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Theme of Christianity in The Song of Roland

This research will compare and contrast the theme of Christianity in The Song of Roland and in selected New Testament books. Discussed will be the pattern of Christian ideas and the means by which those ideas overlap and converge or diverge in the medieval poem and the Biblical texts.

By the time the epic The Song of Roland appeared in France in the 12th century, the figure of Roland as a legendary 8th-century hero and member of the court of Charlemagne had been well established. Equally, Charlemagne had been positioned in history as a champion of the Roman Church in Europe. Charlemagne's biographer Einhard, a member of the court, developed the king's biography in a way that would legitimate, rationalize--perhaps excuse--the behavior of Charlemagne as a conquering hero. It is Einhard's stated intent to immortalize a king by declaring moral weight and political legitimacy for Charlemagne's actions throughout Europe. Einhard refers to "all the wars that Charlemagne waged" (59). For example, Einhard reports that "everything stolen by the Longobard Kings was restored to Hadrian, the ruler of the Church of Rome" (61). Charlemagne had saved the Church, the most important and stable of medieval institutions; it follows that Charlemagne's mission as king and the Church's mission in the world are identified. As one of the courtiers in The Song of Roland puts it: "King of the Franks, be yours the grace of God; / That God whom all should serve" (SR 6). In his later years, having saved a second pope (Leo) from enemies and having been formally crowned "Emperor and Augustus" (81), with the coronation of Charlemagne as the first Holy Roman Emperor, Christianity and European statism were united.

The relevance of Charlemagne's history to the history of Christianity and to The Song of Roland is the fact that, under Charlemagne, Christianity was identified with the institution of the Church. And just as at its origin Christianity was in sig...

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Theme of Christianity in The Song of Roland. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 18:01, February 20, 2017, from