The Stricker, Charlemagne, early 14th century. Southern Germany.

Berlin, Prussian State Library, Ms. Germ. Fol. 623, 22v

Charlemagne’s nephew, the legendary hero Roland, leads the rear across the Pyrenees Mountains – but he is killed by treason from ambush. At the last minute Roland’s famous horn, Olifant, calls Charlemagne and his soldiers who vanquish the Saracens in order to convert them to Christianity. The present picture shows Roland dying under a tree before a shining, unreal background. His glove, a previous present from Saint Michel, is already floating towards God’s blessing hand in the clouds, thus showing that Roland’s soul is on its way to heaven.

This narrative picture in strong colours on a heavy golden background is one of the three remaining illustrations to the epic “Charlemagne”.