The Song of Rolandby Anonymus
The poem's vivid set pieces--the treason of Ganelon, the last stand of Roland at Roncesvals, Charlemagne's campaign of vengeance, and the final act of retribution--are justly famous. See more details below
The poem's vivid set pieces--the treason of Ganelon, the last stand of Roland at Roncesvals, Charlemagne's campaign of vengeance, and the final act of retribution--are justly famous.
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This is the story of a battle that became famous in the early middle ages. It is related in poetic form through a French Chanson de Geste or Songs of Deeds. It is a story that had its first telling across campfires by the surviving participants of the battle as it was remembered and discussed for the remainder of their lives and was eventually put in poetic form for later posterity. Every combat veteran should read this book. It still clearly shows that every combat unit has its heroes, sung and unsung. These men can be identified because, when the tough assignment comes, they are always first up for it. A leader even gets to the point where he knows a particular handful of people are grossly over-used, but they are so competent that their presence means less casualties and you have to choose them. The story clearly illustrates the bond between exceptional leaders and their men. It clearly illustrates how exceptionally talented leaders are always ready to step up and take the hard assignments as they come. The story points out the absolute need for a combat leader, in contact, to negotiate an outcome only from a position of strength. One should have the ability to influence the outcome if the opposing force does not keep their word. This story clearly shows the need for scouts on the vanguard, flank security to either side of the unit's movement, and a good rear guard as the unit withdraws Charlemagne lamented Roland's loss so deeply that one can see that Roland was his " go to" man for tough assignments. He was competent and fearless, and sometimes people just like him convince us they are also invulnerable. This is simply not the case and some of our very best men die young. There is no way to glorify war nor should there be. I assure you that this poem can lead to a better understanding of men at battle, their relationships and concerns, and how they act and react in their community of warriors.