Medieval Romance - LCUSD by dffhrtcv3


									Medieval Romance
Definiton: a tale of adventure in which knights, kings,
or distressed ladies, motivated by love, religious faith, or
the mere desire for adventure, are the chief figures.
The Medieval Romance appears in Old French
literature of the 12th century, supplanting the older
Chanson de Geste, an epic form.
Epic – reflects the heroic age; has weight, solidity,
tragic seriousness, has narrative unity, no love interests,
uses the dramatic method of having the characters
speak for themselves                whereas…
Romance – chivalric age, mystery and fantasy, light-
hearted, structure is looser than epic, romantic interests
become of major interest, readers remain conscious of a
These were extremely popular in Western Europe,
occupying a place comparable w/that of the novel in
modern literature.
Earliest Romances were in verse.
Alliterative verse was having a revival in the Midlands when Sir
Gawain was being composed. This is why the poet is driving you
crazy w/it. It was a thing. This is also why it says “Wawain”; it’s
to maintain the alliteration. Alliterative Verse is the most
common form in all Old English poetry and in Middle English
poetry between the 12 and 14th centuries.
The materials for the early French romances were drawn chiefly
from the Charlemagne dossier or chansons de geste (“Matter of
France”), ancient history and literature (“matter of Rome the
Great”), and Celtic lore, especially Arthurian material (“Matter of
Romances were produced in English as early as the 13th c. They
flourished in the 14th and 15th c, tho’ the disfavor of Renaissance
humanists caused them to lose standing.
The Arthurian romances developing around the legend of King
Arthur had eventually developed into great cycles of stories in
Old French lit, some of the heroes of which, such as Tristran and
Lancelot, did not belong to the original Arthurian legend. They
were greatly elaborated in the bulky 13th c. French prose
romances and became sources for the later English treatments
such as Malory’s, which is the one most are familiar with today.
Elements of a Medieval Romance
-follows the structure of a quest (think holy grail) and is a narrative of a
heroic adventure
-Usually has type characters rather than individualized portraits (Sir G bit
-Highly imaginative encounters w/extraordinary personages in fantastical
-Extensive Christian references, but also many pagan/Celtic/Druidic
-Has idealized concept of medieval knight
The idealized medieval knight was expected to practice Chivalry
This means the virtues of loyalty, bravery, piety, valor, and
They pledge to champion ladies in distress, defend the weak, be
absolutely faithful to their king, and be devoted to a single,
unattainable lady love. She might be the wife of his liege lord or
the Virgin Mary
Often the Knight operates in a world in which Medieval Christian
values (pretty much Catholic) are imposed on magical events and
supernatural figures, remnants of the pagan sources of chivalric

Twelfth Night/Christmas/Celtic legend and myth all intertwine
Courtly Love – the emotion that a knight was expected to
feel toward a noble lady
Falling in love is supposed to be accompanied by great
emotional disturbances. The bewildered lover shows symptoms
like paleness of skin, trembling, loss of appetite, sleeplessness,
sighing, and weeping. Conditions improve when she accepts
his love and this love inspires great deeds.
Ideally, the knight loved from a distance the wife of a knight’s
lord or some other married noblewoman, was faithful to her,
and was inspired by his love to perform noble deeds in her
Remember these are all idealized versions of knights. True ones of the
times were indeed noble, but they were soldiers, first and foremost. They
were given land by their king in exchange for fighting when king needed
it. They were often illiterate.

To top