[n., adj. roh-mans, roh-mans; v. roh-mans]
romance [O.Fr.,=something written in the popular language, i.e., a Romance language]. The roman of the Middle Ages was a form of chivalric and romantic literature widely diffused throughout Europe from the 11th cent. With the Provençal troubadours the roman was a form of narrative, originally sung but later recited before courts. The trouvères lengthened these into the chansons de geste and the romans d'aventures, or romances of love and adventure. It is from the latter class that the modern romance descends (see novel).

See studies by A. B. Taylor (1930, repr. 1969), G. Beer (1970), and E. Vinaver (1971).

Literary form that developed in the aristocratic courts of mid-12th-century France and had its heyday in France and Germany between the mid-12th and mid-13th century in the works of such masters as Chrétien de Troyes and Gottfried von Strassburg. The staple subject matter is chivalric adventure (see chivalry), though love stories and religious allegories are sometimes interwoven. Most romances draw their plots from classical history and legend, Arthurian legend, and the adventures of Charlemagne and his knights. Written in the vernacular, they share a taste for the exotic, the remote, and the miraculous. Lingering echoes of the form can be found in later centuries, as in the Romanticism of the 18th–19th century and today's popular romantic novels.

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Group of related languages derived from Latin, with nearly 920 million native speakers. The major Romance languages—French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian—are national languages. French is probably the most internationally significant, but Spanish, the official language of 19 American countries and Spain and Equatorial Guinea, has the most speakers. Languages spoken in smaller areas include Catalan, Occitan, Sardinian, and Rhaeto-Romance. The Romance languages began as dialects of Vulgar Latin, which spread during the Roman occupation of Italy, the Iberian Peninsula, Gaul, and the Balkans and developed into separate languages in the 5th–9th centuries. Later, European colonial and commercial contacts spread them to the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

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