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Early Indo-European Texts

Old French

Brigitte L.M. Bauer and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Old French with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old French Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old French language and its speakers' culture.

La Chanson de Roland (The Song of Roland): 1-9; 96-121

Carles li reis, nostre emperere magnes
set anz tuz pleins ad estet en Espaigne:
Tresqu'en la mer cunquist la tere altaigne.

N'i ad castel ki devant lui remaigne;
Mur ne citet n'i est remés a fraindre
Fors Saraguce, ki est en une muntaigne.

Li reis Marsilie la tient, ki Deu nen amet,
Mahumet sert e Apollin recleimet:
Nes poet guarder que mals ne l'i ateignet. AOI.


Li empereres se fait e balz e liez:
Cordres ad prise e les murs peceiez,
Od ses cadables les turs en abatied;

Mult grant eschech en unt si chevaler
D'or e d'argent e de guarnemenz chers.

En la citet nen ad remés paien
Ne seit ocis u devient chrestien.

Li empereres est en un grant verger,
Ensembl'od lui Rollant e Oliver,
Sansun li dux e Anseis li fiers,
Gefreid d'Anjou, le rei gunfanuner,
E si i furent e Gerin e Gerers;

La u cist furent, des altres i out bien:
De dulce France i ad quinze milliers.

Sur palies blancs siedent cil cevaler,
As tables juent pur els esbaneier
E as eschecs li plus saive e li veill,
E escremissent cil bacheler leger.

Desuz un pin, delez un eglentier,
Un faldestoed i unt, fait tut d'or mer:
La siet li reis ki dulce France tient.

Blanche ad la barbe e tut flurit le chef,
Gent ad le cors e le cuntenant fier:
S'est kil demandet, ne l'estoet enseigner.

E li message descendirent a pied,
Sil saluerent par amur e par bien.

Translation

Charles the king, our great emperor,
has been in Spain a full seven years:
he conquered the high land up to the sea.
There is no castle that resists him;
there is no wall or town left to conquer,
except Saragossa, which is located on top of a mountain.
King Marsilie holds it, he who does not love God,
serves Mahomet and invokes Satan;
he cannot prevent that disaster reaches him there.
The emperor is ebullient as well as joyful:
he has taken Cordres and smashed the walls to pieces,
with his catapults he destroyed its towers;
his knights are laden with its booty
gold and silver and precious objects.
In the town no pagan is left
who has not been killed or become Christian.
The emperor is in a large orchard,
together with him are Roland and Oliver,
Sansun the duke and Anseis the proud one,
Gefreid of Anjou, the standard bearer of the king,
and Gerin as well as Gerer were there also;
Where these men were, there were many others:
from our beloved France there are fifteen thousand men.
The knights are seated on white precious cloths
to amuse themselves the most clever men and
the old men play games and chess,
and the pages, athletic, are fencing.
Under a pine tree, next to a wild rose,
they have a throne, entirely made of pure gold:
there the king is seated, who holds our beloved France.
He has a white beard and the head entirely greyish-white,
he has a fair body and a strong appearance:
if someone were to ask for him, it is not necessary to point him out.
And the messengers came down
and greeted him out of love and out of respect.