Updated: Aug 2, 2020
The land of Britons, which later was conquered by the Saxons (the tribe of Germans) was eventually eyed upon by the Normans. The Normans were basically from France who had a powerful ruler, William, the conqueror, who was also the Duke of Normandy in France. They fought against King Harold Godwinson in Battle of Hastings. King Harold was given the throne of Saxons after the death of King Edward, the Confessor since King Edward did not have any legitimate heir to the throne.
King Harold was defeated at the hands of Duke William due to some internal conspiracies which also included his own brother. With Duke William taking over England, set a dawn of the Middle English period. During this period, French became the language of the nobility while the Old English (language of the Saxons) became a language for the commoners or the underprivileged.
Another major event of the Middle Ages was the series of religious wars known as the Crusades initially triggered by Pope Urban II in 1095 AD. The main aim of this series of wars was to regain the captured territories of the Christians by the newly converted Islamic people or Turks. The Pope invoked in people, the spiritual and moral duty behind these conquest. They were told these wars to be holy in the name of Christ and his holy land like Jerusalem. They were told that their martyrdom would earn them spiritual merit.
One of the most important cultural development which occurred was the establishment of the schools and colleges all over England. Oxford and Cambridge universities were setup in around the 12th century AD. London became the epicentre of education.
Having discussed about the historical background and the cultural development, let’s discuss about the literature and literary works of this period.
“Chansor de Geste” was one of the most significant works which in Old English means “ Songs of Deeds”. The work had poems written to praise noble and knights who went to fight for their countries i.e. in the crusades.’ Some of them include “ Arthurian Legends” mentioned in Thomas Malory’s “ Le Morte D’Arthur”. It includes stories of King Arthur and his 12 knights and their search for the holy grail in which Jesus had his last supper. King Arthur is said to be one of the noblest kings who ever lived.
This is just the beginning of the commendable works in literature which only started in the Middle Ages. With ages to come and development in the field of literature, there is wide plethora of works yet to be talked about.
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