Le Roman de Belris

The Roman de Belris survives only as an incomplete text, bound in a fourteenth-century Venetian manuscript together with selections of the Chanson d’Aspremont and the Roman du Graal. Written in poorly rhyming octosyllabic couplets, the text narrates the story of Belris, whose father King Galafre rules over the city of Varia. Galafre charges his sons Belris and Malcaris with finding an item he greatly desires, a gold and silver hawk with a head of white crystal. He promises to grant his kingdom to whomever fulfills this wish. Belris soon discovers a lady in a nearby city who possesses such a hawk, but learns also that she lives in an enchanted tower and is reluctant to part with the creature. Enlisting the help of an enchantress Machabia who quickly falls in love with the romance’s hero, Belris captures the falcon, but in the process falls in love with another woman, Anfelis, and marries her. Once Machabia learns of the marriage, she kills herself in despair. The text of the manuscript contains several lucanae and a large number of italianized words. The modern editor describes characterizes the text as written in an excessively ‘loopy’ script.


Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, ms. Lat.XIV, 264 (coll. 4296).


Monfrin, Jacques. Le Roman de Belris. In Etudes de philologie romane, 451-492. Genève: Droz, 2001.

Secondary Literature

Monfrin, Jacques. “Un nouveau roman franco-italien, Belris et Machabia,” Comptes-rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 2 (1953), 136-144.

———. “Le Roman de Belris, le Bel inconnu, Carduino.” In Testi, cotesti e contesti del franco-italiano, 161-176. Edited by Günter Holtus, Henning Krauss, and Peter Wunderli. Tübingen: Niermeyer, 1989
Cort, Ernst.Attila – Flagellum Dei, Etzel, Atli. Trieste: Instituto di Filologia Germanica, 1984.

See also Arlima