The powerful emperor of the Franks, the great Karl, has been fighting the Moors for seven long years in beautiful Spain. He has won many of the Spanish castles from the wicked. His faithful army broke all the towers and conquered all the hail. Only the ruler of Saragossa, King Marsilius, the ungodly servant of Muhammad, does not want to recognize Karl’s dominance. But soon the proud prince Marsilus will fall and Zaragoza will bow head to the glorious emperor.
King Marcilius convokes his faithful Saracens and asks them for advice on how to escape the punishment of Charles, the ruler of beautiful France. The wisest of the Moors keep silence, and only one of them, the Wal-Fock castellan, did not become silent. Blankandrin advises deceit to achieve peace with Karl. Marsilius must send messengers with great gifts and with an oath of friendship, he promises to Karl in the name of his sovereignty fidelity. The ambassador will deliver the emperor seven hundred camels, four hundred mules loaded with Arabian gold and silver, so much so that Karl could reward his vassals with rich gifts and pay mercenaries. When Karl with great gifts goes on the return journey, let Marsilius swear to follow in a short time after Karl and on the day of St. Michael take Christianity in Aachen, the throne of Charles. Hostages will be sent to Karl children of the most famous Saracens, although it is clear that he is destined to die, when the perfidy of Marcilius is revealed. The French will go home, and only in the Aachen cathedral, powerful Karl on the great day of St. Michael will understand that he will deceive the Moors, but it will be too late to take revenge. Let the hostages die better, but the throne will not be lost by King Marsilius.
Marsilius agrees with the advice of Blankandrin and equips the envoys to Karl, promising them for their faithful service as a reward for the rich estates. The ambassadors take the branch of the olive in their hands as a sign of friendship with the king and set out on their journey.
Meanwhile, the mighty Karl celebrates in the fruitful garden a victory over Cordova. Around him sit vassals, play dice and chess.
Arriving at the camp of the Franks, the Moors see Karl on the golden throne, the King’s face is proud and beautiful, his beard is whiter than snow, and curls fall down on his shoulders with waves. Ambassadors welcome the emperor. They set out everything that Marsilius, the king of the Moors, told them to convey. Carl carefully watches the messengers and, wilting his brow, plunges into meditation.
The sun shines brightly over the camp of the Franks, when Karl calls his own associates. Carl wants to know what the barons think, can you believe the words of Marsilia, who promises to obey the Franks in everything. Barons, tired of long campaigns and heavy battles, wish a speedy return to their native land, where their beautiful wives are waiting. But no one can advise this to Carla, since each of them knows about the treachery of Marcilius. And all are silent. Only one, the king’s nephew, the young Count Roland, stepping out of the ranks of his associates, begins to persuade Karl not to believe the words of the deceitful king of the Moors. Roland reminds the king of the recent treachery of Marcilia, when he also promised to faithfully serve the Franks, and he broke his promise and betrayed Karl, killing his ambassadors, the glorious counts of Bazan and Basil. Roland begs his lord as soon as possible to go to the walls of the rebellious Saragossa and revenge Marsilia for the death of the glorious warriors. Karl wags his brow, there comes an ominous silence. Not all barons are satisfied with the proposal of the young Roland. Count Ganelon steps forward and addresses the audience. He convinces everyone that the army of Karl is already tired already, and so many have been won that one can proudly strive in the way back to the borders of beautiful France. There is no reason not to believe the Moors, they have no choice but to obey Karl. Another baron, Nemon of Bavaria, one of the King’s best vassals, advises Carl to listen to the speeches of Ganelon and heed the pleas of Marcilia. The Earl asserts that the Christian duty orders to forgive the infidels and turn them to God and there is no doubt that the Moors will arrive on St. Michael’s day in Aachen. Karl turns to the barons with a question, whom to send to Zaragoza with an answer. Count Roland is ready to go to the Moors, although his advice is rejected by the master. Charles refuses to let go of his beloved nephew, whom he owes many victories. Then Nemon Bavarian willingly offers to take the message, but his Carl does not want to let go. Many barons, in order to prove their loyalty, want to set out on their journey, only Count Ganelon is silent. Then Roland cries out to Karl’s advice: “Let Gannel go.” Count Ganelon looks up frightened and looks at the audience, but everyone nods their heads in agreement. The Mad Count threatens Roland with a long-standing hatred for him, as he is Roland’s stepfather. Roland, says Ganelon, has long wanted to destroy him and now, taking advantage of the opportunity, he sends to certain death. Ganelon pleads with Charles not to forget his wife and children, when the Moors are sure to deal with him. Ganelon laments that he will not see his native France any more. Karl is furious with the indecision of the Count and orders him to go immediately. The Emperor hands his glove to Ganelon as a sign of his ambassadorial authority, but he drops it to the ground. The French understand that only on their own sorrow they decided to send the insidious Ganelon with the embassy to the enemies, this error will bring them great grief, but no one can change the fate.
Count Ganelon goes into his tent and chooses fighting armor, going on the road. Not far from the camp of the Franks, Ganelon is catching up with the returning embassy of the infidels, whom the cunning Blankandrin detained from Karl as long as possible, so that on the way he could meet with the emperor’s emissary. Between Ganelon and Blankandrin a long conversation begins, from which the Moor learns of the enmity between Ganelon and the darling of Carl Roland. Blankandrin asked the Count in surprise, why all the Franks love Roland so much. Then Ganelon reveals to him the secret of Karl’s great victories in Spain: the fact is that the valiant Roland leads the troops of Charles to all the battles. Ganelon raises many falsehoods to Roland, and when the embassy’s path reaches the middle, the perfidious Ganelon and the cunning Blankandrin give each other an oath to destroy the mighty Roland.
The day passes, and Ganelon is already at the walls of Zaragoza, he is led to the king of the Moors, Marsil. Bowing to the king, Ganelon gives him the message of Charles. Carl agrees with the world to withdraw to his own limits, but on St. Michael’s day he is waiting for Marsilia in the Aachen’s palace, and if the Saracens disobey him, he will be taken to Aachen in chains and delivered there to a shameful death. Marsilius, not expecting such a sharp response, grabs a spear, wishing to defeat the Count, but Ganelon dodges a blow and steps aside. Then Blankandrin turns to Marsilia with a request to listen to the ambassador of the Franks. Ganelon again approaches the ruler of the infidels and continues his speech. He says that the king’s wrath is vain, Karl only wants that Marsilius accept the law of Christ, then he will give him half of Spain. But Carl will give the other half, the traitor continues, to his nephew, the arrogant Count Roland. Roland will be a bad neighbor to the Moors, he will seize neighboring lands and oppress Marilya in every possible way. All the woes of Spain from one Roland, and if Marsilius wants peace in his country, then he should not just obey Karl, but also by cunning or deceit to ruin his nephew, Roland. Marsilius is pleased with this plan, but he does not know how to deal with Roland, and asks Ganelon to come up with a remedy. If they manage to ruin Roland, Marsilius promises the Count for his faithful service the rich gifts and castles of beautiful Spain. and asks Ganelon to come up with a remedy. If they manage to ruin Roland, Marsilius promises the Count for his faithful service the rich gifts and castles of beautiful Spain. and asks Ganelon to come up with a remedy. If they... manage to ruin Roland, Marsilius promises the Count for his faithful service the rich gifts and castles of beautiful Spain.
The plan is already ready for Ganelon, he knows for sure that Karl will want to leave someone in Spain to ensure peace on the conquered land. Karl will certainly ask Roland to stay on guard, with him a very small detachment, and in the gorge Marsiliy will beat Roland, depriving Carl of the best vassal. This plan is to the liking of Marsilia, he calls Gvenelo in his quarters and orders to bring there expensive gifts, the best furs and jewelry that the new royal friend will take his wife to distant France. Soon Ganelona escorted on the way back, as if agreeing on the execution of the plan. Each noble Moor swears in friendship to the traitor-franc and sends with him to Karl as hostages of his children.
Count Ganelon at the dawn rides to the camp of the Franks and immediately passes to Karl. He brought a host of gifts to the ruler and led the hostages, but most importantly – Marcili gave the keys to Zaragoza. The francs rejoice, Karl ordered everyone to come together to say: “The end of the war is brutal, we are going home.” But Carl does not want to leave Spain without protection. Otherwise, he will not be able to reach France before the basurmans once again raise their heads, then everything that the Franks have achieved in seven long years of war will come to an end. Count Ganelon tells the emperor to leave Roland on guard in the gorge with a detachment of brave warriors, they will stand up for the honor of the Franks, if someone dares to go against the will of Charles. Roland, hearing that Ganelon advises Carl to choose him, rushes to the master and addresses him with a speech. He thanks the emperor for the assignment and says, that he is glad of this appointment and is not afraid, unlike Ganelon, to perish for France and Charles, even if the gentleman wants to put him alone on guard in the gorge. Karl wags his brow and, covering his face with his hands, suddenly begins to cry. He does not want to part with Roland, a bitter premonition gnaws at the emperor. But Roland is already collecting friends who will stay with him when Carl withdraws troops. With him will be valiant Gauthier, Odon, Jerin, Archbishop Turpin and glorious knight Olivier.
Carl leaves Spain with tears and gives his bow to Roland in good-bye. He knows that they are no longer destined to meet. The traitor Ganelon is guilty of the misfortunes that will befall the Franks and their emperor,
Roland, having gathered his army, descends into the gorge. He hears the thunder of drums and watches the people leaving for home. Time passes, Carl is already far away, Roland and Earl of Olivier climb the high hill and see hordes of Saracens. Olivier rebukes Ganelon in treachery and begs Roland to blow the horn. Karl can still hear the call and turn the troops. But the proud Roland does not want help and asks the soldiers fearlessly to go into battle and win:
“God keep you, the French!”
Once again Olivier ascends to the hill and sees already very close the Moors, the hordes of which all come. He again pleads with Roland to sound, so that Charles will hear their call and turn back. Roland again refuses shameful madness. Time passes, and for the third time Olivier, at the sight of troops, Marcilia kneels before Roland and asks not to ruin people, because they can not cope with hordes of Saracens. Roland does not want to hear anything, builds an army and with a cry “Monzhoy” rushes into battle. In a fierce battle, the French and the forces of the cunning Marsilia came together.
An hour passes, the French are cutting the infidels, only the screams and the ringing of weapons are heard over the deaf gorge. Count Olivier rushes through the field with a wreck of a spear, he hits the Mavra of Malzaron, followed by Turgis, Estogoth. Count Olivier has already amazed seven hundred infidels. The battle is hotter… Frightful blows blow Franks and Saracens, but the Franks do not have fresh strength, and the pressure of the enemies does not weaken.
Marsilius rushes from Zaragoza with a huge army, he yearns to meet with Charles’s nephew, Count Roland. Roland sees the approaching Marsilia and only now finally understands the vile betrayal of his stepfather.
Awful battle, Roland sees how the young francs die, and in repentance rushes to Olivier, he wants to blow the horn. But Olivier is only saying that it’s too late to help Karl, now the emperor does not help, is speeding to the cross. Roland blows… Roland’s mouth is covered with bloody foam, the veins on the temples open, and a long sound is heard.
Reaching the border of France, Carl hears Roland’s horn, he realizes that his forebodings were not in vain. The emperor unfolds troops and rushes to the aid of his nephew. Charles is closer and closer to the place of the bloody battle, but no longer finds him alive.
Roland looks at mountains and plains… Death and blood everywhere, everywhere the French lie, the knight falls to the ground in bitter sobs.
Time passes, Roland returns to the battlefield, he beats the spur, cuts through Falrodron, many noble Moors, Roland’s revenge for the death of the warriors and the betrayal of Ganelon are terrible. On the battlefield, he encounters Marsilius, the king of the whole of Saragossa, and cut off his hand, the prince and the son of Marcilius, with a sword of damask, threw him off the horse and stabbed him with a spear. Marsilius flees in fright, but this will not help him: Karl’s forces are too close.
It was dusk. One caliph on a horse flies to Olivier and strikes him in the back with a bullet spear. Roland looks at Count Olivier and realizes that a friend is killed. He looks for the archbishop’s eyes, but no one is around, the army is broken, the day has come to an end, bringing the death of the valiant francs.
There is Roland alone on the battlefield, he feels that the forces have left him, his face covered in blood, his beautiful eyes are darkened, he does not see anything. The hero falls on the grass, closes his eyes, and the last time he sees the image of France is beautiful. Time passes, and to him in the darkness the Moor of Spain crept up and dishonored him. A mighty knight is killed, and no one will ever raise the beautiful Durandal, no one will replace the Franks with an incomparable warrior. Roland lies facing his enemies under the canopy of fir trees. Here at dawn finds his army of Charles. The Emperor falls to his knees in front of the nephew’s body with sobbing and promises to avenge him.
Rushing troops rather in a way to catch up with the Moors and give the last fight foul.
The wounded Marsilia is saved from the wrath of the emperor in the capital, in Zaragoza. He hears the victorious cry of the French who entered the city. Marsilius asks for help from his neighbors, but everyone turned away from him in fright, Baligant alone is ready to help. His troops met with the troops of Charles, but quickly the Franks broke them, leaving the Saracens to lie on the battlefield. Karl returns to his homeland to piously bury the bodies of heroes and carry out a fair trial of traitors.
The whole of France mourns the great warriors, there is no more glorious Roland, and without him there is no happiness with the Franks. Everyone demands the execution of the traitor Ganelon and all his relatives. But Carl does not want to execute the vassal, without giving him a word of justification. The day of the great judgment came, Karl calls for a traitor. Then one of the glorious Franks, Tiiedri, asks Charles to arrange a duel between him and a relative of Ganelon, Pinabel. If Tiiedri wins, Ganelon is executed, if not, he will live.
Converged on the battlefield, Teideux the mighty and Pinabelle invincible, swords raised, rushed to battle. The heroes are fighting for a long time, but neither is given victory. The fate ordered that, when the wounded Tihedri had lifted his sword above Pinabel’s head for the last time, he, struck, fell to the ground dead and no longer woke up. The court of the emperor is complete, the warriors of Ganelon are tied to the horses by the hands and by the feet and drive them to the water. The traitor Ganelon experienced terrible torments. But what kind of death will redeem the death of the beautiful Roland… Bitterly Carl mourns his beloved vassal.