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The Song of Roland

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Matt Aprahamian

on 16 December 2013

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Transcript of The Song of Roland

-oldest surviving French epic

-composed sometime in 11th century

- Unknown author

- Gained massive popularity
between 12th and 14th centuries
Main Characters
The Situation
-Charlemagne's army is fighting the
Muslims in Spain

-Saragossa is the last city standing

-Marsilla is terrified of the Franks and sends a peace offering

-Charlemagne accepts offer
because he's tired of fighting
The Traitor
The Trial of Ganelon
The Battle of Roncevaux (cont.)
-Baligant arrives with his huge
Muslim army to back up Marsilla

-the Christians defeat them, so Baligant retreats to Saragossa

-Charlemagne personally kills
Baligant... Marsilla dies of grief
when he sees this

-all Muslims must convert
or die
-Charlemagne needs a messenger

-Roland nominates Ganelon

-Ganelon is very angry at Roland...he wants revenge

-Roland tells the Saracens to ambush the
rear guard of the Franks,
where Roland
would be
The Song of Roland
-Oldest known
Chanson de Geste (French for "Heroic song of deeds")

-4,004 lines long

-298 laisses

-laisses = stanzas of irregular length
Time Period
-took place during the rule of Charlemagne
(771-813 A.D.)

-the Christians were in a war with the Muslims

-based on the Battle of Roncevaux- August 15, 778 A.D.
-742-814 A.D.

-King of the Franks

-Ruler of most of
Western Europe from
-Charlemagne's nephew

-Skillful and extremely
bold warrior

-The hero of the story
-Roland's step-father


-Causes the Battle of
-the pagan king of

-Emir of Babylon

-Controls a huge
Muslim army

-He is killed by Charlemagne (spoiler alert)
by Matt Aprahamian
The Attack!
& Army
-the Muslims ambush Roland and the rear guard

-Roland is aware that he is very outnumbered, but refuses to blow his horn and call for help

-When he realized that they were defeated, Roland blew his horn so hard that his temples burst, and he died
The Battle of Roncevaux
-Charlemagne and the rest of the army arrive at Roncevaux

-they mourn the loss of their men (the whole rear guard died) and then go after Marsilla

-the Franks chase the Saracens
into the river Ebro, where most
of the army drowns
Thierry vs. Pinabel
-a man named Thierry argues that because Roland was serving Charlemagne when Ganelon delivered his revenge on him, Ganelon's action constitutes a betrayal of the emperor

-Ganelon's friend, Pinabel, challenges Thierry to trial by combat

-with divine intervention, Thierry, the weaker man, wins the duel against Pinabel
-Charlemagne gathers a council to serve as a jury for Ganelon's trial

-Ganelon tries to argue that he was just trying to get revenge on Roland and didn't commit treason

& army
The Gladiator
Full transcript