The middle english period of literature
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The Middle English Period of Literature. By: Billy Carpenter. Historical Context. The Middle English Period lasted from 1066 (sometimes 1100) to 1485.

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Historical context
Historical Context

  • The Middle English Period lasted from 1066 (sometimes 1100) to 1485.

  • It began with the Norman Invasion of England which is why the beginning date of the period is often debated (when it happened or when it began to influence culture).

  • During this time, people had clearly defined roles in society.

  • The class system consisted of five main groups in this order:

    1) Norman Royalty

    2) Norman Nobles and Land Lords

    3) English Men (some were considered free while others were not)

    4) English Women

    5) Slaves

  • These class differences led to a wide variety of writing styles.

Population breakdown
Population Breakdown

*Slaves were assessed as property.

Values and beliefs
Values and Beliefs

Just seven years before the Middle English Period began, the religion in England and most of Europe in fact was being changed. There were still many Roman Catholics left in England after the decline of the Roman Empire, but Germanic Paganism was the most prevalent group. The common English people usually turned to God while the Normans based their belief on the character of a person. So the major internal conflict of the people was, “Do I follow God and relinquish my strength to Him, or do I follow the tradition of the strong Normans and become a mighty warrior?”

Norman and english writing styles


The Normans were the rulers of England during the Middle English Period

Most of their writing was informational and related to the military or governing England


The English were the commoners of the Middle English Period

The cultural writing of the time came almost solely from the English peasants

Norman and English Writing Styles

Important norman literature the domesday book
Important Norman Literature(The Domesday Book)

“The King (William) holds in demesne Earley (in lordship – that is, by and for himself; he has not let it out to a sub-tenant). Almar (an Anglo-Saxon) held it in alod (freehold) from King Edward. Then (in 1066, it was assessed for tax purposes) at 5 hides, now (in 1086 it is assessed) for (the equivalent of) 4 hides. (There is) Land for use by 6 ploughs. In demesne (on the lord’s land there is land for) 1 plough and (there are) 6 villans (villagers) and 1 bordar (smallholder) with 3 ploughs. There (are) 2 slaves (owned by the King) and 1 site (or close) in Reading (presumably owned by or part of the manor) and (there are) 2 fisheries worth (rendering) 7s and 6d (per year) and 20 acres of meadow. (There is) Woodland for (feeding) 70 pigs. At the time of King Edward (1066) it was worth 100s, and afterwards (when William acquired the manor) and now (1086) it is worth 50s.”

Important english literature
Important English Literature

The Cook's Portrait

379: A cook they hadde with hem for the nones 380: To boille the chiknes with the marybones,381: And poudre-marchant tart and galyngale.382: Wel koude he knowe a draughte of londoun ale.383: He koude rooste, and sethe, and broille, and frye,384: Maken mortreux, and wel bake a pye.385: But greet harm was it, as it thoughte me,386: That on his shyne a mormal hadde he.387: For blankmanger, that made he with the beste


A cook they had with them, just for the nonce,To boil the chickens with the marrow-bones,And flavour tartly and with galingale.Well could he tell a draught of London ale.And he could roast and seethe and broil and fry,And make a good thick soup, and bake a pie.But very ill it was, it seemed to me,

That on his shin a deadly sore had he;For sweet blanc-mange, he made it with the best.

Outstanding authors and works


The Domesday Book - William the Conqueror

Little Domesday – William the Conqueror

Both were a public record much like a census which contained maps, property evaluations, population count, etc. on different dates.


Brut – Laʒamon

Le Morte d’’ Arthur - Mallory, Sir Thomas. A story about the legendary Celtic King Arthur

The Boke of Margery Kempe – Kempe, Margery. An autobiography of Margery Kempe

Opus majus (Major Work) – Bacon, Roger. An expansion on all available knowledge of the time, akin to a modern Encyclopedia

The Canterbury Tales – Chaucer, Geoffrey. Fiction. Tells the story of the journey of several English people from each persons perspective.

Outstanding Authors and Works


  • Fraser, Rebecca, and Rebecca Fraser. The Story of Britain. 1st American Edition. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005. Print.

  • Entry for the royal manor of Earley. 2013. The National Archives, Kew. Web. 8 Mar 2013. <>.

  • "Interpreting Domesday." Reading Domesday entries. (2013): n. page. Web. 8 Mar. 2013. <>.

  • Chaucer, Geoffrey. "Medieval Sourcebook." Canterbury Tales: Prologue [Parallel Texts]. Virginia Etext Project. Web. 9 Mar 2013. <>.

  • "Writers from the Middle English period." . Universität Duisburg-Essen. Web. 9 Mar 2013. <>.