Medieval European Literature


Joshua J. Mark
published on 02 April 2024

Medieval literature developed in Europe from medieval folklore between c. 476 and c. 1500. The works ranged from poetry to drama, romance, prose, philosophical dialogues, and histories. Literary works were at first composed in Latin but, increasingly, in the vernacular after the 7th century. Today, many of these works are considered masterpieces of Western Literature.

This collection presents a brief overview of the greatest writers of the medieval period, though many are omitted in the interests of space. Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich, for example, have not been included nor the musical genius Hildegard of Bingen, though all three are notable figures, as are many others only touched on in the following articles which include reference to famous works such as Beowulf and the Book of Kells, also omitted from the collection.

Articles & Definitions



Questions & Answers

When was medieval European literature written?

Medieval literature was written between c. 476-1500.

What were the genres of medieval literature?

The most popular genre of medieval literature was poetry but also included prose, romance, drama, myth, philosophical or religious dialogues, and histories.

Were there any female writers of medieval literature?

Yes. Notable female writers of medieval literature include Christine de Pizan, Marie de France, Margery Kempe, and Julian of Norwich.

Who is the most famous author of literature in Middle English?

Geoffrey Chaucer is the most famous author in Middle English and his best known work is The Canterbury Tales.
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About the Author

Joshua J. Mark
Joshua J. Mark is World History Encyclopedia's co-founder and Content Director. He was previously a professor at Marist College (NY) where he taught history, philosophy, literature, and writing. He has traveled extensively and lived in Greece and Germany.

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