Literature flourished under the Plantagenets. Between the years of 1250-1350, English became the official language of the upper class.
With the arrival of a Norman ruling class at the end of the 11th century, the ascendancy of Norman-French in cultural life began, and it was not until the 13th century that English literature regained its strength. Prose was concernedchiefly with popular devotional use, but verse emerged typically in the metrical chronicles.
First of the great English poets was Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales (c.1387), whose early work reflected the formality of the predominant French influence, but later the realism of Renaissance Italy. Of purely native inspiration was the medieval alliterative poem Piers Plowman (1367–86) andSir Gawain and the Green Knight. More successful were the anonymous authors of songs and carols, and of the ballads, which often formed a complete cycle, such as those concerned with the outlaw Robin Hood.
After the breakup of the Angevin Empire in the thirteenth century and the gradual development of England as a distinct cultural, political, and linguistic entity, the fourteenth and fifteenthcenturies saw a flowering of literature written in Middle English. Though Middle English texts had first emerged in the twelfth century and much fourteenth-century literature in England was still written in French, the Middle English poetry of this late period nonetheless initiated a new era in England's literary history.
The Medieval Period, lasting from 1066-1485, saw the emergence ofliterature in the British Isles. Although there are records of earlier writings—the most prominent of which is the classic epic Beowulf—literature and writing did not become truly popular until this time period.
One of the most distinguishing characteristics of medieval literature is the setting. Most classic pieces of medieval literature are set in a world much unlike the one that the writers lived in.These fantasy realms were often perfect lands—with chivalrous knights, beautiful damsels, and magical powers. There were many popular characters which appeared and reappeared, including the ever-popular King Arthur.
Arthurian and other fantasy tales were commonplace in medieval literature, when people wanted to forget the very real horrors of everyday life. With an extremely poor lower class,few sanitation laws, and diseases like the Black Death running rampant throughout villages and countryside’s, tales such as these were needed escapes from everyday life. People in this time period desired times of respite, where they could "break free" of the real world and break into a world all of their own.
One of the more popular Arthurian legends was Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Thiswork has much in it that is representative of the medieval period. The first representative element that presents itself in this piece is the issue of chivalry. Chivalry was a code of conduct in the Middle Ages, which knights and members of noble families were expected to follow. Being chivalrous meant following your conscience, defending moral values, respecting others and their weaknesses, beingloyal, brave, trustworthy, and obedient, and waging constant war against the enemy. Sir Gawain is an idealized example of a chivalrous knight
Many classic works of literature from this era come from oral stories that were eventually written down. In this period, literacy was only commonplace among the upper classes, so many stories were still spread the way they had been for centuries, throughword of mouth. The best example of this is the Canterbury Tales; a collection of stories which were originally oral presentations, until recorded by Geoffrey Chaucer in the late 14th century.
These tales provide a good account of what life and literature was like in the Middle Ages, since the stories told were told about people from all walks of life. Again, we see the distinguishing...