Medieval Life

Early Works

The most popular medieval works were the fabliaux, or fables. These humorous short stories, penned by authors from varying classes, enjoyed an immense audience. While most of these stories developed from earlier folk tales, social commentary was woven into the fable. Most fables were quite humorous and often bawdy. Recurring characters were visible in everyday life-merchants, students, lecherous husbands, and lusty, unfaithful wives.

Romances blossomed in the 12th century from authors such as Chretien de Troyes and Marie de France. Some stories, like Galaeran, deal with star-crossed lovers who eventually find happiness together. Military themes can be found in tales such as Joufroi, where a knightly hero has both amorous and martial adventures.

A popular religious book was called the "Book of Hours," which had a bible verse for each hour of the day, and a calendar showing all the Church's feast days. Scribes also copied surviving Greek and Roman texts, though care would have to be taken to ensure these documents were not found to be heretical, and land the monk in jail, or be executed.

Most early medieval works were penned by authors who remain virtually anonymous.

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