Aristocratic Life in Medieval France: The Romances of Jean Renart and Gerbert de Montreuil, 1190-1230

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9780801861888: Aristocratic Life in Medieval France: The Romances of Jean Renart and Gerbert de Montreuil, 1190-1230

Modern historians have generally approached the study of medieval society through chronicles, charters, and other documents composed in Latin by members of the clergy. Although these records may be satisfactory for studying the affairs of ecclesiastics, kings, and high barons, they are inadequate for assessing the major preoccupations of the aristocracy -- living extravagantly, fighting, making love, entertaining, eating and dressing ostentatiously, and, generally, earning the disapproval of the clergy. In Aristocratic Life in Medieval France, the respected medieval scholar John Baldwin undertakes a study of this segment of society using, for the first time in nearly a century, the vernacular romances written exclusively for the amusement of aristocratic audiences.

Rather than attempting to encompass all of Middle Age Europe, this study selects two writers, Jean Renart and Gerbert de Montreuil, and their four romances. It focuses with depth and specificity on the discrete area of northern France during a precise period, 1190--1230. Since Jean and Gerbert framed their fictional stories with contemporary and realistic features that could be recognized by their audiences, their works provide a wealth of detail on aristocratic living. Employing such literary techniques as "reality effects" and "horizons of expectations," Baldwin successfully discerns the historical content in these romance narratives.

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From the Publisher:

"For having patiently and intriguingly reconstructed many important aspects of one slice of medieval life all friends and scholars of the Middle Ages owe Professor Baldwin a considerable debt."—Hans R. Runte, Dalhousie French Studies

"Baldwin's basic purpose is to examine aristocratic life and culture as portrayed in four early-13th-century romances. Jean Renart and Gerbert de Montreuil each authored two works that Baldwin examines in depth and with sensitivity to literary and artistic as well as historical themes . . . his judgments are solid, his learning extensive."—Choice

About the Author:

John W. Baldwin is the Charles Homer Haskins Professor of History at the Johns Hopkins University, where he has taught medieval history and culture since 1961. His books include The Government of Philip Augustus: Foundations of French Royal Power in the Middle Ages and The Language of Sex: Five Voices from Northern France around 1200. In 2002, he was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government.

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