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variety of language, has started up a whole host of ballads and romances. Eginhard—who by the way was not in truth Eginhard at all, for he always called himself and his contemporaries always called him Einhard or Einhardus— tells us that Charlemagne gave orders to put in writing “the barbaric and most ancient poems in which the deeds and wars of the old Kings were sung.” The object of the great Emperor was that these poems might be safely transmitted to posterity; and the encouragement which he thus afforded to such compositions was, though unconsciously, conducive to his own renown. Other poems in celebration of himself sprung up within the next two centuries; and although the great fame of Charlemagne might fairly rest on his authentic and admitted deeds, yet, certainly, in the eyes of our forefathers, and perhaps even in our own, his figure has seemed enormously enhanced and magnified when contemplated through the haze of fiction. On no point I think has that fiction been so rife as on the many legends relating to the twelve Peers of Charlemagne, or, as they are sometimes called, his Paladins. But Charlemagne in real fact had no Peers at all. The idea is quite imaginary. It appears to take its rise from the supposition that every man of might ought to be attended by certain followers of commensurate renown; and the Gospel History may perhaps have suggested the number twelve as especially solemn and sacred. Thus, in like manner, the Spaniards have an epic on Alexander the Great which dates from the thirteenth century, and which represents the Macedonian conqueror also as having around him his twelve Peers." As to the name of Paladin, it has been like so many others elucidated by the skill and learning of Ducange. He shows from quotations that the d in the word is a later corruption of t, and that the original term was “Palatin,” not “Paladin;” the signification being “one that belongs to the palace;” a chosen champion, or if you prefer it, a guardsman of the Sovereign. Charlemagne himself in some legends is raised to the stature of a giant. His life by the pseudo-Turpin declares that he was at least eight feet high. In other legends he is exalted to the dignity of a Saint. Such at all events was the idea entertained of him by Joan of Arc. She said to Charles the Seventh, at Chinon : “I tell you, gentle Dauphin, that God has pity on you, your realm, and your people, for St. Louis and St. Charlemagne are on their knees before him, and offer supplications for you.” But the event of this reign in which all the poetry, all the legends, all the pseudo-histories, may be said to culminate, is the retreat of the French from Spain, attended by the rout of Roncesvalles and the fall of Roland. The real facts are to be gathered from two passages of Eginhard; the one in his Life of Charlemagne, and the other in his Annals, under the date 778. It appears then that Charlemagne, being invited to Spain by Ibn Araby, one of his Moorish allies, marched
| This is the Alexandro of Juan I ten thousand lines. See Mr. TickLorenzo Segura, a poem of above | nor's History, vol. i. p. 54.
over the Pyrenees, took Pamplona, and advanced to the Ebro, under the walls of Saragoza. There he received hostages in token of submission from several of the Saracen princes, and so far had been successful in his object. But on his march homewards his rear-guard was assailed and put to the sword in one of the Pyrenean passes by an armed body of Spanish Basques. “In which conflict,” adds Eginhard, “there fell with very many others, Anselm, Count of the Palace, and Roland, Praefect of the Marches of Brittany.” I may remark that the name of Roland is here given in the truly barbaric form of Hruodlandus. Much more important than this observation is the note here appended by M. Teulet, the latest and best editor of Eginhard. “This passage,” he says, “is the only one among the early historians in which any mention is made of the famous Roland who plays so great a part in all the Carlovingian romances.” On this scanty groundwork then has arisen, as I may term it, an air-built and fantastic castle. In the first place, Roland is made the nephew of Charlemagne—a relationship which would certainly not be unnoticed by Eginhard if it had been real. Next he is invested with the trusty sword Durandal, with which he not only demolishes his enemies, but on one occasion, when pursuing the Moslem, cleaves a pass through the Pyrenees which towers above le Cirque de Gavarni, and is still called la brèche de Roland. Moreover he had a horn scarcely less tremendous, which he sounded in the rout of Roncesvalles, to apprize Charlemagne of his danger, and which was heard by the Emperor at a wonderful distance. Further still the romancers are so obliging as to provide him with a bride, the Lady Alda, who remains at Paris, and is awaiting his return from Spain. As it appears to me, there is here a striking similarity between the Roland of France and the William Wallace of Scotland. The exploits of both are unrecorded in the meagre chronicles of the time. These exploits live only in tradition and in song. But taken as a whole they have, in my judgment, a just claim to be believed. All that tradition has done is to confound the dates and exaggerate the circumstances. We may be sure that so great and so general a fame could not in either case have arisen had not the living hero in pressed his image on the public mind. I should therefore entirely agree with Sismondi, who in the second volume of the history of France contends, that although Roland may not have been pre-eminent at Roncesvalles, he must have performed achievements and acquired renown in former years, when warring against the Saracens of Spain. Many other characters of Roncesvalles, though familiar to the minstrel, are wholly unknown to the historian. Such are Oliver and other Paladins in the French romances. Such are Durandarte and Calaynos in the Spanish ballads. But above all in frequency of mention stands Ganelon, the arch-traitor, who misled Roland in the mountain passes and caused the “dolorous rout.” M. Génin, a high authority on the Carlovingian period, has discussed the subject of this name, conceiving it to be derived from an Archbishop of Sens, also called Ganelon, who in 859 was guilty of gross ingratitude to his Sovereign and benefactor Charles the Bald. This seems to me a wholly unfounded idea. The ingratitude of Archbishop Ganelon did not lead to any such striking or fatal action as would at all impress itself on the popular imagination; and moreover it appears that the Emperor and the Prelate were reconciled together before the close of the same year. Nor is the sacerdotal character preserved in the legendary Ganelon, as one would expect it to be if an Archbishop had been in truth its prototype. I consider it therefore very far more probable that Ganelon may have been the real appellation of the treacherous chief of the Navarrese or Spanish Basques who assailed the rear-guard of Charlemagne. Nor does it seem to me at all surprising that Eginhard in his very summary account of the transaction, and omitting even the name of Roncesvalles, should omit also the name of any leader on the enemy's side. Be this as it may, however, there is no doubt that within two centuries and a half from the death of Charlemagne the songs and ballads founded on the tragical tale of Roncesvalles had grown popular in France. One proof of this—connected also with the history of England—is given by Robert Wace in his Roman de Rou. He tells us that as the Normans of William the Conqueror marched onwards to the battle
* Eginhard, Opera, vol. i. p. 32, ed. Teulet.