The right plesaunt and goodly historie of the foure sonnes of Aymon. Englisht from the French by William Caxton, and printed by him about 1489. Ed. from the unique copy, now in the possession of Earl Spencer, with an introduction by Octavia Richardson.
Caxton, William, ca. 1422-1491., Richardson, Octavia.
Page  xvii

SKETCH OF THE STORY.

THE story opens with an account of the Court of Charlemagne at Paris, where nearly all the powerful Barons of the land are assembled, and among them the Duke Aymon of Dordon, with his four sons, Renaud, Alard, Guichard, and Richard. Duke Beuves of Aigremont, brother to Aymon, is absent from the court, and the Emperor is so enraged by this insult, that he vows to besiege Aigremont, unless Beuves promises to serve him next summer with a powerful army. Duke Naymes advises Charlemagne to send a messenger to Aigremont, and after some discussion, Lohier, the eldest son of the Emperor, is sent there with a hundred knights.*. [In the original chanson Enguerrand, the nephew of the Emperor, is first sent to Aigremont, he is slain, and Lohier then undertakes the message and shares the same fate. A knight called Enquerrard of Peronne is killed at Troyes by Beuves in this prose version.] He delivers his message insolently to Duke Beuves, who answers him with equal warmth, and a fight ensues, in which Lohier is slain by Duke Beuves; his body is conveyed to Charlemagne by the few survivors of his company and buried at Saint-Germain. The Emperor vows to revenge the death of his son by besieging Aigremont.

Meanwhile the Sons of Aymon have been created knights by Charlemagne, and Renaud has been presented with the wonderful horse Bayard.

When Aymon hears of the death of Lohier, he departs with his sons in haste to Dordon for fear of the Emperor's wrath.*. [In the chanson Aymon is banished by Charlemagne before the death of Lohier, and is received again into favour when the preparations for the attack on Aigremont are being carried out; his sons are then created knights.] Great preparations are made at Paris for the campaign against Duke Beuves; while the army are on their way to Aigremont, a messenger informs them that Beuves is at Troyes, and is besieging that city with the assistance of his brothers, Doon of Nantueil and Gerard ofPage  xviii Roussillon;*. [This includes Aymon in the chanson, but no mention is made of his being present at the siege of Troyes in the prose version; he is supposed to be still at Dordon until after the death of Beuves.] the inhabitants therefore implore the help of Charlemagne.

The fact of Beuves having summoned his brother Gerard of Roussillon to Aigremont, in order to march upon Troyes, has enlightened us as to the situation of Aigremont. M. Paris says:

"Le château Roussillon devait être plus éloigné de Troyes que l'autre, puisque c'est le duc Girart qui va trouver son frère pour marcher d'Aigremont sur Troyes..... La situation d'un village voisin de Chablis en Bourgoyne, encore aujourd'hui nommé Aigremont, semble répondre aux indices que nous offre le texte des deux (romances) de Girart et des quatre fils Aimon."

The French army arrives at Troyes, where a battle takes place, and lasts until sundown; the armies then cease fighting, neither side having gained the victory. Next day Beuves and his chief Barons appear barefoot before the Emperor, and crave his pardon; which having been granted to them, peace is proclaimed.

Beuves promises to serve the Emperor at Paris on the feast of St. John next summer. On the way thither he is treacherously slain by Earl Guenes, who has obtained Charlemagne's permission to murder him.

At the next assembly of the Barons at Paris, Aymon and his four sons appear again.

Renaud plays chess with Bertholais, the nephew of Charlemagne, in the palace; they quarrel over the game, and Renaud, seizing the chess-board, deals Bertholais a blow with it which causes his death.*. [This incident is differently related in the chanson. Renaud and Bertholais quarrel during their game of chess, and Bertholais strikes Renaud, who complains of this insult to the Emperor. Charlemagne takes his nephew's part, which causes Renaud to reply wrathfully to the Emperor, accusing him of the murder of his uncle, Duke Beuves. Charlemagne then deals Renaud a blow; the latter retires, meets Bertholais, and slays him with the chess-board. This scene seems to be an imitation of the death of Baldwin (a son of Ogier), who is killed by Charlot (Charlemagne's son) with a chess-board, in the chanson of "Ogier le Danois."] A great tumult thereupon arises in the palace, and the sons escape with much difficulty to Dordon, where they are received by their mother. They are soon obliged to quit Dordon for fear of thePage  xix Emperor's wrath and take refuge in the forest of Ardennes, where they build a castle, called Mountaynford (Montessor), and conceal themselves for several years. M. Paris says:

"Il existe encore au-dessus de Sedan et de Mezières un village nommé Château-Renaud situé sur le penchant d'une haute montagne enfermée par les eaux de la Meuse vers le midi l'est et l'ouest. On distingue aujourd'hui difficlement sur la roche quelques ruines d'une forteresse, mais ces ruines avaient, il y a deux ans, plus de caractère, quand Malherbe notre grand poëte écrivait au savant antiquaire Peiresc. 'La principauté de Madame la princesse de Conti s'appelle Chasteau-Renaud, à deux lieues de Sedan et autant ruiné, ou l'on voit encore la tour de Maugis et l'estable de Bayard.'"

Charlemagne, as soon as he hears of the Sons' retreat, collects an army and besieges the castle;*. [No mention is made here of the Espans pass, supposed to be inhabited by fairies. In the chanson Charlemagne warns his men against the dangers they may encounter in this ravine.] the old Duke Aymon fights against his children, as he has sworn to defend the Emperor's cause. Terms of peace are offered to Renaud if he will deliver up his brother Guichard, which he indignantly refuses to accept. The three gates of the castle are then surrounded by the Frenchmen, but this does not prevent the Sons from hunting daily in the forest. After the siege has lasted 14 months, Hernyer of Seveyne*. [Hernyer of Lausanne; he is promised the town of Laon as well as the castle. The Espans pass is again alluded to when the Sons are chased from Montfort in the chanson.] promises to take Renaud and his brother's prisoners, if Charlemage will give him the castle as a reward. He then approaches the castle and begs Renaud to grant him shelter as an enemy of the Emperor's; Renaud believes his story, and allows him to sleep in the castle; when all have retired to rest, Hernyer lets down the drawbridge and signals to his men to enter. Fortunately for the Sons, Alard's horse wakes Renaud, who rouses his brothers, and they fight their enemies valiantly; Charlemagne sets a portion of the castle on fire; in the tumult Hernyer and his followers are slain by Renaud, who afterwards escapes on Bayard with his brothers into the Forest of Ardennes. They are pursued for some distance, but their enemies cannot overtake them. Duke Naymes advises Charlemagne to give up the campaign and disband his army. This being done the Emperor returns to Paris.

Page  xxAymon on his way to Dordon, meets his Sons encamping in the Forest, when Renaud begs him to grant them peace, but Aymon only reproaches him for his conduct; they fight, and lose heavily on both sides, and the Sons with but 14 of their men are only saved by crossing a small river.

Aymon departs for Paris, taking with him the body of Esmenroi, a favourite knight of Charlemagne's, who has been slain by Renaud. He gives the Emperor a full account of the battle, but he is not believed to have fought against his sons, and is received coldly by Charlemagne; he therefore leaves Paris and arrives at Dordon, where the Duchess blames him severely for his conduct towards his children.

Renaud and his brothers wander in the forest until they are nearly famished, and all their horses die, except Bayard, who thrives on roots; at last they determine to go to Dordon and entreat their mother to receive them. They are not recognised in the streets of the city as they pass through, and even their mother does not know who they are at first; but she discovers Renaud by a scar on his face, and welcomes them joyfully. They sit down to supper,*. [In the chanson the four brothers enter the palace and sit down to supper before their mother recognises them.] and while they are relating their adventures, Aymon enters the castle. He is furious with his Sons at first, but soon afterwards repents of his conduct towards them, and allows the Duchess to give them food and money; nevertheless, he will not break his promise to Charlemagne, so he retires into the forest while his Sons inhabit the palace.

Next day they depart from Dordon, and on their way meet Maugis returning from the Court of Charlemagne, where he has managed to steal a quantity of gold, which he divides with Renaud and joins their company.

They journey towards Bordeaux, and from the description of the journey it is possible to determine the situation of Dordon, which is, as M. Paris says:

"La ville actuelle de Dourdon effectivement située dans cette partie de la Brie Française nommée le Hurepois, et d'où l'on doit passer dans le Gâtinais puis dans l'Orléanais, pour se rendre en Aquitaine."

Page  xxiOn arriving at Bordeaux they offer their services to King John of Gascony, who is at war with the Saracen King Bege (Borgons); John willingly accepts their aid, and Renaud conducts the war so successfully, that Bege is taken prisoner and peace proclaimed. Renaud is then allowed to build the Castle of Montauban, and is soon afterwards married to King John's sister Clare; the wedding being solemnised with great ceremony at Montauban.

The Emperor on his way to Gallicia passes Bordeaux, he looks over the river Garonne, and marvels at the beauty and strength of the castle newly built there. On discovering that it belongs to Renaud, he sends Ogier to demand the four sons from John; when this request is refused, Charlemagne wishes to besiege the castle, but his Barons demur, as they are tired of war. At this juncture Roland*. [When Roland arrives at the Emperor's palace, he tells Charlemagne, "I am called Rowland of bretagne, and I am the sone of your suster and of the duke Myllon." These words accord with the history which makes Roland governor "des marches de Bretagne."] arrives, and undertakes a campaign against the Saracens*. [Saxons in the chanson.] on his uncle Charlemagne's behalf. He besieges Cologne, takes the Saracen chief prisoner, and returns to the Emperor.

All Roland now requires is a good horse; for this reason Charlemagne proclaims a horse-race at Paris, and the best steed is to be bought for Roland. Renaud determines to race Bayard, so he and Maugis set out for their journey to Paris. Maugis, in order that they may not be recognised, changes Bayard from a black into a white horse, and makes Renaud look like a boy of fifteen.

Four miles outside Paris they meet Ogier and Naymes, whom the Emperor has sent to guard the way; the Barons, however, do not recognise them, and allow them to proceed.*. [This incident is omitted in the chanson.] They arrive at Paris, and lodge in a shoemaker's house; but from some hints dropped by Renaud, the man discovers their secret, and vows to inform the Emperor, whereupon he is instantly slain by Renaud, who escapes with Maugis from the house. Bayard has his feet tied by Maugis, in order that he may appear to be lame until after the other horses have started, when he is unbound, and wins the racePage  xxii easily. Renaud seizes Charlemagne's crown, which is exhibited as a prize, and telling the Emperor that he may look elsewhere for a horse for Roland, rides hastily from the city, and swimming over the river Seine, joins Maugis. They arrive at Melun, where they meet the other three Sons, and ride through Orleans to Montauban.*. [In the chanson Renaud joins Maugis at Champeaux, they reach Monthery, and then journey through Poitiers and Orleans to Montauban.]

The Emperor, determined to be revenged upon Renaud,*. [It is on the Emperor's return from an expedition against the Saxons, where he has killed the chief Guitechim, that he collects an army to besiege Montauban in the chanson. This incident is omitted in the prose version.] assembles a mighty army at Paris, during Eastertide, and marches towards the Castle of Montauban,*. [In the chanson Charlemagne marches first to Montbendel, which he surrounds with his immense army: he admires the strength of the castle, which, he says, is finer than Roche Guyon, Paris, or Orleans; "that is nothing," says Ogier, "Montauban is a hundred times stronger." Charlemagne subdues the Castle of Montbendel, he hopes to conquer all Gascony in the same manner without bloodshed. The siege is then directed towards Montauban.] where they encamp. Roland and Oliver pitch their tent at Balencon, near the river, and go hawking one day, thinking they may leave the camp in safety, but Renaud discovers their absence, goes forth against Charlemagne's army, which he surprises, and finally, having captured the golden dragon from Roland's tent, returns to his castle with much plunder.*. [This incident is not mentioned in the chanson.]

The Emperor, in despair of ever taking the castle, despatches a messenger*. [The name of Girard the Spaniard, who advises Charlemagne to demand the surrender of the Sons, and of Gainemark, who undertakes the message, are mentioned in the chanson. When the messenger arrives, King John attempts to strike him, threatening to have him hung; his barons interfere. John then consents to consider Charlemagne's proposals, and keeps the messenger three days for his answer. This incident is very differently related in the prose version, where John receives the herald courteously, and tells him, "ye must tari here a seven night" for his answer.] to ask King John to deliver up to him the four Sons; after a long discussion with his Barons*. [Among the Barons who argue with John for the deliverance of the Sons to Charlemagne is the Lord of Montbendel, who in speech mentions the surrender of his castle, referring to that portion of the siege by Charlemagne which is omitted in the prose version.] John consents to betray them, which he does by sending them unarmed to the plain of Vaucouleurs, where the Barons of Charlemagne await to take them prisoners. The Sons discover the treachery of King John when theyPage  xxiii arrive at Vaucouleurs, but they nevertheless fight bravely against an enormous host of adversaries, and finally gain a respite through the kindness of Ogier. Meanwhile Maugis, who is at Montauban, hears from King John's secretary of the plot against his cousins, and sets off for Vaucouleurs, where he arrives in time to rescue them. King John on receiving the news of their rescue, flies to an abbey in the wood of the Serpent, where he seeks refuge for a time, but is discovered by Roland, who takes him prisoner. John, in terror of his life, contrives to send a messenger to Renaud, who is now at Montauban, beseeching him to come to his assistance. Renaud and his brothers ride forth to meet Roland, and a battle ensues, in which Renaud is victorious, and rescues King John, but Richard remains a prisoner in the hands of Roland. Maugis, in order to save Richard from the cruelty of Charlemagne, departs for the Emperor's tent disguised as a poor pilgrim, and arrives before Roland has returned with Richard. Maugis completely deceives the Emperor, who orders food to be given to him as a holy man.*. [When Maugis appears before the Emperor, and craves for food, he asks Charlemagne to put it in his mouth, as a dream has led him to believe that thereby he will be saved from all his sufferings. Charlemagne consents to this; no mention is made of the palmer's staff in the chanson.] Roland then enters the tent, and presents Richard to Charlemagne, who declares that he shall be hung without delay. Richard recognises Maugis, and is therefore certain of escape from the hands of the Emperor. Maugis then leaves the tent, and retires hastily to Montauban; he orders Renaud and his two brothers to arm themselves and with an army to proceed to the tent of Charlemagne.

Renaud willingly consents, and proceeds to Monfaucon with his folk, where they encamp in a wood near the gallows which are being prepared for Richard, but unfortunately they fall asleep from extreme weariness. Meanwhile Charlemagne commands the execution of Richard, and orders several of his Barons to perform the deed, but they all refuse on various pretexts, until Ripus of Riplemond undertakes the duty. Richard is led before the gallows, and believing that there is no chance of escape for him, begs for time in which to pray, and confesses to a priest. Just as he has finished his confession, and is prepared for death, his brothers (who have beenPage  xxiv awakened by the sagacious Bayard) appear, and a fight ensues, in which Ripus is killed by Renaud, who gives his armour to Richard; the latter, with four hundred men, presents himself before Ogier, who is rejoiced over the victory of the Sons. Richard afterwards meets Charlemagne, they fight, Renaud and his men join in the battle, and after a prolonged skirmish, the Sons enter the Emperor's pavilion with three thousand men, and bear away the golden eagle, which Renaud conveys to Montauban. Maugis is left alone with the Emperor's army, and fights bravely for his liberty, but is over-powered by Oliver, who presents him to Charlemagne, just as the latter is complaining of his subjects' infidelity to him in allowing the Sons of Aymon to escape. The Emperor vows to slay Maugis without delay. The Sons meanwhile have returned to Montauban, where they discover the absence of their cousin. Renaud, in great anxiety for his fate, mounts Bayard, and goes to the river Balencon; he meets there two pages from the Emperor's camp, who tell him that Maugis is in Charlemagne's hands. Renaud vows to rescue him next day.

The Emperor commands his Barons to prepare a gallows on which to hang Maugis; but Naymes begs him to delay the execution until the following day, and Charlemagne consents to this, on condition that Maugis will promise not to escape. The twelve peers give their pledges for his safety, and prepare to watch over him all night; but Maugis, who has been put in irons, nevertheless contrives to charm all his guardians to sleep, and then departs, taking with him the Emperor's sword, and those of Roland and Oliver, with much treasure to Montauban. On the way thither he meets Renaud at the river-side of Balencon, and the cousins journey together to the castle, where much feasting and rejoicing takes place. Richard shows Maugis the golden eagle which they have captured, and it is set up on the high tower of the castle. Naymes and Ogier are sent to Montauban by Charlemagne to demand the surrender of his sword, in return for which a truce shall be granted them for two years. Renaud consents to these conditions, and, moreover, goes back with the Barons to the Emperor's camp. He is conducted before Charlemagne, who vows he shall be slain, but a compromise is effected, inPage  xxv which Renaud and Roland are doomed to fight a duel on the morrow. At Monfaucon the battle begins, but the final contest between the heroes is prevented by the appearance of a miraculous cloud, and Roland goes with Renaud to Montauban as his prisoner.

Charlemagne besieges the castle, but in the night Maugis, through the medium of a charm, carries the Emperor asleep to Montauban; he then leaves the castle, and goes over the river Dordogne into a hermitage, where he lives poorly, doing penance for his sins. The Sons discover the presence of the Emperor in Montauban still asleep, they search for Maugis, but are bitterly afflicted when they hear he has left them. Charlemagne will not consent to peace unless Maugis is given up to him, but Renaud allows him to return to his tent unharmed with the Barons. Charlemagne, vowing he will starve the Sons into submission, has the castle surrounded by his men, and although Renaud several times repulses the enemy, he can gain no advantage over them. Great famine prevails in Montauban, and all the horses, except Bayard, are slain for food. Renaud, as a last resource, goes to the tent of Duke Aymon and implores him to give his starving children food. Aymon finally consents, and sends provisions into the castle by means of the engines used in the assaults on Montauban, which he fills with food instead of stones. The Emperor discovers that Aymon has been befriending his children, and dismisses him from his army for this offence.

The Sons are again reduced to starvation, but are finally saved by an old man in the castle, who shows Renaud a secret passage from Montauban into the wood of the Serpent. All the people abandon the castle and go to the monastery, where Renaud's friend Bernard dwells; and after obtaining food and wine from him they depart for Arden (or Dordon, in the French prose version), where they are joyfully received by the people of the town.*. [In the chanson the Sons are said to go to Tremogne, not Arden or Dordon. This Tremogne is the ancient name for Dortmund in Westphalia, which position would account for the fact that Charlemagne passes Liege to go to Paris; from Dordon this would be impossible.]

Charlemagne quickly discovers the flight of the Sons from Montauban and the secret passage; he immediately orders his army to besiege Arden (Dordon). As they hasten towards the castle, RenaudPage  xxvi perceives their approach, and at once orders a number of his knights to arm and accompany him in his attack upon the Emperor. Renaud and his army are obliged, however, to retreat after a fierce skirmish with the enemy; and having captured Duke Richard of Normandy, they take him prisoner into the castle. The Peers all implore Charlemagne to make peace with the Sons for fear they should slay Duke Richard; but the Emperor is still persistent in his refusal. King John at this time dies in the castle. Maugis within his hermitage has a dream of the distress of his kinsmen, and he sets forth towards Arden. On the way he encounters two merchants, who have been robbed by thieves in the wood; Maugis slays the robbers and gives back the plunder to the merchants, and he hears from them of the condition of the Sons, and hastens towards their castle, which he enters in the guise of a pilgrim, and is served with food as a stranger. Renaud towards night recognises him, and great joy is made over his arrival. Next day he departs for the Holy Land. R naud causes a gallows to be erected on the walls of his castle, in order to hang Duke Richard; seeing this Charlemagne is persuaded by his Barons to send Duke Naymes to the castle with terms of peace; the conditions being that Renaud should give up Bayard to the Emperor and depart to the Holy Land in poor array, begging his bread as a pilgrim, while his brothers keep all his lands during his absence. Renaud accepts these conditions, and after clothing himself poorly and commending his wife and children to the protection of Duke Richard, departs from his castle. Charlemagne takes possession of Bayard, and on his way to Paris stays at Liege, where he orders the horse to be thrown into the river Meuse, with a millstone round his neck. This command is carried out, but Bayard contrives to break the stone, and swimming to land, gallops away unharmed into the forest of Ardennes.

Renaud arrives at Constantinople and lodges with a holy woman, who tells him there is another pilgrim in the house lying sick; Renaud goes to see the pilgrim, and finds his cousin Maugis. They meet joyfully, and after feasting together set forth for Jerusalem. They find a largo army surrounding the Holy City; on inquiring the cause of this, they are told that the Admiral of Persia has taken thePage  xxvii city by treason, and it is being besieged by the Christians. Renaud and Maugis pass through the Christian encampment, and set up a small tent for themselves. Next morning the enemy advances towards their tent, which in the confusion of battle is overthrown. Renaud*. [In the chanson Renaud mounts a mule and pnrsues the enemy, while Maugis showers stones upon the Saracens.] mounts a wall near by, and with a large fork or tent pole defends the way, and assisted by Maugis, slays numbers of the enemy. Earl Rames*. [Geffroi, orig.] approaches the two pilgrims, and on learning their history welcomes them with delight; he provides them with rich clothing and armour, giving the command of his army to Renaud. King Thomas,*. [No mention is made of King Thomas in the chanson; Geffroi of Nazareth is in command of the Christian army, and is subsequently made King of Jerusalem at the conclusion of the war. When Renaud enters Jerusalem he goes straight to the Holy Sepulchre, where he and Maugis offer their devotions.] who is a prisoner within Jerusalem, wonders why so much feasting and rejoicing is taking place amidst his army. Next day the Admiral renews his attack on the Christians, the Saracen King Margary is slain by Renaud, and after a fierce battle the Saracens are discomfited, and fly towards the city pursued by Earl Rames. Renaud contrives by placing a large beam under the portcullis to keep open the gate into Jerusalem, and the Christian army enters and takes possession of the city. The Admiral vows to slay King Thomas unless Renaud will grant him terms of peace, and allow of his safe conduct back to Persia; to these conditions Renaud consents, and peace is concluded amidst general rejoicings. King Thomas prepares a ship, which he fits out for Renaud and Maugis, in order that they may return to France. After eight months at sea they arrive at Palermo.*. [In the chanson this incident of Renaud's encounter with the Persian Admiral is entirely omitted. They take ship at Acre and go straight to Brindisi, whence Renaud journeys to France, and arrives at Tremogne (Dortmund) in Westphalia. Maugis retires to his hermitage.] King Simon of that town receives them gladly, and tells them how his lands are daily wasted by the Persian Admiral. Renaud and Maugis vow to assist him against his enemy. They encounter the Admiral and rout his forces, compelling him to retire utterly discomfited. Soon after this Renaud and Maugis take leave of King Simon and journey by sea to Rome,Page  xxviii where they confess to the Pope, and having received his benediction depart for France. They are joyfully received at Arden by the three brothers, and from them Renaud hears of the death of his wife Clarisse. He takes his two children and Maugis to Montalban, where the people of that town welcome them gladly. Maugis then takes leave of Renaud and departs for his hermitage, where thirteen years afterwards he dies. Renaud prepares his two sons for their journey to Paris to be presented to Charlemagne, and sends them to the Court with an escort of five hundred knights.*. [In the chanson Renaud accompanies his sons to Paris.] They arrive there, and are graciously received by Charlemagne, who confers on them the honour of knighthood, and raises them to the post of carvers at his table. This rouses the jealousy of Constant and Rohart, the two sons of Foulques, whose father was slain at Vaucouleurs by Renaud, and they determine to insult Aymonet and Yon, in order to raise a quarrel. One day Charlemagne presents Yon with a valuable knife; after receiving this gift Yon chances to push Constant with his elbow as he passes him; and Constant, seizing this opportunity to quarrel, calls him the son of a traitor, and challenges him to fight.*. [This incident is differently related in the chanson. Charlemagne calls Aymonet and Yon to bring him wine; during the meal Constant and Rohart throw down Yon and break the Emperor's cup; in the uproar the sons of Foulques challenge the sons of Renaud.] The Emperor endeavours to prevent the combat, and orders Constant to ask pardon of Yon; but the sons of Renaud both implore him to grant them the satisfaction of a duel. Charlemagne consents, and orders the fight to take place on the Isle of our Lady, within Paris. He also sends word to Renaud to appear at Court, in order to witness the battle between his sons and the sons of Foulques. Renaud arrives at Paris on the appointed day with his three brothers and a large company of knights. Griffon of Auteville lies in ambush near the battle-field ready to help the sons of Foulques in case of their discomfiture. This plot is revealed to Renaud, who commands Richard to take his men to the Isle to protect his sons in case of treachery on the part of Griffon.

The Emperor and his Peers witness the battle, which lasts until all the four champions are grievously wounded; Aymonet finallyPage  xxix compels Constant to yield himself prisoner, and presents him to the Emperor. Yon slays Rohart, and his brother Constant is hung by command of the Emperor.

After Aymonet and Yon are healed of their wounds, they take leave of Charlemagne, and return with their father to Montauban. Renaud divides his possessions between his two children, and clothed as a pilgrim departs from Montauban never to return again. After wandering in the woods for many days he arrives at Cologne, where the Church of St. Peter is being built. He works there as a labourer, and through his wonderful strength gains the approbation of the chief mason. The other labourers are so jealous of him that they vow to kill him, and one day as Renaud is asleep under an archway they slay him and throw his body into the river Rhine in a sack, and answer the questions of the master mason as to Renaud's disappearance with jests. A wonderful miracle is then manifested: the fish of the river support the body of Renaud upon the surface of the water, torches appear round the body, and angels are heard singing in the night. The Archbishop with his clergy come to take the body out of the water, and on opening the sack they discover the corpse of the lost workman of St. Peter's Church. The labourers then confess their crime and pray for mercy: the Archbishop contents himself with dismissing them from his service unpunished.

The corpse is laid in a coffin to be buried, but it rises slowly and is borne by invisible hands out of the church into a cart, which passes out of Cologne and carries the body to a little town called Croine,*. [Tremogne in the chanson.] followed by the Archbishop and his clergy. There it is laid in a small chapel, and the Archbishop uncovers the face of Renaud, in order that he may be recognised by the people collected there.

A pilgrim appears before the brothers of Renaud, and tells them of the miracles at Cologne. They set forth for that city, and then go to Croine, where they discover the corpse of their brother; they reveal themselves to the Archbishop, who has the body of Renaud richly entombed at Cologne, where, as we are told, it rests unto this day—the memory of Renaud the Martyr being yearly commemorated by a service held in his honour.