Anglo-Norman Period By: Caitie reed

Historical Context

  • 1100-1200 French literature dominated western Europe
  • Writings which developed in England during the post-conquest period might be more accurately described as French rather than English literature
  • 1337 The Hundred Years' War started
  • 1348-1350, Black Death

Values and Beliefs

  • The conquering Normans were themselves descended from Vikings who had settled in northern France about 200 years before (the very word Norman comes originally from Norseman)
  • The most popular form of entertainment was music and storytelling. It was a social skill that few of us today can muster, however a thousand years ago it was the expected norm at any gathering what ever it's size. There were many stories of ancient heroes such as the tale of 'Beowulf' or the Norse Sagas. Few of these survive today as they were generally passed on by word of mouth and were very rarely written down. Most of those which were recorded are in the form of a poem. Often these poems were composed to record a particular event such as 'The Battle of Maldon', others, such as 'Widsith' and 'Deor' appear to be fiction or folklore. Much history and custom was passed on by word of mouth. It is easier to remember things exactly when in the form of poetry than as prose. Therefore history was often recorded in the form of poetry.

Genre and Style

  • Anglo-Norman literature, also called Norman-french Literature, orAnglo-french Literature, body of writings in the Old French language as used in medieval England. Though this dialect had been introduced to English court circles in Edward the Confessor’s time, its history really began with the Norman Conquest in 1066, when it became the vernacular of the court, the law, the church, schools, universities, parliament, and later of municipalities and of trade.
  • Genres during this period were Epic and Romance, Fableaux/Fables and religious tales, and History.
  • Different types of literature were Didactic literature, Hagiography, Lyric poetry,Satire, and Drama.

Significant Authors

  • Mitchell, Bruce and Fred Robinson 1998. Beowulf. An edition. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Bestiaire, c. 1130 (ed. by E. Walberg, Paris, 1900; cf. G. Paris, Rom. xxxi. 175);
  • The only extant songs of any importance are the seventy-one Ballads of Gower (Stengel, Gower's Minnesang, 1886).
  • The earliest play entirely in French, the Mystère d’Adam, is Anglo-Norman.


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