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Literature and Writing

Dutch Literature

Heinrich von Veldeke, didactic poetry, Eneit, Roman poet Virgil, French words

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Dutch Literature, literature written in the Dutch language. In the late 12th century the oldest known forms of Dutch poetry came into being. The earliest surviving example is the Eneit (Aeneid), an epic poem by Heinrich von Veldeke about the romance between Dido and Aeneas. The work was based on a French version of the Aeneid, a masterpiece originally written in Latin by Roman poet Virgil. Veldeke, the first poet of the Lowlands known by name, also wrote a life of Saint Servatius based on a Latin source and various love songs.

A significant literature began to appear after 1250 with the work of Jacob van Maerlant. Called the father of Dutch literature, he wrote didactic poetry, romances of chivalry, and treatises on history and government. The new literature declined during the Burgundian domination of The Netherlands (1363-1477), when French words and literary forms became assimilated into Dutch.

During the first half of the 16th century the work of Dutch scholar and humanist Desiderius Erasmus led to an intensification of literary activity in The Netherlands and throughout Europe. Like most of the educated elite of that time, Erasmus wrote in Latin. His aim was to reclaim the classics of ancient Greek and Latin literature that had been largely forgotten during the Middle Ages. His book The Praise of Folie, a biting satire on many of the abuses of his age, was printed in Paris in 1511 and quickly brought him European fame.

Two later writers, Dirk Volkertszoon Coornhert and Philip van Marnix, directly influenced the so-called Golden Age of Dutch literature by writing in the Dutch language. Coornhert wrote poetry, drama, and prose, including a manual of ethics called Zedekunst (1586). Marnix is the author of one of the most acrimonious satires ever written against the Roman Catholic Church, Biencorf der heiligher Roomscher kercke (1569; The Beehive of the Romish Church, 1578?).

Article key phrases:

Heinrich von Veldeke, didactic poetry, Eneit, Roman poet Virgil, French words, literary forms, Aeneid, epic poem, Aeneas, Dido, Dutch language, treatises, Beehive, Lowlands, Latin literature, Roman Catholic Church, prose, abuses, Middle Ages, Netherlands, Paris, masterpiece, aim, history, time, poetry, drama, work, romance, century, government, book, author, half, writers

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