Although set in the Carolingian era , The Song of Roland was written much later. Some scholars estimate that the poem was written, possibly by a poet named Turold Turoldus in the manuscript itself , between approximately and , and most of the alterations were performed by about Some favor an earlier dating, because it allows one to say that the poem was inspired by the Castilian campaigns of the s, and that the poem went on to be a major influence in the First Crusade.
Those who prefer a later dating do so based upon what they interpret as brief references made in the poem to events of the First Crusade. In the poem, the term d'oltre mer or l'oltremarin comes up three times in reference to named Muslims who came from oltre mer to fight in Spain and France. The name was commonly used by contemporary chroniclers to refer to the Latin Levant . The occurrence of this term in the poem cannot be interpreted as showing influence from the Crusades in the poem; on the contrary, the way it is used in the poem, in which it is simply a Muslim land, indicates that the author of the poem was unacquainted with the Crusades, and that the term was in French before the Crusades began meaning the far side of the Mediterranean Sea.
The bulk of the poem is adjudged to date from before the Crusades which started in , but there are a few items where questions remain about these items being late additions shortly after the Crusades started. After two manuscripts were found in and , the Song of Roland became recognized as France's national epic when an edition was published in Certain lines of the Oxford manuscript end with the letters "AOI". The meaning of this word or annotation is unclear. Many scholars have hypothesized that the marking may have played a role in public performances of the text, such as indicating a place where a jongleur would change the tempo.
An alternate hypothesis by Nathan Love is that AOI indicates locations where the scribe or copyist deviated from the primary manuscript.
Song of Roland
Scholarly consensus has long accepted that The Song of Roland differed in its presentation depending on oral or textual transmission; namely, although a number of different versions of the song containing varying material and episodes would have been performed orally, the transmission to manuscript resulted in greater cohesiveness across versions.
Early editors of The Song of Roland , informed in part by patriotic desires to produce a distinctly French epic, could thus overstate the textual cohesiveness of the Roland tradition. This point is expressed by Andrew Taylor, who notes,  "[T]he Roland song was, if not invented, at the very least constructed. By supplying it with an appropriate epic title, isolating it from its original codicological context, and providing a general history of minstrel performance in which its pure origin could be located, the early editors presented a 4, line poem as sung French epic".
Charlemagne 's army is fighting the Muslims in Spain. They have been there for seven years, and the last city standing is Saragossa , held by the Muslim King Marsile.
Threatened by the might of Charlemagne's army of Franks , Marsile seeks advice from his wise man, Blancandrin , who councils him to conciliate the Emperor, offering to surrender and giving hostages. Accordingly, Marsile sends out messengers to Charlemagne, promising treasure and Marsile's conversion to Christianity if the Franks will go back to France. Charlemagne and his men, tired of fighting, accept his peace offer and select a messenger to Marsile's court.
The protagonist Roland , Charlemagne's nephew, nominates his stepfather Ganelon as messenger. Ganelon, who fears to be murdered by the enemy and accuses Roland of intending this, takes revenge by informing the Saracens of a way to ambush the rear guard of Charlemagne's army, led by Roland, as the Franks re-enter France through the mountain passes.
As Ganelon predicted, Roland leads the rear guard, with the wise and moderate Oliver and the fierce Archbishop Turpin.
The Muslims ambush them at Roncesvalles and the Christians are overwhelmed. Oliver pleads with Roland to blow his horn to call for help, but Roland tells him that blowing his horn in the middle of the battle would be an act of cowardice. If Roland continues to refuse, Oliver will not let Roland see his sister again whom Roland loves the most.
However, Archbishop Turpin intervenes and tells them that the battle will be fatal for all of them and so instructs Roland to blow his horn oliphant the word is an old alternative to "elephant", and was used to refer to a hunting horn made from an elephant tusk to call for help from the Frankish army. The emperor hears the call on their way to France. Charlemagne and his noblemen gallop back even though Count Ganelon tries to trick them.
Song of Roland Summary
The Franks fight well, but are outnumbered, until almost all Roland's men are dead and he knows that Charlemagne's army can no longer save them. Despite this, he blows his olifant to summon revenge, until his temples burst and he dies a martyr's death. Angels take his soul to Paradise. When Charlemagne and his men reach the battlefield, they find the dead bodies of Roland's men, who have been utterly annihilated.
They pursue the Muslims into the river Ebro , where the Muslims drown. Meanwhile, Baligant , the powerful emir of Babylon, has arrived in Spain to help Marsile. His army encounters that of Charlemagne at Roncesvalles, where the Christians are burying and mourning their dead. Both sides fight valiantly. When Charlemagne kills Baligant, the Muslim army scatters and flees, leaving the Franks to conquer Saragossa.
Roland - Myth Encyclopedia - story, names, famous, life, hero, king, trojan, warrior
On the other side, the men inside the castle of Viana were likewise arguing with one another on how best to end the stalemate. They, too, were tired of fighting against the King, and knew that their food supplies and provisions would soon run out. Indeed, they were already beginning to run low. So they very gladly agreed to the terms. Charlemagne and his advisors selected Charlemagne's valiant nephew Roland to represent the side of the King. Count Gerard selected his grandson, the formidable Oliver, to represent his interests. A signal was given.
The two knights put spurs to their horses and dashed toward each other with the fury of tigers and the speed of the wind. The long lances of each warrior shivvered as it struck the opposing shield, but neither opponent was moved from his place in his saddle. Quickly they dismounted and drew their swords.
For more than two hours, the two knights thrusted and parried, warding and striking, but neither gained an advantage over the other. At last however, Oliver's sword broke after striking Roland's helmet with a too-hearty blow. Oliver's shield, too, was split from top to bottom. Left with no weapon to defend himself, Oliver made up his mind to die fighting, and he stood ready to fight with his fists.
Roland was pleased to see such pluck. I may be the nephew to the King of France and his champion today, but great shame would be upon me were I to slay an unarmed man. Choose for yourself another sword and a more trusty shield, and meet me again as my equal. So Oliver bade his squires to bring him another sword from the castle, and Roland sat down upon the grass and rested. Three swords were ferried over to Oliver, and the knight chose one of them.
Roland rose from the grass and the fierce fight began again. Never were weapons wielded with greater skill. The sun rose high in the heavens, and still each knight stood firmly in his place, thrusting and parrying, striking and warding, and gaining no advantage over his foe. After a time, however, Roland struck his sword with such a force into Oliver's shield that he could not withdraw it.
Now it was Oliver's turn to face an unarmed enemy. Let us decide this matter hand to hand. Moved by the same thought, each snatched the other's helmet and lifted it from his head. At that moment they stood there, bareheaded and face to face. Perhaps it was something they recognized in one another's eyes, perhaps a ray of light settled down between them, but at once they rushed into one another's arms.
Great was the wonder of King Charlemagne and his advisors, and equally great was the astonishment of Oliver's kinsmen, the Vianese of Count Gerard's castle. Knights and warriors from both sides of the river hastened to cross to the island.
They were eager to know the meaning of conduct seemingly so unknightly. But when they came nearer they saw the men, who had fought each other so long and so valiantly, now standing hand in hand and pledging their faith as brothers-in-arms. And with one voice all joined in declaring that both were equally deserving of the victory.
Charlemagne's heart was touched by the spectacle. If you have harmed me, I freely forgive you. When Charlemagne's troops arrived, Roland and many of the bravest paladins were dead. At the end of the story, Charlemagne had Ganelon killed for his treachery. See also Charlemagne ; Heroes ; Paladins. Toggle navigation. Also read article about Roland from Wikipedia.
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