The third volume of the Epopees francaises contains an analysis and full particulars of the chansons de geste immediately connected with the history of Charlemagne.
As in all his following epopees the subject was taken from what pious Moslems call the time of "heathendom" - here, for instance, from the old Sassanian story of Shah Khosrau Parwiz (Chosroes Parvez), his love affairs with the princess Shirin of Armenia, his jealousy against the architect Ferhad, for some time his successful rival, of whom he got rid at last by a very ingenious trick, and his final reconciliation and marriage with Shirin; and it is a noteworthy fact that the once so devout Nizami never chose a strictly Mahommedan legend for his works of fiction.
It has been held that the chansons de geste were formed by joining together " bunches " of these earlier cantilenes, and this was the view taken by Leon Gautier in the first edition of Les Epopees frangaises (1865).
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