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Charlemagne’s failure of charity in Pseudo-Turpin’s Chronicle and beyond

Faculty Advisor




Historia Caroli Magni, The Conquests of Charlemagne, Turpin, Charlemagne, Roland, Moorish Spain, early middle ages, History of Charlemagne and Roland, Christian society, king Aigolande

Abstract (summary)

The Chronicle of ps. Turpin is disparaged for its compositional failings, but it has its strengths too. These are exemplified by the episode in which the pagan king Aigolande upbraids Charlemagne for neglecting to provide for the paupers he sustains as well as the clergymen of his court. On account of Charlemagne’s oversight Aigolande refuses baptism and continues the war that eventually results in Roland’s death. This episode serves many purposes; it pro- vides coherence to the narrative, motivation and sympathetic humanity to the antagonists of the piece, depth and fallibility to the character of Charlemagne, substance to the character of Turpin himself, and a punch to a moral lesson the Chronicle attempts to deliver. Its importance was recognized in the ps. Turpin tradition, and the remarkably subtle and effective device of turning the criticisms of a heathen on the faults of Christian society was adapted and repeated for centuries.

Publication Information

Garstad, Benjamin. “Charlemagne’s Failure of Charity in Pseudo-Turpin’s Chronicle and Beyond.” Journal of Medieval Latin 30 (2020) 41-65.


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