The Old-French Chanson d'Antioche has long intrigued historians and literary scholars. Unusually among epic poems, it follows closely a well documented historical event - the First Crusade - and appears to include substantial and genuine historical content. At one time it was believed to be based on an account by an eye-witness, 'Richard the Pilgrim'. Carol Sweetenham and Susan Edgington have combined forces to investigate such claims, and their findings are set out in a comprehensive introduction which, firstly, examines the textual history of the poem from its possible oral beginnings through several re-workings to its present form, achieved early in the thirteenth century. A second chapter assesses the Chanson's value as a source for the crusade, and a third considers its status as a literary text. A complete prose translation follows, the first in English and based on the definitive edition. The Chanson is revealed as a lively narrative, with tales of chivalry, villainy, and even episodes of humour. There are extensive footnotes to the translation, and an appendix provides supplementary material from a different manuscript tradition. There is also a cast list of heroes and villains with biographical information for the 'real' ones and literary analogues for the fictional characters. The Chanson d'Antioche can now be read for enjoyment, and for a whole new perspective on crusading in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
'Before discussing the actual translation itself, it is worth noting that the authors include in this volume a comprehensive 97-page critical introduction to the text that not only sets it in the context of the Crusade Cycle as a whole, but locates it within the wider milieu of the chansons de geste. In fact, this introduction represents the most extended critical appraisal of the Crusade Cycle yet carried out in English, and as such, is an important contribution to scholarship in itself… Of course, the chief purpose of this volume is to provide a translation of the Chanson d'Antioche, and in this regard it can be considered as a resounding success. The translation itself is lucid and engaging, rendering a number of difficult Old French passages into readable English. Comprehensive critical notes accompany both the introduction and translation… In conclusion then, this volume is a landmark piece of scholarship not only in the field of the crusades but more widely in medieval history.' Reviews in History 'This is a very good addition to Ashgate’s excellent Crusdade Texts in Translation and one on which the publishers and authors are to be congratulated.' The Medieval Review 'The careful new translation of the Antioche by Susan Edgington (London) and Carol Sweetenham (Warwick) makes it available to the English reader for the first time, their clear and readable prose rendering the access particularly easy, and for this they are highly to be commended. The 98-page introduction offers an excellent discussion of the questions which scholars have been concerned with for generations, and here too we must acknowledge the first satisfactory overview of the field in the English language… Edgington and Sweetenham have provided us with the basis for future work on this text in the English-speaking world. At the same time they have set the agenda for a closer methodological collaboration between the disciplines of historical and literary studies. It is certain that thi
Contents: Preface; Part I Introduction: The textual history of the Chanson d'Antioche; The Chanson d'Antioche as a historical source; The Chanson d'Antioche as literary text; Principles of translation; Summary. Part II Translation. Part III Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
The crusading movement, which originated in the 11th century and lasted beyond the 16th, bequeathed to its future historians a legacy of sources which are unrivalled in their range and variety. These sources document in fascinating detail the motivations and viewpoints, military efforts and spiritual lives, of the participants in the crusades. They also narrate the internal histories of the states and societies which crusaders established or supported in the many regions where they fought. Some of these sources have been translated in the past but the vast majority have been available only in their original language. The goal of this series is to provide a wide ranging corpus of texts, most of them translated for the first time, which will illuminate the history of the crusades and the crusader-states from every angle, including that of their principal adversaries, the Muslim powers of the Middle East.