The High Middle Ages: 1050-1450

The High Middle Ages: 1050-1450

The Church of the West between the ninth and twelfth centuries enjoyed a religious and literary golden age.

 

  • Some of the greatest doctors and theologians of the Church lived at this time: St Anselm of Canterbury, the great Marian doctor St Bernard of Clairvaux, St Bonaventure, St Albert the Great and St Thomas Aquinas, who were also major Christian philosophers; 
  • A new literary genre developed: courtly literature, which was largely inspired by Our Lady’s "miracles" and other tales. For example, "The Miracles of Our Lady" by Gauthier de Coincy (approximately 30,000 verses) or the famous tale "The Juggler of Our Lady" which was played and played again until it was finally adapted by Jules Massenet into an opera in the nineteenth century. This is the time of troubadours who sang about the Blessed Virgin. Men such as Guirault Riquier from the Languedoc and many others roamed the provinces of Christian Europe praising Our Lady;
  • Theater began to take on a noble air with liturgical drama. Indeed, during the tenth century, not only could religious services be inspired by elements of ancient theatre, but also (and more frequently) theatre was based on biblical stories in the form of mysteries (cf. The Mystery of the Nativity), miracles (The Miracle of Theophilus), and passion plays. In the twelfth century Rutebeuf was one of the most famous writers of these liturgical dramas.

 

At the dawn of the sixteenth century, the art of poetry experienced a renewal, and with the Renaissance, it spread throughout Western Christendom, especially in Anglo-Saxon, Latin, and Germanic cultures. Poets such as Jean Passerat and Anne de Marquets composed verses about the Virgin Mary. The sixteenth century also marked the beginning of Protestant religious literature. The period of so-called "modern" Western culture began in this century, especially in the religious sphere.