Middle English Period of British Literature (The Medieval Period) - 1066-1485

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Content:

  • plays that instruct the illiterate masses in morals and religioun
  • chivalric code of honor
    • romances
  • religious devotion

Style/Genres:

  • oral tradition continues
  • folk ballads
  • mystery and miracle plays
  • morality plays
  • stock epithets
  • kennings     
    • frame stories
    • moral tales

Effect:

  • church instructs its people through the morality and miracle plays
  • an illiterate population is able to hear and see the literature

Historical Context:

  • Crusades bring the development of a money economy for the first time in Britain
  • trading increases dramatically as a result of the Crusades
  • William the Conqueror crowned king in 1066
  • Henry III crowned king in 1154 brings a judicial system, royal courts, juries, and chivalry to Britain

Key Literature/Authors:

  • Domesday Book
  • L’Morte de Arthur
  • Geoffrey Chaucer

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