(Q) Perceptions of Cities

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Perceptions of CitiesIntroductionSince the early centuries, writers of different genres have used a number of methods to write about events, sites, and ways of life as per the lifestyles during their time. Comparing the ancient writings and the modern writings, a striking difference in the style of writing and the lifestyle is different. However, there are traces of history that have been transferred over the years through different generation to the current generation. An exle of the cities as they were identified in the twelfth century present a piece of history to look into the lifestyle of the time . The governance system, the building structures, education levels, the activities that the people in that century regarded highly and the social classes present unique characteristics that define the 12th century. Referring to the books of Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France, this paper reflects on the several references to the cities in England and France during the twelfth century.HistoriographyThe 12th century is depicted in many ways by the Lais of Marie de France and the romances of Chrétien de Troyes. In the everyday lives of the people in that time, both Marie de France and Chrétien de Troyes represents a set of lifestyles that are uniquely associated with France and England, cities they spent some time visiting. Historians of the time like Geoffrey of Monmouth present a similar perspective to the Lais and romances as written earlier. The different perspectives of historians develop a single outlook of the 12th century lifestyle and the architecture and infrastructure at the time. The different conceptions of the cities present civilization/ nature dualism, which translate to social injustice experienced from time to time, neglect of the urban spaces, and the lack of fulfillment for urban residents and those of favor to the urban life. Despite the fact that, different scholars write at different times of the period, there accounts of the cities and the developments at that time seem to agree. Over time, different analysts and historians have brought to light the different perspectives that poets and literature writers of the 12th century put to use in their materials.Both Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France came to fame at the same period in the 12th century with the different writings that they wrote. Chrétien de Troyes is famous for his romantic poems that are centered in the 12th century. Born around 1135, Chrétien is considered the founder of the Arthurian literature in French Old and among the first authors of the romances of chivalry. Chrétien’s poems Erec and Enide, Cliges, Lancelot or the Knight of the Cart, Yvain or the Knight of the Lion, and Perceval or the tales of the Grail have had tremendous effects to his work as a poet. The romantics of Chrétien display a demonstration in using poems to represent figuratively aspects. Thus, romances are used to demonstrate the changes that are inevitable at a time and the different aspects of the way of life that people live at a given time. The romances show the way through, which the urban environment as a natural place prone to changes that are both in control and out of the control of human forces. Chrétien symbolic representation of different aspects of the lifestyle in the 12th century is critiqued and at the same time supported by different historians . Although, not all the depictions from his writings can be proved right, they represent imagery through what he perceived the developments and changes during that time.Marie de France is famous for the Lias, a collection of twelve short narratives, which were written in the 12th century. The writings of the Lias are considered done in England though, with a French background, Marie de France presents a reflection of the different cities from a personal perception. Writing in the 12th century, Marie uses figurative approaches to represent the different aspects that the cities of England and France portrayed during that time and the culture of the people. Marie’s facts about life are not provided but in the writings, she mentions herself. Marie’s writings fall in the period 1160-1199 a depiction of her ability to read and write. Thus, she is among the women of the 12th century to have had the privilege of attending school. Marie’s uses her work to portray her intelligence, sly subversion of the courtly values within a form specifically intended for a courtly audience. Marie further displays her talent to express the universal values within the framework of an even-then ancient genre. The Lias draw the attention to the themes and techniques that are of a poetic nature tradition and with contemporary author’s perception.The accounts of Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France present a number of themes in their perception of the daily lives of people during the 12th century. They aIDress the societies, the living standards, and the work they part in, their beliefs in religion and culture, the education levels, architectural designs and the inventions that marked the time. Each of these accounts written in different genres, their analysis presents a wider scope of the cities that they spent time writing their works. Focusing on two cities, England and France Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France present a comparison and similarity in the developments in both the cities as they embraced the changes during their time. They further provide a look into the leadership system and the city structures that mark the 12th century as compared to the contemporary systems.In the societal context that is presented by Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France, the 12th century society is likened to a pyramid with the hierarchy of leadership from the peak to the base. The accounts provide a system of leadership and representation that categorizes different leadership systems as per the system of governance at the time. At the top was the king who had barons who also acted as tenant-in-chief. The barons were provided with land by the king who in turn expected them to provide him with soldiers who were to fight for him. It is the barons who were given the authority to give the knights land who also aided the king in the wars. At the bottom of the pyramid were the peasants who mostly were under the leadership of lords. Their presence in their lands was in the care of the lords and if they were to leave, they had to acquire permission from the lords. They provided the lords with labor and support in the different tasks that he had.The society in the 12th century also presents unique architectural and building designs for their homesteads and the cities. The 12th century presented a number of differences in the architectural design and art that donned the different structures around the cities. Described as the great age of civilization, the 12 century presented in itself a revolution in the city structures and art that is uniquely reflected in the written materials in that age and time. The years from 1100, Kenneth Clark writes, monumental abbeys and cathedrals were constructed and decorated with sculptures, hangings, mosaics and works portraying one of the great epochs of art and providing a stark contrast to the monotonous and cred conditions of ordinary living in that time. The major structures that are common during the 12th century are the churches. Both in England and France, the architecture of the churches are depicted by Marie de France and Chrétien de Troyes in their writings. The change in the architectural designs from Romanesque to Gothic is associated with the time as advancements are made in technology and skills in building of the structures at that time. During the period of 1180-1275, gothic structures developed in a Christian perspective was used in the building of the many churches around France and England. The 12th century is also characterized by a change in the construction of the residential houses in both the interiors and the exteriors.With the improvement of the structures and buildings, the 12th century society developed a liking towards literature materials. The upcoming of the famous writings by the elites gave an expanded market for the spread of the fame and support of the literature materials. In the same time, poetry came to fame with most of the people taking interest in knowing more about what it takes t write them. The famous writer of the time associated with poems is Chrétien de Troyes. Through him, a number of perspectives about the city of France are written. The 12th century saw the transition of architecture from the Romanesque to Gothic with many structures set up in cities. A number of these great structured castles still exist in the present generation to illustrate the great works that were set in the building and structuring of the castles. The changes in the cultural and practice of the people in these cities brought a change in the lifestyles at the time from peasant farmers to large-scale traders. The change of the people to finding interest in the poems and romances common at the time suggests a change to literature work and the beginning of elite classes.The schools and universities increased in the 12th century with the elites seeking knowledge in every avenue they could access. Students showed eager concern to gain more knowledge than what they acquired from the school system they attended. The Latin classics became accessible and with it came the Roman laws. The school systems started from the Cathedral schools, which initially had dismal numbers of students. Cathedral schools in Paris and Bologna, however, are more noticeable and acquire a high influence in the revolution of the learning system. However, with the increased numbers of people moving to the urban cities, the numbers began to increase. Later on, universities, which were under associations for the students sprang up. Since the education system was not much developed, the universities preferred to teach all the subjects in one organization with a common language for the students understanding. The students in the University of Paris, however, were taught in Latin. Despite the revolution in the educational and religion systems, Classical traditions are preserved in the different regions during the period. When combined into the Christian context, the traditions and their roles in the different regions flourish with a mixed conception of both Christianity and tradition having the same impacts. In the education system, grammar, rhetoric, and dialect frequently applied in the education system. The art in music and astronomy also take more ground in forming the specializations that are taught in the universities and other educational institutions. Religion also took a turn during the 12th century with the improved architectural designs that were a great help in the building of the cathedrals. Symbolism was initiated into the religion with animals used as representations of the different beliefs. Peacocks, apes, phoenix, turtledove, and dragons were the common symbols associated with the different regions that had administrative functions.AIDitionally, in the education systems more avenues and knowledge were sought in a bid to increase the literacy of the people. In the literature, the 12th century saw the increased developments in gaining more knowledge in arithmetic and geometry among many scholars. The urban life and the shift in liking towards literature is a great effect toward the revolutions in the learning and literacy concepts in the learning institutions. However, people who sought to gain education were the few who had the resources to provide. Those unable to obtain an education in the training institutions remained as farmers and peasants in the different rural regions. Those who emerged bright in the education system were sent into the clergy and followed to be preachers, monks, or become a teacher. The elites who had the privilege of better incomes could assign a tutor to provide their children with private studies in the comfort of their houses. Ladies just like men received an equal education privilege if their parent could afford to send them to school. Ladies who continued with their education at the time when their male counterparts left education to go become knights ended up gaining a high level of literacy.The improved conditions in the cities, better jobs, education, and living standards were a contributing factor to the movement of people to the cities in search of better conditions compared to the rural areas. The 12th century is also known as a great industrialization time with the influx of people moving to the large cities. The beginning of the industrial period is attributed as the great reason behind the movements of people. AIDitionally, the infrastructures that the different cities had developed saw the movement and development of ports and harbors that were played a great part in the transportation and movement of traders. The increased number of crusades was an advantage toward the increased trade that was common in the time. Long distance traders who docked the ports with goods from far off lands had the opportunity to obtain goods from foreign lands and at the same time carry back with them ideologies. The spread of the different architectural designs from the city to city had an influence on the designs and infrastructural constructions in other neighboring cities. The movement of people into the large cities left the peasant farmers with few people to attend. Elites had the privilege of acquiring large tracts of land in the different areas with the intentions of securing strong regional bases. The cities becoming a centre for the people interested to find social, economic and political opportunities saw the ever-increasing movements and population numbers in the cities. The education system opened ways for the improvement in the political knowledge of the people and, as a result, economic classes that classified the people developed.While moving to the cities, vast lands were left behind unattended. The barons amassed much land and gave some to the knights as per the directive of their governance system. Most of the land owners were elites and knights who were came to the picture with the monarchs established and the institutionalization of kings as the rulers. The knights given large tracts of lands, built castles in the areas they lived. Chrétien de Troyes wrote poems depicting the bravery of the knights and their fighting skills that played a major role in the security and protection of the countries. Knights are made famous to the literal world by the romances written by Chrétien de Troyes. Chrétien’s reputation that was made towards the knights gave them an opportunity to cross boundaries and obtain rights in other far countries like Germany, Italy, and Scandinavian countries.The governance system, which expressed the hierarchy system of governance, was organized into monarchies. The king as the ultimate ruler appointed barons who ensured that the king had a supply of army men. Then there were the knights who also served in the king’s army at given times. The 12th century is also characterized by the rise of feudal monarchies with France’s feudalism subordinated with the powers of the King, while, in England, feudalism synthesized. Despite the fact that England becomes united, it is not under the authority of kings. However, in the period 1216-1272, under the rule of Henry III, England establishes a parliamentary system with the intent of raising money, establishing permanent limits of monarchy and establishing the House of Commons. The governance system still portrayed a gap between the different social classes with the poor and the rich living in different conditions. As the poor continued to suffer at the hands of the rich, they were to provide labor and supplies like food and taxes to the rich. Social injustices were rant with the poor who had no position in the governance system being harassed at the hands of the rich people.The differences in the social classes provided an opportunity for the development of the medical services among the people to provide them with avenues to meet the different tragedies that faced the societies. Advancements in the education sector are also part of the advancements in the medical practice with the scholars having the opportunity to pursue further knowledge of the study in even different countries. Advancements gave way for the use of the medications in treating the sick and unwell. Though the practices were still ancient and less developed, the different societies had their own ways of aIDressing the illness such as use of scented baths and the hospitals for the rich members of the society. Different historians present a further look at the themes that Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France present in their works. Most of them agree with Chrétien and Marie’s representation of the ancient times but with a critical point of view to determine the credibility of the facts represented.
A number of events and themes in the accounts written by Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France reflect on the historical facts that characterize the 12th century. Their use of literature aIDresses a wide range of themes that depict the history of their time and the ages that follow. The improvements, changes, setbacks, and encounters that the 12th century and the other centuries experienced are a revolution towards the contemporary world. The advances in the writing skills have shown a great change into the current writing skills that are widely used. Though the past generations materials have been abandoned, they still present a reference to the original writing styles and as historical artifacts. The ancient developments in the technology, medication, education, and architectural designs have had a great impact to the developments in the contemporary world systems. Their changes have led to the great inventions that have saved on many aspects. Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France woks present a sle of the many works that still present to the modern world a reflection of the past generations. The different analysis’s and historians present a further in-depth look at the history at different perspectives. Their analysis of the major facts and written materials of people in the different periods present a different outlook at the themes that the writers present.
BibliographyFarina, William. “Chretien de Troyes and the Dawn of Arthurian Romance.” In Chretien de Troyes and the Dawn of Arthurian Romance, by William Farina, 87-94. North Carolina: McFarland #038; Company Incorporated Pub, 2010.Kinoshita, Sharon, and Peggy McCracken. “Marie de France: A Critical Companion.” In Marie de France: A Critical Companion, by Sharon Kinoshita and Peggy McCracken, 1-16. New York: Boydell #038; Brewer Ltd., 2012.McCash, June Hall, and Judith Clark Barban. “The Life of Saint Audrey: A Text by Marie de France.” In The Life of Saint Audrey: A Text by Marie de France, by June Hall McCash and Judith Clark Barban, 31-33. North Carolina: McFarland #038; Company, Inc. Publishers, 2006.Norris J. Lacy, Joan Tasker Grimbert. “A Companion to Chrétien de Troyes.”Stahuljak, Zrinka, Virginie Greene, Sarah Kay, Sharon Kinoshita, and Peggy McCracken. “Thinking Through Chrétien de Troyes.” In Thinking Through Chrétien de Troyes, by Zrinka Stahuljak, Virginie Greene, Sarah Kay, Sharon Kinoshita and Peggy McCracken, 1-10. France: French Forum Publishers , 2011.Troyes, Chretien de. “Arthurian Romances.” In Arthurian Romances, by Chretien de Troyes, 1-12. Maryland: Wildside Press, 2008.Whalen, Logan E. “The Prologues and Epilogues.” In Marie de France and the Poetics of Memory, by Logan E. Whalen, 35-37. Michigan: Catholic Unibersity of America Press, 2008.Whalen, Logan. “Marie de France and the Learned Tradition.” In A Companion to Marie de France, by Logan Whalen, 31-54. Netherlands: IDC Publishers , 2011.

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