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So, reading through Paladin, I got pretty interested in the story of Doon of La Roche, which is apparently one of the lesser known chansons. First question: Is there a good English translation of this story that one can acquire relatively easily/cheaply?

Alternatively/secondly, has anyone here read Doon de La Roche? If so, are there any details about Doon and/or his family given in the work itself? Like, does it ever detail what Doon did that saw him marrying Princess Olive, or any characterization for the likes of Geoffrey or Doon's cousins?

I ask because the House of La Roche struck me as a good fit for an important local house that the Player Knights could all be a part of that isn't too important and well-connected, so I started thinking about possible hooks for a campaign of that nature. In terms of what was already there, I figure giving Sir Tomile a reasonably powerful extended family would be a good start, who would naturally be sore over the recent events of Tomile and Audegour's deaths and the loss of La Roche and Cologne; I might even change things so that, instead of being mutilated and sent to a monastery, Malingre manages to buy/wheedle his freedom from Pepin and perhaps marry into some decently powerful “villainous” family to get the backing to continue to bedevil Landri and his relatives on his own time (which can be yet another source of tension as first Pepin and then Charlemagne are, as in so many chansons, repeatedly prevailed upon to side with the villains against the heroes, or to demand peace be made at the least convenient times). Maybe if the Player Knights make an enemy out of the family of Sir Eingar in “The Adventure of the Jewel,” Malingre manages to bank on that enmity to tie himself to them through marriage to secure more power and connections.

Another (or perhaps an additional) possibility for an enemy I had in mind that was also kind of an expansion on the House of La Roche's history and connections to the rest of the Frankish nobility was inspired by the fact that, in the family tree given in the book, Doon of La Roche's grandfather is a “Drogo of La Roche,” about whom no other information is given. So, I decided to look for any prominent historical Drogo who I could draw inspiration and relationships from, and found that there was a surprisingly important and well-connected Drogo who even lived very close by: Drogo of Champagne (c. 675-708), the elder half-brother of Charles Martel and the Duke of Champagne.

Said Drogo had four sons: Arnulf, who inherited the duchy; St. Hugh (d. 730), who became archbishop of Rouen; Gotfrid, and Pippin. He seems to have been considered an important figure, as several later imperial annals being their year-by-year accounts with his death, perhaps because it's considered the point where Charles Martel and his branch of the family begins to eclipse that of Drogo. There's a suggestion of at least one attempt at conciliation between these two branches in Arnulf's time, but in 723 Charles had two of Drogo's sons “bound, Arnold [Arnulf] and another who died.” It doesn't say which son died or what happened to Arnulf or the surviving son (since Hugh, as mentioned, died later). Paladin only gives the names and reigns of contemporary dukes of that area, none of whom have names that can clearly be linked to Drogo or his sons, nor does it ever mention this episode. Fertile ground for storytelling, then! So, first off, a bit more background:

Drogo of Champagne was married to a certain Anstrudis (or Adaltrudis) somewhere in the late 680s/early 690s; she was the daughter of Waratto (d. 686), who served as Mayor of the Palace in Neustria and Burgundy. Waratto was temporarily ousted by his own son Gistemar, who died fighting for power over his father at some point, and after Waratto's death his successor, Anstrudis/Adaltrudis's first husband Berthar, went to war with Pepin of Herstal (father of both Drogo and Charles Martel) and fled after being defeated and then quarreling with and murdering his mother-in-law over the terms of the peace. Pepin then took over Neustria and Burgundy as Mayor of the Palace and wed Waratto's daughter to his oldest son, Drogo. It's important to note that Waratto's properties were mostly located in the vicinity of Rouen, and that Champagne was on the border between Neustria and Austrasia, reasonably close to Rouen (where, of course, Hugh eventually became archbishop as well as acquiring several monasteries); it might be that, without any male heirs (and the backing of Pepin of Herstal), Drogo was for all intents and purposes the heir of all Waratto's properties, so we could easily imagine some reasonably close connections between the ruling houses of Champagne and Normandy (or at least the County of Rouen) here, for further fun color. This marriage thus served to secure Pepin of Herstal greater power and connections in Neustria, but likely became seen as more of a liability during Charles Martel's reign.

My running idea, then: In 723, what happened was that Arnulf and either Gotfrid or Pippin were plotting against Charles, but the third brother and possibly also Hugh of Rouen revealed the plot, which led to the imprisonment of Arnulf and his brother and said brother's death in captivity. Arnulf himself, however, was either restored to his duchy or else was just forced to retire to a monastery in favor of a young heir who could be raised as a hostage. Hugh of Rouen was given charge of Fontanelle Abbey in 723 (and next year was also given the administration of the dioceses of both Paris and Bayeux), which we could spin as a reward for his loyalty, while the other brother was made the first Count of La Roche (probably at least in part to a.) guard against any further disloyalty from the House of Champagne, and b.) provide said house with a powerful “traitor” to focus all their enmity on rather than on Charles himself), and his son Drogo was the Drogo of La Roche given as Doon's grandfather. This probably requires some very young births for the math to work, admittedly, since Doon of La Roche was fathering illegitimate children as early as 733, but I think it adds some interesting possibilities.

For one, there's the obvious point that the House of Champagne likely despises their “traitorous” relatives in neighboring La Roche, or at least that there's a simmering feud that flares up at least once a generation. Additionally, remembering that Charles Martel died in 741 and Pepin and Carloman split the kingdom between themselves, with Carloman getting Austrasia, we could suppose that Pepin being the one to marry his sister to Doon (with Cologne as the dowry) the very next year was some calculated attempt to undermine the loyalty Doon should have owed to Carloman, perhaps as a reply to some similar attempt by Carloman to court their distant relatives in Champagne. Or, to make things much simpler, we could change things as written so that it was Carloman who married Olive to Doon to secure his borders (keeping in mind that La Roche is described as the strongest fortress in the Ardennes region in addition to being a border region, at least if we suppose that Champagne has come to be seen as a part of Neustria rather than a border between the two), rather than Pepin the Short.

So yeah, that's what I've got so far. Any thoughts/answers/corrections/etc. would be appreciated, as this is kind of new territory for me.

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It looks like there is one translation into modern french, and that's all. I found online the old french text, and it seems there is a spanish version of the same tale, Historia de Enrrique, fi de Oliva, where Enrrique is the spanish Landri, son of Olive. If you speak french or spanish...

On 7/11/2020 at 2:25 AM, Leingod said:

Alternatively/secondly, has anyone here read Doon de La Roche? If so, are there any details about Doon and/or his family given in the work itself? Like, does it ever detail what Doon did that saw him marrying Princess Olive, or any characterization for the likes of Geoffrey or Doon's cousins?

I read a complete resume of the song. Doon is a (poor) knight, with only a minor holding (La Roche). He served very valiantly the king Pepin many years in his wars, without any reward. Doon never complained, because of his loyalty for the king.

Olive is the sister of Pepin, a beautiful gentle maiden secretly in love with Doon. One day, the king Pepin heard some of his knights laughing about Doon, the best of them never receiving anything. The king became enraged, and decided to give to Doon the duchy of Lorraine, and the hand of his sister.

Curiously, the story of "Doon de la Roche" is much more about his son Landri. The characterization is usually very binary, good guys and traitors.

 

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9 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

It looks like there is one translation into modern french, and that's all. I found online the old french text, and it seems there is a spanish version of the same tale, Historia de Enrrique, fi de Oliva, where Enrrique is the spanish Landri, son of Olive. If you speak french or spanish...

I've probably taken a combined 4 years of Spanish classes from high school to college and still can't speak or read it for crap, unfortunately.

9 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

I read a complete resume of the song. Doon is a (poor) knight, with only a minor holding (La Roche). He served very valiantly the king Pepin many years in his wars, without any reward. Doon never complained, because of his loyalty for the king.

Olive is the sister of Pepin, a beautiful gentle maiden secretly in love with Doon. One day, the king Pepin heard some of his knights laughing about Doon, the best of them never receiving anything. The king became enraged, and decided to give to Doon the duchy of Lorraine, and the hand of his sister.

Curiously, the story of "Doon de la Roche" is much more about his son Landri. The characterization is usually very binary, good guys and traitors.

I see. I guess in Paladin he only had the castle of La Roche and maybe some surrounding lands, and it wasn't until Duke Thierry wants to give land to his half-brothers that it becomes the seat of an actual county of the same name?

Regardless, it means my potential "descendants of Drogo of Champagne" idea needs some reworking, unless maybe instead of the descendants of the brother who revealed the plot they're descended from the one who died in prison, who had a son raised as a hostage in court and became a knight, and that's how they got their start? Eh, maybe just drop that idea entirely, and if the idea of bad blood with Champagne is still going to be around, it can just be that it was Doon's father or grandfather learned about the plot, and the reward was a much more modest La Roche fiefdom than the county it is at the start of the story proper.

And yeah, even just reading the Cliff Notes version in the Family History section it definitely comes off as being much more Landri's story than Doon's. And I'm not surprised that a story where the evil son is named "Malingre" isn't going for deep, complex morality.

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Hello,

There is a version of the story of Doon, Olive and Landri in the English version of the Karlamagnus Saga: The saga of Charlemagne and his heroes (Toronto, 1980), chapter II. However, since it is no longer in print, you would probably have to look for it in a university library.

I like your "descendants of Drogo" idea very much!

Have fun,

Ruben

 

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