Medieval Court Culture - What Elements of Court Culture Are Evident in the Excerpt?

June 17, 2023
David Sunnyside

From the 12th century onwards, a particular culture developed in circles of high nobility that was characterised by courtly manners and clothing. It was also reflected in cultural endeavors such as music, dance and hunting with falcons or dogs.

Moreover, it was about establishing a close and intimate relationship between kings and their royal servants. This camaraderie can be seen in this excerpt from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, one of the most famous 14th Century chivalry stories of Middle English.

It was important to aristocrats that they had direct access to the sovereign and were not subjected to local taxes or ecclesiastical matters. Therefore, being a valet de chambre was the most coveted position in the kingdom. It was a great honour and secured the nobles a high status in society.

Hence, the palaces became centres of social and cultural life and were not just places for government, defence and administration. They were centres of entertainment and a place for learning.

For example, music became an important part of court life and this is reflected in this manuscript made for the Swiss patrician family Manesse in the beginning of the 14th century. It is considered to be one of the most important collections of German minstrel songs. Moreover, it was the first time that French literary works such as those of Chretien de Troyes were introduced into the European vernacular and became an integral part of courtly culture.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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