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Derived from an Old French personal name. Introduced by the Normans into Britain. Influenced by the 12th century epic poem, "The Song of Roland," considered one of the oldest major works in French literature. The name's popularity during the Middle Ages led to the creation of several surnames, including Rowland, which became the preferred spelling during the 17th century. Shakespeare also used this form in four of his plays. Roland became the favorite in both the United States and Britain during the 1920s. Orlando is the most widely used variation today.