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Epischer Renaut alias heiliger Reinoldus im Lichte einer Radiocarbon-Datierung


Gustav Adolf Beckmann

Nicht, wie man annahm, aus dem 11. oder frühen 12., sondern laut Radiocarbon-Datierung aus dem 7. oder frühen 8. Jahrhundert stammt die Dortmunder Reliquie des Hl. Reinold, also des epischen Renaut de Montauban. Damit muss die Vor- und Frühgeschichte sowohl des berühmten Epos als auch der parallelen, zwar weniger bekannten, aber ebenfalls faszinierenden Heiligenlegende neu durchdacht werden.

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‘The epic Renaut, alias Saint Reinold, in the light of radiocarbon dating’

Towards the end of the 20th century, many scholars assumed that the Dortmund Reinold relics were the remains of a person from the 11th or early 12th century. Consequently, the Reinold legend would have to be a pious fraud. This view, however, became untenable in 1999, when C-14 radiocarbon dating was used on the main relic. Within a realistic, sufficiently broad interpretation of the method, the measurement of the relic resulted in a date range including the death date (from 720 to about 750) which the ‘traditionalist’ theory (as established by Longnon) ascribes to the eponymous hero of Renaut de Montauban. This suggests that the ‘hagiographical’ and the ‘epic’ Reinold are one and the same person (a view against which in any case no valid argument has ever been forwarded), and it largely offsets the central weakness of the Longnon theory, namely the lack of historical evidence for the protagonist.

There is sparse but coherent evidence of the hagiographical tradition from the 10th century onwards, first in Cologne, later also in Dortmund. The version we have today in the form of the Latin prose legend was probably written down in the 13th century in Dortmund.

This version starts off by following the epic tradition and situating the hero in a large family which is part of the inner circle around Charles (certainly Charlemagne), but thereafter it is not interested in his worldly...

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