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 · THE HISTORY
 · 8TH CENTURY




Charlemagne cries the death of the knight Roland in the battle (19th century).
The 8th century was characterised in Pamplona by a continuous conflict between Moslems, more or less linked with important families from this territory, and the French kingdom, with deeply Christian features, related to other Christian groups inside the peninsula. In this context, during the summer of the year 778, the Charlemagne's great campaign took place. Though his aim was the conquest of Zaragoza, it affected the territory of Pamplona, because on his way to Zaragoza, Charlemagne destroyed Pamplona's walls just to guarantee himself, that if something went wrong in Zaragoza, he could come back.

In his defeated return from Zaragoza and before he began the ascent of the Pyrenees, in the area of Luzaide - Valcarlos, the French army rearguard, lead by Roldán, his most beloved knight, and the rest of the twelve knights, were defeated by some unknown troops. The legend tells that in that place he sounded his ivory horn just to advice the rest of the army, and when he and the twelve knights were injured, threw his glorious sword "Durandal" to the water, to avoid it being taken by the enemy.

The exactly location of this battle is another question that has not been answered. The tradition has wanted for the song "The Chanson de Roland" to keep up the image of Roland as a knight playing his horn, until his death, at the Ibañeta vertex and Charlemagne shattered by the heartrending image of his army lying there.

It is also a question who the winners were. Historians have three hypothesis. The first says, that a group of Basques and Moslems; the second, a combination of Basques from both Pyrenean hillsides; and the third, some High Pyrenean Basques dissatisfied with the strengthening of the French regime in Aquitania.

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