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Song of Roland Paper Assignment 

Aachen (aka Aix-la-Chapelle) Cathedral (aka Kaiserdom ) is the oldest surviving cathedral in Northern Europe–and it is still functioning as a Roman Catholic diocese church.  Charlemagne began construction of the octagonal-shaped Palatine Chapel (pictured here) about 792, with the pope himself making the long journey from Rome to Charlemagne’s capital to consecrate the new imperial cathedral in 805.  That certainly says a lot about the power of Charlemagne vis-a-vis the pope.! The Chapel was long the central part of cathedral which later, through the Middle Ages, expanded around the Chapel.  Almost miraculously, the Cathedral suffered little serious damage in the World Wars; this despite the allied bombing raids which pretty much totally destroyed the city of Aachen in World War II.  Charlemagne, or more accurately, what is left of Charlemagne, is buried (preserved ) here.  Photo credit yeussquai.

Read the Song of Roland (in its entirety).Answer the following question in a one-page paper:Citing specific evidence from the Song of Roland (not from the textbook), what were some of the main characteristics of the ideal knight during the reign of Charlemagne?

This question might also be phrased somewhat differently:  “How was a knight expected to behave?  What were the qualities that a knight should possess?  The paper requires that you gather evidence from a textual source (Song of Roland) to reconstruct the past (task 1), and that you then interpret that past by analyzing the evidence (task 2).  As you read the epic and take notes, you should look for any information that sheds light on the expectations of feudal behavior, for example, the decapitation of Marsilla’s right hand is certainly one piece of evidence. 

Before proceeding, you might wish to read the short notes and review the study questions on the Song of Roland. 

Your paper must follow this format:

  • font size 10 or 12 only
  • one-inch margins
  • double-spaced
  • page number citations for your quoted evidence
  • not to exceed one (1) page
  • name at the top left
  • must have brief introduction and conclusion paragraphs (each not to exceed two sentences)

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