La Chanson de Roland, Anonymous

Early medieval France certainly stands in stark contrast to our contemporary world. The Song of Roland gives a glimpse into a time when courts could decide a case by both a trial and a battle, a time when war was waged for overtly religious motives.
The aspects of medieval France that we may find remarkable and surprising can provide a different standpoint from which to critique our own society and from which to approach those important questions which it seems all human societies have struggled with: in what way should we take motive into account when we punish crime? How should we attempt to distribute justice when the same motive can cause both actions we condemn and actions we honor? How should we decide which crimes are against individuals and which are against the state? What are the differences between how Charlemagne approached the Saracens in the 800s and how the U.S. approaches many predominantly muslim countries? ​


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