In this contribution attention is drawn to printed Middle-Dutch romances of chivalry. It is also a plea for a more diachronic approach in the field, with a more open outlook towards the post-medieval period and what is happening in European literature elsewhere. Printed romances of chivalry were popular from the 15th to the 19th and even the early 20th centuries. This rich corpus of many dozens of texts has received little scholarly attention so far. The invention of the printing press facilitated the international transmission and exchange of printed romances. In the 16th century Spain becomes especially influential. The Amadis, which appeared in translation between 1546 and 1624 in 21 volumes, held the Dutch Republic captive for more than a century. This enormously long romance in prose was being read by educated people and by young students in the schools. This group of readers was also familiar with the more traditional printed romances, which were considerably cheaper and which, after the 16th century, also reached the more general reading public. The study of the printed romances of chivalry should be most efficiently conducted within the literary context of printed romances in prose in general, lyrical poetry, drama and historiography, with special attention to be given in particular to the role of the Chambers of Rhetoric. A number of the Middle-Dutch romances of chivalry that made it into print can be traced to a group of romances dating back to ca. 1300 A.D., which are characterized by a markedly realistic geography. At the other end of the chronological spectrum it remains to be seen whether, and to what extent, this kind of texts influenced the 19th-century Romantic picture of the medieval past.
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