The Middle Ages for Kids - Beowulf, Song of Roland, Medieval Literature Illustration

Middle Ages Literature for Kids

Like most epic poems, the story of Beowulf was told orally for a couple hundred years. An unknown poet wrote it down in the 700's. It's a story full of action that tells how Beowulf cleverly defeats a horrible monster. It's a great story, and we still read Beowulf today.

The poem, the Song of Roland, was written around 1100 CE. The Song of Roland is about a brave and fearless knight named Roland, who fought with Charlemagne, his king.

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 the gods 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.

In the 1300's, Dante wrote the Divine Comedy, and Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales.

Most plays in the Middle Ages were religious in nature. It was another way to teach people about the church. Mystery Plays were very popular. They were short bible stories. Miracle Plays were about the lives of the saints. Morality Plays began with the rise of towns. They were stories about virtues and vices such as fellowship, good deeds, and death. he clergy were the actors. There were not sets. The church or the cathedral was the backdrop for the performances.

Beowulf for Children (short version, youtube)

Beowulf by the Beowulf Poet, animated, youtube

Medieval Plays - Mystery, Miracle, and Morality