Turold (DNB00)

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TUROLD (fl. 1075–1100), romance-writer, has been considered by some as the author of the ‘Chanson de Roland,’ whose composition is assigned by the best authorities to the end of the eleventh century. Its attribution to a person of that name, a common enough one in the eleventh century, rests on the last line of the poem in the oldest known manuscript of it in the Bodleian library at Oxford, ‘Ci falt la Geste que Turoldus declinet’ (i.e. thus ends the Geste which Turold completes). The ‘Geste’ is referred to four times in the poem as a sort of historical document, so if Turold was the author of anything, it was of this previous compilation. But ‘declinet’ may have two meanings, a primary one of ‘finish’ and a secondary one of ‘relate.’ The first is the one most generally adopted. So that Turold may be the name of either the scribe who wrote that particular manuscript, the author of the ‘Geste,’ or the jongleur who sang it. The balance of opinion now inclines to the first supposition. The Oxford manuscript was probably written towards the end of the twelfth century. In any case the identification of Turold with a Turold Benedictine of Fécamp, to whom William I gave the abbacy of Malmesbury, who removed to Peterborough in 1069 and died in 1098, resting as it does on the bare fact of the existence of two copies of the ‘Chanson’ in the library of Peterborough Cathedral, is doubtful, as are all attempts to identify the possessor of so common a name in the present state of our knowledge.

[Chanson de Roland, ed. L. Gautier (édition classique), 1892, Introd. p. xxv; Idem, ed. Petit de Julleville, 1876, pp. 15, 16; Wright's Biographia Literaria, ii. 120.]

W. E. R.