William Chaucer 's ' Chretien De Troyes '

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When asked to envision medieval courts, often images from Game of Thrones or The Tudors come to mind -- maybe even Sir Lancelot and jousting. Yet, these television shows and stories derive their inspiration from a genuine historical context so fascinating and pervasive that nearly 1,000 years later Western culture is still transfixed. French author Chrétien de Troyes, who ironically penned the first romantic depiction of Sir Lancelot, wrote many of the tales that inspire modern pop culture. His stories, particularly that of Cligés written in 1176 AD, though filled with sometimes supernatural, amorous, and scintillating drama, can reveal the political and social undercurrent of the Middle Ages. Ultimately, the passionate characters and events presented in Chrétien de Troyes’ Cligés transcend the romantic realm, manifesting as representations of medieval court and the rapidly evolving concepts of magic and science in the twelfth century. By dissecting Troyes’ characters, specifically Thessala, John, and the Salernitan doctors, one can identify the movements they symbolize. Additionally, understanding Chrétien de Troyes’ position in society and purpose for writing furthers reveals nuances in the plot indicative of the medieval social climate. Essentially, Chrétien de Troyes’ Cligés is reflective of the struggle between new and old ways of interpreting science, medicine, and magical practices as well as the ever shifting social standing of court life.
Thessala, Fenice’s nurse,

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