The Song of Roland
Published between 1040 and 1115
4000 lines of Poetry
Thibault’s Score: 3/5
The Song of Roland is a French Epic Poem that depicts the Battle of the Pass in 778 between the Spanish Muslims and the Franks.
The story begins in a Mead Hall where Charlemagne is drinking with his knights. There, he explains that he has plans to declare war on the Muslims, and invade Spain unless the Moors convert to Christianity. The messenger, who has to go to the king of the Moors, is embarking on a suicide mission, as the news is likely to enrage the Caliph. All the knights volunteer to go, and even fight amongst themselves over the right to go on the suicide mission. Finally, a knight is chosen, and goes to the Muslim king. He gives the Muslims an ultimatum: convert to Christianity and receive half of Spain, or die by the swords of the Christians. Predictably, the Caliph is enraged, kills the messenger, and war between the Spanish Muslims and Christians begins.
Roland and several other knights, including an Archbishop who apparently fights on a horse, go to an area north of Marseilles to confront the Muslim army. There, they make a last stand defending a pass, and get utterly annihilated. When they realize that the battle is futile, they wonder whether to blow into a horn and alert Charlemagne, but face dishonor or not blow the horn and condemn Charlemagne to death. They compromise, and decided to blow the horn, but fight to the death. Charlemagne and his trips find the bodies of Roland and the others, then annihilates the Muslim.
I learned a lot and enjoyed reading the poem. Most importantly, I learned that Medieval Christians basically behaved like Klingons.
However, I found the language and translation to be incomprehensible without reading the Wikipedia page and using other online resources. It is a very difficult read, and for that reason, I recommend just reading the cliff notes instead.
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