Chanson de geste

The chanson de geste[lower-alpha 1] (Old French for 'song of heroic deeds', from Latin gesta 'deeds, actions accomplished')[1] is a medieval narrative, a type of epic poem that appears at the dawn of French literature.[2] The earliest known poems of this genre date from the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, shortly before the emergence of the lyric poetry of the troubadours and trouvères, and the earliest verse romances. They reached their highest point of acceptance in the period 1150–1250.[3]

The eight phases of The Song of Roland in one picture.

Composed in verse, these narrative poems of moderate length (averaging 4000 lines[4]) were originally sung, or (later) recited, by minstrels or jongleurs. More than one hundred chansons de geste have survived in approximately three hundred manuscripts[5] that date from the 12th to the 15th century.