The Middle Ages England: 1066-1500
William the Conqueror • The Battle of Hastings • The Bayeux Tapestry • How does English life change?
The Feudal System • The Rise of Feudalism • Feudal Life • The manor consisted of the castle, church, village, and surrounding farmland. • Think about the chess board… How does it represent feudal life? Pawn Rook Bishop Queen King Knight
The Feudal Manor “Power and prestige of the noble class based on land (the fief), which supported the lord, his family, and his soldiers. Landed estate organized as manors; each a self-supporting economic unit; the lord provided the land and protection; serfs provided the labor.”
The Feudal System The Distribution of Power King Lords, barons, and vassals Knights Serfs, villains, and peasants Where do WOMEN fit?!
The Feudal System • The Magna Carta • 1100 CE—Some barons had too much wealth and could be a serious threat to the king. • Result? Increased pressure by the king upon the barons for funds. Refusal meant imprisonment and even death… • 1215 CE—English barons force King John to sign the Magna Carta, which limited the king’s powers of taxation and required trials before punishment. • This is the first time an English monarch came under the control of the law!
Religion The Catholic Church was the only church in Europe, and it had its own hierarchy, code of laws, and coffers. Hierarchy Pope Bishops Parish Priests Monks and Nuns Pilgrimages Cathedrals
Homes Nobility Peasantry Structure Rooms Roof Floors Windows Kitchen Pantry Structure Rooms Roof Floors Windows Kitchen Pantry Most homes were cold and damp and had very small windows for security purposes.
Clothing Clergy Clothing consisted of woolen habits dyed particular colors to designate religious orders. Nobility Clothing is fashionable with brighter colors, better materials, and longer jackets. Most wore woolen outer garments with linen undergarments. Peasantry Outer clothes were almost never laundered and smelled of smoke, but linen undergarments were washed regularly.
Other Aspects of Medieval Life • Health • Treatments • Mainly herbal • No antibiotics • Disease • Relief • The Humors • 4 humors • 4 elements • 4 body fluids • Bloodletting • Arts & Entertainment • Originated in church • Drama grows out of the liturgy. • Town Life • New towns • New class of people • First companies
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight By the Pearl Poet
SGGK: Background & Style • SGGK Streaming Video • Original manuscript of this poem is unique – only ONE (never was well-known – hardly read at all between 1400 and 1839) • Written in a style very similar to Beowulf • Heavy 4 beat line • Alliteration • Rhyme • Native English vocab. – from area of Midlands – south of Chester – near modern-day Liverpool. Dialect is very difficult for us today and probably was very difficult for Londoners of that day. (Obscurity of dialect helped keep poem unknown)
SGGK: Background & Style • Poem shows religious tendencies – we assume that the Pearl Poet was a cleric – specific name of author is unknown • It is believed that the poem was written sometime between 1375 and 1400 • Description of armor, clothing, and furniture – 1375 • Handwriting has been dated roughly to 1400 • Written in a unique stanza called “bob and wheel” – combines alliteration and rhyme
SGGK: Matter & Form Romance (Medieval) 3 Subjects or “Matters” • The Matter of Greece (Troy and Alexander) • The Matter of France (Charlemagne’s Court and 12 peers – 12 disciples or primitive round-table) • The Matter of Britain (Arthurian Legends) Form • Themes (love issue) – quest – involves travels (social integrity; personal worth; knowledge) • Plot – intricate (carefully worded or rambling) • Characterization – flat; stereotyped
SGGK: Matter & Form Epic Romance Examples: Morted’Arthur& The Odyssey Scope: Individualistic (one person’s crisis) Motive: Desire for adventure or for personal gratification Themes: 1. Heterosexual love/women 2. Supernatural elements/mysterious atmosphere 3. Fantasy/vague atmosphere Focus: Manners Mode: Symbolic (Light on message, heavy on art) Examples: Illiad, Beowulf, Aneid, El Cid, & Paradise Lost Scope: Social Motive: Necessity Themes: 1. Emphasis on war/ male friendship 2. Realistic 3. Historical/concrete geography Focus: Morals Mode: Literal because already addressing universal social issues
SGGK: Matter & Form • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has a sense of irony that most romances don’t have - heavily moral in end. Could be called an ironic romance (More serious) • Key theme of medieval romances - attention to limitations of code of chivalry • Circular structure is hallmark of late 14th century literature Challenge Message Temptation Journey
SGGK: Green Men • Wild men of the woods; represents natural man vs. “made-up” men of upper level • Vegetation god – die and come back to life each year – like vegetation • Natural forces • Kingdom of Troy (Faeries/Longaevi) – they’re eternal and have no souls (Faeries were larger than people and terrible practical jokers; unpredictable; shape-shifters – can appear in diff. forms)
SGGK: Medieval Institutions Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the product of 3 medieval institutions or foundations: Feudalism Poem is about 200 yrs. archaic, deliberately – golden age of chivalry, now (the date of the poem’s composition) in the state of decay – Gawain exemplifies both ideals of knighthood • Physical ideals of knighthood • Non-physical ideals of knighthood
SGGK: Medieval Institutions Courtly Love Developed partly out of the cult of Mary, which elevated women Rules of Courtly Love • Marriage is no real excuse for not loving. • He who is not jealous cannot love. • That which a lover takes against the will of his beloved has no relish. • Boys do not love until they reach the age of maturity. • Love is always a stranger in the home of avarice. • A true lover does not desire to embrace in love anyone except his beloved. • When made public love rarely endures. • The easy attainment of love makes it of little value: difficulty of attainment makes it prized. • Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved. • When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved his heart palpitates. • A new love puts an old one to flight. • Real jealousy always increases the feeling of love. • Jealousy increases when one suspects his beloved. • A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.
SGGK: Medieval Institutions The Medieval Church Poem is about 200 yrs. archaic, deliberately – the only religious figure is a chaplain – church organization was not yet complex – less opportunity for corruption. The Holy Grail initially was a Christian symbol created by the church in an effort to overcome the influence of courtly love – only the pure could find it.
SGGK: Intertwined Plots Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is made up of three intertwined traditional plots (all designed to test the worth of the Christian knight): • The beheading contest • The temptation • The exchange game A knight was constantly on the quest for perfection – one should seek to imitate Christ.
The Canterbury Tales By Geoffrey Chaucer
CT: Background & Style • Original manuscript of this poem is unique – only ONE (never was well-known – hardly read at all between 1400 and 1839) • Written in a style very similar to Beowulf • Heavy 4 beat line • Alliteration • Rhyme • Native English vocab. – from area of Midlands – south of Chester – near modern-day Liverpool. Dialect is very difficult for us today and probably was very difficult for Londoners of that day. (Obscurity of dialect helped keep poem unknown)
The English Poetic Tradition • With the invasion of William in 1066, French becomes language of aristocracy. • From 1066 to late 1300s, no poetry is written in English. • Literature is written in either French or Latin • Some early “English” poets include: • Pearl Poet • William Langland • John Gower • Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer: The Man • Son of a wealthy London merchant • As a child, served as a page in a noble household • Countess of Ulster (married to a son of King Edward III) • Educated in values of aristocratic culture • 1367—squire to king’s household • Multilingual: English, French, Italian, etc. • 1374—Controller of the Customs in London
England during Chaucer’s Lifetime • Turbulent times: • Politically • 1377 Richard II becomes king at age 10 • 1386 Richard II is nearly deposed • 1389 Richard II regains power • 1399 Henry Bolingbroke murders Richard and becomes King Henry IV • Wars with France and the Scots • Religiously • John Wyclif and supporters challenge Church in terms of doctrine and immense economic power (Protestant Reformation in 16th century) • Soci0economically • 1381: Peasants’ Revolt
Geoffrey Chaucer: The Poet • One of the earliest British poets • Writing is characterized by • Poetic genius • Psychological subtlety • Humane good humor • Aware of “European literary traditions” as “ongoing cultural projects” • Artistic subtlety • Cultural sophistical • Established “an English literary tradition” and the basis for • William Shakespeare • Edmund Spenser • John Milton
Geoffrey Chaucer: The Poet • Career as a poet can be divided into 3 periods • Influenced by fashionable French court poetry (through 1370) • Influenced by Dante (1370-1386) • Influenced by English vernacular (1386-1400)
The Canterbury Tales • Chaucer begins CT in 1386 and leaves it incomplete • The story is a frame tale. • 29 pilgrims meet at the Tabard Inn and decide tojourney together. • Each pilgrim will tell 2 tales on the way to Canterbury & 2 tales on the way back. The Journey to Canterbury Pilgrims’ Tales
Le Morted’Arthur By Sir Thomas Malory
Le Morted’Arthur: Background • Written by Sir Thomas Malory (1400-1471) • Legends of Arthur—popular in western culture • Most legends come from Le Morted’Arthur, a collection of stories about Arthur • Thomas Malory accused of various crimes and imprisoned in 1451 • He wrote Le Morted’Arthurwhile in prison. • He wrote it between 1451-1469.
Le Morted’Arthur: Background • First edition: 1485 (posthumous) • Most complete English version of Arthurian legends. • Arthurian legends have been around since the 6th century (oral tradition in England and France). • Is Arthur real? • Possible source: real 5th or 6th century Celtic military leader • Any real Arthur is quite different from Malory’s Arthur.
Le Morted’Arthur: Background • First epic written in prose. • The plot of a medieval romance: