Yes, it’s round two of this Christmas-time tradition of examining the folklore surrounding Charlemagne and his Paladins (Knights). For the first installment click HERE
And remember, this is the folklore, not the historical facts about Charlemagne and his empire.
ARCHBISHOP TURPIN OF RHEIMS – This Paladin was the legendary “Battling Bishop” who fought alongside Charlemagne and his other men in the field.
Turpin would take part in the battles, then clean up, don his robes and conduct masses of thanks to God for delivering another victory. Sort of a more badass version of Friar Tuck from Robin Hood legends.
OGIER THE DANE – Though he would go on to serve as one of Charlemagne’s most storied Paladins, Ogier was born to Geoffrey, the first Christian King of Denmark. Shortly before the child was to be baptized, six beautiful fairy maidens appeared and took turns holding the infant in their arms before kissing him and passing him on to the next maiden in line.
The first Fey gifted Ogier with bravery, the second with ample opportunities to serve in war, the third granted that he would never be vanquished in battle, the fourth gave him the gift of being pleasing for women to look upon and the fifth granted him the capacity to return the love he would inspire.
The sixth and youngest maiden was Morgana le Fey, who has a much different history in the legends of Charlemagne than in Arthurian lore. Morgana told the baby Ogier that she claimed him for her own (“imprinted” on him, you Twilight fans might say). She decreed that he would never die until he had come to visit her on the Isle of Avalon.
When Ogier was in his early teens emissaries from Charlemagne arrived in Denmark to demand a pledge of loyalty to Charlemagne as all the other Christian kingdoms had done. Geoffrey refused and so Charlemagne launched a military campaign which soon saw Geoffrey defeated and humbled.
To ensure Geoffrey’s continued loyalty his son Ogier was taken to live in Charlemagne’s court at first as a hostage, but soon the young man charmed Charlemagne and his nephew Roland. Ogier served alongside Roland as a Squire and eventually as a full Paladin.
ROLAND (Orlando to the Italians) – The most famous of Charlemagne’s Paladins. Roland’s mother was Charlemagne’s sister Bertha. When Bertha married the Paladin Milon without first securing Charlemagne’s permission he exiled the couple.
The wanderings of the now-penniless couple took them to Sutri, in Italy. Milon and Bertha lived in a cave and it was in that cave that Roland was born. After a few years Milon was slain serving in a foreign army, so Bertha and young Roland earned a living as beggars.
At length, when Charlemagne and his court were on their way to Rome for the great man to be crowned Emperor by the Pope himself, they paused at Sutri. The governor of the province held a great feast for the illustrious visitors.
Christmas Day was approaching and the cold made Roland and his mother even more uncomfortable than ever. The boy heard of the great feast being held and – all unaware that Charlemagne was his uncle – he slipped into the banquet hall to steal some food for himself and his mother. When challenged Roland angrily said he was taking the food to his mother and made his escape.
Charlemagne had had a dream recently about his exiled sister Bertha and sent some Paladins with a white horse to follow Roland at a distance. They did so, found the cave and reunited Bertha with her brother Charlemagne, who welcomed her back and promised to raise Roland like a son.
Roland grew to be a page, then a squire and finally a Paladin. He used red and white as his colors because the rags he was wearing the day he stole food for his mother were those colors.
MORE ON THE ADULT ROLAND’S ADVENTURES NEXT TIME, PLUS MORE PALADIN TALES.
FOR MORE MYTHOLOGY AND FOLKLORE CLICK HERE