Song of Roland

what are the realities and fantasies in the Song of Roland?


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The historical context of the poem therefore straddles several centuries, and to properly understand the poem we must bear in mind its rich historical background. The poem is a legendary account with some basis in reality: in 778, the rearguard of Charlemagne's army was slaughtered in the Roncesvalles (old French: Rencesvals) pass of the Pyrenees mountains. Accounts from this dark period of European history are always problematic, but the most reliable European account of the event comes from Einhard, Charlemagne's own biographer. Those familiar with the events of the poem will notice several divergences between the poem and history. For one thing, the adversaries of the poem are Saracens (called also in the poem "pagans"), not Basque natives. And while Einhard's account mentions Roland, the other chief characters of the poem are missing. According to Einhard, revenge was not possible, but in the poem Charlemagne seeks out an immediate and satisfying revenge that also completes his conquest of Spain. You can check out more at: