The Book of the Dun Cow Part I Charlemagne in The Song of Roland & Chanticleer in “The Nun’s Priest Tale” of Canterbury Tales Charlemagne • 742?-814 • King of the Franks (French) • Committed militant Christian • Forced conversions and expanded boundary • Crowned emperor by the pope in 800 Roncevaux • Charlemagne’s army devastating any competition. • Muslim king Marsile plots to concede victory and become vassal to Charlemagne, then renege later, just to get the Franks out of Spain. • Charlemagne wants to accept because he is tired of fighting. Roncevaux • An envoy must go to the court of Marsile to negotiate terms. • Roland (right hand man to Charlemagne) nominates his stepfather Ganelon, who betrays them all, telling Marsile to attack the rear of the army, know his son-in-law will be there. • All troops are killed, including Roland, but not before he blew his olifant horn, killing himself with the force with which he sounds the horn. Consequences • Charlemagne and his troops hear the horn and return, but too late. • He vows to kill the entire army and in the process kills Marsile, his powerful Muslim army, and all Jews and Muslims, save the Queen. • They then return to France. Ganelon • Taken back to France and tried for treason • Found guilty after the “lawyers” fight to the death to decide guilt. • Pulled limb from limb as punishment. Song of Roland • Chanson de Geste: songs of great deeds • Song of Roland is perhaps the beginning of such tales • Composed about 1100 and can be divided into 4 major parts Parts of The Song of Roland • The betrayal of Roland by Ganelon • First Battle of Roncevaux—Roland Dies • The Second Battle of Roncevaux—Franks win • Ganelon’s Trial and Death Ties to Dun Cow • Charlemagne: Hero in legend due to his battles for Christendom • Fight for good • By the time that the The Song of Roland was written, more than three centuries after the events it recounts, Charlemagne had become a superhuman figure in the European imagination and a hero of romance; the stories of his exploits assumed the proportions of the fantastic. He provides an ideal base on which to build enthusiasm for the Crusades.
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