Bibliographic Information


Medieval Title: 







  • 1190-1202
  • A prequel, La Destruction de Rome, exists and was likely written in the early thirteenth century
  • An earlier, now lost, version of the entwined narrative, which does not seem to have emphasized the relics, is believed to have predated the composition of Fierabras. See Marianne Ailes, “A Comparative Study of the Medieval French and Middle English Verse Texts of the Fierabras legend,” PhD Dissertation, University of Reading, 1989 for a full discussion of the composition issues.



Textual Information


Brief Summary:

Fierabras is a chanson de geste in which the forces of the French ruler Charlemagne fight the forces of an invading Saracen Sultan. It recounts how the Sultan’s son, named Fierabras, fights Oliver in single combat, loses, and decides to convert to Christianity. Oliver, Roland and other French Peers, however, are imprisoned by the Sultan’s forces and entrusted to the wardenship of the Sultan’s daughter, Floripas, who also guards Passion relics that Fierabras has pillaged from Rome (the Crown of Thorns, the Nails, and the Shroud; their capture is recounted in the Destruction de Rome prequel). Floripas brings the Christian devotional objects out for veneration by her prisoners at key points in the narrative. She wishes to marry one of the Peers and first displays the Passion relics when that betrothal has been agreed (2932-43). She then assists the Christians to expel her father and his forces from his own castle, and eventually the Peers and Floripas end up besieged in a tower. Two more relic ostensions occur during this period. Floripas initiates one to inspire the Peers to rescue her captured beloved (3654-70), and the other to encourage their valour during a final fierce attack on the tower. During this attack, Duke Nainmes shows the relics to the thousand Saracens climbing up to the window, who are then blinded by the relics and fall to the ground (5391-5444). Charlemagne then arrives, defeats the Sultan, witnesses Floripas’s baptism, and reclaims the relics. This reclamation is marked by more miracles as the relics variously levitate or emit delightful aromas. Charlemagne returns to France where he distributes the relics to various churches, with Saint-Denis usually getting the lion’s share of the devotional objects.


Passion Relics Appearing in Text:

Crown of Thorns



*Cross? (is mentioned l. 64-69 as a relic in Fierabras’s possession, but most scholars believe it is just referenced rather than present in the narrative action based on: 1) the placement of the Cross reference just before the line describing Fierabras’s capture of Jerusalem (implying the relic is in Jerusalem rather than on site in the narrative geography), and 2) the fact that the Cross does not figure among the relics named in the various relic ostensions while the others do)


Manuscripts, Editions, and Translations


Manuscripts (as listed in LePerson 2003 edition): 

Long Verse Version in langue d’oïl:

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fonds français 12603 (s. xiv)

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fonds français 1499 (s. xv)

Louvain, Catholic University Library, G. 171 (s. xiii. 2nd ½); destroyed in WWII

San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Escorial Library, MS  M-III-21 (s. xiii.ex)

Hanover, Niedersächsische Staatsbibliothek IV 578 (s. xiv. in)

London, British Library, MS Royal E VI (1444-46)

Rome, Vatican Library, Reg. Lat 1616 (1317)

8 fragments


Short Verse Version in langue d’oïl:

London, British Library, Egerton 3028 (s. xiv. m)


Long Verse Version in langue d’oc

Berlin, Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, Cod. Gall. Oct. 41 (c. 1270)


Prose Version in Manuscript

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fonds français, MS 4969 (s. xv)

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fonds français, 2172 (s. xv)


List of Editions of the Medieval Text: 

For a full list of editions of all the various versions, see LePerson 2003, pp. 191-96.

The most recent critical edition of the long verse version in langue d’oïl is LePerson 2003:

Fierabras: chanson de geste du XIIe siècle. Ed. Marc Le Person. Classiques français du Moyen Age 142. Paris. Honoré Champion, 2003.



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