The two pieces of late medieval literature, The Song of Roland and Little Flowers, seem to provide virtually no guidance as to how a typical Christian should live. The Song of Roland fictionalizes a war in Spain against Muslims. Little Flowers tells about St. Francis of Assisi and the orders he founded.
In The Song of Roland, the Muslims are losing a war to the French. Then, the French send a negotiator who turns traitor because he thinks it will bring peace. The French are leaving Spain and the Muslims attack the rearguard and kill everyone, but just barely even though the French are outnumbered twenty-to-one. Then, Charlemagne comes back and totally destroys the Muslims even though he’s outnumbered five-to-one. The traitor is revealed and killed.
The Song of Roland offers two messages that provide some guidance to Christians. First, don’t be evil like the traitor or like the Muslims. This guidance doesn’t help the typical Christian, since Christians are not supposed to be evil or Muslim by definition of “Christianity”. The second word of guidance from Roland is to go on a Crusade and die in order to have your sins forgiven. Most Christians couldn’t go on crusade because they’d need to be rich to buy gear and not go completely bankrupt (Crusading was very expensive). So neither of these messages from Roland was aimed at the “typical Christian”.
The first part of Little Flowers shows how the people in Francis’ order can perform miracles and how all should suffer to get closer to God, especially through poverty and obedience to the person in charge of the monastery. The book seems to suggest that everyone should become as monk-like as possible. The second part of Flowers focuses on one monk who is a “fool for Christ”. He takes some of the Franciscan teachings to such an extreme that it’s just idiotic. In the third part, Little Flowers focuses on the third person to join the Franciscan order, Brother Giles. And the fourth and final part of Little Flowers tells the reader about “the sayings of Brother Giles” by describing a long list of vices and virtues, and advocating how the virtues are superior. However, this section continually contradicts itself; for instance, in one spot, it says that the straight and narrow is the easy way, but in another, it says that it isn’t easy because Satan continually attacks those serving God.
The first three parts aren’t about how to live, they’re more like an advertisement to become a monk. The fourth part does provide some instruction, but mostly it just claims that being a monk is fantastic.
Neither of these late medieval works provide any useful instruction to the typical Christian. One is about how great being a monk is, the other is about how awesome the Crusades are. Neither of these messages helped the typical Christian because most Christians of the 1300’s couldn’t become monks or Crusaders.