THE LIFE OF THE EMPEROR CHARLES

[9] Cum enim assiduo ac poene continuo cum Saxonibus bello certaretur, dispositis per congrua confiniorum loca praesidiis, Hispaniam quam maximo poterat belli apparatu adgreditur; saltuque Pyrinei superato, omnibus, quae adierat, oppidis atque castellis in deditionem acceptis, salvo et incolomi exercitu revertitur; praeter quod in ipso Pyrinei iugo Wasconicam perfidiam parumper in redeundo contigit experiri. Nam cum agmine longo, ut loci et angustiarum situs permittebat, porrectus iret exercitus, Wascones in summi montis vertice positis insidiis - est enim locus ex opacitate silvarum, quarum ibi maxima est copia, insidiis ponendis oportunus - extremam impedimentorum partem et eos qui novissimi agminis incedentes subsidio praecedentes tuebantur desuper incursantes in subiectam vallem deiciunt, consertoque cum eis proelio usque ad unum omnes interficiunt, ac direptis impedimentis, noctis beneficio, quae iam instabat, protecti summa cum celeritate in diversa disperguntur. Adiuvabat in hoc facto Wascones et levitas armorum et loci, in quo res gerebatur, situs, econtra Francos et armorum gravitas et loci iniquitas per omnia Wasconibus reddidit impares. In quo proelio Eggihardus regiae mensae praepositus, Anshelmus comes palatii et Hruodlandus Brittannici limitis praefectus cum aliis conpluribus interficiuntur. Neque hoc factum ad praesens vindicari poterat, quia hostis re perpetrata ita dispersus est, ut ne fama quidem remaneret, ubinam gentium quaeri potuisset.


Spanish Expedition

[9] In the midst of this vigorous and almost uninterrupted struggle with the Saxons, he covered the frontier by garrisons at the proper points, and marched over the Pyrenees into Spain at the head of all the forces that he could muster. All the towns and castles that he attacked surrendered. and up to the time of his homeward march he sustained no loss whatever; but on his return through the Pyrenees he had cause to rue the treachery of the Gascons. That region is well adapted for ambuscades by reason of the thick forests that cover it; and as the army was advancing in the long line of march necessitated by the narrowness of the road, the Gascons, who lay in ambush [778] on the top of a very high mountain, attacked the rear of the baggage train and the rear guard in charge of it, and hurled them down to the very bottom of the valley [at Roncevalles, later celebrated in the Song of Roland]. In the struggle that ensued they cut them off to a man; they then plundered the baggage, and dispersed with all speed in every direction under cover of approaching night. The lightness of their armor and the nature of the battle ground stood the Gascons in good stead on this occasion, whereas the Franks fought at a disadvantage in every respect, because of the weight of their armor and the unevenness of the ground. Eggihard, the King's steward; Anselm, Count Palatine; and Roland, Governor of the March of Brittany, with very many others, fell in this engagement. This ill turn could not be avenged for the nonce, because the enemy scattered so widely after carrying out their plan that not the least clue could be had to their whereabouts.