12th century literature

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Chanson de Geste

These were oral poems designed to be recited by troubadors. Such oral poetry forms existed all over europe, but the Chanson de Geste was the french language form. In the 12th Century, a large number of these poems began to be written down. It is not entirely known if this was intended to aid in their transmission to greater numbers of troubadours or to also be read aloud by non-musicians to their friends. The addition of cryptic one one word instructions on many manuscripts which are beleived to relate to the performance method (arguments are over if they are markers of stress in the vocal performance or musical accompaniment) makes it more likely such manucscripts were intended for professinal musicians.


There was also an oral tradition of story telling in other generes (for example the many varied versions of Tristan and Isolde), but in the 12th Century an increasing number of books appear to have been created specifically as a book intended to entertain the literate populace (Raffel 198?). Examples of this include the works of Chretien de Troyes and Marie de France, some of which even preface themselves with an introduction to the reader.


The lavishly illustrated versions of some bestiaries produced show us that this was intended as a medium of entertainment for the rich literate nobility. Despite the moral lessons of the text, many noble ladies would enjoy reading about beasts of stange far away lands, real but so strange as to seem imposible and imaginary. (insert ref to ladies reading bestiaries)