Floire et Blancheflor

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Floire et Blancheflor in an edition by Jan van Doesborch, ca.1517

Floire et Blancheflor is a verse novel from around 1160 , which was written anonymously in around 3000 pairs of rhymed octosyllables .

It is one of the most famous medieval stories, which was translated into all literary languages ​​of the time and formed the subject of various romans d'aventures or fateful novels.

The work has been handed down in an aristocratic and a popular version, whereby the popular version differs from the courtly version in the accumulation of Romanesque motifs.

The first version in verse that we have of it is the little poem Floire et Blancheflor , written by an unknown French trobador poet around 1160. Floire and Blancheflor are born on the same day - he as the child of a Saracen king, she as the child of a Christian slave. In both versions “Floire's father does not want the connection with the Christian. While Blancheflor is sold as a slave to Babylon in one story , she is to be convicted of murder and burned in the other ”. However, the couple overcomes all dangers and difficulties, convinces adversaries with their love and can get married in the end. According to the courtly version, Blancheflor becomes the grandmother of Charlemagne .

Another French version of the vernacular dates from the 13th century, in which the author changed the characters of the protagonists as well as some episodes. Also in the 13th century, the material was reworked in Aucassin et Nicolette in reverse.


Old French version (courtly)

Floire (or Floris) is crowned king, illustration from a manuscript from Heidelberg

During one of his ventures in Galicia in north-west Spain , Felix, King of al-Andalus attacks a group of pilgrims who are on their way to Santiago de Compostela , the famous medieval pilgrimage site. Among the pilgrims are a French knight and his recently widowed daughter, who will dedicate the rest of her life to the shrine. The knight is killed and the daughter is taken as a prisoner to Naples , where she becomes the companion of Felix's wife. Both women become pregnant and give birth to their children on the same day, Palm Sunday : Floire , son of the Muslim queen, and Blancheflor , daughter of the socialite.

Floire (belonging to the rose (or flower) ') and Blancheflor (white flower (possibly lily)) grow up together at the court and approach each other. King Felix now fears that his son wants to marry the "pagan" girl and decides to kill her. However, he does not have the heart to do it himself, instead sends his son to school and sells Blancheflor to traders who are on the way to Cairo , known as Babylon in history. There it is sold to the emir . Felix has an elaborate grave built for Blancheflor and tells Floire that she is dead. Floire's reaction is so serious that the king decides to tell him the truth. Disturbed but encouraged to know that Blancheflor is alive, Floire decides to find her.

He finally reaches the gates of Babylon (Kairos), where the bridge guard Daire tells him about the tower of the maidens . Every year the emir looks for a new wife there and kills his last. Now the rumor is going around that Blancheflor is the next chosen wife.

To get into the tower, the guard advises Floire to play chess with the guard and then repay him all winnings so that he feels obliged to do him a favor and grant him access to the tower. While playing chess, Floire beats the sentry and breaks into the tower as planned, secretly hidden in a flower basket. Due to a mistake, however, he ends up in the room of Blancheflor's friend, Claris. She arranges a meeting between the two, but two weeks later they are discovered by the emir.

The emir decides not to kill them immediately, but rather to convene a council first. Impressed by the will of the young lovers to die for the other, the advisors persuade the emir to spare their lives. Floire is then knighted and the couple married. Claris marries the emir who gives her the promise to marry her as the last and only woman from now on. A little later, news of Felix's death reached Babylon. Floire and Blancheflor return to their homeland, where they take over the kingdom and convert to Christianity together with their subjects.

Vernacular versions (selection)


“This legend seems to be of oriental origin. It is shaped by the idea of ​​fatefulness, where love is understood as an irresistible attraction that souls feel for one another and allow them to overcome all obstacles. Certainly it was known in France long before the poem was written, which we received, as traces of it can be found in earlier works. "

“The author is obviously a clerc who tries with modest skill to spread his knowledge, but who cares little about penetrating into the psychology of his heroes. Nonetheless, the work is a lasting success. "

See also


  1. a b c Jock, Sabine; Wunderli, Peter. In: Grimm, Jürgen. French literary history . Metzler publishing house, 1994, p. 32.
  2. a b c d Winfried Engler : Lexicon of French Literature (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 388). 2nd, improved and enlarged edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1984, ISBN 3-520-38802-2 , p. 396.
  3. a b c d cf. Laffont-Bompiani. Dictionnaire Encyclopédique de la Littérature Française . Editions Robert Laffont SA, Paris 1999, p. 377.
  4. cf. French and English wiki articles
  5. a b see English wiki article

Web links

Wikisource: Le Conte de Floire et Blanchefleur  - Sources and full texts (French)

(in a version by Robert d'Orbigny from the 12th century) [1]