Doce Pares de Francia

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Doce Pares sa Francia (Twelve Peers of France) is an anonymous Philippine metrical romance (awit at corrido) based on France’s legend of King Charlemagne and his twelve peers.


The story is an extended account of the exploits of King Charlemagne and his twelve peers which revolves around four episodes: (1) Charlemagne’s recovery of Jerusalem from the Moors and Patriarch Aaron’s gift of Christ’s crown of thorns to Charlemagne in gratitude for his help; (2) Charlemagne campaign against the Turks under Balan, highlighting the combat between Fierabras and Oliver, the capture of Oliver and the other peers, the romantic episode of Floripes and Gui de Borgoña, and the final defeat of Balan; (3) Charlemagne’s campaign in Spain against the Moors launched at the order of St. James the Apostle who appeared to the king in a dream; and (4) the last and fatal battle in Roncesvalles where all the peers die because of the treachery of Galalon.


A study of Doce Pares de Francia in relation its foreign sources and analogues noted similarities and differences in the narrative (Eugenio, Awit and Corrido: Philippine Metrical Romances). Parts 2, 3, and 4 of the plot of Doce Pares are faithful metrical depiction of the tenth to the last chapter of the Spanish Historia del Emperador Carlo Magno, a prose translation of the French poem Fierabras which correspond to the English romances: The Sowdone of Babylone (the second half), “Sir Firumbras,” “Roland and Vernagu,” and “The Song of Roland.” No analogue was found for part 1, Charlemagne’s recovery of Jerusalem from the Moors in response to the appeal of the Patriarch Aaron , and for the opening episodes of part 2, which describes the first meeting of Gui de Borgoña and Floripes and the encounter in Rome of the nine peers with the Turkish forces under the command of Corsubel. Few and minor modification were made by the Philippine poet in the Historia such as the dates the death of Roldan and Charlemagne which are two centuries off the mark: June 26, 1010 (Historia: June 26, 810) for Roldan, and February 16, 1012 (Historia: February 811; Turpin, February 5, 814) for Charlemagne.

Doce Pares is an important Philippine metrical romance as it is one of the most popular in the 19th century, was modified and expanded by the Philippine poet. Juan Atayde, in his article Theaters of Manila, refers to Philippine metrical romances which had been distorted and augmented by their poets to complement Philippine folklore and wished that the language of these romances be studied by Filipino scholars (Atayde, Theaters of Manila, p. 70-74). Doce Pares, as a Philippine romance which was reworked could be one of the romances that Atayde refers to, the language of which Filipino scholars today need to study for its cultural and artistic value.

The Philippine Versions

Doce Pares de Francia has versions in different Philippine languages: Tagalog (Manila: P. Sayo, 1947, 122 pages), Pampango (Manila:[Philippine Book Company, 1951, 125 pages), Bicol (two editions: Naga City: Cecilio Press, no date and Nueva Caceres: Imprenta y Libreria Mariana, 1926), and Hiligaynon (Iloilo: La Panayana]], 1934). (Appendix A, “Master List of Philippine Metrical Romances” (Eugenio, Awit and Corrido: Philippine Metrical Romance, p. 325). There is no Ilocano version while there are two Pampango versions (however, the Master List has only one Pampango version while it has two editions of the Bicol romance). The Pampango versions is interesting because while one version, like the Bicol and Hiligaynon, faithfully retells the Tagalog version, the other Pampango version admitted intrusions from other romances: Doncella Teodora, Bernardo Carpio, Conde Irlos, and Gonzalo de Cordoba.

There are two Tagalog versions. One, with the title Salita at Buhay ng Doce Pares sa Francia na Kampon ng Emperador Carlo Magno hangga nang Ipagkanulo ni Galalon na Nangapatay sa Roncesvalles (The Life of the Twelve Peers in France, the Followers of Emperor Charlemagne until they were Betrayed by Galalon and Killed in Roncesvalles), the version studied by Dr. Eugenio. The another, listed in the ''Checklist of Philippine Linguistics in the Newberry Library.'', has the same title but varies only in spelling: Salita at buhay nang doce pares sa Francia campon nang Emperador Carlo Magno hanging sa ipagcanulo ni Galalong mapatay sa Roncesvalles. It is undated, in 155 pages with Amigos del Pais as its probable publisher. This is bound with a manuscript version translated by Emiliano Navarrete with the title page: Corrido de los doce pares de Francia, con su traduccion Española. Manila, 1887. 430 p. (Ms. 1735).


  • Atayde, Juan. “The Theaters of Manila,” translated by Concepcion Rosales and Doreen

Fernandez in Philippine Studies, Vol. 30 / First Quarter 1982. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1982.

  • Eugenio, Damiana L. Awit and Corrido: Philippine Metrical Romances. Quezon City, Philippines: University of the Philippine Press. 1987.
  • Welsh, Doris Varner. Checklist of Philippine Linguistics in the Newberry Library. Chicago,

Illinois: The Newberry Library, 1950.



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