History 201 – 001 (Patterson) Formation of European Society October 4, 2007 First primary source essay: Song of Roland (due Thursday October 18) Song of Roland (composed c.1100 CE) is an Old French epic poem about lords and vassals, betrayal and revenge, Christians and Saracens, rights and wrong – all through the story of betrayal of Roland at Rencesvals. The poem completely transforms the historical event referred to by Einhard (Book II.chapter 9), turning a inglorious defeat (one of the very few Einhard acknowledges) into a victory of cosmic importance and significance. This is not an historical poem! It is, however, an important historical source for understanding medieval (especially medieval French) society and values c.1100 (the time of the first crusade). Write on one of the following topics: A. The portrait of the enemy How does the poem imagine the ‘Saracens’? Select and discuss 2 or 3 specific passages that depict the social structure and values, religion, and/or physical
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