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90% of English medieval chivalry and heroism manuscripts have been LOST


It's very likely you've heard of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table – but how many other medieval English heroic or chivalric stories could you name?

If the answer is none, you've now got the perfect excuse, as research has revealed that a whopping 90 per cent of these tales have been lost in England.

Researchers from Oxford University have analysed the survival of medieval stories across Europe, and found extremely varying results.

In England, 90 per cent of medieval stories have been lost, while in Iceland and Ireland, three quarters of tales survive to this day.

The researchers suggest the huge loss of these stories in England may be caused by a range of factors, including the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, which scattered many libraries.

While the model suggests that 90 per cent of books were lost in England, it was a very different story for other countries in Europe.

Irish books were the best preserved, with around 81 per cent of romances and adventure tales surviving today – compared to only 38 per cent of similar works in English.

And over in Iceland, 77 per cent of medieval romances and adventure tales survived, as well as 17 per cent of manuscripts.

The researchers hope the findings will shed new light on England's ties to continental Europe in the Middle Ages, and the influence of wider European culture on English writing.