Roland (Frankish: Hruodland) (died 15 August 778) was a Frankish military leader under Charlemagne who became one of the principal figures in the literary cycle known as the Matter of France. The historical Roland was military governor of the Breton March, responsible for defending Francia's frontier against the Bretons. His only historical attestation is in Einhard's Vita Karoli Magni, which notes he was part of the Frankish rearguard killed by rebellious Basques in Iberia at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass.
The story of Roland's death at Roncevaux Pass was embellished in later medieval and Renaissance literature. He became the chief paladin of the emperor Charlemagne and a central figure in the legendary material surrounding him, collectively known as the Matter of France. The first and most famous of these epic treatments was the Old French Chanson de Roland of the eleventh century.
Two masterpieces of Italian Renaissance poetry, the Orlando innamorato and Orlando furioso, are even further detached from history than the earlier Chansons. Roland is poetically associated with his sword Durendal, his horse Veillantif, and his oliphant horn.