1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Macaire

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MACAIRE, a French chanson de geste. Macaire (12th century) and La reine Sibille (14th century) are two versions of the story of the false accusation brought against the queen of Charlemagne, called Blanchefleur in Macaire and Sibille in the later poem. Macaire is only preserved in the Franco-Venetian geste of Charlemagne (Bibl. St Mark MS. fr. xiii.). La Reine Sibille only exists in fragments, but the tale is given in the chronicle of Alberic Trium Fontium and in a prose version. Macaire is the product of the fusion of two legends: that of the unjustly repudiated wife and that of the dog who detects the murderer of his master. For the former motive see Geneviève of Brabant. The second is found in Plutarch, Script. moral., ed. Didot ii. (1186), where a dog, like Aubri’s hound, stayed three days without food by the body of its master, and subsequently attacked the murderers, thus leading to their discovery. The duel between Macaire and the dog is paralleled by an interpolation by Giraldus Cambrensis in a MS. of the Hexameron of Saint Ambrose. Aubri’s hound received the name of the “dog of Montargis,” because a representation of the story was painted on a chimney-piece in the château of Montargis in the 15th century. The tale was early divorced from Carolingian tradition, and Jean de la Taille, in his Discours notable des duels (Paris, 1607), places the incident under Charles V.

See Macaire (Paris, 1866), ed. Guessard in the series of Anc. poètes de la France; P. Paris in Hist. litt. de la France, vol. xxiii. (1873); L. Gautier, Épopées françaises, vol. iii. (2nd ed., 1880); G. Paris, Hist. poét. de Charlemagne (1865); M. J. G. Isola, Storie nerbonesi, vol. i. (Bologna, 1877); F. Wolf, Über die beiden . . . Volksbücher von der K. Sibille u. Huon de Bordeaux (Vienna, 1857) and Über die neuesten Leistungen der Franzosen (Vienna, 1833). The Dog of Montargis; or, The Forest of Bondy, imitated from the play of G. de Pixérécourt, was played at Covent Garden (Sept. 30, 1814).

“Robert Macaire” was the name given to the modern villain in the Auberge des Adrets (1823), a melodrama in which Frédérick Lemaître made his reputation. The type was sensibly modified in Robert Macaire (1834), a sequel written by Lemaître in collaboration with Benjamin Antier, and well-known on the English stage as Macaire. R. L. Stevenson and W. E. Henley used the same type in their play Macaire.