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Italian Literature

Notes: Berta and Milon (Ms. Marc. XIII)

  1. Charlemagne's two half-brothers, Lanfroi and Landrix, who had killed Pippin and Berta ai piedi grandi, and driven Karleto to Spain. (Narrated in Karleto, 'The Childhood of Charlemagne' earlier in the manuscript.) They were the sons of Pippin and the false Berta, a Maganzese (the traitor clan) imposter.

  2. This is perhaps a reference to the legend of Charlemagne and Gilles/Gisle with whom Charlemagne supposedly committed incest and produced Roland in French tradition. See Keller, "Le péché de Charlemagne," and Morgan 1995; cf. verses 9085-86. Berta, in this text, is the sister of Lanfroi and Landrix, a child, as they are, of Pippin and the false Berta.

  3. He had come with Charles from Rome to assist in retaking Paris from the evil half- brothers.

  4. This line is the beginning of Mussafia's and Cremonesi's editions, as well as Ruggieri's translation into Modern Italian.

  5. Carrying the oriaflame is a sign of particular importance in a character and of notable valor. Later in the manuscript, Ogier the Dane gains his knighthood by defending the oriaflame.

  6. The daughter of a Spanish king (who had adopted and brought up Charles as he fled from his own kingdom). Charlemagne married her and they fled to Rome because of threats from her brothers to kill him.

  7. Cremonesi (1973: 28) suggests that this line is a Dantean reference (Inferno XXVI 136).

  8. Ruggieri translates (my translation from the Italian) "May God guide them, and the Virgin Mary, so that they reach salvation!" Verb tenses and forms may overlap in Franco-Italian, offering several quite different meanings; here it is not clear whether the tense is present indicative or subjunctive.

  9. That is, someone in Christian realms must know where they are and how they got there.

  10. Ruggieri interprets this slightly differently: "She was lying on the green grass, on the ground; she weeps and calls..." But there is no reason to connect the "lying" with the following phrase rather than the previous.

  11. This line is the reverse of 9115, above, which Cremonesi suggests as a Dantean reference.

  12. Note the implication of the undesirability of wandering pilgrims!

  13. Note that these weapons are not included in the initial description, line 9290.

  14. Again, this could read, "May God...lead them."Cf. note 8.

  15. There is a translation of portions of the following two sections, 271-273, into Italian by Zambon (1987) which I have examined together with the original here. The lines affected are ll. 9365-95, 11270-11271 and 11360-65.

  16. See above, line 9115 and 9277-78.

  17. The original is "plument,"clearly some kind of poor food, but the various editors do not agree on its exact meaning.

    Leslie Zarker Morgan (April 8, 1996)

    Copyright (C) 1996, Leslie Zarker Morgan. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents,including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

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