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The first characteristic is chivalry. This deals with knights and their code of honor, which included being of service, being honest, and helping those less fortunate.
The second characteristic is magic. This came in many forms, especially in what we would consider today as the supernatural. If you look to the Arthurian legends, Merlin is at the forefront of the stories' magic, making people invisible or making himself appear out of thin air.
The third characteristic is love. A knight's love for a woman knew no bounds. He would face a dragon or the strongest knight to win the favor of the woman he loved or to save her.
You may find other characteristics, but these are generally the three main characteristics, while the others are simply examples of the three listed above.
The Middle Ages saw the beginnings of a rebirth in literature. Early medieval books were painstakingly hand-copied and illustrated by monks. Paper was a rarity, with vellum, made from calf's skin, and parchment, made from lamb's skin, were the media of choice for writing. Students learning to write used wooden tablets covered in green or black wax. The greatest number of books during this era were bound with plain wooden boards, or with simple tooled leather for more expensive volumes.
Wandering scholars and poets traveling to the Crusades learned of new writing styles. Courtly Love spawned a new interest in romantic prose. Troubadours sang in medieval courtyards about epic battles involving Roland, Arthur, and Charlemagne. Literature exploded from the universities as scholars began to question convention and write social commentary, as well as poetic fiction.
Language saw further development during the Middle Ages. Capital and lowercase letters were developed with rules for each. Books were treasures, rarely shown openly in a library, but rather, kept safely under lock and key. Finding someone who might loan you a book was a true friend. Some might rent out their books, while others, desperate for cash, might turn to the book as a valuable item to be pawned.
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