In place of ancient times came the Middle Ages -an important stage in the spiritual development of the peoples of Western Europe. This time period begins in the 5th century and ends in the first half of the 17th century. The contradictions and complexity of this era were manifested in the specific features of the development of its culture. The history of Western European art distinguishes itself from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The first lasted from the 5th century to the 15th century, and the second - from the 14th century to the first third of the 17th century.
Western European medieval literature andRenaissance literature is traditionally divided into three periods. Chronologically, this corresponds to the distinction accepted by historical science. The periodization looks like this:
1. Literature of the early Middle Ages (from the 5th century to the 11th century). It found a reflection of the life of the peoples of Europe during the disintegration of the communal system and the formation of feudal relations. Represent her works of oral creativity, mainly Anglo-Saxons, Celts and Scandinavians, as well as Latin script.
2. Literature of the heyday of feudalism (from the 11th century to the 15th century). At this time, along with folk works, the creativity of individual authors is increasingly developed. In the general literary stream, directions are singled out that express the interests and worldview of different classes of feudal society. There are works written not only in Latin, but also in living European languages.
3. Literature of the Renaissance (from the 15th century to the first third of the 17th century). This is the period of the so-called late Middle Ages, when the feudal community is undergoing a crisis and new economic relations are emerging.
Original genres of medieval literatureformed under the influence of the peculiar and complex being of European peoples during this period. Many of the works are not preserved, and those that have remained, are of great value for the study of cultural heritage.
Medieval literature of the early period is divided into literature written in Latin, and literature in the languages of local peoples. The first in content is divided into clerical and secular.
Church literature, of course, is inseparableis connected with faith in Christ and the Catholic Church. However, it also contained "heretical" ideas expressing a protest against the oppression of the people by the clergy and feudal lords.
Literature in Latin is represented by the poetry of the Vagant and chronicles that reflect the course of events and their causes. The latter have become a valuable source for historians.
Literature in the languages of local peoples is represented by the Irish and Anglo-Saxon epic, as well as by Scandinavian creativity.
Medieval literature of the period of formationfeudal society is more diverse in content and genres. It broadens and deeper reflects morality, ideas, ethics and life of its time. The interests of the clergy and the class of feudal lords are reflected in clerical and chivalric literature. In oral form, the creative work of a simple people who do not know how to read and write is continuing to develop. Since the 12th century, in connection with the emergence of cities, burgher (urban) literature appears. It is characterized by democracy and has an anti-feudal orientation.
Medieval literature of the Renaissancetakes a close look at the real world. Its content becomes national historical, it responds to all the demands of modern life, boldly displays all its contradictions. The main object of the image in the works of this period is a person with his world of feelings and thoughts, his actions. Also indicative is the use by authors in their work of fantastic and fabulous elements originating in folklore.
The literature of the Renaissance of different countries has common features characteristic of this period.