1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Flore and Blanchefleur

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FLORE AND BLANCHEFLEUR, a 13th-century romance. This tale, generally supposed to be of oriental origin, relates the passionate devotion of two children, and their success in overcoming all the obstacles put in the way of their love. The romance appears in differing versions in French, English, German, Swedish, Icelandic, Italian, Spanish, Greek and Hungarian. The various forms of the tale receive a detailed notice in E. Hausknecht’s version of the 13th-century Middle English poem of “Floris and Blauncheflur” (Samml. eng. Denkmäler, vol. v. Berlin, 1885). Nothing definite can be stated of the origin of the story, but France was in the 12th and 13th centuries the chief market of romance, and the French version of the tale, Floire et Blanchefleur, is the most widespread. Floire, the son of a Saracen king of Spain, is brought up in constant companionship with Blanchefleur, the daughter of a Christian slave of noble birth. Floire’s parents, hoping to destroy this attachment, send the boy away at fifteen and sell Blanchefleur to foreign slave-merchants. When Floire returns a few days later he is told that his companion is dead, but when he threatens to kill himself, his parents tell him the truth. He traces her to the tower of the maidens destined for the harem of the emir of Babylon, into which he penetrates concealed in a basket of flowers. The lovers are discovered, but their constancy touches the hearts of their judges. They are married, and Floire returns to his kingdom, when he and all his people adopt Christianity. Of the two 12th-century French poems (ed. Édélestand du Méril, Paris, 1856), the one contains the love story with few additions, the other is a romance of chivalry, containing the usual battles, single combats, &c. Two lyrics based on episodes of the story are printed by Paulin Paris in his Romancero français (Paris, 1883). The English poem renders the French version without amplifications, such as are found in other adaptations. Its author has less sentiment than his original, and less taste for detailed description. Among the other forms of the story must be noted the prose romance (c. 1340) of Boccaccio, Il Filocolo, and the 14th-century Leggenda della reina Rosana e di Rosana sua figliuola (pr. Leghorn, 1871). The similarity between the story of Floire and Blanchefleur and Chante-fable of Aucassin et Nicolete[1] has been repeatedly pointed out, and they have even been credited with a common source.

See also editions by I. Bekker (Berlin, 1844) and E. Hausknecht

(Berlin, 1885); also H. Sundmacher, Die altfr. und mittelhochdeutsche Bearbeitung der Sage von Flore et Blanscheflur (Göttingen, 1872); H. Herzog, Die beiden Sagenkreise von Flore und Blanscheflur (Vienna, 1884); Zeitschrift für deut. Altertum (vol. xxi.) contains a Rhenish version; the Scandinavian Flores Saga ok Blankiflùr, ed. E. Kölbing (Halle, 1896); the 13th-century version of Konrad Fleck, Flore und Blanscheflur, ed. E. Sommer (Leipzig, 1846); the Swedish by G.E. Klemming (Stockholm, 1844). The English poem was also edited by Hartschorne (English Metrical Tales, 1829), by Laing (Abbotsford Club, 1829), and by Lumly (Early Eng. Text Soc., 1866, re-edited G.H. McKnight, 1901). J. Reinhold (Floire et Blanchefleur, Paris, 1906) suggests a parallelism with the story of Cupid and Psyche as told by Apuleius; also that the oriental setting does not necessarily imply a connexion with Arab tales, as the circumstances might with small alteration have been taken from the Vulgate version of the

book of Esther.

  1. Ed. H. Suchier (Paderborn, 1878, 5th ed. 1903); modern French by G. Michaut, with preface by J. Bédier (Tours, 1901); English by Andrew Lang (1887), by F.W. Bourdillon (Oxford, 1896), and by Laurence Housman (1902).