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Literature during medieval period


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Literature during medieval period

  2. 2. OUTLINE: Life  History  Literature   Monks and Illuminated Texts  Troubadours  Early Works  Medieval Masterpieces  Printing
  3. 3. LIFE DURING MEDIEVAL PERIOD Daily life during the Middle Ages is sometimes hard to fathom. Pop culture loves to focus on exciting medieval moments-heroic knights charging into battle; romantic liaisons between royalty and commoner; breakthroughs and discoveries made. But life for your average person during the Dark Ages was very routine, and activities revolved around an agrarian calendar.
  4. 4. LIFE DURING MEDIEVAL PERIOD Most of the time was spent working the land, and trying to grow enough food to survive another year. Church feasts marked sowing and reaping days, and occasions when peasant and lord could rest from their labors.  Social activities were important, and every citizen in a medieval town would be expected to attend. Fairs with troubadours and acrobats performing in the streets…merchants selling goods in the town square…games of chance held at the local tavern…tournaments featuring knights from near and abroad…these were just some of the ways medieval peasants spent their leisure time. Medieval weddings were cause for the entire town to celebrate. 
  5. 5. LIFE DURING MEDIEVAL PERIOD  Medieval superstitions held sway over science, but traveling merchants and returning crusaders told of cultures in Asia, the Middle East and Africa that had advanced learning of the earth and the human body. Middle Age food found new flavor courtesy of rare spices that were imported from the East. Schools and universities were forming across Western Europe that would help medieval society evolve from the Dark Ages on its way to a Renaissance of art and learning.
  6. 6. HISTORY   The Dark Ages. That's one of the terms used to describe nearly 1000 years of history-a history that is often hard to understand due to a lack of surviving documents, and often is clouded by myth and legends. Western Europe was under the rule of hundreds of feudal lords and kings. Castles dominated the landscape, and entire cities were built behind protective walls. The Roman Empire formally legalized Christianity during the 4th century, and soon afterward, the zeal and evangelism of practitioners spread this faith throughout Western Europe as far west as Ireland. The Church would be one of the most powerful medieval institutions, controlling publication of books and the making of laws. Much of medieval Europe's art and architecture has a direct connection to the Christian church.
  7. 7. HISTORY  Knights, soldiers, peasants and pilgrims marched along European roads and trails during the Crusades and brought back with them stories of differing cultures, and began to adopt their architecture, tales of Romance, and advances in medicine. Trade was both a blessing and curse. Merchants began importing silks, cottons and rare spices from all over the known world. But these ships would also bring the horror that became known as the Black Death. The disease ravaged Asia, before wiping out nearly one-third of Western Europe.
  8. 8. HISTORY  Wars took their toll, from William the Conqueror's invasion of England in 1066, to the Hundred Year's War that ended in 1453, there were few years that didn't see battles raging in some part of Europe. This was an era of siege warfare-catapults, trebuchets, battering rams, and towers. Men fought hand-to-hand in the thousands in bloody conflicts using swords, axes, longbows, crossbows, stones and daggers. Medieval Europe saw some humanity-changing developments, such as Gutenberg's moveable types press in the middle of the 15th century. This would bring printed material to the masses, and improve communication between societies. Marco Polo would popularize the account of his voyage to the Orient, and intrigue Europeans about this exotic land.
  9. 9. HISTORY  Through these centuries, Europe was slowly waking from a harsh slumber, and begin to sow the seeds of a Renaissance.
  10. 10. LITERATURE   The Middle Ages saw the beginnings of a rebirth in literature. Early medieval books were painstakingly hand-copied and illustrated by monks. Paper was a rarity, with vellum, made from calf's skin, and parchment, made from lamb's skin, were the media of choice for writing. Students learning to write used wooden tablets covered in green or black wax. The greatest number of books during this era were bound with plain wooden boards, or with simple tooled leather for more expensive volumes. Wandering scholars and poets traveling to the Crusades learned of new writing styles. Courtly Love spawned a new interest in romantic prose. Troubadours sang in medieval courtyards about epic battles involving Roland, Arthur, and Charlemagne. Literature exploded from the universities as scholars began to question convention and write social commentary, as well as poetic fiction.
  11. 11. LITERATURE  Language saw further development during the Middle Ages. Capital and lowercase letters were developed with rules for each. Books were treasures, rarely shown openly in a library, but rather, kept safely under lock and key. Finding someone who might loan you a book was a true friend. Some might rent out their books, while others, desperate for cash, might turn to the book as a valuable item to be pawned
  12. 12. MONKS AND ILLUMINATED TEXTS   Medieval monasteries were the refuges for book copying during the Middle Ages. The burning of the library at Alexandria in the 5th century had been a terrible blow to humanity. Countless scrolls containing scientific, philosophical, artistic and mathematical knowledge were destroyed out of ignorance. Surviving documents were rare, and were often brought to monasteries to be copied for future generations. The Bible was certainly the most copied book of the Middle Ages. Not only was the Church interested in using these Bibles to spread its gospel throughout the land, these volumes were to be a veneration of beauty. Monks would often work in large rooms called a scriptorium, and only those working on texts would be allowed in this room.
  13. 13. MONKS AND ILLUMINATED TEXTS   Monks became specialists. The antiquarii were masters of calligraphy. Rubricatores illuminated the large initials at the beginning of a page while miniatores illustrated the margins. Monks called illuminators painted intricate designs and biblical scenes on pages, to supplement the text. One of the most famous of these, the Book of Kells, was written around 800 a.d. and can still be seen in the library at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Some monks made tremendous strides in changing the acceptance of non-biblical writing. Thomas Aquinas rattled the foundations of the Church when, instead of denouncing early Greek thinkers, he read ancient texts to reconcile their philosophies with Christianity. The illuminations also went against the convention of "never paint a picture of Christ." These illustrated scenes became masterpieces, and aided in the peasants' understanding of biblical stories.
  14. 14. TROUBADOURS   Troubadour is the generic term for poets and minstrels who flourished in southern France and in Northern Italy from the 11th through the 13th centuries. Called trouveres in northern France and meistersingers in Germany, these artists elevated storytelling as an art, and often entertained huge crowds at fairs, weddings and other medieval celebrations. During this time, works from medieval monks had become tired. The public wasn't as interested in hymns, chronicles and treatises penned in medieval Latin. These new stories were sang, while music was played on strange, new musical instruments, brought back to Western Europe from the Crusades. Verses became quite complex in style and ranged in topics from satire, love, and politics, to debates, laments and spinning songs.
  15. 15. TROUBADOURS French lords wanted to hear tales of bravery about their own countrymen, and ladies were being swept away with epic love poems, as they practiced the rituals of Courtly Love. Professional singers who performed work penned by a troubadour were called jongleurs, and they might be accompanied by ioculators (jesters) and ystriones (actors).  Minstrels were found in every social class, with wealthy or noble troubadours traveling like royalty from town to town. 
  16. 16. EARLY WORKS   The most popular medieval works were the fabliaux, or fables. These humorous short stories, penned by authors from varying classes, enjoyed an immense audience. While most of these stories developed from earlier folk tales, social commentary was woven into the fable. Most fables were quite humorous and often bawdy. Recurring characters were visible in everyday life-merchants, students, lecherous husbands, and lusty, unfaithful wives. Romances blossomed in the 12th century from authors such as Chretien de Troyes and Marie de France. Some stories, like Galaeran, deal with starcrossed lovers who eventually find happiness together. Military themes can be found in tales such as Joufroi, where a knightly hero has both amorous and martial adventures.
  17. 17. EARLY WORKS A popular religious book was called the "Book of Hours," which had a bible verse for each hour of the day, and a calendar showing all the Church's feast days. Scribes also copied surviving Greek and Roman texts, though care would have to be taken to ensure these documents were not found to be heretical, and land the monk in jail, or be executed.  Most early medieval works were penned by authors who remain virtually anonymous. 
  18. 18. MEDIEVAL MASTERPIECES  La Chanson de Roland (the Song of Roland) remains one of the most studied medieval epic poems. This is the story of Roland, nephew to Charlemagne, King of France. The army is dispatched to Spain to fight invading Moors in a quasi-crusade. As the victorious French army heads home, Roland, bringing up the rear, is attacked. He had been given a horn to sound in time of desperation, but he blows this horn too late for help to arrive. While the poem is far from historical truth, this tale remains one of the great examples of early French literature.
  19. 19. MEDIEVAL MASTERPIECES  One of the greatest works in all of literature was penned in Italy during the Middle Ages. Dante Alighieri finished his La Divina Commedia (the Divine Comedy) in 1321. The first of the three volumes, the Inferno, is probably the best known and describes the afterlife for the wicked, where hell is comprised of nine descending circles and there is no forgiveness. The Ninth and lowest circle was reserved for Satan and betrayers of benefactors, kin, and country. Purgatorio and Paradiso, the remaining volumes of La Divina Commedia, continue Dante's journey through more of the afterlife.
  20. 20. MEDIEVAL MASTERPIECES  Medieval England thrilled to the adventures of King Arthur and his knights. This king, who supposedly grew up near Cornwall, led his armies in battles against the Angles and Saxons. He called his warriors knights, hundreds of years before codes of chivalry would make this word commonplace. The first stories about Arthur were actually penned in French in a work called "La Morte d'Arthur" (the Death of Arthur).
  21. 21. PRINTING Scribes were responsible for creating much of the printed material during the Middle Ages. Some began experimenting with ways to make books easier to reproduce, and eliminate human errors made in the copying process.  Medieval craftsmen, using ideas borrowed from the Chinese, carved entire scenes and stories into page-sized wooden blocks. These "block books" were much cheaper to make than hand-copied versions, and they became very popular. One of the best-known block books was the Biblia Paupernum (Bible of the Poor). The problem was, the blocks tended to wear out, and another would have to be carved in its place. These design flaws limited the pages counts of most books. 
  22. 22. PRINTING John Gutenberg, from Mainz, Germany began another experiment in the middle of the 15th century that would change the course of human history. His idea was to create individual letter blocks that could be organized to form a page, then re-used on another completely different page. He ran into problems right away.  Gutenberg's first letter sets were made of wood, and deteriorated much too quickly. Also, inks used for quill pens would not work on his printing press. He tried making the letters out of lead-the metal was too soft. He tried iron-the metal was too hard. He finally decided on creating molds for each, and melted a combination of metals to form the characters. 
  23. 23. PRINTING  Gutenberg tried inks used by Italian painters, made from lampblack and linseed oil, and finally was close to success. After exhausting his own fortune, Gutenberg enlisted the aid of partners to help him continue the project. He continued for years until 1456, when the first printed Bible was produced. But there was one other important development that made the printing press feasible. Vellum and parchment were fairly expensive, but larger quantities of paper were becoming available. This was another by-product of the Crusades, with Europeans learning this skill from the Arabs-who had learned it from Chinese.