[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]

Chivalric romance (genre)

This is a page about romance as a genre. For the 1999 film Romance X please visit the article on Romance X (film).

Miguel de Cervantes wrote Don Quixote as a parody of the the mediaeval romance genre in general and the Amadís de Gaula in particular. [Apr 2006]

Context: In the later medieval and early Renaissance period, there was an important European trend towards fantastic fiction. Works such as Le Morte d'Arthur (1485) and Amadis of Gaul (eC14) spawned a large number of imitators. By 1600, the poor quality of many of the romances had led to them being seen as harmful distractions. Don Quixote is the story of an elderly man driven insane by reading too many romances of chivalry.

These stories generally feature a heroic knight with super-human abilities who fights monsters and giants to win the favour of a beautiful, but ungrateful, princess while strictly following chivalric codes. The main story does not focus on love, but on the adventure. Modern comic books and sci-fi can be seen as the modern successors to these romances. [Apr 2006]

adventure - hero - love - prose - Romanticism - romantic novel - written in vulgar Latin


The meaning of the word romance has changed from the 1300s when it arose as a literary genre telling the "story of a hero's adventures," written in the "vernacular language of France" (as opposed to Latin), to "a love story" (in a literary context (1600s), everyday speech (1900s)). --via etymology online.

Don Quixote (1605, 1615) is the story of an elderly country gentleman crazed by reading chivalric romances.


As a literary genre, romance refers to a style of heroic prose and verse narrative current in Europe from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

The term Romance was coined to distinguish popular writings in the European vernacular (people's language) from scholarly and ecclesiastical literature in Latin.

Many medieval romances recount the marvelous adventures of a chivalrous, heroic knight, often of super-human ability, who, abiding chivalry's strict codes of honour and demeanour, fights and defeats monsters and giants, thereby winning favour with a beautiful, but fickle princess. The story of the medieval romance focuses not upon love and sentiment, but upon adventure; some would call contemporary comic books and sci-fi the genre's successors.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_%28genre%29 [Sept 2005]


A knight-errant is a figure of medieval chivalric romance literature.

"Errant" meaning wandering or roving, indicates how the knight-errant would typically wander the land in search of adventures to prove himself as a knight, such as in a pas d'Armes. Many knights-errant fit the ideal of the "knight in shining armor". A knight-errant performed all his deeds in the name of a lady, and invoked her name before performing an exploit.

In the romances, his adventures frequently included greater foes than other knights, including giants, enchantresses, or dragons. They may also gain help that is out of ordinary; Sir Ywain assisted a lion against a serpent, and was thereafter accompanied by it, becoming the Knight of the Lion. Other knight-errants have been assisted by wild men of the woods, or, like Guillaume de Palerme, by wolves that were, in fact, enchanted princes.

Famous examples include:

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight-errant [Aug 2006]

See also: Don Quixote - hero - damsel in distress -

The Beginnings of Medieval Romance : Fact and Fiction, 1150-1220 (2002) D. H. Green

The Beginnings of Medieval Romance : Fact and Fiction, 1150-1220 (2002) D. H. Green [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

'Green's is a comparative, pan-European approach never neglectful of literary developments and textual examples ... but also ... Green is a true pleasure to read: his manner is unvaryingly straightforward and robust; the perfect mastery with which he develops an argument allows for no loose ends, neither from one paragraph to the next nor from chapter to chapter.' Dalhousie French Studies

Book Description
Explores the emergence of the romance in the twelfth century.

Up to the twelfth century writing in the western vernaculars dealt almost exclusively with religious, historical and factual themes, all of which were held to convey the truth. The second half of the twelfth century saw the emergence of a new genre, the romance, which was consciously conceived as fictional and therefore allowed largely to break free from traditional presuppositions. Dennis Green explores how and why this happened, and examines this period of crucial importance for the birth of the romance and the genesis of medieval fiction in the vernacular. Although the crucial innovative role of writers in Germany is Green's main concern, he also takes literature in Latin, French and Anglo-Norman into account. This study offers a definition of medieval fictionality in its first formative period in the twelfth century, and underlines the difficulties encountered in finding a place for the fictional romance within earlier literary traditions. --via Amazon.co.uk

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications