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Characteristics of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

The Middle Ages covers roughly a thousand years, from approximately 400 to 1500 and the term generally refers to the changes that the European society experienced during these years. Many agree that there was not just one medieval civilization, but many. These civilizations are related to each other in some ways, but they also have their own distinct characteristics that set them apart from each other. Historians generally agree that the Renaissance lasted approximately two centuries, beginning with the mid-1300s and lasting until the1600s. Each era has defining characteristics that that can be recognized through literature. The Middle Ages represents a variety of literature. Literature about kings flourished at this time. During this time, the heroic idea included an aristocratic king. Literature of this time reflects an interesting aspect, which is that by dying gloriously, one might achieve immortality. (Abrams 3) Beowulf is one epic that has survived through the centuries. Another great epic that has survived is Alexander the Great. The literature of the Middle Ages touched practically every aspect of life and thought. The Middle Ages, Barzun asserts, was not one, but many ages. They are generally divided into two different periods of literary history--the Old English and the Middle English. It is this variety that proved to inspire the Renaissance. (Lucas 156) An interesting aspect of the Middle Ages is the focus on courtly love. Courtly love is a "state of being like no other- -out of bounds in relation to society and yet in many ways conventional" (Barzun 233). This type of writing is called courtly because it revolves around the ideas of chivalry. The Middle Ages also contributed a great variety of poetry. Abrams suggests that Christian ideals influenced how things were recorded and this might also explain why some secular literature did not survive. Abrams refers to Beowulf as ...

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Characteristics of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:04, July 07, 2015, from