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Middle Ages for Kids
Medieval Literature

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Not all the stories from medieval times were religious. Some of the stories that were told were about great heroes and great adventures. Since most people could not read or write, they were told aloud. A few of these have survived down to our times. Two of these are Beowulf and The Song of Roland.

Beowulf is what is called an epic poem. It tells the story of a hero who fights and defeats a huge monster. Like most epic poems, it was told orally for hundreds of years before finally being written down. We can still read Beowulf today.

During medieval times, Charlemagne was a great and famous king. There were many stories and legends about Charlemagne and some of the knights who followed him. The knights who followed Charlemagne were called paladins. One of the most famous stories about Charlemagne and his Paladins was the Song of Roland. Roland was a Paladin who went to fight the Muslims. Roland and a few other knights and soldiers were quickly surrounded by a Muslim army. Roland had a magic horn that would call the other Paladins to help him. He blew and blew the horn, but there were no knights close enough to help. Roland and his band were wiped out. But the King and other warriors had heard the horn and were rushing to help. When they got there they found the bodies of Roland and his band. King Charlemagne was so upset that he asked god to help him. Then Charlemagne and the other knights and the rest of the army found the Muslim army and in a great battle defeated them.

This story became even more important during the Crusades. Knights going to help free Jerusalem took heart in the idea that Charlemagne defeated the Muslims. If he could do it, so could they.

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