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A Story From: France
Read Time: ["10 to 15mins"]
For Ages: 8 to 10yrs., 12 to 14yrs.

Two champions are chosen to battle to decide an argument of the King's.
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Retold by Elaine L. Lindy from the story "A Roland for an Oliver" from The Story of Roland by James Baldwin (Charles Schribner's Sons: New York, 1883) pp. 114-132.

©2006.  All rights reserved.


According to legend, the reason why Count Gerard had originally become angry with Charlemagne was because of an incident that had hapened at court. Grard had visited Charlemagne to pay his taxes for Viana and had hoped that the king, as a reward for his lifelong service at Viana, would grant him the land of Burgundy in addition to govern. As was the custom in those times, the count stooped to kiss the king's foot. Unfortunately, he stumbled and his lips instead touched the foot of the queen, who was at that time sitting by Charlemagne's side. The knights who stood around burst into laughter. The king, in anger, told Gerard that the land of Burgundy had already been granted to a younger and more courteous knight, and that he must content himself with Viana until he had learned better manners. Count Gerard, boiling with rage, turned on his heels and strode out of the palace. He soon after declared that he would no longer be loyal to the king nor pay him any more taxes. He then returned to his castle at Viana, strengthened it greatly and prepared for a long siege.

Roland- The nephew and right-hand-man of Charlemagne, Roland is immortalized in The Song of Roland (Le Chanson de Roland), the oldest major work of French literature. His death scene, at the hands of the Saracens in 778 AD, is one of the most powerful and memorable scenes in French literature.

Oliver- Roland's closest friend, brother-in-law, advisor, and stalwart companion-in-arms. In The Song of Roland, Oliver is portrayed as more insightful and prudent than the rash Roland. It is not known if Oliver, unlike Roland, is based on a real historical figure.