The anthology begins with Gottschalk, whose moving poem to a young novice prefigures the love poetry that had been silent since the end of the Roman Empire, but which would break forth with renewed energy in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. A poem often called the first love poem of the modern world, O admirabile Veneris idolum, follows hard on Gottschalk’s work. Although the main purpose of the anthology is to present the vernacular secular lyric, one cannot ignore Latin literature in the middle Ages and the influence of the hymn. Any starting point is somewhat arbitrary, but the year 850 has been selected because by that time Europe had experienced the Carolingian Revival under King Charlemagne, and a new spirit of humanism was operating under the mystical Christianity that had dominated thought for centuries.