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Song of Roland

Song of Roland

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Published by Paw Victoria
epic of france
epic of france

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Published by: Paw Victoria on Aug 25, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/27/2014

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Chanson de Roland
I
INTRODUCTION
Chanson de Roland 
, epic poem, probably written in the 12th century, attributed by many to Norman poet Turold. Translatedinto English as
The Song of Roland 
, it is the earliest and most popular of the French
chansons de geste
(songs of greatdeeds).
Chanson de Roland 
recounts the heroic actions of Roland, the nephew and a favorite knight of Charlemagne, whowas king of the Franks from 768 to 814 and emperor of the Romans from 800 to 814. The poem survives in seven completemanuscripts. The oldest of these, dated to the mid-1100s, is located in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford inEngland.
II
THE STORY 
Chanson de Roland 
is composed in stanzas of irregular length, designed to be sung by a minstrel. The song opens with thestory of Roland’s boyhood and his adventures at Charlemagne’s court and ends with an account of Charlemagne's warsagainst the Saracens. When the French army returns from fighting in Spain, Roland is in charge of the troops at the rear.Roland’s stepfather, Ganelon, nurses a deep grudge against him and conspires with Marsilion, the Saracen king of Saragossa,to betray Roland and his forces to the enemy. The Saracens attack them at the pass of Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees, wherethe French fight valiantly but against overwhelming odds.Roland possesses a horn, called Oliphant, which has supernatural powers, but during the battle he delays blowing the horn tosummon help. Charlemagne, finally summoned by the call of Roland's horn, arrives too late to save Roland and his comradesbut destroys the remaining Saracens at the Ebro River. He then leads his army against the forces of Baligant, the emir of Babylon and ally of King Marsilion. Baligant is defeated and slain, and Ganelon is led home to Aix-la-Chapelle, France, wherehe is tried, condemned, and put to death.
III
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND AUTHORSHIP
The heroic legend told in
Chanson de Roland 
is based on fact. According to historical documents, on August 15, 778,Charlemagne was returning to France after being stopped in an attempt to capture the city of Zaragoza in what is nownorthern Spain. While Charlemagne’s forces were strung out in a pass over the Pyrenees, the Basques attacked andplundered them. Roland, one of Charlemagne’s officers, was killed in the fighting.
Death of Roland
The Chanson de Roland (Song of Roland) is an epicFrench poem that tells the heroic adventures of theknight Roland. On his return from fighting theSaracens in Spain, Roland is killed in battle. The epicwas probably written in the 12th century. Thisilluminated manuscript from the 14th century is in theMarciana Library in Venice, Italy.Giraudon/Art Resource, NY

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