The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







This article is about historical/legendary figure, for other uses, see Roland (disambiguation).

Historically, the marquis of Brittany Roland was a Frankish seneschal (or commander) in Charlemagne's service, who was killed in the Battle of Roncevaux Pass by the Basques on 15 August, AD 778. He was the nephew of Charlemagne, but was brought up by his mother (the Lady Bertha ) as a beggar, living in a cave near Sutri, Italy. At the age of 12, he was told the truth and acknowledged by Charlemagne.

Legend has embroidered his tale into the epic tale of the noble Christian killed by Islamic forces, which forms part of the medieval Matter of France. Roland's tale is retold in the eleventh century poem The Song of Roland, where he is armed with a horn and a sword named Durandal. See Orlando for his later history in Italian verse, leading to the epic Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto.

In Germany the meaning of Roland changed in Bremen towards a symbol of freedom. In that time this meant an opposition of free citizens against the power of the church and for civil rights. To build a Roland statue became famous among some cities in the middle age in Europe. The Roland in front of the town hall of Bremen (1404) is listed together with the town hall on the List of World Heritage Site from the UNESCO since 2004.

In Catalonia Roland (or RotllÓ as Catalan people say) became a mythical powerful giant. Lots of places in Catalonia (both North and South) have a name related to RotllÓ.

In the United States, Warren Zevon updated this legend to include the CIA, Patty Hearst and the Congo in his 1978 ballad, Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner .

External link

  • roland.jpg

Last updated: 02-08-2005 10:26:43
Last updated: 05-01-2005 23:37:46