Chanson de Roland, La

Chanson de Roland, La


a heroic epic poem of medieval France, belonging to the Geste au roi cycle of poems. The Oxford redaction, dating from about 1170, is the earliest that has survived.

The poem’s historical basis was the episode of the rout of Charlemagne’s rear guard, led by Roland. In 778 the detachment was attacked by the Basques at the pass of Roncevaux in the Pyrenees as it was retreating from Spain. In the poem the Christian Basques are replaced by Muslim Moors and the events are transferred to the feudal setting of the tenth to 12th centuries.

The epic’s content is patriotic and its character portrayal is striking. The name “Turoldus” is mentioned at the end of the poem, but his role in the work’s composition is not known. The Chanson de Roland was first printed in 1837, in Paris. In narrative poems the Italian poets L. Pulci, M. Boiardo, and L. Ari-osto reworked the legends of Roland in the spirit of the humanistic ideas of the Renaissance.


La Chanson de Roland. Paris [I960]. In Russian translation: Pesn’ o Rolande. Moscow-Leningrad, 1964.


Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. Pages 32–37.
Lejeune, R., and J. Stiennon. La Légende de Roland dans l’art du Moyen Âge, vols. 1–2. Brussels, 1967.
References in periodicals archive ?
Chanson de Roland, La ("The Song of Roland") Old French epic poem written about 1100 that is probably the earliest and certainly the masterpiece of the form known as chanson de geste.