The Twelve Peers were Charlemagne's elite paladins or knights - the corps d'elite. The Twelve Peers were sort of like Arthur's Knights of the Round Table.

According to all tales, Roland was the leader of the Twelve Peers. Roland was the Charlemagne's best paladin, as well as the king's nephew.

Each paladin was a formidable warrior. And each peer has a companion to fight alongside him. Roland had Oliver as his companion. So in the time of battle they fought in pair. It is not so much to defend each back, as to kill as many of their enemies, matching the prowess of their companion. For a knight or paladin, courage and glory are paramount to them.

The Twelve Peers commanded Charlemagne's first division in the army. They were the crack troop and advance-guard, meant to spearhead in any attack of a battle. This division is numbered twenty-thousand strongs.

However, in the Chanson de Roland, through the ill-advice treachery of Roland's stepfather, Ganelon, the division of the Twelve Peers were to serve as the rearguard of Charlemagne's army at Rencesvals (modern Roncesvalles), where they were destroyed by numerically superior Saracen army.

Below, I have only listed the Twelve Peers as they are found in the Chanson de Roland. Names in the list varied from epic to epic. For example, the Archbishop Turpin and Duke Naimes were listed as being members in the Pilgrimage of Charlemagne. A couple of epics named Ogier the Dane in the list.

It should be noted that the Saracen Marsile had appointed his own version of the Twelve Peers, but I will not list them here.


 
Anseis
Berenger
Engeler
Gerard of Roussillon
Gerer
Gerin
 
Oliver
Oton
Roland
Samson
Yvoire
Yvon







Anseis
 

A companion of Samson. In Chanson de Roland, he was called Anseis the fierce.

Anseis killed Turgis of Turteluse. Anseis was killed by an African prince, Malquiant, son of King Malcuid. Malquiant drove his weapon through the hero's hauberk. It was Archbishop Turpin, who avenged his death.

 
Related Information
Name
Anseis.

Related Articles
Samson, Archbishop Turpin.



Berenger
 

A companion of Oton.

Berenger had despatched Astramariz, one of the Saracen Twelve Peers.

Grandonie, a son of King Capuel of Cappadocia, had slew Berenger, as well as Gerin and Gerer. Roland avenged their death.

 
Related Information
Name
Berenger.

Related Articles
Oton, Gerin, Gerer, Roland, Grandonie.



Engeler
 

Engeler was a Gascon paladin from Bordeaux.

In Chanson de Roland, he killed Escremiz of Valterne and Esperveres son of Burdel.

A Saracen named Climborin from Saragossa had killed Engeler. Climborin drove his spear through his body. Oliver avenged him with his sword Halteclere.

 
Related Information
Name
Engeler.

Related Articles
Oliver.



Gerard of Roussillon
 

Also spelt Gerart or Girart. Gerard of Roussillon was perhaps the oldest member of the Twelve Peers, since he was always called Gerard of Roussillon, the old.

Gerard of Roussillon was one of Marsile's victims. Marsile had also killed Yvoire and Yvon. Seeing them fallen, Roland angrily attacked Marsile; severing the Saracen's sword hand, before killing Jurfaleu the Blond, Marsile' only son.

There is a chanson, Girart de Roussillon, where Gerard played major role.

 
Related Information
Name
Gerard, Gerart, Girart.
Gerard of Roussillon.

Related Articles
Yvoire, Yvon, Roland.



Gerer
 

A Frankish count and a companion of Gerin.

His horse is named Passecerf.

Gerer had killed the emir.

Gerer met his death at the hand of Grandonie, a son of King Capuel of Cappadocia. Grandonie had also slew Gerin and Berenger. Roland avenged their death.

 
Related Information
Name
Gerer.

Related Articles
Gerin, Berenger, Roland, Grandonie.



Gerin
 

A Frankish count and companion of Gerer.

The name of his horse was Sorel, and he carried a red shield.

Gerin drove his spear into the body of Malprimis of Brigal.

Grandonie, a son of King Capuel of Cappadocia, was Gerin's slayer. Grandonie had also killed Gerin's companion, Gerer, as well as Berenger, another peer. Roland avenged Gerin's death, by killing Grandonie.

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth in Historia regum Britanniae (1137), and to Geoffrey's adaptors – Wace and Layamon – Gerin of Chartres was the leader of the Twelve Peers, who was present in King Arthur's plenary court at the City of Legion. He was the only paladin of the Twelve Peers to be mentioned. He commanded the second division in Arthur's army with Boso of Oxford, when Arthur confronted the Roman army of Lucius Hiberius.

 
Related Information
Name
Gerin.

Related Articles
Gerer, Berenger, Roland, Malprimis, Grandonie.



Oliver
 

A Frankish count and a companion of Roland. Oliver was a son of Renier, Lord of the Vale of Runers, and brother of Aude.

Halteclere was the name of his sword. In Chanson de Roland, he was contrast to the reckless boldness of Roland with his more prudent and wisdom.

Among the warriors, he had slain: Justin of Val Ferree. Oliver also avenged the death of Engeler, by killing Climborin.

It was Marganice who delivered the fatal blow to Oliver, stabbing his lance from behind, at Oliver's back. But killed Marganice with Halteclere.

 
Related Information
Name
Oliver.

Related Articles
Roland, Charlemagne.



Oton
 

A companion of Berenger.

In the Chanson de Roland, Oton's most notable victim was the Saracen Estorgans. Though Oton was among those who died at Rencesvals, the chanson did not say how he die and who had kill him.

 
Related Information
Name
Oton, Otes.

Related Articles
Berenger.



Roland
 

The greatest hero in the Frankish legend. He was sort of like French Heracles, Achilles, Sigurd, Cu Chulainn or Lancelot, a hero of unsurpassed strength and courage.

Roland was the main character of the epic, Chanson de Roland, which recounted the last stand of the Twelve Peers at Rencesvals.

According to the legend, Roland was a nephew of Charlemagne, through the king's sister. Neither his father or his mother's name were given in the Chanson de Roland. Historically, it doesn't say that Roland was Charlemagne's nephew. And even more importantly that chanson de geste left out the fact that Charlemagne's real sister never married or had a son; Charlemagne's sister became a nun.

Roland was a Frankish count and companion of Oliver. Roland was a hero of number of Old French epics, as well as the Italian tales, where he was known as Orlando.

Veillantif was the name of his horse. Durendal was his sword and Olivant his horn. Even in the Arthurian legend, Roland's sword is mentioned, often in comparison of Arthur's sword, Excalibur.

In Chanson de Roland, Roland had described the sacred Christian relics that made up golden hilt of Durendal: a tooth of St Peter, blood of St Basil, and some hair from St Denis. Even a part of the Virgin Mary's rainment. Roland didn't want any Saracen wielding Durendal, because he was dying, so he tried unsuccessfully to break the blade. When this failed, he hid the sword and horn beneath him as he lay under a pine tree.

Roland was the one who rejected the idea of Charlemagne making peace with the Saracen king, Marsile, a peace which Ganelon favoured. Ganelon was Roland's stepfather, and there were love between the two men. When Roland proposed that his stepfather should be sent as embassy to Marsile, on Charlemagne's behalf, Ganelon conspired with the Saracens in Sargossa, to arrange for the ambush Roland's battalion at Rencesvals.

In the battle at Rencesvals, Roland distinguished himself by killing Marsile's nephew, Aelroth, and Marsile's son, Jurfaleu the Blond. Roland also severed Marsile's hand, which the Saracen king eventually died at Saragossa.

Only, Roland didn't die with a single wound. When Roland blew his horn (Oliphant) three times, it caused ruptured at his temple and bleeding at the mouth and nose; the loss of blood and his grief that he was the last of his twelve companions to survive, had caused his death.

Roland was known in Italy as Orlando, where he was the hero of two popular Italian titles – Orlando innamorato by Matteo Maria Boiardo (1483), and Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto (1516). Orlando furioso was actually a continuation of Boiardo's work.

The Chanson de Roland, only say that Roland was a Frankish count, not a marquis from Brittany, who was killed at Rencesvals. Einhard only mention his name once in Charlemagne's biography, Life of Charlemagne, killed with others, particularly that of Eggihard, the King's steward, and Anselm, Count Palatine; there was no mention of the Twelve Peers, and no mention of Roland's heroic deed. Obviously, over time, the event of Rencesvals became legend, and Roland's role in this ill-fated event grew in heroic stature.

 
Related Information
Name
Roland.
Orlando (Italian).

Related Articles
Charlemagne, Oliver, Ganelon, Marsile, Aelroth.

Chanson de Roland.



Samson
 

A Frankish duke and a companion of Anseis.

At Rencesvals, Samson killed the almaçor, in the opening part of the battle.

Samson was the second of the Twelve Peers to fall. Valdabrun drove his lance through Samson, but Roland killed the Saracen in return; Roland drove his sword Durendal, which split Valdabrun down the middle. This mighty blow also killed Valdabrun's horse, Gramimund.

 
Related Information
Name
Samson, Sansun.

Related Articles
Anseis, Roland, Valdabrun.



Yvoire
 

A companion of Yvon.

Yvoire was one of Marsile's victims. Marsile had also killed Gerard of Roussillon and Yvoire's companion, Yvon.

Other than this, not much is known about Yvoire.

 
Related Information
Name
Yvoire, Ivorie, Yvoeries.

Related Articles
Yvon, Gerard of Roussillon.



Yvon
 

A companion of Yvoire.

Yvon was one of Marsile's victims. Marsile had also killed Gerard of Roussillon and Yvon's companion, Yvoire.

Other than this, not much is known about Yvon.

 
Related Information
Name
Yvon, Ive, Ivon.

Related Articles
Yvoire, Gerard of Roussillon.









This page belongs to Timeless Myths.



www.timelessmyths.com



See Copyright Notices for permitted use.


For feedback, questions, or just to say "hello",
contact can made through the Contact page.
No mailing list or spamming, please.



Home  |  Arthurian Legends  |  Camelot  |  Age of Chivalry  |  Songs of Deeds

What's New?  |  Bibliography  |  Fact & Figures  |  Genealogy  |  FAQs  |  Copyright  |  Links  |  Donation  |  Contact  |  Back