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The Foundation of French Literacy - Essay Example

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The contents of the essay have to be understood as per conditions prevailing at the end of the eleventh century, at the time of Spanish crusades against the Muslims. It relates to historical incidents of battle of August 15, 778 in which the rear-guard of Charlemagne’s retreating Frank forces is attacked by Basques. …
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The Foundation of French Literacy

Download file to see previous pages... It relates to historical incidents of battle of August 15, 778 in which the rear-guard of Charlemagne’s retreating Frank forces is attacked by Basques. A large number of top knights and Duke Roland of the Brittany Marches were killed in the massacre. Ganelon was the master architect of this great act of betrayal. When he was picked by Roland for the peace mission, his relatives and other knights expressed their sympathy as they firmly believed that his life would not be safe. Ganelon accepted the task, certain that he would die. He threatened Roland, "If God should deign that I come back again then I shall stir up such a feud with you that it will last as long as you're alive!" (Anonymous, 1957, 20, pp. 289-291). Emperor Charlemagne was firm about sending Ganelon and said his command must be followed implicitly. Ganelon had no other option, but to comply with the order. In the fight against Muslims in Spain Charlemagne made great strides and Saragossa was the only surviving city ruled by the Muslim King Marsile. Knowing the might of the army of Charlemagne, he dispatched messengers to Charlemagne promising his conversion to Christianity and submission of treasure. In return, he urged him to go back to France. Charlemagne too wished to buy peace as he and his men were tired of the long war. The issue was about selection of a messenger who would represent the King at Marsile’s court. The choice fell on Ganelon, stepfather of Roland. Ganelon, however, viewed this selection with suspicion and feared that he was being sent deliberately to die in the hands of the cruel pagans. He had always hated his stepson and he thought that he had an opportunity to settle scores with Roland. Joining the Saracen peace ambassadors, Ganelon talked at length with Blancandrin as they rode together back to Saragossa. He spat venom against Roland and blamed him for inciting the Franks for the war that was fought without intermission. “If someone killed him," said Ganelon, "we might all have peace" (Anonymous, 1957, 29, pp. 391). Blancandrin was greatly excited about this observation and both of them pledged to each other and decided to design a plot to get rid of him. Roland was brave but failed to gauge the consequences of his actions and due to this weakness, treacherous Ganelon succeeded in outwitting his knightly companions and his army. Roland’s flaw was his superlative confidence and pride, and he was unwilling to reacquire aid for him and for his army at the time of war, when the situation demanded it. Viewed from this angle he was a poor tactician. Ganelon departed with his retinue. While travelling to Saragossa, he got enough time to talk with his accomplices about the intended plot to kill Roland. Both of them reached to the outdoor assembly of Marsile, who was seated in surroundings that displayed his grandeur. As planned, the meeting began with a stormy start as Ganelon told Marsile that if he failed to accept the terms and conditions set forth by Charles, he would be doomed to meet his death after the capture. Marsile reacted violently and moved to attack Ganelon, but controlled himself well in time. Ganelon stuck to his assertion and was able to impress the Saracens with his candid disposition. Marsile read Charlemagne’s letter aloud for the benefit of those present in the court, in which he mentioned Basan and Basile, the executed Frankish representatives, and, if interested in saving his life, he must depute his uncle the caliph as the hostage. He warned him about the impending death if he failed to comply and he might have to die "in squalor and disgrace." (Anonymous, 1957, 33, pp. 437) Ganelon told them about the danger posed by Roland and to the question when the war would end he categorically stated ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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