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The Medieval Era. 500 – 1500 A.D. The Norman Conquest. Led by William, Duke of Normandy, the Normans (from France) invaded in the year 1066. The King of England was killed in the Battle of Hastings, and William emerged victorious.

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The medieval era

The Medieval Era

500 – 1500 A.D.

The norman conquest
The Norman Conquest

Led by William, Duke of Normandy, the Normans (from France) invaded in the year 1066. The King of England was killed in the Battle of Hastings, and William emerged victorious.

During the next several centuries, the Old English language and culture merged with Old French. They continued to be two separate languages, but many French words and customs were incorporated into the English way of life.

O. E. + O. Fr.  Middle English

Other influences language learning
Other influences: language/learning

  • 1454 Johann Gutenberg – the printing press

  • 1476 William Caxton – the first English printing press

Result: literature no longer needed to be hand-copied by church scribes.

Literature of the middle ages
Literature of the Middle Ages

  • the first true dramas emerged – acting out in scenes

  • the poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales

  • romances portrayed the deeds of knights

  • balladeers sang of love and deeds of outlaws

Medieval drama
Medieval Drama

  • church sponsored plays as part of religious services

  • plays gradually moved into the marketplace

  • miracle plays or mystery plays – retold stories from the Bible / lives of saints

  • morality plays – depicted lives of ordinary people and taught moral lessons

Romances lyrics and ballads
Romances, Lyrics, and Ballads

Medieval romances

  • tales describing the adventures of knights

  • many about the Arthurian legend

    Lyrical poetry

  • poets often strummed lyres (a harplike instrument) as they recited their verse

  • led to lyrical poetry


  • folk song that tells a story

  • many were about the hero Robin Hood

Geoffrey chaucer 1343 1400
Geoffrey Chaucer (1343? – 1400)

  • grew up amid the bustle of a successful international business (his dad was a wine merchant)

  • he served the nobility as an administrator  his position in society gave him a perfect vantage point for observing all types of people

  • well-respected in his own day

  • a.k.a “the Father of English Poetry”

  • buried in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey

The poet s corner
The Poet’s Corner

The Poets Corner of Westminster Abbey was established around the tomb of Chaucer. It is also the resting place for other British literary greats such as William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.

Chaucer s the canterbury tales
Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales

  • written in Middle English

  • frame story – a story w/in a story

  • shows a cross section of medieval society, from the nobility all the way down to the degraded lower class

  • written in heroic couplets - a pair of rhyming lines w/ 5 stressed syllables each

Whan that aprill with his shoures sooteThe droghte of march hath perced to the roote,And bathed every veyne in swich licourOf which vertu engendred is the flour;Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breethInspired hath in every holt and heethTendre croppes, and the yonge sonneHath in the ram his halve cours yronne,And smale foweles maken melodye,That slepen al the nyght with open ye (so priketh hem nature in hir corages);Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

Chaucer s the canterbury tales1
Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales

  • planned as an exchange of tales among pilgrims journeying to the shrine of martyr Thomas Becket at Canterbury, England

  • 30 pilgrims tell 2 stories each down from London to Canterbury and 2 stories on the return trip = 60 stories down + 60 on the return = 120 stories each

  • Chaucer only wrote the Prologue

    (the frame) and 24 tales, but it is

    considered a complete work

Chaucer s the canterbury tales2
Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales

The tales are divided into different types (genres) of stories:

  • romances – tales of chivalry / courtly love

  • fabliaux - short, bawdy, humorous stories

  • sermons – stories of saints

  • fables – a story that uses talking animals & teaches a moral or lesson

    Each pilgrim tells a type of tale consistent with his / her own character (for example, the Knight tells a romance, etc).

Literary terms
Literary Terms

  • Direct characterization –the author comes right out and tells you about the characters.

  • Indirect characterization – the author gives you “Clues” about the characters based on what they do and what the other characters say about them.

  • Couplet – two lines of poetry that rhyme.

  • Ballad – folk songs that tell a story

  • Folk tale – tales involving talking animals . These tales often have a moral or lesson to be learned at the end of them.

  • Miracle plays – plays depicting religious miracles

  • Morality plays – plays teaching morals of the time

  • Frame story – a story within a story.

Other terms review of vocab 1
Other Terms – Review of Vocab #1

  • Decentralized Government

  • Feudalism

  • Self-sufficient

  • Manor

  • Barter

  • Medieval