Middle High German
Middle High German is the term for the form of German spoken in the High Middle Ages. It is conventionally dated between 1050 and 1350, developing from Old High German and into Early New High German. High German is defined as those varieties of German. While there is no standard MHG, the prestige of the Hohenstaufen court gave rise in the late 12th century to a supra-regional literary language based on Swabian, an Alemannic dialect; this historical interpretation is complicated by the tendency of modern editions of MHG texts to use normalised spellings based on this variety, which make the written language appear more consistent than is the case in the manuscripts. Scholars are uncertain as to whether the literary language reflected a supra-regional spoken language of the courts. An important development in this period was the Ostsiedlung, the eastward expansion of German settlement beyond the Elbe–Saale line which marked the limit of Old High German; this process started in the 11th century, all the East Central German dialects are a result of this expansion.
"Judeo-German", the precursor of the Yiddish language, sees attestation in the 13th–14th centuries, as a variety of Middle High German written in Hebrew characters. The Middle High German period is dated from 1050 to 1350. An older view puts the boundary with New High German around 1500. There are several phonological criteria which separate MHG from the preceding Old High German period: the weakening of unstressed vowels to ⟨e⟩: OHG taga, MHG tage the full development of Umlaut and its use to mark a number of morphological categories the devoicing of final stops: OHG tag > MHG tac Culturally, the two periods are distinguished by the transition from a predominantly clerical written culture, in which the dominant language was Latin, to one centred on the courts of the great nobles, with German expanding its range of use. The rise of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in Swabia makes the South West the dominant region in both political and cultural terms. Demographically, the MHG period is characterised by a massive rise in population, terminated by the demographic catastrophe of the Black Death.
Along with the rise in population comes a territorial expansion eastwards, which saw German-speaking settlers colonise land under Slav control. Linguistically, the transition to Early New High German is marked by four vowel changes which together produce the phonemic system of modern German, though not all dialects participated in these changes: Diphthongisation of the long high vowels /iː yː uː/ > /aɪ̯ ɔʏ̯ aʊ̯/: MHG hût > NHG Haut Monophthongisation of the high centering diphthongs /iə yə uə/ > /iː yː uː/: MHG huot > NHG Hut lengthening of stressed short vowels in open syllables: MHG sagen /zaɡən/ > NHG sagen /zaːɡən/ The loss of unstressed vowels in many circumstances: MHG vrouwe > NHG Frau The centres of culture in the ENHG period are no longer the courts but the towns. The dialect map of Germany by the end of the Middle High German period was much the same as that at the start of the 20th century, though the boundary with Low German was further south than it now is: With the exception of Thuringian, the East Central German dialects are new dialects resulting from the Ostsiedlung.
Middle High German texts are written in the Latin alphabet. There was no standardised spelling, but modern editions standardise according to a set of conventions established by Karl Lachmann in the 19th century. There are several important features in this standardised orthography which are not characteristics of the original manuscripts: the marking of vowel length is entirely absent from MHG manuscripts; the marking of umlauted vowels is absent or inconsistent in the manuscripts. A curly-tailed z is used in modern handbooks and grammars to indicate the /s/ or /s/-like sound which arose from Germanic /t/ in the High German consonant shift; this character has no counterpart in the original manuscripts, which use ⟨s⟩ or ⟨z⟩ to indicate this sound. The original texts use ⟨i⟩ and ⟨u⟩ for the semi-vowels /j/ and /w/. A particular problem is that many manuscripts are of much date than the works they contain. In addition, there is considerable regional variation in the spellings that appear in the original texts, which modern editions conceal.
The standardised orthography of MHG editions uses the following vowel spellings: Short vowels: ⟨a e i o u⟩ and the umlauted vowels ⟨ä ö ü⟩ Long vowels: ⟨â ê î ô û⟩ and the umlauted vowels ⟨æ œ iu⟩ Closing diphthongs: ⟨ei ou⟩. No such orthographic distinction is made in MHG manuscripts; the standardised orthography of MHG editions uses the following consonant spellings: Stops: ⟨p t k/c/q b d g⟩ Affricates: ⟨pf/ph tz/z⟩ Fricatives: ⟨v f s ȥ sch ch h⟩ Nasals: ⟨m n⟩ Liquids: ⟨l r⟩ Semivowels: ⟨w j⟩ The charts show the vowel and consonant systems of classical MHG. The spellings indicated are the standard spellings
Chrétien de Troyes
Chrétien de Troyes (1135?–1185?, was a French poet and trouvère known for his writing on Arthurian subjects, for originating the character of Lancelot. Chrétien's works, including Erec and Enide, Lancelot and Yvain, represent some of the best-regarded of medieval literature, his use of structure in Yvain, has been seen as a step towards the modern novel. Little is known of his life, but he seems to have been from Troyes or at least intimately connected with it. Between 1160 and 1172 he served at the court of his patroness Marie of France, Countess of Champagne, daughter of King Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who married Count Henry I of Champagne in 1164, he served the court of Philippe d'Alsace, Count of Flanders. Chrétien's works include five major poems in rhyming eight-syllable couplets. Four of these are complete: Erec and Enide. Yvain is considered Chrétien's most masterful work. Chrétien's final romance was Perceval, the Story of the Grail, written between 1181 and 1190, but left unfinished, though some scholars have disputed this.
It is dedicated to Philip, Count of Flanders, to whom Chrétien may have been attached in his last years. He finished only 9,000 lines of the work, but four successors of varying talents added 54,000 additional lines in what are known as the Four Continuations; the last thousand lines of Lancelot were written by Godefroi de Leigni by arrangement with Chrétien. In the case of Perceval, one continuer says; this has not stopped speculation. There are several lesser works, not all of which can be securely ascribed to Chrétien. Philomela is the only one of his four poems based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. Two short-lyric chansons on the subject of love are very his, but the attribution of the pious romance Guillaume d'Angleterre to him is now doubted, it has been suggested that Chrétien might be the author of two short verse romances titled Le Chevalier á l'épée and La Mule sans frein, but this theory has not found much support. Chrétien names his treatments of Ovid in the introduction to Cligès, where he mentions his work about King Mark and Iseult.
The latter is related to the legend of Tristan and Iseult, though Tristan is not named. Chrétien's take on Tristan has not survived, though in the introduction of Cligès, Chrétien himself says that his treatment of Tristan was not well received explaining why it does not survive. Chrétien's works are written in vernacular Old French, although it is marked by traits of the regional Champenois dialect; the immediate and specific sources for his romances are uncertain, as Chrétien speaks in the vaguest way of the materials he used. Geoffrey of Monmouth or Wace might have supplied some of the names, but neither author mentioned Erec, Lancelot and many others who play an important role in Chrétien's narratives. One is left to guess about Latin or French literary originals which are now lost, or upon continental lore that goes back to a Celtic source in the case of Béroul, an Anglo-Norman who wrote around 1150. For his Perceval, the Story of the Grail, the influence of the story is tied to the story of Saint Galgano who died in 1180-1181 and was canonized in 1185: a knight struck by god's vision, planted his sword in the ground that solidified.
However, Chrétien found his sources at hand, without much understanding of its primitive spirit, but appreciating it as a setting for the ideal society dreamed of, although not realized, in his own day. And Chrétien's five romances together form the most complete expression from a single author of the ideals of French chivalry. Though so far there has been little critical attention paid to the subject, it is not inaccurate to say that Chrétien was influenced by the changing face of secular and canonical law in the 12th century; this is relevant for his Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, which makes repeated use of the customary law prevalent in Chrétien's day. William Wistar Comfort praised de Troyes' "significance as a literary artist and as the founder of a precious literary tradition distinguishes him from all other poets of the Latin races between the close of the Empire and the arrival of Dante." Chrétien's writing was popular, as evidenced by the high number of surviving copies of his romances and their many adaptations into other languages.
Three of Middle High German literature's finest examples, Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival and Hartmann von Aue's Erec and Iwein, were based on Perceval and Yvain. In the case of Peredur, the connection between the Welsh romances and their source is not direct and has never been satisfactorily delineated. Chrétien has the distinction of being the first writer to mention the Holy Grail and the love affair between Queen Guinevere and Lancelot, subjects of household recognition today. There is a specific Classical influence in Chrétien's romances, the likes of which were "translated into the Old French vernacular dur
The Holy Grail is a treasure that serves as an important motif in Arthurian literature. Different traditions describe it as a cup, dish or stone with miraculous powers that provide happiness, eternal youth or sustenance in infinite abundance in the custody of the Fisher King; the term "holy grail" is used to denote an elusive object or goal, sought after for its great significance. A "grail", wondrous but not explicitly holy, first appears in Perceval, le Conte du Graal, an unfinished romance written by Chrétien de Troyes around 1190. Here, Chrétien's story attracted many continuators and interpreters in the 12th and early 13th centuries, including Wolfram von Eschenbach, who perceived the Grail as a stone. In the late 12th century, Robert de Boron wrote in Joseph d'Arimathie that the Grail was Jesus's vessel from the Last Supper, which Joseph of Arimathea used to catch Christ's blood at the crucifixion. Thereafter, the Holy Grail became interwoven with the legend of the Holy Chalice, the Last Supper cup, a theme continued in works such as the Vulgate Cycle, the Post-Vulgate Cycle, Le Morte d'Arthur.
Grail literature divides into two classes. The first concerns King Arthur's knights questing after the object; the second concerns the Grail's history in the time of Joseph of Arimathea. The word graal, as it is earliest spelled, comes from Old French graal or greal, cognate with Old Provençal grazal and Old Catalan gresal, meaning "a cup or bowl of earth, wood, or metal"; the most accepted etymology derives it from Latin gradalis or gradale via an earlier form, cratalis, a derivative of crater or cratus, which was, in turn, borrowed from Greek krater. Alternative suggestions include a derivative of cratis, a name for a type of woven basket that came to refer to a dish, or a derivative of Latin gradus meaning "'by degree','by stages', applied to a dish brought to the table in different stages or services during a meal". In the 15th century, English writer John Hardyng invented a fanciful new etymology for Old French san-graal, meaning "Holy Grail", by parsing it as sang real, meaning "royal blood".
This etymology was used by some medieval British writers such as Thomas Malory, became prominent in the conspiracy theory developed in the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, in which sang real refers to the Jesus bloodline. The nine works from the first group are: the Story of the Grail by Chrétien de Troyes. Four Continuations of Chrétien's poem, by authors of differing vision and talent, designed to bring the story to a close. Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, which adapted at least the holiness of Robert's Grail into the framework of Chrétien's story. In Wolfram's telling, the Grail was kept safe at the castle of Munsalvaesche, entrusted to Titurel, the first Grail King. Some, not least the Benedictine monks, have identified the castle with their real sanctuary of Montserrat in Catalonia; the Didot Perceval, named after the manuscript's former owner, purportedly a prosification of Robert de Boron's sequel to Joseph d'Arimathie. Welsh romance Peredur son of Efrawg, a loose translation of Chrétien's poem and the Continuations, with some influence from native Welsh literature.
Perlesvaus, called the "least canonical" Grail romance because of its different character. German poem Diu Crône, in which Gawain, rather than Perceval, achieves the Grail; the Lancelot section of the vast Vulgate Cycle, which introduces the new Grail hero, Galahad. The Queste del Saint Graal, another part of the Vulgate Cycle, concerning the adventures of Galahad and his achievement of the Grail. Of the second group there are: Robert de Boron's Joseph d'Arimathie; the Estoire del Saint Graal, the first part of the Vulgate Cycle, based on Robert's tale but expanding it with many new details. Verses by Rigaut de Barbezieux, a late 12th or early 13th-century Provençal troubador, where mention is made of Perceval, the lance, the Grail; the Grail was considered a dish when first described by Chrétien de Troyes. There, it is a tray, used to serve at a feast. Hélinand of Froidmont described a grail as a "wide and deep saucer". Robert de Boron portrayed it as the vessel of the Last Supper. Peredur son of Efrawg had no Grail as such, presenting the hero instead with a platter containing his kinsman's bloody, severed head.
The Grail is first featured in Perceval, le Conte du Graal by Chrétien de Troyes, who claims he was working from a source book given to him by his patron, Count Philip of Flanders. In this incomplete poem, dated sometime between 1180 and 1191, the object has not yet acquired the implications of holiness it would have in works. While dining in the magical abode of the Fisher King, Perceval witnesses a wondrous procession in which youths carry magnificent objects from one chamber to another, passing before him at each course of the meal. First comes a young man carrying a bleeding lance two boys carrying candelabras. A beautiful young girl emerges bearing an elaborately decorated graal, or "grail". Chrétien refers to this object not as "The Grail" but as "a grail", showing the word was used, in its earliest literary context, as a common noun. For Chrétien a
As a literary genre of high culture, romance or chivalric romance is a type of prose and verse narrative, popular in the aristocratic circles of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe. They were fantastic stories about marvel-filled adventures of a chivalric knight-errant portrayed as having heroic qualities, who goes on a quest, it developed further from the epics. Romances reworked legends, fairy tales, history to suit the readers' and hearers' tastes, but by c. 1600 they were out of fashion, Miguel de Cervantes famously burlesqued them in his novel Don Quixote. Still, the modern image of "medieval" is more influenced by the romance than by any other medieval genre, the word medieval evokes knights, distressed damsels and other romantic tropes. Romance literature was written in Old French, Anglo-Norman and Provençal, in Portuguese, English and German. During the early 13th century, romances were written as prose. In romances those of French origin, there is a marked tendency to emphasize themes of courtly love, such as faithfulness in adversity.
Unlike the form of the novel and like the chansons de geste, the genre of romance dealt with traditional themes. These were distinguished from earlier epics by heavy use of marvelous events, the elements of love, the frequent use of a web of interwoven stories, rather than a simple plot unfolding about a main character; the earliest forms were invariably in verse, but the 15th century saw many in prose retelling the old, rhymed versions. The romantic form pursued the wish-fulfillment dream where the heroes and heroines were considered representations of the ideals of the age while the villains embodied the threat to their ascendancy. There is a persistent archetype, which involved a hero's quest; this quest or journey served as the structure. With regards to the structure, scholars recognize the similarity of the romance to folk tales. Vladimir Propp identified a basic form for this genre and it involved an order that began with initial situation followed by departure, first move, second move, resolution.
This structure is applicable to romance narratives. Overwhelmingly, these were linked in some way only in an opening frame story, with three thematic cycles of tales: these were assembled in imagination at a late date as the "Matter of Rome", the "Matter of France" and the "Matter of Britain". In reality, a number of "non-cyclical" romances were written without any such connection. Indeed, some tales are found so that scholars group them together as the "Constance cycle" or the "Crescentia cycle"—referring not to a continuity of character and setting, but to the recognizable plot. Many influences are clear in the forms of chivalric romance; the medieval romance developed out of the medieval epic, in particular the Matter of France developing out of such tales as the Chanson de Geste, with intermediate forms where the feudal bonds of loyalty had giants, or a magical horn, added to the plot. The epics of Charlemagne, unlike such ones as Beowulf had feudalism rather than the tribal loyalties; the romance form is distinguished from the earlier epics of the Middle Ages by the changes of the 12th century, which introduced courtly and chivalrous themes into the works.
This occurred regardless of congruity to the source material. Chivalry was treated as continuous from Roman times; this extended to such details as clothing. When Priam sends Paris to Greece in a 14th-century work, Priam is dressed in the mold of Charlemagne, Paris is dressed demurely, but in Greece, he adopts the flashier style, with multicolored clothing and fashionable shoes, cut in lattice-work—signs of a seducer in the era. Historical figures reappeared, reworked, in romance; the entire Matter of France derived from known figures, suffered somewhat because their descendants had an interest in the tales that were told of their ancestors, unlike the Matter of Britain. Richard Coeur de Lion reappeared in romance, endowed with a fairy mother who arrived in a ship with silk sails and departed when forced to behold the sacrament, bare-handed combat with a lion, magical rings, prophetic dreams. Hereward the Wake's early life appeared in chronicles as the embellished, romantic adventures of an exile, complete with rescuing princess and wrestling with bears.
Fulk Fitzwarin, an outlaw in King John's day, has his historical background a minor thread in the episodic stream of romantic adventures. The earliest medieval romances dealt with themes from folklore, which diminished over time, though remaining a presence. Many early tales had the knight
Wolfram von Eschenbach
Wolfram von Eschenbach was a German knight and poet, regarded as one of the greatest epic poets of medieval German literature. As a Minnesinger, he wrote lyric poetry. Little is known of Wolfram's life. There are no historical documents which mention him, his works are the sole source of evidence. In Parzival he talks of wir Beier; this and a number of geographical references have resulted in the present-day Wolframs-Eschenbach, until 1917 Obereschenbach, near Ansbach in present-day Bavaria, being designated as his birthplace. However, the evidence is circumstantial and not without problems - there are at least four other places named Eschenbach in Bavaria, Wolframs-Eschenbach was not part of the Duchy of Bavaria in Wolfram's time; the arms shown in the Manesse manuscript come from the imagination of a 14th-century artist, drawing on the figure of the Red Knight in Parzival, have no heraldic connection with Wolfram. Wolfram's work indicates a number of possible patrons, which suggests that he served at a number of courts during his life.
In his Parzival, Wolfram states. But it has been credited by many commentators, it is noted in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain that "the greatest poet of the Middle Ages, Wolfram von Eschenbach, could neither read nor write," and the Catholic Encyclopedia observes: "Wolfram in his Parzival tells us explicitly that he could neither read nor write. His poems were written down from dictation, his knowledge was varied rather than accurate. He knew French, but only imperfectly. Wolfram is best known today for his Parzival, sometimes regarded as the greatest of all German epics from that time. Based on Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, le Conte du Graal, it is the first extant work in German to have as its subject the Holy Grail. In the poem, Wolfram's narrator expresses disdain for Chrétien's version of the tale, states that his source was a poet from Provence called Kyot. Wolfram is the author of two other narrative works: the fragmentary Titurel and the unfinished Willehalm; these were both composed after Parzival, Titurel mentions the death of Hermann I, which dates it after 1217.
Titurel consists of two fragments, which tell the story of Sigune. The first fragment deals with the birth of love between the main characters; the second fragment is quite different. Schionatulander and Sigune are alone in a forest, when their peace is disturbed by a mysterious dog, whose leash contains a story written in rubies. Siguna is eager to read the story. Schionatulander sets off to find him, but, as we know from Parzival, he dies in the attempt. Willehalm, an unfinished poem based on the Old French chanson de geste Aliscans, was a significant work, has been preserved in 78 manuscripts, it is set against the backdrop of the religious wars between the Saracens. The eponymous hero Willehalm kidnaps a Saracen princess, converts her to Christianity and marries her; the Saracen king raises an army to rescue his daughter. The poem has many of the distinguishing features of medieval literature: the victory of the Christians over a much larger Saracen army, the touching death of the young knight Vivian, Willehalm's nephew and the works mirror of chivalric courage and spiritual purity.
Wolfram's nine surviving songs, five of which are dawn-songs, are regarded as masterpieces of Minnesang. Dawn-songs recount the story of a knight who spends the night with his beloved lady, but at dawn has to slip away unnoticed. It's the lady who wakes the knight up in the morning, but sometimes this mission is made by the watchman. No melodies survived; the 84 surviving manuscripts of Parzival, both complete and fragmentary, indicate the immense popularity of Wolfram's major work in the following two centuries. Willehalm, with 78 manuscripts, comes not far behind. Many of these include a continuation written in the 1240s by Ulrich von Türheim under the title Rennewart; the unfinished Titurel was taken up and expanded around 1272 by a poet named Albrecht, presumed to be Albrecht von Scharfenberg and who adopts the narrative persona of Wolfram. This work is referred to as the Jüngere Titurel; the modern rediscovery of Wolfram begins with the publication of a translation of Parzival in 1753 by the Swiss scholar Johann Jakob Bodmer.
Parzival was the main source Richard Wagner used when writing the libretto to Parsifal. Wolfram himself appears as a character in Tannhäuser. In Hugo Pratt's comic book The Secret Rose, Corto Maltese speaks to a mural painting of Wolfram. In this book Corto is searching for the Holy Grail. Works by or about Wolfram von Eschenbach at Internet Archive Wolfram von Eschenbach in the Literary Encyclopedia Works List of Parzival manuscripts List of Willhalm manuscripts Two of Wolfram's songs El Grial, including songs by Wolfram von Eschenbach performed by Capella de Ministrers & Carlos Magraner
Perceval, the Story of the Grail
Perceval, the Story of the Grail is the unfinished fifth romance of Chrétien de Troyes, who lived from around 1130 to the early 1190s, is dedicated to Chrétien's patron Philip I, Count of Flanders. It was written in Old French during the 1180s or 1190s and left unfinished because of the death of either Philip in 1191, while crusading at Acre, or Chrétien himself. Chrétien claimed to be working from a source given to him by Philip; the poem relates the adventures and growing pains of the young knight Perceval, but the story breaks off. There follows an adventure of Gawain of similar length that remains incomplete. There are some 9,000 lines in total, whereas Chrétien's other romances exceed 7,000 lines. Authors added 54,000 more lines in what are known collectively as the Four Continuations. Perceval is the earliest recorded account of what was to become the Quest for the Holy Grail but describes only a golden grail in the central scene, does not call it "holy," and treats a lance, appearing at the same time, as significant.
The poem opens with Perceval, whose mother has raised him apart from civilization in the forests of Wales. While out riding one day, he encounters a group of knights and realizes he wants to be one. Despite his mother's objections, the boy heads to King Arthur's court, where a young girl predicts greatness for him. Sir Kay taunts him and slaps the girl, but Perceval amazes everyone by killing a knight, troubling King Arthur and taking his vermilion armor, he sets out for adventure. He trains under the experienced Gornemant falls in love with and rescues Gornemant's niece Blanchefleur. Perceval captures her assailants and sends them to King Arthur's court to proclaim Perceval's vow of revenge on Sir Kay. Perceval remembers that his mother fainted when he went off to become a knight, goes to visit her. During his journey, he comes across the Fisher King fishing in a boat on a river, who invites him to stay at his castle. While there, Perceval witnesses a strange procession in which young men and women carry magnificent objects from one chamber to another.
First comes a young man carrying a bleeding lance two boys carrying candelabra. A beautiful young girl emerges bearing an elaborately decorated graal, or grail, passing before him at each course of the meal. Perceval, trained by his guardian Gornemant not to talk too much, remains silent through all of this, he resumes his journey home. He encounters a girl in mourning, who admonishes him for not asking about the grail, as that would have healed the wounded king, he learns that his mother has died. Perceval captures another knight and sends him to King Arthur's court with the same message as before. King Arthur sets out to find Perceval and, upon finding him, attempts to convince him to join the court. Perceval unknowingly challenges Sir Kay to a fight, in which he breaks Sir Kay's arm and exacts his revenge. Perceval agrees to join the court, but soon after a loathly lady enters and admonishes Perceval once again for failing to ask the Fisher King whom the grail served. No more is heard of Perceval except in a short passage, in which a hermit explains that the grail contains a single mass-wafer that miraculously sustains the Fisher King’s wounded father.
The loathly lady announces other quests that the Knights of the Round Table proceed to take up and the remainder of the poem deals with Arthur's nephew and best knight Gawain, challenged to a duel by a knight who claims Gawain had slain his lord. Gawain offers a contrast and complement to Perceval's naiveté as a courtly knight having to function in un-courtly settings. An important episode is Gawain's liberation of a castle whose inhabitants include his long-lost mother and grandmother as well as his sister Clarissant, whose existence was unknown to him; this tale breaks off unfinished. Over the following 50 years four different poets took up the challenge left by Chrétien and continued the adventures of Perceval and Gawain; the First Continuation added 9,500 to 19,600 lines to the romance. It was once attributed to Wauchier de Denain, is still sometimes called the Pseudo-Wauchier Continuation for that reason, it exists in a short, a mixed, a long version. Roger Sherman Loomis believed that the short version, added to an existing Perceval manuscript ten or twenty years represents a version of the story, independent of Chrétien's.
The First Continuation picks up the narrative of Gawain's adventures where Chrétien left off: his mother and grandmother are reunited with Arthur and Gawain's sister Clarissant marries Guiromelant. In the long version, Gawain opposes the marriage and rides off in anger. After further adventures he helps him besiege a rebel's castle; the First Continuation is notable for its cavalier approach to the narrative agenda set by Chrétien. In particular it includes a independent romance, which in the long version spans over 6000 lines: The Livre de Caradoc, starring Arthur's knight Caradoc, explains how the hero got his nickname "Briefbras", or "Short Arm". All versions of the First Continuation describe Gawain's visit to a Grail castle quite unlike Chrétien's, a vividly imagined scene that introduces the motif of a broken sword that can only be mended by the hero destined to heal the Fisher King and his lands. Gawain is not this hero and he fails; the final episode recounts the misadventures of Gawain's brother Guer
Parzival is a medieval romance written by the knight-poet Wolfram von Eschenbach in Middle High German. The poem dated to the first quarter of the 13th century, centers on the Arthurian hero Parzival and his long quest for the Holy Grail following his initial failure to achieve it. Parzival begins with the knightly adventures of Parzival's father, his marriage to Herzeloyde, the birth of Parzival; the story continues as Parzival meets three elegant knights, decides to seek King Arthur, continues a spiritual and physical search for the Grail. A long section is devoted to Parzival's friend Gawan and his adventures defending himself from a false murder charge and winning the hand of the maiden Orgeluse. Among the most striking elements of the work are its emphasis on the importance of humility, compassion and the quest for spirituality. A major theme in Parzival is love: heroic acts of chivalry are inspired by true love, fulfilled in marriage; the romance was the most popular vernacular verse narrative in medieval Germany, continues to be read and translated into modern languages around the world.
Wolfram began a prequel, continued by another writer, while two full romances were written adapting Wolfram's story of Loherangrin. Richard Wagner based his famous opera Parsifal, finished on Parzival. Parzival is divided into sixteen books, each composed of several thirty-line stanzas of rhyming couplets; the stanza lengths fit onto a manuscript page. For the subject matter Wolfram von Eschenbach adapted the Grail romance, the Story of the Grail, left incomplete by Chrétien de Troyes. Wolfram claimed that a certain Kyot the Provençal supplied additional material drawn from Arabic and Angevin sources but most scholars now consider Kyot to be Wolfram's invention and part of the fictional narrative. Book I opens with the death of Parzival's grandfather, his oldest son, receives the kingdom but offers his brother Gahmuret the land of Anjou in fief. However, Gahmuret departs to gain renown, he travels to the African kingdom of Zazamanc. Gahmuret offers his services to the city, his offer is accepted by Queen Belacane.
He conquers the invaders, marries Queen Belacane, becomes king of Zazamanc and Azagouc. Growing bored with peace, Gahmuret steals away on a ship. Belacane gives birth to a son, Feirefiz. In Book II, Gahmuret returns to the West, where he marries Queen Herzeloyde. Restless, however, he soon returns to fight for the Baruch in the Far East, where he is killed by a treacherous acquaintance. Book III tells of how the pregnant Herzeloyde, grief-stricken at her husband's death, retires to a secluded forest dwelling and vows to protect her new child, from the ways of knighthood at all costs by raising him ignorant of chivalry and the ways of men, his seclusion is shattered by three knights passing. Enamored, he decides to go join Arthur's court, his mother is heartbroken at the news of his decision but allows him to depart, dressing him in fool's garments in the hopes that the knights will refuse to take him in. Soon after his departure she dies, utterly bereft; the first part of the journey takes place in the world of King Arthur, where the colourful and strange appearance of Parzival awakens the interest of the court.
After becoming entangled in courtly intrigue between Duke Orilus and his wife Jeschute he meets his cousin Sigune who reveals to him his true name. Parzival fights and kills Ither, the red knight of Kukumerlant. Putting on the red knight's armor he rides away from the court and meets Gurnemanz, from whom he learns the duties of a knight self-control and moderation. Gurnemanz advises him to avoid impudent curiosity. In Book IV, Parzival falls in love with Queen Condwiramurs, she has inherited her father's realm, but lost much of it to an enemy king who has besieged her town. Parzival uses, they marry but he leaves soon afterwards to seek news of his mother. In Book V, he arrives at the castle of the Grail, he does not ask his host, about his mysterious wound, however, or about the magical objects paraded before him, remembering Gurnemanz's advice to be not too curious. The next morning Parzival finds himself alone in a deserted castle, leading him to speculate that his experiences of the previous night were an illusion conjured by malevolent spirits to snare him.
Parzival returns to the world of Arthur and again meets Sigune, who tells him of how he should have asked the lord of the castle a question, but does not specify. She vows to never speak to him again, he meets Jeschute again, unwittingly humiliated by him the last time, defeats Orilus in single combat. Parzival renews the marriage of Jeschute and Orilus. Parzival returns in Book VI as a perfect potential member of the Round Table to King Arthur, but during a festive meal, messenger of the Grail, curses Parzival in the name of the grail and claims that Parzival had lost his honour. Parzival leaves the court though he is not able to understand his guilt. Gawan takes over as the central figure of Books VII to VIII as he tries to clear his name of a false charge of murder. In Book IX, we learn that Parzival suffers from his alienation from God. After nearly five years of wandering and fighting, from combat he gains a new horse, owned by a Grail knight, this horse leads him