We know much less about the exploits of the knights than we could

(ORDO NEWS) — British scientists claim that most of the stories about chivalrous exploits have been lost. They counted how many medieval manuscripts and stories in Europe have not survived to this day.

As it turned out, 81% of Irish and 39% of English novels and adventure stories are lost. As for the surviving manuscripts – that is, statements of real events, including those containing records of the exploits of knights, only 19% of Irish and 7% of English have survived to this day. The researchers associated such a big difference with different literary traditions of the countries.

To carry out the work, scientists turned to special statistical models – the so-called “models of invisible species.” They are used in ecology to assess the extinction and conservation of different animal species.

“Using statistical methods borrowed from ecology, we were able to complement previous studies. According to our estimates, more than 90% of medieval manuscripts containing chivalric and heroic narratives have been lost.

This roughly corresponds to the scale of losses that book historians have estimated using different approaches. Moreover, we were able to calculate that about 32% of medieval knightly and heroic works were also lost over the centuries,” said Katarzyna Anna Kapitan from Linacre College (UK).

Scientists have found that the level of “survival” of medieval works is very different depending on the language. That is why there are far more medieval Irish novels and adventure stories than English ones.

Ireland also distinguished itself in terms of the preservation of manuscripts, although in general they are much less preserved everywhere than artistic stories.

The reason for this, according to scientists, may be the limited spread of the English language in the cultural life of that time. The fact is that after the Norman conquest of England in the middle of the 11th century, French became the main language of culture in the country.


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