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  • We now move into the Medieval Period. The Medieval English Period (500 AD-1500 AD) was

  • not the Dark Age historians once defined it to be. The Medieval Period is also known as

  • the Dark Ages, where it is mistakenly said that no learning takes place. The darkness

  • that enveloped England is a result of the invading barbaric tribes and upheaval of law

  • and order. True, having invaders in one’s land would stunt the growth of learning, art,

  • and culture; however, this period was full of accomplishments. It is also a time where

  • courtly love, faith, and loyalty were expressed in duty to those higher in rank.

  • The Dark Ages was a transition time for law and order to come alive and Christianity to

  • entice the tired, devastated English people. A part of the Medieval English Period, the

  • Old English Period (500-1100 AD) begins with what is specifically known as the Anglo-Saxon

  • Period (500 AD through the 8th Century, or 799 AD). The Dark Ages in England can be seen

  • because of the many invasions of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in 500 AD. These groups

  • of people were also Germanic tribes, which would be the same tribes with whom the Romans

  • were battling to protect their empire. Legend states that King Arthur led resistance to

  • the Anglo-Saxon leaders during this time. However, Arthur lost and fled to the western-most

  • part of Wales and, eventually, to a portion of France known as Brittany, which is where

  • the tales of King Arthur originated, and it could also solidify and add value to the French

  • connection when the Normans conquer the Vikings in 1066.

  • Another significant occurrence in this period is that in 597 AD St. Augustine converts the

  • Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, which is important because the monks tended to be the only people

  • who could write, so they would be the ones to record any stories that still existed from

  • oral tradition. The monks, being extremely devout to God, could add subtle elements of

  • Christianity into the text. Although some works, such as Beowulf, written or recorded

  • in the 700s after St. Augustine’s conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, originated

  • in an Anglo-Saxon oral tradition and told by bards who upheld the pagan traditions of

  • the piece, they were recorded by scribes who were Christian, thus the tale most studied

  • today contains many Christian overtones as well as the epic war and gore scenes common

  • to tales told for generations by bards. These gory descriptions exemplify the Anglo-Saxon

  • pagan tradition in descriptive language and Greek pagan ideas to be included in the literature.

  • The people who wrote these epics in the oral sense probably had never read a story composed

  • by Homer since the fall of Constantinople, more than 750 years later in 1453, is when

  • the emergence of Greek texts occurs. It does prove that even though the cultures had different

  • lineage, the values are very similar. It would take the presence of Christianity to tame

  • the gory descriptions in future texts. A little over one-hundred years after the

  • written recording of Beowulf, in 856, the Vikings invaded England and obtained all the

  • kingdom in 870 except Wessex, which was owned by King Alfred. In 878, King Alfred, since

  • he could not defeat the Vikings in battle, negotiated the Treaty of Wedmore, which stated

  • that the Vikings were to accept Christianity and that the kingdom would be divided into

  • two separate halves, Danelaw in the northern portions of the island and English law in

  • the southern portions. During the height of his rule, King Alfred ordered all Anglo-Saxon

  • literature to be written down by scribes in order to preserve the Old English literature.

  • This was a very insightful act on his part since he was able to see the importance of

  • preserving stories that recorded history, culture, and a language.

  • In 1066, William the Conqueror of Normandy defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings,

  • which is the most important event that distinguishes the movements from the Old English Period

  • to the Middle English Period or Norman Period (1066-1500 AD). In conquering the English,

  • the Duke of Normandy brought over a new system of government under which the English would

  • live, called feudalism, and consists of a hierarchical order in which the king, William,

  • rules over his barons, who were members of the French aristocracy and helped him fight

  • in the Battle of Hastings.

  • Image 4: Hierarchy of Feudal Lords They were given portions of land to rule and

  • subjects over whom to rule. These servants were the poor Anglo-Saxons who had been forced

  • into serfdom and were known as villains, or slaves in more modern terms. They were tied

  • to their lord's land for the rest of their lives. They were given shelter and food in

  • return for their labor in the fields on his land. Another system set up by William the

  • Conqueror was an expansion of the language system. Until this point, monosyllabic words

  • or parts of words formed the Anglo-Saxon language. The arrival of the Duke and his men brought

  • new words to incorporate into the existing language to form the beginnings of the language

  • system known as English. Words with French and Latin lineage, such as baron, villain,

  • and literature, were introduced into the language system and broadened English into a more complex

  • language. The royal connections are used in modern times for its titles.

  • From 1070 to 1100, cathedral building began in an attempt to get closer to God. These

  • buildings were large, magnificent buildings that took decades to complete, but were worth

  • it in their aesthetic beauty and homage to God. They also showed the devotion that was

  • being created to religion, God, the arts, and scientific developments that are usually

  • minimized in the Medieval Period. The Renaissance gets the credit for being the most productive

  • and culturally in-tune period, but the Medieval Period holds many crucial accomplishments

  • that catalyze the Renaissance. Again, homage to God is seen in the literature throughout

  • this class. The signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 by

  • King John was a landmark event for treatment of man. The Magna Carta stated that no free

  • man was to be imprisoned or punished except by lawful judgment of his peers and the law

  • of the land. This is one of the many principles the founding fathers of America brought over

  • with them to ensure liberty and justice in the United States and has lived on for hundreds

  • of years. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of

  • the King Arthur tales that may have originated in the Anglo-Saxon Period and was written,

  • or published, between 1375 and 1400. Sir Gawain is the perfect, chivalric Christian who is

  • dutiful to his king, country, and, most of all, God. The story undergirds the notions

  • of courtly love and chivalric romance. (See Dr. Wheeler's "Courtly Love" description to

  • place the definition in historical and literary context.) Everyman was written, or published,

  • in 1485. This work, like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, had a Christian focus, but Everyman's

  • focus was a result from the loss of faith in God displayed by Englanders.

  • Although Gawain and Everyman display allegiance to God, several events happened to weaken

  • the allegiance to Rome and the Catholic Church. In 1348-9, the Black Death caused millions

  • to die, and with that died a part of the belief that if there were a God that he could create

  • something as terrible as a plague to kill all of their loved ones. Death was the concern,

  • not heaven. Labor unrest developed in the form of a revolt in 1381. The Peasant’s

  • Revolt consisted of 100,000 peasants who protested in London to demand relief from Richard II.

  • After having promised to help them, Richard II executed the revolt leaders and retracted

  • his agreements, leaving the people unaided. From 1337-1453, the Hundred Years War with

  • France occurred. The splitting of the Holy Roman Empire was a result of more than one

  • man claiming to be the true Pope of the Catholic Church. France had one of the Popes in Avignon

  • from 1308 to 1384 and solidified the anger England felt towards the Catholic Church.

  • During this time (from 1324 to 1384), John Wycliff rebelled against the collection of

  • papal taxes in England. He saw no sense in sending taxes to the Pope if the Church could

  • not decide who the real Pope was. He created his own translation of the Bible in 1382.

  • This chaos of disease and war would harm the foundation of any civilization, and it would

  • also stifle artistic and ideological expression. However, two major changes occurred to catalyze

  • and provide new opportunities and understandings about the world, bringing about the Renaissance.

  • One major invention ends the Middle Ages and transitions history into the next stage, known

  • as the Renaissance. The pivotal transition occurs in Germany in 1440 when Johann Gutenberg

  • invented the printing press, a technology that allowed hundreds of thousands of books

  • to be printed and distributed at a less expensive price. Prior to this invention, monks might

  • work on a book for years before it was finished, elaborately handwritten, ornately decorated,

  • and lined gold. Male religious leaders and the wealthy were literate in Latin and the

  • vernacular English, but the majority of the population was not. After the invention of

  • the printing press, the price of books dropped, literacy rose, and schools flourished all

  • over Europe. The social and religious impact of the Gutenberg press was not entirely positively

  • received, though. Religious leaders thought the invention would bring about the ruin of

  • civilization since people could more easily have access to or afford to purchase the bible,

  • and the stories of the Bible might not be able to be preserved. It was translated into

  • more languages, including vernacular languages deemed lesser than the high form of Latin.

  • It would lead to individuals--not the church--interpreting the guidelines of the bible. Another fear

  • was that the money spent on books would displace the amount of money being given at alms at

  • church, thus leading to less money in the church coffers. For these reasons, the Catholic

  • Church deemed the printing press a tool of the devil.

  • A major military event also catalyzed the Renaissance. The fall of Constantinople in

  • 1453, which brought about the rise in Humanism, which was a result of the mass exodus of Greek

  • scholars from Italy and the Mediterranean region out to France, England, and other countries

  • in Europe and who brought with them ancient Greek texts that would be translated and imitated

  • by Renaissance writers. (More about Humanism will be covered in the Renaissance sections.)

  • The Middle Ages was a time of great literary achievement. This period is when English literature

  • began. In the works for this section of the course, the authors have chosen secular and

  • religious topics, love and adventure, advice and gore, and many topics in between. Some

  • of the greatest English tales were written during the Middle Ages, and students will

  • also note how many and how well the women of this time followed and modeled the norm

  • in literature beyond the Medieval Period. Marie de France, who is the first author studied

  • in this class, is the first example where even one who has not read Beowulf can see

  • these blending of traditions from pagan and Christian worlds. Most Welsh, Celtic, Roman,

  • and Norman art, architecture, stories reflect this Christian acculturation during the Middle

  • Ages, and each of the other female authors show how rich the literature of the Middle

  • Ages was.

We now move into the Medieval Period. The Medieval English Period (500 AD-1500 AD) was

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B2 中高級 美國腔

中世紀曆史背景。中世紀時期 (Middles Ages Historical Background: Medieval Period)

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    Chia-Yin Huang 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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