I choose the Song of Roland, the typical chanson de geste, and Orlando Furioso by Ariosto, to discuss in the Middle Ages the chivalric concept which is evidently different from that in the Renaissance. In the Song of Roland, the medieval chivalry is revealed that the feudal knights are usually brave and loyal, having a duty to fight for his king or master, and a strong belief in God. However, with the notion of Renaissance humanism in Orlando Furioso, a knight not highly considering his duty, such as the protagonist Orlando choosing to pursue his love..
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In the Song of Roland, as a chivalric piece of the Middle Ages, the fearless Roland, one of the Twelve Peers of King Charlemagne, boldly crusades against the Saracens, a pagan race which is not Christianized in Spain. In other words, such a paganism is portrayed as the “otherness” which a faithful knight shall definitely conquer. In this aspect, Orlando Furioso, a seriocomic epic, presents a distinct change of the Middle-Ages chivalry. In the Renaissance, aware to seek for “man-centered” position, people challenge many old values such as that of the religion and feudalism in the former Church-controlled era. Praising Humanism, they don’t really appreciate chivalric system because it is already out of time; therefore, some Renaissance works usually tend to scorn the medieval mainstream or show the evolutional thoughts of that. In Orlando Furioso, Orlando is a paradin of the Christian emperor Charlemagne, but he chooses to abandon his king and responsibility after his love Angelica, a pagan princess, has escaped from the Bavarian Duke Namo. When Orlando finds that she is married, he hoes mad and crazy. From here we learn a core of Humanism: the liberation of asceticism and of human emotive reaction.
The chivalric concept n the Song of Roland and Orlando Furioso differ from each other due to the decisive keyword “Humanism.” The ideal medieval knight is expected to possess his fame, loyalty, and devotion to God or his king because the Christian Church plays a significant role in the medieval culture; nonetheless, a common person (even not a knight) —in which Renaissance men-centered spirit is exemplified—concerns his/her own interest, value, sense, and so on owing to the idea of Humanity advocating a new position God and mankind. To sum up, the concept of chivalry in the Middle Ages is theocentric while that in the Renaissance is anthropocentric.