We learned about Charlemagne in our history studies yesterday. We read about how this successful mayor became King of the Franks. His attributes to the education of his countrymen, a new handwriting system, and judicial system concepts made him known as a successful administrator and nicknamed 'the civilizer'. During our studies, we learned about Roland, his favorite nephew. Roland died in battle and a famous poem about Roland came to be. This poem, The Song of Roland, is one of the most famous poems of the Middle Ages.
The Song of Roland tells the story of a jealous step-father and his revenge; along with the battle of a Christian King (Charlemagne) and Muslim Prince (Abd al-Rahman). It was based on true events and embellished like many tales to stir emotion in the audience. The story was written four hundred or so years after the actual event and during the Crusades. So, the author was not an eye-witness to the battle.
We read the poem, translated into story form. We discussed what we had learned from our history book and the content of the poem itself. We talked about how stories can take on a life of their own outside of just the facts. The retelling of the story over the generations and current events of the time caused the tale to grow in heroics. The poem gave us much insight, but we also saw much stretch in the actual facts. I love to incorporate literature of the time into our studies!