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to be paid in gold and guaranteed by hostages in lieu of the besieged city. Such an

offer gave him a good excuse for the abandonment of an enterprise which would soon

have had to be given up without even a show of success.

As soon, therefore, as a settlement had

been effected with the authorities of Saragossa, Charlemagne began a retreat out

of Spain. On arriving at Pampeluna, he

ordered the walls of the city to be leveled

with the ground, in order that any future

revolt of the people might be attended with

greater hazard. The king's army then

reentered the passes of Roncesvalles, and

had partly escaped through the defiles when

the Basques, having taken possession of

the heights, began to hurl down upon the

soldiers in the pass huge masses of stone.

The discomfiture of those who constituted

the rear guard of the army was complete.

Very few of the Franks escaped from their

dangerous situation. The Basques fell upon

the baggage train and captured a great

amount of booty. Several of Charlemagne's

captains lost their lives in the engagement.

Eginhard, master of the king's household;

Anselm, count of the palace; and the chivalric Roland, prefect of Brittany, and greatest

knight of his times, were among the slain. (1) Nor was Charlemagne in any condition

to turn upon the mountain guerrillas who

had thus afflicted his army. He was obliged

to continue his march and leave the Basques to the full enjoyment of their victory.

Though Charlemagne was not able to punish the mountaineers of Vasconia for their

perfidy in the affair of Roncesvalles, he failed

not to take vengeance upon the people of

Aquitaine. Duke Lupus, who was thought

to have had a hand in the insurrection, was


1 The defeat of the Franks in the passes of

Roncesvalles gave rise to a cycle of heroic legends,

some of which are still popular in the south of

France. The Song of Roland, reciting the exploits

and tragic death of that hero, became a favorite

with his countrymen, and was chanted by the soldiers as an inspiration to victory. The men of

William the Conqueror sang the hymn as they

marched to the battle of Hastings.