The most favored knights of Charlemagne's court were called the paladins -- inmates of the palace, and the Emperor's equal companions.
The paladins in the legends and romances of Charlemagne are:
- Orlando (or Roland), son of Charlemagne's sister Bertha
- Rinaldo of Montalban, son of Charlemagne's sister Aya
- Bradamante, Rinaldo's sister, a famous warrior woman
- Namo, the Duke of Bavaria
- Salomon, the King of Brittany
- Turpin, the Archbishop, a wise and good warrior
- Astolpho of England, the handsomest man alive
- Ogier the Dane, an amazingly tough fighter
- Malagigi the Enchanter, who is sometimes mischevious
- Florismart, Orlando's friend
- Ganelon of Mayence (or Gano), the treacherous knight
Orlando Furioso by Ariosto and The Song of Roland are good sources to read about the paladins. The third volume of Bulfinch's Mythology, The Legends of Charlemagne, nicely condenses some of the stories from Orlando Furioso and other tales.
Because of Dungeons and Dragons, most people think of paladins as virtuous and good; in the legends, sure, they are Christians, fighting Saracens and evil enchanters, but their knightly honor is more important to them than religion.
They come off as gang members on an extended, no-responsibilities spree; starting a war that devastates an entire countryside of peasants is OK, even if you are just trying to rescue your beloved war horse, or prove that you are the one true knight who has the right to wear the insignia of ancient Troy.