At a moment when Charlemagne's army was stretched out in a long column of march, as the nature of the local defiles forced it to be, these Basques [Wascones], who had set their ambush on the very top of one of the mountains, came rushing down on the last part of the baggage train and the troops who were marching in support of the rearguard and so protecting the army which had gone on ahead. The Basques forced them down into the valley beneath, joined battle with them and killed them to the last man. They then snatched up the baggage, and, protected as they were by the cover of darkness, which was just beginning to fall, scattered in all directions without losing a moment. In this feat the Basques were helped by the lightness of their arms and by the nature of the terrain in which the battle was fought. On the other hand, the heavy nature of their own equipment and the unevenness of the ground completely hampered the Franks in their resistance to the Basques. In this battle died Eggihard, who was in charge of the King's table, Anshelm, the Count of the palace, and Roland, Lord of the Breton Marches, along with a great number of others. What is more, this assault could not be avenged there and then, for, once it was over, the enemy dispersed in such a way that no one knew where or among which people they could be found. (Burgess, 9-10, translated from Einhard's Vita Karoli Magni, or, The Life of Charlemagne)
Song of Roland literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Song of Roland.
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The poem would not have necessarily been performed all at once; a skilled jongleur, depending on the occasion, might summarize preceding parts and than perform a small part of the poem. Readers should try to remember that on the page, a crucial part of the poem's art is missing. The Song of Roland was meant to be seen and heard, accompanied by music and in the context of social gatherings and celebration.