"Feudalism and Chivalry:
Secular Culture in Medieval France, 1000-1300"

Fall 2007
MG 145 -- W 7:30 - 9:25


Office Hours

Prof. Hyams MG 307 (5-2076, 257-3168)    Mon 11:00 - 12:00 noon, Thurs 1:30 - 2:30 pm

An upper-level seminar on the main currents of noble lay culture in France, which led European fashions in love, warfare, entertainment and environment through most of the period. There will be heavy emphasis on contemporary sources (in English), including lively and complete readings from epic literature (the Song of Roland), lives and chronicles.

The authoritative text of this prospectus is the online version at <http://falcon.arts.cornell.edu/prh3/408/index.html>. It may be updated and extended during the term. Please tell me of anything that needs attention?


J. Dunbabin, France in the Making, 843-1180
The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, tr. B. Radice.
Guibert of Nogent, Self and Society in the Middle Ages, ed J.F. Benton.
Galbert of Bruges, The Murder of Charles the Good of Flanders, tr. James Bruce Ross.
Chrétien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances, tr. D.D.R. Owen
The Song of Roland, tr. Harrison.
Andreas Capellanus, The Art of Courtly Love, ed. Ziolkowski
Burgess & Busby (eds), The Lais of Marie de France
Goehring, The Virgin and the Grail
Robert de Boron,
Merlin and the Grail


S. Jaeger, The Origins of Courtliness
St. Bernard, Cistercians & Cluniacs: the Apologia to Abbot William, tr. M. Casey
E. Panofsky, Abbot Suger on the Abbey Church of St. Denis
Grant, Abbot Suger

I have scoured the Internet and elsewhere in search of free alternative sources for texts, in the effort to minimize costs in a text-heavy course. I noted below what I have found to date. You are welcome to check these out before paying good money for book copies. But you must realize that free often means out of date and sometimes inferior. You will need to factor in the time and cost of printing the texts out and (if you are like me)of having them bound for use. (Decent serviceable cheap binding is available from the Copy Center in the bowels of Olin Library.) So caveat reticulator! The books I have ordered through the Campus Store are ones a serious student (certainly any graduate student) will want to own. At this stage of the game, they are still permanent (or at least lasting) in a way that the 'Net cannot be guaranteed to be. (So, check all links and please report any that have died to me.)

Also do please check and use the books in the Uris Reserve, listed here.

SOME BRIEF EXTRACTS (marked [X] below) will be made available by me for you to copy. Check the pouch outside my office (MG 307). These will likely include

William, Count of Orange, ed. G. Price & L.R. Muir [Chancun de Wilalme]
Chrétien de Troyes, Yvain
J.A. Yunck, Eneas: A Twelfth Century Romance
Suger, De Administratione & De Consecratione
Bawdy Tales from the Courts of Medieval France, ed. Paul Brians [extracts]

You should make your own personal copy and then return the original as soon as possible to my office for others to use.


The first two weeks' classes will be mainly lectures. After that, we shall discuss a new text each class, some weeks more than one shorter text. One or two students will be assigned to lead each week's discussion, with help from me. I have chosen texts primarily to raise the kinds of different questions suggested by the course description. (Some of them just happen to number among the most attractive works of the whole Middle Ages!) They are only in very rough chronological order. The goal is to accumulate knowledge through the weeks so that by the end of the semester, discussion can juxtapose texts and cross-reference them in a critical and illuminating manner. We shall then be in a position to experience something of the pains and pleasures of professional research on complete, original source texts.

Thus the only required reading is in the original sources, which you will certainly wish to read more than once. Most of the texts have introductions; though ours are less misleading than many, please do not feel they are in any sense essential reading. The optional reading assignments are intended as aids towards writing the papers, and for any graduates. The emphasis throughout is on primary sources and how to use them.


1. Weekly reports. These should be brief (about a page) questions or comments raised by your week's reading. They are intended more as study aids to assist the all-important participation in class discussion. I shall read them and comment, then check them, unless they are very patently Unsatisfactory.

2. Papers: One short paper (a) and one research (investigation) paper (b):

I shall need to agree titles in Office Hours well in advance, and can then help with reading beyond the texts themselves.

3. Full participation in class discussion, and attendance in Office Hours (before any crises). Mais çela va sans dire, as they say!


 Week I. Aug 29 Introduction: France in the Later Eleventh Century.

Week II. Sept 5 Feudalism, Chivalry and Courtly Love: Francophone Concepts. Week III. TBA  Suger, His King and His Saint [Wed Sept 12 is 1st night Rosh Hashanah]  Week IV. Sept 19 Feudal Epic: Week V. Sept 26 Self-centredness: Autobiography and the Individual. Week VI. Oct 3 Non-feudal epic            Optional: Nicholas, Medieval Flanders, 62-70 [X]
                           Herman of Tournai, History of the Church of Tournai, tr. L. Nelson (extract on Counts of Flanders) [X]

FALL BREAK Sat 6 - Wed 10 October

 Week VII. Oct 10 More Autobiography

. Oct 17 Romance

Chretien, Yvain

Again a free Online Text is available this time from OMACL

Optional: Muir, 44-5, Cap. 3.
     Other Chrétien romances; adaptations such as Hartmann v. Aue, Ywein. .

Short Paper Due Friday Oct 19!
Week IX.  Oct 24 Courtly Love Week X. Nov 7 A Lower Love: Elegant Lays.
International Marie de France Society offers various resources, including performances with music
Paul Brians (an excellent translator himself) offers a study guide for the serious student
Optional: PRH, "Henry II & Ganelon" (from me) comments on the trial in "Lanval" [X]

Week XI. Nov 14 The Grail Story as a Lay Religious Myth

            Robert de Boron
for a view of the myth's origins that should provoke speculation on its significance too. (If pressed for time concentrate on chaps. 1, 3, 7-8)
Radio discussion.

  Optional: Chretien's, Perceval is the first surviving grail tale. Anyone with Owen's translation of the romances already possesses this. and should read it some time.

Week XII. TBA A Higher Love: Suger and St. Bernard on Art.

Week XIII.  Nov 28 An Ethic of Self-Discipline: Birth of the Western Superego?

Week XIV. TBA The Life of Another King, Louis the Fat's Grandson, Phillip
Research Paper due Friday Dec 7

STUDY PERIOD Sun 2 - Wed 5 Dec
EXAMINATIONS Wed 5- Friday 14 Dec

e&oe  prh/8-07