Functions of Chess in Mediavel French Literature
”Although kings and counts frequently amuse themselves with chess, few know what it represents.’ These lines, from a thirteenth-century French moralisation of the game of chess, demonstrate how a game that is still popular today was seen in the medieval period: it was both a pleasant distraction and, more broadly, a microcosm of society. Chess is equally a key element in several works of literature, as part of the diagesis of Huon de Bordeaux and as an element for allegory in the Roman de la Rose.
Chess offers an excellent example how rule and recreation interacted: as the original ‘game of kings’, it reveals how the élite of medieval French society learned, worked and played. In the texts where it appears, a game of chess can be a window onto society, a pleasant distraction, or even a test where the penalty for failure is death.” Read more HERE
Edward Mills’ conference presentation at the University of Bristol’s 2015 Medieval Postgraduate Conference, “Rule and Recreation”, on the topic of the functions of the game of chess in medieval French literary culture.