The Mind of the Middle Ages, A.D. 200-1500: An Historical Survey

By Frederick B. Artz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
Literature (II)
1. THE DRAMA
2. FABLIAUX AND NOVELLE
3. HISTORY, BIOGRAPHY, AND SERMONS
4. SYMBOLIC LITERATURE

MOST of the literature, as well as the learning, so far considered reflects the interests of the church and the aristocracy. By the twelfth century, however, a middle class had come into existence in nearly all the states of Latin Christendom, and its interests and outlook began to appear in literature. The long period of relative peace that had followed the Viking, Magyar, and Saracen raids of the ninth and tenth centuries and the slow accumulation of an agricultural surplus had brought back into the society of western Europe a class that had all but disappeared in the five centuries that followed the Barbarian Migrations. In the midst of an agricultural world tied closely to the economic activities and the interests of small local districts, a new class, the bourgeoisie, developed alongside the clergy, the nobles, and the peasants, and so there was created a more varied and diversified society. The town not only offered new opportunities for experience in self-government and easier means of exchanging ideas, but also opened new careers in business -- trade, handicraft, and banking -- in medicine, in law, in teaching, and in government administration; and, although

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