From Marcus Bull, Thinking Medieval: An Introduction to the Study of the Middle Ages:
What lies under the surface of Mock [the pseudo-medieval speech beloved of films and Medieval Times dinner theatre and Renaissance Fairs], the thing that makes it sound all right even though only a moment's reflection exposes its ludicrous conceit, is the unspoken sense that medieval people were very odd and they knew it. Mock has the effect of casting medieval men and women as the dimly self-aware spokespersons of a sense of difference and detachment that in reality, of course, only exists in our modern perception of them, not in their contemporary awareness. They probably could not quite put their finger on it, so Mock implies, but they somehow sensed that they were primitive, crude, or whatever stereotype one wants to apply, and that better times, progress, lay somewhere in the future. Mock, in other words, makes medieval people sound like actors in their own costume drama. (138)
Why post such a quote, other than its inherent interest and fun use of the word Mock? Well, I'm halfway through a book that argues medieval people were in fact perfectly capable of grasping the ridiculousness of their own performance of the self:
For example, at what point if ever might it have occurred to twelfth-century French courtiers that a room decked out in rugs, silks and other finery might look less like an affirmation of the prestige of that milieu than evidence of medieval vernacular cultures as aquisitive, shoulder-chipped wannabes in relation to the wealth and sophistication of of their Byzantine and Islamic neighbours? The question that then arises is how self-conscious that appropriation was, how alive or occluded the strangeness internal to the senses of self they constructed were as well as how evolved was the reflection on how troubling or useful different sources of strangeness could be. (15)
That quote is from this book by James R. Simpson. More anon.