statue of roland riga latvia

The Riga version of the mythic hero Roland.

Roland was a close confidant of the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne and died at the Battle of Roncevaux in 778. He was immortalized in the Song of Roland, which I had to read when I was a senior in high school and I don't remember anything about it other than being bored to death reading a long poem about a war and history I knew nothing about.

roland statue bremen germany

This is the Bremen, Germany version of Roland.

So, I'm not sure that I understand why there's a statue of him in the Town Square of Riga, Latvia, which is a long way from France and Roncevaux (Roncesvalles,) which is now in Spain. But, it has something to do with the Hanseatic League, the powerful medieval mutual trade and defense organization that dominated the Baltic area from the 15th to 19th Centuries. Roland, it seems, was seen as a protector of trade.

Riga was a member of the Hanseatic League, as was Bremen, Germany. We've also seen a statue of Roland in the main square of Bremen. That statue and its surroundings is a Unesco World Heritage site.

The Riga statue, by the way, is a reproduction of the original that was destroyed in World War II.




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