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The Oxford Guide to Middle High German$
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Howard Jones and Martin H. Jones

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199654611

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199654611.001.0001

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Historical, Cultural, and Literary Background

Historical, Cultural, and Literary Background

(p.251) Chapter 4 Historical, Cultural, and Literary Background
The Oxford Guide to Middle High German

Howard Jones

Martin H. Jones

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the context in which the texts chosen for study originated and in which the use of German as a written language developed during the Middle High German period. No prior knowledge of the period is presupposed; key concepts are explained as they arise. The chapter is divided into three sections. The first explains the formation of the kingdom of Germany and of the Holy Roman Empire and examines the relationship between them. The second section describes the structure and working of German society under the following headings: the church; kingship and the secular nobility (including discussion of knighthood and chivalry); peasants and the rural economy; towns and townspeople. The third section surveys the principal types of texts that provide the basis for the study of Middle High German. The survey covers religious literature, courtly literature, chronicles, legal and administrative texts, and medical and other specialist literature.

Keywords:   kingdom of Germany, Holy Roman Empire, medieval church, kingship, nobility, knighthood, chivalry, peasants, towns, types of text

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