(Hey! I do the same thing.)
But how about fairy tales? (Which Tolkien detested if they got too sweet-and-cute.) They too are filled with castles, swords, princesses, and the like, both in their original (or semi-original) version and in the many modern retellings and new creations. So it's not surprising that when readers move up from the Big-Little Book O' Fairytales to fantasy, they look for medieval settings.
Why so many medieval settings? Well, a lot of it isn't actually medieval but nineteenth-century. As I discussed in my previous post, a lot of life for a lot of people didn't really change from the Middle Ages until sometime in the 1800s. And at the same time as their life was changing, there was a strong desire for an imaginary simpler world, without all the upheaval and pollution. Fairy tales and folk tales came into their own.
Some of what we now consider "classic" fairy tales date to the seventeenth century in France (like "Puss in Boots" and "Cinderella"). But the big era of fairy/folk tales was the nineteenth century, when the still semi-medieval social milieu, an image of a golden (and medieval) past, and strange creations like the butterfly-winged fairy seen above (dating to the 1880s), all came together.
The biggest collections of folk tales known now to modern English-speakers are those of Grimm and of Hans Christian Anderson, respectively German and Danish (they are of course known in translation). These were not fairy tales per se (no butterfly-winged ladies), but rather tales of the folk, the ordinary people, who were considered to represent the wholesome traditional values that were being undermined by cities and factories and hence needed to be recorded and honored.
Here's a French folk tale, recorded in the nineteenth century, that doesn't get told to children.
A man wondered why his neighbor suddenly seemed quite wealthy. He sneaked over and spied. The neighbor had a little rag doll, and when he said, "Crap little rag doll, crap," it would crap silver coins. So the man stole it and took it home.
"Crap, little rag doll, crap!" he cried, and the doll crapped all over him. (Hilarity ensues.)
So he threw it on the dungheap, but one day he was on the dungheap himself, doing what he'd come to do, and the rag doll rolled over and bit him right where it would do the most damage. (More hilarity.)
Okay, every generation finds somewhat different things tasteful and hilarious.
© C. Dale Brittain 2020
For more on medieval and modern history, see my ebook, Positively Medieval: Life and Society in the Middle Ages.