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French folklore

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French folklore

French folklore encompasses the fables, folklore and fairy tales and legends of the Gauls, Franks, Normans, Bretons, Occitans, and other peoples living in France.

Folklore from the Middle Ages

Occitan literature - were songs, poetry and literature in Occitan in what is nowadays the South of France that originated in the poetry of the 11th and 12th centuries, and inspired vernacular literature throughout medieval Europe. These early recorded songs, poetry and their highest development in the 12th century and includes the well known Songs of the Troubadours:

Main article: Occitan literature

Songs of the Troubadours

  • Songs of the Troubadour - The songs, poetry and narratives of the troubadours, who were composers and performers during the High Middle Ages, flourished during the 11th century and spread throughout Europe from Southern France. Their songs dealt mainly with themes of chivalry and courtly love. Several established categories of poetry and song were:
    • Canto or canto were songs concerning courtly love.
    • Sirventes songs covered war, politics, morality, satire, humor,and topics outside of love.
    • Tenso and Partiment is a dialog or debate between poets
    • Planh is a lament on a death.
    • Pastorela is a song trying to win the affections and love of a shepherdess.
    • Alba is complaint of lovers upon parting.

Songs of the Trouvère

Songs of the Trouvère are songs and poetry that stemmed from poet-composers who were roughly contemporary with and influenced by the troubadours but who composed their works in the northern dialects of France.

Main article: Trouvère

Epic Narratives

A second form of legend in France during the Middle Ages was epic poetry, partly historical and partly legend with themes covering the formation of France, war, kingship, and important battles. This genre was known as chansons de geste which is Old French for "songs of heroic deeds." It is also called the epics of the "Matter of France":

Matter of France

Animal fables, mock epics

Another folkloric medium in the Middle Ages were fables, mock epics and animal folk tales, notably:

Satirical tales by Rabelais

François Rabelais, 1494–1553, wrote:

Fairy tales

French fairy tales are particularly known by their literary rather than their folk, oral variants. Perrault derived almost all his tales from folk sources, but rewrote them for the upper-class audience, removing rustic elements. The précieuses rewrote them even more extensively for their own interests.[1] Collection of folk tales as such only began about 1860, but was fruitful for the next decades.[2]

Fairy tales by Perrault

Charles Perrault (1628–1703) collected tales:

Fairy tales by d'Aulnoy

Marie Catherine d'Aulnoy, 1650/1–1705, collected tales:

Fairy tales by Souvestre

Émile Souvestre (1806–1854) collected tales:

Other Fairy Tales

Legends of People

Legendary Creatures

Other Folklore

See also


  • Bonner, Anthony, ed. Songs of the Troubadours. New York: Schocken Books, 1972.
  • by Lewis Spence 1917el:Γαλλική μυθολογία

fr:Folklore français

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