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Abstract to "The Castilian Cancioneros as a Reflection of Society":
This project focuses on poetry of the Late Middle Ages, specifically the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. At the centre of attention are two of its main tendencies: love-poetry and the socio-critical lyric of the courts on the Iberian Peninsula. The poetry of this time was compiled in collections containing various authors. Accordingly, two of the most complete compilations will be analysed in detail: the Cancionero de Baena, which is the first known Castilian songbook, and the Cancionero General, which marks the endpoint of the songbook-compilation tradition in Spain. These two cancioneros will be put into a wider frame in order to introduce a comparative perspective. With a closer look at the creation of poetry in the Galician-Portuguese kingdom in the early fourteenth century and in Southern France, it is the aim of this thesis to analyse the connections between Iberian poetry and the lyric composed in Galicia and France. In particular, this project will emphasise the changes in motifs and how these changes can be related to the current socio-political conditions.
I begin by outlining the historical and literary background of the epoch in which thecancioneros were created in order to highlight the interdepenencies between lyrical texts and their contexts. Despite a significant number of studies that examine the single motifs or individual authors in the cancionero poetry, little research has been done on the development of the different motifs within the cancioneros, or how these are related to social progress in the Late Middle Ages. After locating the cancioneros within the tradition of songbook-writing in Castille, I will give a detailed description of the Cancionero de Baena and the Cancionero Gernal, focusing on themes such as authorship, transmission, structure and modern editions of the manuscripts. The followign chapters will concentrate on sources of Castilian poetry, namely the Galician-Portuguese lyric and the Troubadour-poetry of Southern France. The analysis of single motifs will then form the main chapter of the thesis.
By taking all these aspects into consideration, the concluding chapter will focus on the connections between the changes in social structure and the connotations of certain motifs, thereby contributing to a better understanding of the function of poetry in the Late Middle Ages.