[Prologue: The object of this book is to record the signs of Charlemagne's righteousness, such as can be learned from the annals of his reign and such as miraculously have appeared in our own times. Whoever desires to learn of Charlemagne's battles and victories will readily find those in the very famous Gests. The beginning of this section, the third, of the present work is taken from that letter which Archbishop Turpin of Rheims sent to Leoprand, dean of Aachen, and which we find in the Chronicles of the Franks at St Denis in France. That letter describes Charlemagne's battles in Spain; we can give only a small portion of it, since we are concerned with describing Charlemagne's righteousness and, as we have often said, not his military deeds.]
Chapter I: Turpin’s letter to Leoprand, dean of Aachen): Whereas you bade me some time ago as I lay at Vienne recovering from wounds to write you how Charlemagne liberated Spain and Galicia from Saracen power, I am sending to your Brothership an account of the triumphant deeds which I saw in the fourteen years during which I accompanied the King and his army through Spain and Galicia. These deeds have not been described adequately in any chronicle.
Ch. II: The apostle James is the first to preach the word of God in Galicia. After he has been slain by King Herod and his body has been translated by sea from Jerusalem to Galicia, his disciples confirm Galicia in the faith. But the Galicians Iater fall away from Christianity, and they live as infidels to the time of Charlemagne. Now when this emperor has subjugated and made Christian many regions of the world, he is resting from his labors and planning never again to wage war. But one night in a vision he sees a starry way reaching from the Frisian sea over to Galicia, where, lost to men’s knowledge, the body of James lies.
Ch. III: After several nights Charles begins to wonder what this vision may mean. Then one night in a trance he sees before him a man of indescribable beauty; this apparition declares himself to be the apostle James, who lies forgotten in Galicia. He exhorts Charlemagne, as the great liberator of Christianity, to earn the crown of eternal blessedness by faring forth under the way of stars against the pagan Galicians. He shall go to James’s basilica and memoriam, and after him, to the end of the world, pilgrims will make the journey for their sins, praising God and the deeds of might which he will perform. The apostle will be his helper. Thrice the apparition comes before Charles. Charles assembles his army and sets out.
Ch. IV: The first city besieged is Pamplona. For three months its mighty walls hold out. Then Charlemagne prays to the Lord and St James to help him. The walls crumble .3 The Emperor spares such Saracens as will be baptized and slays the rest. Other Saracens, when they hear this, surrender themselves and their cities and give tribute to Charlemagne; the whole land is laid under tribute. When the pagans see what splendid men the French are, and how excellently equipped, they receive them with honor and without resistance. Then Charlemagne, after visiting the sepulchre of St James, proceeds to El Padron. There he thrusts his lance into the sea and gives thanks to God and St James for having conducted him in safety to this natural limit of his progress. Those Galicians who have fallen away from the preaching of James and his disciples he causes Turpin to baptize – such, that is, as freely wish regeneration and have not yet been baptized. All others he either slays or makes captive. He goes through Spain from sea to sea.
Ch. V: The author gives a list of fourteen cities in Galicia and some hundred cities, islands, and territories of Spain which Charles conquers.
Ch. VI: Charles destroys all idols in Spain except that idol known as Salamcadis (that is, in Arabic, the God of Cadiz). The Saracens believe that Mohammed himself made this idol and shut up in it a legion of demons to protect it. Any Christian who approaches it perishes, as does any bird which alights on it, but the Saracens themselves may pray to it and come away unscathed. It is a brazen statue of a man, erect, on an ancient graven rock by the seaside, a rock square at the base and rising as high as birds ordinarily fly. The image faces south and holds in its right hand a mighty key. This key, the Saracens say, will fall in the year in which is born in France that future king who shall subjugate all Spain to Christianity. As soon as the Saracens see the key fall they will bury their treasures and flee. Charles remains three years in Spain and, with the gold which the native kings and princes give him, enlarges the basilica of St James; in it he installs priests and canons of the order of St Isidor (of Seville), to it he gives books and altar cloths and bells and other comely things. With the rest of the gold and silver (a vast amount) he returns to France and builds churches – the church of the Virgin Mary and the church of St James, in Aachen, a church of St James at Béziers, and another at Toulouse, and another in Gascony between Dax and Saint-Jean de Sorde on the route to Compostela, and still another in Paris between the Seine and Montmartre, and many other churches and abbeys.
Ch. VII: When Charles has returned to France, he hears that an African’ king, Aigolandus, has conquered Spain and slain many of the Christians who have been left to defend the country. The King returns with an army and with Duke Milo `de Angulariis’r as his chief in command.
Not to be passed by in silence is an exemplum which God showed concerning those who withhold alms willed to them for distribution among the poor: While Charles and his army are at the Basque city of Bayonne, one Romaricus on his deathbed bequeaths a horse to a kinsman with the injunction that he sell it and give the money to clerics and to the poor. But the kinsman, after selling the horse, spends the money on himself for food and drink and other necessities. When thirty days have passed, the dead man appears in a nocturnal vision before his kinsman and tells him that, though his own sins have now been forgiven, the kinsman’s dereliction has caused him to be delayed in the underworld; the dead man proceeds now to peace, but the kinsman will on the morrow be suffering in hell. In the morning the guilty man talks openly about his vision, and while the warriors are discussing it a host of demons, howling like wild animals, snatch him aloft. The army searches for him, but not until twelve days later, as they are going through the littoral wilderness of Navarre, do they find his broken body, on a high rocky headland. His soul, it is believed, had been taken to the infernal regions. `Wherefore all may know who keep for themselves alms entrusted to them – etc.
Ch. VIII: Charles and Milo encounter Aigolandus in Campis on the Céa, at the place where Charles has since built a church to the martyrs SS. Facundus and Primitivus. Aigolandus suggests that Charles send twenty men, or forty, or a hundred (he may choose what number he will) to do battle with an equal force of Saracens. Charles sends out a hundred warriors. These slay, to the last man, the hundred pagans detailed to meet them. Then two hundred Christians overwhelm and massacre two hundred Saracens. Then two thousand Christians ride out against two thousand heathen. Of the latter many are slain and the rest flee. The two kings agree that on the following day they will bring their whole armies together in general battle.
That night, after the Christians had zealously made ready their weapons, many thrust their lances upright into the ground before the camp. In the morning some of these lances are found to have grown bark and leaves. These their owners cut off near the ground; from the roots thus left have sprung groves which may still be seen. In the battle Duke Milo, father of Roland, is slain, along with a host of other Christians whose spears had sprouted. Charles’s horse is killed, and the Emperor himself, with two thousand foot, is surrounded; he draws his sword and cuts down many Saracens. At nightfall the two armies withdraw to their camps. On the following day four dukes arrive from Italy with reinforcements for Charles. Aigolandus flees to Le6n and Charles returns to France.
Ch. IX: Just as Charles’s warriors made ready their weapons before battle, so should we prepare our weapons, that is, our virtues, before we undertake the battle against vice. Whoso puts virtue before vice, his spear shall sprout and his victor’s soul shall be crowned in heaven. `Yet is he not crowned except he strive lawfully. And just as Charles’s knights died in war for the faith, so ought we to `die to vice’ and live with holy virtues in the world, that we may deserve the flourishing palm of triumph in the celestial kingdom.
Ch. X: Aigolandus collects a great army of many pagan peoples and kings Saracens, Moors, Moabites, King Teremphinus, King Burrahellus – and seizes the Gascon city of Agen. Then he sends to Charles and demands that Charles come to him with a small retinue. He promises rich gifts if Charles will submit to his overlordship. (His real purpose is to learn what Charles looks like, in order to be able to slay him in battle at some later date.) Charles comes to Agen; he brings a large force of men, but these he leaves out of sight of the city. He and a single follower disguise themselves as messengers and proceed into Agen. They tell Aigolandus that Charles is willing to do military service for him and be his man, and that he waits outside the city with forty followers; Aigolandus is to bring a like number and come to him for a peaceful conference. Aigolandus dismisses them, agreeing to come. Then Charles and his comrade spy out the weak portions of the defenses and discover what kings are in the city. They escape to the men outside. Aigolandus comes out with a great force to kill Charles, but Charles escapes. He goes to France, gathers a great army, and returns to Agen. He besieges the city for six months; in the seventh month he arrays great engines against the walls. But one night Aigolandus and his princes escape through latrines to the Garonne, which flows by the city; they swim to safety on the other side. On the following morning, Charles enters the city; he slays ten thousand Saracens; some others manage to escape by swimming the river.
Ch. XI: Aigolandus takes refuge in Saintes. When Charles arrives with his army Aigolandus agrees to fight a battle for the possession of the city. On the night before the battle, the Christians stick their spears upright in the ground before the camp, which is in a meadow on the Charente between the castle of Taillebourg and the city. In the morning the spears of many, namely, of those who are to receive martyrdom in the approaching battle, are found to have grown bark and leaves. Four thousand Christians are slain that day. Although his horse is killed, Charles fights valiantly afoot and he and his men rout the pagans and drive them into the city. The Christians then surround the walls, all except the wall that runs along the river. During the night Aigolandus and his army attempt to escape across the river. Charles follows them and slays the king of Arabia and the king of Bougie and some four thousand other infidels.
Ch. XII: Aigolandus takes his army through the pass of Cize to Pamplona. He sends a challenge to Charles. The Emperor summons all his armies. He decrees that no Frenchman who will go with him into Spain shall thereafter do service for any alien; he decrees also that all serfs who do hard labor for evil lords shall be freed if they too will go with him, and their descendants shall be freemen for all time. He liberates men from the workhouses, he gives ample funds to the poor and garments to the naked, he reconciles enemies to each other, he restores those deprived of their heritages to their proper rights, he gives military vestments to squires and the skilled-in-arms, he extends pardon to those whose evil deeds have cost them his favor. Thus he draws to himself friends and enemies, natives and aliens. And I, Turpin, archbishop of Rheims, give absolution and benediction to them all so far as God has granted me the power to do so.
Ch. XIII: With 134,000 men Charles sets out against Aigolandus. These are the names of the chief warriors:
I, Turpin, who with fitting exhortations inspired the faithful to fight for Christ and frequently took part in the fighting myself; Roland, duke of the armies, count of Le Mans and prince of Blaye, nephew of Charles, son of Duke Milo and Bertha the sister of Charles; Oliver, second duke of the armies, son of Count Rainer, himself count of Geneva; Estult, count of Langres; Arastagnus, king of the Bretons; Engeler, the Gascon, duke of Aquitania (after the slaughter of Roncesvalles the city of Aquitania was deserted); Gaifer, king of Bordeaux; Galerus; Gerin; Salomon, comrade of Estult; Baldwin, brother of Roland; Gandeboldus, king of Frisi a; Hoel, count of Nantes; Arnaldus de Bellanda; Naimon, duke of Bavaria; Ogier, king of Dacia (concerning his mighty deeds French songs are sung to this very day); Lambertus, prince of Bourges; Sanson, duke of Burgundy; the Roman prefect Constantine; Reinaldus de Albaspina; Gual_ terus de Turmis; Guielinus; Guarinus, duke of Lorraine; Bego; Albericus the Burgundian; Berardus de Nublis; Wirnardus; Esturmi tus; Theodoric; Berengarius; Haito; and Ganelon, who was to turn traitors.
The army gathers in the so-called Landes of Bordeaux; it covers the space of a two-days’ march in length and breadth; the noise that it makes can be heard twelve miles. It goes through the passes of Cize and comes to Pamplona, where it fills all the space between the river Rune’ and a certain mountain on the Way of St James three leagues from the city.
Ch. XIV: Charles demands that Aigolandus give up the city. The pagan decides to come forth to fight. He asks for a truce, to confer with Charles in person.
Ch. XV: AigoIandus brings his army out of Pamplona and it is ranged facing Charles’s along the Way of St James; in view of the hosts the commanders begin their conference. (Charles, to Aigolandus’s great wonder and delight, speaks Arabic; he learned the tongue as a boy, when he spent a short time at Toledo). Aigolandus asks by what right Charles claims Spain and Gascony, since they have not belonged to his forbears. Charles answers that Christ has chosen the Christian people to be rulers of all the world. Aigolandus says that Christianity is not the true faith, Charles that it is — that the souls of Christians after death go to Paradise and eternal life, whereas souls of Mohammedans go to hell: `Wherefore it is obvious that our religion is worthier than yours. Charles charges Aigolandus to accept baptism; Aigolandus refuses. They agree that they must fight a battle to determine which is the true faith; shame be to the loser and eternal glory to the conqueror. For his part, Aigolandus says, if he loses he will submit to baptism, provided he is allowed to live.
Twenty Christian knights are sent against twenty Saracens; the Saracens are all slain. Then forty Christians slay forty Saracens, then a hundred Christians slay a hundred Saracens. A second hundred of Christians are sent out against a like number of Saracens, but this time the Christians take fright, flee, and are killed. (This is a warning to us that, as we fight for the faith against vices, we do not turn our backs upon the battle, for if we do so we shall be prey to an inferior foe, that is, to evil spirits, and shall die miserably in sin.) Then two hundred Christians kill two hundred Saracens; then a thousand Christians a thousand Saracens.. Aigolandus is by now convinced of the superior value of Christianity; he promises that on the following day he and his people will accept baptism. He returns to his army and tells them of his decision. Some demur.
Ch. XVI: When he comes the next day to be baptized, Aigolandus finds Charles at table surrounded by religious in various vestments. He inquires as to the meaning of the vestments and is told that such and such habits denote bishops and priests, such and such denote monks, canons regular, and so forth. Meanwhile, however, he spies twelve paupers, segregated from the other diners. Very poorly clad, and seated on the ground without table or cloths, they are supplied but sparingly with food and drink. He is told that these are messengers of God’ to the number of the apostles; Charles provides for them for the sake of our Lord. Aigolandus resents the fact that Charles entertains his religious, his own vassals, far better than God’s messengers; he decides forthwith that Christianity is no true faith and announces that he will not be baptized. He asks, and is granted, permission to withdraw; he makes ready to recommence the war on the following day.
When Charles realizes that his lack of charity has cost him his converts, he causes all the poor in his army to be sought out and copiously provided for. Let this be a lesson to all Christians to be ever mindful of the needy. Faith without good works is like a body without a soul.
Ch. XVII: In the battle (on the following day) the Christians surround their enemy and slaughter them by the thousands. Aigolandus himself is slain, and only the king of Seville and Altumaior of Cordova with a few of their followers, escape.
Ch. XVIII: Charles, because he fought for the true faith, overcame Aigolandus. So may we all triumph, through faith in Christ and through good works.
Charles pitches camp at the bridge of Arga on the Way of St James.
Ch. XIX: The night after the battle, some of the Christians return to the battlefield and despoil the bodies of the fallen. When they have loaded themselves with booty, Altumaior of Cordova swoops down upon them and slays them all. These Christians are like some religious, who, having conquered vice, return to vice and thus lose eternal life.
Ch. XX: Furre, prince of the Navarrese, comes to Mount Garzin and sends a challenge to Charles. Charles proceeds to the mountain and a battle is imminent. On the night before the outbreak of hostilities Charles prays God for a sign as to which of his men will perish on the morrow. When day breaks, certain of the Christians have the mark of a blood-red cross on their shoulders. These men Charles does not take to battle; he leaves them behind in his chapel. But how inscrutable are the ways of God! When the battle is over and Furre and three thousand of his pagans (and no Christians) have been slain, Charles returns only to find that the men in the chapel are dead!
A certain giant, Ferracutus by name, next sends a challenge. He is at Nâjera, whither he has been sent, by the ammiral of Babylon, from Syria with 120,000 Turks; Charles hastens to meet him. The giant is about twelve cubits tall, his face is about a cubit in length, his fingers three palms. He asks that there be single combats, and Ogler the Dane is sent first against him. Ferracutus coolly picks Ogler up as though he were the meekest of sheep and carries him under one arm into captivity. Reinaldus is next carried off, and when Constantine and Hoel are sent together against the giant, Ferracutus simply takes one under either arm and delivers them to his prison. Thus, two at a time, are twenty of CharIes’s men carried away. Charles is afraid to send any more knights, but Roland begs to go and finally wins permission. The giant picks Roland up in his right hand and sets him before him on his horse. But Roland siezes the giant by the chin and turns him over backwards; both fall together to the ground. A mighty duel follows; each kills the other’s horse and each is deprived of the use of his sword. They fight with fists and stones until the hour of nones; at nightfall they make a truce and each returns to his camp to rest until the morrow, when, they agree, they will fight afoot and without lances.
Ch. XXI: In the morning the warriors meet again without horses. Ferracutus brings his sword, but it is of no use to him since Roland has brought a long, twisted club. With this he belabors his enemy, and he strikes him with his fists and with great round stones. Often Ferracutus suffers Roland to strike at will, yet Roland cannot wound him. At noon Ferracutus is sleepy and Roland grants him a truce so that he can take a nap. Ferracutus lies down and Roland, being a polite young man, puts a stone under his head to make him sleep more comfortably. (Such truces were made as a regular thing and rigidly respected by Christians and Saracens alike.) When the giant awakes, he and Roland fall to talking and Roland asks him how it is that he needs fear neither sword, nor club, nor stones. Ferracutus says that he is vulnerable only in the navel. (Ferracutus speaks Spanish, a tongue that Roland can understand well enough.) The two then fall to disputing as to which holds the true religion. Roland undertakes to explain the doctrine of the Threein-One, but the discussion reaches a stalemate and the pair resume their combat with the agreement that whichever wins shall be considered to have vindicated his own faith.
Roland parries a great blow from the giant’s sword, but his cudgel is cut in two and the giant throws him to the ground and falls upon him. Roland utters a prayer and twists himself free far enough to grasp the giant’s dagger. He manages to pierce Ferracutus through the navel. The giant is mortally wounded;s the Christian forces pour into the city and fort and release their captive comrades.
Ch. XXII: Ebrahum, king of Seville, and Altumaior, both of whom escaped the slaughter of Pamplona, get command of a force of ten thousand and occupy Cordova . Charles hastens thither; the pagans come forth to meet him. But the footsoldiers of the heathen wear barbarous horned masks which make them look like devils and they beat drums. They present such a terrifying sight and make such a terrifying noise that the horses of the Christians take fright and the Christian forces are driven back. On the following day Charles’s warriors blindfold the eyes, and stop up the ears, of their horses. This time the Saracens give way and many of them are slain. In their midst is a red banner erect upon a cart drawn by eight oxen. The Saracens believe that none of their number will ever flee from battle so long as that banner stands. Charles himself rides into the enemy host and cuts down the standard. The Saracens are routed and eight thousand, including the king of Seville, are slain; Altumaior escapes to the city with two thousand followers.
Ch. XXIII: On the following day Altumaior yields the city to Charles, but, upon submitting to be baptized and becoming Charles’s man, he receives it back. Charles gives the various provinces of Spain to such of his men as want to remain in the country: the lands of the Navarrese and Basques to the Bretons, Castille to the French, Nájera and Saragossa to the Greeks and Apulians, Aragon to the Pictavians, maritime Andalusia to the Germans, and Portugal to the Dacians and FIemish. The French don’t want Galicia – it seems too poor a country.
Thereafter, nobody dares challenge Charles’s power in Spain.
Ch. XXIV: Charles disbands his army and comes to the tomb of St James; he quickens in the faith those Christians whom he finds there; unbelievers he slays or exiles to France. Then he calls a council in Compostela of bishops and princes, and he rules that thenceforth all Christian prelates and princes of Spain and Galicia shall be subservient to the bishop of St. James. He does not make Iria an episcopal see – that village (for he does not consider it a city) he subordinates to Compostela.
I, Turpin, with nine other bishops dedicate the church and altar of St James. To that church Charles allots all Spain and Galicia and ordains that every householder of Galicia shall pay it annually four nummi and shall then be free from all service. And he ordains that it shall be known as an Apostolic See, since the apostle James lies buried there. And there the councils of the bishops of Spain and Galicia shall be held; and bishops shall receive their staves of office and kings their crowns at the hands of its prelates. Just as John and his brother James besought the Lord that they might sit the one on his right hand and the other on his left in heaven, so in the terrestial kingdom of Christ the apostolic see of John is at Ephesus in the east and the apostolic see of James at Compostela in the west. Three apostolic sees are the chief and juridical sees, just as there were three most favored apostles. Rome is the prime see of all the world, but as James was second only to Peter among the apostles on earth, and, indeed, in heaven ranks above him in order of martyrdom, so Compostela is second only to Rome among sees, for at Compostela James preached and there he is buried and there does he still work miracles and bestow ceaseless blessings. The third see is Ephesus, the see of the blessed Evangelist, where he preached, where he performed his miracles, where he built his church, and where he is buried.
Galicia, rescued from the Saracens by the grace of God and St James and by the efforts of Charles, remains orthodox in faith to this day .
Ch. XXV: On his way back to France Charles stops at Pamplona. He learns that two Saracen kings whom he has made his subjects, namely, Marsirius and his brother Belegandus, are serving him with but simulated loyalty. To them, Charles sends Ganelon with the command that they either accept baptism or pay tribute. They send him great quantities of gold and silver and precious objects and wine and also a thousand beautiful Saracen women. But they bribe Ganelon to betray his master. Consequently, Ganelon tells Charles that Marsirius has agreed to become a Christian and that he will come to Charles in France to be baptized; moreover, he will hold all Spain in fee. Charles makes ready to go through the pass of Cize. After consulting with Ganelon he puts Roland in command of a rear guard of twenty thousand to hold the pass at Roncesvalles; with him are many of the greater knights. The main army proceeds through the defile.
But because on several preceding nights some of the Christians, drunk on the wine which Marsirius had sent, have lain with the Saracen women and with Christian women who had come with the army from France, many of the rear guard are slain. Marsirius and Belegandus, upon Ganelon’s advice, have been for two days and nights in ambush in the groves and hills about the pass. When Charles, with Ganelon and Turpin and the main body of the army, has gone through the defile, the two pagan kings, with ninety thousand followers, descend upon the rear guard. There is fierce fighting and the ninety thousand are slain to a man. But then a Saracen reserve of twenty thousand sweeps down, and the fatigued rear guard cannot hold its own. Every Christian is killed, except Roland, Baldwin, Turpin, Theodoric, and Ganelon. The pagans withdraw one league.
How does it happen that the Lord allowed those innocent of fornication to be slain along with the guilty? The answer is that, had the innocent lived to reach their homes, they might there have committed worse sins and thus have lost eternal life. As for the guilty ones, they wiped out their sin by the passion of the sword. This is a lesson to priests and other religious not to get drunk and sully themselves with women, for if they do so they will be conquered by their enemies (that is, evil spirits) and lose immortality.
After the battle Roland scouts about the pagan host. In a grove he comes upon a black Saracen, who is hiding. Roland seizes him and binds him to a tree. Then, after climbing a hill and reconnoitering the enemy forces, he returns to the route at Roncesvalles, on which some survivors’ are making for the pass. He blows his ivory horn and about a hundred Christians rally to him. With these he returns to his captive. They unbind the fellow and take him to a point from which they can view the pagan army. Roland forces him to point out Marsirius. Then the little band charges into the enemy ranks. Roland slays Marsirius, but all his followers are killed and he himself is gravely wounded.
Ch. XXVI. When Belegandus learns of the death of Marsirius, he and his warriors depart from the country.
The wounded Roland rides alone to the entrance of the pass of Cize, where he dismounts beside a marble rock under a tree. He draws his sword Durenda’ and, after apostrophizing it and voicing a mighty resolution that it shall never fall into unworthy hands, he brings it down thrice on the rock. What mores? The boulder is split in two but the sword is undamaged. Then he blows his horn of ivory, hoping that Christian refugees in the woods will come to him. So mighty is the blast that it is said to have split the horn down the middle and to have ruptured the veins and sinews of Roland’s neck. Charles, eight miles away in Valcarlos, hears its He proposes to return to Roland’s aid, but the scheming Ganelon dissuades him, saying that Roland is always blowing his horn without cause and that now he is probably merely hunting.
Baldwin passes by where Roland is lying and Roland asks him to fetch water. But Baldwin can find none, and, perceiving that Roland is nearly dead and fearing lest he himself fall into the hands of the Saracens, he gives Roland his benediction and rides away to overtake Charles. Then Theodoric appears. He laments over his comrade and urges him to make his confession. (Roland had taken communion and been confessed that morning before the battle; it was the custom of all warriors so to be prepared for death by bishops and priests who accompanied the army.) Roland utters a long and fervent prayer with formulas and gestures of repen tance.
Ch. XXVII: Roland dies and angels carry his soul up to heaven.
(There follow twenty elegiac verses.)
As I, Turpin, am saying a requiem before Charles in Valcarlos, in a trance I hear singing voices in the heavens and lo! as they pass over the zenith I see after them a phalanx of hideous warriors as if returning from a foray with booty. I ask these warriors what they are doing and they say that they are bearing Marsirius to hell and that the angel Michael is carrying that hero who blows the horn, and many other heroes, to heaven. As soon as mass is over, I tell Charles what I have Iearned. While I am still talking, Baldwin rides up and tells us of the disaster of Roncesvalles. The army hastens back along the route it has just traversed. Charles himself finds Roland and laments over him loud and long.
When the hero’s body has been embalmed, the army holds a wake over it the night through with songs and many fires.
Ch. XXVIII: Early in the morning Charles and his men go to the other dead and to the wounded, at the scene of the main battle. Oliver, flayed and horribly mutilated, lies bound to stakes which hold him in the form of a cross. There is great sound of lamentations as each warrior bewails his friends. Charles swears he will have revenge. He makes haste to move on after the Saracens; for his sake the sun stands still and that day has the length of three days. He comes upon the enemy at Saragossa on the Ebro and slays four thousand. Returning to Roncesvalles, Charles takes cognizance of widespread rumors that Ganelon has brought about the disaster. He orders an ordeal by combat. Pinabel represents Ganelon, Theodoric the accusers. Theodoric kills Pinabel. Charles causes Ganelon to be tied to four horses and so torn to death.
Ch. XXIX: The warriors take care of their dead friends bodies: cut the bellies and remove the stercora; they embalm the corpses with myrrh or balsam or, lacking those aromatic substances, as many do, with common salt. They prepare litters, or they fasten the bodies on horses, or carry them on their shoulders or in their arms. Some bodies are buried on the spot; in some instances a warrior transports the body of his friend to the latter’s home in France or another country, or transports it as far as he can until advancing decay forces him to commit it to the ground.’ The warriors carry the wounded on ladders over their shoulders.
Ch. XXX: Most of the dead of Roncesvalles, and also those who died miraculously in the chapel of Mount Garzin, are buried in the cemeteries of Arles and Bordeaux.
Ch. XXXI: Charles conducts the body of Roland on two mules to Blaye, where he has it entombed in the church of St Romain with the sword at the head and the trumpet at the feet. (Later the horn was shamefully removed to the church of St Séverin at Bordeaux.). Oliver, Gandeboldus, Ogier, Arastagnus, Guarinus, duke of Lorraine, and many others are buried at Belin. Happy that starveling village to have such relics! At St Séverin in Bordeaux are Gaifer, Engeler, Lambertus, Galerus, Gerin, Reinaldus, Gualterus, Guielinus, and Bego, with five thousand others. Hoel is entombed in his native Nantes with many of his Bretons.
Ch. XXXII: For the salvation of these men Charles gives to the poor a vast amount of money, clothing, and food, and in memory of Roland he gives outright to the church of St Romain all the land for six miles around and the castle of Blaye and its appurtenances and the sea below the town. Moreover, he frees the canons of this church from all offices except one: on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Roland and his companions, they shall feed and clothe thirty paupers and shall say thirty masses and psalters with vigils – the full services. This shall be done perpetually in commemoration not only of those who died at Roncesvalles but of all Christians who have at any time died or ever shall die for the faith in Spain.
Ch. XXXIII: When T, Turpin, with some of our warriors, have come from Blaye through Gascony and Toulouse to Arles, I meet the army of the Burgundians, who have parted from us in Ostabat and come through Morlaas and Toulouse bringing their wounded and their dead, whom they intend to bury in the cemetery of Aliscamps. These dead we inter.’ Constantine and many other Romans and many Apulians are taken by seat to Rome, where they are buried. For the sake of their souls Charles gives much money to the poor of Arles.
Ch. XXXIV: We come to Vienne, where I remain to recover from injuries. Charles proceeds to Paris. At Paris he honors the church of St Denis; then he goes on to Aachen, where he constructs the hot and cold baths and where he makes rich gifts to the church of the Virgin, which he himself has founded. On the walls of this church, and also on the walls of a palace which he has built next to the church, he causes to be painted representations of stories from the Old and New Testaments. On the walls of the palace he causes also to be painted representations of his wars in Spain, and of the Seven Liberal Arts. (The liberal arts of Grammar, Music, Dialectic, Geometric, Arithmetic, and Astronomy are characterized; Rhetoric is not mentioned.) Each art has its daughter, that is, its little book. Nigromancy is not depicted, for it is evil.
Ch. XXXV: Charles’s death is revealed to me in this wise: As I am once intoning the Deus in Adiutoriums at Vienne, in a vision I see a host of hideous warriors parading before me towards Lorraine; one, who looks like an Ethiopian, lags behind. I ask him where they are going, and he tells me that they are bound for Aachen to fetch the soul of Charles to hell. I conjure him in the name of the living God to come to me on the way back. I have scarcely finished my psalm when they return and the same demon tells me how they have fared. A certain headless Galician, he says, has put into the scales so many great stones and beams of churches which Charles has built that the good outweighs the bad and the soul of Charles escapes. Thus I learn that Charles is dead and, because of the beneficence of St James, to whom he has built many churches, is gone to heaven. Charles and I had made an agreement that if either felt himself about to die he would make arrangements that knowledge of his death, as soon as it occurred, would be carried to the other. Fifteen days after this vision a messenger arrives with news of Charles’s death, which occurred exactly at the time that I saw the hideous host, that is, on the twenty-eighth of January, in the year 814. The messenger tells me that after his return from Spain, Charles always commemorated the anniversary of the battle of Roncesvalles by making bounteous gifts to the poor and by causing requiems to be sung. The King is buried in the circular church of the Virgin at Aachen.
In the three years preceding his death, certain portents of that event were reported: the sun and the moon were dark for seven days; the name `Karolus princeps’ on the wall of the church of the Virgin disappeared miraculously; the door between this church and the palace fell of itself; a wooden bridge over the Rhine at Main; which Charles had built with much difficulty, burst spontaneously into flames and was consumed; a great flash of fire across his way as he was out riding so frightened Charles that he dropped his spear and fell from his horse.
In the foregoing exemplum’ it is shown that whoever builds churches prepares a place for himself in the heavenly kingdom.
Ch. XXXVI: It is fitting to add yet another miracle which Christ is said to have performed for Roland before that hero went to Spain. When the nephew of Charles had for seven years been besieging Grenoble, he received word by an angel’ that his uncle, shut up in a fortress in Worms and sore beset by three pagan kings, needed his aid. Roland was in a quandary – he was reluctant to lift the siege of Grenoble, and yet he was too pious a nephew to ignore an appeal from Charles. For three days he and his army fasted and prayed. At the end of that time the walls of Grenoble crumbled and Roland was able to go to Charles, whom he rescued.
May he who reads this book ask God’s grace for Turpin.
Ch. XXXVII (Pope Calixtus on the invention of Turpin’s remains): Turpin at Vienne, worn out by many wounds and hardships endured, did not long outlive Charles. He was buried outside the city across the Rhone. In our own times his body was rediscovered and removed over the river to a church in the city; and it is there now venerated.
It is to be believed that all who were martyred in Spain won the crown of eternal glory; moreover, Charles and Turpin, although they were not slain at Roncesvalles, have shared in the heavenly reward as they shared in the sufferings of their martyred comrades. As we were partakers of the suffering, said the Apostle, so shall we be also of the consolation.
Ch. XXXVIII: Galicia remains long in peace after Charles’s death. But Altumaior of Cordova (again) invades it; he comes to Compostela and plunders the apostolic church. Indeed, Saracens with their horses are quartered in the church, and the unholy men even evacuate beside the altar. For this impiety some of the men are smitten with dysentery, others become blind. Altumaior him self is afflicted in both ways. Upon the advice of one of his Christian captives, a priest, he calls upon the God of the Christians to restore his health and his sight, promising in return to abjure Mohammed. Fifteen days later he is again well. He leaves the Iand of St. James, exalting the true Creator and his apostle.
Ch. XXXIX: Later Altumaior invades Spain and plunders the church of St Romain at Ornix. One of his dukes, actuated by greed, attempts to chop down a rich pillar and is turned to stone – to this day the effigy remains and pilgrims say that it emits an evil odor. Altumaior is impressed by this miracle; again he praises the God of the Christians, whose disciples can thus defend themselves even after they are dead. Fie also makes the observation that St Romain is less merciful than St James, for whereas St James has restored Altumaior’s eyesight, St Romain, having turned a man to stone, lets him remain stone permanently.
Altumaior leaves Spain. And for long after, no Saracen dares invade the country of St James.
Ch. XL: Julius Caesar, so tradition runs, once sent three peoples, Nubilians, Irish, and tailed Cornubians, into Spain to punish the Spanish for failing to pay tribute. This punitive force was to kill all males and let the women live. They laid waste much of the land, but the Castilians routed them and drove them into the coastal mountains. Of the mountaineers they killed all the men and raped all the women. The children born of this rape were known as Navarri – that is, non veri, not true or legitimate by birth. The Navarri first took their name from the city of Nadaver, which Matthew converted to God.
Ch. XLI: Charles is known as Charles the Great for this reason: Once he stops at a nunnery for prayers after hunting. On this evening, a she- bear, which has been wont to attack the poor at the convent gate, makes a foray. Charles, armed by the abbess Landrada with a bar, slays the beast single handed, with one blow. His companions, who have skulked the while, give him the appellation.
At the same nunnery is a noble and pious girl named Amalberga, a ward of the abbess, Landrada. The young king falls in love with her. Amalberga is incorruptible; one day, however, the king attacks the girl. She breaks away from him and gets into the church, though she breaks her arm in doing so. She calls upon the Virgin and regains her calm; her arm, too, is made whole again. But fearing more trouble she flees with her brother Rodingus to their native Iand of Tempseca on the river Schelde. Thus is Charles saved from evil lust and thus does Amalberga preserve her chastity.
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