The Medieval Period (The Middle Ages) 1066-1485 by wU8wwh8


									        The Medieval Period
         (The Middle Ages)
  “Patience is a high virtue.” Geoffrey Chaucer “The
        Franklin’s Tale”, The Canterbury Tales

“Manners maketh man.” William of Wykeham—motto of
              two colleges at Oxford

             Introductory Notes
              British Literature
 The Norman Conquest of England
• Alfred the Great defeated the Danes (King
  Hrothgar’s people) and confined them to the
  north of England
• In 1066, the English King, Edward the Confessor
  died, and Harold II (Edward’s cousin) claimed
  that he should be the new king
• Duke William of Normandy (with the church’s
  support) invaded England and defeated Harold
  at the Battle of Hastings.
• In four years, the Normans killed most of the
  English nobility and divided the land into estates
  known as fiefdoms, ruled by the French-
  speaking barons loyal to William the Conqueror
  Anglo-Norman Literature
• For 200 years (1066-1260), after the conquest
  of the Normans, English became a “lower-class”
  language, one spoken almost by the poor and
• The language of the rich was Norman-French
• The production of English Literature was
• The production of Anglo-Norman literature was
  quite practical, in keeping with the character of
  the Norman people
• Much of it consists of religious tracts and other
  works meant for general learning
• The political system brought to England by
  William the Conqueror
• All of the land belonged to the King, who
  granted land to nobility, called Barons
  – Barons were bound in loyalty to the king, had to
    raise armies to fight his battles, and pay taxes to
    support his court
• Barons granted land to lesser nobles and
  required services and taxes from them
• At the very bottom of the social order was a
  class of bondsmen, known as peasants or serfs


Other Nobles

• The life of a serf was terrible
• They were the property of their
  feudal lords and could not leave
  the land or even marry without
• They lived on meager diets,
  suffered terribly from disease,
  and worked very hard only to turn
  over much of what they produced
  for the support of the lord’s
• Occasionally, a serf could earn
  his freedom by some exceptional
  service to his lord. This class of
  freed serfs (or freemen) grew to
  include many merchants, traders,
  and artisans.
 The Influence of the Church
• At no time in history of England was
  the influence of the church greater
  than during the Medieval period
• The Roman Catholic Church had
  tremendous power, money, and
• The head of the church was the Pope
• Much of the literature of the time
  was religious
          Henry II
• In 1154, Henry II became King of
• He despised the fact that the church
  had (technically) more power than he did
• He wanted to curb some of that power
  by appointing his friend, Thomas Becket,
  to the Archbishop’s seat in Canterbury
  when it became open.
• He expected Becket to go along with his
  views and support his every wish for
  change. But…
• Instead, Becket defied royal policy and
  appealed to the Pope. The Pope supported
  Becket, which enraged Henry.
• Some of Henry’s knights misunderstood
  Henry’s rage and in 1170, four of them went
  to Canterbury and murdered Becket in his
• Henry quickly condemned the crime and tried
  to atone for it by making a pilgrimage to
  Canterbury to Becket’s tomb
• He built a shrine to his friend and that shrine
  became an example of religious devotion
      Growth of Towns
• Towns in England were growing rapidly
• Townspeople grouped themselves into
  associations, called guilds, according to
  their vocation
• As these guilds became more powerful,
  some of them became corrupt
• Also, as towns grew, many combined into
  cities. With the growing population, it
  was only inevitable that…
• 1348-1349—Because of unsanitary
  conditions, disease was widespread and the
  worst plague in history, the black death, swept
  through England
• It killed one-third of the population
Middle Ages (later part of the Medieval
• As the Black Plague waned, so did the Feudal
• Many peasant revolts caused the noblemen to
  lose some of their power
  – 1381-Peasant Revolt: Jack Straw and Wat Tyler
    rebelled in demand for individual liberty and human
• The idea of chivalry and romance emerged
  once again
  – Code of chivalry—loyalty, valor, both on and off
    the battlefield
       The War of the Roses
• Began in 1453, when King Henry VI
  suffered his first bout of madness
• Parliament appointed his cousin, Richard
  of York, as temporary head of England
  until Henry was able to return
• Henry recovered briefly and Richard was
  forced from office. But Richard was not
  willing to leave without a fight.
• This resulted in a Civil War, known as the
  War of the Roses, because it pitted the
  House of York (Richard’s side) whose
  family symbol was a white rose against the
  House of Lancaster (Henry’s side) whose
  family symbol was a red rose
• The House of Lancaster ultimately won the
  Civil War in 1485 (30 years later)
         Medieval Literature
• Crusades (11th-13th centuries): holy wars to
  recapture Jerusalem—Europe supported and
  fought in these wars.
• Devotion to the Virgin Mary influenced the
  development of a unique type of literature known
  as romance—which portrayed the standards of
  knightly conduct known as chivalry
• Romances were stories of adventure and dealt
  with the exploits of knights (battles, jousts, etc).
  They would present a series of tests or trials of the
  knight’s virtues
• Most famous---the tales of King Arthur and the
  Knights of the Round Table. These tales were
  handed down orally until written down around
       Medieval Literature
• 1476-William Caxton introduced
  movable type to England
• Geoffrey Chaucer: in many
  estimates, he ranks second only to
  Shakespeare as England’s greatest
  writer. He wrote The Canterbury
  Tales, a series of verse told by
  different pilgrims on their way to
  the tomb of Thomas Becket
          Medieval Literature
• Ballads: songs of the common people, four-
  line stanzas that served as entertainment and
  as records of events that captured the
  popular imagination.
• Robin Hood and similar stories
• Morality plays: represented abstract virtues
  and vices as actual characters
• Mystery plays: told stories from the Bible
• Miracle plays: told stories from the lives of
Other Interesting/Famous Events:
• 1215: Magna Carta- limited the power of the
  King. Caused by Henry II’s son John because
  he was a heavy taxer, Parliament forced him
  to sign it
• 1339-1453: 100 Year’s War over possession
  of French land
  – Joan of Arc (1412-1431) helped France to win
    back its land
• Late 14th century: John Wycliff finished the
  1st complete translation of the Bible into

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