In the medieval times, epic poems were transferred from generation to generation by mouth. They were formed as longer stories in verses that described historical events. In this case, we have a Spanish historical event.
The history is here represented by a Christian and moral way following the knight virtues that can be found in feudal societies.
In France, the first poems of this kind came to life from the 11th till the 13th century and their plot is set in the time between 8th and 9th century during the regency of Carlo The Great.
The authors gave a special meaning to the characters and events that they did not have because they wanted to show their opinions. That is why Carlo and his knights are a symbol of Christianity in their struggles against the non-believers.
Today we can say for the fact that the people wrote these poems. The feudal society wanted to read the poems that concerned only themselves, their struggles, and the glory of the feudal system.
The new audience gave their support to the musician and travelers who started to bring old heroes and knights back to life. Also through these poems, people were showing their support to the Crusade.
The epic poems were performed during the Crusade with a musical background. They were meant to build the knight’s faith and loyalty to God. They were performed in castles and fairs.
Later on, through the 14th and 15th century the poems were read instead of performed. Because of that verse went out of use in this poems.
The themes were linked to the heroes who represent their family. Most of them glorify one family, their struggles, and victories.
At the beginning of the 13th century the poems were divided into three knight cycles. The first one was about Carlo the Great, the second one served as a role model to feudal loyalty, and the last one is about the knight Doon and the theme of rebellion. We can notice that in every cycle we have a hero.
“The Song of Roland” is the oldest and most significant poem in France. The original is saved in Oxford, and it was made between 1125 and 1250. It is based on a northwest French version.
There aren’t much information about the author and we don’t know his name. All we know is that the last verse talks about a poem writer Turold. In the poem, we have the traditional oral epic, and we can tell that the writer was a well educated Christian.
Throughout history, there weren’t much information about Roland and the base for this poem we can thank Einhard, the biographer of Carlo the Great. He describes the events from 778 a few years later in 830.
He tells a story about the success of Carlo the Great and his military in Spain and the danger he went through in the col Roncevaux were the French were robbed and held captive by the Basque. Among the hostages, there is mention of a particular Count Roland, and there is no more mention of him until the 11th century. This story was mentioned in 1070 in a monastery chronic in the north part of Spain. Among the victims, there was Roland, Oliver, Bertram and Ogier Short-Sword. It is believed that the Saracens were their attackers. Saracens were not better in the fight, and they can thank their win to the betrayal of the knight Ganelon.
In the epic interpretation, Roland is the favorite knight and nephew of Carlo the Great that has about 200 years. The author gave Roland and imaginary friend Oliver to describe him better.
The warfare of Carlo the Great lasted for seven years. He had everything except Saragossa. The king of Saracens was on the edge of failure, and he was trying to find a way out of this situation and have some peace. He tricked the French and Carlo the Great with an offer, and Roland was the only one who doubted his offer and asked for the war to continue. His stepfather Ganelon judged him for that.
Ganelon was angry because he had to go to the enemies and make a negotiation and he promised to himself that he would take his revenge against Roland. Even though he showed his loyalty to Carlo the Great, he betrayed him. He suggested that Roland should be in charge of the army.
When the Saracens attacked them in Roncevaux and defeated them, Roland gave a sign to Carlo the Great to take his revenge.
After Roland had died, Carlo the Great killed all the Saracens to avenge his nephew. When Alda, Roland’s fiancée, found out about his death she died herself.
After Roland died, in the second part of the poem, we can see the victories of Carlo the Great. The praising of his power and the power of his army only shows that his strength lies in the faith in God. God helped him with angel Gabriel.
‘’The song of Roland’’ is made of 290 verses that are not the same length. The poem has 4000 verses. The author used decasyllabic.
The author was realistic in his descriptions of the fights and events. He dedicated a lot of his attentions to the descriptions of clothes, weapons and military camps. In the col Roncevaux, the author described the rocks as a sign of bad luck.
The plot is simple, and the events are set in chronological order.
Roland – main character. He is always shown with a horn Olifant. It was supposed to serve him in times of need when he needed to call for help. It is important to emphasize that he used the horn when it was too late. He did not want to seem like a coward who called for help every time something happened. During the whole poem, he is in a constant confrontation with his friend Oliver. Roland has many virtues such as courage, determination and Oliver hold a grunge against him because of that. He thought that Roland should be more careful.
Ganelon – traitor perpetuated as Judas. He is Roland’s stepfather, and he can’t stand him. Their hostility becomes a confrontation, Ganelon’s treason and the death of Roland.
Carlo the Great – Roland was his nephew, and he loved him a lot. He avenged his death. At the end of the poem, he is shown as a great general that is revengeful while he was shown in previous poems as a weak and old king with no significant initiative to make important choices. His belief in God is great.