Midstokke: Song of Roland

The Lord-Vassal relationship highlighted in The Song of Roland shows exactly how the power dynamic worked in the middle ages. The numerous vassals that were under Charlemagne, were there to truly serve their leader. From following them into battle to offering advice, the Vassal served as a problem solver. As a reward for dedicating their life to their lord, they were giving a plot of land, which was the universal sign of power and wealth at the time. 

The start of the Crusades was the start of a series of military conquests by the Christians in order to recover the land that they had lost to the Muslims. The Song of Roland is a story about Charlemagne as he makes his way through Spain in order to expand his empire and rule. The Muslims, Saxons, and Lombards were the main enemies in the way of Charlemagne.

Trial by Combat was a key term in this reading and was very clearly shown at the end of the story. After the death of Roland, Charlemagne becomes the main focus of the tale as fighting continues. Charlemagne has many visions throughout the story and one of them is a direct comparison to a bible story with Joshua. In this scenario, Charlemagne prays that the “Sun Stand Still” in order for his men to continue to ride just as Joshua asked(110). Roland’s body is put to rest alongside other prominent franks in the story Oliver and Turpin. As they return home, Charlemagne puts a traitor on trial as he has now lost 20,000 troops. Trial by combat comes into play here with both parties having a fighter represent them. This was the way to decide things back then, as they fully believed that God will decide the ultimate verdict. Here Thierry is fighting for Charlemagne and Pinabel is fighting for Ganelon. Ganelon is viewed as a traitor in the eyes of Charlemagne because Roland had arranged for him to go on a mission where he was going to get killed but ended up making a deal to get Roland killed instead. Roland was Charlemagne’s favorite Vassal and left him very upset. After the representative fight is over, Ganelon loses and gets put to death, maintaining all of the power back to Charlemagne in the feudal system they are living in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *