The Song of Roland Study Guide

The Song of Roland is an epic poem which is more famous as a chanson de geste. It tells the story of the knight who is betrayed by his stepfather. He leads the rear guard of the emperor’s army and gets outnumbered and trapped by enemies. If you wish to learn more details about his amazing deeds, look through our Song of Roland study guide right now!

This study guide prepared by experts answers some of these questions and gives clues to a better understanding of The Song of Roland context, plot, and symbolism.

Song of Roland Key Facts

Full Name The Song of Roland (La Chanson de Roland)
Author Unknown
Genre Epic poem
Date of Publishing 11th century
Setting (Time) 778
Setting (Place) Spain and France

Song of Roland Study Guide: Articles

The poem’s summary 

Looking for The Song of Roland summary? Want to quickly learn the key events of the poem’s plot? Find here detailed and short summaries of the epic.

Character analysis 

Who are the characters in The Song of Roland? This page describes the poem’s characters: Charlemagne, Roland, Ganelon, Oliver, and others.


Want to learn more about themes in The Song of Roland? Code of chivalry, religion, loyalty, friendship – all the themes are described in this article.

Symbolism & literary analysis 

When was The Song of Roland written? What are the key symbols in the poem? Here you’ll find all the answers about the poem’s symbolism and context.

Essay topics and examples 

If you need to write an essay on The Song of Roland, check the collection we’ve prepared. It contains The Song of Roland essay samples, topics, and prompts.

The Song of Roland Q&A 

What is The Song of Roland about? How does Roland die?️ On this page, you’ll find the answers to the most pressing questions about the epic poem. Enjoy!

Historical Context of Song of Roland

It would be fair to say that this epic poem is based on real events. Song of Roland context is all about one battle, even though there are many other things contributing to the full picture. However, it is important to remember that a lot of details, especially dialogues and emotional descriptions, are made up. There is some proof that Roland, commander in the Frankish army, existed. It was registered in Life of Charlemagne. He was not described as the emperor’s relative, though.

Charlemagne was the ruler of the Franks in 800s and united a lot of European countries creating some kind of an empire. He was spreading Christianity as far as he could reach. The main event of the poem is the battle named after its location. The Battle of Roncevaux Pass happened in 778 in the mountains between Spain and France. In the story, everything is quite fictionalized. For example, the rear guard was not attacked by Spanish Muslims but by the Basques who had their reason for arranging an ambush. Roland and the rest of his knights died in the battle but it allowed Charlemagne to cross the mountain range and return home safely.

That historical event was later turned into a poem to become a quite straightforward religious message. Christians against Muslims is one of the main Song of Roland themes, and emperor was portrayed as the savior of the believers. The poem appeared to become the most popular during The First Crusade. However, this assumption depends on the precise date of its creation, which is still unknown, as well as the author.

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