Charbonnier est maître chez soi: ""The collier is master in his own house."" This French saying finds its most literal expression in The Tale of Charlemagne and Ralph the Collier, a 15th-century Middle Scots romance about the adventures that ensue when King Charlemagne, separated from his entourage by a blizzard, seeks refuge in the home of a proud and irascible collier. Combining folktale motifs with burlesque humor and elements of chansons and chivalric romances, The Tale of Charlemagne and Ralph the Collier is a lively but little-read story of medieval courtesy, hospitality, and knighthood.
This translation, the first into modern English, emulates the 75 thirteen-line rhyming, alliterative stanzas of the original. Light annotations, a brief introduction, and a bibliography help introduce modern readers to this strange and entertaining romance that W.R.J. Barron dubbed ""technically and creatively the best of the English texts on the Matter of France.""