Chivalric romance

Yvain fighting Gawain in order to regain the love of his lady Laudine. Medieval illumination from Chrétien de Troyes's romance, Yvain, le Chevalier au Lion
Holger Danske, or Ogier the Dane, from the Matter of France
A knight rescues a lady from a dragon.

Type of prose and verse narrative that was popular in the noble courts of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe.

- Chivalric romance

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Hero of the legend of Tristan and Iseult.

Tristan and Isolde (Life) by Rogelio de Egusquiza (1912)
"Tristain's" attributed arms
Scenes from the story of Tristan on 13th-century tiles from Chertsey Abbey

In the 13th century, during the great period of prose romances, Tristan en prose or Prose Tristan became one of the most popular romances of its time.


"Gautier" purportedly recounting the tales of Lancelot to Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine in a 14th-century manuscript of the Lancelot-Grail (BnF Français 123)
Yvain helping a lion fight a dragon in a 14th-century Italian illumination (BNF fr. 343 Queste del Saint Graal)

The Lancelot-Grail, also known as the Vulgate Cycle or the Pseudo-Map Cycle, is an early 13th-century French Arthurian literary cycle consisting of interconnected prose episodes of chivalric romance in Old French.

The Winter's Tale

Play by William Shakespeare originally published in the First Folio of 1623.

Act II, scene 3: Antigonus swears his loyalty to Leontes, in an attempt to save Leontes' young daughter's life. From a painting by John Opie commissioned by the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery for printing and display.
John Fawcett as Autolycus in The Winter's Tale (1828) by Thomas Charles Wageman
An ink drawing of Act II, Scene iii: Paulina imploring Leontes to have mercy on his daughter, Perdita. Illustration was designed for an edition of Lamb's Tales, copyrighted 1918.
An engraving of Florizel and Perdita by Charles Robert Leslie.
Autolycus (1836) by Charles Robert Leslie
Scene from 'The Winter's Tale' (Act IV, Scene 4) (from the play by William Shakespeare), Augustus Leopold Egg (1845)
The first page of The VVinters Tale, printed in the Second Folio of 1632
Perdita by Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys
A mid-19th-century painting of the statue of Hermione coming to life
A fanciful 1896 map by Gelett Burgess showing Bohemia's seacoast
An 1807 print of Act III, Scene iii: Exit Antigonus chased by a bear.
A depiction of Mrs. Mattocks as Hermione, from a 1779 performance at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane

The main plot of The Winter's Tale is taken from Robert Greene's pastoral romance Pandosto, published in 1588.

Old French

The language spoken in most of the northern half of France from approximately the 8th to the 14th centuries.

Map of France in 1180, at the height of the feudal system.
The possessions of the French king are in light blue, vassals to the French king in green, Angevin possessions in red. Shown in white is the Holy Roman Empire to the east, the western fringes of which, including Upper Burgundy and Lorraine, were also part of the Old French areal.
Distribution of the modern langue d'oïl (shades of green) and of Franco-Provençal dialects (shades of blue)

At the beginning of the 13th century, Jean Bodel, in his Chanson de Saisnes, divided medieval French narrative literature into three subject areas: the Matter of France or Matter of Charlemagne; the Matter of Rome (romances in an ancient setting); and the Matter of Britain (Arthurian romances and Breton lais).


Illuminated manuscript page of Parzival

Parzival is a medieval romance by the knight-poet Wolfram von Eschenbach in Middle High German.

Romance (love)

Feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the courtship behaviors undertaken by an individual to express those overall feelings and resultant emotions.

An 1870 oil painting by Ford Madox Brown of Romeo and Juliet, considered to be the archetypal romantic couple, depicting the play's iconic balcony scene.
Bernger von Horheim in the Codex Manesse (early 14th century)
La Belle Dame sans Merci 1893, by John William Waterhouse
Roman copy of a Greek sculpture by Lysippus depicting Eros, the Greek personification of romantic love
Archetypal lovers in Romeo and Juliet by Frank Dicksee, 1884

Historically, the term romance originates with the medieval ideal of chivalry as set out in the literature of chivalric romance.


Artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850.

Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1818
Eugène Delacroix, Death of Sardanapalus, 1827, taking its Orientalist subject from a play by Lord Byron
Philipp Otto Runge, The Morning, 1808
William Blake, The Little Girl Found, from Songs of Innocence and Experience, 1794
John William Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott, 1888, after a poem by Tennyson; like many Victorian paintings, romantic but not Romantic.
Henry Wallis, The Death of Chatterton 1856, by suicide at 17 in 1770
Title page of Volume III of Des Knaben Wunderhorn, 1808
William Wordsworth (pictured) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature in 1798 with their joint publication Lyrical Ballads
Portrait of Lord Byron by Thomas Phillips, . The Byronic hero first reached the wider public in Byron's semi-autobiographical epic narrative poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812–1818).
Robert Burns in Alexander Nasmyth's portrait of 1787
Raeburn's portrait of Walter Scott in 1822
The "battle of Hernani" was fought nightly at the theatre in 1830
Adam Mickiewicz on the Ayu-Dag, by Walenty Wańkowicz, 1828
Juliusz Słowacki, a Polish poet considered one of the "Three National Bards" of Polish literature—a major figure in the Polish Romantic period, and the father of modern Polish drama.
El escritor José de Espronceda, portrait by Antonio María Esquivel (c. 1845) (Museo del Prado, Madrid)
Portuguese poet, novelist, politician and playwright Almeida Garrett (1799–1854)
Italian poet Isabella di Morra, sometimes cited as a precursor of Romantic poets
A print exemplifying the contrast between neoclassical vs. romantic styles of landscape and architecture (or the "Grecian" and the "Gothic" as they are termed here), 1816
Dennis Malone Carter, Decatur Boarding the Tripolitan Gunboat, 1878. Romanticist vision of the Battle of Tripoli, during the First Barbary War. It represents the moment when the American war hero Stephen Decatur was fighting hand-to-hand against the Muslim pirate captain.
Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: The Savage State (1 of 5), 1836
Thomas Jones, The Bard, 1774, a prophetic combination of Romanticism and nationalism by the Welsh artist
Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, Ossian receiving the Ghosts of the French Heroes (1800–02), Musée national de Malmaison et Bois-Préau, Château de Malmaison
Cavalier gaulois by Antoine-Augustin Préault, Pont d'Iéna, Paris
Ludwig van Beethoven, painted by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Portrait of Niccolò Paganini, 1819
Frédéric Chopin in 1838 by Eugène Delacroix
Akseli Gallen-Kallela, The Forging of the Sampo, 1893. An artist from Finland deriving inspiration from the Finnish "national epic", the Kalevala
Egide Charles Gustave Wappers, Episode of the Belgian Revolution of 1830, 1834, Musée d'Art Ancien, Brussels. A romantic vision by a Belgian painter.
Hans Gude, Fra Hardanger, 1847. Example of Norwegian romantic nationalism.
The November Uprising (1830–31), in the Kingdom of Poland, against the Russian Empire
Hameau de la Reine, Palace of Versailles (1783–1785)
Royal Pavilion in Brighton by John Nash (1815–1823)
Cologne Cathedral (1840–80)
Grand Staircase of the Paris Opera by Charles Garnier (1861–75)
Basilica of Sacré-Cœur by Paul Abadie (1875–1914)
George Stubbs, A Lion Attacking a Horse (1770), oil on canvas, 38 in. x 49 1/2in., Yale Center for British Art
Henry Fuseli, 1781, The Nightmare, a classical artist whose themes often anticipate the Romantic
Francisco Goya, The Third of May 1808, 1814
Théodore Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa, 1819
Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830
J. M. W. Turner, The Fighting Téméraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken up, 1839
Thomas Cole, Childhood (1842), one of the four scenes in The Voyage of Life
Thomas Cole, ''The Voyage of Life
William Blake, Albion Rose, 1794–95
Louis Janmot, from his series The Poem of the Soul, before 1854
Felix Mendelssohn, 1839
Robert Schumann, 1839
Franz Liszt, 1847
Daniel Auber, c. 1868
Hector Berlioz by Gustave Courbet, 1850
Giovanni Boldini, Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi, 1886
Richard Wagner, c. 1870s
Giacomo Meyerbeer, 1847
Gustav Mahler, 1896
Joseph Vernet, 1759, Shipwreck; the 18th-century "sublime"
Joseph Wright, 1774, Cave at evening, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts
Philip James de Loutherbourg, Coalbrookdale by Night, 1801, a key location of the English Industrial Revolution
Théodore Géricault, The Charging Chasseur, c. 1812
Ingres, The Death of Leonardo da Vinci, 1818, one of his Troubadour style works
Eugène Delacroix, Collision of Moorish Horsemen, 1843–44
Eugène Delacroix, The Bride of Abydos, 1857, after the poem by Byron
Joseph Anton Koch, Waterfalls at Subiaco, 1812–1813, a "classical" landscape to art historians
James Ward, 1814–1815, Gordale Scar
John Constable, 1821, The Hay Wain, one of Constable's large "six footers"
J. C. Dahl, 1826, Eruption of Vesuvius, by Friedrich's closest follower
William Blake, c. 1824–27, The Wood of the Self-Murderers: The Harpies and the Suicides, Tate
Karl Bryullov, The Last Day of Pompeii, 1833, The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
Isaac Levitan, Pacific, 1898, State Russian Museum, St.Petersburg
J. M. W. Turner, The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons (1835), Philadelphia Museum of Art
Hans Gude, Winter Afternoon, 1847, National Gallery of Norway, Oslo
Ivan Aivazovsky, 1850, The Ninth Wave, Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
John Martin, 1852, The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Laing Art Gallery
Frederic Edwin Church, 1860, Twilight in the Wilderness, Cleveland Museum of Art
Albert Bierstadt, 1863, The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak

Most such novels took the form of "chivalric romance", tales of adventure, devotion and honour.

Amadís de Gaula

Spanish edition of Amadis of Gaula (1533)
First surviving edition, 1508; University of California, Berkeley
Los cuatro libros de Amadís de Gaula, Zaragoza: Jorge Coci, 1508

Amadís de Gaula (in English Amadis of Gaul) (Amadís de Gaula, ); Amadis de Gaula, ) is a landmark work among the chivalric romances which were in vogue in sixteenth-century Iberian Peninsula, although its first version, much revised before printing, was written at the onset of the 14th century.

Roman de la Rose

Medieval poem written in Old French and presented as an allegorical dream vision.

Manuscript Roman de la rose, 1390
The characters Mirth and Gladness lead a dance, in a miniature image from a manuscript of The Romance of the Rose in the Bodleian Library (MS Douce 364, folio 8r).
Genius of love, Meister des Rosenromans, 1420-1430
Author of a 14th-century copy of Roman de la Rose at his writing desk. NLW MS 5016D
Roman de la Rose (ed. 1914)
Miniature from a manuscript of the Roman de la Rose (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce 195), folio 1r, portrait of Guillaume de Lorris.
Abélard and Héloïse in a 14th-century manuscript of the Roman de la Rose
The God of Love locks the Lover's heart. f. 15r.b, Roman de la Rose MS NLW 5016D

The first part of the poem's story is set in a walled garden, an example of a locus amoenus, a traditional literary topos in epic poetry and chivalric romance.


Desires are states of mind that are expressed by terms like "wanting", "wishing", "longing" or "craving".

Wilhelm Wundt (seated) with colleagues in his psychological laboratory, the first of its kind.

The theme of desire is at the core of romance novels, which often create drama by showing cases where human desire is impeded by social conventions, class, or cultural barriers.