Composed of 4132 Alexandrines, the Aye d’Avignon narrates the marriage of the eponymous heroine to Garnier de Nanteuil. The story is prevented from coming to a swift, yet happy ending by Berengier, the son of Ganelon, who was thwarted by the King in his rivalry with Garnier and so therefore kidnaps Aye and takes her to Spain. In Spain war ensues over Aye’s hand between two Muslim leaders, Emir Ganor and King Marsile, until Garnier appears in disguise, aids Ganor, and returns Aye safely home. Although the traitorous forces at the court of Charlemagne succeed in killing Garnier, Aye gives birth to Gui and successfully converts Ganor, whose defeat of the Ganelon clan and conversion to Christianity prove him worthy of the widow Aye’s hand in marriage.
The life and deeds of Garnier and Aye’s son, Gui, are the subject of another epic, Gui de Nanteuil. Although the complete text survives in just a single manuscript, two fragments exist of Aye in French manuscripts from Italy, perhaps suggesting that there was once a Franco-Italian version, which has since been lost.
Venice, Biblioteca Marciana, Lat. XI
Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, 14635-37
Aye d’Avignon. Edited by S.J. Borg. Geneva: Droz, 1967.
Florence Callu-Turiaf, “Les versions franco-italiennes de la chanson d’Aye d’Avignon,” Mélanges d’archéologie et d’histoire de l’École Française de Rome 73 (1961), 391-435.
F. de Reiggenberg, “Fragment de poésie romane,” Bulletin de l’Académie Royale des Sciences et Belles Lettres de Bruzelles 8 (1841), 121-124.
See also Arlima.