ROLAND [ROLAND DE LA PLATIERE], JEAN MARIE (1734- 1793), French statesman, was born at Thizy on the 18th of February 1734. He received a good education, and early formed the studious habits which remained with him through life. Proposing to -seek his fortune abroad, he went on foot to Nantes, but was there prostrated by an illness so severe that all thoughts of emigration were perforce abandoned. For some years he was employed as a clerk; thereafter he joined a relative who was inspector of manufactures at Amiens, and he himself speedily rose to the position of inspector. To these two employments may be ascribed those qualities of assiduity and accuracy, and that familiarity with the commerce of the country, which distinguished his public career. In 1781 he married Manon Jeanne Phlipon (1754-1793), and the name of MADAME ROLAND is famous in history. She was the daughter of Gratien Phlipon, a Paris engraver, who was ambitious, speculative and nearly always poor. From her early years she showed great aptitude for study, an ardent and enthusiastic spirit, and unquestionable talent. She was to a considerable extent selftaught; and her love of reading made her acquainted first with Plutarch a passion for which author she continued to cherish throughout her life thereafter with Bossuet, Massillon, and authors of a like stamp, and finally with Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau. These studies marked stages of her development, and as her mind matured she abandoned the idea of a convent which for a year or two she had entertained, and added to the enthusiasm for a republic which she had imbibed from her earlier studies not a little of the cynicism and the daring which the later authors inspired. She almost equalled her husband in knowledge, and infinitely excelled him in talent and in tact. Through and with him she exercised a singularly powerful influence over the destinies of France from the outbreak of the Revolution till her death.
For four years after their marriage Roland lived at Amiens, he being still an inspector of manufactures; but his knowledge of commercial affairs enabled him to contribute articles to the Encyclopedic Nouvelle, in which, as in all his literary work, he was assisted by his wife. On their removal to Lyons the influence of both became wider and more powerful. Their fervent political aspirations could not be concealed, and from the beginning of the Revolution they threw in their lot with the party of advance. The Courrier de Lyon contained articles the success of which reached even to the capital and attracted the attention of the Parisian press. They were from the pen of Madame Roland and were signed by her husband. A correspondence sprang up with Brissot and other friends of the Revolution at headquarters. In Lyons their views were publicly known; Roland was elected a member of the municipality, and when the depression of trade in the south demanded representation in Paris he was deputed by the council of Lyons to ask the Constituent Assembly that the municipal debt of Lyons, which had been contracted for the benefit of the state, should be regarded as national debt. Accompanied by his wife, he appeared in the capital in February 1791. He remained there until September, frequenting the Society of the Friends of the Constitution, and entertaining deputies of the most advanced opinions, especially those who later became the leading Girondists. Madame Roland took an active part in the political discussions in these reunions.
In September 1791, Roland's mission being executed, they returned to Lyons. Meanwhile the inspectorships of manufactures had been abolished; he was thus free; and they could no longer remain absent from the centre of affairs. In December they again reached Paris. Roland became a member of the Jacobin Club. They had made many and influential friends in advance, and Madame Roland's salon soon became the rendezvous of Brissot, Petion, Robespierre and other leaders of the popular movement, above all of Buzot, whom she loved with platonic enthusiasm. In person Madame Roland was attractive though not beautiful; her ideas were clear and far-reaching, her manner calm, and her power of observation extremely acute. It was almost inevitable that she should find herself in the centre of political aspirations and presiding over a company of the most talented men of progress. The rupture had not yet been made evident between the Girondist party and that section still more extreme, that of the Mountain. For a time the whole left united in forcing the resignation of the ministers. When the crisis came the Girondists were ready, and on the 23rd of March 1792 Roland found himself appointed minister of the interior. As a minister of the crown Roland exhibited a bourgeois brusqueness of manner and a remarkable combination of political prejudice with administrative ability. While his wife's influence could not increase the latter, it was successfully exerted to foment and embitter the former. He was ex officio excluded from the Legislative Assembly, and his declarations of policy were thus in writing that is, in the form in which she could most readily exert her power. A great occasion was invented. The decrees against the emigrants and the non-juring clergy still remained under the veto of the king. A letter was penned by Madame Roland and addressed by her husband to Louis. It remained unanswered. Thereupon, in full council and in the king's presence, Roland read his letter aloud. It contained many and terrible truths as to the royal refusal to sanction the decrees and as to the king's position in the state; but it was inconsistent with a minister's position, disrespectful if not insolent in tone. Roland's dismissal followed. Then he completed the plan: he read the letter to the Assembly; it was ordered to be printed, became the manifesto of disaffection, and was circulated everywhere. In the demand for the reinstatement of the dismissed ministers were found the means of humiliation, and the prelude to the dethronement, of the king.
After the insurrection of the loth of August, Roland was recalled to power, one of his colleagues being Danton. But now he was dismayed by the progress of the Revolution. He was above all a provincial, and was soon in opposition to the party of the Mountain, which aimed at supremacy not only in Paris but in the government as well. His hostility to the insurrectional commune of Paris, which led him to propose transferring the government to Blois, 'and his attacks upon Robespierre and his friends rendered him very unpopular. His neglect to seal the iron chest discovered in the Tuileries, which contained the proofs of Louis XVI.'s relations with the enemies of France, led to the accusation that he had destroyed a part of these documents. Finally, in the trial of the king he demanded, with the Girondists, that the sentence should be pronounced by a vote of the whole people, and not simply by the Convention. He resigned office on the 23rd of January 1793, two days after the king's execution.
Although now extremely unpopular, the Rolands remained in Paris, suffering abuse and calumny, especially from Marat. Once Madame Roland appeared personally in the Assembly to repel the falsehoods of an accuser, and her ease and dignity evoked enthusiasm and compelled acquittal. But violence succeeded violence, and early on the morning of the 1st of June she was arrested and thrown into the prison of the Abbaye. Roland himself escaped secretly to shelter in Rouen. Released for an hour from the Abbaye, she was again arrested and thrown among the horrors of Sainte-Pelagie. Finally, she was transferred to the Conciergerie. In prison she won the affections of the guards, and was allowed the privilege of writing materials and the occasional visits of devoted friends. She there wrote her A ppel & I'impartiale posliritS, those memoirs which display a strange alternation between self-laudation and patriotism, between the trivial and the sublime. On the 8th of November 1793 she was conveyed to the guillotine. Before yielding her head to the block, she bowed before the clay statue of Liberty erected in the Place de la Revolution, uttering her famous apostrophe "O Liberty! what crimes are committed in thy name! " When Roland heard of his wife's condemnation, he wandered some miles from his refuge in Rouen; maddened by despair and grief, he wrote a few words expressive of his horror at those massacres which could only be inspired by the enemies of France, protesting that " from the moment when I learned that they had murdered my wife I would no longer remain in a world stained with enemies." He affixed the paper to his breast, and unsheathing a sword-stick fell upon the weapon, which pierced his heart, on the loth of November 1793.
Madame Roland's Mtmoires, first printed in 1820, have been edited among others by P. Faug^re (Paris, 1864), by C. A. Dauban (Paris, 1864), by T. Claretie (Paris, 1884), and by C. Perroud (Paris, 1905). Some of her Lettres intdites have been published by C. A. Dauban (Paris, 1867), and a critical edition of her Lettres by C. Perroud (Paris, 1900-2). See also C. A. Dauban, tude sur Madame Roland et son temps (Paris, 1864); V. Lamy, Deux femmes celebres, Madame Roland et Charlotte Corday (Paris, 1884); C. Bader, Madame Roland, d'apres des letlres et des manuscrits inedits (Paris, 1892); A. J. Lambert, Le mariage de Madame Roland, trots annees de correspondance amoureuse (Paris, 1896); Austin Dobson, Four Frenchwomen (London, 1890); and articles by C. Perroud in the review La Revolution fran faise (1896-99). t ROLAND, LEGEND OF. The legend of the French epic hero Roland (transferred to Italian romance as Orlando) is based on authentic history. Charlemagne invaded Spain in 778, and had captured Pampeluna, but failed before Saragossa, when the news of a Saxon revolt recalled him to the banks of the Rhine. On his retreat to France through the denies of the Pyrenees, part of his army was cut off from the main body by the Basques, who had ambushed in a narrow defile, and now drove the rearguard into a valley where it was surrounded and entirely destroyed. The Basques, after plundering the baggage, made good their escape, favoured by the darkness and by their knowledge of the ground. The incident is related in the Annales (Pertz i. 159) commonly ascribed to Einhard, and with more detail in Einhard's Vita Karoli (cap. ix.; Pertz ii. 448), where the names of the leaders are given. " In this battle were slain Eggihard, praepositus of the royal table; Anselm, count of the palace; and Hruodland, praefect of the Breton march. . . ." The scene of the disaster is fixed by tradition at Roncevaux, on the road from Pampeluna to Saint Jean Pied de Port. There is no foundation in this story for the fiction of the twelve peers, which may possibly arise from a still earlier tradition. In 636-37, according to the Chronicles of Fredegarius (ed. Krusch p. 159), twelve chiefs, whose names are given, were sent by Dagobert against the Basques. The expedition was successful, but in an engagement fought in the valley of Subola, or Robola, identified with Mauleon, which is not far from Roncevaux, the Duke Harembert, with other Prankish chiefs, was slain. Later fights in the same neighbourhood and under similar circumstances are related in 813 (Vita Hludowici; Pertz ii. 616), and especially in 824 (Einhard's Annales; Pertz i. 213). These incidents no doubt served to strengthen the tradition of the disaster to Charlemagne's rear-guard in 778, the importance of which was perhaps underrated by the Frankish historians and was certainly magnified in popular story. The author of the Vita Hludowici, writing sixty years after the battle of Roncevaux, thought it superfluous to give the names of the fallen chiefs, as being matter of common report.
Growth of the Legend. The choice of Roland or Hruodland as the hero of the story probably points to the borders of French Brittany as the home of the legend. The exaggeration of a rear-guard action into a national defeat; the substitution of a vast army of Saracens, the enemies of the Frankish nation and the Christian faith, for the border tribe mentioned by Einhard; 1 and the vengeance inflicted by Charlemagne, where in fact the enemy escaped with complete impunity all are in keeping with the general laws of romance. Charlemagne himself appears as the ancient epic monarch, not as the young man he really was in 778. The earliest version of the legend which we possess dates no earlier than the 11th century, but there is abundant evidence of the existence of a continuous tradition dating from the original event, although its methods of transmission remain a vexed question. Roncevaux lay on the route to Compostella, and the many pilgrims who must have passed the site from the middle of the 9th century onwards may have helped to spread the story. Whether the actual cantilena Rottandi chanted by Taillefer at the battle of Hastings (William of Malmesbury, De gestis regum angl. iii. 242, and Wace, Brut. ii. 1 1, 8035 seq.) was any part of the existing Chanson de Roland cannot be stated, but the choice of the legend on this occasion by the trouvere is proof of its popularity.
The oldest extant forms of the legend are: (a) chapters xix.-xxx. of the Latin chronicle, known as the Pseudo-Turpin, 1 It is noteworthy, however, that an Arab historian, Ibn-al-Athir, states that Charles's assailants were the Arabs of Saragossa, by whom he had been originally invited to interfere in Spain.
which purports to be the work of Turpin, archbishop of Reims, who died about 800, but probably dates from the 12th century; (b) Carmen de proditione Guenonis, a poem in Latin distichs; and (c) the Chanson de Roland, a French chanson de geste of about 4000 lines, the oldest recension of which is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (MS. Digby 23). It is in assonanced tirades, of unequal length, many of them terminated with the refrain Aoi. This MS. was written by an Anglo-Norman scribe about the end of the 12th century, and is a corrupt copy of a text by a French trouvere of the middle of the 11th century. It concludes with the words: " Ci fait la geste, que Turoldus declinet." There was a Turold (d. 1098) who was abbot of Peterborough; another was tutor to William the Conqueror and died in 1035. Even if we could identify this personage, we cannot tell whether he was the poet, the minstrel or the scribe of the MS., but it seems likely that he was merely the scribe. The poem, which was first printed by Francisque Michel (Oxford, 1837), is the finest monument of the heroic age of French epic. In its fundamental features it evidently dates back to the reign of Charlemagne, who is not represented as the capricious despot of the later chansons de geste, but as governing in accordance with Frankish custom, accepting the counsel of his barons, and carrying out the curious procedure of Frankish law. Roland represents the monarchical idea, and was evidently, in its primitive form, written before the feudal revolts which weakened the power of Charlemagne's successors. Its unity of conception, the severity and conciseness of the language, the directness, vividness and sobriety of the narrative, place it far above the chansons of later trouveres, with their wordiness and their loose, episodic construction. With the exception of the small place allotted to Aide, women have practically no place in the story, and the romantic element is thus absent. Roland's master-passions are daring and an exaggerated conception of honour, the extravagance of which is the cause of the disaster. His address to Oliver before the battle is typical of the warlike spirit of the poem:
" Notre empereur qui ses Francs nous laissa, Tels vingt mille hommes a pour nous mis a part, Qu'il sait tres bien que pas un n'est couard. Pour son seigneur grands maux on souffrira, Terribles froids, grands chauds endurera, Et de son sang, de sa chair on perdra! Brandis ta lance; et moi, ma Durendal, Ma bonne epee, que le Roi me donna. Et si je meurs, peut dire qui 1'aura C'etait 1'epee d'un tres noble vassal."
(tr. Petit de Julleville xi. 1114 seq.)
The Story as related in the Chanson de Roland. Charlemagne, after fighting for seven years in Spain, had conquered the whole country with the exception of Saragossa, the seat of the Saracen king Marsile. He was encamped before Cordova when he received envoys from the Saracen king, sent to procure the evacuation of Spain by the Franks through false offers of submission. Charlemagne held a council of his barons, Naimes of Bavaria, Roland, Oliver, Turpin, Ogier, Ganelon and the rest. Roland, the emperor's nephew, was eager for war; the peace party was headed by Ganelon of Mayence. 2 The Franks were weary of campaigning, and Ganelon's counsels won the day. At the suggestion of Roland, Ganelon, who was his stepfather, was entrusted with the embassy to Marsile a sufficiently perilous errand, since two former envoys had been beheaded by the Saracens. Ganelon, inspired by hatred of Roland and Oliver, agreed with Marsile to betray Roland and his comrades for ten mule-loads of gold. He then returned to Charlemagne bearing Marsile's supposed assent to the Frankish terms. The retreat began. Roland, at Ganelon's instigation, was placed in commartd of the rear-guard. With him were the rest of the famous twelve peers, 3 his companions-in-arms, Oliver, Gerin, Gerier, Oton, Berengier, Samson, Anseis, Girard 2 Ganelon may perhaps be identified with Wenilo, archbishop of Sens, whose treason against Charles the Bald is related in the Annales Bertiniani (anno 859).
3 The lists vary in different texts.
de Roussillon, Engelier the Gascon, Ivon and Ivoire, and the flower of the Prankish army. They had nearly reached the summit of the pass when Oliver, who had mounted a high rock, saw the advancing army of the Saracens, 400,000 strong. In vain Oliver begged Roland to sound his horn and summon Charlemagne to his aid. A description of the battle, a series of single combats, follows. Oliver, with his sword Hautecldre, rivalled Roland with Durendal. After the first fight, a second division of the pagan army appears, then a third. Roland's army was reduced to sixty men before he consented to sound his horn. Presently all were slain but Roland and Oliver, Turpin and another. Finally, when the Saracens, warned of the return of Charlemagne, had retreated, Roland alone survived on the field of battle. With a last effort he blew his horn once more, and heard before he died the sound of Charlemagne's battlecry of " Montjoie." Charlemagne pursued the enemy, and destroyed their army. The raising of a second army by Baligant, the emir of Babylon, and its defeat by the emperor, who slays Baligant in single combat, is obviously an interpolation in the original narrative. The trouvere then relates the return of the Franks, the burial of the heroes of Roncevaux, and, at great length, the trial of Ganelon at Aix, his execution, and that of his thirty kinsmen, and the death of Aide, Roland's betrothed and Oliver's sister, when she heard the news of Roland's death. The trial of Ganelon is one of the most curious parts of the story, providing, as it does, a full account of the Prankish criminal procedure.
Relations between the Earlier Forms of the Legend. The PseudoTurpin represents a different recension of the story, and is throughout clerical in tone. It was the trouvere of the Chanson de Roland who developed the characters into epic types; he invented the heroic friendship of Roland and Oliver, the motives of Ganelon's treachery, and many other details. The famous fight between Roland and the giant Ferragus appears in the Pseudo-Turpin (chapter xviii.), but not in the poem. The Chanson de Roland presupposes the existence of a whole cycle of epic poetry, probably in episodic form; it contains allusions to many events outside the narrative, some of which can be explained from other existing chansons, while others refer to narratives which are lost. In lines 590-603 of the poem Roland gives a list of the countries he has conquered for Charles, from Constantinople and Hungary on the east to Scotland on the west. Of most of these exploits no trace remains in extant poems, but his capture of Bordeaux, of Nobles, of Carcassonne, occur in various compilations. Roland was variously represented by the romancers as the son of Charlemagne's sister Gilles or Berte and the knight Milon d'Anglers. The romantic episode of the reconciliation of the pair with Charlemagne through Roland's childish prattle (Berte et Milon) is probably foreign to the original legend. In the Scandinavian versions Roland is the son of Charlemagne and his sister, a recital probably borrowed from mythology. His enfances, or youthful exploits, were, according to Aspremonl, performed in Italy against the giant Eaumont, but in Girais de Viane his first taste of battle is under the walls of Vienne, where Oliver, at first his adversary, becomes his brother-in-arms.
Other Versions. Most closely allied to the Oxford Roland are (a) a version in Italianized French preserved in a 13th or 14th century MS. in the library of St Mark, Venice (MS. Fr. iv.) ; (6) the Ruolantes Liet (ed. W. Grimm, Gottingen, 1838) of the Swabian priest Konrad (fl. 1130), who gave, however, a pious tone to the whole; 1 (c) the 8th branch of the Karlamagnus-saga (ed. C. Unger, Christiania, 1860), and the Danish version of that compilation.
In the 12th century the Chanson de Roland was modernized by replacing the assonance by rhyme, and by amplifications and 1 A proof of the popularity of the legend in Germany is supplied by the so-called Roland statues, of which perhaps the most famous example is that of Bremen. Mention of a statua Rolandi is made in a privilegium granted by Henry V. to the town of Bremen in I in. The Rolands-saule were probably symbolic of the judicial rights possessed by the towns where they are found, and it has been suggested that the word arises from false etymology with Rothland-sdule, red-land-pillar, the symbol of the possession of the power of life and death.
additions. Several MSS. of this rhymed recension, sometimes known as Roncevaux, are preserved. In the prose compilations of Calien and in David Aubert's Conqutles de Charlemagne (1458) the story kept its popularity for many centuries. In England the story was understood in the original French, and the English romances of Charlemagne (q.v.) are mostly derived from late and inferior sources. In Spain the legend underwent a curious transformation. Spanish patriotism created a Spanish ally of Marsile, Bernard del Carpio, to be the rival and victor of Roland. It was in Italy that the Roland legend had its greatest fortune : Charlemagne and Roland appear in the Paradise (canto xviii.) of Dante; the statues of Roland and Oliver appear on the doorway of the cathedral of Verona; and the French chansons de geste regularly appeared in a corrupt Italianized French. The Roland legend passed through a succession of revisions, and, as the Spagna, forming the 8th book of the great compilation of Carolingian romance, the Reali di Francia, kept its popularity down to the Renaissance. The story of Roland (Orlando) in a greatly modified form is the subject of the poems of Luigi Pulci (Morgante Maggiore, 1481), of Matteo Boiardo (Orlando innamorato, 1486), of Ariosto (Orlando furioso, 1516), and of Francesco Berni (Orlando, 1541).
AUTHORITIES. For a complete bibliography of the editions of the various MSS. of the Chanson de Roland, of the foreign versions, and of the enormous literature of the subject, see Leon Gauticr, Les Epopees franfaises (2nd ed., vol. iii., 1880), and the same author's Bibliographic des chansons de geste (1897). Among critical editions of the Chanson are those by Wendelin Foerster in the Altfrans. Bibliotek, vols. yi. and vii. (Heilbronn, 1883-86), and by E. Stengel, Das altfranzosische Rolandslied (Leipzig, 1900, etc.). The most popular edition is La Chanson de Roland (Tours, 1872. and numerous subsequent editions), by Lon Gautier, with text, translation, introduction, notes, variants and glossary. L. Petit de Julleville published in 1878 an edition with the old French text, and a ittodern French translation in assonanced verse. There are various other translations in French ; in English prose by I. Butler (Boston, Mass., 1904) ; and a partial English verse translation by A. Way and F. Spencer (London, 1895). Consult further G. Paris, Hist. poet, de Charlemagne (reprint, 1905), and De Pseudo Turpino (Paris, 1865); P. Rajna, Le Origini dell' epopea francese (Florence, 1884) and Le Fonti dell' Orlando Furioso (2nd ed., Florence, 1900); F. Picco, Rolando nella storia e nella poesia (Turin, 1901); G. Paris, " Roncevaux," in Legendes du moyen age (1903), on the topography of the battlefield.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)