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A Brief History of the Medieval English Ballad

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A medieval English ballad is a form of poetry that tells a story. These stories usually deal with love, loss, and violence. They often feature characters who are struggling in some way and need to find their way out.

And that’s precisely why they have been around for so long—they touch something deep inside us all. In this blog post, we will explore the history of the medieval English ballad and its popularity among listeners today.

The Ballad in its Original Form

The ballad form of English poetry is a distinctly medieval form, first appearing in the 12th century. Ballads were often written as romances, stories of love, and adventure that were sung to provide entertainment for listeners. They tended to be short, consisting of a few verses with a rhyme scheme and melody usually based on the AABBBCCD format.

One of the most famous medieval ballads is “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” It is about a valiant knight named Gawain who challenges a primeval green knight to about in which the loser must forfeit his armor and leave the kingdom.

Gawain easily defeats the knight but decides to take pity on him and gives him back his armor. The ballad has been widely anthologized and remains one of the most popular examples of medieval English poetry.

The Influence of the Ballad on Later English Literature

Ballads typically consisted of a narrative, often involving love and violence, with catchy musical accompaniment.

Many ballads continued to be sung and retold throughout the Renaissance and into the Early Modern period, though they had largely ceased to be popular by the 18th century.

The influence of the medieval ballad on later English literature is evident in works such as William Shakespeare’s plays, Ben Jonson’s comedies, and Samuel Johnson’s essays.

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A medieval English ballad is a popular form of poetry that has its origins in the Middle Ages. Ballads were originally sung unaccompanied and often served as entertainment for large gatherings, such as weddings or court festivals.

They are typically composed in rhymed couplets and tell stories with a moral lesson. Although their popularity has waned in recent years, ballads remain an important part of English culture and can be found in many anthologies and collections of poetry.

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