A tale in prose or verse the incidents of which are hung upon what is marvellous and fictitious. These tales were originally written in the Romance language (q.v.), and the expression, “In Romance we read,” came in time to refer to the tale, and not to the language in which it was told.
It is misleading to call such poetical tales as the Bride of Abydos, Lalla Rookh, and the Chansons of the Mouvères, etc., Romances.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
More on Romance from Infoplease: