Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of French Studies

Document Type



Of the seven medieval variants of the Chanson de Roland, the fourteenth century Venice Four Roland (V4) is the most narratively and linguistically divergent version of the Old French Carolingian epic. It contains an interpolated episode that is not found in any other Roland variant – la Prise de Narbonne. Moreover, it incorporates genres not traditionally associated with the chanson de geste, such as the roman arthurien and farce. Most notably, the 6011 verse Venice Four Roland is composed in a medieval literary language alternately known as Franco-Italian, Franco-Lombard, or Franco-Venetian. The purpose of this research is to: a) provide the findings of an original in situ examination of the manuscript at the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice, Italy; b) further our knowledge of the origins of the manuscript and its potential value to the patrician Gonzaga family of Mantua who likely commissioned it; c) elucidate the deliberate narrative and genre transformations made to the Oxford Roland variant, which resulted in a novel iteration of the Old French chanson de geste; d) provide a status quaestionis concerning the nature of the Franco-Venetian literary language; and e) demonstrate that despite long-held scholarly pronouncements, the enigmatic language of the Venice Four is not simply a hybrid literary language, rather, it is an artificial language that is intentionally hermetic yet decipherable.

Committee Chair

Leupin, Alexandre



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