Lion de Bourges and Herpin


The Chanson de Lion de Bourges is one of the last, if not the last extant French chanson de geste and, therefore, contains a wealth of intertextual references to its predecessors and has been heavily influenced by them. For a comprehensive analysis of thematic recurrences, we refer to the only existing modern edition of this text: William Kibler, Jean-Louis Picherit, Thelma Fenster, eds. Lion de Bourges. 2 vols. Geneva: Droz, 1980.

We know of two surviving manuscripts of Lion de Bourges which was most likely composed in its original version around 1350 (for the dating and composition of the text see Kibler, cxix-cxxi) in Picardy by a scribe from Lorraine (Kibler, xiii). It is possible, in fact, that a paternal relative of Elisabeth’s from Lorraine commissioned the creation of this text. The same is possible for the French fragment of Lohier et Malart. The model for Elisabeth’s last adaptation, Hugues Capet was also written in the Picardian dialect. The two extant manuscripts are:

  • BN ms. fr. 22555, anc. F. Sorbonne 450. Following the lead of William W. Kibler, et al., we used this manuscript as our base manuscript. The manuscript dates from the sixteenth century.
  • BN ms. fr. 351, anc. F. fr. 6971 (XVIth c.)

We will provide a succinct summary for each group of folios published here. The summaries are based on Kibler et al.’s excellent introduction (xx-liv).