Prof. Cecilia H.C. Liu,
Webpage Designer: Angela Chang


The Middle Ages (to ca. 1485)

1.  ·§½×General Introduction  and  2. ®É¥N­I´ºHistorical Background

The Middle Ages (to ca. 1485), or medireview period, designates the time span from the collapse of the Roman empire to the Renaissance. For English literature the medireview period extends for more than eight hundred years, from Caedmon¡¦s Hymn at the end of the seventh century to Everyman at the beginning of the sixteenth.  The date 1485, with the accession of Henry VII and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty, is an arbitrary but convenient one to mark the ¡§end¡¨ of the Middle Ages.

Two periods¡Xthe Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) and the Middle English¡Xare sharply distinguished from each other as a result of the Norman Conquest of the island in 1066 and will be discussed separately in this unit.

Middle English Genres:  Courtly Romance; Breton Lay (short romantic poem, not a song); Fabliaux (fable-like short story with a snappy ending); Tragedy (through medireview eyes, at least); Exempla; Sermon (or didactic treatise); Beast Fable.

Medireview English Drama: Mystery, Miracle and Morality plays.

Piers Plowman
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Medieval English Drama
Medieval English English Ballad and Lyrics
Morte de Arthur



Image Source:
Typology of Medieval Books, Art Images for College Teaching, Corpus Christi