Battle of Ronseval Gorge, its results and consequences
Charlemagne in Ronseval Gorge
Today we will finish the story started in the article. "Furious" Roland in literature and lifeand also talk about historical the basis of the events described in the epic poem "Song of Roland".
Battle of Ronseval Gorge
Roland's battle with the Moors, XNUMXth century miniature
So, having concluded a peace treaty with Charles, Marsilius orders his son to attack the rearguard of the French army, which is commanded by Roland. The army of Zaragoza, in addition to the Moors, according to the "Song", included warriors gathered from all over the world. Among them were the Slavs and separately the Rus, Livs, Pechenegs, Canaanites, Persians, Jews, Avars, Huns, Nubians, Negroes and many others.
This great army overtook the French in the Ronseval Gorge.
Then begins the story of the "epic battle", the significance of which for France is so great that a hurricane with thunder and lightning begins in this country. It mainly tells about Roland's heroic behavior - so stupid and inadequate that you begin to feel the desire that the avatars of this character were invariably in command positions in the camp of opponents and in no case in their own army.
Roland is, of course, the perfect warrior:
Enemies immediately recognize him by his stateliness and beauty of his face. Roland's spearhead, adorned with a white badge, "rises menacingly into the sky."
But the forces of the parties are clearly not equal, and the main army of Charles is very close. To call her for help, Roland needs to give a conventional sign - just blow the horn, which has its own name - Olifan (from the French olifant - elephant).
Ivory horn, Southern Italy, XNUMXth century, London, Victoria and Albert Museum
Wise Olivier and invites Roland to give a signal before the start of the battle. And then two more times calls on him to use the horn to call for help - already during the battle.
Roland replies arrogantly:
Apparently, because the phrase "dementia and courage" was the real (albeit unofficial) motto of this knight. He is not even embarrassed by the fact that in the course of the battle reinforcements are approaching the Moors - another army led by Marsilius himself (according to the author of the Song, there are selected formations of Turks, Armenians, Oxians and some Malprose regiment). And Marsilius also sent for help to the emir Baligan Sedom, promising to give him Saragossa.
Baligan's army ships
The French fight like lions, and the main characters bring down enemies no worse than the Russian epic heroes. Roland personally kills Marsilius Aelroth's nephew and cuts off Marsil's own hand.
Roland cuts off Aelroth's head
At the hands of Olivier, this king's brother Falzaron and the great caliph perish.
Olivier kills Falzaron
Archbishop Turpin slays the Barbary king of Corsablis (and 400 others).
Turpin hits Korsablis
These victories do not prevent the heroes from fainting at the sight of their wounded or killed friends every now and then.
The French repulsed four attacks, but the fifth battle is especially fierce, from the entire group of Roland only 60 people remain alive. And at this moment, even the great hero begins to understand: something went wrong as intended. And he asks Olivier: why not use Olifan's horn at last?
But Olivier, who realizes that Roland has in vain destroyed the detachment entrusted to him, the battle is lost, there is no salvation, falls into depression and melancholy. He says that it is too late to call for help and begins to reproach his friend:
And now it's too late to call for our help.
It would be disgraceful to trumpet now ...
To be brave is not enough - to be reasonable,
And it's better to know when to stop than to be crazy.
Your pride has ruined the French. "
But still alive is the wise Archbishop Turpin, who makes a speech in the style of the hero of the Soviet film "Two Comrades Served": they say, "Let these bastards not rejoice, because we will die today, and they - tomorrow." And he gives good advice: in order for the enemies to die tomorrow (or better - today), it would be necessary to finally blow Olifan's horn. Then the army of Charles will return, avenge the fallen, and bury him with military honors, as expected.
But you still have to trumpet.
Karl will hear, he will take revenge on the unfaithful,
The French won't let the Moors leave.
They will descend from their horses,
They will see us cut into pieces
Pay our death with all their hearts,
We will be strapped to mules on packs
And our ashes will be taken to monasteries. "
Roland blows the horn. Karl (right) hears his call. Turpin (left) continues to fight
Karl and his knights hear Roland's horn, but Ganelon says to them: why don't you guys know my stepson? Indulges in small, do not pay attention.
Meanwhile, Olivier has already been killed, the seriously wounded Roland is barely breathing, only Turpin and Gaultier de L'On are alive in the detachment.
Death of Olivier
Roland takes turns bringing the fallen peers of France to the bleeding Turpin, the archbishop blesses them and dies.
Turpin blesses one of the peers of France
Roland then says goodbye to his sword and tries unsuccessfully to break it against the rocks.
Charlemagne presents Roland with the Durendal sword (from the adjective dur - "hard", in French this word is feminine). Christian relics were kept in the handle of this sword - the blood of St. Basil, the hair of St. Denis, the tooth of the Apostle Peter, a fragment of the vestment of the Virgin Mary
Roland's image on the stained glass window of Chartres Cathedral: the knight blows his horn and tries to break his sword
The Archangel Gabriel appears to Roland, before whom he "repented of his sins to the Creator, held out a glove as a pledge."
And for some reason it is argued that "the count died, but won in battle."
Death of Roland, miniature of the manuscript "Great French Chronicles", XNUMXth century
Luc Olivier Merson. Roland de Ronceveau
Memorial sign at the alleged place of Roland's death
Return of the Christian army
Karl, meanwhile, did not believe Ganelon and deployed an army.
In Ronseval Gorge, he saw a battlefield on which there is no place "where the slain would not lie on the ground." Many of the knights accompanying him, according to the good old Frankish tradition, fainted:
Karl over Roland's body. The three French knights on the right are about to faint
Having come to his senses, the king, having drawn the sword "Joyez", into which the tip of Longinus's spear was melted and which changed color 30 times a day, he led his army into battle.
The Moors of Zaragoza flee, but Baligan's army approaches. The French enter a new battle with the cry of Mont-joie Saint-Denis. And their opponents for some reason go into battle shouting "Presioz".
What's this? Précieuse !? "Cutesy", "artsy" and so on? Original. Well, okay, let's say that the French heard some kind of phrase unknown to us in Arabic.
Karl met in a personal duel with Baligan, who almost defeated him, stabbing him in the head. But the archangel Gabriel comes to the aid of the Christian monarch, who recently received repentance from the dying Roland.
Karl vs. Baligan
The wounded Marsilius dies in Zaragoza, his wife Bramimonda surrenders the city and is baptized, receiving the new name Julian.
Bramimonda at the corpse of Marsilia
The French baptize the Moors in captured Zaragoza.
After the battle
Having defeated the Moors, Charles begins to understand what happened.
It is necessary to appoint someone responsible for the defeat and death of the rearguard. Indeed, in the Ronseval Gorge, not only ordinary soldiers, but also the Archbishop of Reims and 12 peers of France found their death. And this is already a scandal, and the family members of the victims are looking at their king in a bad way and askance.
The main anti-hero here is undoubtedly Roland, who, due to stupid vanity, entered an unequal battle without reporting the attack on his squad. But Roland's accusation casts a shadow on Karl himself, who appointed an absolutely inappropriate person to command the rearguard. Although at his disposal was the same "wise Olivier", for example.
This is probably why Roland was declared a hero who fully fulfilled his duty. Ganelon remained, who, most likely, did not betray France to the Moors, but only wanted to substitute his stepson. Knowing well the character of Roland, he therefore achieved his appointment as commander of the rearguard units, because he was sure that the young knight would definitely climb to gain glory for himself, would not cope and would lose the king's favor.
And who in Zaragoza would have believed Ganelon - a man who had just very tough negotiations and forced the emir to conclude an unprofitable agreement? They would have decided that the cunning Frenchman was preparing a trap for the Moorish army.
Ganelon appeared before the court, at which he innocently declared:
The Count has deprived me of my treasures.
So I wished Roland's death.
You can’t call it treason ”!
Ganelon before Charlemagne's trial
This, it turns out, is the root cause of their conflict: the usual dispute between "economic entities". Taking advantage of the king's favor, Karl's favorite Roland, apparently, appropriated part of his stepfather's estates. Henceforth, the king should be fairer, acting as an arbiter in litigation between his vassals.
Charles' courtiers were divided.
A relative of Ganelon Pinnabel took the side of the accused. Another 30 people acted as guarantors of Ganelon. Thierry and Geoffroy did not agree with them, and therefore it was decided to hold a judicial duel.
Thierry managed to defeat Pinnabel, after which both Ganelon and 30 people who spoke in his defense were executed. Ganelon was tied to four wild horses, which literally tore him apart. The people who vouched for him were simply hanged.
Roland's fiancé Alda (Olivier's sister) died upon hearing of his death.
Death of Alda
However, perhaps she was more struck by the news of the fate of the wise brother, who died in vain because of the recklessness of her fiancé.
Charles, groaning, hears the voice of the Archangel Gabriel, announcing that a new difficult war with the Saracens awaits his country ahead (but what about the great victories just won over the Moors?).
In 778, one of the emirs of the Iberian Peninsula, who was waging a grueling war with his Cordoba "colleague", decided to seek help from the Frankish ruler Charles (the Great). For military assistance, he promised to give him Zaragoza, but he forgot to ask the opinion of the inhabitants of this city (or maybe it was immediately conceived?).
In general, they did not want to open the gates in front of Karl. After spinning around and realizing that he was deceived, Karl went to his homeland. However, on the way to Zaragoza, his army sacked the Basque city of Pamplona. The Basques, hungry for revenge, attacked and defeated the rearguard of his army, in which the Breton margrave Hruodland was located.
The Annals of the Kingdom of the Franks says:
Einhard (Egingard) in "The Life of Charlemagne" ("Vita Caroli Magni" dated to the beginning of the XNUMXth century) reports:
Roland Olivier's friend is mentioned in the margins of the Nota Emilianense (Latin text, written around 1065) as one of Charlemagne's 12 nephews. He is also the hero of the "Girard de Vienne" gesture, written by Bertrand de Bar-sur-Aub around 1180. This poem tells about the seven-year war of Girard against Charlemagne, which it was decided to end after a duel between the best fighters of the opposing sides. From Karl, Roland from Brittany went to the duel, from Girard - Olivier from Vienne. After none of these knights were defeated, they swore an oath of friendship and acted as mediators in the conclusion of peace between Girard and Charles.
Galiens li Restores states that Olivier had a son, Galien, born to the Byzantine princess Jacqueline. He sees his father only once - in the Ronseval Gorge, having only managed to exchange a couple of phrases with the dying knight. After that, he returns to Constantinople and becomes emperor.
Archbishop Turpin of Reims is a completely historical person. According to the marginal notes of the same Nota Emilianense, he is also Charlemagne's nephew. A certain monk Jacques Doublet wrote in 1625 that Turpin's sword, with which he fought against the Moors, is kept in the treasury of the Abbey of Saint-Denis.
In fact, Turpin was the first and very authoritative archbishop of Reims, in 769 he attended a meeting of the Roman Synod, where the relationship between the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople was discussed. The legend about his participation in the Battle of Ronseval appeared only in the XNUMXth century.
Turpin von Reims to the right of Charlemagne, Aachen, Shrine of Charlemagne
And who could serve as the prototype for the "traitor Ganelon" (sometimes he is called Guenilon)?
Many researchers believe that such was the cleric Venilon (Wenilo or Guenilo), who served a completely different monarch - Karl the Bald. In 837 he became Archbishop of Sansa, and in 843 he even crowned Charles in the Church of the Holy Cross in Orleans. In 858, Charles's state was invaded by the army of his brother, Louis the German, who was summoned by the rebels led by Robert the Strong, Count of Tours and Angers. Robert was supported by Counts Ed of Orleans and Adalard of Paris, as well as Archbishop Venilon. In 859, at a cathedral in the city of Savonier, Charles accused Venilon of treason, but soon changed his anger to mercy and pardoned the disgraced hierarch.
Let's return to Charlemagne, who, after an unsuccessful campaign in 778, began to strengthen Aquitaine, sending Frankish settlers into it.
In 781 the status of Aquitaine was elevated to a kingdom, the throne of which was taken by Charles' three-year-old son Louis. At the same time, the county of Toulouse was created. In the 790s, new, albeit short-term, expeditions to the Iberian Peninsula took place. Their result was the emergence of the Spanish Mark with the cities of Girona, Urgell and Vic. In 801, King Louis of Aquitaine managed to capture Barcelona, which became the capital of the Spanish mark. In 806 Pamplona was taken.
These events, of course, are much more significant than the unsuccessful campaign of Charlemagne for the Pyrenees, which took place in 778. But the heart of a poet cannot be ordered.
It was the defeat in the Ronseval Gorge that gave impetus to the writing of one of the greatest heroic poems, and then the famous knightly novels, which were read by the nobles of all Europe. Jean-Baptiste Lully, Antonio Vivaldi and Georg Friedrich Handel wrote operas on this subject.
In the XNUMXth century, poems were written, which are now studied in literature lessons by all schoolchildren in France: "The Horn" by Alfred de Vigny and "Legend of the Ages" by Victor Hugo.
In the XNUMXth century, Roland became the hero of some films.
Poster for the film "Orlando and the Paladins of France", Italy, 1956
The trace in world culture left by "The Song of Roland" is so great that neither the true historical outline, which became the basis of its plot, nor the dubious behavior of the protagonist, no longer matters.
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