Panel 3: The Pen and the Sword: Ruling through Words

Location

Campus Center, Room 3545, University of Massachusetts Boston

Start Date

29-3-2014 9:00 AM

End Date

29-3-2014 10:30 AM

Description

The twelfth century saw the birth of the romance in literature, as well as the intellectual and social developments of humanism. The romance often involved the adventures of the knight, focusing on the behavior of the knight using the ideals of courtly love and chivalry. Chrétien de Troyes (c.1135-c.1183) contributed to the discussion of chivalry and courtliness by writing narrative poetry involving the Arthurian legends. He focused on the consequences of his knightly characters’ choices in order to show examples of how a proper knight should behave. This emphasis on the choices of each knight conveys a humanistic perspective, which is concerned with the expression of the individual and his reason. In Chrétien’s poetry, reason and the freedom of choice leads his knightly characters to realize their morality by distinguishing between right and wrong action. The codes of chivalry and courtly love influence these knights to make the right decisions because the codes are meant to be used as guides for proper conduct.

Historians often study medieval humanism by examining theological and philosophical works, but equally important is the identification of humanistic elements in works of literature during this time. This paper will examine the importance of studying medieval humanism through the poetry of Chrétien. The humanistic elements found in Chrétien’s poetry demonstrate the spread of intellectual ideas through the popular literary form of the romance. Studying humanism in this way is helpful because of the medieval audience it connects scholars to, as well as the unique perspective supplied by the popular ideals linked to humanism in the romances, such as chivalry and courtly love.

Comments

PANEL 3 of the 2014 Graduate History Conference features presentations and papers under the topic of "The Pen and the Sword: Ruling through Words."

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Mar 29th, 9:00 AM Mar 29th, 10:30 AM

Romance and Reason: Contextualizing the Arthurian Romances of Chrétien de Troyes

Campus Center, Room 3545, University of Massachusetts Boston

The twelfth century saw the birth of the romance in literature, as well as the intellectual and social developments of humanism. The romance often involved the adventures of the knight, focusing on the behavior of the knight using the ideals of courtly love and chivalry. Chrétien de Troyes (c.1135-c.1183) contributed to the discussion of chivalry and courtliness by writing narrative poetry involving the Arthurian legends. He focused on the consequences of his knightly characters’ choices in order to show examples of how a proper knight should behave. This emphasis on the choices of each knight conveys a humanistic perspective, which is concerned with the expression of the individual and his reason. In Chrétien’s poetry, reason and the freedom of choice leads his knightly characters to realize their morality by distinguishing between right and wrong action. The codes of chivalry and courtly love influence these knights to make the right decisions because the codes are meant to be used as guides for proper conduct.

Historians often study medieval humanism by examining theological and philosophical works, but equally important is the identification of humanistic elements in works of literature during this time. This paper will examine the importance of studying medieval humanism through the poetry of Chrétien. The humanistic elements found in Chrétien’s poetry demonstrate the spread of intellectual ideas through the popular literary form of the romance. Studying humanism in this way is helpful because of the medieval audience it connects scholars to, as well as the unique perspective supplied by the popular ideals linked to humanism in the romances, such as chivalry and courtly love.

 

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