Aucassin and Nicolette Summary


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Count Bougars de Valence and Count Garin de Beaucaire are at war. Count Garin has one son, Aucassin, who is so smitten by love that he will neither accept the duties of knighthood nor participate in his father’s quarrel, unless his father consents to his love for Nicolette. She is a slave, bought by a captain of the town from the Saracens and reared as his own daughter. Count Garin agrees to the marriage of Aucassin to any daughter of a king or count but not to Nicolette. He goes to see the captain and tells him to send Nicolette away. The captain says that he will keep Nicolette out of sight, and she is imprisoned in the high chamber of a palace with an old woman to keep her company. Rumors speed through the countryside: Nicolette is lost; Nicolette fled the country; Nicolette was slain by order of Count Garin.

Meanwhile, the war between the two counts grows more fierce, but Aucassin still refuses to fight. Father and son then make a covenant: Aucassin will go into the battle, and if God wills that he should survive, the count must agree to allow him two or three words and one kiss from Nicolette. Aucassin rides into the fray, but thoughts of Nicolette so distract him that he is captured. Then Aucassin reflects that if he is slain, he will have no chance at all to see Nicolette. Therefore, he puts his hand on his sword and begins fighting with all of his strength. He kills ten knights, wounds seven, and takes Count Bougars prisoner. When Count Garin refuses to keep the covenant, Aucassin releases Count Bougars. Aucassin is cast into a dungeon.

Nicolette, knowing her companion to be asleep, escapes from her prison by a rope made of bed linen and goes to the castle where Aucassin lies. While they exchange lovers’ vows, the guards came searching for Nicolette, as her escape has been discovered. A friendly sentinel, however, warns Nicolette of their coming. She leaps into the moat and, bruised and bleeding, climbs the outer wall.

Nicolette falls asleep in a thicket near the castle. The next day, she sees some shepherds eating their lunch at a fountain nearby. She asks them to take a...

(The entire section is 867 words.)