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Middle Ages Notes

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by

Michelle Maynes

on 11 October 2017

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Transcript of Middle Ages Notes

It's
kinda
like this...

Ye Olde'
Middle Ages

War! (Ugh!) What is it good for?
Like many ages before and after it, the Middle Ages were 'kicked off' by martial conflict. The battle most widely regarded as the
catalyst
for the period was known as...
But really, just what are the Middle Ages?
The Middle Ages were a period of History from the Battle of Hastings in 1066, to the coronation of the first Tudor king, Henry VII, in 1457.

Mostly European in focus, but history never occurs in a vacuum!
Who cares?
The Middle Ages was a
formative
time for what would eventually become Western Culture. Everything we know today, culturally speaking, began to take shape here: art, music, literature, fashion, food, education, etc.

Being culturally and socially literate is a necessary part of the Democratic Process. It's what puts the 'Murrica' in 'Amurrica.'
Born 1342 in London
Died in 1400
Son of a prosperous wine merchant
Therefore, was able to mix with a variety of people while growing
Heard a variety of languages, including French and Latin

Geoffrey Chaucer
Did not become an apprentice to the family business as is customary
Instead, he became a page in one of the “great aristocratic households of England.” Fancy!
Learned manners and skills necessary to serve the ruling class

Do Work!
Had increasingly important positions.
Ultimately became a member of King Edward’s personal household.
Exposed to the Italian Renaissance and influenced by Dante, Petrarch and Boccacio during travels to Spain, France, Italy.
Also exposed to new verse forms, subject matter and new modes of representation.

Out There Grindin'
Wrote moral and religious works
Wrote in prose and poetry
Many facets or aspects to his writing
Secular and religious influences
Human/Divine Love & Comedy/Philosophy
French and Italian sources
Can be hard to determine a simple and direct meaning

The Author Formerly known as Chaucer
Chaucer's complexity as a writer is due to his education and exposure to new literary elements in his travels.

In college, you'll have friends who think they've had similar revelations after studying abroad for a semester....

Chaucer was neither a commoner nor a nobleman but he interacted with both.
Was able to view both classes from “the outside” as detached and sympathetic.
This
transient
social standing afforded him the unique ability of being
objective
when writing about social issues.

3 main
estates
or social classes
Nobility
- a small, hereditary
aristocracy
- Mission: to rule over and defend the body politic.
Church
- duty - to look after the spiritual welfare of the nobility (as a priority, at least)
Commoners
- everyone else: Did the physical work to provide for the physical needs of the other classes

Social Hierarchy: Just Like in Mean Girls!
Chaucer held an interesting social status; he and his immediate family held positions in all 3 classes
Is this surprising?
How might this unique perspective allow him to satirize the social
constructs
of the period?

Chaucer: The Social Floater
Mr. Congeniality
The Man, The Myth, The Chaucer
-The Middle Ages were a time dominated by the social structure of the day.
-Your social placement impacted every aspect of life: job, wealth, life expectancy, education, diet.
-Since it was hereditary, social climbing was incredibly rare.
-However, one man bucked that trend...
Think Game of Thrones,
minus the Dragons.
The Middle Ages were a time of kings, knights, and castles.
It is the main age of inspiration for fantasy like Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, etc.
It was also an age completely defined by its societal structure.

A Quick Overview
-The battle was between...
Anglo-Saxons (lead by King Harold)
Normans (lead by William Duke of Normandy)

-The prize? The English Crown...
Come at me, bro!
William and his men landed on the English Coast, and established a beachhead.
Having been tipped off, Harold assembled his troops and took up a strong position on a hill near where William had landed.
With the English Channel at his back, and the Saxons blocking the only route in to England, battle was the only option.

Mortal Kombat!
Despite
rebuffing
the first few charges of William's forces, eventually the English line was broken, King Harold was killed, and the English routed.

Duke William became known as William the Conqueror and was crowned 'The King of England' .

Thus ended Anglo-Saxon rule of England
The Aftermath
As William and his subjects established themselves in England, their Norman culture would begin to blend with the established Anglo-Saxon traditions.

This fusion established what would lead to the creation of what we know regard as 'England', both in tradition and culture.
Opposites Attract
The Normans were very type A, organized
Administrative
ability
Emphasis on law/order
cultural unification

The Saxons were more type B, laid back
Focus on democracy
Enjoyment of the arts

This made for a perfect combination. However, the Normans also brought their social system to England, a strict caste like system known as...
Feudalism

The King
In most of medieval Europe, society was dependent on the "feudal" system, which was based on
allocation
of land in return for service. The king would give out grants of land to his most important noblemen (barons and bishops), and each noble would have to promise to loyally follow him and supply him with soldiers in time of war.
Overview...
His Lords
The Lords' Vassals
The Peasants...
Complete and
unilateral
power.
Known as
autocrat
Was considered 'Chosen by God'
Allocated land to chosen noblemen in return for service.
Members of nobility or high ranking members in the church.
Swore
fealty
to the King in return for land.
Essentially 'owned' the workers on their plot of land- known as a
fiefdom.
Employed...
Knights were men who swore to serve their lord
Known for martial prowess and a strict
codified
way of living.
Were the fist wielded by the vassals in war.
The original, and way more repressed 99%.
The 'working class' members of society who took care of day to day necessities to keep the fief running.
Taxed by their overlord, based on possessions.
Live, from 1066...
The Canterbury Tales: An 'Estate Satire'
The Canterbury Tales was a satirical work.

A modern example of satire...
Entertainment=Change?
Like Colbert, Chaucer noticed things in need of attention and correction in his society. What are some ways these two men are similar, despite the time gap?

Chaucer was able to use his unique insight in to the various social classes to expose their inherent traits (typically flaws).

Much like modern day satirists (John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, etc) Chaucer used his ability to engage and entertain to call attention to societal flaws that many may not have been exposed to otherwise.
Buzzword Alert!
Historical Context
Consider how the feudal system would be fraught with injustice. Problems like...

Hypocrisy
Greed
Corruption
Irony
Self-Righteousness
The Canterbury Tales: Overview
PUBLICATION- Sometime in the early fifteenth century

PUBLISHER- Originally circulated in hand-copied manuscripts

NARRATOR- The primary narrator is an anonymous, naïve member of the pilgrimage, who is not described. The other pilgrims narrate most of the tales.

POINT OF VIEW- In the General Prologue, the narrator speaks in the first person, describing each of the pilgrims as they appeared to him. Though narrated by different pilgrims, each of the tales is told from an omniscient third-person point of view, providing the reader with the thoughts as well as actions of the characters.
Story Time!
At the Tabard Inn, a tavern in Southwark, near London, the narrator joins a company of twenty-nine pilgrims. The pilgrims, like the narrator, are traveling to the shrine of the martyr Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury. The Host, suggests that the group ride together and entertain one another with fanciful stories1 He decides that each pilgrim will tell two stories on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back. Whomever he judges to be the best storyteller will receive a meal at Bailey’s tavern, courtesy of the other pilgrims. Whoever fails to tell a story, is picking up the tab at ye 'ole taverns along the way.
A few things to consider...
Why is it the story is being written from the perspective of a 'random, neutral, and naive,' narrator?
Are the themes mentioned in the last slide still relevant today? Examples?
Consider the commoners inability to access information.
Welcome back, to the Middle Ages...
An Estate Satire
Estate Satire
- a genre of writing from 14th Century, Medieval literary works. The three Medieval estates were the Church (those who prayed), the Nobility (those who fought) and lastly the Peasantry (those who labored). These estates were the major social classes of the time and were gender specific to men.

Which classes are most open to criticism?
What do you think Chaucer will be insinuating with these criticisms?
Will these ideas be new? Or will they have been covered before?

Monty Python. Why not?
Full transcript