The Song of Roland: Insight Into Another World
The Tune of Roland: Insight Into Another World Historians have now been able to date the first manuscripts of The Song of Roland as far back as the 11th century CE (1060 CE)- to be more specific, 1130 CE. However, some historians have dated the poem itself back to 1060 CE, however the most extensively accepted date has actually been 1098 CE. If you take a look into the historical occasions of this time, you will see that, by this time the First Crusade- which began in 1096 CE and ended in 1098 CE- was over however through this impressive poem the suitables and the concepts of that time resided on.
Through this impressive poem we are, up until this day, able to attest to the values that were present in the life of the author. Although we have no concrete proof that leads us to understanding of who the author truly was it is believed that, since of the reference to Turoldus in stanza 298 (“Here ends the story that Turoldus relates), he is the author. Nevertheless, The Song of Roland can now be viewed as a remarkable historic document that enables us much insight into what life was like for the author.
We have the ability to comprehend the lots of political, social, and cultural worths that stood during that time. There are numerous parallels that the author seems to have established in between the suitables of those that existed in the late 8th century (the setting of the poem) and the perfects that existed in the 11th and 12th centuries (the time of the author’s life). It appears as though the author deliberately establishes those similarities so that the fight in The Song of Roland, and the story behind it, represents that of the First Crusade (1096-1098) of the 11th century.
In Verse 278, Ganelon says that Oliver has actually “betrayed the twelve peers for cash.” This is simply as Judas had betrayed Christ and the 12 apostles for 30 pieces of silver. If you go back to Verse 111 you will also see that when Roland dies “at high noon, a terrific darkness gathers; there is light just when the sky is lease.” This scene is annoyingly similar to the scene of Christ is death. This clearly sets up the truth that Christian beliefs had a considerable function in the life of the author.
Throughout the book we continuously see evidence that leads us to think that God and prayer are extremely crucial things. For example, when Charlemagne wakes up early in the morning, he listens to the prayers of the “mass and matins” (Verse 11). However, it is not only in the king’s life that we see God’s presence but we also see it in the lives of all the knights. In Stanza 293, we see the occurrence of the “trial by battle.” The concept behind this “trial” is that the knight that wins the battle is innocent.
He is thought to be innocent by all due to the fact that God “has performed a wonder” (Verse 293) and God has actually ordained him his victory. This also ties into the fact that we can see how active they believe God remains in their lives. In more than one case we see that, not only commoners and vassals, however also Charlemagne himself looks for God’s aid. In Stanza 289 Charlemagne asks God to “make justice shine forth.” The significance of the belief in Christianity and its principles is likewise apparent in the belief that everybody else, likewise referred to as the “pagans,” are all incorrect; that indicates their ways and their beliefs.
In Verse 79 Roland states that “the pagans are incorrect and the Christians are right.” This reveals just how set Roland was on his belief that Christianity was the only method. Throughout this poem, there is a considerable focus that is strongly placed on the value of commitment and honor in the relationships that lie in the social hierarchy of that time. It seems as though the author has an extremely strong belief in the notion that without commitment in between men, there will be no trust in between them. More significantly, without that trust between guys, peace will disappear.
We are very conscious of this belief due to the fact that, in one case, when Ganelon plots to eliminate Roland (in Stanzas 43 and 44) and he breaks the bond of loyalty and trust between them, Ganelon winds up being brutally beaten by commoners. It is not even that he is beaten by his fellow lords or vassals, but by the very individuals that hold a lesser rank than him. To, rather literally, add insult to injury the commoners “pluck out his beard and his moustache” (Stanza 137). By doing this they remove the extremely sign of his title as a knight.
Simply as the honor that originates from a vassal satisfying his responsibilities appears in The Tune of Roland, the honor that lies in a warrior fulfilling his commitments, his life and his death are likewise continuously portrayed in this legendary poem. We continue to repeatedly see proof in the text of the honor it was believed a vassal would get when satisfying his duties as a vassal. When Oliver asked Roland to blow the oliphant and call upon Charlemagne and the rest of the army to come assist them, Roland declines. Roland states, “That would be an act of folly; throughout the fair land of France I must lose my good name” (Verse 83).
It is obvious that Roland did not wish to appear weak. He did not want it to seem as though he was giving up. Roland was willing to stubbornly pass away then to quit his honor. As Roland is passing away in Stanza 176, we see that Saint Gabriel “bears the counts soul to paradise.” This reveals the belief that, ultimately, the great honor in fulfilling your responsibilities as a vassal and/or lord will offer you the best reward of all: paradise. Throughout this text, the political values of the 11th and 12th centuries are extremely clear.
In The Tune of Roland, the structure of the Feudal System that is occurring is clearly represented. We know that Feudalism was developed on the financial system of Manorialism. The only distinction is that Feudalism’s main focus depends on the relationship between a lord and his vassal, whereas Manorialism has a higher focus on the real relationship between the lords and their peasants. On various events Charlemagne hires his vassals to encourage him on varies matters, such as whether he should believe Marsile’s claims and perform his needs (Verses 11-15).
We see that the vassals should secure the lords and we likewise witness the traditional practice of the lord offering a fief (gift of some sort- usually land) to his vassal; simply as Roland received his “great sword, which was a present from the king” (Stanza 88). Time and time once again we likewise continue to see the value of a vassal’s commitment to his lord. Just among many examples lies in Stanza 88 when Roland says, “For his lord a vassal should suffer excellent difficulties and endure both fantastic heat and great cold; he needs to likewise part with flesh and blood. Count Gautier agrees with Roland in Stanza 64 when he states “I am Roland’s vassal, I need to not fail him.” The relationship in between the lords and their vassals is a relationship that is undeniably mutual. Despite the fact that very same relationship is one that has shown to be unfamiliar and uncharacteristic of our lives today, through this poem we can still see, and clearly understand, that without one part of the relationship the other can not grow or succeed.
Without the vassals fighting for the lord it is apparent that, since of the way the system is structured, the lords would have absolutely nothing- no land and definitely no power. Throughout Verse 172, Roland proudly extols all the land he defended, and won, for Charlemagne. By his descriptions we can tell that, without all of Roland’s assistance, Charlemagne would never have had the ability to have actually conquered so much land. This is what also shows us that the lords of that time really did not have that much power.
We understand that they do have some power due to the fact that in Stanza 18 Roland volunteers himself to go to Saracen but Charlemagne rejects him. He had the power to say no to him. Nevertheless, in Stanza 61, when Ganelon goes on to nominate Roland for the rearguard, it practically appears as though Charlemagne can not state no. It is apparent that he does not approve of Roland handling this task since he goes as far as calling Ganelon a devil for even making such a vindictive recommendation.
It holds true that Charlemagne stood in tears prior to them all however still, Charlemagne enables Roland to go- as though he had no choice however to agree. In addition to The Song of Roland being a terrific and wonderful story, it is now apparent that it can also be deemed a very enlightening historic document. With taking a closer look and examining the text we can see that there is a lot of extremely important information that can be ascertained.
We see that the most important social and cultural belief held by the individuals of the 11th and 12th century is that Christianity is ideal and all the pagans are incorrect. God has a very active function in the author’s life. The value of loyalty, trust, and honor is likewise highlighted as we witness the social hierarchy of the Feudal System of that time. The responsibilities a lord needs to his vassal and vice versa is highly linked in this epic poem. We see the effects of honoring that responsibility and betraying it.