A Dialogue
possibly indeed a holograph of Chretien de Troyes himself
from a manuscript discovered and translated from the Old French by Antonio Furtado, 7/25/2006.
For the text of William of Tyr under discussion, see Page Two.
Quid rides? Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur.
Horace


Chretien
Here I am, my lord, obedient to your summons. I understand that you want to talk again about your  trip to the Holy Land, and would order me to compose a poem inspired on it. Is it true that you are planning to take the cross once more?
Philip
Hi, Chris. Yes I feel as if I have left an unfinished task. That first expedition seemed to start favourably, but ended not so well. Some grandees there had the nerve to insult me. When my arrival was announced, the king of Jerusalem himself, Balwin IV (1161-1185), sounded extremely happy, and hastened to offer me both the regency of the kingdom and the command of the army. His leprosy was getting worse and worse with time. He had just been carried back from Ascalon in a litter, being no longer able to mount a horse. I first took counsel with my men. Then I said that I declined the offer, claiming that I was there only as a pilgrim.
Chretien
They were surely disappointed, my lord. But please let me know why the king feared no opposition to his plan to, so to speak, hand you the sword of command, perhaps with the promise of a future crown. Was there no claimant of his own kin?
Philip
At that time, I was actually the closest man around of his blood. A former king of Jerusalem, Fulk of Anjou (1089-1143), had been the father of both Amalric (1136-1174), who was Baldwin's father, and of my mother Sibylla (1112-1165). So I am his first cousin.
Chretien
Your reply, although negative, was quite courteous. I see no reason for insults! Did you leave immediately afterwards?
Philip
No. I took the occasion to ask for a far less ambitious concession, which they  however chose to interpret as evidence of my "great malice". To open the discussion discreetly, I expressed my surprise that nobody was considering the marriage of the elder sister of Baldwin, who of course was equally my first cousin. Her name is Sibylla (1160-1190),  after my own mother. My purpose was to have her married to one of my vassals, and this infuriated the Ibelins, who wanted to marry her, as also her younger sister, into their family. To me the reply was that it would be improper to marry off again so soon a recent widow.
Chretien
I can visualize the scene. You are received with honour in his court by the ailing king who wants you to help him to redeem the land. He gives you a sword and expects from you an attitude that would be beneficial to all concerned, and ultimately to yourself. Claiming to have follow wise counsel, you demur--you seem insensitive to their plight. And, next, you see a lady--one who knows well the sufferings of her brother--and one who should be especially dear to you, since her name would make you remember your mother. This  lady is holding in her arms the dead body of her man--and you coldly tell her to follow you and leave the dead to the dead.
Philip
Hey, wait a minute! I don't keep you on my payroll to criticize me!1 What I got from that archbishop of Tyre was more than enough penitence! I want you to write something that may cheer me up!
Chretien
Peace, my lord! I am aware that your intentions were pure. But I would like to know more about the court of Jerusalem. I was told that, since 1183, there is a Baldwin V (1177-1186) acting as co-king, so two kings now live in that palace. Surely they are treated differently. Did the doctors prescribe anything to cure or at least reduce the pains of the Leper King (li Rois mesiaus)?
Philip
They tried repeated formentations, anointings, and even poisonous drugs (emplastres et oignemenz; poisons et autres medicines) to improve his condition, but it was all in vain.
Chretien
Excuse me, but "poison" is one of the ambiguous words of our language. It means "venom", as you seem to imply, but it may also be a purgative, or even any medical potion. Furthermore, it can be easily confused with "poisson" (fish). Last but not the least, you can talk of a "poissans roi" (powerful king).
Philip
Yes, and, since you mention that, the words "fish" and "fishing" are often heard in the region of the Holy Land and of Egypt. Baldwin I is reported to have taken a fancy for one of the mouths of the Nile, close to the village of Farama (Faramie). He was charmed with this water, regarded as one of the four rivers flowing from Paradise. He ordered his men to catch fish, which they did, and then everybody ate. Too much, perhaps, because Baldwin died shortly afterwards. Fishes exist in a fair variety, including species such as  "loches" and "verons", which can be found in the famous fountain called Tubanie; Baldwin IV once considered moving his court to that area.
Chretien
You mentioned another place - Ascalon (cite d'Escalone). Is it worthy of a tourist's visit?
Philip
It is an impregnable fortress, situated beside the sea. King Baldwin IV tried in vain to cross its threshold when his brother-in-law, Gui de Lusignan  (an ill-reputed Guy, by the way), took refuge inside it with his wife, whom he had called to join him there--and this wife was Sibylla, the very same king's sister that I mentioned to you before. The burgesses stayed watching from the walls and the towers, waiting for the outcome.
Chretien
Another fascinating scene! A knight invited by his enemy to be a guest in his castle of Escalone - or some similar name better adapted to my meter and rhyme scheme, wherein he is loved and protected by the enemy's sister! The burgesses crowding around, but fearing the knight! Also, I'll find ways to include two villains with names starting with "Gui".
Philip
I don't see how you could insert this scene coherently in any sensible plot. You would need to introduce a second hero. Merely as a joke, I suggest Gauvain de Chenechi...
Chretien
Never mind. We expert writers know how to put our various threads together; we call that "entrelacement". But I need one more element to get started. The crusaders hoped to find holy relics as part of their mission. Is there any such finding that you may care to mention?
Philip
Oh, sure! There is the Holy Lance. But it was located much before my coming. A poor semi-literate monk, named Peter Bartholomew, found it. It was carried aloft during a victorious battle. It worked as a prophetic sign of destruction! However, some people doubted its authenticity, and Peter offered to submit himself to an ordeal by fire. For you, who love fantastic scenes, this one should be a treat. Let me read for you what says a book that I brought back with me:

Iluec fu renovelee une parole; car la menue gent et aucuns meismes des barons comencierent a douter de la lance qui avoit este trovee en Antioche si com vos oistes desus; car li un disoient que cestoit cele vraiement dont Nostre Sires fu poinz en la croiz et qui de son sanc fu arousee (...). Cil qui trovee lavoit oi la doute; si vint devant les Barons mout hardiement et leur dist: "Beau seigneur ne doutez pas de ce (...). Et por vous mostrer que voirs soit einsi com je lai dit je vos pri que vos faciez alumer un grant feu je enterrai enz et tendrai la lance en ma main: je passerai outre et men irai touz sains." Quant il oirent ce bien si acorderent tuit: li feus fu apareilliez granz et hauz. Ce fu le jor du vendredi beneoit; et leur plot que la chose fu einsi esprovee le jor que Jhesucrist fu feruz de la lance. Cil qui soffroit a ce joise avoit non Pierres Bertelemis clers assez pou lettrez et selonc ce que len pooit connoistre par dehors mout estoit simples hom. Touz li oz fu assemblez entor le feu. Pierres vint avant et sagenoilla. Quant il ot fete soroison il prist la lance et entra eu feu passa tout outre de rien ne fu bleciez que len peust cognoistre. Quant li pueples vit ce tuit li corurent por lui touchier et por fere grant joie. 2

Chretien
Great! So he walked through the fire, carrying the lance in his hand, and that during a Holy Friday, when the lance could again be "de son sanc arousee"! It is in fact a strong scene, too strong perhaps. I can tune it down a little and, at the same time, introduce a bit of mystery: imagine that the man passes by between a great fire and the onlookers, instead of through the fire, and that the character corresponding to you, my noble Count, does not know what this is all about. Incidentally, is this French text a translation from Latin? Serious prose most often is, in our present epoch.
Philip
As a matter of fact, yes. And this part comes after an explanatory title: "Renovatur quaestio de lancea Domini: Inventor rogum intrat accensum; paucis post diebus moritur". 3
Chretien
This word "quaestio" turns out to be quite handy. It suggests many things. You see: in my new narrative, the hero's fault will be no more than not asking a certain question! I may introduce a few additional objects, such as platter that would take "poison" (in one of its many senses) or some other thing to the king or to the co-king. One last request: you have a wonderful memory and have told me a lot. But, just as a little extra help, I would be grateful to have that book available. Can I borrow the Latin original from you? On second thought, the French version would be a nice supplement--the Latin I am used to is the classic one, the language of Virgil and Ovid, whereas the Latin of our times is somewhat, let us say, precarious, at its very best.
Philip
I don't have the books here, but you may look at:
http://colet.lib.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/navigate?/projects/artflb/databases/efts/PLD/IMAGE1/.5452
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/GuillaumeTyr1.html
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/tyre-cde.html
for, respectively, the texts in Latin, French, and (a few passages only) in a barbarous dialect of Norman/ Saxon origin. I hear there are also a number of Wikipedia entries, whatever that may mean, about myself, Baldwin, Archbishop William of Tyre, etc.

NOTES
1. Note from C: In fact, there was much more to blame in his conduct. Try this scandalous bit, for a sample:
Tandis come la besoigne aloit einsi au reigne de Surie li cuens de Flandres et li autre qui avec lui estoient demoroient encore au chastel de Harenc mes ni fesoient gueres de leur enneur ne de la besoigne Nostre Seigneur; car il nentendoient mie a grever leur anemis si com il deussent aincois ne finoient de joer aus tables et aus esches; en robes legieres estoient touz nuz piez dedenz leur paveillons. Sovent sen aloient en Antioche o granz compaignies por estre iluec es bainz et es tavernes et es mengiers; a luxure et a mauves deliz metoient toutes leur ententes.

While the work was going on in the realm of Syria the Count of Flanders and the others who were with him were still hanging out at Herring Castle, and they didn't do much for their own reputations, to say nothing of God's work, for they were no longer planning to attack their enemies as they had before. Instead they played endless games of chess and checkers; they lay around naked in flimsy robes in their tents. Often they went to Antioch in groups to take in the baths, the taverns, the restaurants; the only thing on their minds was lust and wicked pleasures. (tr. J. Shoaf)
But no matter! He is my patron, more open-handed than Alexander, and is paying in advance! On the other hand, he has a fear, with no reason, that I may not finish the job. I did not finish the Lancelot, ordered by my previous employer, because I hate her notion of "courtly love"! Anyway, the Count established and included in his will a clause to the effect that, if I did not complete the text of my poem, any continuator would earn from him or from his heirs a handsome amount of money, in proportion to the number of added verses. That's what I call a rash boon! Imagine the number of rascals, eager to stretch my romance with tens of thousands of meaningless lines, to finally come up with some obvious ending!

2.  Then a rumor began again, for the petty folks and even some of the barons began to have doubts about the lance which had been found in Antioch, as you have heard tell. Some said it was indeed the one which pierced Our Lord on the Cross and was sprinkled with His blood.... The man who had found it heard about the doubts; he went boldly  in front of the Barons and said to them, "Fine Lord, do not doubt this! ... And to show you that it is ture as I said I pray you to have a great fire lit and I will enter it holding the lance in my hand; I will go through it and emerge untouched." When they heard this they all agreed; the fire was built up huge and high. It was the day of Holy Friday, and it pleased them that the test was essayed on the day when Jesus Christ was struck by the lance. He who endured this was named Pierre Berthelemis, a clerk with not much education and, from what we can learn about him, apparently a very plain man. The whole army gathered around the fire. Pierre approached and kneeled down. When he had made his prayer he took the lance and entered the fire, passed completey through it, was not hurt in any way that anyone could discover. Whe the people saw this, they all ran to touch him and rejoice. (tr. J. Shoaf)

3. The debate about the Lord's lance recurs; the finder enters the fire; he dies a few days later.