Jacob Baltuch jacob.baltuch at EURONET.BE
Sat Jul 11 18:23:08 UTC 1998

Again not related to India, but just so as not to leave the wrong impression
on non-European readers.

Yaroslav Vassilkov wrote:

>Well known example: there was no particular battle in the mountains
>with the "Saracenes", which is glorified in the Old French "Song of Roland",
>but its description absorbed the features of many real battles and the song
>itself reflects, we may say, the centuries of political confrontation on the
>southern borders of France between Christians and Muslims, Frenchmen - and
>Arabs and even Basques.

Well known example? You must be thinking of the "Slovo a polku Igoreve" :-)

What is well known to me is that there *was* a particular battle (not with
the "Saracenes" but with the Basques) on the 15th of August 778 at Roncevaux
in the Pyrenees where "Roland, le comte de la marche de Bretagne" (don't
know how to say this in English; the actual text of the chronicle is of
course in Latin) was killed while leading the rearguard of that Charles who
was later to become Chalemagne (at the time he wasn't yet emperor and not
even king)

Clearly the epic distorts the facts and includes many elements that have
nothing to do with history (even Germanic influences, if I remember cor-
rectly, e.g. the name of the emir "Ganelon", an entirely fictional character,
clearly) but the central theme of the epic does have its root in a (relatively
minor) historical event.

Btw, I was only kidding about the "Slovo". That epic too is rooted in a
historical event, namely the expedition of prince Igor' Svjatoslavic against
some Turkish people, in 1185. (Of course there have been questions about
the authenticity of the text, but that is a completely different problème.)

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