THE MIDDLE AGES A.D. 450-1300
What happened during the Middle Ages? Take this true and false quiz. • Chess was introduced in England. • The Vikings developed the art of shipbuilding. • Hats came into fashion. • Feudalism developed. • Crossbows were used in France. • Marco Polo visited China. • The Saxons were defeated at Hastings. • The Crusades began. • Eyeglasses were invented. • The plague in Europe ended.
ALL TRUE! Although the medieval period has been perceived as a static, or unchanging, interval in history, it was in fact a dynamic time in which new political, economic, and cultural institutions emerged.
The literature of the Middle Ages reflects the changes of the time – from the bloody wars waged by feudal kings through the gruesome and exotic campaigns of the Crusades to the emergence of courtly love and the rise of the middle class and the risk-taking mercantile society that it nurtured.
Chivalry was basically a military code of behavior.
Chivalry A knight was supposed to be fair to his opponents, loyal to his lord, and honorable in all things. He was also supposed to show Christian humility, and generosity to all.
Courtly love was a code of conduct for lovers. The knight’s glorious deeds were not performed in the service of king or country, but on behalf of a beautiful, fair, and noble lady, who was often above him in status and usually married – and therefore unattainable.
The quest was the pursuit, through a series of adventures, or trials, of something or someone of special importance.
The Holy Grailis described as the cup from which Christ drank at the last supper, the same cup that is later used to collect drops of Christ’sblood at the Crucifixion.
In France, the Breton lais were influenced by the idea of courtly love. The lais were short stories with supernatural or fairy-tale elements, written in verse and sung to the accompaniment of the lyre or the lute.
Chansons degeste were songs of heroic deeds. They were composed by French poets called trouveres.
The romances were the literary expression of chivalric ideals. These were long poems about knightly adventures that were recited by traveling poets.
The Arthurian romances were among the most popular of the medieval romances. The stories of Arthur, a legendary king, and his knights of the Round Table spread throughout Europe.