French and Francophone Studies

The Société Internationale Rencesvals

The Société Internationale Rencesvals, founded in 1955, brings together scholars from all over the world in the study of the epic poetry of mediæval Europe.

The Society’s interests centre on epics written in the Romance languages, but with increasing attention being paid to adaptations and reflections, particularly of originally French material, in Middle English and Anglo-Norman, Franco-Italian, Dutch, German and the Scandinavian languages, and to later elaborations in Italy, Spain and the New World.

While traditional philological approaches have not been abandoned, there is a growing tendency to apply contemporary techniques of analysis to the epic, and to expand into comparative and interdisciplinary studies. The Society is thus the focus of a very wide range of scholarly activity.

Bulletin Bibliographique de la Société Rencesvals

The International Society publishes annually the Bulletin Bibliographique de la Société Rencesvals (BBSR) containing a critical bibliography of pertinent scholarship, a list of members and other items of interest to scholars working on the epic. BBSR also publishes a limited number of research articles. BBSR is available only through the Society, subscriptions being payable to national branches.

International congresses

The Société Internationale Rencesvals holds a major congress every three years, the most recent being the 21st International Congress in Toronto in August 2018.

The Société Internationale Rencesvals and the University of Edinburgh

The British Branch of the Société Internationale Rencesvals pour l’étude de l’épopée romane was one of the original branches of the Society when it was founded in 1955. Among the founder members, who constituted the original management committee, was Professor Duncan McMillan, who held the Chair of French Language and Romance Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh from 1955 to1980. He was also the first Chairman of the British Branch.

Dr Marianne Ailes, a graduate of Edinburgh University, and Professor emeritus Philip Bennett, who held the Chair of Medieval French Literature and Culture from 2008 to 2011, have both held the Presidency of the British Branch on two occasions. Dr Ailes has also served twice as Vice-President of the International Society and Professor Bennett was President of the Society from 2003 to 2006.

The twelfth international congress of the Society was held at the University of Edinburgh in August 1991, its proceedings published in Edinburgh under the title Charlemagne in the North in 1993. The collection British Rencesvals Publications, publishing editions and studies of material related to epic poetry, has likewise been published in Edinburgh and printed by the University of Edinburgh’s Printing Services since its inception in 1995.

The University’s Faculty Group of Arts and Social Sciences (now CAHSS) and School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures have in turn generously hosted the British Branch Website over the last twenty years.


British Branch

The British Branch is one of the founder branches of the Society. It holds its own regular colloquia and has previously hosted three international congresses. The Branch also publishes its own annual newsletter and has its own publications series, British Rencesvals Publications. 

Find out more about the British Branch, its events and publications