Roland: A loyal vassal suffers for his good lord

December 6, 2010


Roland de Roncevaux. The statue of Roland, is located in the centre of the town hall square in front of the House of Blackheads in Riga, Latvia. Photo by Patrick Mayon

When Roland felt that the battle came,

Lion or leopard to him were tame;

He shouted aloud to his Franks, and then

Called to his gentle compeer agen.

“My friend, my comrade, my Olivier,

The Emperor left us his bravest here;

Twice ten thousand he set apart,

And he knew among them no dastard heart.

For his lord the vassal must bear the stress

Of the winter’s cold and the sun’s excess

Peril his flesh and his blood thereby:

Strike thou with thy good lance – point and I,

With Durindana, the matchless glaive

Which the king himself to my keeping gave,

That he who wears it when I lie cold

May say ’twas the sword of a vassal bold.”

The Song of Roland, trans. John O’Hagan, verse 91, at

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 31

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