Values of Feudalism in “The Song of Roland”

The French legendary The Tune of Roland (ca. 1100) loudly echoes the feudal worths of its time. As it describes the transformation of France into a Christian nation united by loyalties to the king and country, the impressive embodies the spirit of loyalty between a lord to his vassal. Although “Aucassin and Nicolette” is also a confidential piece composed in the same French vernacular at around the same point, it seems to be relocating an alternate direction. As a middle ages love, it likewise describes the same feudal society, yet appears to treat the circumstance more satirically. However, regardless of the satire in “Aucassin and Nicolette”, it stays along with The Song of Roland as a chronicle of the age of feudalism, and therefore both strengthen values promoted at the time.

By the twelfth century, feudalism, which began in France during the eighth and ninth centuries under Charlemagne, had actually caught the governmental principles of much of Europe, consisting of England, the Holy Roman Empire, Spain, Sicily and Byzantium. The Feudal system altered according to time and location, yet abided by the 2 primary principles of warfare and land. The lord and the vassal swore loyalty (fealty) to each other, and hence the feudal ties relationships of loyalty and mutual trust were developed. The lesser warrior-landholder (the vassal) would make sure a personal army to the greater warrior-landholder (the lord) in exchange for private security and land (fief) which was guaranteed as genetic ownership if all pledges were met. Even land held by the Church was considered feudal land, and archbishops, bishops and abbots were granted fiefs in exchanged for their mutual loyalty with the dukes, princes and kings. The relationship in between the lords of specific countries to their rulers mirrored this model, and the feudal queen was thought about holy and divinely picked.

The Song of Roland resonates with the feudal worths that typified Europe at the time of its structure. Roland, the excellent warrior, is the perfect vassal to his lord, the emperor Charlemagne, the head of the Holy Roman Empire, responsible for safeguarding and expanding Christendom. Charlemagne, “two a century old”(l. 539), is described as nearly god-like, showing his divine status as the feudal king of “sweet France, the best arm of his body.” (l. 1194-5) Roland, “a fighter, there’s no vassal like him under the vault of paradise” (l. 544), is courageous, even mistakenly so. When Oliver pleads him to blow the horn to enlist assistance in what appears to be a futile fight, the warrior values intrinsic to Roland as a vassal move his refusal. Instead, he addresses, “might it not please God and his angels and saints to let France lose its splendor due to the fact that of me– let me not end in embarassment, let me die first. The Emperor likes us when we combat well.” [my emphasis] (ll. 1090-1094) As leader of the rearguard, his job is to protect the army and the king, and hence to call for help would be a betrayal of his commitment. He finally accepts blow the horn when it is too late.

As Roland senses his imminent death, he tries to break his sword that incorporates holy antiques, lest it fall into pagan hands. As he breaks it versus a stone, he states all that he has actually done for Charlemagne and the many victories he has actually won for him. “For a long while a good vassal held you: there’ll never be the like in France’s holy land.” (l. 2311-2) He got ready for his death by admitting his sins and remembering “Charles, his lord, who cultivated him.” (l. 2381) This exhibits the relationship of reciprocity between the lord and vassal, representing Charlemagne as the ideal lord, and Roland as the perfect vassal.

Roland as the perfect vassal is highlighted in the thematic sub-climax of the impressive. When Ganelon is picked to an emissary to King Marsilion, which he will subsequently take as an opportunity to betray the Frank forces and his stepson, he drops the glove that Charlemagne hands him as an investment of his authority. Roland, nevertheless, upon his appointment as rearguard, unintentionally entering the trap that Ganelon has actually treacherously placed before him, makes a program of not dropping the lance handed to him by Charlemagne. This proves their positions when it concerns their lord. Roland would do anything for Charlemagne. He refuses to call for help up until its far too late since he wished to protect his king. Even when he senses his death, he attempts to break his sword so that the pagans will never ever take control of the Christians. On the other hand, Ganelon, sustained by an individual hatred of Roland, proves treacherous to his lord. As the feudal compact demands, the vassal should have absolute loyalty to his lord in return for the lord’s favor. Ganelon betrayed Charlemagne, yet until his end, Roland kept his outright dedication.

Unlike The Tune of Roland, “Aucassin and Nicolette” does not glorify the feudal system. Although Aucassin, the beneficiary of Count Garin of Beaucaire, is instructed by his dad to “use up [his] arms, mount [his] horse, safeguard [his] land and aid [his] vassals” (II), Aucassin declines the whole system of worths, verifying instead that he would rather be with his “sweet buddy” Nicolette. His, and later her, rejection of patrimony, a worth integral to feudal society, provides hint to the author’s technique to the context in which the story was composed. The very truth that Nicolette is called his “sweet pal” indicates equality in their relationship, whereas females were not even pointed out in The Song of Roland. In basic, the function of females in feudal society was that of the maiden in requirement of savior, not as an equal. “Aucassin and Nicolette” can not get away the requirements of its time, and Nicolette does require saving, yet she reveals her independence as she leaves from her own prison and made her way through the forest alone. Nevertheless, “her beautiful hands and feet, which had actually never been accustomed to [walking across the bottom of the moat] were scratched and torn”(XVI), and Aucassin, “his mind so firmly repaired on Nicolette, fell so tough on to a stone that his shoulder was dislocated”(XXIV). The gender reversal in Torelore, where the king is in “childbed”(XXIX, 9) and the queen leads the war with “A supply of fresh cheeses/ Rotten crab-apples/ And large mushrooms from the fields”(XXXI, 6-8) even more exemplify the author’s satire on the treatment of ladies in the feudal society.

In addition to the gender turnaround in Torelore, the community’s attitude towards war likewise considerably varies from The Tune of Roland and feudal society in general. Aucassin, raised to be a knight, tried to assist the war effort by striking “right and left, eliminating lots of”, yet was advised by the king, since it was not their “customized to kill each other” (XXXII). To the feudal society, the role of the warrior is optimal, yet in Torelore, war is being treated as a game. The occupants provide rule to the king, food is utilized as ammo, and triumph is not worthwhile of death.

Yet regardless of its satirical outfit, the story is not able to free itself of the worths of its time. Nicolette must get status as a princess in order to marry Aucassin, and even if that is another car to parody the requirements of status by revealing her real origin when it was required, the truth remains that it was essential in order to finish the story effectively. Even as a satire, it prospers in imitating exactly that which it is satirizing. It ends up being the supreme medieval love, since through all the tests offered to both Aucassin and Nicollete they preserve their love for one another and the outcome is one of “happily ever after”. Despite the fact that the author may have been attempting to mock the common feudal society, he was however not able to get away the context surrounding the parody. Specific worths might seem inherent, and even as one understands the absurdity of their existing scenario, numerous things stay sensible till viewed in retrospection.

Though “Aucassin and Nicolette” is a satire of the feudal society, often buffooning the very values intrinsic to the social order, in contrast to The Tune of Roland, which glorifies that extremely order, it nevertheless stops working to get away numerous innate values of its situation. Nevertheless, as a category, The Song of Roland shows the feudal compact and the reciprocal relationship of the lord to his vassal entirely, while “Aucassin and Nicolette” attempts to do just the opposite. Given that both were written from a French point of view of feudal society, they are both case in point analyses of the duration that they represent.