Ogier The Dane
From Classic Encyclopedia 1911
OGIER THE DANE, a hero of romance, who is idenfified with the Frankish warrior Autchar (Autgarius, Auctarius, Otgarius, Oggerius) of the old chroniclers. In 771 or 772 Autchar accompanied Gerberga, widow of Carloman, Charlemagne's brother, and her children to the court of Desiderius, king of the Lombards, with whom he marched against Rome. In 773 he submitted to Charles at Verona. He finally entered the cloister of St Faro at Meaux, and Mabillon (Acta SS. ord. St Benedicti, Paris, 1677) has left a description of his monument there, which had figures of Ogier and his friend Benedict or Benoit, with smaller images of Roland and la belle Aude and other Carolingian personages. In the chronicle of the Pseudo Turpin it is stated that innumerable cantilenae were current on the subject of Ogier, and his deeds were probably sung in German as well as in French. The Ogier of romance may be definitely associated with the flight of Gerberga and her children to Lombardy, but it is not safe to assume that the other scattered references all relate to the same individual. Colour is lent to the theory of his Bavarian origin by the fact that he, with Duke Naimes of Bavaria, led the Bavarian contingent to battle at Roncesvaux.
In the romances of the Carolingian cycle he is, on account of his revolt against Charlemagne, placed in the family of Doon de Mayence, being the son of Gaufrey de "Dannemarche." The Enfances Ogier of Adenes le Rois, and the Chevalerie Ogier de Dannemarche of Raimbert de Paris, are doubtless based on earlier chansons. The Chevalerie is divided into twelve songs or branches. Ogier, who was the hostage for his father at Charlemagne's court, fell into disgrace, but regained the emperor's favour by his exploits in Italy. One Easter at the court of Laon, however, his son B alduinet was slain by Charlemagne's son, Chariot, with a chess-board (cf. the incident of Renaud and Bertholais in the Quatre Fils Aymon). Ogier in his rage slays the queen's nephew Loher, and would have slain Charlemagne himself but for the intervention of the knights, who connived at his flight to Lombardy. In his stronghold of Castelfort he resisted the imperial forces for seven years, but was at last taken prisoner by Turpin, who incarcerated him at Reims, while his horse Broiefort, the sharer of his exploits, was made to draw stones at Meaux. He was eventually released to fight the Saracen chief Brehus or Braihier, whose armies had ravaged France, and who had defied Charlemagne to single combat. Ogier only consented to fight after the surrender of Chariot, but the prince was saved from his barbarous vengeance by the intervention of St Michael. The giant Brehus, despite his 17 ft. of stature, was overthrown, and Ogier, after marrying an English princess, the daughter of Angart (or Edgard), king of England, received from Charlemagne the fiefs of Hainaut and Brabant.
A later romance in Alexandrines (Brit. Mus. MS. Royal 15 E vi.) contains marvels added from Celtic romance. Six fairies visit his cradle, the sixth, Morgan la Fay, promising that he shall be her lover. He has a conqueror's career in the East, and after two hundred years in the "castle" of Avalon returns to France in the days of King Philip, bearing a firebrand on which his life depends. This he destroys when Philip's widowed queen wishes to marry him, and he is again carried off by Morgan la Fay. The prose romance printed at Paris in 1498 is a version of this later poem. The fairy element is prominent in the Italian legend of Uggieri ii Danese, the most famous redaction being the prose Libro dele bataglie del Danese (Milan, 1498), and in the English Famous and renowned history of Morvine, son to Oger the Dane, translated by J. M. (London, 1612). The Spanish Urgel was the hero of Lope de Vega's play, the Marques de Mantua. Ogier occupies the third branch of the Scandinavian Karlamagnus saga; his fight with Brunamont (Enfances Ogier) was the subject of a Danish folk-song; and as Holger Danske he became a Danish national hero, who fought against the German Dietrich of Bern (Theodoric "of Verona"), and was invested with the common tradition of the king who sleeps in a mountain ready to awaken at need. Whether he had originally anything to do with Denmark seems doubtful. The surname le Danois has been explained as a corruption of 1'Ardennois and Dannemarche as the marches of the Ardennes.
Bibliography. - La Chevalerie Ogier de Danemarche, ed. J. B. Barrois (2 vols., Paris, 1842); Les Enfances Ogier, ed. A. Scheler (Brussels, 1874); Hist. litt. de la France, vols. xx. and xxii.; G. Paris, Hist. poet. de Charlemagne (Paris, 1856); L. Gautier, Les Epopees francaises (2nd ed., 1878-1896); L. Pio, Sagnet om Holger Danske (Copenhagen, 1870); H. L. Ward, Catalogue of Romances, vol. i. pp. 604-610; C. Voretzsch, Uber die Sage von Ogier dem .Dcinen (Halle, 1891); P. Paris, "Recherches sur Ogier le Danois," Bibl. de l'Ecole des Chartes, vol. iii.; P. Rajna, Le Origini dell' epopea francese (1884); Riezler, "Naimes v. Bayem and Ogier der Dane," in Sitzungsberichte der phil. hist. Classe der kl. Akad. d. Wiss., vol. iv. (Munich, 1892).
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