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Volume Twelve - Pre-Victorian to the Present Day - further aspects - Random Rants, Notes and Articles No.2 . . .

ROBERT COURTE-BOTTE - Biographers have hitherto spoken of Robert Courie-Boite only in political terms. None of them even seems to have known that, companion and leader of these knights who left for the crusade and themselves sang of their exploits, Robert was a poet and composed verses to deplore his own misfortunes.

It is however what made it place, like Richard Cæur-de-Lion, by the historians of the old poetry, with the number of finds. Robert II, Duke of Normandy, better known as Courte-Heuse, or Courte-Botte, or even Courte-Cuisse, was so named because he had one leg shorter than the other, and not, as we claimed, because he went to the crusade with holes in his boots.

Before being proclaimed Duke of Normandy, this prince raised the standard of revolt against his father William the Conqueror. It was on this occasion, according to several scholars, that a partisan of his father would have composed against him the novel of Robert-le-Diable, of which an edition is being prepared for us at the moment.

According to the Benedictines, on the contrary, the composition of this book would date from the captivity of Robert (1106 to 1134), and would have taken place to flatter the hatred of his brother Henry who held him prisoner.

Neither of these two opinions seems to us to be justified. A thorough reading of the Robert-le-Diable manuscript did not reveal anything that could apply to Robert Courte-Heuse.

Besides, if this work dated back to as remote a time as that assigned to it, our libraries would probably possess some of the original copies. Now, the oldest that we have do not go further than the thirteenth century.

Having become sovereign of Normandy on the death of his father in 1087, Robert could not see without displeasure the kingdom of England passing into the hands of his younger brother, Guillaume-le-Roux.

He declared war on him, and sought to excite discontent among the lords of his obedience. Some time later, however, the two brothers made peace and united their armies to besiege Mont Saint-Michel, where another of their brothers, Henri, had retired.


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