Literature of the Middle Ages, briefly described, in the era of the IV to XV century, due to its existence, three sources:
1. folklore – it included ritual and labor songs, tales, epics;
2. ancient literature – especially the works of Virgil and Ovid;
3. Christianity – Holy Scripture, Lives of Saints, religious songs and hymns.
The Middle Ages took their origin after the collapse of the Great Roman Empire, and therefore for a long time written literature existed in Latin. This language was familiar to the few – the most educated feudal lords and representatives of the church.
The literature of the Middle Ages, summarized, was divided into the following types: religious, urban and chivalrous.
Religious literature was central, because the influence of the church was very strong. Urban included fables and theater genres, such as farce (comic play), mystery, miracle.
Knight literature was the most numerous and interesting.
The institution of chivalry, like the church, played an important role in the Middle Ages. This kind included the following genres:
The heroic epic. In the early Middle Ages it was represented by oral legends of Scandinavians and Celts. Somewhere from the XI century epics begin to record. In every European country there was a story about heroes. The Germans had a “Song of the Nibelungs”, telling of the hero Siegfried, who bathed in the dragon’s blood and became invulnerable. In France, the tragic “Song of Roland” was written. Severe Scandinavians created a cycle of songs about the gods and heroes “Elder Edda”. England became the birthplace of legends about the just king Arthur.
Romance. His brightest representative, who gained tremendous popularity and fame – “Tristan and Isolde”. If the epics were a national creativity, then the knightly novel already had authorship. “Tristan and Isolde” was written in the 13th century by Gottfried of Strasbourg.
Courteous novel and lyrics. The word “courtly” meant “gallant.” After the first crusades, the knights brought new rules of conduct from the East, first of all with the ladies. There are poets-singers – troubadours and minnesingers. The main theme of their poetry is love.
For a long time in medieval literature there were only a few genres. Gradually, with the general development of the culture of the Middle Ages, they became more and more. In the Renaissance literature of the Middle Ages reached its culmination.