Britain in Medieval French Literature, 1100-1500

Britain in Medieval French Literature, 1100-1500

Britain in Medieval French Literature, 1100-1500

Britain in Medieval French Literature, 1100-1500

Excerpt

The Entente Cordiale has undoubtedly led to an increased interest, on both sides of the Channel, in the relations between England and France and in the influences, literary and otherwise, which the one country has exercised upon the other. Yet the history of French literary reactions to England is not complete, for the emphasis has tended hitherto to be laid on the recent past, or even on the present. It is true that eighteenth-century Anglomania has been adequately treated, but earlier periods have received less attention, and the Middle Ages have in the main been neglected. In his La Grande Bretagne devant l'opinion française depuis la guerre de cent ans jusqu'... la fin du seizième siècle, the late Georges Ascoli wrote an interesting chapter on the medieval aspect of the subject, but he regarded this as a mere preamble to the sixteenth century, with which he was mostly concerned. He was not, as a matter of fact, the first to approach the medieval period in this way. As early as 1855, in an article in the Revue contemporaine, E. B. Rathery discussed the historical side of the question and enumerated a few literary sources for our knowledge. He was followed in 1893 by Ch. V. Langlois, whose valuable article 'Les Anglais du moyen âge, d'après les sources françaises' was intended merely as a prelude to a more exhaustive investigation. The only other noteworthy contribution to the subject has been the late Dr H. J. Chaytor chapter, in The Troubadours and England (Cambridge, 1923), on the political allusions in Provençal poetry. Four years later, this was echoed less effectively by J. Audiau in Les Troubadours et l'Angleterre.

So far, then, there has been no comprehensive study of the French and Provençal literature of the Middle Ages with a view to determining how far and in what ways it was affected by the nearness of the British Isles and the implications of that nearness.

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