Roland, the name of the most prominent hero in the Charlemagne legend. Unlike most legendary heroes, Roland is a figure in history as well as in poetry and fable, though it cannot be said that the place he occupies as a historical personage is a very imposing one. His character was that of a brave and loyal warrior, but simple and unsuspecting in his disposition. According to the Song of Roland, an old French epic, he was killed at the battle of Roncesvalles after a desperate struggle with the Saracens who had attacked Charlemagne's rear guard. Several epics are based upon his exploits.
Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia,