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Charlemagne and Roland. A mysterious relationship?

Boletín de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona
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  • History
  • Political Science


BARTON SHOLOD CHARLEMAGNE AND ROLAND. A MYSTERIOUS RELATIONSHIP? I t is well known that although Charlemagne's rule denoted coiisi- derable political and cultural advance, his personal morals remained those of his semi-barbaric predecessors. His coiicubines atid illegiti- mate progeny were legion ; the chronicles speack of Louis tlie Pious' efforts to stop the debauchery, especially that of the priucesses, at Aix o11 his arrival there after Charles' death. It his obvious, too, that Eiiihard, iii his Vita Karoli Magni, was faced with urnatieres épi- neuses)>, as Halphen puts it, in trying to explaiii Charles' refusal to give his daughters in marriage and insistence upon having them ~ 4 t h him until his death, adicens se earum coiitubernio carere non posse» l. Historians are more concerned over Einhard's conspicuous silence on Charles' youth, claiming that nothing \vas kiiown of this period in his life. They undestand why he may not have wislied to divulgc the circumstances of Charles' birth ', but why should he have choseii to bypass his entire formative period? Was there cause for shame? No one has heen more vehement in his distrust o£ Einhard's assertioii than Calmette : «C'est un voile adroitement jeté ... pour dissin~iiler le vice initial sur lequel il serait malséant d'attirer l'attentioii. Quoi de plus expédient pour n'avoir rieii 3 en dire ou laisser entendre, que de reléguer dans l'ombre tout ce que précede la mort de Pépin ?u 3 . Soon after his death there began to circulate a series of Latiti avisionsn in which holy men were purported to have seen Charles tortured in Purgatoro for having committed a grievous sin. In Iiis 1. Cfr. I.ouis Halpheo. Charlcriuiglie el I'enrpire caroli?igie*i, Paris, Albin Micliel, 1949, p. 91. 2. It is alniost certain that Charles was born out of wedlock. Cfr. Jaseph Cal- mette, Chorlemagne. sa uic el ron oeuure, Paris, Albiu Illichel, 1945. pp. 42-43. 3. Ibid., p. 44. 314 BARTON SHOLOD poem o

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