90% of medieval chivalry and hero manuscripts lost

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According to a new study released today, the Knights of the Round Table have become world-famous, but most of the heroic or chivalry stories of medieval English have been lost. Meanwhile, more than three-quarters of the medieval stories of Iceland and Ireland have survived to this day, with unusual patterns suggesting that the island’s “ecosystem” has helped protect culture.

The findings come from an international research team that includes Oxford experts who have applied statistical models used in ecology to estimate valuable artifacts and story losses and survival from different parts of Europe. increase. This ecological approach provides a new perspective on the loss of cultural heritage, complementing past studies.Their findings are published in the journal ChemistryThe main authors are Mike Kestemont (University of Antwerp) and Forgart Karsdorp (KNAW Meertens Institute).

Dr. Katarzyna Anna Kapitan, Old Norse Language Scholar and Junior Research Fellow at Lineker College in Oxford, said:

“We, Medieval manuscript Preserving the chivalry and heroic story has been lost. This roughly corresponds to the magnitude of loss estimated by book historians using various approaches. In addition, it could be estimated that about 32 percent of medieval chivalry and heroic works were lost over the centuries. “

The team uses the “invisible species model” of ecology to romance about King Arthur and heroes about Sigurd of Dragonslayer and legendary ruler Ragnar Lothbrok, known to a wide audience of the television series. Measured the loss of stories from medieval Europe, such as legends “Viking” The loss and survival estimates they obtained are compatible with a small amount of historical evidence.

This study found that there was a significant difference in survival rates between medieval works and manuscripts. Different languagesWhile the work in English suffered the most serious losses, it suggests that the Irish tradition of medieval narrative novels is best preserved. The team calculated that about 81% of medieval Irish romance and adventure stories survive today, compared to only 38% of similar works in English. Similarly, the results suggest that about 19% of medieval Irish manuscripts survive, compared to just 7% of the English example.

Dr. Daniel Sawyer, a researcher at Fitz James in Medieval English Literature at Merton College in Oxford, said: library. However, English heroic stories rarely appear in monasteries or monastery library catalogs in the first place. “

“There may be other possible explanations for the limited fame of English during this period,” Dr. Sawyer continues. “Today, English is learned as a second language all over the world, but during the Middle Ages it had little international significance, especially after the Norman conquest, French is an international language of power and culture. As important in England as. The British crown owned part of what is now France.

“In fact, if you add fiction written in English Norman to the English evidence, the survival rate of the English evidence is similar to the survival rate of other languages. This is the Norman French for English culture. It shows importance and suggests a heroic story, forming a connected tradition in Norman with French and English. “

Dr. Capitan, on the other hand, explains that it is a very different painting for Iceland. “Today I know about three (or 77%) of four of Iceland’s medieval romance and adventure stories, but only one of the six medieval manuscripts is preserved. These works (or 77%). 17%). “

In addition to events such as library fires and book recycling, this study identifies the inherent “homogeneity” of cultural production as a factor that has been overlooked in the survival of ancient relics.

“Our study reveals interesting similarities between Icelandic and Irish evidence. Both Icelandic and Irish literature have high survival rates for medieval works and manuscripts,” said Dr. Capitan. The “uniformity profile” is also very similar. This means the average number of manuscripts. Preserving medieval works is more evenly distributed than the other traditions we have examined. “

“The similarities between Iceland and Ireland can be caused by the lasting tradition of hand-copying literary texts long after the invention of printed matter,” explains Dr. Capitan.

“Evidence may tell us about Britain’s relationship with continental Europe in the Middle Ages, and the impact of broader European culture on English writing. Very large and continental in Britain. Close ties can explain why British evidence is English evidence. It does not show the uniformity seen in the island distribution of the story of Iceland and Ireland. “

These analyzes call for more widespread application of these methods throughout heritage science. Researchers agree that collaboration between disciplines is very inspiring. “This shows that interdisciplinary studies enable large-scale comparisons across different locations, traditions, and languages ​​beyond a single writer or text case study,” said Dr. Capitan. I conclude that.

Plagiarism of a medieval writer revived by technology

For more information:
Mike Kestmon, Forgotten Book: Applying an Invisible Species Model to the Survival of Culture, Chemistry (1970). DOI: 10.1126 / science.abl7655..

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Oxford University

Quote: 90% of medieval chivalry and hero manuscripts were lost (February 17, 2022) Obtained from February 17, 2022

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90% of medieval chivalry and hero manuscripts lost

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