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Encyclopedia > Medieval French literature

Series: French and
Francophone Literature

French Literature
By Category
French language
French literature is literature written in the French language; and especially, literature written in French by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written in other languages of France. ... French (français, langue française) is one of the most important Romance languages, outnumbered in speakers only by Spanish and Portuguese. ...

Historical Periods

Medieval
16th Century - 17th Century
18th Century -19th Century
20th Century - Contemporary French Renaissance literature is, for the purpose of this article, literature written in French (Middle French) from the French invasion of Italy in 1494 to 1600, or roughly the period from the reign of Charles VIII of France to the ascention of Henri IV of France to the throne. ... Louis XIV King of France and Navarre By Hyacinthe Rigaud (1701) French literature of the Seventeenth Century encompases the reigns of Henry IV of France, the Regency of Marie de Medici, Louis XIII of France, the Regency of Anne of Austria (during which the civil war called the Fronde occurred... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ...

Francophone

Francophone literature
Literature of Quebec
Postcolonial literature
Haitian literature
Francophone literature is literature written in the French language. ... This is an article about Literature in Quebec, a province of Canada. ... Postcolonial literature is a branch of literature concerned with the political and cultural independence of peoples formerly subjugated in colonial empires. ...

Writers

Writers - Novelists
Playwrights - Poets
Essayists
Short Story Writers

Forms

Novel - Poetry - Plays
French poetry is a category of French literature. ...

Genres

Science Fiction - Comics
Essay - Detective Fiction
French science fiction is a substantial genre within French literature. ... Tintin, one of the most famous Belgian comics Franco-Belgian comics are comics or comic books written in Belgium and France. ... An essay is a short work that treats of a topic from an authors personal point of view, often taking into account subjective experiences and personal reflections upon them. ...

Movements

Naturalism - Symbolism
Surrealism - Existentialism
Nouveau Roman
Theater of the Absurd Naturalism is an outgrowth of Realism, a prominent literary movement in late 19th century France and elsewhere. ... Surrealism is a philosophy, a cultural and artistic movement, and a term used to describe unexpected juxtapositions. ... Existentialism is a philosophical movement that views the individual, the self, the individuals experience, and the uniqueness therein as the basis for understanding the nature of human existence. ... Nouveau roman refers to certain 1950s French novels that diverged from classical literary genres. ... The Theatre of the Absurd is a phrase used in reference to particular plays written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the style of theatre which has evolved from their work. ...

Criticism & Awards

Literary theory - Critics
Literary Prizes Literary theory is the theory (or the philosophy) of the interpretation of literature and literary criticism. ...

Most visited

Molière - Racine - Balzac
Stendhal - Flaubert
Emile Zola - Marcel Proust
Samuel Beckett - Albert Camus
Molière, engraved frontispiece to his Works Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known as Molière (January 15, 1622 – February 17, 1673), was a French theatre writer, director and actor, one of the masters of comic satire. ... Jean Racine (December 22, 1639 - April 21, 1699) was a French dramatist, one of the big three of 17th century France (along with Molière and Corneille). ... Honoré de Balzac Honoré de Balzac (May 20, 1799 – August 18, 1850) was a French novelist. ... Marie-Henri Beyle (January 23, 1783 - March 23, 1842), better known as Stendhal, was a 19th century French writer. ... Gustave Flaubert Gustave Flaubert (December 12, 1821 – May 8, 1880), French novelist who is counted among the greatest Western novelists, known especially for his first published novel Madame Bovary, and for his scrupulous devotion to his art and style, best exemplified by his endless search for le mot juste (the... mile Zola (April 2, 1840 - September 29, 1902) was an influential French novelist, the most important example of the literary school of naturalism, and a major figure in the political liberalization of France. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Samuel Beckett Samuel Barclay Beckett (April 13, 1906 – December 22, 1989) was an Irish playwright, novelist and poet. ... Albert Camus Albert Camus (November 7, 1913 – January 4, 1960) was a French author and philosopher and one of the principal luminaries (with Jean-Paul Sartre) of existentialism. ...

France Portal

Medieval French literature is, for the purpose of this article, literature written in Oïl languages (including Old French and early Middle French) during the period from the eleventh century to the end of the fifteenth century. Open Directory Project: Literature World Literature Electronic Text Archives Magazines and E-zines Online Writing Writers Resources Libraries, Digital Cataloguing, Metadata Distance Learning Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Classicism in Literature The Universal Library, by Carnegie Mellon University Project Gutenberg Online Library Abacci - Project Gutenberg texts matched with Amazon... 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... Middle French (le moyen français) is a historical division of the French language which covers the period from (roughly) 1340 to 1610. ...


The material and cultural conditions in France and associated territories around the year 1100 unleashed what the scholar Charles Homer Haskins termed the "Renaissance of the 12th century" and, for over the next hundred years, writers, "jongleurs", "clercs" and poets produced an enormous quantity of remarkable creative works in all genres. Although the dynastic struggles of the Hundred Years War and the international Black Death epidemic of the fourteenth century in many ways curtailed this creative production, the fifteenth century laid the groundwork for the French Renaissance. For alternate uses, see Number 1100. ... Charles Homer Haskins (1870-1937) was an American historian of the Middle Ages, and advisor to US President Woodrow Wilson. ... This article is in need of attention. ... Illustration of the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411). ...


For historical background go to History of France, France in the Middle Ages or Middle Ages // Gaul Main article: Gaul Settled mainly by the Gauls and other Celtic peoples (apart from a shrinking area of Basque population in the southwest and Ligurian population on the southern coast), the area of modern France comprised the bulk of the region of Gaul (Latin: Gallia) under the rule of... During the latter years of the elderly Charlemagnes rule, the Vikings made advances along the northern and western perimeters of his kingdom. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ...


For other national literary traditions, go to Medieval literature 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. ...

Contents


Language

Up to roughly 1340, the Romance languages spoken in the Middle Ages in the Northern half of what is today's France are collectively known as "ancien français" ("Old French") or "langues d'oïl" (languages where one says "oïl" to mean "yes"): following the Germanic invasions of France in the fifth century, these Northern dialects had developed distinctly different phonetic and syntactical structures from the languages spoken in Southern France (collectively known as "langues d'oc" or the Occitan language family, of which the largest group is the Provençal language). The Western peninsula of Brittany spoke Breton, a Celtic language. Catalan was spoken in the South, and Germanic languages and Francoprovençal were spoken in the East. Events January 26 - King France June 24 - The Battle of Sluys is fought between the naval fleets of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France. ... The Romance languages, also called Romanic languages or New Latin Languages, are a subset of the Italic languages, specifically the descendants of the Latin dialects spoken by the common people in what is known as Latin Europe (Italian/Portuguese/Spanish Europa latina, French Europe latine, Romanian Europa latină) as Vulgar... 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... OC redirects here. ... Provençal (Prouvençau in Provençal language) is one of several dialects of the Romance language Occitan, which is spoken by a minority of people in southern France and other areas of France. ... Traditional coat of arms This article is about the historical duchy and French province, as well as the cultural area of Brittany. ... Breton (Brezhoneg) is a Celtic language spoken by some of the inhabitants of Brittany in France. ... Catalan (Català, Valencià) is a Romance language understood by as many as 12 million people in portions of Spain, France, Andorra and Italy, although the majority of active Catalan speakers are in Spain. ... Francoprovençal is a Romance language consisting of dialects that can be found in Italy (Valle dAosta, Piemonte, Calabria, Apulia), in Switzerland (cantons Fribourg, Valais, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Geneva, non-German speaking parts of Bern, but not Jura, where the dialects spoken are French) and in France (Dauphinois, Lyonnais...


The various dialects of Old French developed into what are recognised as regional languages today. Languages which developed from dialects of Old French include: Bourguignon, Champenois, Franc-Comtois, Francien (theoretical), Gallo, Lorrain, Norman, Anglo-Norman (spoken in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066), Picard, Poitevin-Saintongeais, and Walloon. A regional language is a language spoken in a part of a country - it may be a small area, a federal state or province, or a wider area. ... Burgundian is either of the following; An extinct language of the Germanic language group spoken by the Burgundians. ... Champenois is a language spoken by a minority of people in France and in Belgium. ... Franc-Comtois is a language spoken by a minority of people in Franche-Comté. It is one of the langues doïl and is a regional language of France. ... Francien is a term applied to the langue doïl spoken in the Paris region (Île-de-France) before the establishment of the French language as a standard language. ... Gallo is a regional language of France, traditionally spoken in Eastern Brittany. ... Lorrain is a language spoken by a minority of people in Lorraine in France and in Gaume in Belgium. ... The Norman language is a Romance language, one of the Oïl languages. ... The Anglo-Norman language is the name given to the variety of Norman spoken by the Anglo-Normans, the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the conquest by William of Normandy in 1066. ... Picard is a language closely related to French, and as such is one of the larger group of Romance languages. ... Poitevin-Saintongeais is a language spoken by a minority of people in Poitou-Charentes. ... Walloon (Walon) is a regional Romance language spoken in Belgium. ...


Because of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, medieval French literature also includes works produced in the Anglo-Norman realm, including England, from (1066-1204). For specific information on this literature, go to the article Anglo-Norman literature. Bayeux Tapestry depicting events leading to the Battle of Hastings The Norman Conquest was the conquest of the Kingdom of England by William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy), in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings and the subsequent Norman control of England. ... Events January 6 - Harold II is crowned King of England the day after Edward the Confessor dies. ... Anglo-Norman literature is literature composed in the Anglo-Norman language developed during the period 1066-1204 when the Duchy of Normandy and England were united in the Anglo-Norman realm. ...


From 1340 to the beginning of the seventeenth century, a generalized French language became clearly distinguished from the other competing Oïl languages. This is refered to as Middle French ("moyen français"). French (français, langue française) is one of the most important Romance languages, outnumbered in speakers only by Spanish and Portuguese. ... Middle French (le moyen français) is a historical division of the French language which covers the period from (roughly) 1340 to 1610. ...


For more information of the development of the French language, see French language French (français, langue française) is one of the most important Romance languages, outnumbered in speakers only by Spanish and Portuguese. ...


For more information of the development of the other languages spoken in France, see Languages of France There are a number of languages of France, although the French language is by far the most widely spoken and the only official language of the country. ...


For more information on medieval literature written in the South of France, see Provençal literature Provençal literature is much more easily defined than the Provençal language in which it is expressed. ...


The vast majority of literary production in Old French is in verse; the development of prose as a literary form was a late phenomenon (in the late Middle Ages, many of the romances and epics were converted into prose versions). The French language does not have a significant stress accent (like English) or long and short syllables (like Latin). This means that the French metric line is not determined by the number of beats, but by the number syllables. The most common metric lengths are the ten-syllable line ("décasyllabe"), the eight-syllable line ("octosyllabe") and the twelve-syllable line (the "alexandrine"). Verses could be combined in a variety of ways: blocks of assonanced lines of varying lengths are called "laisses"; another frequent form is the rhymed couplet. The choise of verse form was generally dictated by the genre. The Old French epics ("chansons de geste") are usually written in ten-syllable assonanced "laisses", while the chivalric romance ("roman") was usually written in octosyllabic rhymed couplets. Verse is a writing that uses meter as its primary organisational mode, as opposed to prose, which uses grammatical and discoursal units like sentences and paragraphs. ... Prose is writing distinguished from poetry by its greater variety of rhythm and its closer resemblance to the patterns of everyday speech. ... EPIC might be an acronym or abbreviation for: Electronic Privacy Information Center Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing Enhanced Programmable ircII Client El Paso Intelligence Center End Poverty In California European Privatisation and Investment Corporation Sometimes it is also used to refer to Epic Games game development company. ... In linguistics, stress is the emphasis given to some syllables (often no more than one in each word, but in many languages, long words have a secondary stress a few syllables away from the primary stress, as in the words cóunterfòil or còunterintélligence. ... A long syllable is one that is emphasized, or stressed. ... The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. ... Alternate meaning: Alexandrine of Denmark An alexandrine is a metrical verse of iambic hexameter - a line of six feet or measures (iambs), each of which has two syllables with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, or a short syllable followed by a long syllable, as in the word... Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds within a short passage of verse or prose. ... A couplet is a pair of lines of verse that form a unit. ...


For more on poetic meter, see Meter (poetry) Metre (American spelling: meter) describes the regular linguistic sound patterns of verse. ...


Orality and Transmission

The Middle Ages was an oral culture; literacy was reserved for an educated elite of clercs and chancellery officials. Furthermore, before the advent of the printing press, all transcriptions were done by hand. These facts have a number of important implications for the history of French literature: Oral culture is a tradition all over the world. ... The printing press is a mechanical device for printing many copies of a text on rectangular sheets of paper. ...

  1. The very existence of a text implies that someone transcribed or wrote it. Mistakes in the transcription, or clerical censorship can affect the text that has survived. Different performances of the work produce different versions. Given the system of hand-written copies, errors and missed passages are common. In analysing medieval documents, scholars try to reconstruct -- from all available copies of a text -- the presumed state of the original performance or text, but this is often impossible. Certain stories -- like Tristan and Yseult -- exist only in a fragmentary state and were probably never told as one complete narrative until the 13th century.
  2. It is hard to judge in what way the work was originally performed. Was it read aloud, sung a capella or accompanied with music? Did the "jongleur" use a script or improvise? This question of the possible "non-written composition" of highly organized literary works is directly linked to the "oral poet" controversy surrounding Homer.

The "book" in the Renaissance is usually called a codex; its pages are made from parchment or vellum (stretched lamb or calf skin) and these pages can be scraped and reused if needed. Experts have been able to use modern imaging techniques to rediscover some texts which have been abraded in this way. Medieval texts sometimes have illustrations; this is especially true of prestigious and devotional books for nobles. This form of illustration is called illumination. Illuminated manuscripts often have fanciful images that come from the medieval fable or from popular fiction. Censorship is the use of governmental power to control speech and other forms of human expression. ... A cappella music is vocal music or singing without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. ... Orature corresponds in the sphere of the spoken (oral) word to literature as literature operates in the domain of the written word. ... Bust of Homer in the British Museum For other uses, see Homer (disambiguation). ... A codex (Latin for book; plural codices) is a handwritten book from late Antiquity or the Early Middle Ages. ... German parchmenter, 1568 Parchment is a material for the pages of a book or codex, made from fine calf skin, sheep skin or goat skin. ... Vellum (Latin for the animals wool hair) has two meanings: A sort of parchment, a material for the pages of a book or codex, usually made from calf skin. ... In the strictest definition of illuminated manuscript, only manuscripts decorated with gold or silver, like this miniature of Christ in Majesty from the Aberdeen Bestiary (folio 4v), would be considered illuminated. ... In its strict sense a fable is a short story or folk tale embodying a moral, which may be expressed explicitly at the end as a maxim. ...


A great number of medieval texts no longer exist; like many Latin and Greek works from the ancient world, fires, worms, floods, the reuse of books and disregard have eliminated many works that only exist today as titles in other works.


Early Texts

The earliest extant French literary texts date from the eleventh century. The first literary works written in Old French were saints' lives. The Canticle of Saint Eulalie, written in the second half of the ninth century, is generally accepted as the first such text. It is a short poem that recounts the martyrdom of a young girl. Hagiography is the study of saints. ...


The most well-known of the early Old French saints' lives is the Vie de Saint Alexis, the life of Saint Alexis, a translation/rewriting of a Latin legend. Saint Alexis fled from his family's home in Rome on his wedding night and dwelled as a hermit in Syria until a mystical voice began telling people of his holiness. In order to avoid the earthly honor that came with such fame, he left Syria and was driven back to Rome, where he lived as a beggar at his family's house, unrecognized by all until his death. He was only identified later when the pope read his name in a letter held in the dead saint's hand. Interestingly enough, even though the saint left his family in order to devote his life more fully to God, the poem makes clear that his father, mother, and wife are saved by the Alexis' intercession and join him in Paradise.


"Chanson de geste"

At the beginning of the 13th century, Jean Bodel, in his "Chanson de Saisnes", divided medieval French narrative literature into three "matters": Jean Bodel, who lived in the late twelfth century, was an Old French poet who wrote a number of chansons de geste. ...

The first of these groups concerns the "chanson de geste" ("song of exploits" or "song of (heroic) deeds"), an epic poem typcally written in ten-syllable assonanced "laisses". The chief theme of the earliest French epics was the court of Charlemagne, Charles Martel and Charles the Bald and their wars against the Moors and Saracens who invaded the Iberian peninsula and southern France. Approximately one hundred of the poems themselves survive, in manuscripts that date from the twelfth to the fifteenth century. The Matter of France is a body of mythology and legend that springs from the Old French medieval literature of the chansons de geste. ... The Matter of Britain is a name given collectively to the legends that concern the Celtic and legendary history of the British Isles, centering around King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. ... King Arthur is an important figure in the mythology of Britain. ... A Breton lai, also known as a narrative lay or simply a lay, is a form of medieval French and English romance literature. ... The chansons de geste, Old French for songs of heroic deeds, are the epic poetry that appears at the dawn of French literature. ... Charlemagne is also the name of a column in The Economist on European affairs Charlemagne (c. ... Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer, German: Karl Martell) (August 23, 686 – October 22, 741) was born in Herstal, in what is now Wallonia, Belgium, the illegitimate son of Pepin II (635 or 640 - December 16, 714) and his concubine Alpaida or Chalpaida. ... Charles the Bald - Detail from a painting in the First Bible of Charles the Bald, painted ca. ... For the terrain type, see: Heath (habitat). ... The term Saracen comes from Greek sarakenoi. ... topographic map of the Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula, or Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe. ... A manuscript (Latin manu scriptus, written by hand), strictly speaking, is any written document that is put down by hand, in contrast to being printed or reproduced some other way. ... (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. ... (14th century - 15th century - 16th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 15th century was that century which lasted from 1401 to 1500. ...


For his part, Bertrand de Bar-sur-Aube, in his "Girard de Vienne" (c.1215) divided the "chansons de geste", into three cycles, which revolved around three main characters. The cycles are named after their chief character or his ancestor, and each cycle had a central theme, such as loyalty to a feudal chief, or the defence of Christianity. The cycles were: Literary cycles are groups of stories grouped around common figures, based on mythical figures or loosely on historic ones. ... Feudalism comes from the Late Latin word feudum, itself borrowed from a Germanic root *fehu, a commonly used term in the Middle Ages which means fief, or land held under certain obligations by feodati. ... Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament writings of his early followers. ...

  • The Geste du roi, whose chief character was Charlemagne or his heirs, and whose theme was his role as the divine 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 William of Orange. These dealt with knights who were typically younger sons without an inheritance who sought land and glory through combat with the Saracens.
  • The Geste de Doon de Mayence (or the "rebel vassal cycle"); this cycle was concerned with rebels against (often unjust) royal authority and its most famous characters were Renaud de Montauban and Girart de Roussillon.

New "chansons de geste" tended to be produced and incorporated into the existing literature in two ways: 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. ... Garin de Monglane, or Montglane, is a fictional aristocrat who gives his name to the second cycle of Old French chansons de geste. ... Saint William of Gellone (755 - traditionally May 28, ca. ... 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. ... Renaud de Montauban, also known as Rinaldo di Montalbano, was a fictional hero who was introduced to literature in a twelfth century Old French chanson de geste. ...

  • A separate period or adventure in the life of a established hero was told (for example, his childhood).
  • The adventures of one of the ancestors or descendants of an established hero was told.

This method of epic expansion, with its obsession with blood line, was to be an important compositional technique throughout the middle ages. It also underscores the symbolic weight placed within this culture on family honor, paternal fidelity and on the idea of proving one's filial worth.


The oldest and most celebrated of the "chansons de geste" is The Song of Roland (around 1098) of unknown authorship, which is seen by some as the national epic of France (comparable with "Beowulf" in England and The Song of the Nibelungs in Germany). This text comes three years after Pope Urban's call (1095) for the First Crusade and its plot is clearly a glorification of the crusader ethos. 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. ... EPIC might be an acronym or abbreviation for: Electronic Privacy Information Center Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing Enhanced Programmable ircII Client El Paso Intelligence Center End Poverty In California European Privatisation and Investment Corporation Sometimes it is also used to refer to Epic Games game development company. ... The first page of Beowulf This article describes Beowulf, the epic poem. ... The Nibelungenlied is an epic poem in Middle High German that takes Burgundian kings as its subject matter. ... The First Crusade was launched in 1095 by Pope Urban II to regain control of the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Christian Holy Land from Muslims. ...


For discussion of the much debated origins of these epics, see Chanson de geste The chansons de geste, Old French for songs of heroic deeds, are the epic poetry that appears at the dawn of French literature. ...


The "chansons de geste" are a popular literature for a warrior class. They often use an assortment of stock characters: the valiant hero, the brave traitor, the shifty or cowardly traitor, the Saracen, the giant, and so forth. But they also reveal much of the fears and feudal conflicts that the knight class found itself in. Kings are shown as vain, foolish, old or wily. Insults within the shame culture of the period provoke bloody civil wars, as too competitivity among noble families and knights. The term Saracen comes from Greek sarakenoi. ...


As the genre matured, it began to borrow elements from the French "roman" and the role of love became increasingly important. In some later chansons de geste, an element of self-parody also appears. In contemporary usage, parody is a form of satire that imitates another work of art in order to ridicule it. ...


Important "chansons de geste" and their "family":


Geste du roi:

  • The Song of Roland (1098-1100) - the Oxford text (there exist other versions of the story, including an Occitan version)
  • Fierabras (1170)
  • Aspremont (c.1190-1200)
  • Huon de Bordeaux (1191)
  • Chanson de Saisnes - Jean Bodel (1200)

Geste de Garin de Monglane: 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. ... Huon of Bordeaux is the title character of a 13th century French romance (chanson de geste). ... Jean Bodel, who lived in the late twelfth century, was an Old French poet who wrote a number of chansons de geste. ...

  • Chanson de Guillaume (c.1100)
  • Couronnement de Louis (1130)
  • Charroi de Nîmes (1140)
  • Prise d'Orange (1150?)
  • Aliscans (1165)
  • Aymeri de Narbonne - Bertrand de Bar-sur-Aube (1190-1217)
  • Girart de Vienne - Bertrand de Bar-sur-Aube (1190-1217)

Geste de Doön de Mayence: Saint William of Gellone (755 - traditionally May 28, ca. ...

  • Girart de Roussillon (1160-1170)
  • Renaud de Montauban or Quatre fils Aymon (end of the 12th century)
  • Raoul de Cambrai (end of the 12th century)
  • Doön de Mayence (mid 13th century)

Renaud de Montauban, also known as Rinaldo di Montalbano, was a fictional hero who was introduced to literature in a twelfth century Old French chanson de geste. ... 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. ...

"Roman"

Miniature from a manuscript of the Roman de la Rose (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce 195), folio 1r, portrait of Guillaume de Lorris.
Enlarge
Miniature from a manuscript of the Roman de la Rose (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce 195), folio 1r, portrait of Guillaume de Lorris.

Jean Bodel's other two categories -- the "Matter of Rome" and the "Matter of Brittany (or Britain)" -- concern the French romance or "roman". The term "roman" signifies, roughly, "vernacular" (i.e. not Latin), but it is used to designate narrative poetry ("romance") usually written in octosyllabic rhymed couplets and telling stories of chivalry and love. Jean Bodel, who lived in the late twelfth century, was an Old French poet who wrote a number of chansons de geste. ... The Matter of Britain is a name given collectively to the legends that concern the Celtic and legendary history of the British Isles, centering around King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. ... As a literary genre, romance refers to a style of heroic prose and verse narrative current in Europe from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. ... sheshoKKKK Categories: Sociolinguistics | Language varieties and styles ...


The most famous "romans" are those of the "Matter of Brittany" dealing with Arthurian romance, the stories of Tristan and Isolde, the heroic legend of the doomed utopia of Camelot and the Holy Grail. Much of this material derives from Breton (Celtic) legends. The most important of these writers was Chrétien de Troyes (twelfth century). King Arthur is an important figure in the mythology of Britain. ... Tristan und Isolde is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner. ... Camelot is the name of the stronghold of the legendary King Arthur, from which he fought many of the battles that made up his life. ... In Christian mythology, the Holy Grail was the dish, plate, cup or vessel used by Jesus at the Last Supper, said to possess miraculous powers. ... Breton can refer to: The Breton language A person from Brittany Author André Breton This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Chrétien de Troyes wrote in Champagne, France, during the last half of the twelfth century. ...


The "Matter of Rome" concerns romances that take place in the ancient world, such as romances dealing with Alexander the Great, Troy, the Aeneid and Oedipus. Yet Bodel's category leaves little place for another important group of romances: those adventurous romances which take place often in Byzantium. Alexander the Great fighting the Persian king Darius (Pompeii mosaic, from a 3rd century BC original Greek painting, now lost). ... Walls of the excavated city of Troy (Turkey) This article is about the city of Troy / Ilion as described in the works of Homer, and the location of an ancient city associated with it. ... The Aeneid is a Latin epic written by Virgil in the 1st century BC that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy where he became the ancestor of the Romans. ... Å’dipus and the Sphinx, from an 1879 illustration from Stories from the Greek Tragedians by Alfred Church Oedipus (Greek , Oidipous, swollen-foot; rarely ; Latin Oedipus) or Å’dipus was the mythical king of Thebes, son of Laius and Jocasta, who, unknowingly, killed his father and married his mother. ...


Sometimes linked with the "roman" are the Breton lais, narrative ballads of Brittany by Marie de France, many of which have Celtic themes and origins. A Breton lai, also known as a narrative lay or simply a lay, is a form of medieval French and English romance literature. ... A ballad is a story in song, usually a narrative song or poem. ... Marie de France was a poet, in France and England during the late 12th century. ... A Celtic cross. ...


Important "Roman Matter" romances of the 12th century

  • Roman de Thèbes
  • Roman d'Enéas (1160)
  • Roman de Troie (1154-1173)
  • Roman d'Alexandre (1177) - this romance uses a twelve-syllable verse and is the reason why this verse length is termed alexandrine

Important Byzantine and adventure romances of the 12th century Alternate meaning: Alexandrine of Denmark An alexandrine is a metrical verse of iambic hexameter - a line of six feet or measures (iambs), each of which has two syllables with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, or a short syllable followed by a long syllable, as in the word...

  • Flore and Blanchefleur
  • Florimont - Aimon de Varenne (1188)
  • Guillaume d'Angleterre - sometimes ascribed to Chrétien de Troyes
  • Robert le Diable

Important Breton romances of the 12th century Chrétien de Troyes wrote in Champagne, France, during the last half of the twelfth century. ...

Important romances of the 13th and 14th centuries: Wace (c. ... Chrétien de Troyes wrote in Champagne, France, during the last half of the twelfth century. ... Chrétien de Troyes wrote in Champagne, France, during the last half of the twelfth century. ... Chrétien de Troyes wrote in Champagne, France, during the last half of the twelfth century. ... Chrétien de Troyes wrote in Champagne, France, during the last half of the twelfth century. ... Chrétien de Troyes wrote in Champagne, France, during the last half of the twelfth century. ... Robert de Boron (also spelled in the manuscripts Bouron, Beron) was a French poet of the 13th century, originally from the village of Boron, in the département of Montbéliard. ... Tristan (Latin/Brythonic: Drustanus; Welsh: Trystan; also known as Tristran, Tristram etc), was a Cornish hero from folklore, and one of the Knights of the Round Table whose story is told in the Matter of Britain. ... Tristan (Latin/Brythonic: Drustanus; Welsh: Trystan; also known as Tristran, Tristram etc), was a Cornish hero from folklore, and one of the Knights of the Round Table whose story is told in the Matter of Britain. ...

The most important romance of the 13th century is the Romance of the Rose which breaks considerably from the concentions of the chivalric adventure story: in a dream a lover comes upon a garden and meets various allegorical figures. The second part of the work (written by Jean de Meun) expands on the initial material with scientific and mythological discussions. The novel would have an enormous impact on French literature up to the Renaissance. Le Morte dArthur (The Death of Arthur)—the title is actually spelled as Le Morte Darthur in the first printing and also in some modern editions—is Sir Thomas Malorys compilation of some French and English Arthurian romances. ... Mirth and Gladness lead a Dance in this miniature from a manuscript of the Roman de la Rose in the Bodleian Library (MS Douce 364, folio 8r). ... Guillaume de Lorris (born 12XX) was a French epic poet, and was the author of the first section of the Romance of the Rose. ... Jean de Meun or Jean de Meung (c. ... The Roman de la Rose is a late medieval French work of fiction in allegorical dream form. ...


Lyric Poetry

Medieval French lyric poetry was indebted to the poetic and cultural traditions in Southern France and Provence -- including Toulouse, Poitiers, and the Aquitaine region -- where "langue d'oc" was spoken (Occitan language); in their turn, the Provençal poets were greatly influenced by poetic traditions from the Arab and Norman-Sicilian world. The Occitan or Provençal poets were called troubadours, from the word "trobar" (to find, to invent). Lyric poets in Old French are called "trouvères", using the Old French version of the word. Provence is a former Roman province and is now a region of southeastern France, located on the Mediterranean Sea adjacent to Frances border with Italy. ... The Capitole, the 18th century city hall of Toulouse and best known landmark in the city; in the foreground is the Place du Capitole, a hub of urban life at the very center of the city Toulouse (pronounced in standard French, in local Toulouse accent) (Occitan: Tolosa, pronounced ) is a... Location within France Poitiers (population 85,000) is a small city located in west central France. ... Capital Bordeaux Area 41,309 km² Regional President Alain Rousset ( PS) (since 1998) Population   - 2004 estimate   - 1999 census   - Density (Ranked 6th) 3,049,000 2,908,359 74/km² (2004) Arrondissements 18 Cantons 235 Communes 2,296 Départements Dordogne Gironde Landes Lot-et-Garonne Pyrénées-Atlantiques Aquitaine... OC redirects here. ... For the article about the night club in West Hollywood, California, see: Troubadour (nightclub). ...


The troubadours were amazingly creative in the development of verse forms and poetic genres, but their greatest impact on medieval literature was perhaps in their elaboration of complex code of love and service called "fin amors" or, more generally, courty love. The "fin amors" tradition appears at roughly the same time in Europe as the Cult of the Virgin Mary, and the two have obvious similarities. In the "fin amors" tradition, the poet pledges his service to his lady ("dame", usually a married woman), in much the same way a knight or vassal pledges service to his lord. In the poems of the troubadours, the lady is frequently cold, distant, or upset with the poet and demands that he prove his service to her; the poet, for his part, is generally tormented by his passion, and his poems are often desperate pleas to his lady so that she might grant him some favor. In some troubadour poetry, the "favor" sought for is decidedly sexual, but in others there is a rarified notion of love as spiritual and moral force. For more information on the troubadour tradition, see Provençal literature. Court of Love in Provence in the 14th Century (after a manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris). ... Provençal literature is much more easily defined than the Provençal language in which it is expressed. ...


Trouvère poets of the 12th and 13th centuries:

By the late 13th century, the poetic tradition in France had begun to develop in ways that differed significantly from the troubadour poets. Richard I of England, as a bronze, brandishes his sword outside the Palace of Westminster Richard I (September 8, 1157 - April 6, 1199) was King of England from 1189 to 1199. ... Adam de la Halle (also known as Adam le Bossu (Adam the Hunchback); 1250?-1306) was a French-born troubadour, poet and musician, who broke with the long-established tradition of writing liturgical poetry and music to be an early founder of secular theater in France. ...


French poets from the late 13th to the 15th centuries:

The last three poets on this list deserve further comment. Guillaume de Machaut (around 1300 – 1377), was a French poet and composer of the late Medieval era. ... Eustache Deschamps (1328-1415) was a medieval French poet. ... Christine de Pizan, showing the interior of an apartment at the end of the 14th or commencement of the 15th century Christine de Pizan (circa 1365 - circa French poet and arguably the first female author in Europe to make a living from being a writer (Marie de France being the... Charles of Valois, Duc dOrléans (November 24, 1394 – January 5, 1465) became Duke of Orléans in 1407, following the murder of his father, Louis of Valois on the orders of Duke John-the-Fearless of Burgundy. ... François Villon (ca. ...


Charles, duc d'Orléans was a noble and head of one of the most powerful families in France during the Hundred Years War. Captured in the Battle of Agincourt, he was a prisoner of the English from 1415-1441 and his ballades often speak of loss and isolation. His son would come to be Louis XII of France. Charles of Valois, Duc dOrléans (November 24, 1394 – January 5, 1465) became Duke of Orléans in 1407, following the murder of his father, Louis of Valois on the orders of Duke John-the-Fearless of Burgundy. ... This article is in need of attention. ... The Battle of Agincourt was fought on October 25, 1415, Saint Crispins Day, in northern France as part of the Hundred Years War. ... Louis XII Louis XII the Father of the People (French: Louis XII le Père du Peuple) (June 27, 1462 - January 1, 1515) was King of France from 1498-January 1, 1515. ...


Christine de Pisan was one of the most prolific writers of her age; her "Cité des Dames" is considered a kind of "feminist manifesto". Christine de Pizan, showing the interior of an apartment at the end of the 14th or commencement of the 15th century Christine de Pizan (circa 1365 - circa French poet and arguably the first female author in Europe to make a living from being a writer (Marie de France being the...


François Villon was a student and vagabond whose two poetic "testaments" or "wills" are celebrated for their portrayal of the urban and university environment of Paris and their scabrous wit, satire and verbal puns. The image of Villon as vagabond poet seems to have gained almost mythic status in the 16th century and this figure would be championed by poetic rebels of the 19th century and 20th centuries (see Poète maudit). François Villon (ca. ...


Finally, some of the earliest medieval music has lyrics composed in Old French by the earliest composers known by name. Guillaume de Machaut is the first well-known composer of secular music, and he composed his own lyrics. A musician plays the vielle in a 14th century medieval manuscript. ... Guillaume de Machaut (around 1300 – 1377), was a French poet and composer of the late Medieval era. ... This article concerns secularity, that is, being secular, in various senses. ...


Poetic forms used by medieval French poets include:

The ballade was a verse form consisting of three (sometimes five) stanzas, each with the same metre, rhyme scheme and last line, with a shorter concluding stanza (an envoi). ... For the city in Chad, see the article Laï. A Lai was a song form composed in northern Europe, mainly France and Germany, from the 13th to the late 14th century. ... A virelai is a form of medieval French verse used often in poetry and music. ... The chant royal is a poetic form that consists of five eleven-line stanzas with a rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-c-c-d-d-e-d-E and a five-line envoi rhyming d_d_e_d_E or a seven_line envoi c_c_d_d_e_d_E. It was introduced into French poetry in the 14th... Aube is a département in the northeastern part of France named after the Aube River. ...

Theater

The drama in France, as in other countries in Europe, was in origin the offspring of the Church. The earliest plays were simply dramatizations of the ritual, particularly that connected with Christmas and Easter (see Mystery play). When the plays were transferred from the church to the open air and French was substituted for Latin, the drama inevitably developed along lines of its own. Farces of a realistic, humorous, and even coarse type became popular. Mystery plays are one of the earliest formally developed plays in medieval Europe. ...

Other Forms

A large body of fables survive in Old French; these include (mostly anonymous) literature dealing with the recurring trickster character of Reynard the Fox. Marie de France was also active in this genre, producing the Ysopet (Little Aesop) series of fables in verse. Related to the fable was the more bawdy fabliau, which covered topics such as cuckolding and corrupt clergy. Satire was also written during this period, including the Roman de Fauvel, which mocks the sins of humanity by making the Seven Deadly Sins appear in the personification of a horse. In its strict sense a fable is a short story or folk tale embodying a moral, which may be expressed explicitly at the end as a maxim. ... Reynard the Fox, also known as Renard, Renart, Reinard, Reinecke, Reinhardus, and by many other spelling variations, is a trickster figure whose tale is told in a number of anthropomorphic fables from medieval Europe. ... The foxes comprise 23 species of omnivorous canids, found worldwide. ... Aesops Fables or Aesopica refers to a collection of fables credited to Aesop (circa 620 BC – 560 BC), a slave and story-teller living in Ancient Greece. ... The fabliau (plural fabliaux) is a comic, usually anonymous tale written by jongleurs in northeast France circa the 13th Century. ... Satire is a literary technique of writing or art which exposes the follies of its subject (for example, individuals, organizations, or states) to ridicule, often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change. ... The Roman de Fauvel is a large compilation of poetry and music by various authors. ... Sin has been a term most usually used in a religious context, and today describes any lack of conformity to the will of God; especially, any willful disregard for the norms revealed by God is a sin. ... // History The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, were first introduced when Greek monastic theologian Evagrius of Pontus drew up a list of eight offenses and deadly human passions, the sins as eight passions, and they were, in order of increasing severity: gluttony, lust...


Prose compositions in the Middle Ages -- other than the prose versions of romances and "chansons de geste" -- include a number of histories and chronicles, of which the most famous are Jean Froissart's. Prose is writing distinguished from poetry by its greater variety of rhythm and its closer resemblance to the patterns of everyday speech. ... Generally a chronicle (Latin chronica) is historical account of facts and events in chronological order. ... Jean Froissart (~1337 - ~1405) was one of the most important of the chroniclers of medieval France. ...


References

General:

  • Urban Tigner Holmes, Jr. A History of Old French Literature from the Origins to 1300. New York: F.S. Crofts, 1938. (still a classic)
  • Geneviève Hasenohr and Michel Zinc, eds. Dictionnaire des lettres françaises: Le Moyen Age. Collection: La Pochothèque. Paris: Fayard, 1992.

Chanson de geste:

  • Jesse Crosland. The Old French Epic. New Tork: Haskell House, 1951.

Roman:

  • Douglas Kelly. Medieval French Romance. Twayne's World Author Series. New York: Twayne, 1993.

Poetry:

  • F.R.P. Akehurst and Judith M. Davis, eds. A Handbook of the Troubadours. Berkeley: U of Calif., 1995.
  • Frederick Goldin. Lyrics of the Troubadours and Trouvères: An Anthology and History. Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1983.
  • Poésie lyrique au Moyen Age. Collection: Classiques Larousse. Paris: Larousse, 1975.

 
 

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