Any of several Old French epic poems that form the core of the Charlemagne legends. More than 80 chansons de geste have survived in 12th- to 15th-century manuscripts. Dealing chiefly with events of the 8th–9th century, they contain a core of historical truth overlain with legend. Most are anonymous. The Chanson de Roland was the formative influence on later chansons de geste, which in turn influenced literature throughout Europe.