“The count Roland, beneath a pine he sits,;
Turning his eyes towards Spain, he begins
Remembering so many divers things:
So many lands where he went conquering,
And France the Douce, the heroes of his kin,
And Charlemagne, his lord who nourished him.
Nor can he help but weep and sigh at this.
But his own self, he's not forgotten him,
He owns his faults, and God's forgiveness bids:
"Very Father, in Whom no falsehood is,
Saint Lazaron from death Thou didst remit,
And Daniel save from the lions' pit;
My soul in me preserve from all perils
And from the sins I did in life commit!"
His right-hand glove, to God he offers it
Saint Gabriel from's hand hath taken it.
Over his arm his head bows down and slips,
He joins his hands: and so is life finish'd.
God sent him down His angel cherubin,
And Saint Michael, we worship in peril;
And by their side Saint Gabriel alit;
So the count's soul they bare to Paradis.”
-An account of the death of Roland in the Song of Roland.
On this day in 778, King Charlemagne’s nephew Roland died at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass. Historically he was slain by men of the Basque, but this was changed in the later medieval retelling in the Song of Roland to the Saracens. This happens to be one of my favorite works of literature and I throughly enjoy Roland’s story, even though much of it is fiction.
Pictured is an Oliphant horn from the collection at Aachen Cathedral which dates to the same time as the actual event. An instrument like this plays a crucial role the Song of Roland narrative.
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