Aspremont (chanson de geste)

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Aspremont is a 12th-century Old French chanson de geste (before 1190[1]). The poem comprises 11, 376 verses (unusually long for a chanson de geste[2]), grouped into rhymed laisses. The verses are decasyllables mixed with alexandrines.

In this tale, the African Saracen king Agolant and his son Helmont invade Calabria and defy Charlemagne through their messenger Balant. Charlemagne's troops come to fight them, but Charlemagne's nephew Roland is not allowed to join the battle due to his young age. The armies reach Aspromonte, and Charlemagne's paladins Naimes and Girart de Fraite prove their worth. In the end, Charlemagne is saved by Roland who defeats Helmont and his uncle forgives him his disobedience. In gratitude, Charlemagne gives Roland Helmont's horse (Veillantif) and sword (Durandal). In the end, Agolant dies and Charlemagne returns in triumph, although future battles with a disloyal Girart de Fraite are predicted.

Versions of this chanson were extremely popular in England, Italy (see the adaptation by Andrea da Barberino) and even Scandinavia.


  1. ^ Hasenohr, 106.
  2. ^ Holmes, 83.


  • (French) Geneviève Hasenohr and Michel Zink, eds. Dictionnaire des lettres françaises: Le Moyen Age. Collection: La Pochothèque. Paris: Fayard, 1992. pp. 106-7. ISBN 2-253-05662-6
  • (English) Holmes, Jr, Urban Tigner [U.T.]. A History of Old French Literature from the Origins to 1300. New York: F.S. Crofts, 1938. p. 83.
  • (English) Newth, Michael A., translator and editor. The Song of Aspremont (La Chanson d'Aspremont). New York: Garland, 1989.