Roland

British - In Scottish lore, a son of King Arthur. Brother of Ellen. When Rowland's sister was carried off by fairies, he and his brothers went in search of her. Two disappeared but Rowland obeyed the instructions of Merlin to kill everyone he encountered in Elfland and was thereby able to rescue not only Ellen but his two brothers also, when he defeated the fairy king. In some lore, occasionally referred to as Roland, Achilles of the North, Achilles of the North, Roland, Achilles of the West, Achilles of the West, Roland, Hroudlandus, Hroudlandus, Roland, Rotholandus, Rotholandus or Roland.
European - A count of Brittany. One of Charlemagne's paladins. Son of Milon and Bertha. Nephew of Charlemagne. Husband of Aldabella, in some accounts. In some accounts, he was the son of Charlemagne's incestuous liaison with his sister, Bertha. Reared in poverty, he came to the notice of Charlemagne, his uncle or father, when he stole food from a royal banquet. When Charlemagne sent out his knights to seize a magnificent jewel worn on his shield by a knight in the Ardennes, Roland, aged fifteen, accompanied his father as armourbearer. While his father slept, Roland took his armour and rode into the forest where he met and defeated the knight taking the jewel from his shield. For this deed of bravery, he was knighted by the emperor. He fought and killed the giant, Ferragus, and then fought the giant's nephew, Otuel, who tried to avenge his uncle's death. Roland defeated him and he became a Christian in the service of Charlemagne. Roland also defeated a Saracen from whom he took the sword Durindana. When Charlemagne was in dispute with Montglave, Roland fought Olover in single combat to settle the matter. After five days, neither had gained an advantage and so they declared an honourable draw, having recognised each other. At the great tournament organised by Charlemagne, Roland was enchanted by Angelica and fought Ferrau for her. When she disappeared, he travelled far and wide to find her. At a bridge on the road to Albracca a maiden gave him a drink which made him forget the object of his search and he was imprisoned. He was freed by Angelica who had escaped from the besieged city of Albracca and, with other knights who had been held in the same prison, routed the besieging Tartars and killed their leader, Agrican. He found himself fighting his own friend, Rinaldo, and Angelica, who was in love with Rinaldo, persuaded Roland to avoid further conflict by leaving to destroy the enchanted garden of Falerina. En route, he rescued a maiden who had been tied to a tree and was given a book. The rescued maiden decamped, taking Roland's horse and sword but he killed the dragon at the entrance to the garden with the branch of a tree and entered. He tied Falerina to a tree, took her magic sword and killed all the monsters guarding the kingdom. Falerina told him that the prisoners were held by an even greater enchantress, Morgana. Her castle was guarded by the strong man, Arridano, who could breathe under water. Roland fought with him and they both fell into the river. At the bottom, Roland killed Arridano and returned to the surface, entering the castle where he found Morgana asleep. Distracted by the mirage, Fata Morgana, he allowed her to escape but he chased her and finally caught her by the forelock, taking her keys and freeing Rinaldo, Florismart and several other prisoners. He was imprisoned in an enchanted castle by Atlantes but rescued by Astolpho and soon came across a girl, Isabella, who had been seized by pirates. He routed her captors and they travelled on together, meeting another group of men guarding a prisoner. Roland killed or wounded all of them, freeing their prisoner who turned out to be Zerbino, a prince who had secretly married Isabella. He rode on, leaving Zerbino with his wife and found a cottage where Angelica and Modero had stayed. Learning of their marriage, he was driven to madness, tearing up trees and killing flocks. Zerbino came upon this devastation but was challenged by Mandricardo for the possession of Durindana which Roland had abandoned in his madness. Zerbino was killed and Mandricardo claimed the sword. Roland seized a horse, rode to the coast and crossed to Africa riding the horse till it sank beneath him and swimming the rest of the way. He came upon the Abyssinian army, led by Astolpho, who, with the aid of a bottle given to him by St John, restored Roland to his proper senses. When Agramant withdrew from France to defend his capital, Biserta, which was besieged by the Abyssinians, Roland, Oliver and Florismart were chosen to do battle with Agramant, Sobrino and Grassado to decide the issue. Only Roland, Oliver and Sobrino survived the battle, the latter two being badly wounded. With Agramant dead, the Africans submitted and Roland was free to take his wounded comrades to Sicily for treatment. They landed on an island and the wounded men were cured by the hermit who had recently baptised Rogero with whom they were now reunited. When the war in Europe ended, Charlemagne entered Spain, subdued the country and exacted tribute. In one version, Roland was the leader of the rearguard when the army withdrew from Spain; in another version, Roland and Oliver were sent to the Spanish border to collect the tribute from Marsilius, the Spanish king. In either event, Gano, the treacherous paladin who hated Roland, had arranged a trap and the Spanish had three armies hidden in ambush at the pass at Roncesvalles. In the battle, Roland killed King Falseron and many others but his force was greatly outnumbered and his friends were falling round him. For a long time he refused to summon help but with the death of Oliver, Roland realised that the end was near and blew three blasts on his horn, Olivant, to alert Charlemagne who was encamped at the foot of the mountains. The sound killed birds flying overhead and frightened the Saracens. The main army routed the Saracens, but too late. The wounded Roland, told by Rinaldo that the enemy had been defeated, received absolution from Turpin and died. In one account of the battle, Oliver, blinded by blood from his wounds, struck Roland with his club, mistaking him for a Saracen. It was a mortal blow and Roland died shortly after Oliver and Turpin. Two similar stories say that Roland was betrothed to Aude, sister of Oliver, or to Hildegunde. In each case, he had to leave to fight in Spain before they had a chance to get married. Aude died of grief when she heard of his death at Roncesvalles while, in the other version, Hildegunde became a nun. In another version, Roland escaped from the scene of carnage but died of starvation when he tried to cross the Pyrenees alone. Some stories say that Roland was crushed to death by the Spanish hero, Bernardo del Carpio. Others say that he recovered and returned to marry Hildegarde, only to find that she, believing him dead, had become a nun. She died soon after and Roland built a retreat on the rock known as Rolandseck, spending his days in prayer. When he died, he was buried facing the grave of his beloved. Also referred to as Roland, Achilles of the North, Achilles of the North, Roland, Achilles of the West, Achilles of the West, Roland, Hroudlandus, Hroudlandus, Roland, Rotholandus, Rotholandus or Roland.

Nearby Myths