Medieval Life

Medieval Poetry

Romantic stories of courtly love were spread throughout medieval Europe by troubadours and minstrels. The language used by this new poetry was intended to be sung, played on musical instruments brought back from the crusades. This was a new style of expressive writing.

One of the first poems to take a romantic turn was La Chanson de Roland (the Song of Roland) an epic about the nephew of Charlemagne. Battlefield scenes were transformed into those of ideal love.

Arthurian legends brought the tale of Tristan and Iseult. Though no complete copy of this poem, written in French, survived to today, extant German translations made it possible to piece together this poem of overwhelming guilty passions.

Aucassin and Nicolette, written by an unknown author, was one of the first to tell a love story with a happy ending. Aucaussin, son of a noble Provencal count, falls in love with Nicolette, the captive servant and god-daughter of a neighboring nobleman. She later turns out to be the daughter of the King of Carthage-she was a princess.

Le Roman de la Rose (Story of the Rose) was an allegory of a love affair, unusual in that the main characters never appear as real people, but rather as different voices that stand for their qualities. This style was tremendously popular, and dictated a style that would be copied in France and England for two centuries.

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