Middle English or Anglo- Norman Period before Geoffrey Chaucer

In this article, I have discussed the detailed historical and literary background of the Anglo-Norman period. I have discussed all-important detail of the Anlo- Norman or Old English period. Anglo-Norman or Norman French period is very important in English history. This period has a great impact on English literature. In this period French was the dominant language and has a great impact on English literature. In this period many questions are selected and asked in PPSC, Examination. 

Anglo-Norman or old English Literature

Anglo-Norman period

Battle of Hastings (1066)

William (Duke of Normandy) defeated Harold Godwinson in 1066 in the battle of Hastings. Battle of Hastings ended the period of Anglo-Saxon period with the victory of William the conqueror of Normandy. William the Conqueror became the King of England after defeating Harold Godwinson and the Anglo-Norman period started in 1066 in England.

Impact of Norman Conquest on England

England had converted to Christianity before Norman Conquest. Christianity had already prevailed in England before the Norman conquest. William the conqueror replaces the Engels bishops with Normans. Anglo Saxon church officials were replaced by Normans. Numerous cathedrals were built. Normans set up a feudal system in England. Doomsday Book was commissioned. Norman maintained a complete record of people and property in England.

Oxford and Cambridge universities 

Cambridge University established in 1209 by Henry III and Oxford university established in 1167. Oxford university has no fixed date but in 1167 it became popular when Henry 11 banned the students study in Paris. Oxford and Cambridge universities were established during this period. 

Impact on Language

Norman brought with them Norman French and they were the ruling class in England. French became the language of the upper and ruling class. French became the language of law and courts. It became the official language of England. Norman-French remained the official language for the next three centuries. 

Status of old English during the Anglo-norman period

During the Anglo-Norman period, the old English language remains the language of a lower class and the language of ordinary people. Old English was used by peasants and common people during the Anglo-Norman period. 

Status of Latin language in Anglo-Norman Period

Latin was the language of the church, education, and administration. Literary works were written in French and Latin during the Anglo-Norman period. Unfortunately, English remains the third language of his own country. The first was French, the Second was Latin and the third was English. 

Relationship of Normans and Anglo-Saxons

Normans were a master and Anglo-Saxon were servent. They have a master and servant relationship during the Anglo-norman period. Later on, they unified and became one nation. The result of their unification was that Norman French and Anlo-Saxon languages were mixed and a new language was made, this was Middle English. The new language was different from old English because of French language influence. 

Middle English Period (1100- 1500)

Middle English period starts from 1100 and it remains till 1500. The Middle English period can be divided into three parts. The age before Chaucer, the age of Chaucer, and the age of revival or after Chaucer.

The age before Chaucer 1066-1300

When the Norman conquest happened the Anlo-Saxon dominance ended. During this period following types of poems were written. Metrical Romance, Chronicle verse, Religious and Didactic, Secular poetry and miracle and morality plays.

3 Cycles of French Romance popular in England 

Matter of Britain (King Arthur) 
Matter of France ( Charlemagne) 
Matter of Rome ( Alexander the Great) 

Matter of Britain deals with the heroic deeds of King Arthur. Matter of France deals with the heroic deeds of Charlemagne. Matter of Rome deals with the heroic deeds of Alexander the Great. 

Metrical Romance

Metrical or chivalric Romances were based on courtly love, Knights, and chivalric deeds. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an example of chivalric romance during this period. Romance does not mean a love story but these revolve around adventure stories of knights. 
 Sir Gwayne Green Night, Pearl, Cleanness, and Patient are considered miscellaneous  poems

1. King Arthur

'King Arthur' is written by Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1132. Most of Romance is connected with legendry King Arthur. Most romances deal with miscellaneous themes. 

Religious and Didactic poetry 

Poems that instruct convey morals are called religious and didactic poetry. These are the examples of religious and didactic poems of this age. 

i. The Ormulum

The Ormulum was written by Orm in 1200. It is a series of homilies written in short lines without rhyme or alterations

ii. The Owl and The Nightingale

The owl and The Nightingale was written in the early 13th century but its writer is unknown. It is written in the shape of dialogue with is between a nightingale and an Owl. It has been appreciated because of its narrating form.

iii. The Cursor Mundi

It was written in the fourteen century but its author is unknown. It is the religious work that treats the new and old testament stories.

iv. Prinks of conscience

Prinks of conscience was written by Richerd Role of Hampore. He was born in thirteen.It is a long poem written about early forefathers. It describes the sorrow and pleasure of man's life which is affected by good and evil.

Miracle and morality plays 

Miracle plays deal with the growth and development of bible stories. Morality plays designed to teach a moral to improve the behavior of the audience.

Chronicle works 

Normans brought historical taste with them and they produced historical literature during the Anglo-norman period. We found a large number of chronicles during this period. The main works which can fall in chronicles are the following. 

i.  Laymon’s Brut (The chronicle of Britain)

 Laymon completed this chronicle work in 1205. It consisting of about 30000 lines. He describes the history of England from the landed of Brutus to the death of the last Britons king Cadwallader. It also includes the stories of King Lear and King Arthur. The main source of this work is Geoffry Monmouth's Historia Regum.

ii. Robert Mynnyng of Brunne

He wrote his rhyming story of England in 1338. He also translated many French works.

ii. Rober of Gloucester

He wrote chronicles in rhyming. His works are drawn from the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth.

 Miscellaneous Poems

The Orison to our lady, Genesis and Exodos, The Bestiary, The Moral Oed, are religious poems that were written from 1100 to 1300.
Scholar poetry

i. The cooko Song 

The cooko Song is a fine example of lyrical poetry during this period.

Anglo-Norman Prose

Arcrem  Rivle's prose work written in the 12th century is the most important of the Anglo-Norman Period.

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