When we put aside one or two exceptionally fine pieces, like the hymn of the soul in the apocryphal Acts of Thomas, the highest degree of excellence in style is perhaps attained in staightforward historical narrative - such as the account of the PersoRoman War at the beginning of the 6th century by the author who passes under the name of Joshua the Stylite, or by romancers like him who wrote the romance of Julian; by biographers like some of those who have written lives of saints, martyrs and eminent divines; and by some early writers of homilies such as Philoxenus (in prose) and Isaac of Antioch (in verse).
Marie de France, who wrote at the court of Henry II., and Chretien de Troyes, her French contemporary, were the earliest of the avowed romancers to take up the theme.
The significance of Parkman's work consists partly in the success with which he has depicted the North-American Indians, those belated children of the Stone Age, who have been so persistently misunderstood alike by romancers, such as Cooper, and by detractors like Dr Palfrey.
This episode, which bears the marks of popular heroic poetry, may well be the substance of a lost Carolingian cantilena.1 The legendary Charlemagne and his warriors were endowed with the great deeds of earlier kings and heroes of the Frankish kingdom, for the romancers were not troubled by considerations of chronology.
To dwell here upon the Italianizing versifiers, moralists and pastoral romancers who attempted to refine the vernacular of the Romancero would be superfluous.