I start this story with tongue in cheek, as if my dreams would allow me to do so, differently.
Charlemagne the Great united most of Europe in the late 700’s under the banner of Christianity. He conquered Europe and then freed the Iberian peninsula, establishing the Carolingian Dynasty. He defeated the Muslims and drove the Saracens out of Spain, back into the African continent. He united the Christian faith. His efforts were rewarded by Pope Leo III when he was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
Charles Martel, also known as “Charles the Hammer was Charlemagne’s father started seizing power in the early 700’s. Establishing the Carolingian Dynasty. Expanding the empire under the cloak of Christianity and the rule of law.
At that time in France, there were two factions. The “Doons” side of the nobility wanted to be close enough to Charlemagne to keep a watchful eye, to share in the benefits and to take advantage of his mistakes. They probably should have been the rightful rulers of France but their petty jealousy and conniving ways deprived them of the chance. The other faction of nobles supported the great emperor through thick and thin, without a shade of doubt, with no thoughts of selfish gain but filled with self-sacrifice.
Nobility and chivalry controlled the wave of popularism throughout the kingdom. The jealous factions of the nobility wanted to be close to Charlemagne in able to seize power should the opportunity arise. He gave them fiefdoms to insure their support. He kept them close to him to control their selfish behaviors.
From the other faction, the most loyal and trustworthy of his knights, the great Charlemagne bestowed titles and privileges to show his appreciation. He placed these men in key positions around his kingdom to safeguard his position. One of these knights was his nephew, Roland or Rolando. Known for his great strength, stubbornness and sense of humor. As prefect to Breton, his job was to protect the border.
Charlemagne endured many campaigns, one to Zaragoza the last city in Spain that under Muslim conquest. The emperor and his troops surrounded the city, placed it under siege. The Muslim King Marsile, not knowing when help would arrive from Africa sent emissaries to Charlemagne to seek a peaceful solution. He promised to convert to Christianity and pay homage to the great king of France. Charlemagne sought the counsel of his knights and agreed to the king’s terms. He left Rolando who was know for his great strength and courage in charge of the rear guard, to protect his flank on the return trip through the narrow passes of the Great Pyrenees Mountains.
Rolando was a devout supporter of his uncle, the king. His bravery was unsurpassed and unquestioned. He left his stepfather Count Ganelson as an ambassador to the Muslim king and took several Muslim hostages to ensure his safety. This measure did not please Rolando’ vindictive stepfather. He thought that he was being left behind as a sacrificial lamb. Ganelson was part of the nobilty of France that wanted to see Charlemagne fail, so that they could take advantage of his demise and seize territory.
Count Ganelson conceived a plan of treachery. He knew of a weak spot in the trail through the mountains and he shared it with the Muslim King. King Marsile feeling remorse from his treaty with Charlemagne, had received word that reinforcements from the Africa continent would soon arrive. He agreed to the step father’s plan and set out to harass the vanguard of Charlemagne’s troops, led by Charlemagne’s protector, Rolando.
There were several narrow passes in Basque territory on the return route to France, weaving through the Pyrenees that allowed only single file progression. The stepfather knew of these passes and there, he concentrated the Muslim kings’ forces to harass and destroy his countrymen.
One such place was a long narrow bridge at Roncevauex Pass. When I squench my eyes and look into the sun, I can see this place. Built of stone, now crumbling with age, it was only wide enough in places to allow single passage. High in the mountains, this bridge spanned a deep gorge. This is the spot where Rolando chose to defend the king with his life and honor.
Rolando was accompanied by his best friend Oliver, a regal knight in his own right, best known for his intelligence as well as valor. In some cases Oliver would duel with Rolando to prove his point and to show his own strengths. Oliver often gave counsel of sound reasoning to Rolando, who on this occasion chose not to listen.
Rolando was in possession of three great icons of immortality. His great war horse Bayard, said to have been given to him by a magician, could understand human speech, could break rocks with his mighty hooves and said to have been able to adapt his size to any weight he had to carry.………, his mighty sword, “Durendal,” given to him by Charlemagne himself, legend to be the strongest and sharpest blade in the world…, and Oliphant, his legendary horn was made from elephant tusks..
During the fight, known historically as “The Battle of Roncevaux Pass,” Oliver kept trying to persuade Rolando to blow the great horn to summon Charlemagne’s troops to their rescue. Believing in his own strength and capabilities, Rolando stubbornly refused. To call for help in the middle of battle, was to him an act of cowardice. He chose the site of the bridge to make his stand, allowing the last of his troops to pass. He dropped the visor on the helmet of his armor as he turned to face his enemies then lowered his lance. Standing guard to protect the pass from the invaders.
The first conflicts started in the late morning, as the sun was rising up the mountain slopes. One by one the Muslim warriors were slain, yet they kept coming still, even as the sun rose high in the sky. The dead and dying began to pile up on the bridge, so high that they couldn’t be by passed or climbed over. Their bodies were thrown over the sides of the bridge to create room for further passage.
The great knight Rolando kept using his lance and legendary sword to maintain his position throughout the day, even as the numbers of the dead rose to a hundred or more. Oliver with a sense of urgency kept pleading between breaths with Rolando’s vanity to use his great horn “Oliphant,” to summon help before all was lost.
Rolando tiring in the afternoon sun, finally gave in and used his famous horn made from the tusk of an elephant. The great horn could be heard reverberating throughout the mountains and valleys for miles and miles. It is said that he blew his horn so loud that his temples burst. Rolando’s heroics gave his troops time to reach safer positions where they could defend themselves until reinforcements arrived, but the sound of the horn also gave urgency to the efforts of the Muslim troops. Their huge numbers finally overcame the Emperor’s vanguard as the sun was setting in the west.
How many Muslims were slain by Rolando in the Battle of Ronceveaux Pass is still argued to this day. Some say hundreds, while others say thousands, or more. When helped finally arrived, Rolando’s body was riddled with wounds, his armor smashed. It is said that before he died, he threw his great sword over the side of the bridge and into the gorge. Where it is reported to be to this day, on the side of the ravine, stuck in stone.
When Charlemagne and his troops finally arrived they routed the Muslim troops, chased them back to Zaragoza, where he again laid siege. This time he defeated the king and his reinforcements, taking Rolando’s stepfather prisoner, returning him to France to face trial.
Back in France, Rolando’s Count Ganelson pled his case not as treason but as an act of revenge. There he was surrounded by the prestige of his own royal family, but to no avail. He was found guilty of treason as charged. Under Charlemagne’s order’s his limbs were attached to four horses and pulled apart, each horse driven in different directions throughout the kingdom as a warning to others.
The Muslims had been occupying the Iberian peninsula since the fall of the Roman Empire, about 300 years. The people of Spain, originally were the Visgoths. Blonde and blue eyed. The last Visigoth Queen married a Muslim King and after several centuries of Moorish occupation and breeding with the Saracens, their offspring became dark skinned and brown eyed, to this day they share the same DNA as their Moorish suppressors.
In my dreams, I can see Rolando in his suit of armor fending off one attacker after another. His face though is the face of our great president, Donald Trump. Who also followed in his father’s footsteps. It is no great stretch of the imagination to compare the two. Donaldo as our president is fighting the Muslim invaders yet and their cousins, their Hispanic offspring from their attempts to take over our country.
Donald Trump is the prefect of our American borders, guarding against invasion by the Muslims and their cousins the Hispanics from Central America. He listens to advice from his friend Oliver Stone, but his strength is holding his own counsel. He fights back. “Quid pro quo.” Why trade a Roland for an Oliver?”
He’s got our back. He is defending Christianity. He is riding his mighty steed; yes his popularity with the American people is his Bayard. His mighty sword Durendal, is our Constitution and his Oliphant is twitter and he blows his own horn. Let’s hope that our great Constitution doesn’t get thrown off the cliff. We have Donaldo at the Gate.