Iron Charles

A very un-irony Portrait of Charlemagne by Albrecht Dürer

When we were on vacation last month, my husband decided to read the Song of Roland. He said it was really gory, but he enjoyed it nevertheless. In the introduction there was a quote he read to me from the Monk of St. Gall’s Life of Charlemagne:

Then could be seen the Iron Charles, helmed with an iron helm, his iron breast and his broad shoulders defended by an iron breastplate, an iron spear raised in his left hand, his right always rested on his unconquered iron falchion. The thighs, which with most men are uncovered that they may the more easily ride on horseback, were in his case clad with plates of iron: I need make no special mention of his greaves, for the greaves of all the army were of iron. His shield was of iron, his charger iron-coloured and iron-hearted. The fields and open places were filled with iron, a people stronger than iron and paid universal homage to the strength of iron. The horror of the dungeon seemed less than the bright gleam of the iron. “Oh the iron, woe for the iron,” was the cry of the citizens. The strong walls shook at the sight of iron, the resolution of old and young fell before the iron.

You can see why he read this passage to me. I’ll save you from the other passage he read to me which included cleaving a man’s face. It was definitely a different time back then. I do love the imagery in the above quote though. So cold, strong, and evocative.

3 thoughts on “Iron Charles

Comments are closed.