La Chanson d’Aspremont

Bibliographic Information


Medieval Title: 

La Chanson d’Aspremont






Twelfth century



Textual Information

Brief Summary:

La Chanson d’Aspremont, also known as Chanson d’Agolant, is a song of gesture from the twelfth century. The narrative is about an alleged war of Charlemagne in lower Italy against Agolant, the Muslim king of Africa. The battle is fought near an imaginary mountain called Aspremont, which gives its name to the poem. The poem consists of 11, 376 verses, and it is one of the most popular poems of the Middle Ages. Its success is proved by the large number of manuscripts that have been discovered. Thirteen of them were cited by Léon Gautier: three in France and many other fragments elsewhere.

In the poem, a pagan messenger arrives to Charlemagne to inform him that his master, King Agolant, accompanied by his son Helmont (Aumon), has invaded Calabria, intending to submit all Christendom to his empire. Charlemagne organizes an army to fight them, but his nephew Roland is not allowed to join the battle due to his young age, so he is locked up but later escapes his prison to join the battle. Both parties reach the mountain of Aspremont which separates the army of Charlemagne from that of Agolant.

After many fights, of which the main heroes are the duke Naimes of Bavaria, the duke Girard de Fraite, and his two nephews Clair and Beuve, Charlemagne comes to a single combat with Helmont. He would perhaps have succumbed if the young Roland had not shown up to kill Helmont with the blade. Charlemagne, then, gratefully forgives Roland for saving him and gives him Helmont’s horse and sword. Agolant himself dies at the end of the battle and his widow, converted to Christianity, marries Florent, son of the King of Hungary. Charlemagne returns triumphantly to France, and the author gives us a glimpse of a future long war that he does not narrate, between the emperor and his rebellious vassal, Girard de Fraite.


Relics Appearing in Text:



Manuscripts, Editions, and Translations




List of Editions of the Medieval Text: 

Suard, François, ed. Aspremont: Chanson de Geste du XIIe Siècle. Paris: Champion, 2008. 

Boni, Marco, ed. La Chanson D’Aspremont. Bologna: Pàtron, 1977. 

Brandin, Louis, ed. La Chanson D’Aspremont: Chanson de Geste du XIIe Siècle; Texte du Manuscrit de Wollaton Hall. 2. 12th ed. Vol. 2. Paris: Champion, 1924. 

Available online:

De Mandach, André, ed. Chanson D’Aspremont. Manuscrit Venise VI et Textes Anglo-Normands Inédits: British Musum Additional 35289 Et Cheltenham 26119: Les Cours D’Agoland et de Charlemagne. Genève: Droz, 1975. 

Guessard, François, and Léon Gautier, eds. La Chanson D’Aspremont. Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1855. 

Hirschler, Imre, ed. Chanson D’Aspremont: Tanulmanyok. Pecs: Dunantul Egyetemi, 1927.


List of Translations of the Medieval Text: 

Newth, Michael A, trans. The Song of Aspremont = La Chanson D’Aspremont. New York: Garland Pub, 1989. 



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