HIS 101
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.

Aachen Cathedral
Red Separator Bar
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?
Your paper must follow the following format:
  • typed using a word processor (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, date and HIS 101 at the top left
  • must have a brief introduction and conclusion (each not to exceed two sentences)
  • You may consider submitting drafts of your assignment to your instructor for feedback before submitting the assignment for a grade. Please send some specific questions that you would like answered about your draft. The questions can be general (Is my introduction clear?) or specific (Is the phrase, "Chardin was jeweller," written correctly?).  You can send in multiple drafts (within reason) of an assignment before you submit for a grade.
  • At times, you may be asked to rewrite your essay before it is graded.  This is done for your own benefit and will result in an improved grade.
Before proceeding, you might wish to read the short notes and review the study questions on the Song of Roland.

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.

Your assignment should be sent to your course instructor following the directions for submitting assignments.
Please take a moment to review Charlie's History Writing Center for specific information on the writing requirements for the assignments in the course.

The Roland Paper is worth a maximum of 100 points.



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