Medieval Fabliau in English Literature

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The Medieval Fabliau originated in Northern France in 12th and 13th century, but are rare in England before 1400. Thus, this verse form of literature started in England during 14th century.

Medieval Fabliau in English Literature

The Fabliau was a short comic or satiric tale in verse dealing realistically with middle class or lower class characters delighting in the rebald; its favourite theme is the cuckoholding of a stupid husband. 

Professor Douglas Burk neatly characterized the type as "A short story broader than it is long". 

The Fabliau is associated with the new middle classes who slowly grew in importance as the feudal system developed only to decay.
If Romances begins in France as the entertainment of a feudal aristocracy, Fabliau is the product of the class which was eventually to destroy feudalism.

The Fabliau represents the first real challenge in European literature to the notion of heroic idealism and that challenge can be traced in its influential course from Cervantes to Evelyn Waugh.

Types of Fabliau

Fabliau has got many types; some are indecent stories of town life whose only point is their indenscency; others are humorous, satiric tales of intrigue, others again, like "The Romans De Rehart Cycle" , are animal stories, also generally humorous and satiric in tale. Some are made into awful warnings or otherwise turned into "exampla". Geoffrey Chaucer's " The Miller's tale" and "The Reeve's Tale" are a fine example of Fabliau in English literature.

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