The Song of Roland: Insight Into Another World

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The Song of Roland:
Insight Into Another World

Historians have now been able to date the first manuscripts of The Song of Roland as far back as the 11th century CE (1060 CE)- to be more specific, 1130 CE. However, some historians have dated the poem itself back to 1060 CE, but the most widely accepted date has been 1098 CE. If you take a look into the historical events of this time, you will see that, by this time the First Crusade- which began in 1096 CE and ended in 1098 CE- was over but through this epic poem the ideals and the principles of that time lived on. Through this epic poem we are, until this day, able to bear witness to the values that were present in the life of the author. Although we have no concrete evidence that leads us to knowledge of who the author really was it is believed that, because of the reference to Turoldus in Stanza 298 ("Here ends the story that Turoldus relates), he is the author. Nevertheless, The Song of Roland can now be viewed as an amazing historical document that allows us much insight into what life was like for the author. We are able to grasp the many political, social, and cultural values that stood during that time.

There are many parallels that the author seems to have established between the ideals of those that were present in the late 8th century (the setting of the poem) and the ideals that were present in the 11th and 12th centuries (the time of the author's life). It seems as though the author purposely sets up those similarities so that the battle in The Song of Roland, and the story behind it, corresponds to that of the First Crusade (1096-1098) of the 11th century. In Stanza 278, Ganelon says that Oliver has "betrayed the twelve peers for money." This is just as Judas had betrayed Christ and the 12 apostles for 30 pieces of silver. If you go back to Stanza 111 you will also see that when Roland dies "at high noon, a great darkness gathers; there is light only when the sky is...
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