Post-classical history

Chanson de Jérusalem

An Old French crusade epic, also known as La Conquête de Jérusalem, originally composed around 1135.

The poem survives in eleven manuscripts (in three only fragmentarily), most importantly MSS Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, fr. 12558 and fr. 12569, both dating from around 1275. Almost 10,000 lines in length, the poem has as its central theme the siege and conquest of Jerusalem (15 July 1099) by the First Crusade, covering the period from the arrival of the crusaders at the walls of Jerusalem (early June 1099) up to the defeat of a Saracen army shortly after the capture of the city, which may be a reminiscence of the historical battle of Ascalon (12 August 1099). The text’s historicity is clearly recognizable, but less reliable than in the older Chanson d’Antioche. The Chanson de Jérusalem was composed by an anonymous author and does not survive in its original form. The oldest extant version was made between 1180 and 1190 by the otherwise unknown Graindor de Douai, adapting the story in order to compose a trilogy along with the Chanson d’Antioche and Les Chétifs, which became the core of the later Crusade Cycle.

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