The Song of Roland

The Song of RolandThe 9th-11th-century epic the Song of Roland, which is quite known in Europe, was based on the historical events of an earlier epoch, more precisely, the period during the reign of the King of the Franks Charlemagne.

The epic tells about the assault of the Saracens on the French regiment, which has been returning from its successful 7-year crusade in Spain. The regiment attacked in the Roncevaux Pass in the Pyrenees was led by a favorite of the king count Roland. Together with his milk-sibling Oliver and other lords of France, Roland bravely fought against the assailants and fell in the battle.

Partially, Roland’s stepfather Ganelon is the one to blame for his death. Envying his stepson, Ganelon came to collusion with the King Marsile, the pagan king of the Saracens. Charlemagne avenged the death of Roland and his unit by eliminating the numerous army of the Moors and killing Ganelon.

The character of Roland was based on the prefect of Brittany Hroudland, who was killed in 778 in a fight against the Basques. In the poem, the Basques were replaced by the Muslim Moors.

It is noteworthy that the Basques had their own story about Roland. In their legend about powerful Roland, Charlemagne approached the Kingdom of Navarre. The regiment of Roland covered the king’s unit from the flanks. Having heard about the approaching troops of the King of the Franks, the inhabitants of one of the Navarre’s village’s sheltered in the local church, hoping that they would safe there. However, Charlemagne ordered to destroy the church and murder everyone who was inside.

The strong Roland grabbed a huge rock from the mountain to throw it at the church, but stumbled and rolled down to the village along with the rock. In this way, Roland died in the Basque version. His rock is now kept near the gates of the Uros village. It is taken care of in order to startle the enemies and the possible conquerors of the country of Basques.

The Song of Roland epic has already been widely spread in Europe during the Middle Ages. It has been translated into several European languages, including English, German, Italian, Spanish, Celtic, and Scandinavian languages. The 1170 German variant attributed to Priest Konrad is particularly known.

This translation mentioned an Armenian duke of Bavaria, the brave Naimes, the comrade-in-arms of Charlemagne, who fearlessly fought and fell in the battle of Roncevaux Pass. Charlemagne highly valued the valor of Naimes and considered him a gift from the heaven.

7787. Naimes ist im Kampf gewandt, Hohe Zier von Baierlant.
Es ward von Gott mir teure Gabe, daß ihn zum Kämpfen habe.
Aus dem getreuen Armenien geboren die Baigere hab ich selbst erkoren
zu dem auserwählten Streiten zwanzigtausend soll er leiten .
Mit ihren scharfen Schwertern Sollen sie den Sieg erhärten.
Sie kaufen ihn viel sehr
kühners Volk war nimmermehr. 57
Das Rolandslied des Pffafen Konrad

7787. Naimes entered the fight
In the Bavarian battle vestments.
It was a gift of heavens that he entered the battle.
He came from the faithful / to us / Armenia. In full armor,
In the decisive battle,
He led twenty thousand warriors.
With their sharp swords, they took the victory,
For which the enemies paid dearly,
And there were no more of the brave  people / enemies /.

In another variant, it is written:

7790. Naimes, der Recke, Ist eine Zierde Baierns .
Gott hat mich nicht vergessen,
Er hat ihn mir als Kämpfer gesandt,
der von den treuen Armeniern abstammt. 58

7790. Brave warrior Naimes entered the battle
In the Bavarian vestments.
God did not forget me and sent a warrior to me,
Who by origin is from the faithful / to us / Armenia.

According to ancient Bavarian sources, Naimes (or Noriks, Norikus, Norik) was either the son of Heracles or was closely related to his genus. Supposedly, the Celtic kingdom Noricum’s name was connected with the name of Naimes.

This is a translation of an excerpt from Anzhela Teryan’s “Ancient Written Sources of European People About Their Homeland Armenia and Armenians”. In the book, the following sources of data were mentioned. Download the full version of the book in Russian

“The Song of Roland”, Yerevan, 1991;

“Basque Traditions”, p.118-120. Yerevan, 1996;

Richard Ed. Ottmann, Pffafe Konrad, Rolandslied, Reclam, 1891, Topakyan G., Die Bayerisch-Armenische…;

Das Rolandslied des Pffafen Konrad, Mittelhochdeutsch Neuhochdeutsch, Reclam.


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