The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Roland
ROLAND, called by the Italians Orlando, a paladin of the court of Charlemagne, and one of the most famous heroes of the chivalric romances of the middle ages. According to tradition, he was a nephew of Charlemagne, and was slain at Roncesvalles. The narrative of his defeat and death has been expanded into a history full of picturesque and marvellous details; and in the “Romance of Roncesvalles,” in the rhymed chronicle La Spagna, in the “Grand Chronicles,” in Turpin's fabulous chronicle De Vita Caroli Magni et Rolandi, and later in the Orlando innamorato of Boiardo, the Orlando furioso of Ariosto, and the Morgante Maggiore of Pulci, he figures as the great exemplar of mediæval chivalry. The “Song of Roland,” a metrical narrative of the hero's chief exploits, was a favorite with minstrels of the middle ages. His historical existence rests upon a doubtful passage in Eginhard's Vita Caroli Magni, and he is believed to be almost wholly the creation of fiction.—See Das Rolandslied, edited by Karl Bartsch (Leipsic, 1874), forming vol. iii. of Sammlung der deutschen Dichtungen des Mittelalters.