Who Is Roland?

In The Song of Roland, Roland is the main heroic character who fights in the name of God and his nation. He is Charlemayn’s nephew and one of the Twelve Peers, proving how skillful and loyal a knight he is. The main events of the poem put him in focus.

Even though Charlemayn is usually considered the main character, his name is not included in the poem’s title. Roland is a member of the Twelve Peers of France and is portrayed as the role model knight. Emperor Charlemayn admires and cares for him not only because Roland is his nephew. In fact, their bond and mutual loyalty are so strong that Ganelon plots to kill his stepson only to make the emperor weaker. Another reason why Roland is so famous and admired among the Franks is because of his victories and courageous deeds on the battlefields. Not only Roland serves his emperor, but he is also devoted to their utmost mission of spreading Christianity. 

However, sometimes his pride can be compared with foolish stubbornness. When it is evident that their small army cannot win against the Saracens, he still refuses to call for Charlemayn’s help. Later, it proves to be a fatal mistake. However, just like every other French soldier under his command, Roland is fighting fiercely till the end. He dies holding his sword tightly and praying. Such an ideal Christian knight simply cannot be treated in any other way, so God sends his angels to take Roland to Paradise. Therefore, despite his flaws, this character appears to be a perfect hero of the poem. 

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