from anglo saxon 658 1154 c e to middle english 1154 1485 c e n.
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From Anglo-Saxon (658-1154 C.E. ) to Middle English (1154-1485 C.E.). Major changes. Norman Conquest (1066)—English kings become French speakers Linguistic: As Old English moves to Middle English, Anglo-Norman (French) establishes prestige as language #2 to Latin

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major changes
Major changes
  • Norman Conquest (1066)—English kings become French speakers
  • Linguistic: As Old English moves to Middle English, Anglo-Norman (French) establishes prestige as language #2 to Latin
  • Chivalry: Social system based on prestige, courtesy, and service
marie de france
Marie de France
  • May be illegitimate sister of Henry II
  • Social observer
  • Very familiar with fin amor and courtly behavior
  • Critiques it through Lais
the lais
The Lais
  • Lais are short narrative poems, often in a meter that suggests a musical accompaniment
  • She wrote 12
  • Deal with love from many points of view
  • Two are Arthurian
social class changes
Social Class Changes
  • Normans install the feudal system
  • Concept of three “estates”—fixed place in the social structure
  • Black Death (major outbreak 1349) kills more than 30% of population, ends feudalism
  • People move to cities for work, rise of merchant class, beginnings of a bourgeoisie
  • Peasant’s Rebellion in 1381
religion remains the constant but
Religion remains the constant, but…
  • Though Latin continues its prestige stronghold and
  • Education is mostly still in the hands of the church, merchant/guild schools are starting and
  • Law & business are conducted mostly in French (Edward III addresses Parliament in English for the first time in 1362)
and the church had troubles
And the Church had troubles…
  • Too much money being donated led to corruption (though often with good intentions)
  • Selling salvation through indulgences as a fundraiser
  • Tied up with politics (the Crusades, two Popes)
  • People starting to question its control of religious texts…
changes in literacy
Changes in Literacy
  • More merchant classes mean more literate people
  • Emphasis on pious literacy, especially for women
  • Improved economic status means more $$ to buy status items like books
writing c 1465 70
Writing c. 1465-70
  • England in political turmoil (Wars of Roses)
  • Family turning against family
  • Noblemen switching loyalties for political gains
  • Malory’s sense that the “old values” were fading away
morte darthur
Morte Darthur
  • Two versions—Caxton’s print edition, 1485
  • “Winchester Manuscript,” only discovered in 1934
  • Question of whether it’s a “hoole book” or 8 related tales
  • Genre is something new—blend of chronicle, history, fiction, and mirror for magistrates
what does morte darthur do
What does Morte Darthur do?
  • Mirror for Magistrates—tells a valuable lesson for those in authority
  • Recalls the values of chivalry, loyalty, brotherhood
  • Shows how individual ambition and passion can destroy corporate well-being
  • Offers some hope that good times will someday come back