The Song of Roland Essay

Anonymous
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In the following essay, Ramey discusses such aspects of the epic as its basis in historical fact, as well as the national, political, religious, and racial biases of the anonymous author.

The oldest known epic in France, The Song of Roland, which dates from around 1100, bears traces of the battles that had taken place about 200 years earlier. While ostensibly telling the story of Charlemagne at Roncesvalles in 778, the events of The Song of Roland have been shifted into a contemporary setting, superimposing a long history of concerns about the Muslim upon the palpable fear of Muslim invasion that gripped France in Charles Martel's and Charlemagne's time. The historical basis of the battle, most likely a decimation of Charlemagne's rear guard in 778 by Basques, then in control of the mountains separating present-day France and Spain, is transformed to make it more understandable, even more tragic, for the early twelfth-century...

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This section contains 1,707 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Song of Roland Study Guide
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The Song of Roland from Epics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.