Heroic epos and knightly culture of the Middle Ages

Heroic epos and knightly culture of the Middle Ages

At the end of the early Middle Ages, the first records of the heroic epic appear, which previously existed only in oral recounts. Heroes of folk tales were mostly warriors who bravely defended their land and people. In these works, two worlds interwoven: real and fairy. Heroes often won with the help of magic powers.

In the X century. The ancient German epic Poem about Beowulf was recorded. The main character brave knight Beowulf defeats the fierce giant and releases Denmark from him. Then he returns to his homeland and performs many feats. For 50 years, Beowulf is rightly ruling the Heath tribe, but a fiery dragon is attacking its land. Beowulf killed the monster, but he himself died. The fairy tale motif here is successfully intertwined with the real historical events that took

place in Northern Europe.

The peak of the French heroic epic is “The Song of Roland.” It is based on the unsuccessful campaign of Charles the Great to Spain, when one of his detachments was defeated by the Basques. An unknown author interlaces real events with artistic fiction: the order of the Franks is commanded by Roland, the Basques become Saracen Muslims, and the Spanish campaign is depicted as a protracted seven-year war.

Illustrations of the modern Ukrainian artist S. Yakutovich to the epic “Song of Roland”

Each nation has a hero-hero, exalted in the epic: the Spaniards – Sid, the Germans – Siegfried, the Serbs Marco Korolevich, etc. In the heroic epic, historical events and ideals of the people were recreated and preserved. Courage, patriotism, fidelity to the main characters were an example for contemporaries and at the same time personified the military code of honor inherent in chivalric culture.

In the XI-XIII centuries. there is a flowering of knightly literature. In the south of France, in Provence, the lyrical poetry of Troubadour extends. Poets-knights lived at the courts of influential lords. Because this poetry is also called courtly. It is based on the cult of the Beautiful Lady: the knight magnifies the lady of her heart, praises her beauty and virtues

and is obliged to serve her. In honor of the noble lady they performed military feats, arranged tournaments, etc.

We have heard the names of many troubadours. A recognized master among them is Bernart de Ventadorn. It is interesting that women wrote courtly poetry: among almost five hundred troubadour poets there were thirty women.

Courteous lyrics quickly spread throughout Europe. In the north of France it was created by the Truvers, in Germany by the Minnesingers, known in Italy and the Iberian Peninsula.

In the XII century. there is another literary genre – Knightly Novel. His typical hero is a wandering knight who consciously goes on feats and adventures for the sake of glory, moral perfection and in honor of his lady. First there are verse novels, and later – prosaic novels.

The first novels of this type arose under the influence of Celtic legends about the courageous King Arthur and the brave knights of the Round Table. The most popular in the Middle Ages was the knightly novel “Tristan and Isolde” about the tragic love of the royal nephew of Tristan and Queen Isolda by the Gold Medal. Knightly literature contributed to the development of secular medieval culture.


Heroic epos and knightly culture of the Middle Ages