literature: the Middle English Period

the Middle English Period  1066-1500
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Slide 1: Tekstslide
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In deze les zitten 39 slides, met tekstslides en 14 videos.

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the Middle English Period  1066-1500

Slide 1 - Tekstslide

  • King Edward
  • Harold Godwinson
  • William, Duke of Normandy
  • Battle of Hastings

Slide 2 - Tekstslide

Slide 3 - Video

feudal system

Slide 4 - Tekstslide

Slide 5 - Video

the Domesday Book
  • record of everything everyone owned
  • rights and duties of every landowner
  • rights and duties of every court
important historical record

Slide 6 - Tekstslide

Slide 7 - Video

  • French;  language of Royal court
  • French:  language of ruling classes (nobility)
  • French:  language of business
  • English:  language of commoners
  • Latin: language of the clergy
  • 14th century: English became the dominant language again! This language is called Middle English
  • Much influence of French on this language ( many French words)

Slide 8 - Tekstslide

Slide 9 - Video

  • Memento Mori ( remember that you will die)
  • importance of religion in the Middle Ages
  • to recover the Holy Land and to defend Christianity
on you tube there are some interesting BBC documentaries on the crusades

Slide 10 - Tekstslide

Magna Charta
  • 1215 King John (Plantagenets) forced by his barons to sign the Magna Charta
  • first English Law Book
  • limit to  the king's authority

Slide 11 - Tekstslide

Slide 12 - Video

the hundred years' war 1337-1453
  • the English claimed the French throne, leading to hostilities
  • after the war both the houses of Lancaster and York claimed the throne, leading to the Wars of the Roses ( 1445-1487)
  • The Tudors came to the throne

Slide 13 - Tekstslide

Slide 14 - Video

  • popular genres were: fables, ballads and romances
  • courtly love

Slide 15 - Tekstslide


Fable is a literary device that can be defined as a concise and brief story intended to provide a moral lesson  at the end. In literature, it is described as a didactic lesson given through some sort of animal story. In prose and verse, a fable is described through plants, animals, forces, of nature, and inanimate objects by giving them human attributes wherein they demonstrate a moral lesson at the end.

Features of a Fable

  • A fable is intended to provide a moral story.
  • Fables often use animals as the main characters. They are presented with anthropomorphic characteristics, such as the ability to speak and to reason.
  • Fables personify the animal characters.

Slide 16 - Tekstslide

the fox Reynard
  • Beatrix Potter's Mr Tod and Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox were based on Reynard.
  • first version in Middle Dutch in 13th century: Reynard

Slide 17 - Tekstslide

the Ballad
The word ballad is of French provenance. It is a type of poetry or verse which was basically used in dance songs in ancient France. Later on, during the late 16th and 17th centuries, it spread over the majority of European nations. Owing to its popularity and emotional appeal, it remained a powerful tool for poets and lyricists to prepare music in the form of lyrical ballads, and earn a handsome income from it.

Slide 18 - Tekstslide

Slide 19 - Video

the ballad

Ballads, no matter which category they fall into, mostly rely on simple and easy-to-understand language, or dialect from its origin. Stories about hardships, tragedies, love, and romance are standard ingredients of the ballad. This is irrespective of geographical origins.

Another conspicuous element of any ballad is the recurrence of certain lines at regular intervals. Ballads can also be in interrogative form, with appropriate answers to every question asked. Ballads seldom offer a direct message about a certain event, character, or situation. It is left to the audience to deduce the moral of the story from the whole narration.

The ballad is still a popular genre. Think of the ballad of the green baret and ballads like the "zuiderzee ballade" but  also many popular songs are ballads

Slide 20 - Tekstslide

Sir Patrick Spens
The King sits in Dunfirmline town, 
Drinking of the blood-red wine
"Where can I get a steely skipper 
To sail this might boat of mine?"

Then up there spoke a bonny boy, 
Sitting at the King's right knee
"Sir Patrick Spens is the very best seaman 
That ever sailed upon the sea"

Slide 21 - Tekstslide

Sir Patrick Spens
The King has written a broad letter 
And sealed it up with his own right hand
Sending word unto Sir Patrick to come to him at his command

"An enemy then this must be 
Who told the lie concerning me
For I was never a very good seaman, 
Nor ever do intend to be"

Slide 22 - Tekstslide

Sir Patrick Spens
"Last night I saw the new moon clear 
With the new moon in her hair
And that is a sign since we were born 
That means there'll be a deadly storm"

They had not sailed upon the deep a day, 
A day but barely free
When loud and boisterous blew the winds 
And loud and noisy blew the sea

Slide 23 - Tekstslide

Sir Patrick Spens
Then up there came a mermaiden, 
A comb and glass all in her hand
"Here's to you my merry young men for you'll not see dry land again"

"Long may my lady stand 
Qith a lantern in her hand
Before she sees my bonny ship 
Come sailing homeward to dry land"

Forty miles off Aberdeen, 
The waters fifty fathoms deep
There lies good Sir Patrick Spens 
With the Scots lords at his feet

Slide 24 - Tekstslide

Slide 25 - Video

Etymologically, romance comes from Anglo-Norman and Old French romanz, which means a story of chivalry and love. The word “romance” also refers to romantic love. As far as literature in concerned, the term has an entirely a different concept. It means romantic stories with chivalrous feats of heroes and knights. Romance describes chivalry and courtly love, comprising stories and legends of duty, courage, boldness, battles, and rescues of damsels in distress.

Slide 26 - Tekstslide

courtly love

Medieval literature includes several examples of courtly love. Sir Lancelot expresses this kind of love for Lady Guinevere in Arthurian legend, though he breaks the rules and takes Guinevere for his own.

 In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Knight's Tale, this type of love is depicted.

Many poets also dedicated their writing to noble ladies in acts of courtly love, such as Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, which he dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I. The poem depicts the Redcrosse knight's courtly love for the Lady Una. He protects her and professes to love her, while always behaving with the most chivalrous propriety.

Slide 27 - Tekstslide

Slide 28 - Video

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • knight of the Round Table (king Arthur)
  • The poem translated in Modern English prose can be found at:

Slide 29 - Tekstslide

Geoffrey Chaucer
  • 1340-1400
  • The Canterbury Tales

Slide 30 - Tekstslide

The Canterbury Tales
  • link-in-frame story
  • Thomas Becket's tomb in Canterbury Cathedral
  • unfinished
  • General Prologue

Slide 31 - Tekstslide

Slide 32 - Video

Slide 33 - Video

Slide 34 - Video

the wife of Bath
  • gold digger
  • 5 marriages
  • enjoys sex

women were meant to be chaste. Theyw ere not to experience sexual pleasure.

Slide 35 - Tekstslide

There was a housewife come from Bath, or near,
Who—sad to say—was deaf in either ear.
At making cloth she had so great a bent
She bettered those of Ypres and even of Ghent.
Her kerchiefs were of finest weave and ground;(5)
I dare swear that they weighed a full ten pound
Which, of a Sunday, she wore on her head.
Her hose were of the choicest scarlet red,
Close gartered, and her shoes were soft and new.
Bold was her face, and fair, and red of hue.(10)

She’d been respectable throughout her life,
With five churched husbands bringing joy and strife,
Not counting other company in youth;
But thereof there’s no need to speak, in truth.
Three times she’d journeyed to Jerusalem;(15)
And many a foreign stream she’d had to stem;
At Rome she’d been, and she’d been in Boulogne,
In Spain at Santiago, and at Cologne.



    She could tell much of wandering by the way:
    Gap-toothed was she, it is no lie to say.(20)
    Upon an ambler easily she sat,
    Well wimpled, aye, and over all a hat
    As broad as is a buckler or a targe,
    A rug was tucked around her buttocks large,
    And on her feet a pair of spurs quite sharp.(25)
    In company well could she laugh and carp.
    The remedies of love she knew, perchance,
    For of that art she’d learned the old, old dance

    Slide 36 - Tekstslide

    Slide 37 - Video

    Slide 38 - Video

    assignment Chaucer
    Form groups of 2. Choose a Pilgrim from

    1) read his/ her description in The General Prologue

    2) read his / her story

    3) make a power point presentation of your pilgrim
    be ready to give a 2/3- minute presentation of your pilgrim and his/her tale during the last lesson in week 43

    Slide 39 - Tekstslide