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CHAPTER IV THE STORY OF HELYAS EARLY POETIC VERSIONS HPHE study of the story of Helyas takes us back to the period of the First Crusade. The stirring events of that time served as an inspiration for various poems, more or less historical in character, which celebrated the occurrences of the Crusade and the men who distinguished themselves in it. Some of these chansons de geste were evidently written by men who directly participated in the events or were witnesses of them. There are now in existence a few manuscripts containing a collection of poems, varying in authorship and in age, which, by reason of their union in the manuscripts and the affinity of their subjects, are known collectively under the title Le Roman du Chevalier au Cygne (The Romance of the Knight of the Swan). The separate poems which are comprised in this romance were not composed in the chronological order of the narrative, nor do they all exist in the exact form in which they were composed. Moreover, the manuscripts vary in their texts. It follows, therefore, that the internal evidence obtainable from the manuscripts themselves must be the main source from which their value and their age must be ascertained. It is unfortunate that the critical study of these manuscripts should thus far have been made only in a partial degree, so the available material is much less extensive than one could wish, and the examination of the subject is attended with much difficulty. There are at the present time in the libraries of Paris six manuscripts containing part or all of the work in its poetical form, viz., five in the Bibliotheque Nationale and one in the Bibliotheque de 1'Arsenal. The manuscripts in the first-named libraryare numbered as follows: 1621 formerly 7628 786 " 7190 795 " 7192 12558 " 5401 (su...