French texts were written in northern Italy from the beginning of the 13th century through the 15th, with the greatest flowering during the 14th century.
French texts produced and circulated within the Franco-Italian literary community were of three types:
1. Original works written in Franco-Italian;
2. Works translated from Latin or other Languages into Franco-Italian;
3. Works copied from France in French for use by native speakers of Italian.
All of these literary products were circulating within the
Franco-Italian community, and were in fact competitive linguistic options for readers, writers, and listeners within these communities. Original works in Franco-Italian and those translated into Franco-Italian were most often
Romance Epic texts including:
1. The “Matière de France,” with members from the court of Carolingian France as the central character,
2. The “Matière de Bretagne,” centered around the character of Arthur, and the knights of the Round Table,
3. The “Matière de Rome (or Matière Antiqua),” which interpreted and reinterpreted historical and mythological sources related to the story of Greece and Rome.
but the repertoire also contained works that were
Historical, Didactic, and Religious in nature.
There has been much discussion about the status of Franco-Italian (or Franco-Venetian, or Franco-Lombard) as separate from what is considered "standard" French. Although there is a clear difference among all the various forms, manuscript evidence suggests that many readers of Franco-Italian and its variations could also understand French. Franco-Italian was written rather than conversational, although many Franco-Italian works, and the epic romances in particular, were probably read aloud. One prevailing theory of the development of Franco-Italian is that it was created to help Italian listeners understand the popular romance stories that came to Italy in French texts. Occitan texts were also produced and circulated within this community, starting as early as the twelfth century, but the lingua d'Oc was employed in more restricted terms in the Italian context, both generically and over time, and so is considered only briefly in this website.