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The Greatest Literary Emblem Of The Middle Ages

2067 words - 8 pages

In order to study the troubadours, it is of high importance to understand the context in which they flourished and developed, which was the Medieval Era. The Middle Ages is the period of European history that goes from the collapse of the Roman civilization to the beginning of the Renaissance, and it extends from about 500 to 1500 ca. (“Middle Ages”). This period is called the “Dark Ages” since it is regarded by the Renaissance scholars as a long interval of superstition, ignorance, barbarism, and social oppression due to the fact that the Medieval era was a fight to establish a new society independent from the Roman standards and philosophy. However, it is now acknowledged that it was a dynamic period, in which Europe built a new distinct cultural unit. Moreover, it profoundly reorganized the European political, social, economic, and most importantly cultural structures (“History of Europe”), but its effects greatly differ from country to country, and one of the most influenced countries was France, mainly because of its cultural, artistic (painting, architecture, literature), and philosophical enhancement. The main characteristic of the Middle Ages in France was the development of love and romance, mainly in the literary aspect. Nevertheless, only certain high-class and educated people could have this privilege, and the main representatives of this love and romance literary expansion, despite coming from all kind of social classes, were the troubadours because of their poetry, origin, and values.
To begin with, it is important to remember that during the Middle Ages, the great majority of population was not educated, and some people could not even read and write, so nobody was able to produce literary works. Consequently, Gale Sigal, literature professor of the University of Oxford, recipient of the NEH Summer Institute, and Honor Doctor of Stanford University (1991), states that due to the fact that the troubadours were the earliest self-consciously group of poets in a European language, creating the first French lyric poetry, they earned their great literary and philosophical reputation in the Middle Ages ("Troubadours, Trobairitz, and Trouvères"). Moreover, troubadours were medieval poet-musicians from southern France that flourished approximately from the late eleventh century to the early thirteenth century according to Jelena O. Krstovic, author of the Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism (“Troubadours”). Additionally, according to Saul Maloff, former literature professor of the University of Michigan and recipient of the George Polk Memorial Award for Literary Criticism of Long Island University (1967), troubadours were medieval knights and poets who dedicated their life to the unconditional service and caring of a lady, who most of the times represented an unattainable love. In addition, troubadours were believed to be stubborn and sometimes even errant knights who were always on a quest (“Troubadour of Free Enterprise”).
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