This article was translated by John R. Bopp
Our regular readers will know that every so often, we like to go through the stories told about the Basques in different encyclopedias. Today, August 15, we’re going to find out what Wikipedia, the most referenced encyclopedia, and Encyclopedia Britannica, the most renowned and esteemed (and open for registered users) have to say about a historical event that took place on this day centuries ago, and which marked an era: The Battle of Roncevaux Pass.
This battle between Charlemagne and the Vascones was fought over the Holy Roman Emperor’s betrayal at attacking Pamplona, which received him with open arms, and ended in his defeat. The French turned this defeat into a heroic song, the Song of Roland, which changed the events and transformed the Basques’ revenge into an ambush by Saracens.
It’s a good thing we Basques also have our own writers and bards, who can tell the story of what really happened. That’s why, in addition to the references from the encyclopedias, we’re also leaving you with two songs by Benito Lertxundi about this topic. Both are based on the works of historian, writer, and Basque-Navarrese patriot Arturo Campión (lyrics from Musikazblai)
Wikipedia – English
Battle of Roncevaux Pass (778)
The Battle of Roncevaux Pass (French and English spelling, Roncesvalles in Spanish, Orreaga in Basque) was a battle in 778 in which Roland, prefect of the Breton March and commander of the rear guard of Charlemagne’s army, was defeated by the Basques. It was fought at Roncevaux Pass, a high mountain pass in the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain. Over the years, the battle was romanticized by oral tradition into a major conflict between Christians and Muslims, when in fact both sides in the battle were Christian. The legend is recounted in 11th century The Song of Roland, which is the oldest surviving major work of French literature, and in Orlando Furioso, which is one of the most celebrated works of Italian literature.
Encyclopedia Britannica – Great Britain
Roncesvalles, French Roncevaux, also called Orreaga, village, Navarra provincia (province) and comunidad autónoma (autonomous community) of northern Spain. It lies 3,220 feet (981 metres) above sea level, in the Pyrenees,
Itzaltzuko bardoa – Benito Lertxundi
The story of Basque bard Gartxot, immortalized by Arturo Campión in his work El Bardo de Itzaltzu, which was the source of Benito Lertxundi’s song. The video is from a cartoon film titled Gartxot.
|Itzaltzuko bardoa||The Bard of Itzaltzu|
Hundreds of doves in the skies of Elkorreta
Interactive Whiteboards by PolyVision
Orreaga, Altabizkarko Kantua
The story of the Battle of Roncevaux. You can find more information about it on the Auñamendi Encyclopedia (in Spanish)
|Altabizkarko kantua||The Song of Altabizkar|
Oihu bat aditua izan da
A scream has been heard