• Walsall’s Bayard’s colts (3 April 2019)

The audience at a combined story-telling session and lecture at Walsall’s Leather Museum heard about the legend of Charlemagne and the Four Sons of Aymon and their horse Bayard, and the tale of Charlemagne’s queen Fastrada from story-teller Cath Edwards. Three of the Colts were on display in the lecture room while five more were in a temporary exhibition upstairs in the museum.



  • La fortuna dell’ Historia Turpini  in Europa (27-28 November 2018) 

Marianne Ailes will be speaking at a workshop in Turin on “La fortuna dell’ Historia Turpini in Europa: status quaestionis e prospettive di ricerca” (Turin 27 -18 November. her paper is entitled; un récit: multiples textes: La Chronique du Pseudo-Turpin en Angleterre’. She will be exploring the issues of transmission of the Pseudo-Turpin in a multilingual context and the questions raised by the existence of multiple translations and even the possible representation of the Pseudo-Turpin  in the wall paintings at Claverley, which raises of questions about how a narrative, circulating in written form at the time in Latin and French, but not in English, may have spread outside the textual tradition.


  • A public engagement event and display at Walsall Leather Museum (1 September 2018)

The enigmatic Bayard’s Colts, currently stored in Walsall but not on public display, contain one mace with a head that is widely referred to as the Charlemagne Head. The Charlemagne: a European Icon project will make some of these objects available for public display at a one-day event to be held at Walsall Leather Museum. We have already made contact will local schools, who will be involved in the planning of this exhibit, which it is hoped will revive local interest in Walsall’s links with Emperor Charlemagne.


  • England’s Bayeux Tapestry: A celebration of Claverley’s medieval all paintings, Shropshire (21 July 2018)

With its astonishing but little-known thirteenth-century wall paintings, which have been linked to the Roland legend, Claverley Church will provide the ideal setting for a public lecture on Charlemagne in England. Several speakers and displays of Charlemagne materials will make for a fascinating event.


  • On 04 July at the International Medieval Congress, Leeds, we showcased some of the incredible Charlemagne materials currently held in the English Midlands and Yorkshire, including the Charlemagne Head of the Bayard’s Colts. To coincide with this reception, we arranged a panel, chaired by Helen Fulton (University of Bristol), which included:

Phillipa Hardman (University of Reading), “Aligning the text: mise-en-page in manuscripts of Middle English Charlemagne romances”.

The ten English verse romances of the Matter of France are notable for their formal variety. This paper will examine the layouts adopted by scribes in copying the texts, and will argue that as well as reflecting that variety, their different choices may reveal the pressure of a range of other concerns – for instance: heritage and continuity; narrative structure; performability – within the constraints of textual transmission and manuscript production.

Wendy Hoofnagle (University of Northern Iowa), “The once and future king: Charlemagne and re-membering the past in the Cotton Caligula A. ix manuscript”.

The increased visibility of works in English in the manuscripts of the thirteenth century is often used to support the view of a developing concept of “Englishness” as opposed to “Frenchness” in Insular identity. In this paper, I look at the manuscript context of Cotton Caligula A. ix to argue that the imagining of an English identity did not require a rejection of the past, as evidenced by the lingering influence of Charlemagne in the texts within the manuscript, because the use of the past became a meaningful tool for reshaping existing ideologies of civilization and kingship that defined “Englishness” in the changing political and cultural landscape of the thirteenth century.

Elizabeth Munro (SOAS), “Remembering Charlemagne through Saracen Eyes”.

In this paper I explore the Saracens of the English Charlemagne Romance Cycle.  Examining both the verse and prose romances belonging to the cycle, I shall consider differences in the representations of Saracens that emerge via their interactions with Charlemagne.  Throughout this paper I shall differentiate between sincere and ‘Saracenised’ representations, questioning whether a truly Islamic identity can be recognised within these texts.


Three members of the Charlemagne project will be presenting at the Medieval Insular Romance Conference this year. The University of Bristol’s Helen Fulton and Marianne Ailes, as well as Aisling Byrne (University of Reading) will all speak at this event. A full programme is now available on the conference website.


  • Claudia Boscolo’s book, L’Entrée d’Espagne: Context and Authorship at the Origins of the Italian Chivalric Epic, is now available to order online through Medium Ævum‘s website. This study traces the major influences upon L’Entrée d’Espagne, including the backdrop of early fourteenth-century Northern Italian politics. It examines the gradual weakening of the figure of Charlemagne in the poem as a reflection, above all, of the diplomatic and military tensions between France and the early rulers of Milan.


  • On 3 November 2017, Marianne Ailes spoke at the Centre for Antique, Medieval, and Pre-modern Studies (NUI Galway). The title of Dr Ailes’s paper, which was part of the Research Labs Series, was “Tolerating the Religious Other in Crusading Literature”.


  • 18–20 October 2017, La chanson de geste et le sacré (Colloque International de la Société Rencesvals, Clermont-Ferrand)
    • Philip Bennett, “La Chanson d’Aiquin: entre croisade et pèlerinage” (11:30 Wednesday 18 October)
    • Marianne Ailes, “Les reliques dans les chansons de geste” (14:15 Wednesday 18 October) 

Conference Programme



This conference explored the expression of  identity and alterity in medieval epic and romance. It was devised within the project ‘Identity and Alterity in European Medieval Literature: Words, Topoi and Metaphors, which is funded by the Italian government. This project aims to create a database that collects the words, the topoi, and the metaphors used in medieval culture to express identity and alterity. The conference ended with a roundtable concerning the structure of the database, the search modes and the initial results coming out from  crossing the data. Moreover, this event also included two papers about Arabic medieval poetry and the broader Mediterranean cultural context (Capezzone, Poletti).




  • March 2017: Colloquium of the Société Rencesvals British Branch, Lichfield.


  • The Charlemagne: a European Icon project held a symposium in Edinburgh on 14 October 2016. Panels included papers from our Norse, German, Celtic, French, Italian, Latin and Spanish teams. We ended the day with the launch of the first two of our seven publications, Charlemagne and his Legend in Early Spanish Literature and Historiography, ed. Matthew Bailey and Ryan D. Giles (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2016) and The Charlemagne Legend in Medieval Latin Texts, ed. William J. Purkis and Matthew Gabriele (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2016).

Symposium Programme

Thursday 13 October

Northern Scholars Lecture
Sif Rikhardsdottir, ‘Poetic Voice and Interior Emotionality in Old Norse Literature’ followed by a reception.

Flyer: Poetic-Voice

Friday 14 October

9.15 Welcome by Philip Bennett and Marianne Ailes

9.30 – 10.45 Session 1: France and Burgundy

–Philip Bennett: Charlemagne the Warrior in La Chanson des Saisnes and Aiquin

–Catherine Emerson: Charlemagne’s Tears in David Aubert

11.00 – 11.05 Tea and Coffee     

11.05 – 12.00 Session 2: Italian and English

–Annalisa Perrotta and Giuseppe Mascherpa: New Documents on the Circulation of the Falconetto: Hypothesis and New Scenarios

–Phillipa Hardman: Feeling Others’ Fears? Reflections on Late-Medieval Insular Charlemagne Narratives in 2016

12.00 – 1.00 Venue: IASH Seminar Room

–Team discussion of progress of volumes and website

1.00– 2.00 Sandwich Lunch for Team Members and Invited Guests

2.00 – 3.00 Session 3: Celtic and Norse

–Daniel Zimmerman: Hákon’s Cultural Programme: Af Rúnzivals bardaga as the Exception to the Rule?

–Helen Fulton: Charlemagne in Wales: Imperialism in Medieval Welsh Poetry

3.00 – 3.30 Tea and Coffee

3.30 – 5.00 Session 4: Iberian Perspectives

–Doriane Zerka: Karl and the Other: Perspectives on Iberia in the GermanRolandslied

–William Purkis: The Materiality of Charlemagne’s Iberian ‘Crusade’

–Matthew Bailey: Insights for the Study of Spanish Literature from Charlemagne in Spain

5.00 – 6.00 Book Launch

–Charlemagne and his Legend in Early Spanish Literature and Historiography, ed. Matthew Bailey and Ryan D. Giles (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2016).

The Charlemagne Legend in Medieval Latin Texts, ed. William J. Purkis and Matthew Gabriele (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2016).

Flyer: 2016 Symposium


  • We have had our first public engagement event. On 18 May Marianne Ailes spoke on ‘Politics and Propaganda: Two Medieval Literary Manuscripts’ to The Heraldry Society, a national membership organisation, which meets at the Society of Antiquaries in London. Marianne spoke about two heavily illuminated Anglo-Norman manuscripts that contain the Charlemagne chansons de geste, La Destruction de Rome and Fierarbas. A member of the audience later wrote that Marianne had ‘brought alive what could have been such an abstruse subject’.


  • The Charlemagne in Spanish Literature and Historiography team met at the 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo 12–16 May 2016. This was an extremely well attended event, and the following papers were read:

-Matthew Bailey (Washington and Lee University), ‘Charlemagne as a Creative Force in the Spanish Epic’.
-Lucy K. Pick, (University of Chicago), ‘Rebel Nephews and Royal Sisters: The Tale of Bernardo del Carpio’.
-Mercedes Vaquero (Brown University), ‘The Old Counselors in the Roncesvals “Matière” and the Spanish Epic’.
-Ryan D. Giles (Indiana University – Bloomington), ‘Converting the Saracen: The Historia del emperador Carlomagno and the Christianization of Granada’.
-Aníbal Biglieri (University of Kentucky), ‘The Construction of Space and Place in the Narrative: “Cuento del emperador Carlos Maynes de Roma e de la buena emperatris Seuilla, su mugier”’.



  • The British Branch of the Société Rencesvals met in Perth, Scotland, on the 2nd and 3rd of April. In addition to the society’s general meeting, the following papers were read:

-Philip Bennett, ‘Charlemagne the warrior in Les Saisnes and Aiquin’.
-Jenny Markey, ‘Medieval Translation and the Estoire d’Antioche’.
-Simon Parsons, ‘The Formulaic Combat of Latin First Crusade Texts with reference to that of the Chansons de geste’.
-Patricia Gillies, ‘Roland and the Space of Death in the Oxford Roland’.
-James Doherty, ‘Ranulf of Blondeville and the Wollaton Hall Chanson d’Aspremont’.
-Philippa Hardman, ‘Arthurian Connections in the Middle English Charlemagne Romances’.
-Marianne Ailes, ‘Rebellious Barons in the chanson de geste in England’.
-Françoise Le Saux, ‘The language of warfare in Layamon’s Brut’.

Perth 008


  • On 17 February 2016 Professor Catherine Leglu (University of Reading) spoke about her ongoing work for the project at the Université de Toulouse-Jean Jaurès (département de Lettres modernes, Cinéma et Occitan). This was part of a year-long series of talks organised with the support of the CELO (Centre d’Étude de la Littérature Occitane), and the CREO-MP (Centre Régional pour l’Enseignement de l’Occitan en Midi-Pyrénées) as well as the Région Midi-Pyrénées.


  • Marianne Ailes (University of Bristol) presented a paper at The James Lydon Research Seminar in Medieval History, Trinity College, Dublin in December 2015. The title of her presentation was ‘Reading Charlemagne in Medieval England’.

Trinity College, Dublin


  • On 14 October 2015 representatives from each of the teams were brought together in Bristol for a workshop. During this week we were also fortunate enough to hear Sif Rikhardsdottir (University of Iceland) speak about ‘Medieval Emotionality: The Feeling Subject in Medieval Literature’.



  • Several papers were presented by the Charlemagne in Italy team during the 2015 meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, held in Berlin.


  • During the Leeds International Medieval Congress, 2014, a panel was presented by the project as part of the commemoration of the death of Charlemagne in 814. Papers were given on ‘Charlemagne, King of the Franks, in Occitania: Exploring a Paradox’ (Catherine Leglu); ‘The Attributed Arms of Charlemagne’ (Adrian Ailes); ‘Archaising Charlemagne Texts in London, British Library, MS Royal 15 E VI’ (Jade Bailey). Additionally, Marianne Ailes presented a paper on ‘Remembering Charlemagne as Emperor in a Medieval Francophone Context’, in a panel on ‘Remembering Empire: Emperors’.


  • At the International Medieval Society of Paris colloquium in June 2014, papers were presented by members of ‘Charlemagne in England’ and ‘Charlemagne in Latin’ teams on the theme of  ‘Charlemagne après Charlemagne’.


  • Phillipa Hardman and Jade Bailey, from the Charlemagne in England team, gave papers at the Société Rencesvals British Branch meeting in April 2014.Lecture and Exhibition at Claverley Church, Shropshire. With its astonishing but little-known thirteenth-century wall paintings, which have been linked to the Roland legend, Claverley Church will provide the ideal setting for a public lecture on Charlemagne in England. An invited speaker and displays of Charlemagne materials will make for a fascinating event.