Da Henry II al Rinascimento
Henry II: The power arrived to Henry II at the end of the civil war (between the two French families in England) because he seemed a person who could give people stability and wealth. That is the start of the Plantagenet dynasty. He was so important for the reforms that he did. Talking about the army’s reform, it was particularly important for the 100 years’ war. He invented the mercenary army: in which the knights paid the king a sum of money instead of giving service and with that money the king was able to hire mercenaries. Before that, preparing a war in a feudal state was very complicated because of the long distances that the messengers had to cover. Another problem was the fact that before Henry II people used to fight without arches and arrows: with the invention of arches, the English won many battles, because those were cheaper and could cover long distances (that is the reason why the English were winning the 100 years’ war at first). Another reform that Henry II did was the “Reform of justice”. (As we saw in both Geordie and Lord Randal, there is the semantic area of law and justice in a strange way). During that period, before Henry II, justice was administrated through battles, duels or strange rituals. With this new king, justice was administrated by travelling judges and it was known as the Common Law, because used everywhere. This mixture of laws is still the base of nowadays-English law. The Trial by jury established itself over the trial by ordeal. This was much faster than the ancient method, because the judges could directly talk about penalties and customs. The most important point of Henry II political program is The Constitutions of Clarendon: the clerks who had committed crimes should first be tried in the King’s Court and the judged by the Church Court. This reform first started with the Henry’s intention of having power over the church too, as both Celts and Saxons converted to Christianity. He could appoint the bishops and priests, so that is why he appointed his dear friend, Thomas Beckett, as the Canterbury’s archbishop. That was the proof that the King had the power over the Church. Thomas Beckett was then sent to France in exile because he opposed to the king. He went back to England, as he was a man of faith, but four knights, sent by the King himself, killed him. That happened in the Canterbury’s Cathedral in 1170 that is why the most loved English pilgrimage is the one to Canterbury in which Cathedral there is a candle above the place where the murder happened (because Henry VIII made the body disappeared). Thomas Beckett was then declared as a martyr. The four knights got hanged because the king couldn’t accepts his death
The Irish Question: Henry II was the first who sent knights to Ireland, which was still Celtic, to conquer it. Pope Hadrian IV supported this entrance to Ireland and agreed to create a link to the English. There had been a marriage between the Aoife /ifa/and Strongbow families in 1155. That was the start of Ireland’s end and the start of the English conquest as well. In a painting called “The marriage of Strongbow and Aoife”, the colours used are dark, people are crying even if it was painted during the romantic periods, but set in a medieval era. The only point that is illuminated is the part in which there are some girls. Irish people see the English conquest as a period of slavery. They were then persecuted because of their religion and different culture that is why many of them decided to escape in the USA.
Richard the Lion Heart: Richard the Lion heart was the heir of the throne after Henry II. He was a great warrior but he didn’t spend much time in England because he took part of the Crusades. He was killed trying to besieging a castle. His brother, John Lackland, had the control on the England’s lands, but he lost many of them. As he started wanting more taxes, people forced him to sign The Magna Charta Libertatum in which it was declared that the king was not superior to other people. In the 13th century, with King Henry III, there’s the introduction of the House of Commons and the House of the Lords on which the nowadays Parliament’s based. The two Houses couldn’t rule completely because of the King, but on the other hand, the King had to consider them.
The 100 years’ war: it is the most important point of both English’s and French’s histories. Before that, the Normans ruled the Anglo-Saxons because they invaded England. That meant that the rulers of England were French, the Plantagenets. The English were saying that France is their home because of their origins, on the other hand the French considered England as theirs. This long war had different turning points. Talking about victories, the English were first winning because of the Mercenary Army, Joan of Arc and the use of the arch too. Eventually, the French won. At the end of the war, those two populations took two different directions and developed two languages, cultures and traditions. Especially the English started developing the awareness of being a unique and separated population, not just inhabitants of a small island next to France.
Edward I: He annexed Scotland to the English Empire, later, Robert the Bruce separated Scotland from England and became the father of the Stuart’s dynasty. We also remind William Wallace: a patriot and Scottish man who fight against the English and was killed by them.
Henry V: The greatest hero for the English was Henry V, during the 100 years’ war. He was young but a great fighter. During the Battle of Agincourt, even if the English soldiers were fewer than the French’s was, they won. (It is said that the English were sick because of the dirty water that they drank).All of them were so terrified because the French promised that they would have cut their fingers so they could not use the arch anymore.
Geoffrey Chaucer: He was born in London during the Middle Age. He’s considered as the father of the English language (like Dante’s considered as ours, with the dialect in Florence). He was a member of the Parliament so writing was just a hobby at the time. He had many experiences like the 100 years’ war, in which he understood the importance of humanity and psychology in people, so that’s why there’s a huge sense of reality in his operas. At the time, French and Latin were the languages of scholars; English was used by everyone, so that’s why, Chaucer, like Dante, elevated English. He decided to use the typical London’s English for some reasons: London was the capital city, it had an important port on the river Thames in which a lot of people used to come from Europe; it was fundamental to create a common and simply language who could had been understood by everyone. In addition, the area near London is the centre of culture, where there are the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Chaucer invented the iambic pentameter (then used by Shakespeare) to narrates stories that are often set during journeys (as Dante’s Divine Comedy). Life is seen as a journey from a period of sins to a happier place. Unlike Dante, Chaucer is characterized by a big sense of reality with stories that are set in real places. This is a characteristic that we can also find in Boccaccio’s Decameron: there’s a frame story in which people tell tales while there’re escaping from the plague. In the other hand, in the 30 chapters of the Canterbury Tales, all the 29 people are English from different classes: there’s a cross section, because all the people are a part of the middle classes neither nobles nor peasants.An interior narrator, who’s Chaucer himself, tells all the things.
Small summary: the host of the tavern proposes a contest: every pilgrim has to narrate two stories (one on the on and one on the way back to Canterbury), the best storyteller will win the last supper. We only have 24 tales from the 120 planned.
The Renaissance: it is a period in which sonnets were born. Sonnets have 14 lines. These are divided in Petrarchan or Shakespearean (Elizabethan) sonnets.
Petrarchan sonnets: rhyme scheme (ABBA ABBA CDC DCD/CDC). Two quatrains and two tercets. They are usually addressed to a beloved woman.
Shakespearean sonnets: rhyme scheme (ABAB CDCD EFEF GG). There are three quatrains and a couplet (two separated lines) which is the most important part of the sonnet. There’s a logical type pf meaning: in English it’s difficult to create rhymes, so that’s why sonnets are structured as “essays” also because it’s complicated to create a chiasmic structure as English has German origins.
The Great Chain of Being: it is a concept derived from Plato and Aristotle that became wide popular during the Elizabethan times. The Chain, often compared to Dante’s Inferno, starts from God, who is the setter, and progresses downwards to angels, demons, nobles, peasants, animals ecc. The Divine order is the belief that everything in the universe has a specific place and rank in order of their perceived importance and spiritual nature. Cartesio who separated “res cogita” from “res exstensa invented this hierarchy idea of society: with this new way of thinking, the man is seen as the most important part of the chain, because it connects the world of animals and material things to God’s World. If a person behaves badly (instincts), the universe will have consequences. There’s the macrocosm, which contains animals, unanimated objects and god: in each part there’s the best and the worst (example: the king of all animals is the lion), this ulterior subdivision is called microcosm. Cosmos means order, if you break it you’ll have chaos. If someone or something were to break the Divine Order by not being obedient to whatever was above it, the person or thing that went against God’s will would be punished. Bigger betrayals of the Divine Order were believed to bring bigger punishments by God, while smaller betrayals were would bring about smaller punishments. It may had been a way to maintain order between people.