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Encyclopedia > Matter of France
History of Literature
The Medieval and Renaissance Periods
Matter of Rome
Matter of France
Matter of Britain
Medieval literature
Arabic literature
13th century in literature
14th century in literature
European Renaissance Literature
15th century in literature

The Matter of France, also known as the Carolingian cycle is a body of legendary history that springs from the Old French medieval literature of the chansons de geste. Its tales were first developed in these epics, but the stories they told lived on after the medieval epics themselves were no longer widely read. A stone tablet containing part of the Epic of Gilgamesh The history of literature is the historical development of writings in prose or poetry which attempt to provide entertainment, enlightenment, or instruction to the reader/hearer/observer, as well as the development of the literary techniques used in the communication... According to the mediæval poet Jean Bodel, the Matter of Rome was the literary cycle made up of Greek and Roman mythology, together with episodes from the history of classical antiquity, focusing on military heroes like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. ... The Arthurian legend or the Matter of Britain is a name given collectively to the legends that concern the Celtic and legendary history of the British Isles, especially those centered on King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. ... Medieval literature is a broad subject, encompassing essentially all written works available in Europe and beyond during the Middle Ages (encompassing the one thousand years from the fall of the Western Roman Empire ca. ... Center For Arabic Culture (CAC) Christina Campo-Abdoun & Seifed-Din Abdoun http://cacac. ... See also: Pre 13th century in literature, other events of the 13th century, 14th century in literature, list of years in literature. ... See also: 13th century in literature, other events of the 14th century, 15th century in literature, list of years in literature. ... By region Italian Renaissance Northern Renaissance French Renaissance German Renaissance English Renaissance Renaissance literature is European literature over an extended period, usually considered to be initiated by Petrarch at the beginning of the Italian Renaissance, and sometimes taken to continue to the English Renaissance, including Shakespeare and into the seventeenth... See also: 14th century in literature, other events of the 15th century, 16th century in literature, list of years in literature. ... A legend (Latin, legenda, things to be read) is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude. ... Old French is a term sometimes used to refer to the langue doïl, the continuum of varieties of Romance language spoken in territories corresponding roughly to the northern half of modern France and parts of Belgium and Switzerland during the period roughly from 1000 to 1300 A.D... Medieval literature is a broad subject, encompassing essentially all written works available in Europe and beyond during the Middle Ages (encompassing the one thousand years from the fall of the Western Roman Empire ca. ... The chansons de geste, Old French for songs of heroic deeds, are the epic poetry that appears at the dawn of French literature. ... The epic is a broadly defined genre of poetry, and one of the major forms of narrative literature. ...


It was contrasted by medieval French writers with the Matter of Britain, the legendary history of the British Isles; and the Matter of Rome, which represented the medieval poets' interpretations of Greek mythology and the history of classical antiquity. The three names were bestowed by the twelfth century French poet Jean Bodel, author of the Chanson de Saisnes, a chanson de geste in which he wrote: The Arthurian legend or the Matter of Britain is a name given collectively to the legends that concern the Celtic and legendary history of the British Isles, especially those centered on King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into British and Irish Isles. ... According to the mediæval poet Jean Bodel, the Matter of Rome was the literary cycle made up of Greek and Roman mythology, together with episodes from the history of classical antiquity, focusing on military heroes like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. ... // Greek mythology consists in part of a large collection of narratives that explain the origins of the world and detail the lives and adventures of a wide variety of gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines. ... For other senses of this word, see history (disambiguation). ... It has been suggested that Greco-Roman be merged into this article or section. ... (11th century - 12th century - 13th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 12th century was that century which lasted from 1101 to 1200. ... Jean Bodel, who lived in the late twelfth century, was an Old French poet who wrote a number of chansons de geste. ...

Ne sont que iij matières à nul homme atandant,
De France et de Bretaigne, et de Rome la grant.
(There are but three literary cycles that no one should be without: the matter of France, of Britain, and of great Rome.)

Central figures of the Matter of France include Charlemagne and his paladins, especially Roland, hero of the Chanson de Roland, and Oliver, a hero who was frequently cast in conflict with the Muslim champion Fierabras. Originally, the Matter of France contained tales of war and martial valour, being focused on the conflict between the Franks and Saracens or Moors during the period of Charles Martel and Charlemagne. The Chanson de Roland, for example, is about the Battle of Roncevaux Pass during the Moorish invasion of southern France. As the genre matured, elements of fantasy and magic tended to accrue to the tales. The magic horse Bayard, for example, is a recurring figure in many of the tales. Literary cycles are groups of stories grouped around common figures, based on mythical figures or loosely on historic ones. ... Charlemagne (742 or 747 – 28 January 814) (also Charles the Great[1]; from Latin, Carolus Magnus[2]), son of King Pippin the Short and Bertrada of Laon, was king of the Franks from 768 to 814 and king of the Lombards from 774 to 814. ... Roland is girt with a sword by Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ... Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ... From the Greek cognate , in mythology and folklore, a hero (male) or heroine (female) is an eminent character archetype that quintessentially embodies key traits valued by its originating culture. ... The Song of Roland (La Chanson de Roland) is an 11th century Old French epic poem about the Battle of Roncevaux Pass (or Roncesvalles) fought by Roland of the Brittany Marches and his fellow paladins. ... Oliver is a given name, also a surname, of a normally very sexy boy usually a male given name, derived from the Old French given name Olivier, which may signify olive tree, though this may be a false etymology, and may be a corruption of a Germanic personal name, cognate... For other uses, including people named Islam, see Islam (disambiguation). ... Fierabras (from French a bras fier, on brave arm) or Ferumbras is a Saracen knight appearing in several chansons de geste and other material relating to the Matter of France. ... The United States detonated an atomic bomb over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. ... For other uses, see Franks (disambiguation). ... The term Saracen comes from Greek sarakenoi, which is itself derived from the Arabic word شرقيين sharqiyyin (easterners). The word was used in the early centuries of the Roman Empire to describe a nomadic Arab tribe from the Sinai Desert. ... It has been suggested that Moor religion be merged into this article or section. ... For the 13th century titular King of Hungary, see Charles Martel dAnjou. ... | width=50%|Charlemagnes Franks | width=50%|Basques |- !colspan=2|Commanders |- |Roland (?) |unknown |- !colspan=2|Strength |- |unknown |unknown |- !colspan=2|Casualties |- |Complete destruction of the army |unknown |} |} The Roncevaux Pass (==Background== This battle was the last of Charlemagnes first campaign to capture Spain, an attempt that ended in failure. ... A genre is a division of a particular form of art or utterance according to criteria particular to that form. ... // For other meanings see Fantasy (disambiguation) Fantasy is a genre of art that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. ... Magic/magick and sorcery are the influencing of events, objects, people and physical phenomena by mystical or paranormal means. ... Binomial name Equus caballus Linnaeus, 1758 The horse( (Equus caballus sometimes seen as a subspecies of the Wild Horse, Equus ferus caballus) is a large odd-toed ungulate mammal, one of ten modern species of the genus Equus. ... In the legends derived from the chansons de geste Bayard was a magic bay horse, renowned for his spirit, and who possessed the supernatural ability to adjust his size to his riders. ...


The traditional classification

About 1215 Bertrand de Bar-sur-Aube, in the introductory lines to his Girart de Vienne, set out a subdivision of the Matter of France into three cycles, which have been adopted by many modern critics as a useful means of grouping the chansons de geste. These are his words:

At Saint-Denis, in the great abbey, we find it written (I don’t doubt) in a book of noble lineage that there have been only three gestes in well-defended France (I think no-one will argue with me now).
The lordliest is that of the kings of France.
The next, it is right to say, was of Doon of the white beard, he of Mainz who had many lands. In his lineage were fierce and rugged people; they would have had the lordship of all of France, its power, its knighthood, but they were proud and jealous. Of that lineage, so full of treachery, was Ganelon who by his treason caused great sorrow in well-defended France when he committed in Spain the great felony that caused the death in pagan land of the Twelve Peers of France. You have heard tell in many a song that from the geste that came from Ganelon many a great knight was descended, fierce and bold and of very great fame. They would have been lords of the whole realm of France, but there was pride and treason in them. Through pride (we tell you truly) many a high-placed man has been thrown to earth, as were the angels in heaven (we know it in truth) who, for their crime, were thrown into the prison of hell where they will feel nothing but eternal pain. They lost the holy mansion of heaven by their pride and folly. Just so were Ganelon’s kin, who would have been so powerful and famous if they had not been so full of treason. Of this lineage, which did nothing but evil, was the second geste.
The third geste, which was much to be praised, was that of Garin de Monglane of the fierce countenance. In his lineage I can well testify that there was not a single coward or goood-for-nothing or traitor or vile flatterer; rather they were wise and bold knights and good fighters and noble warriors. Not once did they wish to betray a king of France; they strove to help their true lord and to advance his honour everywhere. They promoted Christendom and destroyed and confounded Saracens. This Garin of the fierce countenance had four sons; never were there bolder knights, I think, so that in a whole day one could not describe their prowess. The first son (I will not lie to you) was the fierce Hernaut of Beaulande. The second, as I have heard tell, was the praiseworthy Milon of Apulia. The third was Renier of Geneva, and the fourth was lord Girart the warrior.
(Girart de Vienne lines 8–67; translation after J. J. Duggan)

The cycles can be outlined as follows:

  • The Geste du roi, whose chief character is Charlemagne himself, seen as champion of Christianity. This cycle contains the best known of the chansons, the Chanson de Roland.
  • The Geste de Garin de Monglane, whose central character was Guillaume d'Orange. These dealt with knights who were typically younger sons, not heirs, and who seek land and glory through combat with the Infidels.
  • The Geste de Doon de Mayence, concerning traitors and rebels against royal authority.

For a list of chansons that can be attached to each of these cycles, see Chanson de geste. The Song of Roland (La Chanson de Roland) is an 11th century Old French epic poem about the Battle of Roncevaux Pass (or Roncesvalles) fought by Roland of the Brittany Marches and his fellow paladins. ... La Geste de Garin de Monglane is the second cycle of the three great cycles of chansons de geste created in the early days of the genre. ... Saint William of Gellone (755 - traditionally May 28, ca. ... For other uses, see inheritance (disambiguation). ... Doon de Mayence was a fictional hero of the Old French chansons de geste, who gives his name to the third cycle of the Charlemagne romances, those dealing with the feudal revolts. ... In law, treason is the crime of disloyalty to ones nation. ... The chansons de geste, Old French for songs of heroic deeds, are the epic poetry that appears at the dawn of French literature. ...


The Matter of France in later literature

After the period of the chanson de geste was over, the Matter of France lived on. Its most well known survival is in the Italian epics by Ludovico Ariosto, Matteo Maria Boiardo, Torquato Tasso, and a number of lesser authors who worked the material; their tales of Orlando Furioso ("The Madness of Roland") and Orlando Innamorato ("Roland in Love") were taken directly from the chansons de geste. These poems, in turn, were imitated in English by Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queene, although Spenser's work has been separated from the Matter of France and put in the setting of an imaginary faerie land. The epic is a broadly defined genre of poetry, and one of the major forms of narrative literature. ... Ludovico Ariosto (September 8, 1474 – July 6, 1533) was an Italian poet, author of the epic poem Orlando furioso (1516), Orlando Enraged. He was born at Reggio, in Emilia. ... Matteo Maria Boiardo (c. ... Torquato Tasso (March 11, 1544 – April 25, 1595) was an Italian poet of the 16th century, best known for his poem La Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered; 1575), in which he describes the imaginary combats between Christians and Muslims at the end of the First Crusade, during the siege of Jerusalem. ... Ruggiero Rescuing Angelica by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres Orlando Furioso is an epic poem written by Ludovico Ariosto in 1516. ... Orlando Innamorato is an epic poem written by the Italian Renaissance author Matteo Maria Boiardo. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Edmund Spenser Edmund Spenser (c. ... Una and the Lion by Briton Rivière The Faerie Queene is an epic poem by Edmund Spenser, first published in 1590 (the first half) with the more or less complete version being published in 1596. ...


Tales of the Matter of France were also found in Old Norse, where the Karlamagnus Saga was written in the thirteenth century in Norway; it contains a synopsis of the main stories of the cycle. Indeed, until the Celtic revival in Britain and Ireland breathed new life into the Arthurian cycle in the nineteenth century, the Matter of France and the Matter of Britain were more or less equally renowned divisions of medieval legend. Old Norse or Danish tongue is the Germanic language once spoken by the inhabitants of the Nordic countries (for instance during the Viking Age). ... (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ... The Celtic Revival, also known as the Irish Literary Revival, was begun by Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and William Butler Yeats in Ireland in 1896. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ...


External links


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