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The Song of Roland and Ywain A Changing Society as Viewed Through Its Literature When comparing the epic poem of The Song of Roland to the romantic literature of Ywain the differences between the early medieval period and the high medieval period become evident Both The Song of Roland and Ywain depicts the societies from which each story derives its fundamental characteristics Through close observation one is able to see the shifts in customs and mentality that make the move from the epic to the romance possible In his chapter From Epic to Romance RW Southern shows how this transformation manifests itself through changing ecclesiastical and secular thoughts and feelings The Song of Roland is typical of the epic poems coming out of the early middle ages Roland shows very clearly the warrior-based society of the period It is through not only the battle scenes that are quite vivid but also the way the accouterments of battle receive high mention within the poem that this is accomplished At the start of a battle the author gives the number of forces on each side while during the individual fights amongst the peers he gives detailed blow-for-blow descriptions of what occurred Also throughout the body of the work the warriors no matter which side they are on have significant names for their weapons and war-horses This holds to the ancient custom that honored weapons with special names as having magical powers that could help its bearer The battles and heroism of the main characters as well as the names and details given about their war-horses and weapons were important to a society that was constantly in a state-of-battle readiness such as Rolands was Beyond the battle scenes Roland is true to the era in its portrayal of vassalage between a lord and his liegeman In her introduction Dorothy L Sayers defines vassalage as a personal bond of mutual service and protection between a lord
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