor of Greece, by whom she had been unjustly repudiated, from the power of a giant. There are versions of the tale, which appears to rest on a lost French original, in French, English, German, Icelandic, Dutch and Italian. In the older versions Orson is described as the " nameless " one. The kernel of the story lies in Orson's up-bringing and wildness, and is evidently a folk-tale the connexion of which with the Carolingian cycle is purely artificial. The story of the wife unjustly accused with which it is bound up is sufficiently common, and was told of the wives both of Pippin and Charlemagne. The French prose romance was printed at Lyons in 1489 and often subsequently. The Historye of the two Valyannte Brethren: Valentyne and Orson ... by Henry Watson, printed by William Copland about 155o, is the earliest known of a long series of English versions. A ballad on the subject was printed in Bishop Percy's Reliques of English Poetry, and the tale adapted for the nursery was illustrated by Walter Crane in the Three Bears' Picture Book (1876). For a detailed bibliography of the English, French, German, Dutch and Italian forms of the tale, see W. Seelman, " Valentin and Namelos " (Norden and Leipzig, 1884), in vol. iv. of Niederdeutsche Denkmdler, edited by the Verein fur niederdeutsche Sprachforschung.

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