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15th Century Illustration of Burgundian Costume and Soldiers in the
Battle of Roncevaux
Tapestry, Tournai, Southern Netherlands (Belgium), 1475-1500

A larger image of the Battle of Roncevaux, Tapestry, Tournai, Southern Netherlands (Belgium)

The Battle of Roncevaux
Southern Netherlands (Belgium, Tournai)
Wool and silk, tapestry woven

Violent war scenes on tapestries romanticised events from the past and connected them to modern conflicts. This fragment depicts the battle of Roncevaux in 778, when Roland, retainer of Charlemagne, fought King Marsile of Saragossa for control of Spain. The story is taken from the 'Song of Roland', an epic French poem frequently used to rally the troops. Like the poem, the tapestry distorts events to portray the conflict as one between Christianity and Islam.

Victoria and Albert Museum, Collection ID: T.95-1962
Photo by Valerie McGlinchey

See also Burgundian Soldiers in 'Histoire de Charles Martel', by David Aubert, illustrated by Loyset Liedet, Ms. 9, Biblioteque Royale, Brussels, c.1470
Other 15th Century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers