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The High Middle Ages

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From this point of view, the names of the individual authors seemed much less important, and therefore many important works were never attributed to any specific person. Theological works were the dominant form of literature typically found in libraries during the Middle Ages. Catholic clerics were the intellectual center of society in the Middle Ages, and it is their literature that was produced in the greatest quantity. Countless hymns survive from this time period (both liturgical and paraliturgical). The liturgy itself was not in fixed form, and numerous competing missals set out individual conceptions of the order of the mass.

Religious scholars such as Anselm of Canterbury, Thomas Aquinas, and Pierre Abelard wrote lengthy theological and philosophical treatises, often attempting to reconcile the teachings of the Greek and Roman pagan authors with the doctrines of the Church. Hagiographies, or "lives of the saints", were also frequently written, as an encouragement to the devout and a warning to others. The Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine reached such popularity that, in its time, it was reportedly read more often than the Bible.

Francis of Assisi was a prolific poet, and his Franciscan followers frequently wrote poetry themselves as an expression of their piety. Dies Irae and Stabat Mater are two of the most powerful Latin poems on religious subjects. Goliardic poetry (four-line stanzas of satiric verse) was an art form used by some clerics to express dissent. The only widespread religious writing that was not produced by clerics were the mystery plays: growing out of simple tableaux re-enactments of a single Biblical scene, each mystery play became its villages expression of the key events in the Bible.

The text of these plays was often controlled by local guilds, and mystery plays would be performed regularly on set feast-days, often lasting all day long and into the night. Secular literature in this period was not produced in equal quantity as Religious literature, but much has survived and we possess today a rich corpus. The subject of "courtly love" became important in the 11th century, especially in the Romance languages (in the French, Spanish, Provenзal, Galician and Catalan languages, most notably) and Greek, where the traveling singers—troubadors—made a living from their songs.

The writings of the troubadors are often associated with unrequited longing, but this is not entirely accurate (see aubade, for instance). In Germany, the Minnesдnger continued the tradition of the troubadors.

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