[Books Four and Five are translations of the Pseudo-Turpin; editions by Castets, Reiffenberg, Meredith-Jones, Smyser (shorter version); see also Walpole's edition of earlier French translation. Meredith Jones' introduction is very useful; this material may be seen as a panegyric directed towards Charlemagne, or towards St. James of Compestella, or towards Frederick Barbarossa. The third suggestion is made by Gerhard Rauschen, in Die Legende Karls des Grossen im 11-12 Jahrhundert. 1890].

When the emperor Charlemagne had conquered all these lands and foreign places, countless cities and castles, from one sea to the other, with the aid of Our Lord, and he had taken them out of the hands of the pagans, and converted them to the Christian faith, as the history related previously, he was weary from having led great armies so many times against his enemies, and exhausted by the great efforts he had gone through. In his heart he intended to fight no longer, but would, instead, devote the rest of his life to peace and rest, if holy Church no longer needed him. But Our Lord, who wanted the Christian faith to continue to grow, changed the emperor's intentions, and we shall tell you about it.

One night Charles looked up at the sky and say a path of stars, which seemed to him to begin at the Frisian sea, to cross Germany and Lombardy, to pass through France and Aquitaine, through Bascle and Gascony, through Spain and Navarre, moving directly to Galicia, where the body of Saint James lay in an unmarked grave. He saw this sign several nights, then began to ponder deep in his heart on its meaning. One night, while he was deep in thought about this, a man of indescribable beauty appeared to him, and said: "Dear son, what are you doing?" Charlemagne replied: "Sir, who are you?" and he said: "I am the apostle James, the disciple of Jesus Christ, son of Zebediah, brother of John the evangelist, whom Our Lord chose by his grace on the sea of Galilee to preach his faith to the people, and I am he whom king Herod martyred by the sword. I am much troubled that my body lies in an unmarked grave in Galicia, foully treated at the hands of the Saracens; I marvel that you, who have conquered so many cities and lands in your time, have not delivered the land where my body lies from the unbelievers. Therefore I want you to know that just as Our Lord has made you powerful above all other earthly kings, so has he chosen you to deliver my land from the hands of the Saracens, and to clear a path for pilgrims to the place where my body lies, so that he may give you the crown of victory and the joy of paradise. And the road of stars that you have seen in the sky means that you will go, with a great army, into this area, to destroy the pagans and to deliver my land and my tomb from the hands of the Saracens; then all the people who live in the land between the seas will follow you in pilgrimage to implore Our Lord to pardon their sins. Afterwards, all your life long, until the end of this age, they will speak of the overwhelming miracles that Our Lord did for his friends. Get ready then, and depart as quickly as you can, for I shall aid you in all your dangers, and your name will forever be praised, and I shall beg Our Lord to grant you an eternal crown in the joy of paradise." Three times saint James appeared in this way to Charlemagne.

When Charlemagne heard this, he was very happy, especially because the apostle had promised him the joy of paradise. He assembled his army from all parts of his kingdom and forcefully attacked Spain, to destroy the enemies of the Christian faith, and to exalt the name of Jesus Christ.

Pampeluna was the first city to which he laid siege; after three months, he could not take it, because its walls were too strong, and its location too protected. Then he prayed to God, saying: "Jesus Christ, lord, to exalt whose faith I have come into this region to destroy the Saracen people, grant that I may capture this city, for the glory and praise of your name; and you saint James, if you really did appear to me, pray to Our Lord that he permit me to take this city." As soon as he said this, the walls of the city crumbled and fell to the ground. The French entered the city, let the Saracens who accepted baptism keep their lives, and killed those who remained unbelievers. When news of this miracle spread through the country, the Saracen princes came before Charlemagne wherever he went, humbled themselves, gave their cities up to him, while those who did not come before him sent him tribute; in this way he made all of Spain his tributary. The Saracens were amazed to see that the French were so handsome, strong, proud, and well-equipped with arms, horses, and other gear. They put their arms down, and gave them an honorable and peaceful welcome.

In this way, Charlemagne and his army went through all of Gascony, Navarre, and Spain, as far as Galicia, taking cities and castles. He paid a devout visit to the tomb of saint James, then went on to Perron (El-Padron today), without meeting any resistance. He tested the depth of the sea with his lance, and when he saw that he could go no further, he gave thanks to God and to saint James, by whose aid and consent he had come this far. The Galicians, who had reverted to paganism after the time of saint James and his disciples, were baptized by the hand of archbishop Turpin. After these accomplishments, he moved through all of Spain, from one sea to the other.



The names of the cities and the larger towns captured by Charlemagne in Spain follow, at least as they were named at the time that they were conquered, for by chance, some of the names have changed, as has often happened elsewhere: Visunia, Lamegue, Humya, Colimbre, Lugue, Haurenes, Yria, Thuda, Mydoine, Bracayre (which is the major city in this area), Wimarana, Crunya, Compostel, the city in which the body of saint James lies, which was, in his time, very small. All these cities in Galicia were conquered by Charlemagne.

The names of others which he conquered elsewhere in Spain are: Aaucale, Godefare, Thalamanque, Uzede, Ulmas, Kanalyas, Madritha, Makueda, Saint Eulalie, Thalavera, which is very fertile, Medinacelim (which means "high city"), Bellangua, Osma, Segontia, Segovya (a very large city), Haavilla, Salahamance, Sepullegua, Tholeste, Kalatrava, Godyana, Emerithe, Althamore, Palance, Luiserne, Venthouse (which is also called Carcesse); it is situated in a place called Vauvert [translation of quae est in valle viridi, as applied in Latin to Luiserne]. Caparra, Austurgua, Ovente, Legye, Karrion, Burgues, Nadres, Kalaguria, Urence, Lestoile, Kalathahus, Miraclar, Tuthele, Saragossa, Pampeluna, Baoine, Jasque, Osque (which is enclosed by 90 towers), Terragone, Barbastre, Rozas, Urgelle, Elne, Geronde, Barcelona, Tarragon, Leryde, Tortouse (a very strong city), Barbagalle (also a very strong city), Aurelye (the third very strong city), Algaleth, Azanye, Yspalide (Seville today), Escalona, Horamalangue (Malaga), Horaburriene (Burriana), Horacotente [error in translation of ora, quo tantae], Hubeda, Baecia, Petrousa (gold is made in this city), Valencia, Denie, Sathive, Granada, Seville, Cordova, Albula, and Azintine, in which city lies the body of saint Torquatus the confessor, who was the servant of saint James. At his grave there was an olive tree which bloomed each year, bearing fruit miraculously on the holiday, that is, on the ides of the month of May. Then there was the city of Beserte (Bizerte, Tunisia), which the very powerful knights called Arabic live. The great isles (the Balearics), Bougie (Bougie, Algeria), which is a kingdom; the isle of Gabibe (maybe Cadiz); the city of Gouaren (Oran, Algeria), which is in Barbary; Meloyde (perhaps Malta); Evice, Formenthere, Alchoraz, Almarie, Moneque, Gibraltar, Carthage, Septe (Ceuta), which is in the strait of Spain, where the sea is very narrow; Gesir (Algesiras), and Tharuz (Tarifa). Charlemagne not only conquered all of these lands, but all of the land of Landalulf (Andalousia), all of Portugal, Serrane (this for the Latin Tellus Sarracenorum), Catalonia, Navarre, all the land of the Basques, and many other lands which are not named here, to avoid confusion.

All of the cities and lands named here submitted to Charlemagne's authority. He conquered some of the cities without a battle, some by great cleverness, and some by force, but he could not take the city of Luiserne, which is located in a valley named Vauvert, until the very end, for it was too strong and too well garrisoned. Finally, after laying siege to it for nearly four months, seeing that he could not take it by force, he prayed to Our Lord and to saint James. The walls fell, and it stood empty, and a great river, like a black and terrifying pool, rose up in the midst of the city; within the river swam large, entirely black fish, which may still, in our own day, be seen swimming in it.

Some ancient kings of France, and some Roman emperors at times had captured some of the cities named above -- Clovis, the first Christian king, Lothar, Dagobert, Pepin, Charles Martel, for example. They conquered part of Spain, and part they left untouched; but Charlemagne the great conquered all of it, and made it obey his commands. There were four cities on which he laid a curse after he had conquered them with great difficulty; cursed and uninhabited until the present day are: Luiserne, Venthouse (these two were a single town), Cappara and Adama (Viard suggests that the author of the Pseudo-Turpin at this point had in mind Adam in Palestine, which was destroyed at the time of Sodom and Gomorrah).

He entirely destroyed all the temples and idols of the Saracens that he found in Spain, with only one exception, which was in the land of Landaluf; its name was Salancadis, which means the gods of Cadiz, for the word Cadiz is the proper name of the place, and Salam, in Arabic, means God. The Saracens say that their god Mahomet made this image in his own name while he lived, and, by means of necromancy, he enclosed and shut up in it a legion of devils; they protect this image so powerfully that no one can break it, and if any Christians come near it, they will either die immediately, or be in great danger of dying. If Saracens approach it, however, they come away hale and hearty. If, by chance, a bird alight upon it, it dies instantly. At this point, we wish to describe the location of this idol. On the shore of the river is a high rock, elaborately ornamented in ancient Saracen style, broad and square below, and narrow and lofty on top, as high as a crow can fly. On this high column was the idol, standing on its feet, made of fine copper, shaped like a man. In its right hand it held a key, its face turned toward the south. The Saracens predicted that the key would fall from its hand in the year that a king would be born in France, in the last days of this age, who would convert the entire land of Spain to the Christian faith. When the people of the land see that the key has fallen, they will hide their wealth in the earth, and abandon Spain.

With the gold and the wealth that the kings and princes of Spain gave and presented to Charlemagne, the emperor built the church of Saint James, in the three years that he remained in the country. He established a patriarch and canons there, according to the rule of saint Isidore the confessor. He built it nobly, decorating it with bells, silken cloths, books, texts, crosses and calixes, and other ornaments. With the rest of the gold and silver that he brought from Spain he constructed many churches on his return to France. These include the church of Our Lady Saint Mary in Aix-la-Chapelle; the church of Saint James, in the same city; another church of Saint James in the city of Bediers (Beziers); and another church of Saint James in the city of Toulouse; a fourth church of Saint James in Gascony, in the city of Axa (Dax); Saint John of Sorges, on the pilgrims' road; and the fifth Saint James, in the city of Paris, between the Seine and Montmartre; as well as innummerable churches and abbeys that he built and founded throughout the world.


A short while after Charlemagne returned to France, a pagan king from Africa, named Agolant, invaded Spain with a great army, conquering the land, cities and castles, that Charlemagne had captured, driving out all the Christians who had been left to guard them, and killing some of them. When Charlemagne heard of this, he assembled his army and again invaded Spain. This time the leader of his army was duke Milo of Anglier (Roland's father, and Charles' brother-in-law; Gautier III, 64-70).

An incident(ThKm VII). At this point we would like to tell of a marvelous adventure that happened to this army, to give an example of what happens to those who keep for themselves legacies which should be distributed among the poor for the souls of the dead. One day, the army was bivouaced in the land of the Basques, near a city named Bayonne. There a knight named Romaric became ill, laid down in bed, and, feeling himself getting worse, confessed to a priest, and received his savior. He told one of his cousins to sell his horse and distribute the money among the poor, for the sake of his soul. After his death, his cousin sold the horse for a hundred sous; the money that he should have distributed to the poor, for the soul of the dead man, he spent instead on clothes and food. Because the vengeance of the sovereign judge sometimes pursues the evil-doer, the dead man suddenly appeared to the living one at the end of of thirty days. He lay in his bed as though in a trance, and said: "Know that Our Lord has pardoned my sins, and that because you have kept for thirty days what I told you to distribute among the poor, for the sake of my soul, I have remained that long in Purgatory. By God's mercy I have been released, and you may be certain that tomorrow I shall be seated in the glory of paradise, and you will be placed in the torments of hell." The dead man then vanished, and the living man was terribly frightened and anguished in his heart. In the morning, he began to tell everyone who was willing to listen about his vision. News of this event spread everywhere; while the army was abuzz with talk about this, frightening voices were heard suddenly in the air above the man who was reconting the vision, and there seemed to be wolves howling and lions roaring, and the devils suddenly seized the man, in front of everyone standing there. For three days men on horseback hunted for him through the mountains and valleys, but he could not be found. About twelve days after this happened, the army was riding through the land of Navarre, when they happened upon the body, frozen on top of a rock, four days journey from the city mentioned above. When the devils snatched him, they carried him through the air a space of three leagues, in the direction of the sea; they threw him onto the rock, and carried his soul off to the pains of hell. May this case demonstrate to everyone that those who keep for their own use the legacies of the dead are damned forever.

Charlemagne and duke Milo of Anglier, who was the leader of the army, began to seek out Agolant throughout Spain. They looked so carefully that they found him, in a country called the land of fields, at a river named the Cea, in the midst of a field located on a large, broad plain. In this place Charlemagne founded a church in honor of the two martyrs, Facundus and Primitivus, and an abbey where the bodies of the two martyrs rest, now there is a large and prosperous town which is located in the same place. Charlemagne rode on until the two armies approached each other. Agolant then bid Charlemagne fight in any manner he chose: twenty against twenty, forty against forty, one hundred against one hundred, 1000 against 1000, or one-to-one. Charlemagne sent 100 Christians against 100 Saracens, and the Saracenss were killed; Agolant sent another 100, and they were quickly killed. Finally, Agolant sent 2000 against 2000; 1000 of his men were killed, and 1000 fled. When Agolant saw that he had lost his people under all conditions, he secretly threw lots and found that Charlemagne would lose. Then he called for open battle the next day, and Charlemagne accepted, and both sides agreed to fight. Some of the Christians prepared their arms carefully and well to fight the next day, and in the evening they set their lances in the earth in front of their tents, in the midst of the meadow along the river mentioned above. In the morning they found them grown into the earth, covered with bark and leaves; only the lances of those who would receive martyrdom for the faith of Jesus Christ (were so covered). They were struck with unimaginable wonder, and attributed this miracle to the praise of Jesus Christ. They cut their lances from the ground, and the part that remained multiplied into a great woods, which, in our own day, is still evident in this same place, for there were many lances. This was a miraculous sign, pointing to great spiritual joy and profit; many men were killed and their bodies martyred.

What more can one say to you? The battle took place the next day; 40,000 Christians were killed, among them Milo of Angliers, the father of Roland, and leader of the army. Those who were killed were the ones whose lances had sprouted leaves the night before the battle; they all became martyrs out of love for Our Lord. Charlemagne was himself in great danger, and his horse was killed under him. 2000 Christian infantrymen stood around him, with the emperor also on foot, drawing his sword, Joieuse, and striking out with great strength in the midst of the Saracens. There he struck many a pagan, spreading remarkable slaughter around him. At nightfall, the Christians and Saracens went back to their tents.

The next day four marquis from Italy, with 4000 men, came to help Charlemagne. But Agolant knew that help had come, and he retreated; Charlemagne then returned with his entire army to France [last phrase added by Primat].

The miracle just described, in which the lances took root in the ground, signifies the salvation of the souls of those whose lances grew leaves, and ourselves as well. For even as Charlemagne's knights prepared their arms to fight against their enemies, even so should we prepare our arms, that is, our good powers to fight the vices. Thus shall we have the faith to fight against the heresy of Bogres [the Latin has merely: contra haereticam praevitatem.] charity to help us fight against envy, generosity against avarice, humility against pride, chastity against lechery, prayer against temptation, poverty against the pursuit of worldly goods, perseverance against fickleness, silence against dispute, obedience against carnal desire. Our lances will flower before Our Lord at the day of judgement. Oh, how happy and flourishing in paradise the soul of the conqueror who shall have fought faithfully against the vices will be, for only those will be crowned who shall have fought faithfully against the vices. Even as Charlemagne's knights died in battle, so we must die to the vices and live in the world of holy virtues, that we may deserve the flowering crown of victory in the joy of paradise.


While Charlemagne remained in France gathering his army, Agolant searched everywhere, gathering a remarkably large army from various nations: Moors, Moabithiens, Ethiopians, Sairans, Turks, Africans and Persians, and as many Saracen kings and princes as he could gather from all parts of the world. There were Thexophine, the king of Arabia; Buriabel, the king of Alexandria; Avitus, the king of Bougie; Hospine, the king of Agabibe (Algarve); Fantime, the king of Barbary; Allis, the king of Morocco; Maimone, the king of Mecca; Ebrechim, the king of Seville; and the almancor of Cordova.

Thus Agolant came, with his entire army, to a city of Gascony named Aggeni (Agen), and took it by force. Then Agolant sent a message to Charlemagne, telling him to come peacefully, with a small company of knights, promising him that he would give him gold and silver and 60 horses laden with wealth, if he would only become his subject, and obey his commands. He made this offer to discover what Charlemagne looked like, that he might more easily kill him in battle. But Charlemagne, who understood his malicious intentions, took 2000 of his best men with him, and arrived four miles from the city of Agnes, where Agolant and his army were. He secretly placed them in hiding when he approached the city, and took with him only 60 men, leading them to the top of a high mountain 1from which he could clearly survey the whole city. He left them there and changed his clothing; in the guise of an emissary, without a lance, and with his shield tied to his back, as emisaries travel in time of war, he took only one companion and went down to the city. Some of the Saracens came out to meet them, and asked who they were and what they wanted. They replied: "We are emissaries of the great king Charlemagne, who sent us hear to speak to your king Agolant." The Saracens took them and led them before Agolant, and they said to him: "King Charlemagne has sent us to you, to tell you that he is coming to speak to you, bringing with him only 60 knights to carry out your command; he wishes to ride with you, and to be your man, if you will do what you promised. For this purpose, he wants you to come to him, with 60 of your men and no more, and you make speak in peace to him." Then Agolant told them to return to Charlemagne and tell him that he awaited him.

When they had left, Agolant armed himself, together with the men he wanted to come with him. He did not know that he had been talking to Charlemagne. Charlemagne, however, now knew who Agolant and the men who were with him were. He also saw the position of the city, and could guess from which direction it would be easiest to capture it. He returned to the 60 knights he had left on the mountain, and then to the 2000, and Agolant followed him, with all 7000 Saracens, to kill him if he could. By riding swiftly, however, Charlemagne outdistanced Agolant [Primat's mais il s'avancierent si, par tost chevauchier, que Aygolant ne les pot ataindre is a considerable expansion of the Latin, fugere coeperunt]. Charlemagne then returned to France, assembled his army, and returned to Spain, coming before the city where Agolant and his troops were. He surrounded the place, and laid siege to Agolant and his people for approximately six months. In the seventh month he drew up his catapults and battering rams, began to mine the walls, and pushed his wooden towers forward towards the walls of the city. When Agolant saw that he was in a difficult position, he and most of his army slipped out of the city one night, by secret passages [in the Latin, per latrinas et foramina], and fled across the Gironde, which ran near the city. In this way Agolant escaped this time from Charlemagne's hands.

The next day the Christians entered the city with great joy, killing some of the Saracens whom they found within it, while others fled across the Gironde; in any event, about 10,000 Saracens were killed.

Agolant and his people fled to the city of Saints, which was then in the hands of the Saracens. Charlemagne followed them and demanded that he give the city up to him; Agolant answered that he would not give it up, but was willing to fight on the condition that the city would belong to the winner. Both sides agreed to the fight. On the day before the Christians had lined up in front of their tents in preparation for the battle, a miracle happened in a field between the city and a castle named Tailleborc. They had placed their lances in the ground in front of their tents, and the next day they found that they had taken root, with bark and leaves growing on the lances of those who would receive martyrdom in this battle. This same miracle had happened before another battle, as the history related above.

Those who saw their lances with leaves and taking root were very happy with this miracle, and they cut them from the earth. They assembled in one division and were the first to strike in the battle. The killed many Saracens, but finally received martyrdom for Our Lord. The number of those who died was around 4000. Charlemagne himself was in great danger in this battle, and his horse was killed under him, and he was hard-pressed by the pagan forces. He recovered his spirit and his energy, and, together with his infantry, struck with great power, creating great slaughter. Finally, the Saracens were unable to endure his strength, and they abandoned the battle, fleeing back to the city, and Charlemagne followed them and laid siege to the city from all sides, except from the river.

The next day, after midnight, Agolant fled across the river, which was called the Charente (no name given in the Latin), but Charlemagne and his men saw them and pursued them. In the chase, the king of Gababile (Algarve) and the king of Bougie, and about 4000 other Saracens were killed.

Agolant then abandoned the land of Gascony, going beyond the passes [in the Latin, transmeavit portus Cisereos], and reaching Pampelona, where he fortified the city, and replaced the walls that had fallen [during one of the previous miracles; Primat here suppresses some material in the Latin]. He sent to Charlemagne, to tell him that he would wait there for him, and he would fight him in open battle. Meanwhile, Agolant recruited for his army from everywhere, collecting many divisions of fighters and making great preparations for battle. When Charlemagne heard of this, he did not wish to pursue him, because his army was tired from traveling and fighting, and was much weakened and diminished by the death of many fine men. Therefore he returned to France, particularly for the purpose of raising a larger army. He assembled kings, princes, and dukes, and had announcements made everywhere that all disagreements had been settled, and that a firm peace had been established. He pardoned all those whom he hated, and to those who were unable to furnish arms for themselves because they were too poor, he gave arms and equipment.

Here are the names of the greatest princes who went with him to Spain:

Duke Roland, count of Le Mans and lord of Blaives (Blaye), nephew of Charlemagne, son of his sister Bertha and son of duke Milo of Angliers, leader of the army and leader in battle, accompanied by 4000 fighting men; Oliver, count of Genes, son of count Renier, also with 4000; Estout, count of Langres, with 4000; Arastannes, the king of Britanny, with 7000, for at that time there was a king in Britanny [not an exact translation of the Latin, alius tamen rex tempore ipsius in Britannia erat, de quo mentio nunc ad plenum non fit]; Angeliers, the Gascon, duke of Aquitaine, with 4000; Gaifiers, king of Bordeaux, with 4000; Gerin, Gerier, Salemon, Estouz the Scot [or Irishman; the Latin, however, has Salomon, socius Estulti) and Baudoin, Roland's brother altogether brought 10,000 fighting men; Godebues, the king of Frisia, came there with 4000; Hoyaus, the count of Nantes, brought 2000; Hernaud of Beaulande brought 2000; Naimes, the duke of Bavaria, 10,000; Ogiers, the king of Denmark, 10,000; Lambert, the prince of Bourges, 2000; Samson, the duke of Burgundy, 10,000; Constantine, the provost of Rome, 20,000; Renaud of Aubespine, Walter of Termes, Guelin, Guerin, the duke of Lorraine, altogether brought 4000; Begues, Auberiz the Burgundian, Bernard of Nubles, Guinard, Estormiz, Thierry, Yvoire, Berenger, and Hato, all of these men brought a large army. Turpin, the archbishop of Rheims, and Ganelon, the traitor who sold the twelve peers to king Marsilion, brought a large army. Charlemagne took 40,000 knights from his own land, and countless men and infantry from other countries. Thus Charlemagne invaded Spain with all of his very large army, and occupied the mountains before the city of Pamplona, where Agolant waited to fight. But when he saw the great army that he had brought, he was astonished at Charlemagne's power, and he became so afraid that he did not dare fight him, but asked for a truce, to speak to Charlemagne, and the emperor willingly granted him one.


The day after the truce had been granted, Agolant and his people came out of the city, leaving his army near the town. He took with him 60 of his most important men, and came to Charlemagne, who was a mile from the city. The Christian and Saracen armies were encamped in a very large, very beautiful field very near the city; it was easily six miles wide and six miles long. In the middle was the road of Saint James, which divided the two armies. When Agolant came before Charlemagne he said:

"Are you Agolant, who has taken my land by trickery and faithlessness? I have conquered Gascony and Spain with the aid of Our Lord, and have converted them to the Christian faith, made the kings and princes submit to my authority and empire, and you have killed the Christians, captured my cities and castles, laid waste all my land with fire and slaughter after my return to France, all of which has caused me much grief."

When Agolant heard Charlemagne speaking to him in Arabic, he was astonished, and very happy, for Charlemagne had learned the Saracen language in the city of Toledo, where he had spent part of his childhood. Then Agolant replied:

"I beg you to tell me why you have taken the land from our people which does not belong to you by inheritance; neither your father, nor your grandfather, nor your great-grandfather, nor anyone of your lineage ever owned it."

And Charles replied: "We say that this land is ours because Our Lord Jesus Christ, creator of the sky and the earth, has chosen our Christian people above all others, and decreed that our race shall be mistress of the entire world. Therefore I have converted your Saracen people to our faith, as much as I have been able."

Agolant replied: "It is not right that our people be subject to yours, since our law is more powerful than yours; for we have Mahomet, the messenger of God, sent to the Saracen people, whose commands we obey. We have our all-powerful Gods who, by Mahomet's commands, announces to us things to come. We believe in these gods, and we worship them, by whom we live and rule."

"Agolant," said Charlemagne, "your are wrong in saying that you keep the commandments of God, for you have the commandments and the false law of a mortal man, full of every vanity, and you believe in and worship the devil in false idols; but we keep the true commandments of God, and we believe in and adore the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and for this belief our souls go to the joy of Paradise, because of the holy faith that we keep. Your people, however, are going to the depths of hell for the false belief that you hold." Therefore it is clear that our faith is superior to your law, for which reason I advise you and your people to accept baptism and live, or come fight me and receive grievous death both bodily and spiritually [he Latin has merely ut male moriaris for this last phrase, and the Johannes translation que tu muires de la male mort]."

Agolant replied: "I shall never accept baptism, denying and abandoning Mahomet, my all-powerful God. Instead, I and my people shall fight you and yours, with the understanding that if our law is more pleasing to God than yours, you will be defeated, and if your law is superior, you will be victorious. Let there be shame and dishonor forever for the losers, and praise and honor for the winners, and if it happens that our people are defeated, I shall accept baptism if I am still alive."

Thus both sides agreed, and separated. Charlemagne then sent 20 Christians against 20 Saracens, and the Saracens were quickly killed; then 40 were sent against 40, and again the Saracens were killed; then 100 against 100, and the pagans again were killed; and then another 100 against 100, but this time the Christians were killed, because they fled in fear of their lives. Those who died because they fled symbolize the sloth of some, who fight weakly against the vices, for even as those who fight for the faith should not flee or retreat, so those who fight against the devil should not flee or retreat; if they retreat, they will die in sin. But those who fight strongly easily vanquish the devil who is in charge of sins.

Then 200 were sent against 200, and then 1000 against 1000, and the Saracens were always killed. Agolant then asked Charlemagne for a truce, to speak to him, and to tell him that the Christian faith was susperior to his own. He came to Charlemagne and told him that he and his people would accept baptism the next day. Then he returned to his own people and told his kings and princes that he wished to be baptized, and he ordered all of his people to prepare to be baptized; some agreed and some refused.

The next day, exactly at the hour of tierce, Agolant came to Charlemagne to receive baptism. At the time of his arrival, Charlemagne and his men were seated and eating. When he saw him sitting at his table, with many other tables prepared around him, and he saw that those who were eating were wearing different clothes, some dressed as knights, others as bishops, others as monks, others as canons regular, and others as clerics, he asked what kind of men composed each group.

Charlemagne said: "Those whom you see dressed in rich robes all of one color are the bishops and priests of our law, who preach to us, and explain the commandments of Our Lord. The absolve us of our sins, and give us the blessing of Our Lord. Those whom you see in black clothing are the monks and abbots, who are holier than the others; they never cease supplicating the divine majesty for our sakes. The next ones you see, who are in white clothing, are called the canons regular, who live according to the rule of the blessed, and also pray for us and sing masses and hours for our faith."

Among other things, Agolant noticed another section, where he saw 13 paupers [Latin text offers 12, to parallel the 12 apostles] dressed in poor robes, who ate on the ground, without a table and without a tablecloth, and who had little to eat and to drink. He asked Charlemagne who they were. "These," he said, "are the people of God, messengers of Jesus Christ, whom we feed every day in the name of the 12 apostles." Agolant replied: "Those who are near you are your own men, and they are fortunate, and they eat and drink well, and are dressed well and nobly, and those who you say are the messengers of your God, why do you permit them to be hungry and uncomfortable, and seated so far from you and treated so badly? They serve their lord badly who give his messengers such a poor welcome. He shows great disrespect for his lord who treats his messengers so. Your law, which you claim to be so good, demonstrates by this action that it is false." After these words, he left and returned to his own people, refusing the holy baptism that he had wished to accept, and the next day he challenged Charlemagne to battle. When Charlemagne heard that he had refused baptism because he saw the poor people badly treated, he ordered that they be dressed decently, and given enough wine and food.

At this point everyone should be advised that he is guilty towards Our Lord who does not feed his poor in time of need. If Charlemagne lost the chance of baptizing Agolant and his people beuse he saw the poor badly treated, on the day of judgement what will become of those who have mistreated the poor in this mortal life? How will they be able to listen to the horrible sentence of Our Lord, when he will say: "Go, you who are damned, into eternal fire, for when I was hungry, you would not give me anything to eat." Therefore we should consider that the faith and the law of Our Lord is worth little to a Christian, if it is not fulfilled by deeds, according to the apostle who says that even as the body is dead without the soul, so is faith dead without good works. Even as the pagan king rejected baptism because he did not see Charlemagne behaving justly, so I fear that Our Lord may refuse us the faith of baptism on the day of judgement, because he will not find good works in us.


The next day they all came armed to fight on the field of battle, according to the agreement made by the two kings. Charlemagne had 134,000 men, and Agolant's people amounted to 100,000. The Christians formed four battalions with all their people, and the Saracens five. Those who were the first to join battle with our people were quickly defeated; then the second group came on, and were quickly defeated. When the Saracens saw that they were losing, they formed their other three battalions into one, with Agolant in the middle. When the Christians saw this, they came together from all directions; from one direction came Hernaut of Beauland, with his entire army; from another direction came count Estout of Langres, with all of his people; from another direction, Gondbues, the king of Frisia, with his army; from another direction, king Constantine and his people; from another direction, Roland and Oliver with all their people; and from another direction, Charlemagne and all of his army. First to strike against them was Hernaut of Beauland, killing and laying low men to his right and left until he reached king Agolant, who was surrounded by his people. He struck so powerfully with his sword that he killed him. Then a great shout went up on all sides; Christians fell upon Saracens from all sides, attacking and massacring them. The slaughter of Saracens was so great that none escaped, with the exception of the king of Seville, and the emir of Cordova, and some of their people, who fled in a small group. On that day so much blood was spilled that the victors swam in blood up to their ankles. The city was captured, and all the Saracens who were found inside it were killed.

Charlemagne killed Agolant because he fought him in defense of the Christian faith. This shows that it is superior to all kinds of laws and beliefs in its goodness, that all other kinds of beliefs are errors and heresies, and that Christianity alone surpasses the angels and archangels in heaven.

Oh you Christians, if you hold fast to your faith and fulfil the commandments of the Evangelist by your deeds, you will surpass the angels in Paradise, together with your head, Jesus Christ, whose limbs you are. If, then, you wish to climb so high, believe firmly, for, as the scripture says: "He who believes firmly can do anything."

Extremely happy, Charlemagne then assembled his army from everywhere, thanked Our Lord for such a great victory, and went as far as the bridge of Arge, in the town of Saint James [Latin has ad pontem Arge, via iacobitana], where he had the tents pitched.

That same night, unknown to Charlemagne, some Christians returned to the field of battle, where the Saracens lay dead, out of greed for gold and silver and other riches. When they decided to return to the Christian army, laden with the spoils of the dead, the emir of Cordova and other Saracens who had escaped from the field of battle and hidden in the mountains, ran upon them and killed all of them, both the greatest and the least. About 1000 men were killed in this way.

Such people symbolize those who fight in this world against the world; even as those who returned to the dead bodies that they had previously vanquished, coveiting their riches, and were killed by their enemies, so those who have vanquished the vices and repented should not return to the vices, to avoid being killed by the devils, thus coming to a bad end. Even as those who returned to the foreign booty lost life here on earth and received a horrible death, so are those who have devoted themselves to a religious life, abandoning the world, who then return to devote themselves to worldly honors. Such people, if they are not careful, lose celestial life and embrace everlasting death.

The next day, Charlemagne was told that one of the princes of Navarre, whose name was Forrez (Furre in Latin text), was preparing to fight against him; he was in a castle located on the mountain of Gazigni (Garzin in Latin, Monjardin today). Charlemagne arrived and the Saracen prepared to fight him. The evening before the day of the battle, Charlemagne prayed to Our Lord that all those who were going to die in the battle might be distinguished from the others. When everyone was armed, Our Lord made such a demonstration, for red crosses appeared above the hauberks, on the shoulders of those who would do in this battle. Then Charlemagne separated them from the others and shut them up in a chapel, so that they would not be killed. What more could one tell you? The battle was waged, the Saracens defeated, prince Furre killed, together with 3000 Saracens, and the Christians whom Charlemagne had locked up in the chapel were found dead, 150 of them. Oh, how the judgement and the ways of Our Lord are hidden. Oh! how blessed is the holy company of the champions of Our Lord, who does not want their merits to perish; for even though they did not perish by the swords of their enemies, that did not prevent them from achieving the victory of martyrdom. When Furre and his people were killed, Charlemagne took the castle of Monjardin and all the land of Navarre.


When these things were done, Charlemagne was told that Fernaguz, a giant descended from Goliath, had come from Syria to the city of Nadres (Najera). The amiral of Babylon had sent him, together with 20,000 Turks, against Charlemagne, to defend the land of Spain. He had the strength of 40 strong men, and feared neither lance nor arrow.

Charlemagne arrived as soon as possible. when the giant knew that he had come, he came out of the castle of the city and demanded single combat with a knight. Charlemagne first sent Ogier the Dane. When Fernaguz saw him alone in the field, he went directly up to him, took him by the right hand, embraced him, and carried him in front of everyone to the castle, as easily as though he were a sheep. The giant was 12 cubits in height, his face one cubit, his nose a palm, his arms and thighs each four cubits, and the fingers of his hands three fists long.

Renaud of Aubespine followed Ogier, and the giant took him in one arm and carried him to prison. Next Constantine, the provost of Rome, and Hoiaus, the count of Nantes, went forward and he took both of them at once in his arms, and carried them off to prison. Then 20 of the most powerful knights in the army were sent forward, and the giant carried them all, two-by-two, into the city and put them in prison. When the emperor saw the giant's strength, he did not dare to send any more men; the entire army was astonished at the marvels he had performed.

Roland, who never feared any man, then went to Charlemagne and asked permission to fight against Fernaguz, and the emperor, who was afraid for him, granted him what he pleaded for. Roland armed himself and rode against the giant who, seeing him coming, met him, taking him in his right arm and lifting him easily onto the neck of his horse. As he was being carried toward the city, Roland seized him by the chin and turned his head around so forcefully that they both fell to the ground. They quickly jumped up and mounted their horses; Roland rode towards him, his sword drawn, intending to kill him. He missed him, but struck the horse so hard that he cut him in half with a single blow. Fernaguz was very unhappy that his horse had been killed and he himself was on foot in the middle of the field. He began to threaten Roland, and came towards him with his sword drawn; Roland saw him coming, stepped forward and struck him in the right arm; the giant was unharmed, but he made his sword fly into the field, and the angry giant came towards him, his fist clenched, to strike him. He missed Roland, but struck the horse on the forehead, knocking him dead. Thus they fought on foot, without swords, until the ninth hour, with their fists, and with stones that were in the field. At about the hour of vespers, Fernaguz asked Roland for a truce until the next day. They agreed to meet the next day in the field for a battle without horses and without lances. Then they separated, Roland returning to the army, and the giant to the city.

The next day, early morning, they returned to the field, as they had previously decided, but Fernaguz carried his sword, and Roland carried a long, thick, knotted club, with which he fought against him all day, but he was unable to wound him, because he was too well protected. In the field there were many large, round stones, with which Roland struck him several times, but was unable to harm or wound him. They fought until noon, when the giant became tired and very sleepy. He asked for a truce from Roland until he had slept, and Roland willingly granted it. Fernaguz fell asleep, for he was worn out, and Roland, who was young, strong, and agile, put a stone under his head, that he might sleep more easily, for neither Roland nor any of the others dared to do any harm for the duration of the truce, since there was a common agreement between Christians and Saracens to do no harm to the other during a truce, and anyone who broke the agreement before the first challenge was issued would be immediately killed.

When Fernaguz had slept enough, he woke up and sat upright. Roland sat down next to him and asked him how he had become so strong and powerful that he did not fear the blow of a lance, or cudgel, or sword. "There is no way that I can be harmed, except through my navel." He spoke in Spanish, which Roland understood well enough. Then the giant began to look at him, and he marveled at Roland's abilities, and at how he had been able to last against himself. Then he asked him his name. "My name is Roland," he said. "And from what lineage do you descend, who have fought and struggled so well against me?" Roland said: "I am of French lineage."


Then Fernaguz what law the French obeyed, and Roland replied to him: "We are Christian by the grace of Our Lord, and we keep the commandments of Jesus Christ, and we fight for the faith as well as we can."

When the pagan heard the name Jesus Christ, he said: "Who is this Christ in whom you believe?" And Roland replied: "He is the son of God the father, who willed his birth through the Virgin, suffered death on the cross for our sins, was buried in the tomb, and on the third day rose from the tomb and returned to the skies at the right hand of the Father, where he reigns and will reign forever." Then Fernaguz said to him: "We believe that the Creator of the sky and of the earth is our God, but he has no son or father, and, even as he was engendered by no one, so he will never engender anyone, so that he seems to be one single God and not three."

"You tell the truth," said Roland, "when you say that he is one single God, but you are in error when you say that he is not triune, for whoever believes in the Father believes in the Son and the Holy Spirit and one single God who dwells in these three persons."

Fernaguz replied: If you say that the Father may be God, that the Son may be God, and that the Holy Spirit may be God, then there are three Gods and not one."

"Not so," said Roland, "but I preach one triune God, for he is both one and three. All three persons together are everlasting and the same; what the Father is, the Son and the Holy Spirit are. In these persons property, united in essence, in majesty equally adored (?) The angels in heaven adore one triune God. Abraham saw three and adored one."

"Explain to me," said the giant, "how three things can be one."

"I shall show you," said Roland, "by using certain created things as examples. There are three things in the harp: the bow, the strings, and the hands, and it is only one harp. Just so there are three things in God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and he is only one God. And even as you see three things in an almond -- the bark, the shell, and the nut -- and it is a single almond. In the same way there are three persons in God, and he is one God. In the sun there are three things -- whiteness, brilliance, and heat -- and it is all the same thing. In the wheel of a cart there is the center, the spokes, and the rim, and yet it is a single wheel. In you yourself there are three things, the body, the limbs, and the soul, and you are one single man. The same is the case with God, who contains unity and trinity."

"Now I understand," Fernaguz said, "how God is three and one, but I don't understand how he engendered the Son, as you say."

"Do you believe," said Roland, "that God made Adam the first man?" "I believe it," said the giant.

"Even as," said Roland, "Adam, who had no father, fathered a son, so God the father, who had no father, engendered the Son of himself, as he wished, before the beginning of time, in a way that no one would be able to tell or think."

The giant said: "I like what you have said, but I don't see how he who was God was made a man."

Roland said: "He who created the sky and the earth and all things out of nothing, enabled his son to take on humanity in the Virgin without the seed of men, by the power of his Holy Spirit."

"I am surprised at this," said Fernaguz, "and I would like to try to understand how he was born of the Virgin without human seed, as you say."

"I shall show it to you," said Roland. "God, who made Adam without human seed, wanted his Son born of the Virgin, without the seed of another man; for even as he was born of the Father without a mother, so was he born physically of a mother, without a human father. Such a birth befits God."

"It surprises me very much," said the giant, "that the Virgin had a child without the aid of a man."

"I shall show it to you," said Roland, "for he who saw to it that worms could be engendered in peas and beans and that vultures and serpents, and many fish could reproduce without the seed of a male, he also causes virginity to engender God and man without corrupting itself and without the seed of a man. He who made the first man without the seed of another, as I have explained, easily could cause his Son to be made a human man in the body of the Virgin, and to be born as a man, although she remained untouched ay any human being.

"It may very well be," said Fernaguz, "that he was born of the Virgin, as you say. But if he is the Son of God, he cannot die on the cross, as you claim. He may be born, as you say, but if he is the Son of God, he cannot die, for God does not die."

"Your are right," said Roland, "that he can be born of the Virgin and that he can be born as a man; and if he was born as a man, then he can die as a man, for everything that is born dies. But because he was born both God and man, and became, in the body of the Virgin what he had not been before, without losing what he had been before, he died on the cross in accordance with his humanity, and lives forever, by virtue of his divinity, by which power he returned to life. Since he was both God and man, he died on the cross like a man, and rose from the tomb, like God. Whoever, then believes in his nativity, must believe in his passion and his resurrection."

"Why," Fernaguz said, "must one believe in his resurrection?"

"Because," said Roland, "he was born, he died, he rose on the third day, by virtue of his divinity, as I have told you."

When the giant understood these words, he was very much amazed, and he said to Roland: "Roland! Roland! Why do you tell me these insane things? A dead man cannot come back to life." And Roland replied: "Fernaguz, I tell you that not only the Son of God rose, but that all men born from the beginning of the world until the end will be resurrected on the day of judgement, before the throne of the majesty of Jesus Christ, and each will receive his just deserts, whatever they be, good or bad, for the God who makes the little tree grow tall, and who makes the grain of wheat that has rotted in the earth grow and bear fruit, will bring back to life all the dead on the last day, each in his own flesh, and in his own spirit. For an example of this, you may look at the lion. If the lion revives his cubs on the third day, with his breath, why is it surprising that that God, the all-powerful father, revives his Son on the third day, by his divine power? This should seem no new wonder to you. If Elijah and Elisha, his prophets, resurrected the death, then God the Father may even more easily resurrect his Son. His son, who resurrected several dead men before his passion, cannot be held by death, for death flees before him, and, at his voice and at his command the dead rise up, in great crowds."

"Then," said the giant, "I see clearly what you are saying, but how did he mount to the skies? This I cannot see, as you have described it."

Roland said: "He who easily came down from heaven, as easily may mount up. He who brought himself back from death by this same power will easily cross over into heaven, and this you may easily see by many examples. The wheel of a mill descends from above as well as ascends from below. A bird that flies in the air descends and ascends as it wishes. You yourself, if you come down from a mountain, may climb back up. The sun rose yesterday in the East, and went down in the West; it rose today in the same place, and will again go down today in the West. Therefore, The Son of God will return to the place from which he descended, by his own power."

"I shall fight you," said the giant; "if what you say is true, may I be vanquished, and if its is false, you will be mated, and the vanquished and his people will always be blamed, while the victor and his people receive praise and glory."

"Agreed," said Roland.

Then they got up and fought again; Roland attacked the giant first, striking at him with his sword [the reverse in the Latin: Et illico Rotholandus paganum aggreditur. Tunc Ferracutus eiecit ictum spata sua super Rotholandum], but he was too agile and quick, and he jumped to his left and took the blow on his cudgel. The giant's blow was very powerful, and cut the cudgel in half. Then Fernaguz leaped forward and seized Roland with his fists, bent him to the ground, and easily pinned him. When Roland saw that there was no way at all for him to escape, he piously began to call upon the Son of the Virgin for help, and he helped his champion leap up and pin the giant beneath him. Roland caught his sword and pressed it into the navel of the giant, who began to shout in a loud voice, calling upon his god: "Mahomet! Mahomet! Help me my god, I'm dying." Roland then left the field, and went back, hale and hearty, to the army of Christians.

Now the Saracens come down from the castle, out of the city, and carried their lord in their arms toward the fortress. The Christians spurred on their horses, and mingled with the Saracens who were carrying Fernaguz, entering the fortified castle above the city by force. The giant and the Saracens were killed, the castle and the city taken, and the prisoners freed by the power of Our Lord. .sk


A short time after these events, Charlemagne was told that in the city of Cordova, waiting to fight him, were the emir of that city and Hebram, the king of Seville; they had escaped from the battle of Pamplona, where Agolant was killed. Saracens from seven cities had come to their aid: from Jativa, Denia, Ubeda, Abla, Baeza, Seville, and Granada.

Charlemagne, when he heard this news, prepared his army to ride against them in battle. As he approached the city of Cordova, the two kings, fully armed, came forth from the city, their ranks drawn up, and rode towards the Christians about three miles from the city. They numbered about 10,000, and we had about 6000. Charlemagne then divided his army into three divisions/ The first was of the finest fighters, the second of foot soldiers and the third of knights. The Saracens also divided their people up in this way.

At the point that our first contingent was about to join battle with the first contingent of the Saracens, a great crowd of their foot-soldiers placed themselves in front of the horses of our fighters; each one had on his head a black, horned mask, black and frightening, on his head, that made him look like a devil. In his hands, each held two drums that he clashed together, making a terrible noise, so loud and frightening that the horses of our soldiers were very frightened, and fled madly to the rear, in spite of the efforts of their riders. Following the first division, the other two fled, and the horses ran like arrows that have just been launched. The Saracens were overjoyed at what they saw. Step by step, our Christians made their way to a mountain two miles from the city, where they regrouped, and made themselves into a wall.

Having restored ordered, they awaited the Saracens' attack. However, the Saracens retreated when they saw the Christians lined up and regrouped, and the Christians pitched their tents and remained there until the morning. At break of day they arose, and Charlemagne consulted with his people about what they should do. Then the announcement was made throughout the army that everyone should cover his horse's head with cloth or sheets. so that they might not see the masks, and to stop up their ears, so that they could not hear the shouts of the Saracens, or the sounds of their drums. Oh! what a clever stratagem they found to use against the malice of the Saracens. When they had done this, the horses, no longer weakened by fear, went forward bravely, because they saw and heard nothing. Then the Christians began to fight bravely, and fought vigorously until noon. They killed many, but were unable to win a complete victory, because their enemies remained united in a single group. In their midst they had a wagon, pulled by eight bulls, and above them a banner [in Smyser's text,the banner is red], about which they rallied. However, as soon as Charlemagne saw it, he struck out into the crowd of Saracens, protected and surrounded by the power of Our Lord. Then he began to kill and to destroy to his left and to his right, until he came to the standard which was on the wagon. As soon as he cut the pole which held the banner, the Saracens were defeated, and began to flee in all directions. The Christians, with a hue and cry, attacked the Saracens and killed 8000 of them. The king of Seville was killed, and the emir of Cordova escaped, fleeing to the city, together with 2000 Saracens. The next day they gave it up to Charlemagne, agreeing to accept baptism, in exchange for receiving the city in fief from him; they also agreed to obey all of his commands in the future.

When these things were done, Charlemagne departed, giving the lands and countries to those of his knights and people who wanted to remain. To the Bretons he gave the land of Navarre and of the Basques; to the French he gave the land of Castille; to the Apulians the land of Nadre and of Saragossa; to the Tyois and to the Germans, the land of Landaluf, which is on the sea; the land of Portugal to the Danes and Flemish; the French did not want to inhabit the land of Galicia because it seemed to them too harsh. From this time forth, no man, from the greatest to the lowliest, neither king nor prince, in all the land of Spain, dared fight or dispute with Charlemagne.


When Charlemagne had conquered Spain, and there was no one who would dare resist him, he left the leading princes of his army in the land, and went to Galicia to visit and honor the body of saint James. He bolstered the faith of the good Christians whom he found in that country, and he killed or exiled to France those who, because forced to, or out of disloyalty, had abandoned Christianity and turned to the law of Mahomet, and would not leave it. He established bishops and ministers of holy Church in the cities.

In the city of Compestella, where the body of saint James lies, he called a council of bishops and a meeting of barons. There, in honor of saint James, he established the rule that all the archbishops, bishops, kings and princes of Spain and of Galicia, at that time and in the future, would obey the archbishop of Compostella. He established no bishop in the town of Hurye (Iria), because he did not consider it a city, but it was his desire and command that it be subject to the see od Compostella. And I, Turpin, archbishop of Rheims, who was present at this council of sixty [in the Latin, nine bishops] bishops, dedicated the church and the altar of saint James, at the request of Charlemagne, on the calends of June. Charlemagne assigned all of Spain and Galicia to the authority of this church, and endowed it by commanding the head of each household to give it four deniers every year of legal rent to be quit of all obligations. Then, at this same council, he established this church as the apostolic see, because the body of saint James lies there; he also established that all councils of the prelates of Spain and Galicia would be held there, all offices and croziers would be granted there, and all bishops consecrated there, and the kings of Spain and Galicia would be annointed and consecrated by the hand of the archbishop of the see, in honor of God and of saint James the apostle. And if the faith was weakened in other cities, and controversy grew over certain questions, these problems would be healed and resolved by the archbishop and council of this place. And it is certainly right that the faith be healed and and resolved in this honorable church. For even as Ephesus was the see of the apostle in the East because of saint John, the brother of saint James, even so the church of Compestella should be the Western see, where the faith may be healed and problems resolved. These are the two sees that the mother of the two sons of Zebediah asked of Our Lord, that one might be seated at the right hand and the other at the left hand of his reign.

In all the world there are only three sees and three principal churches, which are especially honored above all others: Rome, Compestella, and Ephesus. This is understandable, since Our lord established saint Peter, saint James and saint John as leaders, and honored them above all others, revealing to them his secrets, as the Gospels make clear. Therefore he wished to see to it that their sees be honored above all others, and it is correct that they be called the principal sees; for even as these three apostles have more grace and dignity than the others, so should the places where they preached the faith and where their bodies lie have more grace and dignity. The church of Rome is first, for saint Peter the prince of the apostles, dedicated it by his preaching, and consecrated it by the blood of his passion. The second is that of Compostella, for saint James, who, after saint Peter, had the most grace and dignity, first consecrated it with his blood and his preaching. The third must be that of Ephesus, in which saint John the evangelist wrote that excellent text: In principio erat verbum, and the Apocalypse, in which he discloses heavenly secrets to us; he had the privilege of love above all others. These three churches must have honor and dignity, so that their judgements, whether divine or human, may not be decided in the other churches throughout the world, but they must be discussed and defined in these three churches.

In the manner related above by the history, Spain and Galicia were delivered from the hands of the Saracens by the power of Our Lord and saint James, and with the help of Charlemagne.

At this point [from here to "dark complexion" is Primat's addition] the history mentions the behavior and stature of Charlemagne, and the way he led his life. It is true that the history spoke of this previously. and one might ask why it speaks of this in two places. One might reply that two different authors are involved; Einhard, who was his chaplain, and was brought up in his palace, and was always present at all of Charlemagne's deeds, did the first description, writing about all of his battles and deeds until the events in Spain.

From that point, archbishop Turpin takes it up, and continues the description until the end of his life, sure of everything that happened after, because he was always with him. He says that Charlemagne had dark hair and a sanguine complexion, a noble and graceful body, and a proud look about him. He was eight feet tall, measuring by his own foot, which was very large. His chest and shoulders were broad, his stomach and loins in proportion to his body, with heavy arms and thighs. He was strong in all of his limbs; in battle he was a fierce and sagacious knight. His face was a palm and a half long, his beard a palm, his nose a half palm, his forehead a foot long. His eyes were like the eyes of a lion, and they shone like carbuncles. His eyebrows were half a palm long. He frightened anyone at whom he looked angrily; no one at whom he looked with anger in his eyes could stand before him very long. His leather belt was eight palms long, not including what hung beyond the buckle. He ate little bread, little wine, and he drank moderately. He enjoyed eating a quarter of mutton, or two chickens. or a goose, or a rabbit. His strength was so great that he could cut an armed knight; that is, with a single blow he could cut one of his enemies, sitting on his horse, from the head to the thighs, including the horse, with his sword Joieuse. His arms and his fists were so strong that he could easily stretch four metal buckles of horses altogether. He could lift up an armed knight to the height of his head, with one arm. He was eloquent in argument, just in his judgements, and very generous.

While he was in Spain, he celebrated annual holidays ceremoniously, wearing the sceptre and crown on four solemn holidays -- Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and saint James' day, and he had his bare sword held before his throne, in the manner of the ancient emperors. As his bodyguard, 120 fine and faithful men watched over him every night; 40 took the first watch, ten at his head, ten at his feet, ten to the right of him, and ten to the left. Each carried a naked sword in his right hand, and a burning candle in his left. Another 40 performed the second watch in this manner, and another 40 the third, until daybreak.

Anyone who wanted to tell all the marvelous things he did would not have enough strength and parchment to tell the story. But finally, we must relate how he returned to France, and what great misfortune happened to his barons at Roncevaux, betrayed by the traitor Ganelon.


After Charlemagne, the very powerful and very famous emperor, had conquered all of Galicia and all of Spain, compelling the people to submit to Christianity, and to honor God and saint James, he returned to France, pitching camp near the city of Pampelona. At that time, two Saracen kings were staying in the city of Saragossa: Marsilius, and his brother Baligant [in the Song of Roland, 2614 ff., Baligant is the emir of Babylon, supreme head of Islam, and Marsilius his vassal.] The sultan of Babylon had sent them from Syria, together with a large army, to defend Spain against Charlemagne. They pretended to be the emperor's willing and obedient subjects, but this was a sham, for they were afraid to resist him.

Charlemagne, who did not want them to remain in the land after he left, unless they became Christians and his tributaries, sent Ganelon to them to ask if they would accept baptism, and send him tribute. In response, to deceive him, they sent thirty horses laden with gold and silver and other riches, and another 40 laden with very pure, sweet (not necessarily in terms of modern categories) wine, as presents for the princes and soldiers of the army, together with 1000 beautiful Saracens, to serve them in the sin of fornication. To Ganelon, the traitor, who delivered the message, they gave 20 horses laden with gold, silver, and silk, in return for his turning over to them, to be killed, Roland and Oliver and the other leading members of the army; he agreed, and took the riches.

When they had discussed and agreed upon the treachery, Ganelon returned to Charlemagne, presenting the riches that the two kings had sent to him, and telling him that Marsilion wanted very much to become a Christian, and was ready to follow him to France to receive baptism, and to do homage to him for all of Spain. Charlemagne believed the traitor, with painful results, and he made plans to travel through the gates of Cisaire (Cize) to return to France. On Ganelon's advice, he ordered his nephew Roland, duke of Man and count of Blaive, and his companion Oliver, count of Genes, and other leaders of the army to remain in Ronceveaux, together with 20,000 French, to form the rear-guard, until the army had passed through the gates of Cize. His plans were carried out. The most important barons of his army, who made up the rear-guard, took only the wine that the Saracens had sent, and the lesser people took the women. Because some of the Christians were drunk on Saracen wine the night before, and some had sinned with Saracen and even with Christian women whom they were bring back to France, Our Lord willed that they be killed. Certainly the malicious intentions of the Saracens who had sent them the gifts were to provoke them to sin in drunkeness and fornication, so that their God would become angry with them, and would let them be killed (this last sentence an addition by Primat).

What more should one say? In the morning, Charlemagne and his armywent through the gates, together with Ganelon and archbishop Turpin, while Roland, Oliver, and the other noble warriors remained in Ronceval as the rear-guard. Marsilion and Baligant came out of the woods with 50,000 armed Saracens, who came in hords out of the mountains and valleys where, as Ganelon had advised, they had been waiting for two days and two nights. They formed only two divisions out of all their people; the first was composed of 20,000 men, and the second of 30,000. The 20,000 of the first division came on quickly, and began to attack us from the rear, and our men turned towards them. From early morning until the third hour they fought and killed them all, so that, of the 20,000, not one remained alive. The other division of Saracens, 30,000 of them, quickly attacked, finding our Christians tired and worn out from having killed the others in a strongly contested battle. They killed them all, by the will of God, except for Thierry and Baudoin, of whom you will hear more later. Some were pierced by lances, others decapitated with swords, others cut down by hatchets and axes, others killed by arrows and darts, others by clubs, others skinned alive, some burned, some hanged from trees. All were killed, except Roland, Baudoin, and Thierry. Baudoin and Thierry hid in the woods, and then escaped.

At this point, one might ask why Our Lord permitted those who had not committed the sin of drunkeness or fornication to be killed, since some of them had not sinned at all. The answer may be that he did not want them to return to their own country, where they might have fallen into sin, but he preferred to give themat that moment, the crown of the glory of their passion.

He wanted those who sinned in adultery and in drunkeness to suffer death, for he wanted them to purge their sins by martyrdom. Therefore one should not believe that kind God did not reward those who had gone through so many labors and difficulties for him, and who had finally called out his name and confessed their sins. Even though they had sinned, they were killed for him.

Those who take their women with them into battle should take warning from this; Darius, the king of the Persians, and Anthony, and other earthly princes, took their wives along with them when they went to war, and they were defeated and killed, Darius by the great Alexander, and Anthony by the emperor Octavian. Especially for this reason princes should not bring their wives in such circumstances, for they will only get in the way.

Those who sinned in drunkeness and in fornication signify the priests and men of religion who fight against the vices, who should never get drunk or lie with women; if they behave like other men, they will be destroyed by their enemies, that is, the devils, and they will perhaps fall into other vices, by means of which they will die and come to a miserable end.


When the battle was over and the Saracens had retreated about two miles, Roland went alone into the field to determine in which direction they had gone. When he was still far from them, he came upon a Saracen as black as ink, who was worn out from fighting, and was resting in the woods. He quickly took him and tied him to a tree, with four strong twisted branches, then left him there, and climbed a high mountain to find out in which direction the Saracens had gone. He saw that they were a long way off, and that they were a great multitude. He came down from the mountain and went after them, through the valley of Roncevaux, along the same road that had been used by Charlemagne and his army when they went through the pass. He blew the ivory horn that he customarily wore in battle, to call to any Christians who might still be there. At the sound of his horn, about 100 Christians, who had been resting in the woods, came up to him. He took them with him and returned to the Saracen whom he had tied to the tree. Untying him, he lifted his naked sword Durendal above his head and threatened to decapitate him if he did not go with him and show him who king Marsilion was, since Roland did not yet know what he looked like; if he were willing to do this, Roland would let him go alive. The Saracen went with him, and pointed out king Marsilion from afar, among the Saracens, on a red horse, with a round shield.

Roland let him go, as he had promised, and then he and those with him, brave and eager for battle, secure in the power of Our Lord, attacked the Saracens. He attacked a Saracen much taller than all the others, and struck him with his sword Durendal, cutting him through his head down to the saddle with one blow cutting the man and his horse, so that one half of the Saracen and his horse fell to the right, and the other half to the left. When the Saracens saw such a violent, miraculous blow, they began to flee in all directions, leaving Marsilion in the field, accompanied by a few men. Roland and his men, aided by the power of Our Lord, fell upon the Saracens more fiercely than a lion (in the singular, despite the compound subject, frequently the case; implications are not merely grammatical and syntactical), cutting and destroying to the right and to the left, getting closer to Marsilion. When Marsilion saw him coming, he fled, but Roland, who was very close to him now, pursued him and killed him, in the midst of the other Saracens, with the aid of Our Lord.

In this last battle all of his 100 companions were killed, and Roland himself was wounded by four lances and badly battered by clubs and stones. However, he escaped from this fight by the aid of Our Lord.

As soon as Baligant heard of the death of his brother Marsilion, he and his Saracens fled from the country. At this point Baudoin and Thierry were in the woods, hiding with some other Christians out of fear of the Saracens; Charlemagne and his army, unaware of the killing that had taken place at Roncevaux, had passed through the gates.

Then Roland began to prepare, all alone on the field of battle, tired and worn out by the great blows he had given and received, in grief and anguish for the deaths of the many noble men whom he saw lying before him dead and battered. In his great sorrow he moved through the woods to the foot of the mountain of Cisare, and got down from his horse, under a tree, near a large marble stone which had been raised there, in a lovely field above the valley of Roncevaux. In his hand he held his sword, Durendal, whose name means "to strike a hard blow at a Saracen." It was a sword whose worth surpassed all others, bright and shiny, sharp, and forged so powerfully that it could not break or shatter. It was so fine that his arm would fail before his sword would. He drew it out and looked at it a long time, and began regretfully to weep, and he said:

"Oh lovely, bright, resplendent sword, non-pareil, wonderfully broad and powerful, without any signs of damage, white as ivory, pointed with the sign of the cross, shining with gold, adorned with a crystal pommel, made holy and blessed with the letters of the holy name of Our Lord, alpha and omega, wrapped in the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ! Who will use your goodness any longer? Who will own you? Who will hold you! He who will carry you will never be defeated or troubled, nor fear his enemies, nor be surprised and deceived by illusions, but he will always have divine power assisting him. Through you the Saracens were destroyed and the unbelieving people killed, Christian faith exalted, and the praise of God increased and affirmed. Oh, how many times has the blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ been avenged through you! How many thousands of enemies of the cross, both Saracens and Jews, have been killed by you! God's justice has been upheld and fulfilled through you; through your secret power their thieving feet and hands have been torn from their bodies. Each time I have killed a Saracen or a Jew with you, I have imagined myself avenging the blood of Jesus Christ. Oh blessed sword, quick and sharp in cutting, which has never had, nor will ever have, an equal. He who forged you never, before or after, made your equal. Anyone wounded by you can never recover. It would give me too great unhappinesss if any wretched or lazy knight owned you after I died. I would be too painful for me if any Saracen or any other unbeliever held and wielded you."

When he had finished lamenting his sword, he lifted it up and struck the marble stone in front of him with three miraculous blows, intending to break it, for he was afraid that it would fall into the hands of Saracens.

What more can should one tell you? The stone was cut through to the ground, and the sword remained whole and entirely undamaged. When he saw that he could in no way destroy it, he became very unhappy.

He put his ivory horn to his mouth, and began to blow with great strength, as hard as he could, to find out whether any Christians, hiding in the woods out of fear of the Saracens, might rally around him, or whether those who had already gone through the passes might return to be present at his death, and take his sword and his horse, and pursue the fleeing Saracens. Then he blew the horn with remarkable power, so that the breath from his mouth broke it in half, and sinews and blood vessels in his neck broke.

The sound of the horn, with the help of an angel, reached the ears of Charlemagne, who was in a valley which has ever since been called the valley of Charlemagne (Val-Carlos). He was about eight miles from Roland, in the direction of Gascony. As soon as Charlemagne heard the sound of Roland's horn, he wanted to return, understanding from the sound of the horn that Roland needed help. But the treacherous Ganelon, who had arranged the betrayal, and understood that Roland was dying, said to him: "Sir, do not return because you fear that Roland needs help, since he customarily blows the horn for very little reason. Be assured that he has no need of your help, but he is huntingd, chasing some wild beast in the woods." Oh disloyal treachery! Oh the advice of Ganelon, which may well be compared to the betrayal by Judas!

After Roland had sounded the horn, and the sinews and veins in his neck had burst, he lay down on the grass, and had a greater thirst than anyone could imagine. He made a sign to his brother Baudoin, who arrived at this point, to bring him something to drink. With great difficulty, he set out to look for some, but could not find any. He returned quickly, and when he saw Roland struggling and close to death, he blessed his soul. He took his sword, mounted his horse, and fled to Charlemagne's army, fearing that he would be killed by the Saracens. As soon as he left, Thierry reached the spot where Roland was dying; he began to lament and complain greatly, and he told him to prepare his soul with faith and with confession. That very day Roland had confessed to a priest, and had received his Savior (i.e., the Eucharist) before going into battle, for it was customary for warriors to confess and receive their Creator from the hands of priests and religious men who were with the army, before going into battle. It was a fine and lovely custom.


Roland, the blessed martyr, lifted his eyes and hands to heaven, made his confession with a good heart, and prayed to Our Lord like this: "Sir Jesus Christ, to exalt whose faith I have abandoned my native land, and have come to these foreign countries to defeat the Saracen people, for whom I have defeated unbelievers in so many battles, by means of your divine power, and for whom I have endured so many blows and wounds, so many reproaches and insults, such heat and such cold, so much trouble and toil, I commend my soul to you in this final hour. In addition, Sir, since you deigned to be born of the Virgin for my sake, to endure the gallows and the cross and death, to be buried in the tomb and, on the third day, brought back to life, and, on the holy day of the Ascension, to mount to heaven, at the right hand of the Father, from which your deity had never departed, then deliver my soul from everlasting death. My guilt and my sins are greater than I could say. But you, Sir, who are kind, pardoner of all sins, who have mercy on all sinners, and hate nothing that you have created, who forget the sins of those who turn to you with repentance in their hearts for their misdeeds, no matter how late the hour, who spared the people of Ninevah and delivered the woman taken in adultery, and pardoned Mary Magdalene her sins, and pardoned saint Peter his misdeed, when he wept bitterly, you who opened the gate of Paradise to the thief when he cried out on the cross, won't you grant me a pardon for my sins? Release me from all the vices within me, and let my soul feed and satiate itself upon eternal rest, for you are the one in whom our hearts do not perish when they die, but are changed into something better, you are the one who customarily frees the soul from the body, and places it in a better life, who says that you love the life of the sinner more than death; I believe in my heart and affirm with my mouth that you wish to remove my soul from this transitory life, that you will make it live with incomparably more happiness after death. it will have a superior understanding and direction; as great a difference as there is between a man and his shadow, by so much more will its life in the celestial region differ from its life here."

Then Roland took the skin and the flesh between his breasts in his own hands, as Thierry, who was present, later told it, and he began, with great tears and sighs, to speak:

"God, Jesus Christ, son of the living God and of the blessed Virgin Mary, I affirm with all my mind and with all my body and believe that you, who are my redeemer, reign and live without end, and that you will resurrect me from the earth at the last day, and that I shall see God and my savior in this, my own flesh."

While he spoke these words, he took his skin and flesh in his hands three times, and said these same words three times. Then he put his hands over his eyes and also said three times: "And these, my eyes, will look upon you." After these words, he opened his eyes and began to look at the sky, and he made the sign of the cross over his breast and all of his limbs, and he said: "All earthly things are vile to me, for I now see, by the gift of God, what no eye has ever seen, what no ear has ever heard, and what the heart of man cannot imagine: what Our Lord has prepared for those who love him."


Finally, he raised his hands to the sky, and prayed for the souls of his companions who had been killed in the battle, and he said: "Noble God Jesus Christ, may your mercy and pity be granted to your faithful men who have been killed for you in this battle, who have come from distant lands into foreign countries to fight against unbelievers, to exalt your holy name, to declare your faith, and to avenge your precious blood. Now they lie dead, at the hands of the Saracens, but you, dear Sir, pardon their sins, and deliver their souls from the pains of hell. Sir, send your angels and archangels to protect their souls from the regions of shades, and to lead them to celestial kingdoms, that they may reign with you, who live and reign forever, in the company of the glorious martyrs, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and forever, Amen."

At the end of this glorious confession, Thierry parted from Roland, and the blessed soul left the body after this prayer, carried away by angels to everlasting rest, where it is in endless joy, meritoriously earned, in the company of the glorious martyrs.

(Turp HKM xxiv, in Latin verse) He was so wise in all things, and especially in the doctrine of the faith, that his heart was like a case full of books; everyone who came to him for advice could drink from him as though from a fountain. He was sagacious, kind-hearted, soft-spoken. He had within him so much good that every kind of honor labors in his praise.


(ThKm xxv) What more should one tell? At the moment that the holy soul of the glorious martyr Roland left his body, I, Turpin, was with the emperor, in a place called Charlemagne's Valley, on the second calends of June (16th calends of July in the Latin), where I had celebrated the sacrifice at the altar. I was suddenly carried away in spirit, and was neither awake nor asleep. I heard many voices singing as they ascended to the sky; I wondered what this might be. As they climbed and sang, I turned to look behind me, and I saw a crowd of knights, all black, looking as though they had come to ravage and carry off prey. They passed in front of me with all their prey, and I asked them what they were carrying." They said: "we are carrying Marsilion and his men to hell, and Michael is carrying your trumpeteer and many others up into heaven." They called Roland the trumpeteer, because he always carried his ivory horn into battle [a sentence added by Primat].

When I had sung mass, I said to the king: "King, you may be certain that Roland is dead, and that saint Michael is carrying his soul, and the souls of many other Christians, to the joy of Paradise. But I don't know where he died, and the devils are carrying off the spirit of king Marsilion, and of many other wretches, to hell."

While I was speaking these words, Baudoin came up, on Roland's horse, and he told how things had gone, and how he had left Roland on the mountain near the stone, about to die, and he described his confession. Then they all began to shout to the army, and to return to the valley of Roncevaux.

Charlemagne was the first to find Roland dead, lying on his back, his hands crossed on his chest. The king fell upon his body and began to weep, to groan, and to sigh, and to grieve terribly. His heart was so troubled that he could not speak a word. He beat his fists together, tore his face with his nails, tore his beard and his hair, and when he was able to speak, he shouted in a loud voice:

"Oh Roland, dear sweet nephew, right arm of my body, honor of France, sword of justice, straight, unbending spear, strong and whole hauberc, helmet of safety, comparable in prowess to Judas Macabee, like Samson in strength, comparable to Saul and to Jonathan in an unfortunate death, in battle a wise and tenacious knight, the strongest of the strong, of royal ancestry, destroyer of Saracens, defender of Christians, wall of the clergy, protective rod for orphans and widows, meat and sustenance of the poor, reliever of churches, honest in speech, wise in all judgements, duke and leader of armies. Why did I bring you into this land. and to these foreign parts? Why do I see you dead? Why don't I die with you? Why have you left me, sad and weak, in this mortal life? Alas, what shall I do? Dear sweet nephew, may your soul be with the angels, enjoying the company of the martyrs forever. All my life I must weep for you, as David once did for Absalon, and Jonathan for Saul." With words like these Charlemagne complained, lamenting Roland's death as long as he lived.


After he had mourned Roland, Charlemagne ordered that the tents be pitched in the spot where Roland lay dead, and the army rested there that night. Charlemagne had Roland's body opened and embalmed with balsam, myrrh and aloe, and he had obsequies and the service of the dead sung by the ministers of holy church, with great lights. All that night the king and his army grieved and wept, while great lights and fires burned in the woods until the break of day.

In the morning, they all armed themselves and went into the valley of Roncevaux, to the place of battle, where the barons and other knights lay dead, for the battle had not taken place where they found Roland. There each man found his friend, many of whom had died; those who were not dead were mortally wounded. They found the valiant Oliver dead, stretched out as though on a cross, tied to the ground by four stakes, and flayed with sharp knives, from his neck to the nails of his feet and hands. In several places he was pierced with arrows, javelots, and swords, and beaten with sticks.

Then tears and terrible cries filled the entire valley, so that the mountains resounded with the noise. Men grieved for their sons, brothers, cousins, or friends. The king then swore, by the all-powerful King, that he would not cease pursuing his enemies until he had found them. He took his men, and set out in pursuit. Our Lord then performed a miracle for him; the sun stood still for three days. They pursued the Saracens until they found them near the city of Saragossa, where some were lying down and others eating on the banks of the Ebre river. The killed 4000 of them, and some drowned in the river, as some books say at this point. Then they returned to Roncevaux, carrying the dead and wounded to the place where the body of Roland lay.

Then the emperor went about finding out whether it was true that Ganelon had betrayed Roland and the other barons, which was the rumor among his men. Ganelon was taken and held, under suspicion of high treason. His relative, Pinabel of Sorrence, came forward to defend him; Thierry of Ardennes, who had been Roland's squire, and knew of the conspiracy, since he had been present at the battle and present at the death of Roland, took up the challenge against him. They came together quickly, in front of the whole army, and Thierry killed him immediately. Ganelon's foul treason was then exposed openly, and the emperor sent for four of the strongest horses in the army and had him tied firmly by his hands and feet, drawn back and forth, until his limbs had been torn out. This was the end of the traitor, who was responsible for the death of many fine men, for whom France and Charlemagne grieved all the days of his life.

Then the French took the bodies of their friends, and set about preparing to carry them as best as they could. He had a heart heart who did not weep when he saw how they got them ready. They cut open their stomachs and eviscerated them. Some they embalmed with balsam, myrrh and aloes, if they could; otherwise they used salt. Some they tied on their shoulders, others they carried in their arms, or on mules and horses. Some made wooden coffins, others carried the wounded who had not yet died on litters on their shoulders, others they buried right there, others they carried until they began to stink, and then they buried them. Others carried their friends back to France, or to wherever they came from.

At that time there were two great cemeteries in the country; one was at Arles, in a place called Aliscamps, and another at Bordeaux. Seven bishops, holy men, had consecrated these two cemeteries: saint Maximus of Aix; saint Trophime, bishop of Arles; saint Paul, archbishop of Narbonne; saint Saturninus, bishop of Toulouse; saint Frontinus, bishop of Perigueux; saint Martial, bishop of Limoges; and saint Eutropus, archbishop of Saintes. In these two cemeteries were buried the majority of those who had been killed at Ronceval, together with those who had not died in battle on the mountain of Gargan (the hill of Monjardin, mentioned on p.239), of which the history spoke earlier.


Charlemagne had the body of Roland carried back to the city of Blaye, on two mules, on a golden bier, covered with rich silks, to a church which he had founded, and in which he had installed canons regular. He had him buried with great honor, with his sword Durendal hanging at his head, and his horn at his feet, in honor of Our Lord, and as a sign of his great prowess. But the horn was carried to Bordeaux, to the church of Saint Severin. The city of Blaye was happy to be adorned with such a great patron, by whose aid it was protected, and in whose presence it rejoiced. The noble count Oliver was buried at Belin; his prowess was like that of Roland, whose sworn companion in arms he was. Also buried at Belin were: Ogier the king of Denmark; Gandeboldus, king of Frisia; Arastagnus, king of Britanny; Garinus, duke of Lorraine; and many other noble barons. Blessed was the castle of Belin, which was honored by so many noble princes.

At Bordeaux, in the cemetery of Saint Severin, these noble barons were buried: Gaifer, duke of Bourges and of Aquitaine; Gelin, Gelier, Renaud d'Aube Espine, Walter of Termes, Givelin and Begue, and 5000 others. Hoiaus, the count of Nantes, was brought for burial to Nantes, his own city, together with many other Bretons.

After all these noble barons had been buried in various places, Charlemagne had clothing and food given to the poor, distributing, for the love of Our Lord, 12,000 ounces of silver and an equal amount of gold besants, in imitation of Judas Machabee. He granted all the land for a distance of six miles around the city of Blaye, the city itself, and everything that belonged to the town, to the church of Saint Romanus, in honor of God, and of his dear nephew Roland. In honor of all those who had received martyrdom with him, he granted independance to the place and the people, not wanting them to be subject to any human being. He also bound them and their descendants, by oath, to clothe and feed thirty paupers every year on the anniversary of his dear nephew Roland, for his soul and the souls of those who had received martyrdom at Roncevaux, and to to sing vigils and masses as well; and they swore to do so, and promised to carry out his wishes.

After making this agreement, I, Turpin, and the emperor, and part of our army left the city of Blaye and went into Gascony, through the city of Toulouse, directs to Arles the White. There we found the army of the Burgundians, which had left us at Roncevaux, and had come there with all their dead and wounded, between Morlaas and Toulouse. They carried them in wagons and in litters, on mules and on horses, to bury them in the cemetery of Blayes [error for Arles], of which we spoke above. With our own hands, we buried, in this cemetery these noble barons: Estultus, the count of Langres; Salomon, and Sanson the duke of Burgundy; Hernauld of Beauland; Auberic the Burgundian; Guinard and Esturmitus; Attes and Thierry; Yvorin and Yvoire; Berengar and Berart of Nubles; Naimes, duke of Bavaria; and 10,000 others. Constantine, the provost of Rome, and many other Romans and Apulians were brought by sea to the city of Rome and honorably buried. For the souls of all those who were buried there, Charlemagne distributed to the poor in the city of Arles 10,000 ounces of silver and an equal number of gold besants, following the example of Judas Maccabee, as he had done in the city of Blaye.

We then went off to the city of Vienne, and I, Turpin, remained in this city, worn out and much weakened by these great efforts, and by the blows and wounds that I had suffered in Spain. Charlemagne went straight to Paris, together with his army, where he rested a long time, weakened by his great exertions, and even more by his grief for Roland, Oliver, and the other barons.


When he returned to France, Charlemagne went to Saint Denis [from this point, a double interpolation by Primat; see Viard's detailed note]. He called a council of prelates and a meeting of the barons. He gave thanks to God and to the glorious martyrs for having given him the power and strength to defeat the Saracens utterly. There he gave all of France to the church, in honor of the martyrs, just as saint Paul the apostle and saint Clement had done in converting it to the Christian faith, and he decreed that all the kings of France and all the prelates now and in the future would be obedient to Our Lord through the pastor of the church, and that no king could be crowned without the Pope's advice and consent, nor any bishop ordained at the court of Rome, or punished, or received, without his will and consent.

Finally, after having given many gifts and privileges to the church, he ordered and decreed that everyone who was head of a household in France would give to the church four deniers every year, not out of servitude, but freely, and that those who had been serfs before would now be free. This should by no means be considered servitude, but the correct establishing of freedom; this is what Alexander the Great did when he conquered the East, decreeing that everyone who paid four deniers to him was free of all other taxes. Therefore the kings of France pay, every year, beyond their normal offering, four besants of gold, and they offer them to the martyrs, in recognition that they hold the kingdom of France from God and from them. This behavior in no way can be considered servitude. The king then took his crown and put it on the altar, delivering the crown of France into the keeping of God and of saint Denis, putting aside all earthly honor.

He took leave of the martyrs, and of the kingdom of France, and went to Aix-la-Chapelle, where he spent the rest of his life. For ever after, as long as he lived, he mourned and lamented his dear nephew Roland, and Oliver, and the other barons who died at Roncevalles. After he left Spain, and particularly after the death of Roland, he was never healthy again. For the rest of his life he gave 12,000 ounces of silver, as well as besants, clothes, and food, to the poor, for the souls of Roland and Oliver and the other barons, on the sixteenth calends of June, and he had psalms read and masses sung on the day that they received martyrdom. After he left me, in the city of Vienne, he promised that if he died before me he would send a messenger to inform me, and I also promised him that if I died before he did, I would let him know.

(ThKm xxxii) One day, in the city of Vienne, where I was staying, I had just heard the faithful of God sing a Requiem mass, and I was reciting a psalm from the psalter that I usually recite after the mass, when I saw a legion of devils suddenly pass in front of me. I called to one of them in the rear of the group, conjuring him, by the power of God, to tell me where they were going. He replied that they were going to the death of Charlemagne, who was, at that hour, about to die. Before I finished the psalm that I had begun to recite, I saw them return and pass before my seat. I asked the one in the rear, to whom I had previously spoken, what they had done, and he repled that a headless Galician and a headless Frenchman [the Latin has merely Galecianus sine capite] had placed so much wood and stones from monasteries and churches in the balance, that the alms and good deeds that he did outweighed the evil; therefore the angels carried off his soul and placed it in the hands of the sovereign King [Compare the demons at Dagobert's death, at Theodoric's death, and the later stories about Charles the Bald].

Having said this, the devil vanished, and I knew for certain that Charlemagne had passed on to the joy of Paradise at that very hour. At his death, he remembered the promise that he had made to me when he parted from me at Vienne; he ordered a knight to come and tell me that he was assuredly dead. Fifteen days after his death, the messenger arrived and told me how he died. Then I ascertained that he had died in the month, on the day, and at the hour that I had seen the vision! It was 814 years after the Incarnation, on the fifth calends of February.


Because he clearly saw the end of his life approaching [the first three paragraphs are not from Pseudo-Turpin; Charlemagne's will is a version of VKM xxxiii], as we shall tell hereafter, Charlemagne put his will in order very carefully, before going to bed with the illness from which he died. He left his moveables and all his treasures as a legacy to God and to holy Church, dividing them into three parts. The third part he gave to the poor and to the ministers of the palace; the other two he subdivided into 22 parts, in accordance with the 22 archbishops in his empire [the Latin gives 21; Primat adds Narbonne], and he wanted each archbishop to receive the third part of what belonged to his archbishopric, and the other two parts to be distributed equally among the churches of the bishops who were under him. The names of the metropolitan cities in his empire are: Rome, Ravenna, Milan, Aquilea [in the Latin, Forum Julii, which, according to Viard, is Cividale del Friuli in Italy], Grado, Cologne, Mainz, Salzburg, Treves, Besancon, Lyons, Vienne, Arles, Narbonne, Embrun, Darentoise, Bordeaux, Sens, tours, bourges, Rheims, and Rouen.

All the days of his life he had lived piously and virtuously, and his empire grew and multiplied, as the history describes. He left holy Church in a peaceful, stable condition, in the year of the Incarnation I have already given, when he was 72 years old, had reigned 47 years, 43 in the kingdom of Lombardy, and 13 as emperor. His power and fame were so great that he held all of the land between the mountain of Gargan and the city of Cordova in Spain.

At Aix-la-Chapelle his body was placed in the church of Our Lady, which he had founded; it was purified, embalmed and anointed and filled with precious spices. The body was placed on a golden throne, bound with his sword, with the text of the Gospels in his hands, propped on his knees. He was seated on the throne with his shoulders back and his face in a dignified, upright position. Inside his crown, which with attached to his head by means of a golden chain, was a piece of the wood of the holy cross. He was dressed in imperial garments, his face covered with a handkerchief below his crown. He had before him his sceptre and a golden shield that the apostle Leo had consecrated. His tomb was filled with treasures and riches, and with the odors of various precious spices.

(VKM xxxii) During the three years before he died, various signs occurred, pointing to his end and death. The first was that the sun and the moon lost their natural color for three days, and were totally black before he died. The second sign was that his name, which was written on the wall of the church of Our Lady at Aix, which he had built, spontaneously disappeared; it had looked like this: prince Charlemagne. The third sign was that a portico between the church and the palace [Einhard says that Charlemagne had built it] spontaneously collapsed on the day of the Ascension. The third sign was that a wooden bridge, that had taken him seven [Einhard says 10 years] years to build at Mainz on the Rhine, collapsed and fell into the water. The fifth sign occurred when he was out riding one day, from one place to another; the day suddenly grew very dark, and a large fiery torch suddenly ran in front of him, from right to left (in Einhard, this occurs in Saxony, during the expedition against Godfrey of Denmark, and the flaming is a comet in the sky; Primat clearly is interested in reducing the sense of specific historical reality, and increasing the element of vaguely quotidien miracle). He was so frightened and shocked by this, that he fell from his horse to the earth.

One must certainly believe that he is a partner in the crown and glory of the martyrs; even as he suffered with them the hardships and pains of this mortal life, so he must share the crown of martyrdom. By this example one may understand that whoever builds churches and monasteries for the honor of God and the saints prepares the kingdom of heaven for his soul, and he will be taken out of the hands of the devil, as Charlemagne was.

Turpin, the holy archbishop, did not live long after the death of Charlemagne [the end of this chapter is a translation of what Castets published as appendix A in his edition of the Chronique de Turpin, under the title, Calixtus Papa, de inventione beati Turpini episcopi et martyris]. He died a dignified and glorious death in the city of Vienne, worn out by wounds and by the ordeals he had suffered in Spain. At first he was buried a bit to the east of the city of Vienne, in a little church. But some clerics and canons later carried to a church in the city, where it lies in proper dignity; the church in which he first reposed was destroyed. They found the body of the holy man in one piece, with its flesh and skin, dressed in bishop's robes. He was crowned with the crown of victory in Paradise, which he earned by his many hard labors on earth.

One should believe that those who received martyrdom for their faith in Jesus Christ are crowned in heaven as their reward. And even though Charlemagne and Turpin were not martyred at Roncevalles, with Roland and Oliver and the other martyrs, nevertheless they partook of their merit and their glory who suffered with them in their lives the griefs and pains of wounds. As the apostle says, if they shared their pain and suffering, they will participate in their glory and relief.

Roland's name signifies the wheel of knowledge, for he surpassed all kings and princes in knowledge.

Oliver's name signifies a man of pity, for he pitied others; he was kind in speech, kind in deeds, and patient in all the ways of martyrdom.

Charlemagne's name signifies day of flesh, because he shone and surpassed all the secular princes and kings after Jesus Christ, in knowledge and in power.

Turpin's name signifies a very handsome man, or one without ugliness, for he was always upright in words and deeds.


(ThKm xxxiii) As a good example for kings and other princes who must wage war against the enemies of Christianity, one must not forget a remarkable event that happened to Roland, when he was alive, before he went to Spain. He was laying siege, with a large army, to a city named Grenoble; the siege lasted seven full years.

During the siege, an emissary came to him and said that the king of the Vandals, the king of Saxony, and the king of Frisia were besieging his uncle Charlemagne, in a castle in the country of Dalmatia. He sent a message to his uncle that he would help him immediately, and he would bring a large army to deliver him from the pagans who were besieging him. When he heard of his uncle's danger, Roland was very anxious, and he began to think of what he would do. If he went to deliver his uncle from this danger, he would abandon the siege of the city which he had been engaged in so long, and in which he had suffered some much pain and labor, unless he could capture it before going off to help his uncle.

Hear what the noble prince did when he had to choose one of two alternatives. Three days he fasted, eating and drinking nothing, and he and his entire army prayed to Our Lord to send help, with words like these:

"Dear lord Jesus Christ, son of the high Father who parted the red sea, you who permitted your people to pass on dry land, while you plunged the Pharoah who pursued them into the sea, together with all of his army, and you sent them manna from heaven. You destroyed many nations and many people who were their enemies: Seon, the king of the Amorriens; Og, the king of Basan (Numbers xxi, 21-35); and all the kings of the land of Canaan. And you gave them the promised land in which to live, as you had promised a long time in the past to their father Abraham. And you, Sir, who made the walls of Jericho, where the enemy of your people were shut up, tremble without any human being's efforts, dear God, if it is true, and I believe it firmly, that you are all-powerful, then by your word only destroy this city with your power, so that the pagan people, who believe in their own pride and not in you, may clearly recognize that you are God all-powerful, stronger than any king, true helper of Christians and those who destroy Saracens, you who live and reign with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, without beginning and without end."

After this prayer, the walls of the city fell, without any human effort, so that the city was open on all sides. Cout Roland and his army entered, without any resistance, killed the Saracens and drove them out, and the city was conquered.

Roland and the entire Christian army were very happy with the favor that Go, with his power, had done for them, and they praised him whole-heartedly. Then Roland took his army and went to relieve Charlemagne, his uncle, in the land of the Tyois. He defeated and drove out his enemies, freeing his uncle from their hands, by the power of Our Lord.


At this point we should remember what happened in the land of Galicia after the death of Charlemagne.

After a long period of peace, a Saracen prince, the emir of Cordova, provoked by the enticement of the devil, boasted that he would conquer the land of Spain and Galicia, which Charlemagne had taken from his ancestors, and would restore it to pagan law. He assembled his army, laid waste the land in several areas, and arrived at the city of Compostella, where the body of saint James lay. They seized and carried of everything they found in the city, destroying the church of the glorious apostle, and creating great suffering. They carried off books bound in gold, silver salvers, crosses, incense-burners, and other ornaments. They lodged themselves and their horses inside the church itself, using the main altar as a latrine. Our Lord became angry, and punished those who were doing this by eviscerating their bowels and guts. Others lost their sight, wandering blindly through the church. Their leader, the emir himself lost his eyesight entirely, but recovered it by following the advice of a priest of the church whom he had captured. The priest advised him to pray to Our Lord for help, and the Saracen began to cry out loudly:

"Oh God of the Christians, God of James, God of Mary, God of Peter, God of Martin, and God of all Christians, if you give me back my sight I shall denounce Mahomet, my God, and shall never return to the land of James, your great man, to do harm. Oh James, great man and great lord, if you will restore the health of my stomach and my eyes, I shall restore whatever I have taken from your house."

Fifteen days after he had given everything back two-fold, returning what he had taken from the church, his stomach and his eyesight were again healthy. He left saint James' land, promising never to return to this area to pillage and do harm. He acknowledged and professed that the God of the Christians was powerful, and that James, his disciple, was a great man.

He left and went off through Spain, laying waste the country, until he came ot a city named Orniz. In that city there was a church, nobly constructed in honor of saint Romanus. It was furnished with gold cloths, with books, with silver crosses, and with golden Gospels. As brutal as ever, the emir arrived, took everything he found in the church, and ravaged the entire city. While he was staying there, one of his princes, a leader of his army, entered the church of Saint Romanus. As he was looking around, he saw the very beautiful stone columns that held up the roof of the church; their capitals were covered with silver and gold. The Saracen, an envious thief, took a large iron club, and began to hammer, with powerful blows, at a joint in the column, in an attempt to bring down the church. But Our Lord showed him that he was angry, and the Saracen turned to stone, and this stone is still in the church, in the image of a man, with a robe of the same color as that the Saracen wore on the day he was transformed, and with a face like his, and pilgrims who went there used to say that this image gave off a foul odor.

When the emir saw this miracle, he said to those close to him: "Truly the God of the Christians is very great and powerful, who has such pillars, who, when they have died and passed out of this life, have the power to destroy and bring to justice those who harm their places, removing the eyes of some, eviscerating others, and turning others to stone. James took my eyesight, Romanus turned one of my men to stone, but James was kinder than Romanus, for he took pity on me and returned my eyesight, but Romanus does not wish to return my man to me. Let us flee from this country, before something worse happens to us."

Then the emir and his army left the country. For a long time afterwards, no one was so foolhardy as to dare invade the country or the land of Saint James.

May all men know that whoever shall give trouble to his land and country will be damned forever, and those who guard it against the Saracens will earn, through the merits of saint James, the joy of Paradise; may we all be granted, through prayer and the merits of saint James, the joy of Paradise, by the king of kings, who lives and reigns in perfect Trinity, forever and forever.