Anglo-Norman Period



I. Origin and Development:

1. The Normans (i.e., Norsemen): Germanic descendants who had settled in northern France, conquering England in 1066 under William the Conqueror

2. The Powerful Reign of the Plantagenet: owning large territory in the south of France

II. Linguistic and Cultural Exchanges:

1. Four languages co-existing: Latin (scholarly and international), French (courtly), the Middle English, Celtic

2. Celtic Legends popularized: so-called Breton lays, told in the genre of “romance”

3. English literature drawing materials from French sources, which in turn derived from Celtic or Latin sources
4. A dialectic between religion and romance in medieval literature

III. Romance of chivalry:

1. Definition: a long story in which knightly adventures are a means of exploring psychological and ethical dilemmas that the knight must solve, in addition to displaying martial prowess in saving ladies from monsters, giants, and wicked knights. Usually portraying illicit love affairs

2. Its principal creators: Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France

3. Reflecting the literary taste and judgment of women: an imaginary “court of love” described by Andreas Capellanus in The Art of Loving Correctly

4. Romance as an aspiration of the lower nobility to rise in the world:

5. Mostly rollicking and rambling in its narrative style:

6. The Rise of Arthurian Romance: the foundation myth of the Britain

a. The History of the King of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth, in Latin prose: drawing on Welsh oral tradition

A Founding Myth: Brutus as the great grandson of Aeneas—a royal genealogy created
Arthur as the last great king that fought Anglo-Saxon invaders

b. Le Roman de Brut by Wace, in French eight-syllable couplets: a free translation of Geoffrey of  Monmoth’s work

Creation of an atmosphere of courtliness and invention of the Round Table

c. Brut by Layamon, in Middle English alliterative verse: adapting Wace’s work

d. Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory: drawing from a bunch of long prose romances in English, organizing most Arthurian legends into a unified narrative Nostalgia for an ideal, fictional past: a sense of the irretrievably of past glory

IV. Other Anglo-Norman literary works:

The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries:

The growing popularity of English language and the flowering of Middle English Literature

I. The Black Death and its Consequences:

About Saweel Ur Raheem

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