Medievalism is the academic term given to the characteristics of the Middle Ages, or devotion to the style of the Middle Ages. Medievalism has been expressed in a variety of genres, including architecture, literature, music and popular culture.
Examples of Medievalism are:
- Modern warfare video games such as Game of Thrones
- Literary works such as the Gothic novel Frankenstein and more recent works such as Umberto Eco's popular fantasy fiction
- Works of Art such as Lamia by John William Waterhouse
- Television shows such as Wizards and Warriors or even the Smurfs
Medievalism and the Dark Ages
It was the Italian writer Petrarch who first coined the term “Dark Ages” to refer to the period of time following the fall of the Roman Empire. This recognition began the process of Renaissance, a self-described new age of learning. By the time of the Romantics in the early 19th century, the “Middle Ages” were seen as a stylistic period, characterized by chivalry. The Romantics sought to reinvent chivalry, and is represented by such epic writing as Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.
At the same time, architects were rediscovering medievalism in their designs, giving rise to the school known as Gothic Revival. These buildings, such as the Palace of Westminster in London began incorporating high, pointed spires. This further influenced culture, giving rise to the Gothic literary genre, invented by Mary Shelley, whose novel Frankenstein was heavily influential on American writers such as Hawthorne and Poe.
Modern medievalism covers not only academic research into the time period, but can be seen in the stylistic films of fantasy worlds, such as Game of Thrones, with its emphasis on knights and kings.