Romance – ‘In the Roman style’

It being valentine’s day, I thought I would explain the very essence of romance, well the word anyway.

Romance, in its current usage, dates back to the 1650s, where it (of course) came from the French, who used the word ‘Romantique’ to refer to a romantic story characterised by an idealised love affair. The French word was an evolution of the old French ‘Romanz’ which actually meant ‘verse narrative’. There are references from the 1300s where the word is used to refer to an adventure story with heroes and maidens and the such, so here it was used to mean, any story with idealised views.

Here is where it gets really interesting, the word Romanz was offensive slang, it is a derivative of the Latin ‘romancibe scribere’, basically ‘In the roman style’ which was a sort of put down meaning that Latin was better than French, ‘romanicibe scribere’ meant ‘This story is good quality, not like that rubbish you read in the French language’.


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