The Medieval Period
(1066 – 1485)
• UMAIR IFTIKHAR
The Medieval Period
(1066 – 1485)
The Norman Conquest , the end of Anglo Saxon period.
William, Duke of Normandy, defeated Harold, King of England
1066The Battle of Hastings
fought on Senlac Hill, seven miles from Hastings,
On September 28, 1066,
William landed in England at Pevensey, on Britain’s southeast coast, with
approximately 7,000 troops and cavalry.
On October 13, Harold arrived near Hastings with his army
first Norman king of England, Christmas Day, 1066
William King of England 1066
William the Conqueror, the most powerful duke in France
descendant of the Viking
ruled England with strength and efficiency
Within four years he established his rule all over the country
To eliminate arguments and establish a firm basis for awarding confiscated
lands, William ordered an extensive survey of all property, the results of
which were recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086.
William introduced into England the system of reciprocal loyalties called
feudalism. Under feudalism the land is the property of the king, not of the
tribe. He kept huge areas for himself, but made grants of land for his nobles
The Roman Catholic Church
the unifying force as well as powerful institutions.
The religious writings were very popular
Within 10 years of the Conquest only one bishop, of Worchester, and only 2
major monasteries remained under control of English abbots, the rest were
Normans appointed by the king, who controlled the wealth of these church
Later the relations between the crown and church became complex. Conflict
often arose between church and crown; in England it was settled by
The Roman Catholic Church was the unifying force of the age, as well as one
of England's most powerful institutions. Clergy and scholars at the abbeys
performed the traditional services of educating clergy and nobles and of
writing, translating, copying, gathering, and storing manuscripts.
The 3 Estates in the Middle Ages
The idea of estates, or orders,
was encouraged during the
Age, but this ordering was
Latin chiefly spoken, those who
pray, purpose was to save
French chiefly spoken, those who
fight, purpose was to protect—
allow for all to work in peace—
and provide justice
English spoken, those who work,
purpose was to feed and clothe
all above them
Characteristics of Medieval Literature
The miracle and morality play
Refers to the lifestyle and
moral code of medieval
The Medieval knight was
bound to the chivalric
code to be loyal to…
Chivalric ideals include...
Sir Gawain is an example
" Romance is a literary genre popular in the Middle Ages, dealing, in verse or
prose, with legendary, supernatural, or amorous subjects and characters.
The name refers to Romance languages and originally denoted any lengthy
composition in one of those languages.
Later the term was applied to tales specifically concerned with knights,
chivalry, and courtly love.
The romance and the epic are similar forms, but epics tend to be longer and
less concerned with courtly love." Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, King
Horn, Athelston, the song of Ronald(1098) are best examples of Medieval
The Ideal of Courtly Love
This relationship was modeled on the feudal relationship between
a knight and his liege lord.
The knight serves his courtly lady with the same obedience and
loyalty which he owes to his liege lord.
She is in complete control; he owes her obedience and submission
The knight's love for the lady inspires him to do great deeds, in order to
be worthy of her love or to win her favor.
“Courtly love" was not between husband
and wife because it was an idealized sort of
relationship that could not exist within the
context of "real life" medieval marriages.
In the middle ages, marriages amongst the
nobility were typically based on practical
and dynastic concerns rather than on love.
The lady is typically older, married, and
of higher social status than the knight
because she was modeled on the wife of
the feudal lord, who might naturally
become the focus of the young,
unmarried knights' desire.
Mystery plays were stories taken from the Bible.
Each play had four or five different scenes or acts.
The priests and monks were the actors.
Each scene or act was preformed at a different place in town and the people
moved from one stage to the next to watch the play.
The play usually ended outside the church so that the people would go to
church and hear a sermon after watching the play.
The Miracle play
The miracle play was about the life or actions of a saint, usually about the
actions that made that person a saint.
One popular Miracle play was about Saint George and the dragon.
Morality plays were designed to teach people a lesson in how to live their life
according to the rules of the church.
Sometimes these plays had elaborate sets, sometimes no sets at all.
It didn't seem to matter.
The people attended these plays.
They didn't have to, but it was a break from their normal daily lives.
Ballads- One of the most popular forms of literature in the
a narrative song.
Ballads told of common folks and of characters and events from legend and
Consists of stanzas that contain a quatrain , rhyme scheme ABAB
English Lyric Poetry- It was written in the 13t, 14th, 15th centuries and
remains anonymous. They are love-lyrics, French – inspired. They render a
new fascination with service to a fair lady rather than to a feudal king.
William Langland (1332-1400) and
He appears on the manuscripts of his poem
He was born probably near Malvern in 1332 where he was educated at the
The name of William Langland has a celebrity in the English language for his
singular work—The Book of Piers the Plowman. In the English literature of the
14th century, Langland’s Piers the Plowman stands out as the most renowned
Satire on the corrupt religious practice
Throws light on the ethical problems of that days.
The characters assumes by him is that of prophet, denouncing the sin of
society and encouraging men to aspire to higher life
He was a satiric poet. The feudal system is his ideal he desire no change in
that. All will be well if different order of society would do their duties.
John Gower (1325-1408)
He has important place in English Medieval poetry.
He is a great stylist.
He proved that English might complete with the other language which had
most distinguished themselves in poetry.
Works: confession Amantis which is conversation between poet and a divine
interpreter. He presents himself as moralist
Geoffrey Chaucer (1345-1400),
‘Father of English poetry’
a poet who demonstrated the potential of Middle English as a literary
He was the son of a wealthy London wine merchant; he became a page in a
noble household, and later a high official in the royal service.
He travelled widely in Europe negotiating financial treaties for the crown,
and thus became acquainted with the works of Dante, Boccaccio and
There are three stages in his work
at first he wrote in the French courtly style
the allegorical romance(The Romaunt of the Rose)
he came under the influence of Dante and Boccaccio, producing the
masterpiece Troylus and Cryseyde (c 1380). He borrowed freely from his
Italian source: this was standard medieval practice, as originality counted for
little but the weight of a revered authority much.
Chaucer made something unique out of the story about the son of the king of
Troy and his unfaithful lover.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1345-1400),
The Canterbury Tales of 1386, the most famous of Chaucer's works, is a
collection of stories told (so the framework) by 31 pilgrims resting in a tavern
on their way to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket.
The characters are introduced in the Prologue: they nearly all come from the
middle ranks: professional men such as a doctor, lawyer, an official; a
merchant, a sailor; there are craftsmen, servants, a woman who has outlived
five husbands; a nun, priests and monks.
Chronology of Chaucer's works
before 1372 The first part of The Romaunt of the Rose
1368-72 The Book of the Duchess
1378-83 The House of Fame
1380-2 The Parlement of Fowls
1382-6 Boece and Troilus and Criseyde
1380-7 Palamon and Arcite
c.1387 The Legend of Good Women
1388-1400 The Canterbury Tales
William Caxton (1424-1491)
William Caxton had a tremendous influence on the preservation of English
A respected translator, Caxton traveled extensively in Europe and probably
learned the printing trade in Germany.
After returning to England, he opened his own printing business. Before his
death fifteen years later,
he had printed practically all of the English literature available at the time,
including Morte d'Arthur and The Canterbury Tales.
Henry A. Beers :Brief History of English and American Literature
A new history of English Literature by B.R. MULLICK
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A brief history of English Medieval period (1066-1485)