King Harald Hardrada falls at the battle of Stamford Bridge

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  • King Edward I of England dies on Jan 5, 1066 leaving no heirs.

  • Harold Godwinson cornonated on same day. "Into Harold's hands I commit my Kingdom.“ Becomes the last Anglo-Saxon king.

  • William, Duke of Normandy, a distant cousin, also lays claim to the throne.

  • Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, another pretender.

  • Harold defeats Harald at the battle of Stanford Bridge, near York. Shortly after he hears of William’s landing in the south.

Bayeux Tapestry, c. 1077

  • After Harold defeats Hardrada at Stamford Bridge, William sails sail for the southern coast.

Bayeux Tapestry

Bayeux Tapestry

  • The Death of Harold

Geoffrey Chaucer-early 1340s-1400

  • part of the 'civil service‘ - father served Edward III as deputy chief butler

  • 1357-job in household of Elizabeth, countess of Ulster and her husband Princel Lionel

  • the Prince travelled to France, Italy

  • Chaucer was captured and ransomed in a 1359-60 military campain

  • married up--the daughter of a knight

  • worked his way up and around royal appointments, always middle-manager stuff but remained friendly to all changes of power

  • 1380s withdraws from London What does this suggest?

  • gentil status but not a land owner

  • dependent on service for money

  • different jobs essential

The Canterbury Tales

  • Chaucer uses different forms for different materials,

  • Couplets (aa bb) for most

  • Rhyme Royal (credited to Chaucer) for stories generating pathos (to suffer, feel) (ababbcc)

  • stanzaic form, gives order to more serious topics (ababbcbc) -- ballade

  • Prose for those things spiritual, more serious

  • Variety of forms, styles and tradtions brought together to expand English

The Couplet

  • A Knight ther was and that a worthy man

  • That fro the time that he first bigan

The Couplet

  • 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

  • A Knight ther was and that a worthy man

  • 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

  • That fro the time that he first bigan

Rhyme Royal

  • Rhyme Royal: each stanza or section consists of seven lines, each containing ten syllables, the first line rhyming with the third, the second with the fourth and fifth, and the sixth with the seventh (a b a b b c c). To take an instance from the beginning of Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde":

  • And so bifel, when comen was the tyme A

  • Of Aperil, when clothed is the mede B

  • With newe grene, of lusty Ver the pryme, A

  • And swet smellen floures whyte and rede, B

  • In sondry wyses shewed, as I rede, B

  • The folk of Troye hir observaunces olde, C

  • Palladiones feste for to holde. C

Lee Patterson, Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” (2007)

  • (The Canterbury Tales) a compilation of almost every kind of writing known to the Middle Ages. Epic, romance, fabliau, saint’s life, exemplum, sermon, mirror of princes, penitential treatsie, tragedy, animal fable, Breton lay, confessional autobiography, Marian miracle – all these and more are present...Each of the genres...invokes not just specific writers but a whole lexicon of different kinds of writing. (7, qtd. in Bloom, Geoffrey Chaucer’s the Canterbury Tales)

John Dryden, Preface to Fables Ancient and Modern (1700)

  • (Chaucer) has taken into the compass of his Canterbury Tales the various manners and humors (as we now call them) of the whole English nation in his age. Not a single character has escaped him. All his pilgrims are severally distinguished from each other; and not only in their inclinations but in their very physiognomies and persons... Even the ribaldry of the low characters is different: the Reeve, the Miller, and the Cook are... distinguished from each other as much as the mincing Lady Prioress and the broad-speaking, gap-toothed Wife of Bath...(There) is such a variety...(Here) is God’s plenty. (qtd. in Bloom, Geoffrey Chaucer’s the Canterbury Tales)

Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World (1965)

  • All these forms of protocol and ritual based on laughter and consecrated by tradition existed in all the countries of medieval Europe; they were sharply distinct from the serious official, ecclesiastical, feudal, and political cult forms and ceremonials. They offered a completely different, nonofficial, extraecclesiastical and extrapolitical aspect of the world, of man, and of human relations; they built a second world and a second life outside officialdom, a world in which all medieval people participated more or less, in which they lived during a given time of the year. If we fail to take into consideration this two-world condition, neither medieval cultural consciousness nor the culture of the Renaissance can be understood. To ignore or to underestimate the laughing people of the Middle Ages also distorts the picture of European culture’s historic development. 

Bakhtin, cont.

  • What are the peculiar traits of the comic rituals and spectacles of the Middle Ages? Of course, these are not religious rituals like, for instance, the Christian liturgy to which they are linked by distant genetic ties. The basis of laughter which gives form to carnival rituals frees them completely from all religious and ecclesiastic dogmatism, from all mysticism and piety. They are also completely deprived of the character of magic and prayer; they do not command nor do they ask for anything. Even more, certain carnival forms parody the Church's cult. All these forms are systematically placed outside the Church and religiosity. They belong to an entirely different sphere.


  • King Harald Hardrada falls, by Peter Nicolai Arbo :

  • Portrait of Edward I of England from Cassell's History of England

  • All images from Bayeux Tapestry,

  • William, Duke of Normandy:,_Lichfield_Cathedral.jpg

  • Invasion Map:

  • Stamford Bridge memorial:

  • Chaucer:

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