Figure 1. Charlemagne finds Roland dead. Wikipedia contributors. "The Song of Roland." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 23 Apr. 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2012.

In The Song of Roland, after the battle ends several important things occur. Charlemagne has his men completely destroy Saragossa and its art and religious iconography (The Song of Roland 109). Not only the traitor Ganaleon but also, because the poem was written in an honor/shame society, thirty of his relatives are put to death (The Song of Roland 118). Bramimunde, the wife of the Saracen King, is baptised and renamed Julianne (The Song of Roland 119). The reader is made to feel that France is safe and that positive things are going to be happening for Charlemagne. Finally, and most importantly, however, Charlemagne is visited by the Angel Gabriel who instructs him to “summon all the force of your Empire and enter the land of Bire by the force of arms, and rescue King Vivien, for the pagans have laid siege to him in the city of Imphe, and the Christians there are pleading and crying out for you” (The Song of Roland 119). Just after losing a large force in Roncesvalles, Charlemagne is called on another campaign. The 200 year old Charlemagne replies, “my life is a burden!” and weeps after hearing this (The Song of Roland 119).

After the actual Battle of Roncesvalles, very little happened, or rather, we know about very little that happened. The battle was “not even mentioned in the Royal Annals, and for shame the whole Spanish campaign was omitted, but everyone knew what had happened” (Heer 108). We do know, however, that Charlemagne was “prevented by events in Saxony from seeking revenge” and distracted at home with a famine “partly caused by the absence of so many on campaign during the harvest” (Heer 114). Charlemagne spent the next 25 years in Saxony before the campaign was finished (Lewis 262). Since “Charlemange was engaged in almost constant battle throughout his reign” nothing more ever seems to have come of the situation (Wikipedia contributors). The Song of Roland has, however, stayed popular despite the historical obscurity of its origins.


Works Cited

Heer, Friedrich. Charlemagne and his World. New York: Macmillian Publishing Co., 1975. Print.

Lewis, David Levering. God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570 – 1215. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Inc., 2008. Print.

The Song of Roland. Trans. W.S. Merwin. New York: Modern Library, 2001. Print.

Wikipedia contributors. “Charlemagne.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 Apr. 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2012.

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