The Song of Roland

Look through The Song of Roland up until stanza 31 to find examples of Saracens (Muslims) represented as evil deceitful and demonic. Do you think this Christian misrepresentation of the Saracens in northeastern Spain was the usual way to write about strangers or foreigners at a time in history and in that place? What do you think motivated such hostility between crusading Christian Frank and Muslims?



The Song of Roland is a poem that describes a battle between the Muslim army and the Frankish army, who are the Christians. Charlemagne has managed to conquer most of the cities but has not managed to conquer the City of Saragossa, that is occupied by Saracens, who are the Muslims headed by King Marsilla. Through the leadership of Frank, the French forces have managed to conquer almost the whole of Spain, making King Marsilion. The song presents the antagonism between Christianity and the Muslims where they are presented as evil, deceitful and demonic.

The song represents Muslims as individuals who do not love God. Because the Muslims hold different religious beliefs from the Christians, the song concludes merely this as not loving God. This religious discrimination is manifested in the first Stanza of the song; except Saragossa, high on a mountain/ King Marsilio holds it, who does not love God

The Muslims are presented as idol worshipers. The songs state that King Marsilion prays to the Apolin. Apollin is one of the Greek God of beauty,  light, death, and music. This is a misrepresentation as the Muslims do not pray to the Apollo but pray to Allah. The statement that ‘ who serves Muhumet and prays Apolline’  ( Page 224, line 3), also implies that Muslims are not only idol worshipers but also believe in many gods. This, in reality, is not true as they only serve one god, Allah.

Muslims are also presented as evil and deceitful and manipulative people, who utilize deceit for their gains. After King Marsilion realizes the intention of King Charles and his powerful French forces and considering that his army is not strong enough to take their opponents, he decides to seek counsel who advises him to deceive king Charles by promising to send him tokens of gifts for loyal services and friendship. Including bears, hundreds of camels and thousands of molted hawks, to lure him to Spain and return to France. Besides, he promises that he would follow him during Michaelmas, and get converted to Christian, be his man and serve him with honor. “Say you will take his faith, become a Christian/and be his man with honor, with all you have,” (224, line 20).

The Christian misrepresentation  of the Saracens in northeastern Spain was the usual way to write about strangers or foreigners at a time in history and in that place because the Christians were the ones who had intruded into the Saracens land hence their misrepresentation as deceitful and  evil people is not only immoral but also unfair as this is too biased.

The main source of hostility between Franc and the Muslims is his charismatic leadership that has to lend into the defeat of most of the cities in Spain. Frank is a brave, devoted and audacious leader who is highly strategic in terms of war tactics. The Muslims fear that due to his bravery and strong leadership that he provides to the army, they can never defeat King Charles, and the Frank is also devoted to the mission of conquering the  Muslims than any other leader, escalating the hostility