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Bayard and Charlemagne

In 2020 there will be a celebration of Bayard the horse in Dendermonde (Belgium).
"Charlemagne: A European Icon" is a network project examining the ways in which the different linguistic cultures of medieval Europe appropriated Charlemagne material from chronicle and epic.
The project will produce seven volumes, which will be published in the Bristol Studies in Medieval Cultures Series, and there will be a range of additional features on the website https://www.charlemagne-icon.ac.uk.
The study has included work on the Bayard and four sons of Aymon tradition.
The legends of Charlemagne were very popular in medieval England and there is some evidence of particular interest in the Midlands area. The story of Renaud and Bayard circulated in French verse. French was an important language among the elite in England during the Middle Ages, but
there is no evidence of it in English before 1489 when it was translated by the pioneering English printer William Caxton.

There is no Bayard horse in Bristol, but the Walsall Leather Museum has its Bayard’s Colts, a collection of 17 staffs which have intrigued people for centuries. The current ‘Colts’ probably date from around the 17th century but the tradition relating to them goes back further than this.
Some of the staffs have carved heads (horses, men, devilish monsters, a lamb), while others end in weapons. They were used in ceremonial processions until the mid-19th century.
Learn more on the website http://www.charlemagne-icon.ac.uk/.

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