Friday, August 10, 2012

Boccaccio's time - Medieval period (part6)

Giovanni Boccaccio                                                             

Born - Died : 1313 - 1375

Boccaccio's father was a Tuscan merchant. Boccaccio was born in Paris and brought in Florence. His father sent him to Naples to learn about business. The young Boccaccio was drawn to scholarship but became interested in the social life of the commercial and courtly classes. He came to admire Petrarch and fell in love with a beautiful girl, Fiametta. He was called back to Florence by his father. His most famous book, The Decameron, was written between 1348 and 1353 and is regarded as a perfect example of classical Italian prose. The Tuscan language is the parent of modern Italian. The Decameron draws upon the author's own romantic experiences and on his knowledge of commercial life. The stories are based round the experience of ten young people who flea from plague then afflicting Florence. They occupy a villa and tell each other earthly tales of love and sexual intrigue. Boccaccio is regarded as one of the most important figures in European literature and a key influence on renaissance humanism.

Book trailer: Aleph

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Boccaccio's time - Medieval period (part5)


The Dark Ages and the Bards

English Medieval literature had no existence until Christian times of the Dark Ages when Latin was the language of English literature. English Medieval literature was not written. It is passed by word of mouth from one generation to another by English, Welsh and Irish bards. The origins of the stories about King Arthur and the Arthurian Legend are found in many Welsh legends and Celtic Myths which told by Bards who therefore contributed to Medieval literature.

The Romantic Arthurian Legend

Tales told by the Bars were transferred into book form and the romantic stories of the Arthurian legend and the ideals of courtly love became part of Medieval literature. The main source of information about King Arthur and the ArthurianLegend was written by a Welsh cleric and author called Geoffrey of Monmouth who wrote a fictional book called Historia Regum Britanniae - the History of the Kings's of Britain in 1136. Other books called Historia Brittonum by Nennius, the Annales Cambriae, the Chronicon Anglicanum and the Welsh Mabinogion also make references to the Arthurian Legend and King Arthur.

The Language

The French language came over to England with Williams the Conqueror. During the whole of the 12th century it shared wit Latin the distinction of being the literary language of England, and it was in use at the court until 14th century. It was not until the reign of King Henry IV that English became the native tongue of the kings of England.

The Epic poems - Narrative Literature

The French epic poem came over to England at an early date. We know that the Chanson de Roland was sung at the battle of Hastings and such poetry was recited and sung in the 11th and 12th centuries by Troubadours, Trouveres and Minstrels who were the poets and musicians sang songs of courtly love and romance and were expected to learn and recite epic poems by heart. The aristocratic troubadours were poets who originated in the south of France and the elite troubadours of the north of France wrote in French and were called trouveres. Medieval poetry of the troubadours was invariably linked with music. The tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, originating with music and the poems of the English and Welsh Bards, were themes which were included in the lyrics of the Troubadour and minstrels songs.

The poets and Authors

Medieval literature was written by a variety of authors and poets, many of which are included in the following list:
  • Caedmon (657-680) was the first English poet of whom we have any knowledge and credited with the authorship of "The Dream of the Holy Rood"
  • Venerable Bede (673-735) who wrote the Ecclesiastical History of England and the scientific treatise, De Natura Rerum
  • Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) Famous Medieval author of the Canterbury Tales
  • Margery Kempre (1373-c1438) Famous as the author of the first autobiography in English
  • John Gower (1325-1374) was famous as a Medieval Poet 
  • Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374) was famous as an Italian poet, and humanist and for his poems which were addressed to Laura
  • Dante 91265-1321) famous as a Medieval Poet and Politician
  • Christine de Pizan (1364-1430) famous as a Medieval author and feminist
  • William Longland (c13320c1386) who was famous as an English Poet who wrote the Vision of Piers Plowman
  • Boccaccio (1313-1375) an Italian writer who was famous for writing the Decameron
  • Rapahel Holinshed (c1529-1580) Famous as the Medieval Author of Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland

Boccaccio's time - Medieval period (part4)


Holidays and Festivals

The Medieval people of the Middle Ages shared a common life in the work of the fields, in the sports of the village green, and in the services of the parish church. They enjoyed many holidays; it has been estimated that, besides Sundays, about eight weeks in every year were free from work. Festivities at Christmas, Easter, and May Day, at the end of ploughing and the completion of harvest, relieved the monotony of the daily round of labor.

The Entertainers

 Who were the people who provided the entertainment during the Middle Ages? The Medieval entertainers of the Middle Ages including Jesters (A fool or buffoon at medieval courts), Mummers (Masked or costumed merrymaker or dancers at festivals), Minstrels and Troubadours, acrobats and jugglers and conjurers.

Games and Entertainment

Medieval Games of the Middle Ages were popular in all walks of society. Games were played by the upper  classes and the Lower classes, by adults and children. Different types of games and entertainment fell into a number of different categories including Card Games, Board Games, Dice Games, and Sporting Games and Children's games. Frequently, these games were played for money or honors, and therefore they are the ancestors of the modern day's casino games such as craps, online slots, or roulette. The following board games were played  and enjoyed as entertainment during the middle ages:

  • Chess
  • Backgammon
  • Alquerques
  • Fox and Geese
  • Knucklebones
Outdoor Entertainment

  • Archery
  • Gameball
  • Bowls
  • Colf - the ancestor of Golf
  • Hammer - throwing
  • Hurling - a similar game to Hockey
  • Wrestling
Outdoor entertainment also included the practices of certain festivals including May Day when people danced around a maypole and choose a May Queen. Religious plays were re-enacted by the Mummers.

Entertainment for rich people

Entertainment for rich people centered around the spectacles of jousting and feasts or banquets. The Medieval Period of the Middle Ages becoming more refined and elegant and the concept of courtly love was introduced and displayed at both tournaments and jousts. The sumptuous feasts and banquets also provided
entertainment for rich people during the Middle Ages. During the feast musicians would play and provide musical entertainment. After feasting entertainment might be provided by minstrels, troubadours, jesters, acrobats, fire-eaters and conjurers. The dance was also important as part of "courtly love" entertainment. Knights were expected not only to fight but also to dance.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Boccaccio's time - Medieval period (part3)

Foods of the Middle Ages

There was an enormous range of foods available during the Middle Ages. However, the type of foods was consumed and the quantity of foods consumed depended on wealth and status.

Middle Ages Food and Diet

Did the people of the Middle Ages eat food which constituted a good balance diet? No! And especially not for the rich! The wealthy nobles ate few fresh vegetables and little fresh fruit. Fruit was only usually served in pies or was preserved in honey. Vegetables and fresh fruit were eaten by the poor - vegetables would have been included in some form of stew, soup or pottage. Vegetables which came from the ground were only are considered fit to feed the poor. Only vegetables such as rape, onions, garlic and leek's graced a Noble's table of the Medieval era. Dairy products were also deemed as inferior foods and therefore only usually eaten by the poor. Little was known about nutrition and and the Medieval diet of the rich Nobles lacked Vit. C and fibre. This led to an assortment of health problems including bad teeth, skin diseases, scurvy and rickets.

Food and Diet of the Upper Classes/ Nobility

The food and diet of the wealthy was extensive, but only small portions was taken. A change in culture emerged during the Middle Ages when the travel prompted by the Crusades led to a new and unprecedented interest in beautiful objects and elegant manners. This change extended to food preparation and presentation resulting in fabulous food arrangements and exotic colors and flavorings. Their food was highly spiced.

Food and Diet of the Lower Classes/ Peasants

The Middle Ages food and diet of the peasants was very much home grown. They were unable to afford luxury items such as spices and only Lords and Nobles were allowed to hunt deer, boar, hares and rabbits. The punishments for poaching could result in death or having hands cut off.

Boccaccio's time - Medieval time (part2)

Life in the Middle Ages

The peasants, including serfs, freeman and villeins, on a manor lived close together in one or more villages. Their small, thatch-roofed, and one-roomed houses would be grouped about an open space, or on both sides of a single, narrow street. The only important buildings on that time were the parish church, the parsonage, a mill, and possibly a blacksmith's shop. The population of one of these villages often didn't exceed in one hundred people.

Medieval village life during the Middle Ages was self-sufficing. Perhaps the most striking feature of medieval village life was its self-sufficiency. The inhabitants tried to produce at home everything they required in order to avoid the uncertainty and expense of trad. The land gave them their food; the forest provided them with wood for their houses and furniture.  

Life of the Peasants and the Lords

Life in a medieval villages was rude and rough. The peasants labored from sunrise to sunset, ate coarse fare, lived in huts, and suffered from frequent pestilences. They were often the helpless prey of the feudal nobles. If their lord happened to be a quarrelsome man, given to fighting with his neighbors, they might see their lands ravaged, their cattle driven off, their village burned, and might themselves be slain. Even under peaceful conditions the narrow, shut-in life of the manor could not be otherwise than degrading. Under feudalism the lords and nobles of the land had certain rights over medieval serfs and peasants which included the right of jurisdiction, which gave judicial power tot he nobles and lords and the right of hunting.

There were positive points of peasants and their village life in the middle ages. If the peasants had a just and generous lord, they probably led a fairly comfortable existence. Except when crops failed, they had an abundance of food, and possibly a cider drink. They shared a common life in the work of the fields and in the services of the parish church.