A close look at Charlemagne’s Spanish campaigns may make us revise our vision of the Reconquista. This post from an excellent blog primarily about art, architecture, and Santiago de Compostela is well worth a read!
“All of these historical documents point strongly to the notion that Charlemagne’s Spanish expedition was not a minor affair but had all the hallmarks of a Crusade before the term was invented. Roncevaux was the location of not just the famous battle of 778 but a series of subsequent defeat which were suffered there by Charlemagne’s successors in the century to come.”
According to the chronicler William of Malmesbury, as the Norman knights prepared to do battle at Hastings in 1066, a poet declaimed an epic tale of the death of the Frankish hero Roland at the battle of Roncevaux.
At about the same time, monks of the Spanish monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla in Navarre wrote down a record of the same event as though it were a historical event.
At that time, San Millán, was an important stop on the pilgrimage road to Santiago de Compostela.
The historic account of the battle of Roncevaux which has tended to prevail derives from the mention in Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne which was composed some time between 817 and 836. In Book Two of Einhard’s biography entitled “The Wars and Political Affairs of Charlemagne” which is a summary catalogue of Carolingian foreign affairs during the emperor’s reign, there is an entry…
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