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Medieval literature

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Medieval literature is a broad subject, encompassing essentially all written works available in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and beyond during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 (encompassing the one thousand years from the fall of the Western Roman Empire ca. AD 500
500
Year 500 was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Patricius and Hypatius...

 to the beginning of the Florentine Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 in the late 15th century). The literature of this time was composed of religious writings as well as secular works. Just as in modern literature, it is a complex and rich field of study, from the utterly sacred
Sacred
Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy or sacred...

 to the exuberantly profane, touching all points in-between. Because of the wide range of time and place it is difficult to speak in general terms without oversimplification, and thus the literature is best characterized by its place of origin and/or language, as well as its genre.

Languages


Since Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 was the language of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, which dominated Western
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 and Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

, and since the Church was virtually the only source of education, Latin was a common language for Medieval writings, even in some parts of Europe that were never Romanized. However, in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

, the influence of the Eastern Roman Empire and the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 made Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 and Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic or Old Church Slavic was the first literary Slavic language, first developed by the 9th century Byzantine Greek missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius who were credited with standardizing the language and using it for translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek...

 the dominant written languages.

The common people continued to use their respective vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

s. A few examples, such as the Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

 Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

, the Middle High German
Middle High German
Middle High German , abbreviated MHG , is the term used for the period in the history of the German language between 1050 and 1350. It is preceded by Old High German and followed by Early New High German...

 Nibelungenlied
Nibelungenlied
The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

, the Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek, also known as Byzantine Greek, is the stage of the Greek language between the beginning of the Middle Ages around 600 and the Ottoman conquest of the city of Constantinople in 1453. The latter date marked the end of the Middle Ages in Southeast Europe...

 Digenis Acritas
Digenis Acritas
Digenes Akrites , known in folksongs as Digenes Akritas , is the most famous of the Acritic Songs. The epic details the life of its eponymous hero, Basil, a man, as the epithet signifies, of mixed Roman and Syrian blood...

, the Old East Slavic Tale of Igor's Campaign
The Tale of Igor's Campaign
The Tale of Igor's Campaign is an anonymous epic poem written in the Old East Slavic language.The title is occasionally translated as The Song of Igor's Campaign, The Lay of Igor's Campaign, and The Lay of...

, and the Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 Chanson de Roland, are well known to this day. Although the extant versions of these epics
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 are generally considered the works of individual (but anonymous
Anonymity
Anonymity is derived from the Greek word ἀνωνυμία, anonymia, meaning "without a name" or "namelessness". In colloquial use, anonymity typically refers to the state of an individual's personal identity, or personally identifiable information, being publicly unknown.There are many reasons why a...

) poets, there is no doubt that they are based on their peoples' older oral traditions. Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

ic traditions have survived in the lais
Breton lai
A Breton lai, also known as a narrative lay or simply a lay, is a form of medieval French and English romance literature. Lais are short , rhymed tales of love and chivalry, often involving supernatural and fairy-world Celtic motifs...

 of Marie de France
Marie de France
Marie de France was a medieval poet who was probably born in France and lived in England during the late 12th century. She lived and wrote at an undisclosed court, but was almost certainly at least known about at the royal court of King Henry II of England...

, the Mabinogion
Mabinogion
The Mabinogion is the title given to a collection of eleven prose stories collated from medieval Welsh manuscripts. The tales draw on pre-Christian Celtic mythology, international folktale motifs, and early medieval historical traditions...

and the Arthurian cycles.

Anonymity


A notable amount of medieval literature is anonymous
Anonymity
Anonymity is derived from the Greek word ἀνωνυμία, anonymia, meaning "without a name" or "namelessness". In colloquial use, anonymity typically refers to the state of an individual's personal identity, or personally identifiable information, being publicly unknown.There are many reasons why a...

. This is not only due to the lack of documents from a period, but also due to an interpretation of the author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

's role that differs considerably from the romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 interpretation of the term in use today. Medieval authors often deeply respected the classical
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 writers and the Church Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 and tended to re-tell and embellish stories they had heard or read rather than invent new stories. And even when they did, they often claimed to be handing down something from an auctor
Auctor
Auctor is Latin for author or originator. The term is used in Scholasticism for a "renowned scholar", and in alpha taxonomy for the scientist describing a species. The term is widely replaced by author in zoological nomenclature, but is still in use in botany.Related to the notion of legitimacy on...

 instead. From this point of view, the names of the individual authors seemed much less important, and therefore many important works were never attributed to any specific person.

Religious


Theological works were the dominant form of literature typically found in libraries during the Middle Ages. Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 clerics were the intellectual center of society in the Middle Ages, and it is their literature that was produced in the greatest quantity.

Countless hymn
Hymn
A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

s survive from this time period (both liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 and paraliturgical). The liturgy itself was not in fixed form, and numerous competing missals set out individual conceptions of the order of the mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

. Religious scholars such as Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury , also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109...

, Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

, and Pierre Abélard wrote lengthy theological
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 and philosophical
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 treatises, often attempting to reconcile the teachings of the Greek and Roman pagan authors with the doctrines of the Church. Hagiographies
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

, or "lives of the saints", were also frequently written, as an encouragement to the devout and a warning to others.

The Golden Legend
Golden Legend
The Golden Legend is a collection of hagiographies by Jacobus de Voragine that became a late medieval bestseller. More than a thousand manuscripts of the text have survived, compared to twenty or so of its nearest rivals...

of Jacobus de Voragine
Jacobus de Voragine
Blessed Jacobus de Varagine or Voragine was an Italian chronicler and archbishop of Genoa. He was the author, or more accurately the compiler, of Legenda Aurea, the Golden Legend, a collection of the legendary lives of the greater saints of the medieval church that was one of the most popular...

 reached such popularity that, in its time, it was reportedly read more often than the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. Francis of Assisi
Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men's Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the lay Third Order of Saint Francis. St...

 was a prolific poet, and his Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 followers frequently wrote poetry themselves as an expression of their piety. Dies Irae
Dies Irae
Dies Irae is a thirteenth century Latin hymn thought to be written by Thomas of Celano . It is a medieval Latin poem characterized by its accentual stress and its rhymed lines. The metre is trochaic...

and Stabat Mater
Stabat Mater
Stabat Mater is a 13th-century Roman Catholic hymn to Mary. It has been variously attributed to the Franciscan Jacopone da Todi and to Innocent III...

are two of the most powerful Latin poems on religious subjects. Goliardic poetry (four-line stanzas of satiric verse) was an art form used by some clerics to express dissent. The only widespread religious writing that was not produced by clerics were the mystery play
Mystery play
Mystery plays and miracle plays are among the earliest formally developed plays in medieval Europe. Medieval mystery plays focused on the representation of Bible stories in churches as tableaux with accompanying antiphonal song...

s: growing out of simple tableaux
Tableau vivant
Tableau vivant is French for "living picture." The term describes a striking group of suitably costumed actors or artist's models, carefully posed and often theatrically lit. Throughout the duration of the display, the people shown do not speak or move...

 re-enactments of a single Biblical scene, each mystery play became its village's expression of the key events in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. The text of these plays was often controlled by local guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

s, and mystery plays would be performed regularly on set feast-days, often lasting all day long and into the night.

During the Middle Ages, the Jewish population of Europe also produced a number of outstanding writers. Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

, born in Cordoba, Spain
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

, and Rashi
Rashi
Shlomo Yitzhaki , or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi , was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh...

, born in Troyes
Troyes
Troyes is a commune and the capital of the Aube department in north-central France. It is located on the Seine river about southeast of Paris. Many half-timbered houses survive in the old town...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, are two of the best-known and most influential of these Jewish authors.

Secular


Secular literature in this period was not produced in equal quantity as religious literature, but much has survived and we possess today a rich corpus. The subject of "courtly love
Courtly love
Courtly love was a medieval European conception of nobly and chivalrously expressing love and admiration. Generally, courtly love was secret and between members of the nobility. It was also generally not practiced between husband and wife....

" became important in the 11th century, especially in the Romance languages
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

 (in the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, Galician-Portuguese
Galician-Portuguese
Galician-Portuguese or Old Portuguese was a West Iberian Romance language spoken in the Middle Ages, in the northwest area of the Iberian Peninsula. It was first spoken in the area bounded in the north and west by the Atlantic Ocean and the Douro River in the south but it was later extended south...

, Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

, Provençal languages, most notably) and Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, where the traveling singers—troubadour
Troubadour
A troubadour was a composer and performer of Old Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages . Since the word "troubadour" is etymologically masculine, a female troubadour is usually called a trobairitz....

s—made a living from their songs. The writings of the troubadours are often associated with unrequited longing, but this is not entirely accurate (see aubade
Aubade
An aubade is a morning love song , or a song or poem about lovers separating at dawn. It has also been defined as "a song or instrumental composition concerning, accompanying, or evoking daybreak"....

, for instance). In Germany, the Minnesänger continued the tradition of the troubadours.

In addition to epic poems in the Germanic tradition (e.g. Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

and Nibelungenlied
Nibelungenlied
The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

), epic poems in the tradition of the chanson de geste
Chanson de geste
The chansons de geste, Old French for "songs of heroic deeds", are the epic poems that appear at the dawn of French literature. The earliest known examples date from the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, nearly a hundred years before the emergence of the lyric poetry of the trouvères and...

(e.g. The Song of Roland
The Song of Roland
The Song of Roland is the oldest surviving major work of French literature. It exists in various manuscript versions which testify to its enormous and enduring popularity in the 12th to 14th centuries...

 and Digenis Acritas
Digenis Acritas
Digenes Akrites , known in folksongs as Digenes Akritas , is the most famous of the Acritic Songs. The epic details the life of its eponymous hero, Basil, a man, as the epithet signifies, of mixed Roman and Syrian blood...

which deal with the Matter of France
Matter of France
The Matter of France, also known as the Carolingian cycle, is a body of literature and legendary material associated with the history of France, in particular involving Charlemagne and his associates. The cycle springs from the Old French chansons de geste, and was later adapted into a variety of...

 and the Acritic songs
Acritic songs
The Acritic songs are the heroic or epic poetry that emerged in the Byzantine Empire probably in the 9th century. The songs celebrated the exploits of the Akrites, the frontier guards defending the eastern borders of the Byzantine Empire. The historical background was the almost...

 respectively) and courtly romances in the tradition of the roman courtois, which deal with the Matter of Britain
Matter of Britain
The Matter of Britain is a name given collectively to the body of literature and legendary material associated with Great Britain and its legendary kings, particularly King Arthur...

 and the Matter of Rome
Matter of Rome
According to the medieval poet Jean Bodel, the Matter of Rome was the literary cycle made up of Greek and Roman mythology, together with episodes from the history of classical antiquity, focusing on military heroes like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar...

, achieved great and lasting popularity. The roman courtois is distinguished from the chanson de geste not only by its subject matter, but also by its emphasis on love and chivalry rather than acts of war.

Political poetry was written also, especially towards the end of this period, and the goliard
Goliard
The Goliards were a group of clergy who wrote bibulous, satirical Latin poetry in the 12th and 13th centuries. They were mainly clerical students at the universities of France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and England who protested the growing contradictions within the Church, such as the failure of the...

ic form saw use by secular writers as well as clerics. Travel literature was highly popular in the Middle Ages, as fantastic accounts of far-off lands (frequently embellished or entirely false) entertained a society that, in most cases, limited people to the area in which they were born. (But note the importance of pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

s, especially to Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James...

, in medieval times, also witnessed by the prominence of Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

's Canterbury Tales).

The most prominent authors of Jewish secular poetry in the Middle Ages were Solomon ibn Gabirol
Solomon ibn Gabirol
Solomon ibn Gabirol, also Solomon ben Judah , was an Andalucian Hebrew poet and Jewish philosopher with a Neoplatonic bent. He was born in Málaga about 1021; died about 1058 in Valencia.-Biography:...

 and Yehuda Halevi
Yehuda Halevi
Judah Halevi was a Spanish Jewish physician, poet and philosopher. He was born in Spain, either in Toledo or Tudela, in 1075 or 1086, and died shortly after arriving in Palestine in 1141...

, both of whom were also renowned religious poets.

Women's literature


While it is true that women in the medieval period were never accorded full equality with men (although some sects, such as the Cathar
Cathar
Catharism was a name given to a Christian religious sect with dualistic and gnostic elements that appeared in the Languedoc region of France and other parts of Europe in the 11th century and flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries...

s, afforded women greater status and rights), some women were able to use their skill with the written word to gain renown. Religious writing was the easiest avenue—women who would later be canonized as saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

s frequently published their reflections, revelations, and prayers. Much of what is known about women in the Middle Ages
Women in the Middle Ages
Women in the Middle Ages occupied a number of different social roles. Women in the Middle Ages, a period of European history from around the 5th century to the 15th century, held the position of wife, mother, peasant, artisan, and nun, as well as some important leadership roles, such as abbess or...

 is known from the works of nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s such as Clare of Assisi
Clare of Assisi
Clare of Assisi , born Chiara Offreduccio, is an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi...

, Bridget of Sweden
Bridget of Sweden
Bridget of Sweden Bridget of Sweden Bridget of Sweden (1303 – 23 July 1373; also Birgitta of Vadstena, Saint Birgitta , was a mystic and saint, and founder of the Bridgettines nuns and monks after the death of her husband of twenty years...

, and Catherine of Siena
Catherine of Siena
Saint Catherine of Siena, T.O.S.D, was a tertiary of the Dominican Order, and a Scholastic philosopher and theologian. She also worked to bring the papacy of Gregory XI back to Rome from its displacement in France, and to establish peace among the Italian city-states. She was proclaimed a Doctor...

.

Frequently, however, the religious perspectives of women were held to be unorthodox by those in power, and the mystical visions of such authors as Julian of Norwich
Julian of Norwich
Julian of Norwich is regarded as one of the most important English mystics. She is venerated in the Anglican and Lutheran churches, but has never been canonized, or officially beatified, by the Catholic Church, probably because so little is known of her life aside from her writings, including the...

 and Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard of Bingen
Blessed Hildegard of Bingen , also known as Saint Hildegard, and Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath. Elected a magistra by her fellow nuns in 1136, she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and...

 provide insight into a part of the medieval experience less comfortable for the institutions that ruled Europe at the time. Women wrote influential texts in the secular realm as well—reflections on courtly love and society by Marie de France
Marie de France
Marie de France was a medieval poet who was probably born in France and lived in England during the late 12th century. She lived and wrote at an undisclosed court, but was almost certainly at least known about at the royal court of King Henry II of England...

 and Christine de Pizan
Christine de Pizan
Christine de Pizan was a Venetian-born late medieval author who challenged misogyny and stereotypes prevalent in the male-dominated medieval culture. As a poet, she was well known and highly regarded in her own day; she completed 41 works during her 30 year career , and can be regarded as...

 continue to be studied for their glimpses of medieval society.

Allegory


While medieval literature makes use of many literary devices, allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 is so prominent in this period as to deserve special mention. Much of medieval literature relied on allegory to convey the morals the author had in mind while writing—representations of abstract qualities, events, and institutions are thick in much of the literature of this time. Probably the earliest and most influential allegory is the Psychomachia
Psychomachia
The Psychomachia by the Late Antique Latin poet Prudentius is probably the first and most influential "pure" medieval allegory, the first in a long tradition of works as diverse as the Romance of the Rose, Everyman, and Piers Plowman.In slightly less than a thousand lines, the poem describes the...

(Battle of Souls) by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius. Other important examples include the Romance of the Rose, Everyman
Everyman (play)
The Somonyng of Everyman , usually referred to simply as Everyman, is a late 15th-century English morality play. Like John Bunyan's novel Pilgrim's Progress, Everyman examines the question of Christian salvation by use of allegorical characters, and what Man must do to attain it...

, Piers Plowman
Piers Plowman
Piers Plowman or Visio Willelmi de Petro Plowman is the title of a Middle English allegorical narrative poem by William Langland. It is written in unrhymed alliterative verse divided into sections called "passus"...

, Roman de Fauvel
Roman de Fauvel
The Roman de Fauvel, translated as The Story of the Fawn-Colored Beast, is a 14th century French poem accredited to French royal clerk Gervais du Bus, though probably best known for its musical arrangement by Philippe de Vitry in the Ars Nova style...

, and The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature...

.

Notable literature of the period

  • Alexiad
    Alexiad
    The Alexiad is a medieval biographical text written around the year 1148 by the Byzantine historian Anna Comnena, daughter of Emperor Alexius I....

    , Anna Comnena
  • Beowulf
    Beowulf
    Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

    , anonymous
    Anonymous work
    Anonymous works are works, such as art or literature, that have an anonymous, undisclosed, or unknown creator or author. In the United States it is legally defined as "a work on the copies or phonorecords of which no natural person is identified as author."...

     Anglo-Saxon
    Anglo-Saxons
    Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

     author
  • Caedmon's Hymn
  • Cantigas de Santa Maria
    Cantigas de Santa Maria
    The Cantigas de Santa Maria are 420 poems with musical notation, written in Galician-Portuguese during the reign of Alfonso X El Sabio and often attributed to him....

    , Galician
    Galician literature
    Galician language literature is the literature written in Galician. The earliest works in Galician language are from the early 13th-century trovadorismo tradition...

     authors
  • The Book of the City of Ladies
    The Book of the City of Ladies
    thumb|400px|right|Picture from The Book of the City of LadiesThe Book of the City of Ladies , or Le Livre de la Cité des Dames, is perhaps Christine de Pizan's most famous literary work, and it is her second work of lengthy prose. Pizan uses the vernacular French language to compose the book, but...

    , Christine de Pizan
    Christine de Pizan
    Christine de Pizan was a Venetian-born late medieval author who challenged misogyny and stereotypes prevalent in the male-dominated medieval culture. As a poet, she was well known and highly regarded in her own day; she completed 41 works during her 30 year career , and can be regarded as...

  • Book of the Civilized Man
    Book of the Civilized Man
    Book of the Civilized Man by Daniel of Beccles . Also known as Liber Urbani or Urbanus Magnus or Civilized Man. It is believed to be the first English courtesy book , dating probably from the beginning of the 13th century...

    , Daniel of Beccles
  • The Book of Good Love
    The Book of Good Love
    The Book of Good Love , considered to be one of the masterpieces of Spanish poetry, is a semi-biographical account of romantic adventures by Juan Ruiz, the Archpriest of Hita, dating from 1330....

    , Juan Ruiz
    Juan Ruiz
    Juan Ruiz , known as the Archpriest of Hita , was a medieval Spanish poet. He is best known for his ribald, earthy poem, Libro de buen amor .-Origins:...

  • The Book of Margery Kempe, Margery Kempe
    Margery Kempe
    Margery Kempe is known for dictating The Book of Margery Kempe, a work considered by some to be the first autobiography in the English language. This book chronicles, to some extent, her extensive pilgrimages to various holy sites in Europe and Asia, as well as her mystical conversations with God...

  • Brut
    Brut (Layamon)
    Layamon's Brut , also known as The Chronicle of Britain, is a Middle English poem compiled and recast by the English priest Layamon. The Brut is 16,095 lines long and narrates the history of Britain: it is the first historiography written in English since the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle...

    , Layamon
    Layamon
    Layamon or Laghamon (ˈlaɣamon; in American English often modernised as ; ), occasionally written Lawman, was a poet of the early 13th century and author of the Brut, a notable English poem of the 12th century that was the first English language work to discuss the legends of Arthur and the...

  • Brut
    Roman de Brut
    Roman de Brut or Brut is a verse literary history of Britain by the poet Wace. Written in the Norman language, it consists of 14,866 lines....

    , Wace
    Wace
    Wace was a Norman poet, who was born in Jersey and brought up in mainland Normandy , ending his career as Canon of Bayeux.-Life:...

  • The Canterbury Tales
    The Canterbury Tales
    The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century. The tales are told as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwark to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at...

    , Geoffrey Chaucer
    Geoffrey Chaucer
    Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

  • The Cloud of Unknowing
    The Cloud of Unknowing
    The Cloud of Unknowing is an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in Middle English in the latter half of the 14th century. The text is a spiritual guide on contemplative prayer in the late Middle Ages.Manuscripts of the work are today at British Library and Cambridge University Library...

    , anonymous English
    English people
    The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

     author
  • Consolation of Philosophy
    Consolation of Philosophy
    Consolation of Philosophy is a philosophical work by Boethius, written around the year 524. It has been described as the single most important and influential work in the West on Medieval and early Renaissance Christianity, and is also the last great Western work that can be called Classical.-...

    , Boethius
    Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
    Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, commonly called Boethius was a philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born in Rome to an ancient and important family which included emperors Petronius Maximus and Olybrius and many consuls. His father, Flavius Manlius Boethius, was consul in 487 after...

  • David of Sassoun, anonymous Armenia
    Armenia
    Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

    n author
  • Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio
    Giovanni Boccaccio
    Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian author and poet, a friend, student, and correspondent of Petrarch, an important Renaissance humanist and the author of a number of notable works including the Decameron, On Famous Women, and his poetry in the Italian vernacular...

  • The Dialogue, Catherine of Siena
    Catherine of Siena
    Saint Catherine of Siena, T.O.S.D, was a tertiary of the Dominican Order, and a Scholastic philosopher and theologian. She also worked to bring the papacy of Gregory XI back to Rome from its displacement in France, and to establish peace among the Italian city-states. She was proclaimed a Doctor...

  • Digenis Acritas
    Digenis Acritas
    Digenes Akrites , known in folksongs as Digenes Akritas , is the most famous of the Acritic Songs. The epic details the life of its eponymous hero, Basil, a man, as the epithet signifies, of mixed Roman and Syrian blood...

    , anonymous
    Anonymous work
    Anonymous works are works, such as art or literature, that have an anonymous, undisclosed, or unknown creator or author. In the United States it is legally defined as "a work on the copies or phonorecords of which no natural person is identified as author."...

     Greek author
    Greek literature
    Greek literature refers to writings composed in areas of Greek influence, typically though not necessarily in one of the Greek dialects, throughout the whole period in which the Greek-speaking people have existed.-Ancient Greek literature :...

  • The Diseases of Women, Trotula of Salerno
    Trotula of Salerno
    Trotula can refer to Trotula of Salerno or the Trotula texts. Trotula of Salerno was a female physician who worked in Salerno, Italy. Several writings about women’s health have been attributed to her, including Diseases of Women, Treatments for Women, and Women’s Cosmetics...

  • La divina commedia
    The Divine Comedy
    The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature...

    (The Divine Comedy), Dante Alighieri
    Dante Alighieri
    Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

  • Dukus Horant
    Dukus Horant
    Dukus Horant is a 14th-century narrative poem in Judeo-German .-Importance:Dukus Horant is the best known of a number of works which survive in the famous Cambridge Codex T.-S.10.K.22. This manuscript was discovered in the Cairo Geniza in 1896, and contains a collection of narrative poems in a...

    , the first extended work in Yiddish.
  • Elder Edda, various Iceland
    Iceland
    Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

    ic authors
  • Das fließende Licht der Gottheit, Mechthild of Magdeburg
    Mechthild of Magdeburg
    Mechthild of Magdeburg , a Beguine, was a medieval mystic, whose book Das fließende Licht der Gottheit described her visions of God....

  • Gesta Danorum
    Gesta Danorum
    Gesta Danorum is a patriotic work of Danish history, by the 12th century author Saxo Grammaticus . It is the most ambitious literary undertaking of medieval Denmark and is an essential source for the nation's early history...

    , Saxo Grammaticus
    Saxo Grammaticus
    Saxo Grammaticus also known as Saxo cognomine Longus was a Danish historian, thought to have been a secular clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, foremost advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the first full history of Denmark.- Life :The Jutland Chronicle gives...

  • Heimskringla
    Heimskringla
    Heimskringla is the best known of the Old Norse kings' sagas. It was written in Old Norse in Iceland by the poet and historian Snorri Sturluson ca. 1230...

    , Snorri Sturluson
    Snorri Sturluson
    Snorri Sturluson was an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician. He was twice elected lawspeaker at the Icelandic parliament, the Althing...

  • Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
    Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
    The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity.It is considered to be one of the most important original references on...

    (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People), the Venerable Bede
    Bede
    Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

  • The Knight in the Panther Skin, Shota Rustaveli
    Shota Rustaveli
    Shota Rustaveli was a Georgian poet of the 12th century, and one of the greatest contributors to Georgian literature. He is author of "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" , the Georgian national epic poem....

  • The Lais of Marie de France
    The Lais of Marie de France
    The Lais of Marie de France are a series of twelve short narrative Breton lais by the poet Marie de France. They are written in the Anglo-Norman and were probably composed in the late 12th century. The short, narrative poems generally focus on glorifying the concept of courtly love through the...

    , Marie de France
    Marie de France
    Marie de France was a medieval poet who was probably born in France and lived in England during the late 12th century. She lived and wrote at an undisclosed court, but was almost certainly at least known about at the royal court of King Henry II of England...

  • The Letters of Abelard and Heloise
  • Libro de los ejemplos del conde Lucanor y de Patronio
    Libro de los ejemplos del conde Lucanor y de Patronio
    Don Juan Manuel's Tales of Count Lucanor, in Spanish Libro de los ejemplos del conde Lucanor y de Patronio , also commonly known as El Conde Lucanor or Libro de los ejemplos , is one of the earliest works of prose in...

    (Book of the Examples of Count Lucanor and of Patronio), Don Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena
  • Ludus de Antichristo
    Ludus de Antichristo
    The Ludus de Antichristo is a liturgical drama from the 12th century whose original author is unknown. Its origins are almost certainly from southern Germany, possibly from someone writing in the town of Regensburg...

    , anonymous German
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

     author
  • Mabinogion
    Mabinogion
    The Mabinogion is the title given to a collection of eleven prose stories collated from medieval Welsh manuscripts. The tales draw on pre-Christian Celtic mythology, international folktale motifs, and early medieval historical traditions...

    , various Welsh
    Wales
    Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

     authors
  • Metrical Dindshenchas, Irish
    Irish literature
    For a comparatively small island, Ireland has made a disproportionately large contribution to world literature. Irish literature encompasses the Irish and English languages.-The beginning of writing in Irish:...

     onomastic poems
  • Il milione
    The Travels of Marco Polo
    Books of the Marvels of the World or Description of the World , also nicknamed Il Milione or Oriente Poliano and commonly called The Travels of Marco Polo, is a 13th-century travelogue written down by Rustichello da Pisa from stories told by Marco Polo, describing the...

    (The Travels of Marco Polo), Marco Polo
    Marco Polo
    Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

  • Le Morte d'Arthur
    Le Morte d'Arthur
    Le Morte d'Arthur is a compilation by Sir Thomas Malory of Romance tales about the legendary King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table...

    , Sir Thomas Malory
    Thomas Malory
    Sir Thomas Malory was an English writer, the author or compiler of Le Morte d'Arthur. The antiquary John Leland as well as John Bale believed him to be Welsh, but most modern scholars, beginning with G. L...

  • Nibelungenlied
    Nibelungenlied
    The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

    , anonymous German
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

     author
  • Njál's saga
    Njál's saga
    Njáls saga is one of the sagas of Icelanders. The most prominent characters are the friends Njáll Þorgeirsson, a lawyer and a sage, and Gunnarr Hámundarson, a formidable warrior...

    , anonymous Iceland
    Iceland
    Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

    ic author
  • Parzival
    Parzival
    Parzival is a major medieval German romance by the poet Wolfram von Eschenbach, in the Middle High German language. The poem, commonly dated to the first quarter of the 13th century, is itself largely based on Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval, the Story of the Grail and mainly centers on the Arthurian...

    , Wolfram von Eschenbach
    Wolfram von Eschenbach
    Wolfram von Eschenbach was a German knight and poet, regarded as one of the greatest epic poets of his time. As a Minnesinger, he also wrote lyric poetry.-Life:...

  • Piers Plowman
    Piers Plowman
    Piers Plowman or Visio Willelmi de Petro Plowman is the title of a Middle English allegorical narrative poem by William Langland. It is written in unrhymed alliterative verse divided into sections called "passus"...

    , William Langland
    William Langland
    William Langland is the conjectured author of the 14th-century English dream-vision Piers Plowman.- Life :The attribution of Piers to Langland rests principally on the evidence of a manuscript held at Trinity College, Dublin...

  • Poem of the Cid
    Cantar de Mio Cid
    El Cantar de Myo Çid , also known in English as The Lay of the Cid and The Poem of the Cid is the oldest preserved Spanish epic poem...

    , anonymous Spanish
    Spain
    Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

     author
  • Proslogium
    Proslogion
    The Proslogion, , written in 1077-1078, was written as a prayer, or meditation, by the medieval cleric Anselm which serves to reflect on the attributes of God and endeavours to explain how God can have qualities which often seem contradictory...

    , Anselm of Canterbury
    Anselm of Canterbury
    Anselm of Canterbury , also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109...

  • Queste del Saint Graal (The Quest of the Holy Grail), anonymous French
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     author
  • Revelations of Divine Love
    Revelations of Divine Love
    The Revelations of Divine Love is a book of Christian mystical devotions written by Julian of Norwich. It is believed to be the first published book in the English language to be written by a woman. At the age of thirty, 13 May 1373, Julian was struck with a serious illness...

    , Julian of Norwich
    Julian of Norwich
    Julian of Norwich is regarded as one of the most important English mystics. She is venerated in the Anglican and Lutheran churches, but has never been canonized, or officially beatified, by the Catholic Church, probably because so little is known of her life aside from her writings, including the...

  • Roman de la Rose
    Roman de la Rose
    The Roman de la rose, , is a medieval French poem styled as an allegorical dream vision. It is a notable instance of courtly literature. The work's stated purpose is to both entertain and to teach others about the Art of Love. At various times in the poem, the "Rose" of the title is seen as the...

    , Guillaume de Lorris
    Guillaume de Lorris
    Guillaume de Lorris was a French scholar and poet from Lorris. He was the author of the first section of the Roman de la Rose. Little is known about him, other than that he wrote the earlier section of the poem around 1230, and that the work was completed forty years later by Jean de Meun.-...

     and Jean de Meun
    Jean de Meun
    Jean de Meun was a French author best known for his continuation of the Roman de la Rose.-Life:...

  • Sadko
    Sadko
    Sadko is a Russian medieval epic . The title character is an adventurer, merchant and gusli musician from Novgorod.-Synopsis:Sadko played the gusli on the shores of a lake. The Sea Tsar enjoyed his music, and offered to help him...

    , anonymous Russian
    Rus' (people)
    The Rus' were a group of Varangians . According to the Primary Chronicle of Rus, compiled in about 1113 AD, the Rus had relocated from the Baltic region , first to Northeastern Europe, creating an early polity which finally came under the leadership of Rurik...

     author
  • Scivias
    Scivias
    Scivias is an illustrated work by Hildegard von Bingen, completed in 1151 or 1152, describing 26 religious visions she experienced. It is the first of three works that she wrote describing her visions, the others being Liber vitae meritorum and De operatione Dei...

    , Hildegard of Bingen
    Hildegard of Bingen
    Blessed Hildegard of Bingen , also known as Saint Hildegard, and Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath. Elected a magistra by her fellow nuns in 1136, she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and...

  • Sic et Non
    Sic et Non
    Sic et Non, an early scholastic text whose title translates from Medieval Latin as "Yes and No," was written by Pierre Abélard. In the work, Abélard juxtaposes apparently contradictory quotations from the Church Fathers on many of the traditional topics of Christian theology...

    , Abelard
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century Middle English alliterative romance outlining an adventure of Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur's Round Table. In the poem, Sir Gawain accepts a challenge from a mysterious warrior who is completely green, from his clothes and hair to his...

    , anonymous English
    English people
    The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

     author
  • The Song of Roland
    The Song of Roland
    The Song of Roland is the oldest surviving major work of French literature. It exists in various manuscript versions which testify to its enormous and enduring popularity in the 12th to 14th centuries...

    , anonymous French
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     author
  • Spiritual Exercises
    Gertrude the Great
    Gertrude the Great was a German Benedictine, mystic, and theologian.She is recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, and is inscribed in the General Roman Calendar, for celebration throughout the Latin Rite on November 16.Gertrude was born January 6, 1256, in Eisleben, Thuringia...

    , Gertrude the Great
    Gertrude the Great
    Gertrude the Great was a German Benedictine, mystic, and theologian.She is recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, and is inscribed in the General Roman Calendar, for celebration throughout the Latin Rite on November 16.Gertrude was born January 6, 1256, in Eisleben, Thuringia...

  • Summa Theologiae
    Summa Theologica
    The Summa Theologiæ is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas , and although unfinished, "one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature." It is intended as a manual for beginners in theology and a compendium of all of the main...

    , Thomas Aquinas
    Thomas Aquinas
    Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

  • Táin Bó Cúailnge
    Táin Bó Cúailnge
    is a legendary tale from early Irish literature, often considered an epic, although it is written primarily in prose rather than verse. It tells of a war against Ulster by the Connacht queen Medb and her husband Ailill, who intend to steal the stud bull Donn Cuailnge, opposed only by the teenage...

    , anonymous Irish
    Ireland
    Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

     author
  • The Tale of Igor's Campaign
    The Tale of Igor's Campaign
    The Tale of Igor's Campaign is an anonymous epic poem written in the Old East Slavic language.The title is occasionally translated as The Song of Igor's Campaign, The Lay of Igor's Campaign, and The Lay of...

    , anonymous Russian
    Rus' (people)
    The Rus' were a group of Varangians . According to the Primary Chronicle of Rus, compiled in about 1113 AD, the Rus had relocated from the Baltic region , first to Northeastern Europe, creating an early polity which finally came under the leadership of Rurik...

     author
  • Tirant lo Blanc
    Tirant lo Blanc
    Tirant lo Blanch or Tirant lo Blanc is a romance written by the Valencian knight Joanot Martorell and published in Valencia in 1490. The title means "Tirant the White" and is the name of the main character in the romance...

    , Joanot Martorell
    Joanot Martorell
    Joanot Martorell was a Valencian knight and the author of the novel Tirant lo Blanch, which is written in Valencian...

  • The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, John Mandeville
    John Mandeville
    "Jehan de Mandeville", translated as "Sir John Mandeville", is the name claimed by the compiler of The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, a book account of his supposed travels, written in Anglo-Norman French, and first circulated between 1357 and 1371.By aid of translations into many other languages...

  • Tristan
    Tristan
    Tristan is one of the main characters of the Tristan and Iseult story, a Cornish hero and one of the Knights of the Round Table featuring in the Matter of Britain...

    , Thomas d'Angleterre
  • Tristan
    Tristan
    Tristan is one of the main characters of the Tristan and Iseult story, a Cornish hero and one of the Knights of the Round Table featuring in the Matter of Britain...

    , Béroul
    Béroul
    Béroul was a Norman poet of the 12th century. He wrote Tristan, a Norman language version of the legend of Tristan and Iseult of which a certain number of fragments have been preserved; it is the earliest representation of the so-called "vulgar" version of the legend...

  • Troilus and Criseyde
    Troilus and Criseyde
    Troilus and Criseyde is a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer which re-tells in Middle English the tragic story of the lovers Troilus and Criseyde set against a backdrop of war in the Siege of Troy. It was composed using rime royale and probably completed during the mid 1380s. Many Chaucer scholars regard it...

    , Geoffrey Chaucer
    Geoffrey Chaucer
    Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

  • Waltharius
    Waltharius
    Waltharius, a Latin poem founded on German popular tradition, relates the exploits of the west Gothic hero Walter of Aquitaine.-History:Our knowledge of the author, Ekkehard, a monk of St. Gall, is due to a later Ekkehard, known as Ekkehard IV , who gives some account of him in the Casus Sancti Galli...

  • Younger Edda, Snorri Sturluson
    Snorri Sturluson
    Snorri Sturluson was an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician. He was twice elected lawspeaker at the Icelandic parliament, the Althing...

  • Yvain: The Knight of the Lion, Chrétien de Troyes
    Chrétien de Troyes
    Chrétien de Troyes was a French poet and trouvère who flourished in the late 12th century. Perhaps he named himself Christian of Troyes in contrast to the illustrious Rashi, also of Troyes...


By region or language

  • Anglo-Norman literature
    Anglo-Norman literature
    Anglo-Norman literature is literature composed in the Anglo-Norman language developed during the period 1066–1204 when the Duchy of Normandy and England were united in the Anglo-Norman realm.-Introduction:...

  • Byzantine literature
    Byzantine literature
    Byzantine literature may be defined as the Greek literature of the Middle Ages, whether written in the territory of the Byzantine Empire or outside its borders...

  • Medieval Bulgarian literature
    Medieval Bulgarian literature
    The Medieval Bulgarian literature may be defined as the Bulgarian literature in the Middle Ages written in the Bulgarian Empire or outside its borders....

  • Medieval Serbian literature
  • Old English literature
  • Middle English literature
    Middle English literature
    The term Middle English literature refers to the literature written in the form of the English language known as Middle English, from the 12th century until the 1470s, when the Chancery Standard, a form of London-based English, became widespread and the printing press regularized the language...

  • Early English Jewish literature
    Early English Jewish literature
    English Jewish Literature:-Effects of restrictions:The increasing degradation of the political status of the Jews in the thirteenth century is paralleled by the scantiness of their literary output as compared with that of the twelfth...

  • Medieval French literature
    Medieval French literature
    Medieval French literature is, for the purpose of this article, literature written in Oïl languages during the period from the eleventh century to the end of the fifteenth century....

  • Medieval German literature
    Medieval German literature
    Medieval German literature refers to literature written in Germany, stretching from the Carolingian dynasty; various dates have been given for the end of the German literary Middle Ages, the Reformation being the last possible cut-off point....

  • Medieval Latin literature
    • Latin translations of the 12th century
  • Old Norse literature
    Old Norse literature
    Old Norse literature refers to the vernacular literature of the Scandinavian peoples up to ca. 1350. It chiefly consists of Icelandic writings.See:* Old Norse poetry* Edda* Norse saga* Icelanders' sagas* Kings' sagas* Legendary sagas...

  • Pahlavi literature
    Pahlavi literature
    Middle Persian literature also called Pahlavi literature is Persian literature of the 1st millennium AD, especially of the Sassanid period.- Literature of Pahlavi :Pahlavi Literature can be divided in three parts:...

  • Medieval Welsh literature
    Medieval Welsh literature
    Medieval Welsh literature is the literature written in the Welsh language during the Middle Ages. This includes material from the fifth century, when Welsh was in the process of becoming distinct from the British language, to the works of the 16th century....


By genre

  • Medieval poetry
    Medieval poetry
    Because most of what we have was written down by clerics, much of extant medieval poetry is religious. The chief exception is the work of the troubadours and the minnesänger, whose primary innovation was the ideal of courtly love. Among the most famous of secular poetry is Carmina Burana, a...

  • Medieval drama
  • Medieval allegory
  • Fabliau
    Fabliau
    A fabliau is a comic, often anonymous tale written by jongleurs in northeast France between ca. 1150 and 1400. They are generally characterized by an excessiveness of sexual and scatological obscenity. Several of them were reworked by Giovanni Boccaccio for the Decamerone and by Geoffrey Chaucer...

  • Medieval travel literature
  • Arthurian literature
  • Alexander romances
  • Chanson de geste
    Chanson de geste
    The chansons de geste, Old French for "songs of heroic deeds", are the epic poems that appear at the dawn of French literature. The earliest known examples date from the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, nearly a hundred years before the emergence of the lyric poetry of the trouvères and...

  • Eddic poetry
  • Skaldic poetry
  • Alliterative verse
    Alliterative verse
    In prosody, alliterative verse is a form of verse that uses alliteration as the principal structuring device to unify lines of poetry, as opposed to other devices such as rhyme. The most commonly studied traditions of alliterative verse are those found in the oldest literature of many Germanic...

  • Miracle plays
  • Morality plays
  • Mystery plays
  • Passion plays

By period

  • Early Medieval literature
    Early Medieval literature
    See also: Ancient literature, 10th century in literature, list of years in literature.This is a list of literature dating to the 6th to 9th centuries...

     (6th to 9th centuries)
  • 10th century in literature
    10th century in literature
    See also: 10th century in poetry, Early Medieval literature, 11th century in literature, list of years in literature.-New books:*Beowulf *Anglo-Saxon Chronicle...

  • 11th century in literature
    11th century in literature
    See also: 11th century in poetry, 10th century in literature, 12th century in literature, list of years in literature.-New books:*1000 - Al-Tasrif, by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi...

  • 12th century in literature
    12th century in literature
    See also: 12th century in poetry, 11th century in literature, 13th century in literature, list of years in literature.----The 12th century saw an increase in the production of Latin texts and a proliferation of literate clerics from the multiplying cathedral schools...

  • 13th century in literature
    13th century in literature
    See also: 13th century in poetry, 12th century in literature, other events of the 13th century, 14th century in literature, list of years in literature.-Events:*1211 - Hélinand of Froidmont begins compiling his Chronicon....

  • 14th century in literature
    14th century in literature
    See also: 14th century in poetry, 13th century in literature, other events of the 14th century, 15th century in literature, list of years in literature.-Events:*c.1330 - Production of the Macclesfield Psalter.*1331 - Production of the Nuremberg Mahzor....


External links