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U43. Oral Medieval Literature. The Arthurian Legend, Geoffrey Chaucer & The Canterbury Tales > 1. Historical Background > Flashcards

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What event put a beginning to Medieval Literature in England?

The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 change the whole course of English History.


Where did it take place?

In Hastings.


What’s the name of the conqueror?

The victory of William, Duke of Normand.


What did it represent?

It made possible the introduction of a new culture and the beginning of the Middle Ages.


What were the consequences?

The important positions in Church and State were filled by Normans and Frenchmen. All of them were aristocrats and it was them who introduced the Feudal system in England.


Did they speak French in England?

Yes, for two hundred years, French, along with Latin, substituted the Wessex dialect as the language of the upper classes and the vehicle for the most outstanding literature in that period.


Did English disappeared?

English continued to be spoken by the vast majority of the people. Consequently, England, by that time, became not a bilingual, but a trilingual country.


How long did this situation last?

This linguistic situation continued up to the 13th century when several changes took place.


What was the most remarkable fact.

The most remarkable fact was the loss of Normandy in 1104. The use of French was then more a question of fashion than a political tool. From 1250 to 1300 there was the transition from French to English.


Well, Do you mean that ..?

All this linguistic background had important effects upon the production of literature in Medieval England.


What is the 1st literary period of the Medieval Ages in England?

1066 / 1250 – up to 1250, there were two different types of literary productions depending on the language they were written in. English was the language of the lower classes used by the Church for religious purposes as means of the Church to instruct people in the ideas of Christianity. On the other hand, French was the language at the court, the language of those who could pay poets for romance and other literary types.


Cool. What is the 2nd literary period?

1250 / 1350 – this is the period of Religious and Secular literature. English had become the language of the upper classes too, broadening its thematic scope with works for entertainment.


Wow! Is there a 3rd period?

1350 / 1400 – the fifty years of this period are called the period of Great Individual writers. English literature reached its highest peak in the Middle Ages in this period.


What were the effects of the Norman conquest on English literature?

The effects of the Norman conquest on English literature had two sides.


What is the 1st side then?

On the one hand, English prose and poetry were put in the background and Anglosaxon productions such as the Peterborough Chronicle disappeared.


And the 2nd side?

On the other hand, the Normans brought with them new models and standards for imitation and emulation along with a wide range of continental tastes and themes.


Did it stop at some point?

No, it didn’t, this close connection with the continent meant the end of the cultural isolation. The influence of French literature on the English continued in the 13th and 14th centuries


Can you give some illustrative example?

The Legend of King Arthur, which was adapted in England not thorugh Celtic sources but by means of the romances of the French Chrétien de Troyes and his followers.


Can you name the most representative authors?

Although we know the names of some of these French poets, the rule in Medieval Literature was to find a great amount of anonymous works


Why is that?

The medieval author considered the story material a common source and any writer should consult old and therefore authoritative sources in order to do his job proper, which explains the LACK OF ORIGINALITY.


What would you highlight of the European Medieval Literature?

The influence of the Church on all aspects of life; literature was meant to be listened to, not read; Books were expensive, even upper classes lacked literacy


What was the consequence of this?

The consequence was that the vast majority of literature is in verse, easier to memorize and more pleasant to ear as the oral style used WORD-PLAY, HYPERBOLE, evocation of IDEAS and FEELINGS, DIRECT and rarely ironic.