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Medieval Romance


Medieval Romance Definiton: a tale of adventure in which knights, kings, or distressed ladies, motivated by love, religious faith, or the mere desire for adventure ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Medieval Romance

Medieval Romance
Definiton a tale of adventure in which knights,
kings, or distressed ladies, motivated by love,
religious faith, or the mere desire for
adventure, are the chief figures.
The Medieval Romance appears in Old French
literature of the 12th century, supplanting the
older Chanson de Geste, an epic form. Epic
reflects the heroic age has weight, solidity,
tragic seriousness, has narrative unity, no love
interests, uses the dramatic method of having the
characters speak for themselves whereas
Romance chivalric age, mystery and fantasy,
light-hearted, structure is looser than epic,
romantic interests become of major interest,
readers remain conscious of a narrator. These
were extremely popular in Western Europe,
occupying a place comparable w/that of the novel
in modern literature.
Earliest Romances were in verse. Alliterative
verse was having a revival in the Midlands when
Sir Gawain was being composed. This is why the
poet is driving you crazy w/it. It was a thing.
This is also why it says Wawain its to
maintain the alliteration. Alliterative Verse is
the most common form in all Old English poetry
and in Middle English poetry between the 12 and
14th centuries.
The materials for the early French romances were
drawn chiefly from the Charlemagne dossier or
chansons de geste (Matter of France), ancient
history and literature (matter of Rome the
Great), and Celtic lore, especially Arthurian
material (Matter of Britain) Romances were
produced in English as early as the 13th c. They
flourished in the 14th and 15th c, tho the
disfavor of Renaissance humanists caused them to
lose standing.
The Arthurian romances developing around the
legend of King Arthur had eventually developed
into great cycles of stories in Old French lit,
some of the heroes of which, such as Tristran and
Lancelot, did not belong to the original
Arthurian legend. They were greatly elaborated
in the bulky 13th c. French prose romances and
became sources for the later English treatments
such as Malorys, which is the one most are
familiar with today.
  • Elements of a Medieval Romance
  • follows the structure of a quest (think holy
    grail) and is a narrative of a heroic adventure
  • Usually has type characters rather than
    individualized portraits (Sir G bit different)
  • Highly imaginative encounters w/extraordinary
    personages in fantastical settings
  • Extensive Christian references, but also many
    pagan/Celtic/Druidic elements
  • Has idealized concept of medieval knight

The idealized medieval knight was expected to
practice Chivalry This means the virtues of
loyalty, bravery, piety, valor, and honour They
pledge to champion ladies in distress, defend the
weak, be absolutely faithful to their king, and
be devoted to a single, unattainable lady love.
She might be the wife of his liege lord or the
Virgin Mary
Often the Knight operates in a world in which
Medieval Christian values (pretty much Catholic)
are imposed on magical events and supernatural
figures, remnants of the pagan sources of
chivalric romance. Twelfth Night/Christmas/Celtic
legend and myth all intertwine
Courtly Love the emotion that a knight was
expected to feel toward a noble lady Falling in
love is supposed to be accompanied by great
emotional disturbances. The bewildered lover
shows symptoms like paleness of skin, trembling,
loss of appetite, sleeplessness, sighing, and
weeping. Conditions improve when she accepts his
love and this love inspires great deeds.
Ideally, the knight loved from a distance the
wife of a knights lord or some other married
noblewoman, was faithful to her, and was inspired
by his love to perform noble deeds in her
honour. Remember these are all idealized versions
of knights. True ones of the times were indeed
noble, but they were soldiers, first and
foremost. They were given land by their king in
exchange for fighting when king needed it. They
were often illiterate.