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: On 15th August 778, Charlemagne and his armies were crossing the Pyrenees back into France, after a successful campaign in which they had taken Saragossa and Pamplona. His rearguard, one of whose commanders was Roland, duke of the Marches of Brittany, was surprised by a party of Basques, and annihilated. The chronicles of the time duly noted the event. From this almost invisible piece of historical grit there grew one of the pearls of medieval literature, "The Song of Roland". The story of Roland disappears from history in the 9th century to reappear as an epic poem 200 years later, transformed into a full-length tale of high courage, loyalty and treachery. Charlemagne becomes an awesome, god-like figure, while Roland acquires a boon companion, Oliver, who is almost his equal in prowess. The attack on Roland and his companions is no longer a local ambush, but the result of a deep-laid conspiracy between a Saracen king in Spain and one of Charlemagne's lords, Roland's stepfather Count Ganelon. The plot has become a classic tale of jealousy and intrigue, and the poet tells it in masterly fashion; he is equally skilled at setting a scene, conveying the mood and character of his actors, or evoking the drama of the battle. The present translation by D.D.R. Owen is recognized as one of the best modern English versions of the poem: it has been revised for this new illustrated edition, which uses the vivid images of a late medieval manuscript of the legend. The introduction sets the poem in its context and shows how this work has profoundly influenced not only later literature, but even our view of history and notably of the Norman Conquest.