Filippo Andrei: ABSTRACT: "Albert of Aachen and the Chanson de Jérusalem"

The Chanson de Jérusalem represents the thematic core of the Old French crusade cycle, even if it is not the most ancient poem, and it is unanimously considered an example of an ancient chanson de geste later rewritten by an unknown poet to form part of a broader cycle. Besides the imaginary episodes that induced many early scholars to see the Jérusalem only as legendary work, the poem contains instead a narration that follows closely the historical sources of the First Crusade and provides a reliable account of the French expedition to the Holy City. In this paper compares the poem's account directly with those of all the Latin chronicles in order to identify, within the multiplicity of historical traditions regarding the first crusade, the source that the poet would have used in composing his chanson. The comparative analysis thus shows that the Jérusalem used a text that belonged to the Lotharingian tradition whose most important witness is Albert of Aachen's Historia Hierosolymitana. Moreover, several analogies between Albert's chronicle and the account of the poem, as well as metrical devices repeated in crucial moments of the narration, reveal the traces of an ancient historical poem on the First Crusade whose aim was the exaltation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and which primarily concentrated on the figure of Godfrey of Bouillon represented as a sacred and thaumaturge king.