14: The Late Middle Ages



Madonna Enthroned

Key Terms

  • Great Schism
  • Black Death
  • Petrarch
  • Chaucer
  • Pisano
  • Machaut
  • Giotto
  • To explain the impact on the Trecento of the Black Death, the Great Schism, and the Hundred Years’ War
  • To present an overview of literature in Italy, England, and France in the fourteenth century, including major works by Boccaccio, Petrarch, Chaucer, and Pisan
  • To examine the transition from Gothic to Early Renaissance art in Italy and Northern Europe in the fourteenth century
  • To survey the great buildings of the fourteenth century in Italy and England
  • To present the major features of fourteenth-century music, the Ars Nova, and its major composers
  • Know the terms fabliaux, Ordinary, and bubonic.
  • Know the Decameron and the Messe de Notre Dame

I. Historical Context

  • Black Plague, Bubonic Plague, Black Death
  • Origins in Central Asia
  • Infected rats and fleas spread the plague from Sicily throughout Europe (LINK)
  • Population decline interrupts production of goods and agriculture—prices rise, social unrest spreads (LINK)
  • Giovanni Boccaccio writes the Decameron, set during the epidemic
  • Reactions to the plague: leave populated areas, entertainment, scapegoating

II. Politics

  • A. The Hundred Year’s War
    • Conflict between England and France over legitimacy of rule
    • Origin of the longbow and reintroduction of the standing army

  • B. Peasants’ Revolt of 1381
    • Economic pressure
    • Corruption of the church and nobles
    • Source of the Robin Hood myth

III. Literature in Italy, England, and France

  • A. Petrarch
    • Wrote the Secretum - Augustinian self analysis
    • Love poetry - praise of a woman, beauty
    • The First Modern Man, Humanist

  • B. Geoffrey Chaucer
    • Wrote The Canterbury Tales
    • Social commentary, cross-section of medieval society

  • C. Christine de Pisan
    • First professional female writer
    • The Book of the City of Ladies - advice to all women in society
    • The Book of Peace - advice for the future King of France

IV. Religion

  • The Great Schism of 1378
    • Philip the Fair, King of France, imprisons Pope Boniface VIII in 1303, who soon dies as a result of his abuse
    • Rival popes struggle for power for 100 years

V. Late Gothic Architecture

  • A. Italy
    • Italian Gothic architecture very different
    • Cathedral of Florence (LINK)
      • No flying buttresses
      • Modest height
      • Dome added later
    • Milan Cathedral (LINK)
      • Overly elaborate style
      • Blend of Classical and Gothic elements

  • B. England
    • English Gothic architecture also different
    • Perpendicular style
    • Gloucester Cathedral (LINK)
    • Vertical lines and decorative designs

VI. Art

  • A. Italian Art
    • Inspired by classical art and rooted in the Byzantine style
    • Conservative, traditional (LINK)
    • Break from tradition: Nicola and Giovanni Pisano
      • Lively, crowded with detail (LINK)
      • Emphasis on Classical models (LINK)
      • Naturalism and emotionalism
      • Origins of modern sculpture
    • Duccio di Buoninsegna - emotion, physical space (LINK)

  • B. Giotto’s Break with the Past
    • Three Dimensional realism
    • Show drama and emotion (LINK)
    • Secular application by others, the Lorenzetti brothers (LINK)

VII. Music

  • Rhythmic and melodic complexity
  • Independent secular musicians
  • Ars Nova Musicae - book about the new musical style
  • Guilluame de Machaut - French composer wrote Messe de Notre Dame and secular ballads
  • Francesco Landini - blind Italian performer and composer

VIII. Historical Context

  • Unparalleled calamity, decay, and violence
  • Questioning society’s norms in literature